Friday, November 21, 2014

Agnotology: The Surge - 14

A captive, not captivated, audience
Any subtitle for today's post is directed to the U.S. House of Republican Representatives who now function as the House of Reprehensible members.

They seem to think that "bi-Cameral" is a sexual term ("two bi's do it in front of a camera"), thus, they settled on the attorney who handled the polygamy case in Utah (Brown v. Buhman, Sister Wives).

I say that because the Senate is not involved in the lawsuit (House v HEW & Treasury, PDF) as it should be if bicameral legislative agreement was the reality on this issue.

So, the bottom line is that the lawsuit is not a bi-cameral lawsuit, it is unilateral.

Nor is it a lawsuit against President Obama as touted in the McTell News ("House sues Obama");  rather, it is a lawsuit against Secretary Burwell and Secretary Lew as defendants (see link to complaint above, PDF).

It is a unilateral case rather than a bicameral case involving both houses, because the Senate wanted nothing to do with it, and thus the Senate is not a party to the lawsuit.

In that light, some of the Republican House's allegations seem to be a bit hypocritical (no surprise there):
This legislative power may be exercised only through the “single, finely wrought, and exhaustively considered process,” Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417, 439-40 (1998), that is familiar to us all, namely, the passage of identical bills by the House of Representatives and the Senate (bicameralism), followed by delivery to the President for his signature or veto (presentment). U.S. Const. art. I, § 7, cl. 2 (“Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States . . . .”). Beyond the President’s role in the presentment process, the Constitution does not permit the Executive Branch to enact laws, or to amend or repeal duly enacted laws, including by adopting rules or taking other unilateral actions that have such an effect.
(ibid, House Complaint, p. 2, emphasis added). The Republican House leaders forgot that their unilateral action, without the Senate, is not bicameralism, it is unilateralism.

In general, it takes tricameralism to make law (the president must agree to and sign legislation passed by both the Senate and the House before it becomes law).

It only takes bicameralism to pass legislation then put it on the President's desk (legislation is not law just because the House and/or the Senate pass it).

This Republican House-only case is headed for discussion in another chapter of the Agnotology textbooks, especially since the Republican House has ongoing agnotological troubles.

Troubles conceiving a mere three numerals (they also have trouble with "uni-", "bi-", and "tri-").

The previous post in this series is here.

Proof that the public is smarter than the House: [Justice Souter indicates that only two-thirds of Americans do not know that there are three branches in their own government] (@1:27):

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Oil-Qaeda Wins Big - 2

"Take that politicians!"
In the first post of this series we noted how strange the recent midterm election results in the U.S. were.

Especially when those election results are compared to the musical favorites of those various states (Oil-Qaeda Wins Big).

Democracy of various sorts is alive when there is accountability, but it is pronounced brain-dead when accountability becomes extinct.

In the U.S. version of a constitutional-republic that respects one form of democracy, the health of its accountability is diagnosed in substantial part by election integrity.

The story line goes that with this American structure the people hold their politicians accountable via periodic elections:
Accountability is the missing conceptual link in the current debate over how best to advance democracy. Democracy affirms the need to justify decisions made by citizens and their representatives: it is a system that connects the values of the individual with the decisions of the collective. The preferences of citizens revealed by fair elections (representation) or organized and definitive discussion (deliberation) are the starting points of democratic legitimacy.
A clearly defined accountability system is crucial to any system of representative democracy because citizens, through their vote, legitimize or give authority to leaders to act.
(When Accountability Is A Plague, 2, 3). The nation claiming to be a democracy must have election integrity so as to facilitate accountability.

The actual diagnosis of U.S. democracy does not match the official rhetoric and propaganda:
1) Norway,
A graph from the Report (p. 9)
2) Germany,
3) Netherlands,
4) Iceland,
5) Czech Republican,
6) South Korea,
7) Austria,
8) Slovenia,
9) Israel,
10) Cyprus,
11) Lithuania,
12) Australia,
13) Rwanda,
14) Japan,
15) Chile,
16) Italy,
17) Grenada,
18) Malta,
19) Argentina,
20) Georgia,
21) Mongolia,
22) Micronesia,
23) United States,
24) Mexico.
('Electoral Integrity'; c.f. The Electoral Integrity Project). Perhaps that report is a scientific version of the intuition the American people seem to have?

Perhaps their intuition, which their participation or lack thereof indicates, is that to them "that something" called elections stinks:
Turnout of the voting-eligible population was just 36.4 percent, according to the projection from the United States Elections Project, run by Dr. Michael McDonald at the University of Florida. That’s down from the 41 percent that turned out in 2010. You have to go all the way back to 1942 for lower numbers when turnout in that midterm was just 33.9 percent. They had a pretty good excuse back then — many adult-age Americans were preoccupied with fighting in a world war.
(2014 Midterm Election Turnout Lowest in 70 Years). There is a lot of "blame the victim" going on, but that analysis by bullies in McTell News does not change the reality of an increasing lack of election integrity in the U.S. (Election Conspiracy Theory Confirmed?).

Americans know that their democracy has been slowly stolen, and they want their democracy back quickly (A Tale of Coup Cities, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12).

The previous post in this series is here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

On The Origin of Comets

Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko
This has been a big week for exploration of some elements of our solar system.

We landed on a "comet," whatever that is (Comet Landing In Progress).

In this series we will go through the episodes of comet origination and demise.

We will see that we really have no mature clue about when this particular comet came into existence, but let's ponder the hype that is out there:
Philae, the probe that landed on a comet as part of the Rosetta mission, has detected organic molecules in the comet's atmosphere. We don't know exactly what the molecules are yet, but they could hold a key to early life on Earth. Hell, this is a big reason we sent Rosetta all the way to a lonely comet in the first place.
(Rosetta & Company). From that typical detail we learn that a comet is lonely and we don't exactly know what the molecules are but we "know" they are organic:
The distinction between organic and inorganic carbon compounds, while "useful in organizing the vast subject of chemistry ... is somewhat arbitrary."
(Wikipedia, "Organic compound"). Why not look for RNA or DNA on the comet, neither of which are alive (Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 37)?

But are those types of "molecular machines" (RNA / DNA) "organic" too?

The answer to that question is also meaningless, since "organic" now means only that a molecule contains an atom or atoms of carbon:
"organic: noting or pertaining to a class of chemical compounds that formerly comprised only those existing in or derived from plants or animals, but that now includes all other compounds of carbon." (Dictionary)
"An organic compound is any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon." (Wikipedia, Organic Compound)
In other words, carbon has many flavors (e.g. C, C2, C3, C4) and is originally made in the interior of stars, which are neither alive nor biological (they are abiotic).

Like planet evolution, comet evolution is a sub-function of stellar abiotic evolution.

In contrast, biotic evolution in our solar system is relatively recent (Putting A Face On Machine Mutation - 3).

Abiotic evolution is far, far more ancient than biotic evolution is, going back to the two predecessors of our current Sun:
Formation of the carbon atomic nucleus requires a nearly simultaneous triple collision of alpha particles (helium nuclei) within the core of a giant or supergiant star which is known as the triple-alpha process, as the products of further nuclear fusion reactions of helium with hydrogen or another helium nucleus produce lithium-5 and beryllium-8 respectively, both of which are highly unstable and decay almost instantly back into smaller nuclei. This happens in conditions of temperatures over 100 megakelvin and helium concentration that the rapid expansion and cooling of the early universe prohibited, and therefore no significant carbon was created during the Big Bang. Instead, the interiors of stars in the horizontal branch transform three helium nuclei into carbon by means of this triple-alpha process. In order to be available for formation of life as we know it, this carbon must then later be scattered into space as dust, in supernova explosions, as part of the material which later forms second, third-generation star systems which have planets accreted from such dust. The Solar System is one such third-generation star system.
This means that our Sun and our Earth have descended from an ancestor star that exploded and emitted a molecular cloud which then condensed to form a second ancestor star that did the same, i.e. formed a molecular cloud that condensed into the Sun and the planets of our solar system.
(On the Origin of the Genes of Viruses - 5). That evolutionary process is not complete yet, because the Sun still has major evolution to go through (On the Origin of the Genes of Viruses - 6).

That is to say that the original abiotic star in our solar system evolved before either carbon or our current Sun did, then that star produced carbon in its interior before going supernova to release the carbon.

The long term history of "comet organics" must take into account the carbon generating abiotic evolution of stars:
"Stellar evolution is the process by which a star undergoes a sequence of
Current phase of the Sun
radical changes during its lifetime. Depending on the mass of the star, this lifetime ranges from only a few million years for the most massive to trillions of years for the least massive, which is considerably longer than the age of the universe ... All stars are born from collapsing clouds of gas and dust, often called nebulae or molecular clouds.
Next Phase of the Sun
Over the course of millions of years, these protostars settle down into a state of equilibrium, becoming what is known as a main-sequence star.

Stellar evolution is not studied by observing the life of a single star, as most
Final Phase of the Sun
stellar changes occur too slowly to be detected, even over many centuries. Instead, astrophysicists come to understand how stars evolve by observing numerous stars at various points in their lifetime, and by simulating stellar structure using computer models
(Wikipedia, "Stellar Evolution"). How that early evolution of our solar system's first star impacted upon the origin of comets is probably not exactly knowable.

Thus, neither is the full story of the recent history and abiotic evolution of comets.

Never-the-less, that history is said to be:
Short-period comets originate in the Kuiper belt or its associated scattered disc, which lie beyond the orbit of Neptune. Longer-period comets are thought to originate in the Oort cloud, a spherical cloud of icy bodies extending from outside the Kuiper Belt to halfway to the next nearest star.
(Wikipedia, "Comet").  When the Kuiper Belt and Oort cloud came into existence depends entirely on what generated them.

Were they generated by The Big Bang, the galactic formation of the Milky Way, or one of the several stars in our solar system's early stellar evolutionary history?

That stellar evolution, which may have generated some or all of our current comets, could refer to the first star, the second star before the current one (the Sun), or to each of them.

The history of what happened depends on the particulars of each ancestor star's individual demise, which could have generated some or all of the Kuiper Belt and/or the Oort cloud when those stars exploded, i.e., when they went supernova.

The bottom line is that finding carbon on a comet near the Sun in the current solar system tells us nothing of that comet's origin, no, it can only tell us some of its history (see also Exploded Planet Hypothesis - 2).

Neither does it tell us about the origin of "early" life or water, it can only tell us some of the history of those concepts in this current solar system.

That is because "origin" and "history" are not the same concept; "origin" is primarily emergence into existence for the first time, while "history" is primarily what happens after that.

Abiotic evolution produces the galaxies, stars, planets, moons, and water, while biotic evolution only produces carbon-based life forms in the water on planets or moons:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Agnotology: The Surge - 13

Denial Divide
In this series we have been observing how ignorance is generated within a society (Agnotology: The Surge, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12).

We have done so by looking at both the corporate as well as the political entities that engender and use various devious machinations to render Americans ignorant of or in denial of scientific facts.

Politically oriented denial in the U.S. government  stands out starkly in the world's governments, because traditionally the U.S. has been oriented toward an acceptance of scientific discoveries, yet, about 97% of Republican politicians now in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives are in denial of what 99% of scientists say about global warming induced climate change:
More than 1,500 wildfires have ravaged California so far in 2014, more than twice the state sees in an average year. On ABC’s This Week, Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, cited scientific research that links the increased number of fires to the state’s changing climate.

Host George Stephanopoulos asked Brown how he’d adapt to the future, given skepticism among Republicans in Washington. Short answer: not easily.

"That's a challenge," Brown said. "It is true that there's virtually no Republican who accepts the science that virtually is unanimous. I mean there is no scientific question. There's just political denial for various reasons, best known to those people who are in denial."
[Research shows that] eight [Republican congress members] out of 278, or about 3 percent [are not deniers ... hence ... 97% of Republican congress members are in denial].
(PolitiFacts, cf. Meet the Congressional Republicans in Denial). This is greatly at odds with the bulk of the world as well as most of the U.S. public (Wikipedia).

The loss of accountability (When Accountability Is A Plague) that results in immediate damage to democratic institutions (witness congress), renders the scenario into one of Big Brother Oil-Qaeda calling the shots (MOMCOM: The Private Parts).

Which means that we are rushing headlong into a catastrophe of epic proportions against the will of the people of the U.S. and of the world at large.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

H/T to Tom ...