March 09, 2014
Looking forward to tonight's show. Dr. Tyson is a great presenter and filming has come a long way in the last twenty years.
The commercials they are showing have little clips of Tardigrades — I hope they spend some time with them. I love the little critters and they have a fascinating biology. We have them up here but you need a microscope to really explore them. Love the warning from this website:
Please note the following mental and health risks: in some case addictive behaviour towards tardigrades has been noted. And, even worse, young people showed an increased interest in non-commercial, zoological and even philosophical topics. As a rule excited readers can be successfully calmed down by means of scholarly biology lectures, e.g. featuring the properties of Allium cepa or the difference between mitosis and meiosis. Please be warned that it might be unwise to mention tardigrades in presence of those biology teachers who have never heard of them. We do not want to be held responsible for nervous breakdowns or any other possible consequences that might be caused by tardigrade mentioning.
Very cool Kickstarter drive - Open Source Enigma Machine
Now this looks fun — from Kickstarter:
The Open Enigma Project
Imagine having this iconic device on your desk: You can use it to simply display a scrolling marquee of any text message on its unique LED screen or encrypt/decrypt any information you wish using (still today) a very secure key. This is an ideal device to teach or learn about encryption, history & math. Because of its open software & the community of developers, the possibilities are endless & your reward is bound to increase in value over time as new applications (like e-mail encryption, secure router, etc) are written.
The original (pre-war) Enigma code was initially broken in Poland and subsequently by a team of Bletchley Park cryptologists under the leadership of U.K.'s own Alan Turing who is one of the fathers of computer science. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing Bletchley Park's ability to break the Enigma code is believed to have shortened World War II by about 2 years. Enigma machines are an extremely rare and important part of computing history. A real Enigma machine sold for $200,000 in 2011. http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/29/world/europe/uk-enigma-machine-auction/
Transforming a prototype into a production unit takes a lot of effort, time & MONEY. This is where you come in! Whether you are brand new to the world of Encryption or a seasoned Cryptologist, whether you know every detail of the German Enigma's story or it's news to you, YOU can help us write it's future.
They have raised over $15K of their $20K goal and they have 23 days remaining in the project.
Fun at the farm - hot water woes
Lulu was running a tub and called down asking if we had any hot water left.
Checked and the new heater output pipe was at 57°F
The puppy is a Bradford-White — top of the line.
We will wait 20 minutes and see what happens - had a nice hot shower around 9:00AM and ran a load of dishes around noon but that should not have caused this problem three hours later…
Climate Change and Metaphor
From Anthony Watts:
Why climate change communications is like ‘Shaka, when the walls fell’
With the pending climate pajamafest all-nighter at the U.S. Senate, (powered by the Washington DC coal burning power plant) the release of former NASA scientists and engineers Right Climate Stuff message that there is no need to be worried about CAGW, and Bill McKibben’s empty boxes fiasco, these loosely related events coalesced into a moment of understanding last night after I watched what is probably my favorite episode of Star Trek, The Next Generation titled “Darmok“.
Excellent writing - Anthony provides the plot for the episode and continues with this:
I’m sure readers can see the parallels with climate change debate and its communications problems. One side repeatedly uses metaphors, imagery, and emotional attachments to convey the urgency of fighting the often invisible and fleeting “beast of the planet”, while the other side keeps asking pointed questions, tries to analyze what is being said and the situation, and tries to learn the language of the other side, even though it seems nonsensical. Neither side seems to get much from the other.
Much more at the site. I find this to be true on a personal level when talking with progressives. Their side is always a narrative, not factual. It is how it should be not how to make this happen.
When they talk about something and you present a fact that contradicts their narrative, they will always change the subject and when you try to return to the point, they will employ an ad hominem logical fallacy — attacking me as 'I just don't know' or some such…
This is compounded by the fact that all of the talking points of the CAGW crowd come from computer models and not boots-on-the-ground measurements. These models can not hindcast, their forecasts show no bearing with reality yet, these numbers are clung to with desperation.
Time to get some adults in the room.
Three years ago - Fukushima Daiichi
From the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:
Prologue to catastrophe
In this article, a worker at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station gives his eyewitness account of what happened there on March 11, 2011, in the immediate wake of a massive earthquake and tsunami that caused three of the station’s reactor cores to melt.
From the account:
I first felt the earthquake as I walked from the vicinity of Units 5 and 6—which are located near the ocean—to the site’s entrance gate. Suddenly, the asphalt began to ripple, and I couldn’t stay on my feet. In a panic, I looked around and saw a 120-meter exhaust duct shaking violently and looking like it would rupture at any second. Cracks began to appear on the outside of Unit 5’s turbine building and on the inside of the entryway to the unit’s service building. The air was filled with clouds of dirt.
When the shaking subsided, more than 200 workers, who had been on the ocean side of the plant, came rushing to the gate. To protect the facility, anyone entering or leaving by the gate had to pass through a metal detector.
“Let us out of here,” we yelled. “A tsunami may be coming!” Screams and shouts filled the air.
“Wait for instructions from the radiation safety group,” demanded a security guard.
This response angered the workers. When an earthquake had struck the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant [in 2007], some workers had jumped over the gate to flee—and they were later charged for having “broken the law.”
After keeping us waiting for a few minutes, the guard collected our APDs [alarm-equipped pocket radiation meters] and our ID cards and instructed that we “all seek refuge.” I headed for the earthquake-resistant building; however, when I arrived, a ruptured ground pipe was spraying water like a geyser and had caused a mudslide that covered the stairs—which, from top to bottom, spanned some 20 to 30 meters. When I reached the operational headquarters, numerous windows on the second floor had shattered, and the blinds were flapping about in the wind. Three or four cooling towers on the roof had either fallen or were tilted over. Considering that the walls of the newly constructed Units 5 and 6 had been damaged, I figured that Units 1 through 4, which were older, must have been in even worse shape.
The Crisis Center on the second floor was jam-packed. As we watched the news on TV, we were first worried about the Onagawa Nuclear Plant. NHK News showed aerial helicopter footage of a tsunami hitting fields in Natori City in Miyagi Prefecture [in northeastern Japan, where the Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant is located, more than 200 miles from Tokyo]. But then a section chief came rushing up to Fukushima’s plant manager, Masao Yoshida, and reported: “A tank [has] been washed away and had sunk into the ocean.”
We all went pale with shock: The tank that had been lost was a surge tank of suppression pool water at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
An amazing story — how something as huge as a power generation plant could be brought down by the earthquake and the tsunami. The joke of the matter is that while they were worried about the status of the Onagawa Power Plant, that Plant had withstood the earthquake so well that it was serving as a refuge for the entire town. The Onagawa plant was built to withstand bigger tsunamis — 30 feet (9 meters) — than Fukushima's 18 feet (5.4 meters). It's first reactor came online June 1, 1984, Fukushima March 26, 1971. Only thirteen years separating the two but a world of engineering differences.
It can be done right and be safe. Other designs (Thorium/molten salt) are intrinsically safe and can not melt down.
I remember the night when the news came in — I subscribe to an Earthquake email list and received notification just before midnight on March 10th.
Lulu is feeling a lot better.
The bruising is starting to show — I'll post a photo later.
She is in great spirits and feeling pretty good (better living through chemistry).
Planning a quiet day today. I have a couple low-priority projects at the house so I'll be busting those out.
March 08, 2014
A matter of perspective
I knew the numbers were something like this but didn't have the exact data.
Fortunately, someone did:
Lulu is by nature more of a morning person than I am.
She is upstairs with some good pain meds and a general antibiotic.
Surfing for a little while and then an early bedtime myself.
She is looking a lot better — color in her face and her skin temp is now back to normal. Shock has its biological functions but it is something that needs to be monitored carefully.
Also, the staff at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Bellingham were amazing — everyone there was really attentive and top notch. The ER was fairly busy but we got really good triage and care.
An unexpected wakeup call
Was in bed and Lulu woke me up at 3:00AM
She was letting Finnegan (our deaf and blind Brittany Spaniel) out and fell and hit her head. I took a look at it and she had split her ear completely open and got a bad gash in her head.
Grabbed an ice pack and we did a fast drive into the ER. Got back around 11:00AM this morning. Slept for a few hours and now, she is propped up watching TV and reading.
Researching on the web about removing dried blood from hair — the go-to suggestion is peroxide but her hair is already really light so will try some oil first and see if that works.
Posting will be light today as I want to keep an eye on her.
Sometimes shit happens.
March 07, 2014
Hell yeah - Skynet in 3.. 2.. 1..
Seen three SRL shows - S.F. twice and Seattle. This tiny screen fails to convey the power.
Google really needs to do this - it would be like having a Court Jester and most successful monarchies had several of these in the inner circle. Keeping things balanced out…
After all, England has Prince Charles.
Big Green gets taken down a notch
Great story from James Delingpole at Breitbart:
Chevron vs Big Green: Capitalism Finally Grows a Pair
This week the environmental movement suffered its biggest defeat since Climategate. And at the hands of its most hated enemy: Big Oil.
Here are the reasons why the court ruling by a US federal judge that Chevron should not have to pay $9.5 billion in damages to victims of oil pollution in Ecuador is a victory for common sense and justice which we should all be celebrating.
1. It's not about David v Goliath.
Though, of course, that's how it was spun by the left-liberal media: on the one hand, plucky maverick New York lawyer Steven Donziger, representing thousands of Ecuadorean natives whose forest lands had been polluted; on the other, the oil giant Chevron, America's third largest company.
But if anyone was being bullied here, it was Chevron. As Donziger well knew, it is almost impossible for an oil company to get a fair hearing in a world brainwashed by environmentalist propaganda. Chevron knew this too. It could have settled for much less out of court - and most oil companies in its position probably would have done. However, Chevron's chief executive John S Watson took the bold and principled decision to fight it all the way.
2. Chevron had done nothing wrong. No really.
The damage was done in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties in the Oriente region of Ecuador by Texaco and the national oil company Petroecuador.
Texaco later reached a settlement with the Ecuadorian government whereby it paid $40 million to clear up the 37 per cent of oil damage for which it accepted responsibility; the rest were assumed to be the responsibility of the Ecuador national oil company (which didn't clear up its share).
Chevron has never drilled in Ecuador. But when a Chevron subsidiary absorbed Texaco in 2001 it became a target for environmentalists who still held Texaco partly responsible for the remaining pollution.
More at the site including the following:
- The case against Chevron was rigged.
- Read the ruling: it's great entertainment!
- Donziger's dodgy past.
- Green Greed
- Green parasites.
- The complicit media: if it's green it must be good.
- The usual rent-a-celeb suspects weigh in…
- Big Green sticks its oar in too.
- Green hubris.
Nice to see some push-back — hope that this is the beginning of a landslide…
Great photos of an ice-encrusted lighthouse. From Michigan Live:
Ice-encrusted Michigan lighthouse photos: Meet the photographer behind the viral images
The lighthouses on Lake Michigan at St. Joseph and South Haven are famous round the world today, thanks to stunning photos of the structures encrusted in ice shot over the past few years by an Indiana photographer whose works are making the rounds on social networking this week.
“It's been unbelievable,” said Thomas Zakowski, 56, of South Bend, a self-employed construction worker who has been shooting photos since he was a freshman in high school. “I've just been watching it unfold on the internet.”
”Frozen in time: Michigan lighthouses transformed into stunning giant icicles after being frozen solid by storm” is the headline of the story by Simon Tomlinson in the MailOnline, an online publication of the United Kingdom updated at 11:01 a.m. Monday, Jan. 6.
Here is one of them — gorgeous stuff!
More photos at the link.
Updates to the Blogroll
Finally got around to pruning the Blogroll to the right of the screen.
Removed a bunch of entries that were no longer active and updated some links.
When you asssume
Great one from Randal today:
March 06, 2014
Light posting today - Lulu's birthday
Celebrating her 59th birthday. I am 63 so this is a really good match. We had lots of similar experiences growing up so there is a strong cultural core.
It has been an amazing couple of years and looking forward to many more birthdays together!
Just took a flourless chocolate cake out of the oven and reducing some raspberry sauce.
Dinner is a nice chunk of seared Ahi with rice and some garlic aioli and pickled ginger. Sesame salad and cake for desert.
Unintended consequences - Energy in California
Talk about landslide — from Joel Kotkin:
Energy Running Out of California
The recent decision by Occidental Petroleum to move its headquarters to Houston from Los Angeles, where it was founded over a half-century ago, confirms the futility and delusion embodied in California's ultragreen energy policies. By embracing solar and wind as preferred sources of generating power, the state promotes an ever-widening gap between its declining middle- and working-class populations and a smaller, self-satisfied group of environmental campaigners and their corporate backers.
Talk to people who work in the fossil-fuel industry, and they tell you they feel ostracized and even hated; to be an oil firm in California is like being a pork producer in an ultra-Orthodox section of Jerusalem. One top industry executive told me that many of his colleagues in California cringe at the prospect of being attacked by politicians and activists as something akin to war criminals. “I wouldn't subject my kids to that environment,” the Gulf Coast-based oilman suggested.
What matters here is not the hurt feelings of energy executives, but a massive lost opportunity to create loads of desperately needed jobs, particularly for blue-collar workers. The nation may be undergoing a massive “energy revolution,” based largely on new supplies of oil and, particularly, cleaner natural gas, but California so far has decided not to play.
In all but forcing out fossil-fuel firms, California is shedding one of its historic core industries. Not long ago, California was home to a host of top 10 energy firms – ARCO, Getty Oil, Union Oil, Oxy and Chevron; in 1970, oil firms constituted the five largest industrial companies in the state. Now, only Chevron, which has been reducing its headcount in Northern California and is clearly shifting its emphasis to Texas, will remain.
I can not understand what the state is doing. Their policies have put them into a position of needing money. They raise taxes. The more successful a business is, the more taxes it pays. Tax a business enough and it will pull up stakes and move to a more business-friendly state. Lather, rinse, repeat and all of a sudden, the state still needs money and it's tax-base has shrunk so it needs to raise taxes even more.
Meet Torvosaurus gurneyi
It seems that other people also noticed Dinotopia. From James' post:
Today a new dinosaur is being introduced to the world, and I'm thrilled and honored that that the paleontologists decided to name it after me. It's called Torvosaurus gurneyi.
The dinosaur, which was discovered in Portugal, is one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs from the Jurassic and the largest land-predator discovered in Europe.
Lead author Christophe Hendrickx of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museu of Lourinhã says, “With a skull of 115 cm, Torvosaurus gurneyi was…an active predator that hunted other large dinosaurs, as evidenced by blade shape teeth up to 10 cm.”
Mr. Hendrickx says he chose the name because of a childhood fascination with the book that I wrote and illustrated called Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time.
When I introduced Dinotopia more than 22 years ago, I received many letters from young children who said they wanted to become artists or paleontologists. It gives me great pleasure to hear from some of them all these years later and to find out that they're doing for a living what they dreamed about as kids.
Very cool - I was fascinated by the Dintopia books when they first came out. Still have them. Gorgeous work and a strong science background.
Waking up to Bacon
Now this is wonderful - from Mashable:
Bacon-Scented Alarm App Gives iPhones a Meaty Overhaul
Oscar Mayer is giving meat fans the chance to wake up to the sound — and smell — of bacon every morning.
The company's Wake Up and Smell the Bacon app and iPhone dongle, which unfortunately contains no actual bacon, is a complete bacon-themed overhaul of your iPhone's alarm.
The dongle plugs into the iPhone's headphone jack and, when paired with the accompanying iOS app, releases the smell of bacon as the alarm sounds.
“With nearly two million mentions of #bacon on Instagram, it seems people never get tired of bacon. That’s why our team decided to develop a device to give folks what they long for most,” said Tom Bick, senior director of integrated marketing and advertising at Oscar Mayer in a statement. “As the category leader, Oscar Mayer is thrilled to bring the first-ever, bacon-scented mobile device to market, giving bacon aficionados a new reason to welcome their morning alarm clocks.”
Oscar Mayer is only making a limited number of devices, which won't be available for sale. Fans will have to apply for a shot at winning one of the dongles by taking a quiz on Oscar Mayer's website. The contest runs through April 4 and winners will receive their bacon-scented devices within six to eight weeks.
The contest is the latest project out of the Oscar Mayer Institute for the Advancement of Bacon, a “consortium of the world's greatest bacon minds dedicated to unlocking the bacon's deepest mysteries for the benefit of bacon lovers everywhere.”
I be the demand will be high enough that they will have Foxcon start mass producing them. Great idea.
March 05, 2014
A very kindred spirit
Meet Doug Coulter:
More at Motherboard:
The DIY Engineer Who Built a Nuclear Reactor in His Basement
Some people—myself not excluded—go to an office everyday because they can't think of anywhere else to go. We practice the prompt repression of wild ideas in exchange for remunerative employment, which to some is considered to be a kind of meaningful existence. Doug Coulter is not that sort of worker.
He may have started out behind a desk when he worked in the security business as a beltway bandit, coming up with signal processing and radio gadgets for our favorite three-lettered intelligence agencies, but in recent years, Doug's chosen to explore his engineering interests in the isolated backwoods of Virginia, absent from any pesky boss or sticky bureaucracy.
Doug's gone from being paid to play with other people's expensive toys to making his own. And although he may call them toys because of the amount of fun he derives from them, his creations are hardly ordinary playthings. Then again, Doug is no ordinary man.
Doug runs the forum Coultersmithing.
Hat tip to Gerard for the link. Thank you!
A murmuration of Starlings - take two
I had posted another video of Starlings back in January.
Here is another one — a wonderful thing to see:
Quote of the month
From Ivan Ilyin writing at The Belmont Club:
I was on talk radio today and a kind of sadness seemed to hang in the air; a realization that something has gone missing — perhaps forever. It was overlaid by an angry shame that the president — whatever or how little you thought of him — could be shrunk to such a size, and by extension the country he represented.
It’s an atmospheric thing. Suddenly, without any warning, Washington no longer seems so much like the center of the universe. Those who inhabit it, who understand status even if they know nothing else, feel the demotion. Now it’s as if people got up this morning determined to understand why the world seems so much bigger and their offices so much smaller.
Much more at the site - quite a well written analysis.
Bumping off the banksters
A curious development — from FOX News:
Bitcoin firm CEO found dead in suspected suicide
It appears bitcoin’s recent turmoil has claimed its first life.
Autumn Ratke a 28-year-old American CEO of bitcoin exchange firm First Meta was found dead in her Singapore apartment on Feb. 28.
With Mt. Gox going bankrupt and $460 Million USD worth of Bitcoins evaporating, it's no wonder that other Bitcoin repositories would get stressed. Ms. Ratke death is pending investigation.
It isn't just Bitcoins though — a bit more:
Ratke’s death brings the number of questionable financial sector deaths this year to eight. On Feb. 18 a 33-year-old JPMorgan finance pro leaped to his death the roof of the JPMorgan’s 30-story Hong Kong office tower.
Li Junjie’s suicide marked the third mysterious death of a JPMorgan banker. So far, there is no other known link between any of the deaths.
Gabriel Magee, 39, a vice president with the JPMorgan’s corporate and investment bank technology arm in the UK, also jumped to his death from the roof of the bank’s 33-story Canary Wharf tower in London on Jan. 28.
On Feb. 3, Ryan Henry Crane, 37, a JPM executive director who worked in New York, was found dead inside his Stamford, Conn., home.
Curious - I wonder whose hand is behind all this…
Right up there with the jet pack
Brought to you by the fine folks at HUVr Tech
Dammit — they promised me a jet pack. I want my jet pack!
March 04, 2014
An unintended consequence - the answer
I had wondered the following:
What with President Stompy Feet and Sec. State Lurch getting played, what happens if we do something that pisses Putin off.
Russia test-fires ICBM amid tension over Ukraine
Russia said it had successfully test-fired an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) on Tuesday, with tensions running high over its military intervention in Ukraine's Crimea region.
The Strategic Rocket Forces launched an RS-12M Topol missile from the southerly Astrakhan region and the dummy warhead hit its target at a proving ground in Kazakhstan, Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Yegorov told state-run news agency RIA.
The launch site, Kapustin Yar, is near the Volga River about 450 km (280 miles) east of the Ukrainian border. Kazakhstan, a Russian ally in a post-Soviet security grouping, is further to the east.
Emphasis mine. Putin is dominating the situation.
A good cause
Astronomy Legacy Project
Before the invention of digital cameras in the 1990's, and for more than 120 years before that, astronomers put in several million telescope hours photographing the night sky - measuring star brightnesses, detecting comets, planets, nebulae, mapping our Galaxy, and building the foundations of our understanding of our Universe! All of this raw beauty, and secrets yet to be discovered, are held as largely unexplored photographic images on thin, fragile pieces of glass. Imagine digitizing these hundreds of thousands of photographic images with such high precision that the images appearing on your screen replicates the original. This digitization process is the heart of the Astronomy Legacy Project.
They are also the repository for the Astronomical Photographic Data Archive (APDA) — a collection of over 220,000 images that they are looking to digitize.
Go to Indiegogo and donate some money — this is crowdfunded science at its best.
An unintended consequence
What with President Stompy Feet and Sec. State Lurch getting played, what happens if we do something that pisses Putin off.
One thought from Michael Belfiore writing at Popular Mechanics:
What Happens If Russia Refuses to Fly U.S. Astronauts?
With tensions escalating between Russia and Ukraine, the pressure is on President Obama to do more than issue stern warnings to the Russian government. Economic sanctions are one possible action, but one that could put the squeeze not only on Russia but also the U.S. manned space program.
Since the space shuttle retired in 2011, NASA has had no native human spaceflight capability. With no other options, NASA has relied on the Russian Federal Space Agency and its Soyuz rockets and spacecraft to get astronauts to and from the International Space Station, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars per seat. Any strong move by the U.S. in response to the Crimean crisis could spell the end of Americans flying on Russian spaceships, at least until tensions ease. NASA and its commercial partners have some projects in the works that can fill the gap, should Russia refuse to fly our astronauts. But these are at least two to three years from operational status. Depending on how the Russian-Ukraine crisis develops, those could be two to three years with no Americans in space.
That would suck. I still find it amazing that we have no way to get a person into orbit — we were the champions and we pissed it away. At its height, the NASA budget was a percent or two of the national budget — we could find that money in the congressional sofa seats with a little digging but no…
About those green buildings
Not so much — from The Daily Caller:
Report: DC’s green-approved buildings using more energy
Washington, D.C. may have the highest number of certified green buildings in the country, but research by Environmental Policy Alliance suggests it might not be doing much good.
The free-market group analyzed the first round of energy usage data released by city officials Friday and found that large, privately-owned buildings that received the green energy certification Leadership in Energy Design (LEED) actually use more energy than buildings that didn’t receive this green stamp of approval.
Take the Green Building Council’s Washington headquarters. Replete with the group’s top green-energy accolade, the platinum LEED certification, the USGBC’s main base comes in at 236 EUI. The average EUI for uncertified buildings in the capital? Just 199.
The research was done by a group called LEED Exposed
Lots more at the site — it is a scam. A lot of what they look for has no bearing on energy usage. The EPA has a similar program called Energy Star and some buildings certified as LEED green buildings fail to receive the EPA’s Energy Star seal.
Most Federal buildings now have to be rated by this organization so our tax dollars are being wasted. Again, the site has a lot of hard data and links — LEED is a scam.
It's bad - labor participation rate
How's that economy going? From CNS News:
Labor Force Participation in 2013 Lowest in 35 Years
The average annual labor force participation rate hit a 35-year-low of 63.2 percent in the United States in 2013, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The last time the average annual labor force participation rate was that low was in in 1978, when it was also 63.2 percent. Jimmy Carter was president then.
The BLS bases its employment statistics on the civilian noninstitutional population, which consists of all people in the United States 16 or older who are not on active duty in the military or in an institution such as a prison, nursing home or mental hospital. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of people in the civilian noninstitutional population who either had a job or who actively sought one in the previous four weeks.
And they want to grant amnesty to 15 million illegal immigrants because “we need the workers”.
Believe that and I have a bridge to sell you…
The situation in the Ukraine and Obama's reaction
This about sums it up - President Stompy Feet is having his entrails handed to him and he is simply not aware.