Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year

This dismissory song now used throughout the English-speaking world. In Scotland, it gradually displaced the century-old 'Good-night and joy be wi' you a'.' In spite of the popularity of 'Auld Lang Syne', it has aptly been described as 'the song that nobody knows'. Even in Scotland, hardly a gathering sings it correctly, without some members of the party introducing the spurious line: 'We'll meet again some ither nicht' for the line which Burns actually wrote: 'And we'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet'. To say nothing of adding 'the days of' to the line 'For auld lang syne'!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Commodity Prices

Texans Approve Move to Close Oil Production

Midcontinent oilmen today looked for better times in a distressed industry due to a conservation bill passed by the Texas Legislature and eight days of enforced shutdown of Oklahoma production by Gov. W.H. Murray.

The Texas measure designed to put a stricter curb on oil production was overwhelmingly approved by both houses and signed by Gov. Ross S. Sterling last night a few hours before the adjournment of a 30-day session called by the governor to enact oil legislation. The governor had threatened to follow Murray's example and use martial law to enforce a shutdown if legislators took no action.


The refiners were refusing to pay $1 per barrel. There are 42 gallons per barrel. Emphasis mine.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cough cough

The Hong Kong government said a dead bird found in New Territories tested positive for the H5N1 avian flu virus, the second case in a week.

The carcass of the Oriental magpie robin, a common resident bird in Hong Kong, was found at Tin Shui Wai on Dec. 17, the government said.
The government added it will continue to conduct inspections of poultry farms to ensure that precautions against avian flu have been implemented.

On Wednesday, Hong Kong health authorities culled all 17,000 live poultry in a wholesale market after a dead chicken there tested positive for H5N1, the first new case since 2008.

The city's government has raised the alert level regarding the virus to "serious" from "alert," and suspended live poultry imports for three weeks.

Hong Kong has occasionally detected bird flu in poultry, but there have been no major outbreaks since 1997, when the virus killed six people and led to the slaughter of 1.5 million birds in the territory.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Occupy the Army?

...if history is any guide, the raid on Occupy Wall Street and the destruction of the tents and sleeping bags the protesters left behind is not likely to have the effect the movement's foes want. The Great Depression offers a striking parallel to this week's attack on Occupy Wall Street.

In 1932, a police and Army raid on the Bonus Army of first world war veterans, who had come to Washington, DC to ask for immediate payment of their Adjusted Service Certificates (whic everyone called their bonus), resulted in an Occupy Wall Street-like rout.

But in the end, the vets were the ones who prevailed and gained public sympathy.
The 1932 raid reached its peak of violence on 29 July when Washington's commissioners and President Herbert Hoover gave the Army the authority to evict the marchers from empty government buildings near the Capitol and from their makeshift camps along the Anacostia River. The Army chief of staff, General Douglas MacArthur, aided by Major Dwight Eisenhower and 600 troops, backed up by tanks and cavalry, confronted the vets, tear-gassing them and setting fire to the shacks they had been living in.


Occupy Army
And it has arrived. Bradley Manning's hearing set for Dec 16.
21 Nov

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Rhodium coins are very difficult to make but we finally found a way to reliably make them. The metal is hard and fairly brittle making metal forming difficult. In addition to being one of the most expensive metals in the periodic table, the amount of manufacturing time to make the coins results in a high price. First issue is standard thickness, a 1/10 troy ounce variety may be offered in the future.

Rhodium was discovered by William Hyde Wollaston in 1803 in crude platinum ore. Wollaston removed platinum and palladium from the ore to leave a red salt - sodium rhodium chloride [RhCl6]Na3.12H2O from which he extracted rhodium metal. The element name comes from the Greek word 'rhodon', meaning rose. 

Abundance earth's crust: 1 part per billion by weight, 0.1 parts per billion by moles Abundance solar system: 2 parts per billion by weight, 0.02 parts per billion by moles


Wollaston also performed important work in electricity. In 1801, he performed an experiment showing that the electricity from friction was identical to that produced by voltaic piles. During the last years of his life he performed electrical experiments that would pave the way to the eventual design of the electric motor...

His optical work was important as well, where he is remembered for his observations of dark Fraunhofer lines in the solar spectrum (1802) which eventually led to the discovery of the elements in the Sun. He invented the camera lucida (1807), the reflecting goniometer (1809), and the Wollaston prism...

Wollaston used his Bakerian lecture in 1805, On the Force of Percussion, to defend Gottfried Leibniz's principle of vis viva, an early formulation of the conservation of energy...

Wollaston's attempt to demonstrate the presence of glucose in the blood serum of diabetics was unsuccessful due to the limited means of detection available to him.


Friday, December 2, 2011

This Is News?

...Corvus corvax -- those canny black birds... may have communication abilities and intelligence that puts them on par with bonobos.

By repeatedly demonstrating a kind of “look at that” gesture thought to be at the foundation of human language -- behavior seen in human infants beginning at about the age of 1...

Humans begin gesturing long before they can hold a conversation. Think of how babies will point to food or toys as a way to direct a parent’s attention. These “triadic interactions” -- involving two people and one object -- are more complex than one might assume, involving eye contact and other social behavior. The focus isn’t on using the object but on drawing the other person’s attention to it...

About the only similar gesturing documented in the wild involves chimps indicating where they want a partner to groom them...

The ravens probably evolved and then practice the ability because of their complex social life, including the long courtship that leads them form permanent pair-bonds. Ravens mate for life, and the partners must work together to dominate large territories against other ravens.

And so marriage -- at least the corvid kind -- may be responsible for turbo-charging the raven knack for communication.