Thursday, February 23, 2017

#MakeAmericaSmartAgain Exoplanet discovery: What does Nasa's announcement mean - and should we be excited about TRAPPIST-1?

This is totally cool. NASA found a series of planets outside of our solar system that revolve around a sun, and perhaps some of them could harbor life. This article parses the discovery and announcement.

Watch the video to see more. I love, love, love scientific discovery!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Here's the thing: science edition

Here's my issue with the government decision to allow for pollution and increase coal production, coupled with a decision to deny science.

And I can assure you this is not going where you think it is.

I'll look at coal first. The coal industry is dying. While it's nice to say that you want to bring back jobs the reality is that companies in the US have moved on from coal into other things. While you could make a case for it being environmental, it was economics.

Companies - bigger ones that might burn coal - invested in more efficient and less costly items. To go backward to coal would be costly and it's unlikely they will.

Second is the demand for coal from other countries, namely china. Sure you can sell them coal for now. But they announced their plans to move on from coal within the next decade or so, so any gains made in the sale of coal there will be short-lived. Plus, undoubtedly there would be some trade negotiation that would have to happen to make it worthwhile for either side.

And third is that while there may be a demand for coal, the ability to extract it has seen some technological enhancements that require less labor than in years past. And thinking about trade negotiations, supposing a Chinese company bought some mines; would they be content to hire US labor or would they try to outsource it?

And now let's turn to science. Our government has decided science isn't so important. I could go on here and talk about environmental science, but I won't. Instead, I want to talk about the broader sense of science. For some reason, our government doesn't feel science is important on pretty much any level.

It's basic science here. If we are a nation that truly wants to prosper, we should embrace science, scientific evidence, and really promote its growth. Don't muzzle places like the CDC, NASA, and others simply because you don't like some of what they say.

Our prosperity. Our future. Those should hinge on science and evidence based findings. We can ignore them at our peril.

So here's what's likely to happen in the next decade: the US will be backward and uneducated. While other countries that invested in science will prosper. We will be playing catchup to the world - all while having a very short term prosperous moment, because we chose to invest in coal.

No. I say don't muzzle scientists of any sort. Encourage them. Back them. Support them. Let their findings help us develop our future. I don't care if it's climate science or technological advances.

Suppose the next great scientist who revolutionized the world comes from somewhere else? Wouldn't that suck because we're not the greatest? How can we take that chance?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

#MakeAmericaSmartAgain Curiosity Just Sent Back Some Mysterious Inconsistencies

This is what makes science cool. You form a theory based on empirical evidence. Then, you collect new evidence and you refine your theory. Sometimes it turns out that there is a contradiction, or that your initial theory was wrong. But that just causes you to dig deeper.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Deep thoughts 3/3 - is this the plan?

Looking over the landscape of what's happening, consider this:

People being deported, leaves low wage, high labor jobs unfilled.

Removing healthcare and changing rules on labor disproportionately affects lower income Americans.

Removing any remaining consumer/banking protections means lower income Americans will probably find themselves in debt fairly easily.

And with nowhere to turn, they'll have to take the low wage, high labor jobs that are unfilled.

And essentially they become indentured servants to "the man" ensuring that the top 1% return to an era adjacent to the time just after the civil war.

Unless we stop the insanity, of course.

Deep thoughts 2/3 el Donald's supporters

I find it interesting that those that don't support el donaldo, and who think he's already gone too far are called "snowflakes" - and yet the orange snowflake can't handle criticism of any kind. Who's the real snowflake here?

Also, the pussyhat wearing crowd has the right to protest. Whether other folks like it or not. And it's such protests that got the right in the first place.

...and its interesting how these protests have been peaceful and well thought out.

Meanwhile I notice that those who oppose it plan protests with guns. It's a faux show of superiority, which is absurd. And when I read though social media posts, el donaldos supporters tend to threaten violence and talk about "support him or its civil war"

What is that?

Deep thoughts 1/3. That's enough of a chance for el Donald

After the election we were told to give the guy a chance. To prove....something. Perhaps that he was a worthy leader?

He's held the position for about a month and the question is: how much of a chance is anyone suggesting we give him.

I say that time has passed and we've given him enough time. He's proven to be a petulant child, between constantly bickering with everyone and the bullshit fake news that he and his posse keep spouting.

He has appointed unqualified people for positions they have no business holding.

He has been exceptionally harsh on immigration. Now to be fair, I think just allowing people to just stay is not the answer. But I think the rules should be applied evenly to Europeans who are here illegally as well. And to allow for a due process rather than simply sending people to what amounts to limbo.

So yeah, you had a chance to prove your worth. You didn't, so time to have a serious call to action. Come on elected leaders! Wake up!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The vote totals in Florida

I read something this morning that mentioned that Florida had an unusual election outcome. The article pointed out that it was "convenient" that the law in Florida was changed in the last several years so that the only person who could call for a recount is the states attorney general, a person who had close ties to trump.

And they pointed that there appears to be some amount of voting irregularity. And here's the thing: they're right.

According to the official totals from the Florida department of elections:
Floridas official turnout was 9,580,489
Votes cast for president were 9,420,039
Votes cast for senate seat were 9,301,820

What gives?

On the surface, what this means is that 160,000 people turned out to vote but did NOT fill in the line for president. In a hotly contested election for president, that does not make sense, does it? I get a ballot, in person or by mail, and I leave the president line blank?

Logically, I would imagine that you could account for some of it because voters didn't mark the ballot properly. And to be fair that's close to 2%, so it's at least possible, statistically speaking. But it still seems unusual.

You could make the case that perhaps they showed up for the down ballot races, but I think you can throw that idea out. The first down ballot item was the senate seat, and its vote total was below the president. I had heard it suggested that medical marijuana drew in the difference. There were about 9.1 million people who voted on that ballot question.

Certainly there could be some confounding: some people may have voted for just the marijuana item, while others may have voted just for president. There is some downloadable data available from the state, so it may be worth a look...but my first glance at it suggests it may not be useful for such an analysis.

So to me, it still seems like something is amiss.

Let's look at this another way. Hillary lost by about 113,000 votes. The number of votes cast for president was about 120,000 more than were cast for the senate. Of course, it's very likely that some voters only showed up to vote for the top of the ticket, so it can be easily explained.

But it is interesting that the top of the ticket won by almost that difference. Of course that could be a coincidence, too. But you get the idea. It is just unusual enough to warrant more discussion than it ever got.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

This kind of nonsense makes me crazy: the world is flat?!

Kyrie Irving went on a podcast and questioned a lot of things.  Things that are demonstrably fact.  He questioned things like dinosaurs, and the aforementioned flat earth.

Then, he doubled down and said he liked to question things and was amused to see the reaction.

This is dumbassery at its finest.  And this.  This is what is wrong with society.  The. Earth. Is. Not. Flat.  

Friday, February 10, 2017

Donald Trump has successfully buried the story that worries him most

Yes. This. Russia's ties to Trump. Unlike the bullshit fakery of bowling green. This is real. This is serious. And el donaldo wants you to forget about it.

I won't. And you shouldn't either.

#ReadYourWorld #BookWorm read on!

I just finished Crescent Dawn. And yes, I checked it out of the library!

While it may not be great literature, it was an entertaining action story. It may be 600 pages but it's an easy read. ;)

Doesn't matter what you read. Just read for fun and enrich yourself!

Words from Bernice King, daughter of MLK

On her Facebook page - be a king - Bernice writes this:

10 steps to deal with Trump and take back our democratic government. 

  1. Don't use his name; EVER (45 will do) [later she updated to say whenever, and personally I like el donaldo]
  2. Remember this is a regime and he's not acting alone;
  3. Do not argue with those who support him–it doesn't work;
  4. Focus on his policies, not his orange-ness and mental state;
  5. Keep your message positive; they want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow;
  6. No more helpless/hopeless talk;
  7. Support artists and the arts;
  8. Be careful not to spread fake news. Check it;
  9. Take care of yourselves; and
  10. Resist!

'Keep demonstrations peaceful. In the words of John Lennon, "When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system's game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight! Because once they've got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don't know how to handle is non-violence and humor."

'When you post or talk about him, don't assign his actions to him, assign them to "The Republican Administration," or "The Republicans." This will have several effects: the Republican legislators will either have to take responsibility for their association with him or stand up for what some of them don't like; he will not get the focus of attention he craves; Republican representatives will become very concerned about their re-elections.'

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Read. Learn. Understand.

Devos was confirmed as secretary of education, at least in part because she donated heavily to several senators campaigns.

We may not like it. And she may set out to destroy education. So what can we do?

I suggest a couple of things:
Be vocal with your elected officials, school boards, and others that help with education.

And more importantly, I urge everyone to read more. To learn more. To be critical in their thinking. To take part in your children's education and not leave it to the schools.

We can and should do more to better ourselves.

We've jumped the shark. Again.

We jumped the shark when el donaldo "won" (yes I'm still on that) the election.

Yesterday, we circled around and jumped it again.

I mean really?
* Devos got confirmed.
* Melanie sued a newspaper for defamation and loss of business because they called her an escort. How about nudie model? That. Is. fact.
* senator warren was admonished for speaking up in the senate

Something about it all made me think we reached a point where we jumped it again.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Trump glasses

See the world through the Donald's lens

#ReadYourWorld #BookWorm Narrative of Frederick Douglass

Based on him being in the news due to a certain famous person mentioning him, I decided to read his autobiography.

It was difficult to read, mainly because a couple of generations removed, it's hard to understand owning people, and surely the cruelty and brutality is startling.

But ... it was worth working through all of it, to understand - however superficially - what life was like for a slave.

Douglass was a champion of sorts, a hero in a surprising way. Through luck, perseverance, and an indomitable human spirit, he became an educated free man.

This is recommended reading. Surely, there are aspects of what he endured that are still around today....

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Religious freedom

Congress is expected to introduce a "religious freedom" bill that would allow for discrimination on the basis for religion. Of course, it's unconstitutional, but as they say "you can't have a battle of wits with an unarmed man."
But here's the problem. I could find a way to discriminate against pretty much anyone based on what's in the good ole book. 
Let me show you what I mean using the Donald and the 10 commandments as my reference point:
Worship god? One could argue his businesses are more important to him and that offends my beliefs. 
Honor your parents? His mother was an immigrant. He does not honor her memory with his stance on immigration. 
The sabbath? I could say I was offended by the photo I saw of him in church. He looked bored. I think he would rather have been golfing. 
Idolatry? He loves gold and big buildings. 
Blasphemy? I know he has said "god damn" and that isn't acceptable!
Murder? Just thinking that he could kill someone and get away with it violates the principle. He insults the 10 commandments.
Adultery is the easiest one. Guy got around while he was married. And his comments about grabbing women by the pussy rightly insults me. 
Theft? Maybe he stole an election. But in a more specific sense he has clearly stolen from people who work for him, investors, and others. I got a problem with that. 
Dishonesty? The man lies constantly. He talks in alternative facts. That offends me!
And coveting? Clearly his ways of coveting other women and other people's possessions - and even the grand adulation - I can't take that. 
So you can see how it would be easy to apply it to anyone. It's a broad paintbrush anyone can use to promote hatred. It's absurd. 
So here's where this nets out for me. If it somehow becomes law I am going to discriminate against stupid people, because that's my right. And I'll use this as my reasoning:
Proverbs 13:16 "All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly."
I would be legally able to discriminate against anyone who chooses not to use knowledge!
So at least there's a silver lining. 
Not really of course but it underscores the ignorance of this proposed law. 

#MakeAmericaSmartAgain Egypt unearths 7,000-year-old lost city | Science | The Guardian

Cool find in Egypt! And much older than the seti temple nearby.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

#MakeAmericaSmartAgain -narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was mentioned yesterday, but have you read his autobiography? You can understand who the man was in his own words. And best of all you can read it online - for free - at the Gutenberg project.

Or you can download his later autobiography about the war and life afterward at the life and times of Frederick Douglass