Saturday, May 29, 2021

Repukes Block 1/6 Commission With 35 Votes (Vs. 54)? Now Is The Time To Go With Select Committee


     Insurrection bedlam: Repukes don't want a bipartisan commission because they know they will be toast in next year's mid -terms if they allow it.   Well, here's a newsflash: They will anyway!

"Most of us know what to do, we have to end the filibuster!  Nothing can go forward until that happens, and there are two Democrats who won't let us do that. "  -  Elie Mystal,  last night on All  In.   

"If the Democrats cannot now come together and get rid of this ridiculous, absurd,  archaic, anti-democratic filibuster,  they might as well give up on politics.  Go be accountants, or realtors, or Uber drivers....but don't do politics   This is a historic momentSomeone told me you can't say 'fascism' in the U.S. because that implies people have armed militias and don't believe in elections. Guess what we discovered in the last six months?  The Republicans don't believe in elections and they do have armed militias. So the Democrats really need to match actions with rhetoric. "-  Mehti Hassan, last night on All In

In their latest scurrilous display, putting party over country, Senate Republicans-   using just 35 votes-   blocked the creation of a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.  This was  after GOP Minority leader Mitch McConnell urged colleagues to reject it.

The bill needed 60 votes to advance in the evenly divided Senate, thanks to the chamber’s longstanding filibuster rule. That meant 10 Republicans would have had to vote with all 50 members of the Democratic caucus to allow the bill to proceed. Only six did, and the legislation fell short, with 54 votes in favor, 35 against and 11 senators not voting.  Among the eleven were 5 potential Republicans and one Dem  (Kyrsten Sinema).

The Senate had originally been scheduled to vote on the commission Thursday but procedural delays on separate legislation forced it into Friday. Sens. Murray and Toomey said Friday that they had missed the vote because of family obligations, but they would have voted yes.

Recall, the House authorized the creation of the commission last week, 252 to 175, with 35 Republicans voting with Democrats in defiance of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) and Mr. Trump. But without Senate passage, the commission can’t be established.  However,  a select committee can - and must -  given this is worst violence since the Civil War.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) had declared his opposition to the commission before the vote, calling it a political exercise. He suggested that Democrats would weaponize the commission against Republican candidates to keep the controversy over former President Donald Trump’s actions before and during the riot at the forefront of next year’s midterm-election campaigns.  Mitch somehow missed the memo that the GOP's own actions in helping to foment the insurrection brought shame on themselves, including trying to abort the peaceful transfer of power via electoral college votes certification - which continued even after the insurrection.

McConnell, aptly referred to as "diabolical" by Nicole Wallace on her MSNBC 'Deadline White House', proved again why he's a consummate coward and two-faced hypocrite. The same imp  who declared days after the insurrection how Trump was responsible now turned tail and ran from a full accounting. (Which Yale professor Timothy Snyder said on the same All In is absolutely essential).  But McConnell insisted there was no need for a commission because Jan. 6 already was being investigated by congressional committees and by law enforcement. Never mentioning that those domains will not cover one tenth the aspects a full blown commission would (analogous to the 9/11 commission)  Instead the guppy -faced loser and Trump appeaser had the nerve to spout:

There is no new fact about that day that we need the Democrats’ extraneous commission to uncover,”   

Actually, there are a number of questions, including:

1)  Why did Pentagon chief Chris Miller sit on his hands for hours while the violence raged instead of ordering in the National Guard?

2) What were the specific communications between Trump - sitting in the Oval office watching the violence on FOX -  and Kevin McCarthy and others?

3)What messages did Trump send (e.g. to Chris Miller)  to prevent the expeditious deployment of troops to stop the insurrection?

4)What messages did Trump send that directly threatened Mike Pence, prompting Dotard's MAGA supporters to bring a functional gallows to the Capitol to hang Pence?

These and many more questions need to be answered, not swept into a memory hole like Mitch wants. As Timothy Snyder said last night:  "We can be maximalist about the truth, about finding out what the truth is.   That's not a polarizing thing necessarily.  Other people who may be wrong about things, say they believe in the truth.  The difficult thing in a democracy is you have to simultaneously stand for the good things and you have to fight the good fight. You have to do both at the same time. "

But the Republicans in their quest for power have shown themselves incapable of either with their filibuster of a bipartisan commission. They do this in order to appease and mollify a mentally unhinged base, who -  as media specialist Robert Jones pointed out on All In last night-  embrace: the Satan-worshipping pedophile conspiracy (23%), the "Storm" conspiracy (28%) and believe violence may be needed to "save the country" (28%).   So the Reep filibuster to kill the commission was really an homage to these degenerate, white evangelical nationalist driven memes.

Democrats could impanel their own special congressional committee to investigate the events surrounding Jan. 6, but party leaders, including President Biden, have said they prefer an independent, bipartisan probe, modeled on the investigation carried out by the 9/11 Commission following the 2001 terrorist strikes.  Trouble is, it isn't going to happen. Not now, not ever.  As the WSJ's Dan Henninger put it (WSJ, May 27, p. A19):  "It takes a lot of cheek to expect that Republicans would now erect a scaffold for their own hanging by a January 6th Commission."

He was basically correct.  The televised scenes from the Commission -  with repeated references to the horrific violence of the Trump mob -  would remind millions of voters why Trump is bad news, and  a bad actor with the potential to irreparably damage that, cult. As even Henninger had to admit (ibid.):

"Many Republicans and conservatives know that their Trump problem is that if he runs again in 2024 they will lose again.  They know that Mr. Trump sat on his hands for hours in the White House while the violence raged in the Capitol and he remained largely mute on that repellent event."

Senate leader Chuck Schumer,  after the Repuke filibuster,  said : This vote has made it official: Donald Trump’s Big Lie has now fully enveloped the Republican Party. Donald Trump’s Big Lie is now the defining principle of what was once the party of Lincoln.”  

 He was absolutely spot-on correct. As was Elie Mystal,  last night on ALL In.  That was when he declared: "The attack we saw on the Capitol was a white, domestic terrorism attack. And the white people who are our leaders were not as afraid of that as they were about Muslims after 9/11."

 Sadly, the political cult which has organized itself to block a 1/6 Commission to investigate that event is comprised of such white domestic terrorists.  Terrorists who would trample on the Constitution and our democracy for the sheer sake of grabbing unearned power.  If the Dems are serious about politics - as Mehti Hassan pointed out (see his quote at top), they will now set up a Select Committee to pursue the 1/6 investigation.  Let the Reeptards squawk all they want about "partisan witch hunt", they brought this on themselves by trying to avoid mid-term damage.  The irony is that their brand of cult will be permanently damaged anyway, as it should be.  This will be after all the dirty linen is hung out,  compliments of the likes of Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and their insurrectionist traitor comrades  all nicely captured on videos. 

See Also:

by Joan McCarter | May 29, 2021 - 7:23am | permalink

— from Daily Kos


by Meaghan Ellis | May 30, 2021 - 6:41am | permalink


by Lindsay Beyerstein | May 28, 2021 - 7:50am | permalink

— from Alternet


by Miles Mogulescu | May 29, 2021 - 6:25am | permalink


Code Red! Unless the filibuster is eliminated—at the very least as it pertains to Voting Rights and Civil Rights laws—what’s left of American democracy is dead. The Republicans will suppress the vote and gerrymander elections to guarantee a Republican Congress, President and Supreme Court of, by, and for the minority.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Yet More Reasons To Get Rid Of Bitcoin - And Other Cryptocurrencies


"You aren't the same when you lose money as when you make money. Just ask those who took a beating on bitcoin this past week." - Jason Zweig,  WSJ, Weekend Investor column, May 22-23, p. B5

In his column remark on bitcoin, Jason Zweig was referring to the massive selloff of the cryptocurrency ending Friday, seeing it dive 12 percent to $35, 253.  But investor losses in this gimmick virtual money - also used in a lot of ransomware attacks - is only one aspect of why it's time at the pinnacle of the money food chain may soon be up.   

In the same WSJ Investment- Business Exchange section we also learn, for example, of a possible "regulatory clampdown" on this pseudo currency.  This followed a meeting led by Vice Premier Liu He, who "pledges to crack down on bitcoin mining and trading behavior."

For the uninitiated in the esoteric realm of cryptocurrency,  "mining" is a loose metaphor for what is going on. Indeed, there is no actual mining as in extraction of precious ores  - like gold - to make bitcoin.  It is rather the continuous use of powerful computers to keep solving numerical - math problems and conundrums, in 10 minute stretches, to create the basis for generating bitcoin.  According to the website "Investopedia":

Bitcoin mining is the process by which new bitcoins are entered into circulation, but it is also a critical component of the maintenance and development of the blockchain ledger. It is performed using very sophisticated computers that solve extremely complex computational math problems. Cryptocurrency mining is painstaking, costly, and only sporadically rewarding. Nonetheless, mining has a magnetic appeal for many investors interested in cryptocurrency because of the fact that miners are rewarded for their work with crypto tokens.

In other words these investors, like the millions mesmerized by the DOW, are drawn by the baubles to get neck deep in the whole bitcoin game. Wherein we learn of the following takeaways:

  • By mining, you can earn cryptocurrency without having to put down money for it.
  • Bitcoin miners receive Bitcoin as a reward for completing "blocks" of verified transactions which are added to the blockchain.
  • Mining rewards are paid to the miner who discovers a solution to a complex hashing puzzle first, and the probability that a participant will be the one to discover the solution is related to the portion of the total mining power on the network.
  • You need either a GPU (graphics processing unit) or an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) in order to set up a mining rig.

What's not to love? Hell, it's almost as entertaining as 3D computer chess, except this fanciful B.S. is consuming billions of gigawatts each year in its endless number crunching - so its mesmerized minions can grab more bitcoin.  Specifically, the amount of power consumed  by this number crunching is equivalent to all of that consumed by Finland in one year, or 5.1 gigawatts.  Obviously, this stupid exercise is also consuming tons of computer microchips in the process- partly accounting for the existing global scarcity.   In the same WSJ piece we also learn (ibid.):

"Much of the global supply of bitcoin is created in  China.  This industry causes Beijing headaches because of the electricity - intensive process to create it."

Well, yeah, because these "miners" (sic) receive bitcoin as "rewards" for solving the gnarly mathematical puzzles - which are burning up the power equal to all of that consumed each year by Finland (or Ohio).  For those who can't be bothered with solving puzzles to get bitcoin they have another option: "just buy it using fiat currency".   In other words, real money, like dollars in the form of "Benjamins" or whatever.

Let's be frank here that bitcoin's power as any kind of currency for exchange only exists on account of accepting its adoption as a store of value, and of course as a payment system. (Some bitcoin buffs will also refer to its finite supply and role in decreasing inflation.)  But alas, not all finance experts are biting.  The Chinese Vice Premier Liu, for example, has also expressed concerns (WSJ, ibid.)  over "the risks posed by a volatile investment product authorities can't control".  (For reference, bitcoin dropped 25 percent for the week "with the worth of all bitcoin valued at $650 billion")  

So of course the Chinese would be worried, but others are as well.  To the point that bitcoin can even be regarded as real money like those $100 Benjamins.  Enter now Financial Times columnist Brendan Greeley ('Bitcoin’s design tarnishes its value as money',  Weekend  FT).  He writes:

"It is certainly true that even with this week’s drop, over the long run the value of a bitcoin has appreciated. In 2008, it was nothing more than a PDF that contained an idea. The PDF traded at a spot price of zero, considerably lower than current levels. That’s an impressive 13-year performance for any asset. It is an Amazon or Apple level shoulda-got-inon-the-ground-floor performance. I first had bitcoin explained to me by a group of Swedish hackers in Malmö in 2011 and let me tell you: I have regrets.

"Bitcoin isn’t supposed to be just some asset. It’s supposed to be a global money. Depending on whom you ask, it will either become the standard medium of exchange for all transactions, or a final medium of settlement for other kinds of money, a bit like the dollars that banks can hold in reserve accounts at the Fed. Which means that it can’t just gain in value. It also has to become more useful, as money, to more people. That’s not a quality you have to ask of your Apple shares."   

Ouch!! Anyone paying attention?  He goes on:

"Whether bitcoin is a money is an exercise in scholasticism. It is money now, for some people. There are transactions for which it’s appropriate and already being used. ...The value of a bitcoin, however, has continued to rise from just under $2,000 in 2017— volatile but, you know, up. As a money, bitcoin is becoming more valuable, but not more useful.

It’s possible that its usefulness is limited by design. People who argue for bit-coin as the future of money like to say that, unlike the dollar, there is no central bank that can answer for bitcoin or screw it up. But there is a governance structure behind bitcoin, as real and as clear as the one at the Federal Reserve.


The code that generates bitcoins has capped their total number at 21m. That means they are supposed to become more valuable, forever, by design. You can change the code, but just like at the Fed, to change it you have to change the culture — you have to convince a lot of people to use the new code. Here, too, the culture of bitcoin is fixated on the soundness of money, convinced that the best money only becomes more valuable over time. People encourage each other to “hodl” — to hang on to their bit-coins. If you hodl, you have diamond hands. If you sell, you have paper hands. If you hodl nothing, you are encouraged to have fun staying poor. "

  Then there is the kicker:

"Both the code and the culture of bit-coin are designed, over the long term, to drive it out of circulation. This leaves hodlers stuck with a collective action problem. Sell, or change the code, and your asset drops in value, becoming more useful as money. Hodl, and keep the code, and your asset appreciates. Monetary culture is monetary policy. Diamond hands are Gresham hands."

The last sentence refers to "Gresham's law", i.e. that "bad money drives out good."

While many of the complaints about Bitcoin over the years have been overhyped (to a degree)  one fact remains: The cryptocurrency’s increasing use of real physical resources— energy and computer chips — can no longer be ignored. If Bitcoin wants to avoid government crackdowns, it needs to shift to technologies that don’t require constant massive resource consumption just to maintain the currency’s price.

This spiraling resource consumption indicates a basic weakness in the technology that supports Bitcoin. For most financial assets, like gold, the cost of storage doesn’t go up much as the price goes up; it’s just about as easy to guard the world’s gold at $2,000 an ounce as at $200 an ounce. And for most currencies, transactions are super cheap. Because people already trust banks and the government, these centralized institutions can handle massive amounts of transactions with near-costless efficiency. Bitcoin’s decentralized trust, in contrast, keeps getting more expensive as Bitcoin gets more valuable.

That process can’t go on forever. And as the economist Herbert Stein once astutely observed: “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” Eventually, lots of places will follow Inner Mongolia’s lead and ban Bitcoin mining, and the governments of South Korea and Taiwan will intervene to stop computer chips from being sold to miners. This will negatively impact Bitcoin miners, as well as crypto investors and software developers.  

 Finally, Katie Martin - another Financial Times columnist - offers perhaps the most  perspicacious takes on the bitcoin phenomenon and what's driving its enthusiasts:

"Some people have jumped into this asset class, or currency, or whatever you want to call it, just for fun. For others, it is a moonshot to make some money, often successfully. It is a hobby, a side-hustle. But for the true believers, crypto is a way of life.

They deeply love these digital tokens, bitcoin chief among them, in part because of their anarchic nature — their isolation from big government, big banking and big monetary policy. In real life, these people walk among us. Online you can spot them with laser eyes in their Twitter bios."

In other words, bitcoins' miners and investors relish being latter day "anarchists' and rebels and maybe sticking it to the conventional banking-monetary system - like the Game Stop day traders believed they were sticking it to the Street.  But in the end it is their very isolation from big government and the banking system that may be their undoing - along with their own brand of chutzpah.  Martin again:

"Central banks, the believers say, cannot be trusted. They are debasing fiat currencies like the dollar with their money printing. Regulators want to trap ordinary people inside the existing financial hierarchy. Both they and governments are watching closely, poised to destroy an alternative financial system they cannot control."

But why would any sane person believe bitcoin's anarchic, isolated system can be trusted?  I don't.  Also, what's to prevent bitcoin miners from ultimately debasing their own "fiat" currency - say in a desperate effort to render bitcoin mining less climate -impacting and energy intensive. (Bitcoin’s demand for computer chips alone has hogged the production lines at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co., contributing to a global chip shortage that is costing automakers tens of billions of dollars and threatening the phone industry as well.)   

The other aspect comes down to a basic familiarity with the existing financial system which imbues it with more trust.  The cold, hard fact is that currently not 1 in 10,000 average blokes has clue one how the bitcoin "alternative' currency system works. Mention "blockchain" and most eyes glaze over. The arcane nature of the whole enterprise, especially mining, is not a recipe for trust equal to what the existing banking system allows (not to say the latter is perfect by any means).  But I ain't buying that cryptocurrencies are the answer. What we need for both is more rigorous regulation.  

Ms. Martin's final remark ought to be the one most taken to heart by the bitcoin buffs, miners et al:  

" Wednesday, while the price of bitcoin was in freefall, The European Central Bank lobbed a grenade at the crypto crowd. In its Financial Stability Review, it compared the massive rally in crypto prices in recent months to “tulip mania” and the South Sea Bubble in the 1600s and 1700s. Bitcoin is “risky and speculative”, it said. It has an “exorbitant carbon footprint” and a possible connection to “illicit” activity."

Is she out to lunch? No.  Research has shown that an international currency must meet at least four basic conditions: it must have a longterm stable value; there must be sufficient volume to meet the needs of international trade in goods, services and financial assets; transaction costs must be low, with small differences between bid and ask prices, and high liquidity; and there must be a stable issuer who guarantees the currency.

Bitcoin meets none of these.  Zero. Nada.  Make of that what you will.

See Also:


White House reviews ‘gaps’ in cryptocurrency rules as bitcoin swings wildly

Marjorie Taylor Greene Wouldn't Last 15 Minutes In A Real Holocaust

        The screwball bimbo - at it again with more outrageous bilge.

The loudmouthed, nutso Reep imp Marjorie Taylor Greene has again come to the fore with outrageous rhetoric analogizing mask wearing with the holocaust and gas chambers.   In her latest outburst she blabbered:  "We can look back at a time in history when people were told to wear a gold star and they were definitely treated like second class citizens so much so they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany."

 In truth, this deplorable crazed bimbo wouldn't last fifteen minutes in a real gas chamber scenario - once the Zyklon B began entering the vents. Perhaps the best descriptions of the plight and agony of Jewish victims appears in the book 'Auschwitz- A Doctor's Eyewitness Account, by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli. For the sake of argument, suppose this ditzy dingbat Greene was suddenly catapulted 80 years into the past - wearing a gold star - to the Auschwitz intake room. (Similar to an 'Outer Limits' episode  in which a Nazi is slapped with a gold star in 1996 and sent back to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943 -  where he's terminated).

 For historical purposes, let's go through the gassing process as described by Dr. Nyiszli - to fully disabuse any who might be tempted to bite into Greene's BS that it compares to mask wearing. We begin on page 47:

 "The S.S. enters the room filled with 3,000 people and announces that everyone must be completely undressed within ten minutes. The aged, grandfathers and grandmothers, husbands and wives, the children- all were struck dumb with surprise. Modest women and girls looked at each other questioningly. Perhaps they had not exactly understood the German words. They did not have long to think about it as the order was sounded again, in a louder, more menacing tone. They were uneasy, their dignity rebelled, but with the resignation peculiar to their race, having learned that anything went as far as they were concerned, they slowly began to undress. 

The aged, the paralyzed, the mad, were helped by a Sondercommando squad sent for the purpose. In ten minutes all were completely naked their clothes hung on the pegs, their shoes attached together by the laces. An S.S. then opened the swinging doors of the large, oaken gate at the end of the room. The crowd flowed through it into another, equally well-lighted room. This second room was the same size as the first, but neither benches nor pegs could be seen. In the center of the room, at thirty yard intervals, columns rose from the concrete floor to the ceiling.  They were not supporting columns, but square, sheet -iron pipes, the sides of which contained numerous perforations like a wire lattice.

Once everyone was inside, a hoarse voice rang out for S.S. and Sonderkommando to leave the room.  The oaken doors then swung shut from without and the lights were switched off.  At that very instant the sound of a car was heard, furnished by the International Red Cross. An S.S. officer and a deputy health officer stepped out of the car - and he held four green, sheet iron canisters. After donning his gas mask he lifted the lid of the pipe also made of concrete.  He opens one of the cans and pours the contents - a mauve, granulated material - into the opening. The granulated substance falls in a heap to the bottom and the gas it produces escapes through the perforations."

Here it is important to include some details Nyiszli omits.  One is that every effort was made not to spook the soon- to- be -gassed victims.  Thus the whole routine of telling them they are about to have showers. Indeed, the gas chamber was camouflaged with fake showerheads. When  the  Zyklon B pellets were poured  down the shaft the vents were shut to seal the gas chamber. The Zyklon B pellets turned immediately into a deadly gas at room temperature. The Zyklon B is in fact, hydrogen cyanide (HCN), also known as prussic acid.  It is a chemical compound  with the odor of bitter almonds.   The odor is actually added chemically so those using it are alerted to its presence and take precautions. 

As for the soon -to- be- gassed Jews, the Nazis hoped they would not be alerted too soon to what was unleashed- but they were not dumb, or insensate.  They knew something was badly amiss as soon as their skin and mucous membranes encountered the gas -  which is a terrible irritant  - as all cyanides are.  Especially to the lungs, respiratory system.   As one website put it:  "Even after deceiving their victims into entering the “shower,” the SS preferred they remain incapable of identifying the mysterious “delousing” gas. This deception, however, fooled nobody—the victims could immediately feel that the gas was nocuous.

Here we pick up with Dr. Nyiszli's account on page 48:  "Within five minutes everybody is dead.   Twenty minutes later the electric ventilators are set going to evacuate the gas.  The ventilators, patented 'Exhator' system, quickly evacuate the gas from the room, but in crannies between the dead small pockets of it remain.  Even two hours later it causes a suffocating cough.  For that reason, the Sondercommando group that first enters must wear gas masks.   Once the room is lit, a horrible spectacle is visible. 

The bodies are not lying here and there throughout the room but piled in a mass to the ceiling. The reason for this is that the gas first inundates the lower layers of air and rises slowly toward the ceiling. This forces the victims to trample one another in a frantic effort to escape the gas. Yet a few feet higher up the gas reaches them.  It was merely a matter of two or three minutes respite.   If they had been able to think about what they were doing they would have realized they were trampling their own children, their wives, their relatives.  But they couldn't think."

This explanation of the scene accounts for why the strongest males were always the ones at the top of the pile - who survived the gas the longest. If also explains why Marjorie Taylor Greene would have been among those trampled early if in the same predicament - which she has compared to having to wear a mask. As Dr.  Nyiszli notes (p. 49.): 

 "I noticed that the bodies of the women and children were always at the bottom of the pile, at the top, the strongest. Their bodies were covered in scratches and bruises from the struggle which had set them against each other. blood oozed from their noses and mouths, their faces so deformed as to be almost unrecognizable.

The Sonderkommmando squad then lined up around the hill of bodies and flooded it with powerful jets of water. This was necessary because the final act of those who die by gas is an involuntary defecation.  Each body was befouled and had to be washed.  Once the bathing of the dead was finished, the separation of the bodies could begin.'"

The account by Miklos Nyiszli's is one of the most important documents because it is based on his first hand account at Auschwitz.   Such an account ought to make the baboons who wore "Camp Auschwitz" T -shirts during the insurrection get on their hands and knees and beg for forgiveness - to all those Jews slaughtered in the way described by Miklos Nyiszli.  But that is unlikely given one can't expect empathy or even shame from white nationalist human cockroaches.

As for Marjorie Taylor Greene, I want her to read and re-read the account of the experience of millions in a real holocaust, before she next opens her piehole to make any comparisons with masks.  In the meantime Nancy Pelosi needs to kick her sorry ass out of congress if wimpy Kevin McCarthy is too terrified to act.

See Also:

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

"Most Exciting Astronomical Event Of Year" Set For Colorado Tomorrow


Sequence for a "Supermoon lunar eclipse" as seen from LA in 2019

The most exciting astro event of 2021 is set for early tomorrow morning here in Colorado.  As projected by the Fiske Planetarium,  the Moon will be low in the western sky when the eclipse begins at 5:11 a.m. MDT, while the sky is turning twilight blue with the approach of sunrise. The eclipse will reach its maximum at 5:18. The Sun will then rise at 5:36 and the moon will set at 5:43.   

Early-rising observers can see the partial eclipse begin at 3:44 a.m. MDT, progressing into full eclipse from 5:11 a.m. until 5:25 a.m. Sunrise will come and the Moon will be full, and also  a “super moon.” That means the Moon will be closer to the Earth than for any other full Moon this year.     

"Supermoon” is not a scientific term but a popular name referring to full moons occurring when the Moon is relatively close to the Earth, thus visibly larger than normal. Some observers report there are two a year, following in successive months, while others claim three. But there’s no dispute that this one  will be the closest full Moon of the year at 222,048 miles from Earth (16,800 miles closer than the moon’s average distance).

Add to that an optical effect that will make the Moon appear even larger when near the horizon.    Then there is the bending of the red light (through Earth’s atmosphere) to produce the reddening of the Moon in eclipse.

According to John Keller, director of the Fiske Planetarium at the University of Colorado:  

"It’s going to be really pretty.  Having the horizon will accentuate the supermoon and the eclipse.  It’s a combination of an optical illusion and the actual size of the moon,” 

Keller went on:

 “The supermoon can be up to 10% bigger than a non-supermoon. That is a real effect, the Moon is ever so slightly larger. But when the Moon is directly overhead, there is nothing else around it except for stars. It’s having that perspective of the Moon on the horizon, with stuff in the foreground that we know is big, making the Moon look bigger.”

He  added that he illusion isn’t happening in your eye. It’s happening in your brain:  

It’s cognitive. It’s not happening at your retina. If you took the size of the moon on your retina at moonset and the size of the moon on your retina when it is at zenith, it would hit the same number of rods and cones on your retina. But your brain takes that signal and changes that into an understanding of what it is seeing.”

Whatever the optical or cognitive basis, Janice and I look forward to observing this event tomorrow a.m.  Weather permitting!

Why Does Provincialism and The "Middle Mind" Dominate Media's Treatment of UFOs?


       View of UFO targeted by military pilots as shown on CBS '60 Minutes' Sunday

"If they were a threat they would have done something threatening by now. And more. This isn't War of the Worlds. We don't know who the beings are who operate these vehicles, or even if there is anyone in them. One clear indication that they are superior beings, though, is that, unlike us, they don't seem to think of anyone other than themselves as "enemies" to "defend" against. Which, need I mention, is to attack.

They are likely more than casual observers. The only purpose I can see them having is to keep us humans from destroying ourselves, and the planet in the process - the track we are now on at breakneck speed."-  John Hamilton, 'Come On Down!',

The Sunday 60 Minutes segment on UFOs being spotted by military pilots was interesting from the point of view of correspondent Bill Whitaker's downplaying, dodging,  disbelieving reactions.  It was as if someone had told him fairies had suddenly appeared in the skies and alighted on the White House lawn. This was even after investigator Luis Elizondo's no nonsense descriptions. Elizondo,  a former director of the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program(AATIP), resigned in October, 2017.  This was after ten years with the program. He also "confirmed the new task force evolved from the advanced aerospace program."    According to Elizondo in one NY Times interview:

"It no longer has to hide in the shadows. It will have a new transparency."

But transparency is one thing, provincialism and an unimaginative approach to a cosmic reality is another.   In this case, Whitaker's responses to what he was being told seemed to ooze a contentment to remain parochial and retain a cosseted mentality.  ("You know how that sounds?  Nutty, crazy!") What Curtis White once called "the Middle Mind" in his eponymous book.  In White's view the 'Middle Mind' is a safe mental space where all the old verities are true and right -thinking citizens don't question them too closely or trespass intellectually into areas that mark "forbidden zones" - such as LBJ having helped plan the JFK assassination (to avoid prosecution in the Bobby Baker scandal) or that UFOs are actually alien craft.

By contrast the middle mind tropes,  i.e. "there's equal opportunity for all", "Oswald did it",  "UFOs are illusions" etc. are  trotted out endlessly by our shameful news media  and taken to be engraved in stone. Yet they are used to manipulate our consciousness, i.e.. that we inhabit  the "land of the free" - despite having more people incarcerated than all the other nations together. And UFOs are batso, nutso nonsense that no self -respecting 'Murican would accept as real - i.e. as space craft from other worlds.  (Unless interpreting them as secret Russian or Chinese craft.  Terrific, as that would necessitate higher military spending)

Compare this timid approach to that of Aussie physicist John Webb, who - after a number of experiments - challenged the belief that the fine structure constant (a) was really a constant. At the time his "heresy" came out it was not too different from a religionist asserting the Pope is not really infallible. (Or, that aliens are real and already whipping through terrestrial skies.)

In the case of Webb, his attention was turned to the spectrum of a quasar 12 billion light years distant.  In this case the object's light had traveled 12 billion light years to the Keck telescope in Hawaii - on the summit of Mauna Kea.  Except in this case not all the light arrived, contrary to the predictions of the fine structure constant.  When Webb did finally identify the missing absorption lines, there was one problem: they were all slightly out of place as if someone had 'nudged' the spectrum.  Nor was this just a case of a Doppler shift, given some lines were shifted a bit to the left, others to the right. 

Once Webb sat down to do the calculations the only way the shifted lines made sense was if he made one little adjustment: allow that when the light transited the interstellar dust clouds en route to Earth the fine structure constant a was slightly different from what it is today - billions of years later.  In other words, was not really a constant. At the time Webb made the revelation he was attacked mercilessly by fellow scientists. In his own words, "people had questioned his sanity that a constant of nature could change over time".

Much like those who report UFOs today - though the release of the military sightings is kind of unimpeachable statement these objects are as real as the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia 8 years ago.  Still, the hesitancy to accept a craft from outside Earth remains strong.  Hence, the fallback provincialism that they might actually be "secret craft" of foreign origin, like from Russia or China,  which of course is idiotic.  The reason is that no known foreign craft can travel at 13,000 mph and do rotations in the process.  Hence, ipso facto the objects must be from an extra-terrestrial source - like it or not. (Also as one expert implied in the latter part of the segment, if the U.S. can't make these craft, no one else on Earth can!)

By comparison, the middle mind act of invoking "foreign craft" to explain these UFOs would be analogous to John Webb simply conceding he had to have made a "mistake" in his computations, rather than that the value of  changes with time.  But he had the balls, the intestinal fortitude, not to cop out and do that.   Even if it meant taking the opprobrium, ridicule and wariness of colleagues.    

Compare that to the Nimitz aviators (interviewed on 60 Minutes) who experienced the UFO interactions with their ship's radar and visual systems in 2004.  One of them, Lt. Alex Dietrich, obviously self-conscious about being interviewed by Whitaker, agreeing that: "Your mind tries  to make sense of it.  So I'll categorize it as a helicopter or a drone."  But that's not making sense, it's opting for the most pedestrian hypotheses, e.g. "helicopters or drones"  which makes zero sense, given the dynamics.  Not when one's instruments disclose craft undergoing 600-700 g forces, no obvious means of propulsion, no control surfaces, and oh yeah - able to travel underwater and shoot into the sky and then go at 13,000 mph.  But she was too marooned in the middle mind and the UFO taboo to call a spade, a spade.  That she and her fellow navigators were observing an otherworldy craft doing literal aerodynamic backflips around their own F -18s.

In the case of the reluctance to call the UFOs spotted crossing into restricted U.S. air space what they are - extraterrestrial craft- we are also up against the "UFO taboo".    This was first articulated in a paper in the journal Politics Today appearing some years ago, e.g.   

Sovereignty and the UFO - Alexander Wendt, Raymond Duvall, 2008

This   "UFO taboo" has come to mean the aversion to scientifically studying this phenomenon because it risks larger societal derision and even ostracism.   But it can also refer to the reluctance of military pilots - like Lt. Alex Dietrich (in her 60 Minutes interview) to call a spade and spade in acknowledging an extraterrestrial craft - as opposed to "drones or foreign craft."  

This also explains Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb's dismissal of UFOs as extraterrestrial craft - asserting that "there is no scientific credibility" to the claim. But these military pilot- procured videos using infrared, advanced radar and other instruments show that there is.  Loeb's refusal to admit it discloses he is not as much an objective scientist as he believes.   

At least Carl Sagan ultimately recognized the folly and provincialism of his own skepticism. This was revealed by the late Northwestern University astronomer J. Allen Hynek who disclosed Sagan had admitted he "did accept the validity of UFOs" (e.g. as alien craft) but "couldn't do so in front of his colleagues."  See e.g.

One further point:  If we can only admit that what is being seen in our skies (e.g. by the military pilots 
is real and alien, then the so-called Fermi paradox is solved. Recall according to that paradox: Given the number of stars in the universe, it is highly probable that alien life exists. So why haven't we seen it yet?  Where is everybody?'

Well,  their craft are flying circles around our own, and transiting our skies with impunity - even into restricted air space. But too many of us are still trapped inside the plodding, pedestrian  "middle mind" to think and see outside the box to admit it.