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Hooded Oriole March 28, 2019

Posted by Sobek in News.
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Hanging Up My Spurs (Again) March 22, 2019

Posted by geoff in News.
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Has it really been 4 years?

4 years since we “closed” Innocent Bystanders?

Y’all may recall that back in March 2015 we decided that with the passing of Michael and the lack of interest in posting, Innocent Bystanders had reached the end of its natural lifespan. We had a series of farewell posts, with a lot of old friends popping up to say goodbye.

And on March 25, 2015, we stopped posting.

Then, two months later, the blogging bug bit me again, and I started writing. And we limped along for the next 4 years.

Bringing us to now, wherein I have to say that personal and work demands are making it very difficult for me to continue posting (as if you couldn’t tell). So I’m going on hiatus (I don’t dare claim that we’ll “close” the blog again).

Here’s where we were back in March 2015:

6032 posts
5.13 million hits

4 years later we have:

7122 posts
5.31 million hits

Not great stats over the past 4 years, but it was worth it, at least to me.

Wherein I Find Common Cause With Cher March 13, 2019

Posted by geoff in News.
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Cher speaketh:


— Cher (@cher) March 9, 2019

Honestly, I don’t have any problems with that…

…so long as I get a free license to murder.

Slave to Noise No More March 12, 2019

Posted by geoff in News.
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This is way too cool:

Scientists have discovered a shape that blocks all sound–even your co-workers

A team of Boston University researchers recently stuck a loudspeaker into one end of a PVC pipe. They cranked it up loud. What did they hear? Nothing.

…The pipe was actually left open save for a small, 3D-printed ring placed around the rim. That ring cut 94% of the sound blasting from the speaker, enough to make it inaudible to the human ear.

Here’s the ring, which is totally passive:

BU Noise Cancellation Ring

[Photo: Cydney Scott/Boston University]

It appears that you have to design it for specific frequencies, and the size is likely to be dependent on the frequencies (making it bulky when blocking low frequencies.

But it’s still way too cool.

A Chart to Lift Your Spirits March 10, 2019

Posted by geoff in News.
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Didn’t see this chart when it ruffled some feathers after Bill Gates tweeted it in January. If you didn’t see it either, here you go:


It’s particularly worth noting the very small graph at the lower right, which shows the increase in world population. These metrics didn’t just improve for the original population, but for almost 7X the original population. That means, for example, that the 6 people not living in extreme poverty 200 years ago increased to 630 people today.

The group who made the chart, Our World in Data, had another interesting one:

DxVlmbBVYAAEPyN.jpg large

Money may not be able to “buy” happiness, but it’s certainly an enabler.

Manufacturing a Little Sluggish This Month March 8, 2019

Posted by geoff in News.
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As is the case for the employment situation posts, this will be my last regular post on the status of manufacturing jobs. I’ve only been doing those for about 6 1/2 years, but I think I’ve made the point (Pres. Obama fell flat on his face with his promise to create a million manufacturing jobs in 4 years) and beaten it to death.

Still, it’s always nice to see the recovery in manufacturing jobs since President Trump was elected, even though this month wasn’t as impressive as previous ones.


Holy Uptick, Batman!! March 8, 2019

Posted by geoff in News.
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As I mentioned last month, this will be my last regular post on the employment situation. After 10 years of tracking employment, I think it’s time to say “enough.”

But this month’s employment report almost made me change my mind – it’s that good. Largely due to an enormous (> 800K) drop in part-timers, the IB metric almost crested 0.51, a level not seen since September 2008.

Here’s the chart:


TFW When You’ve Been Doing it Wrong for 40 Years March 4, 2019

Posted by geoff in News.
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These guys just invalidated my entire life strategy (at least since my college days):

You Can’t Make Up for Lost Sleep by Snoozing on the Weekends

A new study suggests that sleeping late on Saturday and Sunday may disrupt metabolic and circadian functions for the chronically sleep deprived

Well crap. I guess I’ll just toddle off, then.

About That Renewable Energy… March 4, 2019

Posted by geoff in News.
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Amidst the discussions over AOC’s silly “Green New Deal,” we have a sensible voice emerging from the crowd: a gentleman who pitched his own, less ambitious, Green New Deal more than 10 years ago:

I thought the solutions were pretty straightforward: solar panels on every roof, electric cars in every driveway, etc. The main obstacles, I believed, were political. And so I helped organize a coalition of America’s largest labor unions and environmental groups. Our proposal was for a $300 billion dollar investment in renewables. We would not only prevent climate change but also create millions of new jobs in a fast-growing high-tech sector.

Our efforts paid off in 2007 when then-presidential candidate Barack Obama embraced our vision. Between 2009–15, the U.S. invested $150 billion dollars in renewables and other forms of clean tech. But right away we ran into trouble.

The “trouble” he mentions falls into 3 categories:

  1. Solar and wind energy require large acreage and have significant environmental impacts. Both are also very site-reliant, especially wind energy.
  2. Solar and wind energy are intermittent, requiring either energy storage or backup energy sources. Both cause their own set of problems.
  3. Building solar panels involves environmentally unsavory materials, so disposal of panels at the end of their (short) lifetime is problematic.

One consequence is that energy savings from renewables haven’t been realized. Take solar panels, for example:

…one-time cost savings from making them in big Chinese factories have been outweighed by the high cost of dealing with their unreliability.

Consider California. Between 2011–17 the cost of solar panels declined about 75 percent, and yet our electricity prices rose five times more than they did in the rest of the U.S.

He then notes that the energy source that is actually the cheapest and cleanest is one that has been with us for 65 years:

*** Nuclear Power ***

In something of a coincidence, I was recently writing a proposal concerning fusion energy, and ran across a paper comparing the ultimate cost of various energy sources, including construction, operation, and environmental costs. Here is their final summary chart:

Yup, the cheapest power source is the one all the way to the left:

Good Old Nuclear Power