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Nuclear Unicorn

Nuclear Unicorn's Journal
Nuclear Unicorn's Journal
March 3, 2015

Scientists take the first ever photograph of light as both a wave and a particle

Scientists take the first ever photograph of light as both a wave and a particle


It's been over 100 years and every experiment with light that any scientist has ever performed proves that light either behaves as a wave or that light behaves as a particle, but never both at the same time. No one has glimpsed both states simultaneously until now.


Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/image-of-light-as-a-wave-and-a-particle-2015-3#ixzz3THGzleMG

No matter how you look at it, from the grandest structures to the tiniest elements, the universe is a thing of resounding beauty.
March 1, 2015

X-post: Inside The Conservative Campaign To Stop Cops From Enforcing Federal Gun Laws

Inside The Conservative Campaign To Stop Cops From Enforcing Federal Gun Laws


States are passing "nullification laws" that effectively prevent the enforcement of federal laws, particularly gun laws. How the hell can that be?

"Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, was involved in writing the first draft of that (nullification) bill. He said he discussed the concept in 2009 while waiting to appear on Glenn Beck's Fox News show with Andrew Napolitano, the senior judicial analyst for Fox News, in New York City. As Marbut remembers it, Napolitano told him: "All you need to do is don't help enforce these federal laws, because they don't have the manpower to do it."

This can happen because in 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in Printz v. United States that the federal government cannot force local chief law enforcement officers to fulfill federal tasks. The gun nutz are counting on "small government" to allow them to flaunt federal laws. Well, there's more ways than one to skin that cat.

Montana receives $1.55 in federal revenues for every $1.00 it sends to Washington in the form of taxes. Wonder what happens to Montana's economy if that drops to, say, $.50? It seems that Red states are much more dependent on the federal trough than Blue states: http://wallethub.com/edu/states-most-least-dependent-on-the-federal-government/2700/

Just close down a couple of military bases, cut off federal subsidies for grazing or mining on federal lands and see how long they can hold out. It can be a bitch when you bite the hand that feeds you.


It's not about safety, it's about control. Here is a wholly unrelated USSC precedent set in 1997 and the response is to disregard the rule of law and extort people.

So much for the myth of the law-abiding gun grabber.

When the inevitable and wholly predictable counterpoint about marijuana legalization was raised the only response was to shout louder and pound the table harder.
March 1, 2015

So Scott Walker and Rand Paul have each won separate polls.

This seems to speak to me the GOP is prepared to make a significant move to the right in 2016.

That being said, does that give the Democratic party the space to move further left or dos that create a vacuum in the middle for a more centrist position?

Frankly, I would be at a loss if I were asked to find a single potential Democratic candidate that was NOT solid on the issues of gender issues, social justice, marriage equality, immigration reform, economic equality, etc. The question then becomes: How much of the unclaimed middle do we need to worry about if the GOP is pushing hard and fast to the right?

If the GOP jettisons the centrists and independents do we really need to dilute our positions in order to win them or should we fight for what we know are the best policies? Do we really need to coddle corporations while trying to explain away the embarrassments of past military adventurism?

We keep hearing that over zealous demands of purity will be our undoing but if the GOP is going undiluted RW what better opportunity will we see again to get the best of the best?

February 28, 2015

X-Post: "Gun Rights for Terrorists"

Gun Rights for Terrorists


"Protective measures include the tracking of travel patterns to and from certain countries, and tightened airport security, but our laws do nothing to stop domestic terrorist suspects from gaining access to the tools they need to inflict terrible damage. Those on the terror watch list are free to buy and own unlimited firearms in the United States.

And it is well documented that they do. The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, recently reported that between February 2004 and December 2014, individuals on the watch list attempted to purchase firearms or explosives on 2,233 occasions — and more than 90 percent of the time, they cleared a background check and received approval to buy.

In fact, only a very small percentage of the roughly one million people on the international terror watch list are American citizens. Among the objective criteria that cause someone to be listed are active membership in an organization devoted to jihad, a record of transfers of money to a terrorist organization, and the incitement of acts of terrorism.

Gun lobby opposition has also played a part in earlier failures to address the problem. A small, extremist sliver of the gun-owning population (including the leadership of the National Rifle Association) opposes any limitations — even a restriction of terror suspects’ right to arm themselves."


Yep, law abiding citizens all.


Apparently the child in the picture is a jihadist that has traveled to numerous foreign lands and poses a terrorist threat.

No discussion as to whether of not the one million people on the watch list deserve to be there; just an assumption that they are guilty and therefore should be stripped of their civil rights without due process. If it were a RWer making this argument people would be howling that this was nothing more than an effort to stir-up Islamophobia and they would be right.

Yet, here we are, being fed the guilty-Muslim-until-proven-innocent line and, moreover, we're being told that in order to combat this nefarious evil lurking in the shadows we must restrict the rights of all people -- even those who never travel to nations on the watch list.

Of course, one has to also wonder: What good would even a total prohibition do if someone is prepared to engage in an act of war on US soil? Have terrorists, of any stripe, been thwarted in their ability to gain the weapons of their choosing whether guns, bombs or carpet razors?
February 28, 2015

The gun control argument you never see presented

You don't need a gun. Law enforcement has a proven track record that shows they respond promptly and decisively to budding crimes. Response times have decreased so dramatically that you can often have a police officer on-scene sooner than you could run to the bedroom to retrieve a pistol from storage.

Moreover, the police have shown themselves to be courteous, service-minded professionals that work towards bettering their communities. They take seriously their sacred charge to serve and protect the citizens of their districts.

All in all, the ability of the police to interdict criminals before any real harm can be done is high enough to make the risks associated with gun ownership substantially higher than the risks of summoning the police and patiently awaiting their immediate arrival.

I would think this would be the best argument out there. Yet, no one seems to argue that point.

I wonder why that is?
February 28, 2015

Boris Nemtsov, Putin Foe, Is Shot Dead in Shadow of Kremlin

Boris Nemtsov, Putin Foe, Is Shot Dead in Shadow of Kremlin

MOSCOW — Boris Y. Nemtsov, a prominent Russian opposition leader and former first deputy prime minister, was shot dead Friday evening in central Moscow in the highest-profile assassination in Russia during the tenure of President Vladimir V. Putin.

The shooting, on a bridge near Red Square, under the towering domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral, ended Mr. Nemtsov’s two-decade career as a champion of democratic reforms, beginning in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, and just days before he was to lead a rally to protest the war in Ukraine.

Mr. Putin condemned the killing, the Kremlin said, and Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said the president would personally lead the investigation.


uh huh
February 25, 2015

Arming America

One of the reasons I enjoy this board so much is that so many of the discussions focus on substantive, evidence-based arguments.

Recently Michael Bellisiles became a topic of discussion and that prompted me to learn more about his "work."

The things one learns --

Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture is a discredited 2000 book by Michael A. Bellesiles on American gun culture. The book is an expansion of a 1996 Journal of American History article that uses falsified research to argue that guns were uncommon during peacetime in early United States and that a culture of gun ownership arose only much later.

It initially won the prestigious Bancroft Prize, but later became the first book in that prize's history to have its award rescinded. The revocation occurred after Columbia University's Board of Trustees decided that Bellesiles had "violated basic norms of scholarship and the high standards expected of Bancroft Prize winners."[1]


The central theme of Arming America is that United States' gun culture arose after the Civil War and that contrary to myth, it did not have its roots in United States's colonial and frontier eras. The book holds that guns were uncommon during peacetime in the United States during the colonial, early national, and antebellum periods, when guns were little used and the average American's proficiency in use of firearms was poor. Bellesiles maintains that more widespread use and ownership of guns dates to the Civil War following advances in manufacturing and a consequent reduction in price and improvement in accuracy.


The book garnered many enthusiastic professional reviews and won the prestigious Bancroft Prize in 2001. Because the book's thesis bore upon ongoing political controversies about gun control and the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, gun rights advocates immediately attacked it. Actor Charlton Heston, then-president of the National Rifle Association, called the book's argument "ludicrous".[2] Conversely, a review by Roger Lane in the Journal of American History called the book's research “meticulous and thorough,” and wrote that Bellesiles had "attacked the central myth behind the National Rifle Association's interpretation of the Second Amendment". Lane declared Bellesiles’s evidence so formidable that "if the subject were open to rational argument", the debate would be over.[3]

Clayton Cramer, a historian, software engineer, gun enthusiast and early critic of Bellesiles, later argued that the reason "why historians swallowed Arming America's preposterous claims so readily is that it fit into their political worldview so well... Arming America said things, and created a system of thought so comfortable for the vast majority of historians, that they didn’t even pause to consider the possibility that something wasn’t right."[4] Historian Peter Charles Hoffer, himself an advocate of gun control, lent support to Cramer's charge when, in a 2004 examination of the Bellesiles case, he noted that influential members of the historical profession had indeed "taken strong public stands on violence in our society and its relation to gun control."[5] For instance, the academics solicited for blurbs by Bellesiles’s publisher Alfred A. Knopf "were ecstatic in part because the book knocked the gun lobby."[6]

Bellesiles energized this professional consensus by attempting to play "the professors against the NRA in a high-wire act of arrogant bravado."[7] For instance, he replied to Heston’s criticism by telling the actor to earn a Ph.D. before criticizing the work of scholars.[8] He pointed out that Cramer was "a long time advocate of unrestricted gun ownership" while he himself was a simple scholar who had "certain obligations of accuracy that transcend current political benefit."[9] After Bellesiles claimed he had been flooded by hate mail, both the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians endorsed a resolution condemning the alleged harassment.[10] As Hoffer later wrote, Bellesiles was convinced that whether the entire profession agreed with “his stance on gun ownership (and I suspect most did), surely academic historians would not let their expertise be impugned by a rank and partisan amateur like Cramer.” [11]

In the end, however, the politics of the issue mattered less to historians "than the possibility that Bellesiles might have engaged in faulty, fraudulent, and unethical research."[12] As critics subjected the historical claims of the book to close scrutiny, they demonstrated that much of Bellesiles' research, particularly his handling of probate records, was inaccurate and possibly fraudulent.[13] This criticism included noting several serious errors in the tables published in The Journal of American History article, namely, that they did not provide a total number of cases and gave percentages that "were clearly wrong."[14]

In two scholarly articles,[15][16] law professor James Lindgren of Northwestern University noted that in Arming America, Bellesiles had
##purported to count guns in about a hundred wills from 17th- and 18th-century Providence, Rhode Island, but these did not exist because the decedents had died intestate (i.e., without wills);
##purported to count nineteenth-century San Francisco County probate inventories, but these had been destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire;
##reported a national mean for gun ownership in 18th-century probate inventories that was mathematically impossible;
##misreported the condition of guns described in probate records in a way that accommodated his thesis;
##miscited the counts of guns in nineteenth-century Massachusetts censuses and militia reports,
##had more than a 60% error rate in finding guns listed as part of estates in Vermont records; and
##had a 100% error rate in the cited gun-related homicide cases of seventeenth-century Plymouth, MA.

Critics also identified problems with Bellesiles's methods of citation. Cramer noted that Bellesiles had misrepresented a passage by George Washington about the quality of three poorly prepared militia units as if his criticism applied to the militia in general. (Washington had noted that the three units were exceptions to the rule.)[17] Cramer wrote, "It took me twelve hours of hunting before I found a citation that was completely correct. In the intervening two years, I have spent thousands of hours chasing down Bellesiles’s citations, and I have found many hundreds of shockingly gross falsifications."[4]

Emory investigation and resignation[edit]

As criticism grew and charges of scholarly misconduct were made, Emory University conducted an internal inquiry into Bellesiles's integrity, appointing an independent investigative committee composed of three leading academic historians from outside Emory.[18] Bellesiles failed to provide investigators with his research notes, claiming the notes were destroyed in a flood.[19]

The scholarly investigation confirmed that Bellesiles's work had serious flaws, calling into question both its quality and veracity. The external report on Bellesiles concluded that "every aspect of his work in the probate records is deeply flawed" and called his statements in self-defense "prolix, confusing, evasive, and occasionally contradictory." It concluded that "his scholarly integrity is seriously in question."[20]

Bellesiles disputed these findings, claiming to have followed all scholarly standards and to have corrected all errors of fact known to him. Nevertheless, with his "reputation in tatters," Bellesiles issued a statement on October 25, 2002, announcing the resignation of his professorship at Emory by year's end.[21]

Aftermath of the scandal[edit]

In 2002, the trustees of Columbia University rescinded Arming America's Bancroft Prize, the first such action in the history of the prize. Alfred A. Knopf, publisher of Arming America, did not renew Bellesiles's contract, and the National Endowment for the Humanities withdrew its name from a fellowship that the Newberry Library had granted Bellesiles.[22] In 2003, Arming America was republished in a revised and amended edition by Soft Skull Press. Bellesiles continued to defend the book's credibility and thesis, arguing that roughly three-quarters of the original book remained unchallenged.[23]

Historians who initially admired Arming America ceased to defend Bellesiles. The nationally prominent historian Garry Wills, who had enthusiastically reviewed Arming America for the New York Times,[24] later said, in a 2005 interview on C-SPAN, "I was took. The book is a fraud." Wills noted that Bellesiles "claimed to have consulted archives he didn't and he misrepresented those archives," although "he didn't have to do that," since "he had a lot of good, solid evidence." Wills added, "People get taken by very good con men."[25]

Historian Roger Lane, who had reviewed the book positively in the Journal of American History,[26] offered a similar opinion: "It is entirely clear to me that he's made up a lot of these records. He's betrayed us. He's betrayed the cause. It's 100 percent clear that the guy is a liar and a disgrace to my profession. He's breached that trust."[27] Historian Pauline Maier reflected that it seemed historians had "ceased to read carefully and critically, even in the awarding of book prizes."[28]

As Hoffer concluded, "Bellesiles's condemnation by Emory University, the trustees of the Bancroft Prizes, and Knopf provided the gun lobby with information to blast the entire history profession....Even though H-Law, the Omohundro Institute, the OAH, and the AHA rushed to his side and stated principled objections to the politicization of history, they hesitated to ask the equally important question of whether he had manipulated them and betrayed their trust."[29]


February 24, 2015

Apparently Keith Olbermann has been suspended

Story here -- http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2015/02/24/espns-keith-olbermann-suspended-over-penn-state-thon-tweets/

Apparently, he got into a twitter fight and emerged triumphantly. However, he shall not be escorted around the studio in a golf cart pulled by white stallions while an intern holds aloft a laurel and whispers, "Remember, thou art contracted! Remember, thou art contracted!"

Instead, finding his comments unduly abrasive, ESPN has suspended Mr. Olbermann.

When the Phil Robertson kerfuffle was all the rage I said it was as bad a policy to have private entities censor people as much as it is a bad idea to have government entities censor people. I was excoriated for picking the wrong side of the issue and anyway private entities cannot censor people.

And I'm a hater, or something.

Well, now the unchecked corporatist power has once again reared its ugly head and now it has devoured one of our own. The turn of events was wholly predictable. In the process of trying to silence one voice we have provided the very same gag that will be used to silence our own voices and we have asked -- nay -- DEMANDED! that this power be exercised against us at the first hint of controversy.

I'm not sure how to stuff this corporatist djinni back into its bottle but it needs to be done -- and fast. I get it, Robertson et al are repugnant but the tree of Liberty must sometimes be fertilized with the droppings of BS'ers but it is the only tree that will bear the true fruit of liberalism.

February 24, 2015

ISIS Burns 8000 Rare Books and Manuscripts in Mosul

ISIS Burns 8000 Rare Books and Manuscripts in Mosul

While the world was watching the Academy Awards ceremony, the people of Mosul were watching a different show. They were horrified to see ISIS members burn the Mosul public library. Among the many thousands of books it housed, more than 8,000 rare old books and manuscripts were burned.

“ISIS militants bombed the Mosul Public Library. They used improvised explosive devices,” said Ghanim al-Ta'an, the director of the library. Notables in Mosul tried to persuade ISIS members to spare the library, but they failed.


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