Monday, December 17, 2018

Radical Right Wing TX Judge Tries To Smite Obamacare - Can It Be Destroyed?

By now,  most citizens are aware of the news that a radical right wing nut masquerading as a federal judge -  Reed O’Connor -   has issued a ruling to strike down all aspects of the ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare.   Well, we already knew Texas was the home of right wing assassins who plotted (and succeeded)  in taking out JFK in Big D, but who would have reckoned that some 55 years later a  right wing Texas judicial assassin would try to take out 133 million Americans?  Because effectively, all those millions will be left without a medical pot to piss in if this travesty is upheld.

Let's reference that in historical memory the Right's zealots have always bitched about the Left's "activist judges" who they somehow believe constantly interject themselves to settle political disputes best left to congress.   But I warrant not one of the Right's wackos will so much as whisper criticism of this rogue judge who - in the words of two law professors writing in the NY Times-  has conducted "an exercise of raw judicial power, unmoored from the relevant doctrines concerning when judges may strike down a whole law because of a single alleged legal infirmity buried within."

Yet this asshole, another of the extremist mutants  (along with Brett Kavanaugh) inserted into the federal bench by Gee Dumbya Bush, did it.  To grasp what's going on we need to take a stroll down memory lane as regards the ACA, especially in the past year and a half. As readers may recall, the Reeptards were hell bent - following Traitor Dotard's lead - to repeal the entire law. They wanted it more than anything on God's green earth, and actually came within one vote of succeeding in the Senate.

This was by way of what came to be known as "the skinny repeal".  This would have eliminated the individual mandate, the least popular provision of the ACA that requires all Americans to have health insurance or face a fine. It would also remove the employer mandate, requiring certain businesses to provide health insurance to employees, as well as a tax on medical device manufacturers. But, more importantly, it would not touch the Medicaid program for the poor (hence the 'skinny' aspect) .  Bear in mind here that one of the key bases of the ACA was Medicaid expansion in dozens of states.

If this measure had passed the Senate with a simple majority, it would then have entered a conference committee with the House, where Republicans could have reconciled the differences and produced a larger repeal-and-replace measure . (Most likely including Medicaid.)  They could immediately claim 'victory' and that they succeeded in what they set out to do: repeal Obamacare (at least minimally).

This did not happen because Sen. John McCain entered the Senate chamber at the last minute and cast the deciding 'no' vote, killing the cynical skinny repeal effort. The Repukes never forgave or forgot this betrayal, and most regarded McCain as a latter day Benedict Arnold.

Long story short, unable to get the votes to repeal the entire law, the Reeptard Congress just zeroed in on  the tax  penalty, aiming to eliminate it. Again, recall that in 2012 the Supreme Court upheld this penalty as an exercise of Congress’s taxing power.   Justice Roberts, in fact, wrote the decision for the five justices in favor.

Backed into a corner like rats, the Repukes did the only other thing they could, fabricate a specious lawsuit to kill the tax penalty.  Given the traitor Trump administration refused to stand up for any part of the law - even cutting back funding for advertising the ACA-  all that was needed to upend it was one renegade  judge to rule against it.  In such an event the whole thing would come crashing down, including the popular parts, i.e. youngsters able to stay on their parents' plan until age 26, and protection for those with preexisting conditions.

Well, the Repukes got their wishes fulfilled when loose cannon judge Reed O'Connor ruled the ACA was "unconstitutional"  and hence the whole law needed to come down.  Right wing screwballs salivating to take down yet another Obama legacy point had endless wet dreams.

 The rest as they say is history, with Texas and and 19 other Reep- dominated states arguing in their junk lawsuit that with zero penalty, the mandate lacked a constitutional basis because it could no longer be enforced via a tax.   The little element they appeared to forget is that under the ninth amendment, health care is a right, one of what we call unenumerated rights of the Bill of the Rights. They forgot that tax penalty or no tax penalty, mandate or not,  you cannot repeal a right using a subterfuge such as invoked by this idiot judge.

But compounding their hubris and disrespect for the ninth amendment-    the  20 rogue states (and the Texas renegade judge O’Connor )   argued  -  that the rest of Obamacare must fall, too. They claimed that the mandate was so central to the A.C.A. that nothing else in it could operate without it.  Of course this is nonsense, because the whole edifice is predicated on health care being an unenumerated right under the ninth amendment. So merely dispatching the tax penalty from the law is immaterial to the centrality of the right.  The right still stands, even if there is no tax penalty.  Indeed, the inference is that the optimal way to validate the right is to maximize health care for all, which would be a single payer system.

Further, the U.S. is a signatory to a 1994 UN Declaration that health care is indeed a right.  But there is a more technical legal basis on which the judge's ruling can also be rejected. It was articulated by two law professors- Jonathan Adler and Abbie Gluck- writing in the NY Times three days ago.   According to the pair:

"That’s not how the relevant law works. An established legal principle called “severability” is triggered when a court must consider what happens to a statute when one part of it is struck down. The principle presumes that, out of respect for the separation of powers, courts will leave the rest of the statute standing unless Congress makes clear it did not intend for the law to exist without the challenged provision. This is not a liberal principle or a conservative principle. It is an uncontroversial rule that every Supreme Court justice in modern history has applied.

Sometimes severability cases are difficult because it is hard to guess how much importance Congress attributed to one provision, especially in a lengthy law like the Affordable Care Act. But this is an easy case: It was Congress, not a court, that eliminated the mandate penalty and left the rest of the statute in place. How can a court conclude that Congress never intended the rest of the statute to exist without an operational mandate, when it was the 2017 Congress itself that decided it was fine to eliminate the penalty and leave the rest of the law intact?"

The pair went on to note that in his vapid  55-page opinion  O’Connor claimed that we  "cannot divine the intent of the 2017 Congress because Congress didn’t have the votes to repeal the entire law but wished it could".   But as they retort:

"That’s ridiculous. Congressional intent is all about the votes. One would not say Congress wished it could repeal the Civil Rights Act if only a minority of Congress supported such a move. It is conservative judicial doctrine 101, as repeatedly emphasized by Justice Antonin Scalia, that the best way to understand congressional intent is to look at the text Congress was able to get through the legislative process."

Profs. Adler and Gluck then ruminate on what happens next, asserting that,  despite this reckless ruling,  the ACA is likely to continue in place while the case moves to the higher courts.   They predict that  the appeal will almost certainly end up in the Fifth Circuit — the federal appellate court that presides over Texas-  with California and other states defending it.   The Dem-controlled  House of Representatives will also likely join the lawsuit, and I would not exclude the possibility of Reed O'Connor being subpoenaed  before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions on his decision.  It's possible!

If the Fifth Circuit reverses Renegade Reed O’Connor, the authors think it unlikely the Supreme Court will take the case.  Why would they when the Supremes already supported the law (including the mandate)  back in 2012?  If the Fifth Circuit upholds the ruling, possible with two new activist justices (Gorsuch and Kavanagh) the authors are skeptical a majority of the  highest court would sustain this weak analysis.  Besides, it would roil the insurance markets and whole health care system as 20 million Americans would lose their health care, while premiums could rise as much as 25 percent for others, according to the analysis on CBS Early Show this a.m. by financial specialist Jill Schlesinger.

On the other hand, as Ms. Schlesinger pointed out, this ruling doesn't change anything for your coverage during 2019 IF you already enrolled.  She also added, for those who haven't decided whether or not to enroll yet:

"If you are considering this, don't listen to this and say 'oh, I shouldn't enroll'. You absolutely should enroll, and again, your coverage will be intact for 2019."
Let's also note, as the  law profs have, that Chief Justice John Roberts is sensitive to allowing the court to be an instrument of politics, particularly when doing so violates separation of powers. Justice Brett Kavanaugh is an expert on statutory interpretation who has previously said that courts should “sever an offending provision from the statute to the narrowest extent possible unless Congress has indicated otherwise in the text of the statute.

Hell, even the least qualified supreme, Clarence Thomas,  has opined that the kind of hypothesizing on which O’Connor relied is inappropriate:.  Congress’s intentions “do not count,” he wrote earlier this year, unless they are “enshrined” in a text that made it through the “constitutional processes of bicameralism and presentment”.

Even the reactionary WSJ editorial writers agree that O'Connor blew it ('Texas ObamaCare Blunder', p. A16, today) noting  "this judge's ruling will be overturned and could backfire on Republicans" adding:

"When judging congressional intent, a  judge must account for the amending congress as well the original congress..... In any case, the Supreme Court's severability doctrine calls for restraint in declaring an entire law illegal merely because one part of it is"  

Whatever the outcome, this issue has already become a political nightmare for the 'pukes, -even forcing them to go on the campaign trail before the midterms and posture and lie about keeping the best parts of the ACA.  Of course, they were disingenuous to the core given most of these hypocrites had signed onto the lawsuit attacking the ACA even as they vowed to keep the most important provisions, such as allowing preexisting conditions.

And the Kaiser Family Foundation has since found in its latest poll that fully 65 percent of Americans believe "it's very important"  that insurers don't deny Americans coverage based on their health.

Another little aspect neglected: Repukes have yet to come up with a viable replacement for the ACA.  A key aspect they omit is that a mandate is needed for any feasible insurance plan, given that costs can only be controlled if the young and healthy are pooled with the old, sick and unhealthy..  But with no mandate and no penalty there is no reason for the young and healthy to comply.   Then insurers are stuck with a vastly sicker and more expensive consumer base.

In the end the Reeptards and this Reeptardo renegade judge are hoist on their own petards.  So is Dotard Donnie who bragged while lollygagging at Mar-a-lago how "great" this judge's decision is, and oh "we will now have a great health care system".    Sorry, fool, those are two contradictory notions. Given the country's skittishness concerning "socialized" single payer health care, Obamacare is the next best option and every manjack with an IQ over room temperature digits knows it.  Well, except Trump and his lackey judge in Texas.  As the WSJ editorial writers put it (ibid.): "Trump hailed the ruling in a tweet, but he has never understood the Affordable Care Act."

Begging the question: Does this fungal mutt fouling the Oval Office really understand anything?  I doubt it!

See also:

by P.M. Carpenter | December 16, 2018 - 7:14am | permalink

Friday, December 14, 2018

Selected Questions - Answers From All Experts Astronomy Forum (The H-R Diagram)

Question: Can you please explain the H-R diagram and how it's used?  - Marie E.,  Brattleboro, VT

Answer:     For reference, examples of two H-R diagrams are shown below:

Fig. 1: The basic Hertzsprung-Russell diagram with absolute magnitude v. spectral class.

Fig. 2: H-R Diagram showing the evolutionary track for our Sun. The 'dot' at spectral class G2 indicates its current position on the Main Sequence - the domain for stable stars.

As you can see, the H-R diagram, for Hertzsprung-Russell diagram (after the two astronomers that first devised it), is a graphic tool we use to assess the comparative properties of stars, i.e in terms of temperature, brightness. It is also used to study stellar evolution, or how a star evolves over time (in the case of Fig. 2).

A basic H-R diagram is shown in Fig. 1.  There are two “quality dimensions”, displayed on the vertical axis and on the horizontal. In this case, the “Absolute magnitude” value on the vertical represents a measure of absolute brightness ( denoted M, and doubles as an index for what we call Luminosity (right scale). In terms of absolute magnitude the lower the value, the greater the brightness. The scale is also logarithmic, so that a star of (-10) say will always be 100 times brighter than a star of (-5). So five magnitudes difference in M corresponds to 100 times brightness ratio. Thus, every single magnitude arithmetic difference will be a ratio of 2.512 times.

The other quality dimension is the horizontal axis which is labeled in capital letters associated with the spectral class. In terms of this lettering, class O stars are always the hottest, and class M the coolest. Thus, we can double the spectral class as a temperature scale (top of diagram). Within this representation framework all the key domains - star colors, star ages, star distances, star energy use, can be integrated and depicted in their relations if one can interpret the quality axes properly and use them in specific ways.

How does distance enter? Well, the absolute magnitude is defined in terms of the brightness –magnitude a given star has at a distance of 10 parsecs, or 32.6 light years. Thus, the M-value allows comparison of stellar brightness at a standard distance.

Stellar ages enter via the star’s evolutionary track (sketched in Fig. 2 for the Sun, as a wavy thin line) and depicts the nature of its departure from a band called “the Main Sequence” – with the latter being the superposed domain for all stable stars.  By stable we mean the outer gas or radiation pressure is balanced by the inward directed gravitational force, which we write mathematically as:

dP/dr = - G M(r) r / r2

When only ten percent hydrogen remains (X= 0.10, Y = 0.87, Z = 0.03 for heavier element fractional abundances, say), the Sun is no longer able to generate sufficient energy from its core nuclear reactions to balance the weight of overlying layers. According to a well-known physical principle (the virial theorem), the Sun’s core must contract. The contraction converts gravitational potential energy into thermal (heat) energy that heats the core. By now, hydrogen burning has moved to a peripheral shell around the core, and is ignited by the core heating process. The ignition creates radiation pressure that forces the outer shells, layers to expand. This same radiation, however, is now emitted from a much larger surface area. The result of this combination of circumstances is that the Sun becomes a Red Giant.  Finally, when all the nuclear fuel is exhausted, e.g. X= Y =0, the outer gaseous envelope is expelled and the remnant Sun contracts to the white dwarf stage.  This renders it with a mass nearly equal to the original Sun but with volume now roughly that of Earth.

In effect, this form of H-R diagram enables us to input relative abundances of key elements, say X for hydrogen, Y for helium, and  even Z for heavier, and see how these alter the evolutionary path at ny given time.  The more general H-R diagram enables us to compare the differing properties of stars - especially on the Main Sequence. These include the luminosity, mass and even radius.  In the case of a star much more massive than the Sun (say more than ten times the solar mass), pre-Main Sequence collapse also occurs within an interstellar gas and dust cloud, but the Main Sequence is joined at a higher position, corresponding to greater luminosity. Astronomers have determined a basic empirical relation for mass and luminosity to be the "mass-luminosity relation", i.e.:

L’/L = (M’/M)3.5

Or Log (L’/L) = 3.5 Log (M’/M)

where L, M refer to solar luminosity and mass  values and L', M' to stellar values.  

That is, the luminosity is proportional to the mass raised to the 3.5 power. What this also means is that the massive star initiates its Main Sequence lifetime at higher temperatures, including higher core temperatures. And like a fast-living human, its energy is consumed much more rapidly, so the course and duration of evolution is dramatically speeded up.   These insights and data derived from more complex mass and radiation parameters, also enable us to predict the fusion reactions which apply for a star of given mass.

As you can see, the H-R diagram is of immense value in studying stellar properties as well as stellar evolution in extraordinary detail.  This makes it an indispensable tool for theoretical astrophysics, as well as solar physics.

Parameters for Post- College Earning Power: Do They Really Matter?

Image may contain: text

In a remarkable WSJ piece from last week ('Making College Pay Off'), it was noted that about "40 percent of students who enroll in 4-year colleges and universities don't graduate within six years."  Not mentioned, but even more incredible, is that  55 percent of freshmen who started (e.g. in 2015, the most recent year for which data are available) quit college a year later. This represents a stupendous loss of income potential as the graphs below show.
No automatic alt text available.

We see here that college grads on average earn about $1 million more than their high school educated peers over a lifetime. This is a huge difference and reinforces the importance of higher education beyond high school.  But less emphasized is how so many college grads remain under-employed, i.e. working in jobs that don't require a degree.  According to studies by  Burning Glass Technologies, even 10 years after graduation, 32 percent of college grads end up with jobs that don't require a degree (See also the top graph).  But temporary frosh who quit soon after entry, or fail to complete even half their bachelors' degree requirements are even worse off. Is it any wonder that now that many parents are considering "graduation insurance?"   So, just as you'd cover your vehicle with auto insurance, you cover your kid's potential failure to graduate college with analogous insurance.

All of these stats - as well as graduation insurance-  are pertinent given the total accumulated student loan debt passes $1.5 trillion (ibid.).  Also, "recent graduates with debt owe on average more than twice as much as they did 20 years ago" - this according to the Institute for College Access and Success.

Clearly also, the selection of major plays a role in the graduates future economic prospects. According to an earlier piece,

Some 43% of College Grads Are Underemployed in First Job - WSJ

 43 percent of grads are underemployed after college. The least affected major appears to be engineering with only a 29 percent probability of underemployment - described as "the best outcome for any major". By contrast the biomedical and biological sciences have a 51 percent probability of being underemployed, and I suspect the same stats apply to physics and astrophysics   See e.g.

 A more distressing stat is that for underemployed college grads in their first job, 2 out of 3 will remain underemployed five years later.   This adds up given the average starting salary for a bachelor's degree holder (requiring a degree) is $46,000 compared to an average of $36,000 for the underemployed grad.

But the question that remains is: Are future financial consequences, i.e. related to underemployment, exclusively a matter of choice of major? According to Robert Kuttner, author of 'Everything for Sale'  (Chapter 3, 'The Market for Labor') this is an oversimplification.    The actual problem in the U.S. job market is structural, with the vast input of commercialism and market forces leading to a plethora of lower quality commercially-oriented jobs and comparatively few  well paying "elite" jobs, such as:  Google techie,  astrophysics researcher, or CDC epidemiologist.  As Kuttner observes (p. 83):

"In today's economy, in contrast to that of the postwar social contract era, when power relations were more symmetrical, many employers treat employees like expendable cogs."

This power asymmetry of the job market is now growing as AI and robots increasingly  intrude into higher paying human jobs. I can cite again the  WSJ  report ('Firms Leave The Bean Counting To The Robots') in the Business and Investing section (p, B5, Oct. 23, 2017)  predicting AI -based systems will soon be taking over CFO and accounting work across the land. That will essentially displace all those humans currently holding such jobs, most of whom have higher- level college degrees (e.g. MBA).

In fact, it will merely be a matter of time before that most 'higher level" work (excluding research) is taken over by AI-robots using quantum computing technology.   And as columnist Jim Hightower has pointed out,  the jobs of "accountants, bank loan officers, and insurance claims adjustors are already falling to the bots"

Why? Because they can calculate more rapidly and more accurately than humans. What about "journalism"? Well, the associated press already uses an AI program to "write thousands of financial articles and sports reports".  Meanwhile, FORBES uses an AI system called  'Quill" to pen its articles.

The point is that not even current jobs requiring a college degree are safe.   
The takeaway here is that in order to secure (relatively speaking) one's future work prospects such that they match the degree level, one needs to establish himself as a power in his own right.  That generally means succeeding in some area of specialization that is deemed so essential that: a) your degree will have to be reckoned into the quality of the job you land, and b) you cannot just be regarded as a dispensable cog by any employer. 

There will still be challenges lying in wait to deal with the ever increasing commercialization of the job market, but the more education, and especially useful (and rare) skills one develops the less likely s/he is to be relegated to underemployment, or worse "right -sized" or downsized. Kuttner himself (ibid.) argues the best course of action is as a high level entrepreneur, but I'd maintain taking the most adaptable research direction - say in astrophysics, or CRISPR technology etc. - could also work.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The "Persistence of Astrology"- Arising From Fear, Insecurity Or Blindness To Bunkum?

The geometrical aspects for the planets defined. (From 'Astrology' by Hugh Arthur, 1979)

In his  recent editorial ('The Persistence of Astrology') in Physics Today,  Charles Day bemoans how the pseudoscience of astrology has persisted through countless decades. This despite its obvious, palpable and loopy means of "divining information about human affairs and terrestrial events" - quoting a Wikipedia piece.  Day then writes:

"It is absurd to assert, as astrologers do, that the planets influence human character and that these influences are stamped on us at the moment of our birth. Isaac Newton was born prematurely on 4 January,  1643. If his mother had carried him to full term, the Sun would have been in Aquarius , not Capricorn, when he emerged from her womb."

He then goes on to cite former Miami Dolphin RB Ricky Williams who's become a firm devotee of astrology, noting:

"Williams's love of astrology is evidently sincere. He finds studying and interpreting the movements of celestial objects to be a source of order, comfort and enlightenment."

Well, then why not go all in, and pursue celestial mechanics, for example?  Well, because the mathematics is yet a whole other order beyond what's used in horological astrology, so a goofball like Williams would not be too interested. It would be beyond his mathematical - or analytical - ability.

But this begs the question of why supposedly sober journalists (Day cites USA Today reporter Josh Peter), make so much ado over Williams's fascination with twaddle.  As Mr. Day writes:

"Peter's USA Today story is devoid of skepticism about astrology. Given how assiduously journalists challenge the claims of politicians, government officials and CEOs, their timidity in the face of astrology's adherents is striking."

Well, to be fair, it might be best not to confuse a guy like Josh Peter - clearly operating in journalism's "softball" domain - with a heavy hitter like Nick Confessore,  the NY Times political correspondent.  Or with  former former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein (who helped break open Watergate.).  Hence, it is most likely true that Peter is paid a whole wage scale lower than Confessore to do basically 'ooh and ah' puffball pieces, like Ricky Williams's fascination with astrology..

More distressing is Prof. Day's  citation of the prevalence of this malarkey in women's magazines, i.e.:

"Lastly, there's the troubling prevalence of horoscopes in women's magazines. In a June post to Examplore, "a site created by spiritual, magical and lore enthusiasts" astrologer Silvia Sky reviewed the horoscopes in newsstand magazines. The best, she wrote, appear in Elle, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Seventeen and Town & Country."


"That horoscopes survive in women's magazines is evidence that the magazines' editors know that their readers appreciate them."

The question is 'Why?' and is it a gender thing, a class thing or perhaps some other aspect at work? If women's magazines in the U.S. are a huge repository of astrological rubbish, I suspect that is due to wanting to fill content with lighter fare that is not necessarily to be taken seriously.  With the torrent of bad news about incessant sexual assaults, the Trump Cabal and its multiple attacks on the nation's fabric, not to mention Republicans' assaults on women's reputations, it makes sense.  Women -  via horoscopes appearing in magazines  -  can get a bit of escapist fare and it kind of serves a therapeutic purpose.  But let's be clear the interest in astrology is not confined to the gentler sex.

I explored many of the reasons in an article 'Astronomy and Astrology' that I wrote for The Barbados Nation back in March, 1976,  (never mind the editor misspelled my surname) e.g.
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

I noted the same prevalence in (then) current magazines on offer, though not necessarily concentrated in "women's magazines."  My point was that the prevalence of astrology coincided with being "in extremely troubled times" adding:  "Into this bleak picture comes astrology with its pat answers and pseudo-scientific jargon (e.g. cusps, ascendant) which make it just believable enough for many people."

I also emphasized the theme of tumultuous times playing a huge role in fueling fear, insecurity and a search for meaning. That theme is with us today too, maybe even more powerfully than in 1976.  We now are on the cusp of a mega-climate apocalypse, countless school and mass shootings, not to mention three times the nuclear weapons  - or ample nukes to incinerate the planet ten times over instead of three.  We also have a pussy grabber, criminal and traitor fouling the White House - who even now is vowing to shut down the government over a delusional border wall.  We also have a majority party that,  as political commentator John Heilemann put it two nights ago, is now in the throes of "moral, intellectual and ideological bankruptcy" especially after refusing to do a thing to check the renegade in whom they've invested everything. To the extent of  even making excuses for him, and cooperating with a network (FOX News) that runs in a parallel thought universe.  Therein it conjures up whole cloth rubbish (Clinton Foundation and Uranium One conspiracies) to spread to its zombie viewers who suck it all up like so many millions suck up astrology horoscopes.

So it is hardly a surprise insecurities and fears are heightened, not only among women but men as well.  Indeed, the larger point made in my original article 42 years ago was that too many gravitated toward horological astrology out of intense insecurity as well as a feeling of lack of control.  Given that both appeared to be intertwined, i.e. lack of control fueling more uncertainty and insecurity, it made sense millions would seek a system which at least provides the facade of control of their lives. In this way people - if very vulnerable - could become "blind to bunkum."

That was the primary conclusion I drew from my own observations, and it seems as good a basis now to invoke for the "persistence" of astrology.  In effect, knowing certain aspects of the astrologers' heavens enables the believer to allay her fears and delude herself into gaining more control of her life, simply by knowing how the stars (and planets) foretell fortunes or setbacks.   This was especially as "traditional religion afforded few answers and little solace."

The fly in the ointment, as I first pointed out, is that the horological signs are fictions based on subjective perceptions instead of physical reality. Hence, trying to extract "control" from them is akin to trying to build a bungalow on quicksand.   Specifically, the alleged "signs" based on visible constellations, didn't really exist. They were mere random collections of stars, often at widely differing distances, into which human perception read a pattern forming one coherent whole. (When humans look up at a starry night sky it is impossible to discern which stars are nearer, which farther - especially as brightness is no kind of guide.)

Thus, horological astrology reduced to a subjective template that actual astronomical observations and data didn't support.  To fix ideas, the Vernal Equinox is called the "first point of Aries" by astrologers, since it was originally in that sign two thousand years ago. The problem is that this celestial reference point is no longer located in Aries, but in the adjacent constellation/sign: Pisces! In the two thousand years since the Sun signs were devised, the Earth's axis has undergone precession out of the original alignment, and with it the equinoxes! This means that each of the other eleven so-called Sun signs used in horoscopes is out by the same amount: one entire Sun sign. For consistency, all present day birthdays would need to be re-calibrated to the preceding sign. So if your birthday is July 4th, say, you are no longer a Cancer but a Gemini! If it is October 18th, you are no longer a Libra, but the sign just before, Virgo. And so on.

Incredibly, many of the astrologers I've encountered over the years are rather blase about all this.  They usually say something to the effect that the "real" (original twelve signs) are "forever fixed" as they were two thousand years ago. They insist that my preoccupation with "signs being out of step"  is not a matter of genuine signs at all, but the constellations (star patterns) associated with them! In their incredible view, the zodiacal constellations are shifted by the Earth's precession but not the "fundamental" signs! These signs will remain firmly anchored in the sky, immune to all Earth's motions, forever and ever!

As one can see,  all of this leads down a never ending subjective rabbit hole wherein the astrologer gets to define his -her celestial reality devoid of actual astronomical inputs. It all becomes a matter of "cartoon" images and perceptions reigning over science.  An example of what I refer to as "cartoons" includes the so-called planetary aspects used to craft personal horoscopes (see top image).

Here certain geometric relations and alignments are deemed to be interpreted in terms of the planetary aspects. For example, in the conjunction two planets -  say Venus and Jupiter - essentially "line up" so the planets' "principles"  combine to reinforce each other.

This bears some superficial similarity to the astronomer's computations of planetary configurations, e.g.

But, the astronomer does not impute any personal or character traits to these configurations whatsoever. The astronomer is interested in them purely for the objective purposes of future (or current) observations, say in calculating when a future occultation (i.e. of star and planet) or other astronomical event will be visible. Say the most favorable opposition of the planet Mars, for optimal telescopic viewing, e.g.

By contrast, the astrologer will become animated when any two planets, say Mars and Venus, appear in a "square" aspect. He may the conclude the  emission of a discordant influence which results "in frustration, imbalance and inner conflict."  In other words, the planetary aspects determine the outcome of one's  personality or dynamic for personal interactions on a given day,  or whatever.

Frankly, it is as if astrologers inhabit a parallel universe of their own creation, almost like the pro-Trump, WSJ op- ed  Foxites who have invented their own Hillary - Jim Comey- Christopher Steele conspiracy theories targeting Trump - to counter Mueller's own findings.

So perhaps it isn't so much a matter of persistence of just astrology per se, but the persistence of magical  and  pseudo conspiratorial thinking throughout the country - even in the illustrious Wall Street Journal.  Recall its op -ed pages continue to spin the Hillary- FBI- DOJ- Steele dossier as a viable alternative construct to the Trump-Russia conspiracy investigation pursued by Robert Mueller, e.g.

What we do know from history is that such bifurcations in reality perception never end well for a country. We can only hope that our nation soon gets its collective perceptions in order (by which I mean achieving an agreement on what constitutes reality)  before the proverbial shit hits the fan.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Solutions To Stellar Emission & Absorption Revisited Problems (2)

1)     For the temperature and conditions of problem (1) of the previous set find the ratio of the probability that the system will be found in any of the eight degenerate states of energy level E2 to the probability the system will be in any of the two degenerate states of energy level E1.


We have:

P(E2) / P(E1)   =     [g2 / g1 ]   exp (- E2 – E1) / kT

With  g 1 = 2(1)2 = 2

And:   g 2 = 2(2)2 = 8

For that problem also:  N2 =  N1     and:

E2 =  - 13.6 eV and E1 = -3.4 eV, therefore:

[g2 / g1 ] exp (- E2 – E1) / kT

4 exp [- 13.6eV – (-3.4 eV) ]/ kT

N2 /  N1 = 1 = 4 exp (-10.2 eV)/ kT

Taking natural logs:

ln (4)  =    (10.2 eV)/ kT


P(E2) / P(E1)   =     ln (4)    = 1.38

Thus, the probability that the system will be found in any of the eight degenerate states of energy level E2 is 1.38 times that of the probability the system will be in any of the two degenerate states of energy level E1.

Or:   P(E2) =     1.38 P(E1)

2)     An H-alpha line undergoes triplet splitting in the vicinity of a sunspot. The undisturbed line is measured at   lo  =   6.62 x 10  -5    cm.  The line shift on either side is: 0.0025 A. Use this information to find the strength of the magnetic field in: a) gauss and b)Tesla

We have:  D  l  =     (lo)e H/ 4 π  me c2  

Solve for H:

H =   4 π  (D  l)  me c2   /  (lo)e

Where: c =  3 x 10  10 cm/s

me  =    9.1 x 10  -28 g

(D  l) =    2 (0.0025 A) = 0.005 A

= 5.0 x 10  -11    cm

e = 4.8  x 10  -10 e.s.u.

H = 
 4 π(5.0 x 10  -11    cm)  (9.1 x 10  -28 g)( 3 x 10  10 cm/s) 2 / (6.62 x 10  -5  cm) 2 e

2.44  x 10  2 G

But 1 T = 10,000 G, so:

H =    2.44  x 10  2 G/  (10  4 G/ T) =   0.024 T

The Moral From Yesterday's Oval Office Squabble? Don't Get Into A Debate With A Swine

The  72-  year old brat  bully who vowed to shut down the government yesterday.

In case you haven't seen it yet, check out the squabble that transpired yesterday in the Oval Office, between Dotard and the two Dem leaders, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi:

Trump Argues With Schumer And Pelosi On Border Security - YouTube

The spectacle immediately drew multiple takes from the Neoliberal-dominated media, including this morning on CBS Early Show when anchors John Dickerson and Gayle King declared: "This was no way to behave in the Oval Office and it doesn't look good for either side".   Well, duh.  But what would you have had the two Dems do, sit stone silent like VP Mike Pence?  As former Florida GOP congressman Dave Jolly put it last night: "Both Schumer and Pelosi deserve applause for standing up to Trump and refuting each of his lies." 

Bingo!  But as usual, the Neolib media always plays the "two sides" baloney to try to appear non-partisan. It doesn't work and it never has because anyone with an average IQ can see right through it.  For once we actually have a cross check on this boisterous buffoon, and he doesn't like it,  so prefers to throw a fit for the cameras as he postures like a crazed baboon.  He knows in his puerile heart that starting next year the D-House will go into every nook and cranny of his sorry reign. But in the meantime a word of advice for the Dems:   It may be best not to engage in any discussions on anything regarding policy - because in the end it's not about policy - whether a border wall, immigration in general, the national debt....or whatever.

All of which elicits the question of what yesterday's fracas was all about. I tend to agree with political commentator Ezra Klein who insisted last night ('Last Word') it was never about any border wall, but rather about Trump being in a fight and enjoying a fight. Recall, as the late conservo columnist Charles Krauthammer, David Brooks, Dave Jolly, the WSJ's  Dan Henninger and many others have observed, this is a guy that "likes to punch back".  If one reduces the altercation to this meme, the whole event becomes fairly transparent: it was all about the "Trump Show" and a "terrible day for America" - to use Klein's description.

Why a terrible day?  Because if Trump goes through with his vow to shut down the government on December 21st, 400,000 federal employees will be sent home, another 350,000 will be furloughed. Many agencies will be short-staffed and unable to do the people's business. AS for HUD, nearly 87 % of its 7,800 staff will be sent home meaning the poor in need of Sec. 8 housing will not get it.

As Klein elaborated on the reasons for this farce:

"Give Pelosi and Schumer credit for putting him in a corner, What struck me so deeply about that meeting is that Donald Trump doesn't himself want the wall.  That is not the meeting you want if you want the wall. The difference in what he wants in funding and what he's currently got in funding is about $3.7 billion.  That is nothing in the federal budget. 

If he wanted that wall he would not have put that meeting in front of the cameras, and he'd be willing to give them something for it.....But the thing about Trump is he doesn't want the wall, he wants the fight over the wall. So I don't think they exactly know what to do about a president who doesn't want his policies because he doesn't care about policy. What he wants to do is have fights with Democrats about policy or about policy ideas or words that sound like policy ideas. And have those fights on camera.

The fact those fights don't redound well for him, the fact he's not in a popular position doesn't seen to really bother him. Trump runs his presidency as if the ratings on the television show he's starring on are good and the punches are seen. And today was a good day in the Trump Show."

And as even the CBS personnel noted correctly, it distracted from Trump's problems in finding someone to replace John Kelly as chief of staff, and his multiple legal troubles.

The best takeaway from all this for the Democrats in the House,  when they take the reins next year?  George Bernard Shaw's famous quote:
Image result for Never wrestle with a pig

In other words, don't engage in any more bizarre reality "shows" with this septuagenarian toddler - especially in the Oval Office with cameras running. Instead deftly use subpoenas and complement Mueller's probe with your own investigations. In other words, stolidly and solidly - without fanfare- do the work the Repukes wouldn't.   The American people, at least the non-Foxite sentient set, will thank you for it!

See also:

by P.M. Carpenter | December 13, 2018 - 7:49am | permalink


Elizabeth Preza's picture
Article Tools E-mail | Print Comments (0)