Silent Night – A Perspective

It could be that Fukushima got me pondering, it could be this time of year makes me into a marshmallow, or it could be I’m simply tired of stupidity. Anyway I slice it – take two minutes to watch this video clip.

Holy Crap ISON – Some Of You Made It!

Last night I wrote that ISON was the little engine that could. Holy crap ISON – I thought I would have to eat my words today but you refuse to give up. ISON won’t live up to the billing of “comet of the century”, yet it seems at least some of the nucleus survived the sun’s atmosphere. Scientists don’t expect what’s left to be as bright as comet Lovejoy in 2011, that said – ISON is most likely going to be visible in the eastern skies come Dec. 2 0r 3rd. Good job ISON.

ISON – To Be or Not to Be ?

Comet ISON isn’t going down without a fight. Early reports had scientists preparing for her funeral; now the word seems to be – not so fast!


Watch ISON’s trajectory; something clearly survived the sun’s atmosphere. Not fully intact; fingers are crossed at least some of the nucleus escaped. ISON is like the little engine that could – this evening it is reported to be getting brighter. Hidden for the moment by the sun’t glare, it will be a few days before SOHO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) sorts it all out.

Had ISON managed to escape our sun unscathed, it could have reached a magnitude of brightness high enough to be seen in broad daylight with the naked eye. While hopes of that phenomenon may have been dashed; optimism gives ISON a fairly good chance of being visible away from city lights in early December.

Follow ISON at earthsky.

Remember That Little Accident at Fukushima?

Remember that little accident at Fukushima, Japan?  The catastrophic tsunami following a major earthquake on March 11, 2011? Reactors at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant melting down faster than ice cream on a summer afternoon? Perhaps the powers that be think we’re stupid – keep it out of the news, sweep it under the rug, and we’ll soon be tweeting about the Kardashians again. Take a few minutes to watch this video clip; then ponder how stupid we are – that little accident is more serious than “reported” and isn’t going away any time soon.

Consider not only the 300 tons of radioactive water flowing into the Pacific Ocean for days; think about the million tons of radioactive water stored in thousands of containment tanks on a hill above the plant. Plastic storage tanks with rubber seals; bolted, not welded together – tanks not expected to last five years. Tanks that would roll down the hill into the ocean should another large earthquake hit.

Radioactive rabbits jumping about, farmers who sell produce because they need to survive – but refuse to eat it themselves. Contaminated fish and shellfish – whether exported or migratory – making their way to global tables. The link below is to an FDA page listing imports banned from the area.

Conservative estimates say it will take anywhere from 40 to 100 years before the situation is under control. Fukushima Daiichi is now considered a far graver situation than Chernobyl. Cancer rates are expected to spike within the next 2 – 5 years.

Hard as I try, the logic behind shrugging Fukushima off eludes me.

This is a good link…

Storage tanks at Fukushima – courtesy

Sister ISON Encounter

I am so jealous; as green with envy as ISON appeared to my sister this morning. It just isn’t fair – I’m the space weather fanatic, and she’s the one who catches a glimpse of ISON.

Early this morning she left Battleford for Saskatoon. Moments after hitting highway 16, listening happily to talk radio, a “large furry brown ass” assaults the front end of her car. Luckily instinct kicked in; slamming her brakes hard, skidding to a stop at the side of the road. The deer shook it off; much less fazed than my gob smacked sister. Completely un-nerved, she gathered herself for a minute before stepping out to inspect the damage. As she quivered, talk radio guy gushed about comet ISON on the eastern horizon.

I expressed relief that her car wasn’t damaged too badly. Then I made her describe exactly how she encountered ISON. Like a child wanting to hear a story over and over again, I had her explain exactly where she was standing, what time it was, how the sky looked and what her reaction was.

Her description left my breathless, not only could I picture the morning, I could smell the air and feel the chill of early morning frost. Not a cloud in the sky; a tangerine glow rolled out in anticipation of the rising sun. Ice fog reluctantly releasing its grip; tipping its hat to the approaching sun, pleased with itself for coating every last blade of grass with ice crystals. Sorry it wouldn’t have a chance to marvel as sunlight bounced off ice fog’s creation. Not a hint of wind; by all accounts wind stepped aside – so glorious was the imminent sunrise.

The voice on the radio sent her gaze to the eastern sky – that’s when she saw it, ISON appeared as a greenish blob on the horizon. Her reaction warmed my heart – she swears she did a happy dance around the car in my honour. She gushed about Saskatoon radio guy and his enthusiasm for all things space. Radio guy apparently reports space weather every day before sunrise; he tells listeners exactly where and at what time to look for ISON depending on which road you happen to be driving. I practically jumped out of my skin – hats off to you radio guy, you just made my day.

I don’t hold much optimism that ISON will survive an encounter with the sun’s atmosphere on Nov. 28. Yesterday many believed the nucleus had broken apart; today paints a brighter picture – new images seem to show it still intact. Time will tell – in a few days we’re in for another cosmic let down, or on the off chance ISON escapes the sun’s atmosphere intact – a celestial show of epic proportions.

While I wait – I can’t help but feel envious my sister hit a deer this morning. If not for that deer and Saskatoon radio guy – she never would have laid eyes on comet ISON.

Credits: This movie was made by reader Rob Matson using data from STEREO-A.

Ponder Bountiful

Bountiful, B.C. is polygamist town in south central British Columbia. In 1946 Harold Blackmore purchased property near the town of Lister; before long other fundamentalist Mormon families followed. This “plural marriage” haven was named Bountiful in the 1980’s under the leadership of Bishop Winston Blackmore. Since then the population has grown from 600 to around 1000; conservative estimates credit half a dozen men for “bountiful” growth.

About half the residents are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints (FDLS), the rest are a break away sect following Winston Blackmore; who concluded FDLS leader Warren Jeffs had become too dictatorial. Prior to Warren Jeffs 2006 conviction for rape, Jeffs was a frequent visitor to Bountiful.

In 2007 the Province of B.C. appointed lawyer Richard Peck as a “special prosecutor” investigating allegations of polygamy. Peck concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to charge members under the Canadian criminal code; allegations of rape, sexual exploitation and abuse, where likely to be met by uncooperative witnesses claiming “religious freedom”. Peck suggested the province sort the matter out in front of a judge – specifically determining if section 293 of the criminal was constitutional. In 2011 the Supreme Court of British Columbia upheld the polygamy law.

293. Polygamy

293. (1) Every one who

(a) practises or enters into or in any manner agrees or consents to practise or enter into

(i) any form of polygamy, or

(ii) any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time,

whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage, or

(b) celebrates, assists or is a party to a rite, ceremony, contract or consent that purports to sanction a relationship mentioned in subparagraph (a)(i) or (ii),

is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

Evidence in case of polygamy

(2) Where an accused is charged with an offence under this section, no averment or proof of the method by which the alleged relationship was entered into, agreed to or consented to is necessary in the indictment or on the trial of the accused, nor is it necessary on the trial to prove that the persons who are alleged to have entered into the relationship had or intended to have sexual intercourse.

Call me crazy but I just don’t get it. Despite a clearly defined criminal code, close ties to the YFZ ranch in Texas (dozens of children placed in state custody in a 2008 raid following accusations of sexual abuse), multiple allegations of abuse by Winston Blackmore -some resulting in charges later tossed out of court – Bountiful thrives with impunity. The province stopped funding Bountiful’s schools in 2012 – all but a handful now home schooled – I’m sure that had them shaking in their boots. Warren Jeffs went to jail, Sister Wives aired on TV and now everything is sunshine and roses? Yeah, right.

“Religious freedom” doesn’t mean getting away with forced marriage and sexual abuse. What good is  law if religion gets to thumb their noses at it?

Playing For Change Scholarship Christmas

With Christmas sneaking up faster than a Canadian winter; ponder a gift of musical change. Playing For Change takes music to some of the poorest countries in the world. With schools in Nepal, Mali, Rwanda, Thailand, Ghana and South Africa – Playing for change has established safe havens where hope is built around music. Music releases trauma, builds confidence, teaches skills and gives purpose and structure to young lives. Lives that might otherwise fall by the way side.

Be creative – take PFC donations at your office, make your own Playing For Change video to share on the PFC website. Involve your kids school – dedicate a few hours a week; involve the students – have them perform PFC style. Put up posters in your community; invite people to perform at a community Playing For Change day. Or make a donation in someone’s name as a gift of “change”.

It’s no secret – I stand behind, and believe in the power of music. Ponder a Playing For Change Christmas.