Monday, August 31, 2020

Some Heads Ups For Those Planning To Use Barbados' "Welcome Stamp" Program For Virtual Work

One of our favorite beach areas in Barbados,  which many U.S. virtual workers are bound to discover if they partake of Bim's "Welcome stamp" program.

Along with a Colorado friend of ours, I dig into fresh, grilled fish (dolphin -no not "Flipper"!) served with macaroni pie at the Oistins Fish Market, in May, 2010.  This place still has some of the best dining deals in the island, at about $10 U.S. /person for a fresh -cooked fish platter, and macaroni.

Are you or your friends considering going to a foreign location to do remote work?  According to the WSJ (Aug. 29-30) "an estimated 30% of the global workforce will work remotely in coming months".  Thousands alone will be heading for Barbados, West Indies, where the new 'Barbados Welcome Stamp' program has been implemented.  

This Barbados program, one of dozens rolled out by as many nations in recent weeks, was formally announced in July by Prime Minister Mia Mottley. It will allow any foreigners- including Americans - to live and work in Bim tax free for one year. It is specifically geared to employees working remotely, and who will be free to base themselves in Barbados for that time.

Alas, the Welcome Stamp program isn't cheap: it costs $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for families.  The payoff is you get to live in a beautiful place, with fantastic beaches and crystal clear water.  The program also allows for unlimited exit and re-entry during the year as well as free public school access for visa holders' children under the age of 12.

According to Busi Skeete, U.S. director of Barbados Tourism (quoted in the WSJ, ibid.) it was designed to stimulate the economy on the island, where tourism represents 14 percent of the GDP.

But there are some things to know, to be aware of, before pulling up stakes and leaving for this island nation where I spent 20 years.  Below I go through the main things the media or pamphlets may not divulge.

1. Living in Barbados is not cheap.  Just like in the States there is enormous real estate pressure and homes can cost dearly.  I understand from conversations with friends still there that homes in the neighborhood where ours was (off Chelsea Road, a designated UN World Heritage site) are now going for a half million U.S.   Of course, it is possible to rent a place and that is surely the best bet for a foreigner - say under a year's lease.  My brother-in -law is currently renting a bungalow not far from the sea in the same area for U.S.  $1,200 a month.  

2.  Get ready for high food costs, and at every supermarket you find.  This was from a Barbados Forum post 8 years ago:

"Food is VERY expensive. 2.7 times the cost for American brands is probably about right, if not modest. Some US food items are 5 times the US price (i.e., ice cream, snack foods, etc.) Local (Caribbean) brands are a bit cheaper. Bajans do not eat a lot of American junk food items b/c they are so very expensive. However, even the basic (egg, bread, cheese, butter, milk, etc) are very expensive. "

When we went in April of 2016, we found price differences from our U.S. purchases a bit higher than that. We had written in our journal that two days after arriving from Colorado "we had to get to the supermarket where we bought a dozen eggs, a half gallon of Almond milk,  a package of chicken hot dogs, catsup,  Alpen cereal, 3 oranges,  6-pack Banks beer, one loaf of bread, one pound cheese" for a total of BDS $160.    Since 1 U.S. dollar =  $2 BDS, that translated to an $80 USD tab.  And that was for just two adults.  Imagine what the bill would have been for a family of 4, or 5.     Our most expensive item on the list? The Alpen cereal at $15.50 BDS a box.

Other items, necessities are also higher in price, and again why the cost of living is estimated to be 12-13 % higher than even in U.S. cities like New York.    Regular gasoline, ditto. When we were there in 2016 it varied from $14 to $16  BDS  a gallon. (Fortunately,  since we have checking accounts in Bim, we could use the money there as opposed to charging U.S. credit cards or raiding our U.S. bank accounts).

 3.  "Free public school access"  for  visa holders' children may not mean what it does in the U.S.  For students under 12 it would mean attending a government primary school.   The only alternative is an independent private primary school like St. Gabriel's - for which the following fee information was provided in 2019:

"A capital contribution, which is non-refundable is due for entry into the school is as follows
A) One note payment of $1800.00 bds for the first child (from September 2019).

B) A payment of $900.00 bds for each additional sibling entering St. Gabriel’s (from September 2019). This is valid within one year after the first child has left the School.
A DEPOSIT of one Term’s Fees of $3350.00 (from September 2019) is required for Non-National children. This is refundable when he / she leaves the school, provided that one Term’s notice is given in writing in advance. "

For older children, Ex-pats, non-nationals generally choose one or other of the following private schools:  1) Ursuline Convent, or 2) Presentation College.  The elite secondary schools only allow admission based on selection, which is usually done with the Common Entrance exam given to all primary school students.  

4- If you're planning to drive in Bim you  need to learn how to do so on the left side of the road, as the Brits do.  Also, be aware that traffic jams in Barbados have now reached almost legendary and surreal status, e.g.


Saturday, August 29, 2020

Trump Bets On 'Law & Order' And Swing Voters To Grab Another 4 Years? Beyond Unthinkable

"The president and his campaign are trying to project the sense of unease and violence taking place under his reign onto a hypothetical Biden administration—including by using footage of protests not in the U.S., but in Barcelona.   Is this the sign of a failing campaign deeply behind in the polls, responsible for an unprecedentedly disastrous response to a pandemic and a tone-deaf answer to protests against police violence? Yes, certainly. But there’s also a deeper subtext: Trump is implicitly promising a no-holds-barred authoritarianism if he wins a second term."   David Atkins, 'Trump's Message Isn't Confused. He's Promising A Dictatorship',

"The Republican party claims to be a party of law and order. But respect for law and order does not consist of what you can get away with.  The GOP's cynically illegal acts offend our core principles of democracy." -  Letter writer in Denver Post

Amidst the holocaust of erosion in national honor, unity, truth and decency that has been the Trump criminal cabal, it is unthinkable they could snare another 4 years based on "law and order".    And yet a WSJ article from today (p. A4) poses that as a potential reality, e.g.


"With Mr. Trump trailing the former vice president in national polls, and by a smaller margin in many battleground states, his team is banking that the chaotic images from places such as Kenosha, Wis., and Portland, Ore., won’t just rally their base, but sway undecided voters and suburban voters who had been moving away from Mr. Trump. “The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order,” Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News this week."

Law  and order?  Trump?  This is a guy who's paid hush money to porn stars, used his office to get dirt on political opponents (using other nations like the Ukraine) and openly conspired with the Russkies to toss the 2016 election his way, as a recently released Senate intel report confirms.  This is a dirtbag surpassing all historical dirtbags in degeneracy as well as pathology.  Well, okay, maybe with the exception of Adolf Hitler!

Even given that up to 60 percent of swing voters are known as "low information"  (i.e. get most of their news from Facebook or other social media) it is incomprehensible they would bite on the above Kellyanne Conway dreck and vote the most lawless white trash in U.S.  history back into office for another chaotic, hideous and LAWLESS term. 

A Biden presidency would usher in "more chaos, anarchy and vandalism"? Hello!  That is happening NOW under Trump!  Hence, as Chris Hayes put it on 'All In' Friday night, "the greatest  political Jedi mind trick ever would be to get enough people to believe the chaos we now see under Trump is somehow connected to Biden - or will be."   

To quote Janice: "It would take an especially low I.Q. to believe that!"  Yeah, but no one ever lost money - as H.L. Mencken once wrote - by underestimating the intellect of the American voter.   That includes believing that the social unrest widespread now is somehow the Democrats' fault when pro-Nazi and KKK  prez Trump has fanned the flames of bigotry to the point of encouraging right wing vigilantes to show up at peaceful protests and incite violence - by displaying long guns and even firing them. 

Are undecided voters truly dumb enough to put this infernal maggot back into office when they have to know deep down he will only make things worse? Especially the U.S. response to the pandemic - which I already predicted will see more fatalities than the Civil War deaths (675,000) if Trump gets in again. DO the 'swing' voters really want that, as well as the unending chaos, rage tweeting and FOX TV -watching that marks Trump's existing presidency, far less another term?   Can they really abide another ten million jobs lost and a total cratering of the economy into a Depression because Trump and his cabal still haven't dealt with the pandemic?

Clueless Peggy Noonan, vying for the journalist 'weasel of the year' award, scribbled in her latest WSJ column re: the RNC - (Aug. 29-30, p. A13):

"The Republicans confronted what the Democrats at their convention glossed over: rising crime, looting and rioting in city protests."

Conveniently omitting the vicious right wing elements who've descended on the peaceful 1st amendment protected protests, in order to wreak havoc,violence and even deaths - using the peaceful protests as shields.  The Denver Post drew attention to this in a piece (Aug. 28, p. 5A) noting how in the very minutes after the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, right wing sites were summoning  "militias" to  travel to Kenosha  - and use the ruse of "protecting businesses" to arm themselves and shoot protesters.   Well, Kyle Rittenhouse, a self -professed pro-Trump punk heeded the call to arms, traveled to Kenosha from his home in Illinois, and blew away two protesters (one of whom was attempting to stop him after he'd already fired off a few rounds). 

This deranged right wing imp actually paraded along an avenue in Kenosha with his long gun in the open with nary a cop trying to stop him - and certainly not firing seven rounds into his back like they did with Blake.  

Clearly demonstrating one set of laws for white punk right wingers, another for black men instantly marked as public enemy No.1 for allegedly holding a knife.  How many other KKK'ers, Aryan Nation creeps, Proud Boys, Boogie Bois et al were in Kenosha that night, we have no way of knowing. More than likely, as Janice opined, the others went into hiding or left after the Illinois terrorist (Rittenhouse) fired off his rounds killing two.  But does Peggy Noonan factor in any of this? Hell no.

She also has the nerve to write (ibid):

"Republicans hit on the one shared fear shared equally now by the rich, the poor and the middle: that when you call 911 you have to go to voicemail."

Again displaying a cluelessness unbecoming of a journalist.   If she'd done even limited research she might have been able to trace that defect to the lack of funding for public - state and local- emergency and other services.  That was earmarked in the HEROES act, but Mitch McConnell has sat on it, refusing to let it pass.  The lack of action has caused state and local economies - subject to Covid lockdowns - to crater leaving precious little in the 'pot'.  Yet Noonan mentions none of this.  However, I do give her props for at least writing:

"This country is full of law -abiding people of all colors who are appalled by Donald Trump.  It is political malpractice to push them toward him."

Indeed it is.   So that means when writing your op-ed columns to deliver the details of the truth, not the "post truth" Trumpie version of events!

As I wrote in a previous post, "no good thing can really be said of our nation until and unless the Trump interregnum is totally canceled, extirpated." Why is this? It's because Trump and his cabal have turned the state into a criminal enterprise and which promises to metastasize if he's given a 2nd term, out of voter ignorance, laziness (not voting) or indifference.     A core problem also, which resides mainly in the media, is that for decades Western legal thought had viewed the state as the ultimate guarantor of safety.   This is why Obama and other Dem critics of Trump have echoed the same refrain, "A president has one job to do, to protect the American people".  Well, not just the president but the whole infrastructure with which he governs (including agencies like DOJ, FDA, FBI, CIA, etc.)  as well as congress.   

 The problem is that the U.S.  media, as well as many legal theorists (and even some historians),  have problems when a developed state - like the U.S. - itself turns into a criminal entity.   This is beyond their imagination despite the fact it already happened when - under Adolf Hitler- the German state  became the agent of criminality as well as the principal perpetrator of crimes, e.g. the slaughter of 6 million Jews and many others.   Most distressing to read was the opening paragraph of a recent review on the book, 'Hitler- Downfall: 1939-1945', in The Denver Post, e.g.

"The impulsiveness and grandiosity, the bullying and vulgarity, were obvious from the beginning.  If anything, they accounted for Adolf Hitler's anti-establishment appeal for Germany's unpopular conservative elites.  Hitler's energy and theatrics made him an enticing partner when they appointed him Chancellor in 1933.  But anyone who thought Hitler and the Nazis would rise to the occasion were summarily purged from the system as an utter impossibility became indomitable reality: The Weimar Republic had become the Third Reich.

It would take another world war, a genocide and millions of dead before the dictatorship finally collapsed in 1945, a full 12 years after Hitler was invited into power.""

A kind of repeat of history is on the verge of happening again with Trump. if U.S. citizens become too besotted by fear to think clearly, or believe this criminal tyrant in waiting really has their interests - and safety - at heart.   Fortunately, the distinction is we have the chance for a do-over of the horrific mistake that brought Trump to power in 2016.  The Germans didn't once Hitler was appointed Chancellor.  But we cannot afford to fuck this up, not again!

 The fact of over 180,000 dead from the pandemic ought to convince any thinking - hell sentient person-  that Trump is not their friend.  Or their protector. He is their Alpha predator merely waiting for the chance to rip their throats out.

See also:
by David Atkins | August 30, 2020 - 6:30am | permalink



Friday, August 28, 2020

Why The MHD Regime Is Preferred In Doing Solar Physics

Most solar physicists work in what's called the "MHD" or magneto-hydrodynamic regime, which numerous plasma physicists have criticized as "taking a short cut". For example, treatments based on the analysis of the indigenous magnetic fields currently occupy a predominant role in analysis of energy stored in sunspot regions. The majority of these are based on MHD  theory wherein low frequency, long scale length and quasi-neutral (electric charge) assumptions are introduced into the plasma physics. Such assumptions lead to a basic set of what we call "MHD" equations, which include:

a)( r  / t)  +  Ñ (r v) = 0

b) r (  V / t)  +    r v Ñ ( v) =   -  Ñ p  + 1/c  J X B

c)  E + v X B = 0

More fundamentally, the MHD regime is really an approximation of the one-fluid and two-fluid cases, with many added simplifying assumptions – and these "take a toll"  in ignoring the kinetics and micro-physics.  In truth, MHD does represent the end product of successive information loss in the transition from Vlasov theory to two-fluid theory to one-fluid theory and thence MHD.   But the benefit of using it is self-evident in many flare models, for example, so that one is no longer hampered by being unable to "see the forest for the trees". 

One starts with the Vlasov-Boltzmann equation:

f/ t + v Ñ z f + (F/ m ) Ñ v f = ( f/ t)c

Whereby the lowest moment, for example, is obtained by integrating the preceding equation with F as the Lorentz force:

ò ( f/ t)  dv    + ò  v Ñ z f dv  + (q/ m ) ò (E + v X B) f/ v  =  ò ( f/ t)c   dv

The 2nd moment is obtained by multiplying the original eqn. (Boltzmann) by mv then integrating it over dv.

The progression from using this procedure is that one gets in succession:

Two -fluid theory (e.g. ions and electrons treated as separate fluids), i.e. in fluid eqns.:

1) ( r a  / t)  +  Ñ (r a v a) = 0

where the index  a = e, i.

for electrons, ions.   

2)  r a (  V o /  t)  +    r v a · Ñ ( v a) =   -  Ñ p a +  e a n a  (E + v a x B)

3)  p o  r g    =  const.

Plus the relevant form for Maxwell's equations.

More technically as Dwight R.Nicholson notes (Plasma Theory, p. 129) one takes "velocity moments of the Vlasov equation in seven dimensional (x, v, t) space."  From these (ibid.): "an infinite hierarchy of equations in 4-dimensional (x, t) space can be derived."   And: "when an appropriate truncation of this infinite hierarchy is carried out, the standard two fluid theory of plasma physics is obtained."    Thus we can proceed to treat:

 f (x, v, t)  +   v · Ñ  f o  +   (q/ m) (E + v/ c  x BÑ · f o   = 0

With the normalization: o  (x, t) =  ò  df o  (x, v, t)   from which the 2 fluid velocity equations are obtained.  But given these we go direct to....
One fluid theory (introducing low frequency, long wave length and quasi -neutral approximations, e.g.   n e=    n i

  ( r  / t)  +  Ñ (r v) = 0

where no separate  index for  e, i, is needed.  Then, more quickly to...
MHD Theory

(This proceeds from 1-fluid theory with a few further assumptions, simplifications)

Apart from this, the most conspicuous agent of solar plasma containment and topological change is the coronal loop –

 Which is fully consistent with a low beta-plasma regime- since otherwise gas kinetic pressure would predominate and the configuration would be ‘open’.  Note: 

beta = (½  r  v 2)/   B 2/2 m 0 

where  r is the fluid density, v the fluid velocity, B the magnetic induction and m  the magnetic permeability of free space.) 

With this little exercise, we see that the solar physicist is more than amply justified in employing the MHD approach.   This is directly connected to the gas kinetic pressure (½  r  v 2 being much less than the magnetic pressure  ( B 2/2 m 0 ), so the density of plasma particles  (e. ,  i ) is much less  - reducing the need to overemphasize the micro physics especially as the Vlasov collision term  ( f/  t)c  -> 0. Indeed, for most applications, i.e.  for assessing magnetic fields in  sunspot regions, two fluid theory would be far too complicated while achieving little additional insight.

Decoding Alien Atmospheres & The Role Of Machine Learning

Illustration of a blue planet with a network of data connections and computer code in its atmosphere

Is it really feasible that ten years from now,  data for the atmospheric physics  of other worlds will be available by the terabyte?   I am writing  about the spectra of alien atmospheres coming in by the hundreds of worlds, with the data of a higher quality than currently possible.   The answer is evidently  'yes' according to a recent report in EOS: Space Science Journal, p.7. 

The gist of it is fairly simple:An upcoming study in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society documented a machine learning algorithm against the current gold standard process for decoding exoplanet atmospheres, i.e.  to see whether the algorithm could tackle this future big-data problem.

The current front-runner for best deciphering a planet’s atmospheric spectrum is called atmospheric retrieval. It uses statistical inference to calculate the likelihood that given an observed spectrum, an exoplanet’s atmosphere will possess a certain composition, temperature, level of cloud cover, and heat flow.   In the latter one would want to look at, for example, Rayleigh scattering in concert with radiative transport in standard gray atmosphere models, e,g.  looking at the applicable equation for radiative transport:

 -dI/dt (1/k r ) = I – J

Where k is a mass scattering coefficient, r  is the molecular density (e.g. in cloud cover) and J is the vector source function for a specific intensity I.

The technique has so far proven very reliable but can be computationally expensive.  (No wonder  considering what is demanded of it!)

The algorithm compares each artificial spectrum with the real one and chooses the closest match. This is a new and modified application of the random forest algorithm for exoplanetary atmospheres that was originally developed by astronomers at the University of Bern in Switzerland.

As exoplanet atmosphere research moves into the big-data era, machine learning will become an increasingly important research tool scientists should be trained to use, according to Nikku Madhusudhan.. Some graduate programs are already integrating more data science learning into students’ training. (Co-author Matthew Nixon also has doctorate work supported by one such program in the United Kingdom.)

This study adds to a growing effort by exoplanet scientists to find an efficient and more effective way to handle the upcoming deluge of atmospheric data.  In the words of Daniel Angerhausen, an astrophysicist at ETH Zürich in Switzerland who was not involved with this research:

 “It is great to see a growing group in the community using machine learning methods and cross-checking each other’s results and claims,”

Missions like JWST and ARIEL are first at bat, but Angerhausen is also thinking about missions that will come after those. Astronomers will need to strategize the most efficient ways to observe interesting targets. As   Angerhausen  added:

This problem is predestined for a [machine learning] approach.  A random forest approach is just the “tip of the iceberg” for algorithms to try."

On the other hand,” Madhusudhan added, “it also needs to be recognized that while machine learning is a great research tool in various areas, there are also important areas of research where other numerical, statistical, and analytic approaches are more suitable for some important problems. Therefore, I believe the right balance needs to be met while integrating machine learning into graduate programs in the right research areas.

In the words of Ingo Waldmann - an astrophysicist at University College London:

"Perhaps unsurprisingly, the more detailed the model, the longer it takes to compute its results. Today we are rapidly reaching a stage where our traditional techniques become too slow to compute these increasingly complex models."


Machine learning may never replace an atmospheric expert,  but I’m certain that artificial intelligence will certainly play a role as a helping hand.”

Given human inputs will be inadequate to the task of recovering terabytes of data on extraterrestrial planetary atmospheres, this observation  can be said to be spot on.   What will be needed is the actual implementation of A.I. and its passing a number of major tests for analyzing exoplanet atmospheres.

See Also:


And this lecture on exoplanet atmospheres::