JWST Launch

What a delightful Saturday morning. Helen roused me from sleep and into the living room to watch the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope [JWST] via ArianeSpace from their Spaceport in French Guiana. Carried on YouTube Television, the feed was rock solid. ArianeSpace was smooth as silk, performing as the Number One Space Launch facility in the world would be expected.

The only disorganized, meathead performance was from NASA taking 4 or 5 minutes to manage their congrats hookup after launch. With an unbelievable performance from a Congressional-level politician representing NASA prattling about how he expects to see G_d once the telescope is in position and functioning!

Aside from that piece of American political absurdity, everything technical, scientific, a professional feed from a team that produces many launches every year ran like proper clockwork. This has been a truly beautiful morning.

Warming climate -> more bark beetles = more dead trees


Los Alamos National Laboratory

A team of researchers using Los Alamos National Laboratory’s supercomputers developed a model for projecting tree kills by bark beetles as the climate warms.

Looking at forests in California, the team of researchers found that western pine beetle infestations killed 30 percent more trees due to warmer temperatures than they would have killed under drought conditions alone.

While the study focused on California forests, study author Chonggang Xu, a senior LANL scientist, said he anticipates the trend will hold true for forests throughout the western United States, including in New Mexico.

Xu said that the number of trees killed because of warmer temperatures surprised him…

…the western United States is facing a megadrought and climate change models show that drier and hotter conditions will likely impact the region in the future.

This can stress the trees, Xu said, and make them more vulnerable to insect attacks. At the same time, he said bark beetles may be able to complete their life cycle faster, leading to more insects. Warmer winters also mean that fewer beetle eggs die.

The trees are screwed, we’re screwed. Unless we start doing something truly meaningful about the climate disaster.

Muskogee 6th-Grader helps save 2 people in 1 day

An 11-year-old boy saved a choking classmate this month and then sprung into action a second time that day when he escorted an elderly woman from a burning home, Oklahoma officials said.

For most people, let alone a child, the selflessness Davyon Johnson displayed on Dec. 9 amounts to more than a lifetime of heroics.

But Davyon’s mother, Latoya Johnson, said Thursday that her son has always demonstrated maturity beyond his years. He merely showed, she said, his true self.

He’s always been there to help, whenever he can,” Johnson said. “He’s just still the same kid. It’s not like it’s made him any more or any less.”

Davyon could not be reached Thursday because he was at wrestling practice. He told the Muskogee Phoenix newspaper, you never know when the life-saving measure will come in handy.

“Just in case you’re in the situation I was in, you can know what to do,” he said.

There’s a slight variation on an old Existential aphorism…”Responsibility to act accrues to any individual who recognizes the need to act!” Davyon has it hardwired.