Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #4845 on: Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:24am »
Aug. 22, 1962: First Nuke-Powered Cargo Ship Docks By Tony Long August 22, 2011 | 6:30 am Categories: 20th century, Energy, Transportation
1962: NS Savannah, the world’s first nuclear-powered cargo-passenger ship, completes its maiden voyage.
In a world terrified by the prospect of nuclear war, the Savannah was meant to demonstrate the peaceful use and positive potential of nuclear power. President Eisenhower conceived the idea as part of his “Atoms for Peace” program in 1955, a time when the United States and Soviet Union were routinely testing increasingly powerful nuclear weapons.
Worldwide, just four nuclear-powered merchant ships were eventually built.
The Savannah, named for the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean in 1819, was in every sense of the word a showcase. The ship was given a sleek, streamlined design that wasn’t really compatible with stowing large amounts of cargo, a fact that would eventually shorten its career.
Passenger accommodation was comparable to many conventional liners of the day. There were 30 air-conditioned staterooms, a dining room for 100 people, a swimming pool, a library and a lounge that could be converted into a cinema.
But the heart of the Savannah was its nuclear propulsion system, which at $28 million (about $210 million in today’s money) cost more than the rest of the ship itself, a mere $18.5 million ($140 million today). The Babcock and Wilcox nuclear reactor drove Savannah’s two steam-turbine engines cheaply and efficiently.
In the end, though, it wasn’t economical enough to offset the tight forward cargo area and other deficiencies that made the ship too expensive to operate commercially. Its tapered bow not only limited the cargo capacity to 8,500 tons — well below that of contemporary vessels — but also made loading difficult, especially as ports became more automated.
The Savannah also required a crew of 124, one-third again as large as conventionally powered ships, and those crew members required additional training to work with the propulsion system.
The Maritime Administration, which owned Savannah, leased it in 1965 to American Export-Isbrandtsen Lines for cargo-passenger service. But the ship never turned a profit and was laid up in January 1972. The Savannah spent most of the 1970s tied up in Galveston, Texas, where it underwent regular inspections of its nuclear plant.
Since then, the ship, which has been designated a National Historic Landmark, has become a museum piece in search of a home. Following decommissioning, the nuclear fuel was removed.
The Maritime Administration hopes to see Savannah converted into a floating museum. So far, there have been no takers. The ship now sits in an out-of-the-way Baltimore dock.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #4851 on: Aug 23rd, 2011, 11:39am »
Las Cruces Sun News
UFOs over Las Cruces? Sun-News report Posted: 08/22/2011 03:32:33 PM MDT
LAS CRUCES — Call it a close encounter of the Las Cruces kind.
Jude Fiebert, who has lived in Las Cruces since 1982, isn't convinced that what she saw was an alien ship. But she would like to know what's behind the enormous yellow sphere rising in the East on Friday night.
"It was an enormous light rising over the Organ Mountains on the east side of town at midnight (Friday)," she said. "I was looking out and I can see the Organ Mountains. Then there's this enormous yellow sphere rising from behind the mountains. It's not a moon, just an enormous yellow sphere."
She said the orb, which appeared to be the orange and yellow color often seen in a Harvest Moon, was five or 10 times the size of the sun rising over the mountain.
"It started flaking off little red flakes and sinking down into the mountain. It seemed like the flakes were burning off," she said. "I know it wasn't a full moon ... we just had one two weeks ago."
Fiebert was the first to admit she suspected activity at White Sands Missile Range was behind the strange apparition. But, she does want answers.
"I'm not loco," she said. "I really saw this."
After asking around to see if anyone else saw the light, she called the National UFO Reporting Center and was told several other sightings had been sent in, reporting the same light.
Officials with Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch in Las Cruces said they didn't remember receiving any calls around that time. Holloman Air Force Base public affairs office in Alamogordo said they normally would not be conducting any testing at that time of night and they did not know if WSMR was conducting tests. Officials at WSMR were not immediately available to confirm if any testing took place.
If you caught a glimpse of something strange in the night sky, email us at email@example.com
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #4852 on: Aug 23rd, 2011, 11:43am »
Wired Danger Room
U.S. Pledges No Ground Troops in Libya, But… By Spencer Ackerman August 23, 2011 | 11:00 am Categories: Rogue States
Through six months of war in the skies over Libya, the Obama administration has had one big, fat red line: it won’t put any troops on the ground. Except that red line turned out to be permeable, as CIA operatives made their way to the shores of Benghazi. And as the fall of Tripoli turns into a battle for the city, NATO isn’t closing the door on sending western peacekeeping forces to Libyan soil.
During a press conference on Tuesday in Brussels, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu assured that there will be “no NATO troops on the ground in the future.” Only Lungescu left herself some wiggle room. Should the United Nations or Libyan revolutionaries request it, NATO “is willing to help in a supporting role,” she said, without elaborating.
That’s consistent with NATO’s attitude from the start of the war. Adm. James Stavridis, NATO’s military chief, testified to Congress in March that the “possibility of a stabilization regime exists” after Moammar Gadhafi’s downfall.
But if NATO capitals (Paris? London?) might think about putting boots on the ground, Washington is loudly saying it wants no part. Leon Panetta, the secretary of defense, promised reporters on Monday that the U.S. was “not at all” considering any ground troops. A host of administration officials lined up to echo that sentiment, emphasizing the need for Libyans to oust Gadhafi themselves. (Even as NATO warplanes screamed overhead.)
Still, the large-scale absence of U.S. ground forces hasn’t been much of a problem for NATO during the war. France and Britain deployed special operations forces to turn the Libyan rebels into disciplined soldiers. NATO maintains an official fiction that it’s not “tactically” aiding the rebels, as Col. Roland Lavoie, another alliance spokesman, said Tuesday — all the while assuring Gadhafi loyalists that NATO retains “precision munitions [that] allow us to take targets… we have the capability to do so, and believe me, we will do so.” It’s possible that NATO members could send peacekeepers even without a NATO mandate.
And there may not be much peace to keep in the near term. Fighting is intensifying in Tripoli: Gadhafi’s son Seif emerged defiant hours after rebels announced they had captured him, and Moammar Gadhafi is himself still at large. “The only victory will be when Gadhafi is captured,” said Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the head of the rebel governing council.
Or even after that. Loyalist forces are heading to Gadhafi strongholds of Sirte and al-Jafra in the south. One of the biggest mysteries of the battle for Tripoli is why the allegedly potent “Khamis Brigade,” commanded by one of Gadhafi’s sons, didn’t put up much of a fight on Sunday. It’s possible that the brigade melted away to fight a guerrilla war, as Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard did in 2003.
There would be no shortage of weapons for that fight. Rockets, rifles and missiles — including intimidating SA-7 surface-to-air missiles — are everywhere in Libya. (Even if they’re not exactly quality weapons.) Gadhafi planted landmines along the eastern roads as a deadly present for the revolutionaries. Militias with dubious loyalties have already sprouted up where Gadhafi’s rule has fallen. And Gadhafi still has unsecured stockpiles of chemical weapons.
Put another way: even if the worst case scenarios of a Gadhafist insurgency don’t materialize, there’s no shortage of destabilizing factors in post-Gadhafi Libya. It’s a lot to put on the shoulders of a fractious rebel government — which, in fairness, deserves credit for avoiding chaos in areas like Benghazi that it’s controlled for months.
But destabilization is precisely what drives calls for escalation. Already, pundits like Richard Haass, a Bush administration official who runs the Council on Foreign Relations, is urging President Obama to “reconsider his assertion that there would not be any American boots on the ground; leadership is hard to assert without a presence.” That’s exactly why Panetta’s predecessor, Robert Gates, wanted the U.S. out of Libya ASAP.
NATO is hardly getting out. Lavoie pledged on Tuesday that since Gadhafi’s forces “give no sign to stop terrifying the population,” the air war will continue. “Pieces of artillery, radar sites” and other targets in and around Tripoli will still be targeted, Lavoie said, even waving away the non-capture of Gadhafi by saying, “I’m not sure it really does matter.” Left unsaid was when NATO’s war in Libya can actually end, even if Gadhafi’s rule is well and truly finished.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #4853 on: Aug 23rd, 2011, 11:57am »
New Harry Potter Film Isn’t Quite What It Seems… Troll Fans Rejoice? Submitted by Brendon Connelly August 22, 2011 – 6:20 pm
It’s not quite copyright squatting, but there’s a bait and switch in this story that might just beat any stunt ever pulled by those mockbuster merchants at Asylum.
So… if you recall, there was once a story about a young boy called Harry Potter. He was but a a wee lad ripped from his mundane world and introduced to the realm of magic. Harry might have only been a kid, but he was charged with the duty of fending off an evil wizard and saving… well, presumably everyone.
Yeah? You remember it? The film Troll?
What? You were thinking of somebody else?
It’s often been suggested that John Carl Buechler, the director of Troll, has pointed a finger at JK Rowling and implied there was more than coincidence to the similarities between his film and her books. There’s the name Harry, for example. And the surnamer Potter, of course. And, yes, the evil wizard.
Open and shut case? Hardly. Check out this trailer for Troll and tell me how Rowling-y it looks to you:
Chris Columbus-y maybe, but Rowling-y? Nope.
A remake of Buechler’s Troll has been talked about for years. It’s now being talked about again, and this time it’s been given the amazing title of The Troll: The Rise of Harry Potter. Surely Warner Bros. will be tying writs to owls and opening the hatches at this very moment?
Why now? After quote a lot of stalling, Buechler seems to have had his confidence buoyed by Thomas Girardi, a man who has plenty of history in taking cases against the Hollywood studios and winning.
According to their spokesman, speaking to WENN:
While some of the films’ themes might seem familiar, Troll‘s owner decided not to sue J. K. Rowling or Warner Bros… because of a family tragedy at the time. They just put it on the back burner… and delayed matters until now.
There is no problem with doing a remake of Troll because you can remake your own stuff. Everybody knows it was our material. We made the movie years before Rowling came out with her book.
If the money’s there too, I’m thinking we really will be seeing a new Troll before long. How could they fail to find the paltry sum they’ll need for a project like this?
No director has been announced. I’m rooting for Sean McNamara.
Regarding that bit in the headline about Troll fans – now I think of it, I’m not sure that there any. It’s not like it’s… um… Troll 2 or anything.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #4855 on: Aug 23rd, 2011, 1:58pm »
Knitted Spock Hat: How Star Trek Fans Keep Their Domes Warm 08/23/2011 - 9:00 am By Richard Darell
Over here at Bit Rebels we have a tendency to talk a lot about Star Wars, right? Well, I have been thinking about that a lot, and maybe we should be giving homage to Star Trek as well. After all, it’s the second science fiction series to inspire the world when it comes to technology and inventions. It has been debated a lot of times, but as far as I know, the flip phone was actually from Star Trek in the beginning. Yeah, I could go on forever to point out the technology that was born through the awesomeness of Star Trek. However, as you know, we don’t really have that kind of time in this article, but I think I have something that will set pretty much any Star Trek fan ablaze.
It’s the knitted Spock hat, and it is beyond cool! There is always stuff created, especially knitted or croched, for Star Wars. It’s about time someone went all out and created something for Star Trek fans. The Spock hat is just what it sounds like, it’s a knitted hat that bears similarities to Spock’s head and ears all in one. It is guaranteed to keep your head warm on a cold winter day.
It’s the awesome Etsy user FiveCornersDesign that was creative and geeked up this thing. It’s available for sale as well, and you will have to scoop up $30 from your wallet in order to become the proud owner of this badass Star Trek masterpiece. Put it on, and there is not a single person on your way to school or work that won’t think you’re the awesomest ever (or possibly the stupidest). For a geek, that really is all the same, isn’t it? I mean that in a good way of course. Why don’t you go over to the Etsy page and give the creator some props because this thing certainly deserves it!
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #4856 on: Aug 23rd, 2011, 5:27pm »
Uploaded by commando602 on Aug 23, 2011
Strange Luminous Clouds in the Arizona Sky. This comes just one hour after the 5.9 earthquake in Washington D.C. & Virginia. I just wanted to document this in the event of any further "natural" disasters.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #4859 on: Aug 24th, 2011, 08:50am »
Nation's weather extremes may be the new normal
A record-setting winter in much of the country has been followed by more records: tornadoes, flooding, drought and heat. Climate change is largely to blame, scientists say.
By Julie Cart and Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times 11:07 PM PDT, August 23, 2011 Reporting from Los Angeles and Marshall, Okla.
Oklahomans are accustomed to cruel climate. Frigid winters and searing summers are often made more unbearable by scouring winds. But even by Oklahoma standards, it's been a year of whipsaw weather.
February was so cold — with the wind chill it felt like 16 below — that Tim Gillard installed a door in the long hallway of his home in the small farming town of Marshall, walling off three rooms to more affordably heat the rest of the house. Now, in this summer's unrelenting heat, his family huddles in the air conditioning behind that same door.
The Gillards' respite ended this month when a windstorm knocked out the town's electricity. That sent many of Marshall's 290 beleaguered residents out to their porches at night to sleep, cooler than inside but still sweltering. In July, Oklahoma's average statewide temperature of 89 was the highest ever recorded for any state.
Oklahoma's misery has been writ large across the country this year, which federal climate scientists have labeled one of the worst in American history for extreme weather. With punishing blizzards, epic flooding, devastating drought and a heat wave that has broiled a huge swath of the country, the 2011 weather has been unrelenting and extraordinary.
In addition to hundreds of deaths from cold and heat and tornadoes, the national economic toll for extreme weather so far this year is estimated at $35 billion, more than five times the average annual loss.
And, climatologists warn, get used to it.
The year has been so wild that Gary McManus has given up keeping track of the weather records set in Oklahoma. Begrudgingly, McManus, the associate state climatologist, briskly rattled off a few:
—The all-time low temperature (31 degrees below zero).
—Greatest 24-hour snowfall total (27 inches).
—Most tornadoes in one month (50 in April).
There's been no measurable rain in the western half of the state since October. The 11-month period ending in August was the driest such period statewide since records were first kept in 1895.
McManus said this year's back-to-back weather calamities were "out of the realm of your imagining. It's not just that temperatures are above normal, it's that it's above normal for so many months in a row." And this is the state that bore the brunt of the Dust Bowl.
"It's Oklahoma, it's feast or famine," said Annette Gonzales, 58, acting Marshall postmaster. "It's always extreme."
Oklahoma's heat wave has so far claimed 14 lives. Since 2000, Oklahoma has had more federally declared weather-related disasters than any other state.
The weather's apparent caprice puzzled many as it played across the continent: Farmers in Texas and Oklahoma unable to plant during the worst drought on record watched as farmers along the Mississippi River lost their fields to floodwater. Much of the nation suffered through stifling heat while the West Coast enjoyed a notably mild summer.
Climate scientists point to the predictable and cumulative effects of climate change — both hot and cold — to account for much of the extreme weather, although the connection between tornadoes and climate is not clear. In any event, scientists caution that the future will hold greater temperature extremes, and for longer duration.
Officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say that extreme weather events have been more frequent since 1980.
"I think it would be a mistake to not think that this has become the new normal," McManus said. "Until it stops happening, we should expect it to continue."
The winter brought ice storms and snow from Mexico to Canada. The "Groundhog Day blizzard," which began in late January, brought Chicago to a standstill, dumped 21 inches of snow at O'Hare International Airport and killed 36 people.
But the spring and summer have packed a wallop of willful and dangerous weather. April spawned 875 tornado reports — the 30-year average for the month is 135. The "super outbreak," as climatologists dubbed it, killed 327 people.
Floodwaters sprang from the Red River to the Ohio River. A string of enormous storms saturated the Ohio Valley, where precipitation was more than 200% above normal.
The Mississippi River crested from Illinois to Louisiana. As the Mississippi continued to rise, threatening major cities along its banks, a district judge ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to open the Morganza Spillway, inundating 4,600 square miles of Louisiana bottom land along with rural farmsteads and fields.
At times one weather crisis begot another. The storm cells parked above the Ohio Valley blocked the much-needed moisture from the Gulf of Mexico from reaching the southern Plains, exacerbating the region's drought. Heat and aridity smothered Texas, where 2 million acres were consumed by wildfires in late spring. Another record.
Drought-caused agricultural losses in Texas have been tallied at $5.2 billion so far. Some of the state's water-starved cities are beginning programs to recycle treated sewage for household use, a practice known as "toilet to tap."
The Lone Star State has been so beset by weather emergencies that Gov. Rick Perry has made a state disaster declaration every month since December.
In many states, late summer has been awful by any measure. Back-to-school excitement turned deadly this month when three high school football players and a coach died during practices in a 10-day period in Texas, Georgia and South Carolina. A police dog in St. Martinville, La., died of heat stroke while chasing two suspects this month. Some states are reporting a rash of thefts of air-conditioning units.
"This summer is a good wake-up call not to take nature lightly," said Katherine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University. "No matter people's perspectives about climate change, this year has helped highlight our vulnerability. Climate change increases the risk of what happens naturally."
Marshall's woes are especially troubling, as the town in north-central Oklahoma is populated with the poor or elderly who can scarcely afford to prepare against the elements.
The Gillards — 48-year-old Tim, 34-year-old Maygin and their four children — moved to Marshall right before the big snowstorm in February. Maygin Gillard's grandfather built the house more than 40 years ago, and it has no central heating or air conditioning. The walls have some insulation, but not much. During the winter, the family uses a wood-burning stove and electric heaters.
During one cold spell the family could not travel for two days because the town's gas pumps froze.
"It's been absolutely nuts," Maygin Gillard said. "Somebody made Mother Nature mad this year."
The summer's heat wave has been tough on all of the Gillard children, but especially their youngest son, 11-year-old Masion, who has asthma and diabetes. The boy is forced to stay inside because the heat is so hard on him.
The blocked-off half of the house, Gillard said, feels like a sauna. If she has to get something from it, she peeks around the door to locate the item, runs to it, then races back to the cool area. The other day the heat caused a bottle of glue to explode.
Shirley Harrington, 52, lives in a double-wide trailer next to the Marshall post office. When the power went off this month, she dropped off her paralyzed husband, Mike, 56, and their dog at her mother-in-law's house 39 miles away in Enid. He requires oxygen at night and has to use a nebulizer three times a day. Both require electricity.
Mike Harrington worked on oil rigs until he suffered a spinal cord injury after being hit in the head with a metal block. Most of his body is numb, and, though he can walk unsteadily, he is largely confined to a wheelchair and can't feel hot or cold, so Shirley has to watch him closely when severe weather hits.
With her husband safely in Enid, she slept one night on her outdoor swing, listening to the hum of her neighbors' generators. When power was restored two days later, she brought Mike home — and bought a generator.
Last week she cut down a 20-year-old mimosa tree in her yard. She had planted it after her father died. The heat finally killed it.
"I called it Daddy's Tree. It broke my heart having to take it down, but I said, 'Daddy, I'll get you a new tree, somehow, some way,' " she said.