Brainy Quote of the Day

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Talk (re-posted)....

Topics: African Americans, History, Diaspora, Diversity in Science, Women in Science

Originally published February 27, 2017, during Black History Month. We are reeling from George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaund Aubrey. "I can't breathe" isn't a cliche: it's a statement of continual trauma, perpetual PTSD from 1619 to present day. We can't breathe from the 82 black boys and men killed before, and now during a global pandemic. We can't breathe from armed gunman shouting at police and threatening lawmakers in Michigan, and unarmed, pissed off demonstrators getting maced, rubber bullets and flash bombed after a murder in the same state Philando Castile lost his life in for a concealed handgun licence. It is building a nation, but not taking part of its advantages fully. It is a relationship to a maniacal, misogynistic, patriarchal, racist, sociopathic system that is determined we nonwhite  "stay in our places" - pariah to the rest of the nation founded on genocide, kidnapping and domestic terrorism - in abject fear, all the while masking quite poorly their own stated, pseudoscientific conspiratorial fears of genetic annihilation. Since we all share the same planet, and I see no starships in orbital shipyards under construction, the only thing their inane fears may bring to apocalyptic destruction is the human species.

*****Re-post with additions*****

The talk is painful to do and painful still to recall. My talk was based on being slammed into a wall of plastic model cars and toys at King's Department Store (see: "Old Tapes" below).

My boys... didn't take the story well. Though ten years apart, their reactions were the same: they were angry, hurt, confused as to why such a thing could happen to their "Pop." Watching this again, in the modern context brought back painful memories:


Despite there and my tears, I had to deliver "the talk," the speech that transcends political party affiliations that every black parent has to relay to their children: fathers to sons; mothers to daughters; uncles and aunts to nieces and nephews; "Big Mommas," and Paw-Paws to grand and great-grandchildren. Despite their tears, my oldest son and his wife will have to deliver "the talk" to our granddaughter, now accustomed to a world in which daycare workers must wear masks; a world where she will likely be judged by the color of her skin, her gender and not the content of her character.

The Preamble to the US Constitution:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Posterity (noun): 1: the offspring of one progenitor to the furthest generation, 2: all future generations. Merriam-Webster

That's what "the talk" is about. It's probably the purist act of citizenship since 1865, as well as love. It says our children matter to "us"; that like most parents of any generation, we'd like to see them grow, mature and have a life of meaning and children themselves if they want. It does not sound like the realm, attitude or philosophy of thugs: it sounds like the realm of citizens. If indeed "all lives mattered," it would not be necessary.

This is the darker history of American exceptionalism. A segment of citizenry - be they democrats or republicans - must give a safety brief to their children for walking out the door into the dominant society to ensure their safe return. Because apparently, that's not guaranteed due to a preponderance of Melanin and an equal preponderance of the assumption guilty-while-black.

When the talk becomes a thing we discuss in history books, we'll be a free nation; we'll be America, the Beautiful, definitively.

I will consider my life a blessing to have my sons live full lives, and be allowed to do what I had to do with their Grandpa, Robert Harrison Goodwin after August 26, 1999, and their Grandma Mildred Dean Goodwin after May 7, 2009:



To Robert Harrison Goodwin (Pop/Grandpa), Third Class Petty Officer, United States Navy Veteran, World War II -my first martial arts instructor (boxing). I hope you like what your daughter-in-law and I have done with your grandsons (Real Estate/Civil Engineering), and now, your great-granddaughter. They are, after all, your posterity. We love you and mom always, "Chief."

Robert H. Goodwin is kneeling, lower left.

Griot Poet blog: "Old Tapes"

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day, 2020...

History.com

Topics: History, Politics

One of the earliest commemorations was organized by recently freed slaves.

As the Civil War neared its end, thousands of Union soldiers, held as prisoners of war, were herded into a series of hastily assembled camps in Charleston, South Carolina. Conditions at one camp, a former racetrack near the city’s Citadel, were so bad that more than 250 prisoners died from disease or exposure, and were buried in a mass grave behind the track’s grandstand.

Three weeks after the Confederate surrender, an unusual procession entered the former camp: On May 1, 1865, more than 1,000 recently freed slaves, accompanied by regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops (including the Massachusetts 54th Infantry) and a handful of white Charlestonians, gathered in the camp to consecrate a new, proper burial site for the Union dead. The group sang hymns, gave readings and distributed flowers around the cemetery, which they dedicated to the “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

The holiday’s “founder” had a long and distinguished career.

In May 1868, General John A. Logan, the commander-in-chief of the Union veterans’ group known as the Grand Army of the Republic, issued a decree that May 30 should become a nationwide day of commemoration for the more than 620,000 soldiers killed in the recently ended Civil War. On Decoration Day, as Logan dubbed it, Americans should lay flowers and decorate the graves of the war dead “whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

According to legend, Logan chose May 30 because it was a rare day that didn’t fall on the anniversary of a Civil War battle, though some historians believe the date was selected to ensure that flowers across the country would be in full bloom.

After the war Logan, who had served as a U.S. congressman before resigning to rejoin the army, returned to his political career, eventually serving in both the House and Senate and was the unsuccessful Republican candidate for vice president in 1884. When he died two years later, Logan’s body laid in state in the rotunda of the United States Capitol, making him one of just 33 people to have received the honor. Today, Washington, D.C.’s Logan Circle and several townships across the country are named in honor of this champion of veterans and those killed in battle.

8 Things You May Not Know About Memorial Day (Updated), History.com Editors

Typically, we would be in a family gathering in Texas, barbecuing, if not for this pandemic. For African Americans, Memorial Day is not only the unofficial-official "First Day of Summer," it's a mini-family reunion, as many center around the immediate family, friends, ribs and fixings. Everyone typically watches the Wreath Laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, out of respect for the fallen, unnamed but not forgotten, regardless of political party.

That of course, isn't our current situation:

In one message retweeted by the president, John Stahl, a conservative who gathered only 3% of the vote in his bid to represent California's 52nd District in the House in 2012, called the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, Clinton, a "skank."

In another message shared by Trump, Stahl aimed insulting gibes at Pelosi and Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the 2018 race for the governor's office in Georgia and is a contender for selection as Joe Biden's running mate in the 2020 presidential race.

Trump retweets a message calling Hillary Clinton a 'skank' and spreads sexist insults about other prominent female Democrats

Tom Porter, Business Insider

*****

President Donald Trump spent a day at the links Saturday at his Virginia golf course as the nation careened toward 100,000 deaths from COVID-19. It was his first time golfing since declaring the pandemic a national emergency.

The tee-time scenes couldn’t help but recall those times Trump slammed Barack Obama for golfing when he was in the White House during the Ebola outbreak — which killed two in the U.S.

Trump Used To Tee Off On Obama For Golfing During Ebola Outbreak That Killed 2 In America

Mary Papenfuss, Yahoo/HuffPost

Our current situation is having a septuagenarian adolescent, if comedian and Celebrity Apprentice show runner Noel Casler is heeded: a drug addict. One does not just crush Adderall to snort unless it is prescribed, usually for attention deficit disorder, or hyperactivity disorder. It explains the constant, unconscious sniffing at microphones. It explains why intelligence agencies are encouraged to keep presidential daily briefings "short, and without nuance." It explains why he demands briefings targeted towards brevity and "killer graphics." Coupled with raging malignant narcissism and the lucky birth into wealth and white male supremacy, he's bluffed his entire life, failed upwards to the highest office in the land where he's clearly out over his skis.

2020 as year three and one half under this lunatic is well beyond its expiration date.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Salk, Sabin and the Sun...

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, History, Politics

On March 26, 1953, American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announces on a national radio show that he has successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that causes the crippling disease of polio. In 1952—an epidemic year for polio—there were 58,000 new cases reported in the United States, and more than 3,000 died from the disease. For promising eventually to eradicate the disease, which is known as “infant paralysis” because it mainly affects children, Dr. Salk was celebrated as the great doctor-benefactor of his time.

Polio, a disease that has affected humanity throughout recorded history, attacks the nervous system and can cause varying degrees of paralysis. Since the virus is easily transmitted, epidemics were commonplace in the first decades of the 20th century. The first major polio epidemic in the United States occurred in Vermont in the summer of 1894, and by the 20th century thousands were affected every year. In the first decades of the 20th century, treatments were limited to quarantines and the infamous “iron lung,” a metal coffin-like contraption that aided respiration. Although children, and especially infants, were among the worst affected, adults were also often afflicted, including future president Franklin D. Roosevelt, who in 1921 was stricken with polio at the age of 39 and was left partially paralyzed. Roosevelt later transformed his estate in Warm Springs, Georgia, into a recovery retreat for polio victims and was instrumental in raising funds for polio-related research and the treatment of polio patients.

According to the link, the trials weren't without consequence:

In 1954, clinical trials using the Salk vaccine and a placebo began on nearly two million American schoolchildren. In April 1955, it was announced that the vaccine was effective and safe, and a nationwide inoculation campaign began. Shortly thereafter, tragedy struck in the Western and mid-Western United States, when more than 200,000 people were injected with a defective vaccine manufactured at Cutter Laboratories of Berkeley, California. Thousands of polio cases were reported, 200 children were left paralyzed and 10 died.

The Salk method - created in 1954 - is to inject inert forms of the virus into the bloodstream (made inactive with formaldehyde), then the body develops defenses, or antibodies against them, however it didn't prevent the virus from thriving in the intestines. His colleague, Dr. Sabin, injected an attenuated vaccine (1961), meaning it wasn't a fully inert strain so that the gut environment could be addresses. More here. The Sabin mostly eliminated Polio in the world, but the U.S. still uses the Salk method.

April 8, 1950, Mildred Dean married Robert H. Goodwin. Mom would earn an associates degree as a PN - practical nurse, and Pop worked for Hanes Dye and Finishing as an operator, under grueling conditions and few opportunities to promote until retirement. My big sister - in grade school at the time - would come along for the ride.

1954 - the year of the Polio vaccine, was also the date of Brown vs. Board of Education, where the Supreme Court reached a non-partisan, 9-0 decision, that education in America was separate and unequal.

1961 was the year the Sabin vaccine was created, and a couple who had been married twelve years got pregnant around Thanksgiving - I would be born August of 1962. I likely was beneficiary of the Sabin method at Kate Biting Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC, also the black hospital where my mother worked.

We cannot "patent the sun." But one can be grateful for the impact of invention by Dr. Salk and Dr. Sabin on the quality of life given to everyone in my generation, and forward, and African American parents wise enough to wait for it.

There will be a sunrise, past this moment.

Dr. Jonas Salk announces polio vaccine, History.com Editors

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Masks...

People walk through Piazza Duomo in Milan on May 7th. Some restrictions were lifted this week in Italy.BY CARLO COZZOLI/SHUTTERSTOCK.

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, Mathematical Models

Though I likely look like an alarmist to some of my neighbors and most of Greensboro, I will be wearing masks for the duration of this pandemic and the release of a vaccine under hopefully, a more functional administration in 2021.

“I felt like this was pretty urgent,” said De Kai, who was born in St. Louis, and is the son of immigrants from China. “I saw the country where I grew up, where my family lives [now mostly in the Bay Area], about to face this pandemic without knowing much about something as simple as wearing a mask to protect themselves and others.” In part, this comes from a cultural difference between East Asia, where masks have been routinely worn for decades to fend off pollution and germs, and other parts of the world. This includes the U.S., where people are unaccustomed to wearing masks, and, in the past, have sometimes been insensitive, even stigmatizing East Asians, many of whom had chosen to wear them in public prior to the pandemic, and had continued the practice in the aftermath of the SARS and MERS outbreaks. (In part, this habit was meant to show other people that they were concerned about transmitting the disease—something we in the West would do well to emulate.)

De Kai’s solution, along with his team, was to build a computer forecasting model they call the masksim simulator. This allowed them to create scenarios of populations like those in Japan (that generally wear masks) and others (that generally don’t), and to compare what happens to infection rates over time. Masksim takes sophisticated programming used by epidemiologists to track outbreaks and pathogens like COVID-19, Ebola, and SARS, and blended this with other models that are used in artificial intelligence to take into account the role of chance, in this case the randomness and unpredictability, of human behavior—for instance, when a person who is infected decides to go to a beach. De Kai’s team have also added some original programming that takes into account mask-specific criteria, such as how effective certain masks are at blocking the invisible micro-droplets of moisture that spray out of our mouths when we exhale or speak, or our noses when we sneeze, which scientists believe are significant vectors for spreading the coronavirus.

If 80% of Americans Wore Masks, COVID-19 Infections Would Plummet, New Study Says, David Ewing Duncan, Vanity Fair

Here's the ArXiv preprint paper to review. It takes ninth grade reading comprehension. What you don't understand in terms can be discerned with a search engine.

What is not "exceptional," nor greatness is the threat of "getting beat up" (M. Signorile article) that an Austin man reported saying he felt simply complying with the simple, constitutional right of wearing a mask to protect others from the spread of a lethal virus. What is not "exceptional," nor greatness: threatening a sovereign state assembly in Minnesota with armed terrorists (that's the only word that comes to mind), and making a deal amounts to quid pro quo extortion! Nor is it normal Michigan State Rep. Sarah Anthony has to enlist armed citizens to protect her as she goes about her duties of governance.

The beginning of this four decade cluster fuck started with a simple phrase that became dogma and orthodoxy for republicans by their only patron saint, Ronald Reagan:

In his inaugural address after taking the oath of office on January 20, Ronald Reagan called upon Americans to "begin an era of national renewal." In response to the serious problems facing the country, both foreign and domestic, he asserted his familiar campaign phrase: "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." He hoped that America "will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not have freedom."

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum

It has thus devolved to Orange Satan's comment by Stephen-lost-to-Jews-forever-Miller, noted by Dahlia Lithwick in Slate: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” was simply the inauguration of the same; a preamble to depravity. It has devolved into the irony of lock down protesters spreading the very virus they travel hundreds of miles to protest: then, take their bodies and arms back home after not social distancing from possibly asymptomatic brethren to "hug grandma." It has been government by past midnight Tweet, ineptitude on steroids, bungled pandemic response, bullying threats, racist innuendo; stoked nationalism and xenophobia. Any outside observer would say "United States" is an oxymoron, led by a fucking moron. An electoral victory won't magically solve our problems. We'll be wearing masks for a while until we get an actual treatment protocol and vaccine. "Normal" is a relative term. We haven't gone back to walking loved ones to their planes, we haven't stopped taking off our shoes nor have we repented of invasive body scans since and after 9/11. We won't go back to "normal" anymore other than science fiction, where we can travel to the past, glorified or not.

At least the mask of "exceptionalism" has permanently been removed, replaced by red hats and armed terrorists. There is no room for doubt of our full depravity. My vote in November will be to end this, and Damnatio Memoriae: a fitting end to a narcissist.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Touchless Print Scanning...

Credit: N. Hanacek/NIST NIST evaluated several commercially available contactless fingerprint scanning technologies in its May 2020 report.

Topics: NIST, Optics, Research

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has evaluated several commercially available contactless fingerprint scanning technologies, allowing users to compare their performance to conventional devices that require physical contact between a person’s fingers and the scanner.

The results of the study, published today as NIST Interagency Report (NISTIR) 8307: Interoperability Assessment 2019: Contactless-to-Contact Fingerprint Capture, show that devices requiring physical contact remain superior to contactless technology at matching scanned prints to images in a database. However, when contactless devices scan multiple fingers on a hand, it improves their performance. Contactless devices that scanned multiple fingers also seldom made “false positive” errors that incorrectly matched one person’s print with another’s record.

The publication updates NIST’s July 2018 study on contactless capture and is intended to assist organizations that use fingerprint-scanning technology.

“The report summarizes the state of the art of contactless fingerprint scanning,” said John Libert, one of the report’s authors. “It can help anyone interested in adopting contactless technology to evaluate the cost in performance they might pay by switching to contactless fingerprint capture.”

NIST Study Measures Performance Accuracy of Contactless Fingerprinting Tech

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Kondo Effect...

Daniel Mazzone led the project to explore the mechanism that causes samarium sulphide to expand dramatically when cooled. Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Topics: Materials Science, Quantum Mechanics, Research, Thermodynamics

Most metals expand when heated and contract when cooled. A few metals, however, do the opposite, exhibiting what’s known as negative thermal expansion (NTE). A team of researchers led by Ignace Jarrige and Daniel Mazzone of Brookhaven National Laboratory in the US has now found that in one such metal, yttrium-doped samarium sulphide (SmS), NTE is linked to a quantum many-body phenomenon called the Kondo effect. The work could make it possible to develop alloys in which positive and negative expansion cancel each other out, producing a composite material with a net-zero thermal expansion – a highly desirable trait for applications in aerospace and other areas of hi-tech manufacturing.

Even within the family of NTE materials, yttrium-doped SmS is an outlier, gradually expanding by up to 3% when cooled over a few hundred degrees. To better understand the mechanisms behind this “giant” NTE behavior, Mazzone and Jarrige employed X-ray diffraction and spectroscopy to investigate the material’s electronic properties.

The researchers carried out the first experiments at the Pair Distribution Function (PDF) beamline at Brookhaven’s National Synchrotron Light Source (II) (NSLS-II). They placed their SmS sample inside a liquid-helium cooled cryostat in the beam of the synchrotron X-rays and measured how the X-rays scattered off the electron clouds around the atomic ions. By tracking how these X-rays scatter, they identified the locations of the atoms in the crystal structure and the spacings between them.

“Our results show that, as the temperature drops, the atoms of this material move farther apart, causing the entire material to expand by up to 3% in volume,” says Milinda Abeykoon, the lead scientist on the PDF beamline.

Kondo effect induces giant negative thermal expansion, Belle Dumé, Physics World

Monday, May 18, 2020

Harry Truman and Brave New Worlds...

YULIA DROZDOVA/ALAMY STOCK VECTOR

Topics: History, Politics, Research, STEM

A crowd began to form at the train station in Pocatello, Idaho, around 5:15 am on Wednesday, 10 May 1950. Some 700 bleary-eyed townspeople had come to see the president and neither the day’s cold weather nor the hour would deter them. When the train chugged into town, President Harry Truman was standing on the rear platform, ready to greet the crowd. The trip to Pocatello was part of a whistle-stop tour of the northern US that took the president to numerous small towns dotting the railway.

Although Truman spent most of his time in Idaho addressing local agricultural and economic issues, in Pocatello, he talked to the crowd about science. Earlier that morning, as his train sped along the tracks, Truman had signed the National Science Foundation Act of 1950. It created the first federal agency devoted to supporting fundamental research and education across all scientific disciplines. Standing before a group of chilly Idahoans, Truman made a case for the importance of large-scale federal support for scientific research.

The story of NSF’s creation and early years of operation serves as an important window into the growth of postwar federal science policy. Science’s role in World War II had convinced many in the government that public support was needed for scientific research. Once open, NSF became an important site where debates over science policy, federal support for civilian research facilities, and federal support for education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) played out in postwar America.

NSF and postwar US Science, Emily Gibson, Physics Today