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2009 November 24 — Why Now?
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150 Years Ago

On this date in 1859 a not particularly well-known Briton had a book published that outlined his views of the natural world, and his ideas of how some of that world worked.

After all this time Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species is probably second only to the Bible as the most misquoted and misunderstood book on the planet, and second only to Joyce’s Ulysses as a book that people claimed to have read, but haven’t.

The status of the book is probably best exemplified by the fact that a first edition about to be auctioned was discovered on a book shelf in a guest bathroom at an old home in Britain.

The book actually owes its infamy more to the Huxley-Wilberforce debate than anything Darwin wrote.

November 24, 2009   2 Comments

What A Great Idea

Rumor has it the Rupert Murdock is negotiating with Microsoft over the “rights” to search News Corpse sites.

What a fantastic concept – really. This means that Google News searches won’t be clogged with Rupert’s dross, and all of the wingers will be using Bing.

Like all of the other “media moguls”, Rupert is in hock for everything he bought, and he needs to get his hands on actual cash to pay off some of his debt or he’ll be back to selling papers from a street cart in a village somewhere.

On paper, Murdock is a wealthy man. The paper is now down below what is used in public toilets. These guys have been living large on credit card checks for a very long time, and people are finally demanding real money. Leveraged buyouts are a scam, a form of Ponzi scheme, and now the con men have to pay for what they bought because the easy credit is gone.

November 24, 2009   9 Comments

Passing Of A Friend

Dr. Jeff Masters notes the end of a stalwart ally in the tropical weather community: QuikSCAT, 1999 – 2009: R.I.P.

The QuikSCAT satellite is no more. The sad new of QuikSCAT’s demise came yesterday in a terse message from NASA:

Several hours ago, shortly past 7:00Z today (23Nov), telemetry received from QuikSCAT indicates that the antenna rotation rate has dropped to zero and remains at zero. The motor remains powered. The system can be operated safely in this state for an indefinite period. The QuikSCAT operations team will be meeting later this morning, but in all likelihood this is the end of the nominal mission”.

Launched in 1999, the QuikSCAT satellite became one of the most useful and controversial meteorological satellites ever to orbit the Earth. Forecasters world-wide came to rely on QuikSCAT wind data to issue timely warnings and make accurate forecasts of tropical and extratropical storms, wave heights, sea ice, aviation weather, iceberg movement, coral bleaching events, and El Niño. Originally expected to last just 2-3 years, QuikSCAT made it past ten, a testament to the skill of the engineers that designed the satellite…

Unfortunately, the funding necessary to replace the QuikSCAT was lost to the anti-scientific zeal of the Hedgemony and a Republican Congress of Luddites.

Fortunately it was there for the “interesting” 2004 and 2005 seasons, but we now have one less tool to warn people of what is coming. If the money were allocated today, a replacement could be in orbit in 2016 at a very reduced price on a Japanese satellite, but the Blue Dogs don’t like science anymore than their Republican siblings.

November 24, 2009   4 Comments