Saturday, August 28, 2010

Language & the Way We Perceive the World

The myth of Eskimos with 30+ words for snow will live forever, but this is about the real impositions of language our on experience with the world.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Panama Canal's Ripple Effects

Panama is expanding its canal, which makes sense, given that they make up to $300,000 for every ship that passes through. But here's what makes this such huge news: the largest ship, called a Panamax, that can traverse the canal is also the largest ship ports along the East Coast must accommodate.

The original locks are about 1000ft long, a little under 110ft wide, and barely 40ft deep; there is also a bridge over the canal that provides nearly 200ft of clearance at low tide, which is apparently more than most ships drafting less than 40ft need. But for the 100th anniversary of the canal's opening, there will be a new set of locks parallel to the original pairs, nearly 60ft deep, 180ft wide, and 1200ft long. 

That means that the Port of Virginia will become much more important for the next generation or so, because they are already deep enough for a New Panamax and they are preparing for the new volume by doubling the size of every railroad tunnel between Norfolk and Chicago. The Savannah River will be dredged deeper and similar railroad improvements will follow. In New York, the harbor itself is big enough, but the port per se is no deeper than a Panamax, so it will have to be re-dredged and possibly redesigned, and the Bayonne Bridge is barely big enough for a Panamax--so within another 20 years, the Bayonne will be gone. Mind-blowing to think of all the repercussions of digging a bigger trench across Panama.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More and More, We're In Favor of English as the National Language

If only there were a way for Sarah Palin to find this out BEFORE she speaks. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday, August 09, 2010

A Brief History of Junk Food

From the NYTimes. Popsicles were in fact named after dear ol' Dad and Twinkies were originally banana-flavored. But even harder to believe, there was a time when a Big Gulp wouldn't fit in the cupholder in your car!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Sen. Graham's Contempt for America

The poet summarized America's founding spirit thus:

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!
... Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" 
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R, SC), in the final piece of the GOP's filling for reputation bankruptcy, wants to repeal the 14th Amendment, specifically the Yankee-mumbo-jumbo about citizenship as birthright.

Instead, I propose we reduce the representation of States in Congress in proportion to the number of inhabitants who support this anti-American sentiment, as laid in out in the same Amendment.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

What do Pamela Geller, Mary Matalin, and Dracula All Have in Common?

They suck. And so do their books... okay, maybe that's being too hard on Dracula--after all, he didn't write his books.

What went wrong with Science blogging

Hint: It wasn't the ads along the side of the page.