19 Jul 2014

Helicopter Look at Siberian Crater

, , ,

IFL Science:

Russian scientists got their first look inside the mysterious crater in Yamal, Siberia on Wednesday, July 16, while the Siberian Times took a helicopter ride to get another look down into the hole.

Based off of the original video of the crater, it was estimated that the crater could have been up to 80 meters wide. However, Andrey Plekhanov of the State Scientific Centre of Arctic Research told The Siberian Times that the hole is about 30 meters wide and the outer portion that includes the soil emission is around 60 meters in diameter. The researchers were also able to get their first look at the icy lake that exists at the bottom of the 70-meters-deep hole. Soil, air, and water samples have been taken in order to help determine the cause.

Preliminary results indicate that the hole was formed within the last two years and satellite data is being examined to try and identify exactly when it first appeared. Plekhanov told the Siberian Times that it was an ejection from within the permafrost, but it was not an explosion as there was not a release of heat.

Some had initially speculated that natural gas had been trapped underground in ice, as the area had been locked in permafrost for thousands of years. However, as the ground thawed and the gas became warmer, the increased pressure may have ejected outward and caused the hole. The summers of 2012 and 2013 were especially warm in the region, but the researchers still have more work to do before naming a specific cause.

I think you can see by the ground coloration that this crater occurred along an underground watercourse.

18 Jul 2014

The Working Gas Can, Murdered by Government

, , ,

GasCan
Old-fashioned (now illegal) plastic gas can with built-in vent.

Jeffrey Tucker discusses in loving detail one prominent example of the countless ways in which government regulation has impacted the lives of just about every American.

[Y]esterday, [I ran out of gas and] had to get a can of gas from the local car shop. I started to pour it in. But, hmmm, this is strange. The nozzle doesn’t quite go in. I tilted it up and tried to jam it in.

I waited. Then I noticed gas pouring all down the side of the car. So I pulled it out and experimented by pouring it on the ground. There was some weird contraption on the outside and it wasn’t clear how it worked.

I poured more and more on the ground. Some got on my shoe. Some got on my hands. Some got on my suit.

Gas was everywhere really — everywhere but in the tank. It was a gassy mess. If someone had lit a match, I would have been a goner.

Finally I turned out the crazy nozzle thing a few times. It began to drip in a slightly coherent direction so I jammed it in. I ended up putting about one cup of gas in, started my car and made it to the gas station.

I’m pretty sure gas cans used to work. Yes. It was a can. It had a spout. It had a vent hole on the other side. You stuck in the spout and tipped. You never saw the gas.

Then government “fixed” the gas can. Why? Because of the environmental hazards that come with spilled gas. You read that right. In other words, the very opposite resulted. Now you cannot buy a decent can anywhere. You can look forever and not find a new one.

Instead you have to go to garage sales. But actually people hoard old cans. There is a burgeoning market in kits to fix the can.

The whole trend began in (wait for it) California. Regulations began in 2000, with the idea of preventing spillage. The notion spread and was picked up by the EPA, which is always looking for new and innovative ways to spread as much human misery as possible.

An ominous regulatory announcement from the EPA came in 2007: “Starting with containers manufactured in 2009… it is expected that the new cans will be built with a simple and inexpensive permeation barrier and new spouts that close automatically.”

The government never said “no vents.” It abolished them de facto with new standards that every state had to adopt by 2009. So for the last five years, you have not been able to buy gas cans that work properly. They are not permitted to have a separate vent. The top has to close automatically. There are other silly things now, too, but the biggest problem is that they do not do well what cans are supposed to do. …

Never heard of this rule? You will know about it if you go to the local store. Most people buy one or two of these items in the course of a lifetime, so you might otherwise have not encountered this outrage.

Yet let enough time go by. A whole generation will come to expect these things to work badly. Then some wise young entrepreneur will have the bright idea, “Hey, let’s put a hole on the other side so this can work properly.” But he will never be able to bring it into production. The government won’t allow it because it is protecting us! ….

There is no possible rationale for these kinds of regulations. It can’t be about emissions really, since the new cans are more likely to result in spills. It’s as if some bureaucrat were sitting around thinking of ways to make life worse for everyone, and hit upon this new, cockamamie rule.

These days, government is always open to a misery-making suggestion. The notion that public policy would somehow make life better is a relic of days gone by. It’s as if government has decided to specialize in what it is best at and adopt a new principle: “Let’s leave social progress to the private sector; we in the government will concentrate on causing suffering and regress.” …

Ask yourself this: If they can wreck such a normal and traditional item like this, and do it largely under the radar screen, what else have they mandatorily malfunctioned? How many other things in our daily lives have been distorted, deformed and destroyed by government regulations?

If some product annoys you in surprising ways, there’s a good chance that it is not the invisible hand at work, but rather the regulatory grip that is squeezing the life out of civilization itself.

Read the whole thing.

Air conditioners which don’t cool as well as their predecessors made 60 years ago, toilets that won’t flush, automobiles without spare tires which cost more than the house you grew up in… the list of products of federal regulatory intervention to make the world a better place is long, and it keeps growing.

18 Jul 2014

Blood Types: Things Known & Unknown

, ,

BloodTypes1

Carl Zimmerman‘s article at Ars Technica offers a useful precis.

Why do 40 percent of Caucasians have Type A, while only 27 percent of Asians do? Where do different blood types come from, and what do they do?

To get some answers, I went to the experts—to hematologists, geneticists, evolutionary biologists, virologists, and nutrition scientists. In 1900, the Austrian physician Karl Landsteiner first discovered blood types, winning the Nobel Prize for his research in 1930. Since then, scientists have developed ever more powerful tools for probing the biology of blood types. They’ve found some intriguing clues about blood types—tracing their deep ancestry, for example, and detecting influences of blood types on our health. And yet I found that in many ways, blood types remain strangely mysterious. Scientists have yet to come up with a good explanation for their very existence.

“Isn’t it amazing?” says Ajit Varki, a biologist at the University of California at San Diego, “Almost a hundred years after the Nobel Prize was awarded for this discovery, we still don’t know exactly what they’re for.”

I’m Type O, RH positive myself.

18 Jul 2014

At It Again!

, ,

SpielbergUnicorn

17 Jul 2014

Proposed Middle-Aged Harry Potter Book Covers

,

HarryPotterBookCovers

io9.com

More at Happy Place.

Harry Potter and the Prostate of Secrets is a strong contender.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

17 Jul 2014

More British Accents

, ,

Back in April, we came upon a video of Andrew Jack doing a tour of British (and Irish) accents.

Siobhan Thompson does a female voice version of the same sort of tour.

Hat tip to the Dish.

17 Jul 2014

Applying Math to Myth

, , ,

SagaConnections
Network combining the five major Icelandic sagas. White nodes represent characters who appear in more than one saga. There is a large overlap of characters from Laxdæla Saga (green) and Njáls Saga (red). The other sagas are Egil (blue), Vatnsdaela (yellow), and Gisla (light blue).

Veronique Greenwood, at the Verge, describes a fascinating application of the techniques of statistical physics to identify patterns and relationships in medieval literature.

An unusual article recently appeared in the magazine of the Royal Statistical Society and American Statistical Association.

It featured web-like diagrams of lines connecting nodes, a hallmark of research that analyzes networks. But each node, rather than being a plain dot, was the head of a burly, red-bearded Viking sporting a horned hat, his tresses blowing in the wind.

This whimsical-seeming piece of scholarship went on to describe the social network of more than 1,500 characters in the Icelandic Sagas, epic tales about the colonization of Iceland around a thousand years ago that were first written down a few hundred years after that. It was the work of a pair of statistical physicists, Ralph Kenna of University of Coventry in the UK and his graduate student Pádraig Mac Carron, now at Oxford, who are applying the tools of their trade to works of epic literature, legend, and myth.

For this particular analysis, they painstakingly recorded the relationship of every settler in 18 sagas. The resulting web of interactions helped shed light on theories humanities scholars have been discussing for years, and even picked up on some previously unnoticed patterns. Their work is part of a movement that promises a new way to approach old questions in literature, history, and archaeology, with fanciful diagrams as just the appetizer.

Demonstration of social network analysis, with red lines representing unfriendly connections and green lines representing friendly ones.

The story of how Kenna and Mac Carron got here begins with the Irish tale of the cattle-raid of Cooley, or the Táin Bó Cúailnge. That yarn tells how the warrior-queen Medb of Connacht rallies an army to steal a fine bull from Ulster, and how youthful Cúchulainn, an Ulster folk hero, stands against her. Complete with a maiden prophet with three pupils in each eye, wild chariot rides, and an enormous cast of characters, it’s a story to grip anyone’s imagination.

It’s a story that Kenna and Mac Carron, who are both Irish, have known since childhood. Several years ago, Kenna, who has a successful career as a physicist, found his thoughts returning to mythology. It wasn’t as big a departure as it might seem at first. “In statistical physics, you’re dealing with objects such as gasses that are comprised of molecules and atoms,” he says. “The system consists of many small entities, and so many of them you cannot deal with them individually, you have to deal with them statistically.” Some physicists have started to use similar methods to look at how large numbers of people interact to produce aspects of human society, and Kenna wondered whether they could be applied to myths and stories. The Táin, which comes to us in pieces from many different manuscripts, the oldest nearly 1,000 years old, is considered literature rather than historical account. But it might still encode, in a way statistics can reveal, information about the society that produced it. Math might also help classify tales in a new way, quantitatively, in addition to the usual qualitative classifications.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

16 Jul 2014

Rolling Stone Shared All Its Knowledge About Guns

, , , , ,

RollingStoneGuns
Quote: “Pistols

Popular among handgun-owners, pistols are defined by their built-in barrel and short stock. They are the most commonly recovered firearm type reported by the ATF. With more than 119,000 pistols found at crime scenes in 2012, this handgun model holds an unfortunately solid first place in criminal weaponry.

One of the most popular pistols is the Glock, a short-recoil operated, semi-automatic pistol produced by Glock Ges.m.b.H. in Deutsch-Wagram, Austria. Glocks comprise 65 percent of the market share of handguns for United States law enforcement agencies and are also frequently used by international law-enforcement.”

Rolling Stones’ The 5 Most Dangerous Guns in America photoessay lists “Pistols, Revolvers, Rifles, Shotguns, and Derringers” as the five firearms “causing the most harm.” Rolling Stone journalists don’t seem to understand that Derringers and Revolvers are pistols, and they provoked a sardonic smile on my part by using a photo (above) of a Phoenix HP-22 to illustrate the pistol tirade which talks all about Glocks. I guess they don’t actually know what a Glock is either.

Good thing inanimate objects do not sue, or all those guns would be in a position to win a libel case based on being blamed for causing harm. I feel perfectly sure that not a single gun ever caused any harm absent human intervention.

Rolling Stone set a kind of new record for ignorant vapidity, and that accomplishment did not go unnoticed and unmocked. There was by last night already a Twitchy page featuring parodies.

16 Jul 2014

Good Political Ad

, , ,

Somebody on Facebook also posted this political ad, ran last time around by Republican Roger Williams, who ran for the Texas 25th District Congressional seat and won.

16 Jul 2014

“I’m Not Doing That” Department

, ,

Somebody posted this on Facebook this morning.

15 Jul 2014

English Departments Today

, , , ,

Deresiewicz
William Deresiewicz

Critic, and former Yale professor, William Deresiewicz did a really excellent job of savaging Lawrence Buell’s The Dream of the Great American Novel

Buell’s book tells us a great deal about American fiction. What it also tells us, in its every line, is much of what is wrong with academic criticism. We can start with the language…. Here is a fair sample of Buell’s prose:

    Admittedly any such dyadic comparison risks oversimplifying the menu of eligible strategies, but the risk is lessened when one bears in mind that to envisage novels as potential GANs is necessarily to conceive them as belonging to more extensive domains of narrative practice that draw on repertoires of tropes and recipes for encapsulating nationness of the kinds sketched briefly in the Introduction—such that you can’t fully grasp what’s at stake in any one possible GAN without imagining the individual work in multiple conversations with many others, and not just U.S. literature either.

That’s one sentence. There is an idea in there somewhere, but it can’t escape the prose—the Byzantine syntax and Latinate diction, the rhetorical falls and grammatical stumbles. Schmidt’s smooth sentences urge us ever onward. Buell’s, like boulders, say stop, go back.

The truth is that by academic standards, Buell’s writing isn’t especially bad—which makes him, as an instance, even worse. By the same token, he isn’t noxiously ideological in the current style, isn’t an “-ist” with an ax to grind or swing—all the more reason to deplore how thoroughly (it seems, reflexively) his book bespeaks the reigning ideologies. Buell, whose careful terror seems to be the possibility of saying something politically incorrect—the book does so much posturing, you think it’s going to throw its back out—appears to have absorbed every piety in the contemporary critical hymnal. You can see him fairly bowing to them in his introduction, as if by way of ritual preparation. There they are, propitiated one by one—Ethnicity, Globalism, Anti-Canonicity, Anti-Essentialism—like idols in the corners of a temple.

The frame of mind controls the readings. Novels aren’t stories, for Buell, works of invention with their own disparate purposes and idiosyncratic ends. They’re “interventions” into this or that political debate—usually, of course, concerning gender, race, or class, as if everyone in history had the same priorities as the English professors of 2014. Nearly every book is scored against today’s approved enlightened norms. Gone With the Wind loses points for “containing” Scarlett and embodying an “atavistic conception of human rights” but wins a few back for being “even more transnationally attuned than Absalom,” exhibiting “maverick tendencies in some respects as pronounced as Faulkner’s,” and engaging in “an act of feminist exorcism that Absalom can’t imagine.” Go team!

In the case of Uncle Tom’s Cabin—a book that makes this kind of reading sweat, being heroically progressive by the standards of its day but embarrassing by ours—pages are spent parsing its exact degree of virtue. Witnesses are called:

    Here, as critic Lori Merish delicately puts it, Stowe “fails to imagine African Americans as full participant citizens in an American democracy.” George Harris’s grand design to Christianize Africa looks suspiciously imperialistic to boot, veering Stowe’s antislavery critique in the direction of what Amy Kaplan trenchantly calls “manifest domesticity.”

I feel as if we’re back in Salem. Maybe he should have just thrown the book in the water to see if it would float. Buell is a person, one should say, who uses terms like cracker, redneck, and white trash without self-consciousness or irony, which makes his moral teleology all the more repulsive—his assumption (and it’s hardly his alone) that all of history has been leading up to the exalted ethical state of the contemporary liberal class.

The one kind of standard that Buell will not permit himself is an aesthetic one. Like many academics now, he’d rather cut his tongue out than admit in public that he thinks a book is good or bad.

15 Jul 2014

Yahoo Japan Offering Special Service Designed for Boomers

, , , , , ,

Reaper1

Silicon Beat:

It’s old news that the Internet has become an essential part of daily life. But now Yahoo Japan is offering to help people prepare for their eventual death online.

A new service called “Yahoo! Ending” promises to delete personal data from online accounts, send out a digital farewell message to friends and even host a memorial web page where people can leave condolences – once the service has confirmed that a subscriber has died.

That’s according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, which said the service will also help people plan their funerals and even compose their wills. (We checked out the Yahoo Japan site, but the English-language version provided by Google Translate left us confused about some details.)

This isn’t actually a new idea: We’ve reported previously on smaller companies that offer this kind of service. But it’s the first time we’ve heard of a comprehensive death package offered by a large Internet company. Yahoo Japan is a joint venture between Sunnyvale-based Yahoo and the Japanese giant SoftBank.

A US version would be poised to make a fortune.

14 Jul 2014

Heavy Metal Cello

, ,

Two cellists perform AC/DC‘s 1990 hit Thunderstruck.

14 Jul 2014

Virginia Father Claims Bit of Africa as Kingdom For His Daughter

, , , ,

Heaton
Jeremiah Heaton and Princess Emily display the flag of the Kingdom of North Sudan.

The Telegraph reports that the Age of European Reconnaissance is not yet over.

A father from Virginia has gone to extreme lengths for his daughter, flying to Africa and claiming a “kingdom” between Egypt and Sudan so that she can be an actual princess.

Jeremiah Heaton began his unusual quest for the unclaimed piece of land sandwiched between the two countries after making a promise to seven-year-old daughter Emily that she would one day be royalty.

After reaching the desert region of Bir Tawil in June, the father-of-three planted a flag his children had designed, and made the first steps towards claiming the land.

On his return Mr Heaton and wife made a crown for their daughter and asked friends and family to refer to her as Princess Emily.

Her kingdom covers about 800 square miles of desert that has never been claimed by Sudan or Egypt.

Mr Heaton found Bir Tawil, one of the last unclaimed pieces of land on the planet, after searching for how he could fulfill his promise to Emily.

Several attempts to claim ownership of the region have been made online, but Mr Heaton believes that by actually traveling to the site and planting the flag gave his claim an edge.

Read the whole thing.

Links
Philosophy
  • Overcoming Bias
  • More or Less Sound Blogs
  • A Mind Aroused
  • Aaron’s cc
  • ABFreedom
  • Ace of Spades HQ
  • Albion’s Seedlings
  • Alphecca
  • American Conservative, The (Buchananite Paleocons)
  • American Digest (Gerard Van der Leun)
  • American Nihilist Underground Society
  • Amused Cynic
  • An Antique Dealer’s Blog
  • Andrew Cusack
  • Ankle Biting pundits
  • Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
  • Art of the Blog
  • Assistant Village Idiot
  • Assistant Village Idiot
  • Augean Stables
  • Austin Bay Blog
  • Becker-Posner Blog
  • Begging to Differ
  • Bidinotto Bog, The
  • Big Lizards.net
  • Black and Right
  • BlameBush!
  • Blue Crab Boulevard
  • Brainster
  • Brussels Journal, The
  • Brutally Honest
  • Captain’s Journal, The
  • Carnage And culture
  • Cato at Liberty
  • Cato Unbound
  • Cave of the Curmudgeon
  • Chaos in Motion
  • Chequer-Board of Nights and Days, A
  • Chicago Boyz
  • Claremont Institute
  • Clarity & Resolve
  • Clayton Cramer’s Blog
  • Cobb–Curious,Skeptical,Analytical
  • Cold Fury
  • Colonel Robert Neville Always Dresses For Dinner
  • Conblogeration
  • Confederate Yankee
  • Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid
  • Corner – National Review Online
  • CounterIntelligence Center
  • Coyote Blog
  • Crosspatch Chronicle
  • Cubachi
  • CultureGrrl
  • Daily Pundit
  • Daisy Cutter
  • Dalrock
  • Damnum Absque Injuria
  • Dangerous Times
  • David Bellavia
  • David Frum
  • David Thompson
  • Dean’s World
  • Death By 1000 Papercuts
  • Democracy Reform
  • Dennis the Peasant
  • Diminished Expectations
  • Dinocrat.com
  • Don Surber
  • Doug Ross
  • Dust in the Light
  • Eject! Eject! Eject!
  • Enchiridion Militis
  • Error Theory
  • ex-Liberal in Hollywood
  • Faster, Please (Michael Ledeen)
  • FKIN
  • Flit(tm)
  • Flopping Aces
  • Forward Movement (Jules Crittenden)
  • Fourth Rail
  • Fraters Libertas
  • Front Porch Republic
  • Future Uncertain, The
  • Gates of Vienna
  • Gateway Pundit
  • Gays Defending Marriage
  • Greg R. Lawson's Blog
  • Grouchy Old Cripple
  • Hog on Ice
  • Horsefeathers
  • Hugh Hewitt
  • Ideas
  • IMAO
  • In Mala Fide
  • In the Bullpen
  • INDC Journal
  • Interested-Participant
  • Irish Pennants
  • Isegoria
  • Jack Lewis
  • Jawa Report, The
  • JayReding.Com
  • Jeremayakovka
  • Jeremy Lott
  • Jon Swift
  • Just One Minute
  • Ken McCracken
  • Kim du Toit
  • Kobayashi Maru
  • Law of the Bad Premise
  • Left Exposed
  • Likelihood of Success
  • Lileks
  • Lone Pony
  • Make Haste Slowly (Trad)
  • Man Without Qualities
  • Mark Levin
  • Mike Stopa
  • Modern Art Notes
  • Mr. Blonde’s Garage
  • Musings of the Geek with a .45
  • Nation of Riflemen, A
  • New Majority (David Frum) -Neocon Sellout Blog
  • Nickie Goombah
  • No End But Victory
  • No Left Turns
  • Obsidian Order
  • Oh, That Liberal Media!
  • One Cosmos
  • One Hand Clapping
  • Only Republican in San Francisco, The
  • Other Things Amanzi
  • Outside the Beltway
  • Palmetto Pundit
  • Patterico’s Pontifications
  • Pileus
  • Point Five
  • PoliPundit.com
  • Political Horizons
  • Political Teen, The
  • PostLiberal Blog, The
  • ProfessorBainbridge.Com
  • Prospero; the Home of the Generative Thought Experiment
  • Protein Wisdom
  • QandO
  • Radio Blogger
  • Rage Against the Kakistocracy
  • Rantingprofs
  • Reason Online – Hit and Run
  • RedState.org
  • Republican Dan
  • Revolutionary War Veteran’s Association Weblog
  • Riding Sun
  • Right Reason
  • Right Wings News
  • Rightwing Nuthouse
  • Roger L. Simon
  • Room 12A
  • Samizdata.net
  • SayUncle
  • Scylla & Charybdis
  • Secular Right
  • Shot in the Dark
  • Shrinkwrapped
  • Solid Surfer, The
  • Soxblog
  • stikNstein
  • Stop Obama
  • Stop the ACLU
  • Strange Women Lying in Ponds
  • Sultan Knish
  • Sweetness & Light
  • Taki’s Top Drawer
  • Tech Central Station
  • The Buck Stops Here
  • Three Rounds Brisk
  • TigerHawk
  • Tim Chapman Blog
  • TKS
  • Tom Delay
  • Tongue Tied
  • Transterrestrial Musings
  • Unqualified Offerinds
  • Unqualified Reservations (Mencius Moldbug)
  • Vanishing American
  • VariFrank
  • Victor Davis Hanson
  • View from the Right
  • ViewPointJournal.Com
  • Vince aut Morire
  • Vodka Pundit
  • War and Piece
  • Watcher of Weasels
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Western Confucian
  • What Would Charles Martel Do?
  • Will Wilkinson
  • Winds of Change
  • Wizbang
  • Xavier Thoughts (Pawn Shop Guns!)
  • Blogs From Australia
  • Dissecting Leftism
  • Tim Blair
  • Blogs from Mauritius
  • An Economist in Paradise
  • Blogs From the Philippines
  • Pinoy Stupid
  • Blogs From Israel
  • Zionist Conspiracy
  • Racial blogs
  • Undercover Blackman
  • Blogs From Russia
  • Mat Rodina
  • Blogs From Japan
  • Gaijin Mama
  • Linguistics
  • Language Log
  • Statistics
  • William M. Briggs
  • Shrink Blogs
  • Dr. Sanity
  • Macho Blogs
  • FKIN
  • Guns
  • Oleg Volk
  • Business
  • OilPrice.com
  • Blogs From Germany
  • Observing Hermann







  • Feeds
    Entries (RSS)
    Comments (RSS)
    Feed Shark