Category Archives: Politics

My latest rants and insights on political events. The rigors of editing and footnotes are what prevent me from writing. So don’t expect anything polished here. My main objective here is to get my thoughts out into words.

How Game of Thrones will end *massive spoilers*

Been meaning to write this one for a while now, but the first episode of season 7 really confirmed all my major theories about the story arc.

Let’s begin, like season 7, with Arya.  The interesting thing about Arya’s mass-assassination of the Freys  is she says “Tell them Winter came for them.”  This gives it away.  Arya, by taking a face of the dead to haunt the living, mimics the tactics of the Night King.  Like the Night King, her vengeance can be all-reaching.  And the faceless men are much like the zombie hordes – nameless, faceless, with one singular purpose.  This is how the story segues from the battle among the kingdoms to the battle with the Night King.  This may also have to do with anything the Faceless Men do in the Stronghold.  Surely they must research the origins of their magic and how they can find deliverance from the Night King.  But enough about that.

I also figured Arya would be the one to assassinate Cersei.  But I’m surprised nobody else has mentioned my angle, that taking the face of Walter Frey is a foreshadowing of how she’ll do it.  Cersei’s madness is onsetting, as her conversation with Jaime attests.  She will surely suspect he is to repeat history and be King(Queen)slayer yet again, and off him before he gets a chance.  Arya will then use his face to haunt her, claiming he’s back from the dead.  This weakness for Jaime and what she’s done will let Arya kill her easily.

But not without massive guilt.  You know, the kind that will have the Night King come straight for her.

Notice in the “next episode” teaser, Arya encounters her dire wolf again.  She’s the only Stark who really still needs her Dire Wolf, which is a sort of Patronus for the children to help see them through their innocent years.  Contrast it with Sansa’s dire wolf, which gets offed pretty quickly – forcing her to grow up quickly and face the reality of grownup politics.

Arya has been an innocent child trapped in the machinations of grownups her whole life.  She thought she met a nice guy in Jaquen H’Ghar, but he’s really just an agent for the Iron Bank.  Her assassination of Cersei was something planned by the Bank, because the Lannisters couldn’t pay their debts.  Once the assassination is complete she is of new use to them and her downward spiral will be quick.

Some suggest she might warg into her Dire Wolf to avoid being taken by the Night King.  I find this a fitting bittersweet ending – her eternal innocence saved by melding with the spirit of the wild.

Now – how will the war play out?  The Iron Bank and Cersei gives a good clue into how the Kingdoms will spar.  The secret to the crown is nobody has a monopoly on it.  Each kingdom has a certain dimension of power and stake in it:

Braavos: purse (Iron Bank)
Ironborn: navy (ironborn fleet)
Mereen: army (unsullied)
Dorn: fertility (Elia Martell)
Westeros/Tyrells: food
Vale: knights
North: popularity/memory

If you take a closer look at the seven aspects of the Septem, you will probably be able to chart a simple 1-1 ratio between these dimensions.  The Septem therefore becomes the spiritual recording of this ancient connection between the kingdoms.  Cersei’s destruction of the Septem destroys the old shadow of this relationship, and paves the way for it to be rebuilt anew.

So that’s how they will play out, and they will only find a resolution when each kingdom finds its proper role restored in the crown, whoever manages it.

Now, as to Jon Snow.  We know he’s special.  I think he’s Azor Ahai.  If you remember, Aegon Targaryen had two sister wives.  Jon Snow has two living half sisters – Sansa Stark and Danerys Targaryen.  Ice and Fire.  He will ride the dragons with them against the Night King.

Of course, Snow will also need a badass flaming Valyrian sword.  He will get it – through the willing sacrifice of the Red Priestess.  She will find redemption for her life of error only by becoming the fiery spirit of the sword.

I always found Sansa’s development to be beautifully understated.  As is the nature of ice.  We already see her cold calculating command in this first episode.  She knows exactly what Baelish wants and knows how to control him with it.  Baelish, the man nobody else trusts.  She is the perfect counterpart to Danerys’s fiery temperament.

More in a bit.



I mailed Barack a clock

I mailed Barack Obama the remnants of a clock I built with an Arduino, some electronic components and a USB battery.  Here’s the accompanying letter:

Dear Barack Obama,

Enclosed please find the remnants of a clock I built.  Your meeting with Ahmed Clockboy inspired me to create this and show it off Halloween 2015.  If you check my Instagram, you’ll see videos and pictures of the working model.  I’m really proud of what I built, and I figured I should give you a tutorial about what to look for, to distinguish between an honest science project and a bomb hoax.

First, notice the breadboard, with wires and resistors attached.  Also notice the component seven-segment LED display.  This has pins which fit into a breadboard.  Contrast this with Clockboy’s clock, which was just a gutted consumer model.  No breadboard, all premade circuitboards and wiring bundle, prefabricated display.

Also, notice the Arduino.  Any electronics science project would have a processing core like an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi.  You can then download a programming package to it, wire it up to electronic components like the LED, and watch the magic.  All put together, it was a self-contained, self-powered clock.  It taught me a lot about how to program an Arduino.

I say this because your meeting Ahmed and defending him over what was an obvious political stunt with no scientific merit really left me scratching my head.  Nobody who has any kind of technical background saw any scientific or educational value in what he did.  They all saw through the fraud.

I was so embarrassed by your lack of insight, I even wrote a presidential apology for you, which I’ve included.  So I wondered, I, a lifelong Democrat who voted for you twice, why you?  Why did you believe it?  And then it dawned on me.  Like attracts like.

Yes, Barack, I see it now.  You too are a fraud.  Just like this Clockboy.  And now everything makes sense.  Every statistic you quoted about restoring jobs, getting rid of terrorism, making the world safer, it’s all lies.  The more I dug down into the statistics you quoted, the more I found Potemkin Villages of data.  Every facial expression, every cause you support, every attack you make, all calculated frauds.

So in a way, maybe this Clock really is a bomb.  It is the bomb that blew up everything people believed in you, your entire legacy.  Leaving you, and the Democratic party I’m leaving, nothing but a hulking wreckage of a fraud.

Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

Considering a congressial run in the GOP

FINALLY! A Secular non-tea-party Republican has run a successful campaign!

I know. Record screeching to a halt. What?  Yes.  Trump’s victory forever changed the GOP.  It dissolved both the Tea Party and the Evangelicals in one blow.  Yes, of course he made overtures to them during his campaign.  And he will fulfill promises to them.  But both Tea Party conservatives and hard evangelicals campaigned as hard against him with their #nevertrump as any Democrat.

Meanwhile, in his simple populist message Trump made inroads to Black and Latinos that have flummoxed the Republican party for decades.  He basically cracked the race code.  And I want to build on that.  Trump’s victory is a blow to PC culture which might actually grant us a real discussion among each other as Americans.  And I think that all peoples and races share some basic core values which make them natural Republicans.  Issues like family, Law and Order, Work Ethic, Public Service.

It’s these issues Trump laid the groundwork for.  If we can build on this, and really push forward a new Republican agenda of enlightened classic liberalism, we could go into the 21st century making it the greatest one yet.  And we can go into it with a consensus that really represents America.

Once again, California is a perfect starting point for this visionary future.

In his Victory, the Death of the Democrats

The Republicans reel from the dissolution of these wings which they depended on for their mass base.  But they will recover.  And they will come out stronger than before, ready to handle this century of challenges.  Already a new generation of anti-PC secularist militants sympathetic to Trump are organizing.  Mind you, these are not your leftist secularists.  We do not begrudge people their religion, we don’t attack their beliefs, in fact we enshrine their right to behave as they see fit.

The Democrats, unfortunately, are still saddled by their militant wings, which are pulling the party ever more into irrelevance.  One would think their base would see the error of their ways after Trump’s election, and drift away from identity politics and branding everyone and everything as a racist.  They are not, and in fact are doubling down on their politics.

But this is the symptom of a party that has been in power too long and has not needed to become self conscious.

I was a lifelong Democrat.  I worked for the Democrats in a number of campaigns, I see how they behave, especially in my home state of California.  I consider myself of the vein of such Democrats as Chuck Schumer, Jim Webb, and Jerry Brown.

But with Trump’s election, I’m flipping to the Republican party.  Because Trump effectively took over those wings of the Democrats, and now they are part of a GOP conversation.  I want to be a part of this dynamic conversation they are having.  The Democrats stopped having a conversation, and I fear there is not much for them as a party at this point.

This will be the first of many articles about my stances on various issues.  The major question at this point is how to run as a GOP candidate in California, which is effectively a one party state.  I would like to discuss how it became a one party state, how damaging this setup is to our politics and our society, and how we can reverse this trend.

Hillary’s E-mail Question

I should begin by saying I generally don’t consider issues like this “30,000 emails” thing.  I consider them theatrics for the masses, much like a politician’s sexual details or tax returns.  That being said, I’ve been running Exchange (Windows) mail servers for the past 15 years so I know a thing or two about how mail servers are run.  So watching this whole issue unfold brought up some interesting issues for me, with our government, with Hillary, and with what changes really need to happen in 2017.

The tipping point was when my wife and I were listening to an episode of This American Life which was trying to justify Hillary’s private e-mail server.  The basic premise was that this private e-mail server wasn’t some Machiavellian scheming on Hillary’s part, it was just a certain cluelessness and carelessness about a technology that the government hadn’t really adopted yet. I’d read some other justifications, like that it’s accepted protocol to destroy an old phone with a hammer.

First I’d like to debunk some of these justifications.  And first among those is smashing a phone with a hammer.  This is not just untrue, it shows real stupidity on the part of whoever decided to smash it.  Smashing a phone will just smash the plastic and glass, more than likely it won’t smash the flash memory on which sensitive data may reside.

Of course, in the private sector, business e-mail needs to be encrypted on a phone in such a way that it can never be retrieved if someone were to get the phone.  It technically doesn’t even sit on the phone.  And if a phone is stolen, the e-mail administrator has the ability to remote wipe it.  If you’d like to know more about that you can check out IBM’s MaaS360.

Second was Ira Glass’s charge that a lot of government officials use private e-mail accounts, citing Colin Powell’s use of an AOL account.  Now let’s get this straight, there is a huge difference between using a personal commercial e-mail address and hosting your e-mails on your own server.  An AOL account can be subpoenaed.  AOL follows proper data storage protocols, they can pull up any and all e-mails that ever went through their organization.  If Colin Powell were under investigation for something, the FBI could gain access to this.

Not only that, this is a compliance requirement of all private sector businesses.  I’d like to introduce you to an appliance I have personal experience with – the Barracuda Message Archiver.  All businesses with compliance requirements need something like this.  Any e-mail that goes in, out, or through the company gets passed through this archiver, to be stored for eternity.  Nobody gets away with deleting anything.

This is in addition to backups.  Without regular backups, Exchange simply doesn’t work.  You could technically skimp on the backups and keep a short retention history, but you can’t do that with the archiver.

So, my understanding is Hillary’s team made backups, even offsite backups, but didn’t archive.  The only way this could result in so many e-mails being deleted by chance is with some combination of deleting e-mails as they come in, and having a very short backup retention policy.  Which, if you’re going to keep backup retention that short, why even have them offsite?

Okay, so you see where I’m going with this?  Two possible stories surface here, both of which spell something scandalous.

  1. The traditional story that Hillary’s camp purposely used a private e-mail server so they could write each other e-mails outside the realm of scrutiny, knowing what they were doing was illegal.
  2. Government agencies do not have the compliance requirements of the private sector, which puts them above the laws they create. Hillary’s team’s carelessness about this is just a symptom of a much larger issue with a public sector that needs a tech overhaul.

Either story speaks of a scandal.

A quick way to vet which story is true is to find out what other senators, candidates, or any political officials run their operations with a private e-mail server.  But I have a hunch Hillary’s camp is unique in this behavior.  Really, e-mail is so much more complicated than a server.  Maybe 15 years ago we could get away with a simple server but we’ve been in the era of strict compliance and sophisticated spam filters for years now.  We generally talk of e-mail more in terms of systems than servers.  I haven’t even gotten into so many of the other features we have to keep in our e-mail organization.  Really, unless you’re an organization of at least a thousand people, it’s more efficient to outsource it.

Unless you have something to hide.

Alt Right Manifesto

A spectre is haunting the Internet – the spectre of Alt Right.  All the powers of the Internet have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise thie spectre: Government and Facebook, Buzzfeed and the clickbait mob, Democrats and Republicans.

Where is the outspoken Tweeter that has not been decried as Alt Right by a verified Twitter account?  Where is both the college radical and the government official that has not hurled back  the branding reproach of “Alt Right”?

Two things result from this fact:

  1. Alt Right is already acknlowledged by all Internet powers to be itself a power.
  2. It is high time that the Alt Right should openly, in the face of the whole internet, publish their view, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Alt Right with a manifesto of the internet tendency itself.

Bourgeois and Internet

Commoners continuously have fought for their own voice in our society, only to have their opinions coopted by established voices who quickly sold them out as they became valuable enough to do so.

And this history of the last twenty years has manifested itself in the history of the Internet.  Ever since the 60s, the baby boomer generation has held the mantle of “anti-society” and has taken their attitudes all the way to the major parties and the corporate boardrooms.  With this creep into established society, they have also crept into Silicon Valley and the helm of the Internet.

Thus Silicon Valley, which is now said to rival Wall Street itself in pure capital power, also has the heritage of the 60s.  But it is a heritage that keeps sticking to staler and staler ghosts of its rebel past.  The fact that the anti-vaccine craze has its center in Marin county should come as a surprise to nobody.  All the wealthiest benefactors of internet wealth live up there, a living contradiction of both being The Man and being Against The Man.

One need not look very far to see this tendency in all sorts of stale politics: transgender/LGBT politics, the GMO and anti-Vaccine craze, blaming a fictional past on all our woes, white guilt and the weird way it warps racial politics.

Now the Internet billionaires also ushered in an entirely new era – the era of decentralized communications.  But while they hailed this as a new era of equality, where anyone can talk to anyone, they also ingratiated themselves to all that was stale and old in our society:  Hollywood, the recording industry, governments seeking to promote globalist agendas.

This is why companies like Facebook and Twitter, despite their claims to democratize the national conversation, are becoming more egregiously partisan, blocking any conversation they deem against the globalist agenda.

The Proletarian Internet

While Silicon Valley has done everything it could to centralize the internet and bring people under its fold, voices have emerged and exploited the internet for their own dissident opinions.  It started as a sort of a crack in the dam.  When a proper liberal was supposed to champion things like “women are always right feminism” or pop psychology or liking any music that the radio stations threw your way, these people said NO.

I’ve seen such voices ever since the early 2000s.  Maddox was a good proto-champion of the Alt Right from the early days.  Not only did he have a dissident voice, his very platform was dissident.  To this day he still uses Xmission, some obscure, libertarian webhost in Utah.

Nor was this Alt Right confined to the Internet.  Jim Goad wrote the Redneck Manifesto, a good anthropology of working class America that stays clear of stale racial categories and in fact rebels against them.  It is from this seed of truth that the Buzzfeed article above builds its mountain of bullshit that Alt Right is about White Nationalism.

And if I may interject my own personal experience, it was in dealing with the GMO debate that I, a hitherto good liberal, decided to jump the train and speak out against what I saw was people just sticking with what would later become virtue signaling: speaking up about an issue they know nothing about, just to look cool to their peers.

Kony 2012 was a watershed moment in virtue signalling – when the slogan-based politics of the established left became so removed from reality that it was an Emperor’s New Clothes moment.

Gavin McInness and Rebel Media have also risen to internet fame as a member of the Alt Right.  He gives a good understanding of the 14 different types of conservatives.  While he has a rather narrow understanding of Alt Right himself, this is a good starting point for the understanding of who falls under this rather large, colorful umbrella of Alt Right.

Because, over the last couple years, such virtue signaling has come to a head.  Events like the 2014 Israel-Gaza war, Bruce Jenner becoming Catelyn Jenner, Ahmed Clockboy, Black Lives Matter.  And probably most of all, the unfettered Muslim immigration coming into Europe and all the devastating consequences it’s had for European Society.

And it is this last issue most of all where the battle lines are so clearly drawn.  The old 60s liberals that have become established are policing the Internet for people in power.  And the Alt Right seem to be the only ones that are opposing established views.

Milo Yiannopoulous, a gay conservative, has seen himself catapulted to the eye of this storm.  He’s considered a modern day champion of the Alt Right, taking such basic stances like Muslim immigration is dangerous to gays, and questioning the statistics of college rapes and female wage gaps.  As he’s put it, he’s welcome to debat things, but he wants to debate facts, not just being called a racist.

The 2016 Election

And with this election of Hilary v. Trump, we may see as many Democrats become Trump Democrats as there were Reagan Democrats.  The Alt Right is largely responsible for this movement.  It is not because the country has shifted to the right.  It is because the left has moved into irrelevance.  Indeed all the political forces of the past 16 years have drifted into irrelevance.

All the powers of the media and the internet have placed themselves solidly in the camp of Bernie/Hilary.  To the point where they smear Trump and anyone who supports him.  The Democrats literally treat Trump as The Devil.  The only argument they have left is “vote for Hilary or the Devil.”  They even threaten violence against his supporters.  I wonder how many more people would have Trump signs and stickers if they didn’t fear vandalism.

And the Alt Right is getting smeared right along with Trump.  The same lies they put up about Trump are being used against this shadowy movement of nebulous neo-Nazis which happen to include Jews and Gays.  So it leads us to ask, just what does Alt Right believe?

What the Alt Right believes

The Alt Right is ultimately not defined by its own goals – our goals are myriad and contradictory – but our refusal to associate with championed issues of the established left.  Catelyn Jenner is still a man, and men should not be involved in women’s sports.  This issue has put someone as innocent as Rhonda Rousey as a hated conservative, for saying transgender men should not be allowed to compete against female fighters.

Being pro-science is also a major bone of contention of the Alt-Right.  We have no problem with GMOs or vaccines.  I’ll admit I may be in the minority of the Alt Right for believing Global Warming is an issue.  But I fall right back in when I say governments aren’t doing anything about it other than as an excuse for subsidies to their friends.

We value education, we don’t think it’s a tool of rich white males to mold your mind.  We’re not afraid to bring up that rap is corrupting and that being a thug will land you in jail.  We like cops, we like that they keep civilization.  Maybe they have problems but the problem would become much greater if they go away.  So yeah, we think a cop’s life is more worth protecting than a civilian’s, and even more so than someone of questionable conduct.

We think being black or female does not excuse you from being an asshole.  We think there’s an issue with Islam.  We believe in borders, letting through those we accept, and keeping the rest out with deadly force if necessary.  And with that, we are opposed to “safe spaces”.  If you want to be relevant, you’re going to be insulted, you’re going to be attacked.  Only toddlers need safe spaces.  Children should be exposed to increasing levels of reality and danger.

And that brings me to the final disclaimer of what we believe: we disagree on a lot.  Anyone calling themselves Alt Right can disagree with any one of these precepts.  The difference is we are able to disagree without branding each other and casting each other off into the hell of moral condemnation.  Which, yes, is as ridiculous as it sounds.

What the Alt Right wants

If you could sum it all up in one catchphrase, it’s “we’re tired of being PC.”

Although, as the virtue signaling leftist media spins it, that means if you’re not PC you’re an asshole that rapes and beats women, wants to lynch black people, and send Muslims and Jews to the concentration camps.

It sounds ridiculous when you put it that way.  And it is.  Even among those who are outspoken racial advocates, they tend to not let themselves get baited into leftist politics.  But when you look at the picture the media have painted of Trump, that’s exactly it.  He’s never talked about rounding up anyone, just closing and enforcing the borders.  And nevermind that more deportations have happened under Obama than anyone else.

The point here is, it would be nice to have conversations about immigration, or Islam, or cops, or any of these issues, without being branded as a racist homophobe Islamophobe animal killer.  And not just being branded, but being ostracized.  Because at some point the ostracizers become the ostracized.  The way things are going worldwide, the far right are the only ones who are echoing these sentiments.  This is giving them more and more power, while more and more mainstream parties are losing power.

It is possible to see the Democrats completely disappear as a party in November.  This is not healthy.  But it is absolutely the fault of those who think they have some moral cudgel to bash people around any time they disagree with something.

At this point I’d like to pat the back of fellow Gen X’ers.  They seem to be the ones spearheading the Alt Right movement, and I think it’s because we’re the last generation to be raised without mandatory seatbelts.  I honestly think the two are related.  If you live your life thinking you’re immune from danger, you live your life thinking you’re immune from strife and discord.

But life is all about strife and discord.  It’s what makes life dynamic.  It’s why I both agree with a Warren Buffett, who thinks America has plenty of dynamism left, and a Donald Trump, who for all his quirks, has a point when he says we can Make America Great Again.

And that’s why he’s the dark horse Republican Nominee.

Brexit happened because of immigration

I feel like the discussion about Brexit has been disingenuous at best. And if we are going to stop Brexit from becoming a total rout of the EU and the world economy, we need to bring it back home.

The Brexit vote was about immigration. Pure and simple. Not about Polish immigration or Sikh immigration, it’s about the unfettered Muslim immigration from countries that have slipped into anarchy. More so, it seems the EU has found an ingenious way to circumvent all immigration law by using the “refugee” loophole. I.E.: If you can let Muslims pour into Greece, Italy and Spain, they are welcome anywhere in the EU. Including England.  This is what is making people flinch and tip in favor of Brexit, in what would have otherwise been a much more tepid discussion.

Now, I get the population increase argument. Economics is a dismal science, and part of that means that if your population isn’t growing, the economy crashes. But where did people think they could get away with this “refugee” scheme? Did they think people would fall for it and NOT have some massive backlash? And did they remember that immigration is one thing, assimilation is another?

No, apparently not.

Officials need to at least own the situation we’re in. Own the consequences of the last few years of unfettered immigration and the dismantling of existing law. First of all, we know that a 90% male influx isn’t refugees, it’s taking advantage of the loophole they’re so proud of.

Second, Muslims in the EU need to be assimilated – we can’t just ignore this massive clash of values.  If a Muslim commits terrorism, call it Muslim terrorism.  Really, Orlando is a gun control issue?  That’s just … autistic.

And yes, assimilation happens violently, with draconian laws, machine guns and billy clubs (back to that dismal science). No-go zones need to be acknlowledged, and put under siege. Mosques need to be tightly monitored for terrorist ties (as has been done quite successfully in France). Any Muslim that doesn’t like it is free to find another country.

And if the EU isn’t to be completely torn asunder by a right-wing resurgence, it needs to QUICKLY revamp its “freedom of movement” policy. This “refugee” loophole needs to be closed.

Keep in mind, I dislike the extreme right as much as anyone. Whenever they come into the government, things get messy. I would have liked someone other than Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson to have the day in Parliament. But if they’re the only ones to address the Muslim elephant in the European room, they will continue to surge in the polls. They will continue to fill all sorts of crazy agendas along with a sloppy resolution the the immigration issue.

But if the mainstream continues to ignore this debate, the extreme right will seize the next few years, all over Europe. England is only the first domino.

Why America needs a Trump candidacy

Most of my coworkers are Latinos – most of those are El Salvadoran.  So when we went out for lunch one day, it was only a matter of time before they found out I was leaning towards Trump.

Needless to say, it got awkward at first.  First came the comments about his disparaging attacks on Latinos.  Then his comments about Muslims.  But after I wasn’t knuckling other to either one, since I honestly think both charges are bullshit, the silence led one of them to make an illuminating comment:

“Of course we need to have laws.”

We need to have laws.  Indeed.  That’s the crux of the Trump candidacy, and it’s the crux of the European electoral tumult.

I’ve been in politics a long time – since my naive days of Jerry Brown’s 1992 presidential campaign.  I can say that the primaries are a brainstorming session for both parties – they let any comers shoot off any strange and unformed ideas they have, and see what sticks with the voters.  It’s only towards the end of the primaries, heading into the convention, that they decide it’s time to close down the session and rally around a candidate they feel represents them.

Only sometimes it doesn’t quite work as planned.  Like this year.  This year has been a real popular backlash against ruling class policy – that of abolishing all immigration law, and allowing anybody on earth to move anywhere they want.   We may have our “illegal immigrant” problem here at home (I’ll get to that in a bit).  But it’s nothing compared to the brilliant EU loophole of allowing “refugee” status to people in any one country and then letting them in through that back door into any other country in Europe.

As Douglas Murray puts it “‘imagine there’s no countries’?  We don’t have to imagine it, we’re seeing the real consequences of getting rid of borders, and that’s people blowing themselves up in the heart of Paris.”

It’s no stretch to say this is deliberate policy.  And part of that policy is to smear anyone who criticises the scrapping of immigration law and borders as a bigot.  This is happening both in European and American governments, both Democrat and Republican parties.

And that’s why when Trump comes in and says things like “build that wall” or “seal the borders” it’s a signal that he supports something THEY CANNOT ALLOW TO HAPPEN.

The remarks themselves aren’t even worth scrutinizing that much.  In a brainstorming session, one wants provocative remarks like this, because they spur thought, reaction, debate.  Nevermind if they’re unworkable or offensive, we have plenty of time to take those comments, see the direction they’re going in, and hammer them out into workable policy.

Like the “ban all Muslims” remark.  Nevermind that they twisted what he said.  Nevermind that there’s no way to ban based on religion.  But there are bans based on country of origin.  It’s not that hard to go from one to the other, and we did it to Iran after their hijackings.

But back to the American issue of immigration.  If I make one point, it’s this.  It’s okay to demand immigration be made legal.  It’s okay to make sure those immigrating here legally can do so more easily than those who don’t.  It’s okay to demand that those who pose a terrorism risk aren’t allowed in.  The more voters who make these demands are made to feel like bigots, the more they will rally and solidify behind a man like Trump.

It’s in everyone’s interests that everyone in this country is here legally.  The fact is, someone who is here working illegally is someone who is working with no rights.  Are there issues with this?  Of course.  That’s a whole separate article.

But nobody’s saying “kick out all the Mexicans” or “Mexicans are criminals”.  Those are just slanders.  Trump’s main remark, time and again, is that we can’t just ignore our own laws and let people pour over without any record.

That’s a great starting point.  If we’re short on workers, nobody has a problem with liberalizing immigration law.  As my coworkers told me, and I suspected, poor Latin Americans can’t immigrate legally to USA.  Only the rich can.  Well, that’s a problem.  And we can change that.  With laws.  Not by ignoring laws and ridiculing those that have a problem with it.

It’s no secret that America’s a nation of immigrants.  My coworkers relay to me their parents’ stories of escaping violence and poverty to seek a better life in America, and honestly, it doesn’t sound too different from anybody else’s story.  That’s why nobody’s doing themselves any favors by claiming the Trump campaign anti-immigrant.  Because those who’ve been paying attention to Trump’s remarks realize it’s a “pro-law” campaign.

Because America is a nation of immigrants, but it’s also a nation of laws.  And one doesn’t trump the other.

The Incredible Shrinking Black Hole

Couple interesting stories in the news lately.  One was about the discovery of gravitational waves.  The other was about directly witnessing a star get swallowed by a black hole.

star getting swallowedExcept it seemed the writers of these stories were so abuzz about the actual event, they didn’t point out the curious aspect of HOW a star gets sucked in by a black hole.  Observe the artist’s illustration:

Wait, what?

Did you see that?

Here, let’s take the REALLY interesting part of this diagram.

gravity pulling away notes

Shouldn’t the star be getting sucked directly into the black hole?  If the black hole has such all-powerful gravity, shouldn’t the star’s mass be getting pulled right along the blue line, right into the center of the black hole?  What’s it doing curving AWAY from it, like with the red line?  When was the last time you saw an object fall and turn AWAY like this?

For this, we need to get into the deeper workings of Einstein’s theory of general relativity – the idea that space is curved, and all we can ever see as observers is a flattened version of it.  Not far behind is the mystery of black holes, those unknowable holes of nothingness, those Bermuda Triangles of the universe, and ultimate examples of relativity in action.

To better understand the relativity of black holes, we must understand the concept of curvature of space.  flight mapThis is the branch of mathematics known as non-Euclidean geometry, and we’ve all seen it at one point or another.  Take, for example, an intercontinental flight.  Watch your flight take place on a map, and your plane seems to curve along its way to the target, rather than going in a straight line.  That seems a bit … inefficient.

flight globeUntil you recall that we’re not travelling on a map, we’re travelling on the surface of a sphere.  We and the pilot are very nicely travelling along a straight line, never veering to the left or right as the map would have us believe.

Likewise, light always travels straight, unperturbed by gravity since it has no mass.  So why does it bend in a gravitational field?  This is where Einstein’s theory comes in.  He said that gravity is more accurately understood as a warping of space and time (spacetime), and that a massless beam is still travelling straight through the field.  flight whirlpoolMuch like if, instead of traversing a globe, our plane were to fly through a depression or whirlpool without turning.  It would also bend its path even though we were flying perfectly straight.

So here’s the issue, mathematically speaking.  If a straight line goes through any whirlpool, no matter how steep, it will spiral in, level out, and eventually spiral its way out.  If a black hole simply has really, really steep walls, light will be able to escape.  There would be no such thing as an event horizon, through which light can never escape.

flight steep whirlpoolFrom a mathematical perspective, the only shape that can hold a straight line is a cylinder. flight cylinder

And that’s how we would need to understand the topology of a black hole – not that it is just really really steep, but that it’s more like a well – with walls asymptoting (limiting themselves) at the event horizon.

Which brings us to an interesting concept.  “Light can’t escape a black hole” is actually a misnomer.  Fact is, light can never ENTER a black hole.  By our idea of the asymptotic well, light will always spiral in ad infinitum. black hole well

We can see evidence of this in the picture below of a black hole crossing over a galaxy.  That corona around it?  That’s light from the galaxy hitting the black hole, spiraling into its well, before spiraling back out in that ring formation.

And let’s take that the actual mass of a black hole is a infinitesimal speck right in the middle of the event horizon.  What we’re seeing already is a black hole is literally a RUPTURE in spacetime.  By this model, there is no spacetime between the black hole and the event horizon.

black hole galaxy

The “corona” around this black hole is light from the nearby galaxy that gets trapped in its pull. It then spirals in, flattens out at a certain depth, and spirals back out at us.

This is where things start to get weird.  To better understand this weirdness, we need to understand just HOW spacetime warps around a black hole.

There is no speed limit

First of all, the “speed of light” is a misnomer.  There is no universal “maximum speed” per se.  It may take four years for light to reach here from Alpha Centauri.  But that’s from the perspective of us sitting here on Earth.  If you were somehow to hitch a ride on a beam of light, you’d arrive at Alpha Centauri in an instant.  It’s only to all your friends back home that it seemed to take you four years (eight years, really, since it would take four more years for news of your arrival to hit home).

So what’s going on?

If you were to somehow speed up that quickly, and slow down again, what you’d see is the whole universe collapsing all around you, Alpha Centauri would only seem a step away, you’d make a quick jump, and then the universe would expand again as you slowed down, finding yourself at your new star in just a moment.  Meanwhile, everything around you just aged four years.

Cool, huh?  Of course we haven’t even gotten to the fact that you’d have to accelerate far faster than the speed of light to get anywhere near it – meaning, if you had some gyroscopic speedometer that was based purely on acceleration, it would say you’re going far far faster than light speed.  But let’s save that for another time.

Here’s a more realistic application – the Cern supercollider, which accelerates particles to near the speed of light.  It runs them along a magnetic circular track, accelerating them to near the speed of light.  What happens from an observer’s perspective is far different from the particle’s perspective.

cern observerFor simplicity’s sake, let’s say the track has a radius of 1 mile.  It accelerates to near the speed of light, running round it at 100 times/second.

But let’s say we could shrink down to that particle level and hitch a ride.  What would we experience?  As we approached the speed of light, time would slow down for us, AND distances would shrink.  Other things would happen too, like we’d become more massive.  But the distance and the time are the interesting part.  cern particleOur track would shrink to only 1 meter radius, and now while we were at around the same near-light speed the observer sees us at, we’re now doing the track at 160 THOUSAND times/second.  In that second, we’d see the outside world age 25 minutes.

Okay, now back to black holes.  One fascinating phenomenon about matter entering black holes is, for a while it seems to turn AWAY from the black hole.  As if the black hole wants matter to orbit around it rather than sucking it right in.  How can that even happen?

Once again, this is an illusion brought by travel along non-Euclidean spacetime.  Let’s go back to our diagram of a black hole as a well.

Better yet, let’s look down an actual well.well

Now, imagine this well is really deep.  I mean, really REALLY deep.  See that disk at the bottom?  How small can you imagine it?  And remember, it’s the exact same diameter at the bottom as it is at the top.

Now, try shining a laser pointer at  the bottom of this really deep well.  Not too easy, is it?  You’ll inevitably end up hitting the surrounding wall.

And that’s what happens when matter or light hits a black hole.  Let’s take what we learned from our Cern particle and see what happens as matter hits a black hole.  From an observer’s perspective, it approaches, then mysteriously turns away as it accelerates and starts orbiting the black hole.enter observer

The incredible shrinking black hole

But what happens from the particle’s perspective, as it hurtles towards that black hole at breakneck speed, powerful gravitational forces accelerating it near the speed of light?  We go back to our Cern illustration.  As it accelerates, its universe collapses around it.  Rather than curving away from the hole, the very black hole it seems to be hurtling into shys away from it. enter particle It continues ever towards it, missing this now shrunken black hole.  Since it can never aim for absolute dead center, the black hole will always shy away just enough to have it “miss” and gett pulled into orbit instead.  Keep in mind it’s the same black hole, it’s still travelling a similar near-light speed, but it orbits this shrunken black hole 1000 times in the time it takes the observer to see it orbit the black hole once.
That infinitesimal dot at the bottom of our well is starting to make a lot more sense now, doesn’t it?  Also, it’s a nice location for the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.  But we digress.

So, here’s where things get REALLY interesting.  If the event horizon is the circumference at which light can no longer escape – it means from the perspective of anything on the event horizon, that black hole is now infinitesimal in size.  Which just happens to be the perfect distance for quantum mechanics.

Now, I’m not much of a quantum mechanist.  I know enough about the subject to separate science from new age bunk, but that’s about it.  But as a mathematician and armchair philosopher, I also know about Zeno’s paradox: That nothing can ever get from point A to point B.  That’s because it has to travel half that distance first, and half that distance before that, and so on ad infinitum.

The solution to that paradox is also the prediction of the atom – that ultimately the universe is composed of indivisible quanta.

plasma globeAnd that’s what I think is happening between the event horizon and the point of singularity.  The concept of spacetime in here is bunk.  It’s a hole in spacetime.  An infinitesimal hole, a quantum leap between the event horizon and the point of singularity.  And particles snap to singularity.  Kinda something like this plasma globe.


Some fun observations

So let’s go back to our black hole eating the star.  What’s happening?  As the star’s matter approaches the black hole, it’s getting accelerated to speeds approaching light.  To them, they’re going straight into it.  But the black hole is shrinking.  While we’re watching them slowly orbit around it, they’re orbiting it at fractions of an instant.  As friction eats away at their orbit and they get nearer and nearer the “event horizon” it keeps shrinking farther and farther away from them until they get shredded into the light show you see above.

People are fascinated with the event horizon.  More so, they’re obsessed with CROSSING it.  What’s on the other side?  We now see that simply APPROACHING the event horizon gives us plenty of questions to answer before we throw a probe into a black hole and hope it doesn’t fall apart.

The fun thing about black holes is they’re such a drastic warp of spacetime that they render our very flattened perception of them meaningless.  For example, the more massive a black hole is, the smaller its apparent gravity at the event horizon.  There are some black holes so massive that, as far as we can tell, gravity at the event horizon is less than gravity at the earth’s surface.

That doesn’t make any sense, does it?  If you could hang out like this at the event horizon with some rocket thrusters, it would be very easy to throw a depth charge through the horizon, watch it explode, and witness the event via the light that crosses through the horizon.

Except you just contradicted the whole concept of an event horizon.  Something’s wrong about our calculations.  Ah yes – we forgot we’re not in flat space-time.

It’s not just the faster you travel that the smaller everything gets.  The more warped the spacetime you’re in, the smaller everything gets.  It’s all the same phenomenon really.  So even if you somehow managed to temper your descent into a black hole so you got to what you thought was the event horizon, instead you’d be seeing a smaller black hole.

Animated black hole

It’s not just an accurate portrayal of falling down a black hole … the downward spiral is a great literary device.

Matter will always be accelerated towards a shrinking black hole until it reaches light speed, and the whole universe collapses around it to a timeless point.

These are certainly things worth thinking about.  We have to remember, when we think about these things, that an event horizon is such a profound warp of space-time, we can’t just “hang out around the horizon” like sci-fi illustrations would have us believe.  As we can see from the 3D diagrams, before we think of crossing the event horizon, we have to understand the profound differences of anything approaching it.  Any matter we interact with it would either have to accelerate an orbit to nearly the speed of light, or experience gravitational force that would rip any matter to subatomic shreds.

All this, within a space of millimeters by our outside perspective, that was somehow stretched to astronomical lengths invisible to our naïve eyes.



A presidential apology

Fellow Americans,

Last week, a high school student named Ahmed Mohammed was briefly arrested for bringing to school what some thought was a bomb.  I invited Ahmed to come to the White House because I thought it was an innocent science project, and he was being unfairly targeted because he is Muslim.

Unfortunately, it turns out we at the White House were misled about the facts of this issue.  That clock wasn’t a science project.  There was no programming involved, no rewiring, Ahmed just took an ordinary consumer clock, gutted it, and put it in a pencil case, something frequently used as a bomb casing.  He then took it to school, unsolicited.  When confronted about the clock, he gave no information that could de-escalate the situation.

Make no mistake.  Creating a device that looks like a bomb, with intention of it looking like a bomb, and bringing it into a school, or any public building or area, is a crime.  Even if it isn’t actually a real bomb.  In these tense times where terrorists bomb public events and children shoot down their classmates in school, it is all the more important to realize this.  Creating a hoax just undermines the policies we have in place to prevent a future terrorist attack.  That’s what makes it a crime.

We now have enough evidence to believe Ahmed and his father deliberately staged a hoax, and we will begin working with State and Local authorities to press criminal charges against them.  Muslims should not be profiled or assumed to be terrorists, yes.  But neither are they above the law.  We will hold them fully accountable for their actions.

I deeply apologize to both the teachers and law enforcement in Irving for putting them in the spotlight for just doing their jobs correctly and professionally.  In these times when cops and public officials nationwide are coming under increasing scrutiny, it is important to remember the public liability they have.  Teachers are responsible for our children’s safety, day in, day out.  Cops are responsible for all our safety.  If something happens under their watch, we hold them responsible.

It is important that we give them the benefit of the doubt, when events like this arise.  And it is important to honor the sacrifices they make, dedicating their lives to the public good.  As I’ve said before, it is this kind of service to America that really makes America great.

Thank you and good night,

President Barack Obama

The dark side of community organizing

I’ve had a long simmering suspicion towards “community organizers”.  Might have been since college.  While I preferred to listen to people, I watched career minded organizers come in with their own agenda, rally people around it, and kick out anyone who disagreed.

Then came the Iraq War.  I was opposed to it – even though I’m not a pacifist, I didn’t like being lied and manipulated into a war.  I organized MoveOn movie nights because it was a great way to find like-minded people and try to amplify our opposition that way.  But MoveOn quickly became an organizing agent for the Democratic party, and when our discussions were replaced with “Bush as an Idiot” slogans, I backed off and dropped out.

Now, it seems, such “community organizing” has taken a toxic turn.  In the past few years I’ve seen first J-Street appear, and then Jewish Voice for Peace.  These groups have no organic connection with the Jewish community.  Their only real connection is with the Democratic apparatus, their only unifying factor a desire for Democrat coattails.

I’ll leave J-Street alone for another day, I’d like to focus on JVP for now.  The articles about them are damning, and yet I wonder how long they’re going to last.  Their own website looks like they’re a bunch of slick internet hacks.  First of all, it’s only available in HTTPS, which means you can’t track or verify any of their traffic.  But it looks like they’re disputing their Wikipedia page, which points out that their only claim to fame is giving the anti-Israel lobby some cover against the charge of anti-Semitism.

Of course, that doesn’t stop other groups from revealing who they are.  The ADL has a whole page devoted to their tactics.  Forward magazine also has a great article about them.

And if they were recognized as such, that would be one thing.  But Democrats like Karen Bass are starting to give them an air of legitimacy.  And that’s what concerns me.  Note:  she originally posted this on her Facebook page, but once I commented with the ADL link, she took it down.  Luckily, the internet loves to archive pages.  And so do I.

Overall, my IT pro analysis is that they’re great at overinflating their numbers and influence, claiming to not only speak for Jews, but questioning whether established groups like AIPAC, ADL, etc. actually represent them.  This is what makes them valuable for the Democratic party, and why the Obama campaign has been really pushing them to the forefront as an alternative to those pesky established Jewish organizations with their pesky demand that Israel remain a safe haven for Jews.

And see, here’s the ultimate difference between a “community organizing” group like JVP and an established community group like ADL.  It’s the daily advocacy and work that groups like ADL, AIPAC, Hillel, Chabad, do on a daily basis for Jews.  Charity work, research work, going out of your way for other Jews, taking complaints about slurs and hate crimes against Jews, taking them seriously, advocating on different governmental levels.  The political programs are only an extension of this daily work.  And that’s why all these Jewish groups are tireless advocates for Israel.  They know how desperately Jews need a safe haven in this world that so quickly aligns against them.

I can tell you without any more than a peek at JVP that they do NONE of this.  That’s what makes them a fraud.  That’s what makes them toxic to this country, and why they need to be outed.

We don’t even need to make this about Jews, either.  I’m sure other races and people have similar issues.  Whereas the organic community has their own organizations and culture, ruling class representatives go in with foundation money, not to advocate for that community, but to push their own agenda on them.  The community is just a stepping stone to a political or intellectual career.