Saturday, March 21, 2009

Project Vulcan and Google Earth

The Vulcan Project quantifies North American fossil fuel carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at space and time scales much more precisely than before. While its announced purpose is " aid in quantification of the North American carbon budget, to support inverse estimation of carbon sources and sinks, and to support the demands posed by the launch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) scheduled for February 2009..." it also makes it easier for non-scientists to see what the heck is going on.

This has been made much easier due to combining the Vulcan data with Google Earth. This video shows an example:

You may want to get the Google Earth plugin yourself here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nordskogen Crown Photos

In my undergraduate years, instead of mundane activities such as studying and planning a future, I mostly read fiction, gamed and attended events in the Society for Creative Anachronism. Thus I am the man I am today ;-)

This photo is from the 1977 Crown Tourney in Nordskogen. Next to Syr Randy (myself) is Lady (later Baronness) Christianna della Septemtrionsylvia (later my first wife and first ex ... let the record reflect that she was very patient!)

This photo is part of a set of photos from that event, courtesy of Sir John of Bellwood, who recently contacted me on facebook.

It is pleasant to look back and smile!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Constuction Workers Demand Less Stimulus Pay!

Tuscumbia, Missouri - Construction workers at the first "shovel-ready" stimulus project (a bridge in Missouri) threw down their tools in disgust when they learned their efforts would only prolong the economic crisis.

"I thought working would be good for the economy because I could buy food for my family," growled a burly foreman, "Instead I learn that putting people to work is bad for the economy. That makes me mad!"

"Down with jobs!" shouted a front-loader operator. "Let the economy take its course. I'd rather sell my children than take government money to repair a bridge in my community!"

Professor Hack of the Chicago School of Economics explained,
"The Great Depression started in 1933 when FDR took a healthy economy, in which up to 70% of the workforce was employed, and ruined it by putting people to work. It didn't get better until a Republican president took over from Truman. Clearly the massive spending of the New Deal and World War Two were complete wastes."

At the job site, tools lay in the mud as workers stomped off enraged. "We want better returns on our derivative-backed security portfolio," they chanted in unison, "Infrastructure is for pansies!"
digg this story!

St. Patrick's Day: The O'Bama Song Returns!

C'mon folks, this was fun!
"There's No One As Irish As Barack O'Bama
Written by The Corrigan Brothers and Shay Black
O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama
From the old Blarney Stone to the green Hills of Tara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

You don't believe me, I hear you say
But Barack's as Irish as our own JFK
His granddaddy’s granddaddy came from Moneygall
A village in Offaly, well known to you all.

His mam’s daddy’s granddaddy was one Falmuth Kearney
He’s as Irish as any from the Lakes of Killarney
His mam’s from a long line of great Irish Mamma’s
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

Our Barack’s a hero, I’ve heard them say
Fenian to Kenyan, the American Way
He’s Cuchulainn, Liongo, not Vishnu or Brahma
But there’s no one as Irish as Barack O’Bama

A name is a name and there’s no doubt about it
Barack O’Bama’s name, you can shout it
Whether apostrophe or inverted comma
There’s no one as Irish as Barack O’Bama.

Now you Hillary supporters don't you vote for McCain
And the VP needs brains, so forget about Palin
With Cheney and Bush, they are all ignorama
There’s no one as Irish as Barack O’Bama

From Kerry and Cork to old Donegal
Let’s hear it for Barack, from old Moneygall
From the Lakes of Killarney to old Connemara
There’s no one as Irish as Barack O’Bama

Last Chorus:
Tooral - U, tooral - S, tooral - A, toor a lama
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama"

added verses
"2008 the white house is green,
They're cheering in Mayo and in Skibereen.
The Irish in Kenya, and in Yokahama,
Are cheering for President Barack O’Bama

O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

The Hockey Moms gone, and so is McCain
They are cheering in Texas and in Borrisokane,

In Moneygall town, the greatest of drama,
for our Famous president Barack O'Bama

Toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a lama
There's no one as Irish As Barack O'Bama

The great Stephen Neill, a great man of God,
He proved that Barack was from the Auld Sod
They came by bus and they came by car,
To celebrate Barack in Ollie Hayes’s Bar

O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama! "

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What I Learned About Myself thru Rapleaf

While checking out some bartering or swapping sites (inspired by "As economy slows down, bartering picks up steam" in today's Seattle Times), I came across the "Rapleaf" service, used by the "SwapThing" site to provide "reputation" information.

Curious about my "reputation" I signed onto Rapleaf, and soon discovered:
Name: r winn
Age: 52
Gender: Male
Location: Seattle, WA, US (map)
First Known Activity: Over 5 Years Ago
Latest Known Activity: 10 Minutes Ago
Number of Friends: 150

There followed direct links to my profile on several sites with more information that, frankly, was probably more useful. For example, clicking on the Facebook link revealed:
Randall E. Winn is a fan of:
Wallace and Gromit
Nicholas D. Kristof
Free Press
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
Roanoke Inn Tavern
Shaun the Sheep
Most of this information seems more-or-less truthy. I'm not sure about the map location, near Madison and 5th. The streetlevel photo was of a parking garage that I have walked by, although not recently.

So how does Rapleaf figure this out? According to its site:

Rapleaf Service

"Rapleaf allows you to discover, manage, and control your information so you may prevent others from abusing or misinterpreting your information. Rapleaf has searched your email address across the Internet at various social networks and other online communities. Rapleaf summarizes information from many sources to determine the most likely accurate information.
The information collected is publicly available and accessible with ordinary web browsers. The information shown on Rapleaf will not be disclosed to the general public. Because your information is publicly available on the Internet, individuals may find this information on their own.
Rapleaf works with businesses who already have an existing relationship with you. This may include business whose products or services you have used in the past.
Rapleaf allows businesses to better understand their consumers, such as you, in order to provide a more relevant user experience for you and add more value to their products and services.

Rapleaf will not sell, rent, or lease your email address."
That last line gave me a good laugh. Rapleaf will sell everything but your email address: what a relief!

The technology behind all this seems pretty straightforward to anyone who's ever down databases, and it seems pretty much inevitable. Heck, when I was working for the Massive Mutual Insurance Company, we were already crunching Way Too Much Information about people to facilitate selling them Way Too Much Insurance Coverage; the big difference is now that everyone can learn about you cheaply and easily. The democratization of snoopiness may or may not be a good thing but I don't see how it can be avoided.

I do take two important lessons from this:
  • Don't post your physical address anywhere on the internet, if you don't want people to know you live in a parking garage.
  • People are going to find out if you're a fan of Shaun the Sheep. So be proud of who you are!