Saturday, March 20, 2010


Motels, Total Control:

Oingo Boingo, Private Life:

Wall of Voodoo, Tomorrow:

Four Worlds, Four Scales

This is today's APOD, from Teide National Park on the island of Tenerife. Not only is the photo stunningly beautiful, it's stunning in the range of scales captured. The starry, mottled arc of our Milky Way galaxy curves across the sky. Dust in the ecliptic plane of the solar system reflects sunlight to create the slightly left-leaning spike of zodiacal light from the middle horizon. A starkly rugged volcanic landscape, with a relatively fresh lava flow, brings the viewer to our own planet- still frequently overwhelming in its scale, however trivial compared to that of the solar system and galaxy. Because compared to the fourth world and scale- our own selves- all three of the former are so many magnitudes larger.

Still, in our thinking, reasoning, and imagination, we can represent, capture, if you will, all of these other worlds and scales. I guess that makes the whole thing kind of a cosmic "Rock, Paper, Scissors" game, doesn't it?

The mind reels.

Two Hours Ago

We passed the precise moment of the spring equinox. It's sort of mind boggling to me that we can measure that moment to the precise second. It's 60 degrees and sunny here in Corvallis, though thin cirrus are starting to pile up; showers are expected to move in tonight or tomorrow. Even though the next couple of days may be gloomy and wet, today is a perfect first day of spring. Unlike Kansas and Oklahoma, where snow is apparently a mess.

Time Passes

(photo from Wikipedia) 30 years ago today, the first quake heralding the beginning of Mt. St. Helens' modern eruptive cycle occurred. It's also approximately the day I first arrived at OSU. From modest beginnings and all...

This is part in a multi-part series on the events leading up to the catastrophic eruption of Mt. St Helens on May 18th, 1980, 30 years ago this spring. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8.

Friday, March 19, 2010


I showed Jon, the older son of Bill and Iris, the picture of Iron Mandrill, and he was pretty excited; he's a big fan of comic heroes. He wanted to know if that could be done with sea animals, so I showed him the picture of Iron Manatee that gave me the idea (about 2/3 down the Sunday Funnies). He was really excited; Iris tells me he's a big fan of sea animals. He said, "It would be really cool to do one with Spiderman!" (He's a huge fan of Spiderman.)

So here you go, Jon, spider crabs:
and a Spiderspider crab.
Sleep well, kiddo.

I Suppose This Was Inevitable

I also suppose it's been corrected now. (Via Skepchick's Flickr stream)

Sarah Does Alaska

Dear Gawd, doesn't this... thing... get enough air time already?
Sources say A&E Networks and Discovery Communications want to acquire Palin's project, which focuses on the ex-governor giving a guided tour of her native Alaska -- visiting fishing boats and taking a trip to a gold mine, to cite a couple of examples. Mark Burnett is executive producer of the project, whose working title is "Sarah Palin's Alaska."
She is reportedly "asking for between $1 million and $1.5 million per episode." So, um, yeah. The Torture Never Stops.

Slime and rot and rats and snuck
Vomit on the floor
Fifty ugly soldier men
Holdin' spears by the iron door
Stinks so bad, stones are chokin'
Weepin' greenish drops
In the den where
The giant fire puffer woiks
And the torture never stops
The torture never stops, torture
The torture never stops
The torture never stops

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fresh Mountain Air

Beautiful satellite image of Mauna Loa at NASA's Earth Observatory site, with contours drawn in. Look at those lovely flows! But what's particularly interesting about this post is the discussion of why the Mauna Loa Observatory is such a good location for measuring the CO2 content of the atmosphere, and how emissions of that gas are filtered out of the data accumulated there. Essentially, the prevailing winds only rarely carry emissions from the summit to the observatory, and when they do, it's obvious what's happening. Those data points are simply not counted; what they're looking for is long-term averages and trends, not spikes.


I love it when a couple of pieces I set aside as interesting, but not quite blogworthy in their own rights, end up being a nice compliment to each other. First, consider this quote from A. Toffler, found at Joie De Vivre earlier
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
I presume that's Alvin Toffler, who wrote the bestseller, Future Shock, though I don't see the above at a page of his quotes. Ah, here it is. There are some good ones at those two pages, and I also found out that he and I share the same birthday, albeit 31 years apart.

That matches nicely with this article from, "Warning: Your Reality is Out of Date." The article introduces the concept of a "mesofact," a bit of data that is definitely true, but only for a fixed period of time. The first number I can recall hearing for the total global population was 4-4.5 billion, corresponding to the second half of the seventies. I knew we had passed 6 Gigahumans a while back, but I hadn't realized that it was 11 years ago, nor that we were anticipating the arrival of the seven billionth next year. In other words, that figure is one we need to keep relearning, if it's one that's important to us.
Our schools are biased against mesofacts. The arc of our educational system is to be treated as little generalists when children, absorbing bits of knowledge about everything from biology to social studies to geology. But then, as we grow older, we are encouraged to specialize. This might have been useful in decades past, but in our increasingly fast-paced and interdisciplinary world, lacking an even approximate knowledge of our surroundings is unwise.

Updating your mesofacts can change how you think about the world. Do you know the percentage of people in the world who use mobile phones? In 1997, the answer was 4 percent. By 2007, it was nearly 50 percent. The fraction of people who are mobile phone users is the kind of fact you might read in a magazine and quote at a cocktail party. But years later the number you would be quoting would not just be inaccurate, it would be seriously wrong. The difference between a tiny fraction of the world and half the globe is startling, and completely changes our view on global interconnectivity.
Dr. Arbesman's article is a fun read, and if you like to stay as current as possible on relevant facts regarding our ever-changing world, the mesofact website and associated blog are worth checking out. Minor quibble: many of the graphics link to Wikipedia as the data source.

Too Much Information?

I follow a number of Oregon newspapers through my RSS. Portland's The Oregonian, OregonLive online, is pretty much the go-to source for Oregon news, but I like to read a variety of perspectives. The next paper in my mental ranking system has to be the Bend Bulletin. Bend is distinctly different in culture and political leanings than western Oregon generally, and the Portland-Willamette Valley area specifically. Today there's an announcement that they're going to go from posting about a half dozen articles a day to about fifty. We'll see if I have the patience to deal with that increased number... it's possible I won't. Which is too bad; the paper has some good writers and editors, and doesn't rely as heavily as many others on wire feeds. Also too, an engaging sense of humor:
Registered dietitian Jill Weisenberger once had a client who kept a puzzling food journal. The calorie counts were all out of whack. The woman's tuna sandwich had 33 calories. An apple: 144.Turns out the woman was mistaking a food-calorie book's index for a calorie chart.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When in Doubt...

(Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) ...go for the dick joke- Robin Williams

An Obscure Joke

that I really like, stolen in its entirety from Making Light:
Werner Heisenberg, Kurt Gödel, and Noam Chomsky walk into a bar. Heisenberg says, "It's very odd and improbable that we three are in this bar together. It suggests to me that we're in a joke, but I can't be certain."

Gödel says, "Well, if we were outside the joke we would know, but since we're inside it, there's no way we can make that determination."

And Chomsky says, "Of course this is a joke, but you're telling it wrong!"
There are many more in the comments, some old and dumb, some new and funny to me. For example:
A dyslexic drunk walks into a bra....
Davy Crockett walked into a bar. He kilt it!
Since I do like to add something in my posts, here are a couple of oldies but goodies:

A pair of atoms are walking out of a bar, when one suddenly stops and says, "Oh, no! I think I lost an electron in there!" The other pauses, and asks, "Are you positive?"

A neutron walks into a bar and asks the price of the beer on tap. The bartender smiles, and says, "For you? No charge!"

Wednesday Wednesday

"Wait, we can not break bread with you. You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, and you will play golf. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They said do not trust the pilgrims. And especially do not trust Sarah Miller. For all these reasons I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground."
(Picture and quote from here) Sewww... I've decided I will do a Wednesday Wednesday for a while. But I'm not going to try to find other people named after the other days of the week. Much too much work, for declining humor value.

You're welcome.

The Chicks of Rock

I don't recall whether I got around to posting this video when I first saw it. I meant to, but there are far more blog-worthy things I come across than I actually get to. At any rate, if this is a repeat, apologies; if not, it's a fun clip of zebra finches playing guitars.

I'm curious if the birds learn to make an association between the instruments and the noise that's produced, but the reason I bring this up is that there was a fun story at The Guardian yesterday on the unfolding events at this exhibit: one of the finches laid an egg on a guitar. "The day an egg stopped the rock-chick show. The Barbican's new exhibition features birds playing musical instruments – which leads to the occasional unexpected drama." I read it, then marked it as unread, half thinking I might write a bit about it, but not really wanting to bother seeing if I'd posted the clip before. Then this morning one of the bloggers I follow, Bing McGhandi at Happy Jihad's House of Pancakes, stuck it up, making it easy, and really, unavoidable.

And you thought this post was going to be about the upcoming film, "The Runaways," didn't you? No. I would never refer to Joan Jett as a "chick."

You Can Have Ours

The Christian Science Monitor has an op-ed piece with the provocative title, "Britain needs a Glenn Beck." How could I not read that? I think the author makes a good point- that in this day and age, to forbid television journalists from expressing or promoting a particular point of view amounts to a violation of human rights- but seriously, couldn't you come up with a better metaphor than Beck? Still, if Britain wants Glenn Beck, I for one have no problem. In fact, I'm all for it. I think it would be endlessly entertaining to watch him rant about living in a country even more "socialist" and welfare-oriented than the US. I'm also curious how long it would be before he started perceiving the US as a threat to his and Britain's existence.

So, Um, Yeah. Whatever.

Yet another holiday that has no bearing whatsoever on my existence, but I did find the bingo card amusing. Not putting it down or anything... in fact, if it is a day that has meaning to you, I sincerely hope you enjoy it. But on to other stuff for me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

All Cats Are Above Average

I recently discovered "Average Cats," a website that appears to be the antithesis of LOLcats. Anything taken to an extreme can be very funny. Average Cats qualifies.


So I didn't quite manage to find anything Sufficiently Famous to do a "Monday" post yesterday. The closest I came was some guy named Bill Munday who has a Ford dealership somewhere in Texas. Meh. Though had it occurred to me yesterday, not this morning, I would have posted it with the punny title "Mondayn." Nevertheless, I'll go ahead and wish you a lovely Tuesday.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Planning His Vengeance

Iron Mandrill. (title from here) Taking "inspiration," so to speak, from one of the funnies yesterday. This one goes out to a couple of simian bloggers I pay attention to, Dr Monkerstein, and Dr. Zauis. (Coincidence Alert: they're also featured at Ugly Overload today.)

Followup, March 16: This had to be done...


I've seen this posted in various iterations over the last week or so; this latest one is from Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr. See that last step, where they divide both sides by (a-b)? a=b, so a-b=0. In fact, each step from the fourth on is saying 0=0, which is true, but you still aren't allowed to divide it out. These sort of things are fun as long as you don't take them seriously, or if you take them seriously enough to find the sneaky "divide by zero" step. Is that a syncline or a distortion in the space-time continuum? Hard to say when you've divided by zero.

A La Mode

The CSM has an absurd gallery of "fashions" today. I recall seeing the Talking Heads movie "True Stories," probably in 1987 or 88, and cracking up at the fashion show. Surely outfits couldn't be more outrageously silly than the astroturf and architecturally inspired disasters displayed in that scene.

I was wrong. So very wrong.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Salt Flats and Dunes on Mars

This is a crop from a much larger image posted at Red Orbit yesterday showing what is tentatively interpreted as a salt flat on a playa. The polygonally jointed white material may be chloride salts such as halite and sylvite. If so, this would indicate the past presence of standing water, which, as the accompanying blurb states, would indicate "a habitable (but not necessarily inhabited) environment." It is being considered as a landing site for future rover missions. The RO post is here, and here's the full size image (2048 X 1536 px.), which is well worth a close look.


I can't find anyone or anything of Great Fame named Sunday... but there is a facebook group called "The United Group of People Named Sunday EVERYWHERE!" There are 46 members, nearly all of whom are named Sunday, oddly enough.
Well, my name is Sunday, and I have never meant anyone else named Sunday in person! I want to make this group to unite all the Sundays everywhere so we can see if there is any similarities with people of the same name!
And no, I'm not going to spend the day making silly puns. I got that out of my system yesterday. For the time being, at least.

Pi Day!

3-14 is international pi day. Celebrate Math! Eat some pie! What more could one ask of a holiday?

Sunday Funnies

The Daily What: Fareham, Hampshire resident Jane has found a nutty way of getting her lolz on: She suspends two coconuts in mid-air from her clothes line once a week, and watches as local squirrels dive face-first into a pre-cut hole in the fruit’s hard husk. “The first time I saw them feeding I nearly died laughing,” Jane tells The Sun. “They looked like a pair of astronauts.”Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Skull Swap
Skull Swap
Sober in a Nightclub
Via Firedoglake
Medium Large
Picture is Unrelated
engrish funny thousand ireland
see more Engrish
Criggo... I guess you could pay me enough to take those off your hands.
demotivational posters
see more Demotivators
Skull Swap
Skull Swap
Oddly Specific
Pope Benedict XVI and Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni
see more Political Pictures
woman with giant underpants
see more Political Pictures
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Let There Be Blogs
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
Sober in a Nightclub
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
demotivational posters
see more Demotivators
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Google Street View: the early years, from Let There be Blogs.
Invisible turntables, from Acting Like Animals.
Hacked IRL
Sea Horse, from Picture is Unrelated
Bits and Pieces
Hacked IRL, with the note,
My cursory glance at the interwebs finds the Fiat 127 Palio beginning in 1979, though it’s strange to think that jokes about sexual harassment still flew that late in history. “A Car So Lovely, You’ll Break Out the Roofies.”
demotivational posters
see more Demotivators
engrish funny sure bathing
see more Engrish
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Medium Large
demotivational posters
see more
engrish boiled scorn
see more Engrish
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Zombie Exterminators, from Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr.
Luke Surl, with the title "Gown with the Wind."
The Daily What
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
Sober in a Nightclub
The Daily What... I hadn't realized this was the issue with Mad's first Star Trek parody, "Star Blecch, ~December 1967.
Bits and Pieces
The Bu Element
Oddly Specific
Chuck & Beans
Goodwig Design, only $15. There are some other fun tees there as well.
I Hate My Parents
Skull Swap
Sober in a Nightclub
Bad Bits
Fabulous kitties, from Criggo
The Daily What
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
Bits and Pieces
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures