Saturday, March 08, 2008

Tilting at Windmills

Windmills are a favorite of the granola and birkenstock posse, but they are really a sort of stupid idea except as a tertiary, supplemental form of power. Sometimes, the wind doesn't blow. Sometimes, it blows too much:

Am I the only one creeped out by the BP ads, where some idiot man- or woman-in-the-street gives their half-assed opinion about where we ought to get power? Some yutz talks about how great solar power is. It is also a good supplemental supply, but right now, solar's contribution to powering the world is best measured in parts-per-million.

I recognize that oil is a finite resource (though it is routinely underestimated), but I also know that the solution isn't some goddammed oil company feeding off subsidies while they pretend to create the next energy source. And it sure as hell isn't like they are really listening to some yokel in his porch swing opine about energy economics. Beyond Petroleum, my ass. The sunshine these bastards are trying to pump up our skirts isn't going to drive a solar grid.

I don't like being patronized. Just pump the oil out of the fucking ground, BP. Soon enough, the forces of supply and demand will knock you off your high horse unless we are bamboozled into giving you even more tax money to keep us under your thumb.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I've been following election returns tonight. I don't really care about the outcome as much as I enjoy the spectacle. It's like some sort of extremely perverted sport.

While checking the news items, I came across this photo of Earth and its moon, taken from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter back in October of last year.

If you look really closely, you can see Hillary, Obama, and McCain gathering lawyers in to corrals for the election this fall.

Actually, it is comforting to see how all our political chicanery is invisible from an interplanetary perspective.

A thousand years from now, people won't remember Barak Obama, or Hillary Clinton, or John McCain, unless you count ancient history scholars. But they will remember that this was the age when we left Earth to visit the moon and planets. Whether they look back on this as a golden age, or hopelessly primitive, I'll never know. But assuming both humanity and history still exists, this will be noted as the time when we first looked on the face of other worlds, and on our own from that perspective.

When people sneer at the accomplishments of the space program, and stomp their feet and demand that the resources would be better spent here on Earth, I take a great deal of unholy pleasure in thinking that I don't know the names of any of the critics of Galileo, or Columbus, or the Wright Brothers. None. I suspect the verdict of history will be similar for the small minds that insist that we stay here, where we 'belong', and forgo exploration to hew to whatever doctrine they count as important.

Monday, March 03, 2008


more confident
Originally uploaded by sciencedave

This is Frank, also called Frankie. Short for Francis. I was sort of hoping to name him Brak, but was overruled.

He is our fourth and (oh please, God) our last cat for a while. He is very relaxed. Our tabby wanted to push him around the first few days, but he finally took up for himself, and everything is now fine. Lucy (the tabby) will hiss at him once in a while, but he's a good bit bigger than she is, and now that he has shown that he will defend himself, it's all bluster on her part.

As a scientist, I am drawn to cats because they are very complex and intelligent, but unlike dogs, they haven't been molded to do our will. They do what they do with minimal perturbation caused by any expectations we humans have for them. I admire that.