Brainy Quote of the Day

Friday, October 4, 2019

The Sons of Jacob...

Warning signs hang in a church in Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. Hulu | Vox

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Note: Taking a blog break as I prepare for midterms. I'll reemerge in about two weeks.

The Sons of Jacob are the conspiratorial group that devised the philosophy and social structure for a totalitarian patriarchal theocracy and orchestrated the rise of Gilead.

A founder of a local Sons of Jacob chapter tells the Boston Globe in an interview he read about the community in a Facebook group and got into it because he wanted to help "the kids" to "get them out of gangs and away from their sinful families and into a better way of [life]."

According to Offred, "'they' shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress, and the army declared a state of emergency". She adds "they blamed it on the Islamic fanatics" and that "the entire government" was "gone like that", making her wonder "how did 'they' get in". Later on "they suspended the Constitution" which they said "would be temporary". Moira suspects "they've been building up to this".

Source: The Sons of Jacob, The Handmaid's Tale Fandom Wiki

Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid's Tale in 1985. The Sons of Jacob didn't have Facebook or social media, so their emergence was from a fictionalized decline in birthrates that propelled them to act out of fear for survival. Being 1985, it would have never occurred to the writer to bring an outside force from Russia favoring the Sons of Jacob to assist them first electorally: we were in the Cold War and apparently still litigating the Civil War. The author pointed out in an interview, what seems sudden in a coup d'etat typically happens first in the background. Outside the awareness of the country, it suddenly overruns an unsuspecting public with a surprise assault.

Impeachment is not necessarily for a crime. He can be impeached for not fulfilling his presidential duties nominating candidates (preferring "acting" positions) for senate confirmation in their constitutional duty to "advise and consent" (obliterated by Moscow Mitch with respect to President Obama and Merrick Garland).

[The president] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States... Senate.gov

Now...Caligula tweets threats of civil war and witness intimidation, yet another ground for impeachment. Twenty-four hours after denying he strong-armed the Ukrainian president, did it AGAIN from the White House lawn, involving China. The fact he has a shot-in-foot trade war with them is bizarre, and the equivalent of falling on his own Sword of Damocles.

Public-opinion polling shows that Trump’s low opinion of American elections has practically become Republican Party orthodoxy. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday, Republicans have an “unprecedented” level of “concern and mistrust in the system.” Roughly 70 percent of Republican voters believe that if Hillary Clinton wins the election, it’ll be due to fraud. In both this poll and an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll, only half of Republicans say they’d accept a Clinton victory. (In the latter poll, by contrast, 82 percent of Democrats said they would accept a Trump victory.)

This suspicious Republican electorate is joined by growing ranks of conservative politicians, pundits, and intellectuals. They’re all increasingly willing to say that the existing American political system is hopelessly flawed and needs to be rolled back to the days before blacks and women could vote. On the most obvious level, this can be seen in moves by Republican governors all over America to make voting more difficult, through stringent voting ID laws, new hurdles to registration, and the curtailment of early-voting options. Equally significant has been the gutting of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act by conservative Supreme Court justices in the 2013 Shelby Country v. Holder ruling.

But these overt forms of voting suppression are merely the most visible manifestations of a larger questioning of democracy on the political right. Trump’s anti-democratic rhetoric—and the eagerness of so many good, white patriotic Americans to cheer it and believe it—is a symptom of the larger trend on the political right toward doubting the legitimacy of the American system. The question we need to be asking isn’t, “Why is Trump being such a jerk?” It’s, “Why is the American Right giving up on democracy?”

The Right Is Giving Up on Democracy, Jeet Heer, New Republic, October 24, 2016

William Barr, the nation's top cop, isn't fighting the Opioid Crisis at home, but globetrotting after debunked conspiracy theories to link Ukraine to the DNC server hack, not Russia, therefore discrediting the Mueller Report and thus, justify lifting any sanctions against them. Rudy Giuliani - America's mayor after 9/11 - is passing around said debunked conspiracy theories in Trump hotel folders with monogrammed stationary. Mike Pompeo is denying unsuccessfully testimony to the House Intelligence Committee regarding his complicity in the Ukrainian call, which he eventually admitted being on. Mike Pompeo is a graduate of West Point. Mike Pompeo is a Harvard Law graduate. He's supposedly a "Christian" with a penchant for mendacity that is only eclipsed by Orange Satan.

At my previous job before graduate school, one of my coworkers was lamenting about the "birth rate decline of white people" right outside of my office. He had three children, the guy nodding next to him had FIVE and the next two gents two and three children respectively. For the record: I have two sons, a daughter-in-law; a granddaughter (not then). I clearly was outnumbered. White supremacy is if nothing, anxiously numerical.

I closed the door to my office. It wasn't worth a reply.

The Sons of Jacob are fictional, but the fear of "white genocide" is quite real and first retweeted by the Manchurian Candidate now at Pennsylvania Avenue.

The prospect of civil war was first opined by evangelical (evil-gelical) pastor Robert Jeffress, again retweeted by an addled, Internet addicted and disturbed mind. Franklin Graham can't recall a SINGLE lie told by the "father of lies." He made #Antichrist trend on Twitter after his self-apotheosis as "the chosen one." I guess such a figure needs anti-Christian followers in his flock, as neither remotely reminds me of Christ.

White Americans own a lot of guns, brought on by "fear of the other": demographically, evangelicals became numerical minorities in 2017. Some openly discuss the aspect of a modern civil war. One of my friends from undergraduate at NC A&T, said so. Working as a GS engineer for the US Navy, they openly discussed a race war with the only African American engineer in the division and the rounds of ammunition they purchased for the "Turner Diaries"-inspired bloodbath. My wife heard similar sentiments from her coworkers at her employment where she is also the only African American.

The impeachments of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were successful in their respective House of Representatives only. Nixon seeing the biblical "handwriting on the wall," resigned before removal. Even with the mounting evidence, and if impeachment is successful for the first time in our history: If his removal is recommended by Moscow Mitch's senate, their constituent's collective pathology may be worth tearing our republic to bits over. I shudder over that apocalyptic scenario.

I'm not sure their blindness lets them see it: fascist sons of bitches erecting this bullshit mountain will not "make America great again," turn back the clock on climate change; make coal or petroleum clean, bring back factory and farm jobs, de-globalize the world economy, make women barefoot and perpetually pregnant, put black, brown and anyone other-than-white-people on the back of the bus, LGBT back in the closet or inaugurate a Dominionism-inspired Republic of Gilead.

In fiction, Moira suspected "they've been building up to this".

They are building us up to something...

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Adaption and Extinction...

Source: Internet Movie Database
Topics: Biology, Climate Change, Existentialism, Philosophy, Politics

Though the movie poster is an attempt at dark humor, I do agree with the science. We're in a time of our history where science is being suborned to political and economic considerations, when we need it literally for survival.

From a biological perspective, there is no such thing as devolution. All changes in the gene frequencies of populations--and quite often in the traits those genes influence--are by definition evolutionary changes. The notion that humans might regress or "devolve" presumes that there is a preferred hierarchy of structure and function--say, that legs with feet are better than legs with hooves or that breathing with lungs is better than breathing with gills. But for the organisms possessing those structures, each is a useful adaptation.

Chief among these misconceptions is that species evolve or change because they need to change to adapt to shifting environmental demands; biologists refer to this fallacy as teleology. In fact, more than 99 percent of all species that ever lived are extinct, so clearly there is no requirement that species always adapt successfully. As the fossil record demonstrates, extinction is a perfectly natural--and indeed quite common--response to changing environmental conditions. When species do evolve, it is not out of need but rather because their populations contain organisms with variants of traits that offer a reproductive advantage in a changing environment.

Is the human race evolving or devolving? July 20, 1998, Scientific American

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

China's Superpower...

Chinese revolutionary poster promoting the study of science in 1980. Credit: Pictures From History/akg-images

Topics: Education, Existentialism, Politics, Science, Research

The opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing featured ancient China’s four great inventions: the compass, printing press, paper and gunpowder. The lesson on display, as taught in classrooms across the country that today publishes the most research papers, is that Chinese innovation in science and technology changed the world.

Yet less than a hundred years before, the Chinese philosopher Feng Youlan wrote the provocative essay ‘Why China Has No Science’1. The scholar — trained at Columbia University in New York City — argued that from antiquity, the nation’s philosophical traditions and unique understanding of the human relationship to nature had prevented the spirit of scientific inquiry from taking root. Feng, like many others at the time and since, urged that science was the only salvation for a nation in precipitous decline.

Placing the efforts to change the perceived lack of science in the context of China’s turbulent modern history is key to understanding how the nation arrived at its current superpower state. The red thread that runs through China’s past 150 years is its unwavering belief in science as the path to wealth and power. The entangled relationship between research and nationalism in China has obscured how this belief grew from a combination of foreign influence and Chinese adaptation 2,3. Particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, the Chinese government tried to focus on home-grown science, and succeeded in areas such as agriculture and medicine. But in the longer view, the periods of greatest advancement were those when China opened to outside influence.

It’s a salutary lesson as we brace for the challenges of the next 150 years, including climate change, resource depletion and space exploration. These require a broad engagement with the world.

1. Feng, Y.-l. Int. J. Ethics 32, 237–263 (1922).
2. Meng, Y. East Asian Sci. Technol. Med. 16, 13–52 (1999).
3. Huters, T. Bringing the World Home: Appropriating the West in Late Qing and Early Republican China (Univ. Hawaii Press, 2005).

China: How science made a superpower, Shellen Wu, Nature

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Lightness of Stupidity...

Anti-evolution books on sale during the Scopes "Monkey Trial" in 1925. Credit: Getty Images

Topics: Biology, Civics, Climate Change, Education, Science, Research

History.com: Scopes Monkey Trial

Nearly a quarter of a million science teachers are hard at work in public schools in the United States, helping to ensure that today’s students are equipped with the theoretical knowledge and the practical know-how they will need to flourish in tomorrow’s world. Ideally, they are doing so with the support of the lawmakers in their state’s legislatures. But in 2019 a handful of legislators scattered across the country introduced more than a dozen bills that threaten the integrity of science education.

It was a mixed batch, to be sure. In Indiana, Montana and South Carolina, the bills sought to require the misrepresentation of supposedly controversial topics in the science classroom, while in North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota, their counterparts were content simply to allow it. Meanwhile, bills in Connecticut, Florida and Iowa aimed beyond the classroom, targeting supposedly controversial topics in the state science standards and (in the case of Florida) instructional materials.

Despite their variance, the bills shared a common goal: undermining the teaching of evolution or climate change. Sometimes it is clear: the one in Indiana would have allowed local school districts to require the teaching of a supposed alternative to evolution, while the Montana bill would have required the state’s public schools to present climate change denial. Sometimes it is cloaked in vague high-sounding language about objectivity and balance, requiring a careful analysis of the motives of the sponsors and supporters.

Either way, though, such bills would frustrate the purpose of public science education. Students deserve to learn about scientific topics in accordance with the understanding of the scientific community. With the level of acceptance of evolution among biomedical scientists at 99 percent, and the level of acceptance of climate change among climate scientists not far behind at 97 percent, it is a disservice to students to misrepresent these theoretically and practically important topics as scientifically controversial.


Science Education Is Under Legislative Attack, Glen Branch, Scientific American

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Whims of Tyche...

Fossil of trilobite that evolved following the mid-Ordovician ice age. | Birger Schmitz

Topics: Asteroids, Astronomy, Biology, Planetary Science

Tyche: Modern Greek: [ˈti.çi] "luck"; Roman equivalent: Fortuna) was the presiding tutelary deity who governed the fortune and prosperity of a city, its destiny. In Classical Greek mythology, she is the daughter of Aphrodite and Zeus or Hermes. Source: Wikipedia

Dust from the breakup of a 150-kilometer- (93 mile) diameter asteroid may have caused — or at least intensified — an ice age half a billion years ago, providing the impetus for a sweeping array of aquatic animal adaptations that shaped today's spectacularly diverse ocean ecosystems, according to a new study published in the September 20 issue of Science Advances.

The authors uncovered extraterrestrial material in sediments that correlate the timing of asteroid breakup with a major dip in sea level frequently attributed to the onset of the Mid-Ordovician ice age. Their findings suggest that asteroid dust may have settled in Earth's atmosphere, shading the planet from the sun's radiation and cooling global temperatures.

While extraterrestrial dust only accounts for about one percent of the modern atmosphere and does not impact the climate, large quantities of dust lingering for several hundred thousand years or more would be expected to cause global cooling.

"This is the first time anyone has shown that asteroid breakups and asteroid dust can lead to ice ages," said Birger Schmitz, a professor of geology at Lund University in Sweden and the first author of the study. "This is also the first time since the discovery of the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs that an important event in the history of life has been tied to an astronomical event."

Asteroid Dust May Have Triggered Ice Age and Sea Life Explosion
Shannon Kelleher, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Friday, September 27, 2019

Man Without a Country...

Source: Book vs. Flick: Stephen King's IT, Sara Century
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

"I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Source: 5 U.S. Code § 3331.Oath of office, Cornell Law School

"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44

This is a man without a country and really, a party without a country.

He is a man without a country because he has nothing beyond his wallet he truly believes in. He wasn't a liberal the sixty-five years he was a member of the Democratic Party; he's by far not a conservative in the Republican Party whose racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia he has driven nakedly to its logical conclusion of fascism. He obviously had the building blocks to exploit. Pathological lying is one of his many visible mental disorders. He would rather run a hustle than study, as true education would be an admittance he doesn't know everything, and his narcissistic personality disorder simply won't allow anything but his self-deluded, deified perfection, and enablers willingly reflecting back the adulation that has no bottom.

His soul and wallet are equally owned by Vladimir Putin because Russian oligarchs were the only ones that would loan him any money when he burned his bridges with any legitimate American banking institution after SIX bankruptcies - it takes special talent to lose money in gambling casinos. He is evidence of what it looks like when one man who metaphorically and quite literally "gains the world," and sells his soul (if he ever had one).

The hearing yesterday shows just how far the former party of Lincoln and Reagan has fallen from the ideal of whatever conservatism - envisioned by William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater was supposed to mean.

The whistle blower charge has been declassified. The agent has also been threatened with the only constitutional punishment for treason by Orange Caligula in a breathtaking display of projection. The current constitutional crisis we find ourselves in may either prove our democratic ideals, or damn them to disorganized tribalism. I am literally praying for our continuance as a nation.

The idea of a Director of National Intelligence dates back to the 1950s, but was instituted specifically after the attacks on 9/11. It's main purpose is to coordinate the myriad agencies - the same seventeen that conclusively pointed to Russian interference in 2016 - that weren't talking to each other before the attacks. It is supposed to be a senate confirmed position; there have been two confirmed and two acting directors.

Acting DNI Joseph Maguire is senate confirmed - for the counter-terrorism task force, per his previous skill sets as a Navy Seal. We currently have a dysfunctional, dystopian system of "acting" positions, due to the record turnover of government workforce (currently at 78%, a record in less than four years) and the lack of desire by those sane to work for someone clearly unstable.

*****

The Reality Of What They Are
Formatted reality shows are essentially game shows, because there is a specific structure, set rules, and a clear winner. What makes them exciting to watch is the fact that they are often clever dramatic social experiments. To truly connect with an audience and have entertainment value in a show, the idea needs to be as fun to watch as it is to participate in.

Docuseries reality shows allow us to witness life unfold for a person, family, business, or group set within a lifestyle and circumstance that creates entertaining and compelling content. The reason viewers tune in is because we have an insatiable appetite for witnessing and being entertained by the human experience.


This formulaic reality show will not work for very much longer. It's not even fun to watch.

We were attacked on 9/11. We were attacked during the 2016 presidential elections. We are open for slaughter and attack by those same forces, and we've been damned lucky another 9/11-style attack hasn't happened, or that the current kleptocracy hasn't spurred or allowed one to happen! That will unify nothing except our devolution into chaos. It's easy if the United States became a failed state, for the world currency to switch from the dollar to the Chinese Yuan without a blink. They could relocate the UN and Wall Street to Europe. We could in a fortnight become a byword and a historical footnote.

He is a man who has never had a country like any lover or wife he's not unwilling to cheat on.

My concern is as a people, WE have a country instead of a badlands of anarchy.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Next FET...

Source: Modeling Carbon Nanotube FET Physics in COMSOL Multiphysics®

Topics: Applied Physics, Carbon Nanotubes, Field Effect Transistors, Nanotechnology

Silicon field-effect transistors (FETs) were developed in the late 1950s as a scaled-down, energy-efficient substitute for bipolar junction transistors. They paved the way for the high-density integrated circuits that today underlie most electronics (see the article by Alan Fowler, Physics Today, October 1993, page 59). With their lower gate voltages, carbon nanotube FETs could surpass silicon FET energy efficiency by nearly a factor of 10. In 2013 Subhasish Mitra, Max Shulaker (then at Stanford University), and coworkers made the first CNFET microprocessor; it comprised 178 transistors and could run a single operation.

Variability caused by the production process has made moving beyond that proof-of-concept computer challenging. Gage Hills, Christian Lau, and coworkers in Shulaker’s group at MIT have now overcome that hurdle with a protocol for wafer-scale CNFET microprocessor production. Their technique is also compatible with existing CMOS infrastructure, which lowers the bar for future commercial implementation.

To remove carbon nanotube aggregates—a common contaminant from CNT deposition on silicon wafers—the researchers spin-coated a layer of adhesive polymer over the device and then removed the aggregates using ultrasonic vibrations. In previous attempts, sonication damaged the nonaggregated CNTs. Using the photoresist binds them to the wafer, which preserves their function while removing more than 99% of the aggregates.

Production of carbon nanotube microprocessors gets scaled up
Christine Middleton, Physics Today