Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wrap your head around this

NASA explains: 
From planet Earth, we see this strongly distorted pair of galaxies, cataloged as Arp 81, as they were only about 100 million years after their close encounter.

The havoc wreaked by their mutual gravitational interaction during the encounter is detailed in this color composite showing twisted streams of gas and dust, a chaos of massive star formation, and a tidal tail stretching for 200 thousand light-years or so as it sweeps behind the cosmic wreckage. 
Still with us?
Also known as NGC 6622 (left) and NGC 6621, the galaxies are roughly equal in size but are destined to merge into one large galaxy in the distant future, making repeated approaches until they finally coalesce. Located in the constellation Draco, the galaxies are 280 million light-years away. Even more distant background galaxies can be spotted in the sharp, reprocessed, image from Hubble Legacy Archive data.
Please don't go around telling people you understand things.

But will it split an infinitive?

It's time to think about firewood for next winter, and I've just discovered a whole new kind of splitter.

It's called the Leveraxe, and it was designed by a company in Finland. I suppose they could use it to defend themselves when the Ruskies invade.

As you can see from the picture, the thing is lopsided, and that's the whole point. What happens is that when it strikes the wood this lopsidedness causes it to go sideways, which has the effect of opening up the split.

Here's how the company explains it:
Upon hitting the top of the log and penetrating it slightly, the leading edge of the axe head begins to slow down. Where the axe blade widens sharply it stops the axe’s penetration. However, the mass of the axe head still has kinetic energy and the off line center of gravity forces it to rotate eccentrically down towards the wood. This rotational movement causes the leading edge, or sharp edge of the blade to turn in a lever action, forcing a split with all the force of the kinetic energy of the axe multiplied by the leverage of the axehead. The widening blade edge also has a benefit in that it helps to prevent the axe from penetrating into the wood and getting stuck there as is often the case with traditional axes.
Of course I have to have one of these babies to add to my collection of things that I swing at wood. Watch this video:

See how it works?

Now watch this dude:

I like those boots. I also see that I'll need a tire. Maybe I can take one off the Subaru. I'm not going anywhere anyway.

Morning rush

Here and there on the Web this Thursday, April 24, 2014:

Here's a desk for you and your cat

The peculiar traits of rich people 

Jerk of the Day: David Gregory

The doctor will text you now

How not to invest 

The Bonnie and Clyde of the art world
Mistakes we make on Linked In

More voters in Alabama than residents 

Why affirmative action no longer works

Why not build and and fly your own airplane?

Extreme weather events are less common

Facebook knows everything about you

Today's Word: sanctimonious, officious, hypocritical

How to live gluten free

They've found gravitational waves from the Big Bang:

George Washington: friendship

"Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's bad all over

You suspected, right?
I knew it would come to this.
~ The Drudge Report
I tried to warn you.

Our leaders at work

Let's peek inside the Beltway to see how our taxes are doing.

At The IRS: More than 2,800 workers got bonuses despite facing a disciplinary action in the previous year, including 1,150 who owed back taxes, said a report by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. The bonuses were awarded from October 2010 through December 2012.

At Homeland Security: The Department of Homeland Security announced that it is seeking an ammunition dealer who can provide 25 million shotgun rounds to the agency over a five year period, adding to its already enormous arsenal of ammo.

In the Senate: Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader who called President Bush a “loser” and a “liar,” declared former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan a “political hack” and asserted that all Obamacare horror stories are “untrue,” has now called Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters “domestic terrorists.”

At the Energy Department: The U.S. Energy Department unveiled a plan for up to $4 billion in loan aid for renewable energy companies to help rejuvenate a program that faced harsh political attacks over past failures of federally subsidized projects. "We're back in business," Peter Davidson, executive director of the department's loan programs office, told Reuters. 

At Health and "Human" Services: Many of those who signed up for Obamacare insurance policies on the exchanges have discovered that they cannot get an appointment with a doctor. So they are going back to the free clinics they frequented before Obamacare made a hash of the medical system. The CBS affiliate in San Francisco is calling it "medical homelessness."

At the State Department:  The Benghazi attack could have been prevented if US hadn't 'switched sides in the War on Terror' and allowed $500 MILLION of weapons to reach al-Qaeda militants, a  damning report reveals.

At Defense: The fact that Putin would order troops into Crimea to “keep the peace” reflects how very much emboldened his regime has become during Obama’s years in the White House. Obama’s “disarming of America over the past five years limit our options in Ukraine today,” the senior GOP member of the Senate Armed Services Committee said. “President Obama's attempt to seek peace through apologetic diplomacy while defunding and dismantling our military has failed. Today our enemies don't fear us and our allies no longer respect us.”

Oh well. Everybody just take a deep breath. We still have the Bureau of Land Management.

Oh wait ...

Remind me who the bad guys are

(Doug Ross via American Digest)

Morning rush

Here and there on the Web this Wednesday, April 23, 2014:

Pray for sun.
The quest to circle the globe on solar

They're stopping heart disease in mice

Now they're attacking the Boy Scouts

Harry Reid issues the threat

New drugs for migraines

Say Happy Birthday to Shakespeare

Look at how you dress for church

This astronaut is stalking asteroids

Don't get gouged by your bank

Your computer is ruining your health

What sales taxes do to Amazon

Today's Word: touchable, obvious

Popeyes Chicken reaching out to abandoned bunnies

Gorillas get their own Easter egg hunt:

Karl Menninger: reality

"Set up as an ideal the facing of reality as honestly and as cheerfully as possible."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's for the good of you little people

"I'm doing okay, thanks."
"Why do our well-meaning elites so often worry about humanity in the abstract rather than the real effects of their cosmic ideologies on the majority? The dream of universal health coverage trumped the nightmare of millions of lives disrupted by the implementation of it. Noble lies, with emphatics like 'Period!' were necessary to sell something that would hurt precisely those who were told that this was going to be good for them.

"A myriad of green mandates has led to California’s having the highest-priced gasoline and electricity in the continental United States, a fact that delights utopians in San Francisco and in the long run might help the rest of us, but right now ensures that the poor of the state’s vast, hot interior can scarcely afford to cool their homes or drive to work. Fresno on August 1, after all, is a bit warmer than Berkeley or Menlo Park.

"In a personal sense, those who embrace progressive ideas expect to be excused from the ramifications of their schemes. For the elite who send their kids to prep schools and private academies, public charter schools for the poor are bad, given that they undermine the dream of progressive, union-run education that has turned into a nightmare for those forced to enroll in it.

"Thomas Friedman recently wrote of the upside to Vladimir Putin’s possible radical cutoff of natural gas to the former Soviet republics and Eastern Europe. Friedman nearly rejoices that Putin has inadvertently helped the green cause. Supposedly, once Putin’s erstwhile gas buyers grasp that Russia proves an unreliable supplier, they will then be forced to redouble their efforts at wind, solar, and renewable energy. Thus, we will all be better off. 'If I’m actually rooting for Putin to go ahead and shut off the gas,” Friedman asks, “does that make me a bad guy?'

"I am afraid it does. At least in the here and now."

Time for some head wrapping

The future.
You can just ignore all the people proclaiming limits. Limits to growth, limits to that. Or "peak oil," or "peak that."

It ain't so.

Think about sand. It's pretty basic stuff. I have a nice collection of sand. You've probably seen it: I keep it on beaches around the world.

That's an old joke, but I'm an old guy.

The reason you care about sand is what you're doing right now: reading something on a computer screen powered by silicon chips made out of ... sand. It's not the sand that matters. It's the human ingenuity married to it.

Now, suppose you'd like to have:
  • a cellphone that stays charged for more than a week and recharges in just 15 minutes
  • a cellphone as thin as a piece of paper and foldable enough to slip into a pocket
  • a gadget implanted in you that could read your nervous system or talk to your cells
Something called graphene makes these possible. I've been trying to understand this stuff for awhile, and I finally found a piece in The New York Times that I can understand.

Try to wrap your head around this: Graphene is a one-atom thick layer of graphite. And graphite is the highest grade of plain old dumb coal.

Okay, now wrap your head around this:
  • graphene is the strongest, thinnest material known to exist
  • it can conduct electricity and heat better than anything else
  • graphene is 200 times stronger than steel
  • it is so thin that a single ounce could cover 28 football fields
Any questions?

Oh. You can make this stuff in your kitchen. Just get out your blender.
Some scientists in England used a blender to make microscopic sheets of graphene. They placed powdered graphite, the stuff from which pencil lead is made, into a container with an "exfoliating liquid", and then mixed at high speed.

The result is miniscule sheets of graphene, each about a nanometre (a billionth of a metre) thick and 100 nanometres long, suspended in a liquid. The force generated by the rotating blades separated the graphite into graphene layers without damaging their two-dimensional structure.

The team used industrial equipment called shear mixers, but successfully repeated the experiment with a kitchen blender.
You might try this at your next party. Use it to wrap people's heads.

Morning rush

Here and there on the Web this Tuesday, April 22, 2014:

Snow or pollen?
No wonder your allergies are attacking

The amazing 3D printed hand

Why you should pay off your car loan

Now the BLM is going after Texas

Here come the world's fastest elevators
One happy guy.

How To: keep extension cords untangled

Five ways to eat seaweed

The legacy of Obama's illegal alien aunt

Using physical sensation to persuade

It's official: corn ethanol is useless 

The Pentagon's superpowered autopilot

Save on summer flights to Europe

The definitive dictionary may go out of print

Today's Word: to speak pompously

Biden knocks out toddler at Easter egg roll

Now there are glow in the dark roads:

Mitch Albom: beginnings

"All endings are also beginnings. We just don't know it at the time."

Monday, April 21, 2014

King George, call your office

The ruckus out west between a rancher and the Bureau of Land Management is but the latest incident to set people thinking about the American colonists who rebelled against an onerous tyrant in London.

Their complaints against the King are listed here. The anonymous blogger at Taxicab Depressions, a avid student of history, lists those complaints, then asks:
in the context of the early 1770s, what would the Founders think about the government secretly and illegally trafficking thousands of military-grade arms to criminals, brigands, and pirates, knowing full well that those criminals will kill thousands of innocent people with said arms, as a ploy to disarm their own citizenry… and when caught red-handed in this criminal and despicable act, the governmental appointee responsible for executing this disgraceful policy lies, dissembles, and stonewalls, and suffers no sanction or penalty?

What would they think of the government reading, and oftentimes copying and warehousing, every single letter of their correspondence, their diaries, their conversations, their most private and intimate of communications?

What would they think of government agents standing on rooftops and street corners, monitoring and documenting the comings and goings of every citizen every day of his life, whom they speak with and associate with, and what they purchase and from whom?

What would they think about their government spying on journalists, town criers, and pamphleteers, and swearing out false oaths to judges to have them surveilled?

What would they think about government tax agents given specific orders to harass, intimidate, penalize, and obstruct any person who speaks for peaceful, legislative reform of the government or is critical of the government, even demanding that they document the content of their prayers?

What would they think about a government that routinely ignores laws already on the books solely for material and political gain, a government that creates punitive laws through specious methods, and then exempts themselves from being subject to those laws, and when their agents, officials, and appointees are caught in serious crimes and malfeasance, they are simply reassigned and protected by the government, never to face trial or pay any penalty for their acts or the harm they inflict on ordinary citizens?
As I've said before, this president, intent on "totally transforming" our country, does us a favor by forcing us to reconsider how it all got started.

Morning rush

Here and there on the Web this Monday, April 21, 2014:

New squeeze.
The world needs a better toothpaste tube 

Real estate isn't a great invesment

Yes, we're living longer

Yuck: money is really dirty

New precautions for using the Internet

The lingering effects of the winter

All the news that like wow man fits

The only watch for astronauts

Obamacare continues to trash our healthcare

What your tuition gets you these days

Mediterranean Diet is good for diabetics

What to do with a damaged smart phone 

Why does anyone listen to this idiot?

Sleezebag of the Day: Elijah Cummings

Today's Word: verbal fanfare, a vain boasting, boisterously blustering

Obama sent to three-day management seminar

Building with magnetic micro robots:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Vespers: O sacred head

This is "O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded" sung by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge.

The hymn is based on a long medieval Latin poem, "Salve mundi salutare," with stanzas addressing the various parts of Christ's body hanging on the Cross. The last part of the poem, from which the hymn is taken, is addressed to Christ's head, and begins "Salve caput cruentatum." The poem is now attributed to the Medieval poet Arnulf of Louvain (died 1250).

The music for the German and English versions of the hymn is by Hans Leo Hassler, written around 1600 for a secular love song, "Mein G'müt ist mir verwirret."The tune was appropriated and rhythmically simplified for Gerhardt's German hymn in 1656 by Johann Crüger.

Johann Sebastian Bach arranged the melody and used five stanzas of the hymn in his St Matthew Passion. This work is often cited as the most important piece of Easter music.

I have seen the Lord

From The Lectionary:

20:1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.

20:2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."

20:3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb.

20:4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.

20:5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.

20:6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there,

20:7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.

20:8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;

20:9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

20:10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.

20:11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb;

20:12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.

20:13 They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him."

20:14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

20:15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."

20:16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher).

20:17 Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

20:18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

~ John 20:1-18

Saint Augustine: within

"I found thee not, O Lord, without, because I erred in seeking thee without that wert within."

Friday, April 18, 2014

Vespers: the heavenly banquet

For Good Friday.

This is the French composer Olivier Messiaen playing his piece "Le banquet célest," "the heavenly banquet."

Olivier Messiaen (1908 – 1992) was a  composer, organist and ornithologist, one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex (he was interested in rhythms from ancient Greek and from Hindu sources); harmonically and melodically it often uses modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from his early compositions and improvisations.

Le banquet céleste is an excellent example of Messiaen's musical aesthetic as it applies to the organ: it features thick, warm texture, and long, relaxed phrases.
The work is largely atmospheric in its musical intent; the strongest emphasis is placed on harmony. Messiaen's vertical sonorities are modally organized, though they also includes conventional tonal triads. The piece unfolds so slowly -- though only 25 measures long, it lasts about six minutes at the tempo prescribed by the composer -- that there is no strong sense of beat. As musicologist Roger Nichols notes, Messiaen "forces us to rethink our notion of time, so that we hear the logic of harmony and melody but without feeling ourselves tied to a mundane beat."
He wrote this when he was 20 years old.

Going mad: yup, the oceans have receded

" ... this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow ... " 
~ Barack Obama on his election

These are the cliffs at Punta di Maita, Italy.
Each of those bands is a layer of seafloor sediment that accumulated long ago in 21,000-year orbital cycles. The cliff are visible now because of tetonic activity.

Researchers measured oxygen levels in plankton fossils in the rock to infer prehistoric water flows through the Straits of Gibraltar, which in turn reflect sea level changes caused by the melting or freezing of glaciers. The upshot: 5.3 million years of deep-sea temperature trends.

Here is a graph of those changes. The upper left is the most recent time. Read to the right and down for older years.
Looks as though sea levels just go up and down, up and down.

But it also looks like -- well, I declare! -- that our Community Organizer in Chief has managed to lower the oceans! Fine work, O.

Morning rush

Here and there on the Web this Friday, April 18, 2014:

No, it's not TV.
The surveillance network watching Boston

What your breath says about your health

Get the most out of your college tour 

How to get an audience to like you

Take your kids out of public school

The myths of hot crossed buns

Can you see it?
Now there's a stealth motorcycle 

The IRS wanted to track license plates

The United States of SWAT?

A substantial decline in diabetes complications

How Russia treats cancer patients

Today's Word: a misgiving, doubt or reservation

Plastic surgeon inspired by average-looking sibling

An amazing trick you can do at home:

Confucius: passion

"Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The meaning of maundy

Christ Taking Leave, by Duccio
Today is Maundy Thursday, a holy day in Christendom commemorating the Last Supper of Christ. On that occasion he washed his disciples' feet.

He explained his action with these words: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you." The word commandment in Latin is mandatum. From this came the Old French mandé and later the Old English maunde.

Thus we can say that maundy means commandment. It also has the meaning of the ceremony of foot washing. 

Others think that Maundy Thursday arose from maundsor baskets or maundy purses of alms, which the king of England distributed to certain poor at Whitehall before attending Mass on that day. Thus, maund is connected to the Latin mendicare, and French mendier, to beg.

A source from the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod states that, if the name was derived from the Latin mandatum, we would call the day Mandy Thursday, or Mandate Thursday, or even Mandatum Thursday; and that the term Maundy comes in fact from the Latin mendicare, Old French mendier, and English maund, which as a verb means to beg and as a noun refers to a small basket held out by maunders as they maunded.

As washing the feet of the poor and giving them something to eat seem to be of the same spirit, I suggest we let language dispute languish on this day.

Illustration: From the Maestà, or Maestà of Duccio, an altarpiece composed of many individual paintings commissioned by the city of Siena in 1308 from the artist Duccio di Buoninsegna.

Here's what federal regulations cost you

Got $14,974 to spare?

That's what federal regulations cost you each year, and the amount is rising. That equals 23% of the average income of $65,596. The price of everything you buy goes up as businesses comply with the rules.

Washington set a new record in 2013 by issuing final rules consuming 26,417 pages in the Federal Register, the Wall Street Journal reports.
While plenty of government employees deserve credit for this milestone, leadership matters. And by this measure President Obama has never been surpassed in the Oval Office.

Congress may be mired in gridlock, but the federal bureaucracy is busier than ever. In 2013 the Federal Register contained 3,659 "final" rules, which means they now must be obeyed, and 2,594 proposed rules on their way to becoming orders from political headquarters.

The Federal Register finished 2013 at 79,311 pages, the fourth highest total in history. That didn't match President Obama's 2010 all-time record of 81,405 pages. But Mr. Obama can console himself by noting that of the five highest Federal Register page counts, four have occurred on his watch.
Mind your masters, boys and girls. They know what's good for you.

Antisemitism is a virus

"Antisemitism is not a sign, a symbol, a bullet or a gas. It is a Virus. It is the oldest known virus to infest the human soul. In those infected, the virus is clever enough to mask it's existence by renaming itself as 'anti-Zionism.' Through the renaming of this ancient disease as a 'political problem,' infected souls can transmit the virus to their friends, families. They can spread their disease at their schools and in their their community, church, or nation. The virus is also transmitted by exchanging infected fantasies with infected ideologues. By changing it's name the disease made it possible for many to deny that they have contracted the virus, and that their souls are chancre-ridden and rotting. This facilitates the current outbreak.

"With the advent of the 'Palestinian cause' becoming chic in Western, European, and Liberal circles -- driven at first by Socialist Progressive romanticism in the late 1960s and early 1970s -- being infected by virus has once more become acceptable to exhibit socially in certain ways. Indeed, in many circles and societies, having the virus has lately become a highly prized fashion accessory to popular academic, media, and state ideologies. It is now actually a badge of pride in many Western circles to appear at various events wearing gold-plated buboes inset with multi-faceted Kaposi's sarcoma that contain the virus at their core. Many now believe this intellectual adornment to actually be beautiful."

Morning rush

Here and there on the Web this Thursday, April 17, 2014:
Bull's Eye!

What in the world is this thing over Texas?

Now they're creating artificial blood 

Don't make these car-buying mistakes

The wreckage left by Obamacare

Artists have unique brain structures

Hello? Hello?
Check out Google's new modular phone

Obama is misusing the Census again 

Are we over the hill at 24?

Hypocrite of the Day: Paul Krugman

Amazon may soon be listening to everything you say

Today's Word: investment of emotional significance in something

NSA director can't stop wife from reading his emails

The real mad men of New York:

Thomas Jefferson: action

"Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Where your taxes go

Glad April 15 is over? Here in Connecticut we'll still be giving our income over to taxes until May 9. You can check your state here.

A good bit of what we pay for is programs giving our money to other, more deserving people. Here's a picture of it:
This data comes from something called the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, which itself seems to be some kind of federal operation, which seems rather proud of all this, since it has created a pretty chart of where your money is going.
Here's how to understand the slices of the pie:

480Department of Health and Human Services
271Department of the Interior
253Department of Agriculture
132Department of Justice
127Department of Housing and Urban Development

Morning rush

Here and there on the Web this Wednesday, April 16, 2014:
Big-time science projects.

The amazing teenaged scientist

Wanna just rent your gadgets?

Obama fires up racial and gender resentments 

Is your boss a psychopath?

A heartbeat away from the presidency

Five mistakes renters make

Your daily nap may indicate a problem

Keep your children out of public schools

Traumatic experiences can affect future generations

Even a little marijuana changes your brain

How To: Get the best seat on your next flight

Today's Word: maudlin sentimentality

CNN renews Flight 370 for second season

How 3D printing changes everything:

Malcolm Forbes: grudges

"Keeping score of old scores and scars, getting even and one-upping, always make you less than you are."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Obama shows his stuff with Putin

(American Digest)

Why your car looks like every other car

That one's yours.
Good luck finding your car in a parking lot.

As standardization by governments has taken hold—there are more than 200 safety and environmental regulations that go into building a car—the challenge for designers is no longer to create something uniquely beautiful, but to turn out a product that’s in compliance—and hope people buy the result, Patrick Cooke writes.
  • Federal interference began in the 1970s with a mandate to provide drivers with bumpers capable of surviving a five-mile-per-hour crash without sustaining damage to the body of the car. Bewildered manufacturers responded in many cases by simply bolting on front and rear rubber bricks, obliterating the lines of the car, which they then attempted to compensate for by adding gaudy touches like carriage lamps and vinyl roofs.
  • The energy crisis only made matters worse for designers when, in 1975, Congress introduced the first mandatory Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations that set mileage quotas for new automobiles. The easiest way to meet the mandate was to lower the drag coefficient on cars, and so began the automakers’ mad dash for the wind tunnel. 
  • In the quest for greater fuel mileage, cars may have become less safe but, ironically, safety rules have done more to create the cookie-cutter clones than anything else—safety for pedestrians, that is. Pedestrian safety regulations imposed in Europe and Asia during the 2000s are not yet law in the United States, but domestic automakers must adhere to them if they expect to sell their products overseas. Hood ornaments were the first to go. Door handles were recessed and rear-view mirrors rounded and made inwardly collapsible. Front ends were lowered, creating a kind of cowcatcher appearance. 
The cumulative effect of all these changes is a wedge shape, seen from the side, from the low nose swooping upward toward a high tail—the startled stance of a cat with its rump in the air. And what about the view from the rear? With only so many ways for stylists to efficiently “separate” moving air from that high trunk lid, thus reducing drag, there is scarcely any difference in design resolution today from one car to another.

Who is watching you?

Google's contact lenses are watching you.
Go ahead and assume that someone in the government is watching you.

A reporter in Virginia discovered that the police took 16 photos of her car over a six month period, including the they photographed her driving to a Bible study.

I guess going to a Bible study is still legal. Who knows?

Well, Virginia cops are behind the times. In Compton, California, last year, police began quietly testing a system that allowed them to do something incredible: Watch every car and person in real time as they ebbed and flowed around the city.
Every assault, every purse snatched, every car speeding away was on record—all thanks to an Ohio company that monitors cities from the air. The PSS system has been tested in other cities, including Baltimore and Dayton

It's not specific enough to ID people by face, but, when used in unison with stoplight cameras and other on-the-ground video sources, it can identify suspects as they leave the scene of a crime.
Meanwhile, the federal Department of Health and Human Services has begun fingerprinting medicare providers.

Elsewhere, the FBI wants your picture in its database. New documents released by the FBI show that the Bureau is well on its way toward its goal of a fully operational face recognition database by this summer. Next Generation Identification (NGI), the FBI's massive biometric database, may hold records on as much as one third of the U.S. population. 
The face recognition component of NGI may include as many as 52 million face images by 2015. By 2012, NGI already contained 13.6 million images representing between 7 and 8 million individuals, and by the middle of 2013, the size of the database increased to 16 million images. The new records reveal that the database will be capable of processing 55,000 direct photo enrollments daily and of conducting tens of thousands of searches every day.
Not to be outdone, Google has patented a smart contact lens that could see its Glass wearable computer fit inside a smart lens. The firm has already developed a contact lens for diabetics analyses their tears, warning them if their glucose levels are low. Now it has revealed plans for a lens with a camera built in - opening the possibility of its Glass system being shrunk down significantly, offering features such as 'superzoom' to wearers and even helping the blind see.

Smile! You're in a database!

You already assumed, of course, that the government can look at your emails and Internet searches.

Morning rush

Here and there on the Web this Tuesday, April 15, 2014:
Eat this, live forever.

Eat your kale, boys and girls

We remember people we met as babies 

Use your body to learn better

Free stuff for your lawn and garden

But you're not free of taxes yet

Obama has proposed 442 tax hikes
The doc patch.

How we'll monitor our health in the future

Why all cars look alike

Dabble in cocaine, get your own TV show

Can we really translate dolphin-ese?

This smart phone monitors your heart

Eric Holder's DOJ political machine 

This is what your tuition gets you

Today's Word: the plate surrounding a keyhole

Restaurant patrons tough it out on restaurant patio

What a doctor sees in your eyes:

Thomas Carlyle: work

"Blessed is the man who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness. Know thy work, and do it: and work at it like Hercules. One monster there is in the world, the idle man."

Monday, April 14, 2014

How a wiffle ball works

I've been thinking about it a lot lately. You probably have, too. So here goes.

Mechanical engineer Jenn Stroud Rossmann at Lafayette College placed the ball in a wind tunnel, measured airflow around it, and concluded that the shifting balance of forces inside and outside the ball is what makes it so devilishly hard to hit.

I sorta knew that. No, really, I did. Okay, I didn't know it, but I could have.

Look at this for awhile. I'll be back later to explain this picture.
That just explains a lot, doesn't it? A picture really is worth a thousand words, sometimes. Here's some stuff about the picture. Guess this picture needs some words after all.
The strengths of the internal and external forces shift constantly while the ball is in flight. The net of the forces is what dictates the ball’s path.

The holes are on just one side. They disrupt airflow, increasing turbulence over that half of the ball.

More turbulence means less drag on that side, resulting in an upward “lift” force.

Air rushing into the holes creates vortices that whirl inside. The ball’s orientation, spin, and velocity all affect how those vortices develop.

Vortices create a force that can change the ball’s direction.On faster pitches, the interior force typically overpowers the external force.
That's 109 words. So I guess that picture's only worth 891 words.

Can you be too positive?

You won't get far in this world if you're a negative thinker. Sometimes, however, positive thinking can get you in trouble.

That's especially true with money.
“We’re far more inclined to embrace positive information about our own investments than negative information. We often turn that off,” says Tali Sharot, author of The Optimism Bias: A Tour of Our Irrationally Positive Brain.
A hot stock market in particular tends to make us crazy.
 A hot market and the positivity delusions it generates make his job a lot tougher. “Clients often ignore risk in a rising market,” says Nicholas Haffenreffer, a portfolio manager. “They forget the rules: that cycles happen. Markets do drop, so you have to hedge. People just don’t want to hear that.”
What to do about this?
Since we are inclined to ignore negative information about our investment and embrace positive information, we have to create some distance from the investment. “If you are going to make an investment in something, imagine that it’s your neighbor making the investment, not yourself, and then when you evaluate it you’re likely to be much more objective,” Sharot says.
Yeah, I'll just hand my mistakes to my neighbor, Weird Al.

“You have to at least entertain the possibility that the rustling in the grass could turn out to be a lion and eat you up,” says Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Is Undermining America. “Work hard. Be realistic. Don’t fall for simple pitches that cloud your thinking — don’t block out warning signs that something bad might be on the horizon. Things aren’t going to get better just by wishing for it.”

I'm NOT lost

Morning rush

Here and there on the Web this Monday, April 14, 2014:
First solo around the world.

The housewife who flew around the world

Why this reporter quit CBS news

Public schools are stupid

11 things cops look for when they pull you over

El Nino is coming back

Putin goes after Europe; we go after texting
Like a roomba on paper.

Innovation: a portable printer

Why Sears is dying

A brief history of soda pop

Amateur hour: Obama tries yet again to divide us

Jay Carney's Soviet propaganda

Your cutting board may be contaminated

Today's Word: familiar friends, neighbors or relatives

Woman observed barely jogging

Why you can hear something that isn't spoken:

Salma Hayek: life is tough

"Life is tough, and if you have the ability to laugh at it you have the ability to enjoy it."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Vespers: Suite Medievale

Jean Langlais, the composer of "Suite Medievale," was born at La Fontenelle in 1907 and went blind at the age of two. Despite this handicap, he became one of the most respected organists and composers of the 20th century. He studied piano, violin, composition and organ in Paris at the National Institute for the Young Blind and at the Conservatoire de Musique.

Professor for forty years at the National Institute for the Young Blind, he also taught at the Schola Cantorum in Paris, where between 1961 and 1976 he helped both French and foreign students. His reputation as a pedagogue, important composer and concert artist drew pupils and audiences of many nationalities, especially from the USA, where he gave 300 recitals and countless master classes.

Langlais's music is written in a late, free tonal style, representative of mid-twentieth-century French music, with rich and complex harmonies and overlapping modes.

Let the same mind be in you

From The Lectionary:

2:5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

2:6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,

2:7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,

2:8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death on a cross.

2:9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,

2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

2:11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

~ Philippians 2:5-11