History, Science and Biography

 
 

Gravity as a thought experiment


17th century science at Isaac Newton’s “laboratory”. An innovative use of a keyhole, don’ t you think?

Isaac Newton, Professor at Trinity College, London, fled London to escape the twin catastrophies of a recurrent Bubonic Plague outbreak and the later “Fire of London”. Both of which occurred during a 2 year period, 1665-66, during which a third of London’s population died.

To occupy himself during his self-imposed “lockdown”, he compiled his reflections on gravity and related physical phenomena, in a classic work entitled: PRINCIPIA, the foundation of modern physics.

Gravity and light were key parts of his research interests and speculations. It was two centuries and a fraction later that Albert Einstein proposed that both light and gravity were “wave” phenomena and that both were “bent” as they moved through space. Light had been observed to bend and break up into primary colors and wavelengths long before, but gravity was, and is, a continuing mystery in many aspects, even to Einstein.

(Update on gravity reflection: Do Mirrors for Gravitational Waves Exist?; https://arxiv.org/abs/0903.0661, a report from Cornell University, U.S.A.)

Suppose, during the Covid 19 imposed lockdown, we could focus on phenomena such as gravity, and engage in thought experiments which sometimes lead to breakthroughs in science and understanding of our world.

Like most of us, I’m afraid that human nature during this 2020 pandemic and related political opportunism and disfunction have clouded our minds to the point that distraction would be helpful.

Here Goes:

Suppose that, instead of the usual energy hogging metal boxes we move ourselves around in, we used gravity to gently lift our metal boxes off the surface just enough to eliminate the need for wheels or tracks.

Many of you will recognize that this describes an already studied method of doing this, known as “magnetic levitation”. However, this technology requires enormous amounts of electrical energy and infrastructure to implement and operate, so seems to have receded into the archive of brilliant but impractical schemes. Battery-electric vehicles and gyroscopic power systems have their own well-known obstacles to overcome, and neither can function without specific infrastructure and abundant fixed energy suppliers.

All that would be needed for gravity fueled levitation is a means, attached to the “metal box, something like car with no wheels or engine” which needed to be moved around, to reflect the energy already existing between the box and the earth–up to now securing the box to the earth–back to the earth such that the box is lifted sufficiently to enable frictionless movement.

Too advanced for its time, the Aerocar was the model for cars 20+ years later, a creation of Germany’s most innovative aviation pioneer

The beauty of harnessing gravity via reflection/deflection is that, exactly as the gravity field between heavy masses and light ones automatically adjusts to whatever the “metal box” earlier mentioned weighs, sufficient spacing to achieve frictionless travel would depend on how it was focussed rather than a need for external power input. Remember Newton’s determination that, absent air resistance, light bodies fall at the same speed as heavy ones.

Of course, any human inside the box would have in mind a destination, rather than some random amusement ride which could turn into something truly terrifying.

Frictionless movement over a level surface could be enabled by nothing more than, say, the cooling fan or turbine used to displace heat from onboard air conditioning for passengers, for example. Of course, some sort of battery or power source would be needed, since vehicle AC compressors typically require 3 to 5 horsepower to operate. Some type of vane or rudder system would be needed to provide directional control as well.

Braking and wind effects on a frictionless land vehicle would be significant engineering challenges once the forward motion systems are sorted out, but if we were able to harness gravity to lift such a vehicle, perhaps we could use the same force to maintain direction despite wind effects and control momentum (braking).

Most urban travel, except for cities like Pittsburg and San Francisco, is typically on fairly level ground. Hills would obviously be a challenge for frictionless vehicles, so summoning up imaginative solutions for that problem would be additional brain teasers.

My speculation on the “ascent” (hill) challenge is to imagine that harnessed gravity to lift “metal boxes” to enable frictionless movement could possibly be finessed to enable ascent of such a frictionless body, since ascent is a similar challenge to gravity with an added horizontal component.

Have you forgotten about pandemics and politics yet?

How about a final word from Professor Newton:

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it underpins all that’s worth knowing, especially science

Categories: History, Science and Biography | Leave a comment
 
 

HOW RUSSIA SAVED THE UNITED STATES (nothing to do with Putin, of course)


“…Who was our friend when the world was our foe?”

Never question Russian resolve. If you’re ever in a fight you’d better hope you’ve got them on your side.

The Imperial Russian fleet in New York harbor, October 1863, Harper’s Weekly

In 1863 the United States was being torn apart by a great Civil War. It would take more American life than any other war before or since; more would die in the Civil War than in the First and Second World Wars combined.

With the issue still in the balance, Britain and France conspired (as great powers do) for political advantage. In their perception, a divided America would strengthen Anglo-French power. But a unified America might one day wield greater power than all of Europe combined. Before the future was taken by the upstart young nation, they would seize the moment and destroy a potential rival.

Paris and London plotted intervention on the side of the Confederacy. They claimed to be moved by purely “humanitarian” motives. Enough blood has been shed, they declared; the wiser, older European powers, masters of civilization, would put an end to the barbaric bloodletting. In fact, claimed motives were cynical and false. Great nations do not go to war out of charitable instinct.

They saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. France could recover territories lost in the Louisiana Purchase. England knew that, without access to the port of New Orleans, the North could not long survive economically. A bankrupt Union might even reverse the outcome of the American Revolution, and England would (at the very least) enlist a new ally in the Confederacy. Both England and France tried to enlist the Russian Empire in their ploy. The Russian reply was unexpected and immediate.

The Czar rejected Anglo-French overtures. A capable and intelligent man, he did not trust the British any more than he did the French. Countering their cynical scheme, Czar Alexander mobilized the formidable Russian Navy. In America’s weakest moment, it came to her aid:

On September 24, 1863, the Russian Baltic fleet began to arrive in New York harbor. On October 12, the Russian Far East fleet began to arrive in San Francisco. …The Russian admirals had been told that, if the US and Russia were to find themselves at war with Britain and France, the Russian ships should place themselves under Lincoln’s command and operate in synergy with the US Navy against the common enemies.

Coming on the heels of the bloody Union reverse at Chickamauga, news of the Russian fleet unleashed an immense wave of euphoria in the North. It was this moment that inspired the verses of Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of the most popular writers in America, for the 1871 friendship visit of the Russian Grand Duke Alexis:

“Bleak are our shores with the blasts of December,
Fettered and chill is the rivulet’s flow;
Thrilling and warm are the hearts that remember,
Who was our friend when the world was our foe.
Fires of the North in eternal communion,
Blend your broad flashes with evening’s bright star;
God bless the Empire that loves the Great Union;
Strength to her people! Long life to the Czar!”

The Russian Brig Merkury in battle (Tkachenko, Mikhail Stepanovich)

When an attack on San Francisco by the Confederate cruiser Shenandoah appeared imminent, the Russian admiral ordered his ships to defend the city, by any means necessary. With no Union warships on the scene, Russia was ready to fight for the vulnerable United States.

Could a divided United States of America have successfully fought the British, and the French, and the Confederacy, and won? It seems unlikely. But for our Russian friends we might not be here to ask the question. Luckily, Lincoln never had to find out. As Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles put it: “…God bless the Russians.”

Kenneth Bourne’s Britain and the Balance of Power in North America, 1815-1908
Jones (The Union in Peril; The Crisis Over British Intervention in the Civil War)

Categories: History, Science and Biography | Leave a comment
 
 

Plagues (or pandemics, a more modern term) with a reflection by Marcus Aurelius. Does he speak to us in 2020?


(Thanks to CLASSICAL WISDOM)

Destruction of empire

Although the Antonine Plague would have little influence over the arts or Roman culture, its social and political effects have left an indelible mark on the pages of history. With it, the plague brought the death knell of the Roman Empire, and would herald in a time of constant upheaval, betrayal, and—some would argue—insanity at the hands of a capricious dictator.
But, perhaps what we should also remember is the effect the plague had on Roman society. Amid the terror and confusion, Romans gave in to believing falsehoods, behaving badly, and acting without true understanding and honour.
Marcus’ thoughts had been plagued by another pestilence, and according to his writings in the Meditations, he was deeply troubled by what he observed. His beloved Rome was descending into chaos, wanton acts, denying fact in favour of fiction, and choosing lies over truth and justice. Perhaps we have something to learn from the following reflection of his,
“Real good luck would be to abandon life without ever encountering dishonesty, or hypocrisy, or self-indulgence, or pride. But the ‘next best voyage’ is to die when you’ve had enough. Or are you determined to lie down with evil? Hasn’t experience even taught you that—to avoid it like the plague? Because it is a plague—a mental cancer—worse than anything caused by tainted air or an unhealthy climate. Disease like that can only threaten your life; this one attacks your humanity.” Meditations, IX.2
    Marcus died in 180 CE, likely of the plague mentioned which started in 165 CE and claimed 2000 Romans a day. Smallpox was the likely cause.
Categories: History, Science and Biography | Leave a comment
 
 

HATE HARVEST HISTORY (REPEATING IN 2018, 2019 and 2020?)


    Are forces unleashed in today’s U.S. (with help from Putin’s Russia) behind attacks on Jews and Blacks related to the origin story related below? How does this relate to Trump and his collaborators today?
The waves of anti-Semitism emanating from Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany and the prospects of American involvement in the war in Europe convinced the Christian Americans to tone down their anti-Semitic rhetoric by the early 1940s. As Vance Muse’s co-worker and wife, Maria, confessed in 1943, “Christian Americans can’t afford to be anti-Semitic outwardly, but we know where we stand on the Jews, all right.”

 

Michael Pierce

Michael Pierce, associate professor at University of Arkansas, is working on a book project examining the rise and fall of New Deal-style liberalism in Arkansas. He is the author of Striking with the Ballot: Ohio Labor and the Populist Party

View all posts by Michael Pierce »

As Kentucky legislators pass a measure outlawing the union shop and Missouri’s General Assembly contemplates doing the same, it is worth remembering that so-called Right-to-Work laws originated as means to maintain Jim Crow labor relations and to beat back what was seen as a Jewish cabal to foment a revolution. No one was more important in placing Right-to-Work on the conservatives’ political agenda than Vance Muse of the Christian American Association, a larger-than-life Texan whose own grandson described him as “a white supremacist, an anti-Semite, and a Communist-baiter, a man who beat on labor unions not on behalf of working people, as he said, but because he was paid to do so.”

The idea for Right-to-Work laws did not originate with Muse. Rather it came from Dallas Morning News editorial writer William Ruggles, who on Labor Day 1941 called for the passage of a United States Constitution amendment prohibiting the closed or union shop. Muse visited Ruggles soon thereafter and secured the writer’s blessing for the Christian American Association’s campaign to outlaw contracts that required employees to belong to unions. Ruggles even suggested to Muse the name for such legislation—Right-to-Work.

But Muse first attracted national attention through his work with Texas lumberman John Henry Kirby in the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution, which sought to deny Roosevelt’s re-nomination in 1936 on grounds that the New Deal threatened the South’s racial order. Despite its name, the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution received funding from prominent northern anti-New Deal industrialists and financiers including John Jacob Raskob, Alfred P. Sloan, and brothers Lammot, Irénée, and Pierre du Pont. Among Muse’s activities on behalf of the Southern Committee was the distribution of what Time called “cheap pamphlets containing blurred photographs of the Roosevelts consorting with Negroes” accompanied by “blatant text proclaiming them ardent Negrophiles.” Muse later defended the action and the use of its most provocative photograph: “I am a Southerner and for white supremacy . . . . It was a picture of Mrs. Roosevelt going to some nigger meeting with two escorts, niggers, on each arm.”

Vance Muse, who would later lead the fight for Right-to-Work, and Texas lumberman John Henry Kirby organized the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution in 1936. The Southern Committee—funded by northerners like John J. Raskob, Alfred P. Sloan, and the du Pont brothers—insisted that the New Deal threatened the South’s racial order and sought to defeat Franklin Roosevelt’s reelection effort.

In 1936, on the heels of the Southern Committee’s failure to deny Roosevelt’s nomination, Muse incorporated the Christian American Association to continue the fight against the New Deal, offering up a toxic mix of anti-Semitism, racism, anti-Communism, and anti-unionism. The Christian Americans considered the New Deal to be part of the broader assault of “Jewish Marxism” upon Christian free enterprise. The organization’s titular head, Lewis Valentine Ulrey, explained that after their success in Russia the “Talmudists” had determined to conquer the rest of the world and that “by 1935 they had such open success with the New Deal in the United States, that they decided to openly restore the Sanhedrin,” that is, both the council of Jewish leaders who oversaw a community and the Jewish elders who, according to the Bible, plotted to kill Christ. This “modern Jewish Sanhedrin”—which included people like Justice Frankfurter and NAACP board member Rabbi Stephen Wise—served as the guiding force of the Roosevelt Administration and the New Deal state. Vance Muse voiced the same anti-Semitic ideas in much simpler terms: “That crazy man in the White House will Sovietize America with the federal hand-outs of the Bum Deal—sorry, New Deal. Or is it the Jew Deal?”

By the early 1940s, Muse and the Christian Americans, like many southern conservatives, focused much of their wrath on the labor movement, especially the unions associated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations. The Christian Americans solicited wealthy southern planters and industrialists for funds to help break the “strangle hold radical labor has on our government” through the enactment of anti-union laws. Muse and his allies continued to claim that Marxist Jews were pulling the national government’s strings, but the membership of this cabal shifted from the likes of Wise and Frankfurter to CIO leaders like Lee Pressman and Sidney Hillman. The Christian Americans, like other southern conservatives, insisted that the CIO—which had become shorthand for Jewish Marxist unions—was sending organizers to the rural South to inflame the contented but gullible African-American population as the first step in a plot to Sovietize the nation.

The waves of anti-Semitism emanating from Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany and the prospects of American involvement in the war in Europe convinced the Christian Americans to tone down their anti-Semitic rhetoric by the early 1940s. As Vance Muse’s co-worker and wife, Maria, confessed in 1943, “Christian Americans can’t afford to be anti-Semitic outwardly, but we know where we stand on the Jews, all right.”

Muse and the Christian Americans initially had little luck selling their Right-to-Work amendment but did have success peddling a pre-packaged anti-strike law to planters and industrialists first in Texas and then later in Mississippi and Arkansas. This law made strikers, but not strikebreakers or management, criminally libel for any violence that occurred on the picket line. For a fee, Muse and his organization would lobby legislators and mobilize public support through newspaper advertisements, direct mail campaigns, and a speakers’ bureau. In Arkansas, Muse and the Christian Americans portrayed the anti-strike measure as a means to allow “peace officers to quell disturbances and keep the color line drawn in our social affairs” and promised that it would “protect the Southern Negro from communistic propaganda and influences.”

The Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation and allied industrialists were so pleased with the Christian American Association’s success in passing the anti-strike measure that they agreed to underwrite a campaign in 1944 to secure a Right-to-Work amendment for the Arkansas constitution. This placed Arkansas alongside Florida and California as the first states where voters could cast ballots for Right-to-Work laws. While Muse and the Christian Americans consulted with the campaigns in California and Florida, they led the one in Arkansas.

During the Arkansas campaign, the Christian Americans insisted that right-to-work was essential for the maintenance of the color line in labor relations. One piece of literature warned that if the amendment failed “white women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes . . . whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.” Similarly, the Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation justified its support of Right-to-Work by citing organized labor’s threat to Jim Crow. It accused the CIO of “trying to pit tenant against landlord and black against white.”

In November 1944, Arkansas and Florida became the first states to enact Right-to-Work laws (California voters rejected the measure). In both states, few blacks could cast free ballots, election fraud was rampant, and political power was concentrated in the hands of an elite. Right-to-Work laws sought to make it stay that way, to deprive the least powerful of a voice, and to make sure that workers remained divided along racial lines. The current push for Right-to-Work in Kentucky and Missouri (along with the fueling of nativism) does something similar—it is an attempt to persuade white working people that unions and racialized others are more responsible for their plight than the choices made by capital.

Categories: Automation, Aviation, Biography, Birds, Courage, Drones, Education, Fiction, History, Science and Biography, Marine technology and commerce, Military technology, Politics, Technology | Leave a comment

Trump and Quisling, a comparison


In 1933, shortly after Hitler assumed power in Germany, a Norwegian army officer, Vidkun Quisling, founded Norway’s very own fascist party, the National Union. More than six years later, in the closing days of 1939, with the Second World War now underway and Nazi armies rampaging in Europe, Quisling met with the German Führer and urged him to occupy Norway. Hitler, riding high at the time and wanting to secure a presence in Norway before the British did, promptly obliged, and installed Quisling to head a puppet government.

As a result, throughout Europe, and then the broader world, the name “Quisling” became a noun, linguistic shorthand for something unspeakably grubby, opportunistic, and cruel.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a Quisling as a “traitor” or a “collaborator.” But, perhaps, it is the synonyms the dictionary lists underneath that are more telling: “apostate, backstabber, betrayer, double-crosser, double-dealer, Judas, recreant, serpent, snake, traitor, turncoat.”

This week, the president of the United States – a man who publicly asked Russia to hack Clinton’s emails in 2016, and benefitted mightily from a range of other Russian interventions in his first election campaign — essentially invited foreign governments, spy agencies, and freelance provocateurs to feed him dirt on his domestic political opponents in his second campaign.

He wouldn’t, Trump told ABC News, necessarily contact the FBI or other law enforcement agencies if he and his team were approached by overseas governments and their agents with material that would secure him partisan political advantage.

This from the man who now routinely accuses those who investigated his 2016 campaign’s Russia connections of being “traitors.” Who called for Clinton to be locked up for endangering national security by using a personal email account to conduct government business. Who is pushing the Justice Department to set in motion show trials against political opponents, law enforcement investigators, even ex-intelligence community leaders-now-TV pundits such as James Clapper. Who wraps himself in the flag and parrots ugly nationalist platitudes as shamelessly as any mid-century, mittel-European demagogue. Who has, at various times, used fire-and-brimstone apocalyptic rhetoric to promise to entirely destroy both Iran and North Korea if their leaders dare to threaten or insult the United States. Who appointed the fanatic Kris Kobach to investigate a supposed epidemic of voter fraud committed by “illegals.” Who has aggressively pushed a “citizenship question,” squarely aimed at intimidating immigrants away from participating, onto the 2020 census, supposedly, absurdly, as a way to uphold the Voting Rights Act. Who has put children into cages, and declared a national emergency, as a way to “secure” the country’s southern borders.

This homunculus, who claims to be the great defender both of the integrity of the nation and of its democratic institutions, is an utter fraud. The ABC interview simply pulls back the curtain even more on what should, by now, be plain viewing: It’s always been all-about-Trump, all about grifting and conning, cheating and lying his way to personal wealth and power. And if overseas governments want to get in on the act, so much the better for him.

In normal times, Senators and members of Congress from both great political parties would have lined up to condemn such remarks. It’s hard to imagine any other presidency surviving such a malicious action, such an invitation, by the Commander-in-Chief, to undermine the democratic institutions and tenets of the country. It’s hard to fathom any other president saying this without his senior cabinet members resigning in disgust.

Surely a runaway, rogue, president, a toxic, criminally-disposed leader, a man who cannot distinguish between his personal interests and the interests of the state, are what the impeachment process, or the 25thAmendment, were carefully crafted to prevent.

Yet Trump says this stuff, he blathers on in his crude, egomaniacal Made-Man way, seemingly without consequence. Perhaps his most durable political accomplishment has been to unleash an era of shamelessness. An era where anything goes, and where, on a daily basis, the bar for acceptable presidential behavior is deliberately lowered. Where the most appalling rending of the democratic and cultural fabric is simply viewed as acceptable collateral damage in a take-no-prisoners moment; or, perhaps worse, as just an entertainment spectacle.

In Trump’s reality-TV mindset, one can say and do the most unethical things because it’s all just a game, just a part of the endless chase for ratings. He has turned the governance of the world’s most powerful country into a 24/7 Jerry Springer show. The long-term consequences can’t be seen by the camera, and thus, in such a calculus, they don’t count, arguably don’t even exist.

Trump’s cabinet continues to back him. The GOP congressional leaders, as they do after each outrage spewed forth from Number 45’s vulgar mouth, utter milquetoast condemnations and then immediately return to the serious business of confirming conservative judges, deregulating the economy, the environment, the workspace, and passing punitive anti-abortion laws in the hopes of prodding the Supreme Court into overturning Roe vs Wade. And about four in ten voters continue to regard Trump as something akin to the Second Coming of Christ, a Messianic figure who can, in their eyes, do no wrong.

The result is such a vast corrosion of the political culture that, day by day, the memory of a more elevated tone in governance simply melts away. Was there really a moment when the president retweeting doctored images of the House Speaker, intended to make her look drunk, would have raised eyebrows? Was there really a period when the president tweeting about the Prince of Whales would have drawn howls of outrage across the political spectrum at the sheer inanity of a man who can mistake a big maritime mammal for a country? Was there really a time in American politics when the Quisling comments of a debased and odious leader would have resulted in good men and women of all political stripes coming together to say “No More”?

The answer, of course, is there was. And, I believe, that in due course there will be again. Men of Trump’s ilk can only ride the waves of power for so long. They do their damage, but eventually they get thrown, and, when they do, they fall peculiarly hard. They find then, in the senescence of their rule, that their friends, both domestic and foreign, are only fair-weather, their “achievements” as insignificant as sand-castles at high tide.

Seventy-nine years after Quisling sought out foreign intervention to smooth his rise to power, his name is still hurled as an epithet. Perhaps, far down the road from now, as the children of the twenty-second century go to school, they will be taught that Trumps are entirely dishonorable creatures; that to be called “A Trump” is the most demeaning of insults. Maybe, too, Merriam-Webster will publish a list of synonyms: “A bore, a narcissist, an ego-maniac, a fool, a cheat, a felon, a purveyor of falsehoods, an opportunist, a sadist, a man who somehow lost his soul.”

— Sasha Abramsky

http://www.theabramskyreport.com

Categories: History, Science and Biography | Leave a comment
 
 

Putin’s longterm aim: reverse America’s Cold War win


Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives to take his place with French President Emmanuel Macron, Brigitte Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Donald Trump, and first lady Melania Trump at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France on November 11, 2018.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives to take his place with French President Emmanuel Macron, Brigitte Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Donald Trump, and first lady Melania Trump at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.

 

Republicans were once proud of claiming that Ronald Reagan won the Cold War. “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear down this wall” was the moment often cited as the key point of challenge in a war that threatened more than once to end life on the planet as it waxed and waned from 1946 to 1991. When the wall came down in 1989 and the USSR unraveled until it collapsed in 1991, Republicans stood as the party that took the firmest defense of America’s interests abroad. That stance of confronting any and all threats, both real and imagined, to the US backed global order continued throughout the Bush I and Bush II regimes. Republicans, including Trump, frequently attacked the Clinton and Obama administrations for their supposedly weak defense of American interests  abroad.

But when the Russians attacked us in the citadel of our democracy, our elections, Republicans actively cooperated with Russia to cover up and deny that attack, and even took money from organizations such as the NRA that appear to have been turned into laundromats for Russian money. Meanwhile, Republican Supreme Court nominees in the Citizens United decision threw the door open to dark money and ensured that this dark money would be untraceable.  In effect the Republican majority on the Supreme Court turned the Constitution, with its protections of fundamental rights and democratic processes, into a suicide pact in which dark money from whatever sources could be used to turn us against ourselves.

Now, Republicans defend a president who seems determined to aid former spy, current Russian dictator Vladmir Putin, to reverse that Cold War victory. Moscow Mitch may be an epithet, but it accurately reflects the core of compromise and accommodation that now characterizes what was once described as the party of Ronald Reagan, the man who won the Cold War. Now, Republicans stand firmly behind, and beside, and in front in defending Trump, a man who appears determined to leave the United States without allies, without alliances, and surrounded on all sides by enemies determined to redraw the maps of the post WWII/post Cold War world.

This is not an imagined fear. It is all too real, and very far along in its progress. Yet no Democratic debate yet has really probed this threat to our freedoms and even our existence as a nation. This must be recified in the coming debate. Make no mistake about it, as Bill Taylor’s 15 pages of opening testimony attests, NATO and the European Alliance are in deep peril. Russia has already and continues to use force to redraw the post Cold War European map. American allies in Ukraine and Syria are dying as a result of Trump’s treachery. Russia has the center of the NATO line already weakened. With Turkey’s connaivance, Russia has now weakened the southern flank. And Trump is doing all he can to wreck America’s Pacific alliances and the China Card Reagan played that was crucial in ending the Cold War.

I spent the final years of the Cold War between the USSR and USA living and working in Hong Kong, which was then described as the window on China and a hotbed of agents of all sides on the prowl for intel. Reagan was in his final two years as President. As China reformed and opened up during the 1980s, the peril and isolation of the USSR grew. This was readily discernible from Hong Kong, where I continued to live until late 2015, teaching in a department of government and international studies. When the West, in no uncertain terms, punished China for the mid-1989 Tiananmen Square massacre with sanctions and with effectively siphoning off many of the most promising Chinese students abroad, Soviet leaders knew that their shaky economy could not withstand a similar response. And this played a role in the hesitancy they exhibited as demonstrations grew throughout the Soviet bloc and eventually spread to the USSR “republics” themselves.

The unity of the West, led by the United States, and buttressed by our ringing affirmations of democracy and freedom in defensive alliances such as the UN and NATO, as well as in agencies of economic cooperation and freedom such as the World Bank and WTO (then the GATT), constrained and then collapsed the dictatorships that ruled the majority of humanity during the Cold War. The Ukraine, as a result, broke free.

Russia has never accepted Ukraine’s independence and it appears it still covets its lost global influence. Putin appears determined to resurrect Russian global power and simultaneously destroy America’s.

This Cold War victory is thus in very real danger of being reversed. If Putin can break up the EU and NATO, the United States loses access and assistance from what is currently the largest economic bloc on the planet. Technically, the US and EU together command about 40% of the global economy. With the Asian alliance with Japan and our strong relations with China, well over half the global economy was strongly influenced by the United States as of 2016. But America alone is about 16-18% of the global economy, and shrinking. In purchasing power parity terms, China is already larger economically than the US according to the World Bank. A Russia-China bloc would have immense global influence without a US-EU-Japan and other allies block to counter it. If the US is weakend enough, you can be certain China will move to secure its hold over the entire South China Sea and over Taiwan. Japan, alone, would have no choice but to secure its vital trade routes through the South China Sea by alliance with China instead of the US. Other Pacific allies such as Australia and NZ, much of South America and Central Asia would shift orbit from the US to China.

Without our global alliances, the United States would be isolated in a world very much increasingly imperiled by global threats such as climate change and the rampant spread of nuclear weaponry. Even a “small” nuclear war between Pakistan and India would, as recent studies show, kill hundreds of millions globally. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists recently noted the world is in as much or even more danger of nuclear war now than during the Cold War.

The global threats are growing. Our alliances and influence are weakening. This is a recipe for disaster, both to the US and our planet.

In attacking our democratic system and rule of law, Putin is attacking the very core of the global security and trade system that reflects and protects those values. There is no question Trump shares that hatred of democracy and rule of law with his master, Putin. With Trump disrupting and neglecting the UN, NATO, and the WTO—attacking all those agencies that globalized American democratic and legal values and systems, he proves himself a positive, present danger to the American Republic. His actions are wholly traitorous.

Yes, all these agencies need to better reflect our democratic values and better protect us as human beings, but they cannot be made better if they are destroyed. We cannot advance the global cooperation needed to address climate change and nuclear weapons without them. We cannot defend ourselves, our climate, our values, or our trade and hence prosperity alone. But Trump and Republicans today appear determined to strip us defenseless and to render us impotent.

Trump must be impeached and removed from office. And all those who defend this traitor must similarly be investigated for any criminality that may be found and/or voted from office. That includes Moscow Mitch, who may actually be a witting agent of Beijing, not Moscow, or perhaps of both. Assuredly, he is no patriot. Further, the “good behavior” of US Supreme Court justices who opened the door for Russian intervention and the destruction of our democracy must be fully, carefully investigated by Congress. If questionable associations (Deutschebank and a particular former justice come to mind) led to the majority forming this disastrous decision, the decision itself must be reconsidered. And if the “majority” do not reverse the decision, steps must be taken to impeach and remove justices who insist on forcing the United States to commit suicide. It cannot be considered “good behavior” to actively assist those who aim to destroy the nation.

As was said long ago, Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country. We are clearly under attack from foes both foreign and domestic. Remember your oaths. Read the many diaries laying out how to assist in the coming election, and do your part, and do your part now in supporting our Congressional representatives who are standing up for us and our nation against those who want nothing less than to become rich by assisting the dismantling of this country.

Multiple actors in the United States, Russia, and Ukraine have been promoting the idea of investigating Ukraine’s alleged election meddling, as well as the inquiry about the Bidens. The calls for such measures have been promoted especially by Ukrainian lawmakers known for their pro-Russian views, including Yuri Boyko, the co-chairman of Ukraine’s biggest pro-Russian party.

“Russia’s influence over its largest European neighbor can be restored only by undermining the American involvement.”

According to the English-language Ukrainian newspaper Kyiv Post, three other Ukrainian lawmakers—Oleg Voloshyn, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, and Andriy Derkach—are also “doing Trump’s dirty work” to try to prompt the investigations he demanded from the Ukrainian president.

The Kyiv Post pointed out the lawmakers’ links to the oligarch Dmytro Firtash, discredited former Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, and President Trump’s former campaign chief Paul Manafort.

Voloshyn, who calls Manafort his friend, authored a flattering opinion piece about him in December 2017. At the time, Robert Mueller’s prosecutors argued that Manafort violated a gag order by heavily editing Voloshyn’s op-ed that attempted to whitewash Manafort’s work in Ukraine.

The politically motivated investigations of the Bidens and Ukraine’s alleged interference in the U.S. elections would play right into President Vladimir Putin’s hands by jeopardizing bipartisan U.S. support for Kyiv. The Kremlin, which seized and annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, sees Ukraine as the highly coveted jewel of the post-Soviet region. But Russia’s influence over its largest European neighbor can be restored only by undermining the American involvement. Putin personally pitched in to paint a negative picture of Ukraine, when President Trump inexplicably sought his “guidance” on how to deal with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Kremlin has strived continually to drive a wedge between the United States and Ukraine in order to get the country back firmly into Russia’s sphere of influence. Russian state media repeatedly urge the Ukrainian government to go along with Trump’s demands, no matter how humiliating, or else lose any hope of continued U.S. support.

The host of Russian news talk show 60 Minutes, Evgeny Popov, warned: “If Trump gets re-elected, and you don’t investigate Biden… [Ukraine] won’t get anything from America. Not a thing.” The co-host of 60 Minutes, Olga Skabeeva, scoffed: “With respect to mutual American-Ukrainian love, as we know, nothing lasts forever,” adding, “Trump could spit on Ukraine.”

The leader of a pro-Russian group of Ukrainians, Yuriy Kot, picked up that refrain: “Trump could spit on Ukraine!” Kot added that if Trump is re-elected, Ukraine can expect “four more years of hell from the United States of America. You don’t even understand the horror that is coming your way.” Skabeeva summed up: “For Ukraine, this is a catastrophe… Americans are directly telling you they’re sick of you. Nobody needs you.”

“Trump could spit on Ukraine.”
— Olga Skabeeva, co-hose of Russia’s “60 Minutes”

Such demoralizing drivel from Russian state media is, of course, designed to push the fledgling democracy away from the U.S. and back into Russia’s orbit.

Trump, for his part, has been in the “blame Ukraine” camp for years as a way to diminish or discredit the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community and many of its Western allies that, as Fiona Hill pointed out, Putin had waged a systematic effort to undermine U.S. democracy, with support for Trump a part of that strategy.

Putin and Trump reportedly have discussed allegations of Ukrainian interference in U.S. elections. In a 2017 Oval Office meeting, Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s election interference. At the G20 in June of this year, Trump grinned and playfully wagged his finger as he told Putin: “Don’t meddle in the election.”

One month later, during Trump’s now infamous July 25 call with Ukraine’s Zelensky, Trump urged him to investigate Ukraine’s alleged meddling in the U.S. elections—and the lesson drawn from all this by Putin?  Appearing at the economic forum Russia Calling, he smirked: “Thank God no one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore. Now they’re accusing Ukraine.”

But here’s the fact of the matter. Russia’s unprecedented interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has been described, with reason, as “the most successful influence campaign in history, one that will be studied globally for decades,” and it is far from over.

Instead of counteracting Russia’s malign influence, American foreign policy under Trump is seemingly being guided by it and leaders of the Republican Party are doing their best to aid and abet that program.

The wave of Kremlin disinformation started with faceless workers at the St. Petersburg “troll factory” banging away at their keyboards, striving to reach everyday not-very-well-informed Americans who would in turn misinform others within their sphere of influence.

The operation surpassed Putin’s wildest dreams when ripples of disinformation surged into a tsunami as Candidate Trump and then President Trump started openly to recite Russia’s fictive talking points. The range of dissemination was then magnified by Trump’s Republican supporters, along with his 67 million Twitter followers, and media outlets hanging on to every word uttered by the leader of the mightiest country in the world.

In sum, there’s no question the presidency of Donald J. Trump has proved to be enormously beneficial for the Kremlin, and supporters of the Russian president are openly rooting for Trump’s re-election.

Russian state television channel Rossiya-1 has dispatched its reporter Denis Davydov to broadcast directly from the impeachment hearings and, probably this should not be a surprise, Russian state-media coverage sounded eerily like much of  Fox News, echoing the disingenuous claims by Trump supporters that there was no pressure against Ukraine and no “quid pro quo.”

For the first time in modern history, in the era of Trump, Russian state television is more than happy to support the Republicans—and for a good reason.

Categories: History, Science and Biography | Leave a comment
 
 

“Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last?” a lesson for today’s Trump Republicans in Congress?


1954, June 9, the Army McCarthy Hearings

“Have you no sense of decency?” Sen. Joseph McCarthy is asked in hearing.

JOSEPH N. WELCH

In a dramatic confrontation, Joseph Welch, special counsel for the U.S. Army, lashes out at Senator Joseph McCarthy during hearings on whether communism has infiltrated the U.S. armed forces. Welch’s verbal assault marked the end of McCarthy’s power during the anticommunist hysteria of the Red Scare in America.

Senator McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) experienced a meteoric rise to fame and power in the U.S. Senate when he charged in February 1950 that “hundreds” of “known communists” were in the Department of State. In the years that followed, McCarthy became the acknowledged leader of the so-called Red Scare, a time when millions of Americans became convinced that communists had infiltrated every aspect of American life. Behind closed-door hearings, McCarthy bullied, lied, and smeared his way to power, destroying many careers and lives in the process. Prior to 1953, the Republican Party tolerated his antics because his attacks were directed against the Democratic administration of Harry S. Truman. When Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower entered the White House in 1953, however, McCarthy’s recklessness and increasingly erratic behavior became unacceptable and the senator saw his clout slowly ebbing away. In a last-ditch effort to revitalize his anticommunist crusade, McCarthy made a crucial mistake. He charged in early 1954 that the U.S. Army was “soft” on communism. As Chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee, McCarthy opened hearings into the Army.

Joseph N. Welch, a soft-spoken lawyer with an incisive wit and intelligence, represented the Army. During the course of weeks of hearings, Welch blunted every one of McCarthy’s charges. The senator, in turn, became increasingly enraged, bellowing “point of order, point of order,” screaming at witnesses, and declaring that one highly decorated general was a “disgrace” to his uniform. On June 9, 1954, McCarthy again became agitated at Welch’s steady destruction of each of his arguments and witnesses. In response, McCarthy charged that Frederick G. Fisher, a young associate in Welch’s law firm, had been a long-time member of an organization that was a “legal arm of the Communist Party.” Welch was stunned. As he struggled to maintain his composure, he looked at McCarthy and declared, “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.” It was then McCarthy’s turn to be stunned into silence, as Welch asked, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” The audience of citizens and newspaper and television reporters burst into wild applause. Just a week later, the hearings into the Army came to a close. McCarthy, exposed as a reckless bully, was officially condemned by the U.S. Senate for contempt against his colleagues in December 1954. During the next two-and-a-half years McCarthy spiraled into alcoholism. Still in office, he died 4 years later.

(Courtesy History.com)

Categories: History, Science and Biography | Leave a comment
 
 

Update to: IMPERIAL AMUSEMENTS: as Congress and the Judiciary in the U.S. slide into impotence


Anxious to seize control of Germany’s faltering economy from Socialists and independent Labor organizations, its industrialists lavishly funded the Nazi party and its bid to enter and control parliament.

Having accomplished this via two elections in 1932, and to signal its primacy to the German population, barrels of fuel were rolled through a utility tunnel connecting the building containing Herman Goering’s (Hitler’s Deputy) office and the basement of the Reichstag, Germany’s historic seat of parliament. Ample excuse to dismiss the existing parliament, substituting a “rump” parliament functioning as a cheering section for Hitler.

Upon ignition, the results below, a hapless Dutch fellow was spotted near the scene, arrested, convicted in a sham trial and promptly executed for the crime.

ReichstagFire-clips-27Feb1933ReichstagFire

Today (2019) in the U.S., a version, much more subtle, is playing out, as a launching pad for the Trump Imperial Dynasty is being constructed. It started earlier, when Senator Mike McConnell made the decision to populate our Federal judiciary with robotic Russian dolls united in their zeal to dismantle guarantees provided in the Constitution and its amendments to insure equality of opportunity and access to redress.

The opportunistic candidacy of Donald Trump for the Presidency of the United States, and the intervention of astute entities under the control of Russian President Vladimir Putin presented McConnell and other actors with unprecedented opportunities to fulfill their vision of totalitarian rule to suppress shared prosperity initiatives and inclusive political participation.

Key to this conundrum is something described as Trump’s “base”, committed to massive traffic and commerce in military style firearms, narrowly defined fundamentalist “Christian” criteria applying to every aspect of existence, and exclusion of all “others” from civil, academic, scientific and political life.

NZListener-Cover-Trump

Artist: Joseph Qiu, 2018

EMPERORS OF ANY AGE HAVE THEIR HANGERS-ON AND ___ LICKERS. HOLD YOUR NOSE!

On a related issue, demagogues always coarsen societies, as in the example below, recorded by the Roman writer Juvenal: “These men once were horn-blowers, who went the round of every provincial show, and whose puffed-out cheeks were known in every village; today they hold shows of their own, and win applause by slaying
whomsoever the mob with a turn of the thumb bids them slay.”(the emperor’s thumb down, his subjects slavishly copy him–a choice driven by fear of the emperor’s wrath, or a place at the hog trough?)

Pollice Verso, by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Jean-Leon Gerome 1872

                        Thumbs down, all must die! Hurry up–an orgy awaits!

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson (middle) will award the winner of the UFC 224 fight with a one-of-a-kind belt that cost $50,000

DJT’s choice in Imperial amusements 2019–no swords or bludgeons, but lethal fists and kicks in a cage–do we need a whip and a chair to make the spectacle complete?

Humans are the only species that will act out fantasies putting themselves and others in danger out of pure paranoia. Paranoia is strictly a human condition.It is, when you think about it, extraordinary that we are not prey for most apex predators, including orcas and sperm whales, the largest predator who has ever lived on earth. The book:            

              Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (1996)

(By Richard W. Wrangham and Dale Peterson) points out that,  in only two mammal species in the world do males live in social groups with their relatives and occasionally make journeys into neighboring territories to stalk, hunt and kill members of neighboring groups. Those two species are chimpanzees and humans. He also notes that fighting adults of almost all species normally stop at winning: Only humans will fight on, even when there is nothing defensive to be gained by the killing.

 

But are we really “man the hunter,” as was believed in the 1960s? Donna Hart, in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Humans as Prey,” points out that humans were hardly “the toughest kids on the block” for the vast majority of their time on earth. Quite the contrary-we were more like the 90-pound weakling, she says. She and others believe, and I agree, that an urge to cooperate with one another, even if only to help avoid predators, is built in: “Deadly competition among individuals or nations may be highly aberrant behavior, not hard-wired survival techniques.”

    Does “FEAR”, promoted by toxic propaganda in concert with corrupt politicians stimulate the “highly aberrant behavior” referenced? Is this a threat to our survival as a species?

 

Categories: History, Science and Biography | Leave a comment

DEATH OF DEMOCRACIES EXPLAINED?


John Adams’ Thesis

Although Adams’ words, quoted below, appear pessimistic on the surface, this is not necessarily the case. After his initial statement, he lists examples of the historical imperfections and follies of democracy in Athens and France, claiming their ambitions were strictly vested in self-propagation and blaming democracies for bloodshed and war. Finally, however, Adams notes that this is no different than other forms of government, such as monarchy. In this, he reveals that his statement is perhaps more ideological than it is political; as much as it condemns government, it affirms the individual. This philosophy reflects another of Adams’ more positive historical quotes: “To believe all men honest is folly. To believe none is something worse.”

PRESIDENT JOHN ADAMS, in office 1796-1800, born 1735, died 1826

“THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A DEMOCRACY YET THAT DID NOT COMMIT SUICIDE”

                               ARE THE ITEMS BELOW THE POISONOUS POTION?

Genie page

A RECENT AUDIO PRESENTATION AT THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB OF CALIFORNIA, 2018 (click below)

https://www.commonwealthclub.org/events/archive/podcast/malcolm-nance-how-russia-destroying-democracy

Categories: History, Science and Biography | Leave a comment
 
 

WHATEVER TRUMP DOES DOESN’T MATTER (to his “base”). Is below an explanation?


 

Bobby Azarian Ph.D.

Mind In The Machine/Psychology Today, 9/30/19

Cognitive Impairments Can Promote Religious Fundamentalism (and political extremism?)

Scientists have found a link between religious fundamentalism and brain damage.

study published in the journal Neuropsychologia has revealed a connection between a functional impairment in the brain region known as the prefrontal cortex and an inclination toward religious fundamentalism. The findings suggest that brain damage to this particular area indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by diminishing cognitive flexibility and openness—a psychology term that describes a personality trait that involves dimensions like curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness.

Religious beliefs can typically be thought of as socially-transmitted mental representations that consist of supernatural events and entities assumed to be real. These kinds of religious beliefs differ from empirical beliefs, which are based on how the world appears to be and are updated as new evidence accumulates or when new theories with better predictive power emerge. On the other hand, religious beliefs are not usually updated in response to new evidence or scientific explanations and are therefore strongly associated with conservatism. They are generally fixed and rigid, which helps promote predictability and coherence to the rules of society among individuals within the group.

Religious fundamentalism refers to an ideology that emphasizes traditional religious texts and rituals and discourages progressive thinking about religion and social issues. Fundamentalist groups generally oppose anything that questions or challenges their beliefs or way of life. For this reason, they are often aggressive towards anyone who does not share their specific set of supernatural beliefs, and towards science, as these things are seen as existential threats to their entire worldview.

Since religious beliefs play a massive role in driving and influencing human behavior throughout the world, it is important to understand the phenomenon of religious fundamentalism from a psychological and neurological perspective.

To investigate the cognitive and neural systems involved in religious fundamentalism, a team of researchers—led by Jordan Grafman of Northwestern University—conducted a study that utilized data from Vietnam War veterans that had been gathered previously. The vets were specifically chosen because a large number of them had damage to brain areas suspected of playing a critical role in functions related to religious fundamentalism. CT scans were analyzed comparing 119 vets with brain trauma to 30 healthy vets with no damage, and a survey that assessed religious fundamentalism was administered. While the majority of participants were Christians of some kind, 32.5% did not specify a particular religion.

Based on previous research, the experimenters predicted that the prefrontal cortex would play a role in religious fundamentalism since this region is known to be associated with something called “cognitive flexibility.” This term refers to the brain’s ability to easily switch from thinking about one concept to another, and to think about multiple things simultaneously. Cognitive flexibility allows organisms to update beliefs in light of new evidence, and this trait likely emerged because of the obvious survival advantage such a skill provides. It is a crucial mental characteristic for adapting to new environments because it allows individuals to make more accurate predictions about the world under new and changing conditions.

reverse damage to prefrontal cortex

Brain imaging research has shown that a major neural region associated with cognitive flexibility is the prefrontal cortex—specifically two areas known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Additionally, the vmPFC was of interest to the researchers because past studies have revealed its connection to fundamentalist-type beliefs.

For example, one study showed individuals with vmPFC lesions rated radical political statements as more moderate than people with normal brains, while another showed a direct connection between vmPFC damage and religious fundamentalism. For these reasons, in the present study, researchers looked at patients with lesions in both the vmPFC and the dlPFC, and searched for correlations between damage in these areas and responses to religious fundamentalism questionnaires.

According to Dr. Grafman and his team, since religious fundamentalism involves strict adherence to a rigid set of beliefs, cognitive flexibility and open-mindedness present a challenge for fundamentalists. As such, they predicted that participants with lesions to either the vmPFC or the dlPFC would score low on measures of cognitive flexibility and trait openness and high on measures of religious fundamentalism.

The results showed that, as expected, damage to the vmPFC and dlPFC was associated with religious fundamentalism. Further tests revealed that this increase in religious fundamentalism was caused by a reduction in cognitive flexibility and openness resulting from the prefrontal cortex impairment. Cognitive flexibility was assessed using a standard psychological card sorting test that involved categorizing cards with words and images according to rules. Openness was measured using a widely-used personality survey known as the NEO Personality Inventory. The data suggests that damage to the vmPFC indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by suppressing both cognitive flexibility and openness.

These findings are important because they suggest that impaired functioning in the prefrontal cortex—whether from brain trauma, a psychological disorder, a drug or alcohol addiction, or simply a particular genetic profile—can make an individual susceptible to religious fundamentalism. And perhaps in other cases, extreme religious indoctrination harms the development or proper functioning of the prefrontal regions in a way that hinders cognitive flexibility and openness

The authors emphasize that cognitive flexibility and openness aren’t the only things that make brains vulnerable to religious fundamentalism. In fact, their analyses showed that these factors only accounted for a fifth of the variation in fundamentalism scores. Uncovering those additional causes, which could be anything from genetic predispositions to social influences, is a future research project that the researchers believe will occupy investigators for many decades to come, given how complex and widespread religious fundamentalism is and will likely continue to be for some time.

By investigating the cognitive and neural underpinnings of religious fundamentalism, we can better understand how the phenomenon is represented in the connectivity of the brain, which could allow us to someday inoculate against rigid or radical belief systems through various kinds of mental and cognitive exercises.

How “fundamentalism” in its various forms-political and ideological, is exploited:

“The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.” ~ Adolf Hitler

“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think (also, What luck for rulers that men do not think).” ~ Adolf Hitler

 

Categories: Education, History, Science and Biography, Politics, Technology | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.