Saturday, June 30, 2018

At first light: Amazing cosmological discoveries

First an announcement or two: 

The Hubble Space Telescope has found the most distant "ordinary" star observed, at 9 billion light-years away, through gravitational lensing. The gravitational lens phenomenon has fast transformed from a cosmic wonder to an almost daily, workman’s tool for deep space astronomers, and no longer are the lenses just giant galactic clusters. "A single star in a foreground lens, if precisely aligned with a background star, can magnify the background star thousands of times." In this case, instead of the usual 50x or so amplification, this event was ballooned 2000+ times.  "There are alignments like this all over the place as background stars or stars in lensing galaxies move around, offering the possibility of studying very distant stars dating from the early universe, just as we have been using gravitational lensing to study distant galaxies."

New estimate: there might be around 10,000 isolated black holes and between 300 and 500 binary black hole systems—two-object star systems in which one of the components is a black hole—within three light-years of the monster-mega BH at the Galactic Center.  It’s starting to look ever more like Gregory Benford’s Galactic Center science fiction universe.

I've been asked to explain the announced discovery of light from among the very earliest stars, and what it implies. Bear with me? As it happens, the light that strikes the Earth (and our telescopes and eyes) comes from a lot of different eras. Only a small amount of it comes from stars. It took light from the nearest stars four years to get here. From the Andromeda Galaxy, it took 2.57 million years. We have photographed galaxies whose light took more than ten billion years to reach us.

But the oldest light isn't even light at all. It has been stretched by the universal expansion, till it is weak stuff... radio waves. And everywhere we point our radio telescopes, we can detect the same thing, a low hum at three degrees above absolute zero... the Cosmic Background Radiation, the oldest remnants of the Big Bang, almost 14 billion years ago.

We cannot see (or hear) the Bang itself because there was an epoch when the still-very-compact universe was too hot for atoms to form out of ions and electrons. No light survived that era. Only then, the electrons and ions joined up -- about 380,000 years after the Bang -- and suddenly light could travel great distances. Much of it is still out there... till it hits our telescopes!

Actually, it's more complicated than that. It seems the universe cooled enough to allow light to travel, then briefly ionized again from the earliest starbursts,-- which blocked much of the light, again -- then cooled again! It is that 2nd cooling event that altered the background light in the sky. That event, about 180 million years after the Bang, is called the Cosmic Dawn. And traces of that event (and perhaps another one, 80 million years later) that Australian scientists are reporting.

This new discovery is about that Transition Era, when stars were just being born for the first time.

"The detection also contained a major surprise. The size of the dip was twice as big as predicted. This suggests the primordial hydrogen gas was absorbing more background radiation than predicted and would suggest the universe was significantly colder than previously thought, at about -270C.... Rennan Barkana, a professor of astrophysics at Tel Aviv University, proposes a potentially groundbreaking explanation: that the hydrogen gas was losing heat to dark matter."

== Seeding solar systems with needs for life? Or disturbing them? ==

Many people first grew aware of our next resource crisis – Phosphorus – on the pages of my novel, EXISTENCE, wherein I posited that Morocco and Iraq (with the biggest deposits) become the OPEC states of a new kind of scarcity. It takes one ton of phosphate-rich rock to make 130 tons of grain, and the U.S. has mostly used-up its once-rich ores in Florida. Of the six most important elements in Life, Phosphorus is by far the least common.

Now astronomers are seeking to discover if this may be an even wider problem. Preliminary indications show that Phosphorus may be scanty in the supernova clouds that seed solar systems.  Might Earth have been exceptionally lucky and rich in the stuff?  Might this help explain the “Fermi Paradox”?  

More to the point of science fiction thrillers, might “P-stealing” propel the next wave of alien invasion plots?

== Extending our vision ==

Europe’s GAIA spacecraft has mapped and done parallax on 1.7 billion stars, giving us  the exact brightness, distances, motions and colors in a huge data set and detailed map of our section of the Milky Way.  The information will yield the best three-dimensional map of our galaxy ever.

Three young protoplanetary suns have been found to have dust rich in nanodiamonds.

Scholz’s Star visited the outer reaches of our Solar System some 70,000 years ago, around the same time our ancestors left Africa. A dim red dwarf star with a brown dwarf companion, it came to within 0.8 light-years of our Sun, possibly perturbing the cometary cloud. It’s now about 20 light-years away. An excellent, detailed article about cosmic sleuthing.

In 2016 a super-flare of Proxima Centauri made the smallest star in the Alpha Centauri system – the nearest visible star to us (that’s not the sun) – brighten many-fold. It likely seared the Earth sized planet that’s been detected there.  The flare was detected by the Evryscope, a nightly sky survey telescope that connects 24 consumer-grade camera lenses to look for transient events and transiting planets.

The Lagoon Nebula is a "colossal object" that's 55 light-years in width and 20 light-years in height. “Even though it is about 4,000 light-years away from Earth, it is three times larger in the sky than the full Moon." Come for an inspiring dive into this marvel, through Hubble imagery. And build a civilization whose descendants will do it for real….

The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft took terrific measurements of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in 2014 along with the first real life landing on a comet. (In fiction, Mark Twain did it, then me and Greg Benford, in Heart of the Comet.)  Now see this incredible video of snow and stars and eerie terrain a wee bit more complicated than I predicted in my doctoral thesis… but verifying the main ideas!

These German physicists claim that bending light can have effects on gravitation, an inverse to how gravity can bend light. I am very skeptical! And it will take generations for our instruments to be sensitive enough to detect any effect in experiments. Still, for just a few of you, this nifty video abstract, with animations could be entertaining. 


Ahcuah said...

I'm not sure why you're skeptical. That looks like a pretty standard (though original) theoretical application of General Relativity to me.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Considering that the LIGO interferometer had to calibrate for all sorts of odd terrestrial interference, some as mundane as 'Michael starts up his Harley', before it detected gravity waves, I wouldn't be surprised if we have a way to go before we can experimentally test this hypothesis.

Anonymous said...

“Maybe willful ignorance is the only way to live now”

The situation is terrible. Yes.
The psychological shock was less for me, because in Mexico the political deception used by the extreme right is something everyday that is well that is an enigma for ordinary people.
But the fact that we finally discover that the feudal lords are in control, that's no excuse to give up; because that is precisely what the right-wing thugs want: They want us to be discouraged and do nothing to change the situation. How convenient it would be for the enemies of mankind for the heroes to give up!
Now that maybe you mean to take a break, and not to surrender.
After taking a break; listening to glorious music; the mind can see fantastic options that some patriots could choose.
If indeed people tend to follow the classic paths in political procedures, often (as now) you will notice that those of the minions of the tyrants have already blocked in advance, all the options of their opponents. However, tyrants can not foresee actions that are totally unusual; unlikely and are often called crazy. And that is the crack in the wall of tyranny that Americans should look for. And once a patriot finds some solution that seems mind-boggling, but perhaps viable and morally applicable to tyrants; In that case, it is a matter of simply acting. As the slogan of tennis Nike says: Just do it.
Now that if we had the artifact of .. "Infinite Improbability Drive" the matter would be simpler .... Perhaps they are more willing to play with a certain time device? ...

Tomorrow is the elections in Mexico. Those on the far right have thrown their thugs against the people. Since the electoral process began in Mexico, 133 candidates for political posts have been murdered. And the whole process is full of irregularities and obvious procedures that have turned these elections into a combination of magic trick and impositions instead of elections.
¡Courage Larry!. Mexico is about 500 times worse than the American political system. Your country can still be saved. (Mexico no, here is a matter of "Save yourself who can" and something else)
In the United States, you have to endure a tyrant for four years. Us For 8 years !. And in eight years, a spider can create millions of nests of thugs-vermin, infesting everything.
Watch Mexico; because what happens here is what sooner or later ends up happening in the United States.


Anonymous said...

“I am excluding those who are only crafty by mere malice”
Another translation error. I did not mean "Skillful"; I meant, perverts. (In reference to workers who are gay only out of malice)


Anonymous said...

I bet they were wondering: How the hell is there so many people with diabetes?
Well, the following article explains ... And that smells like conspiracy:


Anonymous said...

Ho. Yes. I noticed. That is not the issue. Well ...... Hummm. Match!
Yes. All right. If the problem is that the phosphorus is running out, then we might well look for the apatite ore in the hydrothermal veins of the moon Enceladus. (An excellent excuse to start the colonization of Enceladus).


duncan cairncross said...

Running out of Phosphorus

We are NOT running out of Phosphorous -
we still have all of the phosphorous we started with

What we are doing is dumping our phosphorus in places where it may be difficult to get it back

When you think of it like that the whole problem changes

David Brin said...

Winter7, there is another way to interpret your crisis in Mexico… as your version of the 1960s, as crime skyrocketed amid the developing of a young and educated middle class and as many parts of society began demanding militant justice. We too thought everything was spinning out of control.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ in the previous comments:

I'd bet big money you were rapidly constructing a model of her mind in your head in order to comprehend her in that moment.

She was saying things like, "I don't know if it's worth going on," which could have merely been a reference to looking for romance, but I also wondered if she was thinking of ending it all. Having had such thoughts myself in the past, I'm sure I was projecting, but just because you're projecting doesn't mean that's not what she's thinking about.

I don't usually enter into intimate personal conversations with acquaintances, but it seemed like the right thing to not only show some empathy, but to make clear that those dark, hidden thoughts weren't so secret after all.

An Act Of Love. 8)

With all due respect to my wife and our marriage vows...yeah.

If you've read Kurt Vonnegut's anecdote about the beautiful woman behind the counter at the post office in Timequake, you might just understand.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | How does repealing 'most of them' sound

Sounds unachievable. Do you like setting up goals that ensure failure?

How about picking something specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely?

I’ll offer one as an example. Feel free to offer your own instead.

Goal | The ‘State’ is stripped of authority to execute its citizens within 10 years.

There are a number of ways to do this, but any of them that reach this goal should be on the table initially. We would remove ones that would cost us too many potential allies. (e.g. Overthrow the government and change the Constitution.)

Getting the State to choose not to execute wouldn’t be enough as they might still feel they have the authority. Many of our fellow citizens might agree that they do. However, if that proves to be the achievable goal within 10 years, I’d settle for it. Stripping authority could wait for the next decade.

If I put this on the table and asked for your help pulling it off, what would you want as one of your ‘repeal most of them’ laws trying to improve humanity?

The one I want isn’t about improving us since I’m not actually opposed to certain people dying for what they do. I’m interested in getting us out of the habit of delegating the dirty deed of actually killing them. We don’t tolerate having the State convict us of crimes (jury required), so I don’t see why we should tolerate them executing us either.

LarryHart said...


It might help to know that there are two competing memes fighting for control of my soul at the moment. One is the glavers' path of redemption, which (in case you're not familiar with the second Uplift trilogy) means sloughing off the news and politics and reverting back to willful ignorance of the world beyond the immediate. The other competing meme is best exemplified here by donzelion--redouble the fight when things seem hopeless.

Neither paradigm has vanquished the other quite yet.

David Brin said...

Okay guys. Sorry about this, but our miraculous invulnerability to trolls seems to have evaporated. Some fellow has been dumping spam or junk into the comments sections of all my blogs. (Arabic name and content, but that's easy enough for Kremlin or confederate lint-keepers to fake.)

This means that... for the time being... I'm going to have to make this comment area members only. Sign in to comment. I hope this doesn't repel anyone who values conversation.

Larry Hart said...

Ok, now I can at least post with a Google login. Last night, I thought I would have the dubious honor of the last post ever on Contrary Brin.

I hope this blog can continue as a community. I've got a lot of years invested here already. :)

locumranch said...

Nomenclature is "a set or system of names or terms, as those of a particular science or art," used for the express purpose of investigation, discussion & control. Naming things is how we make sense of the universe. Naming is also the hallmark of Magic, as the practice of Naming (aka 'Summoning') was once thought synonymous with the Creative Act previously referred to as 'Logos'.

Naming things, as exemplified by terms like 'dark matter', 'gravitational lensing' or 'transition era', does NOT necessarily constitute either understanding or control of said thing, as in the case of the thing that we call 'dark matter' being an unilluminated unknown that we cannot see in more or less than same way that we cannot see objects stored in an inaccessible, dark & windowless room.

Yet, by the very act of Naming the unknown quantity that we call 'dark matter', we assume that we know & understand the nature of this thing, even though we have already admitted that this thing is an unknown quantity, allowing us to pretend that we know what we do not know.

And, when we use the so-called 'gravitational lens' -- which results from a process we do not fully understand -- we can see illuminated images which no longer represent our current reality by virtue of being emitted from stars long dead, so we may observe the illuminated images of a long-dead reality that we may neither experience nor know.

Naming is not the same as knowing.


Alternative Goal: Executive Authority is taken from the State & returned to the Citizen; the Citizen orders the State; and the State obeys the Citizen.

David Brin said...

" Naming is also the hallmark of Magic,.." Yes, very human. Magical (and zero-sum) thinking all-too easily dominated almost every dismal human civilization. God asks Adam to Name the Beasts as the first indication we were made (in His image) to be co-creators.

"Yet, by the very act of Naming the unknown quantity that we call 'dark matter', we assume that we know & understand the nature of this thing"

Nope. Again, the sort of dismal-squinting, zero-sum assuming that others' thought processes are as limited as your own.

David Brin said...

Again... sorry folks! This is one of the best and oldest communities on the Web and we've miraculously escaped spam-trolls so long with unlimited anonymous entry. But I've been forced (at last, alas) to make members sign in (for now) using Google. Perhaps I'll be able to pull back, later.

Roll call! pipe-in if it's working!

Winter7 said...

I have not gone to vote yet. Yesterday thousands of ballots were stolen. (It is evident the use that will be given to these ballots)
I learned that the Americans held mass marches to protest against the separation of the children from the immigrants who are arrested. On behalf of the people of Mexico; I thank all those who participated in the protest marches. The noble and great effort made by the American people shows that Donald Trump does not represent the true moral values of the American people.
Americans, thanks to all of you, for defending everything that is worth living for.
Thank you.

Deuxglass said...

I have noticed that the upcoming meme is that we are the first intelligent life and that the Galaxy or maybe even the Universe is ripe for our taking. Once again we are at the center of the Universe and I find it puzzling because frankly we know so little yet some, perhaps many, scientists are beginning to accept the possibility that effectively we are alone. Of course absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence nevertheless you have to hold on to something when you have no evidence and perhaps this new idea fits the bill.

If I believe Roger Penrose, scientists and their theories are subject to fads when evidence is scanty albeit less than those in the less intellectual classes so why not come back to Humanity as the Center and the Measure of All Things as has been the case throughout history except for the last 100 years or so. If we are the first ones then why not be the Progenitors and make the Galaxy in our image?

To do that we will have to revive the idea of Manifest Destiny or something along that line. Humans are very good at inventing new physical tools but also invent philosophical and religious tools that give justification to what we want to do anyway. If this meme takes hold then I would expect an explosion of reasoning from many sources where exploration for solely scientific reasons takes a back seat to a general cultural imperative to expand. There are so many examples in history of just that happening. Presently our mind-sets are not quite there. There is a piece missing and that I suppose would be described as the aggressive urge to conquer for lack of a better term, and that it is our Destiny to rule the stars. It will come but under what form I have no idea but it will come.

Deuxglass said...

It's a good decision to insist that we use a real account. By the way I was also known as Deuxglass.

Cari Burstein said...

I rarely post, but I'm fine with requiring sign-in for comments. Spam is insidious these days- I have shut down 2 forums I used to run in the past because the work required to keep the spammers out proved not worth the effort relative to the actual valid use of the forum.

Larry Hart said...

@Douglass Fenton aka deuxglass, and anyone else who regularly uses a nym,

If the pseudonym you post under feels like a part of your identity, there's nothing wrong with signing your post with it in the text, as Winter7 used to do.

Larry Hart said...

Ok, a purely Brin/sci-fi question.

So it's pretty obvious that I'm re-reading the entire original Foundation trilogy, right? Toward the end of Second Foundation, when Arcadia is on Trantor and hears about the Foundation at war, there's a mention of a rout at (emphasis mine), "The sparsely-sunned Ifni sector."

I always thought "Ifni" was just a Brin name. Is that a real astronomical term, or one that is in more general use in sci-fi? I was just surprised to see it in that context.

Larry Hart said...

Bill Maher's full episodes aren't on line--I think you have to be a subscriber to see them--but he and guest Michael Moore pulled no punches this last weekend. Maher said he's never before claimed to be a Democrat or a Republican, but that in these times we live in today, one must make a choice, and "Right now, I am a Democrat." Michael Moore sounded even more desperate, insisting that if We The People don't take our democracy back, it ain't going to save itself.

Apparently, Moore has a new film coming out before the election called Fahrenheit 11/9, playing off his earlier film reference to 9/11. 11/9 being the day after Election Day in 2016, when we all realized who was to be our next president.

This is just me, but 11/9 is also the date of Krystalnacht, and because Europeans generally put the date first and the month second, that date in Germany would have been called "9/11".

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

@Larry Hart

This isn't a blanket endorsement of Maher or Moore, but RTwBM has a Youtube account and the content you mention is up there.

@David Brin

G+ is in a constant state of flux, in terms of spam. E.g the *SEX SEX SEX* account variants, et al. This is a nice little quiet corner you folks have here.

Dennis M Davidson said...

On naming and nomenclature.
Yes, of course naming is not knowing. However, a nomenclature with its names is part of the process of identifying things in the world. This then allows for efficient communication about those named objects or things. Once identified, we can measure things, analyze them, characterize, discuss, describe, debate and so on in a systematic, organized fashion toward a provisional approach to knowing.

duncan cairncross said...

Testing - see if it works now

duncan cairncross said...

Thats better!
It would not let me post at all yesterday

Larry Hart said...

Jon Eckberg:

This is a nice little quiet corner you folks have here.

I hope that isn't followed by, "It'd be a shame if something were to happen to it." :)

David Brin said...

Glad many of you are checking in:

LH: I am a foremost Asimovia scholar (had to become one!) But I do not recall the “Ifni Sector.” It seemed a logical shortening of “Infinity.”

Deuxglass, thanks for signing in. Alas, this time you are showing how tendentious logic-policing can erupt at the left, too. So a few people are pushing “we’re the first?” Bee… efff…deee. Your interpretation that it is the entire clade of scientists is prejudiced malarkey. A vast majority remain eager contact fans. And even those who are talking about the Fermi Paradox being a steep-late filter are mostly environmentalists who would deem us unworthy to step forth till we’ve cleaned up and saved… Earth…

(Um… ever heard of a novel by that name? ;-)

Tacitus said...

Guess I was ahead of the curve "decloaking" to my real name a year ago.


Unknown said...

@Larry Hart

I wouldn't defile the comment section of my adopted mentor.

Instead of reading that in a Jerzy accent, read it like a shy English gentleman looking to join a discussion. I'm looking for places like this to avoid gangsterism and the like.

duncan cairncross said...

Re Alien Life

I believe most scientists would absolutely LOVE to see signs of alien life

But the more we look at the universe and see no signs of intelligent life the more difficult it becomes to believe in the idea of a universe with oodles of intelligent beings

David Brin said...

Jon Eckberg you are welcome here.

Unknown said...

Thank you David Brin.

Just so you know, I'm not English. I was trying to reprogram Larry Hart's accent inference.

Larry Hart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

But the more we look at the universe and see no signs of intelligent life the more difficult it becomes to believe in the idea of a universe with oodles of intelligent beings

I wonder, though, at the assumption that intelligence would necessarily produce either radio transmissions or space flight. If the universe were populated by such things as dolphins and whales, how would we ever notice?

Larry Hart said...

Jon Eckberg:

Just so you know, I'm not English. I was trying to reprogram Larry Hart's accent inference.

Ok, just so you know, that was not so much an inference as an attempt at humor.

Larry Hart said...

I'm too exhausted to comment. Charles Blow speaks for himself:


But no amount of moralizing from Trump’s opposition will affect the fervor of his supporters. Quite the opposite: Nothing quickens the pulse and induces the delight of conservatives more than the consternation of liberals. They would let the whole country collapse for the pleasure of spite.


Last week, an exasperated Representative Trey Gowdy lashed out at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, saying, “Whatever you got, finish it the hell up, because this country is being torn apart.”

But that’s like blaming the doctor for your illness. The investigators aren’t tearing the country apart. They are trying to protect and save it.

Trump and his defense machine — including members of Congress — are tearing it apart.

Trump-addicted acolytes are tearing it apart.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Same Trey Gowdy who led seven different investigations into the Benghazi nothingburger. Apparently that didn't tear apart the country because anyone with half a brain realised it was nothing but malicious Republican posturing.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I'll rejoin the email subscription. I had to bail because my mail box was flooded by some Arab nut trying to sell me carpets. Let you know if I get any more.

Zepp Jamieson said...

It looks like Amlo is the winner, with between 43 and 49% of the vote, with his nearest rival (who has already conceded) at about 23%. Further, his party has five of the nine governorships.
Lot's of hope and trepidation here. He talks a good game, but his sincerity is open to question. I've heard him described as a Mexican version of Trump, which would be appalling if true.
Doctor Brin, I think you trivialise Mexico's problems when you compare them the America of the 60s. Any element of the 60s you care to mention is being replicated ten-fold in Mexico; mass murder of students by police, assassinations, truly horrific crime in some areas, and incredible corruption.
Perhaps you could compare it to the America of the 2020s...

Alfred Differ said...

Executive Authority is taken from the State & returned to the Citizen; the Citizen orders the State; and the State obeys the Citizen.

That one doesn't even make sense. Which citizen? Most of us are busy living our lives and prefer not to direct the affairs of state. It's kinda the point for hiring an executive in the first place. Ditto for legislators.

C'mon dude. Try something that makes sense. Give it more than a few seconds of thought.
Give me something besides a shallow incantation. [The capitalized words are a dead give away.]

Winter7 said...

Larry Hart:
Larry At the end of the following list is what you mention. (The origin of this list is unclear) :
Foundation 202FE-FE
202 Siwenna becomes the first province to pass directly from the Empire's political rule to the Foundation's economic one.
203 Cleon II dies.
220 Lathan Devers dies in the slave mines.
220 Democratic Underground formed on Terminus.
240 Franssart Darrell born.
260 The Great Sack. Emperor flees to Neotrantor.
270 The Mule born.
274 Bail Channis born.
276 Bayta Darrell born on Terminus.
290 The Mule begins his rise to power.
291 Franssart Darrell loses an arm in a spaceship crash.
294 Toran Darrell leaves Haven to study on Terminus. Met Bayta.
294 The Mule overthrows the Warlord of Kalgan.
??? Toran and Bayta marry.
297 (Seldon's birthday) Toran and Bayta arrive on Haven.
297 Toran and Bayta visit Kalgan and, with Han Pritcher, abduct Magnifico.
297 Fifth appearance of Seldon in the Time Vault
297 The Mule captures the Foundation and totally disrupts the Seldon Plan.
297 Toran, Bayta and Ebling Mis attempt to locate the Second Foundation
298 Association of Independent Traders declare war on the Mule.
298 Bayta Darrell kills Ebling Mis.
298 The Mule forms the Union of Worlds comprising 1/10th of the Galaxy's volume and 1/15th of its population.
298-302 The Mule commissions five expeditions in search of the Second Foundation.
299 Second Foundation begins to set up the appearance of Tazenda as its home.
301 The Mule first detects Second Foundation tampering of his high officials.
302 Han Pritcher and Bail Channis lead a sixth expedition in search of the Second Foundation.
302 The Mule destroys Tazenda.
302 The Mule is adjusted to accept defeat by the Second Foundation.
305 The Mule signs a declaration of neutrality and statement of friendship with Sayshell.
307 The Mule dies.
307 The Foundation declares its independence from the Union and Worlds and reinstates free elections.
307 Han Pritcher succeeds the Mule as First Citizen and lays siege to the Foundation.
308 Foundation siege broken after the arrival of food shipments from Santanni.
309 Preem Palver born.
331 Kol Benjoam born.
343 Toran Darell II born.
347 Pelleas Anthor born.
351 Preem Palver becomes First Speaker.
356 Homir Munn has a romantic encounter with Unimara.
356 Toran Darell II marries.
358 Toran Darell II visits Trantor in order to find the Second Foundation.
360 Kol Benjoam becomes First Speaker.
362 11th May. Arkady Darell born on Trantor.
365 Arkady Darell's mother dies.
365 Arkady Darell taken to Terminus by her father.
365 Toran Darrell II begins collaboration with Kleise.
370 Toran Darrell II ends collaboration with Kleise.
370 Foundation begins mentallic shield development.
376 Admiral Stettin declares himself First Citizen of the Union.
376 Arkady Darell visits Kalgan with Homir Munn.
376 Kalgan conduct "war games" on the border with the Foundation.
376 Arkady Darell escapes Kalgan.
376 Start of the Stettinian War
376 Foundation squadron trapped and wiped out in the Ifni sector. Only the Ebling Mis escapes.
377 Battle of Quoriston.
377 Stettinian War ends.

Jon S. said...

I'm just a little worried that Randall Munroe might have hit the nail on the head here...

Alfred Differ said...

Gowdy led those investigations because he felt DoJ wouldn't. As a congress-critter, he was entirely within his rights to waste our time with his political crap.

Brow-beating Rosenstein isn't.

I just HAVE to wonder how difficult it is to indict a congress-critter for obstruction of justice. Leak that evidence to the investigation's target? Bam! Use your oversight powers intentionally to adversely impact an active criminal investigation? Bam!

Time to drag some of the @$@# in to testify to the Grand Jury.

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred Differ,

I hope you're finally seeing where I'm coming from with the sense that our current administration is illegitimate. They might not be technically violating the law, but that's because they're fixing what the law is for their own purposes. Gowdy's rights are whatever the Trump DOJ says they are. Justice is whatever the Trump supreme court says it is. Republican states are free to keep pesky voters off of the rolls. Public opinion is whatever FOX News paints it as.

The time is approaching for a Gordian Knot/Watchmen solution.

Tony Fisk said...

Testing: does the mongoose have a green beacon?

Twominds said...

Twominds is testing too.

Twominds said...

Little time, but I'm going to leave this here:

And going to find an NL/EU relevant topic to apply it to.

locumranch said...

A hypocritical Larry_H whinges about the apparent 'illegality' & the disaster that he believes the pending conservative dominance of SCOTUS to be, yet he has little or nothing to say about the disaster that was the previously liberal-dominated SCOTUS of yesteryear, so I will let a liberal President Obama chime in on the subject:

APRIL 29, 2010

WASHINGTON — In a seeming rejection of liberal orthodoxy, President Obama has spoken disparagingly about liberal victories before the Supreme Court in the 1960s and 1970s — suggesting that justices made the “error” of overstepping their bounds and trampling on the role of elected officials.

Mr. Obama made his remarks Wednesday night against a backdrop of recent Supreme Court rulings in which conservative justices have struck down laws favored by liberals, most notably a January ruling that nullified restrictions on corporate spending to influence elections.

“It used to be that the notion of an activist judge was somebody who ignored the will of Congress, ignored democratic processes, and tried to impose judicial solutions on problems instead of letting the process work itself through politically,” Mr. Obama said.

“And in the ’60s and ’70s, the feeling was — is that liberals were guilty of that kind of approach. What you’re now seeing, I think, is a conservative jurisprudence that oftentimes makes the same error.”

He added, “The concept of judicial restraint cuts both ways.”


locumranch said...

Even though it has taken 50 years for conservatives to reclaim SCOTUS, Payback & Reciprocity are (as they say) a bitch.


Russell Osterlund said...

There seems to be a lot of information on the Big Bang, Inflation, the CMB, etc., but very little on what happened afterwards. I found "How Did the First Stars and Galaxies Form?" by Abraham Loeb:

In some places the math was way beyond my poor excuse for ability, but there are sections written for a lay-person that can help fill in some of answers to "What Happened After First Light?". One of the more fascinating ideas by Dr. Loeb is presented in this article, "The Habitable Epoch of the Early Universe"

in which the ambient temperature of the early universe allowed "the chemistry of life to possibly begin when the Universe was merely 10-17 million years old." Wow!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Congressionals getting indicted is more common than you might think, with over two dozen indictments over the past 37 years.

There's a fairly detailed list of popular criminality here ( ) but I don't see a specific charge of obstruction of justice listed there. Pretty much everything else, showing that Congressionals are a versatile lot.

Larry Hart said...


Did I say "illegal"? I don't think so. Your argument would be with Alfred, except that he's arguing your side.

Quoting President Obama:

“And in the ’60s and ’70s, the feeling was — is that liberals were guilty of that kind of approach. What you’re now seeing, I think, is a conservative jurisprudence that oftentimes makes the same error.”

He added, “The concept of judicial restraint cuts both ways.”

If you'd listen to what I say instead of what you think someone like me would say, I actually agree with this. And if conservatives really were favoring "Constitutionalist" judges who would mitigate liberal overreach and follow the dictates of the Constitution and the sense of established law, I wouldn't argue. What I object to is calling themselves "strict Constitutionalists" while in the same breath insisting on made up shit like "money is speech," or "'whole number of persons' means something other than whole number of persons," or "Paying for a service is an infringement on my free speech." They're every bit as politically activist as the liberal justices were, but once again, rules and decorum are only meant to constrain liberals. Conservatives are presumed to be pure as the driven snow, so they can do whatever they want.

And our difference in political philosophy pales in comparison to the Republicans weaponizing the supreme court to rule in favor of a president over the department investigating him for criminal activity. That's not a difference of conservatism vs liberalism, but rather a corruption of a check-and-balance into an enabler, which is a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

Larry Hart said...


Even though it has taken 50 years for conservatives to reclaim SCOTUS,

You're thinking the Rehnquist court was liberal? Conservatives have held the court since Clarence Thomas was appointed in 1991, with a short interregnum of truce after God tried to save us from Scalia. What's been happening since Alito and ramping up to 11 now is not just a conservative leaning, but outright nonsense rulings on the order of "2 + 2 = 5" in support of corporate, religious, and white supremacist interests.

Payback & Reciprocity are (as they say) a bitch.

It takes one to know one.

Jon S. said...

I think when folks like Loco talk about "Constitutional originalist", they mean people who think that a black man is worth 3/5 of a white man, and Native Americans and women of any sort don't count at all. None of the amendments need apply, except apparently the Second.

Someone who's actually read and understood the Constitution in its entirety, including all the Amendments, doesn't fit in with this viewpoint.

sociotard said...

My best guess for the Fermi Paradox is still "Interstellar travel is hard with little payoff, and Interstellar communication isn't much better"

"But we could send Von Neumann probes to all the galaxy, and if we could, we should be finding alien probes"

1) We have not made a Von Neumann device. Ever. We are a long way away from that, so we don't know how hard it is to create a probe capable of replication. How big would it have to be? (because that affects how big a rocket to send it out has to be) How smart would it have to be?

2) We have never made a robot intended to last 74 thousand years (velocity of Voyager 2 probe over 4 lightyears). We have no idea how to do that. I've read about the Long Now foundation, trying to make a clock intended to last a couple thousand years, but I know of nothing to incentivize anyone to figure out how to make a robot that functions longer (even in hibernation) than humans have been out of Africa.

3) We have never sent a probe to another star. We have no idea how difficult that would be. How much maneuvering fuel would a probe need, with what kind of threat detection, and how good a pilot program? Certainly, most of space is empty. But 4+ lightyears is a long distance and 74 thousand years is a long time

4) I remain unconvinced that we could distinguish alien signals from background noise. It's not like we send Arrecibo-messages all that often.

Larry Hart said...


I remain unconvinced that we could distinguish alien signals from background noise. It's not like we send Arrecibo-messages all that often.

That's kinda where I am as well. Especially if the aliens are like Dr Brin's Zang or Dave Sim's talking redwood trees.

Alfred Differ said...

It’s been a long time since actual liberals dominated the SCOTUS. Progressives have had their say much more often than the folks on my side of the political divide. We lost out around the time of FDR and have rarely been back.

Judicial activism is in the eye of the beholder. For the progressives, it can be anything undoing their hard won progress. For conservatives, it can be anything undoing their hard won traditions. I see a few issues on each side, but some things bug the crap out of me regarding the conservatives.

1. Some would hold to a Constitution before the 14th amendment was enacted. Give it up already.

2. Some would pretend the 17th never passed. THESE folks are likely the hard-core of the Confederacy.

3. Some would pretend we don’t have a boat-load of case law supporting interpretations of each of the amendments and would prefer their own interpretations. The Judiciary doesn’t work that way. Pack courts to get YOUR interpretation (and only yours) and we will ensure the Court becomes a political branch. That way results in madness and blood in the streets.

4. The 60’s and 70’s saw exactly TWO amendments dealing with Progressive’s issues. The 24th prohibited an insidious way to disenfranchise voters. The 26th recognized that if you could be drafted to die for your country, you should be able to vote. To find another progressive amendment, one has to go back to just after WWI when women got the vote. To find another, one need look only slightly earlier to the idiotic prohibition experiment that was largely undone in the early years of FDR.

Progressives don’t change the Constitution all that often. They occasionally alter precedents by convincing courts to upend case law. Conservatives are pretty successful most of the time because American’s LIKE many of their traditions. However, from where I’m sitting, the Conservatives want to win ALL THE TIME and that too will lead to blood in the streets.

Fighting over precedents is to be expected, but ignoring amendments and old case law is not even remotely acceptable.

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp Jamieson | I was watching Gowdy browbeat Rosenstein and just waiting for his hand gesture to change slightly. He had two fingers up against his temple as engaged in the verbal attack. His facial expression said he wanted to alter it slightly to one particular finger. 8)

Corruption is the favorite flavor of criminality among legislators as I recall. It is also the favorite one we like to nail them for when we can. I’ve got a hankering for another flavor right now I suppose. 8)

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Progressives don’t change the Constitution all that often.

In fairness, I don't think the conservative complaint against liberal judicial activism is that we actually pass amendments (which has nothing to do with the court). It's that the judges manage to find things that they want the Constitution to assert in text which says nothing of the kind.

My counter-argument is that conservatives do the same thing, and that they're not really complaining that liberals are activist, but that they're activist on the wrong side.

The part that galls me, though, is the meme they've managed to perpetuate that conservative judicial activism doesn't count as judicial activism. There is no text clearer than the meaning of "whole number of persons". Since that particular phrase applied to children and to women before they could vote and to untaxed Indians and slaves (which had to be specifically categorized as being treated differently), then it clearly did not mean "eligible voters" or "registered voters." But right-wing judges are champing at the bit to declare that the text really does mean one of those things, while in the same breath advertising themselves as "strict Constitutionalists".

Conservatives are pretty successful most of the time because American’s LIKE many of their traditions. However, from where I’m sitting, the Conservatives want to win ALL THE TIME and that too will lead to blood in the streets.

You'll find that in all right-wing doctrine, from the corporatists to the nativists and the Christianists and white supremacists. If they don't get their way all the time, they're being "oppressed" worse than blacks or gays or women ever were.

Interested Observer said...

Signing in

locumranch said...

As demonstrated by their dated assumptions about their enemy being 'originalists', 'traditionalists', 'nativists', 'supremacists' & 'Christianists', Larry_H and Jon_S are quite determined to fight the last war instead of the current conflict which, by definition, is a foolish & losing strategy.

The traditional conservative movement is DEAD, being 'not only merely dead (but) really most sincerely dead', just like the old school social contract, racial guilt, noblesse oblige, chivalry, the traditional family, 'death do we part' marriage & the White Man's debt burden, leaving us with something even more pitiless, implacable & horrifying than traditional conservatism: Behold EQUALITY !!

And, with it, a darwinistic free-for-all and the universal death of identity group specific protections, empowerments & reparative privilege wherein your hand will be against everyone, everyone's hand will be against yours and no favour will be given or received except in the case of immediate reciprocity.

For, without reciprocity & in the presence of equality, No One Owes Anyone Anything.


Larry Hart said...


The traditional conservative movement is DEAD,

Sometimes, jumping on the bandwagon is the best way to demonstrate that the wheels have fallen off.

I don't expect Republican politicians to be true to conservative ideals, nor do I expect their supporters to care. However, I will not let them pretend to themselves that they are. You might send us to our graves, but you'll go to yours knowing exactly who and what you are.

Behold EQUALITY !!

Oh, I wish more people here had young children who watch Phineas and Ferb, so they'd get the reference:

"And by equality, I mean not equality at all."

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | but that's because they're fixing what the law is for their own purposes.

They are trying, but I’m not convinced they are succeeding. After watching Rosenstein the other day and listening to his comment about being used, it sure feels like Mueller is his retaliation. He defends himself for the wrong done to him and he defends the institution for the wrongs that are obviously piling up.

It's that the judges manage to find things that they want the Constitution to assert in text which says nothing of the kind.

It’s not just that both sides do it. It’s that both sides MUST do it. The Constitution is toothless without case law. The first amendment has been tested sooooo many times that the tests have been tested so often they have names even us non-legal types know. I was learning about the ‘Lemon test’ years ago (and current views on it) without there being a ‘religion in school’ case being pushed.

As for ‘whole number of persons’, I think section #2 of amendment #14 is a little weird. It’s pretty obvious they were trying to reduce House seats for States willing to disenfranchise otherwise legit voters. Basically… if you aren’t going to let them vote, you can’t count them when it comes to apportionment. Criminals were an exception… a dumb exception I think since one could charge and convict locally. White juries and all that. Turning it around to argue eligible voters are the ones that count for apportionment seems to miss the point. Citizenship is what makes me eligible… not some registration process.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

"It's that the judges manage to find things that they want the Constitution to assert in text which says nothing of the kind."

It’s not just that both sides do it. It’s that both sides MUST do it. The Constitution is toothless without case law.

You misunderstand my point. I don't fault judges for interpreting the law when the wording is imprecise or vague in application. I fault them when the wording is precise, but they insist that the words actually mean something that they simply do not mean. The Second Amendment might mean everyone can have a gun, and it might mean that only an organized militia is entitled, but it does not say that only white Christians are allowed to have guns, no matter how generous one is with interpretation.

As for ‘whole number of persons’, I think section #2 of amendment #14 is a little weird.

I never got into the weeds of that amendment before. I was thinking more of the original Constitution in which apportionment of representatives is clearly based upon the whole number of free persons (not just white, landowning voters), excluding un-taxed Indians, plus 3/5 of "all other persons". The "other persons" were never voters, and the free whites included women and children and non-owners of land. So again, it was clearly talking about population and not just eligible voters.

While I see that a right-wing think tank could attempt to frame the XIV amendment to indicate a count of voters, and a cheating supreme court could run with it, they would be disingenuous in doing so. Here's the wording I think you're talking about:

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

So they removed the 3/5 thing after the Civil War, and the rest is simply "whole number of persons excluding Indians not taxed." What the bottom part is saying is that as a penalty for depriving (say) 10% of eligible voters the right to vote, a state would lose 10% of its allocation of representatives. It most certainly does not say that the original allocation is based on the number of eligible voters.

I'm trying to think of a good analogy, and I'm not sure this is quite what I wanted, but here goes anyway (Caveat emptor). Factories used to have rules like, if you're five minutes late to work, you lose the pay for that entire hour. That was not construed to mean that you were entitled to a full hour's pay for every five minutes that you worked. The wages and the penalty for tardiness are two separate things. So are the apportionment of representation and the penalty for voter suppression.

The wording does not mean "Basically… if you aren’t going to let them vote, you can’t count them when it comes to apportionment". Rather it says that a state is assessed a penalty in representation commensurate with the percentage of the offense it commits.

dera said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Brin said...

locum would have excellent points, if the things that he asserts to be true were actually true. Of course... they aren't. There are specific ANECDOTES of the crimes he asserts to be generalities. And clearly he believes that anecdotal examples of extreme exception cases constitute proof of a general class. That's not how it works.

In contrast, my NAME AN EXCEPTION challenges have logical force. If the challenged fanatic cannot name an exception, it does not automatically mean there are NO specific exceptions. But it puts a steep burden of proof on him, to disprove the generality.

Ponder NONE... vs A FEW Exceptions ... vs a large fraction... vs MOST... vs NEARLY ALL... vs ALL without exceptions.

Anecdotes can disprove NONE. They do not prove anything positive higher than "A FEW EXCEPTIONAL CASES." They do not move the assertion any higher than that. From there on, you need statistics and evidence.

At the opposite end, failure to offer even one counter-example or counter anecdote does not PROVE "ALL without exceptions."

But failure to offer even one counter-example or counter anecdote does set up the hypothesis of NEARLY ALL as having primacy as a practical, operating assumption and those denouncing it BEAR BURDEN OF PROOF.

And hence, I reiterate...

David Brin said...

... I reiterate...
If Any of these cannot be refuted with even a single counter-example, then your movement is not a political party, it is a dangerously insane and incompetent cult.

1- Can you NAME ONE profession of high knowledge and skill that’s not under attack by Fox/Trump &cohorts? Teachers, medical doctors, journalists, civil servants, law professionals, economists, skilled labor, professors… oh, yes and science. Thirty years ago, 40% of US scientists called themselves Republican, now it is 4% and plummeting. They are voting with their feet, the smartest, wisest, most logical and by far the most competitive humans our species ever produced.

And now? The FBI and the US military and intelligence officer corps; all are dismissed as "deep state" enemies. Yes, this is not your daddy's conservatism.

2- NAME ONE major metric of US national health that did better across the spans of either Bush administration, or the Trump, than across the spans of the Clinton and Obama admins. Nearly all such metrics declined - many plummeting - across Bush regimes. Nearly all rose, many of them by a lot, across both DP terms. The record of almost perfect mal-governance would make any sane or scientific-minded person flee the GOP screaming and never trust them again.

Clinton & Obama scored better in every sane conservative desideratum, including rate of change of deficits and military readiness!

3- NAME ONE GOP leader between Reagan and Ryan who was even mentioned at the 2016 Republican Convention. Except for Newt, all were brushed under the rug, including both Bushes, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Dennis (friend to boys) Hastert, Tom (convicted felon) DeLay, Boehner.

In fact, name a republican top leader between EISENHOWER and Ryan who was even mentioned by the party at the RNC, other than Reagan and Newt! This shows how writhing ashamed Republicans are, of their record at governance.

4- Name one of the dark fantasies about Obama, from black UN helicopters to taking away all our guns, that happened or was even tepidly tried.

5- Name one time when Supply Side (Voodoo) "Economics" made a successful prediction? One? Ever? One time when slashing taxes on the rich led to reduced deficits and to vastly stimulated economic activity, or even much investment in "supply" capital? Once. One time when this cult religion actually delivered?

Every major change in the Rooseveltean social contract resulted in lower growth, wider wealth disparity, shorter commercial ROI horizons, declines in R&D and increasing dominance by a crazy MBA caste.

6- Name one other time in American — or human — history, when an administration spanning 8 years had zero scandals or indictments concerning malfeasance in the performance of official duties. It has happened twice in American — or human — history. The administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Name another!

You can’t. There was one FOUR year U.S. administration that had no malfeasance scandals… that of Jimmy Carter. And let’s be clear. The Reagan, Bush and Bush administrations looked HARD for evidence, some smoking-gun, to pin on Carter, Clinton and Obama. When they owned every federal department and record, they sifted like crazy, wasting hundreds of millions looking for something — anything. “W” ordered FBI agents away from counter terror duties to join this witch hunt, before 9/11… arguably treason that cost thousands of American lives. And they found… nothing. In contrast, their own administrations were rife with indictments, convictions and pardons.

Generally, when I confront folks with these challenges, they shout “squirrel!” and point offstage at some assertion or distraction, concocting scenarios and excuses to explain why they cannot answer any of these… or dozens of other… challenges.

sociotard said...

But the Obama administration did have scandals in the malfeasance of official duties.
The IRS Scandal IRC, one of the administrators lost her job over it. I'm told that the IRS was using 'liberal' words to screen as well, so not entirely the biased affair it was made out to be but, again, bad enough somebody got fired.

A few others, mostly amounting to investigations that proved no wrongdoing. Here, though, conservatives make a good point: the investigators have been shown to be biased. Dr. Brin himself has stated that our apparatus is designed to be adversarial. And we have seen important investigators outed as liking Obama and Hillary. Yes, there were congressional investigations too, and those were adverarial, but they were done by politicians, not detectives. A good investigation needs both bloodlust AND skill. Obama never faced an investigation with both.

It's like how there were congressional investigations on mass surveillance, but they did nothing until Snowden reveled what he did. Why didn't those Congressional investigations uncover what he did? Because they were politicians, who know how to get elected and maybe pass laws, but not how to run an inquiry.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Sociotard
I don't agree with your comment
I don't need to be a red hot "investigator" - I just need to be able to HIRE one
And the Republican's investigating Obama had plenty of money available - I don't think those guys are the smartest but they are smart enough to hire the best!

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Sociotard
The IRS Scandal
One of the administrators resigned over it
She decided that the game was not worth the candle -
The subsequent investigation found that the IRS was investigating both liberal and conservative organisations
Which is what their job is!
And as far as selecting which to investigate - you select the ones most likely to be breaking the law!
They have a lot of data showing that a lot of those organisations were abusing their tax status
Not even close to being a scandal
The Scandal is that after the politicians shouted at them they stopped doing it

duncan cairncross said...

Something for Winter7

Kevin has truncated the graph in his article - which makes it look wrong - the full graph is in the pdf and looks a lot more sensible

locumranch said...

David defends his position well with an impressive list of, well, Anecdotes:

(1) Trump, Fox & his Oligarch pals absolutely LOVE on law professionals as this fact-twisting "profession of high knowledge and skill" has allowed them to acquire vast amounts of money & power by adhering to the letter of the law while circumventing the spirit of law. It should come as no surprise to anyone, then, that 41 percent of the 113th Congress are lawyers.

(2) According to the New York Times, US Scientists are a profession in decline as 80% of graduate students enrolled in US universities hail from India, China, Korea, Turkey and other foreign countries, and LESS than 20% of US graduate students in STEM represent US citizens as of November 2017, which indicates that this decline occurred under US Democratic Party Watch.

(3) One major metric of US national health that plummeted under the Obama administration was LIFE EXPECTANCY, attributed mostly to an Opioid Epidemic and rising rates of suicide amongst US military veterans & adult white males.

(4) ONE MAJOR SCANDAL that occurred under the Obama Administration was an intelligence leak by Edward Snowden, revealing that ,the US Deep State routinely betrayed its EU & NATO allies by subjecting their political leadership to intensive electronic surveillance. Surprisingly, these corruptions were deemed 'not worthy of investigation' by the very same Deep State responsible for these corruptions.

(5) Also under the auspices of the Obama Administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton violated State Department protocol and leaked countless Top Secret US documents & FBI Investigators conspired to FIX the US presidential elections in favour of the DNC but, like the Edward Snowden Affair, this was blamed on everyone but a DNC-controlled Deep State.

(6) The US Stock, Real Estate & Housing Markets have always showed impressive gains under Supply Side Economics, only to tank routinely under DNC-controlled US administrations.

David's statements appear to be yet another attempt to 'whitewash' the historically racist US Democratic Party as Lilly White Angels, even though they used to ride around while wearing pointy white hats & metering out extralegal mob justice, much in the same way that their pussy-hatted & black-masked progressive associates do today.


Larry Hart said...


I do not hear the words of traitors.

Larry Hart said...

This indication of the uniformedness ("I have the best words") of the American voter is distressing but perhaps exploitable:

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake gave an interview to The Hill and revealed what a majority of Americans think about the Supreme Court, including:

- They think there are about 19 justices
- They don't think an appointment is for the justice's lifetime
- They think that when Trump leaves office, new justices will be appointed

Needless to say, these are all totally wrong. It is a stunning lack of civic knowledge about such an important part of the government. The only piece of positive news Lake can report back to the Democrats is: "If you ever take the White House and Congress again, abolish the filibuster and quickly appoint 10 new justices. Nobody will even notice.

Larry Hart said...

Ok, I like this closing line:

“My husband and I always joke, Donald Trump really is making America great again, just not the way he thought,” she said. “Because I’ve never seen this many people mobilized to be part of anything.”

#AWGA (America Was Great Already)

donzelion said...

Winter7: Haven't been around much; been out protesting, canvassing, and beating the bush, and doing some legal work.

Irvine, CA isn't exactly ground central for the backlash against Trump: it's the heart of Orange County, California, which remains one of the primary 'intellectual' havens for Trump enablers. But we're fighting to change that. We turned out 5000 people or so for our protest last weekend; a first here. Others (esp. LA, NYC, and Chicago) were bigger, but they're not part of the problem.

Russell: "There seems to be a lot of information on the Big Bang, Inflation, the CMB, etc., but very little on what happened afterwards. I found "How Did the First Stars and Galaxies Form?" by Abraham Loeb:"

Strong recommendation for Professor Mark Whittle's "Cosmology: The History and Nature of Our Universe" course at (the price ranges from $300 to $50 or so depending on their special sales cycle). Dr. Whittle is quite good at approaching some fundamentals, showing how the math works without hiding it, as would typically be the case in a book. One of the problems of writing about science, rather than studying in a classroom format, is that metaphors used to try to simplify very complex notions can mislead us even if skillfully crafted by the very best and brightest minds.

donzelion said...

Duncan/Sociotard: re the "IRS Scandal" -

Normally, the IRS takes a "biggest buck" approach: if it costs $10m to prosecute a claim, and they have a 50% chance of prevailing (it's actually better than that...), they will only do so when the potential recovery for the Treasury is $25m+. Occasionally, they dabble in 'symbolic prosecutions' of others - e.g., to set down useful precedent for bigger claims, or to catch major criminals like Al Capone, for whom 'tax enforcement' never was the priority...but that's extremely rare. They just don't have the resources to pursue 'lawbreakers.'

The 2009-2011 'scandal' discovered tens of thousands of organizations had been set up between 2003-2009 - about 90% were 'conservative' aligned entities, created to bypass McCain-Feingold rules. But when the Supreme Court killed that reform, it altered the whole playing field in two ways - the money flowing into the organizations disappeared, AND the enforcement costs rose. In most claims for recovery, the potential rewards for the Treasury shrank, AND the costs of enforcement increased.

"The Scandal is that after the politicians shouted at them they stopped doing it"

This is a common misconception among a large number of progressives who claimed "Obama is weak" (often at Republican prompting). But Obama's IRS didn't cave to politicians: they responded to the new facts of life in their playing field. Instead of $10m for a $50m recovery, it became $15m for a $25m recovery (with a 50% chance of actually prevailing): the realistic costs outweighed the probable gains.

The 2006 and 2008 election cycles occurred under the McCain-Feingold rules (and who won?).

The 2010 cycle occurred under new rules (Republicans started rebuilding the 'old-fashioned way' after 2007's Wisconsin claim; Citizens United became a retroactive endorsement of the system as they'd set it up).

Larry Hart said...

Conservatives who see nothing wrong with racially profiling blacks and Hispanics for police stops and frisks ("They commit most of the crimes!") or profiling Muslims for suspicion of terrorism ("They commit most of the terrorist acts!") seem to think there's something wrong with profiling right-wing groups for tax cheating, even though they're the ones who commit most of the fraud.

I rhetorically wonder why.

locumranch said...

Apparently, Larry_H cannot hear himself speak now that he does not hear 'the words of traitors', deaf as he is to the divisively sexist & racist identity politics spewed by the progressive left which constantly condemns ALL males as potential rapists & ALL white conservatives as inveterate racists, as illustrated by recent CNN & MSNBC news reports on the Capital Gazettte Shooting which loudly & mistakenly identified the hispanic shooter as a white male, but remained eerily silent about the correct ethnic identifier in all subsequent reports.

Perhaps, like Donzelion, Larry_H's ears are impaired by his fuzzy pussy-hat as he FIGHTS & DEFIES that evil law-abiding majority identity group in favour of special legal exemptions for rule-disobedient minority womens & foreigners who lay claim to all of the privileges of citizenship without any of the attendant responsibilities & restrictions, as exemplified by his silent acceptance of a corrupt US legal system that routinely separates all those poor widdle children from their male parents following lawful divorce & incarceration.

I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half enslaved majority male and half free, and I do expect this Union to be dissolved & this house to fall, unless the current Rule-of-Feelz is revoked & the dispassionate Rule-of-Law is re-applied to all of its citizens in a fair & equitable manner without the invocation of special minority exception.

A house divided by identity politics cannot stand.


David Brin said...

this must be screamed across the roofs of the world. Your mad uncles need to be told this is the latest smoking gun... no, flaming gun. And they are all complicit in treason.

When President Donald Trump takes his first official meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin later this month, the two will spend a portion of that time alone, CNN reported Monday.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

Have you read Malcolm Nance's brand new book, The Plot To Destroy Democracy?

It's heartbreaking in the sense of "Why wasn't anyone telling us about this stuff back when we could have acted on it?" We heard every bit of the fact that Hillary was under FBI investigation, but nothing about the fact that US intelligence agencies thought Donald Trump was a compromised Russian asset.

We're living in the fruits of a very poisonous tree.

donzelion said...

Locumranch: "Perhaps, like he FIGHTS & DEFIES that evil law-abiding majority identity group in favour of special legal exemptions for rule-disobedient minority"

Well, if we enforced rules on tax evasion the same way as we enforced them on border crossing, a pretty huge chunk of that 'law-abiding majority' would be in jail. If we enforced the rules on driving cars the same was we enforced them on border crossing, they'd be sentenced indefinitely for repeat offenses. Shucks, if we spent 1/20th on the roads that we do on the borders already to detect criminal violations of the law, you'd have a revolution in nearly all of rural America (and most cities too).

"corrupt US legal system that routinely separates all those poor widdle children from their male parents following lawful divorce & incarceration."

Every state law requires NOT forcibly separating the 'widdle children' from male parents - unless some special problem exists where the court concludes that strong evidence demonstrates the male parent poses a threat to the children, or to society as a whole.

But as for the 'Rule-of-Feelz' - you're the guy who thinks MeToo is abusive, because it makes men 'feelz' scared of da dames dey used ta grope. The "rule of law" always regarded that as assault and battery, sexual assault, and/or other infractions. The disciples of the 'Rule-of-Feelz' tended to be the ones protesting, "dem feminazis is out to stop our fun!'

donzelion said...

oh, whoops, Locum wasn't talking about THAT 'Rule of Feelz' which needs to stop - lol, sorry, misunderstood. I thought for once he was actually referring to something important.

Larry Hart said...


You're incurably optimistic. :)

The fireworks for erev-July 4 make me wonder if this year will be the last such celebration.

God save the United States of America.

Larry Hart said...

Just in time for July 4, an new Stonekettle post:


I mean you see it, don’t you?

You hear the echoes of all the worst regimes from history in that rhetoric, do you not? You can hear the tromp of jackboots and the screams from the concentration camps, can’t you? For the public good. For safety. For security.


Maybe you’re just not listening.


David Brin said...

There'll be fireworks. Alex Jones is selling plenty.

David Brin said...

Zepp Jamieson said...

Rachel Maddow had two interesting stories tonight.
The Senate Intelligence Committee, in a holiday eve news dump, revealed that they determined unanimously that Russia did meddle in US elections, and that the intent was to assist Trump.
A Senate group, consisting of Republicans only, traveled to Moscow today, apparently with the sole intent of wishing Putin the best of luck and "big things" in his meeting with Trump next month.
They are traitors and Nazis. It's time we stopped pretending they aren't.

locumranch said...

"Well, if we enforced rules on tax evasion the same way as we enforced them on border crossing, a pretty huge chunk of that 'law-abiding majority' would be in jail. If we enforced the rules on driving cars the same was we enforced them on border crossing, they'd be sentenced indefinitely for repeat offenses (and) you'd have a revolution in nearly all of rural America (and most cities too)".

Exactly, Donzelion.

The Revolution that you predict is what David calls a self-fulfilling prophecy, a virtual inevitability that may possibly be delayed with the corrupt & selective enforcement of the Rule-of-Law (the partial solution that Donzelion now champions) or the wholesale repudiation of the most petty & objectionable of said Laws.

However, the strict application of the Rule-of-Law only accelerates the arrival of the Revolution, as in the case of Britain’s 18th Century ‘Bloody Code’ which invoked the death penalty for more than 200 crimes (many of them trivial) & led directly to the FIRST American Revolution, which is (btw) the main reason why I actually support the pussy-hatted Rule-of-Feelz brigade.

The Revolution & its tumbrels, she comes, with its well-precedented lawlessness, unless the State has the incredible foresight to downsize & GOVERN LESS, an almost unthinkable event that has never ever happened voluntarily in the entire recorded history of human civilisation.

The 'Rule-of-Feelz' to which I refer is the triumph of petty feelings (aka 'emotionality') over rationality, not the 'Rule-of-Grope', even though that's an understandable mistake. Like a growing male contingent, I have little inclination to fraternise with (let alone grope) the modern feminist harpy, nor do I desire to assist them in any way. as they take greater & greater offence over the vanishingly trivial transgression, until the legal system they depend on collapses into triviality & unsustainable absurdity.

Punish all those mansplainers, traitors & evil politicians, please do, as the strict application of the Rule-of-Law will only speed our decline into social chaos & horrible horrible freedom.


Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | I'm not sure you know what Rule Of Law actually is. It appears you are confusing it with ULE.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

They are traitors and Nazis. It's time we stopped pretending they aren't.

Agreed. We are essentially at war. If they win--if the mechanisms of constitutional democracy are captured by the oligarch/racist/deplorable Axis, then (as Harry Chapin put it) we'll have used to have a country once, but where it went we will not know. If we win, they'll continue the fight forever until we make sure they can't. That's not hypocrisy--it's what war is.

We fought to "defend freedom" in WWII, but that did not entail respecting the freedom of Nazi soldiers. Neither did we worry that shooting at them is a bad way to win them over to our side. You don't compromise with a declared enemy who is in the process of making war on you--you make war back until one or the other side has to give up or die.

Will the flag still be there? We'll see.

Ok, I'll be offline the rest of the holiday. Enjoy each July 4 as if it might be your last.

God save the United States of America.

#AWGA (America Was Great Already)

P.S. If you haven't already, read Jim Wright's latest on Stonekettle Station.

Russell Osterlund said...


Thank you for your suggestion. We receive about two Great Courses catalogs every week - my wife has already ordered a bunch and I have a few. This, no doubt, accounts for the frequency of their mailings :) I will look though for Professor Whittle's course in their future offerings.

I have completed a number of very good cosmology-themed MOOC's already. I now realize that my lament was not specific enough; I really meant there is not a lot of information about the first billion years of the universe's existence (where we are, until just recently, starting to obtain more images of objects from that time) when conditions were much different then as compared to the Big Bang and current day. The universe was much hotter and denser then and seemed like a much more violent place when compared to our own local sedate neighborhood. I wonder what the sky would have looked like then and what results an astrophysicist would have obtained from observations and experiments in an environment like that. It was on a search for answers that I came upon Dr. Loeb's works - he seems to have specialized in this very epoch.

Winter7 said...

“Winter7, there is another way to interpret your crisis in Mexico… as your version of the 1960s, as crime skyrocketed amid the developing of a young and educated middle class and as many parts of society began demanding militant justice. We too thought everything was spinning out of control.”

Yes Doctor Brin. In Mexico, people are fed up with violence and corruption. And, to tell the truth, the matter is very complicated in Mexico.
Regarding the issue of the changes made to your website, I must say that the precautions taken are undoubtedly necessary. It was already evident that the site is under attack. The most evident proof of this is that, despite the measures taken, I noticed that one of the hackers insisted on entering the site (a common spammer would not have bothered on Blogger sites that need to log in to Gmail). Blogger. (It would not make sense, since there are already thousands of Blogger accounts that do not require logging into Gmail to access Blogger) And I noticed that when a comment is deleted by you, the name of the one who posted the spam is also deleted. But that did not happen with that user, the icon, (the face of a woman looking up) was still there with the name, I clicked on the user's name, usually by clicking on the user's name of Blogger one accesses the public data of the user, but in this case, the username is a link that sends me to another side, I do not know to what other website, because my system warned me and I closed the page.
That is: A well-organized group is watching and attacking this website in a premeditated way. Because of that, at least for a time, I will not comment on matters of Mexican politics. (Maybe the hackers are from the Mexican government and they noticed my comments) (Sorry if that was the cause, I did not think Blogger was a system so vulnerable to hacker attacks)
But I suppose there is no problem if I continue to give my opinion about politics in the rest of the world, including the United States. (And I do not think it's counterproductive if I talk about science talking about science)
Although I am forgetting, that the attack could also come from the CIA or a team of Russian hackers.
If the attack comes from the CIA ... That would really be very sad, because it would mean that an institution dedicated to protecting the American people, has become an instrument of repression because of the actions of traitorous politicians. And we all know that it follows something like that.
They are trying to cut communications from opponents. And as they said in Star Wars episode 1: A communications disruption can mean only one thing; invasion.
But in this case, the invasion is slow and relentless, taking control of all the bastions of democracy one by one.

David Brin said...

Winter7... I doubt very much that the attacks come from the CIA. They have their hands full and are as worried as you are.

Winter7 said...

Thanks for the info; Duncan. Taking these data into account, I suppose that a large part of the violence of Mexicans comes from lead poisoning. And if we take into account that it is easier for humans to slide towards evil and very difficult to take the right path, then the matter is even clearer.
Of course. I also belong to that generation and have resisted the call of the dark side of force. So I can say that serial killers and political leaders in Mexico can not use lead levels to justify the crimes they commit. The temptation is strong, but the reason is always there.

David Brin said...



Jon S. said...

CIA? Hell, being honest, we're not even a big enough deal to be on Facebook's radar, much less that of a major governmental organization.

As for this "Democrat Civil War" nonsense, a lot of people have been having a lot of fun with it on Twitter (one of my favorite replies was remarking on the naivete of thinking Dems could organize a revolution in days when they can't even seem to agree that a young Democrat winning a Democratic primary in a Democratic district is a good thing). Check out the hashtag #secondcivilwarletters - it's good. So are the threads about people trying to organize the supplies for the war ("Remember, everyone, carpool to the front! If we can't rebel in an ecologically-sustainable way, what are we even doing here?").