“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."

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Aurora Borealis

One of the fortunes of my life was a tour of duty at an air force station on a mountain in Northern Labrador. It was a year without phones or television. It was a communications site, remote and without daily or instantaneous personal communications to the rest of the world. Access to the frozen site was by helicopter, weather permitting. It was peace and silence. On winter nights  I could walk away from the site and slowly the sounds would  diminish to nothing more than the dry squeak of boots on scrunchy frozen snow. If I stopped, nothing. Nothing but the occasional deep and muffled sound of shifting pack ice.  At one turn down the road, the lights from the radomes disappeared. Man-made  light vanished. Black skies, white stars and blue ice made it possible to read your watch and seemed to bend gravity giving one the feeling that you would fall into the sky. Then the northern lights. It made you want to run and tell someone to look. It was impossible to grasp and comprehend the visual tsunami of light moving at impossible speeds across the sky. No cloud was as ever as high or as fast. The northern lights on a remote winter sky are events that cannot be adequately described , painted or photographed.

This brilliant time-lapsed video is as close as you will get without being there, but it is not even as close as a photo of a beautiful woman is to having her.

This is something I must do again:

JOIN an escorted tour of Iceland and Norway to witness nature's most spectacular light show.
Toursgallery has produced a small group 21 day Aurora Borealis Tour commencing on 21 February.
The first half of this journey takes guests from Kirkenes, far north of the Arctic Circle in Norway, then cruises into the fjords on the way south to Bergen and Oslo.
In Iceland the second part of this tour is in a convoy of three super Jeeps.
Local off road expert drivers will take guests to locations in Iceland rarely seen by foreign visitors, but considered to be the best locations for viewing the Aurora Borealis.
At the end of February night time presents roughly eight hours of solid darkness for witnessing this massive curtain of green, white and red light moving across the sky.
Toursgallery director, Ken Osetroff said daylight hours also offer excellent photo opportunities.
"Clear blue sky, sunshine and snow covered mountains are quite normal."
Accommodation, all transportation, all breakfasts and most dinners are included.
Toursgallery's Aurora Borealis Tour is priced at $12,480 and includes flights from Oslo to Kirkenes and from Oslo to Reykjavik.
For details phone 1 300 307 317 or send an email to


  1. Back in the early 50's, one year, we would sit on the front porch of our farm house, and watch the "Northern Lights." In SE Missouri. Incredible.

  2. A wind farm in a rural areas eliminates another rural area.

  3. Will Fusion Save Us ?

    There is a fascinating drama taking place over in Bologna, Italy involving an engineer by the name of Andrea Rossi and a physicist, Sergio Focardi, who say they have developed an entirely new source of cheap, clean, energy. This energy is said to be produced by fusing nickel and hydrogen inside a low-cost, table-top-sized reactor. Moreover, the inventors say this device is already in limited commercial production and is being sold to customers with the first delivery being made to an unknown American buyer this week.

    Now, most nuclear physicists believe that fusing nickel and hydrogen is impossible this side of extremely high temperatures, so Rossi's device cannot perform as he claims and some sort of sophisticated fraud is taking place. The claim of unverified cold fusion naturally has become controversial with charges and counter charges being hurled across the Internet. The validity of the claim that an unlimited supply of cheap, clean energy is available now is apparently too much for the mainstream media which has been strangely quiet about the affair.

    The problem with the "scam theory" is that for the last 10 months, the developers have been putting on demonstrations of their device before groups of learned physicists and selected members of the press in an attempt to show that their "energy catalyzer" actually works. When the reactor is heated up, so much energy in the form of steam is emitted that, short of fraud, the only answer seems to be that nuclear fusion is indeed taking place. The amount of heat being reported and apparently verified by outside observers is simply too much for any known chemical reaction.

    Support for the position that this is a fraud comes from the fact that so far only the inventors and their closest associates seem to know what is going on inside the reactor. Visiting physicists can verify that heat is coming out and that there are no obvious signs of something untoward, but this is not the same as having independent laboratories with full access to the technology declaring that it is for real.

    If you are interested in the details of all this, the account in Wikipedia under "Energy Catalyzer" gives a reasonably balanced version of the story thus far. {…}

  4. Following the cold fusion furor of 20 years ago in which the scientific establishment declared that low energy fusion was not believable, scattered pockets of ill-funded scientists continued cold fusion research, while the world of big science continued working on multi-billion dollar fusion projects involving magnetic containment and lasers. From time to time those working on cold fusion reported observing abnormal amounts of heat being emitted when they attempted to fuse nickel with hydrogen, but as nobody could explain what was happening, scant attention was paid to their reports. Focardi was among the scientists performing and reporting on these experiments over the last 20 years.

    Somewhere around 2008 Rossi, who appears to be more of an entrepreneur than a scientist, is said to have come to Focardi with an idea of how the fusion of nickel and hydrogen could be sped up to the point where a commercially viable, energy producing, reactor could be built. Three years later demonstrations of such a device began.

    Last Friday the story got even better when a demonstration of a larger device designed to produce 1 megawatt of power was held. At the end of the day, outside consultants working for an American firm or organization declared that the test was satisfactory and the working prototype was immediately sold to the unidentified American "customer." Skeptics say this "test" proved nothing as the identity of the testers and the customer were unknown and could be part of the scam which they fervently believe is taking place.

    Rossi says more reactors will be delivered shortly. We should not have to wait long find out if indeed a major breakthrough has occurred. Rossi says he will sign research contracts with the universities of Bologna and Uppsala to explore the physics behind production of so much heat.


  5. {…}As anyone who has ever seen the old movies of hydrogen bombs being tested can tell you, gigantic amounts of energy can be obtained from the fusion of atoms. What would be remarkable, if this story pans out, is how energy could come from such a simple device - a container, some powdered nickel, some sort of catalyst (which some believe is electro-magnetic energy), a touch of hydrogen, and a heating element. It should be noted that thus far, nobody has reported any sign of lethal radiation flying out of the reactor or radioactive waste resulting from whatever is taking place inside.

    If this development is for real, and we will not know for a while, parts of our understanding of nuclear physics will have to be rethought for it seems there is much more in nature to learn about. Cheap, pollution-free energy could, in theory, reset the clock on global warming for if these devices spread rapidly, the transition away from carbon-based energy might just happen in time to save the earth. Cheap energy would allow for cheap desalinization of water, cheap transport, cheap food, and a lot of other changes.

    Needless to say, major industries - coal, oil, nuclear, green, etc. - and economic relationships between nations would be upset by a rapid transition away from increasing costly fossil fuels. What happens to oil in all this is hard to say. Complete transition to nuclear fusion would likely take decades to accomplish. High costs for fossil fuels would be a major incentive, but simply re-provisioning 7 or 8 billion people would be a major job. This would suggest that higher oil prices will remain a factor in our lives no matter what happens with other sources of energy.

    By. Tom Whipple

    Source: Post Carbon

  6. Make mine a COOooold Bud Light, if you please. :)

  7. We gots plenty of "rural" areas, Deuce.

  8. Actually, the danged things are quite popular as "tourist attractions."

    Guests at Atlantic City are requesting "rooms with a view -

    of the wind turbines."

  9. Lots and lots of National Heritage, out here in the West, Deuce.

    No need to "save" it, for later.

  10. The New Deal will be building Solar Farms, either next to the Wind Farms, or next to the Transmission Lines.

  11. If you want to be honest about it, most folks get bored looking at trees, and hills, and whatnot. They like seeing big whirlygigs spinning around every now and then.

    If they "really" wanted to commune with nature they would have stuck with teepees, and bows and arrows.

  12. People get a kick out of building Big Buildings, and Big Boats, and Big Tractors, and Big Pyramids, and Big Double-Decker Samwidges, etc.

    We're just like that.

  13. No mercy from you guys. Here I am pining for the Mealey Mountains at night in February, escaping to quiet and solitude and you two fuckers want to give me whoooosh…..whooooosh……whoooosh

  14. Don't Let Your Children Grow Up to be a General:

    US General Peter Fuller fired as Afghan training chief

    A senior US commander has been dismissed after he made disparaging comments about Afghanistan's leaders.

    Maj Gen Peter Fuller, deputy commander of Nato's Afghan training mission, said in an interview with Politico the country's leadership was "isolated from reality".

    It is not clear whether Gen Fuller will be reassigned or will retire.

    The head of US forces in Afghanistan says Gen Fuller's comments do not represent the US-Afghan relationship.

    Gen John Allen described the two countries as "solid", adding: "The Afghan people are an honourable people, and comments such as these will not keep us from accomplishing our most critical and shared mission - bringing about a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan."

    Pentagon spokesman George Little said Defence Secretary Leon Panetta was aware of the remarks but said that Gen Fuller had been speaking for himself and not the Department of Defense.

    Imagine not being able to speak plain truth, having to kiss ass and shut up when facing outright lies, purposeful fantasy, bullshit and scum sucking politicians, all for another star?

  15. Speaking while visiting Washington, Gen Fuller told Politico on Thursday that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was an unimpressive public speaker.

    "When they are going to have a presidential election, you hope they get a guy that's more articulate in public," he said.

    Continue reading the main story

    Start Quote

    You can teach a man how to fish, or you can give them a fish. We're giving them fish while they're learning, and they want more fish!”

    Maj Gen Peter Fuller
    Deputy commander of Nato training mission in Afghanistan
    Gen Fuller also said that he tried to make Afghan generals understand that the US was involved in Afghanistan despite economic uncertainty at home.

    "You think that America has roads paved in gold, everybody lives in Hollywood," he said.

    "They don't understand the sacrifices that America is making to provide for their security."

    Politico have reported that the general appeared to be irritated when referring to a recent comment made by Mr Karzai - that Afghanistan would side with Pakistan if the country ever went to war with the US.

    "Why don't you just poke me in the eye with a needle! You've got to be kidding me. I'm sorry, we just gave you $11.6bn (£7.2bn) and now you're telling me, 'I don't really care?'" Gen Fuller said.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that the Afghan president's statement has been misinterpreted.

    The general also likened the Nato training mission in Afghanistan to teaching a man to fish.

    "You can teach a man how to fish, or you can give them a fish. We're giving them fish while they're learning, and they want more fish!

  16. Praise be to God, what magical beauty! How romantic! Truly a very beautiful time to spend looking at what man has absolutely no control over! Everything in its place and time. There is so much to appreciate on our beautiful planet. You were very fortunate! Too bad you could not share it with a beautiful woman. How old were you? :-)

  17. Nawthun lights? And here I thought Deuce was a Southern boy, where they substitute a bug zapper.

  18. Deuce: At the end of the day, outside consultants working for an American firm or organization declared that the test was satisfactory and the working prototype was immediately sold to the unidentified American "customer."

    Now expect Obama to fast-track a $400 million dollar government loan to that "customer" (with $5 million kicked back to the Obama campaign through bundling as a "cost of doing business") to scale cold fusion up to the point of commercial viability. It's very important that we have a national cold fusion infrastructure in place before the Chinese get the jump on us and there's a cold fusion gap.

  19. Katerina said... Too bad you could not share it with a beautiful woman. How old were you? :-)

    Actually, Kat, the pertinent question is how old are you?


  20. Teresita, I am 48 and I appreciate intelligent and strong men who take care of their body and spirit. I have always preferred older men. My late husband was 12 years my senior. I have always wanted to travel to exotic places, but not alone. Deuce’s story painted a compelling and romantic picture that I enjoyed sharing with him as a reader. I am not hitting on him if that is your implication.

  21. Naw, Kat, nothing bad meant by it, just a joke. You've stumbled into a "bull" shop.

  22. Thanks Teresita, that’s what makes us all so beautifully human, the desire to know everything intellectually and then turn around and write a story about it. I pretty much accept that even though I may know the science behind things, I’m sometimes going to prefer the stories I’ve made up about them. Keeps life interesting. Great to read your point of view!

  23. His piece reminds me that writing doesn’t have to be lengthy and full of metaphor and detail to be meaningful. It is not bad but not great and could use some more work. Combined with the video I give it a “B”.

  24. Blue writes better when he is angry, which seems to be his usual.

  25. Katerina said... Thanks Teresita, that’s what makes us all so beautifully human, the desire to know everything intellectually and then turn around and write a story about it. I pretty much accept that even though I may know the science behind things, I’m sometimes going to prefer the stories I’ve made up about them

    That happens a lot around here. Farmer Bob thinks we get a sneak-preview of the Other Side sometimes. Rufus quotes from his Peak Oil scripture, a single dogma which explains every bad thing that happens in our world. Desert Rat thinks Israel is not our 51st State, so What is "Occupation" thinks he's a Nazi. Allen is the eternal Keeper of the USS Liberty Investigation Score, which is currently 13-0 Quirk our NPR-listening ponytail guy has a large collection of Birkenstocks made with Fair Trade cork soles. Melody is all about the music, and she loves her daughter, who she calls Mini-Me.

    jenny said... Blue writes better when he is angry, which seems to be his usual.

    Sometimes when he runs out of things to say he just posts T&A.

  26. Puerto Rico, Ms T.

    With half the population in a third the space, of Israel, is better qualified to be our 51st state.

    We'd be better served with any of the seven Mexican border states, than with Israel, as our 51st state.

    At least the folks in Puerto Rico and Mexico, they're in the Americas.

    More than can be said for Hawaii.

  27. .

    If you want to be honest about it, most folks get bored looking at trees, and hills, and whatnot.




  28. Which is just one of the reasons, Q, for the Bigfoot sightings.

    Gets awfully lonely, out there.

  29. Be cautiously optomistic about the italian fusion story but the test was apparently successful with the customer purchasing the plant.
    As an FYI, the customer’s employees were running the reactor (not the scientists that created and built it). Continuous output of 470Kw during the test was measured. No radioactive byproducts are produced by the technology (it uses Hydrogen and Nickel changing the NIckel into Copper along with the release of excess energy).

    Rossi may be being deliberately deceptive to protect his invention from being ripped off by the Chines. Who could blame him? If everyone thinks it is a hoax, then there is less competition in the short term. He only needs to prove that it works to his 'customer'.

    Time will be needed to get more clarification on what just went on (can’t help but be skeptical about this) and replication etc., but it appears, possibly, something future changing just happened in Italy.

  30. I suppose I am a libertarian who has little love for the democrats but can barely stomach the republicans. Both parties better return to some sanity. Israel should not be our problem. Solvency is our biggest threat not a new boogieman from the Middle East. I doubt that Israelis want to be our 51st state but they will take all that they can from the US. That is obvious to anyone with an open mind and does not gorge himself on Rush Limbaugh. Our focus must be on the economy. There is a difference between raising taxes to increase spending and raising taxes to decrease spending. What is so hard to understand about that?

  31. Good Morning, Trish. Good to see you.

  32. Once again the failure to report knowledge of sexual predators brings down the ...

    ... "High & Mighty" ...

    HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and another school administrator were charged Saturday with perjury and
    failure to report

    in an investigation into allegations that former football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually abused eight young men, state prosecutors said.

    Read more:

    Failure to report one's knowledge of sexual predators roaming about in the community, that is a serious matter.

    Prosecutors bringing charges against a Bishop of the Catholic Church and, now, a major figurehead at Penn State.

    "Misprison of Felony"

  33. I really like Newt's ideas on coupling unemployment benefits with "training" programs.

    It was Newt Gingrich that forced Bill Clinton to transition Welfare into "Workfare."

  34. Newt's always been a bevy of ideas.

  35. The Presidential Debates

    Barack vs Newt

    Ideological Grudge Match!

    History vs Law!

    Professor Throw-down!

  36. A few weeks ago, some here guffawed when I said Newt would begin to look more and more "attractive."

  37. Mr Cain should be running into a buzz saw, tonight.

    If he does not ...

    ... well then, Newt will never become the flavor of the month.

    The time is ripe ...
    the iron is hot ...
    and the hammer is in his hand.

  38. A few weeks ago, some here guffawed when I said that Newt would begin to look more and more "attractive."

  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

  40. A few weeks ago, some here guffawed when I said that Newt would begin to look more and more "attractive."

  41. Geez Louise, all I wanted to do was look up at the sky.

  42. Some here would "guffaw" if you stated that the sky seemed to have an, overall, bluish tint to it, and that the grass appears almost green in nature. :)

  43. I believe tha Newt has a chance but he has to talk over the media unless he is foxy enough to bait them to go over the top so badly that he discredits them.

  44. And, a beautiful sky it was, Deuce. Good job. :)

  45. I don't know if he can make it or not, but his timing is good (by luck, or otherwise.)

    After that picture of him, and Nancy Pelosi sitting on the couch pushing "Global Warming," his only chance was to hang in until everyone else self-destructed.

    Other than Mitt, of course. He committed the absolutely, unpardonable sin of being born a Mormon. That, and the fact that he seems to be completely unable to resist saying whatever in the world his interviewer/audience at the time wants to hear.

  46. Does Obama have the Cajones to Just Say NO, NO, NO?

    Iran has warned the US not to set the two countries on a collision course over Tehran's nuclear enrichment programme, as diplomatic tensions reflected growing concern that the Middle East might be on the verge of new conflict.

    The Iranian foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, spoke amid reports that the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has been trying to rally support within his country for an attack.

    The Guardian revealed that the UK was advancing contingency plans for joining American forces in a possible air and sea campaign against military bases in Iran.

    The revelations led to Nato insisting on Thursday that it would play no part in any military action, and provoked the rebuke from Salehi, who insisted that any attack by either Israel or the US would provoke immediate retaliation. He also accused Washington of recklessness.

    "The US has unfortunately lost its wisdom and prudence in dealing with international issues," he told reporters during a visit to Libya. "Of course we are prepared for the worst, but we hope that they think twice before they put themselves on a collision course with Iran.”

  47. Newt is a learned man, expert in many things (and, a good enough salesman that only a true expert will know when he's bluffing about the thngs he's not accomplished in.)

    And, he does have a track record to which he can point. As Speaker of the House, he did accomplish a balanced budget, and "Workfare" was a coup.

    Plus, a lot of his ideas do pass the common sense/feel right test.

  48. AB? Man I knew Aurora, Mrs. Borealis’ third child when she was fourteen. You wouldn’t recognize her today. She has a red flag on each hip, with two signs on her ass. “Wide” on the left cheek and “Load” on the right. Seriously dude, I thought Northern lights was some of that good shit they sold in those "medicinal" shops in California and Colorado. You know the ones, they have the red cross logo..but its green.

  49. Ms T distorts again:

    Desert Rat thinks Israel is not our 51st State, so What is "Occupation" thinks he's a Nazi

    No, I think he is an jew hating, anti-zionist wannabe nazi.

    And I think you are a replacement theology jew hating, israel bashing bitch... (with a strong leaning to wanting to run a death camp for jews)

    Not because I think Israel is America's 51st state WHICH IT I NOT.

    Disliking Israeli policies do not make you an anti semite. Applying ONE standard to israel and no standards to anyone else does.

    Ms T, really why do you constantly lie about what people's positions really are...

    You do this ALL THE time...

    I say nuke the black rock of mecca and you lie and say i advocate genocide.

    You distort statements to fit into your own fiction.

    Nothing changes here...

    Same nonsense, different MONTH.

  50. No radioactive byproducts are produced by the technology (it uses Hydrogen and Nickel changing the NIckel into Copper along with the release of excess energy).

    Subtract the energy required to produce the input hydrogen and the reaction is a net loser. And it's not nuclear, it's all chemical. But nice magic trick for the gullible.

  51. Of course, his idea of a 12.5% Corporate tax, coupled with "no capital gains tax" doesn't pass the common sense test; but you've gotta throw "some" red meat to the base (especially, the "Large Contributor" base) during a nominating process.

  52. The idea of basing your Corporate Tax Rate on that of a small, failed European Country (Ireland) might not be one you want to hammer on too often. :)

  53. That said, a really good argument can be made for dropping the Corporate Tax Rate down to 15%, or even 12.5%, and at the same time bumping the cap gains/dividend rate up to, say, 20%.

  54. The main thing is we have to rework our tax policy so as not to make it imbecilic to bring foreign profits back to the U.S.

  55. Here's a clue:

    Cold fusion experiments which are written up in peer-reviewed journal are legit, but you don't hear about them because no one has successfully demonstrated the transmutation of elements in the sub-600C range of temperatures.

    Cold fusion experiments which are hush-hush to preserve "trade secrets" are exactly that, hush-hush, strictly between the researcher team and the venture capitalists.

    But cold fusion experiments which are in the bright spotlight of publicity, with 90% of the process revealed but including "secret" catalysts are a scam to shake down investors.

    My answer to all these is simple. Let me know when you get your fusion machine's inverter phase-matched to the local utility's line current and you start getting power checks instead of bills. I might buy one.

  56. Cold Fusion is kind of like "Shale Gas" plays. Comes around once every twenty, or twenty-five years.

    Lotta noise, some people lose some money, goes away.

  57. The breath taking kaleidoscope in the sky is probably a once in a life time for most people. My daughter is extremely disappointed that she will probably just miss the aurora australis while she is in New Zealand in Feb.

  58. In my view one and all should browse on this.