Monday, May 31, 2021

B&W yet again ...

Dandilion Wine :)

Water's Edge

Road Lines

Center Point

Rainy Day Aftermath

Quick Takes ...

 A short clip taking quick takes of a small sampling of flora and fauna in Fairfield County. Enjoy. :)

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Democracy resides on a knife's edge ...

Senate Republicans on Friday blocked the creation of an independent commission to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The final vote, 54 to 35, fell short of the 60 senators needed. Credit...Jason Andrew for The New York Times

Democracy resides on a knife edge thanks to The Turtle, McCarthy and the specter of The Donald holding the country hostage by keeping the repugs in line by denying the need to know exactly what happened on 1/6/2021. With this being said, a good friend waxes poetic on why this sad state of affairs holds sway as the nation lurches toward a most uncertain future starting with midterms in 2022 and the presidential in 2024.

The GOP and all supporters WANT a dictatorship, above the laws of democracy.  America is dead to them; Republican as a word now means “those who cannot hack the courage, compromise, empathy, fairness snd generosity it takes to be the United States, the world’s first, best democracy.”  It’s just too hard for these people.

Consider this:  If you watched TV sitcoms back in the day, you may remember the motto that the Seinfeld show runners and writers adopted, as a reaction against the moralizing, sentimental sitcom pap shoveled into our living rooms every week:  “On our show, there is no hugging, no learning.”  They meant to feature a group of selfish, self-absorbed, spoiled non-empathetic friends who could care less, indeed found sensitivity a laughable weakness.  The series finale featured the entire cast being jailed for exactly those petty crimes against humanity. 

At the time, it seemed a sharp and cynical joke, a poke in the eye of “Me Decade” culture. 

But now, I see this satire on the Spoiled American is in fact the documentary truth.  People who cannot stomach ANY level of empathy or emotion (BTW rage is not an emotion) … and who want a big raging Daddy to run the country by smacking down all attempts at human civility snd kindness. Republicans officially are the cult of No Hugging, No Learning, No Truth, and No Reality. 

Thanks D, truer words never spoken. 


A new map called River Runner lets you trace the long path of water throughout the U.S.: Click on any spot or enter an address, and it will show where the water is likely to flow. Data analyst Sam Learner started working on the project after thinking about how water travels from the Continental Divide. “I though that journey would be really interesting,” he says. “If we start at the top of a mountain on the Continental Divide, just watching this split—one journey a few hundred miles to the Pacific, and another to the Gulf of Mexico. As I started digging into the data, I realized that the scope of it could be much bigger.”

It certainly is. Check it out to be amazed. I was and still am. :)

On capturing time

Charles Minard's map of Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign of 1812. The graphic is notable for its representation in two dimensions of six types of data: the number of Napoleon's troops; distance; temperature; the latitude and longitude; direction of travel; and location relative to specific dates.[4]

IMHO, the greatest design depicting how time shapes a given process is Charles Minard's masterpiece depicting the catastrophic campaign of Napoleon vis a vis Russia where distance and weather, combined with a war of attrition, > 450,000 - < 10,000 doomed his chances of conquering the largest nation on earth. 

Seen below is the English translation of what the map describes.

Figurative Map of the successive losses in men of the French Army in the Russian campaign 1812–1813.

Drawn by M. Minard, Inspector General of Bridges and Roads (retired). Paris, November 20, 1869.

The numbers of men present are represented by the widths of the colored zones at a rate of one millimeter for every ten thousand men; they are further written across the zones. The red designates the men who enter Russia, the black those who leave it. — The information which has served to draw up the map has been extracted from the works of M. M. Thiers, de Ségur, de Fezensac, de Chambray and the unpublished diary of Jacob, the pharmacist of the Army since October 28th.

In order to better judge with the eye the diminution of the army, I have assumed that the troops of Prince Jérôme and of Marshal Davout, who had been detached at Minsk and Mogilev and have rejoined near Orsha and Vitebsk, had always marched with the army.

On capturing time applies, does it not?

Friday, May 28, 2021

Lost in translation

In the BRT piece, On Language and reality, a take on Arrival and the Sapir-Whorf interpretation of language was discussed as language shapes how we view the world and, as conjecture, this would also apply to aliens as well due to the fact language is considered a universal requirement for any intelligent species to function but ... how a given language would actually work, among differing civilizations, is a guesstimate at best. Think Chinese, the 20,000+ pictographic language, consisting of lego block connects to convey meaning, totally differs from the modualar 26 letter construct of English, which not only poses difficult translation issues of one language into another but also in how the two cultures view reality, a notion I know first hand as I have a Chinese daughter in law who has taught me a great deal on how she views the world from a truly different perspective. With this in mind, an insightful article about the possibility of communicating with aliens via Arstechnica gives added insight into just how difficult a process this can be.

Poster showing scene from movie with the alien craft and helicopters, along with images of the three main actors from the film

To whit.

It's more involved.

 Any questions?

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The worm is turning ... finally

The worm is turning ... finally on companies like Exxon, the guys that lied about climate change back in the 70's but decided to cover it up in order to gin profits ever further into the stratosphere.

The worm makes its move ...

Within 5 years ...


Within 5 years, the 1.5 Celsius temperature goal of limiting the impact of climate change, as per the Paris Accords, has a 44% chance of arriving ahead of schedule. 

It's getting warmer 24/7.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Supermoon + total lunar eclipse!

Blood red supermoon lunar eclipse

Ah, another supermoon but with a twist as it includes a lunar eclipse as well. :)

A comparison showing a larger moon and a smaller moon with a 12% difference in size.

You really can see the difference, particularly with the increase in illumination. As for the eclipse, the east coast will not see the total but that's ok, right? :)

Why the supermoon, well ...

White lines showing the oblong shape of the moon's orbit.

 The Moon’s orbit around Earth is not perfectly circular. This means the Moon’s distance from Earth varies as it goes around the planet. The closest point in the orbit, called the perigee, is roughly 28,000 miles closer to Earth than the farthest point of the orbit. A full moon that happens near the perigee is called a supermoon.

Factoids rule as do supermoons. :)


This picture of LI Sound, becalmed to the max, indirectly connects to the irony of an currently overpopulated planet losing population as seen by a NYTimes article describing how the slow motion disaster of declining fertility rates negatively impacts society. With this in mind, contraction of civilization, combined with global warming and other such maladies, as described in Crossing the Rubicon, point the way to a most disquieting future of our own making. 

 No pontification here but our grand children and their grand children will see a world vastly different from the one we see today. Hopefully it will be for the better but one never knows, do one.

As followup ...

A family eating hotpot at a restaurant in Beijing. China’s population is projected to contract sharply this century.Credit...Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

As followup to the BRT article Long-term time bomb articulating the lessening fertility rate of China comes another NYTimes piece detailing the slide of population for the world as a whole as populations age and the lack of the young able to support civilization at today's level slowly begins to fade away.

Fewer babies’ cries. More abandoned homes. Toward the middle of this century, as deaths start to exceed births, changes will come that are hard to fathom.

To whit ...

All over the world, countries are confronting population stagnation and a fertility bust, a dizzying reversal unmatched in recorded history that will make first-birthday parties a rarer sight than funerals, and empty homes a common eyesore.

Maternity wards are already shutting down in Italy. Ghost cities are appearing in northeastern China. Universities in South Korea can’t find enough students, and in Germany, hundreds of thousands of properties have been razed, with the land turned into parks.

Like an avalanche, the demographic forces — pushing toward more deaths than births — seem to be expanding and accelerating. Though some countries continue to see their populations grow, especially in Africa, fertility rates are falling nearly everywhere else. Demographers now predict that by the latter half of the century or possibly earlier, the global population will enter a sustained decline for the first time.

Children of Men looms. 

Nothing is forever

Nothing is forever, including links as seen by a Verge article delineating this interesting fact.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

It could be something else ... altogether

What if it's not a black hole at all? What if it's a core of dark matter? According to a new and fascinating study, those observed orbits of the galactic center, as well as the orbital velocities in the outer regions of the galaxy, might actually be easier to explain if it was a core of dark matter at the heart of the galaxy, rather than a black hole.

Why ..

Then along came an object called G2. Also on a long, elliptical orbit, G2 did something strange when it came around its periapsis in 2014, the point in its orbit closest to the putative black hole. It went from a normal, compact object to something long and stretched out, before shrinking back down to a compact object again.

This was really weird, and G2's nature is still unknown. But whatever it is, the object's motion following periapsis seems to exhibit drag - which, according to a team of astrophysicists led by Eduar Antonio Becerra-Vergara of the International Center for Relativistic Astrophysics, headquartered in Italy, is not entirely consistent with the black hole model.

Because ...

The researchers showed last year that S2 and G2 were consistent with a different model, even with that strange post-periapsis motion: dark matter fermions, which they dub 'darkninos', with a light-enough mass that wouldn't see them collapse into a black hole until there was at least 100 times as much of the stuff.

Read the rest of Science Alert's piece to learn why this wild theory may ring true.

A jet of a different kind

Black holes create jets of a different kind, the kind consisting of charged particles of gas spun up to unimaginable amounts of energy thousand of light years long as seen by the video above.

The process ...

Roger Blandford and Roman Znajek, young physicists at the University of Cambridge in 1977, argued that rotating supermassive black holes will twist ambient magnetic fields into a tight helix, and that this twisting will create a voltage that draws energy up and out of the hole and along the helix. This, they claimed, is the jet — and a big asterisk on the naive notion that nothing escapes black holes.

A jet of a different kind indeed. 

An orange line across the night sky ending in large diffuse blobs on either end.

Privacy 101 :)


It's universal, right? :)

It's universal, right? :)

Muller's Ratchet

 Makes sense to me. :)

Silence is ... golden :)

 Yes it is. :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Finally ... a replacement for Lithium Ion

Maybe graphene's finally making a play to replace lithium in all things relating to batterie as GMG's tech looks promising so far. 

Foldable to the max ...

 Foldable to the max, seems Samsung's going nuts over tech most interesting. Concepts never disappoint.

After teasing some of its new display innovations through images yesterday, Samsung has released a video that shows off some of these new innovations, and it’s absolutely nuts. We get to see a device with a triple-folding display, a 17-inch foldable laptop concept, Samsung’s new under-display camera technology, and more. 

Not the same as it ever was.

Factoids ...

Samsung Display is a division of Samsung Electronics, and it produces OLED panels for use by Samsung and other consumer tech manufacturers. So while these concepts may end up in future Samsung products, it’s certainly not guaranteed. The company as a whole hasn’t been shy about embracing foldable technology, getting into the foldable device market early. It may have more company soon; display OEM TCL has shown off its own concepts and says it will bring one to market this year. Until then, we’ll be watching and filling out our foldable concept bingo cards.

Just like cars, many cool concepts never make it to the real world.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Numbers Don't Lie ...

Numbers Don't Lie by Vaclav Smil

Yours truly is reading Numbers Don't Lie, a most interesting tome showing why, when numbers, properly connected to statistics and ... implemented by someone as wise as Vaclave Smil, fascinates and forever separates fantasy from grounded thinking in every way possible. 

You can't handle the truth. - Nathan R. Jessup/A Few Good Men

Regarding global warming and transitioning to sustainables.

” That is not impossible – but it is very unlikely. Reaching that coal would require nothing short of a fundemental of the global transformation of the global economy on scales and at a speed unprecedented in human history, a task that would be impossible to to without major economic and social dislocations …. The contrasts between expressed concerns about global warming, the continued release of record volumes of carbon, and our capabilities to change that in the near time could not be starker”

and Smil's take on innovation ...

A lot of people think that innovation works on Moore’s law. The exponential annual growth of 35% a year is something for electronic components.  This rate of progress has not happened much elsewhere in the real world. For most other things, you need to settle down for exponential growth of between 1.5% to 3% (if you are lucky). The hope that technology is going to solve everything overnight or renewable green  energy is going to provide 99% of our energy in the next 5 years is unlikley going to happen.  When you realise that the pace of change is gradual, and not as fast as some people making decisions think it is, you need to move beyond hope and back to what is realistic.

Any questions?

Everything's connected


Many years ago, we were at Yosemite having an outdoor dinner in the Douglas fir forest. The trees, huge and old, loomed over us with dignity and solemnity befitting life as wondrous as this. Seems this sense of wonder is well-founded as everything's connected, a notion proven to be true yet again as seen by a Wired piece equating the forest to the web in terms of how diverse life forms create a communicative system of great sophistication and complexity.

I tracked another root from the elder and found another truffle, and another. I raised each to my nose and breathed in its musty, earthy smell of spores and mushroom and birth. I traced the black pulpy whiskers from each truffle to the riggings of roots of seedlings of all ages, and saplings too. With each unearthing, the framework unfolded—this old tree was connected to every one of the younger trees regenerated around it. Later, Kevin would return to this patch and sequence the DNA of almost every Rhizopogon truffle and tree—and find that most of the trees were linked together by the Rhizopogon mycelium, and that the biggest, oldest trees were connected to almost all of the younger ones in their neighborhood. One tree was linked to 47 others, some of them 20 yards away by Rhizopogon alone. We published these findings in 2010, followed by further details in two more papers. If we’d been able to map how the other 60 fungal species connected the firs, we surely would have found the weave much thicker, the layers deeper, the stitching even more intricate.

This forest was like the internet too. But instead of computers linked by wires or radio waves, these trees were connected by mycorrhizal fungi. The forest seemed like a system of centers and satellites, where the old trees were the biggest communication hubs and the smaller ones the less busy nodes, with messages transmitting back and forth through the fungal links. Back in 1997, when my article showing carbon was transmitted between Douglas fir and paper birch through the mycorrhizal network had been published in Nature, the journal had called it the “wood-wide web.” This was turning out to be much more prescient than I’d imagined. All I knew back then was that carbon moved back and forth between the tree species through a simple weave of mycorrhizas. This forest, though, was showing me a fuller story. The old and young trees were hubs and nodes, interconnected by mycorrhizal fungi in a complex pattern that fueled the regeneration of the entire forest.

Mature individual in the Wenatchee Mountains

The connector ... European style.

Black truffle (Tuber melanosporum)

Friday, May 14, 2021

Being a mutt :)

Wild Daisy

Being a mutt, you know, channeling wild flowers, mongrels and other genetically diverse individuals, is a favorite trait of yours truly as these entities tend to be far more genetically robust than purebreds like bull dogs, thoroughbreds and Granny Smith apples. In 2001, David Bowman got the job as the commander of the Discovery due to being a generalist, a person who knew a little about a lot, something this writer ascribes to in writing diverse BRT blurbs throughout these years so ... here's to us mutts of the world having a general purpose curiosity in trying to decipher how the world works from the generalist perspective. :)

Tiny fly, faster than a speeding bullet. :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Becoming professional ...

Ransomware has gone corporate and ... to infrastructure as seen by the attack on Colonial by DarkSide in it's push to get money through illicit means. The apology by the group is farcical regarding the disruption of gas to us rubes but the threat ransomware poses to the digital world of the web is not. 

To whit.

The cyberattack that knocked offline an essential U.S. gasoline pipeline shows how the dangerous, professional-scale hack-for-ransom threat is spreading rapidly, targeting companies, schools, hospitals and other institutions.

While ransomware has been a challenge for small businesses for years, a confluence of factors have emboldened attackers in the past year, culminating in the shutdown Friday of a critical gasoline pipeline to the U.S. East Coast. The pipeline’s operator, Colonial Pipeline Co., now says service could be offline until week’s end, threatening to raise prices at the pump for millions of Americans.

Attacks are growing in number and scale as millions of people across the country work or attend school remotely, in some cases opening back doors to networks without corporate or institutional security protections, security researchers say.

Hackers have grown adept at communicating about vulnerabilities on the so-called Dark Web, a network of computers that can share information anonymously. The ability to demand payment in cryptocurrency limits law-enforcement tracking capabilities. And the growth in insurance policies that cover ransomware payments has helped seed an increasingly professionalized ransomware industry.

Invulnerability is but an illusion.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Hidden benefits ...

Tarantula hawk dragging a paralysed orange-kneed tarantula, Costa Rica

Wasps, you know, yellow jackets, hornets and the solitaries like the Tarantula hawk seen above, are loathed because they sting but ... there are hidden benefits to these fearsome creatures as they maintain environmental balance by keeping the population of a multitude of pests under control. 

For those who have asked what the point of wasps is, there is now a comprehensive answer. They are voracious predators of pest insects, produce powerful antibiotics in their venom, pollinate plants and even make a nutritious snack.

The benefits to humans of the much-hated insects are revealed in the first major scientific review of the ecosystem services they provide. It focused on the 33,000 known species of hunting wasps, which carry stings and live in every corner of the world.

Yellowjackets and hornets, the picnic pests that have given wasps a bad name, make up a small proportion of all wasp species. But even they provide help that is little known, such as hoovering up caterpillars on vegetable patches. Yellowjacket venom is also being investigated as a promising cancer treatment.


The study, published in the journal Biological Reviews, analysed 500 scientific reports on stinging wasps. There are 100,000 known wasp species, but 70,000 are parasitic, which are stingless and quite well studied. They are already used in farming to control pests without using insecticides. There are about 22,000 species of bees. “Wasps are the ancestor of bees, so bees are wasps that have forgotten how to hunt,” said Sumner.

Click here for the PDF of the study.

They're coming ... by the trillions :)

 They're coming ... by the trillions. :)

You just know it’s gonna be a scorcher when you hear the cicadas in the morning. They sound like 90 degrees in August; like sizzling, sticky heat bubbling over and down the tops of the Sycamore trees around you. They sound like ice cream trucks, the whistle of a whiffle ball, the clink of ice in a glass of lemonade—cicadas stealthily singing in the backdrop as if they were there all along.

This year, in a matter of days—or hours, or maybe it’s already happening—the conjoined song of the cicadas will elevate to a symphony. The Brood X cohort of cicadas, the largest of 15 known periodical cicada species—seven of which emerge every 13 or 17 years—will crawl up from their underground burrows and unleash a cacophony of noise across much of the Eastern United States. At least 15 states are expected to welcome trillions—yes, trillions—of cicadas over the course of four to six glorious weeks. Glorious because, as much as this event may sound like the plot of a fucked up Guillermo del Toro film, the phenomenon is a wondrous and sentimental marvel of nature. Never mind the fact that the cicadas you hear are males crooning to prospective partners, an altogether necessary yet romantic act of survival; the hum of the cicadas is tinged in nostalgia. To hear their song is to remember childhood—and not just for those who grew up in the pockets of woodlands scattered across the Atlantic seaboard.

Yes indeed, cicadas & childhood are forever intwined. 

Long-term time bomb

Several years ago, a senior Chinese official had an incredibly honest interview with the NYTimes regarding China's slow motion time bomb of a declining population that's really old, something now coming to pass in 2021, a potentially devastating impact on the ambitions of Xi and the well being of the country as a whole. 

To whit.

China’s population is growing at its slowest pace in decades, with a plunge in births and a graying work force presenting the Communist Party with one of its gravest social and economic challenges.  

Figures for a census conducted last year and released on Tuesday showed the country’s population at 1.41 billion people, about 72 million more than those counted in 2010. This was the narrowest increase recorded since the Communist Party conducted its first census, in 1953.

Only 12 million babies were born in China last year, according to Ning Jizhe, the head of China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the fourth year in a row that births have fallen in the country. That makes it the lowest official number of births since 1961, when a widespread famine caused by Communist Party policies killed millions of people, and only 11.8 million babies were born.

The figures show that China faces a demographic crisis that could stunt growth in the world’s second-largest economy. China faces aging-related challenges similar to that of developed countries, but its households live on much lower incomes on average than the United States and elsewhere.

In other words, the country is growing old without first having grown rich.

Yours truly never forgot just how honest the official was and ... he was spot on without question.

End result.

“China is facing a unique demographic challenge that is the most urgent and severe in the world,” said Liang Jianzhang, a research professor of applied economics at Peking University and a demography expert. “This is a long-term time bomb.”

Officials conducting a demographic census in Boma village, where relocated Tibetan people from high-altitude areas live, in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.Credit...Roman Pilipey/EPA, via Shutterstock

A long-time time bomb indeed.