Thoughts on Pumas, Infrastructure, Hurricanes, Armed Forces and Biden’s Popularity Dip

U.S. President Biden signs the American Rescue Plan in Washington
U.S. President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan for economic relief due to COVID-19 inside the Oval Office on March 11, 2021
REUTERS/Tom Brenner TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Dan zeroes in on some curious thoughts and news tidbits with local impact or interest here in the Hamptons, including pumas, infrastructure, the Armed Forces, hurricanes, Biden’s popularity dip, and global warming.

PUMAS

I believe in reincarnation. And so I am always on the lookout for what my future incarnation might look like. The other day I was watching a PBS documentary about pumas where a cameraman with a very long lens brought me close up to this 6-foot-long cat resting safely on the limb of a tall tree in South America.

He was beautiful. His whiskers bristled. His eyes shone. His nose quivered.

“Pumas are remarkable,” the narrator whispered. “The eyes see parts of the light spectrum that no human sees.”  The eyes blinked. “The nose smells the slightest scent a half a mile away.” The nose stopped quivering. “The puma’s brain can arrange a leap to a new limb with the accuracy of a millimeter. And it maps the entire jungle floor. Danger? A puma knows the exact set of trails that leads him home to safety from miles away.”

And in a flash, the puma was gone.

I thought, “Boy, this would be great to come back as. Imagine experiencing the world with all these enhanced senses.”

The scene shifted to the jungle floor. It was dawn. A mist covered the foliage in a wet shine. A breeze shuffled the leaves. And there, if you looked carefully, was the puma, his soft, spotted fur providing first-rate camouflage. He stood alert, but still. Suddenly, with a great leap, he was gone. Now we see him dragging a dead antelope by its neck off into the underbrush.

“When the puma is hungry,” the narrator continued, “which is every day, he eats.”

Wait a minute. What a mess. In fine restaurants, I want food brought to me on a silver tray. Shrimp scampi on rice with a glass of San Pelligrino. A beautiful arrangement. I photograph it. Then I eat. Later, I go on Instagram and post it. This is what I ate.

And I changed my mind. Don’t want to be a puma.

INFRASTRUCTURE

The U.S. Senate has just passed the new $1 trillion infrastructure bill. But at the same time, President Joe Biden’s approval rating dropped another point. It’s now at 50%. How could this be?

Prior to this time, Biden has by executive order given away $1.8 trillion and $1.2 trillion free to everybody. It arrived weekly into everybody’s bank account. And nobody had to do anything to get it. Just stay home and we’ll get you through.

This time, one of my friends noted, we have to work for it. We’ll need to rivet steel bridges, steamroll asphalt roads, construct railroad cars, build new airport runways and erect wind farm turbines. Looks like a lot of work.

What’s with this guy?

SOLDIERS

I just read that the U.S. military is ordering that all active-duty personnel, including soldiers, get themselves vaccinated by mid-September. This is really good news. But what we also need to do is order all soldiers from other countries vaccinated by October 1. Otherwise we won’t fight with them.

HURRICANES

Having been publisher and/or editor of Dan’s Papers weekly for the last 62 years, I have been in a unique position to see longtime trends. Nothing escapes my notice. Nope.

One of the most extraordinary changes has been with the number of grand hurricanes that hit the Hamptons. Atlantic hurricanes begin to form in Africa, drift west across the Atlantic gaining speed to plow into the Caribbean Islands before encountering the jet stream and pivoting north. From 1960 when I founded Dan’s, to about 1990, an average of one monster hurricane would get carried to either near the Hamptons or dead center every three years.

Long Island sticks out crossways like a baseball bat as hurricanes charge up the coast. We’re the only place along the coast like that.

Over the years, the number of hurricanes I’ve observed forming in Africa and charging west into the Caribbean has not changed. But since 1990, fewer have come up the coast.

Instead of wheeling north over the Caribbean, they linger on westward a bit and don’t make the turn until they’re in the Gulf of Mexico. Thus, big blows now hit Texas and Louisiana and sometimes the east coast of Mexico. It’s been quite dramatic. To get themselves back on course to hit us, they are blocked by the big peninsula of Florida. They’re stuck in there.

Thus, we’ve recently had a drought of hurricanes. Used to be nine out of 10 would charge up the coast. Now it’s maybe three of 10. And mostly those weaken and hit Georgia or South Carolina.

If we were just a few years into this change, you might think this is just a blip that will soon reverse itself. But this has been 30 years. We had Sandy. And that was 10 years ago.

An article that appeared in The New York Times last week explains this. It’s been an effect of global warming. A bad effect. But good for us.

The study was headed up by a Dr. Niklas Boers, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and recently published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change. It reports that the Gulf Stream is slowly weakening. It’s only one aspect of a larger report, but several independent scientists told the Times that it seems accurate.

Put a beachball into the Gulf Stream from a Caribbean Island, and it will carry it north bobbing along all the way to up the coast to Nova Scotia, then pivot east to end in Ireland. It explains why there are palm trees on the west coast of Ireland. The Caribbean water arriving is warmer there.

So what if it’s weaker?  Well, if a hurricane builds its strength crossing the Atlantic from Africa to encounter a weaker Gulf Stream, it will become less and less successful in making that hurricane turn. Thus, the hurricane continues on to swing north in the Gulf of Mexico to cause its damage there.

Voila! A bit of good news about the climate. Call it the best piece of NIMBY ever. For us.

And here we are, approaching the height of the hurricane season. Knock wood. It’s all over by the end of November.

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