Brainy Quote of the Day

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Year in Rear View...

March for Science protesters gather in front of the White House with Muppet character Beaker.
Credit: Jessica Kourkounis/Getty

Topics: Commentary, Science, Research
It is poignant that this is the last post of 2017. Since the repeal of Net Neutrality (translation: Internet equality, i.e. all income levels can access the commons), I'll see how it goes the first weeks of 2018, or when any tiered charges take effect. With any luck and Gestapos notwithstanding, I should be back the 1st Monday in January.

The absence of Net Neutrality may or may not affect movements like #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo et al that got started essentially as viral mobilizations, like large flash mobs. That won't mean movements will be silenced, just likely they'll go back to some of their previous analog models and pool resources for access. If it affects the bottom lines of Amazon, CBS All Access, Hulu and Netflix, expect lawsuits. It may force a few of us to read more books at bookstores and newspapers, three commodities that have suffered from the advent of the Internet, and seeking a PDF versus a book, or buying a subscription to a newspaper or magazine. I have also felt the impact at the movies, since I'll be the first to admit I tend to wait until its streamed or released to video. It brings clarity to the colloquialism: "why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?" - from salaciousness to economics.

The Nature article below covers the following topics:

- The first observed collisions of Neutron stars using LIGO and Virgo;
- SESAME, the Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, was inaugurated on 16 May;
- Quantum entanglement;
- The inauguration of our tragicomic, adolescent, pathological lying, conspiracy-theory influenced, Twitter-addicted septuagenarian, the 45th president*;
- The March for Science, which I participated in the local one in Poughkeepsie, New York;
- BREXIT and its heretofore unimagined consequences to science and UK tourism;
- "On 12 July, an iceberg twice the size of Luxembourg broke free from the Antarctic Peninsula" (read that one again);
- The EPA changed its acronym from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Environmental Pirating and land grab Agency (my pun);
- Genetics, hybrid fetuses with human and pig cells that could one day pave the way to grow organs for people;
- Cassini took a nose dive and we discovered TRAPPIST-1 has seven Earth-sized planets;
- #MeToo
- California wildfires exacerbated by climate change;
- AI and Quantum Computers.

* Random thoughts:

1. 2042: When white Americans becomes the numerical minority in the US, only 25 years, or a generation away. This was ironically published in 2008 on my birthday and before the election of the first African American president in the history of the US republic, launching a wave of bigotry almost unparalleled in recent memory.
2. It isn't much of a stretch that a political party that historically championed Civil Rights for African Americans - fighting a war over it, during which it started the National Academy of Science and now is anti-science, anti-evidence, anti-fact and anti-intellectualism would eventually find its avatar in a "reality" television star. Also note: birtherism was the first modern genesis of "alternative facts." Like the term "alt-right," it's the same old lies. It even creeps into history books.
3. The GOP is losing with women and youth: African Americans, Asians and Hispanics as visibly participating members are minuscule, statistical "noise." The party is becoming older, whiter and dying offAfter the 2012 election, the GOP did an autopsy that was largely ignored. Wink-and-nod dog whistles were converted to carnival-barked foghorns by their eventual bigoted and Russian-assisted presidential candidate.
4. Howard Dean introduced small-dollar donations, followed by Senator then President Obama and imitated by every democratic candidate since. Republicans get the majority of their campaign money from big donors, hence the tax cut for them.
5. Russian interference in our elections hasn't been acted on as a priority by 45, nor by the republican-led congress - see random thoughts 1 and 2.
6. Unchecked, that interference will be in play during the midterms November 6, 2018 that like Alabama December 12, 2017, have to be overcome by sheer numbers.
7. The DNC hack is labeled as "fake news" by 45's White House of horrors, while not much is made of the RNC hack that occurred at the same time. Joy Reid seems to have connected-the-dots, and they lead to Kompromat.

What would a dwindling, desperate party DO to remain in power?

Perhaps anything, including selling out the country and their own souls.

The article below speaks for itself at the link. See you next year (hopefully).

2017 in news: The science events that shaped the year, Nature
Ewen Callaway, Davide Castelvecchi, David Cyranoski, Elizabeth Gibney, Heidi Ledford, Jane J. Lee, Lauren Morello, Nicky Phillips, Quirin Schiermeier, Jeff Tollefson & Alexandra Witze

Related link:

How To Talk to a Science Denier Without Arguing: A simple strategy with the acronym EGRIP can be surprisingly effective
Gleb Tsipursky, Scientific American

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