Category Archives: Uncategorized

James Bond Incarnations In Order

Roger Moore just died, and you will hear that he was the third, or second, or fourth, “James Bond.” He wasn’t. Here is the list of James Bond actors:

Barry Nelson, who played in “Casino Royale” in 1954. This was an episode in the “Climax!” TV anthology series, like they used to do a lot.
Sean Connery is often regarded as the “original” or “first” James Bond, and in a way he was, since he was the first to repeat the role in several movies. But he was actually the second actor to play the role in front of a camera. He did seven Jame Bonds.
David Niven, who played also in “Casino Royale,” a movie directed by Ken Hughes. Peter Sellers and Ursala Andress were also in the movie.
George Lazenby played James Bond in tghe 1969 “James Bond: ON Her Majesty’s Service.”
Roger Moore, taking up the role as the fifth actor to do so, started in 1973 and played the role seven times.
Timothy Dalton played two Bonds in 1987 and 1989. Many claim, I’m told, that Dalton played the most true-to-the-novel Bond.
Pierce Bronsan started to be Bond in 1995 and played four times.
Daniel Craig played Bond starting in 2006 and has made four films.

An interesting trend in Bond films: The time between films has steadily (but not very uniformly) increased. Once the thing got going, there was about one a year, but this slowed to about one every two years and eventually about one every three years. The last one was two years ago.

Why do I even know this? Because I regard about half the James Bond films ever made to be among the worst things ever put on film, and to have fueled and developed the rape culture our patriarchy embraces. At the same time, I like spy films a lot. Therefore, I thing a handful of the Bond films are great, many should be erased from our cultural memory, and a few others are bla at best.

ALERT: Two very good deals on two very good books

Every single regular reader of this blog has read or intends to read Stephen Jay Gould’s The Panda’s Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History. I just noticed that the Kindle version of it is available for $1.99, and I assume this is temporary. I already had the book on dead-tree matter, but I picked this up because ebooks are searchable! You will want one two.

Every single regular reader of this blog SHOULD want to read, or should have already read, Mary Doria Russell’s excellent binary set including The Sparrow: A Novel and Children of God. (The Sparrow is first, COG second.)

Right now, and I assume very temporarily, The Sparrow is also avaialble for $1.99.

A quick word about the Sparrow series. It has been classified as science fiction. Others have said, no, it is not science fiction, it is philosophy and spirituality. A lot of church groups read it because of its religious meaning and implications.

That is really funny because there isn’t a drop of religiosity in this series. There is a priest, but it is a priest mainly operating in a post-religion world. This series is primarily anthropology fiction, which happens to be set in a science fiction theme, and if anything, it deconstructs the central role of religious institutions and makes them look as potentially lame and potentially nefarious and as potentially impotent as the other institutions. Or, really, as products of human behavior as anthropologists understand it, the outcome of a mix of self interested behavior, bonding or revulsion, racism and in-group vs. out-group thinking, the power of institutions, ritual, tradition, class, and exploitation. Set, of course, in the background of co-evolution of morphology of predator and prey. There is also a linguistic theme addressing meaning creation (or lack there of: ouch), development of mind and behavior, language learning, and so on.

You have to read them, and now you can get one of them for two bucks! (Unfortunately COG seems regular price.)

Let me add this too, just noticed it, could be of interest for two bucks: The Science of Star Wars: The Scientific Facts Behind the Force, Space Travel, and More!.

Taking The Axe To The Environmental Movement: Resolute v. Greenpeace

A major Canadian logger appears to be using a pair of law suits to end the existence of Greenpeace and to stop or curtail pro-environmental activities by other organizations operating in North America, or perhaps, generally.

This activity is being carried out by Resolute Forest Products. This is a rapidly developing story. Aside from the usual sources of information, I had a long conversation with a representative of Greenpeace. I also refer you to this blog post.

Resolute Forest Products is one of North America’s largest converters of forest into pulp, ultimately to be used to make paper. They do other things as well. Back in 2010, Resolute Forest Products joined a group of 30 entities, including other forestry companies as well as environmental organizations such as Greenpeace. The group, called the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, intended to reduce negative impacts on the northern boreal forests caused by companies like Resolute.

Resolute, for its part, is said to have stonewalled movement in any positive direction, and eventually, Greenpeace Canada and others dropped out of the agreement. Greenpeace Canada then produced a report, in May 2013, outlining alleged deception by Resolute about the sustainability of their products. Generally, Greenpeace has been encouraging pulp customers to select producers that log sustainably, and that appears to annoy Resolute. That started a relatively complex back and forth between Resolute and Greenpeace, and other Canadian stakeholders, including a $7 million defamation suite by resolute against Greenpeace Canada as well as two of its staff members.

To get caught up on the environmental arguments concerns at hand, see Endangered Forests in the Balance: The impact of logging reaches new heights in the Montagnes Blanches Endangered Forest.

And now this ongoing battle is heating up again.

At present, there are two new significant suits by Resolute Forest Products, one against Greenpeace Canada, the other against Greenpeace International. The latter is said to have been filed in the US because the limitations on liability are much higher; Indeed, the Canadian suit is for millions, while the US based suit is for hundreds of millions. Along with these legal actions, Resolute is, again, directly attacking individuals and not just the company.

It is generally believed by observers that Resolute intends to use this legal action to end Greenpeace. Other environmental organizations are concerned that this type of suit may end their efforts as well.

Many will consider this a SLAPP suit. This is a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” A SLAPP “… is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. Such lawsuits have been made illegal in many jurisdictions on the grounds that they impede freedom of speech.*

The US based law suit uses RICO statute. RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and was created to allow prosecutors important tools to go after previously nearly untouchable organized crime entities. Apparently, legal experts view the RICO suit against Greenpeace International to be absurd and unwinnable. That is what would make it a SLAPP. All Resolute has to do is pour a few tens of millions into the effort, and Greenpeace will have to give in. Unless, of course, judges throw the suits out early enough.

In addition to going after Greenpeace, Resolute has named as an additional target in their RICO suit. (See this for a list of the many legal documents related to these suits). From

Can a lumber company sue its grassroots public interest critics? While some courts say no, yesterday Resolute Forest Products filed a civil RICO lawsuit in United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. Incredibly, the suit complains that Greenpeace and Stand (formerly ForestEthics) have acted as a “criminal enterprise” in their public interest advocacy to stop destructive logging and protect waterways, wildlife, and communities in the boreal forest of Canada.

Stand believes this suit is entirely without merit and is a clear attempt to silence its most powerful grassroots critics. In addition, CEO Richard Garneau has overseen multiple free speech lawsuits during his tenure against individuals and organizations, and led the company to five consecutive years of a slumping stock.

Pulp: The coal of the wood industry

Why is this happening? The most obvious reason is that Resolute is tired of having their lack of sustainable practice pointed out to them by organizations like Greenpeace. There may even be a cost to Resolute, in that customers are increasingly demanding that sustainable practices be followed by extractive industries such as logging. Indeed, I expect that one response to the Resolute legal action will be an effort to pressure book publishers to use paper made from sustainably produced pulp.

So there’s that, but there is probably more to it. Resolute is part of a rapidly declining industry: North American pulp. Resolute could scale down its overall expectations and become the sustainable pulp producer. Or, it could barrel into the future full speed ahead, using up whatever expanse of the northern forest it can lay it’s saws on before getting stopped. It seems to be doing the latter.

Over the last fifty years or so, the production of paper has gone up significantly (from tens of millions of tons in 1960 to over 350 millions of tons more recently). People will tell you that the internet killed off paper production, but that seems not quite true. Paper production does not increase each year as much as it formerly did, but it still increases.

But two other things have happened. For one, the amount of paper that is recycled has also gone up, but at a slightly slower rate than overall paper production. So, that shift from 10 to 350 million tons a year of paper, an increase of about 30 times, is actually an increase of about 10 or 15 times for the virgin pulp some paper is made out of. Related is the use of more wood waste to make pulp instead of virgin timber.

The other factor is the shift in pulp and paper production to places other than North America, so from a North American perspective, pulp looks a lot like coal: it is a dying business.

Putting all this together, and you can see that Greenpeace is really Resolute’s smaller problem. The bigger problem is a dramatic and ongoing decline in its own market.

I would have thought this would be the ideal time go go full on rogue sustainable, and be the one company that produces most of the sustainable pulp in a world where North Americans will tolerate nothing else. But apparently I do not work at Resolute, do I?

Stay tuned!

Is the Environmental Movement a big white tent?

Lennox Yearwood Jr was on his way to speak at the March for Science in DC, when something bad happened. He tells us:

…at the March For Science in Washington DC on Earth Day, I was assaulted, roughed up, and detained by police in the shadow of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. It was not part of an action or planned civil disobedience. It was sadly a much more regular event – an interaction between police and a person of color gone very wrong.

He continues:

I was walking in the rain and carrying an umbrella down Constitution Ave. from the National Archives Building towards the Washington Monument. Constitution Ave. was closed and I was excited to see so many people out for the Science March. As I approached 14th St. on Constitution, the walk sign was on, but there was an MPD officer in the middle of street letting cars proceed across 14th so I stayed on the curb. I waited as the crossing signal turned red and then it turned back to walk, signaling clearance for all of us on the curb to cross, which we started to do.

I was the only person of color in the immediate area.

The police officer then told everyone to get out of the crosswalk. By then I was about half way across the street. I paused in the middle of the street and then decided it was easier to proceed to the other side of the street, in effect getting out of the crosswalk.

The officer then ran up to me, grabbed me forcefully by my jacket and swung me around, slamming me up against a food truck. I yelled, “What are you doing? Stop grabbing me.” He told me to stop resisting, to which I responded that I wasn’t. I dropped my umbrella, and put my hands up. I told him I was there for the Science March. He said he had to detain me because I “could be on drugs.” YES, he really said that.

Conspiracy to jay walk. It gets worse. More cops show up, more tension. Eventually it deescalates as Reverend Yearwood’s identity is established. Read the whole account here.

From Think Progress:

Aside from the humiliation of getting roughed up by the police, Yearwood said he was extremely disappointed that the incident forced him to miss a speech given by Mustafa Ali, who earlier this year resigned as the head of environmental justice at the Environmental Protection Agency after a 24-year career. Ali now serves as senior vice president of climate, environmental justice, and community revitalization for the Hip Hop Caucus.
The Hip Hop Caucus, formed in 2004, seeks to connect marginalized communities with civic matters, focusing in particular on environmental issues. The environmental movement historically has been dominated by white men, although more women have claimed leadership positions over the past decade.

More at Think Progress

I have to say, that I just can’t imagine this happening at the Minnesota March for Science. There is a huge overlap in who shows up at these events in the Twin Cities, and the events cover everything from economic justice to #BLM to women’s’ rights. It is not in the nature of our community to allow someone to be physically harassed by the police at an event like this, without comment or intervention. Our community has been tested in the past and has done OK in this area, especially since the RNC in Saint Paul when the true potential of a city-wide police state was unleashed on our community, we fought back on several fronts, and changed our culture somewhat. I don’t know anything about the DC environmental community but apparently it is in need of some adjustment. Ours, here in the Twin Cities, probably does too, but this? I don’t think so.

Minnesota March For Science

Just a little video and some pictures from today’s March for Science, Minnesota.

This one from the march route on the way to the capitol. Skip ahead to about 1:12 go get the best chant:


Another video, this one from The Hedge:

You don’t see this sign at many protests:

Mammals were welcome at the march:PHOTO_20170422_115032

And, now, Here is my extraordinarily well timed Facebook Live post

What do you think about the death penalty?

We just had an execution by lethal injection. Everything went fine. If, by “fine,” we mean a guy died as a bunch of people watched emotionlessly.

The execution was carried out so late in the process that only a few minutes passed between the pronouncement of death and and the expiration of the court order to kill.

What if the execution had taken twice as long? With the order expired, would it be stopped during the final minutes? Would someone dial 911, get EMTs in there, try to save the guy’s life?

I’m against the death penalty. I think it is time we recognized that this is the 21st century, and that we have this whole civilization thing. But, if we are going to execute someone, this absurd idea that somehow modern medicine can do a better job than the old methods is crazy. Perhaps our reluctance to use tried and true methods like hanging, beheading, and firing squad, all modern methods developed to replace the ancient horrible methods like crushing to death, burning to death, and stoning to death, is an indicator. Our preference to pretend that this is all very scientific and clean may be an indication that not very far below the surface we find the whole thing abhorrent. By pretending it is a medical procedure, painless, controlled, etc., we also pretend it is a civilized act to take the life of a person already imprisoned for life.

I’d rather live in a society where the argument “these people will not feel good about the horrible death of their loved ones until another horrible death has been carried out” is reserved for the anthropology textbooks, in the chapter on vengeance based societies.

By the way, I lived for years in a vengeance based society, a society in which all deaths, including from disease, or even being killed by a wild animal, were considered homicide, and the homicide should always be avenged. There were many deaths during my time there. Never once was a death avenged. The process of adjudication, of finding the party who caused the death (most likely by which craft) was very carefully done. The guilty party was always identified, but strangely, it always seemed to be an individual that lived very far away, that no one quite seemed to know well enough to find, or even bother looking for. So please don’t think that a tribal vengeance society is necessarily less civilized than our Western society.

But I digress. What do we do about the Death Penalty in America?

Minnesota March For Science

In which I interview Geoffrey Rojas, an organizer for Minnesota March for Science:

Books mentioned in the interview:

The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It by Shawn Otto.

The Meetup Information for the Atheists Bus is here. The bus is currently full!

The Minnesota March for Science facebook page is here.

I think the wether is going to be perfect marching weather.

On a related topic: Evidence for Democracy – Katie Gibbs on Science Resisting

Roger Pielke Junior, I forgive you for this one thing

Hi there, folks. This post should have been a tweet in response to Roger Pielke Jr (@RogerPielkeJr), professor of political science at the University of Colorado Boulder, the guy who got fired by Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight for, as I understand it, his anti-science positions on climate change. This is a response for a tweet by Junior designed to offend, nay, attack, both Professor Michael Mann and moi. But Roger blocks me (and everybody else) on twitter, so this has to be a blog post.

Roger is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I suppose I can’t blame him for getting every single thing that he gets wrong wrong. When someone gets a specific thing wrong it is sometimes hard to say if it is because of base ignorance, nefarious intent (willful ignorance), or just one of those things someone didn’t happen to know. Since I am an anthropologist as well as a self-described expert (sub guru level, class II) on The West Wing, and Roger is neither, I will assume that he is not likely to get a West Wing reference even when it bites him in the face, even when West Wing references are dernier cri.

Refer to this post for background.

Having read the post, you understand that Judith (and Roger, but more Judith, because she is an actual climate scientists) rogered themselves — screwed themselves over — by leading Congress to the edge of the cliff, the metaphorical cliff you push federal funding programs off of, then asking to get pushed off the cliff before realizing what they were doing. I think that is clear.

Now, have a look at this brief scene from the West Wing.

See how the dairy farmer got rogered by President Bartlet back before he was running for president?

Now, have a look at some of Roger’s latest twittering.

So, Roger is accusing me of making a rape joke. I forgive you, Roger, because you are not up to this conversation and I understand that.

Now, I’m off to be interviewed for a local show on Minnesota’s Science March, coming up, then we’ve got a birthday in the family and gotta get ready for that!

Mann, did Judith Curry ever get Rogered!

I was just thinking about Roger Pielke Jr. and Judith Curry, and the interesting situation they have found themselves in.

The hole they dug and climbed into. The corner they’ve painted themselves into. The metaphor that mightily mired them.

I’m talking about the situation they’ve created for themselves over the last few years as they’ve sunk into various states of denial of the reality or importance of global warming and its effects. Don’t confuse the two of them, they are very different. If anything, Roger is a true believer warmist who has a particular ax to grind that blinds him to the bigger picture, while Curry has gone pretty much all the way down the rabbit hole insisting that we can’t know anything about global warming because we don’t know everything about global warming.

The recent Congressional hearings at which the two of them testified (along with a full on denier whom I’m ignoring right now, and actual scientist Michael Mann) exemplify this problem they have. There they were, tooling along with their denial or uncertainty or ax grinding, questioning the science and the appropriate policy, sucking up to the Republicans on the committee … until suddenly, near the end of the hearings … WHAM!!!!! Game over. Like the hovering lake fly that believes the trout to be a benevolent god right up to the moment the trout sucks the fly into its gut. (Apologies to Terry Pratchett.)

These thoughts were coming to me as I listed to Ira Flatow interview Mike Mann on Science Friday. I wasn’t quite sure if I would write up my thoughts, when I suddenly noticed some activity on Twitter. Apparently, Roger Pielke Jr was also listening to Ira interview Mike, and he had a reaction.

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 1.24.32 PM(Note: I had to sneak on an twitter sans-account to see Roger’s comments, since he blocked me long ago. Oddly, his dad, Roger Pielke Sr. recently started following me on Twitter, so I suspect the Pielkes are spying on me. Anyway, since Roger avoids direct communication with me, ever since I criticized some of his work, if you know him, do send him this post because I’d love to hear his response!)

Anyway, Mike said some stuff and Roger’s hair caught on fire. Then, Judith Curry jumped in to egg Roger on. And now her hair is on fire too. I am not going to respond here to that particular fight; Rather, I want to relate the thoughts I had prior to the Twitternado. But, for your edification, I provide the following links and documentation.

Here is where you go to listen to the Science Friday podcast. (Listen to all of it, both interviews are quite interesting!)

Then, here are the tweets that I know of:

It occurred to me that my thoughts are best demonstrated via the medium of speculative fiction. Or, more exactly, a speculative fiction screenplay.


A Congressional Hearing Room. Congressman Smitty Lamar, a conservative anti science Texan, is running the hearings. The topic is, “Climate Change and Why Science Is Always Being Done Wrong By Scientists.”

The witnesses include Jane Curry, a retired professor of climate science who is now well known for her belief that scientists don’t know anything about science, and Roger Pielke III, a political scientist who is well know for his assertion that climate change is not a bad thing, no matter how bad it is, because we can adapt to anything, and once we’ve adapted to something it is no longer bad, right?

Both witnesses have had a fairly comfortable life in academia, living off the largess of the US Government, who has funded nearly 100% of their research. They hope to continue to get grants, or to work on government funded projects. They also do accept that climate change might be an important problem, though Jane believes we can never know and Roger believes that it can never matter, and they would like the government to acknowledge it just enough to keep funding work on it.

Smitty Lamar, on the other hand, along with his colleagues on the Committee of Science, believe that the government should not spend another dime on climate change research, and that the academic structure in which this research should be done needs to be disassembled, possibly made illegal. He feels that scientists should no longer be in charge of deciding what is important, or what research to do, or what the research means. This should all be decided by the Committee of Science of the Congress. Lamar and his colleagues see this as part of a general shift in the US towards accepting Russian and Soviet cultural, political, and economic themes, like Oligarchy and Giant Propaganda Machines. (Little known fact: Smitty Lamar’s recently acquired pet schnauzer is called “Lysenko.”)

A third witness for the hearing is the famous climate scientist Michael Person, who is a well established figure in the earth system science community and is there to represent the 97% of the other climate scientists, who clearly, according to Smitty Lamar, have it all wrong.


Lamar: Dr. Person, could you please tell the Committee why the American People should believe you when you say that climate change, global warming as some call it, is real, and why we should care?

Person: Well, for one thing, we can see it. Global surface temperatures have been going up for decades…

Lamar [interrupting]: So the only thing you have to offer us is “consensus” [The term “consensus” stated with saccharine voice]. Let me tell you something, Dr. Person. Science is NOT a popularity contest. The simple fact that every scientist agrees on the same basic facts means nothing to this body. Dr. Curry, what do you think about climate change?

Curry: Well, I’m here to tell you that I just don’t know, and nobody else does. Even the IPCC has said that there is a 0.00002% chance that global warming is not actually happening, and furthermore, a 0.000000456% chance that it is not related AT ALL to human activities.

Lamar: Very well, thank you Dr. Curry. Now, Dr. III, what is your opinion about climate change?

III: Well, yes, the Earth is warming, and yes, things have changed, and yes, humans have something to do with it, but my research shows that nothing of any importance has actually happened. For example, if we take all the hurricanes, and ignore the vast majority of them because they happen in other countries, and then take all the ones that threaten us and ignore them because they happened to not hit us even if they did wipe out some Caribbean islands, and then take the remainder that happen to occur on land and ignore one or two of the biggest ones on technical grounds, then, really…

Lamar [interrupting]: Thank you Dr. III, I appreciate your comments. Now, I would like to propose to you that we change the way we do science, so that this crazy idea of consensus is cast aside and that we allow the opinions of the minority rule, pay attention only to the few who believe something entirely different from the rest of the community, that this would be a good thing. Dr. Person, your thoughts?

Person: Well, that is exactly the opposite of how science works, Congressman. Consensus is not a beauty contest as you call it, but it does involve …

Lamar [interrupting]: Thank you Dr. P. Dr. Curry, what do you think?

Curry: Yes, indeed, we are a repressed minority, and the rest of the scientific community treats us very badly, they are all bullies …

Lamar [interrupting]: Thank you Dr. Curry, Dr. III, let’s hear your feelings on this matter.

III: I agree with my colleague Dr. Curry. Dr. Person is one of the worst. They are always telling us that our data are no good, or our conclusions are wrong, and they are constantly being mean to us by insisting that our work is subject to review and analysis of the rest of the community of…

Lamar [interrupting]: Thank you Dr. III. Now, I think the American People deserve the red, white, and blue truth here, and they need to be given a break, and we need to stop spending valuable time and energy learning things that we already know are highly inconvenient. So, I’m proposing that all federal funding for climate change research, and research in all cognate fields, be terminated, and the federal agency NOAA be terminated and all climate change related work at NASA and EPA be stopped, and also, since a mere majority of highly biased climate scientists believe in any of this anyway, that we purge all the data and make it against the law to spend public money on any of this, just like we did with firearms related morbidity and mortality research.

Dr Person, what do you think about my proposal?

Person: Well, that would be the exact opposite of what we should…

Lamar [interrupting]: Actually, Dr. Person, I wanted to ask you a different question. Are you now or have you ever been a tree hugging hippie?

Person: Um … I don’t think so. Well, I did go to a conference at Berkeley once, but I never had long hair or anything…

Lamar [interrupting]: Dr. Person, I expect you to provide proof for the record as soon as you can, over the next few days, that you have never had hair. Now, Dr. Curry, what is your response to the termination of all funding for science and illegalization of all science related activities????

Curry: Um…. gulp….

Lamar [interrupting]: Thank you Dr. Curry. Dr. III, I ‘m sure you agree with me?

III: Well, um, actually … gulp …

Lamar [interrupting]: Thank you Dr. III. That is all the time we have for today. Besides I have to rush off to a meeting with my friend Alec….

I’ll leave you with this:

Clay Higgins: McCarthyism

Scientists are now being subjected to unbridled McCarthyism.

Eventually the transcript will be available, but for now you’ll have to just trust me on this. Congressman Clay Higgins, Republican on Lamar Smith’s alt-Science committee, demanded today to know if climate scientist Michael Mann (author of The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, and By Michael E. Mann – Dire Predictions, Second Edition: Understanding Climate Change“>this book) is a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. It turns out that Mann is not. I wonder what would have happened if he was?

Anyway, after Mann answered the question, Higgins demanded that Dr. Mann provide proof that he is not a member of the Communist … er, I mean, Union of Concerned Scientists.

I’ve heard that the only way to prove that you are not a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists is to be tossed in a pond, and if you float, you are a member. (Or do I have that backwards?)

Anyway, I made a nice card for Mike Mann to send in if he likes:
Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 1.28.08 PM

And, of course, the obligatory Monty Python video:

Arduino Playground: Book Review of a Serious Maker Book

Arduino Playground: Geeky Projects for the Experienced Maker is not for the faint of heart. Unless the faint of heart person plans to build a pacemaker with an arduino!

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 9.03.55 PMMost books about making electronic projects, including and especially Raspberry Pi or Arduino projects, have a bit up front about tools and technology. You’ll need a screwdriver, maybe a magnifying glass, some extra wire, that sort of thing. Arduino Playground: Geeky Projects for the Experienced Maker does that too, but it is a bit more extreme. Maybe you need a tap and die set, oh, and here are some neat tips on designing and building at home your own circuit boards. Oh, and here is how to take apart different controllers and recombine them Frankenstein-like to be able to use a USB cable to access the serial subsystem on the one that normally lets you do that.

This is the kind of preparation you need if you are going to build some of the more complex projects in this book. For example, the automatic watch winder shown here, or a regulated power supply, or a highly accurate industry standard pH meter, or a device to measure how fast a bullet comes out of a gun, or a special fancy thermometer, or agitator for circuit board etching. There’s that circuit board etching again.

Author Warren Andrews takes the reader through these and a couple of other projects, providing a lot of technical information, theory, technique, and very good instructions. This is a highly advanced book, starting somewhat beyond the level of the preliminary intro books (suggesting there may be a need for more medium level books on this topic?) and truly challenging the maker in some unexpected and interesting ways.

Andrews is up to the task as well, having a lifetime of experience at major corporations such as GE and Motorola where he did this kind of tinkering for the big players.

I’m probably going to build the pH meter. What are you going to build?

From the publisher:

You’ve mastered the basics, conquered the soldering iron, and programmed a robot or two; now you’ve got a set of skills and tools to take your Arduino exploits further. But what do you do once you’ve exhausted your to-build list?

Arduino Playground will show you how to keep your hardware hands busy with a variety of intermediate builds, both practical and just-for-fun. Advance your engineering and electronics know-how as you work your way through … 10 complex projects

Table of Contents:

Chapter 0: Setting Up and Useful Skills
Chapter 1: The Reaction-Time Machine
Chapter 2: An Automated Agitator for PCB Etching
Chapter 3: The Regulated Power Supply
Chapter 4: A Watch Winder
Chapter 5: The Garage Sentry Parking Assistant
Chapter 6: The Battery Saver
Chapter 7: A Custom pH Meter
Chapter 8: Two Ballistic Chronographs
Chapter 9: The Square-Wave Generator
Chapter 10: The Chromatic Thermometer

Go Fund David Weinlick

Some of you may know David Weinlick, especially if you are active in politics in the Twin Cities, or associated with the University of Minnesota. He is well known around these parts for his political activism and important role in the DFL (that’s how Minnesotans spell “Democratic Party”). He was the Party Affairs Director for the Minnesota DFL until 2014, and until recently the Vice Chair of the Fourth Congressional District for the Minnesota DFL.

If that does not ring a bell, this might: David Weinlick essentially invented a new kind of TV (now known as reality TV) when he asked his friends to choose a marriage parter for him. That project developed into a major contest culminating with their marriage at the Mall of America.

Most people, when they hear that story, have a negative, sometimes even angry reaction or at least, are dismissive of it. That is, however, an ignorant reaction since most people don’t know the people involved, why any of this happened, or how it happened.

Dave was a graduate student in my department at the time. He was a cultural anthropology student, and I was a professor in paleoanthropology at a department with inexplicably deep divisions between the disciplines, so naturally we didn’t know each other particularly well. The experiment that David carried out was a bold one, and an interesting one, and was, as I understand it, predicated on the premise that people are not necessarily that good at finding long term mates in the usual ways open to them in American society. The hope was that a more thoughtful process (carried out by friends, many of whom were anthropologists, who should know a thing or two) could produce better results than, say, the bar scene, or the then nascent online dating systems, etc.

And it worked. Elizabeth and David Weinlick had a happy and long lasting marriage, children, all of that.

That is all the good news. The bad news is that David has of late been struggling with illness, and currently has Stage 4 colon, liver, and abdomen cancer. He is nearing the end of his life, but his life can be extended meaningfully with further treatment. I observed my mother-in-law die of this disease recently. She had health problems aside from the cancer, so when that last possible round of chemotherapy was considered, she was told that the treatment would be more deadly for her than the cancer, and she was sent home. She died weeks later. My understanding is that David is in that stage of his disease, but he is much younger and much stronger, not plagued by other complicating diseases, so his life can be extended from a few months without treatment to three to four years with treatment, based on current estimates from his doctors.

There is a Go Fund Me page set up for David, here.

Even with relatively good health insurance, Dave, his wife Bethy, and their four children are going to face some real hardships in the coming months. We don’t want finances to add pressure to their decisions about his treatment or about how they spend their time together.

Dave’s given a lot of himself, sharing his time and energy and relentless optimism, and it’s time for us to give back. Please contribute what you can to ease the Weinlick family’s burden during this difficult time.

Please drop by his page and fork over a few bucks!

Crew: Mark Steyn Was Abusive and Obnoxious

Mark Steyn is well known to readers of this blog as the intentionally obnoxious Canadian version of Rush Limbaugh who is being sued by our friend and colleague Michael Mann, author of the recent “The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy,” for defamation. Steyn is also the author of a terrible book attacking all the climate scientists. Steyn has gone after a lot of pro-science people, including me, and I heard a rumor that he likes to crush kittens. OK, maybe he doesn’t crush kittens, but he is explicitly and intentionally (I assume), as part of his act, an unmitigated ass.

Recently, he started a show on CRTV, which is a right wing on line radio show of some kind. Then, they canned him. Then, he sued to keep the show on while a breach of contract suit was proposed, giving as the reason for the stay that he felt obligated to protect the show’s employees, who would be hurt but ending it.

Then, the show’s employees came out and said what they think about Steyn.

Of Steyn’s implied relationship to his employees, “It’s bullshit, frankly. They all hate him,” says one perso in the know.

These employees claim that Steyn ruined the show by being a jerk to everyone, verbally abusing them, calling them names, etc. He had them run personal errands, and misappropriated CRTV funds on personal purchases.

The Daily Beast has the story, well documented and clearly laid out, here.

Steyn has been the subject of discussion on this blog numerous times:

  • Mark Steyn’s Latest Trick
  • <li><strong><a href="">Mark Steyn, The DC Appeals Court, and Congress</a></strong></li>
    <li><strong><a href="">Mark Steyn’s Newest Attack On Michael Mann And The Hockey Stick</a></strong></li>
    <li><strong><a href="">Mark Steyn and Judith Curry</a></strong></li>

    It finally happened to me

    I had a bunch of quarters in my pocket. About six dollars worth, along with a couple of one dollar coins.

    I pulled all the change out of my pocket and placed it on a desktop. I walked away.

    A few minutes later, I went to grab the coins so I could bring them to my office and toss them in the coin jar.

    One of the coins, quarter or dollar I can not say, was standing on its edge.

    My hand was faster than my brain, so I grabbed all the quarters up, thus knocking down the standing coin. I was therefore unable to test the hypothesis that if you drop some coins somewhere and one stands on edge, you can hear people’s thoughts until the coin falls over.

    I do remember hearing a static like sound that meant nothing. The only other creature in the house was the cat. So, that makes sense.