Archive for September, 2011

The spacecraft is feeding back all kinds of great data and the instruments are working nicely.

I didn’t see Cruel Wife very much that year of working at the UofM so it is a very pleasant payoff to see the instrument working so darned well… You. Have. No.  Idea. … how tickled I am that the UofM’s instrument is performing so fantastically well.  It was a tense and cranky year when I was there but this made it worthwhile…

This, from JHU-APL…  read the lava part, which is cool, but the really cool part is the exosphere part.


Orbital Observations of Mercury Reveal Flood Lavas, Hollows, and Unprecedented Surface Details

 After only six months in orbit around Mercury, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft is sending back information that has revolutionized the way scientists think about the innermost planet. Analyses of new data from the spacecraft show, among other things, new evidence that flood volcanism has been widespread on Mercury, the first close-up views of Mercury’s “hollows,” the first direct measurements of the chemical composition of Mercury’s surface, and the first global inventory of plasma ions within Mercury’s space environment.

The results are reported in a set of seven papers published in a special section of Science magazine on September 30, 2011.

“MESSENGER’s instruments are capturing data that can be obtained only from orbit,” says MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “We have imaged many areas of the surface at unprecedented resolution, we have viewed the polar regions clearly for the first time, we have built up global coverage with our images and other data sets, we are mapping the elemental composition of Mercury’s surface, we are conducting a continuous inventory of the planet’s neutral and ionized exosphere, and we are sorting out the geometry of Mercury’s magnetic field and magnetosphere. And we’ve only just begun. Mercury has many more surprises in store for us as our mission progresses.”

MESSENGER Reveals Flood Volcanism

For decades scientists had puzzled over whether Mercury had volcanic deposits on its surface. MESSENGER’s three flybys answered that question in the affirmative, but the global distribution of volcanic materials was not well constrained. New data from orbit show a huge expanse of volcanic plains surrounding the north polar region of Mercury. These continuous smooth plains cover more than 6% of the total surface of Mercury.

The volcanic deposits are thick. “Analysis of the size of buried ‘ghost’ craters in these deposits shows that the lavas are locally as thick as 2 kilometers” (or 1.2 miles), explains James Head of Brown University, the lead author of one of the Science reports. “If you imagine standing at the base of the Washington Monument, the top of the lavas would be something like 12 Washington Monuments above you.”

According to Head, the deposits appear typical of flood lavas, huge volumes of solidified molten rock similar to those found in the few-million-year-old Columbia River Basalt Group, which at one point covered 150,000 square kilometers (60,000 square miles) in the northwest United States. “Those on Mercury appear to have poured out from long, linear vents and covered the surrounding areas, flooding them to great depths and burying their source vents,” Head says.

Scientists have also discovered vents, measuring up to 25 kilometers (16 miles) in length, that appear to be the source of some of the tremendous volumes of very hot lava that have rushed out over the surface of Mercury and eroded the substrate, carving valleys and creating teardrop-shaped ridges in the underlying terrain. “These amazing landforms and deposits may be related to the types of unusual compositions, similar to terrestrial rocks called komatiites, being seen by other instruments and reported in this same issue of Science,” Head says. “What’s more, such lavas may have been typical of an early period in Earth’s history, one for which only spotty evidence remains today.”

As MESSENGER continues to orbit Mercury, the imaging team is building up a global catalog of these volcanic deposits and is working with other instrument teams to construct a comprehensive view of the history of volcanism on Mercury.


Mercury’s Surface and Exospheric Composition, Up Close and Personal

[Other things were said here]

MESSENGER has also collected the first global observations of plasma ions in Mercury’s magnetosphere. Over 65 days covering more than 120 orbits, MESSENGER’s Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS) made the first long-term measurements of Mercury’s ionized exosphere.

The team found that sodium is the most important ion contributed by the planet. “We had previously observed neutral sodium from ground observations, but up close we’ve discovered that charged sodium particles are concentrated near Mercury’s polar regions where they are likely liberated by solar wind ion sputtering, effectively knocking sodium atoms off Mercury’s surface” notes the University of Michigan’s Thomas Zurbuchen, author of one of the Science reports. “We were able to observe the formation process of these ions, one that is comparable to the manner by which auroras are generated in the Earth atmosphere near polar regions.”

The FIPS sensor detected helium ions throughout the entire volume of Mercury’s magnetosphere. “Helium must be generated through surface interactions with the solar wind,” says Zurbuchen. “We surmise that the helium was delivered from the Sun by the solar wind, implanted on the surface of Mercury, and then fanned out in all directions.

“Our results tell us is that Mercury’s weak magnetosphere provides the planet very little protection from the solar wind,” he continued. “Extreme space weather must be a continuing activity at the surface of the planet closest to the Sun.”

“These revelations emphasize that Mercury is a fascinating world that is unmatched in the solar system,” says Blewett. “We have barely begun to understand what Mercury is really like and are eager to discover what Mercury can tell us about the processes that led to formation of the planets as we see them today.”


Universe Today has some neat stuff on MESSENGER/Mercury as well.  (h/t to Black Lab on Meth)


And then one of my bosses sent me this article, too… Mercury is hot as hell and appears to match it pretty closely in the description, but it’s not quite as bad as Hell because Mercury doesn’t play Barry Manilow music.

Read Full Post »

There’s the power grab I’ve been watching for.

“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover.”  – North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue in her overt bid to overthrow your right to be represented – next comes taxation without that representation, in her eyes.

With honeyed words and an oily demeanor the usurper will sidle forth, eager to take control of your lives – just for the good of everyone, you understand.
No, Bev, what we ought to do, rather than your suggestion of suspending elections, is calmly and rationally tell Congress to grow the hell up and do their goddamned jobs like they swore to do.   – Dr. Lemur
Interesting ow her suggestion of a two year suspension just happens to cover the next election cycle, isn’t it?
Ok, the cut-n-paste section is a bit long here but there is a reason…  Pittsburgh inmates are getting 42″ plasma tv’s.

The money comes from the “Inmate Welfare Fund” – proceeds from the jail commissary used by the inmates.

Onorato administration officials who wouldn’t be interviewed on camera or allow the televisions to be photographed, argued in a statement that it’s not the public’s money.

“No taxpayer dollars or county funds are being used to purchase the televisions. The inmates are purchasing the televisions to replace old or broken sets. The decision to purchase the TVs was made by a committee that consists of jail personnel and inmate advocates.”

The point of being in jail is not to mistreat people or make them feel worse and resentful,” Marion Damick, a committee member, said.

It’s not?
Yes it is.  I want prisoners to feel worse.  I want them to hate prison.  I want to chain them to… wait, no, I don’t want tha… wait, yes I do.  I want them to never want to go back, ever.
Where’d the idea come from that there should be anything enjoyable about being incarcerated on the public’s dime?  Sure they may have bought those TVs with “non-public” money but while they are getting free room and board they ought to be paying for every cent of it.  If that deal sounds like it sucks, stay the hell out of jail.
A very good friend of mine was in jail for a while, and yes, I can still say that.  He never wants to go back again and has become a completely different person.  I’d say jail being a suck-ass place to be was probably one of the best things to ever happen to him, as he’s a fine human being that I’m proud to call a friend.
Now… (said slowly) I’ll bet… that she looked up the color of the reporter’s skin before bitching about his racist transcription of Obama’s intentionally dropped G’s in his Congressional Black Caucus speech…  She did so purely out of curiosity, I’m sure.
The good news is that liberals are good for Mother Earth.  Yes, tiny little cannisters filled with life-saving albuterol and nasty evil CFC’s are still pure evil and must be stamped out.  If a few asthmatics are killed along the way, that’s a price we’re willing to pay, because Green is Always Better.
Give it time, and the government will want to tax the rich for $14,000 for every man, woman, and child to pay for $7,000 funerals and “give” those away, too.  Hell, why not?  We’re going to be doing something similar with health care soon.  Tax for more than the amount, pocket the difference – it’s the political way to pay for all the things that can’t be justified.
Zombie Reagan will not run.  It’s on Drudge.  Sorry Stoaty…
For the hearing impaired, use this handy visual that she hand-crafted to navigate to her site.
Seriously, think about what I just said, stop clicking on that graphic, realize it was BS, and follow the hyperlink above, okay?

Read Full Post »

Wax on, wax off.

Update:  Hmmm.  So UARS didn’t come down yet.  Ha!  Ha, Mitchell!  Just goes to show you that when you start taking about physics it’s never “as easy as all that”.

I continue to be less than concerned.


Been a hell of a week in LemurHouse.

All the same reasons with a few really scary new ones but hey, it’s only another 8 days until I see the surgeon, right?

Short post – this whole article made me immediately think of Brazilian waxing, for some reason.  Piranhas attacking beachgoers in Brazil.  I think the ol’ brain thought of getting bitten in the privates and the reported pain involved in waxing… down there.

Neither one sounds very appealing.

Read Full Post »

UARS Update


Oh for God’s sake will you pansies grow up already?

Young adults are the recession’s lost generation.

In record numbers, they’re struggling to find work, shunning long-distance moves to live with mom and dad, delaying marriage and raising kids out of wedlock, if they’re becoming parents at all. The unemployment rate for them is the highest since World War II, and they risk living in poverty more than others – nearly 1 in 5.

You know, my grandparents, my dad, and yes, even I – made long distance moves to get work.  Yes, I had to live with my family – as did Cruel Wife with hers after we were married – while I worked a state away and she finished up her degree.  But when there was work, we damn well moved to get it.

Seriously?  Shunning long-distance moves to live with mom and dad?  My granddad moved from Arizona to Oregon for work.  My dad was set to move from Oregon to California before he got called up to go to Germany for a tour.  Jesus, you simpering wimps, grow some.


From a higher-up on the UARS foodchain came a link to UARS recently shot with a 14-inch telescope.

I’m kind of enjoying this stuff – knowing people who actually know people who know.  One of the bosses’ babies is on UARS, the HRDI instrument.  (pronounced “Hardey”)

And the NASA guys are saying that we won’t get the fireworks here in the US.  Damn.

I was listening to NPR (know thine enemy) a day or so ago when I recognized a voice of someone I knew.  I said “Holy shit-sucking leeches!” and cranked the knob as high as it would go.  It was Wib Skinner up at Space Physics Research Laboratory (UofM) talking about UARS.  They asked him where it would come down and he said (rightfully so), “It can come down anywhere between plus or minus 57 degrees”.   Yeps, that’s right.  Moderate inclination orbit – meaning the angle relative to the equator and it is one of six orbital parameters that describe the motion of an object orbiting another body – means that as it moves relative to earth it goes up and down across the equator in a sine wave motion.  They do that for coverage of more or less parts of the earth or body they orbit.

Messenger about Mercury is a high inclination orbit – 80 degrees.  They want to cover as much as possible and yet focus on certain parts in certain ways.

So, bummer, eh?  No chance to personally see UARS end in a blaze of glory while munching on a Taco Bell burrito or a bag of Doritos.  Or Cheez-its™ and braunschweiger (my favorite snack that I only allow myself to have once a year, on Christmas Eve).


(h/t to Cruel Wife…)  Not that GM wouldn’t sell the data any way it could get away with on it’s own, but just think how Government Motors can use this data to track your every move.  Stop buying GM, folks.  They should have let them die in a free-market economy.  Would have strengthened the others and avoided still more intrusion into our lives.

Here’s GM’s new press release based on the scary situation – spin it, guys… spin it for all you are worth.

New Terms & Conditions

The following statement can be attributed to Joanne Finnorn, Vice President, Subscriber Services

“OnStar has and always will give our customers the choice in how we use their data. We’ve also been very open with our customers about changes in services and privacy terms.

Under our new Terms and Conditions, when a customer cancels service, we have informed customers that OnStar will maintain a two-way connection to their vehicle unless they ask us not to do so. In the future, this connection may provide us with the capability to alert vehicle occupants about severe weather conditions such as tornado warnings or mandatory evacuations. Another benefit for keeping this connection “open” could be to provide vehicle owners with any updated warranty data or recall issues.

[Or, it could be used TO TRACK YOU.  – LK]

“Of course, if the customer requests us to turn off the two-way connection, we will do as we have always done, and that is honor customers’ requests.

[Unless we decide we want TO TRACK YOU.  -LK]

“Our guiding practices regarding sharing our subscribers’ personal information have not changed. We are always very specific about with whom we share customers’ personal information, and how they will use it. We have never sold any personally identifiable information to any third party.

[But giving it away is possible because someone will always want TO TRACK YOU.  -LK]

Keeping the two-way connection open will also allow OnStar to capture general vehicle information that could be used in future product development.

[Or, it could be used TO TRACK YOU.  – LK]

“We apologize for creating any confusion about our Terms and Conditions. We want to make sure we are as clear with our customers as possible, but it’s apparent that we have failed to do this. As always, we are listening to our subscribers’ feedback and we will continue to be open to their suggestions and concerns.”

[Like, perhaps suggestions that PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO BE TRACKED?  -LK]


Good riddance to trash like this.  Dragging someone to death for skin color is unconscionable. The guy is a monster.

Dragging to death child abusers and predators?  Well, ok then… I’d like to see a judge hand down a sentence:  “Death by Dragging Until You Are Pronounced Dead, You Sick Bastard (or Bitch)”

Read Full Post »

Anyone who comes here, perhaps as many as tens of people know that I’ve got this chronic pain thing going on.

After about 30 days of it you are ready to try a good deal many things.  It’s been 4-1/2 years and that hasn’t changed one bit.  I’d scoff goat glands or snort battery acid if there was proof that it helped.

So in the pain-clinic circles someone suggested that diet may play a part and that by adjusting one’s diet one might, and I stress might see some positive changes in that area.

Being heavy into the cycle of ready-to-try-something-anything, I agreed to see this nutritional doctor that was suggested by the someone I made mention of in the last paragraph.

The place was a bear to find so I was late.  That was the last good thing about this visit.

I shuffled in and they gave me the obligatory sheaf of dead trees to fill out all my intimate thoughts, visceral feelings, embarrassing bodily functions, and most importantly, credit card and billing info.

I was then ushered into a room where a gal who we will call Barbarella put on this band thingy around my chest that measured my Zetans or some such thing while lying down and standing up.  Big snoozer there.  Then I went to another room and filled out more paperwork.  I was only on page 47 of 63 when in walks Doctor Seuss.

We talked about what I want and it boiled down to (1) less pain, (2) some weight loss, and (3) lower cholesterol.  I don’t need help with sunken arches, atrophied trenchfoot, spontaneous extra appendix bursting and regrowth (Vestigal Jesus Organs, or VJO), migrating toenails, cleft kneecaps, excessive ear fat, West Ebola-Listerial Nigerian Nile-Pox, or any other crap up to and including failed penile implants or a hyperspatially-deviated septum.

He asked all the questions I already answered.  I got all specific on his ass and said that my neck is FUBAR’ed, but specifically C4-5 and C5-6 are the problems on the left leading to lots of scary conditions ending in “-algia”.

I was told to hold out my right arm to the side.  He pushed down on it.  He pulled, prodded, had me do other things with the left while doing things to that right arm.

So far, so good, muscle strength test – seemed pretty straightforward.

Each time he was pushing down on my arm with one of two levels of force.  Light pushes where he lifted his body as if he was pushing down hard and then actually pushing down hard during those times when he would say “See how it was weaker, there?”

Beep beep, back the truck up.  My right arm is my good one.  No numbness or weakness there at all.  And the feeling is perfectly fine there.  So where I visually saw two levels of effort in his pushing downward on my arm, I correspondingly felt two levels of force.  It wasn’t that I was any weaker from one to the next, it was just more downward force.

But I said to myself, “Ok, go with it, because, after all, he can’t possibly be doing this this badly.  No one can.”

He continued on for some time putting my left arm in different positions and having me do different things and then pushing down on my right – each time with this exaggerated forcing that looks like it came from Pro Wrestling or my five year old.

He then stopped and said “How are you feeling?”

I said “Well, I’ve had my right arm out there for some time, it’s getting a bit tired.”

So he motioned to the aide Barbarella who materialized next to me, and I jumped to the side and screamed “SNEAK MUCH???” in hushed tones at the top of my lungs.  She had come in while I was unawares and distracted.

He said in a kind and thoughtful voice “Well, you’re going to have more difficulty with your left so Barbarella will help us out.”

Huh?  Barbarella will help us out?  What is this, a porno set?

Then things got really really strange…

Barbarella put her right hand on my left shoulder, held out her left arm to the side.  Then Doctor Seuss started putting things in my right hand, arm straight out to the side, and pushing down on HER arm.

Did you get that?  I was stunned.  Stunned, I tell you.

He put a sealed-on-both-ends vial in my right hand and pushed down on her arm.  He started swapping it out for other glass bottles with screw-on lids – one contained thousands of little eyeballs (or tapioca), another looked like dried ginger (or mummified fingers), and one that looked like sputum.  Then came the odd ones – plutonium peanut butter, whirled peas, cat fur, back carseat vacuumings, rutabaga scrotums, transient toenails (too awful to describe), toad lickings (scraped from Wall Street yuppie tongues), purple piss, and scented snake oil… plus 30 more.  Sometimes her arm would go down more, sometimes less.

At the end of all that I was sitting there thinking “Ok, this cannot actually be happening.  Can’t be…

You’d be proud of me to know that I did not go “House” on him and mentally bitch-slap him while simultaneously shaming him hideously.

But I did bitch-slap him and I did shame him but just not simultaneously.  I just didn’t do it cruelly and on purpose like I would a co-worker or someone I don’t respect.   Just on purpose.  I was in control, sans cruelty.

Yes, ID10T-Killer reads this blog from time to time so he can support the notion regarding me shaming people I don’t respect, as can The Dude.

I said “Ok, you’re going to have to bear with me because I thought I was here for a dietary lifestyle consult, and I cannot for the life of me see how you can possibly get a viable diagnostic indicator from (1) having me hold glass containers of different things, and (2) pushing down on another person’s arm acting as proxy for mine.”

They looked at me in stunned silence and I said “There’s no way a material in a glass bottle is going to affect me physically in a way that is a useful diagnostic.”  (Barring hard radiation or a leaky bottle of HF, of course.)

He looked at me and said… he said… he… he…

Look, Loyal ReaderI can’t make this stuff upIt’s too bizarreI’m perfectly serious.  He said:

The stuff in the vials acts on your body via Quantum Mechanics.  – Dr. Seuss in response to Lemur King’s disbelief of utter horseshit new-age beliefs

I looked at him and said “You do realize that my education/degree is in the field of physics?”

Barbarella just stared at me with her mouth open, shocked that someone would disagree with a man of his learning and caliber.  Dr. Seuss said with a learned air of superiority, hoping to cow me, “Have you ever taken a course in quantum mechanics?”

I chuckled and said “Yes, I’m a research and opto-mechanical engineer and I’ve done quite a lot of physics, classical and dabbled in the quantum as well.  And, you should know that QM is not applied at the macro-scale.”

Note to readers:  Can we please not get into the argument that classical mechanics are derived directly from quantum mechanics?  If you are going to argue for QM being applied to the macro scale show me something huge that can tunnel through a brick wall – in the QM sense – and I don’t want to hear about the BBW Wal-Mart Hippo-in-Spandex stampeding after the smell of a roasted chicken.  I’m just not up for it.  The point here is that I was calling out a guy for being full of shit in my presence (and on my dime, you could argue).  And you are encouraged to give me demerits for not asking him if he’d ever read Feynman’s lectures, as I have, and if he has, asking him “Did you like the ‘Thirteen Easy Pieces’ lectures or the ‘Seven Extremely Hard Topics’ ones better?”  That would have been the perfect test because if he said he had and not corrected me by saying “‘Six Easy Pieces,’ you mean, right?” or “Don’t you mean ‘Six Not-So-Easy Pieces’?” he would have failed the test.  It would have been great because then I would have been completely justified in turning him into an intellectual quadriplegic for trying to bullshit me using my hero, Richard Feynman.  Sort of like providing for him a quantum well to fall down.

“Do you have any scientific papers describing the physical/physiological mechanisms you are talking about?” I asked.

Dr. Seuss turned a bit red and said “No, but the handout I gave you tells you everything you need to know about it.”

I glanced at the two pages, front and back, and said “I don’t see any references here.  This could be from anywhere!  Ok, look, before I go spending my money on visits and lots of supplements I want to re-evaluate whether I want to be coming here.  I’m having a hard time buying any of this.”

He got excited and said, “Ok, so you may not believe in this, but you have to focus on results.  I could have come in here wearing a Dr. Seuss† hat and you would have thought ‘Gee, he’s really weird’ but you would have to pay attention to the results, and I can do what you want and reduce pain so you can get off painkillers like you asked.”

Thus the name I have given him: “Dr. Seuss”

Note:  I would love it if he could actually do all that, because I wouldn’t have been there otherwise, but the moment a rocket scientist starts telling me that he has little faerie-friends that assist him in sexually gratifying his cat every night is the moment I decide to never ride on his rocket.  Same thing goes for the medical profession.  If my surgeon carries a lucky rabbit’s foot or my dietician guy believes that bottles of stuff act on my body quantum dynamically, I’m out of there.

“Are we through here?  Because I’m done.  I’ll let you know what I decide.”

So I paid the charge because dissatisfaction with methods isn’t the same as being overtly ripped off – I did agree to the “consultation” even if it was a bunch of Ann Arbor new-age bullshit and walked out of there, feeling rather like a chump and wishing I had wasted the money on cheap booze and trashy women instead because that would have been an orders-of-magnitude better use of my time and money.

Yes, Cruel Wife reads this blog, too, and I’m not so sure she wouldn’t also have preferred I put the money to better uses, like cheap booze and trashy women.

Now, if he had talked to me about magnets, crystals, or colored water derived from illuminating it under filtered light, that would have been different.  We could have talked then.  We could have had a chat.

What pisses me off is that there are people that are buying into that – belief in fakery in spite of clear evidence of fraud right in front of their very eyes.

If you have your own story of how your personal Dr. Seuss has helped you and improved your life using the methods described above, I’d like you to write it all down, capture every detail, and comment about it anywhere but here.  I’m not interested.

Read Full Post »

Not until they’ve destroyed society…

Come on, now.  Grope, publicly demean, humiliate, inconvenience… US Customs can do whatever they want, really, because there’s no real oversight, but taking a man’s Vegemite

For Pete’s sake… really?

I like Marmite, no one in my family likes it, and I’m told it is similar (and I’m sure I’ll get nastygrams from outraged Australians) – so I do have some sympathy for the man.  Thank goodness he had diplomatic immunity.


Update:  Saw the link to this article on Drudge, and I have to comment on it.  On TheHill.com:

Unhappy members of the Congressional Black Caucus “probably would be marching on the White House” if Obama were not president, according to CBC Chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).

If [former President] Bill Clinton had been in the White House and had failed to address this problem, we probably would be marching on the White House,” Cleaver told “The Miami Herald” in comments published Sunday. “There is a less-volatile reaction in the CBC because nobody wants to do anything that would empower the people who hate the president.

So, in other words:   It’s not that you are racist, it’s just your understandable and completely defensible response because the white man is purely racist.

Do I have that about right?

Don’t buy it.  You think Obama is a POS, but really, you hate whitey more.  Never comes down to recognizing the fact that “the white guy is always the bad guy” unless the bad guy is really the black guy but that is OK because the white guy is by definition bad.  Whatever happened to marching on Obama because he’s just totally the wrong effin’ guy to have in power, that it’s the right thing to do, regardless of whether it empowers someone?

Well, I guess it is at least something that Cleaver had the balls to say anything at all.


Ok, get your geek-on here… I’ve been interested in HDRI, light transport, tone-mapping for years now, but check this out.

Stanford Light Field Camera.

In the comments section though – pet peeve warning – guy writes trash, another guy writes in and says “He’s right – I’m a scientist” as if that proves a damn thing.  What are you a scientist of, sport?  Read any papers about light fields lately?  Know an author of any papers right off the top of your head?

Peevish today.  Don’t mind me.


I trolled Fark today and ran across this… a family tree without branches.  (Language NSFW)



Police said a 1999 Ferrari smashed through a power pole and crashed onto the beach some 30 feet below the road. The car was severed in two.

Yeah, about that:

Authorities say a high rate of speed likely was a factor in the crash. The accident was under investigation.

How much education does it take to be able to figure these tough ones out?


Ashes to ashes, and goo to …. ew.  Liquefaction of deceased loved ones will probably never really catch on.

Read Full Post »

Odds are…

A guy I’ve worked with for more than a decade had a huge hand in one of the instruments on UARS – well, pretty much it is his baby.  What is amazing is that the instrument worked for something like 14 years.

So, 20 years after going up, it’s being borne out (once again) that what comes up pretty much must come down.  Assuming it doesn’t leave orbit, that is.  UARS never left orbit and now is going to leave orbit in the “down” sense of the word.  Towards Earth.

It’s a 6-1/2 ton ex-weather-satellite – the size of a bus – and it is coming down.

The scientist guys who are knowledgeable about this sort of thing got it wrong though.  They were off by A WHOLE DAY.  Everybody panic!  Damn you, rocket scientists, damn you to HECK!

Next Stop: Earth, roughly 10 feet deep. (Photo: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center)

They say it has a 1 in 3200 chance of hitting someone.  Before you freak, it is a 1 in 3200 chance of hitting one of the 7,000,000,000 people on the planet (1 in 16 trillion).  So your odds are slimmer than getting struck by lightning at the exact same moment you win the lottery while having sex on the back of a rabid elephant with three legs.

I confess, the odds on the satellite are better.  Lifetime odds are 1 in 10,000 with lightning.  Rabid elephant over roughly that interval is 1 in 400,000.  Odds of winning the lottery (Powerball) are 1 in 80,000,000.  If you are married and have kids the odds of having sex anywhere… why it makes the whole thing vanishingly small.  Put your money on being hit with burning chunks of satellite, people.

The spacecraft will break into pieces as it plummets through the atmosphere, but not all of it will burn up in the heat of re-entry. One analysis of the spacecraft suggests that of its total 6 1/2-ton bulk, only 1,170 pounds (532 kilograms) will survive when it reaches the ground.  – Space.com

Read about UARS here…

One little dig I want to make here:

NASA spokeswoman Beth Dickey confirmed with SPACE.com earlier today that the reason UARS is expected to fall early in its re-entry window is because of the sharp uptick in solar activity. Solar effects from the sun can create an extra drag on satellites in space because they can heat the Earth’s atmosphere, causing it to expand, agency officials have said.   – Space.com

You mean, the sun can affect the atmosphere?  Like, global warming and cooling?  No… seriously?

Oh, for a good laugh, here was a person complaining about the very real space junk problem…

Child of Light (2 days ago)

Now if I was a man that lived in outer space; I would confiscate this satellite;from the earths governments; Like taking a Know it all, arrogant, Child’s toy preventing Him from hurting others with it. Thus preventing grave amounts of potential deaths and injuries; telling these world Governments they are irresponsible; risking many lives.
I would also act like the arrogant USA GOVERNMENT STATING: We find Its not necessary for you the peoples of this Nation; to know what is going on; Who we are; where we are from; what we have; you are not professional; or Knowledgeable at these matters; As Obvious by this situation; you are Lieing to your self’s about your abilities at this time ; and you do not have the resources as we do to handle situations of such; nor are you spiritually mature concerning these matters; and all you Government people of this world combined are not strong enough; or advanced enough to address the situation properly; showing to have the ability to prevent peoples from dieing from these type of unforseen events that will continue to happen. I know this Might sound imposing but Believe me its for your own protection; we see things that ye need not see; and we be places ye need not be; so go on with your Fuzzy little soft life’s; We are the Galaxy defenders; We are the men in Black ! GALAXY defenders ! OH YA GIVE ME YOUR MONEY FOR DOING THIS STUFF FOR YOUR BEST INTEREST !

Someone is due to have their dosages adjusted, I see.

Read Full Post »

Update:  More night photography.  Obviously I need a filter (an expensive one with lots of features, maybe two or three really nice top-notch jobbies just to be safe) for that lens flare but I liked the clouds.

To crop or not to crop...

Update 2:  Cropped, per Nicole’s suggestion.



I have been hunting high and low for some alternative to the hated CFL’s.

Hey!  I know… there’s this thing called an incandescent ****ing bulb you congress-cretin misanthropes.  Oh, we’re not allowed to use those by fiat, huh?   So much for fiat lux.

So I’ve been hunting high and low and reading so many specs that are outright lies.   Outright lies.  My background is optics.  I know a thing or two about photons.  And I can say without a trace of arrogance (here, anyway) that if I am having a hell of a time deciphering whether the manufacturer means lumens, luminous efficacy, watts (for real), or apparent wattage replacement – and – whether they just made a boo-boo when their numbers don’t work out or if they told an outright lie, then… how the hell can the average person, without a great deal of hassle, tell what the frig they are looking at?

Prices are all over the map, too.  If you want a dimmable LED light you can pay $45 or you can pay $13.  You get what you pay for on the low end, I’m sure, but do you really get $45 worth of light bulb on the higher end?  I dunno.  Doubt it.

But I do know my cat’s butt is hanging 75% or better off the edge of his perch and I’m convinced that he can defy gravity;  At least my cat’s ass end appears to be lighter than air.


Picture my upcoming Halloween project:  To make a pumpkin glow like the noonday sun.  While stuck on a pole.  While splashed with fake blood.  With lightly carved lines of agony on it’s face.

Last year I stuck a halogen worklight up a pumpkin’s butt and had a blast with the neighborhood oooh’ing and ahhhh’ing over it.  Problem was that the holes for the eyes and mouth were awfully bright and kids looking the pumpkin in the face were temporarily blinded.  But the yard glowed orange.

This year?  I want it to brilliantly flame orange.

I figure, and while a certain distinguished gentleman might have observed that my 2KW internal lighting scheme for the pumpkin might be a bit much, I have to forge ahead with the idea because if we screw this up, kittens could die.   It may scar some tender young psyches to see such a sight but if we save just one kitten, it’s a price I’m willing to pay.  I notice he didn’t argue very hard and kind of said “no” when he meant “yes, yes, yes, for the love of dog, yes” regarding the excessive-force approach.

As he noted, there might be… heat issues.  Cruel Wife thought so, too.

So I have pondered on the notion that forced air might mitigate heat-driven agricultural product failure (the squash FMEA chart is all angry-red looking and no green squares in sight).  I refuse to water cool or heat-pipe the sucker, though.

Read Full Post »

Night shooting.

Funny, but following on the heels of my Words without equivalents post, aliceaitch over at DPUD passed on the following link, enough to make a father quiver.

50 Rules for Dads of Daughters.  Hats off to Michael Mitchell, the author.  Damn that saccharine-ey sweet list.   Does it have to be right?

#7 seems appropriate.  #47 is going to.

Not fair, aliceaitch… not fair.


No, not with guns.  Cameras!

It’s been a full moon and it has also been the perfect opportunity to break out the tripod and take some long exposures.

Not bad for focusing in the dark.  It was midnight in Michigan – definitely dark except for the moon.

F/5.6, 15sec, ISO400.  Bit of postprocessing of the raw image and in photoshop.  I’m doing something wrong with my colorspace handling, which is why it looks bluer than it did when I was processing it – sort of how film processing labs went overboard on the blue to make people’s blue skies look really blue when it was actually pretty darned hazy-grey.  I’ll run that issue down and re-post the image.

Considering I went outside and took four shots, two of the moon and two of the driveway, I wasn’t too unhappy with the exposure and focus side of things.  I’ve got a very great deal to learn, as you can see.  I think I really need to crank the aperture down some more but we’ll see tonight after I shoot some more.

I’m REALLY going to run down that color issue.  More I look at it the more I hate it and want to kill it with fire.

This was a better one.  Same camera settings, looking up at the moon.

Read Full Post »

Words without equivalents.

A friend of mine who no longer works with me sent a link to words that have no English equivalent.

One that isn’t in the very top but is my favorite:

Nervio:  A feeling of such intense affection that one trembles or grits his teeth with restraint so as not to harm the object of his affection.

I think this word is the perfect word to describe how you might feel when giving your kid a hug goodnight or when you are greeting them when they come home.  When my daughter isn’t being a rodent (and sometimes when she is, admittedly) this is a regular thing.

Things you feel about that intensely, those are the things you would die or kill for.

No, I’m not planning on dying or killing – there’s no hidden meaning here.

Anyone else got a word that they’d add?


But, it’s for the children

President Obama told an audience in Ohio that poor ventilation systems that make students sick is a reason to pass his jobs plan, the “American Jobs Act.”

“Some of the schools, the ventilation is so poor it could make students sick,” Obama claimed.

“How do we expect our kids to do their very best in a situation like that? The answer is we can’t,” Obama said.

I don’t know just how disingenuous a person can be but this guy is plumbing depths.  Maybe duplicitous works here, too.

Read Full Post »


Yes, I could say something about 9/11.  But there’s nothing I can say that isn’t already said many times over.   We were all angered and heartbroken.  I think many of us had thoughts of firebombing and cobalt-salting the middle east.  Scorched earth policies went through my head and to hell with anyone who said “Oh, but that would make you no better than them.”  I’m more than tired of that kind of person.

So quickly, thanks to the many heroes that day and sorrows to those who had their lives taken from them.   And may the fires of Hell burn a little bit hotter for the participants in a bombing that targeted innocent people.


Those online fads.  You gotta love ’em, right?

Planking, Owling, and Batmanning is passe.

Now it is Fenceposting.

Planking involved having your picture taken while you laid out flat, Owling had people perched on high places, and Batmanning had people hanging upside down with their toes.   All were difficult to do and had people getting seriously injured when attempting to be the next coolest stunt performer.  But “Fenceposting” is far more challenging.

A group of junior-high school students claim to have started the new slowly growing fad last week.  They made a video that shows them standing upright like adults and carrying on face-to-face conversations with complete sentences.

It is considered extremely difficult by many, including those who are technically legally adult.  Most people opt for the orders-of-magnitude easier version which involves consumption of alcohol  (Google “panty-peeler” and “leg-spreader“, or go to Roger’s Profanisaurus † for examples of pillow-talk).

Some fear the side-effects could destroy the ability to text and tweet and lead to mature relationships.  There have been reports of students making friends with others based solely on getting to know the other person without friending or following others online.

A video posted by the young students has gone viral, with over 40 views and has inspired some to embrace meatspace life over online, or at least pursue a healthy balance.

“If you do a Google search there’s two articles (about the video), from Johnny Rottan (he’s a ninth-grader) and from my aunt Mimi. It’s definitely gone further than we thought it might,” says student Suzy Hildebrandt and seconded by student Cory Hackman.

† Note:  I don’t know what is on Roger’s Profanisaurus beyond the single page linked there, nor am I going to look.  I’m not responsible for other people’s pages.  Just sayin’, because some of the entries on the Profanisaurus make a prudent individual think these things.


Canadian not allowed into the US because of her “mental illness”.  If you don’t think that this will be a likely story all over the US if we move to Obamacare, then you are truly unable to perceive reality.


Paul Krugman needs to have the everloving stuffing beaten out of him.  And I mean that like I’ve never meant it before.

The Years of Shame

Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.

Yes, it’s pretty obviously why you wouldn’t allow comments.  Because you are a chickenshit bastard who wants to re-write history and engage in a little self-fellatio.

Read Full Post »

Me neither.

Japanese lamp fighting.  Really.


***crickets chirp***

I found it because I was looking at low voltage lighting and rice paper to make a japanese-style bedside lamp and “japanese lamp fighting” and “japanese lamp furniture” are veeeeery similar.  I require very little light to read by and I try to be courteous of CW when she wants to sleep and discomfort or insomnia keep me awake – and so when my old lamp with it’s 7.5W bulb came down ill (I think it is due for a replacement) I figured it was time to move on.  Since I like japanese architecture and furniture I said “Why the hell not?”

Oh, back to bulb fighting… a conversation in the comments section at Gizmodo:

You know, the insides of those has got stuff that can give you cancer.

– So I’m told.

Yeah. I had a friend that chewed glass for a living. In the circus.

– And he got cancer from chewing fluorescent bulb glass?

Nah. Got hit by a bus.

Okay… check it out.

Read Full Post »

A blogger I have come to respect, The Curtal Friar, got us into a pickle by coming up with a pretty darned good composite offensive name for a video game that should be made (and would be if I were king) along the lines of Tea Party Zombies Must Die (but in stark contrast to the philosophy implied by TPZMD).

You want to hear what he helped spawn?  Of course you do!  And if you can come up with something – some niggling little tweak- that makes the title of the fictitious game sizzle more than it already does then you will be a winner and your name will be read by literal tens of people.

Twilight Of The Undocumented Cheesing Gay Afro-Chinese Chainsaw-Wielding Diaper-Wearing Midget-Mafia-Zombie-Mime Stuttering Tea Party Apocalypse Priests From Tijuana

That gives me shivers right up to the point where my brain swells and shuts down.  No, I’m sure the title doesn’t make complete sense, but I’m not one to judge after looking at it and having so many brain-swellings today.

Update:  Speaking of “Twilight” – the source of the inspiration for the beginning of the above title – there really is too much importance put on that shite.  How does nature say “Lock her up forever and lose the damn keyThis is how.


In the “We’ve Got New Stoopid Technology” category…

The fuel cell inside PowerTrekk is a completely passive system. Without fans or pumps, the fuel cell silently converts hydrogen into electricity via its Proton Exchange Membrane.

The chemistry process is safe, controllable and eco-friendly, and the only bi-product from the fuel cell is a little water vapor. To operate, hydrogen must be supplied to the fuel cell, and the fuel cell must be exposed to the open air.

The fuel cell charger is electronic waste and will be part of an industry program for recycling. The fuel pack is part of an industry program for reusing its materials and is made of coated can materials which prevent corrosion and leakage of chemicals.

Oooh, only a little water vapor!  Wow!  And, uh… where are you getting the hydrogen?  Oh, only a little water vapor and coal-originated carbon dioxide from the process to break down water into oxygen and hydrogen.  Oh, and only a little water vapor, carbon dioxide, and mercury from the coal burning process.

Wait.  You say there are multiple sources of hydrogen?  Really?

Since the hydrogen fuel can be supplied from several alternative sources, the system is “flexifuel”.

Ok.  Name them.  Tell me what they are.

Still waiting.

Ok, I read through their site to the point where I got really bored and I still get hung up on this part:

The chemistry process is safe and eco-friendly, and the only by-product from the fuel cell is a little water vapor.

I’m sure that hydrogen-to-electrons is safe and friendly.  I totally buy that.  Really, I do.   But I don’t believe that you’re getting a free lunch in getting that hydrogen, and I don’t believe that if you close the loop and account for where all that golden-chewy-nougaty-goodness absolutely pure energy came from, that all you spin off is a little water vapor.

But fine… if what we’re really talking about is a cool portable power source, like batteries, then that is totally cool, and in fact they are mega-super-cool.  I even think they’re pretty damned neat.  But please don’t spin it to make it sound like you are cheap-and-clean zero-point-energy-mavericks and the eco-paladins of the world.

I’m not saying the power packs are comparable to the CFL in any way/shape/form.  But the simple “don’t think so hard, trust us, apples and chihuahuas can be compared one-to-one” kind of ridiculousness is similar.  You don’t get to say “Hey, CFL’s are great because they use less wattage” when the total KWH from cradle to grave is much worse.  How we all got screwed by CFL’s.

Lighting expert Lucy Martin told the Daily Express, which is crusading for a referendum to pull Britain out of the EU: “The carbon footprint of manufacturing, distribution and disposal of a compact fluorescent bulb is far greater than the energy usage of a standard bulb.”

Really?  You don’t say…


Keeping in mind that every technology is spun and nothing is free, this is kind of cool – transparent solar panels.


If we’re going to keep coming back to energy, let’s go over to SOYLENT GREEN’s and look at the state of retrograde warming, shall we?   (pretty sure it was safe for work as of ten minutes ago)


Deus Ex update:  If it were not for the boss fights it would be the best FPS, finally knocking the original Deus Ex out of the #1 spot after more than a decade.  But it has them so it didn’t.  Bummage.

Guns don't kill people. Compromised robots with guns kill people.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »