Considering a move

30 August 2006

Due to some fuss at SixApart–the company that runs LiveJournal and TypePad, my current blog host–about them equating breastfeeding with offensive graphic sexuality, I’m thinking about moving here instead.


Bob Park on the alert, once again. Whatever the scientific liklihood of something that puts out more energy than it takes in, the ground near the subject is certainly littered with the bodies of dead investors. Perhaps there is a truism wherein quasi-scientific things so sought after always turn out to owe their existence to our imperfect understanding of the cosmos. Or maybe I just failed physics.


This is the slogan of Steorn, a Dublin company that is assembling
a jury of scientists to evaluate a device using moving permanent
magnets to produce free energy. WN has exposed so many of these
devices in the past that it gets depressing. So this time we
examined the slogan instead. It’s from George Bernard Shaw’s
Anajanska [1919], but the full quote must have been been lost.
We’ve found the full quote: “All great truths begin as
blasphemies, but all blasphemies do not become great truths.”

I need to go back to his page and check out more of what Don Lancaster has to say. I think it might be very interesting.

Edited note: turns out it wasn’t a real GBS quote, after all. Bob Park apologized for that. Don’t know about the other guys.

Debbie Weeks update

28 August 2006

One of the best instructors I’ve ever had, as well as being a kick-ass sailor and chemist, and her leaving is a loss to UH Hilo. Fortunately, she is now traveling the world on her way to a good job in Australia. Here’s the most recent email:

From Debbie Weeks
Sent Monday, August 28, 2006 10:18 am
Subject Ciao!

Aloha all!
I made it to Rome, but my luggage is still in
Dublin! Since I carried virtually NOTHING onto the
plane, I’m hoping my stuff shows up here tomorrow as I
was told it might. So far, I’m thinking my luggage
had the right idea, but I’m sure it’ll be fun to walk
around Rome tomorrow after I’ve rested.
Ireland was GREAT! We flew into Shannon, then
drove south to stay in Kilarney, County Kerry, which
has a huge national park. We took a Jaunty Cart ride
through a small part of it. Then we went back north
and took a ferry into County Clare and stayed in the
Burren. There were many interesting Druid ruins,
etc., and we attempted to bring a monolithic dolmen
back with us. Sadly, the Fiat was too small to manage
it. Next was Galway and out a very scenic drive to
Cleggin on the west coast. We had Irish Stew at
Suzan’s friend’s place in Tuam. Suzan and I were
fortunate to meet and visit the homes of friends and
relatives of Suzan’s. They treated us right and saved
us from over-doing it at the pubs (well, that might be
contested!) The Guinness was all one could hope for,
and I made a very noble attempt to have a few for
everyone, and then some more for me, but I digress…
We stayed in Galway and did some shopping the next
morning, then visitted Suzan’s (and now my) friends in
Tuam again on our way to Sligo where we stayed in the
former harbour master’s house. We had a blast at the
pubs and restaurant there, so got a late start to
Northern Ireland where we stayed with Suzan’s cousin
for 2 days. She showed us the scenery of the Giant’s
Causeway and we took a ferry over to Donegal so we
could go to the most Northern point in Ireland. All
day Sunday we worked our way back toward Shannon and
stayed in Ennis, which has a lot of history, including
a substantial Franciscan Friary.
Travelling hasn’t been too bad… the small
airports are the way to go! I’ll probably have to
deal with long lines when I leave Rome; hopefully my
luggage catches up to me by then! Time to go out and
see if they know how to make pizza here!

In lieu of a yard sign

28 August 2006

I’ve been meaning to post for a while about the upcoming election, and while Hawai`i politics is not as exciting as Alaska, it’s still interesting. While I am not in danger of becoming a political blogger (for which I’m sure there is an even more awkward backronym) I do want to extend my efforts to help Brian Schatz, a Democrat running for the 2nd Congressional District in Hawai`i.

In fact, we have been sign waving and canvassing for Brian already, but since more people read this than drive by my house–it helps that we live on a back road–I’ll just say that I think Brian is the best person to represent Hawai`i in the U.S. House of Representatives. He’s smart, honest, and the thing which I respect most, willing to expose himself to the slings and arrows of an open discussion with voters. While the setting in which I saw him do so was a small gathering, that does not mean that all the questions were gimmes nor all the questioners soft and benevolent. But Brian showed no sign of relying on “ten words,” or any other campaign devices designed to evoke obedience.

Anyway, according to Al Hulsen, Hawai`i voter turnout has been the lowest in the country for some time. That is the kind of statistic that feels like a presage to a sickening lurch from “we don’t need to do anything,” to “we can’t do anything,” and we’ve had enough of that already.

Sent Thursday, August 24, 2006 10:22 pm
Subject Brian Schatz’s Big Island Campaign


The primary election is less than a month away! Brian Schatz’s 2nd District Congressional campaign is building more momentum by the day and we need to step it up as much as we can to push through the primary election. Absentee voting has already started and there have been in excess of 200 ballots already cast. In addition, there has been a 4% increase in registered voters since the last election and with the Senatorial primary there will be a record amount of people out to vote. The 2nd district congressional race is a packed field with 10 democrats seeking to prevail in the primary, because of this the actual number of votes need to win will be much smaller than in other elections, but even more obtainable. Every single vote counts in this primary election, it could be won with as little as 15% of the vote. This primary race will be extremely close and it is so important that we continue with our grass roots efforts. I have been hearing more and more that this race can be won with the Big Island and I do not doubt that for a second.

Below is our initial schedule starting next week for Hilo, I will be adding more as we go along and we will be working on one for Kona & Waimea as well, but please contact me if you want to take the initiative and add other times or take signs out to put in yards. The police are cracking down on signwaving rules, so I am looking into what is legal to do on the Panaewa stretch, the list below will stay the same, but other things will be added as well. Please email me if you can help with the fair booth or the grand rally and I will forward more information on these events too.

Thank you all for your support and please contact me if you have ideas or suggestions about anything or if there are events you are aware of that Brian should attend,


Tuesday, 8/29: Signwaving bayfront 4p.
Friday, 9/1: Signwaving bayfront 4p.
Saturday, 9/2: Canvass, Puna/Makuu Market
Tuesday, 9/5: Signwaving bayfront 4p.
Friday, 9/8: Signwaving bayfront 4p.
Saturday, 9/9: Canvass, upper Kaumana
Tuesday, 9/12: Signwaving bayfront 4p.
Thursday 9/14-Sunday 9/17: County Fair
Friday, 9/15: Signwaving bayfront 4p.
Monday, 9/18: Signwaving 4p.
Tuesday, 9/19: Signwaving 4p.
Thursday, 9/21: Signwaving 4p
Friday, 9/22: MASS SIGNWAVING Bayfront 3:30p
Grand Rally @ Mooheau Bandstand, 5p.
Saturday, 9/23: Precinct signwaving

Back in the saddle

24 August 2006

On Tuesday night, I attended the first class of Fire Science 156–Intro to Wildland Fire Management–at Hawai`i Community College. The classes are run through and tuition paid by the Rural Development Grant Project, so everybody gets to go for free. There was another volunteer firefighter in the class, from someplace on the Hamakua Coast, as well as a couple of regulars from the Hawai`i County Fire Department.

Most if not all introductory Fire Science curricula are set to conform to some national standard of sub-military pedanticism and dogma. Thus, they all spend an inordinate amount of time hammering away on the “Three Parts of the Fire Triangle.” Basic fire behavior is absolutely important for firefighter safety and for competence also, but this can’t be the best way to teach it. Even though I don’t know the fancy ed theory words for teaching, something comes back to be about psychomotor and cognitive domains. If anyone would care to jump in with the correct terms, please fee free.

At any rate, I’d like to brainstorm a new way to teach fire behavior effectively that doesn’t involve bludgeoning students repeatedly in the cranium with “Fuel, Oxygen, Heat.” Perspicacious readers have noticed that this isn’t even the more complex “Fire Tetrahedron,” which adds “Chemical Chain Rxn,” to the aforementioned three. But lets leave that aside for the moment.

Perhaps videos that show several different fires in assorted settings, environmental conditions, and sizes, produced in demi-laboratory conditions which reduce uncertainty? I have seen a couple of those to illustrate some of the more exciting types of compartment fires (those that happen inside buildings, jargonally).


Buy this book

24 August 2006

Just to show what a luddite I am, I found the book before I found the blog. If you do buy, though, go to the blog and there’s a link to purchase directly from the publisher(?) which includes the option to get a signed copy.

Jonathan Trouern-Trend has a bachelor’s degree in biology and has been an avid birder for 24 years. He served with the 188th Area Support Medical Battalion in Iraq from 2004-2005. He currently works for the American Red Cross Blood Services in their Epidemiology and Surveillance program. He lives in Marlborough, Connecticut, with his wife and their five children.

Thanks to Grrl Scientist for posting comprehensively about this stuff.

A lot of ink

24 August 2006

When the AP runs two stories in the space of a week, you know something big is going on. And the UH Hilo student chapter of the RSA is right on it, with an email already going around.

But I still think the best analysis in recent years is that by Christine Lavin in her song “Planet X,” (available on iTunes for 99 cents, but I can’t link to it–I also have a copy on the iPod).

More on this planet stuff, and ambiguity in the terms used for “big things,” in science later.