Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fish Out Of Water

Quite literally actually...

I wish it was longer and had more info, but it's fascinating nonetheless.  These little guys are seriously amazing, not to mention they can cause a pretty decent commotion if they come flying on board, especially at night and on a sailboat where you can hear them.

(via BF)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tommy John

With Nationals' phenom Stephen Strasburg reportedly getting ready for Tommy John surgery the baseball corner of the internets has lit up with folks discussing the process and the road to recovery and comparing various pitchers who have returned to dominance after the procedure etc etc perhaps even ad nauseum.

The bottom line definitely seems to be that it isn't a career ending injury / surgery these days and that we'll have to wait and see.  Also, that this is a major bummer for baseball fans everywhere, not just those pulling for the Nats.

It looks like one of the most interesting things out there concerning TJ surgery may be Braves' pitcher Kris Medlin's  new blog documenting his recovery from the procedure two weeks ago.  If he keeps it up it will definitely be worth following.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Read This Now Flashback

The dash is missing from the title of this post since it isn't an actual RTN, rather it's a way to clean up the oldies archive from before we started using labels here.  Coppola Comments has evolved a bit since then and this is just another tiny step along that path. 

Thanks for reading.

These are the Read This Now items that appeared in the sidebar prior to March 2008:

Shooting Stars

This video of asteroids discovered since 1980 is phenomenal, and amazingly spectacular.  Make sure to read the info section (from the youtube page)...

View of the solar system showing the locations of all the asteroids starting in 1980, as asteroids are discovered they are added to the map and highlighted white so you can pick out the new ones.
The final colour of an asteroids indicates how closely it comes to the inner solar system.
Earth Crossers are Red
Earth Approachers (Perihelion less than 1.3AU) are Yellow
All Others are Green

Notice now the pattern of discovery follows the Earth around its orbit, most discoveries are made in the region directly opposite the Sun. You'll also notice some clusters of discoveries on the line between Earth and Jupiter, these are the result of surveys looking for Jovian moons. Similar clusters of discoveries can be tied to the other outer planets, but those are not visible in this video.

As the video moves into the mid 1990's we see much higher discovery rates as automated sky scanning systems come online. Most of the surveys are imaging the sky directly opposite the sun and you'll see a region of high discovery rates aligned in this manner.

At the beginning of 2010 a new discovery pattern becomes evident, with discovery zones in a line perpendicular to the Sun-Earth vector. These new observations are the result of the WISE (Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer) which is a space mission that's tasked with imaging the entire sky in infrared wavelengths.

Currently we have observed over half a million minor planets, and the discovery rates snow no sign that we're running out of undiscovered objects.

Orbital elements were taken from the 'astorb.dat' data created by Ted Bowell and associates at
szyzyg put the video together.  I found it via Neil deGrasse Tyson's twitter feed - @neiltyson.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Is Biodiversity?

It's a good question, and a disturbingly difficult one to give a good succinct answer to (kind of like sustainable seafood or any number of other environmental buzz words and terms).

In this case a picture (or many of them) is, if not worth a thousand words, at least worth watching...

Biodiversity 2010 from iLCP on Vimeo.

The video is from the International League of Conservation Photographers, a very interesting organization that does some amazing and beautiful work.

(via BD)

China Does Things Large

Like walls, and dams, and populations, and now traffic jams.

An epic traffic jam in China is now in it's ninth day, and officials think it may drag on for a full month before sorting itself all the way out.

I haven't found any pictures that do the mess justice, at over 100km of gridlock we'll need some aerial shots for that.  Maybe there will be a google earth update? You can however, read about the jam and see what traffic expert Tom Vanderbuilt has to say about whether it will become a permanent settlement.

(via kottke)

The WSJ has a slide show with some interesting shots, mostly of how the truck drivers are coping with the mess. Thanks to KS for the tip and pointing out that media access is probably being controlled (this being China and all) and that aerial photos may well be banned.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Read This Now - The Right Answer

I've been staying away from the Park51 nonsense, largely because it is, more so than most things labeled as such, deserving of the moniker.

I don't have the patience to explain it, so I'll just say it's simple: you either believe in the principles on which America was founded and are happy to have your neighbors worship as they choose, or you don't (which makes you anti-American).

Senator Jeff Merkley writing in the Oregonian, makes the point much more eloquently (as well he should, it's nice to see some decent leadership on this one, in fact we're going to give you the whole thing since it really isn't fair to run an excerpt from this piece)...

The debate swirling around the proposed mosque and Muslim community center in lower Manhattan near the World Trade Center site has, for many, tapped into strong emotions of a national trauma that is still raw. But in the churning political and constitutional arguments, one question has not been adequately addressed: what makes a mosque near ground zero offensive?
Nearly everyone in this debate affirms the constitutional right for the mosque's construction. Indeed, that right is a cherished founding principle. As Thomas Jefferson said, "The constitutional freedom of religion [is] the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights." It is no accident that the right to worship in accordance with one's own conscience is enshrined in the First Amendment.

But, many mosque opponents argue, just because it can be built does not mean it should be. They say it would be disrespectful to the memories of those who died on 9/11 to build a Muslim facility near the World Trade Center site. I appreciate the depth of emotions at play, but respectfully suggest that the presence of a mosque is only inappropriate near ground zero if we unfairly associate Muslim Americans with the atrocities of the foreign al-Qaidaterrorists who attacked our nation.

Such an association is a profound error. Muslim Americans are our fellow citizens, not our enemies. Muslim Americans were among the victims who died at the World Trade Center in the 9/11 attacks. Muslim American first responders risked their lives to save their fellow citizens that day. Many of our Muslim neighbors, including thousands of Oregon citizens, serve our country in war zones abroad and our communities at home with dedication and distinction.

Some have also argued that the construction of the mosque would hand a propaganda victory to Osama bin Laden. I think the opposite is true. Al-Qaida justifies its murder by painting America as a nation at war with Islam. Celebrating our freedom of religion and Muslim Americans' place in our communities is a blow to al-Qaida's ideology of hate and division. We strengthen America by distinguishing, clearly and unequivocally, between our al-Qaida enemy and our Muslim neighbors.

President Bush understood the importance of separating the terrorists from over a billion peaceful Muslims around the world whose faith has been used as an excuse by those bent on killing. Speaking at a mosque just six days after the World Trade Center attack, President Bush said, "These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith, and it's important for my fellow Americans to understand that."

I have great respect for the sentiments of the survivors and family members of those who died on 9/11, and understand that some may not regard the situation this way. But our fundamental religious freedom and our national security -- in addition to fairness for our fellow citizens -- will be well served by drawing a bright line between our Muslim friends and neighbors at home, and our al-Qaida enemy abroad.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City has also spoken well on the subject.

You know who else gave a good statement on this, Ron Paul. Check it out.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lizzie Warren For Sheriff

I'd heard this video was out there, but no one told me that it was auto-tuned country rap with line-break dancing in addias...

(via too many places to count)

Read This Now - How Rich

James Surowiecki has a nice rundown on some of the issues with our current tax structure and the problems that face arguments in favor of reforming it.

Interestingly he convincingly declares that this is not a case where simpler would be better.  Instead as American incomes have become increasingly stratified, among the rich, very rich, and filthy rich in particular, what we need is more tax brackets at higher levels...

This makes no sense—there’s a yawning chasm between the professional and the plutocratic classes, and the tax system should reflect that. A better tax system would have more brackets, so that the super-rich pay higher rates. (The most obvious bracket to add would be a higher rate at a million dollars a year, but there’s no reason to stop there.) This would make the system fairer, since it would reflect the real stratification among high-income earners. A few extra brackets at the top could also bring in tens of billions of dollars in additional revenue.
Make sure to read the whole thing.  Surowiecki continues to write simple, informative, and entertaining financial columns, you should try to read them all.

(via TMN which has just joined the reader)

Color Me Impressed

Pretty Sure this is about the most ridiculous baseball catch I've ever seen...

(via AC @ Kottke)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Joy & Terror Of Grad School

Grad School has long been heralded as a refuge from which to wait out economic storms.  But when your time is up and you have to head back out into the real world it can still be a scary place. 

Especially when this is happening...

Nice visual presentation and demonstration of unemployment trends during the current recession.  Latoya Egwuekwe put the video together and has been updating it fairly regularly as new data becomes available.

If we aren't already large scale farmers in the mid-west looks like we might be headed to DC or Burlington, VT.

(via MB on fb)

About That Oil

Welcome back sports fans!

It feels like a lot must have happened while I was off the grid, but it was August after all, so mostly folks were probably lying low and trying to avoid the heat.

I did hear on the radio that the Administration and BP were claiming that most of the oil had already dissipated from the Gulf.  If you're anything like me your reaction was along the lines of  'Yeah, right.  Good luck with that.'

And indeed those claims are proving likely to be too good to be true.  With a group of Gulf based scientists and reasearchers refuting the Administration's claims, and instead reporting that as much as 79% of the leaked oil may still be in the Gulf (not including the oil that has certainly washed into the fragile wetlands of the region).

Check out the Bloomberg story for the details and let us know if you come across the actual memo (I haven't found it yet).

Kate Sheppard says the Administration's math on the Oil Disaster reporting doesn't add up.

Update II:
The AFS Blog has a bit more from the academic side of the story and links to the actual report and figures.