Friday, July 6, 2012
The Opportunity rover, still working hard on Mars, took 817 photos between December 2011 and May 2012 (the latest Martian winter). These were stitched together to form a panorama that stretches nearly 360°, showing incredible detail around the site where Opportunity spent the winter. Awesome! Be sure to click to see it full size (original image here).
|The Greeley Panorama...|
Peggy Noonan's lead this week:
There's something Haley Barbour reminded me of called the Gate Rule. The former Mississippi governor said it's the first thing you should think of when you think about immigration. People are either lined up at the gate trying to get out of a country, or lined up trying to get in.It's a rather upbeat and hopeful piece – read the whole thing...
It says something about the health of a nation when they're lined up to get in, as they are, still, with America. It says, of course, that compared with a lot of the rest of the world, America's economy isn't in such bad shape. But it says more than that. People don't want to come to a place when they know they'll be treated badly. They don't want to call your home their home unless they know you'll make room for them in more than economic ways.
|The “Big Bay Boom”...|
The backstory to this has a slight personal connection. It turns out that the firm responsible for both the equipment and the operation of the fireworks show was Garden State Fireworks, of Millington, New Jersey. I hail from the state of New Jersey, growing up on what was once a farm east of Trenton, but which now is the parking lot for a Walmart store. I left (or fled) New Jersey in 1971, and after discovering that nearly everywhere in the world outside New Jersey was a better place to live, I never returned. My wife and I settled in the mountains of San Diego County, California, where we've lived for almost 15 years. Poking fun at my “homeland” of New Jersey has been a sort of hobby of mine for a long, long time. This incident makes it almost too easy: the New Jersey firm wins the contract for the San Diego fireworks display, then screws it up in a spectacular and very public way – and because they won all the key aspects of the contract, there is utterly nobody else to blame. Ah, yes...New Jersey has covered itself in glory this time :-)
|The “baobab” tree of Africa...|
Its bark is fire resistant. Its fruit is edible. It scoffs at the driest droughts. It shrugs, and another decade has passed. It is the baobab, one of the longest-living, strangest looking trees in the world. Several species exist in the genus Adansonia, mostly in the semi-deserts of Africa and southern Asia. They can grow to be nearly 100 feet tall—but it’s the baobab’s bulk and stature that is so astonishing; many have trunks 30 feet in diameter. The Sunland Baobab of South Africa is far bigger still and is reportedly more than 6,000 years old. Its trunk, like those of many old baobabs, is hollow and—as a tourist attraction—even features a small bar inside. Baobab trees are leafless for much of the year and look rather like an oak that has been uprooted and replanted upside down. Numerous legends attempt to explain the bizarre and awesome appearance of the baobab, but if you visit the great Sunland Baobab, just let your jaw drop—and go inside for a drink.I was disappointed to see that the author left out the koa tree of Hawai'i, one of my personal favorites. The koas at altitudes of roughly 8,000 feet and up on Mauna Kea (the middle volcano on the Big Island) are amongst the most beautiful trees I have ever seen. But despite this omission, it's an interesting collection...the tallest, strongest, and most iconic trees in the world.