Monday, December 30, 2019

Channeling the Weimar Republic

Yours truly chanced upon an article about the Weimar Republic, the government that ran Germany from 1919 to 1933, that collapsed due to the catastrophic Treaty of Versailles, and the devastating hyperinflation of the German Papiermark thus giving rise to Hitler, something somewhat akin to the rise of Trump and what it could mean for the future of America if he gets reelected in 2020. 

As pundits often state, history never repeats but it does rhyme, a notion most disquieting to say the least, especially if one watches a Trump rally whereby our dear leader riffs for about an hour explaining to the devout just how great a president he truly is. Trump's bloviation isn't as potent as Hitler's nor is his message as horrific but similarities do apply without issue.

Is America about to suffer its Weimar moment, culminating in the collapse of its republican institutions? Our democracy may be far more rooted than that of Germany’s first republic, which fell in 1933 to Adolf Hitler, but there are disturbing similarities.

A polarizing would-be despot as national leader, rising anti-Semitism, an out-of-control upper bureaucracy, a politicized media and education systems, an economically stressed middle class, widespread dalliance with extremist ideologies and the rise of armed militant groups. America’s descent to authoritarianism is far from pre-ordained, but the reality remains that it could happen here, and perhaps already is.

2020 looms

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Another reason why ...

Another reason why ... Trump must go, The Denial of Science.

WASHINGTON — In just three years, the Trump administration has diminished the role of science in federal policymaking while halting or disrupting research projects nationwide, marking a transformation of the federal government whose effects, experts say, could reverberate for years.

Political appointees have shut down government studies, reduced the influence of scientists over regulatory decisions and in some cases pressured researchers not to speak publicly. The administration has particularly challenged scientific findings related to the environment and public health opposed by industries such as oil drilling and coal mining. It has also impeded research around human-caused climate change, which President Trump has dismissed despite a global scientific consensus.

But the erosion of science reaches well beyond the environment and climate: In San Francisco, a study of the effects of chemicals on pregnant women has stalled after federal funding abruptly ended. In Washington, D.C., a scientific committee that provided expertise in defending against invasive insects has been disbanded. In Kansas City, Mo., the hasty relocation of two agricultural agencies that fund crop science and study the economics of farming has led to an exodus of employees and delayed hundreds of millions of dollars in research.

“The disregard for expertise in the federal government is worse than it’s ever been,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, which has tracked more than 200 reports of Trump administration efforts to restrict or misuse science since 2017. “It’s pervasive.”

Without a doubt, this is the perfect way to destroy the country's future.

Nothing Less ...

Nothing Less ... Than a Civil War occupies the minds of devout Trumpers who follow and adore this man to the nth degree, disregarding any criticism that may be levied against him in any way, shape or fashion. With this being said, the reference to the dangers of 2020 made by yours truly rings true after reading this NYTimes piece describing what they might do if their hero gets defeated 11 months from now.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Ariz. — Great American Pizza & Subs, on a highway about 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas, was busier and Trumpier than usual. On any given day it serves “M.A.G.A. Subs” and “Liberty Bell Lasagna.” The “Second Amendment” pizza comes “loaded” with pepperoni and sausage. The dining room is covered in regalia praising President Trump.

But this October morning was “Trumpstock,” a small festival celebrating the president. The speakers included the local Republican congressman, Paul Gosar, and lesser-known conservative personalities. There was a fringe 2020 Senate candidate in Arizona who ran a website that published sexually explicit photos of women without their consent; a pro-Trump rapper whose lyrics include a racist slur aimed at Barack Obama; and a North Carolina activist who once said of Muslims, “I will kill every one of them before they get to me.”

All were welcome, except liberals.

It gets better ...

Any questions?

Friday, December 27, 2019

300/3000 ...

300/3000 ... = 300 blurbs in 2019, 3000 blurbs since 2007, something somewhat significant IMHO. What's even more significant is the fact you, my loyal readers, continue to read the musings of a senior citizen talking about all things related to science and tech and how both disciplines impact civilization 24/7.

This piece will not have links to sources more intelligent than said writer's (save 2) but rather personal takes on 2020, life in general and the issue of mortality as BRT has been fairly impersonal in its 12 years of existence inspired by a dear friend who said "You think you know a little bit so prove it." Hopefully I have and will continue to do so as there is simply too much happening to quit now in-spite of a world going mad as man moves ever forward into the 21st century. Note: this is a partial take at best.

The long decline

America is losing its mojo. From disastrous foreign policy endeavors beginning after WWII to the substitution of innovation in favor of money manipulation favoring the elite, the country's financial well being is being frittered away by greed (elimination of Glass-Stegall), incompetence and government corruption, not only in terms of tax code malfeasance favoring the rich but also with the fact there are no term limits, thus guaranteeing the pols never-ending quest for money in order to get re-elected no matter what the cost may be. This lack of term limits for the supremes also applies as this gives too much power to any sitting president in determining what political direction the country may go based on the kind of justice chosen for the job. Think Alito, Kavanaugh and Scalia for starters with Thomas in the wings.

The art of stupid

The educational construct in America is lacking to say the least and tech is one reason why this is so. Consider the smartphone and texting. In order to do this efficiently, newspeak is required due to the small form factor of the tech being used. This compression equation of newspeak ties in nicely with the use of emojis as showing one a happy face in social media equates to one-click while typing happy requires five. Expand this notion to writing whereby thought and the ability to tie together cogent thoughts necessitates taking the time and effort to make it happen, something starting to get rarer as AI is beginning to be used to replicate this valuable practice at speeds well beyond the ken of man. Endpaper. Nooze rules to sell ads and shape opinion. A lack of education makes the sell easy.

Thinking Elysium

The environment's unraveling, not only in terms of climate change but also in terms of environmental degradation and resource depletion, driven in large part by fossil fuel use, pollution and the impact of too many people living on planet earth. By 2050, the weakening polar vortex and jet stream, caused by global warming, will disrupt food production in unpredictable ways while intense drought and rising waters promise to displace millions, reminiscent of the film Elysium, a dystopian near-future view of mankind heading toward an abyss of our own making.

Technical incompetence & the denial of science

 All one has to do is listen to the president and congress talk tech to see just how blindingly ignorant these people truly are. The denial of science is even worse, not only in terms of the long term adverse effect it will have on the well being of the populace but also on the long term well being of the country. China has caught up to the US in terms of patents and computation and has surpassed the US in terms of developing rapid mass transit at a rate beyond anything this country has to offer. At the same time this is happening, the shortsighted view of never-ending growth and continued support of old industries like coal, fracking and drilling promise to accelerate the decline of the US while the rest of the world rapidly moves toward sustainables like wind, solar and wave. 

2020, politics & the end of the world

Politics, the art of lying and protecting the deep state of every country since the beginning of time, has reached its zenith (or nadir/take your pick) with the elections of far-right "populists" Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonro and Boris Johnson, provocateurs one and all, supporting the powers at be at all costs while the end of the world awaits thanks to climate change and the inability of nations to get their act together to ameliorate this existential threat to mankind. 

Regarding 2020, the Constitutional Crisis begins and ends with Trump with three questions silently moldering on the minds of thinking people everywhere ... 
  1. The real 2016 Russigate ... How far will Barr and Durham go in their criminal proceedings?
  2.  Will Trump leave if defeated? and ...
  3. What will his hardcore followers do if Agent Orange is defeated?

On mortality

Gaff: It's a shame that she won't live, but then again, who does? - Blade Runner

Being a senior, yours truly thinks about mortality and ... the important things in one's life. 
To this writer it's
  • Family. Having a son and his family close to my wife and me, rules. Ditto for two brothers and two sisters. On my wife's side, her niece's family rules.
  • Friends, the close ones are truly rare indeed.
  • Good art. You know, Miles, Shakespeare, Conrad, Twain, Carlin, Orwell, etc, etc, etc.
  • Cartoons of all stripes :)
  • Good coffee
  • Good conversation
  • Good wine & beer
  • Pretty women - all ages :)
  • Innovative tech
  • Insightful science
  • Good health
  • Last but not least, having an open mind and the will to keep on moving :)

Any questions? :)

Monday, December 23, 2019

Merry Xmas to one and all :)

Merry Xmas to one and all :)


BRT has posted many blurbs about 2050 and what it means for the world in terms of global warming, environmental degradation and resource depletion, conditions that portend a future most disquieting to say the least but remember ... this is just 2050 we're talking about. Imagine what earth will be like in 2100 or 2200 or 2500. Boggles the mind doesn't it?

Regarding 2050 ...

Crowtherlab shows what the climate will be like for cities all over the world just 30 years from now, which means Boston's climate will be akin to Charlotte, NC while Memphis will channel Houston. 

Click on the interactive map below to get a shortcut as to what climate change 
will really mean to a city near you.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

108Mp ...

108 million pixels will be part of the Samsung 11+ series phone via the ISOCELL HMX sensor, possessing a pixelcount not even imagined just one year ago. What it means for video and stills will be truly profound as low light sensitivity and a 5X optical zoom becomes a given, a notion guaranteed to keep digital camera vendors awake at night when this hardware hits the world market. As an avid photographer and videographer, this ultra portable tech will change how this rube creates art without question.

108MP indeed ...

Password security 101 :)

Friday, December 20, 2019

May the force be with you :)

Researchers have discovered how particles bunch up in liquids, a discovery that will help to explain how life functions on planet earth.

Ocean particle accumulation has long been understood as the result of chance collisions and adhesion. But an entirely different and unexpected phenomenon is at work in the water column. Like so many discoveries, this one began accidentally. A graduate student intended to show a favorite parlor trick -- how spheres dumped into a tank of salt water will "bounce" on their way to the bottom, as long as the fluid is uniformly stratified by density. But the student in charge of the experiment made an error in setting up the density of the lower fluid. The spheres bounced and then hung there, submerged but not sinking to the bottom. Credit: Robert Hunt/UNC-Chapel Hill

The smart thing the student did was to not clean up the mess. :)

You can see the phenomenon at work in a video the researchers produced. Plastic microbeads dropped into a container of salt water topped with less dense fresh water are pulled down by the force of gravity and thrust upward by buoyancy. As they hang suspended, the interplay between buoyancy and diffusion—acting to balance out the concentration gradient of salt—creates flows around the microbeads, causing them to slowly move. Rather than moving randomly, however, they clump together, solving their own jigsaw-like puzzles. As the clusters grow, the fluid force increases.

"It's almost like we discovered an effective new force," Camassa said.

May the force be with you. :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Orwell lives ... in China

Orwell lives ... in China as this country ramps up surveillance 24/7 on its 1.4 billion inhabitants as we speak.

ZHENGZHOU, China — China is ramping up its ability to spy on its nearly 1.4 billion people to new and disturbing levels, giving the world a blueprint for how to build a digital totalitarian state.

Chinese authorities are knitting together old and state-of-the-art technologies — phone scanners, facial-recognition cameras, face and fingerprint databases and many others — into sweeping tools for authoritarian control, according to police and private databases examined by The New York Times.

Once combined and fully operational, the tools can help police grab the identities of people as they walk down the street, find out who they are meeting with and identify who does and doesn’t belong to the Communist Party.

The United States and other countries use some of the same techniques to track terrorists or drug lords. Chinese cities want to use them to track everybody.

It gets better ...

People Pass and Leave a Shadow’

The police arrived one day in April to a dingy apartment complex in Zhengzhou, an industrial city in central China. Over three days they installed four cameras and two small white boxes at the gates of the complex, which hosts cheap hotels and fly-by-night businesses.

Once activated, the system began to sniff for personal data. The boxes — phone scanners called IMSI catchers and widely used in the West — collected identification codes from mobile phones. The cameras recorded faces.

On the back end, the system attempted to tie the data together, an examination of its underlying database showed. If a face and a phone appeared at the same place and time, the system grew more confident they belonged to the same person.

Over four days in April, the boxes identified more than 67,000 phones. The cameras captured more than 23,000 images, from which about 8,700 unique faces were derived. Combining the disparate data sets, the system matched about 3,000 phones with faces, with varying degrees of confidence.

Orwell lives ... in China

Saturday, December 14, 2019

The right to choose ...

The right to choose, a notion the religious right denies with great fervor, is something women have done since the beginning of time as described in an educational  NYTimes piece titled Women Have Always Had Abortions.

Any questions?

Deep Fakes ...

Deepfakes (a portmanteau of "deep learning" and "fake"[1]) are media that take a person in an existing image or video and replace them with someone else's likeness using artificial neural networks.[2] They often combine and superimpose existing media onto source media using machine learning techniques known as autoencoders and generative adversarial networks.

It gets better ...

And now there's something else that Artificial Intelligence can do; it can create a moving digital avatar of you. 

It's crazy and people are seemed to be really hyped with this innovation. It seems indeed like a Black Mirror if you can think of all the things you can do with this feature of Artificial Intelligence. 

Something to think about for sure, don't you think?

Friday, December 13, 2019

Poster Child ...

This wonderful illustration by the great Victor Juhasz for Rolling Stone shows just how craven and needy these people truly are. If this is not a poster child as to why we need term limits, then nothing else will serve as we have no say as to how this country is governed as long as this corrupt system remains in place with The Turtle as head cheerleader in an enterprise more loathed then the ever-present cockroach surreptitiously lurking in the shadows of almost any city apartment in America.

The fight to dislodge Donald Trump from the presidency has sparked unprecedented interest in the 2020 Democratic primary, drawing dozens of candidates, including no fewer than seven sitting senators. But the fight to wrest the Senate from Republican control — and oust Mitch McConnell as majority leader — is arguably just as important. Take it from Amy McGrath, the former Marine fighter pilot aiming to win McConnell’s Kentucky Senate seat, who sees curbing McConnell’s power as essential to healing our republic. “He’s the epitome of Washington dysfunction, everything we hate about politics,” she says. “You cannot drain the swamp until you get rid of Mitch McConnell.” 

Truer words never spoken.

The guy on the left looks better without question.

Artistry to the max

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Crossing the threshold ...

BRT, as my loyal readers know, has talked often about the danger of methane, the greenhouse gas of green houses gases, an entity beginning to issue forth at ever increasing levels as the permafrost melts, thus releasing this most powerful of planet warming agents in biblical proportions.

The findings are contained in the 2019 Arctic Report Card, a major federal assessment of climate change trends and impacts throughout the region. The study paints an ominous picture of a region lurching to an entirely new and unfamiliar environment.

The Arctic may have crossed key threshold, emitting billions of tons of carbon into the air, in a long-dreaded climate feedback

Scientists are alarmed that this earth, frozen for millennia, is now thawing. And the pace of the thaw is picking up.

Especially noteworthy is the report’s conclusion that the Arctic already may have become a net emitter of planet-warming carbon emissions due to thawing permafrost, which would only accelerate global warming. Permafrost is the carbon-rich frozen soil that covers 24 percent of the Northern Hemisphere’s land mass, encompassing vast stretches of territory across Alaska, Canada, Siberia and Greenland.

Channeling Thelma & Louise without question.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Blob ... for real

This is the blob for real ... 

What does this all mean? For starters ...

It gets "better".

Gaia has had enough, the reckoning for man is nigh as earth, as stated many times in BRT, doesn't need us as she will recover but us ... No one knows, do one? - Fats Waller.
Remember, this is just the beginning of the impact of Climate Change
as man moves further into the 21st century.

Monday, December 09, 2019

A CF of historic proportions ...

Two trillion (and counting), the Afghan initiative has been a CF of historic proportions. With this in mind, please read the NYTimes post and weep but note that this fubar, on top of W's excellent adventure in Iraq, Hillary's and Obama's Lybian soiree and Obama's and Trump's intervention in Syria, has cost the US a cool 8+ trillion (and counting) while leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake since 9/11/2001. 

Dazed and confused comes to mind here when contemplating this FUBAR of FUBARS.

Any questions?

A group of very powerful people should go to jail for this CF without question.

Channeling Nam & W's mis adventure in Iraq AKA Shock & Awe, comes to mind here without issue.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

In the land of the blind ... :)

Portraits of a different kind ...

Yours truly often imagines just how dangerous and wonderous this world must have been as dinos ruled earth for over 250 million years, a length of time dwarfing the age of mammals without issue.  

The reason for this blurb centers on the superb piece in the NY Review of Books titled What Were Dinosaurs For? as said piece delves, in-depth, into the uneasy relationship of science vs. theology, issues Mark Twain described in incendiary fashion in his work titled Letters from the Earth.

In reading Twain, Waiting for Godot comes to mind as Godot never shows up ...


To yours truly, it's probabilities. We live in a quantum universe where there are no certitudes, just probabilities. This is why Camus' Myth of Sysiphus rings forever true for yours truly.

Read What are Dinosaurs For? as it is truly extraordinary in every sense of the word. :)