January 17th, 2009


Mars Methane Means Activity

Recent discoveries of methane on Mars suggest either biological or geological activity. Something is going on up there. Coooooool...

Martian Methane Reveals the Red Planet Is Not a Dead Planet
New research reveals there is hope for Mars yet. The first definitive detection of methane in the atmosphere of Mars indicates the planet is still alive, in either a biologic or geologic sense, according to a team of NASA and university scientists.

"Methane is quickly destroyed in the Martian atmosphere in a variety of ways, so our discovery of substantial plumes of methane in the northern hemisphere of Mars in 2003 indicates some ongoing process is releasing the gas," said Dr. Michael Mumma of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "At northern mid-summer, methane is released at a rate comparable to that of the massive hydrocarbon seep at Coal Oil Point in Santa Barbara, Calif."

Which do you think it is -- life, rocks, or both?

When a Right Isn't a Right

I'm seeing more and more places where people are forced to sign away their right to sue if they are aggrieved. It's especially common in places where people desperately need a service, or have no choice. This infuriates me; a right is supposed to be something that can't be taken away. If it can be taken away, it's just a privilege. But the Constitution guarantees citizens the RIGHT "to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Freddie, Fannie Force Borrowers to Waive Legal Rights
Mary Kane, The Washington Independent: "When the government announced in November that it would use mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to streamline loan modifications for possibly hundreds of thousands of borrowers, officials billed the idea as a fast-track program to fight foreclosures. What no one mentioned is that homeowners would have to sign away their rights to sue, if they wanted to get those loans modified. The waiver of legal rights is buried among a long list of requirements in loan modification agreements for delinquent borrowers seeking more affordable loans under the new loan program, which began on Dec. 15."

In this particular incident, lenders who have just screwed people to the wall and gutted the economy are now demanding that borrowers waive their right to sue if something else goes wrong. That seems like a good way to guarantee that something will go terribly, horribly wrong -- and probably will end with more people homeless and the lenders demanding more money from the taxpayers.

I wish them much jingle mail.
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Chelsea Green

I went over to the website of a favorite publisher today, and realized that they've revamped it since the last time I was there. The front end of Chelsea Green is now a heavy-duty, fascinating blog packed with news, discussions, a list of author events, excerpts of recent posts, and all kinds of goodies. For environmental, community, and sustainable development issues, this is a good resource. Click the "our books" tab to reach the book catalog, or "About Us" for company information, submissions, contact info, etc. This site is now much more sticky than the usual plain catalog. Somebody give the webmaster a donut.