Thursday assorted links


1. Good point. Now if only someone could find a positive use for Vox.

Facebook is what it is but on Youtube with all the recommendations lately for another "Jordan Peterson destroys feminists" or "Ben Shapiro owns transgender woman" the world might run out of liberals for them to "absolutely crush" or "totally devastate". I just want to watch cat videos but I get tired before I get there.

#1 The power of the relatable anecdote lives on. Next of Vox, Facebook helps little old ladies cross the street!

#3 HA!!!

#1 - Facebook as panacea for a widow - note the author: "Katie Hawkins-Gaar is a freelance writer and leads Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. She has a weekly newsletter, My Sweet Dumb Brain, that’s all about navigating life’s ups and downs."

So a writer's gotta write, and Vox or Facebook will do.

5. --or, some less on 'Oumuamua.

Would have been a brilliant moment for a working astronomer to wonder aloud whether, given that the object (which could just as well be inert stone or metal) has looped 'round our Sun AT LEAST ONCE: is there or is there not some fair chance that it will RETURN and thereby observe a periodicity that could itself be telling?

And what about the uniqueness of this discovered object suggests to enterprising astronomers that this UFO does not or could not hail from some inter-galactic or extra-galactic locale? (It MUST be an intra-galactic object? [Does the answer to this last question mean that our maths are that good or that our applications of them could be so poor?])

Right. Nothing wrong with writing a paper that concludes, "Given the limited data we have on this object, it could be anything."

But when instead you write a paper that concludes, "Given the limited data we have on this object, it could be anything... including aliens!" you're not exactly aiding scientific discourse.

Unless you problematize the lack of diversity and the white patriarchal structures of astronomy. Then you could get published somewhere.

Scientific discourse is patriarchal.

10/10 would read again

It’s ok to speculate. He has arguments that are scientific enough to explain this strange object. Whether it is the correct explanation is an open question.

yeet yeet
the astronomer fella did identify half a dozen things that astronomers didn't previously expect about a interstellar space object.
that is actually pretty good science.

the most interesting thing I read, before today, about this unusual object is this:

20 years ago it would have gone by unnoticed.
Is this a situation where such objects regularly traverse our solar system and this was the first time we noticed, because it was the first time we were capable of noticing? and if so, should we expect a regular parade of such objects in coming decades?

or will there never be another similar observation? .. because it is a one-off (almost like that unusual but not ultimately unique round disc of ice on that river in Maine)?

(I think I read this take on Oumuama on Greg Cochran's website, but I could be wrong).

So far this is just fun, for conjecture, or the basis of some science-fiction.

It's too bad that it was just a glimpse, so we can't know for sure, and it won't have any real impact on our lives.

Unless [insert science-fiction scenario of what happens next]!

"Look, there's another! --and ANOTHER!!"

"The Ramans do everything in threes."

--Arthur C. Clarke, _Rendezvous with Rama_

+1 surprised more people don't reference Arthur C. Clarke on this story, which is directly analogous, even the shape of the craft.

"is there or is there not some fair chance that it will RETURN and thereby observe a periodicity that could itself be telling"

This article indicates that Oumuamua is gone for good. It's velocity was above escape velocity for the solar system and it was on an outbound track.

Oumuamua was travelling too fast to be gravitationally bound to the solar system. It's not doing a loop. It is possible - but not easy - for objects to flung out of a star system by accidental gravitational "slingshot" interactions. They are most likely to end up with just enough the energy to exit the system so would end up with with a velocity that is reasonably close to the star system they exit. The escape velocity for a galaxy is much greater, maybe 20 or 40 times the escape velocity for a star system in that galaxy. It's quite unlikely to happen by chance interactions within a star system. Furthermore, if by some rare chance it did happen, the ejected object would likely have a speed of hundreds of km/s when it got here, rather that the tens of km/s for intragalactic ejections. Oumuamua is virtually certainly from within the galaxy.

A similar argument applies if Oumuamua is an artifact. A planned gravitational slingshot is the low energy way of getting it out of the source star system. It is going to be virtually impossible to slingshot it out of a galaxy. Time is also a consideration: local journeys within the galaxy would be take millions or tens of millions of years at Oumuamua type speeds. A trip to a nearby galaxy, billions. That's requires a seriously low discount rate.

So, 1 million locusts for 1 locust?
Small though that be great God I know
I know in this gigantic day
What God is ruined and I know
How labors with Godhead this day: - Jams Agee
"As in mystery, so his history." There were black and white films. There were polaroid cameras. There were daguerrotypes for Christ's sake. ... and yet I also become annoyed whenever the great Homer nods off

Does that apply if it is indeed a solar sail?

3. My side should compromise, but not when there's blood in the water.

#3 "I want YOUR side to compromise. When mine does I get upset"

Most polls really are poor at polling people's beliefs. Questions are too vague or have assumptions build in.

A resource economist of my acquaintance was a great skeptic of the use of survey research in calculating shadow prices. He said you invariable run into two problems: (1) talk is cheap and (2) people don't answer your question, they answer their question. You ask a question about contaminated river water and the answer they generate is a function of their thoughts on local property taxes. He included discussions of the use of survey research in his syllibi, but he was pretty plain that he thought it was a like of inquiry best abandoned.

Michael Kinsley used to generate funny columns by putting poll results on fiscal policy side-by-side, because the responses were contradictory. For Kinsley, it was an occasion to sneer at the public. It didn't occur to him that the questions were asked in isolation and none of the respondents were engaged in a decision-making procedure. The fellow who founded the now defunct Roosevelt Center thought focus group research might be a more valid way to gauge public preferences and tried to distribute the results of the focus group research to Congress, but it had zero effect at the time. Nowadays, pollsters are having so much trouble with their sampling frames they get unreliable answers to standard-issue questions they've been posing for seventy years.

1. That's nice, but she'll probably continue to get hit with gravestone and urn ads now through the rest of 2019. Just sayin'....

5. That interview seems like it kinda went of the rails a little bit. As someone who hasn't followed this story from the beginning, the first half was informative, the second half seemed kind of silly.

1. Don't blame Facebook because many of the users are stupid. Should we enact a law against stupid? I think not: what would we do, arrest all of the stupid people for being stupid? If that were to happen, what would happen to this blog?

You wouldn't be around to find out.

tax the stupid people!

There are some holes in the theory that it's a spaceship. For one thing, if it's spinning, how the heck does it simultaneously work as a light sail? The solar pressure would push on one side and then the other, causing it to tack back and forth like a sailboat. More importantly, if you wanted to use it as a light sail, you would control it so it was facing the sun. It makes no sense to build a light sail and then spin it.
If it's an extraterrestrial spaceship, then it's out of control and the aliens on it are likely dead.

It is tumbling because of a collision in its past probably millions of years ago. It is more or less at the local center of rest (LSR,) so in a way it is the solar system that is flying towards it.
It could have been meant as a solar sail as Loeb indicates.
Tumbling doesn’t preclude it getting a photon push from the sun. In the optimal case it is shaped like a pancake and could be tumbling in a plane perpendicular to sun’’s line of sight. As it moves arond the sun, this angle changes but can still result in a net acceleration

Yes, that's consistent with it being a natural object, not a spacecraft, at least not an operational one.

Also, the estimates of the rate of tumbling are based on it's brightness changing, which means that it's angle relative to the sun is changing. It can't be tumbling perpendicular to the sun's line of sight, or we wouldn't be seeing the dramatic changes in brightness which we see.

Hazel, I think you're right that to explain the change of brightness as the article does, the thing's angle relative to the sun has to be changing.
But even so, the net result would be a push away from the sun.
In the following diagrams the big arrow ----> is the ray from the sun and the small line is Oumuamua.

1) ------> I
2) ------> \
3) ------> --
4) ------> /

In situation 1) Oumuamua is pushed to the right, that is aways from the sun. In 2) it is pushed up-right, in 3) it is not pushed at all (or negligibly), in 4) down-right. The net effect over a cycle is just that it is pushed away from the sun. Of course, in this scenario, there should be variation in the direction and magnitude of the acceleration during a cycle, but if it is turning fast (and it is, apparently -- six hours for a spin) this could be averaged away before any observable change in speed (other than the net effect in the direction away from the sun) can build up.

I suppose it could be tumbling to provide artificial gravity to a small and none reflective payload attached to the light sail by tethers. We would not be able to see the payload as that is too small and dark.

If you wanted to provide artificial gravity you would spin it perpendicular to the direction of the sun as sine causa suggests above. That way you would still get the maximum propulsive force out of the sail. The fact that it's tumbling in a way that dramatically changes the sun angle strongly suggests it is not being actively controlled. So there are either no aliens, or they are dead, or it's a robotic spacecraft that is non-operational.

Of course you would still get some deceleration away from the sun, but it would also cause the orbit to wobble a bit because the push wouldn't be constant in the direction of motion, which is what would be most efficient for a spacecraft. You would basically be wasting the capacity of the sail since the left and right pushes would cancel each other out. An intelligent species wouldn't use a solar sail that way.

I wish I had that kind of confidence, that enables you to get on the phone with an accomplished astronomer, and hector him about whether "Coryn Bailer-Jones" hails from Mars or Venus.

#5 if it is some sort of Alien craft does this make all of our other unexplained UFO sighting more or less credible?

#3...Next time, ask something equally sensible and defining, such as whether or not The Devil is behind all of this He just can't keep himself from stirring up the pot, it seems.Or, better yet, does supporting compromising make you less likely to blame The Devil?

#3: Compromise is supposed to mean give and take. When I encounter somebody who laments about (a) lack of compromises, and (b) politicians nowadays don't get anything done, I typically ask them what they would give the other side in a compromise, and the question stumps them.

"Compromise is far more popular among Democrats."

Duh, most things have gone their way since LBJ's "Great Society", perhaps with some small setbacks like work requirement for welfare for males, and the recent gutting and beginning of death spiral for Obamacare. T

his is another case when compromise is a code-word for things going the way the Democrat Party prefers. Which explains the red/blue discrepancy.

Its not like a lot of things didn't go for Republicans too. All the rich people got their tax cuts which continues to this day. Bush got his multi-wars in the Middle East and his multi-bailouts with GM and Wall Street. Democrats, by the way, did compromise on all of those.

I agree with lots of these points, as a middle class net tax payer, I didn't see much savings from the tax cut, in the big scheme, a wash. And the Rs and the Ds do compromise on screwing me and similar net tax payers, to the benefit of the 47%, as well as to the benefit of Military Industrial Complex, and the Healthcare/Government/Pharmaceutical Complex.

Incorrect on the tax cut, it was a straight party line, except for some Californian republicans against:

I think my points stand, Democrats have prevailed on gay rights, abortion, ever expanding welfare programs, somebody counted 83, California proposition 187 passed, but killed by courts and bureaucracy, ACA.

If Democrats and Republicans compromise on passing deficit FARM bills and deficit ACA acts, neither of the political sides really gave up anything, just the net tax payers suffer. An actual compromize would be something like Republicans agree to universal healthcare coverage, but democrats agree to deport 10 million illegal aliens and stop chain migration/birthright citizenship. This would be a case of give and take.

Trump has prevailed on Muslim travel bans, transgender military bans, ACA declared illegal by courts, detaining illegals and their children, raising tariffs on China, helping our struggling farmers, nominating conservative judges. ALL WITH ZERO HELP FROM TRAITOROUS DEMS!! Who says our side isn't winning? Have faith brother, Trump will lead us to the promised land.

Keep polishing that knob, hun. You're doing a good job!

Since conjectures here are both welcome and permitted: must we persist with keeping 20th century space opera tropes alive?

Seriously: today, do we actually expect to encounter alien probes (with no discernible means of propulsion) zipping past on wild trajectories? (I do not doubt this to be the limits of prevailing expectations, but still . . .)

We see already that propulsion systems limited to what our earnest engineers and pious technologists can so far conjure MIGHT suffice for local exploration, but we'll never visit another galaxy that way. Most regions of the Milky Way will remain forever off-limits if we think we can rely on conventional propulsion systems for zooming "space ships" and rocket blasters propelling "space vehicles".

Perhaps once CERN has its Larger Hadron Collider operating, clues to tunneling through enormities of space and time on cosmic scales will come to us (maybe THAT's where the aliens will be met, not in earth orbit): I cannot look for answers to human space travel or human extra-terrestrial colonization to be coming from our aerospace industries, frankly (unless they're getting advice from CERN we're not privy to), except for those pristine spots distant within our own solar system.

Time travelers, we are told, seldom travel or arrive anywhere in rocket ships, but space travelers must?

By the by: where ARE all those time travelers from our distant future(s)? Where could their philanthropic zeal be hiding?

"do we actually expect to encounter alien probes (with no discernible means of propulsion) zipping past on wild trajectories?"

What basis would we have to expect or not expect this?

According to the Harvard astronomer, the object hurtled past without leaving any trace of gas or tell-tale debris. I assume that sensors with some degree of range were trained on the thing as it zipped by to find out this much (cameras could not help): sounds like an inert piece of rock or metal with appreciable albedo.

Had the thing been functional--an apparatus, a device--SURELY someone monitoring some spectrum would have detected outbound telemetry to make a startling report to the home team.

The other reason I gave already: I don't think any extra-terrestrial civilization we would be willing to deem "advanced" (id est, farther along than we ourselves) would be relying on conventional propulsion and slingshot velocities attained from planets to investigate the cosmos outside their own heliosphere. --unless perhaps they are no more intelligent than us.



3. is a washington post sandwich narrative/memezombie fallacy
since almost all the
people almost always stomach the compromises politicians arrive at

AOC seems to be a fan of MMT. What are the libertarian views of MMT? This is something I don't see discussed enough around these parts. I can't say I know enough to comment but I'm curious what the more learned have to say.

Here is Murphy, who qualifies as libertarian debating MMT:

#2 - Eli Dourado bought into the Clarke / Malthius thesis that human history is flat in GDP per capita, which I think even if true, it hides the fact that during war GDP/capita will drop, and people don't like war hence favor stability and thus favor 'prosperity' even back in the days of the ancients. Another criticism is that 'phase changes' introduce an element of risk, which most people are not comfortable with, hence the backlash against technology. Illogical maybe but most people are anti-tech (and anti-innovator, anti-patent).

I didn't like him hijacking the phrase "Phase Change" , it has quite a specific meaning in chemistry/physics and it doesn't really line up with the analogy. It is like when people use the phrase "Quantum Leap". which in nature is the smallest possible change, but is usually used to mean a large change when used as an analogy.

Anyway that is a detail - the substance of his and Tyler's arguments are that economic growth is the most important thing historically to raise the human condition, so we should prioritise this going forward. But like all ethical or moral arguments you can quickly see when this might not be true. It turned out that for much of the 20C the best economic growth occured in democracies - so freedom and economic growth went together. But going forward, with improving AI, maybe this is not the case. Maybe the totalitarian state is best going forward. I think I would rather be poor and free than rich and oppressed. So there are trade offs. And people will differ in the view of the benefits of these trade offs. I personally am not too concerned for instance about inequality, but some people are. I think people like AOC would actually prefer a poorer world that is more equal. I don't think there is any logical argument that can resolve this preference differences, so why even pretend that there is? This is the fallacy of Tyler and other moralists. Morality is not logical, it is not subject to analysis, it doesn't even have to be consistent. Your best bet is to ignore moral arguments and instead apply yourself to satisfying your own moral instincts - i.e. behave in a way that you think is correct based on what you encounter (I say this as life advice not as a morally correct position). If you are offended by other moral choices, do your best not to preach to them because you are wasting their and your time.

FB not so bad because in this case all the other posters behaved well? Or in this case all the spam ads about funeral homes, counceling, life insurance, urns, depression medication and treatments or anything else one might link to death were blocked by FB? Or perhaps any malicious comments were filtered to save the person from further heartache?

I see little in the story that redeems FB and the only thing the person seems to have gotten is more widespread response. Which perhaps is sad because I suspect most are from people she has never met or who know nothing meaningful about one another.

I suspect some was from friends and families but that would have been accomplished with one or two phone calls -- the grapevine would to the rest. Or is the positive here that we can further distance ourselves from others in such situations by just posting and waiting for others to respond. No need to directly speak with another person by phone or in person?

That I am not a FB showing....

For what it's worth, Facebook fundraisers have raised over $1 billion:

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