Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Posts Tagged ‘research’

Close To Home: An Alabama Native was First to Hike the Entire US/Mexico Border

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, March 9, 2019

“Border Walk,” by Mark J. Hainds, an Andalusia, Alabama native, documents his journey as the first individual to have trekked along the 1954 miles of the US/Mexico border.

While the Washington Post is getting clicks on their news feature story headlined “Is the border actually lawless? This father and son are hiking all 1,954 miles to find out.,” it was actually Mark J. Hainds, an Andalusia, Alabama resident, who was the first person to have ever hiked the length of the US/Mexico border.

In November 2014, the Research Associate and Research Coordinator with Auburn University and the Longleaf Alliance, resigned his 20-year-plus positions, and took temporary leave of his family, to hike the 1,954 miles of the US/Mexico border.

PBS documented his journey in a full-length feature film named “La Frontera,” which can be viewed for free at the link below:

https://southdocs.org/project/lafrontera/

His book “Border Walk” which describes his journey, was published in March 2018, and in April he authored an article which was published on Daily Kos website (“I Walked the Entire US-Mexico Border”) about his journey which also referenced his book.

He leads that story by writing, “On November 24th, 2017, I became the first person in history to have walked the length of the US-Mexico border.”

His feat was reported by:

• The Houston Chronicle in October 2016 (“A walk along the border: Man traverses Texas-Mexico line for documentary“)

Vice in October 2016 (“We Talked to the Man Walking the Length of the US-Mexico Border“)

• The Associated Press April 2017 (“Day 14: Fellow border travelers meet, in the middle of nowhere“)

• The San Diego Tribune July 2017 (“For 700 miles, hiker kept the border in view, and on his mind“)

Read the rest of this entry »

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Trump: Who Voted For, And Supports Him?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, April 21, 2018

Formerly titled, “With Trump WYSIWYG: Who Voted For, And Supports Him?”

African leopard, Panthera pardus pardus, near Lake Panic, Kruger National Park, South Africa, 31 December 2013
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0), Derek Keats, https://www.flickr.com/photos/93242958@N00/19448654130M

One either loves, or loathes, Donald Trump.

One does not simply “tolerate” him.

He is a divisive political figure.

He is starkly contrasted to former POTUS George W. Bush, who in a May 6, 1999 interview with David Horowitz of Salon magazine, famously said, “I’m a uniter, not a divider.”

Trump is a divider, not a uniter.

For Trump, e pluribus unum means nothing, even though we are the United States of America.

And for those who voted for him thinking he’d change, that he was merely spouting hollow campaign rhetoric, they might as well have asked a leopard to change it’s spots.

With Trump, WYSIWYG.

Specifically, I mean to refer to him in his executive Presidential capacity.

And yet, strangely enough, he has coalesced support from diverse, divergent sub-groups within, and without the GOP. The importance of that feat cannot, and should not be underestimated, glossed over, or minimized, because understanding it is key to political success, especially for Read the rest of this entry »

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Oops… there goes the “Good Guy With A Gun” theory. #2A

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, April 14, 2018

In a direct blow to the firearm radicals (aka “gun nuts”) crowd’s assertions, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has shown that, contrary to what the tax-free National Rifle Association has publicly claimed, “of over 14,000 incidents in which the victim was present, 127 (0.9%) involved a SDGU.” (Self Defense Gun Use)

In other words,

“a good guy with a gun”

does NOT

lower nor reduce criminal activity.

What is the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)?

The BJS writes this about the NCVS:
“The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is the nation’s primary source of information on criminal victimization. Each year, data are obtained from a nationally representative sample of about 135,000 households, composed of nearly 225,000 persons, on the Read the rest of this entry »

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God Is Mysterious, Naturally

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Today is the memorial of Albert Magnus, known as Albert the Great, Bishop, Doctor of the Church.

Albert was known for his vast knowledge in all areas of learning. He was Saint Thomas Aquinas’ tutor, a man skilled in all the sciences of his age. Albert did not fear science; for him there was no contradiction between what he learned about the natural world through scientific observation and what he believed as a person of faith. People of mature faith have nothing to Read the rest of this entry »

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Keep Your Horse And Your Heart Healthy: A How To Guide

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, July 26, 2017

In the late-1970s, a pioneering medication was discovered in Japan which was made from a single microorganism.

Isolated at the Kitasato Intitute, Tokyo, Japan, it came from a single Japanese soil sample, and has had an immeasurably beneficial impact in improving the lives and welfare of billions of people worldwide. And, despite continued research since, it has only been found in Japan.

While it was originally introduced as a veterinary medication and found to kill a phenomenally wide range of internal and external parasites in livestock and companion animals, it was quickly discovered to be ideal in combating two of the world’s most devastating and disfiguring diseases which have plagued the world’s poor throughout tropical regions for centuries. It’s now being used free-of-charge as the exclusive tool in campaigns to eliminate both diseases globally, and has also been used to successfully overcome several other human diseases, with new uses for it continually being found.

Few medications can seriously lay claim to the title of ‘Wonder Drug’, and penicillin and aspirin are two that have perhaps had the greatest beneficial effect on the health and well-being of Humankind. But this medication can also be considered alongside those worthy contenders, based on its versatility, safety and the beneficial impact that it has had, and continues to have, worldwide — especially on hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people.

The medication treats Read the rest of this entry »

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In Response to John Goodwin’s FaceBook Post

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, December 5, 2016

A man named John Goodwin made a public post on FaceBook, which also included a link to an OpEd published in the Washington Post on November 9, 2016, which was written by Charles Camosy (PhD, University of Notre Dame), and entitled “Trump won because college-educated Americans are out of touch.” Dr. Camosy is an Associate Professor of Theological and Social Ethics at Fordham University, and the author of a book entitled “Beyond the Abortion Wars: A Way Forward for A New Generation.”

Mr. Goodwin’s FaceBook profile is sufficiently ambiguous of himself, though in his public post which is time & date-stamped 9:45AM, November 10, 2016, and ostensibly geolocated from Washington, D.C., he wrote of himself that, “I haven’t posted about the election mostly because 1) I do this for a living and most of you don’t,” which would lead one to suppose that at some level, he works in or with public policy, or more likely, with politicians.

I do not.

However, suffice it to say, that for many, many, many years, I have remained immensely interested in public policy, though I do not now, nor have I ever made my living from it, or influencing, or attempting to influence others in elected office.

In other words, I have taken the high road.

Mr. Goodwin’s public post to FaceBook is linked herein, as is the article upon which he expounded.

https://www.facebook.com/goody37/posts/10154328123133884

In order to fully understand the matter of discussion herein, I encourage the reader to fully read this item following herein, as well as Mr. Goodwin’s post, and the OpEd upon which he opined

I have responded to Mr. Goodwin’s post as follows:
His words appear italicized, and in “quotation marks.”
My commentary follows immediately after.

“…not everyone lives in big cities.”
• That is correct. The United States Census Bureau says that 80.7% of American reside in urban areas. In fact, they report that “the population density in cities is more than 46 times higher than the territory outside of cities.” So that leaves a whopping 19.3% in rural areas.

“I didn’t grow up with money.”
• Money had been invented by the time I was born. But seriously, someone votes for Donald Trump as if the wealthy are advocates for the impoverished or even the average American? C’mon. Mr. Born-With-A-Silver-Spoon-In-His-Mouth? Really?

“…not everyone went to elite colleges.”
• According to the United States Census Bureau, “in 2015, almost 9 out of 10 adults (88 percent) had at least a high school diploma or GED, while nearly 1 in 3 adults (33 percent) held a bachelor’s or higher degree.” I’m in the 33%. So I’m an elite. Thanks!

“You think they (people who eat at Read the rest of this entry »

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How TRUE is “largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command”? You’d be surprised… or, maybe not.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, November 3, 2016

Remember how ANGRY some folks got when Michael Weisskopf (b.1946) of the Washington Post wrote on February 1, 1993 (link to original article with the WaPo’s editorial addendum) that the simple-minded evangelical groupies of Jerry Falwell (who himself died in 2007), Pat Robertson (b.1930), et al, that:
The gospel lobby evolved with the explosion of satellite and cable television, hitting its national political peak in the presidential election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

“Unlike other powerful interests, it does not lavish campaign funds on candidates for Congress nor does it entertain them. The strength of fundamentalist leaders lies in their flocks. Corporations pay public relations firms millions of dollars to contrive the kind of grass-roots response that Falwell or Pat Robertson can galvanize in a televised sermon. Their followers are largely poor, uneducated and easy to command.

“”The thing that makes them powerful is they’re mobilizable,” said Seymour Martin Lipset (d.2006), professor of public policy at George Mason University. “You can activate them to vote, and that’s particularly important in congressional primaries where the turnout is usually low.”

“Some studies put the number of evangelical Americans as high as 40 million, with the vast majority considered politically conservative.”

[ed. note: The excerpt, which has frequently been distilled to “largely poor, uneducated and easy to command,” is provided here in full proper context with leading and following sentences, not merely excerpted, in order to thoroughly show proper context.]

It’s true.

Folks don’t get mad because of falsehoods.

They get mad because of truth.

It’s true.

According to the United States Census Bureau (USCB), in 2015 (22 years AFTER that was written), 32.5% of the American public aged 25, or older, have a Bachelor’s Degree (Table 1.), which is CLEARLY a minority. Thus, we see automatically the “largely” part of “uneducated.”

The USCB has also performed research on income, which is similarly delineated and categorized by education. For the year 2011 (18 years AFTER the remarks were made), and those aged 25+ with at least a Bachelor’s Degree, the average income was Read the rest of this entry »

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Your Tax Dollars At Work: Taxpayers Subsidize CEO Pay, Here’s How #BonusLoophole

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, September 3, 2016

Executive Excess 2016: The Wall Street CEO Bonus Loophole

This 23rd annual report reveals how taxpayers are subsidizing financial crisis windfalls.

By Sarah Anderson and Sam Pizzigati, August 31, 2016

CashingInOnTheCrisis-Graphic-1-1This report is the first to calculate how much taxpayers have been subsidizing executive bonuses at the nation’s largest banks.

The study focuses on a 1993 Clinton administration reform that was intended to rein in runaway CEO pay by capping the tax deductibility of executive compensation at $1 million. But the new rule included a huge loophole for stock options and other “performance” pay. As a result, the more corporations hand out in executive bonuses, the lower their tax bill. This perverse incentive for excessive compensation has been a major factor in the explosion of CEO pay.

The financial bailout program closed this loophole for recipients, but only until Read the rest of this entry »

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Meteorology, Mama & Baby -or- How I Was Befriended By Luck

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, August 10, 2015

It was Easter Sunday, 2010, and unknown to me, dumb luck had befriended me.

Pure dumb luck.

Even scientists believe in it.

In 1996, Duncan C. Blanchard, a meteorological researcher then affiliated with the State University of New York at Albany, authored a scientific paper entitled Serendipity, Scientific Discovery, and Project Cirrus” published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society in which he cited Project Cirrus (1947-52), a period and project of research from which “many serendipitous discoveries and inventions were made, opening up areas of research still being pursued today.”

Blanchard’s work was cited a decade later in 2006 by David M. Schultz, who was then affiliated with the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, and the NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma in a research paper entitled The Mysteries of Mammatus Clouds: Observations and Formation Mechanisms. In it he wrote that what little we know about mammatus clouds was, because of their nature, “obtained largely through serendipitous opportunities.”

In other words, what little we know about the clouds (so named after human breasts because of their appearance), has been obtained by pure dumb luck – although, being prepared, and being in the right place at the right time does account for something.

In conversation recently with a dear, and longtime friend, I shared about Read the rest of this entry »

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Study: Cannabis Legalization Does Not Increase Underage Use

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Consumption Of Marijuana With Respect To The Passage Of Respective State Medical Marijuana Laws

The Lancet Psychiatry – Jul 20, 2015

    The Passage Of Medical Marijuana Laws Could Improvise Medical Usage Of Marijuana, With Due Investigation

 

Background

 Adolescent use of marijuana is associated with adverse later effects, so the identification of factors underlying adolescent use is of substantial public health importance. The relationship between US state laws that permit marijuana for medical purposes and adolescent marijuana use has been controversial. Such laws could convey a message about marijuana acceptability that increases its use soon after passage, even if implementation is delayed or the law narrowly restricts its use. We used 24 years of national data from the USA to examine the relationship between state medical marijuana laws and adolescent use of marijuana.

Methods

Using a multistage, random-sampling design with Read the rest of this entry »

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Which are the BEST & WORST States for Nursing Practice?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The nursing industry – like most segments of the economy – is in a state of significant transition under the weight of major overarching socioeconomic dynamics, from the aging U.S. population and the Affordable Care Act to the student loan crisis and concerns about the future of key entitlement programs. It’s therefore understandable if recent nursing school grads aren’t sure where to turn once they receive their diploma.

That concern is not unique among recent graduates, regardless of industry, but both the magnitude of the issue – the nursing industry is expected to grow far faster than the average occupation through 2022 – and the various day-to-day demands placed on nursing professionals – from overstaffing and mandatory overtime to unionization and allegations of systematic disrespect – are indeed profession-specific. With that in mind, WalletHub decided to take stock of the nursing industry in order to help nurses, particularly the newly minted of the bunch, lay down roots in areas that are conducive to both personal and professional success.

We compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of 15 key metrics that collectively speak to the job opportunities that exist for nurses in each market, how much competition there is for each position, differences in the workplace environment, and projections for the future. You can check out our findings as well as Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama Common Core Math

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, May 29, 2014

According to Dr. Tommy Bice, Alabama State Superintendent of Education, high schools in the state have achieved an 80% graduation rate. While that sounds impressive, there is an underlying problem, which is this:

How do we know that the children being graduated are competent?

Competency is exemplified as being able to do something successfully. So if merely graduating high school was sufficient demonstration of competence, everyone with a high school diploma would be competent. But sadly, we know that is NOT the case. For example, one need only look to private high schools to so illustrate. Very few private high schools have any such problems. And, it is not to say that all public schools suffer problems. And yet, it is evidence as well that many courses taught in 1960, or even 1860 at the “high school” level are more advanced than those taught today.

For example, consider the following courses of study were required for a diploma of graduation from Middletown City High School, Connecticut in 1848: Read the rest of this entry »

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Butter really IS better!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How Food Marketers Made Butter the Enemy

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 3:00 AM PDT

James McWilliams—a historian who has made a name for himself in prestigious publications like the New York Times and The Atlantic for his contrarian defenses of the food industry—is back at it. In an item published last week in the excellent Pacific Standard, McWilliams uses the controversy over a recent study of saturated fat as a club with which to pummel food industry critics like the Times‘ Mark Bittman.

Here’s what happened: A group including Harvard and Cambridge researchers analyzed 72 studies and concluded that there’s no clear evidence that ditching saturated fat (the kind found mainly in butter, eggs, and meat) for the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated kind (found in fish and a variety of vegetable oils) delivers health benefits.

Bittman responded to the study’s release with Read the rest of this entry »

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Global Educational Attainment, 1950-2010

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, August 4, 2013

Educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010

Robert Barro, Jong-Wha Lee, 18 May 2010

Empirical investigations of the role of human capital require accurate measures across countries and over time. This column describes a new dataset on educational attainment for 146 countries at 5-year intervals from 1950 to 2010. The new data, freely available online, use more information and better methodology than existing datasets. Among the many new results is that the rate of return to an additional year of schooling on output is quite high – ranging from 5% to 12%.

It is widely accepted that human capital, particularly attained through education, is crucial to economic progress. An increase in the number of well-educated people implies a higher level of labour productivity and a greater ability to absorb advanced technology from developed countries (Acemoglu 2009). Empirical investigations of the role of human capital require accurate and internationally-comparable measures of human capital across countries and over time.

Our earlier studies (1993, 1996, and 2001) constructed measures of educational attainment of the adult population for a broad group of countries. This column introduces a new data set (available at barrolee.com) providing improved estimates for 146 countries at 5-year intervals from 1950 to 2010. The data are Read the rest of this entry »

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How out of touch with reality is the GOP?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, March 23, 2013

The GOP recently acknowledged that, among other aspects of their party’s alienation from the American mainstream, they need to modify and change not merely their image, but their appeal to Hispanics, which have largely voted for Democratic candidates.

The irony of their acknowledgment is that they want to do the very thing they’ve demonstrated why and how they’ve alienated themselves from the American mainstream… hire a Mexican to do their work.

As reported in VOXXI, by Grace Flores-Hughes on March 19, 2013, “The Republican National Committee plans to hire political directors from the Hispanic, Asian, African American communities as well as from women’s groups.”
Read her story: “The ambitious coming out of the Republican Party”

The numbers prove it: The GOP is estranged from America

By Andrew Kohut, Published: March 22

Andrew Kohut is the founding director and former president of the Pew Research Center. He served as president of the Gallup Organization from 1979 to 1989.

In my decades of polling, I recall only one moment when a party had been driven as far from the center as the Republican Party has been today.

The outsize influence of hard-line elements in the party base is doing to the GOP what supporters of Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama is USA’s 2d most religious state

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, February 18, 2013

Alabama also ranks up there in poverty, divorce, sexually transmitted diseases, lack of a high school education, spousal abuse, and…

Thank God for Mississippi, eh?

Gallup: Alabama 2nd most religious state in America

By George Talbot | gtalbot@al.com
on February 17, 2013 at 10:51 AM, updated February 17, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Alabama ranked as the nation’s second most religious state in 2012, behind Mississippi and tied with Utah, according to a new survey by Gallup.

The Washington, D.C.-based polling firm found that 56 percent of Alabama residents identified themselves as “very religious” – based on saying religion is an important part of their daily life and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week.

Alabama trailed only Mississippi, its Deep South neighbor, where Read the rest of this entry »

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Research: Waiting to have sex strengthens relationship

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, December 31, 2012

It’s not as if we’ve not heard this before. Our grandmothers, parents and others have known this for years. And, with varying degrees of success, some Christian fundamentalists have preached a gospel of delayed sexual gratification, albeit using a basis of fear – as in asserting that extramarital sexual activity before marriage is a sin against the Almighty, oneself and one’s partner. Whether or not that is the case is not the point in this research. And then, there are those who tacitly encourage all forms of sexual gratification, by asserting that to withhold oneself from sexual pleasure is an emotionally or psychologically damaging activity.

Couples who wait to have sex last longer in their relationships than those who jump straight into bed together

By James Nye

PUBLISHED: 14:02 EST, 23 December 2012 | UPDATED: 14:02 EST, 23 December 2012

New couples who jump into bed together on the first date do not last as long in relationships as those who wait a new study has revealed.

Using a sample of almost 11,000 unmarried people, Brigham Young University discovered a direct correlation between the length and strength of a partnership and the amount of time they took to have first have sex.

The study showed that those who waited to initiate sexual intimacy were found to have longer and more positive outcomes in their relationships while those who couldn’t help themselves reported that their dalliances struggled to last more than two years.

Couples who wait to get into bed together experience longer lasting relationships than those who do not a new study has foundCouples who wait to get into bed together experience longer lasting relationships than those who do not a new study has found

‘Results suggested that waiting to initiate sexual intimacy in unmarried relationships was generally associated with positive outcomes,’ said the report authored published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

‘This effect was strongly moderated by relationship length, with individuals who reported early sexual initiation reporting increasingly lower outcomes in relationships of longer than two years.’

The study examined four sexual-timing patterns: Having sex Read the rest of this entry »

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Research: WalMart’s Low Wages Burden Taxpayers

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, November 23, 2012

The high cost of low living…

“Walmart’s employees receive $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store.
They are also the top recipients of Medicaid in numerous states.
Why does this occur?
Walmart fails to provide a livable wage and decent healthcare benefits, costing U.S. taxpayers an annual average of $1.02 billion in healthcare costs.

This direct public subsidy is being given to offset the failures of an international corporate giant who shouldn’t be shifting part of its labor costs onto the American taxpayers.”

You’re the life of the party, everybody’s host
Still you need somewhere you can hide
All your good time friends
And your farewell to has-beens
Lord knows, just along for the ride

You think you’re a survivor
But boy, you better think twice
No one rides for nothin’
So, step up and pay the price

Dedicated to the GOP & other radical TEApublicans who worship the “almighty” dollar, tax cuts for the über wealthy, and their multinational corporate prophets.


Hidden Taxpayer Costs

Disclosures of Employers Whose Workers and Their Dependents are Using State Health Insurance Programs

Updated January 18, 2012

Since the mid-20th Century, most Americans have obtained health insurance through workplace-based coverage. In recent years there has been a decline in such coverage caused by a rise in the number of jobs that do not provide coverage at all and growth in the number of workers who decline coverage because it is too expensive.

Faced with the unavailability or unaffordability of health coverage on the job, growing numbers of lower-income workers are turning to taxpayer-funded healthcare programs such as Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

This trend is putting an added burden on programs that are already under stress because of fiscal constraints caused by medical inflation and federal cutbacks. Many states are curtailing benefits and tightening eligibility requirements.

It also raises the issue of whether states are being put in a position of subsidizing the cost-cutting measures of private sector employers.

Across the country, policymakers and others concerned about the healthcare system are pressing for disclosure of information on those employers whose workers (and their dependents) end up in taxpayer-funded programs.

The following is a summary of the employer disclosure that has come to light so far. It includes two cases (Massachusetts and Missouri) in which the information was produced as a result of legislation. The other cases involved requests by legislators or reporters. The latter situations have sometimes resulted in data that are incomplete or imprecise, which suggests that only legislatively mandated, systematic disclosure will tell the whole story.

This compilation was originally produced by Good Jobs First as part of its preparation of testimony given before the Maryland legislature on an employer disclosure bill. A version of that testimony can be found here [1].

Alabama
In April 2005 the Mobile Register published an article citing data from the Alabama Medicaid Agency on companies in the state with employees whose children are participating in Medicaid. The newspaper obtained a list from the agency of 63 companies whose employees had 100 or more children in the program as of mid-March 2005. At the top of the list was Wal-Mart, whose employees had 4,700 children in the program. Following it were McDonald’s (1,931), Hardee’s (884) and Burger King (861). The data were similar to information obtained from the same agency by the Montgomery Advertiser two months earlier.

Sources: Sean Reilly, “Medicaid Providing Health Care for Kids of Working Families,” Mobile Register, April 17, 2005 and John Davis and Jannell McGrew, “Health Plans Not Family Friendly,” Montgomery Advertiser, February 22, 2005, p.B6.

Arizona
In July 2005 the state Department of Economic Security issued data on the largest private employers with workers receiving taxpayer-financed medical insurance through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. At the top of the list was Wal-Mart, with about 2,700 workers–or 9.6 percent of its Arizona workforce–participating in the program. It was followed by Read the rest of this entry »

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Parachutist to Set Record with Jump from Edge of Outer Space

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, October 8, 2012

The previous record of 19 miles was set in 1960 by Colonel Joe Kittinger, United States Air Force (ret.), who held the altitude and speed records since then, when he jumped from a balloon during a research project. He was not labeled a “daredevil” as this man has been.

October 8, 2012

Daredevil Sets Sight on a 22-Mile Fall

By
Record Setting height parachute jump

Felix Baumgartner prepared to jump during the first manned test flight over Roswell, N.M., on Monday. (Jay Nemeth/Red Bull, via Associated Press)

ROSWELL, N.M. — Whatever the leap means for mankind, it should definitely be one giant step for a man.

Felix Baumgartner, a professional daredevil, plans to step off a balloon-borne capsule 22 miles above Earth on Tuesday morning and plummet for five and a half minutes until opening his parachute a mile above the New Mexico desert. If all goes as planned, he will do a series of barrel rolls in the near-vacuum of the stratosphere and then plunge headfirst at more than 700 miles per hour, becoming the first sky diver to break the sound barrier.

Mr. Baumgartner, 43, a former Austrian paratrooper who became known as Fearless Felix by leaping off buildings, landmarks and once into a 600-foot cave, said that this was his toughest challenge, because of the complexity involved and because of an unexpected fear he had to overcome: claustrophobia. During five years of training, he started suffering panic attacks when he had to spend hours locked inside the stiff pressurized suit and helmet necessary for survival at the edge of space.

But he persevered with the help of psychological conditioning and a mentor, Joe Kittinger, a retired Air Force colonel who has held the altitude and speed records since 1960, when he jumped 19 miles from a balloon during a research project (after nearly dying in a practice jump). Mr. Kittinger, now 84, will be the only voice on the radio guiding Mr. Baumgartner during the two-hour ascent to the stratosphere.

“Felix trusts me because I know what he’s going through — and I’m the only one who knows what he’s going through,” Mr. Kittinger said on Sunday at the mission-control center here.

And just why would anyone want to go through this? Both men like to stress the science to be learned, but there are, of course, other motives.

“All of my life I have been looking for unique goals, things no one has accomplished,” Mr. Baumgartner said.

Mr. Kittinger knew just what he meant. “From the beginning of mankind, the boys want to go higher, faster, lower,” he said. “It’s a fascinating part of human nature. We’re never satisfied with the status quo.”

Previous attempts to break Mr. Kittinger’s records have Read the rest of this entry »

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