Monday, October 16, 2017

She'd make a good Congresswoman

Rodriguez Aguilera is a candidate for Congress. She wants to replace Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Some of her claims may be accepted by members of our current Congress: 

  • She has communicated with extraterrestrials since she was seven years-old.
  • She has been brought aboard a space ship and had conversations with aliens who let her in on key secrets about their visits to Earth. 

The aliens told her:

  • There is a cave in the island of Malta that contains 30,000 skulls that are “different from humans”.
  • The world’s “energy center” is located somewhere in Africa.
  • The limestone Coral Castle tourist attraction in Florida is actually an ancient Egyptian pyramid.

Killing more civilians?

A nonprofit monitoring group, Airwars, reports that in the first seven months of the Trump administration thus far more civilians have been killed than under the entirety of the Obama administration. The claim is that 2,300 to 3,400 civilians were killed in the 8 years of Obama. In the first seven months of the Trump administration, they estimate that coalition air strikes have killed between 2,800 and 4,500 civilians.

Will the Afghanistan War ever end?

Twitter Targets

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Computer centers get hot...

and Sweden is taking advantage of that. Computers get hot enough that they have to be cooled off. This is done by a lot of fans blowing cool air in and sucking hot air out. That’s because computers get hot – and it takes a lot of fans to keep them cool enough to operate properly. The heat in most computer centers is discarded at waste. For the past few years Sweden and a few other countries do not send the heat to the waste pile. It is run back through the pipes that fed in cool air and into plants where it is distributed for heating. 

The system is still in early days but Sweden expects to generate enough heat to warm 2,500 residential apartments by 2018. Long term it hopes to meet 10% of the entire heating need of Stockholm by 2035.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Beer from bread

Tristram Stuart, a British author,  makes beer from bread. Why not? They have the same ingredients: water, grain, and yeast. And there is enough wasted bread around. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says that a third of all food produced globally—approximately 1.3 billion tons worth—is wasted every year. Stuart is also a food waste activist and has started the Feeding the 5000 event, in which mass public dinners are made from surplus food.

He calls his beer Toast ale. Each pint has the equivalent of one slice of bread in it. This is not a fly-by-night venture; the company has brewed 9 tons of bread since its inception. This summer it began exporting to the U.S. It is now brewed and canned in the Bronx by the Chelsea Craft Brewing Co. in roughly 10,000 can batches. It is available at Whole Foods Inc. and at select restaurants such as Tom Colicchio’s Craft and Dan Barber’s Blue Hill.

Stuart now makes three varieties: a lager called Much Kneaded; Bloomin’ Lovely, a session IPA; and Purebread, a pale ale. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Heat can kill

Numbers keep rising

More people are dying from drug overdoses, particularly from Fentanyl and other synthetic opioid painkillers. In 2016 these drugs resulted in killing more than 21,000 people last year. When you ad in heroin, cocaine and prescription painkillers you wind up at almost 65,000 deaths, a 21% jump 2015. Overall, opioid overdose deaths quadrupled from 8,050 in 1991 to 33,091 in 2015, according to the CDC. Heroin deaths quadrupled from 3,036 in 2010 to 12,989 in 2015, driven by a sharp increase in the heroin supply. Now fentanyl is creating a third wave of overdose deaths, as those first two waves have steadied to each kill around 15,000 people a year.

Was there bribery?

Cyrus Vance, Jr., Manhattan DA, sure looks suspicious in two prominent cases in which he dropped the charges: Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. were being investigated for defrauding prospective tenants of the Trump SoHo and the Harvey Weinstein case which is now all over the media. In both cases it looks as though he was paid off through his reelection campaign, $50,000 in the case of Trump and $10,000 re Weinstein.

The Winner

Joel Holland won the 44th World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off for the seventh time. This time his pumpkin weighed 2,363 pounds, which is the heaviest pumpkin recorded in the history of the San Francisco Bay Area competition. Holland's prize was $7 per pound.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Texas does not like dildos...

...but it does like guns. According to Texas law, it is illegal for someone to possess “six or more obscene devices or identical or similar obscene articles,” or to possess them with intent to promote the same.”  But you can legally possess more than six guns.

This attitude holds at the University of Texas at Austin which bans sex toys, but not guns.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Glow, little glowworm. Glimmer,glimmer.

Hospitals as businesses

There are about 6,500 hospitals in the U.S. About 300 of them (less than 5%) are run by people with medical training. This trend has been years in the making; there are now 30 times more non-medically trained CEOs than there were 30 years ago. Plus, the number of independent practices has gone way down as hospitals buy them up. 

The CEOs are pressuring the medical staff to be more aware of the economic impact of their decisions. For example, doctors are being pressed to discharge patients quickly and to concentrate on profitable procedures such as orthopedic and heart surgeries. Administrators are even exerting control over traditionally medical domains, such as the credentialing of new physicians with hospital privileges. 

The results have not been very good. A study in 2011 found “a strong positive association between the ranked quality of a hospital and whether the C.E.O. is a physician.” Overall hospital quality scores were about 25 percent higher when physicians, not business managers, were in charge.

Some Numbers

Frederic Lemieux Professor of the Practice and Faculty Director of the Master's in Applied Intelligence, Georgetown University has done some research about mass shootings.

First, they're getting more frequent. The days separating mass shooting occurrence went from an average 200 days during the period of 1983 to 2011 to 64 days since 2011.

Next, look at the number of mass shootings, based on the number of guns per 100 inhabitants  (My apologies that the numbers don't line up.)

Country      Mass Shootings
Australia            4
Austria               1
Belgium             2
Canada              4
Denmark           0
Finland              2
France               6
Germany           7
Greece               0
Holland             2
Hungary          0
Iceland            0
Ireland            0
Italy                0
Japan              0
Luxembourg  0
New Zealand 3
Norway         1
Poland           0
Portugal        1
Spain            1
Sweden         2
Switzerland  2
United Kingdom 3
United States 78

Failing businesses

Colleges, like hospitals, have become businesses. And, like businesses they borrow money. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the question is whether it is a smart investment in an economy where the number of 18- to 24-year-olds is declining and students older than 24 are being drawn back into the workforce as the economy improves. This year there were 2.4 million fewer people enrolled in higher education in the academic year that ended this spring than there were in the fall of 2011, and the supply of potential customers continues to fall.

But borrowing by colleges increases. According to Moody's, colleges and universities collectively owe $240 billion. Public universities are the largest borrower at $145 billion, which is up 18% in the last five years. Private universities were less active as their debt it went up 3 percent, to $95 billion.
Colleges like municipal bonds best. Last year they borrowed a record $41.3 billion. That’s up from $28.7 billion a decade ago. Interest on the debt has gone from $21 billion in 2003 to $48 billion in 2012.  These interest payments come to the equivalent of $750 per student per year at public universities and $1,289 at private colleges. A lot of the borrowed money has gone to building costs, which are up 10% this year.