Thursday, September 29, 2011

Councilwoman Lightner's Office Responds RE Air Show

If you live in UTC, in 24 hours you won't need this reminder, but the Miramar Air Show starts tomorrow, and goes until Sunday. They're already doing practice runs. I loved watching these as a kid, when my dad (who was a Naval officer) took me to an airstrip to watch the planes - and that's key - it was at an airstrip, not over top of our houses - and he wouldn't have been happy if it was. Along with many other people, I don't love having them fly fast and at low altitude all day long over my house. The government never bothered to ask our consent for this. It would seem important to do so, after two deadly air show crashes, not to mention one deadly non-air show crash right here in Rose Canyon that took an entire family.

I wrote to Mayor Sanders (who hasn't responded) and to Councilmember Lightner, whose office did respond. They've asked the base officials to address the events of the last couple weeks as they pertain to us here in San Diego. I also just now emailed the University City Community Association to find out if this discussion is ongoing; I'm probably not the first person who's had these concerns.

Moving the Miramar Air Show inland to the desert would be a huge improvement, not just in safety and noise. Imagine the tailgating! Merchants able to set up in one place and sell food! Camping over night and beer! Best of all, no risk to non-consenting property owners. Let's not wait for a tragedy to occur to go through the moral motions. Let's do something now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tiger Sharks Eating a Whale Carcass

In Queensland (where else). For tigers those are some bigguns.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sub-Two-Hour Marathon in 2038

Inspired by Patrick Makau Musyoki's new marathon record in Berlin yesterday, I looked for trends in the marathon world records for each decade going back a century. I only included the fastest time in each decade. I expected a plateau like this, but I didn't expect it to be so neatly logarithmic. Explanation of the graph: the Y-axis times are in seconds, so 10,800 is a 3 hour race and 7,200 is a 2 hour race. The horizontal red line is a two-hour marathon, the vertical dark line is 2038, and the light gray prediction line is the trend for future marathons. (Note that the prediction line on the graph is for illustration only - the numbers come from the best-fit equation printed on the graph.)

Look at that R. That's a damn good fit. Marathon records are a very logarithmic phenomenon.

A whole crop of articles commented over the last year on statistically improbable sprinter Usain Bolt, who is ahead-of-trend by thirty years. In the same vein, looking at the marathon plot, we shouldn't expect a male human to break two hours in the marathon until 2038. And it's reasonably assumed that the incremental improvements we see in these times is a result of (decreasing marginal) improvements in training, nutrition, and running equipment. Therefore, if this record is broken significantly ahead of that (you can decide how to calculate standard deviations if you want to define exactly what "significantly" means) then I predict one or more of the following will have happened:

- A genuine new mutation and a recruitment sifting system that can deliver the talent to the field, as is presumably the case with Bolt in short distance (someone sequence this guy already);

- New technology allows undetectable doping, either to increase blood oxygen carrying capacity, muscular oxygen efficiency, or muscle strength;

- Deliberate breeding has occurred by nation states with long-term views and an overbearing need for international prestige (China, we're looking at you, and here's why);

- Most interesting possibility: a population of humans still mostly reproductively isolated and thusfar not competing in marathons, and that has gene variants which benefit them in this event. (Tarahumara, we're looking at you now).

Intrade doesn't have a market for this prediction. But they should.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

2 Days, 2 Airshow Crashes, Here Comes Miramar Air Show

[Note: On Facebook? Look for "Move the san Diego Air Show Way Inland".]

Miramar Air Show is next month. There's no problem with an air show. What there is a problem with is the government placing risks on the people that live nearby without their consent. Those risks are real. A plane crashed next to Rose Canyon three years ago, killing four on the ground - not during the airshow, but it shows that it can happen.

Why not move the airshow out to the desert? Imagine the opportunity for merchants to set up in one central spot that we don't have when it's done over San Diego. Then you could tailgate out there and make a day of it, drink beer, drive around off-road if you want, go home at the end of the day or camp out. It would be a great time. Win-win for everyone!

Join the group on Facebook, and write the Mayor and your Councilmember.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beer-Lovers: Help a Developing Economy, Try Cassava Beer

Support micro-brewers in the brand-new country of South Sudan!

How we get their beer I don't know, but I bet here in San Diego a) lots of us would try it and b) someone knows how to do the importing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How Times Change; Sobering

I just read Encounters with an Angry God, by Carobeth Laird. It details her time with John Harrington, an interesting character who did a huge amount of work cataloguing the then-dying (and now dead) languages of Southern California. Sobering to think that, in some cases, native languages vanished in the space of a century and he was the only person to write them down before they were gone. Laird's account of the man is interesting but is to be viewed with some suspicion, since after all they were divorced. (If this were fiction we would assume "unreliable narrator".)

A pre-Kerouac California road trip. And Harrington was documenting more than his partying.

The book's best value is probably as an artifact preserving what life was like in California a century ago, and this is why I'm mentioning it in my outdoors blog. In 1915 the travails of crossing Tejon Pass were still considerable, and even by car, a trip from San Diego to what is now the Grape Vine was not undertaken lightly. To this day our knowledge of the language of the people that lived there is so scant that we're not even sure what language family it was in. We think it was Uto-Aztecan, i.e. related to Aztec, Paiute, Luiseño and Shoshone.

Can you imagine if two centuries from now, somebody finds your drivers license in some rubble and dusts it off and says, "What language is this?" And all anyone can say is "I don't know. It looks like it's related to Finnish. Or maybe German." How times change.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Possible Snakebite Death at Mission Trails

Not confirmed, but be careful out there! Here's the story. Below is a video from The Running Fat Guy so you know what a rattler sounds like, if you've never heard one. Here's how to avoid getting bitten.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Controversy About USC TV Show

FOX has canceled a show that "mocks" USC students who didn't know anything about football.

A clip from it is below. But I'm confused. I'm not tone deaf to the ethnic basis of people's reactions to it, but seriously: how is this clip mocking the students? These folks are clearly interested enough in learning and working hard and building a future and saving money and having good credit (unlike many sports fans) that they couldn't be bothered to care about a bunch of idiots in colored pajamas chasing a ball around like cats. If you go to USC, you should be proud to be in school with these guys and gals (or even better, to be one of them.) The only guy being mocked in this video as far as I can tell is the dude in the tie who's implying that stuff is important. Who probably has a lot of debt and struggled for C's in all his science classes. Way to create value there bud.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Sound of Mountain Lions Mating

Yikes! In Rawah Wilderness in northern Colorado, courtesy Jeff (who was there with his son):

He told me he actually saw them and they went on like this for a half hour.

Sunset During Long Run, Labor Day Weekend

Monday it rained in Southern California, which some of us actually like. There was even a little thunder. The air smelled great and the sunset was superb. It was an excellent day for a 16-miler. Pictures taken looking WNW toward the ocean across Torrey Preserve.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Neat Bits from Medical Journal Article about Crocodile Attacks

From an article in Wilderness and Environmental Medicine (Caldicott DG, Croser D, Manolis C, Webb G, Britton A., "Crocodile attack in Australia: an analysis of its incidence and review of the pathology and management of crocodilian attacks in general." Wilderness Environ Med. 2005 Fall;16(3):143-59.)

Crocodilian hemoglobin has 12 unique bicarbonate binding sites, allowing far more oxygen to be released from the molecule for a given oxygen tension than from the human equivalent. A hybrid human-crocodilian hemoglobin (Hb-Scuba) has been developed and has potential as a synthetic hemoglobin.

In the only reported Australian series to date,77 cause of death was attributed to either decapitation or truncal transection (Figure 2). It should be assumed that massive blood loss90 and drowning are the cause of death in a large number of crocodilian attacks. Assessing the actual cause of death can be complicated by the fact that bodies are sometimes not found, have been eaten, or are decomposed to an extent that makes cause of death difficult to ascertain. Mercifully, death appears to be swift, with little or no bruising seen on postmortem examination.

The power and size of some animals are such that, if not lethal in the first instance, injuries can be as severe as those seen in major road trauma or in the military arena.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shark Sighting Near Children's Pool, La Jolla

Great whites eat seals. That's why it's not good to swim where the seals are. So it's surprising that it's taken this long for a shark sighting at Children's Pool.

One local expert says this shark was big enough to do some damage, he thinks the harbor seals near the Children's Pool may have attracted the shark to shore, and have surfers now keeping an eye out for fins...It was around two Wednesday afternoon that lifeguards say four boogie boarders spotted a 12 inch dorsal fin poking out of the water. What does a 12 inch dorsal fin mean to you?, we asked shark expert Doctor Jeffrey B. Graham, and he responded "well it means a shark at least, 10 feet long".