If you have nothing else to worry about over the next few days…

Scientists say a 1-ton research satellite will crash to Earth in the next few days but they aren’t sure where.

The Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer satellite will descend from an altitude of about 100 miles…

European Space Agency officials said when its about 50 miles above Earth, it will break apart and most of the pieces will burn up before they hit the ground Sunday or Monday.

A total of about 440 pounds of fragments of the satellite are expected to hit the ground.

“At present we can not say where the re-entry is going to happen except that it is not going to happen north of the 85 northern latitude or south of 85 southern latitude,” said Professor Heiner Klinkrad of the ESA.

“We are in contact with national civil protection agencies throughout Europe, of ESA member states, so they get all the information we have on the re-entry prediction and that also includes information on emergencies in case parts of the satellite fall on inhabited areas.”

So, if this piece of space junk lands on you – the appropriate civil authorities will know where to find your body. Whatever is left after impact. 🙂

Seeking overwhelming choices in electoral politics

Matthew Dowd [right] talking to a Republican who will never leave the past

One big way I have changed is how I look at politics, governing and, ultimately, all relationships. In the past I was very adept when I worked in campaigns on both sides of the aisle in coming up with strategies and tactics that would provide a candidate or a legislative effort with just enough votes to win. We call it the 51 percent effort. You figure out the coalition to just barely win, then create the campaign to achieve that. And this is what is employed in most instances in nearly every campaign and legislative effort.

And it is these 51 percent campaigns that have helped contribute to a very divided and polarized country. I have remorse over my own involvement in them. Today I believe our country needs something more, and something very different. We need to design campaigns and policy efforts that will receive overwhelming support…

These 51 percent campaigns have contributed to a lack of governing ability by politicians from the White House to state houses around the country. Without real mandates or without having run campaigns targeted at a huge majority, leaders are left with very little room for error and political capital. So many leaders are faced with 49% of the voters totally out of sync with their leadership, and they have difficult time governing, floundering throughout their terms…

And turning to our personal lives, I have come to the same conclusion that we shouldn’t settle for bare majorities in the choices we make in life. In the few big decisions we get to make in this world from who we choose as partners or companions to the work we do, we should strive to make decisions that are from a place of overwhelming joy. We shouldn’t be putting together a balance-sheet approach to these decisions that, when calculated, barely get us in the positive direction.

I disagree with half of Matthew Dowd’s analysis. Yes, I agree about the 51% – not about why we are where we are.

The essentials of his analysis presumes both halves of our shoddy two-party-limited electoral system are equally interested in moving living standards forward as a nation. That hasn’t been the case in decades. The decline began with the adoption of the Southern Strategy by Nixon and the Republican Party.

Before that, the racist vote in the United States belonged to the Democrats. It was an inheritance that traveled a convoluted path from the Civil War up into the start of FDR’s New Deal. Nixon saw the Democrats were becoming an instrument of equal opportunity. And he realized he could fire the coals of racism and take the electoral loyalty of disaffected whites over to the party that didn’t care at all about their economic lot – but, would feed on their ignorance and hatred.

Time passes and regardless of success and failure, the progressive movement ain’t going away. Building a better life on Earth is still the most natural way to live. And, so, the equally natural reaction of that class of people profiting from bigotry and hatred has been to fight the most stubborn retreat in American history.

As I would expect of someone who lives like the old-fashioned Christians I grew up with, Matthew Dowd also applies his philosophy to the non-political side of his life. Frankly, that works pretty well. Get folks away from the ideology they’ve been sold to govern the political side of their lives and humanity takes hold on its own. An important conclusion he draws from his own experience. For that he deserves respect and praise.

Rejoice — More chocolate means less body fat!

In what may be the best news for chocoholics since scientists at the University of Cambridge found that higher chocolate consumption was associated with a significant reduction in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke, researchers at the University of Granada are reporting that it’s also associated with lower levels of total fat deposits – in the bodies of adolescents at least.

The researchers from the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences at the University of Granada conducted a study comprising 1,458 European adolescents aged between 12 and 17 years old and found that not only did higher chocolate consumption not lead to an increase in fat deposits in the participants, but it was actually associated with lower levels of total fat – fat deposits all over the body and central-abdominal fat – regardless of physical activity and diet…

The researchers suggest the results could be partly due to catechins, a type of flavonoid that chocolate is especially rich in that boasts multiple health benefits and influences cortisol production and insulin sensitivity in the body. “They have important antioxidant, antithrombotic, anti-inflammatory and antihypertensive effects and can help prevent ischemic heart disease,” explains Magdalena Cuenca-García who was the principle author of the study…

The researchers warn that, as with most things, chocolate should be consumed in moderation.

“In moderate quantities, chocolate can be good for you, as our study has shown. But, undoubtedly, excessive consumption is prejudicial. As they say: you can have too much of a good thing.”

The team’s study is published in the journal Nutrition. It’s $31+ for civilians like me to get a copy, right now. I’ll wait.

There are factors I’d love to know. Most of all – how chocolate was their chocolate? I presume that since the study was performed in Europe they used dark chocolate. A plus. But, how much? Most of the chocolate I consume is 72% cocoa – since that seems to be a benchmark minimum for healthy chocolate.