Thursday, February 26, 2015

Where Have All The Stars Gone? By Dicky Neely

Graphic from :shielded-lights httpeschooltoday.compollutionlight-pollutionsources-of-light-pollution.html

This is a piece I wrote some years ago. I worked for a small local chain of weeklies and this was published in those. I also posted it on a blog quite a while back. Here it is, and it is still very relevant.

Since the earliest days man has been looking skyward. The sun by day and the moon and stars by night were man’s constant companions, sources of awe and embodiment of the gods.
Early man became very familiar with the night sky and used the celestial panorama to navigate and to mark the seasons.
The constellations and planets were given names from religion and mythology and were powerful factors in everyday life.
As a child I too shared the sense of awe of the heavens and loved to watch the night sky.
I will never forget many summers past when my brother and I spent the night camping out in a cousin’s backyard and we saw the Perseid meteor showers for the first time. What a thrill!
After that event I annoyed my father relentlessly until he provided me with a homemade reflecting telescope. The sight of the craters of the moon and better views of planets changed my outlook forever.
I still have an interest in astronomy but it is nearly impossible to practice it at my home. Why? The stars have nearly all disappeared from the sky and the moon is often faint and out of sight for much of the night.
What happened? Did some disaster occur wiping out much of the universe? The answer is much closer to home.
Light pollution has robbed us of the night sky. The lights from our security lights, our neighbors, our streets, businesses, factories and so on have created a permanent glow that can be seen for miles and virtually blots out the night sky.
 For many years I lived in a modest home a half a block from the Laguna Madre. In the first years I lived there I would sit on my porch and enjoy the night sky, especially on clear winters’ nights.
As time passed new homes, high on stilts, were built till they towered all around me. Each of these very large new homes had numbers of bright night lights. This “progress” took my view of the Laguna by day and of the sky at night. Though I liked my new neighbors and enjoyed their company I still felt my life had been diminished by the loss of these natural connections.
The next place I moved to, and spent many years there, was also right on the Laguna. There was a solar-like night light right outside my bedroom window. I had to cover the window with two thick blankets and it still didn’t stop the flood of light getting in. All around the complex light kept the dark away at night and a short distance from my backdoor was a giant power plant that hummed continuously and lit the sky at night like a small moon. A short distance away homes on Laguna shores and a marina passed the nights under mega candle power light. The effect is not conducive for sleeping.
I talked to a lady on Padre Island and she brought up the subject. “There is so much light on my canal from people’s backyard lights I can’t see the stars anymore.” She said when she was a girl she too loved astronomy and she taught her children the names of the constellations and the stars. She moved to Padre Island many years ago and was thrilled at the many clear nights she enjoyed. But it has changed. “A new home was just built at the corner of the canal and they have super bright lights illuminating the whole area. They have big lights under water along the dock. I don’t like it. It is light pollution.”
People will tell you it is necessary for security. I am not so sure. It seems to me if you keep everything well lit up it would make it easier for thieves to find what they want.
A number of states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico and Texas among them, have lighting laws covering highways and state projects.
Some cities have actually passed laws requiring night lights to be shielded and directed on their  intended objects and not shine up into the sky or into neighbor’s homes. Now that makes sense to me.
Flagstaff Arizona has dimmed its night lights and other cities may soon do so. Hilton Head Island, S.C., Harmony, Fla., and Jackson, Wyo. may soon follow suit as they consider their own “dark sky” ordinances.
Another plus could be gained by dimming the night lights. We could conserve a tremendous amount of energy by cutting back. This could be an important factor as we face higher and higher energy costs.
Maybe we could achieve our desired sense of security without having to blot out the night sky or have our neighbors’ lights shining into our homes.
This would help folks get a better night’s sleep and thus reduce the amount of tension people carry into their days resulting in a happier, more relaxed world.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Kory Watkins, leader of Tarrant County Open Carry, provides clear example of who should not be allowed to own guns

 Kory Watkins led a group of open carry advocates in a demonstration at the state capitol the other day. They were loud, obnoxious and basically stupid. That's allowable.
They crossed the line, however, when they went to the office of state rep. Poncho Nevarez and refused to leave and threatened the representative.
The following is an article from TheTexas Observer by Christopher Hooks.

Kory Watkins article tx observer 2 6 2015
Few people in Texas history have made enemies at the Capitol as quickly and decisively as Kory Watkins, the leader of Open Carry Tarrant County, a group that proved too radical for the main body of open carry demonstrators. Lobbying for the right to carry handguns openly in public and without a license, he’s almost single-handedly turned what should have been a sympathetic Legislature against his core cause, irritating and alienating natural friends and generally making himself a nuisance.
Today, he took a big step toward Travis Bickle territory, warning legislators that their behavior was “punishable by death” and that there’s “going to be trouble” if they don’t cave to his demands.
It’s not the first time he’s crossed the line from nuisance to threat: Open Carry Tarrant County’s shameful behavior in state Rep. Poncho Nevárez’s office freaked out the whole Legislature, and caused the Department of Public Safety to give Nevárez a security detail. Dan Patrick, after inadvertently infuriating the open carry guys, has tried to give them consolation prizes. The Senate would allow guns on college campuses, Patrick emphasized. Maybe licensed open carry had a chance.
But open carry activists like Watkins want unlicensed open carry, in part because quite a few of them have criminal backgrounds and can’t get a concealed handgun license under current law.
This morning, Watkins uploaded a video monologue to his Facebook page. It quickly got taken down, but not before anti-open carry activists took it and uploaded it to YouTube.
“Last week, we got to see the games of the legislators,” Watkins tells the camera. “Looks like we have campus carry, no problem. But open carry? I don’t know about that,” he says, mimicking a legislator.
“We should be demanding that these people give us our rights back. Or else it’s punishable by death.” He challenges his audience of activists not to take the bait: “Are you going to settle for the low-hanging fruit that your masters are putting on the tree for you? Or are you going to go to the top of the tree and grab that fruit at the very top?”
Watkins has had enough. “I’m tired of jacking around. I’m tired of playing politically correct games. I’m tired of saying, ‘Well, this is chess, and we gotta take this slowly.’ No, no, no, no, no. This isn’t a game. This is reality. And these are our rights they’re playing with.”
Then, he goes too far: “I dunno if they forgot what their duty is, but it’s to protect the Constitution. And let me remind you: Going against the Constitution is treason. And treason is punishable by death.”
The men and women of the Legislature would do well to heed his words. “We’re not playing around. I don’t think they wanna mess with us too much longer.” If they did, something new would be coming at them. “They better start giving us our rights, or this peaceful non-cooperation stuff is gonna be, um, gamed up. We’re gonna step it up a notch.”
He’d just about had it. “In Texas we’re tired of jacking around with people in suits who think they can take away freedoms in the name of safety,” Watkins says. “These politicians down there are jacking around with your head.”
In Nevárez’s office, Watkins had stuck his foot in the door, preventing the rep from kicking him fully out of his office. It’s time for more, Watkins says.
“I want to put more than my foot in that door. We should be doing way more than that. We should be demanding that these people give us our rights back. Or else it’s punishable by death. Treason,” Watkins says. “You understand how serious this is, Texas? We need to start sticking more than foots in doors. This is treason against the American people. You don’t sell my rights back to me. Or you’re gonna find trouble.”
With that, he ends the recording.

 Above Watkins. below Matt Drudge. I think Watkins may be "channeling" Drudge with that fedora.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Freshman State Rep. Molly White (R, Belton) Clarifies her position on Muslim visitors to her capitol office

On Thursday the State Capitol in Austin was the scene of heated attacks against Muslims celebrating Texas Muslim Day. Many of their number visited members offices, though most were gone as the lege is in recess at the moment.
A group from Michigan, led by Cathie Weiss, verbally and physically assaulted the demonstrators in an attempt to take over their event.  Weiss and her group seem very much like the Westboro Baptist Church, who spew hate against their perceived enemies.
Molly White, (R) Belton was not in but she posted the following on Facebook.
Today is Texas Muslim Capital day [sic] in Austin. The House is in recess until Monday. Most Members including myself are back in District. I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws. We will see how long they stay in my office.

The following day she said this in an interview with KWTX, (Belton, Tx. TV) on Friday. Jan. 30.)
 “I always treat everybody with respect and listen, but if we have some things that are diabolically (italics mine) different then I need to let them know where I stand and they let me know where they stand.”

Her use of the word ‘diabolically’  was interesting. Surely she must have meant ‘diametrically!’
Likely it was a Freudian slip of the first order!

Groundhog day in D.C.