War against pandemic changes course

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is equally contagious whether it’s contracted by a vaccinated or unvaccinated person…This means that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are equally capable of transmitting the virus to other people.

Health officials need to acknowledge that “the war has changed,” one CDC slide said. “Given higher transmissibility … universal masking is essential to reduce transmission of the Delta variant…”

…vaccinated people are eight times less likely than unvaccinated people to contract COVID-19. Vaccinated people are also 25 times less likely to be hospitalized or to die from the coronavirus…Symptomatic breakthrough infections seem to be happening among 0.0098 percent of all fully vaccinated people, according to an ABC News study of cases reported by the CDC last week.

Folks have to understand that guidance from health officials has to change when more up-to-date testing against this new variant shows different results from the earlier virus. Of course, the response has to change, too. Here in New Mexico, we’re in the top ten of states with an adequate vaccination rate. Though some vaccinated folks – including my wife and I – had stopped wearing masks, we WILL BE WEARING MASKS this morning when we go to town for our weekly grocery shopping.

Given everything included in the phrase “Santa Fe Style” – I expect virtually everyone we see shopping at Trader Joe’s will be masked.

Is Iceland the Tip of a Vast Lost Continent?

A vast sunken continent called “Icelandia” may exist under the North Atlantic Ocean, a finding that, if proven, could upend long-standing assumptions about the region’s geological history and inform the search for other submerged continents around the globe.

The proposed continent is estimated to extend for at least 230,000 square miles, reaching Greenland to the north and potentially Europe to the east. Iceland is the uppermost tip of this hidden continental mass, according to researchers led by Gillian Foulger, emeritus professor of geophysics at Durham University…

“The existence of Icelandia needs to be tested,” Foulger and her colleagues said…adding that Icelandia is “a convenient example” to pioneer new methods and hypotheses that ”could be applied to other candidate sunken continents that are common in the oceans.”

With its dramatic landscapes and frequent volcanic eruptions, Iceland is a geological hotspot that has attracted attention from Earth scientists for centuries. The island is located on top of the divergent boundary of the North American and Eurasian continental plates, which cause tectonic turbulence on the island as they move apart.

This small nation, potentially atop a vast submerged continent, is a beautiful place. One of my favorite travel destinations in decades past. It’s been way too long; but, any trip abroad that could be routed through Iceland automatically decided my choices. It’s fierce and wild climate is matched by the independent culture of the folk who live there.

NM monsoon season brings out all our wildflowers


Common Yarrow

Bandelier National Monument will change the park visitor center hours from 9 AM to 4:30 PM to 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM on August 1, 2021. Good summer rains have produced a massive wildflower bloom in Bandelier’s high country that should last for at least several more weeks…

Abundant moisture in the parks high country has created the perfect conditions for a wildflower bonanza. Hiking trails such as Cerro Grande and Alamo Boundary are the best places to see a wide assortment of moisture loving blooms including mariposa lilies, harebells, and shooting stars. Cerro Grande starts on Highway 4, is approximately 2 ¼ miles each way and climbs 1200 feet in elevation. Alamo Boundary Trail is located on Forest Service Road 289 (Dome Road) and is about 1.5 miles one way but relatively level. Alamo Boundary Trail connects with the Coyote Call Trail on the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Both trailheads have small parking areas, so it is best to arrive early in the morning. Afternoon thunderstorms should also be a consideration when planning any hikes. Acting Superintendent Dennis Milligan reminds visitors to look for flowers. “Feel free to enjoy and photograph them but don’t pick them. They need to remain in place so all visitors can enjoy their beauty.”

RTFA for charges, regulations. I’ve been in Bandelier in seasons like the one we’re experiencing, this year. It’s glorious.

Wildflowers are burgeoning all over northern New Mexico, this year. I’m constantly distracted on my daily exercise walks by flowers I’ve not seen in a few decades.

Google’s 1-character typo locked users out of their phones and more

Google says it has fixed a major Chrome OS bug that locked users out of their devices. Google’s bulletin says that Chrome OS version 91.0.4472.165, which was briefly available this week, renders users unable to log in to their devices, essentially bricking them.

Chrome OS automatically downloads updates and switches to the new version after a reboot, so users who reboot their devices are suddenly locked out them. The go-to advice while this broken update is out there is to not reboot.

ChromeOS is open source, so we can get a bit more detail about the fix thanks to Android Police hunting down a Reddit comment from user elitist_ferret. The problem apparently boils down to a single-character typo. Google flubbed a conditional statement in Chrome OS’s Cryptohome VaultKeyset, the part of the OS that holds user encryption keys. The line should read “if (key_data_.has_value() && !key_data_->label().empty()) {” but instead of “&&”—the C++ version of the “AND” operator—the bad update used a single ampersand, breaking the second half of the conditional statement.

I spent a fair piece of time as an English major. I practically have a major neurological breakdown every time I bump into a typo. Which means – on the InterWebiTubes – probably once or twice per hour. Or more.

This one wins the prize horse laugh.

Born in the USA…two of a mind

President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen will release a joint book, Renegades: Born in the U.S.A., on October 26th globally via Higher Ground/Penguin Random House.

…”A collection of candid, intimate, and entertaining conversations,” which began in Spotify’s co-produced podcast of the same name. Published in an oversized, fully illustrated format, the book will also feature rare and exclusive photographs from the authors’ personal collections and never-before-seen archival material, including Springsteen’s handwritten lyrics and Obama’s annotated speeches.

“Over the years, what we’ve found is that we’ve got a shared sensibility,” Obama writes in the book’s opening pages. “About work, about family, and about America. In our own ways, Bruce and I have been on parallel journeys trying to understand this country that’s given us both so much. Trying to chronicle the stories of its people. Looking for a way to connect our own individual searches for meaning and truth and community with the larger story of America.”

Springsteen adds, in the book’s introduction: “There were serious conversations about the fate of the country, the fortune of its citizens, and the destructive, ugly, corrupt forces at play that would like to take it all down. This is a time of vigilance when who we are is being seriously tested. Hard conversations about who we are and who we want to become can perhaps serve as a small guiding map for some of our fellow citizens.”

They are what they say they are. “Renegades” compared to the average American stuck into the two-party carousel. Pretty much straight down the middle of any road I ever marched on.

I started a few years before either. It’s been 61 years since my first sit-in in a drugstore in Virginia. But, then I’m older than either of them, as well. My heart, my understanding of class and history stands to the Left of either. But, unlike some of those partaking of political struggle in this benighted land, it ain’t a sect or religion. It’s just what needs to be done to find justice for all.

We can march together.