August 10th, 2018


Cloning Dogs

Some people are all upset about cloning dogs, on the grounds that it's cruel to animals.  The dogs are treated tolerably well.  You want to complain about cruelty to animals, look at the commercial farms.  But most people don't give a fuck about those because cows and chickens aren't pets. 

Today's Adventures

We went out shopping today. 

We stopped at Flesor's Candy Kitchen.  They have many kinds of homemade candy, some common things like turtles, but also many that you don't see everywhere.  I got a cashew cluster and an apple pie truffle, both quite good, of which I favor the cashew. There were other things I'd like to try.  They also do lunches and homemade ice cream, which we'd like to explore another time.

I also saw something I don't see very often: a young man with very clear self-injury marks on his left wrist.  No effort at all to hide them, which is not typical; and more females than males are prone to cutting, as males generally prefer to get their consensual pain from rough sports.  But it's not unknown.  I mention it here for my friends who are involved with self-injury.  You are not alone.

The Mattoon Wal-Mart is all torn up for renovations. :/  So we'll have to shop in Charleston for a while, where the selection is less good, but that's better than crawling all over the store trying to find where they put things. 

We got a little rain today.  Actually, we got soaked up in Tuscola going to and from the candy store.  But later on, when we came home, there were puddles around the house.

Why Geoengineering is a Bad Idea

Apparently it took a while for scientists to remember that plants need sunlight.  >_<  I can't make this shit up.  I have pointed this out every time someone has suggested geoengineering.  Obviously if you reduce sunlight you'll hurt the plants.  Plus any additional damage done by whatever crud is used to block the sunlight.  Plus the insanely high risk of tinkering with a system that we don't know exactly how it works and have already damaged in multiple ways.  The latter may be debatable.  But everyone knows that plants need sunlight and less sunlight is bad for plants ... after they're reminded of it. 

How Expectations Hurt People

The expectation of checking work email at home harms workers even if they don't actually check it.  That means the damage comes not just from the action but the possibility of it -- as the article observes, from the lack of boundaries.

Here's the thing: flexibility only works if it includes the ability to say NO.  In a sense, I'm always "at work."  I'm a bard.  I can't turn my brain off.  All day long, I observe things, ideas mill around in my brain, sometimes I sit and write them out.  I often feel like I should be working.  In order for something to really captivate me, its value has to exceed the pleasure and productivity of writing (or gardening, or doing some other important useful task), and that's not very common.  What makes it work is that I can, in fact, say no at any time.  I can go to be whenever I decide I'm tired enough.  I can get up when I feel stiff.  I can go outside if it's a gorgeous day.  If I get sick for a week, I can take that week off. My schedule will be bitched to hell as a result, but nobody can force me to work when I can't sit up.  Which means that I'm working as much as I want to, and since I love writing, that adds up to a lot.  Then I can, for instance, go to a fair on whichever day the temperature is low enough I won't melt five minutes after leaving the car.  So that works.

Any "flexible" work situation that slops work into private time, but doesn't  allow people to carve the same amount of time out of the regular workday, is going to be a disaster.  People need privacy.  They need time off.  If you don't provide it, they'll die on you.  Consider, for example, the 20-year life expectancy gap between rich and poor.  It's not just about "better" health care.  It's that rich people get to sleep, take vacations, and turn off their phone if they feel like it.  Poor people are always on call for someone.  And it kills them.

Science Says Salt Is Safe

This one really surprised me.  Modern food has a ton of salt added, so I figured that was probably bad for people.  Apparently, somehow, only about 5% of people eat enough salt for it to be actually dangerous.  And even that goes away if they also eat lots of fruits and vegetables to pick up enough potassium.  So if you like salt, go for it.  \o/  How often do you get good  news from science?  Most of it tells you what you shouldn't do, not what's safe to do.

Me, I can't stand the taste of salt unless I've been sweating.  My salt tolerance is very narrow. It takes only a small drop for me to reach for the potato chips.  About three or four of them.  Then I quit.  I spend the warm season with a can of chips on my desk.  In the winter, I barely touch the stuff.  I'll put a pinch in when I'm cooking for the chemical flavor enhancement, but you can't taste the salt itself, and most people will add salt at the table, which is fine.

Huh, now I'm wondering if the "salted candy" craze would actually work on a banana.  Salted caramel banana, salted chocolate banana ... you could make frozen monkey tails that way and probably keep people from faceplanting in the heat.  I can't stand salted chocolate bars or cookies. :P  But salted monkey tails on a hot day might work.

Marine Mammals and Pesticides

 Marine mammals lack a protein that protects terrestrial mammals from organophosphate pesticides.  (They may or may not have a different type of protection.)  I immediately wonder if this has anything to do with problems such as beaching and skin deformities.  Reports from previous studies point to a need to study how marine mammals respond during spikes of organophosphate runoff.

Earthquakes Beget Earthquakes

Here's a report about earthquakes causing new earthquakes on the opposite side of the globe.  Well, that's obvious.  It's like a coup-countercoup injury.  The crust is all one thing, with a bunch of cracks in it.  If you whack one side of it, the force waves will spread out over the globe -- and then converge  as they move toward the far point.  A strong earthquake will generate waves that still have some real oomph, so when they come back together, they can cause trouble.

It would be really interesting to map the concentric expanding-contracting force waves against the equations of linear force spread through the cracks of the global fault system.  The math for that is over my head.  But the geometry isn't.  A lot of other examples show the power of crossing a line over a circle or a sphere.  That's always something to watch for.  And fault lines tend to be fractals, like a river or a tree.  So it has to be calculable; it's made of math.  Possibly math nobody here knows how to read, but still math.  You might not be able to forecast earthquakes in general, but if you could hack that math, I bet it would tell you whether a given quake is strong enough to cause a countercoup quake, and if so, whether the countercoup is severe enough to need a warning.  You'd have hours of warning ... less the time required to crunch the math.

Record-Breaking Fires

California is on fire again, this time with the Mendocino Complex larger than anything in the past.

Well, that's what happens when you cut down almost all of the 200-foot-tall trees that wring water out of clouds, and you drain most of the water out of the rivers.  The land dries out.  Duh.  Also, don't build houses in fire chimneys just because the view is nice.  It's nice because nothing sensible wants to live in a fire chimney.

Hothouse Earth

This article talks about tipping points and the trend toward Hothouse Earth.  So far, so good.

What I don't think most people realize is that we're not talking about tipping this kind of domino effect, but rather this kind.  We've already knocked over the first several smaller dominoes.  In order to survive, now we need to get ahead of  the fall and knock out several medium ones to create a firebreak.  Otherwise, we're already pretty much fucked.  Most people just don't see it yet.  By the time they do, it will be too late.  It already is too late to avoid massive unpleasant changes, many of which are currently here (e.g. California on fire, the debirding of the Mojave).  What we're hoping to avoid now is the threat of human extinction.  I've been squalling about this since about the time I could talk and it's done fuckall good.  At this point I'm pretty much down to defending my right to stand in the foyer-ever-after and say, "I fucking told you so."