Saturday, October 24, 2009
Young and budding physicists would be thrilled with a brand new scintillating bolometer this holiday season! Even more desirable than an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!
"That dark matter has never been found is no deterrent to the physicists who are looking for it." That oddly constructed English sentence and head-scratching thought fairly well describes the work of particle scientists today. These physicists tell us an astonishing fact: only around five percent of what makes up the universe can be detected. Thus, they hypothesize the existence of a substance/force/entity named, dark matter- a name that sends chills down the spine of SciFi and Star Wars fans everywhere!
The theory contends that the motion of distant galaxies can only be explained by a gravitational pull caused by more mass than can be seen. Estimates of dark matter are about 20 percent of the universe. Curiously, the remaining 75 percent made up of dark energy, a repulsive force that is causing the universe to expand at an ever-quickening pace. [cue the music from Twilight Zone]
WiredScience says, "At the heart of Abancens’ team’s detector, which is called a scintillating bolometer and resembles a prop from The Golden Compass, is a crystal so pure it can conduct the energy ostensibly generated when a particle of dark matter strikes the nucleus of one of its atoms.
"To prevent interference by cosmic rays, the bolometer is sheathed in lead and kept underground, under half a mile of rock. It’s also frozen to near-absolute zero, the temperature at which all motion stops. At the edge of absolute zero, it’s possible to measure expected changes of a few millionths of a degree Fahrenheit."
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Frequent commenter, Steve, linked an article in ScienceDaily titled, Is Unknown Force In Universe Acting On Dark Matter? This article begins, " An international team of astronomers have found an unexpected link between mysterious 'dark matter' and the visible stars and gas in galaxies that could revolutionise our current understanding of gravity."
It goes on, " "The dark matter seems to 'know' how the visible matter is distributed. They seem to conspire with each other such that the gravity of the visible matter at the characteristic radius of the dark halo is always the same. This is extremely surprising since one would rather expect the balance between visible and dark matter to strongly depend on the individual history of each galaxy."
Dr. Zhao at the SUPA Centre of Gravity notes, "The pattern that the data reveal is extremely odd. It's like finding a zoo of animals of all ages and sizes miraculously having identical, say, weight in their backbones or something. It is possible that a non-gravitational fifth force is ruling the dark matter with an invisible hand, leaving the same fingerprints on all galaxies, irrespective of their ages, shapes and sizes."
Steve wonders if what many refer to as 'God,' might be this 'force and/or balance in the universe. This line from the article is especially God-inducing: "Such a force might solve an even bigger mystery, known as 'dark energy', which is ruling the accelerated expansion of the Universe."
Surely this highly-technical and coldly abstract version of God/god is way-too impersonal and 'humanless' for the 'believers' among us. God needs to have a human face, human emotions, and, most importantly, preside as a punitive human judge- perhaps residing in the state of Texas.
Friday, October 23, 2009
The United Nations Human Rights Council approved the Goldstone Report, which accuses the Jewish state of war crimes against Palestinians. The Goldstone Report also accuses Palestinian militants of war crimes during the Gaza conflict of nearly a year ago. The resolution by the Human Rights Council endorses the Goldstone Report's recommendations that both the Israelis and Palestinian militants show the U.N. Security Council they are investigating the war crimes accusations.
Israel has rejected the report as one-sided and biased and says the Gaza war was a legitimate act of self defense in response to years of Palestinian rocket attacks. Israeli officials say opening a war crimes investigation would be tantamount to accepting guilt.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has ordered officials to prepare for a long diplomatic, legal and public relations battle explaining Israel's right to defend itself against terrorism. As Mr. Netanyahu put it, "We will delegitimize those who try to delegitimize us."
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Bill Moyer's Journal this evening featured Judge Richard Goldstone, author of the 'disputed' report. Judge Richard Goldstone served as the chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. He also investigated the South African apartheid system and was a member of the International Panel of the Commission of Enquiry into the Activities of Nazism in Argentina. More recently he was appointed by Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to the Independent Inquiry Committee, chaired by Paul Volcker, to investigate the Iraq Oil for Food program.
Goldstone's credentials are outstanding. His life has been endangered by those who do not wish the light of his investigation to uncover their dirty deeds; he is the ultimate muckraker. He has received countless death threats, especially while investigating white supremacy in South Africa, his native country.
It will be difficult for the United States to defend Israel from these charges, yet that is exactly what Israel is hoping that the United States will do. Israel has begun a smear campaign against Goldstone, attempting to 'kill the messenger.' The Obama Administration is placed in a tight spot especially because our nation has historically defended nearly every action that Israel has taken. Israel hopes that the US will veto a UN proposal that Israel set up a credible investigation of its own on this subject.
I would imagine that many Americans will be sympathetic to Israel and hope that Obama will order such a veto. Yet, it is amazing to realize that Judge Goldstone is himself a Jew and a Zionist, which he admitted to Bill Moyers. Many Israelis have branded him a 'traitor.' Clearly, his reputation for fairness and impartiality along with his previous courageous work in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Argentina, and South Africa will make it difficult to charge Goldstone with incompetence.
Knee-jerk 'support' for Israel here in the US may this time be somewhat muted if those supporters open their eyes to the credibility of Judge Goldstone.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Incompetence, is there a stronger word? Stupidity mixed with arrogance, perhaps. Who do they hire at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles anyway? Is there a competency test or is it the good old boy system? I think of my 5 grandchildren in the Ohio school system who must pass proficiency tests to move along, yet these adults at the BMV display no hint that they passed a competency test themselves.
Chief Simon Pokagon of the Pottawatomie is honored
Interestingly, we were not alone at the Inn. There was a large church conference going on [wasn't I lucky!] whose attendees enjoyed walking along the beach and sitting outside soaking in the warm rays of the October day. In fact, some did not leave for the 'afternoon talk,' choosing to find God outside in this beautiful fall day. I'm quite sure that black check marks were not earned for these unorthodox members, as they were from mainline Christian churches.
The quaint town of Angola brings back memories from the past, especially its curious roundabout in the center of town. Today the roundabout is the new trend for intersections, but Angola had one back in the 50's if not earlier. I have a most curious boyhood memory of seeing pneumatic tubes zipping money from one end of the store to another there in downtown Angola. I don't remember which store but surely the tubes have long disappeared. Perhaps the store as well.
Pokagon Park has a toboggan run that was also constructed by the CCC; today, it is updated and electrically cooled to extend the season. Going down was much more fun than dragging the heavy toboggan back up to the beginning.
The cabins are still available for those wishing to stay in more 'privative' surroundings. Many have been restored but this one looks like the one our family used those many summers ago. We would alternate between the lodge and the inn.
The buffalo, moose and deer no longer are penned up for wide-eyed children to examine, yet the Nature Center still offers children exciting 'adventures' deep into the woods or along the shoreline. I wonder if a child can still earn a badge for participating in one of the nature adventures.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
"It's the second planet outside our solar system in which water, methane and carbon dioxide have been found, which are potentially important for biological processes in habitable planets," said researcher Mark Swain of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Detecting organic compounds in two exoplanets now raises the possibility that it will become commonplace to find planets with molecules that may be tied to life."
I often find a bag of dog shit on my doorstep each morning when I turn on my computer. Those who follow this blog regularly know what I am talking about. There was one this morning. Why 'they' send me one so frequently remains a mystery- I never open it. All of their creative bitterness goes directly to the recycle bin without seeing the light of day. Such a waste of talent and time! But then, who would want to look into a bag of poop on the porch anyway?
It's all too funny. Imagine- what 'church' would want to open its doors to women and those abominable gays! Jesus would weep and demand the same thing, as he often showed during his life. Yes, Jesus is happy with the way things are, the way his church has closed its doors to certain people throughout the years. Surely he supports and encourages that type of bigotry within his church.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
My wife and I spent two hours this evening making phone calls to the citizens of Ohio, urging them to call Republican Senator Voinovich, urging him to vote for health care reform. The gathering reminded me of the days we spent prior to the election; in fact, we were with many of the same people who worked for Obama. Tonight's event served as a great homecoming.
receiving the corporeal punishment of
spanking in Mississippi which gives it
bragging rights as a State with most
spankings. Spanking is generally in
areas away from the capitol of Jackson.
Jackson public schools reported no spankings
for 2008. My county reported 742 spankings,
but none in the largest city, Pearl.
There are 152 school districts in the State,
and spanking occurred in 110 districts.
As we might imagine, the research shows that
spankings take place in the more rural
parts of MS, especially in the poverty and
minority areas with white administrators.
Those who support spanking say that it is a
way to get a student's attention, that it
is an immediate consequence, it's embarrassing,
and it's the biblical way. On the otherhand,
those in opposition say that spanking is not
a scientific based process as there is no
study that shows physical punishment is effective.
In Mississippi a spanking, usually three whacks,
must be witnessed by an adult of a different
race. There is parental notification.
There is no doubt that there has to be order in
a public school. It would be nice if it was possible
to have a situation where students, teachers and
principals recognized and respected one another.
However, there are many disruptive kids, and the
school must be able to have a system of discipline.
And, the definition of disruptive runs the spectrum.
Moreover, there are many physical and mental
disabilities which impact the behavior of our
children. Many of these do not improve with a form
of corporeal punishment. What is a public school
You would think so, but the fact is that the country is in a major recession, and the corporations have manipulated a massive down sizing of their work force. To be sure, people do retire and die, but that is a hell of a way to hope for a job with his credentials. It is my opinion that we are in false recovery. In just one example, lets remember what happened when oil hit $100 a couple of years ago. Even if a person in the corporation dies or retires, he/she is not being replaced. Unfortunately, there are few jobs available for experienced workers or for new hires from the graduation of our college seniors.
"Rather, he's going to join the Peace Corps after graduation."
Maybe this is the correct direction for him to go, as it is an out when recession is high. Graduate school and public volunteering have always been alternatives to be productive in a dismal economy. Moreover, in this period of globalization the Peace Corps presents a great learning environment for a young grad who, despite his ability, is still immature. In addition, he will probably learn to read, write, and to speak fluently a foreign language. This will be important when he finishes his service and joins a corporation or a public government enterprise.
However, philosophically, it seems to me a person should chose to be in-service to our own national territory, not the land of a foreign country. We need the "best and the brightest" at work right here in the United States. We must stop exporting our corporations, our jobs, and our brains to other countries. I know that you realize that there are places in the United States that are third world. We need to have people like this student to come and work in these areas. Let's look at Obama's experience. What did he do with a top of the class law degree from Harvard? While he could have joined a major law firm, he went to Chicago and worked the streets and helped United States citizens to organize and improve their position. Sure, he could have joined the Peace Corps, but he didn't. Send that young man down here to Mississippi and the still ravaged Gulf Coast from Katrina or go into destroyed New Orleans. Obama was just in NO for a couple of hours and bobbled the entire visit. It's being compared to the "Bush fly over." In these areas of Katrina, MS, LA, and AL, its as if a nuclear device was detonated. Sure the roads have been repaired(well the interstate), the casinos have been rebuilt, and the NO SuperDome has been repaired and open for NFL games. Do you realize that there is no full functioning hospital yet operating in NO? Many medical professinals from specialists to family doctors, to radiologists, surgical nurses, critical care nurses rns, lpns, cnas, secretaries, receptionists, maintainance, and all support services are lacking. Now, why is this? Poverty and Racism in a nutshell. Let young men and women come to NO and be in-service to their own citizens.Do you realize that whole towns on the Alabama and Mississippi Gulf Coasts were wiped out. Where there was once a town with schools, churches, businesses, support systems, its all gone, only the foundations are remaining. So, you might ask, where did all the money go? Do I need to say more than these three states have Republican Governors and legislatures? Most of the money has gone to the bureaucracy, to corporations, the casinos, and the support services for those industries such as major transportation. The Governor of Mississippi, our friend Haley Barbour, has appropriated the lion share of the money to rebuild the shipbuilding industry, Ingalls, to build a new export-import trade port, and a cruise ship port. The rationale? Barbour justifies using the money, and Bush agreed, for these purposes as a way to provide for future jobs. In the meantime, human misery continues.
Don't we have a responisibility to take care of our own first? Another example, what do you suppose happened to all the nursing homes residents in Katrina's path? It's suffering that we usually don't think about, yet the needs are immense. Where is the volunteer in America? Tilting at windmills in some foreign global village? Can't we be do-gooders to our own citizens? Do these young men want to speak out against poverty, injustice, and racism? Let them stay home in the United States and provide their exceptionalism to their own citizens. Maybe you can bring this alternative to the young man that you have written about. Hasn't Obama shown the way?
Monday, October 19, 2009
he result, The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb($24.95, W.W. Norton), out today, is a beautifully drawn and relentlessly faithful rendition of the first 50 chapters of the Bible by an apostle of the 1960s and sometimes profane progenitor of underground comics.
Crumb has produced what could be the ultimate graphic novel — using the Bible's sacred text to retell the stories of Creation and Noah's flood along with Sodom and Gomorrah, the family saga of Abraham and the collaboration of Joseph and Pharaoh.
Its 224 pages are sensual and violent, unblinking when it comes to incest and lust, and at times, like the Bible itself, mystifying. "Nothing left out!" shouts a cover blurb.
My wife and I spent a bright, chilly Sunday afternoon at a Health Care booth at a local fall festival. We had information on the health care plans that are running through Congress, bumper stickers, and petitions to sign for passers-by. Soon after the parade passed by, a smooth-looking gentleman and his wife and well-scrubbed children approached our booth. My intuition lit a bulb in my brain which proved to be accurate.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
If you live too far from the Creationist Museum in Kentucky, there's another one in New York. The Lost World Museum in Phoenix, New York has just added a 'glorious' exhibit to its collection- the Chupacabra. The what? The Chupacabra is the vampiric "goat sucker" of Hispanic folklore! Or a hoax.
Death-row foes are complaining that a Texas jury ordered to consider only evidence presented in court consulted the Old Testament before condemning a man to death. Jurors examined highlighted passages in Bibles passed around the jury room to help them decide the fate of Khristian Oliver. The con killed a man by shooting him in the face and beating him with a rifle. One of the passages stated that a person who smites somebody with iron "shall surely be put to death."
The use of the Bible made the trial a "travesty," charged an Amnesty International official. "Religious texts provide consolation and spiritual guidance for billions of people the world over, but this use of the Bible to decide life or death in a capital trial is deeply, deeply troubling," she told the Telegraph. The Supreme Court has refused to hear Oliver's appeal and he is due to be executed early next month.This is even worse that the usual Texas Justice we hear about. Usually it's simply that letter-of-the-law, excessively harsh, vigilante justice, you know that one that says, "Let's give 'em a fair trial and then take 'em out and hang 'em." But this is something else again.
Here's a Guardian article with more details about the case.
What's your opinion? Even for Christian jurors, is this kind of thing acceptable? Isn't this the very thing jurors are screened for before being admitted to participate in the trial?
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.