Monday, December 19, 2011

Tab Clearing...

  • I will refrain from pointing out that, even in his younger and more heroic days, Captain Euro had a decidedly non-Mediterranean look about him. Mark that down as foreshadowing if you wish...

  • While dismayed, I am unsurprised.

  • Sometimes a new theory comes along and I'm dubious. Sometimes a new theory comes along and sounds like it might be plausible. And sometimes I read a new theory and think "Well, derp. Why didn't I think of that?" Bear in mind that, given a lot of fossil evidence uncovered in the intervening years, the portrayal of the velociraptors in Jurassic Park is now almost as quaint as the lumbering, tail-dragging T. rexes of my childhood. (H/T to Steve Bodio.)

19 comments:

bluesun said...

Jurassic Park will always be the way dinosaurs are in my heart, though--and no science can take that away from me!

LC Scotty said...

Burn the land and boil the sea, you can't take the Rex from me...

Anonymous said...

When I got to this part:

"The Kel-Tec PF-9 is accurate at short range"

I couldn't help but think... So is a sledge hammer.

davek

Lanius said...

I wonder how a $215 US price can morph into $470 crossing the Atlantic on a cargo ship, being unloaded at Hamburg and trucked here..

VAT is 20%, import duty 3%..

Especially if weapons exported from the EU are cheaper in the USA than here. Even if VAT is not included.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm both dismayed AND surprised no Taurus makes the list of top selling handguns.

Rob

Firehand said...

In the opening story of Time Safari, a character talks about how they'd spent so long deciding what these animals actually looked and acted like from fossils and guesses, and now actually seeing them was seriously messing with her reality...

Old NFO said...

All I can think of the CTD survey is that I don't own a single one of any of them, and for good reason...

Firehand said...

Seem to anyone else, in that 'saur article, there's a lot of "We HAVE to figure how that species changed to THIS one", with no actual proof?

I'm all for Occam's Razor; I'm also leery of deciding, from some fossils and (possibly) wishful thinking, that "Eureka! Here's proof!" Too little evidence, too long time periods. They may be right; or they may be just as wrong as a lot of others have been.

Neutrino Cannon said...

Ah yes, Hi-point waffenfabrik's entry into the volkspistole program...

docjim505 said...

Why dismayed?

1. People are buying firearms. Good.

2. Firearms were apparently the hottest-selling class of items on Black Friday. Good.

3. People are buying small firearms, which says "concealed carry" to me. Good.

Oleg Volk once did a poster that showed a cheaply-made revolver with a caption to the effect that the 1968 Gun Control Act that outlawed "Saturday Night Specials" did nothing but disarm the poor.

So long as the guns aren't so flimsy that they are liable to blow up in the user's hand or bury the slide in his forehead, then I say that they do a good job of filling a valid role of providing some level of protection at an affordable price.

Sigman said...

derp???!?

Anonymous said...

Any paleontologist worth his salt will tell you that we're not sure about many historical relationships. Nobody realistically expects absolute proof of anything in the geologic record, because the temporal resolution is not good enough and the fossil record is incomplete and biased.

However, complex lifeforms with loads of derived characteristics don't just spring out of nowhere, and it's not THAT difficult to make solid guesses about where, say, birds came from.

Some features evolve independently in many lines, like bird beak morphology (there aren't that many beak designs good for eating seeds), but to my mind any classification scheme that requires a lot of convergent evolution makes less sense than one with relationships that seem surprising to us.

You can learn a lot from fossils and other geologic evidence. The important thing is to stick to what they're telling you and not extrapolate wildly. My favorite example is the Chicxulub impact crater on the Yucatan, commonly associated with the Cretaceous extinction. Paleontologists went wild with the idea that it wiped out most of the species on the planet (and started looking for craters to match other mass extinctions), based on a fairly rough time correlation--the crater has been dated from 300,000 years prior to coeval with the K-T boundary in different papers. The idea persists today, despite the fact that many extinction patterns just do not match the impact theory, and that the impact can't be conclusively placed at the K-T boundary (as paleontologically defined). All that crater says is that sometime approximately 65 million years ago, a large bolide nailed the Earth. Correlation != causation.

Sometimes I wish scientists would remember to be, well, scientists.

- weambulance

Pakkinpoppa said...

Hi Points work. most of the time. Once you've run the 5 or so boxes out of them to break them in. Have heard the 40s are finicky, but the pistols work.

Are they Glocks? No. Some won't and some will feed hollowpoints.

If I had 200 clams it'd be better than waiting 6 months to save the money to buy a blaster and hoping to not get robbed in the interim.

Years past, were there massive piles of Eastern Bloc surplus Communist handguns for, well, next to nothing? Yes. Don't see much other than occasional CZ82's from time to time, sometimes Nagant revolvers.

Well, I guess AIM has some P1's again but that's not a 200 dollar pistol anymore.

Now, would I tote a Hi Point? Not unless I had to, but it'd be better than one of those 2 shot derringers.

staghounds said...

1. At 3 days' minimum wage work, that High Point is cheaper than the $19.95 RG of 1968. Truly amazing.

2. "with large prey all the predator can do is hold on and stop it from escaping, then basically just eat it alive. "

Not so much Disney in real nature.

Weer'd Beard said...

FYI I had a Science mag of some sort in the 80s that showed an exibit of a Velociraptor in mid-pounce with wings filled with brightly colored plumage.

So that image isn't exactly new.

Also Crichton nor Spielberg were terribly interested in the biology when they took the Chicken-sized 'Raptor and made it into a man-sized killing-machine.

Tam said...

Weer'd,

They called 'em "velociraptors" in the movie because "deinonychus" is too hard for kids to pronounce when begging for the action figures. ;)

OtherWhiteMatt said...

The new Jurassic Park game that just came out had an interesting explanation why they are different:

Its because of all the genetic modifications that Wu made (frog DNA etc). Its a nice convenient explanation that they aren't exactly like they would have been if we traveled back in time.

I like it.

RevolverRob said...

@ weambulance - Take a stroll through the latest musings on the K/T Boundary event, impact, and subsequent extinction. My suggestion is to check out the work by Dr. Kirk Johnson from the Denver Museum. Suffice to say, today with refined techniques, we define the K/T boundary as strictly the point where the bollide hit Earth, the extinction begins prior to this (suggesting that increased volcanism from Deccan Traps played a role in early extinctions), takes a dramatic turn as soon as the bollide hit, and was complete within a relatively short period of time post-bollide impact. That hypothesis is well tested and supported, enough so to elevate it to theory.

I read through the little spiel by Museum of the Rockies crew and I remain unimpressed. It's a very hand-wavy argument with very little anatomical support thus far (a "short" vs. "long" metatarsus does not a hypothesis make). A significant set of derived characters suggesting that dromeosaurids were flapping their wings/arms to maintain balance would be more convincing. I would think the next step will be to closely evaluate the wing morphology and and biomechanics of modern predatory birds and inferred biomechanics of the dromeosaurs and make some interpretations.

I will also point out that the perching behavior that is discussed in the article is derived multiple times in birds. The perching behavior and subsequent anatomical system that allows it, is different in birds of prey than it is in song birds. It's also not found in the basal most group of living birds (the group mostly closely related to extinct non-avian dinosaurs) the Ratites (although that is easily explained by the Ratites being secondarily flightless).

-RevolverRob (Your friendly neighborhood paleontologist)

Anonymous said...

RevolverRob - I just got done reading about 50 papers on the K-T extinction actually, for a research paper that got out of hand. I don't think I read anything by Johnson, so thanks for the recommendation; I'll take a look when I get back to Alaska.

The conclusion I've come to regarding the K-T extinction is, well, it was complicated. Deccan Traps volcanism, ecological stress through increased competition in terrestrial vertebrates, the bolide sure didn't help matters, and so on. No single cause can explain all of the extinctions, so it bothers me when paleontologists try to oversimplify such a complex and prolonged event. Of course, what fun would paleontology be without strife and division?

When it comes down to it, I'm a mineral exploration guy. I find paleo interesting but I just don't have sufficient grounding in it to sort the wheat from the chaff when I'm reading through the literature. That makes trying to sort things out when two groups of scientists have a clear and fundamental difference of opinion about something in the stratigraphic record (which I can't see myself to decide, for example, who's right about whether a unit is micritic limestone or dolomitic sandstone... I mean, seriously?) nearly impossible without running to one of the actual paleontologists I know for a clue.

- weambulance