Catch Up: Monsanto Ceases to Exist, Heat, and Stuff!

A picture of a rose because, well, why not?

That heading up there is not a typo. Monsanto ceased to exist as of June 7 when the merger with ag giant Bayer was completed. The name “Monsanto” will be retired completely within a few months, the company will no longer exist, and all of its business will be conducted under the Bayer name. The complete acquisition will take a few months longer. Bayer still has to sell off some of its business parts to satisfy the DOJ’s requirements for approval of the acquisition, but it’s pretty much a done deal.

If you don’t find these mergers concerning, well, you should. As the saying goes, “the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history”. The claim that these “mega-mergers” improve the efficiency of a company, reduce prices to consumers, etc., is pure nonsense. There were valid reasons for the rise of the “trust busters” in the late 19th and early 20th century as the abuses of the monopolies became so great and so obvious that not even their wealth and influence could prevent the outrage that caused the development of the anti-monopoly laws, lawsuits and legal actions that broke many of them up back then.

Trade Wars

Oh brother… I could go on and on about this nonsense. I won’t. I try to stay away from politics here because, well, why bother? You get flooded with enough of that nonsense in other forums. However, I find it more than a little ironic to have you-know-who here in Wisconsin celebrating giving away more than $4 billion in taxpayer money to a Chinese company to lure it to Wisconsin while at the same time engaging in never ending tweet-storms about unfair trade practices by that country.

Oh, I should add that the company quietly announced that, to paraphrase them, “oh, by the way, the factory we’re going to put up is going to be a fraction of the size we said it would, isn’t going to make the product we said it was going to make, and we’re only going to hire a few hundred people not the 13,000 we said, but that the big factory will be put up “real soon”. Maybe.”

What remains to be seen is where FoxCon is going to find any employees. The unemployment rate in the state is under 4%, and in some parts of the state it’s under 3%. Employers have tried hiring bonuses, improving benefits, even upping starting wages. Several companies here have now even dropped the high school diploma requirement.

How Hot Is It?

In a word, very. It hit 97 F here yesterday (Friday), with very high humidity. Heat index was up around 107 the weather people said. It’s supposed to be even worse today with a heat index pushing 110. It was already 83 when I got up at 5:30 this morning. Basically no one goes outside in this weather unless they absolutely have to.

I remember what it was like milking cows in this kind of weather. Dear lord, it was bad. The cows were miserable, we were miserable, the cats were miserable, the dog was miserable…

I don’t know what in the world made me think taking this photo was a good idea. MrsGF makes me wear the dopey vest. Make it easier for the police to find my body when I get hit by a truck, I guess.

While I looked at the poor bike sitting there in the garage behind the car, and was momentarily tempted, not even I am crazy enough to go out on the back roads and trails on a bicycle in this kind of weather.

I’ve become addicted to biking, though. Whenever the weather is even close to being decent I want to get out and put at least a few miles on. Being addicted to biking isn’t a bad thing, of course. It’s healthy, fun, relaxing.

But definitely not when it’s this hot and humid.

Amateur Radio Stuff

Okay, I have to admit it, I’m a bit bored with the FT8 mode. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not agreeing with the curmudgeons who think FT8 is ruining amateur radio. FT8 is just one of a long line of technologies that was going to “destroy amateur radio” according to the GOBs (good ole boys).  If you get on some of the amateur radio forums like QRZ and listen to some of these people ranting, you’d think FT8 was the harbinger of the apocalypse, for heaven’s sake.

But dam, FT8 does work if you want to make contacts under bad conditions and with less that ideal equipment.

Speaking of the QRZ website, I don’t know what’s wrong with some of the people who stalk the forums. And I do not use the term “stalk” lightly. That’s what they seem to do. They haunt the forums just waiting to pounce on anyone they think they can get away with insulting. Newcomers to the hobby are the natural prey of these jackasses. The most innocuous question will result in them pouncing on them without mercy with snide remarks, sarcasm, insults, accusations of them not knowing what they’re doing.

It’s a shame, really. QRZ has some great resources and there are a lot of people in the forums who are genuinely willing to help when you run into problems or are looking for information. But this handful of jackasses really ruin things. The moderators really need to step up and shut this kind of crap down. Right now QRZ has become so toxic because of some of these people that I have started to tell newcomers to avoid it completely and when my current subscription runs out next year I might not renew it.

Astronomy Stuff

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 8.01.13 AM
my 11 inch Celestron set up in the driveway. I must confess I don’t use it very often because the thing is almost impossible for one person to set up. Just the optical tube goes about 70 pounds.

Newcomers to this blog or whatever it is may not know I’m also an amateur astronomer because I haven’t talked about that in a long time here. I have two telescopes, the big 11 inch Celestron shown here, and a 3 inch Meade. I’ve been fascinated with astronomy since I was a kid. But as much as I love astronomy, there are aspects of it that I find more than a little tiresome, the main one being so-called scientists who claim life is everywhere out there.

It seems NASA spokespersons and even a lot of professional astronomers have gone right off the deep end with this. Mars could have life. Or may have had life billions of years ago. Moons of Jupiter and Saturn could have life. Hell, according to some of these people, Pluto could have life because they think there may be liquid water under the crust. Venus, which is as toxic a place as you can imagine with temperatures of 700+ degrees and sulfuric acid rain could have life, they tell us. And…

well, it’s all BS. I’m sorry, it just is.

As the Fermi paradox points out, if life out there is as common as some people claim, where the heck is it? Fermi pointed out that, given the number of stars in the galaxy and the age of the universe, if there was any intelligent life out there, there should be some kind of evidence that it exists that should be obvious to us by now. So where is it?

Despite the PR fluff pieces coming out of NASA and from astronomers who really should know better, there is no evidence of life anywhere outside of the Earth. The SETI project has turned up nothing but a few questionable signals that could be from natural sources or from man made sources. The Mars rovers have turned up some interesting results,  yes, but any sign of actual life either now or in the past? No. A lot has been made of the presence of methane on Mars and they’re attempting to link that to some kind of life. But there are other, far more likely explanations for the presence of methane.

We have no evidence at all that there is life out there. None. All we have is speculation, theory, beliefs, claims, and no actual evidence.

A study by Oxford scientists Sandberg, Drexler and Ord that came out a short time ago, examined the Fermi paradox and the Drake equation and other factors with an unbiased eye and, well, the results aren’t good for the proponents of life being common. They found huge margins for error in the calculations and that the “evidence” presented to support wide spread life in the universe is little more than wishful thinking.

The Drake equation is pretty much worthless. The parameters assigned to the equation are, well, flat out guesses. No one knows for sure. The parameters are often wildly optimistic, failing to take into account known facts.

If you look at the actual facts, the results are less optimistic. As the authors said in their report, “When we take account of realistic uncertainty, replacing point estimates by probability distributions that reflect current scientific understanding, we find no reason to be highly confident that the galaxy (or observable universe) contains other civilizations.”

“When we update this prior in light of the Fermi observation, we find a substantial probability that we are alone in our galaxy, and perhaps even in our observable universe.

“‘Where are they?’ — probably extremely far away, and quite possibly beyond the cosmological horizon and forever unreachable.”



Author: grouchyfarmer

Yes, I'm a former farmer. Sort of. I'm also an amateur radio operator, amateur astronomer, gardener, maker of furniture, photographer.

8 thoughts on “Catch Up: Monsanto Ceases to Exist, Heat, and Stuff!”

  1. As if Monsanto wasn’t big and bad enough! The idea of life in other galaxies is cool, but hearing there signals in the 50 years we’ve been listening is a crap shoot. Waves traveling millions of years has to pass by us in a very small window of time, and the civilizations that sent them would most likely be long gone. But cool to imagine those signals out their beyond us and before.


    1. It would be interesting to see what the effect of knowing there are other intelligent civilizations out there would have on our culture here.

      A lot of scientists have pointed out the same thing you have, that we’ve only been searching in a very small window of time, and the universe has been around for over 13 billion years. There has been speculation that the problem isn’t just the odds of life arising, but it’s also one of timing. Other civilizations could have been out there, but are long gone. Or have yet to develop to the point of inventing technologies we could detect at great distances.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think our various musings (and studies) on the subject are the like the blind trying to calculate the existence and nature of light from assumptions based on darkness and wishful thinking.

    I don’t dismiss the idea of life out there. But I think it’s
    a) unlikely to be complex civilization forming life – the various necessary ingredients, including but not limited to having the ability to physically create intricate and useful tools, necessary to create a civilization are long odds. Which I think is why we don’t see it.
    b) unlikely to be in the form we would recognize as life. We have such a limited perspective. Why don’t we think a gas can become life? It’s absurd. But – there is no reason life has to have same physical requirements we have on earth except we have no other reference.
    c) unlikely that a technologically advanced civilization would co-exist in time and travel-local space with us. The Universe is both old and huge.

    Once you factor the odds of a & b and then add in the odds of c, Fermi’s question isn’t so much of a paradox. It’s just a bad assumption.

    That said – I don’t expect to hear of extra terrestrial life in my lifetime. Or even the next generation’s. I expect we will implode our own technology civilization before we find any.

    PS – Can you see the asteroid with your telescope?


    1. You’re right in that we have a very limited perspective on this. Just because life here on Earth is the way it is doesn’t mean there couldn’t be other very, very different types of intelligence out there that we would be in capable of recognizing.

      Can I see an asteroid… Well, sort of. Asteroids are so small and generally so far out that they are indistinguishable from very distant stars for the most part. Usually the way they are identified is by tracking their movement. What you’ll see is a tiny dot that moves against the stationary background of stars. They generally do not move very fast, either. A long exposure of several hours might show it as a short streak of light. Usually they’re discovered by comparing images of the same area of sky over a period of days or weeks. The asteroids in the field of view will have moved while the stars are in the same place.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. AAAW. The article I read emphasized how it was the second largest in the asteroid belt. Somehow that made if feel like thing you would be able to see craters in. But obviously everything is relative. Just like passing close by is 1.5 million miles away.


        1. Hmm, looks like the reply function is messing up again. Let’s see if I can do this again.

          The only good images we have of asteroids have come from space craft investigating them. Japan has one going on now called Hayabusa2. If you do a google search you’ll come up with news stories and some amazing photos it has sent back to Earth. It is also going to put a lander down on the surface and hopefully return some material for study.

          Asteroids are really hard to spot because they’re really far away, generally very small, and often reflect very little light. Even the Hubble has difficulty picking up details even on the larger ones.

          The biggest asteroid is Ceres, about 950 kilometers in diameter. It’s actually classified as a dwarf planet. Vesta is a bit smaller, but somewhat closer and brighter. It’s one of the very few that can be seen with the naked eye, and even then it looks like just a tiny and very dim dot in the sky.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Regards temps – 98F here with an index of 112F and 49% humidity. I’d say we’re in for some thunderstorms which I love.

    And regards Fermi – when he made that statement we didn’t know about planets orbiting distant stars – now we do. And more of the variables in the Drake equation are being filled in as time progresses and more discoveries are made.

    I think the key reason we’ve never made contact is because the distances are so mind bogglingly huge. Oh we can see them sure – but getting there will require some rather more exotic technologies.


    1. It’s certainly possible someone is out there and as you say the distances are huge.

      While it would be interesting to know that someone is indeed out there, considering that even the closest star is so far away that it would take something like 6-9 years for light to make a round trip, that’s one hell of a communications lag. A lot of the stars that we’ve found planets around are enormously farther. Just sending a one-way message would take longer than a human lifetime in a lot of cases. And since faster than light communications or travel is apparently going to be limited to science fiction, well, to be honest, I sometimes wonder what all the fuss is about. If we did find one we couldn’t communicate with them and we certainly couldn’t travel there. If we could somehow boost a ship up to a respectable percentage of the speed of light, the crew would experience time dilation and the trip for them wouldn’t be too bad, but they’d come back home to find their families dead from old age, and probably their children and grandchildren long gone as well.

      I would dearly love it if science would find some kind of trick to get around the light speed limitations, but I rather doubt that will ever happen.


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