Friday, December 19, 2008
So if you don't hear from me, just know I wish you the merriest of Christmas's, the most joyous of Soltices, Kwanzas... whatever your inclinations may be, enjoy them.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
1) No known species of reindeer can fly, but there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified. While most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.
2) There are 2 billion children in the world (persons under 18), but since Santa doesn't (appear) to handle Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or Buddhist children, that reduces the workload by 85% of the total - leaving 378 million according to the Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there is at least one good child per house.
3) Santa has 48 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different times zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000 th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stocking, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding, etc. That means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, at tops, 15 miles per hour.
4) The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming each child get nothing more than a medium-sized Lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting the "flying reindeer" can pull TEN TIMES that normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine. We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison, this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth II.
5) 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance. This will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy per second, each. In short, they will burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and creating a deafening sonic boom in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized in 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa meanwhile, will be subject to acceleration forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by a 4,315,015 pound force. In conclusion, if Santa ever DID deliver presents of Christmas Eve, he's now dead.
The above was one of the very early gag emails circulating... it's hard to believe that's nearly 15 years ago. I was thinking earlier this week that I should try to find a copy and post it, but the LOL Science blog just posted it again; I have made a couple of minor alterations.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
But what really troubled me in The Guardian article was this quote: "And if the US president is to be regarded as a figure of moral authority, embodying the nation's values and beliefs, then Bush's personal behaviour has been exemplary compared to many incumbents, and notably that of his immediate predecessor, the intern-challenged Clinton."
Got that? It's OK to lead the nation falsely into war, killing (at a minimum) hundreds of thousands of people you claim to have "freed;" it's OK to subvert the constitution and undermine the very foundation and structure of power in your country, setting the ground work for who knows how many crises; it's OK to hold prisoners without charges, indefinitely- heck, it's even OK to torture them, 'cause 1 in 10 might know something of use, as long as you say "oops, my bad" to the other 9- and actually, even that's not really necessary; it's OK to stage a photo-op with your good buddy McCain and his birthday cake while thousands of people drown or barely survive in third-world squalor- and it's fine to ignore the aftermath for years; it's OK to lie about "the controversy" surrounding global warming, evolution, endangered species, toxins in the environment, ad nauseum; it's OK to give cushy jobs to buddies that are absolutely unqualified for them, and come to that, it's OK to be absolutely ignorant regarding actual, established facts on every single issue pertaining to your own job (beyond how to run divisive, lying and ultimately successful campaigns)- after all you just decide: you don't need to know anything but your gut. It's OK to obstruct every option we might have had regarding oversight on our economy; it's OK to underfund the SEC and every other government arm intended to keep some restraint on the rapacious greed of your base, the haves and the have mores. It's perfectly OK to fuck 95% of the people in this country (and it's looking like the rest of the world too), in fact, according to this jackass in The Guardian, all of those things and more are "exemplary."
But for God's sake, don't have consensual sex with an intern, because- gracious!- that would be immoral.
I am deeply irritated by advertising, and one of the great joys of the blogosphere is that you can get away from it. I will not host Google's ad (non)sense on my blog, and I will not allow anonymous spammers to use my space for their own enrichment. A number of people have posted links in comments that are relevant and interesting- and that's wonderful: another perk of the bogosphere. But I won't have commercial BS on my site.
I guess I'm not so keen on putting a building up on stilts to keep it safer in the event... false confidence and all.
Many coastal Oregon communities are on uplifted marine terraces, well out of direct danger from tsunamis. Whether landslides and solifluction are an issue for many of these (in the event of a Cascadia earthquake), I don't know. But a number of communties, such as Cannon Beach and Seaside, are just a few feet up on sand bar and dune substrate. In addition, many communities are based around estuaries- harbors and fisheries are among the major sources of income along the coast, along with forest products and tourism. So for example, Newport, the town on the coast directly west of me, is mostly at an elevation of between 100 and 150 feet, but the bay and surrounding lowlands, while small in area, are pretty heavily built up. So having a good sense of the maximum flood extent of a tsunami could save many lives, even in communities that are mostly out of harm's way.
Incidentally, the project and pamphlet cover Cannon Beach; Seaside (Tseaside is, I guess, the Japanese spelling) is the next community north.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I think you'd need a fair background in geology to understand how important this is, but simplifying, Hawaii is composed of a first generation melt from the mantle, similar to ocean crust- both are dominantly one flavor or another of basalt. To get something like the composition of continental crust, you either need to remove (by fractional crystalization) 95+ percent of the original basalt, leaving the lowest melting temperature fraction behind, or you need to remelt the material one or more times. The latter has the same effect as the former: segregating the materials with the lowest melting temps from those with the highest.
Dacite is much more like continental rock than it is like basalt.
Further, as noted above, the material still has its initial volatile composition (gases such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide or hydrogen sulfide, and water). While it may have been contaminated by the drilling fluids, we know exactly what the composition of those fluids are: we can subtract that contaminant out. We also know where the magma chamber is; we can sample various spots to see how composition varies from one place to another.
I expect the geoblogosphere will be all over this in the next few days, but only a fellow geo-nerd can really understand how interesting this is.
MSNBC has a tongue-in-cheek report that actually describes what happened (you're so hopelessly out of date, MSNBC. Don't tell people what actually happened- we need to know what she was wearing, and what various pundits think the long-term effects will be.), and it's about what I had guessed. They also report that Perino is referring to it as her "shoe-venir!" Ha, ha, ha! She's just so perky and cute!
Frankly, though, there's a pattern here. 1: Bush commits awesome mistake that 2: Pisses someone off, who 3: Commits poorly-advised violence, the effects of which 4: Fall entirely on unrelated innocent bystanders.
The difference here, of course, is that Perino is complicit with BushCo. nonsense and doubletalk. She is its chief spokesman. Sometimes, despite the machinations of Bush, Cheney and Rove, what goes around does come around.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I also suspect that I used more electricty last night in heat than I've used in the last two months combined. Exaggeration, maybe, but it's actually the first time since I moved in to this apartment in May 3 1/2 years ago, that I left the baseboard heat on all night. Mid-fifties is OK by me; mid-forties is not- and at that point I'm risking freezing pipes in outer walls.
We're supposed to get down to mid-teens this evening, the coldest it's been here in maybe five years. In reality, it's pretty cloudy right now, and if they don't move out, I'll bet we don't get down to 20. Cold for the rest of the week, though highs and lows both are predicted to slowly climb, and snow showers from time to time, but no more major accumulation.
And yes, the cat was very happy when I let her back in about 10:30. I'm sure she'll be happy to see me come home this evening.
A question I have frequently discussed with others, but never had definitive answers to, was finally adressed by DCap (front page here) back in October: What happens if a nominee becomes unable to serve at various points in the process between the party convention and the inauguration?
He highlights, with his wonderfully cynical humor, four key dates:
-November 4th, 2008 - the general election. Remember we are voting for electors from each state – NOT the candidate directly.I've been meaning to link to this post for a while- it's a bit confusing, but it's important to understand: This is the way we run our country! I have learned more about US politics and history from DCap than from any teacher, and I highly recommend his blog if that kind of thing interests you. I would have forgotten that today was the electoral vote if another blogger hadn't mentioned it.
-December 15th, 2008 - the electors casts their votes. Remember technically the electors (who are party loyalists) can vote for whomever they want.
-January 6th, 2009 - the opening of the joint session of Congress. The electoral votes are officially counted, certified and the winner is declared.
-January 20th, 2009 - Inauguration Day, when the winner is sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Long story short, whatever you may have been led to believe, today is the day we find out who wins the presidency for the next four years. We'll see if any of the media (outside the blogosphere) bothers to report on it.
Followup: Yay! MSM comes through in the form of KATU, a Portland TV station. KUDOs, KATU! Oregon has voted for Obama (7 whole votes!).
What the hey. Whee!
I do think this would be a fantastic way to show our gratitude for his brilliant leadership and hard work over the last eight years.
A buddy in an email list suggested that people find the nastiest, filthiest shoes they can and send them to George W. Bush. I think it's a great idea, so see if you can find an old shoe along the side of the road or at a second-hand store. Pack them up and sent them to George Bush.
The Hon. George W. Bush
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
President George W. Bush
c/o George W. Bush Presidential Lieberry
Southern Methodist University
6425 Boaz LaneDallas TX 75205
Don't forget to put in some note about the shoes are in recognition of his service to this nation.Let's flood Bush with filthy footwear!
Followup: Interesting tidbit on CNN this morning, before I came in to my favorite coffee shop... I trust CNN with my news like I'd trust an alligator with my cat, but still. Apparently the shoe bomber is being treated as a hero in Iraq- not officially, but by the media and on the street. Opinion is split, but those who think the journalist should be punished feel that he comitted an offense against Al-Maliki, the Iraqi president. Under Islam, a person who has been welcomed as a guest is to be treated, essentially, as family. No matter whether the guest is a sworn enemy of your nation or your people. Assaulting a guest is the equivalent of assaulting the host- in this case, though the shoes were clearly aimed at Bush, they were (symbolically) also targetting Al-Maliki. In the minds of the Iraqi people, and according to CNN, under Iraqi Law, this is the issue that will be sorted out. I have to say, there's a sort of je ne sais quoi to this that I'm really enjoying.
Followup 2: I suppose this was inevitable. (GIF animations of other stuff being thrown at Bush.
Followup 3: And the ensuing hilarity just keeps... umm... ensuing. (Flash game- shoot the shoes out of the air before they hit the prexy.)
Followup 4: The NYT has an article backing up much of what was reported on CNN. Again, note that few, if any, are condemning the act itself, but those who do condemn the symbolism inherent in the act feel it violates the Islamic concept of hospitality.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
More tomorrow, when I have a cup of coffee to keep my mitts warm.
1. See an erupting volcano [St Helens, several times]
2. See a glacier [Glacier NP, Cascades, Canadian Rockies]
3. See an active geyser such as those in Yellowstone, New Zealand or the type locality of Iceland [Yellowstone, Lakeview OR]
4. Visit the Cretaceous/Tertiary (KT) Boundary. Possible locations include Gubbio, Italy, Stevns Klint, Denmark, the Red Deer River Valley near Drumheller, Alberta. [I have undoubtedly crossed it at Drumheller, but didn't spend the time to actually find it. No bold on this one]
5. Observe (from a safe distance) a river whose discharge is above bankful stage [many times]
6. Explore a limestone cave. Try Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park, or the caves of Kentucky or TAG (Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia) [many, many- least known but worthwhile is probably OR Caves Nat. Monument, near Route 199 in the SW corner of the state]
7. Tour an open pit mine, such as those in Butte, Montana, Bingham Canyon, Utah, Summitville, Colorado, Globe or Morenci, Arizona, or Chuquicamata, Chile. [Nickle mine at Riddle OR, but none of the giants listed here, and numerous small operations]
8. Explore a subsurface mine. [generally stay out of these, but a few, and several guided tours]
9. See an ophiolite, such as the ophiolite complex in Oman or the Troodos complex on the Island Cyprus (if on a budget, try the Coast Ranges or Klamath Mountains of California)[Josephine ophiolite along 199 in N Cal, Klamath Mts.].
10. An anorthosite complex, such as those in Labrador, the Adirondacks, and Niger (there's some anorthosite in southern California too). [I don't think so]
11. A slot canyon. Many of these amazing canyons are less than 3 feet wide and over 100 feet deep. They reside on the Colorado Plateau. Among the best are Antelope Canyon, Brimstone Canyon, Spooky Gulch and the Round Valley Draw. [Zion]
12. Varves, whether you see the type section in Sweden or examples elsewhere. [Pleistocene and Proterzoic both in Ontario, Canada]
13. An exfoliation dome, such as those in the Sierra Nevada. [Sierra Nevada]
14. A layered igneous intrusion, such as the Stillwater complex in Montana or the Skaergaard Complex in Eastern Greenland. [Beautiful cumulate ultramafics in the Strawberry Mts, OR; Compositional zoning at Marys Peak, OR, and Palisades, NY... do those count?]
15. Coastlines along the leading and trailing edge of a tectonic plate (check out The Dynamic Earth - The Story of Plate Tectonics - an excellent website). [East Coast, West Coast]
16. A gingko tree, which is the lone survivor of an ancient group of softwoods that covered much of the Northern Hemisphere in the Mesozoic. [very pretty this fall; golden like aspens]
17. Living and fossilized stromatolites (Glacier National Park is a great place to see fossil stromatolites, while Shark Bay in Australia is the place to see living ones) [Glacier, Ontario]
18. A field of glacial erratics
19. A caldera [Yellowstone, Long Valley, Crater Lake, Newberry, Harney Basin is a suspect Caldera]
20. A sand dune more than 200 feet high [Oregon Dunes]
21. A fjord [British Columbia, Ushaia, Argentina, Antartica]
22. A recently formed fault scarp Owens Valley, Death Valley, East side of Steens in SE OR]
23. A megabreccia [Titus Canyon, Death Valley]
24. An actively accreting river delta [many from the air, New Orleans area]
25. A natural bridge [remember seeing it, don't remember exactly where- I think Virginia]
26. A large sinkhole [Florida, Mammoth Cave area]
27. A glacial outwash plain [common in Ontario]
28. A sea stack [Many from N Cal to BC]
29. A house-sized glacial erratic
30. An underground lake or river
31. The continental divide
32. Fluorescent and phosphorescent minerals [If you get a good black light, you'd be surprised how many minerals are fluorescent and phosphorescent- the trick with the latter is to let your eyes get really dark-adapted, then close them when you use the UV lamp to "charge" them. Open your eyes as you turn off the light; the phosphorescence may only be perceptable for a few seconds, but once you learn to spot it, it's unmistakeable]
33. Petrified trees
34. Lava tubes [more than I can count in central OR; Ape Caves on the south flank of St Helens]
35. The Grand Canyon. All the way down. And back. [in one day, February '78. Long story, but on a broken leg that I didn't know at the time was broken]
36. Meteor Crater, Arizona, also known as the Barringer Crater, to see an impact crater on a scale that is comprehensible [Also Sudbury, Ontario; much bigger, but I found it comprehensible. Older, mashed, yes, but you could get the sense of a big impact]
37. The Great Barrier Reef, northeastern Australia, to see the largest coral reef in the world.
38. The Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, to see the highest tides in the world (up to 16m)
39. The Waterpocket Fold, Utah, to see well exposed folds on a massive scale.
40. The Banded Iron Formation, Michigan, to better appreciate the air you breathe. [I've seen these, as well as Wisconsin and Minnesota, but the ones I've really looked at carefully are near Temagami, Ontario]
41. The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania,
42. Lake Baikal, Siberia, to see the deepest lake in the world (1,620 m) with 20 percent of the Earth's fresh water.
43. Ayers Rock (known now by the Aboriginal name of Uluru), Australia. This inselberg of nearly vertical Precambrian strata is about 2.5 kilometers long and more than 350 meters high
44. Devil's Tower, northeastern Wyoming, to see a classic example of columnar jointing
45. The Alps.
46. Telescope Peak, in Death Valley National Park. From this spectacular summit you can look down onto the floor of Death Valley - 11,330 feet below. [I've been close, but not all the way to the top, but I see others are ticking off having seen it]
47. The Li River, China, to see the fantastic tower karst that appears in much Chinese art
48. The Dalmation Coast of Croatia, to see the original Karst.
49. The Gorge of Bhagirathi, one of the sacred headwaters of the Ganges, in the Indian Himalayas, where the river flows from an ice tunnel beneath the Gangatori Glacier into a deep gorge.
50. The Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah, an impressive series of entrenched meanders.
51. Shiprock, New Mexico, to see a large volcanic neck
52. Land's End, Cornwall, Great Britain, for fractured granites that have feldspar crystals bigger than your fist.
53. Tierra del Fuego, Chile and Argentina, to see the Straights of Magellan and the southernmost tip of South America.
54. Mount St. Helens, Washington, to see the results of recent explosive volcanism.
55. The Giant's Causeway and the Antrim Plateau, Northern Ireland, to see polygonally fractured basaltic flows. [I've seen much very similar, but not these particularly]
56. The Great Rift Valley in Africa.
57. The Matterhorn, along the Swiss/Italian border, to see the classic "horn".
58. The Carolina Bays, along the Carolinian and Georgian coastal plain
59. The Mima Mounds near Olympia, Washington
60. Siccar Point, Berwickshire, Scotland, where James Hutton (the "father" of modern geology) observed the classic unconformity [This one would be jaw dropping...]
61. The moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley [Finally made it here last spring over break... Thanks Vance! Very cool]
62. Yosemite Valley
63. Landscape Arch (or Delicate Arch) in Utah
64. The Burgess Shale in British Columbia [Can the public visit this site?]
65. The Channeled Scablands of central Washington
66. Bryce Canyon
67. Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone
68. Monument Valley
69. The San Andreas fault [I wish I'd had more time to poke around though]
70. The dinosaur footprints in La Rioja, Spain
71. The volcanic landscapes of the Canary Islands
72. The Pyrennees Mountains
73. The Lime Caves at Karamea on the West Coast of New Zealand
74. Denali (an orogeny in progress)
75. A catastrophic mass wasting event [Frank, Alberta, plus many, many of lesser scale]
76. The giant crossbeds visible at Zion National Park
77. The black sand beaches in Hawaii (or the green sand-olivine beaches)
78. Barton Springs in Texas
79. Hells Canyon in Idaho
80. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado [this is another wanna]
81. The Tunguska Impact site in Siberia
82. Feel an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 5.0. [with an asterisk- I mistook it for a particularly big thump in the roadwork that was going on nearby; but when I got into work and was asked about it, I knew exactly which thump it was. I had noted the time.]
83. Find dinosaur footprints in situ [Conneticut Valley Triassic sediments]
84. Find a trilobite (or a dinosaur bone or any other fossil) [Trilobites in Ontario, Dinosaur pieces in Drumheller, Alberta, other fossils all over the place]
85. Find gold, however small the flake [Quartzville OR, Smith River CA, Gold Beach OR]
86. Find a meteorite fragment [bought several, but never found]
87. Experience a volcanic ashfall [St Helens]
88. Experience a sandstorm [Darwin, CA]
89. See a tsunami [I was there, but the "tsunami" was later reported to be only a few inches. So I was looking for it, but I didn't see it.]
90. Witness a total solar eclipse [August, 2017, I will. Probably a few feet from where I'm sitting right now]
91. Witness a tornado firsthand. (Important rules of this game). [Another I wanna, and I guess dust devils don't count]
92. Witness a meteor storm, a term used to describe a particularly intense (1000+ per minute) meteor shower [No, never with that intensity]
93. View Saturn and its moons through a respectable telescope.
94. See the Aurora borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights. [Ontario, northern Michigan, and oddly enough, northern Nevada- I was there with an astronomy person, and we decided what we were seing couldn't be anything else]
95. View a great naked-eye comet, an opportunity which occurs only a few times per century
96. See a lunar eclipse [never miss them, if the sky is clear. Miss them every time if it isn't]
97. View a distant galaxy through a large telescope [how large is "large?" 16 inch reflector count? It was still a fuzzy blob. An impressive blob, but still...]
98. Experience a hurricane [don't wanna]
99. See noctilucent clouds [I don't think so, though I had a brief false alarm this summer, and I've been looking hard. Reports say they seem to be on the increase]
100. See the green flash [pretty sure about this one. I was crossing the Columbia River between OR and WA at sunset, looking out over the ocean, and for a few moments the color was very odd. But I'm somewhat red-green color blind, so I've never been completely convinced I saw what I think what I saw]
I count 38 no's, giving me 62 yes's. I count loosing count more times than I can count.
Followup: This seems like a particularly virulent meme, at least to geoblogospherians. Here (in no particular order) are the victims I've seen: BrianR, Silver Fox, Christie, Bryan, Chris, Callan, Saxifraga, Kim, SciGuy315, Hypocentre, ReBecca, Suvrat, Seablogger, Maria, Volcanista, Lost Geologist, Tuff Cookie, JJ, and as noted at the outset, the index case, MJC Rocks. Chris has the scores posted at the end of his list. My post title, by the way, is an allusion to Roy's final speech in Bladerunner. If you're not familiar with it, the quote is under "Roy," here.