Saturday, December 12, 2009

Icicles for Lockwood

Blog friend Lockwood of Outside the Interzone posted some pics of what pass for icicles in his part of Oregon. Cute, tiny icicles that look decorative. So here's a pic of Flagstaff icicles. They are not cute or tiny; they are lethal. They will impale you if they get a chance. And they're going to be hanging around for a while.

Can I Fast Forward To Spring?

Looks like we'll be getting a little more snow this weekend. I suppose I shouldn't complain, since I live in a place where winter happens. But I got a new river supply catalog (also known as "porno-for-boatmen") in yesterday's mail, so I'm fantasizing about white water and warm sunshine. And wishing I had more money for new toys (that I don't really need). Oh well, the more snow in the winter, the more white water in spring.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Really Scary Pictures

OK, most of these are so awful that I would never post them here, but if you have a strong stomach you can click on this:
Michael Steele and the RNC Interns.
That'll drive you to drink. Luckily, for me, it's a short walk.
(h/t to Mock, Paper, Scissors for the nightmares)


Brr. -5 this morning. Glad I didn't have to go anywhere.

Boobies for 1500

This weeks Boobies mark the 1,500th post on Pygalgia! While I realize that isn't all that many when compared to the better blogs, I'm quietly proud of our persistence. Thanks to all our readers; maybe we'll stick around a while longer.

The Obama You Have vs. The Obama You Want

Browsing around Blogtopia (Y!SCTP), there's obviously a lot of dissatisfaction with President Obama. And that's just from the left; the right has hated him from day one. Apparently, a lot of progressives think he's turned into a continuation of shrub, and not the great liberal savior they were wishing for.
As I see it, this disappointment is a result of unrealistic expectations. There's been a lot of projection placed on Obama: "he's a good, smart man, so of course he should act strongly on the issues that I believe strongly in." Whether it be Afghanistan, Wall St., health care, gay rights, or a host of other issues, the left expected Obama to be a more progressive advocate. He isn't. Hey, I'm about as far to the left as possible, and I knew all along that Obama was no liberal.
In reality, Barack Obama has always been a moderate (as is Hillary, BTW). Don't be fooled by lofty rhetoric; every policy proposal made during the campaign leaned strongly toward the middle ground. Obama advocated "fixing problems", not "radical" changes (yeah, I know the slogan; the actual "change" proposed was minor). He's an 'establishment' manager rather than a revolutionary.
Maybe it's because I'm cynical to begin with, but I'm not all that disappointed in Obama's performance so far. He's done about what I expected (as opposed to what I might have wanted): he's been pragmatic and intelligent as he attempts to address the myriad disasters in front of us. Faced with a trashed economy, wars, and an opposition party that refuses to participate in governing, Obama has been able to make some small, steady progress. We may want a lot more, but it's unrealistic to expect it, and it may be impossible for Obama to actually change a situation that was decades in the making.
If you keep your expectations low, you're seldom disappointed. All I ever expected Obama to do was do a better job of governing than St. Sleazy McCain (or shrub) would do. What we've gotten is about what I expected.

(Added: Go over to No More Mister Nice Blog for some other views, especially in the comments, on the topic. It's a very lively, but civil, debate).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Dynamite Prize

Many find it ironic that the president is accepting the "peace" prize while escalating a war. But the very prize is itself ironic. Alfred Nobel was the inventor of dynamite, which is not exactly "peaceful" by its very nature.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Well, the town's slowly digging out. The storm wasn't the worst, but it was still pretty impressive:

This wasn't anywhere near the biggest storm recorded for Flagstaff -- 1967 still holds the record, with 7 feet of snow in a little more than a week.

But this week's storm did make the list for snowiest single days in the past century, as the 8th snowiest day on record for Flagstaff, according to Andrew Latto, meteorologist intern at the National Weather Service in Bellemont. From midnight on Sunday to midnight on Monday, 20.1 inches of snow was reported in Flagstaff. Also, winds during the storm reached 70 mph in Bellemont and 53 mph in Flagstaff, according to the National Weather Service.

Under the heading of 'things I'd rather not do', I have to make it to a doctors appointment. Wading through snow banks isn't as much fun as some would think.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Because I Want More Spaceships

I grew up loving NASA and reading sci-fi space stories, so I naturally love stories like this:

On Monday, Virgin Galactic took the cloak off SpaceShipTwo, which had been under secret development for two years. The company plans to sell suborbital space rides for $200,000 a ticket, offering passengers 2½-hour flights that include about five minutes of weightlessness.

"We want this program to be a whole new beginning in a commercial era of space travel," said Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson, who partnered with famed aviation designer Burt Rutan on the venture.

The British billionaire hopes to begin passenger flights out of New Mexico sometime in 2011 after a series of rigorous safety tests. Branson said he, his family and Rutan will be the first to fly on SpaceShipTwo.

SpaceShipTwo is based on Rutan's design of a prototype called SpaceShipOne. In 2004, SpaceShipOne captured the $10 million Ansari X Prize by becoming the first privately manned craft to reach space.

Since that historic feat, engineers from Rutan's Scaled Composites LLC have been laboring in the Mojave Desert on a larger design suitable for commercial use.

Sweaterman and I have an ongoing joke: "Where are our jetpacks, dammit!?" Here's hoping Branson and Rutan can take us into space!

Yes, It's Winter

Yup, this storm is living up to its billing. Lots o' snow. Walked down to my favorite pub (locals know it's a fairly short walk) to make sure my favorite bartender wasn't lonely. He wasn't.
You get to know a bit about the character of a town when you have bad weather. Which locals are out, and the stories of who they've helped while being out.
Myself, I ended up helping a mother and daughter who's car got squished. They were traveling from New Mexico to San Diego, and hadn't planned for a storm, when their car got creamed. I was able to (after medical clearance) secure them lodging, feed them, and direct them toward the best local car rental (already closed because of blizzard; maybe tomorrow) before I had a beer.
I think I like living here. People try to help each other out when things get tough.
(p.s. Home and warm with Bailey's and coffee is good, too)

December 7th

A day that will live in infamy. On December 7th, 1945, the microwave oven was patented. And history (or, at least cooking) will never be the same.

Blizzard Warning

The first real winter storm has begun. We've had a couple of snow dustings, but today we have a blizzard warning. Forecast for two feet of snow by tomorrow, with winds over 30mph. Currently it's snowing lightly, and the wind isn't bad yet. Glad my heater works well, and that I don't have to go anywhere today. Is it time to break out the brandy yet?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Of Course God Agrees With Me

I love it when a study confirms what I already believed:

Religious people tend to use their own beliefs as a guide in thinking about what God believes, but are less constrained when reasoning about other people’s beliefs, according to new study published in the Nov. 30 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Nicholas Epley, professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, led the research, which included a series of survey and neuroimaging studies to examine the extent to which people’s own beliefs guide their predictions about God’s beliefs.

The researchers noted that people often set their moral compasses according to what they presume to be God’s standards. “The central feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing,” they conclude. “This research suggests that, unlike an actual compass, inferences about God’s beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing.”

"And in the beginning, man created God, and saw that it was good."
Added: as Sweaterman reminded me, William James explained this in "The Relative States of Religious Experience" about a hundred years ago. I should've thought of that.