Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

Old posts from my weblog.

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


SciGuy, Houston Chronicle: After a cancer diagnosis, would you still smoke?

"[M.D. Anderson Cancer Center] researchers found that about half of smokers, after a cancer diagnosis, continued to smoke."

Perry A. Fischer, World Oil: The weirdest thing that I know.

"... photons are actually sentient beings with a kind of narrow intelligence, a sort of photonic idiot savant."


Houston Chronicle: Hard-core evidence. As climate experts meet in Montreal, the case for man-made global warming continues to build.

"Without the active commitment of the world's leading industrial giant and the growing economies of China and India, efforts to delay or reverse global warming have the proverbial snowball's chance in Hades."

Chrismukkah: The Merry Mish-Mash Holiday.

"Chrismukkah is Santa Claus and Hanukkah Harry sitting down at the bar together after a long night's schlep with a Christmas ale and a He'Brew beer."

> As my nine-year-old would say, "That is just wrong."


University of Missouri-Columbia: Famous 40-Year-Old Math Problem Solved.

"Hofmann admits explaining the problem is difficult because it is rather technical. Its solution applies to the theory of waves propagating through different media, such as a seismic wave traveling through different types of rock. Hofmann said the solution allows mathematicians to better describe the behavior of waves traveling through a medium which itself changes over time."

Back to work --

Energy Fiend: Death by Caffeine.


LA Times: Core Evidence That Humans Affect Climate Change.

"An ice core about two miles long the oldest frozen sample ever drilled from the underbelly of Antarctica shows that at no time in the last 650,000 years have levels of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane been as high as they are today." ...

"‘This is saying, 'Yeah, we had it right.' We can pound on the table harder and say, 'This is real,'’ said Richard Alley, a Penn State University geophysicist and expert on ice cores who was not involved with the analysis."

This one is a few days old, but I'd like to take this opportunity to make the point that I am still terribly P.O.'ed about a lot of what our federal government has been doing over the past five years --

Washington Post: Director for Torture.

"CIA Director Porter J. Goss insists that his agency is innocent of torturing the prisoners it is holding in secret detention centers around the world.... But some of the people who work for him provided a description of six ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ to ABC News, because they believe ‘the public needs to know the direction their agency has chosen,’ the network reported."

> This is patently stupid. Five years ago we had unchallenged moral authority in international affairs just by the virtue of being the U.S.A. No sarcasm, I really believe that.

> Today, the rest of the world wouldn't give us a plug nickel for our moral authority.

> Without the respect of the rest of world, our power is greatly diminished when it comes to setting the agenda -- our agenda -- in international politics. Last week South Korea timed an announcement about withdrawing troops from Iraq to coincide with a visit from President Bush. They might as well have slapped the guy in the face!


Here's hoping everyone had a good Thanksgiving, whether you are checking in from the U.S. or elsewhere.

AP: Stove Top stuffing creator Ruth Siems dies.

"Kraft Foods, which now owns the Stove Top brand, sells about 60 million boxes each year around Thanksgiving."

Monga Bay: Five million tons of carbon dioxide successfully buried.

"If the methodology used in the Weyburn Project was successfully applied on a worldwide scale, one-third to one-half of CO2 emissions could be eliminated in the next 100 years and billions of barrels of oil could be recovered."

> I'm stunned by the Monga Bay's editors' attempt to put a negative spin on this story. Deep carbon sequestration isn't only a promising technology for cutting carbon emissions -- it's the only technology currently being considered that offers a realistic possibility of significantly reducing greenhouse emissions in a reasonable time-scale.


AP: Texas sues Sony over cloaking software on music CDs.

> I hope Sony gets crushed by lawsuits and has to pay hundreds of millions over this. Any thinking individual -- or corporation -- should have realized that this was an activity that, if it wasn't already illegal, clearly should have been illegal.

> Of course, Sony isn't the only company out there that thinks it's o.k. to hack the computers of its users.


Sorry to be obsessive, but I just can't get enough of this story --

Washington Post: Costliest Part of Gulf Rebuilding Yet to Come.

"The federal government has spent or obligated through contracts more than $18 billion in Hurricane Katrina relief, meaning that in just over two months, storm recovery costs have already drawn even with the record spending package that the United States has been using to fund Iraq reconstruction for the past two years.

"But local, state and federal officials say that number pales in comparison with the ultimate price tag for rebuilding the Gulf Coast.... The real big-ticket items, they say, will not come until months and years down the line as the government attempts to recreate a public infrastructure network -- including roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, sewers, power lines, ports and levees -- that was all but destroyed when Katrina swept in at the end of August."


Steven Weinberg, Physics Today: Einstein's Mistakes.

"Our work in science is cumulative. We really do know more than our predecessors, and we can learn about the things that were not understood in their times by looking at the mistakes they made."

Christian Science Monitor: Cooing at the universe's baby pictures.

"The latest development is the probable detection of light from the very first stars. They lit up when the universe was only 100 million years old."

Drawing a human, from the inside out.

Scientific American: On the Origin of Evolution.

"Niles Eldridge, curator of the Darwin exhibition, says of the show: ‘This is for the school children of America. This is the evidence for evolution.’ Following its debut in New York, Darwin will travel to the Field Museum in Chicago, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and, lastly, London's Natural History Museum. Too bad it's not going to Kansas."

> ... or Houston!


Associated Press: Study -- Coffee, decaf or not, no threat to health.

"It was one of the few coffee studies not funded by industry -- federal taxpayers picked up the more than $1 million tab. (If you think that's a lot of money, consider that more than half of Americans drink three cups or more a day)."

> According to the article, all this study did was measure accumulation of fatty acids in the bloodstream.


Slate: The Creationists Get Creamed.

"Voters threw out the Pennsylvania school board that approved ‘intelligent design.’ Eight of the nine board members were up for election; all eight lost to candidates who opposed the ID policy."

AP: Pat Robertson warns Pa. town of disaster.

"Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson warned residents of a rural Pennsylvania town Thursday that disaster may strike there because they ‘voted God out of your city’ by ousting school board members who favored teaching intelligent design."


I missed SEG today. Instead, I was able to arrange an unplanned root canal.

Associated Press: Ship attacked by pirates off Somalia used sonic weapon.

"The crew of a luxury cruise ship used a sonic weapon that blasts earsplitting noise in a directed beam while being attacked by a gang of pirates off the eastern coast of Africa, the cruise line says.... The subsidiary of Carnival Corp. was investigating whether the weapon was successful in warding off the pirates...."


Eric Berger, Houston Chronicle: Hey, if we're still sinking, please let us know....

"[Roy Dokka is] basically saying that the real reason Louisiana (and at least the upper Texas coast) is losing land to the Gulf is not coastal erosion, but tectonic, or natural subsidence."

Slate: Les Misérables.

"The WP, NYT, and LAT all stuff news stories about the worsening violence in France.... On Saturday night, 1,295 cars were torched and 312 people were arrested -- an increase from Friday night (897 cars and 253 arrests)."

> So why isn't this getting any mainstream US coverage?


NYT: Open Blogs, Not Locked Diaries.

"... 57 percent of all teenagers between 12 and 17 who are active online -- about 12 million -- create digital content...."

[link via Scripting News]

San Francisco Chronicle: Lethal Beauty.

"The Golden Gate Bridge is the world's No. 1 suicide magnet, in part because it makes suicide so easy.... Whereas officials at the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building and other suicide landmarks recognized a crisis and erected suicide barriers, the Golden Gate Bridge still offers a welcome mat to someone in search of a quick exit."


The Guardian: Blair signals shift over climate change .

"The statements echoed sentiments Mr Blair expressed informally at a meeting organised by Bill Clinton in New York recently, when he said he was ‘changing my thinking’ on the best way to tackle climate change."

Walter Kessinger

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