Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Just enough to get me in trouble

Nothing today-- Hold the presses!

I heard something I had to pass on:

Old Testament: The Original
New Testament: The Sequel
Koran: The Reimagination
Book of Mormon: The Fanfic

Wall of Idiots
More SCOTUS idiocy

Okay: Michael Jackson Links
Michael Jackson: Plastinated At Last!
V: Michael Jackson in the avian world

Links of Interest
Visions of Saturn
Bug Zappers From Hell
Spirit Searching Soil and the Sky
Unveiling the Solar Impulse
One 3 foot piranha, coming up
Hydrogen Fuel Tanks from Chicken Feathers
Imaging Memory
Fit in Six Minutes/Week
Real Climate
Women Cave Painters
The Extremely Large Telescope
V: Crocodile vs. Watermelon
Saints, 1, Sinners, 0: Maintaining Moral Balance
Bidding Virginity
Quirky Sex News
What would happen if Hoover dam broke?
Trash Menagerie
Kaguya Spacecraft crashes into moon and here
Billy Mays Dies! Products Reviewed!
Bamboo: The Next Cash Crop

More on Tiny Beer Stoves and here
Altoid Travel Games
Sel-Refulating Container Garden
Crystallized Ginger
Air Rocket
Fiber Optics Kit
Homemade Stickers
Fly Trap
July 4th

Friday, June 26, 2009

SCOTUS now on the Wall of Idiots

As curmudgeonly as I am, I like people. Human beings are amazingly smart and we have been so for a long, long time. (See here.)

But (and there's always a "but"), I created the Wall of Idiots section for a reason.

Ideology makes fools of us all and, it turns out, the Supreme Court is no exception. (See here.) It turns out that SCOTUS is not only aiding and abetting environmental destruction when it appears before them, they even seek out opportunities above and beyond the call of duty to do so.

A good friend once said to me that life wasn't some sort of trial run. The natural world isn't either. It's the only one we have-- unless you believe in some fictional utopia that lurks just down the road.

Of course, if there is such a place, I bet it's a gated community and the SCOTUS justices own condos.

But the environment, like disease, doesn't recognize economic and national borders. You'd think smart people, like the justices, would understand that.

Wall of Idiots
The Subprime Supreme Court
Not so green companies

Links of Interest
Hitler's Stealth Aircraft
Early modern humans earlier than thought
1,000,000 H1N1 infected Americans
Conformists destroy civilization
Seeing a black hole
Ground zero
Future of Energy
Tunguska redux and here
Dung ecology
Chatham, Mass, RIP
Round the world solar aircraft
Solar technology
Poo on Poo: Toilet made of excrement
V: Pulse jet bike
V: Home made guitar
Not so empty space
Breaking glass frozen in time

Upside down earth box
Used tire garden
LED Room Lighting
LCD Screen Repair
Fretless guitar w/ glass fretboard
Pocket tacklebox
Fern nursery
Backpacker kitchen and here
Mexican discada
Paper beads
Rain water
Workbench magnification camera
Habanero chili sauce
Chevy S-10 conversion
Solar still
Sorbet bars
Potato gatling gun

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Limitations on Intelligence

I'm often impressed by the fundamental intelligence of human beings. I don't mean the obvious things like engines and rockets. But little things like my son trying to figure out how to make his bicycle fly. He's figuring that out and he's come up with some interesting ideas.

Given how intelligent humans are, it always makes me sad when people are stupid. But the stupidity shows up some interesting foibles about how humans work.

The one that caught my eye this week is the Jenny McCarthy Body Count site. This is a stie that looks at heath statistics and determines sickness and death based on people not getting themselves or their kids vaccinated. I don't consider the site stupid. Just Jenny McCarthy.

But it shows how humans evaluate risk.

There is a risk to vaccination-- heck, there's a risk for your kid to swallow ice cream. It's an immediate risk in that if a child is susceptible, the child can get sick. Possibly die, though that's very rare. There's no current way to determine who is susceptible and who isn't; there are just too many factors. My own bet is that there are genetic subsets of the population that can be susceptible to different factors. But it's pure speculation.

The risk of not vaccinating is of a different sort. If you are the only person not vaccinating your child, there's a good chance you can get away from it unscathed since all around you are people who have vaccinated immunity. There is, then, an incentive to not vaccinate and take the risk.

The problem is, of course, that there is rarely any one person that does a single thing. People act in groups. So your single child is several children until they are a significant number of people undercutting the population immunity. Now, if this vulnerable subset of children get sick they not only pose a risk to themselves, they pose a risk to the immune group since in the immune group there are ranges of immunity.

This reminds me of the "Tragedy of the Commons" so eloquently expressed by Garret Hardin. The medieval commons is where everyone grazed their cattle. As long as everybody took their turn and kept their numbers of cows down, the commons was sustainable. But if an individual took advantage of the group and overgrazed the Commons, he got an immediate advantage at the expense of everybody else. The individual got the advantage of the additional cows but the damage to the commons was sustained by the group.

This sound curiously like the vaccination situation-- using an emotional currency of fear rather than economics.

The solution to the commons was to enclose the commons and make individuals responsible both for the profit and the loss from their husbandry practices. These were called the enclosures.

But you can't enclose disease.

Or stupidity.

Wall of Idiots
Fox "News"
Lies about Obama
More lies about Obama

Links of Interest
Population and Sustainability
Plug and Play the Brain
Elegant Immortality
Warp Speed and here
A preassembled nuclear reactor
Darwin's art
Solar Shingles
Renewables Reviewed
The Myth of Fingerprints
The last 10 elements
More on Coal Ash Sites
Time to leave Kansas
Fritz Kahn
Ideas on the Moon

Altoid Kalimba and here
Milk Crate Cart
Tabletop Tesla Coil and here
Father's Day
Seed Tapes

Monday, June 1, 2009

Paper Beauty

Normally, I just talk about writing, biology or politics in this space. But today we're going to do something different.

Canon has produced a site of paper art and craft called Creative Park. The site consists of a large number of possible things that can be built using the patterns supplied, a little time and effort and a color printer. The image at left is a Hiroshige print formed as a decoupage. The direct link is here.

I was turned on to this by the article in Make on a model of the internal structure of the sun. But I soon found much, much more.

Go. Have fun. Get excited. Make things.
Wall of Idiots
GOP Lies about Cap and Trade. Surprise.

Links of Interest
Neanderthal Birth Canal
Great Extinctions linked to volcanos
Altruism benefits linked people
V: A clarinet covered in bees
Paper architecture
Saved by junk DNA
Control your cooties!
Play outside of mammals
Recreating a lost instrument
Studying happiness
1972 Biology Today Textbook
The Israel Pathology
The Fruit Hunters
Weird Science
V: Hand of Man

Minimal Bridges
Canon Papercraft
Wood Steaming Cabinet
Steel Flower
Steel Butterfly
Listen to your electric fish
Crutch chair