Thursday, November 30, 2006

Neverending Toil of an IT Dude

Slow news day, or maybe the news wasn't blogworthy. RealClimate has an interesting post on a new theory on the mechanism for the "Little Ice Age" (the Maunder Minimum, to climate geeks, a cool period that spanned the late 18th century into the near mid-19th century) that involves the Gulf Stream. Remember, this site is for global climate modelers, but this post is refreshingly devoid of anthropogenic causation. Take a read if you're so inclined.

Otherwise, this hoody describes my mood right now after the day I've had at work:

Meh

Fix your own damn computer and leave me alone! Google™ is your friend, m'kay.

Update!: This looks like it might be a necessity pretty soon:

Drink, irresponsibly

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More Red Wine Health News

My brother has posted on more than one occasion on the health benefits of red wine (see here and here for stories on those red wine guzzling mice). But I guess he must have missed this story. While resveratrol has figured in previous studies as a catalyst in producing enzymes that can fight against free radical damage and speed up metabolism, not enough of it is in red wine to explain the benefits received from drinking only 2 glasses of wine a day, which has been dubbed the "French Paradox." A group of scientists in Britain have identified oligomeric procyanidins as the more likely ingredient in red wine's polyphenols to account for french longevity despite a diet traditionally rich in bad cholesterol:

People living in Nuoro province, Sardinia, and southwest France have higher than normal average longevity. And wines from those regions, Corder and colleagues found, had a 2- to 4-fold higher inhibitory effect on endothelin-1 and significantly higher oligomeric procyanidin levels than wines from Australia, Europe, South America, the US, and Sardinia.

Corder and his associates maintain that traditional wine-making methods and use of the flavonoid-rich grape Tannat commonly grown in southwest France result in high levels of oligomeric procyanidins in the local wine.

The scientists found that procyanidins suppress production of an enzyme responsible for constricting blood vessels. In layman's terms, it prevents heart disease. Meanwhile, companies hawking resveratrol products are seeing huge spikes in sales. Talk about forecasting a rose picture. I'll drink to that.

Activist Judge Much?

Is it just me, or did activist judges suddenly make a comeback after laying low for awhile? Yeesh. One judge thinks the President doesn't have the authority to label groups as "terrorist" because it may infringe on the First Amendment right to Free Assembly. And another thinks that the U.S. Treasury needs to redesign paper money so that blind people can distinguish the different denominations, ostensibly to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Talk about over-reaching. Whatever happened to Judicial Restraint?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

French Parliament Ditches Microsoft Desktops for less productivity

Heh. Bon Chance with that migration.

So the French Parliament believes it can save money by switching to open source desktop software "despite the near-term costs of switching from Microsoft systems and retraining all employees.(emphasis added)" Did the French suddenly forget about their 35 hour work week? Not known for its fast-paced decision making, it will be interesting to see how this change will affect France's massive socialist bureaucracy in the years ahead.

Maybe we'll see more than just the price of baguettes begin to rise, although maybe the politicians might be able to communicate more effectively without email flame wars (OpenOffice doesn't have an email client that competes with Microsoft Outlook...D'oh!).

Scientists Swear They've Done This Study Before

Didn't I read this somewhere...Interesting. Anecdotal evidence of deja vu experiences involving senses other than sight have been around a long time, but this is the first study published in a peer reviewed journal that shows proof. The scientists conducting the study have a theory that the feeling of deja vu is caused by a disruption in an area of the brain that deals with familiarity.

No word on whether they could disrupt the breeding of contempt from the same region. BDS sufferers will just have to tough it out.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Anecdotal Evidence That Tall Hot Chicks Find Short Guys Attractive

Last week, I posted on a personal peeve of mine. I've been given to understand that my tone was perhaps a little bitter. Of course, I could have played off the story from Reuters for laughs, like Tom Elia (H/T Instapundit), but I wasn't feeling so charitable at the time.

Thanks to my seatmate on the flight back to Chicago yesterday, I was handed a fresh bouquet of perspective. You often hear about the tall, gorgeous women who date the short men, but personally I have never had an opportunity to talk to one for any amount of time in real life. I finally got my chance. My leggy 5 foot 9 MD/PhD candidate fellow traveler is in a long-term relationship with a 5 foot 3 Bangladeshi man, a classmate of hers. After the initial letdown of hearing the words "my boyfriend" falling from her lips, I perked up when she related his height and ethnicity. I was instantly flattered when she was sincerely surprised that I wasn't dating anyone, at least from her perspective. Obviously, a smart, articulate, attractive, brown, short man should be dating supermodels, in her eyes. I couldn't help chuckling at that. So there's hope out there.

Of course, I should point out a few things. My seatmate, though insanely beautiful, described herself as an über-nerd (working towards a PhD in neurological radiology would tend to back that up). She's also, like me, a transplant from Southern California, so her taste in men is far more diverse than the natives around here. She had never been impressed with tall guys, either, having grown up with brothers who are 6'7" and 6'5". Lastly, she and her boyfriend started out as friends. This confirms for me that whatever happens at this point, I should definitely not have high expectations of bars, speed-dating venues, or any other arenas where it would be easy to be dismissed at a glance. All things I knew, but hearing it first-hand from a beautiful woman reinforces acquired knowledge.

Her last bit of advice? "I think you should hang around more med students." Hyper-educated women who are just happy to have any free time at all to see a guy? I can't argue with that logic.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Holiday Travel...Wasn't So Bad

I didn't have a chance to do any live-blogging while traveling to and fro for the Thanksgiving Holiday, mostly due to a lack of motivation, but it's such a gimmick, anyway, so instead, you'll get cogent, thoughtful, and well-crafted analysis piece. Well, okay, you'll get my blogpost about Holiday Travel, but if you pretend, I'll pretend, deal?

I'm pretty lucky that my airport travails include O'Hare and LAX, so by extension, you're pretty lucky that you get to hear about how these two massive airports handled the holiday crush. I flew on what are supposed to be the two busiest travel days, Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I have to say that even though the flights there and back were 100% full, they both left on time and arrived on time. You can thank the good weather for that. Coming into O'Hare was a breeze on Wednesday (I had a morning flight), and was checked in and through security inside of 10 minutes. The longest wait I had that day was at the Starbucks™ Counter. I should note that since I had a direct flight, I decided to check in my large carry-on bag. This single decision is what speeded me through all the security. I didn't need to declare my "fluids" *shudder* while going through security because my toiletry kit was in my checked luggage. I also didn't try to bring any food with me through security, which just invites scrutiny. Furthermore, I remembered to throw all my keys and change into my book bag. And lastly, I wore slip on moccasins, so I could pop them on and off conveniently and quickly. And, for no reason that I can fathom, the line at 8am was very light on Wednesday. I didn't see any delays or hassles at all. Plus, my seatmates were all middle-aged men, traveling by themselves, polite, but not chatty. The flight into LAX was completely uneventful, and no one was short-tempered.

Leaving on Sunday from LAX, I had a similar experience. Driving into LAX, the traffic was light. Once there, the only terminal that looked like it was going to be a travel nightmare was the Southwest Airlines terminal. It's an ongoing black eye for LAX that this terminal is so small and disorganized that you almost always see the queue for check-in going out the automatic doors and doubling back on itself with queue ropes on the curb. Good thing I don't fly no frills carriers (although, at this point, what's the real difference these days?). Traffic around the ring picked up once I got past that mess. Anyway, the terminal for American Airlines is known for being architecturally challenged when it comes to meeting the requirements of the TSA. There's room for only one of those massive X-Ray machines, and they handle the overflow by carting some bags over to the International Terminal next door to use their X-Ray machine. I've had issues with this terminals pedestrian flow ever since 9/11, but this day, despite it being the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the crowds were light. I didn't have to wait to check in my luggage, and the line for security was also light. I was checked in and through security in 10 minutes. The longest line I experienced, again, was at the trademarked caffeine pusher...er...Starbucks™. The flight was at 100% capacity and yet we still left on time and even arrived early at O'Hare. I've had way worse travel experience on non-peak days. This time around, my seatmate was a very attractive and companionable MD/PhD student, so the flight seemed to be over a lot sooner than I expected (or wanted). There'll be a post about her later, since our conversation touched on many topics that I've blogged about recently (and no, she has a boyfriend, so think sociable encounter, not social encounter). Anyway, the flight was wholly uneventful, and I was able to collect my bag and be home without any delays.

So you actually want to hear about my trip out there, and if JoePet 50/50 (as my older brother and I have been dubbed by the online community that we frequent) got up to any shenanigans? Well, maybe our snooze fest of high jinks will be good material for a later post.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Day Traveling

Due to travel plans, I won't be posting any new content unless I can somehow pry the laptop away from my bro (not bloody likely! Ha!)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Short Men's Dating Woes Played for Laughs: Reuters

Sigh. So, apparently the only way I'm going to get a date at one of these Speed-Dating venues is to hope that I'm not the shortest guy there. "Ha Ha, yeah, let's all laugh at the poor short men who can't get dates, glad I'm not that short." Thanks for the healthy dose of multi-cultural sensitivity, Reuters reporter. Now, if I were a Palestinian short man...

I was reminded of a similar story that John Stossel reported on ABC's 20/20, and related in his book Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity (2006, p. 45)

Height matters to women too. 20/20 once put short and tall men in lineups behind a two-way mirror, and then invited groups of women to choose a date. They always chose the taller guys.

Listening to their comments made me cringe. We told them that one man, who stood just five foot three, was a doctor, a best-selling author, and a champion skier who'd just built his own ski house. "He's still too short!" said the women.

Another man was only five feet tall. He was handsome and well dressed. But the women weren't interested. We said he was a millionaire. He still got turned down. I asked the women what it would take to make them want to to date him. "Maybe the only thing you could say is the others are murderers," was the response.

Great. That instills a lot of hope. My younger brother's monastery is sounding pretty good right about now.

Advocates for the obese call weightism the last acceptible form of bigotry. They're wrong, of course. Heightism beats weightism's butt up and down the street. And let's be clear, I'm not referring to dwarfism here. I'm talking about people that are below average height.

Theoretically, a fat person could lose the weight, and hey, no longer fat. Short people, however, have no such avenue for self-"improvement", especially now that China has effectively banned the rack as way to increase one's height. Furthermore, several studies show that short men have fewer dating opportunities, have fewer children, and earn less, and are aced out of more job promotions than their non-height-challenged peers. Support groups, like the previous link and this one are increasing in number.

It's gotten to the point that even the medical community is weighing in on whether or not human growth hormone treatments should be covered by insurance, or if they're even necessary. Short children's parents certainly don't agree with the assessment that "research is pretty clear that it doesn't translate into distress or dysfunction." Ever been the short kid on a playground? Bullies act out their "dysfunction" on the short kids and cause a lot of "distress."

HGH is no longer an option for adults. So what's left? I guess being pointed at and taunted by moral relativistic Reuters reporters. Now, how do I go about getting dual citizenship with the Palestinian Authority...

Monday, November 20, 2006

More Anti-U.S. Bias in the News

This article is another good example of anti-U.S. bias from, who else, Reuters. All the usual slight-of-slant is in effect, let's count them down, shall we? Meme of Americans as rude, check. Only one point of view presented (and it's certainly not a pro-U.S. P.O.V.), check. Blaming the results of the poll on America's War on Terror, check. What's the funniest part of the story? Having to be in bed with the corporate shill agency that conducted the poll, just to get out another story that bashes Americans. Unbelievably, the story doesn't mention even once the security measures that were put in place because, duh, we're in the middle of a war. Here's a couple quotes that had me slapping my forehead while audibly groaning:

More than half of the travelers surveyed said U.S. immigration officials were rude and two-thirds said they feared they would be detained on arriving in the United States for a simple mistake in their paperwork or for saying the wrong thing to an immigration official.

Hello?! War? Keeping terrorists from gaining access? Ring a bell?

The problem is that since September 11, this country has viewed visitors more as a threat than an opportunity...The entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is keeping foreign visitors away.

Yuh think?! Wow, corporate shill, thanks for playing.

So, being an upper crusty super elite news agency, you'd think they'd ask the TSA or the Department of Homeland Security for at least a "no comment." Nope. Nice job, unnamed Reuters journalist.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Did I Scoop the MSM by 10 Days on Hurricane Season?

Here's my post on how the hurricane forecaster heavies all got it wrong except for the team from NC State. And here's the first story I've seen from the MSM on the dud of a hurricane season nearing its end that even mentions Lian Xie's team. (Note: this link from the Chicago Tribune will disappear in a week) I'm just another lucky blogger, I guess.

Update: According to a Google news search as of 11/19/2006 1:24PM CST, I did scoop everybody! Woo Hoo!

Is this what dating in the Internet Age has come to?

It has occurred to me that almost everything I'm interested in blogging about, like religion, politics, and technology, don't seem to translate well in the dating environment. I've had my share of first dates like this. They usually don't lead to second dates.

&#169 Scott Adams

Now that I think about it, I have seen blogs about hair...hmmm.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Venice Beach Besieged by Rampaging Racoons

Pretty aggressive little buggers. What's sad about this story is that the Los Angeles Animal Services seems to have been invaded themselves, by the policies of human-hating PETA, equating the "rights" of these racoons to traditionally under-represented minorities:

Oh my God. I don't think I've ever been more insulted as a woman to be compared to a voiceless raccoon," said Hartnack, owner of Charlie the Dalmatian. She said the agency "seems more concerned with making a political statement than protecting people."

Sounds like more than just racoons are running amok in L.A.

Rap as Folk Music?

I had no idea.

&#169 Bill Amend

Friday, November 17, 2006

When Science and Grammar Collide

My brother posted a while back on the return of grammar to high school. As one of those supposedly soft humanities majors, I've puzzled over the arbitrary rules of grammar in several different languages, including English, and the sometimes shrill arbiters of these rules. This debate seems awfully familiar to other topics taught in school, no? Frazz might have a suggestion.

&#169 Jef Mallett

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dumb People the Reason for Spam Success: Report

Duh. In my line of work, I've noticed that the same people have to get someone (like me!) to rebuild their computers over and over again (usually because of a virus or malware damage), while others never have any issues at all. This report seems to back up my cynical misanthropic belief that some people are just too stupid to be around computers (or at least read their email) without strict supervision.

While OS and browser software is more secure, users still remain the prime vector for attacks, according to Allan Paller, the director of the institute that conducted the study:

"The average user is significantly less secure," he said. "And it isn't because the vendors have gotten worse at all; it's because the number of bad guys has exploded."

Paller is trying to be diplomatic, of course. Maybe some people just shouldn't read email without a minder.

Scientist Warn to Act Now on Nanotechnology: Commentary

My brother had previously written on hazard signs we might need in the future. In a bit of prescience, it looks like these particular signs might come in handy after this story came out today.

The experts said instruments to assess environmental exposure to nanomaterials must be developed in the next three to 10 years and that methods are needed within the next 15 years to evaluate the toxicity of nanomaterials.

They also stressed the need to develop models within a decade to predict the potential impact of new nanomaterials on health and the environment and strategic programs for risk-focused research over the next 12 months.

While Michael Crichton's novel Prey might have presented a worse case scenario of runaway nanotechnology, it's good to see that some scientists are thinking ahead.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Short Work Week Blamed for Baguette Price Rise

Oh, those wacky French socialists. If it isn't their journalists striking because they wanted in on the shorter work week, or their truck-drivers who wanted the shorter work week, it's the bakers who now have to stand up to ridicule for the 35-hour work week. No wonder the French economy is in the tank and the malaise is palpable in the country. They make it just too easy.

Trade unions and opposition Socialists say the shorter work week has helped to create jobs.

Sure it has. Sure it has.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monckton's Response to his Critics

Monckton responds to critics of his published article from last week. Wow. Read the whole thing.

H/T Tim Blair

More Bad News for Sony: PS3 Problems with PS2 Games

In what looks like a case of Sony overreaching on trying to bring too much new technology to market too fast (Betamax, anyone?), there are reports that a large percentage of PS2 games are having issues playing on the PS3. The loyal gamer community is going to go into total flame mode in the months ahead as they find themselves shelling out big bucks to replace a large library of PS2 games just to play them on what might be the most expensive doorstop in console gaming history. After a year of delays on the next gen Blu-Ray format of Hi-Def DVD players, and the rolling scandal of the laptop battery recalls, this year is shaping up to be Sony's worst single year in 3 decades.

With a first release of only 2 million units worldwide (and only 100,000 units in its Japan launch), and the next batch not expected until March of next year, look for Microsoft's XBox 360 and Nintendo's Wii to make gains in market share as Sony helplessly stands by.

11/17/2006 Update: Sony will be releasing 2 million units worldwide in the initial shipment, and only 400,000 to the U.S.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Happy Pre-Birthday for the Brothers Three

Private post for the brothers three. I got the most unexpected call today from Br. Placid (your name in the blogosphere would be brplacid3of3). Since he'll be on retreat and unavailable on the actual day of our birth, he called me up today for a pre-birthday chat. With everything that's going on at the monastery, he still had some time to call me. Love ya, Bro. Looking forward to seeing you in January.

Update: Br. Placid and I also talked about which movie the monks wanted to see for Thanksgiving, and he really wanted to see "Pirates of the Carribean." Since they've already seen ultra-violent movies like "Saving Private Ryan" and "Road to Perdition", this movie would be acceptible to them. Plus, they seem to be in the mood for something light and fun, not talky. I said it's a great choice for that. Thanks for all the suggestions from the Gerbil Nation.

Muslim Cleric Needed to Convince Muslims to Receive Polio Vaccinations

Although this story is written as an upbeat, feel-good story, I find it disturbing and disappointing for the future of the state of the world.

In the past, banners and posters were put up in villages warning Muslims against allowing health workers into their homes. Propaganda spread that polio vaccines were a form of sterilization and a Western ploy to reduce the Muslim birth rate.

On Sunday, clerics and community leaders appeared on local television channels, urging Muslim families to vaccinate their children.

If it takes a muslim cleric to convince illiterate muslims to receive medical aid from the infidels, maybe it just isn't worth it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Climate Change: Reason Devastates Political Distortion

What a point by point Fisking. The scientific reasoning in this article utterly annihilates the Chicken Little Hysteria that the Stern Report attempted to foment. Christopher Monckton, in his own words:

Why haven't air or sea temperatures turned out as the UN's models predicted? Because the science is bad, the "consensus" is wrong, and Herr Professor Ludwig Boltzmann, FRS, was as right about energy-to-temperature as he was about atoms.

Read the whole thing. H/T Ace of Spades

Friday, November 10, 2006

Waiting to Rake in the Dough with Overtime Pay!

I had quite the interesting day at work today, and that's probably the first time I've used the word "interesting" in relation to work and didn't mean it in a perjorative sense. All the software analysts at the company, i.e. Help Desk folks, and...well...me, really (I have mentioned I'm the only Installer for the company, right?) were herded into the conference room to discuss a new HR policy, along with our managers, the Controller (HR/Payroll/Accountant Lady), and the CEO. You may remember that federal law that was enacted a couple of years ago that redefined Exempt and Non-exempt employers. A lot of hand-wringing over pretty much nothing, if I recall. Anyway, at my company, our job duties were reexamined and were found to fall into the Non-Exempt category. The upshot? Time and a half for overtime! While I still will be salaried, starting Monday, I will also be paid overtime for every hour I work over the allotted 40 hour work week. The calculation for overtime pay for a salaried worker is a little more complicated than just straight time and half, but it will still definitely be extra money.

After going through the specifics of how we'll be tracking our time, implementing the overtime pay procedure, etc., the meeting wrapped up. It was at this point that the CEO (the same guy who got me my comp day back) made a funny allusion to how the time I've spent with the Klingon Corporation that has sapped my spirit and ground me down to a nub of a man over the past year is going to finally start paying off. Everybody in the room was laughing over that, but secretly envious because I really am going to be getting a lot of overtime pay because of that evil corporation. All in all, a pretty good way to head into the weekend.

YMMV Becomes a Shorter Trip in Vegas

What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but a judge has ruled that not as much of it will be going on, as least with exotic dancers.

Darn.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Cooking Basics" Challenges Nation's Top Nerds

Heh.

I've never been one of those culinarily-challenged geeks, luckily. Read the whole thing.

2006 Hurricane Season Over, in case you missed it

Apparently, some more important event was happening on November 7, so I missed this story on the end of the quietest hurricane season in a decade. After outrageous predictions of 13 to 16 named storms from National Hurricane Center earlier this year, so far only 9 named storms have formed, of which only 5 became hurricanes. According to the story, that's probably it for the year.

What you probably didn't know was that back in April, a smaller group of researchers out of North Carolina State University at Raleigh presented their prediction that much more closely matched what actually happened. As the article relates:

Looking at the same 100-year data used by most forecasters - sea temperatures, winds and cycles between El Nino and La Nina - Lian and his team noticed a pattern.

The intensity and number of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean seemed to hinge on the difference in water temperatures between the north Atlantic and south Atlantic.

When tropical water was warmer than normal in the north and cooler than normal in the south, hurricane activity increased off the eastern U.S. coastline, as did the chances that the storms would make landfall.

That's what happened last year, when Lian and his team predicted that five to six hurricanes would form and two or three would make landfall along the eastern seaboard.

Seven hurricanes ended up forming and two made landfall on the East Coast.

This year, when the opposite occurred - cooler tropical water temperatures in the North Atlantic and warmer than normal water temperatures in the south - hurricane activity and the likelihood of storms making landfall decreased.

So their hurricane forecast didn't quite match up with the dire predictions of the Global Warmenizers. At least some scientists are still actually, you know, using the scientific method.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Are You A Big Enough Multi-Tool?

I've been a fan of the Swiss Army Knife since I was a Cub Scout. But when I joined the ranks of geekdom, I've been looking for a Swiss Army Knife that meets the needs of my lifestyle. The CyberTool41 looked like the way to go:

Well, it looks like a good start, but I didn't want to feel like I forgot something. Then I found the SwissChamp XLT:

Now we're making progress. From 41 tools to 50! Still, a nagging thought in the back of my head told me that the XLT was getting there, but it wasn't quite the tool for me. Finally, I lucked out with what is officially entitled the Giant Swiss Army Knife:

This now, this is a knife for the Über-Geek. With 85 individual tools for any kind of situation...I would definitely establish my alpha-geekness of the pride. Too unwieldy? Nah, that's what the key ring is for, silly.

As soon as I save up enough geek-dollars, this bad boy is soooo pwned.

Kenyan Nobel Winner Proposes to Act like an Enviro-bat

Perhaps you'd think that after this study came out, warning against environmental policies based on emotional pleas, and especially after this study that shows that forests don't act like the carbon scrubbers that gaia worshippers believe them to be, that a Nobel Laureate enviromentalist would hesitate just a little before proposing an initiative to plant a billion trees worldwide. Maybe you aren't aware of what motivates enviros. If 35 countries would sign onto the Kyoto Protocol just because of its "symbolism", why not this proposal?

"The Billion Tree Campaign is but an acorn, but it can also be practically and symbolically a significant expression of our common determination to make a difference in developing and developed countries alike," [UNEP chief Achim Steiner] said.

Just for fun, I compared the AFP and AP versions of the news item. Guess which News Service did more legwork on their background? Here's the thorough and up-to-date scientific research of the AP writer, Elizabeth A. Kennedy:

Planting trees can offset climate change in part because they absorb carbon dioxide.

Oh really? Apparently, she didn't bother finding out if any new scientific studies have come out to challenge the "census" view. In contrast, the AFP writer Otto Bakano writes as if he might have heard of these new studies. In addition to referring to their CO2 inhaling capabilities, he also mentions a trait of trees' that might be more important to the African continent:

Although trees may not be able to absorb all of the world's emissions of greenhouse gases responsible for raising global temperatures, they can also restore lost water catchment areas and reduce erosion, officials say.

That sounds a little bit more nuanced, doesn't it? Perhaps Maathi's proposal should have touted this aspect instead of going for the emotional, and loud, siren song of Global Warming.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Update: UN Convention Releases More 'Hot Air'

Today's dispatch from the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change...well, that's just awe-inspiring. Seems like all the UNFCCC is good for is the production of "statements."

As the forum entered a second day in Kenya's capital, participants expressed optimism at statements made in initial talks but acknowledged plenty of hard work ahead as they seek ways to cooperate and collaborate to reduce threats.

"It was a very good start," said Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the 12th UN Framework Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC), noting numerous positive statements from some of the 189 nations taking part.

No status on when the delegates might produce "actions."

Election Day! Voter Qualifications?!

I voted today, and you can insert your favorite Chicago voting joke at any time, now. When I went to my polling place at 7am, there was no line, maybe 2 people in other booths ahead of me, and no one wanted to use the e-voting machine. The Election Officials weren't exactly cheerleaders for it, either.

With a smattering of voter disenfranchisement stories coming out around the country (Ohio, I'm looking in your direction...), maybe we should be happy that voters' experiences aren't this blatant:

&#169 Darby Conley
"Help! Help! See the violence inherent in the system!"

Monday, November 06, 2006

Real Science Catches Up with Enviro-Science: Forests Aren't Carbon Sinks

Green Peace came out with a statement blasting Brazil for not doing more to protect its rain forests at the start of the UN's annual Framework Convention on Climate Change. Unfortunately, on the heels of this international "calling out", a study out of Canada has put another nail in the coffin for the premise that large forests act as carbon sinks.

They Kyoto Protocol, as part of the carbon credit scheme, gave more carbon credits to those countries that had large swaths of forests. This recent study is just one more than finds that forests are largely carbon neutral, meaning they emit just about as much CO2 as they take in. This particular study measured Canada's Black Spruce. A previous study, written by Bill Schlesinger of Duke University (hardly a bastion of climate change skepticism), had measured American forests comprised of Beech, Aspen, Oak, Maple, and Pine, and found pretty much the same phenomenon:

"...you can't really count on them as a big sink," he said.

Yes, he acknowledges, many people do make the claim that forests will counteract our car-driving, coal-burning ways.

"Oil and coal companies love to say that. So do various forest services," he said. "It sort of gives them a raison d'etre.

"But the idea that they're going to combat the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere has, I think, probably been overstated. If you disturb them, "by cutting them down or burning them," then they may exacerbate the rise of carbon dioxide.

Ouch. Enviros and Big Oil lumped together, using the same unsupported theories to promote their agendas? Never heard of such a thing. The piece delivers an understated point about Canada's reliance on its forests for those lucrative carbon credits:

This could be disappointing news for many of Canada's political leaders, who have been counting on credits under the Kyoto Protocol for Canada's forest "sinks."

Indeed. This whole conservation business is a lot harder than it used to be.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bloggers, Cynics Question Timing of the Hussein Verdict

Well, it did't take long for lefty cynics, bloggers, and the MSM to come up with their own "I question the timing" stories about the announcement of Saddam Hussein's guilty verdict.

I expect a few more of these sentiments before Tuesday.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Friday, November 03, 2006

That's Me, the Non-Certified Figure-Outer in IT

So it's not just me who thinks their title and pay have nothing to do with what they actually do in their line of work. Now I don't have to worry that I've been wasting time procrastinating getting certified in something IT-related. I can just be happy that I didn't do anything at all. I happen to be one of those "home grown in-house talents" the article talks about as being essential for the future of a company in the IT field. I'm glad to see that my education in the Arts & Humanities isn't atrophying, since I can use my background as a Generalist to pick up skills quickly on the fly.

The article's a bit long for those not in the industry, but if interested in seeing where IT is going (and also wondering how the heck I manage to keep my job being the curmudgeon that I am sometimes), take a look.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

'Tis the Season, Already?!

I was waiting in a restaurant to pick up my dinner order today after work, and the music that was playing was "The First Noel." I'm not kidding. Today is November 2nd. Halloween decorations haven't even been taken down yet. Christmas carols. Just a WTF moment about how the Christmas Season (yes, I still actually spell the whole word) keeps creeping earlier and earlier into the calendar year.

Otherwise, pretty slow newsday. Go on, go to my brother's site for some Helmety Goodness. Shoo.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Who's Sorry Now? Cheney on Kerry

Oh, man...Lurch really set himself up for Dick Cheney's zinger on the whole brouhaha:

"Of course, now Senator Kerry says he was just making a joke, and he botched it up," Vice President Dick Cheney said in remarks prepared for a campaign appearance in Montana. "I guess we didn't get the nuance. He was for the joke before he was against it."

Whichever speechwriter came up with that one needs a nice little bonus.

UPDATE: MSM, you're a little late in covering this story, too.

Now They Tell Us!: Conservation Efforts May Be Mistaken

D'Oh! Well. Conservation policies based on the emotional outpouring that comes from marketing, I mean, saving the lone cuddly endangered animal in a region may not actually be the best way to go, according to this study. Forty years of conservation efforts and seemingly no traction gained...might want to rethink what we're actually trying to conserve. Of course, the co-author of the study, Ian Owens, doesn't want to see his funding from these same emotional conservationists dry up:

He urged governments not to take the results of the study as a reason to delay conservation efforts until they have more detailed information.
"My hope is that we won't have that sort of effect and that this will enable us to go forward far more effectively," Owens said. "The simple message to governments and conservation agencies is -- keep doing what you are doing, but do it better."

Right...that'll motivate them to change their policies.

Dinosaur Fossil Tracks Show Similarity to Bird Behavior: Study

This article on a comparative physiology study between large bipedal flightless birds of today, like rheas, emus and ostriches, and dinosaurs gives you an idea of how the science of paleontology applies established research methods in biology to organisms that can't be observed directly. According to the article, several fossil tracks have displayed a puzzling pattern of "cross-tracking", where the double-line of feet would cross over themselves before going back to normal. Studying the walking behavior of flightless birds gave them insight into what was going on.

Okay, cool, says my internal scientist-wannabe, but that's not what I found most entertaining about the article. The paleontologists who wrote the study ran into little trouble deciding on which of the three large birds to spend time observing. Here's how Brent Breithaupt, curator and director of the University of Wyoming's Geological Museum, put it:

Ostriches have an attitude problem and are two-toed, unlike therapods, which had three-toed feet, Breithaupt explained. Rheas have three toes, but are "like working with a bunch of kindergarteners on too much sugar," he said. Emus have three toes and are relatively easy to study. Moreover, there was an emu ranch located in Colorado an hour from the researchers.

Emus it is! I like articles like these, showing how real scientist go about their business.