Friday, April 20, 2018

Break a Leg to the Cast of DMTC's "Guys and Dolls," Premiering Tonight!

I'm beginning to look at the 1,701 pictures, all of which I hope to have uploaded to DMTC's Smugmug Website by Monday. I'm attracted by some of the more offbeat ones:

‘These Kids Should Be In School Instead Of Protesting,’ Say People So Tantalizingly Close To Getting The Point

The Onion.

It's 4:20 on 4/20

And I'm hungry....

Bargain-Basement Toxicologist

Bill Cosby’s toxicologist isn’t top drawer. More like that hard-to-reach bottom drawer with all the junk.
At one point during an exacting cross-examination, Maryland toxicologist Dr. Harry Milman suggested to a prosecutor probing his credentials that he distribute copies of Milman’s two fiction thrillers to jurors in the stately Pennsylvania courtroom.

Monty Python Conquers America

Very much enjoyed this documentary. It brought back many memories of learning about Monty Python late at night on PBS in the early Seventies:

Promo Video For My Fave, Jamaican Dancehall Power Up Class

Cleaning Trash From Water

The States Race to the Bottom in the Competitive Business of Biosolids

The languid Southern summer approaches:
PARRISH, Ala.— A stinking trainload of human waste from New York City is stranded in a tiny Alabama town, spreading a stench like a giant backed-up toilet — and the "poop train" is just the latest example of the South being used as a dumping ground for other states' waste.

In Parrish, Alabama, population 982, the sludge-hauling train cars have sat idle near the little league ball fields for more than two months, Mayor Heather Hall said. The smell is unbearable, especially around dusk after the atmosphere has become heated, she said.

"Oh my goodness, it's just a nightmare here," she said. "It smells like rotting corpses, or carcasses. It smells like death."

...Alabama and other Southern states have a long history accepting waste from around the U.S.

A former state attorney general once described a giant west Alabama landfill as "America's Pay Toilet." It was among the nation's largest hazardous waste dumps when it opened in 1977. At its peak, the landfill took in nearly 800,000 tons of hazardous waste annually.

Plans to dump coal ash in Southern states have been particularly contentious. Each year, U.S. coal plants produce about 100 million tons of coal ash and other waste; more than 4 million tons of it wound up in an Alabama landfill following a 2008 spill in Tennessee.

In Parrish, the mayor hopes the material in the train cars is removed before the weather warms up.

"We're moving into the summer, and the summer in the South is not forgiving when it comes to stuff like this," she said.

Smart Moves by Both Cardi B and Bernie Sanders

Sanders needs to mend fences:
In pure “feel the Bern” fashion, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) postured his affinity for millennial culture on Wednesday by retweeting a quote from rap sensation Cardi B, who recently dropped her encyclopedic knowledge of U.S. presidents in an expansive interview with GQ.

In that interview, Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar, took a deep dive into her self-professed obsession with the 32nd president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom she said was the “real ‘Make America Great Again’ President because if it wasn’t for him, older Americans wouldn’t even get Social Security.”

Sean Hannity’s Idea of ‘Attorney-Client Privilege’ Was Right Out of ‘Breaking Bad’

Ain't that the truth!:
“I might have handed him 10 bucks [and said,] ‘I definitely want your attorney-client privilege on this,’ ” Hannity told listeners Monday afternoon. “Something like that.”

Online, the “handed him 10 bucks” line immediately launched comparisons to an infamous scene from AMC’s smash hit “Breaking Bad.”

In a memorable exchange, one of the shadiest lawyers in television history, Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk, tells the show’s meth-dealing main characters to “put a dollar in my pocket” to ensure that their conversations about criminal misdeeds remain protected.

...But at this point in the chaotic legal mess swirling around Cohen, Trump and now Hannity, another bit of dialogue from that “Breaking Bad” scene in the desert might be worth keeping in mind.

“The way I see it, someone is going to prison,” Goodman tells his new clients. “It’s just a matter of who.”

Monday, April 16, 2018

Astonished by the Ferocity of the Thunderstorm

Very unCalifornian:

The storm cell was apparently fairly small. We got hit, but the National Weather Service rain gauge four miles away at Sac Exec Airport didn't get hit. On the other hand, they got rain yesterday, but no rain fell here. Maybe it evens out a bit.

Yeast is Chinese

Who knew?:
When scientists in France set out to sequence 1,000 yeast genomes, they looked at strains from all the places you might expect: beer, bread, wine.

But also: sewage, termite mounds, tree bark, the infected nail of a 4-year-old Australian girl, oil-contaminated asphalt, fermenting acorn meal in North Korea, horse dung, fruit flies, human blood, seawater, a rotting banana. For five years, two geneticists—Gianni Liti, from the Université Côte d’Azur, and Joseph Schacherer, from the Université de Strasbourg—asked for samples of Saccharomyces cerevisiae from nearly everyone they met, whether doctors in French Guiana collecting human feces or Mexican tequila makers.

...The results of their analysis, published in Nature, suggest that yeast came from, of all places, China.

On Russian Troll Farms

Trying Out My New Bat-Monitoring App

I've recently obtained three apps for the iPhone that promise to act like Shazam for wildlife, including two apps for bird calls. Tonight, though, was test run for the app designed for bats. If you want to listen in to those high sound frequencies, you first have to buy the ultrasonic module (about $200).

I headed down to the Midtown bat colony I first noted when I used to walk Bella. It's a perfect place for bats.

Got some nice recordings of bat chatter! The app identified most of the recordings as being from Mexican Freetailed Bats, but some recordings were identified as being from Big Brown Bats. I don't know if it means both bats were present, or if the app has trouble distinguishing between them.

I was a little surprised at the large gaps between episodes of bat activity, as if their numbers were small and scattered. It's a little early for bats. Mexican Freetailed Bats (the same bats one finds in the huge colony under the I-80 Yolo Causeway) only start arriving from their Mexican wintering spots in March. By July, there should be more.

Jump Rope, One of Hip Hop's Foundations

Furious With The Scooter Libby Pardon

Trump pardons American traitor Scooter Libby, in a Mafia-like effort to keep Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Jared Kushner from betraying his secrets.

Traitors run the United States right now:

Trouble Keeping Up With All The Bullshit

NOW Trump decides the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a good idea:
But the point is that the things President Trump has focused most on, intellectual property rights, is actually something TPP is pretty aggressive on. The point really isn’t the rights or wrongs of TPP. The point is that Trump had zero idea what TPP even was when he decided to peremptorily pull out of the agreement. It may have been bad for the US or good. But his decision was based on ignorance and impulse. Because there was nothing behind it in the first place, an about-face is completely possible.

For the record, I’m with Sasse: Trump “likes to blue-sky a lot.” That is to say, he was just spouting off and it probably means nothing. But it’s just one more example of the toll of a militantly ignorant President.

Goldman Sachs, everyone’s favorite Great Vampire Squid, notes that there isn’t much money in medical cures, only in endless courses of medical treatments:
"Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in an April 10 report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

"The potential to deliver 'one shot cures' is one of the most attractive aspects of gene therapy, genetically-engineered cell therapy and gene editing. However, such treatments offer a very different outlook with regard to recurring revenue versus chronic therapies," analyst Salveen Richter wrote in the note to clients Tuesday. "While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow."

Richter cited Gilead Sciences' treatments for hepatitis C, which achieved cure rates of more than 90 percent. The company's U.S. sales for these hepatitis C treatments peaked at $12.5 billion in 2015, but have been falling ever since. Goldman estimates the U.S. sales for these treatments will be less than $4 billion this year, according to a table in the report.