Monday, November 24, 2014

Infrastructure or the lack of same

Infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structure needed for the operation of a society or enterprise ,[1] or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function.[2] It can be generally defined as the set of interconnected structural elements that provide a framework supporting an entire structure of development. It is an important term for judging a country or region's development.

In other words, the mechanisms needed for a society to function, something that's falling apart in America as seen by an excellent piece in 60 Minutes and detailed analysis on the same topic presented by Infrastructure Report Card, an entity created by the ASCE, American Society of Civil Engineers.

Falling apart: America's neglected infrastructure

Ray LaHood: Our infrastructure is on life support right now. That's what we're on.

Few people are more aware of the situation than Ray LaHood, who was secretary of transportation during the first Obama administration, and before that a seven-term Republican congressman from Illinois. He is currently co-chairman of Building America's Future, a bipartisan coalition of current and former elected officials that is urgently pushing for more spending on infrastructure.

Steve Kroft: According to the government, there are 70,000 bridges that have been deemed structurally deficient.

Ray LaHood: Yep.

Steve Kroft: What does that mean?

Ray LaHood: It means that there are bridges that need to be really either replaced or repaired in a very dramatic way.

Steve Kroft: They're dangerous?

Ray LaHood: I don't want to say they're unsafe. But they're dangerous. I would agree with that.

and...The Report Card

Any questions?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The problem with blobs

Blobfish live deep in the ocean, where pressures are exceedingly high. In fact, the blobfish's gelatinous appearance is actually a brilliant adaptation — its gooey, pudding-like flesh allows it to stay buoyant at depths where gaseous bladders can't function.

When looking at this little guy, I thought about another kind of blob, the digital kind, aka Binary Large Object, a close source bag of code that cannot be easily accessed as the contents of same remain unstructured and unknown, something exceedingly difficult to retrieve unless the creators of such code uses specific drivers to access said content to service their clients in meaningful fashion. AI is also used for blob drill downs as well, particularly in all things related to trolling the net for tidbits of interesting data. :)

The reason why this topic is being addressed is that unstructured data causes enormous financial and operational problems in healthcare as HC is largely controlled by closed, proprietary systems using blobs as a primary mechanism to service some of the largest medical facilities in the world, something to consider when asking for your medical records, that you already paid for, when you REALLY need them, particularly in an emergency situation, where real time access to these files means life or death, something that kills approximately 250,000 of us (Journal of Patient Safety) due, in large part, to the existence of BLOBs that, in effect, prevents our ability to get our patient records, free of charge, in real time, using any hardware equipped with web browser software and connectivity to the net.

The new study reveals that each year preventable adverse events (PAEs) lead to the death of 210,000-400,000 patients who seek care at a hospital. Those figures would make medical errors the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics.

End of rant but couldn't resist showing how much the "distinguished" Mr. W. C. Fields resembles the denizen of the deep as seen by W. C. using guile and deceit to win, in illicit fashion, while playing the wonderful game known as poker. :)

Monday, November 03, 2014

The Arms Race

Since the beginning of time, Nature's version of the neverending arm race has been employed by an astonishingly wide variety of organisms in order to continue their existence on planet earth. Prominent in this unceasing quest for dominance in all things related to sex, food and habitat, is the dung beetle, an industrious insect whose species include males equipped with bodacious armaments, similar, in indirect fashion, to what the military has in the good old USA. :)

Much as in geopolitics, animal arms races rack up staggering costs. For example, these beetles’ horns can make up 30 percent of a male’s total weight, and because nutrients are redirected to horn growth, males often have stunted eye and reproductive-organ growth. Soon horns become so pricey only a select few can afford them, and once this happens, the sole option left for the rest of the males is to cheat. And so nearly every heavily armed species has small males who break the rules.

Not all O. nigriventris males have horns. Those that don’t grow past a certain size — because they were born smaller or were malnourished — never hit the genetic trigger that leads to horn growth, forcing them to circumvent the whole system of duels in order to breed. Instead of dueling (and losing), small O. nigriventris males dig their own tunnels, bypassing the guarding males in order to mate with the female, and slip back out again undetected. They waste no resources on weapon development at all, leaving them nimbler and even more virile — instead of growing horns, they grow big testes that produce extra sperm. They may not mate with as many females as the larger males of their species, but they make the most of every opportunity.

Over time, this end run around the logic of the arms race can completely upend it, pushing the armed animals out of the gene pool. Overburdened and outmatched, animals with weapons eventually die off. Biologists were baffled when they first encountered this trend — it seemed to fly in the face of sexual-selection theory, which is the notion that the best-armed males will be the most genetically prolific. But much as duels necessarily create arms races, arms races necessarily create cheaters — and cheaters can win, bringing an end to the race.

Sounds like a plan to me.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

What part of No don't you understand?

BRT has talked ad nauseum about climate change and the catastrophic impact said change will have upon the world even though a sizable minority of humanity continue to deny the fact global warming is real in spite of overwhelming evidence that has proven this finding to be true. Seems the UN agrees with BRT without question as their latest report no longer uses diplomatic phrases to elegantly describe what is happening to our planet as it slowly begins to cook thanks to fossil fuel production that never seems to ebb no matter the cost to civilization.

If governments are to meet their own stated goal of limiting the warming of the planet to no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius, above the preindustrial level, they must restrict emissions from additional fossil-fuel burning to about 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide, the panel said. At current growth rates, that budget is likely to be exhausted in something like 30 years, possibly less.

Yet energy companies have booked coal and petroleum reserves equal to several times that amount, and they are spending some $600 billion a year to find more. Utilities and oil companies continue to build coal-fired power plants and refineries, and governments are spending another $600 billion or so directly subsidizing the consumption of fossil fuels.

In the United States, federal investments in energy research have never come close to those in areas that are high priorities. Military research is greater than that in all these areas combined.Panel’s Latest Warming Warning Misses Global Slumber Party on Energy ResearchNOV. 2, 2014

By contrast, the report found, less than $400 billion a year is being spent around the world to reduce emissions or otherwise cope with climate change. That is a small fraction of the revenue spent on fossil fuels — it is less, for example, than the revenue of a single American oil company, ExxonMobil.

Interstellar anyone?

Click here to get the 5th Synthesis Report on Climate Change 2014.
Needless to say, it will not warm the cockles of one's heart.

Addendum. Dot Earth, the NY Times Environmental OP Ed Blog, has a nice piece on the lack of commitment the world has on Energy Research. It too will not warm the cockles of one's heart either.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Teddy Bear's Gone Viral

Every once in a while, yours truly gloms onto something funny and cute. In this instance,
it's Teddy Bear, a true afinciando of pumpkin. Enjoy. :)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The First Law of Holes

is a wonderful quote that explains, in indirect fashion, how the war machine became America and why America continues to violate the first law of holes. 

To whit:

Click Blowback to read BRT's take on this most interesting topic.

Click War is a Racket to read Smedley Butler's antiwar classic, an incendiary piece showing why William Rivers Pitt's article rings true. Factoid: Butler is the only two time Congressional Medal of Honer recipient.

As an aside, read Nature abhors a vacuum to see a first hand example of why the First Law of Holes apples, in this case, to US foreign policy.

Addendum: Ask Any Price continues the violation of the first law to the max.

Any questions?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall 2014

Fall never disappoints. :)

Belief/Doubt & Then Some

This is a pix yours truly took @ the Hirshhorn in DC depicting, in interesting fashion, the tumultuous relationship humanity has with reality, something we all share as living entities on a tiny planet called earth. :)

Ebola is brilliant

This is a truly excellent article about Ebola written by Abby Norman, a FEMA-trained in level 3 hazmat in a hospital setting.

To whit:

Ebola is brilliant.

It is a superior virus that has evolved and fine-tuned its mechanism of transmission to be near-perfect. That's why we're all so terrified. We know we can't destroy it. All we can do is try to divert it, outrun it. 

PPE, or, personal protective equipment, is sort of a catch-all phrase for the suits, booties, gloves, hoods and in many cases respirators worn by individuals who are entering a hot zone. These suits are incredibly difficult to move in. You are wearing several layers of gloves, which limits your dexterity to basically nil, the hoods limit the scope of your vision -- especially your peripheral vision, which all but disappears. The suits are hot -- almost unbearably so. The respirator gives you clean air, but not cool air. These suits are for protection, not comfort. Before you even suit up, your vitals need to be taken. You can't perform in the suit for more than about a half hour at a time -- if you make it that long. Heat stroke is almost a given at that point. You have to be fully hydrated and calm before you even step into the suit. By the time you come out of it, and your vitals are taken again, you're likely to be feeling the impact -- you may not have taken more than a few steps in the suit, but you'll feel like you've run a marathon on a 90-degree day. 

The other consideration is this: The "doffing" procedure, that is, the removal of PPE, is the most crucial part. It is also the point at which the majority of mistakes are made, and my guess is that this is what happened in Dallas.

The PPE, if worn correctly, does an excellent job of protecting you while you are wearing it. But eventually you'll need to take it off. Before you begin, you need to decon the outside of the PPE. That's the first thing. This is often done in the field with hoses or mobile showers/tents. Once this crucial step has occurred, the removal of PPE needs to be done in pairs. You cannot safely remove it by yourself. One reason you are wearing several sets of gloves is so that you have sterile gloves beneath your exterior gloves that will help you to get out of your suit. The procedure for this is taught in FEMA courses, and you run drills with a buddy over and over again until you get it right. You remove the tape and discard it. You throw it away from you. You step out of your boots  --  careful not to let your body touch the sides. Your partner helps you to slither out of the suit, again, not touching the outside of it. This is difficult, and it cannot be rushed. The respirators need to be deconned, batteries changed, filters changed. The hoods, once deconnned, need to be stored properly. If the suits are disposable, they need to be disposed of properly. If not, they need to be thoroughly deconned and stored safely. And they always need to be checked for rips, tears, holes, punctures or any other even tiny, practically invisible openings that could make the suit vulnerable. 

Can anyone tell me if this happened in Dallas?

Any questions?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Question - Why was a healthcare professional allowed to fly to Cleveland after being in direct contact with an Ebola patient or better yet, why did said professional decide to fly while possibly being symptomatic with said disease without considering the consequences?!!... Which constitute two "rather" questionable actions on the part of both parties that contribute to the quiet unease of yours truly while watching the CDC continue to stumble while trying to reign in this disease from hell before it's too late. Factoid, read Randomly Scary Stuff to see just how scary Ebola truly is.

As an aside, the excellent Frontline piece, The Trouble with Antibiotics comes to mind when reading about Ebola as this program, in indirect and powerful fashion, shows why this situation is serious to the max.

Read the Washington Post piece to get more info on this most interesting of news tidbit.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Oil Weapon

Most intelligent people know that the Great Game is all about oil, the horrific incursion of ISIS notwithstanding, because in the end, it's all about oil and having access to it in order for the world's fossil fuel addiction to continue without interruption, something the Saudi's are all too eager to supply, providing it hurts Putin and limits Iran's push to becoming the hegemon of the middle east. Seen above is the breakeven oil price chart, courtesy Zero Hedge & the WS Journal, whereby an interesting tail can now be told. 

Somehow I don't think that's going to happen. Also, this brings up the question of the viability of "unlimited" fracking and oil sand supplies in the US because if our reserves are so large, why is this action needed? Food for thought if you ask me.

On a Brighter Note :)

Smartphone picture quality simply astounds yours truly as these untouched "gems" were snaps taken on the fly in NYC & DC. Unreal kinda says it all. Enjoy. :)