Dear Americans….

…hi there. I know you read this blog, I’ve seen your traces on my geotracker. That’s ok, I take it as a compliment. But we have to talk.


See here, over the last 2 years us Europeans (and the rest of the world, I presume) have started to warm to you again. You have an amazing president who (while not being able to deliver everything within the first two years but had a good stab at it) has singlehandedly turned around the perception that the rest of the world had of you. I even ended my self-imposed travel ban and visited your lovely east coast after 8 years again and was delighted to meet more open minded, friendly and intelligent people with a thoroughly modern and international outlook than you can shake a stick at, all delighted to be again embraced by the world after 8 years of being the butt of jokes and disliked for a disastrous foreign and domestic politics (and the odd war thrown in). It just re-emphasised my belief in what an amazing bunch of people you can be.

But now this: how in your right mind can you even think about re-electing the same people to congress, senate and state-mansions that turned you into in an international pariah in the first place? Some of them with views that are so alien to the rest of the civilised world that we are constantly shaking our heads.

So, please don’t let the nutters back in. Do you really want to make life harder for this guy:

Thank you for your consideration.

That will be all.


The Antichrist?

While doing the dishes (definitely a man’s job in this household. By choice!) I listened to Matt Frei’s excellent ‘Americana‘, a weekly collection of odd stories from that most entertaining of all showbiz variants: American politics. After Newt Gingrich pretty much confirmed that he will be standing for president in 2010, Frei then proceeded to interview domestic security guru Richard Clarke, who astonished me with the little snippet that according to a Harris Poll 24% of Republicans believe that Barack Obama is the ‘Antichrist‘.


I don’t know what’s worse about this factoid, the amount of rabid religiosity this displays or the sheer stupidity. With Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement gaining momentum, Newt Gingrich looks positively desirable as the next republican candidate.

As someone who lived through the beginnings of his ‘Contract with America’ I never thought I would ever write this.

The Forgotten Satellite

Back in 1998, when men were still men, Paris Hilton not invented and small little furry aliens from Andromeda still small furry aliens from Andromeda, the man who would (almost) be president suggested the design of a satellite mission to the L1 Lagrangian point between Earth and Sun. There it would sit, always facing the sunlit side of the earth in a gravity neutral point (only needing the odd little course correction). Al Gore suggested that the probe’s images of earth should be streamed continuously onto the web, so humanity would have a unobstructable view of its own, fragile habitat. With Al being almost head of the federal government and pretty much the administration’s showcase geek, the suggestion was picked up by NASA and clad in a bit more scientific language.
Dubbed Triana (after the sailor who first spotted the New World on Christobal Columbus’s trip west) Dr. Francisco P.J. Valero from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA was named principal investigator and the NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center was chosen to guide the little bird into space.
After some consultation its scientific use was beefed up a bit and it was built featuring a radiometer (Scripps-National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR)) and a 10-channel imaging spectroradiometer (Scripps-Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC)). Apart from making pretty pictures, it was designed to measure the earth’s reflectivity (or Albedo) and give our climatologists an idea about the world’s vegetation canopy structure, aerosol particle size distribution in the atmosphere, cloud structure and atmospheric measurements. By now renamed DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory {who actually comes up with those acronyms?}) it was tanked by the republicans in congress who called it “Goresat”.


“This idea supposedly came from a dream. Well, I once dreamed I caught a 10-foot bass. But I didn’t call up the Fish and Wildlife service and ask them to spend $30 million to make sure it happened.”
Dick Armey,  then House Majority Leader

Even though endorsed in 2001 after a review process by a National Academy of Sciences panel, DSCOVR still sits in its box in Maryland. The French government offered to launch DSCOVR via the ESA for free, as did the Ukrainians. In 2006, NASA canceled the mission altogether mentioning something about “competing priorities”. In 2005, white house press secretary Scott McClellan stated “there is still a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the science of climate change”.

What a shame they didn’t do something to clarify things.

Then last year came Omnibus Appropriations Bill 1105, stating:

“The bill provides $9,000,000 for NASA to refurbish and ensure flight and operational readiness of DSCOVR earth science instruments.”

And now?

Nothing. I have no idea what Al Gore did to NASA, but I don’t think they like him much there. In the meantime, we should start printing T-shirts.

Bigot of the week

If you have ever doubted that there’s something significantly wrong with the Christian right in the U.S., this should once and for all make you afraid. Very afraid:

” If we were living in a biblical society, homosexuality would be punishable by death so such a school would be unnecessary. Although I’m against the special accommodations, perhaps this new trend of segregation will protect straight kids from these predators. With any luck, some radical will blow up the gay school.”

So much for the benefits of homeschooling.

update 22.10.08 18:00: seems like the offensive entry has been removed by after relentless flagging of the reddit community. Well done. The offensive entry can sill be read here, though.