Thursday, July 15, 2010


Scary isn't a sufficiently intense modifier to decribe the concept of a oceanic methane disaster.  Here's an article suggesting that BP may have triggered something even worse than the oil mess.
  • The oceans periodically release massive eruptions of explosive methane gas (normally frozen in the form of a clathrate).
  • Such an event last caused a mass extinction 55 million years ago, and another 196 million years before.
  • Methane is now streaming out of the seabed and the borehole of the first relief well. 
  • Subterranean methane is pressurized at 100,000 psi.  Methane pressure at the wellhead is now 40,000 psi.
  • The ocean floor is succumbing to the increasing pressure.
  • A huge expanse of seabed around the well bulges as high as 30 feet.
  • Discovery of a giant rift on the ocean floor, 10 miles from the well, that may go miles deep, reported by NOAA research ship.  Oil and methane are pouring out there.
  • New fissures now spotted at 30 miles distance.
  • Government enforced news blackout again.
  • Methane levels in water may already be one million times higher than normal.
  • Underground methane sea is gradually melting from the nearby surging oil that’s estimated to be as hot as 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • A catastrophic collapse of the seabed, releasing enormous amounts of methane, and generating massive tsunami, could happen within six months.
Here is the cheerful article from which the above summary was taken:
Doomsday: How BP Gulf disaster may have triggered a 'world-killing' event 
See also the following pages for additional info:

Something for Everybody

My first thought upon seeing a new album was "oh no" (pun not intended). I girded for extreme disappointment. If we extrapolate 20 years beyond the decline that started during Shout, and try to estimate how much worse it would get -- well, let's not try too hard to picture that. It isn't pretty.

My first listen gave me shock. It was a little "loud" - I got the impression Mark was screaming a little to hard at the mic. However, on repeated listening, it's quite alright. What really shocked me was how it sounded so much more true to their earlier work. Less thick layers of synths; simple and infectious melodies (Devo's trademark #1). And most surprising, extremely clever, offbeat and inspired lyrics (Devo's trademark #2).

"Don't Shoot - I'm a Man", "Human Rocket", "Sumthin'", "No Place Like Home"... all very interesting lyrically, and quite good musically.

I have been well familiarized with all of their work. And I could probably enumerate the track lists from every one of their albums from memory, most in order. To convince me that this new album warrants any parity with, say, "Oh No! It's Devo!", would be a major hurdle for me. It's just a really high bar to clear, and afterwards they never did -- UNTIL NOW.

I find, to my total amazement, that I LOVE this album like I loved the early Devo. That's an incredible, extremely improbable, and highly unexpected result. And it gives me such satisfaction to see, after two decades, the real DEVO return in powerful form.

 I never thought this would happen. It did. It's awesome.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Devolution Again

In the depths of despair, miracles occur.  This is one.
see here

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sometimes, There Isn't Hope

Life seems to be getting pretty crappy these days.  I find it hard to have a reason to get out of bed.  Things only seem to get worse after I do.  And then, later, after a day full of hopelessness, pain, and misery, the only sure winner is sleeping for a while.  It's a blessed time wherein you're temporarily removed from all of your suffering.  Yes, it might be supplanted by a terrifying nightmare, but at least that's a different horror than what you've gotten used to seeing.  When you wake up though, it's back to the same damned schedule of ruin and angst that you left behind the hours before.  Time to do it all again.  The same misery, over and over again. 

Of course, if you're insomniac like me, this tantalizing escape may even be out of hand's grasp, though frustratingly close at times.

Religion would say "there is a reason for everything".   But I don't think that's true.  Certainly there is an cause for every effect;  though we may not be able to know exactly what's going on at all times during or after, I find calm in the belief that there must rules of nature that describe, deterministically, how everything will work itself out.   It gives me a tiny modicum of hope.  There are days where that's all I have to go on.

Object X hits object Y a particular way, and there is a physical rule which can describe the outcome, every time it might happen that precise way.  That rules exist, whether we understand them or not, is important to me.   There must be order;  if all this is random then I don't really find that funny at all.

What, was God drunk and decided to have a hoot n' holler  and make "random outcome universe", knowing full well his creations would try to figure it out, in abject futility, until it was over?  Sadist.

But why?  Why?  Demand a reason for the rules of behavior -- that implies some kind of justification of why it is that way.  Why, indeed.  Well why not.   It has to be some way, so why not how it is?  Just as long as the rule is the same tomorrow as it was 3 million years ago, I'm fine with that.  Maybe it can't work any other way.   I think the actual answer for "why" is probably way above any of our paygrades.   Enter God, I suppose.

We can't tell too well what's going on at the scale of the very, very small ... the muons and neutrinos and other hadrons bouncing about in that level of the universe.  Yes, this is a familiar feeling.  We can barely guess as what the rules really are, since we can't just reach in there and tinker with it at will.  We spend bazillions building ever more elaborate devices (LHC) to smash things apart, in hope to glean some further insight, however slight, in to the mysterious and unknown rules here.  In the end, well, we seem condemned to guess at it for all of eternity.   How depressing is that thought.

Perhaps we'll figure it out one day, possibly by the time all those monkeys with typewriters have finished their  Shakespearean sonnets, I suppose.

And so I look at my life, and I see that I don't understand the rules which are guiding it.  They must be there, and if only I knew them, I think I could get a handle on the course of things.  Change it for the better, or know to promptly give up -- that there is in fact no solution possible.   But here I sit, and know not do I whether there is an answer or oblivion.  It's hard to forge ahead with that realization firmly in mind.

Our laws of thermodynamics tell us that, well, it's all going to end badly, eventually.  There's no reason to hope otherwise (yet discovered).  Recycle all the aluminum and plastic you want, it's a lost cause.  The sun will burn out and explode.  The universe must ultimately come to a dark, motionless, and totally frozen state of thermal equilibrium.  Then's it's over, forever.

So if I put on a happy face tomorrow morning, and charge out of the bed with lofty and prodigious goals in mind, well who am I kidding?  Perhaps this is the day the Al Qaeda nuke goes off, and we're about to have chaos.  Perhaps it's not going to be a shitty day, and we'll squeak by for a little longer.  It's going to end badly eventually, so is it really worth the effort to hope for any better?

I guess not.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Iran Unveils Human-Like Robot

Yes, it's true - those wacky Iranians are at it again - this time, building robots, it seems.  Though at first glance, it appears to be a direct ripoff of Honda's robot ASIMO, this version surely has many innovations of its own.

read the report here

"Such robots are designed and developed to be used in sensitive and difficult jobs on behalf of a person or as help." according to the report.  I'm sure those "sensitive and difficult" jobs may include the expeditious delivery of suicide bombs, sans the human bomber.  Or perhaps these nifty robots could undertake the arduous task of building all those precarious smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza.  Robots certainly would be ideal to fully automate the next mass yeshiva-slaughter for hezbollah.

Since the visage of the robot is a fully sealed and opaque helmet and mask, no burqa  is required for female variants of the device.

I'm sure it's worth all the design effort that's gone into it.  I hear it can hate Jews continuously for eight hours without recharge, with up to 24 hours of standby time.  With an army of these things marching across the Golan from Syria, laden with chemical IEDs and nukes, Tel Aviv may face it's imminent doom sooner than we all thought, eh?


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Illinois Stops Paying Its Bills

It's just incredible -- but not surprising -- that Illinois' government is going bankrupt in a hurry.  Just like the boneheads in states with other major cities, they can't seem to wrap their brain around the problem at hand.  When the money runs out, you have to spend less.  And taking more from your citizens is just going to send them running away to other states.

Read the whole depressing article link here.