Mail 819 Monday, April 07, 2014
Alas, it’s tax time and much of this is short shrift.
On The Beach — Looking at this, who can doubt that Mars once had an ocean?
What goes around comes around…
"For those who may not recall those late August days in 2012, the Republican Party arrived in Tampa dedicated to creating a seamless launch for the national presidential campaign of its standard bearer, Governor Mitt Romney, and to do all it could to insure at least the appearance of a united party as it moved toward the November election.
"To make that happen, Chairman Reince Priebus—along with a number of national committee members on the Mitt Romney bandwagon—made the determination that anyone or anything associated with libertarian Ron Paul was bad news for the GOP’s chances and, as such, were to be avoided at all costs."
"By seeking to rig their 2012 convention (performances by Clint Eastwood aside), the GOP has set a trap for itself that is likely to have a significant effect on their 2016 chances…and party leadership seems to want to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist."
The sounds of the waterfall seem to be growing louder…
I have wondered if Obama was re-elected because the Republican elite was so contemptuous of the Ron Paul supporters that those folks sat at home Election Day.
Since Obama got fewer votes in 2012 than the losing candidate in 2008, it should be fairly clear that the deciding factor in 2012 was lack of interest in voting on the part of anti-Obama voters. One may make of that what one can. Had the Republicans turned out in 2012 as well as they did in 2008, Mr. Obama would have been a one term President.
We have this:
This seems to indicate that the rate of those without health insurance is declining rather dramatically. Whatever its merits and flaws, the AHA seems to be working, assuming this is not due to confounders such as an improving economy or demographic changes such as an aging population.
Some of those now insured are young people taking advantage of their parents’ policies. It may be that the system is “working” in that enough young healthy people are signing up and actually paying premiums, but that is not clear on the information I have.
Of course this is still not an indication that ACA is “working” in that it will deliver health care. There is still some question about that. But one would suppose that eventually the purely technical glitches will be overcome and all who want Obamacare coverage will be able to get it.
MATTHEW GREEN ON THE NSA AND CRYPTO BACKDOORS
Here is a ~15 minute podcast interview with Matthew Green, the university cryptography researcher who (you might recall) ran into an attempt to force him to take down a blog post some months ago.
He and a group have looked at the Dual ECRB random number generator that NSA is reputed to have back-door’ed and then paid RSA to make the default in one of its products. In this interview (sponsored by Kaspersky) he discusses their findings. Basically, it’s clear that the standard was made much easier to break if one knows and understands the backdoor, which the author (NSA) certainly does.
Another government agency acquires armed force
In case you haven’t seen this:
Federal law enforcement
"The proliferation of federal agencies with armed agents is one of the most worrisome aspects of the growth in government."
Subj: "Credentialed Government Workers"
"“I can’t find the talent right now. My health and human services secretary says ‘Please get me some talent. Please get me some forecasters. Please get me some technical people.’ [Information systems] people are very, very difficult to find. If I get a good [information systems] person, they’re stolen within a year by the private sector.”
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R)
“His concern apparently is over the pay scale of government workers, although I have not heard that there is any shortage of “qualified” i.e. credentialed applicants for government jobs. The biggest problem is that we have an education system indistinguishable from one imposed by a foreign power after winning a war with the US."
I work as an IT professional in one of Gov. McCrory’s departments, and, yes, there is no shortage of ‘credentialed’ workers here in the research triangle with several excellent universities a hop, skip and a jump away. However, government salaries have essentially been frozen for much of the last ten years due to the economic recession, and we have great trouble hiring, and especially retaining, the best and brightest, particularly the ‘young tigers’ among us.
I would not think that ordinary government work requires the best and the brightest; indeed, the best and the brightest in my experience make god-awful bureaucrats. The real question is, why does government need the best and the brightest for career positions?
U.S. Response to Crimea Worries Japan’s Leaders
How long until Japan feels compelled to start building nukes?
Oh, but could they do that?
Those evil Western Colonial Powers were up to no good an Africa again:
An angry crowd attacked a treatment center in Guinea on Friday where staff from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) were working to contain an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, forcing it to shut down, a spokesman for the medical charity said.
Oh, excuse me, this has nothing to do with colonization and has everything to do with local people disrupting their progress.
Joshua Jordan, KSC
Dear Jerry –
You wrote, "Another shooting incident at Fort Hood. The Army is unable to protect itself: if you want to murder people, you need access to a military base or a school; on either case you will be assured that someone will have disarmed anyone able to protect himself or comrades, so you may proceed as you will. Just as it is generally safe to rob landing passengers from aircraft. This is to assure the safety of the disarmed troopers. One might have thought that this approach would have been questioned after the Mad Muslim Psychiatrist opened fire on his unarmed comrades five years ago."
Well, true enough, but it’s not like this is a new condition. Traditionally, garrison troops are discouraged from possessing weapons, and their duty weapons are strictly controlled. This has been true of the US since at least WWI, with the possible exception of officer’s sidearms. In a combat zone, of course, this doesn’t apply, but in CONUS it has been very much the rule. To put it bluntly, the traditional view of enlisted troops did not suggest that letting them run around with guns (outside of combat or strictly controlled duty or training, of course) was a good idea. For instance, it was common after firing range training to have the responsible officer walk down the line of troops while each would state, "No brass no ammo, sir!"
And changing this policy would require some extraordinary adjustments, as it would essentially require adopting the viewpoint that no soldier should trust his fellows.
Perhaps what is needed is a Foreign Legion which never sets foot on American soil? Or perhaps it is better to disarm the soldiers to make life simpler for Mad Muslim Major psychiatrists. If the troops could defend themselves against declared enemies of the United States would they merit the Purple Heart?
I don’t believe it, I agree with Soros on this one:
Joshua Jordan, KSC
The legalization of marijuana by the states is an accomplished fact; this kind of experimentation is exactly what the Constitution encourages. As to what happens now, we will see.
Dept Dir of CIA Morell on Benghazi
The iron law in action:
Under questioning from members on the committee, Morell described a process under which C.I.A. analysts in Washington provided an early assessment without seeking or receiving information from the many C.I.A. officers and other witnesses on the ground in Libya. And when the C.I.A. Tripoli station chief attempted to correct the record in an email to headquarters on Sept. 15, 2012, Morell says it was discounted as unreliable. According to Morell, the email claimed the attacks were “not an escalation of a protest.” However, Morell said that intel relied on press reports and C.I.A. officers on sight who probably would have arrived too late to see a protest anyway.
“My actions were appropriate in response as Deputy Director of CIA,” Morell testified. “I immediately recognized the discrepancy between my station chief and the judgment of our [Washington] analysts.” Morell says he asked his analysts to revisit their judgment and “they stuck to their initial conclusion” that the attacks were by protesters. Morell defended the decision.
“I did not hide nor did I downplay the station chief’s comments as some have suggested, in fact I did the opposite,” Morell said today.
So, the Station Chief on site, says one thing and the boys at HQ decide he does not know what he is talking about?
Burn HQ to the ground and start over.
States work to protect electric grid
High Frequency Trading
In 2012 Katsuyama left RBC to form IEX, an exchange that aims to level the playing field so that price information is available to all investors simultaneously. It launched last October. Among the tactics deployed to keep the market even: a “magic shoebox” containing 50 km of coiled fibre optic cable that sits between the exchange and HFT firms. The added distance results in a 350-microsecond delay, just enough time to dissuade predatory electronic traders.
It seems likely to me that over time High Speed Trading is a problem that will solve itself. A new government agency is not needed. Technology is the great leveler. As it is, everyone has access to major computing power, effectively equal to what the government has (in the sense that more doesn’t do more for you).
Physics Stopped Being Science, Long Ago
I had a discussion today and I wanted to look into the matter to see if the Emperor and his Ignorial Storm Troopers decided to start observing nature again or continue their metamorphosis into witchdoctors. You seem to hold a fondness for "voodoo science" =) ; the ooga booga machine seems bigger:
The theory is deceptively simple: The speed of light is not constant, as we’ve been taught since the early 1930s, but has been steadily slowing since the first instance of time.
If true, virtually all aspects of traditional physics are affected, including the presumed steady state of radioactive decay used to measure geologic time.
More importantly, if true the standardized speed of light, which conflicts with available data, would mean that physicists stopped being scientists when they stopped observing nature and began using standard measurements rather than taking natural measurements.
Consider what this might mean for the species, if you will: What would we do in 10,000 years if physics stopped working and nobody thought to measure the speed of light? We would, likely, have a mystery religion with priests looking for a lost key that they forgot and cannot find; it would be another dark age; it would be like today; it would be horrible. We don’t want that to happen again. But, enough of my admonishments; your grasp is keen. Let’s continue:
Early in 1979, an Australian undergraduate student named Barry Setterfield, thought it would be interesting to chart all of the measurements of the speed of light since a Dutch astronomer named Olaf Roemer first measured light speed in the late 17th century. Setterfield acquired data on over 163 measurements using 16 different methods over 300 years.
The early measurements typically tracked the eclipses of the moons of Jupiter when the planet was near the Earth and compared it with observations when then planet was farther away. These observations were standard, simple and repeatable, and have been measured by astronomers since the invention of the telescope. These are demonstrated to astronomy students even today. The early astronomers kept meticulous notes and sketches, many of which are still available.
Setterfield expected to see the recorded speeds grouped around the accepted value for light speed, roughly 299,792 kilometers /second. In simple terms, half of the historic measurements should have been higher and half should be lower.
What he found defied belief: The derived light speeds from the early measurements were significantly faster than today. Even more intriguing, the older the observation, the faster the speed of light. A sampling of these values is listed below:
In 1738: 303,320 +/- 310 km/second
In 1861: 300,050 +/- 60 km/second
In 1877: 299,921 +/- 13 km/second
In 2004: 299,792 km/second (accepted constant) </>
Now, I know we’re going to have objections at this point; so let me toss some ice water on those little fires:
Setterfield teamed with statistician Dr. Trevor Norman and demonstrated that, even allowing for the clumsiness of early experiments, and correcting for the multiple lenses of early telescopes and other factors related to technology, the speed of light was discernibly higher 100 years ago, and as much as 7 percent higher in the 1700s. Dr. Norman confirmed that the measurements were statistically significant with a confidence of more than 99 percent.
Setterfield and Norman published their results at SRI in July 1987 after extensive peer review.
It would be easy to dismiss two relatively unknown researchers if theirs were the only voices in this wilderness and the historic data was the only anomaly. They are not.
Since the SRI publication in 1987, forefront researchers from Russia, Australia, Great Britain and the United States have published papers in prestigious journals questioning the constancy of the speed of light.
Within the last 24 months, Dr. Joao Magueijo, a physicist at Imperial College in London, Dr. John Barrow of Cambridge, Dr. Andy Albrecht of the University of California at Davis and Dr. John Moffat of the University of Toronto have all published work advocating their belief that light speed was much higher – as much as 10 to the 10th power faster – in the early stages of the “Big Bang” than it is today. (It’s important to note that none of these researchers have expressed any bias toward a predetermined answer, biblical or otherwise. If anything, they are antagonistic toward a biblical worldview.)
Dr. Magueijo believes that light speed was faster only in the instants following the beginning of time. Dr. Barrow, Barry Setterfield and others believe that light speed has been declining from the beginning of time to the historic near past.
Dr. Magueijo recently stated that the debate should not be why and how could the speed of light could vary, but what combination of irrefutable theories demands that it be constant at all.
Setterfield now believes there are at least four other major observed anomalies consistent with a slowing speed of light:
quantized red-shift observations from other galaxies,
measured changes in atomic masses over time,
measured changes in Planck’s Constant over time,
and differences between time as measured by the atomic clock, and time as measured by the orbits of the planets in our solar system.
Perhaps the most interesting of these is the quantized red-shift data.
We have a small, rebel force on a moon on Endor attempting to shut down the deflector shield so that our forces can burst the Deathstar of ignorance that menaces the discipline of physics. May the force be with them and that Nobel Peace Prize winner that will play Luke Skywalker in all this malarkey.
Joshua Jordan, KSC
Well, if the speed of light is diminishing at something like a meter per second per century, projected back 10 billion years, what would the velocity of light have been? Of course there’s no reason to assume a linear rate of change. Logarithmic? S curves? If the rate of change is that pronounced it should be detectable over a period of years. It would not be all that difficult to take annual measures, just in case… But of course the Voodoo Sciences don’t encourage people to routinely test “laws”.
Norman Borlaug Centennial
This past week was the 100th birthday of the late, great Norman Borlaug.
A statue was unveiled in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday of plant scientist Norman Borlaug, the man widely considered the father of the Green Revolution and whose work helped save as many as 1 billion people from starvation in the developing world.
He is one of just six people to win the Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And yet Borlaug, who died three years ago today, is scarcely known in his own country.
Though barely known in the country of his birth, elsewhere in the world Norman Borlaug is widely considered to be among the leading Americans of our age.
And Penn and Teller’s "Eat This!" episode hi-lights Borlaug, whom Penn Jillette declares "the greatest person in history" (It starts out dealing with overeating, then flips to deal with food shortages, in which Borlaug figures prominently).
The Atlantic article was published in 1997. Interestingly, the "population bomb" mentality had not yet loosened its grip. Now in the industrial world, demographic collapse is the specter stalking us , led by Japan and Russia, with western Europe and China close behind. One of the less-appreciated reasons that Russia is currently being so territorially aggressive is that the Russian leadership knows it is facing a catastrophic shortage of Russians in the near future and is desperate to supplement it by any means possible.
Subject: Side effects
Got this from my science teacher daughter, who got it from one of her fellow teachers.
It is about the ‘fallout’ of re-introducing wolves into Yellowstone.
The video runs about 3 min or so.
Of course there are those who like wolves. Ranchers are not usually part of this group.
Russian Navy Now Has Control over Crimea’s Elite Dolphin Unit | Mediaite
Will the Dolphins be loyal to Russia?
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.