For Labor Day:
For Labor Day:
Richard P. Feynman (1918 – 1988), Nobel laureate and long-time Caltech prof is one of the most celebrated physicists of the 20th century. A beloved figure in his science who strove to make the world of physics more accessible to the general public, Feynman was known to his students as “the Great Explainer.”
Caltech has made all three volumes of The Feynman Lectures On Physics, the celebrated textbook, available to read online for free.
In 1964 Feynman delivered a series of seven hour-long lectures at Cornell University. Those lectures were recorded by the BBC. Watch them here.
Online MOOC aggregator – http://www.mooc-list.com/
44 years ago, on August 29, 1970, Ruben Salazar was killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy during a peace march against the Vietnam War in Los Angeles. His death is the lasting legacy of a pivotal moment in the Chicano-American civil rights movement. The antiwar march, known as the Chicano Moratorium, was nearly 30,000 strong and thus the largest Mexican-American rally to date. Along the way an “incident” sparked chaos giving sheriff’s deputies the pretext to move in with force, rushing the crowd with billy clubs and tear gas. It soon became the biggest and bloodiest riot in L.A. since the Watts riot in 1965.
Salazar had worked for years at the Los Angeles Times but by the time of his death he had moved on to KMEX, where he felt he had more freedom to report on issues important the Chicano community. By August 1970 he had become the most influential Latino journalist of his day and over the years his criticism of the authorities’ treatment of the Latino community had grown increasingly strident. While covering the march, Ruben took refuge in a nearby cafe when things got too hot in the streets. The cafe was quickly surrounded by the police. What happened next has been the subject of heated arguments ever since. The only certainty is that Ruben Salazar never made it out alive. The LA County Coroner ruled the killing a homicide but the deputy who’s gun fired the fatal shot was never charged. The L.A. Sheriff’s Department held out until 2012 before releasing its records of the case, and then only to settle under the pressure of a lawsuit brought by the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund. That information has broadened our understanding of the events but by no stretch has the controversy been cleared up. As reported earlier this year by the LA Times the “legacy of Ruben Salazar has reached folklore heights since the journalist’s suspicious death in 1970 at 42.”
Check out these Ruben Salazar resources on the Web:
Watch The PBS Documentary Here:
Einstein famously said: “God does not play dice with the universe.” Centuries earlier the christian philosopher Blaise Pascal similarly ruminated on God’s connection to gambling. Pascal’s Wager simply put says:
|God exists||God does not exist|
|Believe in God||Infinite gain in heaven||Insignificant loss|
|Disbelieve in God||Infinite loss in hell||Insignificant gain|
(Above is from From Rationalwiki.org)
Pascal (1623 – 1662) was reacting primarily to the essays of Montaigne, the most popular skeptic of the day. Medieval theology was by then fading almost entirely from vogue, crushed on the shoals of the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution. For the religious set the trend was certainly in the wrong direction. In response Pascal crafted an apologetic for Christianity which is basically an exercise in managing on the margins of reason. Based on probability theory and game theory his Wager attempted to show that it is a no-brainer for someone to believe that God exists, even though this cannot be proved or disproved through reason. If one is willing to “bet” on the existence of God, even without certainty or proof, with no guarantee of winning the bet, that option still far outweighs the alternative with regard to potential gains. Makes sense…
But this assumes that God has taken the bet. After all, the Wager appeals to a base, some would say biological, instinct for self-preservation rather than to an ideal faith in some cosmic omniscient being. In fact, if God does exist, and is indeed a gambler, might not a person who is willing to take a big risk for his/her belief (or disbelief as the case may be) rate higher in God’s estimation than one who is just defaulting to the safest position to cover his bet (or rear-end)? Should one spend a lifetime collecting silver bullets on the off chance that there are werewolves bent on killing him? Or take a risk and ignore the wager? The answer: who knows?
The National Endowment for the Humanities has funded the creation of a publicly accessible digital archive which will stream nearly 5,000 oral history interviews conducted by the great Studs Terkel from his 45 years on Chicago radio. The site is active but currently only a fraction of the material is up. Much more to come. Check it out here:
Listen to a sample: Studs interviews Alfred McCoy in 1971 about his book on the drug trade in Southeast Asia and it’s effect on American soldiers in Vietnam.
It’s not often that a member of the .01% leaves the comfy fold and commits heresy by adopting a populist message. It takes some guts after all to turn on the dapper fellows down at the country club. But that is exactly what billionaire capitalist Nick Hanauer has done. In fact Forbes magazine has gone ballistic over it, directing all sorts of derisive epithets his way, including “ignorant” and “insane.” So what he is saying, and who he is, must have them really spooked:
But never fear you members of the leisure class, the fix is in for the suits in America’s board rooms. It’s not just those at the top of the wealth pyramid that stand in the way of leveling the economic playing field. In actuality the bulk of their firewall is comprised of millions of folks who will never come close to being well-off. So why do so many people, predominantly rural and struggling, consistently vote against their own economic interests? Why do so many of those who should be first at the gates of the plutocratic castles instead fight to languish in a version of modern day feudalism? How are they so easily relegated to second-class economic citizenship (at best)? What spell has been cast that possesses them to disregard their own wallets and instead spend their precious votes opposing things that barely affect most of them– gay marriage, abortion, immigration and assault weapon laws– and some things that are designed specifically to help them- Obamacare, welfare, food stamps, minimum wage and student loans? A most interesting, and quite entertaining, account of how this all came about can be found in “What’s The Matter With Kansas?” by Thomas Frank:
It’s a story about natural selection in reverse, survival of the un-fittest– in fact, those “Kansans” who man the ramparts, millions of whom don’t believe in evolution, may themselves be the single best argument out there against the theory. But, as in the case of Nick Hanauer, the plutocrat with a heart, it usually takes an inside job, a mutation from within, that causes an evolutionary leap. For instance, it was likely a mutation in the gene for the jaw in apes that forced them to switch to a less coarse diet, thus relieving the need for huge muscles for chewing, which allowed the skull to expand and the brain to grow. OK..so it might take millions of years to save those Kansans, but we have to start somewhere. Go Nick!
And this from NYT the following day…right on cue: