March (Mercury) Madness: It’s almost like science fiction at this point

Bud Fun

Jeff Masters of Michigan-based Weather Underground is hands-down writing some of the best articles on the March Madness that we probably should be paying the most attention to, what he calls Summer in March:

A spring heat wave like no other in U.S. and Canadian history peaked in intensity yesterday, during its tenth day. Since record keeping began in the late 1800s, there have never been so many temperature records broken for spring warmth in a one-week period–and the margins by which some of the records were broken yesterday were truly astonishing. Wunderground’s weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, commented to me yesterday, “it’s almost like science fiction at this point.” A few of the more remarkable records from yesterday:

Pellston, MI: record high broken by 32°F
Pellston, Michigan in the Northern Lower Peninsula is called “Michigan’s Icebox”, since it frequently records the coldest temperatures in the state, and in the entire nation. But the past five days, Pellston has set five consecutive records for hottest March day. Yesterday’s 85° reading broke the previous record for the date (53° in 2007) by a ridiculous 32°, and was an absurd 48°F above average.

Low temperatures beat the previous record high for the date at two stations
The low temperature at Marquette, Michigan was 52° yesterday, which was 3° warmer than the previous record high for the date!

Read on for much more including Canadian cities breaking all-time records for March and April. Also definitely see his thoughts on the statistical likelihood of breaking 100+ year-old record highs this many days in a row. Hint: the answer sounds a lot like “climate change.”

The photo is Bud Fun by LadyDragonflyCC. She’s got some great stuff.

Warren Buffett calls his own bluff … by not bluffing I guess

Warren Buffett with Fisher College of Business Student

“I’ve worked in an economy that rewards someone who saves the lives of others on a battlefield with a medal, rewards a great teacher with thank-you notes from parents, but rewards those who can detect the mispricing of securities with sums reaching into the billions.”
~Warren Buffett

Late last summer, Warren Buffett broke ranks with most of the other dedicated men and women of Occupy the Top 1% and called for more taxes for top earners. Senator Mitch McConnell, a millionaire in his own right and champion of the uptrodden, said that if Buffett was feeling guilty about his tax bill, he should send in a check. Senator John Thune rushed to the rescue with the cynical Buffett Rule Act, placing an option on tax forms allowing people to donate more in taxes to help pay down the national debt. In an interesting new TIME interview with Rana Foroohar, Buffett says:

“It restores my faith in human nature to think that there are people who have been around Washington all this time and are not yet so cynical as to think that [the deficit] can’t be solved by voluntary contributions,” he says with a chuckle. So Buffett has pledged to match 1 for 1 all such voluntary contributions made by Republican members of Congress. “And I’ll even go 3 for 1 for McConnell,” he says. That could be quite a bill if McConnell takes the challenge; after all, the Senator is worth at least $10 million. As Buffett put it to me, “I’m not worried.”

I wouldn’t be worried for my money if I were Buffett either.

The photo is by Aaron Friedman.

Sun Monster

This video is from the Flickr stream of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. They write:

So how BIG was that 'Monster Prominence'?

When a rather large-sized (M 3.6 class) flare occurred near the edge of the Sun, it blew out a gorgeous, waving mass of erupting plasma that swirled and twisted over a 90-minute period (Feb. 24, 2011). This event was captured in extreme ultraviolet light by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft . Some of the material blew out into space and other portions fell back to the surface. Because SDO images are super-HD, we can zoom in on the action and still see exquisite details. And using a cadence of a frame taken every 24 seconds, the sense of motion is, by all appearances, seamless.

The photo to the right shows the relative size of the flare using the Earth, and you can click to see a hi-res still from the event.

Yes In My Backyard … Vote for the good guys (and gals)

Idiot brigade

Election day is tomorrow. Here in Traverse City, it’s pretty much a local affair, and if the stats that Gary Howe lists in Occupy This! Local Politics Need a Jolt of YIMBYism are any guide, voters will likely honor their amazing opportunity to shape their community by staying far away from the polls. Gary suggests that to counter the dominant “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) mentality, we need a younger YIMBY (Yes-in-my-backyard) electorate that is engaged in the most basic aspect of community democracy – voting. He highlights a telling stat:

The under 40 crowd represent 42% of the potential voters and only 6% of the 40 and under crowd cast a vote in 2009.

Put graphically:

That’s an absolutely ridiculous state of affairs that simply must change if we are to work our way out of the dark corners of climate change and vanished prosperity we find ourselves in globally, and also the challenges of re-designing our communities to meet the needs of the modern world locally. He explains that the under 40 bloc is critical because:

The under forty crowd is more enthused about collaboration over competition. They don’t start with “no” or by asking “how much?”. Instead, they are wired to find amicable solutions that make our community more inclusive and connected. The mantra is, “yes! Great idea, how do we make it better? Wouldn’t this be a great addition?” We trend towards the YIMBY. We need a touch of NIMBYism to balance that, but the current climate is out of balance.

In organizations/communities where negativity, or worse, indifference, is strongly perceived, YIMBYs lose enthusiasm and retreat. The otherwise neutral activity of politics is then tarnished and becomes something to avoid. Saved for a time, or age, when we simply want to protect something. The younger demographics, seeking a positive experience, are thus more prone to becoming disillusioned and disengaged. This is unfortunate because politics isn’t bad– bad politics is bad. And, it can be changed with numbers.

Here is a civic lesson: when you don’t like how something is proceeding, increase your numbers.

I’m a YIMBY and I vote. I will vote next Tuesday for the most immediate representation I have– City Commissioners. Please, do the same regardless of your age, but particularly if you are under forty in human years, dog years or simply in heart and mind. As a friend likes to respond to questions of age and voting, “I believe not enough people vote within any age bracket.” I appreciate her optimism that, “more people voting can only help the good guys.”

The photo is Idiot brigade by protohiro. He works at Flickr and you can see his most interesting photos on Flickriver.

#occupywallstreet

Check out the livestream channel via Adbusters. The images look like they might have come from any of the protests that are sweeping the world. Do you think we’re heading into our own “American Spring”?

Here’s a photo from the occupywallstreet slideshow on Flickr.

Day 12 Occupy Wall Street September 28 2011 Shankbone 33

The photo is by David Shankbone who has his own photographic coverage. On his blog he writes:

The cops arrested over 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters today, and the people on this post are the kinds of people they are slamming around. Today Zennie Abraham said in a video posted on the San Francisco Chronicle‘s website that the Goethe girl photograph above has “signaled the start of a movement”:

The Occupy Wall Street Movement has something the Tea Party could never claim to have: hot chicks at its protests quoting Goethe. This woman, photographed by David Shankbone during the protest at Wall Street, looks like a cross between Laura Croft and Norma Jean. It’s possible to see a whole line of fashion spring forward just from this photo – the latest in protest wear.

Additionally she, whoever she is, totally alters the image of the female protestor: gone is the dirty-haired earth girl with hairy arm pits; fashion models take to the streets.

The most beautiful place…

j jumps

Late last month the Sleeping Bear Dunes was named “Most Beautiful Place in America” by Good Morning America.

There have been toms of these “most beautiful”, “top 10″ and “best-ist place ever” awards in my memory, but I can’t ever remember one that was so tangible and immediate in its impact. 2 hour lines at Pierce Stocking, media from everywhere descending on the region and generally a ton of attention.

While I love the pristine aspects of the Lakeshore, I don’t think there’s much chance that they become like Yosemite or other over-exposed beautiful places anytime soon. While I don’t like to see too many people at the beach or on the trails, I also love it that one of the places I feel is among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen is being seen for the first time by appreciative eyes. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, like any of our national treasures, deserves to be enjoyed by people.

The photo is mine and so is the son. ;)

Here’s a pretty cool video of the song Sleeping Bear, Sault Ste. Marie from Michigan by Sufjan Stevens.

Democracy or Dominionism?

DSCF2399

Here’s a scary little article from The Daily Beast that looks at presidential candidates Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry’s ties to Dominionism:

Of the three most plausible candidates for the Republican nomination, two are deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism known as Dominionism. If you want to understand Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, understanding Dominionism isn’t optional.

Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions. Originating among some of America’s most radical theocrats, it’s long had an influence on religious-right education and political organizing. But because it seems so outré, getting ordinary people to take it seriously can be difficult.

Read the article for much more and learn about this creepy philosophy that’s pretty much diametrically opposed to the principles our nation was founded upon through Wikipedia.

The photo was taken at the Torture Museum by Ben Sutherland. See more in his torture museum slideshow.

Kayaking the Outlet

Kayaking the Outlet

“The Outlet” was the point where the folks of the area learned a lesson about the importance of being very sure about your measurements. In my favorite book about the history of Northern Michigan, Waiting for the Morning Train, Bruce Catton explains how a project to connect Crystal Lake to the Betsie River and ultimate Frankfort and Lake Michigan went horribly awry after a surveyor got the relative elevations wrong by over 25 feet.

The historical marker reads:

In 1873 an ambitious but ill advised project was put through in an effort to connect Crystal Lake and Lake Michigan with a navigable channel. The original level of Crystal Lake was, at that time, much higher than its present level. The project was a complete failure in respect to its accomplishing its proposed purpose. The result was the lowering of the lake and exposing a wide stretch of beach around the entire lake and making possible the development of Crystal Lake as a resort and residential area as well as the site of the village of Beulah. This monument, erected by the people of Benzie County, stands at the original level of Crystal Lake. 1978.

Laura & I “kayaked” the mile+ of distance from the Outlet to the Betsie yesterday. Most of the way was hard going, many times more “dragging a kayak through a puddle”, but it was an incredible journey with all kinds of wildflowers and TONS of dragonflies.

Taking time with Neptune

I posted this today over on Michigan in Pictures and thought it was too cool not to share here. My baseball-loving friends should check out yesterday’s post on Tiger All-Stars, past & present.

Neptune Jr.

The planet Neptune was discovered in 1846, and at 4.5 billion km from the Sun, it completes an orbit every 164.79 years. Today – July 12, 2011 – Neptune completes the first full orbit since its discovery!

And you thought it took you a long time to get the garage cleaned out…

I took this photo early this Spring along the TART Trail in Traverse City. While I had just learned this little fact about Neptune, I actually rode out that day all the way to Pluto, a distance of about 6 miles. You can see the Sun and inner planets right at the TC Library. In their list of fun weekend things for families to do, MyNorth.com writes:

Bike through a six-mile long interactive model of the solar system on a portion of the TART trail in Traverse City. Hand-crafted sculptures of each planet and plaques sharing details about each planet dot the trail according to an accurate scale of the solar system. Beginning at the Sun directly outside the Traverse Area District Library, bikers of all ages can travel to the far reaches of Pluto and back again on wide paved trail that make the trip smooth and simple. Traverse Area District Library is located at 610 Woodmere Ave Traverse City.

Check it out on black and in my Traverse City, Michigan slideshow.