The sky is falling, erm – will you be reading this blog, tomorrow?

The earth could be hit by a wave of violent space weather as early as Tuesday after a massive explosion of the sun, scientists have warned.

The solar fireworks at the weekend were recorded by several satellites, including Nasa’s new Solar Dynamics Observatory which watched its shock wave rippling outwards.

Astronomers from all over the world witnessed the huge flare above a giant sunspot the size of the Earth, which they linked to an even larger eruption across the surface of Sun.

The explosion was aimed directly towards Earth, which then sent a “solar tsunami” racing 93 million miles across space.

Images from the SDO hint at a shock wave travelling from the flare into space, the New Scientist reported.

Experts said the wave of supercharged gas will likely reach the Earth on Tuesday, when it will buffet the natural magnetic shield protecting Earth…

It remains unclear, however, how much damage this latest eruption will cause the world’s communication tools.

We might see the Aurora Borealis at lower latitudes.

Here in the states, we might miss the 2nd leg of the preliminary round of the CONCACAF Champions League match between Motagua v Toronto FC.

You might not even have access to the musings of the crew [gasp!].

U.S. Marines’ shift from Japan to Guam set for 2014

This was a positive step – in 1944

The shift of 8,600 U.S. Marines from Japan to Guam, a hot political issue in Tokyo, is on track for 2014 despite concerns the island lacks infrastructure to meet the target, a U.S. official said.

David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office administering the build-up, was speaking to Reuters after the release of a study on how the move will affect the North Pacific island’s ecological balance, including large coral reefs.

The shifting of the U.S. forces, which at its peak could add 41,000 to the U.S. territory’s population of about 175,000, would bring more than $10 billion in construction and investment…

What? Does every Marine in the move have four family members coming with him?

The move is part of a broader 2006 accord to reorganize U.S. troops in Japan, including relocation of the Marines’ Futenma airbase on Okinawa to a quieter part of that Japanese island…

Okinawans associate Futenma with noise, pollution and crime…All benefits of adding Americans to your population.

Lying 2,400 km (1,500 miles) south of Japan, Guam is made up of the peaks of two ancient volcanoes, including Mount Lamlam, described by local officials as the highest mountain in the world if measured from its base at the bottom of the Marianas Trench…

The study said officials were considering options to limit damage, including construction of an artificial reef.

How about a truly radical idea? Bring the troops home!

World War 2 has been over for more than a few months. As has been the Cold War. The only military requirement for stashing our troops all over the world is to have a Panzer Guard handy to prop up imperial flunkies, threatening every smaller nation that gets in the way of the Oil Patch Boys, making the world safe for United Fruit, etc..

Bring ’em home, Obama. Show our nation what leadership really can accomplish.

Where do you want your ashes to go?

Want to be cremated, but worry that your ashes will just end up sitting in some boring urn?

Fear not! Have a look at these 10 bizarre places that ashes have gone.

1. Into a comic book

When longtime Marvel Comics editor Mark Gruenwald died in 1996, he left an interesting final wish: he wanted to have his ashes mixed into the ink used in one of Marvel’s titles. The company obliged by reprinting a 1985 collection of the Gruenwald-penned Squadron Supreme with the specially prepared ink in 1997. Gruenwald’s widow, Catherine, wrote in the book’s foreword, “He has truly become one with the story.”

2. Into fireworks

Writer Hunter S. Thompson literally went out with a bang. Thompson’s appropriately gonzo 2005 memorial service featured a fireworks show in which each boom and crack dispersed some of the writer’s ashes. Johnny Depp underwrote the fireworks display at a cost of $2 million.

3. Into a Pringles can

The name Fredric Baur may not ring any bells, but you know his most famous creation. In 1966 Baur invented the Pringles can so Procter & Gamble could ship its new chips without using bags.

Baur was so proud of the achievement that he told his children he wanted to be buried in the iconic can. When he died in 2008 at 89, they honored his wishes by placing his ashes in a Pringles can before burying them…

It’s a great list. Though I probably wouldn’t consider this last one:

10. Up Keith Richards’ nose?

In 2007 music mag NME asked Rolling Stones guitarist to name the strangest thing he’d ever snorted. The reporter was probably expecting an odd answer given Richards’ legendary proclivity for partying, but Richards’ response was a jaw-dropper.

Richards told the magazine, “The strangest thing I’ve tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father. He was cremated and I couldn’t resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow.”


RNC throws teabagger Breitbart under the bus

The Republican National Committee has canceled a fundraiser with conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who is under fire for promoting an edited video that falsely portrays former Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod as having boasted about discriminating against a white farmer looking for her assistance.

Breitbart was scheduled to appear with RNC Chairman Michael Steele at a reception later this month in Beverly Hills…

The spokesman said the fundraiser was cancelled “To better capitalize on the fall fundraising season that happens post-Labor Day, while also lowering costs by utilizing existing trips to California.”

Michael Steele is concerned about lowering costs?

Breitbart has been under fire for posting the video clip of Sherrod that led to a rush to judgment and Sherrod’s forced resignation. She was later vindicated when her speech to a chapter of the NAACP was shown in full.

I look forward to the exercise in sophistry requiring neocons and libertarians to defend both the RNC and Breitbart.

US-Canada Arctic border central to exploiting maritime riches

Like a couple of cop cars in a parking lot sharing doughnuts

Canada and the United States are beginning a five-week joint Arctic survey, part of which will take place in a section of the energy-rich Beaufort Sea that is claimed by both countries.

The survey is intended to help the neighbours determine the extent of their continental shelves.

The bi-national study is part of an ongoing race by the Arctic nations – the US, Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark – to gather evidence to submit claims under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

It could grant them exploitation rights to potential energy and mineral wealth above and below the sea floor.

Currently, coastal nations can claim exploitation rights in an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – a 200-mile (322km) nautical area beyond their land territory.

If the Arctic nations can prove that their submerged territory extends beyond 200 miles, they could gain access to vast untapped resources which lie beneath the pristine waters of the polar region…

The most absurd crap rationale for exploitation and profit since the 19th Century.

Continue reading

In India, using Facebook to catch thoughtless drivers

“Vehicle overloaded with goods and passengers”

Delhi – This city is famous for its snarled traffic and infamous for its unruly drivers — aggressive rule-breakers who barrel through red lights, ignore crosswalks and veer into bicycle or bus lanes to find open routes.

Now, the city’s overburdened traffic police officers have enlisted an unexpected weapon in the fight against dangerous driving: Facebook.

The traffic police started a Facebook page two months ago, and almost immediately residents became digital informants, posting photos of their fellow drivers violating traffic laws. As of Sunday more than 17,000 people had become fans of the page and posted almost 3,000 photographs and dozens of videos.

The online rap sheet was impressive. There are photos of people on motorcycles without helmets, cars stopped in crosswalks, drivers on cellphones, drivers in the middle of illegal turns and improperly parked vehicles.

Using the pictures, the Delhi Traffic Police have issued 665 tickets, using the license plate numbers shown in the photos to track vehicle owners, said the city’s joint commissioner of traffic, Satyendra Garg.

Despite some concerns about privacy, and the authenticity of the photos, the public’s response has been overwhelmingly positive, he said…

Mr. Garg acknowledged that it was possible photos could be manipulated to incriminate someone who was not actually breaking the law. But, he said, drivers can contest the tickets if they think they were wrongly issued. The police advise residents not to let personal animosity influence their photo-taking, and not to do anything to compromise their own security, like antagonizing law-breakers while snapping photos.

I love it. American society is so afraid someone’s privacy might be compromised, say, versus catching some SOB who just ran a red light and almost killed six kids – red light cameras are becoming illegal.

The nearest city to Lot 4 has a photo van which cost $50K – which they park by the side of the road in different trouble spots every day – after they notify the local press where it will be.

Delhi has the equivalent of dozens of photo vans for the cost of a couple of coppers taking a few minutes to check their Facebook page, every day.

Reality TV + cosmetic surgery = same gullible market

Teenage years have long been linked with a heightened concern with appearance. Some reality TV shows take full advantage and tout happiness as just a nip/tuck away. A Rutgers–Camden psychologist has found that teens fond of these kinds of programs are more likely to join the millions who go under the knife each year. For bodies – and minds – still in development, these drastic decisions could have implications way after prom…

“When we think of cosmetic surgery, we don’t think of it as a lifetime issue. There is lots of pressure to look a certain way and I don’t blame them for succumbing; we’re all guilty of feeling vulnerable. But what young men and women think of their bodies now will culminate over time and contribute to their overall health,” notes the Rutgers–Camden psychologist. “What troubles me is that there’s no conclusive data that cosmetic surgery even makes people happier, what has been documented is that it makes repeat customers…”

As the Rutgers–Camden researcher suspected, women were more likely to want cosmetic surgery than men and viewers of the cosmetic surgery show were more inclined to consider the procedure for themselves than those who didn’t tune in. What still shocks Markey are the handwritten responses to the cosmetic surgery show, including comments like “inspirational” and “I saw an unhappy girl get her dreams.”

This saddens Markey because outward appearance seems to be the sole avenue to self satisfaction and this road, she believes, is circular. “If plastic surgery makes you feel better about yourself, then why do you keep getting it done?” she asks. “This mindset is very similar to that of an anorexic wanting to lose just five more pounds…”

Conformity for the sake of “fitting in” is mind-numbing enough. Conformity to external lookalike socialbots with no sense of individual decision or understanding – only results in imitations of marionettes.

Golems made to look and act like cartoon characters. Not even real human beings.