Earth Observatory — recent images

Some of my favorite recent images from NASA’s Earth Observatory Image of the Day:


Swirling sea ice near Baffin Island (credit: NASA/Terra/MODIS)


Apollo 11 landing site (credit: NASA/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter). Images of other Apollo landing sites are at NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter site. The orbiter isn’t in its final orbit, and future images will have better resolution.


Apollo 11 launch pad (credit: NASA/Earth Observing-1 satellite)


Mount Tambora, Indonesia — Site of the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history, 1815, which led to the 1816 “Year without a summer.” (Credit: International Space Station/Expedition 20 crew)

Grace and Peace

GM bailout money used to send jobs overseas

The Stillwater Complex in south-central Montana is the only significant US source of platinum and palladium, which are used in automobile catalytic converters. The newly restructured General Motors, with the US government as a primary shareholder, has decided to cancel its platinum-group metals contract with Stillwater Mining Company, opting for cheaper ores from Russia and South Africa.

The mine employs 1300 workers, and is partially owned by Norilsk Nickel of Russia.

The Billings Gazette has had a number of articles on this:

GM rejects senators over Stillwater

GM gets OK to terminate its deal with Stillwater

More atheist quotes on Dawkins and the new atheists

Perhaps Richard Dawkins and the “new atheists” are to atheism as young-Earth creationists are to Christianity. Some atheists find the new atheists to be rather embarrassing.

Here are some quotes from a Marxist—and from what I can tell, atheist—literary critic by the name of Terry Eagleton:

“Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.”

“He seems to imagine God, if not exactly with a white beard, then at least as some kind of chap.”

“We have it from the mouth of Mr Public Science himself that aside from a few local, temporary hiccups like ecological disasters, famine, ethnic wars and nuclear wastelands, History is perpetually on the up.”

“Dawkins and Hitchens are equally theologically illiterate in their view of religion as a failed attempt to explain the world.”

The quotes are from an article in New Humanist: The Magazine for Free Thinkers. My take on someone who calls them self a “free thinker” is that they are in an intellectual ghetto without knowing it. They have ideas that they cannot entertain in their worldview; they have walls constructed around themselves that they cannot even see.

As a theist, it is easy to pick on the “new atheists” with their shallow reasoning, just as Dawkins picks on easy targets. But it is also necessary, as it is the new atheists who write the best-sellers.

HT: Cranach

I’ve quoted from Eagleton before: The new atheists: “primitive opposition to faith and reason”

Grace and Peace, and keep on believing

Hail storm

Sorry I don’t have pictures, but we just had the strongest hailstorm I’ve ever seen. We had enough one-inch hail in a short amount of time to make the ground almost completely white, with some accumulations being several inches deep. I didn’t even know there was a thunderstorm, and all of the sudden it sounded like a freight train outside. Fortunately, that sound was hail instead of a tornado, but Wow! What a sight! We stood on our covered balcony and watched it come down until it stung our feet too much.

Here’s the interactive radar page a few minutes after the storm passed through our area in Lakewood, Colorado.


It was fun to watch, but I’m sure there was damage—broken windows, roof damage, and so on. I hope no one was hurt.

Grace and Peace

P.S. There were still some piles of hail around 24 hours later, despite a high temperature in the upper 70s F (about 25 C). An auto dealer about a mile from our home has a big “Hail Sale” sign up.

Apollo 11 — 40 years later

Neil Armstrong descending the ladder for the first "small step" on the moon. Credit: NASA

I was eight years old when Apollo 11 went to the moon, and was glued to the television every step along the way (with the reporting of Walter Cronkite). I watched the first step on the moon on our black and white television. When there was a break, I ran over to a friend’s house—one who had a color television—only to discover that the pictures were still black and white.

Thankfully, the astronauts had color cameras with them, and were able to bring home better shots:

Buzz Aldrin on the moon. Credit: NASA
Buzz Aldrin on the moon. Credit: NASA

Grace and Peace

Ten places to take your kids — Yahoo’s list and mine

From Yahoo Travel: 10 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up

Here they are:

  1. The Brooklyn Bridge
  2. The Pacific Coast Highway
  3. Niagara Falls
  4. New Orleans
  5. Devil’s Tower
  6. Mount Rushmore & The Crazy Horse Memorial
  7. Dinosaur Valley (Glen Rose, Texas)
  8. Gettysburg National Park
  9. National Air and Space Museum
  10. The Grand Canyon

My kids have been to Niagara Falls, Devil’s Tower (which is our camping disaster family memory), and Mount Rushmore. I’ve been to the Pacific Coast Highway (my childhood  memories include car sickness), New Orleans (a rather adult-oriented city in my mind; why is it on the kids’ list?), and the National Air and Space Museum.

One doesn’t have to Texas to see great dinosaur footprints. We live just a couple miles from Dinosaur Ridge, which is west of Denver.

My thumbs up to taking the kids to Niagara Falls, Devil’s Tower, Mount Rushmore, the National Air and Space Museum, and the Grand Canyon (I’ve never been there).

For what its worth, here is my list of ten great places I’ve taken my kids to, in no particular order:

  1. Yellowstone National Park — How in the world did this not make the Yahoo list?
  2. The Eiffel Tower, Paris — I’m sure it beats the Brooklyn Bridge hands down.
  3. Bucharest, Romania — Doesn’t make most people’s list of top spots, but my children have tons of wonderful memories of spending over five years of their childhoods in Romania.
  4. Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Utah — A wonderful family vacation.
  5. Mountain biking near Red Lodge, Montana, and Reutte, Austria — I wish I could do this with the family a whole lot more often.
  6. Great nature museums — The Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
  7. Great art museums — The Louvre and Musee d’Orsay in Paris, the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, and the St. Louis Art Museum.
  8. St. Louis, Missouri — Free zoo, free art museum, Missouri Botanical Gardens, St. Louis Cardinals baseball games.
  9. Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming — The most amazing and scenic highway in America.
  10. Whitewater rafting, Arkansas River, Colorado — I did this with two of my kids this summer, plus rappelling.

Places we haven’t been that I’d like to take my kids to:

  1. The Grand Canyon — my dream trip.
  2. Glacier National Park, Montana — I’ve been there, but the kids haven’t.
  3. Ekalaka and Miles City, Montana — I had to go there as a kid, why shouldn’t they? And the museum in Ekalaka has a two-headed calf!

Grace and Peace

P.S. The entire family says, “No, not Miles City and Ekalaka!”