The Real Tomorrow

The only advantage to getting old is grandkids.  Of course, I’m sure there exist grandkids from hell but as a general concept, grandkids are a great idea.  They allow us to have fun, hang out with young people and then send them back to the people who have the real work of attempting to civilize them.  All plusses.  No minuses.

Every year at about this time the local engineering school, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) sponsors a science exhibition for kids.  The call it “Touch Tomorrow”

( http://wp.wpi.edu/touchtomorrow/the-festival/wpi-research-exhibits/ ).  WPI is affiliated with NASA and provides robotics and other expertise for Mars rovers and robotic components that dig and manipulate objects and sense light and other functions.  So, there are exhibits and presentations on many subjects involving spaceflight, robots and futuristic technology of all sorts.  For my oldest grandson this is like being in heaven.

And it’s pretty good stuff for me too.  Being an engineer and an inveterate fan of science fiction many of the topics are highly interesting and even answer some of my questions about the whichness of what.  So, this event is an annual win-win for me and my descendant.

But, of course, being in New England and the bluest of blue states, the fair has its share of pc virtue signaling and progressive biases.  I won’t go into all of them but suffice it to say that the celebration of women in science and technology is just a little too loud and a little too shrill.  That being said, I noticed a couple of things that gave me some small reason for optimism.

The first was at the forensic medicine exhibit.  A woman who had worked for the coroner had a table full of bones.  She was explaining to the kids how physical parameters of skeletons could allow a coroner to estimate very accurately the age of a child based on evidence from a skull.  This had to do with the stages of dentition.  Then she had a skull of Neanderthal Man.  She was able to relate the difference between Neanderthal and modern humans based on the differences in skull shape and bone thickness.  Finally, she was able to point to the differences in skulls based on sex and also race.  She had skulls for the three major racial families (Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid) and for men and women.  I was shocked that a pack of screeching SJWs had not driven her out of the hall for espousing these hate crimes.  That not only were there physical differences between the races but that men and women were divided along anatomical lines.  Such an outrage.

The second thing I heard was during a presentation by a physics professor on the Universe.  He described the scientific method and very pointedly declared that no scientific fact was ever settled.  He stated categorically that a theory that was refuted by evidence was false.  And he further stated that a true scientist is always hoping that experiments used to prove a theory refute it in some way because these differences from theory are the basis for an increase in knowledge.  He said that when the Higgs Boson was confirmed last year, the disappointment was that it was exactly as calculated.  Even though the discovery was a great triumph of the standard model, the fact that nothing new was learned was a let-down to those hoping for new information.  I was tempted to ask what he thought of global warming data but I didn’t want to get this faithful acolyte of science burned at the stake by adolescents.

After the presentation, I spoke with this physicist and pinned him down about one particular “fact” that he showed during his presentation.  When describing the size of the universe he stated that the universe was potentially 93 billion light years wide.  I asked him whether the universe is currently believed to be bounded or unbounded.  He stated it was believed to be unbounded.  So, I asked him what the physical reality of this edge of the universe at 93 billion light years was.  He said all that it is, is the current guess at how far we’ll be able to observe based on the light after the big bang.  And he continued, “beyond that be dragons.”  Now that’s my kind of scientific answer.

After this presentation, we were finished with the exhibition and headed to a steakhouse for beef and potatoes.  I went with the ribeye and baked potato while this younger fellow heretically opted for sirloin and french fries.  Youth is wasted on the young.

During dinner, we continued our debate of the impossibility of producing a machine to endlessly produce electric energy from a single input of mechanical energy to a dynamo.  He wasn’t having any of it.  To prove my loyalty to the laws of thermodynamics and electromagnetism I agreed to fund his project and purchased a number of components for his machine on (of course) Amazon.com.  In this way, we could provide evidence to confirm or dispute his law of perpetual motion.

When we got to my house, his grandmother provided ice cream and I provided classic horror movies, specifically, “The Bride of Frankenstein” and “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.”  Being a purist I strongly disapprove of TCFTBL being included in the Universal canon.  But we live in disordered times and allowances must be made.

After I returned him to his parents it occurred to me that the name Touch Tomorrow could also be a description for older people spending time with their grandchildren.  They literally are tomorrow and by influencing them we make probably the most lasting effect we will have on the future.  Considering all the negative influences on our children from the forces of progressivism I thought about how good it is that we can impact them directly and have fun at the same time.  So, family actually is good for something.  Who knew?

Bathtub Nitroglycerine and Perpetual Motion Machines

Families are a great invention.  They allow us to remember stuff from long ago and be young again.  Case in point, I have a descendant who is in middle school.  He is forever describing to me machines he has invented that turn kinetic energy and wind and sunlight into potential energy stored in batteries and flywheels and allowing him to perpetually power the imaginary kingdom he rules with an iron hand.  On a fairly frequent interval I remind him of the three laws of thermodynamics and the scourge of entropy.  He laughs it off as fake news.  Apparently, his generation has formulated the fourth law, magic.

All of these flights of fancy reminded me of my own early technological history.  As a youngster, I had a fascination with chemistry.  I quickly graduated from the hobbyist set up with a few bottles of sodium bisulfate, test tubes and an alcohol lamp to a professional ground glass distillation set up, temperature controlled electric heating, reagent bottles full of mineral acids and even some formidable organic solvents.  I searched in arcane book stores for the organic chemistry recipes and set-ups that allowed for practical synthesis of various compounds that in my young mind were interesting.  At one point, I obtained an old organic chemistry text that was part of a medical school curriculum from the 1920s.  It included a number of compounds that interested me including nitroglycerine and trinitrotoluene.  I went as far as obtaining all the reagents, equipment and vessels I would need to perform the reaction.  On the day I had set for producing the first batch I was walking down to the supermarket to buy the fifty pounds of ice I needed to cool the reaction when it occurred to me that this might just possibly be a “bad idea.”  You see I remembered that nitroglycerine was a material that wasn’t just dangerous during production but remained sensitive to heat and vibration at all times.  Not owning a reinforced concrete bunker, I realized that after I manufactured the “soup” I had no place to keep it.  Well, no place that would survive a detonation.  Now you might think that this kind of rational evaluation would have steered me clear of all pyrotechnic and explosive materials.  You would be wrong.  The extent of my caution was to shift over to something less unstable but equally exothermic.  I started working with thermite.  In these post 9-11 days I imagine my experiments would probably fall under the heading of possible terror activity.  Back then they were the stuff of Fourth of July celebratory hijinks.  But even these relatively tame and successful forays into amateur pyrotechnics now give me pause.  Just precisely how stupid is a teenage boy when it comes to unsafe activities.  The answer comes back loud and clear.  Infinitely stupid.  I can remember what back then seemed to me to be failsafe precautions.  In hindsight what I see was ignorance and just plain dumb luck.  And that really frightens me.

Needless to say, these memories inform my present situation.  It occurs to me that the adults around when I was hatching my munitions program thought that my forays into chemistry were altogether benign and to be encouraged.  Hmmm.  Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?  Not just the Shadow.  Any man who was ever a fourteen year-old boy knows too.

I intend to monitor my young Archimedes’ progress with an eye for safety.  I have gotten him some books on electricity and machines that stress safety and standard components.  I know he has an interest in robotics.  And I know he enjoys BattleBots so I will keep an eye out for any indication that his creations will include cutting surfaces or kinetic devices such as circular saw blades or pneumatic hammers.  If my cautionary tale rings any bells in your own case, remember, the apple does not fall far from the tree.

2017: The Dawn of the Age of the Deplorables

As I noted in my previous post, I spent a very nice week and a half relaxing and enjoying the Christmas holiday.  As part of that I read an awful lot of right wing and sort of right wing commentary.  And it occurred to me that things are definitely looking up on our side of the blogosphere.  Christmas Eve I watched the beginning of this five hour (!) set of interviews.

 

 

The host Stefan Molyneux has a series of videos where he interviews people about politics, philosophy, religion and life.  Ostensibly this series of interviews are about Christmas.  But that’s a jumping off point in some cases to discuss the year just passed and the new year coming up.  If you are not familiar with most of these people then I’ll say that they are spread across a continuum of ideologies starting on the left at about what used to pass for a liberal (but now would be too mild for the left today) all the way to some pretty hard core alt-right types.  Happily, for me, none of them here have joined the goose-stepping lunatics that abut this political neighborhood a little too closely for comfort.  But they are all unapologetic in their scorn for social justice warriors, America-haters and other lefty lunatic types that reflexively attack all things normal and good.  Some of them are not Trump fans, others came around by the end and some were predicting his win a year, ago.  But all of them are part of the new media.  They have cast their lot with the new way of reaching the people.  They run their own businesses and have their own audiences and get paid for telling a side of the story that the main stream media doesn’t tell.  They are more interesting and more relevant than most of what Fox provides and a thousand times better than the nonsense on CNN, ABC, NBC or CBS.  It’s very hard to predict if any of these folks will survive the brutal competition that exists in the media environment today.  I hope they do.  They inject humor and wit and points of view that aren’t permitted to exist on the network shows.  And interestingly they seem to be plugged into some of the trends that everyone else missed this year.  If that fact indicates a better grasp on what really will be happening in the near future, then maybe they’ll thrive.  I recommend that if you’re interested in what different voices are saying about our changing world then look around and see what’s going on.  You may be pleasantly surprised.  After all these are the deplorables that that Hillary warned us about and you remember how well that worked out for her!

Giving Thanks for a Short Respite – Part II

Giving Thanks for a Short Respite – Part 1

Here we are almost a month after part one of this thread and the warm glow from the election has not dissipated.  If anything, it has increased.  Donald Trump has surprised almost all of the critics (other than the democrat hacks who if even Einstein were the republican candidate would deny he was smart enough to count on his fingers).  His cabinet selections have been good, very good.  Personally, my favorite is the pick for EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt.  Pruitt is the Oklahoma attorney general and he has been involved in stopping the EPA from imposing CO2 restrictions on the energy industry.  This sort of clear and direct approach to reversing the outrages of the Obama administration, I think, bodes very well for Trump’s success.  In addition, the extreme panic and indignation on exhibit over this particular selection is both amusing and instructive.  These folks realize that they are not dealing with the hapless Bushes or some equally ineffective mainstream republican.  We’re gonna get to move the chains in a big way.

So, I kept my promise and I did not speak about the election or politics with my friends or relatives of the other persuasion at Thanksgiving.  I intend to maintain this policy through to the New Year and possibly beyond.  The idea of separating friends and families from political debate was sound.  No good or gain would come of it.  Anyway, it would be overkill.  I’m so saturated with schadenfreude through reading and watching reports of the progressives’ fury and panic that I’m almost poisoned with it.  So, I’m done with it.

The time is better spent enjoying the holidays.  There are books and movies to read and see.  There are grandsons, nephews and nieces to regale with tall tales and bribe with presents.  There will be mountains of splendiferous food; lobster, lamb, turkey, ham, lasagna, sausage and bean soup, eggplant parmigiana and breads, rice and potato dishes enough to feed a small village.  After that we’ll eat desserts until diabetic shock sets in.  Pies; apple, blueberry, strawberry rhubarb, coconut custard, sweet potato, Boston crème and three kinds of pumpkin.  Pastries; sfogliatelle, lobster tails, tiramisu and several kinds of cannoli.  And we’ll drink gallons of coffee.  And for those who indulge, there’ll be enough wine and booze to float a boat.

So, looking ahead to the Inauguration and the First 100 Days what should we expect?  I think the question that needs to be answered is whether Senator McConnell has the stomach to go nuclear to get the cabinet and supreme court appointments confirmed.  Recently he’s showed some backbone but it’s too soon to say.  Luckily, McConnell is about to find out that pressure can come from both sides of the divide.  I don’t doubt that Trump will use the bully pulpit and public opinion to get what he needs.  After that I’m assuming we’ll see a bunch of Obama executive actions rescinded and new ones put in place.  Also, I think we’ll hear what will be replacing Obamacare and how the immigration measures will be initiated.  Eventually I hope to see how Trump plans to increase employment.  Changes to the corporate tax code to encourage increases to domestic employment would be the best way.

So, here’s to everybody’s holidays.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Enjoy yourself and save your energy for 2017 and the fireworks to come.

Giving Thanks for a Short Respite

As Rooster Cogburn said “I am grown old.”  I’ve lived through the horror of the Kennedy assassination, Nixon’s resignation, Carter’s humiliation, Clinton’s disgrace, Bush’s frittering away of the American hegemony and Obama’s deconstruction of its greatness.  I no longer harbor any illusions about happily ever after.  When Trump reaches the White House we will witness a wave of vitriol unleashed by the left that will infect every stratum of American life.  Their drumbeat of accusation will be relentless and exhausting.  Even if Trump manages to achieve much of what he intends and even if this corresponds to what I want done it will not be fun.  It will be akin to fighting the hydra, a multi-headed monster that refuses to die.  It will be exhausting.

And that brings me to my thesis.  Thanks to Donald Trump (and divine Providence) for allowing us a holiday season before the ordeal.  I will take the opportunity to celebrate and spend time with family and friends, to eat, drink and be merry.  In fact, I’ll go one better.  I have close relatives who are committed progressives.  They are probably extremely dejected over the election loss.  If the conversation turned to the subject of the election it would probably cause them lots of discomfort.  So, for that reason I will make a point of not discussing the election or Trump.  If anyone else does I will not join in and instead attempt to steer it away from this subject.

Why?  After all, the schadenfreude would be considerable.  These folks had taken great pleasure in Obama’s every disruption of American life.  They had indulged in the vilification of Bush during the Iraq War.  They thoroughly deserve to be gloated at.  They’ve richly earned it.  Why won’t I do it?  Because it’s too dangerous.

I’m becoming convinced that an open breach is building up in America.  There will be some pretty powerful hate unleashed on both side of this divide.  Many friendships and families will be torn up and I want to do whatever I can to steer it away from my family.  I have seen what happen once you let the genie out of the bottle.  You can’t unsay things.  The poison remains in the wound and never fully heals over.  Some people say that this is a better way to handle these political differences, to have your say and walk away from the other side and not come back.  I don’t agree.

I have always felt that family is the absolute bedrock foundation of life.  Turning your back on a brother or sister was tantamount to gnawing off a limb, an act that can only be justified if your very life is at stake but still so awful that the survival is a pyrrhic victory.  And the election has been so ugly and the anger has been so corrosive that it would only take a few rounds of escalating rhetoric to blow up a holiday gathering into a political hate fest.

So, that is why if someone tells me that Donald Trump stole the election from Hillary and that he is not her president I will answer, “okay, but please pass the mashed potatoes, and here are the candied yams for your side of the aisle… I mean table.”

I’ll save my venom and scorn for the internet trolls who work for Soros and endlessly opine on the evil of white privilege, misogyny and the plight of the downtrodden.  I promise not to give them a single inch.  And I’ll continue to post all through the holidays to rally the troops.  But I’ll preserve a truce at the holiday table.

Happy Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years to both patriots and progressives.  Season’s greetings to all the families out there.  Rest up and enjoy.  Next year is going to be extremely busy.  Eat, drink and be merry.  You’re going to need it.