Thursday Throughput for 9/12/19

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He is on Twitter, blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

Related Post Roulette

33 Responses

  1. fillyjonk says:

    ThTh3: because of course there can’t be GOOD news in the news hellscape. Geez. Is there an eye-rolling emoticon for OT? I get that “if it bleeds, it leads,” but eventually we’re all gonna be bled dry.Report

    • North in reply to fillyjonk says:

      To paraphrase Don Henley (and he wrote that back in the early 80’s!)

      We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blond
      Who comes on at five
      She can tell you ’bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye
      It’s interesting when people die
      Give us dirty laundry

      Can we film the operation?
      Is the head dead yet?
      You know, the boys in the newsroom got a running bet
      Get the widow on the set!
      We need dirty laundry

      You don’t really need to find out what’s going on
      You don’t really want to know just how far it’s gone
      Just leave well enough alone
      Eat your dirty laundry

      Kick ’em when they’re up
      Kick ’em when they’re down
      Kick ’em when they’re up
      Kick ’em when they’re down

      We can do “The Innuendo”
      We can dance and sing
      When it’s said and done we haven’t told you a thing
      We all know that Kraft is king
      Give us dirty laundry!Report

  2. Oscar Gordon says:

    ThTh3: Right up there with reports that X is 42 times more likely to lead to a bad end, without mentioning what the base line risk is.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Another favorite is talking about instantaneous risk versus cumulative risk, or lifetime risk.

      At this point, I assume every news article discussing anything to do with statistics or probabilities is naked fearmongering. Same goes for most blog posts, and a disturbing number of scientific papers.Report

  3. Pinky says:

    ThTh1-3: It’s been a long time since I was in high school. Do they cover this? I don’t remember studying how to look at data and how to interpret statistics. The mistakes in all three articles are obvious if you think about it, but I just don’t remember if people are ever trained in applying reason to numbers.

    ThTh9: I was hoping it was going to be a video of a toy dinosaur not moving. Maybe 10:05.Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    ThTh7. I have a story from a friend. (Like, a for real friend. This isn’t a story about me and I’m trying to deflect.)

    He says that the weed today ain’t nothing like the weed when we were kids. Sure, when I was in college and enjoyed marijuana back in the hazy days of 1993, it did a handful of pleasant things. A comfortable buzz. A pleasant stupor that made Quantum Leap into a show for the ages. It made it easier to concentrate on redundant tasks (these were the days when I could do the stairclimber for the entirety of the album of The Wall… if I were stoned). It made food taste better. It made sleep *AMAZING*.

    Of freaking *COURSE* I remember it fondly!

    Anyway, my friend and his wife had the kids stay at the grandparents and they had friends come over and so they said something like “hey, it’s legal…” and they made an evening out of it. My bud said that he was lying on the bathroom floor, looking up at the bottle of water on the counter, wondering if he’d ever again be able to move. He wanted to move. Just to get a sip from that bottle of water. But he was on the floor.

    “It ain’t like it was when we were kids”, he told me.

    This is not me arguing that we need to make it illegal or anything. Hell, this is not me arguing that we need to regulate it or anything.

    But my friend who was a bit of a ‘head back in the day has told me that it ain’t like it used to be and I am willing to believe him.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

      Of course it’s different. The growers are breeding improved strains. Growing conditions are consistently good. Curing, which can take up to several weeks, is enormously better than it was back then.
      Interior shot of a commercial curing room. Note the use of stainless steel. The rooms are dark except when someone is doing something in them, and have carefully controlled temperature and humidity.Report

      • JoeSal in reply to Michael Cain says:

        I imagine even after all that advancement there is someone who requests:

        “Yeah, that’s great, do you have anything approximating (70s-80s-90s) ditch weed?”Report

        • Michael Cain in reply to JoeSal says:

          Or worse than ditch weed.

          When I was an undergraduate in the mid-1970s I had a summer job at an ag field lab. The land for the lab was part of the 15,000-acre storage area for the WWII Nebraska Ordnance Plant. During the war most of the space between the munition bunkers was planted in industrial hemp to produce fiber for ropes for the Navy. Once established, hemp is darned hard to get rid of — 30 years after the war the creek banks were still covered with the stuff. From time to time university students from Lincoln would sneak into the area to pick “marijuana.”Report

        • dragonfrog in reply to JoeSal says:


          Weak weed is coming back (in Canada at least) with legalization – that’s one of the things I’m happiest about!

          The constant push to breed higher and higher THC strains was because of prohibition (if you’re going to be carrying a fixed weight of illegal plant matter, optimize the risk / reward ratio by breeding it as strong as possible since profit is based on weight of THC and sentencing on total weight of plant matter).

          Now you can still get the 20% THC / 0% CBD wheelchair weed, but you can also get nice mild 6% THC / 6% CBD weed. You just chat with the nice person at the shop counter, and they’ll set you up with varieties that match what you’re after.

          And when I’ve gotten the stuff with something closer to a 1:1 THC:CBD ratio, it’s been more like what I remember from the 90s – really nice for falling asleep to, rather than something that’s nice enough but keeps me awake.

          For what it’s worth, Mexican ditch weed was never a thing here. A lot of the on-average strengthening of weed over time in the USA was a shift in markete share from Mexican to Canadian weed – the weed in Canada doubtless got stronger over the same time period too, but it was never (since I started in the 90s anyway) the kind of schwag it sounds like Americans had access to.Report

          • JoeSal in reply to dragonfrog says:

            Back in the day if it wasn’t shipped from mexico, then it was grown from the seeds from mexico, so there was a considerable consistency, the thing that varied was freshness. There was always this interesting parameter, that the closer to a river you were, the fresher stuff you could find.

            That reminds me, if yall ever find yourself near a river down here, dress in a old ratty t-shirt, and not something button up and starched like enforcement would wear.

            I do hear the new stuff is stronger, but my thing these days is coconut rum, and I only run through a bottle of that every six or seven months.Report

          • veronica d in reply to dragonfrog says:

            For what it’s worth, Mexican ditch weed was never a thing here. A lot of the on-average strengthening of weed over time in the USA was a shift in markete share from Mexican to Canadian weed

            That’s a big part of it. Not only is weed stronger, but it is way easier to find good weed.

            One thing we don’t consider: the difference between being a stoner high schooler trying to score, versus being an adult with a decent income and connections.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to JoeSal says:

          I believe the official term for it within the industry is “Dad Weed”.Report

    • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

      It’s much stronger these days, and noticeably so. In fact, we know it is because we can measure the THC content. There are hard numbers to back up the subjective experience.

      Keep in mind, though, that tolerance exists. People who smoked as teens, then quit for a few decades, then hit a joint now will get a much stronger high than a regular user. They are comparing a memory of when they were a regular user to the recent experience today with no tolerance. So it’s both true that it’s stronger and that people exaggerate how much stronger.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to veronica d says:

        What you mention is surely true.

        Another factor is that apparently a lot of the studies have one of a few common methodological flaws

        – they compare weed from the 80s measured in the 80s with 80s analytical chemistry techniques (which under-detected THC), to weed from the 2010s measured with much more sensitive techniques, and don’t correct for that.

        – they measure everything with modern techniques, meaning that their 80s samples have been sitting around in an evidence locker locker for 30 years degrading, and essentially conclude that since a 30 year old loaf of bread is staler than bread from this morning, everyone must have been eating stale bread in the 80s.

        Each decade’s “weed is X times stronger now than a decade ago” studies seems to start with “a decade ago” strength well below the last decade’s “today” value, and end with a “today” value much higher than the next decade’s study will end up using as it’s “a decade ago” value.

        Dana Larsen did a compilation of decade-by-decade “weed is X times stronger now than it was a decade ago” statements, and multiplied those X values together to find that weed now is 12,600 times stronger today than in the 60s. So, if today’s strong weed is 20% THC, in the 60s it must have been 0.0016% THC. In other words, it would have been totally inert and not become popular as a recreational drug in the first place.

        Or it’s gotten stronger, but not by nearly as much as is often claimed.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

        I’ve heard former alcoholics that fall off the wagon go through similar.

        Their brain never stops being able to drink however many drinks even though their bodies/livers were, effectively, brand new at this (again).

        So the old stoners when they encounter new weed not only don’t realize that they haven’t smoked for a couple of decades, they toke up and hold it in. Slamming mugs of whiskey the way they used to slam 3.2 beer.

        But my friend did make a big deal out of his story of looking up at that water bottle on the counter…Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

        Although beer has done that as well; I can buy heavy IPAs that hit 8% alcohol, or “barley wine” that goes even higher, but it’s still served in pints, so if I’m used to the 3.2 beer that Jaybird talks about down-thread then I’ll also be talking about how much stronger beer is these days…Report

  5. Michael Cain says:

    ThTh2: I have lost track of the number of US dot maps I have seen showing where such-and-such is occurring that are dead ringers for a US dot map showing population. I blame it on “they bought us this expensive map-making software, we have to do something with it.”Report

    • George Turner in reply to Michael Cain says:

      I think most journalists would be better off if they’d run their stories past high-school graduates before publishing them.

      I just ran across UK Independent story on Elon Musk’s Starship testing that said:

      Elon Musk’s SpaceX has applied to test its Starship spacecraft in orbital flight, marking significant progress towards a manned flight to Mars.

      The sleek Starship will fly to an altitude of 22.5km before landing on the same launch pad it will use to take off, according to a new filing with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

      It’s one of those atmospheric straight up and down orbits? “Orbital”, “sub-orbital”, it’s all just sciency words!Report

  6. Chip Daniels says:


    This is the opening scene in a future episode of Star Trek in which Captain James Tiberius Vega is relentlessly pursued by a strange alien craft…Report

  7. North says:

    I feel almost bad for quibbling with ThTh1 but I am going to. Yes, prosperity is a huge element in reducing population growth but an equally great elements is women’s rights and women’s education. I grant that one can argue that those are side effects of prosperity and historically they do tend to go hand in hand but I think women’s rights and women’s education need to be highlighted there.Report

  8. North says:

    Eesh, California is definitely gonna hurt a lot more before it gets better on the housing front. A bill that’ll be ineffective at its purported goal while exacerbating the housing incentives and problems. What an idiotic policy choice.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

      “In an indication of how dire housing problems have become, it also garnered the support of the California Business Roundtable, representing leading employers, and was unopposed by the state’s biggest landlords’ group.”

      For the record- I’m not a fan of rent control for the same reasons most here are.

      However, when the maximum rent hike is 5 percent over inflation, the disincentive to build is reduced to almost nil. For example, in Los Angeles, newer buildings aren’t rent controlled, but most landlords don’t increase the rents by more than what the new law allows anyway.Report

      • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        Yes, and a lot of landlords in CA are probably NIMBY home owners who’re pretty comfortable with a rent control scheme that won’t actually bite them and will discourage the denser building they don’t want to see happen around them.

        From the article the rent control will generally not effect the overwhelming majority of rental buildings but will stifle gentrification. So it’ll be simultaneously ineffective in the immediate term and also will impede liberalization of building restrictions AND discourage rental longer term. It’s like the trifecta of shit policy.

        I mean I can see, clear as day, why this law sailed through while the zoning relaxing law got shivved from a political point of view. This law doesn’t hurt the entrenched interests whereas the zoning law might have actually changed things. They’re gonna have a whole lot more homeless on the streets out there in Cali. I wouldn’t care much if Cali wasn’t a stand in for liberals nationally but as a liberal it’s pretty embarrassing.Report

  9. Aaron David says:

    Thth-7 Maybe it is stronger, as there is no link for 5 and 7 and 9…Report