May 1, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 5:26 PM


The first arrests from DeSantis's election police take extensive toll (Lori Rozsa, May 1, 2023, Washington Post)

The fallout came fast when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's new election police unit charged Peter Washington with voter fraud last summer as part of a crackdown against felons who'd allegedly broken the law by casting a ballot.

The Orlando resident lost his job supervising irrigation projects, and along with it, his family's health insurance. His wife dropped her virtual classes at Florida International University to help pay their rent. Future plans went out the window.

"It knocked me to my knees, if you want to know the truth," he said.

But not long after, the case against Washington began falling apart. A Ninth Judicial Circuit judge ruled the statewide prosecutor who filed the charges didn't actually have jurisdiction to do so. Washington's attorney noted that he had received an official voter identification card in the mail after registering. The case was dismissed in February.

One by one, many of the initial 20 arrests announced by the Office of Election Crimes and Security have stumbled in court. Six cases have been dismissed. Five other defendants accepted plea deals that resulted in no jail time. Only one case has gone to trial, resulting in a split verdict. 

Of course, this wins Tiny Trump even more MAGA votes.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


An interview with Q Hydrogen: Creating a 'world's first' in New Hampshire's North Country (HADLEY BARNDOLLAR - MAY 1, 2023, NH Bulletin)

How will Q Hydrogen provide power?

The Groveton plant will serve a dual purpose. First, Q Hydrogen will look to facilitate direct and cost-favorable power connections for users building on the remainder of the site. The former paper mill and industrial property has approximately 140 acres available for new facilities or businesses to set up shop.

Ultimately, Q Hydrogen wants to connect to the regional electric grid via ISO New England to provide power on a larger scale. 

New energy resources that wish to connect to the regional grid have to go through ISO New England's interconnection process. ISO New England publicly lists the current status of requests for connection of new or increased capacity generating facilities. 

"We are going to work initially as a direct provider to (commercial) users on the site," Irvin said. "The end goal will be to produce electricity for the New England market."

Why did Q Hydrogen pick New Hampshire?

A Babson College graduate who for years resided in the Boston area, Irvin was very familiar with New England and noted the region was the first to deregulate its energy market. 

"We wanted to be in a regulatory environment where the idea of bringing out something new could be a bit more of a streamlined process," he said. "A collaborative environment between regulators, politicians." 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


ChatGPT might show more empathy than docs, study finds (Tina Reed, 5/01/23, Axios)

 In the study -- published Friday by the research journal JAMA Network -- researchers led by the University of California San Diego, La Jolla took a randomly drawn sample of about 200 patient questions from social media platform Reddit's AskDocs social media forum.

Then both human doctors and ChatGPT answered the questions.

They had a clinical team evaluate both of the answers to each of the questions, rating them on the quality of the answers and the empathy demonstrated.

The chatbot won. It wasn't close.

Evaluators preferred the response by the computer nearly 80% of the time over the human doctor's answer.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Japan's grand plan to power into the EV fast lane (SCOTT FOSTER, MAY 1, 2023, Asia Times)

Japan Inc's move should put further pressure on EV prices, accelerate the transition away from internal combustion engines and broadly benefit consumers.

Toyota currently sells more cars than any other company in the world while Honda and Nissan also ride high in global rankings. Yet Nissan, via the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, is the only Japanese company that ranks among the top 15 EV producers.

In 2022, the Alliance ranked 10th with less than one-fifth the output of industry leader BYD. If they seek to remain auto industry leaders, Toyota and Honda must convert their large global franchises and popularity with consumers into meaningful shares of the EV market.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The puzzle of Neanderthal aesthetics (Rebecca Wragg Sykes, 30th April 2023, BBC)

Sometime between 135,000-50,000 years ago, hands slick with animal blood carried more than 35 huge horned heads into a small, dark, winding cave. Tiny fires were lit amidst a boulder-jumbled floor, and the flame-illuminated chamber echoed to dull pounding, cracking and squelching sounds as the skulls of bison, wild cattle, red deer and rhinoceros were smashed open.

This isn't the gory beginning of an ice age horror novel, but the setting for a fascinating Neanderthal mystery. At the start of 2023 researchers announced that a Spanish archaeological site known as Cueva Des-Cubierta (a play on "uncover" and "discover") held an unusually large number of big-game skulls. All were fragmented but their horns or antlers were relatively intact, and some were found near to traces of hearths.

While caves in the upper Lozoya Valley, about an hour's drive north of Madrid, had been known about since the 19th Century, the Des-Cubierta site was only found in 2009 during investigation of other cavities on the hillside. As researchers slowly uncovered the layers inside, a startling picture of the cave began to emerge. The skulls, they argued, pointed to something beyond the simple detritus of hunting and gathering. Instead, they saw the skulls as symbolic - perhaps even a shrine containing trophies of the chase.

If correct, it would raise a tantalising prospect - Neanderthals were capable of the kind of complex symbolic concepts and behaviours that characterise our own species.