climate change (73)

Origin...

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Image source: Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures - Isabel Wilkerson, Livestream (2022)

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

"While I was at the hotel today, an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality between the negroes and white people. [Great Laughter.] While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me, I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]—that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together, there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion, I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position, the negro should be denied everything. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave, I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman, or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men. I recollect of but one distinguished instance that I ever heard of so frequently as to be entirely satisfied with its correctness—and that is the case of Judge Douglas’s old friend, Col. Richard M. Johnson. [Laughter.] I will also add to the remarks I have made (for I am not going to enter at large upon this subject) that I have never had the least apprehension that my friends or I would marry negroes if there was no law to keep them from it, [laughter] but as Judge Douglas and his friends seem to be in great apprehension that they might if there were no law to keep them from it, [roars of laughter] I give him the most solemn pledge that I will to the very last stand by the law of this State, which forbids the marrying of white people with negroes. [Continued laughter and applause.] I will add one further word, which is this: [that] I do not understand that there is any place where an alteration of the social and political relations of the negro and the white man can be made except in the State Legislature—not in the Congress of the United States—and as I do not really apprehend the approach of any such thing myself, and as Judge Douglas seems to be in constant horror that some such danger is rapidly approaching, I propose as the best means to prevent it that the Judge be kept at home and placed in the State Legislature to fight the measure. [Uproarious laughter and applause.] I do not propose dwelling longer at this time on this subject."

Teaching History, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, 4th Debate, Part 1.

The man who would be known as "the great emancipator" could turn a phrase at an event at the time that would dwarf our current 1-1/2 hour modern performances: they were hours in duration. People brought lunches and took notes. Old Abe appeared to have been the "George Carlin" of his day. He was exploitative in his digs, not knowing at the time the same people he derided he would need fighting for him to win the war of secession.

Lincoln exploited racist tropes to make Judge Douglas - his Democratic (the conservative party then) opponent, look like a conspiratorial fool. As we look to history, we see the pedestals that our heroes occupy are made of cracked porcelain; their balance isn't steady because human bodies aren't perfectly proportioned, and they often fall from their lofty perches after scrutiny.

Despite this obvious bias Lincoln had towards "his tribe," another Douglass, Frederick Douglass, would petition him for the involvement of our ancestors on the side of the Union in the Civil War as well as make the case for the Emancipation Proclamation. Despite the many docuseries with them briefly onscreen together generally getting along, Frederick Douglass wasn't an initial fan of the 16th president:

Douglass was concerned about the unequal pay of Black soldiers, who received $3 dollars less per month than white privates. He was also incensed by the Union government’s response to the Confederate treatment of Black prisoners of war, who were being tortured, killed, and sometimes sold into slavery. He focused his anger on President Abraham Lincoln. “The slaughter of Blacks taken as captives,” wrote Douglass in his Douglass’ Monthly, “seems to affect him [Lincoln] as little as the slaughter of beeves [cows] for the use of his army.”

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: Inside Their Complicated Relationship, History.com

So, when I hear people saying they're tired of voting for "the lesser of two evils," their naivete seems to reflect back to halcyon days that never existed, not realizing African Americans have voted that way since we were allowed to vote without interference (poll taxes, lynching, cross burnings, voter purges). As long as a caste system of complexion has existed on these shores, there has never been a conservative or liberal "great again."

The following (or a version of this) I posted on Rotten Tomatoes after seeing the movie:

"I read “Caste: The Source of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson before I saw “Origin,” directed by Ava DuVernay. I highly recommend reading the book, seeing the movie, and staying for the after-the-credits discussion by the director. It is POWERFUL and relevant to the times we all find ourselves in. Seeing the reenactment of Nazi book burning has a modern analogy in practice.

"The Caste System in America is based on skin color and the debasement of people who have no control over how they present themselves or how they are perceived. This extends easily to other groups under the boot of patriarchy.

"See it while it is available. It is a threat to patriarchal oligarchy and for the downcast, the Dalits, the under-the-boot marginalized: the relieving breath of being seen.

"I recommend this movie, seen with a group, and a discussion at a coffee shop or a restaurant afterward. You will need to decompress."

*****

A caste system, whether divinely inspired, fueled by American slave codes, black codes, Jim Crow, eugenics, or Europe, Italian and Nazi fascism, in India, Brahmins (priests and teachers), Kshatriyas (rulers, administrators, warriors), Vaishyas (artisans, merchants, tradesmen, farmers), Shudras (laborers) Dalits (Harijans or Untouchables), propped up by myth, superstition, and pseudoscience, is about resources and power, who "deserves" to have it, and who those deeming themselves deserving, deeming others as not deserving.

We can see the effects of the caste system in everything:

The global south suffered more from the pandemic than the global north.

The deleterious effects of climate change also affect the Global South more than it does the North. Our apathy for solving it lies in arrogance, caste, and xenophobia.

The Nazis plagiarized the South's black codes for the Nurenberg Laws to oppress the Jews.

It would take 500 years for African Americans to catch up to their (currently) majority neighbors. The March on Washington was on the eighth anniversary of the lynching of Emmett Till, but the essence of the assembly was a demand for reparations. We're still cashing a check returned, as Dr. King said, for "insufficient funds."

For Europeans, the outsiders are from the African continent (Akebulan), driven by conflicts supplied by European and American military-industrial complexes, STARTED by European and American business interests for one-sided extraction profits.

There's a scene in Sean Penn's "Superpower" documentary where Volodymyr Zelinzky and Vladimir Putin occupy the same stage. Putin glares at Zelinsky for contradicting him in a question-and-answer session with the press. In the obvious two-tier caste system, Russian pride cannot suffer his Ukrainian lesser upstaging him on camera. The motivation for the war, in a wounded strongman's twisted mind, might be as simple as that.

China is on Akebulan to extract the abundant resources from the continent to fuel what is arguably a communist-capitalist system. Their underdogs are Uygers, and they are treated like Dalits and Dr. Martin Luther King.

In fact, when King visited a local school for Dalit children in the southern Indian state of Kerala in 1959, the principal introduced him thus: "Young people, I would like to present to you a fellow untouchable from the United States of America." Although King was initially shocked by this introduction, he later understood the deeper connections of oppression, exclusion, and exile that African Americans in the US and Dalits in India shared. The broader Black freedom struggle has continued to inspire Dalit struggles in this region, from the formation of the Dalit Panthers in the 1970s to the recent emergence of Dalit Lives Matter groups in Nepal and India.

MLK and the Civil Rights Movement’s Global Perspective, University of Dayton blogs

In Israel-Palestine, the caste system also has only two tiers, as did its WWII analog. There will always be a "two-state solution" in Israel-Palestine because it is never meant as a problem to solve. The two-state solution is meant to sound reasonable because it IS reasonable, but part of a two-state solution would mean returning lands seized since 1948 (or at least 1967). That has another word in America: reparations. If you can do it in the Near East, the fear is the clamor to do it in the United States couldn't justifiably be resisted.

Power and resources, hoarded to the one percent of any nation's pyramid, are imbalanced, and it is a caste system that is unsustainable.

A caste system is a societal pathology, and I don't see such a society lasting long enough to build interplanetary or interstellar vessels. "Fermi's paradox" may have a grim answer.

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Brookhaven and Fake News...

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Climate of fear Anti-science protestors led to the closure of the High Flux Beam Reactor at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in the US 25 years ago using tactics that are widespread today. (Courtesy: iStock/DanielVilleneuve)

Topics: Biology, Cancer, Carl Sagan, Civilization, Climate Change, Philosophy, Physics

I typically don't comment on articles, but this one resonated with my memories of Carl Sagan desperately trying to raise the critical thinking skills of an entire essential nation with "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark." The host of Cosmos would succumb to pneumonia as a consequence of bone marrow disease. I will be the age Carl was when he passed away this year, 62, but not as accomplished as he did in the six decades we all had access to him.

The framework of our current duress was already here in the form of celebrity worship, gossip columns, and talk shows where sensationalism equaled eyeballs, just as the Internet rouses the primitive lizard portion of our brains to be afraid, get angry, and "buy-purchase-consume" products (a friend who's a sound engineer likes to say that a lot).

Underhand tactics by environmental activists led to the closure of a famous physics facility 25 years ago. We can still learn much from the incident, says Robert P Crease.

Fake facts, conspiracy theories, nuclear fear, science denial, baseless charges of corruption, and the shouting down of reputable health officials. All these things happened 25 years ago, long before the days of social media, in a bipartisan, celebrity-driven episode of science denial.  Yet the story offers valuable lessons for what works and what does not (mostly the latter) for anyone wanting to head off such incidents.

The episode in question concerned one of the more valuable scientific facilities in the US, the High Flux Beam Reactor (HFBR) at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. As I mentioned in a previous column and in my book The Leak, the HFBR was a successful research instrument that was used to make medical isotopes and study everything from superconductors to proteins and metals. “Experimentalists saw the reactor as the place to go,” recalls the physicist William Magwood IV, then at the US Department of Energy.

But in 1997, lab scientists discovered a leak of water from a pool located in the same building as the reactor, where its spent fuel was stored. The leak contained tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that decays with a half-life of about 12 years, releasing low-energy electrons that can be stopped by a few sheets of paper. The total amount of tritium in the leak was about that in typical self-illuminating “EXIT” signs.

The protestors’ tactics are a familiar part of today’s political environment: tell people they are in danger and insist that anyone who says otherwise is lying.

The article goes on to recount the actor Alec Baldwin using his celebrity to put a ten-year-old child on the Montell Williams Show to claim that the tritium and the research facility caused his cancer. It wasn't true, but it was LOUD, drowning out the experts who are used to spirited peer review and erudite discussions of research, not tears and gnashing of teeth.

Montell Williams ended his talk show after announcing that he had multiple sclerosis. Alec Baldwin, though I enjoyed his SNL skits, has other pressing issues.

I have a physicist friend who's using tritium in his research with optical tweezers, separating isotopes to detect and treat cancers, among other applications. I am opting not to give his website as those same elements described in the article about Brookhaven National Labs have metastasized into our current societal mass psychosis. If his research leads to your cancer cure, you can thank him later.

Twenty-five years ago, we weren't as far along in climate disruption as we are now. Twenty-five years ago, CNN was 19 years old, and its clones, Fox and MSNBC, were 3 years old. Five years after the Y2K scare (exquisitely setting us up for election 2000 and 9/11), humanity further siloed itself into warring tribes, first posting on Internet bulletin boards, MySpace. Then, the logical progression was to Facebook, Twitter (now X), and its myriad progeny.

A side note: CERN would go on to discover the Higgs Boson because we, in the spirit of fiscal stewardship, closed the superconducting collider in Waxahachie, Texas, 48 kilometers south of Dallas. Peter Higgs and François Englert owe their 2013 Physics Nobel Prize to Switzerland. U-S-A. U-S-A.

How much further along in cancer research and nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels would we be if, prior to Facebook and the former Twitter, we exercised a little critical thinking and common sense? I'm not talking about tritium, but fission reactors, which we know how to build (fusion, though cleaner and less radioactive, is still far off), but the environmental activists have terrorized anyone from building newer and safer facilities that might have had some positive impact on our warming climate. To paraphrase a famous saying, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Our air quality improved during the pandemic, so the logic leads to upgrading public transportation to something matching other countries that rely on it more than we do, or within our borders, the subway systems in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, or Washington, DC. You end up doing nothing of any importance. We could replace the fission reactors one by one as fusion comes online.

That is what enrages and disappoints me.

The American reactor that was closed by fake news, Robert P Crease, Physics World

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Fast Charger...

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Significant Li plating capacity from Si anode. a, Li discharge profile in a battery of Li/graphite–Li5.5PS4.5Cl1.5 (LPSCl1.5)–LGPS–LPSCl1.5–SiG at current density 0.2 mA cm–2 at room temperature. Note that SiG was made by mixing Si and graphite in one composite layer. Inset shows the schematic illustration of stages 1–3 based on SEM and EDS mapping, which illustrate the unique Li–Si anode evolution in solid-state batteries observed experimentally in Figs. 1 and 2. b, FIB–SEM images of the SiG anode at different discharge states (i), (ii), and (iii) corresponding to points 1–3 in a, respectively. c, SEM–EDS mapping of (i), (ii), and (iii), corresponding to SEM images in b, where carbon signal (C) is derived from graphite, oxygen (O) and nitrogen (N) signals are from Li metal reaction with air and fluorine (F) is from the PTFE binder. d, Discharge profile of battery with cell construction Li-1M LiPF6 in EC/DMC–SiG. Schematics illustrate typical Si anode evolution in liquid-electrolyte batteries. e, FIB–SEM image (i) of SiG anode following discharge in the liquid-electrolyte battery shown in d; zoomed-in image (ii). Credit: Nature Materials (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41563-023-01722-x

Topics: Applied Physics, Battery, Chemistry, Climate Change, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering

Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new lithium metal battery that can be charged and discharged at least 6,000 times—more than any other pouch battery cell—and can be recharged in a matter of minutes.

The research not only describes a new way to make solid-state batteries with a lithium metal anode but also offers a new understanding of the materials used for these potentially revolutionary batteries.

The research is published in Nature Materials.

"Lithium metal anode batteries are considered the holy grail of batteries because they have ten times the capacity of commercial graphite anodes and could drastically increase the driving distance of electric vehicles," said Xin Li, Associate Professor of Materials Science at SEAS and senior author of the paper. "Our research is an important step toward more practical solid-state batteries for industrial and commercial applications."

One of the biggest challenges in the design of these batteries is the formation of dendrites on the surface of the anode. These structures grow like roots into the electrolyte and pierce the barrier separating the anode and cathode, causing the battery to short or even catch fire.

These dendrites form when lithium ions move from the cathode to the anode during charging, attaching to the surface of the anode in a process called plating. Plating on the anode creates an uneven, non-homogeneous surface, like plaque on teeth, and allows dendrites to take root. When discharged, that plaque-like coating needs to be stripped from the anode, and when plating is uneven, the stripping process can be slow and result in potholes that induce even more uneven plating in the next charge.

Solid-state battery design charges in minutes and lasts for thousands of cycles, Leah Burrows, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Tech Xplore

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Bedlam, Swatting, Terrorism...

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 Image source: CSO online - Swatting

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, Existentialism, Fascism, Star Trek

 

Bedlam is a scene of madness, chaos, or great confusion. The term bedlam comes from the name of a hospital in London, “Saint Mary of Bethlehem,” which was devoted to treating the mentally ill in the 1400s. Over time, the pronunciation of “Bethlehem” morphed into bedlam, and the term came to be applied to any situation where pandemonium prevails. Source: Vocabulary.com

 

Swatting is a criminal act that involves making hoax phone calls to emergency services to trick them into sending a response team to a person's address. The goal is to trick the emergency services into sending a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to a supposed emergency, such as a shooting or hostage situation. Source: Google generative AI

 

According to Dictionary.com, terrorism is the use of violence or threats to intimidate or coerce a government or civilian population. The goal of terrorism is to achieve political, social, or ideological objectives.

 

International terrorism: Violent, criminal acts committed by individuals or groups inspired by, or associated with, designated foreign terrorist organizations or nations (state-sponsored). Source: FBI.gov

 

Domestic terrorism: Violent, criminal acts committed by individuals or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature. Source: FBI.gov

 

I grew up in an era of possibilities, of the struggle for rights by African Americans through Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Hispanic Americans through Casar Chavez, the LGBT community after the attack on Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York. The year after the assassination of three black Civil Rights leaders, we did what John F. Kennedy inspired us to do one year later, and Dr. King, the Star Trek fan who talked Nichele Nichols out of quitting the show, never lived to see.

 

But we live in now, where in the early 2000s, a younger man who wasn't on the planet tried to convince me that my Saturday morning cartoons the day before hadn't been interrupted by an important event: the Moon Landing of Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969 (Sunday). His evidence was, of course, a grainy video on YouTube. I'm certain that the conspiracy theorists are already gearing up for Artemis. "Deep fake" has probably improved the tech for denial.

 

The president who inspired the mission, John F. Kennedy, led the sad cavalcade of assassinations rash in the 1960s. The president who spoke to the astronauts was Richard Nixon, the same who ran on a "law and order" platform, scaring the bejesus out of citizens he wanted to govern because of the bedlam, the chaos, the great confusion on college campuses like Kent State and NC A&T as students protested the Vietnam conflict that nobody understood, and no one wanted, and for the words in our founding documents that stated, "all men are created equal." The president who saluted astronauts would win reelection in a landslide and lose his job due to Watergate larceny.

 

The revered founders were, of course, referencing only themselves and their progeny. They had no concept of descendants of their chattel workforce becoming lawyers, engineers, educators, scientists, astronauts, mayors of towns, governors, state representatives, congressional representatives, senators, presidents of universities that directly benefited from slavery, or President or Vice President of the United States. Some of their jurists would obfuscate this possibility and give the interpretation of The Constitution by grammatically spitballing the pious-sounding, pseudo-academic name of "originalism."

 

We are here now, at the dawn of the second quarter of the 21st century. Nothing like September 11, 2001, was conceivable to a child in 1969 in the last year of a novel science fiction series called "Star Trek" where it seemed, 200 years into the future, we had "figured it out," we had put down the rocks of racism, sexism, silliness and decided to work together towards a common goal of survival on Earth and among the stars. Superluminal speeds and Heisenberg-defying transporters were plot devices; everyone was in on the joke.

 

Nothing like January 6, 2021, twenty years from an international terrorist assault on our shores that domestic terrorism would bring bedlam to the U.S. Capitol, medieval jousting and bludgeoning Capitol and Metro Police officers, tasing them, bear-spraying them, killing them, urinating and spreading feces, which in and of itself is a sign of mental illness Saint Mary of Bethlehem was constructed to mitigate. Then, poof! It would go away, redefined from insurrection to tourists gone bad (when no tours were scheduled during the pandemic), Antifa (ahem: anti-fascists) to finally "a beautiful day, full of love."

 

Towards the end of the second quarter of the 21st Century, we will likely see climate disruption at an irreversible, unpredictable pace. The world population will be increased to ~9.7 billion, and by 2100, ~10.4 billion. There are a few new posts in 2023, but a lot of inoperable links on the 100-year starship website (like "mailing lists" and "contact us"). From here until 2100, it doesn't give us a century to construct a generation's vessel or to solicit and train a crew for a one-way trip on the culturally narcissistic need for humans to survive their hubris expressed on this planet since the dinosaurs were too dumb to have scientists.

 

It would seem, though, even with the scientists and experts, we have allowed the know-it-alls, who know nothing, primacy because they're so loud. They demand attention to feed a narcissistic ego, blustering and ever-terrified that we will realize that they are nincompoops with no applicable skillsets. Conspiracy theories are tailor-made for people who won't read, study, or take the time to comprehend hard subjects and are rewarded lucratively for slavish devotion to bull crap. We have allowed our lizard brains to lead and the blowhard simpletons to rule us to ruin. They alone cannot fix or build a starship.

 

We are here now as the "rule of law" is being tested as it has never been before, to the point that we're being gaslit to ask if such a thing ever existed and if we can get by with WHATABOUTISM instead of democracy, tyranny instead of freedom.

 

Judges, Special Councils, Clerks, and politicians are being swatted doxxed; elected officials are receiving death threats because misinformation is being spread on social media like feces to infect the lizard portion of our brains, where fear and anger dwell, exploited for ratings, votes, and to sell products online and between archaic commercials. The only thing on the other side of bedlam is anarchy. That is a poor substitute for a federal republic that has existed for over 246 years and could easily be gone in a fortnight.

 

June: We have to run.
Luke: What?
June: We waited last time. We waited too long, and we didn't see how much they hated us. I lost you, and then we lost Hannah.
Luke: Are we just gonna forget about her now?
June: We will never ever forget about her, but we cannot help her if we are dead. It's changing, Luke. This country is changing.
Luke: No, Canada's not Gilead.
June: America wasn't Gilead until it was, and then it was too fuckin' late. Luke, we have to go. We have to run. Now.

Source: TV fanatic, "The Handmaid's Tale," by Margaret Atwood on Hulu

 

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Curated, Created Realities...

 

 

Image source: Facebook meme

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism

 

What is lost in the above Facebook meme: 5:00 - 5:30 pm was typically your local news. 6:00 - 6:30 pm, before “Bewitched,” was your international news, the Walter Cronkites, Mike Wallaces, and Harry Reasoner’s time to scare the living crap out of you that the world beyond our borders, during and post-Vietnam, was still going over a cliff. Hence, there is a serial lineup of sitcom talent for an obvious purpose. We also got cut off at midnight, white noise after the anthem, and a nation avoided insomnia because no 24-hour options existed.

 

Dr. Neil Postman was a Professor of Journalism at NYU. I will recommend two books in this post: “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Showbusiness” and “How To Watch TV News.” Both are essential in an era of gaslighting and misinformation.

 

Above, you peer a lineup that existed on network television in the early 1970s and continued throughout the Reagan era. It went essentially unchanged until the early 2000s.

 

Though I enjoy watching Star Trek on streaming services, this is recent. Enterprise, like Voyager, Deep Space Nine, The Next Generation, and The Original Series were all available on standard channels and cable television. Discovery and Strange New Worlds were first launched by CBS Streaming and then bought out/transferred to Paramount Plus. Nostalgia requires a checking account.

 

Saturday morning cartoons ENDED in September 2014. I can at least see Bugs Bunny on YouTube. Occasionally, Facebook brings up Tom and Jerry, The Roadrunner, etc., on my newsfeed because the algorithms have read my desires and given me what I would most likely wish to see. In this case, nostalgia is free, but now, more than ever, I am the product.

 

“Many decisions about the form and content of news programs are made on the basis of information about the viewer (Internet history), the purpose of which is to keep the viewers watching so that they will be exposed to the commercials” (bots and propaganda).

 

Neil Postman, Steven Powers, “How to Watch TV News.”

 

ABC, CBS, and NBC are running game shows and reality shows in prime time where sitcoms, dramas, actors, and writers used to be employed. As “Amusing Ourselves to Death” puts it, the news, 24-7-365 (366 on leap years), has become our entertainment. How did this happen?

 

In 1972, Richard Milhouse Nixon won a landslide election, winning 49/50 states and 520 electoral votes to his Democratic opponent, George McGovern’s 17. “Other” received one electoral vote. Judging from the redness of the map, a lot of African Americans voted for “law and order” or did not bother to show up at the polls. The Vietnam War trudged on, and the body count approached a staggering 282,000 U.S. and allied military deaths.

 

Two years later, in 1974, Nixon resigned in disgrace after the revelations of the Watergate burglary investigation by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the subsequent investigations, and the relentless media coverage that swayed a nation from electoral route to, maybe we need to get rid of the president who emphatically stated “I am not a crook” might be a crook. In this case, presidential larceny could not be tolerated.

 

This was possible because Americans had a shared reality innocently framed by what we viewed for entertainment: as many kids in Rural Hall watched Archie Bunker and Saturday cartoons as my neighbors did in East Winston. Although we were in the throws of forced busing due to the 9-0 Supreme Court Brown vs. Board Decision in 1954 (“all-deliberate speed” came about 20 years later in North Carolina), these shows gave us a framework for conversation, jokes, laughter, and community. The above shows weren’t the bastions of diversity - only “Room 222” had a diverse cast - but a shared entertainment experience made us feel more “united” than we do now.

 

Roger Ailes was an aide in the Nixon administration. After Nixon’s ouster, Ailes wanted a news network that was friendly to conservatives and biased against liberals. According to a Rolling Stones article, he created a propaganda network and a fear factory. The fear seems to be in the workplace and projected to its audience, absorbing propaganda nightly. After his death, it still runs top-down, like Pravda, not like a news organization. Since it’s profitable, even after the Dominion lawsuit and the upcoming lawsuit with Smartmatics, the network thinks it can absorb the legal losses of billion-dollar settlements and survive. That is frightening power and reach.

 

I cannot leave their rivals out of this. CNN was the first parent cable news network that “birthed” Fox and MSNBC from “Crossfire” (Paul Begala on the left, and Tucker Carlson on the right). They all follow a framework of “what should you fear of the ‘other.’” Television networks have always competed for viewership through television shows staffed by writers who create content. Shonda Rhimes’ “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” and “How To Get Away With Murder” on the public airwaves are distant memories. You need a streaming subscription now. I pay for several, but it’s not normal, nor should it be seen as normal.

 

What happens when your “United States” has no framework for a shared reality?

 

The Republican frontrunner/former reality TV huckster has not debated in the primary and doesn’t need to. He probably won’t in the general election either. He presided over the deaths of 1.13 million Americans due to the botched handling of the Coronavirus that, arguably, his Republican predecessor (43) put the medical professionals in place, and his Democratic successor (44) continued and expanded. Forty-five pulled them out of China to “own the libs” and found himself and the country flatfooted to identify whether the virus came from a food market or a lab leak. The U.S. had the worst performance of Western nations, exacerbated by not promoting masks and pushing non-cures like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

 

But, the party and a sizeable amount of the nation want to give him the nuclear codes again because, heck, he's entertaining, in a perverse, psychotic sense. For example, the fictional Batman is grim, determined, disciplined, and rarely smiles in the comics. His nemesis, Joker, is a murdering psychopath, but Jack Nickelson and Heath Ledger made him "entertaining." We all watched both versions of Mayhem.

 

If you can sell soap to 1950s housewives, you can sell racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia to the rubes who can’t, or won’t, afford streaming alternatives. And sell soap.

 

You “keep the viewers watching” not with clever sitcoms and nighttime dramas like “Dallas” and “Dynasty,” but anger at the “other.” Who is “other?” The people who don’t watch your network share your curated views. One side is “woke,” the other is fascist. No one talks.

 

We’ve had decades of Civil War reenactments in city parks, and no one died. Therefore, there is no appreciation that in an actual, modern Civil War, the death toll would likely overrun the hospitals more than Sars-CoV-2 did with the alpha through delta variants. The U.S. dollar would cease to be the currency of global trade, and world order would collapse into fiefdoms, dictatorships, and warlords, which would be fine to oligarchs who separated themselves from society generations ago and only come down from Mount Olympus to influence/bribe our politicians. Homo Sapiens (Latin: “wise men”) should choose a more apropos name: Homo Stultus (“stupid men”), and fully own Idiocracy. It didn’t need 500 years.

 

Humans are storytelling creatures. We need entertainment in the form of books, poetry, well-acted plays, movies, and television shows. We also need knowledge, facts, and accurate history to make a collective assessment of where we’ve been collectively as a nation and a species and where we’re going as a nation - perfecting The Union or over a cliff. Karl Rovian “created realities” nor Neo-Nazi book bans accomplish either necessity.

 

“Infotainment” is neither news nor entertaining, and Dr. Postman’s warning about the parent of this debacle, Ted Turner’s HBO-inspired infotainment, CNN, rings from his grave:

 

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books (well?). What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.

 

“This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”

 

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

 

(The parenthesis in both Postman quotes are my adds for emphasis, as are any bold type.)

 

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All-Solid-State Batteries...

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 Comparison of cathode volume changes in all-solid-state cells under low-pressure operation. Credit: Korea Institute of Science and Technology

 

Topics: Batteries, Chemistry, Climate Change, Lithium, Materials Science, Nanomaterials

Often referred to as the "dream batteries," all-solid-state batteries are the next generation of batteries that many battery manufacturers are competing to bring to market. Unlike lithium-ion batteries, which use a liquid electrolyte, all components, including the electrolyte, anode, and cathode, are solid, reducing the risk of explosion, and are in high demand in markets ranging from automobiles to energy storage systems (ESS).

However, devices that maintain the high pressure (10s of MPa) required for stable operation of all-solid-state batteries have problems that reduce the battery performance, such as energy density and capacity, and must be solved for commercialization.

Dr. Hun-Gi Jung and his team at the Energy Storage Research Center at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) have identified degradation factors that cause rapid capacity degradation and shortened lifespan when operating all-solid-state batteries at pressures similar to those of lithium-ion batteries. The research is published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

Unlike previous studies, the researchers confirmed for the first time that degradation can occur inside the cathode as well as outside, showing that all-solid-state batteries can be operated reliably even in low-pressure environments.

In all-solid-state batteries, the cathode and anode have a volume change during repeated charging and discharging, resulting in interfacial degradation, such as side reaction and contact loss between active materials and solid electrolytes, which increase the interfacial resistance and worsen cell performance.

To solve this problem, external devices are used to maintain high pressure, but this has the disadvantage of reducing energy density as the weight and volume of the battery increase. Research is being conducted on the inside of the all-solid-state cell to maintain the performance of the cell, even in low-pressure environments.

Investigation of the degradation mechanism for all-solid-state batteries takes another step toward commercialization, National Research Council of Science and Technology.

 

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Power and Resources...

 

 

 

French economist Thomas Piketty compares the US economy to Europe in the Gilded Age. Oregon Live, 2014

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism

 

Thomas Piketty wrote "Capital in the 21st Century" in 2013 centered on the wealth inequality we can see all around us. I can see more house-less citizens on the streets of North Carolina and Texas (on a recent visit) than I can remember from my youth because back then, we didn't have 8 billion inhabitants on the planet. There is a documentary of the same title on Amazon Prime video. The premise is ominous, and it bears witness to the stress that our world system is undergoing.

 

Dr. Piketty suggests that the rise of fascism around the world is because of income inequality. The climate crisis only exacerbates the supply chain, as thousand-year weather events are now more frequent than we would like.

 

Fascism is on the rise globally, but it is for lazy people. Propping up a so-called "strongman" gives a fall guy: if he (usually a "he") is right, he gets all the praise. If he's wrong, there can be one of two reactions: a coup (a coup, political, physical, or both is usually how they came to power in the first place), or a flaccid, impotent collective powerless shrug by the populace. So-called "strongmen" (an ever-oxymoron) are preferred when there is uncertainty, supplies are scarce, and people are fleeing wars, biblical tsunamis, and isolated by pandemics. When people are afraid, they are ripe for conmen and charlatans who will "fix" what is wrong and reflect back to halcyon days that never existed.

 

Democracy requires a shared reality, upon which sides debate and come to a consensus for the betterment of the electorate. Consensus means that you and your side won't get your "laundry list" after laying out your arguments, at least in that particular debate. It requires compromise and logic to be successful. It also helps that you are sane.

 

Whether you set your government framework on capitalism, communism, republicanism, or socialism, the divine right of kings, each has a hierarchy decided long ago of those who deserve the wealth and riches, and those pariahs at the base of the pyramid that do not.

 

Russian aggression in Ukraine, Hamas attacks in Israel; and Somali refugees in Europe are all because we are on the same volume of a planet that existed 43 years ago when we were only 4.4 billion people, and the American military after Vietnam was licking its wounds, reframing around an "all-volunteer force." The Soviet Union still existed as an existential boogie-man. Now, that remnant interferes in democratic elections worldwide, because the notion of participation in a stable world order is anathema to a kleptocracy.

 

Modern-day robber barons are no different than their ancestors, who met untimely ends in the French Revolution. Since we fought a Revolutionary War to depart the authoritarian crown of King George, the word sounds adventurous, avant-garde; "cool." Revolutions are bloody, and they aren't always for noble reasons.

 

"We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity. Our movement is Christian." Adolph Hitler, 1928, Snopes

 

The current status quo is unsustainable. We can't keep siphoning up ("trickledown" is gaslighting) tax breaks to American oligarchs and tax shelters in America and Europe for Russian oligarchs. It is thermodynamically impossible to "consume our way to utopia," and colonizing Mars is a pipedream by Elmo Musk, whose plan to terraform the Red Planet is impractical, impossible, unworkable, and dangerous. I'm not against space exploration. Far from it. Seeing the runaway Greenhouse Gas Emissions on Venus informed our models on Earth. Mars at one time probably had an atmosphere, water, and life about four billion years ago. The point is, the planet doesn't have either now, and the closest planet to terraform is right under our feet, without a requirement of VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing), rockets, or superluminal star drives. It merely requires something we should have learned to do in kindergarten: sharing resources with one another for the "common good" of continuance.

 

Cooperation is survival. Hoarding is death.

 

“Last year, I had a life-changing experience at 90 years old. I went to space, after decades of playing an iconic science-fiction character who was exploring the universe. I thought I would experience a deep connection with the immensity around us, a deep call for endless exploration.

 

"I was absolutely wrong. The strongest feeling, that dominated everything else by far, was the deepest grief that I had ever experienced.

 

"I understood, in the clearest possible way, that we were living on a tiny oasis of life, surrounded by an immensity of death. I didn’t see infinite possibilities of worlds to explore, adventures to have, or living creatures to connect with. I saw the deepest darkness I could have ever imagined, contrasting so starkly with the welcoming warmth of our nurturing home planet.

 

"This was an immensely powerful awakening for me. It filled me with sadness. I realized that we had spent decades, if not centuries, being obsessed with looking away, with looking outside. I did my share in popularizing the idea that space was the final frontier. But I had to get to space to understand that Earth is and will stay our only home. And that we have been ravaging it, relentlessly, making it uninhabitable."
-- William Shatner, actor

 

Credit goes to the respective owners.
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Everything, Everywhere, All at Once...

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The Flood by Antonio Marziale Carracci

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

Another week, another catastrophic, record-setting, history-making flood, this time in Kentucky.

Preliminary assessments indicate rainfall in Graves County last week likely set a new record for most precipitation in a 24-hour period, with 11.28 inches of rain. This would make it yet another “1,000-year” flood event, which had, according to historical projections, less than a 0.1 percent chance of occurring in any given year. One of the towns that experienced flash flooding was Mayfield, a community still rebuilding from a 2021 tornado that killed 57 people.

This was just one of the 11 flash flood emergencies in as many days in the United States, according to Weather Channel meteorologist Heather Zons. These events have claimed multiple lives: 2-year-old Mattie Shiels, 9-month-old brother, Conrad, and their mother, Katie Seley drowned after getting swept away by flash flooding in Pennsylvania, during an event that killed at least four others. In New York earlier this month, 43-year-old Pamela Nugent was swept away trying to evacuate a flooded area; 63-year-old Stephen Davoll drowned in his home in Vermont.

Other catastrophic, deadly flooding events have occurred almost simultaneously around the globe. Just this weekend, 10 inches of rain fell on parts of Nova Scotia, Canada, which is about as much as the region experiences over a period of three months. Four people, including two children, are still missing.

Everything, everywhere, all at once: The great floods of 2023, Jessica McKenzie, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July 27, 2023

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A Cult of Ignorance...

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Asimov image: https://karsh.org/isaac-asimov/

 

Sagan image: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0755981/

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism

 

Note: The Nobel Prize will be awarded starting Monday in Physiology, then Physics (my admitted favorite), Chemistry, Literature, Peace, and Economics the following Monday. Thus, the concentration of the postings will be Nobel as they post. I will be “nerding out.”

 

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding [its way] through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

 

Isaac Asimov

 

This is an often-used quote for memes from a longer essay by Isaac Asimov, who was at the time a professor of biochemistry at Boston University and the author of 212 books of science and science fiction (an interesting “side hustle”). I provided the link above and below, highlighted with his name. Dr. Asimov had much to say about the state of affairs as he saw it during my freshman year at North Carolina A&T State University in 1980. It was also the year the New York Times reported more black males in college than in the prison industrial complex. It was an election year and the year for the inaugural of 24-hour news media in Ted Turner’s Cable News Network (CNN), which birthed copycats Fox and MSNBC in 1996. It’s hard to imagine that before Ted’s innovation, television wasn’t a profit-making enterprise as much as a public service. Pundits didn’t wear their party affiliations on their sleeves or give “opinions” on the “news.” Mostly, they did not lie to their audiences to goose ratings either.

 

Asimov’s poignant observation of the phrase “Don’t trust anyone over 30” had to morph to “Don’t trust the experts” since Neverland never existed. The Second Law of Thermodynamics (the “arrow of time”) does, and did, meaning that those who gave that warning eventually would be untrustworthy after the “big 3-0.” Therefore, “Don’t trust the experts” became the foundation for railing against elites, which means anyone who goes to a library, pursues an education up to a terminal degree, or reads a book.

 

Experts created the Internet. Experts like “Hidden Figures” Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan enabled the United States to get to the Moon (there would be no “SpaceX” without them). Experts like Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett were one of many who helped to create the mRNA technology for the vaccines used to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

But “Don’t trust the experts,” a vapid slogan or talking point if there ever was one.

 

Sloganeering in the Cambridge Dictionary has a succinct and to-the-point definition: “trying to persuade people by repeating phrases instead of explaining your ideas.” It means the absence of an argument. Thus, there is a deliberate absence and avoidance of thinking or outlining to formulate a cogent framework, relying on volume and repetition so that others will begin following your “lead” from the sheer exhaustion of gaslighting.

 

*****

 

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

 

The dumbing down of Americans is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.”
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

 

*****

 

Dr. Sagan published these words in 1995. Both authors’ works are still available years after their deaths.

 

Celebrating ignorance invariably leads to a cult of ignorance.

 

It is a cult of ignorance when expertise is assailed as bullying.

 

It is a cult of ignorance when your side can’t admit to losing the Civil War or a presidential election.

 

It is a cult of ignorance when Dr. Fauci, Senator Romney, the FBI, the CDC, elected officials, and VOLUNTEER election workers must shell out dollars to protect their families from raving lunatics who believe every conspiracy tall tale printed, uttered, tweeted, or truth-ed.

 

Source material: Cult of Ignorance

 

Climate scientists are experts, yet they cannot be believed if the stupefying mantra is to be obeyed. The war against experts has always baffled me. No couple during Braxton Hicks contractions wants an Appalachian folk medicine doctor like Granny from the “Beverly Hillbillies” applying moonshine and a hacksaw or Norm, the mailman from the sitcom “Cheers” to start spitballing and wing it through the full delivery.

 

But, “it’s the weather,” following the “Don’t trust the experts” mantra, despite new Hurricane Katrinas repeated since 2005 across the globe, fire seasons in California and Canada, and women never having complications from ectopic pregnancies, high blood pressure, depression, stillbirths that need intervention by what is now illegal in most neo-confederate states (“conservative” they are not) because of the “sanctity of life” until the children are old enough to be lead-sprayed by psychopaths. Because in terms of climate, some wish to induce the apocalypse, and because in terms of bodily autonomy, the stork brings all babies alive and well as requested to cisgender parents, and no “others.”

 

*****

 

I contend that the slogan “America’s right to know” is [a] meaningless one when we have an ignorant population and that the function of a free press is virtually zero when hardly anyone can read.

 

What shall we do about it?

 

We might begin by asking ourselves whether ignorance is so wonderful after all and whether it makes sense to denounce “elitism.”

 

I believe that every human being with a physically normal brain can learn a great deal and be surprisingly intellectual. I believe that what we badly need is [a] social approval of learning and social rewards for learning.

 

We can all be members of the intellectual elite, and then, will a phrase like “America’s right to know” and, indeed, any true concept of democracy have any meaning.

 

Isaac Asimov

 

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Pools, Climate Change and Miscegenation...

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Taken at Bethlehem Community Center by the author, spring 2023

© August 30, 2023, the Griot Poet

Too few public pools

“There are more than 10 million private swimming pools in the United States, according to a C.D.C. estimate, compared with just 309,000 public ones. That figure includes pools that belong to condo complexes, hotels, and schools, so the number of pools truly accessible to the public is even smaller. The biggest reason so many Americans can’t swim is that they have too few places to learn to do so.

“Then the expansion stopped. In the 1960s, many towns across the South **filled or destroyed their public pools** rather than allow Black Americans to swim in them. Northern cities, strapped for resources amid suburbanization and white flight, struggled to maintain their pools. This is how public investment in pools withered, one more ghastly sacrifice America has laid at the altar of anti-Black racism and twisted fears about miscegenation.”

Mara Gay, New York Times

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/27/opinion/drowning-public-pools-america.html

I came to Earth via Kate Bitting Hospital,

Now, Reynolds Clinic,

On what used to be Seventh and Cleveland, now Cleveland and Martin Luther King Avenue.

The segregated hospital was named after the wife of RJ Reynolds, the tobacco magnate,

One of 12 hospitals for African Americans,

It’s where my mother worked as a nurse,

It, and all the others, no longer exists.

 

I attended Bethlehem Community Center for preschool and kindergarten.

It was, and is, right up the street from the hospital,

It was, and is, predominantly minority, with some immigrants,

We once had a pool where I learned to swim, to my big sister’s chagrin (she found out abruptly after I dove into the deep end of a then-segregated pool).

That pool is now closed.

On a recent visit to Bethlehem earlier this year, I saw the site where the pool once was now a surface cemented over.

 

My old neighborhood is still De Facto segregated.

I being a rare exception, some have been trapped in “The Racist Matrix” for generations.

A ghetto was brought over from Germany to the US.

After Germany put on steroids, American eugenics.

A place exquisitely designed to sequester possibilities and shatter dreams.

Black children are more likely to die from drowning,

Because if they HAD any pools in their neighborhoods, they’re cemented over.

If you’re lucky, someone’s dad (like mine) erects one of those plastic above-ground, temporary pools and invites your friends to come over, play, and cool off in it.

 

Occam’s razor:

Pair ceiled public pools with climate change,

The fear of water in black children,

The fear of miscegenation with white women,

Society has designed a slow crucifixion.

We’re barreling towards 3 degrees Celsius,

And the need for humans to keep cool in an ever-warming environment.

 

Who wins?

Which group has a survival advantage: 10 million private pools or 309,000 public ones?

Which groups are disadvantaged?

Are pools and universal healthcare inalienable human rights?

Or is this some National Security Study Memorandum 200/Thomas Malthus Eugenics strategy?

Or is their plan to keep a numeric majority to cook us before heaven or hellish eternities?

 

Who knows?

I just know that my granddaughter can swim because her parents can afford her lessons at a swim club [for] it.

It used to be that learning to swim didn’t require a middle-class wallet.

 

I just know that I attended,

Bethlehem Community Center from pre-k to kindergarten,

I learned how to read, how to swim, and how to grieve our loss of Dr. Martin Luther King,

As rifle shots rang out [and] confederate flags in the parking lot passed by our windows.

They were thrilled. We were devastated.

The same flag of insurrection was carried by their grandchildren at the US Capitol on January 6th.

The city of Winston-Salem left a cement surface like it was a marker to a tomb.

 

Even pre-k, to kindergarten:

Even there, in that innocence,

They couldn’t leave us alone...to swim.

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Until the Next July...

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This map shows global temperature anomalies for July 2023 according to the GISTEMP analysis by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Temperature anomalies reflect how July 2023 compared to the average July temperature from 1951-1980. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies

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

Editor's Note: This release has been updated to add additional graphics and captions and to spell out the words degrees Fahrenheit and Celsius.

According to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, July 2023 was hotter than any other month in the global temperature record.

“Since day one, President Biden has treated the climate crisis as the existential threat of our time,” said Ali Zaidi, White House National Climate Advisor. Against the backdrop of record-high temperatures, wildfires, and floods, NASA’s analysis puts into context the urgency of President Biden’s unprecedented climate leadership. From securing the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate investment in history, to invoking the Defense Production Act to supercharge domestic clean energy manufacturing, to strengthening climate resilience in communities nationwide, President Biden is delivering on the most ambitious climate agenda in history.”

Overall, July 2023 was 0.43 degrees Fahrenheit (F) (0.24 degrees Celsius (C)) warmer than any other July in NASA’s record, and it was 2.1 F (1.18 C) warmer than the average July between 1951 and 1980. The primary focus of the GISS analysis is long-term temperature changes over many decades and centuries, and a fixed base period yields anomalies that are consistent over time. Temperature "normals" are defined by several decades or more - typically 30 years.

NASA Clocks July 2023 as Hottest Month on Record Ever Since 1880

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Cartoon Network...

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Mick Fleetwood's Maui Restaurant destroyed in Maui fire. Allison Rapp, Ultimate Classic Rock

Topics: Battery, Chemistry, Civics, Civilization, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism

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The Herculoids were a Hanna-Barbara cartoon that only ran for two seasons, from 1967 to 1969. From ages five to seven, I didn't demand much from my Saturday morning viewing pleasure: good guys, bad guys, action, good guys pummel bad guys, in this case, casting them off the planet. We landed on the Moon in their last year of air (it's a shame that history is now controversial). Dr. King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated In Medias Res. My understanding of Physics and STEM came much later.

Zandor, Tara, and Domo were the human protagonists defending planet "Amzot" (the writers threw spaghetti at the wall on this name). In a tepid reboot, they called it Quasar, a little more astrophysical but nonetheless kooky. They had a laser ray dragon (Zot), a rock ape (Igo), and a ten-legged rhino/triceratops hybrid that shot energy rocks from his snout (Tondro, the Terrific, because, yeah). Gloop and Gleep were human-sized, protoplasmic creatures called "the formless, fearless wonders," with eyes, and Gleep, was somehow the "son" of Gloop, without genitalia or gender (go with the bit?). The humans also shot energy rocks from slingshots at the foes too dumb to leave Zandor and his jungle planet alone. If the rocks were made of Lithium, they shouldn't have lasted too long: one of its properties is its volatility in oxygenated atmospheres.

In 1967, I would have been five years old and not too demanding of my visual entertainment on Saturday Morning Cartoons, as this old form pastime was called.

Taking a few courses in Physics drives a probing question and observation:

 

Where were the flocks of laser ray dragons, the congress of rock apes, the herds of rhino/triceratops hybrids, and what marshy bog did the "formless, fearless wonders" ascend from? It seemed Zot, Igo, Tondro, Gloop, and Gleep were the only ones of their kind.

In "Sarko: The Arkman," Sarko kidnaps Domo, Igo, and Tondro for his "collection" on another planet. Zandor rides Zot with Gloop to ANOTHER PLANET without the need of a spaceship, escape velocity, pressurized spacesuits, protection from radiation, or the friction of reentry to Sarko's world. Even if the planet was in the same orbital plane as Amzot, it didn't appear to take him long, and he wasn't bruised by a single meteor during the trip nor tanned from radiation burns (or dead). Gleep clones five copies of himself to protect Tara then turns up in a scene making himself a pillow on Sarko's world to catch Domo. Zot flew escort to Sarko's ship on the way back to Amzot again, with no loss of life. Did you follow all that?

Five-year-olds don't need Physics lessons, just a simple plot, a lot of action, and taking care of "evil-doers" before you play outside after Saturday cartoons.

It's magical thinking, but not a way to run human society.

 

"The human understanding is no dry light but receives an infusion from the will and affections; whence proceed sciences which may be called 'sciences as one would.' For what a man had rather were true, he more readily believes. Therefore, he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride; things not commonly believed, out of the deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless, in short, are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections color and infect the understanding."

Sir Francis Bacon, NOVUM ORGANON (1620)

 

Maui is a dystopian hellscape. It is now the deadliest wildfire in American history: until the next one. Reuters reports the cause of the fire is unknown, but 85% of all wildfires are caused by humans, as is the anthropogenic climate disruption that helped light the match. Hurricane Dora energized the spread, fanning the flames across the island that was experiencing a drought. Part of Maui's problem is prior to the predictions of climate scientists coming true in recent real-time, Maui never had to prepare for drought conditions or massive wildfires. Did I mention the island chain is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean?

Maui was the Capitol of the old kingdom of Hawaii before colonization. It was a tourist attraction and the seat of culture. Maui is the place where the Hula dance and the Samoan language were reconstituted and practiced. A 150-year-old banyan tree burned in the flames. It will survive IF the roots survived the savage flames.

 

"Some 271 structures were destroyed or damaged, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser said, citing official reports from the U.S. Civil Air Patrol and Maui Fire Department." Reuters

 

There is a throughline from Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Hurricane Dora in Maui. That throughline is climate change, gestated into the climate crisis, birthed into climate catastrophe. In eighteen years, we have shuffled, obfuscated, and kicked the can down the road right into our children's and grandchildren's future. We have allowed political operators and lobbyists for the fossil fuels industry to quote their "science as one would": "It's summer." "There is no climate change." "It's a (fill in the blank) hoax." "How can there be global warming if New York is blanketed in snow?"

The tobacco and fossil fuels industry used the same researchers and same lawyers to sway public opinion and sell their products. It is a myopic concentration on quarterly profits, not looking at the damage to the planet beneath them going forward. If Adam Smith's capitalism is our "salvation," there should be market-based solutions to ensure a functional civilization as corporations pursue profits and bought and paid-for politicians pursue policies that sustain both commerce and civilization.

Otherwise, their vulgar opinions have not offered solutions nor modeled societal collapse.

The Guardian reported from the National Academy of Science that more than 50% of life is in the soil beneath us. Life on Earth may survive our own hubris. It likely won't be intelligent or anything resembling human civilization.

Cartoon Network Physics is only good for five-year-olds on Saturday morning cartoons. There are no laser dragons, rock apes, rhino/triceratops-hybrids, and energy rocks to deploy to our rescue. It fails humanity in the long term. "Sciences as one would" has led us to this precipice. "Sciences as one acknowledges" will lead us away from it.

Note: The blog will resume Monday - Friday postings on August 21st (traveling for work).

 

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Change, Crisis, Catastrophe...

 

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

In my post on Friday, two weeks ago, I compared the Earth to a plastic or glass bottle in a microwave. Of course, YouTube has an example of someone not taking Thermodynamics seriously. After a LONG two minutes and some change, the explosion is a sad but apt metaphor for the climate change that we have allowed to become a crisis, barreling forward into a full-blown catastrophe. It’s dystopian what’s going on. A short list:

In Italy, they’re discussing “underground climate change” as the summer is so hot it melted the insulation on their power grid underground. They’re also evacuating for wildfires.

If you fall on the pavement in Phoenix, Arizona, you’re taken to the burn unit, as asphalt in Arizona has been measured at 180-degree temperatures. Well, it's below boiling.

Off the coast of climate change-denying Florida, the ocean temperatures are 101.4 degrees Fahrenheit, balmy for a jacuzzi but catastrophic for coral that acts as a natural barrier to hurricanes and “us,” as it is in our food chain. Their death is the bellwether of coming food shortages, which of course, usually precipitates armed conflicts, either internal or international.

At the behest of a classmate from NC A&T, my wife and I attended her family reunion in Fayetteville, NC, a week and weekend before my family reunion in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The similarities I recall were striking (they’ll make sense as to how this relates to our current situation):

Good food! African American Family Reunions are legendary for spreading food, including fried chicken, baked beans, homemade macaroni and cheese, and potato salad.

Fellowship. I saw cousins I hadn’t seen in years. I did a “paint and sip” party, where I hadn’t painted ANYTHING in decades. It was a cathartic activity led by a therapy artist for people suffering from mental health crises like PTSD.

The purpose of the business meeting, in my friend’s and my family’s case, was the discussion where to have the NEXT family reunion. For my family, 2025 will be in California (Columbia, SC as a backup), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 2027, and Greensboro, NC, in 2029.

In each case, planning for the NEXT family reunions assumes we have a functional planet to plan and experience them on.

Mathematics is said to be applied philosophy, physics applied mathematics, and engineering applied physics.

In America, policy is applied physics coupled with political realities.

Currently, in certain democracies, we have parties that concede to the reality of climate change and those obliged to the Fossil Fuels Industry, which is likely the most destructive industry, only second to military contractors.

Fossil Fuels has known about the effects of their product since the late seventies when I was in high school. They hired the same lawyers who obfuscated the effects of cigarette smoking, enabled by spineless politicians who themselves, like drug dealers, weren’t smokers. The body count rivals the holocaust.

That body count was in the millions of humans volunteering to pollute their bodies. The coming body count will number in the hundreds of millions of climate refugees fleeing from coastal cities and the house-less dying from heat exhaustion.

The hoarding of wealth does not consume me, which is the basis of our current crisis: industries and individuals who are too selfish to think beyond the current business quarter and the next quarter. That’s the span of their attention, and the only thing that will spark their attention is if any action they take is profitable and they can avoid paying taxes that help the rest of humanity they’re a part of.

What is happening astonishes climate scientists. This dystopian hellscape was to occur in the year 2050: a twenty-seven-year acceleration.

Part of planning family reunions is the notion that there is a future and a hope to have children and add to the legacy of families.

Millennials and GEN Z are starting out living longer with their parents than previous generations, not purchasing their first home, not attending worship services, delaying or opting to NOT have children because they’re bereft of a future, or hope, stolen from them by a generation in its twilight, that doesn’t care about the wanton destruction they leave in the wake of their grandchildren due to mental depravity and greed.

“People with hoarding disorder have persistent difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions due to a perceived need to save the items. Attempts to part with possessions create considerable distress and lead to decisions to save them. The resulting clutter disrupts the ability to use living spaces (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).”

Source: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/hoarding-disorder/what-is-hoarding-disorder#:~:text=People%20with%20hoarding%20disorder%20have,to%20decisions%20to%20save%20them.

If you’re not used to sharing, you’re likely to use phrases like “socialism” and “communism” (or woke) when the fact is, you don’t care about anyone or anything other than yourself. This self-absorption will only buy them a few weeks at best after a full societal collapse. At that point, “billionaire” and “millionaire” are irrelevant titles with no places to spend.

Part of planning family reunions is the notion that there is a future and a hope to have children and add to the legacy of families.

Because of the avarice of evil men (mostly), I’m starting to have my doubts.

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Megalomania...

You’re going to have to pay me… One Billion Dollars! … Sorry, One Hundred Billion Dollars! Photo: Warner Bros; Getty Images, Jonathan Chait, NY Mag, March 8, 2018

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, Democracy, Diversity in Science, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights, Women in Science

Megalomania: a mania for great or grandiose performance; a delusional mental illness that is marked by feelings of personal omnipotence and grandeur

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: a personality disorder characterized especially by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, persistent need for admiration, lack of empathy for others, excessive pride in achievements, and snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes 

Useful Idiot: a naive or credulous person who can be manipulated or exploited to advance a cause or political agenda. E.g., It is one task of the KGB [in 1982] to apply its skills of secrecy and deception to projecting the Soviet party's influence. This it does through contacts with legal Communist Parties abroad, with groups sympathetic to Soviet goals, with do-gooders of the type that Lenin once described as "useful idiots" ….

—The Wall Street Journal, all the above from Merriam-Webster.com

Are we suffering from mass psychosis? Does it explain January 6, 2021, and the insanity that has descended from it? Was a substantial fraction of our nation led astray by a megalomaniacal, narcissistic useful idiot?

"A flood of negative emotions" is the business model of a lot of news outlets on the right. Determined to regain the audience lost after the Dominion settlement, Jesse Watters succeeds Tucker Carlson at the 8:00 hour, launching into a racist diatribe against the 44th president because they have to get their viewers back to repocket the $787.5 million dollars they had to pay out. Jesse, the "stable genius," forgot that Hawaii is our 50th state, but that occurred almost immediately after November 4, 2008.

When I was a senior in high school, 150 businesses owned everything we saw in print, on television, and heard on AM or FM radio. Now, with the expansion of the Internet, that ratio reduced EXPONENTIALLY to six corporations. With the expansion of the Internet, propaganda can be projected without a filter. Hitler deftly used radio to reach his masses, our current demagogue used Twitter until he was kicked off, and he was so devoted to this avenue he had to generate a knockoff to continue the conversation with his cult. Megalomaniacs never had it so good.

"Dr. Evil" was the antagonist in the Bond derivative "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" and its natural sequel, "The Spy Who Shagged Me." It's the type of flippant character that makes "team normal" think that no one could possibly be that over-the-top. Then, the year 2016 said, "Hold my beer."

Menticide: a systematic and intentional undermining of a person's conscious mind: BRAINWASHING - Merrian-Webster.com

Ms. Senko’s groundbreaking film examines the rise of right-wing media through the lens of her father, whose immersion in its daily propaganda had radicalized him. His new fanaticism rocked the very foundation of their family. She discovered that this phenomenon was occurring with alarming frequency in living rooms across America. The film reveals the consequences that this radicalized media is having on people, families, America, and the world.

The Brainwashing of My Dad (2015)

Rush Limbaugh, of stogies, four traditional marriages (I guess he needed practice?), bombast and blatant racism (I guess why Clarence Thomas liked him?), was the Grand Pooh-Bah/Grand Dragon of an echo chamber that still persists long after his transition. Under the attack of menticide, 24/7 fearmongering on "the border," "CRT," "DEI," "Immigrants," "LGBT," "People of Color," and "Women with bodily autonomy" are the substitutes for "young bucks," "welfare queens," and "Barack the Magic Negro." Rush and his Zombie clones are ginning up fear on a regular basis, hacking everyone's reptilian brain stem made into mountains of gold and an unstable society. There must always be enemies for those who fear change and shadows.

At its core, this is about resources. Resources are subdivided by hierarchies so that certain universities that are "elite" (and beneficiaries of enslaved peoples) are picked first for employment after graduation. Most academic positions at universities seek the same graduates from the same elite PWI schools. Once the dust settles, universities will resegregate, and sadly will Fortune 500 businesses. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion only mattered as slogans to avoid lawsuits post-George Floyd. With the end of Affirmative Action, what holds them accountable if, like campuses, the diversity among the workforce declines? Who would care?

Hierarchies have allowed societies from Egypt to England to rank and rate their populations into the worthy and the unworthy, the Brahmin and the Dalits, and the haves and the have-nots. "Occult" typically refers to magic, but it means hidden, and hiding knowledge is what gives a group self-designated as rulers of the rest their edge. "Conserving" the status quo allows for the continued acquisition of wealth beyond avarice and passing it on to their progeny. That means ignoring inequities, and climate crises, particularly heat waves in Texas's case since most of the workers affected happen to be BIPOC. The "Supreme Court" repealed Roe vs. Wade, Affirmative Action yesterday. What was left untouched: athletic programs, legacy enrollments, the children of employees, and millionaire gifts by benefactors like Fred Trump, that got his stupid son into Penn, and Jared Kushner, who, by his grades, couldn't have gotten into Harvard without daddy-the-jailbird's help. Roe and Affirmative Action were both decided by the Warren Court, an Eisenhower appointee. The Roberts "Court," appointed by "W," who lost the popular vote in 2000, and his Republican successor, who appointed three justices, losing the popular vote in BOTH elections, is determined to repeal the 20th Century and is coming for the 21st in LGBT rights. I use quotes in that the Roberts junta is neither supreme in the practice of law nor a court of jurisprudence. It is the extension of libertarian billionaires, the mythology propagandists of "reverse discrimination," and thus fascistic.

Ayn Rand, for the moment, has won. Welcome to 1953.

This paradigm of looking back to "great again" is unsustainable. We cannot solve income disparities going back to the fifties. No new technical designs will come from the back of the bus. The LGBT will not be returning to the closet to make closeted, cisgender couples feel comfortable in their camouflage bigotry, nor has a single-banned drag show stopped a single gun massacre in America. Women will not be returning to the kitchen and the state of barefoot and pregnant because that idyllic "Leave it to Beaver" Levittown never existed, except in "master-planned communities." Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson's dissent is poetry.

We're not going back.

We have to figure out climate change, sustainability, and feeding eight billion souls that are growing at an exponential pace that will take us to nine billion in 2037 and ten billion in 2057. I won't be here, but my granddaughter will be. A lot of grandchildren will be. Hoping for starships is like wishing on magic lanterns.

There is no functional analog in nature to a billionaire. Insects run their colonies via pheromones, and the most significant member of the colony is the Queen: males are drones and sperm donors. Patriarchy is a human construct.

The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) nevertheless estimates that annual investments of $39 billion to $50 billion would be required to achieve a world without hunger by 2030. Source: Brookings Institution.

But they won't. The core of their Hoarding Disorder is maintaining the inequity that puts them at the apex of society's pyramid; they've mistaken a designed system as "natural," making them apex predators. Only the second part is correct.

“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”

— Nelson Mandela

I'm revamping the SAT program, which ended during the pandemic, for as long as it lasts, with an online component. We'll also discuss strategies to apply to the colleges and universities they desire. The youth are relevant to our shared future and survival.

On a dysfunctional planet, billionaire status is irrelevant.

“Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won; you earn it and win it in every generation.”

— Coretta Scott King

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

― Thomas Paine, The American Crisis

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Lived Well...

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Positive (+): LiMO2 <--> Li1-xMO

Negative (-): xLi+ + xe- + C <--> LixC

M = transition metal

NANO 761: Introduction to Nano Energy, Lecture 4 - Lithium Ion Battery, Cathode to Anode, Spring 2018, JSNN

Topics: Battery, Climate Change, Green Tech, History, Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize

John B. Goodenough, a professor at The University of Texas at Austin who is known around the world for the development of the lithium-ion battery, died Sunday at the age of 100. Goodenough was a dedicated public servant, a sought-after mentor, and a brilliant yet humble inventor.

His discovery led to the wireless revolution and put electronic devices in the hands of people worldwide. In 2019, Goodenough made national and international headlines after being awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his battery work, an award many of his fans considered a long time coming, especially as he became the oldest person to receive a Nobel Prize.

“John’s legacy as a brilliant scientist is immeasurable — his discoveries improved the lives of billions of people around the world,” said UT Austin President Jay Hartzell. “He was a leader at the cutting edge of scientific research throughout the many decades of his career, and he never ceased searching for innovative energy-storage solutions. John’s work and commitment to our mission are the ultimate reflection of our aspiration as Longhorns — that what starts here changes the world — and he will be greatly missed among our UT community.”

UT Mourns Lithium-Ion Battery Inventor and Nobel Prize Recipient John Goodenough, UT News

Until the announcement of his selection as a Nobel laureate, Dr. Goodenough was relatively unknown beyond scientific and academic circles and the commercial titans who exploited his work. He achieved his laboratory breakthrough in 1980 at the University of Oxford, where he created a battery that has populated the planet with smartphones, laptop, and tablet computers, lifesaving medical devices like cardiac defibrillators, and clean, quiet plug-in vehicles, including many Teslas, that can be driven on long trips, lessen the impact of climate change and might someday replace gasoline-powered cars and trucks.

Like most modern technological advances, the powerful, lightweight, rechargeable lithium-ion battery is a product of incremental insights by scientists, lab technicians, and commercial interests over decades. But for those familiar with the battery’s story, Dr. Goodenough’s contribution is regarded as the crucial link in its development, a linchpin of chemistry, physics, and engineering on a molecular scale.

John B. Goodenough, 100, Dies; Nobel-Winning Creator of the Lithium-Ion Battery, Robert D. McFadden, New York Times

Before I met Professor Steve Wienberg, I had read my cousin Wilbur's copy of "The First Three Minutes." Little did I know that he would autograph it for me or that I would meet him, along with his former student (and my friend, Dr. Mark G. Raizen), at the National Society of Black Physicists in the fall of 2011 in Austin, Texas.

I never met John B. Goodenough, but I did study his theories in a class on battery nanomaterials at my graduate school. "Engineering on a molecular scale" is essentially what I studied in Nanoengineering, as batteries will only store charges longer and get better at the nanomaterials level. This is the way we will make the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner, more income-equitable options.

Ph.D. seemed so far away until the Hooding Ceremony. A few things about the tributes struck and moved me deeply:

He and his wife had no children, but Dr. Goodenough was enthusiastic about teaching, mentoring, and giving back. UT said he often donated any honorarium to the university.

He was from a home that, from the NY Times, was neglectful to him and indifferent.

He suffered from dyslexia and overcame it to achieve a Ph.D. in 1952 and a Nobel Prize at 97 in 2019. Everyone has their struggles, but for the love of science, he overcame them without excuses. A HUGE part of obtaining a degree in a STEM field is pure grit. Some of us quit too early from our dreams or debase our abilities before we even try.

The modern age we take for granted is possible because of humble spirits in laboratories, coding software, at dry erase boards full of equations who pushed a little further than any of their self-doubts. We are fortunate they pressed forward.

Nanos gigantum humeris insidentes - First recorded by John of Salisbury in the twelfth century and attributed to Bernard of Chartres. Also commonly known by the letters of Isaac Newton: "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

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John B. Goodenough in 2017. Two years later, when he was 97 and still active in research at the University of Texas at Austin, he became the oldest Nobel Prize winner in history. Credit...Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times

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Critical, or Magical...

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Topics: Civilization, Climate Change, Existentialism, Science Fiction, Star Trek

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.

Source: The Foundation for Critical Thinking

Magical thinking is the belief that one’s ideas, thoughts, actions, words, or use of symbols can influence the course of events in the material world. Magical thinking presumes a causal link between one’s inner, personal experience and the external physical world. Examples include beliefs that the movement of the Sun, Moon, and wind or the occurrence of rain can be influenced by one’s thoughts or by the manipulation of some type of symbolic representation of these physical phenomena.

Source: Britannica Online

Testifying before Congress, Carl Sagan called out the mainstream media of his day as to why there was (and still is) a daily horoscope, but not even a weekly science column. When the Nobel Prizes come out - I try to post them all: science categories, Economics, Literature, and Peace - you're likely going to see more here than you will on traditional media. It is still now rare, as it was during Carl's crusade for science literacy. I can remember when "A&E" and "TLC" were the acronyms for Arts & Entertainment and The Learning Channel, not the homes of Duck Dynasty, or Honey Boo-Boo. Sagan would be woefully disappointed.

Which is more likely a problem that can be tackled and solved: climate change or warp drive? Granted, I'm a Trekkie from TOS days, The Animated Series (TAS), TNG, DS9, VOY, Enterprise, Discovery, Lower Decks, and Strange New Worlds. As much as I enjoy the storytelling, similar to Ali Baba, or Aladdin, I'm not interested in the physics of flying carpets, because that is a plot device, like inertia dampeners or Heisenberg compensators. Yes, there's a lot of theoretical research on warp field mechanics since the 1994 paper by Miguel Alcubierre. At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, the efforts will likely yield something close to 0.1 - 0.25c, which is pretty fast, leagues beyond our current rocket speeds. The reason Trek did a LOT of time travel is, superluminal speeds would permit it, and eventually the Grandfather Paradox: A begets B, B begets C, but if C travels back in time, and kills A, did C ever make the trip if he never existed (see: Causality)?

We will probably "boldly go" to the Asteroid Belt, Mars, and the moons of Jupiter or Saturn. With eight billion souls and climbing, we have a lot of physics problems to solve on Gaia.

However, exploration of our solar system cannot happen if, beyond sense, we allow the planet's temperatures to continue to climb.

A.1 Human activities, principally through emissions of greenhouse gases, have unequivocally caused global warming, with the global surface temperature reaching 1.1°C above 1850-1900 in 2011-2020. Global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase, with unequal historical and ongoing contributions arising from unsustainable energy use, land use and land-use change, lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production across regions, between and within countries, and among individuals (high confidence). {2.1, Figure 2.1, Figure 2.2}

A.1.1 Global surface temperature was 1.09°C [0.95 to 1.20] °C5 higher in 2011-2020 than 1850-19006, with larger increases over land (1.59 [1.34 to 1.83] °C) than over the ocean (0.88 [0.68 to 1.01] °C). Global surface temperature in the first two decades of the 21st century (2001-2020) was 0.99 [0.84 to 1.10] °C higher than 1850-1900. Global surface temperature has increased faster since 1970 than in any other 50-year period over at least the last 2000 years (high confidence). {2.1.1, Figure 2.1}

A.1.2 The likely range of total human-caused global surface temperature increase from 1850-1900 to 2010-20197 is 0.8°C to 1.3°C, with a best estimate of 1.07°C. Over this period, it is likely that well-mixed greenhouse gases (GHGs) contributed a warming of 1.0°C to 2.0°C8, and other human drivers (principally aerosols) contributed a cooling of 0.0°C to 0.8°C, natural drivers changed global surface temperature by –0.1°C to +0.1°C, and internal variability changed it by –0.2°C to +0.2°C. {2.1.1, Figure 2.1}

There's more: AR6 Synthesis Report - Climate Change 2023 | Summary for Policymakers

Our science focus should be here on Terra Firma and the pursuit of continuing human civilization. Without it, civilization, sustainability, and space travel is impossible.

Critical thinking will help us all survive. We will have to cooperate, make lasting changes, reduce income inequality; eliminate global poverty, remediate houseless citizens, and proceed forward, changing the very structure of our civilization, what we focus on as important and esteem as admirable. Billionaires are not superheroes, and beyond fantasy roles, have no function or analog in nature.

Magical thinking, believing that the climate crisis does not exist, hoarding resources while refusing to pay taxes in one's home country and hiding it in shelters overseas from yours, whistling past the climate graveyard, won't.

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An X-ray flash illuminates a molecule. Credit: Raphael Jay

Topics: Chemistry, Climate Change, Green Tech, High Energy Physics, Research, X-rays

The use of short flashes of X-ray light brings scientists one big step closer to developing better catalysts to transform the greenhouse gas methane into a less harmful chemical. The result, published in the journal Science, reveals for the first time how carbon-hydrogen bonds of alkanes break and how the catalyst works in this reaction.

Methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, is being released into the atmosphere at an increasing rate by livestock farming and the unfreezing of permafrost. Transforming methane and longer-chain alkanes into less harmful and, in fact, useful chemicals would remove the associated threats and, in turn, make a huge feedstock for the chemical industry available. However, transforming methane necessitates, as a first step, the breaking of a C-H bond, one of the strongest chemical linkages in nature.

Forty years ago, molecular metal catalysts that can easily split C-H bonds were discovered. The only thing found to be necessary was a short flash of visible light to "switch on" the catalyst, and, as by magic, the strong C-H bonds of alkanes passing nearby are easily broken almost without using any energy. Despite the importance of this so-called C-H activation reaction, it remained unknown over the decades how that catalyst performs this function.

The research was led by scientists from Uppsala University in collaboration with the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, Stockholm University, Hamburg University, and the European XFEL in Germany. For the first time, the scientists were able to directly watch the catalyst at work and reveal how it breaks those C-H bonds.

In two experiments conducted at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, the researchers were able to follow the delicate exchange of electrons between a rhodium catalyst and an octane C-H group as it gets broken. Using two of the most powerful sources of X-ray flashes in the world, the X-ray laser SwissFEL and the X-ray synchrotron Swiss Light Source, the reaction could be followed all the way from the beginning to the end. The measurements revealed the initial light-induced activation of the catalyst within 400 femtoseconds (0.0000000000004 seconds) to the final C-H bond breaking after 14 nanoseconds (0.000000014 seconds).

X-rays visualize how one of nature's strongest bonds breaks, Uppsala University, Phys.org.

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A Charge for all Seasons...

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The new composition for fluorine-containing electrolytes promises to maintain high battery charging performance for future electric vehicles even at sub-zero temperatures. (Image by Shutterstock.)

Topics: Battery, Chemistry, Climate Change, Global Warming, Lithium, Materials Science

Scientists developed a new and safer electrolyte for lithium-ion batteries that work as well in sub-zero conditions as it does at room temperature.

Many owners of electric vehicles worry about how effective their batteries will be in very cold weather. Now new battery chemistry may have solved that problem.

In current lithium-ion batteries, the main problem lies in the liquid electrolyte. This key battery component transfers charge-carrying particles called ions between the battery’s two electrodes, causing the battery to charge and discharge. But the liquid begins to freeze at sub-zero temperatures. This condition severely limits the effectiveness of charging electric vehicles in cold regions and seasons.

To address that problem, a team of scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories developed a fluorine-containing electrolyte that performs well even in sub-zero temperatures.

“Our research thus demonstrated how to tailor the atomic structure of electrolyte solvents to design new electrolytes for sub-zero temperatures.” — John Zhang, Argonne group leader.

“Our team not only found an antifreeze electrolyte whose charging performance does not decline at minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit, but we also discovered, at the atomic level, what makes it so effective,” said Zhengcheng ​“John” Zhang, a senior chemist and group leader in Argonne’s Chemical Sciences and Engineering division.

This low-temperature electrolyte shows promise of working for batteries in electric vehicles, as well as in energy storage for electric grids and consumer electronics like computers and phones.

An electric vehicle battery for all seasons, Joseph E. Harmon, Argonne National Labs

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The Illusion of Perfection...

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Source - Jati: The Caste System in India, Asia Society

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, COVID-19, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

“In America, this battle to wipe out whole ethnic groups was fought not by armies with guns nor by hate sects at the margins. Rather, this pernicious white-gloved war was prosecuted by esteemed professors, elite universities, wealthy industrialists, and government officials colluding in a racist, pseudoscientific movement called eugenics. The purpose: create a superior Nordic race.

“To perpetuate the campaign, widespread academic fraud combined with almost unlimited corporate philanthropy to establish the biological rationales for persecution. Employing a hazy amalgam of guesswork, gossip, falsified information, and polysyllabic academic arrogance, the eugenics movement slowly constructed a national bureaucratic and judicial infrastructure to cleanse America of “the unfit.” Specious intelligence tests, colloquially known as IQ tests, were invented to justify the incarceration of a group labeled “the feebleminded.” Often the so-called feebleminded were just shy, too good-natured to be taken seriously, or [simply] spoke the wrong language or were the wrong color. Mandatory sterilization laws were enacted in some twenty-seven states to prevent targeted individuals from reproducing more of their kind. Marriage prohibition laws proliferated throughout the country to stop race mixing. Collusive litigation was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, which sanctified eugenics and its tactics.”

War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race,” Edwin Black, page xv, Introduction (paperback edition)

I purposely did not watch the coronation of now King Charles and his former mistress Camilla. Many tuned in for the “Pomp and Circumstance” of the ceremony. As a descendant of kidnapped Africans, thus far, uncompensated in the form of reparations, it was antithetical for me to celebrate the origins of the global slave trade that displaced so many for the enrichment of so few.

It was also interesting to see how they managed the public relations fiasco of Harry and Meghan, the former Duke and Duchess of Winsor. Giving their estate to Jeffrey Epstein, associated with Prince Andrew, both virtue-signaled to the intolerant in the United Kingdom and pedophiles that “happy ever after” was always a facade of mind and propaganda.

The illusion of perfection is pursued first by setting up a hierarchy, a societal pyramid that, at its apogee, are the humans who, by political fiat and outright brutality, have set themselves apart from the rabble as the elite, the wealthy, the one-percent: the closest things to gods in the flesh the rabble can think of.

In India, the illusion takes the form of the Caste System:

At the apogee are the Brahmin, the Priest, the closest to the gods; therefore, the closest things to gods the people below the apogee have ever seen.

Below that is the warrior caste, Kyshatriyia. In a human body analogy, the Brahmin is its head, and Kyshatriyia is its arms.

Vaisya is the merchants and landowners – the torso.

Commoners, peasants, and servants are called Sudra – the feet.

Beneath the feet are the outcasts, the untouchables, the unredeemable called Dalets. Their lot is the clean the streets and latrines.

Within the caste system or Jati, individuals cannot raise themselves in the societal pecking order. Still, the entire GROUP can by emulating another group above it (no explanation given at the link as to who, or what judges an entire group rising from mediocrity in the pecking order).

Isabelle Wilkenson based her book, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” first on the Indian System, then compared it to the German System during WWII, and finally to the American System that seems self-reinforcing by inertia, almost perpetual.

The illusion of perfection debases the lives of the Indigenous: the Aborigines in Australia and the First Nation Peoples in North, Central, and South America. Continents populated with peoples who have a culture, languages spoken and written, historical records, and civilizations are raized out of existence because if they don’t worship the same as Europeans if they don’t speak like Europeans, if they don’t particularly look like Europeans, they are irrelevant, they are unpersons, Aborigines, African Americans, Dalets. In this case, “black lives don’t matter” because they never did.

As I type this, the illusion of perfection has visited an outlet mall outside of Dallas, Texas, in Allen, where I have close relatives. We now have more gun massacres than we have days in the year, and the only way it will improve is if it suddenly stops tomorrow. Newsflash: It won’t. The illusion of perfection can only be reinforced by violence. Showing facts, history, and scientific data invites backlash and a brutally efficient gaslighting operation through Secretary Clinton’s “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

The illusion of perfection punches down at the weak (fill in the blank for any outgroup you might know or belong to) because it always has. It’s “easy” to punch down on immigrants because the “gang of eight” proposed the only solution before Marco Rubio ran for president. It’s “easy” to lambast the LGBT community because the “solution” they won’t vocalize would sound a lot like German concentration camps or the hanging wall in “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. If the "horse is out of the barn," then the original door was opened by the Brown vs. Board of Education 9-0 decision by the Supreme Court (1954), the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Richard and Mildred Loving vs. Virginia, 1967, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Roe vs. Wade, 1973 (repealed in 2023), Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015: if you repeal one part of the 20th and the early part of the 21st Century, you must using the darkest, cynical logic, repeal it all.

In the illusion of perfection, Dr. Edwin Black focuses on eugenics, but isn’t eugenics a form of secular religiosity? Both have an elite, the chosen, the pure: the elect who deserve, and the "others" who are damned. As he pointed out, whole universities and academic tomes devoted themselves to reinforcing what amounted to a lie. Still, like any broadcast on Fox Propaganda, it was a lie that a large swath of people wanted to believe.

The illusion of perfection has the same septuagenarian running against the same (now) octogenarian who repaired the damage post-COVID the septuagenarian caused. The octogenarian is trailing the septuagenarian because the octogenarian – four years senior to the septuagenarian, isn’t “entertaining” (or racist). I guess they never saw the White House Correspondence Dinner the septuagenarian avoided due to a lack of a sense of deprecating humor and an easily bruised ego (the octogenarian killed it, by the way). The octogenarian was VP to the first and only African American president, and his VP is the descendant of an African American father and an Indian mother. I'm glad he's not racist.

In a Washington Post article about the latest sacrifice to American Moloch, the congressional representative for the mall ended with this vapid statement because the gun lobby and NRA made him memorize the script like an automaton:

“Rep. Keith Self (R), who represents the Allen area in Congress, said on CNN that people who were calling for gun control, rather than just thoughts and prayers, ‘don’t believe in an almighty God … who is absolutely in control of our lives.’

“’[People] want to make this political, but prayers are important,’ he said.”

Allen, Texas

© May 7, 2023, the Griot Poet

“Thoughts and prayers” means

I refuse to legislate

While the gun lobby pays!

I have a sneaking suspicion that Representative Keith Self(ish) doesn’t believe in any other almighty God in his particular religion other than Mammon.

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Green Transition...

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Photo: Getty Images

Topics: Battery, Chemistry, Climate Change, Economics, Global Warming

Welcome back to The Green Era, a weekly newsletter bringing you the news and trends in the world of sustainability. Click subscribe above to be notified of future editions.

The shift to renewable energy has caused consternation over the fate of workers in the fossil fuel industry. Those same concerns are hitting the automotive sector as U.S. demand for electric vehicles grows.

EVs require not just new assembly lines and parts but also factories to build the batteries that power them. The president of one of the biggest unions called the transition the largest in the industry’s history.

The automotive sector and its workers are not new to factory closures. The Great Recession brought the big three automakers to their knees, forcing the federal government to bail them out, leaving cities like Detroit and large swaths of the midwest with car workers out of a job.

This time could be different. Many factories are being converted and are investing in retraining their workers. The batteries and charging infrastructure required present another opportunity. Ford, General Motors, and Volkswagen are all building new battery manufacturing plants or expanding existing ones in Tennessee.

The EV transition is changing workers’ skills and state economies, Jordyn Dahl, LinkedIn

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