24 August 2011

Up in the Air: A Miscellany for Your Pleasure & Edification

Great song:

And under our feet:

So, did hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus shale layer in the pursuit of deeply embedded natural gas (aka 'fracking') cause the exceedingly rare East Coast earthquake epicentered on Rep. Eric Cantor's congressional district (h/t) in Virginia yesterday? I, for one, don't know. But if you go to TEH GOOGLY and type in 'virginia earthquake fracking', you'll get over 1.5 million hits. I'm glad people are at least thinking about it. And arguing.

In other news you might have missed: Somebody should clone that shit, dude. How many times have you heard that one? Heh!

Speaking of DNA, NASA now claims it has found traces of DNA in space. This article is worth reading if only because it uses the word "panspermia".

And speaking of controlling the DNA sequencing of organic life, more than 270,000 organic farmers are suing Monsanto for trying to monopolize the market for seeds. See Food, Inc. Seriously, biodiversity of the food supply is absolutely crucial for continued life on this planet.

Estimates are there are some 8.7 million species of life on Earth, the vast majority of which (~90%) are undocumented—or, I should say, unclassified at present. [Boris Worm, the marine biologist cited in the article, is not—I repeat NOT—one of them.]. Our ecosystem is incredibly complex, and human hubris and narcissism threatens to bring the whole thing down.

Serious people are trying to bring together the diverse interests of conservationalists and agribusiness. Hint: it's all about water. A preemptory truce in the upcoming water wars?

A cure for the common cold, all types of flu, and other viruses? DRACO! (not Malfoy) What about cancer? Can it be far behind. C'mon, people, I'm not getting any younger.

Speaking of water, oceanographers are still learning to map deep ocean currents that warm and cool the planet.

Speaking of heating the planet, the U.S. military is moving to more solar and renewable sources of energy, a move which could increase demand for solar and other renewable energies and, thus, bring the prices down. Is that ninja Obama behind this, too?

If you want the facts about what people who study this kind of thing professionally think about global heating, you could do worse than to start here—with the Union of Concerned Scientists. My guess is you can get the other side's point of view from a petroleum institute of one form or another's site and anything having to do with Koch Industries's public relations operations. You're bright, you can figure out where to look.

DARPA, the military organization that brought you this here internet you now so blithely search, in association with NASA "plans to award some lucky, ambitious and star-struck organization roughly $500,000 in seed money to begin studying what it would take — organizationally, technically, sociologically and ethically — to send humans to another star, a challenge of such magnitude that the study alone could take a hundred years." It's not too late to sketch out some ideas on a napkin or three: the grant will be awarded on 11/11/11.

Still no Higgs Boson? Who's driving that Large Hadron Collider anyway?

Still thinking about building that North Pole Fortress of Solitude. Well, you're one step closer: Memory Crystals may be on the way.

You might have to wait, though. If you are so inclined, you can add three years to your life by exercising only 15 minutes a day. But that raises certain philosophical questions like, you know, is it worth it?

Dr. Doom, aka Nouriel Roubini, thinks that Capitalism may be destroying itself in much the way anticipated by Marx 150 years ago. Analysis does not readily translate into praxis. Essence does not necessarily align with Timelines. Truth is not so easily nailed to the cross of history. Quoth this mainstream NYU economist:
You cannot keep on shifting income from labor to Capital without having an excess capacity and a lack of aggregate demand. That's what has happened. We thought that markets worked. They're not working. The individual can be rational. The firm, to survive and thrive, can push labor costs more and more down, but labor costs are someone else's income and consumption. That's why it's a self-destructive process.
In other mainstream news: a U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago has ruled that former SecDef Donald Rumsfeld can be tried for "personally establish[-ing] the relevant policies that caused" the torture of two U.S. citizens. Not quite a war-crimes tribunal. Baby steps.

From my Alma Mater (proudly), a study finding that the four primary attitudes of Tea Party types are: Authoritarianism, Libertarianism, Fear of Change/Ontological Insecurity, and Nativism. Interestingly, "authoritarianism" is defined as "respondents believe that obedience by children is more important than creativity, and that deference to authority is an important value." Bear that in mind. Seems contradictory to professed libertarianism, don't you think?

People are still arguing over NOTHING. As always. But I'm not talking about politics and the debt ceiling nonsense. Think about your body: what if it wasn't there? What is it currently displacing? Is that a something or nothing? If it's a something, what is it and what is it displacing? That sort of (no-)thing.

Great cover:


Randal Graves said...

DNA's not here, man.

Dammit, that's such a good song. I need to break out their stuff again.

Speaking of the inevitable water wars, YOU ALL STAY AWAY FROM ME LAKE, I'VE GOT A GUN (it's a super soaker, but still).

Of course, if I'm not actually here, be my guest.

Anonymous said...

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