Fun stuff

xkcd’s What if page is really fun, but it does waste a lot of time. Here are two of the places it directed me to:

But astronomers have just published a paper about a star that is even more elderly: HD 140283, which appears to be 14.3 billion years old.

Now, before you start quoting that number for the next edition of the Guinness Book of Cosmic Records, you might want to note that the Universe itself is only 13.82 billion years old.

Now the article notes that the margin of error for the star’s age is .8 billion years which makes this possible, but I think this points to time machines for stars.

  • In this article of a pilot whose plane disintegrated while going over mach 3 at 78,000 feet:

Everything seemed to unfold in slow motion. I learned later the time from event onset to catastrophic departure from controlled flight was only 2-3 sec. Still trying to communicate with Jim, I blacked out, succumbing to extremely high g-forces. The SR-71 then literally disintegrated around us. From that point, I was just along for the ride.

My next recollection was a hazy thought that I was having a bad dream. Maybe I’ll wake up and get out of this mess, I mused. Gradually regaining consciousness, I realized this was no dream; it had really happened. That also was disturbing, because I could not have survived what had just happened. Therefore, I must be dead. Since I didn’t feel bad–just a detached sense of euphoria–I decided being dead wasn’t so bad after all. AS FULL AWARENESS took hold, I realized I was not dead, but had somehow separated from the airplane. I had no idea how this could have happened; I hadn’t initiated an ejection. The sound of rushing air and what sounded like straps flapping in the wind confirmed I was falling, but I couldn’t see anything. My pressure suit’s face plate had frozen over and I was staring at a layer of ice.

The pressure suit was inflated, so I knew an emergency oxygen cylinder in the seat kit attached to my parachute harness was functioning. It not only supplied breathing oxygen, but also pressurized the suit, preventing my blood from boiling at extremely high altitudes. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but the suit’s pressurization had also provided physical protection from intense buffeting and g-forces. That inflated suit had become my own escape capsule.

Why do Republicans worry about in person voter fraud?

Given that there’s little evidence of in person voter fraud, it’s always been a little curious how much time Republicans spend talking about it (ok, it’s really pretty obvious why they do). But I’m starting to get it (via here):

Republican Kathy Myalls is urging voters to elect her to a seat in the Illinois State Legislature.

But will she vote for herself?

It’s a fair question, since records show Myalls has voted in both Illinois and Wisconsin in recent years.

In one case, she cast a vote in a primary election in Illinois. Then just three months later, records show she voted in Wisconsin to cast a ballot in the state’s recall election. The effort was aimed largely at recalling Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — someone with whom Myalls is pictured on her Facebook page. Myalls then voted in Wisconsin’s presidential general election in 2012 before returning to Illinois to vote the following spring.

It seems that Republican politicians seem to have a habit of voter fraud (ok, that last one is about Ann Coulter). Perhaps they’re worried about voter fraud because they assume others are like them? I’m just asking.

Another war

So, we have now attacked ISIS in Syria, as well as another group, and we also want to get rid of President Assad. Even better, this is an open-ended operation:

Army Lt. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr., director of operations for the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, said the objectives set for the U.S.-led war in Iraq and now Syria could take years to complete. The attacks in Syria marked the start of a new phase, coming six weeks after the U.S. military began a similar campaign of airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in neighboring Iraq.

But this time it will work–I expect that in 6 months we will have turned the corner.

Assembly Square and Casinos

This takes a bit of chutzpah:

Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, an outspoken opponent of casinos and of the expanded gambling law, said he was disappointed though not surprised by the state action.

“The process failed and the Gaming Commission voted despite not having the answers to all the serious, outstanding questions [about the Wynn plan],” he said. “This is the consequence of a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation that allows one community — Everett — to make a decision that impacts an entire region.”

Hayes Morrison, Somerville’s director of transportation and infrastructure, said the city is facing major traffic changes because of the project.

Noting that about two-thirds of the predicted 25,000 daily vehicle trips to and from the casino would go through the already overburdened Sullivan Square in Charlestown — and that three of the roads from the square lead directly into Somerville — she said the project would add to congestion and send cars onto local streets.

The state has invested significant sums in the “redevelopment potential of Somerville and the traffic in Sullivan Square has the potential of devaluing that investment,” she said, noting in particular the adverse effects the project could have on the Assembly Row development, across the river from the casino via the Wellington Bridge.

The increased traffic also could jeopardize the success of the Union Square redevelopment, said Morrison, who called Wynn’s plans for addressing the traffic issues at Sullivan Square “extremely vague.”

A lot of government money has gone into Somerville to help build Assembly Square and the Green Line extension. These developments not only don’t pay money to neighboring communities they are taking money from them. I wonder how much input Somerville got from the surrounding communities when they were planning Assemble Square? And I just love how they worry about the increased traffic into Sullivan Square from the casino, but don’t note that Assembly Row will also add lots of traffic to the same Square–at least the casino is going to put in a bunch of money to try to mitigate the extra traffic.

London Calling

Scotland has voted to stay in the United Kingdom which is as a good a reason as any to play some Clash:

Sure, it’s not entirely appropriate but it’s the Clash.

Which side are they on?

Quick quiz, are the following statements from people who are working with or against the Obama administration? The answer is under the fold.

David Glazer, stood with Arch Coal. Glazer told Jackson that the government should not “monetize” the impact of global warming.

What doesn’t make sense, Slone said, is imposing “imprudent and unwise” regulations to cut carbon emissions. He said “technology is the answer to addressing climate concerns,” referring to efforts to capture carbon emissions and store them underground, which is being tried at a number of sites around the world.

“There is still a lot of debate on global warming,” Ludlow said. “The earth has been warming for 10,000 years, the glaciers have been receding. All the models I’ve seen have over-predicted the impact of global warming. I believe the effect of carbon dioxide is overstated.” Referring to his company’s local employment, as well as the ability to provide electricity to people around the world, Ludlow said, “There’s a lot of people who refer to carbon as a social benefit, not a social cost.”


Truth, what a quaint concept

It seems that it’s unconstitutional to outlaw lying:

A federal judge on Friday struck down Ohio’s law barring people from knowingly or recklessly making false statements about candidates in a case the US Supreme Court said needed to be heard.

US District Judge Timothy Black ruled Ohio’s law unconstitutional and prohibited the Ohio Elections Commission from enforcing it.

I sympathize a bit with the case this is based on:

The case began after then-US Representative Steve Driehaus filed a complaint when the group planned to post billboards claiming the Democrat’s support for President Obama’s health care overhaul equated with support for abortion, even though he opposed abortion.

I’m not sure if I want a jury to decide if political statements are true unless it’s pretty obvious. But the judge’s reasoning is highly stupid:

The judge said the answer to false statements in politics is ‘‘not to force silence, but to encourage truthful speech in response, and to let the voters, not the government, decide what the political truth is.’’

There are some cases where a party obviously lies and the judge is saying that there should be no consequences except to say that they’re lying–obviously if the liar has a lot more money than it’s more likely to be accepted than the truth.

And wouldn’t you just know that the purported liars are anti-abortion activists–they love, for example, saying that having an abortion causes depression even though the evidence shows it does not.

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