In 1969, after yet another arrest, Flint native John
Sinclair was sentenced to 9.5 yrs in prison. The
egregious disproportionality of the sentence led to rallying cries of
FREE JOHN SINCLAIR!
Last December, I went to a pub in Ypsilanti, to see the guy play his
music. Outside, there were these free-newsletter dispensers.
I saw the juxtaposition, felt moved by the irony, and snapped
Magazine is cool. The most recent issue
(September 2006; not online yet) has a one-pager on a topic similar to
the FREE JOHN SINCLAIR theme. Only this time, it is not a
rabble-rouser that is confined, it is a $100 million dollar satellite.
Remember Al Gore’s notion of putting a satellite in orbit?
The idea was to have a satellite that beams a continues image
of the Earth, back to viewer on Earth.
The idea went to peer review at NASA. The scientists were not
terribly impressed, perhaps, but they thought the project would have
merit if there were a few more bells and whistles.
Specifically, they thought that the addition of
instrumentation to measure the albedo
(reflectance) of the earth would make it scientifically viable.
It would help validate climate change models. Also,
it could provide early warning about solar storms, which could improve
our ability to protect other satellites. NASA went ahead, and
built the thing.
Al Gore wanted it to be called Triana.
After the NASA folks were done with their recommendations, it
was to be known formally as Solar Radiation & Climate
Experiment … Deep
Space Climate Observatory. The NAS
deemed it to be a worthy project. The satellite was built.
But right now, the fully-constructed satellite is sitting in a
warehouse in Maryland.
Why? Apparently, because a Republican-controlled congress
won’t release funds to send it into space. Ukraine and France
have offered to send it aloft for free. NOAA is considering
funding it. They think it would be useful. But
rather than do something that would give a boost to Gore’s credibility,
our dear government is letting the thing sit in mothballs.
Personally, I think there is more to it than that. Part of
calls for casting doubt on initiatives they don’t like, such as the
effort to stem global warming, by saying that there is not enough
information to proceed. It would make sense for them to
follow that up, by impeding the acquisition of that information.
Furthermore, part of their political strategy is to control the agenda
in the news media. The launch of the satellite would be
newsworthy. It would be a news item that the Administration
did not initiate, and it would be something they could not control.
Even FOX news would feature it.
If these speculations are valid, then there are several political
reasons for the project to be put on hold, despite its scientific
Sinclair was released, after John Lennon and Yoko Ono led a
concert/rally, attended by 15,000 people.
I’m wondering if we could get Bono to
hold a FREE DSCOVR concert in someplace like Central Park, and get
DSCOVR out in orbit, where she belongs.
The Seed article was written by Mitchell Anderson,
and it contains a lot of detail that I’ve omitted. Read the
whole thing, if you can get your hands on it.