Wednesday, February 25, 2009
One of the many odd moments of Gov. Bobby Jindal's "rebuttal" to President Obama's address to the nation last night, was his criticism of the stimulus bill allocating $140 million for "Volcano Monitoring". First of all (and we're getting used to this) the claim is inaccurate:
For an additional amount for ''Surveys, Investigations, and Research'', $140,000,000, for repair, construction and restoration of facilities; equipment replacement and upgrades including stream gages, and seismic and volcano monitoring systems; national map activities; and other critical deferred maintenance and improvement projects.
And we have to wonder just what the GOP has against volcano and seismic monitoring? Are they unaware that earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are a significant hazard in the United States? Does Jindal understand what stream gages are, and why a state at the end of the Mississippi River should care? Would he poke fun at spending for the National Hurricane Center? When this speech was being prepared, was there nobody in the room with enough brains to raise their hand and ask "Uh - aren't people going to ask if maybe volcanoes need to be monitored?".
It is not just some unlikely hypothetical disaster we're talking about. USGS volcano monitoring has already saved thousands of lives:
The USGS and PHIVOLCS estimate that their forecasts saved at least 5,000 lives and perhaps as many as 20,000. The people living in the lowlands around Mount Pinatubo were alerted to the impending eruption by the forecasts, and many fled to towns at safer distances from the volcano or took shelter in buildings with strong roofs. Additionally, more than 18,000 American servicemen and their dependents were evacuated from Clark Air Base prior to the June 15 eruption.
Perhaps the GOP believes that volcanic eruptions can be prevented by a prayer from Pat Robertson. Of better yet, throw a few virgins in the crater - just to prove that "abstinence works". Or maybe they think a volcano could be pacified with a big tax-cut.
This seems to be a continuing fad with Republican contempt for spending on scientific research and education. Senator McCain had his moment when he described a planetarium star projector as an "Overhead projector" and Governor Palin was unable grasp why fruit-fly research was important. I guess when your party is down to pandering to people who believe the universe is 6000 years old, you have to attack science at every opportunity.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
During the Cloverfield hype last year, Wired Magazine ran an article on how to destroy a 500-foot monster. The comments have some good suggestions - some people really know their weapons systems (and after all, it's what we're really good at). I'll go with air delivered bunker busters and would have probably tried 16-inch naval guns if the last Iowa class battleships had not been taken offline.
When the attack happens, here is what to expect:
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Some random unsolicited advice for villains, evil aliens, mad scientists, mutant monsters and the heroes who fight them.
Advice to Skynet:
Instead of sending back a slow-witted assassin robot with a 6502 for brains, t-mail a score of 10-megaton nukes spaced around the LA Basin. It's not like you're worried about altering history. Topless Robot has "10 Helpful Suggestions for Killing John Connor".
Advice for John Conner:
Watch "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and learn how to use a time machine properly.
Advice for Humans:
Once your computer virus has knocked out the force fields, don't screw around with F-18s and air-to-air missiles with wimpy warheads. A few hundred missiles with 50 pound warheads are not going to get the job done against city-destroyers that are 15 miles wide. Now is the time to pull out the low yield tactical nukes and finish the job before they finish rebooting whatever gawd-awful OS they are using. I think you should be way past worrying about collateral damage at this point.
Advice to Aliens:
You can download a free 90-day trial version of McAffee and conquer the Earth before it expires.
War Of the Worlds
Advice to Humans:
Hang out at Day Care Centers - it won't save you, but at least before a Martian eats or vaporizes you can sneeze on them with a full load.
Advice to Martians:
Eat your vegetables.
The Wizard of Oz
Advice to Wicked Witch of the West:
Replace that hour glass with an egg timer. And you really should care what the Flying monkeys do with the others.
Advice for Dorothy:
Don't go back to Kansas.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Previously, I posted about the Graveyard for the Covair B-36 Bombers. Feb 12, 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the last operational flight of a B-36.
I also found this video about the dismantling of the giant bombers:
Update - this was the last operational flight. B-36J AF Serial No. 52-2220, is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force (formerly The U.S. Air Force Museum) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. Its flight to the museum from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona on April 30, 1959 was the last flight of a B-36.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Here are two scenes from 1953's "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T".
It is best known for being the only feature film ever written by Theodor Seuss Geisel ("Dr. Seuss"), who was responsible for the story, screenplay, and lyrics.
The plot revolves around young Bart Collins, who lives with his widowed mother Heloise. The major blight on Bart's existence is the hated piano lessons he is forced to endure under the tutelage of the autocratic Dr. Terwilliker. Bart feels that his mother has fallen under Terwilliker's sinister influence, and gripes to visiting plumber August Zabladowski, without much result. While grimly hammering away at his lessons, Bart dozes off and enters a fantastical musical dream, in much the same fashion as The Wizard of Oz.
In the dream, Bart is trapped at the surreal Terwilliker Institute, where the piano teacher is now a madman dictator who has locked up all non-piano-playing musicians in a dungeon and constructed a piano so large that it requires Bart and 499 other enslaved boys (the aforementioned 5,000 fingers) in order to play it.
I think that in 1953, movie audiences simply weren't ready for anything even close to this.
Jaw dropping isn't it? I have to wonder how audiences reacted to that in 1953. My guess is that it was something like the scene in "The Producers" after the "Springtime for Hitler" number.
And then there is the memorable ride in the Dungeon Elevator:
Labels: Movie Scenes
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Feb 5 marks the 25th anniversary of the passing of legendary Mexican professional wrestler and film actor Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta, better known as El Santo
His wrestling career spanned nearly five decades, during which he became a folk hero and a symbol of justice for the common man through his appearances in comic books and movies.
Previously I posted the trailer for the classic Santo vs. The Martian Invasion. Here is the trailer for the equally astounding Santo vs. The Vampire Women (1962).