“As we speak, cruel time is fleeing. Seize the day, believing as little as possible in the morrow.” — Horace
Make Way for Jose
Hurricane Irma is now a tropical depression, but that doesn’t mean the fun is over. Up next is Jose. As of yesterday morning, it was a Category 2 hurricane, with 105 mph winds. Over the weekend it brushed Antigua, Barbuda, and the Virgin Islands.
So is Florida in for more trouble? Probably not. Right now Jose is in the western Atlantic. It has what the National Hurricane Center calls an “odd forecast track.” It’s going to make a clockwise turn and then ... who knows. It could hit anywhere from South Carolina to Newfoundland. Of the computer models run so far, a quarter had it making landfall in the US, another quarter had it hit Canada, and the rest have it going out to sea.
Jose is fifth hurricane and the third major hurricane this season. So this is all from global warming, right? Not so much. According to the NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, “It is premature to conclude that human activities–and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming–have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity.”
They do go on to say that “human activities may have already caused changes that are not yet detectable” for various reasons and that “by the end of the 21st century will likely cause tropical cyclones globally to be more intense on average,” but they say the increase would only be two to 11 percent.
Even if that’s accurate (and c’mon, who can predict something that chaotic decades out), considering how much variability there is in the annual hurricane season, it would take half a century for the high-end number to pan out as anything other than statistical noise. (And if you’re looking at the low-end number, that stretches out to more than a century.)
UN Passes New Sanctions ... Sorta
Yesterday the UN Security Council approved new sanctions against North Korea. However, they were far less than the more severe sanctions the Trump administration was seeking. The watering down of the new sanctions are a reality of the need to have both China and Russia on board, as any one permanent member of the Security Council can veto a resolution.
Originally the US wanted a ban on all oil sales to the hermit kingdom. However negotiations late Sunday night resulted in a cap on oil exports instead of a ban. The Chinese are worried that cutting off all oil sales would make the regime collapse. But one recent study suggests that the Norks would just replace oil with liquified coal.
The new resolution asks countries to inspect ships going to and from North Korean ports, but doesn’t include the Trump administration’s request to authorize using force against those that don’t comply. Also, the resolution says the inspections require the consent of the country where the ship is flagged, which is a loophole big enough to drive a cargo ship through. Also, the new resolution doesn’t include the asset freeze or the travel ban against Kim Jong Un personally, something that was in the original draft.
Okay, so that’s what it doesn’t do. What does it do?
It bans textile imports from North Korea, it also bans the sale of natural gas, and caps refined oil exports at 2 million barrels per year. That’s a cut of about 10 percent from what the Norks currently import from China.
He Was Totally, Definitely Not Flying a UFO
The Air Force has announced that Lt. Col. Eric Schultz died last week due to injuries a plane crash at the Nevada Test and Training Range near Nellis Air Force Base. This is the third recent crash at that facility. Last week, the day before, actually, a pair of A-10Cs crashed during training. (In that case, both pilots safely ejected.)
Schultz was an experienced test pilot and a combat veteran. He flew several aircraft include the F-35, the CF-18 (the Canadian version of the F-18), and the F-15. In the latter he flew more than 50 close air support missions in Afghanistan.
So what was Schultz flying when he crashed? Well, that’s a mystery. Uncle Sam won’t release that info. It’s classified. However, the Air Force Chief of Staff made a point to say that it was definitely not an F-35.
Wait ... experimental aircraft ... Nevada Test and Training Range ... classified ... Are we talking about Area 51 here? Okay so, Area 51 is one part of the Nevada Test and Training Range. Based on some historical evidence, it was probably used for experimental aircraft. Whether Lt. Col. Schultz was flying such a craft is unknown. And if we ever find out, it probably won’t be for a couple of decades.
Congratulations, You’re Still an Idiot
Arron Hughes was with some friends during his “stag-do” (which is a British term for a bachelor party) when they decided to visit the Hoover Dam. Because it’s only like an hour from Vegas and, sure, why not.
According to Hughes, “It was so hot that as soon as we arrived I jumped in. Then I just thought, ‘Why not keep going?’” Um, why not is because Hoover Dam is a hydroelectric plant and has 10 turbines that suck people in and kill them. Lots of them. Like 275 every decade.
Well, as Commander Riker once observed, “Fate protects fools, little children, and ships named Enterprise.” Hughes falls into that first category, because on the day of his impromptu swim, nine of those 10 turbines were shut off. He not only survived his 30-minute swim, but in the process became the first person to successfully swim across the Hoover Dam reservoir.
Of course, as soon as he got out of the water he was promptly arrested and slapped with a $330 fine. In other words: Just another Vegas bachelor party.
It’s All Fun and Games Until the Bobcat Gets Loose
Over the weekend, some 2,000 people were attending the annual Brew at the Zoo festival at the Lehigh Valley Zoo. Things were going pretty well until Shishka, an 18-year-old bobcat, decided to break out of her enclosure. Then things didn’t go so well.
Usually when a carnivore gets loose in the zoo, all the guests are evacuated to a secure location, like the gift shop or administrative offices. (“There’s a man-eating lion on the loose! For the love of God, everyone to the gift shop!”)
Shishka had lived at the zoo her whole life. She escaped through a gap she had created between a tree and some fencing. It took the zoo about 90 minutes to get her back under control, and thankfully, no one was injured.
So did Shishka have one too many and decide to explore outside her cage? Probably not. Her enclosure was in a different part of the zoo from the beer and the music and all the people. Then again, maybe she just wanted to join the party.