(Click here for posts on geophysics and the energy industry.)
"Rescuers and residents along the Gulf Coast struggled Wednesday to cope with the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina, as New Orleans faced a horrifying trio of challenges -- rising water, stranded people and a refugee situation that is getting worse by the hour."
"[Gov. Haley] Barbour said there were unconfirmed reports of up to 80 fatalities in Harrison County, which contains Gulfport and Biloxi, and the number was likely to rise."
> In New Orleans, a near miss looks pretty bad --
CNN: New Orleans levee breaks.
"New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin confirmed the breach in a local TV interview. City fire officials said the break was about 200 feet long in the levee surrounding the 17th Street Canal.
"‘My heart is heavy tonight,’ Nagin said in the interview on WWL-TV. ‘I don't have any good news to share. The city of New Orleans is in a state of devastation. We probably have 80 percent of our city underwater. With some sections of our city, the water is as deep as 20 feet.’"
"The storm passed just to the east of New Orleans as it moved inland, sparing this vulnerable below-sea-level city its full fury and the apocalyptic damage that forecasters had feared."
Yahoo News: Photos.
Things are looking a bit grim for the Big Easy right now --
"A statement from the National Weather Service in Slidell, near New Orleans, Louisiana, warned that much of the affected area ‘will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer.’"
WWL-TV in New Orleans: Coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
[via Scripting News.]
Houston Chronicle: Charismatic as can be, Chavez no Castro clone.
"Perhaps envious of his good friend Fidel Castro, who has ruled Cuba for 46 years, Chavez recently acknowledged that he would like to govern until 2030."
"Assassinations of world leaders have been forbidden since President Ford signed an executive order in 1976. The rule came after congressional hearings in the 1970s documented CIA attempts to kill Castro and U.S. interference in the politics of other Latin American countries."
National Geographic News: Earth's Core Spins Faster Than Surface, Study Confirms.
"Their calculations suggest the inner core rotates at a rate of 0.3 to 0.5 degree per year faster than the mantle and crust. That's about 50,000 times faster than the tectonic plates move on the planet's surface."
> So the inner core "laps" the mantle by one rotation every 1000 years.
"For years, many geochemists have argued that parts of the deep mantle remain unchanged since the formation of the Earth, whereas many geophysicists and geodynamicists have held that the entire mantle has been convecting (moving and mixing) over geological time." ...
"‘For thirty years scientists have been debating whether there is a layer in the mantle that has remained unchanged since the formation of the Earth,’ said [Cornelia] Class, a Doherty Associate Research Scientist. ‘The new on-line databases made it possible for the first time to reevaluate the geochemical arguments based on a complete synthesis of global data on oceanic basalts. We found that the strongest evidence previously put forth in favor of a layered mantle actually indicates the opposite is true.’"
Tech Republic: Dinosaur sightings. Old-school computer hardware.
"Drilling was completed last week on an 8.5-inch-wide hole that goes more than 2 miles into an active seismic zone of the San Andreas Fault at Parkfield."
It looks like several members of the Kansas State Board of Education are converting to Flying Spaghetti Monsterism --
Bobby Henderson: Responses from the Kansas State Board of Education.
Response from Mrs. Carol Rupe - District 8:
"The group of science teachers and university professors who had written the original standards (before they were changed) have now asked that their names be withdrawn from the document. The new version changes the very definition of science from ‘seeking natural explanations’ to ‘seeking logical explanations’. That is why I think FSMism is able to be included."
> Also --
"Over 10 MILLION people have been touched by His Noodly Appendage."
Slate: Lions and Cheetahs and Elephants, Oh My!. Let them run wild ... in North America.
"As the first Americans strolled onto their open real estate 13,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene epoch, their continent quickly lost much of its grandeur. More than 60 North American species weighing over 100 pounds went extinct, including the continent's own elephants, lions, camels, and cheetahs. The cause was likely overhunting...."
> Actually, I don't think the overhunting theory is quite as well-established a fact as the author asserts. Like the asteroid-impact theory for the K-T extinctions, though, the timing makes for really compelling circumstantial evidence.
Nature: Whale wanders off the beaten path.
"‘It is lucky that we were there for both events,’ says [Cristina Pomilla of the American Museum of Natural History], who spent several winters in a boat shooting crossbows at humpbacks."
> Whale researchers get to have all the fun!
"... a user can expect, on average, to receive 166.9% more results using the Google search engine than the Yahoo! search engine."
> Subways around the world.
Commentary from Israel on the Gaza Strip settlement disengagement --
Ynet: Let's not get carried away.
"It's just one more of many chapters in the long, exhausting saga of the Middle East. Maybe it will be better here and maybe worse, but whatever the situation, the change won't be by much."
> Hey, it may not bring peace much closer, but it should make the situation a little more stable. Those settlements were sitting in really bad spots, and they were never anything but trouble.
> Here's an excellect multimedia map --
New York Times: The pullout from the Gaza Strip.
"As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state [Kansas, of course]."
Science News: Cosmic Computing.
"In the largest and most detailed computer simulation of [the evolution of the universe] something utterly dark shapes the universe as it unfolds over some 13.7 billion years." ...
"To make sense of the arrangement of starlit galaxies and brilliant quasars across the sky, Volker Springel of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany, and his colleagues based their work on dark matter. That invisible material accounts for more than 90 percent of the gravity within the universe.... Because dark matter doesn't seem to interact with any force other than gravity, it's relatively simple to model."
Argh, this is killing me --
MacOpinion: PowerBook vs. iBook comparison.
"The [new] iBooks are certainly a compelling value ... but one has to deduce that a PowerBook refresh is in the offing that will restore more distance between the lines, either at Macworld Expo Paris next month or toward the end of the quarter."
> The monitor on my four-year-old powerbook has given out -- I'm only able to use it by plugging it into an external monitor. It's time to buy a new powerbook, but I'm almost certain that new models will be available in six weeks.
Chicago Sun-Times: Ebert's Most Hated.
"This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels."
Bobby Henderson: Open Letter to the Kansas School Board.
"Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster."
Seth Godin's Blog: Tiny cuts.
"Fine print is everywhere I look. Fine print means that a lawyer has made sure that you probably won't win a lawsuit, but is the lawsuit really the point?"
Reuters: 'Dying in sleep' linked to sleep apnea.
"Tests on rats showed that the loss of key brain stem cells that die off with age caused such disrupted sleep that the animals eventually stopped breathing completely."
Harper's: The Christian Paradox. How a faithful nation gets Jesus wrong.
"Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ ... Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor. On this essential matter, most Americans -- most American Christians -- are simply wrong, as if 75 percent of American scientists believed that Newton proved gravity causes apples to fly up."
"A Macedonian man left his wife at an Italian service station and only realized he had driven off without her six hours later...."
Here's a seismic survey for you --
The Daily Telegraph, Australia: Whale fear over underwater bombs.
"Environment Minister Ian Campbell has asked the federal seismic testing agency, Geoscience Australia, for full details of its plans to detonate up to 20 bombs west of Exmouth in the middle of next year.
"The minister is concerned the Indian Ocean blasts -- designed to test an international monitoring system for nuclear weapons -- may adversely affect whales in the area."
WSJ (subscription): Korean Scientists Produce World's First Cloned Dog.
"[Ben Carlson, spokesman for Genetic Savings & Clone in California, said] ‘We suspected that if anyone beat us, it would be the Koreans.’ ... Mr. Carlson says the cost of cloning a cat has put off many potential customers but that his company's market research shows people would be more willing to pay for a dog."
Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest: 2005 Results.
"She walked toward him, her dress billowing in the wind -- not a calm and predictable billows like the sea, but more like the billowing of a mildewed shower curtain in a cheap motel where one has to dance around to avoid touching it while trying to rinse off soap."
Steven Levy, Newsweek: Sex, Secret Codes and Videogames.
"First of all, let me express my shock -- total jaw-dropped, head-slapped, loss-for-words shock -- upon learning that a hidden scene in the videogame Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas depicts a somewhat graphic sexual encounter. Who would imagine such a thing in a game that lets millions of people vicariously engage in simulated cop-killing, 'ho-running, drug dealing and drive-by shooting?" ...
"My gut tells me that simulating the actions of a heartless gangsta is something to discourage, and I've banned GTA from my household. My 15-year-old considers the ban absurd.... Tough."