Thursday, December 22, 2016

Bayside Christmas Adventure Drive-Thru - 2016

Carolyn wanted to see this, so I went along:
Join us for our first ever drive-thru light show that is sure to delight the entire family. Enjoy over one mile of Christmas light displays and tasty holiday drinks at the Bayside Café.

Carolyn's Birthday

The Influence Peddlers From Hell

The Trump family's influence-peddling is on a scale that dwarfs anything the Clintons thought up. Remember the Lincoln Bedroom kerfuffle of the late 90s? Good times! Trump is daring impeachment!:
How this compromises Trump is obvious. His company owns properties and businesses all over the United States as well as around the world. Gorod laid out a few of Trump’s possible conflicts that appear to violate Article II:

[I]t’s apparent that there may be no shortage of ways in which the new President may be violating the Domestic Emoluments Clause, even as the President-elect’s failure to disclose all of his financial holdings and interests makes it impossible to know the true extent of the problem.

Perhaps most significantly, with hotels and property developments all over the United States, it’s possible that Trump has been — and will continue to be — the beneficiary of tax breaks from any number of states. As [The New York] Times has reported, since 1980, Trump “has reaped at least $885 million in tax breaks, grants and other subsidies for luxury apartments, hotels and office buildings in New York.” And that’s just in New York. It’s not difficult to imagine that Trump could use the power of the presidency to “encourage” states and cities to offer similar tax breaks to his properties, or that states and cities could of their own will do so to try to curry favor with the Administration. Likewise, Trump plans to maintain a financial stake in the reality TV show “Celebrity Apprentice.” It’s quite possible that the show might be the recipient of tax incentives and breaks, and that Trump would be one of the people reaping the benefits.

It’s also not difficult to imagine Trump’s children winking and nodding at various parties to offer favors in exchange for favorable regulations or other benefits. Just this week it was revealed that Trump’s older sons were involved in selling access to the president for million-dollar donations to unnamed “conservation charities.” (That they would do this after their father and the Republican Party spent months ripping Hillary Clinton for taking the calls of donors to the Clinton Foundation redefines the word hypocrisy.)

Real problems to come:
In short, the Emoluments Clause covers just about any situation in which a public official profits in any way from a foreign state or such a state’s “agents and instrumentalities.” This broadness is by design: The authors argue that the entire point of the Emoluments Clause is for it to be read broadly (contra Tillman’s interpretation). The framers didn’t want there to be situations where the public or Congress would have to decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether a given instance in which the president or another powerful official profiting from a foreign entity was, in fact, bribery or favor-currying. That’s no way to run a government: As long as such questions exist, they corrode the system and sap public confidence in government.

Which brings us to Trump. The authors write that the sorts of concerns the Emoluments Clause is designed to head off “may be exacerbated in Mr. Trump’s case” because of how closely he has linked Donald Trump, president, to Donald Trump, magnate, during the campaign and his period as president-elect.

The Jet Stream At The Surface of Earth's Core

Very interesting:

Portion of caption: Figure 2: Northern polar view of the flow speed and direction at the CMB of the best-fitting high-latitude jet with M = 1 at epoch 2015. The line of 0° longitude is at the top of the figure and the tangent cylinder is marked as a thick white line. The large secular variation under Canada and Siberia can be explained by a cylindrical westwardly directed jet localized on t…

But now, scientists have used observations by the European Space Agency's Swarm satellites to identify another sort of jet stream, one that's made of molten metal instead of air and is located 1,865 miles beneath the Earth's surface, stretching from Siberia to Alaska.

The findings, contained in an article just published in the online edition of Nature Geoscience, depict a previously unknown geological feature that may yield secrets about the Earth's inner workings.

The jet stream inside the Earth is located along the border of two regions of the Earth's core, and it's about 261 miles in width. It moves about 25 miles in the course of a year. That's far slower than the hundreds of miles per hour at which the atmospheric jet streams travel, but three times faster than other parts of the outer core and hundreds of thousands of times faster than the Earth's tectonic plates. The interior jet stream gradually is accelerating, according to the scientists' findings.

"What's most surprising about the jet is that it's likely been in the core for many years and no-one has seen it before — not even with previous satellite missions," lead researcher Phil Livermore, an associate professor in the School of Earth and the Environment at the University of Leeds, said in an email. "The jet is likely to have been around in the core for some hundreds of millions of years, and we've only just glimpsed it through the technical-revolution of the Swarm mission."

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New Critters From The Mekong

Pretty cool!:
The new species included nine amphibians, 11 fish, 14 reptiles, 126 plant species and three mammals. According to the report, since 1997 scientists have cataloged 2,409 new species in the complex of jungles, tributaries, and wetlands around the Mekong, which winds through southeast Asia, passing through a range of countries including Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

“The Greater Mekong region keeps reminding us that there are many incredible, unexplored areas, leading to new discoveries happening every year and it is crucial that we protect them before they are lost,” Jimmy Borah, the WWF’s Wildlife Program Manager in the Mekong region, tells Amy Sawitta Lefevre at Reuters.

Just Another Unrealistic Body Expectation For Women

Took a Cab Home

Ground Hog Day in December

I return every year, like a swallow, to Arden Fair Mall.

Nice Rain Event Setting Up

Thursday through Saturday, for California and Arizona, and likely to affect Southern California more than Northern California.

Southbound, Northbound, What's The Difference?

Actually, it's a pretty big difference:
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident in which a passenger aircraft was given wrong directions by traffic controllers and guided toward the San Gabriel Mountains, where it flew just hundreds of feet higher than the peak of Mt. Wilson before turning around, according to publicly available flight data.

Bound for Taiwan, the EVA Air Boeing 777 took off to the east early Friday from Los Angeles International Airport’s south runway complex, according to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor. After takeoff, the air crew switched from the LAX control tower to the approach control operations in San Diego, which Gregor said was common practice.

“The air traffic controller at the approach control who was handling EVA instructed the pilot to make a left turn to a 180-degree heading,” he said. “She meant to tell the pilot to make a right turn to a 180-degree heading.”

...When the controller realized the mistake, she “took immediate action to keep EVA safely separated” from the second aircraft as well as ground terrain, Gregor said. She issued the EVA pilot a series of instructions to help him turn south.

...As the aircraft banks directly to the south of Mt. Wilson, it continues to gain altitude and appears to fly between 500 and 800 feet higher than the Mt. Wilson Observatory, which stands roughly 5,710 feet high, according to the website data. The aircraft’s lateral distance from the mountain peak appears to be between 500 and 600 meters.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bobcat Selfie

Bobcat selfie on the hills of San Francisco triggered by a motion cam.


I went to see "Jackie" at the Tower Theater. The movie is as dark as black midnight - it's more fun to watch World Trade Center 9/11 videos - but "Jackie" comes with a superb, Oscar-worthy performance by Natalie Portman. If she doesn't get Best Actress, she'll get damned close.

I was very surprised to see Sacramento's own Greta Gerwig playing Nancy Tuckerman. I'm happy Greta's stepping away from comedic roles into something more substantial:
In Larraín’s film, style is substance. His cinematographer, Stéphane Fontaine (“Elle”), mixes handheld camera — its subjects so close to the screen that it borders on uncomfortable — with lush tracking shots, such as during the lavish funeral procession. There’s one shot in particular that’s worth the price of admission, and you’ll know it when you see it: The first lady’s somber, searching face is viewed from inside the window of an armored car, juxtaposed with the reflection of mourners on the street. “Jackie” attains a beauty that’s often close to ecstasy.

That commitment to aesthetics is a fitting tribute to a woman — perhaps more than any other person of her era — who understood the power of the image. Throughout her husband’s presidency, the first lady was derided for the money she spent renovating the White House with antiques, which were meant to serve as a tribute to previous administrations. The press, uninterested in symbolism, charged her with wasting taxpayer dollars. Jackie is so fastidious and exacting when it comes to her persona that a reenactment of the famous 1962 tour of her Pennsylvania Avenue home is played for comic value. The first lady’s contrived voice, recalling Katherine Hepburn by way of Stepford, is a testament to the veneer of perfection Jackie worked so hard to maintain.

Celebrating With the Cast of Chautauqua Playhouse's "Funny Little Thing Called Love"

The Albuquerque School of Excellence

Traveling Albuquerque's streets vicariously using Google Earth, and feeling regret. If only I had attended here.

[UPDATE: Oddly, it appears to be a legit school - A Texas-linked, Turkish-American charter school]