Bits and pieces, part n

By Phil Plait | March 24, 2009 6:57 pm

A few things:

1) I have been informed by my blogdaughter (I showed her how to get socially networked at an American Astronomical Society meeting last year!) Alice that her blog Alice’s AstroInfo has moved to a new URL (that link goes to the current address). So update your links if you haven’t yet, and/or drop her in your feed reader if you haven’t been reading her stuff.

2) Skepticamp guy Reed Esau tells me that there are two Camps this weekend: one in Phoenix (with the truly awesome Michael Stackpole), and one in Vancouver Canadia.

3) I’ve mentioned this before, but just a reminder that 100 Hours of Astronomy is coming up in early April. Get ready.

4) Also, as many people have noted, I wonder if amateur exorcist and Louisiana doomer Bobby Jindal is scratching his head over volcano monitoring now?

Comments (25)

  1. Sorry, that volcano constitutes actual evidence and something solid. It wil be summarially ignored! :P

  2. Volcano monitoring? Why? You know when one goes off. ;-)

  3. Jack Mitcham

    It’s funny that when I first heard about Mt. Redoubt erupting, the very first thought that went through my head was “Bobby Jindal is done.”

  4. MadScientist

    @BA: “Canadia”? Is that what the Canucks call it?

    @Jack Mitcham: yep, my inbox is swamped with messages from vulcanologists now. Redoubt is an extremely isolated volcano though; Mt. Erebus in Antarctica may win the battle for title of “Middle of Nowhere” but Redoubt isn’t far behind. The volcano is far enough from, say, Anchorage that there are no immediate threats to anyone on the ground although the sand ejected can easily reach that far and the hazard to aircraft can extend over a huge area. Short story: Jindal can crow that the large(r) population centers of Alaska are in no immediate danger, so why waste money watching the volcano; he can just pretend that there is no hazard to airplanes until one crashes.

  5. Joe Meils

    It doesn’t matter. If the media decides the story is worth talking about, then Jindal will definitely take some heat. Of course, he’s already done the damage: he got the monitoring project defunded via his asshat remarks. It’s yet another example of how an antiscience boob harms everyone else who actually have brains.

    Jindal = a member of the “Idiocracy.”

  6. Davidlpf

    You figure he has had enough practice typing Canada he should be able to it in his sleep without the error.

  7. jest

    Redoubt couldn’t have been much more timely with this latest eruption.

  8. Jon

    Jindal was criticizing the inclusion of additional funding for volcano monitoring in a STIMULUS BILL!!! I don’t recall any mention of closing our volcano observatories and slashing the USGS’s annual budget. The predictably bombastic response from the largely left-leaning geologist profession is really getting old. Phil, you are an intelligent and accomplished scientist, so please stop talking like a fool. As an earth science and, especially, volcano enthusiast I would love to have every volcano in the US wired to the hilt… and I wouldn’t object to increased funding for our volcanologists. However, being a rational and objective person I must acknowledge that the vast majority of US volcanoes are little more than a nuisance to human life(Redoubt being a prime example) and the handful of dangerous volcanoes are already monitored well-enough. No enormous, life-changing eruption is going to catch anyone off-guard. Our current level of volcano monitoring is sufficient and I can’t fault anyone for criticizing increased funding, especially when it’s thrown into a stimulus bill, while the country’s books are deep in the red.

  9. Actually Jon, if you read the post I wrote about this, the problem here is the consistent Republican message that science isn’t worth funding. In the vast majority of things they decided to mock, science played a really big role. And with Jindal being an actual dyed-in-the-wool 6000 year old Earth creationist, he gets zero slack from me. Zero.

  10. Jack Mitcham

    Well said, Phil.

    And to Jon: “Jindal was criticizing the inclusion of additional funding for volcano monitoring in a STIMULUS BILL!!! ”

    That is NOT what Jindal said. Jindal said “…for something called volcano monitoring.” The tone of voice Jindal used made it sound like he had never heard of a volcano before. He didn’t just say “volcano monitoring.” He said “SOMETHING CALLED volcano monitoring.”

    You know, if Jindal had said what you claimed he said, I could almost understand his point. But, you’re making stuff up, Jon. Jindal said nothing of the sort. Jindal used a dismissive tone of voice and pretended that “volcano monitoring” is some obscure activity that has no purpose whatsoever.

    Just curious, Jon, did you even hear that part of his speech? Are you oblivious to tones of voice and body language? Jindal wasn’t offering criticism of including these funds in a stimulus bill. He was outright mocking the whole idea of “something called volcano monitoring.”

    Jindal only used “volcano monitoring” as a cheap set-up for a poorly written joke about the “eruption of spending in DC.” This is no different than calling a planetarium projector an “overhead projector.” To these Republicans, science is nothing more than a set-up for their poorly-written punchlines.

    The sad thing is I would have agreed with Jindal on most of his other points about government spending if it wasn’t for his dismissive attitude towards science. In my opinion, “something called volcano monitoring” should have been one of the only things in that bill. I disagree with all of the bailouts and the rewarding of failure. I think investing in infrastructure will be far more valuable than propping up failed businesses. Something called volcano monitoring will be a better investment than something called “propping up US auto makers” for example.

  11. BeinSilly

    Also, as many people have noted, I wonder if amateur exorcist and Louisiana >doomer Bobby Jindal is scratching his head over volcano monitoring now?

    Jindal’s into the PC game ‘Doom’?! Good on ‘im! Even if we have all moved on to ‘Halo’ & better still ‘Going Postal’ ages ago! ;-)

  12. BeinSilly

    with Jindal being an actual dyed-in-the-wool 6000 year old Earth creationist, he gets zero slack from me. Zero.

    Wait a minute .. Jindal is covered in wool!? WTF?!?

    Hmm… I thought the people following this guy were the sheep! ;-)

    Still it might explain a bit of his “wooly” (non) thinking!

  13. BeinSilly

    Hmm .. Is there *any* difference here between emphasis [ em ] & [i] italics ?

  14. BeinSilly

    Doesn’t look like it. :-(

  15. MadScientist

    @Jon:

    “Our current level of volcano monitoring is sufficient and I can’t fault anyone for criticizing increased funding, especially when it’s thrown into a stimulus bill, while the country’s books are deep in the red.”

    Hmm. Go visit the Alaskan Volcano Observatory, or the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, or any of the other institutions around the country which study volcanoes. If they don’t laugh at you and drum you out of town, I’ll eat my hat.

  16. Thank you for the link, Phil! It’s not my place to get into the politics of Mr Jindal’s statement, but I do feel that he got it wrong in what he said. He is of course no wronger now than he was before Redoubt erupted, but the timing is certainly neat.

  17. I’m not sure where Vancouver, CANADIA s, but Vancouver, CANADA is lovely this time of the year… well, it usually is, at this time of the year, but it has been abnormally cold this year!

    :)

  18. Obviously the Volcano God’s in Alaska are not happy with the Bristol/Levi break-up. Mr. Jindal should board the next flight to Alaska and perform an exorcism on the offending Volcano

  19. What should be emphasized, also to make our friend Jon chill down a bit, is that without instrumental monitoring, NOBODY would have known that Redoubt had erupted until many hours later – that is, when the ash began to fall in populated areas. This was due to bad weather, which prevented visibility of the volcano, plus the first explosions all occurred during the night. Had there been aircraft in the area above the volcano they would have risked to fly into the ash cloud – and if you know the story of the 1989-1990 eruptions of Redoubt, you know what can come out of such an encounter. Redoubt and most other north American volcanoes may not be much of an immediate threat to densely populated areas (except for Rainier, whose potential eruption-induced mudflows could directly impact Seattle and surrounding urban areas), but they are a serious threat for air traffic. So it really does not interest me whether the funding Jindal was talking about was for a stimulus bill or for “normal” research and monitoring, any money in that sector is welcome and surely could also help to create a couple of new jobs.
    By the way, I have a good friend who is also called Jon and he’s a volcanologist and for all the more than 20 years that we’ve been friends he’s been anything but leftist. Yet his comments regarding Jindal were quite acid. Ask someone like him to learn how sufficient volcano monitoring is in the United States. From what I’ve heard it’s in a tremendously difficult situation.
    So would you who don’t do the job of a volcanologist (I do, by the way, but over in Italy) please shut up if you don’t really know what you’re talking about and be glad that there’s a bunch of people who, in extremely precarious conditions, do that job, in order to save human lives and economic resources.

  20. BMurray

    Please take the time to spell my country’s name correctly. You’ll even save a keystroke.

  21. I posted about Jindal’s gas-cloud the other day when Redoubt began erupting and for my pains, I had more gas clouds show up in my comments. Not ONE of them was fit to publish.

  22. Grump

    @BeinSilly
    [i] and [em] are effectively synonymous. But technically, [em] is semantic – “I mean to emphasise this part”, whereas [i] is stylistic – “Write this in an italic font”. In theory, a browser or style-sheet would be free to display [em] in flashing neon pink. That would certainly be emphatic! In practice, they could do the same to [i], so it really doesn’t matter.

    [strong] and [bold] have the same relationship.

    @ Everyone objecting to “Canadia”
    It’s a joke, for The Flying Spaghetti Monster’s sake! Just like Phil writing “misunderestimate” or “embiggen”. Sheesh.

    Do I gotta explain everything to youse folks? ;-)

    @Boris Behncke

    By the way, I have a good friend who is also called Jon and he’s a volcanologist and for all the more than 20 years that we’ve been friends he’s been anything but leftist.

    Anything that ever disagrees with a right-wing ideologue is part of the left-wing conspiracy. Because an ideologue of any stripe believes everybody else to be ideologues themselves. And ideologues don’t think for themselves (they let their ideology do that for them) so they just blindly support “their side” and blindly bash “the other side”.

    A lot of the antipathy toward Obama is not because the haters are racist, or believe the guff about him being a “Manchurian Muslim” and a closet Communist.

    He’s “from the other side”, and that’s enough reason for many to hate him, and for them to feel certain, at a molecular level, that he will destroy the country.

    Don’t be a rightist, leftist, Democrat or Republican. Be a human being who thinks for himself, and who may or may not agree with some or all of the standpoints of one or other ideology, while reserving the right to change his mind should circumstances warrant it.

    Be a flip-flopper, and be proud of it.

    What anything I’ve written has to do with vulcanology, I have no idea.

  23. Scott Funkhouser

    Still waiting for the bad astronomer to address Steven
    Chu’s unscientific fear mongering:

    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/can-someone-point-to-the-science-4930

  24. Scott Funkhouser
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