Friday, July 25, 2014

Healthy Eating

Eating is an essential part of living, and we enjoy food. The choices for most people are huge. The key question is not what is natural, evolutionary-wise, for your body, but what will get you to a healthy 100.

We have evolved to live long enough to pass on our genes, raise viable offspring, and not be a burden on the group. Living in the modern, artificial world, we are able to circumvent the age 30 ceiling.

It is a big personal experiment; the information from research keeps changing.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

An incident in the Moscow metro

It was winter in Moscow.  We were travelling north on the subway on the green line towards Dinamo station.

We may have been the only non-natives on the train, there are few tourist at this time of year. The train pulled into station and stopped, the voice came over the intercom in Russian, and everyone got off, so we did to.

Everyone waited, in absolute silence. Here we were deep underground, and no one said a word.  The Russians sat there patiently, perhaps resigned, mute.  Anywhere else in the world there would have been chatter, in whatever language, complaining, curious, moving around, fidgeting, doing things.

After a while an empty train arrived and people got on and we continued, and got off at Dinamo.

US Embassies in Iraq and Jordan

Part of the Baghdad embassy 
Why does the USA have a giant Embassy, in the green zone, in Iraq? They already have an over sized one nearby in Amman, Jordan.  Seems like mission creep. Perhaps we could sell it to the Iraqis as a university campus. Most of the money is lost anyway, and it costs a fortune to own and keep running.

No photos are allowed of the Amman Embassy
In Amman, you can drive past the US Embassy. Our guide said, very emphatically, to not take, and even think about taking, a picture of the embassy. He had been delayed there before for an hour, as someone had thought they could take pictures undetected.  The bus was stopped, the US security personnel entered, and knew exactly who had taken the picture and where they were on the bus. The took the camera removed the card, and any other recording medium, returned the camera, and left.

However there are pictures on the web, and Google Earth. No Google Street View yet.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Magna Carta

How do you create an exhibit for a single piece of paper, strictly a priceless piece of velum?

Find out. Currently the Houston Science Museum are exhibiting the 3.0 version of the Magna Carta, created 1217, on loan from Hereford Cathedral.  It is written in a tight Medieval Latin script, and in excellent condition. Sometime in the last 800 years it has been folded, reflecting how less important it was perceived at one time.

Version 1.0 (61 clauses) was sealed, but not signed, by King John at Runnymede in 1215, under duress, to limit his powers. The document was valid for only three months, but fortunately but sadly, King John quickly died at the age of 49.

In 1216 King John's nine year old son Henry becomes king, and version 2.0 was issued (42 clauses).

Version 3.0 was issued in 1217 (47 clauses) distributed to many regions but only four copies still exist

Version 4.0 was issued in 1225 (37 causes) became the first version to enter English law

Version 5.0 was issued in 1297 (37 clauses) remains in 'force' in England Wales today, although most articles are not longer valid.

And best clause that survives today:

"No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled . nor will we proceed with force against him . except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Azolla event

Global warming is resetting the climate back to the pre-iceage norm.

The current CO2 level is close to 400 ppm; it has been steadily increasing.  It stood at only 320 in 1965.

Before 50 million years ago the world was much warmer, and the CO2 level was at, maybe, 2000 ppm. In the early Eocene, over a short period of time, 800,000 years, the CO2 level dropped to only 650 ppm. A huge mass of carbon was removed from the atmosphere.

During the Eocene the Arctic was unfrozen.  The movement of plates almost closed off the Arctic waters, and there is evidence of Azolla blooms. Azolla is floating aquatic fern able to extract atmospheric nitrogen. During the long cool summers it bloomed, died, and the organic matter settled on the sea floor and was then sequestered by sediments from the rivers flowing into the Arctic. The carbon transfer continued until it got too cool for Azolla to grow.

  • The current rate of increase of CO2 is 1.5 ppm per year
  • During the Azolla event, the rate of decrease was 0.0012 ppm per year

In 90 years we will be back to the Eocene!

Monday, July 7, 2014


Opossums are curious marsupials; to some people nasty scary creatures. A friend of ours had one living under their house, and after trapping it, this person intended to let it go, to give the Opossum its freedom in the countryside.

But somehow they found themselves outside the home of their previous employee, who had fired them unfairly, and somehow the Opossum was released and scurried away.

A fellow creature used in a good cause.

Early Morning Mist

Light refracted by the early morning mist droplets, a triple rainbow.  As always, the color looked more intense and distinct than the mindless camera.