Tectonic Tuesday


Mam Tor, in the High Peak of Derbyshire near Castleton, by Wayne Brittle.

The Geological Society of London has announced the 12 winners of its photography competition. The chosen images represent the dynamic processes which have shaped the UK and Ireland over its tectonic history, from ancient volcanic activity to ice age glaciers. The pictures will feature in a free exhibition at the Geological Society to mark Earth Science Week, 7-15 October.


I figured some visual distraction was needed, this fits the bill. Den

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Uncorked Monday


Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker (R) blasted President Donald Trump in a scathing interview with The New York Times on Sunday, saying the “vast majority” of congressional Republicans were concerned with the president’s volatile behavior and that rhetoric from the White House could set America “on the path to World War III.”

During the interview ― an unprecedented assessment of the head of the senator’s own party ― Corker said Trump concerns him and that the president’s proclivity for Twitter tirades had “hurt” the country during times of negotiation.

“I know he has hurt, in several instances, he’s hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were underway by tweeting things out,” Corker said, adding that “everyone knows” the “president tweets out things that are not true.”


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Mooney Sunday

MOONLIT AURORAS: A minor stream of solar wind brushed Earth’s magnetic field on Oct. 7th. The resulting auroras were expected to be no match for the luminous Harvest Moon … except that they were. “What a display!” says Colin Palmer, who sends this picture from Tromso, Norway:

“Moonlit clouds framed the auroras very nicely,” he says. “The Moon was 94% illuminated, but lunar glare was not a problem.”

Tromso, Norway is just that kind of place. Located inside the Arctic Circle, almost directly underneath Earth’s auroral oval, Tromso and its residents witness flickering outbursts of Northern Lights even when no geomagnetic storm is underway. Minor solar wind streams can spark major displays. (Take that, Harvest Moon.)


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Arbitrary Saturday


Left to right; Perry Mason, the injured party, and Ms. Della Street.

A COALITION CONSISTING of the preeminent national business lobby, several financial services trade groups, and over a dozen business organizations in Texas have banded together — the way individuals might in a class-action lawsuit — to force the federal government to allow them to block class-action lawsuits.

Eighteen groups representing thousands of corporations and banks filed the lawsuit against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last Friday in federal court in Dallas. Oddly, they did not attempt to individually resolve the dispute through an arbitration process, which they’ve consistently said yields speedier and better results for those wronged. “Arbitration gives consumers the ability to bring claims that they could not realistically assert in court,” the lawsuit reads.

But for corporations, banding together in courts apparently presents a better option.

The plaintiffs want to overturn the CFPB’s arbitration rule, which would prevent companies from using clauses in financial contracts to force all customer complaints into individual arbitration rather than class-action lawsuits. They claim that the CFPB is unconstitutional, and that the analysis the bureau generated to help finalize the rule was flawed, while denying the companies their proper input. Plus, the arbitration rule harms the public interest, they claim, because “it precludes the use of a dispute resolution mechanism that generally benefits consumers (i.e., arbitration) in favor of one that typically does not (i.e., class-action litigation).”

So, really, they’re doing it for the consumers.

But the dispute resolution mechanism that allegedly doesn’t help ripped-off consumers is effectively the one they’re using.

@ TI

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Tunnel Vision Thursday


The tunnel was illuminated and ventilated and supported by wood and iron. Photograph: Marcelo Chello/REX/Shutterstock

Sixteen suspects were arrested at a warehouse on Monday night in the northern suburbs of the city where the gang stored tools to dig the tunnel and tracks to remove the money. Altogether, police say 20 members of the gang invested 200k Brazlian reais each – a total of 4m reais for the robbery. Police monitored the group for more than two months.

Authorities believe some suspects were involved with a 2011 robbery in Sao Paulo of 170 personal safes at a branch of the Itau bank. Lopes said members of the gang were not connected to the Fortaleza Central Bank heist, as had been reported in the Brazilian media.

The tunnel, which allegedly took four months to build, was illuminated and ventilated and supported by wood and iron. Police are looking for a woman who rented the house for the gang using false identity.

The robbery was allegedly planned for Friday or the weekend and seven stolen cars – found at the gang’s hideout – would have been used to transport the money.

Police named Alceu Céu Gomes Nogueira, 35, as the ringleader of the gang and they also accuse him of helping mastermind a huge robbery on a cash storage vault in Paraguay near the border of Brazil earlier this year, when thieves made off with some $13m (£9.8m) after using grenades, explosives and assault rifles. One police officer was killed.

@ TG

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Wavy Wednesday


Caltech physicists Barry Barish, left, and Kip Thorne celebrate their Nobel Prize for the LIGO experiment at a party at the university. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

THE WAY THE Nobel Committee tells it, the story of this year’s physics prize begins like a certain 1970s space opera.
“Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, two massive black holes engaged in a deadly dance,” said physicist and Nobel committee member Olga Botner at today’s prize announcement. The pair spiraled toward each other, colliding to form an even bigger black hole with a mass 62 times that of Earth’s sun. The impact shook the universe, generating ripples known as gravitational waves that warped the fabric of spacetime as they pulsed through.

By the time the collision’s reverberations reached Earth, they had quieted to a quiver. Some 1.3 billion years after that ferocious black hole do-si-do, physicists at two observatories in the US simultaneously detected a ripple as a tiny compression and expansion in length in their machines. This first detection of a gravitational wave took four decades of calculations, simulations, and engineering—and more than a billion dollars of US taxpayer money. Today, physicists Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish, and Kip Thorne won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the pioneering work that led to this discovery. They’ll split 9 million Swedish krona in prize money, or 1.1 million dollars; Weiss will receive half the prize while Barish and Thorne will split the other half.


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