I knew he was ill, but did not realize how ill. I am shocked and sad for his family.
Science Fiction, Science, Politics, Economics, Art and Bird Watching
Skate Served St. Thorlákur’s Mass in Summer
A skate “mass” will be celebrated at Gardur on Reykjanes peninsula, southwest Iceland, tomorrow, St. Thorlákur’s Mass in summer. Putrefied skate is traditionally eaten on St. Thorlákur’s Mass in winter, December 23, and this is a new tradition.
In addition to skate, salt fish and salted fish cheeks will be served and various performances will take place during dinner, which is a charity initiative, Morgunbladid reports.
Ásmundur Fridriksson, mayor of Gardur and the skate celebration’s organizer, said 240 people have already confirmed their attendance and he is expecting 300 guests in total—a full house.
“We who like skate use every opportunity to eat it and therefore this celebration has become very popular,” Fridriksson explained.
That's really the only relevant question: how much longer will Americans sit by passively and watch as a tiny elite become more bloated, more powerful, greedier, more corrupt and more unaccountable -- as the little economic security, privacy and freedom most citizens possess vanish further still? How long can this be sustained, where more and more money is poured into Endless War, a military that almost spends more than the rest of the world combined, where close to 50% of all U.S. tax revenue goes to military and intelligence spending, where the rich-poor gap grows seemingly without end, and the very people who virtually destroyed the world economy wallow in greater rewards than ever, all while the public infrastructure (both figuratively and literally) crumbles and the ruling class is openly collaborating on a bipartisan, public-private basis even to cut Social Security benefits?
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The answer, unfortunately, is probably this: a lot longer. And one primary reason is that our media-shaped political discourse is so alternatively distracted and distorted that even shining light on all of this matters little. The New York Times' Peter Baker had a good article this weekend on how totally inconsequential squabbles dominate the news more or less continuously: last week's riveting drama was the bickering between the White House and Nancy Pelosi over Robert Gibbs' warning that Democratic control of the House was endangered. Baker quotes Democratic strategist Chris Lehane as follows: "Politics in D.C. have become Seinfeldesque. Fights about nothing."
Paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue. State money for local roads was cut in many places amid budget shortfalls.I got this story via Atrios, whose comment was:
In Michigan, at least 38 of the 83 counties have converted some asphalt roads to gravel in recent years. Last year, South Dakota turned at least 100 miles of asphalt road surfaces to gravel. Counties in Alabama and Pennsylvania have begun downgrading asphalt roads to cheaper chip-and-seal road, also known as "poor man's pavement." Some counties in Ohio are simply letting roads erode to gravel.
Moving forward into the 21st century.Patrick's comment was:
Next they'll tear down the aqueducts.These stories are worth finding. They help me write science fiction. Imagine a future America without the current highway system.
Two galaxies are squaring off in Corvus and here are the latest pictures. But when two galaxies collide, the stars that compose them usually do not. That's because galaxies are mostly empty space and, however bright, stars only take up only a small amount of that space. During the slow, hundred million year collision, one galaxy can still rip the other apart gravitationally, and dust and gas common to both galaxies does collide. In this clash of the titans, dark dust pillars mark massive molecular clouds are being compressed during the galactic encounter, causing the rapid birth of millions of stars, some of which are gravitationally bound together in massive star clusters.
... The Top 5 percent in income earners — those households earning $210,000 or more — account for about one-third of consumer outlays, including spending on goods and services, interest payments on consumer debt and cash gifts, according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by Moody’s Analytics. That means the purchasing decisions of the rich have an outsize effect on economic data. According to Gallup, spending by upper-income consumers — defined as those earning $90,000 or more — surged to an average of $145 a day in May, up 33 percent from a year earlier.
Then in June, that daily average slid to $119. “I think a lot of that feeling that the worst was over has sort of abated,” said Dennis J. Jacobe, Gallup’s chief economist.
Although real estate brokers in Manhattan and the Hamptons report that buyers at the high end have returned, and Mercedes sales in the United States are up 26 percent this year, other indicators suggest a slowdown.
We are in the post-financial-crash. We need to do what the U.S. did during the New Deal, and what France, Japan, Korea, and almost every other successful case of post-crash (or postwar) reconstruction did when necessary. That is, we need to create new, policy-focused financial institutions like the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to take over the role that the banks and capital markets have abandoned. Thus, as part of the reconstruction of the system, we need a national infrastructure bank, an energy-and-environment bank, a new Home Owners Loan Corporation, and a Gulf Coast Reconstruction Authority modeled on the Tennessee Valley Authority. To begin with.
A reconstructed financial system should finance the reconstruction of the country. Public infrastructure. Energy security. Prevention and mitigation of climate change, including the retrofitting of millions of buildings. The refinancing of mortgages or conversion to rentals with "right-to-rent" provisions so that people can stay in their homes at reasonable rates. The cleanup and economic renovation of the Gulf Coast. All of this by loans made at low interest rates and for long terms, and supervised appropriately by real bankers prepared to stay on the job for decades.
Over the intervening years (since the founding of the US) Americans of many different political persuasions have questioned whether these Founding Fathers should be revered as great sages. But as we enter the 21st century and the age of globalization, it is widely recognized that the representative democracy they devised in the 18th century falls far short of the governance we need. Not only is it unable to regulate derivatives on Wall Street and reduce foreclosures and unemployment lines on Main Street. It is proving itself powerless to save life on Earth from extinction by global warming. Before the eyes of the world it is demonstrating its impotence in the Gulf of Mexico and in the mountains of Afghanistan.
What's happened to that moon of Saturn? Nothing -- Saturn's moon Rhea is just partly hidden behind Saturn's rings. In April, the robotic Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn took this narrow-angle view looking across the Solar System's most famous rings. Rings visible in the foreground include the thin F ring on the outside and the much wider A and B rings just interior to it. Although it seems to be hovering over the rings, Saturn's moon Janus is actually far behind them. Janus is one of Saturn's smaller moons and measures only about 180 kilometers across. Farther out from the camera is the heavily cratered Rhea, a much larger moon measuring 1,500 kilometers across. The top of Rhea is visible only through gaps in the rings. The Cassini mission around Saturn has been extended to 2017 to better study the complex planetary system as its season changes from equinox to solstice.
Thanks for the links to Kessel and Moorcock. I enjoyed the Moorcock essay a lot. It reminded me why I liked New Worlds so much. I think Kessel is wrong. I can still remember the night—rereading The Green Hills of Earth at the house of a friend of a friend in Altoona, PA circa 1970—when I realized what an awful writer Heinlein was.
You know you're living in a chaotic situation when (1) the mainstream media are constantly surprised by what is happening; (2) short-term predictions by various pundits go in radically different directions and are stated with many reserves; (3) the Establishment dares to say things or use words that were previously taboo; (4) ordinary people are frightened and angry but very unsure what to do. This is a good description of the past two years throughout the world, or at least in most parts of the world...
As a result, governments are faced with impossible choices, and individuals even more impossible choices. They cannot predict what is likely to happen. They become ever more frantic. They lash out by being protectionist or xenophobic or demagogic. But of course, this solves little...
So, this is what everyday chaos is like - a situation that is not predictable in the short run, even less in the middle run. It is therefore a situation in which the economic, political, and cultural fluctuations are large and rapid. And that is frightening for most people.
On May 29, looking southward from a vantage point about 350 kilometers above the southern Indian Ocean, astronauts onboard the International Space Station watched this enormous, green ribbon shimmering below. Known as aurora australis or southern lights, the shifting, luminous bands are commonly seen at high northern latitudes as well, there known as the aurora borealis or northern lights. North or south their cause is the same though, as energetic charged particles from the magnetosphere pile into the atmosphere near the Earth's poles. To produce the characteristic greenish glow, the energetic particles excite oxygen atoms at altitudes of 100 kilometers or more. Aurora on May 29 were likely triggered by the interaction of the magnetosphere with a coronal mass ejection erupting from the Sun on May 24.