Friday, October 06, 2006

IM Foley

Via Overly-friendly instant-message generator.
Visible From Orbit! Amazing!

High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity near the rim of "Victoria Crater."
Slow On Teh Uptake

The Urban Dictionary on "teh."
Apex, NC

Nasty fire, involving any number of toxic substances, plus chlorine gas.

I remember once being given evacuation instructions at a Salt Lake City, UT, sewage treatment facility, in the event horns sounded indicating a chlorine spill. The instruction was "hold your breath and run away just as fast as you possibly can, and never, EVER, breathe - EVER!
Peter Beinart, Useful Idiot

Ezra Klein rips into Peter Beinart's recent attacks on liberals for not focusing more on that German opera house's cancellation of a show:
Liberals are morally remiss for paying insufficient attention to an opera house's decision, but not for ignoring bride kidnappings, murdered journalists, or marauding governments. The agenda behind that odd prioritization isn't difficult to divine, and it's to the credit of the left that they refused to offer aid and comfort to those seeking its partial assent in their clash-of-civilization fantasies. For liberals to jump at each trumpeted instance of Arab misbehavior in this context, under this administration, with this many modern-day Curtis LeMay's populating government commissions, would be downright irresponsible.
Two Foley-gate Quotes

The first from Billmon:

One of the most impressive qualities about the wingnuts -- and the key to much of their past political success -- is their absolute, fanatical unwillingness to surrender, even when reality has them surrounded and is blasting their ranks to pieces with fragmentation grenades and massed artillery fire. At a point when most Democrats would be frantically looking around for a white flag to wave, the GOP hardcore are making banzai charges.

That's the only metaphor I can think of that even comes close to capturing the desperation of the GOP's current propaganda line: that raptorgate is some kind of Democratic dirty tricks operation masterminded by -- you had to know this was coming -- George Soros.

... It's pure fantasy, of course -- a makeshift substitute for the failure (so far) of the GOP dirt squad to find a single, sitting Democratic pederast to drag into the scandal spotlight. A normal political army would be thoroughly demoralized by the notion of charging into a shit hurricane armed with such feeble talking points. It's like trying to fight the Red Army with a sharpened stick.
The second, from Glenn Greenwald:
The Foley scandal is so perfectly tailored -- one could even say artistically designed -- to expose every character flaw of this country's Republican leaders (and their followers), and it has evolved so flawlessly (like the most brilliantly coordinated symphony), that one is almost inclined to believe that it was divinely inspired. It is difficult to believe that human beings (let alone Democrats) could create something so perfect (as Billmon wrote in comments here the other day, the relentless efficiency of this scandal is proof positive that Democrats had nothing to do with it). I agree with John Podhoretz's description:

This whole Foley business is one of the most dazzling political plays in my or any other lifetime - like watching an unassisted triple play or a running back tossing a 90-yard touchdown pass on a double-reverse.

The perfection of this scandal lies in its substance, not its theatrics. The Foley scandal is not -- as even some Bush opponents have asserted -- an aberrational, isolated, inconsequential melodrama that is unrelated to the substantive and important critiques of the Bush movement and which just coincidentally emerged as a cynical weapon that can be used to defeat the Republicans. The opposite is true. This scandal has resonated so powerfully because it is shining such a powerful light on the towering hubris, utter lack of intellectual and ethical integrity, and deeply engrained corruption that accounts for virtually every other Bush disaster -- from Iraq to law-breaking scandals to torture to Abrahmoff-type corruption schemes and everything in between.

... Every one of their corrupt attributes is vividly on display here:

The absolute refusal ever to admit error. The desperate clinging to power above all else. The efforts to cloud what are clear matters of wrongdoing with irrelevant sideshows. And the parade of dishonest and just plainly inane demonization efforts to hide and distract from their wrongdoing: hence, the pages are manipulative sex vixens; a shadowy gay cabal is to blame; the real criminals are those who exposed the conduct, not those who engaged in it; liberals created the whole scandal; George Soros funded the whole thing; a Democratic Congressman did something wrong 23 years ago; one of the pages IM'd with Foley as a "hoax", and on and on. There has been a virtual carousel -- as there always is -- of one pathetic, desperate attempt after the next to deflect blame and demonize those who are pointing out the wrongdoing. This is what they always do, on every issue. The difference here is that everyone can see it, and so nothing is working.

... Beyond the deceit and desperation is the hypocrisy so glaring that it makes one's eyes squint. The examples are literally too numerous to chronicle, but one of my personal favorites is the feigned above-it-all, dismissive bewilderment that something as inconsequential and petty as a sex scandal could possibly be getting so much attention.

... The same people who impeached a popular, twice-elected President of the U.S. over a sex scandal involving consenting adults, who caused our country's political dialogue for several years to be composed of the filthiest and most scurrilous speculation peddled by some of the lowest bottom-feeders and dirt-mongers, and who constructed a political movement based in large part on sermonizing about private sexual morality and demonizing those who deviate, are now protesting -- without any irony -- the fact that a sex scandal is distracting from the Truly Important Issues our country faces and that Mark Foley's sexual pursuit over many years of 16 and 17-year-old Congressional pages is nothing that really matters.

It is as though Republicans are being punished for all of their serious political sins at once, in one perfectly constructed, humiliating scandal designed to highlight their crimes and exact just retribution for them. The Foley scandal is shining a very bright light on their conduct, not just in this one incident but with regard to how they have been governing the country generally over the last five years. That is why this scandal is so important and it is why Bush followers are so desperate to proclaim the whole thing over with -- even if it means having to jump on a pathetic Matt Drudge item to do it. The one thing they don't want is for a clear, illuminating light to be shined on how they conduct themselves.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Deborah in Phoenix writes:
It just now rained - overhead!
I reply:
Maybe if you pretend it isn't there, it will go away.
This morning, she writes:
--just woke up to MAJOR thunderstorms--look at all that water. All the saguaros are thrilled!
I reply:
There's an interesting mismatch between the NOGAPS model and the satellite pictures. Even though there is another line of storms to your west, it looks as if it's thin and won't yield much, if any, rain. Nevertheless, NOGAPS seems to think it will develop, likely this afternoon.

In a conflict like that, satellite picture (based on reality) wins out. Nevertheless, it's interesting that NOGAPS went out on a limb.

Cloudy the Frankenbunny says "no way!"

Jon Stewart's take.
Kylie's Latest Interview

So, what's up with the Impossible Princess?:
THERE'S one T-shirt Kylie Minogue fans won't be able to buy as a souvenir of her Showgirl Homecoming tour. They're the shirts the singer is planning to print up for her road crew sporting the Frankie Goes to Hollywood-inspired slogan "Kylie Says Relax". "The motto for this tour is 'We're over stress'," Minogue says.
Actually, that motto is exactly emblematic of her appeal. It's unlike Madonna's emblem, which is more like - do as I say!
Always a glass-half-full type, Minogue pauses when asked what positives she's taken from her illness. "Positives? How long have you got? It's about people . . . my family, friends, my medical team . . . and how resilient we are. How you discover different layers of yourself you didn't understand in how you deal with the situation.

"It's like your world is falling down around you, and no one knows until you're in that situation how you will cope with it. And there was so much love and goodwill from my fans and the public."
Minogue admits the other side-effect of her illness was discovering a new passion for her craft, and the impact it has had on others judging by the endless flood of cards she has received from the public. "The discovery that sounds all too obvious for me to be saying is, 'This is what I do'," Minogue says.

"Performing, relating to people, communicating is what I do. I'm hoping to get back on track, but I'm even more determined than before to do it well. I feel really inspired, more than I have for quite a while."
Also good, since Minogue has admitted in the past to a certain, searching ambivalence.
Minogue hooked up with Jake Shears and Babydaddy of Scissor Sisters in New York, the team behind her 2004 hit I Believe In You. The New York jaunt spawned the new song White Diamond, which Minogue hints will appear in the Homecoming tour.

"It's glorious," Minogue says of the song. "It's another track you'd expect from Jake, Babydaddy and I. It's a big, shiny, raising-the-arms-in-the-air moment. We're dying to get back in the studio together again.

"Jake is the greatest," Minogue says. "The last thing he said to me was 'We should dress up in each other's clothes!' because we're so alike in so many ways."
Good teammates, but forgive me if I leave the room prior to the dress exchange.
Minogue's illness demonstrated the loyalty felt not only by fans who held on to their tickets, but by her road crew - who remain almost unchanged to a person.

"When I was diagnosed and in those months when no one really knew what was going to happen, my tour manager told me the crew had to go and take other jobs, but only on the provision that if they got the call that my tour was back on, they could get out of their other jobs.

"There's so much devotion. I'm sure I'm going to see these big burly crew members who have seen it all and done it all with maybe a little tear in their eyes."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Trying To Leverage The Vegas Brand

So, what do the folks at the Billboard Dance Music Summit think about Las Vegas?:
Janie Hoffman, head of West Coast marketing/event production company All Things Possible (ATP), offered to organize parties exclusive to the Summit, and reached out to clubs that would already be operational those nights - making the events a no-brainer for organizers, registrants and club management as well.

“Vegas is known for their nightclubs,” says Hoffman, whose strategy for keeping things simple, but accessible, enticed venue management. “They're the stars of the show here. You don't have to go out of your way to do anything special.”

Life By Night parties are to be held at the Palms' pool, Tryst, Voodoo Lounge, Pure, Tangerine and Tao. The biggest of the parties is arguably Monday night at Voodoo, co-organized by Harrah's Director of Nightclubs Pauly Freedman and headlined by Dutch trance superstar Ferry Corsten. Italian DJ Spankox, emerging English act Loose Cannons, and locals Robert Oleysyck and Scotty Boy round out the bill. (A full schedule of nighttime events is included in this issue.)

“This has become the industry standard for around the world,” says Hoffman. “[The nightclub industry] comes to Vegas and goes [back home and says], ‘OK, Vegas my nightclub,' wherever it may be. The original pitch I made to Billboard, as far as the importance of Vegas overall as it appeals to this audience, is, ‘It's fucking Disneyland on acid, the Emerald City on steroids ...'”
Beware of Sopranos!

James McElroy writes: "Did you catch this?"
Alaskan storm cracks giant iceberg to pieces in faraway Antarctica: Study tracks surprising connection between distant events
James adds: "I especially like the simile expressed in the following":
Tiny ocean swells may seem too small to break an iceberg, but the crew of Captain Cook’s Endeavour knew well their hazards. The Endeavour ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef near Australia on a calm night in 1770. "But there was just enough swell to pick up the Endeavour and pound it relentlessly against the coral heads," MacAyeal said. Until his crew lightened the ship, Cook feared it would be pounded to smithereens.

And just like the Endeavour, the iceberg had run aground near Cape Adare and the Possession Islands in Antarctica before the swell hit. "We think that B15A was in the right position where these waves would be fatal to it," MacAyeal said. "The iceberg shattered like a gracile wine glass being sung to by a heavy soprano."
Beware of sopranos! - Jim McElroy

Page and Charlie Berghoffer got a puppy. So cute!
Hard Work...

...Keeping up with the sexual indiscretions of Republican politicians (but this blog tries).
Retroactive Immunity

From Jim Vanderventer, Jr., a timely message from the Cafferty files.
Trunk Monkey

Call on your trusty chimp.
Theater Notes

From their newsletter, Thistledew Dessert Theater needs short plays:
The Thistle Dew Theatre for PLAYWRIGHTS SPECIAL call: ten to twenty minute plays needed. E-mail submissions accepted: Or bring it to The Thistle Dew Theatre.

Thistle Dew's Playwrights Workshop and Readers Theatre. Our group meets every Monday evening at 7:00pm. If you would like to take part in the playwright's workshop process, please call Tom at 444-8209 or email:
Also, Gil and Lenore Sebastian are performing, but in separate theaters, in Roseville:
Lenore is Mama Rose in GYPSY
September 8 - October 21
Fridays/Saturday @ 8:00; Sundays @ 2:00
Roseville Theatre, 241 Vernon St., Roseville, CA 95678
Gil is Oscar in THE ODD COUPLE
September 15 - October 14
Fridays/Saturday @ 8:00; Sundays @ 2:00
Tower Theatre, 421 Vernon St., Roseville, CA 95678

How could I forget? Today is the 30th anniversary of shaking hands with Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter, at Stapleton Airport, shortly after a campaign rally in downtown Denver, during the 1976 presidential campaign.

I haven't washed my right hand since.
Small Gifts

Where was Heather?:
Sometimes in the midst of a national scandal, the smallest and most seemingly innocuous item from an incumbent's legislative history can turn into a political gift. In the scorched-earth Albuquerque race pitting GOP Rep. Heather Wilson against New Mexico state attorney general Patricia Madrid, the Democrats discovered to their glee that the incumbent had served on the five-member board overseeing the House page program from 2001 until the end of 2004, a time when Foley had already been suggestively messaging these young boys. That tendentious bit of guilt-by-timing was enough to produce an Albuquerque Journal story Tuesday morning with the headline: "Wilson Denies Prior Knowledge of Foley E-Mails." As Heather Brewer, the press secretary for the Madrid campaign, said in a phone interview: "This is a nightmare for Wilson. She sat on that page board for three years."
Peter Beinart's Valiant Battle Against Straw

Via Atrios. Frank Rich rips into TNR's Peter Beinart. And he should. Beinart's strange obsession with Michael Moore is inexplicable:
He's also a straw man. It's hard to argue that Moore, a diva whose shtick is hyperbole and provocation, has fomented any movement that threatens to take over the Democratic Party or even Hollywood. Fahrenheit 9/11—seen by less than a third of the audience of leading 2004 hits like Shrek 2 and The Passion of the Christ—did not move election results; it did prompt an outpouring of liberal documentaries, most of which have barely registered at the box office (Gore's An Inconvenient Truth being a modest exception). However many reflexive pacifists there may be in Moore's audience, or at Cindy Sheehan rallies, or on blogs, the number of Americans who opposed defeating al-Qaeda and the Taliban after September 11 was a tiny fringe; Bush enjoyed nearly 90 percent–plus support, including for the war in Afghanistan, with good reason.

The tragedy is that when Bush betrayed the country's trust and hijacked a united citizenry for his own ends there were too many liberals who went MIA, whether in Congress or on opinion pages, at a time, as Beinart concedes, when such a principled opposition "was needed most." That opposition could have rallied around the same principles that are espoused in The Good Fight without succumbing to Bush propaganda about a war that has done more to harm the battle against terrorism than any blogging pacifist has. It would have been a far better thing for the country if liberal hawks had articulated those principles clearly then without compromising them. Their inability to do so was a systemic intellectual failure that Beinart's book only begins to address. And while it's better late than never to stand up for the credo outlined in The Good Fight, what current Democratic leader does not now endorse the same basic national security catechism as Beinart's, from Howard Dean to Hillary Clinton? The only real debate among Democrats today is over the timetable for the inevitable drawdown of American troops from Iraq, not from the battle against Islamic terrorists. So limited is the power of the leftist activists feared by Beinart that they have been unable to persuade most Democratic candidates in tight election races this fall to support any plan for a precipitous Iraq withdrawal.
"Obsession - Radical Islam's War Against the West"

"Hey, Marc, you really should check out this movie! It's full of conspiracy theories concerning 9/11!" That was the promise Keith made. So I watched the DVD. The next day I said, "I'm surprised you suggested this movie: it's 105% pro-George-Bush." "It is?", Keith said, somewhat flummoxed, "I don't know about that. What I liked was all the Al-Jazeera outtakes, showing us what the Arabs actually see on their TV sets, all the anti-Semitism, rather than just hearing about it from Fox News."

"Obsession - Radical Islam's War Against the West" is a movie about the War on Terror from a neoconservative perspective. The movie is partly an inspiration of UK-based activists, and features many leading activists fighting against radical Islam:
From the creators of "Relentless," comes a new film that will challenge the way you look at the world.

Almost 70 years ago, Europe found itself at war with one of the most sinister figures in modern history: Adolf Hitler. When the last bullet of World War II was fired, over 50 million people were dead, and countless countries were both physically and economically devastated. Hitler’s bloody struggle sought to forge the world anew, in the crucible of Nazi values. How could such a disaster occur? How could the West have overlooked the evil staring it in the face, for so long, before standing forcefully against it?

Today, we find ourselves confronted by a new enemy, also engaged in a violent struggle to transform our world. As we sleep in the comfort of our homes, a new evil rises against us. A new menace is threatening, with all the means at its disposal, to bow Western Civilization under the yoke of its values. That enemy is Radical Islam.

Using images from Arab TV, rarely seen in the West, Obsession reveals an ‘insider's view' of the hatred the Radicals are teaching, their incitement of global jihad, and their goal of world domination. With the help of experts, including first-hand accounts from a former PLO terrorist, a Nazi youth commander, and the daughter of a martyred guerilla leader, the film shows, clearly, that the threat is real.

A peaceful religion is being hijacked by a dangerous foe, who seeks to destroy the shared values we stand for. The world should be very concerned.

Today, WWIII is raging, but few are aware of it. War has been declared by Radical Islam against the West, but much of the the West, like Chamberlain did in his time, tends to discount the threat, choosing instead to appease it. Today, even those with courage enough to recognize the conflict, fear to identify the enemy, instead calling it a 'war on terror', as if terror—a means of battle, not an enemy—and not some specific group of people, was the foe.

Aside from 9/11, we are today witnessing violent Islamic insurgencies erupting all around the world: In Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. We see the Russians are fighting Al-Qaeda linked rebels in Chechnya, ... Obsession makes clear that we are facing an enemy intent on destroying us.

We’ve been here before. Obsession also explores the current threat and its surprising parallels with Nazi Germany. We can learn about Nazism by listening to Hitler in his writing and actions - he was a clear thinker who knew that he was battling over the moral foundations of Western civilization. Hitler fought against the 'insidious Judeo-Christian ethics' which had been almost victorious over the ancient values of power and 'might makes right'. In going against the West, Hitler determined he must focus on and destroy the Jews as well, the people who he identified as the source of these sinister Western values. WWII, Hitler's war, showed how deeply he believed his ideas.

And what are the Radical Islamists about? They also express themselves clearly, if only we choose to listen. Obsession will help us listen. The Islamists are now acting out their ambitions and threatening the values of freedom, democracy, respect for human life, and other shared ideals of Western civilization.

Much of the Western world today would like to believe that we have arrived at an era of heightened moral refinement, or that Radical Islam has some legitimate grievances that, once solved, would bring peace and stability. But Radical Islam, a dangerous strain of the world's fastest growing religion, believes the time has come for its final violent victory over the Crusader infidels of America and the West.

Like WWII before it, this is an ideological war of aggression against Western civilization, and like WWII, the Western powers are waking up far too slowly.

Our shared values are at stake. The enemies of the West are not mistaken: the West stands for an ethical system of civilization that threatens them. And they have not come to terms with these values. To the degree that the West recognizes that they are ALREADY in a war for the survival of their democratic civilization, they will resist.

An erstwhile peaceful religion has been hijacked by extremists who are seeking to transform our world. Obsession will help people appreciate that freedom itself is at stake today. Western civilization should be concerned.
As made clear by their timeline of terrorist actions, the movie emphasizes that we are facing a single, unified threat.

Nevertheless, there are strange omissions that make one wonder. Film footage shows Bosnian Muslims attacking an unidentified Christian church. The church is probably either Serbian or Croatian, and begs the question of whether the moviemakers feel we should have allowed the 1994/95 genocide against Bosnian Muslims to proceed. Mass killings are one answer to supposed religious extremism, after all.

(Which brings up an old memory - an excellent essay from 30 years ago - was it Czeslaw Milosz? - regarding going through the ruins of a Serbian church desecrated by the Communists - history repeats itself yet again)

Graphic footage is also shown of "American civilians" being burned alive in their vehicle and dragged through Iraqi streets. But these killings are likely not of American tourists on a jaunt, but rather the mob attacks on four Blackwater security contractors - mercenaries who defied U.S. Marines and travelled undermanned through Fallujah, Iraq, in March, 2004.

Constant invocation is made of the threat once posed by the Nazis, and its equivalence to today's threat. There are, indeed, many disturbing parallels, and particularly for people who have lived in Arab societies - Nonie Darwish, for one - their testimony can be compelling.

But it's one thing to resist tyranny from within a society, and to aid those resisting; it's another thing altogether to invade one of the primary centers of the Islamic world from without, with only 140,000 troops, and with the expectation of a cheery welcome.

What I found most galling was the invocation of Edmund Burke's famous quote:
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
and to openly state that every generation has to renew the gift of freedom through sacrifice, and that THIS battle was our generation's task. Very heady stuff, and very appealing to the idealistic young, but whom may I ask, decided that THIS task is ours? To me, it sounds like a call to arms. It sounds like jihad, but a Western variant - the Crusades, 21st-Century version. The movie's title is very revealing: it's about "Obsession" all right, but not just from the radical Muslim point of view.

As the Cold War made clear, the best answer to foreign aggression isn't rollback, and isn't appeasement, it's containment.

And no good 9/11 conspiracy theories besides! What was Keith thinking?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Getting A Grip On Titanic's Fuel Use

I was dumbfounded by the statistics I saw on Titanic's use of coal, and James McElroy was intrigued. Here is his research on the question.

This started as a post to your Blog on the Titanic Exhibition but it just got out of hand. If you want to use it feel free. It's just something I like to do.

Jim McElroy

Fun with Numbers

The fuel consumption numbers quoted for the Titanic do appear questionable but the way the statistic was presented is even more interesting. 60 lbs every 1.5 sec? WTF! It is the same mind boggling approach seen every day at the supermarket when asked to compare two products that are $1.98 for 24 oz. or $2.29 for 28 oz. The intention is to confuse.

Anyhow, the quoted fuel consumption is obviously 40 lb of coal per second, 72 tons per hour, or 1728 tons per day. Since the trip across the Atlantic required 6 days, the ship's capacity of 6,000 tons would have run out 3 days and 11 hours into the trip. I think that was before they met their iceberg. That would probably have been a "good thing", at least we wouldn't be visiting various Titanic road shows.

Being incurably curious, I looked up the Titanic's fuel consumption posted in the Titanic specifications listed on the website

quoted at 825 tons of coal per day. This means that 4950 tons would be consumed on the trip, much more suitable for the 6000 ton capacity.

This leads to thoughts of global warming. Is there some way to graphically show the thermal cost of this trip? Well, yes, in a general way. Coal has a heat content that varies greatly with the source and composition. It is a raw material, not a manufactured product. Coal of the type used for marine propulsion has a heat value ranging from 11,000 BTU/lb to 14,000 BTU/lb (per Marks Mechanical Engineers Handbook) so we'll pick 12,000 BTU/lb because it is an easy number to work with. For those who studied computer science instead of the real world, a BTU (British Thermal Unit) is a standard unit, dating back to the days of James Watt, and is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water from 60 deg F to 61 deg F. From this we can state that the 4950 tons (9.9 million pounds) of coal, would release 118.8 billion Btu's of thermal energy. We could round off to 120 billion Btu's, but what the hell, I have a calculator (score one for Computer Science).

Whee-ooo! That's a lot of Btu's, right? Or not. Is there any way to graphically describe how much heat this is? Well, yes, you knew there would be didn't you. We'll pull out another number from Mark's Handy Handbook and note that it requires 144 Btu's to melt one pound of Ice at 32 deg F. The heat produced by one trip across the Atlantic could melt 825,000,000 pounds or 412500 tons of Ice. To give a more visual perspective we look up another number, the density of Ice at 32 deg F which is 56 lb/cuft. A cube of ice weighing 825,000,000 lbs will occupy 13.22 million cubic feet and will measure 245 feet on each side. An iceberg of this dimension would weigh almost 10 times the gross tonnage of the Titanic and be almost one third of it's length. The top surface of the cube would be 24 feet above water level. This is probably comparable to or larger than the iceberg which did in the Titanic. You think it may have been a preemptive strike? If so it didn't work there either. Icebergs in the northern hemisphere are becoming an endangered species.

What about modern transportation? We can do exactly the same calculation for Air Travel. From the website

I acquired a fuel consumption figure of 5 gal/mile for a loaded Boeing 747. The figure was attributed to the Boeing website but I could not confirm. Probably a marketing news release. Anyhow, using 3,500 miles as the distance from New York to London, about the same as the Titanic route, it takes 17,500 gallons of jet fuel(kerosene) to cross the Atlantic once. The density of kerosene is 6.8 lbs/gal and it has a heating value of 19,810 BTU/lb. Jet fuel is a manufactured product and the numbers are pretty precise. Using the same calculation we find that a Boeing 747 flying from New York to London will release 2.36 billion BTU each trip. But wait, a 747 carries only about 500 passengers, while the Titanic carried about 2000. So, it takes four 747's to carry the same passenger load, or 9.44 billion Btu's compared to the Titanic's value of 118.8 billion Btu's to transport the same number of passengers. This is really why you see so few ocean liners on the transatlantic crossing today, not passenger convenience.

From here you get into the details of where combustion products are deposited, at ocean level (next to the world's largest carbon sink) or in the stable stratosphere where they stick around and block heat loss. The same type of calculations can be and are made for these effects, but I'm gonna bail.
Regarding Jim's last paragraph, most climatologists and atmospheric chemists believe that most of the carbon dioxide released by combustion processes remains in the atmosphere. The ocean is nearly supersaturated with CO2, and can only take it up in certain locales, one of which isn't too far away, actually, as Jim mentions - cold, sinking water near Iceland. Another primary sink for CO2, the weathering of rocks on land surfaces, is widely-dispersed, and the numbers are still poorly-understood. That's why CO2 has increased 15% or so, from 315 to 380 ppmv, just in my lifetime - it just accumulates.
Time To Mock The Dead

Via Atrios. It's getting to be that time of year, after all:
Helen Chenoweth-Hage, a conservative Republican firebrand who served three terms as an Idaho congresswoman, was killed Monday when thrown from a car that overturned on an isolated central Nevada highway.

Chenoweth-Hage was a passenger in the S-U-V-type vehicle that flipped just before noon on State Route 376, the main route between her Pine Creek Ranch, in Monitor Valley, and Tonopah.

The Nevada Highway Patrol says the 68-year-old victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver, daughter-in-law Yelena Hage, and her 5-month-old son Bryan weren't seriously injured.

N-H-P Trooper Rocky Gonzalez says Chenoweth-Hage was holding the baby and wasn't wearing a seatbelt. State law requires both seatbelts and babyseats. Both Chenoweth-Hage and the baby were thrown from the car but the child had only minor injuries.
October Surprise

Left: Photo via Talking Points Memo.

Everyone falls on their faces as the congressional races get down to the wire. In New York:
The Upstate media today is all about Tom Reynolds' bizarre press conference yesterday, at which he surrounded himself by small children. At one point, reporters asked if he could make the children leave so they could as adult questions, and he refused.

Monday, October 02, 2006

"West Side Story" - Week Three

Left: Maria (Chelsea Baldree), Anita (Amanda Morish), and one of the Sharks (Hermenio Torres).

Bernardo (David Ott) gets ready to practice some "shock and awe" on Riff.

In the back, Andy Hyun (obscured), Ryan Warren, Edward Nelson, Colby Salmon (as Tony), and Henry Holloway.

"Somewhere" Ballet - Chloe Condon, Marissa Casillas, and Edward Nelson.

Third Friday was fairly-rough: Bess got the giggles and folks were breaking character during "Cool." Saturday was great - lots of energy! Sunday was a little more subdued, although I think it was the audience, not the cast. Katy's party the night before notwithstanding, everyone soldiered on with lots of energy.
Familiar Haunts Between Las Vegas And Sacramento

Left: The Las Vegas Strip. The Mandalay Bay Hotel and Resort is in the foreground, where Kelly Daniells performs nightly.

We live in an Age of Miracles, when SO MUCH can be learned just by looking out the window of an aircraft!

Contrail shadow across the land, across the southwestern flank of the Spring Mountains, west of Las Vegas. Highway 160 crosses over Mountain Springs Summit (5,493 ft a.m.s.l.) down there.

The same contrail (above), and its remarkably dark and vivid shadow on a haze layer at the top of the Planetary Boundary Layer (PBL).

At first, I thought this was Coaldale Playa, but in retrospect, it's probably Mud Lake, SE of Tonopah. Not many other round playas in the desert (although Willcox Playa in southeastern Arizona and Searles Lake in California come to mind).

What is this crazy place? It may be a salt marsh near Silver Peak, NV, but I'm not sure.

At first, I thought this was the highway intersection between Highway 395 (left-to-right across center of picture), and Highway 3 (bottom-to-middle along right edge). Just a wide spot in the desert, really, but I'm fond of it nonetheless. I had good times playing with my dog Stella, in December, 1993, at this intersection. Stella vanished in February, 1994, and I've been sad about it ever since.

Looking again, I may be wrong. Now, I think this is the intersection between Highway 10 and Highway 395, south of Mina. Also another wide spot in the desert!

Walker Lake, remnant of Ice Age Lake Bonneville. I love this semi-desolate salt lake! Just imagine it one thousand times bigger, and that's Ice Age Lake Bonneville!

Yerington, Nevada, with the East Walker River flowing in from the west (left) and flowing out to the east (right).

Crazy ranchettes near the intersection of Highway 395 and Highway 3 to Yerington, right near the CA-NV state line, about 20 miles SE of Minden, NV. Is that Topaz lake down there? It looks so small! There is a U.S. Marine base just south of Topaz Lake, over the state line in California.

I can't quite figure out the exact attraction of living here - far from civilization, hard-scrabble (wait - I'm from Corrales, NM, not much of a different kind of place, so I should just shut up).

Looking north along the CA-NV state line, just east of Lake Tahoe. Washoe Lake is evident - it's just on the other side of Carson City, NV.

Lake Tahoe, as seen from the southwest, looking past the big bathtub provided by the Sierra Nevada, into the Great Beyond of northern Nevada.

Bridge over the American River, on Highway 49, just south of Auburn, CA.
"Mamma Mia" At Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

When John Wright and myself handed our tickets to the usher, the usher got excited and said "Oooh! These are special tickets!" Then he showed us where they were: dead center, first row, of the 1600-seat house. Pointing at the conductor and lead keyboardist, the usher said: "Say hi! to Pepe!" We all said: "Hi Pepe!"

I sat directly behind "Pepe" (the program lists him as Michael Brennan). I could easily see the three electric guitarists and three other keyboardists in the orchestra pit. I could comfortably read Pepe's music, and if I didn't like what he was playing, I could easily have leaned forward and smacked him on the side of his head.

Beside us sat a couple from Winnipeg, Manitoba. The fellow was a radiologist, and was a frequent visitor to UCD in Davis. Especially at intermission, they listened appreciatively I told them all about Kelly Daniells, and her start with DMTC, and some of her background in Sacramento-area musical theater.

The show itself, from such a close vantage point, was like being swept away in an explosion of high energy - a nuclear detonation of high-energy singing and dancing, with no end of exciting shocks! I have nothing but the highest praise for the show. Kelly was fantastic as Sophie Sheridan, of course, but everyone else was a phenomenon too: Vicki Van Tassel as Tanya, Robin Baxter as Rosie, and Carol Linnea Johnson as Donna Sheridan. The men were great as well: Jefferson Slinkard, Rick Negron, and Andy Taylor (Taylor played Leo Bloom in "The Producers" when its tour last stopped in Sacramento, and he will be reprising the role in the Las Vegas version of "The Producers.") The supporting corps of performers were just as fantastic, or in some cases, even better.

The only concerns I had were safety issues - I freaked when Vicki Van Tassel skidded towards the orchestra pit, and I was concerned in the Dream sequence at the top of Act II, when Kelly's head was positioned at the whip end of a rapidly-moving bed. My concerns were apparently-unmerited, but in community theater, such moves would be problematic.

At the end of the show, I leaned forward and told the conductor: "Great job! Now, play "Chess"! He nodded and said "Actually, I'd like to play that."

After the show, we lingered briefly in the event Kelly came out early, but we were both hungry and tired and ABBA-blasted, so we departed.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

"Titanic - The Artifacts Exhibition"

Left: A silly mortal stands on a recreation of the Titanic's Grand Staircase, at "Titanic - The Artifacts Exhibition", currently at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas.

We are all passengers on the Titanic - Jack Foster, Irish philosopher
"Titanic - The Artifacts Exhibition" has been at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas since June 1st, and was joined more-recently by one of the two (independently-managed) travelling "Bodies" exhibitions. The "Titanic" and "Bodies" exhibitions are side-by-side at the Tropicana.

The ethical circumstances of the "Bodies" exhibition are somewhat murky - did the people whose pieces and parts are on display actually give their permission for this strange afterlife? In any event, the "Titanic" display sounded more interesting, and less-compromised, so I went to see it.

At the exhibition wall, a banner was painted announcing the paired exhibitions. The banner read:
Titanic * Bodies * Titanic * Bodies * Titanic * Bodies * Titanic * Bodies * Titanic * Bodies * Titanic * Bodies * Titanic * Bodies *
I found the banner annoying. I thought, "it was 1,573 bodies, or so, OK? Give it a rest already!"

At the beginning of the walk through, they hand you a White Star Line boarding pass for a real person on the Titanic. I drew Mr. David John Barton, age 22, who was travelling to Rochester, NY, to take a job with Kodak. He had twice-failed a physical exam for third-class passengers, was left behind as his friends sailed forth on other ships, but finally was deemed healthy enough for travel.

The exhibition featured great photographs, plus some film clips, showing the process of hand-riveting steel plates (an older process used in difficult-to-reach places) and the newer, hydraulic riveting process.

The heart of the exhibition was all the various artifacts of daily-life recovered from the depths. Some artifacts are good-as-new, but depending on the exact manufacturing processes involved, some artifacts have suffered salt-water damage over the decades. Well-made artifacts jostle with indifferently-made ones to catch your eye.

There were strange looking items, such as the Titanic's whistles, as well as "Kilroy's Sounding Indicator," which gonged every few minutes, and flashed a number, to signal that one of the coal furnaces in a boiler room needed coal. The Titanic had a first-class gymnasium, featuring dumbbells, a Turkish bath, a squash court that could be rented for $1 per half hour, plus an "electric camel." Mockups of a third-class cabin and a first-class stateroom were presented, as well as a frigid, ultra-air-conditioned first-class promenade deck. A twisted porthole and a decorative ironwork from the Verandah Window Cafe were also shown.

Dining and personal items include: jars, dishes, a chef's cap, a waiter's notepad, tiles, cooking pots, shaving gear, a medicine dropper with a rubber bulb, an eyedropper, a toothpaste jar, a shoe brush, and face mirrors made with faux-ivory plastic backing and handle (plastics were just being invented).

One big surprise is how much paper they recovered intact from the depths. In 1912, the federal government still had not taken full control of the authority to issue money (that was in 1914, I believe), so there were a variety of dollar bills issued by obscure national banks all across the U.S., featuring Indian chieftains, wildlife, and all sorts of people, including the late President William McKinley. Many European banks looked upon this colorful array of paper money with suspicion, so most Americans travelling internationally at the time carried British pounds instead.

The fuel use statistics confounded me: I don't even know if they are correct. One pound of coal consumed per foot of travel, or 60 pounds every 1.5 seconds. The Titanic carried 6,000 tons of coal!

Towards the end of the maze-like exhibition, they played a soundtrack featuring what sounded like New-Age whalesong, which conjured up emotions of aquatic dread. They have a large scale model of what the forward portion of the Titanic looks like today on the ocean bottom. The Titanic is rusting away rather quickly: in 40 to 90 years, the remaining structure will utterly collapse.

The last room features personal items that have been tracked directly to specific people: Adolphe Saalfeld's perfume vials, Howard Irwin's business cards, Marion Meanwell's valise, and items belonging to George Rosenshine and Franz Pulbaum. I saw a woman quietly weeping as she looked at the surprisingly well-preserved black leather shoes belonging to Edgar Samuel Andrew, an Argentine-born English teenager.

Andrew's story was a real surprise. He had been summoned from England by his family to attend his brother's wedding in the United States, but like many others, he had been bumped from his first-choice of trans-Atlantic ship by a coal miner's strike, and he was forced to depart sooner than he wished. Andrew was very annoyed:
Eighty-nine years after the sinking of the TITANIC, a conservation team and researchers from RMS Titanic, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: SOST - news; the company owning the salvage rights to the famous ship) discovered that a suitcase brought up from the wreck site this past summer contained the personal belongings of a seventeen- year-old man named Edgar Samuel Andrew. Mr. Andrew, a citizen of Argentina, boarded the Titanic in Southampton, England, not far from where he was attending school.

Ironically, an exhibit of Titanic artifacts opened in Argentina in March 2001, and researchers were able to locate the family members of Edgar Samuel Andrew. Further investigation revealed a remarkable letter sent by Andrew to his friend in Argentina, Josey Cowan, just two days before he was to board the TITANIC.

Edgar had purchased a ticket to board the Steamship OCEANIC, but due to a coal strike, he was forced to change his ticket and go aboard the TITANIC. He wrote:

"You figure, Josey, I had to leave on the 17th this (month) aboard the ''Oceanic", but due to the coal strike that steamer cannot depart, so I have to go one week earlier on board the ''Titanic". It really seems unbelievable that I have to leave a few days before your arrival, but there's no help for it, I've got to go''.

"You figure, Josey, I am boarding the greatest steamship in the world, but I don't really feel proud of it at all, right now I wish the 'Titanic' were lying at the bottom of the ocean''.
The Titanic Exhibition captures a moment flash-frozen in time - a different, vanished world, just out of living memory, but still intimately connected with every part of our own world.

And Mr. David Barton? Like so many third-class passengers, he did not survive.