Saturday, January 3, 2015

Via Occupy Wall St. / FB:

Via Teabonics / FB:

Via 10 reasons why Ronald Reagan was the worst president of our lifetime

If you ever happen to come across a Republican on television these days, chances are that you will hear the name Ronald Reagan. Recent Republican debates are the perfect example of the love fest that the current Republican party has for Reagan as each candidate name drops the former president at every turn. If you only listened to conservatives you would think that Jesus Christ was the only person above Reagan on the totem pole of conservative love. They talk about his love of low taxes, less government and conservative family values.

Ronald Reagan, a bad apple
The problem is that when you step out of the conservative dream and come back to reality, you find that not only was Ronald Reagan a bad president, but he was one of the worst presidents we've seen in modern times. Reagan's policies have destroyed the United States for three decades, and here are 10 reasons why Ronald Reagan was the worst president of our lifetime.

1. Reagan cut taxes for the Rich, increased taxes on the Middle Class 

2. Tripling the National Debt -

3. Iran/Contra - (I break this down in more detail in the article linked)

4. Reagan funded Terrorists 

5. Unemployment issues -
6. Ignoring AIDS -
7. Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million Undocumented Immigrants -
8. His attack on Unions and the Middle Class -
9. Reagan raided the Social Security Trust fund 

10. Endless worship and never-ending prais


Via Salon: God is on the ropes: The brilliant new science that has creationists and the Christian right terrified

A young MIT professor is finishing Darwin's task — and threatening to undo everything the wacky right holds dear

God is on the ropes: The brilliant new science that has creationists and the Christian right terrified
Charles Darwin (Credit: Wikimedia/WDG Photo via Shutterstock/Salon)

The Christian right’s obsessive hatred of Darwin is a wonder to behold, but it could someday be rivaled by the hatred of someone you’ve probably never even heard of. Darwin earned their hatred because he explained the evolution of life in a way that doesn’t require the hand of God. Darwin didn’t exclude God, of course, though many creationists seem incapable of grasping this point. But he didn’t require God, either, and that was enough to drive some people mad.

Darwin also didn’t have anything to say about how life got started in the first place — which still leaves a mighty big role for God to play, for those who are so inclined. But that could be about to change, and things could get a whole lot worse for creationists because of Jeremy England, a young MIT professor who’s proposed a theory, based in thermodynamics, showing that the emergence of life was not accidental, but necessary. “[U]nder certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life,” he was quoted as saying in an article in Quanta magazine early in 2014, that’s since been republished by Scientific American and, more recently, by Business Insider. In essence, he’s saying, life itself evolved out of simpler non-living systems.

The notion of an evolutionary process broader than life itself is not entirely new. Indeed, there’s evidence, recounted by Eric Havelock in “The Liberal Temper in Greek Politics,” that it was held by the pre-Socratic natural philosophers, who also first gave us the concept of the atom, among many other things. But unlike them or other earlier precursors, England has a specific, unifying, testable evolutionary mechanism in mind.

Quanta fleshed things out a bit more like this:
From the standpoint of physics, there is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms: The former tend to be much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat. Jeremy England, a 31-year-old assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has derived a mathematical formula that he believes explains this capacity. The formula, based on established physics, indicates that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.
It doesn’t mean we should expect life everywhere in the universe — lack of a decent atmosphere or being too far from the sun still makes most of our solar system inhospitable for life with or without England’s perspective. But it does mean that “under certain conditions” where life is possible — as it is here on Earth, obviously — it is also quite probable, if not, ultimately, inevitable
Indeed, life on Earth could well have developed multiple times independently of each other, or all at once, or both. The first truly living organism could have had hundreds, perhaps thousands of siblings, all born not from a single physical parent, but from a physical system, literally pregnant with the possibility of producing life. And similar multiple births of life could have happened repeatedly at different points in time.

That also means that Earth-like planets circling other suns would have a much higher likelihood of carrying life as well. We’re fortunate to have substantial oceans as well as an atmosphere — the heat baths referred to above — but England’s theory suggests we could get life with just one of them — and even with much smaller versions, given enough time. Giordano Bruno, who was burnt at the stake for heresy in 1600, was perhaps the first to take Copernicanism to its logical extension, speculating that stars were other suns, circled by other worlds, populated by beings like ourselves. His extreme minority view in his own time now looks better than ever, thanks to England.

If England’s theory works out, it will obviously be an epochal scientific advance. But on a lighter note, it will also be a fitting rebuke to pseudo-scientific creationists, who have long mistakenly claimed that thermodynamics disproves evolution (here, for example), the exact opposite of what England’s work is designed to show — that thermodynamics drives evolution, starting even before life itself first appears, with a physics-based logic that applies equally to living and non-living matter.

Most important in this regard is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that in any closed process, there is an increase in the total entropy (roughly speaking, a measure of disorder). The increase in disorder is the opposite of increasing order due to evolution, the creationists reason, ergo — a contradiction! Overlooking the crucial word “closed,” of course. There are various equivalent ways of stating the law, one of which is that energy cannot pass from a cooler to a warmer body without extra work being done. Legendary science and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov put it like this: “You can’t win. You can’t break even. You can’t get out of the game.” Although creationists have long mistakenly believed that evolution is a violation of the Second Law, actual scientists have not. For example, physicist Stephen G. Brush, writing for The American Physical Society in 2000, in “Creationism Versus Physical Science,” noted: “As Ludwig Boltzmann noted more than a century ago, thermodynamics correctly interpreted does not just allow Darwinian evolution, it favors it.”

A simple explanation of this comes from a document in the thermodynamics FAQ subsection of TalkOrigins Archive (the  first and foremost online repository of reliable information on the creation/evolution controversy), which in part explains:
Creationists thus misinterpret the 2nd law to say that things invariably progress from order to disorder.
However, they neglect the fact that life is not a closed system. The sun provides more than enough energy to drive things. If a mature tomato plant can have more usable energy than the seed it grew from, why should anyone expect that the next generation of tomatoes can’t have more usable energy still?
That passage goes right to the heart of the matter. Evolution is no more a violation of the Second Law than life itself is. A more extensive, lighthearted, non-technical treatment of the creationist’s misunderstanding and what’s really going on can be found here.

The driving flow of energy — whether from the sun or some other source — can give rise to what are known as dissipative structures, which are self-organized by the process of dissipating the energy that flows through them. Russian-born Belgian physical chemist Ilya Prigogine won the 1977 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work developing the concept. All living things are dissipative structures, as are many non-living things as well — cyclones, hurricanes and tornados, for example. Without explicitly using the term “dissipative structures,” the passage above went on to invoke them thus:
Snowflakes, sand dunes, tornadoes, stalactites, graded river beds, and lightning are just a few examples of order coming from disorder in nature; none require an intelligent program to achieve that order. In any nontrivial system with lots of energy flowing through it, you are almost certain to find order arising somewhere in the system. If order from disorder is supposed to violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics, why is it ubiquitous in nature?
In a very real sense, Prigogine’s work laid the foundations for what England is doing today, which is why it might be overstated to credit England with originating this theory, as several commentators at Quanta pointed out, noting other progenitors as well (here, here and here, among others). But already England appears to have assembled a collection of analytical tools, along with a sophisticated multidisciplinary theoretical approach, which promises to do much more than simply propound a theory, but to generate a whole new research agenda giving detailed meaning to that theoretical conjecture. And that research agenda is already starting to produce results. (See his research group home page for more.) It’s the development of this sort of detailed body of specific mutually interrelated results that will distinguish England’s articulation of his theory from other earlier formulations that have not yet been translated into successful theory-testing research agendas.
Above all, as described on the home page mentioned above, England is involved in knitting together the understanding of life and various stages of life-like processes combining the perspectives of biology and physics:
Living things are good at collecting information about their surroundings, and at putting that information to use through the ways they interact with their environment so as to survive and replicate themselves. Thus, talking about biology inevitably leads to talking about decision, purpose, and function.
At the same time, living things are also made of atoms that, in and of themselves, have no particular function. Rather, molecules and the atoms from which they are built exhibit well-defined physical properties having to do with how they bounce off of, stick to, and combine with each other across space and over time.
Making sense of life at the molecular level is all about building a bridge between these two different ways of looking at the world.
If that sounds intriguing, you might enjoy this hour-long presentation of his work (with splashes of local Swedish color) — especially (but not only) if you’re a science nerd.

Whether or not England’s theory proves out in the end, he’s already doing quite a lot to build that bridge between worldviews and inspire others to make similar efforts. Science is not just about making new discoveries, but about seeing the world in new ways — which then makes new discoveries almost inevitable. And England has already succeeded in that.  As the Quanta article explained:
England’s theoretical results are generally considered valid. It is his interpretation — that his formula represents the driving force behind a class of phenomena in nature that includes life — that remains unproven. But already, there are ideas about how to test that interpretation in the lab.
“He’s trying something radically different,” said Mara Prentiss, a professor of physics at Harvard who is contemplating such an experiment after learning about England’s work. “As an organizing lens, I think he has a fabulous idea. Right or wrong, it’s going to be very much worth the investigation.”
Creationists often cast themselves as humble servants of God, and paint scientists as arrogant, know-it-all rebels against him. But, unsurprisingly, they’ve got it all backwards, once again. England’s work reminds us that it’s scientists’ willingness to admit our own ignorance and confront it head on — rather than papering over it — that unlocks the great storehouse of wonders we live in and gives us our most challenging, satisfying quests.

Paul Rosenberg is a California-based writer/activist, senior editor for Random Lengths News, and a columnist for Al Jazeera English. Follow him on Twitter at @PaulHRosenberg.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Via JMG: Ted Cruz: Horse's Ass Of 2014

Via Right Wing Watch:

Congratulations to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has won this year’s Equine Posterior Achievement Award, People For the American Way’s annual prize for the country's most extreme right-wing politician. Cruz won by a 21-point margin in a poll of PFAW members and Right Wing Watch readers, repeating his 2013 victory, when he beat out the likes of Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin for the coveted award. The Texas Board of Education came in second place this year, emerging as a serious contender as a result of another round of historical revisionism, denial of climate change science and flirtation with Creationism.

Cruz ended the year by embarrassing himself when he pulled a stunt that backfired badly. The Texas senator and Tea Party darling hoped to humiliate President Obama and congressional leaders by challenging a bipartisan budget bill as a way to show his anger with the president’s recent executive actions on immigration.Instead, Cruz’s maneuver was easily defeated, but it did give Senate Democrats the opportunity to put several judicial and executive nominees up for a vote before Republicans took control of the chamber, delighting Democrats while fomenting anger amongst Cruz’s fellow Republicans.

Reposted from Joe Jervis  

Via Guideposts / FB:

Via Rmuse: In 2014 America Abandoned Its Constitution And Devolved Into a Fascist Theocracy


It is usual at the end of another calendar year to look hopefully at the New Year, but at this point, and judging by the events of 2014, there is very little to look forward to in America in 2015. In fact, it is getting extremely difficult to look ahead at the coming year with anything other than dread and despair as America devolves into a theocratic, racist, and fascist police state that the government cannot, and apparently will not, even attempt to stop. It is not that 2014 was devoid of good news; quite the contrary.  But no amount of jobs, Wall Street profits, economic growth, or falling gas prices can counterbalance the distress Republicans, racists, and religious Supreme Court justices have wrought on this sad nation with no end, or hope, in sight.

First, it is noteworthy that the only good developments of 2014 were at the hands of President Obama and his executive actions; particularly acting on the existential issue of “global” climate change and his landmark agreement with China. The President’s action on immigration enforcement was long overdue, but in his defense he did wait patiently for House Republicans to adopt, or at least consider, the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill to no avail. What his action did was reveal why 2015, like the past six years, will be depressing for Americans who will watch a Republican-controlled Congress waste taxpayer time and money in a crusade to undo a valid executive order the GOP has deemed unconstitutional; despite the conservative Roberts Court already ruled the President was well within his constitutional authority like every Republican president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. But that is the price Americans have to pay for living in a nation with a party so steeped in racial animus for a  Black President that they have deemed his entire Presidency is unconstitutional.

Maybe more than anything, seeing the U.S. Constitution treated like an afterthought, if not a worthless comic book, by conservatives, evangelicals, law enforcement, Republicans, and the Supreme Court is all the proof a reasonable human being needs to realize America is doomed. Republicans claim anything President Obama does in unconstitutional at the same time they attempted to pass legislation authorizing approval to build a foreign corporation’s tar sand pipeline across America. That decision is the exclusive right of the Executive Department and yet, one of the first actions a Republican Congress will undertake to repay their Koch debt will be patently unconstitutional and no-one will dare utter a complaint any more than they will over the Republican drive to enforce Vatican rules banning all forms of birth control with personhood legislation; more on that in another article.

Republicans in state after state were hastily passing legislation abolishing other Americans’ 14th Amendment rights due to their adherence to bastardized American Christianity and empowerment by the Vatican contingent on the Supreme Court. History will show that it was in 2014 that 5 conservative Catholics on the Highest Court in the land deconstructed the religious clauses in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution to expedite evangelical Christians and the United States Council of Catholic Bishops’ ascendance to wield ironclad authority over the religious freedom of the rest of the population. Through it all, not one politician had the courage or conviction to inform the American people that every dirty attempt to deny women the right to make their own health choices, or gays to marry the person they love, was founded in an archaic religious text because they were, and still are, terrified of committing the mortal sin of speaking out against or opposing theocracy. Speaking of mortal sins, the past six months have revealed that there is no greater sin than speaking out against out-of-control and murderous law enforcement officials doing their due diligence to eviscerate the Constitutional protections afforded all Americans.

If racist police officers were not gunning down unarmed African Americans with impunity  ending their Constitutional right to life with approval of the judicial system, they were threatening Americans opposed to fascist police tactics complete with battlefield gear. Instead of supporting and defending the U.S. Constitution, they took great pleasure in denying Americans their First Amendment rights of free speech and free assembly. All, by the way, with approval and support of Republicans and conservatives as blatantly racist as the police abusing African Americans whether civilians or fellow police officers.  Law enforcement was also complicit in aiding and abetting, through direct support, a seditious  white man and his well-armed Oath Keeper, Constitutional Sheriffs and Police Officers Association (CSPOA) militia intent on initiating a second revolution; with impunity and ardent support of conservative media and Republicans with no more regard for the Constitution as they do African Americans, poor people, elderly Americans, Veterans, or children.
America may have been an exceptional nation at one time, but the country began its downward spiral thirty years ago when Republicans and conservatives decided, and convinced many Americans, their mortal enemy was the federal government; a federal government created by the U.S. Constitution. Now, that very Constitution has all but been rendered null-and-void either by government fear of opposing sedition, or an all-powerful evangelical movement with avid support of the conservative Catholics on the Supreme Court.

Throughout history, other peoples have sat idly by and watched their freedoms eroded, and finally abolished, by fascist religious, corporate, and military-style enforcers, and America is rapidly heading in the same direction with the same results. One would like to say this country is at a crossroads, or nearing a tipping point, of which there is no return, but according to what this nation has suffered throughout 2014 at the hands of fascist police, armed militias, evangelical fanatics, and a theocratic Supreme Court, the scales are tipped. America is on the same course as 1930s Nazi Germany and the Koch brothers are more than happy to fund this country into oblivion. If 2014 is any indication, 2015 is not going to be a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Via Daily Kos: That FL CEO Who Said He'd FIRE Everyone if Obama Elected? Guess What Happened...

Naturally, Obama was to blame for this.  As you may recall during the peak of the presidential campaign, Mr. Siegel penned a letter threatening to fire all his employees and close down his Orlando-based company, Westgate, if Obama was elected.  A snippet from the full letter:

So where am I going with all this? It's quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.

So, when you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, which candidate understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn't? Whose policies will endanger your job? Answer those questions and you should know who might be the one capable of protecting and saving your job. While the media wants to tell you to believe the "1 percenters" are bad, I'm telling you they are not. They create most of the jobs. If you lose your job, it won't be at the hands of the "1%"; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country.
You see, I can no longer support a system that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities. If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired, and with no employees to worry about.
Signed, your boss

Yeah, that happened.   
 This wasn't the first time either. In 2000, Siegel did something just as slimy.  He put negative articles about Gore in every paycheck, and also forced his managers to conduct an inappropriate survey on who was voting for Bush and Gore.  Those that said Bush were "required" to register to vote.  Ironic, considering how Bush's economy almost put him out of business.

Fortunately for everyone, this time, his despicable letter threatening to fire everyone backfired.  Obama won Florida handily. The press mocked Siegel.  We all expected this time-share sleazeball to retire and close his company.  But then a funny thing happened...
Instead of his company being dragged down by the evil black man in the Oval Office, his company started flourishing again.  The Obama recovery saw companies make record profits, and Siegel's was no exception.  Today, Westgate is doing better than ever.  Under Obama, we also have had the best stock market in history, so investors like Siegel made out like bandits.  (Obama=worst socialist ever).  

Instead of firing, Siegel has had to hire more people.  Since his employees were finally able to get reasonably-priced health insurance, he was free to invest his money in all kinds of things. 

 He bought the Orlando Predators.  He also bought a massive hotel/casino in Las Vegas.  Saints be praised, he was even able to finally start work again on his gaudy, 90,000 square foot house complete with a bowling alley, a 30-car garage, and a roller-skating rink.

  • Turns out that he never had any intention to flee to the Caribbean.  
  • Turns out Obama has been great for him.  
  • Turns out he was just another rich, entitled a$$hole.

Via Daily Kos / FB:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Via JMG: US Census: Population Is 320M

Via Reuters:
The U.S. population is seen at 320.09 million people as of Jan. 1, up 0.73 percent from a year earlier, the Census Bureau said on Monday. The Census Bureau said in a statement that the figure represents an increase of about 11.35 million people, or 3.67 percent, since the last population count on April 1, 2010. "In January 2015, the U.S. is expected to experience a birth every eight seconds and one death every 12 seconds. Meanwhile, net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 33 seconds," the Census Bureau said. It said the combination of births, deaths and net international migration would add at least one person to the U.S. population every 16 seconds.
The Census Bureau estimates the current world population to be 7.2B, an increase of 80M over this time last year. That's about two Californias in the last 12 months.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

An Astronaut's Guide To Optimism

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield became an internet sensation last year when he posted his performance of David Bowie's Space Oddity from the International Space Station. Today Hadfield posts an optimistic view of the coming year in a clip that appears to have been produced with some help from the Gates Foundation.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via The Hunger Site / FB:

Via Six Reasons We’re Going to Make History in 2015

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: every transformative movement has its moment. And 2015 is ours.
Just look at the signs. The world’s top carbon polluters – the US and China – have already signed a historic agreement to cut emissions. For the first time ever, negotiators from 196 countries all committed to addressing climate change at the recent Conference of the Parties meeting in Lima. And while the resulting agreement is far from perfect, it’s an essential first step toward a more ambitious deal in Paris next December. Meanwhile, outside the negotiating halls, clean energy technologies that can replace oil, coal, and gas and cut carbon pollution keep getting cheaper and growing in use. The list goes on and on.

What do all these things mean for the climate movement? Imagine an orchestra preparing to perform one of the great symphonies, say Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. The musicians have been rehearsing for years and now are on stage. The strings are tightening their bows. The winds are warming up. The tubas and French horns have finally made it and are gently tooting in the background. The choir is settling into place, and all that’s left is for the conductor to unite all these voices and make something truly majestic happen.

This is where we enter the picture. In 2015, we’re working with activists and partners around the world to connect the people and factors working for progress across continents and create the kind of force that can change the course of history and make something wonderful happen in Paris. Specifically, we’re:

1. Mobilizing when (and where) it matters.

This year, we brought over 120,000 Americans together to support strong limits on carbon pollution from power plants. In 2015, we’ll activate even more to advance and protect the key policies that have made the US a new leader in global climate action.

2. Spreading climate hope.

Through online outreach, Climate Reality Leaders, and the 140,000-plus activists who pledged to dedicate a day to making a difference, we’re ensuring that people around the world hear that the tools we need to stop climate change are right here, right now – and it’s time to use them and win.

3. Driving our political leaders to step up now.

The US-China agreement sent a clear signal to world leaders that if the planet’s two biggest polluters can commit to reducing emissions, they can too. We’re working in key nations to make sure they hear it and build public support for bold steps in Paris.

4. Engaging a new generation of young activists.

Young people today know climate change is shaping their future – and they want to do something about it. We’re reaching out and turning the Me Generation into the We Generation working together for a future we can all be proud of.

5. Training even more messengers.

On the issues that matter, people trust the message when they trust the messenger. So we’re training more of the leaders that communities trust to share the message of #ClimateHope and create widespread demand for climate solutions in over 120 nations.

6. Growing the climate movement.

From farmers to business executives to winter sports athletes, so many communities have a personal interest in a world without climate change, but too few understand what it means for them – or what they can do to stop it. It’s time to change that and we’re speaking directly to diverse groups across the US through the voices they know and in the everyday terms they understand. The result? We’re turning agnostics into activists who are changing the face of the climate movement and already making a real difference. 

Now it’s time to turn up the volume. With the prospect of a historic agreement in Paris just on the horizon, we need your help to train even more messengers, reach even more people across every continent, and together shout even louder so world leaders have to face the music and act.
We’ve been fighting for healthy and sustainable future for years. This is our time to win. Make a contribution to support our work when it truly matters. Plus, when you make a gift by December 31, an anonymous donor will match it dollar-for-dollar, doubling your impact and the difference you make.

Thank you. With your support, 2015 won’t just be a new year for climate action. It’ll be the year.

Via Occupy Democrats / FB:

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