Clearly, Young Skywalker Has Completed His Training

This is not just the best response to the debates, it’s the best possible response to the debates:

That debate was the worst thing I’ve ever seen & I was in The Star Wars Holiday Special.

— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) September 30, 2020

That being said, Weird Al Yankovic is a pretty close second:

It’s actually pretty impressive that he got together a song based on the actual event in such a short time.

Quote of the Day

The future is always unpredictable but it’s hard not to think that aerial firefighting aircraft will be the most valuable kind of fighter aircraft in 2040.

It is an extreme optimist who prepares for a high-tech war in 2100.


It’s a military aviation site, and even they get that we are facing a catastrophic, and perhaps extinction level, climate crisis.

We Are Unbelievably Screwed

If the Greenland ice field were to melt, it would raise sea levels about 7 meters (23 feet).

New evidence indicates that the melting of Greenland has reach the point of no return.

This will devastate most of the coastal cities across the world:

Annual snowfall can no longer replenish the melted ice that flows into the ocean from Greenland’s glaciers. That is the conclusion of a new analysis of almost 40 years’ satellite data by researchers at Ohio State University. The ice loss, they think, is now so great that it has triggered an irreversible feedback loop: the sheet will keep melting, even if all climate-warming emissions are miraculously curtailed. This is bad news for coastal cities, given that Greenland boasts the largest ice sheet on the planet after Antarctica. Since 2000 its melting ice has contributed about a millimetre a year to rising sea levels. The loss of the entire ice sheet would raise them by more than seven metres, enough to reconfigure the majority of the world’s coastlines.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Greenland’s ice maintained a rough equilibrium. Each year the sheet lost some 400bn tonnes of ice in the summer—both by ice and snow melting on the surface, and the “discharge” of ice by glaciers losing chunks as they push out into the sea. This was replenished by a similar amount of fresh snow in the winter. But after 2000 the ice sheet began losing mass permanently. The amount that has disappeared is so huge that it has caused a noticeable change in the gravitational field over the island. It has also caused the glaciers to retreat by about 3km since 1985, exposing more of them to warmer ocean water. This has increased the rate of melting to the point where, even if the climate stopped getting hotter, more ice would be discharged each year than could be replaced, the scientists reckon. “The ice sheet is now in this new dynamic state, where even if we went back to a climate that was more like what we had 20 or 30 years ago, we would still be pretty quickly losing mass,” explains Ian Howar, one of the study’s authors.

Over the past three decades, the Arctic has warmed at least twice as fast as the rest of the world. This is because of a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification, in which higher concentrations of greenhouse gases produce larger increases in temperature at high latitudes. It also means that changes in the Arctic region are an important indicator of the progression and impacts of climate change. The decline of the Greenland ice sheet is a harbinger of things to come. “Greenland is going to be the canary in the coal mine,” says Mr Howar. “And the canary is pretty much dead at this point.”

Clearly people operating in their own enlightened self-interest, as the religion of the free-market mousketeers, is not working.

This Sounds Like Prophecy

My husband asked a Secret Service Agent guarding the Treasury whether he ever thought he’d see this. He said: “I’m surprised it took this long. I think I’m gonna see the whole building burned down. 40% unemployment.” pic.twitter.com/wxrZX4EWZv

— Krystal Ball (@krystalball) June 4, 2020

The guard at the now graffiti covered Treasury building might a prophet, but I am not sure if that is a good thing, or a bad thing.

We Are F%$#ed

The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together mass hysteria!

The Atlanta Fed’s real time estimate of GDP just came out, and while there are plenty of caveats, they are estimating a decline in GDP of -52.8%.

Even the more mainstream estimates shown in the figure are end of the world stuff, but their estimate is a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man moment:

Ok, this is now getting a little scary:

The real time GDP running estimate of US economic activity is half of what it was 3 months ago. As of June 1, the Atlanta Fed is nowcasting that economic activity in the United States, as measured in GDP, is minus 52.8%.

Given the extent of the collapse in demand that has accompanied quarantines and shelter-in-place orders, this is not a surprise. Still, when you see the number in print, it still has the capacity to shock.

Yeah, it has the capacity to shock.

Who Had the 2020 Over and Under for Super-Volcano?

There have been a series of mild earthquakes which may indicate that the Yellowstone super-volcano might be becoming active again:

Monitoring services from the US Geological Survey (USGS) found there have been 213 earthquakes in the Yellowstone National Park in the past 28 days. The tremors were relatively small, with the largest being a 2.1 magnitude tremor on May 22.

However, some experts warn it is not necessarily the size of an earthquake which is an indicator a volcano might erupt, but the quantity of them.

Portland State University Geology Professor Emeritus Scott Burns said: “If you get swarms under a working volcano, the working hypothesis is that magma is moving up underneath there.”

But others disagree about whether an earthquake swarm near a volcano could be a sign of things to come.

Jamie Farrell at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City believes this is just part of the natural cycle for Yellowstone volcano, saying: “Earthquake swarms are fairly common in Yellowstone.

“There is no indication that this swarm is related to magma moving through the shallow crust.”

The Yellowstone supervolcano, located in the US state of Wyoming, last erupted on a major scale 640,000 years ago.

As an FYI, when the Yellowstone Supervolcano (also called the Yellowstone Caldera) last erupted, it put something on the order of 100 km3 material into the air, with heavy ash falls as far away as 1000 miles away.

Additionally, it would likely precipitate a climate catastrophe with widespread crop failures and famine.

I know that the chance of something happening is tiny, but if that doesn’t sound like a 2020 thing to you, you have not been paying attention.

Another 3 Million New Jobless Claims

So the total since mid March, about 8 weeks, is 36½ million new jobless claims.

Assuming that the normal level of claims is 225,000 (PDF link, see page 6), this means that the excess initial unemployment claims is


excess unemployment claims.

The labor force was roughly 165 million with 3% unemployment, which gives about 170 million working or looking for work.

Just subtracting the 34.7 million excess claims, and a lot of people have not been processed, gives 23.4% unemployment (U3).

The above is just spit-balling by me, but it is not unreasonable to expect the unemployment rate to top 20% right now.

OK, I Get Why Some People are Saying, “End of Times”

So in addition to a global pandemic with a virus that may not be amenable to a vaccine, we are now seeing an influx of giant killer hornets.

This is firmly in the area of things that give me the SERIOUS heebie jeebies:

Researchers and citizens in Washington state are on a careful hunt for invasive “murder hornets”, after the insect made its first appearance in the US.

The Asian giant hornet is the world’s largest and can kill humans. But it is most dangerous for the European honeybee, which is defenseless in the face of the hornet’s spiky mandibles, long stinger and potent venom.

Washington state verified four reports of Asian giant hornets in two north-western cities in December. The species becomes more active in April, prompting local officials to invite the public to help beekeepers by creating their own hornet traps.

“It’s a shockingly large hornet,” Todd Murray, Washington State University Extension entomologist and invasive species specialist, said in a statement. “It’s a health hazard, and more importantly, a significant predator of honeybees.”

Excuse me while I try to stop shaking like a leaf.

Human Sacrifice, Dogs and Cats Living Together, Mass Hysteria

This is a scary

We now have the first GDP numbers for the first quarter of 2020, and it is down 4.8%.

When one considers the trend of 2% annualized, and the fact that the shutdowns, and hence the economic contraction, did not begin until March, it means that the month of March fell at something approaching a 60% annual rate.

Obviously, this won’t continue at this rate, but predictions are looking at a 30% contraction:

The longest economic expansion in US history officially came to an end on Wednesday when the commerce department announced the economy shrank 4.8% in the first three months of the year.

The economic slump, the steepest since the last recession in 2008, is just an early indicator of how severely the coronavirus pandemic has affected the US economy.

Much of the US economy shut down in March in an effort to contain the virus, triggering 26 million people to file for unemployment benefits and wiping out a decade of jobs gains, at the end of the first quarter. The next set of figures from the commerce department will more accurately reflect the true scale of its impact.

Kevin Hassett, senior economic adviser to the White House, has predicted gross domestic product (GDP) – the widest measure of the economy – could fall at an annualized rate of 30% in the next quarter. Goldman Sachs expects a 15% unemployment rate in the US by mid-year, up from 4.4% at present.

The fall is the sharpest quarterly decline in GDP since the end of 2008 when the economy contracted by an annualized rate of 8.4%. But on current forecasts the drop-off could soon rival the economic collapse of the Great Depression. In 1932 the US economy shrank 13% over the year.

 When one considers that pending home sales fell 25% month over month in March, this is going to get a LOT uglier before things turn up.

Also, with an additional 28 million people out of work, and a strong recovery, say 500K growth in non farm payrolls a month, something that has happened in only 15 months over the past 60 years, it would still take over a year for complete recovery.

Human Sacrifice, Dogs and Cats Living Together, Mass Hysteria!

The total theater box office in the United States this past weekend was just 2 movies shown at one drive in theater:

With movie theaters across the country closed for the foreseeable future due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the weekly box office report is all but a distant memory. But there’s one theater that’s still keeping the weekly box office report alive. A single drive-in theater in Florida was the source of the entire domestic box office this past weekend, showing a whopping two (!) movies to its audience. So if you were missing your weekly box office report, here it is, in extremely barebones form.

The forced temporary shutterings of businesses and movie theaters across has created an unexpected result: the rise of drive-in movie theaters. Once a widely frequented form of moviegoing, the drive-in theater has become an increasing rarity since its heyday in the late 1950s. But now the drive-in theater is seeing a boom in business thanks to the pandemic.

That’s true especially of the Ocala Drive-In in Ocala, Florida: the one source of the domestic box office this past weekend. The weekend box office report on the website The Numbers (via ScreenCrush) showed two new movies playing at one theater in the entire United States last week. The two films, the World War II mime biopic Resistance and the indie psychological thriller Swallow (both from IFC Films) were shown at the Ocala Drive-In in Ocala, Florida, according to journalist Gitesh Pandya, for a grand total box office $33,456.

This is stunning.

I don’t even want to think how this effects theater popcorn sales.

Holy Sh%$

Look Out Below

Oil prices, specifically the price of WTI crude, just fell to almost NEGATIVE $40 a barrel today.

Part of this was an artifact of the calendar, futures contracts were coming due, so stockbrokers were facing the possibilities of thousands of gallons of crude oil being pumped into their swimming pools, but this is f%$#ed-up and sh%$.

When you consider the fact that fracking is a particularly expensive way to extract oil, and that the best evidence is that it has never been profitable, there are going to be a whole bunch of eager investors left holding the bag:

Of all the wild, unprecedented swings in financial markets since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, none has been more jaw-dropping than Monday’s collapse in a key segment of U.S. oil trading.

The price on the futures contract for West Texas crude that is due to expire Tuesday fell into negative territory — minus $37.63 a barrel. The reason: with the pandemic bringing the economy to a standstill, there is so much unused oil sloshing around that American energy companies have run out of room to store it. And if there’s no place to put the oil, no one wants a crude contract that is about to come due.

Underscoring just how acute the concern is over the lack of immediate storage space, the price on the futures contract due a month later settled at $20.43 per barrel. That gap between the two contracts is by far the biggest ever.

“The May crude oil contract is going out not with a whimper, but a primal scream,” said Daniel Yergin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning oil historian and vice chairman of IHS Markit Ltd.

There is a whole bunch of money from a whole the “smartest people in the world” that just got lit on fire.

Signs of the Apocalypse

Dana Milbank, the quintessential Washington, DC insider know nothing, just got something right when he noted that the Covid-19 response was a direct result of the movement Republican belief that the government should be drowned in a bathtub.

Well a stopped clock, is right once a day, and Dana Milbank is right (maybe) once a year:

I had been expecting this for 21 years.

“It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when,’” the legendary epidemiologist D.A. Henderson told me in 1999 when we discussed the likelihood of a biological event causing mass destruction.

In 2001, I wrote about experts urging a “medical Manhattan Project” for new vaccines, antibiotics and antivirals.


I repeat these things not to pretend I was prescient but to show that the nation’s top scientists and public health experts were shouting these warnings from the rooftops — deafeningly, unanimously and consistently. In the years after the 2001 terrorist attacks, the Bush and Obama administrations seemed to be listening.

But then came the tea party, the anti-government conservatism that infected the Republican Party in 2010 and triumphed with President Trump’s election. Perhaps the best articulation of its ideology came from the anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who once said: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

They got their wish. What you see today is your government, drowning — a government that couldn’t produce a rudimentary test for coronavirus, that couldn’t contain the pandemic as other countries have done, that couldn’t produce enough ventilators for the sick or even enough face masks and gowns for health-care workers.

The fact that this font of conventional wisdom (the conventional wisdom is always wrong) recognizes that this is a direct result of an ideology is significant.

The pundit class, disdains the discussion of ideology, so the fact that one of their most prominent avatars is assigning the blame to a right-wing ideology constituents a statement against interest, which increases the credibility of the assewrtion.

Great Googly Moogly

This has been over the past 2 weeks.

This is a collapse that is unprecedented since at least the end of World War II:

As fallout from the coronavirus pandemic hits the economy, it’s slamming the American workforce: Some 18% of adults reported that they had been laid off or that their work hours had been cut, a new poll found.

The proportion affected grew for lower-income households, with 25% of those making less than $50,000 a year reporting that they had been let go or had their hours reduced, according to a survey released Tuesday by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist of 835 working adults in the contiguous United States.

It’s no surprise that the NYSE triggered the circuit breakers again, for the 3rd time in less than 2 weeks.

Well, This Has Gone from Concerning to Bat-Sh%$ Insane Quickly

I am talking, of course, about Coronavirus.

In the past 24 hours, after Donald Trump gave the least reassuring political speech since Pennsylvania State Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer’s resignation speech 1n 1987,* things have gone to hell in a hand-basket.

The NCAA has canceled the collegiate basketball championships, AKA March Madness, because of COVID-19 19 concerns.

This is the most ppopular sporting event in the United States, normally pulling in about 50% more in ad revenue, and even more in eyeballs, than the Superbowl, and it’s canceled.

In addition, the Baseball Spring training has been suspended, the NBS has suspended its season,

Heard on every trading desk for last 10yrs: “Fck Dodd-Frank.”

Heard on every trading desk for the last 10d: “Thank fck for Dodd-Frank”

— Joseph S. Mauro (@jsmauro13) March 10, 2020

And then, for the second time this week, but only the third time in more than 20 years, circuit breakers temporarily halted stock trading after the S&P 500 entered free fall.

I am certain right now that there are a lot of brokers who are VERY happy that Dodd-Frank strengthened these market protections.

Finally, in Maryland, all public schools will be closed for 2 weeks, Catholic Schools in Baltimore are shutting down, Episcopal Churches are suspending services, and both state and federal courts are suspending cases, with most public entertainment events cancelled as well.

This all went pear shaped rather quickly.

* Following his conviction on bribery charges, he blew his brains out at a press converence.

We Are Unbelievably Screwed

It looks like updated models are showing that anthropogenic climate change will be even more disastrous than previously predicted:

Our planet’s climate may be more sensitive to increases in greenhouse gas than we realized, according to a new generation of global climate models being used for the next major assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The findings—which run counter to a 40-year consensus—are a troubling sign that future warming and related impacts could be even worse than expected.

One of the new models, the second version of the Community Earth System Model (CESM2) from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), saw a 35% increase in its equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), the rise in global temperature one might expect as the atmosphere adjusts to an instantaneous doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Instead of the model’s previous ECS of 4°C (7.2°F), the CESM2 now shows an ECS of 5.3°C (9.5°F).

“It is imperative that the community work in a multi-model context to understand how plausible such a high ECS is,” said NCAR’s Andrew Gettelman and coauthors in a paper published last month in Geophysical Research Letters. They added: “What scares us is not that the CESM2 ECS is wrong…but that it might be right.”

At least eight of the global-scale models used by IPCC are showing upward trends in climate sensitivity, according to climate researcher Joëlle Gergis, an IPCC lead author and a scientific advisor to Australia’s Climate Council. Gergis wrote about the disconcerting trends in an August column for the Australian website The Monthly.

Researchers are now evaluating the models to see whether the higher ECS values are model artifacts or correctly depict a more dire prognosis.

I would note that every time that researchers update their models as a result of real world data, the predictions get more and more dire.

We are in for a huge world of hurt.

We are Unbelievably Screwed

Permafrost in Canada is melting at a rate faster than the most alarmist models predicted:

Permafrost at outposts in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted, an expedition has discovered, in the latest sign that the global climate crisis is accelerating even faster than scientists had feared.

A team from the University of Alaska Fairbanks said they were astounded by how quickly a succession of unusually hot summers had destabilised the upper layers of giant subterranean ice blocks that had been frozen solid for millennia.

“What we saw was amazing,” Vladimir Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the university, told Reuters. “It’s an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years.“


The paper was based on data Romanovsky and his colleagues had been analysing since their last expedition to the area in 2016. The team used a modified propeller plane to visit exceptionally remote sites, including an abandoned cold war-era radar base more than 300km from the nearest human settlement.

Diving through a lucky break in the clouds, Romanovsky and his colleagues said they were confronted with a landscape that was unrecognisable from the pristine Arctic terrain they had encountered during initial visits a decade or so earlier.

The vista had dissolved into an undulating sea of hummocks – waist-high depressions and ponds known as thermokarst. Vegetation, once sparse, had begun to flourish in the shelter provided from the constant wind.


Even if current commitments to cut emissions under the 2015 Paris agreement are implemented, the world is still far from averting the risk that these kinds of feedback loops will trigger runaway warming, according to models used by the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

 We are in for a world of hurt.


Durgin Park, the iconic Fanuil Hall restaurant is closing on January 12:

Durgin-Park, a Faneuil Hall staple since 1827, will be closing on January 12.

Employees of the historic restaurant were notified about the decision to close Wednesday.

Durgin-Park is one of the oldest restaurants in the country. It gained a reputation for its good-hearted waitresses being nearly as “fresh” as its fish.


Parent company Ark Restaurants based out of New York says it’s the nature of the business – and that the restaurant just isn’t making money like it used to.

Seriously, this sucks like 1000 hovers all going at once.

F%$# Ark Restaurants.

There are plenty of people in the Boston who are more than willing to abuse me, but none of them make prime rib, Boston baked beans, and Indian pudding like Durgin Park.