In his speeches, Obama seems to be going for the FDR style. Not a bad role model --- FDR changed the whole paradigm of how politics works in this nation. His New Deal was followed by four decades of prosperity. The American century was American in large part because of FDR.
Just because Obama talks like FDR doesn't mean he's going to be as effective as FDR, of course. He is wrong on some issues (for example, universal health care is impossible without mandates), but he's still the best choice on offer in 2008.
Google has a nifty feature by which they use such a geolocation database and project visitor counts onto a map of the world. The map on the left, for example, was created from last month's visitors to this blog. The big circle in the center of the US corresponds to Norman, which (as expected) has the greatest concentration of readers of this blog. The world-wide extent of my readership is a sampling artifact: over the last month, the two most visited posts were on Tata Jaguar and on Google Android -- I would venture that if I were to filter those two posts out, the map would be far more concentrated, and make much more sense.
It really sounds that they are getting a whole bunch of people together to build a phone and that's something we've been doing for five years
it can't be all bad, can it?
My colleague downloaded the Android toolkit for Java and the two of us banged up a client to this NWS web service. Took about an hour to have an application that would display a 6-hr forecast at the user's location (Even without a GPS chip, Android is capable of triangulating to get within 300m of the user's position, which is sufficient for weather applications ...). The whole process turned out to be as easy as pie ... although a professional effort would have to make the output be graphical instead of text. T., if you are reading this, perhaps you can post the code we banged out?
Our interest is, of course not in building a cell-phone application, but in serving our gridded nowcasts -- similar to how we currently serve out nowcast products over the entire country to Google Earth clients -- so that you can one day get personalized nowcasts on your Android-enabled phone.
This oped in the New York times traces the origins of a couple of the Christmas traditions.
First, the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas:
... the Dutch Christians of [New York City] ... kept alive an old memory — that a kindly old cleric brought little gifts to the poor in the weeks leading up to the Feast of the Nativity ...
The elves who help Santa Claus:
The new Santa also acquired a host of Nordic elves to replace the small dark-skinned boy called Black Peter, who in Christian tradition so loved St. Nicholas that he traveled with him everywhere ... the real St. Nicholas first came into contact with Peter when he raided the slave market in his hometown and railed against the trade. The story tells us that when the slavers refused to take him seriously, he used the church's funds to redeem Peter and gave the boy a job in the church.
And the tradition of hanging stockings at the fireplace:
There is quite a bit that has been lost in the translation from the Dutch St. Nicholas to the American Santa Claus, don't you think?
And what of the ... stockings and little shoes that had been hung up to dry by the fireplace? ... Nicholas had heard that a father in the town planned to sell his three daughters because his debts had been called in by pitiless creditors. As he did for Black Peter, Nicholas raided his church funds to secure the redemption of the girls. He dropped the gold down the chimney to save face for the impoverished father.
I think that some one should make a list of the things you should not give even if it is something you enjoy. These are lessons I have learned from the unalloyed look of annoyance from the intended recipient. Feel free to add to this list in the comments.
1. Dark chocolate. I love chocolate with 70-80% cocoa. Apparently, it's an acquired taste.
2. Rolled (old-fashioned) or steel-cut oats. Also an acquired taste. Just buy the quick-cooking stuff.
3. Home-baked cakes and cookies. "Not at all sweet."
4. Henckels or Wustof's knifes. "Too expensive. And besides, an aruhamanai is a lot more convenient and can be used without standing up."
5. Watches whose face and wristband is not gold-hued. "Silver looks cheap. Who wears silver?"
6. Dark-hued shirts. "It's okay for youngsters like you but old people like us have to look decent."
7. Electric shavers: "Not smooth enough". "Give it a few weeks." "But I look like a rowdy"
"Let's make cookies for them this year," I suggested to the wife and so we did. We made four batches of cookies and the kids had fun cutting them into shapes and decorating the cookies with a cream cheese frosting.
That evening, however, we were entertaining. We were too lazy (what with all the cookie rolling, cutting and decorating) to make a dessert. And we did have a whole lot of cookies. Why not serve those and save a half-hour?
"Oooh, whole wheat cookies and only half the sugar!," exclaimed our guests. I bit back from mentioning that these were shortbread cookies(*) and that the frosting was pure cream cheese. The cookies were such a hit that a couple of guests packed a dozen cookies home.
We were left with about two dozen cookies now.
Every time the fridge door opened the next day, another shortbread cookie vanished.
By the time the carolers showed up, on Sunday evening, we were down to about a dozen.
So if you are one of our neighbors, and are reading this now, this explains the slightly bedraggled cookie tray that you had to pick your cookies from. We had better intentions. Honest.
(*) Shortbread cookies are cookies that have nearly as much butter as flour.
"Oh, hello," said the driver pleasantly, "you live over on 48th, don't you?". It's a sign that you are traveling a bit too often when a random Airport Express shuttle driver recognizes you and can drive you home without you having to give him directions.
"Give me a minute," he said, "the OU-Gonzaga game is gonna be ending soon." So, we sat in the airport parking lot and listened to the radio commentary. "We're up by two and have the ball," he told me by way of explanation. OU missed the shot. "Eeew," we said together and waited tensely as the commentator said that Gonzaga had rebounded and was driving up.
"They need to take a 3-point shot."
On the radio, a Gonzaga guard pulled up and made a shot ... and it was blocked and an OU player got it and threw it downcourt and now there was only 0.2 seconds left on the clock. OU won! We cheered and then he started the shuttle van and we were on our way.
"So did you have any damage because of the ice storm?," he asked me.
"No, our elms are still pretty young. They doubled down from the weight of the ice, but snapped right back up."
"Not everyone was that lucky."
"People in older neighborhoods lost a lot of trees," I agreed.
"We're having company over the holidays, so all Tuesday, I was out clearing out the fallen trees. My daughter sent my grandsons to come help."
"Good for you, to have young fellows to help you do stuff."
"My wife's parents lost power for a day, so they came and stayed with us."
"I hear that 150,000 people in rural Oklahoma still don't have power," I remarked.
"Yes, but rural folks can take care of themselves better. So, OG&E has been working on the built-up parts."
"That's true about rural folks. I have a friend in Noble who said he simply went out and cranked his generator when the power went out. I don't think I would have ever had a generator."
"Most rural folks are on propane anyway, so they have heat."
"Won't do them any good if they went hunting. All the meat's gonna spoil," I suggested.
"Yeah, never thought of that."
"You are so lucky that you guys are done with work," our waitress informed us, "This is my second job, so here I am."
"So what do you do in your first job?," my first colleague asked, rising to the bait.
"I teach mentally disabled children, and then I come here and work four hours."
"Well, at least then you get to go back to your boyfriend, while we have to be here the rest of the week," he observed.
"Oh, I'd better not have a boyfriend," she countered, showing us her ring, "I'm married. My husband is a fire fighter. He also works two shifts."
Then while serving us the food, she informed my colleague (who she'd identified as being the most amenable to her charms) "my dad's in the military, so I'm used to being poor."
I couldn't take it any more at that point. "And I suppose you walked all the way to work today."
"Actually, yes," she said, "and my shoe lace broke.". She paused a bit, grinned and asked, "You guys are going to give me a $100 tip, aren't you?".
"Well, I can buy you a new shoe lace" said the third colleague who'd also been quiet up to that point.
The two of us wanted to leave her a typical 20% tip, but the first colleague overruled us. He added enough to the pot to make it a 35% tip. Her tall tales worked.
S1 has started kindergarten -- a source of great pride, incidentally -- and is at the age where he trusts but wants to verify. S2 is in her sweet-little-girl years -- we know it won't last, but we're still enjoying it any how. The kids are now old enough that we did a couple of road trips this summer -- to Chicago and to Washington DC. It was a lot of fun. Perhaps a bit more fun in retrospect than in real-time ... A. and I went to Australia and visited the Great Barrier Reef this year (our 10th wedding anniversary). It was the trip of a lifetime, but maybe for the 20th we'll go this route instead. The whole family also went with a couple of neighbors to a Nature Conservancy managed park here in Oklahoma. S1 and I went together to a couple of OU football games. Getting him started early!
Work continues to be interesting. Sometimes it even helped us plan day trips. Professionally though, my recommendations sometimes turned out to be not too welcome.
I've picked up bridge again -- it's a source both of elation and deflation. After ceramics last year, A.'s gotten interested in pottery now -- her soup bowls are now the subject of fierce contention at home. Also ... I've resumed writing a blog.
So where exactly is this fellow, a leading Jaguar dealer, coming from when he informs the Wall Street Journal:
"I don't believe the U.S. public is ready for ownership out of India" of a luxury-car brand such as Jaguar, Mr. Gorin said in an interview. "I believe it would severely throw a tremendous cast of doubt over the viability of the brand."Later in the article, he tries to make it an equal opportunity offense, observing:
I don't mean to be negative towards anyone. I don't think we could have a Chinese-owned Jaguar either.Oh, well. Okay then.
The map link doesn't show up well in my response, so here it is.
One hears once in a while that the Mississippi-Missouri system drains the central United States, but the visual impact still startles.
(1) The AMS meeting has an organized tour of the levees, the damage, etc. This makes me intensely uncomfortable -- the differentiating line between that and gawking at OPS ("other people's suffering") is not that clear to me. I'm definitely not going on that tour no matter how scientific the organizing committee makes it sound:
After having watched the television coverage of this horrific event, you likely have many curiosities about the magnitude of what the disaster has done and also many unanswered questions as you struggle to comprehend the aspects of human suffering ... You will gain a greater understanding of evacuation processes, levee systems, and the city's battle with coastal erosion ... The tour will drive past an actual levee that breached and see the resulting devastation that displaced hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents. The direct connection between America's disappearing coastal wetlands, oil and gas pipelines, levee protection, and hurricane destruction will be explained. After this tour, you will have a better understanding of events pre- and post-Katrina in the "rebirth of New Orleans."
(2) The latest issue of American Airlines' flight magazine -- I flipped through it having run out of other reading material while sitting 2 hours on the runway in Dallas -- has a short travel article on New Orleans. Their website is so disorganized that I can't find it online. The gist of the article seemed to be that even though a couple of hotels downtown were still closed, there were still some really posh hotels that the traveler could stay in and that New Orleans was as much a party city as ever. Not as awful as the AMS tour of broken levees, but the very act of leaving the elephant in the room unmentioned speaks for itself ...
(3) Today's USA today (the passenger beside me had a copy) had an article on New Orleans too. "Katrina's wrath lingers for New Orleans poor " blared the headline.
This article in Science disabused me of that notion. Turns out that increasing carbon dioxide will do to the oceans what pollution did to the Great Lakes. The oceans will become acidic and this side-effect of carbon pollution will kill off the coral reefs. By the end of this century, there will be no coral reefs anywhere worth seeing.
We really do need a carbon tax.
One of my colleagues bought a car on Saturday. His new car and old car (he was planning to use it for parts) were both parked on their driveway. A tree limb fell across the driveway, totaling the new car, but leaving the old car pretty much unaffected. Insurance is covering it, fortunately. Some other friends have spent the past two days clearing out all the fallen branches. Half the traffic lights in the central (older) part of town are still out. Our daughter's daycare lost its power and hasn't got it back yet.
The school district took this as the excuse to cancel school for three days in a row. Monday, I worked from home, but I couldn't keep doing that. I'm currently subsetting and processing several hundred gigabytes of satellite data for a rainfall nowcast validation experiment. Such work doesn't travel very well, so Tuesday and Wednesday, the kids have come to work with me. The 5-yr old pretty much occupies himself, but the 3-yr old needs attention periodically.
"It's so easy for them to cancel to school," I commented to a colleague.
"And so hard for us to cancel work," he empathized.
One of the very first winners of the Prize in chemistry worried that, "We are evaporating our coal mines into the air." After performing 10,000 equations by hand, Svante Arrhenius calculated that the earth's average temperature would increase by many degrees if we doubled the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
But unlike most other forms of pollution, CO2 is invisible, tasteless, and odorless--which has helped keep the truth about what it is doing to our climate out of sight and out of mind. Moreover, the catastrophe now threatening us is unprecedented and we often confuse the unprecedented with the improbable.
We must abandon the conceit that individual, isolated, private actions are the answer. They can and do help. But they will not take us far enough without collective action.
... most important of all, we need to put a price on carbon--with a CO2 tax that is then rebated back to the people, progressively, according to the laws of each nation, in ways that shift the burden of taxation from employment to pollution. This is by far the most effective and simplest way to accelerate solutions to this crisis.
This is the photograph that caught my attention . It's the view from the bottom of stairs leading down to a temple pond or up to a temple. Many Indians carry food with them to temples and have a picnic lunch. The stainless steel "carrier" that the old lady is carrying probably just that. So, this is a view that I've encountered hundreds of times. Yet, it got me. I never quite "saw" it before.
Maybe it's living in super-patriotic Oklahoma. But the red-and-white stripes and their obvious parallel with the American flag were startling.
I encountered the photograph via this blog by a Mumbai art director. That's where I saw these engrossing paintings as well. The paintings borrow their sense of proportion and layout from the Tanjore style of paintings but avoid the Tanjore paintings' over-the-top gold overlays. And somehow, these paintings of ordinary country folk add dignity to the people they portray.
Until today ... only the temperature is hovering around 32F (zero celsius) and so, we are getting freezing rain. The rain that fell overnight has iced up. The grass crunches as you walk on it. One of the elms in our front yard has doubled over from the weight.
But the 3-year old woke up, took one look through the window and squealed that she wanted her umbrella. I didn't have the heart to object.
The 5-year old was quite talkative all the way.
"How far is the North Pole?," he asked.
"About 5000 miles," I told him.
"How long does it take Santa to get here?"
"If he comes in a sleigh that flies through the air, he can get here really fast."
"That's a fake Santa," he said a little later, while we were in line.
"Why do you say that?"
"Santa wears white gloves, not red ones."
"Maybe he has two pairs of gloves?"
A couple of kids dressed as dinosaurs came walking by. "That's a velociraptor," he enthused. "Looks like a T. Rex to me," I suggested. "No, it's a vel-o-ci-rap-tor," he insisted.
"Can't tell him any different," smiled the guy in line behind me.
"He is wearing regular glasses. Santa doesn't wear regular glasses."
The possible fakeness of the Santa didn't stop him from asking Santa for a Transformer. The 3-year old asked for a baby doll.
Later, in the car, coming home, he wasn't willing to let the matter drop.
"It was not a real Santa," he said, "the real Santa doesn't talk, he only says 'Ho Ho Ho'.".
What brought this back to mind was that we are getting wood floors installed in our home. The wife's wanted wood floors for a long time (we had wood in all our formal areas, but now we're converting all the bedrooms as well). Why? Her allergies had been getting worse year-after-year. So, as one of my friends put it, she essentially came home with a prescription for wood floors. Pity that Aetna won't cover it.
While the installers are working, the wife and I have been taking turns working at home.
"So," the foreman asked me, "do you work some days and your wife works other days?".
"No," I told him, "since we have internet access, we can pretty much work at home if we need to. I've been working from home since you guys are here. I go to the office every afternoon so that I can talk to my colleagues."
"Must be nice," he said, "I can't do that with my job."
"Not unless you want to keep installing a new wood floor in your home every week."
Here is another map that gets its value from its association with America. Of course, it's a million times more expensive than the one in our living room. In fact, it is the most expensive art item that the Library of Congress has ever acquired -- so expensive and treasured that it is stored in a vault similar to the one that houses the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Why would the Library of Congress pay $100 million dollars for this map? Because, it's the first ever map that carried the word "America". And of course, the name was a mistake. It was made by Waldseemüller, a German cartographer who mistakenly thought that Amerigo Vespucci had discovered America.