Thursday, July 20, 2017

Justine Ruszczyk Damond and the Recurring American Nightmare; Sterling's Still-Missing Hot Weather Products; The Betelgeuse Boom Time

Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata)

I was going to post a full entry to include a series of pictures I took over the past several days. However, upon returning home from the gym, I had a lot of laundry to do -- including all my on-the-floor-above-a-foam-cushion bedding of quilts, blankets, and pillow cases -- and I also made dinner. As a result, it is now 2:22AM as I start this entry, so I'm going to stick to just a few items. Howver, the first is not a happy one.

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Justine Ruszczyk Damond

To begin with, I really hope (but don't expect) that Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, a native of Somalia, is fired from the police force and charged with either murder or at least manslaughter for what he did.

I refer to that horrific incident in Minneapolis late Saturday in which Australian foreign national Justine Ruszczyk -- yoga teacher and life coach living in Minneapolis and engaged to be married and going by the name Justine Damond -- who was killed by the hair-triggered Noor after Ms. Ruszczyk twice had called 911 upon hearing what she thought was a sexual assault near her house.

Screenshot of CNN video showing Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor.

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For a police officer to discharge his weapon from inside the police cruiser -- across his seated partner, Matthew Harrity, who was driving the fucking car -- at a woman in an alley wearing pajamas is just inexcusable. Yes, it's part of the systematic, nationwide failure of American law enforcement that is, of course, due to a violent society drowning in firearms and all the issues with how the police interact with the citizens they are supposedly there to protect, especially urban African Americans.

Justine Ruszczyk with fiancé Don Damond and his son Zach Damond.

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But in this particular hideous instance, though, the matter seems relatively straightforward and if it proves, in fact, to be what it seems, namely, that this this cop couldn't tell the difference between a violent threatening him and his partner with in a life-and-death situation versus a woman in her pajamas trying to wave down their cruiser, then Noor not only should but MUST be fired and brought to justice for summarily executing an innocent woman who was just trying to help intervene in what she thought was a crime.

Screenshot of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges talking to reporters about the killing, July 18, 2017.

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It's just not fucking OK for the cops to do this, and if that is the law enforcement strategy, then the strategy and mindset are all wrong. And it happens ceaselessly -- on the order of thousands of times a year in this country with hundreds of fatalities. In this case, the two cops conveniently didn't have their body-cams turned on.

Screenshot of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull remarking upon the killing of Ms. Ruszczyk.

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This is a huge story in Minneapolis where even Mayor Betsy Hodges has gotten involved in giving press conferences and expressing her shock and desire to figure out what happened.

Left: Minneapolis Star-Tribune online coverage of the killing.

It is also a huge story back in Ms. Ruszczyk's native Australia, where even Prime Minister Turnbull remarked on the situation. The sense in Australia -- as it is in any other normal first world country when one of their own is killed in the United States -- is that there is something uniquely sickly deranged about the United States with psychosexual worship of firearms and all the resulting blood, murder, and mayhem, and the hyper-militarized, shoot-first approach of American law enforcement to virtually any situation.


As Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper headline of July 18th summed it up (see above), an American Nightmare, indeed.

In the end, though, we know how this is going to play out: No charges and everything is great. Well, fuck you, too. Noor, for his part, refuses to make a statement.

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The Weather ... Sweaty Sucks.

The weather is so goddamn uncomfortably humid in addition to being too goddamn hot. It reached 97F at KDCA today, tying for the hottest this summer (but no where near the daily record of 102F in 1930 (a pre-airport record) -- this is, after all, climatologically the hottest part of the summer.

KBWI reached 96F, KIAD hit 93F, and KDMH recorded 95F. The first two of these were not daily records and KDMH doesn't yet have a 30-year data set.

The forecast calls for temperatures to rise again into the upper 90s Fahrenheit tomorrow and flirt with the 100F mark on Friday and perhaps Saturday before it gets milder (I'm not going to say "cooler") by next week with daily chances of showers and t-storms. Just as importantly, the humidity is forecasted to be quite high with some of the models in recent runs forecasting heat indices of 110F to 115F across parts of North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland (as well as the mid-Mississippi River valley).

Max heat indices forecasted by NCEP/NWS for day 3 / Saturday, July 22nd, 2017 issued earlier on Wednesday.

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However, as usual, the NWS forecasters at the Sterling office (LWX) are refusing to issue any hot weather products -- specifically, heat advisories or excessive heat watches -- because of a strange and persistent bias against those, especially the excessive heat watches and warnings.

US National Weather Service weather advisories updated 0741UTC (3:41AM EDT) July 20, 2017.

This does not include the legend but the coral colors are heat advisories and the are excessive heat warnings are shaded medium violet red while excessive heat watches are maroon in color (there appears to be none of those on the above map).

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True, the criterion for an excessive heat warning in our region is a heat index of 110F or higher (unsure about any nighttime criteria), but to have heat indices forecasted to be in the 105F to 110F range and not even have a heat advisory -- on the stupid reason that "mixing" will occur and thus lower the dew point to "below threshold criteria" -- is really irresponsible.

Sterling (LWX) county warning area (CWA) weather advisories updated 2:15AM EDT July 20, 2017.

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Sterling usually exhibits this behavior in the hot months and I'm not sure why. It's like some sort of badge of honor to not issue excessive heat warnings and to keep heat advisories to a minimum. Maybe it's based upon some weird climate change denying mindset that pops up more than you'd expect among operational meteorologists, not to mention TV weathermen, and as opposed to climate scientists.

Mount Holly / Philadelphia (PHI) county warning area (CWA) weather advisories as of 2:28AM EDT July 20, 2017.

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By contrast, the Mt. Holly/Philadelphia office (PHI) already has heat products up include an excessive heat warning for the Metro Philly area. Now it is true that the Philadelphia area has a lower threshold for the excessive heat warning than D.C. or Baltimore, but to not even have a heat advisory in place -- as does the New York City office (OKX) -- is just highly irresponsible on Sterling's part.

New York City (OKX) county warning area (CWA) weather advisories updated 2:26AM EDT July 20, 2017.

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The office's legalistic defense, of course, is that it is following the strict letter of the advisory, but that's bullshit in a situation such as this (especially given populations vulnerable to extreme heat), in addition to which, my view is that a 110F lower bound for an excessive heat warning is too high in this part of the world. Only the NWS has the ability to get the media to broadcast potentially dangerous weather issues.

Oh, yes, all the air quality alerts notwithstanding, the air quality is so much cleaner than it used to be on these hottest of summer days. Ozone pollution, much to GOP chagrin, is so much improved.

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Updated (prior to posting):

So Sterling has, in fact, issued a heat advisory for later today for heat indices "up to 105F."

Sterling (LWX) county warning area (CWA) weather advisories updated 3:38AM EDT July 20, 2017.

Unlike in other parts of the country, though, it'll be dropped the nanosecond tomorrow the 105F threshold isn't met -- presumably in a forested glen outside Winchester rather than in downtown D.C. or Baltimore. 

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When Betelgeuse Goes Boom!

OK, I'd like to end on a happier note.

Here is a very engrossing 47-minute documentary about the effects on Earth when (not if) the red supergiant star Betelgeuse goes supernova (within the next tens of million years or so).



When it goes supernova, Betelgeuse will be fantastically bright in the sky -- much brighter than the full Moon and quite possibly able to cast daytime shadows before it fades to invisibility over the ensuing months and years.

There is still the matter of the high-energy electromagnetic radiation bursts (read: X-rays and gamma rays) that shoot out from the core collapse in two jets to within about 2 degrees of the axis of rotation.

Even at 640 light years, a direct strike would still be powerful enough to damage Earth's atmosphere, not to mention biological organisms.

As a show spoiler (see image at left), neither jet should hit Earth because our fair planet is, apparently, about 20 degrees away from Betelgeuse's axis of rotation.


Phew.

Betelgeuse imaged by the European Southern Observatory's Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA).

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Also fascinating is that Betelgeuse apparently has a massive lobe of gas it has already ejected that gives the star a lop-sided shape. (Betelgeuse is so enormous, we can actually image its surface from Earth rather than it being a point of light.)

Betelgeuse imaged by the European Southern Observatory's Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) with our Solar System's planetary orbits out to Saturn superimposed at this scale.

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Some of the comments on the YouTube site are critical of the program to include the video quality. I would like to post a comment in response by user Walter Kelly3:

We are taken to Kansas, Los Angeles, Argentina, Germany, Japan, Paris, spoken to in French, German, English, Japanese, Spanish. This documentary represents the incredible resource that is YouTube. With brilliant narration, fascinating animation, and stunning imagery we learn about a celestial event that will one day simply blow our minds. And all for free. Only the most narrow-minded, short-sighted and self-absorbed would fail to appreciate this amazing production. It is a privilege and pleasure to spend an hour with these scientists, to be witness to human kind at it's most brilliant. Thank you.



Amen, brother.

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OK, that's all for now. My next planned entry will likely be Friday night. I'm visiting my mom in Glen Burnie this weekend.

--Regulus

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