Glen Allport's blog

Atlas is Shrugging in California

Variety bemoans that "Hollywood Continues to Flee California at Alarming Rate." Of course, it isn't just the movie industry where business is leaving for greener, or at least less kleptocratic, pastures. But Hollywood has always been the one industry best able to dramatize and publicise its own perception of the world, and while producers and film investors aren't being hurt by California's fiscal insanity (because they can, and do, film their productions elsewhere), the Little People -- meaning the Hollywood working class, the thousands of people behind the scenes doing everything from building sets to creating CGI -- are increasingly unemployed, as film-making happens in other states or other countries. 
 
The same is true for almost every major industry in California, and indeed throughout America. Freedom and prosperity go together, and the United States is rapidly losing ground in both. Not often said is that compassion is ALSO tied to freedom; rarely does one find a compassionate police state. In all, not a positive situation for those of us living in the former Land of the Free.

We don't need no steenking quarks!

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There are a number of lesser-known theories (the electric universe, for one) out there which explain the world differently than we're used to hearing. I came across one recently that I enjoyed, described in Jeff Yee's The Particles of the Universe. It's a fun read, and the basic idea is crazy-simple: everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is made of neutrinos. Simple diagrams show the arrangement of neutrinos that make up an electron, proton, and so on. There's quite a bit more including time itself and the mass of particles (much of which is energy -- E=MC sq, after all -- stored from the time of the Big Bang when neutrinos and electrons and so on were smashing into each other with massive kinetic energy). The images in the Kindle file are low-res, and that makes the text in the images hard to read, but for the most part Yee does a great job of making this astonishingly simple and elegant idea seem sensible and real. Best 99 cents I've spend in a while.

iPhone 6 to Incorporate Protective Radiation Shield [Satire]

With the ongoing Fukushima disaster already poisoning the Pacific and the world as a whole -- and with indications that this assault may soon accelerate dramatically -- anonymous (or perhaps non-existent) industry sources are saying Apple is planning to one-up the competition with a device that will monitor radiation levels, calculate various metrics for biological harm from those levels in real time, and to some extent protect users FROM the radiation by means of a yet-undisclosed technology that may create a "zone of quantum calm" around the user.
 
These technologies, under the moniker "iLive", will be incorporated into the iPhone 6, sources tell us, scheduled for release late in the Spring of 2014 or sooner if possible. Apple CEO Tim Cook is said to have told the iPhone engineering team that "We want to get this on the market while most of our user base is still alive. The CFO confirmed to me yesterday that our stock price WILL take a major hit if our users are, for the most part, dead or dying."
 
Exactly how the new technologies will work is a closely guarded secret, but one source suggests tachyon-based targeting of individual beta and gamma particles deployed in a method not unlike that seen in the arcade games Space Invaders and Missile Command. An alternate technology under consideration involves the direct manipulation of space-time, which would simply route incoming radiation around the users but which might cause issues with close interpersonal contact.
 
[The topic isn't actually funny, but sometimes the only way I can handle something truly horrible is with my warped sense of humor. Now  -- cringe -- back to reality]

The Coercive State has killed us all, continued

In Timeline of a World-Killing Paradigm Shift (May 2012) I argued that the coercive State has already killed the biosphere -- that is, the State has destroyed the Earth, or at least begun the extermination and extinction of most vertebrates and much of the flora on this planet. Much of this harm has been done via malregulation, for example by the US government's legislating away most liability for the corporations running nuclear power plants (the Price-Anderson Act and other vehicles).
    Evidence for this thesis is growing dramatically. Increasing numbers of news stories in recent months have described population crashes and severe health issues of sardines, salmon, turtles, herring, sea lions, seals, polar bears, sea stars (which have actually been dissolving and disintegrating!), and other animal species. These problems are possibly or even probably caused at least in part by radioactive contamination from the Fukushima disaster. Even governments are getting concerned, although we don't hear much about that. Earlier this month, pink salmon were found along the Canadian coast that were canary-yellow colored instead of pink. I am especially concerned about this since the pink color in salmon comes from astaxanthan (link is to a detailed article published today by Dr. Mercola), an amazingly powerful and broadly beneficial carotenoid created by microalgae. Salmon, and krill and pink flamingos for that matter, get their pink coloration by eating the microalgae or other species that feed on it.
     But now salmon (some salmon, at least) are turning up without that lovely pink color and are, instead, bright yellow. Well, for one thing, yuck. But more importantly, what does this mean for the microalgae and for the health of the Pacific in general?
    Another bit of data can be found in this story of an experienced sailor who found 3,000 nautical miles of the Pacific Ocean were almost entirely dead and filled with trash and debris washed out to sea from, it seems certain, Fukushima.
There are about 450 other nuclear plants active today, around 130 formerly-active plants (and their depleted fuel) in mothballs, and another 100 or so on the drawing boards or under construction. 

Reuters: "Washington becomes the biggest risk to the U.S. economy"

A Reuters article asserts that economists and business executives now view the US government as the biggest risk to the US economy. I'd say this understanding is about a hundred years too late, considering what the year 1913 brought us, but better late than never.

Half-Million Iraqis Died in the War, New Study Says

Before the (second) war in Iraq began in 2003, the Pentagon estimated it would cost about $50 billion and, as far as expected casualties went, it didn't seem there would be very many. Heck, the locals would welcome us with open arms and after we eliminated Saddam and his scary Weapons of Mass Destruction, everyone would be free and happy.
 
Well, not so much. As far as money goes, the bill grew to several trillion dollars, counting long-term care for wounded vets, replacement of destroyed weapons and other gear, and other on-going costs. But the biggest cost is in human lives, and the 4,804 US and other coalition casualties is the least of this: roughly half a million Iraqis died from violence and other effects of the war between 2003 and 2011, according to a survey published in PLOS Medicine and featured in a National Geographic article yesterday.
 
 

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