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).
“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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
“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.
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.