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Member since: Tue Dec 6, 2016, 09:49 AM
Number of posts: 1,796

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Looking for recommendations for a book on recent advances in cosmology.

I was watching Neil deGrasse Tyson on Colbert and realized this layman's knowledge had gotten pretty stale. Web page recommendations are OK, but for a week I'll be on a boat where the link to the Internet is, I think, pigeons.

TY in advance,

My first political letter to my Trump-supporting relatives in the Trump era.

It's a work in progress.


On the morning of April 2, 2014, I woke up from a sound sleep with a bizarre feeling in my chest, a feeling that some people have described as a frog kicking. The first thing I did was to check my pulse and it was wildly irregular. It's not a big jump of imagination to think that if your heart rate is varying wildly, it could just...stop.

My first thought was, is this how it ends? Am I OK with this? And, mostly, you know, I was. I was alone. No one was depending on me. I'd lived a pretty good life, with some major ups and downs to be sure, but still I got to do a lot of interesting and enjoyable things, been with some truly wonderful people, and would, I think, leave the world a little bit better than it was when I came in.

But then I got to thinking about my niece and her baby due to arrive any day and I realized that if I were to die that day, she'd always be sad on his birthday that I'd missed his arrival by a few days and we never got to meet. Not OK.

Anyway, I ended up in the emergency room. They diagnosed me with atrial fibrillation, and restored my normal heart rhythm with meds. I now take a beta blocker and use a CPAP machine and have had no re-occurrences. My great nephew is three now and is a delight, a genuinely great nephew.

The point was, that at the moment I wondered if my life was in jeopardy, I could look back and feel that I'd done well by others and myself and that things would be mostly OK when I was gone.

Fast forward to January 13, 2018. Residents of the State of Hawaii saw this message on their cell phones:

Emergency Alert

It must be that a huge number of people in Hawaii were asking them themselves the same question. Is this is the way it ends? But not just for me, but for my spouse and my parents and my siblings and my children, my grandchildren, and everyone I care for or might ever care for? Am I OK with this?

They weren't. No matter what kind of life they lived and how well they prepared, they knew things wouldn't be fine when they were gone. And you won't be OK either if you experience it. The only tiny crumb of comfort you'll experience at a moment like that, was that you did the best you could to prevent it.

So do that. Pick up the phone. Write letters. Visit your congresspeople. Find a demonstration and march in it. Talk to your friends, and be prepared to lose some. Join a group. Be loud, obnoxious, and raise Hell. And let the world know that you will never, ever support a candidate who thinks that flirting with a nuclear Armageddon is somehow a crowd-pleaser.

Otherwise, imagine yourself asleep in your bed, awakened by the flash of a nuclear explosion, and in that brief instant before the shock wave hits your house and you're buried in flaming rubble, your last thought was that you could have done something to prevent this and you didn't.

I'm a New Yorker. We know what a shithole looks like.

Here's one:

Still skeptical of the claims being made in Wolff's book but...

...it certainly throws a lot of fuel on the fire of the notion that no one in the Trump camp had any ability to run a presidential campaign and that someone else was.

Who do you suppose that could have been?

One wonders if it's possible to assure Kim that Trump can't actually launch nukes on his own.

I'd like to be assured of that too -- if it's true. I know there are several schools of thought on this subject.

Christianity Today: "The Biggest Loser in the Alabama Election"

An article from December 12.

No matter the outcome of today’s special election in Alabama for a coveted US Senate seat, there is already one loser: Christian faith. When it comes to either matters of life and death or personal commitments of the human heart, no one will believe a word we say, perhaps for a generation. Christianity’s integrity is severely tarnished.


An interesting read, not because of what's in it, but what's not. You see, by driving thoughtful, decent people away from evangelical churches, the Evangelicals, by their stated beliefs, are likely condemning a tremendous number of people to eternal damnation by depriving them of their opportunity to hear the message that they need Jesus as their personal saviour.

Also, Evangelicals emphasize that every believer has a personal relationship with God and that prayer for comfort and guidance should be a part of every born-again person's life.

Neither of these things is mentioned in the article. It's like they can't even be bothered to pretend to believe their own theology.

Just put my late wife's book on sale through Amazon.

It's a book she wrote after her younger brother died, trying to make sense of it all. It's about growing up disabled, adventures in the early world of online interactions, relationships, tragedy, and recovery.

It's "Gone to Sorrow", by Susan Crouch. If you look it up in Amazon you can read the first few chapters for free. I'm too close to the events in the book to be objective about it, but I've been told by other people that it's a very enjoyable book.

Remember the lead-crime hypothesis? Is there a lead-Trump link?

And if you chart the rise and fall of atmospheric lead caused by the rise and fall of leaded gasoline consumption, you get a pretty simple upside-down U: Lead emissions from tailpipes rose steadily from the early ’40s through the early ’70s, nearly quadrupling over that period. Then, as unleaded gasoline began to replace leaded gasoline, emissions plummeted.
Gasoline lead may explain as much as 90 percent of the rise and fall of violent crime over the past half century.

Intriguingly, violent crime rates followed the same upside-down U pattern. The only thing different was the time period: Crime rates rose dramatically in the ’60s through the ’80s, and then began dropping steadily starting in the early ’90s. The two curves looked eerily identical, but were offset by about 20 years.


Duncan Black over at www.eschatonblog.com brought this up a while back. Antisocial behavior that becomes bad enough results in crimes that show up as arrests and convictions, but there are lots of antisocial behaviors that don't show up in crime statistics. Black speculated that much of what we see in politics these days springs from the same impairments in impulse control, empathy, and anger management that supposedly drove the crime wave. The main difference being that street thugs tend to be a lot younger than Senators, so the effect would show up later.

Otherwise there's not that much difference. A street thug jacks your car. A Rethug jacks your country.

AL Sec of State is choosing his words very carefully.

Almost sounds like he's testifying in court. Good move on his part, I'd say.

I've had all I can takes!

And I can't takes no Moore!!!
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