Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

Old posts from my weblog.

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


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Physics Today: Three Newly Discovered Exoplanets Have Masses Comparable to Neptune.

"In the past 10 years, some 120 planets have been discovered outside the solar system. With the exception of three lightweight oddballs orbiting a millisecond pulsar -- the dead remnant of a supernova -- all of these exoplanets have been at least two orders of magnitude heavier than Earth." ...

"Now the catalog of known exoplanets has suddenly become more diverse. Three teams of planet searchers recently announced the discovery of three exoplanets with masses on the order of Neptune's. The masses of Neptune and Uranus, the so−called ice giants of the solar system, are 17.2 and 14.6 M (where M is Earth's mass). By contrast, the masses of Jupiter and Saturn are 318 and 95 M."

Associated Press: Warming's effects start to be more noticeable.

"Although the sea level has increased between 4 inches and 8 inches in the past 30 years, coastal cities such as Galveston also have pumped enough water from the local area to cause their city to sink.... Galveston is about 25 inches lower than it was three decades ago...."

WSJ (subscription): Bargainers Agree on Spending Bill.

"Congress prepared to debate the bill hours after Mr. Bush signed an $800 billion increase in the federal borrowing debt limit, another testament to the feeble condition of the government's books.

"The measure, which narrowly cleared Congress this week, paves the way for the third major borrowing increase since Mr. Bush took office. It pushed the debt ceiling to $8.18 trillion, or two-thirds the value of all the shares on the New York Stock Exchange."


Fast Company: The Geeky Oscars.

"Great innovations are like great jokes. A joke, Woz said, has a line of thinking that progresses logically and then takes a sharp left turn that no one expected."


Accordion Guy: Yeah, Right.

"Blow in her face and she'll follow you anywhere."


BBC: Peru drugs hidden in giant squid.

"Police in Peru have seized about 700kg of cocaine hidden in frozen giant squid bound for Mexico and the US."


Slate: The Watchdogs of Fallujah.

"How we came to be in Iraq will be debated for many years. But we go forward from where we are, not where we would like to be. To walk away from Iraq is out of the question."

> I haven't been following the war too closely. I hope it's going well, if you can say that about a war.


BBC: US top of supercomputing charts.

"IBM test results show that Blue Gene/L has managed speeds of 70.72 teraflops. The previous top machine, Japan's NEC Earth Simulator, clocked up 35.86." ...

"Since the first supercomputer, the Cray-1, was installed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, US, in 1976, computational speed has leaped 500,000 times."

How to handle an accounting scandal --

WSJ (subscription): China Accountant Gets Death For Embezzling Over CNY200M [US $25 million].


O&GJ: Lukoil Overseas, Saudi Aramco plan seismic surveys in Saudi Arabia.

"WesternGeco is to start the work Nov. 25 on seismic surveys expected to continue through 2005. The exploration period covers 5 years."

PR Newswire: CGG Reconfirmed to Run Shell In-House Processing Centers.

"Shell have renewed a series of contracts with CGG to provide in-house seismic data processing services at three strategic sites in Europe.... CGG provides state-of-the-art 2D, 3D and 4D processing and pre-stack depth migration services for marine data sets at the Stavanger and Aberdeen centers and for both land and marine surveys at the Assen center."

BBC: Supercomputer breaks speed record.

"The US is poised to push Japan off the top of the supercomputing chart with IBM's prototype Blue Gene/L machine. It is being assembled for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, a US Department of Energy lab (DOE).

"DOE test results show that Blue Gene/L has managed speeds of 70.72 teraflops. The current top machine, Japan's NEC Earth Simulator, clocks up 35.86."


I guess not everyone is willing to "let the healing begin." Here's an excerpt from a letter from my brother --

"How sad a time when immoral practices and values which were defeated decades ago seem poised to reclaim legal status. The Supreme Court is OLD and not likely to hang on for another four years -- If I was a liberal justice I believe I'd just resign now...."

> And here are a couple of excellent links via Scripting News. First --

Don't Blame Me.

> ... but next, a reminder that the blue state / red state descriptor is a bit of an oversimplification --

Boing Boing: 2004 Presidential Votes Cast.


Illinois Senator-elect Barack Obama: 2004 Democratic Convention.

"Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."


As of this afternoon, Slate's Election Scorecard is calling tomorrow's election a tie in terms of electorial votes. Which would mean that the US House of Representatives would choose, well, Bush.

Electoral Vote Predictor seems to be skewed towards Kerry.

I made up my mind about this election a long time ago. So did nearly everyone else in the world, so I'm not going to bother with any more campaign pitches.

I took advantage of early voting to cast my ballot last week. Tomorrow I'll watch the early returns, but I'm not going to stay up late.

I hope we have a winner by the end of the month.

And I hope it's Kerry.

We had a great halloween with the kids yesterday! Readings of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and a couple of chapters from "The Worst Witch," the annual CCVA Fall Festival, trick-or-treating in the neighborhood and a haunted house across the street.

When I put my five-year-old down last night, he told me it was the best day of his life. He gave me three reasons, and two of them were "getting candy."

Here's my wife at the Fall Festival, which she has been involved in for the past 12 years. (I forgot to take pictures of my kids as Jedi Knights.)

Walter Kessinger

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