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Monday, November 08, 2010
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November 1, 2010
Be thankful for the American form of government. It responds slowly to demands for change, which is better than the cases of whiplash I see in Europe.
Michael Marmot had a comment about the proposal to increase the retirement age: "if the retirement age is set at 68 in years to come, as is planned, 75% of the population will still be prevented from working or curtailed in what they can do by ill health." See <http://tinyurl.com/2uptmru>. I don't know the direction of causation in this.
Changes to UK child benefit programme are 'unenforceable' <http://tinyurl.com/392lx2x>
UK Government claims on housing benefit programme appear to be untrue. <http://tinyurl.com/38twwn6>
NICE to lose powers to ban drugs as too expensive. <http://tinyurl.com/34way9a>
Teenaged girls executed by Islamist firing squad in Somalia for passing information to the government. <http://tinyurl.com/2g457jg>
UK universities get power to raise fees to £9000. Not high enough to make the new arrangements affordable for the universities, but high enough to discourage the poor from attending university. <http://tinyurl.com/33jjtee> Commentary: <http://tinyurl.com/2uql4pp>
If we knew what it was we were
doing, it would not be called research, would it? (Albert Einstein)
Harry Erwin PhD
The Religion of Peace in Somalia
Dear Jerry, I would say that to some extent Reich has a point. Large corporations, particularly multinationals and those that benefit by special taxation, subsidies, regulations, government contracts and other interference in the free market ought to be worried. The Tea Party itself, the movement, not any specific organization, has a large component of entrepreneurs and small business owners. These are the people who will benefit by conservative/libertarian policies. Admittedly there may be some protectionist elements, but I have not heard of much.
50M years ago, were plants and animals hitching rides between continents with someone or something?
-- Roland Dobbins
This is probably a bit less serious than the dark matter post I sent you last week, but maybe just a little bit more fun. Godzilla's fiery radioactive breath comes from a plasma gland. But on the other hand, Godzilla's mass is sufficient to "crush his articular cartilege caps like over-ripe water-melons". So the world is safe.
Destroy all Monsters!
Hard Times for Bureaucrats
You know the bureaucracy is in hard times when even their little plexi glass dividers don't make them feel safe:
BDAB, Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo
"There are 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. At the very most, about 100 of those seats are actually "in play" – meaning that they have a chance to change hands."
"Over the past five elections, incumbents have been
re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives at an average rate of 96
But of course it works. Legislators build themselves safe districts, or, as with young Goldwater, move their districts out from under them. Barry Goldwater Jr began in Burbank and by the time they got through with him he was representing seal lions off Point Dume. Eldridge Gerry understood it all very well indeed. (For those who don't know, Founding Father Governor Eldridge Gerry had an oddly shaped district; someone observed that it looked like a salamander, and it was instantly proclaimed a "Gerrymander.")
: Here we have an interesting one
A police officer, on duty, on patrol in his beat, in uniform, stops in at the early voting site in his beat. The election judge refuses to allow him to vote unless he first surrenders his weapon. There is apparently absolutely nothing in Maine law that supports the election judge's position.
I don't know about Bangor, but most places I've heard of REQUIRE police officers to be armed at ALL times, whether on OR OFF duty. (The rationale is that a police officer is never really "off duty".)
When I was briefly a University of Washington campus policeman I was legally a State of Washington peace officer, and we were assumed to be police at all times by law; but the Campus Chief told us to ignore that and not to go armed to classes, the regulation applied to the full time officers, not the part timers who tended to be from the psychology department...
“We could be living inside that 3-D projection, with the truer vision of it as a 2-D sheet hidden by scale.”
- Roland Dobbins
In the "gotta see this" category, Sears has been taken over by zombies.
Man are those ugly advertisements!
War World: War At The Top Of The World,
War World update: the Chinese are getting prepared for another Tibetan uprising. ". . . two years ago, when there was an uprising in Tibet. Many of the troops sent in soon fell ill from altitude sickness. The acclimatization training detects those troops who would get ill quickly, and the worst of these are kept closer to sea level. The Chinese also have to deal with the fact that much of their frontier areas are covered with mountains and hills, averaging 3,000 meters (9,300 feet) in height. Training in Tibet gets the paratroopers ready to operate in all these areas." <snip> "Chinese troops operating at the highest altitudes (4,500 meters, on the Indian border) now have access <http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htlead/articles/20101031.aspx> to exercise rooms (one of 1,000 square meters and another of 3,000 square meters) that are supplied with an oxygen enriched atmosphere. Troops exercising in these rooms increase the oxygen in the blood, and are much less likely to get hit with a case of altitude sickness. Thus the troops can stay in shape without getting sick. For border patrols at high altitudes, troops usually carry oxygen bottles and breathing masks."<snip> Much more:
Stepping back a moment from the immediate difficulties of working in high altitudes, one sees again the seriousness with which the Chinese military approaches preparedness. As usual, quite sobering.
New Molecule Functions as "Heat Battery", Could Boost Solar Power,
Seems that energy storage is a big deal. Now we have New Molecule Functions as "Heat Battery:"
"Could Boost Solar Power" says the headline.
Well, it's a start.
November 2, 2010
By STEVEN D. LEVITT <http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/author/steven-d-levitt/>
Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of school buses that
are yellow everywhere except for the roof. I was perplexed as to why.
According to this nearly 20-year-old New York Times article <http://www.nytimes.com/
This 10-degree difference in temperature sounds preposterous to me. Yellow and white just don’t seem very different in terms of heat absorption.
Are there any scientists among our blog readers who can do some back of the envelope calculations to determine whether white-roofed buses would actually be noticeably cooler?
The above from the Freakanomics Column in the New York Times
A quick Google on "reflectivity" convinces me that it's well worth painting the roofs of school busses white. And see below
"If only 1 percent of it or 10 percent of what the skeptics say is right, that is time well spent because we have just been too encumbered by groupthink."
-- Roland Dobbins
What 'Made in China' really means.
-- Roland Dobbins
But think of the charity of shipping your job over there so you can cut out carbon footprint.
Pavel Morozov would be proud.
--- Roland Dobbins
I save you the trouble: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavlik_Morozov My first thought was, so would Goebbels, but it wasn't Goebbles who encouraged German children to denounce their parents to the Gestapo..
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
November 3, 2010
Subj: Bill Whittle launches "Declaration Entertainment"
I mostly enjoyed Bill Whittle's "Afterburner" on pjtv.com. (He had a few annoying speech-patterns and seemed to make an occasional excursion off into Black Helicopter Land, but his explications of American history and conservative philosophy were solid.)
Now he's launched something new:
Who has the movie rights to _Birth of Fire_ and _Exile to Glory_?
The spirit of "Afterburner" seems to be reincarnated on the "FireWall", focused initially on the TEA parties.
Cameron bought an option on Birth of Fire with a view to making a Mars movie, but then he decided to do Avatar, and the option expired. Pity. He'd have made a good movie of it, and it would have been a good movie story. Possibly not up to the Avatar sales. No one so far has shown any interest in Exile; hard sf space exploration/exploitation doesn't seem to be currently popular as a movie theme.
Painting a school bus white (in IR) at least in the normal parts of the USA makes a lot of sense. It is occupied during the sunlit portion of the day.
Painting a dwelling roof may be a bit more ambiguous. You'll reflect more heat during the day but also radiate less heat at night. I suspect that money would be better spent on radiant barriers and insulation.
Regarding the yellow vs. white issue one thing to consider is that just because it is a light color in visible light does not mean that it is reflective in IR.
In most cases, radiating less heat at night is not a problem. It depends on air temperatures at night and what you do about ventilation. Romans in Tunisia made ice cream -- well, sherbet -- in the desert by building a fairly deep straw-lined pit, well insulated from the ground, with removable straw palette lid which was put in place before dawn and not removed until total dark at night. The palette lid was covered with highly reflective shields. At night the pit was exposed to the night skies which have a very low radiant environment; heat radiates away at night, and is reflected away in daytime. Ice forms in a few days. It's a labor intensive way to make cool, but there is a lesson in there.
re: White topped patrol cars
In the early 1960s, perhaps before, the Army and Air Force studied the effect of a white roof on security patrol vehicles, a.k.a. "cop cars."
In sunny hot climates it was noted that interior temps were reduced by as much as 10 degrees...with the windows closed?
Therefore, in 1963 at Ft Huachuca, AZ, our police patrol sedans all had white tops...and drove around with the windows closed?
Later, in 1969, it was popular for folks buying cars in climates like Dallas, TX, to have a white car because it was cooler and required less air conditioning...today, we'd say it was a "green" decision although it was touted back then as a reduction in parasitic horsepower demand yielding a higher performance vehicle...:-) We bought our first big car and it was a white Olds!
It appears that those learnings have been forgotten...along with a lot of other neat stuff.
steven, PhD, physicist
I had a hard time reading it. I'm pretty smart. This tells me too things. One, writing today is too lax and simplistic. Two, the school system not only failed my generation, but has progressively failed every succeeding generation. To put that in today's common terms, this sucks.
Many colleges consider The Federalist Papers to be too difficult to include in undergraduate non-major classes. They were, of course, originally letters to the editors of newspapers, intended for the general literate population. Were it my choice, I'd assign them in high schools, but I suspect that is unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment in today's courts.
Here's the word on UK university fees
See <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11677862> . £9,000/year is about $14,000/year. The average fee charged by US public universities to residents in 2009 was about $7,000/year.
-- Harry Erwin
Political math -
I am such an innocent, ok, I get it. But I have a question: Why are winners declared with ony 25% of the votes counted?
I figure you know if anyone does.
Building that kind of predictive model is not terribly difficult. One has to take account of which votes are counted earliest, and weight those votes accordingly; then look at trends. It's possible to build a time series model for each congressional district and each state, that takes account of where the early votes come from, and predict trends. Those models are getting better all the time, but they will never be perfect.
In some districts they do NOT attempt to call the election until fairly late and a lot of the vote is in.
November 4, 2010
This is about science, great engineering and more science. It's Dead Spacecraft Walking:
I love it. Maybe I'm a nerd, but I find this stuff really exciting.
And I found this from 2008
NASA - A Giant Breach in Earth's Magnetic Field,
This story is about how a satellite found a huge hole in our magnetosphere:
But that's not why I sent you the story. Here's why: " Researchers at the University of New Hampshire are using computer models to unravel the basic physics of the great breach. They're finding that reconnection at the poles is key. Conventional wisdom held that equatorial reconnection was more important, which is why the giant breaches were not anticipated until THEMIS flew through one."
As usual, the scientific consensus blinded them until they had incontrovertible data.
Data sure wrecks a lot of elegant theories. Fortunately it generates more in an actual scientific community. "Gee -- that's funny..."
November 5, 2010
I went out to Niven's today, to hike in the Santa Susanna mountains.
November 6, 2010
I took the day off.
|This week:||Sunday, November
The mystery of England's 2000-year-old headless gladiators.
--- Roland Dobbins
: Presidential travel
The 3 most prominent Black Americans in the 20th century are Martin Luther King, Malcom X, and Barack Obama. Given how the other two wound up, wouldn't you take precautions?
Of course I would take precautions. Note that Truman's house was shot up by insurgents who killed two guards; next day Truman took his walk through Washington, saying when told of the risk, "Comes with the job." Since that time a great deal of security has become more routine. But the size of the entourage is not just dictated by security. Obama was not in an open car driving straight away from a Book Depository in Los Angeles or Seattle.
This is not to say that Obama approves of the size of the fuss. And of course whoever is in charge will take no chances. The question remains: is the President of the United States more in danger than the Premier of Russia or the President of Iran? If so, is that a matter to be considered in adjusting foreign policy? Or are we the only Great Power? The President of China does not go with such a large entourage.
I am not begrudging Obama his security forces. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" stunt was hardly cheap. My question, and it is only a question, is do we want to appear imperial? And if we do, should we adjust policies to competent empire? At the moment it appears to be incompetent empire; and note I have used this term for the policies of the previous president, in fact several previous presidents.
'His Communism is quite unpolitical. He has never read a line of Karl Marx, nor of Engels of course.'
Pablo Picasso, Useful Idiot:
--- Roland Dobbins
-- Roland Dobbins
“Every dirty job has to be done by the police. Then you become a police state, because they have to deal with every problem."
-- Roland Dobbins
In re painting house roofs and/or bus/airplane upper sides white
Though it is not commonly remembered the practice seems to have originated with US airlines (I believe either United or TWA) in the 1940's when they introduced the first airconditioned airliners, if memory serves (it's been a while since I read this) the effect was a lowering of internal temperature on the order of 10° and sometimes more (I would assume this depends on the region and time of the day) which clearly translated in a fuel consumption benefit, especially for piston engined airliners such as the DC-4/6 and Constellations of the day.
The practice tended to fade with the advent of the later jets such as the 747 which had (after the mid 1970s) excess power and A/C capacity and thus did not need the help provided by a white top side, though it still makes economic sense to have it as it provides the same fuel savings as it did before...
In Re Presidential trips and the number of aircraft employed therein
Being an aircraft fan and due to the fact that Montevideo is what at best can be described as a sleepy place, I can say that in local estimates the total number of planes used in Pres Bush II's 2007 was well over 20, this included several C-5s and C-17s, at least two E-3s (some press reports said 4, it seems an exaggeration) , additional KC-135s for air refueling, Air Force One plus a back up, F-16s used as escort planes, etc. This does not count helicopters carried within the cargo planes, of which there were several. There was not enough flight line space to park them all here in Montevideo, they had to be repositioned at other fields including Punta del Este, Durazno and I believe Ezeiza in Argentina.
On top of that, if memory serves, there was a carrier battle group about 300 miles out in the Atlantic, it was either returning from or proceeding to the Indic Ocean.
So I'd guess that a panegyric was due at that time as well and that the concept holds no matter who's in power.
All the best
-- Ariel Fabius A/S CTS Analisis de Sistemas
: Where do tax dollars go? via Wall Street Journal
An interesting "itemized reciept" via the WSJ for where taxpayer dollars are going.
I added up the "total" military spending, including veterans benefits and health care, and it jumps to the top of the list at about 21% of the total . Legions are darned expensive. But, I also I wonder where our world economy would be with USA weapons procurement and so on. Would this recession be a depression, or would the money have been spent or saved elsewhere?
Have you seen this yet?
Pretty alarmist. Wonder if it's true?
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