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400ky of atmospheric CO2
Natural CO2 levels oscillate between
180 and 280 ppm every 120,000 years
  1. David Suzuki is retiring from the CBC television program “The Nature of Things” after hosting for 44 seasons of 62.
    https://gem.cbc.ca/the-nature-of-things/s62e13 (45-min video)
    p.s. Fans of Canadian music will first hear, then see, Neil Young (the only member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young still publishing music)

    comment: as both "a science junkie" and "a CBC junkie" I am already mourning the loss. BTW, “The Nature of Things” will continue but with a different host.
  2. Ocean heat on this rise: Gwynne DyerThere is a fever raging in the ocean. Last month it was worst off the eastern coast of North America, where the sea surface temperature was as much as 13.8 C degrees higher than the 1981-2011 average for this time of year. Not only was that a record; it was an astounding leap upwards: more than double the previous record. There are similar though less dramatic ocean heat waves popping up in unusual places like the North Pacific, the West African coast and the equatorial part of the Indian Ocean. They are quite persistent, and some of the scientists who work on ocean heat are very worried. “I don’t want to say this is climate change, or natural variability or a mixture of both, we don’t know yet. But we do see this change,” said Karina Von Schuckmann of Mercator Ocean International, lead author of the latest report on sea surface temperature. Many other climate scientists share her anxiety, but also her reluctance to commit to a conclusion. Partly that reluctance is just the usual scientific caution when confronted with a new phenomenon, but it’s also because they really don’t want to believe that things have got this bad this fast. If the way the ocean is dealing with the heat it has absorbed is changing, it will certainly be changing for the worse, and that’s the last thing we need right now. The world ocean, covering over two-thirds of the planet to an average depth of three-and-a-half kilometres, has been helpful in limiting the damage since the human race started emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases. However, the carbon dioxide is already making the oceans more acidic, which harms sea life, and we can safely assume that there is also a limit to how much CO2 the oceans can absorb (though we don’t know where it is). At some point, certainly, the oceans will not be able to absorb any more CO2, and the warming of the atmosphere will speed up a lot. Similarly, at some point the huge amount of excess heat that the oceans have absorbed will drive the sea surface temperature up dramatically and warm the atmosphere further, but we don’t know when. Could that point be now? Yes, it could, but we don’t understand the ocean’s behaviour well enough to be sure yet. The main reason for the doubt about what’s really happening is the fact that we were expecting the recurrent climate phenomenon called El Niño to return around now anyway. El Niño is part of a cycle of heating and cooling in the tropical part of the eastern Pacific (off Peru and Ecuador) that is strong enough to affect the whole global climate system. On average the cycle repeats around every seven years: the last El Niño was in 2015, and we’re due for another right about now. The problem for the scientists is that this cyclical leap in temperatures will be superimposed on the steady annual warming that human greenhouse gas emissions are causing — seven years of it since the last El Niño. We’re in for some unprecedentedly hot and stormy weather even if nothing new is happening. But something new may be happening: major surface warming is also appearing in parts of the ocean that are not normally affected by the El Niño phenomenon. The climate scientists (but not the rest of us) are acutely aware of how much they don’t know. Understanding of the climate system is expanding fast, but it is so complex that the field is still littered with “known unknowns” — and probably lots of “unknown unknowns” too.
    Gwynne Dyer (2023-05-10) 
    Links:
  3. Why I disconnected from social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) starting Jan-2023 after a month of deliberation. These three links describe some of the contributing factors:
  4. This 1980 quote by author-educator Isaac Asimov (PhD Biochemistry) now perfectly describes modern life in North America where citizens become misinformed by accessing social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat) or politically biased news outlets run by publishing billionaires like Rupert Murdoch. The graphic reads:
    "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has 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 (Newsweek, 21 January 1980) 

    A cult of ignorance
  5. From Anti-Government to Anti-Science: Why Conservatives Have Turned Against Science.
    article: https://direct.mit.edu/daed/article/151/4/98/113706/From-Anti-Government-to-Anti-Science-Why
    abstract:
    In this essay, we argue that conservative hostility toward science is rooted in conservative hostility toward government regulation of the marketplace, which has morphed in recent decades into conservative hostility to government, tout court. This distrust was cultivated by conservative business leaders for nearly a century, but took strong hold during the Reagan administration, largely in response to scientific evidence of environmental crises that invited governmental response. Thus, science (particularly environmental and public health science) became the target of conservative anti-regulatory attitudes. We argue that contemporary distrust of science is mostly collateral damage, a spillover from carefully orchestrated distrust of government.
    comments:
  6. Ignorance abounds in the era of social media where everyone offers opinions on things they know nothing about.
    • woke first became popular in US African American music community during the 1930s and means "alert to racial prejudice and discrimination". So today, anyone who is anti-woke could technically be guilty of "racial prejudice"
    • critical race theory (CRT) is an academic critique of a discredited pseudo science known as race theory which is just as discredited as eugenics. Since "race theory" was first used by the German NAZI party in the 1930s to justify murder, then anyone who criticizes CRT could technically be called a supporter of NAZI murder. Click here to learn more about this at NPR.
    • some political types are behaving as if transsexual issues are a new thing. I was unaware of this stuff until 1970 after I watched this 1970 movie staring Raquel Welch. More light landed on this topic after reading a 1978 article by Hugh Hefner in Playboy Magazine.
    • lots of political types want to ban books and/or takeover control of libraries. They seem to have missed the lesson that " book bans" are always on the wrong side of history, and that banned titles are always more sought after.
  7. Four balloons are making political people crazy.
    • In the middle of February 2023, the American military shot down four balloons.
    • One was a surveillance balloon that China launched over Guam to monitor the installation of American military hardware. That balloon was only partially steerable so it is no surprise that bad weather accidentally pushed it into American air space.
    • One balloon was launched by a ham radio club from Illinois which had been up for more than a year.
    • Two were weather balloons. While much weather data today comes from weather satellites, between 900 and 1300 weather balloons are launched twice a day, every day, and this has been going on almost continually since the 1950s.
    • So, what is the problem here? Answer: Over the decades, defense-based RADAR systems became overwhelmed with the total number of moving targets so filters were enabled to ignore slow-moving targets. These filters were disabled when someone asked "what is that strange object i am seeing?" Hysteria ensued.
    • So why are politicians and political muckrakers still trying to use these events to start a new cold war with a supposed perceived enemy? And what is wrong with people who always need a new enemy? Perhaps those people never read George Orwell's fictional book from 1948 titled Nineteen Eighty-Four (yep, the author purposely switched the last two digits)
    • Why did some people, including cable news broadcasters, seriously think these objects are of extra-terrestrial origin? Are you trying to tell me that aliens flew here in interstellar space ships then launched balloons? What happened to common sense?
  8. The Atlas of Impunity is the name of a publication which ranks countries by five dimensions of impunity: unaccountable governance, abuse of human rights, economic exploitation, conflict and violence, and environmental degradation. Visit the next link to learn more: https://www.eurasiagroup.net/live-post/atlas-of-impunity-2023
  9. War is a Racket is the title of a book written by a retired US Marine Corps Major General, Smedley Butler. Twenty five years later, US President Dwight D Eisenhower (a 5-star Army General during world-war-2) warned of the dangers of the military industrial complex which has since spawned the military industrial media complex as well as the military entertainment complex When are we citizens going to put a stop to this madness? The first step is to make our elected representatives accountable.
    quote: "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." George Orwell (author: Nineteen Eighty-Four)
    Art imitates life? Here are the lyrics of a song published in 1970 titled War Pigs

    Generals gathered in their masses ° Just like witches at black masses ° Evil minds that plot destruction ° Sorcerer of death's construction ° In the fields, the bodies burning ° As the war machine keeps turning ° Death and hatred to mankind ° Poisoning their brainwashed minds ° Oh lord, yeah!

    Politicians hide themselves away ° They only started the war ° Why should they go out to fight? ° They leave that role to the poor, yeah ° Time will tell on their power minds ° Making war just for fun ° Treating people just like pawns in chess ° Wait till their judgement day comes, yeah!

    Now in darkness, world stops turning ° Ashes where their bodies burning ° No more war pigs have the power ° Hand of God has struck the hour ° Day of judgement, God is calling ° On their knees, the war pigs crawling ° Begging mercy for their sins ° Satan laughing, spreads his wings ° Oh lord, yeah!
  10. New mRNA-based influenza vaccine protects against all 20 sub-types
  11. USA geopolitical confusion will start the next world war (because it played a huge role in the recent Russia-Ukraine conflict)

    Jeffrey Sachs: U.S. Policy & "West's False Narrative" are Stoking Tensions with Russia, China

    comments:
     
  12. Sea Level Rise is rising faster (one proof of global warming)
    sealevel rise over 30 years

    Global mean sea level has risen 101 millimeters (3.98 inches) since 1992, and continues to do so at 3.9 mm (0.15 inches) per year.

    comments:
    • nineteenth century average rate of rise: 1.4 mm per year
    • twentieth century average rate of rise: 1.7 mm per year
    • current "satellite measured" rate of rise is: 3.9 mm per year
    • multiplying by 100 yields 390 mm (39 cm or 15 inches) per century.
    • recall that distance over time is known as velocity
    • recall that an increase in velocity is known as acceleration
    • sea level rise isn't just increasing, it is accelerating
    • notice that this measurement is vertical but beaches are sloped which means increase flooding during high tides and storm surges
    • 39 cm (15 inches) per century is a guaranteed minimum provided a constant rate of "3.9 mm per year" BUT this value is increasing.
     
  13. IPCC projectionsSea-level rise (continued): While it is difficult to measure Earth's daily average temperature (consider: day-night cycles; seasonal changes) then do annual trend analysis (consider: daily weather events; decadal weather events like El Niño and La Niña), it is much easier to measure the effects of warming as seen in sea-level rise. Most climate-change skeptics stand down after viewing data showing average annual sea level rate-of-rise more than doubling from 1.7 mm per year to 3.9 mm per year in just one century (much of the original data came from military sources)
    additionally: The content of this scientific paper from Denmark ( https://os.copernicus.org/articles/17/181/2021/ ) is much 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 a rise of one meter (39 inches) by the end of this century is within the scope of possibility.
    Then from this IPCC 2021 summary we read one very troubling line: "Sea-level rise by 2100 is likely to be from half to one meter, but two to five meters is not ruled out, as ice sheet instability processes are still poorly understood."
    quote: “We live in an age of rising seas. In our own lifetime we are witnessing a startling alteration of climate.” Rachel Carson, 1964.
     
  14. About NATO - OTAN
    • 1949: NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) also known as OTAN (Organisation du Traité de l'Atlantique Nord) began as an alliance of twelve countries to provide collective protection from Joseph Stalin.
    • 1953: Stalin died but NATO was not disbanded. NATO's mission quietly shifted to offering collective protection from the USSR.
    • 1954: Eastern block countries expressed interest in joining NATO but were refused.
    • 1955: the Warsaw Pact was created after it became clear that Western countries would never allow Eastern block countries to become NATO memberships. Food for Thought: could the building of the Berlin Wall have been avoided if NATO, or political hardheadedness, had not existed? Perhaps. Imagine an alternative world in which Germany was not split into two countries. No Checkpoint Charlie?
    • 1989: citizens breached the Berlin Wall and Mikhail Gorbachev allowed it.
    • 1991: the USSR dissolved but NATO was not disbanded. As part of the German reunification deal, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved after the USA promised Russia to not engage in NATO expansion "East of Germany" but the USA broke that promise or perhaps never intended to honor it.
    • 1996: As part of his reelection campaign, and to short-circuit his Republican opponent, Bob Dole, who was going to use the lack of NATO expansion as one of his campaign issues, Bill Clinton called for former Warsaw Pact countries and post-Soviet republics to join NATO, and made NATO enlargement a part of his foreign policy. Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic officially joined NATO in March 1999 as a result of Clinton's actions (but Bob Dole would have done the same)
    • 1997: NATO and Russia sign a deal in 1997 but not very much comes of this. NATO's diplomatic cooling might have something to do with Russia condemning the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999
    • 2000: Vladimir Putin asked Bill Clinton when it would be possible for Russia to join NATO. Apparently Clinton did not object but nothing came of this
    • 2002: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia were invited to begin accession talks at the Alliance's Prague Summit in 2002. On 29 March 2004, they officially became members of the Alliance, making this the largest wave of enlargement in NATO history
    • According to declassified NATO documents we now know that NATO's original objective (according to first NATO Secretary General - Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay of Great Britain) was to "keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down” and I wondered what modern citizens might think about that.
    • Since actions speak louder than words, many citizens now wonder if NATO is nothing more than a sales channel for the military industries of NATO countries, which has grown from twelve to thirty. Some of them are not geographically connected to the Atlantic Ocean (Turkey first springs to mind. Both he Czech and Slovak Republics are two more)
    • Americans are always banging on about capitalism and free markets but never offered Russia a helping hand after the USSR collapsed. This would have been a huge opportunity for American businesses had they been thinking more clearly. The world would be a different place had either George H W Bush or Bill Clinton reached out to Russia like Nixon did with China in 1972
    • From Wikileaks, and other sources, we learned that Barack Obama's Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, took credit for instigating the NATO attack on Libya in 2011 which destroyed that country while destabilizing the region (a decade later this country has never recovered). Was Obama aware of this? German chancellor, Angela Merkel, was aware while commenting on the large volume of African refugees entering Europe then asked "why are the countries responsible for this not doing more?"
    • While observing the international actions of Joe Biden's Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, after the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, it appears that the American Secretary of State has always answered more to the defense Industry than the President.
    • Do Americans know that continually supporting their own defense industry (which includes sales or gifts to other countries) may be violating the American constitution? Article 1 Section 8 of the American Constitution states: The Congress shall have Power To raise and support Armies, but no appropriation of money to that Use shall be for a longer term than two years. America's founding fathers did not want the USA to decay due to excessive military spending as happened in the Roman Empire.
    • No western politician was ever allowed to question the value of NATO but in 2016 we heard presidential candidate, Donald Trump, referring to NATO as being obsolete, and now I cannot stop thinking that it is.
    • This article from the State Department website boasts that the USA has been continually delivering weapons to Western Ukraine for almost two decades (from 2004-to-2023). This one-sided destabilization may have contributed to the fact that a civil war in East Ukraine has been on going since 2014. This once-simmering war situation boiled over after Kiev began using American military hardware to attack targets in the breakaway Donbas region (Donetsk and Luhansk) in 2021 (long before the Russian invasion).  
      comment: Unlike the Ukrainian people, Ukrainian politicians have been considered some of the most corrupt in the democratic world. That is one reason why Ukraine elected a comedian as president rather than someone from one of the main political parties but even he went over to the dark side.
  15. The Russia - Ukraine conflict
    2022-02-01 We learn that Kiev was using American military hardware to attack targets in the breakaway Donbas region (Donetsk and Luhansk). Did the USA not realize that their gifts to one side would inflame the situation by upsetting the balance? Did no one in the state department learn anything from this 1968 Star Trek episode?
    2022-02-18 Russian-backed separatists evacuate residents from east Ukraine
    2022-02-19 BBC America showed video of Donbas citizens being placed on buses destined for temporary safety in western Russia
    2022-02-20 BBC America showed video of Donbas citizens exiting buses in Western Russia. The total number of Donbas refugees was said to be 93,000
    2022-02-24 Russia enters Ukraine with a three pronged attack: Belarus from the North, Russia from the East. Crimea from the South.
    2022-02-25 Putin would have been considered a hero by some if he had only ordered Russian troops into the Donbas region to end the 8-year civil war while protecting the lives of Donbas citizens from further aggression. But he did not so Putin's place in history will be forever soiled.
    comments: if Putin wanted to stop NATO encroachment around Russia, he could have done something similar to what John F Kennedy did in 1962 when the USA learned that Russia had been installing missiles in Cuba (in response for the USA installing missiles in Turkey). But Putin missed this opportunity so I fear that many people will die on both sides. This error is due to the fact that Putin was trained as a KGB spy rather than a politican or diplomat.
    2022-06-30 (article) quote: "NATO has been preparing for a war with Russia since 2014, said NATO" said Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
    2022-06-30 (article) quote: "NATO radically redefined its mission to reflect a new mantra which could be encapsulated as: keep the Russians down, the Americans in, and the Chinese out" (Scott Ritter)
  16. 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
  17. POLIDIOT (political idiot) is a label applicable to both citizens and politicians who insist their "political opinion" is superior to "empirical fact" (this includes politicians who advocate for cryptocurrenices). 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."

    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"
     
  18. Two decades of misinformation and COVID-19
    the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse Misinformation 1: The Republican-dominated US Congress of 1987 eliminated the FCC Fairness Doctrine citing a violation of the right to free-speech by corporations (did framers intend corporations to have the same rights as people?) This enabled politically-biased outlets, like Fox News (Cable TV) and Rush Limbaugh (Syndicated Radio), to play fast and loose with the truth. Americans today seem unaware of the fact that one-sided political propaganda in Germany triggered world-war-2
    Misinformation 2: Since the rise of the world-wide-web (1991) and mobile social media (2007) society has witnessed an ever increasing amount of bad science from non-experts on both sides of the political spectrum (vaccine hesitancy is one example). As advertising revenue moved online, many print publishers went out of business which triggered societal problems. Recall that newspapers could be sued under libel laws so they employed editors and journalists to provide "best effort reporting" of "best-effort fact checked" information. Internet media sites are protected from lawsuits under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (created in 1996 to help start internet businesses) so they check nothing which allows them to cut costs by eliminating jobs.  Here is one example of many: In 2019, Buzzfeed laid off 43 journalists in their own news division TO SAVE MONEY. In 2021, Buzzfeed (now rich) purchased The Huffington Post then laid off 47 journalists. In 2023, Buzzfeed closed Buzzfield News (affects 180 employees) TO SAVE MONEY associated with changes in news aggregation policies at Facebook.
    Comment: Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859 outlining Evolution by Natural Selection. Herbert Spencer published Principles of Biology in 1864 which contained the phrase Survival of the Fittest. We now live in the age of Survival of the Smartest which requires every citizen to be able to separate fact from fiction, or fact political opinion. Since many people are unable or unwilling to do this, then many are going to die prematurely. They will think they are "politically right" but will also be "dead wrong". USA COVID-19 deaths: 1,166,000 lookup current value or lookup deaths by country [ Now click top-of-the column "deaths per 1 million" to reorder the table. Question: Why did the USA (16) do so badly compared with their neighbors Mexico (39) and Canada (83)? ]
  19. Half of us are as dumb as rocks
    I enjoy listening to the CBC radio program / podcast Under The Influence which tells past stories from advertising industry. Episode S10E14 compares the marketing success of the McDonald's Quarter Pounder with the marketing failure of the A&W Third of a Pounder. During post-failure analysis, marketers discovered that more than half the people in the focus groups were confused about which was the better deal. Consumers genuinely thought McDonald's was the better deal because they believed that a quarter pound was more than a third of a pound because 4 is bigger than 3. Duh!!!
    comment: makes we wonder how much of our Neanderthal DNA is active. Please think about this the next time you decided to pontificate on subjects like politics, the economy and vaccines.
  20. 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. China 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.
     
  21. 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?
    food-for-thought: according to the 2022 book Chip War, Huawei employed 100 IBM consultants for more than a decade with the intent that "Huawei could operate with IBM efficiency"
    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.
  22. 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
  23. 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)
  24. When I was a student, I read an English translation of The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek. Then I later heard Margret Thatcher using the book to bash socialism, I wondered if she was reading a different translation (Hayek only published in German) since her quotes bore little resemblance to Hayek's book (was Thatcher paraphrasing?). Anyway, when Hayek slams socialism, he is referring to state-sponsored collectivism which is not the same thing as practiced (in one form or another) by most countries of the world except the USA. I recently stumbled onto this Hayek article titled Why I am Not a Conservative (excerpted from a 1960 book titled The Constitution of Liberty - I wonder if Thatcher knew about this).
  25. When I attended college in the early 1970s, many students seemed to be talking about Ayn Rand or quoting from her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged. Years later I finally got around to reading the book which left me with these thoughts:
    1. Like George Orwell (1984) Ayn Rand knows how to tell a fictional dystopian story
    2. Rand's character John Galt seems to be a kinder (although equally ridiculous) version of Orwell's character Big Brother
    3. 1984 (which Orwell claimed is really about 1948 England) was published in 1949 while Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957 so perhaps this tells us something about the zeitgeist of those years
    4. Ayn Rand seemed to project a naive (childish?) view of industry vs government regulation. Did she really think that corporations would never do anything evil? Had she lived longer I would have loved to hear her ATTEMPT to defend the actions of the Big Tobacco for knowing the numerous health hazards associated with the use of their product then hiding them in order to make a buck; or that EXXON knew as early as 1977 that the burning of fossil fuels would cause climate change (they hid these reports then hired retired scientists working for politically motivated think thanks to deny such a thing was possible). It is possible that these large companies got the inspiration to do this from Rand's description of the fictional "State Science Institute" which was low on science while high on politics. I wonder if people who read this book are also skeptical of science and vaccines.
    Feb-2022: I noticed that Atlas Shrugged had been made into a three part movie currently available on Amazon Prime Video. I watched them all in order; what a waste of my time; it was like a train wreck that I could not stop watching. Part 1 was okay; part 2 was corny; part 3 was just bad. BTW, my comments have nothing to do with the actors or set designers for these productions (which were all done with different actors for some reason); my comments have everything do do with the really bad childish story line that I thought would have repaired for life this side of Y2K; There must be something wrong with the human species when anyone takes this stuff seriously.
    Jan-2023: I just heard this pod-cast about Ayn Rand on NPR: https://www.npr.org/2022/12/22/1145107911/the-monster-of-we-2021
    comment: People who see the world through the prism of politics (or see the world in black + white) will love this. People who see the world in shades of gray may not.
"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


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