2017 January 26

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The Doomsday Clock Is Reset: Closest To Midnight Since The 1950s

"The minute hand on the Doomsday Clock ticked closer to midnight Thursday, as the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said it's seeing an increase in dangers to humanity, from climate change to nuclear warfare. The group took the "unprecedented" step of moving the clock 30 seconds closer to midnight, to leave it at 2 1/2 minutes away."

"The setting is the closest the clock has come to midnight since 1953, when scientists moved it to two minutes from midnight after seeing both the U.S. and the Soviet Union test hydrogen bombs. It remained at that mark until 1960."

One of the stupidest things I’ve heard coming out of Congress for sometime is the idea of de-funding the American Community Survey or ending the requirement that filling out census forms as a mandatory action. Census forms aren’t difficult to fill out and provide an essential source of information for businesses, governments, researchers and not-for-profits.

Without accurate community demographics, it’s hard for a business to know where to locate or who to target for marketing. Government programs that target poverty or concerns impacting certain minority groups would be impossible to implement. Interested people couldn’t learn about their community, and politicians couldn’t communicate with interested audiences.

Some people think the census should be voluntary. Some people don’t feel comfortable discussing their income, their race, or the condition of their housing. But already the surveys protect individual privacy, and laws prohibit any use of the census survey responses except for releasing aggregated data. Only after 70 years do individual survey responses become public for use of historical – beyond most people’s lifetimes.

And to protect survey responses, the Census Bureau never asks the most sensitive questions – it never asks about your religion, your guns, or what you do in bed. Instead it asks about relevant demographic information, that is essential to know from a both business and public perspective.

Good evening! Monster Pothole at South Swan and Washington Ave has gotten another batch of cold patch. Should take away the fun of watching the buses and cars dodging it until the next time the plows tear it up. 

A fairly pleasant evening with some breaks in the clouds showing the colors of dusk. Partly cloudy and 43 degrees in City of Albany. Breezy, 17 mph breeze from the west with gusts up to 29 mph. I’m sure there will be less breeze when I get out of the blustery downtown.  The skies will clear Sunday around 4 pm. We had some brief periods of clearing today but for the most part it was pretty cloudy. 

Traffic is quite backed up heading out of the city. I’m surprised because lately it’s been good since they adjusted the timing at the stop light. Maybe there is a crash or more likely somebody just pulled over to make a phone call and everybody has to gawk. 

Waning Crescent Moon tonight with 5% illuminated. The moon will rise around 5:25 am. Basically call it a new moon.   The official New Moon is on Saturday night with mostly cloudy expected. The Full “Snow” Moon is on Saturday, February 11th. The sun will rise at 7:13 am with the first light at 6:43 am, which is 54 seconds earlier then yesterday. Tonight will have 14 hours and 11 minutes of darkness, a decrease of 2 minutes and 12 seconds over last night.

Tonight will have scattered rain and snow showers before midnight, then a slight chance of snow showers after 2am.   Mostly cloudy, with a low of 33 degrees at 6am. Again, very mild for January with temperatures a19 degrees above normal. Breezy, with a west wind 11 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 38 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Little or no snow accumulation expected. In 2016, it got down to 20 degrees under partly cloudy skies. The record low of -23 occurred back in 1994.

Right now, a split verdict on the weekend. Saturday, mostly cloudy, with a high near 38. West wind 10 to 13 mph. Sunday, partly sunny, with a high near 34.Typical average high for the weekend is 31 degrees.

In four weeks on February 23 the sun will be setting at 5:38 pm, which is 36 minutes later then tonight. In 2016 on that day, we had snow and temperatures between 38 and 17 degrees. Typically, you have temperatures between 37 and 19 degrees. The record high of 62 degrees was set back in 1984.

Looking ahead, Ground Hog Day is Next Thursday, Memorial Day Weekend is in 4 months and Start of June is in 18 weeks. It will be here before you know it. 

Medical Debt Often Leads To Collection Agencies’ Calls

The study by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that 59 percent of people who reported they had been contacted by a debt collector said it was for medical services. Telecommunications bills were the second most common type of overdue bill for which debt collectors pursued payment, at 37 percent, and utilities were third, reported by 28 percent.

Unlike other types of debt, people with medical debt were prevalent across a range of income levels, credit scores and ages. A poll conducted in 2015 by NPR, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that many people with health insurance still struggle to pay medical bills. Some 26 percent said health care expenses have taken a serious toll on family finances.

Excerpt from Appalachia: A Report by the President’s Appalachian Regional Commission, 1964

“In the future, Appalachia’s potential of timberland, fossil energy and recreational water and wilderness will be required for the satisfaction of our national goals. But further resource activity in the region if uncoordinated in its timing or its relationship to human and social capital could repeat the pattern and make little more than a piecemeal improvement of the Appalachian social and economic infrastructure.”

“Appalachia’s millions of people, whose material and social betterment the focus and end of all development effort, are also the region’s prime resource. Their individual distress is today a national liability: but their pooled personal hopes, talents and resourcefulness is a reservoir of creative energy the Nation can no longer afford to ignore.”

“The Appalachian people have no desire to abandon their traditional home, but whether they leave or stay, their continuing distress compounds a double loss for both the region and the Nation — the cost of welfare maintenance and the loss of productive vigor.”

Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns

"The thrill of theoretical experimentation in the laboratory may be exciting for young engineers. But they shouldn’t get our money. Nor should we hand these aspiring atomic alchemists the mandate to cure climate change. That race is already being won by renewable energy research and implementation. It is in this field where the real “innovation” lies and where Congress should be directing their mandate and funding dollars."

Map: Balsam Lake Mountain Trail

Map: Balsam Lake Mountain Trail

Located in the southwest corner of the Catskill Park, Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest contains more than 13,500 acres of "forever wild" Forest Preserve. With an extensive trail network to several ponds, this wild forest is ideal for hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, backpacking, canoeing and cross-country skiing.

The Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest is located 8 miles south of Margaretville (Route 28) and 18 miles north of Livingston Manor (Route 17). It lies mainly within the western Ulster County town of Hardenburgh, with small appendages in the towns of Middletown and Andes in Delaware County.

The terrain is a combination of high mountain ridges, steep sided valleys, numerous brooks and ponds, with elevations ranging from a low of 1,740 feet along Mill Brook to a high of 3,723 feet at the summit of Balsam Lake Mountain.

Google Maps: Median Age Of Population in US Counties

This interactive map shows the median age of a county. Half of the population in the county is older then this age; half is younger. Appalachia and the rural west have some of the oldest populations in America, while the south, outside of Florida is generally younger.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates
Table - DP05, ACS DEMOGRAPHIC AND HOUSING ESTIMATES

The corrosive weather of the rust belt continues today with cloudy skies and salt encrusted everything with temperatures around 36 degrees on our way towards forty six. Galvanized steel and billions in largess from the New York City somewhat covers up the rust but that road salt ultimately does its damage. On mornings like this you have to wonder why anybody in their right mind would stay in the rust belt. Millions have already left. 

I did not sleep well last night. Maybe that’s why I’m cranky.  I was in bed by a little after 10 PM but I laid in bed listening to podcasts until after midnight and kept waking up. I guess I should have put the red light on earlier and had less screen time, and taken a sleeping pill. Maybe draw the curtains. I forgot to turn the heat up when I got home last night, so everything we frigid in my apartment by early morning. I hate sleeping in the winter, I find it incredibly difficult. Kept hearing about Trump wasting taxpayer dollars on the stupid wall and going after undocumented immigrants, who just came to our country to work hard scrubbing floors and milking cows, so we can have clean office buildings and delicious milk in our cereal.

Despite the clouds, days are getting noticeably longer.  The sun will set at 5:01 pm with dusk around 5:31 pm, which is 1 minutes and 17 seconds later than yesterday. Today will have 9 hours and 47 minutes of daylight, an increase of 2 minutes and 11 seconds over yesterday.

Tonight will have a slight chance of showers before midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low of 31 degrees at 6am. 17 degrees above normal. West wind around 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%. In 2016, it got down to 20 degrees under partly cloudy skies. The record low of -23 occurred back in 1994.

As previously noted, next Thursday is Ground Hog Day when the sun will be setting at 5:10 pm with dusk at 5:40 pm. On that day in 2016, we had partly sunny skies and temperatures between 46 and 29 degrees. Typically, the high temperature is 32 degrees. We hit a record high of 53 back in 1981.

I’m still giggling over that article that I had some country boys calling Hillary Clinton a mean old heifer. Like all stereotypes, there is a lot of truths about it, even if it’s ugly and awful. Hillary was one of the worse candidates Democrats have had in a generation. That said she was put forward in era of rising expectations by Democratic activists and forced to be a bad candidate by those who pushed her so far to the left. I told people that 2016 was going to be a lot like 1968, and so it turned out to be. Unfortunately for us all, the Republicans nominated a megalomaniac fire cracker that’s going to blow up in all our hands. So be it, we are all victims of the results of our elections. Public policy can always be reversed in future years.  So far, I’m not a fan of the new President, but that’s not to be expected as a liberal Democrat.

The first chart is up on the blog today. Didn’t work earlier in the morning, but it has been fixed. Minor typo in the code. Many others are being worked on, and as I master ChartJS, I expect the diagrams and charts only improve. I’ve been wanting to add charts for a while on the blog but I had to implement and fully test the supporting code. There is a few glitches to fix over the weekend and I hope to further automate the code to make it easier to create new graphs and charts.

On cold days like today, I have set my wallpaper on my computer to the above picture. It reminds me of days that were last summer, camping at the Finger Lakes National Forest, and going every day to the pool at Watkins Glen. How fast the time goes, six months ago, and how special those days were.

nycmap $id

I guess summer will be back once again, before we know it.