Uber Tides

Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.
–Warren Buffett

“Miami is going to flood tonight,” my alarmist friend Annabelle Proctor said. “It’s proof of Global Warming!” Ashley’s mother is a retired state employee and adjunct instructor with an undergraduate degree in dance from Bennington College and a graduate degree in Social Justice from Planet Marlboro, Vermont’s two most liberal and free-thinking schools.

And her consternation is partly accurate. The high tides this week are higher than I’ve ever seen ever before. Ever in my lifetime! That means in forever!

Tides are interesting. A spring tide is a common historical term that has nothing to do with the Vernal season. “The term derives from the concept of the tide ‘springing forth.’ Spring tides occur twice each lunar month all year long without regard to the season. Neap tides, which also occur twice a month, happen when the sun and moon are at right angles to each other.”

Supermoon 2016A spring tide conjoined with a Supermoon is worth writing home about. When a full moon is the closest it ever gets to Earth — at perigee — it seems bigger and brighter than usual. We’re seeing the biggest and brightest full moon since 1948.

Yeppers, must be Global Warming.

Lake Champlain water levels approached but didn’t quite hit a “record all time low.” The last time the water level was this low was over a century ago. That follows on the heels of a 100-year high set when Lake Champlain crested at 103.2′ in May, 2011, shattering the previous record high level in May of 1869

Contemporaneous quotes: “The lake is lower than I’ve ever seen ever before. Ever in my lifetime!” “The lake is higher than I’ve ever seen ever before. Ever in my lifetime! That means in forever!” Well, of course it is. Not many of us have been around for a century or more.

Yeppers, must be that Global Warming.

Yet another slow moving storm system is bringing rain, wind, and accumulating mountain snow to most of the Pacific Northwet and the northern Rockies for the first part of the week. And that eastern Cold Front that had mostly moved into the Atlantic has backed up a bit so it’s now curving from Lake Okeechobee up to a Low right over the Outer Banks. Lot of rain over eastern North Carolina right now. They need it.

And NOAA predicts minor coastal flooding of low-lying areas here in South Puffin.

* Coastal flooding…elevated saltwater levels tonight will result in nuisance tidal flooding of low-lying areas throughout the Florida Keys.
* Timing…saltwater levels will peak near the time of the higher high tide early tonight…and again at the next higher high tide mainly between 7 p.m. and midnight. Saltwater levels will likely remain elevated Monday through at least Thursday.
* Impacts…minor tidal flooding of low elevation streets and lots is likely. Some storm drains will overflow…and some docks and seawalls will be overtopped.

It was a cool 76°F with plenty of black bottomed clouds here in South Puffin this morning but the clouds have already burned off so it is mostly sunny now. Our sea walls are about five feet above sea level so I doubt they will be overtopped. Tomorrow’s rain may exacerbate it, so I figure the Inch Beach lawn will be awash again. It drains back very quickly and the grass is very salt tolerant.

The tide was very high when I shot the moon last night and it got my feet wet when I walked along the beach.

Yeppers, must be that oh-so-political Global Warming. Or maybe we should take a longer view than your lifetime or mine.


Sum Oblitus

I told SWMBO yesterday, “I’ll write about a new Alzheimer’s drug test on an old, old drug on the Ides of August.” If I remember.

As an aside, Shakespear taught us that the Scottish king Duncan died on this day in 1040, and the namesake of the Scottish play died exactly 17 years in 1057. That has absolutely nothing to do with mice nor men nor memory other than the fact that I am very glad to have remembered it.

Memory is not easy for some of us as we age.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. It’s a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.

It’s not just our memories it kills. It kills us. The advanced dementia impairs immune function and causes an inability to ambulate as well as incontinence and aspiration so many individuals with advanced AD contract deadly “intercurrent infections,” usually pneumonia.

Alzheimer’s Research Finds an Old, Old NSAID Reverses Memory Problems in Mice

Mouse with a Pill Researchers at the University of Manchester have found that giving mice mefenamic acid totally reverses memory loss within a month. Their data suggests that the fenamate non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) could be relabelled as Alzheimer’s Disease therapeutics. They published the study in the journal Nature Communications last week.

Scientists at Parke-Davis invented mefenamic acid in 1961. The U.S. patent was issued in 1964. The drug is long since generic and is available worldwide under many brand names including “Ponstel.” Doctors generally use it to treat moderate pain and it is well tolerated for post-surgical pain but it is not widely prescribed.

Oh. One might think that a widely available generic drug would be affordable!

According to goodRX.com, a month’s worth of brand-name Ponstel sells for $819.57 at Walgreens and $777.26 at Rite-Aid but the generic sells for $203.72 at Walgreens and $216.45 at Rite-Aid. With a coupon. Wikipedia reports that, in the USA, wholesale price of a week’s supply of generic mefenamic acid was quoted as $426.90 in 2014. Ponstel cost $571.70. In contrast, in the UK, a week’s supply is £1.66, or £8.17 for the branded Ponstan. In the Philippines, 10 tablets of 500 mg generic mefenamic acid cost PHP39.00 (or the equivalent of $0.88USD) as of October 25, 2014.

And therein lies the rub. Mefenamic acid costs practically nothing to manufacture but price gouging here means that, if it does prove out as an Alzheimer’s drug, we won’t be able to afford it.

I think we should march on Washington about this pricing. We’ll meet a million-strong at the National Mall on Tuesday at noon. If we remember.


Dead Sea Salt Scrub

“Last year I got talked into purchasing a jar of authentic Dead Sea salt scrub,” my friend Liz Arden confessed at a potluck dinner the other night.

Greta Bruhl was entranced. “I read that Dead Sea salt outperforms Alba Botanica [a bath emollient] as a sunscreen,” she said. Greta is the daughter of my good friend, retired newspaper editor Lee Bruhl.

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.
It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
–Mark Twain

Ashley Proctor brought a special new salt to the potluck. “It’s organic!” she said, happily.

Paul “Buster” Door, a former North Puffin car dealer and Democratic party official, says he can taste the difference.


Morton Salt GirlOrganic? Health benefits?

While it is true that a nice mineral coating on your skin does reflect sunlight, I couldn’t find any minerals in Alba Botanica Mineral Sunscreen. None. Alba Botanica proudly offers “100% vegetarian personal care products” that contain isopropyl palmitate, glyceryl stearate SE, steareth-2, dimethicone, trimethylsiloxysilicate, glyceryl stearate, stearic acid, methyl glyceth-20, cetyl phosphate, allantoin, phenoxyethanol, benzyl alcohol, and potassium sorbate. Not a mineral in sight. Potassium sorbate is the potassium salt of sorbic acid but it and allantoin are in there in minute quantities, probably to inhibit mold or repel mosquitoes.

A mineral is a “naturally occurring, homogeneous inorganic solid substance having a characteristic crystalline structure, color, and hardness.” Inorganic elements such as calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, and zinc are well known examples.

Organic and inorganic compounds form the basis for chemistry and it’s fairly easy to tell them apart. The primary difference between them is that organic compounds always contain carbon; most inorganic compounds don’t. Table sugar, ethanol, and cholesterol with its linked hydrocarbon rings are all organic. Salts, metals, salts, the battery in your smartphone, salts, and all substances except diamonds made from single elements are inorganic.

Maybe she meant it’s organic food! Organic foods are produced without the usual pesticides and fertilizers used in farming. Typically, organic food processing also doesn’t use radiation, industrial solvents, or synthetic food additives.

Organic Chemistry? Nupe. Common table or sea salt is Sodium Chloride with the chemical symbol NaCl. No carbon.

Organic Food? Nupe. It’s been a while since I was in a salt mine, so maybe things have changed but I’m pretty sure they don’t need pesticides, fertilizers, radiation, solvents, or food additives to pull rocks out of the ground or out of sea water.

People are sooooooooooooo gullible.


Guest Post: Mercury Rising

Mercury once again began transitting between the Earth and sun after dawn this morning. It appeared as a tiny silhouetted dot against the sun.

I was short on time so all I did was set up my “PST” (a 40mm aperture Personal Solar Telescope.) It has a narrowband hydrogen alpha filter which allows you to see prominences.

NASA Image: Satellites to See Mercury Enter Spotlight on May 9So I saw the tiny dot — a little bigger than I expected — about halfway across the face of the sun.

What was more interesting is that there were no prominences I could see, nor did I see much in the way of sunspots. Solar activity is the lowest today that I have ever seen. In point of fact, this is simply anecdotal reporting because I don’t regularly observe the sun, but I do have that PST and I do use it occasionally.

Maybe I should study the sun. One thing I am sure of (and there is data to back me up): Solar activity is down since the turn of the millenium.

Activity was quite high in the 90s. We saw aurorae as far south as Texas back then. And I sunburned like crazy in the ’90s and even 80’s. The current status is nothing like that. By the way, there also hasn’t been any significant global warming since solar activity slacked off.

Gee… could there be a connection?

–Bob Post

Climate Scientists, the Phrenologists of 2016

Sometimes I suffer from low blood pressure; I often use the Science Friday podcast to bring it back up to normal. [For the record, SWMBO says I use it to see if I can get the sphygmomanometer to pop the bulb at the top of the column.]

The bumps on my head don’t explain that, either.

Two ‘casts from December got my attention: Do Scientists Have the Duty to Speak Out? and Why Science Needs Failure to Succeed. Each focused on a new book:

In the first, Naomi Oreskes spreads more disinformation and name calling in the name of a (carbon) tax and “sensible regulations” than good science. Host Ira Flatow1 asks if the slogan, “If you see something, say something,” applies to scientists. “If they see a risk to the planet, for example, should they say something about it?” he wondered. In her book Merchants of Doubt,2 Ms. Oreskes “says some scientists undersell the conclusions of their work, and this ‘scientific conservatism has led to under-estimation of climate-related changes’.”


The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Al Gore said, underestimating the issue and the wealth to be looted.

The very same day, Mr. Flatow interviewed Stuart Firestein about his new book, Failure: Why Science Is So Successful,3 the neuroscientist “makes a case for science as ‘less of an edifice built on great and imponderable pillars, and more as a quite normal human activity’.” His point “one must try to fail” reminds us that “real science is a revision in progress, always. It proceeds in fits and starts of ignorance.”

The political scientists leading the AGW charge will not admit contrary data.

Phrenologists thought their science was immutable, too.

Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited.
— Ambrose Bierce
Science is uncertain. Theories are subject to revision; observations are open to a variety of interpretations, and scientists quarrel amongst themselves. This is disillusioning for those untrained in the scientific method, who thus turn to the rigid certainty of the Bible instead. There is something comfortable about a view that allows for no deviation and that spares you the painful necessity of having to think.
— Isaac Asimov
In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.
— Carl Sagan

In 2014’s We Only Have 500 Days Left to Avoid Climate Chaos! I discussed the fact that climate “science” today is a Harris poll and the way the Far Green consortium has distorted real science with their religious insistence that their science is right and fixed. Their purpose is to keep the Green flowing. The green research dollars. The green investment dollars. The green tax dollars.

Science requires a comfort with being wrong, a tolerance for failure, Mr. Firestein reminded us. But political Climate Scientists have a bible that cannot fail and is never contradictable.

And that, dear friends, is why our political Climate Scientists are the Phrenologists of the 21st Century.

1 Mr. Flatow is well-known for his statement that “the science is fixed” over all anthropogenic global warming.
2 Ms. Oreskes received her Bachelor of Science in mining geology from the Royal School of Mines of Imperial College, University of London and earned her PhD from the Graduate Special Program in Geological Research and History of Science at Stanford. She is the author of or has contributed to a number of respected essays and technical reports in economic geology.
3 Stuart J. Firestein, PhD, chairs the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University where his lab researches the vertebrate olfactory receptor neuron and where he teaches neuroscience. He does accept AGW but recognizes that “uncertainty is a dirty word” in the argument.