Saturday, November 15, 2008

One is Science Fiction...

and one isn't. From Dark Roasted Blend. Full-size here.
It's the one above, right? Nope. That is Anara Tower, apparently planned for construction in Dubai. More pictures and information here and here. The wind turbine at the top is supposed to supply some of the building's electricity, and overall the building is supposed to be almost self-sufficient. Oh and that weird little blimpy-looking thing at the middle of the turbine? At 700 meters off the ground, it's a restaurant. Architecture and design by Atkins Global; skimming over their site, I'm not seeing links to this or other incredible projects, but wow.

No the science fiction is below: detailed picture of various light sabres in the Star Wars Epic. Full-size here.

Followup: I've been meaning to pass this item along for a while, and this is an appropriate post in which to do it. Ridley Scott, Director of Bladerunner, has been tagged to do what looks to be the next epic Fail: Monopoly, The Movie, with an eye toward giving it a futuristic sheen along the lines of his iconic “Blade Runner.” If you've seen Blade Runner, remember Rutger Hauer's closing speech, then go read this fellow's take. If you haven't, he helpfully included a YouTube clip. I consider Blade Runner to be the greatest SF Movie I've ever seen, but how could Ridley Scott take on a commercialization of a game? Bleah.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Strange Bunkmates

Looks like Christine Todd Whitman came to the same conclusion I have, but beat me to it by a number of years. I actually like smart, honest Republicans. I just wish more of them could be nominated by their party.

How Shub Saved Saakashvili

From The Times Online (UK)
With Russian tanks only 30 miles from Tbilisi on August 12, Mr Sarkozy told Mr Putin that the world would not accept the overthrow of Georgia’s Government. According to Mr Levitte, the Russian seemed unconcerned by international reaction. "I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls," Mr Putin declared.

Mr Sarkozy thought he had misheard. "Hang him?" — he asked. "Why not?" Mr Putin replied. "The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein."

Mr Sarkozy, using the familiar tu, tried to reason with him: "Yes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?" Mr Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: "Ah — you have scored a point there."
I can imagine this being a very persuasive argument for would-be dictators. And for parents. "Eat your broccoli. Or do you want to end up like George Bush?"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Percussive Maintainence:

(n.) 1: The act of slapping or pounding a machine that is not functioning properly.

Dis kitteh haz it down. Hmmm... embedding doesn't seem to be working; here's a link to the host page.

Hat tip to The Angry Ballerina

The Whole of the Moon

Dean Wormer has posted a list of songs he wants played at his funeral. As I commented at that post, I'd never thought about a list, but I've had one song picked out since the mid '80's. This one.

More Water

Oddee has a post on "10 Most Unique Lakes of our World." I was blown away by the first choice, the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, a series of sixteen lakes connected by waterfalls. I don't think I've seen pictures of this before. The multiple outlets are kind of odd, and I'm wondering if this isn't an area of calcite deposition. Erosion would tend to emphasize one outlet, and more flow would tend to positively reinforce that. Deposition would tend to restrict outlets, causing overflow elsewhere. Whatever the cause, it's gorgeous.

Oh, and number nine is a few hours down the road from me, but photos can't capture the surreal sapphire blue of that lake.

The title is due to a realization of how many water-related posts I've had over the last few days. Kind of ironic, now that the rain has stoppped and the sun's out.

Life in a Geode

When I taught the occasional class for youngsters (elementary level), one activity I often did was egg-shell geodes: take a washed eggshell, hopefully half the shell or more, and fill it to the brim with saturated copper sulfate solution. As the solution cools and evaporates, you get beautiful blue crystals filling the shell over a period of days. Copper sulfate is not hugely toxic, but you don't want to breathe the dust or ingest any of it- and with this age group you need to make it very clear what the ground rules are regarding safety concerns. I generally asked parents to send in a note allowing the student to take their geode home, or (for some of the summer camp-type of classes), simply hand it off to the parent at the end.

So the dust created as spectators tramp around in this project is a bit of a concern to me, but still... very cool! Full discussion and video at the linked site.

For you geo-types, does copper sulfate ever crystallize as a mineral in the weathering zone above copper sulfide deposits? I don't think I've ever seen it listed as a mineral, but I would think it might occasionally be left behind in arid environments, such as the southern Arizona copper belt. Also, the name I remember for such weathering zones is "gossan," but in googling that term, it apparently applies specifically to iron oxide/hydroxide weathering remnants. What term would you apply to weathered copper deposits containing the typical suite of malachite, azurite, chrysocolla and so on?

Followup: Bunch more pictures here

Followup Wed. 11/19: Here

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

He's Older Than He Looks

Baroque Obama, from BuzzFeed

Some Things Just Make You Feel Old

From BuzzFeed
Remember this album? Yeah, that's the same kid whose photo was on the first version.

Confusion in the Bible Belt

Greatest Graph Jam EVAR!
song chart memes
more music charts
I linked to this site a while back ('scuse me while I go find the link), but this is genius and I had to share. Also, there's an old joke you may not have heard...

Q: Did you hear about the agnostic dyslexic insomniac?
A: He used to lay awake at night wondering if there was a dog.

Followup: It occured to me that another concern a dyslexic evangelical might have is "How many angles can dance on the head of a pin?"

World Ground Water Resources

There's a new, very cool map of world groundwater resources (4.4 Mb PDF). I heartily loathe PDF's, but this is an interesting map. In addition to the main map there are four inset maps of mean annual precipitation, population density, mean annual river discharge and annual groundwater recharge per capita. Legend is in the lower right. News release-type of article at New Scientist.

As the article explains, this is a much more serious issue than most people realize. After air, there is no more important resource for sustaining life. Living in the western US, one cannot help but be aware of the role water has played in shaping the history of the area; even though the area I live is pretty well set regarding water, I only have to travel a couple of hours to get to some very dry climates. As I said yesterday, I do like my water.

Geology Haiku

I haven't made a habit of participating in "memes," but there's one going around the geoblogosphere today that I decided to try my hand at: geology haiku.

high on a mountain
dark eocene volcanoes
sleeping in pillows

Well, I like it. I don't have a digital camera, and all my slides were destroyed a few years ago, so I lifted this photo from flickr. It's over on the coast, but I'm pretty sure it's the same Siletz River Volcanics that underlie Marys Peak, just to the west of me.
On a related note, it's funny how what seems mundane and common to one person can seem exciting and exotic to another. Zeolites are pretty abundant around here, but visitors really light up when they find a nice chunk of crystals. And I was pretty excited when this paper came out towards the tail end of my undergrad degree. (3.35 Mb PDF)

This meme was incited by Suvrat, and has been also addressed by MJC Rocks. Here's hoping others chime in.

Followup: Others Chiming In: Kim Bryan JJ A Life-Long Scholar Silver Fox Dave S. Short Geologist

Wow, there's some great ones out there!

And more (11/17): Neat Rox Chris

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Know How Hard it is to Put Food On Your Family

And other remembrances. As an ex-teacher, my favorite has been "If you teach a child to read, he or her can pass a literacy test." Simultaneously proving that he would be unable to pass his much-beloved tests, and that he has entirely missed the point (as well as the benefit) of being literate.

The following has been circulating all over the blogosphere today, from here.
Obama thinks he is a good talker, but he is often undisciplined when he speaks.
He needs to understand that as President, his words will be scrutinized and will
have impact whether he intends it or not. In this regard, President Bush is an
excellent model; Obama should take a lesson from his example. Bush never gets
sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and
precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting. In the eight years he
has been President, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he has
committed. If Obama doesn't raise his standards, he will exceed Bush's total
before he is inaugurated.

See, this is why I'll never be able to vote for a Republican. I'm fascinated by Eisenhower, Lincoln, Garfield (more on the latter some other time). But you can't just ignore the fact that even if you think Iraq is the noblestest thing ever, Bush's eloquence rates somewhere between that of a mollusk and a planarian. Obama will make mistakes, and he's already done several things of which I deeply disapprove (telecom immunity, anyone?). But to say Obama should take lessons on elocution and verbal precision from Shrub? I think the correct spelling is PHBBBBBBBBBT!

Another oft-remarked item that got under my skin was this one, from MSNBC
WASHINGTON - A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a
Marxist dictatorship. "It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Whatever. The reason I even bring this up is that I saw the Grrrreatest (in your best Tony the Tiger Voice) response to this at Just an Earthbound Misfit. Nicely said, EB, nicely said.

Phirehose Photo

Consider this a followup to my post earlier today. We get into set-ups like this a two or three times each winter... the satellite pics show this long torrent of water just streaming right at us. Very cool. One not-so-good thing that I forgot to mention earlier is that the first part of the storm will drop a lot of snow in the Cascades (the Coast Range isn't high enough to get any real accumulation at this point). Tomorrow, freezing level will go way up, and a lot of that fresh snow will melt. Flooding may ensue; we'll see. The main worry right now seems to be flooding on the west side of the Coast Range. Rainfall so far is approaching two inches. Bill just got back from spending the day in Newport (on the coast directly west of Corvallis), and said it was windy, but the amount of rainfall wasn't that extreme.

From here:
The system that's moving in this afternoon has tapped into a pool of tropical
moisture and could dump an additional inch or two of rain in the Willamette
Valley, and five to eight inches of rain in the Coast range and Cascade

If you don't click over, the title to that article is, "You know the drill: More rain, more wind, possible flooding." Yup, we know the drill.

You know, I was looking at this, and it was taken in the same band at the same time as the third picture in the post linked above; I think it may be just the direction the camera is pointed that changed. Ahh, no, I just double checked; this was taken an hour earlier.

Followup: Oops, this picture was taken yesterday. It's the same as the first picture in the previous post. Duh.

Gotta Love Google

And their wicked sense of advertising. A few weeks ago the spammers found my account- I almost never got any notes in my spam box before then, and most of those were confirmation notices that I wanted. But now, 10-15 spams a day. And Google helpfully sticks a Spam recipe advertisement at the top. Spam veggie pitas- slice before serving. Spam Primavera - Toss with linguini, serve immediately. Mmm, Mmm! I don't know if I ever want to eat again. It was widely said when I was a youngster (and I believed it) that Spam was an acronym for "scientifically processed animal matter." Actually, I'm surprised that Spam allows their product to be associated with spam.

On the plus side, I've been winning millions of Euros and dollars every single day.

Which brings me to this story...

Woman ends up sending $400,000 to 'Nigerian scam' con artists

Apparently some poor sap from Sweet Home (across the valley, in the Cascade foothills) actually fell for that scam... yeah, the one that was well known when I started using the innertubez in '94. The teaser in my reader says,

How did an otherwise lucid, intelligent woman end up sending nearly half a
million dollars to a bunch of con artists running what has to be one of the
best-known Internet scams in the world?

Well, could be, umm, maybe... she's not a lucid, intelligent woman! Duh! Following are some excerpts:

Spears received just such an e-mail, promising her that she’d get $20.5
million if she would only help out a long-lost relative – identified in the
e-mail as J.B. Spears – with a little money up front. "That's what got me to
believe it," Spears said.


Then the amount she would get jumped up to $26.6 million – if she would
just send $8,300. Spears sent the money. More promises and teases of
multi-millions followed, with each one dependent on her sending yet more money.
Most of the missives were rife with misspellings. When Spears began to
doubt the scam, she got letters from the President of Nigeria, FBI Director
Mueller, and President Bush. Terrorists could get the money if she did not help,
Bush’s letter said. Spears continued to send funds. All the letters were fake,
of course.


For more than two years, Spears sent tens and hundreds of thousands of
dollars. Everyone she knew, including law enforcement officials, her family and
bank officials, told her to stop, that it was all a scam. She persisted.

Well. My brother often laments that people never say "well, it's a free country," any more. Well, It's a free country. But when the well-meaning folks at the society for the Prevention of Taking Advantage of Idiotic Tendencies and Other Eccentric Shortcomings (POTAITOES) starts up a fund to reimburse this poor soul for all her suffering, I will be in line to help out big-time. All they need to do is send me $100 so I can buy and assemble the circuits for the wire transfer.

Rain, Rain, Here to Stay

They say "April showers bring May Flowers." "They" don't live in Oregon. Here we say "November showers bring dead leaves." Our flowers start in early February, but I'll save that for later. We've had an unusually dry fall so far; last year the rain started in early October; at this point we were well into "winter." We just started getting drizzle a week and a half ago (that is, the sun went away and the ground was damp- you could still walk around and not really get wet most of the time). But the Oregonian warned yesterday we had a major storm (or series of storms, it's often not really clear) on the way in for today and Wednesday.

Oddly, because we've had a dry and calm fall, so far, those dead leaves are a real concern: they're mostly still up in the trees. In the next 36 hours or so, there will be an enormous amount of wet organic debris falling... making the roads slick... blocking gutters and drains. There's a reason our sports teams are called Beavers and Ducks. My friend Bob would argue that only in Oregon would we name our teams after prey animals. I would prefer to think we are well-adapted to lacustrine environments, which is what our streets become with a sudden shift from dry, cool and calm weather to wet, cool and blustery weather. From an article today:
The weather service issued a high wind watch for the north and central Oregon
coast through tonight with gusts to near 60 mph expected to rake exposed
headlands and beaches and sustained winds of 40 mph. Urban street flooding also
is a distinct possibility, Collins said, because of storm drains choked with
This map suggests we'll get about 2 inches today; The Weather Channel predicts 1 inch today, 1 inch tonight, for a total of 2 inches.
And this map predicts we'll get about 1 1/2 inches tomorrow. The weather channel predicts 1 inch for tomorrow- but they're not including tomorrow night with that. More is predicted (though decreasing) for Thursday.

Today's article refers to this as a "Fire-Hose" storm; this GOES west visible image shows why- this was taken yesterday at 21:30 UTC (1:30 PM local time)

This is an infrared image from the same satellite at 22:30 UTC today (2:30 PM local); you can see the stream from the "fire hose" splashing into the coast.

And this is the visible light image, taken at the same time as the previous IR picture. The IR is lighter where it's cooler, so really what you see in that image is where the cloud tops are higher. Higher elevation means more intense uplift of the air mass, and correlates pretty well to most intense precipitation. It also helps bring out the internal structure of the storm.

So far today, we've had just a steady soaking rain- and when I say "today," the rain started at about 12:30 or 1:00 this morning (passing cars make a very distinct sound on wet pavement, so even if I don't look outside, I'm aware it's wet). Nothing too heavy, just steady. The wind has been pretty gentle so far, as well. But as I look out the window of my favorite coffee shop, the leaves are piling up in the bike lanes...

And if you're feeling smug, "I'm glad I don't have to put up with that rain," it'll get to you. But instead of being gentle, at 55-60 degrees, it'll be a howling blizzard.

Besides, I'm a beaver. I like my dammed lakes. (no, that's not a pun; it's how the lakes are created)

Nice, nice, very nice.

All the presidents' heads. Almost forgot about this one... I found it (here) late last week. (full-sized) Nice. Very nice.

Anyone recognize the song by the same name as the post title?

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Obamas' Puppeh...

will be a Howdy Doodle, which according to the AKC is a "cross between a standard poodle and a buck-toothed marionette."

OK, not really.

In other news, Blooger, I mean Blogger, has for some reason seen fit to re-format my reformatting, with a resulting blue line down the middle-right of my Blog. I'll give it a while and see if it gets better on its own. If not, I'll have to go in and start tinkering with the code. Note to Blooger, I mean Blogger: You do not want me tinkering with code. My first experience with that was during a visit to a serene Pacific Island called Bikini. I crashed the system pretty badly...