if i were to list 10 of bush's failures during the past two terms, it'd sound like a rant. i'm pretty sure i've ranted more than 10 times. but who's counting? sometimes i envy others' ability to write. take for example advice for the new president. link
the other day i saw a car get hit by a bicyclist. he was turning left at a left turn arrow. she was making a right on red and forced him to share the lane. i guess it made him unhappy to be put in such danger. so he shouted. and rode up real close to her fender. and slapped her hood with his hand a few times. then sped off. i was thinking: brave. novel too. but not smart.
yeah okay. so i joined the dark side and set up a facebook account. wee. i friended one friend from high school. then two of her friends wanted me to friend them. and they told two friends. etc. sheehs. some of these 'new' friends i haven't seen or thought about in decades. i barely remember names. anywho, whatever. though, they should call it face-from-the-past-book.
professional writers are very good at getting people to read their stuff. for obvious reasons. folks who use deductive reasoning also tend to be very good at what they do. unfortunately people tend to be good at one thing. it's the rare gem of an individual who's good at more than one. like my beautiful and talented wife. focus. recently i read an article by a famous journalist. they beautifully laid out fact after fact. then drew a conclusion completely not supported by said facts. in this case it was single moms cause crime. there's clearly a correlation between the two. populations that have a higher percentage of single parents tend to also have higher crime rates. true 'nuff. but are we sure which is cause and which is effect? heh. let me argue that leaves turning colors make the days get shorter. yeah. one wonders if this confusion of correlation and causality is because said journalist is an ignorant fuck. or whether it's done intentionally in order to sell their product. it's pretty repugnant either way. i suppose if our fine journalist offered some solutions we might get some insight. allow me. women should go on birth control until they get married. illegitimate pregnancies should be terminated. children should be removed from their homes after the death of either parent until the surviving spouse remarries. same for divorces. removed children can be either adopted or employed in sweat shops. or contracted as live in housekeepers. actually, given our esteemed writer's stated political bent this is more likely: divorce should just be illegal. women should have to stay in abusive relationships as long as there are minor children in the family. anywho, i'd say enough silliness. but there's a receptive audience out there to this kind of thinking. scary, eh?
the supreme court recently ruled that sometimes evidence from an illegal search can be used to prosecute crimes. on one hand it sounds like the supreme court just gutted the fourth amendment. on the other hand, i'm not a criminal. so what do i care? 'course someone could send child pornography to your spam box. and the cops could make an 'honest' mistake and illegally search your computer. based on a tip by the same someone. and poof! you're a registered sex offender for the rest of your life. good luck getting a good paying job. heh. on the other hand, we can put away the bad guys even if some clerk somewhere made a typing error. i think there was some sort of imaginary line vaguely defining right and wrong. that line's been erased. now we have to figure out how to draw a new one. most likely, in the same place.
i blog cause it makes me think. bush was going on and on about what a wonderful job he did as president. and absolutely wasn't a complete failure. that didn't make any sense to me at first. i was reminded about the old happy days argument between fonzie and richie. virgins don't lie! yes, i know i'm weird. anywho, i guess it makes sense. folks who wouldn't believe him won't change their position. but... if he didn't say it then folks who did believe him might change their position. i illustrate: you did a heckuva job mr bush. didn't you? silence. uh mr president? more silence. w?
the republican party was very different before watergate. that pleasant little footnote in history led to a bit of a changing of the guard. the two things that catch my attention are: religious conservatism to the point of fanaticism, and supply side economics. hopefully the passing of this administration will be marked by another changing of the guard. maybe we can finally get rid of this self destructive defend israel at all costs baloney. and/or the tax cuts for the rich help the poor nonsense. both preferably. i'm keen on this hope because i'm not the first to express it. nope. that honor goes to the republican extremists. my working theory is that this group is really good at identifying their own problems. and spinning them as the other guy's weakness. so if these nut jobs are predicting regime change after obama's first term... i'm pretty confident we're gonna see the good old gop get a bit of a makeover. which, depending on the particulars, might be a very good thing for this country.
why is the california budget in the toilet? i asked this very same question 5 years ago. link
. and ya know what? the answer's the same. we have too much debt and not enough income. arnold had just taken over then. with every intention of fixing everything. instead, he borrowed billions. and now we're in worse financial shape than before. lesson learned? i doubt it. we now have a president whose strategy for fixing the nation's over-debt problem is to borrow and spend more. sheehs. the argument is things will be worse if we don't. well. maybe in the short term. like say the next 4 years. but in the long run... i guess it really depends on what we get for our money. if it all goes to a few fat cats we're boned. if it all goes to pay one guy to dig a hole and another guy to fill it in we're boned. still. my ring finger's longer than my index finger. so i'm sure my family will be fine. though we as a nation might want to review our voting strategy.
people seem to think you can prove a scientific theory. you can't. you can only show that they're wrong. or put limits on the conditions under which it's right. like for example newtonian mechanics that are taught in high school physics is wrong. well, it's right until you enter into the realm of einstein's theory of relativity.
i recently read an article on global warming by a crazy loon. i know he was a crazy loon because the basis of his argument was that the other guy's wrong therefore he's right. actually i read two such articles. one from the left and one from the right. the left nut's position was that 90% of life on earth is gonna die. real soon. which is a position i find so absurd that i feel no urge whatsoever for rebuttal. however, one of the things the right nut stated was the soda water theory. ie the oceans are a giant fizzy beverage full of dissolved co2. when you leave such refreshment in the sun it goes flat. ie the co2 bubbles escape to the air. so the theory is, the co2 in the air came from the sun warming the oceans. let's embrace this in a scientific way. ie what prediction does it make that we can test? the obvious one is that the ocean is losing its fizz. google ocean acidity. every study i found says the oceans are becoming more acidic. ie they're getting more fizz. not less. the soda water theory sounds really good. and folks are happy to believe it because it supports what they want to believe. you just have to not look at the facts. and many many people don't. which i suppose is why it merits a post from me. now, it's entirely possible that atmospheric co2 is indeed coming from the oceans. but the soda water theory doesn't explain why. it's uh well flat.
i have baby hair. the nice vietnamese lady who last cut it told me so. in borken english. i'm not entirely sure if she meant that it's nice and soft. or really thin.
i want to say this post is not an attack on religion or practicers thereof. but i suppose it is. however, if that's you then i strongly suggest you keep practicing. cause it works for you. flame me for being an unwashed heathen in your own blog. don't send me email. i won't read it. anywho, the young adult son of friends of mine was recently involved in a bicycle car collision. i wanted to comment that i'm glad he's okay and not wrecked like the bike. i am. but the first N posts were all praise gods. which made my flesh crawl. apparently some people need to be thankful when something bad happens. i guess if they didn't express thanks and look on the bright side they'd spiral into depression paralysis and presumably death. weak. but i guess long ago the human race would have died out if we didn't have a way to pick ourselves up and keep going when uncle bob got eaten by a lion. which i suppose is a good thing. otherwise i probably wouldn't be here. anywho, if i paid god 1/8th of my earnings for his protection i'd expect him to keep my kid completely out of the accident. or maybe god has limits. like he's omniscient and omnipotent enough to keep the kid safe when the shit hits the fan. but not omnipotent or omnipotent enough to keep the kid out of the shit storm in the first place. i'll keep shopping for a better god.
interview question: what's the maximum value you can store in a one bit number? geek answer: signed or unsigned?
gw quiz #4
last question. i promise. where does carbon come from? this is kind of an ambiguous question. most of the carbon in the universe was created deep in stars that exploded and barfed their guts out into space. some of which found its way to planet earth. and your body. heh. yes, you're made of star vomit. anywho, carbon is created in the upper atmosphere by cosmic rays. carbon has two stable forms: c12 and c14. plants like to use c12 cause it takes less energy to move around. ice cores have tiny bubbles trapped in them. we can measure the ratio of atmospheric c12 to c14 at the time the ice froze. recently we are seeing more c12 in the air. one can reasonably conclude that the carbon in the air is coming from plants. specifically the destruction of plants. or stuff that used to be plants. burning fossil fuels is the common and obvious claim. however, it's not the only explanation. any kind of destruction of biomass will also do the trick. like say replacing forests with farmland. and oddly, erosion.
gw quiz #3
the next question in our how-to-spot-a-global-warming-whacko series: if most of the greenhouse effect comes from the oceans, why is atmospheric co2 such an issue? i like the dam analogy. if you've ever played in a creek as a kid you've tried to build a dam. they leak. but they hold back enough water that you get a bit of a pool. which gets deeper until it spills over the pile of rocks and sticks your imagination calls a dam. it's very similar with the greenhouse effect. ocean water slows down the escape of low frequency heat. so the heat accumulates. until it reaches temperatures that get over the dam. co2 just happens to absorb frequencies right at the top of our dam. effectively making it higher. here's a pretty picture of the earth's spectrum
taken from mars. the co2 absorption thing is a clearly visible bite taken right out of the middle of the earth's spectrum. it's also plain to see that the most co2 can do is to push the peak of the earth's spectrum from one side of its absorption range to the other. let me restate that. if something were to push earth's temperature peak up to the bottom of the co2 range, then co2 will push it up much further. like some 25 C in the worst worst case. which i think is where all the chicken-little-sky-is-falling stuff comes from. however, something else has to raise earth's temperature quite a bit before we get the big kick. which i think is where all the head-in-the-sand stuff comes from. any rise in earth's temperature will be amplified by atmospheric co2. ie radiation that shifts into the co2 range is shifted out the other side. hotter. and the more co2 the more efficient this amplification will be. 'course any cooling of the earth will also be likewise amplified. which is probably the origins of the more-extreme-weather claims. ie hotter hots and colder colds.
gw quiz #2
the next question in our how-to-spot-a-global-warming-whacko series: how exactly does the greenhouse effect keep a planet toasty warm instead of frozen solid? this is a bit of a trick question. first the stock answer which is acceptable. the atmosphere is more/less transparent to the light put out by the sun. the earth absorbs it. and re-radiates it at different much lower frequencies. the atmosphere is most definitely not transparent to this radiation. much of this radiation is absorbed as heat and/or redirected back to earth. some gets through. but not much. like a blanket. since the heat can't get out, it accumulates in/on the earth. and the temperature rises. and the black body spectrum of the earth shifts towards higher frequencies. until eventually enough of this spectrum is in frequencies not blocked by the atmosphere. at which point enough heat escapes immediately that the warming trend stops. now... i said this was a trick question. and i meant it. it's a nice tidy explanation. but if you look at the absorption spectrum of the atmosphere there are some holes. heh. both literally in the spectrum and in the above argument. this piece of the puzzle doesn't quite fit. also that thing we call weather, ie storms, are pretty efficient at moving heat from the surface to higher parts of the atmosphere where it's much easier for it to radiate away. hrm. now look at the absorption spectrum of water. ooo. water is transparent to sunlight and opaque to pretty much everything else. ah! it's the oceans that produce the bulk of earth's greenhouse effect. not the atmosphere.
gw quiz #1
if the earth were an ideal black body with no atmosphere what would its surface temperature be? this is a pretty good first question to see if someone has a clue about the basic science involved in any climate change discussion. i wouldn't require a numerical answer. and if given one i'd want to see the work. regurgitating facts does not equal comprehension. anywho, the answer you want to hear goes something like this. the sun's spectrum is a nearly ideal black body. all that radiation propagates away from the sun in a spherical shell. some tiny fraction of that energy hits the earth. in equilibrium, the earth would have to radiate that energy away. and from that we can calculate the temperature of the earth. well, this hypothetical earth.
the details: the power radiated by the sun (and the earth) is proportional to its surface area and its temperature^4. ie E = &sigma 4 &pi R^2 T^4. simple geometry gives us the fraction of the sun's energy that hits the earth. ie the cross sectional area of the earth divided by the area of a sphere with radius equal to the sun-earth distance. Eearth / Esun = &pi Rearth^2 / ( 4 &pi D^2 ). doing a little algebra we get: Tearth = Tsun sqrt( Rsun / 2D ). plugging in the numbers you get: Tearth = 5C = 40F. which sound pretty close except...
extra credit. the earth isn't a perfect black body. some fraction of the sun's energy isn't absorbed. it's immediately reflected back out into space. kinda like a mirror. a bad mirror. this is called the earth's albedo. and it's value is about 0.39. redoing the above to account for albedo we find Tearth = Tsun sqrt( Rsun / 2D ) ( 1 - albedo )^0.25. plugging in the new numbers and earth's temperature plummets to a chilly -28C = -19 F. which can't possibly be correct, can it? google puts it around 14C = 57F
there are many many people hyping all sides of the man-v-environment issue. some quite articulately. however, one very valid complaint is that if one starts probing their positions, they can't defend them. that doesn't mean the positions are indefensible. the herald might be right. he just can't prove it. in the worst cases he can't even cite someone who can. and to further the fun, a successful tactic is to inject noise and misinformation into the other guy's position. wee! so what's a person to do? most people don't have the necessary math/science background to even follow some of the arguments being made. if that's you you'll have to pick yourself a champion. preferably one who knows what the hell they're talking about. the trick is to pick the right champion. tomorrow i'll start a series of questions you can use to separate the cheat from the whaff.
humans are easily excitable creatures. seemingly intelligent rational people can suddenly and unexpectedly reveal extreme and somewhat silly positions. often even to the point of being stupefyingly self destructive. the range of topics that can provoke such reactions is bewildering. abortion, religion, politics, taxes, global warming. timing also seems to be a factor. 50 years ago communism brought out the saber rattlers. 200 years ago it was witchcraft. anywho. one step in from the extremists are the opportunists. we're all gonna die unless you buy my carbon credits. they're gonna take away your oil and make you scratch dirt like a stinking hippy unless you vote for tax cuts for the rich. i suppose this sort of thing must be a beneficial trait. otherwise such susceptibility would have been selected away long ago. maybe things went something like this: we should cook this pig before we eat it. bah! eat it raw. just like everything else. the population separates into two groups. one dies. the other lives. and the human race continues. the issue of man's long term effect on the environment is a bit different. cause there's the possibility that doing nothing will kill us all. and there's the possibility that doing too much will be just as bad. what's a middle of the roader to do?
housing prices haven't fallen much in the bay area. thank the fags. i explain. gay people generally don't have children. and as any parent knows children suck up enormous amounts of time and resources. which we loving parents give gladly. however, it certainly cuts into our productivity at work. homos have no such encumbrance. this area has more adults supporting fewer children. so when the economy gets a bit rough we've got some margin to absorb the shock. ie a greater portion of our population can put in the overtime that it takes to keep the local economy afloat. i'd like to thank the rest of the nation for being a bunch of homophobic asstards. thanks for chasing the gays out of their neighborhood and into mine.
recently i read about an interesting individual. he's a self proclaimed denier of man made global warming. seemingly incongruously, he's a total green advocate. we should do the things the green nut jobs say. like renewable energy, recycle, greenify buildings, etc. but we shouldn't do these things for the reasons spewed by the whacko nutjobs. we should make these changes simply because they are cheaper than the status quo. now there's a skeptic position i can agree with.
i'm wondering if the current economic woes and denial about any human impact on the planet are related. i explain. at the root of the financial meltdown we have people's inability to accurately evaluate the sum total of all those little fees and interest charges over the course of many years. they're tiny. hardly nothing. but over time they add up. in aggregate they make the difference between financial security and financial ruin. in aesop fable terms the ants saved all summer and got through the harsh winter. whereas the grasshopper sang and played and didn't. in terms of the planet, most of what humans do is pretty negligible. however, just like the credit card fees, it adds up. and over several lifetimes has become quite significant. anywho. just thinking.
i've always liked the marines. probably cause they're such serious badasses. knowledge gained from firsthand experience on the wrestling mat. anywho, i was thinking about their theme song. specifically the line about the shores of tripoli which refer to the first american military operations on foreign soil. jefferson was tired of paying tribute to pirates. deducing rightly that it was self destructive behavior and would encourage more attacks on american ships. anywho, you can google all about it. i'm thinking the song needs to be brought up to date. as g sings it: from the halls of mon-teh-zoo-MAH-ha to the shores of somali.
one argument against human made global warming is that the effect of humans is so small it gets lost in the much larger but random natural weather effects. hrm. consider flashlights. there are electrons in the wires that are free to move around. and they do. they zip around bumping into things. then they take off in a different direction. now, push the button and the light lights up. closing the circuit creates an electric field in the wire. this field gives the electrons a drift velocity towards the plus end of the battery. it's pretty tiny compared to the thermal brownian motion velocity. if you apply the above argument you'd predict that the light won't light and we'd all live in darkness. try it. see the light?
okay so the phone gag from two days ago was an attempt at humor. i blatantly stole the joke from mary with no accreditation whatsoever. maybe she shouldn't have planted the lingerie in my car.
has this ever happened to you? the beautiful and talented alisa walks into my office holding a lacy black slinky and demands to know what it was doing in the back of her car. i had absolutely no explanation. i swear i had never seen the thing before in my life. i had to think fast. i was the last person to drive her car. we were on the way home from tahoe. carpooling with her dad. tradition demands we stop at joe and mary's. nick was there. mary was trying to figure out how to get him home on the train. he is a minor with no id. amtrak wouldn't take him unless someone did paperwork for him at both drop off and pick up. nick's home was on the way to our house. more/less. alisa wanted to leave and get started cooking for christmas eve dinner. the boys wanted to stay and play with mira and lyra. well, specifically mira and lyra's wii. anywho, alisa nick and grandpa headed for home. i stayed (napped) with the boys for a few more hours. then we too left for home. hrm.
the other day my cell phone told me about a missed call. i checked to see who it was from. low battery, it said. i don't know who this person is. but they call me a lot. from different numbers. i never seem to be able to call them back cause my carrier chooses that particular moment to drop me. sigh. what to do. what to do. so if you're reading this, low battery, keep calling. we'll hook up eventually.
i must be getting old. in the past i've never liked christmas. but really didn't know why. i think part of it was because setting up the decorations was a lot of work. i never really appreciated anyone else's efforts so i assume no one appreciates ours. then, and here's the kicker, a few weeks later, you have to put all that crap away. seems like a whole lot of work to get right back where you started from. sigh. this year seems to be a bit different. not sure why. maybe in 43 more years i'll figure it out. anywho, we're going out of town soon so we're taking things down a bit earlier than usual. somehow this year, it's making me happy. i'd hate to think i'm just inwardly celebrating the end of my least favorite holiday. call me scrooge.
i figured it out. it took a while. but i finally did it. i've traced the cause of the current economic crisis to its roots. yes, the culprit for the current meltdown is none other than the checkout lady at the grocery store. this epiphany came to me while i was fetching milk and potatoes for dinner. she rang up my groceries and circled a number on the receipt. you saved $6.74, she says. i made the standard quip, oh i saved money by spending it. and pow! it hits me. go to the bank. the cashier says you saved $674. you say, give it to me. and she does. would you like $10s or $20s? try that one with the grocery clerk. did you find everything okay? yes. you saved $6.74. oh did i? give it to me. huh? you are bound to cause some serious confusion. explain how savings work at the bank. then demand your money. get the manager. she said i saved $6.74. i want it. if i saved it, it's mine. give it to me. every penny. either that or stop telling me i saved money. or were you using some other definition of saving? and there we go. one word. two definitions. marketing has convinced us we can save money by spending it. the distinction between the two kinds of saving gets really intentionally lost. and the confusion diffuses elsewhere. like say the government. it needs to save money to pay off its debts. and the best way to save money is to spend it. it all makes sense. unfortunately.
my company had a mandatory shutdown for two weeks over christmas. was explained as some accounting thing. like they don't have to pay money /in/ to a vacation fund when folks are taking money /out/ of the vacation fund. makes the balance sheet look just a little better. i swear i have no idea why any company would want to do that. heh. anywho. i'm thinking next year they should schedule the shutdown so it doesn't coincide with the kids' break. it would be really nice to spend some time with the beautiful and talented alisa.
reusing is way gooder than recycling. anyone want some socks? i got lots. actually, christmas was pretty good. the beautiful and talented alisa got a sweater from her sister in which she looks HOT! she thinks it makes her look fat. but sheehs. she has some clothes that are uh uncomplimentary. but this tain't none of em. anywho, i am such a cat. drew and julie found some chocolate ice cream shell i can eat. yeah, you try to find some that doesn't have corn syrup. it was a nice sweet gift. but the best part is they wrapped it up in a red velvet bag. a way cool red velvet bag with gold tassley tie (not draw) strings. it's the perfect thing for my dice. yeah yeah chocolate. check out this bag! i am such a geek. i also got a video card for my mac. so now i can play pc games on it at reasonable frame rates. in fact i can play ddo with two characters at once and play both simultaneously at 60 fps most of the time. that's a trick my pc can't do. i am SUCH a geek. i also got a drill press. thanks joe and mary! i used it before christmas to countersink some screw holes. i made a stocking rod so we can hang them in front of the fire. my mother got my wife a completely impractical purse hanger. like for restaurants. like right. but it turns out they make pretty nice stocking hooks. nice, but i got her diamond earrings. apparently, they've been on the wish list for 16 years. and i've been utterly clueless about it for 15.