Brainy Quote of the Day

Friday, June 22, 2018

From Emma Lazarus to Dred Scott...

Image caption
This image from the US Customs and Border Protection shows the foil blankets given to children - BBC News
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights

Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” See also Pastor John Palovitz's statements.

Demonstrators gather to protest against the separation of immigrant families at the border in Austin.

Presidential historian Jon Meacham on MSNBC alluded to "we've gone from Emma Lazarus to Dred Scott," ironically on Tuesday, the annual African American celebration of Juneteenth.

We are housing hundreds of babies and toddlers in internment camps titled by the Orwellian term "tender age shelters." There are apparently children changing the diapers of other children because there are not enough care givers to do it. The Attorney General announced this president's* zero-tolerance policy in April. Children and babies are being separated from their mothers with NO plans or procedures to return them to their parents. Stephen Miller - the 21st century dead ringer for Joseph Goebbels - along with this administration* were apparently gleeful of the mayhem and chaos they'd caused. He couldn't sign an executive order, until he signed an executive order. Top this with Melanie's IDGAF jacket at the Texas gulag! (Question: why is a so-called billionaire's wife in a $39 jacket on the FIRST day of summer in Texas?)

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The New Colossus, Emma Lazarus

"In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show, that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument...They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit."

The Dred Scott decision - March 6, 1857, Chief Justice Taft's opinion of record. Mr. Scott's grave and remains are buried, coincidentally outside of Ferguson, Missouri.

We are the monsters now...

My father would have been 93 years old on Tuesday. (It was also my sister's birthday.) He, like a lot of young men got his draft card during the conflict with the Fascists in Europe. He was assigned to the United States Navy. He was a Third Class Petty Officer, and became a Heavy Gunner, a Naval Boxer and Cook. Like a lot of African American men, he thought excelling at war would "win the peace" of Civil Rights at home.

Hitler was defeated. He came home to a still-segregated America. He met my mother and married. I followed in 1962 in a still quite segregated society.

In the 21st century, at 55, I am still existing in a segregated society. Bigotry, birtherism and xenophobia were weaponized into an effective presidential* campaign with hostile foreign assistance. We now have what amounts to concentration camps on American soil. We have campaign chairman that openly mocks Down syndrome children. "When they go low, we go high" by First Lady Michelle Obama has been replaced by the daily, exasperated refrain: "How low can they go?"

We are the monsters now...

The janitor from Central America for our facility at JSNN is distraught by the news of children screaming for their mothers. She relayed she's been threatened by some in maintenance, the same who's former member hung a noose in a lab in a school that has more diversity than the UN. The idiot was immediately fired, but his fellows threaten my Latino friend: "the president's going to send you home soon." She defiantly asks "why"? since she's a naturalized US citizen. She works just as hard as them, if not harder since their services are called when something breaks: she cleans toilets and overrunning trashcans from the second floor to the basement in every classroom; every bathroom, every lab. They have pictures of their orange god at their workstations; they wear MAGA hats.

We are the monsters now...

This is the backlash for having the "Audacity of Hope" to elect the first and so far, only African American to sit on the seat of power in 232 years of the republic. This is a continuation of the backlash that was seen at the border with wild-eyed citizens screaming at bus loads of children from Central America. These are the voters of orange Julius that wear MAGA hats and are emboldened by his bigotry. These are the modern brown shirts/red hats gang that are deathly afraid of becoming a numerical minority that the interference of a foreign power in their federal election process is of no long as the outcome maintains white supremacy.

The site Blavity points out that separation of children from families is an American tradition, started with slavery to this current moment where brown immigrant children whose parents are seeking legal asylum have no rights the AG, nor this present darkness respects. Hoovervilles have seen a resurgence in the form tent cities, and a government shutdown in September if there's no border wall might drive us...into an actual Hoover depression. It is a matter of time before we're not sobbing over children in cages...but wailing like Rachael's over children in graves, as tent cities in deserts - greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit; 38 degrees Celsius - might as well be ovens at Auschwitz. Only sociopaths would cheer this vile assault on humanity.

We are the monsters now...

...or, we are the citizens that fix this November 6, 2018, Russian interference be DAMNED! The continued sovereignty of our republic is at stake. We will either be remembered as a good example, or warning proverb. We will either be Winthrop's "city on a hill"... or, a shit pile (more superfluous than a "hole," that epithet itself projection)!

*The usage of the asterisk (*) next to president* I borrow from and attribute to Charles P. Pierce, a writer for Esquire magazine and frequent media commentator on MSNBC. He's also author of the prescient book: "Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free." And so, despite his and other authors' warnings to the contrary, our republic is at the stage-edge of this cliff...

Thursday, June 21, 2018

"Tender Age" Children...

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Diversity, Existentialism, Human Rights, Politics

I will get back to posting day. Each day is an extended nightmare; each day is not "normal." We're either in the middle or the edge of a whirlwind. No one remembers Paul Manafort was arrested last Friday. I guess that was the point of this madness. He manipulates the media just as he did in New York.

I can't even remember when I've posted something with a measure of humor.

I would like to...

Related links:

The health impact of separating migrant children from parents
Jessica Lussenhop, BBC News
Video shows kids being brought to NYC immigration foster agency, NY1

Tomorrow: From Emma Lazarus to Dred Scott

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Step Closer...

Laser preamplifiers at the National Ignition Facility. (Courtesy: CC BY-SA 3.0/Damien Jemison/LLNL)
Topics: Alternative Energy, Nuclear Fusion, Nuclear Power

Physicists working at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in the US say they have passed another important milestone in their quest for nuclear fusion energy. They have shown that the fusion energy generated by the laser implosion of a deuterium-tritium fuel capsule is twice that of the kinetic energy of the implosion. By further trebling the fusion energy, they say they will be close to the long-sought goal of an overall net energy gain.

The $3.5bn NIF trains 192 pulsed laser beams on to the inner surface of a centimetre-long hollow metal cylinder known as a hohlraum. Inside is a fuel capsule, which is a roughly 2 mm-diameter hollow sphere containing a thin deuterium-tritium layer. Each pulse lasts just a few nanoseconds and the lasers can deliver about 1.8 MJ of energy. This powerful blast causes the capsule to implode rapidly, creating immense temperatures and pressures inside a central “hot spot”, where fusion reactions occur.

The long-term goal is that the energy of neutrons given off by fusion can generate electricity. Before this is possible, NIF must show that it is possible to achieve ignition – the point at which fusion reactions generate at least as much energy delivered by the laser system. This involves self-sustaining reactions, in which the alpha particles that are also emitted during fusion give off enough heat to initiate further fusion.

Giant lasers pass new milestone towards fusion energy, Edwin Cartlidge
(science writer based in Rome), Physics World

#P4TC related links:

Laser Fusion...December 19, 2017
Nanowire Fusion...April 9, 2018

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

General Order Number 3...

Image source: My Plain View dot com
Topics: Africa, African Americans, Civil Rights, History, Human Rights

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln's authority over the rebellious states was in question For whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

General Order Number 3

One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former 'masters' - attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom. North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove the some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19th was coined "Juneteenth" and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date. [1]


In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon the unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of the equality of all men, irrespective of race or color--a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of the Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and the negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.

For years past this abolition organization has been actively sowing the seeds of discord through the Union, and has rendered the federal congress the arena for spreading firebrands and hatred between the slave-holding and non-slave-holding States. [2]

1. History of Juneteenth, Juneteenth dot com
2. DECLARATION OF CAUSES: February 2, 1861
A declaration of the causes which impel the State of Texas to secede from the Federal Union.
Texas State Library and Archive Commission
Note: A search for "slave" finds 21 references to "slave", "slave-holding" and "slavery." A search for African yields "African", "African race" and "African slavery", for which are the following associated, clear expressions that had nothing at all to do with the nebulous "states rights" dodge:

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Tears for the Baobab...

GIF image from Nature.
The African baobab is one of the continent’s most recognizable tree species. Credit: Hougaard Malan/

Topics: Biology, Climate Change, Ecology, Existentialism

Africa’s iconic baobab trees are dying, and scientists don’t know why. In a study intended to examine why the trees are so long-living, researchers made the unexpected finding that many of the oldest and largest of the trees have died in the past decade or so.

The African baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) is the oldest living flowering plant, or angiosperm, and is found in the continent’s tropical regions. Individual trees — which can contain up to 500 cubic metres of wood — can live for more than 2,000 years. Their wide trunks often have hollow cavities, and their high branches resemble roots sticking up into the air.

The researchers — who published their findings in Nature Plants on 11 June — set out to use a newly developed radiocarbon-dating technique to study the age and architecture of the species. Usual tree-ring dating methods are not suitable for baobabs, because their trunks do not necessarily grow annual rings.

The trees’ ages were previously attributed to their size, and in local folklore, baobabs are often described as being old, says study author Adrian Patrut, a radiochemist at Babeş-Bolyai University in Romania.

Africa’s majestic baobab trees are mysteriously dying, Sarah Wild, Nature

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Nanomaterials and the Final Frontier...

Nanomaterials take on the many extremes of space. Courtesy: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens
Topics: Applied Physics, Nanotechnology, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight

Rocket science often seems to typify state-of-the-art technology. The extreme conditions of take-off, landing and space itself, the exacting specifications of the instrumentation required for rocket control and scientific data collection, and the costs per unit mass for launching the rocket would seem to leave no room for mediocrity. With their enhanced multifunctional properties nanomaterials offer a lot of bang per kilo for missions. Physics World Materials looks at what nanomaterials can offer to protect against the elements in space.

To merit incorporation in a billion-dollar space mission, new technologies need to deliver more than just a promise of enhanced functionality. The properties of new materials and the impact of their use on all other aspects of the space equipment need to be reliably defined. As Jamshid A Samareh and Emilie J Siochi from NASA’s Langley Research Center emphasize in a recent review, a key factor preventing greater uptake of nanomaterials in space missions has been a lack of a deep understanding of their behaviour within the complex and sophisticated systems of spacecraft. “The barrier is understanding the measurable benefits over materials that are currently being used – especially when you have to trade risk and cost with current paradigms,” says Emilie Siochi, senior materials scientist in the Advanced Materials and Processing Branch at NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia, USA. As for the electronics used, Meyya Meyyappan Chief Scientist for Exploration Technology at Ames Research Center points out that making sure the radiation tolerance and packaging meet requirements can preclude adoption of “the state-of-the-art”. Scaling up production from lab levels to the volumes needed for a rocket can also compromise the nanomaterial properties that recommended their use in the first place, deterring uptake.

Despite the overarching caution in space technology the lure remains for harnessing nanomaterials to take on the challenges of blasting free from Earth intact, facing the furnace of take-off and the chill of outer space, as well as the cosmic cocktail of radiation exposure. And there are a growing number of nanomaterials whose manufacture and device application has reached a level of maturity that allows for a valuable contribution in aerospace missions.

Can nanomaterials take on the extremes of space? Anna Demming, Physics World

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Inside the MiniBooNE tank, photodetectors capture the light created when a neutrino interacts with an atomic nucleus. Reidar Hahn / Fermilab
Topics: Neutrinos, Particle Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Theoretical Physics

Physicists are both thrilled and baffled by a new report from a neutrino experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago. The MiniBooNE experiment has detected far more neutrinos of a particular type than expected, a finding that is most easily explained by the existence of a new elementary particle: a “sterile” neutrino that’s even stranger and more reclusive than the three known neutrino types. The result appears to confirm the anomalous results of a decades-old experiment that MiniBooNE was built specifically to double-check.

The persistence of the neutrino anomaly is extremely exciting, said the physicist Scott Dodelson of Carnegie Mellon University. It “would indicate that something is indeed going on,” added Anže Slosar of Brookhaven National Laboratory.

As for what, no one can say.

The existence of a sterile neutrino would revolutionize physics from the smallest to the largest scales. It would finally break the Standard Model of particle physics that has reigned since the 1970s. It would also demand “a new standard model of cosmology,” Dodelson said. “There are other potential cracks in the standard picture,” he added. “The neutrino paradox could point our way to a new, better model.”

Neutrinos are tiny particles that pass through our bodies by the billions each second but seldom interact. They constantly oscillate between three known types, or “flavors,” called electron, muon and tau. The MiniBooNE experiment shoots a beam of muon neutrinos toward a giant oil tank. On the way to the tank, some of these muon neutrinos should transform into electron neutrinos at a rate determined by the difference in mass between the two. MiniBooNE then monitors the arrival of electron neutrinos, which produce characteristic flashes of radiation on the rare occasions when they interact with oil molecules. In its 15-year run, MiniBooNE has registered a few hundred more electron neutrinos than expected.

The simplest explanation for the surprisingly high number is that some muon neutrinos are oscillating into a different, heavier, fourth kind of neutrino — a sterile one, meaning it never interacts with anything that isn’t a neutrino — and that some of these heavy sterile neutrinos then oscillate into electron neutrinos. The greater mass difference prescribes a higher rate of oscillations and more detections.

Evidence Found for a New Fundamental Particle, Natalie Wolchover, Quanta Magazine