Wednesday, August 20, 2008
But the fact is, one of McCain's big problems is that he is viewed with great suspicion by the far right- which has, for the last couple of cycles, been the real "base" of the Republicans. The dems have fielded a couple of tepid, uninspiring candidates in Gore and Kerry, and people have looked at Shrub and basically felt more of a personal connection to him. (I'm overlooking the fact that most middle of the spectrum voters, as best as I can tell, simply ignore stated policy) But McCain has to able to count on the far right to turn out for him as they did for Shrub; then he can sell his "maverick" "straight-talk" schtick to the middle. (I'm overlooking the fact that this "maverick" has voted with Smirky/Snarly 95% of the time, and that every time he actually delivers straight talk, he makes the most incredible gaffs that the media then must find some way to ignore)
But the point is, Lieberman is known first and foremost at this point for supporting the Iraq war. Second, as a dem that went independent after loosing his primary, then winning his Senate seat back. Third, as Gore's VP choice. He will upset the solid righties, who will be unable to accept that he's a dino (democrat in name only). He will upset those in the middle, who are solidly against the war. JD points out that it might be good for the Jewish vote, though I don't have the sense that Lieberman is terribly popular among Jews. He has been solidly pro-choice, which is an enormous strike against him from the conservative perspective. It's not clear to me what McCain sees Lieberman bringing to the table with him. I can only imagine many of the Conservative punditry is gnashing their teeth right now, trying to figure out how to put lipstick and mascara on this sow.
I, on the other hand, am not entirely displeased with the choice.
Followup: Apparently, I misinterpreted the discussion I was sort of half watching on CNN. McCain (as best I can tell) has not announced Lieberman as his choice. What he has been doing is asking GOP leadership what they'd think about a pro-choice VP. Which points at Lieberman or Ridge. From McCain's position, I think Ridge would be a better choice- I think he got a raw deal as head of Homeland defense, a monsterous bureaucratic mash-up assembled like Frankenstein's creature, with no consideration of outcomes. From my perspective, I hope he picks Lieberman.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
- article on lightning from a Canadian magazine
- slow motion lightning strike
- lightning in a jar
- the geological reason the mid-Willamette Valley has hotter weather than Portland
We almost never have lightning here because the air during hot weather is too dry. Hot, humid air is "unstable;" when it rises, it decompresses and cools. As it cools, water condenses. The latent heat of phase transformation heats the rising parcel of air compared to the stationary air around it. So it wants to rise more. This positive feedback process can force a rising column of air to rise up to 30-35 thousand feet, approximately the transition between the troposphere (the lower, mixing layer, where temperatures generally fall with increasing altitude) and the stratosphere (the next higher level, where temperatures generally rise with increasing altitude: this means the stratosphere tends not to mix very much. Colder, lower layers wil not rise into warmer overlying layers). The condensation in the troposphere leads to precipitation, and friction between water droplets leads to electric charges building up, which leads to lightning.
It was clear on Friday and Saturday that the humidities were much higher than normal. Dewpoints were in the low 60's, which, while not unheard of, don't normaly come with the high temperatures we were having at the time. Typically, when we have our hottest weather, the air is moving in from the Eastern Oregon desert, and it's very very dry. (Last summer, I saw what I believe is the lowest relative humidity I've ever experienced: 8%. I could feel my eyes wrinkling up like transparent rasins.)
That may change. It never occurred to me that they would have Bugs Bunny cartoons archived there. Do they even show the old classic Looney Toons on telebision [sic] anymore- I mean they gotta promote stuff that sells tie-in merchandise, and superheroes that will get made into blockbluster [sic] movies, right? Who cares if the cartoons are actually entertaining? Warner Brothers used to...
Couple of cool multi-exposure pictures from the recent eclipse (See posts here and here). The first is from Earth Science Picture of the Day today(let's call that a scite- see here for explanation; I've generally been pretty impressed with their choices). Full-sized version here. The second highlights Baily's beads, which are the result of sunlight shining through low places- "valleys-" as the moon-sun alignment approaches and moves away from the total eclipse. From Astronomy Picture of the Day (a previous scite), yesterday. Full size here. And just think, only nine years and two days before I get to see this first-hand for myself.
Also, the base plate is made of aluminum, so technically this is an aluminum, not an iron. But the title "Aluminumy Alert" didn't strike me as real catchy.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Sadly, it is no longer true. Both Russia and Georgia have McDonalds.
There's nothing you can trust. Get used to it.
Oobleck is a lot of fun to play with, though the childish name that's tacked on to it is a little grating to me. Why not just call it "cornstarch and water?" Do we assume children will be be uninterested if we don't give it a silly name? But the activity is a favorite of elementary teachers (you don't need to know any science to do it, and it's safe), and the name is pretty much fixed, I think. Typically, the mix is made up, sometimes with coloring for nice effects and the kids play with it. Typically, no real science is done with either (as you can see from the first paragraph, the core concepts are not elementary- though there are descriptive and predictive aspects that could be addressed that generally aren't). And typically, only a few cups total are enough for a classroom of kids.
But what could you do if you had a whole swimming pool of the stuff?