Saturday, March 9, 2013


Locust always brings to me images of Biblical plagues. Wrath of the Almighty visiting punishment on the sinful. No matter what ancient peoples believed brought them this plague, the devastation caused by  created hunger and suffering. If that was not enough, the fear of a return of locust and being helpless.

Anyway, them little buggers are still active.

Locusts arrive in Tel Aviv, northern Israel

After swarms of grasshoppers swooped en masse on south, few manage to make way to center and even north of country.

Despite an additional round of insecticide spraying in the south, Saturday saw swarms of the reddish grasshoppers descend upon the country, with some successfully making their way out of the south and into the center, and even northern parts of Israel.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, "These are a handful of locusts that have already been in the country since the beginning of the week.

"In small numbers they are harmless," the ministry promised, expressing hope that "from this point on, we won't see any more massive swarms." It cited the completion of an additional round of insecticide fumigation Saturday.

Those locusts already in the country are described as a small pack and not a massive swarm. This group arrived in the Negev earlier this week causing massive damages to crops, estimated at the hundreds of thousands.

Apparently strong winds aided some members of this locust pack in making their way to the center of the country, with a few minor swarms successfully even making it all the way to the north.

Army Soldier Cupcakes, no go at School

CARO (CBS Detroit) A 9-year-old boy’s birthday cupcakes sparked a school controversy that just keeps growing, with scores of people lining up against a school principal who found the cupcake’s topping “inappropriate.”I realize the United States is a large country and it should not come as a shock that there are some really lame people. What is most disturbing is many of them are school teachers and principals.

Cupcakes With Army Soldiers Get Kid In Hot Water At School

The boy was chided, and so were his parents, for cupcakes featuring little green Army men on the top.
Schall Elementary School principal Susan Wright called the parents at home and said the cupcakes were insensitive in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting. School staff pulled off the Army men before they were served.
The parents reacted by calling the media.
And the principal, who refused to speak publicly on the issue, issued an extensive statement that said, in part
“In the climate of recent events in schools we walk a delicate balance in teaching non-violence in our buildings and trying to ensure a safe, peaceful atmosphere. On one hand, there are those who advocate arming teachers, having armed security guards and creating a fortress of defense in our schools. On the other hand, there are those who feel that guns create fear in schools and we need to put solid security measures in place  plus practice routines to be prepared in case an emergency should ever occur. Living in a democratic society entails respect for opposing opinions.”
Martial arts instructor Josh Brown, who teaches both the father and son through his school at Caro Martial Arts, is one of the outraged local residents.
“He’s a little 9-year-old kid and it was his birthday cupcakes,” Brown said. “These guys (soldiers) are heroes, and too many people are confusing them with psychopaths.”

Kids Beg for ‘More Fruits, Vegetables’

Problem with people like Michele Obama is they think they can change human nature to fit their  agenda.

( – First Lady Michelle Obama said she can “imagine” an America where businesses promote the “healthiest options” so children will be “begging and pleading” for fruits and vegetables, adding that “it is possible to create” such a world.

“Imagine walking into any grocery store in America and finding the healthiest options clearly marked and centrally placed so that you know within seconds what’s good for your family when you walk in that store,” Mrs. Obama said. “Imagine opening up a menu in any restaurant and knowing exactly what items will give your family the most nutrition for your hard-earned dollar.”

Imagine where the know it all wisenheimers just shut up and quit acting as if the rest of us are all just stupid. Nobody elected her to open her mouth. 

No Solar Storm ! ?

Maybe the worry warts who believe they can control Earth's weather can put their minds together and do something for the Sun. I find anything to do with our Sun fascinating.

The calm before the solar storm? NASA warns 'something unexpected is happening to the Sun' 

2013 was due to be year of the 'solar maximum'

  • As this picture shows, in fact the sun is incredibly calm - baffling experts

Something unexpected' is happening on the Sun, Nasa has warned. 
This year was supposed to be the year of 'solar maximum,' the peak of the 11-year sunspot cycle. 
But as this image reveals, solar activity is relatively low.

'Sunspot numbers are well below their values from 2011, and strong solar flares have been infrequent,' the space agency says.
The image above shows the Earth-facing surface of the Sun on February 28, 2013, as observed by the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.
It observed just a few small sunspots on an otherwise clean face, which is usually riddled with many spots during peak solar activity.
Experts have been baffled by the apparent lack of activity - with many wondering if NASA simply got it wrong.
However, Solar physicist Dean Pesnell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center believes he has a different explanation.
'This is solar maximum,' he says. 
'But it looks different from what we expected because it is double-peaked.'
'The last two solar maxima, around 1989 and 2001, had not one but two peaks.' 
Solar activity went up, dipped, then rose again, performing a mini-cycle that lasted about two years, he said.

The calm before the solar storm?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Comet Sliding Spring & Mars near Miss

No doubt sooner or later your will read sensationalized reports of a comet which possibly may crash into the planet Mars.

Once again, the news business is creating a sensation for profit. As you read your local rags, take note on how they report this non news.

I find the event interesting, but then I find solar flares,  eclipses of the Sun by Mercury interesting. Just not news worthy or particularly exciting..

Anyway, here is some straight dope on the event.

Comet to whiz past Mars

in October 2014

Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring)'s trajectory past Mars
C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will pass extremely close to Mars on October 19, 2014. This orbital diagram was based on slightly older observational data that showed the closest approach happening on October 20. The comet will be coming up from south of the ecliptic in a direction opposite to that of Mars'. (The orbits are drawn in dark colors where they dip below the ecliptic, and bright colors when they rise above the ecliptic. Since Earth's orbit is, by definition, in the ecliptic, its orbit is bright everywhere.)

When astronomers report the distances between two objects in space, they are almost always referring to the distances of the centers of the two objects. Distances are usually so great in space that this is a perfectly fine approximation that greatly simplifies calculations. But in cases like this one, you can't make that approximation anymore; you have to account for the size of Mars, which is roughly 7000 kilometers in diameter. So the comet will be passing within 38,000 kilometers of Mars' surface. That is very, very close.  Note though that the uncertainty in the orbit is such that the possibility of a Mars impact can't yet be ruled out, though it's very unlikely.
How close is 38,000 kilometers? One way we talk about that for close passes by Earth is to compare the distance to that of Earth-orbiting satellites. If it were Earth, 38,000 kilometers would be within the orbit of geosynchronous satellites. At Mars there are no geosynchronous satellites, and if there were, they'd be in a closer orbit, at 20,000 kilometers. So it's outside that distance. Probably more relevant is the question of whether there are any satellites at Mars that do get out to 38,000 kilometers; the answer to that is no. Mars Express has the largest orbit, and it gets to an altitude of about 10,000 kilometers. All the other active orbiters are down closer to 300 or 400 kilometers. So there's not likely to be a direct hazard to spacecraft in the form of a potential impact.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Rhinoplasty (nose jobs) in Iran

Never really gave it much thought, rhinoplasty much less any type of plastic surgery in Iran. A country which insists on modesty for women, I a surprised a so many women going for the cosmetic surgery, where far as I am concerned is to make them more attractive.

Vanity and boredom fuel Iran's nose job boom

Surgical plaster encasing Goli Abadi's nose was the only blemish on a face of otherwise radiant beauty. One of a growing number of Iranians to fall prey to the national trend for cosmetic surgery, the 21-year-old
unemployed dental hygienist had a prosaic, if suspiciously defensive, explanation.
"I had a broken nose when I was a child at kindergarten," Ms Abadi said. "I was hit on the face by a swing and it left a small hump in my nose. Otherwise, I would never have had this operation."
The only flaw in Ms Abadi's tale was its familiarity. Another young woman, Laila, 23, her face bruised and eyes bloodshot from a similar nose operation, recounted an almost identical childhood story. "After my accident I had problems breathing," she said. "I couldn't sleep lying on my front and always had to lie on my back."
The parallel explanations represent a curious twist in one of modern Iran's most visible social trends. The streets of Tehran abound with young people - mostly, but not exclusively, women - with their noses in plaster from the effects of surgery.
The phenomenon reflects a competitive urge among fashion-conscious Iranians to put their cosmetic handiwork on display. According to doctors, some even wear nose plasters as a status symbol without actually having had the operation.
But that openness is not matched by frankness about the motivations for surgery. "They all come with the excuse that they have had an accident, that they have breathing problems, that they have a deviation inside," said one Tehran specialist.
Whatever her own reasons, Ms Abadi waxed effusive on those of her cohorts. "I call it a virus," she said. "Nearly all of my friends have had nose operations. It's just competition among the girls to look more beautiful. I think it's very stupid. It also helps people to pass the time."