Tech Authoritarianism…

GIF source: Link below

Topics: Computer Science, Politics, Social Media

To build the metaverse, Facebook needs us to get used to smart glasses.

Last week Facebook released its new $299 “Ray-Ban Stories” glasses. Wearers can use them to record and share images and short videos, listen to music, and take calls. The people who buy these glasses will soon be out in public and private spaces, photographing and recording the rest of us, and using Facebook’s new “View” app to sort and upload that content.

My issue with these glasses is partially what they are, but mostly what they will become, and how that will change our social landscape.

How will we feel going about our lives in public, knowing that at any moment the people around us might be wearing stealth surveillance technology? People have recorded others in public for decades, but it’s gotten more difficult for the average person to detect, and Facebook’s new glasses will make it harder still since they resemble and carry the Ray-Ban brand.

That brand’s trusted legacy of “cool” could make Facebook’s glasses appeal to many more people than Snap Spectacles and other camera glasses. (Facebook also has roughly 2 billion more users than Snapchat.) And Facebook can take advantage of the global supply chain and retail outlet infrastructure of Luxottica, Ray-Ban’s parent company. This means the product won’t have to roll out slowly—even worldwide.

Why Facebook is using Ray-Ban to stake a claim on our faces, S.A. Applin, MIT Technology Review

Steve Austin’s Beads…

Magnetic prosthetic: A magnetic sensing array enables a new tissue tracking strategy that could offer advanced motion control in artificial limbs. (Courtesy: MIT Media Lab/Cameron Taylor/Vessel Studios)

Topics: Biotechnology, Magnetism, Materials Science, Medicine, Nanotechnology, Robotics

Cultural reference: The Six Million Dollar Man, NBC

In recent years, health and fitness wearables have gained popularity as platforms to wirelessly track daily physical activities, by counting steps, for example, or recording heartbeats directly from the wrist. To achieve this, inertial sensors in contact with the skin capture the relevant motion and physiological signals originating from the body.

As wearable technology evolves, researchers strive to understand not just how to track the body’s dynamic signals, but also how to simulate them to control artificial limbs. This new level of motion control requires a detailed understanding of what is happening beneath the skin, specifically, the motion of the muscles.

Skeletal muscles are responsible for almost all movement of the human body. When muscle fibers contract, the exerted forces travel through the tendons, pull the bones, and ultimately produce motion. To track and use these muscle contractions in real-time and with high signal quality, engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) employed low-frequency magnetic fields – which pass undisturbed through body tissues – to provide accurate and real-time transcutaneous sensing of muscle motion. They describe their technique in Science Robotics.

Magnetic beads inside the body could improve control of bionic limbs, Raudel Avila is a student contributor to Physics World

Exciton Surfing…

Surfing excitons: Cambridge’s Alexander Sneyd with the transient-absorption microscopy set-up. (Courtesy: Alexander Sneyd)

Topics: Alternate Energy, Applied Physics, Materials Science, Nanotechnology, Solar Power

Organic solar cells (OSCs) are fascinating devices where layers of organic molecules or polymers carry out light absorption and subsequent transport of energy – the tasks that make a solar cell work. Until now, the efficiency of OSCs has been thought to be constrained by the speed at which energy carriers called excitons to move between localized sites in the organic material layer of the device. Now, an international team of scientists led by Akshay Rao at the UK’s University of Cambridge has shown that this is not the case. What is more, they have discovered a new quantum mechanical transport mechanism called transient delocalization, which allows OSCs to reach much higher efficiencies.

When light is absorbed by a solar cell, it creates electron-hole pairs called excitons and the motion of these excitons plays a crucial role in the operation of the device. An example of an organic material layer where light absorption and transport of excitons takes place is in a film of well-ordered poly(3-hexylthiophene) nanofibers. To study exciton transport, the team shone laser pulses at such a nanofiber film and observed its response.

Exciton wave functions were thought to be localized due to strong couplings with lattice vibrations (phonons) and electron-hole interactions. This means the excitons would move slowly from one localized site to the next. However, the team observed that the excitons were diffusing at speeds 1000 times greater than what had been shown for similar samples in previous research. These speeds correspond to a ground-breaking diffusion length of about 300 nm for such crystalline films. This means energy can be transported much faster and more efficiently than previously thought.

Exciton ‘surfing’ could boost the efficiency of organic solar cells, Rikke Plougmann, Physics World

Dunning-Kruger Death Cult…

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

In a speech 40 years ago to a group of conservative preachers, Heritage Foundation founder Paul Weyrich said, “Now many of our Christians have what I call the ‘goo-goo syndrome.’ Good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now.

“As a matter of fact,” he continued, “our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Weyrich’s idea continues to animate the GOP today. In dismissing a Democratic push for reforms, including vote-by-mail, same-day registration, and early voting to assist state-run elections in the midst of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump opined, “They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

Starting with Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” in 1968, through Weyrich’s candid acknowledgment in 1980, to Donald Trump’s numerous rants, the GOP has consistently stood against reasonable voter registration laws and fair and equitable access to the polls — because they know they lose in a battle of ideas.

Wake up, folks: the campaign against democracy continues

Bill Dwyer, Oak Park, and River Forest Letters to the Editor, Opinion: Wednesday Journal
November 18, 2020, Updated February 11, 2021

The modern “gang of Putin” is Paul Weyrich’s wet dream. There is a through-line from Barry Goldwater to Weyrich, Weyrich to Nixon, Nixon to Reagan, Reagan to Orange Satan. Goldwater got some disingenuous ads against him, painting him as crazy enough to start a thermonuclear war. Lyndon Baines Johnson won 486 electoral votes to Goldwater’s 52. It was then Goldwater, years before Watergate, coined “you’ve got to hunt where the ducks are.” The ducks were the disaffected southern Dixiecrats in deep depression because Civil Rights and Voting Rights from the US Constitution were being extended to African Americans. When you have privilege, equal justice seems like persecution. Privilege is a kind of willful blindness. For white supremacist power, party insiders weren’t, and aren’t, willing to remove the scales.

Former President George W. Bush indicted [the] January 6, 2021 attempted coup in his remarks at the 20-year anniversary observance of 9/11. Bush, however, appointed federal judges during his tenure in a nod to Goldwater, Weyrich, and Nixon’s “Southern Strategy.” George W. Bush signed the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act when it was a bipartisan affair: it is now seen as existential for Democrats, and disposable for Republicans. The 2000 election was controversial: Bush won the electoral college and lost the popular vote, the second Republican presidential candidate to do so in this century. His party’s nominees have lost the popular vote in seven out of eight presidential elections, and, by their admission, they are demographically shrinking. Bush’s defense attorneys in Florida were Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, three of five judges appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote. The Patriot Act was seen as government overreach into civil liberties and birthed a lot of blogs on the left as mainstream media ignored it for access journalism. We’re reeling from the expense of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, one too long in duration, and the other added via obfuscation. He may not have been as extreme as we currently see his party exhibiting, but he did inadvertently till the soil of institutional doubt.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice. We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have A Dream,” August 28, 1963

The Wages of Whiteness” a book by David R. Roediger I use to juxtapose the check America is still trying to cash with African Americans without sufficient funds. The wage of this whiteness was supposed to have sufficiency in perpetuity. All it needed were pariahs that they could blame for any societal faux pas: the economy and welfare were the faults of “young bucks,” and “welfare queens,” not oligarchs and tax cheats. We were patriotic and resolute until Iran-Contra occurred, flooding weapons to the Contras, and drugs to Compton. Culture wars were always the right’s “whitewashed sepulchers,” dead tombs with the façade of rose-covered balconies, and rainbow farts out of unicorns. The pariah label was extended to all BIPOC, and karma is making them the majority by 2042. The check for the balance of supremacy is draining inexorably from the church bank account of the whitewashed sepulcher.

The latest in a trilogy of one word title tomes by Bob Woodward starting with “Fear,” “Rage” and the apt-named “Peril” where the current Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted to ensure that the former occupant of the Oval Office didn’t launch World War III to stay in power. The Russian Puppet and his cult followers confuse treason to The Constitution with loyalty to him. Fun fictional fact: Star Trek’s version of Armageddon happens in 2026.

Texas is a laboratory for instigating “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Second Amendment rights trumps (pun intended) bodily autonomy. South Dakota’s governor always looks high, giving the middle finger to masks and Lakota sacred grounds on the 4th of July during the alpha phase of the pandemic, and Florida’s governor has the well-earned nickname “Death Santis” that will stick in his bid for re-election, and higher office. A heat map of COVID hotspots in California is almost an exact replica of the electoral areas that started the California recall. You can replicate that map in red states versus blue states. The entire party has devolved into a Dunning-Kruger death cult.

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments, Justin Kruger and David Dunning, Cornell University

Abstract

People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.

After Watergate, the right deliberately designed an echo chamber to tell itself everything they wanted to hear: good, not bad, propaganda not history, fiction, not reality. Karl Rove told reporter Ron Suskind: “The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ […] ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'” There is a district in Texas that every two years, consciously reelects Louie Gohmert to the US House of Representatives, the “disparage my asparagus” former judge, and lawyer. Nonplussed initially, Former Attorney General Eric Holder responded with the sickest burn a year later in 2014: “good luck with your asparagus.”

North Carolina US Republican Representative Madison Cawthorne crashed a school board meeting in Henderson, NC to troll Governor Roy Cooper about masks. Key point: he wasn’t there. Couple that with his abysmal grades the one year he attended college, at this point, I cannot take him, or the rest of his party seriously. I may not have been a fan of Ronald Reagan, but Reaganism stood for something; Trumpism is sadistic Seinfeld. They’re all white grievance minstrels, performance artists, professional trolls, and nihilists. “Owning the libs” is all they live for. The asylum inmates running for office currently are mean-girl teenagers running on the population, and likes of their Instagram and Twitter accounts. Their platform is an empty wagon: making a lot of noise, and doing nothing.

Idiocracy” did not take 500 years of political Entropy: it just took the desperation of a party that sees its power waning, and is clinging to power at all cost, even if that wage paid is the republic.

“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
― Bertrand Russell

Uhura to Proctor…

Topics: NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight, SpaceX, Star Trek

Dr. King revealed to Nichols that TOS was the only show that he and his wife, Coretta, allowed their little children to stay up and watch. Further, he told Nichols what the show meant to him personally and detailed the importance of her having created a character with “dignity and knowledge.” Nichols took it all in and finally said, “Thank you so much, Dr. King. I’m really going to miss my co-stars.” Dr. King’s smile, Nichols recalled, vanished from his face.

“He said, ‘What are you talking about?'” the actress explained. “I told him. He said, ‘You cannot,’ and so help me, this man practically repeated verbatim what Gene said. He said, ‘Don’t you see what this man is doing, who has written this? This is the future. He has established us as we should be seen. Three hundred years from now, we are here. We are marching. And this is the first step. When we see you, we see ourselves, and we see ourselves as intelligent and beautiful and proud.’ He goes on and I’m looking at him and my knees are buckling. I said, ‘I…, I…’ And he said, ‘You turn on your television and the news comes on and you see us marching and peaceful, you see the peaceful civil disobedience, and you see the dogs and see the fire hoses, and we all know they cannot destroy us because we are there in the 23rd century.’

Nichelle Nichols Remembers Dr. King, the StarTrek.com staff

Note: At this posting, she made history yesterday.

Sian Proctor is making history as the first-ever Black female spacecraft pilot. 

Proctor, a geoscientist, artist and science communicator, has been paving the way in the space sector for decades. Now, years after being a finalist in NASA’s astronaut candidate program back in 2009, she is realizing her dream of becoming an astronaut as she launches to orbit with the Inspiration4 mission tonight (Sept. 15).

While the mission itself is making history as the first all-civilian mission to launch to orbit, Proctor is accomplishing a major first herself as the first Black female spacecraft pilot. 

“I’m really grateful to be here and to have this opportunity,” Proctor said Sept. 14 during a news conference with reporters. “There have been three Black female astronauts that have made it to space, and knowing that I’m going to be the fourth means that I have this opportunity to not only accomplish my dream, but also inspire the next generation of women of color and girls of color and really get them to think about reaching for the stars and what that means.”

Sian Proctor makes history with SpaceX’s Inspiration4 as first-ever Black female spacecraft pilot, Chelsea Gohd, Space.com

Thorium…

Topics: Alternate Energy, Climate Change, Nuclear Power, Thorium

The Royal Society of Chemistry: Thorium (named for a certain Marvel character).

If China’s experimental reactor is a success it could lead to commercialization and help the nation meet its climate goals.

Scientists are excited about an experimental nuclear reactor using thorium as fuel, which is about to begin tests in China. Although this radioactive element has been trialed in reactors before, experts say that China is the first to have a shot at commercializing the technology.

The reactor is unusual in that it has molten salts circulating inside it instead of water. It has the potential to produce nuclear energy that is relatively safe and cheap, while also generating a much smaller amount of very long-lived radioactive waste than conventional reactors.

Construction of the experimental thorium reactor in Wuwei, on the outskirts of the Gobi Desert, was due to be completed by the end of August — with trial runs scheduled for this month, according to the government of Gansu province.

Thorium is a weakly radioactive, silvery metal found naturally in rocks, and currently has little industrial use. It is a waste product of the growing rare-earth mining industry in China and is, therefore, an attractive alternative to imported uranium, say researchers.

China prepares to test thorium-fueled nuclear reactor, Smriti Mallapaty, Nature

J0030…

The pulsar J0030 appears to have two to three hotspots on its southern hemisphere only – a finding astronomers didn’t expect.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab
(animation on the page link below)

Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, NASA, Neutron Stars, Pulsars

NASA’s NICER instrument reveals that neutron stars are not as simple as we thought.

Pulsars are the lighthouses of the universe. These tiny, compact objects are neutron stars — the remnants of once-massive stars — that spin rapidly, beaming radiation into space. Now, for the first time, astronomers have mapped the surface of a 16-mile-wide pulsar in exquisite detail. The discovery calls into question astronomers’ textbook depiction of pulsar appearance and opens the door to learning more about these extreme objects.

The Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer, or NICER, searches for X-rays from extreme astronomical objects such as pulsars from its perch on the exterior of the International Space Station. Researchers used NICER to observe the pulsar J0030+0451, or J0030 for short, which is located 1,100 light-years away in the constellation Pisces, in a series of papers published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Two teams, one led by researchers at the University of Amsterdam and the other by researchers at the University of Maryland, used X-ray light from J0030 to map the pulsar’s surface and calculate its mass. Both teams arrived at a conclusion that was unexpected.

A New Picture

What the teams found presented a different picture: J0030 has two or three hotspots, all of which are located in the southern hemisphere. The researchers at the University of Amsterdam believe the pulsar has one small, circular spot and one thin, crescent-shaped spot spinning around its lower latitudes. The University of Maryland team discovered that the X-rays could be coming from two oval spots in the star’s southern hemisphere, as well as one cooler spot near the star’s south pole.

Neither result is the simple picture astronomers expected, indicating that the pulsar’s magnetic field, which causes the hotspots, is likely even more complex than originally assumed. While the result certainly leaves astronomers wondering, “It tells us NICER is on the right path to help us answer an enduring question in astrophysics: What form does matter take in the ultra-dense cores of neutron stars?” NICER science lead and study co-author Zaven Arzoumanian said in a press release.

Astronomers Map a Neutron Star’s Surface for the First Time, Ignat, I Love the Universe

The Eye of Horus…

The Eye of Providence, Wikipedia. Not a conspiracy theorist, but greed, not mutual survival by cooperation, is how we got where we are.

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming, Human Rights, Politics

Note: Because certain states are tied umbilically to coal, fossil fuels, and natural gas, this is a quandary. The same industry that’s known about this problem since 1979 (my senior year in high school) hired the same law firms that obfuscated the risk of lung cancer to so many Americans, one of them, my father, whose death was from the accumulated damage to his lungs from a lifetime of smoking. Washington lobbyists are there to push an agenda for the companies they represent that have an influence on Capitol Hill lawmakers. They have a seat at the Paris Climate Accords because the goal of Capitalism is to maximize profits, sadly, at the sacrifice of the ground under our feet.

“Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.”

― Cree Indian Prophecy

The majority of the planet’s fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if the world wants even half a chance—literally—at meeting its most ambitious climate targets.

A new study published yesterday in the journal Nature found that 60 percent of oil and natural gas, and a whopping 90 percent of coal, must remain unextracted and unused between now and 2050 in order for the world to have at least a 50 percent shot at limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

These results are broadly consistent with the findings of numerous recent reports, from the United Nations, the International Energy Agency, and others, which have “all provided evidence that dramatic cuts in fossil fuel production are required immediately in order to move towards limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees,” said Dan Welsby, a researcher at University College London and lead author of the study, at a press conference announcing the results.

Under the Paris climate agreement, nations are working to keep global temperatures within 2 C of their preindustrial levels, and within 1.5 C if at all possible. Research suggests that the effects of climate change—melting ice, rising seas, more extreme weather, and so on—will be worse at 2 C than at 1.5 C, and worse still at higher temperatures. These targets are an attempt to limit the consequences of global warming as much as possible.

Yet studies increasingly suggest that the 1.5 C target is looming closer and closer.

The world has already warmed by more than a degree Celsius since the start of the industrial era, which began about 150 years ago. A landmark U.N. report on climate change, released last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warned that the 1.5 C mark could be reached within two decades.

To have even a 50 percent chance of meeting the target, the U.N. report suggests, the world can emit only about 460 billion metric tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s another 12 years or so of emissions at the rate at which the world is currently going.

That means global carbon emissions need to fall sharply, and immediately, in order to meet the goal.

Abandoning 60 Percent of Global Oil and Gas Might Limit Warming to 1.5 C, Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American

De Facto Secession…

How We Got Here: A timeline of the removal of the Lee monument, NBC12 on your side.

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Democracy, Fascism, History, Human Rights

Fourteenth Amendment
Section 3
No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Constitution.Congress.gov/Amendment 14/Section 3

If Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment had been followed, no statue of a traitorous general would exist on Virginia’s Monument Avenue to take down.

The first “Big Lie” was the lost cause narrative that made saints of sinners, heroes of traitors. The unfortunate assassination of President Lincoln left us with his Democrat (the conservative party at the time) successor, Raleigh, North Carolina native Andrew Johnson that pulled the troops protecting newly freed African Americans, gave cover to domestic terrorists like the Ku Klux Klan, and de facto inaugurated Jim Crow.

The first “Big Lie” erected totems in a fever-pitch construction project to NOT face the consequences of losing the Civil War. The “lost cause” was proffered by the Daughters of the Confederacy. The north was “aggressors” that invaded the south because of “their way of life”: owning [human] chattel.

Georgia

The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic.

Mississippi

A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union.

In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery— the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.

Battlefields.org: The Declaration of Causes of Seceding States (Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia)

“Big Lies” metastasize, mutate: grow. Like the Coronavirus, if a vaccine is not discovered, if the truth does not curse the darkness of willful ignorance, it will find paths of lethality.

According to Battlefields.org, the Civil War cost an estimated 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers.

The 1918 Flu Pandemic cost 675,000 in the US, and 50 million worldwide.

The current once-in-a-century apocalypse is 4,619,721 worldwide, 674,515 in the US. We have blown past the Civil War. We will exceed the 1918 pandemic before Thanksgiving.

A “march” next Saturday will celebrate a mob hellbent on overturning an election as “patriots.” The Capitol Police has monitored, and seen credible online traffic suggesting violence. One point: the Million Man March in 1995, led by Louis Farrakhan did not result in violence, bear spray, deaths, or police officer suicide.

The unvaccinated are the offspring of the first “Big Lie,” making possible the second lie, and its afterbirth, insurrection, and likely insurgency. Lies unchallenged lead to death: Fox Propaganda pushed ivermectin – a de-wormer for horses, cattle, dogs, and ironically: sheep – over a safe vaccine that has proven itself to save lives.

The Forty-Sixth President of the United States will commemorate the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 by visiting the sites of the attack in Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, and New York in a solemn ceremony. The loser of the 2020 election, lamenting the removal of a traitor’s statue on Monument Avenue, so needy of attention that he cannot “fade away” will with his equally nauseous, narcissistic hellspawn, who couldn’t stay married to the mother of his five children “comment” on an Evander Holyfield demonstration match. No one can enjoy the performance of a preening popinjay except psychopaths. “Hail to the thief.”

I’ve lived 55 years in the South, and I grew up liking the Confederate flag. I haven’t flown one for many decades, but for a reason that might surprise you.

I know the South well. We lived wherever the Marine Corps stationed my father: Georgia, Virginia, the Carolinas. As a child, my favorite uncle wasn’t in the military, but he did pack a .45 caliber Thompson submachine gun in his trunk. He was a leader in the Ku Klux Klan. Despite my role models, as a kid, I was an inept racist. I got in trouble once in the first grade for calling a classmate the N-word. But he was Hispanic.

As I grew up and acquired the strange sensation called empathy (strange for boys anyway), I learned that for black folks the flutter of that flag felt like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. And for the most prideful flag waivers, clearly, that response was the point. I mean, come on. It’s a battle flag.

What the flag symbolizes for blacks is enough reason to take it down. But there’s another reason that white southerners shouldn’t fly it. Or sport it on our state-issued license plates as some do here in North Carolina. The Confederacy – and the slavery that spawned it – was also one big con job on the Southern, white, working class. A con job funded by some of the antebellum one-per-centers, continues today in a similar form.

You don’t have to be an economist to see that forcing blacks – a third of the South’s laborers – to work without pay drove down wages for everyone else. And not just in agriculture. A quarter of enslaved blacks worked in the construction, manufacturing, and lumbering trades; cutting wages even for skilled white workers.

The Confederacy was a con job on whites. And still is. By Frank Hyman

“If you’re black, you were born in jail, in the North as well as the South. Stop talking about the South. [As] long as you are south of the Canadian border, you’re [in the] south.” Malcolm X, “The Ballot or The Bullet (Detroit Version)”. Malcolm X’s speech at a meeting sponsored by the Congress for Racial Equality in Detroit, Michigan, April 12, 1964.

“Big Lies” metastasize, mutate: grow. “Big Lies” cause secessions, historical, or de facto through denial of history, science, climate change, vaccines, the age of the earth, or the universe. “Big Lies” cause insurrections: 1861, and 2021. “Big Lies” is the result of cowardice in not facing who we have been in our history, and thus be surprised at where we as a nation are going. “Big Lies” drive fearful citizens in Appalachia to alcoholism, obesity, opioid addiction. Fear of an uncertain future leads to fascism in rural America, longing for the “good old days” that for people of color, never existed. “Big Lies” halt the 2020 Census to the chagrin that the demographic time bomb set when this nation needed free, and low-wage workers to practice their especially sadistic, and brutal kind of capitalism are Chaucer and Malcolm’s “chickens that have come home to roost.”

“Big Lies” drive out-of-work coal miners in West Virginia or Kentucky, and the ever-changing, and diversifying South to put their hopes in a reality show carnival barker, six bankruptcy, five deferments, fake bone spurs, failed fake universities, crumbling real estate empire magnate from New York City. “Big Lies” is suicidal for a republic.

If there is a lesson in all of this it is that our Constitution is neither a self-actuating nor a self-correcting document. It requires the constant attention and devotion of all citizens. There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: “A republic, if you can keep it.” The brevity of that response should not cause us to undervalue its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.

Perspectives on The Constitution: “A republic, if you can keep it,” By Richard R. Beeman, Ph.D.

Yonder Water Worlds…

Hot and humid The surface of a Hycean planet as interpreted by an artist. (Courtesy: Amanda Smith, University of Cambridge).

Topics: Astrobiology, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Exoplanets, Space Exploration

Hot, ocean-covered exoplanets with hydrogen-rich atmospheres could harbor life and may be more common than planets that are Earth-like in size, temperature, and atmospheric composition. According to astronomers at the University of Cambridge, UK, this newly defined class of exoplanets could boost the search for life elsewhere in the universe by broadening the search criteria and redefining which biosignatures are important.

Astronomers define the habitable or “Goldilocks” zone as the region where an exoplanet is neither too close nor too far from its host star to have liquid water on its surface – water being the perfect solvent for many forms of life. Previous studies of planetary habitability have focused primarily on searching for Earth-like exoplanets and evidence that they could harbor the kind of chemistry found in life on Earth. However, it has so far proven difficult to detect atmospheric signatures from Earth-like planets orbiting Sun-like stars.

Potentially habitable mini-Neptunes

Larger exoplanets are easier to detect than smaller, Earth-sized ones, and exoplanets around 1.6‒4 times bigger than the Earth, with masses of up to 15 Earth masses and temperatures that in some cases exceed 2000 K, are relatively common. These planets are known as mini-Neptunes as they are similar to the ice giant planets in our solar system.

Previous studies suggested that the high pressures and temperatures beneath these planets’ hydrogen-rich atmospheres were incompatible with life. However, based on their analysis of an exoplanet called K2-18b, exoplanet scientist Nikku Madhusudhan and colleagues at Cambridge say that life could, in fact, exist on a subset of mini-Neptunes that meet specific criteria.

This subset, which the researchers dub “Hycean” (hydrogen + ocean) planets, consists of planets that have radii up to 2.6 times larger than Earth’s and are capable of harboring vast oceans under atmospheres dominated by molecular hydrogen and water vapor. Such oceans could cover the whole planet and reach depths greater than the Earth’s oceans, and the researchers say that the conditions within them could be compatible with some forms of Earth-based microbial life. Hycean planets tidally locked with their host star could also exhibit habitable conditions on their permanent night side.

Astronomers define new class of potentially habitable ocean worlds, Chaneil James, Physics World