Chicago Boyz

                 
 
 
What Are Chicago Boyz Readers Reading?
 

 
  •   Enter your email to be notified of new posts:
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Authors:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Author Archive

    Intelligent Design

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 26th March 2016 (All posts by )

    Sistine_Chapel

    I believe in the evolution of life, I think there’s lots of fossil evidence for it and none for a single-point-of-time creation of mankind. I also believe in the evolution of the universe for the same reason. 14.5 billion years ago the universe came into existence as a hot plasma, from which galaxies, stars and planets condensed. How simple and straightforward is that?

    It could hardly be more complex. Starting with the universe, no one can explain from where the universe came or into what it is expanding. In other words, we can say “The following things have happened and here’s the evidence”. And that’s fine, I accept the evolutionary description. What’s missing is how a universe of material was born from a point in nowhere. No one wants to talk about that and will cry “No fair!” if you try to discuss it. It is unanswerable, apparently. How does one discuss what happened or even what existed in a time before time existed? And no one wants to think about the consequences of that violating every principle of what we call science and physics. It’s too uncomfortable to confront.

    Biologists will tell you life is easy to create. It seems to have existed on Earth within a few hundred million years of its formation. Provide a suitable habitat that’s warm and stable, wet with water or suitable liquid, add energy and a few raw materials like carbon and hydrogen, and bingo! you get life. We’ve been trying that for 50 years and can’t get that experiment to work. We get complex chemicals forming similar to the ones we see in life forms, but nothing that’s alive.

    Something fundamental bothers me about all this. Why? There’s no answer to that question. It’s the question we seem to be asking from the moment we’re born, children ask it endlessly. Why should a universe pop into existence out of nothing? Why should life exist in it? What is the purpose of either? For all of our ability to describe what happened, we cannot answer the why of it. How could something like life come into existence from inanimate matter unless it was designed to do so? Carl Sagan famously quipped, “If you want to make an apple pie, first you must create the universe.” That’s very profound in its way. The simplest things, like a pie, require the inexplicable to have occurred, and on a scale beyond human comprehension.

    In the end, it seems, I have no answers, only questions. But I reject the notion that all of this is meaningless. A universe does not exist for no reason. Life does not exist for nothing. It all exists for us to learn, to experience it. It’s where our souls grow up. It’s where our spirit evolves. That’s what I think.

     

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Philosophy, Science | 54 Comments »

    Presidential Race Snapshot

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 26th March 2016 (All posts by )

    From Real Clear Politics:

    Polls

    Assuming the above is reasonably accurate, the country has definitely moved Left in its preference for presidents. It’s interesting that Kasich does best as the Republican nominee and Sanders does best as the Democrat nominee. That may be the indoctrination effects of the MSM and the schools showing itself, especially as more young people indoctrinated their entire lives mature to voting age. It’s also possible it may reflect the poor state of the economy and more people looking to government for assistance.

     

    Posted in Elections | 12 Comments »

    Using Your Canon or Nikon DSLR

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 26th March 2016 (All posts by )

    CannonT5iPhotography tutorials, understanding your camera and what those dials, buttons and menus actually do, it’s a virtual photography course:

    PhotoRec Toby

    Years ago, when I bought my first inexpensive film SLR, I bought a book on basic photography which helped me immensely. Just learning the basics on framing a photo, controlling and using depth of field and exposure speeds changed the quality of my photos dramatically. Like anything, getting a few fundamentals correct makes all the difference.

    Next, your camera came with image editing software. Learn to use it. Ansel Adams did most of his work in the dark room. What took him hours or days you can do in minutes with software. Simple things like cropping your photos for greater effect, white balancing and enhancing brightness or contrast can take a dull photo and create something beautiful.

    Posted in Photos | 8 Comments »

    Awesome Storm Footage

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 22nd March 2016 (All posts by )

    I generally like storms. They’re interesting and exciting. That said, I’ve been in a few that were downright scary and I’ve been very close to a few lightning strikes. This is impressive to me, along with the sheer beauty of it.

    I remember merging off of I-84 West onto I-81 South about ten years ago in a thunderstorm. It was late in the day and as the sun slipped below the level of the storm clouds sunlight fell on a hillside of grass. The rain was still falling and the entire hillside burst into a display of light as the droplets on the blades of grass glittered and shimmered in the light wind with a billion sparkles of light from every color of the spectrum. I had to keep forcing my eyes back on the road it was such a spectacular display of light.

    Posted in Video | 4 Comments »

    The Peaceful Majority are Irrelevent

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 22nd March 2016 (All posts by )

    Video Published on Jul 18, 2014

    I just picked up a link to this today and thought it was impressive. A muslim girl showed up at a Heritage Foundation discussion on the Benghazi attack to put on a ‘Poor me! What about us moderate muslims?’ act.  Not to condemn what jihadis had done, not to pledge her support to fight against them, not to say how she is organizing peaceful muslims to combat terrorism in the United States. No, of course not. She owes the West and the United States nothing, least of all defense. She showed up to play the victim card, or was possibly sent there as part of a strategy to use political correctness as a weapon to encourage Western weakness in the face of violent islam. Either way, Brigitte Gabriel was having none of it. She gave her a piece of her mind and made some excellent points along the way. If more people were this clear headed we’d have a lot fewer problems in the world.

    Posted in Political Philosophy, Terrorism, Video | 26 Comments »

    Everything Old is New Again

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 20th March 2016 (All posts by )

    “There’s a difference between the West and the Non-West”

    Mr Hanson demonstrates not just what we owe to the Greeks, but how many of the issues they struggled with we still struggle with today: how to look at and understand the world, immigration and assimilation, voting rights, poverty and income equality, social justice, socialism and egalitarianism, and the role and rights of women in society.

    Just from the opening:

    “Places like India and China are becoming much more like us, if I can use that controversial term, than we are like them. And in our period here at home the irony of all this change, as it expands from the center, I think at the same time there’s never been a period in the West when people who are Western have so little confidence in what they have to offer the world. At the very time that India and China and South Korea and Latin America are embracing Western civilization, we in the West are questioning it. So much so that we created this alternative protocol called Multiculturalism. It sounds great, study all cultures. Two things to remember about it. The Greeks started Multiculturalism with people like Xenophon and Herodotus that were inquisitive and empirical, inductive in their interest in Persian and Egypt. And second, it doesn’t mean study all cultures, it means to advance them as equal to Western culture.  I have no problem with that except it’s intellectually dishonest.

    Because privately, we in the United States, and indeed in Europe as well, we live two lives. We profess a multicultural utopia, that all the world and the cultures and all the history are all of relatively equal merit, even though we see that China and India and all these countries are adopting business practices, language practices, transparencies like our own. But then we don’t live this multicultural dogma. If I can be very blunt and controversial, if we all want to travel and you have a choice between flying Nigerian Airlines and United, you’ll take United…If you want to say, you happen to be an atheist – God forbid – in this audience, but if you said ‘God is dead!’ you better do it in Salt Lake City – Mormon as it is! – than try to do it in Saudi Arabia where you’ll be executed.

    Is it because of race? No. Is it because of genes? No. It’s because of a particular culture, a particular way of looking at the world. What is that way of looking at the world? Primarily it’s empirical. That a person starts his existence without preconceptions. We inherited that from the Socratic tradition. We are not deductive, we don’t start with a premise and make the premise fit the examples. We look at the examples…and then we come up with conclusions about it. The scientific method.

    What else is this Western idea? It’s the idea that a person, an individual, has inalienable rights. We see that best epitomized in our own Constitution. But it goes back to Greece.”

    And I’ll conclude with a spoiler from his finish because I think it’s so profound. Describing the fall of Rome to a band of thugs after a much smaller Roman Republic had defeated much larger and more dangerous threats:

    “Fast forward to the 5th century AD, is this the Roman Republic, 1/4 of Italy? No. It now encompasses 70 million people, from Mesopotamia in the East to the Atlantic ocean in the West, to above Hadrian’s Wall in the North to the Sahara Desert in the South, one million square miles. And they’re attacked, not by a formidable power, the inheritor of classical military science like Hannibal, but a thug like Atilla with some Huns and Visigoths and Vandals. By any measure, the threat was nothing compared to the threat that Romans faced when it was much, much smaller. But why in the world could they not defend themselves….?

    The answer is…in 216 BC a Roman knew what it was to be a Roman. And they were under no illusions that they had to be perfect to be good. All they believed was they had an illustrious tradition that was better than alternative and could be better even more…In 450 AD I don’t think the average person who lived under the Roman Empire…knew what it was to be a Roman citizen, he did not believe that it was any better than the alternative. And when that happens in history, history is cruel, it gives nobody a pass. If you cease to believe that your country’s exceptional and has a noble tradition, and it is good without without being perfect, and it’s better than the alternative – If you cease to believe that! – there’s no reason for you to continue, and history says you won’t. And you don’t.”

    Can we learn and change course? Or are we doomed to travel that road once more?

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Culture, Deep Thoughts, History, Society, Video | 22 Comments »

    Modernist Architecture

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 9th March 2016 (All posts by )

    Home 502

    Nice mid-century modernist architecture from Kevin B. Howard Architects. These houses are in the $2 million plus category, and you can do a lot of cool stuff when you have that much money to play with. Regardless, this is really nice design work. I’d love to own one of these.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Architecture, Culture | 7 Comments »

    Carly Fiorina Endorses Ted Cruz

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 9th March 2016 (All posts by )

    FiorinaCruz

     

    Here’s the truth: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are two sides of the same coin. Trump has made billions buying politicians and their influence, and Hillary Clinton has made millions selling her influence to people like Trump.
    That’s why we need President Ted Cruz. Ted has spent his life protecting Americans’ God-given liberties, and he always stands by his word.

    I know Ted, and he’ll do the same as president.

    Before I sign off, one last thing.

    There is good news…in the most recent polls Ted beats Donald Trump by 17 points in a one-on-one race.

    And Ted, unlike Trump, defeats Hillary Clinton in a one-on-one race.

    Again, I need you now to help me support Ted Cruz. He is our best hope to return a true conservative to the White House and reverse the disastrous eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency.

    Posted in Elections | 29 Comments »

    Levin TV: Episode One

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 7th March 2016 (All posts by )

    Watch the First Episode of LevinTV

    Posted in Current Events, Media, Politics | 8 Comments »

    Rough-Hewn Land: California to the Rocky Mountains

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 6th March 2016 (All posts by )

    RoughHewnLandKeith Meldahl, a geologist and professor of geology, has written one of the most interesting books on the history of the American West I’ve ever encountered. It’s a history of how it got the way it is, physically. He covers the creation of California – it’s only recently been pasted onto North America – how the Sierra Nevada formed and what it actually is, why Nevada looks like it does, how the Colorado Plateau got there, how the Rocky Mountains were formed, and some very interesting and odd details as well. Along the way, he provides a few vignettes of the early explorers and settlers and their often brutal encounters with these features.

    Probably the two most important players in all this are something you’ve never heard of, the Farallon Plate, and the North America continent itself. Long story short, 240 million years ago  the world’s landmasses had merged together into single massive conglomeration called Pangea (All Land). Prior to that time, North America had moved West to East, the East coast was the active margin and the West coast, which then ended in a line from Wyoming across Utah and through Nevada, trailed along. The eventual impact with Africa raised the Appalachians to Himalaya scale and merged us to it like India to Asia. By 150 million years ago, Pangea was breaking apart and a newly born mid-ocean ridge opened the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. As the ridge continued to build new seafloor, it spread apart. Everything east of that ridge began being pushed to the east, and everything west of it, including North America, began being pushed to the west. It was then that things began changing for the western states. You can page through that 100 million years at Arcadia Street for a glimpse at the plant and animal life you would have seen, had you been there.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Environment, History, North America, Science, USA | 8 Comments »

    Catch D’Wave

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 5th March 2016 (All posts by )

     

    QuantumChipDWave

     

    D-Wave Systems, located in British Columbia, is a builder of commercial quantum computers. It stores bits as magnetic directions in one of three states: clockwise, counterclockwise, and both directions simultaneously. The math and physics are far beyond me, but they claim to solve certain sets of optimization problems up to 100,000,000 times faster than classical computers. Customers for their computers, which cost $10 million apiece, include Lockheed Martin, an unnamed intelligence agency (NSA?), Google, JPL and NASA Ames Research.

    Applications appear to be computationally intensive problems with lots of variables, and the solution involves a process called quantum annealing, where an optimal approach is found by exploring millions of solutions simultaneously to find the most efficient solution path. I’m reminded of a discussion on the famous double slit experiment, a classic physics experiment that demonstrates photons displaying behaviors of both waves and particles, known as wave-particle duality. Most interesting is that quantum probabilistic behaviors are also observed, in that the experiment functions differently when the particle paths are observed and when they are not. When the photons in the experiment are observed, the probability function collapses and the photons behave like a particles. If they are not observed, the photons take many paths through the slits and create a dispersed pattern on the target. That behavior has been described as “spooky”, because the particles seem to know when they are being observed. Weird, I know. It’s been said that anyone who claims to understand quantum mechanics is lying. But that doesn’t mean we can’t describe its behavior. Richard Feynman explained that at the quantum level, every possible path a photon can take is considered, and the path chosen is a probability function, like a bell curve. As photons are emitted from a source, the most likely path is taken most often, but some photons will take slightly less probable paths, still other even less probable paths, and so on. Quantum annealing seems to be a form of that, where many paths are simultaneously considered until a most probable path emerges, then it is chosen.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Science, Tech | 5 Comments »

    Gypsy Jazz

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 2nd March 2016 (All posts by )

    Time for a break with ‘Gypsy Jazz’ creator Django Reinhardt and sometimes collaborator Stephane Grappelli.

    (Minor Swing)

    (Dark Eyes)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Culture, Music | 18 Comments »

    CNN’s Trump Zeitgeist

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 1st March 2016 (All posts by )

    At the gym tonight CNN was on one of the TVs and I saw that Anderson Cooper hosted a panel of 6-8 people to discuss the increasing likelihood the Donald Trump was going to be the GOP nominee. I wasn’t listening, I just overheard snippets and glanced at their clearly worried faces from time to time. I did get a mood sense from the discussion though.

    Donald Trump. Will he be the GOP nominee? (Several seconds of silence). Everyone talking at once.

    Kasich, he still has a chance…

    Maybe Rubio, he’s got a lot of support…

    Trump…KKK!…high negatives…brokered convention…(Me thinking: Rip, tear, shred, say anything to destroy him. Also, they’re desperate to tie him to the KKK.)

    The panelists had a ‘This can’t be happening, there must be some way out, this can’t be real.’ attitude. My sense was that Trump as the GOP nominee leaves the media in a state somewhere between shock and panic. Is it because, try as they may, they can’t seem to influence this election one way or another, that they’re losing their influence and role as gatekeepers? Or do they simply fear that a populist Trumpalanche might defeat either Democrat in the election? Or do they fear Trump in particular because he doesn’t fear them, and gets away with it, not only unscathed, but ever more popular? Whatever the reason, it was an interesting snapshot at how worried they are.

     

    Posted in Elections, Media | 19 Comments »

    Could iPhones be built robotically in the USA?

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 24th February 2016 (All posts by )

    What if someone were to apply the computer-controlled logistics system of an Amazon.com type business with robotic manufacturing? At Amazon, parts are stocked and retrieved robotically, inventories are updated, parts ordered, payments made, payments received, all with a minimum of human intervention. Humans manage the system, the system does the grunt work. Everything that can be automated is.

    Combine that with robotic assembly, robotic inspection, robotic test, robotic packaging and shipping, and it seems one could easily compete with China for manufacturing a product like an iPhone. If something seems obvious yet does not occur, then one has not accounted for some key thing.

    From my perspective, the key engine of economic growth is manufacturing; taking raw or less valuable material, applying know-how and capability, and creating something with greater net worth than the sum of its raw material worth. It is the foundation of wealth creation. And wealth creation is the foundation of a healthy economy, a high standard of living, social stability and opportunity.

    Are we so tangled up in taxes and EPA and OSHA regulations we simply cannot manufacture anything competitively in the United States any longer, even with robots? If so, what is the solution, realistically? Is it possible to reform the regulatory state or does it need to be discarded, starting fresh? Can the tax system be fixed or should it burned and rebuilt? What is required to get manufacturing back on track in the United States?

     

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Tech | 26 Comments »

    Meanwhile, In Europe

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 17th February 2016 (All posts by )

    Who does one call to get Europe on the phone? What is causing all the economic problems?

    And what is happening in Ukraine and why?

    And what should the USA be doing in all this? And is the USA an empire?

    Posted in Business, Crony Capitalism, Current Events, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Europe, International Affairs, Politics | 10 Comments »

    Mark Levin Gives Trump Both Barrels Over Bush Remarks

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 16th February 2016 (All posts by )

    Mark Levin goes NUCLEAR over Donald Trump’s debate comments! — [AUDIO]

    Posted in Politics, Terrorism | 78 Comments »

    When Hillary Clinton Killed Feminism

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 15th February 2016 (All posts by )

    “Seeing Albright, the first female secretary of state, give cover to President Clinton was a low point in women’s rights. As was the New York Times op-ed by Steinem, arguing that Lewinsky’s will was not violated, so no feminist principles were violated. What about Clinton humiliating his wife and daughter and female cabinet members? What about a president taking advantage of a gargantuan power imbalance with a 22-year-old intern? What about imperiling his party with reckless behavior that put their feminist agenda at risk?

    It rang hollow after the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings. When it was politically beneficial, the feminists went after Thomas for bad behavior and painted Hill as a victim. And later, when it was politically beneficial, they defended Bill’s bad behavior and stayed mute as Clinton allies mauled his dalliances as trailer trash and stalkers.

    The same feminists who were outraged at the portrayal of Hill by David Brock — then a Clinton foe but now bizarrely head of one of her “super PACs” — as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty,” hypocritically went along when Hillary and other defenders of Bill used that same aspersion against Lewinsky.

    Hillary knew that she could count on the complicity of feminist leaders and Democratic women in Congress who liked Bill’s progressive policies on women. And that’s always the ugly Faustian bargain with the Clintons, not only on the sex cover-ups but the money grabs: You can have our bright public service side as long as you accept our dark sketchy side.

    Young women today, though, are playing by a different set of rules. And they don’t like the Clintons setting themselves above the rules.”

    NYT: When Hillary Clinton Killed Feminism

    First, let me say I’m stunned I read this call-out of the Clinton’s hypocrisy in the NYT of all places from none other than Maureen Dowd. This is tectonic and tells us the ground has just shifted on the left. That says a few things:

    1. The NYT in general and Maureen Dowd in particular no longer fear the Clinton’s power nor feel they will be punished for disloyalty by a Hillary Clinton administration. Because…
    2. The NYT in general and Maureen Dowd in particular no longer see a Hillary Clinton administration as a probability. They know the Hillary campaign is in flames and will only get worse.
    3. Maureen is aware that something fundamental has changed regarding the siren song of feminism. Once upon a time, Hillary could press the button that lit the overhead sign saying, “I deserve your vote because I’m a woman and it’s time we had a woman president!” and get applause and support across the board. It’s not working anymore. Hillary keeps pressing the button, women see the sign, but it’s having no effect. Young women in particular are flocking to, of all people, Bernie Sanders, who offers free college and more free stuff where that came from. Which brings me to the next stunning thing…
    4. Maureen writes, “Bernie has a clear, concise “we” message, even if it’s pie-in-the-sky.” She knows this is a fairy tale. She’s worked and paid bills and seen the NYT teeter on the edge of bankruptcy and knows things need to paid for, and a plan for taxing ‘speculators’ is economically ignorant at best. If you’re realistically going to discuss providing free college tuition, you also need to discuss what you’re going to give up to get that, especially when you’re $19 trillion in debt already.

    That young women are rejecting a pavlovian response to ‘I have a vagina, vote for me!’ is a positive development. That they aren’t asking rational economic questions about Bernie’s promises and appear to know nothing of the long failed history of socialism or even think to ask questions as basic as how much does this cost and how does it get paid for is not a positive reflection on our unionized, increasingly radicalized, government bureaucrat staffed educational system*. But it does show self serving design on their part, coincidentally enough.

    (*) I haven’t got the slightest doubt that there are people in that system who genuinely want to provide a good education. However, those desires are overwhelmed by the social-political-bureaucratic tidal wave that imposes the conditions and the curriculum.

    So Maureen knows things are looking grim for the Democrats. The vile Clinton syndicate is collapsing as we watch and she knows that while children and the government dependent might vote for Bernie, it’s going to be a hard sell to everyone else. Reading this op-ed in the NYT is like reading a critique of Brezhnev in Pravda. When one of the primary party organs has turned on you, change is afoot.

    Posted in Elections, Feminism, Media, Politics | 12 Comments »

    Tap Dancing to Mozart

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 14th February 2016 (All posts by )

    Not Possible? Ridiculous you say? I thought so too, until I saw this.

    More of Melinda Sullivan below, in a very different venue…

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 4 Comments »

    Ted Cruz’s Platform

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 7th February 2016 (All posts by )

     

    Ted Cruz

    Ted Cruz, more than any other candidate, really seems intent on reducing the size of government in Washington  and the scope of its power in our lives. Ted is a deeply religious man, and normally I’m uncomfortable with candidates who wear their religious beliefs on their chest. However, the perfect is the enemy of the good, and that’s a very tiny flaw to overlook.

    Most impressive to me is his Five for Freedom plan. This from the first section:

    Abolish the IRS, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. A Cruz Administration will appoint heads of each of those agencies whose sole charge will be to wind them down and determine whether any programs need to be preserved.

    1. Internal Revenue Services – end the political targeting, simplify the tax code, and abolish the IRS as we know it.
    2. Department of Education – return education to those who know our students best: parents, teachers, local communities, and states. And block-grant education funding to the states.
    3. Department of Energy – cut off the Washington Cartel, stop picking winners and losers, and unleash the energy renaissance.
    4. Department of Commerce – close the “congressional cookie jar” and promote free-enterprise and free trade for every business.
    5. Department of Housing and Urban Development – offer real solutions to lift people out of hardship, rather than trapping families in a cycle of poverty, and empower Americans by promoting the dignity of work and reforming programs such as Section 8 housing.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Conservatism, Elections, Political Philosophy | 25 Comments »

    Walter Russell Mead: Rethinking the Development of the Liberal, Capitalist World Order

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 2nd February 2016 (All posts by )

    Wherein he discusses America’s secret plan for global domination…

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 12 Comments »

    The Fermi Paradox and SETI

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 31st January 2016 (All posts by )

    The Atacama Compact Array

    The Atacama Compact Array

    In 1950, amidst the UFO hoopla that was sweeping the world, Italian physicist Enrico Fermi posed a simple question, Where are they? By that he meant with lots of people making the argument that in a universe full of stars presumably with planets there should be lots of intelligent life out there. That seems plausible. So, he wondered, how come there isn’t a shred of evidence for it? After all, if we lived in a city full of people, wouldn’t we see them or at least see evidence of them being there? So why don’t we?

    Kepler

    In 1961 astronomer Frank Drake, interested in that very question, made an estimate of how many intelligent civilizations should exist inside our galaxy. The Drake Equation has seven terms, each a guess, from how many stars are born per year and how many of those have habitable planets through how many of those planets have developed technologies (like radio) that allow them to be detected. In 1961 there was not enough data to give reliable estimates to any of the terms. In the intervening 50 years we’ve accomplished enough basic research to apply actual values to the first few terms.

    The Milky Way produces about seven new stars per year. Virtually every star forms within a disc of gas and rock/metal dust called a protoplanetary disc that eventually condenses into planets. According to research derived from data collected by the Kepler spacecraft, at least 22% of Sun-like G type stars have an Earth-like planet in the habitable zone, the habitable zone being defined as the distance at which water neither boils off or is continuously frozen. Result: the number of habitable Earth-like planets in the Milky Way is at least 50 billion.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Science, Space | 22 Comments »

    Cologne Tapes Erased?

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 27th January 2016 (All posts by )

    German admin ordered CCTV of Cologne attack erased

    Anchor: It is difficult to imagine that in front of the main train station in Cologne there wouldn’t be any TV cameras. While for the most petty crimes we often have recordings, here there is nothing.

    Dr Zoltaniki: Police officers claim that data from their protocols was deleted. Yes, by their superiors.

    It seems our politicians and Europe’s are on the same page, at least when it comes to destroying evidence.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Europe, Germany, Immigration, Islam, Politics | 35 Comments »

    Breaking Things Down and Building Them Up

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 26th January 2016 (All posts by )

    First some demolition:

    There’s actually a lot more going here than meets the eye. First, a structural model of the building is created. Buildings and bridges are overbuilt, such that the structure is capable of supporting considerably more load than it’s actually required to hold. This allows for minor failures to occur during the construction and life of the building without it collapsing. Once the model is built, they determine what support members may be removed without collapsing the structure, taking it from a safety factor of 1.5 (50% stronger than necessary) to 1 (just strong enough to stand). The analysis is carried out or overseen by structural engineers.

    Next, charges are laid on some support members, like columns and beams, but not others. The idea is to leave parts of the building connected by steel girders to parts that will fall so they get pulled in that direction and fall on top of the pile. Gravity does the actual demolition, the charges just break the supports.

    Finally, the charges are detonated in a careful sequence. First are a series of weakening charges that remove the 50% of support safety margin, then the building is collapsed from bottom to top and (usually) from the center outwards to the periphery, with the back and sides being pulled into the center debris pile.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, Miscellaneous, Tech | 11 Comments »

    Two Types of Law

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 25th January 2016 (All posts by )

    1. The law that applies you.
    2.The law that doesn’t apply to the politically connected.

    Interesting to me that despite breaking many federal laws regarding the removal and handling of fetuses, no one has brought charges against Planned Parenthood. However, those filming the breaking of the law are being charged.

    Grand jury indicts 2 behind Planned Parenthood videos

    I guess their political connection aren’t up to snuff.

    And this, from Glenn Reynolds:
    Forecast of distrust with a chance of revolution

    “Then there’s the official lawlessness. The IRS, hiding from investigations that it targeted Tea Party groups, keeps “accidentally” destroying hard drives. Hillary’s emails also keep mysteriously disappearing, and now the State Department has used the blizzard as an excuse for not producing court-ordered emails, though it’s known about the order for months. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, former attorney general Michael Mukasey says that Hillary should face criminal charges, but who really expects that? She’s politically untouchable, which says bad things about the rule of law.”

    The ‘elite’ break whatever laws they wish and laugh in your face, as do politically connected people and organizations like PP. Assuming a Republican wins the next presidential election, will there be an accounting? Should there be? Of what sort? What would reestablish the Rule of Law among the political elite?

    Related: Immigrant Mob Attacks French Family

    “The mob can be seen hurling objects at the family before one of the men within the house emerges with an air rifle to ward them off. The man was later taken into custody by police, but has been released while the regional prosecutor considers whether to pursue a case against him.”

    Note who got arrested and who did not.

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 18 Comments »

    Amateur Astronomy

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 23rd January 2016 (All posts by )

    Astro

    I first got interested in astronomy when I was a child. Visiting one of my father’s brothers and his wife one night with my family, I got bored and amused myself playing pool in their basement. Bored with even that, I rifled a bookcase and found a book on the Messier Objects. I remember being sprawled on the floor fascinated that such things even existed, much less we had photos of them taken through telescopes. Being prior to the Voyager missions, even the planets were still grainy, poorly resolved objects, so this was a great revelation to me. These days, anyone with access to the internet can view the photo catalogs from the HST, the Spitzer IR Telescope, as well as images from the great European and American observatories.

    Charles Messier was 14 in 1744 when a six-tailed comet made an appearance in the skies over France. Fascinated, he spent the rest of his life searching for comets and in the process stumbled onto lots of objects that, in crude 18th century telescopes, might at first be mistaken for one, having that same hazy, glowing look that a comet has. Angry that he kept wasting valuable comet hunting time tracking fuzzy little clouds of light that never moved, all of which were then called nebula (cloud or mist), he resolved to start recording their positions on the sky and making the list, now known as Messier’s Catalog, available to others for their convenience.

    Ironically, the objects in Messier’s list of nebulae turned out to be far more interesting than comets. As telescopes improved in optical quality and got larger, those nebulae got resolved into spiral galaxies, elliptical galaxies, faint open star clusters, globular star clusters now known to be in orbit around our galaxy, clouds of hydrogen and oxygen in which UV light from nearby stars excites them to fluoresce, and the glowing remnants of recent supernova explosions.

    For those interested in exploring the sky on their own, the first piece of equipment you should own is binoculars, preferably 7×50 or 10×50, and a book that teaches you to find your way around the sky. You cannot do better than start with 365 Starry Nights. The author, Chet Raymo, is Professor Emeritus of Physics at Stonehill College and the author of a dozen books. He is also an artist, a naturalist and a religious scientist who believes there’s both beauty and purpose to life and the universe. The book assumes it’s been received as a Christmas present, and begins with a view of the night sky as seen from the northern hemisphere on January 1st. He explains what you’re seeing through beautifully rendered diagrams of the stars, explains how to find other things in relation to those constellations, then describes some interesting objects inside each one. Each night a little more detail is added and the diagrams slowly change with the seasons. It’s probably the most beautiful, poetic, yet informed and useful book on navigating and understanding the night sky I’ve ever seen.

    A very nice set of basic but good quality binoculars can be purchased online at Orion Telescopes & Binoculars. This $100 pair of 7×50 binoculars have BAK-4 glass in their prisms and multicoated optics. They’re an excellent yet inexpensive instrument for going beyond naked-eye viewing but still offering wide field views of star clusters, the Milky Way, and brighter Messier Objects. Orion has a stellar reputation for customer service and, being owned and run by amatuer atronomers, will gladly work with a beginner and make recommendations or work to resolve equipment problems.

    Two other basic pieces of relatively high quality yet affordable entry level equipment are an 8″ or 10″ dobsonian reflector and/or a 3″-4″ refractor. Both are easy to set up, easy to use, and can provide hours of fun. Of the two, you will always get more bang for the buck with a reflector simply because they are easier to produce, both optically and mechanically. That said, a high quality refractor provides very crisp, high contrast images and are generally smaller and more portable. You milage may vary.

    10″ “Go-To” Dobsonian Telescope

    Celestron Omni XLT 102 Refractor Telescope

    Orion ED80T CF

    Some excellent books for a the backyard astronomer include Nightwatch, a general introduction to amatuer astronomy and equipment and Turn Left at Orion a book that concentrates on helping you locate objects for binoculars and small telescopes.

    Years ago, my youngest daughter and I traveled through Arizona and Utah together. If you never been under desert skies at night you’ve never seen a night sky in all its splendor. The Milky Way is a stream of stars from horizon to horizon, like a river of sparkling light overhead. In and around the Milky Way, stars are so dense it’s almost impossible to pick out constellations, simply because so many stars normally washed out into the background are brilliantly visible. Nebulae and star clusters are visible to the naked eye and are spectacular in binoculars. We spent several nights parked out in the wilderness sky watching from the back of our Jeep Cherokee while Jewel played on the CD player inside. That same daughter and I spent a wonderful night near Gettysburg watching a Perseid meteor shower from my Mustang convertible. Astronomy is something you can certainly enjoy alone, but it’s even better if you can find someone to share it with.

    The Deep Sky Videos channel from the astronomers at University of Nottingham.

    NASA’s Great Observatories

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 14 Comments »