Saturday, August 8, 2009

Black and White and Hot All Over

The NYT has an interesting article about military concerns regarding climate change. Despite the claim in the following excerpt, I'm pretty certain I read of an earlier military study four or five years ago; this may be more in-depth, more detailed, but I believe the military has been expressing concern on this issue for some time.
WASHINGTON — The changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics, military and intelligence analysts say.

The conflict in southern Sudan, which has killed and displaced tens of thousands of people, is partly a result of drought in Darfur. Such climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions, say the analysts, experts at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies who for the first time are taking a serious look at the national security implications of climate change.

Recent war games and intelligence studies conclude that over the next 20 to 30 years, vulnerable regions, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia, will face the prospect of food shortages, water crises and catastrophic flooding driven by climate change that could demand an American humanitarian relief or military response.
Another group that bought into climate change early, interestingly enough, was the insurance industry. Imagine the liabilities involved with insured property, agricultural produce, deliveries to market, lives, medical costs, and on and on. You can bet they'd rather deal with a stable, predictable climate.

So in recognition of the many, many interest groups concerned about climate change, here is yet another in the series of GraphJam Climate Change posts; there are quite a few more in the comments at the original call for submissions. To experts, climatologists, meteorolgists and so on who appear to have started linking to this blog, I AM NOT an expert. I consider myself a widely scientifically literate person, with only a BS in Geology. The recent rash of climate posts is due to my amusement with the above-linked post. I often post on climate and weather related topics, but not as often as the last few days. Do not expect to find data and commentary with much substance unfamiliar to you.

On the other hand, if you enjoy intelligent coffee shop discussions, pull up a seat, and make yourself comfortable! (Click the pic for full size)
Followup, Sun. Aug. 9: I forgot that Explorer does not automatically link the posted picture to the source; the full size graph is here.

Real or Fake?

There's a big discussion over at The Intersection as to whether this is real or faked:

I come down firmly on the side of WOW!

Insecurity Measures

A German tourist at Heathrow took umbrage at being asked to remove his shoes, but he did comply. He also removed all the rest of his clothes.
"He was hardly built like Rambo and his bits were flopping everywhere. No one
knew where to look."
He was arrested immediately... I guess security was frightened by his weapon. Still, if more people were to do this, it might put an end to some of the more asinine airport antics of the Homeland Insecurity assholes.Italic

More Proof

Below, from an article from the LeftCoaster, are a couple of pictures of South Cascade Glacier in Washington State. In the above photo, note the small snowfield in the lower right...

And above, only 24 years later, it has grown enormously! It's almost on the verge of becoming a new glacier. Look folks, before you know it, there's going to be a boom in north side roof-top glacier control.

Just a word to the wise, you know.

Followup: A more explicit LOLZ treatment...

Some Say

I don't care who uses that phrase, it's wrong. Bush and his administration knew how to use it to convey lies and misinformation. Obama is using it to avoid offending those, like Palin, who deserve to be offended.
"As we draw close to finalizing -- and passing -- real health insurance reform,
the defenders of the status quo and political point-scorers in Washington are
growing fiercer in their opposition," Obama said, without naming names, in his
weekly radio and Internet address.

"Some have been using misleading information to defeat what they know is the best chance of reform we have ever had," Obama said, adding it was critical for Americans to have all the facts as they meet their lawmakers in home districts.
If "some have been using misleading information," like "death panels," identify them. Call them out. Call them the liars that they are. Dammit, fight for the truth rather than tip-toeing around trying to keep everyone content. No matter what you do, even if you miraculously cured every illness and injury in the country, obviating the need for health reform, there are 20 to 25% of the people in this country who are still going to hate you and oppose every single thing you try to do. Quit trying to appease them.

Lingering Problems

Chrome is still not working right for me, and I'm still doing a lot of my browsing in Explorer, and all of my blogging. On the plus side, I've learned a lot about the structure of the internet and how these attacks work... I certainly take bots a lot more seriously. I ran Spybot Search and Destroy twice yesterday. The first time, it had been several weeks since I last ran it, and it turned up about 50 malware pieces. The second time it had only been 3 or 4 hours, and it turned up 17, despite the fact that I had "immunized" on the first run.

Perhaps this computer was involved, perhaps it wasn't; I don't know how to be certain. However, the alert I was getting from google wasn't accusing this computer, it was accusing the server. When I asked someone else on a different computer to check my blog, he got the same alert and denial. So maybe someone else using the wi-fi in my favorite coffee shop was involved. I think, in the end, it doesn't matter, but I'm still irritable about not being able to use my preferred browser, and being forced to use one I seriously dislike. I may download Firefox today, which seems to be a pretty polarizing browser... people seem to either love it or hate it.

At any rate, I'm continuing to follow the story, not so much because I care about its effects and the personal nuisance it appears to have caused me, but because I find my dependence on the internet's software and hardware infrastructure fascinating, and because I want to understand it better.

Receding Recession?

Despite the "less bad" jobs report yesterday, I remain dubious that we are actually witnessing the end of this mess. Yes, banks and the rest of the financial sector are doing better... "better at what?" should be the question. Better at doing what they did to initiate the great recession in the first place? It's not clear whether the number of unemployed actually went down, or whether the discouraged- those who no longer even look for work- increased enough to offset the newly unemployed. However, when the most pessimistic economist alive starts saying positive things, I do need to keep an open mind.
...even Nouriel Roubini, the prophetically pessimistic economist who saw the
crisis coming (and doesn’t think the recession has yet ended), is now praising
policy makers. He recently urged that Mr. Bernanke be reappointed as Federal
Reserve chairman, saying he helped avert a “near depression that seemed highly
likely after the financial collapse last fall.”

Friday, August 7, 2009

You Can Count On Sarah

...to run out to the very edge of crazy town, then forge right out into the wilderness. And her shrieks from that wilderness send shivers of fear down the spines of all who hear, though my fears are quite different from those who want to hear her. The Alaskan socialist and her followers are terrified of socialism, brown people, teh gayz, fascism, other people having sex. I'm just worried about fascism. (Hat tip to EB Misfit and Brilliant at Breakfast)

Followup: I had set this aside for later, and later came around. On the same theme as Sarah's "Death Panel," "Republicans Propagating Falsehoods in Attacks on Health-Care Reform."

Why Does This Not Surprise Me?

Autopsy: Cocaine Had Role in Billy Mays’ Death.

Golly, who'da thunk that an obnoxious, loud, hyperactive, wildly gesticulating, absurdly over-enthusiastic madman might have been using cocaine?

Update

For the time being, I'm back working in Explorer, which feels clunky and slow compared to Chrome. But for whatever reason(s), Chrome can't/won't open many pages, the composer is completely messed up, and basically has become useless for many of the purposes I use it for.

So here I am back in Explorer, home of the thrice-daily crashes.

Below is a post I had up earlier this morning... all of my problems started soon after I posted it, and I copied the HTML over to a WordPad file, then deleted it, thinking perhaps there was someting in the piece that caused problems. Now I think that's unlikely.

Houston, Ve Haff Livtov!
Berlin's TV Tower heads into the wild black yonder.

From Der Spiegel; fun story. Also in Spiegel this morning, a European perspective on the US CO2 cap and trade efforts, and lessons learned from the European efforts toward that end.

Test Post



http://www.traileraddict.com/trailer/imginarium-of-parnassus/international-trailer

Not So Great, How 'Bout You?

Are others having problems with Google, Blogger, Chrome, or the net generally today? I'm a little frustrated and irritated...

Well This is Odd

Google is telling me my computer "may" be sending out automated messages. I've run spybot search and destroy, and there were some resident bots... but it still won't let me onto my blog. However, it is letting me into my "compose" window. Let's see if it lets me publish...

Followup 1:44 PM- This is very strange. My compose mode is messy, and I can enter plain text, but nothing else. A minute ago, I got to my blog for the first time in 2 or 3 hours; my video clips and most pictures are gone. I'm suspicious that this is a continuation of the denial of service attacks yesterday. Articles:

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/07/attack-on-twitter-came-in-two-waves/?8au&emc=au

http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Search-Engines/How-Google-Was-Impacted-By-The-TwitterFacebook-Denial-of-Service-Attacks-508087/

and a funny picture:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Wqo9IVCWV5E/SnxdwI0alpI/AAAAAAAACvI/g3Dz3XAtEIo/s1600-h/flying+saucer.jpg

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Progress

Following up on the previous post...Funny how the same data set, with some shifts, flips, and re-coloring can represent so many different things.

Graph Climate Jam Change Mashup

Tamino at Open Mind has started a Graph Jam climate change meme; I've pointed out a couple of relevant posts here in this blog, but here's one I just put together specially for that meme...Click for glorious full-size, and hop over to the first link to see the example posted there.

Disputes Sensible and Otherwise

Sean at Cosmic Variance, in the context of discussing a "debate" between young-earth creationist and scientists, introduced what he calls "The Grid of Disputation."
This thought has led me to introduce what I hope is a helpful graphical device, which I call the Grid of Disputation. It’s just a reminder that, when it comes to other people’s views on controversial issues, they should be classified within a two-dimensional parameter space, not just on a single line of “agree/disagree.” The other dimension is the all-important “sensible/crazy” axis.
I felt the the "crackpots" field needed to be renamed.

Also Sprach Zarathustra

The Monolith......is on Mars. But don't worry, there is a reasonable, natural explanation.

More Bird Brains

Yesterday I posted a video clip of a crow creating a tool to retrieve a bucket containing food. Today, the NYT has an article about rooks figuring out how to add stones to a container of water to raise the water level, bringing a floating food reward within reach.

This group of birds, the corvids, includes crows, rooks, ravens, jays and a number of other genera and species. As a group, they are incredible problem solvers. Here in western Oregon we have two species of jays: the scrub jay, which is quite similar to the eastern blue jay, but not as colorful and with no crest, and the Stellar's jay, which is similar in form, but with a crest and almost black with an irridescent sheen. Scrub jays dominate the valley floor, and the Stellar's tend to higher elevations. There were several summers I watched a scrub jay hang out on a oak branch extended over a street here on the OSU campus with a hazelnut in its beak. When a car approached, it would drop the nut just before the car passed under the branch. If the tires crushed the nut, it would fly down and eat. Otherwise it would fly down, grab the nut, fly back to the branch and wait for the next car. The closest hazelnut tree was a couple blocks away, but this particular street was the busiest one nearby.

While I dislike the noise that jays make, they are fascinating to watch.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pointless But Cool Short Vidclip of the Day

Actually, I'll bet there are many people who study fluid dynamics who would argue vehemently that this is not pointless. OK, I'll grant that. To me, the coolness factor alone is enough to make it not pointless. I'm still not changing the title. So sue me. But watch the clip first.
(From TYWKIWBI)

Sunrise, Sunset

A real-time illustration of our planet's illumination and weather systems. Click for full-size, or rectangular projection here. I have this hot-linked to the source, and I'm curious to see if it changes here in the blog. You can only just see it in the images above, but electrified regions show night lights as well. The sun here in my little burg is just heading toward the horizon... soon western Oregon will have its lights on too.

Note this is not a real-time photo; it's a pastiche of a whole lot of satellite imagery overlaid on a model globe with other data (night illumination, e.g.) added on. There seem to be a number of e-mail-type memes that go viral (as did the mercator map of illumination sources on the earth at night) that start with "This amazing photo was taken by shuttle astronauts on a very clear night..." This is not a photo, it's a spectacular simulation.

People Are Pissed

Steve Benin at Washington Monthly has an amusing piece on the health-care debate with the following quote:
"People are pissed," [Grover] Norquist said. "They've been lied to."
The second commenter notes:
I was at a HC rally in Chicago yesterday. One lady in the opposition crowd has a sign asking if government run health care was so great why don't members of congress sign-up for it.
I really need to start archiving these "Keep your big-government hands off my medicare" quotes; they are hilarious... until you realize what they mean about the mentality of our electorate and elected officials.

On the plus side, basically three-quarters of those interviewed in a new CNN poll recognize that our current system is untenable. I assume that the remainder is composed of the "23 percenters," who can't imagine that God would allow shrub to err, and who would happily drink sewage- and cyanide-laced Kool Aid if Rush Limpdick told them it would defeat socialism.

74% - They would help me and my family (30%) or other families in the country (44%).
20% - They won't help anyone.

Do you think it is or is not necessary to make major structural changes in the nation's health care system in order to make sure that all Americans have health care insurance?

77% - necessary
21% - not necessary

Do you think it is or is not necessary to make major structural changes in the nation's health care system in order to reduce health care costs?

74% - necessary
23% - not necessary


Followup: "Art Laffer (why is he, of all people, on my TV?) asks what it will be like when the government runs Medicare and Medicaid." From Krugman's blog yesterday. (If you don't recognize the name Art Laffer, and why Krugman protests his presence on TV, the Laffer Curve provided the economic basis for Reaganomics)

Followup 2: Actually, here's the transcribed remark (from here, via Library Grape)... "If you like the Post Office and the Department of Motor Vehicles and you think they're run well, just wait till you see Medicare, Medicaid and health care done by the government."

Bird Brains

No, not the preferred food of avian zombies, but the mentalities that exist therein.
I had read about this and similar experiments, but I'm awed to see the videoclip. From a report at PhysOrg. This behavior was first reported seven years ago, and I'm not sure why they're doing the press release now, but that doesn't detract from the awesomeness of the birdbrain.

This is Your Grassley on Grass

Stewart nails it.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Chuck Grassley's Debt and Deficit Dragon
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorSpinal Tap Performance
Toles nails it.
And Firedoglake nails it.

Choose your format: video, cartoon or text. Any way you slice it, the message is the same: if the Roman healthcare system was good enough for Jay-Zus, it's good enough for all you peasants.

What is it With Airbus?

One or two incidents, maybe, but it's getting to the point that when I read of an airline mishap, I'm expecting it to involve an Airbus.

Bush's Personal Military Force

EB Misfit found the Olbermann video from last night's "Countdown," featuring an interview with Jeremy Scahill, who broke the Blackwater story yesterday. Blackwater is known as "Xe" now.A number of bloggers this morning have noted that this revelation should be no surprise to those who have followed the Blackwater/Xe stories. I guess I haven't followed them closely enough.

This Gives Me a Serious Happy

Welcome Home!
From BuzzFeed, and there are some quite wonderful still photos of Euna Lee and Laura Ling greeting their families as they get off the plane as well at that link.

Followup: NYT has an afternoon story on this homecoming, and quite a few more photos.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tee Hee

© Copyright 2009 J.D. Crowe - All Rights Reserved.
I probably shouldn't find this funny, but I do. As I commented over at Dr. Monkey's Blog earlier, "Maybe the three of them can stop in Argentina on the way home, and go hike the Appalachian Trail together."

One Toke Over the Line

Okay, this has been a busy news day here at my favorite coffee shop. I have found plenty of amazing and amusing and hopeful and disappointing things to read and ponder today. Sometimes days like that happen. I can never predict when, but I can predict they will. But I have to stop right this minute and ask "What the hell have people been spiking my drinks with?" because this is effing insane! From The Nation via Balloon Juice:
A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."

In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting "illegal" or "unlawful" weapons into the country on Prince's private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.
Jesus, if this turns out to be true, I can't even begin to imagine the fallout and ramifications. To begin with, I imagine Iraq will declare war on us...

Facts Not Worth Reporting

I don't like reposting others' works in their entirety, but sometimes it's the only way to really get the point across. Furthermore, I know from looking at my blog stats that most visitors don't bother clicking over to the original source, and this is too important a point to allow it to pass without notice. Krugman's blog:
Long ago I said that if liberals said the Earth was round, while conservatives said it was flat, the news headlines would read “Shape of the planet: both sides have a point.” But I encountered a new wrinkle today.

I was tentatively scheduled to be on a broadcast dealing with — well, I won’t embarrass them. But first they had to find someone to take the opposite view. And it turned out that they couldn’t — which led to canceling the whole segment.

In a way this goes beyond my original point, which was the unwillingness of the news media to referee a controversy by actually reporting the facts. Now it seems that a fact isn’t worth reporting unless someone is prepared to deny it.

Frosty in the Greenhouse

See, if we just put that top hat back on the pole, everything will be fine. The NSIDC report for July is up, and it's very reassuring. The "God wouldn't let mankind destroy the planet" people are right! It's only the third worst July meltback on record, after '07 and '06. So it looks like this whack job (PhD in physics or no) has been vindicated: "...the best satellite data show that the Earth as a whole has been gradually cooling for a decade." (/snarky rant)So any line falling outside the blue tinted area are two standard deviations outside of the reference set, and would typically be described as "unlikely to occur by chance." I'm not going to say how unlikely, for a number of reasons. But the 2006 values for July would have fallen between the '07 and '09 values, and the July '08 plot (below) was almost as low as this year's.
But I can still draw a line from July 2007 to July 2009 and predict an imminent ice age.I think we should drill the Arctic for whatever oil we can get at while the getting's good. Then we can put on the top hat.

Go Read

This.

Thank God Almighty, Free At Last!

...I imagine the two pardoned journalists thinking to themselves. I had seen Clinton's trip noted in a couple of places yesterday with some hope, but hadn't really read much in detail. The CS Monitor had a nice report this morning, laying out some of the broader issues that would likely come up in the meeting, and I just finished another report from the Guardian confirming in press-spokesmanese that there were indeed a number of issues discussed beyond the successful plea to free Euna Lee and Laura Ling.

I'm very pleased. I don't trust the leadership of that country any further than I can throw it, but as I've discussed here and here, with an uncertain succession looking likely, I'd much rather our diplomatic relationship be warmer than cooler.

Hillary Has Joined the Birthers

I guess we're going to get to the bottom of this whole question, "Africa or Hawaii?" Hillary's in Kenya. Backstabber.

How We Use Our Time

The average person in the US spends 8 minutes a day using a computer. I found that hard to believe, but then I realized much computer use would be hidden in "work," "leisure," and other categories.

I probably spend 12 hours a day on one computer or another. But then, I'm an anomaly.

At any rate, there's an absolutely fascinating interactive graphic at the NYT, that shows how, in composite and by various demographic breakdowns, Americans spend their time. (Click to see in detail; this is not the interactive version, just a screen capture.)
I just spent fifteen minutes- twice the typical computer use each day- exploring it. And another ten minutes or so putting this post together.

Two Canteens

On July 29 of 2008, Vanity Fair posted the following caricature of shrub:
Over the last 24 hours, this similar take on Obama has gone viral... though actually, tracking it down, it turns out it's actually been around at least since late April. But memes go viral on their own schedule; the fact the picture has been around for months is not really a surprise to me.
Haw Haw! Those nutters are so funny! I just wish they'd bother to look up the definition of "socialism."

As an aside, I don't see the reaction to this as "racist" as being terribly valid; it's just stupid. As another article pointed out, The Joker was an anarchist reacting to an overly strong (socialist?) government. In fairness, most of the wingnutty metaphors and images attempt to get racist symbolism involved. I just feel in this case, it's not an issue that jumps out at me any more than it does in the first Joker picture above.

All this reminds me of an article ten years ago, I believe in George Magazine, that had a profile of then-candidate W. It was that article that convinced me he was a very dangerous person. I don't remember much in the way of detail, but the quote that has always stuck in my head was this one: "If a fresh idea wanted to cross George W. Bush's mind, it would have to carry two canteens."

Guess that's true for fresh, original ideas and the whole right wing's minds as well.

And This is Precisely What They Want

I think Rawley was the person who told me about Not Always Right, a blog dedicated to customers who aren't. I don't think I've mentioned it here before, but I've been reading it for a month and a half or so. This post gave me both a chuckle and a grimace; I enjoy conflicting reactions.
A Runaway Train Of Thought
CALL CENTER | EUGENE, OR, USA
(A caller phones into our car rental company looking for a vehicle, but we’re sold out in every nearby location.)

Caller: “Why aren’t there any cars for me? Everyone I ask tells me they’re out of cars!”

Me: “We’ve been having a hard time keeping a hold on any cars with this tourist season.”

Caller: “Terrorism?”

Me: “No, ma’am, the tourist season. It’s been a really big push into your area lately, so Florida’s swamped.”

Caller: “Everyone’s been blaming the terrorists today. Why are we all letting the terrorists win?” *begins sobbing*

Me: “Ma’am, it’s tourists, not terrorists.”

Caller: “I’m an American! In America! Why are we letting them ruin my life? We can’t let these terrorists win!” *continues sobbing for a moment and then hangs up*

Happy Birthday, Barack!

48 years ago today, a baby was born of a white lady and an African man, deep in the heart of Kenya or Nigeria, or the Congo or something. Now that baby, grown into an inspirational leader of the enslaved world, is making us all have socialist gay marriages and participate in recreational abortions. As a straight, celibate, middle-aged white man, I couldn't be happier! I have an abortion on demand at least once a week!

Happy Birthday. Barack!

Followup: Awww! They both look so happy! He to have cupcakes, she to have a President that will (at least try to) answer her questions.

Monday, August 3, 2009

OK, This One Convinced Me

Obviously, we're going to have to send a heartfelt request to Caribou Barbie to take over the White House. (From Fark; click for full size.)

Baja Inches Northward

There was a fairly substantial earthquake in the Gulf of California this morning, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.9. The diagram below, from Arizona Geology, is primarily intended to illustrate the predicted maximum ground motions from quakes in the GofC/SoCal area, but also shows the regional tectonic structure nicely, as well as the location of this morning's largest event.The (generally shorter) lines running NE-SW are small segments of mid-ocean ridge, which through basaltic volcanism and emplacement of magma in the lower to middle crust, actually create new ocean floor. So picture arrows pointing outward from the segments with the described orientation, and you can see that the (generally longer) red line segments must represent areas where the blocks of ocean crust are sliding past each other: transform faults. Each one of those NW-SE trending lines is like a mini-San Andreas Fault.

When I read about this quake earlier, I quickly jumped to the conclusion that it was most likely a strike-slip quake, there would be little damage from it, and that the risk of tsunami was pretty low. Spreading earthquakes will tend to be relatively small, since the crust in those areas is hot and fairly ductile; it won't accumulate as much stress without plastic deformation. So it seemed almost certain to me that this would be a strike-slip earthquake. By definition, strike-slip quakes do not involve much vertical displacement- and it's vertical motions that displace water to create tsunamis. I don't know much about the bathymetry of the G of C floor, but a quake-triggered submarine landslide could have triggered one. Finally, since this was well out to sea (the closest town is 76 mles away), it didn't seem likely there'd be too much damage- even though a 6.9 is definitely a powerful earthquake.

The first I heard of this was from Garry Hayes' post at Geotripper, who also noted, "A 5.8 shock preceded the 6.9 event, which was followed by aftershocks at 6.0 and 5.0 magnitude." Even the fore- and aftershocks were pretty substantial. A few minutes later Arizona Geology chimed in for the first time with a nice Google Earth image to show the location and the region around it. Another piece from Arizona Geology asks readers who felt the earthquake to report their experiences to USGS- the quake was felt at least as far as Phoenix, Az, and these sorts of first-hand reports help seismologists fine-tune their motion and damage models.

So this one was a fine show, with little human suffering involved- I haven't read any reports of damage or injuries. Would that they could all be so innocuous.

Have Some Kool-Aid

From OregonLive

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Chaser's War on Everything

Yesterday, Rawley posted a very funny video on Facebook involving a spoof of a currently popular nonsense spiritual movement. Despite the comment I left on that piece, it was the first I had heard of the Australian show, The Chaser's War on Everything. Below is another clip (via Pharyngula), in which it is demonstrated that those claiming to believe in the literal truth of the Bible shouldn't be taken too literally.

Playing The Audience

Literally.

I've seen this video around on a number of posts this week, but I finally took the time to watch it. I can see why it's been on a number of posts this week. Bobby Mcferrin is composed of awesome.

Private Insurance Vs. Medicare

Krugman had an interesting piece a few days back that I set aside and forgot about. I stumbled across it a bit ago, and I think it's important enough to highlight:
...since 1970 Medicare costs per beneficiary have risen at an annual rate of 8.8% — but insurance premiums have risen at an annual rate of 9.9%.
I just calculated (1.099/1.088)^40, which should represent a 9.9% annual rise divided by an 8.8 percent annual rise, over a 40 year period; the result is 1.495. In other words, as Krugman points out, if insurance premiums had risen "only" as fast as medicare costs, they'd be a third less than they are. What he doesn't point out is the rising trend of medical insurance companies to find any and every reason to deny claims. So that 50% excess cost doesn't even buy you the same care, but much less care and much more hassle.

Sunday Funnies

I'm not feeling very inspired to weave a narrative through this one, so once again, here's the funnies in minimalist form. Ended up heavy on Star Wars this week; Vader makes numerous appearances.
http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/do-this/

http://kenyonb.com/news/?p=405
The version of the above graphic I saw in a couple of places was dark overall, and the contrast between Vader's silhouette and the background was low; I like the above version better. Go over to the blogger's site to see two other versions.

http://peeancefreeance.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/palinprez.png
I've received a couple of comments from Palin 2012 supporters- that's fine; I like alternative viewpoints as long as they're civil, as the comments are. But is the above what you really want?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/15-billboards-that-dont-belong-next-to-each-other/
(There are fifteen poorly-paired billboards at the above link)

As I've said before, I think plastering "FAIL!" across a picture is gratuitous overkill. Let the fail speak for itself. I went and found the uploader's original picture with the failblog logo.


http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2007/12/star-wars-fun-part-2.html The next three are all from the same post; the link is after the third picture. There is also a part one in this series I haven't looked at yet... the link to that is at the bottom of part two (above) and part three (below)



http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2009/07/star-wars-for-your-mind-heart-and-soul.html

http://criggo.com/2009/07/31/mmm-mmm-good/

http://www.explosm.net/comics/1751/

http://criggo.com/2009/08/02/talented-cat/

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donald trump
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funny pictures of cats with captions
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song chart memes
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funny pictures of cats with captions
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mississippi totally looks like bart simpsons
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hillary clinton and natalie portman
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hugh laurie
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bill gates
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Have a good week, and I'll see you in the funnies!

Lake Victoria's Secret

I don't generally read travel pieces, but from time to time one catches my eye... today it was Richard Eller's piece in The Guardian:
Uganda's Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria were all but inaccessible for more than a decade. Now a new ferry service is letting the first pioneering tourists discover their soft white sands, blue waters and lush forests.
I've never been to Africa, and have no expectation that I ever will, but I do like learning about the world I live in. This looks lovely...
Lake Victoria, Ssese Islands, Uganda Photograph: Nick White/Nile River Explorers
Here's the Wikipedia article, and here's the Google Earth view:(Click for full size) There are lots more photos available for viewing in Google Earth... it looks like paradise. Let's get busy paving and mining!