A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Odds and Ends

Venus: A Lot of Hot Air

The common supposition that Venus is Really Hot because of the CO2 seems contraindicated.  It is the sheer weight of the atmosphere that heats things up down below.  Seems sunlight doesn't even penetrate the atmosphere deeply enough for the "greenhouse" effect to matter.  (No sunlight filtering in = no IR on the bounceback.)  The attached essay is interesting; and you can ignore the snipes at the AGW folks and mentally return to the days when science meant knowledge rather than political power.

Pack of Fools and  a Single Fool

Roger Ebert posted the following "tweet" regarding some kids in CA who were sent home from school because they wore US flag clothing to school on 5 May.

@ebertchicago Kids who wear American Flag T-shirts on 5 May should have to share a lunchroom table with those who wear a hammer and sickle on 4 July.

This led to a lot of sickos writing pure awfulness about Ebert's cancer and what it has done to his face.  Lost in the shuffle was Ebert's gratuitous insult to Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.  He in effect equated displays of the Mexican flag on a Mexican holiday with anti-Americanism.  To increase the irony quotient: 5 May marks the victory of the Mexicans against French forces (including the Legion); and the French withdrew from Mexico in part because the US post Civil War sent a mixed Union-Confederate force to the border and a note to Paris saying - "We've been a little busy over here with the Late Unpleasantness, but about the Monroe Doctrine....  We kinda, you know, meant it?"  So there is every reason to display an American flag on 5 May in support of the Mexicans.

Putting Things in Perspective
* BP Deepwater Horizon oil platform blowout (2010): 5,000 barrels per day; total unknown yet.  In comparison: 

* Santa Barbara Channel oil platform blowout (1969): 90,000 barrels off the California coast;
* Mega Borg tanker (1990): 121,400 barrels in the Gulf of Mexico off Galveston, TX;
* Exxon Valdez tanker (1989): 250,000 barrels along 1,300 miles of untouched Alaska shoreline;
* Ixtoc 1 oil platform blowout (1979): 3,500,000 barrels in Mexico’s Campeche Bay;
* Saddam Hussein oil field sabotage (1991): 857,000,000 barrels in Kuwait;
* Natural seeps in US waters: 1,119,000 barrels every year from natural cracks in the seafloor.

The Gulf blowout will need to continue uninterrupted for 18 days before it equals Santa Barbara. 
Since 1969, we have drilled over 50,000 wells in state waters and on the Outer Continental Shelf. There have been 13 losses of well control involving more than 50 barrels: five were less than 100 barrels apiece; one was a little over 1,000 barrels; two (both in 1970) involved 30,000 barrels or more. Only in Santa Barbara (so far) did significant amounts of oil reach shore and cause serious environmental damage.
That is 0.026% loss of control, in case you were counting.  Now, why are we drilling in deep water off the Gulf Coast?  Simple: it is illegal to drill in shallow water off the Atlantic or Pacific coasts, or near Florida. 

BTW, did everyone notice that the oil companies and the Coast Guard had all kinds of equipment staged and ready for such a disaster response?  It just took a while to get it out to deep water. 

A first hand account of the event can be found here:

The Sun is Again Spotless

The Spotless Sun
I can't be sure, but this image may update automatically!  Check tomorrow and see if it still says 2010/05/11 20:48

1 comment:

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