Saturday, February 13, 2010


A piece that I never owned, but loved to hear on OSU's KBVR radio station. Severed Heads, Dead Eyes Opened:

I have never been able to completely distinguish the spoken word portion of this piece, so I went and tracked down the "lyrics." (Are they lyrics if they're spoken?) I had also been under the vague impression that this was actually based on a historical document, but haven't been able to find any info. I take that to mean that it's more likely fiction.
"By strange coincidence, a thunderstorm had been brewing when Mahon, doing
his grisly work at the bungalow, was dealing with the most grisly job of all--the head, the woman's head. He had severed it from the trunk, built a huge fire in the sitting room, placed her head upon it, then (I owe a debt here to Edgar Wallace, who edited the transcript of the Mahon trial), then the storm broke with a violent flash of lightning and an appalling crash of thunder. As the head of Emily Kaye lay upon the coals, the dead eyesopened, and Mahon fled out to the deserted shore. When he nerved himselfto return, the fire had done its work. The head was never found..."

Blancmange, Living on the Ceiling:

Fad Gadget, Life on the Line:

Snow, Or the Lack Thereof

A piece came through USGS FAQ's earlier, with the question "Which of the Cascade Volcanoes is most heavily glaciated? Rainier is not only the tallest of the Cascades, it is massive. So for me at least, the question of first place was a gimme. Trying to guess what second place might be, I decided on Baker, which is sort of a "standard-sized" Cascade peak. It's shear mental laziness on my part, but a surprising number of the major peaks are between 10 and 11 thousand feet in elevation. Baker is further north, and therefore might be expected to be colder, than the rest of the US peaks. And finally, I recollected this, which was mind-boggling when I read about it 11 years ago and still is:
Mt. Baker, Wash., has set a new record for the most snowfall ever measured in the United States in a single season, the U.S. Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Monday.

The Mt. Baker Ski Area in northwestern Washington State reported 1,140 inches of snowfall for the 1998-99 snowfall season.
Yes, you read that right... 95 freaking feet of snowfall in one winter season. I just checked, and yes, that's also a world record. Snow packs down, and in our mild climate, melt-back can happen any time during the winter even at fairly high elevations. So I doubt that at any given time the actual snow pack reached even half of that depth... though I don't know. But look around where you are, and try to find a building or tree that you estimate as roughly 45 to 50 feet high. Then imagine snow up to that level.

Oh, by the way, Baker is second for Cascade Glaciers.

Which brings me to the second half of the post I forgot to finish below: "Olympic Mess." I'm not sure if the news is being widely disseminated (though I know I've mentioned it at least a few times), but we are having an extraordinarily warm winter, and the season has also been somewhat drier than usual. Last fall it was recognized than an El Nino was developing, and that made it fairly predictable that the winter would be warmer and drier than usual for the PNW, while California would get walloped with wet storms. The implications for the Olympics, being held in the same climate (in broad strokes) as the one I inhabit, were clear. Snow would be thin, wet, and icy.

As it has turned out, it's not even that good. They're bringing snow in by helicopter and by truck from as much as 3 hours away. So consider this yet another example of the distinction between weather and climate.

Another news item that came across the innertubz was this bit on the luge course from The CSM:
More than 30,000 runs have been made on the track by the three sports that use it: bobsled, luge, and skeleton. Out of that total number of runs, some 340 sleds had turned over, a crash ratio of 1.12 percent. (No statistics were available on the number of crashes in luge specifically.)

But the crash ratio for the 2009-10 season was higher (1.93 percent), with more than three times as many turnovers compared with last season despite having fewer runs this year. Svein Romstand, secretary-general of FIL, the International Luge Federation, said that the crash ratio was comparable with other tracks.
It troubled me, watching the Olympic coverage last night, how much time was spent trying to assign and deflect blame. It was a tragic accident in a dangerous sport. I could say a lot more about this, but I'll limit myself to saying that padding the post(s) is an asinine idea that only news and sports anchors might come up with. The guy was traveling nearly ninety miles an hour with a mm or two of spandex to protect him. There is no way he cold slow down in less than tens of feet without being at risk for injury or death. The only solution I could see was raising the wall to keep human projectiles confined to the run. (There are a couple of others which have apparently been implemented: starting lower to reduce top speed, and slightly reshaping one of the turns to make it easier to navigate.)

BTW, NBC, I saw the vidclip yesterday with the note that it was stunning and sickening, and the followup that the luger had died. I was able to make the decision not to watch it. I do not find it entertaining to watch fatal injuries (injuries generally, in fact). I disapprove in the strongest terms of your decision to air it repeatedly with very little warning.

And just one more bit of trivia to wind this post up and bring it full circle: Whistler-Blackcomb are two of the northernmost volcanoes in the Cascades. Only Garibaldi is further north in the chain.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympic Mess

I may turn on my TV-for the purpose of watching commercial television- for the second time in a year to watch some of the Winter Games. You have likely heard by now that a luger was killed during training, when he lost control traveling at about 88 miles per hour. and was thrown into a beam. I've always found luge to be an enthralling sport due to the sheer speed at which the athletes travel, and I've always known it must require a higher level of skill than it appeared. Still, this description is blood-chilling:
In sum, luge is about as easy as driving a car with bald tires full speed down a curvy road in a snowstorm and trying to keep the tires exactly on the yellow line – all while steering with your feet and looking at the ceiling, being able to see only out of the corner of your eye.

Can Someone Clarify?

There's an interesting but somewhat confusing article in Der Spiegel today on new findings from speleothems in the caves of Mallorca. I had to go to Google maps to clarify the island's location; it's a little farther to the northeast than I remembered.

View Larger Map
Ah-ha! I had never noticed the "link" button in Google Maps before. Behold my first embedded map! The central finding is that sea levels through time can be measured by carefully examining the variations in composition of calcium carbonate caves deposits. So far so good. The geologists' work indicates that sea level was approximately one meter higher than today's level 81,000 years ago- at a time when the growth of glaciers should have been drawing sea levels down. Unexpected, perhaps even startling, but OK. Next, they claim that "The seas around Mallorco rose perhaps by as much as two meters in 100 years, according to Dorale's team." Now that is definitely startling, and raises lots of questions. But the thing that is really dissonant to me is this paragraph:
Mallorca is a good place to study these changes because the island barely moves, the scientists say. It's tectonically stable, and the buildup or melting of glaciers hasn't raised or lowered the island. The stalagtites and stalagmites, moreover, have have collected deposits of calcite from the ocean, and these deposits give up secrets like rings in a tree. Dorale's team dated the deposits by measuring the radioactive decay of uranium traces. "We've reconstructed sea levels with a high degree of precision," Dorale told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
Now I'm not really knowledgeable about the region, but I had been under the impression that most of the Mediterranean-European coast was considered seismically active. Is the eastern portion really considered stable enough to discount tectonic and isostatic changes in the land level compared to sea level? Over 81,000 years, even a small uplift averaging a hundredth of a millimeter a year would amount to 0.8 meters, most of the change identified. However, people don't get their work published in Science while overlooking such obvious concerns, so I do suspect I'm the one misinformed here.

Whatever the case, there are some interesting climatic implications to this article. One question raised at the outset is "What if glaciers melt faster than anyone has suspected?" That particular question has been getting a lot of attention in scientifically literate circles over the last couple of years. The arctic melt back of 2007 and recent work in Greenland and Antarctica tentatively suggest that glaciers can disappear faster than had been believed, so a better question might be, "How can or should we respond if glaciers melt faster than anyone has suspected?"

The accompanying photogallery only has four pictures, one of which is a generic glacier, but the three taken inside the caves, including the lead picture above, are lovely. The colors in the picture I linked blow me away.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Just Another Baby Blog

Baby in the sense of very, very young... not in the sense of chronicling each input and emission to or from a human infant, nor the travails of its parents. I just put up the first post in a blog I registered last spring, Well That's Odd, when I started helping out with the Accretionary Wedge. (BTW, I'm a little underwhelmed with the response to my "Flash Wedge" idea... if folks can't be bothered to find an interesting link and drop it in the comments, this is going to be a long, hard slog.) As I describe there, I was happy to have the space, but wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it. Problem solved: science humor.

Here's a secret I didn't reveal there: part of the reason I wanted to do this was that I wanted to better comprehend how the Wordpress platform works. Pretty much everything I can do in Blogger is something I've spent frustrated hours figuring out, even though in the end it most often ends up being intuitive and obvious. Wordpress still is mostly mysterious to me, and it has a lot of bells and whistles that probably do wonderous things, like give everybody a pony, or give the senate life, absorb CO2 and stuff like that. I'm pretty sure, after (wow) nearly two years experience on this platform, that Blogger doesn't have any buttons like that. But enough about me. Go see what oddity I found for you today.

I Love a Good Takedown

From Steve Benen's Political Animal,

David Brooks: Gail, there I was watching the snow drift down on the Brooks estate in suburban Maryland last Saturday, when suddenly, after some spluttering and coughing, I was without power. Now I know how the Republicans feel.

Gail Collins: David, I think the Republican analogy would work only if your next step was to barricade yourself in the power station, turn off service to all the people who did have power and announce that nobody was going to do anything until the company promised to build its next generator on your block and employ all your family, friends and neighbors at handsome salaries to do the assembling. But I'm sorry, you were saying about the snow...

The full discussion is here; Benen's larger point is the fact that the filibuster is in the way of getting any of the legislature's duties accomplished. Collins gets in another good comment at the end of the online exchange:
Actually, I think we just need one simple change that will get us back to the good old days when Congress was capable of passing standard legislation and could occasionally summon the will to make large, imperfect fixes of urgent national problems.

Get rid of the Senate filibuster. It wouldn’t make things tidy. It wouldn’t be utopia. The Democrats will miss it next time they’re in the minority. But when people elected a government, it would get to govern again. And probably, it could keep the lights on.

I'm not always in agreement with Collins, but on both points in the latter paragraph, I am. It wouldn't solve all the problems. But it would at least it would allow the Senate to do its job. The issue isn't just that the Senate isn't completing the obligations with which they are Constitutionally charged, it's that as things stand now, it is utterly unable to do so, and looks as if it will remain in the same state for the foreseeable future.

Flash Wedge!

How quickly can an Accretionary Wedge be accreted? We're about to find out...

In the spirit of experimenting, let’s try this: find an engaging geoscience link you’ve come across in the last day or two that you want to share with the geobloggosphere. You may, but don’t need to, write anything. It might be a piece you’ve written for your own blog, a news story, a comic or a video. The only limitations are that it should be relevant to the geosciences (not necessarily geology), it should be broadly accessible (if there’s a paywall or I can’t get to it, I won’t include it), and it must be SFW. I’ll check them out, write a brief summary, pluck a picture if the mood strikes (pictures not necessary, though) and post it at Outside the Interzone, updating as links come in.

To be clear, all you need to do is 1) find an engaging geoscience-related piece anywhere on the web, 2) make sure it passes the limitations above, and 3) drop a link in the comments on this post.


To answer commonly asked questions, no, you don't need to be a professional or knowledgeable geologist. No, you don't need to be a "member" of the geobloggosphere, though if you're not but you DO have a blog, please link that too, or give me it's name so I can back link you. Yes, you do need to have internet access and a pulse. That is all.

(Cross posted at the Accretionary Wedge)

Here's mine, from NOVA Geoblog yesterday. Callan does an excellent job of explaining that disastrous events can happen without being "disasters." What makes an event a disaster is the preparation for and response to events that can be foreseen... or lack thereof.

Update 1, February 12, 11:00 AM: And here we go...

Anne Jefferson, co-blogger extraordinaire at Highly Allochthonous says:
OK, I'll kick things off by supplying two of my retweets from the past few days.

First, via ChrisR and Ron Schott, a press release describing a January Geology article about a new advance in using cosmogenic nuclides for estimating erosion rates in watersheds: (Also, there's a video.)

Second a post from Andy Russell summarizing where the real holes are in climate science:
(Hint: It's not what the cranks would have you believe.)
I had read the second of those, but not the first. I think they're both worth the time. Question: is Be-10 stable? (Don't worry, I know how to use teh google; I'll track it down later).

Chris Rowan, also at Highly Allochthonous, ponders... pauses... and decides!
Hmmm, so many things to chose from!

How about:

An interesting take on the Haiti earthquake: does the fact that everyone was "surprised" by it - despite the fairly specific warnings - provide a depressing model for how civilisation is (not) going to react to the looming threats of climate change and resource shortages: ignore before, shocked after?

Amazing photos of a 1km lava fountain and ash-plume lightning at Sakura-jima featured on The Volcanism Blog (the linked video is also worth a watch)
An old friend, Al, emailed me a link to The Volcanism Blog as well. You're officially a geoblogger now, Al.

Tuff Cookie of Magma Cum Laude says
I'll nominate some more Haiti-related stories: first, an entry from the NSF Geophysicists in Haiti blog, which is a great chance to see what geologists are doing to help people recover from the recent earthquake. This particular entry has some really striking photos - not just of destruction, but looking at things from the point of view of people trying to go about life as usual.

Closer to home for me, there's an article about one of UB's earthquake engineering doctoral students who is actually from Haiti, and was featured on a number of national news shows recently. UB's Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER) is one of the only places in the country where full-scale buildings and bridges can be tested for earthquake safety on shake tables, and they've recently sent a team of scientists and engineers down to Haiti to help assess damaged buildings there.
I was particularly interested in the second; It is very pleasing to know that at least one native will likely take these skills back to a country that so desperately needs them. I've been following NSF Geophysicists In Haiti, and was quite moved by this post as well.

Dr. Jerque, who I first read at Geologic Froth, actually works on several blogs, and has a new one as well, Geologic Frothings. His choice is
Lee Allison had a recent post about how subsidence in Wenden, Arizona may be contributing to flooding in the area (Centennial Valley, AZ):

An interesting possibility that is a cautionary tale (among many) for water managers in desert regions. Also, the sheer irony of this sort of 'hydrological reciprocity' is notable.
Coconino from Ordinary High Water Mark says,
Here's mine: A link to the Quivira Coalition website for a recent book by one of my favorite stream restoration gurus - Bill Zeedyk. I've had the opportunity to work with Bill on several occasions and I have great admiration and respect for all that he's been able to accomplish in the southwest in terms of good rural road-building, stream restoration and water education.
Another link I hadn't seen yet, this sounds really fascinating. Titled "Let the Water do the Work," and subtitled "Induced Meandering, an Evolving Method for Restoring Incised Channels," it appears to be an effort toward learning how to work with natural forces rather than attempting to dictate the environment. Geoscientists know that trying to dictate the environment is at best a short-term success, and even then, enormously expensive.

Silver Fox at Looking for Detachment sends these:
I really enjoyed this Little River video, tweeted by Anne Jefferson: Hydraulics over a weir.

Then, finally taking Kyle's suggestion I downloaded Geosetter and have been experimenting with geotagging.

I've seen many other interesting sites this week.
With that, I'll wind up this update, and take a break. This seems to be taking off...

Update 2: February 12, 12:24 PM

Geology Happens sends this link:
Teachers without borders have been looking at the Haiti recovery and using some lessons from their work in Chengdu China to start making plans. Here is their one page "what happened" link :
Head over and offer your congratulations to the new geo-grandpa.

Andrew of Geology fame and a couple of his own Oakland (CA) geoblogs writes,
A Twitter comment sparked a fun afternoon rereading James Hutton's original "Theory of the Earth" paper of 1788 and writing this short article on the days when geologists were all creationists:
But for something not written by me, I recommend this essay on the name of the Silurian Period, by the builders of Silurian Software:
Dave Schumaker of The Geology News Blog notes some extraterrestrial geology (Ares + Arenite= arenology?)
Who doesn't love aeolian processes? Sand dunes! On Mars!
Jmckee (no blog or link found) sends notice that Antigua is being affected by ash from Montserrat.
a little real time volcano action
Miguel Vera of MiGeo writes,
I really liked the USGS Corecast interview to the scientists involved in the Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping (PRISM) group, who are trying to reconstruct the global climate of the mid-Pliocene, a period when temperatures were 3ºC warmer than today, in order to get a better understanding of the possible future of the Earth due to climate change.

And just to highlight an article related to this side of the equator, I'd like to recommend a post from The Volcanism Blog I recently discovered (it's a few months old though): The ecological impact of the Chaitén eruption.
And I found a good picture to honor the 201st anniversary of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin's births.

Update 3: February 12, 2:39 PM: Keep 'em coming folks! After a slow start, we're having a really nice turnout. Also, if you happen to be dropping a comment at an earth science-related blog, could you extend an invitation to the celebration? I just did that at a new geoblog that I found in Ron Schott's shared items (click that last link for more geolinks than you'll know what to do with), Life is like a rock~Just lick it! A moment ago, I realized I had neglected to accrete the submissions over at the AW cross-post.

Callan Bently points out a post at Wooster Geologists. Wooster Geologists, let me thank you for dropping the Chuck Norris gags that were rampant last year.
Wooster Geologists give a presentation about the Haiti earthquake. A lot of it is old news for geologists, but slides 21, 22, 23, and 50 struck me as new information, at least to me.
Callan's Blog is apparently in the process of an avulsion, so I don't know if the link will be valid for more than a few days... OMG! It's ALIVE... No link. You might be able to find it yourself, but it's Callan's baby, and I'll let him break the news. (Looks really good, CB!)

Bob Jamieson sends in a link to the Joides Resolution Blog,
My boss/lecturer’s blog: Currently coring in West Antarctica.
The variety of science that has been done from that platform is pretty amazing.

And Ron Schott notes
I don't think Ole Nielsen's excellent "olelog" geoblog gets enough attention, so I'll highlight two of his recent posts that are right up my alley:

Feb 1: Rhomb Porphyry


Feb 2: Swedish Porphyries

(note: This has been corrected from an original reference and link to Anne Jefferson, a stupid mistake on my part resulting from the way comments come in to my inbox.) I agree with Ron; Ole has a great blog, and it's one I follow closely. It's clear, concise, and written at a nice level of technicality for me, meaty, but not too demanding of high expertise. Ron, have you figured out how to comment there? (I haven't even tried for a long time.)

And that brings us up to date for now.

Inside a Hangar At Dulles Airport

It took me a moment to understand what I was seeing... my first thought was "wow, they don't design those with much clearance." Then I thought, "Why are their noses up like that?" Oh my. From How's That for a Slice of Fried Gold. A commenter there also left a link to more photos of the collapse, which occurred last Saturday.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Bill mentioned this clip to me yesterday, and I finally came across it. I presume this was from Monday night's Colbert Report; it deals with the Palin r-word controversy. Brilliant.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorEconomy

Snowstorm Brings Washington D.C. to Complete Halt

Republicans complain things are still moving faster than they'd like.

Well, There Was This Earthquake, See...

"Haiti Gives Death Toll of 270, 000; No Explanation"

In fairness, the actual report is about uncertainty in the various numbers, and in fact, uncertainty in where the numbers are even coming from. But it's yet another example of editors' and journalists' apparent incompetence at reporting news, and going for the sensationalist angle. Say all you want about the impact of the web on traditional media, but this kind of thing isn't helping.

It would also be unfair of me not to at least mention that the actual article is important, riveting and heartbreaking:
It's common in major disasters to see large discrepancies in death tolls: Governments may use lower figures to save face, or higher figures to attract foreign aid. In Haiti's case, however, where the very institutions responsible for compiling information were themselves devastated, reaching a death toll is particularly difficult.

Oh Man, Oh Man, I am SO Buzzed

Well, Google Inc. has gone and added yet another pestiferous layer of something I didn't ask for onto its "services." Apparently, I'm now following every single person with a gmail address with whom I've ever had correspondence. Even though I already have a Google profile (yes, with a picture and everything), I have to create a Google Profile before I can sign into Buzz and do anything, you know, like decide which people I'm "following." Is this going to be forever? Is this real life? How do I turn this off? JAAAAANNNNE! Get me off this crazy thing!

Followup, 2:26 PM: Heh. Iran is also irritated and would like this noise to stop: "Iran to shut down Google email service."

Mentally Disordered

The NYT has an interesting article on changes and revisions in the upcoming new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the go-to resource for psychiatrists and others who work with the mentally ill. Mental illness is rampant in our population, but its magnitude is largely invisible. Sufferers in large part conform to societal expectations well enough that most people around them don't see their suffering; that doesn't mean the suffering isn't there, nor that there aren't enormous costs associated. It's an interesting article for a number of reasons, but this passage stuck out as particularly timely with respect to recent news.
In a conference call on Tuesday, Dr. Regier, Dr. Kupfer and several other members of the task force outlined their favored revisions. The task force favored making semantic changes that some psychiatrists have long argued for, trading the term “mental retardation” for “intellectual disability,” for instance, and “substance abuse” for “addiction."
What this implies is that "mental retardation" is still on the book as a valid diagnosis. It isn't an outmoded and discarded remnant of past medical practice that merely lives on in the pubic consciousness. I had been under the impression that the term was no longer used in the psychiatric community.

Now this is not to defend Rahm Emmanuel, nor Rush Limbaugh, nor to attack Sarah Palin, though I have a strong disliking of all three. It's merely to point out that "mentally retarded" is still a valid scientific term. That may change when the new edition comes out, but for the time being, politically correct or not, there are contexts other than satire where the use of that description is accurate and appropriate.

Followup, 1:45 PM: The Guardian has an article on the same topic and describing the importance, difficulty and sensitivity of this work in even more detail.

Volcanic Lightning

I know I've mentioned before that I really like photos of volcanic lightning. This one is from the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD), which I know I have also mentioned once or twice. Follow the link, and click the pic for glorious (truly) full size. As the blurb mentions, we don't have a very good understanding of what causes "normal" lightning, let alone volcanic lightning. But eruptions commonly have a lot of these electrical discharges, and I'm always a little surprised when knowledgeable meteorology people are surprised by such photos, and wonder if they're photoshopped. They're not. Below is maybe my favorite ever, from Chaiten's eruption last year. It's not nice to anger the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Accretionary Wedge?

This morning I received an email forwarded from a science editor/literary agent asking about the Accretionary Wedge, with respect to promoting a book of geological photos and descriptions. Below is my response. Names of the involved parties have been redacted with (XXXXX).
Thanks for the note, (XXXXX). I'm perfectly willing and able to "keep it going," to use your phrase, but we haven't been getting hosts, themes/ideas for AW's, nor most importantly, participants. Looking over the last couple, Tuff Cookie did a stunningly good job of fleshing out the three or four participants and linking scads of related sites and posts for "outreach." Dave Bressan only got 3 submissions for what I thought was a terrific topic in "unanswered questions." Given that this is the first time the issue of the AW's continuity has been raised (to me or at the AW site, at least) since TC's hosting nearly 3 1/2 months ago, I have to ask in all seriousness, is the geoblogosphere really all that interested?

I have considered posting about this issue at my own blog, but for reasons that make plenty of sense to me, I don't think the geoblogosphere pays much attention to it- I don't think the question would have the impact it ought to. And sounding like a broken record, "still looking for topics and hosts," at the Wedge's site was starting to become a little painful.

I have been pretty frustrated about it; I have enjoyed the AW both as a reader and a participant [and as an editor, I might add], and it pains me to see so many other carnivals in the biosciences, astronomy, physics and so on, flourish while the single geology carnival sort of withered on the vine. But I honestly didn't and don't know how to politely pressure people into actually taking the time to put together a post every month or so. Do you have any ideas?

To revive it now, for the purpose of promoting a book, seems to me somewhat distasteful. It may be a fine book or not, I don't know. But is this the face we want for the AW? What exactly would be the topic for such a post? Pretty Pictures? Most geobloggers do those posts as instinctively as breathing, and I'm not sure that would be a terribly engaging wedge.

Look, I'm willing to put quite a bit of effort into this carnival, but from the time I started, I've tried to keep a light hand on it, not make single-handed decisions, and count on the unparalleled enthusiasm of the geoblogosphere and its bloggers to provide direction. Perhaps I overestimated their enthusiasm.

I'll CC this to (XXXXX) and (XXXXX), and I'll also ask your permission to put this note up as a blog post, as is. This has been tough to write; I feel a little like I'm being asked to make the final decision for a loved one on life support. I want to emphasize that I'm willing to do whatever I can to keep the AW going, but I can't live the loved one's life. I can't be the Accretionary Wedge. Only the Geoblogosphere can. And I'm just not seeing the effort or concern there.

Sincerely and Wistfully, Lockwood
Comments and reactions? Here's The Accretionary Wedge's home page if you'd rather leave comments there... they'll end up in my email either way. I'm hoping to track down an image I used sometime last year to tack on a somewhat less dolorous tone for the end... wish me luck.

Followup: Why is it I never think of using Firefox's "find" tool until I've already spent 15 minutes scrolling? At any rate, I think we can say with some confidence that this is not the status of the Accretionary Wedge... at least at this point.
(Originally posted in Sunday Funnies, from Saturday Bulletin; I've cropped the caption)

(Cross-posted at The Accretionary Wedge)


White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has the words "Eggs, Milk, Bread (crossed out), Hope, and Change" written in marker on his hand as he briefs reporters, after President Barack Obama made an unannounced visit to the James Brady Briefing Room at the White House in Washington Tuesday. Former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has been seen with hand written notes on her hands in recent public appearances.

(Via OregonLive) Just to be clear, the idea of Palin using notes, or a teleprompter, herself, is a non-issue. The issue is one, that she did so while criticizing the standing President of the United States for doing the same thing, two, that putting them on the palm of one's hand just seems juvenile, three, that it implies six simple words are more than she can keep in her mind, and four, that a presumptive candidate for political office wouldn't recognize beforehand how silly this would make her look (at least to us non-teabaggers). Oh, and five, that asking for "divine intervention" has been used by many, if not most, citizens in most if not every nation that has ever existed in human history. It isn't very good policy.

Dennis Hopper

Via Regretsy. Awful pun, awfully creepy. How could I resist? Or if you prefer, you can watch the same seller's "Robo Coco" clip. Not as creepy, maybe more funny.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Road Trip

The last time I was in a vehicle of any kind was December 27, 2008, returning from Christmas in Bend, OR, with my family. There are some excellent road cuts on Route 20 through the Cascades, but nothing like the above photo. Pictures like this make my mouth water... How I would love to walk out this area. However, the an article in the NYT tells me this might not be the best place to geologize.
SAROBI, Afghanistan — Even in a nation beset by war and suicide bombings, you would be hard-pressed to find anything as reliably terrifying as the national highway through the Kabul Gorge.
(Photo from accompanying slide show)

Last Night Launch of the Shuttle

The space shuttle Endeavour successfully flew into orbit last night, marking the last night launch of the STS. Click over to NASA's image of the day for other sizes. The shuttle has been criticized (rightly, IMO) for lots of shortcomings, but I'll still miss it when it's gone.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


You too can fill in the dialogue in a Batman and Robin comic panel, over here. And since I've become extremely cynical about politics generally, not just the tea-flavored variety, here's another on a topic for which I still have some enthusiasm:

Sunday Funnies

Skull Swap
Not Really But Seriously
Safe, yes. Palatable, no. Criggo
Criggo. We're supposed to get weather here, too.
God Hates Protesters


I really wish you hadn't sent me this, Joe. I know it's just a link to a news story on NBC's website, but now that I've thought about the phrase "John Edwards Sex Tape", I can't unthink it. If you ever get sent a link to this video, I don't want you to send it along. All that floppy shiny hair, and — oh, God. See what you've done? Barack

"All the President's emails," from The GuardianEpicPonyz
Skull Swap. My own proposed slogan is "Toyota: Give us a brake."
Skull Swap
I love puns. Especially convoluted ones. Pearls Before Swine, via E.B. Misfit
Everyone loves pissing off street preachers, even "nice" girls. Via Pygalgia.
john astin and carolyn jones
see more Lol Celebs
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Oddly Specific
Random Russ
Dystopian Emoticons from The Daily What.
Geobloggers don't often show up in the Sunday Funnies, but I L'dOl at this one from Kyle House:
While evaluating the geologic evidence for the magnitude of recent
flooding on the lower Verde River, we noticed this hilarious vignette
of a saguaro climbing to safety.
Click over and tap the pic for full-size; it's quite beautiful.
Probably Bad News
engrish funny diploma satan
see more Engrish. Problem is, incoherent as it may be, this argument works in the US.
Anyone But YOU
see more Friends of Irony "Anyone but YOU."
My First Dictionary
Channel Ate
funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures
Probably Bad News
engrish funny no translation
see more Engrish
Skull Swap
Cyanide and Happiness
So peaceful... so serene... so Skull Swap.
The Joy of Tech
Oddly Specific
the death star
see more Lol Celebs. I simply post my chosen funnies from most recent to oldest, so I'm somewhat more entertained when happenstance puts two together like this...
john mccain
see more Political Pictures
"Frida 3000 by John Lytle Wilson," via Skull Swap
demotivational posters
see more deMotivational Posters
Joie De Vivre
Joie De Vivre
Joie De Vivre
demotivational posters
see more deMotivational Posters
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
Comic JK
In feudal Japan, wealthy landowners trained their cats to protect them. Epic Win
Umm... abstinence-only education on the writer's part? Probably Bad News (with lots of commenters pointing out that the article is pretty straight forward, and not funny)
The Daily What
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
I'm caught between raw horror and breathless hysteria. Skull Swap
Autocomplete Me, posted with the following:
Fave comment: “What happens when Brittany Spears and Chuck Norris do a songwriting collaboration? I’ll take ‘What were they thinking?’ for $1000 Alex.” – James

Nedroid Comics
Totally worth it to see neighbor's expressions alone. Criggo
Savage Chickens
Oddly Specific... marketing genius!
Abstruse Goose
engrish funny scared heart
see more Engrish
Skull Swap
funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures
A matter of perspective. EpicPonyz
Bizarro Blog... click over and bop the marionette's nose for glorious full-size. Part of the fun of his blog is reading Dan's commentary and the decision-making process of creating comics: figuring out what will and will not fly in American newspapers. For this panel, he points out a couple of other funny ideas that most likely would not.
Ugliest Tattoos... edgy.
Chuck & Beans
Oddly Specific
Probably Bad News
Picture is Unrelated
engrish funny hope wait
see more Engrish. Posted with the title, "We don't think that slogan will work, Mr. President."
Night Deposits
Probably Bad News
The Daily What
No, Jethro's out in the garage. Blackadder
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Forecast for yesterday, via The Daily What
demotivational posters
see more deMotivational Posters
Cyanide and Happiness
Mr. Bean's Avatar, from Blackadder
Sunbathing, from Blackadder
epic fail pictures
see more Epic Fails. Eww. Just eww.
Water on Mars: photographic proof. EpicPonyz
Bungee Cat, via The Daily What
Skull Swap
Tee of the Day, via The Daily What: “Brontosnorous Saves The World” by Dekonstruct.
Skull Swap
This Isn't Happiness
Posted with the title "Something has to be illegal in Nevada," and the following commentary:
This is one of those things I had to look up, just to make sure it was legit. Turns out, it totally is. It’s crayfish, not lobsters, but they’re still illegal to sell. But they have no problem with you going to a prostitute and getting crabs…how odd.

Non Sequitur
A Bold Statement
see more Friends of Irony