Category Archives: Higgs Boson

Hot Air, Cold Pizza

Go Read Alice

Congrats to Canadian short story writer Alice Munro on her Nobel Prize in Literature. Her latest is the collection Dear Life.

Book Cover

Munro’s 82 years old now and she has already announced she isn’t going to write anymore. The Nobel is a fitting coda to her brilliant and glorious career. If you want to learn more about her, here’s a good ten-year old biography of her that ran in the Guardian UK.

Crisis In Black And White

Bingo, babies! The fed shutdown is merely the latest play in the long running game of Republican Us vs. Them politics. The “us” being scared white Murricans and the “them” being everyone else.

Joan Walsh of Salon laid it all out in the Chicago Tribune last week (h/t to Monroe Anderson), although you would instinctively know this if you’ve been paying attention.

Walsh

Joan Walsh

The GOP since soon after the end of World War II has been organizing around the visceral fear whites have that blacks will one day amass enough guns, money, and real power (oops, sorry I’m being redundant) to overthrow the whole shebang here. Not only that, our wives and daughters will be taken as spoils.

No lie. You have to have grown up in an edgy, pure white neighborhood as I did to really grasp this: Black men with their large penises are to be quelled at all costs.

That’s my addendum to Walsh’s superb take on America’s political history of the last half century or so.

Even the National Rifle Association became a power to be reckoned with by demonizing blacks. The NRA gang was just a nice little club for deer hunters and such until the late 1960’s when, responding to an exaggerated threat of black nationalism and the emergence of the armed Black Panthers, the organization began conducting a national grass-roots campaign to limit access to guns. Yup. Some 40 years ago, it was far more important to the NRA that guns be kept out of the hands of blacks than in the hands of whites. Now, of course, it’s far more important to keep guns in the hands of paranoid schizophrenics than it is to make firearms purchases a tad more inconvenient for everyone else. (The reasons for that transformation are grist for another post, another time.)

Panthers

Black Panthers in 1969

As this holy land’s demographics change, the Strom Thurmond/Dick Nixon/Ronald Reagan/Roger Ailes strategy of appealing to jittery whites is becoming less and less effective. By 2050, say, whites won’t be able to throw their weight around as they are doing in this weird game of chicken that has closed, basically, the social safety net and all other parts of the gummint that don’t have to do with maintaining our sacred duty to threaten the rest of the planet with incineration.

It can even be argued that men like Ronald Reagan weren’t racists in their hearts. But the fact that they found it easy to capitalize on racial fears in order to attain and keep power made them, and the country as a whole, racist indeed.

(OTOH, Strom Thurmond was a racist, through and through, and I don’t care how many children he sired with black women. Nixon wasn’t specifically a racist; he loathed all humanity equally. Ailes? He’s just a pig.)

So yeah, the Republicans and the Me Party-ists who seem to have a power all out of proportion the the rest of the body politic ain’t gonna be big shots much longer. Problem is, with the Koch Bros.’ (among other sneaky plutocrats) dough behind them, John Boehner et al can do some really serious damage to the nation. Hell, they’ve done it already.

Think of it as a fire in your home. It may have started in the kitchen and, thanks to quick work by the firefighters (who get paid by that hated gummint, BTW), the rest of your house was saved. Still, the kitchen’s a wreck. It’ll be a long time before the place is functioning properly.

Walsh is right; this isn’t an all-sides-are-to-blame thing; the Republicans started it and now the rest of us are feeling the heat.

[Big Mike Note: The head for this entry is stolen from a 1964 book of the same name, written by Charles E. Silberman. He was among the first to identify and explain the reality that the USA is really two separate nations.]

Big Mike Explains It All

[Wordpress went a little funny in the head yesterday so this post that should have been dated Wednesday, October 9, 2013, is now dated today.]

Okay, kids, strap on your crash helmets because things are gonna get really, really weird here now.

As you know Peter Higgs won the Nobel Prize in Physics yesterday Monday because a bunch of geeks toying around with the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN facility on the border of France and Switzerland finally found the sub-atomic particle that bears his name. See, Higgs got cracking with pencil and paper (and eraser — lots of erasers) some 50 years ago and as a result of some calculations he did, he was able to predict the existence of the Higgs Boson, aka the God Particle, although most serious physicists get really cranky when the Higgs is called that.

Telegraph UK Image

Peter Higgs

People called the Higgs the God Particle because some wise guys figgered once it was found, scientists would know the secret of existence. That is, why things exist, and why they don’t just smash into each other and annihilate themselves or, conversely, why everything there is doesn’t just go flying off into its own nowhere so that there would be no mass or forces or even pizza.

Talk about existentialism! This whole shebang couldn’t get more mind-bending if the ghosts of Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, and Kafka suddenly were to appear in the living room playing Twister in their stocking feet.

Twister

That’s Kafka In The Green Suit & Wearing Glasses

Whereas pious folk say the Big Daddy-o in the Sky snapped his fingers one day and next thing anybody knew, light, aluminum, oceans, Adam & Eve, and shingles all came into being, particle physicists tell us reality is just a seemingly endless series of Russian nesting dolls, with ever teensier pieces fitting inside each other. There was a time when the learned among us thought atoms were the smallest things there could be.

Har-de-har-har. Over the last 150 years or so, researchers have found successively smaller motes that make atoms look like honeydew melons. Things got so surreal that when Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig, unbeknownst to one another, dreamed up the idea of the most fundamental particle yet back in the early 1960s, one of them had to reach into the bizarro world of James Joyce’s poetry for a name. Finnegan’s Wake provided the following line:

Three quarks for Muster Mark!
Sure he has not got much of a bark
And sure any he has it’s all beside the mark.

What in the hell ever that means. So inscrutable were those two sentences that Gell-Mann immediately sensed he’d happened upon the right language from which to pluck a perfect term. Ergo, quark.

But wait! Even quarks had to be shoved around by smaller pieces of something so Higgs entered the picture in 1964, proposing his eponymous boson. It wasn’t until March of this year that the CERN gang proved Higgs’ speck of near nothingness really does exist.

The Standard Model that most physicists today subscribe to holds that magnetism, electricity, light, and a few other of nature’s magic tricks do their thing via force-carrying particles. These little specks, which are far too miniscule to be seen even with the strongest grocery store reading glasses, have mass or, to use a very technical term, oomph, only because they rub up against the Higgs Field.

Dig: The Higgs Field, which is everywhere, sprinkles photons and other force-carrying particles with confetti-like Higgs Bosons so that they, the photons et al, actually carry some weight and therefore can push things around.

And that’s why there are Republicans, pebbles, electric guitars, and — yes — pizza, as opposed to a universe full of, well, nothing.

Pizza

Raison d’Être

We and everything around us are made of of countless billions and trillions of mini billiard balls — which actually also are waves, but don’t worry your pretty and handsome heads about that because if you start, search parties of shrinks would have to disperse in search of your sanity. Just trust, alright? Anyways, those eensy-schmeensy billiard balls only can come together to become a deep dish pie with sausage and green peppers thanks to the Higgs Field and its mass-inducing confetti called Higgs Bosons.

Understand?

That’s okay, neither do I.

Fortunately, Peter Higgs does and that’s why he won the big prize yesterday.

Aren’t you glad you read this rather than gawked at yet another picture of Miley Cyrus sticking her tongue out?

Cyrus

Put That Back In Your Head!

[Another Big Mike Note: I’m neither a mathematician nor an expert on particle physics. Try as I might, there’s a good chance that my word picture herein describing the Higgs Boson and Field is full of crap. If so and you, dear reader, are a physics geek, please correct me.]

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Affluence creates poverty.” — Marshall McLuhan

GAME ON

I have a feeling Rep. Todd Young (R-Indiana) is getting a little concerned about Shelli Yoder.

She Works Hard For The Money

The Dem challenger, you may recall, came out of nowhere a couple of weeks before the primary filing deadline and proceeded to trounce four opponents, two of whom were actually serious candidates.

Yoder’s been criss-crossing the 9th District, shaking hands, marching in parades, and listening to folks talk about the state of the nation in diners and church basements. She’s been raising dough, too.

The former Miss America second runner-up is looking more and more like the real deal.

Ergo, the Todd Young campaign is hitting up contributors for what might turn out to be a contest. He’s raised $1.2M so for this election season, according to the Herald Times.

TYLER EARWORMS ME

The inimitable Tyler Ferguson (Kaka Caliente of the Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls) blew into Soma Coffee this AM, singing “Mandy.”

You remember “Mandy” don’t you? The Barry Manilow hit of 1974 wherein, according to legend, he sings lovingly — some say a little too lovingly — of his lapdog. He wasn’t, of course; the song was written by someone else years before Manilow turned it into his first chart-topper.

Please Forgive Me

Anyway, Tyler/Kaka was pumped because the selfsame Manilow, she gushed, will be playing in these parts soonly. “You can get tickets for ten dollars!” she said. “I’d pay that for him. Nothing more, though.”

Where? I demanded, so I could leave the region while he was in it.

“I dunno,” Tyler said. “Somewhere.”

Which, come to think of it, is the definitive Tyler/Kaka answer.

So, here’s the deal. Manilow will play in Indy on August 3rd and in Louisville, July 27th. Bloomington will be, in other words, surrounded by Barry Manilow.

And now I have “Mandy” looping in my brain.

WE’RE BROKE (EXCEPT FOR THAT TWO BILLION BUCKS WE FOUND)

I’ve never pretended to understand high finance. It’s as baffling to me as Higgs Boson is to a kindergartner.

All I know is Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and his legislative co-conspirators within the last couple of years have moaned and groaned about how the economy has ruined state finances and, therefore, school funding must be slashed to the bone.

Sorry, Kids

Now, all of a sudden, there’s a $2.15B surplus in the Indiana state treasury? And now, all of a sudden, the state’ll be to be mailing out $100 checks to each and every taxpayer in the state? During an election year?

Are you confused about this, too? I have a sneaking suspicion, though, it all makes perfect sense.

ROMNEY’S SMART

Say what you will about Mitt Romney, he played a brilliant hand when he spoke to the NAACP the other day.

In fact, he took a page out of the playbook of the Republicans and Cro-Magnon Democrats of the ’60s by putting himself in a position to be booed by attendees of the venerable civil rights organization’s annual conference the other day.

Ladies And Gentlemen Of The Negro Race….

The likes of Dick Nixon and George Wallace occasionally would speak before hostile crowds and withstand their jeering just to remind their core constituencies which side they were on. Wallace was particularly adept at the tactic; he loved ranting and raving before college crowds, knowing full well he’d get verbal tomatoes (and sometimes the actual vegetable/fruit) thrown at him. His anti-intellectual base would read of the rude response in the papers or see it on TV news and be reminded how much they hated pointy-headed liberals.

You College Kids Hate Me, Donchya?

Romney told the NAACP shindig that President Obama’s health care reforms were garbage. Natch, the NAACP-ers gave him the raspberry.

Some wags say Romney failed miserably in his effort to court black voters. Now there’s a misreading of the situation for you. Honestly, do you think Mitt expects to get any meaningful portion of the black vote?

Neither do I. But now the Me Party-ists and the shootin’ iron-totin’ back country Republicans know for sure that them blacks (saying the word with scorn and rage) are agin’ Romney almost as much as real Americans hate Obama.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Stable Studios, Spencer — Bluegrass festival 2012, tonight: Open jam — tomorrow: The Travelin’ McCoury’s, The White Lightning Boys, Rumpke Mountain Boys, Flatland Harmony Experiment, New Old Cavalry, the Stuttering Ducks, The Seratones; 1pm-midnight

The White Lightning Boys

◗ IU Dowling International CenterEnglish Conversation Club, for non-native speakers of American English; 1pm

The Venue Fine Arts & GiftsOpening reception, ‘Our Fine Feathered Friends” exhibit by William Zimmerman, John Gould, James Tracy, Joanne Shank, and Julia Ferguson; 6pm

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Music Series: String academy final student recital; 6-8pm

◗ IU Art MuseumJazz in July series, Mahluli-McCutchen Quartet; 6:30pm

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”; 7pm

“Jiro Dream of Sushi”

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Whipstitch Sallies; 7-9pm — Bonz; 9:30-11:30pm

◗ Monroe Lake, Paynetown SRADedication for new Activity Center, ice cream social; 7-8:30pm

◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreMusical, “You Can’t Take It With You”; 7:30pm

Brown County Playhouse, Nashville — Musical, “Footloose”; 7:30pm

The Comedy AtticChelsea Peretti; 8 & 10:30pm

Cafe DjangoEarplane, Latin-Brazilian jazz; 8pm

Max’s PlaceSad Sam Blues Jam; 8pm — Ziona Riley; 10pm

◗ IU Musical Arts CenterSummer Arts Festival: Symphonic series, conductor Carlos Kalmar, works by Rossini, Dvorak, and Brahms; 8pm

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series, “Elles”; 8pm

The Player’s PubCrossover; 8pm

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series, “Gerhard Richter Painting”; 8:30pm

Bear’s PlaceThe Brown Bottle Flu, Hotel, War, Coralus; 9pm

The BishopFilm, “Own Worst Eenemy”; 9pm

The BluebirdDot Dot Dot; 9pm

Uncle Elizabeth’sVicci Laine & the West End Girls; 10pm & midnight

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th
  • Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
  • Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
  • Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
  • Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st
  • Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th through August 3rd

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Closed for semester break

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

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