The Watering Hole: January 4 – Spirit

A Martian Rover

This is the date in 2004 when Spirit came to Mars for a three month mission.

Spirit was the first rover to land on Mars, but had became stuck in the mud and is currently out of gas but Opportunity still rocks.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.

117 thoughts on “The Watering Hole: January 4 – Spirit

  1. This is a technological marvel, that we can place a WallE on Mars and have it roam about.
    I have it on good authority that the Martians are vastly amused…

  2. Those two rovers were (are) absolutely amazing! It’s incredible that they kept going for so long in such harsh conditions. I still remember how thrilling it was seeing the first pictures, and following them on their explorations. I wish we had more science like that happening today. Sadly, I don’t foresee this country spending money on such things any time soon.

  3. Louisiana Latest Place to Rain Dead Birds

    State biologists are trying to determine what killed an estimated 500 birds that littered a quarter-mile stretch of highway in Pointe Coupee Parish.

    The birds included red-winged blackbirds and starlings.

    The birds were found Monday along Louisiana Highway 1, about 300 miles south of Beebe, Ark., where more than 3,000 blackbirds fell from the sky three days earlier. Authorities say examinations showed those birds suffered internal injuries that formed deadly blood clots.

    Both incidents involved red-wings and starlings. They want to blame the Arkansas deaths on a fireworks display. So how did the Louisiana birds die, 300 miles away?

    • HoR, I watched an interview with a woman from Arkansas yesterday who was surrounded by dropped dead birds who said there were NO fireworks going off in their area. She was afraid it was something in the air that was released and she wouldn’t let her kids go outside. She said the dead birds were everywhere.
      I think it was some kind of secret military exercise testing out some new weapon, toy, or chemical. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least. It wouldn’t be the first time.. I’m sorry, I’m not buying a selective illness that nailed everything within a specific small radius, or fireworks creating shock and sudden heart attacks. Nonsense. Fireworks have gone off everywhere throughout the entire country for years at New Years. Why no dead birds before now? Why did all the birds get nailed (and fish too) just THERE. Sorry, not buying it.

  4. That’s very interesting, House. I had read the AR birds had hemorrhaging but it could not be determined if that was the cause of death or it happened upon impact with the ground.

    This is becoming curiouser and curiouser.

    Was this the same story you had stated was on-line and then taken down yesterday afternoon/evening?

  5. muse, why not other birds? That’s the curious/intriguing thing about this. If something was ‘sent airborne’ then it wouldn’t be that selective of avian life.
    There definitely is something going on, though I agree about that.

  6. It’s the same story, but that was KSLA Shreveport that disappeared the story they had apparently posted yesterday.

    What if these were some of the same birds that were moved from Arkansas to confuse the investigation?

  7. Bird deaths – Sounds like warfarin sodium otherwise called rodent poison. It is sometimes mixed with seeds (like bird seed) as an attractant. Someone could have accidentally filled a feeder with the stuff.

    • I was going to suggest some problem from the chemicals used in the Gulf, but it seems like that would have a wider affect and would not only affect one type of bird.

      I think a more likely answer is some sudden and severe weather effect that has killed flocks of birds.

  8. BofA Settles Mortgage Claims for $3 Billion; Shares Jump

    Bank of America said it agreed to pay Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac $2.8 billion to settle claims that it sold the mortgage finance companies bad home loans.

    Bank of America shares climbed on the news. Investors have been worried that the bank, like other large mortgage lenders, will have to buy back billions of dollars of home loans it sold to investors.

    Mortgage bond investors say the home loans should never have been sold to them in the first place because they did not meet investors’ underwriting requirements.

    Why Bank of America Must be Thrilled to Pay a $3 Billion Penalty

    According to a Washington Post article on the story, it covers a BoA-Countrywide portfolio of about $530 billion held by Fannie and Freddie. That puts the loss rate on these loans that BoA will be responsible for at less than 1%. You don’t need to be a mortgage analyst to know that a 1% loss doesn’t begin to characterize housing’s deterioration.

    Interesting this penalty was agreed to by B of A before the Wikileaks revelations are public.

    Isn’t this basically an admission of fraud? How can Barney Frank be at fault if the mortgage lenders engaged in fraud? There’s no way that $3 billion is an appropriate amount for what the country is going through.

  9. Zooey, I wouldn’t be too quick on discounting the Gulf chemicals part. Redwing Blackbirds do tend to flock and nest in marsh and wetlands. And they are also a bird that spends part of their life in other places as well. If I were with the DNR in those states, I would be checking the wetlands for problems with birds that tend to stay in the wetlands.

    • But if it were chemicals, why wouldn’t the birds be affected over a longer period of time that those chemicals were used, dropping out of the sky sporadically over months, and spread out more? Why all knocked out in one day, and in a confined area, dropping out of the sky all at once? That part makes no sense to me.

  10. “Damn, that troll over on TP has totally freaked out”

    I especially enjoyed watching cheeseflap correct his word usage, and insult his education, in haiku!

  11. Zooey, it’s on the Rep. Kingston Threatens To Repeal Food Safety Law, thread. (realityexposer troll)

    Cheese is rocking and rolling today!

    CheeseFlap Today 09:50 AM in reply to realityexposer
    Exposing yourself
    “Formerly” and “Formally”
    Educate yourself

    • *snort*

      That is fantastic.

      I was just reviewing that thread, and he has gone off the rails — “But it’s true! I really really want it to be true!!! Lalalalalalalalaa!”

  12. I’m not certain what is causing the problems down South. Can’t totally write off influence by the Gulf disaster. In a way I almost hope it is a big part of the cause because if it isn’t the other possibilities get even weirder and scarier.

    • Absolutely not, I’m not writing off the possible influence of chemicals in the Gulf. I’m just wondering about only one type of bird being affected — so far. It’s way too early to throw out any possible cause.

  13. Raven could be correct – I do have cousins that hang out in AR during the winter.

    It all is quite odd. There seem to be ‘conflicting’ accounts of fireworks in the area.
    Didn’t realize, until reading this, it happened about midnight. Any respectable Red-Winged Blackbird is in bed and any disturbance of that significance would cause this confusion.

    A few stunned survivors (birds) stumbled around like drunken partiers.
    There was little light across the countryside at the time, save for the glimmer of fireworks and some lightning on the horizon. In the tumult, many birds probably lost their bearings.
    “The blackbirds were flying at rooftop level instead of treetop level” to avoid explosions above, said Karen Rowe, an ornithologist with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “Blackbirds have poor eyesight, and they started colliding with things.”

    For some people, the scene unfolding shortly before midnight evoked images of the apocalypse and cut short New Year’s celebrations. Many families phoned police instead of popping champagne.

  14. There had to have been something that put the birds up to start with. As has been noted, blackbirds roost at night. Fireworks are a likely cause.

  15. I just received an envelope in the mail with the notation:

    “Do not mutilate or tear envelope.” Since I can not open it, I just tossed it. I hope that the recyclers read that notice! 😯

  16. I’m getting sick and tired of TP. I hate their new commenting system. I can’t seem to post any comments from work, where I am forced to use IE. Whenever I post something, it appears for a moment and then disappears as soon as I hit refresh. I can never, therefore, comment on posts put up during the day, and by the time I get home, I’m too tired to do it.

    I may just give up posting comments there altogether. At least until they come up with a new commenting system.

  17. Out at Don Edwards NWF the Starlings and Red-Winged Blackbirds start ‘coming home’ for the night at about 90 minutes before sunset.
    The Gulls – about an hour before sunset: it is a steady stream of ‘cousins’; ‘sisters’; ‘brothers’; “great uncles and aunts”; and “grandparents” – as my niece and nephew opine while watching in awe at the parade i n the sky -} -} -}

  18. Texan declared innocent after 30 years in prison

    …could have cut short his prison stint twice and made parole — if only he would admit he was a sex offender. But Cornelius Dupree Jr. refused to do so, doggedly maintaining his innocence in a 1979 rape and robbery, in the process serving more time for a crime he didn’t commit than any other Texas inmate exonerated by DNA evidence.

  19. I remember when there were a lot of dead sheep in Utah back in the sixties. Hard to figure. Google Dugway, and finally, today, everything clarifies.

    Whenever I see mass and unexplained deaths, my first thought is always — ALWAYS — what I and others refer to as the Black Hole, the dark side of the force, where learning how to selectively mass kill is the mode o’ day.

  20. “Spirit” — German “geist”, Greek “pneuma” … sort of.

    The word poses some interesting translation problems.

    The German “geist” can be rendered as either “spirit” or “mind.”
    The Greek “pneuma” as either “spirit” or “breath.”

    “Pneuma” is different from “daimon” (which can also mean “demi-god” in that a “daimon” is more like a generic spirit, while a “pneuma” is more the spirit of an individual person. It is interesting to me that many oriental philosophies have the same connection between “breath” and “spirit.” Thus Chinese “ch’i” (as in “Tai Ch’i”) and Japanese “ki” (as in “Aikido”) have the same dual translation. “Aikido” can thus be rendered as either the “high spirit way” or “the art of breathing well.” The former only seems to be more in line with the general philosophy of aikido, since the whole process of being properly centered/grounded is essentially built around how one breathes.

    German “geist”, on the other hand, is the root for the English “ghost.” Then again, the German word for the study we call the “humanities” is “geisteswissenschaften” — the “spiritual sciences.” These include not only the obvious ones — language, literature, and philosophy — but history, sociology, and psychology as well.

    There is no point to the above; just me musing about a word that always causes me to muse.

  21. Glenn Beck is all gloom and doom. The country is going to cease to exist. So he says we should remember the Alamo. Although, I don’t believe he realizes that while we may have won the war, we actually lost the battle at the Alamo.

    We must take a page from our own history at the Alamo and ‘draw a line in the sand.’ We must decide who we are, what we are capable of and look to the heavens to chart our course…I will not accept that America’s best days are behind Her, that there is no such thing as American exceptionalism.

    HT: Huffington Post

  22. Have I ever ‘voiced’ how much the zoo adds to life? I’m a word geek so that interests me to no end.
    Zooey, nice area and to think that a program our President enacted (the stimulus package) helps the environment you live in. All those trees are going to enhance the visual as well as the air! Way to go Idaho – and President Obama.
    Articles that interest others seem to interest most thus adding to our knowledge!
    humor, much needed is plentiful here at the Zoo!

    [hmmm, my mind is not clean today – ‘stimulus package’. Doesn’t it have to be stimulated in order to … oh, never mind]

  23. “Eudaimonia” — generally (and abominably) translated as “happiness,” it would be better translated as “human flourishing,” and might be literally rendered as something like “well-” or “healthy-spiritedness”, where the sense of “spirit” is that of the general or iconic “spirit” of the type. (In this specific case, the human type.)

    Eudaimonia is the center piece of Aristotle’s ethical theories. Nobel Laureate economists such as Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz are expicitly Aristotelian, while Paul Krugman (also NL) and Dean Baker are rather more implicitly so. I mention this because any economist whose work even implicitly focuses on eudaimonia rather than the utilitarian “$ = Happiness” formula, is worthy of close attention.

    • That’s the word, Gary! See? I learned something in my philosophy classes. 🙂

      Yes, there is a vast difference between “happiness” and “flourishing,” and money doesn’t usually get you anywhere near either of them.

  24. Is there any where that I can chip in to a fund for a musket and a one-way ticket to San Antonio for Bleck? I would love to participate in any action that had him wiped out in a hopeless last stand.

  25. Aren’t the haters emboldened by the mid-term and now feeling invincible, able to spout whatever … just like at the Alamo:

    All but two of the Texian defenders were killed. Santa Anna’s perceived cruelty during the battle inspired many Texians—both Texas settlers and adventurers from the United States—to join the Texian Army. Buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texians defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, ending the revolution.

  26. I just had a moderately lengthy response obliterated because WordPress decided to log me out rather than post my comment. I mention this only because the alternative of pounding my computer into talcum powder with a ball-pean hammer while screaming in rage is probably a less than optimal choice.

  27. Ugh, I hate it when that happens Gary. For my longer posts (or those with a bunch of HTML), I will often compose them in something outside (Notepad, Word, etc) and paste it in when I’m done.

  28. I am not convinced that the “outrage” over the Alamo played much part in the defeat of Santa Ana. The fact that the fortress forced him to delay his march North, bring his entire force online for the one assault that actually meant anything, and thus consumed a very substantial part of his fragile supply train, is likely more important.

    If Bleck thinks the fact of his getting bayonetted in the lower abdomen to spare him the indignity of shitting himself to death from dysentery will be inspirational to the movement — there is a pun in there, I suspect, if you reread the preceding — conservatives, then I am at least prepared to entertain the fantasy of making a movie about it.

    Particularly since the complete failure of analogy means that we get rid of Bleck at no cost to ourselves.

    Damnit, but there I am being one of those bad liberals …

  29. Gary, I’m with you. I don’t see any point to Beck’s pointing the Alamo as some sort of historical example of what he and the Baggers should do next. Although, it does just occur to me. A typical Beck listener isn’t going to know who won the battle any more than Beck does.

  30. Zooey: “Yes, there is a vast difference between “happiness” and “flourishing,” and money doesn’t usually get you anywhere near either of them.”

    (Recreating and rewriting my earlier failed comment:)

    Still, a minimal amount of money is necessary for the possibility of flourishing. Folks in Darfur are rather less likely to achieve eudaimonia than even people in Flint, MI.

    Bitter as I am — and I am bitter — over my failed career and general lack of even the abstract possibility of a full-time job in any capacity, I am still likelier closer to eudaimonia for having taken the risk of getting a Ph.D. in philosophy than I could ever have been had I stayed in the computer industry.

    One of the reasons why I am so in love with my Kindle is that it eliminates the sheer bulk of the wood-pulp in my life. Come this late Spring, early Summer, I will be eliminating at least THIRTY-FIVE BOXES of books from my storage. Homeless tinkers can’t be wagging around that volume of gratuitous cargo. And yet, penurious as I am, I have friends who so value my existence and my contribution(s) to their existences that they gift me with a brand new Kindle DX (that’s the REALLY expensive one, if you’re not sure.) I know that I will always have a roof for myself and my cats. I hate leaning on other people to such an exorbitant degree, but cannot pretend (for any lengthy period of time) that what I endure diminishes my capacity to live as a human being in any meaningful degree. But that all still depends on a minimal amount of money to ensure the possibility of eudaimonia AS a possibility.

    • But that all still depends on a minimal amount of money to ensure the possibility of eudaimonia AS a possibility.

      Yes, I should have said mass quantities of money are not going to get you there. 🙂

      Unloading 35 boxes of heavy books will be so liberating!

  31. How many people even know what the name Alamo means?
    There are a lot Alamos here in the Southwest.
    I know one in particular that would make Beck poop his jammies.

  32. “Can you imagine if Beck and Boehner ever got together? The non-stop tears… oh the humanity of it all.”

    Imagine a bucket of Vicks combined with some kind of “instant tan” cream …

  33. A colleague of mine from SIU — Tom Alexander, brilliant philosopher, unbelievably dry, low-key sense of humor, once had a recent hire from China (no less) half-convinced that while Carbondale as a town sucked, they did have such progressive advantages as Starbucks Coffee delivered (for a fee) to a tap in your house — recently noted how many times people miss hear the fact that he is from NEW Mexico to mean he is not native born to the US. (“You speak excelllent English, though I can still detect an accent … ” etc.)

    It can sometimes be hard to tell when he is bullshitting (see above), but I’m about 70% convinced that story is true. So yeah, the Alamo? Wow, I had no idea that car-rental companies played such an important role in defending us from the French …

  34. Since y’all brought up Beck:

    Glenn Beck Dropped By NY Station For Poor Ratings

    Glenn Beck may be one of the hottest talk show hosts in the country, but he apparently left New York’s WOR cold. WOR (710 AM), one of the city’s two biggest talk radio stations, said this morning it is dropping Beck’s syndicated show as of Jan. 17 and replacing him with a familiar New York name: Mike Gallagher. “The reason is ratings,” said WOR program director Scott Lakefield. “Somewhat to our surprise, the show wasn’t getting what we wanted.”

    This was on Ed Schultz near the end of his show.

    we could all be driving Peugeots…

    Why are you tormenting me? 😀

  35. I often ponder how things would be today if the French had kicked the British out of North America. I think native Americans would still have a vibrant culture, there would still be bison roaming about, and I probably wouldn’t be here.
    But then, it’s not just about me…

  36. We’d all live in tiny little hamlets scattered through the wilderness, make buffalo cheese and blackberry wine and drive funny little cars down very narrow roads.

  37. Catholicism would be the major religion, the civil war would have been over with heugenots in the South, and we’d still be bragging about how we don’t suffer under the yolk of English Socialized medicine …

  38. Hey, you guys are speaking Frenchie./s
    That’s un- American – and will certainly be outlawed as soon as tomorrow (112th convenes).

  39. Wonder who is ‘babysitting’ Boner – to keep him sober.

    Will the media go after him like they did Pelosi? No.
    Will they dig at him for smoking, like they did the President? No.

  40. The fish were all fresh water drum, nobody will eat those and they’re a menace. If somebody could find a way to kill just them they could get rich.

    But I think I saw birds other than the red wing black birds.

  41. I guess the tears are a given. The next question is, “Will he be standing at the Speaker’s podium with a gavel in one hand a drink in the other? And will his speech be slurred from too many morning martinis?”

  42. hmm, sorry for the double post – the first didn’t show up until I posted the second…

    damn those hamsters running this machine…

    • Sorry, that was me, ebb. I was trying to send a comment of mine to the trash, but I hit yours instead. 😐

      I’m working with tech support, so you may see some weird comments appearing and disappearing.

  43. “I think that Gary was on the verge of doing a screen shot a tad back.”

    Only when I’m perusing internet porn, which I don’t normally mention here.

    (Now, sit back and watch the gears turn … )

  44. Maybe these have been posted here before – but it still amazes me what was considered ok in those days.

    Would the NRA, today, approve of such an ad?

    Beer for baby, via Mum.

  45. “Gary, are you taking on any willing students to show them ‘how it’s done’?”

    2ebb, I just call it “the gift that keeps on giving.”

    (And as friends of mine have been known to observe, the first liar doesn’t stand a chance … )

  46. Gary, you make me laugh – thanks! There are times it’s truly needed.
    Laughing is how I get through quite a few days. Can’t take things too seriously.

  47. 2ebb, there is always one of those — and many other things of potential interest — close at hand!

    “a couple of fingers of Jack in the formula”

    It only takes a dash.

    Depends how you weaned ’em, Z!

  48. Sacrosanct – one does not fool with text from Twain! How dare, really how dare they think the author would approve. It changes the tenor/demeanor of the entire book.

    As Prof. Harris-Perry noted it takes away the challenge for students to ask ‘Why would Huck say such a word”? Thus diminishing the impact of what Twain was saying about the setting of the time.

  49. Now they can just do it ‘legally’.

    Wasn’t it Bush who went for the warrant-less wiretapping? That opened this whole mess. Giving the judiciary the o.k.

    In today’s world we can not expect any privacy.
    The spy satellites that litter space – almost innumerable. Have a bead on every movement made by anyone they want to ‘watch’.

    Under the guise of ‘assisting in an emergency’ there’s GPS/locators/trackers in cell phones and in cars.

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