Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

Old posts from my weblog.

(Click here for posts on geophysics and the energy industry.)


Steve Mirsky, Scientific American: The Yanked Clippers. Have some security measures become moronic, or is it just me?

"I mean, seriously, can't sharp fingernails be as lethal as a set of nail clippers?"

The Borowitz Report: Bush, Musharraf, Putin, Queen Conclude Historic Day of Meaningless Talks. Most Pointless Meetings Ever Held in One Day, Experts Say.

"As pointless as the two meetings yesterday were, they are likely to be overshadowed in the meaningless department tonight, when the nine Democratic presidential hopefuls meet to debate in Iowa."

Spent a week in the UK on work. Back now.


We had an eightieth birthday party for my mom this weekend.

That's a lot of candles.

Houston Chronicle: George Mitchell's accomplishments.

"He does, of course, have his sore spots. Not all of his projects have gone exactly as planned. Take The Woodlands.... Mitchell applied for and got millions of dollars in federal loans to build the community, with the understanding it would be racially and economically diverse. Today, residents of The Woodlands are overwhelmingly white and middle class."

Scientific American: The Galactic Odd Couple. Why do giant black holes and stellar baby booms, two phenomena with little in common, so often go together?


New York Times: Report by the E.P.A. Leaves Out Data on Climate Change.

"... after editing by the White House, a long section describing risks from rising global temperatures has been whittled to a few noncommittal paragraphs."


Monica Almeida, The New York Times: A Celebrity School's Students Say Oil Wells Are Making Them Sick.

"... known for its celebrity alumni and for serving as the inspiration for the television series ‘Beverly Hills 90210.’"

Martha's New Digs.

> A Photoshop competition.


Reuters: Boys and Their Toys.



Nature: Universe can surf the Big Rip. Alternative proposed to dark energy's cosmic doomsday.

"... there's no denying how terrible the Big Rip sounds. It is a kind of breakdown of all the fundamental forces of nature, as empty space becomes so full of energy that it overwhelms them. When that happens, everything falls apart." ...

"Or perhaps not."

Nature: Second mass extinction linked to impact. Rock from space might have hit life hard 380 million years ago.

"Other researchers agree that there was an impact around that time, but feel the evidence for a mass extinction is much weaker."

Science News: African Legacy: Fossils plug gap in human origins.

"Three partial skulls excavated in eastern Africa, dating to between 154,000 and 160,000 years ago, represent the oldest known fossils of modern people, according to the ancient skulls' discoverers." ...

"... the braincase volume of the two Herto adults is smaller than that of archaic H. sapiens skulls and slightly larger than that of current populations."

> That last bit must be a typo. Maybe.

Scientific American: Disease Dustup. Dust clouds may carry infectious organisms across oceans.

"On February 11, 2001, an enormous cloud of dust whipped out of the Sahara Desert and moved north across the Atlantic, reaching the U.K. two days later. A few days afterward, counties across the island began reporting simultaneous outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, a viral sickness of livestock (sometimes confused with mad cow disease [By whom?])." ...

"The findings on international dust storms have also attracted the attention of those who are concerned about bioterrorism.... Dust clouds could be considered, in effect, a very dirty bomb."

> In the search for justification of research funding, no link to national security is too dubious to mention.


Sorry if the updates have been spotty. I'm a little busy these days, so the blog might be kind of sporadic through the end of the month.

I did manage to go with the family to see Peter Gabriel at The Woodlands Pavilion last week. I don't think anyone else brought three- and seven-year-olds. Lessons learned --

  • Have earplugs for the kids, even for an "old fogey" concert.
  • A three-year-old can't really stay out past nine, so forget about staying for the headliner. Next time, consider getting a babysitter.
  • Your experience of the event may differ greatly from that of your children. The next morning they were both gushing about how the night before was the best concert that they'd ever attended.
Of course, they don't know that the opening band wasn't the main attraction.

In fact, the opening band wasn't that bad. Some funky Indian group -- some of their stuff sounded a lot like Cornershop.

Really Bad Country Song Titles.


Scripting News: Thoughts from Day 1.

"People talk about reasons to have a weblog, how will you measure its success. I wanted to say You'll know when it works, you won't need numbers. You'll get an idea you wouldn't have otherwise gotten. A business contact. A bug report. An old friend finds you. You get a job. You hire someone. You get an answer to a question."

> Another Scripting News quote from the previous day --

"Idealism has practical real-world applications."

Doonesbury: Lame-o Generation X.

> But seriously: you Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers are o.k. about paying for my Social Sercurity, right?


Reuters: Study shows spam e-mail reaches most kids.

> My seven-year-old wants his own email address. I guess it's time for me to start looking at whitelist filtering.


Did this really require a press release? --

San Francisco Chronicle: Sewage machine company warns about 'Finding Nemo' flushes.

"‘In truth, no one would ever find Nemo and the movie would be called ‘Grinding Nemo,’’ wrote the JWC Environmental company, which makes the trademarked ‘Muffin Monster’ shredding pumps."


Physics Web: Water reaches new depths.

"... parts of the upper mantle could contain as much as 700 parts per million of water by weight. "


It's been a while since I checked in on the web's favorite disfunctional English-German couple --

Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About.

"... we don't have the standard, ‘What the hell are you doing? We're behind on the mortgage and you've gone out and spent all our money on beer!’ rows. In fact, Margret doesn't drink all that much nowadays."

Walter Kessinger

Stale Thoughts Archive Walter's Home Page