Saturday, August 01, 2020

Climate Change Bites Back

Svalbard coal mine flooded by melting glacier 

"After days with record heat at Svalbard, the penetration of water from the above melting glacier is now flooding Norway’s only operating coal mine that supplies the country’s only coal-power plant.

"The day before, a record heat of 21,7°C was measured in Longyearbyen, the highest temperature ever measured so far north in the European Arctic.

"In the town of Longyearbyen is houses sagging due to unstable ground as the permafrost melts. About 250 homes will have to be torn down and new buildings are built on steel pillars and sensors are placed in the ground to measure how the steel constructions impact the permafrost."

Friday, July 31, 2020

Friday Night: Birthday Boy, Drive-by Truckers

More of Various

The Republican party, including Mitch McConnell, are cancers on America, without empathy, without caring, without basic decency. 

McConnell says a third of Republican senators just don't give a shit. Instead of people, they're pretending to care about the deficit. How convenient. 

Of course they never care about the deficit or debt when they give giant tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations. There's always lots of money for that.

We do need a revolution -- that's the only thing that will fix all this. No election will -- the two parties have rigged it so no one else can get in power. Maybe we need a revolution with no quarter given, a la Tom Cotton's plan for protesters. 

Revolutions happen periodically. They have before, and they will again. It's difficult to know the form of those in the future, with so much changing so fast, but they will happen.

But watch -- those who really need the help, in middle America, in the south, will again (and again) vote for Republicans. Because they don't mind being kicked in the teeth again (and again). Doesn't bother them, because they have so very few teeth left.


A co-founder of The Federalist, which I do believe we've heard a thing or two about here on this blog before, says Trump should be impeached for suggesting election day should be postponed.

It has always been set in steel.


After all, the Presidential oath of office says the president "...will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Trump just willingly failed to do that. He clearly violated his oath.


Fauci said today we would most likely have a safe vaccine ready by the end of 2020 or early 2021. Seems hard to believe, when you include rigorous testing. But as the book said, "been down so long it looks like up to me."


Recently I started reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, where the narrator is a pedophile. Two things have surprised me so far, 1/3rd of the way in: (1) it's set in New Hampshire, and (2) it's actually quite funny.


Last week I finished The Invincible by Stanislaw Lem. It's old school sci-fi (pub 1967), though nothing by Lem is ever really pulp. (Earlier I read Lem's His Master's Voice (pub 1968), which wasn't easy, and which I'll need to read again.) The Invincible is about a human spaceship that lands on a planet in search of an earlier human spaceship that never returned, and the mysteries behind the reasons. They involve self-assembling and self-replicating nanotechology, and the humans' struggle to not defeat the quasi-lifeforms, but merely to escape them. And, ultimately, to let them "live" -- exist --  alone, an enlightened view for a book published in the 1960s, though perhaps not by a scifi writer like Lem.


Here's what I've been reading over the last decade. (Sorry, I'm a spreadsheet junkie.)

Where Are They Wearing Masks?

From the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation:

I don't know what's wrong with Illinois. Or the entire upper midwest, for that matter. 

IMHE is now projecting 231,000 deaths by November 1st. 77 9/11's.

They say more people are wearing masks, and "if that number increases to 95% across all states, around 32,000 lives could be saved."

Trump: "If no testing, few cases"

As someone wrote on Twitter, Herman Cain would be alive today if only he hadn't gotten tested for COVID-19. 

 Trump really can't be this stupid, can he? So what's his angle?

Thursday, July 30, 2020

van Gogh's Last Painting, and a Movie

Vincent van Gogh's last painting, "Tree Roots." Someone recently discovered its likely location, which still looks much like the painting. 

Just recently I watched an interesting movie on Kanopy, Loving Vincent, which is an animation of 65,000 frames of 853 paintings done in van Gogh's style, made by 100 artists. I wasn't sure about it at first, but was very glad I stuck with it -- it's set a few weeks after van Gogh's death, narrated by a man investigating the circumstances leading up to his suicide as he tries to deliver van Gogh's last letter to his brother Theo. I recommend it.

Louie's Lousy Logic

So Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, has COVID-19. He has refused to wear a mask while walking around the Capital. He berated his own staff for wearing a mask in his office after forcing them to come back into the office instead of working from home. 

Gohmert's reason for not wearing a mask? Because he was getting testing regularly for the virus. Perhaps while quarantining he can read up on biology or logic or both. 

Gohmert, who is perhaps one of the dumbest members of Congress (he called an in-person meeting of his staff to tell them he had COVID; in June Gohmert said he'd wear a mask if he got sick), plans to take zinc and hydroxychloroquine to cure his disease, because of course he does. I suppose injecting bleach will be his backup plan.

Louie, who is (of course) a climate denier, claims he thinks he got COVID from the few times he did wear a mask, 
When the Texas Republican later contended to a local TV station that he might have gotten sick because of getting germs on a mask while wearing one, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) tweeted, “This is the COVID version of claiming you got VD from a toilet seat. That hydroxychloroquine must be starting to impair Louis' mental faculties.”
Republican minority whip accidentally called him "Congressman COVID." Now the Capital Hill petri dish is angry and up in arms. 

Also, Herman Cain, who once campaigned for the Republican party presidential nomination, has died from COVID-19. He also opposed face masks, and attended Trump's Tulsa rally two weeks before receiving his diagnosis. In a tweet about Trump's 4th of July part at Mt Rushmore, Cain wrote
“Masks will not be mandatory for the event, which will be attended by President Trump. PEOPLE ARE FED UP!”
It's sad that some people are so bullheaded they have to learn the hard way, and angering they put the rest of us at risk in the process. Not wearing a mask should be enforced, with at least a fine. This again is one of Trump's great failings.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

US CO2 Emissions Hit Record Low

Meanwhile, US CO2 emissions for April were the lowest since modern record keeping began by the EIA in 1973:

Women Snatched Off Street in NYC

Now a women unconstitutionally snatched off the street by men in blue shirts an shorts, no insignia or identification at all, wearing guns, producing no warrant, this time in Argentina New York City. I suppose some excuse will be offered by the police, by Trumpists, by the fascists and by conservatives. The hippie deserved it.

US Coal Production: Lowest Since 1978

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


I want to get back to blogging more science. But events keep getting in the way, important events, historical events. I know it's a cliche by now, but this really is the most important election of our lifetimes. (What does it say about America that this has been true for the last five or so elections now?) Four more years of Trump and this country will be left in shreds.

At the Republican National Convention in 2016 Trump said the nation was in crisis and then he said "I alone can fix it."

Is there any part of America that is better today than it was in 2016? Perhaps only the stock market, up about 38% since he was sworn in. But then, "84 percent of all stocks owned by Americans belong to the wealthiest 10 percent of households."

By the way, the same Wilshire 5000 was up 35% in Obama's first term, 51% in his second.

Trump can't be blamed for the pandemic, but he is certainly responsible for the US's feeble, uncoordinated, feckless response to it. The deaths of tens of thousands lies in Trump's hands. He has no clue how to provide leadership in this crisis, no ability to, and, worst of all, no desire to. He is such a psychological head case that he sees himself as the victim in all this, pathetic beyond compare. He lies as he breathes, and even when we all know he's lying, he lies again. It's clear by now that, despite all his bluster, he is a very weak, broken man.

So I have to write about what's going on politically, socially, culturally, at least untl the election. If it doesn't convince anyone of anything, at least it gets some stress out of me, in this lonely pandemic, which is something I need right now. I hope you can bear with me.


Florida now has more COVID-19 cases than New York state. But New York still leads per capita, 21.2 cases/K to 19.8 cases/K. (Not sure about any other states.) About 1/5th per hundred. Still pretty low, unless you're vulnerable.


The Kaiser Family Foundation says 8 in 10 people who have died from COVID-19 were 65 or older. That's the national number; it varies by state, from 90% in Idaho to 70% in D.C.


Gallup: Two in Three Americans Support Racial Justice Protests.


David Frum writes about pandemic life in Canada right now. It's eye-opening. 
"It’s not the health-care system, exactly—although that has coped better, too. A close friend in Los Angeles combatting cancer this week began to experience COVID-19-like symptoms. Her cancer treatment had to pause while she awaited first a test (a two-day delay) then the results (God knows how long). Meanwhile, my two Canadian nephews took the precaution of a COVID-19 test before coming to visit us in the country. They got the test on a walk-in basis. The results arrived a few hours later: all clear."

A little while back I mentioned John Hersey's book Hiroshima, which was a journalistic account of the bomb through profiles of six people who survived it. It was originally published in The New Yorker, taking up the entire issue of the August 31, 1946 magazine. It sold out almost immediately; nationwide radio read it in its entirety over the air.

This Daily Beast article says Harry Truman, who of course ordered the dropping of the bomb (and also that on Nagasaki), didn't want to read about what he'd done. I guess that's understandable, but still. The article is password protected, so I can't read the details for now; it will probably become available without a password in a few days. We'll see if he actually did read it or not.

Albert Einstein ordered a thousand copies.


I thought these two comments were excellent, from this NY Times opinion piece, "In Portland’s So-Called War Zone, It’s the Troops Who Provide the Menace: If President Trump is actually trying to establish order, he is stunningly incompetent," by Nicholas Kristof (who lives about 20 miles outside Portland and grew up on a farm there):


Clay Bennett:


The melting of Arctic sea ice has stalled in the last week and is returning to something normal (at least normal for an AGW world):


Monday, July 27, 2020

The Fire Devil

A recent cover of Der Spiegel. Translation:

"The fire devil"
"A president sets fire to his country."

Sunday, July 26, 2020

About Masks

Those people who warned early on in Trump's term that fascism was coming to America.... They were right. "America is 'staring down the barrel of martial law' as it approaches the presidential election," said Oregon Senator Ron Wyden in The Guardian.

Here's Trump gloating when the mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, had a bad experience at the protests:
“They knocked the hell out of him,” President Trump boasted on Fox News. “That was the end of him.”

First Image of Two Exoplanets

This is the first ever image taken of two planets orbiting another star.

The star is located about 300 light-years from Earth in the constellation Musca in the southern sky, and is about one solar mass. But the two planets are exotic -- orbiting at four and eight times Pluto's distance from our sun. Both are huge -- the inner one is 14 times Jupiter's mass, and the outer one is 6 times.

Photo taken at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in northern Chile.

Photo and article via Scientific American.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Donavan La Bella Has Brain Injury

This tweet shows video of the federal attack:

Friday, July 24, 2020

A COVID-19 Peak in the US?

The US appears to be reaching a peak in COVID-19 cases -- or maybe we should say another local maximum. Hopefully, but doubtfully, certain southern governors will refrain from reopening for a least a month and maybe(?) two.

Of course, schools would ordinarily start in a month and a bit, and if cases are declining at that point there will be a lot of pressure to open them and probably start the cycle on the upswing again.

PS: Have I ever said that I hate the way Blogger renders figures?