Thursday, October 8, 2015


A San Francisco "Experimental philosopher", Mr. Jonathon Keats, has proposed carrying social entrepreneurship to its logical extreme.
He reckons on advancing world  government by literally reshaping the Earth by  tectonic  geoengineering, so we all  dwell  in a  single nation on a single supercontinent.

While the United Nations Environmental Program has yet to convene an  International Panel On Continent Change,   Keats will display his conception of the enabling  technology in a conceptual art exhibit at San Francisco's Modernism Gallery.   According to one report :
Powered by the heat below the Earth's core, nuclear reactors would cool magma in some places, while subterranean machines would heat it up elsewhere, moving continents around. The Pacific Ocean would disappear, bringing together the U.S., Russia & China.
"You have three countries that are looking at each other with a high degree of suspicion from across an ocean, that would literally be in the same place," he says. "I think that that changes things."
The new supercontinent would also bring the Global South upward. "It becomes a way in which to potentially alter the economic status quo," Keats says. "Because economics is such a crucial matter as far as how we address climate change, ... by bringing them into greater alignment, perhaps we no longer have this us versus them antagonism."
A trifling investment in dimensional analysis suggests a problem with Keats philanthropic scheme, which would require firing up several new mantle plumes on a scale rivaling those that produced the flood basalts that figured in the Permian-Triassic and Cretaceous -Tertiary extinctions. Re-arranging the continents on his contemplated scale might entail melting about 10% of the Earth's crust and upper mantle - a volume of hot rock roughly 100 times that of the oceans and atmosphere combined. 

Since magma is  three orders of magnitude denser than air and needs to be heated by over 1000 degrees Kelvin to make it flow fast enough to carry out Mr. Keat's modest proposal in less  than the evolutionary lifetime of any known  vertebrate species, a lot of  surplus heat from the beefed-up geotherm would end up in the oceans and atmosphere. 

Dividing the ~  gigajoule  per tonne heat of fusion of that much rock into the specific heat of the hydrosphere will, alas , boil the oceans dry, and then some, which Neopangaeans may regard as a feature rather than a bug, as absent the oceans, we'd all be on one continent anyway.

Economically speaking, Keats must be regarded as a true cornucopian: at present nuclear electric prices, (~ $ 50 a gigajoule) the per capita start-up cost would be ~ $350,000,000,000,000,000,000.

            The  Guillotine  Powered  Movement  Never  Needs  Rewinding

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

We Aim For The Stars,  But  Usually We  Hit  The Red Crescent

While  physicists,  geophysicists, and  even  climate  modelers  and archaeologists show a commendable reluctance to shoot each other, the same , alas , cannot be said of Nobel Peace Prize winners, one of whom , our respected Commander In Chief, has just apologized to another, President Joanne Liu  of  Medicins  Sans  Fronteres,  for shooting the bejesus out of MSF's hospital in Kunduz Afghanistan.

Last Saturday's air strike  killed a dozen Medicins leaving an entire Afghan frontier province without a MASH unit. At least ten patients were also killed , including three children and one on the operating table, which evidently drew fire for having been used to sew up an assortment of Talibanis last month.

POTUS called Doctors Without Borders President Joanne Liu to apologize, and express his condolences, according to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, but asked whether Obama offered some explanation to Liu, Earnest said no :"He merely offered his heartfelt apology" .

"If we let this go, as if it was a non-event, we are basically giving a blank check to any countries who are at war," said Liu , ading that "If we don't safeguard that medical space for us to do our activities, then it is impossible to work in other contexts like Syria, South Sudan, like Yemen."

I first dealt with  MSF in 1984, when Harvard's Committee for a Free Afghanistan helped French volunteers in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan arrange specialized medical treatment of  Soviet mine and bombing victims. While good deeds seldom go unpunished, none of the doctors involved in that Reagan era project were among the victims Saturday, nor sadly were some of the Taliban SOB's who made common cause with America at the time, notably Engineer Hekmatyar Gulbuddin, who has gone from taking tea in DC as  President Reagan received the recuperating children he had helped deliver to Children's Hospital and the Shriner's Burn Center, to playing warlord  and dealing opium in Herat- at last account he had a five million dollar price on his head.

Reuters notes
MSF's hospital in Kunduz had treated nearly 400 people, including some Taliban, wounded in heavy fighting in the days before the attack, MSF's Bruno Jochum said.

Its GSP coordinates had been shared with all authorities.

"We had eight ICU (intensive care unit) beds with ventilators, this was high-tech medicine. This was not the little bush hospital. 

You could not miss it," Liu said.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

                         HE'D BE PUT BEHIND ERROR BARS

The man who famously told the President of the Royal Society:
 " It's not my job to sit down and read peer reviewed papers... I have no science background." 

Monday, September 28, 2015

It May Not Be Intelligent  Life,  But It Sure Makes Dandy Fireworks

Has photochemical perchlorate from Silver Lake reservoir percolated into the water coolers and brain juice of The Los Angeles Times
Fact-checkers there should consult the warning labels on the ferociously reactive ( think rocket motors and match heads) salts in the Red Planet's briny ooze :

Salty water still flows on Mars -- what does it mean for life?

Some of NASA’s top scientists... from Georgia Tech, NASA Ames Research Center and elsewhere explain that an instrument aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted telltale signs of hydrated salts in several locations on the surface of the Red Planet.
Using data collected by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Marsinstrument, the team members concluded that salts are deposited on the slopes of several craters and canyons. 
These salts —
including magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate
 – appear to have been carried there recently by flowing water...Finding liquid water flowing on Mars would make the planet much more Earth-like, and potentially increase the likelihood of Martian life

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Though the Vatican catalogs postmodern sins from drug trafficking to air pollution, the Apostolic Penitentiary plenipotentiaries have missed  the  Next Big Thing  in virtual  theology.  While deniers and  Climate Truthers  often  believe in  six impossible things  before breakfast, some Greens'  powers of  credible denial  have been strained by :

Model Pride-   A need for public acceptance of model-based policy advice as the most important and truthiest on offer. Sufferers often deny due recognition to others while building better framing & media profiles for themselves.See Stockholm fever
Model Greed- The modelers need for scientific citation , adulation, or material wealth. If unfed, the model-greedy may resort to self-citation, plagiarism and dodgy grantsmanship, or deny having lost  past bets on model outcomes.
Model Lust-   An insatiable desire to believe in one’s own hypotheses, and that models should overrule history, natural and human, and dictate the thoughts and desires of generations to come. Model Lust feeds on viewing or producing climate porn.

Model Envy-  The need to command larger research budgets  and covet more  supercomputer  time  than rival  models  or  theories,  if  need  be  by  having competitors  defunded  or  charged  with  crimes.

Model Sloth - Inertia  in  the  face  of the material contradiction of models by natural history, lack of due diligence in pursuing references that contradict desired results, reluctance to debate & the inability to feel relief when dire scenarios fail to materialize.

Model  Gluttony  -    Overindulgence  in  extreme  parameter values in the name of the Precautionary Principle. Metamodeling is Model Gluttony's most fearsome avatar.

Model Wrath - According to   Model Dante : ' love of  justice  perverted   to revenge and spite.' People with  Model Wrath issues often resort to the law or social engineering  when  they  feel  democracy  or science   has  failed  them, and to feed the needs of Model Wrath may even turn to the political caricature of their enemies, or violent public demonstrations.

Seven Deady Sins Emoji copyright MMXV Russell Seitz

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Grist reports :
"Rising Tide Seattle ... is participating in an affinity group of climate activists who have put immigration on their agenda"

Climate activists help stop deportations at Tacoma detention center

In a related development, unemployed biostatisticians at the nearest Starbucks  are reportedly planning to rally against the threat rocking chairs pose to the smaller undiscovered ant species that have evolved since Tacoma's last Tsunami.  

Monday, September 21, 2015



Friday, September 18, 2015

Brain Harvest Readies Fully-formed Presidential Fetuses For Debate

Last week Planned Parenthood publicists  televised the  results of its brain extraction campaign in two hour-long commericials on CNN and Fox.

Should Philosophers  Shoot  More  Lions , Or  Fewer Dentists?


Red in tooth and claw, but completely green on the inside, vegan NYU philosophes William and Amanda MacAskill have driven mild-mannered humanist P. Z. Myers of  Pharyngula  to remark:
I’m usually sympathetic to the importance of philosophy, but when they threaten my biological world, there is only one rational response, and it’s inspired by the MacAskill’s essay.
We need to kill all the philosophers.
Or, at least, humanely pen them up with their own kind, throwing them occasional lumps of tofu and bales of sprouts, behind soundproof glass walls, so we can occasionally bring our children to the exhibit to watch. 
“See, kids, this is what will happen to you if you don’t do your biology homework.”
The anti-Spencerian couple triggered Myer's inner dentist by opining:
As long-term vegetarians who abstain from meat for ethical reasons, we are both supporters of animal activists who seek to improve the lives of animals. So you might expect us to agree with activists like Ingrid Newkirk that the killing of Cecil is a terrible thing. But we don’t. In fact, we think it may be the case that animal rights activists should support the killing of predatory animals like Cecil. ...
most animal activists agree that we should try to protect animals from unnecessary suffering and death, and that it is wrong for humans to cause such unnecessary suffering.
 ... But we’re not the only ones who hunt and kill. It is true (and terrible) that an estimated 20 billion chickens were born into captivity in 2013 alone, many of whom live in terrible conditions in factory farms. But there are estimated 60 billion land birds and over 100 billion land mammals living in the wild. Who is working to alleviate their suffering? 
As the philosopher Jeff McMahan writes: “Wherever there is animal life, predators are stalking, chasing, capturing, killing, and devouring their prey. Agonized suffering and violent death are ubiquitous and continuous.”
Will lion tacos become the American Philosophical Society's signature dish?  Will the Modern Language Association embrace the Second Amendment in self-defense? 

As physicists don't shoot other  physicists, and I have traded my trusty republican elephant gun ( Colt-Sauer 458 magnum ) in for a well-balanced Fox of Philidelphia 12-bore to deal with ducks and deer, I no longer have a dog in this fight.  But stay tuned for recipes. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

                              NOT EXACTLY A STEREO PAIR

Nature Climate Change reports this year's California snowpack the smallest in 500 years. The satellite images tell the story- in 1986  I enjoyed a  4th of July  snowball fight on the road to Mono Lake.

Sunday, September 13, 2015



Thursday, September 10, 2015


Abandoning Teddy Roosevelt's running mate Bill McKinley to his fate as a Former  First  Mountain, former basketball star and  short-term Governor of  Alaska Sarah Palin has volunteered to serve as Donald Trump's Secretary of Energy. But not for long--in Governor Palin's view, the conservation of energy doesn't apply to Departments of Government:
 Department of Entropy  hopeful  Sarah Palin  waits word with other Cabinet Apprentices
“If  I  were  head  of  [ the Department of Energy ],  I’d  get rid of it, and I’d let the states start having more control over the lands that are within their boundaries and the people who are affected by the developments within their states.

If I were in charge of that, it would be a short-term job, but it would be really great to have someone who knows energy and is pro-responsible development to be in charge.”

In a related development, Rick Perry  ended his presidential bid by remarking:
"the answer to our current divider in chief is not to elect a Republican divider in chief."

leading to widespread speculation that the ex-Texas Governor  will  seek office as the new administration's  Impaler General. 

Friday, September 4, 2015


The dastardly cabal of  White House climate denaliists who last week dishonored the memory of Teddy Roosevelt's illustrious predecessor are now targeting the New Hampshire primary. 
West Wing Whigs threaten to rename every peak in the Granite State's  Presidential Range Dead White Male Mountains after a former First Lady, or transgendered Colonial governor, unless Rachel Carlson and Maya Angelou replace Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton on US five and ten dollar bills. 

The  latest  salient in  the  War on Republican Scientists threatens the nation's currency along with its topography. Apart from the high cost of replacing 500 dollar bills, the devaluation of Mt. McKinley could destabilize international currency markets. Economists note that the Russian  rouble  tanked  alarmingly  after President Wilson signed the Mount McKinley National Park Act of February 26, 1917.

Waterfront property insurance may also rise catastrophically in the wake of the latest presidential map malfunction.  Sea levels in North America shot up ten feet relative to the continent's highest point last week, as revisionists politically corrected the mountain's elevation along with its name. 

Had these low whigs the least respect for the decent opinion of mankind or the better sort of feminism, they would have rechristened  the peak:

Thursday, September 3, 2015


As the Climate Wars enter their second century, John Lanchester's LRB review of  two real books about  aviation & transportation pioneers,  

The  Wright  Brothers  and

  Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Is Shaping Our Future

oddly recalls some recent vanity press efforts to interrupt  scientific careers:

'There are a number of suggestive parallels between Musk and the Wrights...One very odd thing is a parallel to do with bullies: Musk was set on and beaten half to death by a gang of thugs at his school ...
Wilbur Wright was attacked so badly at the age of 18 – beaten with a hockey stick – that he took years to recover from his injuries
  His  assailant ,  Oliver Crook Haugh , went on to become a notorious serial killer."  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

                     POWERS  OF  TWO

The comments at this blogs idiotarian namesake are a constant reminder of late great AI icon John McCarthy who observed:
"Those who refuse to do arithmetic are doomed to talk nonsense." 
Sadly, this applies equally to zealots pro and con in most matters environmental- as surely as half the electorate have two digit IQ's, the majority of  Democrats and Republicans are mystified by numbers larger than their digit count.  

Aspirant PBS producers may script films entitled 'Powers of Ten", but know from bitter experience that the question of American numeracy is better addressed by "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?"   Public television should instead focus the unreasonable power of Sesame Street mathematics  on the looming radioactive apocalypse,  using powers of the largest number generally seen in political advertising: 2.

While the very phrase " order of magnitude" puts ubergeeks to sleep, talking powers of two may,  half the time,  leave a quarter of the audience awake for eight seconds. Mention  half-lives, and that fraction falls by a factor of  four times four or more, raising the sixty-four dollar question of why environmental activists are not terrified  of all thecarbon 14 atoms in sustainable fuels ?

If , as is a known fact,  one atom of plutonium can kill you and radium is even worse, imagine how unimaginably lethal a radioisotope with a half life of just 5,000 years must be ! 

Thank god that, unlike nuclear bomb and reactor radwaste,  nature has given fossil fuels millions and billions of years to cool off ! Thanks to the passage of time, coal, oil, and gas have seen their once lethal carbon 14 decay away,  the numbers of life threatening 14C nuclei cut in two like clockwork every 5,730 years, so that after a mere 114 millennia, scarce one atom in  a million remains.

But wait a minute: as surely as climate change is caused by cosmic rays , the pesky things are constantly creating Carbon -14 atoms in the atmosphere, so that land sea and air , the Earth today contains some 50 tons of the stuff. Taking calculator in hand ( who the hell knows how to divide by 14 ?) and Googling Avagadro's Number, one soon discerns that billions of trillions of trillions of the death-dealing atoms are runing amok in the environment.

While all Fox viewers realize CO2 is plant food , neither plants nor the peple who eat them seem aware of the danger carbon 14 poses, it is clear that a lot of vegetarians are going to die, but what about the rest of us? 

Who will save carnivores from microagression by diminutive but irate carbon 14 atoms when  in the name of sustainability, carbohydrates get turned into gasohol, spewing 14 C into the very air  breathed by chickens, cows, ducks, Miss Piggy and Kermit himself- the whole Green food chain is detectably awash in radioactivity.

But wait a minute- if carbon 14 atoms are  dying like flies, surely  the day must come when the last nucleus standing croaks? Back to the calculator: if only one in a million makes it to the ripe old age of 114,000 years , and one in two million to 228,000, how long will it take to get to the end of the line? 

As twenty powers of two equal six powers of ten,  a scant hundred powers of two should put paid to the problem-  just sit back and wait for half a million years and the problem will take care of itself: not one in 1,267,650,600,228, 229,401,496,703,205,376  carbon 14 atoms will remain !

All antinuclear activists need do to survive the radioactive biofuel apocalypse is retreat to their population bomb shelters , and instruct their posterity to spend the next twenty thousand generations replenishing their vital bodily fluids with vegetables raised in greenhouses fed CO2 from pure fossil  fuels.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Heartland Watermelons Flee Vegan Werewolf Apocalypse

The Heartland Institute faces a mass resignation of its stalwarts in sultry Battle Ground, Indiana, where denial of climate change induced animal  behavior  has  ceased  in the  wake of  bizarre changes in the eating habits of the area's newly re-introduced Gray Wolf population.

Deprived of their customary diet of climate scientists, passenger pigeons and Underground Railroad refugees driven across Ohio River ice floes by whip-wielding slave traffickers,  the ferocious former carnivores have become militant vegans, and taken to savaging  anything  green on the outside, and red on the inside.

Security forces at The Guardian and The Nation Institute have been alerted to this alarming development, and The Southern Poverty Law Center is mounting an investigative fund drive. 

Sporty Daily Telegraph readers have reportedly petitioned the Quorn to make James Delingpole Master of Wolfhounds, and dispatch him with a twenty couple pack to deal with the Battle Ground horror en route to his next Heartland speech in Las Vegas.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Hyperbolic as the President's claim to see and feel the half degree of  warming the globe has experienced in his lifetime may be,  he may indeed be able to taste it. 

A generation ago, the problem of alcohol in wine was largely one of  grapes insufficiently ripe, and alcohol levels too low. Traditional regulations tied designations of wine quality to alcohol levels - to be a “reserve”, a Rioja had to have a higher level of alcohol than a mere crianza, and to be reckoned Superiore, a Valpolicella needed more alcohol than a local vino di tavola. 

Today , as  climate change driven degree-day and sunshine creep  pack more sugar into grapes the world over, vintners face the antithesis of their old complaint. Average alcohol in Napa Valley Cabernet used to be in the 12% range. Today it is well over 14%, creating a disconcerting 'tropical' style- the Fruit Bomb.
At the time of the first great  German vintage I enjoyed, climate rarely allowed grapes there to yield 11 % alcohol, and delicate Moselles ran as low as 7.5 %. Thanks to warmer average conditions, most of the Riesling consumed in Germany today runs closer to 13%.  Meanwhile back in coastal California, Pinot Noir is beginning to present too much alcohol to technically qualify as table wine. Some I've just cellared makes ideal summer drinking because at 14.5%  it takes a hefty ice cube to bring a glass down to normal Burgundian strength !

The International Wine Review  recently examined :
the strategies and techniques used by winemakers in the vineyard and the winery to reduce excessive alcohol levels in wine. In excess, alcohol destroys the more delicate aromas and flavors in wine and undermines elegance and balance.
Today’s attempts to reduce alcohol in wine, and the controversy around some of the techniques, should be seen in context. Winemakers have long manipulated alcohol levels to achieve a particular, consistent style. Chaptalization—adding sugar to wine to increase alcohol levels—has been employed in Europe for centuries, resulting at times in violent protests1. Winemakers may also add alcohol to yield a strong, age-worthy wine. Port producers, for example, fortify red wine with brandy to raise alcohol, retain residual sugar, and yield a robust, long-lived wine. Conversely, Champagne producers purposely pick grapes with lower sugar (and potential alcohol) so that when the wine produced from them is put through secondary fermentation in the bottle, the increase in alcohol will not be so high as to make an inelegant, unbalanced sparkling wine. 

Reducing Alcohol Levels

Today’s winemaking toolkit allows a producer to control alcohol by using traditional means such as picking the grapes earlier with lower sugar levels or blending less strong wines with richer ones, or by employing highly technical and sophisticated means such as reverse osmosis. 

In the Vineyard 

Spinning Cone ColumnSpinning Cone Column
To control excessive alcohol potential in warmer areas and with global warming issues, alcohol management begins in the vineyard. Leaving a larger crop on the vine can slow down ripening, thus producing lower sugar in the grapes. Or, as has been shown at some properties in Napa [Dominus comes to mind], by decreasing the height of the canopy (and therefore fewer leaves), potential alcohol level was reduced by up to .75% in the wine. Viticultural techniques to slow vines down such as less vigorous rootstocks, later ripening clones, or a move to cooler areas, are key propositions for managing alcohol in today’s climate.

In the Winery 

Winemakers also have options for reducing alcohol in the winery. The simplest, if illegal in some places (not in California), is to dilute the must with water (Jesus juice). This works of course, but it also dilutes fruit extract and changes the acid balance in the wine. Blending less alcoholic wine into one more so is also a time-honored tradition; no need for fancy equipment! Blending is an extremely important tool, particularly for wineries that bottle large volume cuvĂ©es, where the penalty for high alcohol is very large. One example serves to demonstrate. Columbia Crest may bottle 200,000 cases of Grand Reserve Cabernet in a given vintage. If the wine’s blend remains below 14%, the approximate federal tax is about $578,000; if it is over 14% that figure rises to $780,000 plus!
Yet today’s wine market still has a “jones” for rich, fleshy, ripe and fruity wines. Getting those flavors in warmer areas like Napa Valley generally requires later harvesting, waiting for the phenolic maturation to catch up to more rapid sugar accumulation and high alcohols. In cooler places or vintages producers, as in Bordeaux for example, have a different problem; their wines need concentration due to lack of sufficient sugar/alcohol in the wine to balance. What’s a winemaker to do? Enter the machine--spinning cones, reverse osmosis, cross-flow filtration, and who knows what’s next! 
Spinning Cones. The Spinning Cone Column was developed in Australia by ConeTech. It consists of a vertical stainless steel cylinder that uses centrifugal force and vacuum to remove alcohol. Wine is fed into the top of the column and works its way down through a series of inverted cones, converting volatiles into a vapor stream, which is then condensed in a concentrated liquid form. This is followed by a second, higher temperature pass of the liquid through the cones to extract up to 1-2% alcohol. 
Reverse Osmosis. Reverse osmosis machines have been used in Bordeaux for at least four decades – larger chateaux like Leoville Las Cases used them for years to concentrate dilute musts by removing a percentage of water, concentrating the remaining juice. [However, with today’s warmer temperatures, the Chateau no longer needs to employ it.] Removing alcohol in a percentage of blend (often no more than 10% of the total amount of juice) and blending back in the low or no alcohol permeate to the whole, may be all that is necessary to make a balanced wine that is more expressive and harmonious.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


The principle that ' Physicists do not shoot other physicists ' evidently does  not  extend  to  some  Theologically Correct  archaeologists.

Last week ISIS beheaded  Khaled Asaad, Palmyra’s  retired chief of antiquities  for “working with idols” leaving his mangled body dangling from a Roman colonade for terrified residents to view.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency reports the 82-year-old archeologist was killed after refusing to divulge information on “specific archeological treasures” , and cites Syrian antiquities minister, Maamoun Abdulkarim as saying  that the militants crucified Asaad’s body “on colonnades in central Palmyra.”

A  Twitter photograph shows a body hanging on a street lamppost, with a sign  describing his killing as punishment for revering pagan artifacts, and the New York Times reported yesterday that
His blood-soaked body was then suspended with red twine by its wrists from a traffic light, his head resting on the ground between his feet, his glasses still on,  
The author of dozens of scholarly articles on Palmyra, Asaad teamed with archaeologists from  Harvard's Peabody Museum and elsewhere to excavate the six millennium old city’s tombs and temples.

Viewing virtually all pre-Islamic artifacts and symbols as idolatrous, the wannabe Wahabi caliphate's sweeping anti-idolatry campaign has laid waste to architecture and artifacts from Babylonian Mesopotamia to the Gandharic Buddhist monuments of Pakistan and Afghanistan. A glance in Bond Street gallery windows reveals that ISIS decalred distaste for human antiquity has not deterred it from financing its operations by the sale of museum-quality art.

A video released in February purports to show the group’s militants sledgehammering statues in the museum of Mosul, In March, bulldozers  flying its green and black banners leveled the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, and in June, two shrines dating to the first millennium BC were blown to smithereens in Palmyra.

The aspirant  caliphate has none the less spared the age-old  entrepot's answer to Rome's Colosseum. In July ISIS propagandists gathered in the amphitheatre to produce a video of child  soldiers of the regime systematically executing 25 Syrian soldiers in high gladiatorial style.

At this rate , I may never get to Baalbek- last time I got as far as Cyprus before the Alawi, Israelis, Hamas and Druze started shelling each other in earnest.