Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Even If Mueller Only Reads From His Report July 17th- It's Better Than Nothing

"Mueller doesn’t get to be the ultimate arbiter of what is and isn’t political. And he’s not a flower that will wilt with too much exposure."- Blogger Cody Fenwick, 'Robert Mueller Is Acting Like A Precious Flower',, May 20

"I think Robert Mueller is a little bit too concerned that his work could be interpreted politically.  You cannot take quite so much of the politics out of politics. ..While I certainly understand the idea that when you get put in front of a camera - given congress the way that it is - a lot of people are going to be grandstanding to create that one viral moment. 

Nevertheless the idea you don't do it because it could be politicized to the American people, I mean you're working for the American people.  So that doesn't quite add up to me".  Ezra Klein on 'Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell', May 23rd

Well, at least a second major milestone was passed yesterday evening when it was announced on MSNBC that former Special Prosecutor  Robert Mueller will finally testify in public - scheduled now for July 17th.    There will be two sequential hearings, one in front of the House Judiciary Committee, the other in front of the House Intelligence Committee.  Make no mistake that Mueller's  agreement was not "friendly" but required a House subpoena for him to comply.  Something I strongly endorsed way back on May 24, when I wrote:

"If Mueller isn't courageous enough to don the patriot mantle, and disdains descending into the fray, then Jerrold Nadler has no choice but to issue a subpoena for him to testify publicly. No more "Mr. Nice Guy"!

Well, evidently Messrs. Nadler and Schiff paid some attention.  But no one should feel any sense of total satisfaction or that Mueller will be a willing testifier.  No, he will likely drive lawmakers nuts either reading selected portions that partly answer their questions, or responding in obscure (as opposed to direct) language that will need to be further parsed.  Partly this will be to protect himself from what is likely going to be a Repuke counter attack led by No. 1  House GOP asshole Jim Jordan.  So Mueller will plausibly figure that being taciturn and indirect with his responses will spare him from a 3-ring circus spectacle.  The latter is precisely what the traitor-enabling Republicans embrace and why their objective will be to make a mockery of the hearings.  This the Dems cannot allow, even if they have to call the sergeant-at -arms to lock a few of the Reeps up if they transgress on the contempt side.

At the very least, Mueller needs to be pressed in respect of his response to William Barr's disingenuous presentation of the report 3 months ago.  Mueller wrote in the wake of Barr's egregiously slanted release: "There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel to assure public confidence in the outcome of the investigations."

So we need to hear Mueller come out and in no uncertain terms condemn, or at least rigorously criticize,  Barr's misleading interpretation.  His response needs to be sufficiently robust that Barr's spin can no longer be used to stoke the narrative that there is no there, there.  And  must skewer the widespread canard that Trump is innocent of all the charges and besides, "it's all a witch hunt."

Let's acknowledge here that yes, Mueller is averse to public testimony because: 1) he doesn't want too many millions of Americans directly seeing and hearing what he said or concluded - because of the political heat he might take, and 2) he doesn't want to lock horns with his old pal and original "mentor" Barr.  But look, that cow escaped after the barn door was left ajar - not long after Barr issued his spurious summary of Mueller's report - when Mueller left that 'door' open to mischief.  In other words, Mueller himself left the door open to further inquiry on his findings so he can't play the victim or cry about the consequences now.

Besides, as former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld pointedly noted (on MSNBCs 'Last  Word'' May 23):
"I suspect he wants to avoid a circus. But he's testified many times before in high pressure situations with a lot of members from both parties from time to time being angry at the performance of the FBI. And he always stood there and took it. And he can do that again, believe me, he's a tough guy. I've worked shoulder to shoulder with him and he can more than hold his own."

Terrific that Mueller is - or was - a "tough guy"  and "could hold his own" in open hearings, but we need him to do that now in defense of the country. Especially now in an environment in which Trump has implemented a total blockade of all relevant witnesses, aides for any House hearings.   This is the time to be a hero, not a wallflower too delicate to take political blowback or heat, see e.g.

As for the foolish trope that Mueller didn't come to a firm conclusion in his report out of fairness, NY Times' Maureen Dowd had the best retort to that:

At many of the most consequential moments in American history, I have watched officials bend over backward to be equitable, only to end up faltering and doing enormous damage to the Republic.

It is possible to be “fair” in a way that is not at all fair.

It’s simply bad judgment, ceding the ground to malevolent actors who use any means to achieve their ends, including flattening and sliming the proponents of “fairness.”

Ms. Dowd at the time was referencing Mueller's overwhelming reluctance to render definitive positions on Trump in his report. Indeed one NY Book Review take on it was that Mueller sought to be scrupulously  "fair".  Well, he was indeed that, to the point of folly and enabling the bad guys to get away with their evil deeds - and now put the good guys in their sights.  This is what Mueller needs to address now, as he hopefully rejects the pose of a political wallflower.  Still,  Rep. Adam B. Schiff is rightfully trying to tamp down expectations.  Though as a report in today's Denver Post  (p. 11A) put it:

"Even Mueller's repeating aspects of his report in a public setting could be politically damaging for Trump."

In any case, I am confident that any response vocalized by Mueller will be better than no response, such as the Trump puppet Hope Hicks delivered. The only thing that can derail what the NY Times has referred to as the "potential to reshape the political landscape"  is a Trump  distraction.  In Janice's words - and she's seldom cynical like me:  "Look for a U.S. cruise missile attack on Iran the night before July 17."


See also what Nadler and Schiff , wrote in a letter to Mr. Mueller on Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

So Wait: I Need A Trained Bald Eagle To Neutralize A Nuisance Drone? Yeppers, According to Federal Law

One of these intruders snapping your wife on camera while she's sun bathing in the nude? You are not allowed by law to shoot it down . You need to rent or get a bird of prey to bring it down.

Image result for brane space, drones

The stories reeled off in the recent WSJ 'Mansions' piece ('Spies From Above', June 21) had me truly wondering whether this country has truly gone round the bend or is merely in a temporary nervous breakdown.  The accounts spanned the gamut but all focused on the increasing invasion of air space and private space now - by drones. 

For example, we read of Shelley West, 54, who happened to be sunbathing in the nude behind the 6 foot high stone wall of her gated community in Indio, CA, last April  To her shock and surprise she began dozing off when the faint whirring sound made her realize a drone was directly above her.  In Ms. West's own words, quoted in the piece:

"If I had a BB gun I would have loved to....shoot it down!"

Ah, my fair lady, point well taken but that rash (but just!) action might have earned you a trip to the slammer.  As the piece goes on to point out (for anyone who also harbors such visions of retribution for a nuisance drone):

"It is a federal crime to bring down a drone or any other aircraft regulated by the FAA, according to the federal agency. It is also illegal to use jamming equipment to interrupt the signal between the drone and its operator, per Federal Communications Commission regulations."

Even if the drone is outside your kids' bedroom window with camera aimed inside?  Yep, you cannot shoot the little beastie  down with your Glock .45 or jam it to  interrupt the invasive signals the renegade drone operator is sending to get whatever kicks.

The article goes on to say that "nervous homeowners" desperate to reclaim their privacy even beseech an outfit called 'Drone Shield', asking for weapons to "defeat the drone and take it down".  However, Oleg Vornik - DroneShield CEO - must break the news to these forlorn folks that "it can't legally sell any equipment to ordinary U.S. citizens."

So what are desperate people being invaded by these flying spies supposed to do? Just grin and bear it?  Well, no.  One option is to buy one of the company's "drone detection" products to pinpoint the location of the drone operator. You can then phone it in to the nearest FAA office....if you can get a human on the other end  of the line.

The other option is to purchase or rent a drone-hunting bird of prey.   For example, 'Guard from Above',   a company based in The Hague (Holland), trains bald eagles to hunt down and immobilize drones.  Most clients who can afford them, want to have the birds on patrol 24/7 - but that means based at their residence - which "requires a bird quarter".   This is a specially protected space where the birds "can bathe,  feed and move around comfortably based on the company guidelines".   These have to then comply with various country, state and county regulations, according to CEO and founder, Sjoerd Hoogendoorn.

Oh yeah, before I forget, "a professional bird handler is also required."   Can't just have any doofus managing these specially trained avians!  Part of their job is to "feed the birds several kinds of meat"  and "keep tabs on them using GPS trackers."

Among the most baffling aspects we also learn in the piece, which one supposes has been written tongue-in -cheek (but maybe not) is:

"FAA regulations are designed to protect the safety of the skies, not personal privacy and residential security."

Well, pardon me if I laugh.  The FAA "protect the safety of the skies" when thousands of these flying doodads are invading commercial air space almost every day  - and airline pilots often have to veer to miss them?  Give me a break.  IF the FAA were truly serious about such "protection", then: a) they would never have allowed so many to be unregulated in the first place, and b) should have pushed hard (against the drone makers) to have operators qualify by taking actual pilot's tests.  After all, they are piloting these craft in air space and often making dangerous incursions into commercial air space.

As I have argued before, all operators of drones - of whatever scale- need to be licensed to fly them, operate them. You shouldn't be able to just amble into a hobby store and buy one like you'd buy a model plane kit.  This is especially so given the FAA is granting the same gravitas vis-a vis no artificial interference (shooting, jamming) rules , for example, as it grants to commercial planes in U.S. airspace.   In other words, if drones are also regarded as aircraft that "can't be brought down" - i.e. because they are "regulated by the FAA" - then it stands to reason ALL the regulations that apply ought to conform to the SAME stringent standards.

There cannot be differing standards for airplanes and drones if the same severe prohibitions of interference apply.

 That means all drone operators must possess the same qualifications, basically, as actual pilots - and demonstrate analogous responsibilities.  (Indeed, this had been considered by the FAA back in 2014, before manufacturer and congressional blowback forced them to back down.) But if the same rigorous standards for operators don't apply, the FAA needs to admit a certain subset of drones are just nuisance toys which can  -on occasion - be shot down or jammed, if they invade citizens' air space, home space for mischievous or malicious purposes..

The problem then inheres in two differing sets of regulations, one vastly more severe, i.e. for formal aircraft:  planes, helicopters etc., the other for drones - which can be literal toys - but threaten commercial air space and personal privacy. It is exactly this bifurcation in rules and practice which poses the problem

Fortunately, as the article goes on to point out there are a "patchwork of state and local laws"  which have come into practice, and evidently trump the  FAA's too soft rules on drones. California, for example, passed a 2015 law prohibiting drones from entering the airspace above someone's land to capture visual images of them.  Other states have laws that prohibit using drones for peeping or spying.  As we learn from one attorney, Lydia Hilton:

"Just because the FAA says a drone operator may access the air space under certain circumstances doesn't give the operator a pass under state laws."

Again, this wouldn't be an issue if only responsible operators were active..  Which could be ensured if the FAA demanded operators take a modified pilot's license test instead of pandering to any and all drone consumers - so the manufacturers can make $$$, huge profits - on the sale of dangerous toys in the wrong hands..

The "lack of clarity" regarding precedents for drone law is also an issue, but I regard it more as a lack of courage. Mainly of the FAA to do its damned job and impose rigorous regulations of drones - like it also should have before certifying Boeing's woeful MAX 8.  Waiting  instead for two horrific crashes and nearly 300 dead to finally ground the jet.  Will it take a drone- aircraft collision before it also wakes up on that score?

See also:


Monday, June 24, 2019

A New Pollutant Category Appears ( PM_2,5) And Lowers Americans' Life Expectancy

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Map of age-adjusted incidence of stroke deaths due to air pollution in U.S. (From Eos: Space & Science News, p. 5, April, 2019)
The blaring WSJ headline ('Heart Disease Roars Back', p. A1, June 22-23)  noted how life expectancy is being adversely affected for middle age Americans, largely because of increased cardiac deaths.  This was traced to pervasive obesity and overweight, noting 40 percent of Americans over 20 are now obese (BMI > 30) and another 32 percent overweight.

But another article  ('Stroke Deaths Rise, Life Expectancy Falls With Polluted Air',  Eos: Space & Science News,)may be telling another less known side of the story.  That is that "people living im regions with a high level of fine-grained air pollutants have shorter life expectancies and increased incidence of stroke."

Among the prime culprits which hasn't received a lot of media attention is a category of fine -scale particulates denoted PM  2,  5   - a main cause of hazy or smog-filled air..  According to the Eos paper, researcher Longjian Liu - an associate professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at Drexel University - found that 51 percent of the counties surveyed (see map)  had annual average PM  2,  5  levels that exceeded the EPA's air quality standard limit (12 micrograms per cubic meter).  The graphic below gives an idea about the scale of these particles:
PM graphic showing size compared to hair and grain of sand

And the genesis of these particles?

"Fine particles (PM2.5) are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller, and can only be seen with an electron microscope. Fine particles are produced from all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, forest fires, agricultural burning, and some industrial processes"

Liu's team gathered county data on reported stroke occurrence, overall life expectancy, poverty rate, rural population percentage as well as the number of primary care physicians per 1,000 residents from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  When the researchers compared  PM  2,  5   levels with health and demographic data they found that higher annual levels  of PM  2,  5   were significantly correlated with both stroke mortality rate and life expectancy in men and women.

In other words, those populations that breathe polluted air experience higher rates of death from stroke and have shorter life expectancies. Interestingly, the devastating effects of poor air quaity hit hardest in counties with a higher percentage of people living below the poverty line - and with fewer physicians per capita.

When the team mapped out which regions experienced the strongest effects, it found those living in southern states had the highest rates of stroke deaths and the lowest life expectancies due to  high  PM  2,  5  levels, followed by those living in the midwest.

Following on the heels of the Liu team findings in Eos, The Denver Post highlighted the broader picture of how air quality is eroding  (again through an increase in PM  2,  5) throughout the nation ('Air Quality Slipping In The U.S.', June 20, p. 21 A), noting:

"Over the last two years, the nation had more polluted air days than just a few years earlier, federal data shows....There were 15 percent more days with unhealthy air in America both last year and the year before than there were on average from 2013 through 2016, when the fewest number of days were recorded since 1980."

In other words, since the advent of the Trump infestation and its attendant swamp creatures, i.e. in the EPA, air pollution has significantly increased, as health has deteriorated. Also no surprise that the Liar-in Chief claimed the opposite, as the article goes on to note. When Trump - in the UK earlier this month bragged: "We have the cleanest air in the world in the United States and it's gotten better since I'm president."

Well, yeah, and if you believe that you will also believe Trump is the greatest president since George Washington, as opposed to the most derelict maggot ever to foul the White House.  Not to mention who lies like he breathes.  And we can thank the contributors to the Post's AP article for skewering his malarkey (ibid.):

"There were noticeably more polluted air days each year in Trump's first two years in office than any of the four years before "


"Five hundred and thirty -two American metro areas reported a total of 4, 134 days in 2018 when the official air quality index passed 100, which means it became unhealthy for people with heart and lung disease, the elderly and the very young.....the worst of the bad air days jumped even more. On average in 2017 and 2018 there were nearly 140 times when a city's air pollution reached the worst two categories: 'very unhealthy' and 'hazardous'"

So Trump's occupation of the seat of power has not only poisoned our mental health but our physical health as well.

The aggregate fouling of our atmosphere  - thanks to the Trumpkins lowering standards and regulations - has spawned a blight not seen for decades. Not only novel pollutants like  PM  2,  5   but  SO 2  and mercury from coal -fired plants - and more to come after Trump's EPA rolling back rules governing emissions (e.g. ('EPA Rescinds Obama Power Plant Rules', WSJ, June 20, p. A4).   

EPA inspections alone have plunged from 21, 300 per yr. at the height of  Obama's tenure, to only 10, 600 last year- owing to staffing cuts. (WSJ, 'Trump Pulls Back Rules Enforcement', p. A4, today).  As one soon-to-be downsized EPA scientist (Felicia Clarke) was quoted in the piece: "We're giving a green light to bad actors."

 For those seriously considering putting Trump back into office again for 4 more years, think of whether your lung - or heart - will be able to tolerate this imp's deregulation, even if you want no part of "socialism". And what about your kids' lungs, and health?  Is it really worth a marginal 401(k) gain to enable the Trump retinue of rats to have a 4-yr. replay?

The tally of our poisoned air says 'no' even as our poisoned minds may no longer be able to discern the full spectrum of Trump's toxins.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Selected Questions-Answers On All Experts Astronomy Forum (The Summer Solstice - Why The Longest Day?)

Given today marks the summer solstice, or the longest day of the year, I decided one of the older All Experts questions would be apropos:

Question:  Can you explain for me why the summer solstice is the longest day of the year? In other words, what exactly makes it so?  - Brian, Miami, FL.

Answer:  A glance at the diagram below showing the Earth's axial tilt at different times in its orbit should make things clear.

No photo description available.

Note first,  point A in the diagram (far left) , we have the commencement of summer in the northern hemisphere (summer solstice) because the Earth's axis is tilted toward the Sun hence the N. hemisphere receives more direct sunlight, radiation. Also at point A, there is the longest day.  This date is given the name "summer solstice". 

What makes it so?  Examining the diagram carefully you can see the greatest fraction of sunlit surface appears at this date.  (Adjacent dates, i.e. June 20, and June 22, approach this but don't equal the same large fraction.).  This is given the Earth's axis is now fully tilted (at 23.5 degrees) toward the Sun.  This greatest fraction of sunlight translates into the greatest duration of daylight for the date. Hence the longest day.  

Prior to the summer solstice and extending all the way from the date of the winter solstice (on or about Dec. 21st, at extreme right) the days are continually increasing in length as the fraction of sunlit surface continually increases. Note also at each of the equinoxes (March 21st - Spring or Vernal ;  Sept. 23rd- Autumnal) the lengths of the day are the same, at 12 hrs.   Hence the term "equinox" or "equal night". 

 In summary then, the tilt of the Earth modulates the extent or the amount of sunlight-radiation (including heat) a hemisphere receives at a particular time, or over a given interval. Onset of winter and summer are defined respectively by the extreme axial tilts of  either "fully away" from the Sun, and "fully toward", while Fall, Spring are defined by neutral tilts - i.e.  neither away nor directly toward.

Finally, it is important to point out that the "Longest day" on June 21st applies to the northern hemisphere only. For the southern hemisphere it is the shortest day while our winter solstice is the longest.  Again,  this can be grasped by examining the diagram and noting while the proportion of sunlit surface is large for us (in the N. Hemisphere) it is receding for the south.  The converse is true when one  looks to the image for Earth on the opposite side (Dec 21).

Solutions To Theoretical Mechanics Problems (2)

The Problems Again:

1)  Prove the relations below:

i) dA/dt =  h/ 2

ii) P  =   2 p  ab h -1

And show:   P  =   2 p Ö (a 3 ) /  Öm

Where:   m  =  G (m1 + m2)

2) Because of the Earth’s rotation a plumb bob does not hang precisely in the direction of Earth’s gravitational attraction, i.e. in the direction of its weight mg.  Given the radius of the Earth = 6.4  x 10 6 m  and your latitude is 45 degrees, find the angle by which the bob deviates from the direction of g. (Hint: Sketch a diagram with forces, angle shown to assist in solution.)
3) An asteroid moves in an elliptic orbit around the Sun. The lengths of the major and minor axes are 2a and 2b, respectively. If the asteroid’s velocity at the point of closest approach (where it crosses the major axis) is   v o   then how much time is needed for the object to make one complete orbit?  (Hint:  Take the area of an ellipse to be:   p ab  )


1)   (i) We know:   h  =  L/ m  =  r 2   dq  /dt  

Working from 1st principles using the diagram below:

No photo description available.

We have:

D =    ½  [r   x (r +  r )] =   r^  x   Dr  

Now, the areal velocity at P  is by definition:

lim Dt ®0  (D A /D t)  

Then :  dA/ dt =  ½   r   x  r'  =     ½  (  2   dq  /dt   )

Or   dA/dt =  h/ 2

(ii)  A  =   ½  h (t   -  t 0)

But if  (t   -  t 0)  = P   then, for an ellipse A =  p  ab

And:  p  ab   =   ½  h (P)   Or:   P =  2 p  ab  / h

Now Rem:  h =    [m a(1 - e2)]½

And write:

P =  2 p  ab  / h  =    2 p  ab/ [m a(1 - e2)]½

Subst. for  e:  = (a2 - b2)½ / a 

Cranking out the algebra (details left to readers), we find:

P  =   2 p Ö (a ) /  Öm

(2)  For clarity we use the following three diagrams to show the situation, first from a 'global' view then focusing on the forces, angle to be found.  

First the global view with latitude circle and latitude angle (phi) shown:
No photo description available.

Second, the deviation of the bob owing to Earth's rotation with g forces shown:
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Last, the angle we need to obtain, i.e. between true vertical and the deviated one from rotation, 
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This angle which I label s   and can be found using the law of cosines.  We obtain:

sin ( s ) /  (  w 2  R cos ϕ)  =  sin  ( ϕ  ) /  g'

(But   g'     g   given   sin s      s )

Then:     s    = ( w 2 R )  [sin ϕ cos ϕ  ]  /  g   

= ( w 2 R )  [sin (p / 4)  cos (p / 4 ) /  9.8  N/ kg

And substitute in:   

w  = 7.3 x  x 10 -5 rad/ sec ;   R   =  6.4  x 10 6 m

sin (p / 4)  =   cos (p / 4 ) =  Ö2/  2

To get:  s    =  0.002 rad   or:  (002 rad) (57.3 deg/rad) =  0.11 deg

(3)   From:  dA/dt =  h/ 2 ;    We get:

  d A/ dt     =   ½    dq /  dt   

ò  d A    =   ½  2  ò    dq  (dt) / dt

ò  d A       = ½  2  ò  2p  o    dq

A  =   p ab   =   ½  2  ò  2p  o    dq

But:    ò  2p  o    dq   =   p   radians  so that:

p ab   =   ½   (p )   2

  Subst.  r =  v o / w     so:

ab   =     v o / w  2

But:  w    = p  /  T

So:  ab =  v o 2  T 2   /  (p) 2

  T 2    =   (p) 2  ab /   v o 2

T     =     p  Ö (ab)  /   v o