Wildfire smoke ain’t like some family campfire, folks!


Daytime, Juniper Hills, California

The West Coast’s wildfire crisis is no longer just the West Coast’s wildfire crisis: As massive blazes continue to burn across California, Oregon, and Washington, they’re spewing smoke high into the atmosphere. Winds pick the haze up and transport it clear across the country, tainting the skies above the East Coast.

But what are you breathing, exactly, when these forests combust and waft smoke near and far? Charred trees and shrubs, of course, but also the synthetic materials from homes and other structures lost in the blazes. Along with a variety of gases, these give off tiny particles, known as PM 2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 microns or smaller), that weasel their way deep into human lungs. All told, the mixture of solids and gases actually transforms chemically as it crosses the country, creating different consequences for the health of humans thousands of miles apart. In other words, what you breathe in, and how hazardous it remains, may depend on how far you live from the Pacific coast…

As the smoke plume travels through the atmosphere, “the heavier particles are going to start to fall out as time moves on,” says Rebecca Buchholz, an atmospheric chemist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “But then those sticky, partially burnt carbon gases are going to start to coagulate and become more particles again. So you’re losing particles out of the smoke, but you’re also gaining particles as the air processes through time.”

Another atmospheric nasty we’re all too familiar with forms as well: ozone, which inflames your airways. “Ozone requires carbon-containing gases, nitrogen-containing gases, and sunlight,” says Buchholz. “And so the more processing time you have, the more ozone is going to get created in that smoke plume.”

There are parts of the West where breathing the air has been evaluated as the equivalent of smoking 400 cigarettes! Today, wasn’t that bad in my neck of the prairie – here in northern New Mexico. But, after a morning try, I had to give up my usual regimen of exercise walking. My breathing, my eyes, just had too much of a bad thing to deal with.

Apple is going to make it tougher for advertisers to track you. Facebook is pissed!


Michael Short/Getty

Sometime next month, iPhone users will start seeing a new question when they use many of the apps on their devices: Do they want the app to follow them around the internet, tracking their behavior?

It’s a simple query, with potentially significant consequences. Apple is trying to single-handedly change the way internet advertising works.

That will affect everyone, from Apple’s giant tech rivals — most notably, Facebook, which announced today that it’s fighting back against Apple’s move — to any developer or publisher that uses ad technology to monitor what their app users are doing on the internet.

And it affects you, the person reading this story. At stake is your online privacy — and the advertising system that underwrites an endless supply of free content.

Apple announced its plan in June at its annual developer’s conference. But it hasn’t generated much attention outside of ad tech circles yet.

That will likely change in mid-September when the company is expected to roll out its new operating system, iOS 14.

Looking forward to that introduction of iOS 14 for a few reasons. Their new privacy system being #1. From my perspective, it’s going to be fun.

My wife is getting used to sleeping in a quiet bedroom

I stopped using a CPAP machine to sleep a few weeks ago. After 17 years.

My O2 levels are now solid in the 90’s. And I have to admit losing 80 pounds was key. Walking ~3 miles/day at [a moderate] elevated respiration rate helps, too.

My sleep doc told me I could stop. That I had corrected everything causing my sleep apnea as far as he could determine.

Frankly, I’ve been very happy with the solid sleep I’ve enjoyed over the years with a couple of different CPAP machines over time. Wore the first one out in a decade.

Took a year before I tried this. Love the change.

V-J Day remembered


Soldiers and sailors celebrate in Newark, NJ

After the surrender of Japan on 14 August 1945, two days of national holiday were announced for celebrations in the UK, the US and Australia.

Millions of people from the Allied countries took part in parades and street parties.

Germany had surrendered on 7 May 1945, followed by Victory in Europe (VE) Day on 8 May, but World War Two still continued in the Asia-Pacific region…

An estimated 71,000 soldiers from Britain and the Commonwealth were killed in the war against Japan, including more than 12,000 prisoners of war who died in Japanese captivity.

It wasn’t until the US had dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on 6 and 9 August, that Japan surrendered and ended the war.

The recorded death tolls of the atomic bombings are estimates, but it is thought that about 140,000 of Hiroshima’s 350,000 population were killed in the blast, and at least 74,000 people died in Nagasaki.

It was sunny and warm in our Bridgeport neighborhood. VJ-day felt just like VE-day to kids – except that now the war was completely ended. We stopped playing war games that day – though our politicians never have.

A Derecho roared across the Midwest, Monday


NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

On August 10, 2020, NOAA’s GOES-East satellite tracked severe thunderstorms as they raced across much of the Midwest and caused a widespread, fast-moving windstorm called a derecho. According to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, the derecho traveled from far southeastern South Dakota into Ohio—a distance of about 770 miles—in a span of 14 hours.

The high winds were reportedly so strong that they flipped or blew some tractor-trailers off roadways, downed trees, flattened crops, and caused widespread property damage. Across the Upper Midwest in Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana, more than 1 million homes and businesses lost power. In Iowa, where gusts reportedly topped 100 mph, the damage was even more severe; the highest wind speed recorded there 112 mph near Midway.

When I still was on the road out here in the Southwest, I saw one of these suckers coming just as I was leaving Amarillo, Texas, heading back home. Turned around in a New York minute and made it back to the last motel west of town and got into the office to register for the night…just in time.

Of course, Fake President heads backwards on nuclear weapons


Kengo Nikawa’s watch. It took him 16 days to die.

Seventy-five years ago Thursday, the U.S. became – and remains – the only country in the world to detonate a nuclear weapon against an enemy…

The Hiroshima death toll reached an estimated 200,000 by 1950 as those who survived the blast succumbed to fatal burns, radiation sickness and various cancers…

The Trump administration has withdrawn from a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran and world powers designed to limit Tehran’s nuclear capabilities.

President Donald Trump-led talks with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un aimed at denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula have stalled.

The Trump administration has suspended compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a Reagan administration-era initiative that slashed the number of midrange missiles held by the U.S. and Russia.

Trump has abandoned the Open Skies Treaty – negotiated by President George H.W. Bush after the collapse of the Soviet Union and designed to be a check on nuclear weapons by allowing surveillance flights over signatories’ territories.

Trump has signaled he may not renew New START, the last major U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control treaty, unless China also agrees to be bound by its constraints. Beijing has not committed either way. New START expires in February, just weeks after there’s a new, or renewed, U.S. president in the White House.

Marshall Billingslea, the top U.S. envoy for nuclear negotiations, has confirmed the Trump administration has discussed holding the first nuclear test since 1992. “I won’t shut the door on it, because why would we,” Billingslea said in late June in Vienna, Austria, although he said there is no reason to carry out a test “at this time.”

Reason has nothing to add to policymaking by the whim of an ignorant autocrat and his lackeys. Anyone think Congress has enough backbone to stand in opposition?