Denny

July 24, 2021

Some fantastic trail rides recently. Well, they’re always fantastic. But currently just a bit better thanks to all the mushrooms and flowers. So much going on! One of several observed on today’s ride; BlackBerry lily, Iris domestica. Also known as leopard lilly.

Climate change in California

Just a regular reminder that it’s 2021 and virtually no progress is being made to stop the climate crisis.

In California the fields of food being grown and the workers harvesting that food are broiling.

And when they’re not in the heat working they are living in homes without usable water because what is there has been poisoned due to drought and the chemicals used to grow the food.

And, because that’s not bad enough, they’re only paid $15/hr. On days that they can work normal hours that might barely be enough to support a family but many days the extreme heat means they are only allowed to work 5 or 6 hours. It’s not a surprise that farm workers die of heat at roughly 20 times the national rate.

Of course this is just one aspect of how climate changes is affecting just a portion of the state. There’s also the pesky little problem of wild fires which I’m not going to try to discuss here.

Remember, the heat and drought are only getting worse. I suspect that there will come a time in the not too distant future that this will all finally have an impact on the food that is available to the rest of the country. Then maybe more people will care.

Fredericktown Hate Crime?

I went searching this morning for a new podcast, something different from my usual and I came across Un(re)solved. It’s a series exploring un-resolved civil rights cold cases that involved the murders of activists back in the 50s and 60s. A key aspect of the title that I almost overlooked is that these were not necessarily unsolved. But rather, lacked resolution, or, more likely, actual justice, due to the extreme bias of investigations or lack of investigations due to prejudice.

As I listened I just felt that familiar sadness that comes with the acknowledgement that while some progress has been made in the past 70+ years we can see that, given the need for BLM in 2021, we’ve got a long, long way to go.

As I listened, I couldn’t help thinking about the April death of Derontae Martin here in Fredericktown. The local sheriff released a statement that “the preliminary evidence indicated the male subject died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.”

Given the time and location of the death, this seems unlikely.

While the local paper’s article linked above provides very little context to the death, others have stepped in with more details. This report from St. Louis television station KSDK is a good place to start.

While it’s yet to be proven, these details provide a context of the death that seem to indicate that it’s possible (I’d say likely) that this was not a suicide but a hate crime.

Yes, we have a long, long way to go.

Denny

June 16, 2021

A small thing that I enjoy everyday but have rarely if ever mentioned here: bird song. Sitting here this cool morning with my windows open and I’m listening to what may be a blue-gray gnatcatcher. A tiny little bird. Other times I listen on the trail when walking or riding. It’s fair to say that bird song is one of my favorite things.

A young woman of color engineer is living her dream at NASA!

An excellent interview with Tiera Fletcher over on Apple’s Developer website. I didn’t quite catch how it relates to Apple, WWDC or the developer website specifically but it’s inspiring nonetheless! She has been helping design components of NASA’s Space Launch System as a part of the Artemis Program.

Artemis-1 is set to launch in November 2021 and will be an un-crewed 25 day mission to test and certify the Orion spacecraft.

Fixing Climate Change and Biodiversity at the same time

How to protect species and save the planet at the same time

Humanity is struggling to contain two compounding crises: skyrocketing global temperatures and plummeting biodiversity. But people tend to tackle each problem on its own, for instance by deploying green energies and carbon-eating machines while roping off ecosystems to preserve them. But in a new report, 50 scientists from around the world argue that treating each crisis in isolation means missing out on two-fer solutions that resolve both. Humanity can’t solve one without also solving the other.

The report is the product of a four-day virtual workshop attended by researchers of all stripes and is a collaboration between the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In light of the Paris Agreement, it’s meant to provide guidance on how campaigns that address biodiversity might also address climate change, and vice versa.

Seems like this is obvious.

Dark matter galaxy structure

Listening to episode 252 of Science sort of I came across this beautiful discussion of the evidence for dark matter and role it played in the formation of galaxies in the early universe. Here’s an excerpt where Ben Tippet is discussing dark matter in the computer modeling of galaxy evolution:

The galaxies wouldn’t evolve properly or in the correct timescale unless there was dark matter included in the simulations. And so, the modern description for how galaxies formed, in order for them to form in the timescale we see them forming using our telescopes, is if dark matter started out distributed everywhere. Dark matter was the first thing to collapse gravitationally, it formed a filamentary structure, in essence there are long strings of dense distributions of dark matter in the universe.

It collapsed first and then the regular, bosonic matter collapsed around the concentrations of the dark matter. The luminous galaxies we see collapsed around the pre-existing dark matter galaxies. So, there is a tremendous amount of both corroborative and direct evidence that dark matter exists.

Denny

June 4, 2021

American Water Willow

I’ve seen these before and have been waiting for them to bloom amongst some rocks near my daily trail ride.

Grassroots Authoritarianism in the US

The GOP’s ‘Off the Rails’ March Toward Authoritarianism Has Historians Worried

In particular, the real warning sign for Levitsky was that so much of the energy pushing the Republican Party in an authoritarian direction came from the bottom up and was not driven by elites. “This is a grassroots movement, really pronounced at the level of the activist base and the state level,” he said.

Ziblatt noted that once a party radicalizes, it’s very hard for the process to reverse itself. The violent events of January 6 actually presented the GOP with an exit ramp, a chance to condemn the violence and take steps toward becoming a more traditional center-right party. Instead, Levitsky argues, “they missed it.”

“Lots of GOP leaders said the right thing for 24-48 hours, took a step back, sniffed the wind, looked at the polls and continued the march towards authoritarianism,” he said.

We should probably be more worried than we seem to be. Collectively, I think the general trend in the U.S. is to not participate if we don’t have to, which is to say, complacency. Certainly, things have been stirred up far more than usual the past 10 years. So maybe things have changed on a fundamental energy. There certainly seems to be a lot more energy.

Daily Updates?

I’ve had this blog (and earlier forms) going since before 2002 when it was really just a text website (1998ish) with daily updates and coded by hand! It’s taken many forms, with many shifts in focus. But it has persisted in one form or another. Considering some changes – namely more frequent updates, but short in length. You know, an actual daily journal rather than an occasional scrapbook. I’m still considering because in part I’m just thrashing about a bit on what it is I want to do here. You’d think after all these years I’d have a more concrete understanding of my intent, but no. I think it will always likely be an evolving mishmash with some very loosely adhered to topics of interest.

Which, I suppose is fairly true to how I’ve lived my life so, at least it’s honest. 😃