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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

RETRO FILES / WORLD’S LARGEST LIBRARY FOUNDED

 

President Thomas Jefferson's collection of 6,487 books is on display at the Library of Congress for tourists and researchers alike. 

On April 24, 1800, as part of an act of Congress providing for the removal of the new national government from Philadelphia to Washington, President John Adams approved an act of Congress providing $5,000 for books for the use of Congress—the beginning of the Library of Congress. 

A Joint Congressional Committee—the first joint committee—would furnish oversight. In 1802, President Thomas Jefferson approved a legislative compromise that made the job of Librarian of Congress a presidential appointment, giving the Library of Congress a unique relationship with the American Presidency. 

Jefferson named the first two Librarians of Congress, each of whom also served as the clerk of the House of Representatives. 

On August 24th, 1814, the Capitol Building, which at the time housed Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress, was the first building burned, with the White House soon to follow. The next morning the British planned to continue their arson and pyrotechnics through America’s capital when a violent storm extinguished the burning fires set by the British.

It was also former President Jefferson, retired to Monticello, who came to the new Library’s rescue during the War of 1812. In 1814, the British burned Washington, destroying the Capitol and the small congressional library in its north wing. Congress accepted Jefferson’s offer to sell his comprehensive personal library of 6,487 books to “recommence” its own library. 

Jefferson’s concept of universality is the rationale for the comprehensive collecting policies of today’s Library of Congress. 

For a TIMELINE of the Library of Congress CLICK HERE.  


 

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

AMERICANA / PSYCHEDELICS MAY BETTER TREAT DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY SYMPTOMS THAN PRESCRIPTION ANTIDEPRESSANTS FOR PATIENTS WITH ADVANCED CANCER


The headline above sits atop of a recent article published in TheConversation.com 

 CLICK HERE for the article by C. Michael White, Professor of Pharmacy Practice University of Connecticut Here’s a snippet: 

“…People who develop PTSD from military service or physical or sexual violence commonly experience depression and anxiety. Research on MDMA-facilitated psychotherapy, in which psychotherapists incorporate psychedelic sessions with traditional counseling, has shown that this treatment approach can effectively reduce PTSD symptoms by allowing patients to be willing and able to share traumatic memories to help process them. 

These reductions were larger than those seen in studies on prescription antidepressants alone. Based on this research, my team and I hypothesize that psychedelic sessions might have an advantage over traditional prescription antidepressants for patients with cancer-related depression or anxiety because it may help them deal with their underlying trauma…”

 

Sunday, May 28, 2023

SUNDAY REVIEW / VOTERS WANT COMPROMISE IN CONGRESS—SO WHY THE BRINKSMANSHIP OVER THE DEBT CEILING?


The headline above sits atop of a recent article published in TheConversation.com 

 CLICK HERE for the article by Laurel Harbridge-Yong Associate Professor of Political Science, Northwestern University.

Here’s a snippet: “…So you now have many Republicans who are more willing to fight quite hard against the Democrats because they don't want to give a win to Biden. Democrats are also resistant to compromising, both because they don't want to gut programs that they put in place and also because they don't want to make this look like a win for Republicans, who were able to play chicken and get what they wanted. These dynamics, layered on top of policy interests, all contribute to the problems that we're seeing now…” 





Saturday, May 27, 2023

COFFEE BEANS & BEINGS / TOO MUCH SUGAR SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE FIRST CLUE.

 

Still from "Sudden Impact" 1983, the fourth Dirty Harry flick.

Coffee/Café scene from “Sudden Impact,” a crime flick starring a very young Clint Eastwood. Click Here  Go ahead make our day! 

Acorn Cafe (fake name for a long gone indy burger joint is now a McDonald's in San Francisco at 901 Third Street at Townsend (below).






Friday, May 26, 2023

FISCAL FRIDAY / ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION ON INVESTING IN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE


GUEST BLOG / Compiled by Capital Group, home of American Funds, who enlisted three experts:
Mark Casey is an equity portfolio manager with 22 years of investment experience (as of 12/31/2022). He holds an MBA from Harvard and a bachelor's degree from Yale. Richmond Wolf is an equity portfolio manager with 26 years of investment experience (as of 12/31/2022). He also covers U.S. medical technology companies and REITs as an equity investment analyst. He holds a PhD from the California Institute of Technology and a bachelor's from Princeton. Drew Macklis is an equity investment analyst with six years of industry experience (as of 12/31/2022). He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor's degree in economics and global affairs from Yale University. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is having an iPhone moment with the launch of ChatGPT, a chatbot technology that can simulate human-like understanding and produce well-crafted, conversational responses. 

Racing to a million users in five days — and 100 million by January 2023 — ChatGPT has already been used to write short stories and academic papers as well as to create music and videos. Since the release of the chatbot, developed by OpenAI with a more than $10 billion investment from Microsoft, every day seems to bring news of incremental advances in natural language models, along with occasional apocalyptic warnings about the rise of robot overlords. 

“As was true with the mainframe era in the 1950s, PCs in the 1980s and 90s and most recently the mobile and cloud era, AI has the potential to be the next technology platform that drives major productivity gains and changes the world,” says equity investment analyst Drew Macklis, who covers semiconductors, autos and mobility technology. “Each of these eras created investment opportunities, but it’s critical for investors to separate the reality from the hype and be sharp on where value can accrue in the chain.” 

For starters, ChatGPT does not yet possess human logic per se, but can be better thought of as hyper-scale pattern recognition. Such chatbots built on large language models are one example of how AI is already being applied across the economy. The key question for investors is: Has AI finally reached a commercial tipping point? 

 ”I believe AI can be one of the most profound investment trends of the next decade,” Macklis adds. “Years of deep AI research, breakthroughs in areas like transformer models and now a groundswell of interest in ChatGPT have set the stage for adoption to accelerate rapidly over the next five years.”

 Here, Macklis, Mark Casey, an equity portfolio manager for The Growth Fund of America®, and Rich Wolf, an equity portfolio manager for The New Economy Fund®, share their views on how artificial intelligence is transforming industries and driving opportunity for companies and investors. 

1. Robots are already here — and getting smarter 

by Mark Casey with 22 years of investment industry experience 

As interesting as I find large language models like ChatGPT, it is possible AI-powered robots will have a bigger economic impact in the next handful of years. Consider these four examples. 

Amazon has been deploying a robot called Sparrow, which picks up items and puts them in shipping boxes. In 2015, when Amazon held a competition to design a picking robot, the winner picked up 10 of 12 items at a rate of two minutes per successful pick. Seven years later, Sparrow can pick out roughly two-thirds of the more than 100 million items in an Amazon warehouse at a rate of just seconds per pick. Today, more than a million people work in Amazon fulfilment centers. This is obviously not great news for warehouse workers, but it might help Amazon address its current high operating costs. 

Second, self-driving cars and trucks have been gaining real-world traction. Waymo One and Waymo Driver, the driverless car services of Google parent Alphabet and General Motors’ Cruise, are robo-taxiing passengers — without safety drivers — in Phoenix and San Francisco. Both companies have disclosed plans to launch taxis in more cities, including Austin and Los Angeles, as well as to add thousands of self-driving vehicles to their operations over the next several quarters. 

 A third example is the use of drones to make deliveries. Alphabet’s Wing has delivered more than 300,000 packages in test markets in Australia, Finland, Ireland and Texas. Amazon has also been testing drones in Texas and California. It is still early, but the company hopes to deliver 500 million packages annually utilizing the technology by the end of the decade. 

 Fourth, to see how robots for use at home are evolving, go online and watch a video of RT-1, a project Google recently disclosed. This one-armed robot has been trained on the same sorts of large language models powering ChatGPT and is able to perform more than 700 tasks with a high success rate. 

 Although it is too early to determine which companies will emerge as market leaders, one thing appears clear to me: The wider use of robots, along with the massive computing power required for broader uses of AI, will likely be a major tailwind for the semiconductor industry and cloud services. If you ask ChatGPT a question, it checks billions of data points to produce the desired content. 

 In fact, during its March earnings call semiconductor maker Broadcom reported that demand for some of its advanced chips surged in recent months as tech giants seek to integrate generative AI models like ChatGPT into their search platforms and other offerings. And chip maker Nvidia announced an initiative featuring its own AI tools. 

 2. AI in health care is helping doctors make better diagnoses 

By Richmond Wolf with 26 years of investment industry experience 

Often we think about innovation within health care in terms of drug discovery. But tech and health care are coming together in interesting ways. AI is playing a growing role in helping medical professionals generate new treatments and better patient outcomes. 

The simplest examples are within the use of AI-powered software to analyze X-rays, MRIs or CT scans to help radiologists improve the accuracy rate of their diagnoses. 

 German industrial conglomerate Siemens, a global leader in AI-related patents, has developed tools for its imaging machines that essentially apply inference modeling to better identify irregularities in a scan. While not replacing human radiologists, this enhances their ability to do their jobs. 

Such AI-assisted analysis is also being integrated into the field of pathology, where significant advances are possible. Today, pathologists diagnose cancer by looking at tissue under a microscope, a time-consuming process that often requires consultation with other pathologists. Pathologists, with the help of AI-powered pattern recognition, can now improve their productivity and benefit from a larger knowledge base. 

 AI can also augment the ability to detect cancer by assisting researchers with genomic analysis. It has the potential to become a standard of care in many of these applications within the next decade. 

 Companies across the technology and health care sectors are also using AI to help develop drugs. For example, a team at Meta, parent company of Facebook, recently developed an AI algorithm that looks at amino acid sequence information and predicts how proteins will fold with a surprising degree of accuracy. 

 Why is that important? Going back to 10th grade biology classes, DNA is transcribed by RNA which translates the code and tells the body to produce a certain protein. Well, there are roughly 20,000 genes in the human genome, which translates to hundreds of thousands of proteins because an individual protein sequence can fold many different ways and have a great variety of combinations. Misfolded proteins can lead to disease. So, researchers at Meta, using AI tools, created a database of more than 600 million protein combinations. 

This database can potentially help health care professionals better understand certain diseases and develop lifesaving treatments for them — and likely get the treatments to patients faster and cheaper. Other companies are now taking what Meta did to the next level. AI engines should drive faster drug discovery, which could lead to getting medicines to market faster to treat disease. 

 3. AI can drive productivity and disruption across industries 

By Drew Macklis with six years of investment industry experience 

One of the most striking developments has been the pace of progress in the AI ecosystem since the release of ChatGPT. As with prior tech platforms, the tipping point often comes when a broad base of developers starts building useful tools on top of the underlying technology. 

For the iPhone, this was the Apple app store, which is now home to millions of applications. ChatGPT seems to have sparked a similar explosion on top of AI foundation models, with developers now building a wide range of tools that unlock creative new use cases for AI — from drafting PowerPoint presentations to booking travel, to ordering groceries, to online shopping. 

 Microsoft, which has already issued a limited test release of its Bing search engine that harnesses ChatGPT, has also disclosed plans to include the technology in its widely used Office software suite, its Teams platform and its GitHub code development service. 

 Moreover, while text-based models like ChatGPT have captured public interest, large advances are also being made in other areas, such as image-based AI models like Midjourney or coding models like Codex and AlphaCode. These further broaden the use cases of AI to larger swaths of the economy and over time can drive what can be thought of as a new version of Moore’s law for knowledge work. 

 As part of Capital Group’s investment research into AI, I recently organized meetings with 15 chief technology officers from leading companies across industries including banking, energy, telecom, consumer goods and others. These discussions helped us form early views on how AI tools might transform parts of the economy and set expectations for adoption curves over the coming years. 

While it’s clear the impacts will take time, there are long-term opportunities for improved efficiency, new products and services, and business models — all with important implications for how we might invest over the long term. 

 What does the future of AI look like? 

 In a publication titled, “The Age of AI has begun,” Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote: “The development of AI is as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, and the mobile phone.” As with any leap in technological advancement, investors are prone to overestimate what is likely to happen over the next three to five years and underestimate what could happen over the next decade. But the recent developments in AI suggest we may be at the start of a cycle that could transform the technology landscape as well as the broader economy. 

 Because of the massive amounts of data required to train AI foundation models, cloud platform giants and makers of advanced semiconductors used in data centers may see demand for their offerings rise dramatically as businesses across the entire economic landscape develop new applications for AI. 

 Beyond obvious tech and ”knowledge” sectors, areas of potential AI application include supply chain management, insurance, oil and gas, utilities (for grid and load management) and autonomous farming. AI strategy may therefore become an increasingly important part of company analysis. What’s more, AI will also have implications for national security and the defense industry as defense companies develop autonomous planes and ships. 

 Of course, the technology presents risks. Cybersecurity will become more challenging when artificial intelligence can mimic a human voice, for example. Chatbots thus far have been prone to hallucination, providing irrational or incorrect answers. And in a world where prediction models can create novels, poems, photos and videos, questions of ownership issues will be challenging. 

 Just to be clear: This article was written by humans.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

URBAN EXPLORER / SOHOs THIRD SUNDAY TOURS

During May (Preservation Month nationally) or any month join SOHOs expert docents every third Sunday of the month as they weave historical tales of the Marston House and nearby Bankers Hill and of one of San Diego's greatest architects, Irving J. Gill. 

 SOHO offers four history ladened architectural tour choices every third Sunday during 2023. 

 In no special order this post highlights the Bankers Hill Walking tour: 

 Other tours are the Seventh Avenue Walking tour: A progressive vision; Marston House Garden Tour and the Marston House: Architectural Details of Master Architects Hebbard & Gill. 

 Bankers Hill Walking Tour 

Length: 90 minutes begins 10:30 am. 

Tour fee: $20 per person. 

Starting point: northwest corner of Albatross Street & West Walnut Avenue, San Diego 92103 

 The sloped terrain of Bankers Hill, near downtown San Diego, is blessed with pedestrian bridges over canyons and views of San Diego Bay that few affluent professionals and first families and their architects could resist. 

These city blocks are rich in the early 20th-century Modern architecture that Gill pioneered and include the largest concentration of Gill homes built anywhere, on hidden Albatross Street. 

As the neighborhood grew, other prominent architects, such as William Templeton Johnson, Mead & Requa, and Hazel Wood Waterman, San Diego's first female architect, also designed homes here. 

 Gill's architecture is strikingly Modern in Bankers Hill, with its spare, cubist arrangements of volumes and shapes, such as flat roofs, arches and pergolas, without surface ornament, with the exception of trailing vines and shadows. 

 This tour is ADA accessible. 

 PURCHASE ADVANCE TICKETS 

Online: Click Here 

In Person: Marston House Museum Shop • 3525 Seventh Avenue Walk up tickets subject to availability. 

Tour meets and begins at Albatross Street @ West Walnut Street


Wednesday, May 24, 2023

DESIGN OF OUR TIMES / SKETCH ARTIST TO HISTORY

Art Lien on the U.S. Supreme Court steps

Arthur "Art" Lien—sometimes simply known as “Courtartist”—goes where cameras cannot. He’s been sketching courts since 1976, and for most of that time his main beat has been the U.S. Supreme Court. Since 1980 he has worked almost exclusively for NBC News, and recently he started drawing for SCOTUSblog. 

On his website, Art notes, “Courtroom sketching is a form of visual journalism or reportage drawing that is slowly dying out. Where once upon a time news organization each had their own artist covering a story, today a ‘pool’ artist often sketches for all.” 

 Lien retired in 2022 after 45 years documenting judicial proceedings most notably at the Supreme Court, Washington DC.

Not all of Arthur Lien's courtroom sketches were based at the Supreme Court
in Washington DC.  Above is Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at his arraignment in Boston, July 10, 2012.


CourtArtist at work.





Monday, May 22, 2023

1 PIX = 1K WORDS / EMBRACING ZELENSKIY

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is escorted by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to lay flowers in front of the Cenotaph for the Victims of the Atomic Bomb at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, after Zelenskiy was invited to the Group of Seven nations' summit in Hiroshima, Japan. Photo: Eugene Hoshiko/Pool 

MEDIA MONDAY / HIGH COURT LOW ETHICS / THE FORBEARANCE OF CLARENCE

Via Clay Jones, Claytoonz.com 

GUEST BLOG / By Forbes.com
--GOP donor and real estate magnate Harlan Crow paid thousands of dollars in tuition for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ grandnephew, who he served as the legal guardian for, ProPublica reports in early May—without the justice disclosing it—the latest in a series of controversies involving Thomas’ financial relationship with Crow that have sparked ethics concerns and calls for Thomas to resign. 

More: Senate Judiciary Committee on Ethics Code for Supreme Court Amidst Justice Thomas Scandal CLICK HERE for important introductory Senate statement. 

 Via Matt Wuerker, Politico 

 Via Bob Englehart, CagleCartoons.com 

 Via Dave Granlund, Politicalcartoons.com 

 Via Walt Handelsman, The Times-Picayune





 

Sunday, May 21, 2023

SUNDAY REVIEW / HEMINGWAY’S THE CAT IN THE RAIN

A hotel in Ravello, Italy near the sea.
There were only two Americans stopping at the hotel in Ravello [Italy]. They did not know any of the people they passed on the stairs on their way to and from their room. 

 Their room was on the second floor facing the sea. It also faced the public garden and the war monument. There were big palms and green benches in the public garden. 

 In the good weather there was always an artist with his easel. Artists liked the way the palms grew and the bright colors of the hotels facing the gardens and the sea. 

 Italians came from a long way off to look up at the war monument. It was made of bronze and glistened in the rain. 

 Today, it was raining. 

 The rain dripped from the palm trees. Water stood in pools on the gravel paths. The sea broke in a long line in the rain and slipped back down the beach to come up and break again in a long line in the rain. 

 Most cars were gone from the square by the war monument. Across the square in the doorway of the café a waiter stood looking out at the empty square. 

 The American wife [Hadley] stood at the window looking out. Outside right under their window a cat was crouched under one of the dripping green tables. The cat was trying to make herself so compact that she would not be dripped on. 

 ‘I’m going down and get that kitty,’ the American wife said. 

 ‘I’ll do it,’ her husband [George] offered from the bed. 

 ‘No, I’ll get it. The poor kitty out trying to keep dry under a table.’ 

 The husband went on reading, lying propped up with the two pillows at the foot of the bed. ‘Don’t get wet,’ he said. 

 Hadley went downstairs and the hotel owner stood up and bowed to her as she passed the office. His desk was at the far end of the office. He was an old man and very tall. 

 ‘Il piove,1’the wife said. 

 ‘Si, Si, Signora, brutto tempo. It is very bad weather.’ He stood behind his desk in the far end of the dim room. The wife liked him. She liked the deadly serious way he received any complaints. She liked his dignity. She liked the way he wanted to serve her. She liked the way he felt about being a hotelkeeper. She liked his old, heavy face and big hands. She moved to the door, opened it and looked out. 

 It was raining harder. 

A man in a rubber cape was crossing the empty square to the café. The cat would be around to the right. Perhaps she could go along under the eaves. As she stood in the doorway an umbrella opened behind her. It was the maid who looked after their room. 

 ‘You must not get wet,’ she smiled, speaking Italian. Of course, the hotel-keeper had sent her. With the maid holding the umbrella over her, she walked along the gravel path until she was under their window. The table was there, washed bright green in the rain, but the cat was gone. She was suddenly disappointed. The maid looked up at her. ‘Ha perduto qualque cosa, Signora?’ 

 ‘There was a cat,’ said the American girl. 

 ‘A cat?’ 

 ‘Si, il gatto.’ 

 ‘A cat?’ the maid laughed. ‘A cat in the rain?’ 

 ‘Yes, –’ she said, ‘under the table.’ Then, ‘Oh, I wanted it so much. I wanted a kitty.’ When she talked English the maid’s face tightened. 

 ‘Come, Signora,’ she said. ‘We must get back inside. You will be wet.’ 

 ‘I suppose so,’ said the American girl. They went back along the gravel path and passed in the door. The maid stayed outside to close the umbrella. 

 As the American girl passed the office, the padrone bowed from his desk. Something felt very small and tight inside the girl. The padrone made her feel very small and at the same time really important. She had a momentary feeling of being of supreme importance. She went on up the stairs. She opened the door of the room. George was on the bed, reading. 

 ‘Did you get the cat?’ he asked, putting the book down. 

 ‘It was gone.’ 

 ‘Wonder where it went to,’ he said, rubbing his eyes from reading. 

She sat down on the bed. ‘I wanted it so much,’ she said. ‘I don’t know why I wanted it so much. I wanted that poor kitty. It isn’t any fun to be a poor kitty out in the rain.’ 

 George was reading again. 

She went over and sat in front of the mirror of the dressing table looking at herself with the hand glass. She studied her profile, first one side and then the other. Then she studied the back of her head and her neck. ‘Don’t you think it would be a good idea if I let my hair grow out?’ she asked, looking at her profile again. 

 George looked up and saw the back of her neck, clipped close like a boy’s. Women were wearing their hair shorter now that the war was still raging. ‘I like it the way it is.’ 

 ‘I get so tired of it,’ Hadley said. ‘I get so tired of looking like a boy.’ 

 George shifted his position in the bed. He hadn’t looked away from her since she started to speak. ‘You look pretty darn nice,’ he said. 

 She laid the mirror down on the dresser and went over to the window and looked out. It was getting darker. ‘I want to pull my hair back tight and smooth and make a big knot at the back that I can feel,’ she said. ‘I want to have a kitty to sit on my lap and purr when I stroke her.’ 

 ‘Yeah?’ George said from the bed. 

 ‘And I want to eat at a table with my own silver and I want candles. And I want it to be spring and I want to brush my hair out in front of a mirror and I want a kitty and I want some new clothes.’ 

 ‘Oh, find something to read,’ George said. He was reading again. His wife was looking out of the window. It was quite dark now and still raining in the palm trees. 

 ‘Anyway, I want a cat,’ she said, ‘I want a cat. I want a cat now. If I can’t have long hair or any fun, I can have a cat.’ 

 George was not listening. He was still reading his book. His wife still looked out of the window where the light had come on in the square. 

There was a knock at the door. 

 ‘Avanti,’ George said. He looked up from his book. 

 In the doorway stood the maid. She held the tortoiseshell kitten pressed tight against her and swung down against her body. ‘Excuse me,’ she said, ‘the padrone asked me to bring this for the Signora.’ 

 Author Hemingway with one of the cat’s in his life. He loved cats. 

Central Ravello


 

Saturday, May 20, 2023

COFFEE BEANS & BEINGS / ALL ESPRESSO DRINKS EXPLAINED, THE VIDEO

What's the difference between popular espresso drinks like Cappuccino, Latte, Flat White or Cortado? We also covered all black coffee options based on the single or double espresso shot. You will see all the coffee drinks side-by-side! Filmed in Brno, Czech Republic at coffee house Vecerka Brno. 

VECERKA BRNO 
Pekarska 9, 602 00 Brno-stred, Czechia 
vecerkabruno.cz tomi@brnenskavecerka.cz [owner] 

 CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO. 










Friday, May 19, 2023

FRIDAY FEST /HYSTERIC NORTH PARK ROCKS MAY 26 & 27


Historic North Park’s Music Fest Tomorrow. If you haven’t heard before the tunes of Wild Wild Wets—then you’re in for a street band serendipity. 

 And on Sunday not to miss is Underground Railroad to Candyland. TICKETS are $45 for 1-day passes and $60 for 2-day passes. Show up in your dancing shoes and favorite human but first click the link below to get your tickets to North Park Music fest today. 

Band looking for a name: PillartoPost suggests "And much much more."

CLICK HERE. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

BREAKING NEWS / LIZ HOLMES SLAPPED WITH $452 MILLION RESTITUTION BILL.

Running out of time

 LATEST BAD DAY IN COURT. 

 CLICK HERE FOR ASSOCIATED PRESS UPDATE. 

Latest headline: Holmes ordered to prison May 30

DESIGN OF OUR TIMES/ ART IMITATES LIFE

 


The film Blade Runner 2049 won two Oscars for set design and cinematography. Scene above depicts a fictional Los Angeles in the future. 

 


The uncanny scene (above) is real time from a video of New York City in the rain, 2022.  Note how the twin exhaust of a flying car, top image, is mimicked by the twin headlights of the Manhattan bus.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

SPACE CADETS / FINALLY, A SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION FOR OUMUAMUA, THE GASSY (AHEM) CIGAR FROM DEEP SPACE

Oumuamua, the possible ‘alien spaceship’ that puzzled astronomers is a hydrogen-farting rock. Think of it as a metaphor for an outer space “Hindenburg blimp” over New Jersey.

GUEST BLOG / By ExplorersWeb.com--The recent elongated asteroid object darting around deep space captured astronomers’ curiosity for two big reasons. One, it was the first object we’ve detected here that came from outside our solar system. Two, it kept changing speeds. 

 That prompted reflexive inquiry from skywatchers of all stripes, including a Harvard scientist working with the Pentagon: Was it an alien spacecraft? Does your grandmother smoke cigars? 

Well, maybe. And the answer is… A paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature replies, unequivocally, “no.” Instead, it’s a space rock that farts hydrogen every once in awhile as it tumbles through the varyingly hot and cold vacuum of space. 

 The object, called Oumuamua, drew attention on a recent junket past the sun. It accelerated as it escaped the sun’s gravity when it should have done the opposite. Comets sometimes exhibit similar behavior due to melting ice, but Oumuamua is not a comet. 

 No evidence of alien pilots 

But instead of detecting evidence of alien pilots, the recent paper’s authors found that Oumuamua may have released, ahem, clouds of hydrogen molecules that had been trapped in ice below its surface as the sun warmed it. That had the effect of slowing it down on its way past the star. So it appeared to accelerate once the gassy discharges dissipated. 

 Oumuamua first appeared on the radar in October 2017. Its arrival pushed Harvey Weinstein; California wildfires and the deadly Las Vegas sniper massacre off the headlines.  

After a telescope in Hawaii spotted the Big O, a free-for-all of data gathering and theorizing began. The object was traveling extremely fast, at 87.3 kilometers per second. It had no tail, despite showing comet-like properties. It was reddish-colored from “hundreds of millions of years” of absorbing cosmic radiation, and it was a weird shape. 

 Cigar-shaped oddity NASA found Oumuamua was approximately 400m long (about the length and width of Navy Pier in Chiago.

Observations suggested that Oumuamua “had been wandering through the Milky Way, unattached to any star system, for hundreds of millions of years” (Alien crew must be exhausted) before its chance encounter with us. 

Jennifer Bergner (left), a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley and the lead author of Wednesday’s study, said most recent research seeking to explain the object’s behavior revolved around its origins. A number of studies tried to explain its variable speed and distant origins but none could do so without indulging in “improbable formation scenarios,” Bergner told the media. 

 Space farts 

Bergner’s paper postulated that once Oumuamua broke free of its home solar system, cosmic rays hit water trapped in its comet-like body, creating hydrogen. The researchers think that hydrogen usually remains trapped inside Oumuamua’s ice pockets. The ice displays a structure similar to glass in the extreme cold of interstellar space. But near the sun, it started to crystallize. When that happened, the hydrogen found room to bbbrrrrtt! 

Karen Meech of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii leads the team that first found Oumuamua. (Its name in Hawaiian means “a messenger from afar arriving first.”) In English, it translates to "yikes, that's a big one, sailor."

It’s likely that objects similar to Oumuamua hurtle around the solar system all the time. They’re just hard to detect. But plans to intercept one of these interstellar wanderers do exist, Meech told NPR. If such a mission worked, we could find ourselves learning a lot more about distant star systems — partially, perhaps, through space poofs. 

 There’s also the possibility that the aforementioned believer, Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, was right. Maybe, Oumuamua is “a light sail of artificial origin” crafted by intelligent extraterrestrials, as Loeb and others suggested in a 2018 paper. If you’re taking that road, keep your eye on the Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office. (And take your chances on getting beamed up.) 

For the curious. Mankind’s biggest cigar ever made is a 1,600 pound stogie called Gran Habano Corojo #5 (now in a private collection). It’s 18 feet long and three feet wide. Made up of Nicaraguan tobacco. It’s now in a private collection after a career as a traveling oddity something akin to the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile of cigars. The maker says the overseas buyer demanded anonymity as part of the deal. Media wags have narrowed it to a buyer from Saudi Arabia or Cuba.



Monday, May 15, 2023

MEDIA MONDAY / BREAKING NEWS / THE DURHAM REPORT UNVEILED.

After four year probe, special counsel John Durham report slams DOJ and FBI for sloppy work in the Russia investigation. 

REPORT ON MATTERS RELATED TO INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES AND INVESTIGATIONS ARISING OUT OF THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. 

Special counsel John Durham has released his highly anticipated report surrounding the investigation into Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

 CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE REPORT VIA CNN 



Sunday, May 14, 2023

SUNDAY REVIEW / STARTING A BOOKSTORE TO MAYBE SAVE A [DREAM] OR A MARRIAGE


Would you open a bookstore in the Poconos village of Honesdale PA?
Of course, you would.

GUEST BLOG / By Kelly McMasters via W.W. Norton & Co, Inc. and the Literary Hub. An Excerpt from “The Leaving Season: A Memoir in Essays.”
 

 “…In the weeks before we opened the bookshop, I could feel [her husband’s] interest spark. He paid attention during our conversations, stayed at the dinner table longer. He was not very interested in learning how to build an e-commerce site or keep accounting records, but he liked the idea of selling prints, of hosting art openings. He had no interest in building a gallery or showing anyone else’s work—just his. But he had the energy he’s always gotten right before a big opening, the energy of possibility, of hope. 

“Of course, I knew too well that the elation of opening night was always followed by a cliff dive of emotion. No matter the crowd or sales, it never measured up to his hopes, or what he thought his work deserved. These were simple equations; even my toddler grasped that what went up must come down. Still, I ignored that portion of the pattern, even though part of me must have known it would come; it had been so long since I’d seen that kind of fire in him, and I wanted to help sustain it. 

“It was clear to me through my midnight calculations and YouTube-trained business plan drafting that this venture would not make us much, if any, money. We wouldn’t be able to take salaries for at least three years, every dollar pouring back into the store. But, like Bill and Paul, and Jim and Laura, and so many of our friends in the country, we’d become masters of improvisation, juggling multiple side hustles that we would continue while we shared the shop hours, chose the books together, hung the prints together, maintained the website together. There would be sacrifices, but we would make them as a team. 

“At each step of our relationship, we’d seemed to get thrown off-course. We’d been in New York the day of the World Trade Center attacks and that morning had grafted us to one another. Early in our relationship, he’d had two heart attacks, one shortly before our wedding and another a few months after, just as we bought the farmhouse. We’d had to adjust our expectations and plans. We put off the honeymoon, the house renovations, travel. Then the kids came. 

"The past ten years seemed to just happen to us. But this shop—this was a fresh start, something we could plan and build together, with intention. 

“Even though every atom in my body told me opening a shop would be an economic failure, I’d hoped it would save us. I could stand a failed business; I didn’t think I’d survive a failed marriage. And so, I kept pumping the bellows, trying to keep the fire between us burning…” 

ANOTHER EXCERPT, Below.

Kelly McMasters no longer owns the Moody Road Studios, the book store and art studio in Honesdale, PA that she created from a dream, but an article of how she began her shop was published earlier this century in the Paris Review CLICK HERE. 

Excerpt from the Paris Review of the days when the romance of marriage and her dream to start a book shop glowed: 

 “…So we moved to the country and opened a bookshop. What I hadn’t anticipated was the mix of envy, horror, and sympathy that crossed people’s faces when hearing this news. Fellow writers and artists would get all moony on us, share their own personal bookstore fantasy, or ask to come work for us. We were so lucky! We were heroes! But we also got the same incredulous question over and over: Why would you open a bookstore now?! I try to explain that it is a little like falling in love, that we really didn’t have a choice. The space was open, the price was right, and one morning over coffee my husband and I looked at one another and said at the same time: We’re opening a bookshop! Four weeks later, we did.” 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR.

Kelly McMasters, left, is the author of The Leaving Season and Welcome to Shirley, an Orion Book Award finalist, and coeditor of the anthologies Wanting: Women Writing About Desire and This Is the Place: Women Writing About Home, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Washington Post Magazine, and the Paris Review. A former bookshop owner, she teaches at Hofstra University and lives in New York.