Think you could be an election judge?

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2008/11/19_challenged_ballots/
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/news_cut/archive/2008/11/what_were_dealing_with_here.shtml
Take a look at some of these ballots, challenged during the recount of the Coleman-Franken-Barkley Senate race here. Could you be fair in all of these cases and determine voter intent every time without fail? Could anyone?

Minnesota Majority’s voter disenfranchisement plan

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/11/17/votercomplaints/
I like Minnesota’s attitude and laws that allow same day registration and encourage voter participation and turnout. Our state has one of the highest participation rates in the nation and with good reason. Is it perfect? No. Errors can and do occur.
So, then comes this from “Minnesota Majority”:
Spokesman Jeff Davis claims that same-day registration leads to errors, such as voters casting ballots in the wrong precinct. Davis says no one should be allowed to vote until their legal eligibility has been verified.
“We believe our current election system is making a mockery of eligible voters who try to follow the letter and sprit of the law. In doing so, the system is disenfranchising legitimate voters,” Davis said.

I don’t follow his logic. And I will not speak evil and say that the intent of this group and is to disenfranchise voters and discourage turnout, but rolling back Minnesota’s progressive policies in this regard to require a photo ID and to end same-day registration certainly will do that.

New Ice Age Predicted — But Averted by Global Warming?

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/11/081112-ice-age-global-warming.html
Deep ice sheets would cover much of the Northern Hemisphere thousands of years from now–if it weren’t for us pesky humans, a new study says.
Emissions of greenhouse gases–such as the carbon dioxide, or CO2, that comes from power plants and cars–are heating the atmosphere to such an extent that the next ice age, predicted to be the deepest in millions of years, may be postponed indefinitely (quick guide to the greenhouse effect).
“Climate skeptics could look at this and say, CO2 is good for us,” said study leader Thomas Crowley of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
~~
Basically, Crowley and company are suggesting that the Fallen Angels premise is correct–without the additional carbon dioxide from human activities, the Earth would be heading toward another Ice Age.

The final verdict on the I-35W Bridge Collapse

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/11/14/ntsb_day2/
The National Transportation Safety Board has closed its investigation into the I-35W bridge collapse. The board ruled that the gusset plates on the bridge were not designed properly and also found that MnDOT had not adequately overseen the bridge’s design.
The 35W bridge’s undersized gusset plates were staring bridge inspectors and engineers in the face for the 40 years of the bridge’s life. They inspected the bridge, watched it age and documented it with photos.
But inspectors weren’t trained to know that under-sized gussets posed a threat to the bridge. As NTSB Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker said, at the time, even computer modeling didn’t consider gusset plates.

Astronomers directly see a planet circling Fomalhaut

http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2008/39/
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has taken the first visible-light snapshot of a planet circling another star.
Estimated to be no more than three times Jupiter’s mass, the planet, called Fomalhaut b, orbits the bright southern star Fomalhaut, located 25 light-years away in the constellation Piscis Australis, or the “Southern Fish.”
Fomalhaut has been a candidate for planet hunting ever since an excess of dust was discovered around the star in the early 1980s by NASA’s Infrared Astronomy Satellite, IRAS.
In 2004, the coronagraph in the High Resolution Camera on Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys produced the first-ever resolved visible-light image of the region around Fomalhaut. It clearly showed a ring of protoplanetary debris approximately 21.5 billion miles across and having a sharp inner edge.
This large debris disk is similar to the Kuiper Belt, which encircles the solar system and contains a range of icy bodies from dust grains to objects the size of dwarf planets, such as Pluto.
Hubble astronomer Paul Kalas, of the University of California at Berkeley, and team members proposed in 2005 that the ring was being gravitationally modified by a planet lying between the star and the ring’s inner edge.
Circumstantial evidence came from Hubble’s confirmation that the ring is offset from the center of the star. The sharp inner edge of the ring is also consistent with the presence of a planet that gravitationally “shepherds” ring particles. Independent researchers have subsequently reached similar conclusions.
Now, Hubble has actually photographed a point source of light lying 1.8 billion miles inside the ring’s inner edge. The results are being reported in the November 14 issue of Science magazine.

Dead Parrot sketch joke origin discovered

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7725079.stm
Via my friend Theresa
You’ve heard of or know the basics of the Monty Python “Dead Parrot” sketch, I am sure, even if you haven’t seen it. A pet store owner sells a dead parrot to a naive customer, who then comes back demanding his money. Said pet store owner blithely comes up with outrageous explanations for the parrot’s state, denying that the parrot is in fact dead.
Well, it turns out the joke is old. Very old. It turns up in a recently translated group of jokes from 4th Century BC Ancient Greece, with a dead slave instead of a parrot.

The future of fiction. Novel versus Graphic Novel

http://www.lemodesittjr.com/blogs/blog/2008/11/future-of-fiction-its-meaning.html
On his blog, L.E. Modesitt discusses the future of fiction, and the decline of the standard novel in favor of graphic novels and Manga…

“The concern that I have about this shift is that reading, fiction in particular, requires the reader to construct a mental image of the setting and the events, rather than merely to observe and participate, as is the case for visually-based entertainment.”

Compare and contrast this to Jane Lindskold, who talks about graphic novels and manga in more positive terms in “The Shortcomings of Words”
Considering that Lindskold is younger than Modesitt, is this a generational thing? Which one of them is right?

Veteran’s Day


Today is Veterans Day.
I am the son of a WWII Veteran, the brother of a Veteran of operations concurrent with the First Gulf War.
War is hell. Wars are often, but not always, fought for the wrong reasons, or greedy reasons, or evil reasons. The American soldier in the trenches, however, does not start the war in which he is asked to fight. His (or her!) sacrifice, especially the final one, should be honored, even if his deployment or the reasons for his deployment should be abjured.
I remember all those who have fallen in defense of our country.