February 19th, 2010

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Solar Power Is Where the Sun Shines

Here's a proposal to build a solar power array on a dried lake bed.  This seems promising because such territory has minimal wildlife to damage.  The main drawback I see is that if the current southwestern drying trend ever reverses, that site will be underwater.

L.A. Plans World's Biggest Solar Farm in California Desert 
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is planning to turn an dried up lake bed into one of the largest solar farms in the world. Thousands of shiny black and blue panels may eventually generate three to five gigawatts of power -- enough for 10 percent of California's power supply. (Edmonton Journal)

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Chasing Comets

NASA's Stardust Burns for Comet, Less Than a Year Away

PASADENA, Calif. - Just three days shy of one year before its planned
flyby of comet Tempel 1, NASA's Stardust spacecraft has successfully
performed a maneuver to adjust the time of its encounter by eight hours
and 20 minutes. The delay maximizes the probability of the spacecraft
capturing high-resolution images of the desired surface features of the
2.99-kilometer-wide (1.86 mile) potato-shaped mass of ice and dust.Collapse )

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In which the linguist is a spam detector...

Today a comment popped up on my LJ, in Russian.  I know there is a problem with Russian spam on LJ, but I don't want to delete everything in a foreign language just because it might  be spam.  Happily I've studied Russian, so I took a close look at the message.  Most of it consisted of function words ("who," "that," etc.) and most of the content words I didn't know.  But I did know "ljubovnik" ("lover" or "sweetie"), and "erotica" and "porno" were simply transliterated from English into Cyrillic lettering.  So, linguistic triangulation identified the message as spam, and I deleted and reported it as such.

I love it when I can use my foreign language aptitude.  With individual languages, it's not as high as I would like it to be, but sometimes it is just incredibly useful and satisfying.  Hee!

Although now I'm wondering if it should have said "erotiku" instead of "erotica" because "fantasy" is "fantastiku" and there are other "-ku" genres.  Do Russian spammers spell as horribly as American ones do?  If so, is it because they are careless or because they are trying to avoid filters (both American reasons)?
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Fun Political Phrases

This article has its ups and downs.  One of the ups is its phrasing.

Tea Party 2.0 - No Representation Without Taxation
Kelpie Wilson, Truthout: "First of all, let's be honest. We were all so exhausted after eight years of Bush and so impressed with ourselves that we elected the first African-American president, that we decided it was O.K. to take a nice long break early last year. I don't know how else to explain the fact that MoveOn didn't start a real push for the public option until Sarah Palin's Tea Party shouters had done shock and awe all over Democrats in the August town hall meetings and health care reform was on life support in the ER."

I like "No representation without taxation."
And here's a new description for the collective failure of politics: "necrotic intestinal infarction."
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Terra Madre

This looks like an interesting book. 

Food: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

If I want to eat well, I’m an elitist. If I respect tradition, I’m glued to the past. If I obey the rules of sound ecology, I’m a bore. If I acknowledge the importance of the rural world, I yearn for bucolic pleasures.

It’s hard to talk about food and agriculture, sustainable food production and consumption without having to bear the brunt of this kind of cliché-ridden criticism. At Slow Food, we have noted that, now that things are starting to move, this kind of talk is rising in volume and frequency. For a whole variety of reasons, eating is increasingly in our thoughts and in our conversation. But instead of bringing pleasure and joy as it ought to, it generates uncertainty, unrest, anxiety, and fear. Eating, without which we can’t survive, is turning into a problem.