Friday, March 18, 2011

Supermoon, Why the Moon Looks So Big

When a full moon occurs when it is closest to the earth, it is called a:


 Photo Credit:

This Saturday, March 19th, the moon will officially be a "full moon" at 2:10PM EST. And, at about the same time, the moon will reach its closest distance to the earth, arriving at 3PM EST. Putting these two events together, this year's Supermoon will appear:
  • 14% larger than normal, and
  • 30% brighter than usual.
This rare event only happens once every 18 years or so. Since weather forecasts in the eastern U.S. are expected to be clear, we recommend everyone tries to take a break from their normal routines and enjoy the fantastic Supermoon.
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Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan Earthquake Spawns Devistating Tsunami

What a difference a day makes. Last night we in the United States went to bed thinking about basketball, baseball, politics, localized flooding and more.  But little did we think of the terror that the residents of Japan would experience due to the effects of an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and the devistating tsunami that followed.

When man is confronted by nature, nature always wins.

Below are two videos taken in Japan as the tsunami swallows the land. The first shows the tsunami slamming into the coast of northeastern Japan

The second show the raging images from the port city of Kamaishi.

In both instances, notice the power of the water. Cars, boats, and whole buildings are dislodged and carried away as if mere toothpicks in a bathtub.

Our thoughts and prayers to out to all those affected. We pray that the causalities are low, and that most of the damage affects physical items that can be replaced.

Friday, March 4, 2011

How Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Affects the Country

Protesting Scott WalkerImage by antrover via Flickr
For more than 2 weeks now, Madison Wisconsin has been the focus of heated union protests against Governor Scott Walker's proposal to severely reduce the collective bargaining rights of state workers, and to require the same to pay more towards their health care and retirement costs.

Most of the protesting has concentrated on the collective bargaining provision. It allows the employees to remain unionized, but takes away direct salary negotiation away from the unions.  The state will continue to award the state workers with inflation based increases, but everything above that must be approved by public referendum passed by the voting citizens of Wisconsin.

Well, considering the viewpoints of both the unions and the Governor, it is easy to understand why the stakes are so high.
  1. First, from the Governor's side, the State has a budget crisis. It cannot afford to continue to tax the taxpayers for funding state worker salary increases. This action is an attempt to save the State money. It is not denying workers future pay increases, but merely shifting the approval to the voting public.
  2. The Unions, on the other hand, cannot afford to lose its powerful control over the workers and the State. If it loses collective bargaining, several things will happen. First, the workers will be less willing to contribute union dues for services that cannot be provided. Next, the union will will obtain less income. This means that they will not be able to fund other causes that they support. But, worse, if they lose collective bargaining in Wisconsin, then other states may follow, and then they will begin so suffer budget shortfalls themselves.
  3. According to sources listed below, the Democratic Party will obtain less revenue from the unions. Since the workers get less benefits from the unions, they will pay less. This means that the unions will have less money  to contribute to the Democrats.
  4. The Democratic Party will have less influence over the elected politicians. Since the Democratic Party receives large union donations, they can influence legislators decisions. Without collective bargaining, the Party will have a harder time getting what they want.
  5. The legislators will have to make their own decisions. If the Democratic Party has less influence over their decisions, the legislators will have to work for the people themselves.
  6. From the state worker viewpoint, collective bargaining by the union has been important for them to receive future pay raises. If pay increases are placed in the hands of the voters, they will not be able to count on future income with certainty.
  7. The Wisconsin taxpayers have a lot at stake. Currently, they are puppets under the control of the legislature and unions. When these two want to increase worker salaries, the taxpayers have no alternative except to pay. If collective bargaining is removed, then the taxpayers gain more control of the state spending and ultimately their own tax obligations.
Clearly, the decision to remove the collective bargaining ability from the state workers in Wisconsin has national implications. Thus, its not surprising that others outside the State are arguing against its enactment. Consider Democrat Sherrod Brown, the senior US Senator from Ohio who argued for collective bargaining by indicating that Hitler didn't want unions.

Unfortunately, Mr. Brown was wrong about Hitler. Hitler created the German Labour Front, a union that nearly every citizen in Germany had to join in order to work. From this union, Hitler obtained sufficient income to fund his ambitious  plans for conquering the world. Mr. Brown's argument benefits his party and political affiliations. It does not benefit the residents of Wisconsin.

From the above, I understand that many of our political institutions feel threatened by the actions of Governor Walker. However, I believe that the Wisconsin proposal is a State issue, and should be resolved solely by the citizens of that state only. Our states, country and residents are suffering severe economic hardships. To resolve their financial woos, it is the obligation of our elected leaders to become responsible for our spending. In good times, most folks would not care. But, today, we applaud the brave actions of Governor Walker who is trying his best to do a good job.

You can learn more about this topic by reading the references below.

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