Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pre-Cambrian consensus

An interesting article in the NYTimes today on pre-cambrian animals
and geology. I remember from my freshman biology class the Cambrian
explosion, when all the different animals first appeared in the fossil record.
The NYTimes article shows how that record was changed, that now the
Ediacaran period has been added to the geologic timesscale before the
Cambrian, and some complex precambrian animals have been found.

The irony is the first discoverer of these animals submitted the information
to a conference and scientific journals, but was rejected.

Sprigg was excited by both the unusual appearance of the fossils and by their age, which he believed to be the beginning of the Cambrian, and made them the oldest animal forms yet seen. But despite their potential importance, Sprigg’s discoveries were ignored at an international geology meeting and his paper describing the fossils was rejected by the leading journal, . Sprigg moved on to other, more rewarding pursuits in the oil, gas, and mining industries.

This is the way that science should work, new physical information should eventually
cause the theories to be rewritten. What shouldn't happen is a consensus view should
prevent the collection of new information for 50 years. Even something that is very proven, such
as geological history can be updated with bette information. I don't think the NYtimes
noticed the irony, their normal website is all global warming, all the time.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Vacation - Napoli and Sorrento

We went to Napoli
and sorrento on
vacation last week,
and we got to see
Pompeii, Capri
and the Amalfi

[view of Vesuvius
from Sorrento]

It's too hot in southern Italy to actually go outside during July, but we did anyway
leading to our visit to Pompeii being like the bataan death march.

We stayed a few days in Napoli, (best pizza in Italy) then moved down
the coast to Sorrento taking a hydrofoil across the bay. The hotel in Sorrento
was the Plaza that has a rooftop pool. I'd like a service that could pick you up
by helicopter in Pompei and just fly back and drop you in that pool.

Unfortunately there's no service yet, so we took the CircumVesuviano train
back around to Sorrento, which is a pretty hot dust covered crowd leaving
Pompei. Luckily the Plaza is only about 2 blocks from the station, so we were
safely submerged in cool water 15 minutes after getting back.

The key to getting the best experience out of Pompeii is to go to the Archealogical
museum in Napoli first. Our bad luck there was a strike or some protest
that meant it was open, but we'd have to cross a crowd of angry napolitanos to
get in; no thanks. Most of the best mosaics and casts of people killed in Pompeii
were there.

Also I didn't get up to Herculanum and Vesuvius itself. I figure that next time
we come back it will still be here. After our vacation in NYC in August 2001 I
thought we'd have another chance to go to the WTC and go up to the roof, since
it was rained out when we went. But no. In this case we should be pretty safe
that no jerkwad is going to fly a plane into mount Vesuvius (they are welcome to
try though) so we'll go back some day to Napoli to eat the excellent deserts and
go to the museum and up to the volcano.

2012 - Spoilers

[Spoilers ahead, don't read if you haven't seen the movie]

I watched 2012 last night in HD and the movie did have some
fantastic effects, sort of like a giant chase scene with the Earth
in the pursuit role. I thought the plot was similar to deep impact
and day after tomorrow, but the actions of the government officials
were dumber and more venal.

If the big risk is giant tsunamis, and the solution is to build giant Arks
on mountains, why outsource building of ships in the mountains of Tibet
to the chinses? why would the chinese take our money, build the ships
and then not say "screw off" when the disaster happens. And charging
people 1Billion euros for a ticket seems pretty bs too, if I had several billion
dollars I could build a pretty kick-ass submarine for me and my friends
(ok, it could be a pretty small submarine).

But on the gripping hand, our normal government officials are pretty dumb
and pretty venal, and if there is some looming disaster that they know about
and we don't, we're pretty screwed. The government is just stupid enough
to fill the Arks with a bunch of 70 year old politicians and just male soldiers.
So I guess the movie was a true representation of what is likely. Doh.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blues under the tuscan sun

I made the last night
of the Pistoia blues festival yesterday
and i finally got to see Robert Cray live.
A really exelllent show, 5 hours of non-stop
blues. Robert Cray and Jimmy Vauhan both
got a little more than an hour, and
Bob put on a show that demonstrated
why he had top billing.

The Italian blues singers were excellent
too, singing in perfect southern
bluesy english, then speaking in italian
sounded pretty weired. Frencesco
Piu was the best blues singer, just one
man with an acoustic guitar, but he only
had 3 songs.

oh well, back to emilia romagna.

Updated back home, added pictures, links.

The other group that played that has a really big future is Cedric Burnside and
Lightnin' Malcolm from Holly Creek Mississippi. Just a Drummer and lead guitar
and they both sang, but they really tore the heck out of their instruments.