Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday Scientific Instrument Blogging - An Easy One

instruments 001

Julia's Continuing African Adventures

Our latest communication from Julia:

I am back at Karen from lake Nakuru, but only for about an hour because then we are headed to Shompole for some quality time with the Maasai, including a boma homestay of two nights, not really sure what we are going to eat when we are there with them, but hey it should be an adventure. Lake Nakuru was amazing, we saw soooo many cool animals, including lots of white rhino, and one black rhino, 3 leopards, a pride of 7 lions and one mom lion with her two cubs, a lot of cape buffalo, and over 2 million flamingos. We were able to get really close to the animals. We took land cruisers, so we got to sit on the roof of them and get a good view of everything. One day we spent counting these cactus trees too. The trip went by fast, the weather was chilly in the late afternoon and evening but nice and warm during the day!


Info on Lake Nakuru from the internet:

Lake Nakuru is a small, shallow, alkaline-saline lake located in a closed basin without outlets in the Eastern Rift Valley of equatorial East Africa. It is the centre of a most familiar national park of Kenya known for its spectacular bird fauna (495 species), particularly the vast flock of lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor). Being in the Rift Valley where tectonic and volcanic activities as well as climatic changes have been very remarkable, the lake underwent drastic changes during the recent geological ages. About 10,000 years ago, Nakuru and its two neighbor lakes, Elmenteita and Naivasha (60 km south of Nakuru), formed a single deep freshwater lake, which however dried owing to the later desiccation of climate leaving the three separate lakes as remnants. The present maximum depth is about three meters, but the lake water level is still quite variable; the whole lake had been almost dried up several times during the past 50 years (Fig. AFR-07-02) due to unknown reasons. The lake is a soda-lake with a water pH value of 10.5 and an alkalinity of 122 meq l-1. Main ions are sodium and bicarbonate-carbonate. The biota in the lake is very simple as in other saline lakes, consisting of phytoplankters dominated by blue-green algae and very poor planktonic and benthic fauna originally lacking fish. However, the lake is highly eutrophic owing to the vigorous growth of a planktonic blue-green alga, Spirulina platensis, which supports an immense number of alga.grazing lesser flamingo and an increasing population of the introduced fish, Sarotherodon alcalicum grahami, though, in the last several years since 1974, the planktonic productivity and the flamingo population decreased abruptly.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Dinner At My House!

There will be martinis and Dubonnet at cocktail time. Dinner will begin with terrapin soup and sherry, then move on to the turbot and a sincere Sancerre. Next will come the beef Wellington, accompanied by a decent Mouton Rothschild. We will stay with the red wine through the salad and cheese course, and naturally crepes suzette will require Dom Perignon. After dinner, when the gentlemen retire to the library and the ladies upstairs with the hostess, the postprandial liqueurs will be served. [Thank-you Sally Quinn!]


Last June, the polling firm Zogby International asked an important question. If it is found that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, should Congress hold him accountable through impeachment? 42% of those polled said yes while 50% said no.

The people at recently asked Zogby to poll the question again. Zogby refused to do it. So raised money to pay Ipsos Public Affairs to poll the question. "If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable by impeaching him?" 50% said yes and 44% said no. A big change in only 3 months. Support for Clinton impeachment was much lower than this, with only 36% supporting impeachment. notes that "the strong support for impeachment found in this poll is especially surprising because the views of impeachment supporters are entirely absent from the broadcast and print media, and can only be found on the Internet and in street protests, including the large anti-war rally in Washington on September 24." And that, "The lack of coverage of impeachment support is due in part to the fact that not a single Democrat in Congress has called for impeachment".

Lying about blow job = impeachment
Lying to get us into war = ?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

White House Iraq Group

This is the group whose job it was to help Bush convince the American people that invading Iraq was a good idea. Basically, they were the 'marketing' group for the Iraq War. They are the ones that came up with the idea that Saddam had nukes or would have them soon. Members of that group were: Karl Rove, I. Scooter Libby, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, Stephen Hadley, Condoleeza Rice, Nicholas Calio (?), and James R. Wilkinson. It is possible that the Plame leak affair may have originated with this group. Documents from that group have been requested by Fitzgerald at least two times. This means conspiracy, which means lots of people could go down. Christmas could come in October!

The conspiracy would have been to intentionally lie to the American people in order to get them to support declaring war on Iraq.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Valerie Plame Affair - Anybody Remember?

What was the major reason the Bush admin. put forth for going to war with Iraq. Well, it was the supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq. Remember we don't need to wait for a mushroom cloud before we defend ourselves from Iraq (paraphrase). It was repeated by Bush, Cheney, and Rice time and time again.

So to settle the question of whether Iraq was trying to purchase yellowcake (an unpurified source of uranium) from Niger, Cheney told the CIA to check it out. They sent ex-ambassidor Joe Wilson to Niger, who then reported back that there was nothing to the allegation that Iraq was trying to purchase yellowcake from Niger. Remember this all happened before we invaded Iraq.

So Bush and company must have known that their wmd claims were doubtful. Even without Scott Ritter yelling over and over that they were not true. Of course Bush ignored Wilson's report and read the famous '16' words in his State of the Union address ("The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa"). Bush needed to exaggerate the evidence to get us into war with Iraq quickly. Possession of WMD was the key to invasion. And, thus we very quickly went off to war to prevent a nuclear (nucular) attack on the USA.

Shortly thereafter Wilson published a guest editorial in the NYT stating that he had found the Niger yellowcake/Iraq allegations to be bogus and subsequently reported such to the CIA.

Since the reason for going to war was WMD, this meant that Karl Rove had to do what he does best. Smear and attack his opponent. He decided to do this by 'outing' Wilsons wife, an undercover CIA agent. Of course he (and Scooter Libby) denied outing Plame (it's been subsequently shown that they both lied about this).

This case has been investigated by Patrick Fitzgerald for the last 2.5 yrs and I expect (and hope) indictments to come down well before the end of this month. If there is a G_d I am hoping that Rove and Libby will be indicted. It would be especially awesome if Bush and/or Cheney were unindicted co-conspirators. Wouldn't mind seeing NYT reporter Judith Miller and Bob Novak end up frog marched into the courtroom as well. We'll see.

Democratic Contract With America

In a week or so the Democrats are coming out with their version of a badly needed "Contract with America". It should and probably will look something like this:

1. A fiscal responsibility act - no spending without identifying how you are going to pay for it. I believe the Clinton admin. had something like this.

2. A right to healthcare act - affordable health insurance for everyone. If Vermont can do it, why can't the rest of the country?

3. A Corporations pay their fair share act - no more no-bid contracts to Haliburton

4. A freedom from middle eastern oil act - an energy policy that will make us energy independent within the next decade

5. A government integrity and accountability act - maybe congressmen should not be allowed to vote on acts that affect companies they have taken money from.

We need Democrats to sign off on something like this and then we need to hold their feet to the fire to insure they keep their word. I for one will be as critical of corrupt Democrats as I am now of corrupt Republicans. Let all corrupt politicians be released, unarmed in the middle of Bagdad.