Same as it ever was


Click to enlarge

This goes along with the “noble savage” school of utopian naturalism. Surviving nature still requires potable water, shelter from the elements – especially in a climate with seasons. Everything you can purchase or rent in civilization you now have to build or provide on your own.

First thing I always remember with images and expressions like this is completing an idyllic couple of weeks hiking through a stunning, isolated region in the highlands of Scotland. I was OK living within the boundaries of carrying everything I needed for protection from the elements + a fair amount of sustenance on my back for that time period.

And a week after I returned to urban America I learned some wandering sheep must have pooped just at the right time upstream in some delightful mountain stream where I filled my water bottle. And I needed another month to recover from a less-than-happy critter named giardia I had consumed – probably in that mountain stream.

I would have been a lot worse off if I wasn’t back in a city with easy access to a physician, etc..

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Not 12 Monkeys – but, a Fouine shuts down the Large Hadron Coillider

Fouine
Click to enlargeAlamy

The world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator has been brought to its knees by a beech marten, a member of the weasel family, that chewed through wiring connected to a 66,000-volt transformer.

The Large Hadron Collider on the outskirts of Geneva was designed to recreate in miniature fireballs similar to the conditions that prevailed at the birth of the universe, but operations of the machine, which occupies a 17-mile tunnel beneath Switzerland, have been placed on hold pending repairs to the unit.

The collider, which discovered the Higgs boson in July 2012, is expected to be out of action for a week while the connections to the transformer are replaced. Any remains of the intruder are likely to be removed at the same time.

In an in-house report on the incident, managers at Cern, the European nuclear physics laboratory that runs the LHC, described the incident at the transformer unit as being caused by a “fouine” – a beech marten native to the region. The report concluded it was “not the best week for the LHC”.

The glitch echoes a similar event in 2009 when the power was cut to one of the LHC’s cooling plants leading to unwelcome temperature rises in the collider’s apparatus. That incident was blamed, at least tentatively, on a bird dropping part of a baguette on a compensating capacitor where the mains supply entered the LHC from the ground.

Fodder for the spookier portions of global nutball culture. My mate in Oz who emailed the link to this article couldn’t resist declaring the fouine was “clearly sent from the future to stop the apocalypse” often predicted by the tinfoil-hat set as a result of the LHC turning Switzerland into a Black Hole.

Thanks, Honeyman

Eating less calories — kids still getting more obese

crap fries
Veggies for your kids

According to a 2015 New York Times analysis of government and private-sector data, the number of calories consumed annually by the average US child declined 9 percent between 2004 and 2013. And yet, researchers from Duke and Wake Forest have found that trend has not improved the child obesity situation.

Using body mass index data from the National Health Examination Survey, which tracks randomly selected households with health exams and surveys every two years, the researchers calculated moderate (class 1), mid-level (class 2) and extreme (class 3) obesity rates among kids aged 2 to 19. Here’s what they found…

The “overweight” rate — which encompasses the above “obese” categories as well as slightly overweight kids — also nudged upward from an already-high level: 28.8 percent from 1999 to 2000, compared with 33.4 percent from 2013 to 2014…The authors broke out data by age, gender, and race, and not a single group showed a statistically significant decline in obesity or being overweight over the time frame…

So, despite the above-mentioned drop in calorie intake, our kids are still packing on too much weight too fast. What gives?

…Barry Popkin, a veteran obesity researcher…said that while kids have eased up on problematic items like sugary sodas in recent years, they’re “not shifting the quality of their diets toward healthy foods.” Instead, “we continue to see our children mainly eat what we would call junk food,” relying heavily on cookies and other grain-based sweets, along with plenty of salty snacks, fruit juice (which acts an awful lot like soda in our bodies), and other sugary beverages.

A recent analysis of another big federal data set, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, bears out Popkin’s claim. When infants transition from baby food to solid food, they still tend to get plied with plenty of processed junk and few vegetables…The report noted that 40 percent of babies get brownies or cookies, and that French fries and chips are the most common form of vegetables kids eat by the time they’re two years old.

And we carry forward from there to the expected. Insufficient exercise, proper training to develop lifetime, lifestyle habits. Politicians without inclination to challenge the least lobbyist for crap food sold to meet budget cuts in school cafeterias. And on and on.

Letting beancounters overrule what we do to and for our children should be a crime.

Wildfires, once confined to a season, burn earlier, year-round


Click to enlargeHeber-Overgaard Fire District

The first Alaska wildfire of 2016 broke out in late February, followed by a second there just eight days later.

New Mexico has had 140 fires this year, double the number in the same period last year, fueled by one of the warmest, driest winters on record.

And on the border of Arizona and California this month, helicopters dumped water on flames so intense that they jumped the Colorado River, forcing the evacuation of two recreational vehicle parks.

Fires, once largely confined to a single season, have become a continual threat in some places, burning earlier and later in the year, in the United States and abroad. They have ignited in the West during the winter and well into the fall, have arrived earlier than ever in Canada and have burned without interruption in Australia for almost 12 months.

A leading culprit is climate change. Drier winters mean less moisture on the land, and warmer springs are pulling the moisture into the air more quickly, turning shrub, brush and grass into kindling. Decades of aggressive policies that called for fires to be put out as quickly as they started have also aggravated the problem. Today’s forests are not just parched; they are overgrown.

In some areas, we now have year-round fire seasons, and you can say it couldn’t get worse than that,” said Matt Jolly, a research ecologist for the United States Forest Service. “We expect from the changes that it can get worse.”

The 10.1 million acres that burned in the United States last year were the most on record, and the top five years for acres burned were in the past decade. The federal costs of fighting fires rose to $2 billion last year, up from $240 million in 1985.

RTFA. Long, detailed, filled with relevant information. The stuff that brings decisive action in nations run by reasonable people, conservative and liberal, politically committed to the good of their country.

That’s not where we get to live anymore. That portion of Congress formerly led by traditional American conservatives has been usurped by populist lunatics. Their version of heaven-on-Earth means more to them than any constitutional mandate. Dedication to racism, fear of equal opportunity for women and minorities distorts any attempt at logic or science.

With hope, with courage, the foolish corner we have allowed our nation to be jammed into will soon be unplugged. The crust of 19th Century ideology impeding any current of national rejuvenation may be cracked, failing, by Inauguration Day.

Then, we only have to deal with greed and timidity. 🙂