jump to navigation

Ridiculous Thoughts January 15, 2018

Posted by Sobek in News.
add a comment

RIP Dolores O’Riordan

Pyro Birds January 15, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

Alfred Hitchcock blew the whistle on those beady-eyed b*st*rds, but we all thought it was just a movie. Not so:

A new study incorporating traditional Indigenous Australian ecological knowledge describes the largely unknown behaviour of so-called ‘firehawk raptors’ – birds that intentionally spread fire by wielding burning sticks in their talons and beaks.

According to the team, firehawk raptors congregate in hundreds along burning fire fronts, where they will fly into active fires to pick up smouldering sticks, transporting them up to a kilometre (0.6 miles) away to regions the flames have not yet scorched.

“The imputed intent of raptors is to spread fire to unburned locations – for example, the far side of a watercourse, road, or artificial break created by firefighters – to flush out prey via flames or smoke,”

Belated Brief Movie Reviews January 13, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

Blade Runner 2049: By and large, cast did well, cinematography was cool, but plot was underwhelming and Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack didn’t catch the mood of Vangelis. The original Blade Runner had a film noir feel in a crowded, dynamic world. The reboot was a desolate post-apocalyptic feel in a very lonely world.

Not  a bad movie, but it will never be the classic that its predecessor was.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle: Kind of entertaining, but a funky morality where drug users are ranked as morally superior to victims of drug crime. Meh.


The Presidential Piehole January 11, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

…should remain closed unless a teleprompter is on.

It’s been clear from the start that President Trump is not a statesman, nor a diplomat, nor even someone with the normal valve between their brain and their mouth. He is, instead, a blunt businessman who is used to talking to a room full of people who aren’t in a position to criticize his speech.

So, despite all of his policy successes, we have a president who brings media storms down upon himself time and again. Completely unnecessary media storms.

Like today’s sh*th*le controversy.

Let me say straight away that no member of the federal government should ever be referring to other countries in that fashion. While it is fair to criticize an immigration policy that imports people who do not bring skills, money, or business to our country, it is ridiculous for the President of the United States to refer to the parent countries of those people as “sh*th*les.”

Absolutely ridiculous.

In my opinion, Donald Trump has assembled the best collection of policies in decades, but combined them with a demeanor which is completely unqualified for the position of president.

Damn it.

Are Exports Showing Signs of Life? January 11, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

After President Obama doomed exports to stagnation with his ill-considered promise to double them within five years, it’s been saddening to watch them go nowhere, month after month after month. But the latest report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis had some good news: exports in November reached the 2nd-highest value since 2010.

Here’s what that looks like in graphical form:

ExportsJanuary2018ReportPresident Obama informed us back in 2010 that export growth was an essential component of our economic recovery, so you’d think he’d be applauding the November numbers.

Not hearing any applause so far, though.

Manufacturing Jobs Continue Their Surge January 10, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

Manufacturing jobs continued their dramatic growth last month, making a total of 214K positions added since Trump was elected (184K since he was inaugurated). Very nice, very nice:


Flyby of Jupiter January 9, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

This is a little choppy, but it’s cool nonetheless:

Juno’s Perijove-10 Jupiter Flyby, Reconstructed in 125-Fold Time-Lapse, Preliminary

More explanation and some great stills here.

Why Do New Drugs Cost So Much? January 7, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

Here’s one reason:

Pfizer Inc is abandoning research to find new drugs aimed at treating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, the U.S. pharmaceutical company announced on Saturday.

The company said it expects to eliminate 300 positions from the neuroscience discovery and early development programs in Andover and Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Groton, Connecticut, as it redistributes the money spent on research, according to the emailed statement.

Alzheimer’s has a huge potential market, if one can find the right drug. This has led to hundreds of drugs being proposed and evaluated. Unfortunately:

A recent study looked at how 244 compounds in 413 clinical trials fared for Alzheimer’s disease between 2002 and 2012.

Of those 244 compounds, only one was approved. The researchers report that this gives Alzheimer’s disease drug candidates one of the highest failures rates of any disease area – 99.6%, compared with 81% for cancer.

Since that study in 2012, every other Alzheimer’s drug trial has failed as well, including many high-profile drugs that had entered Phase III testing.

As we all know, taking a drug through development, trials, approval, and production/marketing is a costly endeavor:

Across the industry, per drug programme, Tufts calculated nearly $1.4bn in out-of-pocket costs…

So some empathy with drug developers is in order, particularly when even the huge financial incentive of a large ready-made market can’t keep major players from giving up.

2017 Closes With an Unimpressive Jobs Report January 5, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

Yesterday’s ADP National Employment Report showed 250K jobs added last month, prompting at least one comment that the economy might be “overheating.” Today’s Employment Situation Summary from the Bureau of Labor Standards showed much more modest gains – only 148K jobs.

My employment metric (full-time jobs/civilian non-institutional population: data taken from the Household Survey) was even less inspiring. Behold:


The Household Survey showed an increase of 164K part-time jobs, indicating that full-time employment actually dropped last month.

Dang it.

I’ll put up the Manufacturing jobs graph on Monday.

Ya Think? January 3, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

Humans can spot small signs of sickness at a glance, research suggests

New Shocking Numbers December 31, 2017

Posted by Retired Geezer in Law.

OK so this is dumb December 27, 2017

Posted by lauraw in Ducks, Mufuckin Pie!, slutbags.

What would we do without professors?

Farmers’ markets are one such environmental improvement that can lead to gentrification, Bosco and Joassart-Marcelli argue, saying farmers’ markets are “exclusionary” since locals may not be able to “afford the food and/or feel excluded from these new spaces.”

These places are literally the cheapest places to buy fresh veg. If you can’t afford them here, you can’t afford them at all. But besides that; many cities provide poor residents with food aid that includes fresh vegetables from places like farmers’ markets.

This social exclusion is reinforced by the “whiteness of farmers’ markets” and the “white habitus” that they can reinforce, the professors elaborate, describing farmers’ markets as “white spaces where the food consumption habits of white people are normalized.”

This is a paradoxical outcome, since farmers’ markets are often established in the interest of fighting so-called “food deserts” in lower-income and minority communities.

There’s no paradox, actually, because the premise is flawed and racist. Actually, it’s okay to ‘normalize’ farm-fresh food consumption habits, regardless of the race of the consumers. Because not eating fresh fruits and vegetables is not normal. Lack of fresh produce in the diet is a key to poor health, and we see these bad health outcomes in statistics on health disparities between rich and poor. Much of these stats are related to poor nutrition in childhood and beyond.

The profs also wrote that 44% of these markets are located in highly-gentrified areas. So…? First of all, businesses need to be within reach of their core customers, or die. If poor urbanites don’t know what to do with vegetables (and they don’t), whose job is that to correct?

Second…what of the remaining 56%?