Words cannot describe...
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Anomalies, anomalies, the more the merrier as they are prime drivers in showing that GW's alive and well, particularly when considering just how hot the world's going to get, thanks to a monster Kelvin Wave coming our way this summer, AKA El Nino.
(Kevin Wave continues to strengthen and propagate across the Pacific Ocean. Image source: NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.)
Record global temperatures, extraordinarily severe storms for the US West Coast and telegraphing on through the Central and Eastern US, a disruption of the Asian Monsoon and various regional growing seasons, record heat and drought in Northern Australia, severe drought and fires in the Amazon, the same throughout Eurasia and into the Siberian Arctic, another potential blow to Arctic sea ice. These and further extreme impacts are what could unfold if the extraordinarily powerful Kelvin Wave now racing toward the Pacific Ocean surface continues to disgorge its heat.
The most recent update from NOAA shows that the monster Kelvin Wave we reported on last week has continued to grow and intensify even as it shows no sign of slowing its rather ominous emergence from waters off the west coast of South America.
The pool of 4-6+ degree Celsius above average temperatures continues to widen and lengthen, now covering 85 degrees of longitude from 170 East to 105 West. Perhaps more disturbing is the fact that the zone of extreme 6+ C temperature anomalies has both widened and extended, covering about 50 degrees of longitude and swelling to a relative depth of about 30-40 meters. This is an extraordinarily intense temperature extreme that well exceeds those observed during the ramp-up to the record 1997-98 El Nino event.
The collapse of the Antarctic Bottom Water anyone?
Phase Transitions, as BRT readers know, are a big deal on this blog as they are exponential and, when the transition is ready to go, just a little push, makes it real. In the case of the Petrodollar and the Ukraine, the push has just happened and, So It Begins.
The existence of "petrodollars" is one of the pillars of America's economic might because it creates a significant external demand for American currency, allowing the US to accumulate enormous debts without defaulting. If a Japanese buyer wants to buy a barrel of Saudi oil, he has to pay in dollars even if no American oil company ever touches the said barrel. Dollar has held a dominant position in global trading for such a long time that even Gazprom's natural gas contracts for Europe are priced and paid for in US dollars. Until recently, a significant part of EU-China trade had been priced in dollars.
Lately, China has led the BRICS efforts to dislodge the dollar from its position as the main global currency, but the "sanctions war" between Washington and Moscow gave an impetus to the long-awaited scheme to launch the petroruble and switch all Russian energy exports away from the US currency .
It gets better.
Russia’s trade in hydrocarbons amounts to about a trillion dollars per year. Other countries, especially the BRICS and BRCIS-associates (BRICSA) may soon follow suit and join forces with Russia, abandoning the ‘petro-dollar’ as trading unit for oil and gas. This could amount to tens of trillions in loss for demand of petro-dollars per year (US GDP about 17 trillion dollars – December 2013) – leaving an important dent in the US economy would be an understatement.
Added to this is the declaration today by Russia’s Press TV – China will re-open the old Silk Road as a new trading route linking Germany, Russia and China, allowing to connect and develop new markets along the road, especially in Central Asia, where this new project will bring economic and political stability, and in Western China provinces,where “New Areas” of development will be created. The first one will be the Lanzhou New Area in China’s Northwestern Gansu Province, one of China’s poorest regions.
Let's see if the mainline press covers this.
When it comes to religion, BRT doesn't have any save that everyone has the right to believe in anything they want as long as said belief doesn't interfere with the rights of people possessing beliefs, or lack thereof, different from their own. With this in mind, consider Saudi Arabia's doubling down on what defines terrorism, interesting to say the least. Paragraph 3 kind of says it all. - BRT
Saudi Arabia has introduced a series of new laws which define atheists as terrorists, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.
In a string of royal decrees and an overarching new piece of legislation to deal with terrorism generally, the Saudi King Abdullah has clamped down on all forms of political dissent and protests that could "harm public order".
The new laws have largely been brought in to combat the growing number of Saudis travelling to take part in the civil war in Syria, who have previously returned with newfound training and ideas about overthrowing the monarchy.
Article one of the new provisions defines terrorism as "calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based".
Monday, April 07, 2014
Yates-Johnson, along with Francesco Tacchini and Julinka Ebhardt, created the sphere, which they refer to as Space Replay as an experiment in manipulating the sounds found in spaces like stairwells, hallways and elevators. These transitional areas of our buildings are full of unobserved sounds. “In these spaces you have these really brief, powerful moments of sound,” Yates-Johnson explains. “The ball is essentially a tool to capture them.”
Kind of evokes the hallway scenes in The Shining, if you ask me. :)
The profit motive, in the case of Apple, is OK. Build really good hardware, charge a righteous price for it and see if people buy, especially if you can deliver the goods in a timely and efficient manner, something Apple does in spades. The other part of the Apple equation is the fact you have a choice. You can buy other hardware to do the same work. It might not be as nice as Apple in look and feel but no big deal because digital is digital and Windows' apps are every bit as good as Apple's when it comes to getting the job done, but what does one do when one has no choice, where the price point is determined by little or no competition and where obfuscation is the rule, rather then the exception as seen in the incendiary NY Times article titled Even Small Medical Advances Can Mean Big Jumps in Bills.
“From a guy on the front lines, the improvements have been miraculous,” he said. “But the acquisition cost is very high, and the pricing dictates what treatment you get.”
Complication rates from diabetes in the United States are generally higher than in other developed countries. That is true even though the United States spends more per patient and per capita treating diabetes than elsewhere, said Ping Zhang, an economist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The high costs are taking their toll on public coffers, since 62 percent of that treatment money comes from government insurers. The cumulative outlays for treating Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes reached nearly $200 billion in 2012, or about 7 percent of America’s health care bill.
Expenditures could well double by 2030, according to estimates by the C.D.C., in large part because the number of Americans found to have diabetes has been increasing more than 50 percent every 10 years.
The reason for this price gouging abuse is, IMHO, the lack of transparency and real competition in medical, where closed, proprietary systems rule, where price points for office visits, hospital stays and surgery procedures are never disclosed beforehand and where patients, in many cases, are considered nothing but profit centers, able to be hosed price-wise when it comes to treating chronic illnesses like Type 1 diabetes.
Change is coming, as seen in the BRT blurb titled Healthcare - Days of Future Past, because people will demand it, just as people demanded transparency and competition in tech when the web became real circa 1997.
"And the beat goes on." - Robert E.
Saturday, April 05, 2014
Tiny Planet Photography, a 360 degree panorama technique, formally just a stills format, has now gone into the video space. Pretty awesome I must say.
Using six GoPro cameras in a 3D printed mount, artist/photographer/filmmaker/journalist Jonas Ginter made this fantastic 360 degree spherical panorama video. While people have been making spherical panorama photos (commonly referred to as Tiny Planets) for years, this is the I’ve seen in video form.
Friday, April 04, 2014
Phase transitions, fractals, feedback loops and blow back, notions all too familiar when discussing chaos and non-linear systems, is now being applied to the potentially lethal impact of GMOs in a provactive Nicholas Taleb paper titled The Precautionary Principle. BRT talked about this regarding Monsanto in a blurb titled Nature finds a way, always.
Top-down modifications to the system (through GMOs) are categorically and statistically different from bottom up ones (regular farming, progressive tinkering with crops, etc.) There is no comparison between the tinkering of selective breeding and the top-down engineering of arbitrarily taking a gene from an organism and putting it into another. Saying that such a product is natural misses the statistical process by which things become ”natural”. [i.e. evolving over thousands of years in a natural ecosystem, or at least breeding over several generations.]
What people miss is that the modification of crops impacts everyone and exports the error from the local to the global. I do not wish to pay—or have my descendants pay—for errors by executives of Monsanto. We should exert the precautionary principle there—our non-naive version—simply because we would only discover errors after considerable and irreversible environmental damage.
Needless to say, his logic is sound as reality works from the bottom up, not top down, something the Monsanto's of the world, along with the uninformed, will never understand.
Addendum: Click Whether Prometheus to read BRT's take on the ultimate in GMO tinkering via Craig Venter's top down approach to modifying life at the ultimate level in order to produce super bugs, something most disquieting to say the least from this writer's perspective.
As loyal readers know, BRT does not delve into politics very often unless the actions taken by a given entity, i.e. the Supreme Court, are so egregiously bad that commentary must be made. With this in mind, consider that McCutcheon and Citizens United, (corporations are, in effect, persons vis a vis voting rights & campaign funding) have destroyed the notion of campaign reform forever, thus creating a plutocracy where unlimited funding of campaigns rule, something the Supreme Court, as per the Founding Fathers, was designed to prevent as the final arbiters of law as the SC justices were tenured for life and well provided for, conditions the FFs thought would free them from outside pressures, thus enabling them to rule in the national interest and not their own, something not happening with the Roberts court circa 2014.
In many ways, "it's the cushiest job in the world," said Supreme Court historian and University of Texas law professor Lucas "Scot" Powe.
Court members get lifetime employment, steady $200,000 salaries, ample vacation and comprehensive health benefits.
"There's also not that much required work, and they've made it less over time," said Powe, who clerked for Justice William O. Douglas in the early 1970s.
Clerks themselves do much of the administrative legwork for the justices, sorting through the thousands of petitions the court receives and summarizing them in short memos. They also help the justices craft their written opinions on selected cases.
Thirty years ago, the court issued roughly 120 decisions in a given term. It issued 83 in the 2008-2009 session.
The court's nine-month term also means abundant free time during the summer, when justices don't hear oral arguments or meet to decide cases.
So... why is the logic used by Roberts so tortured to explain the "validity" of McCutcheon while Justice Stephen Breyer's dissent devastates it with elegance and power.
Roberts: "Ingratiation and access ... are not corruption" To unlimited amounts of $$ - BRT, right?
Breyer: "creates huge loopholes in the law...and undermines, perhaps devastates, what remains of campaign finance reform."
George Carlin said it best as Citizens United and McCutcheon merely codify what has been reality for a very long time.
Monday, March 31, 2014
The debate is over, has been for a long time for rational people regarding GW but... for flat earthers refusing to believe earth's becoming an oven because of us, the art of stupid looms, especially with three reports coming in from NASA & NOAA showing how the rise of CO2 levels impacts climate change and the UN's IPCC (350mb - PDF) monster titled Climate Change 2013 providing ever more evidence that GW's a reality show writ large. Because of this, it's time for unbelievers to finally pack it in and realize we're in big trouble and must make radical changes now regarding energy and it's connect to the environment or face consequences too dire for civilization to even contemplate.
Click on the National Academies graphic below to get a concise view of why ignoring GW truly is the art of stupid. To learn more about how researchers put together climate models to explain their findings, click here.
The Question to ask now is, does Obama have the guts to pull the plug on Keystone XL?
Well do ya?...
Sunday, March 30, 2014
BRT has talked about the Tar Sands operation in Alberta, Canada on numerous occasions (There is a Hell) from the tech perspective while Jacques Leslie's powerful NYTimes op ed piece, Is Canada Tarring Itself? touches upon her very soul.
START with the term “tar sands.” In Canada only fervent opponents of oil development in northern Alberta dare to use those words; the preferred phrase is the more reassuring “oil sands.” Never mind that the “oil” in the world’s third largest petroleum reserve is in fact bitumen, a substance with the consistency of peanut butter, so viscous that another fossil fuel must be used to dilute it enough to make it flow.
Never mind, too, that the process that turns bitumen into consumable oil is very dirty, even by the oil industry’s standards. But say “tar sands” in Canada, and you’ll risk being labeled unpatriotic, radical, subversive.
It gets better.
Documents obtained by research institutions and environmental groups through freedom-of-information requests show a government bent on extracting as much tar sands oil as possible, as quickly as possible. From 2008 to 2012, oil industry representatives registered 2,733 communications with government officials, a number dwarfing those of other industries. The oil industry used these communications to recommend changes in legislation to facilitate tar sands and pipeline development. In the vast majority of instances, the government followed through.
Killing Me Softly applies here if you ask me.
"This 9,950-year-old tree is like a portrait of climate change. The mass of branches near the ground grew the same way for roughly 9,500 years, but the new, spindly trunk in the center is only 50 or so years old, caused by warming at the top of this mountain plateau in Western Sweden."
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Alan Turing, one of the true giants in both science and technology, has appeared in BRT in numerous articles describing his work, not only as the inventor of AI and the digital computer (along with John Von Neumann) but also on his seminal contribution to Chaos (Stone Soup) when he posited his then revolutionary theory of how patterns emerge from seeming randomness as seen through the coloration of animals. Now, it seems researchers have put Turing's theory to the test and found out he was right about how chaos functions in the real world.
Turing called this the reaction-diffusion process, meaning that it’s driven by reactive molecules that can diffuse between cells. He called these molecules “morphogens” because they affect the morphology, or physical character, of a cell. One molecule activates a change, like color, and one inhibits it. Patterns are produced by varying concentrations of the morphogens as they interact and spread through a population of cells.
The video above shows how this interaction works, something, in this case, psychedelic, wonderful and spot on. :) Seen below is a double pendulum example of chaos in action.