El Reno, Oklahoma tornado on May 31, 2013 is now widest ever recorded in the U.S. at 2.6 miles (4.2 km) wide, according to the National Weather Service.
And of course back on May 2, 2013 there were several articles about a tornado drought with only 3 tornadoes in the first 7 days of May 2013. Below is just one of them:
Tornado drought: only 3 U.S. tornadoes during May's first week - Dr. Jeff Masters - Wunderground
With just three tornadoes during the period May 1 - 7, 2013 has had the third-fewest U.S. tornadoes during the first week of May since record keeping began in 1950. The only year with fewer tornadoes during the first week of May were 1970 (zero) and 1952 (two.) During the ten year period 2003 - 2012, the U.S. averaged 73 tornadoes during the first week of May, with a high of 239 during May 1 - 7, 2003. The three May 2013 tornadoes have all been week EF-0 twisters, and none have hit the Midwest's tornado alley...
And then two EF5 tornadoes within 11 days! The tornado at El Reno tornado (noted above at EarthSky) that was 2.6 mi wide at it's peak and in excess of 295mph, and the Moore tornado that was 1.3 mi wide and estimated at 210mph.
Bambi Note: And one of the biggest tragedies was the loss of Storm Chasers Tim Samaras, his son Paul and partner Carl Young.
Storm Chasers Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras and Carl Young Killed in Oklahoma Tornadoes - ABC News
Storm chaser and meteorologist Tim Samaras, his storm chaser partner Carl Young, and his son Paul Samaras, were among the 11 people killed in the latest round of tornadoes and severe weather to hit Oklahoma Friday night, according to family members.
Samaras, 55, his son Paul, 24, and Young, 45, were all killed while trying to document and research the storm. Tim Samaras was found inside his car with his seat belt still on. Paul and Young were pulled from a car by a tornado. One of them was found dead a half mile away.
According to Discovery.com's BIO on Tim Samaras:
Chasing was a part of Tim's life for over 25 years. Ten years ago, he developed his own tornado probes to record meteorological data inside of tornadoes. On June 24, 2003, Tim dropped a probe in the path of an F-4 tornado where it measured an astounding 100 millibar pressure drop — a record that still stands today. Tim ran the scientific field program, TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes Experiment, www.twistex.org). Their mission is to help understand why tornadoes form in order to increase warning times in Tornado Alley.
1966 Topeka tornado
On June 8, 1966, Topeka was struck by an F5 rated tornado, according to the Fujita scale. It started on the southwest side of town, moving northeast, passing over a local landmark named Burnett's Mound. According to a local Indian legend, this mound was thought to protect the city from tornadoes if left undisturbed. A few years prior to the tornado strike saw development near the mound including a water tank constructed near the top of the mound against the warnings of local Native Americans.
The tornado went on to rip through the city, hitting the downtown area and Washburn University. Total dollar cost was put at $100 million making it, at the time, one of the most costly tornadoes in American history.
Even to this day, with inflation factored in, the Topeka tornado stands as one of the most costly on record. It also helped bring to prominence future CBS and A&E broadcaster Bill Kurtis, who became well known for his televised admonition to "take cover, for God's sake, take cover" on WIBW-TVduring the tornado. (The city is home of a National Weather Service Forecast Office that serves 23 counties in north-central, northeast, and east-central Kansas).
Topeka recovered from the 1966 tornado and has sustained steady economic growth. Washburn University, which lost several historic buildings from the tornado, received financial support from the community and alumni to rebuild many school facilities. Today, university facilities offer more than one million square feet of modern academic and support space.
Bambi Notes: Another cool thing about Topeka, Kansas is the following news, if you remember about their naming their city Google, Kansas to get Google Fiber first.
On March 1, 2010, Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten issued a proclamation calling for Topeka to be known for the month of March as "Google, Kansas, the capital city offiber optics." The name change came from Ryan Gigous, who wanted to "re-brand" the city with a simple gesture. This was to help "support continuing efforts to bringGoogle's fiber experiment" to Topeka, though it was not a legal name change. Lawyers advised the city council and mayor against an official name change. Google jokingly announced that it would change its name to Topeka to "honor that moving gesture" on April 1, 2010 (April Fools Day) and changed its home page to say Topeka.
In its official blog, Google announced that this change thus affected all of its services as well as its culture, e.g. "Googlers" to "Topekans", "Project Virgil" to "Project Virpeka", and proper usage of "Topeka" as an adjective and not a verb, to avoid the trademark becoming genericized.
And maybe something a little bit less known outside of Topeka...
Bill Kurtis - Television career
On the evening of June 8, 1966, Kurtis left a Bar review class at Washburn to fill in for a friend at WIBW-TV. He would anchor the 6:00 news.
Severe weather was approaching Topeka so Kurtis stayed to update some weather reports. AT 7:00 p.m. while on the air, a tornado was sighted by WIBW cameraman Ed Rutherford southwest of the city.
Within 15 seconds another sighting came in: “it’s wiped out an apartment complex”. At that moment, Kurtis knew his next words would mean life and death. He had to transform a tornado watch into a full scale warning.
He said, “For God’s sake, take cover”.
These words became synonymous with the 1966 Topeka tornado that left 16 dead and injured hundreds more.
Kurtis and the WIBW broadcast team remained on the air for 24 straight hours to cover the initial tornado and its aftermath. Being the only television station in town and one of the few radio stations not damaged by the tornado, WIBW became a communications hub for emergency operations.
The experience changed Kurtis’ career path from law to broadcast news. Within three months, after seeing his work covering the tornado, WBBM-TV in Chicago hired Kurtis and set the stage for a 30 year career with CBS.
1966 in Chicago was the beginning of a tumultuous four years and as a reporter and anchor, Kurtis was in the middle of historic events.
He covered the neighborhood fires that followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and again when Robert Kennedy was shot. The protests against the Vietnam War dominated the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and Kurtis never left the streets.
His law degree came into play when he covered the Chicago Seven Conspiracy trial in 1969 which led to a job with CBS News in Los Angeles as correspondent.
One of his first assignments was covering the Charles Manson murder trial for 10 months. Then followed the murder trials of Angela Davis, Juan Corona and the Pentagon Papers trial of Daniel Ellsberg.
In 1973 Kurtis returned to Chicago to co-anchor with Walter Jacobson at WBBM-TV. In 1978, his investigative Focus unit broke the Agent Orange story-- U.S. veterans who were sprayed by the defoliant in Vietnam.
After a dramatic screening of the documentary in Washington D.C. the Veterans Administration issued guidelines to diagnose and compensate those veterans affected by Agent Orange.
By 2013 the government had recognized more than fifty different diseases connected to Agent Orange exposure. More than 200,000 veterans have been compensated. Kurtis returned to Vietnam in 1980 to cover the Vietnamese side of the story and while there, discovered some 15,000 children left behind when the U.S. pulled out in 1975. These Amer-Asian children had American fathers so they were American citizens.
A story Kurtis wrote for the New York Times Magazine was instrumental in obtaining special status for the children to enter the United States, where they live today.
In 1982, Kurtis joined Diane Sawyer on the CBS Morning News, the network broadcast from New York. He anchored three CBS Reports: The Plane That Fell From The Sky, The Golden Leaf and the Gift of Life.
He returned to WBBM-TV in 1985. In 1986, Kurtis hosted a four part science series on PBS called The Miracle Planet followed in 1987, by a 4-part series on the CIA for PBS.
He formed his own documentary production company —Kurtis Productions— in 1988—the same year he produced, Return to Chernobyl for the PBS series, Nova and became the first American television reporter to enter the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.
It was the beginning of the golden age of cable documentaries. Kurtis narrated nearly 1,000 and Kurtis Productions produced nearly 500 for series like The New Explorers on PBS, Investigative Reports, Cold Case Files for the A & E Television Network, and Investigating History for the History Channel.
He also hosted American Justice produced by Towers Productions. For CNBC, the company has produced nearly 100 episodes of American Greed.
Kurtis has received two Peabody Awards, numerous Emmys, awards from the Overseas Press Club, DuPont and has been inducted into the Illinois and Kansas Halls of Fame. IN 1998, he was awarded the University of Kansas William Allen White citation. He is the narrator of a multimedia book by Joe Garner, We Interrupt This Broadcast, with a foreword by Walter Cronkite and epilogue by Brian Williams. Kurtis has authored three books, On Assignment, 1984, Death Penalty on Trial, 2004 and Prairie Table Cookbook, 2008.
Thanks to Ken in our chat for talking about his home town of Topeka that led to these interesting stories and the anniversary of Topeka's own F5 on this day in 1966.
North Carolina has proven to be the first state that is trying to change Tesla’s current model.
The bill in the North Carolina House of Representatives would make it illegal for manufacturers to sell directly to consumers. Further, it would make it illegal for Tesla to even communicate with current and potential buyers via email (though if a North Carolinian wants to buy a charger from Tesla, I have no idea how the legislation plans to enforce that ban on communication). The bill, supported by the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, applies to all auto manufacturers.
This post isn't exactly about math, but it is technical in nature, so I figured I'd get it out there. As part of my regular data-backup process, I routinely download my information archives from whatever online presences I can, such as Facebook (which I've been on since early 2010), Google Blogger (this blog you're reading right now), etc. Obviously on Facebook the thing that I'm most interested in is what I actually write, which are usually called "wall posts" (as opposed to photos or media, which I retain locally anyway). Once in a while I've found it very useful to pull up the downloaded posts file and search it for some particular bit of info, contact, or date. What I seem to have discovered is that sometime in the last few months, Facebook silently and completely removed our ability to download that "wall posts" information.
The Google Lunar XPRIZE is igniting a new era of lunar exploration by offering the largest international incentive prize of all time. A total of $30 million in prizes are available to the first privately funded teams to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, have that robot travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send video, images and data back to the Earth. Teams must be at least 90% privately funded, though commercially reasonable sales to government customers are allowed without limit.
ISPs will be barred from blocking or throttling customers' access to services that rival their own under new net neutrality rules that could soon be enforced across Europe.
The European Commission said that around 100 million Europeans face restrictions on their internet services because ISPs are reluctant give customers access to services which compete with their own offerings.
EFF Makes Formal Objection to DRM in HTML5 Draft Proposal from W3C Could Stymie Web Innovation
San Francisco - Today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a formal objection to the inclusion of digital rights management (DRM) in HTML5, arguing that a draft proposal from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) could stymie Web innovation and block access to content for people across the globe.
The W3C's HTML working group is creating a technical standard for HTML5, an upcoming revision to the computer language that creates webpages and otherwise displays content online. The working group has accepted a draft that includes discussion of Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), which will hard-wire the requirements of DRM vendors into the HTML standard.
"This proposal stands apart from all other aspects of HTML standardization: it defines a new 'black box' for the entertainment industry, fenced off from control by the browser and end-user," said EFF International Director Danny O'Brien. "While this plan might soothe Hollywood content providers who are scared of technological evolution, it could also create serious impediments to interoperability and access for all."
DRM standards look like normal technical standards but turn out to have quite different qualities. They fail to implement their stated intention – protecting media – while dragging in legal mandates that chill the speech of technologists, lock down technology, and violate property rights by seizing control of personal computers from their owners. Accepting EME could lead to other rightsholders demanding the same privileges as Hollywood, leading to a Web where images and pages cannot be saved or searched, ads cannot be blocked, and innovative new browsers cannot compete without explicit permission from big content companies.
EFF filed this objection as its first act as a full member of W3C. EFF's goal is to broaden the discussion of the consequences of accepting DRM-based proposals like EME for the future of the Web.
"The W3C needs to develop a policy regarding DRM and similar proposals, or risk having its own work and the future of the Web become buried in the demands of businesses that would rather it never existed in the first place," said EFF Senior Staff Technologist Seth Schoen. "The EME proposal needs to be seen for what it is: a creation that will shut out open source developers and competition, throw away interoperability, and lock in legacy business models. This is the opposite of the fair use model that gave birth to the Web."
For EFF's full Formal Objection:
For more on DRM in HTML5:
International Outreach Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Senior Staff Technologist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
A high school graduate in Alabama is being denied her diploma after being fined $1,000 for wearing a feather reflecting her Native American heritage.
Bambi Note: This is nuts and ludicrous. The school needs to have a reset on their entire thinking about education. What kind of message are they sending to students there and across the country? They obviously have no idea how stupid doing something like that appears to the outside world and the rest of the country.
Microsoft officials confirmed plans to make Outlook RT available on ARM-based devices, including Surface RT, in conjunction with Windows 8.1, codenamed 'Blue.'
Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvaniahave determined the role of a key growth factor, found in skin cells of limited quantities in humans, which helps hair follicles form and regenerate during the wound healing process. When this growth factor, called Fgf9, was overexpressed in a mouse model, there was a two- to three-fold increase in the number of new hair follicles produced. Researchers believe that this growth factor could be used therapeutically for people with various hair and scalp disorders. The study appears in an advance online publication of Nature Medicine.
Bambi Note: My first thought was how does this help baldness since it has to be a wound, right? Surgical grade sandpaper to wound the scalp and then apply the fgf9 protein?
All kidding aside, this fgf9 is very cool! And gives a whole new outlook on the 'burned and hairy hand' in The Paper Chase movie. ;-)
A kidney dialysis patient is the first in the U.S. to receive a bioengineered blood vessel transplanted by a team of doctors at Duke University Hospital.
The FDA recently approved a clinical trial involving 20 kidney dialysis patients in the United States. In an operation which took place on June 5 this year, the first patient to receive the implant into his arm was a 62-year-old man from Danville, Va., who has renal failure. Clinical trials have also begun in Poland.
The new vein is made of human cells but with no biological properties that could cause rejection. Engineered by cultivating donated human cells on a tubular scaffold to form a vessel, in tests, the vein fared better than synthetic and animal-based implants.
“We hope this sets the groundwork for how these things can be grown, how they can incorporate into the host, and how they can avoid being rejected immunologically,” Jeffrey H. Lawson, M.D., PhD, a vascular surgeon and vascular biologist at Duke said. “A blood vessel is really an organ — it’s complex tissue. We start with this, and one day we may be able to engineer a liver or a kidney or an eye.”
US President Barack Obama is planning to announce a series of executive actions against patent trolls today to stop them from abusing the patent system.
Obama has often made his position known on trolls, companies which acquire patents not for the purpose of making products but instead in order to sue someone else who is already doing so. In February, the President said that patent trolls don’t “produce anything themselves” and are “trying to leverage and hijack someone else’s idea and see if they can extort some money out of them”. He said at the time that new legislation was needed to sort out the patent system.
Bambi Note: About time.
Apple has been found to be in violation of a Samsung patent, which has resulted in a limited import ban on certain products, including the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, original iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G, all only for AT&T-specific models. More details are emerging about the ruling, but it’s likely this affects only older devices on AT&T because it relates to a specific component used before wider release of the iPhone with multi-band support.
The import ban could theoretically result in Apple being unable to sell the devices in question in the U.S., should all appeals fail and the decision be upheld, since Apple wouldn’t be able to bring the devices into the country from its overseas suppliers and manufacturing facilities. As this is an ITC ruling, it would have to be appealed to the White House or Federal Circuit to be overturned, notes Nilay Patel of The Verge on Twitter.
Scientists have invented a dangerous new charger capable of infecting iPhones with any malware they choose.
Eggheads from the Georgia Institute of Technology claim to be able to hack an iPhone in under one minute using a "malicious charger" called Mactans.
The email appeared to come from a trusted colleague at a renowned academic institution and referenced a subject that was a hot-button issue for the recipient, including a link to a website where she could obtain more information about it.
But when the recipient looked closely at the sender’s email address, a tell-tale misspelling gave the phishing attempt away — the email purported to come from a professor at Harvard University, but instead of harvard.edu, the email address read “hardward.edu”.
Not exactly a professional con-job from nation-state hackers, but that’s exactly who may have sent the email to an American woman, who believes she was targeted by forces in Turkey connected to or sympathetic to the powerful Gülen Movement, which has infiltrated parts of the Turkish government.
Bambi Note: Figures doesn't it?
Here's a riddle: Why did the US customs agents search your laptop at the airport?
Answer: Oh, well, it's hard to say. They just kind of had a hunch that you were suspicious, you know?
It sounds like a hyperbolically offhand rationale to justify disregarding travelers' constitutional rights against unreasonable searches (at least, the rights of US citizens, supposedly guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment), but the glibness is barely exaggerated.
Bambi Note: This is why I do not fly. And haven't for many years now. Not just because it's expensive for two people to fly, but I get tired of the stories of hassles by the TSA which is part of the DHS, and almost as bad as that is the lack of good care of airplane seatbelts where they have some with tattered edges, etc. and the general lack of courtesy and understanding that should accompany a paying customer by the Airport personnel.
I just talked to a lady who will never fly again because of all of this. It was nothing in particular that caused it, but the overall bad experience that she paid for!
I am not going to be put in that kind of uncontrollable position when I am paying hard earned money for the ticket. No way.
The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largesttelecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from liberal Northern California and the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, assured the public earlier today that the government’s secret snooping into the phone records of Americans was perfectly fine, because the information it obtained was only “meta,” meaning it excluded the actual content of the phone conversations, providing merely records, from a Verizon subsidiary, of who called whom when and from where. In addition, she said in a prepared statement, the “names of subscribers” were not included automatically in the metadata (though the numbers, surely, could be used to identify them). “Our courts have consistently recognized that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in this type of metadata information and thus no search warrant is required to obtain it,” she said, adding that “any subsequent effort to obtain the content of an American’s communications would require a specific order from the FISA court.”
The answer, according to the mathematician and former Sun Microsystems engineer Susan Landau, whom I interviewed while reporting on the plight of the former N.S.A. whistleblower Thomas Drake and who is also the author of “Surveillance or Security?,” is that it’s worse than many might think.
“The public doesn’t understand,” she told me, speaking about so-called metadata. “It’s much more intrusive than content.” She explained that the government can learn immense amounts of proprietary information by studying “who you call, and who they call. If you can track that, you know exactly what is happening—you don’t need the content.”
For example, she said, in the world of business, a pattern of phone calls from key executives can reveal impending corporate takeovers. Personal phone calls can also reveal sensitive medical information: “You can see a call to a gynecologist, and then a call to an oncologist, and then a call to close family members.” And information from cell-phone towers can reveal the caller’s location. Metadata, she pointed out, can be so revelatory about whom reporters talk to in order to get sensitive stories that it can make more traditional tools in leak investigations, like search warrants and subpoenas, look quaint. “You can see the sources,” she said. When the F.B.I. obtains such records from news agencies, the Attorney General is required to sign off on each invasion of privacy. When the N.S.A. sweeps up millions of records a minute, it’s unclear if any such brakes are applied.
Metadata, Landau noted, can also reveal sensitive political information, showing, for instance, if opposition leaders are meeting, who is involved, where they gather, and for how long. Such data can reveal, too, who is romantically involved with whom, by tracking the locations of cell phones at night.
More from EFF: Why Metadata Matters
In response to the recent news reports about the National Security Agency's surveillance program, President Barack Obama said today, "When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls." Instead, the government was just "sifting through this so-called metadata." The Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made a similar comment last night: "The program does not allow the Government to listen in on anyone’s phone calls. The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the identity of any subscriber."
What they are trying to say is that disclosure of metadata—the details about phone calls, without the actual voice—isn't a big deal, not something for Americans to get upset about if the government knows. Let's take a closer look at what they are saying:
- They know you rang a phone sex service at 2:24 am and spoke for 18 minutes. But they don't know what you talked about.
- They know you called the suicide prevention hotline from the Golden Gate Bridge. But the topic of the call remains a secret.
- They know you spoke with an HIV testing service, then your doctor, then your health insurance company in the same hour. But they don't know what was discussed.
- They know you received a call from the local NRA office while it was having a campaign against gun legislation, and then called your senators and congressional representatives immediately after. But the content of those calls remains safe from government intrusion.
- They know you called a gynecologist, spoke for a half hour, and then called the local Planned Parenthood's number later that day. But nobody knows what you spoke about.
Sorry, your phone records—oops, "so-called metadata"—can reveal a lot more about the content of your calls than the government is implying. Metadata provides enough context to know some of the most intimate details of your lives. And the government has given no assurances that this data will never be correlated with other easily obtained data. They may start out with just a phone number, but areverse telephone directory is not hard to find. Given the public positions the government has taken onlocation information, it would be no surprise if they include location information demands in Section 215 orders for metadata.
If the President really welcomes a robust debate on the government's surveillance power, it needs to start being honest about the invasiveness of collecting your metadata.
The Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S.
The intriguing the list includes obvious choices such as 'attack', 'Al Qaeda', 'terrorism' and 'dirty bomb' alongside dozens of seemingly innocent words like 'pork', 'cloud', 'team' and 'Mexico'.
Demand Answers Now
Recent reports by the Guardian and the Washington Post confirm secret spying on phone records and Internet activity.
A new report in the Guardian shows that the National Security Agency (NSA) has collected the call records of every Verizon customer in America—millions upon millions of call records. This includes every call made, the location of the phone, the time of the call, the duration of the call, and other "identifying information"—for every single call made by a Verizon customer, regardless of whether they've ever been suspected of a crime.
And that's not all. Reports have now been published by the Washington Post and the Guardian based on information provided by a career intelligence officer showing how the NSA and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies. The government is extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person's movements and contacts over time.
It's likely been happening for years. Speaking about the secret order to Verizon, Senator Diane Feinstein says she believes that "This is an exact three-month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years."
And the Obama administration is defending this surveillance. A senior official in the Administration stated that these programs "comply with the Constitution" and "appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties."
It's time for a full accounting of America's secret spying programs—and an end to unconstitutional surveillance.
When the government was caught spying on American citizens in the 1960s and 70s, Congress created the Church Commission to right the government's wrongs. Recommendations from that commission resulted in legal reforms that ensured judicial oversight of surveillance programs. Congress must act in a similar fashion and create a 21st Century Church Commission and enact strong legislation to rein in the Executive Branch and protect our communciations.
Join EFF in calling for a full investigation by emailing Congress today.
For far too long, secret law and a secret surveillance state have been a dark specter on Americans' freedom. It's time to shine a light on NSA's spying.
NSA Spying Overview
Timeline of NSA Spying
Frequently Asked Questions
State Secrets Privilege
Washington Post story on Internet surveillance
Guardian story on Internet surveillance
Guardian story on phone record surveillance
Bambi Note: Here's a quote of interest from a NYTimes article back in May 2011:
“I want to deliver a warning this afternoon: When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry,” Mr. Wyden said. (more info in the linked NYTimes article from May 26, 2011)
Here's an ACLU article as well that links to the Senator Wyden quote and much more from October 28, 2011:
The Patriot Act Anniversary Week Round-Up - ACLU
Surveillance Under the Patriot Act - ACLU (includes infographic about this topic)
And the EFF article from June 5, 2013: Confirmed: The NSA is Spying on Millions of Americans