This has not been a particularly noteworthy hurricane season so far in that it is now July and we are only having our first actual hurricane. On the other hand, we are already up to the Es, with Elsa.
Elsa has just strengthened to a lower level hurricane, and will now head through the space between Haiti and Jamaica, aiming directly at Cuba where it will likely downgrade to a tropical storm because hitting Cuba head on tends to do that. This storm is currently projected to remain a storm while it scrapes the west coast of Florida or perhaps spreads across the mainland in that state. Way too early to say now.
There are projections that have Elsa go over the Gulf far enough west of the Florida peninsula that maybe it would gain strength and become a more sever storm, but most likely Elsa will do most of its damage in Cuba.
It starts. Ana has formed, is very far north, not going to be a hurricane, and will veer within about two days to the northeast and be engulfed by a front. Ana is considered a sub-tropical storm. Ana is, however, important because it is early. Normally they start watching for hurricanes on June 1st and then the first one takes a while.
In the past an unnamed 1938 hurricane of note appeared on January 3, and a subtropical storm appeared in January 18th in 1978. Technically the NHC counts these as early, but I personally think they might be late from the previous season.
Another 8 storms appeared early prior to the present. In reverse rank order:
Every thing, be it a tall skyscraper, a lofty mountain, or a mere mole hill, has a single destiny: To become flat, to fall, wear or settle down into flatness. This is the way of the world because the world warps the spacetime in which those things stand in a way that pulls the atoms they are made of towards the center of the planet. That this is true is evidenced by the fact that the largest region of the Earth that is made of molecules that are not well attached to each other is basically flat. (The oceans and seas.) Even the harder stuff such as rock and dirt is mostly flat around the earth. Be impressed with the jagged and broad Front Range of the majestic Rocky Mountains, but after you are done looking at them turn around and behold the essential flatness of the Plains and Midwest. Most of Asia is pretty flat as is most of Africa. The biggest thing going in South America is the Amazon Basin. Again, flat. Obviously, “flat” is a somewhat subjective term, but we can truly and scientifically divide the surface of the land of the Earth into regions of mountain building and regions of continuous, relentless, enflattening. The only reason that everything isn’t more flat is because, even though the destiny of all the atoms is to be part of one great flatness is real, there are also other effects.
If two continents run into each other, you get mountains. If a big bank provides the financing and a corporation has the will, you get a sky scraper. If a department of transportation gets the funding, and there is a river, there will be a bridge somewhere. These short term effects upon the earth create the bumps and high spots. Temporarily.
So yes, a bridge or a building falls down because of gravity, and now you are annoyed at me because I just spent 389 words stating the obvious. But wait, there’s more.
I state the obvious here not because you need to be reminded of this great truth (though we can all use that reminder now and then), but because the reality of gravity generates a bureaucratic situation that is the more proximal reason for the collapse of a condo.
Everything is broken. Some things are only barely broken, possibly invisibly broken, so maybe not technically broken by some mundane human standard, but at the molecular level, there is an atom here or there out of place (a flaw) or a vulnerability that is more of a broken design element than an actual break. Things like buildings and bridges, and a wide range of important machines, are regularly inspected to find these broken elements, in order that failure does not happen unexpectedly. But since everything is broke at some level, the bridge or building or machine is not discarded or rebuilt every time a problem is found. Rather, there is a threshold of how many breaks, or how bad the breaks are, beyond which we try to not let the brokenness pass.
But the ideal threshold is not known, merely estimated. And, there is a more conservative and a less conservative approach. Then there are errors and flaws in the system of looking for and keeping tracks of the breaks. There are corporate, institutional, and political pressures to not acknowledge that there is a problem. Sometimes that gets to the point of an enigmatic fedora wearing dog having a cup of coffee in a flaming restaurant.
And then the condo collapses, or the bridge falls down, and there is a … well, reassessment.
It happens in stages. First you build all the bridges such as the numerous bridges built across rivers and streams as part of the US Federal Interstate projects of the 1950s. Inspections happen, but the threshold is not sufficiently conservative, or the methods of inspection are not as good as they could be, or maybe there are pressures to ignore the data or move the threshold. Then the Schoharie Bridge collapses. From Wikipedia:
The Schoharie Creek Bridge was a New York State Thruway bridge over the Schoharie Creek near Fort Hunter and the Mohawk River in New York State. On April 5, 1987 it collapsed due to bridge scour at the foundations after a record rainfall. The collapse killed ten people. The replacement bridge was completed and fully open to traffic on May 21, 1988. The failure of the Schoharie Creek Bridge motivated improvement in bridge design and inspection procedures within New York and beyond.
That entry is a little misleading, suggesting that an unusual flood did something unusual to the bridge. Yes, it was a record flood, but records for that stream post date the building of a major reservoir upstream. The previous record was only from 1955, and most years the highest floods were nearly this high. In other words, no one was that surprised about the water level coming off the dam of the big reservoir, and no one was surprised about the big rainfall that happened downstream from the dam and upstream from the bridge. It was the fact that they happened over the same few days that rose the level to a record high, but not an outlandish record high. The bridge was built broken, in the sense that it was vulnerable to scouring. Today, interstate bridges are built with better foundations so this happens less, and they are inspected more.
But here’s the thing: As noted, this led to better design and inspection. But it also led to a lot of bridges being repaired all of the sudden.
I have not found a study that links major news-worthy failure to policy changes. But I can tell you that in the decade after 1987, there was a huge push to rebuild and update bridges to the degree that for a few years, I made a living on it, since most bridges in New York and New England pass by historic homes, old mills, or threaten Native American sites, as a function of how rivers, streams, roads, paths, hydrology, and settlement patterns work. I’m pretty sure similar things happened after the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis a few years ago. And now, condos.
I think it works like this. At any moment in time there are identified problems with all the buildings or bridges of a certain class. By class I mean “Condos on barrier islands in Florida” or “Interstate bridges” and so on. The number of problems increases over time, but of course, many of those problems are dealt with as they are found, or at least, eventually. But the number of outstanding problems tends to increase because absent outside forces, the institutional, economic, and political forces that tend to lead to problems not being addressed tend to work a little at a time to enhance complacency, and sometimes, just plain corruption or stupidity.
While this is happening the public perception is essentially null. It isn’t on anyone’s radar screen. Even if you know about this or that problem, regular members of the public are not tuned in to a steadily ageing infrastructure that is associated with a steadily growing set of problems. Expensive problems. Annoying and time consuming problems. Problems that are easy to ignore, and really, not even know about to begin with. So, we are dogs with fedoras sipping coffee in a burning building. Everything is fine.
But then the condo collapses, or the bridge falls into the ravine. The public is astounded, shocked, made fearful, angry, and demands action, but generally, remains focused on that one event, that one structure, that one failure. Then, that is over and everyone forgets, and never really knew that there were a dozen condos or bridges at that level of broken, but only one failed because failures tend to come one at a time. The public is also mostly unaware (though certainly not everyone) of a response by the powers that be, the inspecting agencies and so on, that involves the sudden increase in inspection rate, the betterment of standards, and ultimately the application of jackhammers and pouring of concrete and leveling of footings and so on. The number of inspection issues suddenly drops to an acceptable level (but they are of course still there, again, unperceived by the public) and start to build again.
The improvements in engineering, materials, and inspection procedures hopefully lasts longer than public concern. The industry behind the infrastructure improves. But the social and political infrastructure seems to not improve much, or does so only temporarily. I put this pattern in a chart:
I am a little disappointed in Neil deGrasse Tyson. He has long pointed out the very correct truth that many astronomers, including professionals and avocational astronomers, have spent a lot of time looking at the sky, and have failed to find Aliens flying about. This suggests that there are not aliens flying about. Recently he added to this the observation that the UFOs recently discussed in the media and subjected to a certain amount of government scrutiny seem only to be seen by Navy pilots in remote areas, which leaves him with no interest in making them a subject of research. I agree with his observation, but in fact, his statement about UFOs can be easily reformulated as a hypothesis that fits nicely with his own area of expertise as an actual scientist (as opposed to the part of his professional activates that are more about science outreach and education).
I am a little disappointed with Ari Melber, though his transgression is forgivable since he is a law expert and not a UFO expert. He makes the same mistake as NdGT when he distills the range of possible explanations for UFOs to three possibilities, apparently presented as exhaustive: 1) they are natural phenomena (but not natural Aliens); 2) they are associated with secret non-Alien technology of some kind; and 3) Aliens.
Obviously there is another explanation that is not quite “natural phenomenon” because that usually means swamp gasses or lights formed by some geological process: they are an artifact of the mode of observation. A smudge on the windshield or lens, as it were, but presumably a somewhat enigmatic or at lest inobvious smudge.
(I’m leaving aside the explanation that they are a hoax perpetuated by a number of loosely connected Navy pilots, on the assumption that the recent Government Report would have ruled that out.)
Many of these things — some of the most important recent examples of these things — are seen with some sort of seeing technology, and the light energy that this technology collects is then processed by some more technology. I can not offer a detailed idea of how these technologies would produce a smudge on the lens of some sort, and this is not the appropriate time to do so. But I am suggesting that the technology produces an artifact that we mistake for a UFO. I would guess that the Government Report, which I admittedly have not read, has not addressed this issue, or some reporter or another would have mentioned it by now. Assuming they read the Government Report.
Here is what I would do. I’d catalog the optical or energy grabbing equipment (the “eyes,” which may be as simple as the window of a jet or the lens of a sighting device) of military vehicles (mainly jets?) into meaningful categories, and I’d catalog the processing machines (the technology that makes the HUDs of the aircraft work etc) into meaningful categories, and see if there is a subset of these devices, by specific technology, manufacturer, or whatever, that is producing the UFO signals, as opposed to others that do not.
That won’t provide an answer to what these UFOs are, but it would generate thought that might lead to this. I said this was a hypothesis, and I do not use that term lightly. My null hypothesis is that the observations are distributed randomly among the various visualization technologies used by all aircraft. If that is falsified because a biased subset of the technology produces UFOs, then the next step of research is warranted.
And this might interest Neil deGrasse Tyson, since his own early PhD (and other) research, which looked at solar flares and magnetics, required a deep and detailed understanding of machines that see things, other than the human eye. This should be something he would find interesting.
Unless, of course, he has made some deal with the Aliens to through us all off the scent…
I’m starting a collection of faces of elected officials, spokespeople, TV talking heads, reporters, etc. going “WTF????” or “did that person just say that thing” or similar, with their faces. Feel free to add your own. These are looks when an insane statement is being made by a colleague or by a guest on a show, or when some totally crazy ass thing like a Q-Anon conspiracy or something a member of the Party of Hypocrisy or their leader Criminal Trump is saying or doing. Sometimes it is about climate change, sometimes about voting, often there is a strong element of racism. These faces are the reactions to the beyond belief over the time crap that has invaded our public conversations and our news cycles.
I have a version of the bluetooth COWIN E7 PRO Active Noise Cancelling Headphones. They work great as headphones, and the noise cancelling ability is impressive.* Other than moving to a different part of the planet, this may be your best option.
I mention these things in answer to a recent question, “what if Trump runs again.” The actual question is, “Can you run for President if you are in prioson?” I’m not really sure what the answer to the question is. Every few days, or at least, every week or so, another penny drops, or perhaps, another straw is added to the back, of the camel, as we march steadily if overly metaphorically towards the day Trump is indicted. There is plenty of time for cases to be built, trials to be held, sentencing to be handed out. He will be in a prison cell before the Republican National Convention. That will either be the end of Trump as a politician, or if the Republican Party actually nominates him as their Presidential Candidate while he is serving a number of years in the stir, it will be the end of said party. Or, if he is nominated, and wins, it will be the end of the subject of that famous quip by Ben Franklin.
Joel Greenberg has plead (or, perhaps, pleaded) guilty of sex trafficking of a minor. Joel is Congressperson Matt Gaetz (Republican, as if you needed to be told that) who is said to be implicated in such sex trafficking as well.
A plea like this sometimes comes a part of a deal to turn on a bigger fish. Such as a member of Congress. Congressperson Gaetz is said to be under investiation as to whether he violated lays by having sex with the aforementioned sex trafficked minor. According to the New York Times,
Mr. Greenberg did not implicate Mr. Gaetz by name in court papers filed by prosecutors in Federal District Court in Orlando. But Mr. Greenberg admitted that he “introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts” with her, according to the documents, and that he was sometimes present. The others were not named.
Jut in on Twitter (hat tip Kyle Griffin): “A banner plane has been flying over the courthouse in Florida with a sign that reads, ‘Tick Tock Matt Gaetz’.”
Mr. Greenberg, who has been meeting with prosecutors for at least five months, has told investigators that Mr. Gaetz had sex with the girl and knew that she was being paid, according to a person briefed on the inquiry.
Mr. Gaetz has repeatedly denied any … [bla bla bla]
Federal officials raided the home and office of Trump’s lawyer, Rudolf Giuliani, a few weeks ago. Today, there is some court action on this case. We hear that Giuliani is begging for money and other help from Trump. If Trump helps Giuliani, it would be the first known instance of Trump helping someone. If Giuliani is in big trouble, which may well be the case, and Trump refuses to help him which may well be the case, the Giuliani, a man very experienced at the art of the deal where the deal is with a Federal prosecutor, may well be the case that Giuliani “flips.” Not talking about pancakes.
Meanwhile, the United States House of Representatives is about to consider (and vote on?) starting an investigation of the Big Lie Insurrection of 1/6.
The “Lost 11” were part of a segregated artillery unit, all African Americans, that became trapped behind German lines in a part of Belgium that was long part of Germany, and in which many strong sympathizers of Germany and the Nazi regime lived. So, naturally, they were turned over to the Schutzstaffel (the SS), tortured, disfigured, and murdered.
My point here is not to be morbid, but to suggest a touchstone to the history of both racism and white supremacy with direct connections to the present. How many times do we say “our parents/grandparents fought to end facism in Europe so therefore Trump is a ninny” or words to that effect? It is a common memish trope of the day. Its repetition almost makes is ahistorical and trite. Well, let’s un-trite that idea for a moment.
The bloody and torturous massacre of these black men was a nexus for centuries of racism that denigrated and murdered Native Americans in the Spanish colonies, produced the Inquisition, the increasingly strident isolation and repression of Jews from the Atlantic to the Urals, colonialism everywhere, and the ultimate rise of highly organized white supremacy in the form of a Nazi nation with laws and practices intent on wiping out, killing, or enslaving all bipoc people. All bipoc people. If we asked, at the moment these SS troops, informed of the black soldiers’ whereabouts in the home of Mathias Langer, and were closing in on that home, what was to happen next, there would be no uncertainty. The German sympathizers and the Nazi soldiers were true to form. All white supremacists and fascists will be true to form unless they are stopped. That is the lesson of this history.
We should probably not allow the racing of 2 year old horses (though see comments below). I think this is only done in the US and a couple of other countries. It is not allowed elsewhere.
We may need to admit that horse-racing has become corrupt. Well, certain areas of horse racing were always corrupt. Don’t ask me how I know, but I think the statute of limitations is up on that anyway.
And now, Cancel Culture is ruining everything!
Maybe we should cancel the Kentucky Derby as it exists today. Shut it down, tweak the rules, clean the process up, and restart in a few years. Maybe be nicer to the horses.
The Republicans have embraced full on corruption for the purpose of carrying out their racist agenda. They are not even being pro-petroleum or the suck-asses of big corporations anymore. It is all racism, all hate, all red-eyed, red-hat evil.
Electric cars will be cheaper to produce than internal combustion engine cars by 2027, according to a study commissioned by Transport & Environment in Brussels. Electric car sales have been booming in Europe. Meanwhile, in North America, Uper and Lyft are acting like electric cars are a futuristic idea that may or may not work out, and lag terribly in their adoption of the only possible future technology. Part of the rising interest in electric cars is the realistic prospect of batteries that will have much longer range, use fewer nasty chemicals, and be cheaper. Buy an electric car with a 300 mile range now, after a quarter million nearly maintenance free miles, you’ll replace the batteries and upgrade your range to 500 miles, perhaps. Why would you not do that?
Electric car hate is a cultural phenomenon restricted to only certain geography and certain subgroups. Mainly, American Republicans. Especially Rural American Republicans, who do actually have a point that their vastly spread out sparsely populated regions are not quite eV ready. But they will be, and there is no reason for them to ruin it for everyone else, other than their own desire to be known as royal pains in the ass. (Not sure how one pluralized that.)
For example, in Minnesota, the adoption of a clean car rule, which would enhance access to more choice at the dealer for electric car buyers, was vehemently opposed by people falsely claiming that more eV cars on the lots would raise ICE car prices (not true, not true) or, in one case, more electric cars would cause the starvation and possible death of their children (not true, not true). Minnesota had to fight hard to get that rule instated by an administrative law judge, but it got approved, so Governor Walz can now move forward with this very important thing despite opposition from state Republicans, who seem to have only one purpose in life: to make Liberals cry.
Meanwhile, even as opposition to electric buses comes from climate deniers and pro-bio-fuel advocates alike, Lion Electric of Canada plans to build an electric bus plant in Illinois. Labor unions take note: It will create 750 actual jobs that won’t go away when we turn the petroleum spigot off. Please try to act like you care, because you should care or you should get out of the way.
The “Third Pole” of the Earth, the high mountain ranges of Asia, bears the largest number of glaciers outside the polar regions. A Sino-Swiss research team has revealed the dramatic increase in flood risk that could occur across Earth’s icy Third Pole in response to ongoing climate change. Focusing on the threat from new lakes forming in front of rapidly retreating glaciers, a team, led by researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, demonstrated that the related flood risk to communities and their infrastructure could almost triple. Important new hotspots of risk will emerge, including within politically sensitive transboundary regions of the Himalaya and Pamir. With significant increases in risk already anticipated over the next three decades, the results of the study, published in Nature Climate Change, underline the urgent need for forward-looking, collaborative, long-term approaches to mitigate future impacts in the region.
The Hindu Kush-Himalaya, Tibetan Plateau and surrounding mountain ranges are widely known as the Third Pole of the Earth. Due to global warming, the widespread and accelerated melting of glaciers over most of the region has been associated with the rapid expansion and formation of new glacial lakes. When water is suddenly released from these lakes through failure or overtopping of the dam, glacial lake outburst floods can devastate lives and livelihoods up to hundreds of kilometres downstream, extending across international borders to create transboundary risks. Despite the severe threat that these extreme events pose for sustainable mountain development across the Third Pole, there has been a lack of understanding regarding where and when related risks would evolve in the future.
Swiss and Chinese climatologists used satellite imagery and topographic modelling to establish the risk associated with 7,000 glacial lakes presently located across the Third Pole. This approach allowed us to accurately classify 96% of glacial lakes known to have produced floods in the past as high or very high risk. “We then compared our results with a catalogue of past glacial lake floods, which allowed us to validate our approaches”, explains Simon Allen, researcher at the Institute of Environmental Sciences of the UNIGE and co-director of the study. “Once we confirmed that the approaches accurately identified current dangerous lakes, we could then apply these methods to future scenarios.” Overall, the study revealed that one in six (1,203) of current glacial lakes posed a high to very high risk to downstream communities, most notably in the eastern and central Himalayan regions of China, India, Nepal, and Bhutan.
New threats in new places
Looking to the future, glacial retreat, lake formation and associated flood risk were considered under three different CO2 emission scenarios. Under the highest emission scenario (sometimes referred to as the “business-as-usual” scenario), the study shows that much of the Third Pole could already be approaching a state of peak risk by the end of the 21st century, or even mid-century in some regions. In addition to the larger potential flood volumes resulting from the expansion of more than 13,000 lakes, over time the lakes will grow closer towards steep unstable mountain slopes that can crash into the lakes and provoke small tsunamis. “The speed at which some of these new hazardous situations are developing surprised us”, says Markus Stoffel, Professor at the Institute for Environmental Sciences of the UNIGE. “We are talking a few decades not centuries – these are timeframes that demand the attention of authorities and decision-makers.”
If global warming continues on its current path, the number of lakes classified as high or very high risk increases from 1,203 to 2,963, with new hotspots of risk emerging in the Western Himalaya, Karakorum and into Central Asia. “These regions have experienced glacial lake outburst floods before, but these events have tended to be repetitive and linked to advancing glaciers. Authorities and communities will be less familiar with the types of spontaneous events we consider here in a deglaciating landscape, so this calls for awareness raising and education on the new challenges that will emerge”, adds Stoffel.
Complex political challenges
The mountain ranges of the Third Pole span eleven nations, giving rise to potential transboundary natural disasters. Findings of the study show that the number of future potential transboundary glacial flood sources could roughly double (an additional 464 lakes), with 211 of these lakes classified in the highest risk categories. The border region of China and Nepal will remain a major hotspot (42% of all future transboundary lake sources), while the Pamir mountains between Tajikistan and Afghanistan emerge as a major new transboundary hotspot (currently 5% of transboundary lake sources increasing to 36% in the future). “Transboundary regions are of particular concern to us”, says Allen. “Political tensions and lack of trust can be a real barrier that prevent timely data sharing, communication and coordination needed for effective early warning and disaster mitigation.”
Researchers stress the importance of exploring disaster risk management strategies to reduce the exposure of people and property and minimise the vulnerability of society. “The findings of this research should motivate relevant nations and the international research communities to urgently work together to prevent future glacial flood disasters in the Third Pole region”, concludes Stoffel.
South Carolina is worried about obtaining chemicals to use to kill people, so they are now adding the firing squad to their toolkit.
A Georgia cop who recently killed a black man in a Wendy’s parking lot has been restated to his job. Why? Because he was fired the day after the shooting, which is not proper due process. Everybody should get due process, even this cop. Not providing due process for him led to him getting re-hired. That was a noob move and should not have happened.
The state senate in Texas has passed a bill that essentially removes requirements for owning a gun.
I noticed news reports that Space X has landed a rocket ship “and it didn’t explode!” I don’t remember news reports about the Space Shuttle that said “Space shuttle lands and it didn’t crash!” even though it actually did that once (crashed into the atmosphere). Is this a new way or reporting or is this a new way of thinking about space technology and risk?
One of four young men, white, early 20s, living in conservative areas of Minnesota, has been sentenced (the others have been or will be) for burning down a police department in Minneapolis during the uprising following the death of George Floyd. They were Bugaloo Boys. Even today, in the mighty white suburbs and elsewhere, “rioters” who were said to be protesting the death of Floyd are accused of burning down the police station. They did not do that. White supremacists from out-state Minnesota came into town and did that. Not remembered by most, other white supremacists intent on starting a race war came to town to cause trouble during protests related to an earlier killing, of Jamar Clark, in 2015. They hung around the demonstration for a couple of days wearing masks (including Guy Fawkes masks), and then one of them emptied a handgun into the crowd of peaceful protesters. No one was killed but there were injuries.
This is a little strange: a trucker was being inspected by troopers near Rochester MN the other day (routine) and the driver took out a gun and shot himself in the head. Twice.
Bill and Melinda Gates are getting a divorce, but Bill has asked for privacy so we won’t talk about that.
Mothers day thought 1: Why is it that in most movies or other stories, the mother is either fierce or dead?
Mothers day thought 2: Please remember that not everyone loves mothers day. For many, it is a trigger.
I predict we will start seeing days, in individual US states (lower population ones first?) of zero PCR confirmed Covid-19 cases some time next month, certainly in July.