Thursday, January 31, 2019

Worrisome directions for democracy

See what one of our top Paladins for democracy – Lawrence Lessig – and his colleagues have been doing, over at Equal Citizen. In one case, they are pushing to enable presidential electors to vote their conscience. 

Speaking of whom… The coming Unrig Summit - March in Nashville - will thrash out how to "un-rig" our democracy, eliminating cheats that have crept in or been crammed in by cheaters. Wish I could present my *simple* fix for gerrymandering that answers every excuse used by John Roberts to sidestep the issue. ("Minimal Overlap") or my FACT Act. But my Futurist Cred, while substantial, is spread too thin. But Lawrence Lessig and others will be there, standing up for our bold revolution against 6000 years of feudalism.

One fight-back just occurred to me. For ages it's been proposed that black citizens of Alabama move next door to Mississippi, especially to a few carefully chosen counties where some millionaire or NGO surreptitiously buys-up inexpensive property, using now gerrymandered districts to their advantage. Same with S. Carolina and Georgia.But even easier. A well-sited Google Research Center in Wyoming could draw in enough other companies to an advanced research town where tens of thousands might stay 6 months for voting residency and... You work it out. What? Wyoming would object?

== No Witnesses ==

Your “no-collusion!” uncle would have been in hysterics by now, if Obama had done 0.01% of any of this. There are no detailed records of five personal meetings President Donald Trump has had with Russian President Vladimir Putin -- Trump has gone to "extraordinary lengths" to keep the specifics of his conversations with his Russian counterpart under wraps.

On at least one occasion, President Trump took possession of his interpreter’s notes after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. officials said. There is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with Putin over the past two years, the officials said.”

Remind your mad uncles that Vladimir Putin called the fall of the USSR the “greatest tragedy in history.” And we’re supposed to trust Lenin-raised ex-KGB agents turned billionaire mafia oligarchs, because a pussy-grabbing slumlord and his casino-owner pals say so? 

The time has come to call these uncles and confederates by their true name. Commies.

== Short Takes you need to know ==

ROUNDUP!  Too many news items! You may have seen some of these, but you need to know all of them. Like:

- National Security Adviser John Bolton called on the Pentagon to provide military options to strike Iran, exactly as I said he would, as Trump desperately seeks a distraction and Putin plans to scoop up all the prizes. (No other outcome from a US-Iran “war” is remotely possible.) But with our protector caste fully alert, it will be up to Putin to supply some clever pretext. Beware fellah. Our folks are clever, too. God bless the U.S. Navy.

And more…

- … like Whole Foods snapping up a hundred defunct Sears/KMarts (see this map) giving Amazon a huge footprint. Especially ironic since, if Sears had just held on to its 100 year old catalogue two more years, in 1993, Sears would have been Amazon and owned half the planet, by now. Whoever made that catalogue decision goes down in history as the stupidest-ever manager. Hire Science Fiction author consultants!

 - …. I thought this was a joke about heavenly punishment…Fire damages MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN studios in D.C. as Mike Pence scheduled to appear.” But yeah, they are in the same building. And it took an accident for us to learn this weird coincidence.

- …like “A senior Russian official has canceled a planned visit to the United States, claiming he feared a second civil war being waged by opposing political forces there.”

"Rogozin is not the first to raise the prospect of a second Civil War amid the polarized political climate in the U.S. In June, former Trump adviser Roger Stone warned of a potential civil war in an interview with Newsweek and, days later, University of California, Berkeley professor Robert Reich argued that "serious social unrest" may be on the way, even if an actual civil war remained unlikely. Later that month, Republican Congressman Steve King tweeted, "America is heading in the direction of another Harpers Ferry" and "After that comes Ft. Sumter," referring to the Confederate raid on the U.S. fort that sparked the Civil War. Amid all this talk of Civil War, a poll that same month found 31 percent of likely U.S. voters thought the prospect of a second such conflict breaking out in the next five years was likely."

Addendum: Note where I have long spoken of this, only we are in phase EIGHT of a culture struggle that goes back to 1778.

By the way, Harpers Ferry was more than just an abolitionist radical trying to lead a slave revolt. It was retaliation for 8 years of raids by squadrons of southern irregular cavalry that had been rampaging across northern states since 1852, burning and kidnapping and even killing, supported by a southern-owned federal government, causing northerners to radicalize, arm themselves and restart their militias… and elect Abraham Lincoln, who Fox would today dismiss as a “leftist.”

And more…

- …like there’s a lot of talk about Tucker Carlson’s veer toward populism in some of his rants, on Fox. He appears to be demanding an accounting from Wall Street and other uber oligarchs, for screwing middle America. How populist!  Only… Tucker Carlson knows his job. It is to stay slightly ahead of the curve and steer some of it. He knows that white, lower-middle-class America is on the verge of finally realizing they've been screwed by oligarchy’s Republican-Foxite tools. Instead of even trying to defend oligarchy, anymore, their one chance is to mix it with other "elites" and keep just a teensy bit more rage aimed at the "Deep State" and at intellectuals and Fake News and every other fact-using profession.

Were he sincere, Carlson would have started not with Wall Street, but the anti-science Denialist Cult that might kill us all. Or else start with Vladimir Putin. He won’t. He can’t.

… aaaand the Keystone Pipeline, abruptly re-ignited by Trump upon entering office, is now revealed to be heavily engaged with a Putin-ally Russian oligarch. And you’re surprised that the same people who shrieked over a Canadian Uranium company owned by Russians being distantly linked to Hillary Clinton have nothing to say about this? 

== President Pence ==

Members of the pundit-o-sphere keep softballing the notion of a Pence Presidency. This op-edder in the NY Times,for example, jests about Pence not dining alone with any unchaperoned woman, but at least they’d bring pets back to the White House! Sure, the Pences are homophobes, but history has left them in dust and besides, he spent 12 years in Congress without passing a single piece of legislation. So what? Me, worry? Clearly noxious but likely harmlessly ineffectual, compared to Putin-puppet Donald Trump, right?

Carumba. There is one huge fact about Mike Pence that we are PC-banned from ever raising or mentioning – his devoutly central and all-consuming theology. The wing of the Republican Party that dominates it now -- except in areas that the oligarchy cares about, like taxes and the environment -- is Dominionism, a radicalized branch of fundamentalist Protestantism that has made the Book of Revelation the sun that its members revolve around. We are talking Handmaid’s Tale levels of fiery-apocalypse fixation. Moreover, if you corner a dominionist with good, leading questions, he or she will proudly avow to praying daily for doom-events described BoR to come to pass, and as soon as possible.

You need to educate yourselves. Learn what that means. This no longer has anything remotely to do with a bearded-beaded, sandal-wearing, forgiveness-preaching ecumenical-socialist Galilean rabbi. This is what they believe… and desperately want, ASAP. 

Torture and pain for 99% of their neighbors in this real world, followed by their damnation and exponentiated torment for all eternity. An end to all democracy. An end to all argument and competition, all ambition and curiosity. An end to any and all further generations of children. And a clear, explicit end to the United States of America. This is no exaggeration. It is literally and explicitly what they seek. And yes, there comes a point when theology is acceptably a subject for voter consideration, especially when allocating the keys to nuclear weapons.

Right now, much to Vladimir Putin’s dismay, the Trump White House is vile, but ineffectual. It leaks like a sieve and the entire American Protector Caste is on alert. Take him down? You’ll replace all that with a Pence Administration that’s packed with utterly disciplined dominionists, crooning smoothly to draw relieved military and intel officers back from the cold… while seeking implacably to achieve their one and only goal. The literal end of our world.

Oh, you who so desperately howl for the impeachment of Donald Trump, you have cause! Only consider Trump’s impeachment insurance. A fellow like Ol’ Two Scoops will demand company when he falls. If he goes down, so do we all.

== States of Emergency ==

Interesting article from The Atlantic about states of emergency and the vague and very broad powers that might be within reach of an un-“stable genius.”

“Unlike the modern constitutions of many other countries, which specify when and how a state of emergency may be declared and which rights may be suspended, the U.S. Constitution itself includes no comprehensive separate regime for emergencies. Those few powers it does contain for dealing with certain urgent threats, it assigns to Congress, not the president. For instance, it lets Congress suspend the writ of habeas corpus—that is, allow government officials to imprison people without judicial review—“when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it” and “provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.”

And: “Congress passed the National Emergencies Act in 1976. Under this law, the president still has complete discretion to issue an emergency declaration—but he must specify in the declaration which powers he intends to use, issue public updates if he decides to invoke additional powers, and report to Congress on the government’s emergency-related expenditures every six months. The state of emergency expires after a year unless the president renews it, and the Senate and the House must meet every six months while the emergency is in effect “to consider a vote” on termination…. By any objective measure, the law has failed. Thirty states of emergency are in effect today—several times more than when the act was passed.” (Hey, dig the diamond studded cufflinks, in one of the images!)

Elizabeth Goiten goes on to describe the powers apparently given by a 1942 law that might let a president use an emergency declaration to control the Internet. Even scarier: The Insurrection Act of 1807 provides the necessary authority. As amended over the years, it allows the president to deploy troops upon the request of a state’s governor or legislature to help put down an insurrection within that state.”

Mind you, this is the sort of imagery that rightwing nut-jobs howled about Obama’s intent to bring in U.N. Black Helicopters and set up concentration camps. And anyone who believes that today’s U.S. military officer corps would go along with such things has been watching too much Info Wars and/or The Handmaid’s Tale.

Though yes, I have relentlessly called upon US citizens and others to read up on past use of pretexts for seizing emergency powers. 

The Tonkin Gulf and Gleiwitz incidents might be repeated in the Straits of Hormuz, by a president desperate for a nice, tidy U.S.-Iran “war” that would distract at home while giving his Moscow master all the marbles. The Reichstag Fire should come to mind, too. It certainly was on Margaret Atwood’s when she portrayed a fundamentalist terror strike on DC then giving them an excuse for a putsch.

And now add Venezuela.

The article ends with a similar, scary scenario. But I think our skilled professionals would protect us from anything so blatant. I am less sure that they’ll be so vigilant if the same thing is tried by a smoothly-soothing-voiced (and spectacularly more-dangerous) President Mike Pence.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

History ramming at us fast. Are we in the foretold "crisis?"

As we await the Big News about Trump Enterprises laundering tens of billions for Russian mafias via Deutsche Bank... and mountainous KGB subsidies of the NRA and Fox... now it seems the assault has pervaded nearly the entire American-confederate right, from fundamentalist churches to the Home School Movement. Sure, this site is a bit lefty. But if even one of the connections were true (and some are proved, or public record) then there has been more outright treason on the US right than in the history of the republic. Not even the Walker or Ames or Embassy Guard spy rings (all of them Republicans who betrayed us to Moscow) came anywhere near.

God bless the public servants and whistle blowers who are bringing this to light.

Note that even 1% of this tsunami of treason would have stained the American left fatally, back in the 1950s. And Stalinists tried! Read about how - in 1947 - the democrats and liberalism were saved and became the primary forces for containing Russian expansionism and communism.

And now we see the truth. This was never about "socialism." It has always been about expansionist-paranoid Russian spycraft being used to suborn sectors of American life in order to topple their one obstacle to world domination. Surface catechisms veered from czarist-Checka royalism to Leninist dogma, to mafia-oligarch cynicism, but the methods and aims remained the same.

Remind your mad uncles that their hero -- Vladimir Putin -- called the fall of the USSR "history's greatest tragedy." If there are any sane or patriotic Americans left in the GOP, now is their time to snap out of the trance. No more excuses or rationalizations. If you watch Fox, you are clutching Moscow-brewed incantations. 

== Let's Make a Deal ==

Donald Trump tried his mafia tactic -- take hostages and hurt people till you get what you want -- but what worked in casinos and organized crime hasn't worked once in government. So ask yourself, fellah, what would get you your wall?

Simple: first remove hostages from consideration by fixing DACA and refugee families.

Only then make an actual political deal. Democrats should offer him not $5.7 billion, but TEN billions for big, beautiful walls, if he and McConnell agree to pass the anti-corruption House bill HR1, which would reduce cheating in American politics. End gerrymandering. Enforce transparency of donors. Offer matching funds for small donations. And combat the open war against our institutions by foreign powers.

They can't allow it -- without cheating and corruption, today's GOP would collapse overnight. So go ahead and make the offer!

== Party of Cheaters ==

What happens when the U.S. states – our “laboratories of democracy” become tools of oppression and cheating? Throughout history, the power invested in the states has allowed all sorts of anti-democratic abuses to flourish, e.g. the Jim Crow system. This article is interesting… but ignores how much “laboratory” work is done by the other side, where Blue States are pioneering better election laws, support for science, and getting out of the insane War on Drugs. 

If Obama and Holder succeed in arm-twisting Maryland and Illinois to abandon gerrymandering, that horrific, treason-level crime – rejected by Democratic voters in most blue states -- will be one purely associated with the Republican Party. No longer the GOP but POC – Party of Cheaters.

Doomed to repeat history? You might be interested in the “Know Nothing” Party that surged briefly in the 1850s. Volcanically populist, “it was primarily anti-Catholicxenophobic, and hostile to immigration, starting originally as a secret society. The movement briefly emerged as a major political party in the form of the American Party. (See the diCaprio movie "Gangs of New York.) Adherents to the movement were to reply "I know nothing" when asked about its specifics by outsiders, thus providing the group with its common name.”  It didn’t fit any modern “left-right” spectrum… (in fact, neither do democrats and republicans today, since entrepreneurial markets do far better under the former and the GOP is the party of fiscal-mad deficits feeding into feudalism.) Notably, the Know Nothings favored more rights for women, amid a general agenda of prejudice and hostility toward people who “know.” One of these maps onto today’s confederatism. Guess which.

An interesting proposal for how to fix the Supreme Court in ways that will improve its process and outputs while returning us to a less partisan approach that is more sagacious.

== Provocative evidence ==

"It’s amazing enough that any U.S. president would retrospectively endorse the Soviet invasion (of Afghanistan). What’s even more amazing is that he would do so using the very same falsehoods originally invoked by the Soviets themselves: “terrorists” and “bandit elements," writes David Frum in The Atlantic.

Read this. Aloud to your aunts. (Your uncles are too far gone.) Putin's parrot now completes the passage of the American Confederacy 180 degrees into a cult defending the USSR. "(Putin) cares a lot about the image of the U.S.S.R. In 2005, Putin described the collapse of the Soviet Union as ...“the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century” He later vowed revenge on Clinton, Obama and Soros for "stealing the Ukraine" from Russia's rightful sphere of dominance. All of these are now demons to the mad-treasonous US right. who devote themselves to service to Lenin-raised KGB mafiosi.

Oh, Putin is a genius. his new Iron Curtain stretches from Moscow, Crimea and Ankara through Syria, Iraq and Tehran to the Straits of Hormuz, where his puppet has ordered a vulnerable US carrier strike group to serve as a sitting duck temptation to trigger a US-Iran "war" that can only be won by Russia. (Despite our hard-won energy independence from economic dependance on that awful region.) 

We may never know how many attempted pretext incitements the Navy has quietly dealt with, frustrating those eager for a "Tonkin" or "Gleiwitz." But God bless the brave, skilled men and women out there with presidentially assigned targets on their chests.

In the 1860s, the Confederacy never got its desperately wanted foreign ally. In this phase, the confederacy has embraced treason-complicity with foreign fascists and mafias actively waging war against us. This truly evil coalition has taken Washington. We - the Union - may need to march to the sea. 

== Saving civilization from high debt and slow growth? ==

I confess an ulterior motive for praising this cogent article by Tim Morgan. It begins with daunting news -- it's not only in the developed world that prosperity growth has stalled. The fast-rising upper half of the developing world has been the engine of the world economy for 20+ years, but that boiler is apparently cooling. And when you lack growth, then the fast-rising rate of debt - fueling rentier asset bubbles - becomes more than just a problem. It becomes a poison.
(To be clear, the Republican Party raved that Supply Side ("voodoo") tax gifts to the rich would both stimulate growth and reduce public debt. How many times must you prove 100% diametrically wrong before you lose credibility?)

Morgan is not without hope. There are ways to fix this, and they are rooted in what's worked ever-better for 200 years... entrepreneurial enterprise that is kept truly competitive by thoughtful-adaptive regulation that limits inevitable oligarchic cheating, of the sort that Adam Smith denounced and that our parents in the Greatest Generation wisely outlawed. And so we get to my favorite paragraph:

"The good news is that we’re not going into this new era wholly lacking in knowledge. The trick is to understand what that knowledge really is. Keynes teaches us how to manage demand – or can teach us this, so long as we don’t turn him into a cheerleader for ever bigger public spending. Likewise – if we can refrain from caricaturing him as a rabid advocate of unregulated and unscrupulous greed – Adam Smith tells us that competition, freely, fairly and transparently conducted, is the great engine of innovation. More humbly, or perhaps less theoretically, but surely more pertinently, experience tells us that the “mixed economy” of optimised private and public provision works far better than any extreme."

Several members of my blog community have linked to this, asking if I wrote it originally, so consistent is it with my own drums -- the study of Adam Smith and fiscally responsible Keynsianism, along with the spectacular success story of public investment in research, education, health and infrastructure, which can only be denied by the hysterically delusional.

No I didn't ghost write that -- (I lived in Britain for a couple of years, but would never spell "optimised" that way, shudder.) But I do recommend having a look. Tim Morgan continues:

"Going forward, we should anticipate the collapse of the “everything bubble” in asset prices, and should hope that we don’t, this time, go so far into economic denial as to think we can cure this with a purely financial “fix”. I’m fond of saying that “trying to fix an energy-based economy with financial fixes is like trying to cure an ailing pot-plant with a spanner”. We should understand popular concerns, which seem to point unequivocally towards a mixed economy, extensive redistribution and an economic nationalism that needs to be channelled, not simply vilified."
None of this will happen unless the last remaining Knowledge Castes who cling to the mad right finally acknowledge what the scientists, teachers, journalists, civil servants, skilled workers, and almost every fact-using profession - including the maligned "deep state" protectors - all know. That the worldwide mafia-oligarchy is not friend of anything we value. They are the Olde Feudal Enemy of every type of freedom and progress. And it will take all of us to achieve what the Greatest Generation did, a whole human lifetime ago Save civilization.

== Again, the greatest judo move Pelosi could pull... ==

While the reform package that will be passed by Democrats for the U.S. House of Representatives consists of all good things that will help improve ethics, efficiency and fairness, it's still fairly minor stuff. Democrats should pass rules that really change the dynamic, like permanently giving some power to the minority! 

Why do this, when that minority party is the Republicans? Because Democrats will be out again, sooner or later, silenced and impotent... unless they set precedents now!

My top proposal? Give every member of the House one subpoena per term, that can compel anyone to testify for 2 hours before a committee.

Sure, some GOPpers will use such a power to irritate and pursue grudges (virtually the only use to which they put subpoenas and hearings, when they were majority!) So? That means they'll be approving this minority right, institutionalizing it. (Maybe make that vow a necessary part of using that subpoena.) But other Republican legislators will wait, hoping to use their one subpoena to benefit the home district. And why not? Pulling them away from their caucus?

We've seen how the lack of such a minority power kept Congress from meaningfully exercising any meaningful oversight, when the only grownups (Democrats) had zero power to investigate anything at all. Envision how just 200 hours of such testimony, this last term, would have empowered Dems to apply accountability, even from a minority.

The crux: letting goppers vent blowhard-steam when they are in minority is a small price for letting demmies apply real accountability, when they have their minority turn.

It would also vest individual members with a measure of autonomy that might possibly lift their gaze from pure partisanship. 

It's one of several proposals in my FACT Act.

And finally....

Fascinating. During the harsh winter of 1776, in the wake of George Washington’s disaster at New York, but before they could learn about his triumphs at Trenton and Princeton, volunteer soldiers at Fort Ticonderoga fought a brief, one hour battle between Pennsylvania and Massachusetts bivouacs. More of a nasty brawl, because, despite slashing sabers and blazing muskets, no one died and order was re-established. Never knew this!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

From Oumuamua to Wormholes: Curiosities of space

The Handmaid's Tale, Putin-led putsch hasn't won yet!  We're still an amazing, scientific civilization on the verge of Star Trek levels of wisdom and expansion. Of course that frightens them, so let's start with some BIG time...

What will likely happen in a few billion years, when our Milky Way galaxy merges with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy? Both galaxies host supermassive black holes at their center, which will eventually smash together and merge into one larger black hole. A team analyzed 96 galaxies with X-Ray luminous cores observed with the Keck telescope and 385 galaxies from the Hubble archive. Their results suggest that more than 17 percent of these galaxies host a pair of black holes at their center, which are locked in the late stages of spiraling ever closer together before merging into a single, ultra-massive black hole. When they do merge... um... look out.

A pair of stars about 8000 light years from Earth are both Wolf-Rayets... precursors to supernovae... but also with so much angular momentum that the system is the first known candidate in the Milky Way to produce a dangerous gamma-ray burst, among the most energetic events in the universe, when it explodes and dies.  Look at an amazing image of the spiraling dust cloud. 

== Excellent journalism about a wild “sci fi” theory on wormholes ==

"... a paper that reported the first traversable wormhole that doesn’t require the insertion of exotic material to stay open. Instead, according to Ping Gao and Daniel Jafferis of Harvard University and Aron Wall of Stanford University, the repulsive negative energy in the wormhole’s throat can be generated from the outside by a special quantum connection between the pair of black holes that form the wormhole’s two mouths. 

"When the black holes are connected in the right way, something tossed into one will shimmy along the wormhole and, following certain events in the outside universe, exit the second. Remarkably, Gao, Jafferis and Wall noticed that their scenario is mathematically equivalent to a process called quantum teleportation, which is key to quantum cryptography and can be demonstrated in laboratory experiments."

John Preskill, a black hole and quantum gravity expert at Caltech, says the new traversable wormhole comes as a surprise, with implications for the black hole information paradox and black hole interiors. “What I really like,” he said, “is that an observer can enter the black hole and then escape to tell about what she saw.” This suggests that black hole interiors really exist, he explained, and that what goes in must come out.

It's way too early for us sci fi guys to shout "I told you so!" And these traversable wormholes still (probably) don't violate time or causality. Still, the explanatory journalism here is almost as amazing as the theory Natalie Wolchover describes so well.

== ‘Oumuamua… oh, my! ==

Abraham Loeb, is is chair of the astronomy department at Harvard University, and hence falls into a special category of scientists — those who are so widely respected and institutionally safe that they can choose: either become a staid, establishment defender-of-standard-paradigms, or else use that invulnerability to poke at ideas at the fringe, that might harm the career of someone less august. Alas that the public doesn’t know how prevalent these Invulnerable Paradigm Pokers (IPPs) in the latter category can be. I’ve known iconoclasts like Richard Feynman and Murray Gell Mann, and worked for one of the top Nobel-Laureate crackpots, Hannes Alfven. Hence I am unsurprised to see Loeb publishing a series of papers about our recent interstellar visitor ‘Oumuamua, suggesting “Six Strange Facts about our First (known) Interstellar Guest.

For those wondering where ‘Oumuamua came from, the answer is weird. It appears to have been almost motionless, relative to the Local Standard of Rest (LSR) or average movement of stars in our vicinity. “

The relative motion between `Oumuamua and the Sun reflects the motion of the Sun relative to the LSR. "`Oumuamua is like a buoy sitting at rest on the surface of the ocean, with the Solar System running into it like a fast ship. Could there be an array of buoys that serves as a network of relay stations or road posts, defining the average Galactic frame of reference in interstellar space? Loeb speculated. 

(Wow. A kindred spirit, this IPP. The only only clade who feel as free to speculate is we science fiction authors. And what a slander foxites and other spew, when they portray scientists as "conformists" clinging to standard theories!  Our species has never produced more competitive people.)

Of course Loeb mentions the strange trait of elongation, that led some to suggest the tumbling guest has a cigar-like length/width ratio from 5 to 10. That did catch the public imagination. Though Loeb and others now suggest a pancake like shape, or possibly even a flat plane, like a sail.

Infrared readings from ‘Oumuamua’s close passage by the sun suggest it reflected away most of the  heat that poured over it, suggesting a rather shiny surface.

Much has been made of the measured acceleration or course deviation the object endured, on its way out of our inner solar system. The standard hypothesis is that ‘Oumuamua experienced outgassing thrust, which we have observed altering the trajectories of many comets. But can this happen without formation of a comet’s traditional coma and tails? Back when I did my doctoral work on cometary outgassing, I showed how an elderly comet might be coated by insulating layers that alter the amount and timing of sublimation of underlying volatiles which could explain the delay in outgassing. Loeb asserts that the observed trajectory change could only have happened if “at least a tenth of its mass evaporated. “If so, wow. But I’d like to see that assertion examined. This part has me really skeptical.

Some of the anomalous traits that Loeb ascribes to ‘Oumuamua might have resulted from the surface of normal cometary dust having been baked and polymerized by interstellar UV and cosmic radiation across billions of years. Such a polymerized surface might open like a FLAP and allow a gas jet that's both directional and almost free of dust

Loeb goes on to give some support to the notion that this was an interstellar light sail. Indeed, my novel EXISTENCE proposes a galaxy almost chock-full of such things, either active or defunct! 

There are some other “unusual traits,” but they are statistical appraisals of likelihood of orbital characteristics, and hence poor grist for a sensationalist (?) site and audience like this one. In any event, this paper is brand new, circulating only in manuscript. So you will have to wait a bit to get your hands on it, yourselves. Alas?

== Are there geological traces of stupid? ==

There have long been arguments over whether we can be sure there were never previous civilizations on Earth.  I’ve long dismissed the idea for many reasons.

First -- unless our descendants scrape away the dross and dump it into subduction trenches (as I depict in Brightness Reef), our cities will be glaring beacons – rich, layered ore deposits – that stand out billions (yes, billions) of years from now. Of course a previous sophont race – or failed colony - might have had only a few cities and our core samples just happen to have missed them.

While ignoring that clue, this article by Adam Frank sifts others, like the veneer of plastic we’re spreading everywhere, which ought to be traceable for many tens of millions of years, or anomalous Nitrogen ratios from our sudden spike in fertilizer use. While we’ve wisely avoided spewing much radioactive fallout across the countryside, some small traces are detectable e.g. in Jimmy Carter’s urine (another story) and an earlier tech society might have been more foolish.

The article focuses in on the chief effect we’re having, causing this era to be inarguably the Anthropocene… our effects upon both species extinctions and the climate. “If a civilization uses fossil fuels, the climate change they trigger can lead to a large decrease in ocean oxygen levels.” 

We’re already seeing ocean acidification. (Use those two words on your mad uncles and any member of the Denialist Cult. Dare them to go to the beach to measure it with you; their cult needs to be aggressively confronted, for your children’s sake.)  If global warming causes a runaway “blurp” of methane hydrates from the seabed and tundra, then we could be in real trouble. BIG trouble…

…but not as much trouble as every Republican who helped perpetrate this disaster. Their names, face, addresses are all on record, yes even the location of the top lords' Patagonian hideaways. And the “liberal” society that now protects them is the number one thing they seem bent on tearing down.

It's all right. Today's posting was just a sampling of work being done by real geniuses, and not the self-declared "stable" kind. And those who think they can re-establish feudalism without being noticed -- or opposed vigorously -- by folks who know genetic engineering, chemistry, epidemiology, cybernetics, nuclear fission and the rest... those folks are proving which category of delusion they occupy.