Digital effects show the sizes of rockets, planets, and stars

Here are a couple of videos from a visual effects artist at the YouTube channel Corridor (formerly Corridor Digital), which features a series of frequently excellent short films. This comes from their secondary channel Corridor Crew, with behind-the-scenes making-of stuff as well as personal projects like this one.

The first shows the actual sizes of SpaceX rockets digitally inserted into cities for comparison with buildings:


Link: https://youtu.be/dlo3rBFDLug

The second shows the relative sizes of planets and stars scaled down to make the Earth the size of a tennis ball:


Link: https://youtu.be/GCTuirkcRwo

This leads to a possible bit of confusion in which the VFX artist and narrator mentions both the actual size of an immense star named (for real) UY Scuti and its scale model size without clearly distinguishing between them. The star is so big that if it replaced the Sun, would extend all the way out to the orbit of Saturn. A scale model of the star, at the same scale that would make the Earth would be the size of a tennis ball, YU Scuti would cover a good part of Manhattan.

If you're wondering where I've been, I've had some more annoying medical problems (again), but I'm on the mend (again) and hope (again) to post here more often. At this point, no promises, though.

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A close friend remembers John McCain

There was so much written, said, and broadcast about John McCain in the week after his death August 25 that I decided to delay publishing this until today. It's a short interview with his longtime aid and close friend Mark Salter, originally broadcast August 31 on PBS NewsHour, in which he describes what he admired about the senator, veteran, and prisoner of war who died a month ago today.


Link: https://youtu.be/YTyMJVt8-HA

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Using barbershops to encourage better health

In centuries past there was considerable overlap between the professions of barber and surgeon, and recently there have been efforts to use barber shops, particularly in African-American communities, for medical outreach. Pediatrician and medical school professor Dr Aaron Carroll talks about that in this video:


Link: https://youtu.be/VvtmC-PdqJY

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Where's the money going?

The middle decades of the 20th century were boom times for Americans. Partly this is because much of the rest of the industrialized world had been devastated by World War II, but actually recovering from that devastation meant that economic growth rates were pretty good even in Europe and Japan after the war. Even better, for once a rising tide really did lift all boats. Low-, middle-, and high-income people all saw major gains from economic growth, and low-income people working people actually saw their income grow a little faster in percentage terms than their higher-income counterparts.

Since roughly 1980, however, the spread between rich and poor has been getting worse. Consider just the 2000s: Below is a graph showing the change in real per capita gross domestic product for the United States. That is, it's the total amount of economic activity in the United States adjusted for inflation and divided by the size of the population:

Real GDP 2000-2018

This is an increase of over 25 percent on top of inflation, which is pretty good considering we went through a very bad recession starting in 1998 that was on its way to becoming a deep depression had the government not adopted a massive economic stimulus early in the Obama administration. (The last months of the Bush administration did some serious bailing as well.)

If the distribution of income had stayed the same, everyone would be about 25 percent better off in terms of gross income. The very rich would still be vastly better off than the poor or middle class, but every group would be doing the same percentage better relative to a couple of decades earlier.

But of course we're not all equally better off. Quite the contrary, as the graph below illustrates. It was created by blogger Kevin Drum based on census data you can find here.

U.S. household income 1999-2018

The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, the people in the middle are doing a little better, and the top fifth of the population saw their income rise by about 11 percent.

But wait a minute. This looks like nobody is enjoying that 25 percent income increase you might expect us all to share in. How is that possible? The answer, of course, is that the vast majority of that additional income was captured by the narrow sliver of the population at the very top. These are of course also the very same people enjoying almost all the benefits of last year's massive tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations.

(Updated 2018 October 24 in my usual attempt to make what I wrote a bit clearer.)

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Jon Stewart offers to negotiate with Donald Trump

Jon Stewart interrupts The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to offer to negotiate with Donald Trump to end mistreatment of children at the border. This is actually from June 28 so it's a bit out of date, though less so than it should be.


Link: https://youtu.be/PYCPZrOkZx

This is a reference to the Trump administration's botched policy of separating immigrant children from their parents other caregivers at the U.S. border with Mexico, in many cases even when they presented themselves legally at a border crossing to request asylum in accordance with U.S. law. (If you think the policy applied only to illegal immigrants, you've been misinformed.)

The immediate reaction was so negative that even President Trump declared himself opposed to the cruel policy that traumatized children, but, he said, it was out of his hands, because the policy was required by laws that had been passed by Democrats and that only Democrats could change, which doesn't even make sense. Of course, the policy not only wasn't required, it was prohibited, and courts ordered the administration to comply with the actual law. Trump then retreated and reversed the policy he had just said he could not reverse.

Despite that, not all children have been reunited with their families in part because the policy change had been introduced in such a rushed and incompetent manner that there was no time to implement it properly, and the authorities royally screwed up the record-keeping.

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Bernie Sanders summarizes his views

I'm not a full-on Bernie Sanders partisan, but I like him well enough and appreciate his willingness to speak frankly. I do wish he wouldn't insist on calling himself a "democratic socialist" since he's not a socialist in the normal sense of the word but rather what in Europe would be called a social democrat, a species of moderate. True socialists believe in state control of major industries, whereas social democrats favor such things as public education, healthcare as a right, reasonable business regulations, and so on.

Below, in an appearance on CBS's The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in mid-August, Senator Sanders concisely summarizes his views, which I found pretty interesting. The two segments below are from before and after a commercial. The main discussion is in the first video.


Link: https://youtu.be/NaNkgtEnrW0


Link: https://youtu.be/dUIA_Ga6q4E

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