Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Myth of the Antichrist

The "Antichrist" is a myth confected by misreading and
misinterpreting scriptures. There is no such person - now
or ever- but there likely is a "spirit of Antichrist" based
in hate, discord and division.

In the recent federal raid on a Christian Militia enclave in Michigan, a dozen or so members of a cult called the “Hutaree” were arrested and charged with attempted domestic terrorism in planning an attack on law enforcement officers. The basis for this was the cult's belief that the law, as well as civil government, were part of the System of the Antichrist – and these characters were “fighting on Jesus’ side” to thwart the "Son of Satan".

Of course, this is all horse manure. The Antichrist, with a passage or two (or three) taken out of context in the scripture, is a Christianoid myth that rivals that of the Abominable Snowman or Bigfoot. It is fodder for the weak-minded, to launch a spurious basis to attack and denigrate what they don’t understand. It’s also a facile way to demonize people – as many of the nutty tea baggers have with President Obama (actually many believe firmly he’s as much the Antichrist as an “illegal alien” with no legit birth certificate).

Where did the myth of a personal Antichrist originate? Some allude to Revelation, and mention of the “beast”. Even so, as a former Jesuit theology professor noted (from a theology course I took at Loyola University in 1964) this declares no personal entity. It could as well refer to a beastly spirit, or pervasive hate that offends, defeats and detracts from the love that the actual rabbi, Yeshua, sought to convey. Hence, against Yeshua (presumed to the “the Christ”) and so “Anti’ Christ – in the same way that anti-matter is the opposite of matter.

But the myth didn’t really acquire jet burners until 1988 and the publication of Hal Lindsey’s ‘The Late, Great Planet Earth’ – which set the stage long before the “Left Behind” series to reel in already weakened brains. Lindsey was so exacting in terms of his biblical forecasts and interpretations, he was led to go out on a long limb (another cautionary warning against taking biblical passages too literally!).

Lindsey built his interpretation on the identification of Israel with the “fig tree” and the coming of the Beast within one generation of its emergence (birth of a state). Since that birth occurred in 1948, and Lindsey designated one generation = 40 years (biblically) he reckoned that the Antichrist would make his first public appearance in 1988, and the Tribulation (the horrific 7-year period for his reign) would commence then. Everyone in the AC’s dominion would have to be marked with the magic letters ‘666’ which Lindsey surmised would be like an electronic code – similar to the product UPC codes triggered at checkout in a supermarket – to get prices. Without this special numerical code, no one would be able to buy or trade, or work – and hence couldn’t’ survive.

This tableaux also fit in with Lindsey’s other interpretations, including for the “ten heads” in Revelation – since at the time, the European Union featured ten members. Thus, the Antichrist was to arise directly out of what was the original Roman Empire, and also be in charge of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem (atop one of Islam’s holiest sites). The price for this was for the "Son of Satan" to be worshipped by the Jews.

According to Lindsey’s timeline, this meant the consummation of the world would arrive within seven years of 1988, or 1995. In other words, the Rapture would have to take place before the Tribulation (1987 or early 1988) and Christ would march into the world for his “Second coming” by late 1995.

Of course, none of that happened! There was no Antichrist, no Tribulation, no Rapture, and the European Union now sports more than twenty members.

Lindsey himself has now been long forgotten, but hey – a good fiction idea like the Antichrist never dies – so Tim LaHaye and friends since picked it up and integrated it into their Left Behind bunkum – or what I call “His Dark Materials” series for the slow of wit and lesser imagination. (They need garish scenes painted in over the top colors and hues to get scared enough to read it)

But changing the novelistic basis doesn’t make it a reality.

The fact is there is no Antichrist, just as there is no Abominable Snowman. Each is an artifact of a defective brain which, if not leashed in by reason and skepticism, tends to go haywire in inventing things and projecting reality onto them. (Look at the latest palsied efforts to prove the Shroud of Turin as real, despite the fact we’ve known for some time it’s a clever Middle Ages fake – probably devised by Leonardo da Vinci).

What do the references refer to then, if not a terrible (“evil”) person who will align with Satan and some say is his “son”? (Despite the fact that discarnate entities can’t reproduce – although in the heyday of Dark Ages demoniality, they were alleged to occasionally find a willing human- hence the equally enchanting myths of the succubi and incubi.)

I return again to my Jesuit prof, whose specialty area was, in fact, the Book of Revelation. As he put it, the Antichrist is not a person at all but a spirit counter to that which Christ taught (e.g. in the Beatitudes) - one that pervades the world and reduces it to a subhuman level by division, distrust, and violence. In other words, it precisely embodies exactly the opposite of what Christ advocated.

In this interpretation, people need to look inside themselves to determine if a spirit of Antichrist is present and wreaking havoc and hatred. For sure, any group that plans to kill others isn’t acting out of Christly love but a spirit opposed to it: Antichrist.

The Hutaree group is thus much more aligned with that spirit, than the one they call “Jesus”. No “Jesus” I ever learned about would condone the slaughter of law officers, especially at a funeral procession! Of course, there are some who might defend them by asserting what they had planned was “killing” and not “murder’. If so, they too need look no further than their own hearts to locate the Antichrist.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Principal Value problems

Some problems on principal values for the ambitious reader:


1. Find the principal value of (1 – i)^3

2. Find Arg(z) if z = 2i exp[-i(3pi/ 4)]

In general, the identity holds that: Arg(z1 z2) = Arg(z1) + Arg(z2)

Show it doesn’t hold if z1 = (-1 + i(3)^1/2) and z2 = -(3)^1/2 + i

Show an instance it does hold by identifying z1 and z2 that are appropriate and then showing the working.

3.Find the principal value for log(z) where z = (3)^1/2 –i

4. Find Arg(z) for:

a) z = 8 [exp i(7pi/ 3)]

b) z = exp(2) exp(i pi)

For the super -ambitious math whiz:

5. Let z1, z2 and z3 form the vertices of a triangle as indicated in the diagram. Show that:

alpha = arg{(z2 -z1)/ (z3 - z1)} = arg (z2 - z1) - arg(z3 - z1)

Hint: Any displacement vector in the complex plane: viz., (z - z0) can be formulated as a polar form:

(z - z0) = r(cos q + isin q)

say to measure the distance from z0 to z.

Complex Analysis – continued: The Principal Value

Before beginning a new insight into complex analysis, we look at the problem for finding complex roots. Recapping:

Problem: Find all the roots of: (-2 + 2i)^1/3

First we find the amplitude so that:

r = [8^1/2]^1/3 = [8]^1/6 = (2)^1/2

The argument (theta) is: theta =arctan (y/x) = arctan(1) = pi/4

(Note here that one must take care to specify the choice of arctan(y/x) so the point corresponding to r and (theta) lies in the appropriate quadrant. The reason for this is that tan(theta) has period pi while sin(theta) and cos(theta) has period 2pi. Thus, we specific arctan(y/x) in quadrant 1)

So, the first root is:

w0= (2)^1/2[cos (pi/4) + isin(pi/ 4)] = (2)^1/2[(2)^1/2/2 + i(2)^1/2/2]

The second root (k=1) is:

w1 = (2)^1/2[cos(pi/ 4 + 2 pi /3) + isin(pi/ 4 + 2 pi /3)]

= (2)^1/2 [cos(11 pi/12)) + isin(11 pi/12))]

The third root is:

w2 = (2)^1/2[cos(pi/ 4 + 4 pi /3) + isin(pi/ 4 + 4 pi/3)]

=(2)^1/2[cos(19pi/12) + isin(19 pi/12)]

And, of course, the specific root numbers can be worked out as shown in the last instalment though this isn’t really needed once the angles are given.

Now, to the Principal Value:

For a given complex number z not equal 0, the value of arg(z) that lies in the range:

-pi < theta < pi is called the “principal value of arg(z)” and is denoted Arg(z). Thus:

Arg(z) = theta where -pi < theta < pi. The relation between arg(z) and Arg(z) can be set out:

arg(z) = Arg(z) + 2 pi k (where k is an integer)


1- Find the principal value for z = 2/ (i-1)

We can use basic algebra of complex numbers to obtain:

z = 2/ (i-1) = -1 –i

then arg(z) = arctan(1) = pi/ 4

since we can let k=0 then arg(z) = Arg(z) = pi/4

2- Find Arg(z) for z = 1 –i

We have arg(z) = arctan(y/x) = arctan(-1) = -pi/4

So: Arg(z) = arg(z) = -pi/4

3- Find Arg(z) for (-1-i(3)^1/2)^2

z = (1-i(3)^1/2)^2 = -2 + 3.464i

so arg(z)= arctan(-3.464/2) = arctan (-(3)^1/2)) = (2pi /3) = Arg(z)

4- Calculate the principal value of ln(z) when z = 1 +i

Arg(z) = arg(z) = pi/ 4 which satisfies the requirement for the principal value such that: -pi < arg z < pi, and r = (2)^1/2

Then: ln (z) = ln(r) + i(theta) = ln(r) + i(pi/4)

But ln 2 = 0.693, so: ln(z) = ½(0.693) + 3.14/4(i) = 0.347 + 0.785i

5- Find the principal value of (-5)

Here, z is a real negative (angle at –pi located on real axis) so the principal value of arg(z) is:

Arg(z) = pi and ln(z) = ln (abs(z)) + pi i = ln(abs(5)) + pi i

Note: abs denotes "absolute value of".

Sunday, March 28, 2010

We're Calling for all Teabagger idiots to get a brain!

This idiotic icon was recently installed on a racist's blog to try to entice the weak-minded to "impeach" Obama. Of course, there' s nothing - no basis, to do so!

On another blog site, evidently an appeal has gone out for people to "sign a petition" to "impeach" President Barack Obama. We wonder whatever for. (Btw, the icon for the "hit button" to impeach is shown above). In truth, the only thing this largely white pack of racist nuts has to impeach him for is.....he isn't white like them!

Of course, I'm not the first to note this, so I can't claim to be original here. Indeed, Frank Rich in his last column in The New York Times ('The Outrage isn't about Health Care'), correctly explicated (and at some length) that this faux rage has been going on since the 2008 campaign when, at Palin rallies- effigies of Obama were being openly hung, and also loose cannons were screaming "Kill him!", "Off with his head!" and "Traitor!" The Right, as usual, dismissed all these off -the -wall cries and chants as mere politics, or "political expression" - nothing to get exercised over. Yet many of us on the sober side feared for Obama's safety as neither Palin or McCain did nothing much to stop it (except McCain did tell a freak in Wisconsin - who said Obama wasn't a citizen, and "helped terrorists"- that NO, "Mr. Obama is a decent family man".

I warned in a letter to the Editor (Denver Post) at the time, that this effort at de-legitimacy would transfer to the post-election scene, as the GOP and its reactionaries wouldn't be able to deal with the fact of losing a critical election- especially to a black man! Add to that a female Speaker of the House and they'd all but go bonkers.

The Health Reform excuse and all the trite codswallop about "losing liberty" or "government takeover of health care" is pure distraction and irrelevant. This weak bill is nothing of the sort, hell - it doesn't even have a public option - which even the mildest true socialist would demand. At least with the public option embedded, the government "intrusion" meme might have some merit, now it doesn't. The complaint on the "mandate" is also weak, since all fines have been removed and the only penalty is a slightly higher annual tax. The abortion side issue is a non-starter since Obama signing an executive order has now forced the insurance companies to accept no federal money. A recent WSJ article (3-24) has indicated many insurers - because TWO checks will have to be rendered instead of one (making a nightmare of bookkeeping) may now not insure for abortion at all!

Thus, all the above are convenient dodges, excuses to hide the undercurrent of straight racism. The mostly white tea baggers detest Obama because he is THEIR black president - and they can't tolerate the notion.

All the yapping about "bankrupting the country" is a similar dodge and deflection. If any of these imbeciles were the least worried about that, they'd look the U.S. Military Empire -building which is the true agency for bleeding the treasury dry. Don't believe me? Check out a recent sobering look at the expanse of the American Empire (up to 2007), provided in the book: The State of the American Empire, particularly the highlighted maps showing its expanse (pp. 70-71), as well as all the U.S. military interventions from 1945-89 (pp. 76-77). Meanwhile, the comparable military spending per person (page 67) boggles the mind into insensibility. When one sees these maps, and the graphics one rightfully wonders what exactly the tea bag contingent is complaining over when it's MILITARY spending off the charts bleeding us into impecunity.

An additional insight is provided with the global map of recipients of U.S. arms sales (pp. 72-73) . Adjacent to the key, the author notes:

“The USA is the world’s largest arms exporter and the U.S. government manipulates this trade to influence world events

Well, how exactly? Let’s let the author answer this:

“Creating a dependency on weapons gives the USA direct control of a client country’s capacity to defend itself, or to wage aggression, and indirect control over its wider foreign policy”.

If the tea baggers will go back to President Dwight D. Eisenhower's famous April 16, 1953 speech warning of the "Garrison state" - they will quickly see this solid Republican (when Republicans were also still decent, honorable and not taken over by extremists- was worried over the advent of a military ("Garrison") state spending us into oblivion even then, as when he wrote:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies- in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

The military spending has become so malignant that:

i) in recent decades Social Security monies have been raided to pay for arms, to conceal the size of the deficit (begun in Reagan's administration)

ii) Since 1999 the Pentagon has been unable to account for nearly $1.1 trillion it received in tax money. This according to former defense analyst Chuck Spinney who was interviewed about it by Bill Moyers on the PBS NOW program (August, 2002)

But the easily fooled tea baggers are fretting over $938 billion for health care reform (actually health insurance reform) which will actually reduce the deficit by $1.3 trillion over 20 years.

So - there is nothing there of substance on which to base a claim that is bona fide. All the outrage against Obama, including the call for his "impeachment" is therefore motivated by racists. Maybe even former Klan members. Who knows?

What people need to do now is settle down, chill, get a grip and recognize the person now in the White House is the President of all of us. Not just black people, liberals or "socialists" or "atheists". Either accept Obama as the Prez, stop yapping about him being an "illegal alien" or admit you are a rabble rouser and likely racist that simply hates the idea of a black man in the Oval Office.

As for impeachment, if ever there was a case it was Dubya Bush- launching a bogus pre-emptive invasion that will end up costing further trillions, plus allowing the CIA to run torture camps, and destroying the Bill of Rights via the "Patriot act". (Which admittedly, congress also broke down on since they failed to read most of it - so they ought to have been fired too, or at least their staffs)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Pope and the Catholic Sex Abuse Crisis

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger just after his election as Pope. He now must deal with problems created when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

It seems everyone from the national media to comedian Bill Maher is now focusing on the noisome, emerging facts that Pope Benedict XV – operating as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger- has helped to cover up the sexual abuse of thousands of children by local priests in areas as far flung as Australia to Germany and Brazil, to Wisconsin (where 200 deaf wards of a Catholic school were abused for years).

The expectations in the case range from the Vatican and Pope giving open disclosures along with a serious apology (one cannot be valid without the other) to the Pope being the first to resign in about 500 years. As the accusations have mounted, it is important to note, the usual Vatican allies and yes-men have rallied behind Ratzinger and mounted a vigorous defense- especially in admitting to any wrongdoing during the ten or so years he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and insisted on secrecy to protect the church’s image.

Will any of this matter, and what will be the outcome?

First, yes it matters, but (sadly) only to those families, innocents who were victimized by the priestly pedophiles. The long and short of it is that the Church views its survival and interests are primary to anything else. It views all the assorted human foibles and crimes that have occurred throughout history as simple temporal smudges that do not deter the ultimate mission: to “save souls”. Like the evangelicals, all that matters is one gets the supernatural “formula” right – all else is secondary.

We saw this back in 1978 after Pope John Paul I mysteriously died after barely a month as pope. It had been known in many quarters that Albino Luciani had intended to investigate goings on at the Vatican Bank under the notorious Paul Marcinkus and Roberto Calvi ("God's Banker"- later found hanging under Blackfriar’s Bridge in London in 1981) and that he planned to rescind the Church’s artificial birth control proscription. Neither of these, obviously took place in the wake of what many of us believe was the Pope’s murder.

See more at:


Like the current child sex abuse crisis, the Church and Vatican denied any wrongdoing – but David Yallop’s superb book, In God’s Name shows that they haven’t made a very good counter case, especially in terms of refuting Yallop’s numerous specific facts.

But time moved on, a new pope (John Paul II) was elected, and the Church could breath easier again. There’d be no Vatican Bank shake ups, and several papal encyclicals (e.g. Veritatis Splendor) confirmed there’d be no repeal of the Magisterium’s ruling that artificial birth control is evil. (A ruling, btw, which drove many Catholics away from the church, permanently – including me. I had no intention of changing my behavior and believed endless confessions stupid and a waste of time, since I had no inclination to “repent”)

Now flash forward to the present, and the revival of child sex abuse cases - but more widespread than those of 7-8 years ago. Did anything major happen the first time –including after learning that a number of the hierarchy (Like Joseph Bernard Law) were protecting predators? Nope. Will anything happen now? Nope.

Like the slaying of Albino Luciani and the earlier sex abuse flare up, the Church views its historical mission as trumping the foibles and follies (or crimes) of its clergy. Human crimes and misdemeanors are incidental temporal flaws that have no bearing (or effect) on the Church’s sacred body, the entity described as “Holy Mother Church”. So, don’t look for anything remarkable – just more circling the wagons by the Vatican like it did earlier in the wake of John Paul I’s murder, and in the sex abuse flap of 7 years ago.

The Church will go on and the faithful will keep their faith, simply dismissing the outbreaks as “peculiar to a small group of miscreants” and “not affecting the Church’s eternal holiness and objectives”.

The problem is that I do believe this latest crisis will have corrosive effects, but not in terms of making the Vatican admit to wrongdoing, or the Pope resigning. What has transpired is that the evident denial by Benedict (aka Ratzinger) and the Vatican will terminate in their losing their moral credibility- certainly to many Catholics, but more importantly to the vast constellation of outside observers. Without that moral credibility - to pass judgments on moral issues ranging from artificial contraception, to abortion, to masturbation, to homosexuality - the Catholic church will emerge as an anachronism out of touch and out of its moral depth.

For if it can’t accept its own moral failings and mortal sins, how on Earth can it hope to insinuate or project them onto others, including members of its own flock? In truth, it can’t.

Will the Catholic Church go on? I have no doubt at all. Will it gain more converts? Sure, mainly of the poor, the ignorant and dispossessed in the more backward nations of the planet, as well as immigrants. However, its days as the moral arbiter and voice for the advanced nations in Europe, North America and Australia are forever gone. Those nations are becoming ever more secular (excepting the U.S. which is becoming more evangelical- fundamentalist) and the Vatican’s voice has been reduced to that of less than street noise in Berlin, or Paris, or Geneva.

The Roman Catholic Church will thereby become a literal shell and poor shadow of its former self (hearkening back to the 1950s-60s) still demanding secular politicians heed its calls to moral obligation (as in rejecting abortion) even as its Vatican bankers continue to count their loot and riches undeterred by any external threats of inspection or regulation.

They might have done better to learn their lessons after the killing of Alberto Luciani – who (if he’d lived long enough to utter a few words) might have told them not to try to thwart evil by burying it.

Spare me the "bipartisan rage" crappola!

A sad and sorry commentary on the corporo-media has occurred as the tea bagger outrages reached fever pitch- including cutting gas lines, and tossing bricks through windows. The corporate media then switched into false balance or “the incivility is bipartisan” mode, as it dredged up incidents of past leftist abuse and attempted to place both right extremists and its concocted left extremists on the same spectrum of misbehavior.

The most recent embodiment of this malarkey emerged in today's Wall Street Journal from columnist Peggy Noonan ('The Heat is on: We May Get Burned') wherein she insists: "political rage is a national problem not a partisan one". Actually, lady, you are correct - it IS National, but also totally partisan - on the RIGHT!

Mayhap the lady was misled when Repug House Minority whip Eric Cantor came out in the media asserting "a bullet had been fired into his office". (leading people to suspect an irate leftie did it). I suspected, and Salon.com confirmed in its lead story for March 26, 2010 (‘Eric Cantor’s Phony Victim Story’) that it was all a ruse designed to distract from the ongoing right wing violence and portray conservatives and the GOP as much victims as the Democrats.



Meanwhile, the Richmond, Va. Police confirmed the bullet was a stray. Salon also noted the building was totally nondescript so there was no indication that Cantor or anyone else lived there. Cantor invoking his "Jewish heritage" made his spurious charges even more reprehensible, painting the putative “angry leftist” as also anti-Semitic.

But the kibosh was delivered on this mutual rage idiocy long before the tea bagger displays of “intermittent explosive disorder” appeared[1]. In a special issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report [2], the extent of right wing hate groups throughout the country was firmly documented- including their locations by code (for Patriot Groups, White Nationalist, Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederate-Secessionist, Racist-Skinhead, Neo-Nazi and Christian Identity). A total of 932 hate groups – all on the Right- documented by the SPLC staff.



Never mind the efforts of both Salon.com and the SPLC, the predictable punditocracy of the Right – which trades in specious neutralizing and false balance – would not be denied, except for one voice crying in the wilderness, that of David Frum. To his credit, Mr. Frum warned that the energized GOP effort to demonize Obama and the Dems would backfire electorally, and become their Waterloo in November. He was immediately fired from the American Eneterprise Institute for his willingness to exercise his free speech rights, as opposed to mouthing FOX propaganda.

Others haven't been so forthcoming, like Peggy Noonan - seeking to lay blame on left and right - when I saw no leftie using the N-word and spitting on any black Republican House reps . Oh wait, there aren't any!

Chris Matthews Ignorant Faux Pas:

To his credit, Hardball commentator Chris Matthews – on his March 25, 2010 show- did aver that when Bush passed his mammoth tax cuts in 2001 the “Left didn’t lose it” like the Right’s tea bag contingent since the health reform bill passed four days earlier. According to Matthews, they “sucked it up”. Well, in truth we did – with a sigh – because we also knew it would blow a hole in the deficit the size of an Apollo asteroid, as well as make many domestic programs almost impossible to enact in any future Dem administration. And note, this was even before Bush and Cheney launched their pre-emptive invasions to eat up another trillion and a half in tax money.

In the next breath, however, he brought up the extreme Right’s brutal treatment of Adlai Stevenson in Dallas, in October, 1963 (which originally prompted Stevenson to warn JFK to call off his visit there) and how he was smacked with placards, spat upon etc. To his eternal discredit, Chris then hung himself out to dry by saying:

“Well, you had this raging reaction of the Right in Dallas, but then….a Leftist went and killed Kennedy”

Showing Matthews had invested in the false reality map of the “Oswald / leftist = lone nut assassin” mulch- indicating his knowledge of the asssassination is nada. With this single remark, Matthews nearly ruined all the other accurate statements he made.

At least Newsweek journalist Kenneth Crawford, in ‘The Enemies He Made’ in Newsweek, Dec. 2, 1963, p. 35 , had the perceptiveness to acknowledge:

“the suspicious irony inherent in a lone-pro-Castro gunman being fingered in a city (Dallas) regarded as a ‘citadel of right wing strength".

Maybe the immediacy in time – Crawford wrote his piece within a week of the assassination, afforded him a superior insight to the one on offer from the MSNBC Hardball host. Crawford had the benefit of viewing the event before it had been contaminated with the Warren Whitewash, the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird spin cycle, and the corporate media’s 40-year cooperation not to trouble fragile American minds with a conspiracy- replacing it with the fiction of a lone nut.

Who had probably the best take of all on the tea bagger outbursts and outrages? Undoubtedly political analyst Bill Schneider, who was quoted in The Financial Times (March 24, p. 4) as saying:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an opposition party so unified under the banner of its radical wing”.

Lest we forget, however, the radical right did exist back in Kennedy’s day- it’s just that they were confined to a small extremist niche or enclave and mostly called "nuts". This faction (including the States Rights Parties, John Birchers and Minutemen) were never taken very seriously, and certainly not to the extent of forming a wing of a major political party- far less taking it over. However, despite being cubbyholed, their venom did become legendary - especially againt Kennedy[3].

[1] IED, or “intermittent explosive disorder” is one of the new syndromes documented in the newest Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM-V) of the psychotherapy profession.

[2] ‘Rage on the Right’, in The Intelligence Report (SPLC), Spring 2010 (Issue137), page 43. The documentation includes not only geographical distributions but the websites as well.

[3]Historian Arthur Schlesinger documents the then hate and vitriol of the radical right in his book, A Thousand Days, 1965, Houghton-Mifflin, p. 755. As he observed(regarding the Radical Right’s response to JFK):

“Not since the high point of the hate-Roosevelt enthusiasm of the mid-thirties had any President been the target of such systematic and foul vilification.” The Right not only found fault with JFK’s appearance, but his “religion, wealth, wife, brothers, his support of Negroes and his refusal to drop the bomb”.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Newsflash: Ambiguous phrases aren’t “scientific facts”

It’s been brought to my attention that a certain blog has just concluded a series pertaining to “scientific facts of the Bible”- claiming or suggesting that the Bible has made a number of valid scientific claims long before physics, chemistry, hydrology or biology figured them out. This is total rubbish, first – because none of the nomadic sheep herders that scribbled the texts that later comprised the “good Book” were scientists, they weren’t even scientifically literate. Second, cherry picking ambiguous phrases or references is no guarantor of locating scientific facts. The reason is that in most all cases the references can be read numerous different ways, the phrase is inadequate itself (only a fraction of the whole scientific fact – and hence useless in any practical sense) and we have no idea how much translators mangled the passages.

Let’s look at some of these claimed “biblical scientific facts” to prove this, and meanwhile I refer readers to my earlier blog: http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2010/03/enough-about-bible-trumping-science.html

Genesis 3:15: “between thy seed and her seed” – the female possesses a “seed” for child bearing.

This is absolute rubbish and only works by twisting the meaning of “seed” into something it isn’t. Any biology HS student knows the term “seed” is specifically reserved for the male sperm – NOT the female ova! To use “seed” for both ova and sperm and assert the bible is correctly processing a biological fact is therefore moronic. If these ancient geniuses knew the word “seed” and were so advanced in biology, they’d have at least phrased it so:

“Between thy SEED and her egg” or “eggs”

By using the exact same term the Genesis writer has proven he doesn’t know the difference between seed and eggs, and hence doesn’t understand the basics of human reproduction.

-Genesis: 1:14
“God created the "lights"in the heavens "...for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years"

Proves absolutely nothing. Besides, a little earlier one finds (Gen.:1: 1-5) :

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day”

Now, it's clear that the “light” referred to in the last three sentences is none other than the SUN. However, it is clear from reading each line through that the Earth was supposedly made BEFORE the Sun. (E.g. Earth without form, darkness upon face of the deep).

However, this is physically impossible. We know from modern astrophysics that the solar proto-nebula had to collapse first to yield the SUN. (No planets, since they had yet to spin off the collapsing nebular cloud – and it hadn’t cooled enough to allow it). As the proto-solar nebula collapsed it also began spinning and gained angular momentum. This angular momentum was then transferred to regions of the nebula that cooled and separated from the whole, and these regions became separate clouds of dust and gas that aggregated into the planets.

Under a combination of electrostatic attraction (between larger charged particles) and gravity (attracting the whole mass from the center of the cloud) each planet was formed as what we call a “planetesimal”.

As more angular momentum was transferred – the planetesimal’s (each one) acquired their own spin (in a period of revolution) and specific shapes. The giant planets (e.g. Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus) garnered more spin momentum than the more dense, terrestrial planets. Thus Jupiter’s planetesimal ended up as an oblate spheroid with diameter of about 88,000 miles and rotating rapidly with a day of ~ 10 hours. Earth, meanwhile ended up as a relatively spherical orb with diameter of ~ 8,000 miles and day approaching approach 24 hrs. Mars ended up in a similar shape to that of Earth and a diameter of 4200 miles and day ~ 24 hours.

Thus, the Earth spun off about 1.1 billion years after the solar nebula fully collapsed, and it could not have come BEFORE the Sun. Indeed, the absence of the central mass of the Sun, or ~ 10^ 33 kilograms, would have meant the Earth- if made with no Sun present- would instantly have been hurled into a direction toward the constellation Hercules at 12 miles per second with no central mass to keep it in check. We can compute this exactly using the basic principles of celestial mechanics.

It is clear from this that Gen.1:1-5 has stated a patent impossibility which violates all known laws of physics and dynamics and is therefore WRONG! If this single statement gets a basic fact of astronomy wrong, we may well inquire how many additional references are in error. I warrant more than enough to fill the pages of the whole New Testament.

We also don't know whether the term “seasons” was plagiarized from earlier ancient sources that predated the biblical writer – like the ancient Sumerians. It was the Sumerian astronomers that documented the changing seasons at least three thousand years before the first bible writer appeared, or Moses. Thus, the biblical writer probably just lifted the information from a Sumerian source, or it was later inserted by 145th-15th century copyists in forging the fraudulent King James bible.

Leviticus 15:13: And when he that hath an issue is cleansed of his issue; then he shall number to himself seven days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in running water, and shall be clean "

Of course, we know today running water isn’t adequate to the task, one needs a good soap as well. THIS use of soap and water is what removes bacteria, running water alone won’t do it. The stupid claim that washing with running water (following Leviticus’ injunction) would “have saved millions in the Black Death” is pure bunkum.

The Black Death (actually a name for one specific form of plague – septicaemic plague – in which the blood is infected and the skin turns blackish) was caused by the plague bacillus Yersinia Pestis, which inhabits the blood of rodents: rats, mice, etc. Also a vector in its spread is the flea: Xenopsylla cheopsis. This flea feeds on an infected host(rat) then the plague bacillus multiplies in the flea’s blood stream When the plague bacillus multiplies enough it clogs the flea’s esophagus and it is forced to feed to slake its thirst. If all available normal hosts are dead or dying (as occurred in the spread of Black Death ) it feeds on a human. Thus, it effectively acts as a tiny syringe, administering doses of the plague to whoever it bites.

Thus, washing hands is useless – with running water or not. So long as any infected fleas are present and jumping bed to bed you could wash your hands for eternity and it wouldn’t help. Those who best survived the plague lived in isolation from all others, and made no contact with them – to the market, for trade or whatever. They grew their own food and stayed to themselves. (see ‘The Black Death’ by Sean Martin)

Following the injunction of Leviticus would have been a prescription for death.

Ecclesiastes 1:6

"The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits "

This is merely a generic, “cartoon” version of the wind. I’ve heard bright eight year olds give their own wind descriptions that are just as good. It doesn’t prove anything since it lacks specifics. What about the Coriolis force? What about major hurricanes which don’t follow any prescribed circuits? Stretching this blankish phrase into anything remotely approaching science is the sign of a desperate person seeking vindication.

Ecclesiastes 11:3 states that "If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth..."

Again, this is nothing and doesn’t prove the author knew one scintilla about a ‘hydrological cycle”. It is about the level I’d expect a bright kindergarten kid to give for accounting for the rain. Btw, filling in blankish spaces with one’s own detailed descriptions, viz.:

“Rainfall is part of a process called "water cycle. The sun evaporates water from the ocean . The water vapor then rises and becomes clouds . This water in the clouds falls back to earth as rain , collects in streams and rivers , and then makes its way back to the ocean . That process repeats itself again and again”

Isn’t exactly kosher. If these bible writers were that scientific then let THEM offer the description, leave out your personal, detailed “translations”. I could do the same for a trained capuchin monkey who yelps:


See here! He’s giving the latest equation in quantum electro-dynamics! Where R is an R-operator, g defines the gamma function and oinee refers to the power to which G is take in iterations of 3, then 4.

All of this mumbo-jumbo reminds me of the attempts some years ago to decipher Nostradamus’ quatrains. For example:

The year 1999 seven month,From the sky will come a great King of terror: To bring back to life the great King of Angolmois, (the Mongols),Before after Mars to reign by good luck” (Century X, Quatrain 72)

Which was interpreted to be the basis of a great war launched by…who? Well, fill in the blank! Whoever you believe to be a “King of terror”! Saddam? Kim Il Jong? Bush? (aka 'Dumbya' - who many on the planet would place in that category for lawlessly invading two nations, violating the Nuremberg laws)

The point is that there isn’t the detail available to make any rational or coherent connections or inferences, just as there isn’t with assorted biblical statements.

Further footnote: Citing middle ages’ personages like Newton, Kepler and others as valid scientific mouthpieces is also off base, since they wouldn’t have had the extent of background most scientists have today. As one wit once put it: even a 2nd year physics student now knows more than Newton, Galileo, Kepler and William Herschel combined.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Cosmic Perspective and Misreading Einstein

Albert Einstein - two years after his tests of general relativity at Sobral, Brazil. His fame arrived with these tests, but he became fodder for exploitation by religious zealots.

What is the cosmic perspective? In a nutshell it implies the rejection of belief in all specialness in the human species as the be-all and end-all of the cosmos. It means applying the Principle of Mediocrity to our condition - to wit, that principle which over the past thousand years has ever more removed humanity from its special perches - whether the belief its home world was the center of the universe or the belief that humans were the exceptional species in the animal kingdom. (Darwinian evolution having proven we are the DNA cousins of apes)

Thus, it amount to taking a long and large view of human existence, while nullifying its concepts of privileged destiny. These lie at the very root of human identification and meaning, which necessarily entail religious outlooks- but these must be questioned. One who persistently did such questioning is Albert Einstein, but the tragedy is that he has been so frequently exploited by religious zealots that few know what he actually thought. To clarify, the best strategy is to get access to Einstein's own writings in his own books, as opposed to what others have written on him.

One of Einstein's most frequent themes in his books, such as Ideas and Opinions, is that of "cosmic religious feeling". By that the great man didn't mean ties or adherence to religion or religious belief, but an expansive sense of connection to the universe at large. For example, he wrote:

"The individual feels the futility of human desires and the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world of thought. Individual existence impresses him as a sort of prison and he wants to experience the universe as a single, significant whole"

Einstein goes on to state that this feeling:

"...knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image - so there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it"

The preceding is critical to grasping Einstein's take on human-fabricated religions, since he establishes clearly from the outset that he links up or affiliates with no church or any dogma. Nor with a God that is crafted in any human image. Thus, fundamentalists who try to squeeze Einstein into a pigeon hole of their own making do him and their own followers a great disservice.
Indeed, Einstein discloses the need to grow beyond particular God-concepts (especially anthropomorphic ones) and religious allegiances toward a more universal outlook. This is not an easy path, as those who advocate universalism are generally regarded as disloyal. Einstein himself notes (Ideas & Opinions) that those who dared (historically)to articulate the "cosmic religious feeling" were often looked on as "heretics" or "atheists". This is an amazing observation, given so many who actually try to press Einstein into their service, usually are extremely hostile to atheists!

To show even greater emphasis in terms of Einstein's personal opinions of orothodox religion, one may reference his words in Ideas & Opinions:

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called 'religious' then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it".

This is notable because it marks the first time Einstein has called out those who tried to exploit his fame for their own misinformation. Using his renown to propel their own nonsense which Einstein himself would have outright rejected. He also makes clear that he rejects a personal God, which means his deity would never be understood or comprehended by those of conventional religious backgrounds, for whom a personal God is central.

As Einstein biographer Jeremy Bernstein notes (‘Einstein’, 1973, p. 20), Einstein

was consistently agnostic with respect to any belief in a God preoccupied with the working out of human destiny. Though Einstein made constant and amiable references to “God” throughout his life, these were always taken to mean the rational connections, the laws, governing the behavior of the universe”.

And - reinforcing Einstein's own words- as Bernstein notes later (ibid.) Einstein had no use at all for any personal God concept or “Savior” derived from it. Nor did he even accept a life after death, as when he wrote (Ideas and Opinions):

"Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death. Let those feeble souls, whether from fear or absurd egotism, cherish such thoughts"

Despite the fact that Einstein's own works are seeded with warning that whatever religious aspirations he may have differs from the pedestrian norms (especially of American Fundamentalist Christianity) the zealots are still obsessed with quoting him out of context. Nonetheless, from 1920-21 on, Einstein was thoroughly aware that sundry agents, news editors had been putting words into his mouth, trying to portray them as at least allowing for a personal God, pseudo-Christian interpretation. After all, even today, scientists speaking to newspapers have little or no control over their content. Many times they are astonished to see words put into their mouths they never uttered- or beliefs assigned that they never embraced.

One of the most astounding wake up calls, or what should be! - is often ignored by the headstrong, indiscriminate Einstein quoters. This concerns clear statements of Einstein wherein he made it abundantly clear he subscribed to NO personal God, nor did he accept an afterlife - nor did he accept the concept of “free will”. As he wrote in his ‘Ideas and Opinions’:

"A God who rewards and punishes is inconceivable ...for the simple reason that a man’s actions are determined by necessity – internal and external- so that he cannot be responsible….any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the motion it undergoes.”

To clarify Einstein adds (ibid.)

“The man who is thoroughly convinced of universal causation cannot for a moment entertain the idea of a being who interferes in the course of events- provided of course, that he takes the hypothesis of causation really seriously"

Study the words and context! “The man who is thoroughly convinced of universal causation”. What does this mean? It means, following the original deterministic concept of Lagrange, that every physical effect has a direct physical cause EVERYWHERE in the universe. E.g.

O---------o (B)

If object A above collides with object B it will cause B to move off at some defined angle and with some momentum and velocity. (See the earlier blog : 'Laws of Physics in a Nutshell') Things do not occur without physical causes. Thus, for the serious scientist that accepts this premise, it is impossible to accept also a “being who interferes in the course of events”. In other words, NO miracles – no raising the dead, NO resurrections, and NO God men!

If Einstein accepted no personal deity, then exactly what kind of god did he accept? Bernstein in his biography of Einstein makes it abundantly clear (op. cit., p. 21), that his god inhered in the "rational connections, the laws governing the behavior universe.... wich are also comprehensible to us". Of course, this "god" would not be regarded as any accepted - certainly by the orthodox Christian (it might by the heterodox Christian, e.g. Science of Mind practitioner)

Einstein did leave the door open for the orthodox, however, when he wrote in Ideas & Opinions:

"To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering in natural events can never be refuted, in the real sense - by science. For this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains for which sceintific knowledge has not yet been established"

This is the place where the honest religionists' invocation of Einstein needs to begin. Not from contorted or distorted statements.

Finally, I want to look at one Einstein quote often mangled as it is below:

"This source of feeling , however , springs from the sphere of religion . To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational , that is , comprehensible to reason . I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith."

This is often attributed to Einstein but is seriously miscast, and the punctuation wrong- which totally alters the meaning. Let us look at the actual quotation from Ideas and Opinions:

"To the sphere of religion belongs the faith that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that it is comprehensible to reason.

I cannot conceive of a genuine science without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: 'science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

Note carefully, the alteration in the presentation of the first quote. In the first paragraph, the misplaced punctuation (comma after that is) totally alters the meaning intended. Thus, Einstein meant that the religious faith he mentions is faith that the universe conforms to a regularity in laws....physical laws. So this is consistent with elucidating his god as the "laws of the universe". His point here is that if religion lacks this faith in the regularity of physical laws, it's blind. If science lacks the faith element that the physical laws are regular, then science is lame. What he meant is that without such implicit faith scientists would lack the confidence to formulate their laws. They would adopt merely formulistic, conditional approaches with no generality.

The problem is so few grasp what Einstein really meant, confirming Abraham Pais' take in his article, 'Einstein and The Press', Physics Today (August, 1994) , p. 30.

"In my opinion, Einstein's worldwide renown was caused by the role of language. Even though so very few had a real grasp of Einstein's contributions their contents nevertheless lend themselves very well to expression in everyday language. Because Einstein communicated in language that seemed to be accessible, everyone thought they knew what he was saying - but really didn't. "

Or maybe they didn't because they deliberately altered the meaning of his words (by misquoting him) to suit their own agenda.

Let the IMF Into the Eurozone!

According to the Treaty of Maastricht, there is to be no bailing out of Eurozone members by any exterior agencies, if those members become insolvent or in deep financial difficulty. In the past month or so, of course, we’ve learned that Greece has been flushed into a precarious financial predicament by having bond traders take out lots of nasty, naked credit default swaps – betting on Greece to fail in its financial obligations, mainly to other EU members.

The whole thing has now aroused a hullaballo. The Germans, as well they should be, are strongly against a bailout. To use an analogy recently applied by Financial Times columnist Wolfgang Munchau, the Germans rightly regard themselves in the top slot in a soccer league with the other competitors way below. The others are way below because their balance of payments deficits are large and growing – while Germany’s finances are firmly in the black. This is the same Germany that was roundly excoriated back in 2007-08 by The Wall Street Journal for still being overly much a “welfare state” – especially a place where German workers received too much in pay and benefits relative to others (say in the U.S.)

The WSJ piece, as I recall, compared the fortunes of an unemployed German worker to an American. While the latter had to “pound the pavement” looking for a new job – by which to jump back onto the capitalist merry go-round, the German unemployed worker was able to take his family on a month-long holiday to Sardinia and chill out. Then, on returning, he read and edified himself intellectually - while intermittently looking for work, receiving about 65% of his normal pay (while the unemployed American barely survived on a pittance of unemployment insurance). More to the point, the German worker received his benefits for nearly two years, while the American’s only lasted 6 months. NO wonder so many ‘Muricans have to turn to God and prayer – they won’t get much from their corporate-oriented government!

Now, this was before the financial meltdown in the fall of 2008. What happened subsequently is that German workers were funneled gradually back into Germany’s revamped production system under new labor rules (that were still generous) while Americans were cut by the millions, eventually leading to an unemployment rate in excess of 10% (actually more like 17%).

Those German workers now are receiving an average of 34 euros a week in pay and benefits (according to a piece in yesterday’s WSJ) and are at the top of their game in terms of productivity – a primary reason why Germany is second to none in productivity and its financies are flush as opposed to other members. Yes, Greece (as well as Spain, Portugal) have lower labor costs – a fraction of the Germans- but their payoff is not so high because their productivity is nowhere near the German ball park. Add in spending beyond their means, and you have one explanation for their financial mess and being targeted by the international bond traders.

So, what do Germany’s fellow Eurozone members demand? Why, that the tight fisted Germans spend more and buy more of their fellow members’ products – whether cars, dolls, pancakes, furniture or whatnot. The claim is that the Germans “owe” this much to the others, to help them get their economies back on their feet – as opposed to being hounded by the sharks….errrrr…. bond traders. Even such financial mavens as Martin Wolf of The Financial Times has fallen for this blather, writing in a recent column that the Germans really need to loosen their purse strings!

I understand this sentiment, but don’t accept the Germans are now obliged to be the noble consumer just to help Greece, or any other EU member. Any more than I accept the American capitalist spin that already finance-stretched American consumers need to be "patriotic" and spend more on crappola - get in more debt- because 70% of the nation's GDP is based on consumption. The Germans got to where they are by watching their marks….errr.. euros, and not spending frivolously, which includes not spending more than they actually earn. This is a lesson that the Germans have tried to impart to their fellow Eurozone members, but with mixed results. The usual rejoinder is that "someone has to spend" or no one thrives.

What’s the solution? To me, it’s to allow the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to enter Greece and formulate a package for their economic health. The entry of the IMF does not violate Maastricht, since we are not really talking of a federation here. (As today’s Financial Times editorial points out). Nor would this be a bail out, since believe me – the IMF will carve out its pound of flesh to enable Greece to be loan worthy again.

As a point of reference, in 1991 Barbados had to go to the IMF after unwise government policies (namely large tax cuts) were implemented five years earlier and brought the island nation to the brink of insolvency. The IMF entered and issued a host of prescriptions, including an 8% salary cut for all civil servants across the board. It was this cut that triggered the departures of my wife and myself for the U.S. – since small though it might appear, it meant the difference between saving and not saving. It was as well we did leave, because in the next year a VAT (value added tax) was also applied to thousands of products including foods.

The irony of it all was that we were forced to leave not because of implicit socialist policies, but because of attempted CAPITALIST ones (tax cuts)- designed to emulate Reagan’s in the U.S. (Which proves that grafting capitalist finance tricks on a basically democratic socialist nation is like trying to graft a monkey's head onto a lion - that critter won't survive)

Anyway, Barbados has recovered nicely and I believe Greece will too, once the IMF administers its dose of financial castor oil – and the Greeks presumably take it (though they may not like it!). Sad for them, it may mean cutting back many of their public services, public support systems – but that may well be the price to avoid insolvency and a bond credit rating of zero.

The Laws of Physics In a Nutshell

The laws of physics may be described best as “the basic laws of the universe” – since the total of accumulated evidence (e.g. gravimetric, spectrographic etc) discloses they apply everywhere in the cosmos. Alas, it is not a short list – but grouped according to different aspects: mechanical, thermal, electric-magnetic, etc.

Students have often asked me in the course of lectures: What laws constitute an essential list, say for a text book of physics or science? I reply consistently that the book must reflect or embody the basic laws we know of, else it can’t be described as any book of physics, or science. Are these laws rigorous? Yes, they are – and at the end we will also see by way of examples how and why certain reported “claims” can’t be justified because they violate one or other of these laws.

Let’s begin with the basic laws of mechanics – embodied in Newton’s laws of motion:

1) Any body at rest or in uniform motion remains at rest or in uniform motion unless acted on by an outside force.
2) The acceleration of an object is directly proportional to the resulting force acting on it (F = ma)
3) If 2 bodies interact, the force that body 1 exerts on body 2 is equal and opposite to the force that body 2 exerts on body 1.

Newton’s law of universal gravitation:

Every particle in the universe attracts every other particle with a force directly proportional to the product of the masses, and inversely proportional the square of the distance between them. It may be written:

F = G Mm/ r^2

where G is the universal Gravitational constant, M, m the two interacting masses, and r the distance between them.

NOTE: the behavior of freely falling objects, or what is colloquially called the “law of gravity” is actually a special case of the universal law applied to Earth and employing Newton’s 2nd law, such that:

F = ma = mg = GMm/ (R(E)^2

where M is the mass of the Earth, m an object on it and R(E) the radius of the Earth.

By algebra (m cancels on both sides):

g = GM/ R(E)^2

and if the body is at some height h above the surface (h added to the radius to get R) we know:

R = h + R(e)


F = GM m/ R^2

Basic laws of energy, heat – thermal behavior:

Definition of Energy:

Operational : "The ability to do work" - e.g. E = F x d (force acting in a direction x displacement in that direction)

Ideal definition: (Noether's): “Energy is that quantity that’s conserved because of time-displacement symmetry”

The last segment, “time-displacement symmetry” refers to the constancy of physical laws in time. Time goes on, but the laws of physics retain a constancy of their properties within it.

Law of conservation of energy-mass:

The total amount of mass-energy in the universe in a system remains constant.”

This includes as a generalization the first law of thermodynamics, e.g. that internal (heat) energy is conserved, i.e. if two bodies are in thermal contact – and at different temperatures- the cooler body will have heat energy transferred to it, while the hotter will LOSE heat enerhy.

The Second law of thermodynamics (entropy law) is simply stated as:

The entropy (degree of disorder of a system) increases in all natural processes

Thus, for example, gasoline once burnt in your car engine cannot be captured from the exhaust gases and used over again.. Also, any energy process will also have a large part of any energy produced coming off as unusable waste energy. There is no way, or any process that can deliver 100% usable energy.

Side Notes:

1-Energy is relative. It depends on the frame of reference. For example, consider the energy of an object moving at velocity v. But, to the observer O moving in a reference frame with the same velocity, the object appears at rest so its kinetic energy = 0.

In more technical consideration, on the basis of the Lorentz transformation the energy E’ in a new frame will depend on the energy E in an older frame according to:

E’ = y_o(E – v_o p_x)

Where v_o is the velocity and p_x the momentum in direction (x). The factor y_o =

m(o)c^2 / [1 – {v_o/c)^2] and m(o) is the rest mass.

The point is that the energy in the new frame E depends on the momentum in the old frame, p_x. If this momentum is not conserved, then energy won’t be conserved in the new frame.

2- Regarding the “rest energy”: this is typically revealed in processes wherein particles are created then quickly destroyed with energy release. For example, the pi mesons.

The typical pi meson (call it pi) lasts 10^-16 sec then vanishes yielding two gamma ray photons in its wake,viz.

Pi -> gamma + gamma

Thus, rest energy is real energy and is capable of doing work. In the case of the pion above, the total mass 2.4 x 10^-28 kg, is converted to electromagnetic energy.

3- The “total conversion” of mass into energy isn’t feasible since it would violate the conservation of baryon number.

Law of Conservation of Linear Momentum:

In the law of conservation of linear momentum- let two masses m1 and m2 collide with each other with respective velocities v1 and v2, then the total linear momentum before collision must equal the total linear momentum after. Thus:

BEFFORE: m1v1(i) + m2 v2(i)

AFTER: m1v1(f) + m2 v2(f)

Where (i,f) denote initial and final values, so: P12(i) = P(12)f

Note the above law applies whether a collision is elastic or inelastic. The difference is that in the latter case, the mechanical energy (i.e. kinetic) is not conserved because some will be lost as heat due to friction.

Conservation of Angular Momentum:

This law applies to rotational motion. It states that the total angular momentum of a system is constant if the resultant external torque acting on the system is zero:

Thus IF: (SIGMA) d(T)_ext/ dt = dL/dt = 0

Then: Ii(wi) = If (wf )= const.

Where Ii, If are the initial and final moments of inertia, and wi,f denote the angular velocities.

The law (expression) is valid for rotations about a fixed axis or about an axis through the center of mass of the system.

Basic laws of Electricity and Magnetism:

Coulomb’s Law: Any 2 charged particles (e.g. electrons, ions) attract (or repel) each other with a force inversely proportional the square of the distance between them and directly proportional to the product of the charges (Q, q)

F = k Qq/ r^2

where k is a constant, Q, q the charges, and r the separation. Note the similar mathematical form to the universal law of gravitation. The difference is that the latter is ONLY attractive, while the Coulomb interaction may also be repulsive. (E.g. two like charges will always repel)

Gauss’ Law: The net number of electric field lines passing through a surface that encloses a net electric charge is proportional to the charge enclosed within the surface.

Other Electric –magnetic laws:

“There are NO magnetic monopoles. All magnetic field lines must end on one or other of two poles.”

Changes in magnetic flux always produce an induced electric current (Faraday’s law)

Moving electric charges in a closed circuit or loop give rise to a magnetic field (Ampere’s law)

From Maxwell’s E-M equations:

At every instant, the ratio of the electric field magnitude to the magnetic field magnitude equals the speed of light, c”

Generalized law for E_M waves arising from Maxwell’s equations, laws:

“Electro-magnetic waves are generated by accelerating charges and consist of oscillating electric and magnetic fields which are at right angles to each other and also at right angles to the direction of wave propagation.”

Basic laws of quantum mechanics:

Whenever electrons change position (energy levels) in an atom, energy is given off in a discrete packet such that:

E = h f

where h is the Planck constant, and f is the frequency of the emitted light (photon) corresponding to the difference of energies in the levels.

This may also be written: E = hc/ L

where L is the wavelength

Every material particle has associated with it a de Broglie wave with a wavelength

L = h/ mv

where h is Planck’s constant, and m the mass, v the velocity.

All atoms represent systems that can be described in terms of probability waves, such that these waves disclose the probability of where the constituent electrons are at any given time.

Pauli Exclusion Principle:

“No 2 electrons in an atom can ever be in the same quantum state, that is – no two electrons in the same atom can have the same exact set of quantum numbers (n, l, m(s) or ml)”

Einstein’s mass-energy equation: E = mc^2

“In any fusion or fission reaction, the total rest mass of the products is less than the rest mass of the reactants – the change (decrease) in rest mass appearing as energy released in the reaction.”

Thus: Delta E (change in energy) = [m_R - m_p] c^2

where the bracketed quantity on the right side is the difference in rest masses between reactants and products.

Special relativity:

Principle of Relativity: All the laws of physics are the same in all inertial reference frames.

Thus – this implies “the speed of light has the same value in all inertial reference frames

Thus- - in no inertial reference frame can any material object exceed the speed of light.

Time dilation: All moving clocks run slower relative to an identical clock in a stationary frame.

Finally, the “fourth dimension” is NOT a basic law. Rather it arises out of the Principle of Relativity – by virtue of referencing all physical actions, laws in terms of TIME as well as the three dimensions of space (x, y, z).

In fact, in principle, given the four dimensions x, y, z and t ANY ONE could be “the fourth dimension”! (The order of choice is not important, what’s important is that four dimensions are required to specify and follow physical laws between difference reference frames).
Examples of violations of one or more laws:
In the Bible:
i) Jesus' walking on water (violates Newton's laws, and law of gravitation)
ii) Lazarus back from dead (violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics)
iii) Feeding the 5,000 (violates the law of conservation of mass-energy)
iv) Water into wine (violate basic laws of quantum mechanics, including Pauli Principle)
Conclusion: If the Bible illustrates any such violations it cannot be taken literally or in the least as a scientifically informative source. It must therefore be a book of myths and legends. The physical laws as shown are inviolate, and there is no room for compromise unless counter-evidence can be provided or the miracle passages proven.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why the Squeamishness with the A-word?

Let’s cut right to the chase: the term “atheist” is now the most reviled epithet in the English language (at least in the U.S. - for "American English"), yet it’s used to describe (technically) someone who simply withholds belief in a deity. One would think, to behold some of the revulsion (especially in the right wing press and on right wing talk shows) that “atheist” denoted some new kind of perverse sex criminal or predator.

Why this intense hatred simply for disbelief? It’s important to address this before one can deal with the question of whether (or not) to call oneself an atheist.

Biochemist Jacques Monod probably comes as close as anyone to a decent answer in his chapter, ‘The Kingdom and the Darkness’ in his book Chance and Necessity. He notes that the “prodigious developments of knowledge” over the past three centuries or so have forced an “agonizing reappraisal of Man’s concept of himself”.

This knowledge is based on objectivity and reductionism, which on the one hand conferred enormous material power and efficacy, but on the other hand sowed the seeds for destruction of all the hitherto accepted myths, especially supernatural beliefs. None of these could withstand the scrutiny of science’s “postulate of objectivity”. For, at root, when one looks simply at the basic infrastructure and methods of science, it is a wholly value-less enterprise. In this enterprise, as we saw, all supernatural additions and confabulations turn out to be so much superfluous dross. To use Monod’s words[1]:

"In the course of three centuries, science, founded upon the postulate of objectivity, has won its place in society in men’s practice. But not in their hearts."

Sure, there’ve been weak attempts to patch over this chasm, but all of them are transparent. The most recent one is the religious’ acceptance of evolution as “God’s means to create the universe”. Of course, this is nonsense. At root, the naturalist theory of evolution in its full mold of natural selection and mutation has no need of any external agents, especially supernatural ones!

External agents do not enhance our predictions (from astronomy-astrophysics) or explanations (from genetics), nor do they help refine methods. They present no new evidence or insights for our inspection and hence, all other things being equal, they are redundant. The only reason they’re retained is to assuage and pacify the existentially timid, who otherwise may lose their bearings and minds when confronted by the brute fact of being orphans in the cosmos. As one co-lecturer told me in Barbados: "If I accepted for one second that only evolution operated, without the need or governance of a deity, I'd go kill myself right now!”

Multiply this pathetic response millions of times, and you have the reason atheists are detested so much. We are the nasty “messengers” coming to tell the villagers that their “Emperor” (the deity they believe in) has “no clothes” (doesn’t exist). Why wouldn’t a happy, more or less content villager not want to kill the messenger after hearing or seeing his pet delusions bushwhacked?

Despite the remark of the aforementioned Bajan, in none of the places I’ve lived or traveled, even in highly religious third world nations such as Barbados and St. Lucia, have I beheld the venom for unbelievers as in the U.S. It’s as if there’s absolutely no give, no acceptance or even the most minimal respect afforded. Once you declare yourself an atheist, you are immediately the enemy, and not much better than Osama Bin Laden or one of his cohorts.

Why is this? A first hint of the reasoning has already been given in the previous section. With atheism a whole new way of facing the cosmos is embraced. It relieves reality of supernatural managers, special designs and cosmic purpose.

The bald outcome is that only the most tough-minded rationalists and realists can confront such a universe and thrive in it. For the remainder, fear and chaos threaten, and they’re mentally unable to come to terms with a universe minus a Cosmic Controller. Rather than examine the subtext for their own mental and psychological deficiency, they take it out on the “messenger”, i.e. the friendly neighborhood atheist!

Two factors drive this: 1) a brain architecture that favors an optimism dynamic and “hope” even when reality testifies to the contrary, and 2) a pernicious culture of “positivity” that reinforces this brain defect, recently highlighted by Barbara Ehrenreich.[2] As Ehrenreich notes, American mass culture is saturated by a saccharine “cult of positivity,” with children brainwashed from an early age that they can do anything, and adults brainwashed to believe if they just work hard and long enough they’ll become super billionaires like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. That no one has slain the insipid “Horatio Alger”myth up to now is really a testament to America’s individualist hubris and false optimism.

What has this to do with atheism? Mainly that a culture of positivity will perceive the atheist as an agent of irreversible depression, pessimism and negativity! After all, what could be more of a downer than the notion that all the fun ends once one’s physical being expires? When you’re dead, you’re dead, and there’ll be no reruns or afterlives. Factor into this the brain’s natural tendency and drive for optimism at any cost, and you have a ready-made cultural and biological axis to deny and thwart atheism! The most expedient way to achieve this is by casting atheism in the most disreputable and inhuman terms possible, and the atheist as little short of a Satanic entity, if not the ugly bearer of mass depression.

Thus, every mental deficiency, perversion and inadequacy in the cultural positivity clique is projected onto atheists. We 're the “evil ones.” We’re the ones trying to “subvert” the grandiose scheme of the country as propounded by the Founders in the Constitution. In fact, that document was intended to keep the state from establishing a religion and to protect the minority from the excesses of the majority.

Many call the U.S. a “Christian” nation, but in reality it is a faux or pseudo-Christian nation. It postures Christian beliefs, values and tenets, but hasn’t the foggiest clue what they’re really about, or translating them into hard action. Look at the response to the health reform bill! (If that isn't helping those, "the least of one's brethren" - the uninsured- I don't know what the hell is). A recent survey released about American religious beliefs and habits casts the country in a particularly bad light.

The survey noted that fewer than 1 in 4 Americans could name even two authors of the New Testament. A stunning plurality also thought that the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” came directly from the Bible, rather than the actual author, Benjamin Franklin. More appalling, at least two-thirds believed the saying “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” came from Jesus, as opposed to the Golden Rule that existed from the time of Hammurabi’s Code.

It is fairly clear that this dichotomy between posturing and actual Christian teachings has bred a sense of hypocrisy. It makes sense that this hypocrisy will fuel and reinforce any anger toward outsiders, especially atheists who might have the chutzpah to point it out. What I’m saying is that in a nation replete with posturing pretenders (or what used to be called “Pharisees” in the New Testament gospels), these pretenders will invariably show more anger, rage against outsiders than genuine Christians. This is certainly the case, if one examines closely the American religious tableaux and experience.

By contrast, in Barbados, a nation with more genuinely Christian folk (perhaps because it harbors no military-industrial complex!) I used to experience frequent opposition to my views, but seldom if ever outright hatred and hostility. There was less reason to do so, because the people were more secure in their own beliefs, so that my unbelief didn’t bother them.

By contrast, it does bother many in this country. I believe for this reason, millions of American unbelievers hide under absurd labels or euphemisms to conceal their atheism. They figuure if they use a word less known, or not widely used, it will camouflage their atheism. It helps to look at some of these terms:

a) Freethinker

This is perhaps the most popular term, because it denotes an underlying positive subtext as opposed to the negative subtext for ‘atheist’. Being “free” is good, and so is “thinking”. What's to complain about - never mind it's nearly useless since it can apply to so many aspects of cultural or academic life. Being a “free thinker”, therefore, shows that one enjoys the full latitude of his or her thoughts without being subject to artificial censorship. Certainly, if you ask a thousand unbelievers randomly chosen on the street what they profess to call themselves, I’m fairly sure the plurality will tilt to “free thinker”.

The other benefit is that there are many more freethinker societies and clubs scattered across the country, than atheist ones. Thus, say for someone in a backwater of religious conservatism (like Dallas, Mobile, Miramar, FL or Colorado Springs) it’s far easier to link up with freethinkers than atheists.

b) Secular humanist

This term used to be widely popular in the 1990s but for some reason has more and more fallen out of favor. One of the reasons may be that it doesn’t really say very much. I mean, anyone for the progress and welfare of humanity (including the use of government tax dollars to provide social safety nets) is clearly a “humanist”. Being secular is also no real descriptor, since one might say that the whole of our modern society outside of the religious domain is secular.

More troubling, is the fact that there are religious secular humanists too, who from time to time make their views known. A perfect example of such a group is Americans United for Separation of Church and State. They acknowledge a divine force or deity, but at the same time believe (in accord with the Constitution) that the state must not meddle in religious affairs or promote one religion over another, even indirectly.

Again, there are often many atheists also in secular humanist groups, such as I found when I belonged to the Washington (D.C.) Area Secular Humanists (WASH). But they opt for the use of the term because it eliminates having to use the dreadful term “atheist.”

c) Eupraxopher:

This term was coined by Paul Kurtz in his excellent book: Living Without Religion: Eupraxophy (Prometheus, 1994)

I can see what he’s trying to achieve, but don’t believe this word will ever come into wide usage, certainly not like freethinker. For one thing, it just doesn’t roll off the tongue like freethinker. There is also a great chance that, having told someone that you’re an Eupraxopher, ten minutes later he or she will return to ask you:

“What exactly was that you called yourself again?”

This can really get tedious over time. though Kurtz must definitely be given an “A” for effort.

d) Naturalist

This is a more recent appellation coined by Paul Kurtz in an issue of Free Inquiry some years ago. HIs goal is in attempting the age old trick of avoiding definitions forged “by what we are against” as opposed to what we are for. This is admirable, again, just like his earlier “eupraxopher,” but ultimately fails at the task. It is also confusing since it:

- Makes it more difficult for nonbelievers to identify and network with their fellows

- Conflates a scientific (e.g. from biology) usage with a normative philosophical one

- Flees from an obvious and uncluttered identity rather than embracing it.

Kurtz, of course, would argue against all the above and insist he’s attempting to expand the purview of atheism beyond merely being atheists! Yes, we are committed to the pursuit of free inquiry, critical thinking and also the scientific process that emphasizes naturalism as opposed to supernaturalism. We also value the application of logic in arguments and discussions, dispassionately presenting our cases to any who would hear. However, all of those represent necessary conditions to the core identity that Kurtz (and I’m sure others) seek, and not sufficient conditions.

The sufficient condition is that we disdain and forego any belief in an extra-physical force or intelligence, or invoking such to try to account for physical phenomena and natural laws. This particular sufficient condition makes one an atheist as defined from and take from the ancient Greek usage: a-theos, or without God.

In other words, that we may be critical thinkers, “naturalists” or scientists as well is all secondary not the primary criterion by which we are distinguished from the rank and file of humans. Does this define or limit us in terms of what we are against? Possibly, but there is never ever anything wrong or less valued about negative information anyway. This is particularly true when the entity one is set against is ab initio not well defined.

For example, for most UFOs no positive knowledge is readily available as to what the aerial entity is, so negative information is most frequently employed to decide what the entity is not. For the practicing scientist (and certainly “naturalist” of the Paul Kurtz depiction), negative information concerning a collective set of data or observations is often as important as positive information at arriving at what an entity is. So, my point is we ought not flee from definitions embodying a negative information format.

An analogous situation applies to -G-O-D-. The term is so vague, ambiguous and subjective, that we're only able to say with any degree what it is not, in terms of existing epistemology. By the same token, defining oneself in terms of non-belief or non-investment of intellect is perfectly legitimate. Thus, by accepting and circulating the word “atheist” as applicable to ourselves, we at once signal to others that we don’t operate in the realm of miracles, invisible all-powerful Beings, special invisible domains (Heaven, Hell), or secondary invisible agents (demons, angels, souls, Satan). In other words, the very simplicity of usage in conveying our position (in terms of the field of artifacts omitted) is what makes the term “atheist” superior to the term “naturalist.”

e) Agnostic Atheist

This term is kind of a hedge between using merely the blunt term “atheist” and moderating it with “agnostic”. Think of it as a “buffered atheist”. Somehow it doesn’t come across as cold, or harsh as simply saying “atheist” (again, this is to most of those who have a dislike of all things atheist!) The term was probably first used by George Smith, where he distinguished the various forms of agnostic[3]. As he noted, this form of atheist implies a person who “maintains any supernatural realm is inherently unknowable by the human mind.”
In other words, even if such domain as the supernatural existed in some ethereal extra dimension of the universe, no one would ever know about it. Thus, it makes no sense to discuss it, or to even acknowledge any kind of ‘Supreme Being’ within it. Thus, if the supernatural domain is itself “unknowable” than any subsets (or supersets) within it are likewise unknowable.

Obviously, if one elects to use this term, then he or she must be aware that it refers to a specific context of atheism. In other words, one isn’t necessarily disavowing a supernatural entity, only asserting that it can never be known, hence is not worth discussing.

All the above allow some breathing space for the squeamish, those who for one reason or other can’t bear the thought of outright saying they embrace atheism or unbelief without the window dressing. For my part, however, I will continue to use the term that effectively and concisely says exactly what I do: withhold belief in an unsupportable entity that has no empirical benediction.

That word is ATHEIST!

Maybe one day, the squeamish will become more courageous in their use of terms, but I'm not holding my breath in the most godmongering, god-aholic, industrial nation in the world!

[1] Jacque Monod, Chance and Necessity, 1972, Wm. Collins & Sons, UK, p. 158.

[2] Barbara Ehrenreich: “Pathologies of Hope” in Harpers, Feb., 2007.

[3] George Smith, The Case Against God, Prometheus Books, 1989, p. 9.

Monday, March 22, 2010

More complex roots

We left off with the problem to find the 4th roots of unity. This is particularly simple. As with the third roots of unity, we divide the unit circle equally into four segments with the boundaries marking the roots. (See Diagram).

We have, n = 4 with:

w_n = cos (2 pi)k/ n + isin(2 pik)/n

For k = 0, 1, 2 and 3 then:

The first root::

w0 = cos(0) + isin(0) = 1

The second root:

w1 = cos (pi/2) + isin(pi/2) = 1i = i

The third root:

w2 = cos (pi) + isin(pi) = -1

The fourth root:

w3 = cos(3 pi/2) + isin(3pi/2) = -1i = -i

And note the roots correspond to successive increases of the angle by pi/2 = 90 deg

What about complex roots not of unity?

Say: (1 + i)^1/3
Let's first examine the incorrect way to solve it, then the correct way:

The first step is to find theta using the argument function:

Theta = arctan(y/x) = arctan (1) = 45 deg

And r = (2)^1/3 = 1.25

So the (incorrect) roots are:

w0= 1.25[cos (0) + isin(0)] = 1.25

w1= 1.25[cos(2 pi/3) + isin(2 pi/3)] = 1.25(-0.5) + 1.25i(0.866) = -0.625 +1.08i

w2= 1.25[cos(4 pi/3) + isin(4pi/3)] = 1.25(-0.5) + 1.25i(-0.866) = = -0.625 - 1.08i
This isn't correct because one must first separate the root-generated angles(2 pi k/n) from the argument, theta. Then solve respectively for the independent roots.

Thus, we have:

w_n = r^1/2 [cos(theta + 2 pik/n) + isin(theta + 2 pik/n)]

We found r = [2]^1/2 = 1.25 but in fact we need: r^1/3 = [(2)^1/2]^1/3 = (2)^1/6

The roots are then defined from:

w_n = (2)^1/6 [cos(theta + 2 pik/3) + isin(theta + 2 pik/3)]

Since theta = arctan y/x = 45 deg then, theta = pi/4

So the consecutive roots are(in order):

w_0 = (2)^1/6 [cos(pi/4 + 2 pi k/3) + isin(pi/4 + 2 pi k/3)]

since k=0: w_0 = (2)^1/6 [cos(pi/4) + isin(pi/4)]

w_1 = (2)^1/6 [cos(pi/4 + 2 pi /3) + isin(pi/4 + 2 pi/3)]

Working on the interior brackets (adding fractions in pi):

(pi/4) + 2 pi/3 = (3 pi + 8pi)/ 12 pi = 11 pi/12


w_1 = (2)^1/6 [cos(11 pi / 12) + isin(11 pi/12)]

and the answer can be left in this form, OR the readers can obtain cos(11pi/12) and sin(11pi/12) and work out the specific numbers, though often this isn’t done.

Finally since k =2 (for w_2):

w_2 = (2)^1/6 [cos(pi/4 + 4pi /3) + isin(pi/4 + 4 pi/3)]

Again, adding the fractions in pi in the interior brackets:

(pi/4) + (4 pi/3) = (3 pi + 16 pi)/ 12 = 19 pi/12

w_2 = (2)^1/6 [cos(19 pi /12) + isin(19 pi/12)]

For those who want the exact, specific ans.

w_2 = 0.291 – 1.084i

For w_1:

w_1 = -1.084 – 0.291i


Find all the roots of: (-2 + 2i)^1/3

Let the Conservative Meltdown Begin!

"Heh, heh, with the way I destroyed the federal budget it'll be impossible for any incoming Dem president to spend any money on anything for the people! Ha Ha ha...ROWWWR!"

The heavens will fall! God will rain down curses and horrors on the abominations! Armageddon – according to moron John Boehner (top House Gooper) will descend. And oh yes, the last cry of an imminent meltdown – “We will remember in November”. Promising to electorally punish the Ds for their over reach.

Don’t think so, sonny.

When a team scores a ‘W’ this big, as the Dems did in health reform, it demoralizes the other team. Like when Jacksonville took out Miami 61-7 in the 1999 AFC playoffs, or the New Orleans Saints did the number they did on the hapless Colts in the Superbowl.

Even conservative columnist David Frum pointed out that the Republicans have made their own Waterloo by trying to turn Health care reform into Obama's Waterloo. He's right. The Democratic base has been by and large re-energized by the passage of the bill while the Republican faithful are reduced to whimpers, whines and cries of frustration. Predictably – from history, the Dem base will then turn out in far greater numbers in November, all delusional GOP blather to the contrary. The discouraged R-base will find a nook or corner to crawl into and hole up.

The level of disinformation on this bill, as I noted before, is so vast it boggles the rational and judicious intellect. A foreigner viewing the spectacle might conclude one side (the GOP- teabaggers) has suffered a nervous breakdown or more likely, a psychotic level of the newly minted mental affliction: “Intermittent Explosive Disorder”. (Based on the teabagger crowd spitting on black congressmen yesterday and the day before while yelping the N-word.)

But let’s clear the air here and bring some semblance of reason to the issue.

First, in terms of the debt – which the Reeps and their freaks are yapping about most.

Before they excoriate this legislation, they need to look at how THEY single handedly – converted this nation into “Third World” debt status. For the sake of those who want bullet items, I give them below:

- The mammoth Bush tax cuts of 2001, 2002 – to the tune of nearly $2.2 TRILLION – including interest accrued. This singlehandedly took the surplus accumulated during the Clinton years back into deficits. Contrary to Repuke spin meisters, this crap didn't produce any new jobs or enhance the bottom line. In the first year of the cuts alone more than $300billion was lost in revenues. (See 'Neoconomy')

- The deficit effect of the cuts was compounded by Dumbya launching two occupations (Afghanistan, Iraq) he couldn’t pay for – or rather refused to pay for – say by rescinding his tax cuts, or raising taxes (as was done in WWII). No one heard one word of deficits back then. Though some of us saner citizens did worry we were seeing a replay of Big Brother in 1984, with Permanent War

- The total costs of the occupations is now projected to be $3 trillion – when all the medical costs of treating vets is reckoned over the next 30-odd years. Up to the end of 2008, before Obama got in – the costs were $1.1 trillion. Thus, the TOTAL deficit before Obama even took office was: $2.2 trillion (tax cuts) + $1.1 trillion (“wars”) = $3.3 trillion

- But wait – we aren’t done! The GOOPS also passed the Medicare Reform Act of 2003 in Bush’s reign, the biggest corporate welfare giveaway in history. Under the guise of offering a “drug benefit” the actual law awarded drug –insurance companies enormous kickbacks via higher rates which could be jacked up every year. The original cost was falsely touted as ~ $394 billion but when the independent Congressional Budget Office ran the numbers it found an actual cost exceeding $790 billion. (Those courageous people who dared to give the real numbers and debt were fired summarily by the Bush leaguers).
More recent estimates come to over $1 trillion when you add in the “Medicare Advantage” plans (created in the same loathsome act) which actually are pushing standard Medicare toward insolvency since they bleed off on average $12 billion more per year. (Which standard Medicare beneficiaries must pay for via higher premiums). Add in the fact the bogus law disallowed the importation of lower cost Canadian drugs, plus didn’t allow bargaining for lower costs (like the VA) and you can understand how its actual intent was to blow a hole in the deficit.

Now, since I am a cynical person I will offer a cynical view of why the REEPS and Bush did these things. They did them to deliberately bleed away as much as they could from the government kitty in order to make it almost impossible for a Dem president or congress to do anything on behalf of the people (as opposed to launching invasions and rewarding corporations). They cynically wanted to humiliate any future administration and expose them as impotent – from being in a spending straight jacket that THEY created with: their tax cuts, their preemptive invasions & occupations, and their bogus Medicare plan which was really a corporate welfare giveaway.

Thus, the Republicans are the ones who actually sent this nation into monetary perdition, thanks to their reckless deficit spending during the Bush years. It is Obama – meanwhile, who has come up with a health reform plan that LOWERS the deficit by nearly $1.3 TRILLION over 20 years – according to the Congressional Budget Office. But of course, the goopers deny this like they typically deny reality.

As to the Health bill itself – here is what we know will materialize within 3-6 months (excepting #4), minus the propaganda:

1- Children will now be able to be covered under their parents’ health plan to the age of 26. Thus sparing them having to shell out for their own insurance – when they have college loans and can least afford it.

2- No insured persons will be refused care or treatment, especially critical, on the basis of pre-existing conditions. This will save some 40,000 lives per year for people who otherwise might have had to cease chemotherapy for cancer treatment. If the pro-lifers are worth anything other than hot air they ought to applaud this.

3- Insurance companies will no longer be able to “cap” benefits at a certain level, e.g. $1 million. Whereas before, the HMOs could halt all treatment once the total costs hit the limit mark.

4- Medicaid qualification limits, now absurdly low- will be raised to 130% of poverty level (about $29,327 for a family of 4). Even so, this is too low - since the federal povery level is 40 years old and is actually much higher. But, it's a start.

NO abortions using federal, taxpayer money will be allowed, period. This is exactly why the anti-abortion Dems like Bart Stupak signed on. This will be assured by an Executive Order issued by Obama. The pro-lifers ought to be ecstatic- but since they deny reality we see they are back to showing graphic images of destroyed fetal tissue on their blogs.

They still haven’t processed that these nascent human creatures aren't full human persons with rights and individuality. If they do believe so, I dare them to go down to the census and register the fetus as a separate “person” living in the house on the census form.

Yes, there will be the outrage, the predictable freak outs about "Socialism" and "government takeover" – but one hopes eventually the Right wing loons can find their sense and start to act like citizens in common cause once more. As opposed to the would-be secessionists who hearken after (most of them) their Johnny Reb forbears. Or (captured on You tube) the heartless little bastards that tossed dollar bills to a Parkinson's patient confined to a wheelchair - who dared to hold a sign on behalf of health reform. Taunting him by telling him to "work for a living". In a REAL Socialist nation, this human refuse would be collected off the streets, then impressed into extended community service on the spot...and fed on a diet that would be devoid of their usual half-pound burgers.

One last note to would-be commentators: If you assert (idiotically) Obama was "born in Kenya" when we KNOW this is untrue (his Hawaiian birth certificate has been displayed in a number of web venues) you will not be posted here. Forewarned and all that. But with moderation in effect I will not permit total rubbish or politically-crafted idiocy. If you don't like it, move on! Read a blog more to your liking and intellectual capacity!