Showing posts from April, 2020

Biden Sex Problem

Joe Biden has a sexual assault problem, and the dominant impulse in the Democratic Party right now is to sweep it under the rug.  This really sucks and has the makings of a disaster for the Party and country.  Senator Gillibrand, who led the lynch mob against former Senator Al Franken, has signed on in support of Biden.

No, it hardly matters that he is accused of far less than Trump, or less even than Trump has admitted to.  Corroboration for Tara Reade's accusations seems to have reached a critical mass.  The most credible defense of Biden that I have seen is here:

Supposedly, Biden will respond to the accusations on television tomorrow.  If his response is simple denial, he should not even bother.  O…

Quarantine Days: The Dumb Kid

Planetary formation is complicated.  Interstellar dust grains are small, typically a few tenths of a micron, and it takes a lot of them to make an Earth sized planet - about 10^38 of them (a quintillion quintillion or so).  They don't have forever to get the job done, at most a few million years from collapse of the presolar nebula to clearing of the disk by radiation pressure and the stellar wind.

The collapse of the nebular cloud into a disk brings the grains into closer proximity, where they can grow by contact and sticking.  Over a few hundred thousand years they can grow to centimeter size or a bit larger, but after they reach ten centimeters or so, the problems begin.  Probably the worst problem is that these pebbles are still coupled to the much larger mass of gas but not strongly coupled enough to be carried with it.  The gaseous disk, being partially supported by pressure, moves at sub-Keplerian speeds, but the pebbles, which are not held up by pressure, need to move fast…

Quarantine Days: A Sea Change

Full fathom five thy father lies. Of his bones are coral made. Those are pearls that were his eyes. Nothing of him that doth fade, But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange. Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell...........The Tempest, Act I, Scene 2
The economy post coronavirus is likely to look a lot different.  Robotization of the work force  in grocery stores and shipping warehouses is likely to be vastly accelerated.  People are likely to get used to ordering most things online.  I don't think the cruise ship industry is coming back anytime soon.  I wouldn't be surprised to see most trucks become robotic several years sooner than currently expected.  The airline industry will probably be a ghost of its former self.
Forget the handshake.  A bow and a namaste is safer.
Will unemployment persist after coronavirus?  Will the enormous debt undertaken by the US cripple the economy for decades?

Quarantine Days: Washing Songs

In this time of quarantine we are all solemnly entreated to spend twenty seconds washing our hands any time we contact anything that might have been touched by human, pangolin, or bat.  Twenty seconds washing one's hands feels a bit like the last twenty seconds of an NBA game - it can last longer than three beers, so how should we time this?  Suppose one really doesn't fancy singing a few verses of Happy Birthday a couple of hundred times a day, what is an alternate timing scheme.  I've come up with a few.

For the classically minded, there is always Shakespeare.  How about a dozen lines of Hamlet starting with:  What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!...

The part about a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors may be a bit close to the bone right now.

More optimistic, perhaps, would be: Now is the winter of our discontent made glor…


Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic............Arthur C. Clarke

Confined to quarters here, I have had time to start reading some Ursula K. Le Guin.  I have deduced a corollary to Clarke's Third Law, cited above:

Any sufficiently described magic is indistinguishable from technology.

Magic, described in detail, is just technology, loses its magical quality.  Tolkien is careful to keep most of  the details of his magic well off stage, and that is a great virtue.