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Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
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  1. China in the news
    This video shows China moving forward on many Chinese infrastructure projects while we watch vested interests in the North American fossil-fuel industry doing their best to maintain the status quo.

    comments: this video was created by Bloomberg and is titled Why China’s Lead on EVs Has Been a Long Time Coming. even if you disagree with the title, this video shows that a significant change is already taking place in the world's most populated country. This is no longer a country of bicycle riders. I am sometimes shocked when I see modern video from places like Japan, South Korea or China where their societies seem to be moving in the direction of The Jetsons while everything in the North America seems to be decaying.
     
  2. Tom Nichols Are People the Problem with Democracy?

    Concerns about the state of democracy have been widespread, as have the reasons. But they've all mostly ignored one possibility: It's us. We're the problem says Tom Nichols in his book "Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault from Within on Modern Democracy,"

    comment: watch this video for 5-minutes. Only the dolts among us will be able to turn away after that point.

    update: another recent interview with Tom Nichols can be found here:
    https://www.skeptic.com/michael-shermer-show/our-own-worst-enemy-assault-from-within-on-modern-democracy-tom-nichols/
     
  3. Canada, China, et al
    • In 2015, the Obama administration engineered a deal with P5+1 members of the UN security council which became known as the JCPOA. This was meant to put an end to to crippling American sanctions against Iran in return for Iran not developing nuclear technology.
    • Then Donald Trump came to power in 2017 (an interview with Trump's son, Don Jr., tells us that Trump had not expected to win the election). Once in office, this child-in-a-man's-body started cancelling successes made by his arch rival, Barack Obama. In 2018 the Trump administration unilaterally exited the USA from the JCPOA then imposed USA sanctions on Iran as well as any company or country continuing to do business with Iran. This about-face both surprised and confused the countries that had just been convinced by the USA to join this deal in the first place.
      comment: while the USA can order American companies to NOT DO BUSINESS with Iran, they have no authority on the world stage. Also, did I mention that China is one of the permanent members of the UN security council?
    • So what was Huawei's crime? They continued to do business with Iran after the USA ordered otherwise. NO LAWS WERE BROKEN
    • It is in this turmoil that some Canadian politicians came to believe that points could be earned with the Trump administration if Canada inserted itself into this mess (recall that Canada was in the middle of negotiations for the USMAC). So someone ordered the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou after she departed her Vancouver home. Trump loved and is on record saying that "Meng was his bargaining chip in negotiating a new deal with China". It was during this international game of tiddlywinks that China arrested the Two Micheals as pawns. If Canada had not arrested Meng (as many other European countries had refused to do) the two Micheals would not have been arrested.
    • Most kids in public school learn to never get between two bullies. Canada (pop: 35-million) foolishly got between China (pop: 1.4-billion) and the USA (pop: 330-million) then ended up with a bloody nose. Should Canadians have expected anything less?
      comment: it was not possible to unravel this mess until Trump had left office. It appears that having a childish American president is as dangerous to the world as having a childish Caesar was in old Rome.
    • I am hearing some foolish online chatter about getting revenge including that sanctioning of Huawei (a private Chinese company that arrested no one). Meanwhile the top 100 items sold everyday at Walmart in both Canada and the USA are all manufactured in China (God made the world; everything else is made in China). Are those complainers going to stop shopping at Walmart? A similar situation exists everywhere else with almost all electronic devices including: computers (desktops and laptops), gaming consoles (XBOX and PlayStation), tablets and smartphones (Apple iPhone) being made in China.
    • Back to the facts: Meng did not hide Huawei's business relationship with Iran from HSBC who, later, feared being the target of American sanctions. So HSBC pinned Meng with the blame in order to save themselves {Huawei has the email evidence to prove this; but a Canadian judge refused to hear it in a Canadian court}
  4. Two Tribes are really Four? While western society appears to be locked in an endless 'two tribe' battle between the political left vs. the political right, a new study from researchers at King's College London (working with IPSOS) indicates there are really 'four tribes'. They are: Political-Right (1/4), Political-Left (1/4), the Moderates (1/3), followed by the Disengaged (1/6). But here's the kicker: one third has never heard the term 'woke'; and those that have are split as to whether it is an insult or a compliment.
    comment: so perhaps this "woke" stuff is just another distraction created by that internet megaphone known as social media.
  5. Six Tribes? In this interview between Jimmy Kimmel (host of an American late-night TV show) and Dr Katherine Hayhoe (climate scientist at Texas Tech University) we learn that there are six tribes when it comes to environmental issues like climate change:
    1. Disengaged (7%) no opinion
    2. Dismissive (7%) these people scream that everything is a hoax
    3. Doubtful (11%)
    4. Cautious (20%)
    5. Concerned (28%)
    6. Alarmed (26%)
    She goes on to mention that the sum of Concerned and Alarmed constitute 54% (if climate change policy was democratic then we would already be working on a solution)
     
  6. Electoral Reform: The two largest Dominions of the British Empire were Canada and Australia so I wonder why Canada stayed with first past the post elections while Australia, and most others, transitioned to proportional representation
    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominion
    2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_electoral_systems_by_country
    3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proportional_representation
    comments:
    1. The first chart in the article under link-3 uses Canada as an example of what went wrong in 2015 where Liberal votes (39%) were "over represented" in parliament while all others (61%) where "under represented".
    2. It appears that Canada and India might be the only ex-Dominion countries still using first-past-the-post. Perhaps we Canadian are just too stupid to change; or too influenced by American-sourced news.
    3. History shows that costly bad decisions are usually associated with "majority wins" because fewer people are involved in decision making. Food-for-thought: British politicians of all parties agreed to work together quietly under Churchill until the conclusion of WW2; everything went well (politically speaking) until the war end when party bickering resumed. If Britain had adopted proportional representation then I suspect:
      1. Britain would have joined the EU in 1952 rather than 1962
      2. there would have been no Suez Canal crisis which means the British pound might still be used as the world reserve currency.
        BTW, Anthony Eden won a majority government in 1955.
      3. there would have been no Falklands War
        BTW. Margaret Thatcher won a majority government in 1979
      4. there would have been no BREXIT
        BTW, exiting the EU began with a Conservative Majority
  7. Don't tell me about 'your' lost rights.
    One: I haven't heard whining like this ever since tobacco smokers were banned from smoking in public places (smokers lost the rights to infect others; non-smokers regained the right to breath smoke-free air). For me, COVID-19 is a lot like second hand smoke. You are free to do whatever you wish with your body and your health but if you do not want to get the jab then I prefer you keep your (potentially) disease ridden body away from me and my family and friends.
    Two: There have always been complainers. Seat belts had been installed in new autos since the mid-1960s but when the province of Ontario made seat-belt use mandatory in 1976, I recall hearing a lot of complainers bellyache about government interfering with their personal freedom. People were luckier back then because that "complainer megaphone" that we call the internet was not yet available to the common public.
    Three: If we were living in a Star Trek future then I'm certain that Doctor McCoy would simply recommend the jab as an obvious prophylactic while Spock would say "the needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few, or the one"
    Four: Many people who don't know a damned thing claim that "any vaccine mandate is unconstitutional" so think the issue should be taken to court. Well, I'm not sure how far we (society) are at this point, but a pandemic could be declared a national emergency in which case everyone's rights will be legally curtailed (i.e. your rights are conditional - not absolute). This has happened many times before (usually during times of war) although I do recall it happening in Canada during the FLQ crisis (1970). So for you conspiracy theorists out there who are worried about a government control, you should take the jab now so the government will not have any justification for invoke something like a War Measures Act or Emergencies Act
    Five: Speaking of conspiracy theories, I am still shocked about how many idiots claim that a chip is begin injected with the jab (er, vaccine) to track you. First off, you are just not that important to be tracked. Secondly, how would a small chip be powered? (if tiny battery then the transmitter would have only a tiny amount of power). Thirdly, if the government wanted to track you then they are already doing so though your smart phone (so be sure to disable both the GPS and Bluetooth interfaces).
  8. Nuclear Energy: One Environmentalist’s Perspective (2021-07-09). Richard Wolfson discusses his book "Nuclear Choices for the Twenty-First Century: A Citizen's Guide", an authoritative and unbiased guide to nuclear technology and the controversies that surround it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lFQ4QEog3U
  9. POLIDIOT (political idiot) is a label applicable to both citizens and politicians who insist their "political option" is superior to "empirical fact". Have you noticed that political pundits are already reciting their favorite economic sound-bites while pretending the COVID-19 crisis (and associated economic recession) is over? To those people I present this quote from 1936:

    will work for food"The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. There are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest." --- John Maynard Keyes

    comment: no one "likes" the idea of printing up money but you would not like the alternative. Recall that very little was done after the crash of 1929; this resulted in a decade of hobos (homeless men looking for work), soup kitchens, and people wearing signs reading "will work for food"
     
  10. A new particle accelerator is being completed in Dubna, Russia, and is scheduled to be operational in 2022. This one is named NICA (Nuclotron-based Ion Collider fAсility) and is being built as a project of  JINR (Joint Institute for Nuclear Research).
    video (24-min): https://rtd.rt.com/films/russias-nica-big-bang-questions/
     
  11. Global CO2 levels hit a new peak of 419.05 ppm in April-2021 then increased to 419.13 ppm in May-2021 comment: 419 ppm = 0.419% (seems small until you realize that it is 5 times larger than 0.08% which is the legal limit for drunk driving)
  12. World’s largest-ever iceberg breaks away Antarctica (this one is the size of Puerto Rico)
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/20/worlds-largest-iceberg-nearly-four-times-size-of-new-york-forms-in-antarctica
  13. COVID-19 and two decades of misinformation
    Misinformation 1: The Republican-dominated Congress of 1987 eliminated the FCC Fairness Doctrine citing a violation of the right to free-speech by corporations. This enabled politically biased outlets like Fox News (Cable TV) and Rush Limbaugh (Syndicated Radio). Modern Americans seem unaware of the fact that one-sided political propaganda in Germany resulted in world-war-2
    Misinformation 2: The internet (1969) enabled the world-wide-web (1991) then mobile social media (2007). These technologies have enabled an ever increasing amount of medical and scientific nonsense (vaccine hesitancy is one example) from non-experts on both sides of the political spectrum. They also bankrupted many respectable newspapers as advertisers moved their money online. Recall that "newspapers could be sued under libel laws" so they employed editors and journalists to provide "best effort reporting" of fact-checked information. Alternative media sites are protected from lawsuits under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (created in 1996 to help the web get off the ground) so they check nothing:
    The information Age: Evolution by natural selection is a scientifically proven fact. Five years after Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, Herbert Spencer published Principles of Biology containing the phrase Survival of the Fittest. A full year of COVID-19 deaths, combined with people still questioning science, caused me to wonder: what will human society look like when this is over? We now live in the age of Survival of the Smartest and every citizen needs to be able to separate fact from fiction (or political opinion). Because many prefer information from politically-biased ALTERNATIVE STREAM MEDIA rather than neutral MAIN STREAM MEDIA, a lot of people are going to die (they will think they are "politically right" but will also be "dead wrong"). These deaths will not change human biological evolution since many who will die have moved past their reproductive years. Meanwhile this WHO chart shows COVID-19 evolving through the Greek Alphabet
    • variants of concern-1: alpha, beta, gamma, delta
    • variants of concern-2: eta, iota, kappa, lambda, mu (lambda and mu may prove to be as deadly as delta)
    COVID-19 stats:
  14. Ontario COVID-19 "ICU" Patient Numbers: An ICU ("intensive care unit") is a hospital bed associated with a full-time nurse and a ventilator (people who lived through the Polio crisis would be more familiar with the phrase "iron lung"). Premier Doug Ford announced a province-wide shutdown starting April-03 because the ICU patient count was 421 but projected to hit 800 by the end of the month (PROBLEM: there are only 800 ICU beds in the whole province).
  15. Sea-level rise is rising faster: One proof of climate-change is the increasing rate of sea-level rise. Most climate-change skeptics stand down after they see the graphs showing average annual sea-level rate of rise doubling from 1.7 mm per year (averaged: 1870-1990) to 3.4 mm per year as measured by modern weather satellites. Multiplying by 100 yields 340 mm or 13.4 inches per century. But the contents of this recent scientific paper from Denmark ( https://os.copernicus.org/articles/17/181/2021/ ) are even more troubling. The first line of the abstract reads "Recent assessments from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) imply that global mean sea level is unlikely to rise more than about 1.1 meters within this century but will increase further beyond 2100". This statement infers that one meter (39 inches) is within the scope of possibility.
  16. Commenting on Huawei: It appears to me that western society only supports capitalism "when the west wins". When a Chinese company, like Huawei, becomes the next Nortel, then ridiculous conspiracy theories are invoked. Huawei was one of many companies that bid on the sale of Nortel's intellectual property, as did Apple, Microsoft, Sony, RIM (Blackberry), Google and others. Huawei was not one of the winners which forced it to increase its own R&D operations (estimates put Huawei R&D in 2019 at a massive 40% of net income) so it should come at no surprise that Huawei is 18-24 months ahead of their competition in the field of 5G wireless. Simple logic shows that Huawei could only achieve parity if they were stealing I/P. Did I mention that their 5G hardware is 90% less expensive than anything from their competition?

    Deng Xiaoping (pronounced "dung chow ping") once said "The Middle East has its oil, China has rare earth". Since modern electronics is dependent upon rare-earth materials then it should be no surprise that Chinese-made electronics is much less expensive. Speaking of Deng for a moment, in 1985 I was attending school in Boston where it appeared to me that Chinese students were everywhere. Apparently, Deng had sent 1.3 million Chinese students out into the world to receive a top-quality western education paid for by China (one of my more-gifted Chinese classmates was accompanied by "two minders" who were there to ensure that he returned to China). Unlike Mao, Deng saw great value in education and realized that this was the best way forward for China. Thirty five years later, China has moved more than 350 million Chinese citizens from poverty into the middle class. This number is greater than the total population of the USA so is it any surprise that China is doing well? Meanwhile, there is a tendency amongst some westerners to label "an educated person" as "an elite". It seems to me that the world has flipped.
  17. Our culture is awash in lies, dominated by streams of never ending electronic hallucinations that merge fact and fiction until they are indistinguishable.  We have become the most illusioned society on earth.  Politics is a species of endless and meaningless political theater.  Politicians have morphed into celebrities.  Our two ruling parties are, in reality, one party - the corporate party.  And those who attempt to puncture this vast, breathless universe of fake news, designed to push through the cruelty and exploitation of the neoliberal order, are pushed so far to the margins of society, including by a public broadcasting system that has sold its soul for corporate money, that we might as well be mice squeaking against an avalanche, but squeak we MUST
  18. A conservative friend of mine was fond of asking me political questions (I am a centrist) then would cut me off mid-sentence before I finished answering. Apparently he was the only conservative among his family of brothers, sisters and parents but had no problem thinking he was right (er, correct)  while they were wrong. How could this be? This thought rattled around in my mind until I stumbled across a book titled The Republican Brain which was positively reviewed by liberals and conservatives alike. The book contains several points which I will pass along here:
    • Size differences in two brain structures, the amygdala (larger in conservatives) and the anterior cingulate (larger in liberals), bias human perspective of the world.
    • Conservatives see most issues as "black-and-white" (or good-and-evil) and are more pessimistic while liberals see "shades of gray" and are generally more optimistic
    • Conservatives are more fearful of others so are more easily encouraged to vote for POPULIST issues like "building the wall" or BREXIT (funny point: Britain had the lowest number of per-capita immigrants but had the highest political reaction against them)
    • Conservatives play politics as a team sport so will almost always "vote their party" while Liberals will split their vote choosing alternate parties (not very smart in first-past-the -post)
  19. Philosophical razors
    • Occam's razor: Simpler explanations are more likely to be correct; avoid unnecessary or improbable assumptions
    • Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity
    • more examples: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_razor
  20. When I was young, everything I knew about politics and economics came from secondary school so found myself reading books recommended by others which included The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek. Then when I heard Marget Thatcher quote the book, I wondered if she was reading a different translation since her quotes bore little resemblance to the book I read (was Thatcher paraphrasing?). I recently stumbled onto this gem which was also written by Hayek which I only pass along as food-for-thought. It is titled Why I am Not a Conservative (whoa! this article is an excerpt from a 1960 book titled The Constitution of Liberty - I wonder if Thatcher knew about this)

Current Items: continued here (more sciency stuff)
 

"2001: A Space Odyssey"
A mysterious monolith awakens the imagination of humanity's distant ancestors.
A second monolith awaits humanity's giant leap to the moon. And in orbit around Jupiter,
a third monolith beckons humanity to transcend beyond the limits of of body and machine.
Click: 2001: A Space Odyssey @ Wikipedia
"a Feynman Diagram"
Feynman Diagram (animated) Feynman Diagram (static)
"All forces in the universe are mediated by particle exchange"
This "Feynman Diagram" (of electron repulsion) depicts the movement of two electrons (1 to 3 and 2 to 4) in space and time. A virtual photon transfers energy between them (5 to 6) causing them to repel each other.
To learn more:
1) brief explanation
2) detailed explanation
Legend: Y-Axis (up-down) is time while X-Axis (left-right) is space

Neil Rieck
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Yes, this is the old "Laptops and Lederhosen" site
  • Humanity's coming Dark Age
  • STEM Book Recommendations (Dark Age vaccine?)
  • Thomas PaineThomas Paine (1737-1809) wrote about many modern topics including "racial equality" (he proposed "abolishing slavery" 100 years before Lincoln). The following three titles are a "must read" for all modern citizens:
  • Adam Smith (1723-1790) professor of "moral philosophy" (economist) developed economic theories with the intent of redistributing wealth to workers who were about to be displaced by the industrial revolution. Anyone reading Smith's books will come to the conclusion that American capitalism is based upon a synthesis of Adam Smith and Charles Darwin (survival of the greediest). Many things Americans attribute to Adam Smith are not found in his books (the 'invisible hand' is mentioned only once in a revised edition of WoN). What would he think about hedge funds and activist investors?  
  • The $6 Trillion Dollar War by Joseph E Stiglitz
  • Comparative Anthropology
  • the Enlightenment (my favorite topic)

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