Monday, April 06, 2020

Armor Made of Toilet Paper

I didn't really need any toilet paper - I had bought a bundle just before the big rush started - but given the empty shelves, I worried about eventually running out.

Today, I found and bought another bundle of toilet paper. It's impressive, the sense of well-being one gets from having a supply that should last for months.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

The Real Heroes of the Coronavirus Emergency: Insurers

Taking names and kicking ass:
On Thursday, Howard-Browne announced he was calling off all services for the following Sunday in order to protect his flock from “the antagonistic climate” stirred up since his arrest. This came even after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis carved out an economy-size loophole for churches that allows them to circumvent a stay-at-home order he issued just 24 hours earlier.

The order bans all mass gatherings of 10 or more people, but at the same time declared religious services to be an “essential activity.” On Thursday, DeSantis issued a memo that declared his memo would “supersede any conflicting action or order” at the local level–effectively giving the green light for churches to meet with no restrictions on how many people can come. This move had local officials shaking their heads. For instance, Hillsborough County Commission chairman Les Miller said, “Our hospitals better get ready.”

So why is Howard-Browne keeping his church doors closed even though DeSantis effectively cleared the way for him to reopen? Well, Staver may have let the reason slip while declaring victory to Liberty Counsel’s Facebook followers–this whole affair left The River without an insurer.

...It’s hard not to blame that insurer for cutting and running in this situation. Since this pandemic mushroomed, there has been story after story about outbreaks of coronavirus that can be directly tied to church functions. Many of these occurred despite the churches taking every precaution in the book and urging people to stay home if they didn’t feel comfortable.

The message is obvious–this virus has spread to the point that it is simply not worth the risk to hold in-person services. Apparently The River’s insurer realized this. It’s not unreasonable to assume that company officials repeatedly told Howard-Browne that his course was reckless, and that his arrest gave the insurer the legal cover it needed to drop him.

Despite DeSantis’ inexplicable move, there hasn’t been an influx of churches announcing they’re throwing their doors open on Sunday. Apparently they know that if even one person catches this disease and it can be traced back to a church gathering, it won’t matter whether or not that church was committing a crime. The public outcry would be more than that church and the insurer would be able to withstand. After all, the bar for acceptable behavior is set higher than the bar below which you go to jail.

Under the circumstances, it’s hard to believe that any reputable insurance company would want to go anywhere near Howard-Browne or his church, no matter what DeSantis and Staver may say. Whoever decided to drop Howard-Browne and effectively keep his church doors closed deserves a medal.

Covid-19, and the Oil Business

Trouble in the oil patch:
Rogers, who also worked as an adviser to oil giant BP and its auditors on liability estimates and disclosures arising from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, describes fracking as being “like a Ponzi scheme, it only works as long as you continue to get new suckers to sustain growth.”

The global spread of the COVID-19 virus has caused both supply and demand for global goods to plummet as factories are shuttered, workers stay home, and businesses are ordered to close or cut their hours drastically by states across the U.S. Jets are grounded as people cease traveling, and talk of an ongoing global recession, or even depression, is now commonplace.

Oil prices sank to nearly $20 per barrel, the lowest price in more than 18 years, due to the combination of the ongoing global pandemic coupled with an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which has caused a supply glut – ironically, one that is also exacerbated by fracking itself. (Most oil companies in New Mexico that are fracking need oil to be $50 per barrel just to break even.)

The Financial Times recently ran a story which posited, “Oil crash only a foretaste of what awaits energy industry: The end of hydrocarbons as a lucrative business is a real possibility. We are seeing that in dramatic form in the current oil price crash.” Oil companies are already announcing major cuts in spending in response to the rapid devaluation of stock prices. American oil companies are now frantically racing to restructure their massive debt, as the price war appears poised to cause numerous bankruptcies across the entire shale patch. Seven of the most active companies involved in fracking in Texas have already cut $7.6 billion from their budgets as a response to the oil price collapse.

...“I don’t know from a financial standpoint that it ever becomes a calamity, but it becomes a calamity if we depend on this oil and gas and think it’s going to grow forever,” she told the host. “People forget about the idea that somebody had to pay the money back. And so, I think there is an analogy to this today when I get asked the question, ‘Why on Earth would Wall Street fund these guys [frackers] if it’s this uneconomic? You must be wrong.’ I say no, no, no, just look at the history of Wall Street: they’ve funded plenty of things that are uneconomic at the end of the day.”

...Rogers sees what he calls a “tsunami of bankruptcies” across New Mexico, Colorado and California that appear imminent. The earthquake in this case is the peaking demand for oil and gas. “The tsunami, then, is all the asset retirement obligations that come sweeping in after the earthquake that a lot of people hadn’t anticipated,” he said.

But Rogers also gave another warning: “The interesting twist is from financial markets that are always looking ahead and pricing in futures. If the markets become keenly aware of the impending tsunami, they will price this into current costs, in which case the tsunami accelerates the earthquake.”

Rogers continues, “Say you are JP Morgan and lend oil and gas a lot of cash, and you figure out this is a permanent decline in the industry, and there is $400 billion of ARO debt out there, and most of that is positioned ahead of you to pay states before you get paid,” Rogers said. “Do you want to keep loaning money? Not likely. So that would be a way of the tsunami causing the earthquake. I think that is what is going to happen here.”

...The long-term outlook for the global oil and gas industry, given the climate crisis and now the global pandemic, does indeed look bleak. Additionally, given that Saudi Arabia and Russia have large petroleum reserves and the lowest production costs in the world, the current oil glut does not bode well, according to Rogers.

“They are saying, If climate change and the energy transition means that oil is to be left in the ground, it’s not going to be our oil that goes unburned,” he said. “The U.S. can’t survive a sustained price war, and they know it.”

From Rogers’s perspective, New Mexico’s time to extract itself from the dying industry it has tied so much of its budget to, is now.

“The coronavirus is an ideal opportunity for Russia and Saudi Arabia to do what is in their economic interest and also within their power — bury the U.S. oil and gas industry involved in fracking once and for all.”

Setting Global Air Currents Closer To Normal

Repairing the ozone layer:
The shred of good news comes as scientists observe that the ozone layer over Antarctica has recovered to the point that several atmospheric changes in the Earth’s southern hemisphere have come to a halt. Before the start of the century, the changes were enough to cause dramatic change in weather patterns in several parts of the world.

A new study now suggests that the reversing conditions or in more optimistic words, the healing of the Earth, can be accredited to the Montreal Protocol signed by the world leaders back in 1987. The pact directed nations across the globe to stop using ozone depleting substances (ODSs) for several applications.

By the time the pact came into effect, Ozone depletion had already caused the fast air currents (called jet streams) in the southern hemisphere to shift further south, causing changes in weather patterns and a dry spell in many areas accustomed to rainfall. This southward drift of the jet streams suddenly stopped after more than a decade of the Montreal Protocol, around the year 2000. Only last year, the Ozone layer hole over Antarctica was recorded to be at its smallest since 1982.

Two Markets, and Toilet Paper

Not much hoarding going on:
Story after story explains the toilet paper outages as a sort of fluke of consumer irrationality. Unlike hand sanitizer, N95 masks, or hospital ventilators, they note, toilet paper serves no special function in a pandemic. Toilet paper manufacturers are cranking out the same supply as always. And it’s not like people are using the bathroom more often, right?

...Faced with this mystifying phenomenon, media outlets have turned to psychologists to explain why people are cramming their shelves with a household good that has nothing to do with the pandemic. Read the coverage and you’ll encounter all sorts of fascinating concepts, from “zero risk bias” to “anticipatory anxiety.” It’s “driven by fear” and a “herd mentality,” the BBC scolded. The libertarian Mises Institute took the opportunity to blame anti-gouging laws. The Atlantic published a short documentary harking back to the great toilet paper scare of 1973, which was driven by misinformation.

...There’s another, entirely logical explanation for why stores have run out of toilet paper — one that has gone oddly overlooked in the vast majority of media coverage. It has nothing to do with psychology and everything to do with supply chains. It helps to explain why stores are still having trouble keeping it in stock, weeks after they started limiting how many a customer could purchase.

In short, the toilet paper industry is split into two, largely separate markets: commercial and consumer. The pandemic has shifted the lion’s share of demand to the latter. People actually do need to buy significantly more toilet paper during the pandemic — not because they’re making more trips to the bathroom, but because they’re making more of them at home. With some 75% of the U.S. population under stay-at-home orders, Americans are no longer using the restrooms at their workplace, in schools, at restaurants, at hotels, or in airports.

Everything is Coronavirus These Days

Everyone thought "let's visit some tourist towns!" at the same time:
Stacy Corless opened Facebook on Monday and saw someone suggest it was time to start slashing visitors’ tires.

It was startling evidence to Corless, a Mono County Supervisor, that a frantic fear of outsiders had gripped some people in the ski resort community of Mammoth Lakes.

“I’m really concerned about the level of vitriol and xenophobia,” she said. “I’m worried someone is going to get shot.”

Mono County over the weekend banned most short-term vacation rentals in an effort to prevent tourists from carrying the new coronavirus into the isolated, resource-strapped community. The decision followed a wave of similar announcements that have derailed ski trips, hobbled backpacking plans, and landed a devastating blow to local tourism-dependent economies across the West.

After Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide shelter-in-place order last week, longstanding tensions between locals and tourists have begun simmering in new ways. Hundreds of thousands of urbanites have crowded trails, swarmed beaches and holed up in vacation homes and rentals across the state. Newsom’s order said people were still allowed to go outside and exercise, but it didn’t set limits on where they could go.

A short-lived offer from the folks at the antiques store:

Several pix from a walk on March 24th: a sunset, a box of misfit toys, and a chalked sidewalk.

Mysterious, silent response by emergency personnel in my neighborhood in the middle of the night. Curious, and no answers.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Some Hope For California

This came out on March 30th. Grounds for optimism. We might actually flatten that damned curve. Zombies better look elsewhere for brains.
The coronavirus crisis will create peak demand on California's health care resources on April 26, but the state will be likely able to meet the need for hospital beds, according to a state-by-state forecast from researchers at the University of Washington's medical school.

The Golden State will see more than 4,300 deaths due to coronavirus, with fatalities continuing into August, the forecast found as of Monday. The numbers are expected to peak with about 100 deaths per day in late April.

The state-by-state projections were published last week by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the university in Seattle. The modeling is being updated daily, and the figures available for California on Monday show improvement since the forecast's March 26 release.

The state has been preparing for a surge that will require two-thirds increase in hospital system capacity, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday, when a top state health official indicated the state's own "very dynamic" modeling indicated a peak in the second half of May.

...Across the country, demand for ventilators and beds in hospital intensive care units is expected to far exceed capacity when need peaks on April 15, and deaths from the virus will continue into July, the researchers found.

"An estimated need of 224,321 total beds (33,440 for ICU) and 26,753 ventilators at peak could be devastating for hospitals and health workers nationwide," an update published Monday stated.

The data is based on observed death rates and an expectation of continuing adherence to social distancing guidelines throughout the pandemic — and on states that have not already adopted such measures doing so within the next week.

...California's peak is 11 days behind the U.S. average, which should occur April 15, according to the institute's projections.

At the predicted April 26 peak, California will have enough ICU beds to meet peak demand for COVID-19 patients, with 1,564 intensive care beds needed out of 1,993 available, the forecast stated.

A worst-case projection, however, shows the state falling far short of a possible 3,417 ICU beds needed.

...“The truth of the matter is none of us really know,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer said. “We’re all making the best guess that we can using the different modeling techniques that are available.”

The fact that no one has ever experienced this virus before makes it very difficult to make accurate predictions, but we'll know more when we see this week if county rates continue to double or triple, she said.

She praised those in the nation's most populous county — with some 10 million residents — for practicing social distancing and isolation.

“If we’re really good at this … we might have a different trajectory here in L.A. County," Ferrer said. "I don’t know for sure, but that’s the hope I offer: Let's get really good at what we know we can do to dampen the curve."

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Sorry For The Light Posting

I've been focused on updating the spreadsheet version of the DMTC Master cast List. Fell down a rabbit hole there. Days of work, but now it's updated!

Monday, March 23, 2020

China's Bat Woman

Really interesting article:BEIJING—The mysterious patient samples arrived at Wuhan Institute of Virology at 7 P.M. on December 30, 2019. Moments later, Shi Zhengli’s cell phone rang. It was her boss, the institute’s director. The Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention had detected a novel coronavirus in two hospital patients with atypical pneumonia, and it wanted Shi’s renowned laboratory to investigate. If the finding was confirmed, the new pathogen could pose a serious public health threat—because it belonged to the same family of bat-borne viruses as the one that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a disease that plagued 8,100 people and killed nearly 800 of them between 2002 and 2003. “Drop whatever you are doing and deal with it now,” she recalls the director saying.

Shi—a virologist who is often called China’s “bat woman” by her colleagues because of her virus-hunting expeditions in bat caves over the past 16 years—walked out of the conference she was attending in Shanghai and hopped on the next train back to Wuhan. “I wondered if [the municipal health authority] got it wrong,” she says. “I had never expected this kind of thing to happen in Wuhan, in central China.” Her studies had shown that the southern, subtropical areas of Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan have the greatest risk of coronaviruses jumping to humans from animals—particularly bats, a known reservoir for many viruses. If coronaviruses were the culprit, she remembers thinking, “could they have come from our lab?”

...In many bat dwellings Shi has sampled, including Shitou Cave, “constant mixing of different viruses creates a great opportunity for dangerous new pathogens to emerge,” says Ralph Baric, a virologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And in the vicinity of such viral melting pots, Shi says, “you don’t need to be a wildlife trader to be infected.”

...On the train back to Wuhan on December 30 last year, Shi and her colleagues discussed ways to immediately start testing the patient samples. In the following weeks—the most intense and the most stressful time of her life—China’s bat woman felt she was fighting a battle in her worst nightmare, even though it was one she had been preparing for over the past 16 years. Using a technique called polymerase chain reaction, which can detect a virus by amplifying its genetic material, the first round of tests showed that samples from five of seven patients contained genetic sequences known to be present in all coronaviruses.

...By January 7 the Wuhan team determined that the new virus had indeed caused the disease those patients suffered—a conclusion based on results from polymerase chain reaction analysis, full genome sequencing, antibody tests of blood samples and the virus’s ability to infect human lung cells in a petri dish. The genomic sequence of the virus—now officially called SARS-CoV-2 because it is related to the SARS pathogen—was 96 percent identical to that of a coronavirus the researchers had identified in horseshoe bats in Yunnan, they reported in a paper published last month in Nature. “It’s crystal clear that bats, once again, are the natural reservoir,” says Daszak, who was not involved in the study.
In 2004, an international team of scientists takes blood and swab samples from bats at night in order to discover potential bat-borne pathogens.

...Many scientists say the world should move beyond merely responding to deadly pathogens when they arise. “The best way forward is prevention,” Daszak says. Because 70 percent of animal-borne emerging infectious diseases come from wild creatures, “where we should start is to find all those viruses in wildlife globally and develop better diagnostic tests,” he adds. Doing so would essentially mean rolling out what researchers such as Daszak and Shi have been doing on a much bigger scale.

Such efforts should focus on high-risk viral groups in certain mammals prone to coronavirus infections, such as bats, rodents, badgers, civets, pangolins, and nonhuman primates, Daszak says. He adds that developing countries in the tropics, where wildlife diversity is greatest, should be the front line of this battle against viruses.

...Back in Wuhan, China’s bat woman has decided to retire from the front line of virus-hunting expeditions. “But the mission must go on,” says Shi, who will continue to lead research programs. “What we have uncovered is just the tip of an iceberg.” Daszak’s team has estimated that there are as many as 5,000 coronavirus strains waiting to be discovered in bats globally. Shi is planning a national project to systematically sample viruses in bat caves—with much greater scope and intensity than her team’s previous attempts.

“Bat-borne coronaviruses will cause more outbreaks,” she says with a tone of brooding certainty. “We must find them before they find us.”

"Hey, I Didn't Even Eat the Mousse!"

The GOP Embraces Death

A breathtaking new leap by the Republicans, to literally sacrifice the nation's elderly to disease, in order to preserve a good economy, family values be damned.

As long as the GOP runs on this death platform in November!
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Monday night that he's "not living in fear" of the novel coronavirus pandemic and is "all in" on lifting social distancing guidelines recommended by public health experts in order to help the economy.

Patrick, who said he turns 70 next week, would be among the high-risk population that is most affected by the coronavirus. But he said people like him have to weigh the hazards to their personal health that the virus poses with the challenges to health of the American economy brought on by social distancing guidelines.

"No one reached out to me and said, 'As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?' And if that is the exchange, I'm all in," Patrick told Fox News.

He added, "My messages is that let's get back to work, let's get back to living. Let's be smart about it and those of us who are 70+, we'll take care of ourselves. But don't sacrifice the country."

Answer to Question No One Asked

Sunday, March 22, 2020


Harvey Weinstein has been exposed to coronavirus:
According to the Niagara-Gazette, the ailing and aging Weinstein is being housed in the notorious Rikers Island jail, where there are reports of two cases of the virus. It’s unclear if Weinstein was the first case or if he contracted it from that case.
Rand Paul too:
Paul’s Twitter account announced “Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19. He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person,” making him the first senator to be afflicted.

Social Distance

Better Air Quality

I was curious how far air pollution levels had fallen in the South Coast due to coronavirus, so I plotted up 24-hour average PM2.5 levels (Particulate Matter less than 2.5 micron diameter) for a normally fairly-polluted site (Long Beach) for the last month.

It looks like typical levels have fallen about half, from 14 to 7 ug/m3.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Had Just Laid Down on the Couch. Sat Up.

Felt this quake yesterday evening. Entertainment center made a noise.

M 4.5 - 6km N of Johnson Lane, Nevada
2020-03-21 01:33:35 (UTC)
39.111°N 119.736°W 8.4 km depth

Friday, March 20, 2020

Went to the DMV Today

Hardly anybody in the parking lot! Still, I was greeted by people who said do everything online. Basically, the message was the same as that voiced here near the start:

World of Hurt for the Non-Profits

Survival mode:
Nonprofit leaders and boards: Be tough-minded. Nonprofits must go into cash-conservation mode. It is hard to stiff vendors, lay people off, furlough or reduce pay or take advantage of eviction-stays to simply not pay the rent. But a tough restructuring allowing for survival and the continuation of the mission (which is a nonprofit's sole reason for being) is far better than hitting the wall and closing up shop altogether.

Sleeping Under The Kitchen Table

V.K. is an actress friend from Utah who did several shows at DMTC a few years ago, notably 2015's "Sweeney Todd," which I stage-managed.

V.K. got rattled by the earthquakes near Salt Lake City, and responded to my Facebook post about it:

V.K.: I've been in it. The first earthquake woke me up and the aftershocks have been almost non stop.

M.V.: Hi! Hope you are well. You're down around Midvale, right? Theater was cancelled at lightning speed around here due to coronavirus. Same with you?

V.K.: I'm in West Jordan. Theater has been cancelled too and Evermore where I worked shut down temporarily.

M.V.: So sad! Could do a plague primer there, but reality is a little too close.

V.K.: Yeah, I'm just hoping all this crazy stuff calms down soon. I'm honestly okay being quarantined for a bit because its been giving me more time to spend with my family and to write, but the earthquakes are not that cool haha.

M.V.: Nature isn't cooperating. Could self-isolate outside in the cold.

V.K.: Utah has been over do for a huge earthquake for awhile. This was was big and did some damage but wasn't too big. I'm hoping the aftershocks are keeping a bigger earthquake at bay for the future. It's very unlikely that one greater than the 5.6 hits very soon, but my family is all sleeping upstairs and we've got our jackets and shoes right by the door. I'm currently held up in a fort underneath my kitchen table and sleeping with my dog. Aftershocks have been somewhat tame for the most part, we had a couple 4.0's and one 4.6 I believe and they've been pretty constant up until a couple hours ago. I believe we've had more than a hundred by now.

V.K.: There was a big power outage for some people. Airport started flooding and we had a chemical spill in one of the mines as well. Today has been a very interesting day.

M.V.: I wonder why the airport started flooding? I'm glad you are keeping your dog company, and have a shield over you both. Still, uncomfortable. I have a friend in New Zealand who had a major quake nearly under his house. He said the ground trembled nearly constantly for a couple of months. Hope things calm down for you.

V.K.: I'm hoping they do too. The first earthquake was the scariest. I have major anxiety so when I woke up my brain wasn't processing what was happening. I just remember the whole room shaking and things beginning to fall off the walls and bookshelves. It felt like our house was just a toy being shaken by a little kid. I always slept through the earthquakes in California. This one was loud though. Mother earth sounded very angry.

M.V.: That experience of waking up in confusion. I once had that. I woke up to a big boom. I jumped up and ran outside. I saw a glow on the horizon and thought it was a huge fire in the distance. Then, suddenly, I was wet. I slowly realized the glow was from distant city lights and the boom was from thunder. There was a little thundercloud right above the house.

V.K.: Yeah my first thought was that someone dropped a bomb. It was a lot like that dream I feel a lot of people have, where you're falling and as soon as you hit the ground you wake up. It felt like that, except I was awake. I'm having a hard time falling asleep because I don't want to wake up to that again. Luckily I'm under the table so I don't have as much of a fear that the ceiling is going to crush me.

M.V.: Right! Take care, and keep your dog from getting overly-anxious too.

V.K.: I've got three haha. They've actually been really good through out all of this and they listen to me when I tell them to get under the table. They can sense it a little before each one happens. I can see their ears perking up and I know its time to get under the table again

M.V.: Wow! Good to have those dogs with you!

V.K.: Yes! I was worried that they would try to run when the aftershocks hit, but they're starting to get into the routine of going under the table now. Nala, my rottie has been extremely sweet too. She's usually very puppy like, but today she's been sleeping at my feet or sitting calmly by my side. I'm not sure if she's scared or if she's trying to be protective, but its good to know she's got my back.

M.V.: Are you in school these days, or has it been cancelled?

V.K.: I've just been working, but most schools have been cancelled because of the virus

M.V.: Is Evermore fun?

V.K.: Yes, very. They have a wonderful group of actors and a great community.

M.V.: Well, time to walk my dog (I'm a night owl, and prowl the streets at night). The very best to you!

V.K.: You as well! Stay safe!

More Coronavirus

Remember, this guy flunked out of Yuba Community College:
Rep. Don Young (R-AK) poked fun at the fatal COVID-19 outbreak and dismissed the notion of taking cautionary measures to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

Young made the comments during a meeting on Friday with senior citizens and members of the state’s Chamber of Commerce in Palmer, Alaska, according to the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman. The comments were first reported this week.

“This ‘beer virus’ I call it – they call it a coronavirus, I call it a beer virus, how do you like that? – it attacks our senior citizens,” he said. “Now I’m one of you. I still say we have to as a nation, as a state to go forth with our everyday activities.”

I love Randy Rainbow!

Missed this, but love it!

The U.S. May Lead On This

Neighborhood Watch

On last night's walk, Jasper and I rounded the corner where Jasper's girlfriend, a mini-dachshund named Ladybug, lives in an upstairs apartment with her two owners, J. & M. At the corner across the street, a man was straining to reach high up a telephone pole - and also humping the telephone pole. Jasper and I walked past, and crossed the street. The strange man stopped humping the telephone pole and started striding towards us.

Then I heard a female voice, unseen, coming from somewhere. I've seen a crazy woman lingering around the corner lately, and figured it might be her. The man stopped, began saying something, and started walking away, towards the railroad. I still couldn't pin down the female voice.

Just then I noticed the voice was coming from Ladybug's owners' apartment. Apparently J. had witnessed the strange man start to approach me. "He was trying to get close to you. No way was I going to let that happen," she said.

It's nice to have neighbors that keep an eye out for you.

Two Hymns

On the occasion of Rachel's Great Aunt's Alice Vaught's funeral.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Bad Year For Rain, But Great Year For Flowers!

This bush by the back yard gate really went nuts!

Woodland Opera House's "Of Mice and Men" - March 7, 2020

John Ewing, Jason Hammond, and the rest of the crew did an amazing job with John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men." Very tense at times. Director Gil Sebastian mentioned how nice it was and how the actors took direction very well (seven of the ten actors were directors as well, so they understood and implemented his instructions).

Sacramento's Tower Bridge

Impressed by the Very Tight Cluster of Earthquakes

Biggest, magnitude M5.7, just east of the Kennecott tailings pond, near the shore of the Great Salt Lake, just west of Salt Lake City.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Census Enumerator

In a world of gig work, I may have found a new niche for summer: as a census enumerator. We'll see what lies ahead.

World of Hurt in the Rainy Season

We finally are getting a little bit of rain after a desiccated two months at the height of the California rainy season. We have only one month left and here in Sacramento we are only at 45% of a normal rainy season. It's hopeless, but we've got to get as much as possible now before the summer heat and the dread fires come.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Rule of Planets in Solar Systems

The pattern I found on that sunny afternoon: planets in the same system tend to be the same size. For example, if one planet is 1.5 times the radius of Earth, the other planets in the system are very likely to be 1.5 times the radius of Earth, plus or minus a little bit.

This is not at all what my colleagues and I expected. In our solar system, planets range from the size of Mercury (less than half the radius of Earth) to Jupiter (more than ten times the radius of Earth). The whole population of exoplanets discovered by Kepler ranges from one quarter the size of Earth to about twenty times the size of Earth. Yet, despite this wide range of possible sizes, planets tend to be about the same sizes as their neighbors. One of my collaborators decided they looked like “peas in a pod,” and that moniker became our shorthand for the pattern.

The Upside: More Republicans Will Die Than Democrats

Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.

Communists Used to be the Enemy of Capitalism. Now, It's Little Viral Bits

And why does his background happen to be that of downtown Albuquerque? Is ABQ the last bastion of reasonableness in America? It would be the first time ever ABQ had that role:

“I am TIRED of all this, “we have to err on the side of caution” BULL SH*T. WE HAVE TO GET BACK TO REASONABLENESS DAMMIT. It’s the DAMN FLU. Stop being afraid and start being SENSIBLE. WASH YOUR FUCK*NG HANDS! STOP BUYING TOILET PAPER. DO YOU FUC*ING HEAR ME????”

A Good Description of Exponential Growth and "Flattening the Curve"

Like the Monte-Carlo-like simulations in this link. We're still in the exponential growth part. The curve won't flatten for some weeks.

Kevin Drum has his charts showing we are following Italy's footsteps.

This chart too.

Too Soon

Ethics Training w/ Kim Wexler: Self-Care - Better Call Saul


Unexpected, but here it is:
The nation's nerds woke up in a utopia this morning, one where everyone stays inside, sporting events are being canceled, and all social interaction is forbidden.

All types of nerds, from social introverts to hardcore PC gamers, welcomed the dawn of this new era, privately from their own homes.

"I have been waiting my whole life for this moment," said Ned Pendleton, 32 -- via text message, of course -- as he fired up League of Legends on his beefy gaming PC. "They told me to take up a sport and that the kids playing basketball and stuff were gonna be way more successful than us nerds who played Counter-Strike at LAN parties every weekend."

"They all laughed at me. Well, who's laughing now?"

Friday, March 13, 2020