South Louisiana Environmental Damage

Well, Freeport McMoRan is admitting damage done to south Louisiana coastline from decades of breaking state laws in their oil drilling operations.  The penalty? $100 million over several years.  Wow.  Pretty light for land loss of about 2,000 square miles (about the size of Delaware).  To say nothing of the pollution, record cancer rates and poverty, in spite of the vast amount of oil and gas removed from the site.   I have always said Louisiana isn’t a state, it is a co!ony.  Again, $100 million.  Sounds like a lot but I bet the houses of the top 5 or so Freeport execs are worth more than that.  An outrage on top of an outrage.

In first for energy industry, Freeport-McMoRan to settle Louisiana lawsuits aimed at restoring coast


Hurricane Watch

Growing up in New Orleans makes a person an amateur meteorologist when it comes to hurricanes.  Things seem to be getting ugly out there.  A recent Twitter post by professional meteorologist John Morales sums it up:

Lorenzo ’19 is a record setter

Dorian’19 was a record setter

Michael’18 was a record setter

Ophelia ‘17 was a record setter

Irma’17 was a record setter

Harvey’17 was a record setter

There’s something happening here. What it is, is exactly clear.


September Heat

Still crazy hot here in Austin, even at the end of September.  The info below from KXAN tells the story.

6 things to know about this September’s heat

  1. This has been the hottest September on record, with hourly temperatures averaging 88°
  2. This September has been hotter than July (July 2019 average: 86.5°)
  3. Daily high temperatures this month have averaged 100.3°
  4. We have seen more 100° days this September than ever before (18 days. The previous record was 14 in 2011)
  5. We have recorded 56 100° days this year, the 5th most on record
  6. Typically, the first strong cold front of the season comes September 20-21. We will have to wait much longer this year.


The Downside to Free Speech

Reading a fairly uninteresting article in the New Yorker (may require login) about Facebook and the downside / dark side of unfettered free speech.  The most interesting part was about the later writings of Martin Luther.

The Dark Side of Techno-Utopianism

Big technological shifts have always empowered reformers. They have also empowered bigots, hucksters, and propagandists.

From Wikipedia:

Martin Luther and antisemitism

Jacques Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau was a fixture of my youth.  We usually argued over what we would watch on TV in the evenings, but there weren’t any arguments when The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau was on.  I wanted scuba gear the way, I suppose, some teenagers wanted a car.  When I was 15 my Dad surprised me and my brother with two sets of US Divers gear, including the brand new 80 cubic feet aluminum tanks.  My brother and I got certified went on checkout dives and would takes the car off to Florida for dive trips with pals.  Our favorite was the jetties in Panama City Beach, in St. Andrews State Park.  Hard to believe Jacques Cousteau has been dead 20 years. I wonder if my kids even know who he is.  Anyway, ran across this long article written in the 1990s but only now published for the first time.  From the Daily Beast.

Explorer, Eco-Warrior, Spy: The Battles of Jacques Cousteau

Farm Bailout Hits $28B

From Bloomberg Businessweek.  The farm Bailout is now twice the size of the auto bailout after the 2008 financial crisis.  Remember that this farm crisis is self-inflicted and was never part of a vote by Congress or any legislative body.  Just the president declaring a “Trade War” on China. One also has to wonder how that money is being spent.  How much goes to big argibusiness and how much to small farmers?

Here in Austin, property taxes are coming due again with big jumps in the urban areas (my own property value assessment went up over 50% this year).  I wondered how much this property tax heavy state relies on revenue from the ‘blue’ cities like Austin, Houston and Dallas to support the rural ‘red’ parts of the state that seem to have all the political power.  Seems like this is a national trend too.  Funny system when you look at it that way.  I remember an old quote someplace about taxation without representation.

Trump’s $28 Billion Bet That Rural America Will Stick With Him


Glowing Scorpions

Mentioned the guys at the Biltmore in Arizona searching for Scorpions with black light flashlights (Arizona Drop Off).  Went and bought my own UV LED flashlight and went looking for scorpions. Up until now, no luck.  Last night I found one in the closet downstairs and caught him and had a look under the UV light.  Glows like some sort of toy scorpion.  The UV light seems to have confused my phone camera.  It looked much cooler in real life.


Mower Pollution

A long time ago I read that your lawnmower could produce more pollution than your car.  At first this didn’t sound right, because lawnmower engines are so small.  But they are unregulated and don’t have all the sophisticated pollution control equipment of autos.  The article Cleaner Air : Gas Mower Pollution Facts says a mower produces 11x the pollution of a car.  I believe it.  The good news is I see lots of new electric and battery powered mowers at the stores.  Things like this can make a big difference.  So before you rush out and buy that Tesla, get a new mower!   Electrics are quieter, too.  Next big change should be heavy equipment used at construction sites.