Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Time is somewhat relative, so it's time for the End Of Month Meme Dump.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


The Mayor of Pittsburgh certainly didn't agree with pulling away from the Paris climate accord. #45 is a complete buffoon and embarrassment, but he knows how to play the rubes.

Monday, May 29, 2017

CO2 capture

Science is about the only thing that will save us from ourselves.


First Commercial Carbon-Capture Plant Goes Online

The plant will collect 900 tons of carbon a year, piping it into a nearby greenhouse to boost vegetable growth

Yesterday, the Swiss company Climeworks switched on its first carbon capture plant—a machine designed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The company hopes to quickly scale up its technology and capture one percent of the global carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels by 2025, reports Bobby Magill for Climate Central.
The company estimates that the plant will remove some 900 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere every year—a tiny fraction of the 10 gigtons that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined must be drawn down each year to halt global warming, writes Tereza Pultarova for Live Science.
Located near the Swiss village of Hinwil on the roof of a garbage incinerator, the direct air capture technology uses a proprietary filter to absorb atmospheric CO2 as it passes through the plant, according to a press release. Once the filter is saturated, it is heated to 100 degrees Celsius, causing it to release the gas. The CO2 is then redirected to a greenhouse where it will help grow vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers. The carbon boost could improve the lettuce harvest by up to 20 percent, according to the company's website.
To achieve their goal of one percent, the company estimates they will need 250,000 plants the same size as the Hinwil unit, Magill reports.
Though the plant doesn’t result in net negative emissions, it is recycling the carbon dioxide for other uses, Magill writes. In order to actually achieve negative emissions the removed CO2 would have to be sequestered via capture in underground chambers or transformation into substances like rock.
In the future, the technology could also be used to capture and sequester carbon dioxide. But for now, the plant is giving CO2 emissions a function, rather than simply letting them go in the atmosphere. The company also sees potential in selling the captured CO2 to the beverage industry to carbonize drinks or producing a renewable hydrocarbon fuel.
“CO2 capture from air has been a very controversial topic in research for a long time,” Valentin Gutknecht, a business development manager at Climeworks tells Pultarova. “There was a belief that the cost can’t get down below $600 per ton of CO2 even at the mass scale. But we have managed to break this barrier.” As Magill reports, the company hopes to get the price down to about $400 per ton.
But the technology is controversial for more than its cost. Last year, leading climate scientists, including Glen Peters, published a paper in the journal Science arguing that the nascent technology directs focus away from reducing overall emissions. And it could cause complacency in some global leaders who believe that a future technological breakthrough could readily solve the climate crisis.
But Climeworks co-founder Christoph Gebald has no scruples about his project, he tells Magill. With effects due to climate change increasingly apparent, we need to use all tools possible to clean up global emissions.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Der Spiegel

The German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel recently published a rather scathing look at Donald Trump, after the disastrous meetings Trump had in Europe. Or as Trump and FOX News called it, "a home run." Pretty scary to see a whole TV network (Fox) bowing down to our "fearless leader". Fortunately, there is a lot of media that is having none of it.

It's Time to Get Rid of Donald Trump
Donald Trump has transformed the United States into a laughing stock and he is a danger to the world. He must be removed from the White House before things get even worse.

Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. He does not possess the requisite intellect and does not understand the significance of the office he holds nor the tasks associated with it. He doesn't read. He doesn't bother to peruse important files and intelligence reports and knows little about the issues that he has identified as his priorities. His decisions are capricious and they are delivered in the form of tyrannical decrees.

He is a man free of morals. As has been demonstrated hundreds of times, he is a liar, a racist and a cheat. I feel ashamed to use these words, as sharp and loud as they are. But if they apply to anyone, they apply to Trump. And one of the media's tasks is to continue telling things as they are: Trump has to be removed from the White House. Quickly. He is a danger to the world.
Trump is a miserable politician. He fired the FBI director simply because he could. James Comey had gotten under his skin with his investigation into Trump's confidants. Comey had also refused to swear loyalty and fealty to Trump and to abandon the investigation. He had to go.

Witnessing an American Tragedy
Trump is also a miserable boss. His people invent excuses for him and lie on his behalf because they have to, but then Trump wakes up and posts tweets that contradict what they have said. He doesn't care that his spokesman, his secretary of state and his national security adviser had just denied that the president had handed Russia (of all countries) sensitive intelligence gleaned from Israel (of all countries). Trump tweeted: Yes, yes, I did, because I can. I'm president after all.

Nothing is as it should be in this White House. Everyone working there has been compromised multiple times and now they all despise each other - and everyone except for Trump despises Trump. Because of all that, after just 120 days of the Trump administration, we are witness to an American tragedy for which there are five theoretical solutions.

The first is Trump's resignation, which won't happen. The second is that Republicans in the House and Senate support impeachment, which would be justified by the president's proven obstruction of justice, but won't happen because of the Republicans' thirst for power, which they won't willingly give up. The third possible solution is the invocation of the 25th Amendment, which would require the cabinet to declare Trump unfit to discharge the powers of the presidency. That isn't particularly likely either. Fourth: The Democrats get ready to fight and win back majorities in the House and Senate in midterm elections, which are 18 months away, before they then pursue option two, impeachment. Fifth: the international community wakes up and finds a way to circumvent the White House and free itself of its dependence on the U.S. Unlike the preceding four options, the fifth doesn't directly solve the Trump problem, but it is nevertheless necessary - and possible.

No Goals and No Strategy
Not quite two weeks ago, a number of experts and politicians focused on foreign policy met in Washington at the invitation of the Munich Security Conference. It wasn't difficult to sense the atmosphere of chaos and agony that has descended upon the city.

The U.S. elected a laughing stock to the presidency and has now made itself dependent on a joke of a man. The country is, as David Brooks wrote recently in the New York Times, dependent on a child. The Trump administration has no foreign policy because Trump has consistently promised American withdrawal while invoking America's strength. He has promised both no wars and more wars. He makes decisions according to his mood, with no strategic coherence or tactical logic. Moscow and Beijing are laughing at America. Elsewhere, people are worried.

In the Pacific, warships - American and Chinese - circle each other in close proximity. The conflict with North Korea is escalating. Who can be certain that Donald Trump won't risk nuclear war simply to save his own skin? Efforts to stop climate change are in trouble and many expect the U.S. to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because Trump is wary of legally binding measures. Crises, including those in Syria and Libya, are escalating, but no longer being discussed. And who should they be discussed with? Phone calls and emails to the U.S. State Department go unanswered. Nothing is regulated, nothing is stable and the trans-Atlantic relationship hardly exists anymore. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Norbert Röttgen fly back and forth, but Germany and the U.S. no longer understand each other. Hardly any real communication takes place, there are no joint foreign policy goals and there is no strategy.

In "Game of Thrones," the Mad King was murdered (and the child that later took his place was no better). In real life, an immature boy sits on the throne of the most important country in the world. He could, at any time, issue a catastrophic order that would immediately be carried out. That is why the parents cannot afford to take their eyes off him even for a second. They cannot succumb to exhaustion because he is so taxing. They ultimately have to send him to his room - and return power to the grownups.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Hillary at Wellesley

Hillary Clinton appeared at Wellesley College to deliver this year's commencement speech. It immediately prompted tons of derogatory remarks from the RWNJ's. I don't think I will ever understand the extreme hatred that the right has for Hillary, but I'm glad she's on my side, and I'm on her side. I do think, however, that she should not run for President again. She could serve in a future Cabinet, of course, but she's just too divisive a figure to run for office, which is a shame, because I think she would have made a great President, especially compared to Agent Orange.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

real fake news

The Borowitz Report is obviously "fake news". And so it should not be surprising that some people believe what he writes. Naturally. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What on Earth?

When my brain gets tired of politics, which happens a lot lately, I often turn to the Science Channel (or turn the TV off entirely).

What on Earth is a good series. They rely on satellite images to build a TV show. They will have a lot of material.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Mitch Landrieu

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu spoke recently at the ceremonial removal of four Confederate statues from New Orleans. Every racist should watch it.

Wonkette put up a good review of his speech.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

holy shit

While the popularity of the Bible continues to decline (and that is great news), over two-thirds still believe the Bible is "God-inspired". Wow. In 2017. That's depressing. Or, it's bullshit. Kinda hard to know in polls.

Biblical skeptics outpoll literalists for first time, survey shows

Americans who see the Bible as fable now outnumber those who believe it to be the literal word of God.
Gallup announced the shift in a survey it released Tuesday titled “Record Few Americans Believe Bible is Literal Word of God.”
“This is the first time in Gallup’s four-decade trend that biblical literalism has not surpassed biblical skepticism,” the organization said online.
The survey found that 24 percent of adult Americans hold a literalist view of the Bible, while 26 percent see Scripture as “a book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.”
However, 71 percent of Americans believe the Bible to be a sacred document that is “God-inspired if not God’s own’s words,” Gallup said.
Many who believe Scripture to be inspired by God say it need not be taken literally, Gallup reported in its Values and Beliefs poll, which was conducted May 3-7.
But there are groups in which these statistics do not hold true. Among non-white adults 50 and older and with no college education, the Bible is viewed as the true word of God.
However, among white adults aged 18 to 49, and who are college educated, tend to be more skeptical about Scripture.
“Still, in all of these age groups, the largest segment takes the middle position, believing the Bible reflects the inspired word of God,” according to the Gallup report. “
In its summary of the poll, Gallup noted that its findings reflect the downward trend in the number of Christians in the U.S. since the 1970s and 1980s. During that period, nearly 40 percent of Americans believed the Bible to be the literal word of God.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

hottest pepper

Jalapenos are hot enough for me!

from Thrillist


Meet dragon's breath. Its creator expects it to be crowned the world's hottest pepper. That's far hotter than the revered Carolina reaper, which is the current Guinness World Record-holder for hottest chili pepper. In fact, dragon's breath is so intense it could kill you, according to its St. Asaph-based developer Mike Smith. He says dragon's breath clocks in with a Scoville rating of 2.48 million. That's almost one million units higher than a Carolina reaper, which has an average of 1.57 million. (Tabasco sauce rates between 2,500 and 5,000 on the Scoville Scale.)

The Carolina reaper was already so spicy it reduced mortals to tears. Don't believe it? Ask this person or this couple or these people or these guys or these girls who looked like they were going to die. If dragon's breath truly has a Scoville rating of 2.48 million, it's basically not food. Aside from some idiot on YouTube who is definitely going to try it, there's really no reason to put this in your body.

However, calling it useless would be hyperbolic. The chili pepper wasn't developed to be eaten in some kind of sadistic horticultural prank. Dragon's breath was "born out of a trial of new plant food developed by Nottingham Trent University which aims to increase the quality and resistance of plants," according to the BBC. Smith says the intended usage will, in fact, be medical. Oils from the tiny pepper are so potent it can be used as an anesthetic. 

"This was developed because a lot of people are allergic to anesthetic, and this can be applied to the skin because it is so strong it numbs it," Smith told the Daily Post. He also notes it could be a cheap alternative to expensive anesthetics in developing countries.

No one has attempted to swallow the pepper yet, but someone took a bite without swallowing. Their mouth went numb for two days according to Smith. With a Scoville rating this high, it could cause a seriously upset stomach and make an alarming exitfrom your body. Though, Smith alleges the effects could be even worse than that. "We have had a caution from the University," Smith said. "It could cause anaphylactic shock in some people."

Smith is currently awaiting confirmation from Guinness that he's officially overtaken the reaper, according to the BBC.

Friday, May 19, 2017

hurricane season

As we approach June 1, the official start of the hurricane season in our part of the world, *gulp*.

NOAA predicts above normal hurricane season

GALVESTON – The nation's climate agency Thursday predicted an above-normal 2017 hurricane season with 11 to 17 named storms, five to nine of them hurricanes and two to four Category 3 or higher hurricanes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted a 45 percent chance of the hurricane season that begins June 1 being above normal, a 35 percent chance of a normal season and a 20 percent chance of a below normal season. An average season is 12 named storms, six hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

"The outlook reflects our expectation of a weak or non-existent El Nino, near- or above-average sea-surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and average or weaker-than-average vertical wind shear in that same region," said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

Bell said a strong El Nino causes more intense wind shear, which tends to break up tropical disturbances before they can grow into a hurricane. He cautioned that chances were 50-50 that a stronger El Nino could develop later in the hurricane season, which ends Nov.  30.

2017 names


Thursday, May 18, 2017

total embarrassment

#45 continues to embarrass himself and this nation just about whenever he opens his ugly mouth. What a horrid, crass, and uncouth ass this man is. Worse still is that so many Americans still support this jackass.

Somehow I had not heard of the last item in this clip, where #45 went to Yad Vashem.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Top 10 New Species?

Science marches on, regardless of the idiot in the White House.

Top 10 new species 2017

Thousands of new species are discovered each year. To celebrate the new finds, the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) compiles a top 10 new species list of notable discoveries made during the previous year.
The annual list is released around May 23 to honor of the birthday of Carl Linnaeus, the botanist and physician who developed our modern binomial classification system for naming organisms.
Here are the top 10 for 2017:
(In alphabetical order by scientific name)
“Sorting Hat” Spider (Eriovixia gryffindori). Location: India 
This tiny spider, less than 2 mm (a tenth of an inch) long, takes its name from the bewitched Sorting Hat in J.K. Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter books. Image via IISE.

Unexpected Katydid (Eulophophyllum kirki). Location: Malaysia
This spectacular new species of katydid was discovered while researchers were looking for tarantulas and snakes in Borneo. Image via IISE.

Omnivorous Root Rat (Gracilimus radix). Location: Indonesia
In what appears to be an evolutionary reversal, the newly discovered Sulawesi root rat dines on both plant and animal matter, making it unique among its strictly carnivorous relatives. Image via IISE.

414-legged Millipede (Illacme tobini). Location: United States
With 414 legs, this new species has not yet broken the record number for millepedes, but that could change. These animals continue to add body segments — and legs — throughout their lives. Image via IISE.

“Dragon” Ant (Pheidole drogon). Location: Papua New Guinea
With their spiny backs reminding scientists of a dragon, this new species of ant is named for Drogon, the fierce black dragon commanded by Daenerys Targaryen in the epic fantasy, Game of Thrones. Image via IISE.

Freshwater Stingray (Potamotrygon rex). Location: Brazil
This large, strikingly patterned freshwater stingray is endemic to the Tocantins River in Brazil. Image via IISE.

Swimming Centipede (Scolopendra cataracta). Location: Laos, Thailand and Vietnam
This new centipede is black, has 20 pairs of legs and is up to 20 cm long (about 8 inches). It is the first species of centipede ever observed to be able to plunge into water and run along the bottom in much the same manner as it does on dry land. Image via IISE.

Bush Tomato (Solanum ossicruentum). Location: Australia
The name of this new species was chosen with help from 150 seventh-grade life science students in Pennsylvania. Young fruits stain blood red when cut before maturing into a dry, bony state; therefore, the final choice combines the Latin “ossi” for bony and “cruentum” for bloody. Image via IISE.

Endangered Orchid (Telipogon diabolicus). Location: Colombia
The new species of critically endangered orchid, Telipogon diabolicus has a reproductive structure derived from the fusion of male and female flower parts into one that bears a striking resemblance to depictions of the devil’s head. Image via IISE.

“Churro” Marine Worm (Xenoturbella churro). Location: Mexico
Discovered deep in the Gulf of California, 1,722 meters (about 5,600 feet) below the surface, Xenoturbella churro is a 10 cm-long (4-inch) marine worm, one of half a dozen species now known in the genus. It is representative of a group of primitive worm-like animals that are the earliest branch in the family tree of bilaterally symmetrical animals, including insects and humans. Image via IISE.

Bottom line: The IISE has released the list of top 10 new species for 2017.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

slow TV

Out of Norway comes "Slow TV". It seems a natural reaction to our hyper-active, fast-cutting, zoom-in! zoom-out! high-speed TV culture. 

I think that a raging fireplace with dogs and/or cats playing in the foreground could be the smash hit of the new TV season!

Norway’s Slow TV Goes Global

One of the most curious things about watching TV in Norway is the popularity of ‘slow TV‘. The simple concept is the total opposite of the instant gratification style of reality TV. Producers pick a topic and spend hours, days, even weeks digging into it in excruciating detail.
State broadcaster pioneered the concept in 2009 with the live broadcast of the famous Oslo to Bergen railway journey, filmed from the perspective of the driver at the front of the train.
The famous 500km railway reaches over 1,200 metres above sea level as it crosses the Hardangervidda plateau in central Norway. When the scenic views were interrupted by the 182 tunnels on the line, the show broadcast interviews with passengers, former workers and historians.
It is estimated that at least 25% of Norwegians watched at least part of the broadcast!
Since then, shows have included the full length of the Hurtigruten coastal ferry journey, a knitting marathon, and an oddly compelling all-night bonfire.

Slow TV is coming to a TV set near you!

Those outside of Norway have struggled to access some of the biggest hits of slow TV, even though British Airways recently included the Oslo to Bergen railway journey on their long-haul flights. But now, the full range of Norway’s slow TV hits are available on Netflix in the United States, and several other countries.
The full list of available slow TV shows:
    • National Firewood Evening
  • National Firewood Morning
  • National Firewood Night
  • National Knitting Evening
  • National Knitting Morning
  • National Knitting Night
  • Northern Passage
  • Northern Railway
  • Salmon Fishing
  • The Telemark Canal
  • Train Ride Bergen to Oslo
I do hope you enjoy one of Norway’s cultural treasures! For those unable to access the shows at the moment, here’s a little teaser: