Archive for January, 2017
27 Jan 2017

Harvard Guys Make Metallic Hydrogen

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The Independent reports:

For nearly 100 years, scientists have dreamed of turning the lightest of all the elements, hydrogen, into a metal.

Now, in a stunning act of modern-day alchemy, scientists at Harvard University have finally succeeded in creating a tiny amount of what is the rarest, and possibly most valuable, material on the planet, they reported in the journal Science.

For metallic hydrogen could theoretically revolutionise technology, enabling the creation of super-fast computers, high-speed levitating trains and ultra-efficient vehicles and dramatically improving almost anything involving electricity.

And it could also allow humanity to explore outer space as never before.

But the prospect of this bright future could be at risk if the scientists’ next step – to establish whether the metal is stable at normal pressures and temperatures – fails to go as hoped.

Professor Isaac Silvera, who made the breakthrough with Dr Ranga Dias, said: “This is the holy grail of high-pressure physics.

“It’s the first-ever sample of metallic hydrogen on Earth, so when you’re looking at it, you’re looking at something that’s never existed before.”

At the moment the tiny piece of metal can only be seen through two diamonds that were used to crush liquid hydrogen at a temperature far below freezing.

The amount of pressure needed was immense – more than is found at the centre of the Earth.

The sample has remained trapped in this astonishing grip, but sometime in the next few weeks, the researchers plan to carefully ease the pressure.

According to one theory, metallic hydrogen will be stable at room temperature – a prediction that Professor Silvera said was “very important”.

“That means if you take the pressure off, it will stay metallic, similar to the way diamonds form from graphite under intense heat and pressure, but remains a diamond when that pressure and heat is removed,” he said.

If this is true, then its properties a super-conductor could dramatically improve anything that uses electricity.

“As much as 15 per cent of energy is lost to dissipation during transmission, so if you could make wires from this material and use them in the electrical grid, it could change that story,” the scientist said.

And metallic hydrogen could also transform humanity’s efforts to explore our solar system by providing a form of rocket fuel nearly four times more powerful than the best available today.

“It takes a tremendous amount of energy to make metallic hydrogen,” Professor Silvera said.

“And if you convert it back to molecular hydrogen, all that energy is released, so it would make it the most powerful rocket propellant known to man, and could revolutionize rocketry.

“That would easily allow you to explore the outer planets.

“We would be able to put rockets into orbit with only one stage, versus two, and could send up larger payloads, so it could be very important.”

However some scientists have theorised that metallic hydrogen will be unstable on its surface and so would gradually decay.

Asked what he thought would happen, Professor Silvera said: “I don’t want to guess, I want to do the experiment.”

Complete story.

27 Jan 2017

Woman Distraught That EU Has Not Invaded to Remove Trump From Power

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Nick Cole offers what is, I think, a fantasy mocking the Trump Derangement Syndrome of certain members of the coastal community of fashion.

Jan 24th, 2016. Silverlake, CA

A local woman, active in her vegan karate group, is surprised Europe hasn’t reciprocated for liberating the continent during WW2 with an Invasion of America, or at least Trump Tower, as of the week after the Inauguration. Hours of BBC programming have convinced her that full-scale foreign invasion is the “right-side-of-history move for the U.K.” at this critical moment in order to stop “Not-My-President Trump.”

In the months after former President Barack Obama and Pantsuit enthusiast Hillary Clinton spectacularly led the Democrat party to a stunning loss of both legislative houses and the Presidency, to a man several of her friends assured her was Hitler, she’d had high hopes of martial law in order to prevent the rise of this obvious totalitarian dictator from the past. Various celebrities also assured her through their social media channels that Donald Trump was Hitler, a known war criminal, and that he would be impeached within hours of daring to take the oath of office despite this never happening before. She took comfort in antidepressants, Whole Foods shopping trips on her overdraft, and RE-binging every season of Girls with the knoweledge Trump/Hitler would never be her president.

After extensively researching Hitler on Wikipedia one afternoon before a Yoga for Cats Empowerment Seminar, she was shocked to find out that the former reality TV Star was in fact responsible for the genocide of six million people, the destruction of Europe, and the further deaths of another 20 million combatants and civilians. She cited these shocking statistics online at a Make-Your-Own Kombucha Facebook page as reasons why Europe should invade America immediately to take back their Hitler. Saturday afternoon she took to the streets of Downtown LA with a homemade sign other protestors found inappropriate, reading: “Dear Europe- We’re up for Grabs!” to protest the inauguration of the business man/politician/ possible time-traveling genocidal maniac who was surely hours away from rounding up her gay friends for electro-shock therapy camps in the desert, according to MSNBC. A Rachel Maddow Reddit thread she admin’d reported suspicious “government-looking types” cruising West Hollywood and promising young men a “good time” if they “wanted to party.”

The EU has still, as of publication, not invaded America.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

27 Jan 2017

The Courage of the Elite

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A friend from Yale, Frank Dobbs, went to the new show at the International Center of Photography, where he discovered on display a whole new definition of courage.

I went to the Director’s Preview of the new show at ICP, Perpetual Revolution, The Image and Social Change. There I learned something that changed my perception of the current time. I learned that holding such an exhibition now is both timely and “dangerous.” The fact that such an exhibition is dangerous was constantly repeated. (They might have mentioned that the brave rebels were displaying photographs only a few miles form the Gilded Tower of the Autocrat.)

So, I want to say to all my left leaning friends. If the Trumpian jackboots ever threaten you or your families, I will personally shelter you in my attic, no matter what the risk to my own personal safety.

No one would contemplate considering such a poor Christian as I for sainthood. But I do see an opportunity to be considered a Righteous Rightist. Perhaps even have a forest named for me in Venezuela or North Korea?

26 Jan 2017

The Myth of Addiction

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Image of addiction from anti-marijuana propaganda film “Reefer Madness” (1939).

Peter Hitchens has published, in First Things, an excellent essay attacking the notion of addiction, the preternatural ability of certain morally disreputable substances to offer temptations so powerful as to overwhelm completely the free will of any normal human being. The late Thomas Szasz was attacking the same generally accepted delusion decades ago.

The chief difficulty with the word “addiction” is the idea that it describes a power greater than the will. If it exists in the way we use it and in the way our legal and medical systems assume it exists, then free will has been abolished. I know there are people who think and argue this is so. But this is not one of those things that can be demonstrated by falsifiable experiment. In the end, the idea that humans do not really have free will is a contentious opinion, not an objective fact.

So to use the word “addiction” is to embrace one side in one of those ancient unresolved debates that cannot be settled this side of the grave. To decline to use it, by contrast, is to accept that all kinds of influences, inheritances, and misfortunes may well operate on us, and propel us towards mistaken, foolish, wrong, and dangerous actions or habits. It is to leave open the question whether we can resist these forces. I am convinced that declining the word “addiction” is both the only honest thing to do, and the only kind and wise thing to do, when we are faced with fellow creatures struggling with harmful habits and desires. It is all very well to relieve someone of the responsibility for such actions, by telling him his body is to blame. But what is that solace worth if he takes it as permission to carry on as before? Once or twice I have managed to explain to a few of my critics that this is what I am saying. But generally they are too furious, or astonished by my sheer nerve, to listen.

So let us approach it another way. The English language belongs to no state or government. It is not ruled by academies or even defined by dictionaries, however good. It operates on a sort of linguistic version of common law, by usage and precedent. And the expression “addiction” is very widely and variously used. There are people who claim, seriously, to be “addicted” to sex or to gambling.

It is now impolite to refer to habitual drunkards. They are “alcoholics,” supposedly suffering from a complaint that is not their fault. The curious variable ambiguity of Alcoholics Anonymous on this point has added to the confusion. AA, to begin with, asked its adherents to admit they had no control over themselves, as a preliminary to giving that power to God. Somehow I suspect that God plays less of a part in modern AA doctrine, but the idea of powerlessness remains. Members of the organization quietly moved from calling alcoholism an “illness” or a “malady” to describing it as a “disease,” round about the time that the medical profession began to do the same thing.

We are ceaselessly told that cigarettes are “addictive.” Most powerfully, most of us believe that the abusers of the illegal drug heroin are “addicted” to it. Once again, the public, the government, and the legal and medical systems are more or less ordered to believe that users of these things are involuntary sufferers. A British celebrity and alleged comedian, Russell Brand, wrote recently, “The mentality and behaviour of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless [my emphasis] over their addiction and, unless they have structured help, they have no hope.”

Brand is a former heroin abuser who has by now rather famously given up the drug. But how can that be, if what he says about addiction is true? The phrase “wholly irrational” simply cannot withstand the facts of Brand’s own life. It will have to be replaced by something much less emphatic—let us say, “partly irrational.” The same thing happens to the phrase “completely powerless.” Neither the adverb nor the adjective can survive. Nor can the word “addiction” itself, which is visibly evaporating. We have to say “they struggle over their compulsion.”

Or you might turn to this definition of addiction from the American Society of Addiction Medicine:

    Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.

This definition prompted one writer at Alternet, an influential pro-addiction website, to say:

    If you think addiction is all about booze, drugs, sex, gambling, food and other irresistible vices, think again. And if you believe that a person has a choice whether or not to indulge in an addictive behavior, get over it. . . . Fundamental impairment in the experience of pleasure literally compels the addict to chase the chemical highs produced by substances like drugs and alcohol and obsessive behaviors like sex, food and gambling.

In other words, conscious choice plays little or no role in the actual state of addiction; as a result, a person cannot choose not to be addicted. The most an addict can do is choose not to use the substance or engage in the behavior that reinforces the entire self-destructive reward-circuitry loop. So even if the supposed “addict” ceases (as many do) to be “addicted” in practice to the addictive substance or activity, he remains “addicted” in some spiritual, subjective way, which cannot actually be seen in his behavior.

The defender of the concept of “addiction,” confronted with evidence that many “addicts” cease to be “addicted,” will say that of course he didn’t mean to suggest the phenomenon was wholly irresistible and could not be mastered by will. Oh no, he will say, reasonable people quite understand that it is not like that at all. In any normal argument, this would be the end of the matter. Anyone who confesses to using a word in one sense when it suits him, and in a wholly contradictory sense when it also suits him, has expelled himself from the company of all reasonable people and admitted that he respects neither truth nor logic.

A must-read.

In reality, everything pleasurable is “addictive” in the sense that one naturally desires to repeat the experience. The notion that certain unholy pleasures are so powerful that they must inevitably come to dominate those foolish enough to dare to encounter them is really just an imaginatively compelling literary narrative that has been widely accepted as factual.

26 Jan 2017

Lester’s Ammunition

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Nice parody of 1900-era Remington/Western/Winchester ads.

25 Jan 2017

Competitive Victimhood

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Bernard-Henri Levy, in his recent The Genius of Judaism:

One could — we must — wonder whether at the root of this paradigm of a victim-centered vision of the world might not lie the worst of history in general and of religion in particular: competing Adams, infinitesimal differences that have generated infinite rivalry among Edom, Jacob, and Ishmael. From Edom to Adam, says the Talmud, what is there but an additional letter, a vav — the red, bloody vav that is the matrix of a war set to become eternal?

Not to mention the thorough indecency of the quest for victim status, an indecency that is the unacknowledged correlate of the competition — its perversity, born in the mud of Auschwitz and re­packaged, banalized, metered out in small doses to allow everyone a little slice of the cake of victimhood, just enough to affirm their iden­tity and to clear away, if possible, any singularity that might mar the purity of their martyr status. How pathetic and grotesque this reduction of human essence to a bare suffering that becomes humanity’s sole definition, its sole glory, while simultaneously purging it of any­thing resembling intellectualism, culture, literature, philosophy, concepts, reason, truth, remembrance, and, especially, religion and prophecy: all of these useless adornments, these now-secondary qual­ities that appear to have been there only to obscure deprivation and to prevent people from relishing their status as victims.

Remember, too, that underpinning the competition, at its origin and at its apex, is hatred — yes, hatred once again, a pure and unadul­terated hatred: Once you give in to it, you never get out. Hatred for the victim whom one intends to unseat, of course, but also for the victim whom one is endeavoring to hoist onto the pedestal to be cov­ered in the bird droppings of the competitor’s sad passion. Oh, how the iron indifference of the “pro-Palestinians” to the Palestinians of flesh and blood recalls Genet’s contempt for the fedayeen whose eulogist he strove to be and for the other dispossessed, Arab and black alike, who were no more than cards in his deck!

25 Jan 2017

Too Good to Be True

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Girl taking selfie video while singing Rhianna on snowboard in Hakuba 47 Japan chased by bear without noticing.

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25 Jan 2017

Viking Ax Found in Danish Tomb

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Vintage News:

Inside an ancient Viking “death house,” a type of large tomb, Danish archaeologists recently made several important discoveries. The tomb, measuring 13 feet by 42 feet, was first unearthed in 2012 during a construction project in Denmark’s southwestern Hårup region.

Archaeologists have been studying the tomb ever since – burial sites are currently the only way archaeologists can study Viking history since remains of Viking settlements have yet to be excavated.

Constructed circa 950 AD, the “death house” contains three separate graves. Inside two of the graves, researchers found the remains of a male and female “power couple” likely of high birth or strong community influence. However, lead archaeologist Kirsten Nellemann Nielsen of the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark, cannot say for sure whether the “power couple” is a brother and sister or husband and wife. Clothing items found with the remains show that the man and woman were nobility.

The female’s clothing had silver threads in it, and she was buried with a key, which was a Viking status symbol.

The male remains found in the main tomb yielded an amazing discovery – one of the largest Viking axes found to date. The extremely heavy, giant ax could have been used in combat, but it would have taken two hands to fight with it. Experts believe it was probably used to terrify Viking enemies. As Nielsen explains, “People across Europe feared this type of ax, which at the time was known as the Dane Axe – something like the ‘machine gun’ of the Viking Age.” The ax did not have many decorative markings, which also suggests it was used in battle. The man it was buried with was probably quite strong to wield the ax successfully. The fact that he was buried with the ax and nothing else leads researchers to conclude that he identified himself solely as a strong and competent warrior.

25 Jan 2017

One Fine Day

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Democrat party socialist & dwarf Robert Reich put up a post on Facebook the other day which seemed to me to have a ring of truth.

I had breakfast recently with a friend who’s a former Republican member of Congress. Here’s what he said:

Him: Trump is no Republican. He’s just a big fat ego.

Me: Then why didn’t you speak out against him during the campaign?

Him: You kidding? I was surrounded by Trump voters. I’d have been shot.

Me: So what now? What are your former Republican colleagues going to do?

Him (smirking): They’ll play along for a while.

Me: A while?

Him: They’ll get as much as they want – tax cuts galore, deregulation, military buildup, slash all those poverty programs, and then get to work on Social Security and Medicare – and blame him. And he’s such a fool he’ll want to take credit for everything.

Me: And then what?

Him (laughing): They like Pence.

Me: What do you mean?

Him: Pence is their guy. They all think Trump is out of his mind.

Me: So what?

Him: So the moment Trump does something really dumb – steps over the line – violates the law in a big stupid clumsy way … and you know he will …

Me: They impeach him?

Him: You bet. They pull the trigger.

I think he’s right, that if (or, perhaps I should say: when) the Mainstream Media finally comes up with a scandal that sticks and Trump’s teflon covering breaks, the democrat wolfpack will close in, and they will be joined in bringing him down by plenty of Republicans.

But Reich seems to miss the point. Mike Pence operates as Presidential Insurance for Trump. Pence is a dyed-in-the-wool hardcore conservative. If they knock off Trump, from the left’s point of view, Pence might actually be worse.

24 Jan 2017

Bobcat

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24 Jan 2017

If You Were Trump, Would You Be Offended By This Sign?

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24 Jan 2017

Dutch to Trump: Make the Netherlands Second!

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From Dutch television show “zondag met lubach”.

23 Jan 2017

Jose Cabranes Sends a Message to the Yale Administration

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South Court of Berkeley College, where Karen and I used to live.

Judge Jose Cabranes took a public stand against Yale’s drift toward PC Totalitarianism

Writing for the Yale Law & Public Public Review (via CampusReform), US Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes (who was previously Yale’s general counsel) referred to Encounter Books’ recent decision to republish copies of the Woodward Report, a Yale document affirming its commitment to freedom of expression. In 1975, the university adopted the report as official school policy.

Cabranes says that their decision to reprint the report was a response to the institution’s fading commitment to its contents. Last year, Yale students petitioned to abolish its course on “Major English Poets,” which has existed since 1920, because they found it “hostile to students of color.” In the days prior, two professors resigned amid a scandal revolving around the “cultural appropriation” of offensive Halloween costumes.

Yale students also protested Milo Yiannopoulos, whose speaking engagement was canceled over last-minute venue changes, exorbitant security fees and a variety of other restrictions that the Conservative firebrand deemed “absurd.”

The federal judge also highlighted his concern with Yale’s commitment to “civility.”

“’Civility’ sounds innocuous enough, and, indeed, we can all agree that we should strive to be civil to each other,” said Cabranes. “But problems arise when we are told that ‘uncivil’ speech has turned the campus, or parts of the campus, into a ‘hostile environment’—and, more dangerously still, when we are told that university officials have a duty to make campus ‘safe’ again by suppressing alleged incivility.”

“In the fight against incivility, university officials too easily morph into monitors of acceptable speech—and, ultimately, into the unhappy role of ‘Civility Police,’” he said.

“We can toss our hands up and say that the malaise so palpably evident at Yale is simply part of larger cultural phenomena, national and international,” said Cabranes. But, he added, Yale’s job is not to be “swept along by a national tide” but rather to lead by example.

23 Jan 2017

The Women’s March

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Bulldog, from Maggie’s Farm, responds to the great national Women’s March.

I had another person say to me, “Your privilege is showing.” Privilege is a word which drives me insane. We all have crosses to bear, burdens in life which must be dealt with, and biases to fight. I’ve seen, and supported the cases of plaintiffs suing for, sexual discrimination. I’ve also experienced age discrimination. I’m aware of the discrimination which used to take place against my Irish ancestors. Suggesting I have privilege implies I am enjoying the benefits of something I didn’t earn. I earn it every day I go to work and deal with the nonsensical idiocy of liberal Progressives who have lost their bearings over this election. Remaining quiet during their diatribes is difficult, but could cost me my job. There’s no privilege in political discrimination, and that takes place every day. Still, I’m not marching for laws, or attention, or anything else to protect myself or my rights to believe what I want. My ‘privilege’ regarding gender ends the minute women start having their conversations which exclude men (see the paragraph above).

All I plan on doing is being the best person I can be. I did that for the last 8 years and it worked out pretty well. The resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. doesn’t impact my life as much as I tend to believe. The president is mainly an annoyance. Obama has had the biggest impact of any previous president, thanks to the aggregation of power which has taken place over the years. His mere existence has forced many to find new ways to share thoughts with people. After all, I can’t oppose him without being labeled a racist. But more importantly, his impact has shrunk my take home pay as various taxes (not necessarily Federal) have government taking a bigger and bigger chunk of my money for things I don’t support. I was told, 8 years ago, “Don’t worry, Obama won’t be as bad as you think, you’ll see how good he is” by every Obama sycophant out there. Yesterday, those sycophants marched because so many of them suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome. I never suffered from Obama Derangement Syndrome, and not because I didn’t dislike the guy. As I said, I’m not a marcher or a joiner. I let things play out, and the man pretty much lived down to my expectations.

I don’t believe Trump is an improvement, but much like Obama, I’ll let things play out. So when the TDS people ask me (as one did) “Give me one good reason to not fear everything this idiot is going to do” I replied “How about taking your advice to me 8 years ago and let’s just see what happens?” That should suffice.

Political identity is the least interesting part of anyone’s personality. But lately it’s become the most important part for many people. I have many liberal Progressive friends, and I feel bad they allow themselves to suffer. But they didn’t care when others suffered 8 years ago, so I have a very hard time explaining to them they created the bed upon which they lay. I haven’t ended a single friendship over this election, mainly because I don’t care if my friends disagree with me. A few have stopped speaking to me, because i “don’t care enough.” Really? I volunteer my time, I give to charity, I do what I can where I can and when I can. I do these things because I care. I don’t want my government to force me to do those things because MY FRIENDS CARE, I want to because I CARE. That is where the major difference between our views. They want to force me to agree with them. I prefer to agree with what I want to agree with, not what they want me to. The Progressive agenda is, if nothing else, a thought and mind control agenda.

Read the whole thing.

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