08/13/2015 archive


Well, since we’re bombing Syria and have allowed Turkey a free Kurd hunting license.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Trevor Timm: Iran deal supporters have more cred. But opponents have the media-savvy

The true nature of the debate over the Iran nuclear deal announced last month is slowly coming into focus. Those who favor it are are backed by dozens of nuclear scientists and arms control experts, while opponents consist almost exclusively of bellwether politicians mugging for the camera and playing into the fears of the constituents they have whipped into a terrified frenzy.

That’s where the ever intensifying debate surrounding the nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran now sits, as a furious lobbying campaign – estimated to cost upwards of $40m – tries to buy enough votes in Congress to override the president and scuttle the historic deal. [..]

It’s entirely predictable, yet demoralizing, that actual experts are being largely ignored in the public debate over the opinions of politicians who are being fed talking points by lobbyists. Even Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused of silencing Iranian experts in his own country’s intelligence agencies who are in favor of the deal.

Jill Richardson: Big Ag Spars with the First Amendment

The First Amendment may be inconvenient to some people at times, but it’s still the law of the land. Case in point: so-called “ag-gag laws.”

These are laws in Idaho, Montana, Utah, North Dakota, Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa that prohibit people from taking photos or videos of farms without permission. They’re designed to prevent the exposure of cruelty to animals on factory farms.

According to the proponents of such regulations, mistreating animals is only a problem when people talk about it. Well, if the freedom of expression that the First Amendment protects is now optional, here’s what I’d like to get rid of: flimsy rhetoric intended to fool the public.

Efforts to hoodwink us all into tolerating animal abuse extends beyond abused livestock.

John Kiriakou: Let’s Talk About Torture

The CIA’s torture-era leadership won’t repent. Even after the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its report saying in no uncertain terms that the CIA had tortured its prisoners, that torture was official U.S. government policy, and that torture never elicited any actionable intelligence that saved American lives, Bush-era CIA Directors George Tenet, Porter Goss, Michael Hayden, and several of their underlings announced plans to release a book justifying torture.

They intend to repeat a lie over and over again in this book: that torture worked. They hope that the American people are either so gullible or so stupid that they’ll believe it. It’s up to the rest of us to ensure that our government swears off committing this crime against humanity.

I know that these former intelligence leaders are lying because I worked with them at the CIA. When I blew the whistle on the CIA’s torture program in 2007, they came down on me like a ton of bricks.

Isaiah J. Poole: Those Republican Spending Caps Are Costing Us Jobs

The case for ending the federal budget spending caps known as the “sequester” has just gotten a whole lot stronger. It’s all about jobs.

At the request of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is currently running as a Democratic presidential candidate, the Congressional Budget Office this week released a letter that said that if these spending caps were eliminated, the economy would be able to add as many as 1.4 million additional jobs in 2016 and 2017. [..]

What would having up to 1.4 million additional jobs mean to the economy? Some insight into the answer came Wednesday from the Labor Department’s latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey – the “JOLTS” report in Washington-speak that many economic experts say Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen considers more valuable than the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report. That report said that in June there were 5.2 million job openings, while June’s unemployment report indicated there were 8.3 million people looking for work. That’s roughly two jobs for every three job seekers.

Robert Greenwald: Is Schumer Setting Us on Another Path to War?

The framework agreement that the U.S. and its international partners reached with Iran that blocks Tehran’s pathways to building a nuclear bomb is barely a week old, yet the usual suspects have already denounced it as a “bad deal.”

To the opposition of the Iran deal, President Obama recently stated, “Let’s not mince words: The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war — maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon.” And now as the President is trying to broker the historic deal, Sen. Charles Schumer – who also voted for the Iraq war – is sabotaging the Iran deal, claiming the United States should call for a “better deal.”

Schumer was wrong about Iraq and is wrong about the Iran deal.

The reality is that those calling for “a better deal” have never offered a viable plan on how to get one. Opposing this deal and offering no alternative is putting us on the path to war, which we all know will come at a tremendous cost.

The Breakfast Club (Anti-Matter)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgOne of the enduring questions of Physics is baryon asymmetry, or more popularly- ‘Where’s the Anti-Matter at?’

Technically a quark’s properties are-

  1. Electric Charge (ElectroMagnetic Force)
  2. Spin (Angular Momentum)
  3. Mass (Gravity)
  4. Position (Weak Force) and
  5. Color (Strong Force)

An anti-Quark has exactly the opposite qualities for anything (except Spin and Mass) and I’m not talking not Green in the sense of Blue or Red, or not Top in the sense of Bottom, I mean the -1 times whatever it is.

Observed in the wild you say?  Oh my yes, constantly.  A Meson is specifically a Quark/anti-Quark package of Space-Time.  They last briefly as the by product of high energy collisions in nature and are regularly observed by particle colliders, sometimes reaching energy levels not seen since the Big Bang.  There is some evidence of Mesons made entirely of Quarks which may relate to the cause or effect of our central question but we’ll ignore it for now because basically it makes my main point which is that nobody has a clue.

It is a fact though that given a neutral environment (one in which no unaccounted for factor contributes to the result) there should be exactly as much anti-Matter as Matter in the Universe, and we’re just not seeing it.

I don’t know exactly how you would detect an anti-Photon and it would be hilarious if the amount of Dark Energy and Matter (essentially missing in that we can detect its gravitational influence on the expansion of Space-Time but not much else) equaled the amount of missing anti-Matter (remember Mass and Spin don’t change).

But that’s pretty tin foily and I don’t propose it except as a nerdy joke.

Mystery Deepens: Matter and Antimatter Are Mirror Images

by Charles Q. Choi, Live Science

Matter and antimatter appear to be perfect mirror images of each other as far as anyone can see, scientists have discovered with unprecedented precision, foiling hope of solving the mystery as to why there is far more matter than antimatter in the universe.

Everyday matter is made up of protons, neutrons or electrons. These particles have counterparts known as antiparticles – antiprotons, antineutrons and positrons, respectively – that have the same mass but the opposite electric charge. (Although neutrons and antineutrons are both neutrally charged, they are each made of particles known as quarks that possess fractional electrical charges, and the charges of these quarks are equal and opposite to one another in neutrons and antineutrons.)

The known universe is composed of everyday matter. The profound mystery is, why the universe is not made up of equal parts antimatter, since the Big Bang that is thought to have created the universe 13.7 billion years ago produced equal amounts of both. And if matter and antimatter appear to be mirror images of each other in every respect save their electrical charge, there might not be much any of either type of matter left.

Theoretical physicists suspect that the extraordinary contrast between the amounts of matter and antimatter in the universe, technically known as baryon asymmetry, may be due to some difference between the properties of matter and antimatter, formally known as a charge-parity, or CP symmetry violation. However, all the known effects that lead to violations of CP symmetry fail to explain the vast preponderance of matter over antimatter.

Potential explanations behind this mystery could lie in differences in the properties of matter and antimatter – for instance, perhaps antiprotons decay faster than protons. If any such difference is found, however slight, “this will of course lead to dramatic consequences for our contemporary understanding of the fundamental laws of physics,” study lead author Stefan Ulmer, a particle physicist at Japan’s Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), told Live Science.

In the most stringent test yet of differences between protons and antiprotons, scientists investigated the ratio of electric charge to mass in about 6,500 pairs of these particles over a 35-day period.

The scientists found the charge-to-mass ratio of protons and antiprotons “is identical to within just 69 parts per trillion,” Ulmer said in a statement. This measurement is four times better than previous measurements of this ratio.

In addition, the researchers also discovered that the charge-to-mass ratios they measured do not vary by more than 720 parts per trillion per day, as Earth rotates on its axis and travels around the sun. This suggests that protons and antiprotons behave the same way over time as they zip through space at the same velocity, meaning they do not violate what is known as charge-parity-time, or CPT symmetry.

CPT symmetry is a key component of the Standard Model of particle physics, the best description to date of how the elementary particles making up the universe behave. No known violations of CPT symmetry exist. “Any detected CPT violation will have huge impact on our understanding of nature,” Ulmer said.

Science Oriented Video

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)

Science News and Blogs

I really encourage you to read the science links today.  There are some mighty fine stories.

C’mon, we’re talking an obtuse polygon with 5 vertices.

Obligatories, News and Blogs below (also pretty good).

On This Day In History August 13

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

August 13 is the 225th day of the year (226th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 140 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1521, the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan falls to Cortes:

After a three-month siege, Spanish forces under Hernan Cortes capture Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire. Cortes’ men leveled the city and captured Cuauhtemoc, the Aztec emperor.

Tenochtitlan was founded in 1325 A.D. by a wandering tribe of hunters and gatherers on islands in Lake Texcoco, near the present site of Mexico City. In only one century, this civilization grew into the Aztec empire, largely because of its advanced system of agriculture. The empire came to dominate central Mexico and by the ascendance of Montezuma II in 1502 had reached its greatest extent, extending as far south as perhaps modern-day Nicaragua. At the time, the empire was held together primarily by Aztec military strength, and Montezuma II set about establishing a bureaucracy, creating provinces that would pay tribute to the imperial capital of Tenochtitlan. The conquered peoples resented the Aztec demands for tribute and victims for the religious sacrifices, but the Aztec military kept rebellion at bay.

After the conquest

Cortes subsequently directed the systematic destruction and leveling of the city and its rebuilding, despite opposition, with a central area designated for Spanish use (the traza). The outer Indian section, now dubbed San Juan Tenochtitlan, continued to be governed by the previous indigenous elite and was divided into the same subdivisions as before.


Some of the remaining ruins of Tenochtitlan’s main temple, the Templo Mayor, were uncovered during the construction of a metro line in the 1970s. A small portion has been excavated and is now open to visitors. Mexico City’s Zócalo, the Plaza de la Constitución, is located at the location of Tenochtitlan’s original central plaza and market, and many of the original calzadas still correspond to modern streets in the city. The Aztec sun stone was located in the ruins. This stone is 4 meters in diameter and weighs over 20 tonnes. It was once located half way up the great pyramid. This sculpture was made around 1470 CE under the rule of King Axayacatl, the predecessor of Tizoc, and is said to tell the Aztec history and prophecy for the future.

Just The Nightly Show (Feel the Berne)

Interesting but maybe not coincidental that this discussion comes on the day Bernie pulls ahead of Hillary in at least one New Hampshire poll (the Franklin Pierce study is a little rare, a little spare, and seems designed to produce a desired Republican result of making Jeb seem stronger than he really is).

But no matter, I think anything that benefits Bernie is probably good news (unless you hold his NRA endorsement against him).

We’ll probably touch on ‘Black Lives Matter’ who’s more gentile and less militant Massachusetts branch just today got booted from a Hillary rally and accepted gratefully in return a “private meeting” where “concerns were heard”.

Bow down Bernie indeed.

Though mostly he has.  He gave them the mike and an audience.  There’s a new communications director, a fully developed policy, and 40 years of history at the forefront of Civil Rights (not for nothing folks).  O’Malley caved after Netroots Nation without the resume and had presided over Baltimore and Freddie Gray.  Now he gets a pass?

There are lots of questions (swiftboat) but I’ll put my tin foil aside.

Populist Propaganda


You stop being racist and I’ll stop talking about it.

Our panel tonight is Andrea Savage, Alonzo Bodden, and Rory Albanese.