I drove home for lunch through a rare Seattle whiteout. Here you see teh kitteh watching the winter wonderland compile outside, while I called work and explained that between the rapidly-worsening road conditions and my cramps, I wasn’t coming back for the evening. Then we sat and enjoyed the fruits of living in a convergence zone, ably explained by our own Dan McShane:
The Convergence Zone is a local northern Puget Sound weather phenomenon where air moving up from the south through the Puget lowlands encounters air wrapping around the Olympic Mountains from the north. The collision causes uplift and a band of rain, or if cold enough, snow. The CZ is a narrow band of cloudy weather and heavy precipitation well known to western Washington weather junkies.
Due to ongoing cramps, elegant segues from local snowstorms to New Zealand’s hugely destructive earthquake are not in the offing. Boston.com’s The Big Picture has amazing images of the quake’s aftermath. Chris Rowan’s been regularly updating his original post, and has a new one up about seismic lensing:
Even taking into account how close the rupture point of Tuesday’s earthquake was to Christchurch, the intensity of the shaking – and the amount of damage that the city suffered as a consequence – seems to be very high for a magnitude 6.3 earthquake. The fact that the city is built on soft sediments that amplify shaking is an obvious factor here, but an article in the New Zealand Herald raises the possibility that geological structures in the region may have acted as a ‘seismic lens’, focussing the seismic energy released in the earthquake towards Christchurch.
Poor Christchurch. Seems like nothing was going her way last Tuesday. Evelyn at Georneys made the following observation:
With at least 75 people dead and extensive damage throughout the city of Christchurch, the toll of the recent New Zealand earthquake is already a heavy one. A number of factors contributed to make this earthquake so deadly– the magnitude, the closeness of the epicenter to Christchurch, the shallowness of the epicenter, the time of day, and the fact that much damage from the September 2010 Christchurch earthquake had yet to be repaired. The death toll and damage caused by the recent earthquake in first world New Zealand is nothing like what occurs when large earthquakes hit third world countries, such as Haiti in January 2010, but for a first world country the destruction is fairly high.
We’re all vulnerable. Some more than others.
Now for our next choppy segue: on with los links.
Friday fold: Jefferson River Canyon: “Most of the view is taken up by a large overturned syncline, with an axial plane that dips steeply to the west. At the far left are the Mississippian-aged Madison Group limestones, topped with upper Mississippian Big Snowy Group (more limestones), then the Amsden Formation (orange siltstone and sandstone from the Pennsylvanian), the Quadrant Formation (a Pennsylvanian quartz sandstone), the Permian phosphatic Phosphoria Phormation, and and youngest of all, the Morrison Formation, which is Jurassic. In the area of the Jefferson River Canyon, the strata are tightly folded around the Morrison. Finally, at the far right of the view, we see the abrupt appearance of the LaHood Conglomerate, part of the Mesoproterozoic Belt Supergroup. The contact here is a thrust fault.” (Mountain Beltway)
The GOP comes out of the closet: “But I actually think the GOP is doing us a favor. Instead of posturing and sending mixed message about caring for the people while passing laws that say otherwise, they are coming right out and wearing the fucking t-shirt. If you’re poor, female, care about your health or that of the land, or are in any way uninterested in making rich white dudes more rich, you can go to hell.” (The Spandrel Shop)
Sunday Photo(s): “Earlier this week Dana Hunter published some photos of Juanita Park in winter. I thought it would be fun to contrast those, plus a couple of mine, with what things look like there in Summer.” (Slobber and Spittle)
the evil of either/or : “When I turned off my shower water this morning I heard water running in the bathroom sink. I didn’t remember turning the water on, but it was on. There are only two possible explanations. The spirit of a dead human turned the water on (a ghost!), or the plumbing has come to life and has a will of its own.” (Dangblog)
How regulation came to be: Filling it up with Ethyl: “There was a small potential pitfall with using tetraethyl lead (TEL) to reduce knock — lead has been known since ancient times to be toxic to humans. It did not take long for this drawback to become manifest.” (dsteffen)
Death Valley Days: The First Day – Racing the Wind (and the torrential downpours): “First stop was in Neogene marine sediments at the south end of the Great Valley, which included an introduction to field geology and the idea of formations and environments of deposition (our students are mostly seeing geology in the field for the first time). How do you know a layer is marine? One clue is in the hand of the student above: fossils! Somehow, unsurprisingly, a place called Sharktooth Hill yielded up shark teeth (and a few fragments of seagoing mammals).” (Geotripper)
Ancestor Worship: “Despite the wonderful discoveries made in Africa over the past decade, there is still much we don’t know about the earliest humans. Even pinpointing what characteristics identify the earliest humans has become a challenge. All of the contenders for ‘earliest known human’ have been heavily criticized, and there has been little resolution as to what they actually are. (Laelaps)
The scientist-journalist divide: what can we learn from each other?: “Scientists can definitely learn a thing or two about communication from science journalists. I don’t want to transform my manuscripts into text that reads like journalism, because the two forms of writing serve very different purposes for very different audiences. But reading good science writing online and practicing my own writing here have immeasurably improved my consideration of word choices, sentence structure, the value of an engaging first paragraph (or lede), and sense of narrative arc. I think these skills are carrying over from blogging into my manuscript and grant writing, my interactions with graduate student writing, and even my teaching. Maybe I’ll start asking my students to read both primary papers and the accompanying feature stories, so that they might absorb some writing skills from their reading assignments. So my unsolicited advice to fellow scientists is: ‘If you want to write better, start by carefully reading good writing.’” (Highly Allochthonous)
GA Rep. Seeks to Criminalize Unauthorized Vaginal Bleeding: “The bill would also more or less suspend the presumption of innocence to women who lose pregnancies. If a woman failed to carry a pregnancy to term, in accordance with her divinely ordained role, the onus would be on her to satisfy the state that she didn’t deliberately kill it.” (Focal Point)
Meet Diania the walking cactus, an early cousin of life’s great winners: “Around 520 million years ago, a walking cactus roamed the Earth. Its body had nine segments, each bearing a pair of armour-plated legs, covered in thorns. It was an animal, but one that looked more like the concoction of a bad fantasy artist. Jianni Liu from Northwest University in Xi’an discovered this bundle of spines and named it Diania cactiformis – the ‘walking cactus from Yunnan’. And she thinks that it sits at the roots of the most successful group of animals on the planet. (Not Exactly Rocket Science) And while you’re there, don’t miss Is crime a virus or a beast? How metaphors shape our thoughts and decisions.)
Spencer Hot Springs, Then and Now: “In 1981, two geologists from Northern Exploration Company — one contract geologist and one summer temp — wrote a poem commemorating the company, the mineral exploration we were doing, some of the key players, and the hot springs itself. They used nicknames when they referred to any of the head honchos, signed their names cryptically, and dated their contribution to the cabin wall. Within a few months to a year, the red-paint people had crossed out one of the NEC geologist’s nicknames, ‘Asshole,’ because it was on their list of bad words. I doubt
they knew, or would have cared, that it was an appropriate and self-chosen nickname: he wore a baseball cap and carried a coffee cup with that name, and lived up to his designation admirably. (Looking for Detachment)
The Saga of the Scientific Swindler! (1884-1891): “In the 1880s, a fascinating chain of letters appeared in the magazine Science and in other publications, including the New York Times. The scientific community was being victimized by a clever confidence man, who was working his way into members’ trust and then stealing from them. The exploits span at least 7 years and stretch over much of the United States. Most surprising about it, however, is that the con artist was so successful because he was apparently trained as one of their own.” (Skulls in the Stars)
Anthropocentrism: All of God’s Special Little Snowflakes: “My little boy is far too young to understand this, so my response was a visit to the new Africa exhibit at the zoo. My overly-cautious little one looked on as I stood inches away from a chimpanzee, separated only by a pane of glass. The chimpanzee put his hand up to the glass. I held mine up to meet his. His eyes met mine and we considered one another. In absolute awe (and yes, a little choked up), I looked back at my tiny son as if to say, ‘See. Not so different.'” (Pharyngula)
Shock Doctrine, U.S.A.: “Here’s a thought: maybe Madison, Wis., isn’t Cairo after all. Maybe it’s Baghdad — specifically, Baghdad in 2003, when the Bush administration put Iraq under the rule of officials chosen for loyalty and political reliability rather than experience and competence.” (Paul Krugman)
Religious Grab Bag for a Thursday Morning — or: How to believe in the teeth of the evidence and have people think you really know: “The news never disappoints. Every morning when I wake up I tour a number of online newspapers. My internet homepage is aldaily.com, managed by the Chronicle of Higher Education. I start with the Globe and Mail and then work down, through the Guardian, Indpendent, Telegraph, National Post and New York Times. Life is short: I can’t do them all. Every morning, without fail, there is some religious madness or other.” (Choice in Dying)
Expanding ‘Justifiable Homicide’ Efforts: “For all the ridiculous paranoia on the right about creeping ‘sharia law,’ there are now multiple state proposals, published by Republicans, to make it legal to assassinate medical professionals as part of a larger culture war.” (The Washington Monthly)