Fire cloud — up close


Click to enlargeNOAA/NASA

❝ On August 8, 2019, a team of atmospheric scientists got an exceedingly rare look at fire clouds as they were forming. NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory passed directly through a large pyrocumulonimbus that day as it was rising from a fire in eastern Washington. The flight was part of a joint NOAA and NASA field campaign called FIREX-AQ. Scientists are studying the composition and chemistry of smoke to better understand its impact on air quality and climate…

❝ The photograph above, shot from roughly 30,000 feet (9 kilometers), shows the setting Sun shining through thick smoke at 8 p.m. Mountain Time. Particles in the smoke reflect light in ways that make the Sun appear orange…

The flight was the most detailed sampling of a pyrocumulonimbus in history, explained Peterson. A second research aircraft flew over the plume a few hours earlier in the day, and mobile labs on the ground also made detailed measurements.

Amazing photos. Quality and timing should offer useful analysis, learning for future events and their global effect.

NotPetya — Tale of a Global Cyberattack

❝ It was a perfect sunny summer afternoon in Copenhagen when the world’s largest shipping conglomerate began to lose its mind…

The gift shop also houses a technology help center, a single desk manned by IT troubleshooters next to the shop’s cashier…Across the street, an IT administrator named Henrik Jensen was working in another part of the Maersk compound, an ornate white-stone building that in previous centuries had served as the royal archive of maritime maps and charts. (Henrik Jensen is not his real name.)…Jensen was busy preparing a software update for Maersk’s nearly 80,000 employees when his computer spontaneously restarted…

❝ Jensen looked up to ask if anyone else in his open-plan office of IT staffers had been so rudely interrupted. And as he craned his head, he watched every other computer screen around the room blink out in rapid succession.

“I saw a wave of screens turning black. Black, black, black. Black black black black black,” he says. The PCs, Jensen and his neighbors quickly discovered, were irreversibly locked. Restarting only returned them to the same black screen.

That was how it started. A long, complex tale of a cyberattack that was more powerful than even the originators of the attack could have predicted. A worthwhile read.

Flying Eye Hospital


Click to enlarge

The Flying Eye Hospital, currently parked on Moffett Field in Mountain View, is a mobile ophthalmological hospital, technological marvel, and surely one of the most extraordinary vehicles on the planet. It is a converted MD-10 wide-body airliner that flies all around the world — it just got back from Bangladesh — performing eye surgeries on needy patients in developing nations while also helping to train their doctors, nurses, and medical technicians.

…One of the most technically amazing things about the Flying Eye is that it is an entirely self-contained hospital: its systems, which run purely on jet-fuel-powered generators, include its own medical gases, its own clean room, its own water purifiers, its surgical equipment, etc., including extremely sensitive equipment (again, this is eye surgery we’re talking about) which has to be stowed such that can survive serious turbulence or bumpy landings on difficult runways without requiring major maintenance…

The Flying Eye is a largely volunteer organization (and part/most of the charity Orbis International.) They have 400 volunteer faculty, including many of the best of the ophthalmological world, many of whom come back every year to work on the Flying Eye for a week or two unpaid. The pilots are also volunteers…

I wonder if the pilots have to worry about being shot down by one of our Free World cowboys [as much as ISIS] when they’re somewhere out of direct sight of journalists?

USA is now ranked a ‘Second Tier’ country at well-being

❝ Some 17 others, including all of Scandinavia, outperform the U.S. by a wide margin when it comes to well-being.

❝ America leads the world when it comes to access to higher education. But when it comes to health, environmental protection, and fighting discrimination, it trails many other developed countries, according to the Social Progress Imperative, a U.S.-based nonprofit.

❝ The results of the group’s annual survey, which ranks nations based on 50 metrics, call to mind other reviews of national well-being, such as the World Happiness Report released in March, which was led by Norway, Denmark, and Iceland, or September’s Lancet study on sustainable development. In that one, Iceland, Singapore, Sweden, and the U.S. took spots 1, 2, 3, and 28 — respectively…

❝ Of course it’s easy enough to dismiss or belittle these occasional reports, each with their unique methodologies and almost identical conclusions. Another approach, however, would be to look at them all together and conclude that they represent “mounting evidence.” In that case, Houston (and Dallas, New Orleans, Tulsa, St. Louis, Baltimore, Chicago, and New York), we have a problem.

❝ SPI produces the report in part to help city, state, and national policymakers diagnose and (ideally) address their most pressing challenges. The group’s chief executive, Michael Green, said America “is failing to address basic human needs, equip citizens to improve their quality of life, protect the environment, and provide opportunity for everyone to make personal choices and reach their full potential.”

How many politicians – either of the pallid flavors we’re allowed – offer you the opportunity to vote in support of a platform containing similar ideals?

Who’s happy, who’s not!

❝ If you want to go to your happy place, you need more than cash. A winter coat helps — and a sense of community.

A new report shows Norway is the happiest country on Earth, Americans are getting sadder, and it takes more than just money to be happy.

❝ Norway vaulted to the top slot in the World Happiness Report despite the plummeting price of oil, a key part of its economy. Income in the United States has gone up over the past decade, but happiness is declining.

The United States was 14th in the latest ranking, down from No. 13 last year, and over the years Americans steadily have been rating themselves less happy.

“It’s the human things that matter. If the riches make it harder to have frequent and trustworthy relationship between people, is it worth it?” asked John Helliwell, the lead author of the report and an economist at the University of British Columbia in Canada — ranked No. 7…

❝ Norway moved from No. 4 to the top spot in the report’s rankings, which combine economic, health and polling data compiled by economists that are averaged over three years from 2014 to 2016. Norway edged past previous champ Denmark, which fell to second. Iceland, Switzerland and Finland round out the top 5…

❝ Study co-author and economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University said in a phone interview from Oslo that the sense of community, so strong in Norway, is deteriorating in the United States.

We’re becoming more and more mean spirited. And our government is becoming more and more corrupt. And inequality is rising,” Sachs said, citing research and analysis he conducted on America’s declining happiness for the report. “It’s a long-term trend and conditions are getting worse.”

Somehow, I don’t think folks betting on “Make America Great” know crap about what brings happiness to ordinary American families, working-class individuals.

Hey, kids! Here’s the trick to drawing Donald Trump

The hair may be apparent, but it’s the mouth that scored.

Cartoonists have had many months to hone their caricatures of Donald Trump as politician. And the pictorial evolution — like some time-lapse Dawn of Man animation — has been fascinating.

Trump, of course, has long been easy to caricature broadly. Beneath the strutting rooster’s comb-over coif — which ranges from Earl Grey silver to root-vegetable orange depending on the day — there was always the outsized personality that lent itself to ready rendering.

Yet a funny thing happened on the way to the political forum: In numerous cartoons, Trump’s mouth has eclipsed his hair as the true defining feature, and the distinguishing characteristic that makes a Trump caricature one’s own.

RTFA – not only for interpretations of the creep we’ve all learned to despise – since most simply ignore reality TV cretins as habit – but, for the addition of a global view.

June set another global temperature record – in case you didn’t notice

This June has joined every other month of this year so far in setting an all-time monthly record for global temperatures, according to two separate federal science agencies — though the globe was not as extremely warm last month as it was earlier in the year.

“Warmer to much-warmer-than-average conditions dominated across much of the globe’s surface, resulting in the highest temperature departure for June since global temperature records began in 1880,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Globally averaged temperatures in June were 0.9 degrees Celsius (1.62 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the average across the 20th century, according to NOAA. That slightly surpassed temperatures measured in the prior record June of last year…

Overall, the data suggest the fading strength of the dramatic 2015-2016 El Niño event is slowly taming the record-breaking spike in global temperatures. Current Pacific Ocean conditions are neutral, with a shift into La Niña conditions expected later this year, according to NOAA…

Nonetheless, it has been a staggering run for the planet of late. “This was also the 14th consecutive month the monthly global temperature record has been broken — the longest such streak in NOAA’s 137 years of recordkeeping,” NOAA reported. Both NOAA and NASA have rated every month this year so far as a record-breaker…

Right now, 2016 is running far ahead of the prior record year, 2015, for temperatures. In a press conference Tuesday, NASA’s Gavin Schmidt, who directs the agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, provided a temperature analysis not just for June of 2016, but for the first six months of this so-far record warm year.

“This is the first time that we’re doing an analysis mid-year, mainly because the average temperatures for the first half of this year are so in excess of any first part of the year that we’ve seen,” Schmidt said.

Increases in temperature are Yuuge – except where Republicans and other Know-Nothings control the media, perception of reality for folks who don’t read beyond sports scores.