March 31, 2009

A Cat and His Bag

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Mt Redboubt Alaska

More here.

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March 30, 2009

Gentlemen: 3 Important Life Lessons For Us All

1 Panty raids are never a good idea.

2 It's never too late to back out of a bad decision ...until it is.

3 If you choose to ignore this advice it is best that you dress in such a manner that your corpse will maintain some minimum level of dignity.

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Accidental Q-Ship


A group of Somali Pirates attacked a tanker off the horn of Africa several hours ago. This would be sad but not remarkable as the piracy in the area has been bad for years and exploded in the last few months. However the tanker they attempted to board was the FGS Spessart, a German Navy supply ship.

...and so...

The German sailors returned fire and pursued the skiff while also calling in for support. Several naval ships — including a Greek and a Dutch frigate, a Spanish warship and the USS Boxer — sped to the area while a Spanish marine aircraft and two U.S. Marine Cobra helicopters joined the pursuit.
Five hours later, Greek sailors reached the pirate skiff, boarded it and seized the seven suspects and their weapons, including assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, the Greek navy said. The suspects were disarmed and transferred for questioning to the German frigate Rheinland-Pfalz where they remain Monday, pending a decision on whether they will be legally prosecuted, Christensen said.

Wasp, meet sledgehammer.
(Hat Tip: Information Dissemination)

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March 28, 2009

Virginia Beach Sakura Festival 2009

For a student of Japanese at ODU, the Virginia Beach Cherry Blossom Festival is sort of an annual requirement lest one get scowels on the following Monday. I had much to do today between work, family matters and studying but I was able to make it out to Red Wing Park in time to make the last hour or so.
For the first time In my experience, the festival was held on a day that was warm and rain free.

Not only that, but the Cherry Blossoms were actually in bloom during the festival for the first time ever in the 5 years they've been holding it.

Red Wing Park has a small Japanese garden in honor of Virginia Beach's sister city Miyazaki Japan.

Sadly the koi ponds are koi free....

...and there are no fireworks.
I must say that the attendance was surprisingly large. (These pics were taken as the festival was disbanding). Despite the mud (It's rained here for 5 days straight) the enthusiasm was high and many people decided to dress up for the festival in culturally appropriate attire...

...of various flavors.

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March 27, 2009

Bow Before the Power of Chlorophyll...And Coffee

Artist unknown
One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes(tm) brings us news of a couple of reported breakthroughs in the refining of fuel from Algae.

 First comes this story concerning a much improved refining process. What is described as a "continuously flowing fixed-bed" process allows a vast increase in efficiency and reportedly can be managed to produce no waste water. A big advantage of this method is that it uses a reusable catalyst rather than expendable reactants. Finally, as its name implies the process is...continuously flowing, which removes the "filling/emptying reaction tanks" stage and massively improves flow output. One of the developers  This comes on the heels of the sucsessful testing of a seawater algal oil farm in Florida. This produced a thousand gallons of refined ATSM certified biodiesel on an eight of an acre...though the time interval is not mentioned.  There is more on this here.
This is particularly big news as they not only were using seawater..but open ponds. 

 Getting this performance from a SEAWATER species in open ponds vastly increases the potential locations and at a stroke reduces the fresh water demands of such an industry.

Finally, a recent breakthrough in biodiesel from discarded coffe grounds may at first blush seem to be of limited utility (one would want to use already used coffee grounds to avoid displacing excessive amounts of forests or cropland for coffee beans) but it could possibly have a non trivial benefit.
You see, the Coffee diesel is reportedly much more stable than some other biodiesels so there exists the chance that it may have some utility as an organic additive. This last is speculation of course, but it bears investigation.

Hydrocarbons are very hard to replace for many mobile power applications (vehicles...especially aircraft) because they are so good as energy carriers. With that in mind, Brickmuppet Blog has been touting the advantages and potential of algal oil for some time as the potential energy density advantages over other oil crops are stupendous (300 percent or more). Unlike other oil crops it need not necessarily displace food acreage. It is very renewable, should not impose a severe environmental impact if properly managed and such farms can (in theory) do double duty in waste water treatment. With Nuclear power providing the refining and distribution energy we have the potential to have a clean, sustainable and damned robust energy network both electrical and liquid.

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March 26, 2009

Necessary Debunkery

Ugh! 2 politix posts in a row....

.... and this one has to stay above the fold due to the need to stamp out a bit of asshattery.

OK Kids, this will come as a shock to some of you but the President of the United States did not read the Irish PM's its entirety...thanking himself in the process.

The story seems to have begun with a rather muddled AP report.

More on this here. (Via The Instapundit)

Sad that we need the UK's Telegraph to put this to rest.

The Science Babes observe that it is sadder still that so many of us have to play cleanup for our own 2-didgits over this and stuff like the idiot birth certificate story.

I mean it's not like there are not real things to get upset about.

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March 24, 2009

Press Conference Two

An attempt at live blogging the presidents second press conference.
Has been moved where it belongs...below the fold.

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March 22, 2009

Oh Wow...

I have just got to see the punch line....

Update: All is explained.

I was so hoping for a zeppelin.

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That is Not a List....

..nor is the ship rolling.

That is the damage to the sail of USS Hartford  from here recent collision with USS New Orleans. There is a good discussion of this that includes informed opinion over at Bubbleheads place.

Scuttlebutt over there is that the submarine rolled over 80 degrees.
That is one tough boat.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 09:04 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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