Saturday, April 9, 2016

Cab Thoughts 4/9/16

"We are the friends of liberty everywhere but custodians only of our own."--John Adams
Philip Lubin is a physics professor working at the University of California at Santa Barbara's Experimental Cosmology Group. Last year he and his team were awarded a proof-of-concept grant from NASA to investigate the use of photonic propulsion to power interplanetary spacecraft. Lubin is investigating shooting Earth-orbiting lasers at wafer-thin space vessels to propel them to greater speeds through the vacuum of space. The photons in the laser light would literally push the vessel along, much in the way the solar sail being tested plans to use photons from the sun for propulsion. This is called electromagnetic acceleration and can achieve vastly quicker speeds than chemical propulsion, such as that produced by rocket fuel. "Electromagnetic acceleration is only limited by the speed of light while chemical systems are limited to the energy of chemical processes," Lubin writes in a paper that lays out his road map for this type of space travel. Using the same amount of time (10 minutes) and chemical energy (50-100 gigawatts) it will take to get the Space Launch System (SLS) into orbit, his proposed system could propel a craft to 30 percent the speed of light -- getting a 100-kilogram (about 220-pound) robotic craft to Mars in just a few days. The SLS is the world's most powerful rocket, now being developed by NASA for an eventual manned mission to Mars.
Who is...The Venerable Bede?
In 1974, Patty Hearst, the 19-year-old daughter of newspaper publisher Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped from her apartment in Berkeley. A rather extraordinary story. A group of lunatics actually formed an organization. Hearst, in several months, had joined them and was holding up banks.  There is a lot in the story that still confounds me. Crazies can not form groups. And people, however shallow, should be harder to convince to rewrite their hardware completely. But it may make terrorism less obscure.
“Of course the (Russian foreign intelligence) service got it all,” a high-ranking former KGB officer told John R. Schindler, a former national security affairs professor at the Naval War College writing in the Observer. “I don’t know if we’re as good as we were in my time,” Schindler’s source told him, “but even half-drunk the SVR” — today’s version of the KGB — “could get those emails, they probably couldn’t believe how easy Hillary made it for them.” Now this is conjecture. I think reasonable but conjecture. But maybe not. Maybe our enemies are as dumb and careless as we are.
The Venerable Bede was a cleric and historian, who wrote the Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum (“The Ecclesiastical History of the English People”), which became the basic history of the period. He finished it in the year 731. In recognition of his remarkable life and contribution, in 1899 Bede was made a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII. He remains the only British-born person ever to be so honored. 
The new Public Religion Research Institute survey shows that in just one year, there has been a 9 percentage point rise in the number of people who would not let their own kids play football. When PRRI polled Americans on this question last year, 22% said they'd keep their kids off the gridiron; now the figure is 31%. What does that mean for the future? But these numbers are also interesting: Of those surveyed by PRRI,  only 12% report having played football in their youth, in contrast with the 27% who report having played baseball or softball. So what if the parents won't let their kids play. They didn't.
An academic Society for Creative Anachronism. Every year, three thousand people gather in Kalamazoo for the sake of the years 400 to 1400 (approximately) of the Common Era, aka A.D.. The International Congress on Medieval Studies, held annually at Western Michigan University, is the largest gathering of medievalists on earth. They come from all over the world to participate in panels like “Attack and Counterattack: The Embattled Frontiers of Medieval Iberia,” “Waste Studies: Excrement in the Middle Ages,” “Historical, Ethnical and Religious Roots of the Thraco-Geto-Dacians and Their Successors: Romanians and Vlaho-Romanians” and “J. K. Rowling’s Medievalism (I & II).” They are literary critics, historians, experts in numismatics and linguistic datasets, and nuns. There are over five hundred sessions: meetings and drinks parties and bookstalls; groups of monks dressed in black; bespectacled, serious, young men; elderly ladies in capped sleeves. Living history.
Polar bears are left handed. Bulls can be either, an important distinction for a bullfighter who must find out early which horn the bull favors.
The greatest alibi ever: Ismael Ruiz Hernández, better known to his millions of fans as Maelo Ruiz, claims he has not cheated on his wife-of-21-years, and that the woman, Karla Ankara Toledo Cova, is a crazed fan. However, the 49-year-old singer is not denying paternity, but is accusing Ms Ankara Toledo Cova of robbing a sperm bank where he had placed 'semen deposits' for his wife to use in case he died. Ms Ankara Toledo Cova on the other hand claims they had a passionate love affair, during which he fathered her twin girls. The victim of a sperm bank bandit.
So Wideman gets a 20 game suspension for attempting to injure a referee but trying to injure a player--especially a major player--gets a game or two?

It seems to me, your majesty, that the life human beings have on earth now, when you see it in relation to everything we don’t know about, is like this: You are sitting having supper in winter with all your advisors and commanders, a nice fire burning, while outside storms of rain and snow are raging. A sparrow flies swiftly through the room. In one door, out the other. While the sparrow is inside, the winter storm cannot hurt him. But after a little space of comfort, he soon returns to the wintry winter, out of your sight. In the same way, the life of human beings is only visible to us for a short time: what happens next, or what happened before, we just don’t know. --Venerable Bede in Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum (“The Ecclesiastical History of the English People”)
Watched the first O.J. Simpson program. This will not be good for the country. Free Bill Cosby?

The Pew Research Center has found that median wealth for middle class households dropped by 28% between 2001 and 2013. In 1970, the middle class took home approximately 62% of all income. Today, that number has plummeted to just 43%. There are still 900,000 fewer middle class jobs in America than there were when the last recession began, but our population has gotten significantly larger since that time.

Golden oldie:
In August 1914, German troops shot and killed 150 civilians at Aerschot. The killing was part of war policy known as Schrecklichkeit (“frightfulness”). Its purpose was to terrify civilians in occupied areas so that they would not rebel.
Neal Cassady died at the age of forty-one. Cassady was not only Jack Kerouac's wheelman on the cross-country trips that inspired On the Road but a direct influence on Kerouac's style, described as "a continuous chain of undisciplined thought"--influenced by Benzedrine and booze.  He was also wheelman for Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, in the bus that had "FURTHER" as its destination sign. He was found unconscious in the Mexican mountains, from a pulque and speed overdose, while on a fifteen-mile walk along the train tracks counting the ties between stations. It is said he got to 64,928 and that these were his dying words.
(Pulque is a pre-Columbian alcoholic drink made from fermenting the sap of any of several species of the agave, or maguey, plant (often called century plant). It was drunk by the Aztecs.)
Desiderata: pleural noun: 1. things wanted or needed; the plural of desideratum. Quotes: Over time, however, I came to realize that my friend, nice as he is, prizes extreme beauty above all the other desiderata that one might seek in a partner.-- Adelle Waldman, "'A First-Rate Girl': The Problem of Female Beauty," The New Yorker, October 2, 2013  ety: Desiderata and the singular desideratum derive from the Latin verb dēsīderāre meaning "to long for, require." Desiderata entered English in the mid-1600s.

The WashPo had an article remarkably evenhanded about Hillary and Libya. Critics have said it is a replay of Iraq. Here's a segment: A few hours later, after consultations with British and Arab allies and a leader of the Libyan opposition all demanding action, Clinton joined a White House meeting of President Obama’s National Security Council by phone and forcefully urged the president to take military action.
Clinton’s decision to shed her initial reluctance and strongly back a military operation in Libya was one of the most significant — and risky — of her career.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, national security adviser Thomas E. Donilon and others were against military action, contending that the United States had no clear national interests at stake and that operations could last far longer and cost more lives than anyone anticipated.
But Clinton joined U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice and White House adviser Samantha Power in pressing Obama to back a U.S.- and NATO-led military campaign, arguing that the United States could not let Gaddafi butcher his citizens.

The catfish has over 27,000 taste buds, more than any other animal. Why?
AAAaaaaaannnnnddddd......a map of the Middle East which implies geography is more important than ethnic and religious identity:

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