That is all.

Trees: first they pollute and now they warm

We all know trees are major sources of pollution because Ronald Reagan intelligently said so back in the 80’s when he probably had early stage Alzheimer’s Disease:

Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.

True story.

But it’s worse than we ever imagined. It’s those damn trees that have been causing all this global warming:

Looking for a solution to global warming? Maybe start clear-cutting many of the world’s forests, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher says…

“Is there some thought being given to subsidizing the clearing of rainforests in order for some countries to eliminate that production of greenhouse gases?” the California Republican asked Todd Stern, the top U.S. climate diplomat and lead witness at the hearing. “Or would people be supportive of cutting down older trees in order to plant younger trees as a means to prevent this disaster from happening?”

I have a feeling that if scientists started throwing this out there as the solution to global warming, Republicans suddenly wouldn’t have a single bit of opposition to the facts. Those crazy science lovers.

The return to Gulf Hagas

I wrote last year of my trip to Gulf Hagas. It was so darn swell that I decided to go again this year with Shambling After (who, AHEM, needs to blog more).

Pictures to come

This isn’t my video, but I was here all day today.

Yeah, Maine is okay.

Thought of the day

It’s difficult to point out what the absolute worst argument is from believers. They are so many choices. But at least one of the worst has got to be when they attempt to dispute that the burden of proof lies with them, not atheists or agnostics or anyone else not making the positive claim. Granted, most theists just ignore this argument rather than engage it, but every so often I see someone attempt to refute it.

And then I chuckle. With a grain of sadness.

Discarded trivia

Here is some more discarded trivia:

Name the only mammals capable of delivering venom? (Humans do not count).

There are three answers, but two of them are too specific/difficult. Since I don’t want to confuse everyone at trivia night by qualifying that I will accept broad groupings (such as “some dogs” or “some cats” – neither of which is a correct answer, obviously), this question got the boot.

And as always, no cheating.

Officer Ian Birk murders John T. Williams

They won’t show you this on Cops.

This happened last year. Birk still has not been charged.


Ever since I was a little kid I can remember my grandfather’s weight set. He had benches and barbells and free weights and I think there was even a kettlebell or two at some point. He would always try and get his four grandsons to work out under his supervision. For quite some time he even helped one of the neighborhood kids train (and now that guy is actually a cop – a very, very strong cop). He loved weight lifting his whole life. I even have this great newspaper picture of him from back in the 1950’s where he’s doing a one-arm press with a barbell of 152.5lbs for a competition. (He won, by the way.)

I worked out under his care for several years in my early teens. I eventually stopped once I got a job, a girlfriend, mounds of homework, a car, etc. On the one hand it was understandable that I would stop. I was a teenager and there was a lot of exciting stuff out there for me to experience. But on the other hand, I know I lost a lot of potential by not keeping up on my exercises. Fitness in one’s teens years can set one up for a whole boatload of strength in the future.

Fortunately I did always maintain some degree of my fitness thanks to my general activity and my metabolism. Even without working out I tend to be a healthy person, and for that I am lucky. But what made me even luckier was the fact that I had learned so much under my grandfather’s tutelage. I may have lost strength (not particularly fitness), but I never lost the knowledge of technique, form, and breathing that he taught me. Take this technically difficult exercise for example:

This is one that I do rarely. Part of the reason is that the majority of my working out in the past several years has been in basements with low ceilings. I could manage that exercise in my grandfather’s basement at age 13, but now it’s just too likely I will hit something. Fortunately, I have taken to using a gym for various reasons, so I will be able to incorporate the clean and split jerk into my work outs in the near future.

Another reason why that exercise is not in my current plan is that I do that one arm side press I mentioned earlier. I don’t do it with a barbell, nor do I do it with 152.5lbs, but it is part of my work out. And it’s tiring. I can’t find any videos of exactly what I do, but this is close:

The difference between that and what I do is that I don’t hop and split my feet. Instead I press and squat all in one motion. (Unfortunately YouTube searches for “one arm press and squat” either yield kettlebell exercises or simple one arm presses coupled with separate squats.)

While I love technically challenging exercises (they do a ton plus they’re just fun), I think the most fundamental exercise is the barbell bench press. Now, this obviously depends upon what one’s goals are. So, no, this exercise is not fundamental to everyone. But I’ve always felt it has made up the cornerstone of my work outs. In fact, I generally think of most of my other work outs in terms of how they can help my bench press. That may not be the best mindset, but I can’t say I’m disappointed about where I am. (One of my exercises, the dumbbell bench press is specifically for the sake of improving my barbell bench press.) There is just something beautiful about the simplicity of some exercises.

I am endlessly happy that I had the grandfather that I did. He taught me a lot about fitness (and so much more). This knowledge is something that I plan on utilizing for the rest of my life, just as he did for his entire life. I couldn’t be more thankful.

“Missing” mass discovered

There are at least two types of mass in the Universe: dark mass (matter) and every day mass. The former represents about 83% of the matter in the Universe, but it has never been directly observed. In that way, it is “missing”. (Or at least it was before Zwicky proposed it – and it will still be “missing” if that theory, though generally accepted, proves to be wrong.) The latter type of mass, the sort we encounter every day, makes up 17% of the matter of the Universe, but of that 17%, some is “missing”. Until now:

Undergraduate Amelia Fraser-McKelvie made the breakthrough during a holiday internship with a team at Monash University’s School of Physics, locating the mystery material within vast structures called “filaments of galaxies”.

Monash astrophysicist Dr Kevin Pimbblet explained that scientists had previously detected matter that was present in the early history of the universe but that could not now be located.

“There is missing mass, ordinary mass not dark mass … It’s missing to the present day,” Pimbblet told AFP.

“We don’t know where it went. Now we do know where it went because that’s what Amelia found.”

Part of the reason dark matter has not been directly observed is that it doesn’t interact (by and large) with the electromagnetic spectrum. That makes it rather invisible – even if we utilize different wavelengths (such as infrared light or microwaves). But this other matter does interact with lightwaves. It just happens that the correct lightwaves are X-rays:

Fraser-McKelvie, an aerospace engineering and science student, was able to confirm after a targeted X-ray search for the mystery mass that it had moved to the “filaments of galaxies”, which stretch across enormous expanses of space.

This is pretty interesting stuff, especially since it was an undergraduate who combed the data to show that they had detected these “filaments”. She even got published in a prestigious journal, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. So congratulations to Amelia Fraser-McKelvie, and good luck in the future. I just hope her future work comes with more in-depth news articles for those of us who aren’t physicists.

Thought of the day

“VEVO”, or whatever the hell that bullshit is, ruins YouTube videos. No, I do not want to go to a different screen, wait for ads to load all over the place, watch an ad, watch my video, then have another ad yell at me. And all the while the videos on the right side are apparently controlled by “VEVO”, thereby not showing me anything that is actually related to what I’m watching. Go to hell, VEVO.