Brainy Quote of the Day

Friday, January 17, 2020

Drug Deals and Bullshit...

Image Source: Philosophy Talk, "Is There a Case for Bullshit?" by Serena Wong
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern. We have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other words, as Harry Frankfurt writes, “we have no theory.”

Frankfurt, one of the world’s most influential moral philosophers, attempts to build such a theory here. With his characteristic combination of philosophical acuity, psychological insight, and wry humor, Frankfurt proceeds by exploring how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying. He argues that bullshitters misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by deliberately making false claims about what is true. In fact, bullshit need not be untrue at all.

Rather, bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant. Frankfurt concludes that although bullshit can take many innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the practitioner’s capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.

On Bullshit, Harry G. Frankfurt

Well, he used it in a rally. They finally embodied it in a president* that's clearly fatter than when he started "executive time" or something, because golfing on the government dime isn't burning any calories, nor are his prodigious tweeting bowel movements.

*Putin-installed puppet

Level 1 Bullshit Artists

Pilgrims coming for "religious freedom." Winthrop's "shining city on a hill" was a shit pile of lies. His utopia looked like proto "Handmaid's Tale." Dude didn't even like Quakers. WHO doesn't like Quakers? You damned near died your first winter, in some cases resorting to cannibalism, systematically slaughtered the First Nation Peoples who GOT you through that winter and masked the genocide in the false memory of Thanksgiving propagated as propaganda to introduce Black Friday and the holiday binge buying season where everybody's broke in January. Happy capitalism. Socialism is evil. Ask Denmark.

Level 2 Bullshit Artists

Slavery. When you saw the road was rough with thorns and thistles; the First Nation peoples had bows, arrows and occasionally guns showing you how pissed they were when you tried to genocide them, you and Great Britain went to the continent of Africa, payed off some douche chieftains that wanted to get rid of rivals and use uncompensated labor to make yourselves rich beyond Solomon's dreams. Your government documents state your reason to secede was about slavery and your revulsion of black people, so don't bullshit me, you or anyone else. You balk at reparations because it's like pulling the thread of your favorite suit, watching the entire structure unravel. I get why you're nostalgic over the "peculiar institution." Bullshit artists are lazy. See "executive time."

Level 3 Bullshit Artists

I call bullshit on the revered "Founding Fathers." Your papered-over Tea Party in Boston Harbor wasn't a noble act of rebellion: you were COLONISTS. You didn't hitchhike to America! Britain paid your cruise ship tickets on the Mayflower. You essentially saw a way NOT to pay your taxes. (Your descendants created lawyers, loopholes and offshore bank accounts for that now.) "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal"...except black men, black women, their children and descendants; white women didn't vote until 1920. African Americans didn't get the Voting Rights Act until 1965, and THAT has to be periodically reauthorized! It barely passed this last time, like republicans might want to vote slavery back in.

Level 4 Bullshit Artists

The Fairness Doctrine: "In the Radio Act of 1927, Congress dictated that the FCC (and its predecessor, the Federal Radio Commission) should only issue broadcast licenses when doing so serves the public interest. In 1949, the FCC interpreted this more strictly to mean that licensees should include discussions of matters of public importance in their broadcasts, and that they should do so in a fair manner. It issued “In the Matter of Editorializing by Broadcast Licensees,” which announced the Fairness Doctrine, and began enforcing it."


It's after the 1987 repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, right wing AM talk radio and Rush Limbaugh became the darling of the trucker set and the foundation of the echo chamber that would eventually become Roger Ailes Fox "News," 4Chann, 8Chann, Infowars and QAnon. Read the above underline statement, and ask yourself if they do.

Level 5 Bullshit Artists

The Fox News Channel (FNC) is an American basic cable and satellite news television channel that was founded by media mogul Rupert Murdoch in 1996. Roger Ailes appointed himself as permanent CEO of the news operation in 2001 & was created as a Republican-centered alternative to CNN. In January 2002, the ratings of the channel surpassed top-rated CNN to become the #1 news cable channel. They fell in March 2002, but since then the network has maintained its #1 cable rating (as of 2019) with increasing viewership and international access. Wikipedia

Ailes was a staffer in the Nixon administration, and of course thought any republican president should be allowed to get away with grand theft from the Watergate building. Too bad he had those tapes that did him in. He should have had Twitter, and misspelled, or spelled covfefe.

Level 6 Bullshit Artists

The entire Russian government has resigned just hours after President Vladimir Putin proposed sweeping changes to the country’s constitution, according to reports. The TASS news agency, which is owned by the Russian government, reported Wednesday morning that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his ministers submitted their resignations to Putin. The agency said Putin thanked Medvedev for his work and said the outgoing prime minister would be installed as deputy of the presidential security council. Medvedev said he resigned to give Putin space to carry out the changes he wants to make to the constitution.

The Entire Russian Government Has Resigned, Jamie Ross, The Daily Beast

Wow! I guess "he alone will fix it" by decree+ like an emperor, or in the case of Russia: a Czar. Now I see where his comb over toupee Neanderthal got it from. It sounds like he's making what's left of their constitution into toilet paper just like his Orange Satan puppet. He did this as his American pet's impeachment hearings got underway. You don't have to commit a crime to get impeached, but it's awkward when the Government Accounting Office announces you're guilty of a crime.

+"So let it be written, so let it be done" Yul Brynner as Pharaoh in The Ten Commandments, in a slew of Hollywood cultural appropriation.

Level 7 Bullshit Artists

Seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth, source: Wikipedia

Evangelicals aren't a religious body anymore: they're a political party with zero values. Somehow, the once "family values" party fell in line behind a heathen that exemplifies ALL seven deadly sins and turned racism into a winning strategy for the moment. He's impeached forever - the third president* in U.S. history, the first in the 21st century and with the Lev Parnas What App drop, he apparently thinks Quid Pro Quo is a healthy bowel movement for septuagenarians.

The Southern Strategy is subject to the thermodynamics of Entropy just like any other moldy philosophy. John Bolton called the plot against Marie Yovanovitch that may have threatened her life a drug deal, but he's teetering between breaking another bombshell in a shitload of bombshells or depressing the sales of his future book by waiting too long. Any information that could remove the orange tweeting thing from the nuclear button is useless if he gets a second term, or if we're all glowing in the dark.

By the way Orange Satan: a shit load of lies doesn't make them true. It's just all bullshit.

*Putin-installed puppet

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Xenobots...


Topics: Applied Physics, Biology, Nanotechnology, Robotics

A team of researchers have built what they claim to be the first living robots. The “xenobots,” they say, can move, pick up objects, and even heal themselves after being cut.

The team is hoping the biological machines could one day be used to clean up microplastics in the ocean or even deliver drugs inside the human body, The Guardian reports.

To build the robots, the team used living cells from frog embryos and assembled them into primitive beings.

“These are novel living machines,” research co-lead Joshua Bongard, robotics expert at the University of Vermont, said in a statement. “They’re neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It’s a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism.”

The millimeter-length robots were designed by a supercomputer running an “evolutionary algorithm” that tested thousands of 3D designs for rudimentary life forms inside a simulation. The scientists then built a handful of the designs, which were able to propel themselves forward or fulfill a basic task inside the simulation using tweezers and cauterizing tools.

The tiny robots had about a week to ten days of “power” courtesy of living heart muscle cells that were able to expand and contract on their own.

Scientists Build “First Living Robots” From Frog Stem Cells
Victor Tangermann, Futurism

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Primordial Black Holes...

Snapshot from the central region of a numerical simulation of two merging neutron stars. It shows the stars stretched out by tidal forces just before their collision. Credit: CoRe/Jena FSU

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Black Holes, Einstein, General Relativity

In the nearly five years since their first direct detection, gravitational waves have become one of the hottest topics in astronomy. With facilities such as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), researchers have mostly used these ripples in spacetime to study the inner workings of merging black holes, but LIGO has also detected gravitational waves from other sorts of celestial crashes, such as the collisions of ultradense stellar remnants called neutron stars. Sometimes, however, LIGO serves up gravitational waves that leave astronomers scratching their heads—as was the case for GW190425, an event detected last April that was recently attributed to a neutron star merger.

The trouble is that LIGO’s data suggest this neutron star pair was substantially overweight—collectively, some 3.4 times the mass of the sun, which is half a solar mass heavier than the most massive neutron star binaries ever seen. “It is the heaviest known by a pretty wide margin,” says Chad Hanna, an astrophysicist at Pennsylvania State University who hunts gravitational waves.

The trouble is that LIGO’s data suggest this neutron star pair was substantially overweight—collectively, some 3.4 times the mass of the sun, which is half a solar mass heavier than the most massive neutron star binaries ever seen. “It is the heaviest known by a pretty wide margin,” says Chad Hanna, an astrophysicist at Pennsylvania State University who hunts gravitational waves.

Did Astronomers Just Discover Black Holes from the Big Bang? Nola Taylor Redd, Scientific American

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

New Pole, New Earth...

MOSAiC researchers take samples on the ice near the Polarstern. Credit: Esther Horvath Alfred-Wegener-Institut (CC-BY 4.0)

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming, Research

The first leg of an ambitious, yearlong Arctic science expedition just ended, and scientists say they’ve already gained new insight into the rapidly changing Arctic—the fastest warming region on Earth.

An initial team of researchers from the MOSAiC Expedition—short for Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate—arrived in the port city of Tromsø, Norway, on New Year’s Day after more than three months at sea. Billed as the largest Arctic science mission in history, the expedition launched from the same spot on Sept. 20, led by a German icebreaker known as the Polarstern.

The Polarstern remains in the central Arctic Ocean, now staffed by a replacement research team. The mission’s goal is to spend a year closely observing the fine details of the Arctic climate system, including the interactions among the ocean, sea ice and atmosphere.

To accomplish that goal, the Polarstern has allowed itself to freeze into the sea ice in the central Arctic Ocean, where it will remain stuck in place as it drifts across the top of the world. The ship is expected to emerge next fall somewhere north of Greenland, with a year’s worth of continuous scientific data under its belt.

Researchers are optimistic the mission will provide an unprecedented perspective on the shifting Arctic, where the effects of climate change are unfolding at a dramatic pace.

I'm not sure John on the island of Patmos had the above in mind.

Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. Revelation 21:1

Frozen in Dwindling Ice, a Historic Expedition Finds a “New Arctic”, Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American

Monday, January 13, 2020

Angry Summers...

Credit: David Gray Getty Images

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming, Thermodynamics

In the U.S., it is post the winter solstice: tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun, our days are shorter, nights are longer and we usually experience precipitation in the forms of rain and snow.

The southern hemisphere is tilted the same degrees TOWARDS the sun, thus it's their summer. A summer typically marked by tourism, lazy beaches, mixed drinks and one would assume selfies of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. This is what was the usual and typical.

No hellscape could be penned more bleak than what we're seeing now. A billion living creatures have died, and likely are headlong barreling to the endangered species list. The elderly, sick and disabled are cannon fodder. The prime minister, firmly in the pockets of big coal, is as much a climate change lunatic as our current lobotomized "leader."

Oh yes, endangered species are not important now, are they (even if its us)? The "Environmental Protection Agency" is oxymoron. Climate change is a Chinese hoax, and the Australians just need better "forest management" by sweeping as advised to California and (not-at-all) practiced by residents of Finland. If soon-to-be past is prologue, we can only expect a repeat performance in the northern hemisphere once we get past May, especially in states like Texas, where water rationing by zip code is more or less expected, and a spark on a curb scratched by the pipe of a pickup truck in high heat and drought can cause infernos.

Avarice and abject ignorance will kill us all.

Summer in Australia use to be something we yearned for: long, lazy days spent by the beach or pool, backyard barbecues, and games of cricket with family and friends. But recent summers have become a time of fear: Schools and workplaces are closed because of catastrophic fire danger, while we shelter in air-conditioned spaces to avoid dangerous heat waves and hazardous levels of smoke in the air. Campgrounds have been closed for the summer, and entire towns have been urged to evacuate ahead of “Code Red” fire weather. Welcome to our new climate.

Of course, unusually hot summers have happened in the past; so have bad bushfire seasons. But the link between the current extremes and anthropogenic climate change is scientifically indisputable.

The fires raging across the southern half of the Australian continent this year have so far burned through more than 5 million hectares. To put that in context, the catastrophic 2018 fire season in California saw nearly 740,000 hectares burned. The Australian fire season began this year in late August (before the end of our winter). Fires have so far claimed nine lives, including two firefighters, and destroyed around 1,000 homes. It is too early to tell what the toll on our wildlife has been, but early estimates suggest that around 500 million animals have died so far, including 30 percent of the koala population in their main habitat. And this is all before we have even reached January and February, when the fire season typically peaks in Australia.


Australia’s Angry Summer: This Is What Climate Change Looks Like
Nerilie Abram, Scientific American

Friday, January 10, 2020

Kleptocracy, Kakistocracy and Show Running Apocalypse...

Kompromat: Donald Trump at a Miss Universe party in Moscow in 2013. What he might have done in a hotel room there is nobody’s business except, perhaps, his wife’s. Photograph: Stoyan Vassev/Reuters, Irish Times

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

The Apprentice was first aired in 2004, and presented Trump as the ultra-successful real estate deal-maker who would choose from a cast of candidates competing for a job in the Trump Organization. Trump's catch phrase on the show was, "You're fired," which he would deliver pointing at that week's unsuccessful candidate.

Editor Jonathan Braun told the publication that Trump would fire contestants on the show on a whim, forcing editors to "reverse engineer" programs to make Trump's decisions seem coherent.

Production staff described how their job was to elevate Trump's image, whose star had fallen since his 1980s heyday of fame.

"Most of us knew he was a fake," Braun, who worked on six series of the show, told The New Yorker. "He had just gone through I don't know how many bankruptcies. But we made him out to be the most important person in the world. It was like making the court jester the king."


In his address, the president threatened to invoke severe sanctions against Iran, but seemed amenable to deescalating the burgeoning military aggression. Still, the nine-minute address was packed with the president’s standard potpourri of falsehoods, lies, and bouts of incoherence. But the most striking aspect of his speech had less to do with what he said than how he said it. Which is to say, Trump was slurring and snorting through an address that was ostensibly designed to calm a nation on the brink of war.

Trump has never been a particularly graceful public speaker, but his mush-mouth sounded especially pronounced this morning. There was heaviness to his speech, as if he was struggling to talk through cottonmouth. He also had difficulty with the letter S, which he couldn’t pronounce without a drawn out hiss, as if he were a snake. One of the more flagrant examples entails the president mangling the pronunciation of “tolerated” while condemning terrorism.


The briefing by his laughable national security team, supposedly justifying the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani Wednesday raised more questions than it answered. Senator Mike Lee sounded livid. Rand Paul also seemed willing to seize back the Article I powers congress has abdicated since 9/11. John Bolton saying he would testify in an impeachment trial sent the current president* and republican-led senate in a panic to conclude quickly the only trial in America or in HISTORY - without called witnesses. Russia hacked the RNC like they hacked the DNC, but did not release it, meaning they HAVE it in other words, kompromat, used to manipulate them.

WASHINGTON -- Newly released documents show Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was in contact with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the months before the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was abruptly recalled.

The State Department released the documents Friday to the group American Oversight in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. They show that Pompeo talked with Giuliani on March 26 and March 29.

Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, said the documents reveal “a clear paper trail from Rudy Giuliani to the Oval Office to Secretary Pompeo to facilitate Giuliani’s smear campaign against a U.S. ambassador.”

Last week, former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch told House impeachment investigators she felt “kneecapped” by a “smear campaign” Giuliani led against her. She was withdrawn from her post in Ukraine in May.

The documents released Friday also include a report, that appears with Trump hotel stationery, that appears to summarize a Jan. 23 interview with a former Ukrainian prosecutor general, Victor Shokin. The summary says Giuliani and two business associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were present.


The instinct of this president* is to be a crook. He was so Dr. Flunk-en-stein he's blocked any public access to his grades at Fordham University in New York and Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania. It's so bad, he apparently didn't know colleges and universities CAN'T release that information without his permission. It's so bad he doesn't want us to see his grades at his military academy high school. Michael Cohen threatened the institutions - mob lawyer gangster-style - to protect his former client's demonstrably fragile ego (Mike's in jail for him now).

We're out of the The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for the same reasons: racism and jealousy. He tore it up because "the black guy who teased him at the White House Correspondence Dinner" did it. The announcement of Bin Laden's death comically preempted his precious reality show, the ONE place he could pretend to be successful instead of the failure even he knew he was. How DARE his enemy!

He needs his name on NAFTA 2.0 because of his malignant narcissism. He took Orly Taitz cockeyed, Quixotic crusade and rode the bigotry former Dixiecrats cum republicans cum Tea Party cum his cult following who were quite clear they loathed having an African American president and the immigration and demographics changes he represented. Along with help from Vladimir Putin and the antiquated electoral college, he slumped to the Oval Office, a position he'd never thought of, never prepared for and is not qualified for, despite his braggadocio regarding his "big brain."

“Donald Trump was the dumbest goddamn student I ever had.” I remember his emphasis and inflection — it went like this: “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddamn student I ever had.” Kelley told me this after Trump had become a celebrity, but long before he was considered a political figure. Kelley often referred to Trump’s arrogance when he told the story that Trump came to Wharton thinking he already knew everything.

This has relevance now because as recently as this week, President Trump challenged the Secretary of State of the United States to an IQ contest. This came within two days after NBC reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the President a “moron” or a "f**king moron." The president has frequently bragged that he was a great student at a great school (Wharton). Thus, the public is entitled to a contrary view from somebody who was there (Dr. Kelley), and I faithfully report it here.

Bill Kelley was one smart cookie. His textbook was standard in his time in the then-new field of “marketing intelligence” and the necessity of using computers and databases to manage it. (See onlinelibrary.wiley.com which credits Bill for coining the quoted phrase.)

Frank DiPrima, DailyKos, AlterNET

He is both poster child of the SAT cheating scandal and the abysmal mythology of "white supremacy." He has proven the Alt-Wrong, Noodle Nazis, Klu-less Kleptocratic Kakistocracy to be the impotent impostors they've always been, frightened they have to compete for positions of the future; reaching for a past that never existed. They want white picket fences, white women at home: barefoot, submitted and perpetually pregnant to increase their stock of fascists. They want black people on the back of buses, Hispanics/Latinos back in Mexico, LGBT back in the closet; big oil and coal unfettered regardless of environmental consequences. They need fear to rule over others to bandage the failures they can't accept in themselves, and their pathetic lives.

And they have anointed an orange, satanic savior, a lens through which they focus their racist angst through.

Sadly, for The Apocalypse, there is no second season.

*Putin-installed puppet: a new definition for PIP, which he wouldn't follow anyway.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Through the Looking-Glass...

An animation shows the random appearance of fast radio bursts (FRBs) across the sky.
(Image: © NRAO Outreach/T. Jarrett (IPAC/Caltech); B. Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF)

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Radio Astronomy, Research, Space Exploration

“Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

HONOLULU — Mysterious ultra-fast pinpricks of radio energy keep lighting up the night sky and nobody knows why. A newly discovered example of this transient phenomenon has been traced to its place of origin — a nearby spiral galaxy — but it's only made things murkier for astronomers.

The problem concerns a class of blink-and-you'll-miss-them heavenly events known as fast radio bursts (FRBs). In a few thousandths of a second, these explosions produce as much energy as the sun does in nearly a century. Researchers have only known about FRBs since 2007, and they still don't have a compelling explanation regarding their sources.

"The big question is what can produce an FRB," Kenzie Nimmo, a doctoral student at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, said during a news briefing on Monday (Jan. 6) here at the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Honolulu, Hawaii.

FRB 180916.J0158+65, as the object is known, is a repeating FRB discovered by the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) observatory, a radio telescope near Okanagan Falls in British Columbia that Nimmo called "the world's best FRB-finding machine."

Follow-up observations by a network of telescopes in Europe allowed the research team to produce a high-resolution image of the FRB's location. This location turned out to be a medium-sized spiral galaxy like our Milky Way that is surprisingly nearby, only 500 million light-years away, making it the closest-known FRB to date. The results were published yesterday (Jan. 6) in the journal Nature.

Origin of Deep-Space Radio Flash Discovered, and It's Unlike Anything Astronomers Have Ever Seen
Adam Mann, Live Science

#P4TC links:

FRBs...December 7, 2015
Fast Radio Bursts and Missing Matter...February 25, 2016
ET, FRBs and Light Sails...March 13, 2017