Friday, August 12, 2005

Added to my Favorites List

Pretty good so far. This person seems like someone I could have an actual conversation with, rather than just batting down DNC or GOP talking points. It's nice to see some intellectual honesty on the other side of the fence.

The Cunning Realist.

Take this test

This test.

Really! It's pretty good and you only need a very basic understanding of physics to pass. Some of the questions are interesting and, if I were still teaching, I'd steal shamelessly from this.

Not as good as the Flying Circus of Physics though. We used to get into knock-down arguements over some of the questions in there. DO yourself a favor though, if you get it, get the version with answers. Trust me, you'll get more sleep if you do.

Science rachets forward

One of my favorite subjects in grad school was planetary science and atmospheric physics. The only reason I didn't do my Ph.D. in it was because the only professor who taught it, Pete Schlerob, refused to take any students. His view was, basically, if you could actually do advanced math, don't waste your time in geology. I argued with him about this a bit, especially in the modeling of atmospheric physics, but to no avail. Regardless, it's still been a hobby of mine, especially in the realm of numerical simulation of the radiative transfer in the upper atmosphere.

This is a good article in the NYT Science section this week on how the most conservative (mean primarily in the scientific way) scientists have re-evaluated some of the data and found, a little to their surprise, that it supports the idea of climate change, not the other way around.

I hold, in general, that this is a reasonable position as it's a complicated subject.

Now two independent studies have found errors in the complicated calculations used to generate the old temperature records, which involved stitching together data from thousands of weather balloons lofted around the world and a series of short-lived weather satellites. A third study shows that when the errors are taken into account, the troposphere actually got warmer. Moreover, that warming trend largely agrees with the warmer surface temperatures that have been recorded and conforms to predictions in recent computer models.The three papers were published yesterday in the online edition of the journal Science.

All of that said, we're way past the point where we should be having this debate. The evidence for Climate change and global warming has been strong for decades, strong enough to prompt common sense steps to halt it. We've not done this as a population. We need to think about ways of cooling the planet, regardless of whether it's "natural" or "man-made" in origin. Remember, if it's "natural" that doesn't necessarily mean we as species could survive it. Nature doesn't really care if mankind is around in the big picture, and will crush us like the brontosaurs with no compunction.

We need to get moving on this. We need a plan to start scrubbing the carbon and hexaflorines out of the air, or we may wake up in a couple of decades and find it's too late.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Details ommitted in the original story

I saw this today and was horrified, laughed at the right spots and drew no conclusions.

Investigators first learned of the farm after the man died at Enumclaw Community Hospital July 2. The county Medical Examiner's Office ruled that the death was accidental and the result of having sex with a horse.
A surveillance camera picked up the license plate of the car that dropped the man off at the hospital, which led detectives to the farm and other people involved, said sheriff's Sgt. John Urquhart.
Deputies don't believe a crime occurred because bestiality is not illegal in Washington state and the horse was uninjured, said Urquhart.

Dan Savage, OTOH, fills in the missing detail

The first reports about the death-by-horse didn't include the exact cause of death, and like many people, I assumed the man had been fatally kicked in the head [Mark: I hadn't assumed this] when he attempted to mount the killer horse. This was not the case. The man died, a horrified world soon learned, of a perforated colon... [Mark: I hadn't assumed this either, but it was a nagging hunch.... ]

nagging hunch! ha! I kill me!

Backup Early, Backup Often

Penny Aracde has a great strip today on the virtures of backing up your files.

The commentary is also fairly amusing.

He brought it to me like a wounded thing, scorched around the front, as though it had fallen through the atmosphere. I can assure you that the fight in the strip is a complete fabrication, because he knew what he held there and he knew what it represented. He began to bargain with me in that way one does, I'll never do it again, oh, please mister, but the machine didn't die because he was bad, and no amount of promised good behavior laid toward some future deed would return the thing to life.

The Dog Bomb

And, this isn't the first time this has been tired!

On a barren stretch of road in northern Iraq, a dog rigged with explosives approaches a group of Iraqi police officers. Detonated by remote control, the bomb tears the dog apart but doesn't harm the cops.,0,2727461.story?coll=la-home-headlines#Scene_1

Oh I think *economically* it makes sense since human life is economically more valuable than dog life, still it fills be with an unfamiliar emotion...

... I think that emotion is outrage.

and I think it's not unfamiliar.

"The Russian Dog Mine is described in The Book of Heroic Failures* Volume I. The weapon was supposed to work as follows: The dogs were kept hungry, and they were only fed underneath running tanks, to familiarize them with the high noise level. The dogs were then trained to get used to carrying a large weight of explosives (T.N.T.) strapped to their backs and sides. In operation, the dogs would be taken to the battlefield, and released when enemy tanks were clearly visible. The dogs would run underneath the enemy vehicles, expecting to be fed, and the device would be set off with catastrophic results for the tank, and the unsuspecting animal, of course. In actual use, the device did not work as planned. The dogs had been trained underneath Soviet tanks, and they only expected to be fed there, not underneath enemy vehicles. As a result, when they were first deployed in 1941, the dogs immediately made a beeline for the nearest Soviet vehicles. Apparently, an entire tank division had to be withdrawn from the combat zone until the infantry had shot all the uncontrollable mine dogs."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

What do W and FDR have in common?

Among many other things, they both love vacations!

Vacationing Bush Poised to Set a Record

The August getaway is Bush's 49th trip to his cherished ranch since taking office and the 319th day that Bush has spent, entirely or partially, in Crawford -- nearly 20 percent of his presidency to date, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS Radio reporter known for keeping better records of the president's travel than the White House itself. Weekends and holidays at Camp David or at his parents' compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, bump up the proportion of Bush's time away from Washington even further.

It's a good thing there isn't a war on or something.
Or maybe vacationing is the way we need to support the troops!

Snarkiness aside, it goes in my column of evidence that W thinks he's a King, not a President.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Self-Serving? Naaaaww...

Kate Hudson, actress and bolemic resident of Flatland, had this to say on the subject of Monogamy:
I don't believe (monogamy) is realistic," Hudson, 26, tells TV's Access Hollywood. ... "If you focus your attention on that, then you are always wondering if your husband or men are out there cheating on you. ... If for some reason, that's what he has to go do, I just don't want to know. As long as things are good in our house, just please, don't get caught."

hmm.. Hot 26 year-old actress expresses her views on the subject the Christian Right assumes the gays are going to destroy by even contemplating. If *I* were a hetrosexual male between 18-36, she'd have my attention. Well, now that that I'm (theoretically) paying attention to Kate, I wonder if there is anything else she might have have to say. Any other wisdom. Perhaps she'd like to inform my view of stem-cell research, or help me understand the intracies of string theory....

oh, wait... what's this? She has a New Movie!

Just last September, while shooting Skeleton Key in New Orleans, Hudson told PEOPLE about the state of her marriage in the wake of the arrival of Ryder: "We're sharing something so gigantic now. I think it's the best we've ever felt being together."

Maybe if I see the movie, I'll be all the richer for it...

Mean Time to Nausea: 15 Seconds

Oh, it's not gross in the way that is, but don't say I didn't warn you.


Best coment so far (in the comment section)
"When I read Lord of the Rings, this is what I pictured what Sauron and his great eye must look and feel like."

Hat Tip to TJIC

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Arguing and the ACLU

This is an outstanding thread on Volokh about not just the ACLU (with references to conservative cases), but on the bounds of rational vs. irrational discourse. Really well done.

I've never understood the knee-jerk reaction to some subset of conservatives/right-wing folks to the ACLU. The freedoms they defend are for all of us and, although they are not perfect, I'm very glad they exist even when I don't agree with them.

New Art

I was visiting the (now wholely owned) house of and old friend of mine and noted that the walls were, to put it politely, bare. Well painted for sure, but somewhat bare. I haven't done enough art lately and this was all I needed to put away Civilization III and do some art. The first of these new pieces is finished, here. I'm nost sure how many of this type I will do, but it's a chance to try a different style, and I want to do some work with a Cape Cod theme.

At least until Civ IV comes out in October :)


Steven Vincent, Pro-Iraq writer, killed in Basra

This is worth a read (forget for a moment it came from Kos). Vincent had been in Iraq awhile and, to my mind, expressed a pretty reasonable view of success and the current situaion. Take your pre-conceptions offline for a moment and read this. It's much better than the usual partisan right "see no evil" or the left's "see no good".