BBC News: Climate extremes are ‘unprecedented’
“There were plenty of solar enthusiasts back in the 1990s who were attributing the observed warming since the 1970s to a brightening sun - which didn’t really work out when we moved into an extreme solar minimum and still saw the warmest decade on record.” Including myself; I thought I’d found an angle noone else had comprehensively measured. The solar minimum landed a fat pie in my face. [Not to say I didn’t think we shouldn’t be cutting back on warming habits; quite the contrary. Whether Sun or human, excess warmth must be mitigated.]
Guardian.UK: Climate change did not cause 2012 US drought, says government report.
“Neither ocean states nor human-induced climate change, factors that can provide long-lead predictability, appeared to play significant roles in causing severe rainfall deficits over the major corn producing regions of central Great Plains.” Well, I’ll have to recalculate some of my past rhetoric. Filed under “Corrections”. [Thought: It will be interesting to see how science and environment oriented blogs absorb and handle this information. I suspect it will be slow and grudging.]
Yahoo News: My personal John Edwards trial: How he fooled me, and what I learned.
You know, in talking with various women during the last couple of elections, I noticed that about half would admire John Edwards, and the other half would find him terribly, overtly smarmy. Men were ambivalent. I never noticed the smarminess until alerted to it, and then didn’t really believe in it. I figured such behavior would have been found out long before reaching national levels. Major kudos to those women who saw through the facade. I’ll state it here in boldface: I WAS WRONG.
Gizmodo: Flying Bird Man Admits Flying Bird Man Is Fake.
SF New Mexican: Forestry officials brace for fire season.
It’s drier than at this time last year. I suspect they’ll close the forests in late May, so get out and hike while it’s still cold/cool … otherwise you’ll be left high and dry. Apparently I’m wrong. TV news tonight says the snowpack in the Sangres is a percentage higher than last year - so we’re actually better off, if marginally. My bad!
The Atlantic: The Very Real Danger of Genetically Modified Foods.
“Chinese researchers have found small pieces of ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the blood and organs of humans who eat rice. The Nanjing University-based team showed that this genetic material will bind to proteins in human liver cells and influence the uptake of cholesterol from the blood. [snip] MicroRNAs have been studied extensively since their discovery ten years ago, and have been linked to human diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.” I run across so many dubious articles, both pro- and con-. It can get difficult to winnow through the mire, so I tend to drill down to the actual research, the actual studies, rather than read editorials and opinion pieces. This one seems a good one, worthy of bookmarking and using as argument-points with your GM-loving ‘science-is-always-superior’ friends at social gatherings.
Correction: I retract my support for this article. Poor source material. Read the comments on this post here.
Mashable: Twitter Analysis Vindicates Gingrich in Followers Scandal.
“If Gingrich was correct, all of the politicians on the SUL would have roughly the same composition of followers. So we asked Topsy, a social media search company, to conduct an exhaustive, weeks-long analysis of the followers of every politician on the SUL. The result: No matter which way you slice it, nearly all political accounts on the SUL have the same levels of inactivity among their followers as Gingrich.” My apologies, Newt.
WSJ: Vigilante Justice? Texas Refuses to Pay ‘Machete’ Producers.
”The Texas Film Commission says it will refuse to pay $1.75 million in state incentives to the movie’s producers citing a state law that allows the state to refuse to pay incentives for ‘content that portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion.’” First Amendment, only when convenient. Corrected; see comments.
Gizmodo: The Sound Of This Car’s Exhaust Can Shatter Glasses.
Bah, too expensive. Buy a used ‘70’s Mazda RX-3, and just remove the muffler. When that engine starts, I guarantee the Wankel engine will shatter windows for blocks around.
Pentagon Says It’s Confident Missile Hit Satellite Tank. Okay, so I was wrong yesterday. They’ve shown video. My sincere apologies to the Pentagon. I remain skeptical over the need for missile shootdown; I’m not buying the hydrazine fuel excuse. We’ve had two Shuttles disintegrate, countless other rockets explode in the atmosphere - all of which contained hydrazine - without a single similar concern. I’ll wager in years after we’ll hear about nuclear fuel, experimental armaments, or very classified equipment.
Related: Times Opinionator has a different take. The shootdown legitimizes missile defense in significant ways.
Note: The aggregators got me again. This is from 2005. Sorry. Thanks, Billsaysthis, for the heads-up. Filed under ‘corrections’.
The Richest of the Rich, Proud of a New Gilded Age. Yet the old Gilded Age philanthropists did more. Carnegie built Carnegie Lake in Princeton (when built, it was lined on both shores with flowering cherry trees ... few survive, sadly). The Duponts built spectacular gardens. I see few such long-lasting aesthetic endeavors today. None seem to like to get their hands dirty, except with ink.
Mayor Daley bulldozes Chicago’s Meigs Field. You know Meigs. No, you do. Really. It’s the airport countless thousands have taken off from in Microsoft Flight Simulator. Damned if I’ll let them tear it up without a fight. Rise up, let the Mayor know he’s way, way over the line ...
Later: OK, laugh. I thought this rang a bell. This news article is so old ... years old. It came up in an online aggregator, and I linked immediately out of outrage, rather than sense.
Marked ‘Corrections.’ As Bugs Bunny says, “What a maroon ...”
My most bandwidth-stolen image ...
and to my chagrin, it’s not one that I’ve spent time crafting. More iconic in nature. The horse’s ass. Dave Barry’s used it on his weblog without permission or attribution, and at least a dozen others.
Later: A correction amongst the comments.
seem mighty quiet over the Bob Woodruff special. Talk radio has touched on it, but I haven’t found much else. There’s much positive, but I was looking for the negative, to see how those opposed to painting rosy scenarios over Iraq would mount an attack. If you see any, drop a link.
Correction: Instead of ‘rosy’ above, I mean to say ‘dire.’ A clumsy bit of writing, either way. Sorry. Confuses even me.
7 million Americans are in prison. 1 out of 32 people.
Later: Correction, 7 million in prison, on probation, or on parole, to be exact. Thx, NewMexiKen.
You can see,
my initial take from morning reports on John Kerry’s comment was wrong. Apologies for any misdirection I may have caused in analyzing what seemed a bizarre exhortation. A recommendation to Mr Kerry ... if you can’t deliver the punch line, don’t tell the joke.
Later: This pales in comparison to the “dunk in the water” discussion with our VP last week. But who remembers that far back?
Comment on the Lidle crash.
Hard to get the information you need on this crash. Finally I found that Mr Lidle was flying VFR, with an instructor. He was a low-time pilot (95 hours solo), no indication of how many hours in type (how many hours behind the controls of a Cirrus, an important piece of info). What the instructor was doing with him is a curiousity; could mean one of two things ... a friend, or working on his high performance aircraft endorsement (which is required by law to fly the over 200hp Cirrus, via a flight-instructor’s sign-off, FAR 61.31).
It’s been a while since I’ve been piloting an airplane, so take my opinion with a grain of salt ... but I’ll place my bet on high-performance aircraft endorsement, given his number of hours. I can’t even imagine trying IFR training in that corridor (with a hood obscuring your view), so I won’t go there. We’ll have to wait to find out more info. But if it was ‘training’, I’d eliminate any training flights from those corridors. There are just too many variables ... too many planes, helicopters and visual distractions.
[Addendum to this; see below “Later” note] You need to understand that Manhattan sits under three overlapping “upside down layer cakes” of controlled airspace [Newark, LaGuardia, Kennedy], with strict flight procedures. The corridors up the Hudson and East River are narrow, the ceilings are low, and very busy with traffic because they give the only straight-shot access from NJ to CT without having to file IFR (you’d have to fly far west of Newark or way out in the ocean to get East of Kennedy otherwise). Flying is about getting to a destination faster than a car, so you can imagine how popular the ‘straight shot’ routes are ... and how fast folks want to fly through them (if not sightseeing). After all, those rich Jerseyans have to get to Martha’s Vineyard for the weekend ...
Another concern about the VFR corridors is helicopters. They make sudden, unpredictable movements ... movements a small plane cannot match. It is hard to predict the bearing of a flying helicopter, because the way it faces is not a guarantee of flight direction. And the helicopters love to ‘scud run’ ... flying at high speed below the clouds to avoid having to file for instrument flight (lots of paperwork and procedure to follow). We’ve heard in one of these articles that the clouds were somewhat low that day, which brought this detail to mind. The larger pharmaceutical companies in NJ used to fly their corporate choppers down the Delaware-Raritan canal, just below the clouds, at very high speeds ... often at treetop level. I’ve seen helicopters have very close calls more than once. The NTSB should be looking closely at the traffic on that particular day.
The 100 or so hours after private pilot certification are, I believe, well known as a ‘danger’ period, where one should not idly contemplate high performance airplanes. Better to build up some ‘normal’ hours first, in your training craft, getting used to this flying stuff. The Cirrus flies at something like 165 knots, significantly higher than your standard ‘training’ single, which rarely breaks 120 knots. Speed gets you into a great deal of trouble, very fast. Even so, the presence of the instructor should have precluded such an accident. I would have to say, the VFR corridor is a rotten place to do training, of any kind. If high performance training was going on, the instructor was pilot-in-command; this accident is no fault of Mr Lidle’s, and should not be phrased as such until proven otherwise.
The observation that the airplane was in a sharp bank shortly before the incident would serve to verify that too high a speed was being used to perform whatever maneuver was intended (whether avoidance of an obstacle, or keeping to a bearing).
USA Today posts an anti-general-aviation opinion, which brims with ignorance. For instance, “In most areas, flight plans are not required from pilots flying small aircraft in clear weather, so air traffic controllers have a limited ability to monitor them or determine in a timely way whether they’re headed somewhere potentially dangerous.” The is the old stereotype that keeps being spouted from newspersons. A VFR flight plan is a roughly 6” x 9” slip of paper to inform search-and-rescue of your intended route, and to indicate a time to begin inquiries if you don’t arrive at your destination within a reasonable amount of time, it is not for tracing a plane in-flight. Read about Flight Service Stations (FSS’s) and what the function of a flight plan really is. [Here’s a PDF of a sample; normally only the top half is used, down to “Military Stopover.”]
Your transponder shows you on ATC’s radar, whether you’re VFR or IFR, and I believe a Mode C transponder is required for the VFR corridors of Manhattan (which give ATC altitude information in addition to plane identification). ATC is watching you closely, IFR, VFR, or UFO. Likewise, the payload capacity of small single-engine planes is negligible. The Beech Sport I used to fly, would go ‘overweight’ if tanks were full and my instructor brought her overloaded purse with her (apologies, Sherry). Most weigh less than a VW Beetle. These airplanes are not ‘terrorist threats’, and it is misleading to paint them as such.
Later: As usual, my memory is not infallible. Or rather, things have changed since I was flying 10 years go. I always knew about the Hudson corridor, but just assumed the East River corridor was the same. Wrong. I surfed a bit to make sure I was being ‘fair and accurate.’ Read this account of flying around Manhattan; apparently the East River ‘steep 180’ is a regular requirement for avoiding LaGuardia controlled airspace. 60 degree banks seem ‘normal.’ Once again, this points up lack of positive control of a high performance aircraft ... at high bank angles, stall speed increases 50% or more. Many new pilots have mixed inexperience with sharply banked turns, only to stall out and crash. The instructor should have prevented this, but we’ll have to wait and hear more info. I’m done talking when I should be listening ... Filed under “Corrections.”
Later: See the comments, for a correction.
Questions hang over why crashed jet used short runway. People, even professionals, make mistakes. The pilot is backed up by her/his first officer, and then ATC (tower) is supposed to also keep an eye on pilots ... so there’s a triple failure manifest here. In this case, if you look at the overview of the airport, you can see that the pilot taxied to the first runway, not the second (taxiway is parallel to ‘Terminal Drive’). The runway numbers are plainly painted on the runways themselves in the Google Map photo, but the article mentions ‘reconstruction work’ ... perhaps the identification of the runways is no longer clear. Usually you have small signs along the taxiway to identify runways, as well as the painted numbers on the runway itself. The repair patches are at the far end of the runway, so I’d imagine they weren’t visible to the pilot(s). It is very difficult to judge ‘length of runway’ from a cockpit under differing light conditions.
My immediate thought is, this sounds like a ‘habit’ of turning off at the first runway available. The article mentions coming off an extended ‘legal rest’ period. No excuse for not going through the checklist, and the airport specs, however. Perhaps both pilots and ATC should be required to verify runway # before official takeoff clearance.
The CRJ 100 has lately been updated with more powerful engines as the CRJ200. The manufacturer’s site gives the shortest runway distance for takeoff as 4,850 feet (better 5,800) for the CRJ200 with more powerful engines. This could never have gotten off the ground completely from a 3500 foot runway. The minute they spooled up to speed, they were doomed.
Later: Sounds like my ‘habit’ guess is wrong, and the reconstruction issues are a major factor.
[Amended] I had to remove OpenDNS
from my router. Why? I just switched a DNS for a client site, and the damned thing wouldn’t resolve the new location. I tried emptying the browser caches, screwing with some other router bits, nothing. Remove OpenDNS, reboot the computer ... whammo. There’s my site. Good thing, too. My new contact form wasn’t working properly. I’ll probably revisit OpenDNS, because I admire the idea, but I can’t be wasting my production time right now.
Amendment: As you can see from the comments, John Roberts of OpenDNS got in touch with me. He is most interested in making the service better. We didn’t conclusively solve the issue, but I like the OpenDNS service enough that I will return to it after my current spate of domain transfers. As everyone knows, DNS percolates through different services at different rates; I was in a foul mood, under pressure, and couldn’t wait. For the average websurfer, I think you’ll see the same great increase in speed that I did with OpenDNS (most pronounced on emails and large files, here). If anyone has a problem with the service, don’t snark on your weblog as I did ... go directly to their contact page and give them as much information about your configuration as possible. I’m a bit shamefaced that I didn’t have the time to do so, and I don’t wish to do a fine service a disservice. Mr Roberts was as helpful as I was snarky. My apologies to OpenDNS, and I’ve filed this in my ‘corrections’ category.
I ran across: “For every $30 billion in new spending, the average American needs to work an additional day out of the year to pay the cost of government.” That means, with the current costs of the Iraq war, we have to work another 9.6 days a year ...
Important caveat: Read the comments on this post. Too simplistic for reality. Consider my last comment a ‘correction.’
Iran Claims Nuclear Steps in New Worry. Add this: Iran Has Raised Efforts to Obtain U.S. Arms Illegally, Officials Say. And, of course, the threats of terrorism over the weekend. I retract some of my earlier statements. I do not now know how to parse the nuclear ramp-up in Iran. Their actions do not match any of my logic. I will recede to listening and observing, rather than armchair theorizing.
Prosecution of Midwife Casts Light on Home Births. I admire the sentiment of simplicity, but out of a handful of midwife-births I’ve been acquainted with, two have gone bad. One involved the death of a pair of twins at birth. No, I don’t accept the personal opinion of a midwife; history shows us that before modern medicine, women’s lives were rather short, too often shortened by the complications of childbirth.
Later: Be very sure you read the entire list of comments. Because of my horror at the incidents I knew of, I was blinded to the overall benefits (via scholarly studies) of midwifery.
Studies Rebut Earlier Report on Pledges of Virginity. As best I can make out from this not-very-precise article, the Heritage Foundation researchers changed the level of significance, thereby changing the results. I get the idea that .10 is better than 0.05 ... but it depends. Any statistics minors or majors out there care to clear this up?
Later: My assumptions were wrong, my link misleading. See the comments. This post is now filed under ‘Corrections.’