Ramblings about what I encounter within the realm of the geosciences, as well as the occasional rant about nonsense.

27 October 2008

Go out and vote!

Well here is a short political post. I remember a few years ago (4 to be exact) I was hopeful about electing someone competent (if not an engaging individual) to be president. Needless to say, I was horribly disappointed (the news came in the middle of a conference nonetheless. EVERYBODY looked down the next day). Around that time I was sent the link to the Diebold voting machine video. I tracked it down and put it up, because it is still funny.



Well those same individuals responsible have a new and updated one for the 2008 election. It seems to be missing something this year. I think... it is...wait don't tell me... Oh yeah, a spine. So, while it is a similar bit to last time, it comes off only a bit better than when SNL had Palin on opposite Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. That also lacked bite. Anyway here it is.



For the life of me I don't understand why we can't have a paper trail (so we can do hand counting as well) or just do it with hand counting. Diebold...what a joke.

26 October 2008

Obligatory Tree Post

Well, I am one to follow a crowd. I don't know if I have a favorite type of tree, but I do have some pictures that I have used to illustrate changing landscapes to students which use trees as the "gee something isn't right" warning flag.
I took this photo during the 1st North American Landslide Conference held in Vail, CO back in June 2007. This was on a recently repaved road (that was already showing cracks in the asphalt). The trees, that don't look so healthy, are curving upwards towards the sun as the slope is continuing to succumb to enticing wiles of gravity.
This is a fairly common picture taken at Quake Lake Callan over at NOVA Geoblog recently included a shot very similar to this from his visit here over the summer
And this is a shot I took on July 3rd up in Glacier National Park (On going to the sun highway). I had heard the mountain pine beetle is getting around. (I assume it was some sort of beetle, and it didn't look like there was any fire damage around, plus they still had plenty of snow pack at that time this previous year. So it might not be MPB, but I still think some sort of bug did this).

As my favorite "tree", I do like both my go-ban and my shogi-ban. When my sister first saw them she said something to the effect of "No wonder that box was so heavy, it had a tree in it". In my defense, she moved the box with my go-ban in it without my knowledge, or I wouldn't have let her do it. Seriously, they are heavy.
I also enjoyed the tree that I climbed on as a kid, but that tree has since had several of its branches trimmed off, and I don't have a picture from back in the day. Oh, and my neighbors had three pines that converged to form a natural tree house, but the ravages of time have also made that strictly a memory.

25 October 2008

Soap-box

Edit: I see ReBecca of Dinochick blogs beat me to the punch, so disregard this particular windbag.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ok, this comic (while hilarious and disturbingly painful at the same time) has apparently incensed a certain demographic of the population.
PhD is a great and fun way to share the communal pain that is the academic life cycle (focused mainly on the nascent stage that is grad school, but communicates well to all involved). Once in a while they will show the absurdity of the real world in a particularly stunning way. This is just an example of that. However, when Catherine Rampell over at the NY Times decides this comic is worth publishing on her NYT blog. The first several comments have all been about her not understanding college athletics and this graph is misleading (I grant it isn't a torrential downpour of insults, more a trickle (by trickle I mean ~4 at the time I am writing this), but it irks me nonetheless).

Frankly, there isn't much to understand about what this comic illustrated. It shows that Faculty and most emphatically Grad Students make a pittance in comparison to other divisions of academia. While there can be some arguments that "this is how it should be" and "I don't want to do what the provosts do" etc. It is surprising, because without the faculty (and the grad students struggling to appease the faculty so that they may go on to be faculty themselves someday [or get a job that actually pays well]) the university system would not exist. I can stomach the administration getting paid more, because frankly I certainly DO NOT want to deal with the minutiae of university operations (just let me do my research, teach my classes, and occasionally sleep and/or get coffee). But when a football coach makes THAT much more than the people who actually matter at a university... frankly it is insulting.

The notion that football teams support universities (or any athletic endeavor) is a joke. Research supports the university system. Students wanting to learn and better themselves supports the university system. A bunch of overgrown gorillas chasing around a ball does NOT support the university system. You remove the football team, the university is still there (Look at Boston University). It reminds me of a particularly inept QB at my undergrad stating to the school paper one day:
"I am an athlete-student, not a student-athlete, and my priorities are playing ball."
-Bradlee "Sunshine" Van Pelt
The quote was republished here, along with pointing out that his 2.6 is an excellent GPA. The point of this comic wasn't to change the way the pay scale works at universities (if only wishing made it so). If anything, it was to knock that infernal swagger out of the so-called "athlete-students". Most aren't going to make it in professional ball (Sunshine was a 3rd string publicity stunt for a bit, but that is it as far as I am aware). So they should take the time that they were lucky enough to get and LEARN. And the next time the university starts suggesting it may be time for a new stadium (or new uniforms, or whatever), it might be a valid point to suggest a new library (or expand the collection of the current one) or start updating lab facilities, or if there is that much money floating around why not reduce overhead on grants (stop strangling the faculty's research dollars and you might see a burst of productivity which leads to more research). Anyway that is one of my soap-boxes, I'm getting down now.

23 October 2008

The Age of Rocks

Sorry that I have been away for a bit (the real world ganged up on me). I also ran out of new photos from Europe (I am still waiting for my Dad and Brother to email me the pics taken with their cameras), so at some point I might actually finish the Spain trip.

I guess I will just point out that in addition to it being Avogadro's number day (at 6:02 AM on Oct 23rd) this is also when Ussher decided the earth was created 6012 years ago (October 23rd 4004 BC at ~ 9:04 AM). Of course there is no science involved in this assertion... but that is besides the point to the lovers of sky-daddy. So (taking the advice that eric usually gives on such an occasion) celebrate by punching a YEC.

On a similar note, The Concise Geologic Timescale (2008) is now available. I flipped through it at GSA and it looks very similar to A Geologic Timescale 2004. Except it is a lot smaller and hardbound. It is also less than half of the price of 2004. Obviously it can't go as in depth, but it still provides an excellent resource if you are in need of very specific geologic dates that don't rely on begatting people.

Also, if you are interested in geologic time scales, the ICS has a link to a time scale generator. Here is an example of what someone can quickly whip up just by punching in a set of dates.

Disclaimer

All the Latin on this page is from my vague recollections from High School. There are mistakes in the text. I just was trying to get the point across

Between Los Alamos,NM and White Rock, NM

Between Los Alamos,NM and White Rock, NM
The photo of the travertine spring was taken in the small opening in the center of the image.

Lectio Liber