Friday, February 19, 2010

Seen around and about... 

[] How not to help Haiti. Also: as it happened, the aid rushed to help victims of the 2004 South Asian tsunamis exceeded the damage caused by them by $4 billion, 30%. William Easterly's blog is always worth reading.

[] Are we all just holograms?

The holograms you find on credit cards and banknotes are etched on two-dimensional plastic films. When light bounces off them, it recreates the appearance of a 3D image.

In the 1990s physicists ... suggested that the same principle might apply to the universe as a whole. Our everyday experience might itself be a holographic projection of physical processes that take place on a distant, 2D surface.

The "holographic principle" challenges our sensibilities. It seems hard to believe that you woke up, brushed your teeth and are reading this article because of something happening on the boundary of the universe.... [New Scientist]
Well, the next time someone accuses me of lacking depth, it'll be "right back at you!"

[] What's too crooked even for a New York City politician? Having taxpayers reimburse you $177 for a bagel.
... an exercise in bagel-nomics was necessary and noteworthy on Wednesday, the day after Councilman Larry B. Seabrook was charged with money laundering, extortion and fraud.

Among the items in the 13-count federal indictment was the curious case of the $177 bagel sandwich and soda. Mr. Seabrook, a Bronx Democrat and former assemblyman and former state senator, bought a bagel sandwich and diet soda for $7 one day and submitted a doctored receipt that inflated the cost to $177, according to the indictment...
What's the most expensive legit bagel in the city he could have lunched on at taxpayer expense?
At the Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue, where the city’s power brokers eat their power breakfasts, the most you can spend on a bagel is $28, for a toasted H & H bagel with smoked salmon, tomato, red onion and cream cheese... [NY Times]
Larry should have stopped there. "When a pig becomes a hog it gets slaughtered".

[] Outlook on climate change: Foggy. Roger Pielke Jr. points us to an example of how for some people all facts, no matter how contradictory, must have the same cause.
Declining fog cover on California's coast could leave the state's famous redwoods high and dry, a new study says.

Among the tallest and longest-lived trees on Earth, redwoods depend on summertime's moisture-rich fog to replenish their water reserves.

But climate change may be reducing this crucial fog cover ...[by] contributing to a decline in a high-pressure climatic system that usually "pinches itself" against the coast, creating fog, said study co-author James Johnstone, an environmental scientist at the University of California, Berkeley... [National Geographic]
Versus ...
The Bay Area just had its foggiest May in 50 years. And thanks to global warming, it's about to get even foggier. That's the conclusion of several state researchers...

"There'll be winners and losers," says Robert Bornstein, a meteorology professor at San Jose State University. "Global warming is warming the interior part of California, but it leads to a reverse reaction of more fog along the coast." ... [S.F. Chronicle]
More fog is consistent with predictions of climate change. Less fog is consistent with predictions of climate change. I wonder if the same amount of fog is also "consistent with" such predictions? I bet so.