Thursday, October 20, 2011

Scientists Being Tried for What?

In L'aquila, Italy, six seismologists and a government official are being tried in court for manslaughter from failing to predict and warn the city of an earthquake in 2009.  (What the fuck did I just read?!)  In case you don't know, NOBODY can exactly predict earthquakes in a scientific way.  (there is one instance but that is for another day).  The earthquake in dispute here is the earthquake of 2009, where a 6.3 magnitude earthquake killed more than 300 people and caused millions of dollars in damage.  Here is a picture of some of the damage.
There was one factor that might have contributed to this situation.  Leading up to the big earthquake there were a lot of very small ones.  Much more than usual.  A local man who was not a scientist started predicting a big earthquake using techniques that are not exactly scientific.  His predictions of a big earthquake began to make the town grow very impatient and almost into a panic. So the government sent a bunch of seismologists to the area to predict more accurately when the quake would happen.  And of course, since earthquakes are not predictable they couldn't tell when it would happen.
These scientist are basically being charged for not warning the city that it was going to happen eventhough there is no way to tell when an earthquake will happen.  Each scientist faces up to 12 years in prison.  This is absolutely fucking ridiculous.  They should prosecute the local fortune tellers for not warning locals of bad things either.  This is obviously an attempt to calm the masses and hold a few individuals responsible.  The whole earthquake killing people is a tragedy by itself, and the government of Italy does not want to be outdone so they are putting science on trial here.  An obvious better alternative to this witch-trial would be to fix buildings and update them to withstand earthquakes.  Leave your thoughts

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mount Everest - Part 1 - climbing that SOB

Mount Everest is the biggest, iciest, most badass piece of rock, ice, and sheer intimidation on earth.
It has killed over 220 people.  Most of these deaths do not come from people falling off one of the various cliff faces or from hypothermia.  Most of the deaths actually are direct results from lack oxygen.  Some times a climber will be tired and decide to nap but never wake up.  Other times death can result from something as simple as a sprained ankle and not being able to make it down in time.  To give you an idea of how hard it is to breath at 29,000 feet, at base camp which is 17,500 feet, you would get about half of the oxygen that you are used to.  What does that feel like? Breathe through a straw non-stop for the next day and you'll see.

Now at even 17,500 feet, you will begin to suffer from dizzyness, you will not be able to sleep for more than a few minutes at a time, and using extra physical effort can lead to passing out from lack of oxygen.  Your body cannot send enough red blood cells to your brain to deliver oxygen so you will not be able to think right or even stand up straight.  And you will suffer from horrible diarrhea and vomiting because your body is not used to the extreme altitude.  (Remember, this is all at 17,500 feet, not 29,000. We still haven't even started to climb.)  You are now succeptable to suffering from a "High Altitude Cerebral Edema".  This simply means that your brain will swell up and you can die anywhere from hours to days, so time is not on your side. And the only symptoms of suffering from one of these is dizzyness which you will be suffering anyway from the altitude.

Now let's assume that you make it to the 17,500 feet basecamp and don't suffer from any of those symptoms. (except the diarrhea because you're an asshole for not subscribing to this blog earlier).  Now to go up you can't just do it all at once, you have 5 more checkpoints, or basecamps, to stop at.  One of the things you must do is spit in the face of god and go across one of the scariest possible forms of death on this earth; The Khumbo Icefall.   On the Khumbu Icefall you must cross steep pillars of ice and go across crevasses that can be hundreds of feet wide using only a common household aluminum gardening ladder.  Oh and remember this whole thing is constantly moving meaning that as some climbers can tell you (or they could if they were still alive) that as you are standing on halfway on a cheap gardening ladder above hundreds of feet of freefall with only sharp ice crystals and frozen rocks to break your fall at the bottom.  This means that if the Indian Tectonic Plate decides to move just an inch you will fall to your death of deaths.  A death fitting only a mortal combat video game. Here are a few pictures of what it looks like.  Note there are not pictures of the bottom of these crevasses because they are just too deep for any light to get down there. Notice that the only thing between these people and death is a gardening ladder that costs less than $100 at Home Depot.

just shit my pants
I told you don't look down.

I'm guessing that you're either dead or you got through using some Harry Potter bullshit.  Now what?  Now you have to climb up the western face of the mountain that is often called The Valley of Silence.  It's called this because you are speechless when you look up at what you are about to climb;  The face of Lhotse. (which in Nepalese I can only assume means Satan)  A 4,000 foot, vertical face of frozen rock, ice, and terror that is between 40 and 80 degrees steep.  Now in that last sentence let's emphasize the words vertical, 4,000 feet,  and ice.  So if you lose your footing you will slide down 4,000 to your icy death at a very steep angle into some very sharp ice. Now when you get to the top of Satan, you are in zone 4 and get to go to zone 5. (yay)  Don't get too excited. Zone 5 is also called The Death Zone.  Here, your body can only get about a third of the oxygen that you are used to at sea level.  When you only get this much oxygen, your body basically tells you to go fuck yourself by producing too many red blood cells, shutting down your digestive tract, and making your heart beat more than Homer Simpson at a fat camp.  There is not a human body that can adapt to the 25,000 feet altitude of the death zone, not even the sherpa's.  If you stay for too long your body will shut down and die.  Now if you manage to get to the death zone, you have been climbing for at least a month.  This means that your body is sleep deprived, malnourished, and more exhausted than probably ever in your life.  You have also been putting up with temperatures as low as -100 degrees farenheit and winds up to 120 mph.

stay tuned for part 2

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia

These are pictures of the Ta Prohm Temple in Cambodia.  It was built about eight to nine-hundred years ago originally as a Buddhist monastery.  Unlike most of the large Kmer temples this one was decided to leave relatively unrestored and to not get rid of the vegetation.  As you can see this temple has really merged with the jungle over the years and the people in charge want to keep it that way.
But essentially "leaving the temple to the jungle" is taking its toll after about 800 years.  The structural stability is starting to fail in some of the buildings and so engineers are starting to selectively get rid of some trees and vegetation.
In case you are wondering, the trees are mostly silk-cotton trees that are hundreds of years old.
Now here's some more pictures of this bad ass temple.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Spider Trees??

In 2010 there was MAJOR flooding in Pakistan.  And by major, I mean one fifth of the entire country was under water.  Over 300,000 square miles of land were under water.  To put this into perspective, Texas is only about 265,000 square miles.  While the flooding was a terrible thing that displaced millions of people one interesting thing has resulted;  Millions and millions of spiders climbed tress to get away from the rising water.  The water took so long to recede back to normal levels that the trees in the affected areas basically became cacooned in spiderwebs.
Pretty fucking crazy huh?  well, there is one good thing that has resulted in all the spider trees across Pakistan; Mosquito populations have declined and the spread of malaria has greatly slowed down. This is pretty amazing considering how much standing water there was after the flooding.   Here's some more pictures;

millions and millions of spiders reclaiming trees as their own?  Now that's the fucking craziest thing I've ever seen

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A blog entry about goats?? A blog entry about goats.

In case you are confused and not sure what you are looking at in this picture, it's a bunch of goats in a tree.  And no, this is not photoshopped.

 How the fuck did all those goats get up there?  Did somebody put them there?  What is going on here?
These are the Tamri Goats of Morocco.  There is very little diversity for these guys when it comes to food selection as they pretty much prefer feeding on Argan berries.  Over time I guess they got tired of waiting for the berries to drop so they eventually learned how to climb trees.  Now here's some more awesome pictures of goats in trees.
Fuck ya! Goats!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Presidential Dancing Censored

In case you missed this because you don't live in Russia or watch a lot of international news, one of the bigger stories coming out of Russia is from last week where a group of comedians make a parody of President Medvedev's robotic dancing.  

The clip shot from a cell phone soon went viral and millions of people have seen it around the world.

A group of Russian comedians came together and created a parody video of the president's dancing.  The video was then submitted to a very popular home video show and took first prize.  The video was never shown and edited out on TV even though it took first place.  Here is the parody in its entirety.

President Medvedev's press secretary says that The President has no problem with people impersonating him.

There is no indication of whether the censorship was as a result of pressure from the President or if this simply was self censorship based on fear.  Given Russia's poor record with dealing with political dissent it could have been either one.  There are many other high profile deaths among Russian dissenting journalists and this could possibly be a result of those.

The important thing in all of this is that freedom of speech has been under attack in Russia.  Let's hope that these dictatorial tactics are revealed and the people responsible for The Kremlin's intimidation tactics are brought to justice.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Don't miss this!! Salvadr Dali

Today I'm in an art mood and would like to talk about Salvador Dali.  For those who don't know who he is,  he is one of the greatest surrealists and personalities to ever live.  Beyond the amazing talent that he had he was one of the WEIRDEST people in the history of the art community.  I will get to that in a moment but this guy wasn't just a great painter:  He was also an amazing sculptor, writer, playwrite, costume designer, set designer, jewelery designer, film director, and ballet writer.  If it could be created, Dali did it, and extraordinarily well.
After the Spanish Civil War, his work incited riots and he actually had to flee to France so he wouldn't get killed.  He was once invited to speak at a local university, he accepted, and showed up in an old timey scuba suit.  He refused to come out of it after they asked him and threatened to leave shortly after.  The egomaniacal artist created a photography book devoted entirely to his mustache.  You can buy said book here if you're interested.  

Dali drew most of his inspiration from what he created and called "Paranoid Critical Transformation Method".  Dali defined this as "irrational knowledge" based on a "delirium of interpretation".  He would essentially go into  a self-induced paranoid state (without the use of drugs) and putting the hallucinations he had in the state on the canvas.  So imagine this; a guy who not only painted brilliantly based on hallucinations, but being able to write, and lecture with a straight face and complete seriousness on a technique he created where you have to go into a paranoid and hallucinogenic state, without drugs, and then after coming back out of that state and return to a "normal perspective", and paint or create what he envisioned there.  THAT is a motherfuckin artist!!

Dali was a self-adoring, egomaniac.  He never received a formal art degree although he is considered one of the greatest ever.  When he had to take his final exam when he was in college, he refused to take it because he claimed he knew more about art than all of his teachers. So they expelled him.  During his lifetime, he was also banned from just about every art institution and community.  Later in his life, the same people welcomed him as they realized just how brilliant he was.

This man was as brilliant as he was misunderstood, and as egomaniacal as he was strange.  But one thing is certain, this guy was awesome and everybody should know something about him or his work if you want to expand your mind.  If you ever go to Spain and are near Barcelona, be sure to go see the Dali Museum in Figueres.  It is an experience you will never forget. 

Now, I will leave you with something worth your while: Dali pictures and quotes.
Please leave a comment, follow or subscribe.  Thank you.

"There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane.  I know I am mad"

"I dont take drugs.  I am drugs."
"The two most fortunate things that can happen to a person are, first to be Spanish, and second, to be named  Salvador Dali.  These two things have happened to me".
"Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision. "
"What is a television apparatus to man, who has only to shut his eyes to see the most inaccessible regions of the seen and the never seen, who has only to imagine in order to pierce through walls and cause all the planetary Baghdads of his dreams to rise from the dust. "

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Something to Think About the Debate the Other Night

In case you missed the Tea Party republican presidential debate the other night on CNN there were a few moments where Romney and Perry got into it.  I still don't understand how Perry is the front runner right now in the media and gets the large majority of the attention when polls keep showing that Ron Paul is doing as well or better.  Besides the fact that the networks and the major media only treat Romney and Perry as the front runners, the other two things that bothered me the most were both when Ron Paul was speaking.  Ron Paul basically said that the 911 attacks happened as a long term result of our foreign policy and the crowd began booing. you can watch that clip here. I dont get these people.  He said nothing controversial.  The only thing I can do is be thankful that I live in Northern California in an area free from those types of people.
The worst part of the debate was when Paul was speaking later and they asked him a hypothetical question asking if he would let a 30 year old man with no insurance die on his deathbed and a lot of the audience cheered loudly.  watch clip here.  How can anyone as a human being just let anybody die and not help???  WOW these tea partiers are freaking assholes.  Again, I am so happy I live not anywhere near these people.

Now lets look beyond the small details from the debate and look at what has been put right in our face that we seem to ignore.  THE FACT THAT THERE IS EVEN A TEA PARTY DEBATE!!!  This is the largest TV news network in the world teaming up with a splinter group of the party and treating it as an equal.  Yes the Tea Party shaped the last election and got a few seats but in 2008 CNN or anybody didn't team up with progressives who shaped the 2008 elections.  But now, CNN is proudly putting its name on a Tea Party event.  Look beyond this and realize that CNN is really just trying to pry away a few fox viewers.  Its not about having credibility anymore.  Its all about the ratings.

Look beyond all of this BS that you see every day and make up your mind yourself.  Here....I'll help ;)

Mystery of the Sailing Stones

One of the stranger things in nature are the sailing stones in Death Valley, California.  From our basic understandings of nature and physics, we know that something can only move if there is sufficient force applied to it.  So for example, if you have a boulder that weighs two three or four hundred pounds and you want to push it across the ground, you need something that can apply enough force to do so.  What if I told you that these same boulders were somehow moving dozens or hundreds of meters and science could not explain it?  Impossible?  No.  Fact.

In one of the HOTTEST places in the world, there is a seasonally dry lake bed that is home to what we call sailing stones.  In this lake bed there are hundreds of rocks that seem to move completely on their own.  Now by move I don't mean walk around like a person I mean they move nanometer by nanometer.  The only reason we know they move is by the trails that they leave behind.  The lake bed that they occupy has been aptly named "the racetrack".

The mysterious stones slide on very smooth ground.  Some scientists think that the stones move through the lake bed when the mud is wet with help from the wind and ice crystals that build up on the rocks on cold desert nights.  This theory is often shot down because the stones move in the summer when the lake is dry and the temperatures are FAR above freezing.

What is more interesting is that every stone takes it's own path as is if they have minds of their own.

click on the pictures to see them in much higher quality.  Please leave your thoughts and comments.

source for pictures: google images

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


FeelSmarter is exactly what it sounds like. It's a collection of just about everything from the world, but mostly focusing on a wide range of topics from philosophy, to conspiracy theories, politics, UFO's, time travel, basket weaving, history, biology, and even sports. The aim of this blog is just to bring forth interesting things from the depths of the forgotten, strange, foreign, and uninteresting to the internet and just put them out for everybody to learn. So keep coming back to the page and I'll make sure that you learn something interesting.