Thursday, August 30, 2007

No coal-to-oil in Schuylkill County

A letter I just wrote to the Pottsville Republican, in response to their insipid editorial. I doubt they'll publish it, but we'll see:


I'm writing in response to your editorial supporting the coal-to-oil plant. Maybe you haven't been paying attention, but the people of Schuylkill County have spoken: we do not want this impending environmental disaster in our backyards. Sure, we all want alternative energy sources, but not ones that seriously worsen the effects of global warming.

There's no need to rehash the multiple environmental issues this plant will create - that information is readily available on the website of Schuylkill Taxpayers Opposed to Pollution at The effects of global warming are all over the news - maybe you've heard of the little hurricane that flooded New Orleans or those melting polar ice caps. Do you think the thousands of tons of carbon dioxide that the plant will emit will help that problem or push it further towards the edge?

You can deny the science all you want, but the effects of global warming are so blatant it's practically a shout. To pretend this plant actually helps the environment by clearing away waste coal is so disingenuous as to be laughable. I fail to see what part of this you fail to understand. The only thing that remains unclear is whether you have the journalistic integrity to print an opposing view.

Daryl Davis
Ringtown, PA

Thursday, August 16, 2007

State of comics

There's an interesting essay on Salon called Comics fans, grow up!, excerpted from a book by Douglas Wolk. The author argues that comics readers continue to look for acceptance from the general public despite actually already receiving it, as evidenced by the strong showing of graphic novels in recent years and, presumably, the Hollywood success of Spider-Man, X-Men, etc., and the rise of Comic-Con. I don't know that, other than the big movies, comics themselves are on the mainstream radar as much as might be hoped for. Sales are still a fraction of previous heydays, and you still can't find many comics outside of specialty shops (ah, but for the return of the spinner rack!). Now, comics characters are big - in movies, cartoons, video games, etc. But the books are still a ways off from selling in the millions every month. How Marvel and DC failed to capitalize on the movie successes is a little perplexing.

Star with a comet's tail

NASA has a wonderful image of a star named Mira (after the Latin for "wonderful") with a tail 13 light-years long:

Full story (via Boing Boing)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Vista Prevents Users Playing High-Def Content

As mentioned previously, Microsoft Vista's DRM issues are finally getting some semi-mainstream attention (if you can call a computer mag mainstream, but it is PC World...). At the same time, there are protests at the BBC [via /.] over content that's only playable in a Microsoft OS. Between DRM and vendor lock-in, big business will do what it can to get as much of your money as they can grab. Again, I believe in paying for your content, but media companies seem to want to skirt fair-use and make you pay for your legally purchased content over and over.