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Gender: Do not display
Current location: Virginia
Member since: Wed Jun 1, 2011, 07:34 PM
Number of posts: 7,575

About Me

Navy brat-->University fac brat. All over-->Wisconsin-->TN-->VA. RN (ret), married, grandmother of 11. Progressive since birth. My mouth may be foul but my heart is wide open.

Journal Archives

The Mysterious Case of the Evaporating Sub-Neptune World

Astronomers sifting through data from a NASA planet-hunting satellite have hit the jackpot: a common type of planet 131 light-years away called TOI-1759b, with an extremely uncommon story to tell. Thanks to its close proximity to its host star, the planet's atmosphere appears to be evaporating into dead expanse of space—extremely fast, by astronomical standards.

Watching this radiation-induced “photoevaporation,” reported on in a new study led by Eder Martioli at the Laboratório Nacional de Astrofísica in Brazil, could help us understand one of the weirdest mysteries in modern astronomy. As we continue to discover more planets out there beyond our solar system—what we call exoplanets—there’s an inexplicable absence of planets the size of Neptune or slightly smaller (“sub-Neptunes”) in orbits close to their host stars.

Just by sheer probability, we ought to be discovering more of these mid-sized planets that manage to complete entire orbits around their host stars in just a few days. Instead, we’re left with a planetary dead zone for medium planets that astronomers call the “sub-Neptune desert.” All of this begs the question: How can there be so many medium-sized planets out there, but so few medium-sized planets in orbits close to their stars?

This isn’t simply a compelling question for astronomers who want to nerd out about planetary formation. Measuring atmospheric evaporation might also help us narrow our search for alien life in the universe—something many more people can get behind.

Fun stuff for all us astronomy geeks

Insurance Companies Are Giving Ridiculous Reasons For Not Covering New Birth Control Methods

Whitney, an Indiana-based pediatrician who asked that her last name be withheld, had been using a year-long birth control ring called Annovera for nearly a year when she recently changed jobs, and her new insurance provider declined to cover the ring. Prior to the ring, Whitney had been using an IUD, knowing that a long-term birth control method would work best for her. But without coverage for her Annovera ring, she’s had to change to an alternative that hasn’t been working well for her. Aside from challenging her insurance company, however, Whitney says she “doesn’t have any other option right now but to use this non-preferred method.”

Stories like Whitney’s are common, according to Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, CEO of the reproductive rights campaign Power to Decide, despite how under the Affordable Care Act, insurers are legally required to cover the full range of contraceptive methods, without any out-of-pocket costs. It’s through this mandate of the ACA that about 65 million Americans are able to access birth control without a co-pay.

Amid escalated attacks on reproductive rights, including a Supreme Court case that could reverse Roe v. Wade and a pandemic that’s created significant logistical barriers to get contraception and abortion, McDonald-Mosley emphasizes that patients trying to get reproductive care “aren’t doing this as a political act.” Birth control is a ubiquitous part of the lives of people of all ages, faiths, and communities. But as the FDA approves more and more forms of contraceptives, from new patches with lower hormones, to non-hormonal contraceptive gels, many private insurers are doing everything they can to shirk the ACA’s birth control mandate and avoid covering less traditional methods.

One patient McDonald-Mosley recently worked with concluded that a non-hormonal septic contraceptive gel would work best for her—only for her insurance company to require her to pay $300 out-of-pocket for just 12 applications of the gel, which she couldn’t afford. Health care providers like McDonald-Mosley are trying to help their patients choose the right contraceptive method for their unique needs, only for insurance companies to “undermine that decision-making, undermine the patient-provider relationship, and weaken patients’ overall trust in the medical system,” she says.

It's time insurance companies were banned from practicing medicine without a license.

Illinois Attorney General Intervenes in Rape Case That Went Viral

At a January sentencing hearing for an 18-year-old convicted of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl, an Adams County, Illinois, judge reversed his own conviction so the teen, Drew Clinton, wouldn’t have to serve prison time. The sexual assault charge came with a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison, but Judge Robert Adrian said that Clinton had no prior record and already served 148 days in county jail, which he said was “plenty of punishment,” so he threw out the conviction and released him. The girl’s father told Jezebel that she had been suicidal after the assault and the judge overturning the conviction “opened the wound again.”

The case generated national headlines, and the judge was reassigned to civil, not criminal, cases. A Change.org petition calling on the Illinois Courts Commission to censure, suspend, or remove Judge Adrian has more than 102,000 signatures.

Now the state attorney general is getting involved. Yesterday, Illinois AG Kwame Raoul filed a petition urging the Illinois Supreme Court to order the judge to sentence Clinton in accordance with state law.

Raoul said in a statement: “The mandatory sentencing range set by the Illinois General Assembly for felony criminal sexual assault is four to 15 years in prison. In addition to the insensitivity to the victim in this case, the judge’s decision to vacate the conviction and call the 148 days Clinton served in county jail ‘plenty of punishment,’ demonstrates an abuse of power.” He also wrote in the complaint that, by refusing to enforce a criminal statute, Judge Adrian acted as a “quasi-legislator” and “undermin[ed]” confidence in the judicial process.”

I had not seen this news anywhere else

More on Eteri Tutberidze and Russian skating coaches

The big question surrounding 15-year-old Kamila Valieva is whether or not she’ll be allowed to skate in the Olympic women’s individual event.

The International Testing Agency (ITA) said that Valieva, who helped the Russian women win the team event and became the first woman in history to land a quadruple jump at the Olympics, tested positive for trimetazidine, a banned heart medication that is purported to improve endurance. Russia wants her to skate, claiming a misunderstanding and perhaps Western jealousy. The ITA and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will attend a hearing on behalf of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to appeal Russia’s decision to let her skate. The International Skating Union (ISU) will determine medals and results after the hearing, which will happen before Tuesday’s event.

Lost in the shadow of this news, perhaps, are other important questions: how a 15-year-old girl got the medication, and why she would feel like taking it was a good idea.

Valieva, along with her quad-landing teammates Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova, all train with coach Eteri Tutberidze. Tutberidze is the single most dominant coach in women’s figure skating, as her girls — most of her skaters become champions before the age of 18 — have taken home Olympic golds and silvers, World Championships, European Championships, and international champions.

But amid all that success, none of Tutberidze’s champions have gone to multiple Olympics. They’ve retired, many citing injury, in four-year windows. Even more distressing is how there seems to be a pattern of abusive practices when it comes to diet restriction and over-training.

When the IOC, ISU, and Russia convene, they’ll decide Valieva’s future. But it would behoove them and the sport to look beyond the athlete in question and also focus on the adults in charge.

Sickening, to say the least. Child abuse, IMNSHO.

Russian Coach For Kamila Valieva Produces Teen Stars With Short Careers

The coach behind Russia’s figure skating dynasty rarely speaks to the media, enhancing her mystique as a guru who produces a line of teenage stars who can land jumps no other women even attempt.

A doping furor around her star pupil has forced Eteri Tutberidze into the spotlight at the Beijing Olympics. She broke her silence on the case against Kamila Valieva on Saturday, telling Russian TV: “We are absolutely sure that Kamila is innocent and clean.”

Tutberidze-trained skaters have dominated competition for eight years, but critics have raised concerns about their short careers - many retire as teenagers - and propensity to suffer serious injuries.

The news that 15-year-old Valieva tested positive for a banned heart medication before the Olympics puts Russia’s gold medal in the team event in jeopardy and could kick her out of the women’s competition next week.

This woman is a MONSTER!

The Superb Owl is back, and the crowd goes wild

This Sunday, football fans will choose sides in Super Bowl 56 between the Cincinatti Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams. But while much of the country is preoccupied with football and a smorgasbord of cream cheese-based dips, many others will spend the day rooting for another team: the owls.

"There are the Super Bowl watchers among us, and then there are the superb owl watchers among us," Ryan Mandelbaum, a science writer and bird enjoyer, told NPR.

If you haven't already figured out the joke, tack the "B" from "Bowl" onto the end of "Super" and you get "Superb Owl".

For birding enthusiasts like Mandelbaum, Superb Owl Sunday is a sacred day, a chance to appreciate the majestic creature by posting owl pics on social media en masse.

We hear them A LOT here, but rarely see them.

The Young Africans on a Climate Crusade to 'Save the World'

Khamis Salim and the 25 other youths in his group were having a busy day when I first met him in November, at Tudor Creek along the coast of Kenya. Some were busy transplanting mangroves in mudflats, while others were engaged in scouting for illegal activities within the mangrove forest. Mangrove survival rates have dwindled to an all-time low, forcing the group to adopt a method of transplanting the trees in select rows 1.5 meters apart to keep them alive for longer. The youths’ mission: reverse years of damage caused by climate change to this vital tropical ecosystem.

Salim, 30, told The Daily Beast how important this mangrove species is to his community. When he was growing up, he witnessed how the illegal extraction of mangroves for construction, medicine, and charcoal burning ravaged his community, killing off much of the marine wildlife that many locals rely on as a source of food and income.

“People were cutting mangroves for construction and charcoal, not knowing how bad they were affecting fishing, which was so important to us,” said Salim.

To save his community from devastation, Salim founded the Manyunyu Community Organization, which has been restoring mangroves along along the Kenyan coast since 2007. The group has planted over 10,000 mangrove seedlings. It’s run entirely by young people, who have been thrust into the role of preventing the continued degradation of the mangrove ecosystems while the government remains absent. Every day, the group’s members wade through incredibly muddy thickets to safeguard the remaining fragments of the mangrove ecosystem.


The medieval Dutch solution to flooding

This July, gorged by days of rain, the Meuse River broke its banks, and the Belgian town of Liège was its victim. Waters the colour of old gravy raced through town, leaving residents floating in canoes as their homes vanished about them. In the city and its province, over 20 died, one man drowning in his basement.

Nor was this corner of Eastern Belgium alone. In nearby Germany, around 200 perished, with journalists describing the flooding as a once-in-a-century event. The financial impact of the disaster was shocking too. Near Liège, a single chocolate factory sustained damages worth around €12m (£10m/$13.5m).

Yet as the mayhem unfolded, one corner of Northern Europe suffered far less. In the Netherlands, the summer flooding was also described as the worst in a century and property damage was severe, but the country survived the floods without a single fatality. There are many reasons for this: quick evacuations, strong dikes and robust communication among them. But what underpins these varied forms of flood defence is an institution: the so-called "water boards" that have protected this waterlogged land for nearly a millennium.

These associations are worth understanding for the way they blend local democracy, direct taxation and crystal-clear transparency to put water at the very core of Dutch life. And the Netherlands is not alone. From the Ethiopian uplands to the communities along the Danube, water managers the world over have borrowed aspects of the Dutch model for their own needs, improving life for thousands along the way. They may soon be joined by other regions, as countries the world over face up to the rise in inundation and floods that come with climate change.

This article was originally published in BBC News on 11/29/21, but I just found it. I was particularly interested in it because one of my ancestors was knighted by the Dutch crown in the 17th century for his work on dikes and canals in Amsterdam.

Why the Dutch embrace floating homes

When a heavy storm hit in October, residents of the floating community of Schoonschip in Amsterdam had little doubt they could ride it out. They tied up their bikes and outdoor benches, checked in with neighbours to ensure everyone had enough food and water, and hunkered down as their neighborhood slid up and down its steel foundational pillars, rising along with the water and descending to its original position after the rain subsided.

"We feel safer in a storm because we are floating," says Siti Boelen, a Dutch television producer who moved into Schoonschip two years ago. "I think it's kind of strange that building on water is not a priority worldwide."

As sea levels rise and supercharged storms cause waters to swell, floating neighbourhoods offer an experiment in flood defence that could allow coastal communities to better withstand climate change. In the land-scarce but densely populated Netherlands, demand for such homes is growing. And, as more people look to build on the water there, officials are working to update zoning laws to make the construction of floating homes easier.

"The municipality wants to expand the concept of floating because it is multifunctional use of space for housing, and because the sustainable way is the way forward," says Nienke van Renssen, an Amsterdam city councillor from the GreenLeft party.

This could be adopted in many place in the US


The snow crocuses have made their appearance! One day they're not there, and the next, they miraculously are. You never see their little foliage spikes or their buds, they just appear seemingly out of nowhere, unlike all the other early flowers. And no matter how ugly the weather is in succeeding days, even if it snows, they survive it.


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