Friday, June 28, 2013

Mail Call Brane - Readers Seeking Answers

Could you please complete the solution to the ship problem differential equation in your blog of May 12? I know you started the solution for many of us but I can't seem to finish it! -
Andy K., Omaha NE

Let's pick it up where the partial solution left off.  I.e. you had to integrate:

dv/ (g - av) = dt

To obtain:

ln (g - av) = -at + C

The hint was then provided that you had to obtain the value of  a  to get the integrating factor.

As given in the partial soln.:

(k/m) = a

=   (10, 000 f/s lbs.)/ (4 x 10 6 sl) =  2.5 x 10 -3

Now, taking natural logs of both sides of the integrated equation and simplifying::

  v =  g / a    -   B (exp - a t)

But the condition from rest is v= 0 at t = 0,  Þ   B = g / a

So:  v = g / a   - [1 - (exp - a t)]

=  g / a  - [1 - (exp - 0.0025)t]

Then, if  g / a  = 20 f/s, v = 20 [1 - (exp - 0.0025)t]

And from this the terminal velocity can be found.  Remember as v approaches the terminal velocity the second term must approach 0. so effectively the terminal velocity is: v = 20[ 1 - 0] = 20 f/s

Which equals 13.63 mph when converted from  feet/ sec  to miles per hour.

Q. I must have missed something! In your June 4 blog post you explained how the Germans you met at Zugspitze aren't buying Tom Hanks' version of events in what you describe as an up and coming "HBO 13-part series". Could you elaborate a bit because I'm sure I must have missed some back story! - Jake, Oklahoma City, OK

A. This stems from the news last year that Hanks told in an interview that he intends to "do the American public a service" - because he thinks they "have been snookered into believing that Lee Harvey Oswald was framed."  So, he plans to do a 13-part HBO series to remedy that situation - or so he believes. And he intends to use the mammoth book 'Reclaiming History" by Vince Bugliosi as his "historical" basis. Of course, the book is nothing of the sort, and has numerous problems of fact, history and logic which I already expatiated on at some length, e.g.





Clearly, Hanks' hubris has gone to his head, along with his 3 Oscars and some success in making HBO docu-histories, such as The Pacific. I mean, cripes, the guy actually believes he's chief historian of the country despite the fact he probably can't even pass a basic test on the assassination! See e.g.

Readers interested in other takes on Vince Bugliosi’s debauchery of history can check out these links:

Q. I had been on a high T regimen to build more muscle mass, but then last year started to develop pains in my lower back. It got so bad I had to see a doc, and strangely enough, he wanted a PSA test done. Well, I had it done and the result came back at 7.3. He now wants me to get a biopsy but after reading your account of it, and then the treatment options for prostate cancer I'm not sure I want any part of it! I know you will probably say to get it done, including treatments, but do I have any other options here? - Tony M., Sacramento, CA

A. Well, you could try watchful waiting. You don't give your age but that may only be a solution if you're over 65 or so. If you're a young man then I'd say you've got zero options left and you need to get the biopsy. It's the only way to ascertain if you have prostate cancer, where it's located and how aggressive it is.  Readers can see my account of the biopsy I had here:

The problem with waiting if the cancer (usually an adenocarcinoma) is aggressive, it that you may run out of options. At least at the early stage, say several cores and no Gleason scores over 3 +3 or 3+4 you have a range of treatment choices. But once the threshold is crossed to Gleason scores 4+3 or 4+4 or higher, you're basically down to the most extreme response which is generally a radical prostatectomy, and often adminstration of androgen suppression hormones afterwards.

My suggestion? Find a urologist or have your physician refer you to one, and get that biopsy! Oh, and leave those gels of T alone!

Q. I want to get your take on some recent responses to Edward Snowden's travels, especially this line that we've heard from Jay Carney, John Kerry and others in the administration:

"Mr Snowden's claim that he is focused on supporting transparency, freedom of the press and protection of individual rights and democracy is belied by the protectors he has potentially chosen: China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador,"

Margaret S., Cincinnati, OH

A. What you referenced is the usual sort of false analogical rot trotted out by paid lackeys and other servants of the State and other State-System-Big Media actors. Can you take it to the bank? Hardly!  First, Snowden's ultimate and most important objective was preserving his own freedom, as opposed to wasting away in an Army Brig somewhere, being left naked for 24 hrs. a day for weeks (as Bradley Manning was), subjected to intermittent sleep deprivation and fed bread and water (ok, I exaggerate a bit on the last but only a bit). Hence, the choice of where he went must be seen in that light, i.e. with primary goal of avoiding the U.S. 'Gulag 'at all costs - after likely being given justice at the hands of a kangaroo court "grand jury" assembled out of Alexandria, VA (the domain of CIA, NSA, FBI)...

Also, to ensure no intervention he had to select nations that at least had some kind of power or leverage to stand up to a raging Uncle Sam. China and Russia met the criteria, for differing reasons.

The portrayal of both China and Russia as specious destinations for Snowden is absurd: China is now our leading trade partner for Pete's sakes - also our leading lender for all those Social Security, DoD and other monies! Russia assisted us with the apprehension of the Tsarnaev brothers, real terrorists!  Also, keep in mind Hong Kong wanted him out asap. He was a  PR liability and it was only on account of large pro-Snowden protests from thousands of people (and maybe some slight arm twisting from the mainland)  they laid off him, and let him leave HK for Moscow. Let's also bear in mind that China is now the largest capitalist nation in the world, and basically our banker! So, if we are calling down opprobrium on that country,  WTF are we doing taking out loans for military weapons from them etc.? Talk about hypocrisy (but of course, that's our nation's biggest export) - see also:

As for Russia, Putin also isn't exactly enamored of having Snowden holed up there at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Note also: the airport is not on Russian soil, so technically Putin isn't obliged to extradite him, or indeed, pay any attention to a huffing and puffing bunch of Amerikkan hypocrites who seem to forget or ignore their own lawlessness the past 12 years, including starting illegal wars violating Article IV of the Nuremberg laws, see also:, not to mention violating the Geneva conventions with rendition and torture (water boarding).

As for Ecuador, I have news for the Amerikkan bigots and hyper-false patriots: Most of Latin America and the Caribbean sees us as a Yanqui gangster state after the  CIA assisted some reactionary Venezuelans (including Luis Posada Carriles, a former CIA agent)to  blow up a Cubana Airlines passenger plane over Barbados on Oct. 6, 1976.

One thing to take away from all of this: the US of A is not as pure as the driven snow as it claims or portrays itself. It also has supported terrorists, as in Honduras and Guatemala in the 80s, and also helped bring bin Laden to fruition by leveraging him against the Russkies when they invaded Afghanistan n 1979. But see, then it was convenient and expedient, to advance U.S. geopolitical objectives. Never mind the geopolitical strategies, a terrorist can be a state actor and hide behind all kinds of excuses, rationales.

Imho, the worst calamity to happen to the world was the collapse of the bi-polar equilibrium that prevented one country from gaining too much hegemony and power in the world. That happened with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Given that one big "superpower" now tries to rule everyone, it's no surprise a lot of smaller players- and even big ones-  would like to jab a finger or two in its hypocrtical "eyes."

Most interesting to me has been who exactly has come out on each side. It's now become much easier to tell the pro-state purveyors of deceit and character assassination from real patriots invested in protecting liberties. Ed Schulz, for example, is now dismissed by me as a bloviating propagandist having called Snowden a "punk" and demanded his return and prosecution. Chris Hayes, meanwhile, has been pro-Snowden - if not as outspoken as some others. But his intelligent take gets kudos from me. Rachel Maddow? I've no idea where she sits because she's presented some segments on her show but hasn't disclosed her position. Nice and coy, and safe!

The media corporo-pundits  like Aaron Ross Sorkin and David Gregory? Blow dried hacks, both of whom ought to be sent to Komodo Island on one way tickets - mainly to provide protein for the giant reptiles there. Oh, and you can toss Dianne Feinstein into that stew too, along with John 'Wuss' Kerry and Dick-head Cheney!

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