November 26, 2006

Climate change

Republicans continue to go on a witch-hunt of climatologists that have studied and reported on global warming for years... Republican, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (Tex.) has gone on a meaningless investigation of three scientists who have charted Earth's rapid warming in recent decades. This is so ridiculous thatanother senior Republican, House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood L. Boehlert, himself has asked Barton to call off the "misguided and illegitimate investigation."

As early as 1998, the three scientists, Raymond Bradley, Director of the Climate System Research Center at the Univ. of Massachusetts at Amherst, Michael Mann, Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State Univ., and Malcolm Hughes of the University of Arizona reconstructed the global climate change over the last millenium (pdf; also see this graph), determining that three recent years, 1997, 1995, and 1990, were the warmest years since at least AD 1400. Using climate records culled from tree rings, glacial-ice layers and coral-growth layers, the three professors -- whose research was funded in part by the federal government -- determined in 1998 that temperatures have skyrocketed in the past century compared with the 500 years preceding it. The three men put the figures in a graph now known as the "hockey stick," and their work helped prompt the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2001 to declare the 1990s as the warmest decade in the past 1,000 years. The work has been supported as being rigorous and probably true by a national scientific panel of specialists in the area. Elsewhere, more than 100 international experts studying climate change have said that the threat of global warming is real and getting worse and Bush administration's postion on this is 'ludicrious.'

Related Links

BBC Audio interview

NPR interview

"The Man Behind the Hockey Stick" - 2005 interview

How the Wall Street Journal and Rep. Barton Celebrated a Global Warming Skeptic - Aug 2005


Reference: My compilation post with various links on Global Warming and the Environment and also Oil Politics and Energy Alternatives.

It stings

Hot peppers and spider bites cause similar pain

New research suggests that tarantula venom and capsaicin, the stuff that makes hot peppers hot, both fire up the same pain receptor on nerve cells. The particular cell-surface receptor is triggered by chemicals and also temperature. The research, conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, and published in the scientific journal Nature, could someday inform the development of better pain killers. Meanwhile, I expect to see a new brand of Spider Venom Hot Sauce in a matter of moments. From Science News:
(Molecular biologist David) Julius notes that because triggering the receptor produces such strong pain sensations, it's not surprising that organisms as distantly related as pepper plants and tarantulas use the same defensive mechanism.

"Different organisms have figured out how to tap this site as a way of telling predators, 'You won't be comfortable if you mess with me,'" he says.

Miscallaneous News

I have bookmarked tons of articles to forward or blog about over the past 2-3 weeks but do not have the time to organize it here is a mish-mash this Sunday afternoon.

US Politics:
Bush said recently that his policy had 'never been stay the course' except, apparently, he mentioned it over thirty times over the last three years. Some people are pretty good with "the Google." :)

Meanwhile, Iraqis die by the hundreds every day...with October being the deadliest month ever..with 3709 Iraqis dead, with all indications that November will break this 'record'. Iraq sinks into a graver abyss..

You have got to hear this... Keith Olbermann gives Bush a reaming after his visit to Vietnam...on the comparison between Vietnam and Iraq.----After Rumsfeld...Cheney?

In the days since President George W. Bush fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, one figure is eerily missing from public view and public accounts of what occurred: Vice President Dick Cheney. As usual, America's de facto president is either literally or metaphorically in an undisclosed location.

An article I read elsewhere quotes Novak of the Sun-Times writing that the firing of Rumsfeld upset many GOPs, including Cheney who was "profoundly disturbed" at the way Rumsfeld was treated and recently "appeared melancholy." To quote the former article, which is by someone called Nora Ephron (screen-writer of movies like Harry met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle?):
We will leave aside the question of how anyone can evaluate the levels of Dick Cheney's melancholy and instead wonder whether Cheney is feeling bad because he sees the handwriting on wall. Who knows? Maybe the rumor is true, and he's next.

See this very powerful sketch by someone called Mr. Fish. See other 'cartoons' by Mr. Fish in Harpers magazinehere ....for eg. I liked this one too about the mid-term elections.

Cronyism with Bush administration appointments continues...putting into people that will further their neocon agenda!!To head family planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services, Mr. Bush has tapped Eric Keroack, a doctor affiliated with a group vehemently opposed to birth control and someone nationally known for his wacky theory about reproductive health.

Media and Democracy
In 2003, an unprecedented groundswell of popular opposition killed then-Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell's efforts to eliminate rules that limit the ability of one corporation to monopolize all the media outlets in a given place. But, once again, media-industry lobbyists and their allies on the FCC are working to revise the rules on media ownership to allow a single corporation to own most, if not all, of the newspapers, radio and TV stations and Internet news and entertainment sites in your town. Last June, new FCC chairman Kevin Martin issued a draft policy proposal -- called a Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making -- that kick-started Big Media's latest attempt to weaken the rules protecting local voices, vibrant competition and diverse viewpoints. Now the battle is on.

Six Muslim imams were handcuffed and removed from a US Airways flight at a Minnesota airport over "suspicious activity."They suspect the 'suspicious activity' cited by authorities was the performance of normal evening prayers offered by members of the group," it said. "The detained Imams also denied media reports that they refused to leave the plane or that they chanted 'Allah' as they were escorted from the flight," the statement said.

More proof of an ugly nexus between politics and corporate America!!
Alarmed at the prospect of Democratic control of Congress, top executives from two dozen drug companies met here last week to assess what appears to them to be a harsh new political climate, and to draft a battle plan.

Unbelievable & absurd!!... was this Glen Beck guy come to CNN from Faux News? Have seen this kind of s*** on radio and on Faux News only before..but I cannot believe this was on CNN!!
CNN's Glen Beck to first-ever Muslim congressman to the first ever Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison (D-MN), who became the first Muslim ever elected to Congress on November 7 :"What I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies"

Enough of serious for something a little lighter..

First up ...this hilarious report of some monkey business in Des Moines, Iowa :) What's the fun of being an ape if you can't even monkey around? hahaha... ( - via India Uncut)

Also via India Uncut comes news about a new kind of terrorism - reports of the case of an "exceptionally antisocial man who has been defecating on trains across the UK, causing tens of thousands of pounds-worth of damage." So, are the roads of Mumbai going to be bombed by the Bush-Blair allied forces as being the training grounds for terror of a new kind? :)

And speaking of India, Businessweek has an interesting article, which asks the question:
Has the Bhagavad Gita replaced Sun Tzu's The Art of War as the hip new ancient Eastern management text?

November 9, 2006

The Arrow of Time

Pictures taken on the same day every year.... a great quick look at life and how they have changed (physically) over 30 years!

Really neat that they have pictures all the way back from 1976. This idea is much better than the sites I have seen where people, thanks to the modern conveniences of digital cameras and phone cameras, take a picture of themself every single day of the year and post it at their blogs. Simply too boring and narcisstic, in my opinion. There are variations on this theme, like a daily photo from Paris or San Fransisco or London or Earth Science picture of the day or the NASA picture of the day... that I enjoy because it is not the same face every day but is like a picture-blog or a plog.. (If people can have vlogs, I think this one's gotta be called a plog!)

Nice graphics at this kinda related page called The Circular Life

November 2, 2006

Death be not proud - 4

I accidentally ran into a list of unusual deaths on wikipedia today ..

Disclaimer: Everything in brown is directly cut-n-pasted from the wikipedia entry and has not been verified or even re-worded by me.

1. These entries about some really famous people caught my eye.. I did not know this!!

a) 1983 - Tennessee Williams died choking on a bottle cap.--and am surprised this tradition still continues after this..

b) 1849: Edgar Allan Poe, famous American writer and poet, was found on October 7, 1849, at a Baltimore tavern in a state of delirium and wearing clothes he didn't own. He died in a Washington, D.C. hospital early the next morning, his last words being "Lord, help my poor soul." While the official cause of death was listed as "congestion of the brain", the actual cause for his death has been a matter of debate ever since. The current prevailing theory is that he was a victim of rabies.

c) And this is big news to me....
1893: Tchaikovsky, the famous Russian composer, apparently committed suicide after being exposed in a homosexuality scandal. The means of his death is in dispute as to whether he took arsenic or drank cholera-infected water.

d) 1884: Allan Pinkerton, detective, died of gangrene resulting from having bitten his tongue after stumbling on the sidewalk.

e) 1916 : The English satirist, novelist and wit Saki was killed in France, during World War I by a sniper's bullet, having reportedly cried "Put that damned cigarette out!" to a fellow officer in his trench lest the glowing embers reveal their whereabouts.

(Another similar one, which I find both funny and sad at the same time is this one...

1915: François Faber, Luxembourgean Tour de France winner, died in a trench on the western front of World War I. He received a telegram saying his wife had given birth to a daughter. He cheered, giving away his position, and was shot by a German sniper. )

f) 1940: Leon Trotsky, the Soviet revolutionary leader in exile, was assassinated with an ice axe in his Mexico home. His killer, Spanish-born Soviet agent Ramon Mercader, acquired the ice axe in Trotsky's own office after being invited in. After receiving a brutal blow to the head, Trotsky fought and literally took a bite out of his murderer.

g) 1911: Jack Daniel, founder of the famous Tennessee whiskey distillery, died of blood poisoning from a toe injury he received after kicking his safe in anger when he could not remember its combination code. (By the way, did u know the Jack Daniel distillery in TN is in a dry county :))

2. I am going to use those last words when confronted by smart-alecs who think they know it all :)
1864: John Sedgwick, Union general in the American Civil War, was killed by a distant Confederate sniper at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. Among his last words to his men were "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"

3. Talk about going away in glory:

a) 1927: J.G. Parry-Thomas, a British racing driver, was decapitated by his car's drive chain which, under duress, snapped and whipped into the cockpit. He was attempting to break his own Land speed record which he had set the previous year. Despite being killed in the attempt, he succeeded in setting a new record of 171 mph.

b) 1953: Frank Hayes, jockey, suffered a heart attack during a horse race. The horse, Sweet Kiss, went on to finish first, making Hayes the only deceased jockey to win a race.

4. There are a few odd-ball entries like

1834: David Douglas, Scottish botanist, who fell in a pit trap, was crushed by a bull that fell in the same pit.

1845: Josiah P. Wilbarger, a Texan pioneer, was scalped by Comanches in 1833 but survived, leaving his skull exposed. He lived 11 years until fatally striking his head against a low beam in his cotton gin....

5. 1990: George Allen, an American football coach, died a month after some of his players dumped a Gatorade bucket on him following a victory (as it is tradition in American Football), resulting in pneumonia.

6. And last but not least... this one has to be the most gruesome on the list. I had kinda read about this somewhere but had not read the details! Uggh....this will revulse you!

2001: Bernd-Jürgen Brandes was stabbed repeatedly in the neck and then eaten by Armin Meiwes. Before the killing, both men dined on Brandes' severed penis. Brandes had answered an internet advertisement by Meiwes looking for someone for this purpose. Brandes explicitly stated in his will that he wished to be killed and eaten.

Hell & Personality Disorders

I took Dante's Inferno Test. Here are the results...

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Sixth Level of Hell - The City of Dis!

Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Moderate
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate

Go ahead... you take
the Test and see how you do!!

The personality disorder test sayeth:

Paranoid Personality Disorder:Moderate
Schizoid Personality Disorder:Low
Schizotypal Personality Disorder:Low
Antisocial Personality Disorder:Low
Borderline Personality Disorder:Low
Histrionic Personality Disorder:Moderate
Narcissistic Personality Disorder:Moderate
Avoidant Personality Disorder:High
Dependent Personality Disorder:Moderate
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:Low

-- Take the Personality Disorder Test --

A new blog

I have started a new blog where I will attempt to write 1 post DAILY with each post EXACTLY 200 words.

The first post today is a cathartic rant of sorts but I hope it will be interesting and exciting topics in the near future, while at the same time trying to hone my writing skills and move away from merely providing a series of links from across the internet.

Go now... read the blog. I am hoping it will become a more constructive enterprise (and a more widely read one at that!) than my other attempts at blogging to date.

Update: This effort did not go far!

GoogleTube - II

Even as there comes news of the web reaching a 100 million websites, you know Google has made it see this! If there was a God, she would also Google.. :)
Expected but sad to see that people, including some big companies like Time Warner , have their eyes on Google's deep pockets and going after Google for all sorts of reasons... just like the Ohio pipe manufacturer who suddenly realized after Google took over Youtube that his company was being killed by Youtube because its website clashes with!!! No wonder, Google's lawyers (these two young kids) are having a busy time and trying to "establish a body of legal interpretation that favors the company."
The 1,001 top rated videos from Youtube updated every week
If you don't have the time to see videos online but can watch it later ... here are 5 Easy Ways to Download Video from Google and YouTube to your Computer
And if you are really interested, you can catch up on all your Youtube news here
And speaking of videos, did not find this one on Youtube but stumbled into it yesterday... (I have a feeling, 'stumbled' is going to be my next best-verb after 'googled' :))'ve got to see this video of a VERY lucky Indian lady!
And though today's the age of videos, sometimes pictures can be very funny too... a few words of ignorance or otherwise bring more laughs and mirth than a funny video or 10 episodes of America's Funniest Videos can (that show should be renamed America's dumbest videos!).

Although, I should say this - With pictures, I find it more and more difficult to be sure if it is photoshopped or not. For eg: see these pictures of a
fog in Dubai or these pictures of cloud/sunrise over Mt Helens..or this sand-storm in Iraq or some of the pictures in this ‘Last photo I took’ series.. or this picture of an icy day in who-knows-where! As you will see in this video, even beauty can come from... Photoshop though obviously, beauty may also be caught through some interesting high-speed (super slow motion) videos too!

And now you can
watch some Movies online – not sure though how long this site will be on as I am not sure if this site is not in violation of copyright rules!

That’s all for now… more links on some neat sites based on Flickr to be added later.. Enjoy!

Not one more refugee death, by Emmy Pérez

And just like that, my #NPM2018 celebrations end with  a poem  today by Emmy Pérez. Not one more refugee death by Emmy Pérez A r...