30 November 2011

Norm Coleman, insidious evildoer

"Moderate" Democrats (by today's standards) often cite Norm Coleman as one of the "reasonable" Republicans. Take a look at this, if you are one of these "moderates."  What this guy is essentially saying is that he's just fine with unlimited power of money taking over politics, and the interests and will of the people be damned. I have a terse descriptor for that view: insidious evil.

29 November 2011

Cain Out, Gingrich benefits?

Roiling around the probably well-founded speculation that Herman Cain is finally about to throw in the towel, and the presumption that the most likely beneficiary of that event will be the Newster, my comment is this:

Despite the fact that Romney is obviously a totally hypocritical wealth extraction/concentration specialist (i.e., oligarchic fatcat 1%-er), whose interests are antithetical to those of nearly everyone in America, I am more concerned about his candidacy that that of Newt Gingrich, who I truly believe has zero chance of being elected president.

28 November 2011

Updated: FTL, Causation, and Travel to Remote Timespace Locales

Updated post

FTL, Causation, and Travel to Remote Timespace Locales

Original Post Jan. 2009 

I've been kicking around a sort of sci-fi idea. Conventional scientific thought has it that travel faster than light (FTL) is inherently impossible because it violates causation. (If you don't know why, you can read about it any number of places). Also because the energy necessary for any mass to travel at the speed of light is infinite, and asymptotically approaches infinity as you get closer and closer to that velocity. Nature abhors infinities, just as it abhors vacuum.

However, since the universe (as opposed to the observable universe) is, while not infinite, very very large, it stands to reason that there are many, many worlds, some perhaps a lot like Earth, all over the place, that are outside the time horizon of our current location in space and time. In other words, they are not and can never be causally connected to anything happening here.

If this isn't clear, think about this. The universe is no more than 13-14 billion years old, but there are regions of space much further than 13 billion light years distant, due to the expansion of space. A star in such regions isn't even theoretically visible from here, and it never will be. In fact, no form of communication whatsoever with such regions, which are by far most of the universe, will ever be possible. Unless...

If space is, as some believe, all twisted and interconnected with trapdoors and wormholes, maybe there are ways to connect more or less instantly, say across some kind of 'gateway', with places (timespace locations) which are vastly far away from here; so vastly that they cannot see us and we cannot see them, effectively, ever, in normal space and time.

Might it be at least conceivable that there could be a permanent or at least stable connection between two locales, vastly separated in normal spacetime but immediately proximate in twisty spacetime, so that you could routinely travel between them with no concern for violating either the energy considerations of FTL travel or the problems of timetravel paradoxes which normally arise when FTL is being considered? Travel of signals between such places in normal spacetime is impossible, so there's no way either could causally effect the other in normal spacetime. So the issue of timetravel paradoxes which would otherwise arise from any travel from one such location to another will never arise.

Anyway, an odd consequence of this is that it might be possible to immediately, or at least relatively quickly, travel to extremely remote locations in the universe, while it remains effectively impossible to travel quickly to even the very nearest stars, or anywhere in our own Galaxy, for example.

UPDATE (Nov. 2011):
Here is a more recent exposition of this same speculation. One problem that came to my attention after this, is created by relativity, whereby simultaneity is effectively nonexistent. The spacetime angle created by even small relative motion between very widely separated points in "normal space" might make synchronous travel through such points of contact effectively impossible even if they did exist. But it remains an intriguing idea, at least to me:

This is my idea, and it's how I think it's just possible that the universe actually is.

Accept, if you will, the following premise (I can explain why this is almost certainly so, if you like, but for now please just take it as a premise):

Faster than light travel by massive particles (and anything made out of them, including us and our spaceships, now and in the future, as well as those of any other creatures and their spaceships, now, and in the past and the future)....is impossible. For reasons of General Relativity, and because FTL is actually the mathematical equivalent of backwards time travel, which creates the possibility of violation of causality. For FTL to be possible, the many-worlds hypothesis of Quantum reality is necessarily true, and branching would have to occur both forwards and backwards; once you travel faster than light, you effectively break the connection with the universe you came from and you can never get back to it, although you could seemingly return to a world that resembled the one you left. Anyway, for purposes of my idea, please assume that this is not the case, that FTL is not now and never will be possible.

Now, accept, if you will, just as a thought experiment, the following:

The universe is so structured that places that are too far apart to be causally connected to each other (because light could never reach from one point to the other in the entire history since the Big Bang; rest assured that almost all locales in the universe are separated from almost all other locales in the universe in just this way)... nevertheless can be immediately adjacent to each other in the additional dimensions through which the normal space we live in is curved and re-curved. Picture three dimensional space projected like a map onto twisted spaghetti: locations distant along the threads might touch each other from one thread to another, or even one thread to another part of the same thread.

Then accept the following additional thought experiments:

There are points of contact, where it is possible to cross over from one part of space to another. The distance from A to B through this transit contact point is negligible, even though the distance between the same two points in normal space would typically be tens of billions of light years.

Such points of contact are relatively common (say, several, but not a huge number, accessible from any given place), and are possible, albeit technologically difficult, to detect.

Such points of contact are gravitationally associated with largish masses, like stars, but are typically found well outside the main mass of star systems, where planets and such are found, so that travel to them from such planetary systems is feasible, but not trivially easy. This makes them stable over time, and associated for long periods of time with particular stars and their planets.

A technological civilization arising anywhere in the universe could use these points of trans-spatial contact to create a whole network of accessible worlds, which were located some few tens to hundreds of billions of kilometers through normal space and a limited number of "link jumps" through the extra dimensions, without ever traveling faster than light and without violating causality. None of these linked worlds would be even theoretically visible from any of the others, and would be located literally all over the universe in "real space." (Yes, incidentally, the universe really is plenty large enough for this to be actually possible). Thus, a Trans-Galactic "Empire," even while travel to even the nearest stars remains effectively impracticable.

Bruce Fein, anti-NeoCon conservative

Bruce Fein, the conservative but anti-NeoCon constitutional lawyer and Ron Paul adviser, was interviewed last Wednesday on Ian Masters's Background Briefing. (Ianmasters.com).

I obviously totally disagree with Fein and Paul on domestic policy issues, but Fein in particular makes a dead-on and totally rational argument against the perpetuation of the Military/Congressional/National Security/Industrial Complex and any continued funding of the American Imperial Enterprise.  Fein is entirely consistent, but I believe foreign policy and whether domestic public investment and tax increases are necessary or not are completely separate issues, and it's possible, as I do, to completely disagree with these Conservative Libertarians on those issues, while completely agreeing with them (as I do) on foreign policy, and the necessity of dismantling the American Empire, in particular.

I also completely agree with Fein's views on the terrible danger to our republic posed by the National Security state and the erosion of constitutional guarantees under both the Bush and Obama administrations. 

Sachs: Fairness and the Occupy Movement

Jeffrey Sachs, author of The Price of Civilization, is a visionary who deserves to be listened to. See his Fairness and the Occupy Movement (update) from today's Huffington Post

23 November 2011

My bright idea: micro-commerce on the internet

I am surprised someone hasn't invented (or implemented) a micro-commerce system for the internet, whereby a publication, for example, could sell a one-time view-only, no-download access to a backlist article or story for 5 cts. or something like that. You'd enroll an account, or put money in one, and by entering a password or PIN (or setting up your computer as 1-click, a la Amazon), you'd authorize the micro-charge. Surely this technology exists. Downloadable could cost more, say 50 cts. Free internet is wonderful, but small-cost access to the vast world of privately held backlogged information would be preferable to what we often have nowadays, which is no access. I suspect the reason something like this doesn't already exist is greed: people want to make unreasonable amounts of money from transactions. If the actual cost per transaction is, say 0.02 cts. (which I think is probably about what it would be), the commerce service provider could take a cut of 2 cts. out of 5 cts., giving the backlogged info owner 3 cts., and everybody gets something, at a low, sustainable cost to the consumer. Since this would be commerce that, for economic reasons, currently does not exist, it would be positive for everyone. I just have to believe that with 50 million+ transactions a day (not hard to imagine), there wouldn't be enough money in such a system to make it commercially viable. Something like this could conceivably save newspapers, too... you'd have to pay just a few cents to read an article, but you could set up your computer so that incurring the tiny charges involved would be relatively seamless and take only a fraction of a second.

22 November 2011

Peaceful Civil Disobedience does not justify Police Assault

Monumental fatuous idiots Megyn Kelly and Bill O'Reilly discussing on Fox Propaganda Channel the police assault on immobile protesters at UC Davis agreed that it was "no big deal," and that pepper spray is a "food product". (This).

I have really had it with these Rightists who tout America and the Constitution when they neither know anything about it nor believe in its principles.

Earth to Kelly: police may, according to long standing interpretations of the First Amendment, enforce certain time and place restrictions on the exercise of assembly rights, with good cause and due notice. That could mean, for example, that protesters engaging in "Sit-Down" demonstrations (a form of nonviolent Civil Disobedience), could be arrested and physically removed, under certain circumstances. But if they are immobile, the only acceptable use of force is... "with reasonable care" bodily removal and arrest. The use of clubs, sound cannons, or assault chemicals such as tear gas and pepper spray, on people who are merely refusing to move, is assault and police riot, and should be prosecuted as such. Anyone watching the campus cop spraying massive amounts of pepper spray on completely immobile protesters as if they were weeds who wasn't revolted by that illegal use of police weaponry, has no grasp of what it really means to be an American. If our society blithely tolerates such conduct, we are a long, long way down the road to a republic lost.

21 November 2011

Sachs: The SuperCommittee's Big Lie

Jeffrey Sachs's piece in the Huffington Post today is an absolute dead-bang must-read

Yes, it's the economy, stupid, but Michael Moran's missing the bigger picture

From the headline, this piece in Salon, It's the Politics, Stupid, sounds like it's got it right, by presenting the thesis that the real cause of America's now much talked about decline is political, more than it is economic.

But when you get into the author's specific analysis, I find it much wanting. Yes, he's right that our political system is gravely dysfunctional, and is making it virtually impossible to do what's necessary to fix our economy. But the solution is not technocracy, or more unconstitutional government by commissions and czars. It's the restoration of democracy.

I've talked about this ad nauseam, but it's worth laying out the fundamental progressive position, in a few sentences, one more time:

Michael Moran is right that America's most serious problems are political, not economic. But the solutions have more to do with restoration of the American republican form of government to its intended functions than with specific technocratic policies.

We need to amend the Constitution, as now, in the wake of
Citizens United v. FEC, appears to be necessary, to take the power of money out of politics, by making it impossible for special interests to buy and sell elections. We need to alter course and enshrine as a principle that Corporations are not people with constitutional rights, but public trusts; and that money is not speech. The unlimited use of money to corrupt politics should be a crime, and certainly is not a right.

We need to restore fairness in taxation, so that the rich pay more, and we need to regulate and control the unwarranted power of financial speculators in our political system.

We need to ensure that our representatives are citizens, not professional oligarchs beholden to the elite that sustains them, and that they are elected to represent the interests of the people, their legitimate constituency, not corporate and financial oligarchic elites. Limiting private political contributions, ending corporate contributions, restricting consecutive terms, and ending gerrymandering might be four of the things that would move us well along in this direction.

If we could accomplish this transformation, I am enough of a believer in the power of democracy with a small-d to believe that the actual technocratic solutions will take care of themselves. There are plenty of good ideas out there for how to invest public resources to create jobs and ensure America's future in energy, industry, and sustainable development. There are plenty of ways to ensure that the common good is the goal of government. Most importantly, there is plenty of wealth in this economy to ensure decent economic development and a social safety net that would be the envy of most of the world, and on a par with the best that privileged highly developed nations like Germany, Sweden, and Japan have to offer their citizens. But until we the people, either through the Occupy Movement, or through a succession of public demands, demand control of our government back from the oligarchy that now owns it lock, stock and barrel, our republic will remain dysfunctional, and its economic decline, including gross income disparity and increasing poverty, will be merely a symptom of that disease.

18 November 2011

Report of Crimes Connected to Occupy L.A. part of a coordinated effort to discredit Occupy Movement

See this from the L.A. Times. I would stake a tidy sum that this is a media plant by governmental forces trying to justify an illegal crackdown, which is rumored among Occupy L.A. protesters to be set for this coming Tuesday.

What is REALLY disturbing, if true, is the indication from Oakland Mayor Quan, who let slip that mayors around the country, with coordination by and with the Obama Justice Department, are coordinating tactics to fight against this populist uprising.


17 November 2011

Prop 8 proponents should have standing to argue, Cal. Supreme says

The L.A. Times reports on the Cal. Supreme Court decision today, advising the 9th Circuit that the proponents of California's odious Prop. 8 gay marriage ban should have standing to appeal the District Court decision finding the measure unconstitutional.

I do not regard this as a major setback, although of course the case would have crumbled (as would Prop. 8) had the decision gone the other way. In fact, Rightists generally have argued the other way on these standing issues, and the Cal. Supreme Court, if anything, is reinforcing a precedent that citizens (such as groups like the ACLU) can act to either defend or challenge laws even when there is no specific, already manifest plaintiff damages to found the case upon. This decision is a bit arcane for the average citizen to follow, but overall I don't see it as a reason to be concerned. Where the Prop. 8 decision may face a genuine struggle is if, or when, it goes before the U. S. Supreme Court, with its unprincipled gang of 4... sometimes 5... who vote Rightist ideology over legal principle every time.

No on bad Supercommittee Deal • No on SOPA

I sent 2 messages to my Congressman today. The first was simple: No on the blatant attempt to undermine net neutrality and address a problem (piracy) that requires a pocket screwdriver with a Howitzer. I refer to "SOPA," the so-called "Stop Online Piracy Act." VOTE NO.

The other one was as follows:

Virtually any deal that may come out of compromise with the Rightist members of the (unconstitutional) "SuperCommittee" is guaranteed to be BAD for the majority of Americans.
  • No deal that doesn't increase taxes on the very Rich.
  • No deal that makes cuts to Social Security, MediCal or Medicare.
  • No extension of the Bush Tax Cuts.
  • No deal that doesn't cut military spending substantially.

Since there will be no such deal, VOTE NO. The automatic cuts, which can be modified or repealed later, are far preferable.


Thank you.

Herman Cain: pathetic monomaniac

OK, it's official. (See this.) There can be no further doubt that Herman Cain is a monomaniac, and that the subject of his monomania is his own tremendously, and pathetically, bloated self-image. The fact that this figure remains, despite all, a darling of a certain segment of the right-wing fringe that controls the Republican Party, says a great deal about them.

15 November 2011

Some proposed reforms to take money and its influence out of politics

After the shocking revelation on CBS' 60 Minutes that members of Congress are exempt from insider trading laws, and that some of the worst scoundrels in that body are in fact guilty of wretched behavior that would otherwise land them in jail for a long time, I have a few simple proposals:

1.  All members of Congress and Senators must put their assets into blind trust upon assuming office; for those in need of it, the Congressional administrative offices will provide that service.

2.  (While we're at it); House and Senate members may serve only one term, then must stand down; with a maximum of 2 terms in the Senate or 4 in the House in a lifetime. (Eliminates entrenched incumbency bias).

3.  After the dreadful holdings of Citizens United v. FEC are nullified, Congress persons will be prohibited from raising private money, or taking any form of private remuneration for any purpose while in office, and shall have only public campaign funds to spend on elections; the same for their challengers.

Might well add a fourth: Congressional representatives and Senators, upon leaving office, shall be prohibited from all lobbying activity permanently or from taking any form of remuneration or compensation for any actions taken while in office. This would be tricky to enforce, but the standard should be there. As it should be for all Congressional and Executive branch staffers and for retired military personnel.

Also, Congressional pensions should be prorated; there is no reason someone who serves a few years should receive a glorious income for life.

Penn State Scandal

I am not a prude, and I sometimes wonder if our over-sexualized culture doesn't make too big a deal about sex in general, and sex involving teenagers in particular. Having said that, this interview reveals that this Jerry Sandusky guy is a World Class Creep and very likely a sexual predator who does indeed belong behind bars for life; and people who knew what he was up to and did nothing to protect the victims, who apparently were mostly pre-teen, deserve what they've got coming to them.

Hell No -- We Won't Go‼

The Occupy Movement needs to be recognized as a fundamental exercise of peaceable assembly rights, with some degree of peaceable civil disobedience admixed.

Thus, while the polities may have an arguable right to maintain restrictions against, for example, camping and tents, and those who want to defy these restrictions will have to accept that they do so at risk of arrest, it can also be said that in recognition of the importance of the right to petition for the redress of grievances, city governments should be as flexible as possible.

But having said that, when it comes to people refusing to leave, the police clearly have no right to mace and molest peaceable protesters, or, indeed, to forcibly remove them. The 1st Amendment is quite clear about an unqualified right of assembly and petition of grievance.

Congress shall make no law... abridging... the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances. 

The word is abridging, not prohibiting. Macing people who refuse to break up an assembly is abridging. It is the mayor and the police who are violating the law of the land here, not the OSW protesters.

(I trust I need not belabor the post Civil War constitutional changes that apply the First Amendment's strictures to all levels of government).

07 November 2011

Herman Cain

There is a great deal of ruckus today about one of Herman Cain's accusers coming forward, etc. etc., blah blah. Don't get me wrong, I am not minimizing the importance of sexual harassment or even implicitly condoning what was in all likelihood at minimum (unsurprisingly) boorish behavior on the part of this profoundly stupid man. But what strikes me is that it's this scandal which is likely to unhinge his candidacy, when there are at least two other reasons it should have already spun entirely apart:

1.  The man is an idiot. His comments about "Ubekka bekka stan stan" make George W. Bush look like the statesman of the century. Examples of the man's profound incapacity to hold national office abound.

2.  As documented by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Alternet.org (Adele Stan), Cain was undoubtedly a knowing recipient of campaign material assistance illegally funneled from a 501(c)(3) organization (charity; the same category as a church) created and managed by his campaign manager, Block (aka Cigarette-Smoking-Man).

It would seem to me blatantly obvious lack of qualification and strong evidence of conspiracy to commit tax evasion would trump some fifteen year old civil matter involving unproven, however plausible, allegations of personal misconduct.

03 November 2011

Government by SuperCommittee ... NG

Two very quick points.
1.    I deplore, detest, despise, and believe unconstitutional un-elected "supercommittees" and other such undemocratic means of avoiding the job of doing the people's business as the Constitution intended.
2.    I actually hope the so-called SuperCommittee deadlocks and fails to reach any kind of "deal." "Deals" with the Rightist party have been disastrous for our country. Forced cuts, while stupid and counterproductive, would at least fall on the military budget to some extent. (Better to just repeal the stupid deal after we take back the House and make gains in the Senate, which if the idiot Democrats and the president could get their act together and get BEHIND the We are the 99% movement, they could easily do).

UPDATE (11/7):
I see where Chuck Schumer is predicting "supercommittee failure." Good. I hope he's right.