Gulf Seaweed Bloom

My daughter was looking at hotels in Cancun, and they were cheap. Really cheap.  I remembered and article I read about a seaweed bloom, and also remembered a jellyfish problem in Florida from a few years back.  Both related to environmental pollution.  Turns out there has been a huge problem with seaweed in the gulf and it’s beaches.

Tourism in Cancun is way down, even with the Mexican governments attempts to remediate the problem and the Tourism industry’s attempt to brush it aside.  When you think about the problems of large scale pollution you think about toxic events or even weather disasters, but these sorts of environmental problems seem to be the more frequent and costly ones.

This is being connected to bad agricultural practices in South America, much like the Dead Zone coming from the Mississippi River every year.  I hold out hope that now that big money is being lost by large corporations, something may change.  Fron FSU:

Massive Seaweed Bloom Affects Florida’s Beaches

From the Boston Globe:

Cancun has a nasty seaweed problem, and tourists are staying away

Missing Zinn

One of my regrets from my undergraduate days at Boston University is that I didn’t take Howard Zinn’s history class.  An interview with Cornell West on Howard Zinn ten years after his death.  From Boston Review of Books.

Missing Zinn

On the tenth anniversary of radical historian Howard Zinn’s death, Cornel West opens up about their friendship and what Zinn would have made of the decade—including whether he would have voted for Bernie.


America’s Radioactive Secret

I remember a court case from a long time ago about a wealthy Texan who used some oilfield pipe for fencing for exotic animals on his ranch.  The pipes were radioactive and harmed or killed his animals. Or so I remember it.  A quick Google turns up Texas High Court Will Hear $24M James McAllen Farm Contamination Suit After All. This goes back to 1992, and it seems issues with radioactivity in the oil and gas industry have been known for much longer.  What seems to be happening today is the massive dumping of radioactive waste from fracking, well, just about everywhere.  From Rolling Stone:

America’s Radioactive Secret

Oil-and-gas wells produce nearly a trillion gallons of toxic waste a year. An investigation shows how it could be making workers sick and contaminating communities across America

Electric Car Nonsense

For the record, I am a happy, if not enthusiastic Tesla Model 3 owner.  I also know a few other Tesla owners who have had similar positive experiences.  Ran across this article in Electrek.  It seems the famous Parnas Tape of a recent White House meeting contains lots of off the cuff discussion about Tesla, literally almost none of it even close to factual. I do worry about the larger picture, about where our leaders get the information they use to make decisions.

Listen to Trump’s dinner guests talk complete nonsense about Tesla and EVs


Corporate Tax Avoidance

From Pro Publica.   How the largest corporations avoid taxes.  Did you know Microsoft has a company in Puerto Rico worth tens of billions of dollars, but one that pays almost no taxes at all?  Not picking on MSFT, it seems everybody is doing it.  The path seems to go straight through campaign contributions to representatives.  Why should most people care?  Well, in the short term makes it harder for small business to compete and it raises the tax burden on the rest of society.  In the long term, it undermines democracy and fair and equal treatment, and leads us into a more corrupt society.

The IRS Decided to Get Tough Against Microsoft. Microsoft Got Tougher.

For years, the company has moved billions in profits to Puerto Rico to avoid taxes. When the IRS pushed it to pay, Microsoft protested that the agency wasn’t being nice. Then it aggressively fought back in court, lobbied Congress and changed the law.

Old Family Photos

I found about 1,500 old family photos (some as negatives) cleaning out my office closet.  I didn’t realize I had them.  I suppose someone (probably my mother) gave them to me for safekeeping and I lost track of them.  I spent them last few days digitizing them. Found want I believe is the earliest known photo of me, as well as me with my first cigar.  Hey, it was the 1960s.  Everyone smoked.

The Booming US Economy

Been reading about the booming US economy.  The stock market is up and Austin seems to be in a boom, especially when it comes to real estate.  Things are good around here, but I was curious about the rest of the country.  A quick Google took me to the Bureau of Economic Analysis web site which has a nice graph right at the top.  See that boom?  Me neither.  And remember that this is with a trillion dollars deficit, during peacetime.

Gross Domestic Product, Third quarter 2019 (third estimate); Corporate Profits, Third quarter 2019 (revised estimate)