Jolly Roger on the Bay?

May 20, 2009

The “On the Record” blog from the Maryland Daily Record recently had a note about the proposed construction of a liquified natural gas [LNG] terminal in the Chesapeake Bay.   Now, I don’t know much at all about the specifics of the plan, but there is a local group that apparently sees it as a major threat:

The folks over at the LNG Opposition Team have long said that building an LNG plant on the shores of the bay would surely invite terrorists to attack. They say a recent increase in piracy off the Somali coast is fodder for their argument.

It is, in principle, true that an LNG terminal might be a terrorist target.  It’s undoubtedly also true that a terminal built “on the shores of the bay” would be more vulnerable to a sea-based attack than one built in the middle of Kansas.  Of course, in the latter location it would also be essentially useless; but, hey, you can’t be too careful.  Besides, I can reveal here that the site of the proposed terminal is Sparrows Point.   And what was the pirate’s name in Pirates of the Caribbean?  Jack Sparrow.  I rest my case.

It used to be that the “war on drugs” or on child pornography was invoked to trump the Constitution and other such academic considerations.  The “war on terror” is the new appeal to unreason.

The New Fossil

May 20, 2009

By this time, many of you will have heard or read about the primate fossil, found in Germany, that was “unveiled” yesterday.  With an estimated age of ~45 million years, it is the oldest such fossil ever found.  Despite the undoubtedly hyper-ventilated commentary in the general media, it does appear to be of considerable scientific interest:

Darwinius masillae represents the most complete fossil primate ever found, including both skeleton, soft body outline and contents of the digestive tract. Study of all these features allows a fairly complete reconstruction of life history, locomotion, and diet. Any future study of Eocene-Oligocene primates should benefit from information preserved in the Darwinius holotype.

The initial scientific paper (from which the above quote is taken), describing the morphoplogy and paleobiology of the fossil, has been published by the Public LIbrary of Science, and is available on the Web, or for download as a PDF.

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