Monday, November 26, 2007
Credit & Copyright: Tyler Westcott
Explanation: This spectacular sky is mostly human-made. Once a year, the Light Station at Pigeon Point near San Francisco, California, USA is lit as it was over 100 years ago. During this time, light generated by five kerosene lamps pours through 24 rotating Fresnel lenses, warning approaching ships to stay away. Early last week, light emanating from the Pigeon Point Lighthouse was particularly picturesque because of a thin fog, also blurring the distant Moon. During the latter 1970s, the lighthouse was guarded by an 800 pound pig named Lester. In modern times, the light house is still active but has been supplied with a more efficient flashing aerobeacon.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Credit & Copyright: August Allen
Explanation: Why would a cloud appear to be different colors? A relatively rare phenomenon known as iridescent clouds can show unusual colors vividly or a whole spectrum of colors simultaneously. These clouds are formed of small water droplets of nearly uniform size. When the Sun is in the right position and mostly hidden by thick clouds, these thinner clouds significantly diffract sunlight in a nearly coherent manner, with different colors being deflected by different amounts. Therefore, different colors will come to the observer from slightly different directions. Many clouds start with uniform regions that could show iridescence but quickly become too thick, too mixed, or too far from the Sun to exhibit striking colors. This iridescent cloud was photographed above Boulder, Colorado last week.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Sheesh, what is with this jackass? Another quote from "A Common Quest For Vietnam's Future" by Huong Duy Hung:
"If we can help the people inside Vietnam directly without going through the regime's organizations, we would definitely implement a deep trust in the people for the Revolution's righteous cause (democracy). How can we help the people in Vietnam directly? The best way to help the people of Vietnam directly is to do our best for the US Congress to sponsor and to vote in approval of a Bill that would have similar content to the Vietnam Human Rights Bill (HR 2833). The Bill HR 2833 was proposed and sponsored by Rep Christopher Smith, a Republican from New Jersey.
On September 6 2001 the 107th US House of Representatives, with 410/1 votes, passed HR 2833 without amendment. This Bill was passed in the House the same day as the US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement. Both Bills were sent to the Senate on September 10 2001, for discussion and voting. The Bilateral Trade Agreement was passed by the Senate on October 16 2001. Yet, HR2833 was held back by Senator John Kerry. The senator would not release it to the Senate Floor for discussion and for voting. If the Bill was passed by the Senate, it would become law, binding on the US to take proper measure to enforce it.
By legal procedures, because Vietnam is in Asia, the Bill had to be submitted to the US Senate East Asian Pacific Sub-Committee (a part of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee) for discussion and for approval before releasing it to the Senate Floor for voting. This Sub-Committee was headed by Senator John Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts. Late in 2001, Senator John Kerry released the Bill to the Senate Floor; however, for some reason, early in 2002 he took the Bill back and he did not release the Bill to the Senate Floor for voting during the term of the 107th Congress. Consequently, the Bill 'died'. In the future, if any representative or senator wants a similar Bill, it has to start from scratch in the 108th Congress."
Again, from "A Common Quest For Vietnam's Future" by Huong Duy Hung (truth is stranger than fiction!):
"In 1972, at Trang Bang, Tay Ninh province. South Vietnam's Airforce conducted an air strike with napalm bombs against the NFL's (Viet Cong) troops hiding themselves in Trang Bang. Trang Bang was already besieged by the NFL. Accidentally, one of the napalm bombs struck the house occupied by Kim Phuc and her family. In 1972, Kim Phuc was about 8. The bombing caused her body to catch fire... She ran out of the house, naked, on the street, crying in terror while her body was aflame. Nick Ut, a war photographer, captured the moment, and his photograph later won a pulitzer prize. Vietnamese communists and left-wing anti-war critics claimed it was the American Air Force who did the bombing.
In 1992, Kim Phuc and her husband sought political asylum in Canada. On Veteran's Day November 11, 1996, Kim Phuc came to Washington to commemorate. She made a speech of forgiveness and peace. John Plummer, who was a captain in 1972, came up and apologized to her, admitted to her he was the pilot who bombed Trang Bang. Kim Phuc said she forgave him long ago. On December 14, 1997, Baltimore Sun published an article reinstating that it was South Vietnam's Airforce who did the bombing, not the Americans. Baltimore Sun accused John Plumber as being an impostor. Christian Journal on January 12, 1998 confirmed that John Plumber was office personnel and he never participated in the bombing. John Plumber later confessed to the Baltimore Sun of his deception and apologized to the Vietnamese and Americans.
If the VC did not besiege Trang Bang, South Vietnam's Airforce would not have bombed Trang Bang, and Kim Phuc would not have caught on fire. The one whom should be blamed on in this incident was the Vietnamese communists, rather than South Vietnam's Airforce nor the Americans."
Here's another interesting piece,taken from "A Common Quest For Vietnam's Future" by Hoang Duy Hung:
"One of the chilling pictures during the Tet Offensive that shocked the world was the picture of General Nguyen Ngoc Loan, Commander of the Police Force, executing a communist spy wearing civilian uniform on the street in broad day light on February 1, 1968. That spy was very well-known to South Vietnam's Police Force. This spy was a captain. He killed a couple of South Vietnamese soldiers just a few hours before his execution. South Vietnam's Police Force surrounded his hiding place, demanded him to surrender, as he stubbornly refused. The policemen had to pull him out. Frustrated, General Loan pulled him out on the street, with his hands bound and shot him in the head. Eddie Adam, an American reporter, happened to be in the area, took a picture of this rare incident. Left-wing anti-war critics accused General Loan as an inhumane person and depicted South Vietnam government as a military dictatorial machine. Subsequently, General Loan was fired from his post, ending his career. On July 16, 1998, General Loan died of cancer in Virginia at age 67. Eddie Adam immediately apologized to General Loan's family because the picture not only had ended Loan's career, it also deformed the righteous cause of South Vietnam government's in defending against the communists' invasion. Eddie Adam said General Loan was 'right' in executing this stubborn and dangerous spy and if Adam were in Loan's position, he would have done the same thing. The Americans probably have sympathy toward General Loan more than ever after the September 11th, 2001 attack by Al Qaeda. In war, commanders have the right to execute spies if these spies are in imminent danger to others."
I'm reading "A Common Quest for Vietnam's Future" by Hoang Duy Hung. The book was given to me by a Vietnamese friend whose great desire is to see Vietnam become a democracy. The book does an excellent job of documenting the history of Vietnam. The author is a nationalist, and really detests communism, but also is pretty hard (and a little paranoid) on US military actions (for example he thinks there might be a link between the assassination of JFK and a 'secret group' of military industrialists in the US - President Diem was killed 3 weeks prior to JFK).
I thought this bit was interesting, regarding the Buddhist monks who killed themselves in defiance of the Diem government (you can see a little paranoid dichotomy in the paragraph):
"The situation became more obscured when on June 11, 1963, at the corner of Le Van Duyet and Phan Dinh Phung streets in Sai Gon, the Most Vererable Thich Quang Duc immolated himself. Madame Nhu ignited the flame of anger not only in Vietnam but all around the world when she called the Buddhist monks as 'shaved head guys' and the self-immolations as 'barbecues." Madame Nhu had the right to suspect that the CIA or the communists were behind the sceen, especially the self-immolation of the Most Vereable Thich Quang Duc because he did not react in pain in the midst of the flame. But her reaction was not wise and unacceptalbe. To many people, her response to the situation was a contempt for Buddhism. At this point, the US no longer wanted to support Diem's government. Seizing this opportunity, the CIA secretly stirred to provoke the Buddhists' hatred against the Ngo family."
Monday, November 19, 2007
Aurora in the Distance
Credit & Copyright: Lance McVay
Explanation: Some auroras can only be seen with a camera. They are called sub-visual and are too faint to be seen with the unaided eye. The reason is that the human eye only accumulates light for a fraction of a second at a time, while a camera shutter can be left open indefinitely. When photographing an already picturesque scene above Juneau, Alaska, USA, a camera caught green sub-visual aurora near the horizon. Auroras are sparked by energetic particles from the Sun impacting the magnetic environment around the Earth. Resultant energetic particles such as electrons and protons rain down near the Earth's poles and impact the air. The impacted air molecules temporarily lose electrons, and when oxygen molecules among them reacquire these electrons, they emit green light. Auroras are known to have many shapes and colors.