Saturday, March 13, 2010


(image source) "Satori (悟り?) (Chinese: 悟; pinyin: wù; Korean 오) is a Japanese Buddhist term for "enlightenment." The word literally means "understanding." "Satori" translates as a flash of sudden awareness, or individual enlightenment..." From Wikipedia, of course. I had a moment of satori a while ago that the waning twilight will occur at 7:45 tomorrow, rather than 6:45. We "spring forward" into daylight savings time tonight, which means at this time tomorrow, it will be an hour later than it is now.

I also had a moment of Satori, as I was writing this up, that this would be a good time to put an end to this foolishness. A better time to quit might have been with Saturd80's, but you know... well, no excuses. Sorry.


And they just keep coming! Sutter's Mill, where gold was discovered in California, setting off the gold rush of 1849. From The Gold Trail Company.


Boo-Yah! Another geology post! Behold siderite, from Wikipedia, where there is another picture and more information.


The Baby Sitter's Club from Motion Picture Arts. I vaguely remember not knowing anything at all about this movie. Is that an enormous hole in my cultural background?


From Treehugger. Man, this should have been one of the first ones I thought of. But today's production is pretty much all satire, right? That and bad puns.


Gotta get the geology in... graded bedding. You can think of this in terms of differential settling- the largest grains settle out first. (here's the wiki stub)


From here... guess I'm not done, after all. I was thinking I might be. (Information on the Sedar meal and its symbolism here... even researching stupid puns can lead to learning, if you're not careful.)




Beautiful dogs, but hell to train, from watching others work with them. I learned from the link that they are hunting dogs, so they likely take to that instinctively, but don't do obedience so well.


funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures


Today, an English Saddle.


funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures


Jean-Paul Sartre


US soldiers enter Sadr City.


A nose-on view of an Iridium (brand/model name, not composition) Satellite, from here.


From here.


No, I'm not done yet. Thanks for asking.


XTC, Life Begins at the Hop:

Laurie Anderson, Gravity's Angel:

Flock of Seagulls, I Ran (So Far Away):


vladimir putin
see more Political Pictures


Jeff Saturday, that is, #63 for the Colts.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Alkali Metal

No, not some new variant of hard core rock-n-roll, but the first column of the periodic table, namely lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, cesium and francium. Ah, cesium. You'll have to wait until the very last seconds to witness cesium in action, but I guarantee it's worth it.

Dear Leader Can Has Bukkit

Surreal, sort of funny and scary at the same time. The Big Picture today features Kim Jong Il looking at stuff.


I started this silly meme on Wednesday. We'll see if I can pull it off for all seven days... then I'm thinking of doing a weekly "Wednesday Wednesday" feature. I've adored Wednesday in all her incarnations. I'll skip the obvious joke with regards to this picture, though, and let The Art of Noise pass it along. (Theme song from the movie adaptation of Dragnet)


I think I know how this works, and in fact was able to figure out ahead of time what my results would be. Still, the presentation is well executed. An online GPS system allows this site to precisely locate your position, accurate to within inches. If my thoughts on how this works are accurate, this would work anywhere with internet access; it might be kind of exciting to try out on the International Space Station...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

So is Everyone

Your right to life ends when you have one independent from your (legally mandated) womb. Clay Bennett at the Chattanooga Times Free Press is probably my favorite current editorial cartoonist; Toles at his best is elegantly brilliant, but Bennett is consistently good.

More Like This: "Either Way, We Disagree."

Excerpted from a letter from Harry Reid to Mitch McConnell:
As you know, the vast majority of bills developed through reconciliation were passed by Republican Congresses and signed into law by Republican Presidents – including President Bush’s massive, budget-busting tax breaks for multi-millionaires. Given this history, one might conclude that Republicans believe a majority vote is sufficient to increase the deficit and benefit the super-rich, but not to reduce the deficit and benefit the middle class. Alternatively, perhaps Republicans believe a majority vote is appropriate only when Republicans are in the majority. Either way, we disagree.
Now was that so hard, Harry? More, please! (Via Krugman's blog, and the whole letter at the lead link, is well worth reading. I think the Senator may have had a secret testicular transplant.)

Metaphorical Maps

From the NYT, a delightful collection of "road map" metaphors; these are two of about twenty.Diet

Picture Me Stunned find myself in agreement with an evangelical leader:
The Rev. Jim Wallis, a prominent evangelical figure and president of the Sojourners network, argued yesterday, "I don't know if Beck is just strange, just trying to be controversial, or just trying to make money. But in any case, what he has said attacks the very heart of our Christian faith, and Christians should no longer watch his show."
So does Mormonism disavow the teachings of Jesus Christ? I don't have a problem with that, since I don't consider myself a Christian. But many of my values, ethical decisions and choices are rooted in the same general beliefs. I neither accept nor reject the teachings of Christianity as a whole.

Or is Beck disavowing Mormonism? Does that Church teach that easing the suffering of the needy is a good thing, and that the well-off should be expected to contribute to that effort? I don't know enough to say. If it turns out that Mormons do push that fascisocialist agenda, will Bleck leave the Church?He raises so many questions. Mostly stupid questions, yes, but questions nevertheless.


Sounds vaguely familiar.

While I don't recognize that song, the style sounds very familiar. A little hard core for me, but not bad at all. Guess I'd put these guys in with The Plasmatics: mixed up with other music, I think I'd like it fine, but I'm not rushing out to find their albums.

Thousand Mile Hike

Have you got six months off? Do you fancy a long walk? If so, World Expeditions may have just the holiday for you. They have become the only trekking outfit to offer a guided trip along the first completed section of the Great Himalayan Trail (GHT).

Stretching for 1,700km along the length of Nepal, the GHT will take you a mere 157 days to complete. You'll see eight of the world's 14 peaks over 8,000m, including Everest, and cross passes reaching up to 6,000m, climbing a total of 150,000m.
Wow. Just Wow. In my twenties, I considered 6-7 miles a day sort of short for a hike, but 4000-5000 feet elevation gain per day my outer limit, and certainly not a daily routine. This trek would be 6-7 miles per day, but roughly 3000 feet elevation climb along with that.

Sounds grueling, but spectacularly worth it. The photo is from a gallery here. And more is planned: soon the trail will span the Himalayas from their eastern to western ends.
Eventually, the trail's originators hope it will stretch from the mighty 8,000m peak Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, considered the westernmost outlier of the Himalaya, to Namche Barwa in Tibet. It will connect five Asian countries - Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan. That version will stretch for 4,500km, a with a predicted completion date of February 2011.
There's a link in the article to a free map of the trail, but it's not loading for me. I suspect their server may be overwhelmed by people like me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Freedom Isn't Free

and many people in the US can't afford it.
Being poor sucks in any country but especially in the US, which is so proud of being the Richest Nation on Earth that it makes sure everyone lives up to that whether they can afford to or not. Consider the case of Avondale, Arizona resident Christine Stevens, who has been in deep water (financially speaking) since losing her bank job in January 2009. She decided to discontinue her electricity service and make do with solar panels – Arizona has no shortage of sunshine, after all – and using an ice box in lieu of a refrigerator.

But such frugality defies Avondale city codes, which require a refrigerator, heating and cooling system, and electricity enough for all. So Stevens' house was condemned, and Stevens kicked out. "We explained to her that the panels weren't enough to sustain a quality of life there," Avondale's code enforcement manager said. Stevens is back in her home now, after spending 11 nights sleeping in her car, but could still lose the property.
There's another heinous example in the same article:
When you're worried about someone's quality of life, adding them to the ranks of the homeless might not be the best way to improve it, but it's close enough for government work. Sometimes more drastic measures are needed, like the ones taken by city officials in Mountain View, California: they kicked an old lady named Loretta Pangrac out of her house, demolished it, and billed her almost $20,000 for their troubles.
This country is just sick, sick, sick.

Just Another Wednesday

Available as a tee (!) at the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation gift shop, along with other Addams family members. I have learned a lot of new things about Wednesday today: she's polydactyl. Image from Wikipedia:

This Seems Like a Good Idea

From today's NYT afternoon update,
Culminating a year’s work, a panel of educators convened by the nation’s governors and state school superintendents released a set of proposed common academic standards on Wednesday. The standards, posted on the panel’s web site, lay out the panel’s vision of what American public school students should learn in math and English, year by year, from kindergarten to high school graduation.
48 states participated in the development of these standards, and many are expected to commit to meeting them in the next few months. This is hugely important for standardized testing, textbooks, teachers' and students' ability to move smoothly between states or even districts, college admissions and so on. Reading and math are the two core academic abilities; without those two, everything else is going to be an awful struggle or just plain impossible.

Science is not directly addressed in the document, but literacy with respect to science and other disciplines is. And as I've mentioned before, there are already two sets of science standards that were developed in the early to mid-90's, one from the NRC, and the other from AAAS. I personally like the AAAS standards, Benchmarks for Science Literacy, better, but the bottom line is that there is far more overlap between the two than not. The model for the new standards, though, getting state participation up front, makes those states more likely to buy in to the result without feeling as if the new guidelines are being imposed from above. Oregon's science standards (400 kb PDF) were based on both the documents, and the new 2009 set is an improvement over the last attempt maybe 15 years ago. What's at issue, though, is consistency of goals and expectations across the US; other states are unlikely to simply adopt Oregon's standards, just as Oregon at this point is unlikely to adopt another's.

BTW, the two states that didn't participate in developing the new language and mathematics standards? Need you ask?
Alaska and Texas are the only states not participating in the standards-writing effort. In keeping his state out of the movement, Gov. Rick Perry argued that only Texans should decide what children there learn.
Followup, March 11: Jenn Kepka at Salon points out the critical thinking and presentation skills mentioned, and suggests it'll lead to better blogs and blogging:
To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, report on, and create a high volume and extensive range of print and nonprint texts in media forms old and new. The need to research and to consume and produce media is embedded into every element of today’s curriculum.

Plasmatics: Butcher Baby

Kinda sorta NSFWish; W. O. W. appears to be wearing a whipped cream and rubber dart "top." Speaking of which, this video is completely over it. The top, that is.

The Plasmatics were a group I never really got into all that much... I like punk in small doses, but not too much at a time. Mixed into a good radio show with other styles, I quite like it, but I'm not going to buy (or listen to) a whole album like this. So I certainly don't dislike The Plasmatics, I'm just not all that familiar with their work. I don't think I've ever seen one of their videos, but Williams certainly lives up to her reputation.

This one goes out to Caitlin and Justin, two very sweet people who make a very sweet couple, but who totally punk out in their band The Angries. The schedule of upcoming shows and a clip of The Angries performing is at the link. Also, hat tip to Jen Sorensen, the comic artist at Slowpoke blog, who posted the clip above.

Still Wednesday

I just learned that her middle name is Friday: Wednesday Friday Addams. Isn't Wikipedia a kick?

Extant Until 1540?

A few days ago, Totally Looks Like posted this image:
1540 Map Of Paris Totally Looks Like A Horseshoe Crab
see more Celeb Look-A-Likes

I'm not so sure... I went and found a better copy of the first picture:I couldn't find one with quite the right proportion of cephalon to pygidium, but this one from the blog Frozen in Time, and flipped to a closer orientation, isn't bad.Can anyone find an even closer match?


Posted by Darius Whiteplume at his tumblr, with the caption "It’s Wednesday! And I’m off work!" I woke up at 4 AM and couldn't get back to sleep... man, I hate it when that happens. I'm not very often here at my favorite coffee shop when it opens, but I am today. Like it or not.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ultrashort, Ultrafunny

Baby panda sneezes...

Dramatic chipmunk is dramatic...

Dramatic cat is dramatic...

And a tarsier reacts to "two girls, one cup." (If you're not familiar with that video, you might want to read the paragraph below.)

If you're not familiar with "two girls, one cup," count yourself lucky. The first I heard of it was in a news article describing the popularity of reaction videos to that clip. The writer mysteriously said the clip was so disgusting and revolting he couldn't even describe the acts therein in the article. I made the mistake of tracking it down, and he was right. I lasted maybe 15-20 seconds before clicking away. However, I can let you know what you're missing, in a (somewhat) less revolting manner than seeing it in person, and way, way more SFW. Wikipedia to the rescue. The fifth bullet under "Cultural Aspects" mentions the clip under discussion.

I Gotcher Jetpack Right Here

Where's your jetpack? News Item: The Martin Aircraft Company plans to sell its first Jetpacks soon.

From PhysOrg,
As Martin jetpack inventor Glenn Martin demonstrates in the video below, the 200-horsepower, dual-propeller jetpacks seem to offer all that one could hope for in a personal flying machine. The jetpack can travel for about 30 minutes on a five-gallon tank of premium gasoline (the same used by cars). Tests have shown that the jetpack can reach top speeds of 60 mph, giving it a range of 30 miles per tank. The newest model can also reach heights of 2,400 meters (about 1.5 miles)
You can see the video described at the article, but it wasn't embeddable, and I thought the ratio of talking head to jetpack flying was too high, so I went and found another clip.

So if you have a spare $75K laying around, and 6 miles per gallon sounds OK, here's the company's website. Because it's the future, and you're worth it.

Sadly, Mammoths Didn't Lay Eggs

But the moa and Aepyornis did. An article in BBC says, "Researchers have found that eggshells of extinct bird species are a rich source of preserved DNA." I hadn't realized just how recently these giant flighless birds had gone extinct:
The elephant bird may be at the root of legends about giant birds. Marco Polo claimed erroneously that these giant birds could fly. There are also tales of birds that could pick up elephants in 1001 Arabian Nights.
It's no Jurassic Park or anything, but a person can dream, right? I'll be the one looking for mammoth eggs.

Followup: The Guardian also has an article, with more info, and a clearer description of the birds in question. And a squeee cute photo of an emu hatchling.

Costa Rushbo

I had seen this bit at EB Misfit's place, where her attitude was "call Fatso's bluff on this one." She didn't point out, until responding to a commenter, that Costa Rica, where dimbulb is threatening to relocate if the health bill is passed, also has universal health care. I wasn't planning on saying anything about it (another day, another rush bloviation, yawn), but I loved this poll at the Guardian:
You can see my vote in the screen capture above; currently, I'm in a 9:1 minority. My reasons for the vote are as follows: 1) I don't believe for a second that Rush will leave the country. 2) If he does, he should go to a country that actually represents his political beliefs... I'm thinking Somalia, though that seems a cruel thing to wish on a people who are already suffering. 3) I think the mere threat of Rush's presence in Costa Rica is disconcerting and demoralizing enough to the country and the region to constitute a serious threat to the stability of governments.

In short, I think the State Department should be involved with Rush's departure.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Goof-Ball Alarm

Ringing loud and clear.
Glenn Beck Urges Listeners to Leave Churches That Preach Social Justice:
On his daily radio and television shows last week, Fox News personality Glenn Beck set out to convince his audience that "social justice," the term many Christian churches use to describe their efforts to address poverty and human rights, is a "code word" for communism and Nazism. Beck urged Christians to discuss the term with their priests and to leave their churches if leaders would not reconsider their emphasis on social justice.
So people are supposed to leave any church that actually tries to push the central message of Jesus Christ. Alrighty, then (h/t to FB friend Jennifer Tucker). Here's God's final Word on the issue, from a couple of weeks after 9/11.

Followup, March 9: Egads! I been linked by one of the big boys (Thanks, Crooks and Liars)! Looks like OTI is on the way to a new record. Here are some links to more of my lampooning of this ass hat: Set 1. Set 2. Set 3. Set 4. Set 5.

Quake in Turkey

I'm fascinated by how quickly news becomes "olds" these days, and I'm sure you've heard of the 5.9- to 6.0 quake that occurred in Turkey last night. I'm pleased to report that most of the stories I've glanced over are correctly mentioning this recent spate of earthquakes is statistically normal, if they bring it up at all. (I think they're a little stung by criticism of their reporting on Chile last week- see the previous post and links.) What's unusual is that they have occurred repeatedly in inhabited areas, with the Haiti and Turkey quakes in areas that were terribly prepared and engineered to cope.

I was talking to my two Turkish friends a few minutes ago, and learned two things I hadn't known before: first, while I had known that much of the construction in the affected villages was mud bricks, Murat said that during the winter, they absorb moisture and essentially double in weight. He said if the same quake had occurred during the summer, the fatalities would have been much lower. Second, they said that the roofs are made of turf- some families actually grow vegetable gardens on their roof. They want thick turf for maximum insulation. I didn't think to ask how, lacking much in the way of sturdy wood, they support such a heavy ceiling during normal periods.

So when I saw the above picture this morning, I was picturing all the soil as the result of the wall digging in, then flipping up, as it collapsed and wedged into the ground. But no, that's the roof.

Too Blunt?

Eric Klemetti of the Eruptions blog reminded me today of his request for questions for Alan Boyle, science editor for He notes that time is running short, and that he will be passing off the questions to Mr. Boyle in the next few days. So if you have a question you've wanted to ask of someone who works in science media, here you go, but you need to act quickly (Instructions are at the last link above.)

It only took me a couple of minutes to compose mine. It's a little on the longish side, I think, and in retrospect, perhaps a little too blunt. But I still think it needs an answer. Perhaps sometime next week, it will get one.
Do journalists (both reporters and editors) realize how distressed science-literate readers are by the frequent mistakes, sensationalism, misrepresentation, and more subtly, inappropriate emphasis we so frequently encounter when reading MSM science reporting? I'm linking to an old blog post, if you have the time, in which I go on a rant regarding coverage of a "supervolcano" discovered in Italy. This is a useful example of a lot of the ranting in the science blogs, because I did a followup the next day to point out the aspects of the story that were important scientifically; the "supervolcano" angle and emphasis was not.

Supporters of science like myself want people to get excited about the subject. We don't mind a little sensationalism, because, frankly, science is pretty sensational. But when MSM science becomes all sensationalism to the extent that it's misinforming and misleading people on important aspects of the stories being delivered, many of us quit paying attention to the media sources. I don't watch television news any more, in part because of its loathsome science reporting. I certainly don't look to MSNBC online as a source of science news.

So to reiterate, are those of you in the MSM even aware of the magnitude of your credibility gap in the science community, and if so, do you have any plans or ideas for improving your reporting and delivery in the future?

If not, I think those of us in the geoblogosphere could offer some.

E-Mails From An A-Hole

I participate in a discussion group with some of my old high school classmates; mostly politics, but other stuff too, from time to time. Earlier, one of the posted a link to the site E-mails from an Asshole. Said A-hole lures in unsuspecting victims on Craig's list who are seeking goods and services with a polite response offering whatever the victim is looking for... then runs the exchange off the rails. USB, who posted the link, later pointed to "Operation: Soccer Escort" as a favorite. I agree.
Original ad:
I am in need of a reliable and SAFE driver to take my 10-year-old daughter home from after-school soccer practice starting in September and ending in late November. She needs to be taken from school in Exton to home in Bryn Mawr. It should take about an hour each day. You will be needed Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Fri. Looking for a safe driver with a clean driving record. E-mail at *********** with references. We can discuss compensation. Thanks!
From Me to ************

Good afternoon.

My name is Mike Partlow and I am very interested in this job. I have a lot of experience driving under dangerous conditions and guarantee your daughter will arrive safely at home every day.

If you are still looking for a dependable driver, please write back.


Mike Partlow
So far, so good, right? The bait has been taken, time to reel in the catch...
From Kate ******** to Me

Mr. Partlow (can I call you Mike?),

I still am looking for a driver. Good to know you can handle dangerous conditions...but there probably will not be any dangerous conditions; you are just taking my daughter down Rt 3.

Tell me about yourself - are you a professional driver? Do you have any references from past jobs? What kind of car do you own? Is it reliable?

- Kate

From Me to Kate ********


You can call me Mike. I was never one for formalities.

A little about myself, I am 37 years old, and worked as a mercenary driver in the Middle East. I have escorted important clients through high-risk areas in Iraq and Afghanistan for five years. I have seen a lot of action, and have ensured the safety of my clients. Out of all the jobs I have done, 90% of my clients arrived at their destination unharmed.
I have just included the beginning of the craziness; you'll have to click over to read the rest, including a shining endorsement from a "previous customer." This is definitely going into my RSS humor folder.

Going Viral Today

Believe it or not, I skip many more video clips than I watch. I've seen this one posted at least four times, I think more, and finally decided to burn the minute it takes to watch. Behold "the oldest trick in the world" super-sized. Flawlessly.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What He Said:

From the LA Times, via Oregon Live:
The Earth has its own set of rules, solidly grounded in laws of physics and chemistry and emergent principles of geology and biology. Unlike our economic model, these are not artificial constructs. They are real, and they govern. Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes, 100-year floods, massive wildfires and disease epidemics are dramatic examples of parts of nature, neither all service nor all harm, creating and destroying, and governed by rules that are indifferent to humans. Our anthropocentric economic model for interacting with the world ignores and is proving to be incompatible with Earth's rules, and is therefore on a direct collision course with them.
Recent measurements of unprecedented, directional changes in the vital signs of Earth suggest that we may have already staved in our lifeboat's hull, causing changes beyond the ability of Earth's biogeochemical forces to maintain balance. The quasi-steady state that makes our lives possible may be disappearing before our eyes. We are in direct conflict with Earth's rules.
This has been my position for a couple of decades at least, though I could never have stated it as eloquently as the authors. (Bruce E. Mahall is a professor of ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. F. Herbert Bormann, a professor emeritus at Yale University, is one of the founders of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study.) Unfortunately, I have become increasingly pessimistic that we as a culture are capable of abandoning our old paradigms- economic, religious, philosophical and scientific, as described in the essay- in time to save our asses. I'm certain we as a species could do it, but ingrained habit looks like it's going to prevent it.

Sunday Funnies

Take a look at my funny finds from the past week...Blackadder
Bits and Pieces
Doghouse Diaries
Hacked IRL
The Onion, via Bits and Pieces
Friends of Irony
Let There Be Blogs
Let There Be Blogs
The Daily What
Comic JK, with the hover text, "Unfortunately, there's some kind of conspiracy: dream-drinks are ineffective."
epic fail pictures
see more Epic Fails
Acting Like Animals
engrish funny clean washroom
see more Engrish
Bits and Pieces
Inside-Out Spaghetti & Meatballs: A giant meatball stuffed with spaghetti, marinara sauce and ricotta cheese. This is Why You're Fat
Cannot be unseen, from Epic Ponyz.
corn sarah palin
see more Political Pictures
Abstruse Goose
Skull Swap
God Hates Protesters
Skull Swap
My First Dictionary
(The difficult-to-read note says "You're a jerk, toilet seat!) M Thru F
Oddly Specific
The Daily What
Oddly Specific
Deavers live in Bogs. Bits and Pieces
Princess Sparkle Pony
job fails
see more Work Fails & Job LOLs - Monday Through Friday
This Verreaux's Sifaka Totally Looks Like Fred Astaire
see more Celeb Look-A-Likes
Probably Bad News
demotivational posters
see more demotivators
Stephen Hawking is badass. Epic Win
Auto Zone's aggressive campaign for new customers... That Will Buff Out
Lilith’s astrology column for the week starting March 6 was wrongly published last weekend. We are republishing it today. The Herald apologises for any sense of deja vu readers experience this week.
Regret the Error

Bizarro, via Library Grape, who points out that this particular sin was still persecuted in our lifetimes. It probably still is, in some places.
Cyanide and Happiness
Sober in a Nightclub
Bits and Pieces
the predator
see more Lol Celebs
engrish funny yoga pirates
see more Engrish
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
M Thru F
funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures
The Daily What
demotivational posters
see more
Non Sequitur