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Reimagining ET...

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Life on other planets might not look like any beings we’re used to on Earth. It may even be unrecognizable at first to scientists searching for it. Credit: William Hand

Topics: Astrobiology, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Planetary Science, SETI, Space Exploration

Sarah Stewart Johnson was a college sophomore when she first stood atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano. Its dried lava surface differed from the eroded, tree-draped mountains of her home state of Kentucky. Johnson wandered away from the other young researchers she was with and toward a distant ridge of the 13,800-foot summit. Looking down, she turned over a rock with the toe of her boot. To her surprise, a tiny fern lived underneath it, sprouting from ash and cinder cones. “It felt like it stood for all of us, huddled under that rock, existing against the odds,” Johnson says.

Her true epiphany, though, wasn’t about the hardiness of life on Earth or the hardships of being human: It was about aliens. Even if a landscape seemed strange and harsh from a human perspective, other kinds of life might find it quite comfortable. The thought opened up the cosmic real estate and the variety of life she imagined might be beyond Earth’s atmosphere. “It was on that trip that the idea of looking for life in the universe began to make sense to me,” Johnson says.

Later, Johnson became a professional at looking. As an astronomy postdoc at Harvard University in the late 2000s and early 2010s, she investigated how astronomers might use genetic sequencing—detecting and identifying DNA and RNA—to find evidence of aliens. Johnson found the work exciting (the future alien genome project!), but it also made her wonder: What if extraterrestrial life didn’t have DNA, RNA, or other nucleic acids? What if their cells got instructions in some other biochemical way?

As an outlet for heretical thoughts like this, Johnson started writing in style too lyrical and philosophical for scientific journals. Her typed musings would later turn into the 2020 popular science book The Sirens of Mars. Inside its pages, she probed the idea that other planets were truly other. So their inhabitants might be very different, at a fundamental and chemical level, from anything in this world. “Even places that seem familiar—like Mars, a place that we think we know intimately—can completely throw us for a loop,” she says. “What if that’s the life case?”

The Search for Extraterrestrial Life as We Don’t Know It, Sarah Scoles, Scientific American

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Small Steps, Large Changes...

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A vertical shock tube at Los Alamos National Laboratory is used for turbulence studies. Sulfur hexafluoride is injected at the top of the 5.3-meter tube and allowed to mix with air. The waste is ejected into the environment through the blue hose at the tube tower’s lower left; in the fiscal year 2021, such emissions made up some 16% of the lab’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The inset shows a snapshot of the mixing after a shock has crossed the gas interface; the darker gas is SF6, and the lighter is air. The intensities yield density values.

Topics: Civilization, Climate Change, Global Warming, Research

Reducing air travel, improving energy efficiency in infrastructure, and installing solar panels are among the obvious actions that individual researchers and their institutions can implement to reduce their carbon footprint. But they can take many other small and large steps, too, from reducing the use of single-use plastics and other consumables and turning off unused instruments to exploiting waste heat and siting computing facilities powered by renewable energy. On a systemic level, measures can encourage behaviors to reduce carbon emissions; for example, valuing in-person invited job talks and remote ones equally could lead to less air travel by scientists.

So far, the steps that scientists are taking to reduce their carbon footprint are largely grassroots, notes Hannah Johnson, a technician in the imaging group at the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology in Utrecht and a member of Green Labs Netherlands, a volunteer organization that promotes sustainable science practices. The same goes for the time and effort they put in for the cause. One of the challenges, she says, is to get top-down support from institutions, funding agencies, and other national and international scientific bodies.

At some point, governments are likely to make laws that support climate sustainability, says Astrid Eichhorn, a professor at the University of Southern Denmark whose research is in quantum gravity and who is active on the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities committee for climate sustainability. “We are in a situation to be proactive and change in ways that do not compromise the quality of our research or our collaborations,” she says. “We should take that opportunity now and not wait for external regulations.”

Suppose humanity manages to limit emissions worldwide to 300 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). In that case, there is an 83% chance of not exceeding the 1.5 °C temperature rise above preindustrial levels set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, according to a 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report. That emissions cap translates to a budget of 1.2 tons of CO2e per person annually through 2050. Estimates for the average emissions by researchers across scientific fields are much higher and range widely in part because of differing and incomplete accounting approaches, says Eichhorn. She cites values from 7 to 18 tons a year for European scientists.

Scientists take steps in the lab toward climate sustainability, Toni Feder, Physics Today.

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Outcomes, Language and Syntax...

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Credit: michaelmjc/Getty Images (chalkboard); Scientific American (words and design)

Topics: Biofuels, Civilization, Climate Change, Existentialism

Climate change is already disrupting the lives of billions of people. What was once considered a problem for the future is raging all around us right now. This reality has helped convince a majority of the public that we must act to limit suffering. In an August 2022 survey by the Pew Research Center, 71 percent of Americans said they had experienced at least one heat wave, flood, drought, or wildfire in the past year. Among those people, more than 80 percent said climate change had contributed. In another 2022 poll, 77 percent of Americans who said they had been affected by extreme weather in the past five years saw climate change as a major crisis.

Yet the response is not meeting the urgency of the crisis. A transition to clean energy is underway, but it is happening too slowly to avoid the worst effects of climate change. The U.S. government finally took long-delayed action by passing the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022, much more progress is needed, and entrenched politics hamper it. The partisan divide largely stems from conservatives’ perception that climate change solutions will involve big government controlling people’s choices and imposing sacrifices. Research shows that Republicans’ skepticism about climate change is largely attributable to a conflict between ideological values and often-discussed solutions, particularly government regulations. A 2019 study on Climatic Change found that political and ideological polarization on climate change is particularly acute in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries.

One thing we can all do to ease this gridlock is to alter the language and messages we use about climate change. The words we use and the stories we tell matter. Transforming the way we talk about climate change can engage people and build the political will needed to implement policies strong enough to confront the crisis with the urgency required.

To inspire people, we need to tell a story not of sacrifice and deprivation but of opportunity and improvement in our lives, health, and well-being—a story of humans flourishing in a post-fossil-fuel age.

The Right Words Are Crucial to Solving Climate Change, Susan Joy Hassol, Scientific American

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Preparing for my virtual booth for VIRTUOUS CON,

this preliminary and temporary set up will due and

since I am a "I changed my mind person" I may look

completely different by the time that weekend arrives.

Check it out February 25-26, 2023 at virtuouscon.com/
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Got to thank the VIRTUOUS CON crew because

this exercise just revealed to me a few social media spots

need lots of updating and attention.

Well look like I gotta take care of all that and

keep pushing Forward, Onward and Upward.
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Planet Video...

 

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Exoplanets, Space Exploration

In 2008, HR8799 was the first extrasolar planetary system ever directly imaged. Now, the famed system stars in its very own video.

Using observations collected over the past 12 years, Northwestern University astrophysicist Jason Wang has assembled a stunning time-lapse video of the family of four planets — each more massive than Jupiter — orbiting their star. The video gives viewers an unprecedented glimpse into planetary motion.

“It’s usually difficult to see planets in orbit,” Wang said. “For example, it isn’t apparent that Jupiter or Mars orbit our sun because we live in the same system and don’t have a top-down view. Astronomical events happen too quickly or slowly to capture in a movie. But this video shows planets moving on a human time scale. I hope it enables people to enjoy something wondrous.”

An expert in exoplanet imaging, Wang is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA).

Watch distant worlds dance around their sun, Amanda Morris, Northwestern University.

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Challenging Utopia...

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Note: The origin of my harshness was this, ON the day we laid Tyre Nichols to rest, I was commenting on a police report of a double amputee being shot to death by the police. Trolls have to troll. After my rebuttal, I heard nothing else.

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights, Star Trek

A common trope in science fiction is a misunderstanding, intentional, or unintentional, of evolution. Over time we get smarter, more peaceful, better, or something like that.

The definition of evolution given at the outset of this entry is very general; there are more specific ones in the literature, some of which do not fit this general characterization. Here is a sampling.

Although the work of Charles Darwin (see the entry on Darwinism) is usually the starting point for contemporary understandings of evolution, interestingly, he does not use the term in the first edition of On the Origin of Species, referring instead to "descent with modification.” In the early-mid 20th century, the "modern synthesis" gave birth to population genetics, which provided a mathematization of Darwinian evolutionary theory in light of Mendelian genetics (see also the entry on ecological genetics). This yielded a prevalent—probably the most prevalent—understanding of evolution as "any change in the frequency of alleles within a population from one generation to the next." Note, however, that this definition refers to evolution only in a micro-evolutionary context and thus doesn't reference the emergence of new species (and their new characteristics), although it is intended to underlie those macroevolutionary changes (see the entry on philosophy of macroevolution).

In a popular textbook, Douglas Futuyma gives a more expansive definition:

[biological evolution] is a change in the properties of groups of organisms over the course of generations…it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportions of different forms of a gene within a population to the alterations that led from the earliest organism to dinosaurs, bees, oaks, and humans. (2005: 2)

Source: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evolution/

For one hour of fictional products, it has to be shortened: over time, things get better.

Over time we will reach nirvana. Over time science will solve the mysteries that vex us. Over time we will learn to "live together as brothers and sisters" or perish as fools, per Dr. King. Both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gene Roddenberry were optimistic evolutionists. They could see a future where we conquered our prejudices along with the stars. We worked together across skin tones as one humanity, in peace (at least on Earth), expanding our survivability on other worlds. Particularly for King, Nichele Nichols represented our people would survive into the future, a detail sci-fi writers like H.G. Wells (an enthusiastic eugenicist) conveniently forgot, and H.P. Lovecraft was openly racist and hostile, a reality that still plagues both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. It is why African American speculative fiction writers like Octavia Butler and N.K. Jemisin is important in an era of projection, obfuscation, and, ironically, "cancel culture." Afrofuturism came from the same well as women's fiction, queer fiction, and studies centered on each genre: to be seen. Florida might as well call February Blank History Month. Frederick Douglass, a Republican, orator, and abolitionist can't be mentioned in "DeSantis-Stan."

Things, over time, don't necessarily get better.

Are we living in [the] age of stupid? The era of the idiot? The answer, of course, is yes, with examples of monstrous moronicism everywhere – from climate deniers to the "plandemic" crowd who believe Covid-19 was cooked up in Bill Gates' basement. On the other hand, human beings have always been incredible creatures. A better question is whether we are, as a species, becoming dumber. If this is already the era of the idiot, what comes next?

An "Idiocracy," according to filmmaker Mike Judge. The Beavis and Butt-head, King of the Hill, and Silicon Valley creator's dystopian 2006 comedy (which he directed and co-wrote with Etan Cohen) arrived with its own terminology to help us prepare for the upcoming reality T.V. special that we may call The Collapse of Reality Itself.

Idiocracy: a disturbingly prophetic look at the future of America – and our era of stupidity, Mike Judge, The Guardian

To get to the "get better" part, fictional Earth and Vulcan two millennia before, had to go through, and survive their global nuclear conflicts (not an easy trick - so far, we have no models). The Vulcans discovered "o'thea": a philosophy of logic/reality-truth after massive savagery and infighting. Earthlings, after MAGA, went through a few things that aren't for the squeamish.

Leon Festnger studied an apocalyptic UFO cult in the 1950s – a precursor to the Heaven’s Gate Cult of the 1990s. They were sure the world would end and had a date. The faithful sold all their worldly goods and waited for the apocalypse, and waited, and waited. Some of the former faithful felt discouraged and left. Others felt their “vibrations” had saved the Earth from destruction. Simple Psychology defines it thus: “Cognitive dissonance (CD) refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. CD produces a feeling of discomfort, leading to an alteration in attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance, etc. “For example, when people smoke (behavior) and they know that smoking causes cancer (cognition). “Festinger’s (1957) cognitive dissonance theory suggests that we have an inner drive to hold all our attitudes and beliefs in harmony and avoid disharmony (or dissonance).”

"Party of Apocalypse" - Reginald L. Goodwin

Jordan Klepper turns the crazy into a shtick on the Daily Show. Crashing Trump's first campaign rally in South Carolina, he ran into a fanbase that has not only still stayed faithful to their cult leader, but they also do not accept Joe Biden as the current president. In their minds, Trump is still president, and they probably wouldn't mind if he suspended The Constitution, elections, and REMAINED president, plugging in his children and grandchildren. This rule by royalty is what Europeans left Europe for. Jordan himself is worried.

We used to have two Americas based on a social construct of race. We now have two Americas based on logic, and illogic, reality and nonreality, fact, and fiction. The purveyor of 73% of election misinformation on the planet was suspended from social media after a filmed, live insurrection on January 6, 2021, that he encouraged, where people died, excrement spread at the Capitol. But, those were "crisis actors," Black Lives Matter, or Antifa (again, which means anti-fascist, and I can't imagine anyone but a fascist having a problem with that). He has now been re-platformed by Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. Misinformation is their business model, and the bottom line is far more important than citizenship and a federal republic. The College Board, in a move of abject cowardice, dumbed down the African American AP curriculum, piloted at 60 high schools, and released stripped down nationwide because it hurt the feelings of the High Potentate of DeSantis-Stan!

This is probably what a "Collapse of Reality Itself" looks like.

And it didn't take 500 years, rabid procreation, or a nuclear holocaust to get there.

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Cosmic Family Portraits...

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Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and Jupiter ERS Team; Image processing by Ricardo Hueso/UPV/EHU and Judy Schmidt

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Planetary Science, Space Exploration

Jupiter's rings, its moons Amalthea (the bright point at left), Adrastea (the faint dot at the left tip of rings), and even background galaxies are visible in this image from JWST's NIRCam instrument. Whiter areas on the planet represent regions with more cloud cover, which reflects sunlight, especially Jupiter's famous Great Red Spot; darker spots have fewer clouds. Perhaps the most stunning feature is the blue glow of the planet's auroras at the north and south poles. This light shows results when high-energy particles streaming off the sun hit atoms in Jupiter's atmosphere. Auroras are found on any planet with an atmosphere and a magnetic field, which steers the sun's particles to the poles; besides Earth and Jupiter, telescopes have seen auroras on Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

The Best of JWST’s Cosmic Portraits, Clara Moskowitz, Scientific American

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This Weeks List of Items are

- CAPTAIN KHUTI THROW BLANKET -

THE CONQUERING LION ORIGINAL PENCIL ART -

AYELE ORIGINAL COMIC ART -

Bid ends MIDNIGHT DECEMBER 29, 2022

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1.) CAPTAIN KHUTI THROW BLANKET – 60" x 80" - (AYELE #000033) – Bidding starts at $55.00

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2.) THE CONQUERING LION #0 ORIGINAL PENCIL ART - PG 7 – 11″ W x 17″ H –

NO MATTING – (CLION #000007) – Bidding starts at $100.00

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3.) AYELE NUBIAN WARRIOR #1 ORIGINAL ART PGS 16 & 17 – 23″ W x 18.5″ H –

2" MATTING – (AYELE #000021) – Bidding starts at $250.00

 

Place your bid TODAY!

HERE

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Permafrost Zombies...

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(Credit: Tatiana Gasich/Shutterstock)

Topics: Biology, Biosecurity, Climate Change

Thirteen viruses from tens of thousands of years ago have been recovered and reactivated, according to a preprint paper published in BioRxiv. These threats had been idling in the Siberian tundra for approximately 30,000 to 50,000 years before being brought back.

Thanks to climate change, the thawing of the frozen terrain could revive an assortment of ancient pathogens, creating a potential threat that these viral “zombies” could pose.

“Zombie” Viruses

Permafrost — the frigid terrain that stays frozen throughout the year — comprises over 10 percent of our planet’s surface and substantial swaths of the Arctic, a circumpolar area containing Alaska, Scandinavia, and Siberia. But the Arctic’s temperatures are warming almost four times faster than the average worldwide, and the permafrost there is fading fast, freeing all sorts of frozen organisms, including microbes and viruses from thousands of years ago.

An abundance of research has delved into the diversity of microbes that the thawing of the permafrost has freed, but far fewer researchers have described the viruses. In fact, though these threats can sometimes resume their activity following their thaw, scientists have studied this process of viral recovery and reactivation only two other times, in 2014 and in 2015.

'Zombie' Viruses, Up to 50,000 Years Old, Are Awakening, Sam Walters, Discovery Magazine

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On Saturday December 10, 2022, the

CALIFORNIA AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM gave their first CAAMCon 2022.

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Featured were

Ryan Coogler who was interviewed by Aaron Covington,

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as well as Cody Ziglar, John Jennings, and Rodney Barnes whom

were interviewed by STRANGER COMICS creator Sebastian A. Jones.

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Unfortunately ABYSSINIA MEDIA GROUP was alerted too late

to participate in the vending arm of this event but NEXT YEAR looks BRIGHT!

Shown here are the a few of the independent creators that I met,

built a connection and purchased holiday presents from.

They were Kristal Adams, David G. Brown, Shawnee Gibbs and Shawnelle Gibbs,

Ray-Anthony Height, Keithan Jones, Jason Reeves, Robert Roach,

TJ Sterling, Rubyn Warren II, Larry Welch and Kevin Grevioux

ENJOY!

 

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Grievance, Gridlock, Grift...

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Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Democratic Republic, DNA, Existentialism, Fascism

The genesis of grievance

The man who was least deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in history is the beginning of the roots of white fragility. It wasn't that he might have had learning disabilities or wasn't suited for college. He turned his focus outward to "others": immigrants, feminists, the LGBT, and minorities. Once he settled into a syndicated broadcast on AM Talk Radio that proved more lucrative than what his WWII veteran father earned as a fighter pilot, lawyer, and legislator, he founded a cottage industry of handling that fragility by blaming others for personal shortcomings with no sense of hypocrisy in the party he championed labeling itself the "party of personal responsibility and family values."

In 1969 Limbaugh graduated from Cape Girardeau Central High School, where he played football and was a Boys State delegate.[15][16][17][18] At age 16, he worked his first radio job at KGMO, a local radio station. He used the air name Rusty Sharpe having found "Sharpe" in a telephone book.[12][19] Limbaugh later cited Chicago DJ Larry Lujack as a major influence on him, saying Lujack was "the only person I ever copied."[20] In deference to his parents' desire to attend college, he enrolled at Southeast Missouri State University but dropped out after two semesters. According to his mother, "he flunked everything [...] he just didn't seem interested in anything except radio."[12][21] Biographer Zev Chafets asserts that Limbaugh's life was largely dedicated to gaining his father's respect.[22] Source: Wikipedia/Rush_Limbaugh

The high priest of gridlock

In the 1994 campaign season, to offer an alternative to Democratic policies and to unite distant wings of the Republican Party, Gingrich and several other Republicans came up with a Contract with America, which laid out ten policies that Republicans promised to bring to a vote on the House floor during the first 100 days of the new Congress if they won the election.[61] Gingrich and other Republican candidates for the House of Representatives signed the contract. The contract ranged from issues such as welfare reformterm limits, crime, and a balanced budget/tax limitation amendment, to more specialized legislation such as restrictions on American military participation in United Nations missions.[62]

In the November 1994 midterm elections, Republicans gained 54 seats and took control of the House for the first time since 1954. Long-time House Minority LeaderBob Michel of Illinois had not run for re-election, giving Gingrich, the highest-ranking Republican returning to Congress, the inside track at becoming Speaker. The midterm election that turned congressional power over to Republicans "changed the center of gravity" in the nation's capital.[63]Time magazine named Gingrich its 1995 "Man of the Year" for his role in the election.[3] Source: Wikipedia/Newt_Gingrich

The apotheosis of grift

"Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." President Ronald Reagan's inaugural address.

Despite the propaganda from the "Never-Trumper" folks, Saint Ronnie Reagan wasn't: a saint. Reagan had a racist conversation with Richard Nixon, mocking an African delegation as "monkeys." He was famous for referencing African Americans with the terms "young bucks" and "welfare queens." Ironically, the Nixon administration came after Donald and his father for discriminatory housing practices. TO THIS DAY and with DNA evidence, he still wants the Central Park Exonerated Five rearrested and executed. Trump came down that escalator in his Ivory Tower and talked like a racist white man from Queens, famous for attacking black children in the 1970s. Reagan did his racism with winks and nods, plausible denial for any blacks who supported him: Trump was, and is, who he has always been.

After railing before the election about inflation and gas prices, they immediately, on a DIME, switched to Hunter Biden's laptop, A.K.A. Benghazi 2.0, without a SHRED of shame or cognizance of hypocrisy. They had no political platform in 2020 and none in the midterms. They eeked a majority out of gerrymandered districts and refused to campaign about the fifty-year project of overturning Roe vs. Wade. Because when you have no policies or a framework to govern, trolling is what you do. If Elon kills Twitter, that might be the best thing he’s ever done. It’s dumbed down our public discourse and allowed conspiracy theories to run rampant as “free speech.”

The fact that Trumpism is largely a reincarnation of the German American Bund is beyond dispute. To paraphrase Thom Hartmann's latest article, we are in late-stage Reaganism. Lauren Boebert and Matt "pedo" Gaetz refused to stand or applaud during Voldemyr Zelinski's address to Congress (you know, like normal humans), and "Boe" is on the outs with the former Mrs. Marjorie Taylor "Nazi Barbie, Secret Jewish Space Lasers" Greene. There was no "red wave," but elections were razer close: we almost got Herschel Walker as a Senator from Georgia, and the aforementioned mean girls got reelected. We are FAR from out of the authoritarian woods yet. If January 6, 2021, isn't punished, including Trump and other plotters, it was a dry run practice before the next bloody coup.

We went from a B-Movie actor whose film credits included "Bedtime with Bonzo" to a reality television star that was a carefully-crafted public fiction by Jeff Zucker and NBC. Mark Burnett had to replace his office furniture that had long succumbed to Entropy. We as a nation are at the endpoint of the Lewis Powell memo. Before it, lobbyists were rare to nonexistent. The confluence of government and corporations hasn't always been our "normal." We have to decide IF we're a "nation of laws and not of men" or if the only men that will count in the opposite of a democratic republic are wealthy, white, male, cisgender American oligarchs. “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” — Benito Mussolini; however, it's unlikely he ever said this, but what it outlines is disturbing nonetheless. We give far too much attention and power to narcissists with itchy Twitter fingers and deep pockets to corrupt politicians.

We can have either a functioning Constitutional Republic or we can have the Hunger Games. We cannot have both.

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This Weeks List of Items are -

THE CONQUERING LION THROW PILLOW -

AYELE ORIGINAL COMIC ART -

Bid ends MIDNIGHT DECEMBER 22, 2022

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1.) THE CONQUERING LION THROW PILLOW – (CLION #000033) 20" x 20" – Bidding starts at $35.00

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2.) AYELE NUBIAN WARRIOR #2 ORIGINAL ART PG 7 – 14″ W x 19″ H – 2" MATTING – (AYELE #000020) – Bidding starts at $150.00

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3.) AYELE NUBIAN WARRIOR #2 ORIGINAL ART PGS 2 & 3 – 25″ W x 19″ H – 2" MATTING – (AYELE #000019 – Bidding starts at $250.00



Follow the link below and place your bid TODAY -
https://forms.gle/csouW2jPn3e4AJ8P9

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OPVs...

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V. ALTOUNIAN/SCIENCE

Topics: Alternate Energy, Applied Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science, Solar Power

As ultrathin organic solar cells hit new efficiency records, researchers see green energy potential in surprising places.

In November 2021, while the municipal utility in Marburg, Germany, was performing scheduled maintenance on a hot water storage facility, engineers glued 18 solar panels to the outside of the main 10-meter-high cylindrical tank. It’s not the typical home for solar panels, most of which are flat, rigid silicon and glass rectangles arrayed on rooftops or in solar parks. The Marburg facility’s panels, by contrast, are ultrathin organic films made by Heliatek, a German solar company. In the past few years, Heliatek has mounted its flexible panels on the sides of office towers, the curved roofs of bus stops, and even the cylindrical shaft of an 80-meter-tall windmill. The goal: expanding solar power’s reach beyond flat land. “There is a huge market where classical photovoltaics do not work,” says Jan Birnstock, Heliatek’s chief technical officer.

Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) such as Heliatek’s are more than 10 times lighter than silicon panels and in some cases cost just half as much to produce. Some are even transparent, which has architects envisioning solar panels, not just on rooftops, but incorporated into building facades, windows, and even indoor spaces. “We want to change every building into an electricity-generating building,” Birnstock says.

Heliatek’s panels are among the few OPVs in practical use, and they convert about 9% of the energy in sunlight to electricity. But in recent years, researchers around the globe have come up with new materials and designs that, in small, lab-made prototypes, have reached efficiencies of nearly 20%, approaching silicon and alternative inorganic thin-film solar cells, such as those made from a mix of copper, indium, gallium, and selenium (CIGS). Unlike silicon crystals and CIGS, where researchers are mostly limited to the few chemical options nature gives them, OPVs allow them to tweak bonds, rearrange atoms, and mix in elements from across the periodic table. Those changes represent knobs chemists can adjust to improve their materials’ ability to absorb sunlight, conduct charges, and resist degradation. OPVs still fall short of those measures. But, “There is an enormous white space for exploration,” says Stephen Forrest, an OPV chemist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Solar Energy Gets Flexible, Robert F. Service, Science Magazine

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The Apogee of Evil...

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Credit: Erik English.

Topics: Biology, Biosecurity, Civilization, COVID-19, Democracy, Existentialism

Weaponizing a pathogen sounds like something out of an archetype Bond villain, minus the wrapped-up plot twists by the time the credits roll, and the obligatory fawning of a stereotypical bikinied woman over the intrepid MI-6 spy. Real life doesn't conclude so cleanly. Before every student became accustomed to active shooter drills, my generation ducked under wooden desks to shield themselves from nuclear fallout. Life has always been precarious, as we have always had a segment of society that would "go there."

On that high note, I will see you on the 29th of November. Happy Thanksgiving!

Pandemics can begin in many ways. A wild animal could infect a hunter, or a farm animal might spread a pathogen to a market worker. Researchers in a lab or in the field could be exposed to viruses and unwittingly pass them to others. Natural spillovers and accidents have been responsible for every historical plague, each of which spread from a single individual to afflict much of humanity. But the devastation from past outbreaks pales in comparison to the catastrophic harm that could be inflicted by malicious individuals intent on causing new pandemics.

Thousands of people can now assemble infectious viruses from a genome sequence and commercially available synthetic DNA, and numerous projects aim to find and publicly identify new viruses that could cause pandemics by characterizing their growth, transmission, and immune evasion capabilities in the laboratory. Once these projects succeed, the world will face a significant new threat: If a single terrorist with the necessary skills were to release a new virus equivalent to SARS-CoV-2, which has claimed 20 million lives worldwide, that person would have killed more people than if they were to detonate a nuclear warhead in a dense city. If they were to release numerous such viruses across multiple travel hubs, the resulting pandemics could not plausibly be contained and would spread much faster than even the most rapidly produced biomedical countermeasures. And if one of those viruses spread as easily as the omicron variant—which rapidly infected millions of people within weeks of being identified—but had the lethality of smallpox, which killed about 30 percent of those infected, the subsequent loss of essential workers could trigger the collapse of food, water, and power distribution networks—and with them, societies.

To avoid this future, societies need to rethink how they can delay pandemic proliferation, detect all exponentially growing biological threats, and defend humanity by preventing infections. A comprehensive set of directions detailing how we can build a world free from catastrophic biological threats is required. That roadmap now exists.

How a deliberate pandemic could crush societies and what to do about it, Kevin Esvelt, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

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ABYSSINIA MEDIA GROUP®'s

Seven Day Auction for

THURSDAY, November 25, 2022 at 12 PM, PST.

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This Weeks List of Items

 
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12.5″ W x 17″ H x 5″ – Internal Laptop Pocket (10.5" x 13.5")
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Bidding starts at $250.00
 
 
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Bid ends MIDNIGHT DECEMBER 1, 2022
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Solar Lilly Pads...

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A floating artificial leaf – which generates clean fuel from sunlight and water – on the River Cam near King's College Chapel in Cambridge, UK. (Courtesy: Virgil Andrei)

Topics: Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Materials Science, Solar Power

Leaf-like devices that are light enough to float on water could be used to generate fuel from solar farms located on open water sources. This avenue hasn’t been explored before, according to researchers from the University of Cambridge in the UK who developed them. The new devices are made from thin, flexible substrates and perovskite-based light-absorbing layers. Tests showed that they can produce either hydrogen or syngas (a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide) while floating on the River Cam.

Artificial leaves like these are a type of photoelectrochemical cell (PEC) that transforms sunlight into electrical energy or fuel by mimicking some aspects of photosynthesis, such as splitting water into its constituent oxygen and hydrogen. This differs from conventional photovoltaic cells, which convert light directly into electricity.

Because PEC artificial leaves contain both light harvesting and catalysis components in one compact device, they could, in principle, be used to produce fuel from sunlight cheaply and simply. The problem is that current techniques for making them can’t be scaled up. What is more, they are often composed of fragile and heavy bulk materials, which limits their use.

In 2019 a team of researchers led by Erwin Reisner developed an artificial leaf that produced syngas from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water. This device contained two light absorbers and catalysts, but it also incorporated a thick glass substrate and coatings to protect against moisture, which made it cumbersome.

Floating artificial leaves could produce solar-generated fuel, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World

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Himalayas...

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The Shisper Glacier in April 2018, left, and April 2019, right. The surging ice blocked a river fed by a nearby glacier, forming a new lake. YALE ENVIRONMENT 360 / NASA

Topics: Civilization, Climate Change, Environment, Existentialism, Global Warming

Everything about Earth and the organization of human civilization is about the control of resources.

We’ve come up with arbitrary “rules” about who is worthy of those resources, and how much they can horde, or obtain. Pharaohs, priests, secret societies, and guilds all have “knowledge” they jealously guard, or it may be as simple as caste or color. Every society with billionaires, emperors, kings, oligarchs, potentates, and sheiks all have a designated group to blame for the ills of poor planning and sadistic resource management: indigenous, or imported servants by force, they are the easy go-to designated pariahs. It is a cynical way to get rich, but a poor method of species survival. A resource we all need, from billionaires to pariahs, is potable water to drink. Jackson, Mississippi is a foreshadowing of what we might expect.

This continual differentiation of mankind by caste, color, station, and monetary wealth has brought us to this rolling train wreck catastrophe. Climate refugees occurred in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Climate refugees occurred after the flooding in Pakistan. Climate refugees will occur in the aftermath of future superstorms. Lest we think ourselves immune, we may all be seeking higher ground, leaving homes and businesses for something we could have solved decades ago except for avarice.

The permafrost is melting, and that will release viruses that haven't seen the light of day for several millennia, and we have no vaccines for what will likely be carried on the wind and zoonotically transferred between animals and humans.

Starships are as real as magic carpets, genies, Yetis, and mermaids.

There is no “planet B,” life, or wealth on a nonfunctional planet.

Warmer air is thinning most of the vast mountain range’s glaciers, known as the Third Pole because they contain so much ice. The melting could have far-reaching consequences for flood risk and for water security for a billion people who rely on meltwater for their survival.

Spring came early this year in the high mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan, a remote border region of Pakistan. Record temperatures in March and April hastened melting of the Shisper Glacier, creating a lake that swelled and, on May 7, burst through an ice dam. A torrent of water and debris flooded the valley below, damaging fields and houses, wrecking two power plants and washing away parts of the highway and a bridge connecting Pakistan and China.

Pakistan’s climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, tweeted videos of the destruction and highlighted the vulnerability of a region with the largest number of glaciers outside the Earth’s poles. Why were these glaciers losing mass so quickly? Rehman put it succinctly. “High global temperatures,” she said.

Just over a decade, ago, relatively little was known about glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayas, the vast ice mountains that run across Central and South Asia, from Afghanistan in the west to Myanmar in the east. But a step-up in research in the past 10 years — spurred in part by an embarrassing error in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, which predicted that Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035 — has led to enormous strides in understanding.

Scientists now have data on almost every glacier in high-mountain Asia. They know “how these glaciers have changed not only in area but in mass during the last 20 years,” says Tobias Bolch, a glaciologist with the University of St Andrews in Scotland. He adds, “We also know much more about the processes which govern glacial melt. This information will give policymakers some instruments to really plan for the future.”

As Himalayan Glaciers Melt, a Water Crisis Looms in South Asia, VAISHNAVI CHANDRASHEKHAR, Yale Environment 360

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Death by Whataboutism...

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MODUS TROLLERANDI PART 2: WHATABOUTISM

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, Environment, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Nikolas Cruz was sentenced in the Parkland Shooting to life without the possibility of parole, torpedoing his request to die by the state executioner.

Alex Jones owes a bucketload of money to the Sandy Hook families who have had to endure his lies by grift of his gullible Internet followers, mocking the verdict in a dual screen that "good luck! Ain't no more money," while petitioning the rubes to go to his site.

The January 6th Committee held what was possibly its last hearing yesterday if past precedent favors republicans in the midterms (except for the unforced error of overturning Roe vs Wade, and the promise if given power, they will make it a nationwide ban). If Nancy Pelosi is Speaker after the elections, the committee issued a subpoena to Generalisimo Insurrectionist. He'll wage a pitched legal battle, raise a lot of money, and hope the other crimes he's guilty of in New York and Georgia don't wind him up in a jumpsuit to match his complexion.  Women are registering for the midterms in record numbers; the unrest in Iran over the "morality police" is a microcosm of a constituency fed up with octogenarians making rules for them.

The person at the center of the January 6th Committee's focus has established a cult of personality for his followers and personal convenience for his enablers. Despite the recordings of Kevin McCarthy expressing abject terror, despite his, Mitch McConnell's, and Lindsey Graham's castigation of him on the House and Senate floors, they read the political tea leaves, realizing the conspiratorial dragon they benefitted from through Reich Wing talk radio, television, websites is a Frankenstein beyond their control. They hope to ride the crazy wave to "power," which at this time means a position with little relation to actual governing power, and hope their violent followers don't retaliate on them if they pick up the wrong salad fork, or select the wrong channel with the remote control.

The person at the center of the January 6th Committee's focus still deludes himself into that he actually won the 2020 election, still denies the loss, confesses to crimes he committed in real-time, and foments open rebellion and uncivil war if he's ever held accountable for his brazenly committed, and admitted crimes. He now demands the return of classified documents he magically declassified by telepathy (not a thing), and that the government "planted them." If you can follow that, there will be a padded cell next to his.

I was not a fan of Seinfeld. The comedy took as its theme the play by William Shakespeare: "Much Ado About Nothing." Norman Lear comedies like "All in the Family," "Good Times," "The Jeffersons," and "One Day at a Time" would often veer into sensitive topics about things like gang violence, rape, racism, and misogyny. Jerry Seinfeld and the cast made a comedy about nothing for ten years. When the final curtain went down on the show, there was "weeping and gnashing of teeth" at my Motorola office in Austin, Texas. Even in syndication where I might see an episode or two, I still don't get the attraction.

The dark side of much ado about nothing is Whataboutism: nothing matters. It makes one's sense of history and strategy for the future be temporally bound by business quarters. It explains why we can't do anything about climate change, George W. Bush summed up the attitude in his thoughts about the future asked by Bob Woodward: "we'll all be dead." I used to think he was the worst president in my lifetime until kismet said "hold my beer." The Republican platform in 2020 was reduced to Seinfeld minimalism, and they don't have one in 2022, save recycled Gingrich jibberish. Sexually assaulting women; grabbing them by the genitals doesn't matter. Railing about the sanctity of the unborn never mattered according to Dana Deloach: she just wants power in the Senate, so Herschel Walker can speak word salad about promiscuous bulls all he wants (to the chagrin of Rick Scott and Tom Cotton) as long as they gain the majority. Winning is all that matters, principle never did. There were several hundred mass shootings before Nikolas Cruz. Alex Jones started his grift before the twenty-six victims were in Rigor Mortis. Donald Trump in "Art of the Deal" explained "truthful hyperbole":

“The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.”

“I Call It Truthful Hyperbole”: The Most Popular Quotes From Trump’s “The Art of the Deal”, Emily Price, Fast Company, April 4, 2017

In other words, brazen lying.

He played to people's fantasies that he was a successful businessman, despite six bankruptcies and being in hock up to his eyeballs to Deutsche Bank and the Russian Federation. He saw the reaction to the one and only black president and like a wolf, he pounced. He and his father were charged with violating the Fair Housing Act by the NIXON administration. Orly Taitz is a forgotten name and evidence education does not equate to intelligence. He took over the birther issue, poured kerosene, and lit a match. As Michael Cohen said, he never meant to win the election, it was a publicity stunt, which is why he had nothing he was passionate about to improve people's lives other than the rich like himself (richer than he since he's probably not on paper a billionaire). He could have repitched The Apprentice to NBC, still pulled down a check from the network, and still laundered money for Russian oligarchs, but no. Donny got out over his skis, got a taste of real power, and now like an 80s crack addict, can't get enough of it.

He's Pookie in [orange] face.

That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts.

It does hurt. It can kill a republic.

On the page where McHenry records the events of the last day of the convention, September 18, 1787, he wrote: “A lady asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy – A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.” Then McHenry added: “The Lady here alluded to was Mrs. Powel of Philada.”

“A republic if you can keep it”: Elizabeth Willing Powel, Benjamin Franklin, and the James McHenry Journal
January 6, 2022, by Josh Levy, Library of Congress

44 "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John 8:44-47

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