Monday, January 26, 2015

Going Mad: Guess what caused the blizzard

Climate activist Bill McKibben, who was key organizer of the NYC climate march in September 2014, wasted no time in blaming the massive blizzard bearing down on the Northeast on ‘global warming.’ McKibben tweeted out on Monday:
McKibben: ’5 0f 10 worst blizzards in NYC in last ten years, 0.2% chance that’s chance. Climate change at work’
Well, now we know that they're making all this up. They're just making it up.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was very clear in its predictions: See: In 2001, the IPCC predicted milder winters and less snow. Experts are hoping no one remembers – UN IPCC 2001: ‘Milder winter temperatures will decrease heavy snowstorms’
There's more:
UN IPCC Lead Author Michael Oppenheimer was also very clear in his predictions:  See: NYT in 2000 quoted ‘Oppenheimer on the pathetic spectacle of the unused sled in his stairwell, symbol of a warming world: ‘I bought a sled in ’96 for my daughter,’ said Oppenheimer, a scientist at the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund. ‘It’s been sitting in the stairwell, and hasn’t been used. I used to go sledding all the time. It’s one of my most vivid and pleasant memories as a kid, hauling the sled out to Cunningham Park in Queens.’
Global warming at Middlebury.
That's just very sad.

McKibben is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College. It doesn't say "distinguished" scholar in resident, but we'll give it to him.

Read more here and bundle up.

It's about to get very quiet

We're bracing for a blizzard here in southern New England. The first flakes are starting to fall. Soon it will be very quiet.

There's a reason for that.
"When snow falls, it does absorb some of the soundwaves," says Bernadette Woods Placky, a meteorologist and director of Climate Central's Climate Matters program. As snowflakes stack up, there is more space left between them, compared to the surface of liquids like water. With all that space, sound is unable to bounce off snow as easily as it would off water.
And, too, fewer people outside and on the road. Many animals, such as birds, tend to shelter.

Here's a bit more of what's going on out there:
Snowflakes are getting in the way of the soundwaves, scattering them and meaning that less of the sound reaches you. Low, bass-y frequencies (booms) are almost unaffected by snowfall, whereas high, treble-y frequencies (hisses) are scattered a little more but still not enough to credit the beautiful snowy stillness to.
Second, as the Inuit populations of the Arctic know very well, snow is a great insulator , and its exterior surface has many small holes that air can get inside. When sound bounces off snow, then, it gets absorbed before reaching you, reducing both the volume and reverberation.

Third, sound tends to curve towards colder air because cold air is denser than warm air and sound travels more slowly through denser materials. When snow is falling, you usually have warmer air near the surface and cold air above. This makes sound curve up and away into the atmosphere and eventually out to space without ever being heard of again.
Perhaps this is why we like the snow. It quiets our noisy world.

Morning Rush: Spies, likes, and more

Here and there on the Web this Monday, January 26, 2015:

Is that Putin?
How to spot a spy 

Get a slow start this morning

Can we turn back aging? 

How to create an urban legend

We worry, Barack Hussein shrugs

Use Google to check your grammar

Reading lists, then and now 

The connections in a brain.
The difference in autistic brains

Global warming strikes Great Lakes

Global warming strikes New York

Drones will extract your DNA

Well, they do look like brains

You can't hack your own car

With Barack, everything's a lie

Science: how to unboil an egg

Are you saying these words wrong?

They're indoctrinating our children 

Resumes for the long-term unemployed

Don't send your kid to Arizona State

How To: improve your computer monitor

Today's Word: a morally unrestrained person

Hahaha: Doc uses same ultrasound for everyone

You need an infrared sensor:

John Burroughs: blame

"A man can fail many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else."

Sunday, January 25, 2015

One happy cop

Vespers: Going Home

This is Sissel singing "Going Home."

Sissel Kyrkjebø (b. 1969), also simply known as Sissel, is a Norwegian soprano. She is considered one of the world's top crossover sopranos. Sissel's musical style runs the gamut from pop recordings and folk songs, to classical vocals and operatic arias.

This piece was composed by William Arms Fisher (1861 – 1948), an American composer, music historian and writer. He studied under Antonín Dvořák, a Czech composer, at the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York City.

In an 1893 interview, Dvořák challenged American composers to make better use of the "negro melodies of America," feeling that they were needed as the basis for "any serious and original school of composition" in America.

Antonín Dvořák's New World Symphony was played at Carnegie Hall on December 16, 1893. Later Fisher wrote a text to the cor anglais tune in the second movement, entitled "Goin' Home," which has been mistaken for a Negro spiritual.

Listen to that movement:

Here are the lyrics:

Going home, going home
I'm jus' going home
Quiet like, some still day
I'm jus' going home

It's not far, yes close by
Through an open door
Work all done, care laid by
Going to fear no more

Mother's there 'specting me
Father's waiting, too
Lots of folk gathered there
All the friends I knew

All the friends I knew

I'm going home

Nothing lost, all's gain
No more fret nor pain
No more stumbling on the way
No more longing for the day
Going to roam no more

Morning star lights the way
Restless dream all done
Shadows gone, break of day
Real life yes begun

There's no break, aint no end
Jus' a livin' on
Wide awake with a smile
Going on and on

Going home, going home
I'm jus' going home
It's not far, yes close by
Through an open door
I'm jus' going home

Going home, going home

Be prepared to duck

A mountain-size asteroid will zoom past Earth on Monday (Jan. 26), marking the closest pass by such a large space rock until 2027.

Asteroid 2004 BL86, which is about 1,800 feet (550 meters) wide, will come within 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) of our planet Monday — about three times the distance between Earth and the moon. While this flyby poses no threat to Earth, it does present a rare opportunity to get a good look at a near-Earth asteroid, NASA officials say.
This asteroid is also interesting because you might be able to see it with strong binoculars or backyard telescopes. That's a rare opportunity for most of us.

I'll tell you what's rare: finding my hard hat in my basement. It's there somewhere.

Here's what the asteroid will look like:

"Asteroids are something special," says Don Yeomans, the recently retired manager of NASA's Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Not only did asteroids provide Earth with the building blocks of life and much of its water, but in the future, they will become valuable resources for mineral ores and other vital natural resources. They will also become the fueling stops for humanity as we continue to explore our solar system. There is something about asteroids that makes me want to look up."

I'll tell you why he retired: what's the use in working if we're all going up in flames tomorrow?

My hope is from him

From The Lectionary:

Psalm 62:5-12
62:5 For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.

62:6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

62:7 On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

62:8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

62:9 Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.

62:10 Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.

62:11 Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God,

62:12 and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: friends

"I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new."

Friday, January 23, 2015

Casual Friday: White Rabbit

Just two working days til Monday!

"The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard." ~ Steven Wright

Everybody say ohmmm

I've gotten into meditation in several venues, most recently in tai chi classes, where it's central to what we do. I'm hardly good at it.

If I were, I might realize some of these benefits:
1. I'll live longer. There are these things called telomeres that are on the end of your DNA. Longer telomeres have a direct correlation with living longer (in terms of if you're dying of natural causes and not a freak accident or strange illness). Research has shown that people who meditate on a long-term basis have longer telomeres than people who do not meditate.
2. I'll  get rid of my startle response. When a loud bang happens, every one has a startle response. Even trained professionals, like police officers, will have a millisecond blink in response to a loud noise like the shot of a gun. With long term meditation, you can decrease and eventually stop your startle response.

3. I'll be less anxious. A study showed incredible decrease in anxiety when people tried meditating for eight weeks.

4. I won't hurt so much. A study showed that meditation could reduce pain by 40% and reduce your perception of the pain by 57%.

5. I'll sleep better. A study with people suffering from insomnia showed that meditation helped to improve all aspects of sleep and depression.

6. I'll strengthen my immune system. Immunity was increased in recovering cancer patients that practiced meditation.
Guess I better figure it out.

Morning Rush: Your robot, your time, and more

Here and there on the Web this Friday, January 23, 2015:

Take the sea train.
Where subway cars go to die

Do we really need gluten-free?

Here comes your personal robot

How to handle passive aggressives

Take control of your time

At look at your next fitness tracker

Think your health info is private?  

Dude, check my fake engine noise 

Think iron.
From dying stars come red barns

Hey Barack, don't mess with Mossad

You can catch cold from being cold

Yes, the IRS wants to tax these

The benefits of a lunch hour walk

Secrets of a top job networker

Our government masters fly in luxury

Anti-vaccine nuts are making us sick

Just breathe to calm yourself 

Obama slams stay at home moms

Don't send your kid to Brandeis

Today's Word: sycophant; ingratiating person

Hahaha: The past is rapidly expanding

Let's fight that fire!

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: shut up

"My great-grandfather used to say to his wife, my great-grandmother, who in turn told her daughter, my grandmother, who repeated it to her daughter, my mother, who used to remind her daughter, my own sister, that to talk well and eloquently was a very great art, but that an equally great one was to know the right moment to stop."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

It's still bad all over

Run for your lives!
Something tells me it's for real this time.
~ The Drudge Report

Maybe the aliens really are landing

What do you see?
A child lying in bed watches the pattern of a car's headlights play on the wall and concludes that it's a spaceship arriving in the backyard.

Before you chuckle, consider how adults see patterns where there are none.
Take the gambler’s fallacy, which states—erroneously—that in a sequence of random events, past outcomes will affect future outcomes. A player imagines he sees flickers of cosmic logic in the heads-tails-tails pattern of successive coin flips; he places his bets accordingly and loses a bundle of cash. Or a trail of tea leaves in the vague shape of a skull causes a woman to cancel her social engagements and spend the rest of the day in bed. Or someone pieces together random news clippings and decides that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were an inside job.
Seeing erroneous patterns is known as apophenia. The concept recently came up in an unusual context, the news that most cancers are random and not caused by things we can control.
Some of these genetic misprints are caused by outside agents, chemical or biological, especially in parts of the body — the skin, the lungs and the digestive tract — most exposed to the ravages of the world. But millions every second occur purely by chance — random, spontaneous glitches that may be the most pervasive carcinogen of all.
It’s a truth that grates against our deepest nature. That was clear earlier this month when a paper in Science on the prominent role of “bad luck” and cancer caused an outbreak of despair, outrage and, ultimately, disbelief.
We want control, but we must live with uncertainty, and we know we can, because we do every day. We awoke this morning to a unexpected and unpredicted dusting of snow. Do you think the weather is certain? Yet it governs our days. And we go about our affairs with something to talk about even if we can't do anything about it.

The multicultural madness

"For the useful idiot, multiculturalism is supposedly aimed at ecumenicalism and hopes to diminish difference by inclusiveness and non-judgmentalism.

"The likes of James Clapper and John Brennan assure us of absurdities such as the Muslim Brotherhood being a largely secular organization or jihad as little more than a personal religious journey. Terrorism is reduced to man-caused violence and the effort to combat it is little more than an “overseas contingency operation.” The head of NASA in surreal fashion boasts that one of his primary missions for the hallowed agency is to promote appreciation of Muslim science and accomplishments through outreach to Islam. The president blames an obscure film-maker for causing the deaths of Americans in Benghazi (when in reality, it was a preplanned Al-Qaeda affiliate hit) — and then Obama makes it a two-fer: he can both ignore the politically incorrect task of faulting radical Islam and score politically correct points by chastising a supposedly right-wing bigot for a crime he did not foster.

"So multiculturalism is the twin of appeasement. Once Americans and Europeans declare all cultures as equal, those hostile to the West should logically desist from their aggression, in gratitude to the good will and introspection of liberal Westerners. Apologizing for the Bush war on terror, promising to close down Guantanamo, deriding the war in Iraq, reminding the world of the president’s Islamic family roots — all that is supposed to persuade the Hasans, Tsarnaevs, and Kouachis in the West that we see no differences between their cultural pedigrees and the Western paradigm they have chosen to emigrate to and at least superficially embrace. Thus the violence should cease."

Morning Rush: toilets, Ruskies, and more

Here and there on the Web this Thursday, January 22, 2015:

Water bounces right off.
Here come self-cleaning toilets 

How to really take a nap

How to really deliver a baby

Can you really die of old age?

We don't need the State of the Union

He's just making it up anyway

And it's just lies up to the wazoo

Calculate your portfolio's earnings 

NATO's eye in the sky.
Watching, waiting for the Ruskies

I'm thinking you need a gay hookup up

It's hot, here take my wallet

Stack new habits on top of old ones

Is Barack Hussein from Iran?

The only soup recipe you'll ever need

How stupid are your passwords? 

Maybe fish aren't so dangerous

Today's Word: urban myth, red herring

Hahaha: Man gets trapped in sentence

Let's build a Porsche 911:

Haddon W. Robinson: worry

"What worries you masters you."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

It's bad all over

Stuff you're gonna need.
I'm stock up, just in case.
~ The Drudge Report

The art of gravity glue

Our little corner of southern New England is where the glacier stopped and dumped its load, and so we have stones everywhere.

You can't think up anything to do with stones that someone around here hasn't tried. A few of us have even tried balancing stones on top of each other, and some have gotten pretty good at it.

I haven't. I can do a pretty good stone wall, but I can't stack more than two or three single stones on other single stones.

Michael Grab can. He lives, appropriately, Boulder, Colorado. Watch him here:

He explains how he does it:
“The most fundamental element of balancing in a physical sense is finding some kind of “tripod” for the rock to stand on. Every rock is covered in a variety of tiny to large indentations that can act as a tripod for the rock to stand upright, or in most orientations you can think of with other rocks. By paying close attention to the feeling of the rocks, you will start to feel even the smallest clicks as the notches of the rocks in contact are moving over one another. In the finer point balances, these clicks can be felt on a scale smaller than millimeters. Some point balances will give the illusion of weightlessness as the rocks look to be barely touching."
Well, okay, maybe so. But there's also this:
 "Parallel to the physical element of finding tripods, the most fundamental non-physical element is harder to explain through words. In a nutshell, I am referring to meditation, or finding a zero point or silence within yourself. Some balances can apply significant pressure on your mind and your patience. The challenge is overcoming any doubt that may arise.” 
His art is so extraordinary that he travels the world demonstrating and teaching it. He's got a website devoted to what he labels "gravity glue." And you can watch many more videos here.

What's a metaphor?

Our speech is littered with metaphors, and we seldom recognize how they influence our thinking.

We use conceptual metaphors to understand one idea in terms of another. An oft-used example is "argument is war."

In their book Metaphors We live By, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson show that this metaphor leads us to:
Your claims are indefensible.
He attacked every weak point in my argument.
His criticisms were right on target.
I demolished his argument.
I've never won an argument with him.
You disagree? Okay, shoot!
If you use that strategy, he'll wipe you out.
He shot down all of my arguments.
Another example: time is money.
You're wasting my time.
This gadget will save you hours. I don't have the time to give you.
How do you spend your time these days? That flat tire cost me an hour.
I've invested a lot of time in her.
1 don't have enough time to spare for that.You're running out of time.
You need to budget your time.
Put aside aside some time for ping pong.
Is that worth your while?
Do you have much time left?
He's living on I borrowed time.
You don't use your time, profitably.
I lost a lot of time when I got sick.
Thank you for your time.
Can you think of an example? Listen for them. Look to see how they affect your thinking.

Morning Rush: Coffee, rubber bands, and more

Here and there on the Web this Wednesday, January 21, 2015:

Drink coffee, live forever, be happy

And it's coffee vs melanoma 

Just stand up to drink it

What admissions committees think

Obamacare is slowly unraveling

A brief history of the rubber band

Understanding the onset of diabetes

Trick yourself into saving more 

How we're ignoring the environment

Here's what Obama cost you last year

And don't forget your electric bill

Your computer and phone held hostage

Or what if they steal your laptop?

Today's Word: meandering slowly, wandering aimlessly

Hahaha: Biden arrives early to set up fog machine

How to parallel park:

Celia Thaxter: gratitude

"There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ants have a lot on their minds

Talk amongst yourselves.
Edward O. Wilson, a professor at Harvard, on their chats:
"They communicate by chemical smell and taste and they can communicate in a complex manner in this way. I and others found out that ants are communicating by pheromones and that actually they have, according to species, ten to 20 substances that they use to smell and taste in organizing their society. With those ten to 20 pheromones they use they can vary meaning greatly by how much of the pheromone they release. Sometimes they release it only in billionths of a gram to send a signal. By the context, I mean where it's released and in what social situation gives another meaning, and in combinations, so it's almost like sentences being formed."
"An ant that's leaving the nest and is alarmed can release different concentrations that communicate what we would call words: pay attention, pay attention, attention, attention; come in this direction; a problem, a problem; a situation; opportunity; come. And then when it gets to a high concentration, if it's one of their alarm substances it is attack, attack, attack, anything that moves that does not have the colony smell."
Do they look up at me digging in the garden and wonder why I'm intruding?

It's a conundrum

The word conundrum is defined as a complex problem that is often puzzling or confusing. Here are six conundrums of our contemporary United States of America:
1. America is capitalist and greedy – yet almost half of the population is subsidized.
2. Half of the population is subsidized – yet they think they are victims.
3. They think they are victims – yet their representatives run the government.
4. Their representatives run the government – yet the poor keep getting poorer.
5. The poor keep getting poorer – yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.
6. They have things that people in other countries only dream about – yet politicians claim they want America to become more like those other countries.

Morning Rush: 3D buildings, a popular movie, and more

Here and there on the Web this Tuesday, January 20, 2015:

You could do this in your family room.
World's first 3D printed villa

Why people like American Sniper

A mummy reveals ancient scripture

An optimistic prediction on cancer 

The spooks are spying on spooks

And the cops are spying on you

The man who invented instant replay

Did you survive Blue Monday? 

Do it yourself.
You can build your own house

The State of the Union is irrelevant

Maybe you should walk in a group

Look who's getting rich

Why airline food tastes weird

You need a drone-hunting drone

Why 70s kids should all be dead 
Really want her for attorney general?

How To: make your home network faster

Today's Word: having inspiration; inspired

Hahaha: Chicago introduces gun-sharing stations

How Airbus builds its planes:

Henry David Thoreau: self-regard

"What a man thinks of himself, that is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate."