Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica

The title doesn't have anything to do with this post beyond the fact that it is a collection of wholly unrelated things. Here be a hodge-podge of similarly unrelated things that I read today and found to be interesting/noteworthy.

Tom Friedman over at the NYTimes has an op-ed piece titled "Dumb as We Wanna Be" about how stone-cold stupid the USA's energy policy is. Here's the money quote:

This is not an energy policy. This is money laundering: we borrow money from China and ship it to Saudi Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it goes through our gas tanks. What a way to build our country.

He also talks about the current presidential race and alternative energy opportunities. Good read - go check it out.

An article from Astronomy Report details the first evidence of a supermassive black hole being kicked out of its parent galaxy due to a merger with another supermassive black hole. Interestingly, this appears to me to be evidence in support of the up-until-now purely theoretical gravity waves that events like black hole mergers are supposed to generate. The article doesn't mention the lack of evidence for gravity waves though, which is odd. We are actually working on building a gravity wave detector right now. It's called LIGO and it's pretty nifty. Works by detecting minute (and I mean minute) shifts in the time it takes a laser to travel a given distance.

Ben Stein has, sadly, gone off the deep end. He's now making claims that are very nearly asserting that all scientists are Nazis... Sad times indeed.

Another one of those "is the US losing ground in the Brain Power race" articles has cropped up. Let me make this short and sweet: YES. The state of US high schools is deplorable, and those students that do make it to college are having more and more trouble completing it on time. Then, those that do complete it are left with monstrous debt, often forcing them into seeking jobs based solely on pay, as opposed to piddling little concerns like interest in the field. Bah...

The Washington Post has a pretty long article on corn based ethanol production. Definitely worth a read. Here's my summary: Corn based ethanol is STUPID. It uses as much or more energy to produce as it provides in return. It's helping to drive up food prices. It's causing an increase in the amount of tilled land. It's a bad idea, and it needs to stop.

I can't summarize this article any better than the article does in its opening paragraph:

In the late '90s, pop-culture historian Bill Geerhart had a little too much time on his hands and a surfeit of stamps. So, for his own entertainment, the then-unemployed thirtysomething launched a letter-writing campaign to some of the most powerful and infamous figures in the country, posing as a curious 10-year-old named Billy.In the late '90s, pop-culture historian Bill Geerhart had a little too much time on his hands and a surfeit of stamps. So, for his own entertainment, the then-unemployed thirtysomething launched a letter-writing campaign to some of the most powerful and infamous figures in the country, posing as a curious 10-year-old named Billy.

It's a crazy idea and he got some pretty friggin cool responses. Click the link and check it out.

To wrap up, I googled "bears. beets, battlestar galactica." and I came up with a couple of interesting images. Here's my fav:

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