(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘law

“Two obsessions are the hallmarks of Nature’s artistic style: Symmetry- a love of harmony, balance, and proportion [and] Economy- satisfaction in producing an abundance of effects from very limited means”*…

Life is built of symmetrical structures. But why? Sachin Rawat explores…

Life comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all organisms generally have at least one feature in common: symmetry.

Notice how your left half mirrors the right or the radial arrangement of the petals of a flower or a starfish’s arms. Such symmetry persists even at the microscopic level, too, in the near-spherical shape of many microbes or in the identical sub-units of different proteins.

The abundance of symmetry in biological forms begs the question of whether symmetric designs provide an advantage. Any engineer would tell you that they do. Symmetry is crucial to designing modular, robust parts that can be combined together to create more complex structures. Think of Lego blocks and how they can be assembled easily to create just about anything.

However, unlike an engineer, evolution doesn’t have the gift of foresight. Some biologists suggest that symmetry must provide an immediate selective advantage. But any adaptive advantage that symmetry may provide isn’t by itself sufficient to explain its pervasiveness in biology across scales both great and small.

Now, based on insights from algorithmic information theory, a study published in Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences suggests that there could be a non-adaptive explanation…

Symmetrical objects are less complex than non-symmetrical ones. Perhaps evolution acts as an algorithm with a bias toward simplicity: “Simple is beautiful: Why evolution repeatedly selects symmetrical structures,” from @sachinxr in @bigthink.

Frank Wilczek (@FrankWilczek)

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As we celebrate symmetry, we might recall (speaking of symmetry) that it was on this date in 1963 that the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed into law by president John F. Kennedy. Aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex, it provided that “[n]o employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section [section 206 of title 29 of the United States Code] shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs[,] the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex […].

Those exceptions (and lax enforcement) have meant that, 60 years later, women in the U.S. are still paid less than men in comparable positions in nearly all occupations, earning on average 83 cents for every dollar earned by a man in a similar role.

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“Fondling their weapons, feeling suddenly so young and good they are reminded that guns are more than decoration, intimidation, or comfort. They are meant.”*…

Micah Harris (31) – Oxnard, California Since he was a boy, Micah Harris has had just one wish—to surround himself with the same guns he’s seen in Hollywood movies. He would dream about them at night, first and foremost among them, “Bruce Willis’s Beretta from Die Hard. It’s a legend.” However, surrounding oneself with firearms is no simple thing in California, and not well looked upon either. When he decided to buy his first rifle, a Remington 700, the bureaucratic hoops he had to jump through were so many and so complex that he decided to set up a YouTube channel, posting updates on his progress and sharing what he learned along the way. The channel garnered moderate success. Today, Micah knows all the rules and advises others on how to buy the firearms they want. He manages a gun shop that he founded with a friend, and he’s also a member of the NRA. Losing some friends in a mass shooting only strengthened his convictions about the importance of knowing how to defend oneself. “Shootings are a tragic way to use a tool that was never conceived for that purpose. If I could speak to the victims, I’d tell them I offer them all of my help and understanding, and that I’d be happy to teach them how to use guns, so that they could defend themselves in the future.” Choosing a favorite gun is kind of like choosing a favorite child. If I really had to, I’d say an Mk 12 Mod 1
Torrell Jasper, a.k.a. Black Rambo (35) – Schiever, Louisiana (in the background, Allen Craff, Tyrone Gathen, James J. Herbert) Every day, nearly six hundred thousand people wait for Torrell Jasper to make his appearance on Instagram and show off one of his guns. To find him, just type in “Black Rambo,” a nickname he’s extremely proud of, and make sure you don’t end up on his son’s account by mistake (at 13, he’s already trying to make a name for himself on social media). Torrell, now 35, learned to shoot from his father as a child. A former Marine, he spent a few years in war zones, “where pulling the trigger and hitting the target was a question of life or death.” Now, back in civilian life and working as an A/C systems installer, Torrell, a.k.a. Black Rambo, mostly just has fun with his guns. People have fun watching him, too. About a hundred different manufacturers of firearms and related paraphernalia have, over the years, asked him to use and promote their products, and he loves being the center of attention at least as much as he loves owning a flamethrower. “There are no weapons I would ban ordinary citizens from owning, but if I had to name one, well, a bazooka isn’t really something you need,” he admits. That said, he has no fear that an item in his arsenal might be dangerous for his young children or for any of his many followers. “It’s not guns that hurt people, it’s the people holding the guns.” I couldn’t say which weapon is my favorite. I can’t choose just one. I love them all. That’s why I buy so many. The first gun I ever bought was an AK-47.

Two of the arresting portraits in Gabriele Galimberti‘s striking series “The Ameriguns,” @GabrieleGalimba.

* Toni Morrison, Paradise

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As we pine for ploughshares, we might recall that it was on this date in 2021 that U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez of the Southern District of California ruled that sections of the 1989 California state ban on assault weapons– military-style rifles like the AR-15, so prominently featured in the photos above– was unconstitutional. In his opinion, Benitez opined, “like the Swiss Army knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.” Later that month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit blocked his ruling.

For a different set of Pictures: “America’s gun culture – in seven charts.”

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 4, 2022 at 1:00 am

“Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water”*…

Prohibition agents amid cases of scotch whiskey in hold of a rum running ship, 1924 (Library of Congress)

From the annals of self-help, get rich quick writing, The Saturday Evening Post

If you were a bright, ambitious, young man in 1922 who wasn’t inconvenienced by your conscience, you might have considered starting your own liquor distribution business.

There were, of course, challenges: specifically, the 18th Amendment, Treasury Department officers, and, to a wildly unpredictable level, state and local law enforcement.

But in our May 13, 1922, issue, an Anonymous Bootlegger offered insider information to help ambitious entrepreneurs on their way to becoming the next Al Capone.

He discussed three promising business models: brokering legal “medicinal” liquor, driving liquor over the border from Canada, or bringing it by boat from overseas…

How to: “So You Want to Be a Bootlegger,” from @SatEvePost.

* W.C. Fields

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As we scoff at the law, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956 that city authorities in the California beach town of Santa Cruz announced a total ban on the public performance or playing of rock and roll music, calling it “detrimental to both the health and morals of our youth and community.”

It may seem obvious now that Santa Cruz’s ban on “Rock-and-roll and other forms of frenzied music” was doomed to fail, but it was hardly the only such attempt. Just two weeks later in its June 18, 1956 issue, Time magazine reported on similar bans recently enacted in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and in San Antonio, Texas, where the city council’s fear of “undesirable elements” echoed the not-so-thinly-veiled concerns of Santa Cruz authorities over the racially integrated nature of the event that prompted the rock-and-roll ban… (source)

rock ban

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On an orthogonol (and personal) note: the important (and revolutionary) work of @b612foundation (on whose board I sit) is featured on the front page of this week’s New York Times Science Section: “Killer Asteroids Are Hiding in Plain Sight. A New Tool Helps Spot Them” (unlocked).

Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 3, 2022 at 1:00 am

“Information was found to be everywhere”*…

A newly-proposed experiment could confirm the fifth state of matter in the universe—and change physics as we know it…

Physicist Dr. Melvin Vopson has already published research suggesting that information has mass and that all elementary particles, the smallest known building blocks of the universe, store information about themselves, similar to the way humans have DNA.

Now, he has designed an experiment—which if proved correct—means he will have discovered that information is the fifth form of matter, alongside solid, liquid, gas and plasma…

Dr. Vopson said: “This would be a eureka moment because it would change physics as we know it and expand our understanding of the universe. But it wouldn’t conflict with any of the existing laws of physics. It doesn’t contradict quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, thermodynamics or classical mechanics. All it does is complement physics with something new and incredibly exciting.”

Dr. Vopson’s previous research suggests that information is the fundamental building block of the universe and has physical mass. He even claims that information could be the elusive dark matter that makes up almost a third of the universe…

Is information is a key element of everything in the universe? “New experiment could confirm the fifth state of matter in the universe.”

* James Gleick, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood

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As we go deep, we might send thoroughly-modeled birthday greetings to Stanislaw Ulam; he was born on this date in 1909. A mathematician and nuclear physicist, he originated the Teller–Ulam design of thermonuclear weapons, discovered the concept of the cellular automaton, and suggested nuclear pulse propulsion.

But his most impactful contribution may have been his creation of the the Monte Carlo method of computation. While playing solitaire during his recovery from surgery, Ulam had thought about playing hundreds of games to estimate statistically the probability of a successful outcome. With ENIAC in mind, he realized that the availability of computers made such statistical methods very practical, and in 1949, he and Nicholas Metropolis published the first unclassified paper on the Monte Carlo method… which is now widely used in virtually every scientific field, in engineering and computer science, finance and business, and the law.

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