Thursday, January 31, 2013

New York Times attacked

The next States and Nations 3.0 article is on its way, but first another example of the escalation of cyberwarfare activity on the Internet.

Chinese Hackers Infiltrate New York Times Computers - NYTimes.com:

'via Blog this'

The New York Times' corporate network, and the computers of several, if not most of its journalists, appear to have been compromised by Chinese government hackers. The cause of the attack looks to have been an investigative article that the NY Times ran about the family of China's premier amassing a fortune during his time in office.

The idea that a regime that regularly oppresses its own media and attempts to--often unsuccessfully--stifle its citizens' freedom of expression on the internet can move against a media outlet in a democracy is disturbing But it's also a reality of the networked age that we live in. Borders no longer mean quite what they used to, and offer much less protection than we are accustomed to.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A double arm transplant

Johns Hopkins Hospital performs double arm transplant on Army soldier - The Washington Post:

'via Blog this'

I knew that we had the ability to reattach severed limbs, but I had no idea that we were up to doing limb transplants. That's a technique and technology that's both miraculous and strange.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Women in combat

Topical reading:


We've come to another moment in which science fiction from earlier decades has morphed into reality. Good or bad, it's certainly one of those pivot points we call historic change.

American women going to war is an issue I've swung back and forth on a few time. The idea of women taking part in combat has been with me from an early age. I grew up reading speculative fiction that depicted women participating in life or death struggles. Everything from William Gibson's mirror-eyed street samurai, Molly, to the dropship pilots and warship helmswomen in Heinlein's Starship Troopers.

Then, as a twenty-something I joined the military and saw women in uniform at forward-deployed locations in East Asia and the Balkans. That complicated things, seeing the reality versus the theory in literature.

Mostly I've been on the pro side of the issue. A child of the Post-Civil Rights Era, I came of age immersed in the idea of meritocratic willpower. Capability isn't a function of innate traits, but rather a matter of applying oneself. Anyone can do almost anything with the right amount of sacrifice and drive.

So I was more than pissed off when I arrived at my first duty station in Korea and heard a scout sergeant, whom I had immense respect for, badmouth the idea of women in combat, and women in the Army for that matter. To me, the sergeant in question was an otherwise model noncommissioned officer and an exemplar of open mindedness. He had a solid respect for the Korean civilians and military personnel whom we dealt with, and despite his sometimes reserved manner, he excelled at communicating across cultural boundaries precisely because he saw no fundamental difference between them and us. So it irked me all the more when he said "wait and see what they're like" on the matter of women in uniform.

Tough to swallow, but fair enough. The isolated border cavalry unit that we belonged to had just a handful of female soldiers and warrant officers in it. They were pilots and maintenance personnel in the Kiowa scout helicopter and aviation support troops that were a part of our squadron--a unit that was an unusual combination of ground and air elements that formed a kind of super battalion built for aggressive, armored and aerial reconnaissance. I'd only seen those soldiers from our sister camp in passing from a distance when the whole unit was in the field, so I sure as hell wasn't in a position to make any contrary arguments about on-the-ground reality. Certainly not to a former Military Policeman who had actual experience working with female soldiers on a daily basis.

After the year in Korea, my second posting took me to a much larger legacy Cold War base in Southern Germany inhabited by soldiers from a host of combat and support units. That was my first extended experience of being around the Army's other half: The services and support groups that gave me an an eyeful of out-of-shape female soldiers lagging behind their units during morning runs--gossiping in gaggles rather than putting their hearts into the physical conditioning that their lives and mine might depend on if we were called to war.

They also gave me an earful to consider. My first evening on post, I dropped off several sets of BDUs at the post tailor's shop to switch out my 2nd Infantry Indian Head / Captain American shield patches for the Big Red One of the 1st Infantry Division. Waiting in line, I was treated to a loud and angry monologue by a bitter female soldier bragging to a friend how she was faking a pregnancy to get out of a field deployment in winter, and how she resented her chain of command's accusations that she was...get this...faking a pregnancy to get out of a field deployment.

Well, shit. It turned out there was at least a grain of truth behind those derogatory remarks in Korea. Something at some level was broken. Women and the Army did not appear to be meshing all that well from what I could see in other units, and the idea of female soldiers in ground combat no longer seemed like a good one.

My first actual on-the-job interactions with female soldiers came almost a year and a-half later, when the all-male tank battalion I was assigned to sent me to attend the noncommissioned officers academy at Grafenwoehr. This was the last step in the process of earning my sergeant's stripes, and included in my training platoon were three female soldiers from support units.

Two of them most definitely left a lot to be desired as warriors. Lots of complaining and some notable deficiencies in physical conditioning and basic military skills. The third was one of the most squared away individuals in the class. During our first ruck march, one of the instructors stepped up the pace, and sure enough, our class was soon strung out, with red-faced panting soldiers struggling and failing to keep up. Except for me of course. As one of the few combat arms soldiers in the class, and as a scout, I sure as fuck wasn't going to let myself be smoked in a short, five mile trek.

And neither was the lithe amazon on my left. The tall cook strode along with a smile on her face. Pretty soon we were trading wisecracks and witticisms at the expense of our classmates, until the instructor, whose footsteps were were dogging, told us to shut up in no uncertain terms. In hindsight I can't blame him for that. We were pretty full of ourselves, and we probably weren't near as funny as we thought we were.

It later turned out, to no great surprise, that unlike her sister soldiers in the platoon, the cook endured cold and sleep deprivation without complaint. She had a ready sense of humor that she used to help other soldiers get through the unpleasant moments, and her test scores were always near the top of the class. What she didn't know in field skills, she quickly picked up from me and the two 11Bravos (infantrymen) in the class, because she was more than willing to ask and then apply herself to mastering whatever task was at hand.

I came away from the school and a subsequent deployment to Macedonia and Kosovo with a new impression of women soldiers. Whatever the reason, the Army of the late 90s seemed to be producing excellent and poor female soldiers, but not a lot in between. It also left me still dubious about allowing women to go into harms way in ground combat units.

Remedying that was a topic I wanted to tackle in science fiction when I left the Army, and started writing again. The uneven performance of female soldiers in practice offended both my youthful notions of merit and the sense of standards and work ethic that I had picked up in uniform. Was there a cultural solution? Most definitely. Culture appeared to be a part of the issue. Could technology play a role? Possibly. It could help to negate many of the average differences between women and men in physical performance, and perhaps be used to address some of the 'women's issues' that less-than-motivated female soldiers sometimes used to get out of work and deployments.

Ultimately my plans to take on these issues in fiction ended up being all for not. 9/11 happened soon afterwards, and the Army found itself in two wars with with no clear front lines. In these environments both the institution and the individuals adapted. Any misgivings about the performance of average female soldiers in peacetime were soon laid to rest by the actual performance of women at war.

American women have fought, died, been wounded, and triumphed in the ultimate test of the issue. They've established battle record that speaks for itself, and the recent decision to rescind the early 90s ban on women in ground combat is simply a recognition of that fact.

Which brings us back to today, and the turning of that page in history. Live long enough and who knows how much science fiction will come to pass before your eyes.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Be your own historian now and then

"...I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states...Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds."

Letter from a Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King Jr., UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

One of the best things that citizens in a democracy can do is to read the past. In other words, don't just read about times gone by in short, angry articles on the Internet, or only in history books. Take a moment now and then to look up some of the original primary source documents from important periods. Even just skimming through letters and diaries offers amazing, on-the-ground snapshots of the thoughts and experiences of individuals who lived through major events and shaped our present.

After all, you live in an age when the Internet and a system of public libraries gives everyone an unprecedented, democratized access to the raw stuff of history. So try being your own historian for a Sunday or two each year. It'll show you an amazing chain of moments from the lives of those who helped to make you who and what you are.

And in other news...

Today the United State's first black president was inaugurated for a second time, and it just so happens that the occasion (the timing of which is mandated in the US Constitution) falls on Martin Luther King day. That's cool. Very cool actually for someone who grew up at a time when a black president was the stuff of science fiction.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Libraries

One of the many things I love about Portland and its surrounding sister cities are the public libraries. Beautiful buildings filled with interesting books and a wide variety individuals. They're great places to work, research, and above all, to go people watching. Sadly, however, as far as I can tell, there are no invisible angels in trench coats listening to people's thoughts, like there apparently are in Berlin's city library.



The clip above is from the fantastic film, Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin). It's brilliant and deliberately paced film of silent angels observing the soul of a city and its inhabitants.

Do you remember how, one morning, out of the savanna – its forehead smeared with grass – the biped appeared, our long-awaited image, and its first word was a shout: was it “Ach”, or “Ah” or “Oh”, or was it merely a groan? At last we were able to laugh for the first time. And through this man’s shout and the calls of his successor, we learned to speak.
 ~ The angel Cassiel, Der Himmel über Berlin

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dystopias: Part one

I've witnessed two conflicts with very different flavors in my life to date.

The first was the ongoing standoff on the Korean Peninsula. While I was there in 1997, Korea was a simmering stew of tensions and incidences as millions starved not far away on the other side of the Demilitarized Zone. The root of the armed deadlock was an ongoing ideological conflict that had found visible expression in extensive defensive fortifications such as tanks traps, marked mine fields, and bunkers scattered across the landscape, along with presence of tens of thousands of uniformed soldiers north of Seoul. Then there were the intangibles that contributed to the experience. A general knowledge of extensive civil defense preparations that included mass evacuation plans and South Korean contingencies for responding to massed artillery falling one of the world's most densely populated mega cities.

The standoff felt massive, looming, and impersonal.

The second conflict was the aftermath of the war in Kosovo, which I mostly glimpsed while traveling back and forth on escort missions over the mountains between the then breakaway province and Macedonia. The Kosovo conflict was so different from Korea that it felt like it had taken place on another planet. Rather than a clash of states, it was a fight between two ethnic groups. The hatred involved was deeply personal, and even intimate in some cases. During the war, it had played out in a thousand ugly acts of cruelty in villages and neighborhoods where many of the combatants had grown up knowing one another.

While working on the States and Nations 3.0 articles, memories and thoughts about those conflicts have been bubbling up. Not in a bad way, but more as a natural consequence of thinking about the future and of how technology can impact societies. There is a lot that can and has gone disastrously wrong during technological revolutions.

The Cold War that produced the Korean Conflict was itself a product of a chaos unleashed by the advent of industrial technology on agricultural societies during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The new tools and chemical products produced in factories and laboratories made us too efficient as farmers at a time when most of the population farmed or worked supporting farming. For the first time in human existence there was consistently too much food from year to year, and crop prices plummeted, never to recover.

Shorn of their livelihoods and with no other way to survive or escape the downward spiral of poverty, tens of millions left their family farms and moved to manufacturing cities: places of brick and soot and smoke that were infamously dirty, crowded, and unhygienic. Tightly knit communities governed by tradition and religion were left behind for tenant neighborhoods of anonymity among millions of other faceless and displaced individuals. Also lost was dignity of self-employment (in much of the US), and a life lived outdoors. Work moved from fields and woods to factories where accidents and potential mutilation were common hazards, along merciless bosses who wielded power over their workers' ability to make a living at a time when willing bodies far outnumbered jobs.*

Marxism was a well-intentioned response to that tumult. Sadly, however, the nation-states that it took root in quickly turned on their own populations. A system of liberation in theory, the various forms of Communism brought mass purges, police state surveillance, exile to labor or death camps, and mass starvation to millions in practice. Then there was the opposition on the far fight. Fascism and Nazism arose in part as a reaction to the economic and perceived moral chaos of the 1920s, but also partially as an extreme response to Communism -- a deliberate attempt to harness the total submission of the individual to the state to counter communist success at doing the same.

What the two sides shared was their origin as attempts to curb to a chaos that had changed entire societies and economies. So in the next Dystopias article we'll examine how technologies on our current horizon could create similar levels of upheaval and new expressions of totalitarianism. After that, we'll move from the state as an instrument of future tyranny, and look at how technologies such as human augmentation, social networks, pervasive computing, and 3D printers could empower communities to oppress themselves. In other words, we'll be looking at some of the underlying dynamics that could lead to both future North Koreas and Kosovos.


*Charles Dickinson and Upton Sinclair were among the most famous authors to document the difficulties and losses endured by common men and women during the early industrial age, but there are others who are worth taking a look at too. Looking Backwards: 2000 - 1887, one the first American science fiction novels, became a bestseller of the period with its depiction of the late 19th century's exploitation, cruelty, and the loss of what author Edward Bellamy saw as traditional Christian spirit to the grim commercial realities and the Social Darwinism of the industrial age.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Space Magic - David D. Levine

Fellow Portland writer David D. Levine now has an anthology of stories out through Bookview Cafe. This is the ebook version of the Endeavor award-wining trade paperback of the same name, originally published by Wheatland Press. It can also be found on Amazon.com and Powell's in hardcopy and digital.

David has won or been nominated for just about every major award in science fiction. Space Magic includes his Hugo winner "Tk'Tk'Tk" along other several other stories that have brought home statues and literary trophies.

Product Description:

"This Endeavour Award-winning collection pulls together 15 critically acclaimed science fiction and fantasy stories that take readers from a technicolor cartoon realm to an ancient China that never was, and from an America gone wrong to the very ends of the universe. Including the Hugo Award-winning "Tk'Tk'Tk," the Writers of the Future Award winner "Rewind," "Nucleon," "The Tale of the Golden Eagle," and many other highly-praised stories, Space Magic shows David D. Levine's talents not only as a gifted writer but as a powerful storyteller whose work explores the farthest reaches of space as well as the depths of the human heart."

Also in Portland Writing News:

The speculative fiction writing community has started two fundraising efforts to support award winning author Jay Lake, whose ongoing battle with liver cancer has taken some ugly turns in recent months. My favorite of the two is Sequence a Science Fiction Writer, which is raising money to read the genome of Jay's tumors in hopes of finding a new and more targeted treatment regime. I donated directly to Jay's tip jar on his blog, but contributing to the campaign hosted on YouCarring.com might prove to be a good deal more entertaining for you. For example, Neil Gaiman will be performing a Ukulele cover of a yet-to-be-chosen track off the Magnetic Fields album 69 Love Songs in honor of the campaign passing $20,000. Donors who contribute more than $50 will be entered into a drawing to chose which song Mr. Gaiman performs.

States and Nations 3.0: Why 3.0

I'm presently working on the next States and Nations article, as well as another on future dystopias. The latter looks at some of the technological roots of nightmare societies, like the Soviet Union, North Korea, and Nazi Germany, and speculates on how future technologies could lead to novel totalitarian variations. In the meanwhile, I thought I'd do a quick explanation behind the 3.0 in the title of the States series.

For me, the 1.0 generation of states extends from early city-states in Mesopotamia, the Indus River Valley, and Egypt, to medieval European kingdoms and the Inca and Aztec empires. In a sense, these human collectives were just jumped up chieftainships, like those that had ruled over constellations of conquered agricultural villages in resource rich micro-regions. While often larger and centered on cities, 1.0 nation-states typically still featured a ruling family similar to those found in chieftainships, and those states' nascent administrative bureaucries were normally direct extensions of that family's royal court or household.

States 2.0 are products of the industrial revolution. These modern nation have far larger populations that exploded with the arrival of technologies that boosted food production and preservation -- and that slashed child mortality rates. Think canned meats and vegetables, improved hygiene, and modern sewers. The national infrastructure and services requirements of these industrial-sized populations in the 19th and 20th centuries necessitated the creation of extended bureaucries -- vast administrative apparatuses that took on lives of their own. In most 2.0 states, political power has rapidly -- in a historical time frame -- diffused from small groups of ruling elites to most of the population. Of course there have been some notable and ugly exceptions to that trend. Several of the mid-20th century totalitarian states saw a cult-like centralization of power in individuals like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and a succession of Kims.

If you'd like to take this opportunity to cry foul, please do so. In the interest of brevity, there is a lot of simplification and compression taking place here. For example, I've skipped over parallel administrative and social services provided by professional priesthoods around the world. Then there are the version 1.5 states: Empires like that of Rome, the Parthian, the Kushan, and the Han Chinese, which at the start of the first millennium of our Common Era spanned nearly all of Eurasia, from the Pacific to the Atlantic. These states saw the rise of administrative apparatuses that were not made possible by new information preservation and distribution technologies. Instead, they were created in response to the needs of ruling over vast conquered or absorbed populations, and often relied on sheer manpower and highly trained memories at a time when memorizing and reciting volumes of literature and poetry was an expected part of educated life.

While technology is a powerful force that societies respond to and even restructure around, it's not the only one in play on the field of historical change.

Still, technology should be discussed as a shaper of nations. In our present, it's a major influence that's both overt and subtle. From abortion and prenatal sex selection in Asia, to the internet's radical democratization of content creation and publishing, many of issues that human beings around the planet are dealing with are responses to developing technologies. Responses that may well reshape states, or create successor collectives, just as previous tech revolutions have.

All of which is important to a fledgling science fiction author who spends a lot of time thinking about the future. As I mentioned in the first States and Nations article, many of our descendants may well end up being immensely amused by our depictions of clumsy 20th century style nation-states operating across multiple star systems. Imagine a chieftain's scribe penning a speculative romance that depicted a future chief commanding tanks and attack helicopters against a similarly armed chieftainship. On that rules a continent of villages with only the backing of a handful of warrior priests.

Granted, predicting the future is a often loser's game. Our present is practically littered with the detritus of past predictions that have come and gone without being realized. Still, it's a fun exercise, and once in a rare while one of us does hit the mark, William Gibson style.

It's also an opportunity to come up with cool and interesting concepts. The kind of ideas that make readers go "whoa," in a Keanu Reeves kind'a way. I'm hoping that some of those ideas will be come from exploring the territory 3.0 states that are as much a product of new information, fabrication, or bio technologies as their predecessors were of past agricultural and industrial revolutions.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The ongoing assault on the banking system

Banks seek NSA help amid attacks on their computer systems - The Washington Post:

'via Blog this'

A short Washington Post article that talks about the ongoing organized cyberwarfare assault on the US banking system. Interestingly enough (or perhaps disturbingly), the current wave of incidents has been the most disruptive to date because the attackers were able to commandeer the processing power of several data processing centers to use as platforms for extremely high volume denial of service attacks.

Monday, January 07, 2013

States and Nations 3.0: The defense of cyberdemocracies

Previous article: Social Network Democracy

Being dependent on networked software systems for governance or voting functions, a cyberdemocracy would be vulnerable to being hacked. That's not a surprising revelation, of course, but it is a weakness that needs to be addressed as part of any serious discussion about electronic and social network democracies.

Social engine software could be targeted with commonplace methods such as denial of service attacks, trojan-delivered root kits, and viruses, or subverted by more circuitous means of aggression. On present day social networks, the latter sometimes take the form of cybermobs and cyberbullying, in which slanderous emails or texts are used to organize attacks, boycotts, or the shaming of targeted individuals in a manner never intended by a network's creators. An application of such techniques could be used to sabotage a vote or turn a segment of a society against a group of fellow citizens. Another, less direct subversion of a cyberemocracy, would be an organized wave of sockpuppet attacks -- like those that are occasionally employed to spam review sites and up-voting systems.

In the end though, none of these possibilities are good arguments against cyberdemocracies, at least in my estimation. Dealing with online attacks is a reality of living in an age of networks. We already do so with our present networked financial system, and though the heavily automated and interlinked system of logistics that moves goods across the world.

We're already so invested in cyberspace  that retreating from it is not a realistic option at this point. Instead, creating robust systems capable of absorbing attacks is the price of functionality. A reality that's already in practice in business and manufacturing, and could be adapted for social governance software at some point in the future.

It's also worth considering that traditional democracy hasn't always been above subversion. It took time and successive waves of reforms to create democracy's present, relatively stable configuration. In the recent past, democratic nations imposed requirements that effectively disenfranchised large portions of their populations. In the US, political machines, the wealthy, and rail road corporations all engaged in brazen vote buying prior to reforms introduced during the late 1800s.

To prevent similar failures and to provide robustness, cyberdemocracies will need transparency, redundant data trails, and independent observers. Their governance systems would also need to be administered by individuals accountable in some significant way to the public. Additionally, some of the necessary transparency could be achieved by making sure that its software is open source.

Would the use of open source software make cyberdemocracies more vulnerable to being hacked? Not likely. The most popular server software, which is also the basis for Apple's iPhone, the Mac operating system, and the Android OS are all Linux variants. Linux, perhaps the most famous product of the open source movement, has proven itself to be a solid and reliable operating system in the current Wild West environment of the internet. Open source governance systems would not only provide transparency, but have access to a community of developers who have created an iterative creation process that has outstripped closed-source systems in quality and reliability over the past twenty years.

Like any other software system cyberdemocracy governance architectures would not need to be foolproof. Instead, they would need to be robust enough to avoid catastrophic failure under stress, and redundant enough to quickly recover from service outages and attempts at data falsification or destruction.

It's also worth noting that even with the worrying incidents in recent years, ranging from hacker-caused power outages in Brazil to an ongoing series of attacks against major US banks -- likely conducted by Iran's security services -- no one has succeeded in causing a catastrophic failure that has threatened the stability of a nation-state.

That's not to say it can't happen. Especially in the age of banks that are too big to fail, when the implosion of a Lehman Brothers can threaten the global economy. If nothing else, the destruction of 30,000 computers at the oil company Saudi Aramco last August gives us an idea of the kind of damage that could be inflicted on the financial system. Still, the failure of cyber attacks or even a major financial network malfunction to significantly damage a national economy to date suggests that disrupting a nation through software means is extraordinarily difficulty.

With that in mind, it seems likely that a cyberdemocracy's underlying governance system would be just one more part of that nation or collective's critical infrastructure.

Next up: Scale and the arrow of societal evolution

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Astoria

Spent a day wandering around the far northwestern corner of Oregon with camera in hand. The trip included a visit to the remote city of Astoria, which is best known as the setting for The Goonies.

The Columbia River approaching the Pacific Ocean.




Shipping traffic on the Columbia.



Ships coming in from the Pacific, having safely crossed over the treacherous bar at the mouth of the river. How treacherous? The Columbia Bar and surrounding area contain 2000 shipwrecks.


The Columbia River Bar Pilots association has been instrumental in making regular commerce across the bar feasible. The pilots are flown or boat out to approaching vessels, and then helm the ships through the sand bars and the collision point between the river's powerful outbound flow and the Pacific Oceans tides and wind-whipped waves. The association's members boast an impressive and unbroken twenty year safety record in the face of some world's worst sea conditions. A place that's so reliably bad that US Coast Guard and rescuers from around the planet use it as an extreme conditions training station.



Proximity to peril


While researching for a story set in the aftermath of a super volcano eruption, I came across some photos that drive home how tens of million human beings live in close proximity to some of the planet's more powerful volcanoes.

Below, Japan's Aso caldera. While not quite a full-fledged "super volcano" in terms of ash output, this volcano has covered much of Japan with heavy ashfalls and superheated pyroclastic flows. Presently it's home to croplands, several towns, and a small city, as well as complex of active volcanoes in at its center.

Photo courtesy of NASA, public domain


Not far to the south is the Aira caldera. Aira has generated VEI7 (Volcanic Explosivity Index 7) eruptions with an ash output greater than one hundred cubic kilometers of ash. That qualifies it as a super volcano, under the commonly used, if unofficial, definition of VEI7 or greater. The northernmost slice of the caldera is occupied by the city of Kagoshima, which contends with periodic ashfalls from the caldera's central volcanic peak, Sakurajima.

Photo courtesy of NASA, public domain



Then there is Italy's famous Mt. Vesuvius, of Pompeii fame. Several million people live in close proximity to the volcano. This includes the citizens of Naples, which is effectively sandwiched between Vesuvius and massive Campi Filigri caldera. Campi may have depopulated much of Southern and Eastern Europe during a massive ash eruption around 35,000 years ago, sending the Neanderthal populations of those areas and the near Middle East into terminal decline, and clearing the way for the entrance of modern humans onto the continent after being held at bay for 10,000 or more years.

Photo courtesy of NASA, public domain


Campi Filigri below. The caldera is difficult to make out, but it encompasses most of the bay toward the bottom center, and a noticeable slice of the coastline, including the city of Pozzuli. The city of 40,000 was temporarily evacuated during the early 80s, when the caldera floor uplifted during a period of swelling by over a meter.

Photo courtesy of NASA, public domain



Thursday, January 03, 2013

Sunset on the Oregon Coast

Taken on January 2nd, at Ecola State Park. It was an amazing combination of wind, haze, big waves and sea stacks that made for a near perfect photo shoot.

Click on photos for best viewing.




















Tuesday, January 01, 2013

When galaxies collide

An interesting explanation of cosmic collisions and subsequent waves of star formation, from the Hubble Telescope team.

US Army photos

Best US Army Photos - Business Insider:

'via Blog this'

A gorgeous collection of 65 photos of the US Army in 2012.