Unintended consequences?

Recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation into law that capped fast food worker minimum wage at $22 per hour. It goes into effect in 2023. Starting in 2024, the minimum wage will adjust according to inflation, but will be capped at 3.5% annually. Sounds great for those fast food workers, right? Maybe not.

Consider how other employed workers will feel, having climbed the economic ladder, having earned the hourly wage they now enjoy. Jacking up unskilled labor wages erodes the gains those workers had. Their previously higher wages will now have less buying power than before… also factor in increased prices across the the economy to pay those increased minimum wages.

And there are other considerations… Employers are very conscious of their operating budgets and how taxes and wages affect their bottom lines. At some point, it becomes more affordable to replace humans with automation. Sure, people will still be needed to keep automation machinery working properly. But it is highly doubtful many of the people who will be replaced by automation, would have the skills necessary to maintain those machines. So, what happens to them?

Another potential outcome of raising the minimum wage to unrealistic levels, is that the unskilled fast food workers would be replaced by college educated workers. Twenty-two dollars and hours is not bad money to a recent college graduate. Employers are always trying to hire the most competent workers for the wages offered. Having a choice between hiring a college graduate or someone without a degree, well… you get the picture.

Unskilled workers losing their jobs to automation and college educated people, kinda defeats the original intention of the ‘living wage’ concept. I’m no proponent of a living wage. The minimum wage is supposed to be a temporary wage to an employee until that person learns more skills to justify higher wages. Employers being forced to pay higher minimum wages to unskilled labor, seems to me, like a very bad idea. How many businesses will leave the state? How many people will not start future small businesses in California? What are all the long-term unintended consequences?

Time will tell…

White Holes

 

Via NASA/FQtQ

The theory of white holes came from Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, just as the theory of black holes existing. In solving for Einstein’s theory, one of the solutions requires that there cannot be any edges to space-time. If an object falls into a black hole, at some point it reaches singularity. At singularity, space-time is curved so much that it becomes an abrupt edge, and you can no longer predict the trajectory of the object falling into the black hole. But, in the Theory of General Relativity, that is not allowed. To account for this, there must be a region in which a black hole does not only draw matter within but is also ejecting matter.

A black hole and a white hole do share some characteristics. At singularity of both, all matter is infinitely dense. Both also have event horizons. The event horizon of a black hole is the point where matter can no longer escape, but in a white hole, matter can no longer return.

But do white holes exist? Some scientists say no because a white hole would violate the second law of thermodynamics. Suppose for a moment, what if a white hole is the opposite side of a black hole, also known as a wormhole? The problem with this wormhole theory is that the physics of a wormhole are inherently unstable. Before the time it would take to travel through a wormhole at greater than the speed of light, the wormhole would close.

Two Worlds and a side of trepidation

I moved to San Diego just prior to entering the new millennium. San Diego was a very different place from what I was accustomed. I had left behind a slower pace of life and the community which I had come to know as ‘home’, for a city that moved at a much faster pace and a lot more expensive to live.

I had considered moving to Montana instead of San Diego, but in San Diego, I had at least the support of my brother and sister. Montana offered what I craved at the time… peace and solitude. San Diego offered opportunities. The pragmatic side of me won out, so San Diego became ‘home’ for the next twenty-plus years.

Recently, I’ve the feeling of being torn between two worlds. San Diego is a great place to live. It has pretty much anything and everything a person could want. But I’m tired. Increasingly of late, I’ve found myself longing for solitude once again. And I long for peace.

Peace… what is that? I don’t rightly know, and I doubt if I will ever find it. But I think, peace is no longer feeling alienated… no longer trying to ‘fit in’… returning to the area of my youth, and attempting to reclaim a part of myself.

The nerd in me is reminded of Frodo leaving Middle Earth in LoTR. He left because his past injuries were too much to bear, and he sought relief from his wounds in the Undying Lands. But even in the Undying Lands, he still bore the Gift of Man. I think this may be what I’m seeking… relief in my version of the Undying Lands and ultimately embracing the Gift of Man.

 

Meat Loaf on my birthday

 

 

I grew up during the late 70’s to late 80’s. Music during that period was in constant change. One of the first songs that made an impression upon me was a ballad by Meat Loaf, ‘Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad’. The song was about a young man who loved a girl very deeply but she ended up leaving him. Some time later she comes back to him, but his badly wounded heart had moved on, and so he rejects her.

Meat Loaf’s musical style can be best described as Rock Opera. His long-time friend and songwriter was Jim Steinman, who passed away in April of 2021. Steinman wrote many songs for many performers. A few of those other performers were  Bonnie Tyler, Celine Dion, and Taylor Dayne. But, Meat Loaf was Steinman’s greatest collaborator. Meat Loaf brought Steinman’s songs to life. He gave the songs the theatrical performance they deserved. Bat Out of Hell was both Steinman’s and Meat Loaf’s greatest masterpiece.

Sadly, Meat Loaf passed away on January 20, 2022… my birthday.

 

 

 

 

Contradictions…

On occasion, I’m asked how could I hold seemingly opposing viewpoints on similar subject matter. One such area is on the value of life, specifically human life. I support the death penalty but oppose abortion. Some people, let’s be honest… liberals, see no difference between taking an unborn baby’s life (‘a clump of cells’… their words…) and capital punishment. They think my support of capital punishment is contradictory to my opposition to abortion. Through their very narrow world view, and skewed sense of ‘morality’, they think they occupy the moral high-ground.

My response to their assertions are two-fold, 1) From an ethical point-of-view, the biggest difference between abortion and capital punishment can be answered with a simple question. ‘What crime did the unborn commit to warrant it’s destruction?’ And 2) it is my view that no living thing has an absolute right to exist, that includes human beings… nothing. As much as we humans would like to think highly of ourselves, we’re statistically insignificant.

‘How can you say that?’, they ask. Well, let’s think about this for a moment from differing perspectives. From the standpoint of being a conscious human, I realize that life only exists to perpetuate itself. It really serves no other purpose. That said, I do believe that once a human life has been conceived, those responsible for its conception have an obligation to care for that life.

We’re human, and humans are full of contradictions…

Miss Baker

 

On my recent trip back ‘home’ to Huntsville, Alabama… I visited the Space and Rocket Center. I had lived in Huntsville previously for many years but never got around to actually paying a proper visit to the museum. I guess when something is so convenient, it’s easily put off until a later date. So, I took my son with me to see the museum. Amongst the many statues and tributes leading up to the space museum, was a small marker just outside the main entrance. Curiously enough, there were several bananas placed atop the marker. Upon closer inspection, this small marker bore the name of ‘Miss Baker’.

The younger generation may not know who Miss Baker was, but growing up in Huntsville, my generation was privileged to be front and center witnesses to the nation’s space race. Miss Baker was an icon of the ‘space race’ between the United States and the U.S.S.R. (the former Soviet Union, to you millennial crumb catchers). Miss Baker was one of two animals launched into space by the United States in 1959. The other was Miss Able, who expired 4 days after her flight, while having electrodes removed from her head.

Miss Baker survived her flight and went on to become the oldest living squirrel monkey, passing away due to kidney failure in 1984. She spent her last years living at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The marker is her tombstone, and one can usually find a banana or so placed upon it in her memory. Rest well, Miss Baker.

Below are two pictures. The first is of the containment vessel used to house Miss Baker during her flight. The second, is of the Jupiter nosecone in which Able and Baker rode. The flight went to an altitude of 360 miles, and traveled a distance of 1,700 miles. The sign goes on to say the two monkeys withstood 38 times the normal pull of gravity during launch. 

Notes on Nerd Camp, WG 2021

24 August 2021 (Tuesday)

With baited excitement, mixed with apprehension… I gazed around the room, looking for familiar faces. Some, I recognized immediately, others left me feeling unsure because their faces were partially obscured by face masks. The pandemic had definitely impacted the World Gathering in terms of numbers, as well as with interactions amongst the attendees.

NOTE: Socially, Mensans can be broken down into a few groups. Some are very outgoing and love physical contact, to include hugging. Others can be quite reserved and can resent their personal space being violated. And, as you can imagine, Mensans can fall somewhere between these extremes. Using colored dot stickers, placed upon our name badges, helps to identify which Mensan prefers what. But the mask mandates in place rendered the dot system non-essential.

25 August 2021 (Wednesday)

During breakfast in Hospitality, an old familiar realization came upon me. I had made a mental note of it before… People were walking around the room, some towards tables, others to pick up food and beverages. In their faces, I observed blank stares, joy and laughter, and varying degrees of weariness. I’m not any sort of expert on the subject, but it was easy to see social awkwardness in some of their faces and in their behaviors… and maybe even flashes of autism. Witnessing some of the interactions between Mensans kinda ‘confirmed’ my suspicions. It was hard for me to see it. I felt sadness, but also, some sense of relief. They could’ve been me. And, to a certain degree, they were. As I sat there thinking about them, I wondered if that was how other people… ‘regular’ people, thought about me.

I’m sure, to many folks, I can come off as a bit eccentric and awkward. I try to manage my actions and quirks to present, what I think to be, a favorable impression… or at least a neutral one. But what if, just maybe… I was being viewed by others in much the same way as these fellow Mensans I was observing?

Quantum biology

 

Quantum biology is the study of how quantum physics interacts with biology. It has its origins dating back to the 1920’s, when the Danish physicist Niels Bohr, delivered his influential lecture on his theory of atomic structure.

The use of quantum biology can help scientists explain certain phenomena within the plant and animal kingdoms.

Migratory birds

Migratory birds use of the earth’s magnetic fields to navigate. Scientific studies have found, if you cover one eye of a bird, you can ‘turn off’ the magnetic compass to the opposite side of the bird’s brain. This is accomplished because their eyes are affected by the protons entering the eyes and activating chemical reactions.

Imagine energy molecules having peaks and valleys, and the bird’s chemical compass delicately balanced at the peaks, slight changes in the Earth’s magnetic field can push the molecule into one of the valleys. This is where quantum entanglement plays a part in the bird’s ability to navigate.

Quantum entanglement refers to the states of two or more particles being interdependent, regardless of the distance separating them. It’s one of many counterintuitive features of the subatomic landscape, in which particles such as electrons and photons behave as both particles and waves simultaneously, occupy multiple positions and states at once, and traverse apparently impermeable barriers.

When a photon enters the bird’s eye, it creates a pair of entangled electrons. Each of the electrons have two possible states. Let’s refer to these states as ‘red’ and ‘green’.  Like Schrödinger’s cat, until it is observed (measured), the electron is neither red nor green. The electron is both at the same time. If the entanglement is based upon the color of each electron being the same, the entangled electron will always be the same color as the first. The entanglement could also be that the second electron is always the opposite color of the first. Confusing, right? It is as if the first electron is dictating the outcome of the second. This is why Einstein called quantum physics ‘spooky’. This is ultimately the key to the bird’s ability to navigate. The direction of the Earth’s magnetic field can influence the outcome of the entangled electrons.

Near the equator, the combination of electrons may be the same color. The farther away from the equator, the colors may be more likely opposite from each other. The bird is able to detect the tiny variations in these color patterns to know where it is located in relation to its destination.

Sense of smell

Why do some things smell like something else? For instance, why does cyanide smell like bitter almonds? The prevailing theory (the lock and key mechanism), dating from the 1950’s, is that scent molecules fit certain receptors, thereby triggering a unique smell sensation. But the compound structures for almonds and cyanide are very different and obviously cannot fit into receptors correctly as the lock and key theory suggests, yet they both share a common smell. What’s going on?

Quantum biology proposes that scent molecules vibrate the bonds that hold chemical compounds together. The bonds of almonds and cyanide resonate at the same frequency. A study was conducted using fruit flies to determine the validity of this theory. In the study, the smell of orange blossoms was recreated with a different form of hydrogen atom (deuterium) that vibrated at a slower frequency than a regular hydrogen atom. If the vibrations are different, the smells should also be different. The fruit flies were trained to avoid the modified version of the orange blossom molecule. In a maze like test, the fruit flies had to choose either the true orange blossom molecule or the modified version. They always chose the true orange blossom molecule.

This is not to say that the lock and key theory is incorrect, but rather that it works in conjunction with the scent molecule vibration theory.

 

 

Social media, the 5th estate.

 

When we speak of ‘estates’, we’re referring to the societal structure of the Middle Ages. That structure was broken down into three distinctive groups… the clergy (1st), the nobility (2nd), and the peasantry (3rd). In the United States, we sometimes refer to the press as the ‘fourth estate’, alongside our version of the first, second, and third estates (executive, legislative, and judicial branches). The role of the press, as it pertains to our system of government, is to provide a ‘check’ on the other three estates. The fourth estate functions as a watchdog, so to speak, and plays a very important role in keeping an open society informed.

Since the 1960’s, another estate has existed that encompasses the ideas of the counter-culture movement. Where once this counter-culture movement had little voice outside their respective communities, the advent of social media has given this group access to a worldwide audience.

The fifth estate, which are filled with conspiracy theorists/social bloggers and similar fringe media outlet types, attempts to persuade others on social platforms by using half-truths and innuendo. Until the last twelve years or so, this has been only a minor problem.

The American public is used to mainstream media (the 4th estate) being politically biased in their coverage of the news. But now the American public is bombarded with biased news reporting and a plethora of conspiracy theories pushed by both the 4th and 5th estate. This has blurred the lines as to what is truly factual vs merely conjecture.

Many people rarely read beyond the headlines or listen to more than snippets of soundbites. Their views and opinions are shaped by purposely skewed information and their own confirmation biases. Ultimately, this has the negative effect in producing an uninformed and easily manipulated electorate.

Confronting our implicit biases

 

 

Q: What is implicit bias? 

A: The term was coined in 1995 by psychologists M. Banaji and A. Greenwald. Simply stated, it is a social behavior, largely influenced by unconscious associations and judgements. 

Implicit biases can cross over several categories…not limited to, but including race, gender, and sexuality. One’s culture, religious upbringing… or lack thereof, and personal experiences, may also shape biases.

Below, is a video link which takes six individuals, and asks them to rank themselves and each other according to who they think are the most intelligent. They then give a brief explanation as to why they’ve come to their rankings. Afterwards, they are all given an IQ test to definitively place each, in the order of their results, from 1 (highest IQ) to 6 (lowest IQ).

I would like for you stop the video at 10:06. At this point, having heard each person’s educational level and why they’ve ranked each other the way they did, take a moment and rank each person too. As you’re doing so, think about why you believe each person’s ranking is justified in your mind.

Ok, so you’ve completed the video. How accurate were your assessments? Were you surprised? If you were way off on assessing a few of these people, why? Did the way they dressed, their educational level, etc., play a role in your first impressions? But most importantly, did you learn something by watching the video about implicit biases?

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