Archive for August, 2006

Sun rises, dog bites man, women spend lots of time on their hair

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

British women spend an average of £36,903.75 and two years on their hair throughout their lifetimes, according to a new study. Which is a shame, because there are other things they might want to consider prioritizing instead… just saying… ;)

P.S. In an entirely unrelated story, also out of Britain, the world’s meanest cat has been cornered, collared and captured. Mrrrooowwww!

New York Times censors itself in Britain

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

I’m not particularly fond of this.

Sen. Stevens, at it again

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

Senator Ted Stevens, R – Bridge to Nowhere Alaska is in the news again.

He has been revealed as the Senator who is holding up a bill with bi-partisan support that would require the government to publish an online database of federal spending. Bloggers on both sides of the aisle have been doggedly pursuing the identity of the “secret senator” who was holding up the bill, urging citizens to contact their Senators and ask them if they were the one holding up the bill. Even Senate Leader Bill Frist blogged on his PAC website urging senators to answer the question when it was put to them.

Senator Stevens office claims this was never a secret and that the Senator has some concerns about the bill going forward. However Senator Coburn’s office claims that it took weeks of questioning for Stevens to admit to being the bill’s holder, and that Steven’s staff still has not met with Coburn’s. In addition Stevens sits on the commitee where the bill was considered and would have had ample opportunity to discuss it and have his questions answered if he had not skipped the commitee meetings.

Ernesto over Cape Canaveral; Hurricane John eyes California (!)

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

Tropical Depression Ernesto is now centered roughly over Cape Canaveral, Florida, according to the latest radar loop.

Please be patient; the animation may take a moment to fully load.

Ernesto is slowly edging its way off the Florida east coast, as you can see. When it’s finally back fully over water again, it could strengthen:


The forecast track takes it toward South Carolina. But how strong will it be? Brian Neudorff wonders if Ernesto “still has a hurricane in it.” Dr. Jeff Masters says no:

None of the forecast models or the official NHC forecast are calling for this to become a hurricane, though. The passage over Florida has weakened it to the point where it would take more time over water than Ernesto will have. It is possible that Ernesto will intensify very little, as happened when it popped off the coast of Cuba. The most likely intensity at its second landfall in South Carolina is 40-55 mph.

Mark Sudduth at Hurricane Track is a bit more bullish about Ernesto’s prospects. Charles Fenwick stays out of that debate, but takes an interesting look at how the various computer models performed in predicting the storm’s first landfall.

But getting back to Dr. Masters, he’s covering the real big tropical stories of the hour: Hurricane John and Supertyphoon Ioke, both in the Pacific. John is a Category 4 monster off the coast of Mexico, and is expected to “move parallel to the coast over the next two days, but close enough to bring hurricane force winds to the coast at times. Any slight deviation towards the coast will bring the hurricane’s dangerous core ashore, and would make John one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the Pacific coast of Mexico.

But could John affect California? I haven’t heard any serious talk about a SoCal hurricane (or, more realistically, tropical storm) since 1997, when mighty Hurricane Linda threatened San Diego (but ultimately went out to sea). Now, however, Dr. Masters is talking about the possibility — though he thinks it’s unlikely:

Water temperatures along the Pacific coast of Mexico are 1-2 degrees C above normal all the way to the California coast, giving 2006 the possibility of allowing a tropical storm to reach California. It is very rare for an Eastern Pacific storm to move far enough north to affect the Arizona or California. Since 1900, only four tropical cyclones have brought tropical storm force winds to the Southwestern United States: an unnamed tropical storm that made landfall near Long Beach, CA, in 1939 (52 mph winds south of L.A.); the remnants of Hurricane Joanne in 1972; the remnants of Hurricane Kathleen in 1976 (76 mph wind gust at Yuma, AZ); and the remnants of Hurricane Nora in 1997. In addition, a hurricane just missed making landfall in October 1858 and brought hurricane force winds to San Diego and tropical storm force winds all the way to Los Angeles.

In order to affect California, a tropical cyclone would have to be moving quickly, so the the cold waters off the coast would not weaken it too fast. The alternative would be for the storm to barrel up the narrow Gulf of California, where water temperatures remain warm all the way to the end. [Such a storm wouldn’t actually make landfall in the U.S., but it would quickly cross into southeastern California or southern Arizona; see map. -ed.] To my knowledge, no such storm has ever been able to shoot more than half way up the narrow Gulf of California before dashing itself to pieces on the rugged terrain on either side. I’d be surprised if John manages to bring tropical storm force winds to the U.S.

Overheard at Notre Dame

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

Girl, walking on the quad, talking on her cell phone:

“You’re so hilarious, Jesus Christ. [pause] I shouldn’t say that here.”

Be careful what you say, kids… Big Brother Holy Mother is watching you… :)

West Nile ain’t just a mosquito in Egypt

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

There are West Nile-infected mosquitoes in Newington. EVERYBODY PANIC!!! ;)

Ernesto now a T.D.; John threatens Mexico, Ioke to “submerge” Wake Island

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

Tropical Storm Ernesto, which has proven thus far to be more of a soggy nuisance than a deadly threat, has officially weakened to a tropical depression.

Brian Neudorff is all Ernesto’ed out. says, “It will cause fair amounts of rain, but overall will not be a too serious event for the state.” NHC director Max Mayfield is surprised Ernesto didn’t strengthen as expected: “As a homeowner, I’m very happy. As a forecaster, I’m not very happy.” The Palm Beach Post‘s Bob King, sounding a similar theme, proclaims, “Ernest-D’Oh!.”

Dr. Jeff Masters explains what happened:

Tropical Storm Ernesto waited until the final hours before landfall to finally put its act together, much to the benefit of South Florida. The pressure dropped from 1005 to 1001 mb as the storm came ashore about midnight, but the winds did not have time to adjust to the lower pressure, and Ernesto still had just 45 mph winds at landfall. A tropical storm in the developing phase is a fussy thing, and a number of ingredients have to come together just right for rapid intensification. I believe that the presence of Cuba to the south and the Florida Peninsula to the north, along with the particular pattern of upper air flow that existed, combined to create a turbulent air pattern with multiple vortices that made consolidation of the storm around just one central vortex difficult. One could see these multiple vortices in long radar loops last night, and it was not until just before landfall that Ernesto managed to consolidate around a single center and start to intensify. Had the storm had another 24 hours over the warm waters, it would have been a hurricane.

Now that it’s over land, Ernesto is actually holding together fairly well, according to Adam Moyer at The Storm Track (which has a nifty new layout this morning). He explains: “This is most likely due to Ernesto moving over the Everglades, a swampy, warm water source. While obviously not as good as the Gulf of Mexico, it’s also not nearly as bad as moving over the mountains of the Greater Antilles.”

So, what now? Sayeth Moyer:

[I]t appears that Ernesto will be accelerating to the north-northeast this morning and early afternoon, most likely moving off the Florida coast between Daytona and Cape Canaveral. Once off the coast, Ernesto will have the opportunity to reintensify over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream before making another landfall near the North Carolina-South Carolina border. The computer models are in good agreement with this forecast, and the next landfall should take place Thursday night and into Friday morning.

The intensity forecast is slightly tricky. Most of the models have Ernesto coming ashore along the Carolinas as a moderate tropical storm, which is the most likely scenario. However, the warm waters of the Gulf Stream have been known quickly to spin up tropical cyclones. I’d give it about a 10% chance that Ernesto makes landfall as a hurricane in the Carolinas.

Meanwhile, Dr. Masters discusses the real monsters in the tropics, out in the Pacific:

Hurricane John
The most serious situation in the tropics today is off the west coast of Mexico, where Category 3 Hurricane John is. John has just completed an eyewall replacement cycle, and is expected to intensify into a Category 4 hurricane today. The Air Force Hurricane Hunters are in the storm now, since it presents a serious threat to the coast of Mexico from Acapulco to Manzanillo.

Super Typhoon Ioke
The incredible Category 5 Supertyphoon Ioke continues to trek over the Western Pacific, and is expected to submerge tiny Wake Island later today. The entire population of the island has been eveacuated to Hawaii.

Eragon trailer leaked!

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

When I found out last week that the Eragon trailer had been delayed again, for the fourth time — count ’em: 1, 2, 3, 4 — I didn’t even bother to blog about it. Honestly, I thought, who cares at this point? Who the heck knows when that darn trailer is actually going to come out?

But now, at last, some good news: the trailer has been leaked! Sure, it’s a crappy-quality, videotape-of-a-screen, soundless (well, dialogue-less) version, but it looks legit. See for yourself here! CanMag, my primary source for Eragon-trailer-related news, writes:

Sure, it isn’t the best resolution and it is video taped, but it features a f*ckin’ dragon people! [I have had it with these m*****f***in’ scales on this m*****f***in’ dragon! -ed.]

The best part is that the ‘teaser’ actually looks way better than I could have hoped considering that Fox keeps delaying the damn thing.

CanMag adds, “I would again like to point out that there is a chance that this is NOT the teaser trailer for Eragon or at least not a videotape of the finished version.” I guess we won’t know for sure until the trailer actually debuts, which at this rate, will probably be about a week before the movie opens. ;)

UPDATE: The above-linked trailer has been removed, with the explanation: “This video has been removed at the request of copyright owner Twentieth Century Fox because its content was used without permission.” Well, I guess that confirms it was legit! And now it’s available here, for the moment. Shur’tugal explains where it came from:

Shur’tugal fans from Germany recently attended the German Games Convention over in Germany where they were lucky enough to see the Eragon trailer (the same one that was shown to us at Comic-Con in July) being played on TV screens. Acting as any smart Inheritance fan would, they captured the video for all of the fans. Unfortunately, the video doesn’t have audio, but this version is unwatermarked. Big thanks to Norm!

Me on the Tee Vee

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

Granted, the video clip is a little small, it has a digital hiccup on the word “alarmist,” and it ends a syllable too soon… but still, it’s proof, for those who missed it, that I really was in a Spike Lee movie. :)

source file

Thanks, Toni, for recording it and sending it to me!!

P.S. New readers who came here via the movie: click here for relevant info.

P.P.S. Here’s the post that I read aloud in the movie. Here, here, here and here are discussions of why that “100,000” number really wasn’t far-fetched at all, and it was only dumb luck that Katrina’s toll wasn’t far worse than what actually occurred.

P.P.P.S. If anybody has a higher-resolution video, and/or a clip of my self-identification/website plug at the end, please e-mail me at tips [at] Thanks!

Do you match your socks?

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

When I do my laundry, I always match my socks. I don’t organize them in my sock drawer by color or anything like that, but I do match them. Brendan always makes fun of me for my matchmaking tendencies, but I’m convinced I’m in the majority. So mwahaha. I’m airing our clean laundry and all of you can prove me right. Do you match your socks too?


Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Tropical Storm Ernesto has made landfall near Key Largo:

Please be patient; it may take the animation a few moments to load.

There is no evidence yet — none that I can see, anyway — of the sharp right-hand turn that the NHC is expecting. Hmm. [UPDATE: But maybe I’m focusing too much on the narrowest circulation center I can spot? Looking more broadly at the area of relative calm at the center of the storm — the “quasi-eye,” if you will — it seems to be moving northwest. But looking at the pinpoint circulation center, it seems to be moving WNW, maybe even wobbling toward due west in the last few frames. Latest radar loop here.]

Anyway, Mark Sudduth at Hurricane Track writes: “Needless to say, [Ernesto’s] impacts were quite minimal here in south Florida and after two seasons of relentless hurricanes, I am sure people are just fine with what happened.”

UPDATE, 12:45 AM: In the 11:00 PM discussion, the NHC said:


A brief stall like that can sometimes indicate that a change in direction is imminent — and, sure enough, in the last few radar frames, it looks to my untrained eye like Ernesto is finally moving ashore for real, and heading in a more northerly direction.

UPDATE, 1:22 AM: Yup. Definitely on shore now.

Again, please be patient; it may take the animation a few moments to load.

The NHC was exactly right, in its forecasts throughout the day today, about the timing of this important right-hand turn. Kudos to Max Mayfield & co.

Welcome to my blog!

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Once again: Welcome, HBO viewers! Viewers of tonight’s Spike Lee documentary who aren’t familiar with my blog — and thus don’t understand why the heck I, of all people, was in the movie — may want to read this post for a bit of background information.

P.S. To read my reactions to the movie, check out these posts:
Thoughts on Spike Lee’s movie so far
What Spike Lee didn’t tell us
Fair and balanced — not

Daddy Leinart

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Reportedly, Matt Leinart is going to be a dad. (Hat tip: Jessica Cowans.) More here.

No, it’s not Paris Hilton‘s, thank God — and I say that for the sake of Leinart, the baby and all humanity. :) Rather, it’s his USC (ex-?)girlfriend, and Women of Troy basketball player, Brynn Cameron‘s. They’re expecting a baby boy.

Cameron is reportedly due in November, which means… hmm… that’s a little too late to be the result of a post-Rose Bowl pity f**k, and a little too early to be the result of excessive post-NFL Draft celebration (besides, Leinart was reportedly canoodling with Paris by then). A Spring Break farewell fling, perhaps? [UPDATE: This theory is actually quite plausible! Arash wrote in April that Leinart and Cameron “broke up…last month.”]

Well anyway, even if Leinart and Cameron don’t end up together, at least we know the Arizona Cardinals QB shouldn’t have any trouble making his child-support payments!

CNN Breaking News

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Hurricane watch lifted for all of Florida, but remains in effect for coastal areas of Georgia and the Carolinas, National Hurricane Center Says. Visit CNN for the latest.

NWS says my photos don’t prove nothin’ :)

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Last week, I sent the local National Weather Service office a link to my Michigan City wind damage photos, which I described as a possible “smoking gun” proving that a tornado hit the area. I just got a reply from an NWS forecaster, who thanked me for the photos but begged to differ with my conclusion, basically concluding that lexicon was right. I quote from the forecaster’s e-mail:

Thanks for your time and energy in bringing this to our attention. We are always looking for photos and video of weather related damage and anything else weather related.

As a matter of fact, while we were on our damage survey, we did see the bleachers. They were rolled several times.

In other surveys I have done over the last dozen years in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio…I have seen many rolled into pretzels just like this set. The funny thing is, these type bleachers tend to get airborne in 90 to 100 mph winds…whether they are associated with a tornado or with damaging straight line winds.

One thing is for sure…the Michigan City to Westville areas experienced a horrific wind storm. This storm is a rarity. One the area will likely not see again in a lifetime (I hope!). Our job, at the NWS, now is to decide what caused the damage as best as humanly possible. You know, we had a Tornado Warning out for the storm…so us classifying it as wind damage gives us a miss on our statistics. This negatively effects our funding and reputation. Frankly, as a scientist, I don’t care about the verification statistics when we are doing damage surveys…we are trying to determine what caused the damage based on the facts and our knowledge.

When determining what caused wind damage we look at many things. We are looking for damage that converges (is a result of suction) or that which occurred with outflow (winds blowing out of the thunderstorm). To determine this we interview eye witnesses, meticulously examine surface at the damage, look at the damage from aircraft, also we review the radar signatures and examine the atmosphere at the time. We attempt to put all the clues together, like a crime scene, and figure out what happened.

All the clues continue to point to a widespread “straight line” wind event. This event was extremely uncommon and best relate it to a hurricane. There was 30 miles by 30 miles damage. The biggest tornado on record is near a mile wide…therefore all the damage that occurred could not have been caused by “a” tornado. There could have been small tornadoes embedded in the hurricane type winds, but we could not find sufficient evidence to substantiate them. By the way, we are still looking for any other damage information we can get, including still pictures and movies of the storm. (I would love to be able to give us a hit on the Tornado Warning!)

Interesting, very interesting.