Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Schopenhauer on Pessimism

"The best consolation in misfortune or affliction of any kind will be the thought of other people who are in a still worse plight than yourself; and this is a form of consolation open to every one. But what an awful fate this means for mankind as a whole! We are like lambs in a field, disporting themselves under the eye of the butcher, who chooses out first one and then another for his prey. So it is that in our good days we are all unconscious of the evil Fate may have presently in store for us — sickness, poverty, mutilation, loss of sight or reason."

-- Arthur Schopenhauer, On the Suffering of the World

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Victor Venema Had Died

And Then There's Physics reports that Victor Venema had died. 

That's sad and a loss for the climate community, and decency in general. Victor was a scientist at the University of Bonn who worked on the homogenization of climate data*, and very active on social media. I corresponded with him several times, asking question about temperature data. He was always kind and thoughtful and pleasant. I'm sorry to hear he has passed.  

* homogenization is the science of bringing data from different time periods and locations into a common baseline. For example, how do records of temperature in the past need to be adjusted, if at all, in order to be compared to temperatures taken today -- given changes in instrumentation, weather station moves, changes in the time of day the thermometers are read, incomplete data, etc. Yes, adjustments are necessary, and doing them correctly is a complicated science. 

Here's an excellent article about these adjustments.


"Understanding adjustments to temperature data," Zeke Hausfather, Climate Etc., 7/7/2014.
"Berkeley Earth: raw versus adjusted temperature data," Robert Rohde, Zeke Hausfather, Steve Mosher, Climate Etc., 2/9/2015.

"Understanding Time of Observation Bias," Zeke Hausfather, Climate Etc., 2/22/2015.

Friday, December 23, 2022

A Decline of About 15 Percent....

 ....in global grain production per capita. Almost looks permanent.

Global grain production (Statistica)
World Population (Fred)

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

100 Million COVID-19 Cases in US

US just reached 100 million cumulative cases of COVID-19.
Daily cases are growing here but not yet too bad. Still, I've started wearing a mask again when I visit big stores. Five vaccination shots and still COVID-free, though I did have a bad virus this summer that led to walking pneumonia. ("Walking" means I didn't have to be hospitalized.) But I tested negative for COVID. I'm wondering if it might have been RSV -- it was the sickest I've been in many years. It was strange being so sick in the middle of summer.

Friday, December 09, 2022

Blatant Error by AI

On the other hand, here ChatGPT makes an egregious arithmetic error. Surprising. And scary. Makes it impossible to believe any nonobvious conclusion it comes up with....


Thursday, December 08, 2022

Funny Joke Written by AI

 Here's a pretty good joke written by ChatGDP, an artifical intelligence that gives answers to submitted questions. 

Via a column by Paul Krugman in the NY Times. I made it free to read.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Unique Video of Earth's Rotation

Cool. I love how the Milky Way stays in place.

PS: Can't get this video to embed on my Edge browser, sorry, but it works with Chrome.

Saturday, November 19, 2022


 He had sailed for two hours, resting in the stern and sometimes chewing a bit of the meat from the martin, trying to rest and to be strong, when he saw the first of the two sharks.

"Ay ," he said aloud. There is no translation for this word and perhaps it is just a noise such as a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood.

Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

More Evidence Hershel Walker is a Dumbass

The Guardian:

Choosing to rehash the plot of a film he said he recently watched late at night, whose title he remembered as “Fright Night, Freak Night, or some type of night”, he said in rambling remarks: “I don’t know if you know, but vampires are some cool people, are they not? But let me tell you something that I found out: a werewolf can kill a vampire. Did you know that? I never knew that.“

So, I don’t want to be a vampire any more. I want to be a werewolf."


US Coal Production is Increasing Under Biden

 I might now like it. It might just be a recovery from the pandemic. But it's true:

Data via EIA.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Herschel Walker Is Just Plain Dumb

Hershel Walker, campaigning yesterday:

"Now let me tell you this here: If we was ready for the green agenda, I'd raise my hand right now," he said. "But we're not ready right now! So don't let them fool you like this is a new agenda, this is not a new agenda! We're not prepared, we're not ready right now! What we need to do is keep having these gas-guzzling cars, because we got the good emissions under those cars. We're doing the best thing that we can!"

Video. Via Yahoo News.

The problem with America is voters. A specific subset of them. You know what I mean.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

John Kerry at COP 27

 John Kerry at COP 27 in Egypt. Everything looks calm and under control.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

The Bravest Thing

Oregonians Barely Rejecting Slavery As Punishment

In Oregon, over 4 in 10 people have voted NOT to remove the punishment of slavery from the state constitution.

From The NY Times.

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Finally *NOW* Britian Hates Brexit


Great Britian might be the only country that is as close of a mess as is the US, but ultimately it doesn't have the heft to compete in the Global Screwed-Up division. But, bless its heart, it's trying.

The beatings will continue until moral improves. It's simply a fact that the highest living standards occur in countries/regions with strong central governments. Amazing how many people don't understand that, or won't.
This from an emailed article by the NY Time's Peter Coy. No link available.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Monday, October 31, 2022

Greta Boycotting COP27

Greta Thunberg is boycotting the upcoming COP27 meeting in Egypt. She explains why in this video clip:


COP27 is from from 6 November to 18 November.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

US Energy Consumption Flat Since 2000

Interestingly, US energy consumption is essentially flat since the year 2000, between 100 to 105 exajoules (1 EJ = 1018 J). Even though population is increasing, per capita energy consumption is decreasing, from 12,900 watts in 1973 to 9,900 W in 2021.

Source: EIA

Charts - "Code Red" on Planet Earth

We are now at “code red” on planet Earth. Humanity is unequivocally facing a climate emergency. The scale of untold human suffering, already immense, is rapidly growing with the escalating number of climate-related disasters. Therefore, we urge scientists, citizens, and world leaders to read this Special Report and quickly take the necessary actions to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

This week a group of a dozen scientists published "World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2022" in the journal BioScience, led by two scientists at Oregon State University, William J. Ripple and Christopher Wolf. It's open access, so I won't discuss it in depth (news & video), but I wanted to publish this interesting set of 16 graphs of time series of "climate-related responses."

I recently broke my left little finger and my hand & arm are in a cast, and Windows speech-to-text function is iffy, so I'm not going to write more than this. But it's interesting to have all these data in one place.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Money Supply Increase Under Trump, Not Biden

Conservatives like Ross Douthat complain that Biden ran up the money supply, causing inflation, but in fact the huge increase occurred under Trump, not Biden:
This is the M2 money supply relative to GDP, which is of course the correct comparison.

If the increase in M2 caused any inflation, it occurred during Trump's administration, not Biden's.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Blast from the Past

Remember these? Information used to be precious. Imagine not having the 1981 population of Bulgaria at your fingertips....

For some reason I've been carrying this around for 19 years. That ends today, but I always feel a little guilty about throwing away a book.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

JJ Thompson, 1904

Didn't realize there were such good pictures back then:

Can you imagine, it was only 118 years since the electron was discovered! Now we talk about them like they are mere flies on the wall.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Desperate Junk


NY Times: "The cost to ship a container of goods from Asia to the U.S. West Coast inched up to $16,353 as of last Friday, before the latest coronavirus restrictions took effect, from $16,155 a week earlier. Rates have almost tripled from a year ago and have risen 12-fold from two years ago, according to data from Freightos, a freight booking platform."

"According to the World Wildlife Fund, wild animal populations have decreased by 68 percent on average over the past 50 years."

-- from the essay "Animal, Vegetable, Capital" by Ingrid Burrington, Lux Magazine, Issue 3, via Harper's, February 2022 pg 17.



Friday, April 01, 2022

Widespread Drought in US West

I don't recall ever seeing a drought monitor with such widespread drought in the US west. To be sure I don't check every one, but this looks terrible and portends badly for the coming wildfire season, especially, it seems, in Oregon and California and Montana. And in Oregon and California at least, this is on top of a multi-year drought already in place -- in the West generally, the worst in 1,200 years. (Williams+ Nature Climate Change, March 2022.) 

The Economy!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Increasing in Cases in Ontario

As L noted, there is currently an increase in cases in Ontario. Ontario has an excellent data page with lots of interesting graphs that is extremely well done.

Hopefully this surge will end with better weather. And by May 2nd, the start of the NHL playoffs. The Leafs are currently in third place in their division, but would face the Tampa Bay Lightning if the playoffs were held today. The Bolts are back-to-back champions and still have plenty of big bruisers, so the Maple Leafs will need all the home ice advantage they can get.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

COVID Case Numbers No Longer Declining

Worrisome--weekly COVID case numbers have stopped falling in both the US and Canada, but that trend has reversed in the EU:

Monday, March 21, 2022

Both of Earth's Poles Blazing Hot*


Both of the Earth's polar regions had a heatwave over the weekend: +30°C in the north and +40°C in Antarctica. Here's a telling graph from Berkeley Earth showing the spike in eastern Antartica:

It beat the old March record by 20°C. That just seems unreal... Here's an explanation:
"... [T]he warm conditions over Antarctica were spurred by an extreme atmospheric river, or a narrow corridor of water vapor in the sky, on its east coast. ... The excessive moisture from the atmospheric river was able to retain large amounts of heat..."
Of course it's never as simple as just "global warming," but it seems hard to imagine global warming isn't somehow behind it. We'll see what attribution studies say....

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Michael Mann Headed to the Ivy League

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Governors DeSantis, Abbott Killed People

There's really no other conclusion to make than the headline to this post.

The governors of red states, by their lax policy choices during the COVID-19 pandemic, have effectively left their citizens to early and needless deaths. 

This figure comes from JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), in the article "The Growing Influence of State Governments on Population Health in the United States" by Steven H. Woolf, MD, MPH. Where you live makes a difference to your life expectancy, both comparing the US to other countries and within the US as well--and not just with respect to the pandemic. Woolf writes:
For decades, the population of the US has experienced shorter life expectancy and higher disease rates than populations in other high-income countries. The gap in life expectancy between the US and 16 peer countries increased from 1.9 years in 2010 to 3.1 years in 2018 and 4.7 years in 2020.1 The US health disadvantage is even worse in certain states, with states such as Alabama and Mississippi having the same life expectancy as Latvia (75 years).

Disparities in health across the 50 states are growing, a trend that began in the 1990s. For example, in 1990, life expectancy in New York was lower than in Oklahoma, but the trajectories separated sharply in the 1990s and, by 2016, New York ranked third in life expectancy, whereas Oklahoma ranked 45th. By 2019, mortality rates at ages 25 to 64 years differed by a factor of 216% between the states with the highest mortality rate (565.1 per 100 000) and the lowest rate (261.9 per 100 000), up from 188% in 1999. The widening gap cannot be explained by changes in the racial and ethnic composition of states, because the same trend occurred within racial and ethnic groups.
Someone should download these data and integrate under the curves to find the total difference in deaths. (I've already heard some of DeSantis's excuses: vaccine tourism, older population.) Woolf continues:
For example, excess death rates in Florida and Georgia (more than 200 deaths per 100 000) were much higher than in states with largely vaccinated populations such as New York (112 per 100 000), New Jersey (73 deaths per 100 000), and Massachusetts (50 per 100 000). States that resisted public health protections experienced higher numbers of excess deaths during the Delta variant surge in the fall of 2021 (Figure). Between August and December 2021, Florida experienced more than triple the number of excess deaths (29 252) as New York (8786), despite both states having similar population counts (21.7 million and 19.3 million, respectively).
And it's only going to get worse:
State control over health outcomes shows no signs of waning. Legislatures have passed and are considering numerous laws designed to transform elections, civil rights, school curricula, and climate policy. New laws and court decisions could affect health and health care and exacerbate inequities. The Texas abortion bill and other challenges to Roe v Wade, new state laws to nullify gun regulations, and other sweeping measures suggest that states will be wielding greater control over the health and safety of their populations. Increasingly, an individual’s life expectancy in the US will depend on the state in which they live....

States are laboratories for experimentation, but fragmented health policy has consequences. While other countries mounted a national response to COVID-19, the US was hobbled by 50 response plans and, to date, has lost more than 1 million lives. Although state governments have the right to set their own path and policies, the public should decide whether life expectancy should be part of the experiment.
I'm afraid that the American public is, at least via their votes for primarily Republican legislatures and governors, deciding that, astonishingly, there are some things more important than their health and their lives.

Flyers' Worst Nightmare

The clip is better when it loops, which I can't seem to arrange here. 
I guess you need to be a Pittsburgh Penguins fan -- the Philadelphia Flyers are their cross-state rivals, one of the deepest rivalries in sports. Sidney Crosby has tormented them for years....

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Price of Wheat, and the Price of Peace

 Global price of wheat, percent increase over the last month: 

The nominal price is in Euros/kg. What will hurt more, the price of wheat or the price of gas? I'm willing to pay both if that's what I'm asked to do to help win the Ukrainian War. I decided that after seeing this photograph.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Fossil Fuel Use Up Since Biden Took Office

I keep reading claims that Biden is blocking energy development in the United States. For example, this is from the Wall Street Journal, via Judith Curry's blog:

“Europe offers another reminder to the U.S. that blocking fossil-fuel development here won’t keep carbon “in the ground.” It merely hands a strategic weapon to dictators that they will turn around and use against us.”

In fact, oil, gas and coal production are all up since Biden took office in January 2021:

Source: https://www.eia.gov/coal/production/quarterly/

And this is from today's Morning Energy report (a daily email) from Politico:

The Biden administration has approved oil and gas permits on federal land at a faster clip than former President Donald Trump's final year, the U.S. still exports more crude oil and petroleum products than it imports and Keystone XL never started while much of the oil it would have transported got to market through rail and other means. Plus, the U.S. has never been closed off from oil imports, even bringing in 7.9 million barrels per day in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic when demand cratered.

Some people are eager to use the Ukraine crisis to blame Biden for everything, and to take advantage of it to further fossil fuel use even in light of the climate crisis (which Curry denies). 

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Great Interview of a Russia Expert

I found this to be a very interesting and informative article in Politico interviewing Fiona Hill, a Russia expert who has studied Putin for decades. Among other things she says we're already in World War 3, and that Putin might well use nuclear weapons to get what he wants. Frightening. 

I recommend it, FWIW. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Ukraine Abstractions End in a Split Second

This morning I heard an NPR host--don't know if he was national or local--summarizing their upcoming news, call Russian's invasion of Ukraine the "largest rearrangement of geopolitics since the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979." That seemed awfully convenient and narrow-sighted. What about the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan? The U.S. invasion of Iraq?

It's amazing how abstract all this seems until you see something like this:

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

2020 By Far the World's Worst Economic Year in My Lifetime*

From FRED:
*if you're poor or lower middle class (global). If so, too bad, so sad for you. You should have arranged to be born somewhere better, of course. No one really cares about you. Again. 

A Dolphin and a Whale

Here's a dolphin and whale doing...something quite different, according to this expert, which we'd like to interpret as a cute, cuddly dance, but the ocean is vast and brains are weird and deep and we really don't know, given that these species are millions of years old and here long before us. We can't at all expect this behavior is just now being seen for the first time, given the size of the ocean and the lifetime of these species....

Still, it's delightful!

Galbraith Quote

“The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”

–– John Kenneth Galbraith

Andrew Dessler on Joe Rogan's Podcast

Notable climate scientist Andrew Dessler just recently was on Joe Rogan's Podcast:

I just learned of this and haven't listened to it yet--doing that now--but knowing Andrew I anticipate it will be very good. Especially in light of the recent Jordan Peterson laughable claim about climate models on Rogan's podcast.

More later.

More, 3:45 pm:

Monday, February 14, 2022

COVID Cases By Income Level

At first glance this was surprising to me--I thought it should be the opposite, with the highest incomes having the lowest COVID case counts and vice versa, since they have the best access to vaccines, therapeutics, doctors, etc. But after thinking about these data I guess it's about (at least) two factors.
  1. Those with higher incomes travel more and are more exposed to a wider group and variety of others as they go about their daily business, while the poor stay primarily in their local environment. (But then wouldn't COVID easily burn through those poor, local areas and essentially infect everyone?)
  2. Data collection and reporting are much better in wealthy areas than in poverty-stricken areas, so the results are biased towards counting cases among the wealthy, etc. down through the various income levels.
Any other suggestions?

An Argument for Keeping Mask Mandates

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Some Sense on COVID

I think this guy makes a lot of sense. I read someone who said we've had great success in running a marathon but why stop before we've finished? Case rates and death rates are still high -- falling (case rates in the US, anyway), but still high -- in fact, still higher than any peak of a previous surge. Deaths are just slightly lower than the peak of the second surge. I get that everyone is tired of the pandemic, but quitting precautions too early will only prolong it.

Monday, February 07, 2022

A Hiking Robot

How long until these things are racing up and down the Appalachian Trail to see which can do it the fastest, and can they beat the fastest humans? (Don't laugh.)

Fortunately, there are steps and cliffs and ladders (and a few bridgeless streams) on the A.T. that these robots can't yet handle. So maybe the (longer but easier) Pacific Crest Trail. But the day is coming.

A Statement from Putin

Macron should have insisted on the chair down to the far left and not taken no for an answer.

About Whatever's Going On in Canada

I'm starting to lose the thread of what's going on in Canada, except it seems disappointingly American, minus the military wannabes in camo with assault rifles hung over their shoulders. Instead there's a lot of honking and some rude behavior, which is very disappointing for such a civilized country, I have to say.

It started over truckers protesting -- what else -- having to roll up their sleeves and get a little shot or two in their arms in order to deliver goods across the US-Canadian border and minimize infecting the populace in the process with a serious disease that has already helped killed over 900,000 Americans and 35,000 in Canada -- the equivalent of about 300,000 if you adjust for population. (So Canada has 1/3rd the number of deaths per capita. See why this protest is so disappointing.)

Ottawa's mayor has declared a state of emergency. WaPo:
The emergency declaration was designed to give officers more “flexibility” to respond to the hundreds and sometimes thousands of truckers and their supporters who are gathered in the streets to denounce coronavirus measures, Mayor Jim Watson said Sunday. And, he said, the declaration reflects the “serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents.”

Fireworks were shot off, drivers blared their horns and streets remained blocked for the second weekend in a row, and Watson admitted Sunday that authorities were “outnumbered” and “losing this battle” against groups who were “calling the shots.”

Ottawa Police Service said in a statement Sunday it had launched over 60 criminal investigations amid the ongoing protests — including thefts, hate crimes and property damage. At least seven arrests had been made as of 9 p.m. Sunday local time in relation to property damage and other acts of “mischief,” police said. “Multiple vehicles and fuel have been seized,” the statement said.

Among the more than 500 tickets issued this weekend were notices of “excessive honking” and seat belt violations.

On Sunday morning, police said officers had issued more than 450 tickets since the day before, including to trucks with no insurance and obstructed license plates. Another 100 tickets were announced Sunday evening, including to people who were driving the wrong way or had alcohol readily available.

Police also said that it had issued a warning to the public that they could be subject to charges if they were found to be supplying demonstration trucks in the red zone with fuel.
So far it seems no worse than you might see in any parking lot of a National Football League game in America on a Sunday afternoon in October, but clearly some right-wing Canadians have been taking notes. The whole thing seems surprising since Canadians seem down with vaccine mandates. This is from last August:
According to a recent Ipsos poll, in light of the recent mandate that vaccination will be mandatory for air and train travel as well as for public servants, Canadians show that not only do they agree with these measures, but they would support imposing a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers and teachers as well. A strong majority agree with the recently announced mandatory vaccination for federal public servants (80%) and the requirement for proof of vaccination for flying on an airplane or taking a train international or inter-provincially (82%). Similar proportions support mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers (84%), for teachers (81%), or vaccine passports to enter restaurants, gyms, or other indoor spaces (72%).
I saw that the protest has now spread to Toronto and Vancouver, at least. Perhaps there's something more going on here than a protest over just vaccines, that's it become about Trudeau's policies in general, I don't know. I hope my Canadian readers can provide some insight.

[And right in the middle of hockey season! Tsk tsk.]

Sunday, February 06, 2022

A Haunting Picture from World War 2

Update: Here's the true story of this train and its rescue, and more pictures.


I found this picture on, I think, YouTube. All I know of it is that it was taken by an American GI, of Jews leaving a train that was on its way to a Nazi concentration camp, a train the Americans (Allies?) has stopped, liberating the prisoners onboard. 

I find this picture to be joyous and tragic and haunting and uplifting all at once, and more. I know the woman and her child in front are saved, in the center of the picture, but the person who really gets to me is the women in back of them on the left, in the black coat with her arms out and a scarf or hood over her head. I can only guess, but she looks like she was just a few minutes ago beyond all hope. She looks like a ghost, like a skeleton, like she was just dead. She has black pits for eyes, sunken cheeks, huge forehead. And now she seems risen from the dead, out of a grave, just now realizing she is alive again, that she is no longer a breathing corpse but is just now again a human being. She can't smile wide enough. She's not yet on even ground but she knows it is there at the top of the hill, and even though her face is unclear it seems to have a look I've never seen before. Or maybe I'm imaging it. But that's part of what a great picture does.  

Thursday, February 03, 2022

Why I'm Not Watching the Winter Olympics

I'm not going to watch the Winter Olympics on television.

A big reason is that I don't have television. Or at least cable TV. I don't get NBC, the network carrying the Winter Olympics.

I gave up on television in 2008, a good decision for me. I'm not saying everyone should do it. You have to be a bit of a misanthrope. I'm not going to linger over that issue here. It always sounds like bragging anyway, when it's just a lifestyle choice. I still have Amazon Prime, Netflix in the last month, and watch YouTube Shorts. And hockey on ESPN+ on my big desktop screen.

I could have TV if I wanted it, of course. I even would if I wanted just to watch the Winter Olympics. I'd subscribe to the NBC's Winter Olympics via their streaming service, Peacock, or Fubo TV or Sling TV maybe or some similar bundler who carries them (if they are, not sure).

But to the point, I'm not watching the Winter Olympics on purpose.

A big reason is China's human rights abuses. They're not slowing down and no one is really trying to stop them. I'm not pretending I am either. I'm nothing really. 

With that is NBC's ignoring these abuses for the sake of profits, and other corporate sponsors doing the same.

The official worldwide partners of the Olympics are Airbnb, Alibaba, Allianz, Atos, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Intel, Omega, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Toyota, and Visa.
Of course I'm not perfect on this. I have a couple of Visa cards I'm not getting rid of. I think my laptop has an Intel chip and my next laptop likely will as well. I may drink a couple of Diet Cokes in the next couple of years, though vastly fewer than I once did. Proctor & Gamble probably makes more of what I buy--soap and toothpaste and whatnot--than what I'm aware of.

But I'm not going to be an easy chump.

I'm also not going to acquiesce to the vast and obvious corruption of the IOC (International Olympic Committee), who seems to no longer know any bounds of vice and corruption. A couple of weeks ago I read about their requirements for cities hoping to host a winter or summer games, and it actually included the requirement that the host city provide a separate lane on their streets for the use of only Olympic officials for travel between Olympic venues.

These people think they are fucking royalty.

This kind of thing, plus all the horrendous, seemingly constant bribery that takes place to garner the right to host the Olympics in a certain country, are just revolting. 

It's now all politics, ideology, nationalism, marketing, corporatism -- a perfect blend of a 21st-century dystopian novel in the making, come to real life. As if nothing else were ever possible, as if nothing else could have ever even come to pass.

Yes, the athletes worked hard to get there. I'm sorry, I can't satisfy everyone, they'll be fine.

So I'm just going to stay home and suffer the pandemic, suffer cabin fever and gray Oregonian skies, watch hockey, read too late, chat too late, blog too late, watch Amazon Prime and Netflix too late and fall asleep too early. Daylight Savings Time starts on March 13th. Maybe then it's OK to poke my head up and start looking around again. If not I'll hunker down some more with my cat and we'll stay here until god damn summer if we have to, I swear, and I just might hold my breath until then too.

Sidney Crosby Doing Sidney Crosby Things

It's the All-Star break in the NHL, also what was to be the break for guys to go play in the Olympics, until it was decided they wouldn't go, because of COVID and losing too many league games. Big disappointment. 

But still gives us time for some Sidney Crosby of my Pittsburgh Penguins.

The guy is amazing. Literally almost every game he does something you just don't see almost anywhere else. Some recent examples:

An amazing assist:

Crosby almost makes an amazing one-handed deflection for a goal in overtime, then unfortunately completely runs over the goalie Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets. Unfortunately. No penalty (there were only 11 seconds left in OT anyway) but Crosby did at least ask if Buycky was OK. Oh yeah, Crosby then went on to score the only goal in the shootout series, winning the game for the Penguins.

Jumps up out of the way while blocking the goaltender for an Evgeni Malkin goal:

I already mentioned Crosby's banked empty net goal, completing a hat trick for the night:

Tonga Eruption from 73 km Away

Here's video from someone who was only 73 km away from the Jan 15th Tonga eruption.

Actually it's isn't as hair-raising as I might have expected. I mean, you can hear some bits of ash falling against the windows, but not really see any, and see some pressure waves in the atmosphere, but it doesn't look all that devastating.

It's surprising because it looks like, from the following point-of-view, the eruption quickly covered the 73-km mark and further:


(Sorry, this is a YouTube Short, YouTube's answer to TikTok, and I don't see how to embed it.)

Friday, January 28, 2022

What "Endemic" Really Means

From today's Nature Briefing (from Nature magazine):
Misuse of the word ‘endemic’ in relation to COVID-19 is encouraging a misplaced complacency, says evolutionary virologist Aris Katzourakis. A disease can be endemic as well as both widespread and deadly. Malaria, for example, is an endemic disease that killed more than 600,000 people in 2020....

That article continues

...In other words, a disease can be endemic and both widespread and deadly.... Ten million fell ill with tuberculosis that same year [2020] and 1.5 million died. Endemic certainly does not mean that evolution has somehow tamed a pathogen so that life simply returns to ‘normal’.

As an evolutionary virologist, it frustrates me when policymakers invoke the word endemic as an excuse to do little or nothing. There’s more to global health policy than learning to live with endemic rotavirus, hepatitis C or measles.

Stating that an infection will become endemic says nothing about how long it might take to reach stasis, what the case rates, morbidity levels or death rates will be or, crucially, how much of a population — and which sectors — will be susceptible. Nor does it suggest guaranteed stability: there can still be disruptive waves from endemic infections, as seen with the US measles outbreak in 2019. Health policies and individual behaviour will determine what form — out of many possibilities — endemic COVID-19 takes.
So what does "endemic" really mean?
To an epidemiologist, an endemic infection is one in which overall rates are static — not rising, not falling. More precisely, it means that the proportion of people who can get sick balances out the ‘basic reproduction number’ of the virus, the number of individuals that an infected individual would infect, assuming a population in which everyone could get sick. Yes, common colds are endemic. So are Lassa fever, malaria and polio. So was smallpox, until vaccines stamped it out.
One thing is for sure: ignorance, misunderstanding, misinformation, and disinformation will continue to be endemic, at best, with little-to-no likelihood of a vaccine.

A New COVID (Sub)variant

Now there's another new COVID variant unleashed, this one a subvariant of omicron. It's been tearing through Denmark, where it's called BA.2. (BA.1 is the original omicron.) Danish researchers say it's about 1.5 time more contagious than BA.1, but not any more likely to cause disease (or less likely, presumably).

It had already been starting to appear in many other countries, and now it's shown up in Texas, where it's called "stealth omicron," because

You cannot identify the type of variant through a PCR test like you can with omicron. Genomic sequencing has to be conducted in a specialized lab to identify the variant, which takes longer.

In Denmark, where stealth omicron cases are rapidly increasing, it went from 20% of cases in December, to 45% of cases two weeks ago, and now it’s about 65% of cases. “It’s moving fast, it’s taking over the landscape,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, infectious disease specialist at University of California San Francisco.
So more reason to stay home, if you needed one.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Sidney Crosby's Impressive Empty Net Goal

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored his third goal of the game Friday night, a hat trick, with some pretty impressive geometry. (Though after the game he said he was just trying to pass to a teammate over on the side and the goal wasn't intentional. You can say that kind of thing when you're a superstar.)

Friday, January 21, 2022

Latest COVID-19 Case and Death Rates, By State

The Kaiser Family Foundation has published COVID-19 case and death numbers, by state, as of 1/20/22. They are, unfortunately, not surprising.  

I'd just like to give some kudos to my governor, Kate Brown, who has maintained an indoor mask mandate here in Oregon since March 2020. Here near Salem everyone has been quite cooperative and still are. (I've heard stories that in red Oregon, on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, it's entirely different. But only a fraction of the population lives in that part of the state -- Western Oregon has 75% of the state's population.) From these data it looks like the mandate has made a real difference, and although some people give her grief for maintaining the mandate, it looks to have made a real difference.

Utah is interesting -- high case rate, low death rate.

COVID-19 cases per million as of 1/20/22


COVID-19 deaths per million as of 1/20/22

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Schrödinger Was a Pedophile

Apparently this has been known for a few decades, but quietly, and it's hitting the news again: Erwin Schrödinger, famous for his fundamental contributions to quantum mechanics, was a pedophile who preyed on young girls. Girls as young as 12 and 17. Apparently he admitted to impregnated a girl who was 17 years old, who had a botched abortion and was thereafter unable to conceive for life. From Futurism:
Perhaps most diabolically, the physicist kept a record of his abuse in his diaries, even justifying his actions by claiming he had a right to the girls due to his genius.

Walter Moore, author of the biography “Schrödinger, Life and Thought” published in 1989, said that the physicist’s attitudes towards women “was essentially that of a male supremacist.” Disgustingly, the biography seemed to downplay and even romanticize his abusive habits, and describes him as having a “Lolita complex.”

Schrödinger also attempted a relationship with a different 12-year-old girl, disgustingly writing in his journal that she was “among the unrequited loves of his life.” However, he decided not to pursue her after a family member voiced their concerns that the physicist was a, you know, unrepentant abusive predator.

The Irish Times article from which the Futurism article is sourced is available only to subscribers, but apparently it says there is a petition to rename a lecture hall at Dublin’s Trinity University that’s named after Schrödinger.

I won't be surprised if, given the environment on campuses these days, there's a small movement to rename his equation and cat, but I doubt that will succeed. What do you think?

Monday, January 17, 2022

1.5°C by 2033

Berkeley Earth has global warming at 1.2°C (a little higher than NOAA and GISS by 0.1°C) and is projecting 1.5°C by 2033, relative to 1850-1900, which is the baseline I think everyone should be using now if they can. (Or the oldest baseline they can obtain.)

Reminder: this tweet won't display properly in the Edge browser. Google's little joke, I guess.

Gasoline Prices vs Median Family Income

OK thanks to commenters I think we're honing in on the truth about gasoline prices, by comparing them to median family income since 1990. It paints a much different picture than comparing them to personal income per capita:

Clearly median family income is barely, if that, keeping up with gas prices, and that's only in recent years. And now falling behind again.

And just as clearly, median family income isn't keeping up with personal income per capita -- evidence of the widening income inequality, I guess.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Early Bud

Now there's a tree/shrub in front of my porch with buds on it. I don't think this is normal for central Oregon in mid-January. And the buds have been there for several days -- I only took this picture yesterday. The meteorological records say the average daily temperature in Salem falls to a minimum on Dec11-Jan5; usually the third week of January is the week with snow here, though this year it was Dec26-28. May still snow more, who knows. I haven't kept close tabs, but it seems very early to see a bud on anything here. 

Gasoline Price vs Personal Income

Here is the average US gas price vs personal income per capita, since 1990. Neither is adjusted for inflation, and both are set to a scale of 100 on 8/20/1990, when the gasoline data begins.

The personal income data is annual, so it ends in 2020.

So, at least for the average person, gas prices surged ahead under the oilman Bush, but income is now outpacing the price of gas over the last 30 years.

Even if you started working in 2010, you're still ahead, assuming you're getting the average increase in personal income.

But it never seems that way, does it?

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Price of Gasoline Isn't That High

Some people are complaining about the price of gas, and ok it is at a 7-year high. But both nominally and adjusted for inflation, it's been significantly higher much of the time over the last 15 years:

Gasoline prices here are the weekly US national average from the EIA's This Week in Petroleum, adjusted via the Consumer Price Index. The blurriness is brought to you by Google (who owns Blogger). Click on the graph to get a clearer version.

I keep track of what I pay for gas, and my mileage, and while I haven't adjusted it for statewide inflation here is what I've paid since two years before I moved to Oregon in 2006:

So there hasn't been much of any increase here, and would obviously be a slight decrease over time if adjusted for inflation. 

I think people (that is to say, Americans) just like to complain about the price of gas no matter what, think they have an inherent right to $2/gallon gasoline, and imagine their political leaders can do something about it (as I once sort of did). But it's mostly a function of the price of oil: