Critical Structure Corruption

I got the blue screen of death on my old computer today, together with the title error message.  Microsoft immediately began its repairs.
It occurred to me that the same things was exactly what was wrong with my country: Critical Structure Corruption. Too bad I can't just push the resent button to flush all that corruption into the sewer.  Of course there wll be a chance in November, but Windows 10 is a lot quicker.

Distraction in his aspect

How to distract myself from horrors being done to my country has become a problem.  Some reading helps, but my latest John Grisham novel turns out to have a theme similar to much of the chaos Trump has unleashed: police overreach and out of control police violence.  That is just too topical.
Jigsaw puzzles are good, but hard on my elderly eyesight.
I've tried science fiction, but it isn't really doing it for me.  The old classics of the golden age I have mostly read and others are just a little too overcome by events.  The cyber punk themed stuff I find a bit tiresome - though I did like Neuromancer.  I keep searching for a writer I can really like.  If an author starts out with his own 500 word invented vocabulary, I usually give up in disgust.
So what about the hard stuff?
I have been looking into a few origin of life books, but I may need more chemistry.  The one I'm reading now is painfully slow at getting to any point.  The authors use the phrase "We will argue...&qu…

Things Fall Apart

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind...Proverbs 11:29
Tens of thousands of Americans are dying, and millions sickened, due to malice, incompetence, and stupidity of one man, with the acquiescence of  his corrupt and cowardly party.  That is bad, it is true, but I'm more upset about the roughly 40% of Americans who still applaud his fascist path of destruction through America.
Why so?  
For a few, I imagine, it is greed.  Trump has been good to the stock market and especially to the big hedge fund player who manipulate it.  He was lucky enough to catch three years of the boom that started under Obama.
For most, I think, it is anger.  Anger is lifeblood of fascism, though somewhat ironically, Trump and friends are the embodiment of the self dealing and corruption that is one of the things that they are angry about.  Of course a lot of that anger originates in racism.  Americans who have not completed college have had a rough three decades, and every demagogue knows tha…

Old Yeller - and the state of rhetoric

Joe Biden yelled at me for a while today.  I think he was talking about the economy, but it was hard to listen what with him yelling all the time.
Joe has been a professional politician since Demosthenes was in a short toga, so it is a little surprising that he never learned how to give a speech, or at least modulate his voice a little.  A loud voice of constant intensity is almost as soporific as its quiet counterpart, and lots more annoying.  Obama might have allowed one to get cat naps in the long pauses between words, but at least he displayed some animation and variety.
No doubt Biden wants to counter Trump's claims that he is "sleepy" but, Joe, Joe, this is not the way to do it.
Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand thus, but use all gently, for in the very torrent, tempest, and (as I …

Minimum Wage

Economic theory says that in a competitive economy for workers, an increase in the minimum wage should cause job losses.  Experience of minimum wage increases in various US States and in the UK shows that this has not been the case.
Why not?  The most reasonable explanation is monopsony, theequivalent of monopoly power in employment opportunities.  Much other data shows that this indeed the case.  Anne Case and Angus Deaton discuss the details and implications in their book Deaths of Despair.
When labor markets are competitive, a government-imposed minimum wage that is higher than the going wage will cause employers to lay off workers. This is what the economics textbooks commonly say. There have been many studies that have looked for such outcomes. Although the federal minimum wage has not increased since 2009, many states have raised their state minimum wage since then, providing many opportunities for studying the effects. The most comprehensive and persuasive study to date, by the e…

The Meaning of Life

One View:
Our contention is that, despite the remarkable complexity of living order, the aggregate function of the biosphere is a simple one: it opens a channel for energy flow through a domain of organic chemistry that would otherwise be inaccessible to planetary processes.
Smith, Eric. The Origin and Nature of Life on Earth (p. 28). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition. 
This has implications for the probability of life occurring on other planets and in the Universe.  The alternate view is that its origin on Earth was something of a freak accident.
The fundamental idea is that free energy flows tend to create complexity, and that life is something of a phase change, or perhaps a series of phase changes.

Origin of Life on Earth

A great mystery is how living matter can be created from nonliving. This puzzle is so deep that many creationists  insist that it could not happen by natural means, and required direct intervention of a creator.  Of course zillions of cells manage the feat every day, without any obvious supernatural assistance, but they do have the benefit of an army of cellular machines which are exquisitely designed for the purpose, machines which are manufactured by the cells themselves, from blueprints stored in their DNA.
So how did the whole intricate process arise? The trick is to get enough of the cellular apparatus in place for something like evolution to take place.
Cellular life requires both metabolism and heredity as a minimum, but together they pose something of a chicken and egg problem.  In modern cells neither can exist without the other, but which came first?
Of course such questions are not yet answerable so they are controversial among researchers.  Also controversial is the crucial q…