The Space Shuttle Discovery is set to launch tomorrow at 9:39:00 (South Bend time), which is 10:39 EDT (East Coast time) and 7:39 PDT (West Coast time). NASA still hasn’t figured out what exactly caused the fuel gauge problem that caused the previous delay of this launch, but they’ve decided to go ahead with it anyway, judging it’s not enough of a risk to justify halting the flight. The odds of a Columbia-like catastrophe are estimated at 1 in 100, which sounds reasonable; spaceflight isn’t supposed to be risk-free, after all.
P.S. Complete coverage here, including a webcast.
I rode the bus to work this morning, and, wow, the sky as I approached South Bend was quite a sight. An intense line of thunderstorms was just south of the city, and I have rarely seen such dark, ominous-looking clouds:
I saw several cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, too, but it was the clouds that really got me. Honestly, it felt kinda like we were driving into the Apocalypse.
After the bus arrived, I stood outside for a couple of minutes, taking pictures. Some guy noticed me as he strolled by on the sidewalk, and in contrast to the normal bemused reaction of people who see me taking random pictures of the sky :), he seemed to understand exactly what I was doing and why. I believe he said something like, “Man, those are some clouds, huh?” Anyway, this was the view from just outside my office, looking across the street:
When I got into the office, I told my co-worker and fellow rising 2L Justin about it (and showed him some of my photos on the little digital-camera screen), and he decided he’d like to go have a look. I let him take the camera, and — lo and behold — less than ten minutes after I had taken the last of my pictures, the scene had totally changed. Now the creepy part wasn’t the ominous black clouds on the horizon, but the swirling, turbulent clouds directly overhead:
Justin said he felt like he was in War of the Worlds, and the aliens were going to beam him up at any moment. Heh. I can see why. As Justin would say, “Golly.” :)
The actual bad weather stayed south of the city, though. We got a sky show, but that was it. Here are a couple of animated radar loops that I saved from Weather Underground: one of the storm approaching South Bend, and one of it leaving the area and eventually crossing into Ohio.
Oh, and here’s another kind of radar loop, showing the Doppler-estimated wind speed as the storm rolled through the area. The winds in Plymouth, Nappanee and surrounding areas appear to have been nearly hurricane force.
You can view my full photo gallery here.
You know, I really think James Lileks has put his finger on a significant social/political phenomenon, and has described it perfectly, when he writes about “the perennial youts who never outgrow the opinions they had when they first woke up and said ‘I’m twenty. I get it.’”
Lileks’s whole post is entertaining and worth reading, by the way. (And “youts” are “youths,” if anyone isn’t getting that.)
Also worth reading, though more serious, is this article. I mention it in the same breath as Lileks’s post only because it, too, contains a memorable and highlyusing quip: “Kennedy appears to be arguing that our tolerance of our own tolerance is making us intolerant of other people’s intolerance, which is intolerable.” Heh.
Pope Benedict XVI prayed on Sunday for God to stop the “murderous hand” of terrorists, but apparently he singled out only Egypt, Britain, Turkey and Iraq — not Israel — as the victims of recent “abhorrent terrorist attacks.” This despite the July 12 Netanya bombing, which killed five people.
“We feel that now that there is a new pope, we need to turn over a new leaf and change the fact that the Vatican refrained in the past from condemning attacks here,” [Israeli Foreign Ministry official Nimrod Barkan] said. “They need to help the moderates in the Middle East, not the extremists.”
The Vatican says this is nonsense:
“It’s surprising that one would have wanted to take the opportunity to distort the intentions of the Holy Father,” [Vatican spokesman Joaquin] Navarro-Valls said in the statement. “Obviously the other week’s grave attack in Netanya referred to by Israel falls under the general and unreserved condemnation of terrorism.”
In a related story, I’m guessing some Muslims are not exactly happy about the Holy Father’s decidedly lukewarm response to a question about whether Islam is a “religion of peace.” He replied, “I wouldn’t want to label (it). Certainly there are elements that favor peace. It also has other elements.”
Looks like the Catholic Church’s interfaith relations are going along just splendidly.
[I’m bumping this post up to the top of the page because it’s already gotten buried, and I really do need input from y’all. :) -ed.]
As the list of blogs in the “Brendansphere” grows ever larger, I’m rapidly running out of space at the top of my homepage to list them all, so I’ve been working on a “Brendansphere Bar” that would appear on the left-hand side of the screen. It wouldn’t always be there; it would only appear when a user clicks a “Brendansphere” link at the top of the homepage (or any other page on the site).
Anyway, I’ve developed a prototype, and now I need input from y’all. You can view this “beta” version of the Brendansphere Bar here.
Here’s what I need to know: 1) Does it look the way it’s supposed to? and 2) What do you think? Does it work? Do you have any suggestions for how to make it better?
So I’d be much obliged to anyone who would take a look, and then leave me a comment answering those questions, and also telling me what browser, OS, and screen resolution you are viewing it with.
You may recall that, about a week ago, a Colorado congressman named Tom Tancredo made the execrable and dangerous comment that, if terrorists nuke America, America should consider responding by bombing Mecca. This vile extremism was promptly and rightly denounced by even the most ardent warbloggers, like Captain Ed:
We don’t bomb civilians in response to terrorist attacks, no matter how seductive such a response might seem. The idea that the US would retaliate in such a manner should be repulsive to any rational person, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum. The war on terror targets the terrorists and the governments which fund and/or shelter them, not the civilians who happen to live there.
Besides, who is Tom Tancredo to make these threats anyway? He doesn’t have anything to do with the military chain of command or the national security systems that would make those kinds of recommendations. He certainly doesn’t speak for the President, who has to make the final determination in loosing those weapons on any target. Tancredo does, however, lend a false sense of credibility to such threats in international circles, thanks to his position as an elected Republican official.
The GOP needs to remind Tancredo of the wisdom of silence in some issues.
No serious politician in the country has come to Tancredo’s defense, and indeed I have not seen any credible authority on war or religion endorse this foolishness. No serious Christian theologian can endorse what is obviously an immoral threat against another faith. Tancredo is drawing encouragement from the small percentage of Americans who have fallen into the erroneous belief that all of Islam is arrayed against the West. … [Tancredo is] sounding exactly like a Christian jihadist would sound, even though it is clearly contrary to Christian teachings to threaten retaliation against non-combatants even in a just war.
In the course of his rant, Tancredo broadly accuses “‘mainstream’ Muslims” of “acquiesc[ing] to [terrorist] actions and even provid[ing] tacit justification for them.” Hewitt calls bulls**t, noting that this is “a libel on every Muslim who has indeed condemned terror and especially on the between 5,000 and 10,000 Muslims serving in the American military.” Indeed. But even those who are less nuts than Tancredo often sound a similar theme: namely, that moderate Muslims need to be more vocal in condemning terror. Well, guess what, just in the last two days, Muslims have rallied against terrorism in California, Egypt, Denmark and Iraq. But where is the media? For the most part, not paying attention. As InstaPundit notes, “You know, if these people had blown something up, they’d be getting more press. Which suggests that if the press wants to help eliminate terrorism, it should adjust its priorities.” Of course, a terrorist attack is objectively more newsworthy than a street protest of any kind — but the point remains valid: it’s not particularly fair, or helpful to the war effort, to demand that Muslims speak out against terrorism, and then ignore them when they do.
I know we’ve got nothing on Phoenix, but man, it’s hot outside. I just walked the dog, and when I stepped outside the door, I felt like I was walking into a sauna. Turns out, it’s 95Â° with a dew point of 74Â° — and that’s down from record high of 96Â° earlier today, and (this is the part that reallyazes me) an oppressive dew point of 77Â°! That translates into an absurd heat index of 111Â°, which is actually lower than the current heat index in Phoenix (100Â° temperature with 64Â° dew point = 104Â° heat index). So, on second thought, we do have something on Phoenix! It feels hotter in South Bend than it does in Phoenix today!
The BBC has a list of the victims of the London terrorist atrocity of July 7, with photos and biographical information where available.
Joe Lieberman’s only announced Democratic primary challenger for the 2006 Senate race, John Orman, has raised about $1,000 so far for his campaign. Lieberman has raised about $3.8 million. Orman says “this just highlights the unfair advantage that incumbents have,” but honestly, if a thousand bucks is all you can manage, you have bigger problems than the unfair advantage that incumbents have. At that point, you clearly have no support, and/or you aren’t trying hard enough.
Over on Daily Kos, they think Joe could be vulnerable to a primary upset. I seriously doubt Orman is the man to do it, however. (And of course, I hope no one does it, as I think Lieberman is pretty much the best thing the Democratic Party has going for it right now.)
As you may already have heard, it turns out the “South Asian man” shot to death by police on the Tube Friday was actually Brazilian, and was innocent. He wasn’t a would-be bomber, and he wasn’t connected to terrorism in any way. It remains unclear to me why he was seen coming out of a house that police were watching in connection with the previous day’s bombings — did they have the wrong house, or did he perhaps have a terrorist roommate? — but either way, the authorities are sufficiently satisfied of Jean Charles de Menezes’s innocence that they have apologized to the family for killing him.
I feel sorry for everyone in this situation. Obviously, this is just an awful tragedy for the late Mr. Menezes and his family, so I feel terrible for them. I also feel terrible for the police officers involved in the shooting, who only did what they thought was necessary when Mr. Menezes ran onto the train after they told him repeatedly to stop. It may be true, as Mr. Menezes’s family says, that he is justifiably scared of people with guns drawn because of his experience growing up in the slums of Sao Paulo, but the police can’t know that, and from their perpsective, Mr. Menezes was acting like a guilty man — and more to the point, like an imminent threat to public safety, literally a ticking bomb who could have blown himself up at any moment. Under those circumstances, what choice do they have? If they hadn’t shot to kill, and if he had been a terrorist, the death toll could have been dozens or hundreds, and we’d all be demanding to know why the police didn’t take action sooner! Faced with such a situation, police have to make split-second judgment calls with potentially enormous and grave consequences no matter what they choose — and here, they simply made the wrong judgment, with tragic results.
Obviously, a full investigation is needed, and it will occur. But I hope it can occur without unnecessary demonizing of the police officers who did this; they must already feel just awful about what happened, and they certainly don’t need the whole British and world public unjustifiably piling on. If there is evidence that they disregarded procedure or acted unreasonably, that must be dealt with. But we must remember that we can’t expect perfection of mere humans. Whether we err on the side of using too much force, or on the side of using too little, we will still sometimes err.
That’s cold comfort to the family, of course, and I don’t blame them for being angry with the police. They’re allowed. But the public at large needs to keep the bigger picture in mind. I’m not suggesting that the police are above reproach, but any reproach must be justified and reasonable, not based on hindsight Gnosticism.
Ultimately, unless some evidence unexpectedly emerges suggesting that the police’s suspicions were much more unreasonable than they current appear to have been, I agree with London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who said: “The police acted to do what they believed necessary to protect the lives of the public. This tragedy has added another victim to the toll of deaths for which the terrorists bear responsibility.”
P.S. A good example of the sort of reaction that is grossly inappropriate is helpfully provided by Naomi (over on Craig’s blog), who seems to think the death of an innocent man is good opportunity to engage in snarky, knee-jerk criticism of the police.
A magnitude 7.2 earthquake three hours ago struck the Bay of Bengal east of India, near the Nicobar Islands, producing a tsunami alert. But a U.S. Geological Survey scientist said it was “unlikley to spark a tsunami,” and based on the lack of any further news about it, apparently it didn’t.
In other news, a massive dust cloud from the Sahara Desert, about the size of the continental United States, is about to make landfall in Florida. It will cause hazy skies, spectacular sunsets and perhaps coats of reddish dust on people’s cars, but nothing more calamitous than that. (Double hat tip: my dad and Briandot.)
Here’s a map showing the current dust-cloud conditions. (I guess they’re counting those three apparently separate blobs of dust as being one massive cloud?) Here’s an interesting NASA article looking at the dust storms from a scientific perspective. And here’s an MSNBC article saying that the recent increase in Saharan dust storms is caused by SUVs!
Tropical Storm Gert formed in the Bay of Campeche yesterday, joining Franklin. Seven storms already, and still a week left in July? This is nuts. The hurricane season isn’t supposed to peak until September 10 (here’s a helpful chart), and it doesn’t end until November 30. We could get through the whole alphabet this year. Maybe twice.
It was as if Mother Nature was celebrating my data-recovery triumph this evening, as a beautiful rainbow appeared over South Bend:
As if I wasn’t already having enough computer problems, my website was suspended by Total Choice Hosting early this morning because, yet again, mt.cgi nearly crashed the shared server on which it resides.
This was the shortest suspension ever, as I was able to quickly agree via IM with the tech who suspended my account that, if he would unsuspend me, I would immediately and permanently disable my MovableType scripts. (The tech also kindly advised me, “If the account causes any more problems I will be forced to terminate the account. I hate to sound harsh but the reality is that I cannot continue to have one account cause problems.”)
So, this is the end of the road for MovableType on my TCH account. Hopefully I’ll be able to get set up fairly soon on Charles’s server, with Brian as my admin, as we discussed last month. In the mean time, all new “posts” will actually be manual edits to my index.html file. My blogging software is, for the moment, dead.
This the same program that was on pace to take 450 days just to finish scanning my hard drive (i.e., just looking for files, nevermind downloading them). But that was when I had it running on the G3 and accessing the PowerBook’s hard-drive via Target Disk Mode. Then I had a brainstorm: I installed Tiger on Kristy’s external FireWire so that I could use it to boot up my PowerBook directly (instead of using the PowerBook as a glorified external drive connected via FireWire to the G3). That worked, so I installed Data Rescue X on Kristy’s drive… and running natively on the PowerBook, instead of externally on the G3, it successfully scanned the busted drive several thousand times faster, and finished in just a couple of hours overnight. So now I have a rather complete-looking list of my files, and I’m trying to recover them. (Screen shot here.)
Like I said… cross your fingers! Also, knock on wood. :)
UPDATE: YAAAAAAAY!!!!! With the exception of 59 partially corrupted files, my iTunes Music Library has been restored!!! Praise the computer gods!!!
Now I’m working on the rest of my non-backed-up files…