Saturday, July 24, 2010

Exclusive! Journalist Finds Report From 2007!

So, um, yeah, if you know anything about seismic hazards, you know Turkey is a danger zone, along with Iran, the US west coast, yada, yada, yada. I just love the word exclusive in the headline. Reading through the article, I found nothing new or surprising to me. Then I got to the end and found that the article is apparently based on a report from three years ago:
The 2007 study by Erdik and Durukal says a magnitude 7.5 earthquake in Istanbul could cause up to 40,000 fatalities, 120,000 injuries and noted that the casualty figure estimates were almost 10 times higher than those that would result from a similar quake in San Francisco or Tokyo.
Man, I really should get into this racket:
  • Exclusive: Volcanoes not caused by burning coal seams, claim scientists
  • Breaking News! Earth orbits sun, not vice-versa, in research stunner
  • Expedition to track writhing dragons that generate earthquakes
  • Brontosaurs thin at one end, thick in middle, then thin again at other end: proof found
  • Why 42? Scientists close in on question


Via Mock, Paper, Scissors, from a brilliant Flashback Friday, "dedicated to President CareBear." Missing Persons, Words:

Psychedelic Furs, Pretty in Pink:

The Cramps, Human Fly:

And You Thought The Pelicans Were Horrifying

The Big Picture had a couple of great photo essays this week, though in both some of the pictures made my stomach jumpy."Oil Spill in Dalian, China." The worker was apparently trying to repair an underwater pump.
"Stormy Skies" This is a nice flicker gif that nicely draws out the three-dimensional nature of a storm column, taken from the ISS in December.

The Palinator Is Getting Some Mighty Strange Coverage in Taiwan

It doesn't say "Paid for by SarahPac," and it doesn't end with "My name is Sarah Palin and I approve this message," (though perhaps she's speaking in Chinese) so this may not be official. You never know. Via Buzzfeed.

Followup: There's a version with English subtitles here. It appears to be a (somewhat) serious report with an over-the-top lampooning video track.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hah-Ha-Ha... Wha?

A robot learning to flip pancakes from Sylvain Calinon on Vimeo.

Short order cooks across the nation laugh, pause, and consider new lines of work.

Waitsing For The Weekend

Darius Whiteplume posted the following picture on his Tumblr a few days ago, and I've had it set aside trying to decide what to do with it. Letting it slide was not an option.He makes Jay Leno look underendowed in the jawbone department, but I love his music.

Hyperbole and a Half

I first read Hyperbole and a Half a couple of weeks ago when the post Dog ("A lingering fear of mine was confirmed last night: My dog might be slightly retarded.") was making the rounds on the pop aggregator sites. There is a ring of truth to the posts there that makes me wonder about how much real hyperbole is involved. Whether it's a little or a lot, it makes for wonderfully entertaining reading. The most recent episode involves a long-lived phobia of bicycles and the reasons behind it. Enjoy.

Dog Hates Dyslexics

So Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist clan announced they were going to protest Comic Con.Clue 1: Don't announce ahead of time who, when and where you intend to protest.
Clue 2: Especially if you're a widely despised hate group, and your target is comprised largely of young, intelligent, disrespectful and counter-motivated people.
Clue 3: Unless, of course, you enjoy being made even more of a laughing stock than you already are.
This is a small selection from Comics Alliance's piece, "Superheroes Vs. The Westboro Baptist Church," the best collection I've seen, but these hilarious protestbombing photos are all over the innertubz today.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish

From The NYT Economic Scene:
According to NASA, 2010 is on course to be the planet’s hottest year since records started in 1880. The current top 10, in descending order, are: 2005, 2007, 2009, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2004, 2001 and 2008.
So we're getting right on that, right? Right? I mean, think about the farmers!
The intense heat and humidity that blanketed central Kansas since late last week have killed more than 2,000 cattle and one state official called the heat-related losses the worst in his 17 years on the job.
And our descendants...
The average temperature of the planet for the next several thousand years will be determined this century—by those of us living today, according to a new National Research Council report which lays out the impact of every degree of warming on outcomes ranging from sea-level rise to reduced crop yields.
With La Nina setting in, the mid-term outlook may not be as bad as the last few months,
"This year the fact that the El Nino episode has ended and is likely to transition into La Nina, which has a cooling influence on the global average temperature, it's possible that we will not end up with the warmest year as a whole."
but notice the provisional in there: it's possible this won't be the warmest year since the advent of meteorological instrumentation. Last Friday, Dr. Jeff Masters posted one on the most terrifying things I've read in a while:
June 2010 was the warmest June since record keeping began in 1880, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), and was the fourth consecutive warmest month on record. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies rated June 2010 the third warmest June on record, behind June 1998 and June 2009. Both NOAA and NASA rated the year-to-date period, January - June, as the warmest such period on record. June 2010 global ocean temperatures were the fourth warmest on record, while land temperatures were the warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the 2nd warmest on record in June, according to both the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) and Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) groups. The record warmest temperatures in the lower atmosphere were recorded in 1998.
And of course it's not just the US: people and crops are being affected across the globe.
MOSCOW — A blistering heat wave has made life miserable for millions in Russia and northeastern Europe, few of whom have air conditioners, and destroyed millions of acres of Russian wheat, setting back an agricultural revival that was just reaching its stride after years of faltering efforts.
So with every single one of the ten hottest years on record falling in the last 11 years, (not counting 2010- the numbers aren't in yet, but it's very likely to fall in that ranking, even if it doesn't take first place) can we move along and address the issue? Not. Freaking. Likely.
Senate Democrats had already scaled back their plans to pursue limits on greenhouse gas emissions, like those in a bill approved by the House last year. Instead, Senate Democrats had said they would seek a cap on carbon emissions only for power plants. But even that proved overly ambitious.
“We don’t have a single Republican to work with us,” Mr. Reid said. Nice play, Senator, and I agree: the blindness of the right is stunning. But even the dems don't seem to understand that corporate profits amount to just about nothing when our food and water supplies collapse. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I have serious doubts that humanity has the intelligence, and ability to sacrifice self interest for the broader good, that it's going to take to get through this crisis. Extinction is forever, and our glorious brains and "special" relationship with the wizard in the sky don't make us immune. I'm glad I won't be the parent of one of the last generation of children, trying to explain how a few hundred lawmakers put their election prospects ahead of human survival.

If we don't make it, it will be because we don't deserve survival.

Run Away!

Big gnashy teeth!I have never worried about bitey fishies when swimming in streams here in Oregon, but that might not have been the case a few million years ago.
The Saber-toothed Salmon of the Miocene to Pliocene (13 to 4 million years ago) of the Pacific Northwest, known as Oncorhynchus (Smilodonichthys) rastrosus to paleontologists, was exceptionally large for a salmon, measuring over 2 meters (6.5 feet) long! It is named for the large canine-like teeth in its upper jaw, presumably used for competition among males during spawning season, much like the hook that forms on modern male spawning sockeye salmon.
The source page, from University of Oregon, is intended to publicize a recent CAT scan of this beastie. I'm kind of blown away by just how delicate the fossil looks. It was prepared in two parts; the photo above is the lower skull. For the scan, the upper and lower parts were set in approximately the correct positions relative to each other, so the final animation gives a much better idea of how the creature's head might have looked in real life. If you click "next" from the animation, there is a nice gallery of 12 images showing the fossils and the scanning process. The scale is in centimeters, and my rough estimate for the image above is that it's 45-50 cm long, or ~18-20 inches.

I wouldn't want to get in the water with that. I can look at salmon and think "I'll bet that would be some good eating," but when a salmon looks at me and thinks the same thing...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Too Soon?

The Gulf Spill Cocktail. From Deep Sea News, and be sure to read comment #1 for an idea on how to make it even more life-like.

Jesus Walking on The Water

Above, from a wonderful gallery at the Guardian of high-speed flash photographs of wildlife struttin' their stuff, and below, from The Violent Femmes.

Also too, a repeat from Sunday's funnies and Skull Swap: summertime Jesus can't get no satisfaction.

Portents of The Apocalypse

Climate change creating 'super marmots' that are bigger and more abundant

I, for one, welcome our new alpine rodent overlords.

Gotta love The Telegraph (UK) "Earth" and "Science" stories... the stories themselves are typical recycled press release material- broadly accurate, but often with some howlingly (or hysterically) bad errors (absent, as far as I can tell, in this particular story). But the editors who write the headlines seem to be under the impression they're working for the World Weekly News. I have often considered dropping these feeds from my RSS, but I guess I value the amusement factor too much.

Followup: The CSM also covers the story, albeit in more depth and with a less entertaining headline.

Wednesday Wednesday

From Mystique's photobucket.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Astronomers Dig Them Some Geology Too

Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society Blog has a great piece on the volcanism of Io, Jupiter's innermost large moon, and the most volcanically active body in the solar system.
Diana Blaney and her coauthors have estimated that 500 cubic kilometers of liquid hot magma erupt onto Io's surface every year; this is more than a hundred times what comes out of all of Earth's volcanoes, even when you include the mid-ocean ridges that nobody sees.
I had seen the animation below a few years ago, but it's new to this blog. From the caption: "The animation contains five images taken over an eight-minute span of time beginning at 23:50 UT on March 1, 2007. Credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI"Emily's post also contains the clearest explanation of nutation I've ever seen- in high school, I was very confused about how we had pre-Apollo photos of more than 50% of our moon's surface, and the reason didn't become clear to me until later in my undergraduate career.

John at Cosmic Variance, in a post called "Here Comes Katla?" points out the uptick in seismic activity at that volcano, and posts a nice map of the recent quakes there.
In case the name Katla doesn't ring a bell, it's the big brother to Eyjafjallajokhull's little sister- the latter being the "little" volcano that disrupted flights over Europe- and because of global linkage, around the world- for weeks this past spring. At that time, it was repeatedly pointed out that historically, Katla tends to erupt when Eyjafjallajokhull does, or shortly after. The uptick in quakes prove nothing- Katla may very well remain quiet. Or it may not. If you're planning to go to Europe in the next few weeks, you might want to consider what you might do if it turns out you can't. Just sayin', this is not an alert or anything, but a suggestion to keep an eye on SE Iceland for the time being.


One of the tracks on Laurie Anderson's magnum opus, United States Live Parts I-IV, is called "A Curious Phenomenon."
Recently there has been a discovery of a curious phenomenon deep in the deciduous woods of Southern Illinois. In the midst of the underbrush there is a clearing revealing a circle of short wooden tree-stump-like structures. In the middle of that circle there is a post-and-lintel structure. The entire circular configuration is oriented toward the exact point at which the sun rises on the day of the summer solstice.

Who built this structure? And for what purpose? To what end? A primitive calendar? A center of worship? A lost tribe?

Woodhenge: A mystery that continues to cloud the American brain.
I can't find a video or audio clip of the piece, but it's spoken word, and can be more or less conveyed in the text alone. I always found it pretty funny, but this is funnier: it's for real. The American brain can continue to be clouded. In fairness, she missed by a couple of states; it's in southern Ohio.
Just northeast of Cincinnati, Ohio, a sort of wooden Stonehenge is slowly emerging as archaeologists unearth increasing evidence of a 2,000-year-old ceremonial site.

Tuesday Tits

Crested tit, Lophophanes cristatus, from Garden Safari.

Another Avatar Parallel

Back in January, I posted a couple of funny items noting the uncanny parallels between Avatar and Pocahontas. Now, The Oatmeal has found another uncanny cinematic parallel: Aliens. Here's one frame of 12 weird similarities:

Watch The Moon Landing, Live!

Well, plus 41 years... from Kottke:
Just leave this page open in your browser and at the appointed times (schedule is below), the broadcast will begin (no manual page refresh necessary).

Moon landing broacast start: 4:10:30 pm EDT on July 20
Moon landing shown: 4:17:40 pm EDT
Moon landing broadcast end: 4:20:15 pm EDT
Moon walk broadcast start: 10:51:27 pm EDT
First step on Moon: 10:56:15 pm EDT
Nixon speaks to the Eagle crew: approx 11:51:30 pm EDT
Moon walk broadcast end: 12:00:30 am EDT on July 21

If you've never seen this coverage, I urge you to watch at least the landing segment (~10 min.) and the first 10-20 minutes of the Moon walk. I hope that with the old time TV display and poor YouTube quality, you get a small sense of how someone 40 years ago might have experienced it.

So the landing will play about an hour from now, and the moonwalk in a bit less than 8 hours. I've got the window open; this might be pretty interesting. Click over for full details; note that this is just like old-fashioned TV: if you miss it, you've missed it, though I suspect you could watch it at your leisure on the U-tubes.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What Do You Do in Your Spare Time?

I spend a lot more time reading Wikipedia than I do watching television, but I've never registered, and thus never edited or contributed. Information is Beautiful: Cognitive Surplus Visualized.

Conversation in Three Parts

One of the (countless) issues that currently has the right's collective panties in snarls is that (gasp) teh mooslims want to build a mosque at ground zero. They don't; the property in question is a few blocks from that site, and is owned privately. Property rights used to be a central issue for conservatives, but facts and consistency have been irrelevant to them for the last 30 years. So a couple of days ago, Caribou Barbie farted tweeted the following:Much hilarity, ridicule and snark ensued. So the Princess of Wasilla took it down, and farted tweeted the following:
To which Roger Ebert replied:
I have a difficult time understanding Shakespeare. The language is dense, many words are unfamiliar, the rhythmic nature imposes a patterning that is a lot of work to get through, and when I've watched movies or performances, it is too fast for me to make sense of. But I've found a couple of times that if I make the effort to make sense of his work, it pays off more richly than I could have imagined.

Unlike Palin, who, when I try to make sense of her words, ends up being more confused, uninformed and illiterate than I could have imagined.

Followup: Nice discussion that more clearly illustrates my point, from Steve Benen.

Odd PNW Earthquake

Via OregonLive, I learned there was a minor earthquake this morning (17:15 UTC, 10:15 AM local) off of Vancouver Island. At magnitude 5.1, I doubt many people even noticed it, and I'm sure there was no damage. The article mentions that no tsunami was expected. It's interesting to note the location though; the zig-zag line from north to south is the Juan de Fuca spreading ridge, and the smoother line swinging to the SSE is the Cascadia subduction zone. The line extending to the NNW is the Queen Charlotte transform fault, making the point south of the comma-shaped Queen Charlotte Islands a triple junction. The epicenter was off the ridge axis, and away from the subduction zone. I'm not finding a beach-ball quake solution for this event, but I'd guess it was along a NW-SE transform fault. There are several possibilities, but that seems most likely to me. The USGS information is here.

In looking for information on this, the wikipage on the QC transform told me that in 1949, there was a magnitude 8.1 quake along that fault. Whoa. I knew the fault was there, and I knew it was active, but I had no idea it had produced such a large quake in modern times. There have been quite a number of smaller quakes as well, in the 5 to 7.4 range.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Circum-Atlantic Trail; Circum-Planetary Trail?

The BBC has an interesting article about apparently active efforts to extend the Appalachian Trail into Canada, and around the entire North Atlantic Ocean.
The forces that threw up the Appalachian chain 350 million years ago also formed mountains across North Africa, back when there was no Atlantic Ocean, when the continents were all one - the Pangaea supercontinent - and they were linked together.

So why not link them up again, by extending the walking trail and persuade people with strong thighs and a very great deal of time on their hands to stroll all the way from Georgia to the Atlas Mountains, north of the Sahara?
OK, I see some logistical problems with this. As the article points out, there's the small matter of, well, an OCEAN in the way. But I can also see plenty of ways to deal with them. Overall, the idea of a trail to geologically reconnect two landmasses that began to separate in the late Triassic is profoundly appealing to me. I don't expect to be hale enough to ever walk a significant portion of it, nor even live to see it completed, but I find the vision compelling.

So compelling, in fact, that my imagination immediately leaped to the idea of another trail extending across the Gulf states, the Ouachitas and Colorado Plateau, to connect the south end of the Appalachian Trail with the southern end of the Pacific Crest Trail. Then extend the PCT north into Canada and Alaska... and you can see where I'm going with this.

Very few people would have the wherewithal and time to complete a circum-planetary trail, but many would have the opportunity to walk a portion of that. The opportunity to highlight and educate people about our globe's geology and history would be unparalleled. And the symbolism...

I moved to Corvallis from a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio named Mentor. The house that I had been living in there, my grandparents', was about a half a mile from Federal Route 20. When I moved here, I discovered that I was about a half a mile from Federal Route 20. It was as if I had just moved a bit down the road, though the climate, landscape, culture, biome and everything was thoroughly new to me.

Imagine standing in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and seeing a sign pointing north, labeled "Maine, Georgia and California." And a sign pointing east labeled "Persia, Himalaya, and Mongolia." How would that make you feel?

I can't speak for you, but it would make me feel more connected to the entire world, not just my little parochial corner of it. I may be a curmudgeon and a cynic, but I can still dream.

This WILL Haunt Your Dreams

Cow, cow, cow. What they do when you're not looking. Cow, cow, cow, cow.

Via Buzzfeed

Sunday Funnies: Controversial Edition!

Yet another debatable collection of funnies...Alphaville
This should happen more often. Criggo
Oddly Specific

Overheard snippet of a nearby irritating conversation:
Like, so her parents are, like, really into Grateful Dead, but, like, she's, like, really into Grateful Dead. So, like, I was, like, "Dude! Like!"
Seriously. I shit you not. That just happened 10 feet away from me. Bruce Campbell is prepared for the zombie apocalypse. Skull Swap
Skull Swap
The antithesis of The Cuttlefish of Chaos. Hacked IRL
Cyanide and Happiness
Sober in a Nightclub
The Daily What (note the model...)
Sofa Pizza
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
This reminds me of the Far Side Cartoon... Ooooo! Look, there's a picture of it! Acting Like Animals
Oddly Specific
Summer Jesus... Skull Swap
Non Sequitur
Very Demotivational
Starry starry knight, via The Daily What
Totally Looks Like
Wondertonic (2x8 different stickers at the link), via The Vigorous North
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Above and below from Sofa Pizza

I Hate My Parents
Señor Gif
Oddly Specific
Friends of Irony
Sofa Pizza
Noise to Signal
Sofa Pizza
Oddly Specific
Friends of Irony
Señor Gif
Hacked IRL
Acting Like Animals
No, no, no... that's not a grade, it's a description of the course. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, via Sofa Pizza
Sofa Pizza
As long as no women are ordained, everything's cool. Criggo
Sofa Pizza
Graph Jam- shared by the Ethical Paleontologist, who took the lolz to a whole 'nother level with the comment, "Sometimes the important conclusions are drawings of dinosaurs."For Vanessa, who had a stubborn bout of hiccups that came back again and again over a period of a couple of days earlier in the week. Cyanide and Happiness
So by extension, if you're not Christian, you don't need to sin. Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Too... frakkin'... true. Non Sequitur
Sofa Pizza
Fuck Yeah Stupid Gifs
Hacked IRL
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures