Sunday, October 13, 2019

With or Without Compact Fusion - Mankind IS ALREADY WILL GET Permanently Off-World | NNSA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) joined forces to address a unique challenge: developing a power source able to support deep space travel and outlast existing fuel sources. NNSA came through with the technical expertise required to achieve this goal.

“The relationship between NNSA and NASA is a ‘win-win’ partnership,” said Patrick Cahalane, NNSA’s Principal Deputy Associate Administrator for Safety, Infrastructure and Operations. “NASA gets a prototype demonstration for a kilowatt-range fission power source, and NNSA gets a benchmark-quality experiment that provides new nuclear data in support of our Nuclear Criticality Safety Program.”

The experiment, nicknamed KRUSTY (Kilowatt Reactor Using Stirling TechnologY), was part of NASA’s larger Kilopower project. KRUSTY was designed to test a prototype fission reactor coupled to a Stirling engine. Stirling technology is efficient, doesn’t require significant maintenance, and does not degrade in performance over time.

Scientists from NNSA’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Nevada National Security Site partnered with NASA to develop and test the KRUSTY design at the National Criticality Experiments Research Center (NCERC).

Researchers designed and performed initial testing of the KRUSTY reactor design using a surrogate, or non-fissile, reactor core and resistive heating elements. Experts from NNSA’s Y-12 National Security Complex manufactured the uranium reactor core, which was delivered to the NCERC in the fall of 2017. 

Let's Act Brand New and Pretend We Don't Already Know....,

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Soft Disclosure? Limited Hangout? Age of Star Trek Discovery?

thedrive |  The War Zone has been reporting on a set of bizarre patents assigned to the U.S. Navy that describe radical new technologies that could absolutely revolutionize the aerospace field, and frankly, the very way we live our lives. These include high-energy electromagnetic fields used to create force fields and outlandish new methods of aerospace propulsion and vehicle design that basically read as UFO-like technology. You can learn all about these patents, their viability, and the issues surrounding them in these exclusive features of ours. Now, the same mysterious Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division engineer behind those patents has produced another patent—one for a compact fusion reactor that could pump out absolutely incredible amounts of power in a small space—maybe even in a craft. 

Energy dominance has become a cornerstone of American military policy as laboratories seek to develop the ‘Holy Grail’ of power generation: nuclear fusion. These attempts at developing stable fusion reactors utilize incredibly powerful magnetic fields in order to contain the nuclear reactions occurring inside. Creating a stable fusion reaction is difficult enough, but some laboratories are going even further by attempting to create compact reactors small enough to fit inside shipping containers or even possibly vehicles.

While Lockheed Martin’s CFR designs have garnered quite a bit of media attention and internet buzz in recent years, it appears one of the Skunk Works' major clients is also hard at work in this field. The U.S. Navy has filed a potentially revolutionary patent application for a radical new compact fusion reactor that claims to improve upon the shortcomings of the Skunk Works CFR, and judging from the identity of the reactor’s inventor, it's sure to raise eyebrows in the scientific community.

This latest design is the brainchild of the elusive Salvatore Cezar Pais, the inventor of the Navy’s bizarre and controversial room temperature superconductors, high energy electromagnetic field generators, and sci-fi-sounding propulsion technologies that The War Zone has previously reported on. The patent for Pais’ “Plasma Compression Fusion Device” was applied for on March 22, 2018, and was just published on September 26, 2019. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

We Won't Pretend Biden is Turd Solo if You'll Admit He's a Big Stinky Floater

"The fact that my predecessor had a son who was paid $50,000 a month to be on a Ukrainian board, at the time that vice president Biden was leading the Obama Administration’s efforts in Ukraine, I think is worth looking into." - VP

theintercept |   The problem for Democrats is that a review of Hunter Biden’s career shows clearly that he, along with Joe Biden’s brother James, has been trading on their family name for decades, cashing in on the implication — and sometimes the explicit argument — that giving money to a member of Joe Biden’s family wins the favor of Joe Biden. Democrats have been loath to give any credibility to the wild rantings of Trump or his bagman Rudy Giuliani, leaving them to sidestep the question of Hunter Biden’s ethics or decision-making, and how much responsibility Joe Biden deserves. Republicans, though, have no such qualms, and have made clear that smearing the Bidens as corrupt will be central to Trump’s reelection campaign. The Trump approach is utterly without shame or irony, with attacks even coming from failson Eric Trump.

Biden has been taking political hits over of the intersection of his family’s financial dealings and his own political career for some four decades. Yet he has done nothing publicly to inoculate himself from the charge that his career is corruptly enriching his family, and now that is a serious liability. By contrast, one of his opponents in the presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., went so far as to refuse to endorse his son Levi Sanders when he ran for Congress, saying that he does not believe in political dynasties. In defending the Biden’s nepotistic relationship, Democrats would be forced to argue that, to be fair, such soft corruption is common among the families of senior-level politicians. But that’s a risky general-election argument in a political moment when voters are no longer willing to accept business-as-usual. For now, Biden’s opponents in the presidential campaign appear to all hope that somebody else will make the argument, while congressional Democrats don’t want to do anything to undermine their impeachment probe. And so Biden skates.

Heed the Words of the Weinstein!

apple |  In this episode of the Portal, Eric checks in with his friend Andrew Yang to discuss the meteoric rise of his candidacy; one that represents an insurgency against a complacent political process that the media establishment doggedly tries to maintain. Andrew updates Eric on the state of his campaign and the status of the ideas the two had discussed as its foundation when it began. Eric presents Andrew with his new economic paradigm; moving from an 'is a [worker]' economy to a 'has a [worker]' economy. The two also discuss neurodiverse families as a neglected voting block, the still-strong but squelched-by-the-scientific-establishment STEM community in the US, and the need to talk fearlessly - and as a xenophile - about immigration as a wealth transfer gimmick. 

Did China Just Niggerize Do to the NBA What America Did to Johnson Publishing?

foxnews |  In recent years, the NBA has become famously political. During the heyday of the Black Lives Matter movement, the NBA permitted players to wear slogan-printed T-shirts in support, and stars like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul spoke out loudly on the issue.

The Sacramento Kings actually announced a partnership with the local branch of the movement. And NBA players have had little problem denouncing President Trump, whom James called a "bum."
In 2017, Commissioner Adam Silver actually tried to blackmail the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, by pulling the All-Star Game, all in an attempt to restore the so-called "bathroom bill" for transgender people.

The NBA has reaped the benefit from its benevolent attitude toward left-leaning social activism, too. Silver, like former Commissioner David Stern before him, has been praised ad infinitum by the press, compared favorably to that alleged corporate hobgoblin Roger Goodell of the NFL.

Silver told CNN just last year that "part of being an NBA player" is social activism and a "sense of an obligation, social responsibility, a desire to speak up directly about issues that are important." Silver stated the league wants players to "be multi-dimensional people and fully participate as citizens." He specifically explained that the league had a role in ensuring that the situation remains "safe" for players afraid of suffering career blowback.

Then the NBA came up against its own corporate interests.

And the NBA caved.

Late last week, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted an eminently uncontroversial statement: "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong." That's about as milquetoast a statement about Hong Kong as it's possible to make. But that didn't matter to the Chinese government, which immediately stated that it would cut relations with the NBA and the Rockets in particular.

Speculation quickly ran rampant that Morey might lose his job. Morey was forced to delete his tweet and walk it back: "I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives." James Harden, star of the team, tweeted, "We apologize. We love China. We love playing there." Silver's NBA put out an apology in Chinese saying (as translated), "We are extremely disappointed in the inappropriate comment by the general manager of the Houston Rockets."

Thursday, October 10, 2019

We'll Be Right Back After A Brief Message About What Really Matters

theconversation |  Research we have just had published sheds new light on this Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. We focus on what platinum can tell us about it.

Platinum is known to be concentrated in meteorites, so when a lot of it is found in one place at one time, it could be a sign of a cosmic impact. Platinum spikes have been discovered in an ice core in Greenland as well as in areas as far apart as Europe, Western Asia, North America and even Patagonia in South America. These spikes all date to the same period of time.  

Until now, there has been no such evidence from Africa. But working with two colleagues, Professor Louis Scott (University of the Free State) and Philip Pieterse (University of Johannesburg), I believe there is evidence from South Africa’s Limpopo province that partly supports the controversial Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis.

The new information has been obtained from Wonderkrater, an archaeological site with peat deposits at a spring situated outside a small town to the north of Pretoria. In a sample of peat we have identified a platinum spike that could at least potentially be related to dust associated with a meteorite impact somewhere on earth 12,800 years ago. 

The platinum spike at Wonderkrater is in marked contrast to almost constantly low (near-zero) concentrations of this element in adjacent levels. Subsequent to that platinum spike, pollen grains indicate a drop in temperature. These discoveries are entirely consistent with the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. 

Wonderkrater is the first site in Africa where a Younger Dryas platinum spike has been detected, supplementing evidence from southern Chile, in addition to platinum spikes at 28 sites in the northern hemisphere. 

We are now asking a question which needs to be taken seriously: surely platinum-rich dust associated with the impact of a very large meteorite may have contributed to some extent to major climatic change and extinctions?

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Joe’s Ambition Trumped Joe’s Desire to Protect Hunter

neweconomicperspectives |  Goldberg’s column is unusually honest for a Democrat like Goldberg.  It includes two important admissions about Joe and Hunter Biden’s poor judgment in dealing with Ukrainian matters.
As all this was happening, Biden’s son, Hunter, sat on the board of Burisma Holdings, a natural gas company that Zlochevsky co-founded, at some points earning $50,000 a month. Zlochevsky might have thought he could ingratiate himself with the Obama administration by buying an association with the vice president. All available evidence suggests he was wrong.
We need to put Hunter Biden’s $50,000 per meeting in perspective, he began receiving it in 2014, when the purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita GDP figure for Ukraine was slightly over $8,500.  In a single month, Hunter Biden received fees over six times what a typical Ukrainian received in a year.  Hunter Biden had no relevant expertise to be on the Ukrainian firm’s board of directors.  The only disagreement I have with Goldberg’s description is her use of the word “earning” instead of “received.”  Hunter Biden does not “earn” his money.  He makes money off those who seek to get in good with his dad.  The Trump children, of course, have super-charged this sleaze.

Hunter’s one real job miraculously led to his ludicrously rapid promotion to EVP of a major bank.  The bank, of course, was a major contributor to his dad.  Hunter’s miraculous advancement to EVP is a typical sleazy payoff to elite politicians’ kids.  Both parties do it.  The sole reason Zlochevsky hired Hunter was to try to influence favorably his dad and the Obama administration.  This too is typical elite sleaze.  Yes, we should remember that Trump’s spouse, children, and their spouses, make Hunter look like a highly competent saint when it comes to cashing in on their tawdry Trump ties.

Goldberg correctly notes the modest nature of the sleaze in the Bidens’ case.  There is no evidence that hiring Hunter Biden ingratiated the Ukrainian firm with the Obama administration.  There is no evidence that hiring Hunter Biden ingratiated the Ukrainian firm with Joe Biden.  Joe Biden’s successful effort to fire the corrupt non-prosecutor increased the chances that the Ukrainian government would sanction the firm.  Trump’s claim that the fired prosecutor was an anti-corruption hero investigating Hunter’s purported corruption is a double lie.  Trump’s attacks on Joe and Hunter Biden are lies.  This should not surprise us.  First, Trump always lies.  Second, Joe and Hunter Biden’s sketchy actions are not crimes or ethical violations.  They may be ‘corrupt’ in the broad sense of that word in everyday usage, but not in the legal sense of statutes against corruption.  Trump, therefore, has substituted lies for the nuanced reality.

Too Complicated - I Think The Classholes Did It

quillette |  Understanding American politics has become increasingly confusing as the old party labels have lost much of their meaning. A simplistic Left vs. Right worldview no longer captures the complexity of what’s going on. As the authors of the October 2017 “Pew Survey of American Political Typologies” write, “[I]n a political landscape increasingly fractured by partisanship, the divisions within the Republican and Democratic coalitions may be as important a factor in American politics as the divisions between them.”

To understand our politics, we need to understand the cultural values that drive it. The integral cultural map developed by philosopher Ken Wilber identifies nine global cultural value systems including the archaic (survival), tribal (shaman), warrior (warlords and gangs), traditional (fundamentalist faith in God), modern (democracy and capitalism), and postmodern (world-centric pluralism). When combined with Pew’s voter typologies, Wilber’s cultural levels offer a new map of America’s political landscape.

Of Wilber’s nine global value systems, the Traditional, Modern, and Postmodern categories are most useful to understanding our moment. Traditional culture values disciplined adherence to assigned gender and social roles: men are providers and heads of households, marriage is between one man and one woman, and the institutions of the military, law enforcement, and the clergy are all highly respected. Historically, traditional cultures were monarchies or states ruled by “strongmen.” Modern culture superseded traditional systems in the West during the Enlightenment, and values rationality, democracy, meritocracy, capitalism, and science. Individual rights, free speech, and free markets harness an entrepreneurial spirit to solve problems.

Postmodern culture offers a borderless, geocentric political view that values pluralism. It challenges a pro-American narrative by focusing on the horrors of American history, including the exploitation of Native Americans, slavery, and persistent inequality disproportionately affecting historically disadvantaged groups. Those left behind by modernity and progress now seek recognition, restoration, and retribution via a politics of protest, and show little interest in building political organizations or institutions. We are currently living in a postmodern political moment of disruption, best described by author Helen Pluckrose in her Areo essay How French Intellectuals Ruined the West: Postmodernism and its Impact, Explained”:
If we see modernity as the tearing down of structures of power including feudalism, the Church, patriarchy, and Empire, postmodernists are attempting to continue it, but their targets are now science, reason, humanism and liberalism. Consequently, the roots of postmodernism are inherently political and revolutionary, albeit in a destructive or, as they would term it, deconstructive way.
When we overlay Pew’s data with Wilber’s Value levels, six cultural political categories emerge: Traditional Left and Right, Modern Left and Right, and Postmodern Left and Right.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Yo Quiero Chalupas |  Two Senate chairmen want to know whether the Justice Department has acquired information from Ukrainian prosecutors that may contradict the stated reasoning behind former Vice President Joe Biden’s threat to withhold U.S. assistance from Ukraine. They are also renewing an inquiry into the department’s response to reported efforts by Ukrainians, in coordination with Democratic Party associates, to acquire damaging information on Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) are seeking additional information about the department’s review of the Russia investigation’s origins, including the DNC’s reported work with Ukraine to undermine candidate Trump.   
“Ukrainian efforts, abetted by a U.S. political party, to interfere in the 2016 election should not be ignored. Such allegations of corruption deserve due scrutiny, and the American people have a right to know when foreign forces attempt to undermine our democratic processes,” the Senators wrote in the letter. 
The letter follows a July, 2017, inquiry from Grassley to the department referencing reports that a DNC consultant coordinated with the Ukrainian government to acquire opposition research on Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. According to a Politico investigation, “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump” and “helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers…” Though media reports indicate that U.S. Attorney John Durham is investigating whether Ukraine played a role in the counterintelligence probe during the 2016 election, the Justice Department has yet to confirm whether it has begun an investigation into coordination between the Ukrainian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Hillary Clinton or the Democratic National Committee.
Separately, a report yesterday revealed new documents that call into question the stated reasons behind a 2016 ultimatum by then Vice-President Biden to fire a Ukrainian prosecutor who had investigated a company for which Biden’s son was a board member. According to the report, Ukrainian officials have tried to forward documents related to the matter to the department, to no avail. Grassley and Johnson are requesting details on any actions the department is taking to review the material referenced in the report.
Full text of the Grassley-Johnson letter to Barr follows:

Monday, October 07, 2019

Talm'bout a Joker...,

tomluongo |  Trump’s strengths and weaknesses as a political player have been on full display from the beginning. And he’s made a number of errors which have cost him dearly to this point.

Most of these have to do with foreign policy, which I have outlined in gory detail nearly every day for three years. And it was these deals he’s made on foreign policy, outsourcing it to advisers like H.R. McMaster, John Bolton and James Mattis, to gain time to deal with his domestic enemies that have done the most damage.

I think Trump now sees the traps set for him and how badly they will boomerang on him this election season. He’s begun changing course on issues like Iran, Syria and, yes, Ukraine.

And for this he is now being targeted, quite amateurishly, for removal from office. Of this I’m convinced at this point.

Since Ukraine cuts across so many different narratives of the past few years, going all the way back to 2013 EU accession talks, it is no wonder that President Trump calls to the new Ukrainian President, who isn’t one of ‘our guys’ like Poroshenko was, would be heavily scrutinized.

Anything that sniffed even vaguely like Presidential overreach would be used against Trump to remove him from office. This is the standard Alinsky tactic of accusing your opponent of what you are guilty of to de-legitimize any information that comes out of the investigation.

This tactic is nothing new. It’s all they ever do folks, because Trump has already proven he’s immune to Nuts and Sluts.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Directed Evolution Via Phage Display

thescientist |  Caltech’s Frances Arnold, who advanced a technique called directed evolution to shape the function of enzymes, has received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry today (October 3). She shares the honor with George Smith, now emeritus professor of the University of Missouri, and Gregory Winter, emeritus group leader at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge, UK. Smith and Winter are both recognized for their work on a lab technique known as phage display in the directed evolution of new proteins—in particular, for the production of antibody therapeutics.

“I’d like to congratulate this year’s laureates for their tremendous breakthrough work in using chemistry to speed nature's own processes,” Peter Dourhout, president of the American Chemical Society, says in a statement. “The breakthroughs from these researchers enable that to occur thousands of times faster than nature to improve medicines, fuels and other products. This is truly directed evolution using chemistry.”

First reported by Smith in 1985, phage display involves the introduction of foreign DNA coding for a protein, such as an antibody, into a bacteriophage—a virus that infects bacteria. That protein is then displayed on the surface of the phage. Researchers can use these protein-displaying phages to screen for interactions with other proteins, DNA sequences, and small molecules. 

Speaking to the Associated Press this morning, Smith emphasized the role of others’ work in his achievement. “Very few research breakthroughs are novel,” he says. “Virtually all of them build on what went before. . . . That was certainly the case with my work.”

Winter, who cofounded the biotech company Cambridge Antibody Technology in 1989, developed the technique for the purpose of finding novel therapeutics. In 1993, his research group used phage display to successfully isolate fragments of human antibodies that could bind specific antigens. The genes for these fragments could be expressed in bacteria, the team reported, and could offer a “promising alternative” to mouse-based methods for the “production of antibodies against cell surface molecules.”

In 2002, adalimumab (Humira), a therapeutic produced by this approach, was approved by European and US regulators for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Speaking in 2006, Winter called the approval “the sort of thing I’m most proud of.” The technique has since been used to isolate molecules against autoimmune diseases, multiple cancers, and bacteria such as Bacillus anthracis—the cause of anthrax.

Monday, October 01, 2018

RIP: The Late Great Otis Rush

Counterpunch |  Otis Rush was born in 1934 in Philadelphia, Mississippi, one of the most racially mixed towns in the Delta. In Rush’s youth the population of Philadelphia was almost equally divided between whites, blacks and Choctaw Indians. As a consequence, Philadelphia was also one of the most racist towns in Mississippi, a hotbed of Klan activity and, of course, site of the 1964 murders of civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner. In 1980, Reagan picked the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia as the locale  to give his first post-convention speech, an attack on the federal government that launched his own race-baiting “Southern Strategy.” J.L. Chestnut, one of two black people in the huge audience, recalled Ronald Reagan shouting  that “‘the South will rise again and this time remain master of everybody and everything within its dominion.’ The square came to life, the Klu (sic) Kluxers were shouting, jeering and in obvious ecstasy. God bless America.”

Like many black youths in the Delta, Otis sat near the radio every day at 12:15, tuning in to KFFA, broadcast out of Helena, Arkansas, for the King Biscuit Time show, hosted by Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Lockwood, Jr. For half an hour Williamson and Lockwood played live in the studio, often featuring other rising stars of the blues, such as B.B. King, James Cotton and Pinetop Perkins (who was an original member of the studio band, called the King Biscuit Entertainers.) Otis decided he wanted to be a blues player. He began playing the blues harp at the age of six and later his father rigged him a makeshift one-string guitar out of a broom handle and baling wire.

Rush’s father was a sharecropper, toiling in the parched red clay soils of eastern Mississippi. But mechanization was slowly drawing this brutal way of life to a close. In 1948, Rush’s father moved the family (there were 8 Rush children) to Chicago. At the age of 14, Otis began working 12-hour days in the stockyards. At night he played the blues with two other young stockyard workers, Mike Netton, a drummer, and “Poor Bob” Woodfork, a guitar player recently migrated up from Arkansas. The band began to get some paying gigs in some of the new clubs springing up on Roosevelt Avenue.  One night when Rush was 18, Willie Dixon walked into the Alibi club on the West Side of town. Dixon, one of the true geniuses of American music, had just left Chess Records in a bitter dispute over royalties. The great bassist and arranger had taken a job with the new Cobra Records, a small Chicago label run by a TV repairman. Dixon was enthralled by Rush’s uniquely expressive, almost tortured guitar-style and signed him on the spot.

In the studio, Dixon, the real architect of the Chicago Blues sound, assembled a small talented R&B combo to back Rush, featuring Shakey Horton on harmonica, Harold Ashby on tenor, veteran drummer Odie Payne,  Little Brother Montgomery hammering the piano and Dixon himself on stand-up bass. The first song Rush recorded was Dixon’s “I Can’t Quit You, Baby.” Dixon said he wrote the song about an obsessive relationship Rush was having with a woman at the time. Dixon wanted to provoke an emotional response from the singer and he got one. “I Can’t Quit You, Baby” opens with a chilling falsetto scream, then Rush launches into a staccato guitar attack unlike anything heard before it. Led Zeppelin (and dozens of other bands) would cover Rush’s version of the song but never capture the excrutiating fervency of the original. The recording was released in the summer of 1956 as Cobra’s first single. The song hit number 6 on the Billboard R&B charts.

Over the next two years Rush and Dixon would release eight more records, each of them dazzlingly original. The sound was aggressive and confident, like the hard-charging jump blues “Violent Love,” where Rush’s slashing guitar chords seem to be engaged in a romantic combat with the horns. Rush’s own composition, “Checking on My Baby,” is an eerie, minor key blues that sweats sexual paranoia. This is not the blues of despondency and despair, but of defiance and, at times, rage. It’s music with an edge, sharpened by the metallic sounds of urban streets, of steel mills, jail cells and rail yards.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Politics of a $3,000 Suit

NYTimes |  Recently, Interview magazine published a conversation between the actress Kerry Washington and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accompanied by photographs of the young politician wearing a fitted blazer with wide lapels and green piping; a slim, matching set of trousers; and an elegant pair of black stilettos from Manolo Blahnik, the total cost for which was somewhere around $3,500.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez needs the center-left — surely emboldened by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s primary victory last week — to warm to her, to imagine that she isn’t going to tear down the castles. How terrifying can someone dressed as though she had just left a meeting with six venture capitalists with a rare bottle of scotch really be to the occupants of the higher tax brackets?

When the castigating got traction, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez shot back at her critics, pointing out the obvious — that she did not buy the clothes she wore for the shoot. They were lent to the magazine for the purpose of taking pictures.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Speaking of Termites and Tennis Umpires...,

Tennis umpires are reportedly considering a boycott of Serena Williams matches. The public statement of boycotting Serena’s games underscores beyond any shadow of a doubt the specific nature of this particular tempest on a tennis court. Even in the twilight of her career, the disparate economic influence of the GOAT on the worldwide enterprise of tennis  vs. the butt hurt bleetings of some expendable little men - will be most interesting to observe and measure.

There have been rumblings for years about replacing these overpaid and underperforming accessories to the match with computers, taking the element of human error (and human sensitivity) out of the equation. If the umpires go on strike, it will be a perfect opportunity to begin testing a new and improved HawkEye system which does a bit more than accurately track tennis ball ballistics.

In the interim, while the final and permanent disintermediation of highly fallible human umpires is developed, it will not be difficult to find other umpires to replace the ITF's little men with their panties in an ill-considered bunch. Technology has advanced to the point where umpires aren't really necessary. 

The victorian-era rules of tennis are a little archaic and arbitrary to being with, the fact that they are selectively enforced means it's overdue time for a change. 

medium |  Serena’s unhinged outbursts in yesterday’s US Open Championship, was an embarrassment and an eyeopener to who and what she’s become. We can go back and forth on what other male players have said and gotten away with, one has nothing to do with the other in this case. Serena’s issues over her career have not been because she was a woman but because she was Black. It’s disingenuous of those who claim to be woke, to not acknowledge that Serena used every liberal and feminists excuse, except for the real issue that’s plagued her career; her skin color.

This intersectionality game that Feminist play to ensure that White women are the real benefactors in all things related to womanhood and civil rights, is becoming irritating. The fact that Serena did not acknowledge her Blackness as the real issue she has been constantly discriminated against, was a slap in the face for Black women and more importantly Black female athletes. Serena has attempted to use her giving birth and being a mother as somehow a foreign thing in women’s sports. She has also bought into the social media hype and White liberals newfound love and praise for her because she’s a mother.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Democratic Factionalization in the Context of American Property Supremacy

theatlantic |  Madison and Hamilton believed that Athenian citizens had been swayed by crude and ambitious politicians who had played on their emotions. The demagogue Cleon was said to have seduced the assembly into being more hawkish toward Athens’s opponents in the Peloponnesian War, and even the reformer Solon canceled debts and debased the currency. In Madison’s view, history seemed to be repeating itself in America. After the Revolutionary War, he had observed in Massachusetts “a rage for paper money, for abolition of debts, for an equal division of property.” That populist rage had led to Shays’s Rebellion, which pitted a band of debtors against their creditors.

Madison referred to impetuous mobs as factions, which he defined in “Federalist No. 10” as a group “united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” Factions arise, he believed, when public opinion forms and spreads quickly. But they can dissolve if the public is given time and space to consider long-term interests rather than short-term gratification.

To prevent factions from distorting public policy and threatening liberty, Madison resolved to exclude the people from a direct role in government. “A pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction,” Madison wrote in “Federalist No. 10.” The Framers designed the American constitutional system not as a direct democracy but as a representative republic, where enlightened delegates of the people would serve the public good. They also built into the Constitution a series of cooling mechanisms intended to inhibit the formulation of passionate factions, to ensure that reasonable majorities would prevail.

The people would directly elect the members of the House of Representatives, but the popular passions of the House would cool in the “Senatorial saucer,” as George Washington purportedly called it: The Senate would comprise natural aristocrats chosen by state legislators rather than elected by the people. And rather than directly electing the chief executive, the people would vote for wise electors—that is, propertied white men—who would ultimately choose a president of the highest character and most discerning judgment. The separation of powers, meanwhile, would prevent any one branch of government from acquiring too much authority. The further division of power between the federal and state governments would ensure that none of the three branches of government could claim that it alone represented the people.

According to classical theory, republics could exist only in relatively small territories, where citizens knew one another personally and could assemble face-to-face. Plato would have capped the number of citizens capable of self-government at 5,040. Madison, however, thought Plato’s small-republic thesis was wrong. He believed that the ease of communication in small republics was precisely what had allowed hastily formed majorities to oppress minorities. “Extend the sphere” of a territory, Madison wrote, “and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other.” Madison predicted that America’s vast geography and large population would prevent passionate mobs from mobilizing. Their dangerous energy would burn out before it could inflame others.

Factional Discretion in the Context of Narrative Concentration

Sports is one arena where the insistence on some objective fact (the ball was in or out? was it a catch?) has devolved into a set of rules so convoluted as to be indecipherable. We don't trust the discretion and judgement of the human official (in or out, ball or strike, safe or out), and demand something objective like "Hawkeye" to "get the call right" and "make the game fair."

Our enforcement of the law would be quite different if there wasn't the discretion of the arresting officer, the discretion of a prosecutor, and the discretion of a judge involved. We know as fact that more young black men are prosecuted for drug offenses than young white men, even though young white men and young black men use and sell drugs at roughly equal rates.

The bottom line is that we all rejoice when that person gets what he or she deserves, but none of us wants what we really deserve.

ghionjournal |  Aaron Maté is a Beast!
This statement was admiringly blurted out by political vlogger Jamarl Thomas on his program The Progressive Soapbox last week. What he was talking about was a recent interview that Aaron Maté, producer, journalist and on-air talent at Paul Jay’s Real News Network, did with veteran journalist James Risen, currently of The Intercept. What did they discuss? The jailing of Reality Winner—Risen’s source for a leaked NSA document about potential Russian digital interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential primary.

It stands to reason that Thomas calls him Aaron “Buzzsaw” Maté. Even during his youthful Democracy Now days, Maté showed a genuine talent for interviewing people with a dogged focus on facts and an absolute inability to let his interviewees get away with bullshit, regardless of their perceived status.

As I listened to this interview with Risen, I started having flashbacks to all the Columbo reruns I watched as a kid. If you’ve ever seen the old detective show with the inimitable Peter Falk, there was a formula: the disheveled working class Columbo would ask an endless stream of seemingly basic questions of his suspects, who were usually impatient and annoyed wealthy white people who thought he was far beneath them in the pecking order. Eventually, they would crack under the pressure of his incessant queries, realizing too late that he’d been amassing reams of factual evidence against them while they’d been too busy feeling superior to notice.

Local Legal and Political Ties in the Context of Economic Globalization

theatlantic |  Judges, who are mostly technical people, help weave a fabric of practices, rules, regulations, customs, agreements, and working arrangements—some local and some regional, some formal and some informal. The fabric, like that of Penelope, sometimes comes undone during the night; but we must simply continue to work on the problems before us. I have always liked FDR’s advice: “It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

Third, and finally, my legal examples suggest the importance of looking to approaches and solutions that themselves embody a rule of law. To achieve and maintain a rule of law is more difficult than many people believe. The effort is ancient, stretching back to King John and the Magna Carta, and still earlier. And the effort does not always succeed. I often describe to judges from other countries how, in the 1830s, a president of the United States, Andrew Jackson, when faced with a Supreme Court decision holding that northern Georgia (where gold had been found) belonged to the Cherokee Nation, is said to have remarked, “John Marshall [the chief justice] has made his decision, now let him enforce it.” Jackson sent troops to Georgia, but not to enforce the law. Instead they evicted the tribe members, sending them along the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma, where their descendants live to this day.

Not for more than a century, a period that included the Civil War and decades of racial segregation, would the Supreme Court hold, in Brown v. Board of Education, in 1954, that racial segregation violated the Constitution. Yet the country did not abolish segregation the next year or the year after that. When, in 1957, a judge in Little Rock, Arkansas, ordered Central High School desegregated, the local White Citizens’ Council, supported by the governor, rallied in front of the school, letting no black child enter. It took more than judicial decisions to end segregation. It took a president’s decision to send 1,000 paratroopers to Arkansas. It took Martin Luther King Jr., and the Freedom Riders, and the words and deeds of countless Americans who were not lawyers or judges. Today the public has come to accept the rule of law. When the Court decided Bush v. Gore, a case that was unpopular among many, and was (as I wrote in dissent) wrongly decided, the nation accepted the decision without rioting in the streets. That is a major asset for a nation with a highly diverse population of 320 million citizens.

We do not have to convince judges or lawyers that maintaining the rule of law is necessary—they are already convinced. Instead we must convince ordinary citizens, those who are not lawyers or judges, that they sometimes must accept decisions that affect them adversely, and that may well be wrong. If they are willing to do so, the rule of law has a chance. And as soon as one considers the alternatives, the need to work within the rule of law is obvious. The rule of law is the opposite of the arbitrary, which, as the dictionary specifies, includes the unreasonable, the capricious, the authoritarian, the despotic, and the tyrannical. Turn on the television and look at what happens in nations that use other means to resolve their citizens’ differences.

For my generation, the need for law in its many forms was perhaps best described by Albert Camus in The Plague. He writes of a disease that strikes Oran, Algeria, which is his parable for the Nazis who occupied France and for the evil that inhabits some part of every man and woman. He writes of the behavior of those who lived there, some good, some bad. He writes of the doctors who help others without relying upon a moral theory—who simply act. At the end of the book, Camus writes that
the germ of the plague never dies nor does it ever disappear. It waits patiently in our bedrooms, our cellars, our suitcases, our handkerchiefs, our file cabinets. And one day, perhaps, to the misfortune or for the education of men, the plague germ will reemerge, reawaken the rats, and send them forth to die in a once-happy city.
The struggle against that germ continues. And the rule of law is one weapon that civilization has used to fight it. The rule of law is the keystone of the effort to build a civilized, humane, and just society. At a time when facing facts, understanding the local and global challenges that they offer, and working to meet those challenges cooperatively is particularly urgent, we must continue to construct such a society—a society of laws—together.