January 5, 2012 archive

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Large Greenwald Collider validates particles

Scientists at the Large Greenwald Collider (LGC) in Brazil say they have discovered new sub-atomic particles heretofore only theoretically postulated.  The traditional method of colliding elephon and donkon particles using high-energy, extremely magnetized word-tunnels has so seldomly yielded results, that taxpayers wonder whether trivially inexpensive projects like the LGC are worth it.

Scientists have long postulated that a particle known as the waron was composed of constituent hardons, paultons, and pwogdorks, each thought to have extremely different properties, but they did not understand how they worked together to always produce the same result, what scientists jokingly refer to as “atomic war.”

The current experiments showed that by smashing paultons and pwogdorks together, the once only-imagined particles, the reezon and the partizan, can and do exist separately for nanoseconds in their respective matter/anti-matter states before annihilating one another.  Thus only the hardon particle survives, and a perpetual state of “atomic war” ensues.  

Canadian philosopher of science Ian Welsh agreed with the basic results, but added that it doesn’t really matter whether the paulton and pwogdork collide, because it’s all going into the black hole, anyway, only the rate of travel differs, concluding, “I see no scenario in which things don’t crack up, completely.”

Critics dismissed the evidence and said that the people working at the LGC are simply “assholes,” and refused further comment.

Scientists assured the public that this finding has no significance outside the laboratory, and that the experiment’s danger to the general public was so far beyond their imagination that they need not worry.


Wild and Woolly Hare

On this Day In History January 5

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

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.

January 5 is the fifth day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 360 days remaining until the end of the year (361 in leap years).

On this day in 1933, construction starts on what will become one of America’s most famous landmarks: the Golden Gate Bridge. When completed in 1937, the Golden Gate has a 4,200-foot-long suspension span, making it the world’s longest suspension bridge. Since opening to the public in May 1937, almost 2 billion vehicles have crossed the bridge, in both the north- and southbound directions.

The bridge was named not for its distinctive orange color (which provides extra visibility to passing ships in San Francisco’s famous fog), but for the Golden Gate Strait, where the San Francisco Bay opens into the Pacific Ocean. The bridge spans the strait and connects the northern part of the city of San Francisco to Marin County, California.

Before the bridge was built, the only practical short route between San Francisco and what is now Marin County was by boat across a section of San Francisco Bay. Ferry service began as early as 1820, with regularly scheduled service beginning in the 1840s for purposes of transporting water to San Francisco. The Sausalito Land and Ferry Company service, launched in 1867, eventually became the Golden Gate Ferry Company, a Southern Pacific Railroad subsidiary, the largest ferry operation in the world by the late 1920s. Once for railroad passengers and customers only, Southern Pacific’s automobile ferries became very profitable and important to the regional economy. The ferry crossing between the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco and Sausalito in Marin County took approximately 20 minutes and cost US$1.00 per vehicle, a price later reduced to compete with the new bridge. The trip from the San Francisco Ferry Building took 27 minutes.

Many wanted to build a bridge to connect San Francisco to Marin County. San Francisco was the largest American city still served primarily by ferry boats. Because it did not have a permanent link with communities around the bay, the city’s growth rate was below the national average. Many experts said that a bridge couldn’t be built across the 6,700 ft (2,042 m) strait. It had strong, swirling tides and currents, with water 500 ft (150 m) in depth at the center of the channel, and frequent strong winds. Experts said that ferocious winds and blinding fogs would prevent construction and operation.

70% of the Economy

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Green Shoots.

And read the URL, not the Headline.

For 2012, Signs Point to Tepid Consumer Spending


Published: January 2, 2012

Even the seemingly robust holiday shopping season is raising concern. After a strong start on Thanksgiving weekend, a pronounced lull followed, causing retailers to mark down products heavily in the week before Christmas. While final numbers for the season are not in, analysts say they are worried that retailers had to eat into profits to generate high revenues.

Even some growth areas in the economy can be explained by tapped-out consumers. Take auto sales, which rose about 10 percent nationwide in 2011 from a year earlier.

“People can only hold onto their cars for so long,” said Romolo Debottis, new-car sales manager at Mike Bass Ford in Sheffield Village, a suburb of Cleveland. He said sales at the dealership should increase this year to 2007 levels, the prerecession peak. “A lot of them have done that above and beyond what they normally would, and they’re just ready to spend money and buy a new vehicle.”

Chrysler, Ford and General Motors report December vehicle sales

by CalculatedRisk

1/04/2012 10:25:00 AM

The key number for the economy is the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR) compared to the last few months, not the year-over-year comparison provided by the automakers. Once all the reports are released, I’ll post a graph of the estimated total December light vehicle sales (SAAR) – usually around 4 PM ET.

The consensus is for sales to be unchanged from November at around 13.6 million SAAR.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning
When you’ve seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there.

–George Harrison


Canine butt-wrestling

This morning, I saw two of the neighbor’s dogs standing on the lawn, uh, abutted, ass-to-ass, each in a “four-point stance,” pushing against one another like two football linemen trying to dominate some invisible line of scrimmage on the ground beneath their hind legs, except they’re both facing the wrong way. When one dog began to “win,” the other’s haunches and hind paws would lift off the ground.  Normally forepaw lift-off is voluntary, and it’s called “rearing,” as dogs can be trained to do to push shopping carts for “entertainment” purposes, and sometimes just do reflexively when excitedly greeting their masters, or when wanting to exit a walled-in arena.  I dunno what you’d call the involuntary reverse lift-off engineered by another dog’s will-power, but when it happens, the liftee’s forepaws angle-in sharper against the heightening scrum and the four-point stalemate once again ensues.  They were still holding their original lines, albeit considerably rotated, by the time I finished my cigarette.  Maybe it’s more like dog judo. I’d never seen it before in dogs, and could at best hazard a guess as to the ethological significance of this kind of K9 ass-backwards shoving match, so it was infinitely more interesting than the Iowa caucuses, I’m sure.

My Little Town 20120104: Cold Weather Activities

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

Since we have had a really cold snap here in the Bluegrass, I began reflecting on what it like in the winter when I was growing up in Hackett.  When I was a kid it was colder in the winter in Arkansas for the most part than it was when I was older.  A least, that is how I remember it being.  Kids tend, or at least tended at the time before video games and computers, to get outside even during cold weather, but I think that it was colder back then, and I have some memories of why I think that.

For one thing, it snowed and sleeted more then than it did later.  Now where I grew up one or two snows deep enough to build snow men is about typical, but as I recall there would be three or four snows when I was little.  They seemed to last longer, but days seem longer to a child than to and adult.

The 1%ers and the future

(crossposted at DailyKos.com)

Yeah, I know, it’s 2012, and we are about to be deluged with a hailstorm of appeals to the Elmer Fudd Theory of Electoral Victory in the run-up to November’s elections.  Happy new year, everyone; I intend in this diary to summarize the likely events that can be seen as “coming down the pipeline” this year and in the years to come.

In the end, though, I would like to promote a vision of a different sort of society, a society which would start on its new path by recognizing that the future envisioned here is a product of the society as it currently is organized.  A society organized along different lines, then, would approach its future in a more conscious way.

The likely upshot of Election 2012 will be that the Great Progressive Mirage will once again disappear, to be replaced by “election run-up,” and that we will once again be stuck, post-election, with a world of 10% unemployment, 20% underemployment, and a Congress that is half filled by the 1%.

Meanwhile, we can expect more of what we received earlier as we head into 2012. Global warming, for instance, should at some point in the medium-term future cause crop failures and resultant famines.  The atmospheric accumulation of CO2 will also make the oceans too acidic for the formation of coral reefs (among the world’s most genetically diverse ecosystems) and will take a millennium or so to cycle naturally out of the atmosphere.  Peak oil will create an increasing drag on the world’s economy as fuel prices become more expensive and as the environmental costs of mining it increase.  The subsidy provisions of the PPACA will kick in, mandating that everyone buy a “Bronze Plan” or levying financial penalties upon us.  At some point a Republican President (or maybe even a Democratic one) will use the provision in the NDAA which allows Presidents powers of arbitrary and indefinite detention without trial.  The military industrial complex will continue to grow, as the US government continues to “prosecute” wars in a dozen countries with a secret empire of drone bases since the definition of the term “terrorist” is infinitely malleable and since, as Nick Turse points out, “The drone increasingly looks less like a winning weapon than a machine for generating opposition and enemies.”

College will continue to be a financial gamble, as students undergo increasing levels of student loan debt to pay for increasingly expensive college educations with increasingly limited job prospects for graduates.  The global economic growth rate will continue to decline, moreover, as the economy continues to be “financialized” further.

The poverty currently experienced by countries such as Greece will spread to other places in Europe as the Powers That Be in Europe continue to demand austerity planning to reduce government deficits.  At some point this may lead to the collapse of the Eurozone.

We can expect these things because our government and economy, as well as our collective vision of the future, are pretty much the domain of the 1%ers, whose main concern is in maintaining a system based on capital accumulation.  This is how they work: the 1%ers are the (cultural, bureaucratic, and economic) managers of a society in which the accumulation of exchange values drives the society as a whole.  

What matters to the 1%ers is that we continue to have a society in which “the economy,” as well as “the government,” continue to be the province of a relatively small group of people within the overall society.  And it works.  From William Domhoff:

Here are some dramatic facts that sum up how the wealth distribution became even more concentrated between 1983 and 2004, in good part due to the tax cuts for the wealthy and the defeat of labor unions: Of all the new financial wealth created by the American economy in that 21-year-period, fully 42% of it went to the top 1%. A whopping 94% went to the top 20%, which of course means that the bottom 80% received only 6% of all the new financial wealth generated in the United States during the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s (Wolff, 2007).

The 1% are the primary beneficiaries of economic expansion, then.  The 1%ers are the managerial elites, the group that provides the expertise and the cultural “glue” to keep the system together as an accessory for its service to the 1%.  The 1%ers are the cultural vanguard of the 1%.  

There’s no conspiracy to be found here, however.  We swim in 1%er cultural norms as if we were fish in water.  Political action has to go through candidates, publicity through the mass media, mass action through money (everyone has to be paid, and even grassroots political movements have to be financed).  Business, through property law and monetary creation and government regulation and the tax code, is organized so that its main beneficiaries are for-profit corporations.  Our lives as participants of the system are encapsulated in the concept of the curriculum vitae (the “course of one’s life” in Latin), in which we list an accumulation of “things we did” and “experiences we had” to increase our exchange-value as workers.  All the 1%ers have to do, then, is to insure that a system rigged in favor of the 1% actually works for the 1%.   So where do we go from all this?  Look below the fold.