Friday, January 27, 2012

Blogsam and Websam

Stuff I think is interesting and once probably thought about blogging more about but now it's too late:
  • The United States has more people in solitary confinement than any other country in the world. Read that again..... What a shameful statistic.... Now read this essay in the Washington Post by someone who spent a decade in such confinement in China, and somehow came out still able to communicate his experience and feelings. If you need more, read the Jonathan Turley piece from earlier this month, also in the Post, titled 10 Reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free.
  • What the hell is happening to us? Really? Does anyone have a clue??
  • I have a long news article in the January issue of Physics World about light field cameras -- digital cameras that take pictures you can focus after you snap them. Just might be the next big thing in photography -- there is certainly a lot of big Silicon Valley money behind the idea.
  • An op-ed in today's WSJ repeats the myth that there has been no warming "for well over 10 years." (I'm being kind by calling it a myth.) We've already seen that the ocean continues to warm, though I haven't calculated the trend yet. It's true that the surface isn't warming lately -- the linear trend of the last 120 months of HadCRUT3 surface data is -0.078 ± 0.027 C/decade (R2=0.07) -- but if you wanted to find temperature of some system, would you only measure the temperature on some boundary in its interior? Of course not! You'd measure many different parts of it. (The 10-yr trend of the UAH lower troposphere temperatures is +0.032 ± 0.097 C/decade, which is not statistically significant.) They seem not to even know about the recent Loeb paper in Nature Geosciences, despite writing,
    If elected officials feel compelled to "do something" about climate, we recommend supporting the excellent scientists who are increasing our understanding of climate with well-designed instruments on satellites, in the oceans and on land, and in the analysis of observational data.
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Guess_His_Party-VA) actually said this about Warren Buffett's secretary, who was invited by Pres. Obama to attend his State of the Union address after Buffett wrote that he pays less taxes than his secretary (17.4% to 35.8%):
    "We want her to make more money, we want her to have more hope for the future. . . . [But] this notion that somehow the income that Warren Buffett makes is the same as a wage income for his secretary, we know that’s not the same."
    Clearly he thinks some people's money is better than other people's money. Unbelievable. And now the long knives are already after her.
  • This didn't seem to get much news time, but... the U.S. health insurance situation continues to fall to pieces: about 1% fewer workers are covered every year, for several years now. Since 2008 the uninsured rate has risen from 14.8% to 17.1%. That's about 2.3 million adults a year who have lost their insurance -- 189,000 per month. Have you heard any discussion of this at the Republican candidate debates? Any? Even Obama barely mentioned health care in his SOTU. The whole system is going to shit and it's like no one wants to talk about it until it hits them.

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