‘Greatest mission NASA ever pulled off was saving your butt’

November 28, 2018

Image of the ozone hole over the Antarctic, screen capture from Big Think short film on NASA's averting an ozone apocalypes.

Image of the ozone hole over the Antarctic, screen capture from Big Think short film on NASA’s averting an ozone apocalypes.

Why do we trust the scientists at NASA and NOAA when they talk about climate change?

Because they saved all of humanity. And then didn’t brag about it.

Did you even know?

From Big Think:

Pop quiz! Which NASA mission has been most critical to humanity? It’s not the Moon landing. It’s not the Apollo 8 mission, with its iconic Earthrise photo. It’s not even spinoff tech like cell phones, baby formula, and GPS. “All those kind of fall flat, to tell you the truth,” says Michelle Thaller, NASA’s assistant director of science communication. “I think that people don’t understand.” Thaller says the greatest mission NASA ever pulled off was saving your butt. While conducting blue sky research—curiosity-driven scientific investigation with no immediate “real-world” applications—that scientists in the 1980s discovered that the ozone layer was being depleted. Realizing the danger this posed to life on Earth, scientists—and NASA’s crack team of science communicators—mobilized the public, the U.N., and governments to get the Montreal Protocol signed, and to ban ozone-depleting chemicals for good. “We’ve since done atmospheric models that show that we would have actually destroyed the ozone layer, had we done nothing, by the year 2060…” says Thaller. “That would have destroyed agriculture. Crops would have failed all over the world. You couldn’t have livestock outside. People couldn’t have lived outside. We very nearly destroyed civilization, and your grandchildren would have lived through that.” The value of blue sky research is severely underestimated—especially when budgets are being drafted. But it has led to the best NASA spinoff Michelle Thaller can think of: grandchildren.

Ozone hole information just started coming into formed questions when I worked in air pollution research, and most of the best stuff here came after I was off into laws. But having watched hard debates among the scientists, in the field when we were measuring other stuff, in the libraries, over dinner, I watched this issue as it grew up, as the scientists collected the information, devised ways to determine how big a problem it was, invented ways to fight it, and then backed the politicians and statesmen who made the treaty that, literally, saves our butts.

If you didn’t have my experience, did you even know this history?

That’s why it’s here, to remember the right stuff.

And when some yahoo claims he doesn’t trust NASA scientists, I can link to this post before blocking the idiot on whatever platform he decided to be stupid on.


Ready for Tuba Christmas?

November 27, 2018

Tuba Christmas Dallas 2013, at Thanksgiving Square. Screen capture from YouTube

Tuba Christmas Dallas 2013, at Thanksgiving Square. Screen capture from YouTube

One of my musical goals is to play Tuba Christmas.

CBS Sunday Morning sorta explained why back in 2013.

I haven’t had a Sousaphone, or anything else close to a tuba since 1971. So, to be ready to play is a real stretch.

Son Kenny’s euphonium is here at the house, too big for his New York City closets. It calls to me like a siren. But there are mouthpiece problems . . . mostly resolved. And now I have the music, and a CD to practice with.

Dallas’s Tuba Christmas is December 24. Denton is December 22, and Fort Worth is December 21. Wish me luck, and some good lip.

Do you support Tuba Christmas in your town? Do you play?

A rehearsal for Tuba Christmas Dallas in 2016, from Russell Amaya.

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Thanksgiving menu help, from history and NYPL

November 21, 2018

Happy to see this au courant plug for the digital collections at the New York Public Library. History teachers, culinary teachers, take note!

Want to see what New York’s hotels and restaurants served for Thanksgiving in the past? A few dozen menus offer interesting insights, as NYPL plugged on their Twitter feed.

 

 

 

The image featured in the Tweet is the cover of an 1899 menu from Sturtevant House, “a popular hotel on Broadway and 29th Street that opened in 1871.” The hotel closed circa 1903. But in 1899, you could get a fantastic meal for $0.75 on Thanksgiving day, featuring clams and oysters still abundant in New York waters, a traditional turkey dinner, and fare we regard as more exotic today, such as a turtle soup, “Terrapin à l’ Américaine.” Some of the menu would be difficult to replicate today, simply because local sources have been developed or polluted out of existence.

Thanksgiving menu for the dining room in the Sturtevant Hotel in New York City, in 1899. Clams, oysters, fish and turtles, may not be available for menus today. (What's a "Philadelphia Turkey?") NYPL Digital Collections

Thanksgiving menu for the dining room in the Sturtevant Hotel in New York City, in 1899. Clams, oysters, fish and turtles, may not be available for menus today. (What’s a “Philadelphia Turkey?”) NYPL Digital Collections

One CPI calculator notes that $0.75 in 1899 would cost us $22.75 today. Looking at the menu, I think that’s a great bargain. I’ll wager you can’t match that menu in New York City today for less than $80 a plate. Sometimes the cost of living calculations fall way short of reality.

A postcard features the Sturtevant House in the 1890s, at Broadway and 29th Street. The hotel closed in 1903, the building no longer remains. Pinterest image.

A postcard features the Sturtevant House in the 1890s, at Broadway and 29th Street. The hotel closed in 1903, the building no longer remains. Pinterest image.

Lots of historical comment in 2018 about how Thanksgiving is a created tradition, with roots that go back only a few centuries at most. It’s a tradition created without real roots in religion or ancient cultures, almost unique to post-Columbus Americas.

So the collection of menus offers the birth of tradition. Should humans survive for another thousand years on this planet, historians will be able to see the steps by which this tradition was created.

The menu from Eaton’s (restaurant?) in 1937 looks just like what our school history books in the 1950s and 1960s called the “traditional” Thanksgiving meal, turkey, stuffing, cranberry dish of some sort, potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie. Some traditions are delicious enough to stick around.

Who created that menu?

Thanksgiving menu from New York restaurant Eaton's, 1937. This looks like the "traditional" Thanksgiving menu. Who created it? NYPL Digital Collections

Thanksgiving menu from New York restaurant Eaton’s, 1937. This looks like the “traditional” Thanksgiving menu. Who created it? NYPL Digital Collections

$1.00 for a complete turkey dinner? That was 1937, and the U.S. was still in the Great Depression. The inflation calculator at Saving.org says that same meal would cost you $17.61 in 2018 — about the cost of a buffet at a Golden Corral in Texas. Not cheap, but not very expensive, either.

In 2018 there is an Eaton Place Hotel at 220 Central Park South, a swanky neighborhood. Was that where the restaurant was?

Teachers, how can you use these historic menu images in your classroom discussions, to help students understand and maybe appreciate history?

 


Does North Carolina celebrate North Carolina statehood in 2018?

November 21, 2018

U.S. flag flew in at least one spot in North Carolina on statehood day, November 21, 2017. Photo at Chimney Rock State Park, outside of Asheville, North Carolina, near U.S. Highway 64/74A, on the Rocky Broad River.

U.S. flag flies in one spot in North Carolina on statehood day, we can be quite sure. Photo at Chimney Rock State Park, outside of Asheville, North Carolina, near U.S. Highway 64/74A, on the Rocky Broad River. History.com image.

Staff at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub do not always stay ahead of flag flying days. November 21 is North Carolina’s statehood day, and MFB is almost as slow at remembering that in 2018 as in 2017. (It would be good to have all 50 states’ statehood days commemorated here; but we’re human and more slothful and forgetful than many.)

We wonder: Does anyone in North Carolina celebrate North Carolina’s statehood?

Newspapers, television and radio, and other media do not note much celebration, planned or otherwise. Do North Carolinians fly their U.S. flags on November 21, for statehood day?

North Carolina became the 12th state, ratifying the Constitution on November 21, 1789.

If you’re in North Carolina, do you fly your flag on Statehood Day?

U.S. 25-cent piece commemorating North Carolina, in the series honoring all 50 states. The design follows John T. Daniels's iconic photo of the first well-documented heavier-than-air flying machine flight, by the Wright Brothers, at Kittyhawk, North Carolina, in 1903.

U.S. 25-cent piece commemorating North Carolina, in the series honoring all 50 states. The design follows John T. Daniels’s iconic photo of the first well-documented heavier-than-air flying machine flight, by the Wright Brothers, at Kittyhawk, North Carolina, in 1903.

Notes from Twitter, for the day in 2017 (Twitter’s a first refuge of celebration procrastinators):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More:


Leaving Hanksville

November 19, 2018

Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM, Department of Interior) great photographer Bob Wick captures a photo that separates the redrock lovers from everybody else.

The road seems to dead end in the mountains ahead. Nobody visible in the land for miles around. It’s either incredibly desolate and lonely, or among the most beautiful, everyday views among rocks of incredible beauty you’ll ever see and remember forever.

Caption from America's Great Outdoors, Tumblr blog of the U.S. Department of Interior: Heading south from Hanksville, Utah, towards Lake Powell, highway travelers bisect the remote Henry Mountains – the last area mapped in the lower 48. The 11,000-foot forested peaks of the main mountain range rise to the west, while two distinctive summits, Mount’s Ellsworth and Holmes, jut skyward from the rolling red sandstone mesas to the east. Known as the “Little Rockies,” these peaks are studied by geologists around the world as a classic example of igneous rocks, formed deep within the earth’s mantle, thrusting through the overlying sandstone layers. The Little Rockies have been designated as a National Natural Landmark for their geological significance. The peaks also provide habitat for desert bighorn sheep and numerous birds of prey. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands

Caption from America’s Great Outdoors, Tumblr blog of the U.S. Department of Interior: Heading south from Hanksville, Utah, towards Lake Powell, highway travelers bisect the remote Henry Mountains – the last area mapped in the lower 48. The 11,000-foot forested peaks of the main mountain range rise to the west, while two distinctive summits, Mount’s Ellsworth and Holmes, jut skyward from the rolling red sandstone mesas to the east. Known as the “Little Rockies,” these peaks are studied by geologists around the world as a classic example of igneous rocks, formed deep within the earth’s mantle, thrusting through the overlying sandstone layers. The Little Rockies have been designated as a National Natural Landmark for their geological significance. The peaks also provide habitat for desert bighorn sheep and numerous birds of prey. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands

Outdoors people in Utah usually know the Henry Mountains. There’s a buffalo herd there, open to hunting. It’s an amazing rock formation in the middle of other amazing rocks, a towering landmark for miles.

Hanksville would have to be invented by a good fiction writer if it didn’t exist, a desert town where everybody stops who passes by, with nothing really to commend it but the fact that it’s there, and populated by people of great character. Who names a town “Hanksville?”

Who wouldn’t like to be on that road?


Lenticular clouds to drive chemtrails fans nuts – beautiful!

November 16, 2018

Recently found Nuno Serrão via some Twitter posts. He’s an astrophotographer — meaning, a photographer who spends time looking at the skies and works to capture on film or magnetic or digital media the beauty and oddities that hover over our heads every day, and especially at night.

Oh, just look at this time lapse:

Astrophotography timelapse shot in Madeira Island on February 21st [2015]. Captured a lenticular cloud, Moon, Mars and Venus. [33,329 views as of November 16, 2018]

It’s only 7 seconds of video, covering perhaps 15 minutes of time, showing the action of the wind in forming the odd lenticular cloud stunningly painted by a setting sun.

Lenticular clouds don’t resemble the fluffy cumulus clouds of cartoons, and so are held suspect by hoax lovers, especially those enthralled by “chemtrails” hoaxes, who argue that clouds are sinister creations of mad scientists and government cabals. Because this short piece shows some of the actions of winds, I love it more.

True legend has it that an artist friend of physicist Richard Feynman told Feynman that scientists can’t be artists, because they know too much behind the scenes. Feynman answered that scientists have even more appreciation of beauty, the image of the flower and its aroma, and an understanding of the lengthy process by which a plant creates a blossom of beauty and sweet smell, to attract insects or humans to propagate new offspring for the plant.

Is this video science, or art?

More:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Antonio Paris, on Twitter.

 


Fly flags on November 11, or November 12?

November 11, 2018

From Dallas GuideLive: Dallas area ROTC squads hold dozens of American flags in formation as they kick off the festivities on Veterans Day in 2014.

From Dallas GuideLive: Dallas area ROTC squads hold dozens of American flags in formation as they kick off the festivities on Veterans Day in 2014. Louis DeLuca/Staff Photographer

Veterans Day falls on Sunday in 2018. Should we fly our flags on Sunday, November 11, or on Monday, November 12, when those organizations that offer a holiday to workers give the day off?

Two official answers, and a pragmatic one:

1. The U.S. Flag Code specifies “Veterans Day,” which grew from Armistice Day, which is November 11, marking the day of the armistice that ended fighting in World War I. So the law specifies November 11. (There is no enforcement clause in that law, by the way — no flag police will check your neighborhood.)

2. President Trump’s proclamation for Veterans Day specifies November 11 (see below). Presidents may issue proclamations on any of the dates listed in law, or on other dates as they desire. (No flag police there, either.)

3. Get real; you may fly your flag either day or both days. Very few organizations offer Veterans Day as a holiday. Monday, November 12, 2018, will be another work day. Certainly you may fly your flag then, as you may fly it any day. Most formal celebrations of Veterans Day will be November 11. Fly your flags then.

President Donald J. Trump’s proclamation for Veterans Day 2018 was issued on November 9.

Presidential Proclamation on Veterans Day, 2018

Issued on: November 9, 2018

On November 11, 1918, the United States and its allies signed an armistice with Germany to end hostilities in World War I.  The Great War exacted a tremendous toll on our Nation.  More than 100,000 American service members perished in the war, and the lives of countless others were forever altered.  In 1919, to honor and memorialize these sacrifices, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day, the precursor to Veterans Day, expressing “solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service.”  This year, as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, we again salute the generations upon generations of American heroes who have sacrificed so much to secure the blessings of freedom for their fellow Americans.

We will never be able to repay the debt we owe the brave men and women who have served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.  To the 20 million veterans alive today:  this Veterans Day, we recommit ourselves to providing you with the care you deserve.  In June, I signed into law the VA MISSION Act of 2018, enacting some of the most substantial reforms to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in a generation.  This landmark legislation made Veterans Choice permanent, ensuring that our Nation’s veterans have timely access to the highest quality of care possible and the flexibility to receive care either at the VA or at a private healthcare facility.  The VA MISSION Act is removing barriers to telemedicine and expanding access to walk-in clinics.  And it is giving veterans who were catastrophically injured in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War the same access to caregiver assistance that veterans of more recent conflicts already enjoy.  My Administration is also processing veteran claims and appeals more quickly than ever before, and veterans can now use their GI Bill benefits at any point in their lives.  And, for the first time in history, the Department of Defense and the VA will share electronic health records, improving accessibility and easing the healthcare burden on our veterans.

For many service members, the transition into civilian life can be fraught with challenges.  To enhance their access to critical resources and support, I signed an Executive Order that directs the Secretaries of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security to develop and implement a Joint Action Plan that provides seamless access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources for service members in the year following the conclusion of their military service.

As we mark the centennial of the Armistice, we remember the countless sacrifices that our country’s heroic veterans have made throughout our history to preserve our liberty and prosperity.  Our veterans embody the values and ideals of America and the timeless virtue of serving a greater cause.  With respect for, and in recognition of, the contributions our service members have made to the advance of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation’s veterans.  As Commander in Chief of our heroic Armed Forces, I humbly thank our veterans and their families for their selflessness and love of country as we remember their service and their sacrifice.  Today, and every day, we pay tribute to those who have worn the uniform, and we pray for the safety of all currently serving in harm’s way.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2018, as Veterans Day.  I encourage all Americans to recognize the fortitude and sacrifice of our veterans through public ceremonies and private thoughts and prayers.  I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities.  I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.

DONALD J. TRUMP

U.S. military veterans. AP Photo/Damian Dovargane

U.S. military veterans. AP Photo/Damian Dovargane


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