Ho New / ReutersThe false alarm happened in 1997.
The Green Bank Radio Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, was picking up some unusual signals—and Seth Shostak, then the head of the Center for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Research in Mountain View, Caifornia, was convinced that they had come from intelligent life somewhere in the universe.
“It looked like it might be the real deal,” Shostak recalled. Within a few hours, he had a call from The New York Times.
But within a day, it became clear that the source of excitement was actually a European satellite. To make matters worse, a second telescope in Georgia, which would have told the scientists about the true nature of the signal, wasn’t working.
Yet Shostak says that false alarm proved to be a valuable dry run for the astronomers, giving them a small taste of what would happen if the signal turned out to be real. In 1989, the International Academy of Astronautics adopted its SETI Post-Detection Protocols, a set of guidelines for how to proceed once intelligent life is discovered among the stars. SETI researchers hope that one day soon, they’ll have a chance to use them.
Later this month, the 100-Year Starship Project (100YSS), a NASA-funded initiative dedicated to achieving interstellar travel within the next century, will discuss the lessons to be learned from the 1997 incident during its annual symposium, this year with the theme “Finding Earth 2.0.”
Since the first exoplanet was identified in 1992, astronomers have confirmed the existence of nearly 1,900 planets beyond our solar system. The sheer number of planets increases the statistical probability that Earth-like planets will be found. Some estimate that there are around 140 habitable planets in our stellar neighborhood within 33.6 light years of Earth. Many astronomers estimate that we’ll find a life-bearing planet within 25 to 30 years, or maybe tonight, if we know what to look for. Continue reading After intelligent life is found offworld
by Micah Lee – Oct.5th, 2015 – via the Intercept
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In a recent conversation with National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson asked about communication with alien civilizations, and how such messages might be encoded.
In any advanced civilization, there is only a “small period in the development of their society when all of their communications will be sent via the most primitive and most unprotected means,” Snowden said. And that if we pick up signals emanating from that civilization’s homeworld, such as television shows, phone calls, or satellite communication, it will most likely be encrypted because “all of their communications [would be] encrypted by default.” Because of how encryption works, those encrypted messages would be “indistinguishable to us from cosmic microwave background radiation.”
Snowden was right about encrypted content looking like noise, but he was wrong about what scientists can tell by looking for alien metadata. Whether or not aliens use encryption, we can tell the difference between signals sent through space using transmitters and natural sources of radio signals — such as the radiation left over from when the universe first cooled down enough for photons to decouple themselves from the rest of matter, shortly after the Big Bang.
The media coverage of this conversation has mostly been abysmal nonsense (“Snowden says aliens could be trying to get in touch right now” on CNET, “Edward Snowden Has A Depressing Theory About Aliens” on Huffington Post, “Snowden Re-Emerges from Russian Isolation With Alien Encryption Theories” on Digital Trends) with some sprinkles of evidence-based coverage from Live Science, also carried by Scientific American.
Today I’m going to dive into the science of searching for extraterrestrial life in our galaxy, communicating across interstellar distances, and the role that encryption and information theory play in all of this.
Continue reading Does ET do encryption?
We are being “treated” to another display of hypocrisy via Lindsay Graham and SC Republicans…and for reference we include some others who trod the same path.
a) GOP Senators Who Opposed Sandy Relief Aid Fundraise Around One-Year Anniversary Of Storm
b) Texas Lawmakers Who Voted Against Sandy Aid Ask For Help After Explosion
c) Sen. Lindsay Graham opposed Sandy aid, but wants help in South Carolina
d) Ted Cruz Demands Federal Money For Texas Floods After Blocking Hurricane Sandy Relief
e) Pulling a Tom Cotton/Trey Gowdy/Joe Wilson on SC flooding
f) Remember the time when SC Repugs voted against Hurrican Sandy Disaster Relief?
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via Ring of Fire: Oct. 6th, 2015
“In 2013, nearly all South Carolina Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate voted against giving disaster relief funds to New York after Hurricane Sandy. The state is now hurting for disaster relief, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who also opposed Sandy relief, is leading the charge to persuade the federal government to help.”
Hearing aid buying guide
via Consumers Report – Last updated: September 2015
If you’re older than 45, there’s about a one in five chance you suffer from some amount of hearing loss–and that rate climbs steadily as you age. Almost one-third of people ages 65 to 74 report difficulty hearing, and the number rises to about half at 75, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
Hearing loss can wreak havoc with your social life, causing you to avoid activities such as going to restaurants or parties. It can also increase your risk of falls, possibly by making you less aware of your surroundings and impairing balance, and it can make driving dangerous. A recent study at Johns Hopkins University even linked untreated hearing loss to a higher risk of developing dementia.
Continue reading Hearing aid buyers guide
We are all renters!
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Even those who own their land and buildings and have a title to prove it – are renters. Get over it!
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The U.S. Government holds the rights to all the land, air, and water in the Continental United States. In most cases it acquired “the rights” to these from other countries. America bought the rights to the “Louisiana Purchase” area for the equivalent of 42 cents per acre, it bought Alaska for about 23 cents, and the Mexican Secession territory for about 50 cents per acre, in 2014 dollars.
It allows others to buy and sell real property, and issues title to it; but it retains the rights to it. If you doubt this, just try not paying taxes on property in a timely manner and you will discover who truly “owns” the property.
“No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life.”
“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?” Elizabeth Gilbert asked in framing her catalyst for creative magic. This is among life’s most abiding questions and the history of human creativity — our art and our poetry and most empathically all of our philosophy — is the history of attempts to answer it.
Friedrich Nietzsche (October 15, 1844–August 25, 1900), who believed that embracing difficulty is essential for a fulfilling life, considered the journey of self-discovery one of the greatest and most fertile existential difficulties. In 1873, as he was approaching his thirtieth birthday, Nietzsche addressed this perennial question of how we find ourselves and bring forth our gifts in a beautiful essay titled Schopenhauer as Educator (public library), part of his Untimely Meditations.
Nietzsche, translated here by Daniel Pellerin, writes:
Any human being who does not wish to be part of the masses need only stop making things easy for himself. Let him follow his conscience, which calls out to him: “Be yourself! All that you are now doing, thinking, desiring, all that is not you.”
Every young soul hears this call by day and by night and shudders with excitement at the premonition of that degree of happiness which eternities have prepared for those who will give thought to their true liberation. There is no way to help any soul attain this happiness, however, so long as it remains shackled with the chains of opinion and fear. And how hopeless and meaningless life can become without such a liberation! There is no drearier, sorrier creature in nature than the man who has evaded his own genius and who squints now towards the right, now towards the left, now backwards, now in any direction whatever.
Continue reading Nietzsche on How to Find Yourself and the True Value of Education
(AP File Photo)
(CNSNews.com) – A record 94,610,000 Americans were not in the American labor force last month — an increase of 579,000 from August — and the labor force participation rate reached its lowest point in 38 years, with 62.4 percent of the U.S. population either holding a job or actively seeking one.
In other disappointing news, the economy added only 142,000 jobs in September, well below economists’ expectations, but the unemployment rate remained at 5.1 percent, where it was in August.
The number of Americans not in the labor force has continued to rise, partly because of retiring baby-boomers and fewer workers entering the workforce.
In September, according to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population, consisting of all people 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution, reached 251,325,000. Of those, 156,715,000 participated in the labor force by either holding a job or actively seeking one.
The 156,715,000 who participated in the labor force equaled only 62.4 percent of the 251,325,000 civilian noninstitutional population. The last time the labor force participation was as low as 62.4 percent was in October 1977. (The rate had been 62.6 percent for the 3 months prior to September.)
The participation rate dropped for both men 20 years and older (the 71.3 percent in September is a record low in BLS data going back to 1948). It also dropped for women 16 years and older (56.4 percent participation rate in September compared with 56.7 percent in the two preceeding months).
Last month, 56,647,000 women 16 and older were not in the labor force, an increase of 394,000 from August and up 1,066,000 from September 2014.
That number also rose for men: In September, 32,387,000 men age 20 and older were not in the labor force, up 202,000 from August and an increase of 804,000 from September 2014.
Other notes from Friday’s jobs report:
Continue reading U.S. labor force participation rates lowest in 38 years
Quorum does a “word cloud” from online posts about guns segmented by political orientation of posters.
(updated below – Update II – Update III – Update IV – Update V)
Yesterday afternoon, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power marched to Twitter to proclaim: “we call on Russia to immediately cease attacks on Syrian oppo[sition and] civilians.” Along with that decree, she posted a statement from the U.S. and several of its closest authoritarian allies – including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UK – warning Russia that civilian casualties “will only fuel more extremism and radicalization.”
Early this morning, in the Afghan city of Kunduz, the U.S. dropped bombs on a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)). The airstrike killed at least 9 of the hospital’s medical staff, and seriously injured dozens of patients. “Among the dead was the Afghan head of the hospital, Abdul Sattar,” reported The New York Times.
Jason Cone, MSF’s Executive Director, said the medical charity “condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific bombing of its hospital in Kunduz full of staff and patients.” He added that “all parties [to the] conflict, including in Kabul & Washington, were clearly informed of precise GPS Coordinates of MSF facilities in Kunduz,” and that the “precise location of MSF Kunduz hospital [was] communicated to all parties on multiple occasions over past months, including on 9/29.” Worst of all, from MSF itself:
For its part, the U.S. military in Afghanistan issued a statement acknowledging that it carried out airstrikes, claimed they were conducted “against individuals threatening the force,” and conceded that “the strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” But the NYT reported: “From early on, the Taliban had respected the hospital’s request not to bring weapons inside, according to staff members, and the hospital had been a refuge in the shattered city of Kunduz. It was a place where the wounded from all sides were treated.”
Continue reading Collateral damage – or targeted killing
What’s going on in the Republican mind?
by Michael Bader – DMH, AlterNet – Sep. 28th, 2015
Rather than simply reacting with self-righteous contempt for the current crop of GOP presidential candidates, liberals like myself should try to also understand their appeal, however much we might believe it’s not strong enough to put any of them in the White House. The pre-scripted kabuki dances on display in their debates have made them easy targets for disdain, so easy that it’s a bit like playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey with your eyes open. Trump is an obviously racist bloviator, the creepiest and most blatantly disturbed of the bunch, for sure, but the lot of them come across as empty suits projecting poll-driven personas that their handlers believe will resonate with their base of angry and/or older white men. Moments of “authenticity” (e.g., they love their parents, spouses and children—imagine that!) are, themselves, always wooden, overly-crafted and ginned up with phony emotion and reported breathlessly by a media itself unable to stand on its own two feet and tell truth from fiction when it comes from these conservative wind-up dolls.
The Democrats will stage manage their personalities and manipulate their messages, too. Sanders is by far the most authentic, but he had to pivot in order to re-emphasize his record on race and women’s rights. Hillary will try to “present” herself as a human being (she’s a grandmother, after all), and the other guys—whoever they are—will do something similar when they can.
All of this is politics as usual, dutifully but cynically covered by a press corps that has surrendered even the pretense of critical thinking, instead sucking up to what they see as the basest cravings of their readers and viewers for the political version of reality television.
But while all politicians pander and throw authenticity under the bus of political expediency, the current plague of high-visibility GOP candidates project two especially pathological themes that they’ve decided will resonate with the feelings of millions of voters: paranoia and grandiosity.
As a liberal and a psychologist, I think it’s important to understand the nature and meaning of this resonance. The fears and insecurities that paranoia and grandiosity seek to diminish are feelings that a liberal agenda should be better able to address. Undecided voters can be drawn to the left or the right, and the more we understand the appeal of the American Right, the better able we might be to counter it with a more progressive and healthy message and platform. But we will never know if that’s possible or how to do it if we don’t understand the psychological dynamics behind the appeal of right-wing paranoia and grandiosity. Continue reading Understanding the appeal of paranoia and grandiosity in politics
Two seconds before shots were fired at Pres. Reagan…
There is constant chatter coming from the WingNut community which asserts safety and security comes from being armed; yet yesterday we had another mass shooting episode that killed a score of innocent people, in a community college setting. There was at least one bystander at the college who was armed, who did not go after the shooter for a very simple reason: he believed he could have been mistaken as a perp by the SWAT team when they arrived. This bystander was in a building several yards away from the killing zone, and it would have taken him several minutes to get to the site, roughly the same amount of time it took the police to arrive.
In one of the deadliest of a series of school shootings that have become violently familiar across the U.S., a gunman opened fire at a community college in southwestern Oregon on Thursday morning, killing at least nine and injuring seven others before dying in a shootout with police.
The massacre at Umpqua Community College in this rural lumber town began when the assailant, armed with three handguns and an assault rifle, stormed Snyder Hall and started firing, asking students about their religion as he attacked.
A series of frantic police recordings, punctuated with the scream of sirens, narrated the terrifying scene at the two-year college, about 180 miles south of Portland, where the school year had just begun Monday. The chaos was apparent as ambulances were called and victims were tallied.
A dispatcher could be heard saying the gunman was “outside one of the doors, shooting through the doors” in the hall, with 35 people inside. Several minutes later, an officer is heard describing a gun battle with the assailant. “The suspect is down,” someone shouted, while another officer called in for “as many ambulances as possible.”
This mayhem occurred in other advanced countries in the past, and some countries have taken steps to ameliorate this by tightly controlling firearms. A case in point is Australia, a country with strong similarities to America, including the “Wild West” and “Exceptionalist” motifs. So what happened in Australia? http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/19/world/us-australia-gun-control/
We need to address this defect in American governance now, as reasonable adults and citizens of a democratic republic, not as jingoistic libertarians living in some 18th Century mental frame ! Our founders did not want us to stop advancing as a civilization by a strict adherence to what they created. Circumstances change, and only idiots fail to do so as well.
September 28, 2015, 10:00 am -via The Hill – by Peter Montgomery
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Far-right Republicans in Congress are threatening to shut down the federal government rather than pass a budget that allows Planned Parenthood to continue receiving federal funds to provide women with healthcare. The renewed energy behind the effort to destroy Planned Parenthood, a consuming goal of anti-abortion zealots, comes from a discredited smear campaign that has provided fodder for lurid claims by pundits and presidential candidates, but has not withstood honest scrutiny.
The campaign, based on strategically edited videos from the bogus “Center for Medical Progress,” is also providing justification for a one-sided “investigation” planned by the House Oversight Committee tomorrow. Given what is at stake for the millions of American women who rely on Planned Parenthood for health care, it is vitally important to evaluate the evidence and consider the credibility of Planned Parenthood’s accusers.
First, a quick summary of the facts: A small fraction of Planned Parenthood facilities allow women the option of donating fetal tissue to medical research. The law allows researchers to reimburse Planned Parenthood for the costs associated with getting the tissue to researchers. And, for all the dramatic spy-camera video and righteous posturing, that is just what happens – at the one percent of Planned Parenthood facilities involved in fetal tissue research. This is a ludicrous rationale for trying to destroy Planned Parenthood, which does not use a penny of its federal funding to provide abortions. The bottom line: five states that have investigated CMP’s charges that Planned Parenthood is involved in the illegal selling of “baby parts” have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.
So where are these charges coming from? Continue reading Let’s be honest about the dishonest attack on Planned Parenthood
Our previous WordPress blog with content from Jan. 2003 to Sep 2015 was lost in the forced migration from Earthlink to GoDaddy.
Thus it will take some time for this version to be as full-featured as the previous iteration.
If you want to assist, send email – or come by the office.
Richard @ Bizmarts