Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Kilauea Annihilates Hawaii's Largest Freshwater Lake

A flick of Pele's hair:
A steam plume first appeared around 10 a.m. Saturday as lava poured into Green Lake in Kapoho, but by 3 p.m. a Hawaii County Fire Department overflight confirmed to the US Geological Survey that the lake had filled with lava and the body of water was no more.

Whatever Happened to the Concept of Peace Through Strength?

Another time America went after Canada:

Here Comes Bud

Forecasts are looking good for Hurricane Bud's remnants to hit the Southwest with some welcome rains. Unclear if the rains will move up the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico, or a little farther west, but either way, there's lots of parched ground ready and waiting.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Listening to EDC 2018 Las Vegas Videos

Most are a little too dubsteppy for me, but Tiesto seems about right. Long track record. A few years ago, I passed by a retirement home, and I was surprised to hear Tiesto booming out from the windows.

Bad Company

New Mexico man flees to Florida and mixes with a bad crowd of bikers and FBI agents:
When Apodaca first came to the attention of the FBI, he was living in a trailer in Davie, Fla., north of Miami, behind the clubhouse of the”Dirty White Boys Motorcycle Club,” which prosecutors say supports more notorious motorcycle gangs such as the Outlaws.

...The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported that a fellow white supremacist-turned-FBI-informant testified at trial that at the Davie clubhouse, Apodaca had told him “tales of violence,” including about his role in McGuire’s slaying. In response, Apodaca testified that the stories of violence were just bravado, referring to them as “tall tales and legends.”

Regardless, the FBI in Miami was intrigued enough to open up an investigation into Apodaca in May 2016, supposedly to “mitigate any potential threats posed by Apodaca and to determine whether he was engaging in criminal activities.”

The agents didn’t find any evidence that he was.

So in September 2016 they introduced themselves, posing as “affluent violent members of a criminal organization with white supremacy extremist beliefs” in a covert undercover warehouse in Broward County, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Hurricane Bud Moisture

Forecasts of lots of Hurricane Bud moisture entering NM/Arizona this weekend. It'll be interesting to see how much rain might fall, and where. Here's the current idea.

Flint-Knapping as a Path To Human Speech

I like this argument:
Kolodny’s arguments build off the groundbreaking experiments of Dietrich Stout, an anthropologist at Emory University. A flintknapper himself, Stout has taught hundreds of students how to make Acheulean-era tools, and he’s tracked their brain activity during the learning process. Stout found that his students’ white matter—or the neural connectivity in their brains—increased as they gained competence in flintknapping. His research suggests that producing complex tools spurred an increase in brain size and other aspects of hominin evolution, including—perhaps—the emergence of language.

But language couldn’t just pop out fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus. “Every evolutionary process, including the evolution of language, has to be incremental and composed of small steps, each of which independently needs to be beneficial,” Kolodny explains. Teaching, he says, was a crucial part of the process. When hominins like Homo ergaster and Homo erectus taught their close relatives how to make complex tools, they worked their way into an ever more specialized cultural niche, with evolutionary advantage going to those individuals who were not only adept at making and using complex tools, but who were also able—at the same time—to communicate in more and more sophisticated ways.

85 Percent Of Gun-Owning Parents Did Not Practice Safe Gun Storage

Depressing, but not surprising statistic: "85 percent of gun-owning parents did not practice safe gun storage and 72 percent believed their young children could differentiate a toy gun from a real gun.":
Children who participate in gun safety programs often ignore what they learned when encountering a real firearm, according to a Rutgers School of Nursing study.

The report, published recently in Health Promotion Practice, reviewed 10 studies on the effectiveness of strategies for teaching gun safety to children ages 4 to 9. The researchers found such programs do not reduce the likelihood that children will handle guns when they are unsupervised, that boys are more likely than girls to ignore gun-safety rules and that few studies exist of gun-safety programs for children beyond the fourth grade.

The Deserter

An Air Force officer who deserted in 1983 and was just rediscovered in California. Strange. Was at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, and is now imprisoned not far away, at Travis AFB in Fairfield. Still, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have an alternate identity. A chance to start over:
Hughes was assigned to temporary duty in the Netherlands, working with NATO to test its new Airborne Warning and Control System, designed to be used for surveillance, command and control, battle space management and communications. He was expected to return to duty at Kirtland on Aug. 1, 1983.

He never showed up.

His car was found at the Albuquerque airport and a search of his home in the 1900 block of Chandelle Loop NE revealed notes of planned activities and books to read upon his return, according to reports.

Hughes was seen in the Albuquerque area withdrawing more than $28,000 from bank accounts, according to the AFOSI news release.

After the Air Force formally declared Hughes a deserter in December 1983, his family said in an Associated Press article printed in the Journal on Jan. 20, 1984, they believed he had been abducted.

Story of My Life

Idiots By The Dozen

Never learned a damn thing:
A State Department spokeswoman has been ridiculed for citing the D-Day invasion as an example of America’s “very strong relationship” with Germany.

“We have a very strong relationship with the government of Germany,” Heather Nauert said.

“Looking back in the history books, today is the 71st anniversary of the speech that announced the Marshall Plan. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion. We obviously have a very long history with the government of Germany, and we have a strong relationship with the government of Germany.”

What Happens When a Bad-Tempered, Distractible Doofus Runs an Empire?

Pretty much like we got now:

One of the many things that Wilhelm was convinced he was brilliant at, despite all evidence to the contrary, was “personal diplomacy,” fixing foreign policy through one-on-one meetings with other European monarchs and statesmen. In fact, Wilhelm could do neither the personal nor the diplomacy, and these meetings rarely went well. The Kaiser viewed other people in instrumental terms, was a compulsive liar, and seemed to have a limited understanding of cause and effect. In 1890, he let lapse a long-standing defensive agreement with Russia—the German Empire’s vast and sometimes threatening eastern neighbor. He judged, wrongly, that Russia was so desperate for German good will that he could keep it dangling. Instead, Russia immediately made an alliance with Germany’s western neighbor and enemy, France. Wilhelm decided he would charm and manipulate Tsar Nicholas II (a “ninny” and a “whimperer,” according to Wilhelm, fit only “to grow turnips”) into abandoning the alliance. In 1897, Nicholas told Wilhelm to get lost; the German-Russian alliance withered.

Your government at work:
That’s where Solomon Lartey comes in. The records management analyst has spent hours tediously attempting to piece together pages ripped apart by the commander in chief. Spending his days piecing together the world’s most important government transparency “jigsaw puzzle,” scores the staffer just a little over $65,000 annually.

Sometimes his job is easy. Papers torn in half or quarters make for a simple day in the office. Others, however, “would be torn into pieces so small they looked like confetti.”

While the Republican leader campaigned on the importance of transparency, his administration and cabinet appointees have taken a different approach. For president himself, old habits die hard. His “process” is an “unofficial filing system” in which he rips papers to pieces when he’s finished with them. Sometimes they make it into the trash, others they are strewn about in the Oval Office.

Rather than trying to teach an old dog new tricks, the staff decided simply to clean up after him.

“We got Scotch tape, the clear kind,” Lartey told Politico in an interview. “You found pieces and taped them back together and then you gave it back to the supervisor.”

Papers would then be sent to the National Archives where they would be filed.

“I had a letter from Schumer — he tore it up,” he said. “It was the craziest thing ever. He ripped papers into tiny pieces.”

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Thursday Night Fierce Funk


I don't pay much attention to genetics, but I was really struck by this article. I had learned that the discovery of DNA had proven Darwinian evolution - evolution by natural selection - as correct, and pushed Lamarckian evolution - evolution by inheritance of acquired characteristics - into the realm of fiction.

The role of methylation in affecting gene expression, however, may make evolution more Lamarckian in nature.

It reminds me of back when I was a kid. I took a population of tadpoles and put them in a tub. The remaining mud-puddle population quickly grew legs and hopped away as tiny toads as the mud puddle dried out. The tub population, however, just became fatter tadpoles, developing legs only very late. Somehow their growth was being affected by the availability of water. Pretty amazing stuff!:
As scientists came to better understand the function of methylation in altering gene expression, they realized that extreme environmental stress—the results of which had earlier seemed self-explanatory—could have additional biological effects on the organisms that suffered it. Experiments with laboratory animals have now shown that these outcomes are based on the transmission of acquired changes in genetic function. Childhood abuse, trauma, famine, and ethnic prejudice may, it turns out, have long-term consequences for the functioning of our genes.

These effects arise from a newly recognized genetic mechanism called epigenesis, which enables the environment to make long-lasting changes in the way genes are expressed. Epigenesis does not change the information coded in the genes or a person’s genetic makeup—the genes themselves are not affected—but instead alters the manner in which they are “read” by blocking access to certain genes and preventing their expression. This mechanism can be the hidden cause of our feelings of depression, anxiety, or paranoia. What is perhaps most surprising of all, this alteration could, in some cases, be passed on to future generations who have never directly experienced the stresses that caused their forebears’ depression or ill health.