Monday, April 23, 2007

Earth Day

Yesterday was Earth Day so I guess I would be remiss if I didn't inject my usual contrarian opinion to this manufactured day.

1) To the right is the sober voice of reason in the face of the braying Suzukis. Curiously, supply estimates are increasing faster than production which is the exact opposite to the alarmist warnings of the 60s, 70s 80s and 90s. I find it funny that Suzuki doesn't talk about oil running out anymore. I also find it funny whenever I hear the term "vested interest" in reference to oil politics. David Suzuki makes a living predicting doom and chastising behaviors. Doesn't he have a vested interest? Seems like a good reason to ignore anything that comes out of his mouth frankly.

2) Also for your consideration is a graph of inflation adjusted oil prices. As you can see, except for that OPEC blip in the 70s, the price of oil has remained remarkably stable. This in spite of the popular mythology to the contrary.

3) In other words everything you hear is probably wrong.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dark Have Been My Dreams of Late.

What makes this picture so extraordinary is that my left arm is clearly sticking out at an angle that has otherwise been foreign to it.
I actually enjoyed walking this weekend and my shoulder seems to be slowly recovering, simultaneously gaining strength and flexibility.
Curiously, the skin had shrunk around my previously immobile shoulder and now that the joint is unlocking, the skin under my armpit has split like John Banner's shirt.

Physio/rehab is daily and difficult but my spirits are higher than they've been for nearly a year.

Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Climatology's Wrong Side of the Tracks

1) Speaking of ice cores, here's a tidy little diagram showing the correlation between orbital eccentricity and macro temperature cycles. Its not hard for me to imagine that the "constructive and destructive interference" of the various cycles of precession,obliquity and eccentricity have the ability to present the earth with drastic and unexpected(for now) climate trends.

2) Below is a fine correlation between cosmic radiation and cloud formation. This is the work of Henrik Svensmark .
His work is interesting but unbiased assessment of it is nearly impossible to find since it runs counter to the prevailing winds of climate change. His experiments show how cosmic radiation contributes to cloud formation which obviously effects insolation/insulation. He also noticed from existing data sets that recent cosmic radiation and temperature were related.

3) Some other interesting counter-trend science involves solar dust in the atmosphere which also creates powerful greenhouse effects.

"The most recent observations in frame of the DUST experiment on board the Ulysses spacecraft have shown that stardust level inside of the solar system was trebled during the recent solar maximum (Landgraf et al., 2003. "..."It is possible that the periodic increase of stardust in the solar system will influence the amount of extraterrestrial material that rains down to the Earth and consequently down to the Earth's atmosphere and may affect climate through alteration of atmospheric transparency and albedo. "

4) And just in case one is tempted to bestow esteem on the scientific credentials of anyone, here's a cheap pot-shot at the acme of institutions. Its funny to me how absurd this comment is and yet how little has changed in scientific discourse:

[The objective of geology is] "to confirm the evidences of natural religion; and to show that the facts developed by it are consistent with the accounts of the creation and deluge recorded in the Mosaic writings."
-- William Buckland,
Oxford Professor of Mineralogy and Geology
in The Connection of Geology with Religion Explained (1820)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Ethanol Et thetera

1) I've seen more and more media attention paid to ethanol these days. There are some PSAs floating through the 500 channel universe drawing attention to Harper's promise to have 5% ethanol fuel content by some date. Anyway, for those who don't know but suspected it all along, it takes more energy to produce ethanol than is given off by burning it. I suppose to a Saskatchewan born and bred tumbleweed like me who grew up listening to farmers complain about input costs for years, it doesn't really surprise me that it isn't efficient to drag tractors across the earth planting, fertilizing, pestasizing,harvesting and processing corn to the point that someone can burn it in their car.
As energy becomes less an economic issue, and more of a political issue, I suspect that the media will eventually wade through the many studies and the many competing interests. When this happens, its always useful to be armed with the facts. See the definitive study by Cornell Professor of ecology and agriculture here.

It might make you wonder why anyone bothers producing ethanol. Apart from those getting juicy government subsidies.

2) I'd like to see a movie that takes place over a weekend shooting of one of those bad local furniture store ads. Wes Anderson get on this please, I'll be home all week if you need to brainstorm

3) The United Nations released a huge study this week. It contains doom and gloom predictions of the earth's climate in the future. It was duly read and reported by every major news outlet. I'm not sure why considering that everyone knows that we can't predict the weather 4 days from now never mind 40 years! Compared to global climate, the hockey game between the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils is a much simpler problem to predict yet no one has figured out how to do that yet. I predicted that NY would win today which incidentally they did though my successful prediction should not be confused with understanding that would allow me to predict other games.
I really don't know what value this report is except to frighten people since its predictions are no better than arbitrary. And if that's the case, it should have been written by science fiction writers rather than scientists.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

neck catheters and other drugs

Well, I return from the hospital without need of a lawyer which is the best one can hope for I think. I declined to include a disgusting photo of the neck catheter that blocked signals from my arm to my brain. After blocking the nerves, they scooped out the blocking tissue surrounding my shoulder joint. Dr. Lo said that in his experience, he's never scooped out that much. I hate being connected to other people's superlatives. Anyway, they sewed me back up and after a few days gave my nerve endings back to me but started me on oxycodone or "poor man's heroin" as its known on the street. Its apparently the number one stolen drug from pharmacies. I was on it for 7 days straight until I so desparately needed a bowel movement and a moment of normalcy that I finally kicked. Heavy physiotherapy now stands between me and whatever chance that the surgery worked.