Saturday, January 16, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
In addition to having one of the driest years on record, Flagstaff and northern Arizona set some other records in 2009.
-- Flagstaff had the longest growing season on record, due to a span of 153 consecutive days between April 30 and Oct. 1 when it didn't freeze. Typically, the last freeze hits Flagstaff on June 10, and the first freeze of fall is Sept. 21, according to National Weather Service records.
-- Flagstaff had the second-driest monsoon season on record; Bellemont had the driest; Page had the sixth-driest.
-- In 14 of 17 communities, from Ganado and Tuba City to Flagstaff and Williams, average highs and lows for the entire year ranged from a fraction of a degree to 3 degrees warmer than normal, according to data by the Weather Service. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon was neutral -- neither hotter nor colder than average.
-- Flagstaff's hottest temperature for the year was 93 degrees on July 17; its coldest was 6 degrees below zero on Dec. 25.
ON THE WEB www.wrh.noaa.gov/fgz
In brief, it was really dry. Despite last month's blizzard. Unless we have a really wet spring, the summer wildfire season is going to be very scary. So the forecast for snow most of next week is actually a good thing, even if I'm personally sick of winter.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Ayayay. It's just awful. It's going to be tens of thousands of casualties.
Here is a list of organizations on the ground that will be needing help if you're so inclined:• The Red Cross: You can give $10 to the Red Cross’s International Response Fund by texting HAITI to 90999. 100 percent of your donation benefits the Red Cross, and you can print a receipt through mGive, a foundation that helps non-profits take advantage of mobile technology.• UNICEF, the United Nations Fund focusing on children, has worked on the ground in Haiti since 1949, so has the expertise to make a difference. You can donate here.• Doctors Without Borders is also present in-country. One senior staff member reports, “The situation is chaotic. I visited five medical centers, including a major hospital, and most of them were not functioning.” Donate to support public health efforts here.• MADRE, the international women’s rights NGO, partners with the Zanmi Lasante Clinic on the ground in Haiti. “The most urgent needs right now are bandages, broad-spectrum antibiotics and other medical supplies, as well as water tablets to prevent cholera outbreaks,” MADRE reports. Donate here.• Action Against Hunger has had a team in Haiti since 1985, and is ready to fly planeloads of emergency supplies from Paris to Port-au-Prince. Food is one necessity, but so is sanitation; in some Haitian towns, 70 percent of homes do not have plumbing. Donate here.• Mercy Corps has a history of deploying aid to regions affected by catastrophic earthquakes, such as Peru in 2007, China and Pakistan in 2008, and Indonesia last year. They are deploying a team to Haiti, and you can support their efforts here.• Partners in Health is the NGO founded in Haiti in 1987 by Dr. Paul Farmer, the celebrated physician and anthropologist who focuses on international social justice. The group’s emergency response focuses on delivering medical supplies and staff. Louise Ivers, PIH’s clinical director in the country, sent the message, “Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS.” Donate here.To follow the story, the best online source for me remains Mark Leon Goldberg at UN Dispatch.
Monday, January 11, 2010
My city, in what I presume to be unintended humor, placed this sign on the sidewalk approaching the railroad crossing nearby. As I walked by a few evenings ago, a group of what I presume to be local college students were...um...engaging in an obvious response, and taking pictures. I didn't have my camera with me at the time, but I'm willing to bet that the results have already been posted somewhere on the intertubes. And I will also bet there will be more.
I love my city!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Last week, NORAD twice scrambled fighter jets in response to unruly passengers. Now, I understand that everybody is being hyper-vigilant in the wake of the "undie bomber", but I fail to see how F-15's or F-16's are an effective way to deal with the problem. The fighter escorts can force a commercial aircraft to the ground based only on the implicit threat of shooting it down. Which doesn't strike me as much of a deterrent to a terrorist. "Don't blow up the plane, or we'll blow up the plane" has a bit of a logical flaw as a tactic against terrorism. Maybe I'm missing something, but blowing something up to prevent it from being blown up, while a common military approach, seems counterproductive.
And I don't quite understand how this helps control "unruly" passengers. Saying "quit being an asshole, or we'll blow you (and everyone around you) to smithereens", while emotionally satisfying, seems to be a bit of overkill. Sure, we've all had the urge to blow up an obnoxious drunk (OK, at least I have; you may be more tolerant), but no sane person would actually do it, especially when it means killing a couple hundred other people along with the jerk.
So the scrambled fighters are a purely symbolic gesture, allowing the TSA to say "see, we are doing something." It's just that the "something" won't make anybody any safer.
Or am I missing something?