Outdoor Cats Using Starlink Satellite Dishes as Heated Beds

As cold weather and storms plague parts of the United States this winter, cat owners can count on their fluffy companions to curl up in the warmest spots they can reach.

That’s what Aaron Taylor certainly seems to have discovered. On December 31, Taylor posted a photo of five cats curled up on his self-heating satellite dish on Twitter…

“Starlink works great until the cats find out that the dish gives off a little heat on cold days,” he writes…

Starlink satellite dishes have a self-heating feature to melt snow, which may be why cats are drawn to it, reports the Guardian. Engineers created this feature to stop snow from interfering with the signal, but can the dish handle a pile of felines? On Twitter, Taylor says five cats snuggling on his dish interrupts his video streaming and “slows everything down.”

Yeah; but…comfy cats are worth it. Right?

Past seven years hottest on record

The Copernicus Climate Change Service said 2021 was the fifth-warmest year, with record-breaking heat in some regions.

And the amount of warming gases in our atmosphere continued to increase…

The environmental, human and economic costs of hotter temperatures are already being seen globally.

Europe lived through its warmest summer, and temperature records in western US and Canada were broken by several degrees. Extreme wildfires in July and August burnt almost entire towns to the ground and killed hundreds…

The Copernicus data comes from a constellation of Sentinel satellites that monitor the Earth from orbit, as well as measurements taken at ground level.

Conclusions and comments are mixed. Sentiment is predictably pessimistic. I won’t be around long enough to see much of any progress; BUT, I have sufficient confidence in science and practitioners to hope that reasonable solutions will be found. Hopefully, including not only reduced chemical effects on our atmosphere; but, adequate diminishing population in spite of hangers-on hoping to retain their religious blinders on education and politics.

Doing time in a Federal Prison? No more real mail…

Over the past two years, dozens of facilities across the Federal Bureau of Prisons, or BOP, which oversees approximately 156,000 people and 122 facilities, have adopted policies of photocopying mail and withholding the originals from their recipients. Prison officials say the change is an effort to stop drugs that are entering facilities by being sprayed on mail, which officials claim is affecting staff, though there is scant evidence of this phenomenon.

USP Canaan is one of 33 federal facilities in 18 states using prison staff to scan mail in-house, according to an informal survey of incarcerated people’s loved ones conducted by The Intercept. And the Pennsylvania prison was one of two BOP facilities that participated in a recent pilot program to outsource the scanning of mail to a private company. BOP union heads told The Intercept that they are pushing for the bureau to enroll all of its facilities in the private service, known as MailGuard, whose creators boast that it can “gain huge secret intelligence into the public sender of postal mail…”

Postal mail was the last means of communication that was not heavily monitored by the BOP. The bureau’s transition to mail scanning, coupled with its refusal to release details of the program’s operations to the public, presents novel privacy concerns for incarcerated people and the people who send them mail.

Here’s a link specifically addressing the question here in New Mexico. It has lots more depth, broader understanding of the questions raised by what – at best – is just another bureaucratic move to save money. It made me think differently about the questions raised. I’d suggest reading it, as well.

California is now “Trans-apocalyptic”

Widespread smoke is just one of the symptoms of how climate change is degrading the quality of life for many people on this planet. In the article described below, the author wrote that a researcher told her that “Wildfire is literally making it unsafe to be pregnant in California.”

Here are excerpts from the article, titled, This Isn’t the California I Married — The honeymoon’s over for its residents now that wildfires are almost constant

…The climate crisis has caused us to get lost in time and space; we need to dig ourselves out of nostalgia and face the world as it exists. As he [Alex Steffen] explained to me in his confident baritone, yes, California, and the world, are in bad shape. But the situation is not as devoid of hope as we believe. “We have this idea that the world is either normal and in continuity with what we’ve expected, or it’s the apocalypse, it’s the end of everything — and neither are true,” he said. That orange sky in 2020? “We’re all like, Wow, the sky is apocalyptic! But it’s not apocalyptic. If you can wake up and go to work in the morning, you’re not in an apocalypse, right?”

The more accurate assessment, according to Steffen, is that we’re “trans-apocalyptic.” We’re in the middle of an ongoing crisis, or really a linked series of crises, and we need to learn to be “native to now.” Our lives are going to become — or, really, they already are (the desire to keep talking about the present as the future is intense) — defined by “constant engagement with ecological realities,” floods, dry wells, fires. And there’s no opting out. What does that even mean?…

Relinquishing the idea of normal will require strength, levelheadedness, optimism and bravery, the grit to keep clinging to some thin vine of hope as we swing out of the wreckage toward some solid ground that we cannot yet see. “We’re no longer dealing with a fire regime in the woods that responds to the kinds of mild prevention and mild responses, the sensible responses we have thought about, and that thought alone is a crisis,” Steffen said. “It means the lives we had we no longer have.”

The small settlement where I live is the result in many instances of folks coming to these conclusions. About half the folks in our community are native New Mexicans, mostly with Spanish surnames. Next two points of origin are California and Texas. Then, the scattering of lifetime hippies, non-conformists whose live are anchored in philosophy or art, not necessarily roots. Yup. That’s me.

Most of us have meadows, remnants of the grasslands where we built our homes. I suppose if the bosque at the bottom of our valley ever became dry enough to be a fire threat, we’d have to pass a regulation requiring collective mowing every summer’s end. That would help a lot.

Colorado just had its worst wildfire ever—in the middle of winter


milehightraveler/Getty

In an unexpected and fiery turn of events, fast-moving wildfire Marshall spread across the state of Colorado last Thursday, pummeling through 6,000 acres in just a few hours. Thousands of people have been rapidly evacuated from counties and towns north of Denver,. As of January 2, three individuals are still missing, including a search for 91-year-old Nadine Turnbull who was last seen in her burning home in Superior.

“It was in [the] blink of an eye. This was a disaster in fast motion, all in the course of half a day,” Governor Jared Polis said in a press conference on December 31. “Nearly 1,000 homes are gone.” Cold, snowy weather over the weekend has since suppressed the fire…

“I have thought it won’t be long before we start experiencing fires like California where flames chase people out of their neighborhoods,” Becky Bolinger, an assistant state climatologist at the center at Colorado State University, told the Denver Post. “I didn’t expect that would happen in December.”

Climate change is essentially keeping our fuels drier longer,” Jennifer Balch, a fire scientist and director of the Earth Lab at CU Boulder, told NPR. “These grasses that were burning—you know, they’ve been baked, essentially, all fall and all winter. On top of that, we didn’t get a lick of moisture.”

On top of tricky climate conditions, population growth poses an especially serious threat for disastrous wildfires. As more people move into what were once uninhabited grasslands, fire-risky activities, like starting a car or having a barbeque, become more common. All the while, local management policies might shift toward suppressing natural flames. Keeping small burns from happening in populated neighborhoods ends up leading to more and more fuel build-up, setting the stage for massive destruction.

Scientists will continue to investigate and research new and added dangers, Something we can’t ignore.

Plastic packaging for most fruit and veggies banned in France

The ban came into effect on Saturday under new regulations that French President Emmanuel Macron’s government says are meant to phase out single-use plastics as pollution worsens globally.

Under the new rules, leeks and carrots, tomatoes and potatoes, apples and pears and about 30 other items can no longer be sold in plastic. Instead, they should be wrapped in recyclable materials…Plastic will still be allowed for more fragile fruits such as berries and peaches, but is to be gradually phased out in the coming years…

France’s packaging industry meanwhile said it was dismayed by the new rules, particularly a ban on the use of recycled plastics.

My response is mixed – at a minimum. Though it appears that producers of cardboard – easily recycled – are gearing up to pickup the changeover. In the same vein, I would expect paper which can be made translucent to become a replacement, as well.

Wildlife Pic of the Day


Click to enlargePHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID CHANCELLOR

A view from the center of a locust swarm at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya depicts a frenzied scene. Swarms can range from less than half a square mile to 460 square miles, with 40 to 80 million locusts.

OR

How I feel about most bullshit political commercials, analysis and appeals for funds during peak electoral cycles. Yes, I recognize the threat from fascist-minded Republicans-in-name-only. Relying on chickenshit Democrats to function as our constitutional saviors isn’t reassuring.

AND

Just to poke my friends and communicants who prefer the sectarian side of my nature, I must add that anyone standing to the Left side of this species is legitimate as far as I’m concerned if they are willing to act upon their convictions. Talking a good game doesn’t count in chess, firearms or making an omelette.