Brainy Quote of the Day

Friday, November 22, 2019

Wheels Off...

Google's First Fully Autonomous Car Gives Up; Drives Self Off Cliff - Joe Bagel
The scene is from Thelma and Louise

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

I will be taking a break until the holidays. I have a lot of deadlines to meet.

Conservatism as popularized by their patron saint, Ronald Reagan and a budding media propaganda wing that covered all the bases - AM talk radio, Tom Clancy novels, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger was hyper masculine, Uber patriotic and most decidedly: anti-Russian. The spike in testosterone was a reaction to the Vietnam War, the one we "lost." It was a modern "lost cause" that stuck in the craw of those that wanted Ho Chi Min to surrender like the Germans and the Japanese Emperor. Our mythology told us we were "the good guys" and the film credits always had happy endings with the hero getting the girl.

Something happened from the launching porch for "The Gipper" in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the wink-and-nod to white southern racists - left over Dixiecrats cum "Reagan democrats," soon-to-be Tea Party/Orwellian "Freedom Caucus," African Americans loyal to the previous "party of Lincoln" and genteel 1%, all wooed by Lee Atwater plausible denial coded language, faced with the reality of changing demographics, not in their Melanin-lacking favor. It was something the "Southern Strategy" didn't anticipate.

For this democracy to work, each of us has to agree on the same set of facts. We may not believe in what approach to take to solve them, but believing in the facts would merely change the approach to their resolution.

Truth Fiction
Climate change is real Climate change is a hoax
Russia interfered in the 2016 elections Ukraine interfered in the 2016 elections
The current president is a crook The current president is fighting the "deep state"

A functional Republican Party might use cap and trade to fight Climate Change. They would use diplomacy to modify the Paris Climate Accords to stay within the confines of its goals. Heck, they might make a buck or two.

A functional Republican Party would take the Autopsy authored by the RNC and reach out to diversify a party dwindling in number of Lincoln African Americans, conservative Hispanic/Latino citizens, Asians and Log Cabin Republicans.

After ANY of these impeachment inquiry hearings; after Mr. C.Y.A. Gordon Sondland uttered the magic Latin phrase: quid pro quo and Dr. Fiona Hill pimp slapped the republicans on the House Intelligence Committee (it hurt to type that), a functional Republican Party would look beyond their fundraising and think of The Constitution they swore to protect and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

But we don't have that. We've never had that.

Racism itself is a conspiracy theory. It requires a leap of faith that your lack of exposure to equatorial ultraviolet rays over 1-200,000 years bequeaths you red ruby slipper, pixie dust and fairies that bless every step you take on the Yellow Brick Road in Oz.

"If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you." (then) Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson

*****

If the Republicans cared about the facts or the gravity of the crime being investigated, the answer would be apocalyptically damaging. But they don’t care, and they will continue to defend Trump even if those testifying under oath include an eyewitness to a criminal conspiracy hatched in the White House like Sondland, or patriots like Fiona Hill, Alexander Vindman, and Marie Yovanovitch, who not only provided irrefutable evidence of the crime but detailed the existential threat that crime poses to America.

Had Trump pulled out that (so far) proverbial gun and shot someone on Fifth Avenue, Republicans would trot out the exact same defense they have this week: The shot was fired at 2 a.m. and there were no eyewitnesses. Those nearby who claimed to have heard the shot had actually heard a car backfiring. The closed-circuit video capturing the incident is, as the president says, a hoax concocted by the same Fake News outlets that manufactured the Access Hollywood video. The confession released by the White House was “perfect” evidence of Trump’s innocence. Election records show that the cops who arrived on the scene were registered Democrats and therefore part of a deep-state conspiracy to frame the president for a crime he didn’t commit but that the Democrats did. The victim was not killed and will make a complete recovery, so no crime was committed anyway. And even if Trump had killed the young woman he gunned down, the argument advanced by Trump’s lawyer last month would apply: “The person who serves as president, while in office, enjoys absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind.” Next case!

Republicans Are Excusing a Criminal Conspiracy, Frank Rich, NY Magazine

Devin Nunes is about as dense as the cow he's frivolously suing. Ohio congressman Jim Jordan acts like a wrestling coach (that has new charges of not protecting student athletes from a predatory pedophile team doctor), and apparently, doesn't make enough to purchase a suit jacket!

Impeachment is likely in the House of Representatives. The senate is signalling along with republicans writ large that the "rule of law" doesn't apply for this Orange Satan, as the unitary executive - the Baal altar of William Barr - apparently only applies to presidents on his team. Russia, Iran; Israel can select our next president with impunity. Citizens will tune out and binge watch streaming media, oblivious to their responsibilities as citizens, masking their pain.

The Washington Post has the tag line "Democracy Dies in Darkness."

In darkness, Putin wins.

Apathy from exhaustion...is darkness.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Snake Oil...

Image Source: Link below
Topics: Biology, DNA, Genetics

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Carl Sagan

I'm guessing "I did Ancestry" is going to become the "I used to do Amway" in the 21st Century?

I participated, thinking it was legitimate science. It did somewhat jive with my own experiences of being consistently identified by Nigerians as resembling someone from the Igbo. This again is pure conjecture, and likely only a polite guess.

I can see the desire to know about our roots, especially if you're a part of the African Diaspora is tempting as well as an opportunity for confidence rackets and quackery.

In the spring of 2017, a college student named Mary spit into a tube and sent it to the DNA testing company Ancestry, which analyzed it and sent back a breakdown of her family history.

But Mary wanted to know more. The human genome contains, in theory, an extraordinary wealth of pre-programmed information about who we are and who we might become: whether she was at risk for the same types of cancer that killed her parents, for instance, or if she had medical conditions she could unknowingly pass on to her children.

For that information, Mary — we’re withholding her last name to protect her privacy — turned to a dubious new sector of the genomics industry, in which startups claim to provide vastly greater insights than prominent companies like Ancestry and 23andMe do. She uploaded a copy of her raw genetic code, which Ancestry provided as a 17.6 megabyte text file, to a site called Genomelink, which advertises tests for everything from medical conditions and mental illnesses to ludicrously specific personality traits including “loneliness,” “social communication problems,” and “vulnerability to helicopter parenting.”

But when her results arrived, Mary immediately noticed that many were “wildly inaccurate.” Genomelink said she was “less easily depressed,” but Mary was diagnosed with clinical depression at a young age. The startup predicted that she had a peanut allergy, but Mary told Futurism that “peanut butter is one of the true loves of my life.” Other errors in Mary’s report included traits like blood iron levels, body fat measurements, hearing problems, height, and skin complexion.

“I felt that much of it was off-base and unhelpful,” she told Futurism, “as it didn’t fit me at all.”

Genomelink is just one of a growing number of shady DNA testing startups now operating in the regulatory Wild West of commercial genomics.

There’s GenePlaza, for instance, which sold a DNA test that claimed to predict users’ sexual preferences — and still sells tests that purport to measure intelligence and risk of depression. A company called Soccer Genomics claims to examine a child’s DNA to create a sports training regimen to turn them into the perfect soccer player. An outfit called GenoPalate told a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter that their DNA demanded a diet of elk meat and passion fruit. A venture called Vinome claims it can recommend the perfect wine for each person based on their genetic code.

The problem, according to experts, is that these companies are promising information about DNA with a granularity that even scientists can’t deliver. Deanna Church, a geneticist at the biotech company Inscripta, told Futurism the tests are “all equally useless.”

“There is not a scientific basis for this sort of testing,” she said. “I certainly would not recommend anyone spend any money on this sort of thing.”

"Like Horoscope Readings!": The Scammy World of DNA Startups, Dan Robitzki, Futurism

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Transformers...


Topics: 3D Printing, Applied Physics, Research, Robotics, Soft Matter Physics

The researchers likely watched a lot of Saturday morning cartoons in the 1980s: original intro.

(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) — The majority of soft robots today rely on external power and control, keeping them tethered to off-board systems or rigged with hard components. Now, researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Caltech have developed soft robotic systems, inspired by origami, that can move and change shape in response to external stimuli, paving the way for fully untethered soft robots.

The research is published in Science Robotics.

3D-printed active hinges change shape in response to heat
Leah Burrows, SEAS Communications, Wyss Institute, Harvard

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Mapping Titan...

These infrared views of Titan peer through the gloom
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Stéphane Le Mouélic, University of Nantes, Virginia Pasek, University of Arizona

Topics: Astrophysics, Cassini, Exoplanets, Moon, Space Exploration

Slowly but surely, the surface of Saturn’s strange moon Titan is being revealed. Researchers have made the first map of the geology of Titan’s entire surface, and it will eventually help us figure out what the climate is like there.

Titan’s atmosphere is full of a thick, orange haze that blocks visible light from reaching the surface, making it difficult for spacecraft to take pictures. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which orbited Saturn from 2004 to 2017, took radar and infrared data of Titan’s surface, giving researchers a hint of the terrain below.

Rosaly Lopes at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and her colleagues assembled those observations and placed each area, or unit, into one of six categories: lakes, craters, dunes, plains, hummocky terrain – meaning hills and mountains – and labyrinth, which looks like heavily eroded plateaus. They then made a map of where each of those terrains exists on Titan’s surface.

We have the first full map of the weird surface features of Titan
Leah Crane, New Scientist

Monday, November 18, 2019

Theta...

Cyber threat analysis requires high-speed supercomputers, such as Theta at Argonne’s Leadership Computing Facility, a DOE Office of Science User Facility. (Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, Internet, Mathematical Models, Quantum Computing

"Locks are made for honest people."
Robert H. Goodwin, June 19, 1925 - August 26, 1999 ("Pop")

It is indisputable that technology is now a fundamental and inextricable part of our everyday existence—for most people, our employment, transportation, healthcare, education, and other quality of life measures are fully reliant on technology. Our dependence has created an urgent need for dynamic cybersecurity that protects U.S. government, research and industry assets in the face of technology advances and ever more sophisticated adversaries.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory is helping lead the way in researching and developing proactive cybersecurity, including measures that leverage machine learning, to help protect data and critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.

Machine learning is a category of artificial intelligence that involves training machines to continually learn from and identify patterns in data sets.

“Applying machine learning approaches to cybersecurity efforts makes sense due to the large amount of data involved,” said Nate Evans, program lead for cybersecurity research in the Strategic Security Sciences (SSS) Division. ​“It is not efficient for humans to mine data for these patterns using traditional algorithms.”

Argonne computer scientists develop machine learning algorithms using large data sets— comprising log data from different devices, network traffic information, and instances of malicious behavior—that enable the algorithms to recognize specific patterns of events that lead to attacks. When such patterns are identified, a response team investigates instances matching those patterns.

Following an attack, the response team patches the vulnerability in the laboratory’s intrusion protection systems. Forensic analysis can then lead to changes that prevent similar future attacks.

“We are looking for ways to stop attacks before they happen,” said Evans. ​“We’re not only concerned with protecting our own lab, we’re also developing methods to protect other national labs, and the country as a whole, from potential cyberattacks.”

Argonne applies machine learning to cybersecurity threats
Savannah Mitchem, Argonne National Laboratory

Friday, November 15, 2019

What's At Stake...


Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Economics, Fascism, Human Rights, Politics

The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) was a non-profit 501(c)(4) corporation[1] founded in 1985 that, upon its formation, argued the United States Democratic Party should shift away from the leftward turn it took in the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. One of its main purposes was to win back white middle class voters with ideas that addressed their concerns.[2] The DLC hailed President Bill Clinton as proof of the viability of Third Way politicians and as a DLC success story.

The DLC's affiliated think tank was the Progressive Policy Institute. Democrats who adhered to the DLC's philosophy often called themselves New Democrats. This term is also used by other groups who have similar views on where the party should go in the future, like NDN[3] and Third Way.[4]

On February 7, 2011, Politico reported that the DLC would dissolve, and would do so as early as the following week.[5] On July 5 of that year, DLC founder Al From announced in a statement on the organization's website that the historical records of the DLC have been purchased by the Clinton Foundation.[6] The DLC's last chairman was former Representative Harold Ford of Tennessee, and its vice chair was Senator Thomas R. Carper of Delaware. Its CEO was Bruce Reed.

Source: Wikipedia

The Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission helped unleash unprecedented amounts of outside spending in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. The case, along with other legal developments, spawned the creation of super PACs, which can accept unlimited contributions from corporate and union treasuries, as well as from individuals; these groups spent more than $800 million in the 2012 election cycle. It also triggered a boom in political activity by tax-exempt "dark money" organizations that don't have to disclose their donors. You can listen to the decision (see "Opinion Announcement - January 21, 2010") as read by Justice Kennedy and the dissenting opinion read by Justice Stevens. Read on to learn more about how the Supreme Court transformed the campaign finance landscape with this decision, and how it is now affecting U.S. politics.

Citizen's United vs. Federal Election Commission, OpenSecrets.org

Both political parties through the need for funds deified the "free hand of the market." Both are concerned at the resonant chord Sanders, Warren et al have struck with an electorate not umbilical-tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Instead of a "rising tide that lifts all boats," the effort to kowtow at Moloch's altar has produced Caligula.

Former Governor and "Bain Capitalist" Deval Patrick threw his hat into the democratic primary, as did billionaire and former republican, former independent and ended-up-democrat Mayor Mike "stop and frisk" Bloomberg. Governor Patrick seemed to eclipse the news another school shooting occurred in California, now apparently routine, despite the death of two citizens that won't grow up. Meanwhile, Erdoğan blasted a propaganda video over his I-Pad showing the Kurds as terrorists, the same aforementioned Kurds he apparently has a "great relationship" with while committing genocide.

In the ever-changing defense of the indefensible, the Reich Wing has veered from the impeachment inquiry hearings have "no pizzazz" and chief of lies tweeting about it sixty times in a day, Hillary colluded with the Russians (to apparently, lose the election and plunge us all into a dystopian nightmare); crowd strike, star chamber, no Quid Pro Quo, a Quid but no Pro Quo what-about-ism on bribery and the latest hilarious defense: he's too stupid to commit a genuine Mafia shakedown - he forgot the cement boots.

We have a political party that believes in science, facts and reality who's name has been turned into a pejorative ("democrat party").

We have a political party that believes in conspiracy theory, lies and obfuscation; "creates its own Karl Rove realities," believes the self-admitted sexual assaulter NEVER LIES (according to Franklin Graham) that somehow with a straight face still associates itself with integrity, principles and "family values." Stephen Miller - the architect of our kiddie concentration camps, apparently willed himself "white" and shared racist propaganda that would have prevented his grandfather's escape from Polish pogroms.

See "Sunshine Fascism," April 12, 2019

Impeachment, despite the protestation is in The Constitution. Alexander Hamilton (well pre the Broadway hit and triple platinum album) wrote about it in the Federalists Papers:

A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt. Federalist 65, Yale Law School

The President of the United States would be liable to be impeached, tried, and, upon conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors, removed from office; and would afterwards be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law. The person of the king of Great Britain is sacred and inviolable; there is no constitutional tribunal to which he is amenable; no punishment to which he can be subjected without involving the crisis of a national revolution. In this delicate and important circumstance of personal responsibility, the President of Confederated America would stand upon no better ground than a governor of New York, and upon worse ground than the governors of Maryland and Delaware. Federalist 69, Yale Law School

Putin would love to discredit representative democracy, itself a pejorative to him. The Internet Research Agency has interfered in elections around the globe, an annoyance so far with one clear success here in the US. He would love for all nations to organize around strongmen - reporting to him, of course - making him richer than Midas and Solomon.

For the rest of us, outside of the politburo would be literally as Russia faced years before its 1989 fall: disease, famine and death.

The defeat and demise of democracy would have the impact of the Chicxulub crater.

Except instead of a wall falling symbolically, we could be facing extinction. Only delusion and hubris would make us ignore this.

A few xenophobic Ayn Rand worshipers will be rich beyond the wildest psychopaths' dreams - for a moment - until inevitable Entropy completes our societal and mass species apoptosis. There will be no second act and fully negates starships, lest they be filled with ghosts, corpses and dreams. It's that stark.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Slingshot Effect...

An artist’s illustration of a spacecraft’s escape trajectory (bright white line) from our solar system into interstellar space. Credit: Mike Yukovlev Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory - Link 2 below

Topics: Astrophysics, Interstellar Travel, NASA, Spaceflight, Star Trek

Yes, an actual slingshot effect does exist.

As much a fan as I am of the Trek, this isn't it.

When a spacecraft in orbit about a primary body comes close to a moon that is orbiting the same primary body, there is an exchange of orbital energy and angular momentum between the spacecraft and the moon. The total orbital energy remains constant, so if the spacecraft gains orbital energy then the moon's orbital energy decreases. Orbital period, which is the time required to complete one orbit about the primary body, is proportional to orbital energy. Therefore, as the spacecraft's orbital period increases (the slingshot effect), the moon's orbital period decreases.

But because the spacecraft is much, much smaller than the moon, the effect on the spacecraft's orbit is much greater than on the moon's orbit. For example, the Cassini spacecraft weighs about 3,000 kilograms, whereas Titan, the largest of Saturn's moons, weighs about 1023 kilograms. The effect on Cassini is thus about 20 orders of magnitude greater than the effect on Titan is. [1]

*****

It would begin in the early 2030s, with a launch of a roughly half-ton nuclear-powered spacecraft on the world’s largest rocket, designed to go farther and faster than any human-made object has ever gone before. The probe would pass by Jupiter and perhaps later dive perilously close to the sun, in both cases to siphon a fraction of each object’s momentum, picking up speed to supercharge its escape. Then, with the sun and the major planets rapidly receding behind it, the craft would emerge from the haze of primordial dust that surrounds our star system, allowing it an unfiltered glimpse of the feeble all-sky glow from countless far-off galaxies. Forging ahead, it could fly by one or more of the icy, unexplored worlds now known to exist past Pluto. And gazing back, it could seek out the pale blue dot of Earth, looking for hints of our planet’s life that could be seen from nearby stars.


All this would be but a prelude, however, to what McNutt and other mission planners pitch as the probe’s core scientific purpose. About a decade after launch, it would pierce the heliosphere—a cocoonlike region around our solar system created by “winds” of particles flowing from our sun—to reach and study the cosmic rays and clouds of plasma that make up the “interstellar medium” that fills the dark spaces between the stars. Continuing its cruise, by the 2080s it could conceivably have traveled as far as 1,000 astronomical units (AU), or Earth-sun distances, from the solar system, achieving its primary objective at last: an unprecedented bird’s-eye view of the heliosphere that could revolutionize our understanding of our place in the cosmos. [2]

1. How does the slingshot effect (or gravity assist) work to change the orbit of a spacecraft? Scientific American, July 11, 2005
Jeremy B. Jones, Cassini Navigation Team Chief at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
2. Proposed Interstellar Mission Reaches for the Stars, One Generation at a Time
Scientific American, Lee Billings, November 2019