And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Linkee-poo Thurseldays

Just as a heads-up, I will be taking some time off in August. So expect outages, but we should be back to normal (for various definitions of "normal") by the end of August.

"Film noir came from the hard-boiled fiction of writers like Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler. It took off in Hollywood during and after World War II, when Eddie Muller says you couldn't sell people just on happy-ever-after anymore, 'and so finally, here were stories on the big screen at the movie house that reflected that pessimism.'" Old people's grim/dark.

"Drawing on ten years of hard work and 7 million dollars in crowdfunding, the nonprofit Society's LightSail 2 has become the first small spacecraft to raise its orbit solely on the power of sunlight." Well done LightSail2.

"The runaway star, S5-HVS1, is moving at ‘extreme’ speeds of up to four million miles per hour - and appears to have been ‘kicked out’ of the area near the supermassive black hole." They make it sounds like "it's impossible" and "no one knows why". It's called a gravitational boost. We've been using it for our spacecraft since the early 70s. Travel into a strong gravitation well, but keep far enough away to not be captured or crash, and you can get a very big velocity boost.

"The new research in AGU's Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres finds chemicals used in pesticides that have been accumulating in glaciers and ice sheets around the world since the 1940s are being released as Himalayan glaciers melt as a result of climate change." We're boned.

"Brazilian scientists are reporting a sharp increase this year in the clearing of forests in the Amazon. That's bad news for endangered ecosystems, as well as the world's climate. Deforestation releases large amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide… It's also a setback for big food companies that have pledged to preserve those forests — or at least to boycott suppliers that clear forests in order to raise crops or graze cattle." Really boned. But now with satellites we can monitor just how fast we're being boned.

"Now, however, a team of researchers has figured out how to directly probe these melt processes and has tested the method out on one glacier in Alaska. What it found, published this week in Science, is worrying: the glacier is melting far faster than current theories had suggested 'The melt rates that we measured were about 10 to 100 times larger than what theory predicted,' says lead study author David A. Sutherland, an oceanographer at the University of Oregon." Boned faster than we thought.

"Hundreds of Russian towns and cities are shrouded in heavy smoke from wildfires in Siberia and the Far East Thursday, and the blazes appear to be spreading in remote terrain."

Meanwhile, in the Congo… "On August 1 of 2018 the World Health Organization confirmed four Ebola cases in the conflict-torn east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then the outbreak has slowly and steadily worsened. There have now been roughly 2,700 cases and more than 1,800 deaths from the disease, making this the second largest Ebola outbreak after the 2014-2016 West Africa crisis, which claimed more than 11,000 lives… And health officials worry that the Congo outbreak is still far from over."

Why the courts are important. "The judge ruled the agency improperly evaluated and considered water use issues associated with the Rosemont Mine planned in the Santa Rita Mountains on part of the Coronado National Forest."

"Investors are paying close attention to the rapidly growing sector that is agricultural technology, or ag-tech. As the earth warms and the world’s population grows, more and more companies are growing food indoors in greenhouses and vertical farms. Although demand is increasing, this segment of the agricultural industry faces high costs of both labor, energy costs and equipment, for things like lighting." A Marketplace story (no transcript, just audio).

"A regional gas pipeline ruptured early Thursday in Kentucky, causing a massive explosion that killed 1 person, hospitalized five others, destroyed railroad tracks and forced the evacuation of dozens of people from a nearby mobile home park, authorities said." Isn't it infrastructure week again?

"The Trump administration is outlining two possible ways certain drugs that were intended for foreign markets could be imported to the U.S. — a move that would clear the way to import some prescription drugs from Canada." Outsourcing a backbone and coopting "socialist" systems to prop up the "free market" in the US. Fantastic. This is not a fix.

"A new study suggests that, until they reach puberty, kids are strongly anti-beard — although children with bearded fathers did feel more warmly toward facial hair." That explains a lot.

"Under the proposal, hospitals would be required to post the prices they negotiate with every insurer for just about every service, drug and supply they provide to patients, starting Jan. 1, 2020." Yeah, that's not going to do hardly anything (except raise the negotiated prices). As I've said before, there is a tremendous amount of variability in quality of service for healthcare. So that cheaper CT scan may be exposing you to more radiation (but that's not going to be publicized), or may be read by a Radiologist in Indonesia (where they have different rules). Is the lab with the lower cost actually giving you a better result (when I had my testosterone tested, we ended up having it retest twice at 2 different labs until we got a number that we could trust). And just because someone had a bad experience with a provider doesn't necessarily mean they're a bad doctor. We are not cars needing mechanics who use exactly the same parts. And let us say you agree to the price of a certain surgery, but then you have a complication on the table which requires a blood infusion, or more extensive surgery, do we need to wake you up to get consent first? Let's say you've given a certain pain killer, but it doesn't work (not unusual). Do you get a refund? This is a solution from people who have never actually looked at healthcare billing because it was never their entire paycheck.

How goes Brexit? "The government has announced an extra £2.1bn of funding to prepare for a no-deal Brexit - doubling the amount of money it has set aside this year." You're going to need a bigger boat.

It takes two… "The European Union has told Britain’s new Europe adviser that it isn’t prepared to renegotiate the Brexit agreement, three months before the country is due to leave the 28-nation bloc."

"After a first week in office that saw him booed in Scotland and berated in Belfast, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was facing his first electoral test on Thursday — a special election that could see the Conservative government’s working majority in Parliament cut to just one vote." Makes more popcorn.

The retail apocalypse continues unabated. "But now the so-called flagship store is disappearing from high-profile shopping thoroughfares like Manhattan’s Madison Avenue and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile because of skyrocketing rents and the shift to online shopping."

They tell us the "brightest minds" work on Wall Street. "Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments after the Fed’s expected rate cut are seen as confusing, and market pros say monetary policy has become muddled… The bottom line is the Fed is still expected to cut interest rates again, but possibly not as much as markets had been geared up for." I'm not buying it. Rich people work on Wall Street. And too much is never enough for them.

Speaking of "brightest minds" (not)… "President Trump plans to appoint former White House press secretary Sean Spicer to the Naval Academy's Board of Visitors, the White House announced Wednesday." I'm not sure, "lying toady" is the example you want for the Navy's cadets.

"Previously unreported analysis by the Federal Aviation Administration of the first Boeing Max crash suggests it 'didn’t take that much' for a sensor to malfunction and that a similar disaster was possible." Heads should roll.

"Princess Haya bint al-Hussein of Jordan, one of six wives of the ruler of Dubai, has asked a U.K. court for protection after she fled the United Arab Emirates earlier this year with her two children."

"The Trump administration continues to separate hundreds of migrant children from their parents despite a federal court ruling that ordered an end to the practice, according to court documents filed in California by the American Civil Liberties Union."

"The Trump administration is moving to weaken the civil rights-era Fair Housing Act — making it much harder to bring lawsuits alleging discrimination in housing, according to housing advocates. But conservative groups applaud the move and say it would stop frivolous lawsuits." The Trump Administration, fucking over the little guy and giving a fist to the landlords. Gee, who could have seen that coming? And sure, this is totally not a racist move at all (narrator's voice: In fact it was).

"Police in Columbus, Ohio, brought departmental charges on Wednesday against five officers who were involved in the arrest of Stormy Daniels at a strip club last year… Three of the five officers are named in a lawsuit Daniels brought against the city and the Columbus Police Department alleging that she was arrested in a political conspiracy to protect President Donald Trump." A report states that the arrests weren't politically motivated (yeah, right, Bob), but were "against policy." The really sad part of this is because of the improper actions of some police who couldn't be professional is the team that investigates human trafficking has been disbanded at a time it's needed most. So good job, those cops, you've fucked us all over.

"U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson came to Baltimore Wednesday to promote the Trump administration’s efforts to improve urban areas… HUD officials hoped to stage their event on a vacant lot, but didn’t ask for permission from Morning Star Baptist Church of Christ, which owns the land and hopes to build a parking lot there, said church member Gregory Evans. Evans asked the HUD group to move." Of course then Sec. Carson tries to blame it on the "animosity" in the city. No, Mr. Secretary, you just didn't think that 1) anyone owned the land and 2) weren't curious or professional enough to find out and 3) thought you didn't have to play by the rules. Seriously, there are advance people who do this all the time. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"Wednesday's Democratic presidential primary debate in Detroit was interrupted twice by protesters in the audience who were trying to draw attention to immigration and policing issues." Which, IMHO, would have been a better discussion and use of the time.

"A militia network’s enthusiasm to lend paramilitary support to Oregon’s Republican senators last month could be a bellwether for the 2020 campaign season." Ah, the "loyal" Americans who are so patriotic they want to kill their fellow Americans and overthrow the government. (Grokked from Matt Wallace)

"All eyes will be watching both the Ohio crowd’s behavior — and how Trump reacts. Even his closest advisers seem uncertain as to what may transpire." Expect a staged chant and tepid response (probably even indicated on the teleprompter), and even more outrageous behavior. Although it is possible, because the president is weak, it may get out of control and he may not remember to respond to everything. That sometimes happens to populists who haven't realized they've grabbed the tiger's tail, but instead think they are the tiger. And having worked in Cincinnati for almost a year back in 90-91, yes, the city is a powder keg waiting to go.

"The Trump administration's intelligence watchdog has declined a request from four top Senate Democrats to investigate how the White House has handled security clearances for Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and other employees, according to a letter obtained by NBC News." Makes it convenient to be the gatekeeper to investigating your own actions. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

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