Saturday, May 17, 2014

Oceanic Acid

Oceanic Acid - Cain Kilcullen from Peter Clyne - Outer Cells on Vimeo.

Preakness Stakes Weekend Reads

Here are some stories you can check out as you wait for California Chrome's attempt to win the second leg of the Triple Crown:

The Rise of Nintendo: A Story in 8 Bits - Grantland.  And excerpt from the book Console Wars, by Blake Harris.

Twilight of an Enforcer - A hockey player fights to stay in the game he loves - SB Nation

Thomas Edison and the Cult of Sleep Deprivation - The Atlantic.  Sleep deprivation last weekend while planting kicked my ass all this week.

The Rough Guide to Frackistan - Texas Monthly.  A review of  Russell Gold’s The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World.

In North Dakota, There Will Be Blood - David Cay Johnston

America's Only Ballpark Synagogue - The New Yorker. In South Bend, IN, of course.

Vacation At 'The Door To Hell,' Enjoy View To Burning Gas Crater - OilPrice

Want To Know If Your Food Is Genetically-Modified - The Atlantic. On the lack of basis in science of the opposition to GMOs.  See also, Why Red M&Ms Disappeared for a Decade - Priceonomics

The Thirsty West: 10 percent of California's Water Goes to Almond Farming - Eric Holthaus. 10% sounds on the high side, but no matter what, almonds take a hell of a lot of water, and growers have been planting them like crazy until just recently.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Iowa GOP Proposes Gax Tax For Rural Roads

Des Moines Register:
A call for a gas tax increase is one of the proposed new planks in the Republican Party of Iowa's platform - a stance that would represent a major shift if it's adopted next month.
The current state platform says: "We oppose any increase in fuel taxes."
The Des Moines Register obtained a copy of the proposed new one, which says: "We support a fuel tax increase solely allocated to the Rural Road Fund."
The proposal likely reflects Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's influence in a GOP power struggle within Iowa. The tentative state platform was crafted by the 16 Republican activists elected to the state platform committee. They met on May 10 to review the planks submitted from the four districts. The document faces a vote at the state convention on June 14.
State transportation officials have warned that Iowa has been falling behind by about $215 million annually to meet the most critical needs on Iowa's road system.
But the gas tax has created friction within the GOP. When Branstad said earlier this year that he wouldn't veto a 10-cents-per-gallon gas tax hike that appeared to be gaining momentum in the GOP-led Iowa House, then-Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker led the public opposition.
The 10-cent hike eventually failed, as did an alternative plan that would have imposed a 5 percent wholesale tax on gasoline.
The article goes on to say that the proposed change may be linked to an effort by establishment Republicans to oust Tea Party-types in recent caucuses.  I'm always in favor of investment in infrastructure, and I'll admit I don't understand Iowa's road funding system, but from the outside this looks like another move by the Republican party to help their own members at the expense of everyone else.  I base that on the fact the increase is solely allocated to the Rural Road Fund.  Because of that wording, I see urban and suburban Iowans paying for roads in low population areas where the local residents can't afford to maintain their own roads.

That may not be the case, but I think it highlights the danger the GOP faces in constantly framing things as us-versus-them in an effort to cling to power with a shrinking base of mainly white, rural, religious and old voters in a growing population of young, non-white, less religious urban and suburban residents.  Rural life has long been by necessity subsidized, because the low population density makes the infrastructure required in modern life, whether in school funding, electric distribution, road network or other systems such as broadband, unaffordable in relation to urban and suburban areas.  Rural voters refusing to support taxes unless that money goes exclusively to them at the expense of other citizens may lead to a serious backlash amongst suburban and urban voters.  Rural areas have a lot to lose if subsidies to life in low-population areas are cut.

Hopefully, the Rural Road Fund is much more broad than the name implies, and rural support for infrastructure investment is more broad than only supporting a tax measure if it benefits themselves at the expense of everyone else.  My experience in talking to rural folks, on the other hand, wouldn't indicate that is the case.  What's even worse is that the Tea Party types had to be thrown out to even consider this proposal.  Damn, what a mess.

Local Catholic School Teachers Vote To Organize

Dayton Daily News:
Frustration over the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s requirement for its Catholic school teachers to sign new contracts that spell out almost a dozen types of forbidden conduct has led to a local push to organize educators.
Teachers at Ascension School in Kettering and Holy Angels School in Dayton on Thursday sent notice to the pastors that they have voted in favor of organizing, officials confirmed.
More than half of educators at the schools voted to be represented in collective bargaining by the Southwest Ohio Catholic Educators Association.
Organizing efforts were sparked by the new contracts, which contain language that goes against what Catholic educators practice, teach and live by, said Jennifer Teleha, a former teacher at Ascension School who helped found the association. She said the contract language was intended to better shield the church against lawsuits.
“This contract grew because of lawsuits, because of money issues,” she said. “The dignity and the integrity of Catholic educators is not at the heart of the document.”
Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, confirmed that the pastors of Holy Angels and Ascension have been contacted about the formation of a teachers association.
He said the archdiocese has not yet seen the notices of the new bargaining groups, but he said the new contracts are not a significant departure from those of previous years.
Catholic teachers that are employed at schools owned by the archdiocese have always been required to sign contracts that contain a “morality clause.” About 93 Catholic schools are covered by the archdiocese’s “teacher-minister contract,” which includes elementary and secondary schools. About 2,800 Catholic teachers work in schools that are operated by the archdiocese or its agencies.
The archdiocese added new contractual language that lists specific forbidden activities after it last year settled two federal lawsuits that were filed by unmarried teachers who had been fired after becoming pregnant.
The contracts require teachers to act and speak in ways that “support the Catholic Church and its teachings.” Teachers can be disciplined or fired for publicly supporting or having a homosexual lifestyle, living together outside of marriage, engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage and supporting abortion and artificial insemination.
It's not like Catholic school teachers are generally paid much compared to their public school peers.  They are typically doing it because of their faith.  Now that the archdiocese has been sued a couple of times for firing a teacher who had a baby out of wedlock and a teacher who has a baby through in vitro fertilization, they decided to piss off many of their teachers by requiring them to sign a contract acknowledging they can't say or do what they want in their lives outside of the school.  Good luck with that.  The parochial school system was already beginning to unravel, and actions like the "morals clause" requirement accelerate the process.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Investment in Water Futures?

Fortune looks at the rising value of water:
Flip through the latest 10-Ks of companies from Coca-Cola (KO) to Campbell Soup (CPB) and you'll find water-related worries enumerated among the possible hazards to operations. Coke lists "water scarcity" as a risk factor behind only "obesity concerns," which the company warns might reduce demand for some of its products. Nestlé chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, who heads the 2030 Water Resource Group, a public-private collaboration among leading beverage companies, development banks, and several government agencies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, has even dedicated a personal blog to global water issues.
All of the corporations above, to be sure, have an obvious stake in the issue. Nestlé is the world's largest food company by sales and a dominant bottled-water seller in the U.S., with brands like Poland Spring and Perrier in its fold. Each year Miller sells more than $34 billion worth of Miller beer, Coors Light, Peroni, and some 200 other beer brands. Coke and Pepsi? Again, their interest in getting enough clean, fresh water to make their products is crystal clear.
Dozens of other industries, however, from chipmaking to fracking to meatpacking, also depend on having water aplenty. The long drought in Texas, for example, forced Cargill to close a beef-processing plant in Plainview last year as the number of cattle in the U.S. herd dropped to its lowest level in more than six decades. Dry pastures hurt grain output, pushing up prices for feed -- which, along with smaller herds, has led to sky-high prices for beef today.
"We've always thought about how water was important for beverages or chemicals," Goldman Sachs (GS) senior investment strategist Abby Joseph Cohen tells Fortune. "But how many other industries depend on water in the supply chain, for their workforce and production and to maintain a healthy environment around where they're operating?"
The answer may be virtually all of them. Which is why legions of business leaders, economists, and think-tankers are coming to reclassify water as a kind of buried treasure: "blue gold."
At a time when Cleveland, Detroit and Buffalo can use some good news, I'd say that being located on the largest freshwater lake system in the world qualifies as good news.  Water resources in the Northeast and Midwest will be strengths when businesses look to find cheap, reliable sources of water.  I can't tell you how long it will be before that is a major factor in industrial decision-making, but it sure hasn't been a major factor in residential location decisions.  Internal migration seems to be strongly correlated with water scarcity.

The Fortune story is all over the map on the subject of water, but the part of the article which caught my eye described a family farm in the Central Valley:
Sarah Woolf's 1,200-acre farm in Cantua Creek, Calif., sits in the Central Valley, which runs in a narrow stretch more than 400 miles through the middle of the state, covering an area about the size of West Virginia. Hemmed in by the Cascade Range to the north, the Tehachapi to the south, and the Sierra Nevada to the east, the valley has long been one of the most bountiful farming regions in the country. Though it has less than 1% of America's farmland, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, it supplies a quarter of the nation's food.
And for the past three years it has suffered the worst drought in almost anyone's memory. In January, with California's river and reservoir levels at record (or near record) lows, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency. By March the drought was so severe that the state and federal governments, which both run systems that transport water from the Sierras to the valley, cut off supplies to farmers. That left many of them with two unpleasant options: Buy water on the spot market for up to four times the normal price or cut back sharply on planting.
Woolf, a third-generation farmer, grows tomatoes, onions, and garlic that typically end up as ketchup, salsa, and other products made by Heinz, P&G, and other big names in the food industry. Her choice was to farm only half of her land. "Customers are asking for our produce," she says, "but we can't deliver because we don't have the water." Officials say that more than 500,000 acres of otherwise rich, arable land in Central Valley will likely be left fallow this year. Acres of fruit and nut trees will die from lack of water......Back in the Central Valley, the land is still parched, even after some late-April rains. And the ground is sinking under Sarah Woolf 's feet. It is the result of sucking out water from her own property wells. Her family began using well water some decades ago, but after a while there was a problem. In a classic case of the tragedy of the commons, they and other farmers in the area were drawing so much water from the aquifer that the soil started dropping about a foot a year. Since the 1930s, the ground level at her farm has dropped 80 feet. "You're depleting a natural water source that can be replenished only if you take small amounts out," explains Woolf. "If you take water out fast, the pockets in the aqueduct that hold the water collapse and you can never get that aquifer back." Furthering the destructive cycle, the sinking ground plays havoc on the wells themselves, which can cost half-a-million dollars each to dig. Woolf has three on her farm.
There is yet another catch. Unlike the water from the Sierra runoff, the groundwater here is saline. Thousands of years ago the Central Valley was an inland sea, and as a result, its soil contains saline, boron, natural salt, and selenium. Not all crops can handle that -- boron, for instance, will cause almond trees to defoliate. Eventually the salt will build up in the soil, harming yields, says Woolf.
Standing at the edge of her sunken, salty fields, Woolf is at the center of a problem that won't go away anytime soon: How do you feed the world without enough water?
How in the hell does a farm sink 80 feet in 80 years?  How do you leave 50% of your land fallow?  How do you most effectively salt the earth?   In my opinion, the rain-fed grain belt of the Midwestern United States is one of its most important natural resources.  Farming the desert is not sustainable.  Looking for a good investment?  Look toward the water-rich Eastern and Midwestern U.S.

The U.S. With 10 Foot Sea-Level Rise

Scientific American covers an interesting report by Climate Central:
New research indicates that climate change has already triggered an unstoppable decay of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The projected decay will lead to at least 4 feet of accelerating global sea level rise within the next two-plus centuries, and at least 10 feet of rise in the end.
What does the U.S. look like with an ocean that is 10 feet higher? The radically transformed map would lose 28,800 square miles of land, home today to 12.3 million people.
These figures come from Climate Central research published in 2012, analyzing and mapping every coastal city, county and state in the lower 48 states. (A next generation of research is currently under way.)
More than half of the area of 40 large cities (population over 50,000) is less than 10 feet above the high tide line, from Virginia Beach and Miami (the largest affected), down to Hoboken, N.J. (smallest). Twenty-seven of the cities are in Florida, where one-third of all current housing sits below the critical line — including 85 percent in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Each of these counties is more threatened than any whole state outside of Florida – and each sits on bedrock filled with holes, rendering defense by seawalls or levees almost impossible.
By the metric of most people living on land less than 10 ft above the high tide line, New York City is most threatened in the long run, with a low-lying population count of more than 700,000. Sixteen other cities, including New Orleans, La.; Norfolk, Va.; Stockton, Calif.; Boston, Mass.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Jacksonville, Fla.; are on the list of places with more than 100,000 people below the line. (Much of New Orleans is already below sea level, but is protected at today’s level by levees.)

A couple of hundred years off doesn't affect you or me, but it is interesting how much of our major cities would be impacted.  This list of cities also indicates that many are at risk of Hurricane Sandy or Katrina-type damage in the near future.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cubs Owner To Be Nebraska Governor

Hopefully he'll be better at leading a state than he is at putting a winning product on the baseball field (although that is a problem for Nebraskans, and not a problem for me if he isn't).  Granted, he isn't the family member in charge of the shittiest team in the National League, but he does seem to be pretty good at buying an election:
Omaha businessman Pete Ricketts narrowly won Nebraska's Republican gubernatorial primary Tuesday night, putting him on track to become the Cornhusker State's next chief executive.
Ricketts won 26 percent of the vote, according to the Associated Press, which called the race early Wednesday morning, with state Attorney General Jon Bruning close behind with 25 percent in the winner-take-all contest. State legislator Beau McCoy trailed with 21 percent and state Auditor Mike Foley had 19 percent, while two other candidates split the remainder of the GOP vote.
With that, Ricketts cleared the biggest hurdle between him and the governorship by just over 2,000 votes. Nebraska has not elected a Democrat to its highest office since 1994. Ricketts will face Democrat Chuck Hassebrook, who ran uncontested in the Democratic primary, in the general election.
Tuesday's win offers a shot at political redemption for Ricketts, the former TD Ameritrade executive who lost the state's 2006 Senate race to Democrat Ben Nelson by 29 percentage points. It's also the second time in two years that the Ricketts family has derailed Bruning's political ambitions. Bruning ran for Nebraska's open U.S. Senate seat in 2012, but a wave of attack ads from outside groups—including one established and funded by Ricketts's father—helped sink Bruning's candidacy.
That same family wealth attracted outsize attention to the governor's race from 2016 Republican presidential contenders. The younger Ricketts was endorsed by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and 2012 vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Vice President (and Nebraska native) Dick Cheney also endorsed Ricketts.
Bruning's late entry to the race in February put two heavyweights in the gubernatorial contest, and polls showed him and Ricketts running neck-and-neck heading into the final days of the primary. Ricketts benefited from a cash advantage that allowed him to blanket the airwaves with TV ads, and he got a boost from a handful of outside groups that ran TV ads attacking Bruning. The primary marked the first time such groups have made a major play in a Nebraska governor's race, and Bruning blamed Ricketts for their involvement.
With Ricketts family ownership, Cubs suckitude brings even greater levels of enjoyment than I thought possible.  Good luck, Nebraska.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


SLOMO from Josh Izenberg on Vimeo.

Three Danes Reportedly Killed By Pig Strain of MRSA

Maryn McKenna:
A troubling and also kind of odd story came out of Denmark this weekend. In a court proceeding, a microbiologist has disclosed that three residents of the country who had no known connection to farming died of MRSA infections caused by ST398, the livestock-associated strain of drug-resistant staph that first appeared among pig farmers in the Netherlands in 2004 and has since moved through Europe, Canada and the United States.
If the report is correct — and sources have told me it is, but I’ve seen no data to confirm it — it reinforces the concern that bacteria which become resistant because of antibiotic use on farms can move off farms and affect the health of people who have no connection to farming.
Livestock MRSA has always one of the best cases for establishing that, because the drug to which it showed the greatest resistance, tetracycline, wasn’t used against human MRSA in the Netherlands, but was used routinely on farms — so the only place the strain could have picked up its unique resistance pattern was in pigs. (Here’s my long archive of posts on pig MRSA, dating back to my book Superbugwhere the story was told for the first time.)
Ms. McKenna points out that she is trying to translate this story from the Danish-language media, so she isn't quite comfortable with the story as she has gotten it so far.  However, if true, this will eventually bring more pressure to bear on regulatory authorities to more closely monitor or control antibiotic use by livestock farmers.  Recent stories have brought up the possibility of making antibiotics available only by prescription from veterinarians.  I hope that doesn't come to pass, but I have little faith in large producers better managing antibiotic use on their own.  If it does happen, I will curse and say "I told you so" to any farmer who dares bitch about the overbearing antibiotic regulations.  As the FIRE sector has demonstrated, a belief in the effectiveness of self-regulating markets is more foolish than a belief in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Aryton's Wish

Ayrton's Wish (Film) -- Gran Turismo Tribute to Ayrton Senna from Gran Turismo on Vimeo.

Does Rice Farming Make People More Cooperative?

There is a theory that it does:
Ask Americans to describe themselves, and chances are you'll get adjectives like "energetic," "friendly" or "hard-working."
In Japan, the responses would likely be much different. "Dependent on others" and "considerate" might pop up, studies have found.
Psychologists have known for a long time that people in East Asia think differently, on average, than do those in the U.S. and Europe. Easterners indeed tend to be more cooperative and intuitive, while Westerners lean toward individualism and analytical thinking.
Now psychologists have evidence that our ancestors planted some of these cultural differences hundreds of years ago when they chose which grains to sow.
"We call it the rice theory," says , a graduate student at the University of Virginia who led the study. "Rice is a really special kind of farming."
The idea is simple. Growing rice tends to foster cultures that are more cooperative and interconnected, Talhelm and his colleagues Thursday in the journal Science.
Why? Because farming rice paddies requires collaboration with your neighbors, Talhelm tells The Salt. Self-reliance is dangerous.
"Families have to flood and drain their field at the same time," he says. " So there are punishments for being too individualistic. If you flood too early, you would really piss off your neighbors."
Rice paddies also require irrigation systems. "That cost falls on the village, not just one family," he says. "So villages have to figure out a way to coordinate and pay for and maintain this system. It makes people cooperate."
Wheat, on the other hand, as well as barley and corn, doesn't generally require irrigation — or much collaboration. One family alone can plant, grow and harvest a field of wheat, without the help of others.
So wheat farming fosters cultures with more individualism, independence and innovation, Talhelm and his colleagues say. Self-reliance and innovation are rewarded.
I call shenanigans. For one, back in the days of threshing machines, it was common for neighbors to share a machine and take turns pitching in at each others' farms.  Barn raisings, corn husking parties and other events were cooperative and social efforts that brightened a life of back-breaking work and drudgery.  One of the best contributions of modern farm life from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century were farmer cooperatives, which make people cooperate.

But on a more basic level, are northeastern Arkansas rice farmers more considerate and cooperative than other farmers in the United States?  Are they more like Chinese or Japanese farmers?  I'd wager they aren't.

That Other Inflation

I highlighted this story in the links the other day, but I was really impressed with how clearly the inflation theory is explained:
Even after three decades of hearing her husband explain his theory, though, she admits that she still finds it difficult to grasp both the immensity of the universe that his theory suggests and the tininess of its starting point.
She turns her head to face her husband. “Alan, you used to say it all started from this singularity that was much smaller than an atom and that it got as big as a grapefruit” during inflation. “But now you say it was a marble?”
“That’s right,” he replies. “I’ve changed the grapefruit to a marble.” Then, in response to what sounds like whimsy with metaphors (but which is really the result of refined estimates from certain grand unified theories), he laughs, though Guth laughter is closer to a series of exuberant cackles.
Here, in language that you, Susan, and I can understand, is how Guth’s model of the inflationary universe works: Using the theories of Einstein and others, Guth points out that at extremely high energies, there are forms of matter that upend everything we learned about gravity in high school. Rather than being the ultimate force of attraction that Newton and his falling apple taught us, gravity in this case is an incredibly potent force of repulsion. And that repulsive gravity was the fuel that powered the Big Bang.
The universe is roughly 13.8 billion years old, and it began from a patch of material packed with this repulsive gravity. The patch was, as Susan notes, tiny — one 100-billionth the size of a single proton. But the repulsive gravity was like a magic wand, doubling the patch in size every tenth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second. And it waved its doubling power over the patch about 100 times in a row, until it got to the size of that marble. All that happened within a hundredth of a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second. As a point of comparison, the smallest fraction of time that the average human can detect is about one-tenth of a second.
The ingredients of what would become our entire observable universe were packed inside that marble. While the density of ordinary material being put through that kind of exponential expansion would thin out to almost nothing, a quirk of this repulsive-gravity material allowed it to maintain a constant density as it kept growing. But at a certain point — while the universe was still a tiny fraction of a second old — inflation ended. That happened because the repulsive-gravity material was unstable, and, like a radioactive substance, it began to decay. As it decayed, it released energy that produced ordinary particles, which in turn formed the dense, hot “primordial soup.” At that point, after Guth’s model has explained what banged, why it banged, and what happened before it banged, he takes a bow and lets the standard Big Bang theory take over from there.
About a year after Guth joined the MIT faculty in 1980, the “Oh, crap” pit in his stomach finally went away. That’s when he received a preprint of a paper from Andrei Linde, a physicist in Moscow. Linde, who is now at Stanford, had figured out an ingenious way to use inflation to solve the “horizon problem” that had tripped up Guth. “It saved my model,” Guth says now.
Guth and a few colleagues made another big advance the following year in a paper showing that inflation, which remained pure theory, could conceivably be proved. That’s because inflation would have left a unique imprint on the expanding matter of the Big Bang. And this imprint could be seen in the oldest light of the universe — that is, if modern science could build tools sophisticated enough to detect the imprint. But Guth doubted that would happen in his lifetime.
But they did.  And it still doesn't explain where that singularity came from, but, hey, getting from it to the universe is pretty impressive.

The Corn is In

Well, a couple fields got planted in somewhat marginal conditions, but all of our corn is out of the bag and in the ground.  Now the fun begins.  

Yesterday was kind of interesting.  We went and checked our final farm, and dad and I had differing opinions on what to do.  After checking the forecast (which had been abysmally inaccurate all weekend) we decided to go ahead and plant it.  While we were planting, a pretty strong thunderstorm popped up, but for the most part stayed to the south of the farm.  We got light sprinkles for a while, and then when the sun came out and it looked like the worst was over, it started raining harder.  This created an awesome rainbow that arched over several farmhouses in the distance.  I was disappointed I didn't have my camera with me.  The rain came down hard enough that I pulled out of the field to see what would happen, got some more fertilizer and seed, then headed back when it let up.  At this point, I had 15 acres left, the ground was a little tacky, and another round of clouds was building to the west.  I got going again, and about 1/3 of the way through, we got another round of the devil beating his wife.  I wasn't going to stop, and it wasn't hateful closing up the trench anyway.  Again, a tremendous rainbow (double rainbow for a while) formed to the east, and wouldn't you know it, I forgot to grab the camera.  After skipping a swampy area, I got the last of the corn planted and called it a wrap.  

I'd estimate that we got maybe half a tenth to a tenth of rain while I was planting, but 3 1/2 miles to the south, I got 3/4", and dad got 1 1/2" another 3 1/2 miles south of there.  Then, overnight I got another inch of rain at home.  While it wasn't ideal conditions, I'm glad we got that planted while we could.  If that farm got the same inch of rain that I got overnight, it would be a mess for a while.  I'm still disappointed I didn't get any pictures of the rainbows stretched out over the neighboring farmsteads, but I'd have screwed them up anyway.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

NASA Photo of the Day

May 8:

The Tail of the Hamburger Galaxy
Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Pugh
Explanation: Sharp telescopic views of NGC 3628 show a puffy galactic disk divided by dark dust lanes. Of course, this deep portrait of the magnificent, edge-on spiral galaxy puts some astronomers in mind of its popular moniker, the Hamburger Galaxy. It also reveals a small galaxy nearby, likely a satellite of NGC 3628, and a faint but extensive tidal tail. The tantalizing island universe itself is about 100,000 light-years across and 35 million light-years away in the northern springtime constellation Leo. Its drawn out tail stretches for about 300,000 light-years, even beyond the left edge of the wide frame. NGC 3628 shares its neighborhood in the local Universe with two other large spirals M65 and M66 in a grouping otherwise known as the Leo Triplet. Gravitational interactions with its cosmic neighbors are likely responsible for creating the tidal tail, as well as the extended flare and warp of this spiral's disk.
Looks like a Wendy's burger to me.