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Thursday 18 December 2014

Bolts (Lucretius: On the Nature of Things)


"#Lightning looks even more amazing from #space!!!!!" RT @OAPlanet
: image via Reg Saddler @zaibatsu, 13 December 2014

For if those who have correctly learned that gods
lead lives free from care still from time to time
wonder how everything can come about,
especially in those events they see
overhead in regions of the aether,
they are carried back to old religion

and accept harsh masters, who, they believe,
in their misery, can do everything,
being ignorant of what can and cannot be,
in short, by what law each thing possesses

limited power, a deep-set boundary stone.
And therefore men lose their way even more,
carried away by their blind reasoning.
If you do not spit such things from your mind,
drive far off thoughts unworthy of the gods,
which have no part in their serenity,

gods’ sacred power, which you have slighted,
will often hurt you -- not that one can harm
the supreme majesty of gods so that,
in its anger, it would resolve to seek
harsh punishment, but because you yourself
may well believe that those serene beings
in their calm peace roll out great waves of rage,
and when you approach temples of the gods
your heart will not be calm. You will lack strength
to contemplate with tranquil peace of mind  

those images borne from divine bodies 

into the minds of men as messengers
of their sacred forms. You can imagine
what kind of life would follow after that.

Titus Lucretius Caro (c.99 BCE-c.55 BCE): De Rerum Natura / On the Nature of Things: "lightning not divine punishment", excerpt from Book Six, translated by Ian Johnston, 2010

Lightning Stickman sought revenge! #lightning #storms #clouds @Georg_Grey @late_bourne #@sofanova_ag @EMFH3: image via Nick Phillips @NickPhi83445256, 4 December 2014
A Question of Public Safety
Cows on the loose

Cows on the loose. The cow that escaped from a meat packing business Friday afternoon tries to evade police in a residential neighborhood on Pocatello's north side. The animal was eventually shot and killed by officers. Two more cows escaped in Pocatello on Monday morning and as of noon were still on the loose: photo by Doug Lindley/Idaho State Journal, 15 December 2014

Slaughterhouse five: cows escape from Idaho meat plant: The first bovine broke out on Friday after jumping a six-foot fence, wandering the town of Pocatello before being shot by local police: Jessica Glenza, The Guardian, 17 December 2014

Five adult cows set for slaughter have escaped from a small meat processing plant in Idaho over the last week, according to the Idaho State Journal.

The first breakout happened on Friday, when a cow jumped a six-foot fence on the Anderson Custom Pack slaughterhouse property. The animal wandered the town of Pocatello before it was shot by local police.

Widespread media coverage of that escape led to a second breakout on Sunday when, farmers claim, someone intentionally released more bovines. Then, four cows broke loose from the plant after ranchers claim a gate was intentionally left open. Farmers at Anderson told the Idaho State Journal they have received “hate mail” from animal rights groups since coverage of the cow escape.

As of Wednesday morning, business co-owner Jesse Anderson had shot one of the cows that went missing on Sunday, and another was recaptured. Two remain on the loose, but local authorities say there have been no cow sightings.

A media relations specialist from the Pocatello police department, who answered the phone Wednesday but did not give her name, refused to comment on the incidents.

“We did what we had to do for the safety of the public, and unfortunately it has taken a very ugly turn for our department,” she said before hanging up. 

Deceased cow

Deceased cow. A cow was shot and killed Monday after escaping from the Anderson Custom Pack facility in Pocatello: photo by Doug Lindley/Idaho State Journal, 15 December 2014

Eerie #lightning strike captured in the Northern Territory, Australia via @Earth66com #DownUnder
: image via MORECAST Australia @MORECAST_Au, 17 December 2014

But Was It All Spelt Out By the Gods -- Destined to Arrive Anyhow, One Way or 'Tother -- That "Humane" Bolt from the Blue -- ?

Cash's captive bolt pistol: photo by geni, 2008

Meat processing and packing plant, Dodge City, Kansas: photo by Nyttend, 2008

A cow passes a flare-up of the Rim Fire near the Yosemite National Park border in Groveland, California, California on 24 August 2013. With the fire threatening resources used to provide water and electricity to San Francisco, on Friday California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. extended a state of emergency to cover the city and county of San Francisco: photo by Noah Berger/EPA via San Jose Mercury News, 25 August 2013

#Lightning on the #Tracks: image via Bubnugget @Bubnugget, 15 December 2014

So Are the Gods Doubling Down, or What?

 Lightning panorama: photo by Todd Martin, 4 April 2012

 Lightning strike, somewhere in Maine or Vermont, on the road from Montreal to Boston: photo by Flowizm, 22 June 2003

 Lightning strike: photo by Marcelino, 29 September 2011

 Lightning panorama: photo by Todd Martin, 4 April 2012

 Lightning strike: photo by adamfaulknergraphics, 21 February 2011
Endeavour at the Pad

 Space shuttle Endeavour sitting on Launch Pad 39A as a lightning storm passes prior to the rollback of the Rotating Service Structure, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida: photo by Bill Ingalls, 28 April 2011 (NASA)

San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge lightning strike: photo by Phil McGrew, 12 April 2012

File:Lightning flashes as the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) transits the Strait of Malacca.jpg

Lighting flashes as the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) transits the Strait of Malacca, underway on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th and U.S. 5th Fleet areas of responsibility: photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Colby K. Neal, 8 October 2010 (U.S. Navy)

File:303d Fighter Squadron - A-10 Thunderbolts.jpg

 Lightning strikes over 442nd Fighter Wing A-10 Thunderbolt's II during an early morning thunderstorm, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri: photo by Senior Airman Kenny Holston, 20 October 2009 (U.S. Air Force)

File:UNC - CFC - USFK - USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) (by).jpg

Lightning strikes behind the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) as she steams through the gulf of Thailand
: photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jon Husman, 9 April 2009 (U.S. Navy)

File:US Navy 040711-N-6616W-001 A Rolling Airframe Missile launcher overlooks the flight deck from the amphibious assault ship USS Saipan's 08 level as lightning announces an approaching storm during flight quarters.jpg

A Rolling Airframe Missile launcher overlooks the flight deck from the amphibious assault ship USS Saipan's 08 level as lightning announces an approaching storm during flight quarters: photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Steven J. Weber, 11 July 2004 (U.S. Navy)

File:US Navy 070502-N-7317W-001 Lightning srikes in the distance as USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) is in her homeport.jpg

Lightning strikes in the distance as USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) rests in her homeport, Norfolk, Virginia
: photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Matthew D. Williams (U.S. Navy)

File:Lightning in Arlington.jpg

Lightning over Pentagon City, Arlington, Virginia: photo by Postdlf, 23 July 2005

A large bolt of lightning strikes west of downtown Denver, with Qwest Tower in plain view: photo by Dag Peak, 8 June 2004

storm chaser Roger Hill of an amazing lightning storm

A lightning storm in Denver, Colorado. New research has found global warming could result in 50% more lightning strikes by the end of the century
: photo by Roger Hill/Barcroft USA via the Guardian, 13 November 2014

Lightning plays an important role in atmospheric chemistry and in the initiation of wildfires, but the impact of global warming on lightning rates is poorly constrained. Here we propose that the lightning flash rate is proportional to the convective available potential energy (CAPE) times the precipitation rate. Using observations, the product of CAPE and precipitation explains 77% of the variance in the time series of total cloud-to-ground lightning flashes over the contiguous United States (CONUS). Storms convert CAPE times precipitated water mass to discharged lightning energy with an efficiency of 1%. When this proxy is applied to 11 climate models, CONUS lightning strikes are predicted to increase 12 ± 5% per degree Celsius of global warming and about 50% over this century.

Projected increase inn lightning strikes in the United States due to global warming (Abstract): David M. Romps, Jacob T. Seeley, David Vollaro, John Molinari, in Science, 14 November 2014

New @UAlbany study predicts 50 percent increase in #lightning strikes during this century
: image via UAlbany News @AlbanyNews, 16 December 2014


Barry Taylor said...

Looks like - power-wise - the gods prevail. Humbling Lucretian photos - thanks, Tom.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

I may be running off at the mouth on this, ruminating as I usually do down in the lower forty of my often absent mind, but I haven’t heard of anybody being intentionally killed by a runaway cow –maybe unintentionally by one or even by a bolt of lightning from the gods, but that’s another story—though mass-media scuttlebutt has it there just might be a herd of bovines armed to the teeth with mad-cow disease heading our way; in that case perhaps it’s best we keep our distance, tend to our tender loins and let the beefy local gendarmes save the day by hacking up a few unruly ones.

TC said...

Well, we've been having some pretty intense storms... and we aren't the only ones, I reckon.

The photos are humbling indeed.

Was particularly struck by unfamiliar, disorienting reversal of expected perspective in top shot from space, giving us a chance to hitch a ride on the lightning bolt as it breaks through the clouds, and experiencing the fiery strike from the celestial POV.

Just the thing for the festive season at the cineplex by the Styx, a lightning bolt ride courtesy of Zeus.

Or possibly Poseidon, in fact... the FBI's still sorting it.

Or maybe Stickman the Luminous...

Can't think what might be going on down here on our little planet that might cause that famously disinterested pack of Olympian gods to take an interest, really -- you'd almost get the impression they're manipulating the elements to force us to address a massive karmic debt.

But Lucretius is pretty clear on this point. If anybody's manipulating anything, it's us. And what scares us to death in nature is... ourselves.

Those comical lilliputian Nimrods in Idaho probably didn't have much time for moral reflection, though. After all, in an unfolding emergency like that -- a cow walking down a street -- what's required is quick, decisive action.

Homo necans --- man the killer -- finds a local habitation and a name on the mean streets of Pocatello.

Were Americans ever to get over the idea they are history's chosen people and begin to look themselves in the eye, perhaps divine retribution in the form of the ensuing terrible cold blast of self recognition would be even more fearful than whatever it is everybody's scared of losing as a consequences of releasing -- just the thing for the festive season at the cineplex -- a fetid sack of dick and fart jokes disguised as a political comedy aimed at the world's easiest target...

(Oh right, almost forgot, it's their careers in the industry that are at stake. And of course that should concern all of us.)