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Stateside: Of Pollies And Weather And Wine

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Of Pollies And Weather And Wine

::Tony's in town!::

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is in San Francisco this weekend, and last night attended a tony dinner at the penthouse home of George Pratt Schultz, who was Reagan's Secretary of State from 1982 to 1989. Also at the dinner was Phil Angelides, the Democratic candidate for governor of California, with whom the Blair camp reportedly asked for a meeting.

This morning, Blair toured Delancey Street, a very successful project that rehabilitates people with drug and alcohol problems. He'll then have a roundtable lunch with folks from the Silicon Valley at the Cisco Systems campus before driving down to Pebble Beach for a Rupert Murdoch-sponsored leadership retreat.

Blair will also be meeting with the folks at Genentech--a major biotechnology firm in South San Francisco--and then fly to Southern California to meet up with Schwarzenegger and go to a do at UCLA. There's much speculation that Mr Blair is job-hunting while he's here.

Much to my surprise, the usual sites that organise protests whenever anyone with pro-Iraq-invasion credentials is in town have completely ignored Blair's visit.

::The US Senate race::

Last weekend, duelling protests centered on Justin Herman Plaza in SF where California's senior US Senator Dianne Feinstein was speaking at a rally supporting the Israeli attacks on Lebanon. In the brief item one TV station ran, Feinstein was saying that we should not forget that after 9/11 Israel stood by the American people. Well, I seem to recall that the Lebanese people did the same, so that's hardly a sound reason for supporting Israel's actions at this time.

The same news clip also showed Todd Chretien, the Green candidate in the Senate race, saying that you'll notice the US is backing intervention where the oil resources are. Alarmingly, the two places in the world that he gave as examples of places without oil resources, hence no intervention by the US, actually are places WITH oil reserves.

In any case, it's long been my opinion that the reason for the Iraq war is water, not oil. The first things that were secured by the US military were the dams on the great rivers in that region. I think the Greens should retire that tired old dead horse and start flogging something with a bit of life in it instead.

::Global warming? Perhaps::

It's too late for anyone to start taking the high ground on environmental matters in the California governor's race because Arnie's all over it. His campaign bus (manufactured by Hemphill--get it?) is even painted green and if you go to his campaign website it's got more green splattered all over it that that priest in The Exorcist.

::"Hey, did someone up there in space order a freezer?"::

No, the Democrats are going to have to take the Republicans on over something that relates to war's effect on innocent civilians. Bombing of civilian targets can always be squirmed out of (sometimes legitimately) by saying that the civilians were being used as human shields to protect weapons situated in their communities.

So the tack to take, I think, is the harm that US military experiments with weather manipulation is doing to civilian populations. According to a recent article on, "the recent trend is in using super conductors in space satellites to generate high intensity electromagnetic flux" in the ionosphere to manipulate ion density and thus the weather.

Superconductivity is the phenomenon of having negligible resistance to the flow of electric current, which some metals, alloys and other compounds have at temperatures approaching absolute zero. However, recent experiments have revealed materials that are superconductive at temperatures hundreds of degrees above absolute zero (zero Kelvin).

At 193.15 Kelvin (-80 degrees Celsius), perhaps? That's the temperature inside the freezer that the most recent space shuttle mission took up to the International Space Station. For an account of MELFI (Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS) being loaded into the cargo transport module, see the feature entitled "Hey, did someone up there in space order a freezer?" on the NASA website.

::Or was it wind shear?::

My other flight of fancy regarding the totally unexpected stalling of the high pressure over California and the Southwest last week was that when the space shuttle came out of its orbit on July 17 for a landing, the pressure wave it created interfered with some normal weather process.

NASA very nicely posts plots of the deorbit paths of its shuttle missions on its website, and you can find the one for STS-121 here:

Just for fun, you could take the latitude and longitude of its path over the Yucatan peninsula at approximately 8.33 am EDT and enter them in the Map Domain area of NOAA's weather plotter to see what the weather was like at the time. Or you could just choose the last item listed on the following pre-set choices: Northern Hemisphere, USA, ALL, Afghanistan, Tropics, Indian-Pacific, 4-Corner Region Western US. This last choice equates to the area where our summer weather engine fires up.

The Atmospheric Variables Plotting Page, as it's called, is here:

::Screw Cap Revolution::

And now for something completely different... at a work do mid-week I took along a bottle of NZ wine and was mortified to discover that instead of a cork it had a screw top. But then, when I was researching stuff for my review of The Lake House, I discovered that:

"On Wednesday, August 16th, 2006 we will focus on the 'Wine from Down Under.' Australia and New Zealand are now producing some of the hottest new wines, and not to mention that they are the leaders in the Screw Cap Revolution. Join us from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM to sip on some great wine and nosh on the shrimp from the bar-b as well as other 'Down Under' inspired hors d’ oeuvres."

"We" is the Park Grill Restaurant in Chicago, which plays a restaurant called Il Mare in The Lake House

An old article on asks:

"Will connoisseurs go for screw caps on a wine that costs big bucks? The answer is yes, says Denise Moffit, retail sales manager at Napa Valley's PlumpJack Winery. She reports that the winery's clientele has 'embraced the screw cap much more strongly than we anticipated.' The proof? The astonishingly layered and lovely PlumpJack Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1996, Napa Valley — $145 with its screw cap — is sold out!"

So, I am just sooooo behind the times it seems. The downside of the screw cap however, is that if you lay a previously opened bottle down on its side--for example, in your tote bag when you're taking home the leftovers--it leaks. (Don't ask me why there were leftovers.) To read about the Screwcap initiative, go here:


rosalea.barke r@g

I’m posting some stuff from the now-defunct Bayosphere blog I had here:


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