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A 6 ton satellite fell on my house and all I got was this lousy t-shirt

As of 9:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 22, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 110 mi by 115 mi (175 km by 185 km). Re-entry is possible sometime during the afternoon or early evening of Sept. 23, Eastern Daylight Time. The satellite will not be passing over North America during that time period. It is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with any more certainty, but predictions will become more refined in the next 24 hours.

Follow the drama at NASA

Have you ever wanted a mid-morning snack and heard the sudden crack of a sonic boom only to look up and see a 6 ton flaming satellite careening towards your house at terminal velocity?

Yeah, me neither.

But it looks like one lucky winner just might experience this later today.

The sky is falling– literally. 

It turns out Ronald Reagan was right all along. We really do need a series of satellites to shoot down threats from space before they do damage to the American people. As it turns out, we didn’t need that to protect against Russian ICBMs. We needed it as protection from our own space junk.

See that crater over there? 

— Yeah.

That was Joe Johnson’s house.

— Really? What happened? All I see is a pond with a chimney sticking out of it. 

Satellite fell on him. 

— Huh.

Question: If a satellite falls on your house do you get to keep it? 

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Mac news item Poll

POLL: Are you willing to pay to read news online?

From subscription to free to subscription and back

Quietly, newspapers are starting to charge online visitors subscription fees for full access to their sites. In just a few days, The New York Times, will noticeably switch from a free system to a 3-tiered pay system.

I believe The New York Times Company, like Rupert Murdoch from News Corp, have been emboldened on this concept by The Wall Street Journal’s alleged success with online subscriptions. News Corps brand new iPad-only newspaper, The Daily, will cost you $39.99 per year. I download the iPad app, and while it is brilliantly beautiful, the reality is that it the actual news is just news I can get on CNN.com or USAToday.com for free.

Also, in a weird twist of fate, the iPad versions are actually more expensive and just as ad filled as the print editions. (I get the print edition of Wired for less than $1 per issue. Why would I pay $3.99 per issue to get it on my iPad?) This messes with people’s internal cost vs. benefit analysis and stops them from buying more than one “curiosity” edition. Conversely, subscription rates are going down and not up for iPad versions.

At the end of the day I don’t think this strategy will last very long. When the payment gateways pop in on folks current sources for news, eyeballs will shift from paid content to free content, and the big news companies will re-evaluate their strategies. (At the same time giving lesser known sources of news incredible new levels of traffic.)

Think about it: When you hit a payment gateway when looking for a news story, what are you going to do? Google it and find a free version of the same story. Duh.

The Tortoise and the Hare

What’s really interesting here is that the big news companies will lose money on a silly, short-sighted strategy. They are going to spend big money building these gateways and even more money trying to market these new ideas. Whereas, the smaller companies who might want to go to a subscription model, but just not have the capital to make it happen, will likely be the big winners.

A better idea

My opinion? Why in the world are these companies asking individuals to pay? Why not force the ISPs to pay, like ESPN did with ESPN3.com? That’s where the money is. Even if cable companies raised rates on their customers to cover these new costs, we wouldn’t whine because we are addicted to high-speed internet.

All of this begs the poll above. Are you willing to start paying for news that you get for free today?

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TSA Resistance

Do you really want to be seen like this?

Sometimes I embarrass my wife. And on our July trip to Haiti I offered her one very embarrassing moment when I refused to go through the new backscatter TSA screening machines while opting for a manual pat down instead.

The TSA made the process of opting-out a hassle. While there were plenty of officers on duty they managed to make me wait for about 10 minutes while they played their keystone cop routine.

Call me a jerk all you want. But I don’t like that the government wants to take pictures of its people naked for the sake of “security.” The media has shown over and over again that all of this extra screening doesn’t stop people from smuggling weapons aboard a plane. It’s really just for passengers to feel safe while traveling and little else.

Back at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. I had completely dug in on my decision.

Kristen quickly went through the line, got her nudey pic taken, put her shoes back on, and glared at me in the way only a wife could.

Finally, an older TSA agent had me go through the metal detector and directed me to the screening area. He explained that he was going to pat me down and that he intended to touch my private parts with the back of his hands.

Obviously, I’m not dangerous and they didn’t find anything.

As the officer took his gloves off he looked in my eyes and asked asked me why I had opted out. My reply, “When it comes to governmental invasions of privacy, I prefer personal over digital.

That moment revealed the heart of the matter. If the TSA agents had to look hundreds of thousands of passengers in the eyes and manually search them– we’d actually be safer.

Dehumanizing the screening procedure is not how you make airline flight safer. Humanizing it is.

I’m not alone in this desire to resist the new scanners

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg shares his desire to resist as well as documents the new procedure to feel up your thigh until they feel “resistance.” (Obviously, women lack resistance.)

“But what about people who hide weapons in their cavities? I asked. I actually said “vagina” again, just to see him blush. “We’re just not going there,” he reiterated.

I asked him if he was looking forward to conducting the full-on pat-downs. “Nobody’s going to do it,” he said, “once they find out that we’re going to do.”

In other words, people, when faced with a choice, will inevitably choose the $%*#-Measuring Device over molestation? “That’s what we’re hoping for. We’re trying to get everyone into the machine.” He called over a colleague. “Tell him what you call the back-scatter,” he said. “The $%*#-Measuring Device,” I said. “That’s the truth,” the other officer responded.

The pat-down at BWI was fairly vigorous, by the usual tame standards of the TSA, but it was nothing like the one I received the next day at T.F. Green in Providence. Apparently, I was the very first passenger to ask to opt-out of back-scatter imaging. Several TSA officers heard me choose the pat-down, and they reacted in a way meant to make the ordinary passenger feel very badly about his decision. One officer said to a colleague who was obviously going to be assigned to me, “Get new gloves, man, you’re going to need them where you’re going.”

Here is another story of a pilot who refused the pat down and was suspended from his job. Ridiculous.

So– it’s come to this. If you want to fly you are left with an awful choice. Do you want someone looking at you naked or someone touching your genitals? We aren’t talking about a doctor here… we’re talking about a TSA agent. A person hired by the Department of Homeland Security for just above minimum wage with no qualifications. Seriously, TSA screeners either have to have a high school diploma or GED or one years experience working security.

Call me crazy. But I think if enough people opt-out we can force the issue and make the government remove these devices.

Call me a conspiracy theorist: But I would like to know how much American Science & Engineering, Inc gave to their members of congress and senators to lobby for selling these machines. (They are $170,000 each!)

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Christian Living news item

Portrait of a Thriving Family

So, to be a cover family of a thriving family, this must be what people are looking for…

  • White
  • Married
  • Kids
  • Middle-class
  • Patriotic

Dear Lord, I hope your portrait of a thriving family is much broader.  Its my prayer that Heaven is full of people who aren’t like me yet thrived in their life with Jesus. Amen.

p.s. In fairness, the rest of the magazine exhibits plenty of diversity of race. Single, no-children, working class, or non-American… not so much.

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Whale Wars

If you are like me and like the show Whale Wars, you’ll find this interesting. More info on the sinking of the Sea Shepherd ship Ady Gil by Japanese whalers.

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haiti news item

Fear Makes You Stupid

Yesterday morning I woke up to the news of a massive earthquake in Chile. The world seemed to hold its breath and wonder how bad the damage would be. “If a 7.0 earthquake killed 200,000+ people and flattened Port-au-Prince, Haiti– what would an earthquake 500 times stronger do?

Those fears and concerns were legitimate.

Fortunately, as news reports flooded in, we later learned that while there is widespread damage and hundreds of thousands displaced– Chile was well prepared for such an emergency. In fact, it appears that Chile may be able to handle the relief efforts largely on their own. The New York Times is reporting, “Although the United States had offered aid, Chile’s government had not yet requested assistance. All international relief groups were on standby, and the International Federation of Red Crosses and Red Crescents said the Chilean Red Cross indicated that it did not need external assistance at this point.

Chile’s disaster was not equal to Haiti’s disaster– and as those fears began to ease and you could see the media looking for a story to scare people.

Later in the morning, the media attention shifted from the earthquake in Chile to a tsunami the earthquake spawned. This is when the full on fear mongering went nuts.

  • Fact: 750,000 people in greater Port-au-Prince are starving and homeless while billions of dollars of aid sits on tarmacs because NGOs and governments are paralyzed.
  • Fact: The president of Haiti has said it will take 1,000 trucks 1,000 days to clear the rubble from Port-au-Prince. The muscle part of recovery hasn’t even begun.
  • Fact: 46 days after the earthquake in Haiti, starvation and disease are happening just 2 hours south of Miami by plane. Thousands of orphans are undocumented and at risk of being trafficked. Widows and elderly have no protection.
  • Fact: 2 million people in Chile were displaced as their homes were destroyed.

And twelve hours after the Chile quake all of the news media’s attention shifted from actual news stories to a potential tsunami in Hawaii.

Fact: Tsunami warnings had gone out for more than 4 hours all over Hawaii. There was no danger to life.

Fact: A potential tsunami is not equal to an actual tsunami. A potential tsunami was used to cover up the real story in Haiti. (The real story is that the church is meeting people’s needs while the NGOs and governments have meetings at the airport.)

Fact: The news was reporting on lines at Costco/Wal*Mart/Safeway, showing live video of a camera pointed at a computer screen of a Ustream.tv feed, and anchors desperately trying to convince experts that although scientific instruments were saying the tsunami was only creating a 2-3 foot wave– the wave must really be 30-50 feet.

Fact: This was worse than Geraldo opening Al Capone’s secret vault.

And yet every news agency was showing live video from all over the state, showing sunshine and waves, interviewing tourists on vacation– all for a natural disaster that had not even happened yet! One reporter asked a tourist, “What is the situation like up at Diamond Head?” The tourist, confused, looked at the reporter and told the truth. “It’s a party up there.They couldn’t go to commercial fast enough.

Something is wrong with us. The fear of a natural disaster outweighs an actual natural disaster? The fear of damaged vacation property outweighs the reality of millions of people’s homes in Chile and Haiti? The fear that a tsunami might hit outweighs the reality that a significant disaster has actually happened.

Fear makes us stupid.

When will we recognize that fear is our god? When will we stop living in fear? When will we be motivated by compassion that overcomes fear?

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Extreme Makeover Needed in Haiti

You know those TV shows that brag about building a house in a week for a family? We need those folks to go do an extreme makeover at the port in Haiti. Listen carefully to the reporters questions… the aid that we can fly in to Haiti is temporary. In order to get large, sustained support to the country we need to help them rebuild their port of entry.

6-12 months to rebuild the docks there?
Any way we can do a temporary one in a month so we can get shipments in while a new, earthquake-proof dock is built?

In other news, I received this update from Tim See.
He was a missionary from our former church in Romeo who grew up in Haiti. He is headed back soon to help in the planning/logistics efforts since he knows the language and culture well.

Surely, there are thousands of stories like this. Forgive me if this feels like a repeat.

The pictures on TV are so familiar to us – the presidential palace – the shacks – the airport – lots of people. Then there it was on ABC – the mission station on the side of a mountain and the seminary building that my Dad had built on the Bolosse campus over 50 years ago. The earthquake had taken out the front porch and you could see all the rubble. This building was much closer to the epicenter than the totally collapsed presidential palace that we have seen on TV.

I spent most of my first 13 years in Haiti, and 3 of those were right there at Bolosse – only 9 miles from the epicenter. Since then, this training center has equipped many hundreds of Pastors to reach out to their own people – and even to other people groups as far away as Africa. The campus normally houses just over 100 people but as of tonight they are hosting over 2000. Almost everyone is sleeping outside. Food is in short supply but water is critical right now. Yet it is not uncommon to hear the people singing praises to God!

Chris and I enjoyed a wonderful honeymoon in Haiti 37 years ago. Then we returned and lived with my older brother Roger and his family (with Crossworld – formerly Unevangelized Fields Mission) for three months. Roger and I designed and built a large school for Haitian children about 50 miles from the epicenter.

Roger spent most of his life in Haiti. I just spoke to him on the phone this evening. He is planning on flying back to Haiti this Tuesday. Roger is fluent in French, and Creole – both of which are spoken in Haiti, and he is an excellent organizer – a skill that is in desperate need in Haiti right now. All commercial passenger flights to Haiti have been cancelled, but Roger is planning on flying into the country in a small mission plane with Missionary Flights International. Roger said that he has his flights paid for already, but he would like to take enough cash with him (in small bills) to help provide critical supplies. Please ask the Lord to provide for that need – and pray for Roger’s safety especially as he crosses the entire city of Port-au-Prince to get to Bolosse.

New Tribes Mission does not work in Haiti, but if you would like to get more information about what is happening to the believers in there, check out www.crossworld.org . They are updating their web site daily with information they are receiving via satellite from the campus where Roger will be working.

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HAITI: Calling Out Jesus’ Name

Wounded people, white with dust, filled the streets. Women clutched their babies, desperate to find help. Others stretched their arms skyward, calling out Jesus’ name. link

Like the rest of the world, today I woke up to the news I feared as I went to bed. The earthquake in Haiti has left the nations capital, according to the First Lady of Haiti, “destroyed.”

In moments like this I feel like there is little I can do. While I would love to hop on a plane and “go help” the truth is I don’t have any skills that are actually useful. (I doubt they need a blogger) I will do the next best thing. I will give what I can and commit to joining the people of Haiti who stretch out their arms and call out Jesus’ name.

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Al Franken on Medical Bankruptcy

Check out this sarcastic line of questions from Senator Al Franken. I love it that he sets her up to look so stupid. At the end of the day the health insurance industry is perfectly fine with the uninsured going bankrupt. Remember, it is not the poor or the rich who are struggling with health care. It is the middle majority. Millions of families like you and me. This rookie senator is fighting for your family.

Senator Franken is refering to the Dartmouth longitudinal study which reveals that 33% of medical procedures performed in the United States are either completely unnecessary or detrimental to the patients health. This includes treating and curing cancers in which the best course of treatment for the patient involves not treating the cancer as it will never harm the patient.

You can download the study right here:
[download id=”5″]

You can learn more about the health care crisis in America and why reform is so necessary that even the hospitals, doctors, drug companies, and health insurance companies agree that reform is needed by listening to episodes 391 & 392 of This American Life.

HT to Cory

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Funny Stuff hmm... thoughts news item

Beat up by my elderly neighbor

This story rocks. It’s living proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Apparently, this 24 year old man thought he could intimidate his elderly neighbor. Instead he got the beating of his life.

05_Flatbed_1 - JUNEGregory McCalium, 24, was left with severe facial wounds after the knife-wielding thug attempted to rob his elderly neighbor in tBotley near Oxford, England, Britain‘s SkyNews reported. The would-be burglar broke into the home of Frank Corti last Aug. 19 – without realizing the 72-year-old was a retired boxer.

A mug shot released by the Thames Valley Police reveals the results after Corti disarmed his attacker, let loose with two punches to the face and restrained McCalium until the police arrived on the scene.

On Tuesday, McCalium was sentenced to a 4 1/2-year sentence for the crime. link

Please tell me this will be made into a movie? Rocky 10?

HT to Boing Boing