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On February 15, 2018, an article — press release? — appeared on Yahoo about potable water becoming an inexpensive and instant reality for millions of people.

The Australian research organisation CSIRO has developed and tested a filtration technique which uses graphene film:

with microscopic nano-channels that lets water pass through, but stops pollutants. The process, called “Graphair”, is so effective that water samples from Sydney Harbor were safe to drink after being treated.

And while the film hails from graphene, Graphair is comparatively cheaper, faster and more environmentally-friendly to make, as its primary component is renewable soybean oil, which also helps maximise the efficiency of the purifying technique’s filter counterpart. Over time, oil-based pollutants can impede water filters, so contaminants have to be removed before filtering can even begin, but using Graphair removes these pollutants faster than any other method.

Dr Dong Han Seo, lead author of the research, says that trials will begin in 2019 in developing countries:

All that’s needed is heat, our graphene, a membrane filter and a small water pump.

This is amazing news.

Other possible uses for Graphair could be seawater treatment and effluent removal. CSIRO hopes to receive industry funding as their research continues.

In April 2017, Engaget reported on researchers at the University of Manchester in England who are working on graphene sieves for desalinating water. Dr. Rahul Nair, who leads the project, said that the holes in the sieve are nanometer-sized:

When the capillary size is around one nanometer, which is very close to the size of the water molecule, those molecules form a nice interconnected arrangement like a train. That makes the movement of water faster: if you push harder on one side, the molecules all move on the other side because of the hydrogen bonds between them. You can only get that situation if the channel size is very small.

Engaget’s article concludes:

Someday, these graphene-based sieves could change lives around the world. But before that happens, the team has to make sure they can withstand prolonged contact with seawater. They also need to test the material against current membranes desalination processes use. “The ultimate goal,” Nair said, “is to create a filtration device that will produce potable water from seawater or wastewater with minimal energy input.”

The University of Manchester team continues their research.

These are very exciting developments for the world’s poor.

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In November 2017, CBS dumped Charlie Rose from CBS This Morning and NBC sacked Matt Lauer from Today.

It’s ironic that two sex pests hosted breakfast shows — designed for family viewing.

Both Rose and Lauer were long-time media legends. As such, they came with a high price tag.

On January 5, Fox News reported that NBC has since found better breakfast broadcasting ratings for less money. NBC is leading ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) since Hoda Kotb has moved into Lauer’s spot on Today and Savannah Guthrie co-hosts with her:

Kotb will make roughly $18 million per year less than her disgraced male predecessor — reportedly earning $7 million per year while Lauer pulled in $25 million, according to the New York Post

In fact, Kotb’s co-anchor Savannah Guthrie also is believed to earn around $7 million per year …

The Fox article focussed on another highly-paid personality, ABC’s GMA host, George Stephanopolous. He makes between $15 million and $18 million per year. His co-host Robin Roberts reportedly earns the same salary.

The Fox article points out:

With “GMA” now trailing “Today” in viewership, ABC will be under increased pressure to justify its hosts’ exorbitant salaries to ABC’s notoriously parsimonious owner, Disney.

A media analyst agrees:

Media analyst Jeff McCall told Fox News that NBC’s success in recent week proves that the high-paid Lauer wasn’t necessarily the reason people tuned in to the “Today” show. In Kotb, NBC may have a more popular host while saving the network roughly $18 million per year.

“I think a similar case could be made now for George Stephanopoulos at ‘GMA.’ The show can be successful whether George is on the set or not,” McCall said. “’GMA’ is really not a serious news program anyway, and George’s supposed D.C. insider persona just isn’t that essential for a show that wants to focus on fads, entertainment and emotion.”

A network insider agrees:

“He doesn’t bring much to the table anymore,” said an ABC insider, who noted that “’GMA’ covers barely any news. It’s not clear why he’s sitting there.”

Another insider:

called Stephanopoulos “merely a fig leaf for the ugly truth that ABC no longer covers news.” The insider pointed not only to “GMA’s” soft focus, but also to “World News Tonight” frequently leading with weather stories, “20/20” rarely covering news and “Nightline” – increasingly the last bastion for news coverage at ABC – now occupying the graveyard shift at 12:35 a.m. “when nobody watches.”

McCall, the media analyst, says that no one will ever mistake Stephanopoulos for a journalist. Indeed. The man President Donald Trump dubbed ‘Little George’ — the GMA desk had to be modified for him — rose to fame as Bill Clinton’s White House Director of Communications and as his senior adviser.

Ultimately, McCall says:

ABC, and all the morning shows for that matter, should stop throwing huge money at personalities and simply find relatable anchors who have some journalistic instincts and a sense of the nation’s mood.

Indeed.

Even if he were to get bumped from GMA, Stephanopoulos still has his roles as ABC’s chief news anchor and host of the Sunday morning news show, This Week.

What astounds me is the high salaries these people get. Why not take early retirement and spend time with family instead? What about volunteer work? Oh, I forgot: that would put them in touch with ordinary Americans. Never mind.

Last week, a certain Democrat senator was accused of something deeply unpleasant:

Good point.

Now, for Imperator_Rex’s analysis of predators, most of which follows:

He also warns about fake victims who speak through lawyers, something a real victim would not do:

It is fascinating how these sexual predator scandals have come out of the woodwork since 2016. It’s akin to a release — an exposure — of demons.

Pray that these powerful people are dealt with according to the law, which now only seems to apply to us — the little people, the great unwashed.

Returning to the Twitter thread, however, I hope this helps us spot predators more easily. I had not considered all of the characteristics, but, with the examples given, they ring true.

 

Yesterday’s post began a series on the JFK files, in particular, those released on October 26 and on July 24, 2017.

One of the questions still outstanding concerns Lee Harvey Oswald having been a CIA asset. Part of this 1975 memo was released last week:

Tantalisingly, that memo stops on page 4 with this question:

MR. BELIN: Is there any information involved with the assassination of President Kennedy which in any way shows that Lee Harvey Oswald was in some way a CIA agent or an agency …

A decade earlier, in 1964, then-CIA director John McCone sent a memo to the US Secret Service chief James J. Rowley about Oswald. This is the first page, courtesy of The Conservative Treehouse:

You can read the full document and a 2004 analysis from Walt Brown here. Excerpts and a summary follow. Emphases mine below.

First, these are the paragraphs highlighted above:

In response to the request made by your office on 24 February 1964 re: Lee Oswald’s activities and assignments on behalf of this agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, there follows a narrative summary of the internal subversive activities of the Oswald subject.

Oswald subject was trained by this agency, under cover of the Office of Naval Intelligence, for Soviet assignments. During preliminary training, in 1957, subject was active in aerial reconnaissance of mainland China and maintained a security clearance up to the “confidential” level. His military records during this period are open to your agency and I have directed they be forwarded to the Commission.

Secondly, the memo provides more details about Oswald. It states that he was trained ‘at our own Camp Peary site’ in 1957 and 1958. He was sent to the Soviet Union in 1959, near Minsk:

It would not be advantageous at this time to divulge the specifics of that assignment; however, if you wish this information, it can be made available for your personal inspection within the confines of our own offices, or I can send it by courier on the condition that it not leave the custody of the courier. I am concerned that if this information were in any way disclosed to the wrong persons, it would lead the media to erroneously claim this agency, and perhaps others, were directly involved in the Dallas action. While the persons involved were in the employ of this agency, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it is virtually impossible for this or any agency to maintain full, 24-hours-a-day responsibility over its operatives.

In 1961, Oswald was hospitalised in Minsk for a routine operation. The memo states that he should have been there for only three days. Instead, he was there 11 days. McCone says that Oswald might have undergone some type of chemical or electronic control while in hospital. Six days after his release he met his future wife, Marina Prusakova. At the time McCone sent the memo, he had not yet received an intelligence report he had requested from the CIA’s Soviet Embassy contact about Marina Oswald.

McCone’s memo states that Oswald became unstable after his release from hospital and subsequent marriage to Marina. He was of no further significant use to the CIA. He returned to the United States with Marina:

After his return to the U.S., Oswald worked in New Orleans through the Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean and Friends of Democratic Cuba; his case officer was SAIC Guy Bannister from the Chicago F131 office. He was transferred from his assignments there after he was arrested and fined stemming from an incident of his distribution of pamphlets for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. While our files here show no flirther [sic] assignments or contact, I am requesting an (xx) check on the subject from our New Orleans and Ft. Worth offices.

By the time of Kennedy’s assassination:

the Oswald subject was only (xxxx xx) in our employ … He was provided with a few unimportant infiltration assignments and proved of little or no value. It is possible that Oswald, given his instability, might have been involved in some operation involving [Teamsters head Jimmy] Hoffa, as noted in SAIC Bertram’s report to your agency dated 1/3/64. Mr. [J Edgar] Hoover advises that his agency [the FBI] is trying to determine whether Hoffa might have been involved laterally or vertically with the Dallas assassination I have advised that I would be interested in seeing the results of that investigation.

Yesterday’s post mentions that Hoffa was planning to travel to Puerto Rico for a trial involving the union there.

After the assassination, the organiser for Local 901 in Puerto Rico, Miguel Cruz said:

Now that we’ve taken care of President Kennedy, we’ll have no trouble in taking over things.

In his analysis, which follows the text of the memo, Walt Brown lays out all the reasons for and against the authenticity of this document.

Supporting the case ‘for’, Brown tells us the wording sounds agency-like: ‘subject Oswald’, ‘Dallas action’ (instead of ‘Kennedy assassination’):

So, it reads extremely accurately. I’d expand that thought and append, again using only logic and circumstance, and suggest that if someone wanted to make this up, “nobody is that good.” I’ve had the good fortune to meet some brilliant people who have dedicated decades of their lives to getting to the bottom of the “Dallas action,” and I truly believe that none of them — and I mean to clearly include myself in the noting of the inability — to be good enough to put together a document in this way. It touches on just enough — Hoffa, LHO going to the USSR (although the Minsk purpose is more ‘secret’ than the fact that Oswald was a CIA agent — were Russian radios that important, or did Oswald actually photograph Russian military installations?) — the Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean, and the “Sweatt” information — unstated, but it was Deputy Sheriff Alan Sweatt who released the information that Oswald was a paid FBI informant, using the designation S-179.

I just can’t imagine even the most talented researcher/critic being able to put together something as clear and uncontrived as this document.

Supporting the case ‘against’, Brown points out that there are none of the characteristic agency markings on the document, e.g. an ‘X’, date stamps, initials. The fact that it is marked ‘Confidential’ instead of ‘Top Secret’ or in an agency-like way throws up another red flag. Also curious is that it is from the CIA to the Secret Service.

This could be a real memo or a fabricated one. Brown concludes:

“Is it real?” The question is a very valid one.

Perhaps something about this will emerge between now and April 2018.

Tomorrow’s post looks at an FBI memo stating that Oswald was not part of their team.

Watching children with their parents in southern France fascinates me.

Even toddlers there are well behaved.

Families walk along the beach together late at night, and it’s a beautiful sight to behold.

The children are also good in restaurants. They eat an amazing variety of seafood and know how to use their utensils properly.

So I was fascinated to read an article in The Telegraph, ‘No kids allowed: is Britain becoming an anti-child society?’

Excerpts follow:

Eileen Potter, owner of Treacle’s Tea Shop in Winchmore Hill, north London, recently found herself in hot water when she banned pre-schoolers, to the fury of many parents. In response, she explained: ‘We can not continually afford to replace crockery. We are not a family establishment’ …

Italy is famed for being especially family-friendly, but Marco Magliozzi of Rome fish restaurant, La Fraschetta del Pesce, imposed the same restriction. ‘Children throw olive oil on the floor, they send the salt cellar flying across the room and, above all, they hate fish,’ he complained.

Well, I have not seen that in the south of France.

Part of the problem perhaps is letting children rule the roost at home. Another is not eating at the kitchen or dining room table every night. I can remember pretty far back and recall eating with my parents at table from the time I was three. I had my dad’s children’s cutlery set so I could eat properly. No special meals. I ate what my parents ate. Mom did have to cut my pork chops up for a while, but other than that I never had a problem.

However, there is another difficulty here with children since the smoking bans came in force across much of Europe. Every adult establishment now seems to be child-friendly. Pubs and continental cafés are no longer for adults.

The Telegraph points this out:

Several of my London friends (in their 40s and 50s, with no kids) complain that their long-held ritual of a quiet, lazy weekend pub lunch is now impossible.

‘Every decent pub in my neighbourhood is full of children running wild, and that’s if you can get through the door, which is invariably barricaded by buggies,’ says one who wants to remain anonymous. She now eats out only in the evening: ‘But even at 8pm or 9pm, there are often loads of children. Is nowhere sacred?’

Another seethed her way through a recent restaurant outing: ‘There was a toddler on his scooter, whizzing around the dining room, weaving between the tables, tripping up the staff. His parents ignored him and carried on drinking their wine.’

Those ladies would be fine in Cannes, where, somehow, even in the most cramped restaurant, no one notices buggies since they are always thoughtfully placed. Children also look forward to the restaurant experience there. It seems to make them feel more grown up.

The solution is for parents to bring up their children from infancy to be as quiet and calm as possible so as not to be a nuisance to others.

Unfortunately, most parents think of their children as entertaining little darlings when many certainly are not.

The Telegraph gave several examples of places in Britain and Italy that are going child-free. It is regrettable that well-behaved children will have to wait several years before they can enjoy such places themselves, but indulgent parents have only themselves to blame for this inevitable outcome.

After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Britain’s Storm Aileen pales by comparison.

Yes, I feel for people who have no power and had structural damage to their homes, but there was quite a bit of hype — panic stations — at a time when cooler heads should have prevailed.

Aileen blew in overnight between September 12 and 13. It’s a bit early for storms like these in the UK, which normally arrive in October or November. Aileen was finished by the time everyone woke up in the west and mid-morning in the east:

Like many others, I’m not sure why the storm even deserved a name. Surely, it was a strong gale. But, the Met Office knows more than we do and perhaps the forecasted gusts were high enough to warrant one. Even so, it strikes me as overkill:

The photos look remarkably like the ones from Irma with uprooted trees, wrecked outbuildings, some flooding and power outages.

BT.com reported:

The M48 Severn Crossing in south Gloucestershire and the Ouse Bridge on the M62 in East Yorkshire were closed due to high winds but have since been reopened.

Network Rail said some railway lines in the south of England and Midlands may still face disruption due to “fallen trees and large branches” on the tracks.

The Telegraph has several photos and reported that Aileen is unrelated to Irma and Jose.

It would be an idea if people here and in other storm-prone areas took preventive action. Keeping taller trees near power lines and railways trimmed would be a sensible start. The homeowners in our street do that. Why can’t everyone else?

In many ways, Hurricane Irma could have been much worse.

If she had stayed on water, just off the west coast of Florida, her effects would have been more devastating than they were.

It was divine mercy that got her to touch land on Sunday afternoon, September 10, 2017.

For those unaware of hurricane categories, here is a witty interpretation before we get into the serious business of winds, storm surge and flooding:

This is a must-see humorous video:

Now for the serious business.

This is Havana post-Irma:

After Cuba, Irma, still a Category 4 at that point, hit the Florida Keys:

Damage was widespread:

On the northeastern end of the Keys, it was much the same in places:

Meanwhile, on the east coast of Florida, there were hurricane force winds and storm surges.

There was a lot of activity on the east coast, from late Saturday well into Sunday. The Miami Herald has several videos from journalists and readers to illustrate Irma’s ferocity.

This is was what was happening on Sunday afternoon (another image here):

By Sunday evening, this had happened:

On Sunday morning, Irma hit the Florida mainland at Marco Island:

Her eye began breaking up. However, her intensity continued.

Nearby Naples was next (another video here):

Extensive flooding occurred there in places.

Sundance at The Conservative Treehouse is a Floridian who helps with hurricane relief and rescue. He says that certain phenomena, such as water being sucked off of coastlines and out of canals and rivers, haven’t been seen in such a widespread way since Hurricane Donna in 1960:

In 1960 Hurricane Donna drained the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers during her NE turn toward Jacksonville. Ironically That was September 10th, 1960. The tidal flows will play a role in the pending Storm Surge …

The top of the storm is moving water away from the gulf beaches and barrier islands in proportion to the timing of the tide. However, all of that water -along with the water carried by the storm’s energy, will come back in with the backside of the storm. And if that times with an incoming tide…. The results are a fast and widespread storm surge, even up river as all the water piles up.

This occurred in several places along the west coast, including Tampa Bay:

This was Tampa later on (another image, albeit dry, here):

This is what Naples looked like when water was sucked away:

In areas where this occurred, people were told not to go out and take a walk:

Sure enough:

Late on Sunday, Irma reached Orlando:

The state faced tornado warnings as well as winds and flooding:

This is Jacksonville:

Not surprisingly:

Especially around Miami and Fort Lauderdale:

By evening, this was the overall view as Irma continued making her way northward (another image here and extent of winds here and here):

The forecast showed no relief in sight:

First responders were on the ground later on Sunday:

Also:

This is the forecast for neighbouring and distant states. It is amazing that Irma’s reach will extend inland as a tropical depression to Indiana and Illinois:

To the immediate northwest, Alabama is preparing:

Mobile Bay also had water sucked out of it.

Other states, including North Carolina, are also getting ready:

This was her energy on Sunday:

Overall:

Irma’s days as a hurricane may have ended. However, as a tropical storm, she is far from over. More tomorrow.

Most of you are no doubt familiar with the late Michael Crichton, best known for his books — especially, The Andromeda Strain — although he also wrote screenplays and was a film director.

He was a man of amazing intellect, particularly in matters scientific. In the quote below, he refers to another man of immense intelligence, the physicist Murray Gell-Mann, with whom he discussed news coverage.

In 2002, Crichton (pron. ‘cryton’) wrote an essay called ‘Why Speculate?’ It featured this warning about Big Media (emphases mine below):

Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect …

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward-reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story-and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

The complete essay is here.

Crichton pointed out that if you heard inaccuracies from someone first-hand, you would tend to discredit them.

So, why don’t we discredit Big Media based on the inaccuracies they are telling us?

Even more important are the omissions. On holiday in Cannes, I watched CNBC Europe by default (British channels were not coming in well) to get Prime Minister Theresa May’s post-election statement on Friday, June 9, 2017. Whilst waiting for two hours, I heard only two news stories repeated over and over! More was going on in the world that day. Why not cover it?

These channels — and other media outlets, such as the press — are highly economic with the truth, including the traditional television news and newspapers. We now know that because we have a raft of websites giving us more news items — and better analysis.

Why do we persist in giving Big Media our time and money? It’s time we stopped trusting them!

Hello, readers!

This brief post is to let you know that comments are now on for all posts for the month of June 2017.

I had turned the facility off two weeks ago, for reasons I will explain later this week.

Hint: I was in a locale where women are still women and men are still men.

More to follow soon.

In closing, a hearty welcome — and thank you — to my newest subscribers!

On May 27, 2017 John Betjeman‘s son Paul left a message on one of my posts announcing his son Timothy’s upcoming art exhibition at Marlborough College in Wiltshire.

My English readers who live nearby might be interested in attending.

Paul Betjeman informs us:

the opening is June 9th 6-9pm at the Mount House gallery at Marlborough College.

His son Timothy’s exhibition runs from June 10 through to June 25 (inclusive). You can read more about it on Timothy’s website.

Timothy has been Marlborough’s Artist in Residence over the past year. He enjoys painting in the college chapel and explained in February (emphasis in the original):

I decided early on in my time at Marlborough that I would like to paint regularly in the Chapel.  I knew that my grandfather, Sir John Betjeman (B2 1920-25), had enjoyed spending time there, and had seen it as something of a refuge from the trials of student life. There is a sense, upon entering and shutting the wooden doors behind you, that one has entered a space related to, but many miles away from the outside.

The Chapel does not take in a huge amount of natural light, so that when it is empty, the only indications of time passing, are occasional creaks from the wooden pews and the minutely changing colour of the chancel windows, which start off in the morning as a very pale blue, and by the evening have turned an aqueous green.  I have several paintings in progress, all created from the same spot in the back centre of the chapel, and a half-dozen etchings, which I work on after dark under electric light, or when I am too tired to paint.  Collectively, these represent sections of the day, and different architectural and decorative features coming into relief.  As the sun moves and colour relations change above the altar, I set down one painting and resume work on another.  I don’t like working from photographs because you miss all this.  The rituals and cycles of a place: visual, musical, religious and secular.  Painting is itself a ritual, and one which I have found harmonises well with that of the church.

Timothy Betjeman’s work is now complete. His website has a catalogue of what will appear at the exhibition. His paintings reflect a plein-air style. His etchings are stunning.

The Marlborough article explained that he also taught art classes and that they were delighted to have him as Artist in Residence:

Alongside Tim’s regular teaching of a range of art practices to our Art Scholars and Option classes, he has welcomed pupils visits to his studio space and the Chapel. Most recently, a Remove Art class were greatly impressed by the expressive mark-making, detail and application of colour that Tim achieves within his current oil paintings. Our pupils asked Tim many questions relating to his gestural painting techniques and particular interest in studying the Chapel’s altar.

It is a pleasure to have Tim within the College community this academic year, and we look forward to further creative interactions throughout the remainder of his residency.

I wish him all the best with his exhibition and future endeavours.

I would also like to thank his father for sending in the links.

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