Wolraich: Obama at the Gates of... Gates
Dr. C: In Praise of Writing Binges
Maiello: Gatsby Doesn't Grate
Yesterday, the New York Times' Straight Sets blog raved about the intensity of the Nadal-Federer semifinal, but this morning's match between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray was a dogfight. I woke up at 4:30AM to a score of Djokovic leading 6-3, 3-5, but Novak fell behind on serve and was broken to lose the second set. All even.
The third set was very tight. The first game, Djokovic serving, took over ten minutes. Murray was serving crisply and controlling the baseline rallies with tightly-angled forehands. Reportedly suffering from a "stuffy nose," Djokovic looked tired and far less confident than usual. He wasn't serving that well, and repeatedly had to fight back to hold his own service games. Nole did well to reach a tiebreak, but couldn't hold off Murray. Andy only needed to keep going and take the fourth set. Crikey, even Ivan Lendl cracked a smile. [Read more]
The Earthman boldly stalked into the arena. Far up in the stands, he saw his prize: Ballista Thorax, Princess of Barstoolm. He had left one wife on Earth, and already had taken another in Helium, but Newt was not one to let a healthy, unclaimed princess go begging. To impress her, he must defeat all comers.
His current challenger was a tall Martian, green, the color of Earth money, with one head, two faces and dozens of arms. The challenge master, a red Martian, was introducing them. "From the cold of the NorthEast, I bring you Mittmentum, one of our green cousins, who will fight the pasty white stranger called Geengriiich."
Women's tennis will have a new #1 next week, and the current top-ranked player, Caroline Wozniacki, will drop to #4 in the WTA rankings. A lot of scenarios were possible before the semis, but now that third seed Victoria Azarenka and fourth seed Maria Sharapova are to play the finals, the winner will also secure the #1 ranking.
I just added Operation Plowshare to the long list of stuff I never knew about.
Following links, I ended up at 1967 Recklessness in PA Equals Destruction? at How Should We Do the Mountain blog: [Read more]
In hindsight, the plan seems impossibly audacious: Explode a 24-kiloton atomic bomb in the thick shale beneath the Sproul State Forest near State College to create a massive cavern for storing natural gas. Known as Project Ketch, it was a partnership between the Columbia Gas System Service Corp. and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, which was hungry to find peaceful purposes for nuclear technology. (Another commission brainchild of the era: to nuke its way across Panama to create a second canal.)
Back then, Harrisburg had the red carpet out for any nuclear project, no matter how bizarre, and the proposal caught on. Why not put all that empty forest land to good use? Pennsylvania could cash in big, because the industry and the AEC hoped to detonate as many as 1,000 nuclear bombs to allow gas storage in the Northeast.
While the plan had the blessing of lawmakers from downstream districts along the Susquehanna, the reception wasn’t as enthusiastic upstream. Among those opposed were the residents of Renovo, which was ground zero for Project Ketch.
Back in the 1980s, no one could replicate Pons and Fleischmann's claims about cold fusion, and the idea of controlled fusion without tremendous costs became a sort of atomic snake oil. ITER's tremendously expensive controlled "hot" fusion is still decades away from practicality, but the hydrogen bomb seems to suffice as proof of concept. Cold fusion has crept back into the news, but not into peer-reviewed discussion. Skeptics attack the few articles published with a fury. Peak Oil guru Tom Whipple is used to doubt, and has followed the issue dispassionately in a handful of articles. His Cold Fusion Update discusses the current claims of Italian entrepreneur Andrea Rossi: [Read more]
We're half a month into 2012. Novak Djokovic's streak is long gone and most of the top names are at the Australian Open. Even though Australia is not presently as big a tennis powerhouse as say, Russia, tradition has the AO as the first major of the year. While planning the first Grand Slam—winning all four majors in one year—Don Budge was advised to skip the Australian Championships. In 1938, Australia took several weeks to reach by steamship, and his friends warned that he was such an attraction that the Aussies would play him to death in preliminary tournaments. But Budge schemed to win all four majors before turning pro, and had to start down under—as did Maureen Connolly, Rod Laver (twice), Margaret Smith Court and Steffi Graf. [Read more]
Cute to see Bloomberg tell Sadik-Khan to stay in the bike lane, but hardly the funniest part.
Even though Detroit is hurting, the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is still a big deal in the industry. The historically Big Three did fairly well in 2011, particularly Chrysler, which increased sales some 26% more than 2010. I hated Chrysler's product line at last year's Baltimore show, but their Imported From Detroit campaign included several redesigned models. I read one article that attributed Chrysler's comeback to a patriotic fervor stimulated by the 2011 Superbowl advertisement featuring Eminem. That would be ironic, because since June, Fiat owns about 58% of Chrysler Group, LLC. [Read more]
I'm hoping Nissan shows the Leaf at the next Auto Show. I recently looked more closely at the specs. When the Leaf was first released, forced-air cabin heating was standard, and a cold weather package was optional. In chillier areas, the cold weather package was standard. In summer 2011, Nissan offered the cold weather package as standard throughout the US. It seems that cabin heating draws 3 to 5 KW and reduces the 75 or 100 mile range (depending on who you believe), which is already a source of concern for American drivers. Presumably front and rear heated seats, a heated steering wheel and a rear HVAC duct draw much lower wattage and eventually heat the cabin air. The package also includes a battery heater and heated outside mirrors. [Read more]