Wednesday, March 31, 2021

How important is that Amazon unionization question? Possibly, quite important.

Corey Quinn explains why: You Can’t Trust Amazon When It Feels Threatened.

This teaches us that—when it’s a big enough deal—Amazon will lie to us. And coming from the company that runs the production infrastructure for our companies, stores our data, and has been granted an outsized position of trust based upon having earned it over 15 years, this is a nightmare.

Or, possibly, it was just a Really Stupid Tweet.

Anyway, worth a read.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Vaccine confusion

Here's a snapshot of today's display on the California state Vaccines Dashboard:

I'm trying to understand what those percentages mean.

The "(78%)" for doses administered clearly means that California has administered 78% of the doses it has received -- as of today, California has received 17,661,490 doses of vaccine.

But what about the percentages "(13.7%)" and "(14.9%)" for "People partially vaccinated" and "People fully vaccinated"?

It seems like this should be interpreted as "this is the percentage of the overall population of California".

But the overall population of California as of 2020 is 39.4 million. and 13.7% of 39.4 million is 5,398,000 people, a vastly different number than 4,445,354.

If I reverse the computation, by computing ( (100 / 13.7) * 4,445,354) and also ( (100 / 14.9) * 4,825,765), I end up with 32.4 million.

Is the dashboard assuming that the California population is 32,400,000 people?

It's not like fully vaccinating nearly 5 million people is nothing, of course! But I think it's actually only about 11% of the state population, not 13.7 percent.

I must be misunderstanding something basic.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Antikythera Cosmos work at UCL

A very nice video with an accompanying paper: A Model of the Cosmos in the ancient Greek Antikythera Mechanism

Using our identified period relations for all the planets, we have devised new theoretical planetary mechanisms expressing the epicyclic theories, which fit the physical evidence. For the inferior planets, previous 2-gear mechanisms are inadequate for more complex period relations because the gears would be too large. Two-stage compound trains with idler gears are necessary, leading to new 5-gear mechanisms with pin-and-slotted followers for the variable motions (Fig. 3c). For the superior planets, earlier models used direct mechanisms, directly reflecting epicyclic theories with pin-and-slotted followers. Here we propose novel 7-gear indirect mechanisms with pin-and-slot devices for variable motions (Fig. 3d), analogous to the subtle mechanism that drives the lunar anomaly. Compared to direct mechanisms, these are more economical; a better match for the evidence; and incorporate period relations exactly for higher accuracy. The crucial advantages of indirect mechanisms are expanded in Supplementary Discussion S4. Without these compact systems that can all be mounted on the same plate, it would have been impossible to fit the gearing into the available spaces. Proofs that the mechanisms in Fig. 3 correctly calculate the ancient Greek epicyclic theories are included in Supplementary Discussion S4.

I'm not sure how much of this is actually science, it strikes me more as some sort of historical-fiction-done-by-astronomy-loving-nerds.

But it's still quite interesting, and it's got some fun number theory.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Vaccine progress is so slow

Three months into the vaccination effort, I was really hoping for a larger acceleration. But the State's vaccine dashboard is, frustratingly, reporting that the state is averaging just 200,000 doses administered per day.

At this rate, there are still 21 months of vaccination to go before the state is fully vaccinated.

So slow. So slow.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Super Mega Cranes!

I obviously wasn't paying attention three months ago, for I totally missed this news: Port of Oakland to Receive Three Giant New Container Cranes As Tall As 40-Story Buildings. My apologies, I was distracted. I'll try to pay more attention in the future!

But they're here, and they're real, and so here's a detailed follow-up report on the three new Super Mega Cranes that are now installed at the Port of Oakland: Watch a Timelapse Video of Those Three New Giant Cranes Go Up at the Port of Oakland

The three cranes, reportedly now the largest in North America, stand 442 feet tall and move with "greater efficiency" than the smaller models already at the Port. As we learned when they arrived, the cranes are capable of lifting containers up to 174 feet above the dock, and reach 225 feet across cargo ship decks. And the Port of Oakland needs these extra-large cranes to stay competitive, and to be able to offload containers from some of the ultra-large ships now floating around the world.

Forty-story construction projects in Oakland have become almost mundane over the last few years, as a huge residential housing boom in downtown Oakland has raised multiple such condominium towers. I suppose from the highest levels of these new towers, residents will have quite the view of the new cranes.

As the article observes, not only are the cranes getting bigger, but the container vessels are getting bigger, too: If You're Near the Bay Today You Can Watch One of the World's Largest Cargo Ships Carefully Steer Into Port

"The San Francisco Bay is one of the most challenging pilotage grounds in the world and safely piloting these huge ships requires expertise and significant training,” says Capt. Joseph Long, president of the San Francisco Bar Pilots Association, in a statement to KPIX.

In the list of large container ships traipsing the oceans, the MSC Anna ranks high among them — with the top 15 all measuring 400 meters in length, the same as the MSC Anna. The extra width and height of the ship make it an extra challenge for getting safely into the Bay and under two bridges, into port.

Don't miss the fun videos!

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Where are the CDC getting their numbers about Missouri COVID?

I don't understand why the CDC COVID Data Tracker is showing such strange numbers for Missouri.

Here's the map:

And here's the top of the numbers that are behind that map:

I've searched all around the Internet, and nobody else seems to be reporting that Missouri are recording 12,000 new cases a day.

But the other top states that I checked (California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, New York) seem to be matching the numbers that you can find on the state websites. (FWIW, here's the Missouri COVID dashboard, showing that they are currently getting appx 350 new cases per day, state wide.)

I'm puzzled: what's going on here?

UPDATE: Buried in a footnote on the CDC page, we find:

On 08 March 2021, Texas reported 1,295 and Missouri reported 81,806 historical counts of probable cases. This raised the total number of new cases in both Texas, Missouri, and the U.S. during on this day and correspondingly affects the 7-day rolling average of new cases. Without the inclusion of these probable cases in COVID Data Tracker for 08 March 2021, the resultant new cases in the United States on 08 March 2021 would be 41,237.

I guess I wasn't the only person who was puzzled.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Ocean Cleanup is going live!

I had somewhat lost track of The Ocean Cleanup, the ecologically-oriented organization founded by 18-year-old Dutch inventor Boyan Slat a decade ago. I had been paying closer attention to it for a few years because it was doing a lot of research and development from its Alameda, California research site.

So I was pleased to discover that they're continuing to make progress, and this winter they have begun deploying their cleanup machines in major rivers around the globe.

Today, we announced that we are partnering with Konecranes to handle manufacturing and series production of Interceptors in their MHE-Demag facilities in Malaysia – with two in production right now. Over the last year and a half, we have gained valuable insights into the Interceptor technology and, together with Konecranes’ MHE-Demag, we have made updates to the design that improve its operational and manufacturing efficiency.

According to the website, they will be deploying at least one River Interceptor here in California, somewhere in Los Angeles County, presumably on the Los Angeles River somewhere close to its mouth in Long Beach.

The Ocean Cleanup website has lots of great multi-media information about their projects, but I also really enjoyed this nice set of overhead shots from the Dailoy Overview website of the first River Interceptor in Klang, Malaysia. Check out the zoomed-in picture showing the catamaran filling up with plastic rubbish!

Friday, March 5, 2021

Vaccine Confusion

According to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker, the entire world is currently averaging about 7 million doses administered per day.

Approximately 2.2 million doses per day are being administered in the United States.

I don't understand how this can work, if the entire rest of the world isn't even managing 5 million doses administered per day.

Oh, dear.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Steady vaccine progress

Bloomberg reports an acceleration in doses administered as the winter travel conditions of mid-February abated:

The biggest gains came through this past weekend with a blockbuster three days of peak doses reported—2.2 million doses delivered on Friday and 2.4 million each on Saturday and Sunday. The push drove the seven-day average back to 1.6 million doses per day.

On Monday, the CDC reported 1.7 million doses administered.

Closer to home, it's beginning to seem almost routine to meet a neighbor and have them tell us that they've received one or even two doses. (Near my home, we have a lot of elderly neighbors, we are still among the young people in our area.)

Case loads still seem extremely high, but perhaps we don't expect those to drop immediately, as the vaccines continue to go to those who are most at risk of death, not those who are most commonly infected.

So hopefully we will soon begin to see an impact as hospitalization rates start to drop?

And then, since death rates are a 6-week trailing data point beyond hospitalization rates, we might see death rates start to drop by mid-April?

Something to hope for as the daffodils pop and the redbuds begin to send out their beautiful little pink flowers.