Saturday, February 6, 2010

Campaign '12 Begun

Meaner than Nixon and dumber than Quayle.

(I can't believe I watched that. I did it so you don't have to.)

A Major Battery Breakthrough?

This may be one of the most interesting technology pieces I've read recently: plastic sheeting that stores electricity like a battery:

The battery, which has powered our lives for generations, may soon be consigned to the dustbin of history.

British scientists say they have created a plastic that can store and release electricity, revolutionising the way we use phones, drive cars - and even wear clothes.

It means the cases of mobiles and iPods could soon double up as their power source - leading to gadgets as thin as credit cards.

The technology could also lead to flexible computer screens that can be folded up and carried around like a piece of paper.

And it could even be used to create 'electric clothes' that charge up as a person moves around and which slowly release heat when the weather gets cold.

Dr Emile Greenhalgh, from Imperial College London's Department of Aeronautics, said the material is not really a battery, but a supercapacitor - similar to those found in typical electrical circuits.

His team's prototype - which is around five inches square and wafer-thin - takes five seconds to charge from a normal power supply and can light an LED for 20 minutes.

Dr Greenhalgh, who is working with car company Volvo on a three-year, £3million project to use the material in hybrid petrol-electric cars, said: 'We think the car of the future could be drawing power from its roof or even the door, thanks to our material.

'The applications for this material don't stop there - you might have a mobile that is as thin as a credit card because it no longer needs a bulky battery, or a laptop that can draw energy from its casing so it can run for longer.'

The material charges and discharges electricity quicker than a conventional battery, and does not use chemical processes - giving it a longer lifespan, he added.

The scientists plan to use it to replace the metal floor of a Volvo car's boot which holds the spare wheel.

This would mean Volvo could shrink the size of its hybrid battery - and cut down the weight of the car, making it more efficient.

Dr Greenhalgh said: 'No one has created a material like this - within ten years it could replace batteries.'

Right off the bat, this would overcome one of the biggest challenges to electric cars: the weight of the batteries. And there's a multitude of other potential applications as well.

Keep an eye on this; it could be huge.

Feb. 6

If Ronald Reagan were still alive, today would be his 99th birthday. He's not alive, but, unfortunately, his mythological legacy still is.
And Babe Ruth would be 115.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tea Party Racism

I really would have preferred to ignore the whole "tea party" convention, but my youngest sister (who's an extreme christianist wingnut) keeps emailing me all their propaganda crap. I know she doesn't read this blog (she thinks I'm a communist), but it has motivated me to comment on how insane these people are. Take Tom Tancredo (please):
One of the featured speakers during the convention’s kickoff was former Republican congressman Tom Tancredo.

Tancredo told the audience that the country had elected “a committed socialist ideologue in the White House” because “we do not have a civics, literary test before people can vote in this country“:

The opening-night speaker at first ever National Tea Party Convention ripped into President Obama, Sen. John McCain and “the cult of multiculturalism,” asserting that Obama was elected because “we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country.”

The speaker, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., told about 600 delegates in a Nashville, Tenn., ballroom that in the 2008 election, America “put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House … Barack Hussein Obama.”

Given that the convention is being held in Nashville, Tennessee, Tancredo’s remarks are particularly offensive. For years, literacy tests were used across the South to disenfranchise African-American voters, who generally had illiteracy rates 4-5 times as high as whites due to historical discrimination and lack of opportunity. Unfortunately for Tancredo, the 1965 Voting Rights Act makes literacy tests illegal.

That's flat out thinly coded racism, folks. Blame the 'colored folk' for the election of that 'colored fella'.
And those fine patriotic christian tea partiers are incompetent when it comes to rituals:

The convention’s first day lacked the orchestrated staging of most modern political events. The convention host delivered a meandering welcome speech without notes, saying he misplaced them. Former congressman Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) offered a fiery defense of Judeo-Christian faith and traditional American values, but there was no prayer or Pledge of Allegiance to open the convention — nor was there an American flag in the convention hall.(Skoda blamed the oversight on the hotel staff.)

No prayer? No pledge? No flag? Sounds like a bunch of damn commies to me. Racist commies...and idiots.

Keeping Appointments

By now, you've all read that Sen. Richard Shelby (R) of Alabama has taken the perhaps unprecedented step of placing holds on ALL of President Obama's nominees until he gets the money for a couple of big earmarked pork barrel projects he feels entitled to back in his home state. More blatant rethug obstructionism, but this time it's flat out extortion; "give me my earmarks, or I'll prevent you from governing". And it looks like Shelby can get away with this without consequences, as there's no democrat (as yet) running against him in November.

Which makes the prospect of recess appointments increasingly likely. Certainly, the shrub administration made numerous recess appointments of unqualified hacks and cronies. It's a politically odious maneuver, however, and not one that would be popular for Obama. The right wing noise machine (for whom hypocrisy is a virtue) would probably be calling for impeachment. But I'm not seeing any other option.

By now it's obvious that the media isn't going to hold Sen. Shelby accountable for such shameless manipulation, and I really doubt that it would resonate much with the voting public. It's 'too complex' and smacks of 'politics as usual' for our "serious pundits" to focus on. But it is important; attempting to destroy the government for political gain should be considered a crime against the American people. The country needs appointees doing their jobs, not gamesmanship. It's one thing for a Senator to hold up a nominee on a question of qualifications, quite another to put a blanket hold on all nominees.

And there's another major reason why appointments matter: ABC News is reporting that the White House is preparing to handle not one, but two possible retirements from the Supreme Court over the next few months. If Obama cannot get bureaucratic nominees confirmed, how much luck will he have with vastly more important Supreme Court nominees?

Maybe we should just hand the government back to the rethuglicans now, and sit back and watch the country collapse into ruins. I'm sure the benevolent corporations will keep some of us alive as indentured servants, or for entertainment as contestants on American Idol.

More Boobies

It's Friday, so we need more Boobies.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Barking at Beetles

The Ips bark beetle, shown here in a Petri dish, is barely a quarter-of-an-inch long, but this tiny killer can destroy millions of acres of trees when attacking by the thousands

The pine forests of this region have been severely threatened by bark beetles for years. Now the NAU school of forestry has a new way to combat them:

A phenomenon being dubbed Beetlemania is playing out in northern Arizona.

As can be expected, it involves rock music. But instead of screaming fans, there are cheering scientists who have found a way to drive bark beetles crazy with sound.

In a Northern Arizona University School of Forestry lab, researchers are listening to the sound of western forests under attack: the scratching, scraping, crunching of the Ips bark beetle and its cousins chewing the life out of ponderosa, pinyon and lodgepole pines.

Armed with sonic bullets, they are firing back with Rush Limbaugh, Queen, Guns N' Roses and manipulated sounds of the bugs themselves.

That's right! They're using Lush Rimbaugh as a weapon!
Kinda scary, actually...
"I thought, 'What would be the nastiest, most offensive sound?' To me, that would be Rush Limbaugh or heavy metal," McGuire said.
They blasted the beetles with Rush Limbaugh commentary played backwards.

Lush played that even legal?

A Couple More Blogroll Additions

OK, it's a day late (I had something like a real life for parts of yesterday), but here are a couple more additions:
Hemmingford Dog Blog (Sweaterman should enjoy this one).

Go say "hi!"

And while "blogroll amnesty day" may be over, I'm always open to welcoming others to my 'roll.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Iranian Space Turtles

I'm sure that someone in the neocon crowd (Daniel Pipes?) will see this as an excuse for another war, but the Iranian's have a "space turtle" program:

PARIS — In what seemed designed as a display of technological advance, Iran said on Wednesday that it had fired a rocket into space carrying living organisms — a rat, two turtles and worms, according to the state-run Press TV.

Along with a rat and worms! My immediate reaction was "has anybody told PETA about this?"
Because the thought of a smackdown between PETA and Ahmadinjad is something I'd find quite entertaining.

Flooding the Big Ditch

As a sometimes canyon boatman, I'm quite interested in the result of the 2008 flooding experiment. Well, the results are in, and they're a mix of positive and negative:

The experimental flood of March 2008 in the Grand Canyon has yielded two main findings: The high water worked well in building sandbars as hoped, but they weren't lasting.

The flood released twice as much water as normal down the Colorado River for 60 hours that spring, and it created large stockpiles of sand that had accumulated in a few major tributaries.

Researchers with a branch of the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff say the flood was successful in expanding the sandbars used by river runners for camping, which also form backwaters that possibly help young and endangered fish survive.

It's something of a hot issue because these beaches have been shrinking in recent years, and vegetation has been spreading over much of what remains, making camping less available.

"By October 2008, six months after the high-flow experiment, the new sandbars had been largely eroded by typical fluctuating-flow dam operations," researchers wrote in a brief paper.

Releases from the dam are increased and decreased, within limits, to meet hydropower demands from customers in six states.

The bigger question is whether the Colorado River system through the Grand Canyon can be kept static or gain sand instead of continuing to lose its beaches and sandbars.

"It may not be possible to rebuild and maintain sandbars over the long run solely through the manipulation of Glen Canyon Dam operations," the researchers posit in a fact sheet on the subject.

That's because about 90 percent of all sand that once flowed through the Canyon now winds up behind Glen Canyon Dam, said Ted Melis, deputy chief of the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center at USGS.

Similar to the results of the flooding of 1996 and 2004, the benefits are only temporary. Which points to the need to repeat the floodings in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem in the Grand Canyon.

And I'm hoping to get my raft there this spring for a personal inspection.

Amnesty in Action

To kick off "blogroll amnesty day", I've made some additions. While it's not strictly in keeping with Skippy's goal of linking to smaller blogs (hey, we're pretty small ourselves), they're all blogs I find well worth reading. So, go say "hello" to:



Cheyanne's Campsite


Just An Earth-Bound Misfit

Salmon Alley

Slobber And Spittle


unrepentant old hippie

Zandar Versus The Stupid

And if you have a blog that you'd like me to include, either leave a link in the comment or email me. Link to me, and I'll link to you (caveat: except strictly commercial spam blogs. I don't play that game), it's really that simple.

Added: and please feel free to visit the rest of the fine folks on the 'roll. Mustn't forget all the old friends.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I haven't posted in awhile folks. I would, but I am continually harrassed by a belligerent, co-dependent dinosaur. It really sucks. You have no idea.
Really, a creature belonging to the early jurassic era or something gamboled into my life by way of a time vortex disguised as a dumpster. Taking out the trash would never be the same again.
"What kind of dinosaur is it?" you might ask. Well, this is difficult to answer, but let us start out with a physical summation- oh but I should point out that I named this creature Noam (longtime pygalgia readers know all this so yooz skip the next few paragraphs) and I know it is female not only for its timeless indefatigueable plain ornery bitchiness when being ignored but for its propensity to moan, when I scratch her scaly belly, like something from under the skirts of Aphrodite herself.
Noam is about the size of a dorm fridge when relaxed. Bigger than a Yugo when flustered. I have seen my dear dinosaur Noam truly pissed, a few times, I'm sorry to say, and in this state she grows so prodigious that she would dwarf the commercial dumpster where we first met.
Scales, of course. Zillions of them, each shaped like a guitar-player's plectrum, ranging in color to platinum, jade, carnelian, lapis, dun, according to mood. Quadrepedal when chasing ice-cream trucks (Noam''s favorite diversion) But whenever I play Gordon Lightfoot songs she dances about on her hind legs and tries(miserably) to sing along. So obviously this dinosuar is not a dumbass. She moves like a cat that thinks it's a crocodile and wants to know what you have been reading lately.
Once Noam actually caught up with an ice-cream truck. This naughty dinosaur devoured everything from the sugar cones to the ball bearings. She ate the poor fellow trying to sell ice-cream that day. He didn't deserve that.
Noam was morose and remorseful that day, puking bits of ice-cream-truck-tires, human femurs, strawberry ice cream and the like. (Apparently certain modern ice cream trucks exude a scent appropriating some jurassic pheremone Noam loses all composure for)
"Noam! That was pretty fucked up- eating that ice-cream--truck! BAD DINOSAUR!"
Noam replies, swinging her giant rippling peladon neck, "WHHAGGGHHHHHHH."

So I always try getting rid of Noam but she always somehow shows up again. Hey, did I mention that my pet dinosaur's favorite food is books?
A very expressive and indolently charming creature (such eyes!) Noam is currently out back perched upon a snowbank munching through a stack of National Geographics I brought her. When Noam The Dinosaur comes across an issue involving saurians of her age, the entire house, and maybe town, rock with her paens of anguish "WHHAGGGHHHHHHH!"
Poor thing.


Tomorrow, feb. 3 is traditionally blogroll amnesty day here in blogtopia, (and yes, skippy coined that phrase!) and I was overdue to review the blogroll anyway. So here's an open invitation: you link to me, I link to you (unless you're a strictly commercial spam blog); it's that simple. either leave a link in the comments or email me. I'd be happy to share my 40 or so readers with you.


Three years ago today, I started this humble little blog. I'd been reading, and commenting on, other blogs for several years prior, and I decided that I wanted one of my own. Nothing major, but a small soapbox where I could espouse my opinions, and share assorted things that amused or interested me. And Boobies. The internet needed more Boobies.
Three years, and 1,575 posts, aren't all that much, but according to "sitemeter" they've led to almost 35,000 "views", which is a lot more than I ever would have expected.

One of the major motivating factors was politics. The gross criminality of the shrub administration kept me in perpetual outrage, and I needed to vent sometimes. Not that I expected my little screeds to have any real impact. Let's face it; nobody in power cares what small, liberal blogs have to say. But, like screaming "theater" at a crowded fire, it feels good to have your viewpoint validated by its mere existence in the ether.
While the shrub administration is gone (thank chosen deity), the reasons for complaining and ranting are not. We still have a dysfunctional government that is failing its citizens, and there's plenty of causes for outrage to feed the blogging fever. So I have every intention of continuing the expression my 'very important' opinions here. And I'm sure that they'll continue to make not a damned bit of difference. Which is probably as it should be.

More importantly, I really want to thank you, my readers, for stopping by to read and sometimes comment on my little piece of the intertubes. Thanks to my co-bloggers (who I really do wish would post more), and to all the wonderful blogs who link to here. If I could, I'd love to have a beer with all of you! Consider this a virtual toast of thanks to you all!

Varmint Weather

The annual ritual harassment of Punxsutawney Phil reveals that Winter will, again, last until Spring. This is, apparently, news.

Our culture has some strange customs.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Happened to be watching the TV news, something I don't do very often. A long story on the Toyota recall, followed by a commercial by the local Toyota dealership's "huge inventory blowout sale."
Timing is everything.

Local Pic

The local college newspaper caught this one; two girls kissing in front of a street preacher. The irony amused me.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

But it Would Have Made Such Great Comedy

I realize that there are more important things in politics than my amusement, but I was slightly saddened to read this: "Steele Rules Out 2012 White House Run". The thought of a Michael Steele presidential campaign was enough to make me laugh, as long as he was no where near winning (that would be scary, not funny). Oh well, I'm sure he'll continue to provide humor even if he's not a candidate.

A Correction

Earlier this week, I put up a post on the news that it would soon be legal to import haggis. NPR is now reporting that the news report was in error, and that (thank goodness) it's still illegal to import haggis.
So I am happy to retract my prior post. I may be a very small, humble blogger, but I do have my ethical standards, damn it!
(I do still reserve the right to be wildly off-base in my opinions, however.)