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Randell Jesup
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Not fighting fair!

Appearing at his first public event since leaving office, Obama fired off a punishing fusillade of grammatically correct sentences, the likes of which the American people have not heard from the White House since he departed... in what was widely seen as a brutal attack on his successor, without ever once referring to or mentioning Donald Trump.

“About five or six sentences in, I noticed that all of his sentences had both nouns and verbs in them,” Carol Foyler said. “I couldn’t believe he was going after Trump like that.”

Borowitz is brilliant: "Obama’s blistering deployment of complete sentences clearly got under the skin of their intended target, who, moments after the event, responded with an angry tweet: “Obama bad (or sick) guy. Failing. Sad!”

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Democrats held both Congress and the White House for only two of the last 22 years. And yet, they were busy. Their salient trait is not to be “leftist,” – since fair-competitive markets always (that’s always) do better across DP administrations – but rather to be manic, scurrying around to address problems during their limited time in power. Hence, we should note the science-tech actions taken just during the 2009-2011 span.

Those include the CAFÉ increases in fleet efficiency standards that Republicans claimed would “destroy the US auto industry.” (Recall that just a year earlier, the GOP opposed the federal government making secured loans to GM and Chrysler (loans that were paid back), shouting let ‘em go under!”) Those efficiency standards made all our cars vastly more economical, saving drivers billions, while reducing pollution and all of it while US autos got ever-better, safer, more luxurious and cheaper in constant dollars… oh and while US carmakers made fine profits.

Likewise, several bills passed during those two years that so stimulated the sustainable energy markets that we now appear to be verging on the “solar singularity.” That is the moment when the incredible acceleration of sustainable power supplies (including wind) gains unstoppable momentum. More jobs are being created in solar than have been lost in coal, by an order of magnitude. See the stats; they are quite impressive,

Though I am still worried about resilience. A million solar homes in the US will shut down in the event of a power blackout, instead of providing islands of power for their neighborhoods. We should not have to wait for cheap battery packs, in order to fix this, when a $25 switch would suffice, in the short term.

But there’s more energy efficiency news, as TESLA Motors announces the soon-to-com unveiling of a project to make all-electric “semi” trucks to haul cargo with unprecedented efficiency.

The troglodyte lords who are trying to drag us back into feudalism, while heaping scorn upon all of the fact and knowledge castes, don’t get it. If you guys succeed, you won’t like to see us when we’re mad. But you’re safe. Because you will fail. 

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Space ravioli? No, it's Saturn's moon Pan, spotted by our Cassini spacecraft from a distance of 15,268 miles, or 24,572 kilometers. These images are the closest images ever taken of Pan and will help to characterize its shape and geology. See more raw images:
Animated Photo

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What an amazing twitter exchange...

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And I can't quite believe this, but there's yet another positive story to share today. This is about a paper that came out recently on particle physics. Like an awful lot of papers in particle physics, it proposes an extension to the Standard Model (our best current understanding of the field, which has done remarkably well in predicting an awful lot of things) which can explain a lot of currently open questions about the universe.

However, this paper has some nice features which most papers of this sort don't. There's a sort-of tradition in particle physics (which I'm embarrassed to admit I've participated in) of publishing "pissing on trees" papers: you come up with some theory, show that it's not inconsistent with what we've observed so far about the universe (and it turns out there are an awful lot of things you can do which aren't inconsistent, even once you take the full scientific rigor of professional physicists into account), and publish it as "maybe." This is called "pissing on trees" because if it turns out later that this theory was right, then you've published one of the original papers on it, and a great deal of credit will follow; that is, you're staking out your claim ahead of time, but not really producing anything that valuable, because most of these "maybes" are pretty far-out.

This "SMASH" paper (short for "Standard Model + Axion + Seesaw + Higgs," a short description of the three kinds of extension to the SM it provides) does considerably better, though. With a fairly minimal extension to existing physics (proposing three new families of particle, each of which is considered not-outrageous) they manage to explain a bunch of difficult open problems in physics at once. And rather nicely, the SMASH hypothesis is straightforwardly testable – to the extent that several planned experiments already in the works should be able to say a definitive "yes" or "no" to it within the next decade.

I won't try to give a full explanation of the things it explains, since this gets really technical really fast. The short list is inflation (what force caused the universe to expand really rapidly in its early history, so that its current size is "really big" rather than "about the size of a grapefruit"), reheating (how inflation stops and that energy of expansion somehow gets converted into matter instead of a big, empty universe), dark matter (what is this mysterious substance which appears to form a quarter of the mass of the universe, yet be transparent to light?), baryogenesis (in particular, why is there so much more matter than antimatter in the universe? It's handy for the "not going boom all the time" business, but it's far from obvious why it should be true), and stability (why at daily-life energy scales, certain high-energy properties of physics don't cause Higgs bosons to suddenly become infinitely heavy and attractive or similar weird things which many theories fall victim to).

There are plenty of theories which explain these individually, but SMASH is nice in giving systematic answers to all of them – which makes me far more interested in it than in most papers of this sort.

Of course, it'll take a lot of experiment to see if this goes anywhere, but for once, we actually have an existing experimental roadmap which will answer that. :)

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Worst case scenario. We are seeing a calamitous failure of the entire democratic experiment. I don’t believe that — not yet. I think the oligarchic putsch has made a big mistake by attacking our professional classes and intel and military officer corps. But I might be wrong. In which case, we will have to study from those who have lived under despots and learn the arts of resistance.

Consider these bits of advice in: “Autocracy: Rules for Survival,” by Masha Gessen.

Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says.
Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule #3: Institutions will not save you.

I am still a sucker for this one. But go read what she says, anyway.

Rule #4: Be outraged. In the face of the impulse to normalize, it is essential to maintain one’s capacity for shock.

Rule #5: Don’t make compromises. Like Ted Cruz, who made the journey from calling Trump “utterly amoral” and a “pathological liar” to endorsing him in late September to praising his win as an “amazing victory for the American worker,” Republican politicians have fallen into line. Democrats in Congress will begin to make the case for cooperation.

History supports this. Democrats always always try to negotiate, while the GOP has become the most tightly disciplined partisan machine in American history, utterly hewing to the “Hastert Rule” (concocted by their former speaker and leader and convicted sexual pervert-predator, Dennis Hastert) to never, ever negotiate in good faith. DP Congresses always meet Republican presidents halfway. (GOP Congresses never do that with Democratic presidents.) But today, “halfway" is still utterly insane treason.

Rule #6: Remember the future.

Says this deep futurist… amen.

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Executive order that incarcerated Japanese Americans is 75 (From PBS NewsHour)

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End-to-end encryption helps ... but watch out for that last item, where they can force providers (whatsapp, apple, etc) to break their own encryption or deliver updates that allow snooping. 
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