More Junkmail from Bob!Thursday, March 25, 2004
Dust!About 70 years ago, the South Pacific was cooler than normal, and the South Atlantic was warmer than normal. Why does that matter? That's probably what caused the dust bowl in the Central U.S. in the 1930s.
I used to think the dust bowl was just part of the depression, but it was actually a big weather phenomenon. The central U.S. received 10% to 25% less rain than normal. An increase in wheat and cattle production after World War I opened up a lot of new land to cultivation and cattle, and the typical conservation practice of the day didn't do much to control erosion. With the financial stress of the depression, many people were more concerned with being able to eat rather than preserving topsoil. As a result, when the unprecedented drought hit in the 1930s, up to 4 inches Great Plains topsoil blew away.
Here are my grandparents (and a couple of others in the back window) in north central Oklahoma. You can't see where the road stops and the fields begin.
A wall of dust approaching a town in Kansas, 1935:
A dust storm approaching Stratford, TX, April 18, 1935:
Dust approaching Spearman, Texas:
A windbreak in Oklahoma, about 1935:
A South Dakota house, about 1934:
A blown-out field in South Dakota:
Somewhere in the Great Plains, about 1935:
Abandoned farm equipment in Kansas, 1935:
Photo details and sources are at http://xpda.com/junkmail/?issue=154#dust
CadaverousNeed to get rid of some surplus cadavers? Blow 'em up! Tulane University had a few too many cadavers lying around, so they donated some to the army. The army blew them up to test land mines. Not surprisingly, this got some people riled up. None of the dead people complained, but I don't think this is what they had in mind when they donated their bodies to science.
Spammin'Here's an article about some anti-spam techniques and their limitations.
I think the best solution is for the government to start enforcing the anti-spam law that took effect on January first this year. But the government must think there is no spam because they haven't prosecuted anybody.
Undeterred, the Senate wants to pass another law to be unenforced -- this one against spyware. But they encountered a problem. It appears that none of the Senators know what spyware is, so they can't write the law.
Anti-Pirate PiratesClifton and Justin wrote a program called Walk the Plank. It displays a message chastising the user for software piracy, and logs the user's IP address on Clifton's and Justin's server. Clifton and Justin then renamed copies of the program to a bunch of warez (illegitimate copies or cracks to legitimate software) names, and started sharing it on P2P networks such as Gnutella. It started spreading.
Then they came out with a newer version that logs the name of the stolen application. It's called Dust Bunny. The two anti-pirate applications "call home" a few hundred times per day, each time a new user is suckered into downloading and running it.
Wideband WiretapsThe FBI wants easier access to tap your wideband internet service. A couple of weeks ago the FBI's request to the FCC was made public. It would require DSL and Cable ISPs to rewire their systems to "give police ready access to any form of Internet-based communications."
Some anti-wiretap people are not so thrilled about this, particularly because the Patriot Act allows wiretapping without warrants. FBI Director Robert said, "We have no choice. Terrorists are everywhere!"
2003VB122003VB12, or Sedna by its friends, is a newly discovered pieced of dirt, ice, and/or rock flying around the sun. Mike, Chad, and David discovered Sedna at the Mount Palomar Observatory.
Sedna is about three times farther from the sun than Pluto. It is 1/8 to 1/10 the diameter of the earth. Its day is close to 1000 hours long (40 earth days), and its year is about 10,500 earth years long. In other words, it takes about 10,500 years for Sedna to make one orbit around the sun.
Sedna will get closer for about 72 years, but will be 10 times farther away in 5000-6000 years. So hurry and take your pictures now!
The 40-day rotation speed is too slow for a planet (or planetoid, depending on who you ask) the size of Sedna. They suspect this might indicate a moon. They plan to take some pictures with the Hubble Space Telescope soon, which should be able to see a moon if there is one.
Spying?Six months ago, the Army arrested James Yee for espionage and possibly treason. At least that's what CNN and the other news services said.
He was actually charged with taking classified documents to a housing unit, and transporting classified documents without the proper locking containers or covers.
He spent 76 days in jail waiting.
James Yee is a West Point graduate, converted to Islam in the 1990's, and was serving as chaplain to prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.
Last Friday, the army said they dropped all spying charges against Yee. But he was charged with adultery and having dirty pictures on his computer. He will not go to prison for this, but Army prosecutors have not disclosed whether they'll brand his forehead with an A for Adultery, P for Porno, or T for Terrorism.
SCO vs. Lawrence LivermoreSCO is having so much fun suing people that they sued Lawrence Livermore National Labs for using Linux. I think it's a scam, and that SCO should try to make money developing software instead. But they didn't ask me. How odd.
Terrorists are Everywhere!Maryann DeLeo won an Oscar. She flew to Durango for the Durango Film Festival. Then she decided to leave Durango. But she missed her flight. The people at the airport decided her Oscar was a lethal weapon and she couldn't take it on the plane with her. The Transportation Security Administration in Denver said the screeners at the Durango airport did the right thing.
Whew! Another terrorist attack narrowly averted!
Industrial ScienceSome EPA employees have been complaining that the White House has ordered them not to do their normal scientific and economic studies. Instead, they have to make regulations largely written by lobbyists. Here's a story on recent Mercury regulations:
Here's a picture of mercury:
(This picture was stolen from http://www.scitoys.com. Buy something from them so I don't get sued.)
Here's another picture of mercury:
Buy Burmese!Get your official Bush-Cheney fleece pullover today! Made in Burma.
President Bush said just last July, "Today, I have signed into law the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003... Among other measures, the legislation bans the import of Burmese products... By denying these rulers the hard currency they use to fund their repression, we are providing strong incentives for democratic change and human rights in Burma."
But the official Bush-Cheney fleece pullover being sold to raise campaign money was made in Burma.
When asked about the contradiction, Bush responded, "How were we to know? They changed their name to Myanmar!"
The pullovers have been pulled from the Bush web site. I suspect the person who bought them might have been pulled from the campaign.
It's illegal to import from Burma, but Bush has not been prosecuted by the Justice Department. It's illegal to spam, but spammers have not been prosecuted by the Justice Department.
Coincidence? Maybe. But I tend to believe that it's a conspiracy that can be traced back to Sedna.
Flying to EuropeWant to fly a plane to Europe? Here's some reference material:
This also works for flying a plane to North America from Europe if you read it backwards.
Space Station UpdateIf you're like most people, you lie awake at night wondering what's happening on the Space Station. Here's what they did last week:
Elsewhere above earth, the 50th GPS satellite flew into orbit last Saturday.
There are 24 GPS satellites used in the GPS system. The new one will replace an older, weaker satellite. Or maybe a broken one. Here's the Boeing press release.
I like they way they stuck in a completely unrelated bit about how this fights the "war" on terrorism. It is so out of place that I'd say some Boeing higher-ups must have demanded that it be added no matter how inappropriate.
CPUsHere's a good technical article about Intel's new Prescott P4 CPU, with lots of benchmarks testing the Prescott with other Intel P4 and AMD CPUs.
RIAAThe RIAA site (http://www.riaa.org) has been down for several days now, due to hacker DoS attacks.
In response, the RIAA is suing 532 more people for copying music.
MarsIt's official -- there was water on mars:
Pictures of Today!Round, blue rocks on the surface of Mars, nicknamed "blueberries:"
Here's the same thing from the microscopic camera:
"The spherules are geologic features called concretions, which form in pre-existing wet sediments. Other sphere-like grains, such as impact spherules or volcanic lapilli (fragments of material between 2 and 64 millimeters or .08 and 2.5 inches in maximum dimension that are ejected from a volcano) are thought to be deposited with sediments and thus would form layers distinct from those of the rocks." -- NASA
A satellite photo of Alaska, taken March 8. Most of the state is still frozen!
(click here for extra hi-res)
Peeking out of the snow, near Independence Pass, CO:
It's a 4.5 mile hike to that cabin this time of year.
Brian, Ken, and Mike headed up Peak 7, Breckenridge, CO:
An avalanche chute near Independence Pass, CO:
At the top you can see where some large slabs have slid down recently:
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