Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Professor Gets TV Time

My former roommate, fellow amateur boxer, occasional commenter here, and Townie was featured at halftime of Notre Dame's loss to Georgia on Saturday.  This video reminds me that maybe I should have gone and studied at the library with him instead of staying back in the dorm and watching TV.  However, if I'd have done that, I'd have missed countless Big Ten basketball games and quite a few good episodes of the Red Green Show.  Anyway, enjoy:


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Chart of the Day - Religious Demographics Edition

Fivethirtyeight:


Bad news for (white) conservative Christians. Just a tip: It might pay off to be inclusive.  Like that Jesus guy seemed to be.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Post-Labor Day Links

Here are some stories I intended to highlight this weekend, but I got a little lazy:

What Does It Cost To Start A New Farm? - Fast Company.  You really don't want to know.

The Myth of the Skills Gap - MIT Technology Review.  Business leaders are full of shit? Nooooo......

Why are New Zealand's waters so polluted? - Al Jazeera.  Spoiler: dairy farms.

It’s Time To Ditch The Concept Of ‘100-Year Floods’ - FiveThirtyEight

Harvey Wasn’t Just Bad Weather. It Was Bad City Planning - Bloomberg Businessweek  Note: Nobody was prepared for 50 inches of rain, but considering how much of Houston was built in the past 25 years, the drainage was still terribly planned.

How Washington Made Harvey Worse - Politico

Houston: A Global Warning - Rolling Stone

The Chemical Plant Explosion in Texas Is Not an Accident. It's the Result of Specific Choices. - Esquire

If you listen closely, you can hear Trump's tax plan shrinking - LA Times.  Good, it is a bunch of poorly packaged stupidity.

10 Things Most Americans Don't Know About America - Mark Manson.

Why a Republican Pollster Is Losing Faith in Her Party - The Atlantic.   Because it is a flaming pile of dog shit?

Where Corn Pollutes America Most, and Who’s Responsible - Bloomberg



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Yes, I've Been Terrible At This Lately

Sure, I haven't posted anything in over a month, but I have composed parts of a number of posts in my head.  Usually, it is after some terrible Trump action, and after a little while I get the feeling that if I posted every time he pisses me off, it is really going to be a long three and a half years.  I must say, though, that the Democrats have also been fairly frustrating this summer.  They appear to be trying to position themselves to lose to Lord Combover the Fuckup.  All is not lost,though.  Bannon (although I did find myself agreeing with him somewhat on taxes, Afghanistan and North Korea) and Gorka (ding dong the Douche is gone) are out of the White House, and not a moment too soon.  Anyway, I figured I would throw up a post to prove I'm not dead, and to share a few of the interesting stories I've seen recently.  Here you go:

Robert E. Lee at West Point - Andrew Bacevich.  Bacevich does a good job laying out the case for dealing with Lee's name at the service academy.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is no conservative and no hero, no matter what President Trump says - USA Today.  He is, however, a sadist and a total asshole.

These Sugar Barons Built an $8 Billion Fortune With Washington’s Help - Bloomberg.  Corporate welfare at its finest.

A Big Tobacco Moment for the Sugar Industry-The New Yorker.

A flood of problems - Washington Post.  On the danger posed by Peru's melting glaciers.

Climate change will likely wreck their livelihoods – but they still don't buy the science- The Guardian

Hell and High Water - Texas Tribune and ProPublica.  An investigative series from last year on Houston's lack of preparation for a direct hit from a hurricane.

The Moneyman Behind the Alt-Right - Buzzfeed.  Could be titled, "Reason #1 for an estate tax and higher income taxes."

The Critic Who Refuted Trump's World View - In 1916 - The New Yorker

How Moldy Hay And Sick Cows Led To A Lifesaving Drug - Joe Palca


Monday, July 24, 2017

The Day the Fire Came

I highly recommend that you read this very well written story about three of the victims of this spring's Great Plains fires.  It is very moving. Well done, Skip Hollandsworth and Texas Monthly.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Townball in Minnesota

This is something I wish we had here:
The uniqueness of the Stearns County League is that it dates to 1950 in what is basically its present form. Regal was an early member, as was Freeport. Meire Grove and Greenwald were Green-Grove until separate teams were formed in 1959.
For nearly six decades, it has been those two, plus Farming, Lake Henry, St. Martin, New Munich, Richmond and Roscoe. Of course, 1983 saw the admission of Elrosa and Spring Hill.
“Those teams had to come up with the expansion fee,” Schleper said. “They each had to buy a case of beer for the league’s board of directors.”
The 10-team Stearns County League forms a family, both in spirit and in reality. Herman Lensing is a reporter from Star Publications, the publisher of weekly newspapers such as the Melrose Beacon, Sauk Centre Herald and Albany Enterprise.
Herman is among the 222 residents of Greenwald. He’s famous for having his camera always at the ready. He has been chronicling the exploits of this league and other area townball teams (29 total in Stearns County) for decades....
There are generations of names associated with every team in the league. That’s a tribute to the large Catholic families of farmers. The farms are fewer and the families are smaller in current times. Still ...
“To be a true Stearns County town, you need a Catholic church, two bars and a ballfield,” Schleper said....
What astounds is standing at a ballpark in Farming, Spring Hill or Elrosa, looking across the prairie, and trying to figure out how Stearns County League teams renew themselves. Richmond is near Cold Spring and close to 1,500 in population, but the rest of these little places are a Catholic church, two bars (or one) and a ballfield.
The basic radius rule for player eligibility is 6 miles. The old saying was, “You should play where you go to church.”
The four 15-mile exceptions to the radius rule are still low by state amateur standards.
Most important, the SCL runs Little Dipper (Little League age) and Big Dipper (Base Ruth and Legion age) programs as a feeder system. Parents pay no fee, and the kids swing with wood bats to get ready for the town team.
Many of the bills are paid through pulltab sales at local bars, where the ballclub is the charity. There are also offseason fundraisers.
That is awesome.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Hot Dog Eating Record

On a lighter note, but no less a sign of American dysfunction, FiveThirtyEight gives us this:


Idiots At The Gates - The Future of the United States

I recommend this New Yorker article on the recently concluded session of the Texas legislature.  The second-most populous state in the union is almost under the control of complete morons.  Only a few somewhat sensible elected officials prevent them from riding roughshod over reason and logic.  As I sit here on the eve of Independence Day and contemplate the immediate and medium-term future, I have little faith that the sensible folks will win out.  I'm pretty sure we will see these cultists foist their ignorant bigotry and witch doctor economics on the rest of the nation, and only after their policies are complete disasters will we be able to vote them out of office.  In the meantime, I am concerned we will end up seeing unacceptable amounts of violence as regular citizens suffer under their doomed-to-fail rule.  I wish I could be more optimistic, but the last two years have rendered that almost non-existent characteristic in my personality extinct.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Qatar Airlift

This probably isn't the best idea for a desert country with no rain-fed agriculture, but it is notable:
The showdown between Qatar and its neighbors has disrupted trade, split families and threatened to alter long-standing geopolitical alliances. It’s also prompted one Qatari businessman to fly 4,000 cows to the Gulf desert in an act of resistance and opportunity to fill the void left by a collapse in the supply of fresh milk.
It will take as many as 60 flights for Qatar Airways to deliver the 590-kilogram beasts that Moutaz Al Khayyat, chairman of Power International Holding, bought in Australia and the U.S. “This is the time to work for Qatar,” he said....
Most of the fresh milk and dairy products for Doha’s more than 1 million population came from Saudi Arabia up until a week ago. That milk is getting scarce after the kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and two allies cut transport links with a country that spends $500 million a week to prepare stadiums and a metro before the soccer World Cup in 2022.
Al Khayyat, whose main business is a construction firm that built Qatar’s biggest mall, had been expanding the company's agricultural business at a farm 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Doha. Food security is part of Qatar’s government strategy to steer the economy away from petrodollars, known, like in Saudi Arabia, as “Vision 2030.”
On a site covering the equivalent of almost 70 soccer fields, new grey sheds line two strips of verdant grass in the desert with a road running through the middle up to a small mosque. It produces sheep milk and meat and there were already plans to import the cows by sea. Then Qatar was ostracized, so the project was expedited.
I would say that trying to produce cow milk isn't the best investment of resources in the Middle East, but Saudi Arabia's investment in a war on Shiite Islam and anyone who supports the Shiites is even worse.  I don't understand how Obama supported the Saudis' war on Yemen, and it is scary as hell that Trump feels the need to encourage the ultimate terror sponsors to start even more shit.  Hopefully we manage to avoid the idiotic war with Iran so many morons in this country want us to pursue (such as the commander-in-chief).  I'll be rooting for Qatar in the current fight.

Your U.S. Open Host Origin Story

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has a really interesting story of how this year's host course Erin Hills was built, and how it came to host the U.S. Open.  It is hard to believe.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Planting 2017

Well, we finally finished planting (at least the first time) for the season.  May as well watch it rain some more:


FRACTAL - 4k StormLapse from Chad Cowan on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Small Towns As The New Inner Cities

The Wall Street Journal goes to Kenton, Ohio to look at the demographic challenges facing many small towns:
In Hardin County, where Kenton is the seat, factories that once made cabooses for trains and axles for commercial trucks have shut down. Since 1980, the share of county residents who live in poverty has risen by 45% and median household income adjusted for inflation has fallen by 7%.
At the same time, census figures show, the percentage of adults who are divorced has nearly tripled, outpacing the U.S. average. Opioid abuse is also driving up crime.
Father Dave Young, the 38-year-old Catholic priest at Immaculate Conception, was shocked when a thief stole ornamental candlesticks and a ciborium, spilling communion wafers along the way.
Before coming to this county a decade ago, Father Young had grown up in nearby Columbus—where for many years he didn’t feel safe walking the streets. “I always had my guard up,” he said.
Since 1980, however, the state capital’s population has risen 52%, buoyed by thousands of jobs from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., plus the growth of Ohio State University. Median household income in Columbus is up 6% over the same span, adjusted for inflation. “The economy has grown a lot there,” said Father Young. “The downtown, they’ve really worked on it.”
Meanwhile, as Kenton—population 8,200—continues to unravel, he said he has begun always locking the church door. Again, he finds himself looking over his shoulder.
There are definitely some similarities between the current struggles of many small, isolated towns and the challenges faced by inner city neighborhoods fifty years ago.  Both areas lost jobs and hope while drug use and family failures spiraled up.  Currently, we haven't seen the spike in violent crime in small towns, and hopefully we won't, but I expect that part of the inner city collapse rose up with the feeling of hopelessness that grew up out of the utter lack of opportunity and impact of drugs.  It very well could crop up in today's seemingly abandoned small towns.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

House GOP Obamacare Repeal: Robbing From The Sick and Giving To The Rich

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Chart of the Day: Word Cloud Edition

Quinnipiac asked, "what is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump?":

The most common responses, in order:
1. idiot, 39 times
2. incompetent, 31 times
3. liar, 30 times
4. leader, 25 times
5. unqualified, 25 times
6. president, 22 times
7. strong, 21 times
8. businessman, 18 times
9. ignorant, 16 times
10. egotistical, 15 times
It is good that we only did the top 10, because the 11th most-common word is not suitable for a family newspaper. It rhymes with “mass soul.” And actually, it’s only tied for 11th … with “stupid.”
I would have probably used moron or dumbfuck.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Western Subcontractors Help Chinese Plane Business

Bloomberg:

China is making its boldest attempt yet to break the stranglehold that Airbus SE and Boeing Co. have on the market for big commercial airliners. After years of delays, the nation’s first modern large jet is expected to make its maiden flight....
The 158-174 seat C919 is made by state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd. and follows Comac’s development of a smaller, regional jet, the ARJ21, that was flown by a Chinese airline for the first time last year. The C919 brings Comac to the table in one of the most lucrative sectors of commercial aviation, competing head-to-head with Boeing’s ubiquitous 737 and Airbus’s A320....
The Chinese jet demonstrates the extent globalization has taken over the manufacture of major engineering products. Just as the jet relies on systems from firms based around the world, many of those systems are built with components that originated in China.
The C919’s engines for example are made by CFM. CFM’s parents, GE and French manufacturer Safran Aircraft Engines, in turn buy more than $500 million of Chinese-made parts a year for the company’s single-aisle jet engine series, the company said.
Hmmm....looks like a who's who of my stock portfolio.  I wonder how long it will be before all that technology is pirated by mainland companies.  I'm guessing not very long.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Cincinnati May Have A New Mayor

If it is Yvette Simpson, she will bring a unique biography to the job.

Every Town For Itself In Climate Change Era

St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
About 40 percent of levees along the Mississippi River in the Army Corps of Engineers district north of St. Louis are built higher than their authorized heights, according to the agency’s own findings.
The Corps’ Rock Island District, which covers an area beginning about 60 miles upstream from St. Louis, reports that about 80 out of 202 miles of levee systems it surveyed are improperly high, based on data yet to be publicly released.
“Some of those were between 2 and 4 feet above their authorized elevation,” said Scott Whitney, the Corps’ Rock Island District flood risk manager and chief of project management. “The revelation is out there that levee districts throughout this region have taken, in some cases, some pretty extreme measures to protect themselves.”
That protection, he notes, has come “at the cost of others,” with the added levee height leaving other areas more vulnerable to redirected floodwater. Whitney said the district is still developing a hydraulic model to understand how far-reaching the levees’ combined impact on flooding has been, including whether the St. Louis area has been affected....
 Complicating matters further, stronger flood protection is increasingly coveted, with an unusual number of major floods taking place in recent years — a symptom consistent with more erratic trends in precipitation predicted by climate change.
“We’re in an extremely wet period,” said Whitney, noting that several of the region’s top flooding events on record have occurred in the last decade. “We’ve had a number of those in the last several years. People think, ‘My God, I’ve had three 100-year flood events in the last five years.’”
Expect more frequent floods, more damaging winds, more violent tornadoes and hurricanes, and other dramatic weather events in the future.  And expect communities that can to try to protect themselves, even as it hurts their neighbors.  Things are going to be difficult in the future.

Chart of the Day: Corn Products

From Brian C. Colwell:

Lots of interesting historical corn facts there, too.  Here are a few:
  • 1847: Robert Reid, by accident, created Reid’s Yellow Dent.
  • The western corn rootworm was first collected in 1867 while surveying for a railroad extension from Kansas to Fort Craig.
  • From 1865 to 1935, average corn yield in the United States was essentially unchanged.
  • Corn cob pipes were first manufactured in the United States in 1869.
  • By 1878, Iowa led the US in corn production, followed by Illinois and Missouri.
  • In the late 19th century, pellagra reached epidemic proportions in parts of the southern US.
  • Dr. W.J. Beal conducted experiments with corn hybrids at Michigan State in 1878. He called his hybrid mule corn since the corn was the result of a cross, just as are mules.
  • In 1892, the Corn Palace was built in Mitchell, South Dakota, with corn murals as a way to prove to the world that South Dakota had a healthy agricultural climate.
  • James Reid, son of Robert Reid, won a blue ribbon with his Yellow Dent at the Illinois state fair in 1891 and then a gold medal at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.
  • 1893: George Morrow proposed new corn production methods, which were similar to those used today.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Trump Tax Cuts In One Chart

Via The Atlantic:

Take a wild guess which column Donald Trump would be The whole, tax break for pass-through income is ridiculous.  Pass-through entities were set up to avoid corporate income taxes.  Now they get treated at the state level in several cases, and in this proposal at the federal level, as somehow better than wage income, which is stupid.  Why should I as a farmer and a member in a farm partnership pay less in taxes on that income than I do for schlepping away at my town job working for The Man?  What if I became a contractor for the company I work in town for, and get paid through a pass-through entity.  This example of how that works is a doozy:
Take a real world example. The state of Kansas does not tax pass-through income, and its highest-paid public employee, Bill Self, the coach of the University of Kansas basketball team, is paid $4.8 million per year through an LLC. Under current federal law, a typical head of household earning $4.8 million might have to give more than a third of his income, or about $1.8 million, to the IRS. Under Trump's plan, somebody like Bill Self could save about $1 million in taxes by setting up a pass-through business, thus paying the same marginal rate as a household making about $50,000.
The highest-paid public employee in the state has his salary paid to an LLC, and thus he pays zero dollars in state income tax.  Brilliant, Sam Brownback, brilliant.  It just blows me away that so many people who are struggling to get by are more than happy to support a billionaire who is going to massively cut his own taxes while destroying the federal budget.  And those same struggling people will get negative returns once budget cuts to stem massive deficits are factored in.  

Sunday, April 23, 2017

NASA Photo of the Day

April 9:

Comet Hale-Bopp Over Val Parola Pass
Image Credit & Copyright: A. Dimai, (Col Druscie Obs.), AAC
Explanation: Comet Hale-Bopp, the Great Comet of 1997, became much brighter than any surrounding stars. It was seen even over bright city lights. Away from city lights, however, it put on quite a spectacular show. Here Comet Hale-Bopp was photographed above Val Parola Pass in the Dolomite mountains surrounding Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Comet Hale-Bopp's blue ion tail, consisting of ions from the comet's nucleus, is pushed out by the solar wind. The white dust tail is composed of larger particles of dust from the nucleus driven by the pressure of sunlight, that orbit behind the comet. Comet Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1) remained visible to the unaided eye for 18 months -- longer than any other comet in recorded history. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Comet Hale-Bopp's last trip to the inner Solar System. The large comet is next expected to return around the year 4385.
The dark legacy of Hale-Bopp - Heaven's Gate. What a fucked-up mess.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pre-Planting Links

Yeah, that's right, we haven't started planting, and it's really eating at me.  Anyway, here are some of the interesting stories I've come across since the last time I did enough work to post links:

Club Team Thrives in the Shadow of the Frozen Four - New York Times

The Mariners are Selling Too Many Toasted Grasshoppers - VICE Sports

Mazanec: A Czech Easter Tradition Fighting To Survive In The U.S. - The Salt and Runza: The story of one of Nebraska's most treasured foods - Omaha World-Herald

To feed Upstate NY beer industry, state's barley growers need U.S. aid, Schumer says - Syracuse Poat-Standard

Science Should Not Be a Free Market Endeavor - Slate
 
In Kiron, Iowa, pop. 229, the meaning of a life, a death and another cup of coffee - Washington Post.  This is kind of how I feel every day.

How a gritty Midwestern city is emerging as a model for civility - Christian Science Monitor.  I think this could be done outside of charter schools.

Coal is on the Way Out at Electric Utilities, No Matter What Trump Says - DealBook

Preparing for Chemical Valley - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  Honestly, how economically depressed does a municipality have to be to wish to be more like Ascension Parish, Louisiana?

Confronting the New Urban Crisis - CityLab.  Personally, I think rural folks are going to make sure city denizens are unable to fix these major problems.

Why Cops Shoot - Tampa Bay Times.  The Times have done a couple of great investigative pieces in the past few years.

Unspeakable Realities Block Universal Coverage In America - Forbes.  How fucked up does the U.S. health care economy have to be to have this article published in goddamn Forbes?

Trump's base turns on him - Politico.  Too little, too late.  Like the patent medicine buyers turning on the salesman after he leaves town.

J.D. Vance, the False Prophet of Blue America - New Republic

A history of global living conditions in 5 charts - Our World In Data.  A much brighter view of the world than what I am normally focusing on.  Actually 6 charts here, but I won't be too picky:



Blood Money

If you don't read anything else today, I recommend reading this.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Republican Party, In Summary

Alex Pareene goes over many of the things that make the Republican Party such a dysfunctional governing party:
If you want to understand intra-GOP warfare, the decision-making process of our president, the implosion of the Republican healthcare plan, and the rest of the politics of the Trump era, you don’t need to know about Russian espionage tactics, the state of the white working class, or even the beliefs of the “alt-right.” You pretty much just need to be in semi-regular contact with a white, reasonably comfortable, male retiree. We are now ruled by men who think and act very much like that ordinary man you might know, and if you want to know why they believe so many strange and terrible things, you can basically blame the fact that a large and lucrative industry is dedicated to lying to them....
The bottom-feeding amorality of the sorts of people who sponsored the right-wing press, and the crummy nature of the products and services sold, shows exactly who was supposed to be consuming it: suckers. Or, more specifically, trusting retirees, with a bit of disposable income, and a natural inclination to hate modernity and change—an inclination that could be heightened, radicalized, and exploited....
Rather rapidly, two things happened: First, Republicans realized they’d radicalized their base to a point where nothing they did in power could satisfy their most fervent constituents. Then—in a much more consequential development—a large portion of the Republican Congressional caucus became people who themselves consume garbage conservative media, and nothing else.
That, broadly, explains the dysfunction of the Obama era, post-Tea Party freakout. Congressional Republicans went from people who were able to turn their bullshit-hose on their constituents, in order to rile them up, to people who pointed it directly at themselves, mouths open.
The radicalization of the base actually occurred earlier than Pareene lets on.  He pinpoints it to the election of Obama, but, at least around here, it occurred before that.  I ran for office in 2006 because I saw a Republican party being taken over by know-nothing idiots who believe all kinds of non-factual bullshit.  That year was an election year for all of the statewide executive offices, and when there is a contested Republican primary election for Governor, my county's Republican party holds a County Convention.  As one of the candidates for office, I was invited to speak, or I otherwise wouldn't have attended. The opening address was given by John Boehner, who, at the time, was House Majority Leader (he would become Minority Leader after the 2006 election).  He rolled out a lot of red meat, but over the course of the day, his speech was one of the tamer ones given.  Also present was House Freedom Caucus founder and do-nothing government paycheck thief Jim Jordan, who was leaving the Ohio Senate to run for Congress that year.  I don't think he spoke, but if he did, it was while I was trying to keep from puking due to nerves before my speech.  I gave my speech, which didn't stick to my script, but generally focused on the need for more spending on education.  Not surprisingly, I was the only speaker who didn't mention guns, terrorism or abortion, and the only one who mentioned additional spending for education.

The delegates to the county convention were a mix of elected officials (especially township trustees), party volunteers and business people.  To best illustrate that the base had already been radicalized, all but two of the right-wing loon candidates for statewide office (State Attorney General candidate Betty Montgomery and Mike DeWine, who was the most sane candidate for U.S. Senate present-how times change) was endorsed by the delegates present.  Later that week, I stopped by the county Recorder's office.  He was the county political boss, and he confided to me that he and the other political wheel, the county Prosecutor, were terrified by how radical the base was, and how willing they were to back the morons who professed the greatest faith in the old-time right-wing media bullshit.  Those two were more in it for the power and the ability to hand out patronage, and they were shocked that the majority of the local party was drinking the Kool-Aid.

As Pareene points out, one of the main problems is that the true believers are now a substantial minority in Congress.  The problem is that they were already holding most of the positions at the state level.  Jim Jordan was, at that moment in 2006, making the leap from the state-level stage to the national stage.  My goal was to convince people that they shouldn't be electing morons like Jim Jordan and my opponent to government positions, but instead be electing people who were smart enough to vote for positions outside of the conservative dogma.  Unfortunately, I had a hard time telling my friends and neighbors that they had a lot of stupid political beliefs.  Instead, I tried to work my way around the edges of political discussions, and ended up absorbing a brutal shellacking from a rather dumb incumbent I ran against.

Pareene focuses on Trump's position as the Fox News viewer-in-chief, and how dangerous that is functional government.  The unfortunate thing is that this movement has been building for almost 40 years, and it has taken completely unqualified dumbfuck being elected President of the United States for most folks to realize that stupid people have gradually been filtering up from the grassroots, and now they control almost all the levers of power.  We've had plenty of time to realize what's happening, and the fact that I ran for office is evidence that it was completely obvious back in 2006.  Now we have to reap the whirlwind.

The Anti-Steve King Pulitzer Prize Winner

A small town newspaper editor in massive racist and total dimwit Steve King's birthplace won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.  He frequently takes on King's anti-immigrant screeds, but his attacks on Big Ag won him the prize:
Reveling in the ethnic diversity of the high school football team, Cullen opined last fall: “How about those Tornadoes! The roster had all the colors of the rainbow, all races and creeds pulling together for the good of the team. Steve King wants to deport them because of their big cantaloupe calves, at least the Mexican ones.”
In another part of King’s district, such editorials might put a newspaper out of business. But in Storm Lake, the elementary school student body is nearly 90% children of color, and they speak 19 languages and dialects. The immigrant community here has come to feel a sense of protection that finds its clearest expression in the twice-weekly newspaper.
Cullen took on King again last month when the congressman asserted that America “can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies,” a comment widely interpreted to mean the U.S. needs more children of Western European extraction. Cullen highlighted King’s college attendance — and failure to graduate.
“King said Monday that he is about defending Western civilization,” he wrote. “You remember that class in school? Neither does anyone else. King wasn’t at Northwest Missouri long enough to take it, I bet.”
That kind of straight talk won Cullen a Pulitzer Prize on Monday for editorial writing, with the award committee praising editorials “fueled by tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing that successfully challenged powerful corporate agricultural interests in Iowa.”
More impressively, the newspaper is ridiculously young and is a non-daily:
The white-walled, flag-bedecked newspaper office also has a receptionist, sports writer, photographer and a desk where Cullen’s brother, John, runs the business side of the paper they founded in the early 1990s to compete with the local daily, the Storm Lake Pilot-Tribune. The town of 14,000 was once the smallest in the nation with two daily print newspapers before the Times switched to publishing only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Steve King is an embarrassment for Storm Lake, for Iowa's 4th district, for the state of Iowa, for the nation, and for all of humanity.  I am thankful that somebody is out there pointing out that King is a jackass to the voters who give him the platform to spout his stupidity.

Monday, April 10, 2017

NASA Photo of the Day

April 5:

Filaments of Active Galaxy NGC 1275
Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing & Copyright: Domingo Pestana
Explanation: What keeps these filaments attached to this galaxy? The filaments persist in NGC 1275 even though the turmoil of galactic collisions should destroy them. First, active galaxy NGC 1275 is the central, dominant member of the large and relatively nearby Perseus Cluster of Galaxies. Wild-looking at visible wavelengths, the active galaxy is also a prodigious source of x-rays and radio emission. NGC 1275 accretes matter as entire galaxies fall into it, ultimately feeding a supermassive black hole at the galaxy's core. This composite image, recreated from archival Hubble Space Telescope data, highlights the resulting galactic debris and filaments of glowing gas, some up to 20,000 light-years long. Observations indicate that the structures, pushed out from the galaxy's center by the black hole's activity, are held together by magnetic fields. Also known as Perseus A, NGC 1275 spans over 100,000 light years and lies about 230 million light years away.

Monday, April 3, 2017

It's Opening Day

The weather may not cooperate, but hopefully the crowds enjoy the Findlay Market parade and the start of baseball season in Cincinnati.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

The 2017 George Will Opening Day Baseball Quiz

George Will:
Sportswriter: "You hit only two home runs all last year and already you've hit seven this year [1969]. What's the difference?"
Reds outfielder Alex Johnson: "Five."
WASHINGTON -- See? Baseball numbers aren't difficult. But be precise: As players say after a close play, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." And don't be discouraged if some questions stump you. As Phillies manager Danny Ozark said in 1976, "Even Napoleon had his Watergate." And as Brewers manager Harvey Kuenn said after losing the 1982 World Series to the Cardinals, "We're going to hang our heads high." Now, name the player or players who:

1) Had 297 three-hit games and only one three-strike-out game.
2) Struck out only 23 times in 474 at bats against Hall of Fame pitchers.
3) Batted .415 in 94 at bats against Greg Maddux.
4) Had at least 100 hits from both sides of the plate in a season.
5) Has the lowest career batting average among players with 3,000 hits.
6) Are the three players who each had an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) above 1.000 in their final season.
7) Are the four pitchers with more than three Cy Young awards.
8) Are the seven starting pitchers with two seasons with a sub-0.9 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched).
9) Are the three hitters to have at least 40 home runs and 100 walks in a season before turning 23.
10) Have the three best OPS seasons at age 20 playing at least 100 games.
11) Are the four hitters with more than 500 home runs and 600 doubles.
12) Has the best stolen-base percentage with at least 500 steals.
13) Was the Hall of Famer who won three MVPs and finished second four times.
14) Was the youngest 20-game winner.
15) Set the rookie record for strikeouts.
16) Holds the record for most extra-base hits by a third baseman in a single season.
17) Among pitchers in the live ball era (post-1920) with at least 900 innings, had the lowest opponents' batting average and most strikeouts per nine innings.
18) Is the only player in the top 10 all time in runs, hits, home runs, RBI, total bases and extra-base hits.
19) Is the pitcher with the most strikeouts in his first 100 major league games.
20) Is the only first baseman to have 40 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a season (he did it twice).
21) Are the three pitchers with six seasons with at least 200 strikeouts and no more than 175 hits.
22) Had the longest hitting streak by a catcher.
23) In 1930, hit .386, had 250 hits, hit 40 home runs and drove in 170 but led the league in none of these four categories.
24) Had a higher batting average than Joe DiMaggio's .408 during DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak in 1941.
25) Was the MVP in two consecutive All-Star games.
26) Were the two to win rookie of the year, MVP and Cy Young awards (not all in the same season).
27) Lost no-hitters with two outs in the ninth inning in consecutive games.
28) Is the only player to finish first or second in MVP voting in his first five full seasons.
29) Are the five centerfielders elected to Cooperstown in their first year of eligibility.
30) Has the most World Series hits.
Bonus question: Which broadcaster said, "Ozzie Smith just made another play that I've never seen anyone else make before, and I've seen him make it more than anyone else ever has"? Hint: He also said, "There's a fly ball to deep center field. Winfield is going back, back. He hits his head against the wall. It's rolling toward second base."

Answers after the jump

Thursday, March 30, 2017

One Shining Moment

Revisiting the Carrier Plant

Bloomberg goes back to follow up on what currently looks like the high point of the Trump era (which actually occurred before the inauguration):
HVAC makers have left the U.S. for the same reason countless other businesses have: cheaper labor. Carrier’s unionized workers in Indy are paid, on average, about $23 an hour (though more recent hires earn $17). Their Mexican counterparts earn an hourly rate of $3. Absenteeism and turnover in Indiana are considerably higher than at the company’s Monterrey operations, Hayes says. He told the Council on Foreign Relations breakfast that his Mexican rooftop AC plant has “probably one of the best-performing workforces that we have around the globe.”
Which isn’t to say that Carrier’s Indy workers, represented by United Steelworkers Local 1999, aren’t productive. They produce 10,000 furnace or fan-coil units a day, or one every seven seconds. According to a 1993 Hartford Courant story, the Indianapolis plant back then produced 500,000 furnaces a year with 1,500 workers. Today it can make four times as many furnaces and fan coils with a slightly smaller workforce—and you don’t have to explain the significance of that to the members of Local 1999. Studies show that 50 percent to 90 percent of job losses at American factories are attributable to productivity gains linked to automation. Except for a blip during the 2008 recession, industrial production in the U.S. has been on a fairly steady rise for decades. Even if Trump struck three Carrier deals a day for the rest of his term, he wouldn’t recoup even half the 7 million American manufacturing jobs lost since that employment peaked in 1979.
Here is a gem that should be repeated anytime some businessperson trots out the "job-killing regulations" line:
The union offered concessions amounting to a third of the $65 million a year Carrier expected to save by moving. Indiana then-Governor Mike Pence and Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly met separately with Carrier and UTC executives. Pence told RTV6 of Indianapolis that the “rising tide of red tape” in Washington made it impossible for Carrier to keep the plant running.
Donnelly says he asked Carrier executive Nelson and Robert McDonough, who runs UTC’s Climate, Controls & Security division, to cite one regulation that figured in the decision. “They couldn’t,” he says. The executives did confirm that furnaces sent to the U.S. from Mexico would have to comply with the same rules. The company later told the union that regulatory costs didn’t figure into expected savings from the move.
“This is about Carrier chasing wages at $3 an hour,” Donnelly says. “They put together a $16 billion stock buyback and just went wherever they could to try to pick up a few extra pennies.”
So what was the outcome of the "deal"?  This:
Carrier struck a deal with the Indiana Economic Development Corp., a public-private agency chaired at the time by Pence. UTC had declined a similar arrangement in 2014 because, in part, it would have required the plant to add workers. According to the current plan, Carrier will receive up to $7 million in state tax credits and training grants over 10 years—about $1,000 per worker per year, a pittance for UTC, which offers to underwrite four years of college education for any employee.
UTC also pledged to spend $16 million on plant upgrades, including automation. That should make the plant more productive, which in turn could lessen the need to seek dirt-cheap wages. But technology tends to shrink payrolls, and that’s likely to happen at Carrier. “We will take a lot of those jobs that today require very low skill and … eliminate those jobs through automation,” Hayes says...He offers little comfort to the sorts of workers whose jobs he reluctantly preserved. “If you have a low-skilled job, they’re not safe no matter where you are,” he says. “The forces of globalization are not going to slow down.”
That’s painfully clear in Indiana. Not far from Carrier, Rexnord LLC is closing a bearings plant and shipping production to Mexico. Trump tweeted about it in December: “This is happening all over our country. No more!” Rexnord’s 350 workers are expected to be gone by summer. Elsewhere in the state, auto parts supplier CTS Corp. in Elkhart is sending production to Asia and Mexico, cutting 230 jobs. Welbilt Inc. closed its Sellersburg beverage systems factory in January and sent production to Mexico, eliminating more than 70 jobs. Harman Professional Solutions shifted some operations in Elkhart to Mexico, killing 125 jobs.
Layoffs at UTC’s Huntington plant began recently. The facility will be closed by early 2018. The Carrier fan-coil lines and related jobs will be gone by the end of this year.
Unfortunately, I don't think anything, especially a blowhard moron jackass President, can staunch the flow of job losses to low wage countries and to automation.  The truth is, we have locked ourselves into an unsustainable, resource-intensive way-of-life that we just can't afford to maintain.  It is just too easy for businesses to use wage arbitrage to make products in low-wage countries and sell them in rich countries.  It doesn't matter whether Trump's excise taxes or Paul Ryan's border-adjustment tax were to go into effect, because each would pummel the millions of Americans in low-paying service jobs, while barely assisting the approximately 9% of Americans who work in manufacturing.  The only thing that could maybe revitalize American manufacturing would be for investors to give up on squeezing more and more profits out of American companies, and settle for allowing workers to gain a much greater share of productivity gains.  You may as well wait for Donald Trump to show humility.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Charts of the Day: Coal in Ohio

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Miners represent just a fraction of 1 percent of the Ohio workforce. Coal companies employed 2,416 miners in the state in 2015, the most-recent number available, down 23 percent from 2009.
For some perspective, the state has more than 95,000 workers in auto, truck and related parts manufacturing. And Ohio's 2,825 florists outnumber the state's coal miners, according to figures from the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But for the Rosebud miners, it's not just a job. It's a legacy. And they share the hope that the new administration will fight to save their way of life.
It's going to take much more than a blowhard idiot President to bring back many mining jobs.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Trump Budget

FiveThirtyEight:


Idiots.  Note that Trump claims to want to fund massive infrastructure investment, but his cuts to the Ag Department hit investment in water and wastewater projects in rural areas.  Army Corps cuts are going to hit inland river navigation.  And DOT cuts? WTF?  He's the old-time patent medicine salesman ripping off the rubes.  Fuck that asshole.  He's going to be the worst President of my lifetime.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Lofoten Islands

The Lofoten Islands from Nick Kontostavlakis on Vimeo.



This makes me feel a little warmer today even though Old Man Winter is trying to remind me he's not dead yet.

Monday, March 13, 2017

NCAA Bracket

First Four: Mt. St. Mary's, Kansas State, UC Davis and Providence

East
First Round: Villanova, Wisconsin, UNC-Wilmington, Florida, Providence, Baylor, Marquette, Duke
Second Round: Villanova, Florida, Baylor, Duke
Third Round: Villanova, Baylor
East winner: Villanova

West
First Round: Gonzaga, Northwestern, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Xavier, FGSU, St. Mary's, Arizona
Second Round: Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Xavier, Arizona
Third Round: Gonzaga, Arizona
West winner: Gonzaga

Midwest
First Round: Kansas, Miami, Nevada, Purdue, Creighton, Oregon, Michigan, Louisville
Second Round: Kansas, Purdue, Creighton, Louisville
Third Round: Kansas, Louisville
Midwest winner: Louisville

South
First Round: North Carolina, Seton Hall, Middle Tennessee, Butler, Cincinnati, UCLA, Dayton, Kentucky
Second Round: North Carolina, Butler, Cincinnati, Kentucky
Third Round: Butler, Kentucky
South winner: Kentucky

Semifinals: Villanova, Kentucky

Champion: Villanova

The Financialized Economy

Via Downtown Josh Brown:






Then Steve King says something racist.

Delayed Time Change Links

If I were in charge, we would never fall back to standard time again.  But I'm not.  However, here are some worthwhile links to take a look at if you haven't already:

Angry Man Cuts President Trump's Balls Off - Deadspin.  The horse was gelded.

Wisconsin and Minnesota Await Latest Round in Ice-Melting Rivalry - New York Times

This small molecule could have a big future in food security - Phys.org.  A GMO corn that would prevent the production of aflatoxin.

Soils could release much more carbon than expected as climate warms - Science Daily.  If we weren't already completely screwed.

McM Inc lists $49.7 million in debts, $10.3 million in assets - AgWeek.  Ouch.

2 of a Farmer’s 3 Children Overdosed. What of the Third — and the Land? - New York Times

High-Tech Greenhouse Has Neighbors Throwing Shade Over Light Pollution - The Salt.  We have folks complaining about the same thing up the highway in Wapakoneta, Ohio.  There they are talking about building 200 acres of greenhouses (there are 20 acres under roof currently), which boggles my mind.  That would be a shit-ton of runoff on a big rain.

Official: Fire still burning hours after Iowa derailment - Des Moines Register.  Ethanol train.

Why Do We Have "Free Trade" For Televisions, But Not For Corn - JSTOR Daily

Caught Dead - The Ringer.  On fishing bluefin tuna to extinction for ridiculously priced sushi.

Donald Trump and the mansion that no one wanted. Then came a Russian fertilizer king- McClatchy.  The story is worthwhile just because it revolves around "the Fertilizer (potash) King,"and how stupid rich people can be.
 and how stupid
Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article135243694.html#storylink=cpy

Proposed NOAA Budget Cuts Would Jeopardize Essential Tools - Pacific Standard.  Rule by right wing morons sucks.

The quest to crystallize time - Nature and Quantum Leaps - The Economist.  Quantum mechanics is too weird for me.  Also, Quantum Leap was a shitty TV show.

Is It Better to Be Poor in Bangladesh or the Mississippi Delta? and The Steady Destruction of America’s CitiesThe Atlantic

On Labor and Beyond, Trump Is Following Scott Walker's Playbook - Truthout.  I prefer Donald Trump to Scott Walker and Ted Cruz.  They are that bad.

GOP Health Plan Would Hit Rural Areas Hard - Wall Street Journal.  Hoocoodanode?

Republicans and the Constitution - The New Yorker.  Hopefully even Republicans aren't stupid and power-hungry enough to open up this can of worms.

The .300 Hitter Is Going Extinct - Wall Street Journal.  I know the Sabermetrics goons don't put any stock in hitting for average, but I still admire a .300 hitter.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Demographic Change, It's A Comin'

At least in Northern Ireland:
Northern Ireland's snap election has left the rival extremes of politics virtually neck and neck for the first time — and facing a bruising battle to put their Catholic-Protestant government back together again in an increasingly polarized landscape.
The big winner from Saturday's final results to fill the Northern Ireland Assembly is the Irish nationalist party that triggered the vote, Sinn Fein.
Already the major voice for the Catholic side, Sinn Fein reduced its previous 10-seat gap with its erstwhile Protestant colleagues in government to a single seat in a 90-member chamber. Sinn Fein came within 1,168 votes province-wide of becoming the most popular party for the first time in a corner of the United Kingdom that its leaders long sought to make ungovernable through Irish Republican Army carnage....
In another first, the leading British Protestant party, the Democratic Unionists, won't have enough votes to block legislation on its own, a power long employed to block gay rights legislation backed by all other parties. Never before has the Protestant side's status as the in-built majority in Northern Ireland felt so precarious.
The outcome from Thursday's election, forced by a surprise Sinn Fein withdrawal that collapsed the previous unity government, caught other parties off guard. The Democratic Unionists finished with 28 seats, Sinn Fein 27. The political affiliations of smaller parties meant the new assembly will have 40 unionists committed to keeping Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom versus 39 nationalists seeking to merge the once Protestant-dominated north into the Republic of Ireland.
I am curious if Brexit was a large motivating factor in more people supporting Sinn Fein in this election than in previous elections.  The Unionist side is getting very old, and I would guess that some young Protestants see more of a future with Ireland and the EU than with Britain.  Previous elections showed a much slower rate of change in relative strength between Unionists and Nationalists.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

NASA Photo of the Day

Today:

A Supercell Thunderstorm Cloud Over Montana
Image Credit & Copyright: Sean R. Heavey
Explanation: Is that a spaceship or a cloud? Although it may seem like an alien mothership, it's actually a impressive thunderstorm cloud called a supercell. Such colossal storm systems center on mesocyclones -- rotating updrafts that can span several kilometers and deliver torrential rain and high winds including tornadoes. Jagged sculptured clouds adorn the supercell's edge, while wind swept dust and rain dominate the center. A tree waits patiently in the foreground. The above supercell cloud was photographed in 2010 July west of Glasgow, Montana, USA, caused minor damage, and lasted several hours before moving on.

Pre-Mardi Gras Links

Unbelievably, Lent is almost here and winter is pretty much over.  Here are some stories that caught my attention:

The Next Babe Ruth - Sportsnet

In a Champion's Corner, a Real Coach Who Inspired One on 'The Wire' - New York Times

 A Taste For Pork Helped A Deadly Virus Jump To Humans - Goats and Soda

A Bee Mogul Confronts the Crisis in His Field - New York Times

Farming Behind Barbed Wire: Japanese-Americans Remember WWII Incarceration - The Salt

Red state rural America is acting on climate change – without calling it climate change - The Conversation

Wary of Modern Society, Some Christians Choose a Life Apart - Wall Street Journal

The Secret Art History on Your Money - New York Times

What Happens When Two Bankers and an Engineer Get a Billion Dollars - Bloomberg

The enormous scale of the erosion problem at the Oroville dam site - AGU.  Awesome photos from 2 weeks ago.

Meet ISRO’s PSLV: The rockstar of Indian rockets - Quartz

The 20th century saw a 23-fold increase in natural resources used for building - The Conversation.  I think this is the definition of unsustainable.

End of a golden age - Aeon.  The product of the unsustainable development (in the West) described above.

Scott Pruitt's Back-To-Basics Agenda for the EPA - Wall Street Journal and Environmental Chief Promises Swift Rollback of Obama-Era Rules - Bloomberg. 
“People across the country look at the EPA much like they look at the IRS -- and I hope to be able to change that,” Pruitt said.
I doubt that he meant that both agencies are endlessly attacked and undermined by Republicans, to the point that they are woefully unable make sure existing laws are followed, but that is the case.

The fallacy of Trump's "send in the Feds" fix for Chicago - Vox

The Two Kinds of Trump Voters - Politico

Outside coastal cities an ‘other America’ has different values and challenges - The Guardian

"I Feel Forgotten": A Decade of Struggle in Rural Ohio - The New Yorker

What happened when factory jobs moved from Warren, Ohio, to Juarez, Mexico - LA Times

Under A New System, Clinton Could Have Won The Popular Vote By 5 Points And Still Lost - FiveThirtyEight.  Gerrymandering (or stealing elections) on steroids.  I'd originally meant to write a post about this, but never got around to it.




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

More on the Oroville Dam

The Atlantic:

 A crater in the middle of the primary spillway at the Oroville Dam (California Department of Water Resources via Reuters)
This winter has seen much more snow and rain, which is good news for the parched state, but bad news for the Oroville Dam, where huge amounts of water are collecting. The lake rose 50 feet in a matter of days. Earlier in February, as operators let water over a concrete spillway to reduce the pressure, a crater appeared in the spillway. Faced with too much water in the lake, they continued to use the spillway anyway, and the damage got worse. On Friday, the crater was 45 feet deep, 300 feet wide, and 500 feet long.
There’s a backup for the concrete spillway, an auxiliary spillway that had never been used. It’s really just a hillside sloping down from the reservoir, covered in brush and trees. As the situation became more dire last week, crews starting clearing the slope for its first baptism. Managers hoped pressing the auxiliary spillway into service would give them time to patch up the concrete spillway over what’s expected to be a drier season. (That could be easier said than done: Snowpack upstream is 150 percent of normal for this time of year, meaning there’s going to be more melt headed downstream than normal.)
Initially, that seemed to do the trick: The water level in Lake Oroville was dropping, and the danger seemed to be abating. On Sunday, however, officials noticed the auxiliary spillway was starting to erode—at the same time that huge amounts of water continued to flow into the lake. The fear is that if the spillway gives out, a wall of water could push down out of Lake Oroville and toward lower ground. Workers are trying to shore up the emergency spillway with bags of rocks, including dropping them from helicopters. If it gives way, the Feather River would flood downstream, and might wash out other levees farther down the river. Meanwhile, debris from erosion also forced the  state Department of Water Resources, the dam’s operator, to shut down its power plant, which could have helped to release some additional water. And there’s rain forecast for later this week.
 Los Angeles Times:
 Crews work on a damaged section of the emergency spillway at Lake Oroville on Monday.
(Josh Edelson / AFP/ Getty Images)
In the five days from Feb. 6 to Friday, Oroville received more than 6 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. The surrounding mountains and foothills received up to 24 inches of rain and snow in the same time period.
The storm’s runoff sent water into the Oroville reservoir at an average rate of 115,260 cubic feet per second, data show. The lake’s water level climbed 50 feet in five days.
In addition to the crisis at Oroville Dam, several levees throughout the region have seen structural damage, adding to the flood threat, Dang said. Many reservoirs in Northern California are having to release large amounts of water, causing rivers to rise.
Portions of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers are at or near flood stage, he said. The Feather River, downstream from Lake Oroville, has seen flooding for several days.
Although this week’s storms are expected to be smaller, they’re “certainly impactful,” Dang said.
“The storms last week have really left Northern California in a vulnerable state right now, and any amount of rainfall isn’t helpful at this stage.”
Forecasters say there is a potential for another series of strong storms in Northern California early next week that could bring additional flooding, though they are less confident about the specifics because it is still early, Dang said.
Also from the Times:

The emergency spillway begins discharging at 901 feet, so at its peak, the lake level was more than 19 inches above that.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Spring Is Here

Sure, astronomy and groundhogs may disagree, but Reds pitchers and catchers report to spring training camp today, so spring is here.  Also, there is bock beer on the grocery shelves.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Oroville Dam Spillway Failure 'Expected'

 Water flows over the damaged main spillway at Lake Oroville and into the Feather River in Oroville, Calif., on Saturday. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

LA Times:
Residents of Oroville and nearby towns were ordered to immediately evacuate on Sunday afternoon after a “hazardous situation” developed involving an emergency spillway at the Oroville Dam.
The National Weather Service said the auxiliary spillway at the Oroville Dam was expected to fail by 5:45 p.m., which could send an “uncontrolled release of flood waters from Lake Oroville.”
Those in Oroville were asked to flee northward toward Chico. In Yuba County, those in the valley areas were urged to take routes to the east, south, or west.
“This is not a drill. This is not a drill. Repeat this is not a drill,” the National Weather Service said. Authorities urged residents to contact neighbors and family members and reach out to the elderly and assist them in evacuating.
The Butte County Sheriff’s Department and the state Department of Water Resources said the failure of the auxiliary spillway — a 1,700-foot-long hillside route — was caused by “severe erosion.”
The evacuations marked a dramatic turn of events at the nation’s tallest dam. For several days, officials have been trying to figure out how to get water out of Lake Oroville after the main spillway was damaged.
The emergency spillway had never been used before — and until the last few hours it seemed to be working well. Video from television helicopters showed water flowing into a parking lot next to the dam, with large flows going down both the damaged main spillway and the emergency spillway.
The water is flowing into the Feather River, which runs through downtown Oroville and other communities. Water levels were rising on the river.
Wow, that is very scary.  I'll follow up tomorrow.

NASA Photo of the Day

February 8:

The Butterfly Nebula from Hubble
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble, HLA; Reprocessing & Copyright: Jesús M.Vargas & Maritxu Poyal
Explanation: The bright clusters and nebulae of planet Earth's night sky are often named for flowers or insects. Though its wingspan covers over 3 light-years, NGC 6302 is no exception. With an estimated surface temperature of about 250,000 degrees C, the dying central star of this particular planetary nebula has become exceptionally hot, shining brightly in ultraviolet light but hidden from direct view by a dense torus of dust. This sharp close-up of the dying star's nebula was recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope and is presented here in reprocessed colors. Cutting across a bright cavity of ionized gas, the dust torus surrounding the central star is near the center of this view, almost edge-on to the line-of-sight. Molecular hydrogen has been detected in the hot star's dusty cosmic shroud. NGC 6302 lies about 4,000 light-years away in the arachnologically correct constellation of the Scorpion (Scorpius).