Following Up and Following Down: August 2015

In a month when WC sorted through, packed up, sold, discarded and shipped his “stuff” – an unimaginable amount of stuff, bye the bye – as a part of his move down to the Lower 48, it seems appropriate that this month’s attempt at a wrap should focus on change.

Scientists have confirmed that the universe as we know it is, indeed. doomed. Because the speed of light is a constant, the further something is away in space the further back in time you are looking. So, something 200 million light years away is 200 million years in the past. Meet the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) Project, the largest multi-wavelength galactic survey ever put together. GAMA measured the energy output of over 200,000 galaxies across as broad a wavelength range as possibleThe roughly 200,000 galaxies GAMA observed in the study (which can be seen in the form of a 3D map in this nifty video) are from three different eras of the Universe’s history, the oldest going back as far as 2.4 billion years. Back then, the Universe’s galaxies were, on average, generating more energy than they are now and releasing in the form of light. It turns out that galaxies are currently generating about half as much as they used to be. The difference is there and it’s growing. The universe is going dark. In just a few dozen billion years, it may be all dark. See? Things really are going all to hell.

WC is settling in to Boise, Idaho, after 2,800 miles of road travel. It turns out Boise’s fire season is in August, giving WC the rare opportunity to enjoy poor air quality twice in one summer. The drought is real, and some of the wildfires in the Lower 48 are big by their standards. The heat wave doesn’t help, with temperatures in the 90s most days since WC arrived here. Thank you, Willis Carrier, for inventing modern air conditioning. WC spends his afternoons huddled around a vent for the central AC system. That’s certainly different. WC is assured that the weather will change soon enough.

As another consequence of the move to Idaho, WC is enjoying high speed internet access at home for the first time. In Fairbanks, WC connected – for a given definition of “connect” – to the internet via AlasConnect, which uses directional radio. Leaves, rain, snow, bad karma and who knows what else would degrade that pitiful connection, and if someone else was trying to stream a movie, fuggedaboutit. It was the digital equivalent of semaphores. For the same price, WC now enjoys a 100-fold improvement. Some change is good.

The Anchorage Dispatch News reports that, as WC writes this post, a wild fire in Chiniak is burning. Chiniak is south of Kodiak, across Chiniak Bay. WC wouldn’t have thought you could start a wild fire in that part of Kodiak Island with a flamethrower. It would be like a wild fire in a soaking wet sponge. If wild fires are going to be even an uncommon threat on Kodiak Island, Senator Inhofe (R, Denial) has some explaining to do.

Former Governor Sean “Captain Zero” Parnell still hasn’t been able to find honest work. In fact, he’s still living off the taxpayers, doing “consulting” work for the U.S. House Majority. $10,000 a month, plus some $6,300 for travel. Sweet! He told us he is working to “better connect them [Republicans] with the governors and state leadership of our country.” Whatever that means, other than the obvious: that’s $26,300 of our taxes we’ll never see again.

We enjoyed almost a whole month without any noise from The Quitter. That’s different. She spoiled it at the end, in a pathetically lame “interview” of The Donald on an obscure right-wing television channel. Trump, of course, recently said Sen. John McCain was not a “war hero.” The Quitter, who would still be a political nobody from Alaska, declined to criticize Trump for his cheap shot at the man who made her famous. WC reminds his readers of Mark Twain’s aphorism:

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”

Sarah Palin would be Exhibit A. Some things just never change.