Saturday, June 20, 2015

Broken Arrows

King of the Mountain

King Of The Mountain from Grain Media on Vimeo.

Father's Day Weekend Links

Here in Ohio, we're just dodging rain showers and catching up on some internet reading.  Maybe a few of these stories will pique your interest:

Off-Speed Kills: Lance McCullers Throws a 94 mph Changeup (and It's His Third-Best Pitch) - Grantland

Back Home Again In Indiana: A.J. Foyt Returns to the 500 - SBNation

A Royal Flush for Kansas City in All-Star Voting - Wall Street Journal.  After Cincinnati fans did this in 1957, baseball suspended fan voting until 1970.

How Maria Sharapova Became the World's Wealthiest Female Athlete - Bloomberg

The Blight of the Honey Bee - New York Magazine

Once and Future Nut: How Genetic Engineering May Bring Back Chestnuts - The Salt

Drought devastates cherry crop, puts some growers out of business - LA Times

Helen Rosner: On Chicken Tenders - Guernica

In North Dakota's Bakken oil boom, there will be blood - Reveal

The People v. The Coal Baron - New York Times.  He blamed the Upper Big Branch mine explosion on unsafe safety regulations, when he wasn't following them anyway.  As the article mentions, he was almost a cartoon villain.  Society will be a better place with him in jail.  However, jail will be worse off.

The IMF Confirms That 'Trickle-Down' Economics Is, Indeed, a Joke - Pacific Standard.  One of the things that pisses me off most about the Republican party is that every candidate for every office wants to jack up consumption taxes and cut income taxes.  After 35 years, we can definitively say it doesn't fucking work.

This Year is Headed for the Hottest on Record, by a Long Shot - Bloomberg

This photo captures America's relationship with guns - Washington Post

Take Down the Confederate Flag - Now - Ta-Nehisi Coates.  When treason is the LEAST objectionable thing the flag symbolizes, you know it is bad.  The flag supporters are right that the flag is a symbol of southern heritage.  That heritage just happens to be exactly what the flag's opponents say it symbolizes, slavery and racism.

A Kansas State Rep Faces Censure Because She Called a Bill Racist - Slate.  Nothing pisses racists off more than being called racist.

American politics? They've become a family affair - MacLean's

Why Does Portland Have so Many Strip Clubs? - priceonomics

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


CALBUCO from Martin Heck | Timestorm Films on Vimeo.

Narragansett Beer is Back From the Brink

When Mark Hellendrung bought the Narragansett beer company in 2005, close to nobody drank the 125-year-old New England lager.
Gone were the glory days of the 1960s, when the beer was the official sponsor of the Red Sox, produced up to two million barrels a year, and ran its brewery at close to capacity to meet demand. Narragansett so symbolized New England that eccentric shark hunter Quint in Jaws literally crushed it in a now iconic scene.
"Narragansett was New England, and New England was Narragansett," Hellendrung says of the beer's boom years. "It had a 65 percent market share, and it was a part of the very fabric of New England."  The brand brewed fewer than 600 barrels in 2004 and the next year, Hellendrung, a former president of Nantucket Nectars, bought it from Pabst Brewing Co. for an undisclosed amount.
Now the native Rhode Islander can be proud of his regional beer again. Narragansett produced 78,034 barrels in 2014, according to the company, and pulled in $12 million in revenue, up from just $100,000 in 2005. In 2013, it cracked the Brewers Association's top 50 breweries in the U.S., based on beer sales by volume, for the first time ever. It jumped another 12 spots last year, to No. 37.
Hudepohl-Schoenling hasn't been able to crack the top 50 yet, even though I've tried like crazy to get them up there.  At least we have a nice regional beer comeback to emulate.

Stay Classy, Cardinals

If anybody else is vying for the title of New England Patriots of Major League Baseball, they are going to have to get creative, because the Cardinals would seem to have a commanding lead (even bigger than their divisional lead):
The St. Louis Cardinals are being investigated by the FBI for allegedly hacking into networks and trying to steal information about the Houston Astros, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Major League Baseball, the Cardinals and Astros all issued statements Tuesday saying they have cooperated fully with the investigation, which started last year after some information was posted anonymously online.
According to ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack, the federal investigation is close to a conclusion.
The Times reported Tuesday that the FBI and Justice Department officials have evidence that Cardinals officials -- who were not identified -- allegedly tapped into the Astros' database and had access to statistics, scouting reports and internal discussions about players, trades and other proprietary information.
"Major League Baseball has been aware of and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal breach of the Astros' baseball operations database," the MLB statement said. "Once the investigative process has been completed by federal law enforcement officials, we will evaluate the next steps and will make decisions promptly."
The Astros and Cardinals added that they would not comment further, as it's an ongoing federal investigation.
Late Tuesday, the FBI office in Houston released a statement that neither confirmed nor denied the investigation, but added, "The FBI aggressively investigates all potential threats to public and private sector systems.
"Once our investigations are complete, we pursue all appropriate avenues to hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace."...
In June 2014, the Astros claimed to have been victims of hackers who accessed their servers and published months of internal trade talks on the Internet. It was then that the team began working with the FBI and Major League Baseball security in an effort to identify who was responsible for the breach.
According to the Times, the FBI believes that Cardinals officials gained access to the Astros' database by using a list of passwords associated with Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow dating to his tenure with the Cardinals from 2003 until he left for Houston after the 2011 season.
What's a better comparison for the Cardinals, Richard Nixon or Kim Jung Un?  I'd go with Dick Nixon (or Bill Belicheck).  I mean, the Cardinals spying on last year's Astros is much like Nixon worrying about the McGovern campaign.  The bright side is, it gives the rest of America another reason to hate the Cardinals.  As if we needed more.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Bird Flu Spread By High Winds?

The spread of avian flu in Minnesota appears to be related to several high wind events in March and April, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
More than 9 million birds in Minnesota's commercial and domestic poultry flocks have died during the 2015 avian influenza outbreak sweeping the western half of the United States.
The report is far from definitive, calling for further study and saying the USDA can't point to a single statistically significant pathway for the current spread of bird flu.
However, it raises the possibility that the virus traveled on airborne dust or other particles from infected to non-infected farms. Researchers found clusters of new bird flu cases appearing in hard-hit Kandiyohi and Stearns counties about a week after each of several periods of high winds.
In a separate finding, the report said the bird flu virus can take to the air. Viable influenza virus was found in some air samples taken from infected barns.
The report also said that human and machinery traffic between infected and non-infected farms was a likely cause of some virus transmission.
Well, it might not be true, but it is an interesting possibility.

Bucking the Typical Corporate Mindset - and Winning

Fortune profiles diesel engine maker Cummins, who quickly went to work to improve their engines when EPA formulated clean-air rules, and they've been reaping the rewards since:
Miller’s legacy was put to the test in 1997, when the Environmental Protection Agency began investigating whether special shutoff switches in the company’s engines could be used to disable emissions controls. They could, apparently to the surprise and dismay of Cummins engineers. The next year the EPA forced Cummins and several other manufacturers to agree to reprogram the devices and sign an $83.4 million consent decree, the highest civil penalty in environmental enforcement to date. The EPA then moved forward the deadline for new, lower-emission engines from 2004 to October 2002.
Some at Cummins wondered whether a company built on dirty, heavy-duty diesel could survive the EPA’s order, says Freeland, the president and COO, who has been with the company since 1979. Cummins’s leadership considered suing, but eventually cooler heads prevailed, and rather than fight the EPA, Cummins decided to work with it. “We said we’d double down, because we thought there was a way to be different,” Freeland says. Cummins was, after all, the leader in diesel technology. If it could quickly meet the EPA’s new standards, it stood to reap enormous benefits.
Under Theodore M. Solso, who was chairman and chief executive from 2000 to 2011 and is now chairman of General Motors, Cummins set out to become the first diesel company to hit the EPA targets. “The whole industry said there was no way anyone could meet it,” Solso now recalls. But Solso made meeting the goal a centerpiece of a bigger internal revolution. In the early 2000s he implemented Six Sigma management systems and ended the wildly popular (but profit-reducing) practice of offering discounts on most sales. Above all, he poured money into research and development, traditionally a weak spot for diesel makers. From 2002 to 2007, Cummins boosted annual R&D spending by 60%, to $321 million, with almost a quarter dedicated to meeting future EPA engine standards. That emphasis yielded important new technologies, including advances in “deep spray” injection, a process that reduced engines’ emissions without sacrificing efficiency by pushing fuel farther into the cylinder.
Cummins did indeed hit the EPA’s standards first, and saw it pay off almost immediately. By 2010, Caterpillar CAT -0.82% and Detroit Diesel, its two largest domestic rivals, had bowed out of the on-highway heavy-duty diesel market, which Cummins now dominates with a 39% share. Annual revenues have more than tripled since 2002, when that EPA deadline kicked in, and experts within and outside the company say Cummins’s early commitment to a low-emissions strategy will help it maintain its lead as regulations ratchet up over coming decades.
“The on- and off-highway emissions standards were the best thing that ever happened to Cummins,” says Mike Brezonick, editor-in-chief of Diesel Progress magazine. “They make such better engines now. It was the equivalent of the Manhattan Project.” The company also controls about 41% of the North American market for after-market components that lower emissions on other companies’ engines, a huge new source of revenue. “You hear in the news that pollution controls are hurting jobs,” says John Wall, the chief technology officer. “For us it’s the exact opposite.” Last year the components business brought in $5.1 billion, or a little over a quarter of total revenues.
Cummins continues to work closely with the EPA on the next generation of standards. Wall, coincidentally, had been meeting with agency officials the day before giving an interview to Fortune. “We’ll take [regulators] through technologies being developed, explain how long it will take to get them to market,” Wall says, hoping that the industry’s needs are on their minds when the rules are finally written. That kind of cooperation has made Cummins a poster child for emissions controls; Solso and his successor, current CEO Tom Linebarger, have both stood beside President Obama as he announced rounds of clean-air standards.
Wow, whodathunk research and development for cleaner, more efficient engines would pay off? Obviously not Detroit Diesel or Caterpillar, who no longer have to worry about making on-road diesel engines.  And gosh, what company worth it's salt would cooperate with EPA?  I am amazed about how backward-looking and trapped in groupthink most business leaders are.  It's nice to see some folks who think outside of the typical corporate mindset get a little recognition.

NASA Photo of the Day

June 13:

1000 Sols
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech; Mosaic Processing: Marco Di Lorenzo, Kenneth Kremer
Explanation: Shortly before Mars' June 2015 conjunction, the Curiosity Rover celebrated 1000 sols on the red planet. After its August 5, 2012 landing, Curiosity's 1000th sol or martian day on the surface corresponded to planet Earth's calendar date May 31, 2015. Because the line-of-sight to Mars is close to the Sun near the conjunction, radio communications are affected and the six-wheeled, car-sized robotic rover cautiously remains parked at this spot for now. The view looks back toward the stomping grounds for Curiosity's nearly 10.6 kilometer trek so far, with the hazy rim of Gale Crater in the distance. The mosaicked panorama was constructed with images from navigation cameras taken on Curiosity's sol 997.