Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ernesto Gaining Strength

The new forecasts show Tropical Storm Ernesto moving steadily westward, crossing Cuba, and then more or less stalling in place in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico while gaining power, reaching hurricane strength, and then crossing the Florida coast just east of Pensacola. For an uncomfortably long time, the storm will be uncomfortably close to Tampa, particularly towards the end of next week. Be careful!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Alkaline Martian Magmas And The Gusev Plains

Evidence has accumulated during the Martian Spirit Rover mission that the Gusev Plains are composed of pretty-darn alkaline basaltic lava rocks. Not at all like those crazy-assed nearly-pure andesitic lava rocks that were so common at the 1997 Pathfinder landing site.

Nevertheless, I yearn for the andesite. If I'm not mistaken, andesite implies (or at least suggests) subduction and plate tectonic processes, like on Earth (Andesite is named after the Andes Mountains, where these processes are quite vigorous).

Basalt implies rock derived from the mantle, however. The Gusev Plains are in the ancient Southern Highlands, where no plates have ever thought about moving, whereas the Pathfinder site is close to the transition to the Northern Plains, and who knows whatever might have happened there?

Sedimentary rocks, like where the Opportunity Rover is located, are more provocative.

Lieberman as Zell Miller, in 2008. It's gonna happen!
Happiness Is....

Crossing the I-80 Yolo Causeway precisely at sunset, and watching a thousand-plus bats funneling out en masse from beneath the highway and heading towards Davis for an evening of food foraging. I worry about those bats - the youngsters were hit pretty hard last month by the heat wave - and so it's good to see them being robust.
B3ta Question Of The Week

Yay! I made the 'Best' page for this week's Question Of The Week. After correcting my spelling of 'neighbour,' they even put the story in their newsletter. Yay!

In general, it's hard to make the 'Best' page. Your story has to appeal to the juvenile streak in the typical Brit slacker student, and usually the only sure way to do that is to confess to some humiliating anguish: injuries, embarrassments, drunken stupidities, etc.

Here's the story again, in answer to the question, 'have you ever done anything that made strangers think you were a pervert?':
Manly Protection
One evening, my neighbor started screaming. A Peeping Tom was observing her from the bushes in the alley outside her bedroom window. In a panic, she came over to my apartment for manly protection. I locked her in, she called the police, and I went out into the alley to locate and confront the pervert.

So, who was the only one in the alley when the police helicopter and the canine units arrived?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lazy California Meteorologist Blows Phoenix Forecast

Deborah in Ahwatukee writes:
Some delicious rain on Monday night--just wanted to mention. About 4 hours worth. Thunderstorm right now!
I reply: Cool!

It looks as if you might not get rain today where you are, unless the rain comes from the SW, from the general direction of Yuma. The winds are pretty zonal today, so all those thunderstorms on the eastern horizon are blowing away from you, towards the Rim. It's going to be wild and wet up there today, though!

The general weather picture is very similar to the picture four weeks ago. Instead of Hurricane Emilia, we have Hurricane Ileana spinning away west of Baja. And lots of rain in eastern AZ, and on the Rim.

It's been striking how wet it's been in the El Paso, TX area - some of the wettest weather ever seen over there!

Deborah is not impressed with the forecast, though:
Too late--it POURED here!! About 9 AM. Doug had to wait 20 mins. to get out of his car in N. Phx--mostly wading lakes--his shoes. It's all good!
Once again, I see you are trying to confuse me between what I see on the Internet with mere facts. Hah! It won't work! I am a meteorologist! (A meteorologist who wasn't paying sufficient attention until the storm blew past). But nevermind! It IS conceivable it might rain again today, though, if storms get started this afternoon towards the SW. And like you say, it's all good!

Deborah replies:
Ha and double ha--I'm looking right at sprinkles on the patio!!!
Another Colorful Local Tradition Bites The Dust

In east China. But it gives me ideas for a new local California tradition:
"Striptease used to be a common practice at funerals in Donghai's rural areas to allure viewers," it said. "Local villagers believe that the more people who attend the funeral, the more the dead person is honored."
New Mexicans Ache For A Wet Winter

Even all that rain they just received just makes a small dent:
As the wet days of summer wane, the National Weather Service says we can expect an average to wetter-than-average winter. ...But a weak El Nino system appears to be forming in the Pacific, and that's a good harbinger of snowy weather to come.

...The period from November 2005 to July 2006 was the 13th driest on record for the state, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

...The monsoons have helped reservoirs recover a small amount after suffering from a drought that started in 1999, but to really get over it the state needs snowpack and spring runoff - lots and lots of it.

"If you look at Elephant Butte, in early 2000 the water level there was 132 percent of normal," Liles said. "After all the summer rain we've had after the drought, it's up to about 22 percent of normal now. Without that rain, it would probably be below 10 percent. A long-term drought takes a long time to get out of."

What would be needed to repair damage from six years of drought?

"One year of 250 percent of normal snowpack could do it," Liles said.

"That may have never happened before," he added quickly.
Annoying Pan-Scholastic Vagueness

But that's philosophy for you! (Gabe is toying with my reflexive Aristotelian empiricism again).

  • Everything eternal is necessary.
  • Every creature participates in goodness in the same degree as it participates in being.
  • In the universe, only the intellectual nature is sought on its own account, all others on account of it.
  • Desire of the knowledge of truth is peculiar to human nature.
  • Evil is not caused except by good.
  • Everything evil is rooted in some good, and everything false in some truth.
  • Evil produces no effect except in virtue of some good.
  • However much evil is multiplied, it is never able completely to swallow good.
  • Stronger than the evil in wickedness is the good in goodness.
  • Good can be realized in purer form than evil. For there is some good in which no evil is mixed, but there is nothing so very evil that no good is mixed in it.

    From The Human Wisdom of St. Thomas: A Breviary of Philosophy by Joseph Pieper
Weighing In On Pluto

Jerry takes stock of the Pluto situation:
Now that Pluto has been demoted to the status of "dwarf planet", I think that its name should be changed. How about "Dopey"?
I think this is all very silly. Why not keep Pluto around as a planet, in honor of its status as the biggest of the Plutons, whatever its size might be? It's all just a size distribution anyway, and any planetary definition has to have a more-or-less arbitrary cutoff.

But the debate IS getting Astronomy some unexpected, and welcome, press. Help crowd out that Jon Benet stuff!

Let's call Pluto 'Some upstart snowball whirling in the darkness that thinks it's a planet planet.'

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tax-Farming Is Bad

Here's the first of a million good (once antiquated but now brand-spanking new) reasons to oppose tax-farming:
The IRS warned taxpayers Wednesday not to be duped by scammers posing as private debt collectors the agency has hired to chase unpaid tax debts.
'Happy Birthday!'

Left: From Not Just A Hatstand at B3ta.

Because I won't be around for Steve's birthday get-together this weekend, I wanted to wish him 'Happy Birthday!'.

And 'Happy Birthday!' to Steven Ross.

(overlooked birthday guilt welling up....)

And 'Happy Birthday!' to just darn nearly everyone who has had a birthday since about April, or so!
All Thumbs

George W. Bush:
"There must be consequences if people thumb their nose at the United Nations Security Council, and we will work with people in the Security Council to achieve that objective"
David Nachmanoff Concert At DMTC, September 9th

Left: David Nachmanoff (photo by Robert Corwin)

Since DMTC now has its own rehearsal and performing space, we now have the responsibility for paying for that space's expenses, even for those times when DMTC has no shows ready for the public. Thus, we've been experimenting with different uses of the space during our dark times - children's theater projects like the 'Three Little Pigs,' hosting outside theater projects by 'Artistic Differences' and 'Flying Monkeys,' dances such as DMTC's 'Dancing Through The Decades,' and whatever else might benefit the community.

One of the most promising uses of the theater is to book travelling musicians for their concerts. Since their rehearsal needs are light, impact to the facility is minimal. Nevertheless, large, diverse audiences will be drawn to DMTC's Hoblit Performing Arts Center, heightening our community profile. Ben Wormeli has taken the initiative on booking these concerts and making the arrangements through SonicBids.

The first of these concerts will be on September 9th, featuring well-known Davis musician David Nachmanoff:
Davis Musical Theatre Company (DMTC) is pleased to announce the start of a brand new entertainment program for all to enjoy: Keep the Music Playing in Your Community - Concerts to Benefit DMTC. In addition to six Main Stage productions and four Young Performers Theater productions per year, DMTC will now also present benefit concerts showcasing local, regional, and touring artists.

DMTC couldn’t be happier that “An Evening with Dave Nachmanoff” will kick off this concert series on Saturday, September 9, 2006, 8:00 pm at DMTC’s Hoblit Performing Arts Center, 607 Pena Drive in Davis. Dave is a critically-acclaimed, phenomenal singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and recording artist. He has won multiple awards from national songwriting competitions and music associations including the Just Plain Folks Music Awards for his magnificent songs and albums. He studied music and philosophy at Columbia and Oxford universities, and earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California. His beautiful melodies, amazing musicianship, thoughtful lyrics, and down-to-earth charm make Dave a truly wonderful performer that appeals to all ages. He tours nationally and internationally on his own and frequently with Al Stewart. In addition to his gift of music, Dave enriches his community and other communities with songwriting workshops in schools and nursing homes. Dave also happens to be a treasured member of the Davis community. For more information about Dave Nachmanoff, go to

DMTC’s goals in presenting these concerts are:
· To raise funds to support DMTC Main Stage Productions, Young Performers Theater, and the new Hoblit Performing Arts Center to keep the performing arts and arts education alive and well in Davis and accessible to everyone. DMTC is a non-profit 501(c)3, all volunteer community theater company with a 21-year history of excellence in artistic achievement, community service, and youth education.
· To support talented local, regional, and touring artists, raising public awareness of their great work and keeping their music playing too.
· To enrich the community by providing affordable, outstanding musical entertainment in a family-friendly environment.

All benefit concerts will be presented at DMTC’s brand new 240-seat theater, the Hoblit Performing Arts Center, at 607 Pena Drive in Davis, CA. The artists chosen to perform will vary in terms of musical genre, but all will be fantastic. Check the DMTC website for additional concerts as they are booked ( The DMTC website also includes a link to for artists interested in applying to perform a concert. allows interested artists to submit electronic press kits for DMTC review.

Standard ticket prices will be $20 general and $15 for students and seniors for most concerts, but ticket prices may vary depending on the artist’s fees required. Special value-priced 3-concert series ticket packages will be offered whenever possible.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please go to and click on Benefit Concerts or call DMTC at (530) 756-3682.
DMTC-U In September Gala

Also known as the September Gala - a fundraiser for DMTC. We're going to have a variety of things to auction away, now including two (2) Mercedes sedans. The fundraiser will be September 2nd. I also have tickets, if anyone wants to purchase them directly from me.
DMTC-U in September Tickets

Purchase Tickets

DMTC-U in September, a Labor Day weekend dinner, auction and entertainment gala is set for 6:30 pm Saturday September 2 at the Davis Musical Theatre Company’s Hoblit Performing Arts Center at 607 Pena Drive. The chicken dinner is catered by Cracchiolo’s of Woodland, and also includes pasta, salad and dessert. Wine from new local winery Rominger West and beer from Davis favorite Sudwerk will be available for purchase. As befits a theatre company, the entertainment will be extensive and varied, drawing from DMTC’s talented actors and musicians. A midnight blue Vintage 1984 Mercedes Benz 360 sedan heads up the auction. The silent auction also features a long weekend in San Diego at a Mission Bay cottage, weekend home in Tahoe, Kings and Monarchs basketball memorabilia, many useful and exotic goods and services from local businesses, tickets to other local theaters, including the Mondavi Center and California Musical Theatre and great gift possibilities ranging from jewelry to restaurant certificates to birthday and holiday party entertainment.

Tickets are $30 until August 26, and $40 thereafter and at the door. Tickets for children from 5-12 are $10, and those under 5 are free. All ticket and auction proceeds go directly to support DMTC in its mission to present and preserve the Classic American Musical art form.

The Davis Musical Theatre Company is celebrating its upcoming first full season in the Hoblit Performing Arts Center. DMTC’s Main Stage produces six full length musicals each season. This year, the shows include West Side Story, Oliver!, Mame, Camelot, Annie Get Your Gun, and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. In addition, the Young Performer’s Theatre group, with all actors ages 7-17, puts on four musicals each year. Grease (the High School Musical), is about to open, and will be followed by The Velveteen Rabbit, Madeline’s Rescue and Alice in Wonderland.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Tax-Farming And Mercenaries

Paul Krugman makes some telling points:
To whom are such contractors accountable? Last week a judge threw out a jury's $10 million verdict against Custer Battles, a private contractor that was hired, among other things, to provide security at Baghdad's airport. Custer Battles has become a symbol of the mix of cronyism, corruption and sheer amateurishness that doomed the Iraq adventure — and the judge didn't challenge the jury's finding that the company engaged in blatant fraud.

But he ruled that the civil fraud suit against the company lacked a legal basis, because as far as he could tell, the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, wasn't "an instrumentality of the U.S. government." It wasn't created by an act of Congress; it wasn't a branch of the State Department or any other established agency.

So what was it? Any premodern monarch would have recognized the arrangement: in effect, the authority was a personal fief run by a viceroy answering only to the ruler. And since the fief operated outside all the usual rules of government, the viceroy was free to hire a staff of political loyalists lacking any relevant qualifications for their jobs, and to hand out duffel bags filled with $100 bills to contractors with the right connections.

Tax farmers, mercenaries and viceroys: why does the Bush administration want to run a modern superpower as if it were a 16th-century monarchy? Maybe people who've spent their political careers denouncing government as the root of all evil can't grasp the idea of governing well. Or maybe it's cynical politics: privatization provides both an opportunity to evade accountability and a vast source of patronage.

But the price is enormous. This administration has thrown away centuries of lessons about how to make government work. No wonder it has failed at everything except fearmongering.
Caring More About The Mathematics Than The Power

THIS is why Russians often make the best scientists and mathematicians!:
A reclusive Russian won the math's world's highest honour today for solving a problem that has stumped some of the discipline's greatest minds for a century - but he refused the award, effectively rejecting a million dollar prize that went with it.

Grigory Perelman, a 40-year-old native of St. Petersburg, won a Fields Medal - often described as the maths equivalent of the Nobel prize - for a breakthrough in topology that experts say might help scientists figure out the shape of the universe.

By shunning the award, colleagues said he had shown he had no interest in a separate US$1 million (£550,000) prize he is eligible for over his feat: apparently proving the Poincare conjecture, a theorem about the nature of multidimensional space that has been one of math's greatest puzzles for 100 years.

...Ball said later that he had met with Perelman in St. Petersburg in June, told him he had won a Fields medal and urged him to accept it. But Perelman said he felt isolated from the mathematics community and refused the medal because "he does not want to be seen as its figurehead," Ball said. He would not go into detail about why Perelman feels isolated.

Perelman's work is still under review, but no one has found any serious flaw in it, the maths union said in a statement.

...Mathematicians have been struggling with Poincare's conjecture since it was posed in 1904 by Jules Henri Poincare, a French polymath. The conjecture is a central question in topology, the study of the geometrical properties of objects that do not change when the they are stretched, distorted or shrunk.

It tackles the nature of three-dimensional space and it states that an object such as a pear or a banana is deformable into a sphere, whereas a bagel or American style doughnut with a hole in the middle is not. Proving the Poincare conjecture is anything but trivial. Colleagues say Perelman's work gives mathematical descriptions of what the universe might look like and promises exciting applications in physics and other fields.

..."It does not say what the shape (of the universe) is. It just says, 'look, these are the things it could be."'

Perelman is believed to live with his mother in St. Petersburg, but recent efforts to contact him proved fruitless.
The Stem-Cell Debate In Australia

I don't follow stem-cell issues at all. Nevertheless, Cloudy would be outraged by the following:
Brisbane neurologist Peter Silburn said yesterday the Lockhart report, which forms the basis of a push to legalise therapeutic cloning, had proposed injecting human cells into rabbit eggs.

Professor Silburn said this vindicated warnings by Health Minister Tony Abbott and other critics of therapeutic cloning that the process could lead to human-animal hybrids.
"It's About Time" - Picnic In The Park

Thanks, Andy, for reminding me! "It's About Time," everyone's favorite Big Band, is going to play "Picnic In The Park", in Davis, tomorrow night:
This is a friendly note to let all of you know that Its About Time is playing Picnic in the Park in Davis on Wednesday evening, August 23rd. We start playing at 6:30 PM and will go until we can't see our music anymore. If you are looking for a good time of family fun, food, and music, please come on out. We would love to see all of you out there.

Take care and I hope to see all of you tomorrow.

Andy Sullivan
Phoenix Pranksters

(Left: From Basehead617 at B3ta.)

Aren't they cute!:
Two live diamondback rattlesnakes were released in an Arizona movie theater during a showing of the new film "Snakes on a Plane," according to Local 6 News.

Authorities said pranksters released the young venomous rattlesnakes in a dark theater at the AMC Desert Ridge near Tatum and Loop 101 in Phoenix.

The two snakes caused a panic in the dark theater, according to the report.

"That to me is very scary," herpetological association representative Tom Whiting said. "I would hate to be watching a movie about snakes and have a rattlesnake bite me."

On Saturday, my employer is going on something of a Mancation - the sort of vacation you might have without men - pedicures, manicures, sauna, wine-tasting, fine food, relaxing time on the links, etc. The venue is Silverado Country Club, near Napa, and the occasion is my employer's 25th Anniversary.

Appropriately enough, my employer is about 75% male. I'll report back on my experiences getting away from all those men.....

Monday, August 21, 2006

World Strip Poker Championships

Underway, in London.
Tax Farming Is Back!

(Via Obsidian Wings) One of the very, very worst ideas of pre-revolutionary France is returning with a vengeance, courtesy of the Bush Administration - Tax Farming!:
Within two weeks, the I.R.S. will turn over data on 12,500 taxpayers — each of whom owes $25,000 or less in back taxes — to three collection agencies. Larger debtors will continue to be pursued by I.R.S. officers.

The move, an initiative of the Bush administration, represents the first step in a broader plan to outsource the collection of smaller tax debts to private companies over time. Although I.R.S. officials acknowledge that this will be much more expensive than doing it internally, they say that Congress has forced their hand by refusing to let them hire more revenue officers, who could pull in a lot of easy-to-collect money.
Of course, what it really means is rampant new corruption regarding taxes, as corrupt tax farmers spread out across the land, and eventually we're certain to have tax rebellions. Republicans like to pretend they'd favor such a thing, but their precious military-industrial complex, as well as predictable marketplaces, are totally-dependent on our current, sheeplike, voluntary adherence to tax laws. If that goes, like it did in 18th-Century France, so does the Iraq War, our ability to maintain an Air Force, and just about any certainty in our formerly-comfortable lives!
Madonna Vs. Physics

Who will win? Celebrity vs. the nuclear 'strong force'?:
MADONNA and her husband, Guy Ritchie, have been lobbying the British Government and nuclear industry over a magic cleaning solution.

The couple, both followers of the Jewish spiritual movement Kabbalah, approached Downing Street, Whitehall and British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) promoting a scheme to clean up radioactive waste using a "mystical" liquid tested in a Russian lake.

"It was like a crank call ... the scientific mechanisms and principles were just bollocks, basically," one official said.
For The Birds

OK, I'm just about there. I like Swan Lake, I like Tchaikovsky, and I even like Les Trockaderos. I just wish I had seen Billy Elliot, though, instead of just listened to the soundtrack:
The swans who appeared at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney yesterday are from an imaginative and widely admired British production of Swan Lake, soon to tour here. Choreographer Matthew Bourne's retelling of the famous ballet substitutes athletic male dancers in feathery shorts for the usual ballerinas in tutus.

Bourne was inspired by the swans in London's Hyde Park and their masculine strength and aggression. "Matthew has found this way of turning the classics upside-down and making an intelligent work with it," said director Vicky Evans, who will lead rehearsals for the ballet's Australian tour in February.

...Bourne's Swan Lake was first staged in London in 1995 and has had a season on Broadway, where it won three Tony Awards. It was also featured in the film Billy Elliot, about a boy who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer. Evans said Swan Lake captured the grace and strength of the birds: "They are aggressive, beautiful and athletic, and the men can really portray that."

As we all know, nothing upsets the concerned folks at the Wall Street Journal so much as lack of unity among the Democrats, so they make a helpful suggestion:
It looks as though Lieberman is in the race to stay--but there is an answer to the Democrats' quandary. For the good of the party, Lamont could throw his support to Lieberman. This would leave the incumbent running essentially unopposed, neutralizing the "flying wedge" and allowing the Democrats to concentrate on beating Republicans.
A Dream

Last night was the first time I recall a specific dream that had Adam in it.

I dreamt that Adam was construction boss on a massive reworking of my back yard. There were many workers, mostly from the cast of last year's YPT show, "Fiddler on the Roof, Jr." There were so many discarded take-out pizza boxes scattered around the back yard, ordered by all the various young, bearded-but-hungry Hasidim, that the Mayor of Davis (who looked like one of the YPT mothers) personally chastised us.

There was also a politically-correct modern dance troupe called the 'Dancing Divas of Davis' whirling away on-site. For some reason, they favored Starbucks, and there was a lot of discarded Starbucks paper cups as well. In fact, I think they called themselves 'Triple-D Cup.'

And all the digging in the back yard unearthed the ancient civilization of 'Folsom', and we listened raptly as various archaeologists presented their academic findings in Power Point presentations.

There was so much cultural activity underway, very little, if any, actual construction got done.
Wildfire Damage In The Desert

The recent desert wildfires in Southern California hit vegetation that rarely burns. Recovery may be a long, long time in coming:
More than 90% of the surrounding Pipes Canyon Preserve was consumed in last month's Sawtooth blaze. It was one of half a dozen fast-moving fires this summer that burned 65,000 acres of the Mojave Desert, fueling debate over whether the desert is burning more frequently and explosively as a result of invasive weeds, smog, development and climate change.

"It's heartbreaking to see," said Sall, a biologist who manages the preserve and whose grandmother homesteaded the land a century ago. "We'll never see those piñon or juniper trees again in our lifetimes, nor will our children, nor will their grandchildren. It's a bitter pill…. This land isn't meant to burn."

..."Right now we're losing very large pieces of landscape," said Todd Esque, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Henderson, Nev., who studies the cause and effect of fires in the desert. "It's happening in Joshua Tree National Park, it's happening in Mojave National Preserve … up in southwestern Utah … and in Arizona. We lost 750,000 acres of desert to fire in Nevada alone last summer."

This summer, five blazes have seared parts of Joshua Tree, where a fire only every few years was the norm for the last 50 years. Esque and other researchers say that unlike forests and chaparral, the sparsely vegetated desert is not meant to burn frequently. "The public has come to understand that fire is a necessary part of the life of forests," Esque said. "That is not the case with deserts. We have a major problem going on."

A vocal minority disagrees, contending there is no clear-cut evidence of far-reaching change. They blame this year's fires on bumper crops of wildflowers nourished by heavy spring rains two years ago. According to the theory, dried remnants of the prolific blooms fueled a 50,000-acre fire in the Mojave National Preserve last summer and in this year's conflagrations.

"The winter of 2004-05 was the wettest ever in 100 years of recorded data in the desert. We had a phenomenal crop of annual native wildflowers, and it was dry the next year and it stayed there," said Richard Minnich, a professor of Earth sciences at UC Riverside. "It's flash fuel of 1 to 2 tons per acre. What's really scary is, there's still a lot of it out there."

Scientists do agree that it will take centuries, if not millenniums, for the desert to recover.

...At the scene of a 1995 fire, not a single juniper or piñon pine seedling has come up after 11 years. But healthy, 3-foot "pups" have sprouted from the roots of once seemingly dead Joshua trees. The pups may or may not survive, scientists say, because in drought years they may be gnawed by thirsty rodents and ground squirrels. Meanwhile, native apricot mallow, bright-green cheesebush and golden California marigold are blooming even in August.

...Webb is writing a paper with other researchers that looks at three post-fire scenarios for the Mojave, all plausible, all different. Rather than focusing on Joshua trees or pines, they studied ancient black brush, a gray-brown shrub that has evolved to withstand desert temperatures and scarce rain.

A single bush can survive thousands of years. But it is highly flammable, proof to Webb that fire is not natural in the desert. One scenario does show nonnatives replacing black brush and causing more frequent fires. But he said data gathered so far made that scenario "only slightly more likely" than two others in which black brush grows back. "Some of those Joshua trees may sprout too," Wall said, referring to the Pipes Canyon Preserve. "They're an amazing tree."

But others say such a destructive fire in a preserve like Pipes Canyon did lasting harm. ...Scott said there were probably smaller pockets of plants and animals that evolved over millenniums in nooks in the preserve, only to be wiped out by this summer's catastrophic fire.

..."What will be the one thing that does in the desert as we know it? It's not one thing. It's the onslaught of all these things," Esque said. He said there was little that could be done to turn back the clock. Many nonnative weeds are too far spread to be dug out, while native seeds are not widely available and can cost millions of dollars to gather and plant.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

"I Am Youth, Joy, Freedom!"

A "Peter Pan" weekend at DMTC. (I took some more photos, with Steve's camera, which I hope to post).
No Alberto II

Fickle Mother Nature changed her mind. No storm! Apologies for the false alarm.

Several factors led me to call a false alarm. First, the Caribbean and Tropical Atlantic are much more active than they were just two weeks ago. It seemed likely that a storm would start sometime soon. Second, both the GFS and NGP numerical models gave very strong signals that a storm was imminent. That kind of strong signal is usually valid. Third, the storm that was indicated was like Alberto, a storm that caught me and others by surprise in early June as it quickly blew up out of the Caribbean. Going into a weekend, it would be remiss not to at least raise a warning flag about a fast-developing storm.

The NGP model still indicates a storm, but very much weaker; a line of thunderstorms moving across the Yucatan, and eventually ending up in Texas.

Well, live and learn! The eerie silence of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season continues!