Saturday, October 9, 2010

If Simon and Garfunkel Had Been Skeptics

The Sound of Science:
Just had a very pleasant conversation with Iris. She pointed out this video to me, which I thought was clever. Our conversation concluded with a discussion of the sludge ponds associated with minerals processing and coal burning, which wasn't so pleasant, in light of this week's disaster in Hungary.  The sludge ponds are much more common than I think people realize... topic for another time, I suppose.

Speaking of which, I have a post started about the fact that a rescue shaft has reached the trapped Chilean miners- though their actual removal will not start immediately, they and their families must be overjoyed at this news.  But I have a little catching up to do, and have decided to back-burner this post for the time being.

Saturd80's- Rainy Edition

The rain started last night about 10:30, and has been gently steady since.  I love western Oregon rain: it quiets everything down and it smells glorious- like life reborn.  It's generally light enough that you can walk where ever you're going without really getting wet.  I'll be tired of it in six months, and happy to see sunshine return, but for the time being, Welcome Back, Rain!

Eurythmics, Here Comes The Rain Again:
Dire Straits, It Never Rains:

The Beatles, Rain:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lucky Ones

International Coming Out Day is Monday, and there have been a number of stories around awareness of this event- culminating, of course in the news of the rash of suicides in bullied LGBT young people, most notably that of Tyler Clementi.  I had heard that Senator Jim DeMint (South Carolina) has proposed banning gays from teaching and then a couple of days ago, a Beaverton, Oregon student teacher was removed from his internship for admitting he is gay.  So Oregon has no DeMint, but at least parts of it do have a de facto ban on openly gay teachers.  Let's all pat ourselves on the back for our liberal tolerance and progressivism.
Stambaugh is in the Master of Education program at Lewis and Clark College. At the start of the current school year, he and his colleagues all started student teaching in area schools as part of the practicum portion of their education.

Stambaugh was paired with a teacher in a fourth-grade class at Sexton Mountain school in the Beaverton District. The story was first reported in the Portland Mercury newspaper and the account of what happened was confirmed by Stambaugh's lawyer Lake Perriguey.
He was leading a writing lesson when a fourth-grader asked him if he was married. Stambaugh said no. The student then asked why. Stambaugh replied that it would be illegal for him to get married because he would be choosing to marry another man. The student then asked if Stambaugh hanged out with guys and he said yes.

On Sept. 15, the school district informed Lewis and Clark that  Stambaugh would not be allowed back as a student teacher at the school. Stambaugh said that he was only told his comments were "inappropriate."
Which leads to this great piece at The Nation: the issue is not bullies.  The issue is that we as a culture somehow feel it's okay to marginalize and exclude members of the LGBT community.
Even for liberals who like to think of themselves as pro-gay, this is uncharted territory, little discussed except perhaps in the deepest corners of Parkest Slope. So when faced with something so painful and complicated as gay teen suicide, it's easier to go down the familiar path, to invoke the wrath of law and order, to create scapegoats out of child bullies who ape the denials and anxieties of adults, to blame it on technology or to pare down homophobia into a social menace called "anti-gay bullying" and then confine it to the borders of the schoolyard.
Then a few minutes ago, I read this op-ed in OregonLive, in which the author repeatedly emphasizes that he's "one of the lucky ones."
I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm still here, and I'm very happy. But it was far too hard getting here, and as we've seen very recently, far too many aren't so lucky. For all the visibility, our national conversation still hasn't changed.

How many more kids have to die before it will?
What appears to be the "official" video of this song can be found here; look at the death imagery and symbolism. I have no idea whether Ms. Naked is a lesbian, nor whether this song is intended to be about homosexuality, but it doesn't really matter. After reading the above op-ed, I knew I had to post it with this song. (Ahh... just figured out how to embed from this source... we'll see if it posts in the US.)
We are the lucky Ones BIF NAKED - MyVideo

Lucky ones, indeed. Count my voice added to the growing chorus chanting, "This has to end."

Deadline For Oregon Voting Registration Approaches

If you're an Oregon resident, and you've moved since the last time you voted (or have never voted before), the deadline for registration is Tuesday.  I saw an article at The Barometer (OSU's student newspaper) a couple of days ago discussing an ASOSU task force trying to get as many students- many of whom have moved over the past year or two- as possible registered over the next few days.  There have been a couple of people with the appropriate forms hanging out at 16th and Monroe today, answering questions and trying to get bypassers registered, and I'm sure there are more teams scattered around other near-campus locations as well.

One of the things I was told by the worker is that you can vote a "fail-safe" ballot as well (assuming you are properly registered).  This is like a back-up ballot; if you haven't received your ballot in the mail when you expect (for example, it's mis-delivered), you can fill this out, and the voting office will hold that form.  If your original ballot isn't returned, or has been improperly completed, the fail-safe ballot gets counted in its stead.

If you prefer, you can register on-line here.  This is going to sound strange at first, but this deadline is, in many ways, both easier to ignore or forget, and more important, than election day itself, at least for Oregon residents.  It's easier to miss because it doesn't get the attention and press that election day does, and I say more important since without getting yourself registered, everything else is irrelevant.

Oregon's vote-by-mail system means that once you're registered, the ballot is mailed to you.  As I remember, it goes out about two weeks before election day.  Once you receive it, you can return it any time before the close of election day (I'm thinking 8:00 PM, but I'll follow up when the day approaches).  You can either mail it back (postage required), or put it in an official drop box- the two I use most often are in OSU's Valley Library and Corvallis Public Library.  In other words, the system is wonderfully flexible in letting you think and vote at a time that is convenient for you.  Other than familiarizing yourself with the issues and candidates, registration is arguably the most important and demanding part of the process- and it's pretty easy.

So whatever your political views, take the time to get yourself registered before the close of day next Tuesday.  The rest of the process pretty much takes care of itself.

Knowledgeably Corrupt

As syllogisms go, this is logically correct. However, the first premise is patently untrue, for better or for worse.
funny graphs - The More You Know - No, Wait!
see more Funny Graphs

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Almost forgot: it's Thorsday already!
So here's Freyja, a picture from Wikipedia.

Glacier in... New Mexico?

My friend Al sent me a link earlier with the title "Instant Glacier," which I just got around to reading.  Sort of funny, sort of amazing.  According to an article in New Mexico Geology, Volume 26, #4 (November 2004),
Hail accumulations reaching 12 inches were followed by as much as 5 inches of rain. So much rain fell in such a short period of time that the pea- and marble-sized hail was carried along first as sheet flood and then concentrated in a small drainage tributary to Sand Draw (Fig. 3) estimated to be approximately 15–20 ft deep. Approximately 8 mi south of Clayton just off NM–402 (sec. 10 T24N R35E), the hail began piling up behind a 12–16 ft culvert that was unable to handle the flow. Hail filled the small draw, as rain continued to flow across the fields, through the tons of ice, and onto the highway.
And the result? Instant glacier! Check the link for many more photos and the full story. (579 kb PDF)

For The Record

I regularly see the claim from climate denialists that volcanoes dump much more CO2 into the atmosphere than human activities. Only rarely do I see it pointed out that this is simply false.  The Guardian does so today:
If you have been a victim of the rumour, persistent in some circles, that volcanic CO2 emissions dwarf those of human activity, now is the time to be liberated.
According to the British Geological Survey:
The contribution to the present day atmospheric CO2 loading from volcanic emissions is, however, relatively insignificant, and it has been estimated that subaerial volcanism releases around 300 Mt/yr CO2.
The US Geological Survey estimate is lower still:
Volcanoes emit … about 130–230 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. This estimate includes both subaerial and submarine volcanoes, about in equal amounts.
What I hadn't seen before was the estimate that human CO2 production was on the order of 100 times that of volcanoes.  Wow.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Gruesome Big Picture

I'm always a little surprised at the speed with which's Big Picture delivers its timely photojournalism on recent events, though sometimes, as with today's edition, I find the results disturbing.  Toxic sludge at an alumina processing plant broke through a retention dam in Hungary on Monday, inundating a nearby village, and severely impacting a number of others.
The volume of sludge is estimated to be a 700,000 cubic meters.  From an article at The Guardian,
Hungary declared a state of emergency in three counties yesterday after a dam burst at an alumina plant in Ajka, releasing a torrent of toxic red sludge that swept through local villages. Four people were killed, three reported missing and 120 were injured.
And below is some video of the deluge, posted by The NYT, (more video of the cleanup at the link) looking for all the world like something out of a Bible story.
I haven't seen anything on the composition of this material, but apparently, it's quite alkaline- many of those hospitalized are suffering from chemical burns. I'd presume a large component is iron oxides- iron oxides and aluminum oxides make silica (SiO2) look highly soluble, but reports are saying there are lots of other toxic metals in this witch's brew. Gack.

Wednesday Wednesday

From Murderbomb

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tuesday Tits

Siberian Tit, Poecile cinctus, formerly Parus cinctus.

Today's Useless But Amusing Trivia Tidbit

According to Balloon Juice, SpongeBob SquarePants gets twice as many viewers as Glenn Beck.

You're welcome.

(Fair disclosure: the author of this blog doesn't watch either of them.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Vote For The Canadian!

Clay Bennett of the Chattanooga Times Free Press gets it right, again.  But I think all three of these characters are Canadian.  Can we just do like Caligula, and vote for the horse?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

OSU Flash Mob Goes All Bollywood

This is cute, from the front of the MU last Friday, via KGW News.
In all, more than 70 Oregon State University students and staff -- co-conspirators in the surprise event, which had been months in the making -- shed jackets and sweatshirts to reveal bright orange T-shirts and join in the synchronized dance moves.

Since I can't not talk about rocks, there are some nice mafic xenoliths in the granite making up those steps and the piers on either side of them.  There are actually quite a number of cool rocks in and around the MU.

Sunday Funnies

Funny Puns-You've Never Tasted Squeakier Muffins
see more So Much Pun
funny pictures of cats with captions
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The Daily What
Detroit Metalworkers' Union October centerfold girl  Joan
see more Historic LOL
demotivational posters - THE ECONOMY
see more Very Demotivational
Tree Lobsters
Bits and Pieces
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...And just what makes you so sure the ANTI-CHRIST is a HIM?
see more Political Pictures
Sofa Pizza
The High Definite
The High Definite
Bother me not.  Thou must wait ...  .. for it to trickle down.
see more Historic LOL
Bits and Pieces
Skull Swap
Skull Swap
Sober in a Nightclub
funny pictures-iz hadz mr. snuggies forebber
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Toles, via Balloon Juice
Alright You Primitive Screwheads, Listen Up!
see more Political Pictures
Sofa Pizza
This is the wrong way to defuse a landmine... Senor Gif... "At least he's wearing a protective baseball cap."
Sober in a Nightclub
Boing Boing, available for sale from The Affable Atheist.
job lols - Score!
see more Monday Through Friday
Even Fruit Needs A PR Department
see more Oddly Specific
Bits and Pieces
funny pictures-RAWR! Iz I doin it rite? RAWWWR!!!
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
Cyanide and Happiness
Sober in a Nightclub
see more So Much Pun "Rated 'M' for Grizzly Violence."
Bits and Pieces
Sober in a Nightclub
Calamities of Nature
Sober in a Nightclub
Photon Torpedoes?! May The Force Be With Them...

see more Lol Celebs
demotivational posters - EGG CLOUDS
see more Very Demotivational
Funny Puns-But His Field Name Was Raven!
see more So Much Pun
We Are So Screwed
see more Monday Through Friday
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
demotivational posters - FLOWERS
see more Very Demotivational

How to make a BLT:
Bits and Pieces
Skull Swap: Jackie Chan Vs. Sauron.  Below, from Senor Gif, the thrilling conclusion plus the blooper reel:

Savage Chickens
demotivational posters - STOP TALKING
see more Very Demotivational
The Daily What

Fake Science
Sofa Pizza
Sofa Pizza
Sofa Pizza
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
The High Definite