Showing posts from 2019

Holy Cats... We Are So OLD!

The Ongoing Flood of New Science Discoveries Only Bowls Me Over Occasionally.  This Is One of Those Times
Our Galaxy Is Almost As Old As The Universe.

The overall universe is about 13.7 billion years old. That long since the Big Bang. Astronomers have known that the Milky Way is among the oldest of galaxies. The new study puts its age at 13.6 billion years. We live in one of the oldest of all galaxies. Think how many civilizations could be started, go for millions of years and die out in 13.6 billion years.  Sci-Fi city! Read a cool version of this story

Now the Roach-ocalypse IN REVERSE

Mostly We Are Making Critters Go Extinct NOT WITH ROACHES, Just the Opposite.
Cockroaches may soon be unstoppable—thanks to fast-evolving insecticide resistance

It's just one (Fill in the Blank)-ocalypse after another.  ---Amillion species are at risk, sayeth the U.N. ---The foundations of life- microbes - are at risk. ---Birds, beautiful BIRDS, are down by a third. ---Pollinators,critical to our food supply, are in real trouble ---Fugus that can kill is overcoming all anti-fungals. ---Climate-ocalypse, of course, is the Big One.
But roaches? Those fecund facilitators of filth? Those radiation-proof critters destined to survive a nuclear war?  
They are getting tougher by the day. Almost impossible to kill with ANY chemicals.  Don't take my sissy words for it, check out that ultimately credible source: Science Magazine.

... Oh, and ebola is back, stewing in Congo, winding up for another leap into the rest of the world.
...And we are close to choking on plastic, something else to worry about

What, Me Hypocritical?

Kinda Catches the Essence of Pro-Life Hypocrisy While Crushing It on the Border Crisis A Super Twofer

Big kid supporters... right up to the moment of birth.
After that?  Meh.

(I know everyone is currently distracted by "Send 'Em Back," but this one is deep.)

Don't Breathe!...

...While You Are Looking at Melting Permafrost

There are visible, dramatic effects of the rapidly warming Arctic. The permafrost – up until now, permanently frozen land and soil – is thawing out, and revealing its hidden secrets. Alongside Pleistocene fossils are massive carbon and methane emissions, toxic mercury, and ancient diseases.

The "ancient diseases" are from thousands of reindeer killed by anthrax, frozen and now thawing and releasing their microbes.

I didn't know about the mercury.  "The Arctic is home to the most mercury on the planet. The US Geological Survey estimates there’s a total of 1,656,000 tonnes of mercury trapped in polar ice and permafrost: roughly twice the global amount in all other soils, oceans, and atmosphere."  Who wudda thunk?

Worse, of course, it that as the permafrost in the Arctic melts, the extra CO2 and methane will accelerate global warming even more.

HERE'S the BBC special report on various effects of the warming Arctic.

Looking For The Right Words

"I’m losing the ability to communicate the magnitude of change," said Jeremy Mathis, current board director at the National Academies of Sciences.  "I’m running out of adjectives to describe the scope of change we’re seeing."*

It must be really frustrating trying to get the public (thee and me) properly exercised about our climate sinking into chaos. 
We've got more important stuff to think about, don'tcha know.

*Mashable ME

Way To Go, Mr. President!

Our Prez is doing something I like! (...and you know that doesn't happen often.)

White House to Issue Executive Order to Disclose Pricing Across the Health Care IndustryPublished: May 24, 2019By Alex Keown [Excerpt] President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order next week that will mandate price disclosure across the health care industry, the Wall Street Journal reported this morning. The move would be highly disruptive to the industry, which is not used to having a spotlight shined on its pricing policies, the Journal noted. Citing unnamed sources who are familiar with the matter, the Journal said the Trump administration will wield the power of the federal government to force the price disclosures as part of an effort to drive down health care costs. In particular, the Journal said that the order could be aimed at “regional monopolies of hospitals and health-insurance plans over concerns they are driving up the cost of care.”President Donald Trump is expected to iss…

Squoze Where It Hurts the Most

Artificial Intelligence, The Future of Everything
The bigger you are, the more you can use A.I. This pretty much says the big will get bigger, the strong will get stronger, the weak will fall further behind.
So this chart is bad news for the U.S.
Down in that light blue "Other countries" category are places like Germany, Bahrain, South Korea, and spectacularly, Israel. 
While the U.S. overwhelms the world in conventional military power, the new battlefields are forming up in cyberspace.
The cyber nukes are the A.I.s  

I (humbly of course) propose that spending priorities be shifted from the existing military industrial complex to the new A.I. development complex.

War is hell, but less hellish when fought in The Cloud. And WAY less hellish when you win.

Think that's scary? Check this out:
The Chinese A.I. Leapfrog
(...and 16 other Worries About China)

Picasso-esque Yet

 Eye in the Desert

Researching Western Australia for the book I'm currently hammering on (it's about Superintelligence), this wonder leapt right out at me. 

It's the Wolfe Creek Meteor Crater, on the easter edge of Western Australia. The Picasso part is the tiling collage effect of merging satellite shots. I thought you might like to see it. 

I know you are just dying to know something about this new book!  Working title: What Would Supe Do?  Perhaps I should weave in something about the Wolfe Creek Crater.

A Hen in the Foxhouse?

Why Is This My First Recommendation to Watch Fox News? Because this guy is so handsome?
Some Much Needed Clarification


Scooter the Tooter

Not the Way You Want to Die

A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy NYTimes There is a fungus among us - maybe at a hospital near you - AND YOU WONT HEAR ABOUT IT!

Super investigative story on the front page of the NY Times!  Scary, enlightening, infuriating... everything good investigative reporting provides, this story should win a Pulitzer.

It's about a drug resistant fungus that blossoms in hospitals.  It is one bad  dude of a "germ," Candida auris.

"Nearly half of patients who contract C. auris die within 90 days." (Some reports say 60%.)

"With bacteria and fungi alike, hospitals and local governments are reluctant to disclose outbreaks for fear of being seen as infection hubs. Even the C.D.C., under its agreement with states, is not allowed to make public the location or name of hospitals involved in outbreaks."

“You wouldn’t tolerate this at a restaurant with a food poisoning outbreak.”

"The secrecy infuriates patient advocates, who say people ha…

An Imaginary Path

There IS NO PATH back to "normality" if by normal you mean like it used to be. Not the 1950s or the '80s, or the '10s or yesterday.
Things are just changing too fast and too much. It's going to get stranger and stranger.
The fine article (and podcast) in Wired is actually about how sci-fi writers are getting more political, and how the "abnormality" is Trump, etc., but this back-to-normality thing is way bigger than politics. 
Science is becoming science fiction. Artificial intelligence, CRSPR gene editing, hypersonics, supercomputing, crowdsourcing, gravity waves, Instagram, augmented reality, virtual sex, quantum stuff, nanotech, fracking,  climate freaking change... And, really, don't get me started on world politics.  There's not path back to when all that isn't happening.

Being a science fiction writer myself (I'm comfortable saying that after three books published),  I'm sure not contemplating normality in the same color palette as …

One of the Biggies, Ambivalence

What's Going to Wreck Our World? (If we are not careful)
The Plasticocalypse?
No,  AMBIVALENCE! (Heres an example)

Shell Oil is spending huge ($10 billion) on a giant plant outside of Pittsburg to makePolyethelene

Sounds (and looks) gross. But the ambivalence sets in with:

"More than 6,000 tradespeople and laborers will be on the site during the peak summer construction period. Some 600 full-time workers will manage automated technology to operate the completed plant. A 97-mile pipeline from gas separation installations in Ohio and West Virginia will supply ethane; a 250-megawatt gas-fired electrical generating station will power the plant."

Manufacturing on the rebound in America!  Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson...

Think about 3.3 billion pounds of polyethylene beads.
Think about a future when we can walk on water.
     ....not drink it, of course, just walk on it.

Ambivalence could kill us.

NYTimes pieceon Shell's new factory.

Unless somebody reminds us...

We Forget How Many Ways America Is Changing The British Newspaper The Guardian Reminds us... (Those Brits, always reminding of stuff we'd rather forget)
The American family farm is disappearing

1950  (Scooter was in the 7th grade)
        Total population: 151,132,000; farm population: 25,058,000; Number of farms:
5,388,000; average acres: 216 (About 5 folks per farm family)

1998 (Olde Scooter was about to retire)
Total population: 275,900,000; farm population: 2,987,552; Number of farms: 2,143,150; average acres: 461 (About 1.4 folks per farm "family") I.e. In one man's work life, about 22 million folks left their farms. Huge "industrial" farms frequently have NO ONE living on the farm.  Maybe a few thousand hogs or tens of thousands of chickens, or endless waves of grain - soy and corn mostly.

We sort of know all this.  It just slips out of consciousness without a reminder now and then. 

How America’s food giants swallowed the family farms  **Thank you, Guardian; I …

'Nuff Said


Ten-year-Long study!  Half a million kids!  Super study and incontestable findings.

So you anti-vaxers better come up with some other excuse.  

Just sayin'.....

* Good summary

Another Pick - On Southern Prejudice

A Short, True Tale... ...From my days in San Francisco Get's another "Pick" from the NYTimes. I apologize.
When AIDS was just coming out, I was home in Texas and the subject came up. I was chatting with an old pal who said, "It's just a queers' disease." I told him it was already proven that anyone could catch it, which he denied ferociously and went on to give HIV a Biblical twist.  Then today, I saw a story in the NYTimes by a Houston doctor bemoaning how HIV is still rampant in Houston while San Francisco has it mostly under control. 

Up bubbled my memory of that old conversation, and I wrote a cynical "comment" that picked on the South - mostly unfairly.  Some comments moderator agreed with my umbrage and 'picked' my comment.  I apologize for being a categorical insulter, a category I mostly despise.

This one I'm not that proud of :\

The Chinese A.I. Leapfrog

That Darn 'Invisible Hand' Sometimes it scratches the wrong itch.
China has a massive global lead in the absolute number of new factory robots, and is pouring large sums into developing AI.*

"The position in this country has been to let the market dictate what happens with tech and science, and I think that's going to prove to be a catastrophic mistake," says Amy Webb, a professor at NYU and author of a "The Big Nine," a forthcoming book on the future of AI.
Even as U.S. industry and top universities invest in future technologies, China is vastly outpacing the West in national planning and investments in AI and robotics, experts say.
Olde Scooter's closet of scary Chinese news:
"Winning" China'sPharma Invasion It's China More Than Russia China Becoming World Science Leader? More Threats from China - SUPERCOMPUTERS! Watch China Watch the Sky... Worrying About Chinese Competition Deep space communications
Electric Cars
Quantum communications