Category Archives: Science & Technology

Print Me a House

3D printer used to construct a house                                 Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

For someone who stays away from housing issues, I now have my second one in two days. Yesterday, I expressed dismay at the price tag on new “affordable” homes. Today’s topic is 3D printed homes.

As strange as that may sound, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported yesterday that work has begun in Richmond on the “first house in Virginia partially constructed using a 3D printer rather than lumber.”

I have trouble wrapping my mind around this concept.  =As I understand it, the “printer” is a large contraption that lays down concrete, rather than ink or toner, in precise patterns that have been programmed into a computer. The concrete is then smoothed out with a different nozzle that has a scraper attached. In the case of this house in Richmond, the printer is laying down layer after layer of concrete to “print” the outer walls of the house. The interior walls will be constructed by more traditional means. Continue reading

Yes, Virginia, There May Be Alien UFOs — Off Your Coast!

Image captured by Virginia Beach naval aviators. Image credit: 60 Minutes

by Bruce Majors

If you spend any time on the internet, you will almost daily see geographical rankings: the best colleges, the best small towns, the best places to retire, the cities with the worst drivers, the states with the worst tippers or the rudest residents.

Apparently whoever or whatever is behind the UAPs (the acronym for the new bureaucratese “unidentified aerial phenomena,” what we used to call UFOs) that the Senate Intelligence Committee will soon tell us about also seem to have a list of where they prefer to visit. Former national intelligence director John Ratcliffe hinted that the report will be surprising, telling FOX News anchor Maria Bartiroma, “We are talking about objects that have been seen by Navy or Air Force pilots, or have been picked up by satellite imagery, that frankly engage in actions that are difficult to explain, movements that are hard to replicate, that we don’t have the technology for or are traveling at speeds that exceed the sound barrier without a sonic boom.”

The National UFO Reporting Center maintains a database of reports of UFO sightings and it organizes them by state, as well as by shape of the UFO and other categories. Virginia is 35th on the list. Continue reading

Paul Marik: COVID Quack or Pandemic Hero?

Dr. Paul Marik

by James A. Bacon

Across the state of Virginia, the fatality rate for COVID-19 patients entering hospitals has been 37.7%. Put another way, nearly two of every five patients died, according to Virginia Department of Health data. But in Norfolk, only 25.8% died. What accounts for that disparity? One possibility is that the dominant hospital in Norfolk is Sentara General Hospital… which is affiliated with the Eastern Virginia Medical School… where Dr. Paul Marik, an EVMS professsor, may have co-developed an inexpensive but highly effective treatment for COVID-19.

Marik is virtually unknown to Virginians. The only local news story I could find about him, dated about a week ago, tells how he was reprimanded by the Virginia Board of Medicine for prescribing controlled substances to five people who were not his patients. That article noted only in passing that Marik has written more than 400 peer-reviewed journal articles, 50 book chapters, and four books about critical care, and that he has developed a new treatment for sepsis.

You will get a very different picture of the 63-year-old South African native by reading, “The Drug that Cracked COVID,” written by Michael Capuzzo and published in Mountain Home, a Pennsylvania magazine. Other than to say that Capuzzo obviously did an enormous amount of research for the article, I cannot testify to its fairness, balance or accuracy. But from a surface reading, the reporting seems credible enough that Marik’s story at least warrants telling.

Marik and four U.S. colleagues who are experts in critical care developed an early treatment protocol for COVID-19 centered on the generic drug Ivermectin they dubbed I-MASK. If the article is to be believed, the protocol has saved millions of lives in poor, developing countries desperate for affordable ways to respond to the pandemic. But the protocol, developed through trial and error in front lines of hospital treatment, did not meet the gold standard of randomized clinical trials demanded by COVID guru Anthony Fauci, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and Big Pharma. With the active cooperation of the masters of the media/social media universe, the “follow the science” crowd has worked to suppress the findings of Marik and his colleagues. Continue reading

Tech Prof Corrected WHO, CDC on COVID Spread

Linsey C. Marr, PhD.

by Steve Haner

Wired has chronicled a one-year struggle by a Virginia Tech teacher and researcher, working mainly with other non-physicians, to convince the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization they were dead wrong on COVID. The kind of dead wrong that made more people dead.

The battle was quietly won when on April 30 of this year the WHO changed its published stance and admitted that the virus causing COVID-19 was readily spreading airborne far beyond the three or six foot social distancing guidance. A few days later the CDC also changed its public stance, creating a minor media ripple rather than the wave it deserved.

One of those we can thank is Linsey Marr, the Charles P. Lunsford Professor in Virginia Tech’s department of civil and environmental engineering. Megan Molteni’s article, “The 60-year-old Scientific Screw-Up that Helped COVID Kill,” opens with Marr participating in an April 2020 virtual conference with COVID science poohbahs around the world.  They uniformly blew off what they heard from Marr and other experts on aerosols. WHO had stated as fact that the SARS-2 bug was not spreading aerosol. Continue reading

Brood X is Coming!

Photo credit: Baltimore Sun

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

It was spring, 2004, several months after our first grandchild had been born. My wife and I were visiting our daughter and family in Fairfax County. There was a loud, incessant buzzing, almost roar, in the air. Big bugs were everywhere; you could not walk without crunching on them. They were dropping from trees, sometimes on you.

I had heard of periodic cicadas, but had never seen them. It was simply amazing. I was fascinated. And, I thought to myself, when Calvin becomes 17, they will back. That time is now.

Brood X, one of the major 17-year cicada cohorts, is due to emerge in the Northern Virginia suburbs this year  Reportedly, a consistent ground temperature of 64 degrees is their key to emerge. So, May is the month.

They do not pose a danger to humans.  hey do not bite or sting. They don’t even eat the shrubbery. The only potential “problems” will be that some people may feel they are a nuisance — the noise and the omnipresent bugs and their shed husks. On the other hand, the birds will go crazy; it will be feast time for them. I have heard that dogs like to eat them, as well.

This is one of those shows of nature that comes around only every so often.  Enjoy it.

End the Emergency Orders. Now. Every One.

Governor Ralph Northam Signals His Virtue

by Steve Haner

There is no more COVID emergency. Every single emergency order issued by Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam should be lifted immediately. Not relaxed or revised, ended.

For the millions of Virginians now vaccinated, this is all just virtue signaling, “pandemic theater.” For the millions of Virginians who have made conscious decisions not to get the vaccine, my level of concern for them has evaporated. They, their families, and their health care providers are on their own, and, frankly, most will be fine until winter stimulates the virus again.

More Virtue Signaling

By then, more of them will have come to their senses and gotten the shots.

The rules in place are really starting to look stupid.  President Joe Biden, Governor Northam and all the others holding onto and consciously modeling needless restrictions are the real anti-vaxxers now. They are the ones clearly rejecting all the scientific evidence of vaccine effectiveness.  Continue reading

The New Normal

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

We are used to hearing and seeing weather temperatures reported as being some number of degrees above or below normal. The definition of “normal” has changed this year.

The National Weather Service defines “normal” climate conditions as a 30-year average. New Climate Normals are calculated every 10 years. Before this year, the 30-year time frame was 1981-2010. Now, the “normal” time frame is 1991-2020. As a result, “normal” temperatures have shifted upwards.

Because we are in an era in which climate conditions are shifting, the National Weather Service is adjusting its reporting by providing alternative definitions of “normal.” In response to user groups, it is releasing monthly “Supplemental Temperature Normals.” These reports show averages over 5-, 10-,15-, and 20-year periods, in addition to the traditional 30-year normal. They also show “normal” calculated differently from a straight average. These alternative methods are called “Optional Climate Normal” and the “Hinge Fit.”

Therefore, when it gets hot in the coming months and some folks on this blog, who are not overly concerned about climate change, say that temperatures are not that different from the norm, just remember that normal ain’t what it used to be.

Big Brother Has Been Curtailed

Photo credit: New Castle News

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

A recent TV series, Person of Interest, centered on the ability to use large databases of personal information coupled with extensive audio and video surveillance to identify any individual and pull up extensive data on that individual. A small team of good guys used this capability to identify threats to individuals and help the threatened individual escape harm. An extensive network of bad guys seized upon the technology to dominate the world. The good guys, of course, tried to stop the bad guys.

That may sound a little futuristic, but it exists today. The Chinese government has built an extensive facial recognition system which it uses to persecute minority populations and intimidate its general population.

The United States has not gotten to the level of the Chinese, but law-enforcement agencies have made extensive use of face recognition technology. For example, police departments in the state of Florida have been using it for a couple of decades. Continue reading

Centuries of Energy Already Sitting in Cans

“Slightly Used” Nuclear Fuel Storage Casks.

by Steve Haner

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

If you are serious about making electricity without carbon emissions and also serious about making enough electricity to run a real economy 24-7-365, the discussion keeps coming back to nuclear energy. It is the obvious choice if you believe we must eliminate natural gas soon.  Continue reading

What Texas’s Crisis Means for Virginia

by Peter Galuszka

The Texas freeze and ensuing energy disaster has clear lessons for Virginia as it sorts out its energy future.

Yet much of the media coverage in Virginia and certainly on Bacon’s Rebellion conveniently leaves out pertinent observations.

The statewide freeze in Texas completely fouled up the entire energy infrastructure as natural gas pipelines and oil wells stopped working, coal at generating plants iced over and wind turbines stopped working.

Making matters much worse, Texas opted not to have power links with other states. Its “free market” system of purchasing power meant utilities skimped on maintenance and adding weather-relative preventive measures such as making sure key generation components were weatherproof.

The result? Scores dead and millions without electricity. Here are more points worth considering in Virginia:

Climate Change is For Real

It is a shame that so much comment in Bacon’s Rebellion is propaganda from people who are or were paid, either directly or indirectly, by the fossil fuel industry. Thus, the blog diminishes the importance of dealing with climate change in a progressive way.  Continue reading

Is It Time to Say Goodbye to Virginia Coal Exports??

Norfolk Southern’s coal loading terminal at Lambert’s Point in Norfolk

By Peter Galuszka

Oilprice.com, a petroleum trade newsletter, has a story that could spell more bad news for the faltering Virginia coal industry.

For many years, the most valuable product from Virginia’s coal fields was coking or metallurgical coal that is exported to other countries for use in steel making.

China has been a crucial buyer of Virginia coal but recent pronouncements from the Communist Party leadership indicate that coal is on its way out after leader Xi Jinping outlined a far-reaching program that set a peak of carbon emissions in 2030 followed by net zero policy by 2060.

Correspondingly, steel companies are also setting net zero carbon goals including the world’s biggest steel makers ArcelorMittal of Europe, Baowu Steel of China and Nippon Steel of Japan.

The moves could erase Virginia’s coal experts because the demand for the steam coal used to generate electricity has already been undercut by the remarkable growth of renewable energy sources like solar and wind in China and India. As they expand, their costs go down – below those of coal.

Coking coal exports from Hampton Roads could get slammed as global steelmakers experiment with new manufacturing processes. Continue reading

Mark Zuckerberg, Call Your Lawyer

by James C. Sherlock

“You don’t need a Weatherman To know which way the wind blows.” — Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues.

Consider this:

“Facebook was hit with twin lawsuits by the Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general from dozens of states on Wednesday, in one of the most serious challenges ever to the Silicon Valley giant. The cases could potentially result in Facebook being broken up.

Here’s what you need to know.

The FTC and the states accuse Facebook of abusing its dominance in the digital marketplace and engaging in anti-competitive behavior.

“Facebook’s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition,” Ian Conner, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said in a statement. “Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.”

And that story was dated Dec. 11, 2020. 

Maybe last week was not the best time for Facebook to kick that hornets’ nest with another potential antitrust violation. Continue reading

The Learn-What-You-Need-When-You-Need-It Education Model

by James A. Bacon

I stumbled across an ad on the Washington Post website that attracted my attention. AWS (Amazon Web Services) was advertising its cybersecurity certification training.

Click on the ad and you land on an extensive website promoting the company’s cybersecurity curriculum. “Start your security training journey,” proclaims the header.

Explore the paths to building security skills with this introduction to AWS Training and Certification. … Discover on-demand digital and live classroom training opportunities for all skill levels or roles. … Learn more about the comprehensive security curriculum designed by AWS experts.

The goal of AWS, the cloud subsidiary of Amazon, is to develop a cadre of IT professionals certified to use the AWS platform. What particularly intrigues me is how the training curriculum differs from conventional courses in Virginia’s community colleges and four-year institutions. The fact that classes are delivered in both digital and in-person classroom formats is the most obvious but least interesting difference. Continue reading

Virginians Are Loading the COVIDWISE App. Does It Make a Difference?

by James A. Bacon

Virginia leads the nation in the percentage of citizens who have downloaded the COVIDWISE smart phone app that alerts users when they might have been exposed to the virus, reports Virginia Business.

The state has spent $1.5 million promoting sign-ups. Jeff Stover, executive adviser to the health commissioner, says that downloads have been averaging 2,000 to 5,000 per day. Nearly 900,000 people, 10% of the population, how have the app.

Stover cites a model by Google, Stanford University and Oxford University that predicts if a locality has a 15% app adoption rate, infections can be reduced by about 8% and deaths by 6%.

Could COVIDWISE partially explain the lower rate of spread in Virginia, even as the virus induces panic in other states? According to Statista, Virginia had the 8th lowest rate — 3,303 confirmed cases per 100,000 population — among the 52 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Continue reading

EPA: PM 2.5 At Current Levels is No Threat

Source: EPA Website.  Click to expand.

By Steve Haner

“Everything is a poison, nothing is a poison. It is the dose that makes the poison” – Paracelsus (1493-1541 AD)

A micron is a tiny thing. A grain of beach sand is about 90 microns, and a human hair 50 to 70 microns in diameter. In the coming session of the General Assembly, you are about to hear that micron-sized particles are sickening and killing you. Do not believe it.    Continue reading