Real-time Earth and Moon phase

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Power from ocean waves

Calgary Herald carried an article this morning entitled "It's time to capture power of ocean waves" by Reese Halter which covered some good points. Particular this one:

So far, Canadian and U.S. Departments for Energy have not spent a dime on ocean wave technologies, yet over a billion dollars has funded nuclear fusion and space-based power, with no tangible results.

which combines with this statement:
. . . 15 per cent of the world's energy is just waiting to be harnessed from the constant ebb and flow of the ocean.
should put politicians of both countries in shame.

This well researched article indicated that there are more than 50 wave technology companies
around the globe are using almost 60 years of experience with deep-sea oil platforms as they hurry to deploy wave farms. There are currently more than a half a dozen wave farms generating electricity in Europe and Australia. And at least another dozen much larger farms will be operational within 24 months.
As
Human ingenuity has created at least four marvellous variations of machines outfitted with turbines and pistons, all with a common goal of capturing the energy of ocean waves and turning it into clean, green electricity.
The article goes into some brief introductions of these various ingenious machines. I have only two mild critics: the article did not give any reference for further details and it neglects to mention any developments from Japan. I think the Japanese is also active in this area for many years.

The article has this optimistic outlook:

The race is underway for each of these designs and many others to generate jobs and clean, green electricity. There are no problems the fertile human mind cannot overcome.

Somehow hearing only empty lip services from the politicians so far, I am not holding my breath for any rosy thought yet!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Freaque waves in Lake Michigan

This news in Chicago local Evanston Review yesterday:
Two Evanston residents were pulled from Lake Michigan waters south of 
Dempster Street Tuesday afternoon after their boat was hit by a "rogue 
wave," capsizing the vessel into the water.

Evanston fire rescue personnel teamed with members of the city Parks and
 Recreation department and U.S. Coast Guard, pulling the couple, a 
66-year-old male, and 47-year-old female, to safety, said Evanston Fire
 Chief Alan Berkowsky.

reported a "rogue wave" in Lake Michigan. That itself is newsworthy. Of course my immediate question is "What kind of rogue wave?"
Berkowsky said the victims were pulled from the water about a half mile out.
 He said they were then placed on the Coast Guard boat and then taken to the
 Coast Guard's station in Wilmette Harbor.



Both boaters were evaluated by Wilmette Fire paramedics and then released,
 he said.



Berkowsky described the boaters, who were not identified, as experienced. He said the boaters said their boat was capsized when hit with what they described as a "rogue wave, a large wave which basically took them by surprise and rolled the boat over."

That certainly answered my question. "A large wave took them by surprise" clearly signified the stipulation that a freaque wave was encountered.

So it reminds us again that a freaque wave can happen any place, any time with no advance warning to take us by surprise. But we are still don't have any notion of what, where, when, how or why it occurs!

The price of Marxists' self-gratification

Now that Olympic 2008 is over, I have been trying to find some sober reflections to wrap up this event and I found it in the Press Release of the Human Rights in China (HRIC) with a composed title: "2008 Beijing Olymppics: The Price of National Glorification."

Yes, indeed, behind all those oos and aahs of the hoopla, one has to ask what's the price?

Here's the essence:
"The Chinese authorities have blatantly and successfully used the Games to achieve political goals—putting the international community on notice that China is a powerful gold-medal state and stoking patriotism and national pride among countless Chinese. Yet the carefully orchestrated facade could not conceal a police state that tramples on human rights," said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom.

Well past the closing ceremony, long after all the foreign guests have left, it is the Chinese people who will continue to shoulder the enormous financial, environmental, and social costs of hosting the Games.
Now the article accurately recaps what had happened:
Truth or Image?
On August 8, spectators saw a show of a unified and proud nation. But soon afterward came the revelations that the powerful images projected were not the whole story: the televised fireworks display was digitally enhanced; the 9-year-old girl who sang the "Ode to the Motherland" was made to lip synch a more perfect voice of the little girl deemed not cute enough to serve the national interest; and all of the children in the parade meant to celebrate China's 56 ethnic minority groups were in fact Han, the dominant ethnicity of China.


The message is clear: this is just a show, the truth does not matter.

Official Promises, People's Sacrifices
When making its bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games, the Chinese authorities pledged to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the international community, and the Chinese people that hosting the Games would promote not just the development of Beijing, but the development of society, including democracy and human rights. In the end, the government did not only fail to live up to its promise to improve the human rights situation in China, it worsened it, in the name of beautifying Beijing and providing security.

Since 2001, an estimated 1.5 million people have been forced out of their homes to make way for Olympics venue construction, with little or no compensation for their losses. In the same effort to cleanse perceived unsightliness from Beijing, one million migrant workers used for construction were asked to leave the city before the Olympics began. Even the prison population suffered: He Depu, an inmate of Beijing’s No. 2 Prison, recently revealed that, in 2007, as a result of remodeling the roof of the prison to welcome the Olympics, prisoners there were not even allowed to go outside for fresh air for six months.

Throughout the preparations and the staging of the Games, the IOC kept its head in the sand when faced with reports of violations of media access, crackdowns and round-ups, and concerns about air pollution hazards. While insisting on the apolitical nature of the event, the IOC enabled the Chinese government to ignore its Olympics promises and exploit the Olympics as a political tool to achieve nationalistic goals at the expense of its people.

Enforced Harmony, not a Free and Open Olympics
In the final months leading up to the Games' opening, Human Rights in China reported on scores of individuals who were harassed, monitored, detained, or forced to leave town by security forces, all in the name of ensuring a "peaceful" Olympics. Those outside the capitol deemed politically sensitive were put under tight surveillance and explicitly prohibited from going to Beijing. During the Games, the Chinese authorities continued their crackdowns on activists, petitioners, bloggers, concerned citizens, and lawyers—apparently undeterred by the international spotlight focused on Beijing and China. Largely outside of international scrutiny, the Chinese authorities continued their crackdowns in Tibet and Xinjiang.

After designating three public parks in Beijing for protests and demonstrations, the government granted not one of the 77 applications to stage protest. Two elderly applicants have been sentenced to Reeducation-Through-Labor. Even foreign journalists seeking to report on human rights, ethnic tensions, or social unrest were subjected to intimidation and crude police tactics, and in a few cases harassed, detained, or even beaten for simply trying to report the news.

Finally, the vast collection of bio-metric data gathered on the hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists, journalists, and government officials should have, but did not, raise serious privacy and human rights alarms regarding the appropriate storage and use of this data. Yet it will be Chinese citizens who will be the main targets of this enhanced surveillance and security system—China's new "Police State 2.0." Part of the evidence cited in the decision sentencing the two elderly petitioners to Reeducation-Through-Labor, for example, was video evidence.

Now the leading question: what and who's paying the price?
The total costs of staging a show of national glorification will be borne by the ordinary people in China, a fact perhaps not immediately apparent to the foreign visitors who marveled at the splendid new architecture on the temporarily cleaned-up streets of Beijing. The Chinese government spent close to $43 billion to host the Beijing Olympics, the most expensive Games ever in Olympic history. That is almost one-third of the projected $146 billion needed to rebuild the areas devastated by the earthquake in Sichuan.

The serious air pollution and water shortage crisis in China was both temporarily addressed and worsened by hosting the Games. Although Chinese authorities and the IOC insisted that the air quality posed no problems for the athletes, it is Chinese citizens who will bear the health costs for the ongoing impact of environmental pollution, especially after temporary Olympics air pollution measures are lifted. The Beijing Olympics also consumed an estimated 200 million cubic meters of water—the equivalent of the annual water supply for one million people—all diverted from Hebei, a nearby province facing a severe drought over the past several years.
Finally I have a second thought about calling it the "national glorification." "National" would necessarily implies people, people has no say in this matter. I feel it may be more accurately to call it the "commie rulers' self-glorification" since it's all the totalitarian Marxist commie police state rulers' self grandiose gratification. It has never happened at this scale before, and hopefully it will not ever happen again. Of course the historical glorious accomplishment of Michael Phelps, Shawn Johnson, Nastia Luken and others will not be tarnished wherever the Olympics is being held. But the disgrace of IOC for awarding the Olympics to such a shameful regime will always be a dark cloud hanging over the shameful IOC and Olympic history.

By the way, here are two real pictures you probably have not seen:

and
Yes, the top one shows the "crowded" Water Cube, three is a crowd?! And the bottom was Yao Ming and a little second-grader from Szechuan entering the opening ceremony, note the flag the little boy was holding!

Here's another:


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Award for young heros

Here's also a heart warming story that happened in southwestern part of U.K. earlier this year, but it only come to my attention this morning.

The story is quite straightforward, according to Western Morning News:

On the day of the incident, March 18 this year, the two girls had been sitting on a ramp, leading onto the beach, watching the breaking waves. A freak wave engulfed them and they were bounced onto the ramp railings and the sea wall.

The girls were prevented by powerful local currents and more heavy waves, from standing and drawing breath.

However, Sam and Joe who had been about to leave for home after spending a day surfing, saw the girls in trouble and went to their rescue.

Another report in Herald Express described this way:
Sam McMahon, 15, and his pal Joe Richards, 14 leapt into the sea at Preston Sands after they saw two 12-year-old girls being swept into stormy seas by a freak wave. Holly Osborne and Abigail both from Kingskerswell were dragged into the 'heavy sea with big waves battering the beach'.
The boys are now awarded, deservedly, top bravery honors locally. The case again underscore the ever present dangers of the coastal beach environment. What could have gone wrong by simply sitting on a ramp watching the breaking waves? Everything! There is just no place can be considered safe in the coastal beach area. Never, ever, let your guard down when you are out there.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Science things

Two items captured my interests this morning:

First this "News of the Week" item in Science:

Departments Scramble to Find Math Education Faculty
by Jeffrey Mervis

According to a recent survey, 60% of 128 tenure-track academic jobs advertised last year in mathematics education went unfilled. Although that may be good news for job-seekers, it's another impediment for universities trying to improve U.S. science and math education.

which is somewhat a surprise to me. I am wondering where those vacancies are and if they take a non-mathematician for volunteer.

Next this LA Times column by Joel Stein, talked about a science debate for the presidential candidates, which struck me as a very good idea. Here are the issues Stein suggested followed by my comments:
  • Stem cells: Yea, let's do the adult stem cells!
  • Evolution: OK, who started the whole thing in the first place?
  • Climate change: So what? Climate has been changing throughout the ages!
  • Healthcare: Nationalized it, right? Scheduled your needed emergency care right after you were born and get in line or else you will never able to get it.
  • Sex education: How about just the simple education first?
I don't know who this Stein guy is -- must be a typical drive-by kind to come up with these issues. But issues aside, I think American people would be better served to hear their visions and thinkings about science in the 21st century. Do they have any?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Maarten van der Weijden, a monster of the waves

I nominate the winning of Maarten van der Weijden to be the story of 2008 Olympics. Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands, whom the timesonline.co.uk described him as "a monster of the waves," because he just won the first Olympic marathon swim of 10 km in 1 hr 51 sec and 8 years after he was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukaemia:

At 19, Maarten van der Weijden, of the Netherlands, was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukaemia. Given only a slim chance of survival, his treatment included chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant, the scars of brain surgery are still visible on his shaven head.

At 27 and three years beyond need of medication, he is the first Olympic 10km marathon champion, a man hailed as swimming's Lance Armstrong. As others limped away from the pontoon in the rowing lake after a blistering final in which David Davies delivered a silver medal for Britain, the experienced Dutchman had a spring in his giant step.

At 6ft 7in, Van der Weijden is a monster of the waves. Where 23-year-old Davies, whose medal was all the more remarkable for the race being only his third over 10km, described the champion as being “like man mountain”, Mark Warkentin, the American, who finished eighth said: “Maarten's like this huge liner that you can't get round, and we're like little yachts being washed away.”


According to Craig Lord of The Times who described his winning as :
. . . relied less on physical size, however, than the magnitude of his mental capacity to deal with pain, attention to detail and experience. “The pain and fatigue that you feel in the water is what I went through for a whole year to beat the cancer, so, I know what to expect.” Given a new lease of life, Van der Weijden leaves nothing to chance. He has spent his nights in Beijing sleeping in a low-oxygen tent in his room at the Olympic Village to simulate high-altitude conditions and wearing glasses fitted with lights that wake him up fast and help him to produce naturally what the Dutch team doctor described as “higher levels of cortisone” and conquer pain.
I am sure there are other heart warming stories during the 2008 Olympics. Young Mr. van der Weijden is my hero today!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Olympiad update

Half way through the 2008 Olympics, some updates:

Note that while many Tibetans oppose the Commie China hosting the Olympics, the Dalai Lama says he supports the Olympics with this statement as reported by AOL News 10 days ago:
"Right from the time of China's application to hold the Olympic Games, I have supported China's right to host the Games. This is a moment of great pride to the 1.3 billion Chinese people. These Games should contribute to promoting the Olympic spirit of friendship, openness and peace,"

and the Dalai Lama's statement added: "I send my prayers and good wishes for the success of the event."
Well, here are the words of Dalai Lama today as reported by Reuters:
The Dalai Lama said on Saturday China was mistreating and torturing civilians in Tibet while the Olympic Games were going on.

"Unfortunately the Olympic spirit is not being respected at all by Chinese officials in Tibet," he said in an interview on France's TF1 television, when asked if the tradition of an Olympic truce was being respected.

"There are restrictions on the circulation of information, very strong censorship," he said.

"Civilians are often arrested, violently tortured to the point where they die. It's really very, very sad," he said.

One can easily sense the pain for Dalai Lama to say these. But he must have fully aware of the nature of the thugs Commie regime and will not be surprised by what's really happening to his homeland.

Life in their hands

In the WalesOnline today there is a fabulous article entitled "Your life in their hands," by Abbie Wightwick of Western Mail, saluting the volunteer rescuers of the RNLI, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, a charity that saves lives at sea around the coast of Great Britain, Ireland, and inshore since 1824. The article tells a lot of heart warming stories of being a volunteer.

IT’S 2am on an icy winter’s morning. You’re snuggled under the duvet in the deepest realms of sleep when a pager goes off.

You are cruelly and suddenly shot into the waking world. You have minutes to race through wind and rain and head to sea in a boat which hugs the surface as waves crash around you.

Gale force winds whip into the vessel and spray stings your face in the dark.

Someone miles out in the chilly black brine is facing death. They need you. Will you reach them in time?

The scene is pertaining to volunteers of the Wales as being the "reality to hundreds of men and women across Wales who voluntarily operate lifeboats 365 days and nights a year" but it can be certainly applied to the rescuers all around the world. And this:
Since Wales’ first lifeboat station opened in Fishguard in 1822, two years before the RNLI officially launched, hundreds of lives have been saved. Dozens of lifeboat crews have also lost their lives, although this is rare now.
Yes, indeed they risk their own life to save others lives. In the words of Mr. Willem de Vogel, one of the first teenage crew members at Atlantic College in the 1960s, still remembers his first rescue off Wales:

“It was November 1968. There was a very severe storm and four men had been swept off a wreck onto the Tusker Rocks in the Bristol Channel. They were going to be swept off by the waves,” he says. “I went out in a crew of three that night. When we got there it was almost dark. We saved all four.

“Later we got a letter from the RNLI saying we’d done good work and risked our lives, but it was just what we were trained to do. It was our dream to go out and rescue people.

“We were young. We were 18 and invincible.”

After talked to the many volunteer rescuers, the author commented:
It seems a nerve wracking existence to live your life on constant alert to be called out to potentially life-threatening situations.
And she thinks that's exactly what attracts the volunteers – "the thrill and the knowledge that they are doing something useful in a world that can be mundane." And stories like this one:

One day the Penarth crew was called to a family who had powered out in their motor boat to picnic on a sandbank in the middle of the channel. Their private beach soon became lethal as the tide quickly rose to swallow it, threatening to engulf them and battering their boat alongside.

“There were five members of a family and they didn’t all have life jackets,” Sarah recalls. “The children were fine but the parents were not. They realised how close they all were to drowning.”

That was one lucky family to have these volunteer rescuers around!

Mr. Graham Heritage, who's the helmsman of the inshore lifeboat, says sea rescue is in his blood:

“Once you join you get the buzz and everything else revolves around that,” he explains.“My father was in the crew and I was in sailing and power boats from an early age.

“You can get a false sense of security going out in the lifeboat.

“It can be blowing like hell but you don’t really realise how hard the wind is until you open the hatches and there’s some poor fellow on a boat waving his arms at you.

“You have to be 100% dedicated. We train every Monday night in the boathouse and launch the boat and we have to keep up with the navigation and radar.

“It is exciting. When you get a shout the adrenaline just starts pumping. We get about two a week on average, but you can have four in a day or none for weeks. It just depends. Sometimes I’ve had shouts just as my wife Jackie is serving Sunday roast. She’s used to it now.

“We had two shouts last Monday. The first was two fellows in an inflatable kayak rowing to the wind farm 14 miles off. We picked them up three miles off Colwyn Bay. “A bit later at 10.30pm we had five lads in an inflatable who got swept out. They were in their early teens.”

Another important to ponder in the words of Graham:

He agrees that some people don’t respect the sea but fiercely defends the need for the service to be independent and free.

“People say why don’t the government run the lifeboat service or why don’t people pay to be rescued?

“The Government would ruin it. They’d shut down stations and change the rules. It’s better run by volunteers If people had to pay they might wait too long before calling us out.”

It is hard work and there’s no pay, but that is not what motivates crews.

“When you rescue someone that makes it all worth it.

“I have been to rescues where people have died. We get people falling off cliffs and a lad drowned when he got cut off by the tide and five people died in a speedboat that capsized.

“If a body has been in the water a long time it’s not pleasant.

“You have 100% confidence in the boat and crew but you have to be aware of the dangers. There could be a rogue wave or something could go wrong.

“The boat goes straight through the waves. Some of the younger lads on the crew think that’s fantastic. They’ve not seen the danger, but I’ve been doing this 21 years and I have.

“You can get hit by a wave in the dark and it could knock you over. You have to be constantly alert.”


Here's the words from the one being rescued:

Michael Jones, 38, from Pontardawe was windsurfing when he got into difficulty when his mast snapped in rough conditions off Newton in May.

“There was a strong offshore wind which was blowing me out to sea, it was certainly quite choppy,” he recalls. “I was about a mile out. I didn’t have my winter wet suit on so I was pretty cold. I was lying on the board trying to paddle against the tide.

“I was very grateful to see the lifeboat. I was being blown out to sea and there are rocks which can be quite nasty.

“It hasn’t put me off wind surfing though. It’s a bit of an addiction.”

I think we can all agre with Wightwick's final comment about the rescuers:
Without them our beaches and seas would be even more perilous.
Well said!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The case of Yacht Kaz II

I blogged about the case of yacht Kaz II as part of a post entitled "Peril of yachting in the South Ocean" last year. Kaz II has been branded as a ghost ship ever since she was found on April 18, 2007 while drifting with engine running but no crew on board. TimesOnline reported a week later that pthe three men crew "were most like washed overboard in a violent squall or freak wave according to police" among other possible explanations.

Well, there was a "coronial' inquiry being conducted last week and this morning the Guardian reported the coroner's ruling. First a recap of the case:

The trio, described as "typical Aussie blokes", vanished after setting sail on April 15 last year on a planned two-month trip, bound for Western Australia where they all lived. Three days later, the white-painted vessel which Mr Batten had only recently bought for £60,000 was found adrift and with a ripped sail about 100 miles north-east of Townsville, near the Whitsunday islands.

The engine was idling, a half-empty cup of coffee and a laptop computer were sitting on a table, a newspaper was lying open with some pages strewn on the floor and clothing had been piled on a bench.

The men went to sea with a large supply of food, three cases of beer, a .44 calibre rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition, the inquest was told.

Now the finding:

Coroner Michael Barnes said evidence put before him during a four day inquest led him to conclude that "an unfortunate series of events," befell the trio, who were all relatively inexperienced sailors, only a few hours after they set sail.

In the scenario he laid out, the coroner said one of the brothers attempted to free a fishing line that had become wrapped around the yacht's propeller when he fell overboard. The other brother fell in while trying to rescue him.

Mr Batten tried to drop the sails so he could turn around and go back for his two friends but a change in the wind's direction caused the yacht's boom to swing and knock him overboard.

"Once the three men were in the water there was very little chance they could get back on the boat," he said. "It would be beyond their reach in seconds. From that point, the end would have been swift.

"None of them was a good swimmer, the seas were choppy, they would have quickly become exhausted and sunk beneath the waves. Although I can't exclude the possibility of a shark attacking them, drowning is a far more likely cause of death."

which is a very plausible scenario. I am impressed. I guess an important piece of evidence which might not have made public before was shown to the court, in which the skipper, Des Batten, was holding the camera and
Jim Tunstead can be seen fishing while he and Mr Batten are heard mocking Peter Tunstead, a non-swimmer, who was sitting fishing at the back with the safety rail down. He was not wearing a lifejacket. In the film, the men talk about "threatening skies" ahead.
That seems to be a logical scene that led to the scenario the coroner concluded. They were not good swimmers and they did not bother to wear their lifejacket should also be an important lesson for everyone to learn here.

The seas were choppy, we can not preclude the possible occurrence of a freaque wave. But whether or not a freaque wave occurred, it will not alter in any way the scenario the coroner so brilliantly laid out.

They still have not been able to find their bodies. But at least their yacht, the Kaz II, is no longer a ghost boat.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

One world, one nightmare

I thought I have done with blog on 2008 Olympics, but the radio news early this morning shocked me -- as this guardien.co.uk headline reports: Olympics 2008: US coach's relative murdered in Beijing. People in a police state has no safety at all! Of course the police in the police state is to protect the state and the thug leaders of the state. People is insignificant in the so-called "People's Republic"!


The theme slogan for 2008 Olympics is supposedly "One world, one dream." It appears it is really "One world, one nightmare!" A US tourist got killed while the US President, who was so eager to attend to please the commie leaders, is having fun at beach volleyball.

The designer of the Bird's Nest, Ai Weiwei, who chose not to attend the Olympic Opening, told Jonathan Watts of the Guardian:
"I think it is a shame, it's a loss," said Ai. "The original idea was to invite the international community to China, share the same values, celebrate humanity and goodwill, to speak about peace and social harmony. But today, you see police everywhere; in every neighbourhood there is tight security, not just in Beijing, but everywhere in China. People really live in a police state."
As Watts reported that Ai "feels China is spoiling the atmosphere of the games with an overzealous security operation. According to domestic media, the authorities have mobilised 100,000 police, installed 300,000 surveillance cameras, and sited anti-aircraft missiles next to the stadium. There are three rings of checkpoints on roads into the city, and ID inspections have been stepped up."

In the midst of all these security, an American was killed!

In a country where dissident and critics of the commie regime have been imprisoned, Mr. Ai's outspoken is admirably brave. One can not help wondering what might happen to him when the 2008 Olympics is over?

Update:

According to this report of EpochTime in Chinese, Ai Weiwei made the following comments about the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics:
which can be translated correspondingly as:

A recycling of the rubbish of fake classical culture tradition;

A sacrilegious visual garbage dump and an insult to the spirit of liberty;

Low class sound play that’s just noise pollution;

A showcase of the reincarnation of the Marxist imperialism;

The ultimate paragon of an all embracing culture of fascist totalitarianism;

An encyclopedia that encompasses total defeat in intellectual spirit.

Ai's non-complementary comments, in Chinese, were quite poetic and absolutely brilliant. There's a Chinese expression that says some words can be thrown on the ground and you can hear the sound it makes. Ai's comments really carry that kind of powerfulness. That's why I copied them here. The English translation is an attempt on my part which was not an easy task. Any comments or corrections will be appreciated.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Hour 08:08, August 8, 2008 -- The 2008 Olympics is on

The count down is over, the 2008 Olympics is on. This will be my final blog on the 2008 Olympics which is taking place in the land where I was born but I will not set my feet on as long as the commies are in power. I found two germane comments that fit my mood in this Houston Chronicle article with the title: "For China, Olympics may be transforming moment."

The first one is by Prof. John Hoberman of UT, Austin:
"What the Olympics promote is a form of amoral universalism in which all countries are entitled to take part in the games no matter how barbaric their leaders may be," he said.
But not Winter Olympic gold medalist Joey Cheek whose visa was revoked because he was pleading the Commie China to bring an end to civil war in the Sudanese province of Darfur.

The other comment is given by Sat1212 commenting on the article:
Now that the eye of the world is on China, they will be transformed from a repressive form of government to an ultra repressive form of government......so what if the world is watching, all the better to make the point!!
I have one caveat. When people use the term "China" they generally mean "Communist China" specifically. They should make that clear. The term "China" alone is a broad term that covers all Chinese in the world. I was born and grown-up in China, but that was most definitely not the Commie China that many had mixed-up with.

Some more pictures (downloaded from EpochTimes.com):

Here's a routine picture of a corner of the Tienanmen Square. It's a police state, no big deal.
So's this Olympic opening scene at the Bird Nest:
But no one will know or able to visit and see this Labor Camp just minutes from the Bird Nest:

Not shown in the picture are the torment, persecution, and torture that none of us can even begin to imagine.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Hours to the 2008 Olympic opening

Here we are, hours to go to the 2008 Olympic opening. If you have never seen a police state, here's how it is at work (pictures downloaded from EpochTimes.com):

Have a nice day!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Two days to go to 2008 Olympics

Two days to go to 2008 Olympics (pictures downloaded from articles in EpochTimes.com):



International Olympic Committee (IOC), shame on you! (But bravery and freedom still prevail, Alleluia!)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A local wave news, etc.

Sometimes localized freaque waves happen but the news might not that easy to come by. This news of an encounter of large waves by an orca-watching tour boat, Olympas, last Thursday as reported by Jeff Chew of the Peninsula Daily News was actually referred to from this interesting examiner.com item by Laura Vecsey.

There is still not much details, however, about what was really happened except that it was a freak accident, three surprise waves hit the vessel in a fog bank that "left four passengers slightly injured and a window broken over the bow" and that
The Olympas was just west of Point Wilson when he waves hit, shortly after the vessel left the marina at 10 a.m.

The waves jostled the boat and passengers but no one was seriously hurt, he reported.
I guess this kind of reporting is to be expected from local news that's not really concerned about the science of freaque waves. It was waves unexpected. No one was able to note and provide any more relevant infos that's all. Oh well!

Vecsey's article included this interesting picture:
I am wondering whether the picture is for real or it was photoshoped. No photographer or photo credit was given.

Vecsey also referenced the article by Charles Q. Choi reporting the research of physicist Peter McClintock of the University of Lancaster in England suggesting that smaller waves can "concentrate together to become abnormally large waves" and "that emerge surprisingly quickly" that led McClintock to conclude: "I'm pretty sure this is how rogue waves come about."

The basis of the research is this:
To investigate these waves, the researchers experimented with liquid helium in a cavity just an inch wide, whose fluid properties they could readily tinker with, far more so than attempting to do the same at sea.
Somehow I have difficulty sharing McClintock's optimism on solving the freaque waves formation problem. Can we representing the vast ocean surface in a one inch wide liquid helium??? But his news is starting to making rounds: e.g. here and here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

In memory of a 20th century hero

One of my 20th century heroes, Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918 - 2008), passed away yesterday. He is not a scientist. He did not have anything to do with freaque waves, but as a distant admirer of this giant thinker, I would particularly like to remember his words about the pursuit of truth that seems especially applicable to science:
. . . truth eludes us if we do not concentrate with total attention on its pursuit. And even while it eludes us, the illusion still lingers of knowing it and leads to many misunderstandings.
His commencement speech given to Harvard graduates on June 8, 1978, A World split Apart, seems to be more refreshing to read today than ever before as:

As humanism in its development became more and more materialistic, it made itself increasingly accessible to speculation and manipulation at first by socialism and then by communism. So that Karl Marx was able to say in 1844 that "communism is naturalized humanism."

This statement turned out not to be entirely senseless. One does see the same stones in the foundations of a despiritualized humanism and of any type of socialism: endless materialism; freedom from religion and religious responsibility, which under communist regimes reach the stage of anti-religious dictatorship; concentration on social structures with a seemingly scientific approach. (This is typical of the Enlightenment in the Eighteenth Century and of Marxism). Not by coincidence all of communism's meaningless pledges and oaths are about Man, with a capital M, and his earthly happiness. At first glance it seems an ugly parallel: common traits in the thinking and way of life of today's West and today's East? But such is the logic of materialistic development.

The interrelationship is such, too, that the current of materialism which is most to the left always ends up by being stronger, more attractive and victorious, because it is more consistent. Humanism without its Christian heritage cannot resist such competition. We watch this process in the past centuries and especially in the past decades, on a world scale as the situation becomes increasingly dramatic. Liberalism was inevitably displaced by radicalism, radicalism had to surrender to socialism and socialism could never resist communism. The communist regime in the East could stand and grow due to the enthusiastic support from an enormous number of Western intellectuals who felt a kinship and refused to see communism's crimes. When they no longer could do so, they tried to justify them. In our Eastern countries, communism has suffered a complete ideological defeat; it is zero and less than zero. But Western intellectuals still look at it with interest and with empathy, . . .
What a profound diagnose: "Liberalism was inevitably displaced by radicalism, radicalism had to surrender to socialism and socialism could never resist communism." Solzhenitsyn did not foresee the fall of communism in Russia and Eastern Europe at the time. But nearly two decades since the fall, our society are somehow rampaged by liberalism, radicalism, socialism and all that under the pretense of anti-war and saving the planet. Our struggle has been harsh and ruthless, may be we can take comfort from his final words 30 years ago:

If the world has not come to its end, it has approached a major turn in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It will exact from us a spiritual upsurge, we shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life where our physical nature will not be cursed as in the Middle Ages, but, even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon as in the Modern era.

This ascension will be similar to climbing onto the next anthropologic stage. No one on earth has any other way left but -- upward.

We are not there yet, but we will be soon!


Sunday, August 03, 2008

An encounter of Pacific Sun

There has not been much worldwide news about cruise ship encounter large waves since Norwegian Down survived an early morning rogue wave attack off the coast of George in western Atlantic in April, 2005. On July 31st last week, the news about Australian P & O Cruise ships' Pacific Sun encountered bad weather and large waves had caused passenger injuries and led to worldwide publicity.

(from Wikipedia)

Some headlines:

Passengers hurt as storm rocks New Zealand cruise ship. (U.K. Telegraph)
Storm-tossed cruise was 'like a disaster movie'. (USA Today)
Cruise passengers hurt in rough sea. (News.com.au)
Terrified cruisers back on dry land. (N.Z. Herald)
42 injured after cruise liner hit by storm in New Zealand. (Xinhua.)

Reading them are just about telling the whole story. Probably the most relevant details of what happened is the one reported by Paul Chapman of U.K. Telegraph:

Some passengers told how they were flung across the ship, along with crockery and "anything not nailed down", when the ship tried to turn to face its bow into the storm.

They said huge waves caught it side-on as it maneuvered, causing the ship to pitch violently.

One passenger said the water lashed as high as the fifth deck.

Many of the worst injuries were caused when gambling machines crashed over on top of people.

The ship, with 1732 passengers and 671 crew, was returning to Auckland from the islands of Vanuatu at the end of an eight-night cruise. The incident occurred just after dark, as many of the passengers were sitting down to dinner.

I guess that's not something to be expected when we go on cruising. The modern cruise ships' highly stabilized design certainly provides ground for us to expect smooth sailing all the way. However, storm waves or freaque waves when there is no storm can always upset the best of expectations. May be that's why cruise ship owners and cruise ship builders generally don't like to talk or even think about freaque waves. Oh well, the case of Pacific Sun does remind us the undesirable things are unfortunately unavoidable -- just not as bad as the kind the Hollywood dimwitted filmmakers trying to terrify you about.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Total solar eclipse of 2008

I watched the total solar eclipse of 2008 live this morning at the NASA Exploratorium site as they are out there in the Gobi desert and I managed to capture the following sequence: