Desierto norte de Chile

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Haircut, before & after

Two weeks ago I went into town (Bridgetown) to get my haircut. The guy left a few (dozen) hairs too long, but after 14 days, I think it has turned out okay. Rub in some gel, go for the "messy" look, and no one can tell that sections are twice as long as the rest.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Open letter* to Senators

Dear United States Senators:

Please vote YES on Senate Bill 1033, "A bill to improve border security and immigration." Our nation was built on the backs of immigrants, and Americans well know the value of our diverse neighbors. This legislation is important to our future. Thanks.

-Brad Barrett

"When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself." -- God (Leviticus 19:33-34)

*this letter was specifically addressed to NC Senators Burr and Dole and transmitted via electronic communication on 27 Mar 2006.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Tyrannis Liberatores

Tyranny of the liberators

With the passing of the third anniversary of the US-led war for Iraqi freedom, I have decided "enough is enough". The 5-page online piece in today's NY Times detailing the long litany of even more abuses of Iraqis at the hands of Americans is sickening. A short summary of some of the tortures at Camp Nama:

Using prisoners as paintball targets: "No Blood, No Foul: The High Five Paintball Club".

An 18-year-old man suspected of selling cars to members of the Zarqawi terrorist network was seized with his entire family at their home in Baghdad. Task force soldiers beat him repeatedly with a rifle butt and punched him in the head and kidneys.

Some detainees were kept in what was known as Motel 6, a group of crudely built plywood shacks that reeked of urine and excrement. The shacks were cramped, forcing many prisoners to squat or crouch.

Jailers often blared rap music or rock 'n' roll at deafening decibels over a loudspeaker to unnerve their subjects.

Some detainees were stripped naked and had cold water thrown on them to cause the sensation of drowning.

Four Special Operations soldiers from the task force were punished for "excessive use of force" and administering electric shocks to detainees with stun guns.

Couple this with the series of photos from Abu Ghraib and the picture of US handling of Iraqi prisoners is downright saddening. The worst part? I suppose that most of my countrymen just don't care. "Iraqis are terrorists." "These people are prisoners, hell-bent on attacking us, why not torture them, they might provide information that will prevent us from dying." etc etc.

I have just 2 thoughts in response: 1- torture is never justifiable, in any situation, ever. 2- is this the way to behave as a freedom-bringing force? The US has lost all credibility in my mind as a force of liberty. I would rather face whatever consequence may come than resort to such humiliating and demeaning behavior, all done in the name of "information gathering". (Yea right, and Hitler should win a prize in medicine for his "experiments" in the 30s & 40s).

The sad reality is that all people - Germans, Iraqis, Afghans, Americans, Brits, Bajans, Romans, Egyptians, Babylonians, Japanese, cannibal tribes, etc. etc. - are innately sinful, possessing desires that we see expressed when people and groups are given such power over their fellow man.

I cannot trust my government and its military representative. Therefore, after wavering for many years and taking a situational approach, I have decided to finally come out against war in all its horrible forms. The quotes below, especially the last two, reveal the true heart of God which I believe is inside of me. What would my life look like if I treated my enemies such?

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." - Jesus.

"It is mine to avenge; I will repay." - God

"If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you." - Proverb

Monday, March 13, 2006

Life of a programmer

Today I spent a cumulative 6 hours programming. And I am tired. So I've decided to skip today's jog, post a short blog entry, and perhaps watch a movie or just go to bed early. I am happy to now possess a regional radar reflectivity archive from the 12 March 2006 major mid-west tornado outbreak. I do not have a way (yet) to animate the images (they are in PNG format, which I gather is still relatively new), but I can scroll through them myself via the windows picture viewer. Amazing set of imagery -- you can easily see the *triple* initiation off the dryline in eastern Kansas, watch the storms organize on the micro- and meso-scales into a line of supercells, and follow them as they march east across Missouri into Illinois. I managed to save the 00Z SGF and OUN soundings as proximity soundings to the event. Later I'd like to go back and grab the upper-air maps valid at 00Z (and if I can find it, the 24-h and 12-h previous ETA and GFS forecasts). So, after 6 hrs of programming, I now possess 289 .png images of regional wsr-88d reflectivity (centered on EAX).

In other news:

- My MM5 simulation over the weekend evidenly made it to 43200 sec (720 mins, or 12 hrs). What I dont understand is the stupid errors I get from the Boomer queue, nor do I actually see any detail in the output (granted, Ivan was still in a formative stage, and he was not in my model domain during this 12-hr run). I'm interested to continue the run, and perhaps also output cloud-water or something else useful. The sfc temp and all upper-level plots are relatively meaningless since the gradients of said properties in the tropics are, well, relatively low. I did see that a pretty stout upper anti-cyclone existed ~ 500km to the west of Ivan. I wonder if that is real or a fictious model error of some kind. Stay tuned.

- I've been offered a "visiting lectureship" at the University of Graz in Austria for the winter 2006 academic term. Sweet! :) Anyone been to Graz before, or want to share your insights? I see they have a rather neat clock tower in the middle of town. And there's also a flight from Graz to Antalya, Turkey, that runs at least once a week.

- Only 11 more weeks on Barbados. Wow. Time flies when you're having fun ;)

- Tomorrow I will venture into town and get my hair cut (read: get my head shaved almost clean). Meant to do it today but got distracted by programming (you know how it is, you get started on something and really want to finish it).

- More details on the programming: I started out in Fortran 77, being my most comfortable language, but the system call routine sucks in F77. So I switched to Python, a less-friendly language but more robust than Fortran. After hunting around on the web for insights on how to run a loop in Python (you use a "For" statement), I got things to work. As posted above, I am the proud possessor of 289 radar images from one of the more (the most?) prolific tornado outbreaks in my lifetime.

- I'm a little excited about the NCAA tournament, mainly b/c I can watch it on TV here via the CBS affiliate from Erie, PA. Go Tar Heels, and Go Sooners! :) My wish-pick? UNC. My realistic pick? Duke

Enjoy the week. And sorry for the 8-day delay between posts. I've been kinda busy (applying for the job to Austria, coding, running the MM5, etc.)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Geography anyone?

To follow the blogging craze, I, too, took an online survey where I was asked lots of leading questions about my preferences, from weather to monthly mortgate payment. While I felt in control (didn't want to put "republican" b/c that would exclude the NE, NW, and Calif.), it was still neat to see the results. Interesting that I have visited ten of my top 12 cities (only El Paso & Carlisle PA excluded), but only lived in one (OKC). From, here are the goods:

1- Cincinnati
2- Knoxville
3- Norfolk
4- Seattle
5- Carlisle
6- El Paso
7- OKC
8- Charlotte
9- Louisville
10- Nashville
15- Tuscon
18- Denver
21- Charleston
24- Boise

My preferences from the above list? Denver, Seattle, Charlotte, Boise, in that order. Sorry if your hometown was shafted, no love lost between us.

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