Archive for March, 2011

AAVSO at 20 Million

March 24, 2011

The American Association of Variable Star Observers hit the 20 million observations mark last month.


As an active observer between 1980 and 2000, I am immensely proud of this organization. (more…)

Wednesday Wii — Wii of a Thousand Days

March 23, 2011

So my Wii can’t remember when a year has passed, but it knows about decimal rollover, and yesterday was our 1,000th day of Wii’ded bliss. At the point at which Anne Boleyn had her head cut off, I’ve lost at least that much from around my middle. Of course, my body seems to be stuck at 217lbs, but now that Spring is here, we can start our new campaign of counter-fat ops.

S.E. Morison and the History of US Naval Operations in WWII

March 18, 2011

At the start of WWII, Samuel Eliot Morison was a professor of history at Harvard. He convinced President Roosevelt that the naval war should be documented by historians on site from the start. The result was the highly readable History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, fourteen volumes, almost 5000 pages, of active, informative prose, with a fifteenth volume as an index and general reference. Originally published in the 1950’s, it is currently being reissued in paperback form.

Night Battle off Guadalcanal

I had a chance to reread the entire series last summer. Even now, fifty years after its initial publication, it still reads well. Morison doesn’t pull any punches. This isn’t one of those ‘official’ histories, where everybody gets mentioned, and nobody is incompetent. In the Solomons Campaign, in particular (where the Navy’s pullout left the Marines, including my father, without adequate support for months), he details the errors that led to a situation where we could only put surface ships in the area at night, and where we lost a number of the surface actions — before learning how to win. I learned a lot from reading the full set in one sitting, as it were. (more…)

Sendai flood from Space Update

March 13, 2011

Actually, Sendai doesn’t appear on the latest NASA images, it’s off the picture to the north. These new pictures confirm that the southern extent of the flooding is roughly at Ukedo. On the right-hand image that’s on the north edge of the small puff-ball white cloud sitting right on the coast.

NASA image

These look to be near-Infra-Red spectrum, false color images, where foliage is pink-to-red (depending on its development), deep water is blue (unless turbid), and shallow water is dark-to-light grey. Judging from the lighter shading, the two patches of flooding there are not as bad as elsewhere, but if your home has water up to your knees, it’s not much consolation to think that at least it’s not up to your waist.

If I am map-matching correctly, the Fukushima nuclear plants are further south still, right at the bottom of the image.

Systems, General Systems, Systems Dynamics, and the Earth 1

March 13, 2011

I just finished reading an essay by Vandana Singh, Author, Friend, Bloggatrix, and -ePal, over on Strange Horizons. The essay begins halfway up a cliff in the Himalayas, and ends with the idea of rewilding nature and the promise of future essays on the why and the how. I recommend you go over there and read it. Don’t worry, you won’t miss anything — not much happens in this corner of the Internet.

Much of the essay deals with interconnectedness, and the human response to local emergence. I am inspired to talk about the same topic (thanks, Vandana), but in a more formally Systems Science fashion. (more…)

Sendai flood from space

March 12, 2011

Here’s a before and after from NASA’s Earth Observation Satellite. Note the clean curve of the coast in the 26 February shot, compared with the jagged appearance from the 12th. BTW, If you click on the pix to get the blown up version, you get a 9MB shot of the whole archipelago, but not much more detail at Sendai. What the blown up version does show is that the flooding appears to have run all along the coast, from Matsushima Airbase, all the way south to Ukedo, about 70 miles (note: Google Maps only recognizes Namie township, inland).


For a different view of the undisturbed coast, here’s a radar mapping image.

And here is a more recent update.

The Impeccable Logic of the RIAA

March 11, 2011

Here’s a site with a chart from RIAA, corrected and evaluated by Michael DeGusta.

Back in the 4th installment of “They Hate Us For Our Freedoms”, I suggested that the RIAA knew exactly what they were doing — fighting a scorched-earth rear-guard action against hopeless odds. I think these charts make that clear.

The common theory explaining the drop in music CD sales — held by all who are not in thrall to RIAA (more…)

Two Years Before the Masthead

March 5, 2011

So, this blog started two years ago, with a “hello world” on 5 March, 2009. Since then it has garnered 140 posts, not counting this one, and almost 1400 views, call it 10 views per post. I suspect that fewer than half of those are by real people who were not me and not lost. That’s OK, since I am doing the Internet equivalent of singing in the shower.

The entries have been less frequent and more eclectic than I thought they would be. For the next year I’ll try to publish more, think more, keep flying.

Life in the late 14th Century

March 4, 2011

Tuscan artist Cennino Cennini lived in the late 1300’s/early 1400’s. None of his paintings survive, but his notebooks and recipes do. Here’s one for a fine plaster:

Take bone from the second joints and wings of fowls, or of a capon, and the older they are the better. Just as you find them under the dining-table, put them in the fire; and when you see that they have turned whiter than ashes…

What I find interesting is not so much his production methods as his inadvertant description of what a typical dining room floor of the period might look like. Presumably there were rushes and so forth, changed seasonally, to give the chicken bone collection a more rustic look.