Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mr. Gasoline Engine Man!

Here it is Thanksgiving morning, and while I am watching the Macy's Parade  Mr. Gasoline Engine Man is out mowing his lawn!

I put my mower away 4 weeks ago.

Good Old Gasoline Engine Man!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Joss Whedon Messed Up

I like a lot of Joss Whedon's work.   Buffy was fun.

 So was Firefly / Serenity. 

(Well, Much Ado really sucked, but)

 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is programmed into my DVR.

But the last episode was not only a little iffy on the logic (real life doesn't have to make sense to us, but fiction does), 

but Whedon used THEORY when he should have used HYPOTHESIS !!

Not forgiven.   A HYPOTHESIS is an untested guess about what might be going on.  

A THEORY is our best explanation of the facts after testing them!  

Evolution by natural selection  was a HYPOTHESIS when Darwin first asked the question while in South America.   Then Wallace, Darwin, and thousands of other researchers found example after example of natural selection doing the job, and the hypothesis produced a THEORY, which will remain unless someone's test comes up negative.

Bad, Whedon, Bad!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Big Storm Before Thanksgiving! - Updated

OK, there is a huge storm coming.  Even though it is early, I will go out on a limb and give a central Connecticut prediction:

The precipitation will start Tuesday: rain.  Some might see a little snow.   No late opening predicted.

Wednesday Weather:  WET
You might be wet going home Tuesday!  

You will be soaked going in on Wednesday, with two inches of rain or more on the way.  With the plants all gone for the winter, expect flooding.

If you are flying out Wednesday, it will be a bumpy ride.

NO SNOW DAY this week.  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

JFK and AM Radio

In case you were fortunate enough to get completely away from the 24/7 news business, yesterday was the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination.

I remember it.  I was in my orthodontist's office getting my teeth wired when I heard.  My other memory was that the Saturday morning cartoons (the only time cartoons were shown on the 3 channels available in West Hartford) were preempted by the funeral.  Three days of black and white coverage of the funeral.  Nobody seemed to be smiling.

But there was something else...

Then:  Unadulterated news, 
useful information, bad
jokes.  Made people feel
Yesterday morning I turned on AM radio to hear the news and weather (I turn it off immediately after, so that I can enjoy my breakfast).  As part of the news broadcast, the station played a clip from that morning’s programming around the time of the shooting.  It was a home information show, accepting calls from listeners and finding solutions to such problems as when to trim roses and how to get stains out of rugs.  Not exciting, I know, but it brought back memories of when AM radio was about information and music, not the rants of idiots whose sole 
Now: Wants immigrants to go back 
to Mexico and drug users to go to 
jail.  Sends Mexican housekeeper to 
score his oxycontin.

object seems to be to inflame the passions of the ignorant.

I miss those days, the days when radio made you smarter, not stupider.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Air Pollution is Bad for Computers and Other Living Things

Intel, one of the world's largest producers of computer innards, has discovered that they have a problem:

"According to the processor titan, many boards were found to be suffering from the sort of sulfur corrosion that is seldom seen by technicians outside of heavy-duty factory environments."

Photo from The Guardian
The faulty equipment has been found in the India and China data centers.   As you all know, burning coal produces sulfur oxides, and in the presence of normal atmospheric moisture, that creates sulfuric acid.  It is not advisable to soak computer chips in sulfuric acid.

Last month a choking cloud of air pollution 4,000 per cent as dangerous as the World Health Organization's recommendation of daily airborne particulate exposure virtually shut down Harbin, one of northeastern China's most populous cities.

More here at The Register.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Moon Over Miami

A friend of a friend posted this photo a few days ago on the night of the full moon.

Big storm?  No.  Clear skies.  

When the moon is full, it and the sun work together to create higher than usual tides.  

It happens normally every month.

But when you add warm, expanding oceans, you realize that Florida is mostly at sea level.  For now.  But the sea level is rising.

As I said earlier this month, Move Inland or Learn to Tread Water

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Climate Change = Stronger Storms?

Well, it makes sense that adding energy to the atmosphere would add energy to storms.

But nature doesn't use human logic.  So, we look at the data and find that 

“Atlantic tropical cyclones are getting stronger on average, with a 30-year trend that has been related to an increase in ocean temperatures over the Atlantic Ocean and elsewhere.”

The details are here:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Delay on Tuesday?

Not likely.  I'm giving it only a 20% possibility.

The ground is still too warm for snow to stick, so the roads will be clear.

Do your homework.

Florida: Move inland or learn to tread water.

South Florida Faces Ominous Prospects From Rising Waters

Shannon Kaestle/The Miami Herald, via Associated Press
Storm clouds swirled over downtown Miami last month as Tropical Storm Karen headed toward the Florida Panhandle. By 2100, the sea level could rise five or six feet, or more, threatening the city.

Planners in Florida are realizing that within 50 years, much of Florida will be under water.  

“I don’t think people realize how vulnerable Florida is,” Harold R. Wanless, the chairman of the geological sciences department at the University of Miami, said in an interview last week. “We’re going to get four or five or six feet of water, or more, by the end of the century. You have to wake up to the reality of what’s coming.”

Even predictions more modest than Professor Wanless’s foresee most of low-lying coastal Florida subject to increasingly frequent floods as the polar ice caps melt more quickly and the oceans surge and gain ground.
Much of Florida’s 1,197-mile coastline is only a few feet above the current sea level, and billions of dollars’ worth of buildings, roads and other infrastructure lies on highly porous limestone that leaches water like a sponge.

Blue and White Warning for Tuesday, Wednesday

Definitely snow in Burlington, WH maybe.
What is a blue and white warning?

There is a freezing air mass coming at us from Canada.  The front of this mass will hit tonight.
When the cold front slams into the warmish, damp air here, the warm and wet will be hurled up high, where it will come back as snow.

So Tuesday morning, expect white.

The air will be from 10 to 15 degrees F colder than usual, and strong winds will create a wind chill of 15 - 20 degrees F.  

Expect your skin to turn blue.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

So much for the naysayers

The conspiracy theorists who sing in the Koch Brother's choir are fond of saying that alternative energy can never take the place of good old smog-producing oil and coal.

Denmark says otherwise.  On November 3, 2013, wind power production in Denmark exceeded the level of power consumption.  In other words, they made more power by wind alone than the country was using.

More information here:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Snow - ish.

Sudden clouds have covered the sky, and it is snowing - sort of.  For a few minutes.  My 35 year average for the first flurries is November 10, so this is just a bit early.

As more waves of cold air move over us, there is a chance of flurries Monday night into Tuesday.

Rant: They have eyes, but they do not see. They have ears, but they do not hear.

In yesterday’s paper, there was a ‘humorous’  article about November.  The author joked about how boring the world is, now that everything is ‘brown’.  That’s it.  Brown.  All I can say is that the writer should get off his butt once in a while, open his eyes, and actually SEE.
Looking out my window right now, I can see

This is not outside my window.
amber, amethyst, apple-green, apricot, aquamarine, auburn, auburn, azure, bay, beige, beryl,  bittersweet, blue-green, bottle-green, brick, bronze, bronze, bronze-green, buff, burnt sienna, cantaloupe, carrot, chartreuse, chestnut, chocolate, cinnamon, cocoa, coffee, copper, coral, drab, dun, dust, emerald, fawn, forest-green, fuscous, ginger, glaucous, grass-green, green, hazel, hazel, henna, jade, kelly, khaki, lime, Lincoln green, mahogany, malachite, moss-green, ochre, olive drab, olive-green, aquamarine, emerald, peach, pea-green, pine-green, red-yellow, russet, rust, sage, salmon, sea-green, sepia, snuff-colored, sorrel, spinach-green, tan, tangerine, tawny, terra-cotta, titian, toast, turquoise, umber, verdant, verdigris, viridian, yellow-green

That’s just for a start.  You can easily see more colors in winter – if you actually look – than in summer, when the trees drown out the more subtle colors with their green.
As the man supposedly said, “They have eyes, but they do not see.”

Another rant:  This time, ignorance.   The newspaper included an interview with a deaf man. (He was most emphatic about not being called “hearing-impaired”.  He resents the idea that he is in any way impaired.  He is deaf.)
He was complaining about how his guidance counselor in school treated him as if he were “deaf and dumb”, and told him not to apply to college. 
I guess even deaf people these days don’t know that “dumb” means “silent”.
Early athletes would lift the heaviest weights available – bells.  They would take the clapper off, so they were silent – dumb bells.
Deaf and dumb means no hearing, no speaking.  It does not mean stupid.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

When The World Is Ready For An Idea ...

When the world is ready for an idea, someone will provide it.  Or more usually, many people will provide it.  That is why there are patent lawyers and arguments about the first person to invent an airplane or invent the incandescent light bulb or the first person to invent just about anything.

Darwin gets all of the credit for the idea of evolution by natural selection, but each edition of his "Origin" included a larger list of people who had also proposed at least part of his idea.

The most important person that few people have heard of was Alfred Russel Wallace.  He not only came up with exactly the same idea, but by sending his outline to Darwin, he pushed Darwin into publishing his ideas sooner.  Darwin didn't want his ideas published until after his death, correctly predicting that many people who wouldn't read his book would nonetheless attack it. (Doesn't that sound like Fox News and the Murdoch publications?) 

What Darwin had that the others didn't were:
The leisure to devote his life to compiling mountains of data
The willingness to devote his life to compiling mountains of data
Important friends in the right places.

Here is an excellent animated story of Wallace, who was poor and unknown, courtesy of the New York Times..

The Animated Life of A. R. Wallace

This paper-puppet animation celebrates the life of Alfred Russel Wallace, who is co-credited with Charles Darwin for the theory of natural selection.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Surprised? NOT.

During my lifetime, the human population of this planet has tripled from 2.5 billion to 7+billion.  It is expected to reach 10 billion by the time I leave.  We are going to need a LOT more food.  Will it be there?  

Demand is expected to rise as much as 14 percent each decade, as the world population is projected to grow to 9.6 billion in 2050, from 7.2 billion today, according to the United Nations, and as many of those people in developing countries acquire the money to eat richer diets.

Scientists from a United Nations panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, conclude that rising temperatures will have some beneficial effects on crops in some places, but that globally they will make it harder for crops to thrive — perhaps reducing production over all by as much as 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century, compared with what it would be without climate change.