Friday, February 27, 2015

Never Say "Dwarf"!

In response to the post, I posted:

While determined to declare both Ceres and Pluto to be planets, the author admits, --And the Kuiper Belt may contain hundreds of other planetary worlds like Pluto.--  which would mean teaching our children that our solar system has not eight, but 352 planets?  789? Who knows how many? The term dwarf planet keeps the precious word 'planet' in play while differentiating the major eight from everything else.  I predict the term will remain in place.

Wrestlemania! Hawking vs Pinker! The Death Match!

In response to a friend's Facebook post:

Hawking's point is well taken.  Some believe that the answer to the Fermi Paradox (if there are so many alien civilizations out there, where are they?  There should be lots of clear  evidence of their existence) may be, they acquired advanced technology and used it to exterminate themselves.

Then again:

Channeling Fascisism

A Facebook post:   Watched episode one of KanColle.  Not very impressive, but when the intro referred to girls channelling the spirits of famous warships, I thought, "They wouldn't!  Would they?"
They did.

The two girls channeling aircraft carriers were Akagi and Kaga (no mention of Soryu or Hiryu).  Both carriers were instrumental in the attack on Pearl Harbor and were sunk at Midway (ditto for Soryu and Hiryu).  

So what's the problem?  I can't imagine a German cartoon channeling the spirits of Nazi warships, like the Bismark or Graf Spee.  While Germany has come to terms with the horrors of their fascist past, Japan is still bitterly divided by her own history

It is important to note that even Americans who fought against them regarded both the Japanese and German navies as honorable enemies, unlike the armies in question.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Edjahmuhkation of Word Recognition Programs

Voice recognition systems. What a wonderful idea. I depend on them heavily to do my blogging.  But quite often some strange things happen. For example, I was dictating an otherwise quite readable blog post, but when I said "education" I got, among others, the following two responses: 'you Cajundid' and 'you Keeshan'. Other wierd word sets followed.  I finally got so angry I shouted "edjahmuhkation!"  The program printed out, "education".  I give up. I hope voice recognition continues to improve, and that it does so very soon. In the meantime, it remains a useful if unpredictable tool.

How Much Money??

Republicans are fond of hysterically screaming that the United States is in desperate trouble due to a seemingly eternal list of threats. One of the dangers which most terrifies them is the idea of the rich paying higher taxes than they currently do. But what impact would it actually have if we went back to the distribution of wealth which was normal in America's past? How much would it help the middle class? How much would it really hurt the ultrarich? Here are some answers:

Larry Summers was being interviewed by Charlie Rose. He is former secretary of the treasury and a key economic advisor to Pres. Obama, and former president of Harvard University.

"Think about this: if the income distribution of rhe United States were the same as it was in 1979,there would be $1 trillion more in the hands of the lower 80%…1 trillion, or $11,000 per family inthe hands of the bottom 80% of the population and there would  be $1 trillion less in the hands of the top 1%.  …that would be $750,000 less on average, per family for them.

So there has been a big  redistribution that has worked to the detriment of the middle class."

He then went on to point out that as this assault on the middle class is occurring, the government is providing less and less support for the middle class in many areas ranging from infrastructure to education costs.  "So there have been a variety of changes that  have exacerbated the inequality."

Rather than believing this is inevitable, he states, "… There are countries, Canada and Australia are two good examples, that, by focusing on these basic investments, by empowering workers, by strengthening education…through healthy regulatory mechanisms...have succeeded in having rising standards of living  for  the middle class."

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fact Checkers' Fantasies (Sorry, Susan!)

 I'm currently reading 'The Globe--The Science of Discworld Book 2' by Terry Pratchett with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen. The series is quite enjoyable, interleaving tales from disc world with science from our world, but Stewart and Colin are not as careful with the facts as they should be. Several statements they have made are simply inaccurate. For example, they state that "To the ancient Egyptians, cats were tiny gods on earth, personified in the cat goddess Bastet."

Wrong! Sorry Susan and fellow cat lovers. This tale is much beloved by those who love their cats, but is historically and factually incorrect.  There were many animal headed gods and goddesses in Egypt. That did not mean that the animals were regarded as actual living gods.  Much has been made of the many mummified cats often found in Egyptian tombs. After all, modern cat worshipers argue, would the expensive process of mummification be applied if cats weren't gods?  But cats are not the only animals so mummified in large numbers. No one suggests that the Egyptians  worshipped ibises, spite of the many ibis mummies found. This is probably because very few people keep ibises as pets.

Furthermore, studies of those mummies have shown that most of the cats were killed by having their necks broken.  Odd way to treat your gods, isn't it? The answer is that it's ridiculous way to treat your gods. Even we Christians didn't sacrifice Jesus, the Romans did that for us.

Clearly, the cats and the other animals were killed as offerings to the real gods. Not gods, just symbols of the gods suitable for killing and mummification to appease the actual celestial gods.

It's About Time!

Finally! Someone agrees with me or at least sees the possibility that I might be correct in that President  Obama may be the Left's Ronald Reagan.  John Ward from Yahoo! News wrote an article entitled, How Barack Obama wants to be the Ronald Reagan of the left – Obama hoping to use economic recovery to reshape the political debate for decades. In other words Obama aims to be a watershed president who drew the line and put an end to the dominance of Ronald Reagan's espoused concepts of economics.

Of course, this  article says this is what Obama wants to accomplish where as I have stated that this is what will be remembered as his primary accomplishment.

Good Christians Always Disobey Jesus

In response to a very popular Facebook post in which a young man at a graduation ceremony defied authority (immoral according to the Gospels) gave the Lord's prayer as part of his presentation. Responses from Christians were ecstatic. Unfortunately, it is clear that these Christians did not bother to read the words preceding the presentation of the Lord's prayer. I posted as follows:

Yes, well done!  Like all good Christians, you disobeyed the direct orders of Jesus.  Like all good Christians you acted like a deceitful hypocrite.  You offended the Father and the only reward you will get is the applause of your fellow hypocrites and their Facebook likes.

My fellow Christian friends don't know this? Read Matthew 6:5
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Yes, nothing proves you are a good Christian like disobeying Jesus.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Guns And Garden Hoses

I have been very troubled over the issue of providing arms to the Ukraine government. On the one hand, I feel the necessity to stand up to this kind of aggression both because the aggression is happening against a country whose  sovereignty we promised to protect and support and because if Russia is allowed to commit such lawless actions, I have no doubt it will do so in the future and this disease will spread at least to China and possibly elsewhere in the world.

But I did fear the escalation inherent in such an action. Having listened to John Herbst, former ambassador to Ukraine, make the case for such support on C-SPAN, I have concluded that it is an appropriate and effective action. I now believe we should make the commitment and provide the weaponry.

The garden hose reference is to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's declaration during World War II (before the United States had entered it) that if a neighbor's  house is on fire you lend him your hose so be can put it out. This was in support of the lend lease program.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Rob FromThe Poor, Give To The Rich

Responses to a Bernie Sanders Facebook post which read:

This is what class warfare looks like:

The business Roundtable – representing Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase and others – has called on Congress to raise the eligibility age of Social Security and Medicare to 70, cut Social Security and veterans COLAs, raise taxes on working families and cut taxes for the largest corporations in America.

The responses:

Susan: welcome to the new America. Thank goodness I am so old they can't hurt me too much. I am ashamed that we are leaving our children and grandchildren a world that is worse than the one we were given. And you know as well as I do that or problems have not been caused by immigrants, illegal or otherwise, nor is Obamacare the cause of our decline

Lisa:  Glad I'm old too--we're f___d if Bernie Sanders doesn't take the helm.

Susan:  He would have my vote but only if he runs as a democrat.  If he runs as an independent, green or other party candidate, I'm afraid he will split the vote like Nader did in 2000. Look what happened then. All hell broke loose and we will not recover in my lifetime.

Me:  We'll recover when a Dem picks up Obama's defiance of Reaganism and we get a new FDR.  When Clinton declared the era of big government was over, he damned even Dems  to obey Republican ideology.  Triangulation is better known as capitulation.  Now, for the first time since then, Dems are saying Republicans are fundamentally wrong, so let's stop letting them tell us the rules of engagement.

Susan:  Think it will happen in our lifetime? I am afraid repubs would rather see our country go down in flames than work to fix it for the common good.

Me:  I would have to agree that the Republican Party has become as corrupt as a party can be. It is  endlessly pandering to it's fading base of aging, frightened white people, mostly male and to its robber baron bosses.  I would say within 10 to 15 years we will see a radical change as more and more young people become eligible to vote and and carry the resentment of Republicans trying to disenfranchise them. The Republican Party in America may well face the same fate that happened the Republican Party in California. The great victory of Prop 187 changed California from a conservative red state to a blue state in which republicans stand little chance of accomplishing anything.  More likely, Republicans will return to being a party which includes moderates and even some liberals.  The fanaticism has run so deep that this may not be possible.

But remember, the Republican Party was once the most liberal party in the Western world. The Democratic Party was once the party of conservative racial bigots. Things do change, and they often change almost overnight due to one great leader.  The Republicans became the home of  bigots and the Democrats lost that status because LBJ pushed through civil rights legislation.  It was almost literally overnight and shocked the world in its suddenness.

I deeply respect Obama's accomplishment in drawing the line in the sand and declaring that Reaganism would no longer be allowed to dominate unopposed, but he failed to go so far as to be an FDR or an LBJ. That is, to be a great president. Obama is only a much better than average president.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Big Bang Or Big Bust?

Very interesting new proposal. As many of you know, I really hate the Big Bang  theory, much preferring ekpirosis. We are supposed to believe that just because the universe run backwards shrinks, it therefore must continue to shrink forever until it becomes a dimensionless point? What's a dimensionless point? I have hated the concept since I first had to deal with it in a junior high geometry class.  Imagine a species similar to Ben Franklin's ephemera. Noting that humans get bigger over time, they would assume that our children must begin as dimensionless points. I don't about your kids, but mine did not begin as dimensionless points.

Also, the theory has the universe beginning with a Bose Einstein condensate. I like Bose Einstein condensates. (It's even got gravitons!)

-- Das and Ali propose that the universe is filled with a quantum fluid made up of gravitons, particles that probably have no mass themselves but transmit gravity the way photons carry electromagnetism. The follow-up paper suggests that in the early universe these gravitons would have formed a Bose-Einstein condensate, a collection of particles that display quantum phenomena at the macroscopic scale. Moreover, the paper argues that this condensate could cause the universe's expansion to accelerate, and so explain dark energy, and might one day be the only surviving component of the universe. --

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Hang 'Em How?

Am I the only one who ever noticed that when the gun nuts start talking (the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun) it's clear that they are not describing the real world in which we live but the last spaghetti Western they watched?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I Dub Thee Human

In response to the following article I posted:

The author agrees with many of the points I have previously made, however I think he misses a critical point. He suggests we must redefine everything as "human beings" if they are to be regarded as possessing natural rights. Which is simply silly. I do not imagine a dog must be defined as a human being to allow for the possibility that the dog may have some rights.
Is it not much more reasonable to accept the point that because animals posess all the abilities and emotions which we possess, although at a much lower evolutionary level, therefore, they have rights although that those rights are less than ours.
I do not perceive that it is necessary to turn a dog into a human being in order to acknowledge that it has rights. Many have already pointed out that we need only concern ourselves with the rights of sentient beings. That is to say, beings which feel, that have a sense of self, and which can suffer or feel pleasure. There is no need to create a forced choice false dichotomy of nothing has rights except human beings, therefore we must redefine animals as human beings if we are to contend that they have rights.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Property Rights

Yesterday  Sen. Rand Paul made the following comment in regard to vaccinations: "The state doesn't own your children. Parents own the children."

No one else seems to have noticed that he made a much more shocking statement than the suggestion that parents should be able to refuse to vaccinate their children, thus  putting all unvaccinated children at risk.

Surely, I am not the only person who noticed that he declared that parents own their children. Let me be clear. No human being owns any other human being. Your children are placed in your hands as a sacred trust. They are not your property.

I have no doubt that libertarian Rand Paul would disagree with his own point if pressed, but it  shocks me that he could be so careless as to suggest that children are their parents' property.  Am I alone in believing that this is the equivalent of stating that wives are their  husbands' property?  

The idea that children are objects to be owned snd exploited is ancient.  The Roman patriarch had control of his offspring for life.  Lincoln's father rented him out like a slave to make money.  We should be well past such abusive ideas.