Sunday: Hili dialogue

November 27, 2022 • 6:45 am

Greetings on Sunday, November 27, 2022. In exactly one month I’ll be greeting my surrogate parents and Hili in Poland, and I’ll meet Szaron and Kulka for the first time!  Don’t forget the approach of Xmas as well as Coynezaa, the holiday that begins on Christmas Day and ends on my birthday, December 30,

It’s National Bavarian Cream Pie Day, a pie filled with an eggy-custard mixed with gelatin and whipped cream. I’ve never had one, and am not sure I’d seek one out. Have a slice:

A stent on a plate.

It’s also National Craft Jerky Day, Small Brewery Sunday (avoid IPAs), National Electric Guitar Day, Turtle Adoption Day, International Day of the Bible, and, in the UK, Lancashire Day.

I was going to post a live Hendrix video in honor of Electric Guitar Day, but I couldn’t find a live performance of “Sweet Angel,” my favorite. Here instead is Mark Knopfler playing “Sultans of Swing,” another virtuoso piece. He explains his style before he starts the song at 1:57.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the November 27 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Over at the WaPo, Andrew Delbanco takes up the thorny question of reparations for the oppression suffered by minority Americans, mostly black, in his op-ed “Reparations for Black Americans can work. Here’s how.” He goes through the history of the reparations argument in the U.S. (yes, interred Japanese-Americans got them in WWII, and Martin Luther King favored some kind of payback), and then comes up with a solution that sounds good to me:

Today, a great many White Americans feel as demeaned and discarded as Black Americans, and just as forgotten. In the grim metrics of poverty rates, infant mortality and maternal deaths in childbirth, Black Americans and Native Americans continue to hold the lead. But in the distribution of suffering, as measured by other markers such as opioid addiction, alcoholism and suicide, the racial gap is closing.

This multiracial reality can be addressed only with a multiracial response of the sort envisioned by King. Beginning with a robust defense of the right to vote, such a response must include subsidized housing for low-income Americans; improved access to health care; investments in public transportation; expanded child tax credits; preschool and wraparound services for all children of the sort that affluent families take for granted. It must include renewed investment in community colleges, historically Black colleges and universities, tribal and regional public colleges, where low-income White students as well as Black, Hispanic and Native American students are likely to enroll. At elite private colleges, it should mean less dependence on the blunt instrument of standardized testing, and more bridge programs for recruiting and preparing children from low-asset families, White as well as non-White. All this might sound like a fanciful wish list, and a partial one at that — but it is no departure from the American creed of equal opportunity, in which both parties profess to believe. I have no doubt that a racially inclusive approach to repairing our society stands a better chance than any effort that is racially exclusive.

The fact that some of the benefits go to other ethnic groups should lessen the resentment that many people (though not I) feel about the issue of reparations for slavery.

*Yesterday’s World Cup results are pretty much what one expects (click to enlarge). In Argentina’s victory over Mexico, Messi scored one goal and assisted with the other, and apparently broke the game wide open with his vigorous passes and dribbles—old man that he is. This was critical for Argentina, for had they lost to Mexico (remember, they’d already lost to Saudi Arabia in the Cup’s biggest upset), they’d have very little chance to reach the finals.

Here are five minutes of highlights from the Argentina/Mexico game:

As for the other games:

Kylian Mbappé scored two second-half goals to grab a share of the World Cup scoring lead, and an in-control France finished Denmark, 2-1, to secure its place in the knockout stages with a game to go.

. . .Saudi Arabia again tried to summon the magic that helped it produce the greatest moment in the country’s soccer history, but Poland’s goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny, and its star striker Robert Lewandowski made sure their team didn’t suffer the same fate as Lionel Messi and Argentina.

With 10 minutes remaining, and Saudi Arabia fresh off two good chances to score, Lewandowski doused the Saudis’ hopes, pouncing on an errant pass from Abdulelah al-Malki and then easily rolling the ball into the back of the net for his first World Cup goal.

. . .Australia grabbed hold a World Cup lifeline on Saturday, beating Tunisia, 1-0, on a first-half goal by Mitchell Duke at Al Janoub.

The victory, Australia’s first at the World Cup since 2010, temporarily scrambled the standings in Group D. And it briefly tied the Socceroos with France in first place with three points. (France restablished sole position of first, and clinched a spot in the knockout round, but beating Denmark, 2-1, later Saturday.

*The Guardian has an interview with physicist Sabine Hossenfelder with the provocative title, “Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder: ‘There are quite a few areas where physics blurs into religion.”  This is guaranteed to piss off her colleagues who think the multiverse might be real, but Hossenfelder doesn’t care! A few Q&As with the Biner. As the article notes, “Her second book, Existential Physics: A Scientist’s Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions, came out in August.” (h/t Barry)

You write that a lot of research in physics, such as hypotheses for the early universe, is “religion masquerading as science under the guise of mathematics”. Could you elaborate on that?
There are quite a few areas where the foundations of physics blur into religion, but physicists don’t notice because they’re not paying attention. It’s a lack of education in the philosophy of science in general. For example, the most commonly accepted story about the beginning of the universe is the big bang, and to some extent this is really just the simplest way you can extrapolate the equations into the past – and then you can add inflation, which is an exponential phase of expansion; or, like Roger Penrose, you can make it a cyclic universe. But maybe it was a big bounce, or it started with the collision of membranes. These ideas are all possible – they’re all compatible with the observations that we have. But I would call them ascientific – the kind of idea that evidence says nothing for nor against.

You don’t have much time for the multiverse either. Why not?
It’s another one of those ideas that I’d call ascientific. If you want to believe that there are infinite copies of you with small alterations – one of them maybe won the Nobel prize, another became a rock star – you can believe this if you want to, it’s not in conflict with anything we know. But from a scientific perspective, if you want to make progress in our understanding of natural law, I’d say it’s a waste of time exactly for that reason, because you can’t test it.

Can you understand why some giants of physics, such as Stephen Hawking, came to believe we are living in a multiverse?
I have guesses, but I can’t ask him. It’s not just Stephen Hawking, there’s quite a number of people in the foundations of physics, though if you read the popular science press, it overstates the number, because they’re very prominent. It’s very niche, actually, this whole multiverse thing. Those people are really confused about what science can actually do. How they come to this conclusion that the multiverse must exist is that they have some theory that predicts some things that agree with observations – that’s all well and fine. And then they jump to the conclusion that therefore all the mathematics that appears in this theory also has to exist in some sense. But this is not how it works. You’ve just assigned reality to some mathematical expressions. You can’t support it with a scientific argument.

You’re very exacting when assessing other scientists’ work, so I’m interested to know: which physicists working today do you hold in the highest regard?
Oh Jesus. Then you’ll print this and everyone else will hate me. Well, I very much admire Roger Penrose, who has a really sharp mind and has done so many amazing things. He has also been outspoken in his criticism of some of the trends in the foundations of physics, including string theory. And he’s courageous, putting forward some ideas that are fairly out-there – like the stuff with the gravitationally induced collapse, or how consciousness plays a role in the human brain, or the cyclic universe. It’s all very original.

*Caity Weaver’s piece at the NYT: “Could I survive the ‘Quietest place on Earth?‘” describes just three hours she spent in a sound-eliminating room in Orfield Laboratories, located in Minneapolis The “quiet room” was crated

The room of containment, technically an “anechoic chamber,” is the quietest place on the planet — according to some. According to others, it’s more like the second-quietest. It is quieter than any place most people will ever go, unless they make a point of going to multiple anechoic chambers over the course of a lifetime.

. . . Earlier this year, members of the public began, apparently spontaneously, and via TikTok and YouTube, convincing one another that the room was created as an invitation to compete; that spending a few hours alone inside it entitled a person to a cash prize; that the value of this cash prize was up to $7 million; and that anyone could attempt to win it. Orfield Labs was bombarded with phone calls and emails from people demanding a shot at winning the money. There was no contest. But the mystique of the too-quiet room, if construed by outsiders, has perhaps been bolstered by the company’s website, which advertises an experience called “The Orfield Challenge,” whereby, for $600 an hour, a person can attempt to set a new “record” for time spent in the chamber.

A person inside an anechoic chamber will not hear nothing. The human body is in constant motion — inhaling and expelling air, settling limbs into new positions, pumping blood — and so, constantly creating sounds (although usually we cannot hear them). Environments we think of as ultraquiet are typically quite a bit louder than the floor of the human hearing threshold, which is around zero decibels; a library reading room, for instance, might clock in at 40 decibels. An anechoic chamber does not sharpen hearing; it removes the noise that otherwise drowns out the soft, ceaseless sounds of a body, enabling them to be perceived with novel clarity. The body is only totally still — totally silent — in death.

. . . In 2004, Guinness World Records certified the anechoic chamber at Orfield Laboratories as the quietest place on Earth, with an ambient sound level of –9.4 decibels A-weighted. (“A-weighting” measures frequencies according to audibility for humans; negative decibels correspond to sound levels below typical human hearing.) Eight years later, after the chamber was further sealed up to prevent sound leakage, new tests gave a reading of –13 decibels A-weighted. Guinness reaffirmed its status as Earth’s quietest place.

. . . The chamber was outfitted with an office chair for my three-hour stay. Orfield Laboratories’ gray-ponytailed manager, Michael Role, outlined the complicated terms I would need to adhere to in order to set a new record: I would need to stay in the room for three hours. It was my choice to have the lights on or off. Faced with the prospect of staring at a 12-by-10-foot room for three hours with no adornments except a chair and hundreds of hanging fiberglass pyramids, I opted for total darkness. “Sometimes people like to lay down or sit on the floor, so I leave a nice padded blanket in here,” Role said, handing me a blue blanket — which I spread across the floor — before shutting the door (unlocked, he assured me), leaving me in lightless silence.

The room was designed by the Army to test out enemy loudspeakers designed to broadcast deceptive noises.  Did Weaver survive her three hours in the room, setting a record? You’ll have to read the article to find out.

*I’m sure you’re going to want to read this (not!): “How to know if you have a genetic risk of Alzheimer’s?” The answer depends on whether or not you have a specific allele of the APOE gene (“APOE-4”), a gene whose product helps transport cholesterol through the blood.

There are three variants of the gene, each conferring a different risk. People with the APOE2 variant appear to have a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s; the APOE3 variant — the most common type — is “neutral,” meaning it does not increase or decrease risk; and the APOE4 variant raises a person’s risk. Everyone has two versions of the gene, one inherited from their mother and one from their father.

About 25 percent of people carry one APOE4, increasing their chance of developing Alzheimer’s by two or three times. Another 2 to 3 percent of people have two copies of APOE4, as [actor Chris]. Hemsworth does. This is associated with a roughly 10-fold higher risk. Having APOE4 is also linked to earlier onset of the disease.

. . .Scientists aren’t exactly sure why a gene involved in capturing cholesterol plays such a large role in Alzheimer’s disease. It’s possible that changes in cholesterol can damage brain cells or cause inflammation in the brain, which could lead to dementia.

Having the APOE4 gene variant, either one or two copies, does not mean you will definitely get Alzheimer’s disease. Some conditions, such as Huntington’s disease, are directly caused by a specific gene mutation. Alzheimer’s disease and APOE4 don’t work like that. The gene is just one factor that contributes to people’s risk. Some people with the gene variant are never diagnosed with the disease, and many people without APOE4 develop Alzheimer’s.

How do you know if you have the bad allele, and whether it’s homozygous or heterozygous? Well, you can get genetically tested at your local hospital, or you can send in our DNA to a company like 23andMe, who, for an extra fee, can tell you all the diseases you’re likely to get. This is why, me being a worrier, I just got the basic ancestry information and abjured the health data. It’s your own choice, using “choice” as shorthand for “what the laws of physics determine you do”, of course.

Now, how do you stave off the disease? The same way you stave off almost everything:

All the experts interviewed for this article agreed that regardless of your genetic status, it is possible to reduce your overall risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Studies show that tried and true healthy habits — exercise, eating well, limiting your alcohol intake, getting enough sleep, not smoking and being socially engaged — are key to fending off neurodegenerative disease.

Well, I’m screwed, especially about the sleep part. But there’s good news, too!

Finally, higher education has consistently been shown to be one of the best ways to lower a person’s risk for dementia. The hypothesis is that education helps people’s brains become more resilient, a concept known as cognitive reserve. Even if there are visible changes to a person’s brain, the more education they have, the less likely they are to display dementia symptoms.

This isn’t natural selection for genetic variants associated with higher education. Such alleles do exist, but many people are already past reproductive age when they get Alzheimer’s, reducing their reproductive deficit compared to people without dementia.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the Hili dialogue with Andrzej is very strange. Malgorzata explains:

In case you do not understand: Hili doesn’t really know what postmodernism is. Andrzej knows that she doesn’t know and assures her that she will not encounter it here. But Hili thinks that if postmodernism is strange and there is something strange in the hedge, maybe, the two strange things have something in common. This is my interpretation of this strange dialogue. Andrzej, when asked, refused to elaborate, leaving me to guess.

Here you go:

Hili: I think postmodernism is strange.
A: It’s not here.
Hili: Over there in the hedge, there is something strange.
In Polish:
Hili: Dziwi mnie postmodernizm.
Ja: Tu go nie ma.
Hili: Tam w żywopłocie jest coś dziwnego.


From Malcolm: Sheepdogs herd a balloon:

From Merilee:

From David:

From Masih:


From Frits, taken from Mastodon (I’m not a member but welcome screenshots of good “bellows”, or whatever they call emissions from Mastodon):

From Luana: a tweet from Andrew Doyle, creator of Titania McGrath. Be sure to see the ACLU’s bit in the tweet, which I’ve put below it.

The ACLU is circling the drain, but won’t go down without screams of authoritarianism. As Lewis Carroll wrote in The Hunting of the Snark, “What I tell you three times is true.”

From Simon: a Hummingbear!

From the Auschwitz Memorial: A mass deportation of Norwegian Jews took place eighty years ago today. Nearly all of them died in Auschwitz.

Tweets from Matthew. Here’s Chicago photographed from the ISS. Sadly, neither the Unversity nor my crib is in this picture. They can’t see Jerry from their house! UPDATE: See below:

Reader Phil actually found the University and several other landmarks in the photo. Here’s his guide to the photo, which included a note:

The Point [a nearby small peninsula sticking into the Lake] is barely resolvable, I was able to follow 55th east from Midway to Washington Park. The Plaisance [the strip of grass that bisects the University] is only two pixels wide.  No ducks were harmed in the creation of this image.

Below: the statement may also be vice versa:

How lovely!

A low-level murmuration:

51 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. “if you read the popular science press, it overstates the number, because they’re very prominent”

    The irony, of course, is that Hossenfelder herself is prominent in the media, but in physics, not so much, so taking her opinion generally distorts things more than taking that of Hawking.

  2. I recommend people don’t talk about “the” multiverse since there are several different multiverse concepts (e.g. QM many worlds; string theory multi-dimensions; cosmological inflationary bubbles, to give 3 examples) and the arguments for and against are very different for each.

    As for:

    “If you want to believe that there are infinite copies of you with small alterations …”

    It’s worth pointing out the entirely standard (non-multiverse) model of cosmology already has the universe extending to infinity in all directions, which then necessities the “infinite copies of you”. Your only alternatives are having an “edge” (which is going to cause you way more philosophical problems than extending to infinity) or the universe being wrapped around on itself, and thus finite. Even that last raises the question of why there would be one such entity, and not lots.

    1. Just because something is infinite it does not necessarily mean that *anything* is possible. I’ve also heard that a possible description of the Universe is ‘finite but unbounded’ rather than infinite. It is big though.

      1. But if a “you” is possible in one place then it will be possible in other places (excepting some special-pleading reason why not), and so in an infinite universe there would be infinite versions of you.

        1. Coel, I’ve seen that debunked a few times, but I can’t remember the precise arguments. It is true that for any cubic meter of empty-ish space with a few particles, there will be countless other identical cubic meters, but that doesn’t scale up for the level of complexity required to duplicate us and everything that gave rise to us (Earth, Sol, Milky Way…).

          1. But if the default model is “more of the same, extending to infinity”, then that means galaxies, stars and planets extending to infinity with a similar space-density to our neighbourhood. .

            Then, however low your probability for an Earth-like planet and however low your probability for abiogenesis, and however low your probability for the evolution of complex life, multiplying by an infinite number of galaxies gives you an infinite number of copies of you. Infinity really is … err … infinite.

            1. But it’s not an infinity of infinities. Space is infinite, but matter is not. Many empty-ish cubic meters will be sufficiently identical with each other, but there is not enough matter in the universe for large-scale structures to be … forced to be identical simply due to mathematical necessity.

              Immediately after the Big Bang, it’s possible that structures could have been identical (not my field), but there has been too much time for a … uniqueness to develop. In five billion years, when Sol is a red giant, all matter currently on Earth will either be dust in the solar wind, or absorbed into the Sun. At that point, what remains of our particles will be indistinguishable again from countless others. But for now, we get to enjoy/suffer through some temporary uniqueness.

              1. Space is infinite, but matter is not.

                In the standard cosmological model both are infinite. The mean density of stuff is presumed to be the same everywhere, so infinite space implies infinite matter (the standard cosmological model starts with an infinite extent of space with the same density everywhere, round about the Planck time).

                If you’re not going to have the same average density everywhere, you’re going to get into big difficulties explaining why not.

              2. > In the standard cosmological model both are infinite.

                Could you provide more of a reference, maybe some keywords? I’m not trying to challenge you; I’m genuinely curious. I have a hard time seeing how matter could be infinite. If it were, that would change my perspective on the issue. Thanks!

                (My last post here today.)

              3. Here, for example, is a NASA site that runs through some basics of cosmology. Key phrases are that the universe “can be “flat” and infinite in extent – our “ordinary” conception of space” (a wrapped-around closed universe is also possible), and “assuming that the matter in the universe is distributed uniformly on the largest scales, …”. Uniform distribution of matter over infinite space implies infinite matter.

      2. The argument goes that, if you travel far enough, eventually you’ll come to a region of the universe where the particles are in almost exactly the same configuration as they are here, so there will be a being who seems to be an almost identical copy of you.

  3. I am glad that you are getting to visit your surrogate Polish family in just a month’s time. I guess it has been two years or more since you have seen them in person. Hopefully the Princess will recognize you after so long. We have seen her everyday, but she has not seen you so much. Fly safe.

  4. I read Skeptic Magazine’s Racism issue, and I conclude the first thing to do is not a broad, wide ranging reparation, but to immediately change real estate/mortgages/etc. to directly apply effort to a machine stuck in a position prone to the whims of individuals in power… real estate brokers, all that.

    That is, get results faster by focusing on the best case for “systemic racism”.

    1. No edit function :

      What I mean is, reparations is an admirable idea. But not “not” do reparations necessarily, but don’t let that distract from being productive with relatively small things in the meantime.

    2. Just using the word “reparations” will lose a significant percentage of support. It is a “trigger word”, as the kids like to say. (Now sit for a moment and be amused about the right being trigger and offended little snowflakes) while spreading programs out to be inclusive (another trigger word, but also a buzz word) will lose support amongst the leftistas who want to claim skin color automatically equals privilege. But I have an idea! Perhaps if the “white” liberal middle class wokees want to keep pushing reparations, we let them. Emphasis on Them. All “white” people who support reparations must forfeit all wages above the national average wage for black people, so for example, if the average yearly income for black people is $20,000 (I didn’t look it up, just an example) then the wokees making, for example, $43,000 a year, will be docked $23,000 to be put into a national reparations redistribution account. Perhaps there should be other stipulations, such as Kanye claiming he is Jewish, and wokees claiming Jews are “white”, so Kanye gets his income cut back to $20,000 and the rest of his ill-gotten gains get redistributed to actual black people. Sounds fair, no? 🤔

      1. Right

        It gets ugly.

        Let’s make the machine work right – effort there, instead of singling out “racists” on Twi773r, struggle sessions at places of employment, on the preconceived notions of racism with only a nebulous goal but no clear read-out that it is working.

        And no more “housing projects” – they discuss that in the Skeptic article.

  5. It seems to me that Delbanco’s proposal for reparations is what liberal Democrats have been advocating for decades, usually blocked by Republicans that have generally managed to successfully block economic policies leading to a more just society by diverting public attention and concern to the endless culture wars.

    1. Exactly my thoughts on reading this. Though I have little doubt the Democratic party would have flubbed most of what they proposed had any of it been acted on, they did advocate for (and ran on) much of what is in that piece. It’s a pity that we never got the chance to try to get it right.

  6. Adopt a Turtle Day? Well, if you don’t want to have a new pet turtle/tortoise (they are not great pets for most people) then I suggest donating to the Turtle Survival Alliance, The Turtle Conservancy, or one of the many sea turtle conservation groups (beware of those that actually farm sea turtles for food though) with over half of all species or turtles and tortoises being endangered or threatened with extinction, they could sure use a helping hand. One way to help is to not buy them as pets in the first place, as it is often difficult to tell if they were captive born or wild caught, and demand just puts more pressure on wild populations with unscrupulous characters not caring what happens so long as they get some $. The Herp trade seems particularly sleazy in this regard, but wildlife trade in general is full of bad actors.

    And on an unrelated note, TONIGHT, not last night, is Snoopy, Come Home on MeTV. Last night (Saturday, duh!) was Svengoolie, of course. MeTV is great for reliving your youth, because as I think Dara O’Briain once said, “nostalgia is like crack for old people”.

  7. On National Electric Guitar Day, these other virtuosi come readily to my mind: Jeff Beck, Terry Kath, Martin Barre, and Guthrie Govan.

    1. Beck and Govan especially are probably the two most exciting and original electric guitarists currently active. Do not pass up a chance to see Jeff live! He’s getting on 80 and is better than ever.

      For the curious, Rick Beato has profiles of these and many other players up on his excellent youtube channel.

  8. For National Electric Guitar Day, I gotta pay homage to the guitar hero of my youth. (The James Gang were still playin’ gigs in bars in northeast Ohio when my buddies and I were finally able to score fake IDs and sneak in.) Here’s Mr. Walsh with his chef d’oeuvre from those days, “Funk #49”:

          1. Well, I’d vote for Gibson’s Les Paul myself. I own a ‘69 SG that I also love, but for me, nothing beats the Les Paul’s tone. We should have a vote! 🤩

  9. > interred Japanese-Americans got [reparations] in WWII, and Martin Luther King favored some kind of payback

    What a LOT of discussions about reparations ignore is that some atrocities are committed by private individuals; others are committed by governments. In my understanding, most (but not all) of the fundamental human rights violations committed against Native Americans (historically) and Japanese-Americans (in WWII) were official government actions, while the worst acts committed against African-Americans were largely those of private individuals. Private individuals and corporations should make reparations for their own actions.

    1. Slavery was santioned by states, & is now santioned by states! If you see what I mean. The British Drax family, who I have never heard of, is apparently talking to the Barbados government about recompense. British slave owners were paid compensation by the government, which cost the government so much it took generations to pay off. Trafficked people got nothing, not even a bit of land. The Drax family were slave owners & importers, & are still rich. See S.Times today. I think we should, in the UK, take from the super rich & pay for things like education & housing in certain countries where there were slaves, so for the UK that would be places like Jamaica. Paying individuals seems wrong – paying for schools & hospitals etc seems like positive ‘aid’.

      PS we could have a rum & sugar tax -how appropriate!

    2. In the antebellum American South slavery could not have existed without the full support and encouragement of the state governments and, to a large extent, the federal government. State governments offered its complete legal apparatus for the protection and proliferation of slavery, most obviously by making it legal, but by recognizing and organizing militias to control slaves attempting to escape their bondage, running a legal system that made it impossible for slaves to testify on their own behalf, and using its good offices to propagandize on the benefits of slavery to the white populace. So, no, slavery was far from an institution that somehow existed solely by the actions of individuals, divorced from any state protection. The federal government passed several laws protecting slavery, notably the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that built upon what was already in the Constitution.

  10. “It’s a lack of education in the philosophy of science in general.”

    Didn’t a wise Nobel laureate in physics say that philosophy of science is to scientists as ornithology is to birds? (And he wasn’t talking about the Charlie Parker composition, neither.)

  11. If that’s reparations, haven’t we had that for 60 years? And has it worked? Besides, the most vocal advocates of reparations don’t want social programs, they want an entire redistribution of wealth to the tune of $12-14 Trillion. Out of a GDP of approximately $21T, that’s a national, societal death-blow. Reparations is only a wedge.

  12. On this day:

    2020 – Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, is assassinated near Tehran.

    2020 – Days after the announcement of its discovery, the Utah monolith is removed by recreationists.

    I can’t believe those events are already two years old – time flies!

  13. As a foreigner, I don’t think the United States ought to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves. Your history of slavery is just not a big deal to how we regard you on the international stage as a place to visit, do business, and make treaties with. We understand that the danger and chaos of parts of American cities is claimed to be a legacy, probably unfixable, of slavery that seems to get worse the more money you throw at it. So you should stop. (Reparations to Japanese -Americans and -Canadians, were paid to those actual deportees who were still alive in the 1980s.)

    The proposal of delBanco, essentially Build Back Better, would not work for a more fundamental reason. Even if the people who had to pay for it didn’t resent having their wallets pried open (because some of the dosh was going to their racial, but not socioeconomic, tribes), the descendants of slaves would resent it, bitterly, because not all of it was going to their tribe. Imagine fighting all those years for more cash for Black people and all you get is a huge “investment” that opiate-addicted laid-off coalminers and hillbillies in West Virginia, and new immigrants from Pakistan, are going to share in. Well-off politically connected Blacks who have done very well out of the affirmative-action racket, thank you very much, would get nothing. And because poor non-Blacks still outnumber poor Blacks, non-Blacks will get most of the money….and they didn’t even have to demonstrate and riot and control the Democratic Party for it.

    You can see the dilemma for the Party. In order to keep Blacks voting 90% Democrat, the leadership would have to spin the plan as “really” to benefit Black people disproportionately. But they couldn’t be too loud about it, lest they undermine people like delBanco who were trying to soft-pedal that very aspect to sell to white (and sceptical non-white immigrant) audiences.

    If you want to create a redistributive Green New Deal and power it with windmills, go ahead, but don’t think it’s going to win you any votes with Reparations Mob. Political spending (like tax-cutting) has to be targeted at the people you want to vote for you.

  14. I believe its Jimi Hendrix birthday today… The “Cry of Love” is an all time time favorite and it featured drummer Mitch Mitchel who I think was the only drummer who could keep up. 😁

  15. Alzheimer’ disease: the year before Covid I attended a Seniors’ Health Fair and one of the groups in attendance was the local Alzheimer Society. It happened that they were looking for volunteers for a long-term research program. I had looked after my mother for eight years as she slid into and eventually died of the disease. There was strong reason to believe that her mother had it as well. No surprise – I quickly volunteered and completed the form.

    When the phone call came it made me one very happy senior. I was told that I was not a suitable candidate. WHY – I asked. The ALZ volunteer advised that if you get to 80 years without signs/symptoms the *probability* of having ALZ is quite low. WOW, what a load removed from my shoulders. Of course this provides no answers to anything – BUT it just may give other people a sense of relief as well.

  16. On “peak wokeness”: I still feel some hope because woke dogma is so logically weak that whenever there is any kind of rational debate, with advocates having to present arguments and evidence for their claims, it can’t help but come off as indefensible. I believe religious belief has an advantage because a believer can find “evidence” within- warm feelings, the desire to be with friends and family after mortality, the convincing feeling of talking to someone real when one is praying, etc. Woke dogma makes claims about the real world, not the “spiritual” world or afterlife, claims that tend to fall apart with any exposure to effective counterargument.

    Woke doctrine is fermented in closed academic bubbles, bubbles that may keep the insiders in, but may have a hard time keeping outside influences outside forever.

  17. Re: Sabine Hossenfelder

    Gotta admit: I’m starting to get tired of everything being called a “religion.” It’s become ever more the default “diss” of groups of people you don’t agree with, whatever the subject.

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