Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Musical Interlude: Constance Demby, "Ocean Without Shores"

 Constance Demby, "Ocean Without Shores" 

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Ten thousand years ago, before the dawn of recorded human history, a new light would have suddenly have appeared in the night sky and faded after a few weeks. Today we know this light was from a supernova, or exploding star, and record the expanding debris cloud as the Veil Nebula, a supernova remnant. This sharp telescopic view is centered on a western segment of the Veil Nebula cataloged as NGC 6960 but less formally known as the Witch's Broom Nebula. Blasted out in the cataclysmic explosion, the interstellar shock wave plows through space sweeping up and exciting interstellar material. 
 
 Click image for larger size.
Imaged with narrow band filters, the glowing filaments are like long ripples in a sheet seen almost edge on, remarkably well separated into atomic hydrogen (red) and oxygen (blue-green) gas. The complete supernova remnant lies about 1400 light-years away towards the constellation Cygnus. This Witch's Broom actually spans about 35 light-years. The bright star in the frame is 52 Cygni, visible with the unaided eye from a dark location but unrelated to the ancient supernova remnant.”

"After A Time..."

“After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing,
after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.”

- Mr. Spock, “Star Trek”, "Amok Time"

Chet Raymo, “The Sadist Next Door”

 “The Sadist Next Door”
by Chet Raymo

“The current TLS (“Times Literary Supplement”) has an absorbing review of American Historian Joel Harrington's book on the manuscript diary of a 16th-century German executioner, Franz Schmidt of Nuremberg. Remarkably, Schmidt kept a full record of the criminals he executed, the crimes they perpetrated, and the gruesome ways they met their fate. It is a tale that would chill most 21st-century readers.

Hangings, beheadings, burnings at the stake, and breakings with the wheel. In the latter custom, a heavy cartwheel is dropped onto the person to be executed, who is tied down spreadeagled on the execution platform, starting with the feet and working the way up to the head. There are also less final punishments: floggings, finger-choppings, ear-choppings, brandings, and an ingenious catalog of tortures.

For Herr Schmidt, it was all in a day's work. He might as well have been a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker. He had a family to support, and he was good at his job. His neighboring townspeople attended the executions. It was good public entertainment.

Of course, there is nothing unique to the 16th century or Germany about any of this. Hideous tortures and executions have been part of human history from the beginning. Think of the Roman gladiatorial entertainments with their cheering crowds. Or the public stonings, beheadings and amputations still common in certain parts of the world today. It seems that only in the post-Enlightenment West do we look with disapprobation on Herr Schmidt's trade, ostensibly at least. We have the grisly torture chambers of the Gestapo and NKVD to remind us that Enlightenment values are fragile.

All of which raises the question: Is taking pleasure in the infliction of pain on others nature or nurture? Are we born with a good angel on one shoulder and a bad angel on the other? How do we explain the huge popularity of slasher movies and shoot-'em-up video games? Is there something of Herr Schmidt in all of us?”

The Daily "Near You?"

 Hulu Langat, Selangor, Malaysia. Thanks for stopping by.

"Never Alone..."

 "On this earth as beyond this earth you never are alone,
But are in constant company of things and beings
That take a share in your life as you take a share in theirs.
As you seek them, so they seek you.
As you partake of them, so they partake of you."

- Rumi, “The Book of Mirdad”

“Creationists Hit the Panic Button After Neil DeGrasse Tyson Demolishes Their Myth That the Universe Is 6,000 Years Old”

“Creationists Hit the Panic Button After Neil DeGrasse Tyson
 Demolishes Their Myth That the Universe Is 6,000 Years Old”
By Dan Arel 

"Creationists find evolution so offensive that this week they attacked Neil deGrasse Tyson and his show "Cosmos" over the claim that stars evolved and created life as we know it. In episode 8 titled, "Sisters of the Sun," Tyson highlighted the stellar evolution and explained in detail the life and death of stars.

Of course creationists take issue with stars that are scientifically proven to be billions of years old. The creationist website that's emerging as the leading opposition to Tyson and his show, Answers in Genesis (AiG), claimed: “We know from the Bible that God created the stars on Day Four of Creation Week about 6,000 years ago.”

Yet they do not know this, because there is zero evidence that any star we see in the sky is less than 6,000 years old, in fact for us to see almost any of the stars in the sky they would have to be hundreds of millions or billions of years old because of how far away they are (as explained in earlier episodes of "Cosmos" about what a light-year is.) 

The continued use of the universe's actual timescale, an estimated 14.8 billion years to now, is a thorn in the side of creationists who know anything older than 6,000 years brings their entire myth to its knees.

AiG even goes as far to deny the fact that stars are born at all: “Whether or not stars are still forming today, the Bible does not specify, but no one has ever seen a star form.” Yet we do not need to the Bible to know if stars are still being born. Astronomers at from a collection of Universities from the US to Germany have observed such phenomenon, a star being born 800 million light years away. This coupled the Hubble Space Telescope having located massive amounts of stellar nurseries and has helped us fully explain the birth of stars.

Not surprisingly AiG’s own Danny Faulkner, an astronomer by degree, but not in practice claims that if stars are being formed today that we do not need science to explain how because God has the ability to make such things happen on his own.

This kind of thinking is what stunts scientific growth in the US and around the world. Faulkner and those like him aren't looking for natural answers to the amazing universe we inhabit and simply credit anything and everything to God. When science does make a massive discovery that happens to through a wrench in their faith based beliefs, they simply reject the science.

Tyson really got under creationists' skin towards the end of the episode when he proclaimed: “The silicon in the rocks, the oxygen in the air, the carbon in our DNA, the iron in our skyscrapers, the silver in our jewelry—were all made in stars billions of years ago. Our planet, our society, and we ourselves are stardust.”

AiG claims the idea that stars created the chemicals for life is nothing but an invention my “big bang cosmologists,” or as the rest of the world calls them, scientists, who realized that they needed a way to explain how the atoms and chemicals needed for life on earth could not have been created during the big bang, in order to explain away God they had to invent the story that stars created these chemicals.

However they brush over all the scientific evidence that confirms the stars do in fact create the chemicals needed for life and the chemicals we find in all of life just happen to be found in all the stars. In fact, in this new episode and one previous, Tyson explains exactly how we know the composition of the stars, something that has been understood for many generations.

Uncomfortable truths cause creationists to make extraordinary claims, and like Carl Sagan said many years ago, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

AiG closes their argument against stellar evolution by claiming the naturalist explanation for life is tragic and shames Tyson and the writers of "Cosmos" for not glorifying God, who they claim is the creator of all things, and then refer back to what they call creation week, this is the same creation week that has light being created before the sun and stars.

Just like each week though, AiG treats us to a list of Bible versus and fail to ever provide a link to peer-reviewed journals that discredit the claims of Tyson and "Cosmos". Relying on Biblical scripture is no way to explain our universe and until creationists realize this they will continue to be offended week in and week out as Tyson explains with great eloquence the truth of our cosmos.”

"How It Really Is"

Satire: “Millionaires Unite To Defeat Minimum Wage”

“Millionaires Unite To Defeat Minimum Wage”
by Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)- "A broad-based coalition of millionaires converged on Washington today to defeat a bill that would have increased the minimum wage for American workers to $10.10 an hour. Leaving behind their mansions and yachts, the millionaires were motivated by what they saw as an existential threat to the country, Mitch McConnell, a spokesman for the millionaires, said.

“This was an extremely diverse coalition,” McConnell said, noting that everyone from the rich to the very rich to the super-rich united to vote down the bill. McConnell hoped that today’s vote would burnish the millionaires’ reputation as “people who get things done. Folks who have tried to pin a ‘do nothing’ label on us are dead wrong,” he said. “When it comes to stopping workers from being paid more, we spring into action.”

“17 Facts To Show To Anyone That Still Believes That The U.S. Economy Is Just Fine”

“17 Facts To Show To Anyone That Still Believes 
That The U.S. Economy Is Just Fine”
by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog

“No, the economy is most definitely not "recovering".  Despite what you may hear from the politicians and from the mainstream media (shrugging off today's terrible GDP print), the truth is that the U.S. economy is in far worse shape than it was prior to the last recession.  In fact, we are still pretty much where we were at when the last recession finally ended.  When the financial crisis of 2008 struck, it took us down to a much lower level economically.  Thankfully, things have at least stabilized at this much lower level.  For example, the percentage of working age Americans that are employed has stayed remarkably flat for the past four years.  We should be grateful that things have not continued to get even worse.  It is almost as if someone has hit the "pause button" on the U.S. economy.  But things are definitely not getting better, and there are a whole host of signs that this bubble of false stability will soon come to an end and that our economic decline will accelerate once again.  The following are 17 facts to show to anyone that believes that the U.S. economy is just fine...

#1 The homeownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in 19 years.

#2 Consumer spending for durable goods has dropped by 3.23 percent since November.  This is a clear sign that an economic slowdown is ahead.

#3 Major retailers are closing stores at the fastest pace that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

#4 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20 percent of all families in the United States do not have a single member that is employed.  That means that one out of every five families in the entire country is completely unemployed.

#5 There are 1.3 million fewer jobs in the U.S. economy than when the last recession began in December 2007.  Meanwhile, our population has continued to grow steadily since that time.

#6 According to a new report from the National Employment Law Project, the quality of the jobs that have been "created" since the end of the last recession does not match the quality of the jobs lost during the last recession...

Lower-wage industries constituted 22 percent of recession losses, but 44 percent of recovery growth.
Mid-wage industries constituted 37 percent of recession losses, but only 26 percent of recovery growth.
Higher-wage industries constituted 41 percent of recession losses, and 30 percent of recovery growth.

#7 After adjusting for inflation, men who work full-time in America today make less money than men who worked full-time in America 40 years ago.

#8 It is hard to believe, but 62 percent of all Americans make $20 or less an hour at this point.

#9 Nine of the top ten occupations in the U.S. pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year.

#10 The middle class in Canada now makes more money than the middle class in the United States does.

#11 According to one recent study, 40 percent of all Americans could not come up with $2000 right now even if there was a major emergency.

#12 Less than one out of every four Americans has enough money put away to cover six months of expenses if there was a job loss or major emergency.

#13 An astounding 56 percent of all Americans have subprime credit in 2014.

#14 As I wrote about the other day, there are now 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity.

#15 Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin.  But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.

#16 69 percent of the federal budget is spent either on entitlements or on welfare programs.

#17 The number of Americans receiving benefits from the federal government each month exceeds the number of full-time workers in the private sector by more than 60 million.

Taken individually, those numbers are quite remarkable. Taken collectively, they are absolutely breathtaking. Yes, things have been improving for the wealthy for the last several years.  The stock market has soared to new record highs and real estate prices in the Hamptons have skyrocketed to unprecedented heights. But that is not the real economy.  In the real economy, the middle class is being squeezed out of existence.  The quality of our jobs is declining and prices just keep rising.  This reality was reflected quite well in a comment that one of my readers left on one of my recent articles...

It is getting worse each passing month. The food bank I help out, has barely squeaked by the last 3 months. Donors are having to pull back, to take care of their own families. Wages down, prices up, simple math tells you we can not hold out much longer. Things are going up so fast, you have to adopt a new way of thinking. Example I just had to put new tires on my truck. Normally I would have tried to get by to next winter. But with the way prices are moving, I decide to get them while I could still afford them. It is the same way with food. I see nothing that will stop the upward trend for quite a while. So if you have a little money, and the space, buy it while you can afford it. And never forget, there will be some people worse off than you. Help them if you can.
And the false stock bubble that the wealthy are enjoying right now will not last that much longer.  It is an artificial bubble that has been pumped up by unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve, and like all bubbles that the Fed creates, it will eventually burst.

None of the long-term trends that are systematically destroying our economy have been addressed, and none of our major economic problems have been fixed.  In fact, as I showed in this recent article, we are actually in far worse shape than we were just prior to the last major financial crisis. Let us hope that this current bubble of false stability lasts for as long as possible. That is what I am hoping for. But let us not be deceived into thinking that it is permanent. It will soon burst, and then the real pain will begin.”

"What You NEED To Know About The Wealth Inequality Debate"

"What You NEED To Know About The Wealth Inequality Debate" 
by Bill Bonner

Gualfin, Argentina. “Dow up another 86 points. Can anything stop it? Yes. We're just waiting to find out what. We began this series with a question: Isn't it possible the same savants who now presume to address the problem of wealth inequality were those most responsible for causing it? 

The question arose as we discussed a publishing sensation: Thomas Piketty's “Capital in the Twenty-First Century.” As you will recall, the book – all 700 pages – was recently number one on the Amazon.com bestseller list. Whoever heard of an economics tome that sold so well? The reason, we suspect, is that the book tells us something that a lot of people were waiting to hear. 

Criminals, Chiselers and Con Artists: Piketty's gripe, as near as we can determine, is that the rich get richer – especially when economic growth rates are low. And that capitalism can lead to extreme wealth inequality. Economic growth rates have been trending downwards for the last 40 years or so. And the average annual wage, adjusted for inflation, has stagnated. But Piketty claims the average annual rate of return on capital (from profits, rents, dividends, interest, royalties, etc.) has remained robust. As a result, private capital has grown as a percentage of national income. And, the rich have gotten richer. Of course, there are many reasons for this – some innocent, others corrupt. 

We will not bother with the innocent ones. Criminals, chiselers and con artists are more revealing and entertaining. And just to make it more interesting, we will name names. In the 1970s – after President Nixon moved the world onto a purely fiat-based money system – the US economy was kissed by the magic of easy credit. 

Poof! It was transformed from a handsome prince... into a toad. It used to be an economy where people earned money by making things for people who could afford to buy them. It became an economy of people who lent money to people so they could buy things they didn't need with money they didn't have. 

Piketty thinks he is criticizing capitalism. But after the 1970s, real capital played a smaller and smaller role. It was replaced by credit and its sinister twin: debt. The r in Piketty's now famous annotation r > g (where r stands for the average annual rate of return on capital and g stands for the rate of economic growth) is supposed to represent the return on capital investment. 

But where did the wad come from? Savings rates went down. Real earnings went down. Growth rates went down. So how could there be more capital available and how could it produce higher rates of return (compared to economic growth)? 

Distortions and Delusions: The whole thing is a headache for a thoughtful man. Capital investments with no real capital behind them. Profits that outstrip the economic growth from which they must come. What to make of it? 

We don't dispute the basic fact: that the rich are getting richer. And that they are doing so by getting their hands on capital (something we believe is a damn good idea, especially for anyone hoping to build serious wealth). For years, we've been complaining about the distortions caused by central banks. Rewarding the asset-owning classes (the rich) is just one of them. You could add: creating market bubbles, depressing middle-class incomes, increasing debt levels, misallocating resources to worthless, wealth-destroying activities, allowing government to avoid serious budget control, financing monster houses coast to coast... and our own personal favorite – putting dorky economists in positions of immense power and status. 

And now we even have dorky economists with No. 1 bestselling books. What next? Revolution! At least, that is what you might think if you listen to Piketty. He thinks r will continue to outpace g. And the natives will get restless. The "market economy, if left to itself, contains powerful forces of convergence in the distribution of wealth," he explains. But "it also contains powerful forces of divergence, which are potentially threatening to democratic societies and to the values of social justice on which they are based." 

A State Based on Fraud: Once again, Piketty misunderstands the modern, democratic state. It is not based on real social justice. It is based on fraud. The masses are told they control the government. And although the masses busy themselves with reading the newspapers, arguing about Obamacare and voting, the elites profit from bailouts, zero-interest-rate policies, subsidies, tariffs, sweetheart loans – you name it. 

That is how the rich really got so rich... with the eager connivance of the authorities. And now Piketty concludes that the forces of "divergence" (of wealth) are likely to be much more powerful in the 21st century and that someone needs to do something about it. Who? The same authorities who distracted the public while the elites picked their pockets! 

Until 1968, the Fed was required to maintain 25 cents worth of gold for every dollar in circulation. Then in 1968, under President Johnson, that requirement was scrapped. Thenceforth, there was no limit to the amount of cash and credit in the system. 

In 1971, under President Nixon, the US reneged on its commitment to pay off foreign-held debt in gold. Now, there was no limit to the amount of debt Americans could run up abroad. Instead of paying their bills in gold, they could just pay in dollars, which are essentially more debt instruments (although with zero maturity). 

In 1987... and again in 2000... Alan Greenspan showed that the Fed would not permit a serious correction. When a credit contraction threatened, the Fed came up with more credit on easier terms. 

By 2007, under the leadership of Ben Bernanke, the Fed was fully committed to credit expansion forever. Milton Friedman had convinced Bernanke that the Great Depression was caused by a shrinking supply of money and credit. Bernanke saluted Friedman with: "We won't do it again." Thanks to these numbskulls – and many others – real capital disappeared from the capitalist system. It was replaced by what Sisson called "a fictitious money" causing a "monstrous aberration." 

That is what we live with today. It was caused by the feds. They will continue making it worse... until the whole dreadful system blows up.”

Musical Interlude: Vangelis, “Hymn”

Vangelis, “Hymn”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Grand spiral galaxies often seem to get all the glory. Their young, blue star clusters and pink star forming regions along sweeping spiral arms are guaranteed to attract attention. But small irregular galaxies form stars too, like NGC 4449, about 12 million light-years distant. Less than 20,000 light-years across, the small island universe is similar in size, and often compared to our Milky Way's satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). 
 Click image for larger size.
This remarkable Hubble Space Telescope close-up of the well-studied galaxy was reprocessed to highlight the telltale reddish glow of hydrogen gas. The glow traces NGC 4449's widespread star forming regions, some even larger than those in the LMC, with enormous interstellar arcs and bubbles blown by short-lived, massive stars. NGC 4449 is a member of a group of galaxies found in the constellation Canes Venatici. Interactions with the nearby galaxies are thought to have influenced star formation in NGC 4449.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

Langston Hughes,"Dreams"

"Dreams"

"Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow."

- Langston Hughes

"When You Were Born..."

"When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.
Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice."
- Cherokee Expression

Paulo Coelho, “Dreams and Obsessions”

“Dreams and Obsessions”
by Paulo Coelho

“Your theory about every person could reach everything in life is really optimistic. But if the person tried once and was despaired and disappointed what is he going to do?” - Antoine Rigal, Lyon, France

“There is sometimes a bit of confusion in regards to a passage in my book "The Alchemist": “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Some people sometimes want things that in the end won’t truly help them. Life is strange: the happier people can be, the unhappier they are. I have some friends that think they exist because they have “problems” to solve. Without “problems” they are nobody. The Universe is merely an echo of our desires, regardless of whether they are constructive or destructive ones.

One has to also keep in mind the difference between a dream and an obsession. I mention personal legend in "The Alchemist", and I wrote a book about obsession, "The Zahir". When you follow your personal legend, you walk your path and learn from it. The objective doesn’t blind you to the road that takes you there. On the other hand obsession is what prevents you from admiring the teachings of life. It’s like trying to get to your objective without passing through the challenges.

I realized that despite the fear and the bruises of life, one has to keep on fighting for one’s dream. As Borges said in his writings “there is no other virtue than being brave”. And one has to understand that being brave is not the absence of fear but rather the strength to keep on going forward despite the fear.”

"Life..."

"Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. 
The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. 
Being alive is the meaning."
 - Joseph Campbell

Chet Raymo, “Seeking Order In The Natural Order”

“Seeking Order In The Natural Order”
by Chet Raymo

“It is a popular misconception that evolution is “just a theory.” On the contrary, the evidence for the development of life over billions of years by common descent from simple ancestors is overwhelming. So overwhelming that most biologists and geologists would call evolution a “fact.”

The influential geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky said “Nothing makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Nobel prize-winning biologist Peter Medewar said, “The alternative to thinking in evolutionary terms is not to think at all.” What these two great biologists meant is that no other scientific theory presently offers a satisfactory framework for making sense of what we know about the world.

Here are some things that virtually all biologists hold to be true:
• Life has developed on this planet over billions of years.
• All living organisms share common ancestors.
• Species come and go.
• Natural selection, as understood by Darwin and subsequently extended by Mendel, Weismann and population geneticists such as Dobzhansky, helps shape the tree of life.

Beyond that, the story of life is up for grabs—and hotly debated by biologists. One important bone of contention: Is natural selection acting alone enough to explain the diversity and complexity of life on Earth? Many biologists would say yes. However, a growing number of biologists question the exclusivity of natural selection as the driving force of evolution. Also at work, they maintain, are sources of natural order that exist in any complex, organized system.

One scientist who advances this view is Stuart Kauffman of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. He has written a hefty, highly technical book called “The Origins of Order” to answer the question, “What are the sources of the overwhelming and beautiful order which graces the living world?” Kauffman sets out to show that sources of self-organization exist throughout the natural world: The six-pointed snowflake and spherical drop of rain are simple examples. In highly organized systems, such as biological organisms, these natural sources of order drive nature towards ever more complex forms.

“None can doubt Darwin’s main idea,” Kauffman writes. “If we are to consider the implications of spontaneous order, we must certainly do so in the context of natural selection, since biology without it is unthinkable.”

But Darwin is not enough, he insists. Life has not been cobbled together by natural selection acting on random mutations, says Kauffman. We are not Rube Goldberg machines slapped together piece by piece by evolution. Rather, life is “a natural expression of the stunning self-organization that abounds in very complex regulatory networks . . . order, vast and generative, arises naturally.”

In other words, we are more than the sum of our chemical parts. Life is an emergent phenomenon that arose when chemical systems on the early Earth increased beyond a “threshold of complexity.” The subsequent history of life unfolds at least partly as a consequence of complexity.

Kauffman and his colleagues use powerful computers to explore how complex interconnected systems behave. They have demonstrated how complex systems of simple elements can catalyze their own self-organization. These computer simulations show intriguing parallels with the real-world history of life.

Kauffman thinks laws of self-organization lie at the heart of nature. If we can discover these laws, he says, we will understand how our bodies developed from a single fertilized egg, and how our species emerged over billions of years from prebiotic chemicals. He is a long way from finding the laws he is looking for, but the results achieved so far hint at a direction-ality and inevitability to evolution that may not be fully accounted for by Darwinian natural selection.

Anyone who enjoys watching a brilliant mind at work/play should glance at Kauffman’s “The Origins of Order,” or read his popular book on the same subject, called “At Home in the Universe.” One catches a glimpse of the power of the mathematical way of thinking, and also of a necessary humility in the face of life’s greatest mysteries.

He writes: “Almost 140 years after Darwin’s seminal book, we do not understand the powers and limitations of natural selection, we do not know what kinds of complex systems can be assembled by an evolutionary process, and we do not even begin to understand how selection and self-organization work together to create the splendor of a summer afternoon in an Alpine meadow flooded with flowers, insects, worms, soil, other animals, and humans, making our worlds together.”

Kauffman is not stingy with words like “possibility,” “maybe,” “I do not know.” He knows we have only begun to understand our origins. He talks about “reinventing the sacred.” He offers a vision of creation worthy of the most resourceful Creator.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Satire: “Sterling Says He’ll Miss Being Around People He Hates”

“Sterling Says He’ll Miss Being Around People He Hates”
by Andy Borowitz

LOS ANGELES (The Borowitz Report) — “After being banned by the N.B.A. Tuesday afternoon, the Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling told reporters that he would miss being around people he hates. “Sure, I’m saddened by this,” Sterling said. “Sitting in the stands night after night, a boiling cauldron of hatred bubbling inside me—it doesn’t get better than that. Those were good times.Knowing that I’ll never be able to sit in that arena again and look down on the people I despise—that hurts the most,” he said.

Looking back on his three-decade tenure with the Clippers, though, Sterling said he felt some measure of satisfaction: “No one hated more people than I did, and the feeling was mutual.”

NOT Safe For Work Or Near Children!
"Snoop Dogg's Response To Clippers Owner Donald Sterling"

Even I don't dare post this here, lol... - CP

"How It Really Is"


“Fukushima Equals 6,000 Hiroshima Bombs Today, More Tomorrow; There is No Place On Earth to Escape the Rad”

“Fukushima Equals 6,000 Hiroshima Bombs Today, More Tomorrow;
There is No Place On Earth to Escape the Rad” 
by Bob Nichols, “Veterans Today”

“My opinion only, as requested by Alfred Webre, Dec 28, 2013, 1,024 Days from Mar 11, 2011.

First thing, grasp the difficult concept that this is an ELE or Extinction Level Event. There is no escaping our fate, there are no solutions. 

We can extend our lives somewhat, though. These steps are personal. People can do them or not. You will die quicker, or later, your choice.
1. Take off your shoes and outer ware (coats) when you enter your place.
2. Stay under a protective Roof as much as possible.
3. Filter your water. 
Bonus: Eat foods as low on the food chain as possible that are thought to be less radioactive and eat electrically negatively charged foods each day.

Several people who have heard about Fukushima since the early days are puzzled that so many are “still alive”. Others, in addition to the psychopaths who apparently believe themselves to be immune from radiation poisoning, are those of the EXTEND AND PRETEND strongholds of delusions and galactic thought, along with the ‘end of times’ crowd expecting clouds to part and higher beings to ride in and ‘save us’.” You are going to have to make your own choices. You will live a little longer, or, die sooner by these choices, as will I. No one is exempt. The radioactive particles are all over the world now.

What’s next?  Friends, virtual and non-virtually, have said and asked things like: 

Question: In basic math terms, in comparison to Hiroshima, how much worse is Fukushima and why?”
Answer: Fukushima, now, equals the detonation of 5,910.11 Hiroshima Atomic Bombs or it’s about 6,000 Times worse than the A-Bombing of Japan; and, it is still going strong, with no end in sight. That is equal to 6.45 Hiroshima Atomic Bombs a Day for 916 Days. There are only 336 cities on Earth with more than One Million people. That is the equivalent of 17.5 Hiroshima Atomic Bombs apiece.

Question: In basic math terms, in comparison to Nagasaki, how much worse is Fukushima and why?
Answer: The Nagasaki Bomb was slightly larger; therefore Fukushima equals slightly fewer Nagasaki  Bombs. However, at this point, it makes no difference.

Question:  In basic math terms, in comparison to Chernobyl, how much worse is Fukushima and why?
Answer: At 916 days of growth Fukushima is 14.75 Times bigger than the Chernobyl atomic disaster in 1986. The International Atomic Agency (IAEA) stated: “The accident at Chernobyl was approximately 400 times more potent than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima…” Fukushima so far is 14.75 Times worse than Chernobyl and growing.

Question: In basic non-scientific language, what causes this to be an ELE, Extinction Level Event, and is there any shot at it being reversible?
Answer: Throughout the time humans lived on Earth, humanity has never experienced radiation this high. The radiation and its associated Lethality is very high and will kill everybody. The Radiation’s Lethality will last well past the end of every one’s lifetime. No, there is no shot at reversing the effects and every human on Earth is included.

Question: How long before we are tripping and stumbling over dead-dying bodies?
Answer: In a sense we already are. Human fetuses are the first to die and are typically cremated at the hospital. We just don’t see them. Women, children, already sick people and the elderly infirm are next. Middle aged men are last.

Question: Anything you recommend to lengthen ‘shortened-life spans’?
Answer: No.

Question: Any resources you would direct interested people to?
Answer: No.

Question:  What other questions must be asked when confronted with an Extinction Level Event, and why have any hope whatsoever?”
Answer: Ask what is the published lethality of all of the released isotopes and do not let the Empire paid trolls fool you by using radioactivity numbers; it is the LETHALITY that counts. When you find the numbers for the two Cesium Twins multiply by 14 for the total radiation in a single release from an active reactor core. Multiply the combined Cesium137/134 radioactivity numbers by 5 for the total radioactivity in a single release for old fuel rods. Those will give you a rough idea of the radiation released for that instance. As for “hope,” that is fine, knock yourself out."
Sources and Notes:
1. AIPRI, Thursday, September 5, 2013, “The Bitter Waters of Fukushima Daiichi, by Dr Paolo Scampa, Physicist. AIPI was founded in 1993. The bitter waters of Fukushima-Daiichi. (II)
This is a simple theoretical calculation based on two public data sets 1) 300 m3  groundwater have passed through the Fukushima to leak at sea every day for two and a half years, the other, 2) according to information provided by Kurion that water from the plant is loaded with Cs-137  up to 2 million Bq per milliliter. The product of these two factors gives chills…” http://aipri.blogspot.com/  
2. “Frequently Asked Chernobyl Questions,” Copyright©, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna International Centre, “The accident at Chernobyl was approximately 400 times more potent than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima,” http://www.iaea.org/

"Fukushima Didn’t Just Suffer 3 Meltdowns, It Also Suffered Melt-THROUGHS and Melt-OUTS"

"Fukushima Didn’t Just Suffer 3 Meltdowns, 
It Also Suffered Melt-THROUGHS and Melt-OUTS"
The Nuclear Core Has Finally Been Found…Scattered All Over Japan
by WashingtonsBlog

"We reported in May 2011 that authorities knew – within days or weeks – that all 3 active Fukushima nuclear reactors had melted down, but covered up that fact for months.

The next month, we reported that Fukushima’s reactors had actually suffered something much worse: nuclear melt-throughs, where the nuclear fuel melted through the containment vessels and into the ground. At the time, this was described as: "The worst possibility in a nuclear accident." But now, it turns out that some of the Fukushima reactors have suffered even a more extreme type of damage: melt-OUTS. By way of background, we’ve noted periodically that scientists have no idea where the cores of the nuclear reactors are.

And that highly radioactive black “dirt” has been found all over Japan? It turns out that the highly radioactive black substances are likely remnants of the core. The Journals "Environmental Science & Technology" and "Journal of Environmental Radioactivity" both found (hat tip EneNews) that the highly radioactive black substances match fuel from the core of the Fukushima reactors. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission agrees.

Indeed, “hot particles” with extremely high levels of radiation – 7 billion, 40 billion , and even 40 billion billion Bq/kg – have been found all over the Fukushima region, and hundreds of miles away, in Tokyo.

Let’s put this in perspective. The Atlantic notes: "Japanese regulations required nuclear waste with 100 or more bq/kg of Cesium to be monitored and disposed of in specialized containers." The new government limit for material headed for landfills is 8000 bq/kg, 80 times the pre-Fukushima limit.

So the hottest hot particle found so far is 5 million billion times greater than the current government limits of what can be put in a landfill. In other words, the core of at least one of the Fukushima reactors has finally been found, scattered all over Japan. How did material from the cores get dispersed so far? Remember, there was a huge explosion at reactor number 1, and an even bigger explosion at reactor number 3."
A comment: They've intentionally lied all along about this, folks, in every way. Do you realize what this really is? There are 3 totally melted-through reactor cores that have burrowed into the earth and have impacted ground water from the Pacific Ocean, each "burning" at 5,700 degrees F, and will do so for thousands of years, spewing radioactivity into the ocean and atmosphere. Add the over 300 tons per day of water being used to flush/cool what's left of the reactors, and which then drains, highly radioactive, into the ocean. One study claims that the entire Pacific Ocean, every cubic foot, will have 120 times the normal background radiation. Life as we know it cannot survive that degree of radiation. Of course the winds and ocean currents will carry this poison to the entire planet. Additionally, a total of over 11,000 highly radioactive spent fuel rods are on the site, subject to earthquakes which will add them to the molten cores below ground. This is an extinction level event for mankind, Doomsday in slow motion. There is no known technology to deal with this situation- the only solution at the time this began was to nuke the site, wipe it out completely. We, humanity, would have taken a tremendous hit but survived. Of course that didn't happen, and it's too late now. This isn't melodrama, it's my own conclusion based on all I've learned, and I wish desperately to be proven wrong. Please, don't believe me, research it for yourself and form your own conclusions. Do a Search of this blog, there are many posts about Fukushima here. God forgive us for what we've done, to ourselves, and to this beautiful world... - CP

The Economy: “Is Capitalism Doomed?”

“Is Capitalism Doomed?”
by Bill Bonner

Gualfin, Argentina. “The Dow went up 87 points yesterday. Gold went nowhere. Our guess: Neither stocks nor gold knows where to go from here. The economy is still weak, with mortgage lending at its lowest point in 14 years. But the Fed is still holding interest rates down... and feeding plenty of QE money into the market. The Fed is expected to continue tapering its QE program next month, taking another $10 billion off its monthly allowance for buying bonds from the private sector. But for the moment, economist Richard Duncan tells us that there's still enough "excess liquidity" to keep stocks up. Later this year, Duncan says, the trouble should start. Stay tuned...

A Crisis of Capitalism? On Sunday, we became godparents to a six-month-old girl. A cute little girl, with dark skin, dark eyes, dark hair... and chubby cheeks. Her mother, as near as we can tell, is a descendant of the local Diaguita tribe. The history books tell us that the Spanish tried to exterminate them... but they seem to have failed. Up here, according to local tradition, landowners are often asked to be godparents to children born on their farms. Who could refuse? We're not sure what to make of this new and totally unexpected responsibility. But heck, you take things as they come... and do your best. 

Meanwhile, we're dissing a book we haven't read. Paul Krugman calls Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" a blockbuster. We can't wait to get our hands on a copy, just to see if Piketty is really the blockhead he seems to be. 

Yesterday, we pointed out that real capitalism is self-correcting. Piketty is worried that capitalists are making too much money. The returns from investing, he says, are outstripping the rewards to working stiffs. Piketty expresses this as r > g – where r stands for the average annual rate of return on capital (including profits, dividends, interest, rents, royalties and other forms of income from capital) and g stands for the rate of growth of the economy. 

He really shouldn't worry about it. When rates of return are high, investors pile in. Then, with too much money chasing too few good investments, the rate of return – r – falls. Often, investment returns fall so hard investors cry out in pain. But that is just the way it works. You can't enjoy the pleasure of profits without the pain of losses from time to time. 

Thomas Piketty doesn't seem like a big fan of capitalism. But then who is? "I guess you're having your crisis of capitalism in the US," said the woman who runs a nearby welfare program. She rode up on a motorcycle (a two-hour drive) so she could help the locals improve their lives. Dressed in khakis, she is the sort of woman you could be marooned with on a desert island and not break your marriage vows. A round face... a round body... she nevertheless seemed to have a sharp edge. "I hope you Americans are holding up okay," she said with the cheerfulness of a vegetarian in an abattoir. 

For her, capitalism is a doomed creed. It is just a matter of time before it is replaced by well-meaning, correct-thinking vegetarians who make sure the chips fall where they want, not where they may. We figured her out when we visited her headquarters and found a picture of Che Guevara on the wall. She is no fan of capitalism either. 

No Strangers to the Baseball Bat: But she is not alone. Capitalism has so few real aficionados they could all probably be rounded up and shot in an afternoon. The poor don't like it because they think it – rather than their own bad luck or bad habits – keeps them from getting rich. The rich don't like it because it threatens to ruin them with crashes and bankruptcies. Businessmen don't like it because its process of "creative destruction" threatens to make their industries obsolete. Intellectuals don't like it because it is inherently unpredictable and uncontrollable. The media doesn't like it because it gives no press conferences and provides no "talking points" for lazy journalists. Investors don't like it because it punishes their mistakes. And of course, professors of economics hate it more than anyone. Why? Because it refutes their claptrap ideas about how an economy works. 

And so they all – rich, poor, mighty and miserable – turn to the government for succor. Why the government? Because it is the only institution that can lawfully stop capitalists from creating wealth. 

Piketty's observation – that the richest have gotten much richer over the last three decades – is not wrong. It's too bad that he can't think more deeply about how it happens. He believes when wealth is concentrated in few hands there follows a phenomenon he calls "state capture." Rich people are able to get control of the government and use it like a mafioso with a baseball bat: to whack their challengers and skim the profits. 

But the state is no chaste and innocent participant. It is not "captured" at all. Those with control of the police and the military are no strangers to the baseball bat; they use it regularly. In fact, they often take the rich hostage and demand as much ransom (taxes... bribes... campaign contributions... payoffs to special interests) as they can get from them. 

More often, they simply connive and conspire with any group that can help them – rich and poor, labor unions, business groups, lobbyists and so forth – always subverting capitalism and undermining the public welfare. 

Sugar Daddies: Our old friend Jim Davidson tells the story of the "sugar daddies" who have gotten billions of dollars in direct and indirect subsidies over the years. They learned their trade – bribing politicians – in Cuba before Castro took over. In the 1960s, they brought their techniques to the US. They managed to get much of the state of Florida drained at taxpayer expense, so they could plant cane and sell sugar at artificially high prices. You have to admire "Pepe" and "Alfy" Fanjul; they know how the game is played. Alfy is so well connected, according to the Lewinsky affair report, that he had President Clinton's ear when Monica had another of the president's parts. 

Crony capitalism is just a part of the way the economy is twisted and corrupted. Health care, finance and education – the biggest industries in America – have been largely captured by Washington (or vice versa). 

You might say, too, that the feds acted after the crash of 2008-09 to protect the wealthy. Without their intervention the problem of inequality wouldn't exist; as much as half of their stock market wealth would have been wiped out... and probably would have stayed wiped out. The feds might just as well have wished to spread the wealth among more voters. But the goal was not so much to make the rich richer. Instead, the feds just wanted to keep capitalism from doing its thing. Stephen Roach explains: "The Fed's strategy [has been] to get the share markets up, get risky assets up, [and] stimulate the economy through "wealth effects." One problem: "wealth effects" are for wealthy people. What about the real problem in America, which is middle-class, structurally unemployed, workers and their families? Are they benefiting from the "wealth effect"?"

They're not? Well, then rant about inequality... and crony capitalism. Write a bestseller. And find more ways to stop real capitalism from taking place."

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Daily "Near You?"

High Shoals, N. Carolina, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Big, beautiful, barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300 lies some 70 million light-years away on the banks of the constellation Eridanus. This Hubble Space Telescope composite view of the gorgeous island universe is one of the largest Hubble images ever made of a complete galaxy. NGC 1300 spans over 100,000 light-years and the Hubble image reveals striking details of the galaxy's dominant central bar and majestic spiral arms. 
Click image for larger size.
In fact, on close inspection the nucleus of this classic barred spiral itself shows a remarkable region of spiral structure about 3,000 light-years across. Unlike other spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way, NGC 1300 is not presently known to have a massive central black hole.”