Thursday, November 18, 2010

Custer & Bull... and the politics of idiocracy

Stinky bull -- Fox sings the praises of “General” Custer.

President Obama's new children’s book — “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters” — celebrates 13 famous figures in American history, including George Washington, Jackie Robinson, Neil Armstrong, Helen Keller and Sitting Bull. Profits will be donated to a scholarship fund for children of fallen and disabled American troops.

But this is how Fox Nation chose to present the book... “Obama Praises Indian Chief Who Killed U.S. General.” 

Never mind that Sitting Bull was too old to fight at Little Big Horn and certainly killed no one, on that fateful day. Even making allowances, anyone with an ounce of intelligence would dismiss this snark as just another example of pinheaded culture war.

Still, I do have to offer a small side note, in the interest of historical nit-pickery.  I don't know if anyone else has pointed this out….

But at the time of the Battle of Little Big Horn, George Armstrong Custer was not a general.

Yes, he had been one, during the Civil War, when rank inflation made generals as common as grass nettles.  But after peace returned, those choosing to stay in the army took steep rank cuts.  Heck, at the time of his fateful encounter with the allied Lakota and Cheyenne nations, Custer wasn't even a full colonel!  He did not command the Seventh Cavalry, but just one of its battalions, as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Violating clear orders, he led that battalion off scouting duty and straight into premature hostilities.  Violating all military sense, he peeled off two companies and charged them into certain death... thus saving the other two companies from the misfortune of his further suicidally insane leadership. (Those two mostly survived.)

Two companies, badly led by an insane lt. colonel, were wiped out.  A Fascinating event that did resonate loudly with the public. Still, on the grand scale of things, this wasn't a “battle” but a dismal skirmish, in which all sides have been over-rated.

Without taking away from the courage of Custer's men or the victory of the tenacious war leader, Crazy Horse, certainly the earlier triumphs of Tecumseh were more substantial and came far closer to achieving historical change for native peoples.  But let's admit the Lakota and Cheyenne earned a moment of significance in history, fair and square, especially through the later diplomatic skills of Sitting Bull.

imagesSo, does this nit-pick really matter?  Not really, except to illustrate another example of really, really bad journalism.  The shabby villain in all this snippy little episod is -- as always -- Fox News.

No other force in American life is as responsible for undermining the old spirit of pragmatic negotiation with our neighbors and non-political problem-solving, than this foreign-owned organ of bilious hatred, whose incessant lying has forced many of us Goldwater Republicans to flee in disgust from a GOP that has gone quite un-dead.


Faced with rising, dogma-driven attacks upon science, hundreds of climate scientists are joining a broad campaign to push back against congressional conservatives who have threatened prominent researchers with investigations and vowed to kill regulations to rein in man-made greenhouse gas emissions.... Now, the American Geophysical Union, the country's largest association of climate scientists, plans to announce that 700 climate scientists have agreed to speak out as experts on questions about global warming and the role of man-made air pollution.

I have urged that scientists take a less-passive stance in the "war on Science," which is spearheaded by precisely the same law firms, think tanks and ad agencies who brought us 40 years of "tobacco is good for you" and who now push both creationism and climate change denialism from the same slush funds.  In fact, the scientific consensus is not always right, and benefits from regular scrutiny and criticism! But parsing the difference between genuine Skeptics and members of a dogmatic cult is something that scientists are going to have to learn to do.

Following up on my posting about “corporate personhood:

Murray Hill Incorporated Running for Congress."

And finally... from a classic article (2005) in Esquire: “Greetings from Idiot America” Creationism. Intelligent Design. Faith-based this. Trust-your-gut that. There's never been a better time to espouse, profit from, and believe in utter, unadulterated crap. And the crap is rising so high, it's getting dangerous. By Charles P. Pierce

“...a pastor named Ray Mummert delivers the line that both ends our tour and, in every real sense, sums it up: "We've been attacked," he says, "by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture."

“The rise of Idiot America is essentially a war on expertise. It's not so much antimodernism or the distrust of intellectual elites that Richard Hofstadter deftly teased out of the national DNA forty years ago. Both of those things are part of it. However, the rise of Idiot America today represents -- for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power -- the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they're talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a preacher, or a scientist, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.”

“In the place of expertise, we have elevated the Gut, and the Gut is a moron, as anyone who has ever tossed a golf club, punched a wall, or kicked an errant lawn mower knows. We occasionally dress up the Gut by calling it "common sense.”

Is that creepy enough for you to realize they mean it, when they say “Culture WAR”?  Now recall that these are allies of the same folks who brought you "cars don't make smog," then "flouride is a commie plot." (See my article: The Real Culture War; Defining the Background.)

Now hop over and have a look at these links, and remember, these are the guys who, via their wholly owned propaganda machine, have used populist methods to rile up a third of the US population against science, against their own government, against the universities, the cities (that pay most of the taxes and that sit in the terrorists’ crosshairs) and against modernity.

http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ List_of_Saudi_ billionaires
http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ List_of_the_ richest_royals
http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ List_of_Arabs_ by_net_worth
http://www.zawya. com/story. cfm/sidGN_ 11032010_ 120349/The% 20Billionaires% 20Club
http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ List_of_richest_ American_ politicians



Acacia H. said...

Sadly, as this is mostly politics I can't comment. However, I can reflect on Fox News, based on something I experienced myself a couple years back.

I'm probably among the oldest (in period of time) actively-updating webcomic reviewers out there, and have seen a number of reviewers appear and then, after a few months to a year, peter out. While the majority of my confreres have been decent people who have a love for the genre... there have been some who crawled from the 4chan forums and Portal of Evil and take delight in attacking webcomics and the people who create them.

Among the more notorious of these was a chap who called himself John Solomon. Now I'll give him this: he did have the ability to find those parts of a webcomic that were flawed. The problem was, he filled his "reviews" full of f-bombs and hurtful personal attacks on the webcomic creators (who can be a fragile lot in the best of circumstances - I once wrote a critical review of one poor girl's comic and reduced her to tears, even though the criticism was constructive and I had been among the tamest of the reviewers back then).

Sollie (as I called him) delighted in spewing venom and baseless attacks at any comic that caught his attention. Hell, he even "reviewed" my own site (at which point I banned anyone who tried to link the review and refused to even mention him by name on my site - it wasn't until I started taunting him about sending me lots of web traffic while he never got any traffic back from me that he finally wised up and stopped linking me in his attacks). But after a couple of months, Sollie's well of venom ran dry. The reviews became few and far between and then he vanished. He tried returning several months later but couldn't recapture that early venom.

Looking at the Fox News article against Obama there, I see a parallel. There were so many ways that Fox could have gone after Obama. Instead, they used baseless attacks, blatant lies that Wikipedia (or any encyclopedia) would prove incorrect, and a childishness that was positively churlish.

This isn't the first time Fox has fumbled the ball with Obama. I think they're running out of slanderous things to say. They have been so full of hate and bile concerning this man that the well is running dry. By the time 2012 comes around... I don't know if they'll be able to say anything effective against him... or if even their conservative readers will care because they'll be so use to baseless idiocy concerning Obama that is clearly false that they'll ignore it.

Now if only Rush Limbaugh would find his own bilious well run dry also....

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Tony Fisk said...

Once again, has anyone seen the movie: 'Agora'?

The tale of Hypatia, the last librarian of Alexandria, and her fate at the hands of the Christian mob seems chillingly relevant.

...and Rachel Weisz gets to play an *intelligent* egyptian librarian this time!

Jeff B. said...

Dr. Brin, love your blog. Re: Custer, your assessment is on target. Even the most casual student of history understands what total suicide the man's hubris wrought.

An interesting historical comparison, though, Custer wasn't the first, or the worst. Gen. Arthur St. Clair was hand-picked in 1791 by President Washington to deal with the "renegado" alliance of Indians that for some reason didn't want to vacate the Ohio Country for white settlement.

Instead of inflicting punishment, though, the clueless St. Clair marched his 1486 men (+c.200 camp followers) to the worst defeat in U.S. Army history, largely through the leadership of Little Turtle of the Miamis. 88.5% casualties for his officers (39 killed) and 97% enlisted casualties, incl. 632 deaths. (and almost all of the camp followers.)

What followed was the first Congressional inquiry into executive branch conduct, and the first attempt to use the principle of executive privilege to exempt records from Congressional eyes. Also sounding familiar, St. Clair largely managed to blame everyone else but himself for the disaster...

Unfortunately, his attitude keeps coming back- and it's just scary that Fox adopts it wholesale. I guess the Lakota and Cheyenne and the other tribes were actually Asian usurpers of our destined homeland.

Carl M. said...

@Robert: Rush is indeed beyond redemption.

Beck, on the other hand, is more interesting. Not a rigorous intellectual by any stretch, but he reads a bit outside the usual conservative echo chambers. He's been teaching about those awful progressives of yesteryear.

He may just connect the dots. The Neocons are progressives after a party shift. George Bush parallels Woodrow Wilson minus the explicit racism.

@David: attacking Obama for praising an Indian Chief is part of that same progressive national socialism which begat the Pledge of Allegiance. If someone could get Beck to read Rex Curry's studies on the Pledge, that ostrich might look around.

David Brin said...

Carl, your definition of "progressive" is... inventive.

"Populist" I can see. Sure. And the map of those who voted for Willaim Jennings Bryan. does overlap a bit with Bushism...

... but the word "progressive" also meant ACTUALLY seeking to empower the masses. Out west it resulted in Hiram Johnson and the movement to institute the first mass citizen Democracy since Periclean Athens, with the ballot initiative reforms.

Nationwide, "progressive" meant seeking ACTUAL changes in law that would ACTUALLY shift power to the people and away from oligarchs. I concede that the Tea Parties affect to have such an aim, but their idiocracy is blatant to anybody with a sliver of brains, who can see that the GOP never delivers a single populist goal, ONLY benefits for the oligarchy.

Which is why those with a sliver of brains are the target of neocon propaganda. And Beck is as much the drum-beater of hatred toward the smartypants caste as Limbaugh is.

David Brin said...

Jeff I had forgotten St. Clair... yipe! And Tecumseh came awfully close.

Here's a side note. The Lakota at Little Big Horn were BETTER ARMED than the cavalry! Not all braves had rifles, of course, but many had Winchester repeaters! Custer's men had single shot breech-loading springfields

Outgunned by the injuns... when did THAT happen?

Tacitus2 said...

I'm not just sure to what extent honorific titles were in vogue back in the 19th century. It does seem as if there were lots of "Captains" and "Generals" running about. But in a strictly military context it is more accurate to reference the permanent rather than the brevet rank. Two of his subordinates, Benteen and Reno were both civil war generals for that matter. Benteen actually saved the day according to most scholars.

I do wish our somewhat gravitas deficient president had not spent any of his valuable time writing a children's book. Although the cause it benefits is quite worthy.


Ilithi Dragon said...

I don't see how FOX expects that article to win them any points, for themsevles or against the President. Even people who are not students of history in any way know the name of Colonel Custer, and Custer's Last Stand. In popular culture, the man is regarded as one of the greatest idiots and incompetent commanders in U.S. military history, and calling someone Custer or linking their actions to Custer's last stand is analogous to saying that person is failing spectacularly through their own idiocy, incompetence, and/or moronic over-confidence.

And now FOX is trying to champion him? lolwut?

Oh, and Doc, shouldn't you be working on your book?

Acacia H. said...

Brief breaks are allowable. Research has shown that humans function better when they pause from work on occasion. In fact, we actually LEARN better when we take breaks - it seems we learn most at the start and the stop of each learning session, and that the optimal study period should be 15 minutes, with a five-minute break to stretch and move around.

That said, I should get working on the first chapter of my story as well (the prologue being done). Though I've a good idea where it's going at least. It's not until a couple chapters down that I run into the roadblock of "um... what are the characters doing now?" *shakes head* Ah well, gives me a chance to work on character development. ^^;;

Rob H.

Abilard said...

Sugden's book, Tecumseh: A Life, is an interesting read and gives some idea of the complexity of the man's character.  It is a bit more admiring and sympathetic than Allan W. Eckert's work in my opinion, emotional reactions I do not share.  But then, it was published after the 60s so the brown-man-good-white-man-bad meme should not be a surprise. This meme does not overwhelm the presentation of facts in the book, however, and from those presented facts it is clear that personal and political realities then were not simple (any more than they are now).

My wife and I rented Agora on iTunes. It was quite good, though we found it a bit difficult to watch. It was hard to avoid thinking about the "what ifs" which in turn rekindled anger in us at religious fundamentalists and the impact they have had on human history. There are too many echoes of Hypatia's time in the present to be comfortable.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Yeah, I'm not much one to talk at this point, either... I'm at a point where I know what goes down in the last third of the book (save the precise order of a few things), the first third or so is drafted out, and I have a rough idea of what happens in the middle, but not sure how to connect things together from where I'm at now... I know where I'm at, where I want to be, and more or less how to get there, I'm just not sure how to get on the right road, if you know what I mean, and I've been putting off figuring that out...

LarryHart said...

Illithi Dragon:

...and calling someone Custer or linking their actions to Custer's last stand is analogous to saying that person is failing spectacularly through their own idiocy, incompetence, and/or moronic over-confidence.

And now FOX is trying to champion him?

I don't watch FOX, but my presumption is that their constituency can get all "feel-good" over defending the honor of any famous white guy whose reputation has been sullied by "politically correct" lib'ruls. It wasn't all that long ago that Ann Coulter (anyone remember her?) was championing the reputation of Senator McCarthy.

On a tangentially-related note, I see that the right in general and FOX in particular is championing a popular blow-back against aggressive groping by TSA agents at airports. Not sure what to make of that. I presume that they see a parade and they've jumped to the front of it, pretending to lead. It makes a kind of sense--this is an issue that probably 99.99% of the public agrees with, so why NOT try to lead that charge?

Except that arguing against aggressive anti-terrorist measues is so anti-FOX that I have a hard time imagining HOW they're selling themselves as champions of that position. Sure, right now they can portray Obama as the bad guy, but is that really the stand they're taking? That socialist President Obama is going TOO FAR in fighting terrorism? I mean, what happens if their wet-dream comes true in 2012 and the GOP is in charge of the government again? Does that mean they will IMPLEMENT less-aggressive TSA policies? Or does it mean they'll suddenly go back to "Any inconvenience is necessary in the war on terror" without batting an eyelash, just as that guy in "1984" switched from railing against Eurasia to Eastasia in mid-speech?

I'm betting on the latter.

HS Matt said...

I’ve long held the notion that Fox News was not created to promote a “neo-con” agenda per se. I think it was simply to show how bad journalism could be. By being sloppy, half-ass, unprofessional, unethical and perhaps illegal, they can go a long way towards proving all journalism is suspect. Right on cue, other news organizations followed (although not to the same extent).

That is why trying to correct them or point out their lies hasn’t made a dent. It helps their case.

By doing so, those people on the list can quite easily tear down one of the formerly respected pillars of democracy.

Tony Fisk said...

Pertinent to faux news discussions:

The 2010 Andrew Ollie lecture is presented by Guardian editor Alan Rushbridge.

The Splintering of the Fourth Estate

(An ironic title, since he expresses fears of the consequences of an excessive concentration of media ownership in the UK... ah, I think his thesis is that the new media is causing the consolidation to conserve revenue. I might add that I only heard of this on the radio this morning!)


Abilard, Agora is uncomfortable because it is relevant. These weren't savages*, they were citizens in a fading civilisation, where a distinctly zealous new faith was coming into its own. One that was not tolerant of other views. If that sounds familiar, then you should be uncomfortable.

Looking around for online references to it, I see that it is *not* popular in Catholic circles (they apparently feeling the portrait of Cyrus being a particularly unflattering reflection on the early church. This is again ironic, since my concerns would be directed at other forms of the religion)

*Although you may dispute this if you read the accounts of how the real Hypatia died. I suppose today, she'd be tied to the back of a pickup.

David Brin said...

Tacitus wrote: I do wish our somewhat gravitas deficient president had not spent any of his valuable time writing a children's book. Although the cause it benefits is quite worthy."

Yipe! It was written before he entered office... and you'd begrudge him 35 pages??? Note you assume he wrote it. NOBODY assumes that for Reagan or either Bush. We all assume their "books" were ghost written. Hence, you implicitly respect BHO more!

The cause it benefits...? Where is the money from Bush's book going? Here's the PERFECT record. ALL Democratic ex-presidents get busy doing what they feel is necessary to stay relevant and help save the world. All of them and the ex-veeps too. While ALL gopper ex-prexies dive into aristocratic golfing, partying and snarking. It is such a perfect record...

...sure, I'd rather have a beer and a golf game with a gopper ex=prex... but the demmie exes are more worthy of respect.

Tony Fisk said...

A quick read of that lecture. The relevant bit:

"Something is dangerously out of kilter when elected Members of Parliament confess - as they recently have - that they have held back from probing into, or criticising, one particular media company for fear of what that company might do to them.

Or when its former employees - who know what went on and also what the company is capable of - are too frightened to speak publicly about what they know.


That's why newspapers and broadcasters in the UK have for the first time in history come together to oppose the move [to merge BSkyB with Murdoch newspapers] and why, in a recent House of Lords debate inspired by David Puttnam, virtually every speaker also lined up against it.

As Lord Gavron said in the debate this strength of feeling was not motivated by a knee-jerk prejudice against the name Murdoch - he actually praised Rupert Murdoch from personal knowledge as being 'straight, loyal and honourable' but he warned that, if the government allowed this deal through, "we could end up with a Russian oligarch, an Arab prince, or a hedge fund billionaire" in a similar position of control."

That last bit suggests that there is a sense of where the man behind the curtain is hiding.

I might add that the talk isn't just about Rupert, and it's well worth a read (particularly the bit about Twitter)

Tacitus2 said...

I did not realize it had been written before he took office. I guess there is no problem with his using his time before that point as he deemed suitable, as he was not my "employee" then. (Our friends from IL can opine otherwise as they choose).

My point was only that someone whose full time job is handling difficult politican matters should not be a dilletant writer. The isomeric point, that a full time writer is ill advised wasting too much time on politics, is self evident. But of course, David, you are not my employee either!

On the TSA issue, I am posting from Vegas (medical meeting and actually all work). Screening personel all very professional and several travelers thanked them for their mostly thankless efforts.


JuhnDonn said...

Heh. Can't stand golf. I do take some time off each year for Habitat for Humanity though. You can meet some interesting folks out there.

Acacia H. said...

Continuing in my theme of not specifically talking about politics, but still offering some links and such, here's an article Dr. Brin will enjoy in which Millionaire Patriots are stating to President Obama "raise our tax rates!" I'm sure Dr. Brin would have plenty of glowing things to say about these individuals and how they embody what's good and noble in the non-oligarchical millionaires who have the best interest out for America and all of that.

Anyway, enjoy. :)

Rob H.

Abilard said...

"If that sounds familiar, then you should be uncomfortable."

Surprisingly we have not (yet) encountered open hostility for our atheism from religious tea-party folks around us. Quite the opposite, though I confess that my wife and I did discuss how hostile it might get for our family if the tea party goes the way of the mob in Agora after watching the movie. At the moment, however, libertarian (classically liberal) views seem to be more important in these parts than one's religious persuasion.

This acceptance of us, in spite of our lack of religious belief, is one of the reasons I believe many (modern-sense) liberals (such as Rachel Maddow) seriously misjudge the movement when they portray it's members as astro-turfed intolerant thugs.

Of course, if we end up offed as infidels I will have been proven wrong. ;-)

David Brin said...

Re the air sitch --We need to get radical. STorm the private VIP charter hangars and FORCE the rich back to sipping champagne in First Class, where they belong! Yeah! Radical revolution!

Tacitus. Do not travel through LA. The worst TSA in America.

Unknown said...

Great blog!

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Tony Fisk said...

Surprisingly we have not (yet) encountered open hostility for our atheism from religious tea-party folks around us.

That's heartening, at least!

Maybe civilisation has taken a bit more firmly? Maybe 'Agora' is just like a lot of sf* stories: a cautionary tale that prevents the future.

* sandal-fight

Tim H. said...

Civilization can be a very thin veneer, easily worn away by economic duress, which makes the neo-fuedalists especially evil. All it would take to persecute atheists is a few firebrand preachers picking up that meme and Faux news running with it.

"townsmoa" Flightless municipal bird?

Acacia H. said...

Got some links I've been accumulating for the site.

Russians are mystified that the GOP would kill ratification of the START treaty.

The Bush Tax Cuts were not effective at improving the U.S. economy, even if you ignore the economic downturn in 2008-2009. In short, it seems that tax cuts end up harming the economy; I have a suspicion it has to do with the ability of the rich to accumulate wealth instead of doing what they used to do: reduce their profits by spending money on company infrastructure and retooling, so that the companies were better able to compete. These days, companies are built and then run into the ground at which point the parts are salvaged and a new company is formed.

Robo-signing of mortgage foreclosures may have caused systemic damage to the U.S. financial system that could destroy the remaining "too-big-to-fail" companies. Given that the U.S. people do not want to allow another bailout, I have to wonder if we may see the start of the next Great Depression if these companies fail... and drag down the world economy with them.

And speaking of Great Depressions, if Spain goes belly-up, the European Union is going to be in huge trouble as it's too big to fail... and too big to bail out. The article also talks about problems with Irish debt and the problem being the government accepting bank debt and on France being unable to work reforms due to massive protests by its people, among other things.

And another article on Irish debt and why Ireland is delaying on making a deal... and how ultimately this may end up making China into the next financial powerhouse of the world. Assuming of course that the Chinese Dragon doesn't go belly-up if something unexpected happens... just a gut feeling of mine.

Here's an article on how Republicans are not serious about cutting the deficit as it would require them to touch the new Third Rail of politics: Medicare (and in fact how Obamacare DID result in Democratic losses because of planned cuts to Medicare to pay for it, resulting in a large surge of seniors voting Republican).

Another third rail is of course defense spending, and suggestions that the GOP may fracture into a civil war between deficit hawks and politicians who refuse to cut the military budget because it would hurt contract jobs in their state.

(to be continued)

Acacia H. said...

The Fed is urging Congress to increase government spending in the short run to stimulate the economy. Yeah, like we're going to see that happen now.

And moving to more positive news, Democrats are finally talking about filibuster reform. I can only hope that Reid actually follows through on this... and that he keeps to heart his outrage over what Republicans did over the last two years in abusing this policy.

The Tea Party is going after Boehner because of his desire to kill the Congressional Ethics Office. Couldn't happen to a nicer person. I might not agree with everything the Tea Party has said but... I'm definitely cheering them on now! Heh.

In California, citizens are being picked to draw political boundaries. Considering the large amount of gerrymandering that will happen with this new political cycle... it's nice to see at least one state where this is less of a concern. Though I think perhaps we should eliminate political districts entirely, and work with a semi-parliamentary system for the House of Representatives: each state has elections on the state level... I'm not quite sure how to describe it. Basically, if 40% of a state votes Democrat, then 40% of the Reps are chosen from the Democrat pool of candidates. It would eliminate gerrymandering and allow people to actually have more power as they don't have to worry about artificial boundaries disempowering them by lumping all Democrats together in one area and all Republicans in another.

Bob Inglis has some rather sharp words to say about his fellow Republicans concerning climate change (which is interesting seeing that British economist Nicholas Stern warns that the U.S. could be boycotted or hit with tariffs if it doesn't start cleaning up its environmental (greenhouse gas emissions) act).

Speaking of environmental issues, there have been some cancellations of coal-burning power plants in coal-mining regions, thanks to the efforts of activists.

Democrats are going to try and push through a permanent extension of middle-class tax cuts alone. Republicans of course are calling it a massive tax increase on families.

(to be continued again)

Acacia H. said...

And finally on a scientific note we have the first extra-galactic solar system that may have been discovered. Scientists are puzzled as the star is a metal-poor star which should not have planets. I myself wonder if the planet might be an extra-solar capture... or possibly a brown dwarf star that never achieved critical mass.


As an aside, I've a scientific question for Dr. Brin. I've been contemplating today the concept of Hawkings radiation and think there is a flaw in the reasoning. From what I understand of Hawkings radiation, there is a constant swarm of particle creation and destruction, as particles and anti-particles are formed and then recombine and destroy themselves. Hawkings radiation happens when this happens near an event horizon of a black hole, allowing a swarm of particles (and anti-particles) to "emerge" from a black hole, violating the conservation of energy.

My question is this: if particles and anti-particles are constantly formed and then recombine, does that not thus suggest there is a bond between them? (Very likely the Strong Force, or related to it.) This bond pulls the two particle/anti-particles back together once they are formed, and ensures their destruction.

Why would this particle bond be severed by an event horizon?

From what I understand of the event horizon of a star, it is merely the point at which light enters into a permanent orbit around a singularity. There is nothing special about it outside of this. Thus it should not sever the particle bond... and the very force that causes the destruction of the particle/anti-particle pair should force the particle or anti-particle that forms outside of an event horizon to enter into the event horizon and allow the pair to reunite and be destroyed.

When a particle or anti-particle enters into the event horizon, the particle or anti-particle still exists. As the event horizon is merely the point at which light cannot escape from the gravity of the black hole, and is not in and of itself the actual singularity, the particle or anti-particle does not enter into the particle crush depth of the black hole system.

The particle crush depth would exist inside the event horizon, close to the singularity itself. For a particle/anti-particle pair to exist where one is destroyed by the crush depth and the other isn't, there is no Hawking's radiation because the other half of the particle pair is trapped inside the event horizon, and it will in turn be destroyed as well. Thus conservation of energy is preserved.

The only situation where Hawking's Radiation might exist is in the case of an actual naked singularity, and the laws of physics start doing weird things when naked singularities are in existence anyway.

Please, when you tear apart my argument here, don't use too much higher mathematics to prove me wrong. I never did get a firm grasp of calculus when in college, which is why I always remained on the periphery of science, looking in and understanding the basics of it without being able to grasp the mathematical core from which science is formed. ^^;;

Rob H.

LarryHart said...


On the TSA issue, I am posting from Vegas (medical meeting and actually all work). Screening personel all very professional and several travelers thanked them for their mostly thankless efforts.

Once again, I'm of two minds here, and I certainly don't blame individual TSA agents.

On the one hand, I absolutely despise the forced choice between nekkid pictures or punative groping. If that's what it takes to protect us from terrorists, then the terrorists have won. On the other hand, since my earlier post, I've learned the reason FOX News is railing against the TSA--because they're about to unionize, and the right-wing position is to prefer disbanding TSA and going to private security contractors. The New Orleanization of the flying public. To quote Marge Simpson, "I don't know which to root for."

Tacitus, I don't remember if you have kids, but if it were YOUR pre-teen daughter traveling for the holidays, which would you choose to put her through? The cancer-inducing radiation scanners or the invasive groping of her private parts? This is not a hypothetical question, nor is it directly a political one.

LarryHart said...


The Bush Tax Cuts were not effective at improving the U.S. economy, even if you ignore the economic downturn in 2008-2009. In short, it seems that tax cuts end up harming the economy; I have a suspicion it has to do with the ability of the rich to accumulate wealth instead of doing what they used to do: reduce their profits by spending money on company infrastructure and retooling, so that the companies were better able to compete. These days, companies are built and then run into the ground at which point the parts are salvaged and a new company is formed.

Supply-side economics and its "trickle down" metaphor are terribly misleading as a model. It's the Ayn Randian approach, stated explicitly in Rand Paul's victory speech--that the wealthy are the "fountainhead" from which all prosperity flows to the rest of civilization, so what's good for them is really what's good for all of us. It presumes that the capital available to rich people and corporations is the limiting agent on employment and wages--that they hire employees and pay them wages to the limits of their ability to do so.

The problem is, despite how natural it sounds to followers of either Ayn Rand or her namesake the Senator-elect, it's a scientifically-false statement. Companies don't hire to the limit of their wealth. No, almost the opposite. They begrudge every penny. They downsize to the limits of their ability to keep functioning. As long as demand is low (as it is in a recession going on depression), they have no REASON to hire more people or to pay their employees more. The only reason they'd have for doing so is if demand for their products and services INcreased to the point that investment in the infrastructure of fulfilling that demand was profitable. In other words, extending unemployment benefits (demand-side economics) is exactly the right thing to do in a depression. Tax breaks for the rich (supply-side economics) are exacly the WRONG thing to do.

Ayn Rand is wrong. Big surprise there, eh? The masses aren't the "open sewer" into which money disappears. Dollars in the hands of the masses get circulated endlessly and generate demand for products and services which entrepeneurs find ways of getting rich by servicing. No, the "open sewers is the coffers of the oligarchs. Once Sam Walton or the Koch brothers get their hands on a dollar, it disappears over the event horizon, and the economy at large will never see it again. I speak in hyperbole of course, but my point is that the Rands have the model exactly wrong. Money does not "trickle down" like water--doing work like running a turbine on the way DOWN. Rather, money naturally rises to the top, doing work like heating the turkey in your oven on the way UP. If external action needs to be taken to inject money into the system, and if you expect that money to actually DO useful work, it must be injected at the BOTTOM and allowed to "trickle up". The rich will still end up with the money, but it will have done a lot of good on the way to them. The "supply-side" method bypasses all that useful work and just PUTS the money at the top. It makes no sense. Even George H W Bush recognized it as "voodoo economics" back in the day.

LarryHart said...


Given that the U.S. people do not want to allow another bailout, I have to wonder if we may see the start of the next Great Depression if these companies fail... and drag down the world economy with them.

In the 1930s, Andrew Mellon famously advised President Hoover to "Liquidate labor, liquidate farmers,..." etc in order to let the economy sort itself out "naturally". Funny that the clade of wealthy conservatives with the same attitude in THIS depression never think that "Liquidate Bear Sterns, liquidate AiG,..." are good ideas. Well, maybe not so funny.

As wealth gets more and more concentrated, there has to come a point where the rest of us have so little stake in the system that the "next Great Depression" is no more scary than the status quo. The corporatists who insist on treating the country as their personal feudal domain and partying like it's 1789 must either have a very good escape plan or a very bad understanding of history.

Ian said...

"And finally on a scientific note we have the first extra-galactic solar system that may have been discovered. Scientists are puzzled as the star is a metal-poor star which should not have planets. I myself wonder if the planet might be an extra-solar capture... or possibly a brown dwarf star that never achieved critical mass."

Perhaps the high relative velocity during the capture of the star by our galaxy caused a shockwave in the interstellar gas causing compression and leadign ot planet formation.

Ian said...

A probably completely baseless bit of scientific speculation from a layman.

Most people here have probably seen the news about a real-life Maxwell's Demon which operates by converting information into energy.

So if one can extract energy by destroying information, is there an equivalent law that says the extraction of information requires the expenditure of energy?

And could this explain quantum uncertainty? Is there simply a limited amount of information one can extract from a particle which is determined by what fraction of the energy of the particle is available for conversion to information?

Another completely random speculation - the uncertainty principle says you can't simultaneously measure both the location and velocity of a particle.

If that's the case, how far apart do the measurements have to be in time?

I assuem the answer will realte to Planck's Constant.

Tacitus2 said...


I have been pondering your question. Recall, I have not yet made it out of Vegas, so having seen too many people who should not be wearing minis and fishnets may have warped my sensibilities.

Two points.

One is that no matter what we do there will be successful terrorist attacks. The jihadis are of varying intelligence, but highly motivated. And the law of averages can't be ignored. So the goal is to reduce the odds as far as possible, but you can't get to zero.

Secondly, anything the TSA does will get somebody mad. It just a question of who.

The difference between political approaches to these issues is largely to what extent do we allow, I might as well say it, profiling.

There is considerable ire, and I think not just among conservatives, at the notion that political correctness might increase the odds of a Fort Hood shooting or the Christmas Day event.

What I would like to see is a tiered system.

If you are willing to undergo a serious background check you can go into the preferred traveler class. Maybe 10% are randomly screened intensely, everyone else shows the retina scan and walks through. Flight crews do this now. Add frequent business travelers willing to participate.

The larger category is regular folks. Here everyone gets a quick behavioral screen and a mid level document check. One third go through the scanners. Allow agents a little discretion here perhaps.

A smaller category trip some preset triggers and go to full scrutiny. Yemen visas for instance. I get pulled aside when I board in England because I travel with only carry on bags (maybe that Egypt visa does something too).

We need to hire better quality screeners and both train and pay them better. Sure, you can have some gate drones running the machines, but I want somebody really sharp looking over the travelers in line.

I have a candidate. I went up to the casino bar the other night. Bartender looked at me and said "Sam Adams" correctly pegging me as a beer drinker who would scorn cheap swill.

The conservative position on unionizing TSA workers is a correlary. I want to be able to easily fire people. Incompentents. Drunks. Petty tyrants. Pedophiles. Frequenters of Jihadi websites.

Unionization would not make this easier in the conservative world view.

Standing in front of the scanner with my opinions fully exposed.


Hypnos said...

Regarding the Stern thing, that is the third time in this week that I see someone talking about the rest of the world ganging up on America.

The first time was a comment by Alan Drake on the oil drum, suggesting that as oil supply becomes scarce (due to peak oil), the G20 might decide to strike up an agreement with OPEC to the exclusion of America, given its complete unwillingness to reduce its oil consumption (peak oil mitigation and climate change mitigation are essentially the same thing, if you ignore coal).

Moves by the Fed to devalue the dollar via quantitative easing might also play a role.

The second time was speaking with my professor of Environmental Law, who is also an international barrister active in climate-change relative lawsuits. He said the vast majority of such lawsuits are taking place in America. Once a precedent for damages is established, it will again be easy for the rest of the world to pile up against America, as the only nation in the world not to have signed the Kyoto protocol, and not to have undertaken any significant climate change mitigation strategy at national level.

Now Nicholas Stern weighs in as well.

Mind it, I am not saying it will be "virtous world" versus "evil America". Just that the United States are making it really easy for the rest of the world to make it the scapegoat - and its per-capita fossil fuel consumption at three times the EU level certainly doesn't help.

America lost its moral standing in the world with the Iraq world, and it is losing its economic standing with the financial crisis.

If unreformed Republicans return to the White House, that could very well be the straw that brakes the camel back.

There will be a huge incentive for the rest of the world to decouple itself from an insane, raving and aggressive USA.

What do you think? How do you think this fits into Dr. Brin's conspiracy theory?

LarryHart said...


I suppose I should have said I wanted your opinion as a medical professional, since you didn't answer the question I was most interested--which of the options (scanning or groping) is preferable for my 9-yr-old daughter. My wife is very concerned about exposing a child to potentially-harmful radiation (this isn't even about the "nekkid pictures" aspect of the scanners). But I'M very concerned about having her groped in her sensitive areas. I honestly don't know which of the options to go with for this year's holiday travel.

TSA unions--yes, I understand conservatives want to fire incompetent workers. As long as YOU understand that conservatives also want to fire workers who demand their contractual and legal rights as employees.

I'm not against profiling because of political correctness, but there has to be a smart way of doing it. It's easy to say that all the inconvenience should be borne by those who appear Arab, but that will create a permanent undercalss of resentful travelers, plus it will FAIL to catch the next McVeigh. And the terrorists will simply recruit disaffected Aryans as mules. As I say, there has to be a smart way of doing it, but I don't claim to know what that way is.

BCRion said...

"hich of the options (scanning or groping) is preferable for my 9-yr-old daughter. My wife is very concerned about exposing a child to potentially-harmful radiation (this isn't even about the "nekkid pictures" aspect of the scanners)."

I'll try to opine as a nuclear & radiological professional. Note that I'll just focus on the radiation side and not the psychological impacts associated with the pat down of a 9 year old.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer. We know very little about actually how low-dose radiation impacts general health. There are models and assumptions, but these are all subject of controversy among scientists. If we strictly adhere to the Linear-No Threshold (LNT) hypothesis (which is not correct in the case of low doses), then avoid any unnecessary dose at all.

Note that the dose from several hours of flight (because of cosmic rays) is significantly greater than one x-ray backscatter screening. In other words, fly long enough, and the dose from the x-rays is not all that significant.

Now, there is a big question mark here about how the type of dose impacts longer term health effects. The backscatter x-ray technology deposits its dose quite locally, whereas the cosmic rays is more spread out over the entire body. Also, the dose is delivered in a very short interval versus spread out uniformly over a few hours.

Is a localized dose in a very short interval fundamentally different (from a health perspective) than an equivalent one distributed whole body over an extended period of time? To the best of my knowledge, we understand this even less than we understand the impact of low doses in general.

One thing to consider, however, is that the risks of driving to the airport and getting killed/injured in a car crash are orders of magnitude higher than anything from the radiation itself either in flight or from the screening. I know this is of little comfort and only makes the decision more murky; however, this is the state of the science and I'm afraid it provides little definitive guidance on this matter. The only definitive thing one can say is that the risks are small relative to those taken everyday.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Larry

Just to add my tuppence worth to the discussion about "Radiation Risk"
The TSA website details two technologies used
Millimeter Wave
This uses non ionizing radiation at low power levels (lower than cell phone)- I would not worry about this at all!

X Ray Backscatter
The TSA website says the amount of radiation is equivalent to two minutes of aeroplane flight (at altitude)
Asuming that they have done their sums correctly that sounds like an acceptable increase in risk

Tacitus2 said...

Oh, sorry.
Sure, there is medical info on this question, and it all begins in 1945.
Believe it or not, most of the info on pediatric cancer risk and radiation exposure comes from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the radiation dose could be calculated fairly precisely depending on where survivors were standing....and the follow up is unsurpassed.
In general, radiation exposure on the order of a chest xray or a cat scan of the head is not felt to be a signif. risk. 50 year follow up did not show statistically increased cancers from that dose.
The worst is cat scan of abdomen/pelvis where the soft tissues take a pretty high level. Long term the odds of a later malignancy are measurable. I usually tell people 1 or 2 per thousand with a lifelong follow up.
It factors in when you get parents of a visibly healthy looking kid wanting a cat scan for a belly ache of 18 months duration.
So, no, I would not worry about rad exposure to the occasional traveler from this sort of technology.
I guess I would go for the scan if the only alternative was a pat down that she might find creepy.
Hey, coming out of the scanner I noticed a penny on the floor. I pointed it out to the TSA agent and he gave it to me. So I officially come out in the black from my trip to Vegas!

David Smelser said...

What is the evidence that body scans or in custody pat downs"** are effective at reducing terrorist attempts to bring down air craft?

While I have no doubt that such scans have found items, what is the evidence that such items are:
a) items that would not have been caught using a sensitive metal detector (ceramic cooking knives do contain enough metal in the handle)
b) capable of bringing down the air craft?

Since we now have locked cabin door and an informed citizenry, does the terrorist carrying a box cutter into an airplane pose the same risk as it did pre-9/11?

It should be noted that such scanners do not detect explosives. Especially if hidden in an orifice.

** I'm calling this "in custody pat down" because police officers are only allowed to conduct such a search *after* you are arrested and are in custody.

Acacia H. said...

I don't think there is an explosive device small enough to be swallowed that is still potent enough to blow a hole in an aircraft. Of course, there is the horror factor of having someone burst open because of an explosion on a flight, and someone could have the person swallow biological contaminants (biowarfare) so that when the bomb explodes we've a "dirt biological bomb" of sorts, but even then the chances of getting effective contamination and infection of people is low.

There is a far better method of dealing with terrorists, but it costs more over the long run. You hire several armed guards to be on every single aircraft. Combined with locked cockpits (lined with kevlar so that bullets can't get through if a terrorist does wrestle a gun away from a guard), you end up with a situation where you don't have effective hostage-taking capabilities (sacrifice the one hostage for the sake of taking out the terrorist - and if you place guards at the front and back of the plane, then the terrorist can't hide nearly as effectively and could be taken out without serious harm to the hostage).

Of course, you also end up having to pay armed guards for every flight, which probably would cost a bit of money over time. And we'd have people complain about the "armed police state" we're in as a result.

Rob H.

David Smelser said...

Swallowing a bomb might be difficult, but the other end ....

A al-Qaeda-affiliated Saudi suicide bomber, carrying explosives in his anal cavity, managed to get close to the Saudi deputy interior minister and detonate himself (the minister was unharmed)


rewinn said...

Oh, great! Now TSA has to do body cavity searches.... just because one terrorist is a really big a-hole.

Maybe instead of hiring armed guards for every flight, the crew could hand out weapons to every adult. The result would be that in a highjacking, the armed non-terrorists would outnumber the terrorists by a very large number. Since loose firearms would probably be a bad idea on an aircraft, I would suggest tasers. Best of all: no more flights sitting three hours on the runway!

But "seriously" - It may be bloody-minded of me, but don't we have to look at air terrorism as having two very different main effects. Hijackings such as 9/11 can be prevented with fortified cockpits, and that (nearly) eliminates the chance of disaster involving thousands of deaths. Much harder, probably impossible to prevent, are bombings, which kill "only" hundreds of passengers at a time. I continue to be puzzled why AQ has not exploited obvious holes in our air freight systems, but perhaps their wealthiest backers aren't really interested in stopping air freight.

Tony Fisk said...

Hmmm...! Maybe he would have revised his plan after reading 'Kiln People' (which has a similar, and dissimilar, scene)?

LarryHart said...

Hey, coming out of the scanner I noticed a penny on the floor. I pointed it out to the TSA agent and he gave it to me. So I officially come out in the black from my trip to Vegas!

A really smart terrorist would have dosed that penny with neurotoxin and left it there for you to pick up on purpose.

Thanks to everyone for the advice on the scanner radiation. Sounds to me like the scanners are preferable to the pat-downs. I hope the wife agrees with that.

Acacia H. said...

Terrorism is about fear. There is little fear about having a freight aircraft blow up in the middle of a flight. Sure, pieces might fall onto people and hurt someone, but America is big. You don't get lots of casualties through random bombing unless passengers are involved.

I do have a simple solution for those people who don't want to undergo full body scans and the like: take a train. The trip takes longer but is less stressful and you get nice scenery along the way. ;) Best of all, if enough people start taking the train, maybe we'll see Republicans stop being assholes and actually start backing high-speed rail transit, as it will become the next "big business" to latch onto like lampreys.

Rob H.

rewinn said...

@Robert - you're right about the fear part. But a lot of freight goes by passenger plane and thoroughly screening every package doesn't happen - whether for technical or financial reasons, I can't say.

Let me second the train; the whole experience is a lot more enjoyable than flying. If we had high-speed rail instead of firebases throughout Asia ...

TwinBeam said...

US CO2 Emmisions

Nice chart of projected sea level rise impact

François Marcadé said...

I am involved inn the Airport Security business, that’s not all I do but I am in contact with most suppliers on the market. I can confirm that the amounts of radiation for which the X-ray Body Scanner are rated are very low, provided they are properly used and maintained. However, I am very suspicious of the claim of the claims that promotes the backscatter technologies. From another company that produces See-through X-ray body scanner and that is more believable in its communication, I know that a see-through scan produces as much Ionizing radiation as a 2 hours transatlantic flight (high altitude and high latitudes). In a first estimate I would say that a Backscatter is more likely to produce as much as 10 to 12 minutes (rather than 2). On the other hand, millimetric wave body scanners are using non-Ionizing radiation and should be as safe as the WiFi router at home. The problem with mm-waves is that although you can clearly see if there are layers between the skin and the cloth (or amid the clothes), It is hard to make-up a shape and it will give more false positive (where frisking will be required). Back-scatter X-ray Scanners produce a much better image (which leads to more privacy concerns).
I believe very strongly that there is a good reason why the screening as it is currently done is a good idea, but for indirect reasons that I can not express on a public forum. It has nothing to do with these body scanners giving me more work; they are not very popular here, I have not been asked to install any recently.

sociotard said...

Cross posted from another forum, this guy was commenting on a plan to privatize airport security. I thought his counter proposal was kind of nice:

Senator So-and-So (R, YourState) wants to get rid of the TSA so that private companies can conduct those self-same types of searches. Private companies which (of course) were big campaign donors of his. "This is an example of free enterprise at work," says Senator Whoosit (R, HomeOfTheBrave). "Private companies will be impelled by the free market to do better than the TSA."

Um, dude? No. That's not how the free market works. Giving a 5 or 10-year contract to the biggest campaign donor is not "Free Market" anything, no matter how you friggin' define it. You want free market competition in the airport security business? Set up three or four different lines at the airport check-in, each one run by a different company. Passengers can choose which security line they want to give their business to -- "Do I choose the one that's the fastest, or the least intrusive, or the cheapest?" You might even keep track of which one lets the fewest terrorists through per year. Let 'em compete for a few years, and see which business model falters and which one thrives. That's free enterprise. That's capitalism. What you're talking about ain't even close.

Ian said...

The Economist has an intereactive map showing the Human Development Index for each US state.

Interestingly there's a pretty close correlation between low HDI and states that voted Republican in 2008 and 2010.

Not sure abotu the direction of causality though.

Do Republican governments result in a lower standard of living or does living in states with a lot of poverty and poor education systems make people more likely to vote Republican.

Tony Fisk said...

It would be interesting to see if that broke down into smaller areas.

Meanwhile, it would seem that the Tea party's next bagging target is... town planning (a global conspiracy, UN Agenda 21, to trample American liberties and force citizens into Orwellian "human habitation zones.")

What our own Mary Drost is going to do with this is anyone's guess!

ousteles: an ancient Grecian official charged with serving eviction notices.

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Unknown said...


So if one can extract energy by destroying information, is there an equivalent law that says the extraction of information requires the expenditure of energy?

If I understand correctly, physical law requires that a certain amount of usable energy be transformed into entropy in order for computation to occur. So there's a physical limit for how cool or efficient a processor can be.

I've always wondered whether the second law of thermodynamics is really a law, or just an incredibly strong statistical probability.

When people explain entropy, they often use the example of a box with one kind of gas on one side, another kind of gas on the other, and a divider in the middle. When the divider is removed, the atoms on each side irreversibly mix.

Only is it irreversible? In a closed system where no momentum is lost(?) it seems like the atoms would eventually - sometime between now and forever - return to their original positions. That would have some interesting philosophical implications.

Brendan said...

More on the TSA.

Adam Savage went through the full body scanners recently. Hear his story.


electronic cigarettes said...

Maybe instead of hiring armed guards for every flight, the crew could hand out weapons to every adult. The result would be that in a highjacking, the armed non-terrorists would outnumber the terrorists by a very large number. Since loose firearms would probably be a bad idea on an aircraft, I would suggest tasers. Best of all: no more flights sitting three hours on the runway!

Acacia H. said...

Here's a little science-based humor in webcomic form - sadly I can't link the direct comic yet, so if you try to click the link in a couple of days (it's 11/24/2010) you'll have to backtrack to see the joke.

Enjoy! ^^ (Though Freefall has to be one of the most interesting mostly-hard science fiction comics I've come across, along with being one of the longest continually-updating webcomics I've found.)

Rob H.

BCRion said...

As far as justification for all this added airport security, it really is not considering the incredibly low risk of a successful terrorist hijacking. As David Brin said, today, such things would be almost impossible because should terrorists try this again, they will have to contend with a plane full of expectant passengers.

As for traveling by air today, this far everything has been pretty smooth with just about everyone being more polite than usual even to the TSA personnel. I suspect a lot of this outcry has produced much sympathy for the low-level TSA workers as, after all, they are just doing their jobs.

Rob said...

More to the point, @BCRion, the TSA completely ignores the fact that in both the shoe-bomber's case and the underwear-bomber's, *they failed*, in each case due to a combination of ineptitude and passenger vigilance.

It's as though the TSA wants to shelter air passengers from having to deal with the madmen in the first place. That's laudable, until it becomes clear that in both cases, security screening took place outside the United States. No amount of domestic groping will have stopped either of them.

It would have been less invasive to passengers to require airlines to refit their lavatories with 15 minute timers and chemical trace detectors, and impose flight crew procedures that have attendants knocking on the door when the timer goes off.

David Brin said...

Sarah Palin on Glenn Beck's radio show, saying, "This speaks to a bigger picture here that certainly scares me in terms of our national security policy. But obviously we've gotta stand with our North Korean allies."

Tim H. said...

Douglas Adams said that the role of president wasn't to wield power, but distract attention away from power. Miz Palin could do that well. Be afraid.

David Brin said...

Oh, a reader just wrote to me about EARTH.

"Just finished EARTH. I haven't enjoyed any science fiction as much in quite some time.

"Reading it now, twenty one years in, it looks like a nifty prediction of Google and I laughed aloud when there was a reference to twittering small bits of data. (Quick make a copy write claim:) I thought I had marked that page but can't find it now. Somewhere in the five hundreds."

Dang! Can anybody help me find that passage? It's worth more than a brag... and a listing at

TwinBeam said...

The "North" part of Palin's statement seems to be distracting everyone from the empty BS of the rest of her statement.

TwinBeam said...

Best 3 word criticism of the TSA I've seen:

TSA Kills Americans

(By convincing people to drive rather than fly.)

Tony Fisk said...

It's either an attempt at placatory diplomacy, or 'The Idea of North'.

(Oooh! That gal! Enjoy the laughs, while you can!)

I will check the 'twitter' reference out (or update the reference if anyone finds it first).

(I've always been amused by the piles of data plaques that covered every flat workspace in Jen Wolling's 'paperless' office!)

kaird: your emotional state after the 's' has been scared out of you.

LarryHart said...

Just in time for the holiday weekend--finished reading Asimov through "Foundation and Earth".

Next in line: Dr Brin's "Foundation's Triumph"!

Happy Thanksgiving.

John Kurman said...

More Stupid Sarah, on Hannity, responding to Karl Rove's complaint about her reality show: "And where it is I'm coming from, when I talk about some interjection of my life into pop culture, he needs to understand that pop culture is the influencer in this country in our society. So we are to be salt and light. We're not to just be sitting there in our own little circle of influence and though the Fox News viewership is huge, larger than any other news organization of course, just preaching to the choir with Fox viewers? No, we need to get out there and reach people who are so independent that perhaps they would never think to tune in to Fox News and introduce some good ideas to these people".

Acacia H. said...

That's actually one of the more intelligent things she said. The thing to recall is this: Republicans don't think their failed ideas are stupid (or even failed). They think that their ideas are the only right path for the nation and want to force them down the throats of everyone else.

What Palin is talking about there is the use of pop-culture to inject their rightist views on the rest of the country in the belief that when exposed to the "right" ideas, non-Republicans will become Enlightened and realize that Republicans are correct and will vote them into office in droves.

Rove on the other hand is anti-big-tent. He wants the Republican party to be a pure group that works in lockstep and follows orders. Unfortunately, the more power the Republicans get, the more fragmented they become. Political power gains are actually harmful to the Republican ability to obstruct government.

Or I might just need to stop writing late at night when I'm falling asleep here. ^^;;

Rob H., who's still interested in what Dr. Brin has to say about his comments on black holes and virtual particles (if, as a friend suggested in response to my comment, virtual particles recombine with their virtual anti-particles because of probability enforcing it, then I still can't see how an event horizon would interfere with that recombination because probability would direct the particle through the event horizon to recombine with the anti-particle)

Tim H. said...

Tom DeLay - Guilty!

Catfish N. Cod said...

Rob, I can answer your question about Hawking radiation pretty easily. Hope you don't mind me pre-empting our distinguished host.

You don't actually have to invoke the nuclear forces or odd probability arguments derived from Quantum (as Prachett, Cohen, and Stuart put it) to attract most newborn particles to their anti-sibling. The strongest force that shall act to do so, by many orders of magnitude.... is simple high school electrical attraction.

Antiparticles have opposite charge. An antiproton has -1 charge; a positron, +1 (hence the name). Their equal attraction by good ol' Coulomb's law will pull them together and induce re-annihilation... UNLESS something prevents the interplay of electromagnetism that powers that attractive force. Something that would retard the photons that carry the electromagnetic force from one particle to another.

Something like the event horizon of a black hole, for instance. In fact, the ability to do that is the DEFINITION of an event horizon. So the EM pair connections, at least, will certainly be severed on one falling into the hole.

I don't know if that's the full explanation of Hawking radiation; in fact, since it doesn't apply to neutral particles, I am fairly sure it is not. But it is enough to explain at least the mere existence of such radiation.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and Hawking radiation doesn't violate C of E. The black hole loses mass equal to the escaped particle PLUS the escape energy of the particle. This is why Hawking radiation eventually dissolves black holes. The smaller the hole, the easier it is to escape it; that's why the LHC can't make a black hole that will destroy the Earth.

It would take a much bigger collider to do THAT.

Sleep tight!