And the schoolyard taunting continues

Tennessee senator Bob Corker, a Republican who has announced that he will not run for re-election in 2018, clearly feels free to speak his mind now about what he really thinks about Donald Trump, without fear of consequences. In an extraordinary statement last week, Corker said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly “are those people that help separate our country from chaos.”
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Attempting to defend ‘thoughts and prayers’

The rapid succession of shooting tragedies has resulted in people realizing that the phrase ‘ sending our thoughts and prayers’ has become so routine in public discourse. As a result, the instinct of politicians to say they are sending their ‘thoughts and prayers’ to the victims of mass tragedies has started to come in for considerable well-deserved scorn as it is becoming seen as merely a cost-free way for politicians to act as if they care without having to take any action. Ridiculing it out of existence, so that politicians hesitate to use that trite phrase, may be a good way of getting some actual action.
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The unthinkable is no longer unthinkable

Late last evening juts before going to bed, I read a news report that said that after a meeting with his senior military advisors, Donald “Moron” Trump had ominously told the people present that what they were witnessing was the “calm before the storm”. When asked what he meant, he had added “You’ll find out”. While trying to drop off to sleep, I honestly worried that he was about to launch an attack on North Korea that would unleash unpredictable consequences.
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The sociology of science

In my post on the Planck units yesterday, I referenced the work of C. Alden Mead who, as far as I am aware, was the first to take the idea of the Planck units as having a real physical significance out of the realm of folklore. Interestingly, Mead had considerable trouble getting his paper accepted for publication. When I read his paper, I noticed that it was first submitted in June 1959 and must have had multiple exchanges with referees because a revised version was finally received four years later in August 1963 and then it took another year to appear in print in August 1964. The publication of scientific papers can be slow and take about a year or so if accepted but five years means that he had a lot of trouble with referees and had to fight to get it published.
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Stephen Colbert on Trump being called a moron

He has a lot of fun with the Tillerson story. I really wonder how long the Trump-Tillerson relationship can last, now that the latter did not unequivocally deny that he called Trump a “fucking moron”. Even someone as self-absorbed as Trump has to realize that Tillerson did call him that. I think that unless Trump fires him, Tillerson will stay until he has completed a year in office so as to avoid a tax bill, because these people love money the most. It may happen that Trump, out of spite, fires Tillerson before the year is up just to have him pay the tax, unless being fired lets Tillerson off the hook.
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And now the hoax stories start

Things like the Las Vegas shooting reveal that there is something seriously wrong with the psyche of many people in the US. I am not talking about their deep love of guns and the paranoid fear that many have that they are defenseless unless armed to the teeth with massive weaponry, even though such heavy weaponry is overkill for any ordinary everyday need and utterly inadequate when confronting (say) the US military, which some gun enthusiasts feel is on the verge of declaring martial law.
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The Planck units and their meaning

(Note: I am using some Greek letters and math symbols in this post and HTML can be dicey in how they appear. They look ok to me using the Safari browser on my Mac but if it looks weird to you, let me know in the comments and I will try and tweak the HTML to make it look better.)

In our lives we need to have some system of units for quantities like mass (M), length (L), and time (T). The most common system, used almost everywhere in the world with the US being a notable exception, is the metric system where length is in meters, time is in seconds, and mass is in kilograms. But any such system of units is purely conventional and if we were to make contact with any extra-terrestrials, it is almost certain that they would have a different set of units. But could there be units that are universal?
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