Relatively Speaking

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F r a n k l y  L a m a r ,  W e  D o  G i v e  a  D a m n
Kate Woods – Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large

October 12, 2015

Let me clarify – the guys who interpret those lights on the Apollo mission photos as UFO craft are not tin foil hatters.

Screen shot 2015-10-10 at 10.17.24 PM

Hats off to Rep. Lamar Smith.

Screen shot 2015-10-10 at 10.16.35 PMYet there are and we do have a true Tin Foil Hatter of the Week.  In fact, this one entity could well be the Tin Foil Hatter of the entire year.  It’s none other than…Ta Da!  The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, headed by that champion of The Flat Earth Society and Mercenary-in-Chief ,Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas).  [Applause! … Kazoo band playing X-Files theme!]  (See “Gone with the Windbags”)

And hats all around for every Republican sitting on that NASA-obliterating, climate-change denying committee.

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House Science, Space and Technology Committee hard at work.

How the Science Committee earned our top honor begins with a story that broke last week in Inside Climate News with details of a new Teabagging Inquisition being set up by the Committee to “torture” a lone but famed climate scientist, Big OJagadish Shukla, for merely suggesting in a private letter to President Obama that Big Oil has lied to the public about global warming.

Jagadish Shukla, Professor of Climate Dynamics speaking at the Building Sustainability and Resiliance Symposium. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University

Jagadish Shukla, Professor of Climate Dynamics speaking at the Building Sustainability and Resiliance Symposium. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University

Shukla, who runs a non-profit research organization called the Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES) located at George Mason University in Virginia, collected 20 signatures by climate scientists from NASA, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Maryland and other highly regarded institutions, and asked the President if energy corporations could be investigated under the RICO Act (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970) for purposefully casting doubt on the scientific evidence for climate change. Federal prosecutors used this act on Big Tobacco execs in the late 1990s.

Shukla’s letter was brought to the Committee’s attention when someone leaked it onto Faceybook, causing an “affronted,” enraged Congressman Smith to announce a House Special Investigative Hearing on…Let’s see here…I know we can get him on something… oh yeah! “Misuse of Federal Funds.”  Shukla received a damning letter from Smith on Oct. 1, telling him to gather all papers and emails, and report to the gulag! er, hearing.  Or else.

Shocked by Smith’s letter, Shukla said that he sent his query to Obama as a private, concerned citizen, and had nothing to do with any leak on Faceybook.  “Any allegations of inappropriate behavior are untrue,” he said.

Congressman Smith is obviously trying to cover his derriere and the pasty bare behinds of his Big contributing Oil buddies, for if there were a true investigation, it would not only uncover the lies pouring out of Big Oil, but also the astronomically huge and oily sums passed between the fossil fuel/fracking profiteers and Smith’s greasy grubbing hands.

Meanwhile, Smith and his committee would do well to pay attention to their own fellow lawmakers, which naturally they do not.  Congressional democrats are now imploring NASA to have their Earth monitoring satellites (the few left that Smith and his GOP colleagues haven’t ripped out of NASA’s budget) keep a wary eye on the poisonous algae blooms that have flourished exponentially in Lake Erie.

Algae blooms in Lake Eerie

Eerily familiar sight – NASA watches toxic algae flourish in Great Lake.

Big Ag pesticides and pollutants are routinely dumped into the waterways of the nation’s heartland, creating toxic algae year-round but which explodes during droughts and the stagnant summer months.  More than a year ago, 400,000 people in Toledo and southeastern Michigan had their drinking water imperiled because of the problem.  Among the senators asking for NASA’s help was (surprise!) a lone Republican, Senator Bob Portman of Ohio (the Ishi of moderate Republicans…).

NASA immediately put the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland on the job, and committed airborne equipment to more intensely monitor lake conditions.

Sorry.  No 24-hour earth monitoring geo-sats available, folks, not even to save our own asses.  Go ask Lamar Smith about it.


September 28, 2015

By Kate Woods, Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large

Even while the Times Square New Years Eve Ball drops toward Earth’s environmental Doomsday, Congressional Republicans aren’t even bothering to double-talk and whitewash their aversion to NASA’s earth monitoring space programs anymore.  They are outright voicing and voting their disdain for the health of our wheezing planet.

True to form, the Republican-heavy House Science, Space and TechnologyScreen shot 2015-09-27 at 3.33.43 PM Committee recently slashed $300 million from NASA’s Earth-science budget consisting mostly of weather and Earth-sensing satellites, in space.  Unfortunately, the GOP-laden committee, which has oversight on the EPA and NASA budgets, among others, is one of the few committees that Congressional peers actually heed.

NASA head administrator Charles Bolden, a former U.S. Marine Corps Major General and astronaut, indicated a controlled disgust in his response to the cuts: “NASA leads the world in the exploration of and study of planets, and none is more important than the one on which we live.”

In a press event this week, committee head Texas Republican Congressman Lamar Smith, aged 67,  gushed lovingly about space exploration.  He wants to be an astronaut!  Isn’t that special?

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Lamar Smith – If you don’t study climate change, it doesn’t exist.

When he was pinned down on his feelings about monitoring Earth’s changing environment, Smith finally blurted, “I don’t want to cut NASA, I don’t want to cut what we do in space, and that’s why I’m resisting the administration’s transferring funds from NASA to climate change! I want to keep NASA, NASA!”

In other words, don’t study it so you can continue to deny it.

It should also be noted that NASA’s written mission statement since the late 1950s includes exploring the environmental systems of our own planet for mankind’s welfare and to better understand our relation to the rest of the Universe.
Earth-science sat

Sadly, any proposal or satellite mission that might galvanize the overwhelming evidence proving the exponentially growing threat of global warming, or “climate change,” is program non grata now.  And whether climate change is caused by humans or is naturally cyclical, or both – it’s immaterial to them.  As far as these conservative, bought-out lawgivers are concerned, climate change doesn’t exist … especially since what they perceive as the  Earth-science Greenland“Muslim President Obama” pushed for Earth-science funding in NASA’s budget.  Whatever President Obama is for, they are against.  If Obama wanted them to not cut off their noses to spite their faces, they would snip their beaks off, pronto.

Not surprisingly,  Smith’s budding 2015-2016 re-election campaign has accrued, so far, $27,900 from a plethora of carbon-belching oil/fracking companies and $5,500 from lobbyists.

O c e a n  V i e w  G u m b o

by Kate Woods – Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large
September 7, 2015

And now from the inspiring to the disquieting.  Last week NASA announced the latest numbers in sea level rise: 3 millimeters a year (or 0.13 inches a year) – but let’s remember, scientists always lowball predictions that involve global warming because they don’t want to get fired or lose their government-sourced funding.  They’ve done it for years and end up saying contrite crap like, “Gee, we underestimated the rate again.  Swim as fast as you can to the crumbling shore!”

That low-ball estimate means seaside residents will witness a three feet inundation of sea rise in … 100 years?  Try more like 30 years.

Jindal, what me worry(meme by Bayou Buzz.comAnd as usual, despite the in-your-face indisputable mathematics, politicians whose hands are freshly greased from the greenhouse gas belching Big Oil/Fracking and Big Coal industries go nut-up when terms like “global warming” are used.  Such is the case of Louisiana Governor and Republican presidential contender Bobby Jindal, when he sent a letter to President Obama earlier in August just before Obama’s visit to New Orleans for the tenth anniversary of the Katrina disaster.  In the letter, Jindal begged Obama to not use the term “climate change” in his public addresses, since that’s just a hoax, y’all know.  “There is a time and a place for politics, but this is not it,” Jindal wrote.

Huh??  Who’s blathering politics?  We’re talking science…. Melting glaciers, a shrinking Greenland, a massive fresh water dump into the seas that eventually could halt the ocean’s weather-policing warm water conveyor belt.  Oh, that’s right.  Science is a hoax too, according to the GOP lawgivers.

Luckily, Obama ignored the “advice,” and gave an impressive speech about the urgent sea level mapneed to address global warming.  NASA, in its report, also mentioned that Louisiana’s “Master Plan” for reinforcing the state levee system, particularly in New Orleans, is woefully inadequate … especially for what’s to come.

To sign a petition to save Louisiana’s landscape and to fight climate change causing sea level to rise, go to:

T H E  U N S C I E N T I F I C  U N – A M E R I C A N

Kate Woods – Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large

August 31, 2015

I was cheered when I opened my Scientific American this month to read an overdue opinion put forth by the mag’s entire editorial board, entitled “Don’t Blind NASA to Earth’s Climate.”  In it, the editors call out Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) for “egging on” his fellow congressional Republicans to cut NASA’s Earth Science budget by $260 million.  Climate change-denying politicians say they want that money to go to the robotic voyage to Europa, Jupiter’s frozen moon.  But NASA only needs $30 million for that mission.

SA graphic by Morgan Schweitzer

Look Anywhere But Earth – Graphic: Morgan Schweitzer, Scientific American.

Cruz – who bears an eerie likeness to Senator Joe McCarthy, the 1950’s witch hunting, career-ruining Communist chaser – claims Earth science is not part of the agency’s “core mission” (wrong) and that the field is not even a “hard science” (nauseatingly wrong).  It’s amazing how these guys are forever pulling crap right out of their….  As for NASA’s sister agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the lawgivers want to kill it outright.  They slashed NOAA’s budget by 5 percent, and rationed out only $8.4 million rather than the $30 million requested to study the catastrophic acidification of the world’s oceans.  They don’t want satellites analyzing the seas because that preposterous planet-killing problem is driven by climate change, which is a hoax, don’t ya know.  In 2012 Congress unceremoniously tried to “move” NOAA’s Earth sensing sats to NASA’s jurisdiction, and make them point the other way…to Jupiter, one supposes.

Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA…my representative, by the way), infuriated by the brainless attitude of his associates, recently dropped his otherwise mild-mannered demeanor and fumed from the floor, “Don’t tell me there isn’t money available….  Are you going to save this planet or put all the money into the moon of Jupiter?”

Ah well, Sam.  Your star-crossed effort was, as always, heroic.

And this comes as no surprise:  Cruz is Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness.  Why do they always give the gavel to a power-grubbing dolt who doesn’t even believe in science?

So the naysaying deniers who are hired to protect the health and welfare of the people they represent will do anything to stifle the truth. Don’t pay attention to that man behind the curtain!  Look at anything but the Earth.

I N  A  G A L A X Y  N O T  S O  F A R  A W A Y  . . .

Kate Woods – Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large

August 24, 2015
I can’t keep this one corked anymore.  Has anyone been following the national carnival called the Republican Presidential primary?  Yes, Donald Trump is driving the clown car.  But the fact is, every voter in the nation loathes our sticky-fingered Congressional lobbyist lovers so much that a barker like Trump is way ahead in the polls.  No surprise, except to his mealy-mouthed competitors. Screen shot 2015-08-23 at 5.21.37 PM They are mystified that their base goes for Trump’s fascism; despite the decades they spent dumbing-down their own supporters.  Surprise!
The Donald’s entire one-trick pony show is based on a xenophobic stand against Mexicans.  And when the charlatan calls for repealing the 14th Amendment (which guarantees people born here are automatically U.S. citizens), saying “they gotta go,” all the GOP candidates trip over their tongues, dog-piling atop one another to ape him.

This all may seem off-topic.  But consider the fact that every single human who has gone into space and looked back upon our fragile Earth is amazed that there are no drawn borderlines between “nations.”  There are no national distinctions, no passports, no “papers please” or barbed wired 15 feet-high walls (except the ancient conceptual art piece known as the Great Wall of China).  From space, everyone on Earth is suddenly and simply a human being.  Every astronaut’s soul returns radically changed in regards to nationalism and the tenuous environment.

What if we launched every Presidential candidate into space for a month?  We can hang barf bags around their necks,and make sure they take notes on what this globe actually is: our only lifeboat, at the moment, no thanks to conservative crackdowns on space budgets and a disdainful dismissal of humankind’s yearning to break out of our crib… at least to Mars … and perhaps someday beyond.
Remember: Vote early and often!

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