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http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/07/20/the-really-big-one

I am NOT looking forward to this.

I wonder how many Americans, in response to this, will declare that "earthquakes are a fraud"?


Erik Larson, Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History

At the end of the 19th century, the herald of the coming of the 20th century, a great confidence, bordering on arrogance, suffused America. Isaac Cline was one of the era's new men, a meteorological scientist who believed that he knew all there was to know about the motion of clouds and the behavior of storms. The idea that a hurricane could damage the city of Galveston, Texas, where he lived and worked, seemed to him preposterous, "an absurd delusion." Nothing in nature could hobble the gleaming city of Galveston, then a magical place that seemed destined to become the New York of the Gulf of Mexico. And yet . . .

During August of 1900, a strange, prolonged heat wave gripped America, killing scores of people in New York and Chicago. Odd things seemed to happen everywhere: A plague of crickets engulfed Waco, Texas. The Bering Glacier began to shrink. Rain fell on Galveston, Texas with more intensity than anyone could remember. Far away, in Africa, immense thunderstorms blossomed over the city of Dakar, and huge currents of wind converged. A wave of great atmospheric turbulence emerged from the coast of western Africa. Most such waves faded away quickly. This one did not.

On September 8, 1900, Galveston was hit by the deadliest hurricane in history. The damage to physical plant, including residences, factories, stores and shops, and all other aspects of what was then a great, then-modern city ran into the billions, in spite of the era's far lower prices and costs than are the case now. Estimates of the number of the dead ran as high as 10,000-plus lives lost, a number far greater than the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and the the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. And the damage was far worse than it would have been if accurate hurricane warnings had been issued to Galveston once the Cuban meteorological reports of the coming storm and its likely path were reported.

Unfortunately, the men in charge of the American Weather Bureau were pompous souls driven far more by the hunger of their egos to be seen as always right and always in control of everything than by any desire to keep Americans as safe as possible from the ravages of storms and real scientific curiosity. As a result, the information that the people of Galveston needed to protect themselves, their children, their pets, and any livestock was not given to them until after the hurricane had passed, which was why the damage and the death-toll were so horrendous.

Part of the problem was that those in charge of the American Weather Bureau wanted nothing to do with the warnings coming from the Belen Observatory in Cuba. The American Weather Bureau was obsessed with controlling hurricane forecasts, even though Cuba's own native weathermen had pioneered hurricane science. As the Weather Bureau's forecasters assured America that all was calm in the Caribbean, Cuba's own weathermen, whom the Weather Bureau believed were "superstitious" and "poets rather than scientists," Cuba's own weathermen were alarmed by ominous signs in the sky. A curious stillness gripped Antigua. Only a few unlucky sea captains discovered that the storm had achieved an intensity no living man had ever experienced, with winds of up to 150 miles per hour and, apparently, a mind and will of its own. The storm was not playing fair. It didn't abide by the rules that the Weather Bureau had laid down for hurricanes. It was a true monster -- but those living in Galveston remained blissfully ignorant of what they were really dealing with until it was right on top of them.

In Galveston, reassured by Isaac Cline's belief that no hurricane could seriously harm Galveston, there was celebration. Children played in the rising water. Hundreds of people gathered at the beach to marvel at the fantastically tall waves and gorgeous cerise sky -- until the surf began ripping the city's beloved beachfront apart, tearing the beach bathhouses into so much broken timber, torn metal, and shredded cloth. Within the next few hours Galveston would endure a hurricane that to this day remains the nation's deadliest natural disaster.

And Isaac Cline would experience his own unbearable losses.

Meticulously researched and vividly written, Isaac's Storm is based on Cline's own letters, telegrams, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our current understanding of the hows and whys of great storms. Ultimately, however, it is the story of what can happen when human arrogance and bigotry meets nature's great uncontrollable forces. And thus Isaac's Storms carries a warning for our times.

Review: THE SAVAGE TALES OF SOLOMON KANE



Robert E. Howard,
The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane


I've been reading fantasy tales for 63-plus years, ever since a friend of my adoptive mother's began loaning me the Oz books by L. Frank Baum and Ruth Plumley Thompson. I've been reading horror literature for the last 56 years, ever since I discovered H. P. Lovecraft. And I've been reading science fiction -- the *hard* stuff -- since I turned 8, 62 years ago. Good, bad, and indifferent, I've read a great deal of all three genres -- and the stories I discovered in The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane are some of the finest and mos marvelous, in the literal sense of the word, I've ever run across.

Collected in The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, with it's gorgeous black-and-white illustrations by Gary Gianni, are all of the stories and poems that make up thrilling, magnificent saga of the dour and deadly Puritan, Solomon Kane. As the author, Robert E. Howard says of him:

"He was . . . a strange blending of Puritan and Cavalier, with a touch of the ancient philosopher, and more than a touch of the pagan. . . . A hunger in his soul drove him on and on, an urge to right all wrongs, protect all weaker things. . . . Wayward and restless as the wind, he was consistent in only one respect -- he was true to his ideals of justice and right. Such was Solomon Kane."

The stories of Solomon Kane comprise a sprawling epic epic of weird fantasy adventure stretching from 16th-century England to remote African forests, grasslands, and plateaus where no white man had theretofore ever set foot. Here are gorgeously nightmarish tales of vengeful ghosts, bloodthirsty demons, and dark, dark sorceries wielded by evil men and women, all opposed by a grim avenger armed with fanatical faith and Ares's own wild heart.

This edition also features exclusive story fragments, a biography of Robert E. Howard by scholar Rusty Burke, notes on Howard's original text, and tributes to Howard and his work by 13 writers, including H. P. Lovecraft and 12 others.
http://thespacereporter.com/2015/05/neil-de-grasse-tyson-advocates-militarized-space-race-mars/

That's the only way that enough money could be made available for such a project all at once -- and that the mission would involve sending people to Mars to settle and thrive rather than to die. Furthermore, as was true of the build-up to the Apollo missions, the economy would boom gloriously, and for once we might have an economic surplus. Go Neil! :-)

And while the idea of an internationally cooperative Mars mission is nice, it has to entail *cooperation* -- which the Great Nations of the world aren't very good on. Putin's Russia cooperate with America? China cooperative with India? Pakistan cooperative with India -- or Israel? You have GOT to be KIDDING me! And somebody needs to do this NOW, while we still can -- and why not us? We have all that data from our Apollo and Mars missions under our belt, so why not put it to use?

Good news, for a change :-)

Back in the late 1990s I received a diagnosis of mild emphysema/COPD. COPD, however milk to start with, ultimately kills if nothing else does. A couple of weeks ago, I went through a battery of tests at Pacific Medical Center, First Hill, Seattle, WA, and the doctor who oversaw the tests diagnosed me as having only asthma, which isn't generally fatal in and of itself, and not COPD. So who knows? Maybe I'll live to be 120 after all. :-)

Eulogy for a Dying Planet

(With apologies to Dylan Thomas)

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, our Mother, floating in that starry, all-encompassing night,,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Story in a Jugular Vein

Has anyone seen this movie or a book associated with the movie?

The other day, I ran across some notes for what seemed to be a horror novel or movie. I wonder if any of you, dear readers, have encountered something like this.

It starts with a junior congressman from Maryland, Lee Boyleston, who has received an alarming message from one of his constituents, Johhny Blackwater, living not far from Washington, DC in the town of Queens Revenge whose founding took place before the reign of Henry VIII of England. The message, which arrived in the form of an email that morning, begged Boyleston for help concerning a terrible matter which Blackwater had serious trouble describing -- his email was nearly incoherent. But he did say that the matter involved covert slavery, human sacrifice as part of black magic rituals, the theft of mail from government agencies addressed to men and women living in Marys Revenge, and hacking of government computers for the purpose of creating fake accounts checks drawn on which were sent to individuals living in Marys Revenge. There was more, though it was so nearly incoherent and full of what seemed to be paranoid ravings that Boyleston was extremely hesitant to believe any of it. But as the email described what clearly were computer crimes, theft of government money, and other federal crimes, all of these taking place in Boyleston's own congressional district, Boyleston decided to go to Marys Revenge, meet up with Johnny Blackwater, and investigate whatever was going on there. If the email wasn't merely a prank, and if Blackwater wasn't lying through his teeth or raving mad, Boyleston would turn the matter over to whatever agencies had to do with such things -- the FBI, Defense Intelligence, or the like -- so that they could get to the bottom of it all and try to set things to rights.Read more...Collapse )

Southwest US drought is a fraud?

Those who believe global warming is a fraud are now saying that the severe drought conditions in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas are likewise frauds. Here's what California has to say about that:

http://www.aol.com/article/2015/04/06/drought-expands-across-large-section-of-nations-crop-region/21161756/?cps=gravity_1593_8628608390896518800

Oh, and by the way, this is all about denial -- the way that people who have politicized this issue (which no one should do; it's a matter of survival, and what must be done to achieve it, and no one should politicize matters of survival!) resolutely refuse to look at evidence of any kind that contradicts their political beliefs. The point is that California is now under a drought worse than any that has taken place since record-keeping of such things began. And back-Eastern "conservatives" simply refuse to believe that there is a drought in the West. "Show me the evidence!" "Okay, here it is." "I don't want to see your stupid crud! Go away!" Now, that's denial!
http://moviepilot.com/posts/2015/04/07/rocket-can-send-us-to-mars-in-6-weeks-2840143?lt_source=external,manual

If you wanted to go visit Mars, you'll really have to save up your vacation days. Currently, a single trip to the Red Planet takes somewhere in the region of 6 months. However, that might not be the case for long.

Ad Astra Rocket Company, a private corporation which conducts research and development into space rocket systems, claims to have created a theoretical propulsion system that could cut the New Rocket System Could Send You To Mars In Only 6 Weeks | moviepilot.com trip to Mars down to a measly 6 weeks.. . . .

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