Monday, March 30, 2020

K. Vonnegut/2 for the price of one :)

K. Vonnegut is one of my favorite writers due to his dry and ironic wit and his take on science fiction. With this being said, here are 2 clips, the first an excerpt from an unpublished and previously undiscovered short story from the 50s, the 2nd from a talk given by the esteemed K regarding killer lampreys and such from 1970. Enjoy.

Editor’s note: While reading through Kurt Vonnegut’s papers in the Lilly Library, at Indiana University, as they worked on the first comprehensive edition of his short fiction, Vonnegut’s friend Dan Wakefield and Jerome Klinkowitz, a scholar of Vonnegut’s work, came across five previously unpublished stories. Klinkowitz dates “The Drone King,” one of those five, to the early 1950s, when Vonnegut hadn’t yet written a novel and was only beginning to publish short fiction. Complete Stories will be published this month by Seven Stories Press.

and ...

3 for the price of one indeed. :)

The Cassandra effect

This powerful Vanity Fair pix indirectly links to Cassandra, able to predict the future but forever doomed to not be believed because of refusing Apollo's advances, rings true in 2020 without question.

Any questions?

Forgetfulness 101 ... :)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The COVID-19 mass effect ...

First three passes on G. E. Studio :)

First three takes on a very powerful app. More to come after I get my feet wet. :)

My feet are getting wet. :)

Google Earth Studio - A freebie for us rubes.

I have a lot to learn here without question. :)

A very guilty pleasure ...

A very guilty pleasure indeed if ... you're safe and free of the virus and ... the web works. If so, you can do nothing and sit on your ass without a care in the world as long as you are financially secure. This dark but accurate take is rarely expressed but Wired's piece rings true without issue.

To whit ...

BRT has talked about disruption and how good can come from it if we have the courage to make it so. Glad to see yours truly is not alone on this thought as well.

Dr. Strangelove also applies if you're connected. Black humor has a role, just ask Moliere, Carlin and Chevesky about this if you would. :)

Be well and ... be safe in these most uncertain times.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

When everything stops ...

An informative piece to the max with a photo essay from the International Space Station showing befores and afters of public places all over the world. 

Check it out. The difference between the befores and afters is astounding to say the least.

$1200 isn't enough

Disruptive times calls for disruptive ideas, like a universal income, universal healthcare and a reduction of the military industrial complex as this country is now in deep free fall and the political leaders in place either haven't a clue or lack the guts to change things for the better as COVID-19 ravages this once great nation known as America. From education rackets to crony capitalism, this country has been systematically violated and it's time for we the people to take it back. For starters, term limits and forgive the debt would help without question because Germany did it in 1948 with little or no repercussions.

The NYTimes piece titled 'We Have Lost It All': The Shock Felt by Millions of Unemployed Americans describes what it means to become destitute in an NY Second.

To whit:

For the millions of Americans who found themselves without a job in recent weeks, the sharp and painful change brought a profound sense of disorientation. They were going about their lives, bartending, cleaning, managing events, waiting tables, loading luggage and teaching yoga. And then suddenly they were in free fall, grabbing at any financial help they could find, which in many states this week remained locked away behind crashing websites and overloaded phone lines.

“Everything has changed in a matter of minutes — seconds,” said Tamara Holtey, 29, an accountant for an industrial services company in the Houston area, who was on a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico, as the coronavirus outbreak intensified in the United States and was laid off on her second day back at work.

This is like a car accident caused by someone texting, one second you're alive, the next, you're not. Time to change the ethos of this country now before it's too late.

End of rant for now.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Eerie says it all ...

A superb piece from Rolling Stone titled Ask an Expert on the Fall of Rome: Are We F-cked? details the eerie connect between the fall of Rome and the US in ways both disquieting and apt to a fault.

Crises like these — whether it’s a crisis of political legitimacy, or a pandemic that demands response, or some kind of major external war that crops up out of nowhere — the chances are good that whatever snaps under the pressure of that crisis was probably straining already, was probably barely chugging along already. There’s some kind of deep problem that a crisis is going to expose, bring to the fore, and then break very dramatically for everybody to see.

We see the crisis and we see the break — and we equate the two. We’re narrative creatures. That’s how we understand the world. We understand things as a story with a climax, and the break has to be the climax. It’s very hard for us to turn a more analytical eye and see the collection of very small things that lead up to a systemic break. It’s just difficult. But these disasters don’t create these trends so much as they supercharge them.

Rolling Stone

What kind of breaks, systemic failures, and supercharged trends are you seeing with our response to COVID-19? Your point about systems breaking that were already stretched thin reminded me of these reports that somewhere between 90 and 98 percent of our nation’s ICU beds are being used all the time.

Patrick Wyman

That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. When you have a society that has optimized for some ideal of efficiency or shareholder value, as opposed to redundancy or resiliency, this is the kind of result that you get. From my point of view, that amounts to a break. Something like repeatedly cutting ICU capacity in order to deliver more shareholder profits, that looks like a broken system to me, or at least one in which the incentives are not necessarily aligned with public welfare.

Put on a slightly different scale, if you have an economy that’s set up such that having to reduce consumer spending in order to preserve public health places such a massive strain on it, there’s probably something underlying that’s unhealthy about that system as a whole. If your system of political economy is not healthy enough to withstand a shock like that or respond to that, something’s wrong. If we end up with 20 or 25 percent unemployment, if we end up with large numbers of people who can’t eat, who are going to be paying thousands and thousand of dollars from medical bills if and when they get sick … those are systemic crises that grew out of problems that existed before the coronavirus.

Makes sense does it not and ... read the piece in its entirety. It's the smart thing to do.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

PSA: How to shop safely in the age of COVID-19

How to shop safely in the age of COVID-19. Awesome to a fault.

Look before you leap

Look before you leap is prudent, so is intelligent analysis before doing anything of consequence, something not being done by Trump regarding COVID-19 and what it could mean for America if he opens up the country too soon. 

To this end, The NYTimes has created an interactive chart showing how the numbers play out in terms of people getting infected based on input by researchers who know their stuff regarding pandemics and the viral agents that drive them. 

Look before you leap sounds smart to me don't you think?

Addendum: Another must-read regarding the virus ... Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance depicts in greater detail why Look before you leap is more than just apt. 

Any questions?

Greyscale & then some ...

Of days gone by ...

Into the distance

A touch of yellow

Winter's End

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The n-body problem

Being rather limited in math, to say the least, yours truly follows science and physics from the visual & verbal perspective so when brilliant researchers describe complex issues in ways I can follow, the topic discussed becomes fascinating to the max.

To whit:

The n-body problem is a famous problem in astrophysics. It arises as you add more bodies to a gravitationally interacting system.

The movements of two bodies of comparable size in orbit around a central point are relatively simple to mathematically predict, according to Newton's laws of motion and Newton's law of universal gravitation.

However, once you add another body, things become tricky. The bodies start to gravitationally perturb each others' orbits, introducing an element of chaos into the interaction. This means that, although solutions exist for special cases, there is no one formula - under Newtonian physics or general relativity - that describes these interactions with complete accuracy.

Here's where it gets really interesting.

When running n-body simulations, physicists sometimes return time-irreversibility in their results - in other words, running the simulations backwards doesn't get them to the original starting point.

The three bodies in the system are black holes, and they were tested in two scenarios. In the first, the black holes started from rest, moving towards each other into complicated orbits, before one of the black holes is kicked out of the system.

The second scenario starts where the first one ends, and is run backwards in time, trying to restore the system to its initial state.

They found that, 5 percent of the time, the simulation could not be reversed. All it took was a disturbance to the system the size of a Planck length, which, at 0.000000000000000000000000000000000016 metres, is the smallest length possible.

"The movement of the three black holes can be so enormously chaotic that something as small as the Planck length will influence the movements," Boekholt said. "The disturbances the size of the Planck length have an exponential effect and break the time symmetry."

Five percent may not seem like much, but since you can never predict which of your simulations will fall within that five percent, the researchers have concluded that n-body systems are therefore "fundamentally unpredictable".

How cool is that?

Chaos rules yet again as one cannot retrace exactly the paths
3 or more bodies take in any given length of time.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Uncharted waters ...

In 2008, it was the great recession, in 2020, it's uncharted waters with the distinct likelihood
a depression of unimaginable proportions looms. 

No we have not. 

If the power elites get bailouts like in 2008, a revolution is nigh as it's now life or death with COVID-19 and financial destitution for main street and the middle class. The pols better listen up and do what's right as their future, along with the power elites is in play now. Just ask the French how that went down beginning in 1789. Food for thought, is it not?

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Cutting a path ...

Black holes cast a shadow on the image of bright surrounding material because their strong gravitational field can bend and trap light. The shadow is bounded by a bright ring of light, corresponding to photons that pass near the black hole before escaping. The ring is actually a stack of increasingly sharp subrings, and the n-th subring corresponds to photons that orbited the black hole n/2 times before reaching the observer. This animation shows how a black hole image is formed from these subrings and the trajectories of photons that create the image. Credit: Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian

Science has figured out how to get razor-sharp images of black holes, something not even conceived of just one year ago prior to getting the first pix of M87.

Last April, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) sparked international excitement when it unveiled the first image of a black hole. Today, a team of researchers have published new calculations that predict a striking and intricate substructure within black hole images from extreme gravitational light bending.

"The image of a black hole actually contains a nested series of rings," explains Michael Johnson of the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA). "Each successive ring has about the same diameter but becomes increasingly sharper because its light orbited the black hole more times before reaching the observer. With the current EHT image, we've caught just a glimpse of the full complexity that should emerge in the image of any black hole."

Because black holes trap any photons that cross their event horizon, they cast a shadow on their bright surrounding emission from hot infalling gas. A "photon ring" encircles this shadow, produced from light that is concentrated by the strong gravity near the black hole. This photon ring carries the fingerprint of the black hole—its size and shape encode the mass and rotation or "spin" of the black hole. With the EHT images, black hole researchers have a new tool to study these extraordinary objects.

How cool is that?

Reality ... is random

Camus is one of my heroes as his take on life echoes my own as reality is random, there is no certitude, only probabilities driven by the laws of quantum. As in Tao, the only constant, in reality, is change and the key to living the right way starts with assuming nothing, something Camus wrote about with clarity and power in all of his work.

With this being said, Alain de Botton's Camus on the Coronavirus NYTimes essay eloquently details how man copes with the randomness of death using Camus' The Plaque as prime example as to why this is so.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Civil Liberties ... in the cross hairs

Italy has imposed unprecedented restrictions on its population to control the virus outbreak. Will the US resort to similar measures? Photo credit: © Fotogramma/Abaca via ZUMA Press

Could civil liberties be permanently snuffed out because of COVID-19? Good question isn't it as the disease continues to wreak havoc on the world 24/7.

“Courts matter” in achieving a balance between protecting public health and respecting civil liberties, said Goodwin. In the Hickox case, she observed, the Ebola crisis had become politicized, and the court ruled that the state had not proven its case that she was a public health threat.

But civil liberties advocates have less faith in the courts under the present administration, she added: “Let’s be clear. The terminology being used in many quarters is that the President has stacked the court,” said Goodwin, who directs the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy at the University of California, Irvine. There are concerns about the influence of “political expediency” on the independence of judges, and whether they can be counted on to rely “on the evidence at hand,” she said.

Given “who sits on the courts these days,” she said, “maybe … we ought to be far more concerned about individuals’ civil liberties.”

The number of conservative judges in federal courts has surged. By the end of 2019, President Donald Trump had successfully appointed 187 of them — including roughly a quarter of all sitting circuit court judges, and two Supreme Court justices.

As stated before in BRT and FB, this is Trump's legacy to America and it's not a good one by any stretch of the imagination.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

It's different now/rev II

It's different now/rev II is coming on like a runaway train, with no one at the controls able to bring it back into the fold based on the revenge of mother nature and the finalization of the world's business with No. 1 moving manufacturing to China and 2, enabling tech to convert dollars into bits, able to be manipulated in ways thought impossible just 10 years ago. With this in mind, Charles Hugh Smith's take on the vagaries of money is both wise and insightful and his view on It's different now proves yours truly is not alone in sensing the world we know now will not be the world we see just a few years hence.

To whit:

That governments around the world will be forced to distribute "helicopter money" to keep their people fed and housed and their economies from imploding is already a given. Closing all non-essential businesses and gatherings will crimp the livelihood of millions of households and small businesses that lack the financial resources to survive weeks without any revenues.

The only question is whether governments which can borrow or print fresh currency will get ahead of the implosion or fall behind, creating a binary choice: go big now or go home.

Half-measures in helicopter money work about as well as half-measures in quarantine, i.e. they fail to achieve the intended objectives. Dribbling out modest low-interest loans is a half-measure, as is cutting payroll taxes. Neither measure will help employees or small businesses whose income has fallen below the minimum needed to pay essential bills: rent, food, utilities, etc.

A day of reckoning is nigh ...

Meanwhile, the ruling elites will be under increasing pressure to bail out greedy financial elites and gamblers--the same scoundrels and parasites they bailed out in 2008-09. But this is not just another speculative bubble-pop, this is a matter of life and death and solvency for the masses of at-risk households and small businesses. It is a different zeitgeist and a different crisis, and bailing out greedy parasites (banks, indebted corporations, speculators, financiers, etc.) will not go over big while households and small businesses are going bankrupt.

The Federal Reserve, was just handed a lesson in the ineffectiveness of the usual monetary "bazooka" in bailing out the predatory-parasitic class of overleveraged gamblers. Nearly free money for financiers isn't going to save the economy or non-elites sliding toward insolvency.

Instead of leaving the bottom 99.5% to twist in the wind while enriching the predatory-parasitic class, the ruling elites will have to let the top 0.5% twist in the wind and save the bottom 99.5%. This will require going against all the thousands of lobbyists, all the chums at the club, and all the millions in campaign contributions, but it's a binary choice.

Either save your citizenry or sacrifice your legitimacy by bailing out the predatory-parasitic class. If the ruling elites save their parasitic pals, the public will demand the scalps of the predatory-parasitic class, and as the crisis deepens, they will eject every craven, greedy elected toady who caved in to the predatory-parasitic class.

So listen up ruling elites: either go big or go home. Either accept that it's going to take several trillion dollars in helicopter money to insure the most vulnerable households and real-world enterprises remain solvent, or quit and go home.

Any questions?

A new copper age ...

A new copper age is coming, why? Because copper destroys viruses and pathogens on contact, something India has known about for millennia.

In China, it was called “qi,” the symbol for health. In Egypt it was called “ankh,” the symbol for eternal life. For the Phoenicians, the reference was synonymous with Aphrodite—the goddess of love and beauty.

It gets better.

Intense or what. It's too late for COVID-19 but not for future bugs so hospitals and us rubes should recognize the fact a new copper age is upon us. The ancient Greeks would be proud. :)

"Ain't" science grand? 

The Sun - The Moon

On one special day, sunrise and moonrise were shot marking the end of winter. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Winter's End

Winter's End depicts the end of a mild 4th season in CT both inland and on the LI Sound with melting ice and the raucous sounds of seabirds and hawks calling for their mates. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

It's all about profit, right?

It's all about profit, right? The question to ask here, as the world shuts down,
where is said profit? Something to think about don't you think?

Friday, March 13, 2020

Gee, I didn't know that :)

Everybody "knows" that when one throws a ball, the path it takes is a parabola but that's not the case in a detailed and entertaining Forbs piece titled We All Learned Physics' Biggest Myth: That Projectiles Make A Parabola.

To whit.

  1. The Earth, at least in your vicinity, is flat rather than curved,
  2. That Earth's gravitational field points straight down relative to your current location
  3. The earth is a sphere.
Ergo, because the earth is round, any object traveling below escape velocity will gravitationally point directly toward the earth's center while following the curvature of the planet as per the diagram seen below, which means ... ellipses rule, not parabolas. :)

Galileo was right. :)

Gee, I didn't know that. :)