Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Again on T-Rex and new on the someday end of the universe

Saturday, I wrote about the Baby T-Rex possible discoveryHOW STUFF WORKS has a piece today which includes this:

Should the animal indeed be a young T. rex, it's part of an exclusive club. Atkins-Weltman told LiveScience that fewer than five "decently preserved juvenile T. rexes" have been found at Hell Creek. He adds that the new specimen would "probably be the most preserved and most complete" specimen among them.
Then again, it might be something else. In 1988, dino expert Robert Bakker and two colleagues looked over the skull of a smallish tyrannosaur that had been dug up in Montana. They claimed it belonged to a new species and named it Nanotyrannus lancensis. Supposedly a smaller cousin of T. rex, this thing would've co-existed with the better-known predator.
Not all paleontologists are convinced. While a few other bones have since been attributed to Nanotyrannus, skeptics argue that these remains — along with that skull — really came from a young Tyrannosaurus rex. In other words, Nanotyrannus may not be a valid genus at all. Like humans, dinosaurs changed shape as they aged. This fact might explain the physical differences between alleged Nanotyrannus bones and other T. rexremains.

I really hope it's a baby T-Rex.  But I also hope I didn't present it as "this is what it is."  I'm reading over what I wrote and don't think I was clear enough on that. I do have one sentence that reads "If it does turn out to be a baby T-Rex that will be great but regardless this is big news."  I agree with that -- big news either way -- but that's one sentence and I want to be clear that what it is -- actually is -- remains open to debate at this point.

I apologize for being too excited by the news to get that across strongly last time.

Okay, new topic.  Is time finite?  Is our time as a planet, as a universe, finite>

Nothing lasts forever, not even the universe itself. Whether its sentient evil AI that comes to destroy us or a giant Higgs-Boson world-ending void bubble that may already be traveling to devour Earth at the speed of light, as Stephen Hawking predicted, we all know humanity has an expiration date. But now, according to a group of theoretical physicists, we know the exact date.

In an effort to figure out exactly when all of known creation will cease to exist, theoretical physicists have undertaken an experiment to assess when the laws of physics themselves will start to deteriorate, because, apparently, even something as simple as electromagnetic energy has a shelf life.

As it turns out, we've only got 10139 years left until everything breaks down and the rules of our universe stop applying in the same way that they do now.

AOL adds:

So would the death of a star or some other catastrophic event be needed for this to occur? Scientists don’t think so.
According to them, all it would take is the destabilization of the Higgs boson -- or the God particle -- which is thought to give all matter its mass.
What would follow is an explosion of energy that would destroy everything in the universe. 

Now these are models that they're working with and these are predictions and guess work so no one need panic that the universe might end (it would be trillions of years from now).  But at some point, things do end.  Endings can be sad.  They can also be uplifting.

I was thinking about something related to this when I saw this topic.

I was thinking about crazy Barbra Streisand cloning her dog twice.


And thinking about how if we ended death or moved towards cloning, our already over-populated earth would be even more overpopulated.  And I wondered if cloning were available to the super rich, would death ever come for some people?

I could make a crack about Barbra living forever but that's not really my point. 

I honestly don't think I would want to live forever on this planet in this lifetime.

Would I feel differently if I didn't believe in heaven?

I don't know.  I don't think it would make much difference.  But who knows?

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Wednesday, April 4, 2018.  Alissa J. Rubin reports on checkpoints in Iraq, Brett McGurk reveals the real reason Barack Obama started moving US troops back into Iraq in 2014 (it wasn't the Yazidis), and much more.

Oh, the stupidity. We were going to go with Peter Baker but there was a bigger fool on Iraq today.

People treating Laura Ingraham like some sort of free speech martyr didn't seem to mind so much when Phil Donahue lost his show for the crime of being right about the Iraq war.

People are objecting to a cry baby White boy who shoved his way to the front of the photo op to tear center stage away from students of color only to then throw a tantrum because Larua Ingraham said he was "whining."  Grow the hell up.  And since he can't, broadcasters are being irresponsible by booking David Hogg.  He does not have the maturity to be in public.

Ingraham said he was whining.  For that, her advertisers were astroturffed by Hogg and his followers who don't hold jobs and have all the time in the world to create sock puppets.  Ingraham has done some appalling things.  Saying someone was "whining" is not one of them.  She doesn't deserve to be targeted for this nonsense.

But, more to the point, Schooley, you don't know what the hell you're talking about.  Phil Donahue did not lose his show because he was right about the Iraq War.  The Iraq War had not started.  MSNBC pulled his show because they felt his questioning during war time would come off as unpatriotic.  Should he have lost his show?  No.  And it was a hit show.  But let's not alter reality because you're too lazy to learn what happened, Schooley.

Moving over to THE NEW YORK TIMES, they have re-launched their blog AT WAR and one of the pieces there is by Alissa J. Rubin who returned to Iraq in January and who will have a piece on Iraq in an upcoming NEW YORK TIMES SUNDAY MAGAZINE.  This is from her blog about a three hour trip in Iraq previously was now a nine hour trip due to all the checkpoints:

After the last Kurdish position, everything changed. We were diverted onto a minor road that twisted through the desert scrub of the Nineveh plains. We emerged at a large Iraqi Army checkpoint with cars and trucks parked haphazardly on either side.
A soldier asked if I was a foreigner. Yes, we said.
We were not allowed to pass. At a dilapidated concrete building surrounded by mud and pickup trucks, we were told we could plead our case.
The one dubious comfort was that there seemed to be others waylaid.
We entered a room with scuffed walls. Soiled, sunken couches lay along two sides of the room. There was a large battered desk along the third wall. On the fourth wall was an army cot. The only light came through windows so dirty it was hard to see out. A soldier smoked a hookah pipe.
A man wearing jeans and a leather jacket restlessly paced. He appeared to be in charge. “Papers,” he snapped.
We produced press cards. Looking around, I saw other idled travelers with forms bearing official-looking stamps. The soldier reviewed each form carefully.
He seemed decent enough. He said he would call his supervisor, and if we had permission, we could cross.
We called our bureau in Baghdad. We did have government approval. We asked our office manager to try to get someone with authority to call the checkpoint on our behalf.
We waited. We waited some more. Other travelers came and went. Our office in Baghdad recommended we call local army commanders. We texted, we called, then we pleaded some more with the checkpoint chief. Nothing happened.
I looked at my watch. It had been an hour and five minutes. I turned to Kamil: “What can we do?”
“You know Jabouri, right?” he said.

No, I answered.
Kamil was referring to Gen. Najim Abed al-Jabouri, the Iraqi Army commander in charge of Mosul and the surrounding territory, who had a reputation for being reasonable.
“Even if you don’t know him, why don’t you call him?” Kamil said.
More calls to Baghdad. Jabouri’s number was sent to me. As I typed him a text message, the checkpoint soldier dialed a number on his phone, muttering in Arabic.
Kamil had been watching. He spoke softly to me. “The guy just made a phone call and said, ‘Now they are calling Jabouri, I’m going to let them go.’ ”
An hour and 15 minutes after arriving, we were free. We rushed to our car before anyone of them could change their minds.

Checkpoints are often associated with borders so let's move to that topic.  Yesterday the US Institute of Peace held several talks on Iraq.  The third and final one included a group composed of Brett McGurk (lead US diplomat on Iraq under Barack Obama, also a diplomat on Iraq under Bully Boy Bush and a diplomat on Iraq under Donald Trump who is ending Brett's current position), US Gen Joseph Votel, USAID's Mark Green and noted leaker Stephen J. Hadley.  Votel was the one who stressed the issue of borders and how this involves the US troops.

Because, please note, US troops remain in Iraq.  While you are being distracted, US troops remain in Iraq.   It's amazing that the US press appears to be ignoring the events at the US Institute of Peace because this group is funded by Congress and has a direct pipeline to Congress.  As most participants noted, Congress will be making determinations shortly.  And what the so-called peace event was pimping?  Continued US military presence in Iraq.  This came from USAID's Mark Green.  It came from all of the participants.  But Green, someone who has nothing to do with the military, couldn't stop praising the new civilian and military mixture teams -- who, he insisted, were not duplicating one another's work.  The event was all about selling the war, continuing the war.  Why wasn't the American press interested in covering this DC event?

US Gen Joseph Votel:  We'll-we'll  see a heavy focus on the development of Iraqi border forces. Uh, this will be very, very important. They-they do not want to have a repeat of what happened before. Obviously, ISIS is an organization that operates without regard to borders or boundaries or any, uh, any recognized norm of that sort and so being able to protect their own borders, is, I think is a -- is a key aspect of this. And, along the way, we'll see the coalition forces with the United States continue to provide the support that the government of Iraq has asked of them. And this has been something we've been talking about with them for some time here, so that we do remain in a position where we can continue to help them professionalize, continue to help them develop into the -- into the security force that the Iraqi people need and want to protect them in the future. So uh, in-in Iraq, I think we're in a pretty good place right now security wise. It is -- there still is the presence of ISIS, uh, there's no doubt about that, but I think with the coalition's support, I think the Iraqi security forces are in a pretty good position to begin to address that.

He was not the only one noting (advocating for) the continued US military presence in Iraq at the Institute of Peace.  SPUTNIK notes Iraq's Ambassador to the US, Fareed Yasseen, who declared, "They played a really critical role.  We will continue to need their support and their expertise to fight ISIS in the comping phases where you will have to move from terrain tactics warfare to intelligence, fusion cells, counter-terrorism, things like that."  ALMASDAR NEWS adds, "Moreover, Yasseen said that Iraq would also need the support of the United States to secure its border with Syria."

Again, no matter who spoke, they all joined the chorus of "Keep US Boots On The Ground."

Some sang it a little louder, but they all sang it.

Some did a solo turn or two.  Chief among them?  Brett McGurk.

Why did US troops start going back into Iraq in heavier numbers after the second half of 2014?  To help the Yazidis!


That has been the lie.

The conference cleared that up.  Don't think Brett realized he was doing that, but he did.  He wanted to talk about how they arrived at this recent point in history and he wanted to start with 2014.  He revealed that Baghdad was seriously concerned the Islamic State would seize the city (which everyone already knew) and that, at this time, the US government was seriously exploring evacuating the US Embassy in Baghdad (a detail not previously discussed in the US press), "that's how serious it was."

Not everyone's selling the notion of US troops remaining in Iraq.  The idea is especially unpopular in Iraq.  Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr continues to call for US troops to leave the country.  Baxtiyar Goran (KURDISTAN 24) reports:

Influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Sunday expressed his rejection to the presence of foreign troops in Iraq, vowing resistance against them.
In a hand-written letter released to the media by his office, Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist Movement in Iraq, warned against the presence of the US or any other foreign military in the country.
“Our position regarding the presence of the invading US forces, under the pretext of military advisers, and with the endorsement and knowledge of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is clear,” he wrote. “Everyone knows our position, we reject and resist” the presence of the US troops in Iraq.

Violence continues in Iraq.  UNAMI released their undercount of violence for the month of March:

UN Casualty Figures for for the Month of March 2018 A total of 104 Iraqi civilians were killed and another 177 injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq in March 2018*, according to casualty figures recorded by UNAMI.

The following community sites -- plus PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and NPR -- updated: