Sunday Reading – 02/21/2021


The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

Gavin Newsom recall – An effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) was launched on June 10, 2020. Supporters have until March 17, 2021, to collect the 1,495,709 signatures needed to trigger a recall election. If supporters turn in enough valid signatures to trigger a recall election, the additional procedural steps dictate a recall election take place within 60 to 80 days of signature verification.

Recall supporters say Newsom mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to address the state’s homelessness rate, and supported sanctuary city policies and water rationing. In June 2020, Newsom said President Donald Trump‘s (R) supporters were behind the recall effort, which he also said would cost the state $81 million.

Newsom was elected as California’s governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote. Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a sitting California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was chosen as Davis’ replacement.

A recall election would present voters with two questions. The first would ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second would ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required. In the 2003 recall of Davis, 135 candidates ran and the winner received 48.58 percent of the vote. Read More > at BallotPedia

Recall collects 1.5 million signatures – The campaign to recall Newsom announced Friday, February 12, that it’s collected more than 1.5 million signatures, the amount necessary to trigger a recall election. Although only a portion of those signatures have been verified so far, the milestone suggests there’s a good chance Newsom could soon be facing the biggest political test of his career as the Republican National Committee and the California Republican Party pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into the recall campaign. Powerful Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have closed ranks around Newsom in recent weeks, with top state officials like Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and Treasurer Fiona Ma saying they wouldn’t throw their hats in the ring should the recall qualify.

Nevertheless, Democratic strategists say the party may have to consider putting another candidate on the ballot if they want to ensure a Republican doesn’t capture the gubernatorial seat. And speculation over who may run if the recall qualifies is already running wild: Amid swirling rumors, Caitlyn Jenner, a longtime Republican, announced last week that she does not plan to run for governor. Read More > at CalMatters

School Openings – Tensions ramp up – Top Democratic lawmakers dealt a political blow to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday by unveiling a school reopening package without his input — a move to which the governor did not take kindly.

The bold step suggests that Newsom and lawmakers have significantly different interpretations of what’s necessary to get kids back in the classroom, especially when it comes to vaccines. The package introduced by three Democratic Assemblymembers would require local public health departments to offer vaccines to on-site school employees, while Newsom’s plan, introduced in December, maintains vaccinations aren’t a prerequisite to reopening.

Lawmakers are planning to vote on the bill on Monday — which could force Newsom to choose between abandoning his own proposal or potentially slowing reopenings by vetoing the bill, CalMatters’ Ricardo Cano reports.

  • Assemblymember Phil Ting, a San Francisco Democrat, on the possibility of a joint deal“I don’t know — you’d have to talk to (Newsom). Our intention is to pass the bill on Monday.”
  • NewsomMy “plan is grounded in the same science that’s been recognized by the medical professionals at the (CDC), by … Dr. Fauci, and by the president himself. While the Legislature’s proposal represents a step in the right direction, it doesn’t go far enough or fast enough.”

The lawmakers’ proposal largely preserves the funding structure of Newsom’s original plan: $2 billion for reopening costs and $4.6 billion for learning loss. It calls on school districts, once they enter the red tier, to offer some sort of in-person instruction to K-6 students and older vulnerable students by April 15. If they don’t, they won’t receive full funding. Newsom had wanted elementary schools to reopen by Feb. 16, a plan rebuffed by districts, unions and lawmakers.

Meanwhile, tensions over school closures continue to grow. After a profanity-laced video surfaced Wednesday of a Bay Area school board president saying parents “want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back,” enraged residents began circulating a petition calling on board members to resign. Students and families infuriated by the San Francisco school board delaying a reopening vote held a protest Thursday in which they logged into remote classes outside closed campuses. In Los Angeles, some families are boycotting online classes altogether. Read More > at CalMatters 

California loosens rules for youth sports during pandemic – California public health officials on Friday loosened the rules for youth sports, allowing all outdoor sports to resume in counties where COVID-19 case rates are at or below 14 people per 100,000.

The new guidance clears the way for sports like baseball, softball, gymnastics and cheerleading to resume Feb. 26 for at least 27 counties, including places that are in the most restrictive tier of the state’s virus designations.

High-contact outdoor sports like football, basketball and rugby can also resume under that standard, but only if all coaches and players 13 and older get tested once a week. Test results must be available within 24 hours of competition. Read More > from the Associated Press

State Auditor Releases Scathing Audit of the Failure to Mitigate Homelessness in California – California State Auditor Elaine Howle recently released a rather scathing audit of the management or mismanagement of Homelessness in California. She said that the state continues to have the largest homeless population in the nation “likely in part because its approach to addressing homelessness has been disjointed.”

In her cover letter to the Governor, President pro Tempore of the Senate, and Speaker of the Assembly, Howle said “At least nine state agencies administer and oversee 41 different programs that provide funding to mitigate homelessness, yet no single entity oversees the State’s efforts or is responsible for developing a statewide strategic plan.”

The state’s plan to mitigate homelessness is not designed to achieve this, as the audit shows. Because if the 9 agencies and 41 different programs were, they would no longer be needed, the federal and state funding would dry up, and public employee union jobs would be lost. In California, no program ever sunsets.

“The State continues to lack a comprehensive understanding of its spending to address homelessness, the specific services the programs provide, or the individuals who receive those services.” Read More > at California Globe 

Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: A Tale of Two Revolutions – To put it in a nutshell. No Gutenberg, no Luther. No Luther, no Reformation. At one point, Luther (1483-1546) was publishing a book (more like a pamphlet) every three or four weeks. The advent of moveable type and the printing press (ca. 1440) made it possible for an obscure monk’s critique of late medieval Catholicism to travel all over Europe. The printing press made it relatively easy to disseminate the Bible, particularly the New Testament and the Psalms, more widely than ever before — by magnitudes.

It is no coincidence that just at that time Luther published his Bible in German (1522-1534) — thus essentially inventing the modern German language — and Erasmus of Rotterdam produced the first printed New Testament in Greek in 1516, the Reformation rocked European civilization to the core. Vernacular editions of the Bible soon became available in all the languages of Europe. In fact, the proliferation of vernacular Bibles helped break the hegemony of Latin as the language of theology and intellectual discourse — a language that only a tiny and well-educated percentage of the European population could read.

In 1823, just three years before his death, Thomas Jefferson explained to his old friend John Adams that the proliferation of inexpensive printing would help liberate oppressed peoples all over the world. If books can be smuggled into nations living under despotic rule, and people can see their natural rights articulated by individuals like John Locke or Voltaire, they will never rest until they have secured the blessings of liberty….

Now we are in the early adolescent phase of a more profound revolution, and it too is rocking the world. It’s hard for us to measure the disruption (though we can intuit it) and the revolutionary potency of digital communication. But it is clear that the Internet and social media are essential elements in the bewildering cultural and political wars of our time. Marshall McLuhan was right: In many respects, the medium is the message.

If you wanted to voice your political views or your discontentment with the state of things before 1995, you could write a letter to your local newspaper that would be scrutinized by a copy editor for civility, grammar, and diction, and whittled down to manageable size before ever appearing in print. If you wrote something incendiary or abusive, the editor would either throw your letter in the trash or call you on the telephone — back then you had to provide actual name, address and phone number to get a letter considered — and talk you down off the ledge of your strongest pronouncements.

Publishing your views to the world was, in short, tedious and time consuming, and if you wanted your opinions to reach the world through a “platform,” there was a gatekeeper to see to it that you played by basic rules of civility.

Today, if you want to voice your political views or your discontentment with the state of things, you sit down at your computer, choose your platform (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tik-Tok, your blog) and key in your perspective, whether it is brief (“Lock Her Up!”) or a 75-page manifesto….

We live in the first time in human history when everyone who has access to a laptop and the Internet can publish. No wonder it’s a little anarchic. The digital revolution has given everyone a printing press, a darkroom and a distribution network, at essentially no cost… Read More > at Governing  

California DMV warns 20 months of records may have been exposed – A ransomware attack on a company called Automatic Funds Transfer Services (AFTS) has had a ripple effect on customers. One of those is the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which has warned drivers in the state about a potential data breach.

The DMV told TechCrunch that the incident may have put at risk “the last 20 months of California vehicle registration records that contain names, addresses, license plate numbers and vehicle identification numbers.” AFTS, which the agency has used to verify changes of address since 2019, doesn’t have access to drivers’ other personal information. The social security numbers, birth dates, voter registration, immigration status and driver’s license details of DMV clients were not affected by the incident.

The agency, to which more than 35 million vehicles are registered, has secured an emergency contract with another vendor, so it shouldn’t have any downtime as a result of the attack. Reports last year indicated California’s DMV makes tens of millions of dollars by selling clients’ personal information to the likes of private investigators.

Hackers struck AFTS with ransomware earlier this month. Along with verifying addresses, the company processes payments and invoices for clients across the US. Other organizations say that the attack has impacted them and potentially compromised customer data. Read More > at Engadget 

How to prevent AI from taking over the world – Right now AI diagnoses cancer, decides whether you’ll get your next job, approves your mortgagesentences felonstrades on the stock market, populates your news feed, protects you from fraud and keeps you company when you’re feeling down.

Soon it will drive you to town, deciding along the way whether to swerve to avoid hitting a wayward fox. It will also tell you how to schedule your day, which career best suits your personality and even how many children to have.

And yet from the beginning AI has been dogged by huge concerns.

What if AI develops an intelligence far beyond our own? Stephen Hawking warned that “AI could develop a will of its own, a will that is in conflict with ours and which could destroy us.” We are all familiar with the typical plotline of dystopian sci-fi movies. An alien comes to Earth, we try to control it, and it all ends very badly. AI may be the alien intelligence already in our midst. 

…Finally, there is the problem of what happens if AI is too good at what it does. Its beguiling efficiency could seduce us into allowing it to make more and more of our decisions, until we “forget” how to make good decisions on our own, in much the way we rely on our smartphones to remember phone numbers and calculate tips. AI could lead us to abdicate what makes us human in the first place – our ability to take charge of and tell the stories of our own lives.

The best and most direct way to control AI is to ensure that its values are our values. By building human values into AI, we ensure that everything an AI does meets with our approval. But this is not simple. The so-called “Value Alignment Problem” – how to get AI to respect and conform to human values – is arguably the most important, if vexing, problem faced by AI developers today. Read More > at the New Statesman  

News Analysis: The tragedy of Dianne Feinstein – If Dianne Feinstein hadn’t lived the life she had, her story might be the product of a screenwriter’s over-fertile imagination.

The synopsis: After surviving an abusive childhood, Feinstein overcomes personal loss — she is widowed at age 45 — and repeated electoral defeat to become a pioneer for women in politics and powerful member of the U.S. Senate. Along the way she survives a mayoral recall effort, a brutal Senate reelection campaign, an attempted bombing of her home and a gruesome brush with death.

The opening scene: November 1978, San Francisco’s Beaux-Arts City Hall, where former Supervisor Dan White has just shot and killed Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Feinstein, who chairs the Board of Supervisors, rushes to Milk’s aid. She reaches for a pulse and plunges her finger in a bullet hole.

The closing scene: Deep into her ninth decade, Feinstein is no longer the politically revered figure she once was. There is talk of mental decline, of selfishly overstaying her time in office and calls for the Democrat to resign from the Senate for the good of her state and the country.

…Bipartisanship, which is to say working with people with whom you may have deep and stark disagreements, is widely disdained these days as a form of retreat and surrender. It is, however, at the core of what Feinstein has always been: a believer in deliberation and political decorum, in practicality and legislative pragmatism. “Compromise,” she has said to the derision of fellow Democrats, “is not a bad word.”

Today, Feinstein is a subject of scorn, considered by many a relic who is well past her prime, who refuses to yield to someone younger, more vibrant, more politically pugnacious and more reflective of California’s kaleidoscopic racial and ethnic diversity.

History, with its long view, is likely to be much kinder. Read More > in the Los Angeles Times

New wearable device turns the body into a battery – Researchers at CU Boulder have developed a new, low-cost wearable device that transforms the human body into a biological battery. 

The device, described today in the journal Science Advances, is stretchy enough that you can wear it like a ring, a bracelet or any other accessory that touches your skin. It also taps into a person’s natural heat—employing thermoelectric generators to convert the body’s internal temperature into electricity. 

“In the future, we want to be able to power your wearable electronics without having to include a battery,” said Jianliang Xiao, senior author of the new paper and an associate professor in the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering at CU Boulder. 

The concept may sound like something out of The Matrix film series, in which a race of robots have enslaved humans to harvest their precious organic energy. Xiao and his colleagues aren’t that ambitious: Their devices can generate about 1 volt of energy for every square centimeter of skin space—less voltage per area than what most existing batteries provide but still enough to power electronics like watches or fitness trackers. Read More > CU Boulder Today

Bill Gates roasted for saying rich countries should eat ‘100% synthetic beef’ – Some people on Twitter have beef with Bill Gates again.

The Microsoft founder-turned-global health philanthropist discusses ways to tackle climate change in his new book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need,” which hit shelves on Tuesday. And among his calls to action: switching to synthetic beef to reduce methane emissions, aka the gases that cattle and sheep release when they belch or pass gas.

While Burger King has experimented with adding lemongrass to the diet of some of its beef herd to limit the methane emissions that contribute to climate change, and researchers are feeding seaweed to cattle in Maine and New Hampshire in another attempt to cut down the methane these herds release, it’s simply a biologic fact of life that the bacteria in the digestive tracts of livestock releases methane as it breaks down food. “I don’t know if there’ll be some natural approach there,” Gates said.

His solution: the richest countries should hold the beef, period, and switch to plant-based or synthetic proteins.

“I do think all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef,” Gates told Technology Review. “You can get used to the taste difference, and the claim is they’re going to make it taste even better over time. Eventually, that green premium is modest enough that you can sort of change the [behavior of] people or use regulation to totally shift the demand.” Read More > at Market Watch

Ending Elon Musk’s Renewable Energy Credits Racket – Government assistance was once reserved for the needy. Today, the government assists the incredibly affluent, a word that inadequately describes a man like Elon Musk, who is now the wealthiest single individual in the world. His current net worth of approximately $185 billion exceeds that of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos – who differs from Musk in that he makes his money selling stuff that people want to buy.

The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted how members of Congress and industry stakeholders are up in arms over SpaceX’s recent request for nearly $1 billion in federal subsidies. But beyond general subsidies, Musk also amasses significant sums each year from government mandates that effectively coerce his competitors into buying what he’s selling.

What they’re buying isn’t electric cars, as many people mistakenly believe, but rather government credits others amassed for building them. 

Mr. Musk sells these renewable energy credits (RECs) to other car companies that have little choice but to buy the credits or build electric cars themselves to comply with government mandates pertaining to “zero emissions” vehicles, a standard that only electric vehicles meet. Even though they are only “zero emissions” if one doesn’t consider the emissions produced during their manufacture, or via the utility plants that power these energy hogs. Read More > at Real Clear Energy 

The Narrative is Overshadowing Truth in the Texas Energy Crisis – From those who oppose the green new deal, the situation in Texas is caused by wind turbines freezing over in West Texas. The Texas energy market has gone crazy for turbines and they cover West Texas like tumbleweed. They froze up and could not produce energy. Those that did not freeze up were running at efficiency rates of about 5%.

From those who support the green new deal, including much of the mainstream media, the wind turbines had nothing to do with the problem. The fossil fuel and nuclear power generation facilities froze over. Valves, coal stacks, pumps, and other equipment froze. Natural gas pressure cratered. We should stop blaming the turbines. In fact, if you followed some reporters online or news stories, you’d think the wind turbines had nothing to do with the problem.

The truth is actually more complex and the truth has a lot to do with Texas’s pursuit of renewable energy.

Put simply, renewable energy is so heavily subsidized by the federal government, energy companies have no financial incentive to expand baseload capacity from fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Not only that, but the wind and solar farms do not have to pay to maintain the reliability of the system like fossil fuel operators do. In other words, there is no ramp up obligation for wind and solar in part because they can’t and they have no incentive to install technology to store their excess power for times the grid needs it. Read More > at Erick-Woods Erickson, EE Show

This Blizzard Exposes The Perils Of Attempting To ‘Electrify Everything’ – The massive blast of Siberia-like cold that is wreaking havoc across North America is proving that if we humans want to keep surviving frigid winters, we are going to have to keep burning natural gas — and lots of it — for decades to come.

That cold reality contradicts the “electrify everything” scenario that’s being promoted by climate change activists, politicians, and academics. They claim that to avert the possibility of catastrophic climate change, we must stop burning hydrocarbons and convert all of our transportation, residential, commercial, and industrial systems so that they are powered solely on electricity, with most of that juice coming, of course, from forests of wind turbines and oceans of solar panels. 

This blizzard proves that attempting to electrify everything would be the opposite of anti-fragile. Rather than make our networks and critical systems more resilient and less vulnerable to disruptions caused by extreme weather, bad actors, falling trees, or simple negligence, electrifying everything would concentrate our dependence on a single network, the electric grid, and in doing so make nearly every aspect of our society prone to catastrophic failure if — or rather, when — a widespread or extended blackout occurs.

This blizzard proves that during extreme weather winter, solar panels and wind turbines are of little or no value to the electric grid.

This blizzard proves that our natural gas grid is part of our critical infrastructure and that we shut it down at our peril. The natural gas network is essential because it can deliver big surges in energy supplies during periods of peak demand. In January 2019, U.S. natural gas demand set a record of 145 billion cubic feet per day. That record will be smashed during this blizzard, and daily volumes will exceed 150 Bcf. That is an enormous amount of energy. In fact, on the coldest days of winter, the amount of energy delivered by the gas grid is roughly three times as great as the energy consumed during the hottest days of the summer.  Read More > at Forbes

Illegal pot grow? Antifa? Rumors swirl about Creek Fire cause, but officials’ lips sealed – Six months since the start of the biggest single wildfire in California history, investigators still don’t know what caused it.

The Creek Fire began burning on Sept. 4 around 6:30 p.m. in the Big Creek drainage, in the forest wedged between Shaver and Huntington Lakes. It quickly raced through both lakes, Mammoth Pool and the San Joaquin River Canyon, burning a total of 379,895 acres before fire managers declared full containment on Dec. 24.

Answers to the fire’s mysterious cause remain beyond reach.

The U.S. Forest Service, which is in charge of the investigation, has declined to rule out any causes or provide a timeline for wrapping up the probe.

Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magisg, who oversees that area, said he receives multiple calls and emails a week inquiring about the fire’s cause.

Magsig said speculation around the cause includes unsubstantiated theories about an escaped campfire near Camp Sierra, arson at the hands of anti-fascist protesters, and a law enforcement operation eradicating an illegal marijuana garden around Big Creek that got out of control.

He said, to date, there has been no evidence to support any of these theories.

The fire ruined a total of 853 structures, the bulk of which were single-family homes, according to the Forest Service. It also damaged 64 structures, including 34 houses.

In total, Olow said fire suppression cost just under $200 million. Adding on property damage, Magsig said the fire cost upwards of $500 million. Read More > in the Fresno Bee

Housing costs key factor – Goodbye, Silicon Valley. Hello, Silicon Slopes.

The tech hubs of San Francisco and San Jose fell precipitously in this year’s ranking of U.S. cities’ economic performance released Wednesday morning by the Milken Institute, a nonpartisan think tank that’s published the index every year since 1999. San Francisco and San Jose, which ranked Nos. 1 and 5 last year, respectively, fell to Nos. 24 and 22. Meanwhile, the Provo-Orem region in Utah captured the No. 1 spot, and Salt Lake City rose to No. 4. Utah, the report notes, “has been a recipient of the tech sector’s out-migration from the more expensive coastal cities of California,” attracting companies like Qualtrics, Vivint and SmartCitizen.

The report — which ranked cities based on jobs, wages, high-tech growth, housing affordability and household broadband access — found that the pandemic’s shift to remote work has likely affected California more than any other state. With companies like Salesforce, Twitter, Square, Dropbox, Yelp and Pinterest permitting most employees to permanently work from home, downtown San Francisco is reeling. And Silicon Valley companies Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Oracle recently decamped to Texas, though Google is still planning to expand its offices in San Jose and San Francisco.

  • Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics:“The pandemic has had an outsized impact on cities where the economic effects of the current recession are exacerbated by high housing costs.”

Of the 10 cities that saw the biggest drop in rankings, three were in California: Salinas, Santa Cruz and Oakland. The report attributed this partly to “extremely high housing costs” due to their proximity to the San Francisco Bay Area, noting that many residents don’t have “jobs and salaries in high-tech industries to compensate for high costs of living.”

But costs can even be prohibitive for those who do. After CJ Paillant, a product manager for a Silicon Valley software company, lost his job early in the pandemic, his $5,400 monthly rent payments began piling up. He and his roommate now owe $43,805 in rent, CalMatters’ Laurence Du Sault reports.

  • Paillant“I got stuck in my luxury apartment. Now I’ve got to raise this money. My life feels like a movie.” Read More > at CalMatters

Pigs can play video games with their snouts, scientists find – Four pigs – Hamlet, Omelette, Ebony and Ivory – were trained to use an arcade-style joystick to steer an on-screen cursor into walls.

Researchers said the fact that the pigs understood the connection between the stick and the game “is no small feat”.

And the pigs even continued playing when the food reward dispenser broke – apparently for the social contact.

Usually, the pigs would be given a food pellet for “winning” the game level. But during testing, it broke – and they kept clearing the game levels when encouraged by some of the researchers’ kind words.

The research team also thought that the fact the pigs could play video games at all – since they are far-sighted animals with no hands or thumbs – was “remarkable”. Read More > in the BBC

In Nevada, Tech Companies Could Soon Establish Their Own Local Governments – Large tech companies would have the ability to effectively create their own governments under legislation expected to be proposed in the Nevada State Legislature.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has obtained a copy of draft language on so-called “Innovation Zones.” The idea was first articulated by Gov. Steve Sisolak in his State of the State address last month.

These zones would first operate under the jurisdiction of the county in which they are located. But eventually, the tech companies could form their own three-member Board of Supervisors. They would have the power to tax, to form school districts, and to offer a range of other services typically provided by local governments.

The existing local government model is “inadequate alone to provide the flexibility and resources conducive to making the State a leader in attracting and retaining new forms and types of businesses in fostering economic development in emerging technologies and innovative industries,” the draft proposal says.

Blockchains, LLC has already expressed a desire to establish its own “smart city” in Nevada and would likely be among the first if legislation is approved. Read More > at California City News 

Once again, the Olympics are being used to obscure human rights violations. Will the IOC finally take a stand? – …The 2022 Winter Games in Beijing are even more concerning, given China’s appalling human rights record against dissenters and religious minorities. Last week, yet another well-sourced article was published about the abuses against the Muslim Uighurs in a complex of prisons and re-education camps that have, by some estimates, swallowed up a million people. This time, the accusation is of systemic rape and forced sterilization.

New U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called the abuses against ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang province genocide, echoing his predecessor Mike Pompeo. 

Early this month, 180 human rights groups called for a boycott of the 2022 Olympics in response to IOC’s inaction. 

Because, as ever, the IOC has looked away. Even though China gave it assurances that it would improve its human rights record when it was awarded the 2008 Summer Olympics, also in Beijing. Instead, China cracked down harder than ever.

The IOC could take a stand. The IOC must take a stand. Read More > at Yahoo! Sports

Dinosaur-Killing Impact Came From Edge Of Solar System, New Theory Suggests – For decades, the prevailing theory about the extinction of the dinosaurs was that an asteroid from the belt between Mars and Jupiter slammed into the planet, causing cataclysmic devastation that wiped out most life on the planet.

But new research out of Harvard University theorizes that the Armageddon-causing object came from much farther out than originally believed.

According to this new theory, the devastation came not from a relatively nearby asteroid, but from a sort of long-distance comet that came from the edge of the solar system in an area known as the Oort cloud.

The gravity from Jupiter pulled the comet into the solar system. At that point, according to Amir Siraj, a Harvard student who co-authored the paper with Professor Avi Loeb, “Jupiter acts as a kind of pinball machine.”

The theory goes: Jupiter’s gravity shot this incoming comet into an orbit that brought it very close to the sun, whose tidal forces caused the comet to break apart. Some of the comet’s fragments entered Earth’s orbit, and one — 50 miles across, roughly the size of Boston — slammed into the coast of Mexico. Read More > at NPR

Twitter nets $1.14 billion loss for 2020 – Twitter’s net income for 2020 was down $1.14 billion as compared to 2019, the company announced Wednesday.

“2020 net loss was $1.14 billion, representing a net margin of -31 percent and diluted EPS [earnings per share] of -$1.44,” a company statement reads, in part. “This compares to 2019 net income of $1.47 billion, representing a net margin of 42 percent and diluted EPS of $1.87.”

Twitter reported a 19% increase in costs and expenses, with total revenue of $3.72 billion. The company also had tax-related adjustments. Read More > at Disrn

About Kevin

Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-UPI, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Trustee RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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