A Short Re-Post On Red Sprites And Blue Jets: Cosmic Origins Of Lightning?

I’m a non-scientist, so this is probably partially understood, somewhat accurate, and certainly dated:

Here is a well-done video from the Sprites Project at the University of Alaska:

During what is normally a cloud to ground lightning strike during a thunderstorm, there is occasionally a discharge of energy above the cloud, high up in the atmosphere.  These phenomenae are called blue jets, red sprites, and elves.  They are faint, require a dark background against which to view them, and also require that you be far enough away to see the storm from a distance (preferably from aircraft or a mountain overlooking a plain).

From Christopher Paul Barrington-Leigh’s abstract here, found at the Conjugate Sprites Project (where I got most of this information) page:

“Sprites are highly structured discharges lasting 5 to 100 ms and extending from 40 to 85 km altitude which result from intense electric fields following a major redistribution of electric charge in the troposphere — usually a positive cloud-to-ground return stroke.”

The Runaway Breakdown thesis here’s a quote from wikipedia by Nikolai Lehtinen:

“In the upper atmosphere, cosmic rays striking air molecules within thunderstorms can supply the relativistic electrons which trigger a breakdown in “runaway” mode. The breakdown region is a conductive plasma many tens of meters long, and it can supply the “seed” which triggers a lightning flash.”

An interesting possibility…

Related On This Site: You can get Walter Lewin’s Lectures at MIT for free:  Repost: From MIT OpenCourseWare: Walter Lewin’s Lecture On Lightning

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Via NPR: In Vivian, South Dakota-The Largest Hailstone Ever Recorded?

Full audio here.

The previous record was 7 in in diameter, and fell to the ground in Aurora, Nebraska in 2003.  This is not quite official yet, but is measuring 8 in in diameter and weighing in at 1 lb 15 oz, and was perhaps as large as 11 in before it melted to measured size.

Here’s a graphic on hail formation, and some more information here.  It takes a tremendous amount of lift to keep stones that big aloft.

Also On This Site:  Hurricanes By Popular DemandTornadoes! Some LinksThe Greensburg Tornado on Doppler Radar

A Short Post On Red Sprites And Blue Jets: Cosmic Origins Of Lightning?

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From The NY Times: ‘Pakistan Aids Insurgency In Afghanistan, Reports Suggest’

Full piece here.

As of now, it’s not conclusive (part of the Wikileaks dump).  We’ve known that Pakistan has been playing both ends, but just how much support they give to the extremists on their side of the border might be surprising…and, of course, we still need Pakistan’s cooperation.

Addition:  Obama hasn’t exactly been drumming up European support, which is vital.   The White House says the leak puts national security at risk, which it very well may do.

Addition:  Stewart Baker argues that it’s irresponsible and it’s unethical (same old news), and it’s a vain attempt to have us pull out or claim the injustice of the war.

Another Addition: Is the aim here somewhat similar to the NY Times Mineral Piece?  Eventually, the base over on the left may force Obama to its own contradictions: involve yourself in the affairs of other nations according to your moral obligations, but war is bad, so are corporations, America is seeking blood for oil...From Foreign Policy: ‘Afghanistan Has $1 Trillion In Untapped Mineral Resources?’

Also On This Site: Fareed Zakaria points out that terrorism and the Pakistani state have a close relationship: Fareed Zakaria At Newsweek: ‘Terrorism’s Supermarket’Fareed Zakaria Via FareedZakaria.com: ‘The Real Failed State Risk

Yes, they’ve been playing us for a while (it may be in their political interest to do so): Dexter Filkins In The NY Times: The Long Road To Chaos In Pakistan

Ebrahim Moosa At Bloggingheads Discusses Islamic Reform

Are we headed toward 19th century geo-politics?:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’ From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Geography Of Chinese Power’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

by Ilyasansri

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Via An Emailer: Some Criticism Of Leo Strauss?

A recent book with some criticism of Leo Strauss passed along by an emailer:

How would Straussians reconcile using the logic of Nietzsche (the eternal recurrence and the will to power) to get around…well…Nietzsche…and back to the Greeks, or to the Straussian reason/ revelation distinction.  Has this Nietzschean interpretation of the Greeks led to an unnecessary esotericism in Strauss?  This seems to be the main argument against some of Strauss’ thinking that I could find: he’s not owning up to his debt to Nietzsche.

I’m attracted to the idea that certain interpreters of Strauss also find appealing:  to provide an alternative to the project of reason and its dangers.  Maybe one could return to Plato and to Natural Law and Natural Right thinkers and restore a conversation that could prevent painting us into the corners that old Europe has painted itself into, and a way out from under value speak and excessive relativism, and importing the most toxic European heritage.  I find Strauss’ fact/value distinction and tools to challenge historicism quite compelling as well.

I also don’t necessarily count myself among those who would use Strauss (or Strauss via Nietzsche) to justify one’s religious beliefs directly because I’m more an agnostic if anything. Here’s Dinesh D’Souza taking that route (using Nietzsche to defend his religious beliefs) in a debate against Daniel Dennett:

I’m aware I haven’t touched on the depths of the work here.  Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Also On This Site:  Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy’…Here’s Nietzsche scholar J.P. Stern on Nietzsche’s anti-Christian, anti-secular morality (Kant, utilitarians), anti-democratic, and anti-Greek (except the “heroic” Greek) biases…From Wikipedia’s Page On Leo Strauss: A Few Quotes:  From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?

Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…

What are some dangers of the projects of reason in the wake of the Enlightenment: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Repost-Tunku Varadarajan At The Daily Beast: ‘The Skeptic’s Guide To Copenhagen’

Full post here.  (A-Z).

“I don’t believe it’s a conspiracy, or that it’s made up, or that there aren’t plenty of informed individuals who believe it entirely apolitically. However I also believe that the left desperately want it to be true, and would be crushed if some miraculous evidence came to light that disproved it beyond question.”

Worth a look.  It’s entirely reasonable to be skeptical of the foolish idealism and re-sentiment being directed toward government action and economic regulation.

Related On This Site:  Bjorn Lomborg saw this coming a while ago, pricking the mighty Al Gore (who is moving beyond satire):  From The WSJ-A Heated Exchange: Al Gore Confronts His Critics

From Watts Up With That: Richard Lindzen On Positive Climate Feedback

From Chris Colose: Lindzen On Climate Feedback

Andrew Revkin In The NY Times: Global Warming Moderation From Bloggingheads: On Freeman Dyson’s Global Warming Heresy…From The WSJ-A Heated Exchange: Al Gore Confronts His Critics…From The Literary Review–Weather Channel Green Ideology: Founder John Coleman Upset.

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From The DOD Website: ‘National Guard to Deploy Troops to Mexican Border’

Full piece here.

“The citizen-soldiers and -airmen will serve alongside federal agents for one year as an augmentation force. The troops will work to prevent illegal immigration and drug trafficking north of the border, as well as to counter weapons and cash smuggling going south, Alan Bersin, CBP commissioner, said today at a Pentagon news conference.”

Perhaps not too big of a deal, for now.

I would point out that there are rational safety and economic reasons that people join the drug gangs:  they can have protection (for a while) and they can make money (even, and perhaps for some, especially if, it’s dirty).  Greed and fear, the survival instinct, murder, cunning and the naked desire for power rule in daily operation.

What is our national interest in helping Mexico develop a better educational system…a stronger economy…a more representative government with more equality of opportunity with the resources they already have?

How should, and would we even pursue such goals (keeping in mind how our ideas motivate us by using military force and soft power in other parts of the world, by using international institutions and alone, by using direct diplomacy or not)?

We have a long, shared border, and thousands upon thousands of daily interactions near and across it.  Obama’s too far left on this for me, and I don’t like the poitics of it.  I have little faith in immigration reform as he’s (kind of, and for many political reasons) proposing.

Related On This Site:  Repost-Immigration: Will A Wall Work? From Commonweal: Andrew Bacevich “The War We Can’t Win: Afghanistan And The Limits Of American Power” Reno Man Takes Down Mexican Flag With Army Knife

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Sunday Quotation: From the Cambridge Companion To Plato-T.H. Irwin’s “Plato: The intellectual Background’

Found here——Kraut, Richard.  The Cambridge Companion to Plato. New York, NY:  Cambridge University Press, 1992.

“The Peloponennisian War created the sorts of tension in Athens that would appear to support Thucydides’ analysis.  Obligations to the community required greater sacrifice and presented a clearer conflict with the self-seeking “Homeric” pursuit of one’s status, power and pleasure.  In political terms, people had to decide whether or not to plot against the democracy to bring off an Olgarchic coup.  In moral terms they had to decide whether or not to ignore the demands of the community, summed up in the requirements of “justice,” in favor of their own honor, status, power, and in general their perceived interest.  Plato was familiar with people who preferred self-interest over other-regarding obligation; his own relatives, Critias and Charmides, made these choices when they joined the Thirty Tyrants.

Arguments from natural philosophy did not restrain people like Critias and Charmides.  Democritus argues unconvincingly that the requirements of justice and the demands of nature, as understood by Atomism, can be expected to coincide. Protogoras rejects the view that moral beliefs are true and well grounded only if they correspond to some reality independent of believers; admittedly they are matters of convention, but so are all other beliefs about the world.  This line or argument removes any ground for preferring nature over convention, but at the same time seems to remove any rational ground for preferring one convention over another.”

Also On This Site: What are some dangers of the projects of reason in the wake of the Enlightenment: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Leo Strauss tried to tackle that problem, among others with the reason/revelation distinction, did he succeed?:  Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy’

Why is it so important to build a secular structure…what are some of the arguments for doing so…or at least for deeper equality through the laws: : Repost: Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder…From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum

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David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘An Economy Of Grinds’

Full post here.

“The aspiring grinds, meanwhile, are dead in the water. Small businesses are not growing. They are not hiring. They are struggling to stay alive.”

Brooks argues that current government policy is propping up the big businesses (to prevent systemic failure I assume), but is not watering the roots, nor the small businesses.  While a little melodramatic, it’s important to watch is that this does not become permanent.

The Obama administration is looking pretty statist to me (and will still claim those who disagree in principle are merely obstructionist).  I do not trust the left’s internal contradictions (businesss are bad, let’s tax them to support our favored policy…businesses are free so long as they meet our ideals which shall often be overseen by federal authority) and believe them quite capable of crushing small business opportunity under their idealism, the confusion of idealism for politics (how politicians actually behave) and the desire for social, and other, forms of justice.

One of the interesting questions this raises for independents might be:  Do you still look for any shred of a centrist Obama?  He did spend great political capital on health-care.  He did rebuke the teacher’s unions.  He has been decent on Afghanistan.

When I weigh the evidence, however, of some what has been passed and what might be passed:  GM Bailout,  Health-Care Reform, Financial Reform, looking For Cap-And-Trade…I would vote Obama out as soon as I could, for what my vote is worth.

Also On This Site:     Barack Obama President Elect: A Few Hopes From An IndependentRepost-Lawrence Lessig At Bloggingheads: ‘Fixing Our Broken System?’From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And Pakistan

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From The Volokh Conspiracy: ‘From “Liberaltarianism” to Libertarian Centrism?’

Full post here.

Are you more socially liberal, but fiscally conservative?  Do you want a smaller state and also to emphasize personal freedom?

Is the rise in Libertarianism just due to some other cycles at work in American politics (liberals currently in power?), or maybe a decline in religious belief (or just the back end of the  conservative-religious right alliance falling apart?).

There are libertarians wise enough to know that in politics, maybe you don’t really have any friends, just potential allies for a time.

Also On This Site:  Does libertarianism thrive in California, and/or is it just when liberals have more control?:  Libertarianism In The Mainstream?: Rand Paul In The Spotlight

Kant is a major influence on libertarians, from Ayn Rand to Robert Nozick:  A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”…Link To An Ayn Rand Paper: The Objectivist Attack On Kant

Liberaltarianism?:  Will Wilkinson And Jonah Goldberg On Bloggingheads: Updating Libertarianism?From Reason’s Hit And Run: What Kind Of Libertarian Are You?

Am I A Libertarian?

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