Saturday, July 17, 2010


Martha and the Muffins, Cooling the Medium:

Teardrop Explodes, When I Dream:

Another song from the late 60's that I wasn't really aware of until the 80's, It's a Beautiful Day, White Bird:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Classic Willamette Valley Summer Weather

From NWS, this is a snapshot of our weather over the last few days. Mid to late afternoon can be uncomfortably warm for me, but honestly, upper 80's isn't all that bad, and combined with shade, low humidity, and a nice breeze (which is typical), it's actually not bad at all. In the first plot, the red line is temperature, and the green line is dewpoint. Dewpoint is the temperature at which the air would be saturated with respect to its water content; another way to think of it is that it is the air temperature at which water would condense to form a cloud (or fog, at ground level).

Our dewpoints tend to be low during the summer; it has been close to 50 for some time, with a brief rise to near sixty yesterday afternoon. In contrast, the weather station linked to my home town of Athens, Ohio (the airport at Parkersburg, West Virginia) has been reporting dewpoints of 70-74 during the course of the day today, or 20 degrees higher. High dewpoints not only mean higher relative humidity- the way most weather reports relay humidity information- but they also restrict cooling in two important ways. First, when water condenses, either as fog or dew, it releases the heat that went into evaporating it in the first place. So everything else being equal, if water is condensing, the temperature will tend to stay steady; latent heat of condensation will balance out heat being lost through radiation. A related phenomenon is that if the water is condensing as fog, the presence of fog will interfere with heat loss by radiation. Once a fog forms, the temperature will typically stay pretty steady until it burns off or is dispersed by wind. The second issue is that water vapor (vapor, not fog) is the most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere; it very strongly absorbs and re-emits infrared radiation. So if the dewpoints are high where you live, it won't cool down at night nearly as much as if the dewpoints are low.

So even though the daytime highs are a little warmer than I'd like, I can count on it getting down to around 50 at night. And if I can cool down at night, I'm pretty much good. Our high yesterday was 91; our low was 51, a 40-degree diurnal range- and I've seen ranges over 50 degrees- over a hundred during the day, and in the forties at night. The high at Parkersburg yesterday was 87, and the low was 71 (with fog).

I do not miss Midwest humidity... I miss thunderstorms, but I don't miss the climate it takes to generate them.

How The LHC Works

Now just imagine another balloon going the opposite direction; when the two collide, kaphooey! New universe!
From Gizmodo, where there is a description that may be somewhat more accurate. Or not.

Stormtroopers And Redshirts

Best laugh I've had in a while...Shoebox

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Miscellaneous Music

Gary Numan plays "Cars" with cars:

OK, Go, Here It Goes Again (embedding disabled by request). A friend of mine mentioned this video to me a couple of weeks ago; it's not exactly my cup of tea, musically- it's not a serious turnoff or anything, it just doesn't do much for me. But I think the choreography is terrific in this clip. Da Vinci days, Corvallis' annual festival of art, science, and technology, is coming up this weekend, and this group is a headliner; they will be showing a film and doing a Q&A session Saturday evening.

Heather Nova, Truth and Bone- I had the damndest time remember this artist and this song, I finally thought to look at the list of women who had played for Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair.

Time Zoning

"John lives in an East Coast state and Mary in a West Coast state. During a phone conversation one night, they realize that it is the same time in both locations. How can this be?" I'm pleased to say my knowledge of US time zones was good enough to figure this out. Here's a clue: in the sparsely populated west, time zones sometimes don't follow state boundaries, but conform instead to the closest economic center. For example, northern Idaho is on Pacific time rather than Mountain time like the rest of the state, because Spokane, Washington is the dominant economic center. That won't give you the answer, but it's an important clue. Puzzle from Futility Closet, answer here. BTW, anyone who would call at this time should be punished severely.

Only An Expert

According to OregonLive, there is no longer any oil leaking from BP's Macondo prospect.
"I am very pleased that there's no oil going into the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, I'm really excited there's no oil going into the Gulf of Mexico," Wells said.

The stoppage came 85 days, 16 hours and 25 minutes after the first report April 20 of an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that killed 11 workers and triggered the spill.

Now begins a waiting period to see if the cap can hold the oil without blowing a new leak in the well. Engineers will monitor pressure readings incrementally for up to 48 hours before reopening the cap while they decide what to do.
It's not clear how confident engineers are regarding the integrity of the casing under the BOP; this is the reason for carefully monitoring the pressure over the next two days. If the pressure at the wellhead does not reach the calculated value, and stays closer to the hydrostatic pressure at that depth, it would indicate that oil is still leaking in the subsurface. I want to be optimistic...

But given the massive miscommunication and outright dodging of communication that has taken place over the last three months, optimism is hard to come by. Laurie Anderson, on Letterman last night, sums up the gibberish of the language of news in our brave new world.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cultural Differences

The first thing you need to understand is that citizens of the magma zone are all really, really hot. But it's still impolite to stare. (Nedroid Comics) Speaking of hot, we had couple of really nice cool days, topping out in the mid 70's, but are back on a warming trend now. Not too bad, but this might help a little: just lean in toward the screen, and prepare for a little relief via the internet.(FuckYeahAlbuquerque)


"processed food product"
"non-dairy creamer"
"clean coal"
"new heart device"
That last one is new to me... here's the entire headline: Former Vice President Dick Cheney gets new heart device. And here's the picture they ran with the article:Dunno, Dick. Looks like your "heart device" could use some a'justin.

Wednesday Wednesday

From here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Warren Buffett Would Make a Very Bad Republican

Warren Buffett, My Philanthropic Pledge (44KB PDF):
My wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest. Both my children and I won what I call the ovarian lottery. (For starters, the odds against my 1930 birth taking place in the U.S. were at least 30 to 1. My being male and white also removed huge obstacles that a majority of Americans then faced.

My luck was accentuated by my living in a market system that sometimes produces distorted results, though overall it serves our country well. I've worked in an economy that rewards someone who saves the lives of others on a battlefield with a medal, rewards a great teacher with thank-you notes from parents, but rewards those who can detect the mispricing of securities with sums reaching into the billions. In short, fate's distribution of long straws is wildly capricious.

The reaction of my family and me to our extraordinary good fortune is not guilt, but rather gratitude. Were we to use more than 1% of my claim checks on ourselves, neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced. In contrast, that remaining 99% can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others. That reality sets an obvious course for me and my family: Keep all we can conceivably need and distribute the rest to society, for its needs. My pledge starts us down that course.
Real Republicans, on the other hand, know that a free market economy and unrestrained, unregulated markets have unsurpassed wisdom. All sorts of bad things, from the BP oil spill, to the housing bubble, to the conniptions of the financial markets, would have never happened if we'd just leave Britney the captains of industry alone. After all, what's the point of being a white American male if you can't have more stuff than everyone else?

I Write Like Adams and Poe

I suspect I write like a lot of different people, but I'm nothing like comparable to these two. Based on yesterday's post, "Sacrifices," I write like Adams.
I write like
Douglas Adams

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Based on Saturday's post, "Why No Oil Wells Off Oregon's Coast?" I write like Poe.
I write like
Edgar Allan Poe

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I'm assuming the second link in each image will take you to the site, but here it is again, if not. I'm flattered, but I don't assign a lot of meaning to this.

Tuesday Tits

Blue tit touchdown, from BBC. (Cyanistes caeruleus) The root site has some good information clarifying the group a little better for me... I have been confused as to whether chickadees were considered tits or not.
The tits, chickadees, and titmice constitute Paridae, a large family of small passerine birds which occur in the northern hemisphere and Africa. Most were formerly classified in the genus Parus.

These birds are called either "chickadees" (onomatopoeic, derived from their distinctive "chick-a dee dee dee" alarm call) or "titmice" in North America, and just "tits" in the rest of the English-speaking world. The name titmouse is recorded from the 14th century, composed of the Old English name for the bird, mase (Proto-Germanic *maison, German Meise) and tit, denoting something small. The spelling was influenced by mouse in the 16th century. Emigrants to New Zealand presumably identified some of the superficially similar birds of the genus Petroica of the family Petroicidae, the Australian robins, as members of the tit family, giving them the title Tomtit although, in fact, they are not related.
So my interpretation is that tits and chickadees are in the same family, and that differences in names are purely geographic. I think I've posted a tomtit before, and they turn out to not be true tits. C'est la vie.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Matt Bors is a Portland-based editorial comic artist whose work I see frequently, and whose style is immediately recognizable to me. I suppose it helps that most often I'm in agreement with his points, as above.

Whether or not you agree that energy is a central- if somewhat obscured- cause of the two conflicts in which we're currently engaged, I think one of the most important differences between our current wars and the one I grew up with, Vietnam, is that there seems to be more or less uniform agreement across the political spectrum that we honor the people in uniform who are carrying out the orders of our leaders, whether or not we agree with the leaders' decisions. Apparently, Bors and I are in agreement on that, as well. From Steve Duin's OregonLive column,
He's also among the first to respond professionally. On Aug. 9, Bors will fly -- via New York, Moscow and Dubai -- into Tajikistan, then caravan across the border with cartoonists Ted Rall and Steven Cloud for a first-hand look at how Afghans are dealing, yet again, with war.

"Obligation is too strong a word, but I feel obligated to put myself out there, to risk a little bit," Bors said.

"Am I going to make a difference to anyone on the ground in Afghanistan? No. But I want to do something as an editorial cartoonist beyond simply reacting to today's news."
The war in Afghanistan is in its 105th month. U.S. troop levels approach 100,000. "Twenty-six million Afghans have been dealing with this my entire adult life," Bors said. "As someone who cares about the politics, I can get on a plane and check it out for myself. And I should, given the opportunity."
I can't help but feel a great deal of admiration for a cartoonist, of all people, willing to put his life at risk for the sake of bringing better perspective to his art.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Funnies: Anniversary Edition

It's the one week anniversary of the 34th anniversary of the bicentennial anniversary of our country's establishment, so here are some funnies to celebrate!

Bits and Pieces
Bits and Pieces
Sofa Pizza
Funny celebrity photos - John Cleese and Eric Idle in a Monty Python sketch
see more Lol Celebs
"Tradgic." Ugliest Tattoos
Señor Gifs
"I've completely lost control." Bits and Pieces
The Daily What
Spotted at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, via The Daily What
Criggo- no word on whether it was covered by homeowner's insurance.
Pundit Kitchen
This Modern World
Friends of Irony
"Skynet’s new plan…send back an evil robot to cry and scare the crap out of people using nonsense." The Frogman
From a large collection of Flying Spaghetti Monster tributes at Buzzfeed.
Worst Winter Storm. Ever. Criggo
Criggo When I caught kids doing this on field trips, I'd fetch another set of goggles out of the van and take it to them with the comment, "I notice a lot of people want to wear them on their forehead, but I want at least one pair over your eyes."
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
Joy of Tech
Sober in a Nightclub
Sofa Pizza

Sofa Pizza, with the comment, "this is my kid's favorite video of all time, no lie. so just know that as you’re laughing, a 2yr old is sharing your sense of humor. :D"
Fake Science
Skull Swap
Medium Large
The Daily What... it's always helpful to have little reminders like this.
The High Definite
...and their love of emergency room visits for anesthesia-free amputations. Roflrazzi
Sober in a Nightclub
Sober in a Nightclub
Failblog... as Julia said, "Oh no, this is a WIN!"
Blackadder... Koo Koo The Bird Girl Totally Looks Like David Broder. (picture)

Friends of Irony
I can't believe there are still people who don't get this. FuckYeahAlbuquerque
Sofa Pizza
The High Definite... smaller than humans, and mostly tail on top of that. Harmless, fer sure.
The Daily What
Totally Looks Like
Sober in a Nightclub
Sober in a Nightclub
Bits and Pieces