Thursday, February 29, 2024

Your dose of Penguins to make you smile.


 

Expected and Unexpected Climate Changes in California

 I wish I still had electronic access to my old blogger stuff. But the internet moves on, and so I don't. However I definitely do remember pontificating about the changes in weather in California that were expected.

About 1980 / 81, while I was still at UCLA, we discussed and investigated how climate change would affect California. The conclusion we had then was that rainfall would increase - we were right. We also thought snow would decrease and it appears that we were wrong there.


I pointed out that Southern California was not built for this. The infrastructure was built to move rainwater to the ocean as quickly as possible to avoid flooding and use the snowmelt from the San Gabriel Mountains for water. Only now is California changing its infrastructure direction to do this.

This is the problem with climate change. First, people did not listen then - and still do not really work to mitigate the effects. We knew what was going to happen 40 years ago and could have prevented the worse outcomes, but short-term costs overrode considerations. Our parents or grandparents (of those younger than I) chose to ignore the problems, save money on taxes, and let future generations pay for it. that bill is due now, and it is VASTLY more expensive than it should be because we ignored the problem for so long.

Second, we denigrate the scientists who try to project into the future and provide direction. We listen to experts when we want, i.e. "Will it rain tomorrow, I have a concert?" But we ignore experts when we don't like the answer, cigarettes, traffic, pollution, etc. Each of these issues had to overpower our responses before we addressed them.

If this reads like "I told you so," then I have done a bad job explaining. This is more of a plea to listen and act quickly going forward. 

Well, it turns out there ARE People Above the Law

 Our system of government is broken. Not just by the random idiocies of Congress but much, much worse. Or at least much worse to me. 

Our Supreme Court -which has allowed Christians to discriminate, overturned Abortion rights for women, allowed unlimited guns to flood every state and has basically taken a hatchet to the Constitution and our rights - has given Trump a free pass.

Trump was scheduled to start multiple trials in the spring. The most important was the trial adjudicating his complicity in the January 6th insurrection. You know, TREASON.

Here is the short version. The prosecutor in the Jan 6 case is Jack Smith. Last December, Jack went to the Supreme Court and asked them to decide if Trump was immune from prosecution on Jan 6th. The Supreme Court took a few weeks but ultimately said he had to go to the lower court first. 

The lower court quickly-ish (a month) said he was not immune. Furthermore, the lower court laid out and conclusively rebutted all of Trump's lawyer's points. 

The ruling was designed for a quick review by the Supreme Court, and was ready on Jan 23rd. At the end of January, Trump appealed to the Supreme Court and asked to review the decision. They gave each side a week to respond to the request arguments - Smith responded in a day as everyone knew this was coming. 

Yesterday - a couple of weeks later, the Supreme Court decided to hear the case. They scheduled the hearing for April 22nd - 7 weeks from now. The ruling will then come at the end of June. Because of the delay from January to end of June, the serious trials can not be held until after the election. This gives Trump, the Traitor, a nice reprieve from prosecution.

If Trump wins the election, he can stop all the trials AND declare himself pardoned (by himself), or just stop the trials. (If he loses the election, he will probably be pardoned by the Democrat to "heal the country.") By delaying the decision, he is given the free pass.

Some will (wrongly) say that this is "quick" for the Supreme. It is quick for a normal issue. But this is the Presidency. When the Supremes' heard the appeal for George W Bush in the Florida vote counting fiasco, they gave the parties 1 day to present, took 2 days to deliberate, and the decision was on day 4 of the appeal. So, so much for this appeal being "fast".

And so Trump is above the law. Because there is one law for the rich (and that law is fuck the little people) and there are regular laws that govern the middle class.

I am sad, angry, and resigned. All in all, not happy.

Smug Bastard


Wednesday, February 28, 2024

And now for something humorous

Post by @team.biden.24
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Bosnia: the Story of a Shrinking Nation

 The New York Times has a story today on the sad shape of Bosnia Herzegovina. HERE

It speaks of the effect of the 1992 war and the instability of the government(s) since. There are two different governments in two sections - think of them as mini-states. The first, the Bosnian-Croat section, operates in half of the nation. The Srpska Republic runs the other half of the country. It comprises the Serbian population and is trying to unify with Serbia.

As an umbrella, the nation of Bosnia Herzegovina runs the country as a whole. It comprises a tri-part agreement with the President rotating between a Serb, a Bosniak, and a Croat. The Supreme Court comprises 2 representatives of Croat, Serbian, and Bosniak populations. There are two more EU representatives on the Supreme Court, and peace is kept by the EU. This is all according to the "Dayton Accords" hammered out with help from America. The "temporary" accords are now at least 30 years old.

I had Pizza and Cevapi here! (Gravur and Bakkal respectively)

This mashup of factions and groups keeps the government paralyzed and barely functional. The capital city of Sarajevo is doing well, but the rest of the nation is losing population with an exodus of people emigrating. Many Serbs are immigrating to Serbia, Croats to Croatia, and Bosniaks to the United States.


It is a sad and heartbreaking story because I was there so often to witness it. I hoped that this would magically change when pressure was applied by the different factions during a negotiation on the constitution and institutions. It has not.

Sarajevo is such an AMAZING city with a rich history of rule by Ionians, Ottomans, Austria-Hungarians, and then Yugoslavs that I only wish everyone could see it through my eyes.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Clearly someone is fucking around...

 




Change in Bird Science

 So up until recently, the assumption about when dinosaurs into birds was about 70 million years ago.  But this may be much later than we thought. It seems that dinosaur-to-bird occurred well before this, and birds exploded afterward.

The interesting thing is the older assumption was that when the meteor hit the Earth, it cleared the path for birds to evolve and fly.


But newer information says that birds are much older than this. and their expansion into new biomes occurred well before the meteor hit. The mass extinction after the meteor did allow the birds to diversify even more, but was not the key event we once thought.

Interesting.

Some of my favorites


The don't all look like dinosaurs...

Mary Poppins?

 It is always odd when there is a backlash to words you didn't know were issues. In the US, I was surprised to learn that "squaw" was offensive. I just didn't know.

I find now that Mary Poppins was reclassified due to an offensive word that I did not know was offensive. Maybe because it isn't used in the US. 

The word that kicked this off was "Hottentot". It was a derisive word coined by the Dutch in South Africa for Black Africans. Who knew?


 

Friday, February 23, 2024

Some Gorgeous Pictures from USA Today

A Lynx being released in a rewilding project in Spain


Stunning



Stunning for a couple different reason and feeling

 

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Mexican Fan and Canary Island Palms of Los Angeles

 Every now and then, driving in LA, you will see a street or two lines with gigantic Mexican Fan Palm trees. If you transition from the 107 or 60 to the 10 downtown and look back and to the left, you can see one street where the trees retreat diagonally to the freeway. They stop at the 10, so you know they went farther before the freeway.


In parts of South Los Angeles, they march up non-descript streets.


In Beverly Hills, they march up Doheny and other upscale streets.

These are the remnants of the Mexican Fan Palms and Canary Island Date Palms planted for the 1932 Olympics. They are beautiful and super heavy. 

What happens if they fall? The supertall are about 20 tons of tree.

And how long do they last? They are at least 90 years old.

Well, it turns out we don't really know. These super tall trees are aberrations in the Mexican Fan Palm growth cycle. They are endemic to Baja California - however rare they are there now. We knew they would grow faster and taller if they were well watered and tended (Baja is notoriously dry.) These are mainly treated very well here.

The same is true about the Canary Island Palms - of what we know. They are less studied.

So, I guess we will learn when a tree falls on a house in Beverly Hills we will find out all the details. IN any case, they will be seeing their third Olympics in the city in 2028.

Unintended Consequences

 The Alabama Supreme Court has decided that embryos are people. 

Let that sink in for a moment.

They have said in their decision (by an all-male court) that a "person" happens at conception, whether in the womb or in a test tube - "extrauterine" in their documents. 

Let's examine the impact of that decision precisely.

Fun question - If an embryo is a person, does their age begin at the embryonic phase? I mean, it would add 9 months to their age, obviously. Will that be reflected on their ID? And what of embryos that are frozen for 15 years and then used. That "person" will turn legally 21 at a mental and physical age of 6. Which would be a fantastic birthday party in class. Pizza and beer!

And then there are the real questions. 

IVF produces multiple embryos, which is the basis that precipitated this legal case. A couple froze their embryos in 2020. 

A patient at the hospital somehow went into the vats, removed these embryos from the nitrogen, and dropped them on the floor - destroying the embryos. The couple sued, and the Supreme Court of Alabama agreed that the couple could sue the hospital for "Wrongful Death" for the "extrauterine embryos" because a fertilized egg is a person.

This decision threatens IVF because couples using this method produce multiple eggs but only implant them one at a time now (Phoebe Buffay was from the old method). Others are held on ice as a backup if the first, second, or third do not produce a pregnancy.

If this ruling is upheld, several other states will pass similar laws. Effectively banning IVF from large swathes of the country. And, seriously, what happens to the embryos already being held for couples. If there were two embryos at the Alabama Hospital, then there have to be more at hospitals and dedicated facilities. Are all these people now? Honestly.

Let's say a couple has two IVF kids, and they decided to get rid of the other embryos for personal reasons - money, future court cases, etc. They are now, technically, committing murder of each extrauterine embryos. Will they be prosecuted for this? The common-sense answer is no, but courts aren't guided by common sense but by the law. There have already been court cases over who controls frozen embryos 

  • Can one parent keep all of the embryos if the other parent doesn't want them?

  • In the case of #1, is the other parent on the hook for child support 
    • this happened in Kansas - when a sperm donor was forced to pay child support because the custodial parents could not afford it.

  • Can a couple destroy the extra embryos after getting pregnant? 
    • No, that is murder.

  • If a couple decides now to move their embryos to another state and then destroy the excess extrauterine embryos, then they move back to Alabama. Can they be arrested 
    • Answer: Of course, if you moved to Mississippi, killed a 6-year-old, then moved back to Alabama, the state can charge you with murder.)

  • If you did all your IVF in as "safe" state, and years later moved to Alabama, could they charge with murder? 
    • Of course - again, imagine the couple killed a 6-year-old child in another state.

  • Is an embryo that is rejected by the mother and does not result in pregnancy, is that murder? 
    • The answer is it depends on the state and the color of the mother's skin. I say this stupid answer because it has already happened for miscarriages by black mothers. Multiple women across the South have been charged with the murder of their "child" because they did something wrong during pregnancy. Maybe they drank or smoked pot or were accused of one of these by the father.

I could go through more stupid items. Can you deduct all existing embryos as dependants? Car Pool lanes? Some women have already claimed to be pregnant to drive there. Do they count for census and in electoral districts?

The Court either hasn't thought this through, or doesn't care.

Monday, February 19, 2024

We had the wrong idea all along

 


I love it when a Judge Mansplains to Us Pagans

 Oh, thank god! I had no idea that frozen embryos are children! Thank you, Alabama. You have explained that two frozen embryos accidentally dropped are worthy of a murder charge and a wrongful death. How great a Judge can explain God's rules for us all.

PS - IVF costs will skyrocket in Alabama if it is allowed at all. Which is a burden to people who actually want children, but okay.

The ruling pointed to the Alabama Constitution Section 36.06, which argues that each person was made in God’s image, meaning each life has an incalculable value that “cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God.”

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Sunday, February 18, 2024

$399.00 Trump Sneakers

No, it is not a typo. Ex-president, current candidate, and convicted felony Donald Trump was at sneaker-con (joining porn-con and militia-con*) hawking sneakers.


Now, his reception at sneaker-con appears to have been decidedly mixed, but that did not faze him. He is so used to being cheered that the noise, punctuated by boos here at sneaker-con, he smiled like they loved him. And he introduced his limited edition (1000 so far) sneakers.

They are rather hideous. Not only that, they may be much cheaper looking. The comment on the website, "the images here are for illustration purposes only and may not be an exact representation of the product" is the giveaway here that they are probably even uglier.

And they are pretty ugly. But the first 1000 sold out for $399.00 easily. I'm sure that somehow more are coming, Donnie hates to leave money on the table and he's got bills to pay. My guess is that of the $399 about $390 of it goes to pay off his bills.


*Made up -cons, but I can see Trump selling made up merch at either. I am thinking large dildo that shows up as a short, mushroomy kind. He has already hawed an AF-47 with his name on it, and a special one that was gold plated, so militia-con seems redundant.

An update on groundwater usage

Just a few days ago I posted about groundwater usage in Montana and how I thought it was a good thing (LINK). Here is a story about the opposite issue, taking too much groundwater.

Poland Springs is part of the company Great Spring Waters of America. This company owns Poland Springs, Arrowhead, and others. Unlike Coke's Desnai or Pepsi's Aquafina, the companies of Great Springs primarily get their water from springs, not filtered tap water.

Arrowhead, for those that do not know, much of the water was pumped from the aquifer around Like Arrowhead, part of the mountains around Los Angeles and Orange Counties. During the drought which lasted through 2023, California closed down some of the water gathering from these aquifers - including the pumping at Lake Arrowhead. Poland Spring water is collected from the aquifers in Maine. Many people in Maine wanted to limit Poland Springs. They were not successful.

Maine recently tried to stop water companies from exploiting the aquifer. Unlike Montana, no judge stepped in. The legislature killed the bill due to heavy lobbying from water companies.

Two steps forward, one step back.

I think one of the reasons the legislation failed is that Maine is rarely affected by drought. Legislators can more easily be swayed if they do not see the effect of their laws. In this case, a dropping aquifer is not visible and is novel in Maine.

Drought will probably happen at some point, but the short-term decisions won't catch up to these legislators, and so they put their greed first.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

New CA Condor being released

 

Post by @sarah_creates22
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Very Cool Humming Bird

 I don't think they actually hum, however.



NIMBY or Not

 For those that don't know, NIMBY stands for Not In My Back Yard, a catch-all term for objection to a public good, but only in that neighborhood. Think about building low-cost housing in a city. Residents of upper-class neighborhoods usually love the idea in the abstract but protest about being near them.

The same thing happens with building infrastructure like roads, government buildings, Mosques, Jewish Temples, prisons, etc. In California, it is NIMBYism that drives housing prices up because most homeowners are in low-density neighborhoods and object to denser buildings like apartments or condos. They don't object to the idea, only that they have to live near it.

Actually, in California, to fight local NIMBY, the state government passed a law that requires municipalities to allow small mother-in-law units on a homeowner's property.


I bring this up because Montana suffers from a massive influx of people. Partially started during Covid, when rich people could afford to scoop up housing driving the cost of homes in Montana to soar. I think the TV show "Yellowstone" is also helping to drive the moves because Montana looks gorgeous in it. To be honest, Montana is gorgeous.

Anyway, a judge just killed a housing project, not from NIMBYism, I think, but due to correct ecological reasons. The judge did not allow the project to go forward as it depends on groundwater pumping for its water supply. Groundwater pumping taps an aquifer already under pressure from urban and farming communities. It was once thought that the Ocawlla Aquifer could last forever. It is a remnant from the last ice age. A titanic aquifer across the great plains. But one that has suffered from over-pumping from Texas to Nebraska to Montana. This water in Montana has been critical as the state has suffered from moderate to severe drought for years. If the aquifer goes dry in Montana, that means the end of farming and livestock.

The judge isn't saying no more growth, just no more growth dependent on groundwater pumping.

I think it makes sense.



Friday, February 16, 2024

I Thought Floridians were only afraid of Blacks, Nope Jews too....

 This is not a joke. This is not an exaggeration. In Miami, students need permission slips to hear from any speaker that might make them feel guilty. This has been used often to stop or limit any type of Black History. But now, apparently, the holocaust is also out of bounds. Who knew?

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Tropes: My favorite

 I watch a lot of TV and have since I was a young whipper-snapper. Therefore, I am pretty familiar with the major tropes. Stupid sayings or things that happen over and over in movies.

One of my favorite, which cracks me up and takes me completely out of a scene is this one:

-----

Hero or heroine- and let's face it, normally a female - is on the run from bad guys intent on killing them. Then someone, normally a stranger, pulls up in a car or runs around a corner, and these words are said with a snarl.

Come with me if you want to live. (that it's allegorical twin, "If you want to live, come with me.")

-----

Now this has been happening in movies and TV for decades, but the most famous one is Arnold in Terminator II.


But my favorite since looking up is this one. Which isn't real, but should be....



Rewilding: Golf Courses


The NY Times has an article today on the trend to rehabilitate old golf courses into parks and wildlife corridors and return them to their natural state.

This may seem odd, but the United States has a glut of golf courses. They have been overbuilt AND younger people are not picking up golf at the rate to sustain them (as older customers age out of it). Furthermore, in the years since the boom in building golf courses, the hefty ecological impacts have been investigated. 

1) Golf courses use massive amounts of water. And when you realize that many of them are in the desert, you can imagine how much more water they use than average.

2) Golf courses use a LOT of pesticides and herbicides to keep those courses nice and pristine. And, we already laid out how much water they use, so leaching of these chemicals occurs into ground water and runoff.

3) Golf courses tend to alter the natural environment. They redirect streams and remove endemic plants, reducing any wildfield that may have lived there. One course that has been rehabilitated and shown in the images sits between two parcels of California public land. Rewilding this course led to opening the wildlife corridor again and providing a public space for the residents nearby.

None of this is to say that golf courses are evil and should be removed. But IF a course is closed, rewilding is infinitely preferable to paving over the course for warehouses or big box stores - which is how the majority are converted now.

Since 2006, more golf courses have closed than opened due to economic pressure, not due to public outrage. Turning these into rewilding sites provides many more possibilities for general use and promotes the natural environment.

The Abbey in Dumferline


Yes, I know there was another mass shooting yesterday in Kansas City. You have plenty of places to look that up. So I am posting about the Abbey in Dumferline. It was once part of a Castle / Priory complex before its consecration as an Abbey. And, no I don't think there is much difference between an Abbey and Priory (go on, look for yourselves).

The top image is of the old wall of the castle.

Kings of Scotland were crowned here, and many more are buried here.



My favorite part of the Abbey is the name King Robert The Bruce highlighted on the topmost rampart of the top. It is very cool.


You can see the words 'KING ROBERT on the top.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Happy St. Valentine's Day

 


Happy Valentine's Day

 Happy St. Valentine's Day to my husband.



It think this is my problem and I think explaining it will stop my posting over the Orange Shit Show

 I often find that once my itch to talk about something is explained, I feel better and can move on. 

For example, I finally wrote up why and how my father was not a good person (albeit it, an okay father for a few years) and put it on ancestry.com. I did it for my newly found 1/2 sister, but it scratched an itch I could not until then. Now, I don't worry about it or feel guilty.

I believe this is the same for Trump and the Republicans. This hits that itch of frustration. Hopefully, it will free me from this progression of doom. My balck dread will still be there, but the need to express it will diminish. 

This is the article that triggered it for me ( I don't know if it is paywall blocked, but here is the article). 


I keep trying to understand the Republicans through the lens of logic and politics, but they are neither anymore. 

This is a party that has asked Russia to invade our allies, that explains away a literal attack on Congress during the transfer of power, that promotes white superiority, that complains that brown people are "poisoning our blood," complains they can't shoot immigrants, that openly defies the Supreme Court, that outlaws trans people from bathrooms, sports, and changing their names, that outlaws Black History Month, that refuses to support democracies Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, that won't vote on anything that might help Democratic reelection - even if it is critical for national security OR something they demanded, that makes fun of the military who are wounded, captured or killed in battle, that openly supports dictators like Putin, Xi and Kim Jong Il, that impeached a sitting Cabinet Secretary just 'cuz, that opened an impeachment inquiry for the President despite saying they had nothing - but maybe they would find something, that brags about assaulting women and denying them rights, increases death rates by advocating for the end of all vaccines, that claims slavery was not the cause of the civil war AND that it taught slaves skills, makes fun of disabled and <deep breath> more.

But Republicans are no longer logical, responsive to voters, to feel any shame. They are not a party. And they may or may not be a cult. But they definitely ARE subsidiaries to Trump.

And, knowing Trump is in fact evil, this makes it easier to ignore Republicans as part of Trump 2.0. Well, not ignore him, but not to expect consistency, logic, or civic engagement. And now that you know that too, I don't need to talk about him as much. We can all agree he and his band of sycophants can be ignored by me.


Monday, February 12, 2024

If you haven't seen Sarah Millican - Well you've missed a great female "life-story" comedian

 


Palm Oil - My latest on my substack

 The latest on The Intersection of Geography and Economics:


LINK

Big Bob Explains what Trump Meant # 2312 - Magnets and John Deere


Well, once again, Big Bob, Trump's new press secretary, tries to explain Trump's latest statements.

Big Bob: Thank you, everyone, for coming; let's turn to the issue on everyone's mind, Joe Biden's mental health, questions?

Maggie DuBois: Big Bob, can you explain why Trump thinks magnets don't work in water.

Big Bob: As you know, President Trump was expounding on his outstanding work in updating the elevators on Aircraft carriers. They are magnetic elevators.

MdB: But he said magnets don't work when they are wet.

BB: In this context, President Trump was explaining that if the ship sank, the elevators wouldn't work because they are wet.

MdB: But magnets do work if they are wet.

BB: Agree to disagree. Next.

MdB: Why did he propose the Navy should use John Deere's equipment.

BB: John Deere is an American institution and President Trump believes we should use American technology.

MdB: On an aircraft carrier? A John Deere wench to lift planes up and down?

BB: What foreign tractor maker do you want the Navy to use?

MdB: What?

BB: Exactly.

Video

Aruba:

 Last week Ed and I joined John and Sue for a week in Aruba. They are still there with Faith and Sean, but here are some pictures of our time there.

We ate at a place call "The Royal"  where the chief makes your dinner and explains everything. GREAT.

A storm left some big waves on the leeward side, which is pretty rare. But great fun for me and playing in the waves.

John and Sue hiked to the top of THE mountain with these views.
The sky is wild here.



Sunday, February 11, 2024

Trump's Press Secretary - Big Bob - Explaining Idiotic Comment # 2,309

Big Bob Presser

 Trump's new Press Secretary, Big Bob, gives a presser to explain "What the Hell Trump Meant by That", part 2,309.

While campaigning in South Carolina on Saturday, Trump brought up an anecdote. Regarding NATO, Trump that he told European leaders they had to “pay up.” A reporter related Trump's conversation to Bob.

-----------------------

Then, Trump said, the president of “a big country stood up and said, ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?’”

Mr. Trump said he asked the other president if the country was “delinquent” in its payments. The leader responded, “Yes. Let’s say that happened,” Mr. Trump said.

No, I would not protect you,” Mr. Trump recalled responding. “In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You’ve got to pay. You got to pay your bills.

-----------------------

Big Bob clarified President Trump's statement.

When Trump said they had not "paid up," he clearly understood that the NATO countries do not pay us per se; they have targets to meet on their defense budgets. That is what he meant by paid up. Trump - you understand - totally gets this. 

As the greatest property developer of all time, President Trump understands that if you don't start with the elevator, you can't build the top floors. So what he is trying to say is that if the top floors aren't done, they won't hover above the ground like magic. And in this particular analogy, the magic is the payments to NATO. And those payments should go through the Mar-a-lago office. I hope that settles that.

Big Bob was then asked "When Trump said he would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want," who was he referring to? 

Big Bob answered, "Russia. No wait. I mean the Democrats. All the Democrats, but especially ... what do they call those nasty women, the squad. Yes the squad. They really are the worst we should deport them all back to the shithole countries they are from like Somoliolyland or the Bronx."

The presser then ended as Big Bob pretended to choke on a drink of water and left the room.




Sunday, February 4, 2024

Bald Eagle Chicks

The internet has done wonderful and terrible things in the world. One of the wonderful ones is how we can now follow nature in a way that was impossible for the world before 2000. And, in that spirit...



About sums it up