Monday, August 21, 2006

Sentential Links #62

I know these are appearing fairly late in the day, but it's awful nice outside. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. Anyhow, here are this week's links:

:: Here we are near the end of August without a single hurricane to date because, as we're told, the surface waters of the Atlantic have cooled. What do you want to bet that someone will soon blame those cool waters on those melting glaciers. (Well, they could try to say that, but they'd be crazy because Greenland is too far north for its melting glaciers to significantly cool the waters of the tropical Atlantic. What's alarming about the melting of Greenland's glaciers isn't so much the amount of cold water entering the Atlantic but rather the simple amount of water entering the ocean anywhere, raising sea levels, and additionally, that much fresh water entering the Atlantic at that point. A serious shift in the salinity of the North Atlantic could disrupt major ocean currents like the Gulf Stream, and that would be disastrous for Europe. What Craig's referring to in his post is a new Danish study that suggests that Greenland's glaciers have been melting for a very long time, over a century in fact, which would somehow negate the idea that it's all due to global warming. Maybe so, but everything I've read -- here's an example from just the other day -- suggests that the problem isn't that Greenland's glaciers are melting at all, but that they're melting significantly faster than ever before. Which, in fact, is something the Danish scientists even come out and say at the end of the news article I link above, so how does this news article justify suggesting that maybe Greenland's icemelt has nothing to do with global warming? Here's part of the danger of having an increasingly scientifically illiterate society: some of these scientifically illiterate folks become reporters.)

:: In the real world, one of the jobs responsible people assume is that of fixing (as best they can) the screw-ups they cause in spite of their best efforts to avoid them. You never, ever see a Rand hero in that position. (Do you? Somebody tell me if I'm wrong.) It is that unreality that, more than anything else, bugs me about Rand's fiction. (That fits in with my recent post on why I'm neither Libertarian nor Objectivist. I've always been mystified at the near-worship Ayn Rand's writings inspire, because, like Fred, I don't see that she's anything other than a terrible observer of the human condition.)

:: I've spent nearly twenty years trying to make the point that fantasy can be as important as any other form of literature. (That's from an interview with Guy Gavriel Kay.)

:: My husband made me cry. (OK, that's the post's title and not a sentence from the post. Who cares. And making a woman cry? What a jerk!)

:: Why do I eat fried hotdog sandwiches, but I don’t eat Spam?

:: This relatively northerly position would normally weight against the location of a spaceport in Cape Breton, since the farther a rocket is from the equator the more fuel it takes to overcome the Earth's pull and reach orbit with a given mass: The Kennedy Space Center in Florida or the French/European Centre Spatial Guyanais in French Guiana have decided advantages. (OK, I need someone to explain this to me. Isn't Earth's gravitational pull equal in all directions? Why would it take more rocket fuel to launch from a more northern location? I'm genuinely baffled here.)

:: [If you're German, you might want to bail out now before I make fun of your language.] (Oh, fun with the German language! Cool!)

:: L is the first and twenty-sixth letter in this sentence.

Enough for now. More next week.


Jayme Lynn Blaschke said...

That's because the Earth's angular momentum (rotational velocity) is higher at the equator and decreases the higher the lattitude. That velocity is added to any rocket lifting off, thus reducing the total amount of thrust needed to reach orbit. A point on the equator, literally, is moving much faster than a point on the arctic circle. A pretty cool description of this effect on a high-gravity world can be found in Hal Clement's MISSION OF GRAVITY.

Anonymous said...

What he said! ;)

Jen14221 said...

Um, do you REALLY eat fried hotdog sanwiches?