Friday, June 30, 2023

Aurora Over Mount Chocorua

(Hey, that rhymes, get it?)

From my friend Jim D, a retired chemistry professor from Linfield College in Oregon who moved back east with his wife right across Lake Winnipesaukee from where I used to live!

I once saw the aurora from Gilford, but it was like a white glimmering sheet and nothing like this at all. 

What a gorgeous high-res picture.


PS: I once hiked to the top of Mt Chocoura.

PPS: I tried again another time, this time on a second date with a woman, but we left too late in the afternoon and terminated the hike just before the really rocky, steep part to the top. She was a slow hiker, and we tried to take a shortcut trail to get back to the car. We ended up deep in some woods trying to grope our way back to the car. As the sun fell on that November night, I kept telling her, with more and more urgency, that we needed to hurry up. But she just couldn't. I was able to somehow follow the trail by starlight (we didn't have a flashlight) and got us out of the woods and on to a road that led back to my car. In my memory it is actually a special moment -- I was feeling that I somehow knew how the dark, not visible trail before us would go, as it twisted and turned around trees and humps and creeks and rocks. I almost felt like I had done enough hiking and backpacking by then -- 1900 miles on the Appalachian Trail, plus dozens of other trails -- that I could intuit where the trail would go based just on the terrain. And I did. It was kind of unnatural and, if I believed in it, a bit supernatural. I don't believe in the supernatural -- I just feel like my instincts kicked in when I really needed them, when I had started to think we were really going to be lost out there in the New Hampshire woods in November as it was getting quite cold.

But we made it out. I kissed her in joy, kind of awkwardly, we drove out the long dirt road to a place and ate pizza, and I never tried to see her again. Too slow. I have to admit that evening scared me more than almost any hike I'd ever been on. Although there was another one in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona in January....

Good times! Seems like all I have left anymore are memories. 

As with most things, Kevin McCarthy is confused:

Under Biden, the US is now a net exporter of oil:


Red State - Blue State Murder Gap

In the US, the murder rate in states that voted for Trump is 40% about higher than states that voted for Biden, and the gap is increasing:


“The Two-Decade Red State Murder Problem,” Third Way, Jan 27 2023.

via David Firestone in the New York Times, who writes:

The gap is growing, and it is visible even in the rural areas of Trump states.

But this didn’t come up when a Trump ally, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, held a hearing in New York in April to blast Manhattan’s prosecutor for being lax on crime, even though rates for all seven major crime categories are higher in Ohio than in New York City. Nor does House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — who tweets about Democratic “lawlessness” — talk about the per capita homicide rate in Bakersfield, Calif., which he represents, which has been the highest in California for years and is higher than New York City’s.
Why is this relevant? Because increasingly I've been seeing conservatives writing that some cities are going downhill -- crime, police issues, drugs, homelessness, decay -- because they have mayors who are Democrats. (And, the subtle allusion is, because many of these mayors are black.)

I'm not implying these mayors are perfect. Just that they're far from singularly responsible for the problems in big cities. In most cases it's state legislatures and governors who determine gun laws (which are increasingly lax, especially in the south, which may be partly or mostly responsible for the murder gap), or money for the homeless or medical care or rehabilitation programs, etc. 

Then there are the policies of neighboring states. Chicago, for example, has some of the strictest gun laws, but most of the guns used in homicides there come from out of state
In 2017, a report commissioned by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel analyzed four years of gun tracing data and found 60% of illegally used or possessed firearms recovered in Chicago come from out of state. Indiana was the primary source for approximately one in five such guns. In 95% of cases, the person with the gun was not the initial purchaser.
As always, the situations with respect to crime are far more complicated than the juvenile bullet points that get throw out as soon as the discussion begins.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

"people in a country side feeling the effects of global warming"

"people wilting on a hot day in a city"

I asked Bing Image Creator to create a picture using the text in the title of this post. These were the best two:

Took about a minute, once I figured out how to use Bing Image Creator, which itself took about five minutes.  

It wouldn't let me use "suffering" or "heat stroke," so I had to go with "wilting."

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Landlines Lost

Here's an interesting graphic from the Washington Post about the evolution of how people make and receive phone calls.

I went wireless-only when I moved to Oregon in early 2006. I thought I was behind the curve, but I guess not. 

Monday, June 26, 2023

Solar Eclipse on Mars

Taken by NASA's rover Perseverance as the moon Phobos passes in front of the Sun, on April 2, 2022. The eclipse lasted 40 seconds. 

Phobos orbits Mars at a distance of 6,000 km above the Martian surface.

Note that it doesn't cover the entire Sun, unlike solar eclipses on Earth. That's because the exact coverage of our Moon over the Sun is an extremely rare thing for a planet to have -- a moon that's just the right size and distance to the angle made by the diameter and its distance almost exactly matches the same angle to its sun. It's quite uncanny, and won't last forever as the Moon is moving away from the Earth by 3.8 cm/year. The last total solar eclipse on Earth will be in about 600 million years.

So in fact, we live in a very special time and place, when and where we have total solar eclipses. Might be enough of a reason for aliens to consider us a tourist attraction.


Here's a video, via Mashable:

Friday, June 23, 2023

Global Heat Wave May Be Ending


Oregon County Sues Oil Companies for 2021 Heat Dome

Multnomah County in Oregon is suing several fossil fuel companies for causing the monster heat wave in Oregon in June 2021.

Multnomah County is the county that includes Portland, Oregon.

That's not all:

The county also seeks an estimated $50 billion for an abatement fund to study, plan and upgrade public health services and infrastructure to help “weatherproof” the county during future extreme heat events. 

The video accompanying the story says more than two dozen cities, counties and states have filed similar lawsuits. 

Given that the oil companies, like Exxon, did know of the warming potential of their fuels, I think lawsuits like this are justified, just as were the lawsuits against tobacco companies. With enough of them the fossil fuel companies may well settle by some kind of similar multiple hundred-billion dollar type of payment. And they'll be getting off easy.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Record Sea Surface Temperatures

This tweet made me want to look at the latest sea surface temperatures at the U of Maine's Climate Reanalyzer, and they're something else:

Extra atmospheric water vapor in the stratosphere from volcano Tongo?

In the study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, Mill├ín and his colleagues estimate that the Tonga eruption sent around 146 teragrams (1 teragram equals a trillion grams) of water vapor into Earth’s stratosphere – equal to 10% of the water already present in that atmospheric layer. 

The study says it could be there for awhile:

It may take several years for the H2O plume to dissipate. This eruption could impact climate not through surface cooling due to sulfate aerosols, but rather through surface warming due to the radiative forcing from the excess stratospheric H2O.

For the North Atlantic Brian McNoldy wrote the other day that the latest SST for the North Atlantic was a record high anomaly, 3.87 standard deviations above the mean (a 1-in-18,650 occurrence)

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Climate Pacts Have Done Essentially Nothing

From William Ripple, a professor of ecology at Oregon State University. There is just too much money to be made in fossil fuels (~ $100T?).

This doesn't prove climate pacts and accords and conferences have done nothing -- we'd need to see the same curve but without them. But it's not encouraging in the least. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Cormac McCarthy Has Died

The writer Cormac McCarthy has died. But not before this bit of pessimism, from a 1992 interview with the New York Times:

McCarthy wrote All the Pretty Horses, which is a fabulous novel if you can adjust to his clipped, acerbic writing style that wonderfully sets the tone for the story and its location. 

He also wrote Blood Meridian, which is now near the top of my reading list. I hear it's extremely violent, so much so that some people have stopped reading it out of revulsion and disgust. Today the NY Times called it "a bad dream of a Western." And he wrote the books on which two popular movies were based: The Road and No Country For Old Men, neither full of lollipops and rose petals. The former is set in an apocalyptic western Pennsylvania, not far from where I grew up, which some people consider the northernmost edge of Appalachia, one of McCarthy's two favorite locales (the other being the American southwest). He himself grew up in eastern Tennessee, of which he said, "We were considered rich because all the people around us were living in one- or two-room shacks."

He started college studying physics and engineering. After the Air Force he got serious about writing:

After marrying fellow student Lee Holleman in 1961, McCarthy "moved to a shack with no heat and running water in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains outside of Knoxville". There, the couple had a son, Cullen, in 1962. When writer James Agee's childhood home was being demolished in Knoxville that year, McCarthy used the site's bricks to build fireplaces inside his Sevier County shack. While Lee cared for the baby and tended to the chores of the house, Cormac asked her to get a day job so he could focus on his novel writing. Dismayed with the situation, she moved to Wyoming, where she filed for divorce and landed her first job teaching.

Here's an interesting picture of him when he was young, about 40:

Classic '70s look. 

Saturday, June 10, 2023

People Without Shame

People without any semblance of shame will be the downfall of this country. --
David Appell, freelance science writer
p: +1 503-975-5614
m: Keizer, Oregon, USA