Friday, November 28, 2014

Universe teeming with life? Not so fast, say physicists

By Donald Sensing

New study: gamma ray bursts make life impossible in 90% of galaxies

This is a peer-reviewed article from Science, one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed journals. It speaks to the fine-tuning of the galaxy for life.
The article says:
Of the estimated 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, only one in 10 can support complex life like that on Earth, a pair of astrophysicists argues. Everywhere else, stellar explosions known as gamma ray bursts would regularly wipe out any life forms more elaborate than microbes. The detonations also kept the universe lifeless for billions of years after the big bang, the researchers say.
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Thursday, November 27, 2014

White racist Klan oppressors descend upon Ferguson

By Donald Sensing

As is Ferguson, Missouri's problems weren't bad enough, massive crowds of white racists have descended upon the town with open wallets spending like crazy to help the stricken business there recover.

The St. Luis [sic] Tea Party is organizing a “BUYcott” of businesses along the now-infamous Florissant Avenue where some of the worst looting took place. 
It’s an idea that helps the people directly affected by the riots that followed the police shooting death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, but it could also help change the media-generated image of the tea party nationally. 
The national media, naturally, yawned, but the impact is real. And it’s still going on, with another event planned for this weekend. ...
But this is the St. Louis Tea Party, a branch of a national movement of everyday Americans that the mainstream media generally treats like the Second Coming of the Klan.  It’s a mostly white group working to help the mostly black businesses that were almost destroyed by mostly black rioters – and since that doesn’t fit any mainstream media narrative, most of America will never hear about it. 
The “BUYcott” is continuing this weekend, according to the St. Louis Tea Party’s Facebook page. 
Check out a KCTV report here. 
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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Not Even CNN Could Hide the Truth About Ferguson, Mo.

By Donald Sensing

In the clip below, Sara Sidner of CNN tried to the very last sentence to uphold the righteousness of the arsonists, but finally had to give up. And boy, when she did, that interview ended PDQ.

Why does Ms. Sidner seem so startled when Kelly, the interviewed lady, tells her that the burned businesses won't rebuild and that the burned and looted sections of the town will "be like a ghost town pretty soon"?

More here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Why We Lost in Iraq and Afghanistan

By Donald Sensing

Asia Times Online :: Dumbing it away

The author's, David Goldman, credentials are impeccable.

"I am a United States Army general, and I lost the Global War on Terrorism," Lieutenant-General Daniel Bolger begins his history of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. "It's like Alcoholics Anonymous; step one is admitting you have a problem. Well, I have a problem. So do my peers. And thanks to our problem, now all of America has a problem, to wit: two lost campaigns and a war gone awry."

By this, Bolger means that United States generals, notably David Petraeus, sold short-term fixes to baffled political leaders and hatched even worse problems for the future. 
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Justice for Mike Brown finally achieved

By Donald Sensing

I am so happy to see that at last justice for slain black teen Michael Brown has been achieved:

That's what Natalie DuBose gets for being a racist oppressor!

snark off: This photo illustrates the real, ongoing tragedy of Ferguson.

This seems relevant, too.

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Caption contest: don't let the doorknob hit you in the . . .

By Donald Sensing

Comments on, leave a caption. All comments are moderated; please read commenting rules.

Update: Not a caption, but a couple of thoughts. First, Hagel was nominated for the SecDef job precisely because he didn't know anything about it (which he frankly admitted at his conformation hearings). He was not sent to the Pentagon to make policy, but to carry out the White House's existing two-fold defense policy:

  • end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by declaring victory and going home, and
  • massive defund and downsize the Department of Defense and America's armed forces.
And truth be told, Hagel took office more than willing to oblige. But as commentary from around the entire political spectrum has shown the past couple of days, Hagel never thought of himself as a puppet whose strings were held by the president's very tight inner circle.

In fact, Hagel learned the policy and warfighting aspects of the job pretty well as time went on - tutored extensively - and oh so carefully! - by the CJCS and others. But learn he did, so much so that he recently, explicitly contradicted the president on the threats posed by ISIS. Obama can take a subordinate being incompetent, that's quite okay. What he cannot take is a subordinate's competence when said competence exposes the president's own ineptitude. Thus, since his resignation even the New York Times accurately observed,
He raised the ire of the White House in August as the administration was ramping up its strategy to fight the Islamic State, directly contradicting the president, who months before had likened the Sunni militant group to a junior varsity basketball squad. Mr. Hagel, facing reporters in his now-familiar role next to General Dempsey, called the Islamic State an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” adding, “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen.” White House officials later said they viewed those comments as unhelpful ... .
As Erick Erickson (same link) goes on to say,
... Chuck Hagel was not fired for incompetence. He was fired for telling the truth on ISIS — calling it an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” thereby forcing Barack Obama to deal with a threat he very much would like to ignore.
That being so, the look on Obama's face in the photo above speaks volumes.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Executive Order

By Donald Sensing

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Whenever You Hear Someone Complain the Rich Don’t Pay Their ‘Fair Share,’ Show Them This Handy Chart

By Donald Sensing

Whenever You Hear Someone Complain the Rich Don’t Pay Their ‘Fair Share,’ Show Them This Handy Chart:

Now, thanks to the American Enterprise Institute and the Congressional Budget Office’s latest report on income and taxes, we know whom is paying what. And the picture painted by reality is very different than what one would expect.
You can decide for yourself if they are already paying “their fair share.”
  1. The top 1% of households earned 15% of income but paid 35% of federal income taxes.
  2. The top 20% of households earned 52% of income but paid 69% in federal income taxes.
  3. The bottom 20% of households income tax rates dropped from 9% to 1.9% since 1984.
  4. 40% of households get more than half their income from federal transfer programs.
  5. When government transfers are included, 60% of Americans had net negative tax rates — meaning they received more than they paid in.
The most interesting statistic is best shown by this graph:
who pays what
It’s basically saying this: the highest quintile (top 20% of households) paid an average $46,500, far and away the greatest in percentage and dollars.

In other words, when federal income taxes are reduced by the amounts those households received from the federal government, only the top 20% contributed any meaningful amount. Bottom line: the top fifth of households basically paid for everyone else, in addition to everything else.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Noise at 35,000 feet

By Donald Sensing

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Why physicists' heads explode

By Donald Sensing

One problem is that conventional physics doesn't really account for why the universe is so large, Arkani-Hamed said.

Albert Einstein's theory of relativity showed that a huge amount of energy exists in the vacuum of space, and it should curve space and time. In fact, there should be so much curvature that the universe is a tiny, crumpled ball.

"That should make the universe horrendously different than what it is," Arkani-Hamed said.

But quantum mechanics also poses a problem. The theory is good at describing the very small realm of particle physics, but it breaks down when physicists try to apply it to the universe as a whole.

"Everything that quantum mechanics is, is violated by our universe because we're accelerating (referring to the idea that the universe is expanding) – we don't know what the rules are," Arkani-Hamed said. "When you try to apply quantum mechanics to the entire universe, quantum mechanics cries 'uncle.'"
But fear not! The reason that our universe acts in ways that physicists don't understand is that they are simply living in the wrong universe! There are trillions and trillions of other universes, they claim, and perhaps if Arkani-Hamed lived in one of them it would make perfect sense to him. 

But he doesn't, nor do any others, so they mentally invent them. It's called String Theory, the idea that there are indeed trillions and trillions of other universes, and lucky us! we inhabit this one. As I have written before, advanced cosmologists have started writing science fiction, not science, although they use equations for their fiction rather than prose.
All their equations may work out, but that don't mean they actually know more than before or that reality has been discerned to a greater degree. Hawking admitted that postulating a universe of three or four dimension did not resolve mathematically. In fact, using up to 10 dimensions didn't work. So they tried 11 and presto! X = 0. Or something. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, "These are our equations. If they don’t work, we have others."
But back to the multiverses. The same Prof. Arkani-Hamed (who teaches at Harvard) and some others insist that there is a real problem with living in a universe that appears so finely tuned to support our lives when such fine tuning has no scientific explanation. So they say that there are, minimally, 10^500 other universes because that is the minimum number to make our universe's fine tuning feasible. Author Donald Johnson explains,
Koonin explains, "In an infinite multi-verse ... emergence of highly complex systems by chance is not just possible but inevitable. That this extremely rare event occurred on earth and gave rise to life as we know it is explained by anthropic selection alone." The anthropic illusion basically says we just lucked-out in that our Universe appears to be designed "toward man" (anthropic). The fallacy is that we're considering the only universe that we know exists (ours), and the fine-tuning that is evident in it. Speculation of innumerable other universes does not explain our Universe's fine-tuning.    
Others note that "String Theory" is not a scientific theory since it cannot be observed, tested, or falsified. "Alternative universes, things we can't see because they are beyond our horizons, are in principle unfalsifiable and therefore metaphysical." "The trouble is, proponents have not produced an iota of empirical evidence for strings. That's why University of Toronto physicist Amanda Peet--a proponent--recently called string theory a faith-based initiative'. "No part of it has been proven and no one knows how tо prove it'.    
"Because our Universe is, almost by definition, everything we can observe, there are no apparent measurements that would confirm whether we exist within a cosmic landscape multiple universes, or if ours is the only one. And because we can't falsify the idea, ... it isn't science '. "If ... the landscape turns out to be inconsistent ... as things stand we will be in a very awkward position. Without an explanations of nature's fine-tunings we will be hard pressed to answer the ID critics'. It is clear that string theory is not science, but a philosophical belief. (Italics original)
So the physicists' dilemma is either to accept that, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," or find some way, however screwy and fictional, to deny it. 


(Boy, I am getting a lot of use of this pic!)

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