Open Thread Feb. 2: Apocalypse Any Time Now

Filed in National, Open Thread, Science and Health by on February 2, 2018

The Nunes memo has been released. It tries to make a big deal out of the fact that the government was spying on Russian agent Carter Page. I just wonder, when the end comes, as it does for all cults eventually, what flavor Kool-Aid will they use?

A big football game is being played Sunday — a really big one, so big it will probably be the highest-rated TV show of the year — so the non-sporting media has lots of football-related, if not game-related, stories to tell.

While the Super Bowl — there, I said it, come get me, NFL — remains the best-watched show of the year, ratings are still down, because all TV ratings are down in our video-on-demand age. The medical and political issues surrounding the game just contribute to the decline, or, as The Atlantic puts it, the league has “a television problem and a football problem.”

The medical part of that football problem isn’t going away, as the New York Times reminds us by printing this first-person account by the wife of a former player in his 40s who almost certainly is suffering from CTE (they can only say for certain once he’s dead).

If you were wondering why so many of our fellow Americans are so screwed up on matters of race, wonder no more. It’s what we teach them, or fail to. The Southern Poverty Law Center found that only 8 percent of high school seniors identified slavery as the cause of the Civil War.

Here’s Why We Science: It’s long been thought that automobiles caused the vast majority of California’s smog problem, which is why the state has such stringent emissions standards. Researchers knew that nitrogen from ground sources, mostly fertilizer, also contributed, but they thought it added about 5% of the total. Oops. By widening their sampling area, they now think excess fertilizer on crops is the source of up to 40% of the nitrogen oxides in the air. I think this is why carpenters say “measure twice.”

Archaeology, or more accurately the laser-mapping tool LiDAR, is the enemy of white supremacy. National Geographic has some stunning maps and graphics of vast Mayan cities lying under the thick jungle canopy of Guatemala. It turns out the small bits of temples and plazas seen by tourists weren’t islands in the jungle, they were the center of sprawling population centers. It now appears the civilization was home to 10 to 15 million people, double or triple what we once thought.

Oh, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cold out there today.

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  1. Arthur says:

    RE: the smog in california, it seems like the car pollution answer was formulated to match the requested hypothesis – “emissions are the major problem, right? right?”

    lost civilizations – read lost city of the monkey god.

  2. Alby says:

    @arthur: If you read the link — that’s why they’re there — you’ll learn that the problem was the locations where the samples were taken. Never ascribe bad motives to what stupidity can explain.

    NatGeo article is considerably shorter than the Preston book, but yes, same technology used in the same way. Different locale.

  3. jason330 says:

    Winter, slumbering in the open air, wears on its smiling face a dream… of spring. Ciao.

  4. SussexWatcher says:

    TNJ has the Senate challenger’s name – Kerri Evelyn Harris of Dover.

  5. Alby says:

    @SW: Was that your hunch?

  6. SussexWatcher says:

    Yes, it was.

    Her positions are garden-variety progressive, which is good, but I’m frankly skeptical about the tactics she’s chosen so far. The whole mystery candidate thing lasted all of two weeks; instead of building buzz as I imagine they’d hoped, it built suspicion.

    I have my doubts about the team she’s put together and whether it can reach the right people and get them to come out in September. Trash talk, proletariat rhetoric and playing coy won’t take you very far.

    It’s got to become a more professional operation, and quickly, to be more than another KSpan. And I don’t mean professional in terms of hiring people, but just taking a campaign seriously. I’m not seeing that so far.

  7. RE Vanella says:

    I take the ‘proletariat rhetoric’ bit as a personal compliment. It’s was very nice. Thank you.

  8. Woodt says:

    I think if we are ever going to start winning again we are going to have to be honest. Alby, Russian agent Carter Page. I can’t tell if you are just trolling here, or if you really believe that. Either way, the shortest route to victory in November is the honest route.

  9. Alby says:

    @Woody: Not sure what you mean. Obviously it’s a joke, but I’m not going to be surprised if he’s convicted of something involving his ties to Russia, whatever they prove to be. Suspicion of such is why they’ve been spying on him since 2104, so it’s not as if it’s far-fetched.

    Read up on the guy. There’s a better-than-slim chance he’s a complete whack job, but he claims to be a one-man oil company and consultant and an expert on central Asian energy. There’s no evidence he has ever struck a deal for an actual project. I’m sure there are completely innocent explanations for all that, and for why he’s pro-Putin and anti-American when he’s presented on Russian TV as a “famous American economist.” I just can’t think of what they might be.