June 20th, 2012

#3436: Could I PLEASE just get some f-ing SLEEP?

Happened again: couldn't get to sleep until after 6 AM because my feet were too hot and God alone knows what else is wrong with me. And naturally I was awakened by the phone before noon.

It wouldn't bother me nearly as much if it were a perennial problem, but it only happens when I'm trying to go to bed in the dark. I have no trouble sleeping when the sun's up.

"Was your mother frightened by a vampire?" Ironically, yes: she saw Dracula (Bela Lugosi version) in the theater and it scared her. This was quite a long while before she was pregnant with me, though perhaps it still counts. *sigh*

* * *

Ace says, "...[T]he coverup of Fast And Furious now officially goes all the way to Obama."

So much for "the most transparent administration in history".

Here's a CNN piece on the story.

I wonder how things would have played out if Nixon had been able to successfully assert this modern interpretation of "executive privilege" over Watergate? Would we even refer to scandals as "[whatever]gate"? Or would Nixon have served his entire second term leading to Ford's election in 1976, and the election of God-knows-who in 1980?

* * *

Liberals show their true faces yet again. Yelling "burn in hell" at kindergarteners who are singing a song they don't like. WTF.

* * *

The Chicago Tribune is one of the two Chicago daily newspapers which is fit only for wrapping fish. Chicago has only two daily newspapers. You do the math.

...if we just don't report all the black-on-white hate crimes, why, they don't exist and there isn't a problem! Right? Right?

I simply will not go into the city any more. I refuse to go downtown for any reason. It'd be nice to visit the museums and such, but it's just too damned dangerous.

* * *

Obama's policies aren't helping the wildfires out west any. There are nine--nine--airborne tankers available to the US Forestry service.

Years of mismanagement by the US Forestry service have led to the conditions that allow these wildfires to occur, and then when they inevitably happen, there's no equipment to deal with them.

Nine aircraft. Shit.

* * *

A guy from Goldman Sachs is predicting more quantitative easing. I don't know how much I trust his prognostication, though, considering that he also says this:
The risk of inflation is remote, and even when it becomes less remote Fed officials should be easily able to tighten policy sufficiently,...
"Remote"? Obviously this is some new meaning of the word "remote" of which I was previously unaware.

Remember the old commercials for Palmolive dish detergent? The ones where a manicurist uses it? "You're soaking in it!"

Dude? We're soaking in inflation and we're doing it right the fuck now. I realize that you don't see it since you probably make a few million a year and pay a very minor fraction of your income for food and energy, but for those of us on the other end of the spectrum it's a very serious problem.

Every single economic policy the Obama administration has promoted has been inflationary. EVERY ONE. I've lost track of how much value the dollar has lost since he took office, but it was 15% two years ago and I know that figure hasn't declined.

* * *

The Anchoress links to a memo from a CBS News writer to NBC, taking them to task for their creative editing.

The memo says, among other things:
You deserve what they’re saying about you. It’s earned. You have worked long and hard to merit the suspicion, acrimony, mistrust and revulsion that the media-buying public increasingly heaps upon you.
Well, sooner or later everyone sees the light, I guess.

* * *

Somewhere along the way I found this manga series called Aku no Hana. The rough translation of the title is "Devil's Flower" (or maybe "Demon's Flower") and it's a pretty challenging story.

I do not like "challenging" very much, so it's surprising that this one caught my attention.

The basic setup is, this kid is enamored of the writings of some French author who is (apparently) something of a nihilist. His life is more-or-less normal until, one day, he comes across the gym uniform belonging to the girl he's got a crush on. Nanako Saeki is a top student, and very beautiful; and that particular day she's forgotten her gym bag. It's right there on the classroom floor, and there's no one around, so he takes the uniform out of the bag and is looking at it when he hears a noise. He panics, stuffs it under his shirt, and runs away. Though it's not premeditated, he's stolen the girl's gym uniform.

It develops that someone saw him stealing the uniform. That's bad enough; but to make it even worse the person who saw him take the uniform is the girl that sits behind him in class--Nakamura--to whom the phrase "troubled teen" scarcely does justice.

What follows is an asymptotic plunge into the abyss. It starts off slowly, but then it accelerates, and as of yesterday--in chapter 32--the coming disaster seems both obvious and inevitable.

I can't foresee the ending, either. I mean, I know what the artist wants me to expect, but he's got this annoying habit of setting up an expectation and then doing something different that I couldn't foresee and which makes perfect f-ing sense.

It does look like the story is reaching its climax, though. I don't even know if the kid will make it out alive, and further I can't predict what will happen to Saeki, either, but I'm pretty sure that Nakamura will not.

This one went stagnant for a while, but in the last week 5 chapters have been scanlated. Hopefully they'll finish it soon, because dang.

* * *

Looks like it might be a bit cooler this weekend. 50% chance of rain tomorrow, and we need it.

* * *

Yesterday, while giving Lemonzen the tour of the bunker, I realized that it was 30 years to the day since my late sister had been married in the back yard under the maple tree. I had to count decades on my fingers to be sure, but yeah: June 19, 1982; 1992, 2002, 2012--thirty years.


* * *

I may have written about this before, but over the past week or so I've been thinking about it.

There was this show on PBS--POV was the name, as I recall, meaning "point of view"--and it was primarily meant to be a showcase of short-format amateur films. I don't remember offhand why I taped the first episode of it; it might be because it included the music video for the Psychafunkapus song "TV: Drug of a Nation" which a friend and I had heard on the radio once and liked.

But the first video was about a young woman's very bad day, interacting with her mother. It starts in the morning with her roommate coming into her room. (Hot roommate, by the way.)

She says, "Okay...Alison? Don't be mad." Any time anyone starts a conversation with the exhortation "don't be mad" it is never a good thing, and she goes on to demonstrate. "Greg slept over last night? I borrowed your diaphragm."

There's a little pause.

"Don't get all upset! I can give it back to you in six hours."

Another little pause.

Then the roommate asks, exasperated, "What?" As if she can't understand why Alison is upset. Then the camera angle changes and shows Alison, in her bed, rolling over and pulling the covers up in order to hide from the world for a few more minutes....

This is all I remember from the short, but it was the best part anyway.

#3437: Time is NOT slowing down.

I saw this Ace post a few days ago and forgot about it until just now.
What if time is simply ticking more slowly, giving rise to the illusion of a rapidly expanding universe, when the real culprit is time, literally, running out and slowing to a crawl?
Emphasis his.

WTF is this shit? Time is a dimension like the three spatial ones; you might as well say that the expansion appears to be accelerating because up is getting shorter.

If I may be permitted to put on my "pure science" hat for a bit...

We perceive the universe as having linear, unidirectional time because of how we're built. Our perception of the physical universe is predicated on certain chemical reactions taking place in a strict causal relationship. These reactions are one-way in that it takes an enormous amount of energy to reverse them, and the principle of least action generally prevents them from happening that way spontaneously.

(Omitted: any discussion of the soul. I said "pure science". IMHO the body is a meat-machine interface for the soul to connect to the universe...but this is not relevant to this discussion.)

But the universe in fact doesn't have time; it has a time dimension. (And quite possibly more than one.) There is no gigantic chronometer somewhere which is gradually increasing the span between each tick of the second hand; that's as silly as saying there's a gigantic measuring stick somewhere which is gradually getting shorter (or longer). In fact, the actual notion of objective time is meaningless; without an observer inside the universe there is no time. The universe is a vast multidimensional structure; viewed from outside it just is.

At one end there's the Big Bang, and through some fourth or fifth or twentieth dimension it expands from there into whence it goes. Absolutely everything is contained in that structure.

A Square of Flatland lives in a three-dimensional space but can't see the third dimension he live in because that dimension is time. His entire life is lived in a cube that he can't perceive; the first infinitesimal slice of the cube is his birth, and the last inifinitesimal slice is his death. His life and movements form a complex shape within the cube when viewed as a solid in three dimensions but he doesn't see it that way. He sees only one 2D slice at any given instant, and perceives the other slices as "time"--past, present, and future.

So how does "time" slow down in that instance? It doesn't. It can't. As I said, it's like saying "up is getting shorter!" The chemical reactions that take place in Mr. Square's brain determine his perception of "time", not any characteristic inherent in the universe he occupies.

What all this means is that the astronomers don't know what the hell is going on.

The universe is expanding? We think this is correct but we don't really know. It's based entirely on the doppler shifts in galactic spectra, and for all we know it could be something else we don't understand that's doing it. Maybe the universe is steady-state and the doppler shift is happening for some other reason. The theory of an expanding universe makes perfect sense, mind you, but it could be wrong.

Why is it accelerating? Is it actually accelerating, or is there some factor we're not taking into account? Are we sure we understand the behavior of photons over very large distances? Could it be because the universe is expanding and the light has to travel ever-farther, so while it's en route the expansion of the universe is enough to red-shift it more than the relative motion would by itself?

That sounds crazy, but 14 billion light years is a very long distance. If you're a photon traveling 14 billion light years, the unmeasurably tiny bit of expansion you feel at a local level is probably enough to red-shift your wavelength--to a significant degree--after you keep experiencing it continuously for fourteen billion years.

Does the math account for that? Can it?

I don't know, but I'm confident that we're not literally running out of time.