Brainy Quote of the Day

Friday, September 6, 2019

Handmaids, Families and Utopias...

Image Source: Trump's 'Sharpie Gate' Hurricane Dorian Stunt is Getting Trolled on Twitter
Alison Sullivan, God's Daily Dot

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights, Star Trek

I will make a commentary on "Sharpie Gate" momentarily.

The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, originally published in 1985. It is set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian state resembling a theonomy that overthrows the United States government. The novel focuses on the journey of the handmaid Offred. Her name derives from the possessive form "of Fred"; handmaids are forbidden to use their birth names and must echo the male, or master, whom they serve.

Beginning with a staged attack that killed the president and most of Congress, a radical political group calling itself the "Sons of Jacob", exploiting religious ideology closely resembling some traits of Christian Reconstructionism, launches a revolution. The United States Constitution is suspended, newspapers are censored, and what was formerly the United States of America changes drastically into a theonomic military dictatorship known as the Republic of Gilead. The new regime moves quickly to consolidate its power, overtaking all pre-existing religious groups, including traditional Christian denominations; and reorganizes society along a new militarized, hierarchical model of Old Testament-inspired social and religious fanaticism among its newly created social classes. Above all, the biggest change is the severe limitation of people's rights, especially those of women, making them unable to hold property, handle money, as well as forbidding them to read or write.

The story is told in the first-person narration by a woman called Offred. In this era of declining birth rates due to increasing infertility brought about by environmental pollution and radiation, she is one of those few women with healthy reproductive systems. Hence she is forcibly assigned to produce children for the ruling class of men "Commanders", and is known as a "Handmaid" based on the biblical story of Rachel and her handmaid Bilhah. Apart from Handmaids, other women are also classed socially and follow a strict dress code, ranked highest to lowest: the Commanders' Wives in blue, the Handmaids in red with the exception of white veils around their faces, the Aunts (who train and indoctrinate the Handmaids) in brown, the Martha's (cooks and maids) in green, "Econo-wives" who handle everything in the domestic sphere in stripes, young and unmarried girls in white and widows in black.

Source: The Handmaid's Tale, Wikipedia

Aptly described by one viewer as "the prologue to The Handmaid's Tale", Netflix's The Family is the new docuseries taking the world by storm.

A deeply gripping tale, the critically acclaimed show tells the story of the clandestine Christian organization called 'The Family' and their hidden influence on U.S. politics.

Based on a true story, The Family is a docuseries that combines archival photos and interviews with dramatic reenactments to investigate a secret Christian organisation known as The Fellowship Foundation, colloquially referred to as 'The Family'.

Their Washington D.C.-based network, comprised solely of men, includes numerous high-powered politicians, diplomats and religious leaders from around the world, who conspire together to influence legislation on a global level.

Their leader is a man named Doug Coe, described in the trailer as "the most powerful man in Washington you've never heard of". Coe believed that God's work was best carried out away from the public eye.

Source: The Family, docuseries on Netflix, Harper's Bazaar

The Family author, Jeff Sharlet wrote it and its follow on, C Street as warnings on the abuse of power by an un-elected political organization that has out-sized influence on the US government. We've accepted the National Prayer Breakfast as "normal," when in strict constructionist reading of The Constitution, flagrantly violates The First Amendment.

Margaret Atwood opined in interview that what she wrote in 1985 isn't something she dreamed up out of whole cloth: there are real-life analogs. What was dramatized in the book and now in the series as the overthrow of the federal republic, suspension of the US Constitution has a prologue we often don't see...until the "Sons of Jacob" think they can openly get away with violence. They may first have an ultra secret organization that no one except for one truthful author has ever heard about.

*****

The joke is first evangelical literature in the 1970s and the 1980s focused on the "end times" as a terrible, awful future event to avoid. 2 Chronicles 7:14 was often quoted at the end of a popular litany of speculative literature as a cosmic "get out of jail" card with the almighty. It also calmed and soothed Christian writers' audiences enough to consider the next book in their careers of scaring the bejesus out of their readers.


For most of our nation’s history, White Christian America (WCA) set the tone for our national policy and shaped American ideals. But especially since the 1990s, WCA has steadily lost influence, following declines within both its mainline and evangelical branches. Today, America is no longer demographically or culturally a majority white, Christian nation.

Drawing on more than four decades of polling data, The End of White Christian America explains and analyzes the waning vitality of WCA. Robert P. Jones argues that the visceral nature of today’s most heated issues—the vociferous arguments around same-sex marriage and religious and sexual liberty, the rise of the Tea Party following the election of our first black president, and stark disagreements between black and white Americans over the fairness of the criminal justice system—can only be understood against the backdrop of white Christians’ anxieties as America’s racial and religious topography shifts around them.

The End of White Christian America, Robert P. Jones, Amazon.com

The mythology of Star Trek likely germinated in the nightmares Gene Roddenberry and people steeped in Cold War "duck and cover" drills (me included), thought a lot about: would World War III be the existential LAST war? Worlds orbit suns as we now observe throughout the universe. They do not require air, water or life - sentient or otherwise, just gravity, planetary physics and an orbital path.

It is mythology because benevolent aliens happening upon a fledgling warp species is pure "Deus ex machina." Warp drive is as imaginative as unicorns. Aliens that can traverse vast distances would probably be indifferent, if not militant to a technologically emerging species. Roddenberry could have easily made them Klingons.

The short-lived Enterprise, debuting days after September 11, 2001, tried to document our unsteady first steps to the stars, prior to Federation bureaucracies, Prime Directives and the original intro that became The Captain's Oath.

The CBS streamed, so far sophomore seasoned Discovery series not only fleshed out Captain Christopher Pike - the previous USS Enterprise's highest ranking Starfleet officer - it briefly alluded to the third world war in season 2 regarding ex-pat Earthlings and a time-traveling Red Angel (no spoilers - stream, binge and catch up).

What's missing is the cause.

Lying about Hurricane Dorian like a third grader forging his 68 on a report card to an "88" before his parents see it. It is callous of the lives lost in the Atlantic (20 and counting); the height of narcissistic personality disorder, and also illegal.

18 U.S.C. §2074 makes it a crime to issue a counterfeit weather forecast, claiming that it was issued by the Weather Bureau.

Despite a rare rebuke by the National Weather Service, who ostensibly WORK for the orange twit, he doubled, tripled and QUADRUPLED down, exhaustively dragging us ALL into his mad Twitter reality where he is king for life, he is right all the time and his "great brain" is the purest of genius, even stable.

We pulled out of the nuclear arms deal with Iran with the impulsive, not thought through, non-reviewed action that let us walk out of the Paris Climate Accords. We may have to send troops to ensure Iran doesn't reconstitute it's nuclear enrichment program (what the deal was supposed to do); we may end up paying trillions mitigating the after effects of super heated ocean water resulting in climate change damages after calling it a "Chinese hoax."

2053 is the fictional start of the Trek timeline almost species ending third world war. Ten years after that, Zefram Cochrane flies the Phoenix and attracts the attention of Vulcans who are (as written), benevolent, logical and vegetarian. We weren't interesting until we warped, because apparently thermonuclear annihilation and near species extinction is rather boring on a galactic scale.

The "end" may not take thirty-four years. It might just take an errant tweet during a septuagenarian bowel movement in the midst of "executive time" to produce a demonstrably pathetic lie about Alabama...or, a mushroom cloud.

Homo Sapiens to Homo Stultus...a gross, but sadly fitting epitaph.

“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” James Baldwin

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Boiling Superconductivity...

Under pressure: calculated structure of lithium magnesium hydride. Lithium atoms appear in green, magnesium in blue and hydrogen in red. (Courtesy: Ying Sun et al/Phys. Rev. Lett.)

Topics: Chemistry, Materials Science, Nanotechnology, Superconductors

A material that remains a superconductor when heated to the boiling point of water has been predicted by physicists in China. Hanyu Liu, Yanming Ma and colleagues at Jilin University have calculated that lithium magnesium hydride will superconduct at temperatures as high as 473 K (200 °C).

The catch is that the hydrogen-rich material must be crushed at 250 GPa, which is on par with pressures at the center of the Earth. While such a pressure could be achieved in the lab, it would be very difficult to perform an experiment to verify the prediction. The team’s research could, however, lead to the discovery of more practical high-temperature superconductors.

Superconductors are materials that, when cooled below a critical temperature, will conduct electricity with zero resistance. Most superconductors need to be chilled to very low temperatures, so the holy grail of superconductivity research is to find a substance that will superconduct at room temperature. This would result in lossless electricity transmission and boost technologies that rely on the generation or detection of magnetic fields.

Superconductivity at the boiling temperature of water is possible, say physicists
Hamish Johnston, Physics World

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Nanocones...

A carbon nanocone includes nitrogen atoms around the periphery to improve the material’s solubility. Carbon atoms are shown in gray; hydrogen in white; nitrogen in blue; and oxygen in red.

Topics: Applied Physics, Chemistry, Graphene, Nanotechnology

Graphene, buckyballs, and carbon nanotubes now have a new family member, the nanocone, adding to the types of all-carbon nanostructures with remarkable electronic and optical characteristics and bringing its own promising properties. (J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2019, DOI: 10.1021/jacs.9b06617) Such molecules could be useful for developing efficient organic solar cells or as sensor molecules.

Organic chemist Frank Würthner and postdoctoral researcher Kazutaka Shoyama of the University of Würzburg came up with the method for synthesizing the nanocones, which are 1.68 nm in diameter and 0.432 nm tall. A five-atom ring of carbons forms the cone’s tip. The team used a cross-coupling annulation cascade to add hexagons around the edges of the ring until the molecule grew to 80 carbons. The team added five nitrogen atoms around the periphery of the cone, increasing the crystal’s solubility.

Nanocones extend the graphene toolbox, Neil Savage, Chemical & Engineering News

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Off-World Ventures...

A scheme to beam solar power entails collecting sunlight and beaming it to Earth. An array of mirrored heliostats (conical structure) collects the sunlight, and a photovoltaic array (disk) converts it into electricity, which is then converted into a coherent microwave beam and sent to receivers almost anywhere in view on Earth. The image depicts the SPS-ALPHA, or Solar Power Satellite by means of Arbitrarily Large Phased Array.

Topics: Asteroids, Economics, Space Exploration, Spaceflight

An apparent confluence of political will and technological readiness has fans of humankind’s expansion beyond Earth hopeful that their dreams may soon become reality. Alongside a rise in missions to the Moon by agencies and private companies in the US, Europe, China, Japan, India, and Russia, commercial sectors are buzzing with related activities. And various governmental and nongovernmental bodies are strategizing about environmental, ethical, legal, sociological, and other issues of space utilization and colonization.

With interest in space travel growing—spurred in part by billionaire entrepreneurs such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk—enthusiasts say the time is right to figure out how to use space resources, including water, solar power, and lunar regolith. Doing so would expand space exploration, increase commercial activities in space, and lead to technological advances for humanity, says Angel Abbud-Madrid, director of the first graduate degree program in space resources, which he and colleagues launched last year at the Colorado School of Mines.

The only space resource exploited to date is the view of Earth from orbit for such applications as global positioning systems, weather prediction, communications, and science missions. A few years ago the prospect of mining asteroids for platinum and other metals to use on Earth was “the rage,” says George Sowers of the Colorado School of Mines. But the business case didn’t hold up. One exception might be rare-earth elements, but in the near to mid term, he says, “bringing stuff back to Earth is not economically viable.” For now, the focus has shifted to using space resources in situ.

Water is a primary target resource in space. Electrolyzed into hydrogen and oxygen, it becomes fuel that could replenish satellites in orbit and propel rockets for exploring the solar system and returning to Earth. Astronauts and space tourists could drink water, use it for gardening and hygiene, and shield themselves from ionizing radiation with meter-thick sheaths of it around habitats or spacecraft.

Prospect of off-planet outposts spurs interest in space resources
Toni Feder, Physics Today

Monday, September 2, 2019

Quantum Sound...

Credit: Getty Images

Topics: Modern Physics, Phonons, Quantum Mechanics, Theoretical Physics

Researchers have gained control of the elusive “particle” of sound, the phonon. Although phonons—the smallest units of the vibrational energy that makes up sound waves—are not matter, they can be considered particles the way photons are particles of light. Photons commonly store information in prototype quantum computers, which aim to harness quantum effects to achieve unprecedented processing power. Using sound instead may have advantages, although it would require manipulating phonons on very fine scales.

Until recently, scientists lacked this ability; just detecting an individual phonon destroyed it. Early methods involved converting phonons to electricity in quantum circuits called superconducting qubits. These circuits accept energy in specific amounts; if a phonon’s energy matches, the circuit can absorb it—destroying the phonon but giving an energy reading of its presence.

In a new study, scientists at JILA (a collaboration between the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado Boulder) tuned the energy units of their superconducting qubit so phonons would not be destroyed. Instead the phonons sped up the current in the circuit, thanks to a special material that created an electric field in response to vibrations. Experimenters could then detect how much change in current each phonon caused.

“There’s been a lot of recent and impressive successes using superconducting qubits to control the quantum states of light. And we were curious—what can you do with sound that you can’t with light?” says Lucas Sletten of U.C. Boulder, lead author of the study published in June in Physical Review X. One difference is speed: sound travels much slower than light. Sletten and his colleagues took advantage of this to coordinate circuit-phonon interactions that sped up the current. They trapped phonons of particular wavelengths (called modes) between two acoustic “mirrors,” which reflect sound, and the relatively long time sound takes to make a round trip allowed the precise coordination. The mirrors were a hair’s width apart—similar control of light would require mirrors separated by about 12 meters.

Trapping the Tiniest Sound, Leila Sloman, Scientific American

Friday, August 30, 2019

Helsinki to Biarritz...


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

We got here from a so-called "reality show" about a faux billionaire:

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.

Show producer Mark Burnett remarked, "We know each week who has been fired, and therefore, you're editing in reverse." Amid a series of firings and resignations in the Trump administration, he remarked, "I find it strangely validating to hear that they're doing the same thing in the White House."

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."

Tom Porter, Newsweek

Louis Anslow points out a certain German chancellor was initially considered a joke as well. As he posits, "how did that work out?"

For someone that constantly carps "no collusion" and "the Russian hoax," he gives fodder to those who think otherwise:

Biarritz, France (CNN) - A sharp and sometimes bitter disagreement broke out between President Donald Trump and several G7 leaders over whether to allow Russia back into their club during a welcome dinner on Saturday, according to two diplomatic officials and a senior US official with knowledge of the exchange.

Trump, as he did in public over the course of the summit, ardently advocated for it, the officials said. As the leaders discussed issues like Iran and fires in the Amazon rain forest, Trump interjected and asked why Russia should not be included in the talks, given its size and role in global affairs.

That met sharp resistance from some of the leaders, principally German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They argued Russia had grown more anti-democratic since it was ejected in 2014 for its incursion into Ukraine, disqualifying it from rejoining the G7.

The dispute amounted to one of the most heated moments of this weekend's G7. Afterward, Trump publicly insisted the gathering was marked by displays of unity and cooperation. While the leaders did hold amiable discussions throughout both the dinner and other sessions, the exchange on Russia was notable for the fiercely argued views on both sides, the officials said.

Pamela Brown and Kevin Liptak, CNN

He might as well put on a Russian ballerina tutu, "I love Putin" t-shirt and cheerleader pompoms:

It wasn’t the first time Trump has said his predecessor was somehow responsible for the act of aggression that got Russia booted from the G-8, and he’s never been able to come up with anything better than “whatever” in explaining how exactly President Obama was supposed to stop the annexation. All that matters, according to Trump, is that Obama is bad and Putin, even at his most anti-democratic, is incapable of wrongdoing. Just like Trump.

Trump’s anti-Obama screed on Monday came after he was asked about his belief that Putin should be readmitted to the G7 despite showing no remorse for his indiscretions, a cause Trump championed at last year’s G7 in Canada, and again over the weekend in France. As the Washington Post reported on Monday, Trump’s desire to bring Putin back into the fold was far more intense in Biarritz than the president let on publicly, which is saying a lot.

His campaign began on Saturday night, when world leaders met for the first time over dinner. As the Post writes, after beginning cordially, the occasion went “off the rails” when Trump started lobbying on behalf of Putin. His dining partners were not pleased:

“The entire 44-year vision of the G-7 gathering, according to the non-U.S. participants, is to hash out global issues among like-minded democracies. So the discussion quickly turned even more fundamental: whether the leaders should assign any special weight to being a democracy, officials said.

Most of the other participants forcefully believed the answer was yes. Trump believed the answer was no. The push back against him was delivered so passionately that the U.S. president’s body language changed as one leader after another dismissed his demand, according to a senior official who watched the exchange. He crossed his arms. His stance became more combative.”

Not even Boris Johnson, the new Brexit-happy prime minister of England, was on Trump’s side. The next day, he reportedly gave plaudits to French President Emmanuel Macron for how he diffused the argument over dinner the previous night. “You did very well there last night,” Johnson said, according to the Post. “My God, that was a difficult one.


We are five years and forty-eight hours from halcyon days when tan suits were the controversial rage. We're in a daily abusive relationship with a gas lighter and his cult following (a short list): Alex Jones between throwing obvious psychotic fits and accusing anything beyond his third grade comprehension of reading and math to "false flag operations"; feckless evangelicals that have given up any pretense of moral authority, KKK et al racist domestic terrorists and Q-Anon, the natural online evolution from the outer fringes of 4CHAN and 8CHAN per "It Came From Something Awful" author Dan Beran. It could yet become more awful. Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" was a fanciful, dystopian novel and a fascinating Hulu series: not a blueprint. White evangelicals have strange hard on's.

Orange Satan's spiritual and hair mousse twin in the old country suspended parliament to popular backlash, an assault on the British Constitution that can only push our own constitutional assaults to the forefront of his "limited cognitive ability, and of generally dubious character" per General "mad dog" Mattis. 84 environmental regulations are being rolled back, inclusive of methane - a gas along with carbon dioxide that exacerbates global warming, as fires burn in the Amazon and a hurricane barrels towards Florida. The Tongass National Forest mitigates climate change like the Amazon - he's ordered chopped down. We are becoming Apokolips.

It makes as much sense as rolling coal exhaust trucks "owning the libs" polluting the same air they breathe on the same planet. It's the equivalent of shooting their own feet...and laughing about the gaping hole.

Nothing about what he does makes any sense other than political penis envy of the smarter, (bigger hands), more popular black president who's legacy he's hellbent in cartoon megalomania villainy in trying to destroy. Champagne glasses are clicking in the Kremlin, who like their smokestack gremlin brethren ALSO live on the same planet!

In comic books, good typically triumphs over evil.

This life is not a comic book.

There will be no movie...nor a sequel.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Shake, Rattle and Roar...

SpaceX's Mars Starship prototype "Starhopper" hovers over its launchpad during a test flight in Boca Chica, Texas, U.S. August 27, 2019. REUTERS/Trevor Mahlmann

Topics: Mars, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight

(Reuters) - SpaceX test-launched an early prototype of the company’s Mars rocket on Tuesday, unnerving residents near the Texas site and clearing another key hurdle in billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s interplanetary ambitions.

After the launch, Musk congratulated engineers from SpaceX, short for Space Exploration Technologies Corp, and posted a photo of Starhopper touching down on its landing pad with billowing clouds of dust and sand rising from the ground.

“One day Starship will land on the rusty sands of Mars,” Musk tweeted.

The prototype, dubbed Starhopper, slowly rose about 500 feet (152 m) off its launch pad in Brownsville, Texas, and propelled itself some 650 feet (198 m) eastward onto an adjacent landing platform, completing a seemingly successful low-altitude test of SpaceX’s next-generation Raptor engine.

The Raptor is designed to power Musk’s forthcoming heavy-lift Starship rocket, a reusable two-stage booster taller than the Statue of Liberty that is expected to play a central role in Musk’s interplanetary space travel objectives, including missions to Mars.

SpaceX's Mars rocket prototype rattles nearby residents in Texas flight test
Joey Roulette, Reuters Science