Friday, January 30, 2015

[1407.2909] Linking shape dynamics and loop quantum gravity

[1407.2909] Linking shape dynamics and loop quantum gravity:



"Shape dynamics is a reformulation of general relativity, locally equivalent to Einstein's theory, in which the refoliation invariance of the older theory is traded for local scale invariance. Shape dynamics is here derived in a formulation related to the Ashtekar variables by beginning with a modification of the Plebanski action. The constraints of shape dynamics and their algebra are reproduced in terms of these new variables."



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Most Americans Support Government Action on Climate Change, Poll Finds - NYTimes.com

Most Americans Support Government Action on Climate Change, Poll Finds - NYTimes.com:



"WASHINGTON — An overwhelming majority of the American public, including nearly half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future."



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Europe’s Greek Test - NYTimes.com

Europe’s Greek Test - NYTimes.com:



"In the five years (!) that have passed since the euro crisis began, clear thinking has been in notably short supply. But that fuzziness must now end. Recent events in Greece pose a fundamental challenge for Europe: Can it get past the myths and the moralizing, and deal with reality in a way that respects the Continent’s core values? If not, the whole European project — the attempt to build peace and democracy through shared prosperity — will suffer a terrible, perhaps mortal blow."



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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Reies Tijerina, 88, Dies; Led Chicano Property Rights Movement

Photo
Reies Tijerina in 1972. Credit United Press International
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In the year of sixty-seven
June fifth was the day,
There was a revolution
Over there by Tierra Amarilla.
The “revolution” was a bungled plot, with Keystone Kops overtones, in which rebels seized an isolated courthouse in northern New Mexico on June 5, 1967, and it lasted only 90 minutes. But it would be immortalized in ballads (as in “El Corrido de Rio Arriba”), elevate a former itinerant evangelist into a quixotic national prophet and propel a radical Chicano property rights movement into America’s consciousness.
The onetime evangelist, Reies Tijerina, who died on Jan. 19 at 88, never had the tangible success of Cesar Chavez and his nonviolent campaign to improve the lot of migrant workers. He never achieved his goal of reclaiming — for Mexicans, Indians and descendants of the original Spanish settlers — the millions of acres that changed hands when northern Mexico became the American Southwest in the mid-19th century. And his legacy was later marred by apocalyptic and anti-Semitic undercurrents.
Nonetheless, in the view of Lorena Oropeza, a history professor at the University of California, Davis, and author of a coming book about Mr. Tijerina, “Probably no person did more to shift our understanding of the history of the American West from a celebratory tale of ‘manifest destiny’ to the now-prevailing notion of a ‘legacy of conquest’ than did Tijerina.”
“One way to think of Tijerina,” she added, “is that he led an anticolonial movement within the continental United States. With only a few years of elementary education, and then time spent in Bible college, he developed a devastating critique of the American empire at the height of the Cold War.
“To young people involved in the Chicano movement, moreover, he gave them not only a militant alternative to Cesar Chavez, but also an understanding of the long history of Spanish-speaking people in the American Southwest,” Professor Oropeza said.
Mr. Tijerina, who died in a hospital in El Paso, had diabetes and heart problems, said Estela Reyes-Lopez, a family spokeswoman, who confirmed the death.
Reies Lopez Tijerina (pronounced tee-heh-REE-na), the son of cotton-picking sharecroppers, was born on Sept. 21, 1926, in Fall City, Tex. After he served as a Pentecostal pastor, he and more than a dozen families who constituted his followers bought 160 acres in Arizona in 1956 and founded Valley of Peace, a utopian commune. Often skirmishing with neighbors, the group did not live up to its name.
Mr. Tijerina, inspired by what he said was a heavenly vision, later uprooted his followers and led them to New Mexico, where by the early 1960s they had formed the Alianza Federal de los Pueblos Libres, or alliance of free city-states. Members of what he called his republic staged symbolic land seizures and citizen’s arrests and held mock trials of forest rangers. (Much of the land they claimed was in national forests.) There were arrests, prosecutions and prison terms.
The raid on the Rio Arriba County Courthouse in Tierra Amarilla, the county seat, was their most dramatic action. Mr. Tijerina and about 20 armed followers sought to liberate 11 Alianza members who they believed were being held there. The 11 had been charged with threatening to seize the 600,000-acre Tierra Amarilla land grant and to make a citizens’ arrest of the district attorney. But neither the prisoners nor the prosecutors were at the courthouse.
In the raid, a state police officer and a jailer were wounded. (The jailer was later beaten to death just before he was to testify that he had been shot by Mr. Tijerina; that crime was never solved.)
Pursued by tanks and helicopters in a National Guard manhunt, the rebels fled for the hills with two hostages. The getaway car got stuck in the mud, and the kidnapped men were eventually recovered and most of the suspects captured.
Mr. Tijerina successfully defended himself at one trial but was tried a second time and convicted of charges stemming from the raid. He served six months in a state penitentiary. He also spent more than two years in federal prisons on charges arising from other protests. Nicknamed King Tiger, Mr. Tijerina was likened to other Chicano activists like Corky Gonzales of Colorado and José Angel Gutiérrez of Texas. But his views were more idiosyncratic.
He prophesied an apocalyptic future linked to American policy in the Middle East. He also “turned many previous supporters away as he moved toward a singularly novel, but unmistakable, anti-Semitism,” Rudy V. Busto, a professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said in an interview. Mr. Tijerina argued that Spanish speakers in the United States were the rightful descendants of the House of Israel.
“When there is war we are all Americans,” Mr. Tijerina once said. “When it’s voting time, then we are Mexican-Americans. But when it comes to jobs and land,” he said, using an epithet for Hispanics, “we are nothing.”
By 2006, after returning from self-imposed exile in Mexico, he was living in a two-room cinder-block house in a run-down barrio in El Paso, seeking legal residency for his Mexican-born third wife, Esperanza, who survives him along with eight of his children.
“My philosophy is that of the cricket against the lion,” he often said. “The cricket is the king of the insects and the lion is the king of the beasts. The cricket had no chance against the lion, so he jumped into the lion’s ear and tickled him to death. That’s what we’re going to do to the United States — we’re going to tickle him to death.”

That Other September 11th; Those Other 3,000

That Other September 11th; Those Other 3,000:



"* [new]  Frank Teruggi 1950-1973 (2+ / 0-)
I didn't know anyone who died at the WTC, but I did know someone who died as a result of the Pinochet coup. He was the "other American,"  one who was also executed, like the more well known Charles Horman (the main subject of the film Missing). Teruggi was a student of mine at UCSB and I wrote a letter in support of his application to go to grad school at the University of Santiago. He apparently was involved with a few other Americans supporting the Allende regime. In his case it was
apparently as a translator.
When the coup took place he was arrested and shot multiple times in the soccer stadium that was used to hold prisoners.

In the film he is played as a sort of NY wiseguy, but Frank was actually a mild mannered nerdy guy from a suburb of Chicago: Des Plaines. His arrest was no accident, and he never would have been killed if the American government did not look the other way, or, worse.

I agree that it's easiest to mourn for someone you knew, but it's not a zero sum game."



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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

[1501.05308] Gamma-ray novae as probes of relativistic particle acceleration at non-relativistic shocks

[1501.05308] Gamma-ray novae as probes of relativistic particle acceleration at non-relativistic shocks:



"The Fermi LAT discovery that classical novae produce >100 MeV gamma-rays establishes that shocks and relativistic particle acceleration are key features of these events. These shocks are likely to be radiative due to the high densities of the nova ejecta at early times coincident with the gamma-ray emission. Thermal X-rays radiated behind the shock are absorbed by neutral gas and reprocessed into optical emission, similar to Type IIn (interacting) supernovae. The ratio of gamma-ray and optical luminosities, L_gam/L_opt, thus sets a lower limit on the fraction of the shock power used to accelerate relativistic particles, e_nth. The measured values of L_gam/L_opt for two classical novae, V1324 Sco and V339 Del, constrains e_nth > 1e-2 and > 1e-3, respectively. Inverse Compton models for the gamma-ray emission are disfavored given the low electron acceleration efficiency, e_nth ~ 1e-4-1e-3, inferred from observations of Galactic cosmic rays and particle-in-cell (PIC) numerical simulations. Recent hybrid PIC simulations show yet lower proton acceleration efficiencies (consistent with zero) for shocks propagating perpendicular to the upstream magnetic field, the geometry relevant if the magnetic field in the nova outflow is dominated by its azimuthal component. However, localized regions of parallel shocks, created either by global asymmetries or local inhomogeneities ("clumpiness") in the ejecta, may account for the requisite proton acceleration. A fraction > 100(0.01/e_nth) and > 10(0.01/e_nth) per cent of the optical luminosity is powered by shocks in V1324 Sco and V339 Del, respectively. Such high fractions challenge standard models that instead attribute all nova optical emission to the direct outwards transport of thermal energy released near the white dwarf surface."



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Monday, January 26, 2015

Bishop Roy Anderson Holmes

Ending Greece’s Nightmare



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Alexis Tsipras, leader of the left-wing Syriza coalition, is about to become prime minister of Greece. He will be the first European leader elected on an explicit promise to challenge the austerity policies that have prevailed since 2010. And there will, of course, be many people warning him to abandon that promise, to behave “responsibly.”
So how has that responsibility thing worked out so far?
To understand the political earthquake in Greece, it helps to look at Greece’s May 2010 “standby arrangement” with the International Monetary Fund, under which the so-called troika — the I.M.F., the European Central Bank and the European Commission — extended loans to the country in return for a combination of austerity and reform. It’s a remarkable document, in the worst way. The troika, while pretending to be hardheaded and realistic, was peddling an economic fantasy. And the Greek people have been paying the price for those elite delusions.


You see, the economic projections that accompanied the standby arrangement assumed that Greece could impose harsh austerity with little effect on growth and employment. Greece was already in recession when the deal was reached, but the projections assumed that this downturn would end soon — that there would be only a small contraction in 2011, and that by 2012 Greece would be recovering. Unemployment, the projections conceded, would rise substantially, from 9.4 percent in 2009 to almost 15 percent in 2012, but would then begin coming down fairly quickly.
What actually transpired was an economic and human nightmare. Far from ending in 2011, the Greek recession gathered momentum. Greece didn’t hit the bottom until 2014, and by that point it had experienced a full-fledged depression, with overall unemployment rising to 28 percent and youth unemployment rising to almost 60 percent. And the recovery now underway, such as it is, is barely visible, offering no prospect of returning to precrisis living standards for the foreseeable future.
What went wrong? I fairly often encounter assertions to the effect that Greece didn’t carry through on its promises, that it failed to deliver the promised spending cuts. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, Greece imposed savage cuts in public services, wages of government workers and social benefits. Thanks to repeated further waves of austerity, public spending was cut much more than the original program envisaged, and it’s currently about 20 percent lower than it was in 2010.
Yet Greek debt troubles are if anything worse than before the program started. One reason is that the economic plunge has reduced revenues: The Greek government is collecting a substantially higher share of G.D.P. in taxes than it used to, but G.D.P. has fallen so quickly that the overall tax take is down. Furthermore, the plunge in G.D.P. has caused a key fiscal indicator, the ratio of debt to G.D.P., to keep rising even though debt growth has slowed and Greece received some modest debt relief in 2012.
Why were the original projections so wildly overoptimistic? As I said, because supposedly hardheaded officials were in reality engaged in fantasy economics. Both the European Commission and the European Central Bank decided to believe in the confidence fairy — that is, to claim that the direct job-destroying effects of spending cuts would be more than made up for by a surge in private-sector optimism. The I.M.F. was more cautious, but it nonetheless grossly underestimated the damage austerity would do.


And here’s the thing: If the troika had been truly realistic, it would have acknowledged that it was demanding the impossible. Two years after the Greek program began, the I.M.F. looked for historical examples where Greek-type programs, attempts to pay down debt through austerity without major debt relief or inflation, had been successful. It didn’t find any.

So now that Mr. Tsipras has won, and won big, European officials would be well advised to skip the lectures calling on him to act responsibly and to go along with their program. The fact is they have no credibility; the program they imposed on Greece never made sense. It had no chance of working.
If anything, the problem with Syriza’s plans may be that they’re not radical enough. Debt relief and an easing of austerity would reduce the economic pain, but it’s doubtful whether they are sufficient to produce a strong recovery. On the other hand, it’s not clear what more any Greek government can do unless it’s prepared to abandon the euro, and the Greek public isn’t ready for that.
Still, in calling for a major change, Mr. Tsipras is being far more realistic than officials who want the beatings to continue until morale improves. The rest of Europe should give him a chance to end his country’s nightmare.

Ending Greece’s Nightmare - NYTimes.com

Ending Greece’s Nightmare - NYTimes.com:



 "Alexis Tsipras, leader of the left-wing Syriza coalition, is about to become prime minister of Greece. He will be the first European leader elected on an explicit promise to challenge the austerity policies that have prevailed since 2010. And there will, of course, be many people warning him to abandon that promise, to behave “responsibly.”"



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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Anti-Austerity Party Wins Decisive Victory in Greece - NYTimes.com

Anti-Austerity Party Wins Decisive Victory in Greece - NYTimes.com:



"ATHENS — Greece rejected the punishing economics of austerity on Sunday and sent a warning signal to the rest of Europe as the left-wing Syriza party won a decisive victory in national elections, positioning its tough-talking leader, Alexis Tsipras, to become the next prime minister."



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Saturday, January 24, 2015

[1305.5670] What is Visualization Really for?

[1305.5670] What is Visualization Really for?:



"Whenever a visualization researcher is asked about the purpose of visualization, the phrase "gaining insight" by and large pops out instinctively. However, it is not absolutely factual that all uses of visualization are for gaining a deep understanding, unless the term insight is broadened to encompass all types of thought. Even when insight is the focus of a visualization task, it is rather difficult to know what insight is gained, how much, or how accurate. In this paper, we propose that "saving time" in accomplishing a user's task is the most fundamental objective. By giving emphasis to saving time, we can establish a concrete metric, alleviate unnecessary contention caused by different interpretations of insight, and stimulate new research efforts in some aspects of visualization, such as empirical studies, design optimisation and theories of visualization."



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