Space Junk, Turtles, Cyber Attacks and Fat

TURTLE MIGRATION

Thousands of turtles live in Jamaica Bay on the south and east side of Kennedy Airport. And last week was mating season, and they just didn’t give a damn. One of them said there is this great sandy spot on the other side of Runway 4 South, and so off they all went, crossing the runway in a frenzy, which in turtle time, is about 20 miles an hour.

This was at 10 a.m. The authorities, seeing this through binoculars, immediately shut down the runway, and with it, about a dozen flights waiting to take off there. The planes remained on the runway idling for the next 35 minutes as men and women from various agencies—the Federal Aviation Agency, the Port Authority, the Federal Agricultural Department and the New York Wildlife Service ran out and helped the turtles to slide over the edge of the runway and down onto the sand for the big party. Then the flights resumed.

The turtles do this every year, or almost every year. Last year there was some other new hotspot they went to, but the year before that, the hotspot was Runway 4 again. There was no chatter from the control tower released to the public this time, but there was in 2009, and if you want to hear a nine-minute clip of it, including a pilot saying “sufferin’ succotash!” go to danshamptons.com. [expand]

CYBER ATTACKS

Julian Assange may be in jail in Sweden, but the cyber attacks continue around the world. Last week, cyberbandits attacked the websites of the State of Arizona and the City of Orlando, Florida.

Both sets of attacks seem to be by left-leaning hackers out to do damage to right-wing behavior.

In Arizona, the hackers broke into the State Police files in objection to police brutality against foreigners. From the files, they released all sorts of e-mails by police officers that appear to go well into the territory of bigotry and racial profiling.

The hackers call this attack “The Final Stage” in honor of the fact that this is the third of three attacks aimed at crippling the force.

In Orlando, a hacker group called “Anonymous” disabled all sorts of websites, including the Mayor’s re-election campaign office and the local Fraternal Order of Police. They also crashed MasterCard and the Church of Scientology.

Anonymous, in their postings, is objecting to the city’s handling of attempts to feed the homeless. The police, using a 2006 city law, have been arresting members of a group called Orlando Food Not Bombs, which sets up buffet tables of food in public parks and invites the hungry to eat there. You need a permit to feed the hungry in a public park, the police say, and so these people, the feeders, are taken away in handcuffs.

“Anonymous believes that people have the right to organize, the people have the right to give to the less fortunate and that people have the right to commit acts of kindness and compassion,” a press release from the group says.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Buddy Dyer said the law would continue to be enforced. “We must continue to focus on what our Orlando residents want and not the desires of others from outside the community,” she said, as reported in The New York Times.

Oddly, members of Orlando Food not Bombs came out against the attacks. One of the members told The Times that the attacks were a distraction from the real issue, which is that there are so many homeless in that city and city officials want to criminalize feeding them to sort of hide it all under the rug.

FIGHTING FAT – OR NOT

Lobbyists from big restaurant chains have been lobbying states for years to get them to stop passing laws that would fight the nationwide obesity problem. The lobbyists have been notably unsuccessful until now, but now in several states they have managed to pass riders to other bills that prevent towns, villages and counties from passing their own laws to try to limit fat.

The riders support the idea that there shouldn’t be this big hodgepodge of local laws reining in fat by local governments. It should all be state law, or federal law. At the present time, the lobbyists said, there are all sorts of different laws in different communities all different from one another, each one making it more difficult for the restaurant chains to know what to do or not do.

Southampton Village, for example, recently passed a law that makes it illegal for merchants to pack your purchases in plastic bags. You have to use paper bags. Paper bags are biodegradable. Plastic bags are not. With a new state law in place—and this sort of thing has not yet come to New York—that law would be declared unconstitutional.

In other fat news, a study of 20 years and thousands of participants has discovered that eating meat and potatoes makes you fat while eating salads and vegetables does not make you fat. I don’t know who came up with this, but whoever it is doesn’t know what its like to eat a Whopper, right guys?

SPACE CLOSE SHAVE

As I’m sure you know, there are Village laws, town laws, county laws, state laws and federal laws, but as of yet there are no space laws. There are more than 50,000 pieces of space junk orbiting the earth.

Last Tuesday, alarm bells went off inside the Space Station that orbits the earth that a good-sized piece of junk was heading its way at the usual 29,000 miles an hour. Ordinarily, since the people on the Space Station are always on the lookout for space junk, they find out about it more than two days in advance and are therefore able to fire the thrusters to nudge the Space Station out of the way.

This time, for some reason, the junk wasn’t noticed until 15 hours before it would reach the station. It was expected to miss the station by less than four football fields, but it could waver off in one direction or another, who knew? Estimates radioed up to the station said they thought the chances were about 1 in 360. And that was close enough to set off the alarm and send everybody scurrying to the “lifeboats.” These are small capsules attached to the sides of the space station, made by the Russians, capable of flying those inside safely back to earth.

When everybody was buckled up, the capsules were unlatched from the station, so the capsule was free to go but not yet ordered to go. They were all one-button push away from leaving.

The junk missed. This is only the second time the astronauts had to go to the lifeboats. Overall, during the expected lifetime of the space station, there is a one in six chance it might be hit, with fatal consequences.

That is if nobody new throws out any more junk. [/expand]

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