Cosmologists Try to Explain a Universe Springing From Nothing

It is, perhaps, the mystery of last resort. Scientists may be at least theoretically able to trace every last galaxy back to a bump in the Big Bang, to complete the entire quantum roll call of particles and forces. But the question of why there was a Big Bang or any quantum particles at all was presumed to lie safely out of scientific bounds, in the realms of philosophy or religion.

Now even that assumption is no longer safe, as exemplified by a new book by the cosmologist Lawrence M. Krauss. In it he joins a chorus of physicists and cosmologists who have been pushing into sacred ground, proclaiming more and more loudly in the last few years that science can explain how something — namely our star-spangled cosmos — could be born from, if not nothing, something very close to it. God, they argue, is not part of the equation. The book, “A Universe From Nothing,” is a best seller and follows recent popular tomes like “God Is Not Great,” by the late Christopher Hitchens; “The God Delusion,” by Richard Dawkins; and “The Grand Design,” by the British cosmologist Stephen Hawking (with Leonard Mlodinow), which generated headlines two years ago with its assertion that physicists do not need God to account for the universe.

Dr. Krauss is a pint-size spark plug of erudition and ambition, who often seems to be jetting off in several directions at once on more missions than can be listed on a business card. Among other things he is Foundation Professor and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University.



AARP: Free Online Games “Enjoy free online games, in AARP’s game channel. Find games online, such as Sudoku, Crosswords, Puzzles, Solitaire Backgammon, Word games and more!”

The ‘third eye’ is your pineal gland, a small structure deep inside the brain. It receives information from your eyes and its activity is influenced by the amount of daylight.- Provided by The World Almanac 2012


A Minnesota man recently filed a lawsuit against his uncle for uploading an unflattering Christmas photo to Facebook.

In his harassment suit, Aaron Olson says his uncle posted childhood photos of him on Facebook, and proceeded to add “mean comments” underneath. Among the offending photos: “[Olson] posing in front of a Christmas tree.”

When confronted, the uncle, Randall LaBrie, agreed to untag Olson, but suggested that if he didn’t care for the photos “he should stay off Facebook.”

After the district court tossed out Olson’s request for a harassment restraining order against LaBrie, he took his case to the Court of Appeals, which also turned him down.

In its ruling, the court determined that mean comments “coupled with innocuous family photos” do not adversely effect “the safety, security, or privacy of another.”

(am betting that the uncle will no longer be sending christmas cards or gifts to this nephew?)


Sensational Story of Survival in Snow

A Swedish man trapped inside his snow-covered car since December 19, 2011, was found emaciated but alive last week and is now recovering at a hospital. He had been living in the vehicle in a wooded area when it became buried and claims to have survived the nearly two-month ordeal by eating handfuls of snow. Though he claims to have had no food since mid-December, food wrappers were found in his car, suggesting he may have had something to eat, at least at first. Either way, his survival for such a long period in such cold conditions with minimal sustenance, if any, is certainly extraordinary. More …


This is one of those pictures worth clicking on to take in all the interesting detail. It is from 1905, and shows an Oyster Barge being unloaded in Baltimore, Maryland. Wow, I like everything about this picture. I like how people dressed nicely, and acted cordially. As I mentioned before, all this “gangsta” dress and talk is disturbing to me. When did we all suddenly want to be thugs?



First Issue of The New Yorker Is Published (This Date in 1925)

The New Yorker is an American magazine known for its sophisticated tone, liberal political perspective, varied literary fare, and witty single-panel cartoons. It was founded by journalist Harold Ross, who aimed to create a sophisticated, metropolitan magazine—in contrast to publications such as Life, which he saw as unrefined. Now one of the most respected publications in the US, The New Yorker is recognized for its strict style and high-quality content. Who is its mascot? More…


Extraordinary 298-Million-Year-Old Forest Discovered Under Chinese Coal Mine

American and Chinese scientists are flabbergasted after discovering a giant 298-million-year-old forest buried intact under a coal mine near Wuda, in Inner Mongolia, China.

They are calling it the Pompeii of the Permian period because, like the ancient Roman city, it was covered and preserved by volcanic ash.

Extraordinary 298-Million-Year-Old Forest Discovered Under Chinese Coal Mine.


You Might Be an Honest Gun Owner If…

 GlennB started this “MEME”

1. You encourage family and friends to get their concealed carry permit and purchase a gun.

2. You acknowledge that you don’t know everything about guns and are not afraid to ask
 questions of others about guns.

3. You admit that it really feels good when you enjoy some “recoil therapy” even if it isn’t
as often as you like.

4. You visit various gun shops.. even if your only “kicking tires”.

5. You admit that there is still a lot you don’t know about guns.

Continue on at the link please.


Infographic On The Greatest Gun Salesman

American firearm sales and concealed handgun permit applications are at all-time highs since the 2008 election of President Barack Obama. President Obama’s perceived hostility towards gun owners has been one of the key factors behind the multi-year financial boom the firearms industry continues to enjoy. In fact, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is actively preparing to work to defeat President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, according to Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA, who recently said the following at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C.:

Go HERE to see the infographic. Interesting.


There was also one translation of the Odyssey, by Fagles again. It was ever thus: for all its well-remembered adventures and faster pace, the Odyssey has always been outsold – out of 590 Homer papyrus fragments recovered in Egypt at the last count, 454 preserve bits of the Iliad. The ready explanation – that ancient schoolmasters preferred the Iliad because the other Homer is just too much fun – is no doubt true but doesn’t explain why the Iliad has been preferred outside the schoolroom as well, from antiquity and the Byzantine millennium to the Terminal 2 bookshop.

Why are our contemporaries so keen on buying and presumably reading the Iliad’s Iron Age reminiscence of Bronze Age combat? Publishers certainly view it as a paying proposition: at least twenty new English-language translations have been published since 1950, not counting ones from private presses. In Greece, as in Italy for students of the liceo classico, it is a compulsory school text (several modern Greek versions also serve as cribs), but why are the passengers at Terminal 2 in San Francisco buying the English versions? Uniformed and desert-booted soldiers are a common sight in US airports – the uniform secures lounge access and early boarding – and it is a fair surmise that warriors and would-be warriors, these days more often college-educated, are war-book buyers, of which the Iliad is the echt and ur. Some of course – nasty fellows – would widen the explanation by seeing Americans as a whole as war-lovers, hence war-book addicts, hence Iliad buyers. That’s lame to begin with, for there are countless ways of getting that fix much more easily than by reading 15,693 lines of hieratic verse bound to offend military history buffs, because of both the extreme, pervasive emotionalism – all the weeping wives of other war books are outdone by the floods of tears of Homer’s greatest warriors – and the frequent confusion of the battle tactics of two different eras. As against the precise description of each killing, which if anything spoils the fun, there is the impossible coexistence of archaic chariots with the hoplite phalanx, of single combat with walls and trenches.



Over the past two decades in the United States, there has been a new wave of criticism of higher education. Much of it has condemned the rise of “academic capitalism” and the corporatization of the university; a substantial wing has focused on the deteriorating conditions of academic labor; and some of it has pointed out the problems of students and their escalating debt. A good deal of this new work comes from literary and cultural critics, although it also includes those from education, history, sociology, and labor studies. This wave constitutes what Heather Steffen, a graduate student in literary and cultural studies with whom I have worked at Carnegie Mellon University, and I think is an emerging field of “critical university studies.”

Often criticism of the university seems a scattershot enterprise. A scholar from almost any discipline might have something to say about higher education, but it’s usually an occasional piece that’s a sideline from normal work. There is, of course, a sizable body of scholarship coming from the field of education, but it largely deals with elementary and secondary schooling. Or it follows established scholarly channels; for instance, it might gather and present data about the student body, or it could deal with administration, or fill in a segment of the history, sociology, or financing of education.

In contrast, this new wave in higher education looks beyond the confines of particular specializations and takes a resolutely critical perspective. Part of its task is scholarly, reporting on and analyzing changes besetting higher education, but it goes a step further and takes a stand against some of those changes, notably those contributing to the “unmaking of the public university,” in the words of the literary critic Christopher Newfield.



Carnival Season 2012 is nearing its end. All over the world, celebrations have been held as a final pre-Lent bacchanalian festival — a way to usher out the winter and welcome spring. Across Europe and the Americas, parades and festivals have been taking place for nearly a month, culminating in the largest, most famous party of all: the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In Rio this weekend, millions took to the streets for days of rowdy, joyous parades and festivities, bringing the nation to a halt for its annual wild party. Nearly 800,000 Brazilian and foreign tourists were expected join Rio’s six million residents in the celebrations, whose climax comes on Sunday and Monday with the city’s top samba schools putting on their extravagant processions. Gathered here are recent images of carnivals around the globe. [37 photos]



Four Air Force Special Operators on a spy mission over east Africa died when their U-28 plane crashed as it was returning to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. It’s another reminder of the hidden costs of the U.S.’ expanding shadow wars in Africa.

Two captains, Ryan P. Hall and Nicholas F. Whitlock, Lt. Justin J. Wilkens and Senior Airman Julian S. Scholten, died in the crash. A spokeswoman for their home station, Hurlburt Field in Florida, said there was “no indication of enemy fire” causing their deaths.

The spokeswoman, Amy Oliver, confirmed that the crew of the single-engine U-28 had been on a mission that “had to do with ISR” — that is, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for special operations forces on the ground. The U-28 is a small, retrofitted commercial plane that looks indistinguishable from a civilian plane to the naked eye, especially from high in the air.


Africa? Yes. And not just Africa!
10 Things You Didn’t Know About the President’s Secret Army


As the presidential primary race has unfolded over the last few months, curious Americans have angled for a look at the candidates’ wallets—and observed that they are bulging. There’s Newt Gingrich, with his $7 million fortune and an up to $1 million revolving line of credit at Tiffany. The relentlessly anti-elitist Rick Santorum disclosed last week that he earns roughly $1 million a year. Mitt Romney built an immense $200 million fortune through his “corporate raider” work at Bain Capital; even Ron Paul, who claimed in one debate that he was embarrassed to show his tax forms because he made so much less money than his rivals, is worth as much as $5.2 million.

This striking wealth among politicians goes beyond the GOP. One of these four men will face off against the now wealthy Barack Obama, whose book royalties alone ran to $2.5 million in 2008. Beyond the Oval Office, there’s Congress, whose members have a median net worth of $913,000, compared with $100,000 for the rest of us, according to a recent New York Times report. (Massachusetts’ own John Kerry is one leader of the pack, with a fortune that in 2009 was estimated at $167 million.)

Politicians would like us to believe that all this money doesn’t matter in a deeper sense—that what matters is ideas, skills, and leadership ability. Aside from a little extra business savvy, they’re regular people just like the rest of us: They just happen to have more money.

But is that true? In fact, a number of new studies suggest that, in certain key ways, people with that much money are not like the rest of us at all. As a mounting body of research is showing, wealth can actually change how we think and behave—and not for the better. Rich people have a harder time connecting with others, showing less empathy to the extent of dehumanizing those who are different from them. They are less charitable and generous. They are less likely to help someone in trouble. And they are more likely to defend an unfair status quo. If you think you’d behave differently in their place, meanwhile, you’re probably wrong: These aren’t just inherited traits, but develope



The first comprehensive film to reveal the long and sordid history of the captive whale and dolphin entertainment business.

Many of these marine parks and aquariums are directly or indirectly responsible for the death of thousands of the very animals they use for public entertainment.

Premature deaths. Trainer injuries. Illegal practices. Educational misrepresentation. Government incompetence. Secret deals.

These and many other issues are presented, and documented for the first time in this powerful documentary, narrated by actor Mike Farrell.


While most Americans are facing the highest gasoline prices this time of year and planning on more “staycations” over the summer because they can’t afford to go anywhere, Michelle Obama has been on 16 vacations so far!

The last one in Aspen, skiing.

Just a few weeks after having been in Hawaii.

And it has cost the American taxpayer MILLIONS to dollars to send her to those places.

But of course, the MSM will not say much for fear of being called racists!

The Obama Vacation List

– President’s Day 2012, Michelle and the first daughters in Aspen, Colorado to ski.
– Christmas 2011, the first family in Hawaii for an extended vacation.
– Summer 2011, in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., for the annual beach break.
– June 2011, the first lady, her mother and daughters traveled to South Africa and Botswana.
– President’s Day 2011, the first lady and first daughters travel to Vail to ski.
– Christmas 2010, in Hawaii.
– August 2010, the first family traveled to Panama City Beach, Fla., for some sun and fun at the beach.
– August 2010, Obama spent the weekend alone in Chicago for his 49th birthday bash.
– August 2010, the first lady and daughter Sasha traveled to Spain for a mother-daughter vacation.
– August 2010, summer vacation again at Martha’s Vineyard.
– July 2010, the first family went to Mount Desert Island, Maine.
– May 2010, the first family had a four-day trip to Chicago.
– March 2010, first lady and daughter spend Spring Break in New York City.
– Christmas 2009, Hawaii again for the annual break.
– August 2009, at Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon for a short vacation.
– August 2009, their first summer vacation as first family at Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.


I need to go to fashion shows!