Saturday, November 29, 2008

Explaining Science with Interpretive Dance

Oh, yeah. Check out some of the winners here. To quote the Science Now article:
Six weeks ago, the Gonzo Scientist challenged researchers around the world to interpret their Ph.D. research in dance form, film the dance, and share it with the world on YouTube (Science, 10 October, p. 186). By the 11 p.m. deadline this past Sunday, 36 dances--including solo ballet and circus spectacle--had been submitted online. A panel of nine judges--the three winners of the first "Dance Your Ph.D." contest, three scientists from Harvard University, and three artistic directors of the dance company Pilobolus--scored the dances on their ability to bridge the art and science worlds. Today, ScienceScience Dance Contest in four categories

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Oooo, rantpuppets. is wayyy cool--AND its Canadian! This guy is entirely Canadian, from his pride that our national animal is an outdated euphemism for female genitalia, to  his pride that many of the shining lights of the entertainment industry are from Canada--even though they've abandoned the country. Oh hell, just listen to a rantpuppet and discover the joy for yourself. here's "Proud to be Canadian."

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Haven't Met Him Yet....

But apparently guys like this are getting to be more common in local waters. This elephant seal washed up in Departure Bay in Naniamo.

(photo linked from CBC website)

The condition of the corpse (the 4 metre, 2000 kilo corpse) suggests that this guy died from being hit by a large ship. Check out the CBC story here.

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Didn't hear it last night?

Well, here's Stephen Colbert's "Another Christmas Song"! Nice change from environmental issues....

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Well fucking 'Duh'

I mean, really. Who actually thought that the Alberta government and the Harper feds really wanted to do anything other than piss around the problem of CO2 emissions? Harper's "cap and store" proposals are nothing more than an attempt to look like he's doing something without actually doing anything to disrupt Alberta's fountain of dirty money. And both governments  have committed dollars to a plan they have to know is really crap. the CBC is reporting that:

CBC News has obtained a government document that says reducing greenhouse gases from Western Canada's oilsands will be much more difficult than some politicians and the industry suggest.

The ministerial briefing notes, initially marked "Secret," say that just a small percentage of the carbon dioxide released in mining the sands and producing fuel from them can be captured.

The oilsands are the fastest-growing source of CO2 in the country, set to increase from five per cent to 16 per cent of total emissions by 2020 under current plans.

These two batches of liars and dissemblers have committed upwards of $2.5-billion to carbon capture --allegedly to address the problem of the oilsands. They have committed this money knowing that it won't work, but the architects of the plans will be long gone by then, and the oil industry will be well satisfied that they've managed to maximize profits while ensuring they do nothing about environmental issues. 

This bullshit is the reason we're all going to die. Seriously. International corporate control of our so-called democracies ensures that the public interest comes last, while profit maximization triumphs.

Capture and storage may work with coal-fired plants (but notice the pr work being done by big coal in the US to position themselves as "clean")--the lead author of the study, David Keith, says as much: "[Keith] says he's frustrated that politicians and the industry keep focusing
on the oilsands when there are sources of greenhouse gases to capture
more easily and at less cost, including coal-fired power plants. Rational people shouldn't focus on reducing emissions in the oilsands through carbon capture and storage."

Well, that just points out that we don't have rational people in positions of power. We have purchased politicians. Damn it, but this pisses me off. You can find the CBC report here. The ministerial briefing notes are here (link is to a .pdf).

CBC Radio's Erik Denison speaks to host Jim Brown on the Calgary Eyeopener about the briefing documents at this RealMedia streaming link.(runs 6:29)

CBC Alberta has a big series about the oilsands here.

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The Elements of Library Research

The Elements of Library Research: What Every Student Needs To Know
Mary W. George
©2008 Princeton University Press
GVPL call number: 025.524 GEO

Yes, I read this for fun. The list on the left, Currently Inhabiting My Head, is simply a list of what I've been reading--all of it, except for magazine articles and newspapers. There are no novels for relaxation, or books of poetry hidden away. What you see on the list is my leisure reading.
So why read a book about doing research? I picked this up just to see what Ms. George had to say, and maybe to remind myself of some aspects of reading for information that I've forgotten. And its a good thing I did--this is a terrific book.
Mary George writes accessibly and well, this book intended to serve as a introduction to the library research paper for university and college freshmen. Although it would certainly serve the same function for bright high school students.
The book is fairly short--the main content runs about 144 pages, and then is followed by five appendices, a glossary, selected bibliography, and an index. But in those 144 pages, Ms. George builds a structure that should help take the fear out of writing a paper. Most importantly, she reiterates that professors and librarians not only will help direct and guide, but want to help. In my experience, she may not have emphasized this enough; reference librarians do what they do because they really love finding stuff out and want you to share that excitement.
Much of what Ms. George writes about are approaches to the library that I've so internalized that I would never have thought to mention them; such as looking at the books on either side of the one you were looking for in the stacks (because they are filed by subject and will likely contain information you want to know). On the other hand, she did remind me that I don't make sufficient use of the online databases available through our local library system. But most importantly, Ms. George expands on techniques for locating information. The few words she writes on George Boole and John Venn--and what they are remembered for (Boolean searching and Venn diagrams)--clarifies why Boolean searching works so well: the more terms you enter, the tighter the search results. Coupled with her explanations of more advanced search techniques (and the recommendation to ask the librarian for assistance) certainly pointed me in the direction of better research.
This is an excellent book. A quick read for those experienced in library research just, like me, looking to remind themselves of procedures and approaches they may have forgotten, and a useful reference for those new to serious library use.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sometimes They Come Back

When you leave in the morning, are you really sure you're going to come home that evening? With some lives, its that much harder to be certain. And then sometimes, almost like the hand of god, something happens and you catch a break in a day that would otherwise suck beyond belief.Sometimes, there's a boat.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

please enjoy dot com

Head on over to Ji Lee's website and check out his independent projects. This is the home of the bubble project, univers revolved, word as image (see below), and my favourite, Abstractor.
From the RISD website comes this brief bio:
"Born in Seoul, Korea, and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, Ji Lee currently works as an independent art director and designer in New York. He received a BFA from Parsons School of Design in 1995 and spent four years at Saatchi & Saatchi before setting out on his own. He has designed catalogues for museums including MoMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His own book, Univers Revolved, which illustrates his 3-D alphabet, was published by Harry Abrams in 2004 and was among the winners of the AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers Award. His work has been published in The New York Times and Wired,Talk Back, The Bubble Project."

image copyright Ji Lee. Image linked from

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Oooo, that Wanda Sykes

Monday, November 17, 2008

Yeah, That's What I Need

An interview with David Cassidy in The Telegraph. Especially one about his finances.

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The Oil Wars Continue

This time in Greece. Someone once said that "all wars are resource wars." Its difficult to disagree. Most of the US's adventurism is based on getting or maintaining free and unfettered access to resources in other countries. But other countries are in on the action....This is from Kathimerini.

Standoff with Turkish frigate off Kastellorizo

Athens on Saturday protested to Ankara over the presence of a Norwegian-flagged vessel believed to have been prospecting for oil off the coast of Kastellorizo, in the southeast Aegean, under the escort of a Turkish frigate.

The Foreign Ministry immediately complained to officials in Ankara and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis contacted her counterpart in Oslo.

A Hellenic Navy vessel intercepted the ships but the Norwegian vessel had not retreated by late yesterday.

According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos, the two vessels had been outside Greek territorial waters but in a region containing part of Greece’s continental shelf.

Turkey and Greece have long disagreed about the delineation of borders in the Aegean and nearly went to war over the issue in 1987 and 1996.

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Why I Read a Selection of Newspapers

Because you don't often see stories like this in the local press. This is from the Western Australian:

Simmering tensions mixed with alcohol have been blamed for Papua New Guinea's media night of nights turning into an all-in brawl.

The 2008 PNG Media Council awards ceremony on Saturday night erupted in a fight requiring Port Moresby hotel security to step in and pull apart scrapping guests.

The fight came late in the proceedings, after speeches on the importance of media freedom and accurate reporting.

...The media awards night was the culmination of a week-long Media Council program to raise industry standards.

Man, I love that last line....

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Whale Shark

Never seen a guy so excited about whale shark poo. No, seriously.

Dr Meekan, who is based at the Darwin office of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, was followed by the Natural World team as he has carried out his research on these mysterious fish.

He said: "It does seem rather weird, someone being so excited about seeing whale shark poo. And I'm pretty certain that this is the first time it has been filmed.

"But it is pretty rare - they are usually doing their business down in much deeper water."

He described the faeces that the team collected as "scientific gold".

The BBC website has a report including both the footage of the whale shark taking a dump (Woo! That made my morning!) as well as footage of the attachment of a camera to the shark. I found it interesting when Dr. Meekan says "there's a number of behaviours I can't explain." Like the whale shark doing a tail-stand and sinking into the ocean. What is up with that?

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

O Rose, thou art sick

From Amy Goodman's latest column:

"When Frederick Douglass, the renowned abolitionist, was young, he was enslaved on a plantation on Maryland's Eastern Shore, called Mount Misery, owned by Edward Covey, a notorious "slave breaker." There, physical and psychological torture were standard. That property, today, is owned by Donald Rumsfeld, the former secretary of defense who was one of the key architects of the U.S. military's program of torture and detention."

You know, I don't doubt that one had something to do with the other....

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oz on the Front Lines

Australia is really on the front lines of the global warming disaster. They are being forced into taking steps to maintain services like water delivery in the face of climate change, but still are lagging when it comes to changing the root cause of it: the use of fossil fuels.
Also from IPS

Harvesting Stormwater as Drought Bites Hard
By Stephen de Tarczynski

MELBOURNE, Nov 12 (IPS) - With large parts of southern and eastern Australia enduring an ongoing drought, the regional centre of Orange -- some 260 km west of the nation’s largest city, Sydney -- is developing Australia’s first scheme to harvest stormwater in order to service the town’s requirements.

"It’s designed initially as an emergency response because there was no other alternative source of water for us that we could get access to quickly," says Orange council’s director of technical services, Chris Devitt.

He told IPS that while the Blackmans Swamp Creek Stormwater Harvesting project offers a "fairly quick solution" to Orange’s water crisis -- the town’s two reservoirs are currently at 40.5 percent capacity, up from a low of 27 percent in early September following seasonal rains -- the council wants the program to become a permanent fixture to help drought-proof the town.

And such provisions may well be required, with Orange hitherto relying solely on surface water run-off to rural catchments.

A statement on the drought issued Nov.5 by the Bureau of Meteorology’s National Climate Centre (NCC) implied that drought-like conditions will become the norm rather than the exception as the effects of climate change take hold.

"The combination of record heat and widespread drought during the past five to ten years over large parts of southern and eastern Australia is without historical precedent and is, at least partly, a result of climate change," said the NCC.

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More On The Census of Marine Life

This is by Stephen Leahy and comes from the Inter Press Service website--though you'd think at least one Canadian news service would carry the story....

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Nov 11 (IPS) - A thousand points of light are being shone into the dark ocean depths as scientists from 82 countries work to complete the decade-long global research effort called the Census of Marine Life.

"It's been a remarkable time of exciting new discoveries and frightening revelations of how quickly the oceans are changing," said Canadian deep-sea biologist Paul Snelgrove, a leader of a team integrating findings from all 17 census projects.

"We were startled to discover small crustaceans never seen by scientists before completely blanketing the seafloor at 500 metres in the Gulf of Mexico," Snelgrove told IPS.

And during the eight years the census has run so far, scientists have documented that more than 90 percent of the oceans' top predators -- large sharks, tunas, swordfish, cod and others -- are now gone and those remaining are in serious trouble. "We're also seeing evidence of climate change with the shifting distribution of species," he said.

I recommend reading the rest of the article.

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Breath Samples From Whales

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | How do you breathalyse a whale?

Gotta say, this is kinda cool. How do you get a breath sample from a whale? Well, you use a helicopter. The Beeb's new series Oceans has the gang on board a ship in the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California) taking what seem to be non-invasive breath samples from sperm whales. Overall, they manage to get samples from about 60 whales--and additional samples from another 40 whales of various species off Gibraltar. The most telling moment in the excerpt, for me, is when the presenter says that some of the microbes captured in the spray may have been transmitted to the whales from humans--likely whale-watching humans.

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World will struggle to meet oil demand

Output from the world’s oilfields is declining faster than previously thought, the first authoritative public study of the biggest fields shows.

Without extra investment to raise production, the natural annual rate of output decline is 9.1 per cent, the International Energy Agency says in its annual report, the World Energy Outlook, a draft of which has been obtained by the Financial Times.

The findings suggest the world will struggle to produce enough oil to make up for steep declines in existing fields, such as those in the North Sea, Russia and Alaska, and meet long-term de­mand. The effort will become even more acute as prices fall and investment decisions are delayed.

This from the Financial Times Published: October 28 2008 23:32

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Worst. President. Ever.

CNN and Opinion research Corporation released a survey Monday that shows that outgoing US President George W. Bush has now reached unprecedented levels of unpopularity--he is now more unpopular than Richard Nixon was when he resigned. Bush's disapproval rating has now gone over 70% three times this year--no other president has ever gone over 70%. Nixon was resigning from office in disgrace and was still more popular than the shrub. Heckuva job, Georgie.

Presidential Popularity
% DisapprovalDate
G.W. Bush 76Nov. 2008
Clinton54Sept. 1994
G.H.W. Bush60July 1992
Reagan56Jan. 1983
Carter59June 1979
Ford46April, Nov., Dec. 1975
Nixon66August 1974
Johnson52March, Aug. 1968
Kennedy30Nov. 1963
Eisenhower36March 1958
Truman67Jan. 1952

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction

Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction
Charles Townshend
2002, Oxford University Press
GVPL call number: 303.625 TOW

Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction by Charles Townshend, is a dispassionate overview of a political process that generates some of the deepest fears and excesses of emotion. And this from a series of actions that “...can in principle be minimal. Even in Israel, it has been pointed out, the fatalities and injuries to Israeli citizens from terrorist attacks since the 1967 war would barely deserve a separate line in the national mortality and morbidity statistics if their significance were purely quantitative.”¹

The question of just what is terrorism is one that seems to defy actual definition. As Townshend points out, “efforts to get to grips with terrorism have repeatedly been hung up on the issue of definition, of distinguishing terrorism from criminal violence or military action.” This problem with definitions is summed up by Edward Peck, former U.S. Chief of Mission in Iraq (under Jimmy Carter) and ambassador to Mauritania:

In 1985, when I was the Deputy Director of the Reagan White House Task Force on Terrorism, they asked us — this is a Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism; I was the Deputy Director of the working group — they asked us to come up with a definition of terrorism that could be used throughout the government. We produced about six, and each and every case, they were rejected, because careful reading would indicate that our own country had been involved in some of those activities. […] After the task force concluded its work, Congress got into it, and you can google into U.S. Code Title 18, Section 2331, and read the U.S. definition of terrorism. And one of them in here says — one of the terms, “international terrorism,” means “activities that,” I quote, “appear to be intended to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.” […] Yes, well, certainly, you can think of a number of countries that have been involved in such activities. Ours is one of them. Israel is another. And so, the terrorist, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.²

Townshend points out that while “state definitions simply assume that the use of violence by 'subnational groups' (as the US Department of State's definition has it) is automatically illegal. In the state's view, only the state has the right to use force—it has, as academics tend to say, a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.” ³ But the most prolific use of terror is by the state against its own people. Where terrorist acts by non-state actors would, with the exception of the attack of the World Trade Centers in 2001, “ barely deserve a separate line in the national mortality and morbidity statistics,” terror practised by the Peron regime in the 1970s (sponsored and supported by the US), killed between 10,000 and 30,000 of its own citizens. “This regime involved a definite shift form the traditional terrorism of the shock groups—primarily assassination—to a large scale campaign to root out 'subversion'. Its breadth stemmed from the characteristically broad notion of subversion held by military officers: general Videla defined as a terrorist 'not just someone with a gun or a bomb, but also someone who spreads ideas that are contrary to Western and Christian civilization'.”4 This is an example of what is referred to as “white terror” — reactionary or right-wing terror that is characteristically pro-state.

While Townshend provides an overview of the political goals of terrorism (he defines the elements of the terror process as 1. Seizing attention: shock, horror, fear or revulsion 2. Getting the message: what do terrorists want? And 3. Fight or flight? — the response), he makes note of the fact that terror is really a spent force politically. Terror generally fails to have any effect on politics—unless it is state-sponsored terror (as in the example of Argentina, above, where it has a chilling effect on society and the body politic). Recent terror organizations in the West, such as Weather Underground, Red Army Faction, or even the IRA, have failed in any of their attendant goals, with the exception of the “sacralization of violence”, the “purity” of action over talk. Terror must be a component part of a larger political and transformational movement, it cannot and does not succeed on its own.

Even religious terrorist groups—almost unknown before 1980, but comprising nearly a third of terrorist organizations by 1994—have a difficult time communicating their aims to those they wish to terrorize. The attacks on the World Trade Centers have been explained as having been “intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat”(President G.W. Bush) or “they hate us because we elect our leaders” (special counsellor to the President Karen Hughes). As Townshend says;

“Retreat from what, or where? American commentators, both official and unofficial, showed a marked reluctance to accept the fairly well-established view that Osama bin Laden's primary casus belli against the USA was the defilement of Saudi Arabia by the presence of US troops....Even if bin Laden or the shadowy al-Qaida had issued a statement of specific demands, in such a climate of interpretation it would quite likely not have been believed. ”5

Townshend also looks at the responses of the State to violence by non-state actors, and concludes that in fact terrorists are quite correct on one point: often terrorist acts emphasize and increase fascist or anti-democratic actions n the part of the government. He specifically cites both American and British actions since the attacks on the World Trade Centers in 2001 as examples, and discusses what this means for democracies and their responses to violence.

At the end of the day, this proves to be—as so many of the Very Short Introductions have proven to be—an essential read before one can reasonably discuss a given topic. I found the book to be quite free of cant or axe-grinding (although I trust many state actors in both the Bush and Blair administrations would disagree, as Townshend sees no basis in fact or evidence in reality for many of their claims), and at 139 pages of text (less endnotes, further reading, and index), proves to be very information dense for a book so reasonable in length.

1: Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction, Charles Townshend, 2002, Oxford University Press p. 15

2: retrieved 03 June 2008

3: Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction, Charles Townshend, 2002, Oxford University Press pp. 3-5

4: Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction, Charles Townshend, 2002, Oxford University Press p. 47

5: Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction, Charles Townshend, 2002, Oxford University Press p. 9

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

More about the Wackaloon

So I'm sitting here thinking "WTF?" a lot the past couple of days. Sarah Palin is being savaged by her own people for the fair and balanced ass-kicking Americans handed McCain a few days ago. Hey, McCain picked a woman who (it is alleged by Fox News) didn't know Africa was a continent and not a country, that she couldn't name any of the members of NAFTA (as Jon Stewart put it, "there's us, gay us (pointing overhead) and the burrito place (pointing down)), and thought the US was at war with Iran. But according to Fox News' Carl Cameron (who broke this), they couldn't report on this because "it was off the record until after the election." To quote:

CAMERON: There was great concern in the McCain campaign that Sarah Palin lacked a degree of knowledgeability necessary to be a running mate, a vice president, and a heartbeat away from the presidency.

We are told by folks that she didn’t know what countries were in NAFTA — the North American Free Trade Agreement. That’d be Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. We’re told that she didn’t understand that Africa was a continent, rather than a series — a country just in itself. A whole host of questions that caused serious problems about her knowledgeability.

It should be pointed out that yes, Cameron did use the word "knowledgeability"--which should give rise to some concern over his own "intelligenceability." But more importantly, here is a woman who was supposed to have been vetted by the McCain campaign, who was one bad heart day away from the presidency should the ticket win, and Cameron couldn't find a way to bring out how woefully unprepared the VP nominee was? WTF? that is not just a story, but is essential information that citizens need to make a decision. To my mind, that is a firing offence, the kind of thing where you wind up in journalism courses under "bad decisions you really should avoid making." Look at Woodward and Bernstein--where information was "off the record", they pursued other sources until they could put the info on the record. To hide that kind of thing from the public, that's not journalism, that's being nothing more than a tool of a propaganda machine.
The post-election attacks on Palin, while perhaps deserved (the Wackaloon is, after all, pretty scary as a politician and human being), have, from the Right at least, taken on the worst of the anti-female rhetoric typical of the attacks on Hillary Clinton from the same sources.
Now, today in the Telegraph comes this report:

The Republican vice presidential candidate attracted criticism for accusing Mr Obama of "palling around with terrorists", citing his association with the sixties radical William Ayers.

The attacks provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling "terrorist" and "kill him" until the McCain campaign ordered her to tone down the rhetoric.

But it has now emerged that her demagogic tone may have unintentionally encouraged white supremacists to go even further.

The Secret Service warned the Obama family in mid October that they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of threats against the Democratic candidate, coinciding with Mrs Palin's attacks.

Now, I might argue a bit with the line "her demagogic tone may have unintentionally encouraged." I would suggest that there was nothing unintentional about it. This was the Wackaloon playing to the base. Hell, she may not have been playing--I suspect that the fear and anger she was playing to were in fact her own. McCain himself never seemed too comfortable playing the race card--perhaps because he actually knew Obama as a human being. But "[i]rate John McCain aides, who blame Mrs Palin for losing the election,
claim Mrs Palin took it upon herself to question Mr Obama's patriotism,
before the line of attack had been cleared by Mr McCain." (from the Telegraph article) Again, I hesitate to buy that argument, as that kind of attack has Lee Atwater and Karl Rove written all over it. I suspect that Palin was seen by the big fixers like Rove as the perfect weapon to get the campaign back in line with previous winning efforts (Willie Horton anyone?). My suspicion is that McCain was running the campaign more his way than the fixers liked, and that they grabbed at Palin as their chance to run a classical Republican hate campaign in tandem with McCain's. Worked too--Palin did fire up the base. At least until the "liberal media" began exposing her deep unreadiness for office.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Lusi

Image from the BBC website

The BBC is reporting that 74 leading geologists have concluded that the eruption of the Lusi, Indonesia, mud volcano was caused by oil and gas drilling, rather than an earthquake as claimed by the drilling company.
Lusi erupted in May 2006 and continues to spew out boiling mud, displacing around 30,000 people in East Java.

In Google maps, the big featureless area is the mud volcano. It has been erupting since May 2006, and the town around it it slowly subsiding into the slowly forming caldera. It is expected that the area around the volcano will drop up to 140 metres and it may take decades for the volcano to stop spewing mud.It appears that this volcano is well known among geologist (particularly, I would think, petroleum geologists), but seems to have been missed by the rest of us.

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Wackaloon from Wasilia

Seriously, she does look nuts as well as talk nuts. And I was watching her on CBC introducing her husband as "the First Dude." Really? First dude? That would make him John McCain's husband, which would shock Cindy McCain, I suspect. Best he could be is Second Dude, or Vice Dude, and where's the fun in that?
And ABC News is reporting the Wackaloon as saying (in an interview with WMAL-AM radio):

Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama's associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks. Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate's free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Chris Plante, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

This is, of course, exactly the opposite of what the First Amendment is about. The US press is supposed to call you on your bullshit--exactly what has been missing (with the occasional John Stewart exception) for the last eight years. And if your point is legit, then they are expected to say that as well.
But it is typical of the Amerikan Right that criticism is automatically assumed to be an attack on their constitutional rights. Their case seems to be that it is inherently unfair to criticize them. That the Bush II administration has been working as hard as it can to actually make criticism of the Amerikan government illegal seems to be a logical outgrowth of this whiney, pissy attitude among the divorced-from-reality Right.
This denial of reality, the development of what Stephen Colbert calls "truthiness" ("We're not talking about truth, we're talking about something that seems like truth – the truth we want to exist," Colbert explained. "It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that's not the case anymore.") on the Right, the attempt to convince the world that up is down, left is right, true is false, is what draws parallels to Goebbels, Hitler's Minister of Propaganda. (But as Chomsky et al. have pointed out, Goebbels got a lot of his ideas on the manufacturing of consent in the public from the American Walter Lippmann).
So when the Wackaloon from Wasalia gets into the act, trying to generate a reality more to her liking than the one she's forced to inhabit (~"I never supported earmarks. Or the Bridge to Nowhere. I don't abuse power."~), she is absolutely in the mainstream of Amerikan thinking. It's as if the ability to reinvent oneself--long an Amerikan tradition and a valuable one--has been extended to reinventing reality to a more congenial version. This kind of magical thinking leads to national obsessions like fascism and empire--as Amerika parallels Nazi Germany in the rise of fascist thought and over-reaching into empire based on the belief in the intrinsic unworthiness of the enemy.

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