Welcome to Green Comet

These free novels, Creative Commons licensed Green Comet, and its sequel Parasite Puppeteers, tell an expansive story of love and adventure on an inhabited comet. To learn more, and for samples, visit the Welcome Page.

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Bombogenesis

Don’t touch those wires! Photo credit: NOAA – Public domain

New Word of the Day – Bombogenesis

Today’s new word of the day — a form of neologism* — is bombogenesis. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, bombogenesis is a noun meaning the development and intensification of a major storm. It comes from the recent tendency to describe a major storm as a “snow bomb” or “weather bomb.” Lisa Suhey has written an article for the Christian Science Monitor that explains the term bombogenesis and a few others, including blizzard. The weather service has been using bombogenesis for a while, and they even have specific criteria for it, including “when a storm’s area of lowest surface pressure experiences a rapid drop of more than 24 millibars in 24 hours.” Her article also clarifies what makes a blizzard, and it’s not just a lot of snow. To qualify as a blizzard, in addition to a lot of snow, there must be wind-driven snow that reduces visibility to zero for more than three houfs, with wind greater than 35 MPH (56 KPH.)

*I differentiated “new word” from “neologism” because to get into my New Word of the Day series, the word must be in a dictionary as a new word, while a neologism isn’t necessarily in a dictionary yet. It might have just been invented by a witty punster or a schizophrenic.

Has any of my readers ever lived through a snow bomb?

rjb

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Conservatives Distrust Higher Education

Graduation ceremony – Hendrick van der Burgh – Public Domain

There is a growing distrust of higher education among political conservatives. The linked Chronicle of Higher Education article discusses the phenomenon as it pertains particularly to American politics.

A majority of Republicans and right-leaning independents think higher education has a negative effect on the country, according to a new study released by the Pew Research Center on Monday. The same study has found a consistent increase in distrust of colleges and universities since 2010, when negative perceptions among Republicans was measured at 32 percent. That number now stands at 58 percent.

For years, higher education has been viewed favorably by liberals and less so by conservatives, Mr. Gross said, but political controversies in the past year have drawn attention and increased the negative perception. Protests and incidents of speakers being actively opposed or threatened by students are widely reported, he said, and are often one of the few ways in which the general population encounters college campuses.

A change in the demographics of both parties has also influenced the mistrust of colleges, he said. Whereas 50 years ago, the best predictor of conservative alignment was a high level of education, Mr. Hopkins said, “the popular base of the Republican party is less and less white-collar professionals and is more and more white working-class non-college-educated voters.”

It probably makes sense for conservatives to want their supporters to be less well educated. I wonder what they would consider the optimum level of education. Presumably they would want them to be able to read a little, and be able to do some simple arithmetic, but nothing too sophisticated. Check out the linked article for a deeper look.

via Most Republicans Think Colleges Are Bad for the Country. Why? – The Chronicle of Higher Education

rjb

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Update – Extension Twelve

Ice Cave – Sergey Pesterev CC-BY-SA

I’ve finished writing the first draft of Extension Twelve and I’m into editing and revision. Within a couple of weeks I’ll be releasing it for download. Then I’ll put the extensions together and spend some time editing and revising the novel, and adding an epilogue. The novel — The Francesians — will be out soon, and then it’s on to the recording. It’s exciting, but I’m going to miss my fountain pens during this time of less writing. Can’t wait to start the next one.-)

rjb

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Drinking Coffee Could Lead to a Longer Life

coffee-longer-life-640

Credit: © iko / Fotolia

What a great article to read while having my morning coffee! And since it says that more is better, I’m going to go get another one. Here, you read the article while I’m gone.

via Drinking coffee could lead to a longer life, scientist says: Whether it’s caffeinated or decaffeinated, coffee is associated with lower mortality, which suggests the association is not tied to caffeine — ScienceDaily

rjb

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Flumen

Steve Willington – WMO

Cloud of the Day – Flumen

Flumen, from the Latin flumen, a noun meaning river, is another of the new cloud types included in the World Meteorological Organization’s fifth edition of their venerable Cloud Atlas, published in 2017. It’s the first new edition in thirty years so there aren’t many opportunities to get a new cloud in.

Flumen are described as bands of low clouds associated with a ‘supercell severe convective storm’ — a form of cumulonimbus — arranged parallel to the low level winds blowing toward the supercell. So the powerful convection of the supercell is drawing air into its base, and the high speed airflow causes a drop in air pressure with the concommitant drop in temperature, allowing condensation and cloud-forming. This explains why flumen form parallel to wind direction.

Kelvinsong – CC-BY-SA

Flumen are associated with supercells, a particularly vigorous form of thunderstorm featuring a mesocyclone, a rotating updraft. These are the clouds that spawn tornadoes. Flumen are very likely to be associated with precipitation, and then some.

rjb

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Using Copyright to Quash Criticism

zillow-mcmansion-effElectronic Frontier Foundation

Kate Wagner runs an architecture criticism blog called McMansion Hell, where she posts pictures and opinions of examples of what she considers poor design. Mostly she criticizes big houses that are meant to appeal buyers’ vanities. A company called the Zillow Group sent her a cease and desist order saying the pictures she was using were protected by copyright and couldn’t be used. She did what most people would do when threatened by the lawyers of a big corporation. She shut down her blog.

That wasn’t the end of it, though. The Electronic Frontier Foundation(EFF) got wind of it and stepped in to defend Ms Wagner against the specious order. They sent a couple of strongly worded letters to Zillow’s lawyers and let them know they weren’t going to get away with their bullying.

EFF staff attorney Daniel Nazer said, “Our client has no obligation to, and thus will not, comply with Zillow’s demands. Zillow’s legal threats are not supported and plainly seek to interfere with protected speech.”

Zillow quickly changed its tune, claiming that they never had any intention of interfering with Ms Wagner’s freedom of expression. They just thought they were protecting the copyright of the owners of the images she was taking from Zillow’s website. The EFF let them know that they were wrong.

EFF’s response called Zillow’s legal complaints “baseless” and its allegations “unfounded and unsupportable” as it laid out a variety of legal arguments for why McMansion Hell and Wagner were not bound by Zillow’s terms of use and why her use of photographs sourced from Zillow are indeed protected by fair use.

The McMansion Hell blog is back up and running and Ms Wagner is breathing easily again. Chalk up another one for the EFF, those heroes who defend our freedoms.

via Zillow drops complaint against ‘McMansion Hell’ blog after backlash over copyright claim – GeekWire

rjb

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