Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

Old posts from my weblog.

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


Politics --

The Washington Post: Crisis Could Undercut Bush's Long-Term Goals.

Bush in his radio address Saturday: "‘This moment of conflict in the Middle East is painful and tragic. Yet it is also a moment of opportunity for broader change in the region.’" ...

"Haass, the former Bush [Administration State Department official] who leads the Council on Foreign Relations, laughed at the president's public optimism. ‘An opportunity?’ Haass said with an incredulous tone. ‘Lord, spare me. I don't laugh a lot. That's the funniest thing I've heard in a long time. If this is an opportunity, what's Iraq? A once-in-a-lifetime chance?’"


AP: Ani DiFranco announces pregnancy at NOW convention.

"The baby's father, Mike Napolitano, produced her upcoming album Reprieve.... It will be Difranco's 18th full-length album since her debut was released in 1990."

> I consider myself a hugh fan of Ani Difranco ... but I only have eight or nine of her CDs.

Video link --

Penn and Teller Do the Cups and Balls Trick with Clear Cups.


A Dictionary of Useful Research Phrases.


Ask Dr. Math: Mod Function and Negative Numbers.


David Gibson: Science Facts that People Get Wrong.


NYT: Rogue Giants at Sea.

"In the past two decades, freak waves are suspected of sinking dozens of big ships and taking hundreds of lives." ...

"By one definition, the titans of the sea rise to heights of at least 25 meters, or 82 feet, about the size of an eight-story building.... Large rogues seem to average around 100 feet."

Slate: The psychedelic legacy of Syd Barrett.

"It sounds like a pretty nice life, actually, and it's pleasant to think of Barrett ending his days as a vaguely Victorian figure -- an odd old Englishman who'd made quite a splash in his youth, tottering through town on two wheels."

LA Times: Happy? Let's Sum It Up.

"By one reckoning, boosting the frequency of sex in a marriage from once a month to once a week brings as much happiness as an extra $50,000 a year."


Slate: A Brief History of the Bikini.

"When the bikini first arrived, its revealing cut scandalized even the French fashion models who were supposed to wear it; they refused, and the original designer had to enlist a stripper instead."

Wired: The Rise and Fall of the Hit.

"Time spent listening to the radio is now at a 12-year low, and rock music is among the formats suffering the most. Since 1998, the rock radio audience has dropped 26 percent."

> I'm way beyond a 12-year low. I *never* listen to the radio anymore -- but I'm listening to a larger variety of music than ever before, and I have it on an average of four hours a day.


NASA: Rocket's Red Glare!

> I was happy to see the successful Discovery launch.

> Now I'd like to see NASA get to work on replacing it with something more 21st century.

Science News: Magnetic Thrust -- Fields force matter into black holes.

> Although I've never seen this topic addressed before, it seemed obvious to me -- reading only "popular science" articles about black holes -- that gravity alone couldn't explain black hole accretion.

> It's easy to get cynical and frustrated over the simplifying approximations that we make in seismic data processing. I think it's interesting to take an occasional glance at the computational challenges faced by researchers trying to model other physical systems.

> Apparently it is still nearly impossible to simultaneously model gravitational, thermal and magnetic forces in describing the behavior of accretion disks. I wonder if this is also true of gas clouds?

Nature: Top computer hangs on to its title.

"BM's BlueGene/L computer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California, has once again been crowned world champion by the TOP500 list of the fastest supercomputers used for scientific applications.... This giant among giants has 131,072 processors and a computing speed of 280.6 terraflops per second...."


Physics Today (originally): Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine.

"After a hurried private discussion (‘I don't know, you hired him..."’), we informed Richard that his assignment would be to advise on the application of parallel processing to scientific problems.

"‘That sounds like a bunch of baloney,’ he said. ‘Give me something real to do.’

So we sent him out to buy some office supplies."

Walter Kessinger

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