15 September 2016
14 September 2016
"[There] is a fundamental difference between the kind of knowledge given to us by mathematics/logic/pure reason and the kind we get from science. The truths of math and logic would be true in any possible world; the things science teaches us are true about our world, but could have been false in another one. Most of the interesting things it is possible to know are not things we could ever hope to 'prove,' in the strong sense. ¶ Even when we do believe a theory beyond a reasonable doubt, we will understand that it's an approximation, likely (or certain) to break down somewhere. There could very well be some new hidden field that we haven't yet detected that acts to slightly alter the true behavior of gravity from what Einstein predicted [for example]. And there is certainly something going on when we get down to the quantum scales; nobody believes that general relativity is really the final word on gravity. But none of these changes the essential truth that GR is 'right' in a certain well-defined regime. When we do hit upon an even better understanding, the current one will be understood as a limiting case of the more comprehensive picture."
I had tried to make this point, and even that the same is true of Newton's gravity theory vis-a-vis Einstein's. Newton is a limiting case of Einstein. Any future quantum theory of gravity will have Einstein's as a limiting case. (Indeed, it's already established that any quantum corrections to Einstein will be unobservably small on a macro level).
But there's another point that ties into this that is perhaps even more important. Many people seem to think that because science is adductive, empirical, and subject to falsification at any time (based as it is on Bayesian reasoning, which Carroll explains beautifully and that alone is worth the price of the book)... that it is somehow just another form of faith, based on unprovable belief. Religious people will often say that belief in evolution is just a form of faith in a secular religion. But it isn't, and that kind of reasoning is completely fallacious. Again, Carroll:
"You will sometimes hear the claim that even science is based on a kind of 'faith,' for example, in the reliability of our experimental data or in the existence of unbreakable physical laws. That is wrong. As a part of the practice of science, we certainly make assumptions-- our sense data is giving us roughly reliable information of the world, simple explanations are preferable to complex ones, we are not brains in vats, and so forth. But we don't have 'faith' in those assumptions; they are the components of our 'planets of belief,' [a term he coined and explains elsewhere], but they are always subject to revision and improvement, and even, if necessary, outright rejection. By its nature, science needs to be completely open to the actual operation of the world, and that means that we stand ready to discard any idea that is no longer useful, no matter how cherished and central it may once have seemed." (Some emphasis added).
Few religionists will acknowledge the same rules of reason and evidence for their beliefs. But the main point is that science is not committed to any particular view of the world; other than the view that any proposition must withstand challenges from actual evidence, at any time. Of course many scientists, being human beings, are subject to various biases and "pet theories." But science itself is, by its nature, self-correcting.
03 August 2016
Very little information is available about Pasquini; even the Wikipedia article is rather spare. Here's from a review of one of the few disks available of his keyboard music (on Stradivarius, an Italian early music label):
Bernardo Pasquini was one of the most celebrated keyboard virtuosos of his time. He can be considered the successor of Girolamo Frescobaldi who - like Pasquini - worked in Rome for most of his career. Pasquini is an important link between the music of the renaissance and early baroque periods and that of the first half of the 18th century.
He was born in Massa Valdinievole in Pistoia and moved to Rome at the age of 13. Here he worked as organist in various churches. He played a crucial role in musical life in Rome, and often collaborated with Arcangelo Corelli in performances of his own vocal works. Today he is best known for his keyboard music, but he also composed operas, oratorios, cantatas and motets. It is interesting to note that not only was he influenced by Frescobaldi but also studied the oeuvre of Palestrina extensively.
Although he mostly worked in Rome, he twice travelled abroad: once to the imperial court in Vienna, and in 1664 he played to Louis XIV in Paris. His high status is reflected by his title of 'organist of the Senate and Roman people' and his inclusion in the Arcadian Academy, alongside such masters as Corelli and Alessandro Scarlatti.
Very few of his keyboard works were printed during his lifetime. The largest part has come down to us in two manuscripts which are preserved in Berlin and London respectively. They show a great variety in forms, and Luca Guglielmi has recorded a programme which includes specimens of the different genres.
It is especially in the toccatas that the influence of Frescobaldi comes to the fore. These are pieces in improvisatory style, often beginning in a slow tempo and then speeding up, following the instructions Frescobaldi added to his compositions in this genre. One of the toccatas is based on the imitation of the cuckoo, which was very popular in the 17th century. The same goes for pieces on a basso ostinato; Guglielmi plays two passagagli. A third genre which we also find in Frescobaldi's oeuvre is that of the variation. Guglielmi plays Variazioni in C and Partite diverse di follia. The latter is on a pattern which frequently returns in the baroque period, for instance in the last of Corelli's violin sonatas op. 5 and in Vivaldi's trio sonatas op. 1. There is also a 'modern' element in Pasquini's oeuvre: the suite. Pasquini introduced this French form to Italy, although he didn't strictly follow the texture as had become common in France and Germany. The two suites in the present programme have no sarabanda. They begin with an alemanda, which is followed by a corrente and a giga. The suites close with a bizzarria. These suites are pretty short; the last two movements take less than a minute each.
Guglielmi plays a Pastorale as a bonus track. It is the only piece which is played on the organ. This reflects Pasquini's activities as an organist. The Pastorale is a genre which was also popular in Italy, often associated with Christmastide and imitating the flutes of the shepherds.
This is a nice disc whose programme is largely different from that which was recorded by Roberto Loreggian for Chandos and reviewed here (review ~review). Luca Guglielmi is a busy man who has produced several discs lately. This programme was largely recorded in 2003 and as far as I know has not been released before. That is rather odd, as Pasquini's music is not that well represented in the catalogue. His oeuvre is versatile and compelling, and so is Guglielmi's interpretation. He uses a copy of a beautiful late 17th-century Italian harpsichord, whereas the organ dates from 1752. I only regret that this disc is so short; I would have liked to have heard more.
Johan van Veen
29 July 2016
I've argued with
26 July 2016
25 July 2016
It's nice to trash TTP, which may be a job killer, but
globalization including trade deals is hard to stop.American weakness in education and training for21st Century jobs is exposed for all to see:High school drop outs, phony Dean's Lists inUniversities where most students get A and Bgrades. And where science, math and technologyhave minimal attraction to students creates issuesin the present scene of global competition.Look at the high-tech companies and their hiringpractices. They cannot find nearly enough UScitizens to fill the jobs so they lobby Congress toexpand the number of visas for foreigners so theycan fill those empty positions.Trade deals will happen. The US in the period from1945 to 2000 could pretty much dictate to the restof the world who was or who was not eligible to belongto the World Trade Organization. Those days are longgone.The World moves on and the US must move with itor lose.
24 July 2016
23 July 2016
But I have to say that, while he is OK on human rights issues and generally a reliable Centrist Democrat, I'm less than thrilled with Clinton's choice of Tim Kaine. First, I think it's not a good idea to keep picking presidential and vice presidential candidates from the ranks of senators and former senators. Historically, former governors of big states make the best executives. And a veep is a president in waiting, pretty much no more no less.
But mainly, come on. The primary was a relatively tight race between the first real Roosevelt progressive in years and the first woman
10 July 2016
26 June 2016
13 June 2016
06 June 2016
From: Ryan Grim <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, Jun 6, 2016 at 1:53 PM
Subject: Obama went from cutting Social Security to boosting it. Here's how that happened...
29 May 2016
I'm Voting For The Democrat In November Because I'm Not A Human Tire Fire
This is for anybody wasting time online blathering about how Hillary and Trump are the same; how if Hillary gets the nomination, they won't vote at all; or how they're super-stoked to vote for a third party candidate because THEY HAVE PRINCIPLES, GODDAMMIT.
Hi. I'm your Auntie Sara. Time to wake the fuck up. If you are decent, you are going to vote for the Democrat in November. Not because you love Hillary (or Bernie, for whom I will vote if Hillary doesn't get the nomination!) Not because you love the two-party system (I don't! Do you? That's weird! We deserve better!) But because we're dealing with brass tacks reality here, not our dreams.
No, I don't assume you're sexist because you want to vote for Bernie. Of course not. I know many good and decent people, men and women and gender queer folks, who want to vote for Bernie, or for Hillary, or for Jill, or for ALMOST anyone but Trump. Yes, Bernie Bros are real. Yes, Hillary people can be annoying. Yes, any folks can be awful. I am not a woman who thinks everyone who loves a dude is sexist. I love dudes too! Sometimes ladies also! Sometimes folks who don't conform to gender! Anyway, read on.
When I was a tiny baby woman of 20, I loved Michael Moore's assertion that Gore and Bush 2 were EXACTLY THE SAME, MAAAAAAAN. I loved this because he was funny and smart, this Michael Moore, in my opinion. I still dig Michael Moore, though only in part and not in an idolatrous way, because I have put away most childish things like blind devotion to anyone who says something that sounds good but does not bear up to actual analysis. He is a wonderful filmmaker and storyteller with whom I do not always agree. He has evolved and so have I.
Other people who I thought were funny and smart and sensible loved Ralph Nader, too! Especially this one girl I knew with expensive dreadlocks (yes she was white, you silly billy, but you knew that already!) I thought Nader sounded great! I recognized he would never ever win the general, so I advocated for Gore. But still, this Nader was a delight! Also he made sure we had seatbelts! Were you aware? History is fun!
Then Bush 2 won.
Remember No Child Left Behind? AHAHHAHAHAHAHA. Oh, how fun it was to contend with that gem of legislation a few years later when I was teaching in the public high school system. Remember abstinence-only education? Of course you do; it's how you had your first child. And your second. They're so cute now! Hooray!
My point is this: don't throw your vote away because your ego and your "personal brand" says you've got to Feel the [fill in the blank thing that sounds great but will not lead to the Democrats actually winning the presidency in November 2016.]
I get it if it makes you feel really good personally and like a great liberal with super awesome true blue standards to vote for Bernie and support Bernie. He has many good things to say! He's done some lovely stuff! He is smart and amazing and I admire him a great deal. I admire many people. That's great. I also enjoyed Ralph Nader for a time. You know who's also great? Dr. Jill Stein, the Green lady! She seems great! But when Hillary gets the nomination, and she will, it is imperative to vote for the Democrat because the DNC platform is vastly superior to the GOP values. And if it makes you feel good in your feelings to stay home from the polls because you don't like Hillary or don't agree with things that she has done or said, you are effectively voting for Donald Trump.
And I'm not voting for Hillary JUST because I think she's more electable. I admire many things about her, too. Too many to list here, in fact! I don't know her personally. I don't know Bernie personally. I don't know Trump personally. This is about the work. This is not about being a fangirl or fanboy or doing what will make my friends (most of whom love either Bernie or Hillary) happy. This is what I think is right for my country in the pragmatic long run where feelings cool and your angry or elated reaction to this post is but a mere memory and you and I and everyone we know has to actually contend with the policies enacted by our president.
So get your fucking shit together once Hillary is the nominee, unless your ego and need to talk about stuff at your organic locally grown dinner parties for the next four years is greater than your respect for and compassion for the people who would suffer terribly under a GOP presidency and the Supreme Court for the next 10 to 40 years.
Sometimes you make the best choice and you still don't love it. But this is real life, not your copy of "Be Here Now." I had that book too. It was great! It was written by a wonderful man who comes from a world of white privilege. I do too! Isn't it crazy that I can make sense in some ways and be annoying or odious to you in other ways? This is how life works: things are not always all great, and neither are people.
Yes, we ought to have a system in which two parties are not dominant. It'd be great to have more than two viable candidates for president. Can you magically make that happen by November? No? Cool. Don't vote Green. Don't vote Libertarian. Vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Because it matters, and your choice this fall, barring an act of a God who does not exist, is Hillary or Trump. That's your choice. Hooray!
You don't like Hillary's past support for military actions in XYZ? Cool! Me neither, sometimes! Show me a president who has never made a decision that led to the deaths of women and children and innocent humans at home or (more likely) abroad and I will show you a lie. You think Bernie wouldn't take military action if necessary? You think our bombs wouldn't land on kids even if he took every precaution to ensure only military targets were hit? In what fucking world is the leader of any country a saint? Saints don't exist. Saints are a lie.
You think that's an endorsement of policies that kill innocent children? Then you're sorely in need of a course in reading comprehension.
I supported Hillary in the primary back in '08. Then I supported Barack Obama in the general. Why? Because, as the title indicates, I am not a human tire fire. Barack Obama has done amazing things for queer people here! He has also okayed the use of drones that killed innocent children in Pakistan and elsewhere! If you cannot look critically at your candidate, you will not look critically at your President. You're a cult member. Cult members never do anything good ever, except for the Amish people who make really great soft pretzels. But they still oppress women, even with their charming bonnets! Can you hold many truths in your brain at once? No? I'm sorry about that. Please read more and then talk to humans who are not like you, sometimes.
In the real world, sometimes you do not get all of the candy. Sometimes you get a little bit of the candy and that is better than getting a pile of actual flaming garbage. Don't just think about yourself… Think about the people who will be affected by the policies of the next president, as well as the people who will be affected by the Supreme Court. Unless your politics is just about whatever T-shirt you wear, in which case you really ought to get more into football.
You think this is condescending? I'm using small words to help you understand what many, many, many of us get: your assertion that you can't in good conscience vote for Hillary is an insult to me and women and queer folks and all the people who benefit and even have a chance to thrive under Democratic policies. You'd consign us to 4 years of Trump and two or three decades of a disgusting, vile Supreme Court because you have a sad feelz in your tum-tum?
You're goddamn right I'm condescending to you. You deserve this.
Get with the fucking program.
27 May 2016
23 May 2016
20 May 2016
People like me, planning to vote for Bernie in the last primaries, are not "dead enders," and we're not undermining Clinton!
Many of you who support Bernie ask me what you should do at this point. My suggestion:
1. Continue to work like hell for Bernie, especially given upcoming primaries in California and New Jersey on June 7. Putting aside superdelegates, the difference between him and Hillary Clinton isn't huge. So far, Bernie has won nearly 10 million votes and has 1,499 pledged delegates. Hillary Clinton has won 13 million votes and has 1,771 pledged delegates. California could make a huge difference.
2. Don't demonize or denigrate Hillary Clinton. If she wins the Democratic nomination, I urge you to work like hell for her. She'll be the only person standing between Donald Trump and the presidency of the United States. Besides, as I've said before, she'll be an excellent president for the system we now have, even though Bernie would be the best president for the system we need.
3. Never, ever give up fighting against the increasing concentration of wealth and power at the top, which is undermining our democracy and distorting our economy. That means, if Hillary Clinton is elected, I urge you to turn Bernie's campaign into a movement – even a third party – to influence elections at the state level in 2018 and the presidency in 2020. No movement to change the allocation of power succeeds easily or quickly. We are in this for the long haul.
What do you think?
Ah, the breath of sanity. I'm a total Bernie supporter, but I also recognize reality. I have had to defend my position... that every last vote and voter should be able to, and should, REGISTER their preference for Bernie and his agenda until every primary (and especially in my state, the largest of all) is over. Bernie should leverage his votes and his voters for as much of his agenda as the platform, symbolic and real, on which Clinton will run, assuming she is to be the nominee. THEN, Bernie will full throatedly endorse her, and we, Progressive Democrats energized and determined to advance his agenda going forward, will support her election against the proto Fascist Trump. And we will win that, while continuing to work for reform in our party and a genuine Progressive agenda for the country.
Sadly, I've had to defend this not only against "Bernie or Bust" folks, but against Clinton supporters who seem to think her weakness as a candidate, and the fact that her neocon foreign policy and Progressive-lite domestic agenda are failing to catch fire, is somehow Bernie's and his supporters' fault. The recordation of who supports who, and what, is what primaries are for, and Clinton supporters who say we're disloyal, or "harming" Clinton, for exercising our franchise are the ones who don't seem to understand how our democracy is supposed to work.
18 May 2016
PLEASE READ: Clinton as presumptive nominee despite the fact that Sanders has at least half the party behind him
In short, Sanders's supporters demand to be heard, and we expect anyone who claims to be the leader of the Democratic Party to represent the views and aspirations of the rank and file. Which means no more neo-liberal Centrist "Clintonism." Hillary Clinton, if she expects to unite the party and turn this into a wave election with a very good chance of flipping the Senate and making significant inroads in the House, must articulate and actually put into effect major small-d democratic reforms in the way the Party functions, and, more importantly, must articulate and honestly work to execute a far more Progressive policy agenda than what she has articulated in the past. The fact is, as of the present, she is barely winning the unqualified support of half the party. To unify the party, she had better realize that she needs to move towards, and stay with, the Progressive base. That means no backtracking on the disastrous, failed trade policy of the Obama administration. Rethinking the neocon interventionism that is probably the most disturbing thing about her record, personally. Supporting significant movement towards single-payer or public option in health care with major reform in out of pocket costs to working people and America's vast marginalized underclass. Supporting labor interests over finance in all aspects. Ditching the centrist Wall Street compromise mentality underlying Dodd Frank and working to enact serious, effective and permanent Wall Street reform, as articulated best by Elizabeth Warren. Supporting major tax reform to shift the burden of taxes more onto the wealthiest Americans and closing the loopholes and offshore havens that allow many of them to (legally) evade taxes. Expand, not cut, retirement security. Work to enact massive infrastructure investment, especially in renewable energy. And work for family leave, paid child care, enhanced job programs, enhanced food security, and free public education through college. (Which we once had in this country, in case anyone has forgotten).
03 May 2016
It's so painful to contemplate. Reuters has a poll showing Sanders with a national lead. And there is every reason, based on analysis and polling, to believe that he would be a STRONGER, not weaker, candidate against the Trump insurgency on the other side. Which most people recognize as quasi-Fascist demagoguery that we simply CANNOT allow to come to pass in our country. But the Byzantine electoral math, and protracted primary process, in this country has made it almost impossible for Democrats to simply assess their situation NOW, and choose the stronger, more popular, more electable candidate (notwithstanding conventional, but wrong, conceptions).
So if the machine grinds out Clinton as our candidate, I can only hope that she is smart, and wise, enough to recognize that the Sanders revolution is the future of the party, and that the way to counter the Trumpeter movement is to come out strong and bold with a policy and rhetorical campaign that presents a dramatic reform agenda and a promise of a "New New Deal" that will transform our ossified, oligarchic, and plutonomic political/economic system in a historic reform. Because if all she offers is establishment politics as usual (which is what her entire career represents), I really do fear that she could just possibly lose. And that would be a TOTAL DISASTER for our country. So, please, PLEASE, Ms. Clinton and all ye Clintonistas...
If ye have not and will not feel the Bern, at least GET THE MESSAGE. We need a genuine, strong, and determined Progressive alternative. And if it must be led by Hillary Clinton, then SHE MUST STEP UP and rise to that occasion. So far, I've seen very little evidence that she's capable of it. But hope springs eternal.
And meanwhile, I will continue to hope for a miracle, which is that Sanders becomes our nominee some kinda way. Hey, a guy's gotta have hope, don't he?
02 May 2016
I can never resist commenting on this sort of thing. Geek alert! If you aren't interested in life in the universe in its broadest sense, turn the page!
There are three issues the articles about this fail to cover adequately. 1. Brown dwarfs, to remain hot enough to warm even quite nearby planets to Earthlike temperatures, are likely to be quite young. Young celestial bodies translate to insufficient time for the evolution of complex life, which took several billion years on Earth. 2. Complex life insofar as we have any grasp of how it does or might possibly come into existence, requires photosynthesis. Chemoautotrophic life could exist, but no examples of such life developing sufficient energetics to evolve into complex microscopic organisms, are known on Earth, and there are pretty good theoretical reasons for concluding that the "engineering" of such organisms simply would not support that. And, as a corollary, the peak of the light curve of a dim star like this is so far in the infrared that the chemistry of photosynthesis, no matter how liberal you are in allowing for variations, simply DOES NOT WORK. There just isn't enough energy in the photons for the quantum states in the atoms involved in the reactions to change. No one can even suggest how photosynthetic reactions using infrared light might be made to work. And, again, there are pretty good theoretical reasons to believe this JUST DOES NOT HAPPEN, anywhere, at any time.
Artificial habitats in such places might be made to work; there is energy and matter. But it's highly unlikely that complex life (beyond the most rudimentary heterotrophs and chemoautotrophic bacteria-like organsims) could evolve there naturally.