Politics Rochester

Donald Trump vs. Water Street Music Hall

It’s hardly the most important issue in the campaign. I doubt we’ll see national press coverage of the issue. But it strikes me as ironic that in the same week that the Water Street Music Hall gets shut down for violence that happens outside of it’s walls, Donald Trump fully expects to take zero responsibility for the violence that has happened in the same room in which he was speaking.

It isn’t at all surprising given the primary season so far. Even less so as he’s in the midst of a press conference called for the sole purpose of bullying Marco Rubio.

In fact, based on the below quote, he can’t manage to get his head out of his own ass long enough to realize what is a shocking problem with the optics of his campaign. Also: his bully supporters see no problem with it, either.

Trump on the Crowd Melees | Talking Points Memo

TRUMP: Well, I have nothing to do with it. When you have 25,000 people in a building — you know, today we had to send away so many thousands of people, we couldn’t get them in. If you have that many people, if you have four or five people or ten people stand up out of 22,000 that are in this building that I’m speaking to, a very great entertainer said, Donald, you’re the biggest draw in the world without a guitar, which is sort of an interesting —

Source: Trump on the Crowd Melees

Politics Science

The Dead Sea has disappeared

NASA uses its GRACE (Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment) satellites to measure the differential in gravity from place to place across the Earth to infer differences in water content. Launched in 2002 in partnership with the German Aerospace Center and the German Research Center for Geosciences, it is the first accurate observation of water availability from space. If that sounds a lot like GRAIL, which recently spiked into the moon, that’s because it is precisely the same technology.

GRACE is helpful, as they say, “when hydrologic observations are not routinely collected or shared beyond political boundaries.” In other words, where people don’t particularly like us.

And their observation? Second only to the Indian subcontinent, the Fertile Crescent is losing a shocking amount of fresh water:

Scientists at the University of California, Irvine; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., found during a seven-year period beginning in 2003 that parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins lost 117 million acre feet (144 cubic kilometers) of total stored freshwater. That is almost the amount of water in the Dead Sea. The researchers attribute about 60 percent of the loss to pumping of groundwater from underground reservoirs.

The presser goes on to state that this amount of water would service as many as 100 million people. Where would that much water go?

As much as one fifth of the loss is due to drought in the region. But the rest is purely a function of irrigation and siphoning of water away from the ground and into cities.

When we talk about destabilizing forces in a region, the too-often missed component is fresh water. Without fresh water, humans cannot survive. And when groundwater becomes municipal well water, it becomes political and a commodity. Particularly in this region, that is worrisome.


Will your next car be powered by water?

Researchers at the University of Buffalo have learned that adding silicon nano-particles of 10nm wide to water can yield high concentrations of hydrogen, quickly and efficiently. In fact, the hydrogen is available as a fuel source “almost immediately.”:

The reaction didn’t require any light, heat or electricity, and also created hydrogen about 150 times faster than similar reactions using silicon particles 100 nanometers wide, and 1,000 times faster than bulk silicon, according to the study.

In other words, near-perfect energy production. The group envisions this technology to be available for everything from cars to camping gear or small electronics. They note that the silicon particles are not without their own energy costs, taking, “significant energy and resources” to produce. When thinking in terms of lowering energy consumption, it is important to consider both the amount of energy produced and the amount of energy it takes to produce the producer. This has been the challenge that has dogged other alternative fuel technologies such as ethanol.

The chief problem with the idea of hydrogen fuel cells has always been the problem of safely storing hydrogen. You know. The stuff that made the Hindenburg famous.


The Water of Life: a brief history of whiskey and distillation

The Internet. Penicillin. The wheel.

These are pretty cool – and one might even say useful – inventions. But just imagine how much less we would enjoy all of these nobel fruits of our collective intelligence – to say nothing of Irish music – if it wasn’t for the hands-down most important invention of all time, whiskey.

Don’t believe me? Well, as it happens, the name “Whiskey” is one of those morphed words that was originally from the Gaelic uisge, as in uisge beatha, meaning “Water of Life.” And in fact, that same phrase was also translated into Latin as aqua vitae. Who are we to correct history?

Whiskey’s origins start with the process of distillation, which was developed in Mesopotamia. But the Mesopotamian people had not yet evolved to the point of enjoying delicious whiskey – in fact, they used grapes, which are all wrong for whiskey, and merely used alcohol to make perfumes. This to me says a lot about the barely-civilized origins of that perfume counter at Macy’s you’re always trying to avoid: they’re primitive and violent for a reason.

"For fuck's sake, Margaret, just buy something! God only knows what's going on beyond those cold, dead, lizard eyes."

The distillation process eventually made its way to Ireland, where the lack of grapes meant alcohol producers needed to find a new substrate for their experimentations. As a result, monks who produced alcohol for its medicinal purposes used grains and the first important leap forward was made towards that most enlightened of potables.

But the party really gets started in the mid-1500’s when King Henry the VIII and his vicegerent Thomas Cromwell, seeking to unburden local Catholic institutions of their considerable wealth, dissolved the monasteries throughout England. That sucks for England’s monastery community – which is estimated to have owned one-third of all the land in England prior to that – but its pretty awesome for us, because the monks decided to bring their distillation home with them. And when they did, it was all about rockin’ a fat buzz, no fever, infection or possession by Satan required.

Shure 'an forgive ush father, for we have shinned. Alsho like to shay a shpecial shorry about pisshin' in the holy water, I would. Shaints presherve us.

To be sure: those old monks partied high-test style, drinking the whiskey immediately after distillation. But eventually after enough former monks died of alcohol poisoning, someone got the idea to age the whiskey in barrels and allow it to mellow, not to mention adding the caramel goodness we’ve all come to know and love. And to this day, the Old Bushmills Distillery in Antrim County, Ireland remains the oldest working distillery of whiskey in the world.

I like to believe that, somewhere way down there in our history, this is some branch of my family's coat of arms.

These days, whiskey comes to us in a variety of different variations, from the extremely rare single-cask bottle to the more commercially-viable blended whiskeys. Purists generally prefer the single-malt stuff, which while probably blended from a number of casks, only comes from a single distiller, thus being a reasonably-pure expression of that maker’s techniques.

Me? Well, I’m not purist for anything. But given the option, I trend towards Knob Creek as my poison of choice, particularly for a Manhattan. Bourbon whiskey, I guess you would call that.

If you’d like to know more about whiskey than I can tell you, I know just the place to go, too: Marketview Liquor is having a special whiskey tasting tonight, February 17th, from 4pm to 7pm. Get there early, but if you don’t see me, please save me a sip or two!