Monday, November 30, 2015

Cynicism as a Philosophy

Cynicism is one of the most striking of all the Hellenistic philosophies.  It offered people the possibility of happiness and freedom from suffering in an age of uncertainty. Although there was never an official cynic doctrine, the fundamental principles of cynicism can be summarised as follows:

  • The goal of life is eudaimonia and mental clarity or lucidity (ἁτυφια) - freedom from smoke (τύφος) which signified ignorance, mindlessness, folly, and conceit.
  • Eudaimonia is achieved by living in accord with Nature as understood by human reason.
  • Arrogance (τύφος) is caused by false judgments of value, which cause negative emotions, unnatural desires, and a vicious character.
  • Eudaimonia, or human flourishing, depends on self-sufficiency (αὐτάρκεια), equanimity, arete, love of humanity, parrhesia and indifference to the vicissitudes of life (ἁδιαφορία).
  • One progresses towards flourishing and clarity through ascetic practices (ἄσκησις) which help one become free from influences – such as wealth, fame, and power – that have no value in Nature. Examples include Diogenes' practice of living in a tub and walking barefoot in winter.
  • A cynic practices shamelessness or impudence (Αναιδεια) and defaces the nomos of society; the laws, customs, and social conventions which people take for granted.

Thus a cynic has no property and rejects all conventional values of money, fame, power and reputation. A life lived according to nature requires only the bare necessities required for existence, and one can become free by unshackling oneself from any needs which are the result of convention. The cynics adopted Heracles as their hero, as epitomizing the ideal cynic. Heracles "was he who brought Cerberus, the hound of Hades, from the underworld, a point of special appeal to the dog-man, Diogenes." According to Lucian, "Cerberus and Cynic are surely related through the dog."

The cynic way of life required continuous training, not just in exercising judgments and mental impressions, but a physical training as well:

[Diogenes] used to say, that there were two kinds of exercise: that, namely, of the mind and that of the body; and that the latter of these created in the mind such quick and agile impressions at the time of its performance, as very much facilitated the practice of virtue; but that one was imperfect without the other, since the health and vigour necessary for the practice of what is good, depend equally on both mind and body.

None of this meant that a cynic would retreat from society. Cynics were in fact to live in the full glare of the public's gaze and be quite indifferent in the face of any  insults which might result from their unconventional behaviour. The cynics are said to have invented the idea of cosmopolitanism: when he was asked where he came from, Diogenes replied that he was "a citizen of the world, (kosmopolitês)."

The ideal cynic would evangelise; as the watchdog of humanity, they thought it their duty to hound people about the error of their ways. The example of the cynic's life (and the use of the cynic's biting satire) would dig-up and expose the pretensions which lay at the root of everyday conventions.

Although cynicism concentrated solely on ethics, cynic philosophy had a major impact on the Hellenistic world, ultimately becoming an important influence for Stoicism. The Stoic Apollodorus writing in the 2nd century BC stated that "Cynicism is the short path to virtue."

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Calvin and the Colonel: Clever TV cartoons

Calvin and the Colonel is an animated cartoon television series in 1961 about Colonel Montgomery J. Klaxon, a shrewd fox and Calvin T. Burnside, a dumb bear. Their lawyer was Oliver Wendell Clutch, who was a weasel (literally). The colonel lived with his wife Maggie Belle and her sister Sue, who did not trust the colonel at all. Colonel Klaxon was in the real estate business, but always tried get-rich-quick schemes with Calvin's unwitting help.

The series was an animated remake of Amos 'n' Andy [or, more or less, "Andy and The Kingfish"] and featured the voices of Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll from the radio series (in fact, several of the original radio scripts by Joe Connelly & Bob Mosher were adapted for this series). Using animals avoided the touchy racial issues which had led to the downfall of Amos 'n' Andy.

Because of low ratings, the show was cancelled after two months, but returned two months later to complete the first season contract (and to fulfill Lever Brothers' agreement to sponsor the program; they originally sustained The Amos 'n' Andy Show on radio during the 1940s). For a year afterward reruns were seen on Saturday mornings, and eventually syndicated through the 1960s. It was also adapted as a comic book by Dell Comics, and as such the first of two issues was the final installment in the company's extremely prolific (more than 1,300 issues published) Four Color anthology series.

A brief sequence from the show was seen on a television set in a 1966 episode of The Munsters ("A Visit From Johann"), which was also produced by Connelly and Mosher.

Comments by the Blog Author

Wikipedia’s entry on Amos ‘n’ Andy notes:

In 1961, Gosden and Correll attempted one last televised effort, albeit in a "disguised" version. They were the voices in a prime time animated cartoon, Calvin and the Colonel, featuring anthropomorphic animals whose voices and situations were almost exactly those of Andy and the Kingfish (and adapting several of the original "Amos 'n' Andy" radio scripts). This effort at reviving the series in a way that was intended to be less racially offensive ended after one season on ABC, although it remained quite popular in syndicated reruns in Australia for several years after the fight.

At the ripe old age of ten years old, I watched this show on television regularly.  Because the characters were cartoon animals, it did not occur to me to categorize them as white Southerners or black Southerners.  The show was clearly, obviously, about universal characteristics of human nature, presented in a wry and funny episodic way.

Surely this is what Gosden and Correll were trying to do: amuse the television audience with a raceless version of their immortal characters Amos ‘n’ Andy.  They had never meant to insult black Americans nor portray their complex characters as foolish and despicable, though other radio shows in that era were regularly presenting black characters in a racist light.

Calvin and the Colonel was a clever cartoon show didn’t get high enough ratings to survive.  But over 50 years later, three multi-expisode CDs are available at  The show did have a fantastic, hypnotic introduction in the form of a catchy, peppy, joyful Dixieland introductory theme song (written by Disney music director George Bruns).  It was perhaps the very last nationwide, coast-to-coast Dixieland hit, though it was followed by Kenny Ball’s Dixieland version of the Russian folk song Midnight in Moscow two years later.

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George Bruns’ Career

George Edward Bruns was born July 3, 1914 in Sandy, Oregon, and went to college at Oregon State University, where he was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, graduating in 1936. In the 1930s he worked as a musician with various groups in the Portland, Oregon area. In 1946 he was appointed musical director at radio station KEX in Portland, Oregon, and also was the bandleader for the Rose Bowl room of the Multnomah Hotel. From 1947 to 1949 he performed and recorded on trombone with Portland's Castle Jazz Band, led by banjoist Monte Ballou.

In the late 1940s he moved to Los Angeles, where he did studio work, and performed and recorded with trombonist Turk Murphy's Jazz Band. In 1953 he was hired by Walt Disney as an arranger, eventually becoming Disney's musical director, a position he held until his retirement in 1976. Despite his retirement he continued to work on Disney projects.

Among his work is the song "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" (which he co-wrote with Xavier Atencio), used in the Disney theme park attraction Pirates of the Caribbean and the movies based on that ride. He also co-wrote "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" with Tom W. Blackburn, as well as the song "Love" for the Disney animated film Robin Hood. During the mid-1950s, he adapted the music from Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty ballet for use as background score in the 1959 Disney film version. He also composed the score for The Jungle Book, and provided Herbie the Love Bug with his sprightly theme song, featured prominently throughout the series.

During his tenure with Disney Studios, Bruns continued to play dixieland jazz, leading his Wonderland Jazz Band on two recording sessions [Bruns album Deep in the Heart of Dixieland is available as an mp3 file from], and playing and recording occasionally with the Disney "house" band, the Firehouse Five Plus Two.

Bruns retired from Disney in 1976 and moved back to Sandy, Oregon. He taught part-time at Lewis & Clark College and continued to play and compose music, including recording at least one locally distributed album of jazz.


Bruns died of a myocardial infarction (heart attack) on May 23, 1983 in Portland, Oregon. Bruns was named a Disney Legend in 2001.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary is a crowdsourced online dictionary of slang words and phrases that was founded in 1999 as a parody of by then-college freshman Aaron Peckham. At the start of 2014, the dictionary featured over seven million definitions, while 2,000 new daily entries were being added. In November 2014, the Advertise page of the website states that, on a monthly basis, Urban Dictionary averages 72 million impressions and 18 million unique readers. Anyone with either a Facebook or Gmail account can make a submission to the dictionary, and it is claimed that all entries are reviewed by volunteers. Site visitors may agree/disagree with definitions by an up/down vote system.


In the context of Urban Dictionary, "definitions" include not only literal definitions, but also descriptions. As such, "to define" a word or phrase on Urban Dictionary does not necessarily entail providing a strict definition; merely a description of some aspect of the word or phrase could suffice for inclusion in the dictionary.

Originally, Urban Dictionary was intended as a dictionary of slang, or cultural words or phrases, not typically found in standard dictionaries, but it is now used to define any word or phrase. Words or phrases on Urban Dictionary may have multiple definitions, usage examples, and tags. Some examples include, but are not limited to "Angry Hitler" or "Russian Candy Cane."

Visitors to Urban Dictionary may submit definitions without registering, but they must provide a valid email address. Before new definitions are included in the dictionary, they must be approved by voluntary editors. Editors are not given any guidelines to use when approving or rejecting definitions.

Although the explicit nature of many definitions on the site has led to objections, the site contains many non-explicit definitions. For example, the word "massive" is Jamaican in origin and is used to describe a group or collective. Peckham responded to the issue, stating that people may not be able to understand the meaning of such words without the aid of Urban Dictionary.

Quality Control

By default, each definition is automatically accepted or rejected based on the number of "Publish" or "Don't Publish" votes it receives from volunteer editors, who are members of the public. The editors are not bound by any criteria for the approval or rejection of definitions. Editors previously needed a valid email address, but it is no longer required, as three options are provided for new words: "Add It!," "Keep Out!," and "I Can't Decide." However, a Facebook or Gmail account is required to post a new definition.

Editors are distinguished by their IP address, and the site's usage of HTTP cookies limits each editor from voting on any particular definition too many times. If a definition is initially rejected, it is automatically rejected if it is resubmitted in the same form at a future time. If a definition is published, it is immediately displayed on the site. The definition can then be voted "up" or "down" by site visitors. In late 2011, the site was reviewed by about 20,000 editors on a monthly basis.


Since 1999 Urban Dictionary has exploded with popularity. Over one million people visit Urban Dictionary every day. Within the first ten years of Urban Dictionary’s existence, it received over five million definitions. At the start of 2014, the dictionary had over seven million definitions, while 2,000 new entries were being added daily.  In November 2014, the Advertise page of the website stated that, on a monthly basis, Urban Dictionary averages 72 million impressions and 18 million unique readers. According to Peckham in January 2014, just under 40 percent of the site’s traffic is international, while the site's audience was predominantly male and aged between 15 and 24.

Use By IBM’s “Watson”

IBM had programmed Watson to use Urban Dictionary. After having all the words and definitions incorporated into Watson, he began responding to researchers' questions with profanity, leading the programmers to remove it from its memory and adding an additional filter to prevent it from swearing in the future.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Chirality without Metal Catalysts

Introduction by the Blog Author

Chemical compounds may have the same formula and similar arthitecture, but many of these, such as “left handed” and “right handed” enantiomers, have different chemical properties.  Forming and differentiating these compounds often involves use of metallic catalysts, which can lead to impuritries and to manufacture of drugs that have an undesirable chiladry,

Rice University scientists have developed organic catalysts that avoid the risks introduced by metallic catalyst.

See also “The fascinating characteristic of Chirality,” an April 5, 2011, post to this blog.

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Chemical Design Made Easier
Rice University scientists prepare elusive organocatalysts for drug and fine chemical synthesis 

HOUSTON – (Nov. 24, 2015) – Rice University scientists using an efficient metal-free process have synthesized dozens of small-molecule catalysts, tools that promise to speed the making of novel chemicals, including drugs.

The lab of synthetic chemist László Kürti made elusive chiral biaryl compounds in a single-flask process that does not require the use of transition metals.

These biaryls are called organocatalysts because they catalyze chemical reactions without metal ions. They eliminate the need for transition metals and simplify chemical processes to synthesize new molecules. Transition metals are conductive metals that include titanium, iron, nickel, silver, copper, palladium and gold and are commonly used in catalysis.

The new tools detailed in the Angewandte Chemie international edition open avenues for faster and more cost-effective chemical synthesis, Kürti said.

Biaryls are molecular compounds of two aromatic rings directly joined by a carbon-carbon bond. When functionalized, or altered, these biaryls (phenyl-phenyl, naphthyl-phenyl, thienyl-naphthyl and more) become highly selective, reliable and customizable catalysts, Kürti said.

 An illustration details the single-step, single-flask process by which Rice University scientists have simplified the rapid synthesis of small-molecule catalysts. The catalysts promise to speed the process of making novel chemicals, including drugs. (Credit: Illustration by László Kürti/Rice University) - See more at:
Kürti’s research uses biaryls as catalysts to develop novel single-enantiomer compounds.

Enantiomers are asymmetrical molecules found among organic compounds. Like one’s hands, their structures are mirror images that cannot be superimposed on each other. Significantly, these twins can have radically different effects – one beneficial, one not — as they interact with enzymes, proteins, receptors and even other chiral catalysts. Pharmaceutical companies understandably want to make drugs that contain only the helpful enantiomer.

Currently, single-enantiomer compounds are painstakingly synthesized as building blocks for drugs, agricultural products and functional materials.

Kürti said that by decade’s end, 95 percent of chiral drugs will be sold as single enantiomers. But synthesizing one particular enantiomer with precision and high efficiency is hard, especially via trial-and-error approaches that to now often require transition metal catalysts.

“For enantiomer preparations, you need catalysts,” he said, but transition metals are expensive and can leave toxic residues that need to be removed before the compound can be used in clinical trials. The Rice lab’s simple, cost-effective way to make chiral-functionalized biaryls not only eliminates the need for transition metals but can replace many steps in the synthesis process. Each step can take days or weeks.

“That’s the basis of what we do: Develop new methods,” Kürti said. “Part of my program is coming up with new catalyst structures. When we were looking at the various ways to put such compounds together, we stumbled upon this very interesting reaction.”

The lab combined readily available compounds, including quinone monoacetal and naphthol, to make functionalized biaryls. “This is a major advance,” he said. “Using these building blocks, we made 41 different chiral biaryl compounds in a relatively short time.

“The functionalized chiral biaryls are really versatile compounds. You can use them outright as organocatalysts or complex them with transition metals to make new transition-metal catalysts. So the possibilities are unlimited. Moreover, these compounds can be used as building blocks en route to natural products with biaryl substructures in them.”

He said the biaryls “open up an entire world of new chemical space,” as they lower the barrier to inventing and making new chemical compounds.

“The implications are huge,” Kürti said. “This will certainly find its way into drug discovery, making agrochemicals and many other fine chemicals.”

Co-authors of the paper are postdoctoral researcher Hongyin Gao and graduate student Craig Keene of Rice; Qing-Long Xu, a former postdoctoral researcher in the Kürti group who is now a professor of chemistry at China Pharmaceutical University; Muhammed Yousufuddin, a lecturer of chemistry at the University of North Texas at Dallas; and Daniel Ess, a professor of chemistry at Brigham Young University. Kürti is an associate professor of chemistry at Rice.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Neoconservatism Summary

Neoconservatism (commonly shortened to neocon) is a political movement born in the United States during the 1960s among Democrats who became disenchanted with the party's domestic and especially foreign policy. Many of its adherents became politically famous during the Republican presidential administrations of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Neoconservatives peaked in influence during the administrations of George W. Bush, George H W Bush and Tony Blair, when they played a major role in promoting and planning the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  Prominent neoconservatives in the Bush administration included Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, and Paul Bremer.  Senior officials Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, while not identifying themselves as neoconservatives, listened closely to neoconservative advisers regarding foreign policy, especially the defense of Israel, the promotion of democracy in the Middle East, and the buildup of American military forces to achieve these goals. The neocons have influence in the Obama White House, and neoconservatism remains a staple in both Partys arsenal.

The term "neoconservative" refers to those who made the ideological journey from the anti-Stalinist Left to the camp of American conservatism.  Neoconservatives typically advocate the promotion of democracy and promotion of American national interest in international affairs, including by means of military force, and are known for espousing disdain for communism and for political radicalism.  Many early neoconservative thinkers were Zionist and published articles in Commentary, published by the American Jewish Committee.  They spoke out against the New Left, and in that way helped define the movement.  C. Bradley Thompson, a professor at Clemson University, claims that most influential neoconservatives refer explicitly to the theoretical ideas in the philosophy of Leo Strauss (1899–1973), though in doing so they may draw upon meaning that Strauss himself did not endorse.


The term neoconservative may be used pejoratively by self-described paleoconservatives, Democrats, liberals, progressives, or libertarians.

Critics take issue with neoconservatives' support for interventionistic foreign policy. Critics from the left take issue with what they characterize as unilateralism and lack of concern with international consensus through organizations such as the United Nations.

Critics from both the left and right have assailed neoconservatives for the role Israel plays in their policies on the Middle East.

Neoconservatives respond by describing their shared opinion as a belief that national security is best attained by actively promoting freedom and democracy abroad as in the democratic peace theory through the endorsement of democracy, foreign aid and in certain cases military intervention. This is different from the traditional conservative tendency to endorse friendly regimes in matters of trade and anti-communism even at the expense of undermining existing democratic systems.

Republican Congressman Ron Paul has been a longtime critic of neoconservativism as an attack on freedom and the U.S. Constitution, including an extensive speech on the House floor addressing neoconservative beginnings and how neoconservatism is neither new nor conservative.

Paul Krugman in a column named 'Years Of Shame' commemorating the tenth anniversary of 9/11 attacks, criticized the Neoconservatives for causing a war unrelated to 9/11 attacks and fought for wrong reasons.[

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Epoxy Resins

Epoxy is a term used to denote both the basic components and the cured end products of epoxy resins, as well as a colloquial name for the epoxide functional group. Epoxy resins, also known as polyepoxides are a class of reactive prepolymers and polymers which contain epoxide groups. Epoxy resins may be reacted (cross-linked) either with themselves through catalytic homopolymerisation, or with a wide range of co-reactants including polyfunctional amines, acids (and acid anhydrides), phenols, alcohols and thiols. These co-reactants are often referred to as hardeners or curatives, and the cross-linking reaction is commonly referred to as curing. Reaction of polyepoxides with themselves or with polyfunctional hardeners forms a thermosetting polymer, often with high mechanical properties, temperature and chemical resistance. Epoxy has a wide range of applications, including metal coatings, use in electronics / electrical components, high tension electrical insulators, fiber-reinforced plastic materials and structural adhesives.

Epoxy Resin

Epoxy resins are low molecular weight pre-polymers or higher molecular weight polymers which normally contain at least two epoxide groups. The epoxide group is also sometimes referred to as a glycidyl or oxirane group.


Structure of an epoxy glue derived from a triamine hardener (red) mixed with bisphenol A diglycidyl ether resin (abbreviated in black). Notice that the material is highly crosslinked and that it contains many OH groups, which confer adhesive properties.

A wide range of epoxy resins are produced industrially. The raw materials for epoxy resin production are today largely petroleum derived, although some plant derived sources are now becoming commercially available (e.g. plant derived glycerol used to make epichlorohydrin).

Epoxy resins are polymeric or semi-polymeric materials, and as such rarely exist as pure substances, since variable chain length results from the polymerisation reaction used to produce them. High purity grades can be produced for certain applications, e.g. using a distillation purification process. One downside of high purity liquid grades is their tendency to form crystalline solids due to their highly regular structure, which require melting to enable processing.

An important criterion for epoxy resins is the epoxide content. This is commonly expressed as the epoxide number, which is the number of epoxide equivalents in 1kg of resin (Eq./kg), or as the equivalent weight, which is the weight in grammes of resin containing 1 mole equivalent of epoxide (g/mol). One measure may be simply converted to another:

Equivalent weight (g/mol) = 1000 / epoxide number (Eq./kg)

The equivalent weight or epoxide number is used to calculate the amount of co-reactant (hardener) to use when curing epoxy resins. Epoxies are typically cured with stoichiometric or near-stoichiometric quantities of curative to achieve maximum physical properties.

As with other classes of thermoset polymer materials, blending different grades of epoxy resin, as well as use of additives, plasticizers or fillers is common to achieve the desired processing and/or final properties, or to reduce cost. Use of blending, additives and fillers is often referred to as formulating.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Origin of Earth's Oxygen

A Whiff from Blue-Green Algae Likely
Responsible for Earth’s Oxygen: Study
Thursday, November 19, 2015

University of Waterloo -- Earth's oxygen-rich atmosphere emerged in whiffs from a kind of blue-green algae in shallow oceans around 2.5 billion years ago, according to new research from Canadian and US scientists. 
                                             Photo credit: Mableen/iStock

These whiffs of oxygen likely happened in the following 100 million years, changing the levels of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere until enough accumulated to create a permanently oxygenated atmosphere around 2.4 billion years ago – a transition widely known as the Great Oxidation Event.

“The onset of Earth's surface oxygenation was likely a complex process characterized by multiple whiffs of oxygen until a tipping point was crossed,” said Brian Kendall, a professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Waterloo. “Until now, we haven’t been able to tell whether oxygen concentrations 2.5 billion years ago were stable or not. These new data provide a much more conclusive answer to that question.”

The findings are presented in a paper published this month in Science Advances from researchers at Waterloo, University of Alberta, Arizona State University, University of California Riverside, and Georgia Institute of Technology. The team presents new isotopic data showing that a burst of oxygen production by photosynthetic cyanobacteria temporarily increased oxygen concentrations in Earth's atmosphere.

“One of the questions we ask is: ‘did the evolution of photosynthesis lead directly to an oxygen-rich atmosphere? Or did the transition to today's world happen in fits-and-starts?" said Professor Ariel Anbar of Arizona State University. “How and why Earth developed an oxygenated atmosphere is one of the most profound puzzles in understanding the history of our planet.”

The new data supports a hypothesis proposed by Anbar and his team in 2007. In Western Australia, they found preliminary evidence of these oxygen whiffs in black shales deposited on the seafloor of an ancient ocean.

The black shales contained high concentrations of the elements molybdenum and rhenium, long before the Great Oxidation Event.

These elements are found in land-based sulphide minerals, which are particularly sensitive to the presence of atmospheric oxygen. Once these minerals react with oxygen, the molybdenum and rhenium are released into rivers and eventually end up deposited on the sea floor.

In the new paper, researchers analyzed the same black shales for the relative abundance of an additional element: osmium. Like molybdenum and rhenium, osmium is also present in continental sulfide minerals. The ratio of two osmium isotopes – 187Os to 188Os – can tell us if the source of osmium was continental sulfide minerals or underwater volcanoes in the deep ocean.

The osmium isotope evidence found in black shales correlates with higher continental weathering as a result of oxygen in the atmosphere. By comparison, slightly younger deposits with lower molybdenum and rhenium concentrations had osmium isotope evidence for less continental input, indicating the oxygen in the atmosphere had disappeared.

The paper’s authors also include Professor Robert Creaser of the University of Alberta, Professor Timothy Lyons from the University of California Riverside and Professor Chris Reinhard from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Monday, November 23, 2015

An Open Letter to Muslims

You Worry Me
By: American Airlines Pilot - Captain John Maniscalco
written late 2001 and possibly early in 2002

"You worry me. I wish you didn't. I wish when I walked down the streets of this country that I love, that your color and culture still blended with the beautiful human landscape we enjoy in this country. But you don't blend in anymore. I notice you, and it worries me. I notice you because I can't help it anymore. People from your homelands, professing to be Muslims, have been attacking and killing my fellow citizens and our friends for more than 20 years now. I don't fully understand their grievances and hate but I know that nothing can justify the inhumanity of their attacks.

On September 11, nineteen ARAB-MUSLIMS hijacked four jetliners in my country. They cut the throats of women in front of children and brutally stabbed to death others. They took control of those planes and crashed them into buildings killing thousands of proud fathers, loving sons, wise grandparents, elegant daughters, best friends, favorite coaches, fearless public servants, and children's mothers.

So I notice you now. I don't want to be worried. I don't want to be consumed by the same rage and hate and prejudice that has destroyed the soul of these terrorists. But I need your help. As a rational American, trying to protect my country and family in an irrational and unsafe world, I must know how to tell the difference between you, and the Arab/Muslim terrorist.

How do I differentiate between the true Arab-Muslim Americans and the Arab-Muslims in our communities who are attending our schools, enjoying our parks, and living in OUR communities under the protection of OUR constitution, while they plot the next attack that will slaughter those very same good neighbors and children? The events of September 11th changed the answer. It is not my responsibility to determine which of you embraces our great country, with ALL of it's religions, with ALL of it's different citizens, with all of it's faults. It is time for every Arab-Muslim in this country to determine it for me.

I want to know, I demand to know, and I have a right to know whether or not you love America. Do you pledge allegiance to it's flag? Do you proudly display in front of your house, or on your car? Do you pray in your many daily prayers that Allah will bless this nation, that He will protect and prosper it?

Or do you pray that Allah with destroy it in one of your "Jihads"? Are you thankful for the freedom that only this nation affords? A freedom that was paid for by the blood of hundreds of thousands of patriots who gave their lives for this country? Are you willing to preserve this freedom by paying the ultimate sacrifice? Do you love America? If this is your commitment, then I need YOU to start letting ME know about it.

Your Muslim leaders in this nation should be flooding the media at this time with hard facts on your faith, and what hard actions you are taking as a community and as a religion to protect the United States of America. Please, no more benign overtures of regret for the death of the innocent because I worry about who you regard as innocent. And no more benign overtures of condemnation for the unprovoked attacks because I worry about what is unprovoked to you. I am not interested in any more sympathy ... I am only interested in action. What will you do for America — our great country — at this time of crisis, at this time of war?

I want to see Arab-Muslims waving the AMERICAN flag in the streets. I want to hear you chanting "Allah Bless America". I want to see young Arab-Muslim men enlisting in the military. I want to see a commitment of money, time, and emotion to the victims of this butchering and to this nation as a whole.

The FBI has a list of over 400 people they want to talk to regarding the WTC attack. Many of these people live and socialize in Muslim communities. You know them. You know where they are. Hand them over to us, now!

But I have seen little even approaching this sort of action. Instead I have seen an already closed and secretive community close even tighter. You have disappeared from the streets. You have posted armed security guards at your facilities. You have threatened lawsuits. You have screamed for protection from reprisals.

The very few Arab-Muslim representatives that HAVE appeared in the media were defensive and equivocating. They seemed more concerned with making sure that the United States prove who was responsible before taking action. They seemed more concerned with protecting their fellow Muslims from violence directed towards them in the United States and abroad than they did with supporting our country and denouncing "leaders" like Khadafi, Hussein, Farrakhan, and Arafat. If the true teachings of Islam proclaim tolerance and peace and love for all people then I want chapter and verse from the Koran and statements from popular Muslim leaders to back it up. What good is it if the teachings in the Koran are good and pure and true when your "leaders" are teaching fanatical interpretations, terrorism, and intolerance.

It matters little how good Islam SHOULD BE if large numbers of the world's Muslims interpret the teachings of Mohammed incorrectly and adhere to a degenerative form of the religion. A form that has been demonstrated to us over and over again. A form whose structure is built upon a foundation of violence, death, and suicide. A form whose members are recruited from the prisons around the world. A form whose members defended Johnny Cochran and O. J. Simpson after the latter butchered his wife and murdered an innocent friend. A form whose members (some as young as five years old) are seen day after day, week in and week out, year after year, marching in the streets around the world, burning effigies of our presidents, burning the American flag, shooting weapons into the air. A form whose members convert from a peaceful religion, only to take up arms against the great United States of America, the country of their birth. A form whose rules are so twisted, that their traveling members refuse to show their faces at airport security checkpoints, in the name of Islam.

Do you and your fellow Muslims hate us because our women proudly show their faces in public rather than cover up like a shameful whore?

Do you and your fellow Muslims hate us because we drink wine with dinner, or celebrate Christmas? Do you and you fellow Muslims hate us because we have befriended Israel, the ONLY civilized democratic nation in the entire middle-east? And if you and your fellow Muslims hate us, then why in the world are you even here?

Are you here to take our money? Are you here to undermine our peace and stability? Are you here to destroy us? If so, I want you to leave. I want you to go back to your desert sandpit where women are treated like rats and dogs. I want you to take your religion, your friends, and your family back to your Islamic extremists, and STAY THERE!

We will NEVER give in to your influence, your retarded mentality, your twisted, violent, intolerant religion. We will NEVER allow the attacks of September 11, or any others for that matter, to take away that which is so precious to us: Our rights under the greatest constitution in the world.

I want to know where every Arab-Muslim in this country stands and I think it is my right and the right of every true citizen of this country to demand it. A right paid for by the blood of thousands of my brothers and sisters who died protecting the very constitution that is protecting you and your family. I am pleading with you to let me know. I want you here as my brother, my neighbor, my friend, as a fellow American. But there can be no gray areas or ambivalence regarding your allegiance and it is up to YOU, to show ME, where YOU stand."

Until then ... you worry me.

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October 2001 text and authenticity check are at:

Also vetted at:

We and the French were warned by a former Muslim earlier this year after the PREVIOUS attack on the magazine office in Paris:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Great Xanadu Soundtrack and Lousy Movie

Xanadu Movie and Soundtrack Introduction

Xanadu was a campy, confusingly narrated and supremely goofy movie with Olivia Newton John, Gene Kelly (his last filmed performance) and Cliff Richard.  Let’s admit that it was a lousy movie that, arguably, never should have been released to theatres.  But that soundtrack!  It’s fetching, touching, clever and uplifting.  I would recommend getting the mp3 file of the soundtrack from Amazon, because it is a re-mastered ear-opener vastly superior to the duller sound of the original very-early-era CD release.

And take the time to read these insightful customer reviews of Xanadu from Amazon as shown immediately below.

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102 of 109 people found the following review helpful
A Superb Mix of Genres, Voices and Styles
By Jose R. Perez on April 29, 2002
Format: Audio CD

The film "Xanadu" received what I consider the best movie review of all time on its release in 1980: a single sentence that read... "In a word, Xana-don't"!
To be sure, this campy roller-dancehall fairy tale still has its enthusiasts and remains a guilty pleasure for some. In the end, the film was a catastrophe but remains in the Hollywood Babylon pantheon of nostalgia and cult classics for three reasons. First, it ended up being Gene Kelly's swan song from a 4 decade career in film as in the movie, he dances to a charming time-warping tune with a soft-shoeing Olivia Newton-John (his last on screen partner.) Second, ONJ met her future husband Matt Lattanzi on the film set, and the tabloids feasted on their decade-plus age difference while rumors of Matt (and Olivia's) sexual orientation percolated under the surface during the hateful "outing" campaigns of the early 80s.
Perhaps the most lasting legacy of the film, however, rests in this soundtrack - a uniformly strong collection of tracks from the former girl-next-door-gone-bad Olivia and the legendary Electric Light Orchestra, a fusion rock band of operatic depth (alongside the Moody Blues, Yes and Queen - ELO ranks as rock-opera royalty.) Thrown in for fun and easy digestion are guests like Kelly ("Whenever I'm Away from You") Sir Cliff Richard (the sweet easy listening classic "Suddenly" - a top 20 hit with Olivia) and the punkish sound of the Tubes ("Dancin'" - a pop-punk confection with an irresistible hook that gets lost when viewing the unwatchable scene on film or video.) Far superior to that other camp cult classic - "Can't Stop the Music" - Xanadu, the soundtrack, accomplishes a romantic, sweeping vision that the film could only struggle with. ELO's contributions are terrific - essential ELO songs in my opinion, from "All Over the World" and "I'm Alive" to the title song performed with Olivia (a gold selling, top 5 treat.) Stronger still is Newton-John, who comes into her own here in a passionate, forthcoming way. The astounding #1 track "Magic" remains one of the singer's shining moments, and Livvy takes unexpected risks in her delivery, at once gutsy and shy and always singing from the heart. Her "Xanadu" is pitch perfect, and "Suddenly" is every adult contemporary artist's dream song...a lilting ballad of fresh love and hopeful romanticism.
Simply said, say "Xana-don't" to "Xanadu" the movie. But say YES to its accompanying soundtrack, and you'll be singing your heart out before you know it. A true, indelible treat!

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
A Perfect Soundtrack That Should Have Been A Disaster
By guillermoj on July 26, 2003
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase

When you consider that the music on this CD comes from the cheesy (guilty pleasure for some) 1980 musical "Xanadu", starring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly, you'd assume that it's soundtrack would not have a chance; however this is soundtrack simply astounds as each song is simply amazing.
It features 10 tracks, including some of E.L.O.'s strongest songs ("I'm Alive, "All Over The World", among others), Olivia Newton John's #1 smash "Magic", a gorgeous duet by Newton John and Cliff Richard ("Suddenly") as well as the E.L.O penned "Xanadu" sung by Newton John. It also has a duet between Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly that would seem iffy at best on paper, but it also works.
I can't say enough about this release, which was unavailable in the U.S until a few years ago. It may be in my top 10 soundtracks ever. Enjoy the magic!!!! When I compare this CD to a lot of the junk that is put out there by way of soundtracks, it's amazing that a pre-marketing package can wipe the floor with all the focus group cross-marketing efforts that are now a material part of the music business

Saturday, November 21, 2015

NATO Origin and Members

NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is an international alliance that consists of 28 member states from North America and Europe. It was established at the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949. Article Five of the treaty states that if an armed attack occurs against one of the member states, it should be considered an attack against all members, and other members shall assist the attacked member, with armed forces if necessary.

Of the 28 member countries, two are located in North America (Canada and the United States) and 25 are European countries while Turkey is in Eurasia. All members have militaries, except for Iceland which does not have a typical army (but does, however, have a coast guard and a small unit of civilian specialists for NATO operations). Three of NATO's members are nuclear weapons states: France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. NATO has 12 original founding member nation states and from 18 February 1952 to 1 April 2009 it added 16 more member nations.

Original and Joining Members

NATO has added new members six times since its founding in 1949, and since 2009 NATO has had 28 members. Twelve countries were part of the founding of NATO: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1952, Greece and Turkey became members of the Alliance. In 1990, with the reunification of Germany, NATO grew to include the former country of East Germany. Between 1994 and 1997, wider forums for regional cooperation between NATO and its neighbors were set up, including the Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In 1997, three former Warsaw Pact countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, were invited to join NATO. After this fourth enlargement in 1999, the Vilnius group of The Baltics and seven East European countries formed in May 2000 to cooperate and lobby for further NATO membership. Seven of these countries joined in the fifth enlargement in 2004. Albania and Croatia joined in the sixth enlargement in 2009.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Laser Cools Liquids

UW Team Refrigerates Liquid
With a Laser for the First Time
by Jennifer Langston, University of Washington, November 16, 2015

Since the first laser was invented in 1960, they’ve almost always given off heat — either as a useful tool, a byproduct or a fictional way to vanquish intergalactic enemies.

But those concentrated beams of light have never been able to cool liquids. University of Washington researchers are the first to solve a decades-old puzzle — figuring out how to make a laser refrigerate water and other liquids under real-world conditions.

In a study to be published the week of Nov. 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team used an infrared laser to cool water by about 36 degrees Fahrenheit — a major breakthrough in the field.

“Typically, when you go to the movies and see Star Wars laser blasters, they heat things up. This is the first example of a laser beam that will refrigerate liquids like water under everyday conditions,” said senior author Peter Pauzauskie, UW assistant professor of materials science and engineering. “It was really an open question as to whether this could be done because normally water warms when illuminated.”

The discovery could help industrial users “point cool” tiny areas with a focused point of light. Microprocessors, for instance, might someday use a laser beam to cool specific components in computer chips to prevent overheating and enable more efficient information processing.

Scientists could also use a laser beam to precisely cool a portion of a cell as it divides or repairs itself, essentially slowing these rapid processes down and giving researchers the opportunity to see how they work. Or they could cool a single neuron in a network — essentially silencing without damaging it — to see how its neighbors bypass it and rewire themselves.

“There’s a lot of interest in how cells divide and how molecules and enzymes function, and it’s never been possible before to refrigerate them to study their properties,” said Pauzauskie, who is also a scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. “Using laser cooling, it may be possible to prepare slow-motion movies of life in action. And the advantage is that you don’t have to cool the entire cell, which could kill it or change its behavior.”

The UW team chose infrared light for its cooling laser with biological applications in mind, as visible light could give cells a damaging “sunburn.” They demonstrated that the laser could refrigerate saline solution and cell culture media that are commonly used in genetic and molecular research.

To achieve the breakthrough, the UW team used a material commonly found in commercial lasers but essentially ran the laser phenomenon in reverse. They illuminated a single microscopic crystal suspended in water with infrared laser light to excite a unique kind of glow that has slightly more energy than that amount of light absorbed.

This higher-energy glow carries heat away from both the crystal and the water surrounding it. The laser refrigeration process was first demonstrated in vacuum conditions at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1995, but it has taken nearly 20 years to demonstrate this process in liquids.

Typically, growing laser crystals is an expensive process that requires lots of time and can cost thousands of dollars to produce just a single gram of material. The UW team demonstrated that a low-cost hydrothermal process can be used to manufacture a well-known laser crystal for laser refrigeration applications in a faster, inexpensive and scalable way.

The UW team also designed an instrument that uses a laser trap — akin to a microscopic tractor beam — to “hold” a single nanocrystal surrounded by liquid in a chamber and illuminate it with the laser. To determine whether the liquid is cooling, the instrument also projects the particle’s “shadow” in a way that allows the researchers to observe minute changes in its motion.

As the surrounding liquid cools, the trapped particle slows down, allowing the team to clearly observe the refrigerating effect. They also designed the crystal to change from a blueish-green to a reddish-green color as it cools, like a built-in color thermometer.

“The real challenge of the project was building an instrument and devising a method capable of determining the temperature of these nanocrystals using signatures of the same light that was used to trap them,” said lead author Paden Roder, who recently received his doctorate from the UW in materials science and engineering and now works at Intel Corp.

So far, the UW team has only demonstrated the cooling effect with a single nanocrystal, as exciting multiple crystals would require more laser power. The laser refrigeration process is currently quite energy intensive, Pauzauskie said, and future steps include looking for ways to improve its efficiency.

One day the cooling technology itself might be used to enable higher-power lasers for manufacturing, telecommunications or defense applications, as higher-powered lasers tend to overheat and melt down.

“Few people have thought about how they could use this technology to solve problems because using lasers to refrigerate liquids hasn’t been possible before,” he said. “We are interested in the ideas other scientists or businesses might have for how this might impact their basic research or bottom line.”

The research was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the UW, and benefitted from additional support from the National Science Foundation, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Exploring BEYOND Pluto

Finally! New Horizons Has a Second Target
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla, October 15, 2015

What a huge relief: there is finally a place for New Horizons to visit beyond Pluto. A team of researchers led by John Spencer has discovered three possible targets, all in the Cold Classical part of the Kuiper belt. New Horizons will most likely visit one named "PT1" for "[New Horizons] potential target 1." PT1 has been imaged four more times by Hubble since its discovery, and those followup images have provided enough information on its orbit for four independently working teams to determine that New Horizons will be able to fly close past it in January 2019. It is probably about 30-45 kilometers in diameter and is easily reachable with New Horizons' limited fuel budget; targeting it will require only about 35% of the spacecraft's remaining fuel. New Horizons will have to fly an additional billion kilometers beyond Pluto in order to reach it where it orbits 43.4 AU away from the Sun.

This discovery has been a long time in coming. New Horizons launched toward Pluto in 2006, with plans for a further flyby of a second, likely much smaller Kuiper belt object. The Kuiper belt phase of the mission will turn New Horizons from a single flyby mission into a Kuiper belt tour. The only catch: the second target had not been discovered yet. Based on the current understanding of the population of the Kuiper belt, the New Horizons team expected that a focused survey with large telescopes would yield one or a few objects within New Horizons' reach. Unfortunately, what years of ground-based surveys actually yielded was the unpleasant discovery that our prior understanding of the Kuiper belt population was wrong. There were fewer small objects than predicted, and no reachable object was discovered. This summer, a desperate New Horizons team argued for, and won, the opportunity to use the Hubble Space Telescope to search. I wrote about the Hubble search for a New Horizons Kuiper belt target at length back in June.

Hubble has rescued the New Horizons Kuiper belt mission. In fact, PT1 was discovered during the pilot program, the small initial survey designed to validate the larger search, in pictures taken just a week after the search began. The whole search turned up a total of five potential targets; two have been ruled out. PT1 is certainly targetable, while PT2 and PT3 are potentially targetable.

It was a huge team effort, John Spencer told me. He said "Marc Buie led the data reduction effort, and was the first to find nearly all our Kuiper belt objects. Alex Parker was also a key player, working on predicted orbits that allowed us to stack the data correctly and on orbit determination - it was he who first determined that one of our objects was 100% targetable. Larry Wasserman and Yanping Guo helped us to confirm targetability. Hal Weaver played a huge role in the proposal and in the observation design, and Alan Stern was of course closely involved in all stages of the work. Simon Porter, Amanda Zangari, Anne Verbiscer, Susan Benecchi, Ray Sterner, and Dave Borncamp put a lot of effort into searching the data, and JJ Kavelaars, Keith Noll, Mark Showalter, Jean-Marc Petit, Cesar Fuentes, Dave Tholen, and Mike Belton contributed to the proposal and general strategizing."

PT1 was discovered on June 27 -- just 11 days after the search team was awarded time on Hubble -- in a photo taken by Hubble on June 26. Its existence was flagged by an automated processing pipeline and confirmed by eye by Marc Buie the same day. I asked Alan Stern who would get the discovery credit, and he said it would go to the entire team.

Hubble took followup photos on August 2, 3, 21, and 23 to determine its orbit, and on August 22 Alex Parker determined that the object was targetable by New Horizons. Since then, four independent analyses have confirmed it's within New Horizons' reach. It's a lot of data to sift through; so far, Hubble has acquired 830 images with its Wide Field Camera 3 in its search pattern, plus 100 more follow-up photos of all the objects discovered so far. And it's not easy to spot the faint objects they are looking for. The images contain a million stars that are brighter than PT1.

How close will New Horizons get? Initially, Alex told me, they couldn't entirely rule out the possibility that New Horizons would impact it. The likelihood of that was vanishingly tiny, of course, and after taking the followup images the uncertainty in PT1's position decreased to the point that New Horizons' path no longer intersected the range of the object's possible future positions. But the proximity means that the New Horizons team will be able to choose arbitrarily how close they want to fly to the object, limited by the uncertainty in their understanding of its orbital path. Picking that distance will require balancing the desire to get high-resolution observations with engineering constraints like how fast the spacecraft can rotate at closest approach to target the object. If the object is 30 kilometers in diameter, New Horizons' highest resolution camera, LORRI, would get 100 pixels across it at a range of 60,000 kilometers, or 1000 pixels across it at a range of 6000 kilometers. They will target the object in a burn well after the Pluto encounter, between October and December of 2015.

The object does not yet have a formal name; it is called "1110113Y" on the Hubble website and "PT1" within the New Horizons team. Another numerical designation will come after the object is submitted to the Minor Planet Center, which the search team says it will do after they perform followup observations with Hubble in October to pin down the astrometry more precisely. Eventually, it will get a provisional name (2014 followed by some letters and numbers) from the Minor Planet Center. Hopefully it will get a formal name before January 2019, which is when New Horizons will fly past it.

Although PT1 is the most likely of the Hubble-discovered objects to be targeted, it's possible that followup observations may make PT2 or PT3 more desirable. PT2 and PT3 are both slightly brighter than PT1 and are therefore probably larger. Unfortunately, it's not possible to target two of these objects within New Horizons' fuel budget; they must select one.

What do we know about PT1 so far? Its orbit is circular and close to the plane of the ecliptic, so it is a Cold Classical Kuiper belt object, meaning that it has had a very different history from Pluto. Pluto is a member of a population of objects in the Kuiper belt whose orbits were changed as Neptune migrated outward, scattering them. Pluto now has an inclined and elliptical orbit that is locked in a resonance with Neptune, such that Pluto orbits the Sun twice for every three times Neptune does. In contrast, Cold Classical objects were probably never tossed around in this way. So PT1 could be very pristine, a cold, never-heated relic of solar system formation. On the other hand, it's very small, estimated to be 30 to 45 kilometers in diameter, and scientists think that most objects of that size are not primordial, but are actually fragments from collisions of larger objects, which would make it less pristine. No matter what, its size and orbital position mean that it will look very, very different from Pluto.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"The X Files" Returns

The X-Files miniseries is an upcoming continuation of the American science fiction horror drama television series The X-Files, created by Chris Carter, which originally aired for nine seasons from 1993 to 2002 on Fox. On March 24, 2015, Fox announced the series would return for a six-episode event series.  The series will have a two-night premiere, debuting on Sunday, January 24, 2016, with the following episode airing on Monday at 8:00 pm, the timeslot in which the remaining episodes will also air. The premiere episode was screened at New York Comic Con on October 10, 2015. 

                                                                      He's back!

The X-Files aired from 1993 to 2002 on Fox and followed the exploits of federal agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) as they investigated crimes linked to the paranormal. The series also spawned two films, the eponymous 1998 film, and The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008). In several interviews around the release, series creator Chris Carter said that if The X-Files: I Want to Believe proved successful at the box office, a third installment would be made going back to the TV series' mythology, focusing specifically on the alien invasion and colonization of Earth foretold in the series finale, due to occur on December 22, 2012.  In an October 2009 interview, Duchovny said he would want to do a 2012 X-Files film, but did not know if he would get the chance.  Anderson stated in August 2012 that a third X-Files film was "looking pretty good".  At the New York Comic Con held October 10–13, 2013, Duchovny and Anderson reaffirmed that they and Carter are interested in making a third film, with Anderson saying "If it takes fan encouragement to get Fox interested in that, then I guess that’s what it would be.”  On January 17, 2015, Fox Television Group chairman and CEO Gary Newman revealed that there was network interest in reviving The X-Files, not as a film franchise, but as a limited run television event series.


In March 2015, it was claimed by several sources that the network would order a short-run season of less than ten episodes, with an initial guess of six. The decision to cut the order down to only a few installments was reportedly done so that the network could work around the busy schedules of Duchovny and Anderson; Duchovny himself said he had no interest in doing a full season because: "We're all old, we don't have the energy for a full season."  The article also claimed that, if all went as planned, the series would begin filming in the summer of 2015.  It was also confirmed by both Davis and Carter that the series would return to Vancouver for filming.  Filming began on June 8 and finished on September 3.