Snips of Science, Tech and Politics

Think I’m kidding about “sousveillance” and people-power vision? Now citizen protesters have drones! This video shows the view from a Polish RoboKopter with video camera. Getting an aerial view is the next step in compelling DIY citizen video.

== Antimatter and FTL Neutrinos? ==

The world’s largest atom smasher, designed as a portal to a new view of physics, has produced its first peek at the unexpected: bits of matter that don’t mirror the behavior of their antimatter counterparts.  This could alter our understanding of matter and anti-matter…or provide a clue to why our cosmos is only made (largely) of one kind.

And yes, there’s been a lot of interest in the recent neutrino experiments in Italy. Does a recent result that replicates the “faster-than-light finding” actually prove it??

Well, I remain skeptical.

1- this new result comes from the same pair of facilities in the alps and Italy; it’s not a confirmation.

2- it’s very hard to synch the clocks.  Show me you’ve done that and measured the distance properly.

3-  if neutrinos traveled FTL with any consistency they would have arrived months before the light from supernova 1987a, instead of right on time.

One suggestion that would explain the 1987a results, yet allow something anomalous over the very short, initial distance from Switzerland to Italy? It’s been suggested that perhaps some neutrinos bump out of our “brane” just after being made, then settle back in and travel normally. Very sci fi-ish idea.

== The Abortion fight … and the Bible ==

Mississippi voters recently defeated a ballot initiative proclaiming that life begins at conception. Here’s an eye-opening letter in the LA Times by Sandy Smith… and one wonders why this wasn’t brought up till now!

I don’t know what Bible the folks in Mississippi are reading, but it’s not one I’m familiar with. The New Testament has no references at all to a fetus, but the Old Testament is very specific. If a man kills another man, he must pay with his life; if he kills an animal, he must offer restitution. But, according to Exodus 21:22: “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows.” A fetus was considered potential property.

I say again, the whole and entire purpose of the anti-abortion crusade was to give the right a “moral high ground.” It lets them say “saving babies trumps all other things that would’ve made that hippie Jesus side with the left! That one issue makes Jesus side with us!”  An extremely effective polemical trick.

== Political matters ==

The IRS has opened new enforcement offices overseas, beefed up staffing and expanded cooperation with foreign governments. A similar disclosure program in 2009 has so far netted $2.2 billion in back taxes, penalties and fines, from people with accounts in 140 countries.

Between the two disclosure programs, a total of 30,000 tax cheats have come clean. “The world has clearly changed,” IRS Commissioner Shulman said. “We have pierced international bank secrecy laws, and we’re making a serious dent in offshore tax evasion… Unlike a few years ago, it’s very clear now that there’s a real price to be paid for people who think they can hide offshore and not pay their taxes.”

You’ll be hearing the “class war” refrain for years. Gather some capsule, one-sentence answers:

* Across 6000 years, 99% of human cultures were pyramid-shaped, and the owner-lords were the ones who oppressed both freedom and competitive markets. Try reading Adam Smith!  So why this effort to demonize every elite EXCEPT the lords?

* Only one generation of human beings did not know “class warfare” – the Post-World War II generation that lived in the miracle that FDR built – a vigorous capitalist-entrepreneurial market and booming middle class… amid the flattest non-pyramidal social order ever seen. The first time ever that self-made millionaires outnumbered the inheritance brats.

Sure, some FDR regulations were excessive. But it worked.  The crux: as the anti-FDR cult gre and tore down everything he built… all three of those metrics have diametrically reversed. This is good… how?

Why are people who make grand pronouncements so unwilling to let their opinions change, when shown the failure of their predictions?

* Tell us how to avoid “class war” now that 400 families own a greater share of our wealth than 50% of Americans. Is there some disparity that would finally make you worry? When they own more than 75%…Perhaps more than 90%? WHEN will you admit that we’ve returned to the normal condition that reigned in 99% of human cultures? THEN will you admit that FDR wasn’t Satan?

All right, some of that sounds “liberal.” I guess I’ll be accused of that leaning even more, after my next posting about Ayn Rand.  But I promise, I’ll skewer some on the other side, soon.

6 Comments

Filed under science, society

6 responses to “Snips of Science, Tech and Politics

  1. sftheory1

    Interesting stuff. I would love to see how the Right explains dismantling FDR’s New Deal was “best for the country” given the data presented.

  2. Andrew

    FDR had little to do with the postwar boom. Most industrial societies were destroyed and the US enjoyed about 1-2 decades of virtually no competition and a 90% homogenous and socially cohesive and patriotic) culture.

    The fact that those once in an epoch same conditions don’t exist today has nothing to do with conservatives tearing down FDR.

    You and others need to admit to the fact that the only countries that exist that are remotely like the US in the 50’s are Singapore (one party technocratic rule of law) Switzerland (radical decentralization) and the Scandinavian countries with some US states like ND, SD, MN, VT (90% + white and high social cohesion) thrown in.

  3. We may never have a “clean” picture of the effects of FDR’s policies because FDR cannot be separated from WW2, and WW2 was an event that altered the economies of the world — all of them — at once. If WW2 had never happened, or if it had happened and the U.S. had taken a neutral path, how might things have been different? We don’t know. FDR seems to be lionized in much the same way Reagan is lionized, only by different sectors of the politically wonkish populace. Some economic historians believe Roosevelt’s New Deal prolonged and exacerbated the Depression, instead of ending it. Others disagree. It’s difficult to know for sure because we cannot “re-run” history under different scenarios to see how things might have played out otherwise.

    Also, I’m not sure how you strip the “400 families” of their 50% share of the wealth without severe confiscatory “death tax” measures which essentially prevent those families from passing their assetts on to their children and grandchildren. Would this be fair to 1st-generation entrepeneurial millionaires or billionaires? Like Jeff Bezos? Especially the ones who have created businesses that grow jobs and industry in the country, versus merely taking a cut every time money and material changes hands?

    I think this is a dangerous time for America and Americans, because there is and will continue to be a strong, reactionary mood. People are liable to make decisions, create policy, and cast votes without considering the unintended (potential) consequences of overarching or radical policy reform. In many ways we’re still grappling with policies which have not changed since FDR and WW2. Do we overturn the whole enchilada and “reset,” as it were? Or will the fallout from the “resetting” create more economic strife and division than it’s intended to solve?

  4. You folks have raised strawmen in order to evade the issues.

    1- FDR was insanely popular among the generation that right wing nostalgists call the ‘greatest’. Given that they adored him and they knew far more about the facts of the time and the alternatives than you do, is it right to equate him with satan?

    Indeed, the direct outcome of three huge positives… booming capitalism, flat social hierarchies and and a booming middle cleass mean that those who disdain FDR BEAR THE BURDEN OF PROOF. It is not the other way around,.We do not have to prove he did it all and prove him right. YOUR cult of hatred toward the man our parents adored is the thing that bears the burden of proof.

    The alternative… Supply Side ‘economics’ has been pushed as a cult for 40 years without a single prediction ever ever ever coming true. as every FDR era procesdure was demolished… some for \good reason!… what has been the net result?

    EVERY single one of those three main traits has collapsed. the middle class is collapsing, social hierarchies are roaring back and capital enterprise is sinking fast, under the control of oligarchs.

    Sorry, but the Hate-FDR cult religion is exactly what \i just called it. a cult.

  5. Who called FDR ‘satan?’ Certainly I did not. I did pose the question: would FDR’s policies have been successful without the events of World War II? Likewise, would FDR have been as popular, historically, without WWII?

    FDR is arguably one of the most compelling and interesting American President’s of the 20th century. Reagan, Wilson, and Kennedy might be the only others from the previous hundred years who approach FDR, in terms of lasting impact within our society. Of course, FDR’s time in office had its share of blunders. The interning of Japenese Americans — and some civilian Germans and Italians — under executive orders 9066 and 9102, will live forever as Roosevelt’s most glaring mistake. No President before or since has done anything like it — in terms of scale, and in terms of the wholesale stripping of lawful citizens of their rights, and their property.

    Also, not every aspect of the New Deal has been abolished. We still have the FDIC, the SEC, and Social Security. These things are so set in stone it’s probable they will never leave us. Likewise, FDR’s interventionalism abroad, which was really just Wilsonianism warmed over, has never left us either. Which is why the U.S. has military installations on nearly every continent, and a globe-spanning naval fleet unmatched in history.

    I think it’s possible to hold a historic President in high regard, while still acknowleding that he did things wrong, or that some of his decisions have had unintended negative consequences long after his departure. Classifying FDR critics as “cultists” seems unfair, and two-dimensional. JMHO.

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