Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

Old posts from my weblog.

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


If you really don't have anything to do, go ahead and press it --

Big Red Button.


A review of Michael Crichton's latest book --

MIT Technology Review: Greenhouse Gas.

"In the novel, a mainstream environmental group plots to create extreme weather events that will cause the deaths of thousands of people in order to trick the public into accepting global warming as truth. They try to create a killer seismic tsunami timed to coincide with a conference on abrupt climate change.

"That's a major mistake by Crichton: seismic tsunamis aren't caused by global warming, as any climate scientist, even an evil one, knows."

Associated Press: Toads keep exploding in German pond.


Daring Fireball: Translation From PR-Speak to English of Selected Portions of Adobe's 'FAQ' Regarding Their Acquisition of Macromedia.

Q: Do you expect to integrate the FlashPlayer and the Adobe Reader?

A: You think the current version of Acrobat Reader takes too long to launch, runs too slowly, and uses too much memory? You ain't seen nothing yet.


Houston Chronicle: Journey to the fiery frontier. A&M geologist plans another trip to drill into ocean crust in hopes of striking elusive rock.

"A few weeks ago, the Texas A&M University geologist [Jay Miller] led a team of scientists who drilled to within a football field or two of the elusive mantle, which contains 80 percent of Earth's volume and wraps around the core. Now Miller, 48, is planning a return trip into the depths of the crust, and this time he intends to break through."

Slate: China's Biggest Gamble. Can it have capitalism without democracy? A prediction.

"The key test of China's version of capitalism, of course, will be during the bust that inevitably will follow the current boom (some day).... If China can survive that inevitable economic crisis without a political uprising, we will probably be able to conclude that a dynamic free-market economy need not, in fact, go hand in hand with democracy."

Someone keeps stealing my letters!

[via /usr/bin/girl.]


The Guardian: Emails 'pose threat to IQ'.

"The distractions of constant emails, text and phone messages are a greater threat to IQ and concentration than taking cannabis, according to a survey of befuddled volunteers."


Houston Chronicle: Enron film praised by a tough crowd -- ex-workers.

"Fortunes were lost and lives ruined, but the vibe at the Houston debut of Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room Tuesday night had a streak of dark humor."


Associated Press: Will LEDs outshine bulbs?

"Just this week, researchers at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., said they had boosted the light output per watt of a white LED to almost six times that of an incandescent light bulb, beating even a compact fluorescent bulb in efficiency."

Houston Chronicle: Memories are still raw for Woodlands couple.

"There was glass everywhere, falling out of buildings, and there was a man in a black robe. It later dawned on me he was a judge. He grabbed hold of me and told me to stop. I said, 'No, my son is out there,' and he said, 'No. Don't go.' I shoved him. I knocked him to the ground and kept going."


If you're a U.S. resident, Happy Tax Day! --

CNN: In case you forgot, it's tax day.

"According to the IRS, about one-third of all returns aren't filed until the last two weeks of tax season, and as of April 8, 45 million people were still holding out."

> What?!! Two-thirds of you freaks actually file your taxes more than two weeks before the deadline?!!!!


Houston Chronicle: Enron Key Players.

> Going through this list, the thing that amazes me is that all these executive-level people conspired together to commit fraud on a massive scale.

> Didn't they know that somebody was going to get caught?


Thomas Friedman, NYT: It's a Flat World, After All.

"... while the dynamic force in Globalization 1.0 [1492 to 1800] was countries globalizing and the dynamic force in Globalization 2.0 [1800 to 2000] was companies globalizing, the dynamic force in Globalization 3.0 -- the thing that gives it its unique character -- is individuals and small groups globalizing. Individuals must, and can, now ask: where do I fit into the global competition and opportunities of the day, and how can I, on my own, collaborate with others globally?

"But Globalization 3.0 not only differs from the previous eras in how it is shrinking and flattening the world and in how it is empowering individuals. It is also different in that Globalization 1.0 and 2.0 were driven primarily by European and American companies and countries. But going forward, this will be less and less true."

Houston Chronicle: When disaster strikes Texas petrochemical facilities, outside investigators need greater authority and speedy access to the scene.

"When things go terribly wrong in an industrial facility and people die, in most states local police and state and federal investigators quickly take control of the scene and perform essential public safety and fact-finding duties. As the explosion at British Petroleum's Texas City refinery that killed 15 workers last month illustrated, it doesn't work that way in the Lone Star State."


Slate: The Empty Village. What about the 750 million Chinese who aren't getting rich?

"About 750 million Chinese are farmers, and about 85 million make less than $75 a year. The average rural per-capita income in Sichuan province in 2002 was $253, less than the fees required to attend a local middle school."

It didn't take much editing to turn this shot from yesterday into a home-made Nike commercial --

Just Did It.

[via Scripting News, via whoever]


Brian Greene, NYT: One Hundred Years of Uncertainty.

"... physicists call 1905 Einstein's "miracle year" not because of the discovery of relativity alone, but because in that year Einstein achieved the unimaginable, writing four papers that each resulted in deep and formative changes to our understanding of the universe."

Before my time --

Houston Chronicle: Fight to end a medical menace.

"‘I was brought up in a crowded tenement area of Brooklyn, and I remember very clearly my mother locking my brother and I in our house, saying she had heard of a polio outbreak down the block,’ said Dr. Stanley Schultz, dean of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. ‘Even though it was the middle of the summer, we didn't mind staying home. We were scared, too.’"

Popapalooza 2005 Brackets.

> Pick the next Pope.


Live Science: Hole drilled to bottom of earth's crust, breakthrough to mantle looms.

"The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) seeks the elusive ‘Moho,’ a boundary formally known as the Mohorovicic discontinuity. It marks the division between Earth's brittle outer crust and the hotter, softer mantle.... This latest effort, which drilled 4,644 feet (1,416 meters) below the ocean seafloor, appears to have been 1,000 feet off to the side of where it needed to be to pierce the Moho...."

My former boss, Manik Talwani, is now the president of IODP-MI.

Taking pride in our elected officals --

NYT: The judges made them do it.

"Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, rose in the chamber and dared to argue that recent courthouse violence might be explained by distress about judges who ‘are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public.’ ... It was sickening that an elected official would publicly offer these sociopaths as examples of any democratic value, let alone as holders of legitimate concerns about the judiciary."


New York Times: Deliveryman Stuck in Elevator for 3 Days.

Peep Research: Risk Analysis.

"The synergistic effect of smoking and alcohol in Peeps produces a rapidly exothermic oxidation reaction, leading to a chemical and morphological divergence from the wild-type Peep phenotypes. Assistant lab members described these divergent Peeps as ‘less sweet,’ ‘crunchier,’ and ‘gross’ when compared to the Peeps which used either alcohol or tobacco, but not both."


I had LASIK yesterday, so I couldn't watch last night's game on HDTV; I had to settle for AM radio.

It was still a really great game, though.


Hey, cool, I've been included in a blogger "list" --

Green Gabbro: Where are all the earth science bloggers?

Moscow News: Man who saved the world finally recognized.

"Stanislav Petrov was a Soviet army officer monitoring the satellite system for signs of a U.S. attack, the year was 1983, and his instructions, if he detected missiles targeting the Soviet Union, were to push the button and launch a counter-offensive.

"He didn't. Minutes later, no missiles came; months later, the frightening data across his monitor was determined to have been a system glitch."

> It's hard to remember this now, but back in the early 80's, and for decades earlier, we knew that we were always about half an hour away from annihilation.

> Really knew it. And thought things like, "Well, it hasn't happened in the past 20 years or so, so it probably isn't going to happen. Not today, anyway."

I don't have anything to add here about John Paul passing away yesterday. But I do have a reglion-themed post --

NYT: Religions unite against gay festival. They say event set for Jerusalem would desecrate the Holy City.

It's nice to see all the combatants in the Middle East are uniting to face a common enemy!

Walter Kessinger

Stale Thoughts Archive Walter's Home Page