Wednesday, April 24, 2024

More About Gas Prices

So I was playing more with the gasoline data. I added two more lines:

  • yellow line is the latest price
  • green line is what I call the "reverse average"; for any point on the x-axis, it's the average price (adjusted for inflation) from that point to the latest point. 

Got it?

Then here's the graph. It shows that the current price of gas, $3.67/gallon, is quite consistent with the average (inflation adjusted) price over decades, which has averaged between about $3.20/gal and $3.85/gal. 

It shows that the current price is equal to the average price since about 2002. Inflation adjusted. Hard to complain about that, unless your income doesn't increase as fast as inflation does. (For freelance writing it definitely hasn't. Hence I'm trying to leave and do something else. But I might be too old. I am probably too old to do anything that is both interesting and pays well, ever again. Washed up.)

Of course, people don't compare today's price of gas to what it was in 1990, but this helps them see that maybe they should before complaining. (And believe me, I like to complain as much as the next gal.) In any case, it shows the current price of gas is lower than the approximately 10-year period from 2005-2015. 

Gas prices started to rise after Hurricane Katrina and never really recovered. I think this is exactly what Bush Jr and Cheney wanted, one way or the other. Both had strong ties to the oil & gas industry. 

🐧 Top Five Goals

My team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, sadly missed the NHL playoffs this year. They had a thrilling comeback in the last ten games but fell short due to lackadaisical play in the early and mid-season. Too many leads given up and slow skating, perhaps because of age--the Penguins were the oldest team in the league, with three definite Hall of Famers and two others likely to get in as well. Alas. 

But there were some thrilling moments nonetheless. Here are the top five goals of the season, according to Penguins public relations. Number one is one of the rarest plays in sports (much rarer than a hole-in-one in golf, for instance). I saw it live when watching the game. It's only happened 17 times in NHL history, which began in 1917.

Price of Gas is not High

If you correct for inflation, the average price of gasoline in the US is about the same as in 2005 (when it bumped up due to Hurricane Katrina). And it's lower than the price during about half of the 2010s. And in real terms it's lower than the day I remember filling up my car, after being out of town right after Katrina, and was shocked to come home and see $4/gallon at the station. [For some reason I remember it was cool and dusky, with darkness enveloping the place. I don't remember many other times I got gas. This was back in New Hampshire where you have to pump your own gas; that probably contributed to my recollections.] 

'Course, fuel prices are a significant component when calculating inflation, so maybe this isn't very surprising. Anyway, people who vote for a president based on gas prices need to rethink. The president can't do much about the price of oil (hence price of gasoline) anyhow. The sharp dip in 2020 when Trump was president is because of reduced demand during the first year of the pandemic, but people who vote strictly on the price of gas probably don't get that and think that if Trump is elected gas will go back to $2+/gallon. 

Data sources:
price of gasoline (TWIP)
inflation (CPI-urban)

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

This is Why Hockey is the Best Sport

Tonight the Pittsburgh #Penguins played their last game of the season. Despite an amazing charge at the end--they were 6-1-1 this month (wins-losses-overtime losses). Yesterday they were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs by just one point (a half a win) and would have no postseason play.

But tonight, their definite last game of the season, they played Jeff Carter, a big 6'4" center known as "Big Jeff Carter" who once starred for the Los Angeles Kings. He's now 39, and was widely expected to resign at the end of this season.

And he did so tonight. All the players fromm the NY Islanders, who played the Penguins tonight and are moving ahead to the playoffs, lined up and shook his hand and patted him on the shoulder or neck and had something to say to him:

I have never seen another sport where this happens. Not baseball, not football, not basketball. Maybe it's happened. I haven't closely followed these sports (never basketbal, but I did try to follow the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team as a kid and the Pittsburgh Steelers at a teen into my early 20s), but I never this kind of sendoff for any player in those sports.

I've only been watching hockey seriously since spring 2018. I had a brief spell in New Hampshire in spring 2005 when the Boston Bruins wre in the playoffs and I watced intently for the first time. But since spring 2018 I have been watching closely. And, yes, the players play hard, but it really does seem that in the end that they are all in one faternity.

I wish I played but I never had the chance. But it's been great watching the genius of Sydney Crosby of the #Penguins, a star since he was 7-years old (seriously--that was the first time he appeared on "Hockey Night in Canada," a kind of weekly bible of the sport.

In any case, Crosby still does great things at age 36, and plays an amazing game up-and-down the ice. Someday he'll go out too, but not next year. This summr he'll be skating hard near his hometown of Cole Harbor, Canada. Jeff Carter will be going back to Los Angles, rich, floating in the glow of a career well done. Very many new players will be trying to get into the NHL, so they too can revel in its traditions and history. I like that, in a world that is now always changing too fast.

Hip Eclipse Clip

I've seen a couple zoomed-in pictures of solar flares during last week's eclipse, but this is the best I've seen so far:

100x zoom on the solar eclipse
byu/ArchontheWings ininterestingasfuck

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The Last 30 Years If....

Top left and clockwise: Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton and dBarack Obama

This didn't happen, because, of course, US's Electoral College, whereby the president is elected by votes in the electoral college, not the popular vote. A candidate wins all of a state's electoral college votes if he wins the popular vote in that state. The number of EC votes a state gets is proportional to its population, except each state gets at least three, regardless of its size, because every state has two senators and at least one House representative. Accordingly, a candidate can win the popular vote in the country but lose the electoral college voting. This happened with Bush Jr in 2000 and Trump in 2016. 

Small states have disproportionate power. For example, Wyoming gets the same number of senators as does California, even though California has 66 times the population that Wyoming does. 

And here's the thing, we can NEVER get rid of the Electoral College. That would take a constitutional amendment, which to be approved must get 2/3rds of votes in the House or Senate or by a constitutional convention called by 2/3rds of the states. But getting 2/3rds is impossible because the smaller states would never agree to either process because it would dilute their national power.

The Electoral College is a deep flaw in the Constitution and has given us some deeply flawed presidents. 

It also means ones vote for president only counts if you live in a "swing state." If you live in a state where the outcome is essentially determined by the nature of the population--for example, Oregon is [very, very likely] going to vote for the Democratic candidate no matter what, so the Democratic candidate will get all that state's EC votes, so everyone in the state who votes for a Republican has a vote that doesn't count, nor really do those who vote for the Democrat because lots of others are so the EC result is already obvious. Accordingly, candidates focus all their campaigning attention on the few swing states, of which there are only about ten now. 

It's all very frustrating. In my opinion, the Electoral College is a fundamental design flaw in the Constitution, as is the wording of the Second Amendment (on guns). And we'll never get rid of either. 

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Said Doc....

"It has always seemed strange to me,” said Doc. “The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”

-- John Steinbeck, Cannery Row

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Spike in Tube Ties and Vasectomies

In the US. From "Changes in Permanent Contraception Procedures Among Young Adults Following the Dobbs Decision," JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), April 12, 2024: 

Conservatives in America want to outlaw abortion, but they also want more babies being born. Go figure.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Recordbreaking Atmospheric & Ocean Heat is Unexplained

 From the NY Times:

Gavin Schmidt of NASA GISS has an article in a recent issue of Nature about how scientists can't explain the recordbreaking temperatures seen in the last nine months (or so), and about why that's a problem. I don't think it's paywalled. He wrote that he doesn't think it's a decrease in aerosols (which cool the planet), as James Hansen has been speculating in recent months. Gavin writes:

Much of the world’s climate is driven by intricate, long-distance links — known as teleconnections — fuelled by sea and atmospheric currents. If their behaviour is in flux or markedly diverging from previous observations, we need to know about such changes in real time. We need answers for why 2023 turned out to be the warmest year in possibly the past 100,000 years. And we need them quickly.

I don't understand how teleconnections could cause an increase in global heat. Regional, sure. But the entire planet? How does that work?

Monday, April 08, 2024

The Solar Eclipse From Here #eclipse2024

We were slated to get a peak solar eclipse of 22.4% blockage. Instead we got this:

The nice thing about the 2017 total eclipse here in Oregon was that it happened in August, and in summer here pretty much every day has perfectly blue skies.

Hope the weather is better elsewhere in the path of totality (and outside it, too).

Sunday, April 07, 2024

Player's Respect for Injured Referee

There was a scary but touching moment in yesterday's Pittsburgh Penguins vs Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game. A referee and a Tamba Bay player collided head-on and blind, and both went down on the ice. The player, Haydn Fleury, stayed down for a while but got up and with assistance skated to the locker room entrance, holding a bloody towel. But the referee, Steve Kozari, stayed down and needed to be taken off on a backboard and stretcher.

The moment was also touching, because as he was being wheeled off the ice, the arena was silent and all players from both benches came onto the ice to look on and give him their respect. I've never seen such a thing in any sport, but I don't know a lot about hockey culture so perhaps this is a standard response. The only thing I can compare it to is lacrosse, where all the players on the field take a knee when a player from either side is down. At first I thought this let them take a rest, but my nephew, an all-conference defenseman, told me they do it out of respect.

The players come on the ice at about the 2:45 mark. Kozari is expected to make a full recovery.

Penguins won, 5-4, and are on an amazing comeback in their attempt to make the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Countries That Have Uncoupled CO2 Emissions and Economic Growth

They used to say this couldn't be done.

Though I would like to see the same numbers if you count production and service these countries have outsourced to other, less wealthy, more polluted countries, both in terms of CO2 emissions and economic productivity.