Monday, April 1, 2013

Mail Call Brane (Pt. I): Readers Seeking Answers

Further questions from Brane Space readers:

Q. In assorted blogs on the JFK assassination I often see references to NSAM 263, but when I google it there seems to be no clear indication that it showed JFK really wanted to pull out of Vietnam. Can you shed any light? – Vincent, Baltimore, MD

A. The reason is that most sources for the National Security Action Memorandum 263 fail to produce it completely. Col. Fletcher Prouty has noted(JFK, The CIA and VietNam, 1992, however, that many would-be researchers are put off by the fact that NSAM-263 occurs in separate parts. Others fail to do adequate research to recover the three separate parts.

What is often actually cited as the NSAM, i.e.

Is in fact the cover letter by McGeorge Bundy. It has only passing relevance to the actual content of the NSAM, but it does clearly state “the President approved sections IB(1-3) of the report". Which report? To find these, the researcher must turn to Document 142 in The Pentagon Papers: ‘Report of McNamara Taylor Mission to South Vietnam. Then the researcher will read:

IB(2) A program be established to train Vietnamese so that essential functions now performed by U.S. military personnel can be carried out by the Vietnamese by the end of 1965. It should be possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. military personnel by that time.

IB(3): In accordance with the program to train progressively Vietnamese to take over military functions, the Defense Department should announce in the very near future presently prepared plans to withdraw 1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963.

In other words, to quote Col. Prouty (ibid.), the sections made it clear Kennedy's  policy would have commenced to take men out of Vietnam starting in 1963, and the bulk out by 1965.

The Baltimore Sun report ( Declassified Documents Hint at Plan to Bring Troops Home in 1965, Dec. 23, 1997, p. 3A )of the release of the FOIA documents (ibid) noted:

All planning will be directed towards preparing RVN (South Vietnamese) forces for the withdrawal of all U.S. special assistance units by the end of calendar year 1965.....

This was originally in part (paragraph) IB-2 of the NSAM

Why did Kennedy go to so much trouble to conceal the actual objectives of the NSAM? Think about it! He was already under immense pressure, with many in the Pentagon and on the Joint Chiefs questioning his loyalty and commitment. They probably also knew, possibly through the CIA, of his attempts at rapprochement with Fidel Castro, and the fact he’d already had secret aid packages dispatched. His demand for the JCS to stand down during the Cuban Missile Crisis was already well known and detested. His signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with Khrushchev in August, 1963 put him at total odds with the military. To then make it easy for them to know his exact plans re: Vietnam would have been disastrous. The thing is, they probably learned of them anyway – eventually through CIA channels, and hence sped up the date for his assassination.

Q. Thanks for providing the link to your brother Mike’s website ('Mikey Marine Blasts Amazing Race episode'). As I read through his stuff it was easy for me to see that although this man calls himself a born again Christian he’s more like possessed by Satan. I mean the hate he displays is too much! He hates just about everyone. I may not agree with your assorted religious blogs but I’d never take an image of you and insert it in hell or on the head of an Occupy protestor defecating on a police car. I can only assume your brother is sick, if he has any excuse, but he needs to not claim he’s a Christian! It gives us all a bad name! Do you have any ideas on why he’s so screwed up? – Tammy N., Pascagoula, MS

A. I think you may have nailed it with your portrayal of him. But what has come over to me, especially on having occasion to talk more with my sister-in-law Krimhilde, is that he seems to be a very angry guy. Why he’s so angry at me, I can only guess. It can’t be simply from disagreeing with him over a wide variety of topics, because at any time he could shut that off by simply not coming to my blog and unduly upsetting himself. So it has to go deeper. We were on speaking terms at least until about 8 months ago, but somehow everything changed with the last election. It was as if the run up and then the election of Obama lit a spark of dynamite under him and he hasn’t been the same since.

At least in our early dogfights on Blogger, there were overtones of humor although brief. But that appears to have ended. What reactions he displays now are mostly ugly and hateful. In the final analysis, Mike has to deal with his anger or it will deal with him….by eating him up!

Q. In your solutions for the branched complex functions (March 28) it seems the answer to No. 3 isn’t really a proper motion. It looks more like just a change in angular position. Was this just simplified for us to work out at a more basic level?- Eric, Montreal, Canada

A. This is correct. The angular change with time would more correctly be called the proper motion, but this would have made the problem a lot more difficult for at least two reasons: 1) Photospheric velocity shear is also operating in the sunspot field, i.e. playing a role in the proper motion itself but doing so at variable rates through the process and 2) The variable rates themselves would implied using messy line integrals to get from time t1 (say at a1) to t2(at a2).

 (1) would have added an additional angle (f)  change in terms of how the Cartesian (x.y) coordinates would be affected such that:

Dx = Dr cos f (df/ dt) - f(ti)

Dy = Dr sin f (df/ dt) + c

where ‘c’ denotes a correction factor to preserve the conditions that preserve conformal mapping (i.e. from x, iy plane to u, iv plane) Meanwhile, (2) is complicated by the additional consideration of shear motions such that:

v(x) =  a sin (f) exp (1 – 2 |f | /W)

v(y) = a cos (f) exp (1 – 2 |f | /W)

Where in this case, W is chosen as 0.2.

Given these aspects it made more sense to simplify the proper motion solution to a simple angular change and leave it at that!

Q. I liked your blog on the way to knock out smaller asteroids (Mar. 28). But what about the really big ones or planet killers? Do we stand any chance at all against them? Is there any solution on the horizon? – Kendra E. , London, UK

A. Unfortunately, right now we have no practical solutions for planet killer asteroids. This type of event is also called an Earth Sterilizing Impact. It would basically wipe out all life on Earth, except maybe for cockroaches. The devastation-affected area is: > 50 x 10^6 sq. km and the size of the object: >> 1 km (3330') diameter.

The forecast explosive release would be: >> 100,000 megatons TNT equivalent . The collision probability is unknown but at least one asteroid specialist (Dr. Basil Booth) has predicted an Apollo asteroid collision some time in the next 250,000 yrs.

Q. I had to laugh on reading some of the loopy stuff on your brother's  Straight Talk blog! Straight talk what? He rambles on like a moron on crack!  Does he really really believe you memorize everything? Does he really think your math blogs are just Voodoo formulas? What gives with the guy? Help me out here! I want to believe he’s not retarded, but….. Kent J., Ann Arbor, MI

A. No, Mike’s not retarded! His IQ is at least average and maybe a bit above, but he fits the profile of the anti-intellectual Fundamentalist crank  that Richard Hofstadter wrote about in Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.  (Vintage Books, 1963). As he noted (p. 133), after referencing intellectual  or moral gray areas:
  "The fundamentalist mind will have nothing to do with all this: it is essentially Manichean, it looks upon the world as an arena for conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, and accordingly it scorns compromises (who would compromise with Satan) and can tolerate no ambiguities."

The other aspect is as Hofstadter notes, these people detest and fear intellect or any display of intellectual ability. They essentially share the limited notion of 'freedom' described by David M. Potter, in Freedom and its Limitations in American Life, Stanford University Press, 1976, That is, "free and equal" which imples:
"Not being different from other people, but rather on a par with other people; not the right to choose between various modes of life, but the right to enjoy a mode as good as anyone else's"

In other words, he'd likely have no problem with me if I didn't write about topics of which he knows little or nothing. Then we'd be "on a par with each other". Because I choose not to go the pedestrian intellectual route, he finds ways to complain or invents complaints, i.e. that I "memorize too much". If only! (In fact,  my memory isn’t anything like it used to be!)   The other aspect is one I noted several times before, based on a piece written for Skeptic Magazine (Vol. 15, No. 2, 2009) by James Allen Cheyne. Cheyne made reference to a compendium of research showing an inverse correlation between religious belief and intelligence as measured by IQ.

Cheyne observes (ibid.):

Correlations between measures of intelligence and reported religious belief are remarkably consistent. Approximately 90% of all the studies ever conducted have reported that intelligence (as measured by IQ) goes up, religious belief goes down

In more depth, Cheyne makes reference to a particular type of thought he calls ACH thinking - or abstract, categorical and hypothetical - which appears to be mostly missing from believers' and which figures prominently on many IQ tests (such as the Raven's and Wechsler Similarities tests). Such tests feature many questions which construct an abstract hypothetical from a particular category, then ask the person to predict the consequences, if any.

For example, some ACH -type questions might be:

1) If Venus and Earth were to exchange orbits, what would happen as a consequence to each planet to change its environment from the current conditions?

2) If a hollow equilateral pyramid were to be able to "opened" up and spread out in two dimensions, how would it appear?

3) If the gravity on Earth were suddenly decreased by half, how would this affect energy costs in two named modes of transportation?

If Mike lacks such thinking ability, and there is reason to believe he does, then he’d naturally believe that everyone else would lack it too. Hence, his penchant for asserting without a scintilla of evidence that I  “memorize” everything, or am "unoriginal" - clearly since he is unable to be original. (Again, also another instance of Potter's 'free to be intellectually equal - but not superior' - syndrome, which is typically American.)

His comments to do with “voodoo formulas” in math also need to be taken with a grain of salt given this is a guy that never got beyond Algebra I. Even then, I don’t believe he got higher than a D. So clearly, if he sees any kind of equation with more than an 'x' in it he’d simply write it off as ‘voodoo” or as the useless product of some pointy-headed “nerd”-  trying to fool him.

I believe personally that if Mike invested as much time in reading other works, including science (and maybe some math) as opposed to burying his head in his good book (which doesn’t seem to do him much good) he’d be able to see no one has to memorize anything - merely display a wider curiosity about the world and the desire to learn!

Part Two to come:

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