Knowing When To Hold My Tongue

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Posted on : 4/14/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

I think I am a reasonably bright guy.  But I also think that I generally know when I am in the company of people that are truly gifted. This is such at time.

A collection of former astronauts and the NASA employees that put them in space have signed an open letter calling on NASA to stop endorsing/encouraging opinions that suggest that we are on the cusp of catastrophic global warming. 

As former NASA employees, we feel that NASA’s advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate. We request that NASA refrain from including unproven and unsupported remarks in its future releases and websites on this subject. At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA’s current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself.
The letter is longer, but the above gets right to the point.  Climatology has been inhabited by pseudo-scientists for far too long.  The computer models that such folks have developed have invariably predicted temperature changes that have far exceed reality.

Traditional scientists would have sought to adjust their theories...as expressed by their models...to fit the facts.  The more extreme and vocal climatologists do not follow such a traditional scientific method.

The former astronauts and NASA employees do not say that global warming isn't happening.  They do not say that CO2 isn't a factor.  They do not say that humanity isn't responsible.

They are saying that process of studying the climate has deviated from the strong scientific basis that used to be the hallmark of NASA endeavors.

I Am Tempted To Post This Once A Day

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Posted on : 4/13/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In :

...until we elect a Congress capable of limiting spending until the deficit is eliminated.

And to respond to the query before it is offered, we can't afford to pay more than 20% of GDP without crippling our economy worse than it already is.  So..no new taxes.

Healthcare Denied

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Posted on : 4/12/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

When you hear that people are concerned about government health care systems denying coverage to patients, understand that there is a rational basis for that concern.

When Kenneth Warden was diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer, his hospital consultant sent him home to die, ruling that at 78 he was too old to treat.

Even the palliative surgery or chemotherapy that could have eased his distressing symptoms were declared off-limits because of his age.
So we are just talking about one case, right?  It has to be an outlier, right?
This kind of ‘professional opinion’ appears to be costing more than 14,000 lives each year, thanks to routine discrimination by doctors who assume older patients are too frail for surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy. 

This is according to experts at Macmillan Cancer Support, who warned last week that every day up to 40 elderly cancer sufferers are dying needlessly because they are being denied the best treatments. This is particularly true, it says, for patients over the age of 70.

The charity estimates that if the treatment of older patients matched that on offer in the U.S., as many as 14,000 lives could be saved every year.
Nope.  There are rational reasons for not granting government any more power over our lives than it already has.

Josh - Quilt #7

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Posted on : 4/11/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In :

I believe this gets me pretty well caught up with respect to getting all of my quilts migrated from the old blog to this one.  Enjoy!

My beloved bride and I have had the occasion to travel to Battle Creek from time to time over the last couple of years. That city isn't one of our usual destinations, but time changes.

While visiting Cereal City, we poked our noses into the usual collection of stores and found a couple that sold fabric. I realize this must be a shocking development in my tale.

We found this black and white checkerboard.....or is that chequerboard...pattern at one store and I grabbed several yards of it. I didn't know what I was going to do with it, but I grabbed it nonetheless. As you can see, the lines for the checkerboard do not run parallel or perpendicular. The pattern sort of looks like someone dipped their fingers into the wet pattern and moved things around just a bit before the colors dried.


For a while I was playing around with a tessellation quilt pattern. M.C. Escher happens to be one of my favorite artists. He experimented heavily in tessellation patterns using wood block printing techniques as well as the usual ink and/or painting modes. You can learn quite a bit about M.C. Escher and see many tessellations here.

I was going to use pattern called Tessellating Stars by Gyleen Fitzgerald. You can see the general pattern here.

The trick I was going to pull on that pattern was to start with all of the stars being white at one end of the quilt and all of the stars at the other end being black. Then I was going to fade the entire thing from white to black...or vice versa for the contrarians among us....by randomly changing the blocks in each star from white to black. I thought that the checkerboard pattern might make that process more interesting.

As my 3.87 regular readers can attest, I've been working on other quilts and thus didn't really have to commit to anything for some time. But then Shane's quilt was finished and I was ready to start something new.

At about the same time, I found a different tessellating pattern. The pattern named "Under the Sea" was originally developed by Sandi Irish. My well seasoned quilting lady-friends tell me that the other name for the pattern is "snail". Her design started with one fabric in the middle with the colors gradually shifting with each concentric ring. The example in the Fons and Porter magazine I was working from used a type of fabric known as batik. The fabric looks a bit like someone put droplets of water on the colors that caused the colors to run or fade like a watercolor. You can see some examples of batiks here.

The finished quilt by Ms. Irish looked like this:

Sadly, my link to a photo of Ms. Irish's work has gone dark.  However, you can read the entire article and see her quilt in this electronic version of the magazine.

Instead of using so many colors with such a gradual color shift, I decided to be bold. If one can be bold with only two colors in the entire quilt.

My version of the quilt is below. Click for a larger view.


The interesting thing about this pattern is how it appears to spill out over the border at each corner. In reality, the border runs underneath those corner pieces that are instead sewn into position as appliqués. I usually detest appliqué work. But I put up with it this time. Here is a larger view of the corner pieces. Click for a larger view.


This quilt goes to our youngest son, Josh. Although he may have to wait until after the county fair is over. I might enter this one just for kicks.

The Thinnest Of Threads

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Posted on : 4/10/2012 09:02:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

Makes this illusion possible.  Located at the BMW museum.

Climate Change - Microdata Edition

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Posted on : 4/10/2012 01:18:00 PM | By : Dann | In :

The news has been filled with reports about how March 2012 was the warmest on record since 1895 or some such thing.

For the record.  It is snowing in southern Michigan right now.  At noon.  Our long term average high is north of 50 degrees F.

And it is snowing in southern Michigan right now.  Brrrrrrr!!

Also for the record, I don't think an April snow indicates anything further than the current temperature.  It certainly is not enough of a trend upon which one might hang their scientific hat.  But I think the same thing about our admittedly warmer than usual March, too.

Into The Great Beyond

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Posted on : 4/09/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

Ion propulsion systems have long been a technological daydream.  But now, they may the future of space exploration.

Ultimately (and not too far in the future) the same concept could reduce the cost of trips beyond the moon. Slow electric tankers could go ahead of human missions to Mars or asteroids, dramatically reducing the amount of propellant needed to launch crews to those destinations. Eventually, propellants could be manufactured on-site (for example, manufacturing methane and liquid oxygen from the Martian atmosphere). But early propellant caches could create an "interplanetary highway system," similar to the gas stations that allow the terrestrial interstate system to function—and hasten the day that travel throughout the inner and outer solar system becomes routine.

Freedom Works....

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Posted on : 4/08/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

....each and every time it is tried.

That is particularly true when one considers the impact of freedom...including free market economics...on the percentage of people living in poverty.  A small hint: the more freedom there is, the fewer people living in poverty.

"Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per-capita GDP of $31,501 in 2009, compared to $4,545 for those nations in the bottom quartile," says Cato. The rate of extreme poverty is 2.7 percent in the top quartile and 41 percent in the bottom one.

Among many people a generation ago -- and among a few today -- free markets and private property were seen as the cause of poverty. But the number of adherents has dwindled in the face of repeated refutation.

The latest cover story in The Economist magazine is: "Cuba hurtles toward capitalism." Cuba! Even communists eventually have to make peace with reality.