There’s a Major Measles Outbreak in NYC, Thanks to Anti-Vaxxers

Back in 2000, measles was considered to be “eliminated” in the United States. But today—thanks largely to the efforts of anti-vaccination campaigns (for your health!)—the highly contagious disease is popping up all over the place. Oh, cool! Nothing like resurrecting a killer of children in the name of protecting children!
— Read on

How is this still a thing? If the anti-vaxxers argued civil liberties I might be able to sympathize. But they’re fighting both science and math where both have strong data. When it comes to disease spread, we have even more data.

There is far too much emotion in this fight on the anti-vaxxer side and poor communicators on the science side. The science and math folks are correct.

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Stanislav Petrov Day

Stanislav Petrov Day:

I was going to get you an alarm clock that occasionally goes off randomly in the middle of the night, but you can ignore it and go back to sleep and it's fine.

(Via xkcd)

Here’s the link you’re looking for: Stanislav Petrov.

Tl;dr: He’s the guy who didn’t launch the Soviet missiles in September 1983.

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What you need to know about the twin typhoons terrorizing Asia

What you need to know about the twin typhoons terrorizing Asia:

YESTERDAY, Typhoon Barijat swept parts of Macau, Hong Kong, and Guangdong in China.

The regions were prepared for it, halting shipping and suspending classes at kindergartens and schools for children with disabilities, and evacuating around 12,000 people. But it seems it came and left in barely a whimper compared to what is coming.

Apart from gloomy skies and strong winds, there was no huge downpour. Typhoon Barijat caused no damage or significant disruption.

However, another storm is brewing. More emergency alerts have already been issued, and evacuations have been ordered in preparation for this one.

Here is what you need to know about Typhoon Mangkhut, a classified super typhoon that is currently heading towards the South China Sea.

(Via Travel Wire Asia)

Many of my US friends and family have, are, or will deal with Hurricane Florence and the storms queueing up in the Atlantic.

And in the Pacific?

Typhoon Mangkhut, named after the Thai word for mangosteen (a tropical fruit), has been categorized as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii.

It has already passed Guam island, leaving behind flooded streets, downed trees, and widespread power outages (80 percent of the territory).

Power has since been restored, and government agencies are conducting damage assessments and clearing roads.

China, Hong Kong, and the Philippines will all get a healthy dose of Mangkhut:

Currently, it has sustained winds of more than 200 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 255 kilometers per hour, according to AFP.

Said to be the most powerful typhoon to bear down on the Philippines this year, is now on course to hit the country’s northeastern Cagayan province early Sept 15, 2018.

An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving millions in near-perpetual poverty, AFP reported.

Mangkhut is the 15th storm this year to batter the Philippines.

With a massive raincloud band 900 kilometers wide, combined with seasonal monsoon rains, Typhoon Mangkhut could bring heavy to intense rains that could set off landslides and flash floods.

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Who’s The Favorite And Who’s A Sleeper In The English Premier League?

Who’s The Favorite And Who’s A Sleeper In The English Premier League?:

The Premier League, which kicks off Friday afternoon, is often regarded as the most competitive league in the world, if not the best. In fact, both of those assumptions might be false: While the Premier League boasts four of the top 10 and six of the top 15 teams in the world according to our Soccer Power Index rankings, only one other team cracks the top 50.1


This imbalance shouldn’t come as a shock: Aside from Blackburn Rovers in 1994-95 and Leicester City in 2015-16, only four teams have won the Premier League since its inception in 1992-93. And if you look at the table for every Premier League season — especially for the past decade — the top six spots are more likely than not occupied by some or all of the same six teams currently ranked in the world top 15.


If you’re hoping that the upcoming season will offer some vicissitude at the top of the table, don’t hold your breath: According to our Premier League predictions, Manchester City is a good bet to repeat as champions. And the five spaces below the Citizens will likely be occupied by — you guessed it! — Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. After we ran 20,000 simulated seasons, the closest any team got to the top six was Crystal Palace — still 16 points off the pace.

… The top six teams in the Premier League are among the richest sports franchises on earth. All that money means they can afford to pay often ludicrous fees to attract the world’s best players. Money turns into results in major competitions, and results in major competitions turn into more money. And that new money turns into the buying of yet more of the world’s best players, and the top six feedback loop endures.

(Via Features – FiveThirtyEight)

I get why the world gets energized by the World Cup, but remind me why anyone cares about the Premier League? It makes football more boring than American football (for the championship contenders).

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This sea is disappearing because it’s near death

This sea is disappearing because it’s near death:

THE ARAL SEA, which lies between Kazakhstan in the north and Uzbekistan in the south, was one of the four largest lakes in the world.

There was a time when the shoreline of the Aral Sea was an idyllic affair. Well, not anymore.

So how did human activity manage to drain the 67,339 square kilometers sea which used to supply tens of thousands of tons of fish every year?

In the 1950s, the Soviet Union diverted the Aral Sea’s two rivers sources – the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya – for agriculture. As a result, the decreased water flow made the sea saltier, killing off the abundant freshwater fish.

By the 1980s, it had completely destroyed the fishing industry, which at its peak represented roughly 13 percent of the Soviet Union’s fish stocks.

This, in turn, forced a mass migration of people as the dried-out Aral seabed caused an imbalance in the weather patterns.

The area’s inhabitants also suffered health problems at unusually high rates, from throat cancers to anemia and kidney diseases. Infant mortality in the region has been among the highest in the world.

(Via Travel Wire Asia)

Regardless of what one thinks about Global Warming and humans impact on nature, this is 100% man made. See also the Salton Sea in case one thinks this was a Soviet-only occurrence.

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Perseid meteor shower peaks August 11 and 12

Perseid meteor shower peaks August 11 and 12:


’One of the best—if not THE best—meteor showers of the year is about to kick into high gear, and the timing is perfect; with the new moon occurring at exactly the same time as the Perseid meteor shower, this show could be spectacular at 60-70 meteors per hour and sometimes double or even triple that.…’

Via Big Think

(Via Follow Me Here…)

Hmm. I need to find a good spot in Japan for viewing. Suggestions?

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Why Carbs Don’t Make You Fat | The Art of Manliness

Why Carbs Don’t Make You Fat | The Art of Manliness
— Read on

To;dr – it’s boring old calories across the food spectrum that make us fat, not carbs all on their own.

This is a very long yet information dense read. I recommend it if for no other reason than describing Brett’s original view (low carb FTW!) and how he advocated that stance only to allow himself to be persuaded away from it by science. It’s a sadly uncommon bit of bravery to be willing and able to change one’s own mind.

This does back up my anecdotal observations in Japan where they eat the diet ultimately recommended here: high (healthy, low processed) carbohydrates, low fat, and moderate protein all in modest caloric intake. They do other things, like eating family-style when eating out in a group, that help to keep the calories down.

My own eating further backs this up in my own mind: when I eat a largely Japanese diet my weight drops; when I eat a modern American diet my weight increases.

Ultimately, Michael Pollen summed it up best:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

As always, YMMV.

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Take This Cheat Sheet To The Ballpark To Decide When To Leave ←

Take This Cheat Sheet To The Ballpark To Decide When To Leave:

 … baseball is not exactly packing the extra minutes [of a typically 3:05 long game] with scoring and excitement — unless pitchers jogging in from the bullpen is exciting to you. Plus, the stakes are low. They play 162 of these things. Add it all up and you understand why lines of fans hit the exits to beat the traffic home.

Of course, as any purist will tell you, a fan who leaves a ballpark early risks missing out on heart-pumping late-inning action: Just ask the owner of the car whose taillights were visible just outside Dodger Stadium as Kirk Gibson’s walk-off homer to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series landed in the right-field stands.

We can’t advocate ever leaving early from the World Series.2 But at an average, middle-of-the-season, low-stakes game, exceptions can be made. The decision of when to exit is delicate: You want to leave games in which the outcomes are more or less predictable given the current score, but you don’t want to miss out on late-inning heroics. This decision is the kind of problem that data scientists are equipped to solve.

(Via Features – FiveThirtyEight)

Tl;dr – Leaving in the 6th inning if there is a 4+ run lead is the sweet spot.

Also, I love this stuff.

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Ancient Refrigeration

Yakhchal: Ancient Refrigerators – EARTH ARCHITECTURE

By 400 BC, Persian engineers had mastered the technique of storing ice in the middle of summer in the desert. The ice was brought in during the winters from nearby mountains in bulk amounts, and stored in a Yakhchal, or ice-pit. These ancient refrigerators were used primarily to store ice for use in the summer, as well as for food storage, in the hot, dry desert climate of Iran. The ice was also used to chill treats for royalty during hot summer days and to make faloodeh, the traditional Persian frozen dessert.

I love classical practical physics. I keep filing these stories away for my eventual retirement place which I want (as of now) to be as off-the-grid as practical.

Coin Toss

I just saw a man stop at an intersection, flip a coin, register the result, and base his next move on it.