What did I tell you about hiring Nazis?


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Pull off the scab. Pour in some iodine.

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This beautiful new cloud – Asperitas – now officially in the International Cloud Atlas


Click to enlargeInternational Cloud Atlas/Kairo Kiitsak

❝ Gavin Pretor-Pinney, the London-based president of the Cloud Appreciation Society, first saw the unusual cloud in 2006. A member of the amateur cloud-spotting group in Cedar Creeks, Iowa emailed a photo of an oddly wavy cloud, and asked how it would be classified…

Its shape was similar to what the World Meteorological Organization would categorize as an undulatus formation, but was “more intense, more chaotic.” The WMO’s International Cloud Atlas, first published in 1896, didn’t include anything like it.

❝ Every six months or so, a similar image would arrive, maybe from Scotland, or Australia. The president and others began to feel that a new label was needed to fit the unfamiliar cloud. In 2008, the amateur cloud-spotting group proposed the name asperitas, Latin for “roughness,” and submitted the idea to the WMO.

Nearly 10 years after they floated the idea, the society’s efforts paid off: the WMO has added the asperitas to the updated International Cloud Atlas, released online earlier this week…

❝ Naming clouds, says Pretor-Pinney, builds a deeper connection to what’s visible in our atmosphere, “which also makes us care more about what we’re doing to it.”

I’ll second that emotion. RTFA for details on cloud-naming in disciplined scientific fashion. An enjoyable read. Lovely photographs.

Weather may just be weather; but — The North Atlantic may get its 1st-ever named storm in March next week

Just one hurricane has ever formed in the northern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or the Gulf of Mexico in the month of March — a time when the oceans are still cold from the winter months in the northern hemisphere. This occurred in 1908 with an unnamed hurricane that, according to the Atlantic Hurricane database, reached sustained winds of 100mph and caused damage in the Caribbean islands.

As the 1908 cyclone formed long before the National Hurricane Center existed, there has never been a “named” storm in March. That could change next week, as an area of low pressure may develop several hundred miles to the east of Florida, in the Atlantic Ocean. This storm system is unlikely to be a major threat to landmasses, with the possible exception of Bermuda. Due to the rarity of March cyclones, however, it would garner significant attention…

Forecast models indicate a low pressure system will develop early next week. It may reach a “peak” in strength by Tuesday or Wednesday, potentially with 40 to 60mph winds, which would exceed the 39mph threshold for a storm to get a name. In this case, the storm would be named “Arlene.”

If we get lucky, it might even drop a little rain or hail on MAR-A-LAGO.

Why the women of Popular Science Mag are not working today


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❝ You may notice that our website is looking a little light today. We’d like to explain. Today is “A Day Without a Woman,” a general strike for women’s rights and equality—so many of the women of PopSci aren’t working. And that means the website is going to be pretty quiet: While we get an awful lot of emails assuming we’re a bunch of “sirs,” the majority of the staff here is female.

❝ We happen to work with men who support and promote women’s rights, but we recognize that many women aren’t as lucky. So since this is Popular Science, we’d like to leave you some information to consider during our time away from the office:

Women earn more than half of all PhDs in the U.S., but as a 2008 study found, they comprise only 45 percent of all tenure-track faculty, 31 percent of tenured staff, and 24 percent of all full professors.

Women in science and engineering are paid an average of $60,000 a year, which is $24,000 less than their male peers. This is because science is institutionally sexist. It’s built on social structures designed to give men a leg up—or, depending on your perspective, structures designed to push women down.

When gender is the only variable, institutions are more likely to give male scientists a job offer—and they pay them better, too…

Even in science-related fields, such as nursing, where women are the majority, a 2015 study in the Journal for the American Medical Association revealed that men are still paid more—to the tune of around $5,148 a year. And yes, that’s after controlling for differences in experience and education.

RTFA for more solid info on living in a nation governed by the hypocrites we elect. Nationally, statewide and locally. Which is why we never did get round to passing an equal rights amendment.

Americans elect and re-elect footdraggers from both of the parties we’re allowed who spend more time excusing discrimination – than doing anything about it.

FBI Director asks Justice Dept. to publicly reject Trump’s nutball wiretapping rant

❝ The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.

Mr. Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the F.B.I. broke the law, the officials said…

❝ Mr. Comey’s request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump’s truthfulness. The confrontation between the two is the most serious consequence of Mr. Trump’s weekend Twitter outburst, and it underscores the dangers of what the president and his aides have unleashed by accusing the former president of a conspiracy to undermine Mr. Trump’s young administration…

❝ In addition to being concerned about potential attacks on the bureau’s credibility, senior F.B.I. officials are said to be worried that the notion of a court-approved wiretap will raise the public’s expectations that the federal authorities have significant evidence implicating the Trump campaign in colluding with Russia’s efforts to disrupt the presidential election.

RTFA if you haven’t been keeping up with this from the middle-of-the-road heart of American journalism. Yes, the Trump base will believe he walks on water while carrying blessed dollar$ from heaven to his True Believers. That’s their problem – not the nation’s.

The primo example of a career intelligence operative, Malcolm Nance put it best – Monday evening on the 11th Hour news show – saying, “Donald Trump is a pathological liar.”

Banksy opens hotel overlooking Bethlehem’s apartheid wall


Worst view in the worldQuique Kierszenbaum/Guardian

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❝ The Walled Off hotel may sound utilitarian, even bleak. Its owner says it has “the worst view of any hotel in the world”, while its 10 rooms get just 25 minutes of direct sunlight a day.

But, nestled against the controversial barrier wall separating Israel from the Palestinian territories, the West Bank’s answer to the Waldorf offers travellers something more elusive than any luxury destination.

The lodging in Bethlehem is a hotel, museum, protest and gallery all in one, packed with the artworks and angry brilliance of its owner, British street artist Banksy.

❝ From the disconcertingly lavish presidential suite where water splashes from a bullet-strafed watertank into the hot tub, to the bunk-beds in the budget room scavenged from an abandoned army barracks, the hotel is playful and strongly political.

All the rooms look out on to the concrete slabs of the wall and some have views over it to pill boxes and an Israeli settlement – illegal under international law – on the hillside beyond.

❝ Banksy’s reputation is likely to keep all rooms fully booked, but he wants guests to leave with more than just a selfie. “It’s a three-storey cure for fanaticism, with limited car parking,” he added in the statement.

The hotel opens to guests on 20 March, with bookings via the website. The team hope Israelis, who rarely see the barrier wall up close or visit Palestinian towns, will be among the guests, even though visiting means breaking the law…

Israelis are banned from visiting Bethlehem and its famous sites. And although Banksy has chosen a site officially under Israeli military control – meaning it is legal for Israelis to stay there – all the roads to reach it involve an illegal journey through Palestinian-controlled territory.

RTFA. Learn a little more about life in what American politicians uniformly call the leading middle East democracy.

Thanks, Honeyman –

– and just because you’re now certified for Level 1 Superbikes doesn’t mean you can double the speed limits in Tasmania! 🙂

White House Censors Press — Denies Briefing Access to New York Times, Politico, CNN

Trump’s view of a “Free Press”

❝ White House press secretary Sean Spicer excluded several major news outlets, including the New York Times and CNN, from an untelevised media briefing on Friday, hours after President Donald Trump assailed coverage of his administration.

❝ The White House invited members of the so-called press pool to attend the briefing, including representatives from the Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg News, Agence France-Presse and Hearst, which is serving as the daily representative for newspaper outlets. The White House then handpicked additional outlets to participate, including NBC News, CBS News, and ABC News — as well as conservative outlets like the Washington Times, America One, and Breitbart News Network.

Notably excluded were the New York Times, CNN, Politico, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed News and the BBC. Bloomberg News only learned that some outlets had been excluded moments before the briefing began. The Associated Press was invited but declined to participate, citing the exclusion of other organizations…

❝ Bloomberg editor in chief John Micklethwait said in a statement: “I don’t believe that the White House’s decision to exclude major news organizations is in the best interest of keeping the public informed, so in the future we will not participate in exclusionary briefings of the sort that happened today.”…

❝ Spicer holds a televised news briefing on most weekdays when the president isn’t traveling, but on Thursday evening, when it issued its daily guidance, the White House said Spicer would instead “gaggle” on Friday. The term is jargon for less formal briefings, usually held in Spicer’s office or aboard Air Force One, that aren’t televised…

Shortly before the gaggle, the White House asked news organizations to register for an “expanded pool” of reporters that would be admitted to cover it. The group granted access included all of the members of the so-called “protective pool” of journalists that routinely covers the president’s activities, including Bloomberg.

The New York Times and other outlets were turned away at the door to Spicer’s office.

❝ “Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said in a statement. “We strongly protest the exclusion of the New York Times and the other news organizations.”

The previous record-holder as Republican crook – Richard Nixon – never went this far in trying to suppress the First Amendment. He fought with those who eventually uncovered all of his administration’s corruption and called the Press “his” enemy”. Trump takes the next step towards fascist rule by calling a Free Press an “enemy of the people”. The sort of declarative you would expect from someone who fears democracy, transparency.

I expect many voices to be raised from conservative to liberal, libertarian to progressive. It will be an interesting exercise picking out Republicans who claim to be constitutionalists – who will also stoop to bow before their leader and support his denial of access to news media.

Highest Value Export Good by State


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Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

It’s pretty funny how these can be skewed. New Mexico has computer processors because of one Intel foundry in Rio Rancho. The tax break deal they got allows for a payment back to local government if a certain percentage of employees are imported from out-of-state. A codicil necessary because local government and Intel both realized our education system is so weak that any high tech business would have to rely on supplemented staffing.