Saturday, August 11, 2012

Quote of the Day (the Second)...

It's my blog, and I can have two quotes of the day if I want to!  This one is from my blog girl Rachel Lucas, writing about a new TV show called Honey Boo Boo:
You watch that trailer for that show and tell me that a benign, all-powerful God created mankind and has been in control of its development since then. I defy you.
Ah, Rachel ... you crack me up, even while I'm agreeing with you that all hope for the human race is lost...

Quote of the Day...

This comes from Jesse Walker, writing at the Reason Hit & Run blog:
That is not a sign that we are not doomed. It is a sign that we've been doomed for a while.
Cheerful, isn't he?  Go read why he's so optimistic...

Fire Resources: HPWREN Cameras...

In the 2007 fires, we got our best near-realtime information from the Lyons Peak HPWREN cameras.  At this writing, the HPWREN camera network has been greatly expanded (compared with 2007), and in the past few days another site has been added that's particularly valuable for folks near Jamul: the Los Pinos site, a few miles east of Barrett Lake.  If you're not familiar with these locations, I've created a map that has markers for all six HPWREN camera sites that may be useful for Jamul area residents during a wildfire.

How Do You Eat Corn-on-the-Cob?

There are, apparently, two distinct ways that people eat corn-on-the-cob.  Some people work back-and-forth, chewing all the corn in a row and only then rotating the cob.  Others eat in a spiral, rotating the cob all the way around while chewing off a narrow stripe and only then moving the cob a bit sideways.

I was actually surprised when I read the above – the only way to eat corn-on-the-cob that had ever even occurred to me was the second method.  The first method seems to me somehow ... unnatural.

This post postulates a causal connection (or at least a strong correlation) between the way one eats corn-on-the-cob and two other things: the way one prefers to approach mathematics, and the way one programs.  This is a very strange idea.  Strange, but interesting...

I'll Prove It!

Via reader Jim M.:

Curiosity: Brain Transplant Time...

For most of this weekend, Curiosity will not be doing any science activities – it's busy getting a “brain transplant” (that's how the NASA PR folks describe it, not me!).  What that really means is they are very carefully installing new software.  This new software is more focused on the kinds of activities Curiosity will be engaged with on the ground.  The previous software was more focused on the cruise and descent phase, and much of it is no longer needed.  This software upgrade is expected to take nearly all weekend.

Meanwhile, there's a nice full-resolution black & white panorama to view (below, click to enlarge).  There are several interesting things on here.  At the top edge, spread across about half the panorama just to the right of center you can see the base of Mt. Sharp.  That's the direction Curiosity will be heading once it starts to roll.  The knolls visible in that direction are Curiosity's first research target.  Just below the right edge of Mt. Sharp, in the foreground, you can see two of the scoured-out places where the sky crane's rocket exhaust blew the dust off the bedrock.  The very close parts showing Curiosity itself are oddly sliced up; this is an artifact of the panorama “stitching” process.  Close subjects are always challenging in panoramas, as the camera displacement (while panning) introduces parallax error.  All over the visible surface one can see gravel and some rocks that appear to be fist-sized.  Lots of things for Curiosity to look at!

Obama Island Giveaway?

There's a meme running around the more rabid conservative blogs these days, claiming that Obama is giving away seven “resource-laden” islands to the Russians.  According to reports like this one, these islands are long accepted as part of the United States (specifically, Alaska) – and Obama is just giving them away for no good reason.

This smelled fishy to me.  First of all, I'd never heard of these islands before, and I'd think such treasure troves of resources would be something I'd run across.  Secondly, it's inconceivable that Obama could just “give away” land that was generally accepted as part of the U.S. without a hue and cry being raised – by the Alaskans, if not anyone else.

So I did some investigating.  Short answer: this meme is complete bullshit.

This kind of thing really ticks me off.  There are more than enough pieces of real evidence to condemn Obama with; a strong case can be made to boot him out of office without any resort to fabrications.  Further, these fabrications actually provide ammuntion to the liberals – they get to point at these and dismiss the other side as tin foil hat wearing lunatics.  And there's some justice in their observation.

Here's the reality, nicely laid out by  I spot-checked a few of their more interesting points myself.  First, the map at right (theirs) is not at all misleading.  I went to Google Earth (to eliminate map projection distortions) and looked up all eight of the islands in question.  There's no doubt about it: all eight of them are rather obviously much closer to Russia than they are to the U.S.  Second, I verified that the Alaskan Senators did support this treaty – and in the process, I discovered that Sarah Palin also supports it.  Finally, I verified that the treaty was actually negotiated in 1989 with the Soviet Union, who ratified it in 1990.  There is no more Soviet Union, and the Russians are not at all sure they want this treaty (as is also pointed out by – many politicians in Russia believe the treaty gives far too much to the U.S.!

Come on, folks.  Let's deal in facts, please ... at least when they're available!

The Lawyer's Party...

Via reader Simi L., The Lawyer's Party in American Thinker, by Bruce Walker.  It's over four years old, but still perfectly applicable.  Here's the lead:
The Democratic Party has become the Lawyers' Party. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are lawyers. Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama are lawyers. John Edwards, the other former Democrat candidate for president, is a lawyer and so is his wife Elizabeth. Every Democrat nominee since 1984 went to law school (although Gore did not graduate.) Every Democrat vice presidential nominee since 1976, except for Lloyd Bentsen, went to law school. Look at the Democrat Party in Congress: the Majority Leader in each house is a lawyer.

The Republican Party is different. President Bush and Vice President Cheney were not lawyers, but businessmen. The leaders of the Republican Revolution were not lawyers. Newt Gingrich was a history professor; Tom Delay was an exterminator; and Dick Armey was an economist. House Minority Leader Boehner was a plastic manufacturer, not a lawyer. The former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is a heart surgeon.

Who was the last Republican president who was a lawyer? Gerald Ford, who left office thirty-one years ago and who barely won the Republican nomination as a sitting president, running against Ronald Reagan in 1976. The Republican Party is made up of real people doing real work. The Democratic Party is made up of lawyers. Democrats mock and scorn men who create wealth, like Bush and Cheney, or who heal the sick like Frist, or who immerse themselves in history like Gingrich.

The Lawyers' Party sees these sorts of people, who provide goods and services that people want, as the enemies of America. And so we have seen the procession of official enemies in the eyes of the Lawyers' Party grow. Against whom do Hillary and Obama rail? Pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, hospitals, manufacturers, fast food restaurant chains, large retail businesses, bankers and anyone producing anything of value in our nation.
Go read the whole thing...

Obama: A Little Disillusionment from the Left...