Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Nudibranch Blogging

Grains of Sand Sing

    What is the holy secret this planet hides?
    That the race of man has forgotten, or dare not guess?
Queen of Cups Answers
    It is something to do with silence and loneliness,
    Something to do with Glossodoris cruenta.
    Something dying that lives only to bless!
    But I have forgotten, forgotten, or dare not guess.

(Photo by doug.deep. Dedicated to Catalexis.)

Friday Hope Blogging

The Sierra Club has won a huge victory against the coal industry:

In a move that signals the start of the our clean energy future, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) ruled today EPA had no valid reason for refusing to limit from new coal-fired power plants the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming. The decision means that all new and proposed coal plants nationwide must go back and address their carbon dioxide emissions.

“Today’s decision opens the way for meaningful action to fight global warming and is a major step in bringing about a clean energy economy,” said Joanne Spalding, Sierra Club Senior Attorney who argued the case. “This is one more sign that we must begin repowering, refueling and rebuilding America.”

“The EAB rejected every Bush Administration excuse for failing to regulate the largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States. This decision gives the Obama Administration a clean slate to begin building our clean energy economy for the 21st century,” continued Spalding
Apparently, Congress has the ability to block BushCo's last-minute anti-regulation regulations:
When it returns for its short, post-election session later this month, the Democratic-controlled Congress could pull the plug on a raft of last minute regulations being prepared by the Bush administration, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). By acting now to prevent enactment of the rules, Congress would save itself and the incoming Obama administration substantial time and effort that will later be required to repeal these “midnight regulations” one-by-one.
It might be worthwhile to contact your representatives about this.

Here's an outcome of the election that hasn't received enough attention: most Congressional candidates who took a hard line on immigration were defeated. According to America's Voice, reformist candidates mopped the floor with xenophobic hardliners in 19 of 21 House and Senate races.
Swing voters chose Democrats overwhelmingly, including many candidates that stood up for a more comprehensive approach to immigration reform than their hard-line opponents. Latino voters turned out in record numbers and fled the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Republican Party in droves. Their participation in the 2008 elections contributed to Senator Obama’s wins in key battleground states like Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Florida, and also helped Democrats win contested House and Senate races in these states and more. Meanwhile, the anti-immigrant forces that have all but hijacked the Republican Party proved to be inconsequential at best, except for their role in potentially driving the GOP into the political wilderness.

What a difference an election makes.
In related news, the Minutemen continue to disintegrate.

Mass transit also did amazingly well in this election.
Some 23 initiatives were approved nationwide last week that will inject $75 billion into transportation systems, according to the Center for Transportation Excellence....

Overall, more than 70% of the major transportation-funding measures on ballots this year were approved, about double the rate at which initiatives are usually passed, the CFTE said. This rate of success came as a surprise to many transportation advocates, who were expecting a less enthusiastic response to tax increases and public debt at a time of economic and fiscal turmoil.
Obama claims that he'll block political appointees "from working on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years." It'll be interesting to see whether he keeps this promise. It'll also be interesting to see whether he takes this advice from the Pentagon:
A senior Pentagon advisory group, in a series of bluntly worded briefings, is warning President-elect Barack Obama that the Defense Department's current budget is "not sustainable," and he must scale back or eliminate some of the military's most prized weapons programs ... Pentagon insiders and defense budget specialists say the Pentagon has been on a largely unchecked spending spree since 2001 that will prove politically difficult to curtail but nevertheless must be reined in.
German doctors may have cured an AIDS patient with a marrow transplant:
Dr. Gero Huettler said his 42-year-old patient, an American living in Berlin who was not identified, had been infected with the AIDS virus for more than a decade. But 20 months after undergoing a transplant of genetically selected bone marrow, he no longer shows signs of carrying the virus.
Connecticut has begun issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
“It’s a joyous day in Connecticut as hundreds of loving, committed couples prepare to receive the ultimate recognition of their relationships by receiving civil marriage licenses. And it’s a historic day for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people all over the nation, who may have suffered a setback last Tuesday, but know that our fight for equality goes on,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Today’s actions in Connecticut signal a new and hopeful day.”
Speaking of transgender people, I didn't realize that Silverton, OR had elected the country's first transgender mayor. I checked for reports of fire and brimstone raining down on the city...nothing so far.

Returning once more to the election, Good presents an eye-opening map of the youth vote, and adds that "if the youth vote was the only voice in the election, Obama would have won 455 electoral votes -– 91 more than he has in the official count."

Florida's St. Lucie County has announced that it will build the country's first plasma gasification plant:
The plant will use super-hot 10,000 degree fahrenheit plasma to effectively vaporize 1,500 tons of trash each day, which in turn spins turbines to generate 60MW of electricity - enough to power 50,000 homes! Cutting down on landfill waste while generating energy is a pretty win-win proposition, and the plant will also be able to melt down inorganic materials to be reused for other applications, such as in roadbed and heavy construction.
PacifiCorp has agreed to remove four dams from the Klamath River:
The deal is part of a broader effort to restore the river and revive its ailing salmon and steelhead runs and aid fishing, tribal and farming communities. When the dams come down it will be the biggest dam removal and river restoration effort the world has ever seen.

We have not popped the champagne cork yet, but we have put a bottle on ice. We believe this initial agreement is a huge step toward a healthy Klamath River Basin.
Ottawa has rejected a plan to spend $84 million on roads:
The new master plan for Ottawa calls for a radical rethink of priorities, postponing at least $84 million in road building to focus on creating a 'compact, transit city'.

"The plan also includes recommendations for the order in which the city's new light-rail plan should be built, and better cycling and pedestrian routes.
A rare snake has been hatched in a London zoo:
With its characteristic horn, the endangered rhino rat snake has been bred in a European zoo for the first time.

Eight snakes were born in the Zoological Society of London's Reptile House. Three have already been moved to other zoos in Europe in an effort to increase the captive population.

A conservationist has invented a device that turns invasive brush into a clean-burning log:
Dr. Laurie Marker, founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), has been awarded $50,000 by the Tech Museum of Innovation for her organization's Bushblok program which uses a high-pressure extrusion process to convert invasive, habitat-destroying bush into a clean-burning fuel log. Bushblok provides an alternative to products such as firewood, coal, lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes that are costly or result in environmental harm.
A talented new species of cyanobacteria has been discovered:
A remarkable species of cyanobacteria possessing a unique nitrogen fixation adaptation has recently been discovered in the open ocean, report researchers writing in the November 14th issue of Science.

"Fixation" is the process by which bacteria convert ambient sources of otherwise unusable molecules into compounds necessary for life. Previous to the discovery, carbon was thought of as a necessary accompaniment during fixation because the conversion of carbon dioxide into sugars through photosynthesis provides the necessary energy source for cyanobacteria.
UPS is switching over to paper-free printer:
The device underscores that it pays to be green – according to UPS's estimates, it will save about 92,456 hours year through increased productivity, save about 1,338 tons of paper, and reduce carbon emissions by 3,807 tons each year.
Lasers may improve the efficiency of windmills:
A new fiber-optic laser system can measure wind speed and direction up to 1000 meters in front of a wind turbine, giving the massive machines enough precious seconds to proactively adapt to gusts and sudden changes in wind direction. The device…could improve the efficiency of wind turbines and keep them from breaking down.
Images of alien planets. Images from Russian avant-garde books. And via Plep, images of medieval Novgorod, drawn by a child.

Cinema's first dogs. Also from the Bioscope, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux Pathé . A collection of magic lantern slides from Japan (also via Plep). Photographs by Adam Kuehl (via wood s lot). And Inanimate, a nicely compiled Flickr set comprising "pictures and drawings of buildings, vehicles, and other soulless [?] objects."

Also: A carnivorous lamp. Sonification of five mathematical constants. Sound drawings by Douglas Huebler. An abandoned red-light district in Mexico. City maps as a Rorschach test (apropos of which, weekly strips by Ben Katchor are now available online). The fauna of Turkish mud. Semiconscious seascapes by Asako Narahashi.

Last, a short film by Lucien Bull, from 1904.

(Photo at top shows auroral activity at Saturn's north pole, captured by the Cassini orbiter. More here.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Entirely Manageable

Today I will abandon, for a time, the tone of calm objectivity that has previously characterized my labors in the blogosphere, and indulge myself in mere opinion: Bjorn Lomberg is a flaming asshole, and deserves a swift kick in the slats.

Consider his latest column, in which he proposes to help that genial hayseed Obama understand politics:

He will be swamped with suggestions as to what to do first -- perhaps none more impassioned than those who advocate dealing with man-made climate change. He will be told that it is the biggest threat facing humanity and that its solution is the mission of our generation.
What Obama needs to realize is that all of this is lies. And here's why:
The United Nations science consensus expects temperature increases of 3 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, leading to (for example) sea-level increases of between one-half and two feet. Yet such a rise is entirely manageable and not dissimilar to the sea-level rise of about one foot we dealt with over the past 150 years.
Three points come to mind. First, a higher sea level is one of the problems that a 3-degree temperature increase would cause. There are others. This is also true of a 7-degree increase, obviously.

Second, the IPCC expects increases of 3 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit, but says that an increase of 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit is possible.

Third, it's true that a two-foot rise in sea level is "not dissimilar" to a rise of one foot, inasmuch as water is water and feet are feet. But it is dissimilar when you think about the actual amount of water involved (hint: it's roughly twice as much), and its effects.

This is a knotty point, so let's try a thought experiment. Bjorn Lomborg is up to his neck in a tank of reeking, frothy elephant piss. The last two buckets I poured into the tank raised the level by about a foot. That being the case, Science tells us that the four buckets I'm about to add are likely to raise it by about two feet.

The question is, will this rise be as "manageable" for Our Hero as the previous one? More important, can we rely on speculation and hearsay for an answer, or must we insist on having clear scientific evidence, in the form of Lomborg's sodden corpse?

For an economist, and a man who constantly sees fit to slap the wrists of climate scientists, Lomborg is amazingly casual about numbers. Elsewhere, he calls 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit "almost immeasurable." That's not the attitude I'd look for in a CFO or a scientist, personally.

Lomborg goes on to assert cheerfully that a hotter world means a reduction in cold-related deaths, even though he knows as well as anyone else that I've already addressed this argument here.

The rest of the article comprises the usual arguments against cutting CO2 emissions, in favor of reducing poverty, malnutrition, disease, and so forth. As always, the possible results of climate change never seem to complicate Lomborg's humanitarian schemes: neither drought nor flood nor the loss of ecosystem services will stay him from his appointed rounds. And to the extent that his point is valid, it's still not a valid argument against cutting emissions. Sensible people should support mitigation and adaptation, just as the experts have been saying for years.

Lomborg's unique brand of economic logic can best be appreciated by considering his views on investing in solar panels:
Investing in existing inefficient technology (like current-day solar panels) costs a lot for little benefit. Germany, the leading consumer of solar panels, will end up spending $156 billion by 2035, yet only delay global warming by one hour by the end of the century.

If Mr. Obama invested instead in low-carbon research and development, the dollars would go far (researchers are relatively cheap), and the result -- maybe by 2040 -- will be better solar panels that are cheaper than fossil fuels.
Putting aside the fact that there are other benefits to solar power than climate mitigation -- and that these benefits include reducing malnutrition, poverty, disease, and economic hardship in the very countries over which Lomborg routinely weeps -- he's assuming that Germany will invest until 2035 in current-day solar panels, and that investing in low-carbon technology will bring about improved solar panels by 2040. The argument seems incoherent. If we're going to assume that Germany will spend the (comparatively small) sum of $156 billion over the next 27 years, and that solar panels can improve in efficiency over that time, why would we assume that Germany's panels will remain at 2008 efficiency levels for the duration?

Weirder still, Lomborg wants Obama to "invest in creating new technologies, rather than simply subsidizing existing ones." And yet he uses solar panels as an example of inefficient "existing technologies"...the very same solar panels that he says could be cheaper than fossil fuels by 2040, if only we have the wisdom to invest in "new technologies."

Anyway, you'll be happy to know that bold ideas like this "could realistically and cost-effectively fix global warming in the medium term" (thereby condemning 1.8 million souls to an icy death per annum, according to one of Lomborg's favorite statistics).

In other news, the Maldives intends to use tourist money to buy a new homeland. Opportunity never stops knocking!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Once and For All

You wouldn't think that discovering the blueprints for Auschwitz would fill anyone with optimism. But that seems to be precisely the effect it had on the German newspaper Bild:

"The documents refute once and for all claims by those who deny the Holocaust even took place," it added.
About time, too!

The problem with Bild's argument -- one of them, anyway -- is that it implies that until now, Holocaust denial was comparatively respectable. It's only pathological now that we've found blueprints.

In reality, or what passes for it, Holocaust deniers have always been and will always be insane. If that sad event were conclusively disproved tomorrow, they'd still be crazy...just as Fred Phelps would be crazy even if God actually hated fags, and Joe McCarthy would be crazy even if the US State Department had actually been an outpost of the Kremlin.

That's a minor point, though. The more serious issue is that the blueprints do not, in fact, prove that the Holocaust happened. And once you've taken the radical step of denying the Holocaust, casting doubt on the authenticity of "genuine" blueprints that were "found" in an "apartment" is child's play: it's a simple matter of throwing a few scare quotes around. If anything, the fact that the Jews felt a need to foist these documents off on the public demonstrates that they're getting more desperate as more people catch on to the Myth of the Six Million. As such, it actually strengthens the denialists' case, as does pretty much everything else on God's green earth.

Unfortunately, this problem is likely to be exacerbated by the fact that the documents are old news:
Historian Robert Jan van Pelt, an expert on Auschwitz, said he had checked the "so-called 'new' material" on the Web site of Bild, a high-circulation daily, and found that "the drawings that are on their site are all old material, perfectly known" and published by himself and others in the 1990s....

Van Pelt expressed dismay that the Bild's claim of a new discovery had been picked up by newspapers around the world.

"Everyone is repeating the same nonsense, and the deniers are having great fun because it shows how people are gullible," he told JTA.
All of which just goes to show that those who remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Nudibranch Blogging

Some amazing footage here...but as always, I recommend turning the music off.

I might actually write some posts next week, assuming I meet a deadline this weekend. If you believe in me, clap your hands!

Friday Hope Blogging

After it became obvious that the United States had elected a left-leaning black man with a foreign name to the highest office in the land, I figured I needed a few lurid memories of the event for my declining years, and that gaping at my laptop screen was insufficiently carnivalesque.

So I decided I'd head over to the bar, and down a few shots in honor of our looming gay radical Christofascist Islamosocialist atheocratic terrorist worker's paradise. It turned out to be a slow drive, what with the groups of cheering pedestrians, and the horns honking on all sides, and the fireworks arcing over the street.

As soon as I got inside, a complete stranger demanded a high five. Someone else waved an Obama sign, and the room cheered. At the bar, a black man, probably in his late forties, told me he felt like slavery had ended all over again. I bought him a beer; he gave me a long hug.

Dazed but happy people kept drifting in, and each new arrival was greeted with cheers and hugs and overexuberant toasts that sent liquor splashing in all directions. Things get hazy after that. I do remember the walk home, though: The sidewalk was spinning under my feet like the reel of a slot machine; I felt like I'd entered a log-rolling contest.

Having sobered up somewhat since then, I suppose I should try to explain that the things I liked and didn't like about Obama -- as I considered him in my bloodless, self-protectively analytical way -- were very far from my mind when he won; what mattered was that something had happened that I'd sincerely thought was impossible.

Part of it's generational, I think. My wife, who's over a decade younger than me, was equally gratified, but not nearly as astounded. Regardless, the important thing is that I was wrong. This wasn't impossible, and any opinion I'd had to the contrary was the product of feigned knowledge and learned despair. Which is why, in the end, all I can do is repeat what I said at Eschaton, when that odd feeling of being a bit more vibrantly and purposefully alive first took hold of me: "If this is possible, anything is."

I've always loved America for what it was: the birthplace of various arts and sciences and ideas, of George Herriman and Bix Beiderbecke and Skip James and Charles S. Peirce and Lucy Stone. And I've loved it for what it could be and ought to be. But this is the first time in my adult life I've been able to love it here and now, as it is.

And now, having paused for a moment to admire it, let's improve it, for God's sake. Because as much as we've accomplished, it isn't anywhere close to enough.

With that in mind, here's Ali Davis on California's Proposition 8:

The Mormon Church alone poured $20 million into the Yes on 8 campaign. Twenty million dollars that could have been used to feed the hungry, train people for jobs, or build a hospital a cancer wing instead got used to make misleading ads to stop people who just wanted to marry each other in peace.

And the people of California, the great bastion of liberal tolerance, have just decided to set aside a group of people and take away a fundamental right.

All of that is sickening and sad.

But what I saw volunteering for the No on 8 campaign was amazing....I’m still touched by the number of straight people I volunteered with who didn’t have a gay sibling, cousin, or uncle. Technically, Prop 8 didn’t affect them personally, but they took the stance that any discriminatory law affects them personally. That is progress....

Prop 8 didn’t happen because of hatred, it happened because of ignorance. And ignorance is something that chips away. As we make it easier for people in all communities to understand that, yes, they do have gay neighbors and bi siblings and transgendered aunts and they’re actually pretty nice people and the world hasn’t fallen apart, Prop 8 will seem sadder and sillier. And it will go away.

Ignorance is something we can handle. It just takes time.

Please don’t despair.
Good advice, especially given that Marilyn Musgrave has been defeated. And Kate Brown became Oregon's secretary of state. And Jared Polis was elected to the US House of Representatives.

Ten women were elected to the House, of whom eight are pro-choice. And three horrifically anti-choice bills failed. South Dakota's abortion ban lost for the second time. California's parental notification bill lost for the third time. And Colorado's "fetal personhood" bill suffered a spectacular defeat, receiving only 27% of the vote. In Michigan, meanwhile, a bill to expand embryonic stem cell research passed. (Amanda has more.)

California's Proposition 2 requires that "calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens, and pregnant pigs be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely." The fact that the passage of this modest bill is being treated as the End of the World by factory farmer demonstrates how necessary it was.

It's always a nice surprise when a political opponent turns out to possess some sort of rudimentary conscience, so I'm pleased to report that Laura Bush is apparently battling Dick Cheney over the future of the Pacific Ocean:
On one side is first lady Laura Bush, who according to the Washington Post has asked for two briefings on the issue from the White House staff, and has asked her aides to confer with scientists on how to preserve diverse ecosystems.

On the other side is Vice President Dick Cheney, who along with some officials in the Northern Mariana Islands argues that banning fishing and mineral exploration will hurt the region's economy.
Two new species of gecko have been discovered in Australia; no word yet on whose livelihood protecting them will threaten.
The Cape Range Gecko (Diplodactylus capensis) is found only on the Northwest Cape near Exmouth, while the Southern Sandplain Gecko (Lucasium bungabinna), occurs in the southern deserts in Western Australia and South Australia, north of the Nullarbor Plain.
Twenty poachers are going to jail:
Twenty people have been convicted for poaching Asiatic lions last year in India's Gir National Park. The twenty individuals will spend three years in prison and be fined 10,000 Rs each.
A rare baby pygmy hippo is doing well after being born in a zoo.
Born during the early hours of October 15, Monifa initially had to be patiently coerced into even trying to feed from a teated syringe. Ms Zammit and Ms Roberts spent alternate days working around the clock to keep her alive.

She has now doubled in weight and is drinking from a bowl, content to suckle the thumb of her keepers.

Here's an interesting article on bioleaching:
Bacteria can leach small amounts of valuable metals from otherwise useless ore, researchers have found.

These mineral-crunching microorganisms are a type of bacteria that use minerals as their source of energy. When the life-forms break down the matter through metabolism, they squeeze out metal ores or concentrates combined with sulfur in a process called bioleaching.

The method is emerging as an increasingly important way to extract valuable minerals when conventional methods such as smelting can't do the job cheaply enough, experts say.
A Patagonian fungus produces components of diesel fuel:
The harmless, microscopic fungus, known as Gliocladium roseum (NRRL 50073), lives quietly within ulmo trees in the Patagonian rainforest.

Gary Strobel of Montana State University has found that the fungus produces many energy-rich hydrocarbons, and that the particular diesel components produced can be varied by changing the growing medium and environment of the fungus. The fungus even performs under low-oxygen conditions like those found deep underground.
Almost makes you wonder what else is living quietly in rainforests.

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have come up with a promising antireflective coating for solar cells:
Untreated solar cells only absorb 66% of the light that hits them. When treated with this new coating, made from silicon dioxide and titanium dioxide nanorods, absorption was boosted to a nearly perfect 96%. The coating also lets solar cells absorb light from any angle. No more mechanized solar panels on articulated arms that have to follow the sun’s path. The researchers are calling it a “game-changer.”
WorldChanging describes the eerie properties of "ultra-clean water":
Ultra-clean water is produced using an advanced filtering system that removes salt, minerals, lime, heavy metals, and other byproducts. After filtration, high surface tension at the molecular level gives the water the ability to powerfully dissolve dirt. After being used to clean greasy parts, the water can be refiltered and then used to clean again, in a closed cycle. Manufacturers could also choose to filter the water and emit it into the sewage system without the usual discharge of hazardous chemicals. The process uses cold rather than hot water, increasing its energy efficiency.
A scientist in Taiwan claims to have invented a chlorophyll battery:
While the strength of the battery is about half that of an ordinary battery, its storage capacity is more than that of Japan's water-powered fuel cells, he said.

The production cost of the chlorophyll organic battery is very cheap -- about NT$1 to NT$2 (US$.03 to US$.06) , Liao said, adding that the battery contains no toxic substances and will not pose an environmental hazard, even if discarded at will.
Make of that what you will.

As part of its quest to build a mathematically perfect One State, the EU has formed a renewable energy agency that is even now plotting to micromanage your life:
The agency, known as IRENA, will serve as a global cheerleader for clean energy. It plans to offer technical, financial, and policy advice for governments worldwide, according to a joint announcement from Germany, Spain, and Denmark - the project's leaders.
The last nerve gas landmine remaining at the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility has been destroyed:
Officials at the Umatilla Depot began destroying VX nerve agent munitions in September 2004, and began their effort to destroy the landmines in September 2008. In all, 122,000 pounds of VX nerve agent in 11,685 landmines were destroyed.
(h/t: ErinPDX.)

A physical basis seems to have been found for fibromylagia:
"Fibromyalgia may be related to a global dysfunction of cerebral pain-processing," Guedj added. "This study demonstrates that these patients exhibit modifications of brain perfusion not found in healthy subjects and reinforces the idea that fibromyalgia is a 'real disease/disorder.'"
Apart from the obvious fact that finding a cause is an essential step towards finding a cure, it's worth noting that the vast majority of fibromyalgia sufferers are women; it's probably just a coincidence that it's long been viewed as a symptom of hysteria or depression.

Probiotics are being used to prevent respiratory infections:
The authors found that the probiotic treatment was as effective as the antiseptic. Use of the bacteria has other advantages; there are common side effects associated with CHX use in oral care, including tooth discoloration, irritation and, very occasionally, serious allergic reactions. Moreover, CHX diluted by saliva and represents an additional risk for the creation of resistant strains. The authors claim that the L. plantarum 299 solves these problems, "It is not likely to incorporate resistance genes or plasmids or to transfer genetic material. Consequently it does not contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains. As the bacteria adhere to the oral mucosa, they are able to counteract potentially pathogenic bacteria around the clock, which is superior to the fairly short-term effect of orally applied chemical agents."
An odd study in the Lancet claims that green spaces help to reduce health inequalities:
In an accompanying article in The Lancet, Dr Terry Hartig, from the Institute for Housing and Urban Research at Uppsala University in Sweden, wrote: "This study offers valuable evidence that green space does more than 'pretty up' the neighbourhood - it appears to have real effects on health inequality, of a kind that politicians and health authorities should take seriously."
Oldest. Proto-Canaanite script. Ever. Paintings by A.A. Deineka, some of which are very striking. Virtual Shaker archiecture. Tilt-shift videos of a Lilliputian world. A giant Lego man, cast up by the sea.

Masons for Obama. The Serpent Race backs him too, I hear, and is probably also the source of the unknown structures "tugging at the universe." What does this mean for extra-dimensional workers? And could this explain the "shifting" significance of red and blue in American politics? Think about it.

Nearly done. But first, panorama handbills. Images from the Wellcome Collection. The manuscript for Jonathan Edwards' Efficacious Grace. A gallery of hidden faces. And some astonishing close-up views of a "Blanket Flower".

Also, here's a movie for you, if you've got nothing better to do.

(Illustration at top by Patrick Moberg.)

Sunday, November 02, 2008