Saturday, April 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, Packy!

Portland Zoo's Packy was born there 49 years ago today. I have to say, he looks very much the patriarch in this clip. (Source and article) The latter half of the clip sets out some of the research findings that have come from the zoo, Packy, and his family over the course of nearly half a century.

It's pretty amazing to me that this elephant is only two and a half years younger than I am.

Followup: Oregon Live has a nice write-up too, with the additional tidbit that "...Asian elephants typically live well into their late 50s." Glad to hear it; I admit I was wondering.

Saturd80's: Bagpipes Edition

AC/DC: It's a Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock and Roll:
Rare Air, Reels:

Steve Earl, Copperhead Road:

My understanding on this one is that the bagpipes are sampled and played digitally via keyboard.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Interzone friend Katie, who will soon be off to Connecticut for her PhD in psychology, sent me an interesting link yesterday to the Wikipedia article on The Devil's Kettle at Judge C. R. Magney State Park, Minnesota. Take a look at the picture and spot the problem:
The Brule River splits in two just above a waterfall and falls in two cascades. That's not all that unusual; in fact it's pretty common. What's odd here is that one of the streams falls into a pothole. But wait! Even though that made me do a double-take, reading the text really blew my socks off. See, no one knows where the water goes, and a number of obvious tests have been done to solve the problem without useful results:
One [theory] is that, after dropping down the pothole, the river runs along a fault underground, or as a variant, that it enters an underground channel and comes out somewhere under Lake Superior. Both of these ideas have one valid aspect in common: they recognize that water must move downhill! But the main problem is creating a channel or conduit large enough to conduct the impressive flow of half the Brule River! Faulting commonly has the effect of crushing and fracturing the rock along the fault plane. This could certainly increase the permeability of the rock - its capacity to transmit water - but the connected open spaces needed to drain half the river would be essentially impossible, especially for such a distance. Furthermore, there is no geologic evidence for such a fault at the Devil's Kettle. Large, continuous openings generally do not occur in rocks, except for caves in limestone terranes. The nearest limestone is probably in southeastern Minnesota, so that doesn't help... Maybe the Devil's Kettle bottoms out fortuitously in a great lava tube that conducts the water to the Lake... Unfortunately for this idea, they are not the right kind of volcanic rocks! Rhyolites, such as the great flow at this locality, never form lava tubes, which only develop in fluid basaltic lava. Even the basalts in this area may not be the "right kind", being flood basalts that spread laterally as a sheet from fissures, not down the slopes of a volcano. No lava tubes have been found in the hundreds of basalt flows exposed along the North Shore. Furthermore, the nearest basalt is so far below the river bed, and even if it did contain an empty lava tube (very unlikely after its long history of deep burial) the tube would have to be both oriented in the right direction (south) and blocked above this site so that it isn't already full of debris. And there are no reports of trees or other floating debris suddenly appearing at one spot offshore in Lake Superior. The mystery persists.
Wow. This is a delightfully puzzling planet.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday Tits

Tufted titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor. Image from South Dakota Birds and Birding.

Awash in Anniversaries

As I mentioned yesterday, and as you've most likely seen elsewhere, today is the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's orbital flight around the earth. (Today's APOD is a beautiful salute to that accomplishment) However, there are a slew of others coming across my radar:
  • It's the 30th anniversary of the first shuttle flight... kind of mind boggling that it was only 20 years from the first manned space flight to the shuttle. And 30 years later, we're still using the shuttle. NASA today also announced the future homes of the soon-to-be retired shuttle fleet.
  • It's the 150th anniversary of the shelling of Fort Sumpter, and the opening ceremonies for the Civil War.
  • Five years ago today, Mitt "Mittens" AKA "Willard" Romney signed ObamaCare RomneyCare The Massachusetts Health Care Bill into law. And hasn't stopped running away from it since.
  • 113 years ago, Marie Curie announced her discoveries relating to radioactivity.
  • 66 years ago, Franklin Roosevelt died, leaving his VP Harry Truman the task of ending WWII.
  • Finally, 200 years ago today, a team from John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company landed on the southern shore of the mouth of the Columbia River to establish a trading post; the community that grew up around the site is now called Astoria, Oregon. No biggie, right? Well, oddly, for me at least, this may be the most important item on the list. Money quote:
    "Without John Jacob Astor sending the party to establish a trade outpost in 1811, Oregon, Washington and Idaho would very likely be part of Canada today. The group he sent beat a group of Canadians by about a month."

Monday, April 11, 2011

And in Recent News...

This Modern World
Some Guy With A Website... Hey! Is that Paul Krugman in the second panel? Why, yes, I think it is. (Yes, that IS eight links in two sentences, but go read them... you'll thank me.)

Moonday: Miranda

I meant to kick this off last week, then got distracted by other shiny things. My intent is to post a weekly image from that under-represented group of solar system citizens, the moons. And I vow to keep doing this right up to the point that I don't anymore. This happens to be an auspicious day to start the series: tomorrow (which is already today in the Eurasian borderlands) is the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's orbital flight around the planet, and the dawn of manned spaceflight.

Here's my first selection: my favorite known moon, Miranda, which orbits Uranus. This was posted last week at The Astronomy Picture of the Day (a site which regularly features some out-of-this world geology- see today's pic, for example), with the title, "Verona Rupes: Tallest Known Cliff in the Solar System." The lighting angle and orientation are odd, but the cliff face is toward the lower right, and faces toward the bottom of the image. See that flat, bright surface? That is an estimated 20 kilometers of vertical. Miranda's gravity is much lower than earth's and it is thought that the 12-minute fall from the crest to the bottom might be survivable with the appropriate air bag at the bottom... presuming you could hit it. Click that last link to read more, and click the pic there for a larger field of view. Or click here to see a full-disk mosaic of Miranda. Or both, if you like.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Why I Live in Oregon

This is the geology I grew up with... (Geology Rocks) ...and this is the geology I've lived with for just over 31 years:
(Oregon Geologic Data Compilation) Any Questions?

Sunday Funnies: Honest Dog Tag Edition

Sober in a Nightclub
4koma comic strip - Yeah, I Saw That Movie...It Was Confusing...
see more Comixed
funny graphs -  I Liked Them Before They Were Cool
see more Funny Graphs
Clay Bennett
epic win photos - Great Wall WIN
see more Hacked IRL - Truth in Sarcasm
funny pictures - Why are you putting candy wrappers in my fortress?
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
"Dark Side of the Loom," from The Daily What
job fails - Can't Wait For Break Time!
see more Monday Through Friday
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Sober in a Nightclub
The Daily What
Kayak Fail Gif - Kayak Fail
see more Gifs
funny pictures - Single Page Multiple Tabs Firefox page display options
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
Savage Chickens... this works, but it's not what I would have guessed "FCNN" stood for, had I been asked.
Skull Swap
Bits and Pieces
funny pictures - Truth in Advertising
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
funny celebrity pictures - LOL! What Now BRO?!?!
see more Lol Celebs
Funny Pictures - Business Cat
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
Edd's World
Funny Pictures - Astronaut Cat Gifs
see more Lolcats and funny picturesSkull Swap
I Hate My Parents
political pictures - gadhafi - libya - revolution by pixar
see more Political Pictures. Pixar joins with NATO for the Libyan Intervention...
Fake Science
Sofa Pizza, posted with the title, "Dammit, Sandra, why would you lie to an expert?"
funny pictures - I  may  be  schizophrenic
see more Lolcats and funny pictures.
Bits and Pieces
funny graphs - Fifteen Seconds of Pants-Wetting Trepidation
see more Funny GraphsSober in a Nightclub
Funny Pictures - Doctor Cat Comic
see more Lolcats and funny pictures.
epic win photos - Bumper Sticker WIN
see more Hacked IRL - Truth in Sarcasm
epic win photos - Literate and Comfortable WIN
see more Hacked IRL - Truth in Sarcasm... WANT!
Sofa Pizza
Reuters, via The High Definite:
A Dutch farmer watched in disbelief as a driver under the influence of cocaine drove a slalom course through his corn field, only to be joined by two police vehicles in hot pursuit, adding to the damage.

Police, backed up by a helicopter, eventually managed to corner the 35-year-old driver after he careered into a neighboring orchard and crashed into a ditch.

"Shoot out two tires... then the problem is solved," irate farmer Ad van Schendel told police, according to the Brabants Dagblad newspaper.

Van Schendel said he estimated the damage to his field near the southern town of Dussen last Friday at 7,000-8,000 euros.

demotivational posters - NO MR. BOND
see more Very Demotivational
Lawyers, Guns and Money
Bits and Pieces
Bits and Pieces
4koma comic strip - Lou Ferrigno is Pretty Scary...
see more Comixed
Toles, via Campanastan
funny dog pictures - no such thing
see more dog and puppy pictures
4koma comic strip - Proper Spacing is Key...
see more Comixed