31 May 2010

Out Like a Lion?

Okay, it's May, not March, but we just had another temblor here. This one a 6.1 magnitude in basically the same spot as a 5.9 mag a couple weeks ago. There was also a 4.9 last week, near the same location, and a 4.8 about 100 miles up the coast, off Nicaragua, within the last week.

Tonight via Observatorio Vulcanol├│gico y Sismol├│gico de Costa Rica (National University Vulcanology and Seismic Observatory):

The one tonight wasn't as strong here in the house as the 5.9 the other day, but the waves propagate differently ... or some such thing. I really need to become more knowledgeable about terrremotos (earthquakes), since I'm now a first-hand observer on (apparently) a regular basis.....

21 May 2010

Science: Still So Cool

(photo taken by Cassini spacecraft, click to enlargimacate)

The big moon is Rhea, seen from 1.2 million kilometers (750,000 miles) away, and the little one below it is Epimetheus, from 1.6 million km (990,000 miles) away. Perspective makes them look right next to each other, but in reality the distance between them is the same as the Moon from the Earth! Saturn and its rings provide the backdrop for this stunning alien portrait.

From here, with more info for the spacially-inclined.

19 May 2010

It's Not News Unless It Fits the Narrative

Did you hear about the terrorist attack in Florida last week? Unless you live in Jacksonville, you probably haven't. Outside of local news (and, now, online), there's been no mention of this act -- even dismissed as a "deranged individual" or a "one-off".


This is the direct result of profit-driven news divisions.

17 May 2010

Revisionist Much?

You may remember the Texas Board of (mis)Education, controlled by people with -- at best -- a tenuous grasp of reality ... and a huge rightwingnutty bent? We've seen before that they removed Thomas Jefferson from the Enlightenment influences, the term "capitalism", and inflating the importance of Conservative Causes over the last 30 years.

Well, I just came across this tidbit:

The education board has dropped references to the slave trade in favour of calling it the more innocuous "Atlantic triangular trade", and recasts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as driven by Islamic fundamentalism.

As disgusting as this is, it does give me the opportunity to post a clip from Teh Bestest Movie EVAR, aka 1776:

16 May 2010

Pay No Attention, For This Shall Likely Be Deleted Momentarily

Having issues with the page and the refreshing thereof.

15 May 2010

Don't Hear This Much Anymore

Reading this post by Zymurgian over at Pygalgia's place, about the use of recordings of train horns at railroad crossings (because the real thing is, apparently, too much for the neighbors to bear) reminded me of a couple things.

Tweetsie Railroad (located just outside of Blowing Rock, NC)
which I used to love hearing when I lived in Boone (and the wind was blowing in the right direction),

This All Things Considered piece from 2005 about recordings of train whistles (and photos),

And visiting my (maternal) grandmother in West Virginia. Her house was next to the railroad and the trains whistle sound is an integral part of my memories of my Grandmother.

13 May 2010

What IS the Nature of the Danger?

Via Crooks & Liars, Ezra Klein interviews economist James Galbraith (Washington Post online):

EK: You think the danger posed by the long-term deficit is overstated by most economists and economic commentators.

JG: No, I think the danger is zero. It's not overstated. It's completely misstated.

EK: Why?

JG: What is the nature of the danger? The only possible answer is that this larger deficit would cause a rise in the interest rate. Well, if the markets thought that was a serious risk, the rate on 20-year treasury bonds wouldn't be 4 percent and change now. If the markets thought that the interest rate would be forced up by funding difficulties 10 year from now, it would show up in the 20-year rate. That rate has actually been coming down in the wake of the European crisis. [emphasis by Bob]

So there are two possibilities here. One is the theory is wrong. The other is that the market isn't rational. And if the market isn't rational, there's no point in designing policy to accommodate the markets because you can't accommodate an irrational entity.

Hmmmm, does that mean all the "Reduce The Deficit NOW!!" cries are simply a magician's flourish to distract from what the other hand is doing????

C&L has a video that goes along with this also, of another interview (link above)

12 May 2010

An Amusing Little Quiz For D&D Geeks

I Am A: Neutral Good Human Druid (7th Level)

Ability Scores:

Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment because it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Druids gain power not by ruling nature but by being at one with it. They hate the unnatural, including aberrations or undead, and destroy them where possible. Druids receive divine spells from nature, not the gods, and can gain an array of powers as they gain experience, including the ability to take the shapes of animals. The weapons and armor of a druid are restricted by their traditional oaths, not simply training. A druid's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

11 May 2010

USA: Home of the Proudly Stupid

Oy. Via LGF, comes this:

Today’s right wing jawdropper: in Alabama, the “True Republican PAC” is running an advertisement mocking Republican gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne for supporting the teaching of evolution in schools.

Yes, you read that right — these “True Republicans” are so proudly, invincibly ignorant that they’re making fun of a fellow Republican for not being a moron.

Except — Byrne actually is a moron too, just like the “True Republicans.” And he’s outraged that his moron credentials were questioned.

Byrne responds to this “despicable attack” with a statement: “I have never wavered in my belief that this world and everything in it is a masterpiece created by the hands of God… I fought to ensure the teaching of creationism in our school text books.”


The group that’s funding the “True Republican PAC?”

The Alabama Education Association.

09 May 2010

Kitteh Tacks!!!!

Lockwood's weekly feature, Sunday Funnies, is up and here's my personal fave of this excellent batch:

Go have a look-see fer yerselves....

08 May 2010

The Empire NAS Strikes Back

Via Little Green Footballs, I find this:

Open letter: Climate change and the integrity of science

We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular. All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.


Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers, are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence....

The letter is signed by 255 members of the (US) National Academy of Sciences, and the complete text is available at The Guardian online.

01 May 2010

Resistance is Futile

I'm not normally a big fan of GIF animated images, because the go and go and go and go, but the intersection of ST:TNG and the BSOD is irresistable. (h/t to Lockwood)
GIF moved to here.