“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hubble, Mankind's seeing eye and witness.

It is hard to exaggerate the scientific, cultural and historic significance of the Hubble Space Telescope. It is one of the finest human achievements of all time. It is nothing less than children of the Universe being able to see the world from which they came, the Universe itself verifying it is there. In a time where events are measured in nanoseconds, Hubble assures us the expanding Universe has another thirty billion years to go.

The staff of life, water and carbon, have been detected on planets as far away as the imagination of the men that invented, launched and support Hubble. The exotics of "dark energy", exploding stars, super novas and the collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 are daily fare served up by the Hubble.

Hubble defines cool and vision, in every sense of the word, yet it is threatened by lesser men blinded by information and data.

On Saturday, The Advanced Camera for Surveys, or ACS, an instrument installed by space shuttle astronauts in 2002, failed. The ACS had greatly expanded the telescope's visual reach into the universe and has taken the sharpest pictures of the birth of galaxies. The birth of these galaxies is measured in billions of years in the past.

The ACS's power supply failed, shutting the instrument off. At the same time, the observatory entered a protective mode, automatically turning off the other instruments, too. NASA engineers turned Hubble on Sunday, but the space agency says two of the three functions of the ACS instrument may never be restored. As a result, it has lost its unique ability to take extremely deep views of the universe to detect the most distant and oldest objects. It can no longer help us understand who we are and what we are part of, nor can it peer into the inner reaches of other galaxies, neighboring stars, planets or planets being formed.

Space shuttle astronauts are scheduled to upgrade Hubble for the fifth and last time around May or June of next year. They will install other new instruments and renew its batteries and the gyroscopes that stabilize it in orbit. The mission is expected to extend Hubble's life. We should expect and demand no less.


  1. Thanks Bob. i wish more people appreciated the achievement and understood the signifcance and magnificance of the project.

  2. i have an idea to teach you. one moment.

  3. Ok, go to my link. that is a picture of what you have to type when you want to do a link. here is how.
    When you have a page you wish to link to , you copy the URL address at the top of the page, and paste that between the " ", which in my example is:
    the between the > <
    you type in your subject which in my example is BC

    that should do it. You must type it exactly and keep the picture of the link where you can find it.
    good luck

  4. that is between " " (the parenthesis)

  5. it is a little confusing till you get the hang of it. Both allen and I took about a month and wore everyone out learning how to do it. we were a real source of mirth for a few weeks.

  6. bob, i hope you get it. i need some rack time. gnite.

  7. Deuce, was that a dig at my convoluted syntax last night?

  8. sorry fellow, it was all directed at the one most deserving- Rufus.

  9. Business will keep me occupied and out of the blog-loop for several days. Have fun and I'll be back later.

  10. Ah, okay. I been worrying about overuse of multiple nested clauses when trying to describe something complex.

    KISS is always good advice.

    Speaking of wierd and complex shiite going on in South Iraq, the big fight today in Najaf is just completely FUBAR (Guardian version). A previously unheard of wacked out shiite/sunni messianic sect in battalion strength? Complete with heavy weapons? How the f*** did that spend two years growing in Iraq? Not good.

  11. That was my feeling as well. it was such a collossal error forcing a democratic veil over Iraq without ever establishing security.

    It sends a shiver through me thinking about the leadership we suffer under.

  12. Yeah, duece, nothin' much sunny about that.

    A Bn of the Enemy arm and train, unseen inside the fog of War in Iraq. Proving conclusivly that if aQ wanted to form and train a group, in Iraq, dedicated to attacking the US Homeland, they could. Under the radar, just like this entire Bn.

    Proving the idiocy of the claim we are in Iraq to keep them from attacking US at Home. Showing, again, that the War in Iraq is about Iraq. We are attacked, in Iraq, because we are in Iraq. Those in Iraq wishing to attack US in theHomeland, could, regardless of US being in Iraq. We have little control of the ground, there.

    The unknown exisistence of that Enemy proves that the US has terrible Intel, in Iraq.

  13. Even Marine General Zilmer verifies that the US cannot stop aQ from training and operating in even Ramadi, Iraq. This with 140,000 US troops in country.

    Remember, though, we can always get those Insurgents, later. Oh so said a Mraine Captain three months or so ago.

    "The enemy still has the ability to move around (Ramadi) and he will go where we are not and we understand that," Zilmer explained.

    Which proves, again, Mr Bush's claim that the War in Iraq is on the course to "Slow Failure"

  14. Here's a pointless what-if, but ...

    Anyone else think aQ could maybe train a company or so in the US, something like the Jamaat ul-Fuqra in Virginia?

    If the infrastructure is place (as it may well be looking at j-u-f), figure an imported Iraq experienced training/leadership cadre of a dozen and 3 months is plenty for quick-and-dirty crash training of local ragheads.

    Its not outside the sort of bounds of what the Branch Davidians got away with for a longish time back in Waco.

  15. Iran says it intends to provide military training to Iraq,increase commerce, open a bank in Baghdad, help rebuild Iraq's infrastructure and be helpful in other ways. That is the price of trying to be in control, not being in control and pretending it is an Iraqi show. The Iranians claim to be filling a vaccum. One clearly exists.

    President Bush has said the Iranians are acting against American interests in Iraq. In fact the Iranians are helping undercut the American appetite for more Middle East adventure. Bush is responding that he has not had enough. Congress is within a few votes of being able to force the President to stop. The American military is prepared to take action against Iran, but will Congress let him and will there be support for such action?

    Any action would be limited to an air assault, the practical affect would be no more effective than it was in Iraq.

    The Iranians just proved that battalion size assaults can pop up in Iraq. They may be ready to escalate violence in Iraq.

    Not good.

  16. Easily, pk, easily.

    Across the US heartland there are rural and suburban properties where such training could take place, clandestinly.
    Hugh swaths of US public lands could and have been used for paramilitary training.

    Over at the "Gates of Vienna" the Baron and Lady Di blogged of their drive by of just such a Mohammedan installation in rural VA, a year or more ago.

    FOX News recently aired an hour on Hezzbellah cells and their criminal activity in the US Homeland. These activities generating millions of USD that have been funneled to support HB operations in Lebanon.

    Could HB cells that have not yet been exposed militarize their criminal activities?
    I would almost guarentee it, well above the 1% possibility required to implement the Cheney Standard for preemptive action.

  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  19. The General was not misquoted, wu.

    The Generals said a whole series of things in his briefing. You choose those segments to your liking, claiming ther rest to be false. Get a grip, boy.

    General Zilmer confirms that we can go where ever we want in Iraq, but that where the US is not, we have no control.

    The idea that 4,000 extra Marines, for 6 to 8 months will make a long term difference in a "Long War" they are kidding themselves.

    Your point #1, that we are in Iraq to change it's cultural bias is not a Goal that has been confirmed in US Law. If that is Mr Bush's next Goal Post he has 21 months to accomplish it.
    The next Administration will not keep on, keepin' on. The GOP will be out of power, on an ebb tide.

  20. The arguments about not being able to prevent terrorist base camps in Iraq are totally false.

    Argument #1 is that because Iraq allegedly can't prevent those base camps now, that proves it never could and so we should pull out. The way things are today does not prove anything about the way they will be tomorrow. In fact, the general specifically said that by adding more Marines and spending more time, we could wipe out Al Qaeda.

    Someone could have made the same argument in world war II. Hitler is occupying most of Europe, so there is no reason to fight him. It doesn't even make sense. The reason we would stay in Iraq is to change things, so arguing they are bad now is meaningless.

    Argument #2 is the classic logical fallacy of saying that if we can't prevent any training, then it is worthless to try to stop the terrorists from totally taking over the country. In other words, if the enemy will still do 1% of the training in spite of our efforts, then we should give up and let them own the country, doing 100% of the training they want.

    This doesn't make sense. By the same argument it would mean that our war in Afghanistan was useless. There was no reason to knock out bin Laden and the Al Qaeda government, because there are still a few Al Qaeda left in the South.

    Iraq is now becoming the same as Afghanistan. A direct threat to the United States by Al Qaeda. A clear and present danger. Why did we fight in Afghanistan if we are willing to let bin Laden take over Sunnistan in Iraq?

  21. Wu makes two good points. My argument is based on the idea that we are involved in supporting, with our military, a government that the Iraqis chose. If the Iraqis are welcoming Iranian support and that is their right and at the same time the US is operating under ROE that have an Iraqi veto, we have a problem since we claim the Iranians are deeply involved in support of the insurgency. That is nuts.

  22. > Your point #1, that we are in Iraq to change it's cultural bias

    I didn't say anything like that. Al Qaeda camps directed by foreigners from outside Iraq are not Iraq's cultural bias.

    It is Iraqis that are fighting those camps, the sheiks and new police officers. We are training them to do it, and it is working.

  23. William Lind has posted his latest commentary on the surge, not at all optimistic. Makes as much sense as anyone else.

    I would suggest that 400 000 extra marines for 18 months wouldn't change that much either. By virtue of democracy Iraq would still be a tinpot shi'ite despotism playing footsie with Iran. And by virtue of the same, and the oil of course, the Sunni money would prop up another insurgency about 1/2 hour after the uber-surge began withdrawing.

  24. Then, wu, if aQ is such a threat, what of their men in the Sudan?
    In Yemen, Eygpt, Algeria, Syria, Gaza, Germany, England, France, Jordan, Moracco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia?

    Why is the US Army not there, in those locales, as well, chasing aQ operatives.
    There have not been more than 3,000 to 5,000 Mohammedan foreign fighters in Iraq, at any one time. The Enemy admitting to 4,000 KIA in three years of combat.

    Same type of battle casualty rates US combat units recieved in the Pacific during WWII, and at Khe Sanh and Hue City in the Nam.

    Six months or so ago, the CIA selfcongratulated itself for killing 5,000 enemy.

    Now if we recall the Administration says over 50,000 went through tje Camps in Afghanistan, prior to '02.
    Since then an untold number have continued to be trained in Warizistan, Sudan, Yemen.
    Algerians have cycled through OJT in Iraq and then moved on to Europe, creating criminal Mohammedan cells there.
    Just as the HB model in the US has shown to be effective.

    A secondary thought on aQ in Iraq

    3,000 aQ nonIraqi aQ cannon fodder tie down 160,000 US troops, costing US $600 Million USD in direct expeditures and deferred expense to US war making capacity?

    No wonder Mr Bush says we're on a course of "Slow Failure" in the "Long War"

  25. Slight error
    $600 Billion USD not million

    a m here a b there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.

    Now when the Dems move to "Pay as you go" and then put the War "on budget", that should lead to some type of political confrontation with Mr Bush. Come the fall of 07.

  26. You are a lying sack of shit, wu

    You claimed General Zilmer misquoted and that our role in Iraq was to change their culture.

    You are called on it
    then delete the statement
    Wu Wei said...
    This post has been removed by the author.

    Tue Jan 30, 10:27:42 AM EST
    Wu Wei said...
    This post has been removed by the author.

    Tue Jan 30, 10:29:10 AM EST

    And then deny you made it.

    Weak boy, very weak.

  27. Our country needs to have a public discussion about Iran and the Shiites. Is al-Sadr a global terrorist who will attack the US mainland? Will the other Shiite militias attack us?

    We know what al Qaeda is. Everyone saw 9/11, and their organization has no purpose other than terror.

    But the Shiites are not al Qaeda.

  28. Woah Wu, whats with the weaselly deletions? Most un-gentlemanly.

  29. I revised my posting before I read anyone else's replies, in order to be more polite. I stand by what I said.

  30. Ya'll see what Chavez is up to now? Not good.

  31. To add to bobalharb's Astronomy Picture of the Day, I give you something equally awesome, but in the other direction of measurement by many orders of magnitude:

    Actually, it looks like the site hasnt been updated in a long while. Here is a textual listing of its contents

    For instance, here is a vacuum tube made from carbon nano tubes

  32. ppab, that vacuum tube is awesome.

  33. ppab,

    I worked on klystrons (the original Eimacs) and magnetrons for both broadband and radar aps. and have often wondered how they handle the circuitry heat issues with modern solid state components. Very impressive.

  34. wu, stands in the loo
    neck deep in his shit.

    Editing after the fact it flows from his mouth and his finger tips.

  35. For anyone interested this is a klystron mounted with three cavities which are the metal boxes along the axis of the tube.

  36. What does it do, I was thinking, so off to wiki which says:

    Multicavity klystron
    In the multicavity klystron, multiple toroidal cavities surround a cylindrical acceleration tube.

    To achieve high efficiency the electron would have to be modulated by a saw-tooth signal, so that very small bunches enter the second cavity when the voltage peaks. The saw-tooth is synthesized by a fourier series. The harmonics needed for this series are usually generated from the beam itself, but wider bandwidth, efficiency and stability may be achieved by generating them before the klystron.

    Tuning a klystron
    Some klystrons have cavities that are tunable. Tuning a klyston is delicate business that if not done properly can cause damage to equipment (klystrons can cost as much as a house or a luxury car) or even injury to the technician. By adjusting the graduated knobs found on the body of the klystron, metal grids inside the klyston cavities change the resonant frequency that the cavities resonates at delivering peak transmitter power output (TPO) for the desired frequency. The technician is careful not to exceed the limits of the graduations, because the grid can fall off the corkscrew which the grid rides on, inside the cavity. This permanently damages the klystron and may even result in a wave of improperly reflected power back into upstream equipment, causing further damage.

    Manufacturers generally send a card calibrated unique to that klystron's performance characteristics, that lists the graduations that are to be set, for any given frequency. No two klystrons are alike (even when comparing like part/model number klystrons) so that every card is specific to the individual unit. Klystrons have serial numbers on each of them that distinguishes them uniquely, and for which manufacturers may (hopefully) have the performance characteristics in a database. If not, loss of the calibration card may be an insoluble problem, making the klystron unusable or perform marginally un-tuned.

    After which I still wonder,
    What does it do?

  37. One of the practical military applications of a klystron in wide band communications:

    the army needed a little help here and received some fraternal assistance

  38. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


    Most wide band communications were conducted over line-of-site hops of up to thirty miles, tower-to -tower microwave. Wide band meant handling multiple channels. No satellites.

    The problem for the army was that the towers were vulnerable to attack and the constant interruption of the signal by heat inversions and torrential rains. Tropospheric scatter wide band communications bounced the communications signal off the troposhere and could go as far as 600 miles. The sites could be better protected well off the battlefield.

    A tropo shot is taking the same equipment that would be used for tv broadcasting and tilting it skyward and broadcasting a multiplex of voice and data, mostly encrypted tty.

    The klystron tube allows the high frequency radio wave to be modulated with the voice and data.

  40. I always read over my posts and correct them. Anyone can scan the threads and see this for themselves, the times I have done this in the past. I have even commented on it, saying that I made changes.

    I reposted the same thing at 10:40:54 with a few words changed.

    I never said that our role in Iraq is to change their culture.

    The posting of 09:47:49 AM claims that General Zilmer and President Bush both said things which they didn't say. In fact both said the opposite.

    > "Marine General Zilmer verifies that the US cannot stop aQ from training and operating in even Ramadi, Iraq"

    The General never said that we cannot stop. Whether or not we have stopped them now, that doesn't mean we never could. In fact as I pointed out, the General specifically said that we could stop the enemy, with reinforcements and more time.

    > Which proves, again, Mr Bush's claim that the War in Iraq is on the course to "Slow Failure"

    President Bush said he thinks we will win with our current, new strategy in Iraq. What he said was that staying on the old strategy, the one we aren't using any more, would be "slow failure".

  41. Now wu, you continue to be a lying sack of shit.

    This is the post in question you deleated when called upon

    Wu Wei said...
    This post has been removed by the author.

    Tue Jan 30, 10:29:10 AM EST

    You were challenged at 10:39 and then lied in response, for what you said at 10;29.
    10:40 is pure spin and disinformation.

    You are lower then whale turds.
    You have no honor and cannot even back your bullshit, with plausable deniability.

    Weak boy, real weak.

  42. turd boy, so far the only real change has been the rhetoric.

    The Course has not changed

  43. > What REALLY happened in Najaf?

    Yes, even in the MSM the variation of stories is amazing. One Iraqi source says that the "real" leader of the cult is still alive.

    Another says Al Qaeda is responsible:

    The role of Al Qaeda is unclear, because the group has typically allied itself with extremist Sunni militants, regarding Shia Muslims as apostates and heretics. The deputy governor of Najaf, Abdel Hussein Attan, said the militia "appears to be a Shia group but its deep-rooted conviction is different".

    "I have come to the total conviction from what I have seen with my own eyes on the ground that Al Qaeda is behind this group," he said. "Based on the confessions of interrogated militants and other information, this well-structured group intended to attack Shia clerics and take control of Najaf and its holy sites."

    But even in the US media, the political "spin" is amazing.

    The liberal MSNBC: "Unexpected Iraq bloodbath raises concerns"

    Liberal New York Times: "Missteps by Iraqi Forces in Battle Raise Questions"

    Neutral Fox Next: "Battle Leaves 200 Members of Apocalyptic Sect Dead in Iraq "

  44. Iranians Want Revenge?

    Some Iraqis speculate that the IRGC has already started a campaign of revenge with the killing of five American soldiers in Karbala on Jan. 20, nine days after the arrest of the IRGC members in Erbil. As the logic of the rumor goes, five American soldiers were killed for five Iranians taken; Karbala was an IRGC message to release its colleagues — or else.

  45. Hubble, trish, Edwin Hubble.
    Not L Ron Hubbard

  46. Knowing details of what happened in Najaf might help answer the big question "Does the Sunni Insurgency want peace?" That's the unknown that will decide this war, IMO.

    If the so-called mainstream Sunni Insurgency is trying to kill Ayatollah Sistani, then there will be civil war.

    The sheiks turning against Al Qaeda in Anbar is the most hopeful thing in a long time.

  47. We will know that the Course has changed when 21,000 civilian Federals are dispatched to Iraq.

    Many of the civilian billets are still unfilled, inn Iraq.

    Until then, as long as the US depends upon it's military to implement Iraq Policy, with Iraqi borders, the Course is the same.
    Rhetoric is all that's changed.

    Meanwhile loo tell us of that ime article. The money line of the story:
    "... Aside from arming the opposition, the IRGC is capable of doing serious damage to our logistics lines. I called up an American contractor in Baghdad who runs convoys from Kuwait every day and asked him just how much damage."Let me put it this way,"he said."In Basra today the currency is the Iranian toman, not the Iraqi dinar." He said his convoys now are forced to pay a 40% surcharge to Shi'a militias and Iraqi police in the south, many of whom are affiliated with IRGC. ..."

    The US pays contractors, which then subsidize the IRGC operations in Iraq.
    No change of course, there.
    Just more of the same.

    Will Iranian Banks opening in Iraq & aid to the Iraqi Government by the Iranians change the US course in Iraq?
    How about Iranians training the Iraqi Army?

    Of course those are just the actions of a neighbor, trying to help. Almost like we asked the Iranians for, to help stabilize Iraq.
    Be careful what you ask for, unintenteded consequences and all.

  48. "...."Let me put it this way,"he said."In Basra today the currency is the Iranian toman, not the Iraqi dinar." ..."

  49. And Pizza Patron takes pesos.

    Eroding national sovereignty is not hard to see, where the Bush Administration kolds sway, if one takes the time and looks.

  50. Those Iraqi, they need all the International help they can get.

    We've been asking for outside help, for years. Seems some what sad that of all the Nation States in the world, with all the wealth of Europe, the Iranians, who are said to be going broke, are the ones that stepped up with funds and technical assistance.

  51. The Iraqi certainly need more airport capacity. I wonder, did the airport in Baghdad ever open to civilian traffic?

  52. That Iranian airport, just more good news from Iraq, that goes unreported in the MSM, trish.

    If only all the real help the Iranians are providing the Iraqi was made public ...

    Friends of our friends.

  53. Cannot buy a ticket to Baghdad, Iraq on expedia or hot wire.

    Maybe priceline, but ...

  54. All that Iranian help in Iraq, now that is a change of course.

    Pretty funny, too.
    Like that river in Eygpt.

  55. One wonders, what US banks are opening offices in Iraq?
    Wal-Mart is expanding into banking, in Mexico.
    Perhaps the US can subsidize Wal-Mart banking, in Iraq.

    CitiCorp, Chase, when are their branches opening in Basra and Baghdad?

    That would be a true change of course, for US.

  56. DR, you are on a roll baby, keep on truckin....

  57. loo asks questions about and also speaks of Anbar, often touting the 3,000 policemen recruited.

    He forgets that General Zilmer says that 3,500 police slots are empty and the most of the slots in the Army, designated in the US scheme of things for Sunni soldiers, remain unfilled.

    The cultural divide of Anbar, the 300,000 folks of the Six Enemy Tribes of Anbar have been at odds with the 700,000 or so people of the other Tribes of Anbar for hundreds of years. They are all Sunni Arabs.

    Now you'd think that in a region of Iraq, with over 40% unemployment, that those 3,500 empty Police slots would fill, if the Sheiks were seriously with US.

    General Zilmer answered your question, loo. No, they are not on the Iraqi Government or the US's side.

  58. This Admiral Fallon, another CYA expert.

    We erred in assessing the Iraqi, he says. You see it's not the US that has failed, it's the Iraqi.
    CYA above all else.

    We need a real change of course, more troops, of course, but no one knows how many, he says.

    Senator Spector says George Bush is not the "Sole Decider".

    Six months, at most.
    Then Mr Bush will be out of time. He'll need another continuing resolution, doubt if he gets it, the Dems will have moved the War on budget.

    "Pay as you go" will then require tax increases to pay for it.

    The GOP Senators will collapse under the threat of Tax increases to fund the conflict.
    It's written on the wall.

  59. Accounting gimmicks coming back to bite George on the ass.

  60. Negroponte would lead the department's Iraq policy if confirmed, as expected. He said Syria is letting 40 to 75 foreign fighters cross its border into Iraq each month and repeated the charge that Iran is providing lethal help to insurgents fighting U.S. forces in Iraq.

    Iran and Syria are not helping promote stability and peace in Iraq and understand what the United States and other nation expect of them.

    "I would never want to say never with respect to initiating a high-level dialogue with either of these two countries, but that's the position, as I understand it, at this time," Negroponte said.

    Warning Against War with Iran

  61. 40 to 75, that's it?

    For that we need 150,000 US troops.

    If Iran is not helpful, in Iraq, you'd think the Iraqi would know. Better than Mr Negroponte could possiblly know. As we ll know, the Iraqi have the lead and the language skills.

  62. The Iraqis can't get any outside help because the Sunni Insurgency kills any outsider who sets foot in Iraq. The UN, US government, and US companies have already poured billions into Iraq.

    It's time to stop blaming the US for Iraq. The blame for this goes 100% to the Sunni Insurgency.

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