Friday, October 25, 2013

Amazonia Manauara

Amazônia Manauara from MOOV on Vimeo.

The Cheater's Pastime

As part of Pacific Standard's cheaters' week, Tomas Rios looks at some of the strange tales of cheating in baseball:
Circa 1880s: Future Hall of Fame pitcher James Francis “Pud” Galvin becomes baseball’s first confirmed user of performance-enhancing drugs. His cocktail of choice was the Brown-Séquard elixir, a concoction of testicles harvested from dogs, guinea pigs, and, maybe, monkeys. The harvester was Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard, an elderly physiologist and neurologist who claimed hypodermic injections of his elixir-prolonged human life. Galvin was praised for his forward-thinking ways in an 1889 edition of the Washington Post and died at the age of 45.
another favorite:
1936-Present: Three consecutive generations of the Bossard family have presided over Comiskey Park, home stadium of the Chicago White Sox. Emil Bossard came first in 1935 and used his encyclopaedic knowledge of the stadium to begin what would become the family business. His greatest hits include using scoreboard signals to tip off the visiting team’s pitches and moving the stadium’s portable outfield fences back to stifle opposing home run hitters.
Next up was Gene, who supposedly invented the frozen baseball trick and routinely water-logged the infield to aid the team’s groundball pitchers: a tactic that earned Comiskey Park the nickname “Bossard’s Swamp.” Stories of tilted foul lines and grass cut to manipulate the speed of ground balls also abound. Current White Sox groundskeeper Roger Bossard says there are 17 tricks of the trade, but won’t reveal all of them. Many of those dirty tricks were invented by the Bossard family: the greatest cheaters in sports history.
There are some other good ones, including Albert Bell getting caught corking his bats, and the strange break-in to try to steal back the evidence.  Good times.

The Fifty Greatest Discoveries Since the Wheel

The Atlantic put together a panel of thinkers to pick them out.  Number 1? The printing press, followed by electricity.  Number 11 was nitrogen fixation for synthetic fertilizer.  I recommend checking the list out.  As they were telling how they came up with it and what to look for in the future, there was this:
Elon Musk, not officially one of our panelists, is perhaps this era’s most ambitious innovator. He simultaneously heads a company building rocket ships, SpaceX; another making a popular electric car, Tesla; and another that is a leading provider of solar power, SolarCity. When I asked him what innovation he hoped to live long enough to see but feared he might not, he said, “Sustainable human settlements on Mars.”
Maybe he meant that if we could create sustainable human settlements on Mars then we'd already have every problem on Earth solved.  Because to solve all the problems we'd have to solve to have sustainable human settlements on Mars,developing renewable energy and stopping global warning would be easy as shit.  We've evolved to live on this planet, and nowhere else.  Mars' atmosphere would be toxic to us, the temperature range would be uninhabitable.  There would be zero building supplies. Liquid water cannot exist in the Martian atmosphere except at the lowest elevations for short periods of time.  Nothing we could take there would grow.  There are no energy sources except solar and wind power.  We couldn't even start a fire if there was even something there to burn.  And there are a lot of other challenges I'm not thinking of.  Considering those issues, I would suggest we try to stick around here and solve some of the problems we've got.  That really sounds like a breeze compared to hauling ourselves and everything we would need to live to a place where we die if exposed to the atmosphere, and we'd still have to rely on supplies hauled from Earth in a trip that would take a year and a half one way.  Not that it's impossible, but, c'mon.


NYC ² from Alix A.K.A L'intrépide on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Real Train Wreck

Wreck in Snow Bank, Boiler Explosion, Engine No. 70
Courtesy of De Forest Douglas Diver Railroad Photographs, ca. 1870-1948/Cornell University Library

These photos, all of which depict train wrecks on the New York Ontario & Western Railway in New York State in the 1870s, are part of a larger group of images of railroad life assembled by De Forest Douglas Diver, a railroad engineer and photographer. This collection is currently held at Cornell University, and many of the photographs are available for view on Flickr.
Some of these images are quite aesthetically pleasing, despite their subject matter. The wreck of N.Y.O. & W. Engine 140, in particular, is framed as a near-perfect pyramid, with six onlookers (including one babe in arms) decorating the pile of broken steel. Other images show the crews of laborers it took to get the rubble off the track after the violence of a crash.
Little information is available about these wrecks beyond their dates. Historian Richard Selcer writes that although 19th-century railroad accidents were distressingly common, it’s hard to arrive at an official tally, because record-keeping was informal: “Companies were not even required to report all collisions and derailments until 1901, when the Interstate Commerce Commission assumed control over railroad safety standards.”
There are some fascinating photos included in there. One good one shows a snow plow mounted on the front of a train.

Why We Need Higher Marginal Rates

The Guardian:
In the United States, the share of total pre-tax income accruing to the top 1% has more than doubled, from less than 10% in the 1970s to over 20% today (pdf). A similar pattern is true of other English-speaking countries. Contrary to the widely-held view, however, globalisation and new technologies are not to blame. Other OECD countries, such as those in continental Europe, or Japan have seen far less concentration of income among the mega rich.
At the same time, top income tax rates on upper income earners have declined significantly since the 1970s in many OECD countries – again, particularly in English-speaking ones. For example, top marginal income tax rates in the United States or the United Kingdom were above 70% in the 1970s, before the Reagan and Thatcher revolutions drastically cut them by 40 percentage points within a decade.
At a time when most OECD countries face large deficits and debt burdens, a crucial public policy question is whether governments should tax high earners more. The potential tax revenue at stake is now very large.
For example, doubling the average US individual income tax rate on the top 1% income earners from the current 22.5% level to 45% would increase tax revenue by 2.7% of GDP per year – as much as letting all of the Bush tax cuts expire (only a small fraction of them lapsed in January 2013). But of course, this simple calculation is static: such a large increase in taxes may well affect the economic behaviour of the rich and the income they report pre-tax, the broader economy and, ultimately, the tax revenue generated. In recent research, we analyse this issue both conceptually and empirically using international evidence on top incomes and top tax rates since the 1970s.
There is a strong correlation between the reductions in top tax rates and the increases in top 1% pre-tax income shares, for the period from 1975-79 to 2004-08, across 18 OECD countries for which top income share information is available. For example, the United States experienced a 35 percentage-point reduction in its top income tax rate and a very large ten percentage-point increase in its top 1% pre-tax income share. By contrast, France or Germany saw very little change in their top tax rates and their top 1% income shares during the same period.
I was just trying to make this point on Tuesday night to a couple of Tea Party Libertarian types I went to high school with.  They looked at me like I had 3 heads.  To me, it makes pretty damn good sense, but it seems most folks around here just think it is the worst idea in the world.  My point is that if something doesn't change, the so-called defenders of Capitalism will end up being its destroyers.  With widening inequality, somethings gotta give.  I'd much rather it be low tax rates on top incomes that go away than society as we know it.

All About the Barrels

Wayne Curtis lays out everything you'd ever like to know about whiskey barrels, and how they add to the character of the drink.  While the whole thing was interesting, I really liked this:
Liquor barrels are essentially Dickensian nano-factories—dark, sooty, mysterious places from which marvelous things emerge. But they came to that role only after long service as simple containers for shipping and storage.
“The barrel, like the wheel, is one of the outstanding basic inventions of mankind,” wrote the historian William B. Sprague in a 1938 essay. Wooden-stave barrels first appeared millennia ago. In the first century A.D., Pliny the Elder noted their widespread use in the foothills of the Alps.
Used for centuries to transport everything from whale oil to pickles to nails, the barrel is far more ingenious than it appears at first glance. It bows out slightly in the middle (called the bilge), so each individual stave forms a longitudinal arch linking a barrel’s top and bottom. Each stave also abuts two adjoining staves, so they form, collectively, another arch, this one latitudinal around the circumference of the barrel. Barrels are thus remarkably stout and durable: if one tumbled off a ship’s gangway onto a wharf during loading, the impact of the fall was shared by all the staves, reducing the risk of breakage.
Barrel design also evolved such that a single stevedore could move one weighing hundreds of pounds. When standing upright, a barrel can be tilted and rolled on its edge; on its side, it’s even more maneuverable—only a tiny portion of the barrel touches the ground, so it can be spun in any direction, and a light push will start it moving. A skilled worker can bring it upright by rocking it a few times and popping it into position.
The emerging microdistillery movement is doing a lot of experimenting on the barrel aging side to see what they can do to quicken the aging, since it is hard for a business to wait four or more years until they can sell product.  If you are interested in spirits, this is the article for you.

Flour Mill To Be Built In SE Indiana

Cincinnati Enquirer:
A new wheat processing plant is expected to open in West Harrison and the plant’s operator expects to employ 35 people at the site by 2016.
Teutopolis, Ill.-based Siemer Milling Co. and Cincinnati-based H. Nagel & Son plan to launch Whitewater Mill LLC as joint venture, the companies said Thursday.
The companies plan to invest $37.4 million to build and equip a five-floor wheat flour mill on Old U.S. 52. The facility is expected to be operational by spring 2015 and allow the company to produce 700 tons of wheat-based products daily.
Whitewater Mill will produce flours, flour co-products, wheat germ and bran for snack and dessert foods, baking mixes, biscuits, batters and breading. About 7 million bushels of wheat are expected to be processed annually, much of which will be supplied by local farmers, the companies said.
Early next year, Whitewater Mill will begin hiring millers, loaders, maintenance and packaging associates, laboratory technicians and managers.
“Nagel and Siemer see a great opportunity for flour milling in southeast Indiana,” said Rick Siemer, president of Siemer Milling, in a statement. “Existing and potential wheat supply and flour demand factors point to long-term success for this venture.”
I would not have picked that area as a good location to build a new flour mill.  I would think that we'd be seeing fewer acres of wheat in the area, not more.  

Chinese Smog Shuts City

 Heavy smog has shrouded much of eastern China, and air quality levels have been dropped to extremely dangerous levels. The heavy smog is caused by industrial pollution, coal and agricultural burning, and has been trapped by the mountains to the west and wind patterns. The thick haze of smog is clearly visible as the murky gray color in this true color satellite image.
Air pollution in Harbin hits a record:
Extreme levels of air pollution forced schools, roads and the airport to close in a large city in northeastern China on Monday.
In Harbin, the capital of the Heilongjiang province, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) reached levels of 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter in some parts of the city, readings 40 times the level of 25 or less micrograms per cubic meter that the World Health Organization considers ideal for human health and more than three times the level of 300 that’s considered hazardous — for comparison, as the New York Times notes, the air quality index in New York was 41 on Monday morning. It was the first time PM2.5 readings have hit 1,000 since China began releasing data on PM2.5 in January 2012.
Reducing visibility to less than 50 yards in some areas, the smog forced elementary and middle schools to cancel classes, closed some highways and led to cancellations of at least 40 flights. It was the first time this winter, a period known as the “heating season” that smog caused major problems for Chinese residents. In China, the heating season begins when city managers switch on the heating systems in homes and city buildings, which in Harbin happened on Sunday. The extra coal it takes to heat China’s cities in the winter, coupled with winter weather patterns makes the season especially prone to high levels of smog in the country.
Some of the reports said burning corn fodder after harvest also contributed to the problem.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Primordial ---- Yellowstone/Grand Tetons

Primordial ---- Yellowstone / Grand Tetons from Voortex Productions on Vimeo.

The Reddest of the Red States

Utah's citizens think Senator Lee shouldn't be so crazy:
This battle has taken a toll on his popularity, however. A Brigham Young University survey conducted during the shutdown found that 57 percent of Utahans wanted Lee to be more willing to compromise. The senator’s approval rating dropped to 40 percent — down from 50 percent in June — with 51 percent disapproving.
At the same time, the online poll found, the vast majority of Utah residents identifying with the tea party still backed Lee.
Lee waved off the findings. “The only number I worry about is how many people are being hurt by Obamacare,” he said.
But Lee acknowledged that voters disapproved of the shutdown — especially in Utah, where the federal government is the largest employer. Shuttered national parks hurt the tourism industry and thousands of workers at military installations were furloughed.
Is that why folks are so adamantly opposed to the federal government out west, because it is so much of a part of their lives?  It kind of calls into question that rugged individualism meme when the largest employer in the state is the evil folks in Washington.

The False Hype of Shale Oil

Kurt Cobb lays out the skeptical case against any chance of America reaching a point of energy independence:
Recent overblown statements about U.S. energy independence from the oil industry, its paid consultants and the fake think-tank academics it funds simply aren't supported by the numbers. I have discussed this issue in two previous pieces, "The Oil Industry's Deceitful Promise of American Energy Independence" and "Oil and gas industry uses deceptive energy independence message to push U.S. exports".
Recently, friend and colleague Jeffrey Brown--who is best known for his Export Land Model which foretold of shrinking global oil exports--did some fairly simple math to show how difficult it will be for the United States just to maintain its current production, let alone produce all the oil and natural gas it consumes.
In a recent email Brown, who is a Dallas-based independent petroleum geologist managing a joint-venture exploration program, wrote the following:
The EIA's [U.S. Energy Information Administration's] estimate for the most recent four week average crude oil production rate (Crude + Condensate)[which is the definition of oil] was 7.6 mbpd (million barrels per day). Refinery runs were 15.8 mbpd, and net crude oil imports averaged 8.0 mbpd. The numbers for total liquids are, of course, different.
As several people have noted for some time, the primary problem with the tight[oil]/[natural gas] shale plays is the high decline rate.
At a (probably conservative) 10%/year decline rate for existing U.S. crude oil production, in order to simply maintain current U.S. crude oil production, the industry would have to put on line the productive equivalent of every current oil field in the U.S. over the next 10 years, or in round numbers we would need the productive equivalent of 10 new Bakken plays over 10 years, in order to maintain current crude oil production.
Citi Research [an arm of Citigroup] puts the decline rate for existing U.S. natural gas production at about 24%/year, which would require the industry to replace about 100% of current U.S. natural gas production in four years, just to maintain current production, or we would need the productive equivalent of 30 new Barnett Shale plays over 10 years, in order to maintain current natural gas production.
Companies are not finding one new Bakken play each year; nor are they finding three new Barnett Shale-sized plays each year. In fact, production of U.S. natural gas has been just about flat since the beginning of 2012. U.S. crude oil production continues to grow, outpacing most projections. But, the United States would have to more than double its output from here to supply all of the country's needs.
As he mentions, Bakken production is still increasing, but I don't expect it to for very long.  Many of the wells that have come on line will soon start declining, and they will be playing catch up from then on.  The only way we'll hit energy independence is with massive efficiency improvements or massive increase in renewable energy infrastructure.

The Cup Makes a Visit

Legendary goalie and four-time Stanley Cup winner Ken Dryden asked to have a day with the Stanley Cup, and got his wish a couple years back.  In an excerpt from a new chapter in his re-released classic book The Game, he tells what he did with it.  One stop, the tiny town where his father was born and his cousins still farm the home place, Domain, Manitoba:
Hockey had been almost entirely an outdoor game until after the Second World War. Then, with money from the postwar boom, communities to be built and sacrifice to be commemorated, many hundreds of indoor "memorial" arenas were constructed across the country to honor those who had fought and died in the conflict. In 1967, many hundreds more "centennial" arenas went up to celebrate Canada's 100th birthday. It was these indoor arenas that turned hockey from a sport played as much on boots as on skates into a truly national game.
In rural areas, the construction of a rink also symbolized something more. In the postwar decades, new farm technology had allowed far fewer people to cultivate many more acres. Fewer towns were needed. Many wouldn't survive. Those that did got the jump on neighboring towns by making themselves less dispensable. They won the right to establish a school or a clinic; they put up a grain elevator, or built a rink. In 1976, the people of Domain decided they needed an arena of their own. The money would come from a municipal debenture. The arena cost $60,000 and took the community sixteen years to pay off. Shaped like a Quonset hut, the Domain Arena is made of galvanized tin and has a sand floor. With no brine pipes beneath it to create the ice, its hockey season depends on the weather, usually beginning by mid-December and lasting until late March.
Domain's population is less than seventy; 650 were in the rink. It could fit no more. Many kids, and adults, wore jerseys of their favorite NHL teams. Dave wore his Sabres jersey; I wore my Canadiens; Judy, Team Canada. Many others wore the jerseys of their local teams — Domain Kernels, Domain Pitura Seed, Domain Generals, Macdonald Lightning, Oak Bluff Bulls, Sanford Sabres. They came from nearby villages and hamlets — LaSalle, Sanford, Brunkild, Oak Bluff, Starbuck, Osborne, Ste. Agathe, and Rosenort. Others came back home to be with their families, from Winnipeg and from places more distant. Three generations, even four, were there.....
At one point in the evening, Monty Magarrell, the master of ceremonies, Jen's father-in-law, asked those who had helped out at the rink at any time during its history to stand. Astonishing those who had come back home to see the Cup, and astonishing each other as they looked around, most of the rink stood. A small town runs on volunteers. There's not enough money to hire others to do what needs to be done. There's too much to do. And now there are lots of nice new arenas. Even Winnipeg doesn't seem so far away. At times, the most fervent volunteers wonder why they do what they do. But if they stop, things break down, the challenge to live where they do grows, and their reason to stay diminishes. The Cup gave the people of Domain and area a need to get together to do what didn't seem possible. And in doing it, to remind themselves why they volunteer, why they live in Domain, why their rink matters; to feel proud and, as Jen Magarrell put it, for "bragging rights to boot!" Two years later, people still talk about "the night the Stanley Cup was in Domain."
When people not from Domain describe the village as being "in the middle of nowhere," Domainers seem a little offended, and more surprised, as if that never occurred to them. As if they are somewhere. The night was about the Cup, but, as it turned out, more than that it was about the spirit that wins the Cup. It was about Domain.
That is a really good description of many small towns and rural communities, even if it is in the land up north.  The Canadian hockey history is pretty interesting too.  There's also a bit about the rink's hand pushed "Manboni."

Three Types of People in U.S.?

Marina Koren reports on a recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology:
Thanks to demography researchers and their love for maps, Americans can visualize where their home states fit in on a national scale of a variety of political, economic, social, and health characteristics. One of the latest maps forgoes these traditional methods of measuring the country and investigates something a little less observable: the personality traits of its citizens.
The map, published in a recent study in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, chops the country into three distinct psychological regions based on a range of empirical data. The researchers didn't predict what these clusters might look like (or how many of them there would be), but they expected neighboring states to be, on average, psychologically similar. Geographic proximity is often correlated with human behavior, such as personality traits and lifestyles.
The researchers used self-reported information from nearly 1.6 million people collected over 12 years for 48 states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) and the District of Columbia. They employed a commonly used personality scale to measure participants on their levels of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience, as well as separate measures to gauge opinion on politics, social issues, leisure interests and music preferences. When a given state is said to be high in neuroticism, for example, that is to say that the mean level of that trait derived from a sample of that state's residents is high compared with the mean levels of the trait from samples of residents from other states. State-level factors like economic, social, health, and religious trends, along with census data, were also included in the analysis.
What's personality type of people in the Midwest?:
The "Friendly and Conventional" region. The first region features the states of Middle America, including South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa, known as the "red" states. People here ranked highly in levels of extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, moderately low in neuroticism, and very low in openness. Residents of the region tend to be "sociable, considerate, dutiful, and traditional," the researchers write. They are predominantly white with low levels of education, wealth, and social tolerance, and tend to be more religious and politically conservative than people outside of the region. They are also less healthy compared with other Americans.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Couple Depressing Maps



A little explanation:
A majority of public school children in 17 states, one-third of the 50 states across the nation, were low income students – eligible for free or reduced lunches – in the school year that ended in 2011. Thirteen of the 17 states were in the South, and the remaining four were in the West. Since 2005, half or more of the South’s children in public schools have been from low income households.
Low income is defined as below 130% of the poverty line and these kids qualify for a free lunch.  Poverty also significantly impacts reading test scores, school opportunities and the ability to go to college.  When one just looks at cities, the situation is much worse.  Kids in public schools who are low income account for 59.8% on average of all students in K-12 public schools.  Any urban area with a population greater than 100,000 is teeming with America's poor.  Mississippi had the highest rate of low income students, 83%, In New Jersey cities 78% of the students are poor and Louisiana, Illinois and Oklahoma all low income rates of greater than 70% for their K-12 students.
There is a little nuance to this information, as whites fled to private schools throughout the south after integration took place.  But still, the numbers are very depressing.  These ans more maps of economic  hardship are here.

Hedge Fund Tries To Screw County on Property Taxes

Thousands of brick houses line the streets of Huber Heights, a leafy suburb of Dayton, Ohio, named for the builder who developed it in the 1950s and nurtured its growth. Until this year, his family was the town’s biggest landlord, with a third of all rental housing. Now the tenants’ payments are being routed to a $9 billion hedge fund. Magnetar Capital LLC, investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for its housing bets leading up to the property crash, acquired a rental business in January with about 1,900 properties from Charles H. Huber’s widow. In April, its management company applied for the largest cut to property tax assessments in the county’s history. The move could curb funding for public schools, the police and fire departments and services to the disabled, said Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith....
On April 1, the new property managers asked to have the assessed value on 1,218 residences in Montgomery County cut by 49 percent, to $50 million from $98.6 million, according to Keith, the county auditor.
Vinebrook co-founder Daniel Bathon, a former Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. investment banker, said the tax cut will help them invest more in the properties, which will increase their attractiveness and value over time.
“We’re going to improve the resident base for the town, which I think is a big asset to the community,” he said in a telephone interview from Huber Heights.
The assessments, based on a combination of comparable sales and estimates of cash flow from income properties, are considered fair market values, so resale amounts are lower if they go down, Keith said. The reassessments could influence surrounding property values, if local homeowners follow suit.
“Other property owners might look at those and see those as evidence their properties are worth less,” Keith said.
Granting the appeal would reduce property tax collections by $1.39 million, including as much as about $800,000 to Huber Heights City Schools, equivalent to about 16 teaching positions, and curb financing for community colleges, police, fire, libraries and services to the disabled, according to Keith.
Leeches on society. Sort of like great vampire squids. I'm really sick of corporations avoiding taxation and passing the tax burden onto their workers and the rest of society.  It's absolute bullshit.  These fuckers could use a conscience.

Fighting the Tragedy of the Commons

Some northwest Kansas farmers agree to limit irrigation water:
A few years ago, officials from the state of Kansas who monitor the groundwater situation came to the farmers of Hoxie and told them that the water table here was falling fast. They drew a line around an area covering 99 square miles, west of the town, and called together the farmers in that area for a series of meetings.
They told the farmers that the water was like gasoline in the tank. If every one agreed to use it more sparingly, it would last longer.
Proposals to cut back water for irrigation have not been popular in parts like these, to say the least. In the past, farmers across the American West have treated them like declarations of war. Raymond Luhman, who works for the that includes Hoxie, says that's understandable: "Many of them feel like the right to use that water is ..." he says, pausing, "it's their lifeblood!"
It's also their property. Under the law, it's not clear that any government can take it away from them, or order them to use less of it.
But in Hoxie, the conversation took a different turn.
Some influential farmers, including Baalman, pushed for everybody to pump less water. Baalman talked about his four children, how he wanted to preserve water for them.

He also talked about the town, and how it depended on irrigated agriculture. He argued that it would be better for the town to manage that water, to keep it flowing in the future.
What will determine whether the experiment continues?  Probably whether other farmers in the High Plains limit their own water usage:
Another farmer, Gary Moss, says he supports the agreement, but he's really waiting to see if farmers in other parts of western Kansas will do anything similar. The farmers of Hoxie don't want to stand alone in this, he says. It wouldn't be fair.
"If nobody else is jumping onboard, I think there's a lot of people who will say, 'We're not doing any good. We're just hurting ourselves,' " he says.
It's a paradox. This agreement to pump less water only happened because it was small: a deal among neighbors who cared about their town. But it may not survive unless it gets much bigger, including farmers all across the High Plains Aquifer.
I don't have much faith that other groups of farmers will join in until it is obvious they are screwed.  The mining will continue until it no longer can.  I'm glad to see that somebody is trying to be wise, but money talks and everything else walks.

The Golden Shower Rule

Scientists have found a law of urination:
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered a new golden rule: every mammal takes about 21 seconds to urinate. Patricia Yang and her co-authors dubbed it the "Law of Orientation" in a paper published this week, and they say it applies across a wide range of animal sizes.
Yang and her team discovered this commonality after observing male and female cows, dogs, elephants, goats, and rats at the Atlanta Zoo. They filmed these animals urinating, taking note of their size, bladder pressure, and urethra length, and then searched for videos of other peeing animals on YouTube. Based on mathematical models derived from these data, the scientists found that every animal took an average of 21 seconds to relieve itself, despite bladders that varied in volume from 100 milliliters to 100 liters.
That's not to say that animal size doesn't matter. According to Yang, it just doesn't have a significant impact. Prior to this study, most urination models focused on bladder pressure and relatively small mammals. As a result, they didn't take gravity into account.
As New Scientist explains, an elephant's long urethra —  one meter, with a diameter of ten centimeters — gives its urine more time to pick up speed. Because of this, the animal can empty its enormous bladder in about the same time as goats, dogs, and other medium-sized mammals. For small mammals like rats and bats, gravity doesn't exert much influence on flow rates, which are instead determined by viscosity and surface tension. That's why they urinate in small drops, Yang says, finishing the job in less than a second.
The researchers will present their findings next month at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting.
Does this figure in any way into stadium bathroom design?

The Biggest Fall

The Armstrong Lie:

I always thought he was dirty. That is one bar argument I eventually came out the winner on.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

NASA Photo of the Day

October 5 (yes, they put up pictures for the days of the shutdown):

October Aurora in Prairie Skies
Image Credit & Copyright: Randy Halverson
Explanation: Wind and spaceweather are transformed in this haunting night skyscape. The prairie windmill and colorful auroral display were captured on October 1, from central South Dakota, USA, as a good season for aurora hunters came with longer autumn nights. From green to rarer reddish hues, the northern lights are sparked by the geomagnetic storms caused by solar activity. These extend far above the cloud bank to altitudes well over 100 kilometers, against the backdrop of distant stars in the northern night. Visual double star Mizar, marking the middle of the Big Dipper's handle, is easy to spot at the left edge of the frame. The dipper's North Celestial Pole pointers Merak and Dubhe line up vertically near picture center.

Not a Good Day


I was getting over a little bit for a car when the combine started sliding down the ditch and into the worst wet hole you could imagine.  It was tipped far enough over that the front wheel was spinning and throwing some smoke about time I got the hydrostatic turned off.  We tried pulling on it with two tractors, but it was getting buried deeper.  Eventually, we got a wrecker out there, and working with a tractor and the wrecker, we got it out.  I tell you what, climbing up that ladder and then walking down a really steep slope into the cab felt really weird.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day than today.  I'd say the odds are in my favor that it will be.

Way To Go, House Republicans

The Des Moines Register points out ways Iowans were hurt by the House Republicans government shutdown:
One of the important take­aways from the government’s limited shutdown was this: While lots of people like to complain about the federal government, there is little agreement on what less government should look like.
Folks around Moville who suffered tornado damage recently were frustrated that the government representatives whose reports were needed for federal disaster assistance weren’t there when they were needed.
Some of the businesses in West Branch, home to the Herbert Hoover birthplace and presidential library, were frustrated that tourists stopped coming to the government attraction and their sales declined precipitously.
Scientists at the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, the U.S. government’s largest facility to track and deal with livestock diseases, were concerned that their long-term experiments were jeopardized because no one was tending their laboratories.
Officials at the University of Iowa began formulating contingency plans in case the shutdown continued and they had to end tens of millions of dollars in medical and scientific studies conducted there for the federal government.
In Des Moines, Gov. Terry Branstad’s staff was well aware that a prolonged shutdown had far-reaching implications for the state. Nearly every state agency relies to some extent on money from Washington. In fiscal year 2012, the cost of operating state government and programs that 3 million Iowans depend on was about $14.6 billion, with $6.5 billion of that coming from the federal government.
Without the federal government, Iowa would lose almost all its money for nursing home inspectors and services to foster care families. The state would have to find other ways to get food to seniors and low-income people. Needy college students would have to find other ways to pay for their schooling — or do without.
But that’s not all. There were delays in processing disability benefits, performing food safety inspections and investigating transportation accidents. Some businesses were unable to import and export goods. The nation’s king crab fishing fleet remained in port because there were no federal workers to set quotas for their catches.
There was some talk by Republicans that they might raise the debt ceiling for six weeks but leave the government shut down.  They are lucky that the Democrats didn't let them do that, because they would have looked pretty damn stupid as more and more people realized how they were negatively impacted by the shutdown.  Yes, a functioning society needs government, and Republicans would do well to remember that.

23 Years

October 20, 1990:

Damn, I'm old.  Damn, I hope the Reds win another one during my lifetime.