Saturday, April 28, 2007

Weng Weng Can't Be Stopped

Or is it Wang Wang? I did myself and the rest of the world a great injustice when I failed to post this the day my little sister Patsy sent it over:

They just don't make films like that any more.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Who'd a Thunk It

Wait, Al Gore's carbon offset fantasy is a scam? You're kidding:

Companies and individuals rushing to go green have been spending millions on “carbon credit” projects that yield few if any environmental benefits.

A Financial Times investigation has uncovered widespread failings in the new markets for greenhouse gases, suggesting some organisations are paying for emissions reductions that do not take place.

Others are meanwhile making big profits from carbon trading for very small expenditure and in some cases for clean-ups that they would have made anyway.

The growing political salience of environmental politics has sparked a “green gold rush”, which has seen a dramatic expansion in the number of businesses offering both companies and individuals the chance to go “carbon neutral”, offsetting their own energy use by buying carbon credits that cancel out their contribution to global warming.

Well, what a surprise. A fake problem with an even faker solution that makes Al Gore and his buddies rich. How could that possibly go wrong?

That's What I Call Asskicking

Geekologie is right, this is the best unedited fight scene I've ever seen in a movie, starring Tony Jaa of Ong Bak fame. Just a joy to behold:

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Kissy Girl

This isn't the best picture of Sabrina, but it does chronicle her foray into kissing banditry. Sometimes she runs between Mommy and Daddy, bestowing kisses lovingly, for minutes at a time. It's just about the best thing ever.

She's also a big hugger right now, and seems to want to hug other kids, some of whom don't really want a hug. Which can be kind of heartbreaking, watching your daughter try to hug another kid and get knocked to the ground in the process. Fortunately Sabrina's such a trouper that it never bothers her, she just gets up and keeps trying to hug the kid.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Super Girl

Guess who caught a ball for the first time yesterday? We had been playing around with a little Nerf football the night before, and although she could fastball it off my breastbone from 5 feet away very consistently, we haven't really tried to get her to catch anything yet, so I tossed it to her about 15 times gently. On the last five or so I noticed she was closing her hands a little earlier each time, but she got tired and wanted Mommy after that so I took her upstairs to bed. Then the next morning, as she was eating some mango, I threw it gently at her chest, and as she was closing her hands a little late, it bounced off and hit her hands, and she caught it.

God I love first-time experiences with Sabrina, every one is such a wonderful gift and I'll remember them all forever.

UPDATE: I forgot, this pic was taken by my lovely sister Genie, who lost a good friend last week. Send her your love and prayers.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Now I'm Thoroughly Confused

Ever since my father explained that trees, or at least older trees, don't do much of the CO2 scrubbing that we imagine they do (saplings are a lot more helpful than 200-year-old behemoths, for example, and the grass under a big old tree generally does more for the "environment" than the tree itself does), I've been alarmed by how little the average person truly knows about any of this environmental stuff. It's not obvious to me that many people understand even a small slice of the Global Warming puzzle, and who really knows if trees help at all. No, seriously:

Before compact fluorescent light bulbs and ethanol, the first line of defense against global warming was planting trees.

Forests, after all, cool the atmosphere by drinking in carbon dioxide from the air. A new study, however, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that forests' other climatic effects can cancel out their carbon cleaning advantage in some parts of the world. Using a three-dimensional climate model, the research team mimicked full global deforestation and also studied the effects of lear-cutting in different regions of latitude, such as the tropics and boreal zones. Apparently, these natural carbon sinks only do their job effectively in tropical regions; in other areas, they have either no impact or actually contribute to warming the planet. In fact, according to this model, by the year 2100, if all the forests were cut and left to rot, the annual global mean temperature would decrease by more than 0.5 degree Fahrenheit. (Emphasis mine)

This is Scientific American, mind you, not exactly a supporter of the Bush administration or big business. And if you think that's confusing, read this:

Trees perform three major climate functions: They absorb carbon, which they pull from the atmosphere, creating a cooling effect; their dark green leaves absorb light from the sun, heating Earth's surface; and they draw water from the soil, which evaporates into the atmosphere, creating low clouds that reflect the sun's hot rays (a mechanism known as evotranspiration that also leads to cooling). These three factors—the second two being largely ignored in climate models up to this point, according to Caldeira—taken together created very different results in the primary latitudes studied: the equatorial tropic zone; the midlatitudes that include most of the U.S.; and the boreal areas, which are subarctic and include much of Canada, Russia and the northern extremities of the U.S.

In all three regions, forests dutifully perform their task of sucking carbon dioxide from the air, but light absorption and evotranspiration vary wildly. In tropical zones, forests have a significant, overall cooling effect. The soil is very wet and, so, via evotranspiration, the trees are covered by low-lying clouds that create a small albedo (power of light that is reflected by a surface). In nontropical areas, Caldeira explains, "the real significant factor is whether there's snow on the ground in the winter." If a forest covers a snowy expanse, "that has a strong warming influence," he notes, because of little cloud cover resulting from less efficiency in evaporating water. The poor cloud formation coupled with the intense absorption of light by the trees "far overwhelms the cooling influence of the carbon storage," he says.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Action Baby

This fine picture was taken by Sabrina's cousin Amber, who picked exactly the right moment to capture this slide. You can see me in the background, just having launched my daughter a little faster than she could go without me, and you can see how happy it makes her. Such a daring child, I fear Mommy's going to have a rough rest of her life worrying about the adventures of Sabrina.

Soon our little girl will graduate to the big kid slide, and that should be all kinds of fun. Anything but the big kiddie castle, built so adults can only enter by crouching down in the most unpleasantly uncomfortable way. Sabrina's not big or skilled enough to deal with the winding staircase and other dangers, so one of us has to murder our lower backs while supporting her throughout the damn thing. I want to burn it down.

Inside the Fuselage

Sabrina loves the little park near our house, and this tunnel leads to her favorite slide, which she loves to be pushed down so she can get a little more speed out of the deal. I haven't found her limits very often, I think I scared her pretty good once going too fast in the stroller (I've rarely felt like such a jerk, although apparently it wasn't too traumatic) but that's pretty much it. She cries when she falls or when strange people try to touch her, but that's it.

As much as I want to leave her alone while she's trying to do physical things, I have to admit I love being part of her adventure. As a former daredevil, I have a decent sense of when she's really in trouble and when it just looks dangerous, and I try to help her avoid disastrous consequences without denying her the chance to fail, because some lessons must be reinforced by pain to be truly learned. By which I mean I only catch her when it's going to be a bad fall, with blood and head injuries.

More park fun in a moment.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Ephemeral Nature of Art

This may be the most interesting thing I've posted on this blog. There may be some Photoshopping involved, but even so, smoke art is amazingly beautiful, in the same way that fire is beautiful in and of itself. The art part is an unexpected bonus.

Monday, April 02, 2007

'Cause I Got Into a Fistfight

That isn't really the reason Sabrina has steak on her head, but it sounds cool. She just gathered up the risotto, steak and spinach and made a jaunty little hat that I hope will become popular with the young folk. Maybe this simple act will usher in a new era of meat-based headgear, first on the runways of Milan and Paris, and eventually on aisle 38 at WalMart.

And when that happens, remember: it was Sabrina's idea, and she'll punch you in the nose if you say otherwise. Look at those dukes. They'll getcha.