Cavum

© Tsz Cheung Lee – Tap for larger

Cloud of the Day – Cavum

Cavum is one of the new clouds that show up in the latest edition of the World Meteorological Organization’s International Cloud Atlas. I reported on the release of the new edition in this post. Cavum is really just a new name for a cloud type previously known as a fall streak hole, which I reported on here. There are more great pictures in that post. The full name for the example shown in this post is altocumulus stratiformis perlucidus translucidus cavum. That is, the middle etage cloud altocumulus (my previous post on altocumulus) which is in a layer thin enough to allow light through, and which has gaps between its elements and a great big hole with virga in it. Here’s how cavum is described in the International Cloud Atlas.

A well-defined generally circular (sometimes linear) hole in a thin layer of supercooled water droplet cloud. Virga or wisps of Cirrus typically fall from the central part of the hole, which generally grows larger with time. Cavum is typically a circular feature when viewed from directly beneath, but may appear oval shaped when viewed from a distance.

When resulting directly from the interaction of an aircraft with the cloud, it is generally linear (in the form of a dissipation trail). Virga typically falls from the progressively widening dissipation trail.

Occurs in Altocumulus and Cirrocumulus and rarely Stratocumulus.

And here’s the description of the image from the International Cloud Atlas.

This thin, translucent and extensive layer of cloud is Altocumulus stratiformis translucidus. In the top part of the picture it also displays the variety perlucidus, as there are the gaps between the cloud elements. However, the most striking feature is the large, roughly circular hole beneath which there is virga. The large hole is the supplementary feature cavum, popularly known as a “fallstreak hole” or “hole-punch cloud”. The full classification for the cloud is therefore Altocumulus stratiformis perlucidus translucidus cavum.

Also of note is a linear gap in the cloud between the fallstreak hole and the horizon. This is an aircraft dissipation trail, or distrail, formed as a result of an aircraft flying through the cloud layer. Informally this is sometimes known as a “canal cloud”. It later transformed into a circular-type hole.

The supplementary feature cavum is formed when glaciation occurs in a thin cloud layer consisting of supercooled water droplets that are in a liquid state and at a temperature below 0 °C. As the supercooled water drops glaciate, the resulting ice crystals fall from the cloud layer to a lower level as virga, or fallstreaks. The resulting cloud hole typically grows larger with time while the glaciation process continues.

There’s not much I can add to that, except to invite you to visit the International Cloud Atlas website.

rjb

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Measuring Dimensions

Credit SiBr4 – CC-BY-SA


We live on a rocky ball about 12,750 kilometers through and 40,050 kilometers around its widest diameter. It has a mass of about six quadrillion megatonnes, which is so ridiculously large compared to things we’re used to that it doesn’t really mean anything to us. Our size compared to Earth’s size is roughly equivalent to the size of viruses compared to us.

That is not to imply that humans are like germs living on Earth. It just provides some perspective on where we are. To go a little further, the next level at the same ratio compares the size of the planet Earth to the size of the whole Solar System. Give or take a few billion kilometers. It’s not an analogy that can stretch forever. (Here’s a link to a video that goes from the very small to the very large – 10 minutes)

And it doesn’t imply that humans are merely an unimportant example of a repeating theme. After all, why is our size one of the levels? We could just as easily be included with all of life to fall between the very small and the very large. As in – subatomic particles – living things – planets and stars. But that’s another analogy that shouldn’t be pushed too hard.

We choose humans as a level because we’re human. We tend to look at things relative to what we’re used to, so we don’t think twice about our size being one of the steps on the ladder. Besides, it was necessary to use something familiar as a point of reference in such a wide array of dimensions.

The dimensions of the physical universe are measured by such huge numbers, both hugely big and hugely small, that they don’t convey much meaning on their own. The very large is measured in billions of light years. Light years are trillions of kilometers each. Even a single kilometer is big compared to us. The small is measured in fractions of meters, changing the numbers from positive to negative right about our size. The very smallest things are such small decimals of a meter that we don’t write them out in full, using special mathematical shorthand instead.

In all that vastness, all that range of realities and possibilities, what is most amazing is that part of it is conscious. A narrow band in the middle has produced something that can look out and try to understand the whole thing.

I think we can justify being a little self-centered.

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Two Spaces

Grammar of the Day – Two Spaces

There should be two spaces after a full stop. I know everyone says there should only be one. The style guides agree with them. Even this blog software agrees with them, turning all of my double spaces into singles. The one-spacers say we two-spacers are living in the past. They say that two spaces might have been needed when people were using those old-fashioned printing presses, but not now with our modern technology. They say we’re stubborn. Luddites, even. They dismiss us with condescension. They’re blithely sure that they’re right and we’re wrong, but they’re mistaken.

I have challenged one-spacers with eight little words, and not one of them has been able to meet the challenge. My challenge: Is this one sentence or two?

“When I was dying?” Fran finished for him.

The only way to know for sure is if full stops are consistently followed by two spaces. As it is, we don’t know if that question mark is at the end of a sentence, or in the middle of one. For clarity of communication, we have to bring back the double space.

So there.

rjb

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Daily Crossword Puzzle

Credit Suzie Hudon – CC0


I’m experimenting with running a daily crossword puzzle widget. I’m not sure how it’s going to work out, that is, whether anyone will want to do it, or if it’s a trojan that will take over the website and hold it for ransom, for example, but I’m going to run it for at least a while.

If you do use it, let me know. Likewise let me know if you don’t think it’s appropriate, or if you know that it’s a trojan that’s going to hijack this website.

It’s only visible on the main home page, so you won’t see it if you link here to a specific blog post.

rjb

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Industry Groups Paint Dark Picture of Right to Repair

Credit: ShakataGaNai CC-BY-SA – tap for big

If you have been following this blog, then you know that I have posted several times about the right to repair movement, and the despicable behavior of some vendors who would rather you couldn’t. I wrote about how John Deere was abusing their customers, and how the farmers were pushing back. I wrote about how farmers were using ‘unauthorized’ software to work on their tractors. I wrote about how iFixit is leading the way in the fight for the right to repair. And about a small victory that means people can work on their own cars now. We’ve seen the problem: vendors who treat their customers like mere users of their products, with no ownership rights. And we’ve seen good-hearted people pushing back, to the point where some jurisdictions are developing legislation to give people the right to repair their own stuff. Now the pushback is going in the other direction. The manufacturers have hired lobbyists to try to convince the politicians to not enact the laws. They want to continue with the present system, where people buy something, it breaks, and they throw it away and buy something else. They don’t mind that people throw away so much stuff — Americans alone throw away over 400,000 cell phones per day — because it’s good for business to sell them more stuff to replace it. And, after all, they’re not responsible for anything besides their shareholders’ dividends. Their own convenient little sandbox, and everything outside of it is someone else’s responsibility. These are the paragons in our funny little world.

The battle lines were drawn at a hearing in New Hampshire last week for a proposed right to repair law, with supporters calling for economic justice for consumers and opponents warning of crime and injury should the law pass.

… the proposed legislation would stifle commerce, leave New Hampshire consumers vulnerable to cyber crime and even physical harm at the hands of clueless owners and inexperienced or unethical repair professionals.

The proposed legislation in New Hampshire would

… require original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that do business in New Hampshire to make the same documentation, parts and tools available to device owners and independent repair professionals as they make available to their licensed or “authorized” repair professionals.

and

… documentation, tools, and parts needed to reset product (software) locks or digital right management functions following maintenance and repair would also need to be made available to owners and independent repair professionals on “fair and reasonable terms.”

That’s all. If you want to do business in New Hampshire, then treat your customers right. But the lobbyists paint a different picture.

… repairs performed by the owners of lawn equipment, electronics and home appliances or independent repair professionals carry serious economic, safety and security risks.

They go on to outline the risks, painting a picture of economic decline, grievous bodily injury and death. I think you get the idea. For full details, I recommend following the link to the article at Security Ledger, as well as a supplementary article at the US Public Interest Research Group website.

via In Granite State: Industry Groups Paint Dark Picture of Right to Repair | The Security Ledger

rjb

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People Who Know the Least Think They Know the Most

gmo

The Edmonton Journal has an article about an inverse correlation between how much a person knows and how much they think they know.

People often suffer from an ‘illusion of knowledge,’ write the authors of a new study that finds that people who hold the most extreme views about genetically modified foods know the least.

“The less people know,” the authors conclude, “the more opposed they are to the scientific consensus.”

The problem is similar to the Dunning-Kruger effect: The less competent a person is at something, the smarter they think they are.

“Extremists have this characteristic of being much worse than the other people at evaluating how much they know.”

The answer would seem to be education, but …

Sometimes it backfires, and people double down on their “counter-scientific consensus attitudes.”

You should see the comments.

Peter Lawless
A big whitewash not so much for science, but for the GMO’s! The thing here is that these “scientists ” and “experts” either get it totally wrong through genuine ignorance, or make it so by lying for corrupt reasons like being in the pay of big corporations.

Wayne Alan
Did you read the article?

Wendy Dann
This is a TERRIBLE INSULTING ARICLE. It began with a discussion about the GMO debate and then it went on insulted people about everything.

John Brookes
How is this insulting? It just says that people who don’t know anything think that they do.

The scientists are going to test their findings in other areas, such as vaccinations and homeopathy. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that the results will be very similar to this study of attitudes toward genetically modified foods. Do you think I’m cynical?

via People with extreme anti-science views know the least, but think they know the most: study | Edmonton Journal

rjb

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Why Do They Say the Earth is Flat?

Public Domain – tap for large image


I think that most of the people who say the Earth is flat are trolling. Unlike T-Rex, I don’t think that all flat-earthers are trolling, just most of them. I think they do it to get noticed. I think they do it to set themselves apart, and to imply that the rest of us are common and boring by comparison. And I think they do it to get a reaction, like other trolls. You’ll be able to tell the trolls from the true believers by how many questions they ask. While true believers will also ask questions in their efforts to make you see the light, the trolls will use almost nothing but questions in their efforts to manipulate you. It’s the earnestness of the true believers that will settle it. Trolls never leave themselves that vulnerable.

Flat-earthers have a lot in common with conspiracy lovers. In fact, part of the flat earth philosophy includes the belief in a round earth conspiracy. Since science and exploration are responsible for much of the evidence against flat and for round, there has to be a conspiracy to hide the flatness of the truth. So that’s another reason why people do it. They are psychologically pre-disposed to believe in an occult truth obscured by a mainstream conspiracy.

Of course, there is also that minority of people who say it because someone told them it was true. The credulous few who will believe whatever they’re told by someone they look up to, and who will fiercely cling to that belief no matter what. Generally, this group is composed of people who aren’t able to think for themselves, and who wouldn’t think of questioning the truth of something they don’t understand.

So, there you have three of the reasons why people say they believe the Earth is flat. They’re trolling. They’re conspiracy lovers. They’re credulous. If you can think of any more reasons, please let me know in the comments.

Here’s a Scientific American article on the subject, to give you the conspiratorial establishment’s spin on the flat earth. And here’s a Youtube video of Bugs Bunny proving that the Earth is globular.

rjb

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Top 10 Posts of 2018

Credit Marjaree Mason Center – CC-BY-SA

Here is the list of the ten posts on Green Comet that got the most visits in 2018.


1. Spanking for Love

Once again Green Comet seems to be a gateway for people who want to learn about spanking their women. Humans are funny little things, aren’t they?


2. Bipedal – The Savanna Theory

Judging from the pattern of hits, I’m guessing that a lot of children find this post after getting a school assignment.


3. Home Page
This makes sense, since it’s the landing page for the site.


4. Ants in the Devil’s Garden

It’s a fascinating story, so I’m not surprised at the interest in it. It’s interesting to speculate about the search parameters that led here. There are some good comments, too.


5. Most Unpleasant Sounds

Once again, how do people end up here? What is the interest in unpleasant sounds?


6. Downloads

This is gratifying. Since the purpose of the Green Comet website is to provide a home on the internet for the Green Comet trilogy, I am pleased that so many people go to the downloads page. In fact, you should do that as soon as you finish reading this post. Download everything. It’s free.


7. Bipedal – The Aquatic Ape Theory

This one is probably linked to #2. They are closely related ideas.

Credit Craig Sunter – CC-BY


8. Cirrus Homogenitus

Everyone loves clouds, and this one is probably particularly interesting because it’s one of the rare new ones designated by the World Meteorological Organization in their International Cloud Atlas.

Photo credit – Ross Cooper


9. Altocumulus Lenticularis

More clouds, and these ones are popular for their striking appearance and their counter-intuitive behavior.


10. Altocumulus Castellanus

More clouds, and again very distinctive in their appearance.

So, that was 2018. I think I’m safe in predicting that the list for 2019 will be similar.

rjb

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Working Title – The Prime


After a nice long break, I’m back at it. I finished The Plainsrunner, my 2018 novel, did all the prep work, published it and completed recording the audiobook before Christmas. Then I took a few weeks off, ignoring the pathetic whimpering of my fountain pens as they stood unwanted in their cup on my desk. Now, at last, I’ve filled one of those pens and begun writing my 2019 novel, tentatively titled The Prime.

It felt good to sit on my exercise ball at my desk this morning, with the familiar weight of a pen in my hand. I was slightly concerned about this year’s goal of a thousand words per sitting. Last year I was able to do 750 words without any problems, but who knows where the limit might be? I needn’t have worried, as it turns out. I got a thousand words this morning, and it didn’t feel as if I was over-extending myself. It felt as if I should be able to reach that level on most mornings. The worst of it was the time it took. Writing for that long each morning is going to push back my other activities accordingly, so I’m going to have to get used to getting everything done that much later.

The Sun is shining here, with a mild temperature and gentle breezes. If I were one for taking omens, then I would be feeling pretty good about the coming year, and about the novel I’ll be writing during it. I’m not one for taking omens, as it happens, but I’m still feeling pretty good.

rjb

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Check Your Facts – Factcheck.org


Factcheck.org has been keeping tabs on prevaricators for 15 years. Concentrating on the United States, Factcheck.org is a party-agnostic watchdog on the words of those who would put themselves out ahead of the rest of us. It should be safe to assume that they should be at least as accountable as the rest of us, so Factcheck.org holds them up for our scrutiny. This year it celebrates its fifteenth anniversary.

Factcheck.org exposes the false statements of liberals and conservatives alike. If these falsehoods are taken by the media and turned into fake news, that is exposed on the Factcheck site, regardless of the politics of the perpetrator. Whether the source is credulous and naively repeating something they heard, or cynically propagating lies, or simply unable to stop themselves from saying that which they would like to be true, their words are held up to the actinic light of day.

Factcheck.org has been keeping track of this deluge of deception for fifteen years now, and they have compiled a collection of the most egregious. They’ve published a convenient list of whoppers for 2018. Not surprisingly, a certain politician once again tops the list.

I’ll just let you check out the whoppers for yourself.

rjb

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