Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bonnie and Clyde...

are my two new German rams. To be specific, Bonnie is a gold ram, and Clyde is a German blue ram, but they are just color morphs of Mikrogeophagus Ramirezi. Pictures will come soon

As to why I am expanding my fish collection, I now have some extra fishy real estate to use. I upgraded from a ten gallon to a twenty long. My other fish have acclimated fairly well to the change, and both new rams are exploring and getting used to their new lives.

I bought some Cryptocoryne Lutea, banana plants, and, at something of a gamble, Madagascar Lace Plant. Hopefully the new tank works well. Pics to follow.

Naturally, in the crucial early stages of tank settling, what should happen but a series of brownouts. Power is staying put for now, but I could have a few problems if the storms get worse.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Results Please...

I have noticed several times recently that there seems to be a common disconnect among people between expectations and reality. While not evil to be naive, it starts to cross some lines when you attempt to pass judgement or render law based on said naivete. Here are a few cases recently where that became starkly apparent.

A couple is facing charges after their wolf-dog hybrid attacked and killed the woman's five year old disabled child. Wolves are top tier predators, and there is a limit to how much domesticated dogs even can control instinct. When a predator is faced with a juvenile, crippled prey animal, things will not go well for the prey, regardless of how thoroughly 'domesticated' the creature may seem. Placing ideal prey alongside a very dangerous animal is criminally negligent, as is affirmed by the judicial action.

There is a woman on the internet who wants to have a water birth. This in and of itself is not particularly odd, but the fact that she intends to have her koi assist in the process is. Any doctor, in fact anyone who has any biology background or even basic science background can tell you that this is a bad idea. Fish tanks are less than hygienic, shall we say. Add to this that Koi are omnivorous, and you end up with a really dangerous situation.

A woman walked into a pediatricians office wishing to discuss vaccine schedules for her child. Said doctor was fairly firm on the evidentially supported schedules, disregarding assorted alternative medicine ideas. This woman then gave a negative review to this doctor, complaining about a lack of compromise or dialogue. Vaccines are supported by science. They work, we know they work, and they prevent potentially lethal diseases. Yet this woman became upset that the doctor would not take the alternative theories over proven results.

I hope my readers agree that the people described above are not acting logically or reasonably. They have taken an emotional perspective not backed by any data and are attempting to apply it to points of reason and science. Apply that same idea to firearms law. Don't think about what it is supposed to do, don't think about how guns are scary, just think logically. Gun laws will not control criminal possession of firearms, as by definition criminals do not follow laws. Loosening of gun-control is nigh invariably followed by a decrease in violent crime. In the US places with the strictest gun control are frequently the most violent and dangerous. Waiting periods and mandatory classes don't have statistically significant impact on 'gun death.' Why then do people who would scoff at the first three examples do the same thing with guns? Be consistent, be logical, and be willing to think.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bad Science

Reading the news this morning, I stumbled upon an article at Fox talking about a recent sea level study padding it's data. They claim it is to compensate for changing topography resulting in an increased volume for the oceans to fill. If that is reflected in their publication, all well and good (it seems to be reflected in their site). It means they aren't studying sea level, but I don't mind that, unless people start using that artificial increase to indicate a danger to humanity. What bothered me was a line by Steve Merem, director of the University of Colorado Sea Level Research Group that is publishing these figures.

"For the layperson, this correction is a non-issue and certainly not newsworthy… [The] effect is tiny -- only 1 inch over 100 years, whereas we expect sea level to rise 2-4 feet."

The first thing that comes to mind with this statement is an incongruity. Here they are attempting to compensate in fractional millimeters, which they can say with certainty will result in an increase of about one inch over a century, yet they can't give a more specific prediction than 2-4 feet? That seems like a figure derived from very un-scientific methods.

That then leads me to my second complaint. He uses the word 'expect.' He is supposed to be a scientist, and from what I've been able to find on their website, the group is involved solely in collecting data, not making projections. Where then is he getting his expectations? It does not seem to be from the center's own work. He has preconceived notions of what is going to happen. I find that rather antithetical to good scientific thinking. Sure, everyone has things they are expecting to happen in an experiment, but that should not cloud your judgement and should not be used in support of your data.

A slap on the wrist to Steve Merem. Be a scientist please, not a shill.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gunnie Goodness

Few potentially interesting things happening in my gun-world. First, foremost and most interesting, I am hopefully going to be helping to teach two new shooters in the immediate future. (No, not at the same time. I'm not that kind of crazy.) One of them already has a firm foundation in rifle and shotgun, but lacks pistol. The other is a Tabula Rasa.

Dad has trained new shooters before, but this is my first time getting involved in it. We don't yet have a range space we can go to for training, but we've started going over the four rules and basic firearms lore and anatomy with the newbie. She is a little nervous about it, but is excited to learn. Once we're sure that she knows the theory of what she's doing, we'll start her off on .22, probably a rifle. I'm looking forward to this.

My personal firearms collection is slowly expanding. I now own two .22 rifles and a Mosin-Nagant that desperately needs firing. For that matter, so do the other two, but those are in the breaking in and dialing in process. The Mosin hasn't been fired since it left the re-arsenaling. Regrettably, in a factor tied to the lack of training facility, we also lack a good rifle range. Hopefully one is opening nearby soon, but it is taking longer than expected.

I am also after a new rifle, to fill the major hole in our home arsenal. We have no AR style rifle. The two major options are an entry level AR like the DPMS and a self-build. I quite frankly am inclined towards the self build. It suits my engineering tendencies, and means I get what I want. It's a bit of a daunting idea though, especially as I am about to go to college, and will want my money liquid. Hmph. Practicality strikes again.

On the political end of things, I am growing increasingly fed up with the Illinois restriction on carry. There was a bill introduced a while back for Open Carry, but that keeps getting held back because the political elite don't want to recognize a 60-40 lead in the polls for carry. It's not dead yet, and seems to be gaining ground slowly, but the fact that this is an issue in the first place makes me glad I'm moving to TX.

I'm moving to Dallas. Anyone know of good ranges in the area?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

History of Sail

It was a point of annoyance recently that I got to talking about the history of sail (a thoroughly fascinating topic, by the by) and absolutely no one cared. So, you , my loyal readers (if indeed you exist outside my twisted imaginations) get to hear about it instead. If you don't care about sails, skip towards the bottom where it may get interesting again.

Sails have existed for pretty much as long as we've had boats. Our earliest evidence of sails came from an archaeological dig in Kuwait, dating back to 55oo BC, which, for context, was roughly coincident with figuring out agriculture, and predating "history" by quite a margin. More substantial historical evidence comes from 4th Millennium BC in Egypt, where small boats would travel up and down the Nile, independent of the current.

Not much really changed after these single, square rigged boats up to the invention of the lateen, or triangular, sail sometime between 2000 and 500 BC by Arab sailors. Lateens were interesting because, as triangular sails, they provided much greater maneuverability and power, at the expense of controllability. This meant that lateens were ideal for calmer locations such as the Mediterranean or Arabian seas.

They fairly clearly evolved directly from square sails. Square sails provide thrust well only when the wind is directly to the rear. As such, when attempting to go at any angle to the wind, the simplest method is to angle the sails such that they remain square to the wind, and use rudders to change the course of the boat to where you want it. Clearly, this does not work well when attempting to travel perpendicularly to the wind. In that circumstance, reduced thrust may be gained by angling the sail partially into the wind. In order to retain tension, however, the boom must be angled down into the wind. This results roughly in a trapezoidal shape, as seen today in the lugsail. Simply extending this principle and removing the luff edge entirely, one is left with a triangular sail acting by vortex driven pressure differential allowing travel well into the wind.

For the next three thousand years, the single sailed ship with sail shape dependent on need (square for downwind travel or rough conditions and lateen for calm, upwind conditions) ruled. Ships were small and generally restricted to local, coastal travel, and tended to be difficult to run. The cog was an English invention that rather shook things up. A ship that could be crewed with an eighth of older styles, and carry twenty times the cargo, it provided the basis for the entire maritime revolution from the 13th to 18th centuries.

The subsequent developments are classic of increased understanding and money. The English wealth founded in the cog allowed for significant upgrades, most significantly in the final fusion of square and lateen sail in the full-rigger. These ships were primarily square riggers, with the addition of lateen derivatives such as jibs, spankers, and staysails. The net result of these developments were large ships that could carry anything and go anywhere.

The thing that made the wide-spread shipping and colonialism that has defined our modern age possible was of course, ships. Ships drove international trade, colonial expansion (both for the purposes of finding new markets and building more ships) and created the possibility of non-sustenance level agriculture. Sailing was primarily a yeoman's field, which increased their powers and wealth, eventually leading to the creation of the House of Commons, and providing some basis for American government. These yeomen were the first examples of a middle class. These ships in short provided the impetus for the creation of the modern world.

I had some fun writing this. It's a condensed and simplified version of a paper I wrote, but there are lots of other tidbits floating around in this brain. Let me know in comments if you liked this. I may keep doing it. I may even go over this again when it's not 12:30 in the morning.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Now what?

So, I went and graduated high school on Saturday. I now have two rooms worth of stuff in one room, trying to unpack, sort, etc. It seems slightly absurd, especially with the need to repack most of it to head down to Texas in a few months.

Already being at home seems a little odd, especially with the nagging feeling that I still need to go back to class in a few days. Also of annoyance is the bit where no one wants to hear about the history of sails anymore. It really is a fascinating topic. On that note, depending on whether I feel like it or not, this may be the site of some assorted ramblings about interesting (to me) topics. Whether or not I follow through remains to be seen.

The new range needs to open. I have a Mosin Nagant that desperately needs firing.

I may head over to the river soon to see whether it actually has fish in it. Here's hoping.

That's all for now. I have more time to post now, so y'all may here from me more often now. Maybe I can actually pull off daily posting for a month.