Things I have heard on the news Lately

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Wednesday Thoughts

News Hours and Science related Articles

Our alarm clock in the bedroom is the radio, cellphones are banned in there. We listen to the local NPR station, WNYC, which is a good way to wake up, you usually get riled up, but other times it can be depressing. Other than that that I get updates from Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN. I get other updates too, from sources like the Atlantic, Science Magazine, Wired among a lot of others. I don’t read these sources everyday, I would never have time. Sometimes Facebook spits out article after article, and on top of that my friends share article after article. Most of my friends are science oriented, so the articles that pop up are articles that gear towards nature and climate, but of course articles about all of the worlds problems. Instead I save articles, save them on Facebook, save them in my bookmarks, because maybe later today i will have time to read them. I could probably read article after article for several years now. Most of the times they will be saved and forgotten. At one point I thought about sharing what I had read or heard on the radio, but then I forgot about that too. But here we are and I was thinking about sharing some of the news I have read and heard about these past couple of weeks, maybe there will be an even older article too.

  1. Tetanus. You probably didn’t miss this story, the story about the 6 year old boy from Oregon who got tetanus after he fell and got a cut on his forehead at the family farm. I guess I never quite understood what tetanus mean in reality, even though the Swedish word for it gives it away, stiff cramp. This 6 year old boy had not been vaccinated for tetanus, this is something that the doctor usually give you anyway when you come in to the hospital if they suspect you might be at risk for tetanus, and haven’t received a booster. It is rare that people aren’t vaccinated against tetanus, even though there are a growing number of individuals who choose to not vaccinate their kids against anything. The parents took care of the cut at home, and it wasn’t until six days later he actually arrived at the hospital. This boy had to spend a total of 57 days in the hospital. He had to stay a large portion of those days in a dark room with earplugs and with little to no stimulation, in order to decrease the cramps that light and noise would trigger. The hospital bill came out to about 800,000$. I think the worst part about this story is that even though this boy had to stay 57 days in the hospital and recovery, with brutal muscle spasms fighting for his life, the parents still chose to not go through with the whole series of vaccinations. Which mean that the boy still is not immune to tetanus and can get it again. You can read more about for instance here.

  2. Measles. While we are on the subject of vaccination, we might as well go into the story of the measles outbreak in the US. Unlike tetanus, you will get immune to measles, if you obtain measles, well if you survive. The current measles outbreak in New York is centered in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where 158 people have been sickened, out of which 137 are children. If you google measles outbreak in the US, you will find plenty of years before this year where the US had a measles outbreak. One additional factor that is fueling the measles outbreak, here in New York, is an ultra-orthodox hotline which is serving as a hub for mothers resistant to vaccinating their kids. You can hear an excerpt of the hotline from this link. It is thought that the measles outbreak in Brooklyn, New York stems from travelers visiting Israel where measles are currently on the rise. This is again a story about people being against vaccination, the so called anti-vaxxers. Even though there is nothing that ties anti-vaccination to the orthodox religion in itself, it is thought that maybe this hotline, as I mentioned above, is one of the main reasons? Did you know that the World Health Organization has put Vaccine Hesitancy on the list of Ten Threats to Global Health in 2019?

  3. “Illusion of explanatory depth” - Why Facts Don’t Change our Minds. I think it was after Trump got elected and all of the following events that I stumbled on to this article. It covers a couple of psychological studies, from across the country. What they all conclude is that humans often refuse to accept other peoples opinions or ideas, something that probably dates back to the cave age, or the evolutionary theory of “the fittest will survive”. At the same time we are relying on other peoples knowledge in our every day life, to the point that it is hard to understand where one person’s knowledge starts and another person’s knowledge comes in. The result of this is that people think they know more, than what they actually do. I think it is a fitting article to share after the two previous points about tetanus and measles. You can read the full article here.

  4. “Florida Shuffle” - How Rehab Recruiters are exploiting Drug Addicts. I heard a crazy story on the radio, which I later googled and found an article about from last year (2018), and then the Mother Jones article they talked about on the radio. I am pretty sure no one has missed the opioid crisis currently going on in the US. The latest in the crisis are “patient brokers” that recruit addicts from the street, from anonymous narcotics, even from rehabs themselves, to go to specific rehabs (as long as they have insurance that will cover the stay). These brokers will pay them money to go to a specific rehab, and then keep paying the addict to continue to stay. Once the rehab is over the addict has money to buy more drugs. This “patient broker” would even pay for the drug addicts stay at hotels and provide drugs in between stays at different rehabs, since you have to have some type of drug in your system to be admitted to a rehab. These brokers are often themselves current or former drug users. This is of course an organized insurance fraud, a fraud by the rehabs themselves filling up otherwise empty beds and rooms. The money they earn on the addicts insurance is partially used to pay the brokers.

  5. White House Economic Team interns. Who knows how these interns made the list and who wrote up the list of the interns, but here they are, from the Economic Report of the President, p 624:

    1. Steve Rogers (a.k.a. Captain America)

    2. Peter Parker (Spider-Man)

    3. Bruce Wayne (Batman)

    4. Aunt May (Peter Parker’s guardian)

    5. J. T. Hutt (a superfan abbreviation for Jabba the Hutt, the “Star Wars” gangster who hangs a frozen Han Solo on his wall)

    6. John Cleese

    7. Kathryn Janeway (a “Star Trek” captain)

    8. John Snow (or should it be Jon Snow?)

Posted on March 20, 2019 and filed under Science, Wednesday Thoughts.

Forgotten Memories

Flashback Friday

Mount Prindle - July 2010

The Analogy Between Hotel Ratings and Hiking Ratings

It takes almost two hours to get to Mt. Prindle parking lot from Fairbanks. Most of the hikes you do around Fairbanks sets you on a journey of at least 1 hour in any direction. This summer I went with a couple of friends from the university. We all wanted to explore and see everything Alaska had to offer. We started early in the morning from Fairbanks, and got to the parking lot with plenty of time before lunch. The parking lot is also a campground, but this is not where we camped. Doing Mount Prindle takes at least two days, well depending on how fast you want to hike I guess. We just wanted to get out there. There is a stream crossing right off the bat, and most of the trail overall is kind of soggy, so we decided to go with the Tevas for the trek in. If there has been a lot of rain leading up to the hike, people sometimes can’t even start the hike because the stream crossing is just too dangerous.

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It’s a 19 mile return trip, and about 8400 feet in total elevation change, and the hike is marked as difficult. I once had a climber friend who said that climbing routes and their grades are almost like hotel reviews, I wonder if hiking routes could be consider that as well. Not to say that this hike was anything easy. I think that these ratings are rightful, it also makes you think an extra time before taking on the hike. Mostly I think these ratings are because of the possibility of weather changes, lack of water to drink and in this case also some stream crossings that can be very hard to do if there has been a lot of rain the past few days. Also you are in bear country too so another thing to remember. It’s about 6 miles if I remember correctly to the place where we ended up camping. There is a creek flowing fairly nearby and you have a panorama view of the tors.

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Camping and Moments of Joy

You are not allowed to camp in certain areas around here, so always good to check online, at BLM, exactly where you are and where you are not allowed to camp. We had arrived so early, it was only lunch time, so we set up our tents, had some food and then we went on a short hike to get a first taste of the tors. We goofed around on the tors and enjoyed the view. Later in the evening we had good food and s’mores and other candy for desert. Hot chocolate was also consumed after dinner.

I don’t remember there being a spectacular sunset, or sunrise either for that matter. But also, back then I wasn’t so used to taking photos, and also was better at soaking up the moment itself, instead of being busy taking an awesome photo. It’s a balance, a balance between being too caught up in photography and enjoying the moment. This is your moment, don’t loose it by being too caught up in taking a perfect photo. I often struggle with that balance.

Dall Sheep and the Everlasting Question: to Conquer or not to Conquer?

The next day I woke up by a noise, something was definitely outside the tent. Something was munching on grass right next to my ear. I glanced through the mosquito mesh next to my head and saw a white creature, a Dall sheep. These sheep didn’t seem too scared of us but held themselves to a greater distance after we all got up for breakfast. I think there most have been 20 or so of them in total. Later on we could see plenty of them on the hillside farther away from our campsite.

Today we set our goal to conquer the tors. We were six people, and while three of us hung back at a slower pace, the other three were long gone. It’s not the end destination that is the goal for many hikes, it’s the hike itself. That is another thing that people sometimes have a hard time with, or just have a different opinion about. It’s cool and so on to conquer mountains, but the trip there is what makes it worth it. Aren’t you most interested in the hike to the summit, rather than the summit? Oh well. I guess I am secretly excited about the summit as well. These tors are like something taken out of Mordor, or at least that is what I think the look like.

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Mordors Nest, Periglacial-Glacial Landforms, and Solifluction Lobes

This specific area has such an interesting mix of cold-climate processes, something that is a bit rare in this region. A lot of the interior of Alaska was not glaciated during the most recent glaciation, but the area around Mount Prindle had isolated glaciers. You’ll see leftover moraines as you look around towards the foothills of the mountains, and on the ridge line of Mount Prindle you’ll see the characteristic tors. On the sides of the mountains you can see these half moon shaped (Solifluction Lobes) masses slowly making their way down from the mountains towards the valley. These landforms are the result of thawing permafrost.

We spent several hours up on the ridge line and the tors. We climbed around, took photos and had a good time. All the photos of me are taken by my friend Amy. The hike is not hard if you spend the night in the area, what often makes this hike hard is the constant weather changes. We had rain and a cloudy sky during part of our hike, but we were also lucky enough to have some blue sky peeking out from time to time.

Have you done any hiking that you will always remember?

If I Can Make it Here I Can Make It Anywhere

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Noise is always loud, there are sirens all around and the streets are mean
If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere that’s what they say
Seeing my face in lights or my name in marquees found down on Broadway

Even if it ain’t all it seems
I got a pocketful of dreams baby I’m from New York!
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York!
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it for New York, New York, New Yooork!
— Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind

Wednesday Thoughts

New York

The City and the State

Those of you who know me well would probably not have guessed that the next place we would move to would be NYC. But then those opportunities on the east coast rather than the west coast came and here we are. We are not the big city people, even though I am from the fairly big city of Stockholm. New York is the name of both the city and the state, and I bet that some people sometimes forgot about the rest of this state when they think about New York. During these past months we have gone through mice in the apartment, broken pipes and firemen in our apartment at 1 am in the morning. Even though all of these things happened within 2 months, I feel as if we lived here an eternity already. We live in the north east part of Manhattan, the area that is known as East Harlem, or El Barrio. Most tourists don’t go up here, because all the touristy stuff is mostly centered around southern Manhattan. I do think that every tourist should explore the northern part of Manhattan as well, just to get an idea about the life in New York (well I guess you could insert any of the least “famous” parts of NYC here).

Life is not always easy in the city, and nor has it really ever been since 1650 or so when New Amsterdam existed where Battery Park is today (even though Manhatta, yes Manhatta without a n, existed long before then). You only need to live here for a short time while listening to the local NPR station (WNYC) to understand who the losers and the winners are here. The everlasting question is whose fault it is? You’ll hear horror stories about walls and ceilings falling into apartments, mold, broken doors, lack of heat, and legionella in the water towers mixed in with outrageous rents. But New York is of course so much more than that, and there is always a whole suit of cultures and backgrounds wherever you look. Discovering all of these different places in New York, not only Manhattan, will take time, and that fits us pretty well right now since we will be here for a few years. We are not made out of money and I have started a quest for cheap and free things to do in the city. There are many many things you can do of course, and I will probably write more about our life here and what we do, favorite bars, parks, streets yeah just about anything. New York City is huge and many times people forget about the state New York. We want to try and discover more parts of the state while we are here too, not just the big city.