Saturday, October 31, 2015

Why Does Demonic Possession Fare Now Dominate the Horror Genre?


In The Wall Street Journal Arena section yesterday, the lead story was 'Hollywood Gets Possessed'  about how demonic possession films are now dominating the modern horror landscape. This is in some ways not a surprise given the success of one of the most horrific films, 'The Exorcist' - some forty years ago.

As the author, Michal Calia, observes:

"The reborn success of demonic possession in popular culture owes something to the zombie, werewolf and vampire surge of the past decade. Horror movies used to play in theaters to passionate but finite audiences, mostly teens, They'd show up on opening weekends then move on to the next offering."

Adding:

"The new wave of possession films could take scary movies even more into the mainstream. Possession is more personal than vampires and zombies - the threat comes from within."

Which is the underlying point of the horror of possession (assuming one believes in it) and which makes films like 'The Exorcist' relevant even today. Imagine you're a teen flooded with hormones and now experiencing strange and powerful urges you never experienced before.  Of course, if you were exposed to religiosity and especially the nature of "demons" or "Satan" and biblical examples of demonic possession  - one of the things you might fret over is that you were possessed. Another entity was inhabiting your consciousness, sharing it and even dominating at times.

But as the WSJ piece notes, the other reason Hollywood loves this sub-genre is the revived legitimacy in rites like exorcism. Mark Neveldine, the director of "The Vatican Tapes", insists that "Pope Francis is helping drive the new interest in exorcism. The pope is a Jesuit whose members believe in the reality of Satan"

Which is debatable given I knew a number of Jesuits when I attended Loyola University who admonished students to "use critical thinking" when approaching biblical passages with demonic references.  While it is true that exorcism has been taught as part of Catholic theology – as my old Loyola notes show (from one conservative Jesuit),e.g.
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  No truly mature and rational priest or Bishop really believes that. It is merely fed to them, like the whole concept of “sin”, to keep the faithful at the level of malleable infants to be controlled. I left the Church precisely because I wanted to be an independent thinker …and doer. Not bound to any silly, centuries old dictates or dogmas.

The WSJ piece also mentions "a 2013 video of Pope Francis praying over a man whose body eventually went slack" and appeared on YouTube (reminding us one must be careful in judging visual media, especially with some of those videos depicting kitties quoting Chaucer - or Obama professing to be a Muslim!)

In the case of the Pope Francis video, the Vatican fortunately put on its 'big boy' robes at the time and issued a statement (ibid):

"The Holy Father has no intention to perform any exorcism. Instead, as he frequently does for the sick and suffering persons who approached him, he simply meant to pray for a suffering person who was presented to him."

A person who likely had epilepsy - experienced a mild seizure - then went slack. No demons were around.

This is not to say, of course, that the Pope doesn't have an interest in demons, Satan and exorcism. But the Pope's belief doesn't make it so. Why the need for Satan, devils, or exorcisms at all? Little known by the demon mongering idiots is that in Yeshua's time, before the dawn of modern psychiatry, ordinary schizophrenia and schizoid personality disorders were commonly believed to be manifestations of  "demonic possession". Thus, we had biblical allegories and stories referring to Christ "casting out" Beelezebub from sick people, and even animals. But modern biblical scholars now understand these were metaphors for seeking cures (at that time) for the mental illness that stalked the population even then.

I believe the other reason exorcism is experiencing something of a revival in Catholic circles - recall a new school for exorcists  The Pope Leo XIII Institute  opened last year "for the “education & training of priests in the holy ministry of exorcism and deliverance” - is that the Church needs to grow its numbers.  What better way, given the decreasing numbers especially in Europe,  than to try and scare the faithful back into the fold?

I mean, if the Church can even get one of every 18 lapsed Catholics to reconsider the faith, they might at some future time stabilize the loss numbers, given how many Africans appear to be adopting it. (Bear in mind also that Catholic numbers in the U.S. are only holding steady because of Mexican immigrants who are predominantly Catholic and have large families.)

Apart from all this religious basis for embracing demonic possession fare, the WSJ also notes:

"Possession stories can also resonate in a society worried about moral decay in general - a growing inability for individuals to take responsibility for their actions and to be held accountable"

So if the person can blurt "the devil made me do it"  he doesn't have to 'fess up to his own inadequacies and nasty nature. He can fob it off on some imaginary being believed to personify evil.

But those of us who wear 'big boy' pants know the source of evil isn't in some mythical demonic entity but in our own brains.  We are all, each of us, saddled with a hybrid brain (paleocortex, mesocortex, neocortex) which behavior is bound to be morally mixed, reflecting the fact that we literally have three brains contending for emergence in one cranium. Behavior will therefore range from the most selfless acts (not to mention creative masterpieces) to savagery, carnal lust run amuck and addictions that paralyze purpose.

The mistake of the orthodox religionist is to associate the first mode of behavior with being human and not the latter. In effect, disowning most of the possible behaviors of which humans are capable.- and hence nine tenths of what makes us what we are. Worse, not only disowning these behaviors – but ascribing them to some antagonistic dark or negative force (“Satan”) thereby making them into a religious abstraction.

Grown ups,  then, can enjoy demonic possession flicks of one sort or other this Halloween (I plan to watch 'The Exorcist" again) but should put them in perspective: nice entertaining horror fare but ultimately having no more basis in reality than the vampire, zombie, werewolf and Frankenstein flicks of old.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Siberian Clinic Features Medical Spanking Therapy for Addicts - Strange But True!


Dr.Pilipenko wails on a 22-year old druggie, Natasha,  to extract a cure. She will have to undergo twice weekly thrashings (60 lashes at a time)  for three months in Siberia.


I guess I've seen or heard everything now, and I suppose I ought to wonder why good ol' Dr. Ben Carson isn't behind this new treatment method for addiction - evidently launched in Siberia of all places. (I mean, at the Reepo debate it was brought out that he was associated with a supplement maker called "Mannatech" which had to shell out $7 million for claims about curing cancer, autism, flat feet, warts and just about everything else).

But mayhap that's not in the same category as this new "therapy" trotted out in The Siberian Times. According to the paper,  one Dr German Pilipenko along with a fellow practitioner Professor Marina Chukhrova,  has launched a "land office" business whipping their willing patients in order to cure their assorted addictions, from drugs to alcohol to sex (mainly porn).

The dynamic duo have apparently treated more than a thousand patients, and - believe it or not - are  now getting foreigners  to try his unconventional method of 'limited exposure or pain', often as a last resort.  Of course, it necessitates flying off to Siberia, Russia - which in itself would break most ordinary folks. Hence, we must conclude this method of therapy can only be for the one percent - who have to have the money to blow to fly off to frigid wastelands to an obscure clinic to get their butts beaten weekly for three months.

The Times claims Pilipenko  has had success with showbiz clients and "believes he could help people like British singer Pete Doherty who has repeatedly failed to respond to other treatments." I have no idea who Doherty is, since I am not into Brit music, but who knows? If he has money to burn let him try it. But call me skeptical. Especially when I read bollocks like:

"Whether drink or drug addicts, or people who are miserable and depressed, these Russian medics say they have restored that simple ingredient missing from so many lives - happiness."

Please! Some poor schmuck  - or lass (the Siberian Times photo shows a 22 year old chick lying down on the table with Pilipenko wielding some kind of thrashing implement in the background)  is going to really find "happiness" by getting the living crap beat out of their behind? I find that about as hard to believe as that Ben Carson and Donald Trump are real, valid candidates for President. Sorry!

According to the paper (ibid.):

"The cure involves literally beating the addiction, obsession or depression out of the patient. Dr Pilipenko claims he is restoring or modernising a method of treatment known to previous generations including notorious cane-happy English schoolmasters and monks in medieval holy orders. "

Seriously? DO these two have any idea how violently English schoolmasters, headmasters used to beat their charges?  (Hint: Read some of Charles Dickens' novels.) According to Professor Chukhrova, a psychiatrist with more than 25 years experience treating drug addicts and alcoholics:

'We cane the patients on the buttocks with a clear and definite medical purpose - it is not some warped sado-masochistic activity"

Fair enough. But what if the patient is some kind of spanko freak? Say he or she was paddled as a kid and now finds pleasure in it and so is addicted to the pain. How do you ensure the troubled person isn't going to get off on this therapy?

No one addresses this issue, but Professor Chukhrova claims that the "acute pain of corporal punishment stimulates the brain to release endorphins into the body 'making patients feel happier in their own skins'".   We are informed that these endorphins are "happiness hormones" and these beatings- which cost up to $99 each, are supposed to release them. Here's the $64 question: As asked by one forum commenter: 'Why can't one of these forlorn addicts release the endorphins himself or herself say by self-spanking?'  Well, that would certainly save the cost of a trip to Siberia and having to remain there 3 months for two sessions a week. But one of the therapists replied that one can't do it himself any more than one can tickle him or herself. 

 Pilipenko's theory is that all types of addicts, drug, sex and alcohol (also web-smart phone),  suffer from a lack of endorphins, adding

'The caning counteracts a lack of enthusiasm for life which is often behind addictions, suicidal tendencies and psychosomatic disorders'

Both personally administer the 'medical spankings'. (He to females, she to males.)

How did this flogging therapy for addicts originate? We're told the treatment "was pioneered in Siberia by Dr Sergei Speransky, director of Biological Studies at Novosibirsk Institute of Medicine, who himself admitted to undergoing flogging treatment as an antidote to his bouts of depression."

Question: Who administered the lashes, doc?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Clash in Colorado - Only ONE Serious Candidate Stood Out In This Debate: John Kasich

Ben Carson and Ted Cruz after the debate.
"Damn, Cruz! Them questions was damn hard!"


When I read the Denver Post pre-debate story yesterday morning, concerning Ohio Guv John Kasich sending shivers down Democratic spines (if he emerged as the R-nominee, which let us admit is doubtful), I had to see for myself. I had to watch at least some of this latest clown cavalcade on CNBC to see who, if anyone, stood out as possessing presidential timbre. Well, they all failed to meet the standard except for Kasich.

The stand up moment came right at the outset when candidates were asked to give their primary weakness in 30 seconds or less. Kasich led off by not really addressing the question but instead pointing out the severe weaknesses of the others in terms of being realistic, especially with their tax-economic policies.

At that point, then again at a later interlude when he had to respond to Trump's misrepresentations about being in charge at Lehman Bros. in 2008, Kasich asserted:

"Folks, we gotta wake up! We cannot elect someone who doesn’t know how to do the job.”

He then torpedoed both the Trump and Carson tax plans as "delusional" - and even moderator John Harwood pointed out to the ever feisty Trump that his tax plan would only create even more mammoth deficits. As for Carson, his "tithing" tax plan was ridiculed as well, including by Kasich, though no one pulled Uncle Ben up on his ignorant remark about "taxing 15 percent of GDP" when in fact, he's proposing a flat tax on individuals. Doesn't he know the difference?

Marco Rubio, aka "the Cisco Kid" -   who the corporo-media touted as the "clear winner"-  was also exposed this morning by Steve Rattner on 'Morning Joe' as having an unworkable tax plan. To get a $2.4 trillion reduction in deficits, Rubio would have to spend $2.4 trillion. Hell, that's a worse balance than the "energy in vs. energy out" for fracking!  Rubio's only "win" came by showing he was a superior debater to the lethargic and out of tune Jeb - which we knew already. (Jeb needs to pack up his Bush bag and go home to mommy.)

Say one thing say the next, at least there was  a bit more illumination than in previous debates (though noise still dominated) as candidates were held accountable over what many economists have viewed as extreme tax and spending policies as well as conflicting promises on Social Security. (A favorite target of the extremist Right since the Social Security Law was passed in 1935, despite the fact most GOP voters depend on it to get by - especially in the South.)

Incredibly, Carson also later received supportive boos from the crowd after he was questioned on his links to a disgraced pharmaceutical company, then concluded his appearance by thanking fellow panelists “for not falling for the traps”.

Why anyone would boo the moderators on Carson's dumb behalf  for conflict of interest issues is beyond me. The guy is a moron, his tax plan was clearly exposed as airy fairy bull pockey - by two of the moderators as well as Kasich. And the gathered Reeptards ought to have been booing HIM when the links to the disgraced PhRMA company were brought out. The question as asked by Carl Quintanilla was:
This is a company called Mannatech, a maker of nutritional supplements, with which you had a 10-year relationship. They offered claims that they could cure autism, cancer, they paid $7 million to settle a deceptive marketing lawsuit in Texas, and yet your involvement continued. Why?
The little douchebag ought to have answered it because it was a deadly serious probe into the little fuck's background.  (Highlighting his support for quackery and mumbo jumbo if it earns him an extra buck).. But all he did was bristle and babble in the aftermath and the peanut-brained audience booed. Aren't you supposed to have at least an I.Q. of 100 to gain entry to a debate?

 But it only showed how out of touch with reality both the peanut gallery and their goofy "heroes" really are. As one Boulder construction worker put it - quoted in today's Denver Post, 'What a bunch of g**damned clowns!" Out of the mouths of real American workers! (Incredibly, students quoted in the same piece often gave the Reeptards a pass. One CU freshman actually said he "respected Carson for his political and scientific understanding". This kid's college admission needs to be rescinded and he ought to go back to kindergarten!)

But see, in this alternative universe of conservative bullshit,  reality has no place and truth is the first casualty. You can see it as a running thread in these idiotic Reepo debates, and even Paul Ryan - new House Speaker- conceded yesterday "Our party has lost its vision".  Yeah, and they did so in dispensing with reality and embracing a schizoid's vision. A vision wherein regulations are meaningless, women are the "enemy" of their "unborn babies" and you can spend as much as you want - especially on defense-  and still cut deficits.

The brainwashed crowds who vote and clamor for these useless clowns will look away from anything substantial  unless it's going after Obama.... or their primary foe that they call "Killary" - because they're terrified she will kill them next year in the general election - which she will . The only one who rose at all above this nonsense was Kasich. But given reality is not an attribute of the extremist Right, don't look for any of their bunch to see it.

The most hilarious aspect of last night's circus was how the tough questioning from CNBC moderators prompted Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Ben Carson and others to unite against the television network, attacking them for bias. (Presumably that was based on the fact the network was not FOX  - which only the previous night featured a 23 min. "technical" delay for the first World Series game)

Teeing off on this "blame the refs" meme was Canuck Clown Ted Cruz's attack on the media when he blurted out:

“The questions that have been asked so far on this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,”

Then there was Mr. Chris "Crisco"  Christie bellyaching about a question concerning government regulation of Fantasy Football while ISIS was running loose.  Intimating the poor GOOPs got comic questions only.

But minutes after the debate ended, Carson complained about the "difficulty" of the questions while Democrats got "softball questions". So which is it? Maybe all the Reeps' perceptions are totally distorted so none of them can even agree on what they experience.

Cruz's  comment brought some of the biggest cheers of the night from the Colorado crowd. But again let us recall - as I noted in the last blog post- this was a cherry picked crowd where Reince Priebus literally had to comb Boulder for enough real conserrvos to balance the politico elites and media in the audience. Had the audience been truly representative Cruz, as well as Trump, Carson and most of the others would have been hooted off the stage.

The true fact is that the CNBC moderators dared ask challenging questions. These pretenders to the presidency weren’t mad because CNBC failed to do journalism correctly. They were mad because they apparently expected canned propaganda questions and did not get them.

All except Joh Kasich who at least presented sober solutions and had a moderate appeal. Again vindicating the DPost's take that he gave Dems the willies.

But see, the Reeptard extremists hate him because according to the WSJ piece yesterday (p. A4):

"He is a center Right Republican who is willing to defy conservative orthodoxy, use all levers of executive power and stick to his guns in the face of criticism - even from his own party."

In other words, the only realist on the GOP stage who might be a genuine contender and be able to defeat "Killary".   As the WSJ piece goes on:

"This has made some Democrats see him as a potentially strong general election candidate."

The takeaway from the night, delivered this morning by CNBC, after all the candidates carped about the moderators' questions:

"People who want to be President of the United States should be able to answer tough questions"

And that means questions beyond which those these Bozos were already prepared for, i.e. to give "canned" answers. If there was any fault with the CNBC moderators, it was the same as all the others thus far including on the FOX debate: No one is holding any of these guys to account in their wild, invalid claims or outright stupid remarks - such as Carson's against regulation ("I dunno why they got to regulate everything, I mean it's into everything"- well, maybe so your grand daughters don't get salmonella from ingesting 'Blue Bell' ice cream, dope!) Also, no questions were brought up regarding Carson's foolish statements comparing women who get abortions to slave holders (see previous post).

Anyway  the takeaway from this fiasco for me is that only one (at most)  of the ten showed the capacity to be a President : John Kasich. If this guy worries Demos, maybe the Reepos and their primary voters ought to take note!

See also:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/william-rivers-pitt/64543/the-gop-debates-and-the-ghost-of-tom-joad

And:

http://www.salon.com/2015/10/29/the_inane_spectacle_of_the_gop_debate_cruz_the_showboating_creep_rubio_the_slick_operator_bush_the_desperate_flop/

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Will CNBC's Moderators Expose Ben Carson's Imbecility Tonight?


"Yes, Missy! I say if ya abort a baby then ya is like a slave owner!"

The 3rd Reepo debate is tonight in 'the People's Republic of Boulder' - the most liberal bastion in Colorado, and as one commenter observed in the Sunday Denver Post Perspective section, it's a damned good thing the powers-that-be had the foresight to only allow in 100 students from the University of Colorado - where it will be held.  The reason? Many more students would have hooted all ten yahoos off the stage as bozos, but especially Ben Carson - who has now edged out "the Donna" in the polls.

The debate cognoscenti and organizers are also "wisely" limiting access to primarily the outside (e.g. Beltway) political class, the PR spinners, big $$ donors and media. They know liberals outnumber conservos in Boulder by 2 to 1 and things could get ugly if the audience really got into it. As the DPost writer pointed out, they'd screech and howl if at any time supply side economics was interjected, knowing that '2 + 2' doesn't equal 5. Which most of the Reep brainiacs don't understand. They'd especially howl if the topic of climate change was ignored, as it likely will be.

But the biggest howls would be directed at Ben Carson, the latest nut whack in the GOP pantheon, grabbing a lead in the polls.

A recent headline showing the basis for a mental disqualification of Carson to serve as anything but dog catcher appeared thus:

Ben Carson opposes abortion for rape victims while comparing them to ‘slave owners’
"Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said on Sunday that believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned, and that women should not be allowed to have abortions even in the case of rape or incest. 
“The mother should not believe that the baby is her enemy and should not be looking to terminate the baby,” Carson opined to NBC host Chuck Todd. “We’ve allowed purveyors of division to think that baby is their enemy and they have a right to kill it. Can you see how perverted that line of thinking is?” 
When it came to the rights of women, Carson insisted that they should not have the legal choice to terminate unwanted pregnancies.
“Think about this. During slavery — and I know that one of those words you’re not supposed to say — but I’m saying it,” Carson said. “During slavery, a lot of the slave owners thought they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave, anything that they chose to do. And what if the abolitionists had said, ‘You know, I don’t believe in slavery, I think it’s wrong. But you guys do whatever you want to do.’ Where would we be?”
One blogger rightly observed Carson and the other Reeps inhabit  a "Twilight Zone" of an alternative reality.

And he is correct.  Another  smirkingchimp.com blogger added:

"I mean, my GOD! WTF is Ben even talking about? There is so much cray-cray packed into the 4 little sentences I can excerpt under Fair Use."

He's right. The reason is that almost whenever Carson bloviates he misfires both logically and coherently. Also, when he speaks the sheer density of idiocy and ignorance inevitably reaches mental 'black hole' proportions with the potential to usher in a naked singularity.

 Let's leave aside for the moment the fact that no sane person in his or her right mind can possibly regard a "zygote" as a person, or a fetus as an "unborn child".  Or that a "baby" is an unborn child. Newsflash, Uncle Ben, a baby has already BEEN BORN - it is not UNBORN! DUHHH!

There is simply no standard by which that passes even elemental laws or tests of logic, or science.  Neither can a child be "unborn" because by definition it is already born!  Thus, we send the 'child' to school, get him to do his homework, to take his medicine, cross streets safely, respect his elders and so on. If unborn, it's a fetus, not a "child"  so all those activities are preposterous. They also show the entity is not a person. Doesn't this so-called Hopkins neurosurgeon know any better? I don't know but I sure wouldn't want him trying to fix an ingrown toenail, far less operate on my brain.

As for slavery, doesn't Ben know it was a vicious chattel system whereby full human persons were seized and placed in subhuman bondage?  Fully developed and conscious humans forced to submit to the Slave master's whims, including dancing to banjo music in the wee hours of the morning, working 14 hours a day picking cotton, or submitting to rape is NOT the same thing as a proto-human entity with no independent personhood or will being removed from a woman's womb .

 A person, a human person, must have at least minimal capacity for basic cognition and rudimentary choice. It must possess a brain, at the very least, which evinces definite brain waves. Anything that doesn't is a proto-human entity, but clearly not a person. The logical error made is called the "genetic fallacy" as first described by Antony Flew ('Thinking About Thinking'). That is, arguing that because a thing is going to become something, it IS something. It would be like me picking up an acorn and claiming it's an oak tree. Nope. No way. Only an insane person would assert that!

Women undergoing or choosing abortion do not "regard babies as the enemy" nor are they like "slave owners who believe they can do anything they want" .  They are fully developed, conscious human beings making a life decision for themselves. They are operating under the principle and belief their bodies are their own and not the property of the government.

But see, in Uncle Ben's world the concept of "limited government" only exists in certain selected spheres, like disallowing "entitlements". Thus, all women would be repatriated to a vast gov't plantation, forced to undergo painful births and even nursing the products of rape or incest for months or years - to satisfy a cockeyed morality.  One which affords more gravitas and rights to an unformed, parasitic entity than to fully formed humans. One which exalts the unborn over the already born, which latter they disdain to the point they don't even offer free child care for indigent women.

Then they babble and wonder why abortion remains a choice for women faced with an unsympathetic nation that values money over care of the already born.

Will CNBC's moderators bring some of these issues up for Ben's consideration? Let's hope so! The rest of us, i.e. the sane world, are sick and tired of seeing this Jacobin being paraded around and idiots hanging on his every word like he's some Black version of Yoda.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mitch McConnell Demands COLA Cuts To Social Security As Well as S.S. Disability Cuts - As Part of Debt Deal

McConnell
"Uh, uh, yes'm! We wanna get more cuts to Social Security and Medicare to get a debt ceilin' deal!"

The latest news for citizens is not sanguine regarding debt ceiling negotiations. It's now been learned that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is demanding even more major concessions from the White House in exchange for his vote to raise the debt ceiling. This is in addition to cuts to Social Security Disability on the order of 19 percent,* and cuts to Medicare of 2 percent per year already approved.

McConnell now wants to raise the age of eligibility for Medicare and he is also seeking to reduce cost of living adjustments for Social Security recipients. In addition, the Kentucky Senator wants to add policy riders to the budget that will restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to uphold clean water standards.

To sum up: tough luck if you make it to 65 and get seriously ill (say from fracking chemicals), and forget about the COLA's  - from now on you get minus one percent a year when inflation is low - not zero, and hey, if ya get sick from dirty water, that's life!

While the Obama White House seems to be resistant to caving into McConnell’s demands this time around, we understand that many Dems are on board. That means Obama could cave if the Ds make him a deal he can't refuse - say refusing to vote for final TPP passage unless the prez gives in now.

However, White House spokesperson, Jennifer Friedman made it clear the president isn’t interested in conceding to McConnell. Friedman stated:
Proposals such as raising the eligibility age for Medicare and changing the way Social Security retirement benefits are indexed to inflation are non-starters for the administration and Democrats in Congress.
On the positive side, sensible Democrats know that Republicans are likely to shoulder most of the blame if there is another government shutdown. Given the widespread popularity of Medicare and Social Security, there is little incentive for many Democrats to cave in to McConnell’s list of demands.
Having said that, the deal already finalized does contain those cuts to Social Security Disability and small cuts to Medicare.

--------------
*Update (10/27)::

According to the WSJ Social Security Disability's shortfall will be addressed by moving money from the regular Social Security Trust Fund.

The New W.H.O. Meat & Cancer Study - Another Pile of Medical Malarkey


The new cancer warnings on Monday from the World Health Organization (W.H.O.)  about eating red meats and processed meats make me laugh. The latest medical pinheads want us to believe that eating a hot dog a day has the same risk as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day or being exposed to asbestos. They claim eating one hot dog a day can "increase the colon cancer risk". '

Know what the extent of increased  risk is? It goes from 5% over a lifetime (for non meat eater, e,g, Vegan) to 6 percent. BIG DEAL!  By the same token, the smokers increase their cancer risk by 17. 2 percent compared to 1.3 percent for non-smokers. So WHO is fooling WHO? DO these medical misfits really believe people will give up their hot dogs on that account? They must be smoking much more powerful stuff than available here in Colorado.

What exactly is the reasoning?

Well, processed meats like hot dogs and bologna have been salted, cured (with sodium nitrite) or smoked to enhance flavor and improve preservation. Medical health gurus have long worried that this processing leads to the formation of potentially carcinogenic chemicals like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in these products. (Funny how they worry so much less about the abundance of toxic chemicals in our air, soil and water from fracking, such as benzene, xylene, toluene etc. as well as atrazine from weedicides.)

The concern with red meats — beef, pork and lamb — has more to do with the cooking, not the processing. Grilling, barbecuing and pan-frying meat creates potential carcinogens, including heterocyclic aromatic amines. But again, these pale beside the toxic chemicals already inundating our environment, such as perchlorate, glyphosate, atrazine and bisphenol-A and about which there is little concern shown at all

The report finds a link between consumption of processed meats and colorectal cancer (and perhaps other cancers). But here's the zinger:  it also acknowledged that the link between red meat and cancer has not been proved. According to the ancillary body, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, in a handout accompanying its report.:

Eating red meat has not yet been established as a cause of cancer,”

In other words, it's just another medical alarm story like so many before, and which people had already become accustomed to tuning out.

Let's get into the numbers again, for perspective: W.H.O. estimated that 50 grams daily of processed meat or 100 grams daily of red meat might increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent and 17 percent, in that order, over the absolute risk — if indeed red meat were related to cancer at all, which the report also acknowledged is not known.

What does that mean? It means that as noted above, the lifetime risk goes from 5% to 6% so that the increased risk "over the absolute risk" is computed:

(6% - 5%)/ 6  = 1/6  - 16.667 %  ~  17%

Again, negligible! I prefer to think of it more realistically as the risk going from 5 in 100 for those who don't eat red or processed meats, to 6 in 100 to those who do. The use of the "17 percent" increase is merely a stat intended to alarm ordinary folk and throw them off. It reminds me of the old statin research done by PhrMA which purported to show the benefit of taking statins which allegedly reduced risk of heart attacks by 33 percent.

This  was first reported by FORBES in 2008 wherein outcomes from a control and statin-taking group were compared per capita for heart attacks. In the control (placebo) group there occurred 2 heart attacks per capita, and in the statin-takers there occurred 1 heart attack per 100. The results were then touted as "Statins reduce risk of heart attacks by 33%".

Thus:

(2 - 1)/3 x 100% = 1/3 x 100% = 33%

But anyone can play games with numbers like that, and misdirect people's attention. Indeed, in the case of the data reviewed by the W.H.O. we now know it was drawn from population studies, and many experts question whether these risk estimates can be applied to individuals who may have other risks for colorectal cancer. (Especially from toxic chemicals which can also find their way into the foods we consume).

My primary complaint, which is shared by author Devra Davis in her excellent monograph,  'Secret History of the War on Cancer' - is the medical industrial complex is trying to scare us off common foods that most people eat while turning a blind eye to the truly malignant carcinogenic risks of pesticides, weedicides etc. But as she notes there is a method to the madness; It foists the major responsibility for cancer to the ordinary person and away from the mammoth chemical industry. It protects their profits while holding US accountable for our cancers, say if we eat a hot dog or bologna sandwich or two each day instead of lentils and arugula.

In her book,  Davis accurately documents that people get told over and over (by the likes of the American Cancer Society and their physician enablers, apologists) that "too much fat" is causing their cancers - whether of lungs, bladders, prostate gland or breasts - and hence they bear greatest responsibility. ( Never mind the evidence from more than 80 years of cumulative data which discloses it's chemicals in the environment that contribute more than fifty times as much.)

But this sort of dishonest PR show is now common in the US of A.

The trouble is that most of us no longer buy into it. We have the evidence that there are far more pervasive risks to our health than eating a hot dog or bratwurst a day!

If the powers that be - whatever their source -  want to really protect citizens from carcinogens, they will first attend to the REAL culprits, e.g. everything from PFOA(perflurorooctanoic acid ) -based chemicals and additives, that causes monstrous birth or sexual defects in young kids to phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates), such as bisphenol A (now banned in Canada and most of Europe ) to atrazine and acetochlor in herbicides (for a rogue list of all of the most dastardly chemicals poisoning us, see: 'The Body Toxic', by Nina Baker, 2008)

Until these medical meatheads do that I will go on eating my brats, hot dogs and salami - knowing that their increased risk of cancer,  relative to what's already in the environment via toxic chemicals,  is roughly analogous to the risk of getting more drunk by adding a thimble full of beer to a keg already downed.

Hillary Disgraces Herself - And Women - Playing the "Shouting" Card Against Sanders


"And he accused me of shouting! BWAAAHAHA! We women are all victims!"


Mika Brzezinski was absolutely correct this morning when she described Hillary Clinton's recent attacks on Bernie Sanders as "pathetic".  And Ms. Brzezinski didn't stop there, going on to assert Hillary was disgracing herself and all women by resorting to such transparent, gender-based victimhood, adding, "She ought to speak for herself not have people write her lines for her."

Two clips were played on 'Morning Joe' each of them as "cringe worthy" as the other to use Mika's term, with Hillary referencing that "shouting" (Bernie made the reference to people shouting about gun control in the last debate) and yelping at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday

"I haven’t been shouting, but sometimes when a woman speaks out, some people think it’s shouting,”

When a woman speaks out? So you presume to speak for all women? To bust Bernie's chops on behalf of "women"? You would use all women to advance such a disgraceful gambit?

As Mika pointed out, you know damned well that is not what Bernie meant!  He meant the general din that often accompanies most discussions of guns and gun control with each side shouting over the other.  Sanders' past comments disclose for anyone with sense and ears that his “shouting” line is just that – a favored turn of phrase that he has used regularly in the past few months, long before Clinton released her plan to address gun violence.

Indeed, in July, Bernie clearly said that people needed to “stop shouting at each other” on the issue of guns. In August, he said that “people shouting at each other” about gun control “is not doing anybody any good.”  So unless Hillary was out of it she had to know what he meant.

As Mika put it, she should not be playing the "poor little victim" card at this stage and anyone with common sense knew Bernie had no remote sexism in his heart or words when he made that remark at the CNN debate .

And then there is this little pro-Hill dummy, Amanda Marcotte on salon.com -Amanda Marcotte who psycho-babbles that in fact Hillary hit the mark - but in a Freudian, unconscious sense:

"but Clinton isn’t accusing Sanders of being anti-choice or opposed to women’s rights. She is accusing him of having unconscious biases, something nearly every person has, even if they are generally smart and have all the “politically correct” opinions. Most feminists have dealt with condescending liberal men who think their support for abortion rights means they get to talk to you like you’re a child. Sexism, like most things, exists in gradations, and it’s not a good look to pretend otherwise."

Please, give it up, girly! So what now? You want Bernie to get couched for a therp and work out his "unconscious biases"?  Really? Probe his deep seated prejudices held since he was six? Nice try, but sober citizens aren't biting this diversionary BS.  Your girl Hillary was caught out playing the victim -gender card, admit it and shut up!

What is even more choice is when this Hill-tool spouts:

"When he justifies those (pro-gun)  votes by saying, as he did in the debate, “the views on gun control in rural states are different than in urban states, whether we like it or not,” he is admitting that he’s just like any other politician, pandering to the worst impulses of his constituents rather than doing the right thing, even when it’s unpopular."

Yes, yes, pandering. Seems like I recall Hillary doing the same on the pro-Iraq war vote back in 2002. Rather than doing the right thing merely because it was unpopular.

But Marcotte's choicest remark?

"Clinton’s talking point is also landing because it plays off not-unreasonable fears that a lot of women have that at least some of the Sanders support base is coming from condescending, know-it-all men who have unconscious issues with women in authority."

Spare me! The real truth? We Bernie supporters have conscious issues with women who are dummies and two bit hacks, especially who try to invent Freudian excuses for a candidate who ought to know better than to invoke victim codswallop in response to spot -on debate points. Oh, and also expecting Bernie to apologize for being "condescending and overstating his point" - I mean you have to be fucking kidding me. Amanda, you've got to lay off the MJ candies! How about :"Hill" apologizing for unconscious, unprincipled changes in previous positions and hyper-ambition?

This brings up the fact in the next Democratic debate- on CBS November 14th- Bernie now needs to take the gloves off and whup up on "Hill". It's either that, or betray to his millions of supporters he's not really in it to win it, only to force this changeling to move Left (for now).  NO more concessions or giving her the benefit of the doubt, and hell, even the emails thingie is cause for reconsideration if she doesn't back off on her snide, tawdry sexist tactics and  using gender -victim portrayals. What better way to portray her then as a powerful, snide, conniving manipulator? But whatever he does it can't be along the lines of what he said last time - especially if she is going to do a number on him.

Some possible points of attack for him to consider:

- Hillary was for the Iraq War before she was against it,

- Hillary was for the TPP before she was against it.

- Hillary was for the Keystone pipeline before she was against it.

Hillary is NOT a liberal or progressive but a neoliberal backed by scads of Wall Street money - and for that the Wall Streeters will expect to see some payback in her administration if she is elected. She is also a neocon warhawk as reflected by keeping so many Bushies at State - such as Victoria Nuland (instigator of the Ukraine coup of Viktor Yanukovich).  Blacks especially who vote for her will see defense spending rise - if for no other reason than to secure a 2nd term - and their domestic needs go unaddressed.

Her current yak up on guns is totally unworkable and is only being used to beat Bernie over the head as a differentiating point, given she now agrees with him on virtually everything else. But Bernie can't let her out maneuver him on this and needs to point out how she is manipulating the issue.

See also:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/25/politics/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-gun-control-shouting/

And:

http://www.salon.com/2015/10/27/bernie_sanders_is_not_dead_yet_heres_how_he_recovers_from_hillarys_charmed_october/


Excerpt:

"She believes in pay to play politics and global finance capitalism, the twin political and economic models she helped build. He doesn’t. She thinks we can keep them and still save our democracy and our middle class. He thinks they’re the cause of the slow asphyxiation of each. It’s a big difference and voters agree with him. The only way he wins is by exploring it in full."

Monday, October 26, 2015

Let's Cool It With The Kid Coding Craze!

Ten-year-olds Luisa DiGiano and her friend Devin Murphy have regular coding play dates when their new Bitsbox ships. Most recently, the friends had a
10 year olds on a "coding date" in Colo. using 'Scratch' - for mobile apps

Kids as young as 4, if recent mainstream news media are to be believed, are totally into coding. It is the latest kid pastime, evidently, even bigger than jumping rope in the "olden" days (of the 1950s, 60s). Nope! Today's kids are actually into coding for mobile apps if you can believe it!

The Denver Post Business  section lead story (p. 1K) yesterday professed how so many kids are into 'coding" - especially by coding apps at bitsbox.com. It is claimed that even "children as young as 4 spend an average of 19.32 minutes a day" coding on a variety of outlets and resources including 'Scratch', 'Codeacademy' and others.  To read the piece is to believe that we have a whole budding generation of computer scientists in the pipeline, who maybe in fifteen years or so ready to deliver A.I. via some world renowned startup.

To hear some of the proponents gush about the kid coding craze, you'd think we were already there. (Despite the fact a mere 0.3 percent of female high school students plan to major in computer science.) Nonetheless, according to Alice Steinglass, Code.org's vice president of product and marketing:

"If girls can get these skills to learn themselves, they tend to be really excited about these skills, We get close to 50 percent female (participation), and that's because when you put (computer science) in a classroom and make it part of the curriculum, half the class is female. And they're excited about it."

But somehow I'm not convinced, and remain skeptical that these little, pre-teen coders are doing anything other than mechanical tasks, invoking a minimal of critical thinking skills - or even computational thinking.. I soon found support for my suspicions in an article on the Stanford website by Shuchi Grover - who also cast a somewhat jaundiced eye on all the claims for budding kid coders emerging.

Grover noted that the 2020 Science report released in 2005 observed that science was "changing in a subtle but fundamental way--from the use of computing to support scientific work, to integrating Computer Science (CS) concepts and tools into the very fabric of science. One only has to look at how data science played a role in the Obama win in 2012, or what movie-making has become today, to realize that the science of computing is changing the face of many fields in equally dramatic, if not quite as fundamental, ways."

This is so, and one only need read through recent published abstracts- say in astrophysics - to see the extent to which numerical simulations, for example, have served as a stand- in for genuine science. By which I mean based on actual observed evidence in the real world - not merely what a computer coughs up.  The sober fact is that, given the right computer, software and algorithms, virtually anyone familiar with a computing language can cook up beautiful images, say of the meriodonal flows in the Sun, or a model coronal hole ....or a CME! (Coronal mass ejection). This isn't necessarily science, because if actual observations aren't supported then it is more in the realm of speculation. (I still recall attending a Solar Physics division conference in May, 2009, and a numerical simulation paper of the solar tachocline and meriodonal flows was presented. When the guy was asked if it helped to advance solar predictions, say for the onset of the next solar cycle, he replied "Not really". )

Grover observes:

"Yet, a generation of middle and high school students moves forward without even a cultivated awareness of computational influences on diverse fields of human endeavor. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about the growth of computing jobs magnifies this schism between opportunity and capacity. In high schools and college, misconceptions and sheer lack of awareness about computer science, as well as sub-optimal early introductory CS experiences exact a heavy enrollment toll. Exposure to computing in the K-12 ecosystem could remedy this malaise--provided it’s done right."

A statement with which no didact can really argue. The central issue is whether this coding craze actually builds computational (not to mention critical) thinking skills.

Grover cites  Jeannette Wing’s "hugely influential article", "Computational Thinking,"  which argued that to reading, writing, and arithmetic, we should add computational thinking to every child’s analytical ability. Her point was that the  essence of computational thinking is in ‘thinking like a computer scientist’ when confronted with a problem.

This entails thinking logically and algorithmically understanding not only notions of flow of control in a programmatic solution but also how to systematically break down a problem and then compose an algorithmic solution.  But things are not always so straightforward. As I noted in a Nov. 2009 post regarding a high -end radiotherapy software program (for stereotactic radiosurgery)  even a tiny, innocuous assumption in the wrong place could translate into a significant aberration or displacement of the ‘head model’ and disrupt the stereotactic field (e.g throw the planning field off markedly from the real 3D head target region).

In these complex programs a danger enters when one assumes that individually interfacing modules wouldn’t be affected. But even a small, inconsequential error of the order of a single pixel in an accepted stereotactic image can often resulted in deviations, displacements many times greater. Many of these sort of internal software deviations can be traced directly to the modularity applicable to a given software program. Modularization allows the software designer to decompose a system into functional units, to impose hierarchical ordering on function usage, implement data abstractions and develop independently useful subsystems. Thus, on further examination of the modules, one may find  breakdowns in mutual exclusion – an attribute necessary to preserve modularity. Basically, “ME” is needed to ensure multiple processes don’t attempt to update the same components of the shared processing state at the same time. Will these kid coders be competent enough and develop the needed skills to see these aspects in the future?

I don't know. Neither does Grover. As he notes:

"Introductory exposure to coding in these environments (Scratch, Alice, Kodu, and web avenues like Khan Academy, Code Academy, and CodeHS - among others) is easy, hugely gratifying, and motivating. But how deeply do these children engage in computational thinking? The answer is, it depends. Wing underscored that computational thinking involves conceptualizing, not just coding and learning the syntax of a language, and it’s more about the ideas, not the artifacts. It is the thinking we employ to design solutions, not the end product or projects."

He adds:

"Decades of research with children suggests that young learners who may be programming don’t necessarily learn problem solving well, and many, in fact, struggle with algorithmic concepts especially if they are left to tinker in programming environments, or if the learning is not scaffolded and designed using the right problems and pedagogies....

Other research studies over the last 2-3 years (including one from the Scratch team at MIT Lab) suggest that tween and teen student projects may point to apparent fluency as evidenced by the computational concepts used in their projects. However, probing deeper sometimes reveals significant conceptual chasms in their understanding of the computing constructs that their programs employ."


Grover then refers to his own experiences over the last decade engaging middle and high school students "in numerous computational activities (from programming games and stories in Scratch to Robotics to mobile app programming using App Inventor, and currently as a middle school CS teacher as part of my doctoral research"

His finding?   While children comfortably learn the WHAT (blocks or syntax) of programming languages and environments, "the HOW and WHY is much harder as they construct programming solutions."

Thus he advocates that "the focus of the learning needs to go beyond the tool, the syntax of a programming language and even the work products to the deeper thinking skills".

 Most telling, to me:

"I have encountered 12-14 year olds who have ostensibly marched through an entire Javascript course online but struggle to correctly configure terminating conditions for loops that involve Boolean operators in a fairly simple program. Anecdotal evidence from classrooms and teachers that use tools like Scratch, Alice or even the newly released Tynker suggests that while children comfortably learn to modify ready-made pieces of code as a starting point, they struggle when they must progress to tracing unfamiliar code, creating their own algorithmic programs, or debugging."

Finally:

"The inadvertent peril posed by the “learn to code” mania and the cornucopia of websites advocated by avenues such as Code.org is that they may (unwisely) be equated to “CS education” for K-12 schools and educators lacking capacity and skills for teaching computing. While not so drastic, it is somewhat akin to confusing architecture with construction. It also perpetuates the misconception that CS equals programming and that children should code for the sake of coding rather than giving due attention to other important reasons for why schools should want kids to program--to promote a way of thinking and problem solving, to use computing in intelligent ways in their future careers, and yes, possibly get excited about computer science as a discipline, and be primed for success should they choose to pursue CS."

In effect, we ought not let ourselves be deluded that this current manifestation of kid coding is an end in itself, or will even lead to better computational thinking skills or superior programmers - say, who might be able to competently de-bug a complex stereotactic radiotherapy program by being fully cognizant of its modularization and potential breakdowns in mutual exclusion.

I do agree with Grover that coding "is a start--a cool, fun, worthwhile and exciting means to get started with computing" .   But the kid coding craze enrapturing the public right now should not be mistaken for the end or the acquisition of  real world skills. To that end, it is more useful in the long run for adults to avoid the hype and approach kid coding with a more practical and judicious temperament, not given to excess ....or excessive expectations!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Explaining the Kuiper Belt "Kernel"



As defined by Wikipedia, the Kuiper Belt is:

"a region of the Solar System beyond the planets, extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun. It is similar to the asteroid belt, but it is far larger—20 times as wide and 20 to 200 times as massive. Like the asteroid belt, it consists mainly of small bodies, or remnants from the Solar System's formation"

But while we may know to some extent what it is, the more fundamental problem - yet to be resolved- has been how to explain it, i.e. its origin in terms of solar system formation models. Now, that impasse may well have come to an end,

A recent study by David Nesvorny, of the Southwest Research Institute - as reported in a recent Newsletter of the Dynamical Division of Astronomy, may not only account for how Neptune arrived at its present orbit, but also how its "migration" may have created the Kernel.

Let's first note that the orbits of objects composing the Kuiper Belt all have semimajor axes of 44 A.U. (where 1 A.U. = 149,000,000 km). These orbits also display low eccentricities (e) and low inclinations. The latter angles (i) denote the angle made by the object's orbit with respect to the plane of the solar system. The eccentricity of orbit defines how much the orbit diverges from circularity - with e = 0 defining a circular orbit, and e = 0.4 a highly elliptic one.

Nesvorny has proposed that the Kernel actually resulted from Neptune's outward migration through the solar system. In the model, Neptune began at a distance of 24 A.U. and migrated rapidly further out to 28 A.U.  As it traveled it swept up bodies in the outer disk in a 2:1 resonance that migrated along with Neptune - from an original distance of about 40 A.U. out to 44 A.U.  (The 2:1 resonance meant Neptune made two orbits for every one of the Kuiper objects.)  Such periodicities are of great interest in astronomy, and especially in explaining phenomena such as the "Kirkwood gaps" of the asteroid belt.

At the point of the shift of the Kuiper objects to 44 A.U. a close encounter with an unnamed fifth gas giant planet (since expelled from the solar system) caused Neptune's orbit to suddenly jump by 0. A.U.  Unable to keep up the 2:1 population were released from resonance and they remain today at the orbital distance of 44 A.U. , effectively becoming the Belt Kernel.

Nesvorny did previous simulations of the outer planets and these suggested that after the Neptune encounter, the fifth gas giant was ejected from the solar system by Jupiter.

We will have to follow this line of inquiry further to see if Nesvorny's findings are confirmed.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Planet In The Throes Of Destruction: A Glimpse Into the Future of Earth




For the first time in astronomical history earthlings are getting a glimpse of what it will be like when their own home planet is destroyed by its star, the Sun, some five billion years in the future. Thanks to the planet- hunting Kepler  Space Telescope we now can put together the process of a Sun-like star's end point - accompanied by the destruction of a planet orbiting it at a distance of 570 light years - in the constellation Virgo.

The star, having reached the end of its evolution and life is now in the process of annihilating its own solar system, with one of the Earth-like planets being vaporized by the star's searing heat and ripped apart by its gravity (as depicted in the artist's conception shown above).  According to the lead author of the study, Andrew Vanderburg, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics:

"Every second it's losing up to 10 million kilograms or 22 million pounds of material."

Vanderburg and his colleagues - according to an HSCA release -   also made additional observations using a number of ground-based facilities, including : the 1.2-meter and MINERVA telescopes at Whipple Observatory, the MMT, MEarth-South, and Keck telescopes. Combining all the data, they found signs of several additional chunks of material, all in orbits between 4.5 and 5 hours - generating a comet-like debris field. The main transit was particularly prominent, dimming the star by 40 percent. This disclosed the remnant of the Earth like planet.

The dimming transit signal combined with the comet-like pattern suggests the presence of an extended cloud of dust surrounding  the fragment. The total amount of material is estimated to be about the mass of Ceres, the largest main-belt asteroid in our solar system. It is conceivable that this is the reduced mass that's been left after the white dwarf  rent most of the original mass asunder.  (See below.)

According to Carole Mundell, head of astrophysics at the University of Bath, England:

"It's a glimpse into the future of Earth. It reinforces the idea that we are in a much more hostile environment than we sometimes imagine."

The stable lifetime of the Sun depends on how long before it consumes ninety percent of the hydrogen in its core. Theoretical investigations using data from nuclear reaction rates and cross sections suggest the Sun’s Main Sequence lifetime at 8-10 billion years. Since it already has spent 4.5 billion of those years, there are anywhere from 3.5 to 5.5 billion years remaining. Most astrophysicists put the balance at from 4.8 to 5 billion years.

When only ten percent hydrogen remains, 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.[1] 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. This translates into the Sun increasing its diameter to up to 200 times its present size.

Afterwards, it collapses to a much smaller, but vastly denser object known as a white dwarf. Even if the Earth were to survive the red giant phase (humans, of course, will be long since dead - baked to a crisp possibly a billion years earlier) the powerful gravimetric forces of the white dwarf will claim it and other planets.  This is possible because the gravitational attraction of a typical white dwarf is 350,000 times that of Earth's surface gravity. Thus, if we take Earth's g -value at 10 N/kg (or m/s/s) the typical white dwarf's g-value would be 3,500, 000 N/kg. No ordinary mass would be able to withstand such a gravitational pull.

Thus, the extreme gravity of the dwarf will likely cause the nearer planets to fall toward the white dwarf and disintegrate under enormous gravitational tidal forces. This seems to be the scenario now unfolding in the constellation Virgo and which the artist's conception portrays.

We should count ourselves lucky that we are able to merely observe the death throes of a planet like ours from a great distance. But we should know one day the same cataclysm will befall our own home, Earth.

----------
[1] According to the virial theorem: 2K + W = 0 for any spherical system in equilibrium, where K is the gas kinetic energy (K = 3/2(y-1)U) and W is the gravitational potential energy. From this one can obtain the binding (or total) energy of a star as: E(S)= K + W. Combining the two equations, E(S) = W/ 2 = -K. Thus, the total energy of the star is negative and equal to half the gravitational potential energy, or the negative of the gas kinetic. Hence, if E(S) decreases, K increases, but W decreases, i.e. contraction.

See also:

http://www.space.com/23756-white-dwarf-stars.html

Friday, October 23, 2015

Israel's Netanyahu Blames The Holocaust On A Palestinian Mufti


The book that Bibi really needs to read to educate himself!

It now appears that Israeli P.M. Benjamin, aka "Bibi", Netanyahu, is the latest addition to Holocaust revisionists - after the Yale Prof. Timothy Snyder did his level best to reduce it to a simple matter of living space, and European life quality. See e.g.

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2015/10/exposing-holocaust-revisionism-of.html

But it's one thing coming from an academic like Snyder, with his previous work ('Bloodlands') also tainted by eastern European optics and bias. It's another for the leader of the Jewish nation itself to be caught up in this twisted sort of bollocks. But according to a Washington Post report,

"In a speech  Tuesday evening, Netanyahu sought to explain the current surge in violence in Israel and the West Bank by reaching for historical antecedents. He said Jews living in what was then British Palestine faced many attacks in 1920, 1921 and 1929 — all instigated by the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who allied himself with the Nazis during World War II.

Then Netanyahu dropped a bigger bombshell, asserting: "Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time; he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, 'If you expel them, they'll all come here.' 'So what should I do with them?' he asked. He said, 'Burn them.' "

Netanyahu, the son of a historian, said the mufti played "a central role in fomenting the Final Solution," as the Nazis termed their plan to exterminate the Jews. Of course, his historian father would be turning over in his grave at this spectacle of an Israeli leader rewriting the genesis of the Holocaust.

The WaPo report went on to note that Netanyahu, the son of a historian, said the mufti "played a central role in fomenting the Final Solution," as the Nazis termed their plan to exterminate the Jews.

Bibi's remarks were made in a speech to the World Zionist Congress about "the 10 big lies" told by Palestinians and their backers.

But lo and behold, even Bibi's illustrious supporters were at a loss to figure out what exactly what he was doing. Indeed, his critics said his claims were outrageous enough to give cover to Holocaust deniers. Which they can and will, you can bet your sweet bippy on that!

Hell, even Zionist Union lawmaker Itzik Shmuli demanded Bibi apologize to Holocaust victims according to the Iraeli newspaper Haaretz. And when you also have a Netanyahu ally, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon saying that "Hitler initiated the Holocaust" you know you're deep in B.S. and piffle.

So what is the real scoop here? How did the germ for the idea of Hitler's Final Solution really emerge? Well, you won't find it in right wing circles with their assorted cartoon publications, or in most history books. What I did is consult the record written by German journalist Konrad Heiden - a contemporary of Hitler's  - from his book, 'The Fuehrer'.

Heiden spends a significant time in the early pages detailing the specific trigger for Hitler and the embryonic Nazis yen to go after Jews. While I already mentioned the ancient Volkisch movement which was fueled by the belief that the "Regensburg Jews" were to blame for the crucified Christ and hence merited torment and even extermination, the immediate cause is more subtle and not quite so outlandish. (Not to say the two causes could not have linked up later, and Heiden details many reasons why on pp. 454- 59).

But the immediate trigger appears to have been an obscure document entitled 'The Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion', which was actually found in the appendixes of a book published in 1905 in the Imperial state printing shop in Tsaarskoye Selo, Russia. (Heiden, p. 19) . It was claimed by the author Sergei Nilus that the Protocols "were the minutes of speeches and debates made at the founding congress of the Zionist Movement in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897." (ibid.)

The key section of the document laid out a plan for Jewish world conquest, i.e.

"In these secret sessions the Zionist leaders set out their plan for world conquest. It was there these speeches were allegedly made: 'We shall everywhere arouse ferment, struggle, and enmity - we shall unleash a world war- we shall bring peoples to such a pass that they will voluntarily offer us world domination."

In other words, this material comprised 'tinder' for any future regime that might  entertain a similar domination idea - and also provided a pretext to eliminate Jews as political enemies. The question became how it got into the hands of such renegades?

Heiden notes the book and its Protocols ( in its appendixes) were to have been transported to Frankfurt am Main to be preserved in a secret archives, but the courier allowed the materials  to be unsecured and they fell into the hands of a German engineer named Alfred Rosenberg (p. 20).

At the end of 1918, Rosenberg - who served in the German Army until it disbanded with the war lost - left with the Protocols in hand . Not long after he delivered the papers to the Thule Society "named after the legendary kingdom of Nordic mythology" (Also averred to be the unquestioned "homeland of the German race" according to the Volkisch movement).

Anyway, The Protocol papers proved especially interesting to two Thule members, Rudolph Hess and Dietrich Eckhart. Soon thereafter the Protocols appeared in German ("a certain Ludwig Muller signed his name as publisher"). Subsequently, the Protocols "were published in America, in Italy in Hungary" and Heiden also refers to (p. 23):

"The Bishop of Warsaw recommending the book's dissemination"

The material itself, while mostly codswallop, wasn't enough to trigger massive retaliation and extermination of the Jews in Germany. It still required a catalyst to set off the meme and the actions. That meme flashed into view with the takeover of Russia by the Bolsheviks (communists) and the fact that one of the leading minds who formulated the doctrines of communism (in 'The Communist Manifesto')  was a Jew - named Karl Marx.

Given communists, socialists and the Left in general were the most active protestors against the Nazi takeover and bully tactics in the early 1930s, it didn't take much to make the connection to Jews, and then a "Jewish conspiracy of world domination",  thereby justifying a "Final Solution".

As Heiden later observes (p. 456):

"Socialists and Communists, it is true, had a worse time of it if they were Jews. In the concentration camps they were segregated and treated with special harshness. But primarily the blow was directed against Marxism, the socialist and democratic Left.  In the National Socialist formulation the political weapon of Jewry must be broken first, not yet Jewry itself."

Thus had the Nazis, in their minds, put "two plus two" together that the Jews and the communists (their fellow travelers) had to be against the State, the Reich and hence had to be eliminated.  First, the political weapons,  then the Jews themselves.

THIS is the history that Bibi really needs to read and understand, next time he spouts off about the Holocaust being incited by a "mufti".

Sadly, it's much easier to grandstand and revise history on the fly, than it is to dig deeper at the insidious causes of that horrific event.

See also:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/max-blumenthal/64422/painting-palestinians-as-nazis-netanyahu-incites-a-wave-of-vigilante-violence

Excerpt:

"There is no evidence to support Netanyahu’s statements about the Mufti’s malignant influence over Hitler. According to a full readout of the November 28, 1941 meeting between the two, the Mufti never urged Hitler to “burn [the Jews],” as Netanyahu alleged. Hitler’s discussion with the Mufti occurred months after the liquidation of nearly the entire Jewish population of Lithuania and weeks after the slaughter at Babi Yar, where over 34,000 Ukrainian Jews were killed in one of the largest massacres of World War Two. Contrary to Netanyahu’s claims, the engines of genocide were roaring by the time the Mufti and Hitler met.

Almost every aspect of Netanyahu’s screed was false, down to his claim that Husseini died in Cairo before he could be summoned to testify at the Nuremberg Tribunal. (He died in Beirut in 1974). In absolving Hitler of overseeing the Jewish genocide, Netanyahu dabbled in Holocaust denial, a crime in several European countries. "

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hillary Leaves Goops In The Dust At Benghazi Hearings


Hillary holds her own at the Benghazi hearings. She left the GOOps looking like frustrated lap dogs.

Maybe now, after Hillary outlasting the hound dog Goopers - with grace, class and assurance - these  misfit mutts will leave her alone. If the House "Select" Banghazi Committee was hoping to score any points off Hillary they failed miserably. The front running Dem candidate faced them with courage and moments of humor that ultimately had them looking like snarling junkyard dogs desperate for a bone.

But a bone they didn't get, only a boning.

In truth, one could say Hillary prevailed at this GOP circus without saying a word. Her mere  body language conveyed the futility of these gathered imps (the Dem faction excepted) and their obvious political witch hunt. Only a hardline, hardcore GOP -er would indeed see any benefit on their side. As a salon.com piece noted::

"The fact that Hillary Clinton is often more effective when she’s cornered, and that she seems to have retained some of the poise and focus she demonstrated at the Democratic debates, pushes this even more into her column."

Here are the contrasts boiled down to the basics:

Clinton: Poised, knowledgeable, contrite, humble, clear.

Republicans: Small, petty, uninterested, disjointed, prepossessed.

Especially, the loser Trey Gowdy - presiding over the hearings, who looked more like a lost dog catcher from Dogpatch, SC than a serious inquisitor or hearings chair. His whiny, nasal redneck twang even gave him away as perhaps better fitted for chasing runaway hounds - or collecting their poop- than presiding over a serious committee. (Especially after Elijah Cummings, D- MD, got done raking him and his fellow GOOPr hoaksters over the coals!)

The real question is why this farce is still going on after already wasting $5 million of taxpayer money.

The idiot Reepos kept pressing Hillary for 'why' it happened but that's already been asked and answered.  Nearly two years ago.

In the wake of that violent 2012 incident,  the idiot media (most of them) hyped the Al Qaeda connection as assorted Repukes - especially Mittster Romney- screamed and pounded for justice. A question on possible 9/11  Benghazi connections to Al Qaeda was actually asked during the 2nd Presidential debate by Candy Crowley. Almost every Repuke and lax media nabob - to a man -asserted that saying a vile, vicious anti-Muslim video was responsible "amounted to foolishness". They insisted it was Al Qaeda, thereby providing their presumptive 9/11 analogy and confirmation bias.

Thanks to a New York Times investigative piece ('Deadly Mix In Benghazi, False Allies, Rude Video', December 29, 2013) we now know that the same American-made anti-Islamic video WAS responsible, and incited anti-American rage but it wasn't Al Qaeda involved. Rather, it was one of the militias with which the U.S. had made common cause to oust Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi.  In retrospect, this also shows the wisdom of the U.S. not compounding previous errors by making an alliance with the Syrian rebels to take down Assad, see e.g.  http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2013/09/if-youre-agaist-radical-jihadists-you.html

As the NY Times piece stated:

"Months of investigation centered on extensive  interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault.

The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO's extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in part by anger at an American -made video denigrating Islam."

The piece went on to delve into the basis in much more detail while also noting the (usually) garrulous Darryl Issa (then committee chair)  "had no comment" and that the incident "shows the risks of expecting American aid in a time of desperation to buy durable loyalty and the difficulty of discerning friends from allies in convenience in a culture shaped by decades of anti-American sentiment."

This provides the cautionary lesson for the U.S. not to meddle in Middle East affairs or states - whether by indirect interjection (via NATO air attacks and supplying rebels, as in Libya) or direct, as was contemplated two years ago when the thought of using Syrian rebels to attack Hafez Assad was bruited in tandem with a cruise missile assault.  It also provides another domestic political lesson, of ignoring political grandstanding by known demagogues such as Darryl Issa, Peter King (R, NY), Lindsey Graham, and their assorted clones - like Trey 'Hay' Gowdy.

Btw, as far as "protection" at embassies,  let's remind ourselves it was the GOP that repeatedly cut the budget - not just for the Embassy in Benghazi, but around the world.

Meanwhile, look for reality to remain the casualty with this Benghazi witch hunt and the pukes to have no problem squandering tens of millions  more of your tax dollars on  a lengthy investigation that will go nowhere. Given it's all about politics, in this case trying to diminish Hillary's  presidential election chances.

But according to a recent poll, 53% of Americans want no more part of it. The GOOPs best pay attention or pay the price next year.

A Word to the Wise: Don't Take Political Party Names Literally!


An ignorant billboard showing erroneous conflation of "socialisms" (scare quotes because "National Socialism" is actually fascism.)

One of the difficulties that corrupts debate on the blogosphere, as well as online political forums, is the failure of so many to correctly interpret political party names. That is, merely because a national party may use the term "socialist" doesn't mean it really is, any more than a party which uses the terms "liberal" or "democratic" can be taken literally. By extension, certain national names themselves cannot be literally taken to be what they proclaim. Common sense ought to apply here, but in many cases (e.g. "National Socialism" of the Third Reich), common sense alone can't discern wheat from chaff. One needs education too!

For example, 'the Democratic People's Republic of Korea' is nothing remotely democratic. North Korea is one of the most totalitarian regimes on Earth, has no democratic elections, or democratic institutions and even mocking the great leader in a cartoon can invite death.. Ditto with 'The German Democratic Republic' (DDR) which was the title used for East Germany - but not to be taken literally!

Thus, the guard towers I saw near the East German border at Allendorf in 1985, clearly showed no element or aspect of that country being "democratic".  No nation that would shoot its own people for trying to leave could be called democratic.

Another example: Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party is not "democratic" say as an analog to the U.S. Democratic Party. it is more a center-Right or conservative party.

The news that Justin Trudeau and his "Liberal Party" won the recent Canadian election, also has assorted nattering nabobs and untutored pundits painting that  party erroneously as "liberal" when it is in fact a moderate centrist party. The actual, bona fide liberal party in Canada is the New Democratic Party. (But even this can't be compared to the U.S. Democratic Party which is much more Neoliberal then liberal!)

Then there is the most colossal mislabeling and woeful misinterpretation of all, "the National Socialist Party" of Hitler's Germany, deemed to be "socialist" by too many who are not properly educated on history or the nature of German fascism at the time.  Thus, by virtue of this monumental ignorance, billboards such as the one at the top of this post can be created- and alas, literally believed by too many.

Learning the real nature of the Nazi Party means going beyond  wacko comic book depictions, literal assumptions and believing false history written by assorted Rightists. It means actually digging into the true history and political origins from reputable texts  - not those written by loopy wackos. For example, if the ideologues consulted Historian Ian Kershaw's masterpiece ‘Hitler Nemesis’-  they'd  observe,  (p. xxxiii): 

“Leaders of big business, though often harboring private concerns about current difficulties and looming future problems for the economy, for their part were grateful to Hitler for the destruction of the left-wing parties and trade unions. They were again ‘masters in the house’ in their dealings with their work force”

He added (ibid.):

The oppositional forces on the Left, such as the Communists and Socialists were crushed, cowed and powerless

This was in reference to Hitler dispatching his S.A. thugs in the early 1930s (and later S.S. after "the night of the long knives" in 1934)  to beat and kill Socialists (the REAL ones,)

Thus, the actual members of Hitler's NSDAP party would regularly - as Kershaw writes- : "beat Marxists, socialists, and any leftists on the streets while holding up signs that read: “Tot dem Marxem!” (Death to Marxists!)

Kind of a damned funny way to show kinship with REAL Left Socialists!  Now, if these "geniuses" who insist Hitler "wasn't of the Right" are correct, then WHY beat up on Marxists, Socialists and Commies of the LEFT? Huh? Can these illustrious nabobs answer that? Of course not, because the facts of history contradict their absurd reconstructions, i.e. of democratic socialists being the same as National Socialists.


How can we educate people to back off from such erroneous conflation? The short answer is we can't because their takes are based on personal beliefs not facts. Thus, their warp and woof is to always reinforce their preconceived notions. They pick out one or two things or aspects they believe relates to the true nature of the party under question (e.g. seizure of guns or strong gun laws) then illogically extrapolate that to be a fundamental characteristic. Hence, their preconceived notions lead always to a predictable confirmation bias.

Foxites that regularly tune in O'Reilly believe a constellation of untrue things, and that leads them to collect — even inventbad information to flesh out what they already believe.  The classic case is the dupe who by virtue of some streak of bad life decisions or experiences comes to believe "all liberals are liars". He then somehow finds Larry Schweikart's fishwrap book on '48 Liberal Lies About American History' and finds specious support for his false knowledge and bad insights. So again a classic case of confirmation bias. 

No one said that learning history was easy, especially because these days it's often rewritten and exploited to drive current agendas. But my claim has always been that if one digs deep enough he can separate fact from fiction. And, if all else fails, maybe he can take a trip to the nation of controversy - say Germany - and actually talk to those who lived history instead of getting it second hand, especially from ignorant sources.