The American house from the 17th century to today

American architecture can go all over the place. Here’s a collection of house style since colonial times from Pop Chart Lab (click to enlarge):

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My house was built in the 19th century, but best fits in the French Eclectic (towered) style that took flight in the 1910s. So it looks like my house was ahead of its time. And it needs plenty of work. It’s an old house in this neighborhood of old houses:

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Riding light and sending sounds in space

The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. That’s per second, not per hour. If you travel at the speed of light for an hour, you cover 671 million miles.

That’s fast, right?

Well maybe on Earth it is, but the universe is a big place. It took about five hours for the signal from the New Horizons probe to travel from Pluto to Earth. And that’s traveling at the speed of light.

To put it in perspective, take a look at this if you’ve got 45 minutes to spare:

That’s how long it would take to get from the Sun to Jupiter: 45 minutes.

Forty-five minutes of nothing but emptiness with a few big space rocks called planets, moons and asteroids showing up every few minutes to break up the monotony. I bore easily, so if it took this long to get to Jupiter, imagine how many “Are we there yet”s I’m going to ask on a trip to Pluto.

If we’re ever going to get to other parts of the galaxy, we’re going to have to break the light barrier. Which means we’re probably not going anywhere. Maybe a billion years from now, our robot satellites in space like Pioneer, Voyager and New Horizons will be picked up by some alien civilization, which will ask: What the hell is this?

This is the Golden Record we sent on Voyager back in 1977: a collection of greetings in different languages, sounds of life and selections of music, plus a roadmap to where we are. Voyager has left the solar system and is now in interstellar space.

So let’s say Voyager does end up on a planet in another part of the galaxy where there’s intelligent life. What do you think the aliens would say? Maybe this?

Check out the Speaking of Science blog at the Washington Post for more about the Golden Record.

Donald Trump and the 27 percent

So, the Donald took aim at John McCain this weekend, saying he isn’t a war hero because he was captured by the North Vietnamese.  The Republicans are having a fit and telling him to shut up. But that’s not going to happen:

I have the advantage of growing up in Brooklyn and knowing for the past 40 years that Trump is a dick. I’ve said it everywhere I worked and tried to explain to people that the only reason Trump was famous was because he was in the media capital of the world, and New York papers loved the fact that he was a dick because he always provided good copy.

Now he has the national spotlight he’s always wanted. And he’s not going to give it up. And guess what! His support is going to grow.

Here’s where he is now:

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There are nine people in this poll. But here’s who’s running:

THE REPUBLICANS

RUNNING

BUSH

CARSON

CHRISTIE

CRUZ

FIORINA

GRAHAM

HUCKABEE

JINDAL

PATAKI

PAUL

PERRY

RUBIO

SANTORUM

TRUMP

WALKER
PROBABLY RUNNING

KASICH

That’s 16 people dividing the vote. And Trump is at the top of the pack with 17 percent support. How high can he go? You have to go back to this 2005 post at Kung Fu Monkey:

John: Hey, Bush is now at 37% approval. I feel much less like Kevin McCarthy screaming in traffic. But I wonder what his base is —

Tyrone: 27%.

John: … you said that immmediately, and with some authority.

Tyrone: Obama vs. Alan Keyes. Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him. They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That’s crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% Crazification Factor in any population.

John: Objectively crazy or crazy vis-a-vis my own inertial reference frame for rational behaviour? I mean, are you creating the Theory of Special Crazification or General Crazification?

Tyrone: Hadn’t thought about it. Let’s split the difference. Half just have worldviews which lead them to disagree with what you consider rationality even though they arrive at their positions through rational means, and the other half are the core of the Crazification — either genuinely crazy; or so woefully misinformed about how the world works, the bases for their decision making is so flawed they may as well be crazy.

John: You realize this leads to there being over 30 million crazy people in the US?

Tyrone: Does that seem wrong?

John: … a bit low, actually.

Trump has the uber crazy of the crazy vote. When the simply batshit crazy candidates drop out, Trump will pick up their supporters. His ceiling is 27 percent, the longer it takes to whittle down the GOP field, the longer he’s going to be in this race.

Remember the frontrunner in 2011?

On September 24, 2011, [Herman] Cain won a surprise victory in a Republican presidential straw poll in Florida, with 37 percent of the 2,657 votes cast. The front-runner Rick Perry, who had been leading in the polls, came in second with 15 percent.[30] Continuing with his success, on October 1, 2011 Cain won the TeaCon Midwest straw poll by a landslide with 77% of the vote.[31] Cain also won the National Federation of Republican Women straw poll by a wide margin with 48.9%. The nearest contender was Rick Perry with 14.1%, followed closely by Mitt Romney with 13.3% and Newt Gingrich with 12.5%.[32] Of the delegates voting, 80% said they were satisfied with the field of candidates; asked whether they identified with the Tea Party, about half said yes and half said no.[33] A Fox News poll administered on October 23–25, showed Herman Cain as the front-runner receiving 24%, and Mitt Romney coming in at second place with 20%.

Remember back in 2011, when Michelle Bachman won the Iowa straw poll?

Bachmann received 28 percent of the nearly 17,000 votes cast. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was close behind her with 27 percent. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty came in a distant third with 13 percent of the vote, followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 9 percent and businessman Herman Cain with 8 percent.

Remember the 2012 winner of the Iowa caucus with 25 percent of the vote?

The night belongs to Santorum. The victory was richly deserved and it will be fun watching some journalists having to brush up on the Bible to cover so amiable a “Jesus freak.” He may be the first Italian to win the Iowa caucuses, which means both of our immigrant grandfathers are smiling.

The crazies participate early in the process. The crazies are the Donald’s base. People who don’t take him seriously are in for a surprise, especially when he starts winning primaries, because he can do that with a 27 percent base and a comedically large GOP field.

The paragraph that was edited out of the Declaration of Independence

When Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, he included this paragraph in the Colonies’ grievance against King George III of England:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation hither … And he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he had deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

This didn’t make it into the final draft. Possibly because it’s contradictory (condemning slavery then condemning slaves for not wanting to be in slavery). And not to mention bit of hypocrisy (the king doesn’t want us to have liberty, and we don’t want the slaves to be free).

So, let’s do away with the idea that the founding fathers held opinions that were sacred and should always be the foundation for avoiding change in the 21st century (Justice Scalia), and let’s remember that despite their flaws, the founding fathers did come up with a document that we nevertheless honor and celebrate 239 years after it was proclaimed to the public.

Oh, and, let’s remember what Jefferson said about the future:

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(More on the deleted paragraph at Talking Points Memo.)

 

 

I think I just celebrated the Fourth of July

Not Robert Downey

Not Robert Downey

PBS has, for the past 35 years, broadcast “A Capitol Fourth” on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol every July 4th. It’s a live broadcast, but it has to be rehearsed. So I sat on the lawn for two hours in the rain today and waited for the dress rehearsal.

The host was Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman to fans of “The West Wing”). The thousands of us who were there didn’t come to see him. This is what we were told to expect:

Meghan Linsey, Alabama and Hunter Hayes will join Barry Manilow, Nicole Scherzinger and an eclectic list of performers to celebrate Independence Day at the 35th annual A Capitol Fourth special, airing live on PBS, Saturday, July 4th, at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Other performers will include Bradley Whitford, KC and the Sunshine Band, Lang Lang, Ronan Tynan, Robert Davi, Jack Everly and several military bands and choral groups.

Now out of all of those people, I had heard of Manilow and KC. Manilow sang a modified version of “America the Beautiful.” And when he was done, for some reason, he sang it again. From the top. Like it was the start of the show again. And I’m thinking, Did I just hit a time warp?

That’s why it’s a dress rehearsal. I don’t know what went wrong, but I thought the first version was better than the second.

By the time Manilow came on, it had stopped raining. Then we had the National Anthem, by Nicole Scherzinger, whom I had never heard of, though someone in the crowd yelled “Pussycat Dolls.” Which still didn’t matter, because I would know any of their songs either.

It was around the time KC was on stage singing “Shake Your Booty,” when I started wondering if I was going to last the whole show. Not because of the weather, but because I realized this was the third time I’d seen KC and the Sunshine Band perform, which isn’t something you admit to people. I saw him back in the ’90s, when he was doing a live gig at the dock of the World Financial Center in New York. It was next to work and it was free. Then I saw him at halftime at the NBA All-Star Game in Philadelphia in 2002 when he and a bunch of Philly’s famous, like Hall and Oates, did the half time show. And I saw him today. I guess that means I never actually paid to see him, since I didn’t know he was going to be at the all star game. And in the course of more than 20 years, I can confirm that it was the same set every time.

While I’m at the dress rehearsal, today, I’m also thinking, why is Whitford talking about fireworks? That’s tomorrow.

And I’m thinking, I thought they were saying Robert Downey, not Robert Davi. And why is he singing “New York, New York” when we’re in D.C., D.C.?

And were the Pussycat Dolls famous for singing show tunes, since this one is doing an excerpt from “Carousel”?

And why is this country singer I’ve never heard of singing “Freeway of Love.” And why is this pianist I’ve never heard of leaving out passages of “Rhapsody in Blue.”

But I lasted for pretty much the whole show, but didn’t wait for Alabama, because I don’t know anything sung by Alabama?

Anyway, as I walked out, after Ronan Tynan (another mystery name to me) sang “God Bless America,” I heard fireworks. And I walked across the street from the Capitol and saw explosions over Nationals Park in the distance.

So I’ve seen the Fourth of July’s national concert. And to be honest, I enjoyed what I saw. I’ve seen fireworks. Now, what’s left to do for the actual holiday tomorrow?

Maybe I’ll watch the show on TV, since that’s what it was made for. Probably not.

 

Are we all holograms? Some physicists say it’s possible.

So maybe we’ve all been sucked into a black hole, but our data remains at the edge and projects itself in the form we currently believe we’re in?

I can’t even think of a “Star Trek” episode that was a complicated as that. But then, there’s another believe in physics and every possible existence we could have had, has or will happen somewhere in the universe.

So let’s take this a step further. If we are the data remnants on the edge of a black hole, then that should mean that, like numbers, when different data interact, you get a different result. And if that’s the case, the result in our “existence” could very possibly be the many worlds result of quantum mechanics.

Yeah, that’s a stretch. But I’m on the edge of a black hole, so what else should I be thinking about?

That’s a simpler way of explaining it. But there, there’s the theory that the universe talks to young white women:

Now that just makes no fuckin’ sense.

 

The last time the sanctity of marriage was debated

So same-sex marriage is now the law of the land. And though most of the reaction is favorable, there’s still this:

All the GOP hopefuls noted their personal objection to same-sex marriage and their belief that marriage should be left to the states. But while some firebrands — led by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — issued strong statements urging conservatives to fight, others, such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, issued more muted statements.

The different reactions underscore the tough challenge facing Republican candidates in a deep field; namely, how to appeal to a conservative base that strongly opposes same-sex marriage without alienating a general-election audience that largely supports it.

Legality doesn’t immediately translate to acceptance. And acceptance is going to take a while. Don’t forget, we’ve done this before:

500px-US_miscegenation.svg

U.S States, by the date of repeal of anti-miscegenation laws:
Gray: No laws passed
Green: Repealed before 1887
Yellow: Repealed from 1948 to 1967
Red: Overturned on 12 June 1967

Anti-miscegenation laws: If you’re one race, you can’t marry someone of another race.

Mixed-race marriages used to be against the law. On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court changed that in its Loving v. Virginia, ruling, which came after a white man and black woman who married in Washington, D.C., were arrested after they returned home to Virginia.

That Supreme Court decision was unanimous, but unanimity didn’t equate with approval:

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In 1967, when the Supreme Court issued its ruling, fewer than 20 percent of Americans approved of interracial marriage.

The majority of Americans not only disapproved, they also were spiteful in their rejection of the concept:

Anti-Miscegenation

Now we come to 2015. This past April, a poll was taken on same-sex marriage, and this was the result:

A record-high 6 in 10 Americans support same-sex marriage and a similar share say individual states should not be allowed to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

So look at it this way: Although the Supreme Court ruled this past week in favor of same sex marriage in a narrow 5-4 vote, Americans approval of such unions is above 60 percent. When the Supreme Court ruled unanimously for mixed race marriages in 1967, the approval rating for such unions didn’t reach 60 percent until 1997, 30 years later.

Same sex marriage today is in a much stronger position despite its weaker court majority.