156. Mueller Ends, Others Continue

23 Mar

Briefly, here is the situation. Wise old Mueller decided to end his investigation because it is better continued by others. He is too limited and he is actually controlled by the party under investigation. Congress and the states can now continue it under better circumstances. He knows what he is doing.

Here are the details.  The investigation of the Special Counsel was limited to election interference by Russia (and maybe others). There are many other problems with the Trump government. There is obstruction of justice, emolument (gifts from foreign govs) violations, security violations by Trump and family, possible money laundering, failure to divest his financial interests, possible tax evasion, and favoritism to a foreign power because of illicit leverage.

Many of these possible illicit aspects of  the Trump administration can be investigated by states attorneys general. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, is one unit that will probably do the much of the investigation.  The other probes will be conducted by House of Rep. committees. An example is the House Oversight and Reform committee. All of these organizations have already been active in this matter. It may take another year or two to develop all the possible indictments and convictions.  Most vulnerable are Donald Trump Jr and Jared Kushner. Although it may not be possible to indict the President for any specific crimes, there may be enough evidence for impeachment. Congress will have to make the decision. I think there is already enough evidence for an impeachment, but there may be good arguments for waiting or not doing this at all. Trump nullification (see my blog) may be a better idea. The nullification would be accomplished primarily by acts of Congress, or maybe even by members of Trump’s administration. In various ways, Trump’s plans would not take effect.

I suspect that even after his formal work is finished,  Mueller will still play a role (maybe very covert) in transferring information and in other ways moving investigations forward. The irony here is that Trump said that Hillary would be under investigation for a long time even after her election. Instead, he is the one with never-ending probes. Also he said that the election would be rigged in Hillary’s favor, but in fact, it was rigged for him.



155. Most Complicated Structure in The Universe

22 Mar

I think it is very possible that the human brain is the most complicated and intricate object in the Universe. Of course we don’t know what has developed on other planets, but here on Earth this argument more clearly has merit. My discussion here may convince you of this. I have also written this to show that the brain is so complicated and difficult to study in detail that centuries from now much of it will still remain a mystery. I also want to put to rest notions that we can “download” brain information,  read minds or do much scientific work with large electrode arrays, or construct computers that duplicate brain structure and function. Writers not fully educated in neurophysiology often under-estimate the extreme complexity of the human brain and the impossible difficulty of most cell-interconnection research.

Here is what I learned through my laboratory work and reading the neurophysiology literature for about 50 years. The human brain is composed of billions of nerve cells.  Each cell has connections to many (up to 10,000) other cells. There are perhaps 500 trillion or more interconnections called synapses and gap junctions. Each tiny connection (which functions like some transistor variation) has a complicated and variable structure. Interactions can be digital or analog, and are affected by various hormones and other chemicals. Much of brain functioning involves components that are extremely small, often at the molecular level.

Trying to understand nervous system control points (the logic) when there are, say, 500 trillion units, was rejected by many researchers in favor of starting with simpler systems. For example, Eric Kandel (Nobel prize winner) used the simple nervous system of the mollusk Aplysia, which has a small number of cells. A lot has been learned about cell logic through this type of experimentation. Trying to understand how the human brain works using hundreds of electrodes may have some merit. One problem in working with extremely tiny control points is that it is hard to know exactly where the electrodes are and what you are actually recording from. Also, the electrodes used in the human brain could easily damage the tiny delicate structures. Some cells may have important connections to other distant cells that are not in the electrode array range. Replication would be almost impossible.

When faced with these difficult problems, neurophysiologists have worked successfully (producing valuable info) with various more practical methods. For example, certain brain areas, such as those directly connected to sensory input, are more easily studied. The sensory nerves can be monitored for electrical activity, and the closely associated brain cells can be studied with electrodes, especially in certain animals. The same goes for brain areas closely associated with motor output.

A lot of recent brain research has been done with MRI scans and with EEG (brain waves).  Certain types of conclusions can be drawn from this type of work, but it does not tell us much about the 500 trillion control points.

There are structures and processes in nature that we may never fully understand — like dark energy and black holes.

154. Champions: Climate Change Crisis

20 Mar

This is an update on the latest efforts, findings, and theories on the Climate Change crisis. But first, I want to acknowledge the great contributions of  Ex-Veep Al Gore (who should have been elected president) in defining and promoting the climate change crisis. I also want to mention presidential candidate Governor Jay Inslee who has made climate change his most important issue. Now, there is an increasing number of leaders (mostly Dems.) who are enthusiastically promoting climate endeavors. 98% of all reputable scientists support the idea that human activities are causing global warming.

A new approach to fixing Climate Change is the work of Penny Chisholm The marine microbe Prochlorococcus draws in CO2 and uses sunlight to produce oxygen and sugar. The functioning of this microbe may hold the key to reducing CO2 in the air, saving our planet from climate-change devastation.  Since the world is not doing so well in producing less carbon dioxide, it is very important to support promising research on removing CO2 from the air. Penny Chisholm, in her recent TED talk, is one of the researchers in this area. This method may be key to saving our planet.  Please tell Trump and Congress to support research in this area and fund grants for testing. 

Another promising method to help is using Carbon Cure. It is a method of injecting CO2 into concrete. This removes it from the atmosphere and also helps to strengthen the concrete — so less is needed. Using this method, climate-change is helped in two ways. We need a President that can support climate efforts like this.

There are many other methods of carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere, by natural and tech processes.  For a really good discussion, I recommend reading:  http://www.eesi.org/articles/view/carbon-removal-strategies-a-broad-overview  .

The “Green New Deal” proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others, is filled with good progressive ideas and emphasizes the Climate Change crisis.  Many of the Democrat Presidential candidates support the deal fully or substantially.

The President has established a Climate Change Scientific Panel to investigate. It is led by 79 y.o. William Happer, C. Fogg B. Physics Professor Emeritus at Princeton, who is notable for being the only professor stating that excess CO2 in the atmosphere is beneficial. Note that “emeritus” means retired. In essence, Happer says: don’t worry about global warming because CO2 will be good for agriculture. Many commentators believe that the president’s panel was set up just to “muddy the waters.”  The USA Military, most other countries, some CEO’s and many members of Trump’s staff are concerned about global warming dangers, which in fact, we are already experiencing.

Recent investigations of show that climate-change is taking place much faster than previously estimated. One reason is that the melting of ice exposes dark-colored earth that tends to absorb more heat. Studies of the Arctic, Antarctic, and glaciers clearly show significant changes due to warming. Please see my BasicCauses blog number 147 for more info.  Here are the references for the two most authoritative recent reports.  One is  United Nations Special Scientific Panel released October 8, 2018. This report indicates the rapid change.  The other report is the “Fourth National Climate Assessment” (Nov. 23, 2018) by US Global Change Research program.

What we must do right now is support research like removing CO2 from the air and developing better batteries for electric needs. A panel of experts chosen by the National Science Foundation (or similar) should determine where the funding goes. Mr. President, time is running out, this is your last chance to do the right thing in this area.

153. Current Issues, Briefly #2

20 Mar

This is the second of a series of blogs with brief discussions of current issues. The material is based on my Tweets, unpublished thoughts, and descriptions of various publications that are so important that they must be repeated and emphasized.

Who said: Mexico pays for wall, immediate replacement for ObamaCare, Medicare unchanged, so rich that donors not needed, ban all Muslims, climate-change is hoax, N. Korea is no longer a threat, he likes tyrants, Saudi MBS innocent, leave NATO, McCain not a hero, grab them by the pu..y ? We know who said all these things. Can anyone still support him? (Yes!, because he hates the same people that you do.)

It is very important that presidential candidates express themselves sensibly and honestly. Beto O did well when asked about healthcare. He said that Medicare-for-all was one of several good plans. Generally, anyone pledging a detailed specific plan is not realistic — too many contingencies.

Trump is angry with TV shows that mock him, but NOT the other side. Duh! You mock the bad, crude leaders, NOT those saying wise and respectable things.

For a long time, my top choice for president was Elizabeth Warren. I still think she would be a great president, but Beto O. is rising rapidly, and must be considered for his strength, popularity, sincerity, and intelligence. He may be the best for beating Trump and I agree 98% with his goals. On the other hand, Warren is coming up with some interesting tax proposals.

I am convinced that anyone over 80 is at least somewhat affected by memory loss and reduction in intellectual ability. Consequentially, I have eliminated some popular presidential candidates (B. Sanders, J. Biden, etc.) that will be over 80 by the middle of their first term in office. This is based on personal observations and established data.

As we enjoy advancing technology and cultural evolution there is a parallel development of corruption. We see this in almost every system, from car-repair to the USA gov. The latest scourge is in top college admissions; affected by bribery and false testing scores. The university admission scandal tells us at least two things. One is that many rich people are corrupt, the other is that college expenses are unjustly huge. As scammers gradually improve their skills, institutional expenses also must rise. Is there any solution to this enigma?

If you care about fixing Climate Change read this:   The marine microbe Prochlorococcus draws in CO2 and uses sunlight to produce oxygen and sugar. The functioning of this microbe may hold the key to reducing CO2 in the air, saving our planet from climate-change devastation.  Since the world is not doing so well in producing less carbon dioxide, it is very important to support promising research on REMOVING CO2 from the air. Penny Chisholm, in her recent TED talk, is one of the researchers in this area. This method may be key to saving our planet.  Please tell Trump and Congress to support research in this area and fund grants for testing. 

Carbon Cure is a method of injecting CO2 into concrete. This removes it from the atmosphere and also helps to strengthen the concrete — so less is needed. Using this method, climate-change is helped in two ways. We need a POTUS that can support climate efforts like this.

(In answer to a Sean Hannity remark.)  Repubs love to distort facts. No one advocates pure socialism, which says ideally, all citizens must have the same amount of money by a redistribution of wealth. Democrats advocate better social programs, like Medicare, where non-rich benefit, and don’t worry – greedy rich folks will still be rich.

Manafort was just given a 47 month sentence, much lighter than the guidance. The judge made some remarks that very conservative politicians would say. Pres Reagan chose the judge, T. S. Ellis, a strong Virginia conservative, a fact not often mentioned. This is an example of the continuing damage to our country: the appointment of radically conservative judges.

Tom Steyer, “need to impeach” advocate, is a true patriot and national hero. He is working hard and spending much of his own money trying to fight the corrupt Trump gov.  For more info on corruption and the Trump-Russia connection, please see my previous blogs.

Major policies are always developed at the top of an organization. The Trump staff has had numerous convictions and indictments, and has well established unethical practices. It is no longer speculative, but a fact, that the corrupt nature of his staff proves that Trump is has promoted illicit methods. He is the cause of his staff corruption and voters must take note.

According to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, French President Emmanuel Macron is proposing significant improvements to the EU including collective defense, guarding elections, minimum wages, new tech, and climate issues. Some of this is in response to D.T. abuse. Bravo to Macron. Sad about BREXIT. Maybe there should be another vote?

It’s really important that Democrat speeches and writing are accurate. We must be better than Don Trump. Failure to be exact and correct will cause distrust. We must always be the ones to be relied upon. Also, there is no point in promoting ideas that are very extreme. The most important thing about the next election is the “defeat.”

Just read some nonsense about Democrat Candidates. The Indian problem for Eliz. Warren is nonsense and so are criticisms of Kamala Harris when she was the state AG. The problems cited have nothing to do with future performance as president. Desperate people magnify slight negatives with no significance.




152. Current Issues, Briefly #1

3 Mar

This is first of a series of blogs with a set of brief discussions of issues that I want to emphasize. This will include ideas from my recent blogs, tweets, and unpublished thoughts. The major topic will be gov and politics but I will include science advancements, and other areas.  I anticipate publishing this type of blog every 7 to 10 days.

The testimony of Michael Cohen is important and I think mostly truthful. The world population is not divided into liars and non-liars. Everyone lies at some time or another, or is a social outcast. Cohen made some serious mistakes, but many of them were made under the aura of a US President, presidential candidate, or earlier a powerful, rich, influential and persuasive person. Cohen is not a high-minded dealist, but there are now major legal reasons for his telling the absolute truth.

Michael Cohen said that he “knows of no evidence for collusion.” Note to Trump: this does not say that others do not have such evidence. Almost certainly, Special Council Mueller does have some significant evidence for collusion. The many indictments, convictions, and lies about Russian contacts, support this.

The “Green New Deal” is filled with good progressive ideas, but like Nancy Pelosi, I hesitate to endorse it because it goes too far in certain areas. I think the climate part is so important that it should be separated out and vigorously promoted. There are also claims that some of the concepts and numbers are incorrect. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) states that the numbers don’t matter; its only the morals that matter. That is a teenage know-it-all answer. Democrats must be better than Trump. What we say must be correct or we will be mistrusted.

According to New York officials, there would be 27 billion in taxes over 25 years from an Amazon move and at least 25,000 new jobs.  A. O. Cortez and others killed the deal by worrying about 3-billion in incentives. Her enthusiasm for progressive causes is great, but in this case she may have made a horrible error. Her concern over 3 billion may have killed tax revenue of 27 billion and many thousands of new jobs.

As I think about Nancy Pelosi and her recent achievement in blocking “the wall” construction, and other responsible decisions I am extremely impressed. She could be the very best politician, negotiator, and patriot our country has ever had. Look at how effectively she negotiated her election to House Speaker. She has a long history of supporting science. As I think about her career I am truly amazed.

It looks like woman will take over more and more political leadership roles. Many are extremely competent, and are national leaders in Germany, the UK and elsewhere. For years, my top pics for president have been women. Male leaders are disadvantaged by the threat of scandals. Men voted into high office are usually powerful, handsome, rich, healthy, and articulate. This description is exactly what most women want in a male companion, and for most men, the temptations of seductive women are difficult to control. Healthy men have powerful sex drives resulting from biological evolution.

The moral of the Ralph Northam (Virginia Gov) year-book issue is that it is foolish to ruin a person’s life because of a mistake made many (35) years ago. People do sincerely change. How many US and world leaders could stand scrutiny of their early years? To hold against a person a mistake 35 years ago is to discourage people from improving their lives. Remember, it is what a person does and says (for a long period of time) that is important, not what you imagine is in his brain.

In the area of science, there are many publications concerning the structure and function of DNA. One group is working on a new DNA with two extra codes, total of six instead of the usual four (bases: A,G,C,T). Floyd Romesberg and his team (Scripps  Institute) are working on this and promise exciting applications.

Another scientific group has made major advances in understanding how the brain recognizes faces. Some of the best recent work was performed by Doris Y. Tsao of the California Institute of Technology. She discovered brain areas called face detectors and provides a description of “face codes” that allows the brain to organize visual input for identifying faces. Scientific American, February 2019, describes this work.

151. Trump: I Did It My Way

2 Mar

If you have had much contact with teenagers, you notice that the brighter ones often learn a little about something and think they are now experts. They will explain how you are wrong and they are correct. But I have found that most of the time the older wise person has the best answer. Often, the teenager will not consider all of the possible results of a new approach.

I want to talk mostly about Trump, but I will start with a Democrat issue. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is an intelligent and dedicated young person who is promoting the “Green New Deal.” (I totally agree with her “dreams”). I received an email asking if I believe in Climate Change, and would I endorse the Green New Deal. I hesitated because it became clear that this new deal covered much more than Climate Change. The email was misleading; there should have been an option for agreeing with most of it. I did not endorse it because some of the deal included ideas that were so far left that some voters would be turned off. Since beating Trump is paramount, the deal should state good progressive goals, but not include specific features that go too far. AOC should have discussed this deal with older more experienced politicians.  Nancy Pelosi is hesitating to endorse the Green New Deal. Pelosi is a well-proven political genius and AOC should consult with her, along with others.

There are many examples of Trump errors due to his inexperience. In negotiating a treaty Trump’s procedure is to have secret one-on-one meetings with the foreign leader. This is very different from the established USA method of interaction. traditionally, the Secretary of State and foreign equivalent work out the details and then the leaders get together for finalizing. The current meeting with Kim Jong-un of N. Korea illustrates the advantage of the usual method. Trump’s trip to the Vietnam summit was a waste of time since there was no deal. And Trump is left with a serious failure. It only enhanced the status of Kim.  A complex deal requires a lot of negotiating time and should be left to experienced experts. Furthermore, the secret meetings of our President with foreign leaders leads to distrust  here in the USA and in other countries that would be affected. The secrecy makes one suspicious of illicit private deals.

Another good example of doing it his way, is in international trade deals. Traditionally, trade deals result from the combined efforts of many USA experts and representatives from relevant foreign countries. Trump does not have the capacity to predict all of the effects of a complicated deal. That is a major reason why the traditional method is better. Trump’s bad plans have produced job layoffs, closing of companies, and loss of USA leadership. China and other countries will be able to takeover more leadership roles in trade that have belonged to the USA for many years.

Briefly, here are some other areas where traditional methods employing many experts would have led to better results: organizing military troop deployments, setting up border regulations and procedures, filling of various staff and judicial positions, establishing policies based on the conclusions of our intelligence agencies,  and developing the best possible government budget that benefits the USA citizens (not just the wealthy few).

The traditional methods of USA gov were developed based upon decades of experience and trial-and-error. Sometimes there is justification for developing a new method, particularly when new technology is relevant. But in most cases, methods based on many years of experience will work best. Trump is using methods that were tried and had failed, 50 or a 100 years ago. Please see my many “BasicCauses” blogs for additional discussions of these issues.





150. POTUS Problems: Basic Causes

1 Mar

My website is “BasicCauses” and this blog is concerned with a deeper understanding of our current government dilemmas. Below I have covered the most serious situations in the Donald Trump administration.

First, how did he come to power. I believe that he emerged primarily because of immigration problems. Concern about large groups of Syrian refugees had worldwide  implications. In Britain, it contributed to the BREXIT vote. Here in the USA, friends of Trump worked with him to exploit fears, and with the help of Russia, he captured the presidency. So, five “causes” helped him: (1) fears of Syrian refugees, (2) racist attitudes towards Mexicans, Muslims, and Pres. Obama, (3) election help from Russia by corrupting the media, (4) a long history of Hillary Clinton character assassination that influenced less educated citizens,  and (5) various other factors like voter suppression. Note that Hillary actually won the vote, but Trump was elected because of the electoral college (an outdated system).  Please see my blogs 75, 76, 77, and 80 for more information

Second, staff appointments based only on loyalty created an incompetent executive branch. Concern for loyalty produced an extremely high turn-over rate for cabinet positions and other staff. Many of the more competent staff were fired for lack of loyalty. Those truly loyal often caused bad decisions. Trump needs loyalty because he feared discovery of his illegal and unethical activities and loyalty would help fight impeachment. So we could say that a basic cause of some major problems is a history of borderline criminal activities. Most of his appointments were his rich buddies, who achieved their success either through inheritance or questionable practices. Several were fired for actual crimes or serious unethical practices. His lawyer Michael Cohen was very loyal to him, but Trump did not reciprocate and now Cohen is testifying against him.

Third, alienation of allies and NATO members. The basic causes for this nationalism were the influence of political friends, and a false confidence based on the wealth of his father. He learned to brag about his successes and “deny, deny, deny” any accusations. When he ran his businesses, he had a small staff and tended to make his own decisions. Many decisions were poor and led to bankruptcy, but his ability to try all sorts of legal, ruthless, and illegal methods led to his success. Many of Trump’s plans would have been greatly improved had he worked with allies instead of against them. Leading strong coalitions would have been very effective with world trade policies, dealing with China, staying with the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Iran Nuclear Deal. Trump does not deal well with equals and this will be costly for him and the USA. Working with allies would be much more effective in controlling N. Korea.

Fourth, distrust of USA traditional gov institutions. Some of these causes were covered above, but this specific problem needs emphasis. Trump did not develop important agencies like the State Department, and most of the other cabinet agencies. Maybe worse, is his attack on and distrust of his intelligence groups, like the FBI and CIA. 

Fifth, lies and uncontrolled exaggerations. After two  years in office, his rate of lying and exaggerating has gradually increased. The basic cause for this is probably increasing fear of investigations and frustration in not always getting his way. He gets away with telling various untruths to his “base,” but others are reacting more and more negatively. I am particularly concerned about our allies who are becoming more distrustful about our help and world leadership. Trump also promotes confusion by often disagreeing with his staff, such as the Secretary of State and Embassador to the UN.

Sixth, the press. Why does Trump have so much trouble with the press?  It’s almost a silly question. The reputable press (like the NY-Times and Wash-Post) is highly critical of him because he lies so much and re-writes history. Trump hates them because they point out his lies. Trump cannot succeed without lying because his gov record is actually poor and un-American. Trump is dangerous because he advocates violence against the press and others who oppose him. The next step for him would be actual assaults on reporters like engaged in by Putin, Kim Jung Un, Prince MBS (Saudi), Stalin, Hitler, and other tyrants. The USA press is like a fourth branch of gov. A strong, free press is necessary for the success of a democracy.

Finally, I want to say a bit more about some basic causations. The Syrian war was ultimately caused by rising technology that allowed for better world-wide communication. The “Arab Spring” revolutions (late 2010) occurred in several countries. People in poor countries could see how others are better off, and can get more support and organization through modern info systems. Increased inter-nation travel was also a factor. In Syria the “Arab-spring” started a rebellion, but things became much more complicated as various nations (mainly USA, Russia, and Kurds) tried to influence the outcome.

What is the cause of leadership greed and tyranny? Actually, it is a natural human trait to strive for a better life and more wealth. The people that rise to power often do so by using clever and ruthless methods. Nicer people, who are honest and open sometimes cannot compete well. In many societies, for various reasons, there is little opposition to this striving. Here in the USA, we are fortunate to have a long tradition of democracy and freedom. This tradition has created powerful forces that can reject authoritarians. What happens in some cases where the leadership is fair and good, there is a gradual disinterest in politics, since everything is going well. This lack of interest can allow a clever ruthless person to get elected. Another way to look at this issue is that certain people become very skillful at getting votes, but this skill may not mean success in governing.