June 18, 2015 archive

You can’t handle the truth.

One of the most basic, fundamental, problems of Neo-Liberalism is the secrecy of the elites.

There are two causes, only one of which is generally exposed (and that’s a rather generous characterization because they try to cover it up also) and it is- if we told you unwashed masses what we were actually doing you wouldn’t like it since we are so vastly superior in our intellect to you ignorant peons.

Frankly, that is quite insulting enough but it only masks the deeper reason.

We are incompetent morons who pretty much screw up everything we touch and only hold our priviledged positions because of nepotism and sychophancy.

Try and guess which motivation is in play here-

Eric Garner case’s secret evidence should be made public, attorneys argue

by Lauren Gambino, The Guardian

Tuesday 16 June 2015 15.42 EDT

Disclosure is opposed by the district attorney’s office, which argued that releasing the grand jury record would not lead to new answers, and would have a “chilling effect” on witnesses, who are promised anonymity, and even prosecutors, who might feel pressure from the public to deliver a certain result if secrecy was no longer sacrosanct.

“Perhaps less disclosure on that day would have been better,” said Anne Grady, an assistant district attorney for Richmond County, which encompasses Staten Island, where Garner lived and died.

At one point during the hearing, Justice Leonard Austin asked if the decision to release some information meant the cat was “already out of the bag”.

The assistant DA said she disagreed with that characterization. “Further disclosure will only raise more questions,” she said.

She added: “The intense public scrutiny should not result in disclosure but even more zealous protection.”

The Breakfast Club (Philae Phone Home)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgSo the concept was this, we’d orbit a satellite around a comet (which is kind of a fun feat of astro navigation, like hitting a bullet with a bullet) and in addition to visual observations we’ll send down a lander to take actual surface samples.

And that went horribly, horribly wrong, though in kind of a predictable way.

You see micro-gravity is tricky to work with because thinks have a tendency not to stick where you put them (it being micro and all) and it’s really easy to achieve escape velocity so when you jump up you never come back down.

Anyway the EU fires off Philae which has this kind of harpoon thingee that’s supposed to hold it down but it doesn’t work and we kind of lose track of it.


Now it’s kind of obvious that it didn’t simply bounce off because then we would be able to see it (deduction!) and we do get some signals that it’s running out of power so it’s in a shadow somewhere (space is a very bright place if you have a line of sight to a nearby star like, oh, Sol for instance) but all that kind of peters out and we don’t have any pictures from the orbiter (Rosetta) of it lying around.

Fortunately it’s got this power on reset routine and as it gets closer to the sun it wakes up.


As near as we can tell at the moment after the harpoon failed it bounced around for a while and ended up stuck in a crack where the solar power wouldn’t work.  But micro-gravity and it’s all fine and ready to do some hay making while the sun shines.

Not that Rosetta didn’t answer some big questions already.  The reason we’re interested in these dirty snowballs at all is we imagine them time capsules of some 4.5 billion years ago when the planets were forming.  What we’ve discovered (thanks in part to Philae and Rosetta) is that the solar system was a whole lot more nebulous (as in less dense) than we thought and that planetary orbits not as stable as we were taught.

Does basic research like this have any practical benefit?  Well, if you don’t count the technical skills that went into building the machines it does somewhat justify our “exceptionalism” because we survive in a unique and fragile moment that is destined for doom.  Does it mean we’re unique?  God’s special favored creation?  Space big.  Really, really big.  And time is looong.  Diamonds are considered valuable because of the monopolistic marketing practices of the DeBeers cartel, in fact you can make them out of peanut butter (though there are other forms of carbon that work better).

Rosetta space orbiter to be moved closer to Philae lander comet

by Matthew Weaver, The Guardian

Wednesday 17 June 2015 19.00 EDT

“The key here is to maximise the communication with Philae,” Elsa Montagnon, Rosetta’s deputy flight director told the briefing. She explained that if the orbiter got too close it would shut down because of dust thrown up in the comet’s wake. She likened the mission to driving through a snow storm.

The Philae probe made contact with agency for the first time in seven months on Saturday, and has sent back hundreds of packages of valuable data. It had been silent since a partially botched landing last November.

If more contact can be established the probe will able to send back more data than if it had landed in the spot it was meant to, scientists said.

Montagnon confirmed that there was contact for 85 seconds on Saturday night. The comet then made one revolution in which there was no contact, but then a further three 10-second bursts were received on Sunday evening, she said.

Jean-Pierre Bibring, the lead scientist on the project, told the briefing that the mission had already been a success because it had been so unexpected and challenged existing paradigms. He said the mission could now “go beyond expectations”, if longer periods of contact were made with the probe.

He said the probe’s reawakening showed it survived temperatures of minus 150 degrees. He acknowledged that the probe would probably have overheated if it had not landed under the shadow of an area of the comet identified by the scientists as the “Perihelion cliff”. He said: “Although we are in shadow we survived and that is really amazingly fantastic.”

Bibring said that the material already gathered from the lander is “amazingly exciting” because it gives detail of the material that modelled the solar system.

The comet lander Philae has finally woken up after seven months

By Rachel Feltman, Washington Post

June 14

The fact that Philae set down on a target just 2.5 miles in diameter — let alone that it hit its intended landing site, and worked for days after the fact — is an incredible feat.

But it soon became obvious that the harpoons meant to anchor Philae into the ice hadn’t deployed properly, so that initial touchdown at the intended site had been followed by several bounces and a precarious landing at the edge of a shady crater. It was obvious that Philae wouldn’t get enough sunlight to keep operating, and certainly not enough to power communications with Earth.

Until recently, we weren’t even sure where the lander had landed. Scientists knew it was a shady area, probably the edge of a crater. But without more data from Philae, they were left searching for the lander in photos taken by its orbiter.

Now that we know that Philae survived its hibernation, we can actually consider its bumpy landing a fortunate mistake. Philae’s intended landing site would have given it enough sunlight to power its operations for months, it’s true. But the lander probably would have been dead by now, growing too hot as its host comet approached an August rendezvous with the sun.

Space agencies are interested in comets because of the secrets they might hold about the early days of the universe — and more immediately, the early days of our solar system. We’re fairly certain that comets are remnants of the early solar system and that their frozen cores contain the molecules that were present 4.6 billion years ago. By unlocking those time capsules, scientists could get a better read on what activity led up to the formation of our planet.

“It’s a look at the basic building blocks of our solar system, the ancient materials from which life emerged,” Kathrin Altwegg of the University of Bern in Switzerland, who works on the Rosetta orbiter, told The Post in November. “It’s like doing archaeology, but instead of going back 1,000 years, we can go back 4.6 billion.”

In its accidentally shady spot, Philae will get to make observations on the comet as the sun heats it up, which is the most volatile time in its life cycle. Things are melting, gasses are off-gassing and new clues about the way comets form and evolve are being revealed. With Philae back on the case, there’s no telling what we could learn.

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

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.


On This Day In History June 18

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 images to enlarge.

June 18 is the 169th day of the year (170th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 196 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1812, War of 1812 begins

The day after the Senate followed the House of Representatives in voting to declare war against Great Britain, President James Madison signs the declaration into law–and the War of 1812 begins. The American war declaration, opposed by a sizable minority in Congress, had been called in response to the British economic blockade of France, the induction of American seaman into the British Royal Navy against their will, and the British support of hostile Indian tribes along the Great Lakes frontier. A faction of Congress known as the “War Hawks” had been advocating war with Britain for several years and had not hidden their hopes that a U.S. invasion of Canada might result in significant territorial land gains for the United States.

The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire, including those of present-day Canada. The Americans declared war in 1812 for a number of reasons, including a desire for expansion into the Northwest Territory, trade restrictions because of Britain’s ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy, British support of American Indian tribes against American expansion, and the humiliation of American honour. Until 1814, the British Empire adopted a defensive strategy, repelling multiple American invasions of the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. However, the Americans gained control over Lake Erie in 1813, seized parts of western Ontario, and destroyed Tecumseh’s dream of an Indian confederacy. In the Southwest General Andrew Jackson humbled the Creek nation at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend but with the defeat of Napoleon in 1814, the British adopted a more aggressive strategy, sending in three large armies along with more patrols. British victory at the Battle of Bladensburg in August 1814 allowed the British to capture and burn Washington, D.C. American victories in September 1814 and January 1815 repulsed British invasions of New York, Baltimore and New Orleans.

The war was fought in three theaters: At sea, warships and privateers of both sides attacked each other’s merchant ships. The British blockaded the Atlantic coast of the U.S. and mounted large-scale raids in the later stages of the war. Both land and naval battles were fought on the frontier, which ran along the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River. The South and the Gulf coast saw major land battles in which the American forces destroyed Britain’s Indian allies and defeated the main British invasion force at New Orleans. Both sides invaded each other’s territory, but these invasions were unsuccessful or temporary. At the end of the war, both sides occupied parts of the other’s territory, but these areas were restored by the Treaty of Ghent.

In the U.S., battles such as the Battle of New Orleans and the earlier successful defense of Baltimore (which inspired the lyrics of the U.S. national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”) produced a sense of euphoria over a “second war of independence” against Britain. It ushered in an “Era of Good Feelings” in which the partisan animosity that had once verged on treason practically vanished. Canada also emerged from the war with a heightened sense of national feeling and solidarity. Britain regarded the war as a sideshow to the Napoleonic Wars raging in Europe; it welcomed an era of peaceful relations and trade with the United States.

The Daily/Nightly Show (The Big Dog)

You know, in Euchre you declare trump with the first card you play.  If you’re interested I’ll teach you how to keep score with just a deuce and a trey.

Tonightly Alexandra Wentworth, Jamil Smith and Holly Walker plus a Surprise.



Oh baby.  I was just flirting.  You know there’s nothing that can approach your stringy, fatty beef sliced so thin you can read through it, your soft mushy bun to suck up the horrible barbecue sauce at your sticky condiment bar or that orange cheese food product you sell for a buck a slice.  I pray every day you will invade more highway rest stops with your third rate fries and drive the evil (and he is evil, did you ever take a look at him?) flame broiled King from the land along with his maniacal clown side-kick.  Not even fatty little sausages fondling around a pool of greasy ketchup can compare.  Unlike Jon I appreciate your laxitive qualities on long trips where I’ll admit, I have a tendency to get a little bound up by strange food and water and hours and hours and hours of sitting.  A sleepless night on a neat and sanitized (that’s what the paper strip says and who am I to judge?) throne is a small price to pay for your purgative charms.

I love you babe.

This week’s guests-

Woof, woof.  There are a lot of things to hate Bill Clinton for, but a blue dress ain’t one of them.  I’m loathe to think this may be the last “get” interview Jon books, but it’s not a bad one.  There will be web exclusive extended (probably 2 parts) for sure.

But you know Jon, if you can’t have Hil maybe you can give Bernie a spin.  Only 10 points behind in the first real primary (New Hampshire, I’m thinking of doing a special remote) and moving up in South Carolina (I’m sorry, nothing can persuade me to spend a minute more in South Carolina than I need to visit Pedro).

Aziz Ansari’s web exclusive extended interview and the real news below.

GOP Push To Pass “Clean” Fast Track

Up Date: 6/18/2015 This morning the House passed Fast Track by 218-208, with 28 Democrats voting for it. It now must return to the Senate because it didn’t include Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) which failed to pass the House as a separate bill last week. The president has said that the would veto it if it did not include the TAA.

The bill was attached to HR 2146 Defending Public Safety Employees’ Retirement Act.

The push is on to get Fast Track passed. After the Democrats, led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, killed the Trade Promotion Authority by voting against Trade Adjustment Assistance, the Republicans are bringing a “clean” bill to the floor. Well not quite “clean.” This is the latest from Huffington Post

To move a clean fast-track bill, the House Rules Committee attached the legislation Wednesday evening to a firefighter and police retirement bill sent over by the Senate.

Once the clean TPA bill is sent back to the Senate, it will be up to the upper chamber to handle TAA independently. [..]

The plan, according to Democratic and Republican sources, is that after the clean TPA bill is passed and sent to the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will then attach TAA to the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a separate trade bill involving African countries.

As Republicans revealed their strategy, House and Senate Democrats who had previously voted in favor of fast-track headed to the White House to meet with Obama about the path forward. The question will be whether Republican leaders and Obama can convince Senate Democrats to vote for fast-track on the promise that TAA will reach the president’s desk later. [..]

A Senate Democratic aide confirmed that there is no agreement among Republicans and pro-trade Democrats in the upper chamber about how to move forward once fast-track is sent their way. Talks are expected to continue tomorrow.

Stand by.