Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

Old posts from my weblog.

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


Houston Chronicle: Famed Houston scientist Richard Smalley dies.

"Richard Errett Smalley, a gifted chemist who shared a Nobel Prize for the discovery of buckyballs, helped pioneer the field of nanotechnology and became Houston's most notable scientist, died [Friday] afternoon after a six-year struggle with cancer. He was 62."

Richard E. Smalley: Our Energy Challenge.

"Somehow within the next few decades we must find a new energy source that can provide at least 10 terawatts of clean power on a sustainable basis, and do this cheaply."

> Here's the powerpoint version.

[Link via SciGuy.]

CNN: Rosa Parks to lie in honor at Capitol.

"Parks, arrested in 1955 after refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, turned to her minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King, for aid. King in turn led a 381-day boycott of the city's bus system that helped initiate the modern civil rights movement."

> From Oct. 25 --

NYT: Rosa Parks, 92, Founding Symbol of Civil Rights Movement, Dies.

Houston Chronicle: No housing boom seen in post-Katrina New Orleans.

"Although portions of the city have reopened to residents, more than 100,000 who evacuated have not returned."


CNN: Venus still a hot mystery.

"The European Space Agency plans soon to launch the instrument-loaded Venus Express satellite, which will orbit the ‘evening star’ for two years."

"The planet is essentially devoid of impact craters, suggesting that at some point there was a significant geologic event that resurfaced the entire planet. This is another debated idea, though, since the surface shows no obvious plate tectonics or seismic activity, and we also can't tell whether it is still volcanically active."

A nice brain-teaser for when you have a few minutes --

Web Sudoku.

[via /usr/bin/girl again]


UK Telegraph: Asian earthquake death toll to reach 80,000.

"Reports from Pakistani-held Kashmir and the country's North West Frontier Province suggest the real cost of the October 8 quake is significantly higher than the official death toll of 42,000, given by the Pakistani government."

NYT: New Storm Measures as Most Intense Ever for Atlantic Basin.

"Hurricane Wilma, which appeared headed toward Cancun, Mexico, and possibly the Gulf Coast of Florida by this weekend, intensified into the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean basin early this morning, with winds of 175 miles per hour."


Washington Post: Chinese Astronauts Return Safely Home.

"Two Chinese astronauts bumped to Earth in the thinly populated Inner Mongolian plains Monday after nearly five days in orbit, bringing China's second manned spaceflight to a successful conclusion and igniting a burst of patriotic fervor."

Slate: Tribal Ignorance.

"Ever wonder how to piss off an Iraqi?"


Washington Post: Storms Alter Louisiana Politics.

" New Orleans, ... municipal officials are facing a February election." ...

"Officials are undecided on how to conduct the election. Some have suggested opening polling places in Houston, Memphis, Atlanta, Baton Rouge, La., and other cities that house large numbers of evacuees. Others have suggested electronic voting." ...

"In New Orleans alone, nearly half of the voting precincts were destroyed by Katrina."


Time to check in on hurricane damage --

AP: Job losses from hurricanes hit 438,000.

Reuters: Big stars were born near Milky Way's black hole.

"Dozens of massive stars, destined for a short but brilliant life, were born less than a light-year away from the Milky Way's central black hole, one of the most hostile environments in our galaxy, astronomers reported today."


Slate: Why Schelling won the Nobel for Economics -- Not Peace. Nobel laureate Thomas Schelling's little-known role in the Vietnam War.

"This dark side of Tom Schelling is also the dark side of social science -- the brash assumption that neat theories not only reflect the real world but can change it as well, and in ways that can be precisely measured."


Houston Chronicle: Coming ... maybe to Houston.

"Astros fans can secure a place in the lottery for individual tickets to a potential World Series at Minute Maid Park by registering online at, starting at noon tomorrow through 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 14."


Info World: IBM and Apple swap server strategies.

"It turns out that Apple's own top-end customers, the ones Apple said wouldn't notice when PowerPC disappeared from their systems in favor of Intel mobile CPUs, did notice. Brother, did they notice." ...

"Look, anybody can mark up a $300 Celeron desktop to $600 by calling it a server, but as IBM will learn, most customers are not fools."

> To have the best of all possible worlds, I think Apple needs to move their portables and consumer machines to Intel CPUs next year as planned, but keep PowerPC CPUs in their servers and workstations.

> In the meantime, I'm going to order a new PowerPC Powerbook as soon as Apple releases them next week. I love Apple's yummy Unix operating system. (There, I admitted it, okay?)

Houston Chronicle: Most say they'd evacuate again.

"Half of Houston-area residents fled Hurricane Rita as it approached last month, and almost two-thirds would evacuate next time a major storm threatened, according to a Houston Chronicle/KHOU-TV Channel 11 poll."


Dear Abby: Lost Soul.

"In the Jewish religion, in the 10 days between Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the faithful are commanded to ask forgiveness from anyone they may have wronged or offended during the year.... This year, the 10 days to ask forgiveness begin today."


Houston Chronicle: It's official -- September was hot.

"The month just ended will go down as the hottest September in Houston's history, with a blistering average temperature of 83.4 degrees.... That's not an average high mind you -- that was 10 degrees higher -- but a midpoint between September's daily highs and lows."

Houston Chronicle: Looking more okay.

"We find some neighbors, a block away on Rendon. We stop and take pictures (we don't know them, have never seen them before) but we are grateful anyway, and they are happy to see us. We drive away, telling them we'll see them next week, and they point out the down power line that is dropped low across the street. They have put Mardi Gras beads on it, so that drivers will see it."

Walter Kessinger

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