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All Across the Universe

July 8, 2010

Europe’s Planck telescope has given us this composite view of our universe, which reminds me of a fire opal or some kind of cosmic reptilian eye. For the image without our eight legged overlord, check the image at the above link.

The space telescope was launched in May last year on a mission to survey the “cosmic microwave background” – ancient light left over from the big bang.

The bright streak across the middle of the picture is our own galaxy, the Milky Way, viewed edge-on. The intense light comes not from stars but from the radiation released by the dust and gas clouds that stretch between them.

“We are opening the door to an El Dorado where scientists can seek the nuggets that will lead to deeper understanding of how our universe came to be and how it works now. The image itself and its remarkable quality is a tribute to the engineers who built and have operated Planck,” said David Southwood, director of science and robotic exploration at the European Space Agency (Esa).

The blue and white wisps that reach above and below our own galaxy are streamers of cold dust that trace out the “galactic web” where new stars are born.

The speckles at the top and bottom of the image are caused by microwave background radiation, the remnants of the first light that appeared 380,000 years after the big bang flung the universe into being 13.7bn years ago.

Other recent scientific discoveries have given us the freaky looking Enteropneust from the North Atlantic, which looks remarkably similar in form to the newly discovered Interfacial Jet, a “fluid-fluid interface between two immiscible liquids of different densities.”

And now discoveries by archaeologists and paleontologists indicate that the ancient Brits have occupied their green isles for at least 800,00 years much longer than previously thought.

And here’s a fun little interactive tool for grokking the size of the universe.

It seems that again the microcosm of human activity has become too surreal and insane, so it is good to get one’s science on and gaze out into the macrospheres.

65 Comments leave one →
  1. Stemella permalink*
    July 8, 2010 11:58 am

    Here is a story with some promise

    Solar-power plane heads into first night flight

    A solar-powered aircraft designed to fly round the clock without traditional aviation fuel or polluting emissions headed on Wednesday into its crucial first night flight.

    The plane, named Solar Impulse, took off for its first 24-hour test flight just after dawn from an air base near this central Swiss town and began climbing above nearby lakes and mountains toward a peak altitude of 8,500 meters (27,900 feet).

    “It is going well. This is an incredible moment,” said Bertrand Piccard, one of the two initiators of the project who himself carried out the first non-stop round-the-world flight in a hot-air balloon just 11 years ago.

    They hope to circumnavigate the globe with a solar plane in 2012.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 8, 2010 12:41 pm

      Nice post! Hadn’t seen that Planck image yet. Just found out a little more about it at this Bad Astronomy post.

      For some more astronomical eye candy, check out this image from Hubble of two colliding galaxies which I also just found at BA. Neat-O.

      I’m no engineer, but if any vehicle can operate efficiently on solar power, I would think it would be a plane operating above the cloud cover. I imagine the planes are a lot lighter than conventionally fueled aircraft so they probably take less energy to power than they would otherwise. Good luck to them with the tests!

      • Stemella permalink*
        July 8, 2010 1:29 pm

        wow! That first photo from Hubble looks a bit like a pinkish nautilus. Perty even if it is massively destructive!

        and this link to Chromoscope for mapping the Planck picture by wavelengths is pretty cool too. Radio waves = purple haze :)

  2. cometman permalink*
    July 8, 2010 1:10 pm

    Bwaaaaaaahahahahahaha! Didn’t know exactly what you guys were referring too with the clash of the titty babies comment in the last post. Then I ran across this. Har har har har!!!!!!! Dear leader is whining about having been banned! Oh, the irony…… He he he he ho ho ho haha!

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 8, 2010 1:34 pm

      Between the banhammer from MSNBC and his Research2000 pollster having likely defrauded him leading to major suits and counter suits (and his upcoming book is based on a lot of data from that very pollster) Mamz is drooping in his drawers this summer. Poor mamz :-P

    • artemis54 permalink
      July 8, 2010 8:08 pm

      Listen. I can hear the groundswell of support for the little asshole.

      Oh wait, that was just my cat farting. Maybe tomorrow.

      I’m sure every decent person thrown out of his little shithole blog will rush to his defence, not to mention FDL, David Sirota, Chris Floyd, everyone else he has trashed, and actual progressives everywhere.

      I hope this is the end of that worthless little piece of shit.

      • cometman permalink*
        July 9, 2010 8:46 am

        Wouldn’t it be hilarious if somebody were to compile a list of comments from Klub Kumquat telling various bannees how it’s a privately owned site, free speech is not a given, and the owner and community will ban whoever they damn well want, etc etc and send the list to MSNBC. Not that I like Joe Scarborough at all, but were he to read that on the air I might tune in for the first time ever :)

  3. artemis54 permalink
    July 8, 2010 6:45 pm

    More evidence that Alexandra Morton has shifted the debate. It is now all over the Canadian press. Hellzapoppin:

    It’s clear the Libs put aquaculture ahead of wild fish

    Why the secrecy on sea lice?

    What’s the government hiding on sea lice?

    This is how it’s done kids, pace mamz and his keyboard quietist brigade.

  4. cometman permalink*
    July 9, 2010 6:28 am

    The lesson the inept Martha Coakley seems to have taken from her defeat in her Senate bid is to act more like the idiot who beat her. Now she is questioning the consumer benefit of the Cape Wind project and demanding profit estimates. Here’s a hint dumbass- the benefit is that consumers may not wind up underwater if we get off the goddamned fossil fuels.

    Want to make Cape Wind show their figures publicly, then make every other one of the rat bastards who provide power do the same. I haven’t been able to figure out my electric bill for years since the industry was deregulated and now I get separate charges for the actual energy and the “delivery” of it. Still haven’t figured out what the people who “deliver” my power actually do except shuffle paper corresponding to who knows what. They didn’t build the lines, they don’t produce the energy and yet I pay them a premium every month whether I like it or not. Somehow that’s just fine and dandy. But try to do something that might actually benefit the environment and everything that lives in it, and we’ll need a full public audit.

    No wonder you lost, you stupid stupid woman.

  5. cometman permalink*
    July 9, 2010 6:28 am

    RIP to one of the founders of Greenpeace, Jim Bohlen.

    • artemis54 permalink
      July 9, 2010 7:14 am

      obit at Greenpeace Canada website

      I wonder how many people today realize that Greenpeace was born in BC.

  6. Stemella permalink*
    July 9, 2010 7:26 am

    Somehow this story does not make me confident that we the sheeple aren’t being continuously stripped of our rights these days

    U.S. eavesdropping agency says Perfect Citizen is purely R&D

    The program, dubbed Perfect Citizen, is “purely a vulnerabilities-assessment and capabilities-development contract,” Judith Emmel, a National Security Agency spokeswoman, said in an email to Reuters.

    “This is a research and engineering effort,” she said. “There is no monitoring activity involved, and no sensors are employed in this endeavor.”

    The Wall Street Journal, in its Thursday editions, described Perfect Citizen as relying on sensors it said would be deployed in networks running critical infrastructure such as the electricity grid and nuclear-power plants.

    Raytheon Co won a classified contract for the classified work’s initial phase valued at up to $100 million, the report cited a person familiar with the project as saying.

    Joyce Kuzmin, a Raytheon spokeswoman, told Reuters in response: “We have no info on this.”

    The NSA, a Defense Department arm, did not confirm or deny that the contract in question had been awarded to Waltham, Massachusetts-based Raytheon.

    And in response to the hullaballoo over the Rolling Stones article on McChrystal, the Pentagon has issued new rules for the media that will restrict free flow of info between press and military contacts. They insist this won’t have a chilling effect. Yeah, right.

    Those jackboots just keep getting louder.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 9, 2010 9:56 am

      “This contract provides a set of technical solutions that help the National Security Agency better understand the threats to national security networks,” Emmel said.

      Riiiiiight. Just a contract to “help them understand the threats”. And once those “threats” are understood, I’m sure they plan to just sit by and do nothing. Ferchrissakes, the bastards have been monitoring people for years now, not sure why they persist in trying to deny that they aren’t.

      And the Pentagon says there isn’t meant to be a “chilling effect” from their new rules?!?!?! Based on what’s happening to Bradley manning and other whistleblowers right now, I’m feeling pretty frosty and I don’t even have anything to report.

  7. artemis54 permalink
    July 9, 2010 7:35 am

    Oh my: Super squid sex organ discovered

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 9, 2010 8:04 am

      The male squid’s sexual organ is almost as long as its whole body, including the squid’s mantle, head and arms.

      That shows how male deep-sea squid inseminate females; they use their huge penis to shoot out packages of sperm, injecting them into the female’s body.

      That’s just nasty. Breeding by bukkake.

      And that photo! Gaaaaaaaaaaaa! Now conjure the images of Hank Paulson and Lloyd Blankfein. ;-p

      • cometman permalink*
        July 9, 2010 8:41 am

        I wonder if the 40 foot deep sea colossal squid also has a colossal peepee. If so I can think of several things I wouldn’t mind happening to Hank and Lloyd with one of them…

  8. cometman permalink*
    July 9, 2010 9:05 am

    Here are some photos I took from my sojourn among the hippies last weekend. They didn’t come out as well as I would have liked due to my poor photography skills but hopefully you’ll be able to see them OK.

    Here’s the White Tyger who I can only assume had been burning bright, greeting people on their way to the Blow Bros. potty line.

    And a couple that were in one of the videos posted earlier.

    The alien parade –

    The Free Karma Wash – not sure who exactly set this up but after viewing it for a couple days it seemed to be run by a couple middle aged male hippies who took some pleasure in ushering the scantily clad young watered down stony waifs on through :)

    And last but certainly not least, the bat winged abortion butt crack girl (you have to look closely to see the details of the bat wing hat and the little plastic half formed baby thingy on her shoulder, but trust me, they’re there). I saw the first flash of butt crack while walking through the campsite on my way for some water early in the morning. The subject was still milling around near her tent wearing just the hospital gown and at first glance I thought she must have just been waking from her slumber and was about to get dressed. But when I noticed the rest of her get up and she turned from her tent and made her way through the fairgrounds in the same garb I realized a change of clothes was not part of her plan at all. When the music started a few hours later, she was there in all her glory flying her freak flag high, which in this case was a brightly colored butterfly kite. At that point is was clear she wanted to be noticed so I felt obliged to snap a few photos. Enjoy!

    • Stemella permalink*
      July 9, 2010 10:39 am

      Here, I cropped your photo to get the full effect of the abortion on her shoulder beneath her bat hat. I’m not sure I want to take what she was taking, but ya got to hand it to her for her chutzpah!

      Thanks for sharing. I could smell the patchouli and body odors all the way from here ;)

      • cometman permalink*
        July 9, 2010 12:30 pm

        Very nice, thanks!

  9. cometman permalink*
    July 9, 2010 10:17 am

    More brave new world news – the FucM up mousie!

    For some reason, reading the news of the gender shifting mouse made me think of Phranc. What if the poor FucM mouse enjoys being a girl?

    I’m a little skeptical on first reading – the FucM mouse? Come on. So maybe this is another one of those bullshit press releases that slipped through the cracks at ScienceDaily but the name was kinda funny. Take us on out Phranc!

  10. Stemella permalink*
    July 9, 2010 10:47 am

    Here’s some interesting educational videos about our stuff, where it comes from, where it goes etc

    Story of Stuff

  11. cometman permalink*
    July 9, 2010 11:02 am

    Looks like the Eurozone “stress tests” are shaping up to be merely a PR whitewash, just like they were in the US. more here and here.

    Meanwhile back across the pond, things aren’t looking much better. People are still defaulting on mortgages and guess who’s defaulting at the highest rate – it ain’t the poor who many still try to blame for this massive economic hemorrhage.

    And we’ve been hearing about the coming commercial real estate collapse for some time now but so far it hasn’t hit, or at least not enough to get the people on the idiot box talking about it yet – it’s pretty clear walking around any downtown and seeing all the signs for vacant office space that something is wrong. Read a couple articles about it recently and evidently after the residential meltdown, banks have taken steps to “restructure” commercial debt before the shit really hits the fan. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the debtors will be able to pay up. Yves Smith has a good rundown of it here – Bank Extend and Pretend Common in Commercial Real Estate Loans.

    Here’s a link to the WSJ article Smith discusses –To Fix Sour Property Deals, Lenders ‘Extend and Pretend’ .

    A big push by banks in recent months to modify such loans—by stretching out maturities or allowing below-market interest rates—has slowed a spike in defaults. It also has helped preserve banks’ capital, by keeping some dicey loans classified as “performing” and thus minimizing the amount of cash banks must set aside in reserves for future losses.

    Restructurings of nonresidential loans stood at $23.9 billion at the end of the first quarter, more than three times the level a year earlier and seven times the level two years earlier. While not all were for commercial real estate, the total makes clear that large numbers of commercial-property borrowers got some leeway.

    But the practice is creating uncertainties about the health of both the commercial-property market and some banks. The concern is that rampant modification of souring loans masks the true scope of the commercial property market weakness, as well as the damage ultimately in store for bank balance sheets.

    Funny, I don’t remember homeowners getting that kind of kid glove treatment.

  12. cometman permalink*
    July 9, 2010 12:38 pm

    Some justice, but not nearly enough for Oscar Grant. The cop who murdered him was convicted of involuntary manslaughter but not murder. Good account from Democracy Now!

    Grant was the unarmed 22-year-old African-American man who was shot dead by a white transit officer on an open train platform on New Year’s Day 2009. Cell phone videos of the shooting show the transit officer Johannes Mehserle, pulling out a gun and shooting Grant in the back while he was lying face down on the ground on the train platform. On Thursday, a jury in Los Angeles convicted Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter, but he was acquitted on the more serious charges of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. The jury included eight women and four men. No African-Americans served on the jury. Mehserle will be sentenced on August 6th and voluntary manslaughter carries a penalty of two to four years in prison, but a sentencing enhancement for using a gun means he could face an additional three to 10 years behind bars.

    More here, with an account of the riots that started after the verdict.

    And some video-

    How in the hell do you manage to get a jury of one’s peers in Oakland that includes not a single black person? And how do you come to the conclusion of involuntary manslaughter rather than murder when the cop was caught on tape pulling a gun and shooting in the back an unarmed man who was on the ground and already restrained?

    • artemis54 permalink
      July 9, 2010 7:32 pm

      How in the hell is it even physically, numerically possible to empanel an all white jury in Oakland?

  13. artemis54 permalink
    July 10, 2010 9:44 am

    The outpouring of love and support for mamz over at FSZ is truly heartwarming.

    Maybe a telethon? a la Jerry Lewis?

    • cometman permalink*
      July 12, 2010 12:00 pm

      Heh. I enjoyed that!

      Don’t check Klub Kumquat these days but I imagine the usual suspects must be twisting themselves in knots trying to explain why it’s OK for the Tangerine Dream “community” to ban people from their “private site” but Joe Scarborough is a complete dillhole for using his position as a member of the MSNBC “community” to ban dear leader from the private TV network.

  14. artemis54 permalink
    July 10, 2010 6:00 pm

    Xrist. Six weeks (?) after it was discussed here, NBC News reports on the story of the sea turtle with the video cam. And natch it has to have that juenile cutesie pie bs spin befitting an audience for whom they have utter contempt.

  15. cometman permalink*
    July 12, 2010 1:05 pm

    Here’s a book that I’m adding to my list that others may find of interest- check out this review of “Bonobo Handshake”.

    Or you can order it here.

    I wouldn’t mind bonobos being our new animal overlords at all.

    • artemis54 permalink
      July 12, 2010 2:06 pm

      Think I better order that.

      That is one hell of a review, btw!

      Re Lola ya Bonobo: I’e followed the Lola ya Bonobo blog at WildlifeDirect for some time now.

      • cometman permalink*
        July 13, 2010 6:30 am

        Thanks for that website – bookmarked! Looked at the “about” section quickly and didn’t see the author of the book mentioned specifically but they are advertising it there and it looks like she is one of the main participants at the site. You can also buy her book at her own website.

        I was reading this post about aggression in chimps and humans- Are we hardwired to kill – and came across this passage –

        We kill for the same reason. Most of the killing is done over females, enemy males, and territory.Think of all the mass wars. Despite the hype of liberation and democracy, what were they really fought over?

        I’ve always assumed the given reason in Homer for the Trojan war was a myth and that it was fought over grain rights or some other economic reason. But maybe Helen did really launch a thousand ships after all.

        • artemis54 permalink
          July 13, 2010 6:41 am

          Forgive the stray thought: I was once in an enormous gay bar in Brixton, London. Watching the guys from the UK, Germany, Russia, India, Africa dancing and carrying on it crossed my mind that maybe we had a little more of the bonobo line in us than the straight crowd.

          • artemis54 permalink
            July 13, 2010 6:51 am

            There are times when the site is not updated very regularly, due to field work, the vagaries of African infrastructure, etc.

  16. cometman permalink*
    July 12, 2010 1:11 pm

    Looks like the sharks are circling BP looking for a takeover opportunity. Just what we need – an even bigger too big to fail oil conglomerate. The British government has indicated it won’t intervene in any takeover bid.

    Meanwhile, somebody planted a pipe bomb at a Texas oil execs home. Hard to tell from the initial report if this was done by someone with an axe to grind against the oil industry or not (that’s a category that would be difficult to narrow down these days). I’d expect some oil execs may feel a warm trickle going down the leg after reading that one though.

  17. cometman permalink*
    July 12, 2010 1:26 pm

    Here’s some news from the world of physics with potentially huge ramifications – new experiments have shown the proton to be smaller than previously thought.

    Big problems sometimes come in small packages. The problem with which physicists must now concern themselves measures a mere 0.0350 millionth of a millionth of a millimetre. This is precisely the difference between the new, smaller, dimension of the proton, the nucleus of the hydrogen atom, and the value which has been assumed so far. Instead of 0.8768 femtometres, it measures only 0.8418 femtometres.

    More from Nature and from ars technica.

    Admittedly I’m coming at this as an extreme dilettante, but this part from the first link stuck out to me:

    Even if the deviation is negligible on a day-to-day scale, it possibly has significant consequences. Researchers are unable to say precisely what these may be, however. What is certain is that this changes the Rydberg constant. Quantum physicists use this constant to calculate which energy packets atoms and molecules absorb and emit when they change their states. These energy packets correspond to the spectral lines of the elements. The calculations for the spectral lines now shift noticeably and no longer match the experimental findings.

    The spectral lines of the elements are what astrophysicists use to figure out what stars and other heavenly bodies are made of. The shift in spectral lines is how they determine how far away stars and galaxies are from us. This discovery seems like it could have big implications not only for the Standard Model of the atom (which has always seemed particularly convoluted to me) but for cosmology as well.

    I mean, it’s a proton ferchrissakes, the main piece of the most common element in the universe. If these results are true, there may be a lot of re-thinking going on shortly in a myriad of disciplines.

    • artemis54 permalink
      July 12, 2010 2:23 pm

      Long live the Steady State! (and Latin Mass!- St Jude pray for us)

  18. artemis54 permalink
    July 13, 2010 4:04 am

    On my radar this a.m:

    Sell your Apple stock and buy duct tape. Consumer Reports reports that the iphone’s troubles can be fixed with a little rectangle of the old reliable.

    I’m told this was on the tv last night, but I missed it. CR is now telling people not to buy the phone that it has rated as the best.

    Partners in Health has issued a Six Month Report on its efforts since the earthquake in Haiti. Included are PIH’s plans from here on out. This is a must read and I wish it could be spread around to counter the despair that is being pushed in the media currently. They seem intent on discouraging further efforts and contributions.

    And hats off to Sean Penn, who is still there six months on.

    There could be no better timing for the releas of the TEEB – The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity – Report for Business – if anyone were listening.

    In Day Too Many of the BP ecocide is is difficult not to laugh at statements like

    Business is beginning to notice the threat posed by biodiversity loss.

    except that the notice is fleeting and will soon be overwhelmed by the need for full employment or some other ideological imperative.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 13, 2010 7:03 am

      Good to know that Haiti hasn’t been completely forgotten. Other countries like Honduras sure seem to have been, but the US has accomplished its objective there by supporting the coup and installing its preferred ruler so nothing else to see there I guess. Often the Hollywood types speaking out for their causes make me cringe, even if I agree with them, but I do like Sean Penn, mainly because he has a look on his face that he’d kick your ass if you give him too much lip.

      That last quote you posted is the epitome of everything that is wrong with this country. Everything is spoken of in terms of its potential benefit to “the economy” and how much money can be made from it. I do think that slowly but surely people are realizing that these old notions are what has lead us down the road to perdition but I’m doubtful that enough people will realize it in time to do anything about it.

      It does give me some more food for thought to bring to my local city council meetings though. I’ve been going to every one for the last few months and I’m pretty sure that at least half of them are really sick of seeing me there :) I’ve mentioned before that my pet issue is this one building that was built a couple years ago. Special zoning changes were made to get it constructed against the will of the people in the neighborhood, but the council did it anyway touting “jobs” and “economic development”. It still sits empty since they built it before lining up any potential tenants. Genius! And now some on the council want the city to buy it for a new city hall even though the old one isn’t in imminent danger of disintegrating any time soon. That would pretty much negate their previous argument of “economic development” as it would provide no jobs and take property off the tax rolls. The whole thing is typical backwards wrong-headed thinking. And it’s really one woman who is leading the charge, a typical dumbass republican who contradicts herself every time she opens her yap. Last week I told her it looked like she was trying to bail out the developer. I don’t think she liked that :)

      Anyway, I think I should try to make the point that when you can only discuss things in terms of their potential benefit to the “economy”, you often wind up making stupid decisions. There are some really good members on the council too who have some forward looking ideas that aren’t based just on economic benefit. One would fund a land trust to preserve and add to green spaces, parks, etc by earmarking a big percentage of the sale of any current city property to go into that trust. Another just created a revolving loan fund administered by the city to give low interest small loans to small business . In essence, the city just started a public bank. But these idiot republican types can really throw a wrench into the works and have (the land trust idea was temporarily tabled rather than passed – it’s pretty clear to me that some on the council don’t want the money to go to a land trust because they want to use the sale of other city property to buy this new building for a city hall), and I’m going to keep letting them have it.

      • artemis54 permalink
        July 13, 2010 7:11 am

        It’s a good sign if they’re getting sick of you.

        Our city hall actually was faling apart. So we fixed it. The black star up top caps a bolt holding things together. There are several others, and other measures, you can’t see any trace of. I think it has a certain charm.

        I hear people justify everything in economic or employment terms. I always want to say, okay, cut the DoD budget in half and just spend the money digging a hole to China – with shovels, employing all the laid off military. At least you would do less damage.

        • artemis54 permalink
          July 13, 2010 7:28 am

          Meant to add, the next step is they’ll try to stick you on the council just to shut you up. It’s fun, and also very tiresome.

        • cometman permalink*
          July 13, 2010 12:43 pm

          Heh. I already have an argument prepared for that contingency. If you’re on the council you’re expected to sit there during meetings not replying to citizens’ remarks. You have to be polite. I’m well aware that politeness is not one of my virtues in the face of abject stupidity. I think I’m much more effective rousing the rabble. So far I’ve kept my comments to direct remarks at meetings which are generally sparsely attended. Often it’s just me and maybe one or two other members of the public who go. But if the dummies won’t listen, I do have an ally on this one who has a rather rather lengthy email contact list of local citizens. Not afraid to embarrass this one particular councilmember more publicly either – there’s a free local weekly newspaper delivered to every home in the city. A few letters to the editor talking about how this one councilmember wants to bail out the developers would probably do the trick as she does have aspirations for higher office. She’s run for state senate before (and lost) and I have no problem embarrassing her and putting a damper on any further aspirations she may have.

          The dummies have fucked up the whole world and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit by and watch when they try the same bullshit in my town.

  19. artemis54 permalink
    July 13, 2010 5:35 am

    What do you really think?

    The DADT survey has already been trashed by everyone from Nate Silver to Iraq war veterans. But I was curious to hear what shrinking violet Dan Choi would make of it: heinous, embarrassing, bogus, insults America.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 13, 2010 1:00 pm

      Wow. A survey?!?!?!? Choi hit the nail on the head when he mentioned there were no surveys when blacks or women were allowed into the military.

      Why not just make the Iliad required reading for entrance into the military? The oldest western epic glorifying war – how many heads would explode in the US military when they found out the whole story was about a couple of queers?

  20. artemis54 permalink
    July 13, 2010 6:57 am

    Thanks to homeland security bullshit, paperwork bullshit, and just plain bullshit, the Iriquois Nationals may not be able to compete in the world championship lacrosse meet in the UK.

    The Nationals are ranked fourth in the world – and, uh, the Iriquois invented the game.

  21. artemis54 permalink
    July 13, 2010 7:25 am

    The duct tape iphone fix reminds me of a somewhat similar stroy from some years back.

    The dams on the lower Snake include an earthen/rip rap portion across part of the span. Upon completion, Little Goose’s earthen portion was leaking. The Corps approached my father to see if he would sell them a couple truckloads of horseshit to patch the hole. He gave it to them for free, delighted at the prospect of being able to retell the story til the end of his life.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 13, 2010 1:01 pm

      Heh. The government asking for horseshit. Pretty ironic considering they’re usually the ones dishing it out.

  22. cometman permalink*
    July 13, 2010 1:57 pm

    Not sure why I keep bringing this up since it pisses me off to no end (didn’t I promise a month or two ago that I wouldn’t?!? – what the hell is wrong with me) but it appears that <O is going to get his financial "reform" legislation passed now that he and congress have managed to water down or eliminate just about everything that might have actually reined in the industry. The commentary is appallingly, mind numbingly vapid for a measure that won't amount to a pisshole in the snow.

    So now will Elizabeth Warren be picked to head the Consumer Protection Bureau? Since she might actually create and enforce new regulation, I suspect the answer is “Hell no”. But unless something has changed that I missed, this Bureau will not be an independent agency as originally proposed but will be housed under the auspices of the Fed, so who really gives a shit who heads the damn thing?

    Feingold is catching a lot of flack for sticking to his guns and calling bullshit when he sees it. Hopefully he’ll stick to them right through the final vote, but since it looks likely to pass considering that <O is already praising the GOP "moderates" for going along, who really gives a shit? I’m at a loss for words to describe a statement like this –

    “What members of both parties realize is that we can’t allow a financial crisis like this one that we just went through to happen again.

    “This reform will prevent that from happening,” Obama said…

    The Glass-Steagall Act prevented things like this from happening and your “reform” isn’t Glass-Steagall. It isn’t even close.

    He threatens and twists the arms of Dems who actually fight for what’s right and heaps praise on the opposition when they deign to go along with weak tea legislation designed to give the appearance of doing something constructive without actually doing much of anything, legislation which they would have supported wholeheartedly had they been the ones to propose it. Ferchrissakes, why doesn’t Barry drop the pretense and switch to the party of his hero the Gipper and get it over with. There really isn’t much the corporations and their whores in Congress to get too upset about in this legislation – it doesn’t really limit any of their most egregious practices but that hasn’t stopped the knuckle dragger contingent from calling it “socialist”.

    Just fucking ridiculous.

  23. cometman permalink*
    July 13, 2010 2:19 pm

    More signs that the Wind Up Girl world is already here.

    Despite the assurances of Monsanto to the contrary, Round-Up has not kept weeds from quickly evolving to be immune to it and new kinds of superweeds have begun to proliferate.

    So what to do. Realize that hi-tech fixes are not the answer and often cause even greater problems? Get back to the basics of crop rotation and heirloom seeds? Nope. Instead just hit the weeds with Agent Orange.

    The following part was good but bears getting into more-

    We have insisted on monoculture in order to produce as much as possible. Today, we’re able to extract 6 times more corn from an acre of land than 100 years ago. Industrial agriculture is to be commended for that impressive efficiency. And I know how its apologists – Dow and Monsanto included– would defend the institution and its manic drive for production. Industrial agriculture is necessary, they would say, to feed the world: you can’t feed upwards of six billion people by farming like the Amish.

    Though I am not qualified to contest this claim fully, I can think of one important fact that casts doubt upon it. In this country, industrial agriculture’s immense bounty has wrought skyrocketing rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes. Agribusiness has not exactly harnessed its awesome technological advances to feed the world, but rather, to cram as many excess calories as possible into citizens of the industrial world. In particular, its bounty has subsidized a profusion of cheap fast and processed foods. Indeed, two of Monsanto’s most popular Round-up ready products are corn and soy, the building blocks of our processed foods.

    The argument about feeding the world isn’t so much that the world couldn’t feed itself without Monsanto and the like, it’s more that the US alone couldn’t produce enough massive surpluses to feed the whole world without them. And that may very well be true. But why the hell should the US “feed the world” when the world could feed themselves if it weren’t for the surplus dumped on them which takes away peoples’ livelihoods and puts them into poverty rather than helping.

    And it isn’t that there wouldn’t be enough food, it’s that there wouldn’t be enough cheap food. Food that is less nutritious than it was 50 years ago. How in the hell can McDonald’s sell a cheeseburger today for the same price or less than they sold it 20 or 30 years ago? Because there’s less real food in it. If you are an oligarch who wants to keep labor cheap so there is more to take for yourself, the one thing that is absolutely necessary is to have unrealistically cheap food. No food, and people starve and nobody’s around to wipe your ass for you. Food gets to expensive for the average working person to afford and you’d have to raise wages or face a revolt and we can’t have that either what with all the private jets that need upkeep.

    One of these days maybe people will realize that our current agricultural practices aren’t about “feeding the world” but are just another way that the oligarchs keep control over everybody else.

  24. cometman permalink*
    July 14, 2010 6:31 am

    In the “always good to know who you’re dealing with department”, I was reading this post by Simon Johnson when I came across this:

    The US Treasury puts its faith instead in the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision process, a somewhat murky convocation of bank regulators from various countries that has a weak track record in terms of setting sufficient prudential standards (also the assessment of Dan Tarullo, now an influential Federal Reserve governor; disclosure, I have a part-time position at the Peterson Institute, which published his book).

    That’s right, The Peterson Institute headed by Peter G Peterson, the same Peter G Peterson who a couple years ago started the Peter G Peterson Foundation which is dedicated to taking away Social Security because “entitlements” are just too damn expensive what with all the wars to run and banks to bail out.

    Johnson works at the Institute and not the Foundation and I haven’t seen anything from him to suggest that he agrees with Peterson’s aims regarding social welfare programs. But he does do work with Peterson and has worked with the IMF as well. He may not agree with the oligarchs, especially not lately, but he definitely runs in the same circles.

  25. cometman permalink*
    July 14, 2010 6:37 am

    Despite the republicans having their asses handed to them in the last couple elections, the dems continue to bow to republican demands and it appears that the key to being considered a serious candidate for national office is still to act more like a republican. At least that’s the message Democrats seem to be taking – In key contests, Democrats championing gun rights.

    When can we stop the charade that there are two distinct major political parties in the US?

  26. artemis54 permalink
    July 14, 2010 11:31 am

    True Colors:

    BC’s loudmouth Minister for Mining, Bill Bennett, denounced those lobbying for a national park in the BC portion of the Flathead Valley as “eco-fascists.” Except he managed to misspell it.

    Whatever you do, don’t name your kid Bill Bennett.

  27. cometman permalink*
    July 14, 2010 1:39 pm

    I’m off for a few days. Keep the place warm while I’m gone and play nice!

  28. artemis54 permalink
    July 15, 2010 2:48 am

    From our Seriously, What the Fuck? file:

    Farmed B.C. salmon could soon carry federal organic label

    Some of these fish are treated with proprietary formulations that the industry refuses to disclose. No one else, certainly not the federal government, even knows what is in them.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 19, 2010 7:31 am

      So the US won’t go along with it even if Canada certifies them organic. That is truly a surprise.

      If Canada does do this, I suspect Alex Morton will be a little less polite with her next round of protests.

  29. artemis54 permalink
    July 15, 2010 4:35 am

    Is there anyone in this country with more balls than the Center for Biological Diversity? They are about to launch a national campaign to ban lead bullets.

    They will be taking on the NRA head to head, and obviously relish the prospect.

    Needless to say, I find this far more interesting than the bullshit elections.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 19, 2010 7:34 am

      Interesting. Are they looking for a ban on the grounds that lead is an environmental hazard? Reminds me of the old Chris Rock routine where he suggested that if you really wanted to stop gun violence, rather than banning guns you should just charge 5 grand apiece for bullets.

      • artemis54 permalink
        July 19, 2010 12:34 pm

        There is the potential threat to human health once lead is introduced into the food chain, and there is the immediate threat to a wide variety of species. CBD got some – sinificant really – restrictions on lead shot in areas frequented by condors, probably the most threatened species.

        btw, lead fishing weights are largely responsible for the loss of Europe’s swans as well.

  30. artemis54 permalink
    July 15, 2010 10:15 am

    William Riley, head cheese of Obama’s BP Whitewash Commission, just expressed his absolute confidence in Ken Salazar, the haploid fuckwit that is arguably responsible for this mess in the first place.

    I feel better already.

  31. cometman permalink*
    July 19, 2010 8:03 am

    Finally read Oryx and Crake over the long weekend. Tremendous book – couldn’t put it down. I really liked the way she incorporated a lot of actual genetic developments that I’d read about previously into her book – the florescent jellyfish gene being incorporated into other animals for example – it lent a poignant verisimilitude to the story and made what she had to say that much more urgent.

    On a side note, I believe that was the first fictional book I’d read by a female author in about 15 years and the first one I liked since reading Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time series probably 30 years ago. A friend recommended Mary Renault’s adaptations of the classics in the mid-90’s thinking that might be a female author I’d like, but I didn’t. I thought she tried to create male characters from a female perspective and I didn’t find them very realistic and it’s caused me to shy away from female written fiction since. But I think Atwood captured different male viewpoints quite well. Not sure if that’s because Atwood is a better writer or because I’ve grown up a little bit in the past couple decades ;) Anyway, my reluctance to at least give female novelists a try has now been removed so thanks for the recommendation!

    Also delved a little further into The Black Swan. It is really an entertaining read – Taleb is a pretty good writer for a quant but then he doesn’t tire of mentioning his all around erudition during the course of the book. The ideas he presents aren’t new at all and will probably be familiar to our vast readership – he discusses the importance of doubt and how we don’t really know as much as we think we do and traces those ideas back to the classical period. Hume and his idea that you can’t really even prove that the sun will come up tomorrow is one of Taleb’s favorites (and mine). He doesn’t think much of Platonic oversimplification and I tend to like anyone who pokes fun at the ancient Attic blowhard. He does get a little repetitious however in reminding us of how little we really know and I found myself thinking a couple of times “We get the point Socrates!” but somehow I think Taleb might get a chuckle from that little bit of criticism.

    Next up, Naomi Klein’s No Logo which I found at a nice used bookstore over the weekend.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 19, 2010 8:18 am

      And here’s a quote from Taleb’s book that sums up quite nicely a lot of my thoughts on the present day world, namely that while technological developments have allowed us to advance and brought some great benefits, they have also brought huge problems and it is time to simply STOP and rethink before it’s too late.

      Taleb reminds us that the discoveries that brought us the new technology and new levels of comfort as human beings were by and large made by accident, and we shouldn’t blindly assume that every accident will be to our benefit in the long run.

      But I insist on the following: that we got here by accident does not mean that we should continue to take the same risks. We are mature enough a race to realize this point, enjoy our blessings, and try to preserve, by becoming more conservative, what we got by luck. We have been playing Russian roulette; now let’s stop and get a real job.

      The Black Swan, 2nd edition, p. 116.

      Emphasis added by Taleb.

      Just because there was no bullet in the chamber yesterday doesn’t mean there won’t be tomorrow, as the BP disaster has shown so clearly. But looking at the reaction of our “leaders” to this debacle, the economic meltdown, etc I’m not so sure that as a race we are mature enough to understand this. Yes, there are some people who get it, but not nearly enough of a critical mass it appears.

  32. cometman permalink*
    July 19, 2010 12:23 pm

    Here’s part 1 of a three part WAPO investigation lead by about the only WAPO journalist still worth a damn, Dana Priest, on US “intelligence” gathering – Top Secret America.

    This article also relates to some of the themes Taleb discusses in The Black Swan, namely that too much information can just make the situation worse. Check out the article and it looks like just about every communication from everybody across the planet is being monitored by a myriad of spooks across a legion of agencies, and yet there still isn’t anybody who knows what the hell is going on. Taleb, much like the argument Arthur Silber made that we discussed here, argues that in many fields there are no real “experts” and the average person on the street with a modicum of intelligence could make equally as accurate predictions as the so-called “experts” who are paid the big bucks. The figure tossed out in the article is 854,000 people currently working in “intelligence”. And yet the only “terrorists” that seem to have been captured were caught either through citizens noticing something was wrong all by themselves or by a government agents engaged in the entrapment of a handful of nutjobs who likely would never have done a damn thing if the government itself weren’t egging them on.

    The government keeps pouring billions down the toilet to try to stop an abstract idea in an effort that can’t possibly ever be successful. But it sure does provide a hell of a lot of busy work. Imagine how high the already cooked unemployment figures would be if all the useless jobs like these were to suddenly disappear.

  33. artemis54 permalink
    July 19, 2010 2:40 pm

    TED interview with Julian Assange:

    • artemis54 permalink
      July 20, 2010 9:04 am

      The Guardian interviewed Assange. Well worth reading.

      • cometman permalink*
        July 20, 2010 10:25 am

        That was a good article. I just wish the author of it could have refrained from using the “conspricay theorist” label on Assange, which implies that Assange is making subjective judgments on the information he releases, especially as this directly contradicts what Assange explicitly says elsewhere in the article.

    • cometman permalink*
      July 20, 2010 10:07 am

      Thanks for that one. It’ll be interesting to see what he may have on BP. And TED deserves a lot of credit for interviewing him considering everybody who’d like a piece of him right now. I’d be surprised if they didn’t have some spooks poking around asking them about Assange recently.

      • artemis54 permalink
        July 20, 2010 10:12 am

        Apparently his appearance was a surprise until the last minute.

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