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Angry White Guys...

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Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., at podium, speaks during a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center outside the Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense, deposition related to the House's impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, October 23, 2019. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images MSNBC

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Human Rights, Fascism


TAMPA — From the convention stage here, the Republican Party has tried to highlight its diversity, giving prime speaking slots to Latinos and blacks who have emphasized their party’s economic appeal to all Americans.

But they have delivered those speeches to a convention hall filled overwhelmingly with white faces, an awkward contrast that has been made more uncomfortable this week by a series of racial headaches that have intruded on the party’s efforts to project a new level of inclusiveness.

The tensions come amid a debate within the GOP on how best to lure new voters. The nation’s shifting demographics have caused some Republican leaders to worry not only about the party’s future but about winning in November, particularly in key swing states such as Virginia and Nevada.

The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

Rosalind S. Helderman and Jon Cohen, Washington Post, August 29, 2012

Republican National Conventions are paste-white affairs with a smattering of African American members and some tokens as room jewelry. That has declined steadily since 2000. The GOP Autopsy Report is a fascinating document, and could have stopped the bleeding had it not been turned to toilet paper by our current Russian ass(et). 

Two weeks ago, I posted excerpts from the New Republic article by Jeet Heer: The Right Is Giving Up on Democracy. Disrupting the congressional process of inquiry is a departure from the governing norms of democracy itself.

In the summer of 2015, the House Select Committee on Benghazi was still chasing conspiracy theories, holding a series of closed-door hearings with officials and witnesses. As part of the investigatory process, other members of Congress who were interested in learning more were excluded – and when former House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) tried to crash a deposition, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) blocked him.

On this, Gowdy, who chaired the Benghazi panel, was correct. Not only did he take steps to prevent a political circus – nearly every witness was interviewed behind closed doors – but House rules only permit members to participate in depositions if they serve on the relevant committees. These are not spectator events.

SCIF: Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. A Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF; pronounced "skiff"), in British and United States military, national security/national defense and intelligence parlance, is an enclosed area within a building that is used to process Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) types of classified information. Wikipedia

This WASP-C (White Anglo Saxon Protestant, Cisgender) frat boy stunt has compromised our SCIF.

This is the SAME SCIF the Benghazi Hearings were held in.

Forty-five republicans are literally IN the room with full access to the same classified information and testimony being investigated. Like a Grand Jury, this part of the process is not public. It will eventually be aired publicly.

This is the SAME SCIF entered with cell phones that can be hacked by distant actors in far off countries (like Russia) that can get an electronic "peek" into the building. It probably happened while ordering pizza. It only takes one. The hearing was delayed likely to allow NSA to sweep and re-secure the SCIF. It violates federal law.

I hope it's not permanently compromised, as Putin would want it. I called my representative and blasted him through his admin for a sophomoric stunt.

President Teddy Roosevelt (R) offered educator Booker T. Washington a visit to the Presidential Mansion that proved contentious to a nation based on the "norms' of white supremacy. African Americans weren't official "guests," they were at most servants and nothing more. It is said after that visit, the mansion would get the definitive name "White House," removing all doubt about the nation's foundations.

"The Southern Strategy" is suffering from Entropy. It worked well in 1968, exacerbating the fears of "the other" by white southern Dixiecrats that stormed out of the Democratic Party post Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), The Civil Rights Act (1964), the Voting Rights Act (1965); the Fair Housing Act (1968). Forty years later, they would collectively lose their minds with the election of the one and only African American to the highest office on the planet. He would move his family into a house built by slaves, the descendants servants for generations and still there. He would be hung in effigy and disparaged in vitriol. The report of the demographics shift in the nation - "demographics is destiny" (Auguste Comte) - cemented the collective conniption fit of the white and privileged.

“We’ve got a queer running for president, if that ain’t about as ugly as you can get,” Sevier County Commissioner Warren Hurst said to the crowd after telling them to “wake up.”

“I’m not prejudiced, but by golly,” continued Hurst, waving his finger in the air, “a white male in this country has very few rights, and they’re getting took more every day.” While one member of the crowd walked out in protest, Hurst was met with whistles and applause from the audience after he finished speaking.

Tim Fitzsimons and Gwen Aviles, NBCNEWS

We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

Nixon on his reelection swept the south - the first time by a republican - but, this isn't 1968. Or 1980 - 1988. The wink-and-nod genteel "soft bigotry of low expectations" under the current darkness of this Orange Satan went from dog whistle to foghorn.

This was and is about those in power that don't want that power interrupted, by people of color, women, LGBT, immigrants et al.

And they're likely willing to burn the whole joint down to "make America [a] great (white supremacists' hope) again."
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Twisted Fridge...

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Fridge-freezer: twistocaloric cooling could be coming to a kitchen near you. (Courtesy: iStock/Allevinatis)

 

Topics: Applied Physics, Green Tech, Research, Thermodynamics


A new refrigeration technology based on the twisting and untwisting of fibers has been demonstrated by a team led by Zunfeng Liu at Nankai University in China and Ray Baughman at the University of Texas at Dallas in the US. As the demand for refrigeration expands worldwide, their work could lead to the development of new cooling systems that do not employ gases that are harmful to the environment.

The cooling system relies on the fact that some materials undergo significant changes in entropy when deformed. As far back as 1805 – when the concepts of thermodynamics were first being developed – it was known that ordinary rubber heats up when stretched and cools down when relaxed. In principle, such mechanocaloric materials could be used in place of the gases that change entropy when compressed and expanded in commercial refrigeration systems. Replacing gas-based systems is an important environmental goal because gaseous refrigerants tend to degrade the ozone layer and are powerful greenhouse gases.

In their experiments, Liu and Baughman’s team studied the cooling effects of twist and stretch changes in twisted, coiled and supercoiled fibers of natural rubber, nickel-titanium and polyethylene fishing line. In each material, they observed a surface cooling as high as 16.4 °C, 20.8 °C, and 5.1 °C respectively, which they achieved through techniques including simultaneous releases of twisting and stretching, and unraveling bundles of multiple wires.

 

Refrigerator works by twisting and untwisting fibers, Materials, Physics World

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Half Century...


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Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Fascism, Human Rights, Internet


As stated, my incarceration ends this Friday. However, my "due process" is as much a mystery as my apparent offense. Any appeals goes into the nether ether; a 1 and 0 equivalent of a digital black hole. The temporary suspension of my First Amendment rights is annoying, but I have the ability to post to forums that I'm the administrator, and if determined to, I can message any post to another Facebook subscriber "on the outside" to post for me. The inconvenience comes when you wish to join into a flow of ideas over something you have an emotional tie to (like, homecoming). As a parent and now a grandparent, I can attest it is far more instructive "teaching a lesson" when the offender has a clear explanation of what the original offense was. I likely ran afoul of an algorithm.

It's interesting that Facebook is the byproduct of a theft if "The Social Network" is to be believed. To address its (assumed) accidental complicity in the spreading of fake news by Internet trolls, there is a "news" service that respects all voices, inclusive of those on the Alt Right (Wrong) like Brietbart and the Daily Caller along with legitimate news outlets as a faux diversity of voices. Yet, Mr. Zuckerberg doesn't want government regulation or for Facebook to be broken up into smaller companies (though, I doubt he would starve).

Facebook and Twitter are "free" with the exception of gathering metadata on our browsing and spending habits and using it towards profiting of those same and other corporations. It can also be used nefariously by governments as discovered in 2016.

On this fiftieth anniversary of the Internet, we should recall the lesson from the fictional character, Spider-man: "with great power comes great responsibility."
 

Marking the anniversary, our founder and inventor of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, said:

“It’s astonishing to think the internet is already half a century old. But its birthday is not altogether a happy one. The internet — and the World Wide Web it enabled — have changed our lives for the better and have the power to transform millions more in the future. But increasingly we’re seeing that power for good being subverted, whether by scammers, people spreading hatred or vested interests threatening democracy.

“A year ago, I called for a new Contract for the Web, bringing together governments, companies and citizen groups to come up with a clear plan of action to protect the web as a force for good. In a month’s time that plan will be ready. This birthday must mark the moment we take on the fight for the web we want.” *

 

As the internet turns 50, we must protect it as a force for good, Web Foundation

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Structured Light...

 
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This image shows the creation of hybrid entangled photons by combining polarization with a "twisted" pattern that carries orbital angular momentum. Credit: Forbes and Nape

 

Topics: Electrical Engineering, Electromagnetic Radiation, Quantum Computing, Quantum Electrodynamics, Quantum Mechanics


Structured light is a fancy way to describe patterns or pictures of light, but deservedly so as it promises future communications that will be both faster and more secure.

Quantum mechanics has come a long way during the past 100 years but still has a long way to go. In AVS Quantum Science researchers from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa review the progress being made in using structured light in quantum protocols to create a larger encoding alphabet, stronger security and better resistance to noise.

"What we really want is to do quantum mechanics with patterns of light," said author Andrew Forbes. "By this, we mean that light comes in a variety of patterns that can be made unique—like our faces."

Since patterns of light can be distinguished from each other, they can be used as a form of alphabet. "The cool thing is that there are, in principle at least, an infinite set of patterns, so an infinite alphabet is available," he said.

Traditionally, quantum protocols have been implemented with the polarization of light, which has only two values—a two-level system with a maximum information capacity per photon of just 1 bit. But by using patterns of light as the alphabet, the information capacity is much higher. Also, its security is stronger, and the robustness to noise (such as background light fluctuations) is improved.

"Patterns of light are a route to what we term high-dimensional states," Forbes said. "They're high dimensional, because many patterns are involved in the quantum process. Unfortunately, the toolkit to manage these patterns is still underdeveloped and requires a lot of work."
 

Structured light promises path to faster, more secure communications
American Institute of Physics, Phys.org

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Adaption and Extinction...

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Source: Internet Movie Database

 

Topics: Biology, Climate Change, Existentialism, Philosophy, Politics


Though the movie poster is an attempt at dark humor, I do agree with the science. We're in a time of our history where science is being suborned to political and economic considerations, when we need it literally for survival.


From a biological perspective, there is no such thing as devolution. All changes in the gene frequencies of populations--and quite often in the traits those genes influence--are by definition evolutionary changes. The notion that humans might regress or "devolve" presumes that there is a preferred hierarchy of structure and function--say, that legs with feet are better than legs with hooves or that breathing with lungs is better than breathing with gills. But for the organisms possessing those structures, each is a useful adaptation.

Chief among these misconceptions is that species evolve or change because they need to change to adapt to shifting environmental demands; biologists refer to this fallacy as teleology. In fact, more than 99 percent of all species that ever lived are extinct, so clearly there is no requirement that species always adapt successfully. As the fossil record demonstrates, extinction is a perfectly natural--and indeed quite common--response to changing environmental conditions. When species do evolve, it is not out of need but rather because their populations contain organisms with variants of traits that offer a reproductive advantage in a changing environment.

 

Is the human race evolving or devolving? July 20, 1998, Scientific American

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African American Author Fair

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I have wonderful news! After discussions with the creator of the African American Author Fair Shatona Kilgore Groves, it is my honor the announce that I have been passed the torch and have been given ownership of the fair. I am extremely humbled and honored that she would hand over the reins of this much-needed event to my care. Over the past 2 years, The African American Author Fair has made great inroads with promoting a culture of reading, celebrating creativity, connecting the reader to the writer… and a whole lot of books. I have personally been a recipient of her hard work, professionalism, and zeal for this community. Shatona will continue to participate and serve on the advisement team as the event continues to grow and thrive.

We look forward to the great things to come as we embark on this next chapter. Please join our group for updates and information regarding the African American Author Fair. We also want to invite you to post information about your books, comics, and related topics.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/AfricanAmericanAuthorFair/

Thanks, 
Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. 
www.JarvisSheffield.com

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Asteroid Stuff...

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An artist's depiction of an asteroid collision in outer space.(Image: © Don Davis, Southwest Research Institute)

 

Topics: Asteroids, Astrobiology, Planetary Exploration, Planetary Science


"We are made of star stuff." Carl Sagan

Consider the possibility that an asteroid may have transformed the picture of life on Earth — but forget the dinosaurs and the massive crater, and rewind an extra 400 million years from that dramatic moment.

Back then, life was primarily an oceanic affair and backbones were the latest in arrival on the anatomy scene. But unlike the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, this earlier space rock never made it to Earth. Instead, a collision in the asteroid belt flooded the solar system with so much dust that, given some other changes at the time, allowed life on Earth to flourish, new research suggests.

"Most important events in the history of life are like that," said Rebecca Freeman, a paleontologist at the University of Kentucky who specializes in this period but wasn't involved in the new research. "You get a really unique set of circumstances that all come together, and you get a really dramatic event that maybe seems like it should be due to one particular dramatic thing. But in reality, it's a more complicated system at play," she told Space.com.

The dramatic event scientists want to explain is a spree of new species. That outburst of life, which paleontologists call the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event, took place in the oceans, which were inhabited mostly by spineless creatures. "This is really a world that is dominated by invertebrate marine organisms," Freeman said. "Probably the top predator would have been a cephalopod," likely an ancestral relative of today's chambered nautilus, with its intricate spiral shell.

But when Birger Schmitz, a geologist at Lund University in Sweden, went hunting for rock dating back 466 million years, he wasn't hoping to find fossilized nautiluses; he was looking for fossilized meteorites. And over the past couple of decades, he and his colleagues have found dozens of these fossilized meteorites in a Swedish limestone quarry. Each carries a chemical time stamp indicating that it was heated about 470 million years ago, and scientists have thought for a while that there might have been a massive asteroid collision around that time.

 

Asteroid Dust Triggered an Explosion of Life on Earth 466 Million Years Ago
Meghan Bartels, Space.com

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Geodes...

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(Just_Super/iStock)

 

Topics: Black Holes, Cosmology, Dark Energy, Einstein, General Relativity, Gravity


A fifty-year-old hypothesis predicting the existence of bodies dubbed Generic Objects of Dark Energy (GEODEs) is getting a second look in light of a proposed correction to assumptions we use to model the way our Universe expands.

If this new version of a classic cosmological model is correct, some black holes could hide cores of pure dark energy, pushing our Universe apart at the seams.

University of Hawaii astrophysicist Kevin Croker and mathematician Joel Weiner teamed up to challenge the broadly accepted notion that when it comes to the Universe's growing waistline, its contents are largely irrelevant.

"For 80 years, we've generally operated under the assumption that the Universe, in broad strokes, was not affected by the particular details of any small region," said Croker.

"It is now clear that general relativity can observably connect collapsed stars – regions the size of Honolulu – to the behavior of the Universe as a whole, over a thousand billion billion times larger."

Not only could this alternative interpretation of fundamental physics change how we understand the Universe's expansion, but we might need to also consider how that growth might affect compact objects like the cores of collapsing stars.

 

Black Holes May Hide Cores of Pure Dark Energy That Keep The Universe Expanding
Mike McCrae, Science Alert

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Boiling Superconductivity...

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Under pressure: calculated structure of lithium magnesium hydride. Lithium atoms appear in green, magnesium in blue and hydrogen in red. (Courtesy: Ying Sun et al/Phys. Rev. Lett.)

 

Topics: Chemistry, Materials Science, Nanotechnology, Superconductors


A material that remains a superconductor when heated to the boiling point of water has been predicted by physicists in China. Hanyu Liu, Yanming Ma and colleagues at Jilin University have calculated that lithium magnesium hydride will superconduct at temperatures as high as 473 K (200 °C).

The catch is that the hydrogen-rich material must be crushed at 250 GPa, which is on par with pressures at the center of the Earth. While such a pressure could be achieved in the lab, it would be very difficult to perform an experiment to verify the prediction. The team’s research could, however, lead to the discovery of more practical high-temperature superconductors.

Superconductors are materials that, when cooled below a critical temperature, will conduct electricity with zero resistance. Most superconductors need to be chilled to very low temperatures, so the holy grail of superconductivity research is to find a substance that will superconduct at room temperature. This would result in lossless electricity transmission and boost technologies that rely on the generation or detection of magnetic fields.

 

Superconductivity at the boiling temperature of water is possible, say physicists
Hamish Johnston, Physics World

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Handmaids, Families and Utopias...

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Image Source: Trump's 'Sharpie Gate' Hurricane Dorian Stunt is Getting Trolled on Twitter
Alison Sullivan, God's Daily Dot

 

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


I will make a commentary on "Sharpie Gate" momentarily.

The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, originally published in 1985. It is set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian state resembling a theonomy that overthrows the United States government. The novel focuses on the journey of the handmaid Offred. Her name derives from the possessive form "of Fred"; handmaids are forbidden to use their birth names and must echo the male, or master, whom they serve.

Beginning with a staged attack that killed the president and most of Congress, a radical political group calling itself the "Sons of Jacob", exploiting religious ideology closely resembling some traits of Christian Reconstructionism, launches a revolution. The United States Constitution is suspended, newspapers are censored, and what was formerly the United States of America changes drastically into a theonomic military dictatorship known as the Republic of Gilead. The new regime moves quickly to consolidate its power, overtaking all pre-existing religious groups, including traditional Christian denominations; and reorganizes society along a new militarized, hierarchical model of Old Testament-inspired social and religious fanaticism among its newly created social classes. Above all, the biggest change is the severe limitation of people's rights, especially those of women, making them unable to hold property, handle money, as well as forbidding them to read or write.

The story is told in the first-person narration by a woman called Offred. In this era of declining birth rates due to increasing infertility brought about by environmental pollution and radiation, she is one of those few women with healthy reproductive systems. Hence she is forcibly assigned to produce children for the ruling class of men "Commanders", and is known as a "Handmaid" based on the biblical story of Rachel and her handmaid Bilhah. Apart from Handmaids, other women are also classed socially and follow a strict dress code, ranked highest to lowest: the Commanders' Wives in blue, the Handmaids in red with the exception of white veils around their faces, the Aunts (who train and indoctrinate the Handmaids) in brown, the Martha's (cooks and maids) in green, "Econo-wives" who handle everything in the domestic sphere in stripes, young and unmarried girls in white and widows in black.

Source: The Handmaid's Tale, Wikipedia

Aptly described by one viewer as "the prologue to The Handmaid's Tale", Netflix's The Family is the new docuseries taking the world by storm.

A deeply gripping tale, the critically acclaimed show tells the story of the clandestine Christian organization called 'The Family' and their hidden influence on U.S. politics.

Based on a true story, The Family is a docuseries that combines archival photos and interviews with dramatic reenactments to investigate a secret Christian organisation known as The Fellowship Foundation, colloquially referred to as 'The Family'.

Their Washington D.C.-based network, comprised solely of men, includes numerous high-powered politicians, diplomats and religious leaders from around the world, who conspire together to influence legislation on a global level.

Their leader is a man named Doug Coe, described in the trailer as "the most powerful man in Washington you've never heard of". Coe believed that God's work was best carried out away from the public eye.

Source: The Family, docuseries on Netflix, Harper's Bazaar

The Family author, Jeff Sharlet wrote it and its follow on, C Street as warnings on the abuse of power by an un-elected political organization that has out-sized influence on the US government. We've accepted the National Prayer Breakfast as "normal," when in strict constructionist reading of The Constitution, flagrantly violates The First Amendment.

Margaret Atwood opined in interview that what she wrote in 1985 isn't something she dreamed up out of whole cloth: there are real-life analogs. What was dramatized in the book and now in the series as the overthrow of the federal republic, suspension of the US Constitution has a prologue we often don't see...until the "Sons of Jacob" think they can openly get away with violence. They may first have an ultra secret organization that no one except for one truthful author has ever heard about.

 

*****


The joke is first evangelical literature in the 1970s and the 1980s focused on the "end times" as a terrible, awful future event to avoid. 2 Chronicles 7:14 was often quoted at the end of a popular litany of speculative literature as a cosmic "get out of jail" card with the almighty. It also calmed and soothed Christian writers' audiences enough to consider the next book in their careers of scaring the bejesus out of their readers.

For most of our nation’s history, White Christian America (WCA) set the tone for our national policy and shaped American ideals. But especially since the 1990s, WCA has steadily lost influence, following declines within both its mainline and evangelical branches. Today, America is no longer demographically or culturally a majority white, Christian nation.

Drawing on more than four decades of polling data, The End of White Christian America explains and analyzes the waning vitality of WCA. Robert P. Jones argues that the visceral nature of today’s most heated issues—the vociferous arguments around same-sex marriage and religious and sexual liberty, the rise of the Tea Party following the election of our first black president, and stark disagreements between black and white Americans over the fairness of the criminal justice system—can only be understood against the backdrop of white Christians’ anxieties as America’s racial and religious topography shifts around them.

The End of White Christian America, Robert P. Jones, Amazon.com

The mythology of Star Trek likely germinated in the nightmares Gene Roddenberry and people steeped in Cold War "duck and cover" drills (me included), thought a lot about: would World War III be the existential LAST war? Worlds orbit suns as we now observe throughout the universe. They do not require air, water or life - sentient or otherwise, just gravity, planetary physics and an orbital path.

It is mythology because benevolent aliens happening upon a fledgling warp species is pure "Deus ex machina." Warp drive is as imaginative as unicorns. Aliens that can traverse vast distances would probably be indifferent, if not militant to a technologically emerging species. Roddenberry could have easily made them Klingons.

The short-lived Enterprise, debuting days after September 11, 2001, tried to document our unsteady first steps to the stars, prior to Federation bureaucracies, Prime Directives and the original intro that became The Captain's Oath.

The CBS streamed, so far sophomore seasoned Discovery series not only fleshed out Captain Christopher Pike - the previous USS Enterprise's highest ranking Starfleet officer - it briefly alluded to the third world war in season 2 regarding ex-pat Earthlings and a time-traveling Red Angel (no spoilers - stream, binge and catch up).

What's missing is the cause.

Lying about Hurricane Dorian like a third grader forging his 68 on a report card to an "88" before his parents see it. It is callous of the lives lost in the Atlantic (20 and counting); the height of narcissistic personality disorder, and also illegal.

18 U.S.C. §2074 makes it a crime to issue a counterfeit weather forecast, claiming that it was issued by the Weather Bureau.

Despite a rare rebuke by the National Weather Service, who ostensibly WORK for the orange twit, he doubled, tripled and QUADRUPLED down, exhaustively dragging us ALL into his mad Twitter reality where he is king for life, he is right all the time and his "great brain" is the purest of genius, even stable.

We pulled out of the nuclear arms deal with Iran with the impulsive, not thought through, non-reviewed action that let us walk out of the Paris Climate Accords. We may have to send troops to ensure Iran doesn't reconstitute it's nuclear enrichment program (what the deal was supposed to do); we may end up paying trillions mitigating the after effects of super heated ocean water resulting in climate change damages after calling it a "Chinese hoax."

2053 is the fictional start of the Trek timeline almost species ending third world war. Ten years after that, Zefram Cochrane flies the Phoenix and attracts the attention of Vulcans who are (as written), benevolent, logical and vegetarian. We weren't interesting until we warped, because apparently thermonuclear annihilation and near species extinction is rather boring on a galactic scale.

The "end" may not take thirty-four years. It might just take an errant tweet during a septuagenarian bowel movement in the midst of "executive time" to produce a demonstrably pathetic lie about Alabama...or, a mushroom cloud.

Homo Sapiens to Homo Stultus...a gross, but sadly fitting epitaph.

“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” James Baldwin
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Shake, Rattle and Roar...

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SpaceX's Mars Starship prototype "Starhopper" hovers over its launchpad during a test flight in Boca Chica, Texas, U.S. August 27, 2019. REUTERS/Trevor Mahlmann

 

Topics: Mars, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight


(Reuters) - SpaceX test-launched an early prototype of the company’s Mars rocket on Tuesday, unnerving residents near the Texas site and clearing another key hurdle in billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s interplanetary ambitions.

After the launch, Musk congratulated engineers from SpaceX, short for Space Exploration Technologies Corp, and posted a photo of Starhopper touching down on its landing pad with billowing clouds of dust and sand rising from the ground.

“One day Starship will land on the rusty sands of Mars,” Musk tweeted.

The prototype, dubbed Starhopper, slowly rose about 500 feet (152 m) off its launch pad in Brownsville, Texas, and propelled itself some 650 feet (198 m) eastward onto an adjacent landing platform, completing a seemingly successful low-altitude test of SpaceX’s next-generation Raptor engine.

The Raptor is designed to power Musk’s forthcoming heavy-lift Starship rocket, a reusable two-stage booster taller than the Statue of Liberty that is expected to play a central role in Musk’s interplanetary space travel objectives, including missions to Mars.

 

SpaceX's Mars rocket prototype rattles nearby residents in Texas flight test
Joey Roulette, Reuters Science

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Helsinki to Biarritz...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights


We got here from a so-called "reality show" about a faux billionaire:

The Apprentice was first aired in 2004, and presented Trump as the ultra-successful real estate deal-maker who would choose from a cast of candidates competing for a job in the Trump Organization. Trump's catch phrase on the show was, "You're fired," which he would deliver pointing at that week's unsuccessful candidate.

Editor Jonathan Braun told the publication that Trump would fire contestants on the show on a whim, forcing editors to "reverse engineer" programs to make Trump's decisions seem coherent.

Show producer Mark Burnett remarked, "We know each week who has been fired, and therefore, you're editing in reverse." Amid a series of firings and resignations in the Trump administration, he remarked, "I find it strangely validating to hear that they're doing the same thing in the White House."

Production staff described how their job was to elevate Trump's image, whose star had fallen since his 1980s heyday of fame.

"Most of us knew he was a fake," Braun, who worked on six series of the show, told The New Yorker. "He had just gone through I don't know how many bankruptcies. But we made him out to be the most important person in the world. It was like making the court jester the king."

Louis Anslow points out a certain German chancellor was initially considered a joke as well. As he posits, "how did that work out?"

For someone that constantly carps "no collusion" and "the Russian hoax," he gives fodder to those who think otherwise:

Biarritz, France (CNN) - A sharp and sometimes bitter disagreement broke out between President Donald Trump and several G7 leaders over whether to allow Russia back into their club during a welcome dinner on Saturday, according to two diplomatic officials and a senior US official with knowledge of the exchange.

Trump, as he did in public over the course of the summit, ardently advocated for it, the officials said. As the leaders discussed issues like Iran and fires in the Amazon rain forest, Trump interjected and asked why Russia should not be included in the talks, given its size and role in global affairs.

That met sharp resistance from some of the leaders, principally German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They argued Russia had grown more anti-democratic since it was ejected in 2014 for its incursion into Ukraine, disqualifying it from rejoining the G7.

The dispute amounted to one of the most heated moments of this weekend's G7. Afterward, Trump publicly insisted the gathering was marked by displays of unity and cooperation. While the leaders did hold amiable discussions throughout both the dinner and other sessions, the exchange on Russia was notable for the fiercely argued views on both sides, the officials said.

He might as well put on a Russian ballerina tutu, "I love Putin" t-shirt and cheerleader pompoms:

It wasn’t the first time Trump has said his predecessor was somehow responsible for the act of aggression that got Russia booted from the G-8, and he’s never been able to come up with anything better than “whatever” in explaining how exactly President Obama was supposed to stop the annexation. All that matters, according to Trump, is that Obama is bad and Putin, even at his most anti-democratic, is incapable of wrongdoing. Just like Trump.

Trump’s anti-Obama screed on Monday came after he was asked about his belief that Putin should be readmitted to the G7 despite showing no remorse for his indiscretions, a cause Trump championed at last year’s G7 in Canada, and again over the weekend in France. As the Washington Post reported on Monday, Trump’s desire to bring Putin back into the fold was far more intense in Biarritz than the president let on publicly, which is saying a lot.

His campaign began on Saturday night, when world leaders met for the first time over dinner. As the Post writes, after beginning cordially, the occasion went “off the rails” when Trump started lobbying on behalf of Putin. His dining partners were not pleased:

“The entire 44-year vision of the G-7 gathering, according to the non-U.S. participants, is to hash out global issues among like-minded democracies. So the discussion quickly turned even more fundamental: whether the leaders should assign any special weight to being a democracy, officials said.

Most of the other participants forcefully believed the answer was yes. Trump believed the answer was no. The push back against him was delivered so passionately that the U.S. president’s body language changed as one leader after another dismissed his demand, according to a senior official who watched the exchange. He crossed his arms. His stance became more combative.”

Not even Boris Johnson, the new Brexit-happy prime minister of England, was on Trump’s side. The next day, he reportedly gave plaudits to French President Emmanuel Macron for how he diffused the argument over dinner the previous night. “You did very well there last night,” Johnson said, according to the Post. “My God, that was a difficult one.

We are five years and forty-eight hours from halcyon days when tan suits were the controversial rage. We're in a daily abusive relationship with a gas lighter and his cult following (a short list): Alex Jones between throwing obvious psychotic fits and accusing anything beyond his third grade comprehension of reading and math to "false flag operations"; feckless evangelicals that have given up any pretense of moral authority, KKK et al racist domestic terrorists and Q-Anon, the natural online evolution from the outer fringes of 4CHAN and 8CHAN per "It Came From Something Awful" author Dan Beran. It could yet become more awful. Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" was a fanciful, dystopian novel and a fascinating Hulu series: not a blueprint. White evangelicals have strange hard on's.

Orange Satan's spiritual and hair mousse twin in the old country suspended parliament to popular backlash, an assault on the British Constitution that can only push our own constitutional assaults to the forefront of his "limited cognitive ability, and of generally dubious character" per General "mad dog" Mattis. 84 environmental regulations are being rolled back, inclusive of methane - a gas along with carbon dioxide that exacerbates global warming, as fires burn in the Amazon and a hurricane barrels towards Florida. The Tongass National Forest mitigates climate change like the Amazon - he's ordered chopped down. We are becoming Apokolips.

It makes as much sense as rolling coal exhaust trucks "owning the libs" polluting the same air they breathe on the same planet. It's the equivalent of shooting their own feet...and laughing about the gaping hole.

Nothing about what he does makes any sense other than political penis envy of the smarter, (bigger hands), more popular black president who's legacy he's hellbent in cartoon megalomania villainy in trying to destroy. Champagne glasses are clicking in the Kremlin, who like their smokestack gremlin brethren ALSO live on the same planet!

In comic books, good typically triumphs over evil.

This life is not a comic book.

There will be no movie...nor a sequel.
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Quantum Sound...

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Credit: Getty Images

 

Topics: Modern Physics, Phonons, Quantum Mechanics, Theoretical Physics


Researchers have gained control of the elusive “particle” of sound, the phonon. Although phonons—the smallest units of the vibrational energy that makes up sound waves—are not matter, they can be considered particles the way photons are particles of light. Photons commonly store information in prototype quantum computers, which aim to harness quantum effects to achieve unprecedented processing power. Using sound instead may have advantages, although it would require manipulating phonons on very fine scales.

Until recently, scientists lacked this ability; just detecting an individual phonon destroyed it. Early methods involved converting phonons to electricity in quantum circuits called superconducting qubits. These circuits accept energy in specific amounts; if a phonon’s energy matches, the circuit can absorb it—destroying the phonon but giving an energy reading of its presence.

In a new study, scientists at JILA (a collaboration between the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado Boulder) tuned the energy units of their superconducting qubit so phonons would not be destroyed. Instead the phonons sped up the current in the circuit, thanks to a special material that created an electric field in response to vibrations. Experimenters could then detect how much change in current each phonon caused.

“There’s been a lot of recent and impressive successes using superconducting qubits to control the quantum states of light. And we were curious—what can you do with sound that you can’t with light?” says Lucas Sletten of U.C. Boulder, lead author of the study published in June in Physical Review X. One difference is speed: sound travels much slower than light. Sletten and his colleagues took advantage of this to coordinate circuit-phonon interactions that sped up the current. They trapped phonons of particular wavelengths (called modes) between two acoustic “mirrors,” which reflect sound, and the relatively long time sound takes to make a round trip allowed the precise coordination. The mirrors were a hair’s width apart—similar control of light would require mirrors separated by about 12 meters.

 

Trapping the Tiniest Sound, Leila Sloman, Scientific American

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Lords and Serfs...

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Danny Kaye - The Court Jester


Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights


If there is a lesson in all of this it is that our Constitution is neither a self-actuating nor a self-correcting document. It requires the constant attention and devotion of all citizens. There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: "A republic, if you can keep it." The brevity of that response should not cause us to under-value its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.

Richard R. Beeman, Ph.D. - National Constitution Center

The idea behind a republic: "a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law" Merriam-Webster

I seriously doubt he ever planned to win.

The outrageous things he said on the campaign trail quickly got replaced by the daily outrageous things he says in the oval office.

It's why he never backed out of the Moscow Tower deal: the reason he doesn't look like he has a plan or a clue is because he's NEVER had one beyond his own wallet.

His former life as a conman masquerading as a billionaire on a faux reality show he has publicly announced he misses. A child of privilege and the hell spawn of a New York real estate scion, he's never had to face his own limitations as no one in his space of living has ever given him any. He's never doubted his own self-aggrandized fantasies of himself as he dismissed quickly anyone that countered the addictive fantasy with stone-cold facts. Thus, climate change is a Chinese hoax and Russia didn't install a Manchurian candidate.

Nielsen Ratings alone could never feed the ravenous appetite of a person that craves constant attention; that may never forgive the deserved punning received at the White House Correspondents Dinner, itself a response by then President Obama on his racist birtherism shtick. It drove up ratings. It drove attention and crowds to him. It's the kind of thing that feeds the never-ending hunger of a malignant narcissist.

How does such a being... come to be?

For [Dr. Justin] Frank, the dynamic between infant and mother has a profound influence on a person’s psychological outlook and health. Trump’s mother was Mary Anne MacLeod, who arrived in New York from the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis in 1930. After six years as a domestic worker and nanny, she married the property developer Fred Trump and they had five children.

The otherwise garrulous president has said little about his mother. Notably, for his first few months in the Oval Office, the only photo behind his desk was of his father. His mother was added later. Yet, Frank points out, 72-year-old Trump’s gravity-defying hair is a very deliberate homage to his mum’s.

“The fact that he tries to get us to feel his anxiety and he externalizes responsibility makes me feel that, as a young child, he did not feel contained or held by his mother or other caretakers,” he says. “He didn’t have a strong maternal force in his life.

“The one thing we do know biographically is that when he was two, the last child in the family was born, but when his mother went to the hospital she didn’t come home right away. She had a hemorrhage, she had four surgeries and came close to dying and there was virtually no talk about that in the family. His older siblings just went to school as if it were normal while they’re terribly worried about their mother.”

His mother’s frequent absences, Frank suggests, left Trump devoid of empathy.

“One of the things that you do when you’re feeling ignored and abandoned in some way,” he says, “is develop contempt for that part of yourself. You have the hatred of your own weakness and you then become a bully and make other people feel weak, or mock other people to make it clear that you’re the strong one and that you don’t have any needs.

In the end, he has mommy issues.

He tweets from the shitter, and gets two strong, opinionated congresswomen barred from Israel. He belittles and demeans those he feels most intimidated by: opinionated, strong women. It explains his venom in the 2016 campaign against his opponent. His following may be like him: everyone loves mommy until she runs for president. The United States managed before Barack Obama to maintain the continued hegemony of White Anglo Saxon Protestant (John F. Kennedy the noted exception) Cisgender Male Supremacy. No person of color before him came close, no woman, no openly gay candidate, no Asian, Hispanic/Latino. The Make America Great Again (ironically, "MAGA" in Nigerian means one who has been conned) desperately wants to restore that sociopathic order, murderous to everyone else but themselves.

He wishes to be a lord like the royal families in Europe, always emphasizing innate qualities bequeathed by biology or deity: "good genes," a public compensation for feeling less than worthy of his ascension to a golden toilet throne.

He wishes to be lord in a realm of actual billionaires and successful business empires who haven't filed for bankruptcy six times, closed down and settled fraudulent universities or fraudulent charities and Olympic level lawsuits only exceeded by his pathological lies.
 

He wishes to be a lord above the serfs who follow him, that like any conman he disdains.

In the end, despite the Newsweek article, he's lower than a court jester made king...he may even think he's as witty and talented as his fellow New York resident, the late Danny Kaye.

In the end, he's just Biff: "Lord of the Flies" (and we know what they eat).
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Image Source: Entertainment Weekly
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Stepping Backwards...

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Image source: link [1] below

 

Topics: Civics, NASA, Space Exploration, Star Trek, STEM


The first time I ran into the notion of the moon landing being "faked," a young coworker showed me a grainy amateurish video on YouTube. I encountered it with a co-vendor at the IBM research facility I supported. To neither, both younger than me, did it matter that "I was there" and they weren't on the planet yet. Evidence and eye witness testimony did not move them from their stances.

Neil Armstrong thought he had a 50–50 shot at pulling it off. "There are so many unknowns," the first man to set foot on the moon said in a 2011 interview with an Australian accounting firm. “There was a big chance that there was something in there we didn’t understand properly and we [would have] to abort and come back to Earth without landing.” That he, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins—with the help of thousands of NASA engineers, scientists and mission controllers on Earth—did pull off a moon landing remains one of humanity's most incredible achievements.

Consider that 50 years ago this month a 36-story-tall Saturn V rocket weighing as much as 400 elephants climbed away from Earth atop an explosion more powerful than the output of 85 Hoover Dams. Once in space, the astronauts escaped Earth orbit, traveled to lunar orbit, then undocked part of their spacecraft and steered it down for a soft impact on an alien land. Perhaps even more impressive, after taking a walk around, they climbed back in their lunar lander, launched off the surface of another planetary body (another first), rejoined the command module orbiting roughly 60 miles above the lunar surface, and then flew back to Earth, splashing down safely in the Pacific Ocean two days later. [1]

The spin offs from the space industry technologically benefited America. Not since the king cotton era (fueled by the free, uncompensated slave labor of my ancestors) had the United States enjoyed such dominance in production, productivity and economic expansion. It would go on for decades, many young people inspired by NASA, Star Trek reruns and conventions to pursue STEM careers out of a passion for exploration, and birthing a more egalitarian society post previous sectarian divisions.

Exactly 50 years ago today, a Saturn V rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the Moon. Four days later, Armstrong and Aldrin would land on the Moon and inspire a generation of young people to become scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.

The Apollo program's effect of inspiring America's children to pursue careers in STEM fields is one of the most powerful lasting legacies of the Moon race. Unfortunately, this effect seems to be coming to an end.

On the eve of the Apollo 11 anniversary, LEGO asked The Harris Poll to survey a total of 3,000 children in the United States, China, and the United Kingdom about their attitudes toward and knowledge of space. The results reveal that, at least for Western countries, kids today are more interested in YouTube than spaceflight. [2]

Entertainment and ambition looked upward: the notion of a three nacelle starship with a saucer section that could travel impossible speeds fueled imaginations. The notion of defying relativistic time dilation, traversing vast distances in human lifetimes propelled many of us into STEM to “do our parts” in getting at least close to this lofty goal. A fifth or tenth the speed of light to Proxima Centauri would achieve that aim. Any higher level physics class disabused us of attaining “warp speed,” but we could see the technological benefit and spin off of assisting in things that would promote the “Common Good” here on Terra Firma.

We did not count on the divorce of productivity and cost of living wages, stagnant since the 1970s. We did not count on conspiracy theorists masking themselves as serious news pundits and influencing more than clicks or product purchases from their sites. We did not count on the rapidly increasing (and encouraged) income disparity. We did not count on politicians bought by wealthy families and corporations whose only about getting wealthier and more powerful in our lives. We did not count on science denial, climate or otherwise. Such a dysfunctional dystopia depends on selfies, self-centered attitudes and distractions, like supercomputers in our hip pockets sharing our suppers; websites that reinforce our views and cute cat videos. And we did not count on the cultural division encouraged by authoritarians the world over as their best means of controlling the masses.

It is in such a world young people would rather be YouTube personalities than starship captains.

My previous, gob-smacking encounters with my younger coworkers are now explained.
 

1. One Small Step Back in Time: Relive the Wonder of Apollo 11, Clara Moskowitz, Scientific American
2. American kids would much rather be YouTubers than astronauts, Eric Berger, ArsTechica

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