Category Archives: Engineering

‘I’m sorry, but it’s too late’

Dennis Pillion, writing for AL.com:

“One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late… A few days later when I call time of death,” continued Cobia on Facebook, “I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same.”

“They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.”

“I try to be very non-judgmental when I’m getting a new COVID patient that’s unvaccinated, but I really just started asking them, ‘Why haven’t you gotten the vaccine?’ And I’ll just ask it point blank, in the least judgmental way possible,” she said. “And most of them, they’re very honest, they give me answers. ‘I talked to this person, I saw this thing on Facebook, I got this email, I saw this on the news,’ you know, these are all the reasons that I didn’t get vaccinated.”

“And the one question that I always ask them is, did you make an appointment with your primary care doctor and ask them for their opinion on whether or not you should receive the vaccine? And so far, nobody has answered yes to that question.”

Enough is enough. Get vaccinated.

How Many Decimals of Pi Do We Really Need?

Published by NASA JPL by Marc Rayman:

In other words, by cutting pi off at the 15th decimal point, we would calculate a circumference for that circle that is very slightly off. It turns out that our calculated circumference of the 25 billion mile diameter circle would be wrong by 1.5 inches. Think about that. We have a circle more than 78 billion miles around, and our calculation of that distance would be off by perhaps less than the length of your little finger.

That’s a pretty small margin of error I’d say.

How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled

Laura Sullivan, for NPR:

“I remember the first meeting where I actually told a city council that it was costing more to recycle than it was to dispose of the same material as garbage,” she says, “and it was like heresy had been spoken in the room: You’re lying. This is gold. We take the time to clean it, take the labels off, separate it and put it here. It’s gold. This is valuable.”

But it’s not valuable, and it never has been. And what’s more, the makers of plastic — the nation’s largest oil and gas companies — have known this all along, even as they spent millions of dollars telling the American public the opposite…

Larry Thomas, Lew Freeman and Ron Liesemer, former industry executives, helped oil companies out of the first plastic crisis by getting people to believe something the industry knew then wasn’t true: That most plastic could be and would be recycled…

“I don’t think anything has changed,” Thomas says. “Sounds exactly the same.”

Let’s Check In on the State of iPhone and Android CPU Performance

John Gruber at Daring Fireball:

Because it’s not just that Apple’s new $400 iPhone SE offers faster performance than any Android phone money can buy, but that the two-and-a-half-year-old iPhone 8 has better single-threaded performance than any Android phone today — and the iPhone 8 was the phone Apple discontinued for the new $400 iPhone SE. Apple discontinued an iPhone that, if it were an Android phone, would be the fastest in single-threaded performance on the market today.

And on the flip side, what do you get for $400 in Androidtown? Amazon sells the Motorola Moto Z4 for $500. Let’s just spot the Android side $100. The Moto Z4’s single-threaded Geekbench 5 score is about 500. That falls short of an iPhone 6S, a phone from 2015…

What makes our actual situation unprecedented in personal computing history isn’t that one company has maintained a decade-long CPU performance edge over the rest of the industry, but that that one company is keeping those chips exclusively for its own devices.

Seems like The Cook Doctrine is continuing to pay off.

The Most Poisonous Mushroom

Craig Childs, for The Atlantic:

“Poisonous snakes, reptiles, plants, [and] fish have aposematic coloration that shows off that they are poisonous. Mushrooms don’t,” Bunyard said. “The dangerous ones are all mostly drab or brown, green-brown, bronze. There’s nothing in the taste that tells you what you are eating is about to kill you.”

Why Mitch McConnell Wants States to Go Bankrupt

David Frum, in The Atlantic:

If a Republican Senate majority leader from Kentucky is willing to squeeze Illinois state pensioners, why would he care about shielding Illinois state taxpayers? The answer is found in the third of the three facts of American fiscal federalism. United States senators from smaller, poorer red states do not only represent their states. Often, they do not even primarily represent their states. They represent, more often, the richest people in bigger, richer blue States who find it more economical to invest in less expensive small-state races…

A federal bankruptcy process for state finances could thus enable wealthy individuals and interest groups in rich states to leverage their clout in the anti-majoritarian federal system to reverse political defeats in the more majoritarian political systems of big, rich states like California, New York, and Illinois.

…McConnell seems to be following the rule “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” He’s realistic enough to recognize that the pandemic probably means the end not only of the Trump presidency, but of his own majority leadership. He’s got until January to refashion the federal government in ways that will constrain his successors. That’s what the state-bankruptcy plan is all about.

The 20 Best TV Dramas Since ‘The Sopranos’

And speaking of the New York Times, here’s another article I enjoyed this week. While I haven’t seen all these shows, ‘Lost’ had such a significant impact on my opinion of what a modern TV drama should be. To this day, the writing and execution continue to amaze me. The interview from Damon Lindeloff was particularly close to home:

The theory that continues to drive me bonkers is the idea that they were dead the whole time. That makes no sense to me… It definitely creates some brow furrowing. But I’ve decided that on my tombstone it will say: “Here lies Damon Lindelof. He was dead the whole time.”

‘Learning Curve’ as Rick Perry Pursues a Job He Initially Misunderstood

Coral Davenport and David E. Sanger, reporting for the New York Times:

Mr. Perry, who once called for the elimination of the Energy Department, will begin the confirmation process Thursday with a hearing before the Senate Energy Committee. If approved by the Senate, he will take over from a secretary, Ernest J. Moniz, who was chairman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology physics department and directed the linear accelerator at M.I.T.’s Laboratory for Nuclear Science. Before Mr. Moniz, the job belonged to Steven Chu, a physicist who won a Nobel Prize.

For Mr. Moniz, the future of nuclear science has been a lifelong obsession; he spent his early years working at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Mr. Perry studied animal husbandry and led cheers at Texas A&M University.

To say that Mr. Perry’s background and education are insufficient for the duties and responsibilities required would be a gross understatement.

The Verge: ‘Facebook takes flight’

Casey Newton, reporting for The Verge:

The path forward for Aquila isn’t totally clear, and it’s bound to encounter more bumps along the way. But Zuckerberg is resolute: billions of people who can’t access the internet deserve it. And for Facebook to achieve his long-term vision, everyone is going to need access to more bandwidth than they have today.

Sounds very humanitarian. Until you remember that Facebook makes it’s money through advertising, and can only show year-over-year growth if more users are connected to Facebook than the year before. Once you’ve hit the saturation rate for your population, the only way you can increase revenue is if you can access more population. Facebook has become so enormous, if it wants to continue to grow it’s user base, it has to literally invent the technologies needed to push internet connectivity to the rest of the planet.

Cool plane, though.

NC Senate Proposes Removal of Drinking Water Protections

Jane Porter, writing for IndyWeek:

Scientists regard vegetative buffers as the most cost-effective and fair means of controlling polluted runoff from farms and developments; the Senate budget would have them repealed and would schedule the repeal of state requirements for buffers along the Neuse River, the Tar-Pamlico River, the Catawba River on December 31, 2019— even if no alternative is in place.

“This provision isn’t a tweak, it’s a sledgehammer,” said Molly Diggins, state director of the North Carolina Sierra Club in a statement. “It is as if the Senate has forgotten how important our waterways are for tourism, recreation, and drinking water.”