Wednesday, August 31, 2011

TRUE SHIT-Neutrinos

Neutrinos are sub-atomic particles that are able to pass through solid matter. Right now, as you read this, billions and billions of neutrinos which emanated from the Sun are passing through your body, and this is true even if you are reading this at night because these neutrinos actually pass through the solid earth before they pass through you.

Neutrinos are similar to electrons except neutrinos carry no charge. Consequently, they are unaffected by the electromagnetic forces that affect electrons. Being subatomic, they pass through the largely empty space of an atom. Neutrinos are created as a byproduct of nuclear reactions and nuclear decay, so the sun being a gigantic fusion reactor streams trillions of these particles every second through the planet and through you.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Best movie about freakin monkeys ever!!!

Better than the original 1968 Planet of the Apes.

Better than that crap remake from around ten years ago.

Even better than Troy McClure's play, Stop the Planet of the
Apes, I want to get off.

Ten out of Ten, it had so many Wow moments, if you haven't seen it,
grab some bananas and go now!!

Oil Shocks and Good Times for the Global Economy

This post revisits the topic of oil prices and economic growth which was explored here earlier this year.  A new paper by Tobias Rasmussen and Agustin Roitmanfrom the IMF (here in PDF) titled "Oil Shocks in a Global Perspective: Are they Really that Bad?" which explores the largely uncharted territory of the effects of oil price increases on economic growth at the global level.  The figuer at the top shows the countries with GDPs that increase following and oil shock (those bars above the horizontal axis) and those the see a decrease (those at the left side, the US and Japan are highlighted in yellow).

Here are the paper's conclusions:
Conventional wisdom has it that oil shocks are bad for oil-importing countries. This is grounded in the experience of slumps in many advanced economies during the 1970s. It is also consistent with the large body of research on the impact of higher oil prices on the U.S. economy, although the magnitude and channels of the effect are still being debated. In this paper, we offer a global perspective on the macroeconomic impact of oil prices. In doing so, we are filling a void of research on the effects of oil prices on developing economies.

Our findings indicate that oil prices tend to be surprisingly closely associated with good times for the global economy. Indeed, we find that the United States has been somewhat of an outlier in the way that it has been negatively affected by oil price increases. Across the world, oil price shock episodes have generally not been associated with a contemporaneous decline in output but, rather, with increases in both imports and exports. There is evidence of lagged negative effects on output, particularly for OECD economies, but the magnitude has typically been small.

Controlling for global economic conditions, and thus abstracting from our finding that oil price
increases generally appear to be demand-driven, makes the impact of higher oil prices stand out more clearly. For a given level of world GDP, we do find that oil prices have a negative effect on oil-importing countries and also that cross-country differences in the magnitude of the impact depend to a large extent on the relative magnitude of oil imports. The effect is still not particularly large, however, with our estimates suggesting that a 25 percent increase in oil prices will cause a loss of real GDP in oil-importing countries of less than half of one percent, spread over 2–3 years. One likely explanation for this relatively modest impact is that part of the greater revenue accruing to oil exporters will be recycled in the form of imports or other international flows, thus contributing to keep up demand in oil-importing economies. We provide a model illustrating this effect and find supporting empirical evidence.

The finding that the negative impact of higher oil prices has generally been quite small does not mean that the effect can be ignored. Some countries have clearly been negatively affected by high oil prices. Moreover, our results do not rule out more adverse effects from a future shock that is driven largely by lower oil supply than the more demand-driven increases in oil prices that have been the norm in the last two decades. In terms of policy lessons, our findings suggest that efforts to reduce dependence on oil could help reduce the exposure to oil price shocks and hence costs associated with macroeconomic volatility.13 At the same time, given a certain level of oil imports, developing economic linkages to oil exporters could also work as a natural shock absorber.
If oil shocks are not so bad in aggregate, and associated with "good times for the global economy" then maybe the price of oil should be higher?

H/T VoxEu

Kettlebell Sport Instructor Course with Igor Morozov at Uddevalla Kettlebells

At last it's settled! The famous kettlebell sport lifter Igor Morozov will hold a three day course at Uddevalla Kettlebell Club the 18th to 20th of November. The course fee will be of 3.500 sek for Swedish residents (350€ for international participants). The club is downtown, close to both food places and hotels and hostels. Uddevalla is easily reached by train, or bus, from Gothenburg.

Here is a link for registering at the event: LINK
If you follow the link you also find the schedule of the event:
Friday, the 18 of November
09.00-13.00 - Part 1
1. Organization of training for the fitness room and for the professionals: building, equipment, clothing.
2. Handle pretreatment for performing a competitive kettlebells exercise.
3. Composition of the training: warm up, main part and finish.
4. Methods of training.
5. Planning of training.
6. The exercises to developmental general and special endurance, strength, flexibility, coordination, speed.
13.00-14.00 – lunch
14.00-18.00 – Part 2
1. The technique of the exercise Jerk.
1.1. The elements.
1.2. The ways for breathing.
1.3. Mistakes and how to avoid them.
1.4. The choice of techniques according to anatomy and physiology of a sportsmen, his qualification, KB weight, KB lifting tempo – private traning.

Saturday, the 19 of November

09.00-14.00 - Part 1
1. Warm-up.
2. Psychological adjustment before the competition.
3. Competition for sports categories: Jerk and Snatch, Long Cycle.
4. Analysis the mistakes of each students.
14.00-15.00 – lunch
15.00-19.00 – Part 2
1. The technique of the exercise Snatch.
1.1. The elements.
1.2. The ways for breathing.
1.3. Mistakes and how to avoid them.
1.4. The choice of techniques according to anatomy and physiology of a sportsmen, his qualification, KB weight, KB lifting tempo – private training.

Sunday, the 20 of November09.00-13.00 - Part 1
1. The technique of the exercise Long cycle.
1.1. The elements.
1.2. The ways for breathing.
1.3. Mistakes and how to avoid them.
1.4. The choice of techniques according to anatomy and physiology of a sportsmen, his qualification, KB weight, KB lifting tempo - private training. .

2. The honorary award certificates of participation in the seminar from Russian girevoy sport federation.
13.00-14.00 – lunch
14.00-18.00 – Part 2
1. Juggling.
2. The honorary award certificates of sport rankings.
Morozov gave this course in Finland this summer and it was very appreciated. So, then we decided to see if it was possible to get Morozov give the same course in Sweden.

Morozov has an impressive CV which includes 10-time world champion, 7-time European champion and 3-time Russian champion. If you want to learn more about Morozov, he has a web-page (LINK). Morozov also makes part of the Russian Girevoy Sport Federation - RGSF - and teaches for its International Section (LINK).

Comment of the Day: The Wrong Side of History, Science and Policy

This delightful and revealing comment, apparently offered as a defense of Governor Pete Shumlin's remarks that I discussed yesterday, provides a nice capsule summary of my experiences in the climate debate.
Verbose and prolific (and cleverly snarky), most of the views expressed by this blog author are on the wrong side of history, climate science, and climate policy. I understood from multiple posts not so long ago that Dr. Pielke was going to transition to discourse on the subject of technology policy on this blog rather than climate policy. Like a moth to a flame, the content authored here remains mostly climate-based, a testament to the seduction of the defense of past positions. While the influence of environmental factors does not alone explain the causality of any individual event, most scientists agree that smoking causes cancer. You just can't pin it down to the individual cigarette. Similarly, this blog's on-going attempt to disprove linkages between GHG accumulation in the atmosphere and weather events misses the forest for the trees. The industries that require free dumping grounds in the earth's atmosphere for their profit margins must be grateful for Dr. Pielke's support, much as the tobacco companies tobacco companies loved their captured academic champions in the 1980's.
Nowadays, climate is not as much a scientific or policy issue, as it is a cultural phenomenon (read your Mike Hulme). For years I have advised my students that there is little point in doing a policy analysis of the abortion issue, as the topic was entirely political.  Perhaps one day I'll be saying the same about climate.

From Hesitant to Tremendous

Steve Frommeyer
Eminence High School
I was one of those coaches who was very hesitant about doing the jersey night program. We had so many players without dads or without strong male role-models in their lives, that I wondered if it wouldn’t do more harm than good. With Lou Judd’s constant encouragement, we did our first program last season. It was a huge success. This year’s program was even bigger and better. We had all but two players in attendance and everyone was so positive and supportive.
We started the evening by viewing the clip of Michigan State’s QB Kirk Cousins at the Big Ten Media Day program. We then had the jersey presentations. The dads and/or male role models present were so affirming and supportive. As before, a few of the presentations got emotional but in a very appropriate way.
After the presentations, we had former players come and speak about what it meant to wear the “warrior” jersey. It was a tremendous kickoff to the season! Our kids went out the next night and played extremely well, winning 30-6!
However, the biggest success was bringing the players together with very positive male role-models to help them understand what being a “man” is really all about!

HEROES--Rachael Ray

People who know me will tell you that I have a major crush on Rachael Ray. That chick is awesome. She is an ideal woman, and if I ever had to marry, Rachael Ray (or some chick like her) would be the one. Let me tell you why Rachael is so fucking awesome.

Rachael embodies an autotelic personality. This is rare for many people but especially women. Rachael is happy, and I don't mean that ooey gooey smiley happiness. She is happy in that Aristotelian sense. If you doubt this, consider that Rachael does a daytime talk show, three shows for Food Network, a magazine where she writes the bulk of the material, and writes cookbooks. This is what I know just from the top of my head. I hear she does a bunch of other stuff as well behind the scenes. The woman is superbusy. How does she find the energy?

The woman's energy comes from that autotelic thing I mentioned. The woman lives in a constant state of flow. Her enthusiasm is infectious, but she is also very down-to-earth. She shows a great deal of humility pointing out her lack of training as a serious chef and her failures in the kitchen. None of this deters her. Plus, it helps that she is not Oprah.

Rachael is one of those women who I admire not just as a pretty woman with a pleasant personality but also as someone who lives robustly. She has a zeal for life that few others have. If you ever want to see happiness in a living person, you need look no further than Rachael Ray.

People know me for my love of food, but I have so much more I want to share. Our show's going to be all about taking a bigger bite out of life. I want people to see themselves in this show because life is full of messes and successes, and getting there is half the fun.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kevin Kolb Connects with Fitzy

Even though the Arizona Cardinals lost their
preseason match to the Chargers, every Cards
fan must be celebrating, because after all the talk
of a connection between Kolb and Fitzgerald, they
finally turned the talk into reality.

Three passes for 108 yards between the two, has
the Cardinals chances of being a playoff team, soaring.

What also helps is that Kolb is a running quaterback who
will keep defensives guessing, if he gets caught in the
pocket it doesn't matter he can scramble out of it.

Larry can cacth any ball near his direction, doesn't matter if
its behind his head, in front, to the left or right.

This season is all about the pass for the cards, and hopefully
for the fans it will be about much more.

Here's hoping!

Not Anti-Science, Just Utterly Uninformed

Yesterday, Governor Pete Shumlin of Vermont made these remarks:
I find it extraordinary that so many political leaders won’t actually talk about the relationship between climate change, fossil fuels, our continuing irrational exuberance about burning fossil fuels, in light of these storm patterns that we’ve been experiencing. Listen, since I’ve been sworn in as governor just seven months ago, I have dealt with—this is the second major disaster as a result of storms. We had storms this spring that flooded our downtowns and put us through many of the same exercises that we’re going through right now. We didn’t used to get weather patterns like this in Vermont. We didn’t get tropical storms. We didn’t get flash flooding. It wasn’t—you know, our storm patterns weren’t like Costa Rica; they were like Vermont.
A quick look at  the following paper from 2002 -- "Climate Variability and Socioeconomic Consequences of Vermont's Natural Hazards: A Historical Perspective" (here in PDF) by Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux (Vermont's state climatologist), reveals this information:
One of the most pervasive hazards that impinges upon and marks the Vermont landscape is flooding. Flooding can be categorized as one of two types: flash flooding, which has a rapid onset of six hours or less from the time of the initiating event; and flooding that has a more gradual onset. Rarely does a year elapse without a flooding event of a significant magnitude being reported in at least one of Vermont’s fourteen counties or perhaps statewide, making this the number-one hazard across the state. Between 1955 and 1999, floods accounted for $16.97 million in damage annually.
And also:
[T]ropical remnants have produced widespread, and at times, catastrophic flooding. For example, the Great Flood of 1927 resulted from record rainfall totals produced by tropical storm remnants on November 3, following October precipitation totals that were already 50 percent above normal. As this decaying storm tracked directly along the spine of the Green Mountains, streams rose so rapidly that there was little time for warning. The Winooski River rose 40–45 feet above its normal level, causing land and settlement along the river to bear the brunt of the estimated $30 million in economic losses. The 1927 flood was greater than the 100-year flood on many rivers and remains today as the flood of record at many gauging stations. Eighty-four of the eighty-five fatalities during this New England-wide flood occurred in Vermont. In addition, thousands of dairy cows and other farm animals drowned. Rich topsoil on farmland either washed away or got buried under infertile silt, such that no crops could be produced for many years. Montpelier remained isolated for days and Waterbury for weeks. The flood disrupted communications across the state and with the outside world, producing a “black triangle.”
 And here is Table 1 from that paper:
Table 1: Tropical Remnants that Made Landfall In/Proximate to Vermont

Name Year Month, Day
[unnamed] 1927 November 3
Great New England 1938 September 21
#2 1949 August 29–30
Hurricane Baker 1952 September 1–2
Hurricane Carol 1954 August 31
Tropical Storm Brenda 1960 July 30
Hurricane Donna 1960 September 12
Tropical Storm Doria 1971 August 28
Hurricane Belle 1976 August 9–10
Hurricane David 1979 September 6–7
Hurricane Frederic 1979 September 14
Hurricane Gloria 1985 September 27
Tropical Storm Chris 1988 August 29
Hurricane Hugo 1989 September 22–23
Hurricane Bob 1991 August 19
Hurricane Opal 1995 October 5–6
Hurricane Bertha 1996 July 13
Hurricane Fran 1996 September 8–9
Is Governor Shumlin "anti-science" (whatever that might mean)?  No, just poorly informed.

[Thanks AS]

Sleepy man long cycle with 32kg Krafttraining Kettlebells

LC 2x20kg: 5
LC 2x24kg: 5
LC 2x28kg: 5

LC 2x32kg: 3,3,5,5,2 (∑ 18reps)

Oa biceps curl 16kg bar: 2x 7/7reps
Push-ups: 2x 15reps

Was quite tired today, but still wanted to train. When 32s felt too heavy, I tried with 30s, but reps were so ugly that I decided to quit :-).

To my help for today's session, I had a pair of fresh 32kgs from Daniel Hahn's Krafttraining and kettlebell (LINK) in Germany. In fact, they arrived when I had started to warm up with the 20kgs. Getting them up to the 7th floor was a good workout in itself (ok, there's an elevator for 4 floors :-).
They were less expensive, 218€ with shipping (50€ Germany-Sweden) included. 218€ is 1.988 sek. It's a lot less expensive than the competition bells that I know are available on the Swedish market.
I have only done 18reps with them so far, but my first over-all impressions are good and I like them. 
Handle is 35mm diameter.There are no casting seams on the grip. Enough space in the handle. No loose parts inside. They feel well-balanced (which is easier with 32kgs as they are more solid, though). In short, they felt like my other good bells, just heavier. Clearly, an alternative to consider also for those who live in Sweden, or such places.

Gritty to Pretty: the Lovely Donation Bike!

Refurbished Shogun 400
I am pleased to report that the refurbished vintage donation touring bike - also known as "the roadbike for women who fear roadbikes" - is ready! As often happens with these things, the project took longer than I anticipated. In the end we did not have time to put the bicycle together ourselves, and I entrusted the job to the saintly Jim at Harris Cyclery - which contributed the labor pro bono and donated the remaining parts my build was missing, thus becoming a sponsor of this project along with Velo Orange. My sincere thanks to them, as well as to all readers who contributed parts and funds to this effort. This is not yet the official give-away announcement, as I first wanted to show off some pictures and describe the bicycle in detail. I hope you like it!

Refurbished Shogun 400
So what exactly is this bicycle... It began as a vintage Shogun 400 touring bike that looked like this when I picked it up, but has been rebuilt from the frame up. When I spotted the original bike, I immediately thought it had potential. The early '80s Japanese cro-moly frame with relaxed geometry promised a comfortable, "Rivendell-esque" ride. And, despite the fairly small size (52cm), it looked like there would be no toe overlap, even with fenders. As many know, it is extremely difficult to find a roadbike in a small size, with relaxed geometry and no toe overlap - be it modern or vintage - which is what makes some of these unassuming vintage Japanese frames special. My idea was to start with such a frame and build it up with comfortable, functional components - ending up with an unintimidating "starter" roadbike that a beginner would be able to learn on without undue nervousness or discomfort.

Refurbished Shogun, Nitto Randonneuring Bars
The biggest priority was the handlebar set-up. When women tell me they cannot ride vintage roadbikes, much of the time this turns out to be because the handlebars are uncomfortable - lacking a sufficient "shoulder" area. Those who are new to drop bars often assume that they are all the same, but in fact there are dozens of models, with subtle variations in shape. I chose the Nitto Randonneur handlebars for this bike, which have long, flat "shoulders" and a slight, ergonomic flare to them that most cyclists find extremely comfortable, particularly on long rides.

Refurbished Shogun, Tektro Brake Levers
I also chose modern Tektro short-reach brake levers, which are easy to squeeze from the top, even for those with weak hands.

Refurbished Shogun, Silver Bar-End Shifters
Finally, I chose Silver bar-end shifters, which are much, much easier to use than downtube shifters and less awkward than stem shifters.

Refurbished Shogun, VO Bar Tape
The leather handlebar tape is by Velo Orange. I had never tried it before and was glad to discover that it has a softer, more matte texture to it that Brooks leather tape (which I personally find a little too slippery).

Refurbished Shogun, VO Saddle
Velo Orange Model 3 touring saddle. Saddle comfort is one of these things that is different for everyone, but I have to say that (somewhat to my surprise) I found this one more comfortable than the Brooks B17s I once owned. The leather is very different from Brooks leather, and I cannot speak for its longevity or durability. But for me, there was no "breaking in" period, and no pressure on sensitive body parts. I will soon write a review of this saddle with additional details.

Refurbished Shogun, VO Fenders
Velo Orange hammered fenders, their pattern of indentations resembling a honeycomb. Later I will also post a comparison between the VO and Honjo versions of hammered fenders.

Refurbished Shogun, VO Crankset
Velo Orange also provided the headset and their Grand Cru double crankset. It was exciting when these cranksets came out, because they are classically shaped yet affordable. Personally, I find the looks of chunky modern cranksets rather depressing, so it's wonderful that these are an option. I have not ridden with them except during my test rides of this bike, but I welcome readers who've owned them to provide feedback. The pedals included are MKS Touring pedals, which I have on most of my bikes and love.

Refurbished Shogun, Panaracer Pasela Tires
The wheels are 27" touring wheels from the early '80s - a slightly nicer and cleaner version than the ones originally on the bike. The tires are the puncture-resistant Panaracer Pasela Tourguards. The headset, bottom bracket, chain, brakes, and front derailleur have all been replaced with modern components.

Refurbished Shogun, Original Wheelset
The rear cassette and derailleur are pretty much the only components that were left original. They are in good condition, but the downside is that the bicycle is only a 12 speed - as bikes of its era are. In order to upgrade to a cassette with more cogs, we would have needed to get modern wheels, which was beyond the scope of this project.

Refurbished Shogun 400
Here is a close-up of the bicycle's colour: an unusual champagne-lilac that I personally find very attractive.

Refurbished Shogun 400
The frame has been left original - frayed decals, rust spots and all - and I want to make it very clear that at heart this is still a vintage bike that looks its age, despite the updated components.

Refurbished Shogun, Carradice
I received a Rivendell "SaddleSack" as a donation from one of my readers, but I think this bike works better with a Carradice. So I will let the recipient choose - either the SaddleSack, or one of my own Carradice bags, as shown here. I will soon post a review of the SaddleSack (pictured here).

Refurbished Shogun, Carradice
And so that's it, in a nutshell. To my eye, this bicycle looks modestly beautiful, which is what I was aiming for. It is fairly light and is easy to carry. It is not "fast" by modern roadbike standards, so please don't expect to race or join paceline rides on it. Neither is it a bike for a tour of the Alps, since the gearing is somewhat limited by current standards. It is really meant to be a low-key, introductory roadbike for those with no athletic background, for those who want to explore nature while getting a bit of exercise, and for those who don't want to wear lycra and be all "serious" about roadcycling. If you've been unable to ride roadbikes in the past, this bike may be a good alternative to the ones you've tried. It is friendly. It is stable. There is no toe overlap. Lots of room on the handlebars for moving your hands around. Brake levers are easy to reach and easy to squeeze. Frame geometry is relaxed and won't hurt your knees. Having ridden the bike myself for a bit, it handles as comfortably and easily as I hoped. I've even ridden it in a dress and sandals, and it was great - just a really easy-going, "smell the flowers" kind of bike. Bicycles with drop bars are not for everyone - but this is as unintimidating of a way to try one as I can offer. I will announce the contest rules and timeline in the coming days, and I hope this bicycle will find the right owner.

I want to express my thanks again to Velo Orange, Harris Cyclery, and the generous readers who have contributed to this project: Justine, G.E., Neighbourtease, Spindizzy, Cedar, Somervillain, and others!

Coming up on tonight's show - 30th August 2011

We’re here at 7pm on 98.7FM in Cardiff and online at with award winning sporting discussion and debate.

- Coming up on tonight’s show, we look back at the weekend’s football including Cardiff’s draw away to Portsmouth, a round up of our Premier League highlights and the latest transfer talk as the window prepares to close. Inevitably we’ll also be discusing Man Utd’s 8-2 demolition of Arsenal and ask where it leaves Arsene Wenger.

- The Cardiff Devils are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year and Simon spent much of this weekend catching up with players past and present at a series of events in the capital. We’ll hear from the likes of Jon Lawless, Brad Voth and friend of the show Sam Smith.

- Yousef will be reviewing all the action from UFC 134.

- Plus after another goalfest in the top flight we have a brand new Fantasy League Top Ten Countdown.

You can get involved with the show by sending us your thoughts about any sporting issue.
Give us a call on: 02920 235 664
Send us a Text: 07728 758 759

Certain Ignorance versus Uncertain Uncertainty

Writing in the quarterly newsletter of Risk Frontiers at Macquarie University in Sydney, Rob van den Honert has an excellent discussion (here in PDF) of the interim report of the Queensland Flood Inquiry. Some background on the topic can be found in this post from last January.

In his summary van den Honert writes of the decision of the dam operators to ignore weather forecasts of pending rainfall:
[P]redicted reservoir levels depend on expected water inflows into the dam, and that expectation would be based almost entirely upon the rainfall forecast for the catchment area. The Bureau of Meteorology supplies regular 24-hour forecasts of rainfall, and the operators also had access to the Bureau’s weather radar, even though the Bureau cautions that in some circumstances the radar can produce poor estimates, either over- or underestimating actual rainfall. Furthermore, there are far fewer rain gauges in the catchment immediately above the Wivenhoe Dam than in other areas, which means that rainfall in that area was not well recorded.

Thus [the dam operator] Seqwater claim that there were gaps in the information available on which operational decisions had to be made. This is despite Seqwater having the best rain/runoff gauge of all - the dam itself!

A 2001 Seqwater report (Feasibility of Making Pre-releases from SEQWC Reservoirs) concluded that the precipitation forecasts were not sufficiently reliable to form the basis of operational decision making for the dam. Thus this less than perfect available information was given zero weight, and not used at all to help predict reservoir levels. Effectively a “forecast” of zero rainfall was used to inform decisions about water release strategies. In other words, under the circumstances, it seems that the operators chose a scenario guaranteed to be wrong over a forecast that was likely to be uncertain.
The flood disaster arguably was exacerbated by poor decision making under flawed decision processes -- decision makers chose the certainty of ignorance over the uncertain nature of uncertainty judgments.  Indeed, as van den Honert describes the rainfall forecasts were inaccurate, but this did not mean that they would have been without value.

Ultimately, the only way that Queensland gets out of this situation will be to build sufficient water retention capacity to simultaneously meet the conflicting objectives of flood mitigation and water storage as a drought buffer. In other words, there is a technological fix here that can dramatically reduce uncertainties -- but such a strategy will cost money.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Q & A

Q: Does talking about your problems help?

A: No.

That was the short answer. Here is the long answer. Imagine you have a couple. They love each other, but they fight a lot. Will talking settle things? Nope. As someone who has been in many of these "talks," they have never been productive. I cannot recall a time when I or anyone else was able to make things better after one of these talks.

This question comes up as a result of this article that says that males tend to not want to talk about problems while females do. This produced much derision and laughter on Facebook when I shared it. People were flabbergasted that researchers wasted time, effort, and money on such stupidity. But it did spark some debate.

When it comes to people problems, talking doesn't change anything. This is because people can only change themselves. They can't change other people. Women love to talk, but this is because it reinforces their inherent tendency to be shitheads. Men placate women long enough to get them to shut up. Then, they keep on doing exactly what they want to do. Promises to change be damned. At some point, the woman wakes up to reality, and the relationship ends. For the men, the relationship ends as soon as the trouble starts. This is because they know better.

People don't listen. This is true for both men and women. Talking to someone who doesn't listen is a waste of time. So, I choose not to waste my time. You should, too.

A Nice Analysis of Print Media Coverage of Hurricane Irene

At the NYT FiveThirtyEight blog Nate Silver uses our normalized loss database (above) and historical loss of life data to assess the relative intensity of (mostly) print media coverage of Hurricane Irene. He finds that the coverage was in line with that of other storms since 1980. I would love to see a similar analysis exclusively focused on television news coverage -- I'd hypothesize different results.

The Folly of Emissions Trading: New Zealand and Europe

Coming Clean - New Zealand's Emissions Trading Scheme Explained from Lindsay Horner on Vimeo.

The video above was brought to my attention by a student in my graduate seminar this term.  It was done by one of his classmates in grad school in New Zealand (Thanks Adam!).  The video is exceedingly well done.  If you have 15 minutes and are interested in the debacle that is New Zealand's carbon policy, have a look.

News from Europe is similarly discouraging about the prospects for emissions trading, EurActiv reports:
European chemical manufacturers are covertly venting huge quantities of the powerful 'super greenhouse gas' HFC-23, according to a study by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA).

The report, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, says that Western Europe's emissions of HFC-23s – an 'F' or fluorinated gas mainly used as a refrigerant – are between 60-140% higher than officially reported.

Italy alone was found to be emitting 10-20 times more HFC-23s than it officially reports. The greenhouse gas has a global warming potential which is 14,800 times higher than CO2.
The UK and the Netherlands also emitted around twice as much as they claimed, although the figures for France and Germany were "within the reported values".

"We think it is scandalous," Clare Perry, a campaigner for the Environmental Investigations Agency, told EurActiv. "These gases have a very high global warming potential over a short timeline."
EMPA, the Swiss agency that conducted the research, explains the significance:
International agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) basically have one snag: it is almost impossible to independently verify whether participating countries abide by the agreement. Thus the evaluation of whether or not the countries have achieved their reduction targets is based on the official reports by the countries that are signatories to the UNFCCC (‘United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’). If they report reduced emissions they're sitting pretty; if not, they are pilloried.
Some might say that the response should be more regulation, more reporting, more rules -- all negotiated through a comprehensive global framework. Of course, that approach hasn't gotten very far to date.

Guest Post: Kevin Vranes on the Virginia Earthquake

NOTE: This is a guest post by Kevin Vranes.

The overwrought reaction to the M5.8 Virgina earthquake on Tuesday had a lot of native Californians snickering (ok, me included, I grew up just south of San Francisco), but I had to concede that a M5.8 in the east is not the same thing in the well-prepared west.  The fact is, the eastern seaboard has plenty of shaking in its geologic history, but little in its human history.  The frequency of very large quakes on the eastern seaboard is much longer than 1-2 generations, a period which in California seems to keep the risk fresh in the mind of locals and in the policy considerations of local governments.

Building codes in the U.S. have traditionally been highly localized, and only recently are beginning to reflect the realization that almost every state in the U.S. has some seismic risk and therefore codes should incorporate seismic design principles. Combine slow code change with old building stock (apparently the building stock is older in D.C. than in any of the 50 states - link), and you have an area at much higher relative risk to moderate shaking than California.  

The question we should be asking is, what is the true risk?  Since this is an intraplate region with lots of old, hidden faults that do not move often enough to reveal shaking risk, this is a difficult question to answer (perhaps nearing impossible in the foreseeable future).  But what about from an economic damages perspective?  In the absence of seismic data, can some measure of risk be calculated?

In 2009 Roger and I published a paper in Natural Hazards Review to examine this question. The analysis was an attempt to put historical quakes into current-day context by asking essentially this question: “If the 1906 San Francisco happened again today, with today’s population, increase in wealth and increase in damage mitigation, what would we figure the economic losses would be?”  We did this calculation for every earthquake in the U.S. since 1900 for which we could find a credible estimate of economic losses -- 80 in all.  How does this apply to east coast earthquakes, and therefore how does it reflect on Tuesday’s quake?  By giving us a measure of the frequency of quakes that cause economic damages in a certain region.

So what does our analysis tell us about Tuesday’s Virginia earthquake?  Unfortunately, the answer is: just about nothing. Since 1900 only two quakes have occurred in the east that were given damage estimates: a 1944 quake in Massena, NY (on the Canadian border, as far from NYC as you can get in New York state) and a 1954 event in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  The Massena quake was given a $1.5M - $2M price tag, and the Wilkes-Barre event was given a $1M estimate.  Although damaging events have occurred in the mid-Atlantic and southeast in human history, none have occurred since 1900, the period for which we have good economic comparison data.

And this is the problem.  We know the major quakes can occur in the intraplate east, but they happen so infrequently and the last big ones happened so long ago, they tell us very little about what would occur today with the same shaking conditions.  The two major historic quakes in the east occurred in 1811 (New Madrid, Missouri) and 1886 (Charleston, SC).  Damages from the Charleston event was given a price tag of about $5 million in 1886 dollars.  By comparison, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was estimated at over $500 million in 1906 dollars.

Were these quakes to occur again today damage would undoubtedly be extreme, but how extreme?  What’s left is to model with HAZUS, which can give a peek into what kind of damages you might expect from certain shaking types, and hope that your estimate for shaking risk in certain intraplate regions is fairly accurate.  Whether it is?  We’ll find out when the next big eastern seaboard quake happens near a major city.


I worry that I may be overdoing my visits to Hooters. I spent Saturday night there watching UFC on the tube despite all my previous writings about "bread-and-circuses." But it was fun until my ass started to rebel from sitting on a bar stool for all that time. Later, I would regret that time wasted because I could have gotten some reading done.

This dovetails into a larger issue that I have had a hard time trying to figure out and categorize. This is the distinction between work and leisure. Obviously, working your job for the sake of a paycheck is work. But let's say you change the oil on your own car. Clearly, this is work, but you aren't getting paid for it. But you would pay someone else to do it if you had to. The same thing can be applied to housework or whatnot.

What about exercise? Isn't that work? Or is it leisure? Spending three hours crafting a blog post? It seems like work except it doesn't pay.

The leisure side is pretty easy. Sitting in a bar doing nothing is definitely leisure. So is watching a ball game on television. Surfing is also leisure. Basically, if you do it for yourself, and you would never pay someone else to do it for you, this is leisure. But this would make running a marathon a leisure activity even though it doesn't feel leisurely.

It seems to me that activities should be aimed at some desirable end. Watching UFC does not qualify because there is no desirable end except to fill the time. That time would have been better spent learning a martial art. I think a better distinction is not between work and leisure but between the useful and the frivolous. Some activities seem useful such as woodworking while others are utterly frivolous such as watching NASCAR.

Watching sports strikes me as the most utterly frivolous activity there is. This would be followed closely by playing rounds of golf. The fact is that people would be better off playing basketball or soccer during that time.

A Renaissance man is simply one who chooses profitable activities over unprofitable activities. While other people watch television, I keep a blog. People ask me where I find the time to write so much, but I simply use the same time others use goofing off. I get the pleasure from making something while others get the pleasure (usually) from reading it.

I am overhauling the C-lifestyle right now, and I think my Hooters phase needs to end. I'm not sure what possessed me to start going there so damn much, but I think I have worked it out of my system for now. My goal is a total work oriented lifestyle in the sense that I spend all my waking time working on my projects.

This is truly why I got into coaching

We had our our father-son jersey night a few days ago. We had 17 seniors and each one was represented by either their father or important male.

This is truly why I got into coaching.

It was so moving. 

One of our seniors is a third generation Flyer and to see the pride on his face giving that jersey to his son and telling him how much he loved him and how proud of him he was. PRICELESS. 

I am truly blessed to be a coach.

Chris Tracy
Head Football Coach
Franklin County HS

Sunday, August 28, 2011


1. Another minimalist blogger bites the dust. He wants to make a blog dealing with broader topics of personal interest. His name is also Charlie.

2. Dick Cheney is putting the dick back in Dick.

3. Jennifer Anston shacks up with a new beau. Lucky bastard.

4. Ron Paul must be the only guy in Washington with a memory. People want to pillory the man for calling FEMA a joke. When did everybody forget the Katrina disaster? They are putting something in the water to make people stupid.

5. Time for ass:

6. Bernanke said the recession would not create lasting damage to the economy, and he is correct. Recessions restore the economy. It is the Fed that damages the economy.

7. Astronomers have discovered a planet made completely out of diamond. No word as to whether or not they have discovered a planet made completely out of bullshit. But they have discovered a city--Washington, DC.

8. Dick Cheney continues to defy death because Hell doesn't want him.

9. Facebook fucked up the status updates on Facebook. They just love to irritate the fuck out of me.

10. Country music vid of the day:

Quotable Quotes--Steve Jobs Edition

Apple's goal isn't to make money. Our goal is to design and develop and bring to market good products... We trust as a consequence of that, people will like them, and as another consequence, we'll make some money. But we're really clear about what our goals are.

We're gambling on our vision, and we would rather do that than make 'me too' products. Let some other companies do that. For us, it's always the next dream.

On getting fired:

[It] was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.[...] It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith.

On his $1 a year salary:

I make 50 cents for showing up ... and the other 50 cents is based on my performance.

A lot of companies have chosen to downsize, and maybe that was the right thing for them. We chose a different path. Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets.

Apple's market share is bigger than BMW's or Mercedes's or Porsche's in the automotive market. What's wrong with being BMW or Mercedes?

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected.

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

I want to put a ding in the universe.

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

Pretty much, Apple and Dell are the only ones in this industry making money. They make it by being Wal-Mart. We make it by innovation.

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.

The people who are doing the work are the moving force behind the Macintosh. My job is to create a space for them, to clear out the rest of the organization and keep it at bay.

You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new.

We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.

Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me… Saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

For something this complicated, it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.

I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.

Don’t be evil is a load of crap.

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come. I hereby resign as CEO of Apple.

Usain Bolts out of the Blocks too fast

Say it anit so? The fastest man in History had a false start
in the 100 metres final of the track and field world champs.

Bolt told the media, that he wont cry, but Im guessing his
competitors will in the final of the 200 metres, I'm also
guessing we are going to see the 200 metres world record

Lets hope this great sportsperson can comeback and show the
world why he  the greatest sprinter ever.

Greatest Sporting Victory this Year

When the Tall Blacks beat Russia 80-77 over Russia to win

 the Stankovic Cup it represented the greatest sporting achievement
of 2011, it doesn't matter if the All Blacks go on to win the
Rugby world cup, a sport that is too tiny outside our
country, it wouldn't had matter if we had of won the Netball
world champs, the most insignificant sport on the face
of the planet.

We have won a Major competition in the
second most popular team sport in the
world, it's now up to our media in a few
 months time to show credibility by giving
 the Tall Blacks the Halbergs.

The achievements of the Tall Blacks over the past nine years is
beyond belief, yet our media keeps quiet, I wonder why?

Well I don't actually, I know the reason and I only wish I had
the factual proof.

Anyway, here's hoping  our National Basketball team will end up
at next years Olympics when the world's spotlight will be on them.

Fingers crossed.

A Ride with Irene

Irene, Toppled Tree
And so we have weathered the storm. Here in Boston, the general attitude toward Hurricane/ Tropical Storm Irene has mostly been one of sarcasm. Sure, there was some anxiety - stocking up on water and that sort of thing. But for the most part it's been a collective rolling of the eyes, a general feeling that the whole thing was unnecessarily hyped up by the media. One local establishment posted a handwritten sign stating "Closed tomawrah due to wicked bad hurricane!" Other businesses ranted against the public transit system for shutting down - drafting "Closed for the Day Thanks to MBTA" signs explaining that their employees have no way of getting to work - but that otherwise they would have happily remained open.

Irene, Branches on the Road
My own feeling was that the hurricane/ storm was not so much intentionally overhyped, as unpredictable - and there was a conscious decision to err on the side of caution. I also felt that it was insensitive of some to make light of a potentially destructive phenomenon just because it did not cause havoc in their neighbourhood. We live on the border of Somerville and Cambridge, MA, where the storm felt mild - but it did damage even here. Around mid-day Saturday, a large tree toppled over onto a major road around the corner from us, knocking out power lines and blocking part of the street until the city cleared it away. Had anyone been walking, cycling or driving on that side of the street at that exact moment, they could very well have been killed.

Irene, Toppled Tree
Today we carefully cycled around the neighbourhood and discovered more trees uprooted and large branches strewn across side streets. The strange thing is that the wind did not feel all that strong even during the worst of it, so we were surprised to see some fairly large trees knocked over. Does this mean they had shallow root systems?

Irene, Power Lines Down
Powerlines were downed in quite a few places, too. One local coffee shop that decided to stay open lost power on Sunday afternoon, yet remained operational for as long as some pre-brewed coffee remained. Customers would come in and sit with their drinks and pastries in the dark - quite happily, since this was one of the very few places open.

Irene, Branches on the Road
Surveying the damage in our neighbourhood, I think that the calls for caution were justified, even if the storm did not reach hurricane level. Overwhelmingly, motorists chose to stay off the roads here and the streets have been mostly empty - which I am certain accounts for the lack of injuries and casualties, considering the fallen trees and dangling powerlines. Cap'n Transit wrote a post a couple of days ago about the connection between driving and hurricane deaths that is worth reading.

I hope that all my East Coast readers are doing well, and that the storm has not been too severe for you. Has anyone been cycling?

Terry Serepisos to sell assets

Terry Serepisos is to sell his assets, he has debt of around
200 million dollars, like the fighter that he is, he hung on and on
but it was probably always going to come this, here's hoping,  he
can make a comeback, what he has given to New Zealand
football can not be repaid, I just hope the tall poppy syndrome
people aren't celebrating.

Also good luck to the Wellington Phoenix who I'm sure will
remain a strong club thru out their owners troubles.

Roll on the new season.

Get Over Yourself Lomu

Get over yourself Lomu. Once again NewZealand's
biggest ego cant get over the fact that it's not 1995
 anymore and there may be others that are in the
spotlight more than him.

Yes you have to say congrats to anyone who
 overcomes an serious serious illness, and you
have to say congrats to anyone who spends time
 raising money for charity.

What you don't say congrats to, is someone who
 despite being retired for around 10 ten years always
 making sure his name is in the spotlight and always
 trying to come across as the nice and humble

Lomu has spent his whole career in the media
 playing humble and sweet trying to make out that
is the gentle giant of New Zealand sport, and
trying to make out that his rivials for media attention are the
 bad guys.

If Lomu was really such a nice guy, he wouldnt gone
 to the media, bitching that SWB wont fight him.

But as usual the media in this country from
the likes  of Craig Stanaway and Brendon Telfer
 takes Lomu's side.

Here is my advice to Lomu, its the rugby
world cup, let  SBW take the spotlight.

Also dutring next years Olympic's we dont have to hear
 stories about you, we dont have to hear what you
 are doing, we dont have to hear how you could
of made it in basketball, soccer, track and field
 and boxing, we dont have to hear from you
Mr Lomu and we certainely don't have to hear
 from every journalist in this country about what a
 great guy you are and how you don't like media
attention, for the last 15 years that has proven not to be the

Con artist Ken Ring predicts September Earthquake

New Zealand's biggest fraudster, Ken Ring is at it again.
The man who has never accurately predicted anything in
his life, but has put fear into the residents of Canterbury, has
now told the people of Christchurch that there is going to be
another large quake in Christchurch in about four weeks time.

He is our version of Fred Phelps. causing grieve and heartache to
a city on edge and he also shows no remorse.

No matter how much scientific evidence is presented to him, to
show his moon views are wrong he stands by his false predictions,
while a city waits in fear.

Mr Ring needs to stop, if he has any dignity as a scientist he would.

In fact if he has any dignity as a human being he would.

But he has already told the media that he wont.

Shame on you Ken Ring.

Clean-dip video and training diary

LC 2x20kg: 5
LC 2x24kg: 5
LC 2x28kg: 5
LC 2x30kg:10 (3rpm, PR but too slow up from 2nd dip)
LC 2x28kg:13 (4rpm)
LC 2x24kg: 33 (+6rpm)
Jerk and clean mix 2x20kg: 4min, no counting

French press: 21kg x 15reps

Biceps curl: 21kg x 12, 26kg x12reps
Overhand Biceps curl 16kg: 12reps

Bridge work

Thematically, I tried to get the dip after cleaning the bells. I haven't really found the feel for it. Maybe it doesn't suit me? Anyway, I want to learn it good enough to see if it works for me, or not.

Anton Anasenko and Gregor Sobocan practicing LC; here's were I got the idea for practicing the dip in the clean today (look esp at ca 1:00):

Finnish LC Championship
The Finnish Long championships took place this weekend. The event was to be broadcasted real-time over the net. Unfortunately, the storm in the US upset the Internet connections so it didn't work.

Anyway there were some very good results. Moreover, two friends my age and more competed with 32kgs. So it can be done, it's inspiring... maybe something to try out in a year or so.

How Intellectually Interesting is the "Debate" over Global Warming and Hurricanes?