28 July 2006
I’ve heard the “Flight of the Tuba-bee,” perhaps on a Canadian Brass album, but this is a new one. Really, really good trombone playing.
Takes a while to load, but worth it if you like musical humor.
28 July 2006
I am on the email list for a newsletter that is pretty much equal parts alert about issues, information about events, and head-shaking about its author. The following, though, is pretty much what I’ve been saying for a while about science. It is nice to see some realistic analysis of the corner that many scientists have painted themselves into.
WHAT’S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 28 Jul 06 Washington, DC
1. BLEEP: IT IS PHYSICS THAT UNLEASHED THIS PLAGUE ON MANKIND.
Some suggested that I take refuge behind the Geneva Convention or
the Eighth Amendment rather than watch the film What the Bleep Do
We Know. It was penance for allowing myself to be used on ABC’s
Primetime, where Adam Dreamhealer attributed his awesome power
to “quantum mechanics.” In “Bleep” every spiritual claim becomes
an example of “consciousness” acting through quantum mechanics.
In physics, unfortunately, the word “consciousness” is invariably
followed by bullshit. Having found a way to make incredibly
precise predictions at the atomic level, we chose to ignore the
fact that we don’t understand it. After all, QM has transformed
the world. We now flaunt the fact that no one understands
quantum mechanics. We have begun to enjoy being high priests of
a mystical religion. It’s like giving Mass in Latin.
Also from Bob Parks in the same newsletter, the following it-would-sound-like-conspiracy-theory-except-that-it’s-true:
4. NASA: “OUR HOME PLANET” IS REMOVED FROM MISSION STATEMENT.
On 3 Feb, after NASA climate scientist James Hansen told the NY
Times he was being harassed for speaking out about greenhouse gas
emissions http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN06/wn020306.html ,
NASA Chief Michael Griffin issued a “scientific openness” policy.
However, on 6 Feb, the phrase, “understand and protect our home
planet,” was quietly removed from the NASA mission statement. It
had been cited by Hansen to justify his remarks.
Scary. And representative of a trend created by convergance with the first quote.
24 July 2006
While I generally rush to defend opera to those who criticize, I would like to sharply limit the number of composers in the operatic canon. While the Standard Operatic Repetory includes many fine works. I would be content with Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, and on good days (either mine or theirs), Wagner and Donizetti for 1/2 each. Oh, and only Gilbert & Sullivan would be allowed to perform in English. Period.
Well, let’s have some debate on the subject! For references, see OperaGlass.
24 July 2006
I tried yesterday to follow the advice on the left-hand mug in the picture below, I really did. But since she was unavailable, I ended up talking to my dad about some minutae of celestial navigation. Another post will be devoted to the convergence of European and Hawaiian techniques of finding your way by the stars.
23 July 2006
At least that’s what Ernie Misewicz calls the fire service. It’s been several years since I had his class at UAF, but the line still evokes a smile. Particularly since for the last couple of years, the amount of proactive thinking in magazine articles, conferences, and Tuesday night drills seem to be increasing. Battalion chiefs, training officers, and others are getting the word out about working smarter and safer.
I had time to reflect on such things this morning because the farmers market crowd in Volcano was small, and very few people came by the firehouse to talk. I think that, in addition to internal work on increasing safety and effectiveness, the biggest goal for emergency services is external communication to those we serve about how we work. People expect that 911 calls will be answered and responded to instantly, if not sooner, and many firefighters and emergency responders maintain high standards of professionalism. But if we who respond don’t communicate what we need to do our job, and what is involved in doing it, we can’t expect a lot of support from the public. Seeing science organizations open up many more possibilities when they explain why they do what they do is perhaps a good model for fire departments.
20 July 2006
19 July 2006
One cool thing about the trip to California is the reaquaintance with birds common there and uncommon here. Grackles, Stellar’s Jays, and turkey vultures were all-but-ubiquitous there, but I hadn’t seen any of them in years. Makes me feel like I should read Aldo Leopold again.
P.S. Just in case you encounter, as I did, a well-meaning but ill-informed State Parks employee, here‘s an identification chart for large carnivorous birds in California.