Thursday, February 28, 2008

Book Nine has moved

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Election '08 Results: President McCain!

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

The more astute of you may have realized that this exceedingly well done piece of satire was just that.

The Onion had fallen off my must-read list several years ago due to some fairly lackluster offerings. They really reach their apex, as far as I'm concerned, with their first issue back after September 11. In the past few months, however, as I've walked past their distribution boxes downtown, I've literally LOLed some of the headlines. (That one about the Wikipedia editor is funny because I share a similar sort of pride for a recent news event of some note.)

The above video constitutes only the second time I've watched an ONN report, but I'm confident I'll be coming back if they stick with this level of quality or {shudder} improve it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Chuck Jones, Genius

I saw this on some nameless early morning in the late 80s. It was one of the most amazing pieces of animation I've ever seen. I was talking about it with my boss the other day, and lo and behold, it's in a tube. For the ultimate surrealistic effect, start watching it at 1:05 in. The opening credits kinda give away a bit of the awesome.

That man was brilliant.

The hyperactive imaginations of the NWS, and the gullible hypecasts left in their wake

Yesterday, there was breathless anticipation when the National Weather Service declared a Winter Storm Warning for the entire metro region (and most of the mid-Atlantic). The media was flooded yesterday evening with the eagerness with which they typically greet any situation: if they can gin it up into a crisis, they will.

Guess what?

It rained.

Last year, after a couple of busted forecasts (hypecasts, I'm going to start calling them), decided to filter the forecasts through a pair of equations:

S = Sfh - 2

which effectively takes the upper forecast amount of snowfall for my area (as determined by the NWS, rendered above as Sfh, and subtracts two from it. The result, S, is the actual snowfall we will get.

There was a second equation:

T = Tf + (
Tf * 0.1)

which takes the forecast temperature (high or low, it doesn't matter) and adds 10% onto it.

Flashback to 7:30 last night:

I'm testing out my Cynical Winter Weather Equations for this WSW. I came up with:

S = 1, and T = 33


Wait... T = 33?!? That means that whatever falls isn't going to stick to much of anything! So even if S > 0, it wouldn't matter. But there's a Winter Storm Warning! Surely that means that "a winter storm is occurring or is about to occur in the area"! They wouldn't be so foolhardy as to excite an excitable region for the prospect of "3 or more inches of snow with a large accumulation of ice" unless it was warranted. If it weren't warranted, they certainly would have issued something less dire-sounding, like a Freezing Rain Advisory. Surely my Cynical Winter Weather Equations are just too cynical. I'm going to go to sleep tonight comfortable in the knowledge that there will be plenty of snow and ice to go around.

Ok, it didn't happen exactly like that. I actually wasn't very surprised (but still disappointed) when I awoke at 6:00 this morning, stepped outside and saw about 1/8 of an inch of pathetic looking slushy slop on our front steps and wet roads and traffic moving at its normal, ridiculous speed down RIAve and NorthCap.

I mean, really. Is this what qualifies as a winter storm in these parts? A rain storm (and not a very bad one at that) that happens in "winter".

Dear National Weather Service: knock this shit off.

Dear media hypecasters: knock this shit off.

The point of all this is that whenever they're going to issue any sort of winter weather advisory from here on out, I'm plugging their guesstimates into my CWWE and behaving off of that data. And now, you can rest in the knowledge that they've undergone real-world testing, and can use them too!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


'Twas a cold night to be out getting pics, but I have a few you can see over at flickr. Click the moon macro to see 'em. (No, they're not spectacular, but they are mine.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why this whole "Obama borrowed lines from a Deval Patrick speech" is a stupid, made-up controversy.

Hillary did it too. In fact, she cribbed from Obama.

"We are fired up and we are ready to go because we know America is ready for change and the process starts right here in Iowa."
-Hillary Clinton, January 3, 2008

"Fired up, ready to go!" was Obama's trademark line beginning after a campaign stop in Georgia in September.

But according to the Clinton campaign, she's allowed to hold Obama to a different standard.

WTF, mate? That's just moronic.

Monday, February 18, 2008

ELP 016

Taken from my front porch just minutes ago:

The pot of gold, apparently, lies in Eckington. Never woulda guessed that one.

Bella luna obscura

Hey gang... don't forget to step outside and enjoy the view this Thursday Wednesday night. There's going to be a total lunar eclipse visible through most of the lower 48 (you PSTers might miss the very beginning).

Of course, to look at the cloud cover map for the US on Thursday, most of the eastern US is probably not going to see most of it. The DC area is forecast to be under about 85% cloud cover. The Big Apple should fare a little better, having only about a 35% cloud cover around 7:00pm, when the eclipse starts. Not to fret, however... total lunar eclipses are not terribly rare, occurring at least twice a year - although they're not always viewable from the US. The next total lunar eclipse viewable from the US will be in the early morning of December 21, 2010 EST.

For those of you more interested in the Big Show - a total solar eclipse... well, you've either got to do some traveling or some waiting. There will be one this August 1, but you're going to have to be in some of the northernmost places on the planet to see it - northern Canada, northern Greenland, northern Russia. The mainland US doesn't get a total solar eclipse until August 21, 2017. (The western US gets the tail end of a partial eclipse during the evening of May 19, 2012... but why settle for second best?)

The 2017 event will paint a total eclipse stripe from the northern coast of Oregon to the central coast of South Carolina during the afternoon of August 21. And this will be the last time you can see a total solar eclipse in the lower 48 until 2106. (The 2017 eclipse also the best chance anyone here has had to see a total solar eclipse since the last one that was centered here, in November 1834.)

If you want to get a sense of what the eclipse will look like, go get Stellarium. It's the ultimate sky-watchers' program, and is GPL'ed (which is to say, free). Set your observatory to Hopkinsville, KY (a town near the center of the 2017 event), go forward in time to about 1:25pm (as the clock reads, which I don't think is accounting for daylight savings), then watch the magic.

Or watch this crappy quality YouTube version. I tried a video capture from my desktop, but SnagIt (or, more likely, the MS codec) wasn't able to capture 7 frames per second of full-screen vid for a minute-plus. You're going to have to get Stellarium yourself, or do as Jambro and I are doing and planning a trip to Kentucky in nine-point-five years.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New and Improved! Swill™

I'm all for trying new things. I was leery of this new thing when I first saw it. For good reason. I won't even mention it by name for fear of driving hits to the parent company or providing them any additional revenue for this liquid atrocity. But if you see this in a bottle that you're about to drink, cut your tongue out instead. Avoid it at all costs.