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Month: August 2010

Triple sun appears over Leshan in China – baffles scientists

Triple sun appears over Leshan in China – baffles scientists

On July 26th, the Chinese city of Leshan witnessed a phenomenon that’s puzzling experts: What appeared to be three suns in the sky at once:

The best guess so far was a kind of Sun dog (see the images of the ones in Antarctica to get really blown away).  Perhaps it is due to the fact Leshan is known for having terrible amounts of air pollution.  My conjecture?  Sun dogs are created by ice crystals bending light (the ice bends light by 22 degrees – and can even do other effects if the crystals start aligning as the fall uniformly to the ground); perhaps an airborn chemical/pollutant in the area bends light by different amounts to get this effect.  Should be a way to find out what the local factories are pumping into the air, do some samples at low/medium/high altitudes, and see their refractive properties are when combined with ice/water in the air…

Another strange phenomenon:

This isn’t the only recent weird sky phenomenon that has scientists scratching their heads.  Discredited for years, it’s now pretty clear that before some earthquakes – strange ‘lights’ appear in the sky.  This has only come to light in the last 3 years or so with widely photographed and filmed lights before the gigantic earthquake in China a few years back, and several more recent events in Chile.

This has lead all kinds of conspiracy theory nuts go wild about it being because of HAARP experiments, the coming 2012 Maya apocalypse, UFO’s, ‘scalar weapons’, etc.  Still – it’s intriguing and very curious stuff.

Here’s a video of the lights supposedly taken only 30 minutes before the great Chinese quake:

Top stolen cars in America

Top stolen cars in America

Thought that the Honda Accord or Toyota Camery was on the list?  Think again.  Following a recent trend towards the theft of trucks over SUV’s – there are only 3 cars on the top 10, and none of them are made by Honda or Toyota.  Behold – the list of top stolen vehicles as compiled by the Highway Loss Data Institute.  See the article for an interesting discussion of the trends over time.

  1. Cadallac Escalade – The top most stolen car is the Escalade which has topped the list every year since 2002.
  2. Chevy Silverado pickup
  3. Dodge Charger
  4. Chevy Avalanche
  5. Infinity G37
  6. GMC Sierra Crew Cab
  7. Nissan Maxima
  8. Hummer H2
  9. GMC Yukon 4WD
  10. Chevy Tahoe

And guess what people apparently don’t like?  Here’s the least most stolen:

  1. Saturn VUE
  2. Nissan Murano
  3. Toyota Sienna 4WD
  4. Honda Pilot 4WD
  5. Volvo S80
  6. Mini Cooper
  7. Toyota Prius
  8. Subaru Impreza

Interesting.  I guess car thieves don’t like fuel efficiency, 2-seater convertables, foreign trucks, or ‘family friendly’ cars.

Weed out your friends you stool pigeon!

Weed out your friends you stool pigeon!

I find this an interesting concept on how local governments are starting to deal with deep budget cuts.  I wonder what other services could become on-line like this – and the bigger question of what government services *should* be delivered like this.  I found the recent app contest to be an interesting concept – and considered a few entry ideas myself.  Right now, there is already an iPhone app that allows you to report problems – but only for city-owned lands. However, it appears individual departments aren’t waiting for others to come up with ideas for them:

Last week, the City of Portland launched a pilot program that encourages neighbors to send in online complaints with photographs of overgrown grass and weeds on other people’s lawns.  Offending property owners could face fines of $216 a month.  The city requirement is that grass be less than 10 inches high.

The Bureau of Development Services ran into deep financial problems last year when building permits and fees dried up because construction slowed amid the recession. The bureau responded to the reduction by slashing jobs (they laid off 18 people of their 34 – over half the staff) . One of the first casualties was the enforcement program for getting rid of neighborhood eyesores and hazards like dry grass, which can cause fires.

One consequence of complaining online is that the names of people who inform on their neighbors will become a matter of public record, so there’s no hope of remaining anonymous. (BDS says it won’t volunteer the name of the complainant to the bad neighbor, however.)

So, if you wanna rat out your neighbors, go here:

Neighborhood cartoonist John Callahan dies

Neighborhood cartoonist John Callahan dies

Just found out that John Callahan – the cartoonist of oft-irreverent fair – died July 24th. He lived in my neighborhood in NW Portland. I used to run into him a good bit in the video store, on the street, etc. Very intriguing character to talk to for sure.

Personally, he seemed a guy that fought with a lot of personal demons/suffering – but still attempted to always rise above them and constantly work on himself.  I salute him for never seeming to give up despite the tremendous difficulties he seemed to endure – difficulties that probably would have driven other men to give up on themselves and the idea of living as full a life as possible.