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When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon and conquered Rome to become a dictator I think in history class it seems like it’s taught that he wanted to become “ruler of the world” or something like that. I think all that Caesar wanted is to not be prosecuted by Cato, which would have happened. The way the Roman Republic was set up is that they elected two counsels every year who ruled the land much as our president does, while their roman senate which was not elected and met in session to pass laws, there was another branch of government, the praetors which were the judges of the republic and considered part of the legislative arm of government were the Tribunes which were elected directly by the plebeians. So they had the exact equivalent of Senate, House, Judicial and Executive branches. If this feels familiar to American’s government it should. The founding fathers got their idea for American democracy directly from the Republic of Rome. Not the bible, not Greece’s democracy (which was substantially different and had much stronger protections against tyrants with their system of ostracism) but the Roman Republic. One puzzle of the way the Roman Republic was set up is why they insisted that the two Consuls were impervious to any and all crimes while in office. They had perfect immunity. Is that really good for a democracy that the first man in Rome can break all the laws and never be prosecuted? The alternative however would be that if the consuls could be prosecuted and put in jail . . . . that would happen for political reasons. Something would get trumped up. So there Julius Caesar was on the Rubicon waiting to cross. He would have to disband his army and then because he would no longer be consul he would be subject to prosecution and to be sure he would then spend the rest of his life either in jail or exile. In politics you make enemies. America has this same exact same sort of setup. Our consul (the president) is immune from prosecution for better or worse while in office. Would our democracy be better or worse if you could prosecute the president? For Rome at least it led to the inevitable rise of the Empire of Rome, because for Caesar to give up immunity of prosecution was intolerable. That’s why he crossed the Rubicon. Not to become dictator and end Rome’s democracy, but because he didn’t want to go to jail.


You can’t convince people or change their minds. Argument for the purpose of changing minds is really not about logic or arguments or facts, it’s really just a spectator sport. If you know my television tastes, my favorite show is no question “Ancient Aliens.” It is amazing. Of course none of it is “true” but that isn’t why I watch tv, it’s entertainment. Anyway, let me get to the point. There is something called the “Majestic Twelve” what a great name right? This is one of my favorite coverup/conspiracy theories. Let me copy from the wiki:

“Majestic 12 (or MJ-12) is the code name of a secret committee of scientists, military leaders, and government officials, formed in 1947 by an executive order by U.S. President Harry S. Truman to facilitate recovery and investigation of alien spacecraft. The concept originated in a series of leaked secret government documents first circulated by ufologists in 1984.”

Now, here’s the best part. There is some sort of stamp or water mark or font something like that and when you date this, it turns out it’s not from 1947. Instead it’s from later on. So the document is debunked right? There is no such thing as the “Majestic Twelve” right? Can you guess what the people who believe in the Majestic Twelve say about this? If you can guess it then you also understand why it’s impossible to change someone’s mind. You can’t do it. Impossible. Anyway, what the Ancient Alien Theorists (a wonderful title by the way, full of meaning but carrying no credentials) say about this is (to paraphrase): “Is it possible to create a better false flag? If you wanted to deceive people and get them to believe that the Majestic Twelve doesn’t exist, what better way than to create a hoax document, put it out there, and then when it’s discovered it’s a hoax, use that hoax to debunk those who believe in the Majestic Twelve.”

So the debunked document is actually proof that the Majestic Twelve exist after all.

If you want to watch this particular Ancient Aliens episode it’s Season 12, Episode 9, “The Majestic Twelve”.

And now you know what I watch on television instead of “Game of Thrones.”

So I’ve been on a little Ethel Merman kick recently. I think we all know just how much composers like Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Stephen Soundheim, loved her. They wrote parts for her, they insisted on having her play leads for their plays, and well, at this point in history, it begs the question “Why?” Because her voice is a braying voice, huge as a donkey and just as annoying, a huge vibrato, and no sense at all of warmth in the voice it’s as they say in Spinal Tap “Goes up to 11″ only for Ethel Merman it starts at 11 and stays there all day. If you read contemporary accounts or have seen her in person apparently it was an great thing, her voice would actually touch your whole body and you could hear her all the way from the back. Yet that can’t be all the story. Why is it that the broadway greats insisted on Ethel? There were voices just as big, but so much more wonderful, full of warmth and sensitivity yet able to fill a hall just as much, for instance, Judy Garland. Of course, Judy came a bit after Ethel, Judy being born in 1922 while Ethel was born in 1909 and Merman had a chance to be a love interest for Bing Crosby in “Anything Goes” in 1936 with Bing. In the Bing and Ethel duet, Bing’s voice is completely lost as Ethel goes full volume right away and drowns him out. But it’s Bing’s sort of voice that as a movie goer I think we want to year in a duet, not Ethel’s. That sort of braying is best left for a live broadway play when there’s no amplification. So that question reminds. Why did they love her so? I have my own theory and it has to do with how hard she worked. Ethel would be on time, sing the entire part, every day every night go to sleep get up and do it again over and over, never missing a day. I think that’s what they loved about her the most. Because no matter how good your play is, what good is it if the star of your play is sick, can’t sing, or just moody? Ethel always showed up and always sang at 11, always sang in tune, and that was always more important to them than little things like quality of the voice. With Judy for instance you were lucky to get 2 performances out of her before she couldn’t continue. Anyway that’s my theory. I suppose it’s possible they actually liked the tonal qualities of her voice but that doesn’t seem possible to me.

just want to share one graph and explain it a little


This is from, from here:

What the curvy lines, the CRESST, CDMSlite PandaX and Lux lines are the constraints from direct detection, if you google the various acronyms above you can find out more about the experiments, but mostly they are large underground tanks of various substances which should be able to detect dark matter and of course they detect neutrinos too.  You might think, well if the universe is so full of dark matter what is the problem detecting it.  The thing is we don’t live in empty space we live right next to this huge ball of gas called the sun.  There is another weakly interacting particle that comes from the sun and a few orders of magnitude more of neutrinos pass through our body every second compared to dark matter.  I did the calculation a while ago, so while there might be 100 billion or so neutrinos passing through the human body every second there are “only” a few billion dark matter particles passing through our body every second.

That gray thing in the graph called the “v floor” is the theoretical lowest limit that dark matter detectors can go.  At that point due to neutrino scattering you can’t go any lower.


Ok, now look at that Z portal g=1, that is the model which we have been using ever since dark matter was discovered in order to calculate from the microwave background radiation how the universe grew.   This is a log chart.   That model . . . . which we still use, because we don’t really have any simple alternative, is about 1,000,000 times higher than our current direct detection limits.  We should have found wimps a long long time ago.  But nothing has been found.

I had always figured that we could just build bigger and bigger wimp detectors here on earth but it looks like we are almost at the limit and no dark matter particles have detected at all and while I guess it can still be found in that tiny little slice it doesn’t seem likely at this point.

It seems that the only way to go forward now for dark matter detection now that we have almost reached the limit is astrophysical observations.

Go read the link above for more, it’s a short read.

So if you follow them sciency blogs and videos you will know that there’s been a big push among those who study ancient homonids to ascribe human hairlessness to persistence hunting. Barefoot running enthusiasts take this evidence and run with it in their promotion of daily long distance barefoot running. I tend to think that it’s more evidence of lack of imagination than a real theory about why we are hairless. Right now we have a few theories, for instance, the aquatic ape, hairlessness to protect against lice, and persistence hunting. We also used have to a theory that clothing could have caused hairlessness but thanks to lice studies and human genetics we know humans were naked until a few hundred thousand or so years ago but being hairless goes way further back, 1.2 or so million years ago. The reason we can figure out pretty exactly when it happened is thanks to some incredible advances in human genetics.  If you shave a chimp you will notice that he is pale under his fur.   When humans lost their fur, they also had to develop dark pigmentation to protect against UV damage from the sun.  Scientists have been able to study all the genes for skin color but of interest is MC1R.  By studying genetic drift and working backwards, scientists have been able to put the time when we lost our fur as 1.2 million years ago.   So the theory that clothing has anything to do with it us becoming hairless is out.  This has left the persistence hunter theory as front and center.  I think however, that there are just too many other things that could have happened too many other possibilities things that we haven’t really studied yet for  persistence hunting to become the default explanation.  For one persistence hunting is terribly risky.   You use up tremendous amount of calories running that much so if you have a success rate of less than 50% you are losing calories.   What is more, if you hunt in a larger group, the success rate has to be almost 100%.   There’s also the problem of running that far and then having your prey taken away by other predators.   So I’m not a huge fan of persistence running as the only or even primary reason for us becoming hairless.  I think there should be many more theories about why we lost our fur.   Not just these handful but many more possibilities.  For instance, how about fire?  We also know that fire was invented between 1 million and 2 million years ago but at the time we first captured fire we probably didn’t know how to create it just how to keep it burning if we found it from a thunderstrike.  I’m not suggesting that the fire caught early hominids fur on fire so that’s where the selective pressure is.  I presume that if a spark caught a bit of your fur on fire as an early hominid you would know enough about how to put it out.  I think it might have been more like, well suppose there was a hominid that lacked some of the hair of his fellow tribe.  He would want to keep the fire burning all the time well because it’s cold at night even in Africa.   He would keep it burning, bank it at night, bring it up again in the moring.  So maybe the rest of the tribe would not care too much,  but since there’s already a fire going then they would cook their food with it.  There have been recent studies which show that the caloric values of cooked vs raw foods is incorrect.  Raw foods give you about half the amount of calories as cooked foods, so cooking foods would give the tribe with a fire keeper a significant evolutionary advantage.   I’m not saying this is the right theory, but I just think that the persistence hunting theory has really gained too much ground recently and there need to be more theories, more ideas.   The reason more theories help us is that a new theory will give scientists who study hominids new ideas to test and perhaps show a path back to why humans became hairless 1.2 million years ago.

so I was in Cincinatti last month. Cincinnati the city named after Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus. And so I learned a bit more about him after looking at his statue there along the Ohio river.

First of all, anyone who tells you that George Washington based his life on the bible, nope. How about George Washington basing his life after the western ideals of the enlightenment, like Hume. Nope. George Washington looked back towards Ancient Rome. No, not the Rome you see in the movies. Not Julius Caesar. George Washington would have helped Brutus guide the dagger in and good riddance to a dictator. No, George Washington (along with many other founding fathers) based his morals and convictions on the ancient Roman Republic and in particular on the life of Cincinnatus. In 458 BC the tribe of Italians called the Aequi threatened to destroy the nascent roman republic. Rome was in desperate danger with the army besieged. The senators fell into a panic and authorized a dictator and nominated Cincinattus giving him absolute power for a period of six months. The senators went to Cincinattus finding him ploughing his field. Cincinattus marched to relieve the army and saved Rome. Fifteen days afterwards he disbanded the army and returned to the plow. This is the hero George Washington looked up to. I have heard that one reason George Washington decided to continue leading the continental army despite calls for his resignation after he lost New York city to the British and the terrible crisis of the army in 1776 is if Washington resigned from his post he would never be able to lay down his arms like Cincinattus. So it was in 1783 when the new born USA achieved independence that George Washington resigned from his post as commander-in-chief despite calls for him to remain in charge for the rest of his life.

To be honest I’m not sure if that’s how I think a government should run. You know on the honor of men. On their principles. Because no matter what you can’t always have a good man in charge. So yes, it was nice that George Washington led by example and followed the ideals of Cincinattus but I think you need more than that you need to codify this sort of ideal put it into laws and force the leaders to obey them. After all, even though George Washington could have remained president for life he gave up his post there after 2 terms, and it wasn’t until FDR abused his position by winning elections for 4 consecutive terms that congress passed the 22nd amendment limited the elected president to two terms. I think that’s how you want to do it.  Codify it and force the leaders to obey the law, not just rely on their honor.  George Washington, Cincinattus, they both led by example, showing what can happen if you give absolute power to someone who willingly gives it up when the job is done. You have to admire that but also recognize how rare to have this sort of leader.

The amount of energy you receive from the earth is the projected area times the solar constant times 1-albedo, or pi r^2 * K * (1-albedo), the amount you emit is going to be proportional to this boltzman equation times the surface area of the earth, or 4 pi r^2.  The earth in other words receives the projected area in solar radiation, which makes sense and radiates it out from the entire earth a sphere.   If you set the E(emitted) = E(absorbed) notice that the pi r^2 factors cancel out and you are just left with the factor of four.  The boltzman equation just means that the temperature is proportional to the temperature of the object to the 4th power.  Scientists knew about this back in the 1800’s, and in fact did this same calculation I’m doing now.  so let’s set up the equation, albedo is .31, solar constant at the earth’s radius is 1361 watts per meter squared and the stefan-boltzman constant is 5.67e-8 watts/m^2K^4

K  * (1-albedo) * pi r^2 = boltzman constant * T^4 * 4 pi r^2

1361 * .69 = 4 * 5.67e-8 T^4

T = 254K or -3F

Without greenhouse gases the earth would be -3F.  This is a very simple calculation and something we have known for hundreds of years.