Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Miranda Rights of Suspects

The Miranda warning, which also can be referred to as a person's Miranda rights, is a right to silence warning given by police in the United States to criminal suspects in police custody (or in a custodial interrogation) before they are interrogated to preserve the admissibility of their statements against them in criminal proceedings.

A typical Miranda warning can read as follows:

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you by the court. With these rights in mind, are you still willing to talk with me about the charges against you?"

The Miranda warning is part of a preventive criminal procedure rule that law enforcement are required to administer to protect an individual who is in custody and subject to direct questioning or its functional equivalent from a violation of his or her Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination. In Miranda v. Arizona (1966), the Supreme Court held that the admission of an elicited incriminating statement by a suspect not informed of these rights violates the Fifth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, through the incorporation of these rights into state law. Thus, if law enforcement officials decline to offer a Miranda warning to an individual in their custody, they may interrogate that person and act upon the knowledge gained, but may not use that person's statements as evidence against him or her in a criminal trial.

Origin and Development of Miranda Rights

The concept of "Miranda rights" was enshrined in U.S. law following the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona Supreme Court decision, which found that the Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights of Ernesto Arturo Miranda had been violated during his arrest and trial for armed robbery, kidnapping, and rape of a mentally handicapped young woman (Miranda was subsequently retried and convicted, based primarily on his estranged ex-partner, who had been tracked down by the original arresting officer via Ernesto's own parents, suddenly claiming that Ernesto had confessed to her when she had visited him in jail; Ernesto's lawyer later confessed that he 'goofed' the trial).

The circumstances triggering the Miranda safeguards, i.e. Miranda rights, are "custody" and "interrogation". Custody means formal arrest or the deprivation of freedom to an extent associated with formal arrest. Interrogation means explicit questioning or actions that are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response. The Supreme Court did not specify the exact wording to use when informing a suspect of his/her rights. However, the Court did create a set of guidelines that must be followed. The ruling states:

...The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he/she has the right to remain silent, and that anything the person says will be used against that person in court; the person must be clearly informed that he/she has the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning, and that, if he/she is indigent, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent him/her.

In Berkemer v. McCarty (1984), the Supreme Court decided that a person subjected to custodial interrogation is entitled to the benefit of the procedural safeguards enunciated in Miranda, regardless of the nature or severity of the offense of which he is suspected or for which he was arrested.

As a result, American English developed the verb Mirandize, meaning "read the Miranda rights to" a suspect (when the suspect is arrested).

Notably, the Miranda rights do not have to be read in any particular order, and they do not have to precisely match the language of the Miranda case as long as they are adequately and fully conveyed (California v. Prysock, 453 U.S. 355 (1981)).

In Berghuis v. Thompkins (2010), the Supreme Court held that unless a suspect expressly states that he or she is invoking this right, subsequent voluntary statements made to an officer can be used against them in court, and police can continue to interact with (or question) the alleged criminal.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Stephen Hawking's Multiverse Theory

He died several days ago, but two weeks ago Stephen Hawking finished his theory for developing a spacecraft that might detect the existence of another universe.  Such a possibility has been considered beyond the capacity for scientific measurement.  Details are available at the UK Telegraph at this link:

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Chinese Failure: "The Great Leap Forward"


The Great Leap Forward was a centrally planned attempt to raise China’s industrial power beginning in 1958.  The collective farms were given strict quotas for production.  The local managers inflated agricultural production and had to give away food needed by the farmers themselves.  Over 35 million people starved.  The official story was that famine was the result of unnaturally dry weather in rural China, but the truth was that it was all due to mismanagement.  Yang Jisheng put the facts together in a 2013 book called Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine 1958-1962. From Amazon.com:

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The much-anticipated definitive account of China's Great Famine

An estimated thirty-six million Chinese men, women, and children starved to death during China's Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s and early '60s. One of the greatest tragedies of the twentieth century, the famine is poorly understood, and in China is still euphemistically referred to as "the three years of natural disaster."
As a journalist with privileged access to official and unofficial sources, Yang Jisheng spent twenty years piecing together the events that led to mass nationwide starvation, including the death of his own father. Finding no natural causes, Yang attributes responsibility for the deaths to China's totalitarian system and the refusal of officials at every level to value human life over ideology and self-interest.
Tombstone is a testament to inhumanity and occasional heroism that pits collective memory against the historical amnesia imposed by those in power. Stunning in scale and arresting in its detailed account of the staggering human cost of this tragedy, Tombstone is written both as a memorial to the lives lost―an enduring tombstone in memory of the dead―and in hopeful anticipation of the final demise of the totalitarian system. Ian Johnson, writing in The New York Review of Books, called the Chinese edition of Tombstone "groundbreaking . . . One of the most important books to come out of China in recent years."

Amazon.com Customer Review
By K. Liang
5 Out of 5 Stars
It is like finding out my mother is a serial killer
February 7, 2014

I was born in Beijing in 1985, and lived there through 7th grade. Growing up in the 90's I often heard my elders refer to the "Three Years of Natural Disaster" as a period of hardship - all my family resided in Beijing and Shanghai, and they were deprived of food -but they were not starved (My grandma used to talk about buying crumbs of bread and saving the one egg she was able to find for my mother). My grandparents went through the labor reform camps and my parents were left at home to be looked after by good hearted neighbors and relatives. Not a easy life by any means, but no one in my family died from this "Three Years of Natural Disaster."

NEVER have I heard about cannibalism, mass starvation and the wiping out of entire families. Why? Because, I now realize, that all the people who died were people who lived in the poorest areas of the country, with no power to ask for anything. 45 million people died brutal, torturous deaths. There were villages where so many people died, that they had to quarantine the entire area so that news didn't get out. There was NO WAY for people who lived in the major cities to know the extent of suffering the rest of China went through. But what shocked me even more is that this was never a NATURAL disaster...there was nothing natural about any of it. In fact, the entire tragedy was brought on by a chain reaction composed of greed, oppression and cowardice. Politics, bureaucracy, and a power hungry totalitarian ruler were what caused this famine.

Okay, I don't want to go into much detail here because I am getting carried away...

This book is life changing for me, as a child of the new-generation China. I grew up in a westernized and prosperous Beijing, and even China from the 1970's was far removed from me. There is an assumption that my generation doesn't really care about what happened before, because we got in made - we're the first generation to fully experience the benefits and wealth brought on by Deng Xiaoping's policy to open up to the west. I had Coca-cola, I had Mcdonald's. I was an only child, and so were all my classmates, and we were all spoiled to bits. Perhaps it is because of our removal from that history of suffering that they think it is a good opportunity to bury the past, starting from us.

This book pulled back the curtains and revealed to me this gaping hole in my history book. It is like finding out my mother is a serial killer. I could not sleep for days, and cried through every page. But I know that as a Chinese person, I have a responsibility to read this book. To not read it would be like allowing this enormous lie to keep festering in me. I wish that every Chinese person could read this and know the truth. Too bad it is banned in China, and I doubt it would ever see the light of day.

I am not a political person, but I can't stand the thought of millions dying for no reason. They did die for no reason, though - a genocide on this scale is beyond all reason/justification - but the least we could do now is to KNOW about it. These were people who spoke my language, and celebrated the same holidays, and knew the same folklores. It just hits me so hard - I never thought there could be this deliberate, government induced mass extinction in the recent history of China, covered up so well. I thought I was fortunate to be born in a country that has never invaded anyone or started any wars. Turned out it was too busy killing off its own people.

Anyway, if you are like me - if you grew up in China and went to school there...I think you owe it to yourself to read this book. We've been lied to, we've been treated as unthinking, unfeeling fools with no conscience.... Don't let them do that to you anymore. If you have an opportunity to get this book, get it and read it. We have a right to know, and to lament for our own.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Storytelling Is Essential

Storytelling describes the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, sometimes with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment. Every culture has its own stories or narratives, which are shared as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation or instilling moral values. Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot, characters and narrative point of view.

The term "storytelling" can refer in a narrow sense specifically to oral storytelling and also in a looser sense to techniques used in other media to unfold or disclose the narrative of a story.

Historical Perspective

Storytelling predates writing. The earliest forms of storytelling were usually oral combined with gestures and expressions. In addition to being part of religious rituals, some archaeologists believe rock art may have served as a form of storytelling for many ancient cultures. The Australian aboriginal people painted symbols from stories on cave walls as a means of helping the storyteller remember the story. The story was then told using a combination of oral narrative, music, rock art and dance, which bring understanding and meaning of human existence through remembrance and enactment of stories. People have used the carved trunks of living trees and ephemeral media (such as sand and leaves) to record stories in pictures or with writing. Complex forms of tattooing may also represent stories, with information about genealogy, affiliation and social status.

With the advent of writing and the use of stable, portable media, stories were recorded, transcribed and shared over wide regions of the world. Stories have been carved, scratched, painted, printed or inked onto wood or bamboo, ivory and other bones, pottery, clay tablets, stone, palm-leaf books, skins (parchment), bark cloth, paper, silk, canvas and other textiles, recorded on film and stored electronically in digital form. Oral stories continue to be created, improvisationally by impromptu storytellers, as well as committed to memory and passed from generation to generation, despite the increasing popularity of written and televised media in much of the world.

Contemporary Storytelling

Modern storytelling has a broad purview. In addition to its traditional forms (fairytales, folktales, mythology, legends, fables etc.), it has extended itself to representing history, personal narrative, political commentary and evolving cultural norms. Contemporary storytelling is also widely used to address educational objectives. New forms of media are creating new ways for people to record, express and consume stories. Tools for asynchronous group communication can provide an environment for individuals to reframe or recast individual stories into group stories. Games and other digital platforms, such as those used in interactive fiction or interactive storytelling, may be used to position the user as a character within a bigger world. Documentaries, including interactive web documentaries, employ storytelling narrative techniques to communicate information about their topic. Self-revelatory stories, created for their cathartic and therapeutic effect, are growing in their use and application, as in Psychodrama, Drama Therapy and Playback Theatre.

Oral Traditions

Oral traditions of storytelling are found in several civilisations, they predate the printed and online press. Storytelling was used to explain natural phenomena, bards told stories of creation and developed a pantheon of gods and myths. Oral stories passed from one generation to the next and storytellers were regarded as healers, leader, spiritual guides, teachers, cutural secret keeper and entertainers. Oral storytelling came in various forms including songs, poetry, chants and dance.

Albert Bates Lord examined oral narratives from field transcripts of Yugoslav oral bards collected by Milman Parry in the 1930s, and the texts of epics such as the Odyssey and Beowulf. Lord found that a large part of the stories consisted of text which was improvised during the telling process.

Lord identified two types of story vocabulary. The first he called "formulas": "rosy-fingered dawn", "the wine-dark sea" and other specific set phrases had long been known of in Homer and other oral epics. Lord, however, discovered that across many story traditions, fully 90% of an oral epic is assembled from lines which are repeated verbatim or which use one-for-one word substitutions. In other words, oral stories are built out of set phrases which have been stockpiled from a lifetime of hearing and telling stories.

The other type of story vocabulary is theme, a set sequence of story actions that structure a tale. Just as the teller of tales proceeds line-by-line using formulas, so he proceeds from event-to-event using themes. One near-universal theme is repetition, as evidenced in Western folklore with the "rule of three": Three brothers set out, three attempts are made, three riddles are asked. A theme can be as simple as a specific set sequence describing the arming of a hero, starting with shirt and trousers and ending with headdress and weapons. A theme can be large enough to be a plot component. For example: a hero proposes a journey to a dangerous place / he disguises himself / his disguise fools everybody / except for a common person of little account (a crone, a tavern maid or a woodcutter) / who immediately recognizes him / the commoner becomes the hero's ally, showing unexpected resources of skill or initiative. A theme does not belong to a specific story, but may be found with minor variation in many different stories. Themes may be no more than handy prefabricated parts for constructing a tale, or they may represent universal truths – ritual-based, religious truths, as James Frazer saw in The Golden Bough, or archetypal, psychological truths, as Joseph Campbell describes in The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

The story was described by Reynolds Price, when he wrote:

A need to tell and hear stories is essential to the species Homo sapiens – second in necessity apparently after nourishment and before love and shelter. Millions survive without love or home, almost none in silence; the opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative, and the sound of story is the dominant sound of our lives, from the small accounts of our day's events to the vast incommunicable constructs of psychopaths.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Radio Interviewer Studs Terkel

Louis "Studs" Terkel (May 16, 1912 – October 31, 2008) was an American author, historian, actor, and broadcaster. He received the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1985 for "The Good War", and is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans, and for hosting a long-running radio show in Chicago.

                                                              Studs Terkel in 1979
Working Career

A political liberal, Terkel joined the Works Progress Administration's Federal Writers' Project, working in radio, doing work that varied from voicing soap opera productions and announcing news and sports, to presenting shows of recorded music and writing radio scripts and advertisements. His well-known radio program, titled The Studs Terkel Program, aired on 98.7 WFMT Chicago between 1952 and 1997. The one-hour program was broadcast each weekday during those forty-five years. On this program, he interviewed guests as diverse as Martin Luther King, Leonard Bernstein, Mort Sahl, Bob Dylan, Alexander Frey, Dorothy Parker, Tennessee Williams, Jean Shepherd, and Big Bill Broonzy.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Terkel was also the central character of Studs' Place, an unscripted television drama about the owner of a greasy-spoon diner in Chicago through which many famous people and interesting characters passed. This show, along with Marlin Perkins's Zoo Parade, Garroway at Large and the children's show Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, are widely considered canonical examples of the Chicago School of Television.

Terkel published his first book, Giants of Jazz, in 1956. He followed it in 1967 with his first collection of oral histories, Division Street America with 70 people talking about effect on the human spirit of living in an American metropolis.

He also served as a distinguished scholar-in-residence at the Chicago History Museum. He appeared in the film Eight Men Out, based on the Black Sox Scandal, in which he played newspaper reporter Hugh Fullerton, who tries to uncover the White Sox players' plans to throw the 1919 World Series. Terkel found it particularly amusing to play this role, as he was a big fan of the Chicago White Sox (as well as a vocal critic of major league baseball during the 1994 baseball strike), and gave a moving congratulatory speech to the White Sox organization after their 2005 World Series championship during a television interview.

Terkel received his nickname while he was acting in a play with another person named Louis. To keep the two straight, the director of the production gave Terkel the nickname Studs after the fictional character about whom Terkel was reading at the time—Studs Lonigan, of James T. Farrell's trilogy.

Terkel was acclaimed for his efforts to preserve American oral history. His 1985 book "The Good War": An Oral History of World War Two, which detailed ordinary peoples' accounts of the country's involvement in World War II, won the Pulitzer Prize. For Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression, Terkel assembled recollections of the Great Depression that spanned the socioeconomic spectrum, from Okies, through prison inmates, to the wealthy. His 1974 book, Working, in which (as reflected by its subtitle) People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, also was highly acclaimed. Working was made into a short-lived Broadway show of the same title in 1978 and was telecast on PBS in 1982. In 1995, he received the Chicago History Museum "Making History Award" for Distinction in Journalism and Communications. In 1997, Terkel was elected a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters. Two years later, he received the George Polk Career Award in 1999.

Later Years

On May 22, 2006, Terkel, along with other plaintiffs, including Quentin Young, filed a suit in federal district court against AT&T Inc., to stop the telecommunications carrier from giving customer telephone records to the National Security Agency without a court order.

“Having been blacklisted from working in television during the McCarthy era, I know the harm of government using private corporations to intrude into the lives of innocent Americans. When government uses the telephone companies to create massive databases of all our phone calls it has gone too far.”

The lawsuit was dismissed by Judge Matthew F. Kennelly on July 26, 2006. Judge Kennelly cited a "state secrets privilege" designed to protect national security from being harmed by lawsuits.

In an interview in The Guardian celebrating his 95th birthday, Terkel discussed his own "diverse and idiosyncratic taste in music, from Bob Dylan to Alexander Frey, Louis Armstrong to Woody Guthrie".

Terkel published a new personal memoir entitled Touch and Go in fall 2007.

Terkel was a self-described agnostic, which he jokingly defined as "a cowardly atheist" during a 2004 interview with Krista Tippett on American Public Media's Speaking of Faith. 

One of his last interviews was for the documentary Soul of a People on Smithsonian Channel. He spoke about his participation in the Works Progress Administration.

At his last public appearance, in 2007, Terkel said he was "still in touch—but ready to go". He gave one of his last interviews on the BBC Hardtalk program on February 4, 2008. He spoke of the imminent election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, and offered him some advice, in October 2008.

Terkel died in his Chicago home on Friday, October 31, 2008 at the age of ninety-six. He had been suffering ever since a fall in his home earlier that month.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Latest Laser-Induced Fusion

Laser-heated Nanowires Produce micro-scale Nuclear Fusion with Record Efficiency
By Anne Manning, Colorado State University

March 14, 2018 -- Nuclear fusion, the process that powers our sun, happens when nuclear reactions between light elements produce heavier ones. It’s also happening – at a smaller scale – in a Colorado State University laboratory.

Using a compact but powerful laser to heat arrays of ordered nanowires, CSU scientists and collaborators have demonstrated micro-scale nuclear fusion in the lab. They have achieved record-setting efficiency for the generation of neutrons – chargeless sub-atomic particles resulting from the fusion process. Their work is detailed in a paper published in Nature Communications, and is led by Jorge Rocca, University Distinguished Professor in electrical and computer engineering and physics. The paper’s first author is Alden Curtis, a CSU graduate student.

Laser-driven controlled fusion experiments are typically done with multi-hundred-million-dollar lasers housed in stadium-sized buildings. Such experiments are usually geared toward harnessing fusion for clean energy applications.

In contrast, Rocca’s team of students, research scientists and collaborators work with an ultra-fast, high-powered tabletop laser they built from scratch. They use their fast, pulsed laser to irradiate a target of invisible wires and instantly create extremely hot, dense plasmas – with conditions approaching those inside the sun. These plasmas drive fusion reactions, giving off helium and flashes of energetic neutrons.

Irradiating nanowires

In their Nature Communications experiment, the team produced a record number of neutrons per unit of laser energy – about 500 times better than experiments that use conventional flat targets from the same material. Their laser’s target was an array of nanowires made out of a material called deuterated polyethylene. The material is similar to the widely used polyethylene plastic, but its common hydrogen atoms are substituted by deuterium, a heavier kind of hydrogen atom.

The efforts were supported by intensive computer simulations conducted at the University of Dusseldorf (Germany), and at CSU.

Making fusion neutrons efficiently, at a small scale, could lead to advances in neutron-based imaging, and neutron probes to gain insight on the structure and properties of materials. The results also contribute to understanding interactions of ultra-intense laser light with matter.

The paper is titled “Micro-scale fusion in dense relativistic nanowire array plasmas.” The research was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and by Mission Support Test Services, LLC.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking Dies

Stephen William Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018) was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. His scientific works included a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He was a vigorous supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

                                                            Stephen Hawking in 2013

Hawking was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. In 2002, Hawking was ranked number 25 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009 and achieved commercial success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general. His book, A Brief History of Time, appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.

Hawking had a rare early-onset slow-progressing form of motor neurone disease (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or "ALS" and as Lou Gehrig's disease), that gradually paralysed him over the decades. Even after the loss of his speech, he was still able to communicate through a speech-generating device, initially through use of a hand-held switch, and eventually by using a single cheek muscle. He died on 14 March 2018 at the age of 76.