No, I am not slowing down with age.
1. Tracy Trot 4 miler: 2013: 33:07. 2014: 32:59.
2. Turkey Trot 3 miler: 2013: 24:56. 2014: 24:53
3. River Run: (Certified course) 2011: 26:56. 2012: 25:03 2013: 24:56 2014: 24:42
4. Race for the Cure: 2012: 25:13. 2013: 25:48. 2014: 25:27
5. Run to Remember: 2012: 24:34. 2014: 24:17
6. Best 4 5K runs: 2011: 25:43. 2012: 25:01 2013: 25:04 2014: 24:56
So, by all but one metric (Race for the Cure), I am getting faster with age!
Is that absurd?
Of course it is; in 1998 I ran a few 5Ks under 20 minutes; from 1997 to 1999 I was typically under 21 and my last sub 21 was in 2001; last 7 minutes a mile pace or faster was 2002.
What the mild “local improvement” represents is my improving after knee surgery in 2010; in 2009 I was running mostly 24:00 to 24:20 or so.
Why I bring this up: you see similar absurdities in climate change denial.
The Affordable Care Act: detractors say that businesses are dropping insurance for some of their employees. Here is the OTHER side of that story:
Last week I wrote about Trader Joe’s decision to cut health insurance benefits for employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week. After that, one reader forwarded along a response received from Trader Joe’s after inquiring about the matter. It’s one of the more thorough explanations I’ve seen from a company cutting in benefits, so I’ve posted it here. It acknowledges, surprisingly bluntly, that some employees will be worse off for the decision and that others might benefit. Here is the full response:
Thank you for writing to us. It’s possible you have been misled, at least to some degree, by the headlines in some articles regarding our reasons for implementing the [Affordable Care Act] in January. We’d like to take this opportunity to clarify some facts.
For over 77% of our Crew Members there is absolutely no change to their healthcare coverage provided by Trader Joe’s.
The ACA brings a new potential player into the arena for the acquisition of health care. Stated quite simply, the law is centered on providing low cost options to people who do not make a lot of money. Somewhat by definition, the law provides those people a pretty good deal for insurance … a deal that can’t be matched by us — or any company. However, an individual employee (we call them Crew Member) is only able to receive the tax credit from the exchanges under the act if we do not offer them insurance under our company plan.
Perhaps an example will help. A Crew Member called in the other day and was quite unhappy that she was being dropped from our coverage unless she worked more hours. She is a single mom with one child who makes $18 per hour and works about 25 hours per week. We ran the numbers for her. She currently pays $166.50 per month for her coverage with Trader Joe’s. Because of the tax credits under the ACA she can go to an exchange and purchase insurance that is almost identical to our plan for $69.59 per month. Accordingly, by going to the exchange she will save $1,175 each year … and that is before counting the $500 we will give her in January.
While we understand her fear of change, at her income level this is a big benefit that we will help her achieve.
The Republicans are interested in cutting SNAP (food stamps) in the name of…freedom?
The right’s definition of freedom, however, isn’t one that, say, F.D.R. would recognize. In particular, the third of his famous Four Freedoms — freedom from want — seems to have been turned on its head. Conservatives seem, in particular, to believe that freedom’s just another word for not enough to eat.
Hence the war on food stamps, which House Republicans have just voted to cut sharply even while voting to increase farm subsidies.
In a way, you can see why the food stamp program — or, to use its proper name, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) — has become a target. Conservatives are deeply committed to the view that the size of government has exploded under President Obama but face the awkward fact that public employment is down sharply, while overall spending has been falling fast as a share of G.D.P. SNAP, however, really has grown a lot, with enrollment rising from 26 million Americans in 2007 to almost 48 million now.
Conservatives look at this and see what, to their great disappointment, they can’t find elsewhere in the data: runaway, explosive growth in a government program. The rest of us, however, see a safety-net program doing exactly what it’s supposed to do: help more people in a time of widespread economic distress.
The recent growth of SNAP has indeed been unusual, but then so have the times, in the worst possible way. The Great Recession of 2007-9 was the worst slump since the Great Depression, and the recovery that followed has been very weak. Multiple careful economic studies have shown that the economic downturn explains the great bulk of the increase in food stamp use. And while the economic news has been generally bad, one piece of good news is that food stamps have at least mitigated the hardship, keeping millions of Americans out of poverty.
Nor is that the program’s only benefit. The evidence is now overwhelming that spending cuts in a depressed economy deepen the slump, yet government spending has been falling anyway. SNAP, however, is one program that has been expanding, and as such it has indirectly helped save hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Not only does this program provide “upward” stimulus to the economy (from the economic bottom), it also helps future generations become more successful and productive.
Cutting SNAP: penny wise but pound foolish.
Yes, sea ice area IS up this year over last year, but that was because last year was so bad. The general direction is still downward.
Camouflaged birds: hat tip to Jerry Coyne:
This bird looks like a piece of rotted tree, when it is staying still. It will do this, even during a rainstorm. It is also very protective of its young.
The jet stream
The jet stream has changed from being more or less “latitude like” to being sinusoidal; this has allowed the cool arctic air to go lower in some places and further up in others; hence we have some weird temperature fluctuations and lots of rain in some places:
Consider these unusual occurrences over the past few years:
— The winter of 2011-12 seemed to disappear, with little snow and record warmth in March. That was followed by the winter of 2012-13 when nor’easters seemed to queue up to strike the same coastal areas repeatedly.
— Superstorm Sandy took an odd left turn in October from the Atlantic straight into New Jersey, something that happens once every 700 years or so.
— One 12-month period had a record number of tornadoes. That was followed by 12 months that set a record for lack of tornadoes.
And here is what federal weather officials call a “spring paradox”: The U.S. had both an unusually large area of snow cover in March and April and a near-record low area of snow cover in May. The entire Northern Hemisphere had record snow coverage area in December but the third lowest snow extent for May.
“I’ve been doing meteorology for 30 years and the jet stream the last three years has done stuff I’ve never seen,” said Jeff Masters, meteorology director at the private service Weather Underground. “The fact that the jet stream is unusual could be an indicator of something. I’m not saying we know what it is.”
One hypothesis postis a change in a loss of Arctic sea ice as a culprit.
Here is a spectacular example: one town in South Dakota saw a 70 degree rise in temperature, over a 24 hour period!
Before you say “shut up and do something to help”: I did. It wasn’t Mitt Romney money; it was on the order of a football game ticket (college) or a race fee. I am too tired to race anyway.
First, some science: studying salamanders is helping us learn more about potential limb and organ regeneration:
Salamanders’ immune systems are key to their remarkable ability to regrow limbs, and could also underpin their ability to regenerate spinal cords, brain tissue and even parts of their hearts, scientists have found.
In research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences researchers from the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) at Monash University found that when immune cells known as macrophages were systemically removed, salamanders lost their ability to regenerate a limb and instead formed scar tissue.
Lead researcher, Dr James Godwin, a Fellow in the laboratory of ARMI Director Professor Nadia Rosenthal, said the findings brought researchers a step closer to understanding what conditions were needed for regeneration.
“Previously, we thought that macrophages were negative for regeneration, and this research shows that that’s not the case – if the macrophages are not present in the early phases of healing, regeneration does not occur,” Dr Godwin said.
“Now, we need to find out exactly how these macrophages are contributing to regeneration. Down the road, this could lead to therapies that tweak the human immune system down a more regenerative pathway.”
Salamanders deal with injury in a remarkable way. The end result is the complete functional restoration of any tissue, on any part of the body including organs. The regenerated tissue is scar free and almost perfectly replicates the injury site before damage occurred.
Truly awesome, no?
Now as far as this disaster in Oklahoma:
It sort of looks like a World War II carpet bombing.
Will climate change make tornadoes worse? More frequent?
“The short answer is, we have no idea,” Michael Wehner, a climate researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told NBC News. For years, Wehner has been studying the climate models for extreme weather, and he’s a lead author for the next report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as the federal government’s latest national assessment on climate change.
One problem is that the observational record for tornadoes has not been uniform over time. “It has a bias to it, because more people are living where tornadoes occur, and more people are out looking for them,” Wehner said. That contributes to the perception that tornadoes are happening more frequently than they used to.
The other big problem is that current climate models don’t have the resolution that’s needed to simulate the localized, violent activity of a tornado. Currently, global models are built up from atmospheric interactions on a scale of 100 kilometers (62 miles). Improvements in computer power could soon bring that down to a scale of 25 kilometers (16 miles). That should make it possible for scientists to simulate the weather phenomena that give rise to tornadoes, but not the tornadoes themselves, Wehner said.
On a larger scale, extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent in a warmer world, Wehner said. “The metric that I like to look at is the daily amount of rain for a storm that happens once every 20 years,” he said. “That storm, in a much warmer world, would happen more frequently.” For example, if the world follows a “business-as-usual” scenario, he projects that the average temperature would rise 11 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) by the end of the century, and that a once-in-20-years rainstorm would come around every five to 10 years on average.
That doesn’t necessarily mean tornadoes would be more frequent, however. In fact, the current projection calls for wetter spring weather in the northern U.S., and drier weather in the Southwest — with Tornado Alley right in the middle. “There’s some evidence that there might not be a change” in the character of a tornado season, Wehner observed.
I think that it is important to say what we have a good feel for and to admit what we don’t. As far as water born storms (hurricanes): yes, more heat in the oceans means more available energy. But the mechanisms for tornados are different.
There is much more in the article I quoted including a discussion about “tornado alley”: this, believe it or not, is not the worst place in the nation for tornado damage.
Here, you have people who really believe that some deity actually controls events on the earth. (I still don’t understand that one, especially in this day and age). This event blew away houses, killed in injured many and terrified even more.
Now they are praising this deity for saving a soggy Bible page?????? Really???? Seriously????
My initial reaction is: What a bunch xxxxx!!!!!!! What is wrong with these people???!!!!
But that would be unfair, and probably inaccurate. Statistically speaking, I am sure that many people who think this way have skills and abilities that I don’t have (being good with construction or carpentry, can run a business, can farm, etc.).
What this shows, IMHO, is the power of superstition to brainwash people and to make otherwise competent human beings say dumb and illogical things and to corrupt their thinking.
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