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We Have Seen the Light
Special to FreeRepublic ^ | 13 May 2005 | John Armor

Posted on 05/12/2005 9:06:45 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob

Edited on 05/12/2005 9:18:18 PM PDT by Admin Moderator. [history]

No, this is not about theology. Nor about a sudden discovery, or a blinding insight. It is literally about light. It’s also about a NASA photograph, a Southern front porch, and global political theory.

Begin with this NASA composite photo. It shows the whole globe photographed during clear nights. Named “Earth at Night,” it is shown here in a small file.

Admire that photograph, and hold that thought.

Three years after the end of WW II, when rationing had ended and people could travel by car again, my parents packed two adults, three children, an elderly dog and a pile of suitcases into a large, lumpy maroon car, a Buick as I recall, and headed south. We came to Highlands, NC, to the house where I now live, to visit with my mother’s folks.

I mention two aspects of that trip today. One is the comforting sound of a warm spring rain on a tin roof. The other is the lights at night that were visible from the porch. There were, as I recall, three or four lights near the horizon at night, the center cities of small towns in South Carolina and Georgia.

Today, especially in winter when the air is bitter cold and clear, there are thousands of lights strung across the horizon like tumbled quartz stones, a necklace of white, red and blue. There are the turning white and blue tower lights, and the pulsing red outer markers of ten airports. And when the Clemson Tigers play in “Death Valley,” we can see the glow of that stadium from this porch.

To understand the geography I’m describing, go to the Amtrak website and click up the route map of that venerable American train, the Southern Crescent. The Crescent leaves New York City in the morning, headed southwest. Twenty-four hours later, it rolls into New Orleans headed due west. What we see from our porch are the cities on that route in the 150 miles from just west of Gastonia, North Carolina, to Gainesville, Georgia.

The towns have mostly grown into cities. More than that, they have all become alive at night, with lights that burn until dawn. The explosive growth of those lights is due more to the advance of civilization and development than just to numbers of people.

This view is a small version of the composite photograph of “The Earth at Night,” which NASA published about five years ago. It tells a very powerful story with no words, but merely the evidence of light – harbinger of development and civilization – in a telling pattern around our world.

The spread of these global light sources marks the great cities of the world along all the coasts, and also on the major rivers within each nation. But the lights are neither uniform nor in proportion to population. The most lighted, most advanced nation is the United States, though its population is only about 300 million. One of the darker nations on the planet is China, despite its population of about 1 billion people.

Note especially the Korean peninsula. Mapped by the lights alone, South Korea looks like an island, separated from the Asian mainland. One of the most backward and benighted nations in the world, North Korea, nearly disappears on this light map of the world.

India, also with a 1 billion population, is marked with more and brighter lights than its neighbor, China. Eastern Europe, whose population is about as dense as Western Europe, is markedly darker. The “four Tigers” of Asia are all much brighter than all the other nations of Asia. And Africa is literally the “Dark Continent.”

What conclusions can be drawn from that photograph?

In general, the brightest lights (marking the greatest development) are in the nations with free societies and free market economics. The darker nations are the socialist nations and dictatorships. The darkest of all are the communist nations. The major exception to those general rules is in Western Europe. But those nations were largely developed and civilized before they turned to socialism as a philosophy, and stagnated economically.

This single image, with no words added except a brief knowledge of the nations involved, refutes the philosophies of many who attack the United States for leading the world in the wrong direction. The nay-sayers range from the “leaders” of many of the depressed nations, to street demonstrators in the US, to a majority of the faculties at most American universities.

Yes, I have seen the light. Now you have seen the light as well. Eventually, even the faculties of American universities will see the light – I hope – for the sake of the next generation of Americans and the next generation of all the nations of the world. Based on evidence to date, the last group to see the light will be the Ambassadors and staff of the United Nations.

About the Author: John Armor is a First Amendment attorney and author who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. John_Armor@aya.yale.edu


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Philosophy; Politics/Elections; US: North Carolina
KEYWORDS: africa; china; earthatnight; easterneurope; fourtigers; freemarkets; highlandsnc; india; nasa; northkorea; socialism; southerncrescent; turass; unitednations; universityprofessors; weserneurope
I think y'all will find this interesting.
1 posted on 05/12/2005 9:06:46 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob
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To: Congressman Billybob
That is a great photo. My friends and I came to the same conclusions as the other as well after viewing it.
2 posted on 05/12/2005 9:11:17 PM PDT by JOAT
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To: JOAT
other=author.

duh

3 posted on 05/12/2005 9:11:48 PM PDT by JOAT
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To: Congressman Billybob

One of your finest, John ... and somewhat poetic to boot! But I am reminded of the smell in Tuscaloosa, AL, of the paper mills. I once asked a resident what that smelled like ... he replied that it smelled like homes and cars and college educations. I didn't embarrass myself further.


4 posted on 05/12/2005 9:13:52 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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To: Congressman Billybob

Bump for BillyBob's website


5 posted on 05/12/2005 9:14:03 PM PDT by Christian4Bush (Prayers for Laura Ingraham and her family as she is treated for breast cancer. 5-4-05)
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To: Congressman Billybob

6 posted on 05/12/2005 9:16:05 PM PDT by isthisnickcool (You must respect my a-tor-it-tah!)
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To: Congressman Billybob

YOU are a bright light on FR, Billybob. And that's saying a lot. I always enjoy reading your posts. Carry on, and God Bless You.


7 posted on 05/12/2005 9:16:11 PM PDT by karnage
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To: Congressman Billybob

The U.N. may be the last to see the reality of economic success, but our own state department and democratic party will not be far behind.


8 posted on 05/12/2005 9:17:12 PM PDT by concentric circles
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To: Congressman Billybob

Great article. The pic didn't show up for me but it didn't need to because you've told the story so well. Thanks for posting.


9 posted on 05/12/2005 9:20:43 PM PDT by Liberty Valance (If you must filibuster, let the Constitution do the talkin')
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To: Congressman Billybob

If that's the same image I think it is, I used to have a poster that came from national Geographic hanging on my bedroom wall when I was a kid.

I believe that it could stand some updating. Even from this image, the American West, particularly Las Vegas and California's Central Valley would be much brighter. I also suspect Eastern China and the South Pacific would show a whole lot more civilization.


10 posted on 05/12/2005 9:22:28 PM PDT by ElkGroveDan
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To: Congressman Billybob

I see that kid of mine left the lights on again!!! :~)


11 posted on 05/12/2005 9:24:35 PM PDT by landerwy
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To: Congressman Billybob
Note especially the Korean peninsula

Very telling, isn't it?

12 posted on 05/12/2005 9:24:38 PM PDT by GVnana
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To: Congressman Billybob

America is the Light.

Socialism and communism are wrought with darkness.


13 posted on 05/12/2005 9:28:50 PM PDT by Ultra Sonic (Remember.)
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To: Congressman Billybob
Good piece John.

Ever notice how parasitic, socialistic cock-a-roaches run when you shine the light of truth on them?

14 posted on 05/12/2005 9:33:05 PM PDT by PGalt
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To: Congressman Billybob

[In general, the brightest lights (marking the greatest development) are in the nations with free societies and free market economics. The darker nations are the socialist nations and dictatorships. The darkest of all are the communist nations.]


The anti-capitalists see every bright spot of light as an evil stain on the Earth; humanity ruining the planet for the rest of nature (which was here first).

The free market societies are the worst offenders in their view, and they believe we should all give up our cars and air conditioners and live by picking berries and digging tubers.

I've talked with some of these people from time to time, and they're kooks but there are more than a few of them.


15 posted on 05/12/2005 10:10:00 PM PDT by spinestein (I support both kinds of nuclear power; electricity generating and political.)
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To: Congressman Billybob

Dear Congressman, what bout Australia and Canada, how do you explain they are much darker? And since the photo was published 5 years ago, you need updated info for sure.


16 posted on 05/12/2005 11:51:40 PM PDT by Soothing
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To: Congressman Billybob; BufordP; BillF
Great piece.
Indeed perhaps the great intellectuals of our leading universities will indeed one day see the light as a simple country boy does today.
17 posted on 05/13/2005 3:22:40 AM PDT by Jimmy Valentine's brother ( We need a few more Marines like Lt. Gen. James Mattis)
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To: All
Want a copy of the big one? Get it here.
18 posted on 05/13/2005 3:45:40 AM PDT by BufordP ("I wish we lived in the day when you could challenge a person to a duel!"--Zell Miller)
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To: Jimmy Valentine's brother

Australia and Canada are sparsely populated countries, and in the case of Australia, most of the population is concentrated in the cities. Hence we have the very brightly lit coastal spots. Actually, the map would give a lot more information if the brightness of each region was reduced by a factor proportional to its population. If that is done, America would blaze, compared to any other region on earth.

But the surprising thing was about India and China.


19 posted on 05/13/2005 3:50:18 AM PDT by CarrotAndStick (The articles posted by me needn't necessarily reflect my opinion.)
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To: Jimmy Valentine's brother; Congressman Billybob; BillF
Indeed perhaps the great intellectuals of our leading universities will indeed one day see the light as a simple country boy does today.

No, they won't. For the Bible says...

19This is the verdict: Union Electric Power and Light ® has come into the world, but communist tyrants and university professors loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, oil industry, international corporations, and free markets, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
--John 3:19-20

It's in there!

20 posted on 05/13/2005 4:33:09 AM PDT by BufordP ("I wish we lived in the day when you could challenge a person to a duel!"--Zell Miller)
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To: karnage
Thank you very much for your "complimentary thunderbolt," as Mark Twain would have called it.

John / Billybob
21 posted on 05/13/2005 4:34:21 AM PDT by Congressman Billybob (For copies of my speech, "Dealing with Outlaw Judges," please Freepmail me.)
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To: Soothing
Australia and Canada have some significant lights, despite having very low population per acre statistics. Compare their spotty lights to the near darkness in central China and sub-Sahara Africa, for instance.

As for "more recent data," this photograph is a professionally-done composite of perhaps hundreds of individual photographs to get all parts of the Earth at night, and in cloudless weather. If and when NASA does this detailed work again, the photo will be updated.

John / Billybob

22 posted on 05/13/2005 4:41:43 AM PDT by Congressman Billybob (For copies of my speech, "Dealing with Outlaw Judges," please Freepmail me.)
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To: CarrotAndStick; Registered
the map would give a lot more information if the brightness of each region was reduced by a factor proportional to its population. If that is done, America would blaze, compared to any other region on earth
. . . because that would be a portrait of the middle class.

Excellent idea! Calling all Photoshoppers!


23 posted on 05/13/2005 6:15:30 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters but PR.)
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To: CarrotAndStick
Australia and Canada are sparsely populated countries
. . . and the population of Canada is concentrated primarily within 100 miles of the US border.

So on an image of this scale you might easily mistake most of the lighted area of Canadian for part of the US.


24 posted on 05/13/2005 6:22:29 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters but PR.)
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To: CarrotAndStick

Here's a similar NASA image of global population density:

http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/images/116/pop_density.jpg

It shows primarily that dimming the light picture for population would drastically reduce the brightness of China and India. And to a lesser extent, Europe.


25 posted on 05/13/2005 6:39:17 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters but PR.)
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To: Congressman Billybob

Awesome photo.


26 posted on 05/13/2005 6:47:17 AM PDT by Paul_Denton (Get the U.N. out of the U.S. and U.S. out of the U.N.!)
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To: Congressman Billybob

That is amazing, just by looking at the lights you can tell which nations are the advanced ones and which are not. Africa literally is the "dark continent".


27 posted on 05/13/2005 6:53:22 AM PDT by Brett66 (W1 W1 W1 W1 W1 W1 W1 W1)
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To: Congressman Billybob
Well they do say that about a quarter of the energy used by the entire world is used in the US . . . this is pretty much a picture of that!

28 posted on 05/13/2005 7:03:18 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters but PR.)
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To: BufordP

The large file (approx 30 MB) is an amazing one!!
Thanks for the link.


29 posted on 05/13/2005 7:12:53 AM PDT by CarrotAndStick (The articles posted by me needn't necessarily reflect my opinion.)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
It shows primarily that dimming the light picture for population would drastically reduce the brightness of China and India. And to a lesser extent, Europe.

Okay, then dim the lights with the appropriate real population density(cultivable land area divided by no. of people), and not just population.

30 posted on 05/13/2005 7:19:49 AM PDT by CarrotAndStick (The articles posted by me needn't necessarily reflect my opinion.)
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To: Congressman Billybob
While I generally agree with the assessment of North Korea, it should be noted that Central Asia is extremely arid especially in the area formerly known as Tibet. Other less illuminated dry areas are the Sahara, and Australia.

Maybe the angle of the satellite photo obscures the light beams from Russia, Alaska, and Australia? Maybe some people just want to sleep at night?

Also, the deep dark jungles of both Africa and South America don't seem to have a lot of bulbs lighting up the night sky. Maybe it's the trees that are in the way? Maybe I'm just being silly?

But what is overwhelmingly obvious is that people like fresh water. We're funny like that. I'll be a US penny that the dryer areas would become better lit at night if there were more irrigation of fresh water (hint: Las Vegas and Nevada in general).

Sometimes bright lights at night only signify a certain measure of financial success. Look at Saudi Arabia. I've been there briefly. It's dry dry dry! I remember the gov't there too. They didn't like outsiders very much, and that part of the world didn't like their women to walk about at night either. I wouldn't want to dwell their as I wouldn't want to dwell in North Korea. Yet, Saudi Arabia has some pretty bright lights.

Therefore, I'm going to have to use the McCarthy conspiracy theory to explain why North Korea is so dark: one of the 57 card carrying Communist in the U.S. Department of Defense alerted Pyongyang as to when the night-sky-picture-taking satellite would be snapping shots of the Korean Peninsula. For the exact time that this satellite was overhead, Kim Jong Il gave a "lights out" order. The North Korean SOF shot out any lights still burning and then imprisoned the previous caretaker of that light. Thus, they averted whatever knowledge we might have gained over their military strength.

I'm sure that if having a brightly lit sky at night is the ultimate measure of earthly success, then during a scheduled night-sky-picture-taking satellite shot that every nation seeking the inglorious achievements of human respect would have been burning flares by the millions to upstage their neighbors. I'm sure that there would also be a multitude of others giving a disrespectful "moon" to reflect more of the artificial lite. It may even make the Guinness Records?

Until then, I'll just categorize this as a "cool photo", and say "thanks for the post!"
31 posted on 05/13/2005 7:43:40 AM PDT by SaltyJoe (The anticipation is terrible...I hope it lasts!)
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To: SaltyJoe
This is not "one photo," it is a combination of hundreds of separate photos. There is no "angle" to the photos. They are all shot looking straight down. And since there are hundreds of photos and the times are not announced, no nation has any opportunity to "prepare" for the photos with either "lights out" or "lights on." Even assuming that such an attempt to scam the results were even possible.

With regard to the North Korea / South Korea comparison, neither climate or geography or any other factor than the contrast in governments and economies explains the radical difference between North and South.

This is not just a "pretty picture." It is a global, clear, factual proof of the differences between societies, governments and economies. And the answer is clear. We have done it best; the others have done it progressively worse.

John / Billybob

32 posted on 05/13/2005 7:52:44 AM PDT by Congressman Billybob (For copies of my speech, "Dealing with Outlaw Judges," please Freepmail me.)
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To: Congressman Billybob
"We have done it best; the others have done it progressively worse."

I don't have God's Wisdom to know such things; otherwise, I may be fooled into thinking that I don't need Jesus anymore. I was hoping to be funny in the last post. I do know the difference between South and North Korea and the abhorrent fruits of Communism. I also know when human life starts and that it should naturally end, so I won't wink at where "we" have done it best.

I think it's a cool photo, and just a "cool" photo.
Nothing more.

http://www.abortionfacts.com/statistics/world_statistics.asp

http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/ab-southkorea.html

http://www.terrisfight.org/
33 posted on 05/13/2005 8:08:52 AM PDT by SaltyJoe ("Social Justice" begins with the unborn child.)
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To: CarrotAndStick

You're welcome!


34 posted on 05/13/2005 8:18:47 AM PDT by BufordP ("I wish we lived in the day when you could challenge a person to a duel!"--Zell Miller)
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To: Congressman Billybob

Thanks for the article Congressman. I found it most interesting.


35 posted on 05/13/2005 5:58:53 PM PDT by perfect stranger (I need new glasses.)
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To: SaltyJoe
I like the way you shoot down your own "McCarthy conspiracy theory" in the next paragraph.

Why wouldn't N. Korea burn flares by the millions to upstage their neighbors? They could as well use them as misinformation. That is unless they don't have any.

36 posted on 05/13/2005 6:45:01 PM PDT by perfect stranger (I need new glasses.)
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To: perfect stranger

My mind is a quagmire of humor that even I don't understand. I laugh at my own joke that I thought were never funny in the first place.

Furthermore, I don't doubt that the effectiveness of American air cover, indirect artillery, and NGF support during the Korean War was so superb that North Korea would have black outs even if they did have energy to spare.


37 posted on 05/13/2005 10:32:12 PM PDT by SaltyJoe ("Social Justice" begins with the unborn child.)
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To: isthisnickcool

If I may be the spoilsport today (and my apologies), there is one strange thing and one probable strange thing about that Earth by Night thingy.

1. Cuba is all lit up. I’ve been to Cuba (Havana) and there are no lights to speak of…a rare light here and there coming from an apartment here and an apartment there, but one can say there are really no lights at night.

When Carter was there, I was amazed to see how the Malecón (the seawall which is paralleled by a boulevard) was suddenly all lit as if it were daytime. That isn’t true in real life. It’s dark.

2. That little strip of light going through Panama. It can only be the Panama Canal; except, the Panama Canal runs NW-SE and not NE-SW.


38 posted on 05/15/2005 9:44:21 AM PDT by Gatún(CraigIsaMangoTreeLawyer)
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To: MHGinTN
I remember the stench in Tuscaloosa when there as a college student. One freshman night in Paty hall I walked out in the hall and literally had to squint to see the other end of the hall, the paper mill was so bad.

Had forgotten all about that till just now. I used to go out to run and would wind up retching sometimes.

An interesting aside on the plant came when the owner (an elderly lady) was confronted with some demand or other by the union. She told them point blank that the plant was marginally profitable and that she would shut it down if they persisted. They responded "you can't shut it down! We will sue!" Things went on, they did not back down and one morning the a.m. shift was met at the gate by armed guards and a note that said "I am in Europe. You can forward any lawsuits or questions through my attorney." My understanding is that it never fired back up.
39 posted on 05/16/2005 2:30:53 PM PDT by chronic_loser
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To: Gatún(CraigIsaMangoTreeLawyer)
1. Cuba is all lit up. I’ve been to Cuba (Havana) and there are no lights to speak of…a rare light here and there coming from an apartment here and an apartment there, but one can say there are really no lights at night.

I think if you look at the large image, you can see that while Havana is visible, it's not anywhere near as bright as the Florida coasts, or most any medium sized US city. Most of Cuba is indeed dark. Except the GitMo area of course.

2. That little strip of light going through Panama. It can only be the Panama Canal; except, the Panama Canal runs NW-SE and not NE-SW.

A quick look at a map reveals that little strip of light is actually the southern coast of Panama. The bright light at the northwest end of it is Panama City, while the little spot of light to the northwest of Panama City is Colon. The canal itself runs through pretty unpopulated territory with few lights, and the largest part of it is the big lake, which contains no lights other than a few sets of ship's lights.

40 posted on 05/16/2005 2:44:55 PM PDT by El Gato
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