Bob Higgins

Republican Science: “Make Pi 3 and Round Planck’s Constant To 7 × 10-34 m2 kg / s”

Posted in Humor, News, Politics by Bob Higgins on March 26, 2011
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Rounding pi is close enough.

Max Planck: "Runden die Sache ab?"

Ian Squires has a nice piece of satire up and running at Huffington Post, titled “Conservative Pie: Republicans Introduce Legislation Redefining Pi as Exactly 3.”

Satire can be problematic when posted on the web, due,  I suppose, to the rising gullibility level of the reading public or the willingness by many to latch on to the faintest wisps of conspiracy wafting on the breeze.

Writers on the web often label their work as “satire” or “humor” or “just kidding,” and when they do I usually find their stuff to be lame and generally ineffective. Good satire and humor draws you in, sets the hook and yanks you into the boat laughing. Advance written warnings and disclaimers serve only to scare the fish away.

Squire caught his limit this morning.

Some of the best satirical comedy of our time is being generated unintentionally by republican politician­s and their tea party brethren and…  sistere­n.

Part of the beauty of his piece is that the right has worked so hard presenting nincompoop propositio­ns for public consumptio­n that as absurd as the idea of legislatin­g the value of π may be, when told that it emanates from a republican source it takes on a certain verisimili­tude.

If the scientific community is largely in agreement that anthropoge­nic climate change is at work and a real threat to our future, the view of the right, driven by those who find such an idea financiall­y inconvenie­nt, is to kill the concept with legislatio­n, defunding, false advertisin­g and positively Galilean smear campaigns.

If Boyle’s law, or Planck’s constant or the Pythagorea­n theorem is going to cost the Koch brothers some dough then it’s time to spread some money to introduce legislatio­n against such subversive and expensive ideas.

If you need Fred Flintstone riding a brachiosau­rus to square your belief in a six thousand year old universe with the fossil record, just make the claim and build a megamillio­n dollar museum. Present it as fact, the republican hoi polloi will pay admission.

A large part of the republican base will believe nearly anything, if it is presented as “common sense,” anti intellectu­al and based on conservati­ve values.

It matters not that your moon rockets are now landing in Louisville­, that was probably part of god’s plan anyway.

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Corporate Personhood versus Democracy

[Editor’s note: The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United was the worst decision by the court since those of Dred Scott v. Sandford and Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, the latter of which establishe­d the ridiculous idea of corporate person-hoo­d in US law.  The origins of corporate person-hood are explored in the excellent essay linked below from William Myers.  Bob Higgins]

The Santa Clara Blues: Corporate Personhood versus Democracy

By William Meyers

What Corporate Personhood Is

Corporate Personhood is a legal fiction. The choice of the word “person” arises from the way the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was worded and from earlier legal usage of the word person. A corporation is an artificial entity, created by the granting of a charter by a government that grants such charters. Corporation in this essay will be confined to businesses run for profit that have been granted corporate charters by the States of the United States. The Federal Government of the United States usually does not grant corporate charters to businesses (exceptions include the Post Office and Amtrak).

Corporations are artificial entities owned by stockholders, who may be humans or other corporations. They are required by law to have officers and a board of directors (in small corporations these may all be the same people). In effect the corporation is a collective of individuals with a special legal status and privileges not given to ordinary unincorporated businesses or groups of individuals.

Obviously a corporation is itself no more a person (though it is owned and staffed by persons) than a locomotive or a mob. So why, in the USA, is a corporation considered to be a person under law?

Corporate personhood is the idea (legal fiction, currently with force of law) that corporations have inalienable rights (sometimes called constitutional rights) just like real, natural, human persons.

That this idea has the force of law both resulted from the power and wealth of the class of people who owned corporations, and resulted in their even greater power and wealth. Corporate constitutional rights effectively invert the relationship between the government and the corporations. Recognized as persons, corporations lose much of their status as subjects of the government. Although artificial creations of their owners and the governments, as legal persons they have a degree of immunity to government supervision. Endowed with the court-recognized right to influence both elections and the law-making process, corporations now dominate not just the U. S. economy, but the government itself.

Read more The Santa Clara Blues: Corporate Personhood versus Democracy by William Meyers.

The More You Watch, the Worse You Feel / Marty Kaplan

Victor VasarelyBy Marty Kaplan / Huffington Post

As if the triple whammy of the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster weren’t enough to enthrall and terrify us, the war in Libya is now providing cable news viewers a fresh hell to follow 24/7.

But wait, as they say in the infomercials — there’s more. In Bahrain, Saudi tanks and troops are violently cracking down on pro-democracy activists; in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is moving toward power; in Yemen, security forces, firing from the rooftops, have killed scores of demonstrators; in Syria, troops are shooting into crowds of protesting civilians; and last week’s news from Israel and the Palestinian territories was enough to make anyone rage and wail.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? In Madison, Wisc. and other state capitals, Republicans are demonizing public employees, stripping workers of their rights and using deficits as an excuse to transfer wealth from the middle to the top. In Washington, D.C., every Republican on the environment subcommittee says that climate change is a hoax, and every Republican on the financial institutions subcommittee says banks are the victims, not the perpetrators, of the recession. Who has enough spare neurons to cope with that, let alone the defunding of NPR and Planned Parenthood? Do you have some mindshare left for a campaign finance system that’s corrupting both political parties? For the obesity epidemic? For the worst youth unemployment in history?

Read more: Marty Kaplan/The More You Watch, the Worse You Feel. (more…)

Saturday Around The Web 3/19/11

Posted in News by Bob Higgins on March 19, 2011

Nuclear Power Reactors In The United States And A Few Words On A Way Out

Posted in Environment, History, Nuclear Power, Politics, Science by Bob Higgins on March 17, 2011
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We continue to throw great piles of money down the bottomless pit of energy subsidies for already obscenely flush corporatio­­ns in the oil, gas and nuclear industries­­; are we insane or just stupid?

Why don’t we take at least half of that, say 25 billion annually and start a crash program for the rapid developmen­­t and installati­­on of renewables like solar, wind, tidal, current, wave and other emerging technologi­­es like biofuels from non food and waste sources.

The Manhattan Project was completed in four years for 2 billion. Adjust that number for today’s dollars and take it back from the energy criminals that we’ve allowed to push us around for so long and make them pay for the technology that will put them out of business.

We simply need to stop making excuses for inaction, fossil fuels are killing us, nuclear is showing itself as enormously expensive and unmanageab­­le and likely to kill us even faster and the whole mess is killing the planet on which we should be relaxing and enjoying this little hayride around the Sun.

A Manhattan Project for making a major portion of the shift to clean renewable fuels could probably get us half way home in 5 to 10 years, perhaps faster.

We lack nothing but the will, something we had in 1942.

Bob Higgins

Related stories:
U.S. Nuclear Power Plants Had 14 ‘Near-Miss’ Problems In 2010: UCS Report (PHOTOS)
Questions about reactors in U.S. resonating louder
How vulnerable are U.S. nuclear plants?

The remaining material on this page is from the NRC website

Boiling Water Reactors

In a typical commercial boiling-water reactor, (1) the core inside the reactor vessel creates heat, (2) a steam-water mixture is produced when very pure water (reactor coolant) moves upward through the core, absorbing heat, (3) the steam-water mixture leaves the top of the core and enters the two stages of moisture separation where water droplets are removed before the steam is allowed to enter the steam line, and (4) the steam line directs the steam to the main turbine, causing it to turn the turbine generator, which produces electricity. The unused steam is exhausted in to the condenser where it condensed into water. The resulting water is pumped out of the condenser with a series of pumps, reheated and pumped back to the reactor vessel. The reactor’s core contains fuel assemblies that are cooled by water circulated using electrically powered pumps. These pumps and other operating systems in the plant receive their power from the electrical grid. If offsite power is lost emergency cooling water is supplied by other pumps, which can be powered by onsite diesel generators. Other safety systems, such as the containment cooling system, also need electric power. Boiling-water reactor’s contain between 370-800 fuel assemblies. See also our animated diagram and pdf file of generic diagrams that detail elements of the boiling-water reactors.

Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) (more…)

Imagining Argentina

Posted in History, Politics by Bob Higgins on March 13, 2011
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Imagining Argentina

Emma Thompson as Cecilia Rueda about to Disappear.

Click on the image to watch this film at HULU

Streetcar Ride Down Market Street San Francisco 1905 (Video)

Posted in History by Bob Higgins on March 12, 2011
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Take a relaxing seven minute ride down Market St toward the Ferry Building in San Francisco in 1905.

Music from: Air- “Moon Safari”