17 December 2019

Discovery of a galaxy so distant we're seeing it as it was less than 1 billion years after the Big Bang

This article doesn't really focus on what I consider the main point. Which is that the morphology of this, the most distant galaxy yet observed, confirms the fact that all galaxies are approximately the same age, and that early on they were very different from later epochs. Which is confirmation of the FACT that the Big Bang is real. It is true that there are problems with all the detailed models of the Big Bang and the inflationary period that resulted in an enormous physical universe beyond even the part of it that's even theoretically observable, but the basic fact that the universe we live in is finite and finite in age is the only plausible hypothesis consistent with the data... including this data. The simple question, how much of the universe lies beyond the horizon where light from there could ever reach us on Earth, is unanswerable. It is pretty clear that it's "most of it," but it could be anywhere from 90% to a power of ten so enormous the mind literally boggles and fails to comprehend. 

Happy Holidays, everyone. 


Nature simply does not care what we believe. 


09 December 2019

The threat to the Rule of Law

I think most people, who get most of their information about public affairs from television and social media, are not really grasping just how serious a threat to the rule of law Trump's outright refusal to cooperate with the Article I branch in investigating him and his administration actually is. If you talk to people with knowledge and interest in Constitutional law, they, almost all of them, feel like their hair is on fire at the complacency with which the Cult of the Republican Party is treating this threat.

But Democratic candidates need to do a much better job of conveying the gravity of this situation to their constituency and potential voters in the upcoming election. One point they should be... and mostly aren't... making is that our economy depends on a fully functioning and impartial system of law and justice. Of course it isn't perfect, far from it, but one of the reasons even China invests in American financial securities, and investors worldwide have hitherto seen the US as a safe haven for investment and as a place to locate businesses and manufacturing, is that they can be confident no oligarch will seize their property, like in Russia, and that if they become involved in a dispute they won't have to bribe someone or play politics to get due process of law and reasonably honest dispute resolution. We devolve into authoritarianism, autarchy, systemic corruption... all the hallmarks of Trump and his administration... and our very economic security, as well as our political liberties and rights, will be severely threatened. Get even a glimmer of awareness of this situation to dawn on some folks who don't usually think much about politics, and Trump's support will start swirling down the toilet even faster, as it should.

05 December 2019

The decision to move forward on impeachment

I share the oft expressed doubt about the wisdom of pressing ahead on impeachment without forcing the WH to cooperate on witnesses and documents, which would probably take until well into the election season. But, in weighing the obvious factors, I find myself agreeing with Josh Marshall, who also has doubts but comes down in favor of getting on with it NOW.


"Medicare for All"

I've come to dislike the meme "Medicare for All" even more than "Single Payer," which was coined by opponents to frame it as something scary. But what we're talking about is NOT Medicare as we know it. It is decent, maybe not absolutely perfect, but decent medical care, including care for catastrophic illnesses, that is truly universal. This is a commitment society must make to its members in order to qualify, at this stage of our development, as truly civilized. Full stop. Simple as that.  

Since nearly every developed country, including South Korea, Taiwan, almost all European countries, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, and even some Latin American countries, come a whole lot closer to this ideal than we do, there is simply no way anyone can convince me that we cannot "afford" this.