DIY Quasar Interferometry

CJ Trowbridge

2020-12-02

ASTR 11

Lab N13 Report

I’m writing about Radio Interferometry. This is a topic that I am very interested in. As a licensed amateur radio technician, I have tried for several semesters to do an honors project on this topic but haven’t yet found a professor who was as interested as I am in radio interferometry.

Let’s start with the definition from Britannica. “[an] apparatus consisting of two or more separate antennas that receive radio waves from the same astronomical object and are joined to the same receiver.”

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory explains its function, “a radio telescope interferometer can combine measurements from each of the pairs of antennas in an array simultaneously, it can make a very high resolution measurement of a specific point in the focal plane of the radio telescope.  By combining many pairs of antennas one can create an image of a specific point in the sky.”

The type of radio interferometry I am most interested in is Quasar Interferometry. According to Wikipedia, Quasar Interferometry is also called Very-long-baseline interferometry or VLBI. For the purposes of this paper, there is no functional difference between Pulsars and Quasars since both have known locations and emit similar radio signals. In reality (According to HowItWorksDaily.com) Quasars are galaxies while Pulsars are merely stars, but again for our purposes what matters is that they both have known locations and emit predictable radio signals.

According to Space.com, a quasar is a distant object powered by a black hole which transmits a predictable radio signal out into space. These signals reach us as a regular sine wave on a certain frequency. We know about many quasars and we know where they are and what their signal should sound like.

One type of antenna for Radio Interferometry is called a Phased Array. According to radartutorial.eu, a phased array is “an array antenna whose single radiators can be fed with different phase shifts. As a result, the common antenna pattern can be steered electronically.” This is very exciting for two reasons. First, because with several small antennae, you can listen and measure the microscopic differences in timing in order to precisely determine the direction from which a signal originated.

Secondly, phased arrays are interesting because when you record overlapping signals coming from different directions, you can also isolate noise propagating across the array in other directions, and remove it from the signal you are looking for. In this way, a phased array is to radio interferometry as lasers are to adaptive optics.

There are several interesting potential observations that could be made with a phased radio interferometer. In my own proposed honors project, I would be using software defined radio to listen to the predictable transmissions of various quasars.

The first interesting observation would be simply using a phased array. This is because I would theoretically be able to pinpoint the precise direction to each of the quasars. Since these directions are known, I could triangulate the position of the array. This would essentially function as a much more precise alternative to GPS which would not require the satellites. Some kind of similar technology will be necessary once humans begin to explore space and move beyond the range of the GPS satellites.

The second interesting observation would be measuring small variances in the sine waves we receive from each quasar. The signals sent out by Quasars do not change in frequency, but the signal we receive from them should. This is because of the propagation of gravity waves across the interstellar medium. Theoretically, measuring these small fluctuations in frequency would mean we can pinpoint the point of origin for gravity waves as they move across the various Quasar beams we are listening to.

This would make a phased radio interferometer function as both a better alternative to GPS and a powerful gravity wave sensor. We do have existing GPS infrastructure, but gravity wave detection is still bleeding edge science, and our current sensors are limited by their human-made terrestrial size. If we used the enormous distance between earth and the many Quasars as a gravity sensor, then we could expand our gravity sensor to the size of that distance between us and the Quasars. Imagine the increase in resolution and precision, and all from a few SDR dongles that can fit in your pocket.

There are some technical challenges to using off the shelf products to conduct these kinds of observations. According to Caltech, Quasars emit radio waves between 10mhz and 100ghz. According to the manufacturer of RTL-SDR, this is well within the range of their cheap $20 dongle. This means for just $20 you can easily pick up the signals from any Quasar; of course you would need at least a few of them to build a phased array. Perhaps the biggest challenge would be writing the special software you would need to record and compare the signals from each phase in your antenna array. Harder still would be the software tools you would need to analyze the data and find the results.

In researching for this paper, I have learned that since my original honors project proposal, NASA has actually completed a proof of concept for this idea using a phased array of 52 radio telescopes. So apparently I have been scooped, but in the words of NASA scientist Keith Gendreau, “It could probably be done with a single telescope. ” So maybe there is some work left to do in radio interferometry yet!

 

 

 

Works Cited

Britannica. “Radio Interferometer.” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://www.britannica.com/science/radio-interferometer

Caltech. “Fanaroff-Riley Classification.” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/level5/Glossary/Essay_fanaroff.html

HowItWorksDaily.com. “What is the difference between a quasar and a pulsar?” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://www.howitworksdaily.com/what-is-the-difference-between-a-quasar-and-a-pulsar/

NASA. “NASA test proves pulsars can function as a celestial GPS.” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-00478-8

National Radio Astronomy Observatory. “How Does a Radio Interferometer Work?” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://public.nrao.edu/ask/how-does-a-radio-interferometer-work/

RadarTutorial.eu. “Phased Array Antennas.” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://www.radartutorial.eu/06.antennas/Phased%20Array%20Antenna.en.html

RTL-SDR.com. “DETECTING PULSARS (ROTATING NEUTRON STARS) WITH AN RTL-SDR.” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://www.rtl-sdr.com/detecting-pulsars-rotating-neutron-stars-with-an-rtl-sdr/

Space.com “Quasars: Brightest Objects in the Universe.” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://www.space.com/17262-quasar-definition.html

Wikipedia. “Very-long-baseline interferometry.” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Very-long-baseline_interferometry

 

 

Data: Antivaxxer Prevalence Correlates With Covid Incidence

CJ Trowbridge

USP 493 Data Analysis

2020-12-01

SPSS Final Project Outline

  1. Introduction – what hypothesis you will test and why you expect your independent variable or variables will affect your dependent variable
    • In the recent past, it was legal for California parents to refuse to vaccinate their children in on the basis of various superstitions. I hypothesize that there is a significant correlation between covid infection rates and the rates at which parents chose not to vaccinate their children before such decisions were banned. I am using counties as the unit of analysis to test this hypothesis.
  2. Brief description of the data you will use
    • There are several datasets that I will need to compile in order to test my hypothesis.
    • First, I need the covid case data by county. I am using the most recently published dataset from Johns Hopkins.
    • Second, I need the population for each county in order to calculate the percentage of the population that has become infected with covid. I am using the 2019 census population numbers.
    • Third, I need the kindergarten vaccination data from the year before the ban on exemptions happened. I got this from the California Department of Public Health Archives.
  3. Univariate statistics for each variable you will use in your hypothesis. Discussion of what these tables tell you.
    • The kindergarten vaccination data for each county is my independent variable.
    • To get my dependent variable, I divide the covid infections by the population for each county in order to get the case incidence numbers for each county.
    • Here’s what it all looks like put together;
  4. Hypothesis testing. What do the statistics tell you.
    • In order to visually compare the two values for each county, I first sorted the data by the independent variable’s value. I then created a combo line-chart with two y-axes plus an x axis. The x axis in this chart is the county name. The dependent variable is on the second y-axis. Initially, the graph was not so clear to look at in SPSS. I asked the professor how to sort the x-axis by the value of the left y-axis but apparently that feature does not exist in SPSS…
    • …So I moved to Excel.
    • But first I ran the descriptive statistics in SPSS to find the minimum and maximum values for each variable in order to scale the axes so that the lines would be comparable as you see in the graph below.
    • I then added trend lines to both y axes to simplify the visual representation of the data.
    • Lastly, I ran a two-tailed Pearson Correlation at a .01 significance in SPSS to determine whether there is a significant correlation between the dependent and independent variables. The result was significant.
  5. Conclusion: Was your hypothesis supported? Implications of what you have found.
    • The hypothesis is accepted. There is a significant correlation between Kindergarten vaccination rates and covid infection rates by county. As far as the possible implications, I will rely on this quote from Isaac Asimov, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

My Data Files

XXI

“Drunk one night, Sarah had told me Women are the race… No two ways about it. Male is just a mutation with more muscle and half the nerves. Fighting, fucking machines… To be a woman was a sensory experience beyond the male. Touch and texture ran deeper, an interface with environment that male flesh seemed to seal out instinctively. To a man, skin was a barrier, a protection. To a woman, it was an organ of contact. That had its disadvantages. In general, and maybe because of this, female pain thresholds ran higher than male…”
― From Altered Carbon

I think it was always inevitable. Maybe they knew that and it’s what caused them to treat women the way they did. Arthur C Clarke wrote in Childhood’s End about the collective unconscious of humanity fearing things associated with its future transition to the next level of existence. Scholars and mystics have speculated that perhaps a similar group premonition fueled some part of the misogyny of the past.

Genetic males have an X and a Y chromosome. Genetic females have two X chromosomes with no Y chromosome. Since women have no Y chromosome, all the children born to X/X couples were female. By the early twenty-first century, it was possible for women’s skin cells to be used to fertilize other women’s egg cells. Through a similar process, it also became trivially easy for women to choose between the sperm provided by male partners and select one with an X chromosome rather than a Y chromosome. In the popular lexicon, these practices were called XXI or X-chromosome/X-chromosome impregnation. Women now had a simple tool which spelled the end of men. That was the first point at which the patriarchy saw it was on life support and knew its days were numbered.

Within a century, these practices became widespread. Women had suffered for millenia under patriarchy, and the idea of simply choosing not to create any more men became a core tenet of fourth-wave feminism. By 2045, XXI clinics outnumbered abortion clinics. As a result, the female population quickly grew and spread as people around the world embraced XXI. Within a generation, men were a shrinking minority of the population.

You’d think that facing their own extinction, men would take a conciliatory tone and try to ameliorate the historical impacts of their actions in order to earn the forgiveness of women. While it’s true that some men wanted to make peace, those few still holding the reins of the world did not; unending war for power and control was all they knew. They doubled down. Despite the fact that the biosphere was well into its collapse, they focused on legislating male supremacy. The last days of the patriarchy were the worst. Food and water supplies around the world were collapsing, more than half of the species had gone extinct, but the laws the patriarchs passed were concerned with banning XXI and enshrining male supremacy at every level of the legal system. Abortion was also banned as “an attack on men’s rights.” Feminism was effectively outlawed throughout most of the developed world. Ironically, it was because of strong international borders under patriarchy that many developing countries became fertility destinations where women could travel to undergo XXI.

It was around this time that a small group of white male libertarian entrepreneurs announced they were pouring billions into developing what they called XYI. They promised a life without women, where men could be born from machines without the need for mothers. Importantly, they also called for widespread violence against women including attacks on any XXI clinics and death to any XXI doctors. As a direct response to this threat, Magdalena Thunberg, grand-daughter of Greta Thunberg emerged as the leader of what she called the Feminist Liberation Front. She made public statements online explaining that while XXI was not an attack on men, XYI was an attack on women. She declared war on the establishment and swore to end the threat once and for all.

The Feminist Liberation Front conducted a series of bombings targeting XYI research and development facilities. The FLF also conducted a series of targeted assassinations of the white male libertarian leaders patterned after the successful strategy of the Irish Republican Army’s from the previous century. The unrest spread around the world and resulted in widespread chaos wherever the patriarchy still held power.

Women had worked for generations to slowly take over all major governments around the world.  There was a tipping point at the end of the twenty-first century with the rise of the FLF. The patriarchy could no longer hold onto the reins of power. Once a critical mass of women had taken those reins, they began to undo the harms of the patriarchy. But instead of working to exterminate men like the men had done to them, the women struck the missing conciliatory tone.

The first One-World Congress took place in 2075. In the keynote speech on the first day of the conference, Magdalena The Liberator, grand-daughter of Greta Thunberg, called for the end of international borders and the full devotion of all of humanity’s resources to the cause of finally halting the collapse of the biosphere, feeding and sheltering everyone, and restoring the natural world to whatever degree was still possible. She also called for ongoing compassion towards the now miniscule male population. “We must,” she argued, “strive to avoid the empire that the patriarchy sought. Instead, we must blaze a new path towards an alternative system for humanity which values all individuals. We must build a system which works to support the needs of all individuals and which empowers everyone to thrive. The era of the god-king is over, the age of the first universal human republic must begin.”

The conference adopted all of Magdalena’s recommendations, and that was the beginning of the Earth Republic. All the old nations became states. Many of the state borders were redrawn to reflect the way people actually organized, erasing the Kissinger doctrine of using national borders to deliberately create conflict and destabilize peaceful neighbors.

Over time, the remaining male population learned to accept its place as part of the whole rather than seeking to be master of the whole. In her last interview, Magdalena the Liberator said, “I really don’t think it could have happened any other way. Hegemonic totalitarianism has never voluntarily given up power. The patriarchy needed to be usurped without acceding to its methods. A hundred years ago, people argued that Hillary Clinton would be the end of the patriarchy if she became president, but she would merely have been an extension of it. You can’t make an unjust system just by putting a marginalized person in charge of it. You must change the system fundamentally. It needed to be dismantled without using its own methods, and that’s what we did. ”

“Then do you regret using violence during the FLF campaigns,” the reporter asked.

“No,” Magdalena replied, “Self-defense is not patriarchy. Patriarchy is demanding power and control over others because your male gender is superior. That’s not what we did, we defended the right of women to exist, not to rule over men as queens in place of kings. We worked together to change the fundamentals of our world and that’s the only way we could have survived as a species. The human project became a collective effort rather than a hierarchical struggle for power and resources. And it happened just in time, because…”

Misogynoir and Reproductive Conversations

Prompt: Why are we so afraid of reproductive technologies?” Who is “we?”

Intro

Systems of oppression exist on three levels. First, the pervasive and ubiquitous sociocultural level which encompasses all the ideas (or discourses) in our society’s collective culture. Second, the institutional level, where people enact the sociocultural discourses as policy in order to make the institutions act in a way which reflects the sociocultural discourses. Third is the personal level, where individuals apply sociocultural discourses both internally and externally in interpersonal relationships.

Systemic racism is a pattern which exists on all three levels. This pattern of systemic racism is made up of the aggregate action of small interpersonal racist microaggressions. These acts reinforce the larger system and do its work.

Systemic sexism is also a pattern which exists on all three levels. This pattern of systemic sexism is made up of the aggregate action of small interpersonal sexist microaggressions. These acts reinforce the larger system and do its work.

All systems of oppression are different but they all work in the same way.

In her book Down Girl, Kate Manne explains that microaggressions are what she calls “down-moves.” Or a move intended to confer that its target is not a subject, a person with agency, but rather an object without agency. Microaggressions are fundamentally acts which serve to “other” and dehumanize people on the basis of their marginalized identities.

I created this graph to illustrate the flow of actions from discourse to impact through the system…

Since systemic racism and systemic sexism are normalized in a pervasive sociocultural way, they are everywhere and they inform everything that happens in our society.

As you can see, the discourses of oppression flow down from the sociocultural level through institutions to individuals. Then individuals internalize and act on those discourses. The actions aggregate to form systems of oppression which constitutes a cycle. This cycle is called the cycle of socialization. Here is a flowchart showing the same process from the perspective of the flow of discourses and actions rather than the structure of the system.

In her book Sister Outsider and specifically the essay There Is No Hierarchy of Oppression, Audre Lorde expands on this idea to explain that while it’s not possible to rank women or black people in terms of who has more or less oppression, we do know that black women have significantly more oppression than black people or women do separately, or even added together. Marginalized identities do not add together when they overlap, but rather they multiply. This idea of the amplification of overlapping marginalized identities is called Intersectionality.

Part 1

It is therefore helpful to answer the prompt’s question with regard to a specific intersectional dynamic and its expression within the context of the cycle of socialization.

In her essay, Explanation Of Misogynoir, Trudy explains how racism and anti-Blackness alter the experience of misogyny for Black women, specifically. In another essay, she goes into some depth on the specific issue of reproductive rights for black women.

Indeed, we see that discussions of reproductive rights are essentially all simply arguments for racism and misogyny masquerading as a discussion about reproductive rights. In her essay Racism, Birth Control, and Reproductive Rights, Angela Davis gives a litany of examples and further deconstructs the background which has led to the use of reproductive rights as a mask for racism and misogyny. The fundamental argument against reproductive rights always being that women — particularly black women — should be robbed of the agency to make their own decisions on the basis that they are not as qualified to make those decisions as white men are qualified to make those decisions for them.

In one sentence, we see how the entire discussion of reproductive rights boils down to a simultaneous down-move against women and black people, but especially against black women.

Anecdotally, I have discussed with colleagues a relevant and recent social phenomena which illustrates the point from another perspective. In social media vanguardism, people like me create content which is intended to arm people with discourses and ideas to critically analyze many of the situations we face together in our culture today. Historically, these types of content are often met with some subset of replies being terse down-moves such as “faggot,” “there are only two genders,” “show us your tits,” etc. During the Trump presidency, we saw a sudden disappearance of those overt replies. They were replaced instead with comments like “Trump 2020,” “blue lives matter,” or “all lives matter.” I submit that in this context, these symbols are a mask to cover up the real intention of the people who use them. And now that Trump has lost the election, this mask has disappeared, and we see a move back to more overt down-moves intended to dehumanize and objectify directly rather than indirectly.

The idea of a public debate about whether or not black women should have agency over their own bodies is necessarily, fundamentally, always racist and misogynistic. It is not possible to ask the question without the implication that it might be true. The agency of humans is not something that can be ethically debated. Consider functionally identical questions like “Are there too many Jews?” or “Is the third world overpopulated?” These questions take the same approach of inviting the reader to question whether some kinds of people really are people, or whether they are objects to be manipulated without agency or ethical concern.

In the article, Why Are We So Afraid of Each New Advance in Reproductive Technology?, author Sarah Richards explains a medical experiment done on Chinese children to introduce a Norwegian mutation called CCR5-Delta32. (I have this mutation as a Norwegian-American.) This mutation confers some HIV immunity onto people who have it. It actually only protects against one of several forms of HIV so it’s not a cure-all and people who have it are only at lower risk of HIV, not completely immune to HIV. The problem is that the scientists did not properly inform the patients of the risks they were undertaking. The scientists robbed Chinese children of agency and treated them as lab rats for a dangerous experiment without informing the families of the risks.

 

Part 2

To address the second part of the prompt, in this case, the “We” is anyone within the sociocultural landscape. That means everyone. We all engage with discourses perpetrated by a fundamentally racist and sexist system.

Audre Lorde in her book Sister Outsider said that trying to survive as a black woman in America is like trying to survive in the mouth of a racist, sexist, suicidal dragon.

The cycle of socialization feeds itself and gets stronger all the time. But there is a solution. That solution is two-fold. First, we need to learn about people experiencing marginalization. We need to read their writings. We need to understand how it’s happening. We need to listen to their demands for change. We need to learn about the theories their ideas are based on. We need to explore Critical Theory in order to interrogate power structures like systemic racism and systemic sexism. We need to learn about Black Epistemic systems, Feminist Epistemic systems, and other marginalized epistemologies in order to articulate and defend the ethical and philosophical solutions which the leaders of marginalized communities are asking for.

Second, we need to develop actions based on an understanding of theory which create change in the world. This process is called praxis. One excellent illustration of this process comes from Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, the same source as the cycle of socialization shown above…

Learning to critically analyze the discourses we are socialized to, within the context of an understanding of the ethical and philosophical perspectives of marginalized communities allows us to question those discourses rather than running them on autopilot like we always have. Only then can we take steps to challenge the discourses to which our culture is socialized.

The reason our culture is so afraid of reproductive technologies is that our racist, sexist culture is socialized to treat black women as objects rather than people, stealing their agency and giving it instead to white men who are then empowered to rule over them and make decisions for them. Only by learning about the hidden premises and interrogating the power structures which underpin these issues can we break the cycle of socialization and make progress in ameliorating the intolerable conditions facing black people and women in our culture.

 

My Covid Stack

I have for years taken several supplements daily. I recently made some changes based on evidence that these tweaks could support a robust covid response and even reduce the risk of infection.

My Old Stack

Truvada For PrEP

Prescription Only

I take Truvada for PrEP. This means that with one pill a day, I am effectively completely immune to HIV infection. As a gay, it’s a no-brainer.

There is published research showing a connection between PrEP and a lower covid risk, though all the biochemists I have talked to are extremely confident that this correlation is spurious. There is also research to support that claim as well. So who knows if it helps with covid but I’m going to keep taking it for the gay reasons.

Symbicort + Singulair

Prescription Only

I have severe asthma. Taking corticosteroids every day is a must, or else I will have asthma attacks. In recent years, I had it under control and mostly avoided the need for steroids but the stress of the apocalypses has pushed me back into the danger zone. I suddenly found myself with all the asthma symptoms plus crazy eczema symptoms even though I was taking daily steroids and Zyrtec. Thus, the doctor recommended I switch from Flovent for maintenance to a combination therapy of Symbicort plus Singulair.

Symbicort contains an inhaled corticosteroid just like Flovent, but it also contains a long-acting beta agonist. Together, these are more effective at controlling asthma symptoms than the corticosteroids alone. It also means you can be on a lower dose of steroids while still controlling the symptoms but having a stronger effect. This is a great move from the Flovent. The doctor did say that because the Symbicort steroid dose is lower, I could actually keep taking the Flovent on top of it, but that seems like a lot of work and I’d rather just have one thing to worry about so I’m stopping the Flovent.

Together with Symbicort, I am also taking Singulair. This is a leukotriene inhibitor which means it blocks one of the common types of inflammation associated with autoimmune disorders like asthma and eczema.

Singulair in my case is prescribed to boost the symbicort, but Singulair also boosts the effectiveness of Zyrtec so that is a plus. Taking these three together should really help my asthma and eczema symptoms during the apocalypses.

As a bonus, there is evidence that people on this therapy also have additional protection against covid so that’s nice.

Zyrtec

$0.05/day on Amazon

I have experimented with many options for allergy medicines. This is important as someone with asthma because allergies can trigger asthma and make it worse. At some point, a doctor I spoke to recommended Zyrtec because it has some of the strongest evidence for a broad anti-allergy effect of any of the commonly available over the counter allergy drugs. I tried it and I’ve never gone back!

Psyllium Fiber Supplement

$0.03/day on Amazon

Most people don’t get enough fiber in their diets. This is even worse with stress. Adding a fiber supplement is an easy way to keep your body working through the stress and the coping mechanisms like comfort-foods and binge drinking.

The Pandemic Additions

Vitamin D

$0.04/day on Amazon

Vitamin D has been repeatedly identified as one of the strongest correlated factors to both a strong covid defense and a strong defense against infection.

One study found that homeless people are actually at much lower risk both of infection and of the most severe infection specifically because they spend so much time in the sun and therefore have a much higher than normal level of Vitamin D.

There are two symptom patterns for covid. You can have severe symptoms or you can have mild symptoms. Studies have shown a strong correlation between the amount of Vitamin D in your system and which pattern you will have.

Another study found that treating patients in the ICU with Vitamin D led to less severe symptoms and better outcomes.

Yet another study found that 80% of those covid patients who had to be hospitalized had Vitamin D deficiencies.

Zinc

$0.20/day on Amazon

Caveat: Zinc has toxicity at doses above 150mg/day. These pills are only for 50mg, but still I’ll only be taking them once per week. The benefits are more significant if you take it daily when you’re actually sick, but there is evidence to suggest that it is helpful to avoid a deficiency by taking a small occasional dose just to be safe.

There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that Zinc supplements can prevent covid infection, inhibit viral replication in the body, and strengthen the immune response to covid as well as other respiratory disorders. Zinc is a strong general immune booster, but again it can be dangerous if you’re taking it all the time. You should only take it daily if you’re actually sick.

These results have been replicated many times. Here is a list of the recent studies with summaries of them.

Vitamin C

$0.04/day on Amazon

There is also evidence that Vitamin C can be helpful for covid though studies are ongoing, and there is far less evidence than that for Vitamin D.

There is a great deal of evidence that Vitamin C can be used to treat and prevent other coronaviruses such as the common cold.

It is a widely held belief that Vitamin C is a general-purpose immune booster, and it does seem that in some cases it really is helpful, and it’s certainly an essential nutrient which people must be sure to get.

Bottom line with Vitamin C as well as with Zinc, there is potentially a huge benefit and really no downside.

 

Data: Which Party Creates More Jobs?

This was an interesting project. I compiled the monthly job creation data from the Fed for every month on record and broken it out by who was president at the time and what party they were in.

Hypothesis

Let’s start with what I was expecting to find. I hypothesized a slight Democratic lead with maybe a few percent more versus Republicans.

Results

Well the hypothesis was correct for the monthly averages. For the last 981 months since 1939, Democratic presidents have seen an average of 55% of all monthly job growth. Republicans have seen an average of 45%.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, compound interest is the most powerful force known to man.

When you compound a small but consistent advantage over nearly a thousand months, it becomes a huge advantage over time. It turns out that 72% of all jobs created in the United States since 1939 were during Democratic administrations. Just 28% of jobs were created under Republican administrations.

Here is the raw data visualized by party;

Now I know what you’re thinking, it’s not fair to include the unparalleled scope of Donald Trump’s failure. Well actually, if we leave Trump out of the total, it barely changes. Ignoring Trump, Democrats are still responsible for 69% of all jobs created throughout the last 981 months isnce 1939.

Here is the same graph again, with Trump omitted;

As you can see, even without Trump, the blue lines are generally higher than the red lines. This is confirmed by the dotted trendlines over time, showing a significantly higher trend for the Democrats over the Republicans, even without the outlier of how bad Trump’s presidency was.

Conclusion

Conducting a two-tailed t test for difference of proportions, we find that there is a significant difference between these groups, which seems obvious based on the data. (The value of z is 12.0579. The value of p is < .00001. The result is significant at p < .05.)

Final Word

The data speaks for itself. I wasn’t expecting to find such a stark difference. I will certainly start citing these results in many essays moving forwards!

You can download the data and calculations here. Please take a look and send me your feedback. I’d love to hear from anyone who can poke holes in the analysis or explain how we have managed to ignore such a significant difference for the last century.

Now that the Earth is turning into Tatooine, how practical is moisture farming?

I wanted to work out a simple proof of concept and cost analysis for how to actually extract a meaningful amount of moisture from the air. This estimate includes the best prices I could find for each component of a reliable system which will continue to work for a period of ten years without maintenance or upgrades. It is sized for one-person. If you need to make enough water for more people, it would be more expensive and technically complex.

Let’s start with the actual moisture removal process and then talk about powering it…

Ok so this is a $43 dehumidifier which extracts 400ml per day of water from the air. This is the best price I could find.

An average person needs about a gallon of water per day minimum to survive. A gallon is 3784ml which means one person needs ten of these running nonstop to provide a constant supply of enough water for them to survive. The total cost of ten of them comes out to  $430 for the dehumidifiers.

Now let’s power our moisture farm…

This dehumidifier needs 5 amps of power at 12 volts. This comes out to 60 watts per hour. That’s 1,440 watts per day per dehumidifier. Since we will need ten of them, that’s 14,400 watts per day total. This is a lot of power.

Dividing that by the rule of thumb for five hours of average 100% sunlight per day, you get a solar panel size needed of 2,880 watts. 29 100 watt solar panels will provide that. At $82/each, that comes out to a total cost of $2,378 for the panels.

Victron

Now you need an inverter to charge the batteries from the solar panels. Victron seels a very reputable one which works perfectly for this set of specifications. It costs $1,285.

The last thing we need is the batteries. We will need to store enough power each day from the solar panels to run the humidifiers until the next day. Realistically, we would need more than that because sometimes it will be cloudy so this is a very conservative estimate.

Battle Born Battery

This is a very reputable standard current generation battery which gets thousands of charge cycles so it will last many years. It is rated at 12v and 100ah or 1,200 watts. Dividing our 14,400 daily needs by 1,200 we see that we will need 12 of these batteries. At $949/ea, that comes out to a total price of $11,388 for the batteries.

Parts List & Total Cost

TOTAL COST JUST $15,481!

(Price per person)

Data: Air Quality and Cooking

I was curious what cooking does to air quality and nuclear radiation. We know that cooking meats releases naturally occurring radioactive materials just like wildfires do.

For the curious, I was cooking bulgogi. As you can see, at 1:30 when I started cooking, there was a huge spike in the indoor air pollution in my home. In fact this level of indoor air pollution does qualify as “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” under the international standard.

Bulgogi

 

Now let’s look at the nuclear radiation aspect of cooking. This is less cut and dry…

My sensors measure only beta and gamma decay, not alpha. These kinds of radiation have only moderate penetrating power, and so we would expect to see a lower level indoors with less change over time. The higher outdoor level comes from both solar radiation and the norms radiated by the wildfires. This data is the hourly average for Geiger cpm readings taken every minute.

As you can see, despite a decrease in the ambient radiation levels measured outside, there was a slight increase in indoor radiation levels.

It *HAS* to be you.

Sorry this will be long and I’m asking something unreasonable of you.
 
First, there was a dude named Alinsky who wrote a book called “Rules for Radicals.” I’m happy to share a copy of the audiobook. It was a simple set of rules for how to build communities. It spawned the field we now know as “Community Organizing.” Hillary Clinton wrote her thesis about this book. Barack Obama based his career on this book. I think in both cases, their core mistake was being first a neoliberal and therefore never truly examining their core assumptions before addressing the rules Alinsky developed. (The definition of radicalism is examining the root causes and neoliberals by definition are not able to do that.)
 
Two, Alisnky’s rules, and what I’m about to say are sort of dangerous. They would be equally valuable to a nazi versus a progressive (Though Alinsky was a Jew so nazis seem unlikely to embrace him). In either case the rules show you how to build an extremely focused and powerful group capable of doing whatever you want. I used these rules to build a powerful antifascist organization in the Sierras last year which successfully dismantled multiple neo-nazi cells and did a lot more than that to be extremely aggressive in demanding progress from the institutions in place.
 
Third, I recently took a class called “Black Online – Cyberspace, Culture, and Community” as part of my Racial Resistance degree. For the final project, I created a simple manifesto which was a synthesis of Alinskyan Tactics and social-media-based anti-racism.
 
Fourth, the main argument I made is that when you say some really wild anti-racist shit or some really wild hard-marxist shit like “let’s start exterminating landlords,” people will react. The most important thing you can do is pay attention to who LOVES it (not likes it, LOVES it) and who gets MAD. Feel free to be vicious to the ones who get mad, chase them away, this will give you more opportunities to see who stans you. Alinsky is drooling in his grave watching you. Those who love what you’re doing are your stans. Stans are the foundation of the machine you *could* build to do the thing you’re talking about.
 
The conclusion of my manifesto was that it *has* to be you. It can only be you. Whoever you are, whatever you’re talking about; it has to be you. If you believe in what you’re doing then do it; make it your cause. Kant said we can only consider the merit of our actions in terms of what the world would be like if everyone did what we are doing. If everyone shied away from the challenge of progress then nothing would ever change and nothing would ever get done. You don’t have to change the world but when someone deletes you; that should be the best feeling. Everything about who you are is a choice. You can choose to compromise your truth for those people that disagree with it, or you can choose to live honestly and let your surroundings reflect your truth. If you are right, then living honestly will make the world a better place.

Housing Everyone

Housing is a problem everywhere, but nowhere is it as bad as it is in San Francisco. I had an idea a few years ago which inspired me to go back to school and study this issue in depth in order to deploy this potential solution. This is why I chose to move to the city where this problem is worst in order to study this problem and this potential solution.

As a student at SFSU majoring in Urban Studies with minors in Racial Resistance and Queer Ethnic Studies, I learned from leaders in both the non-profit and for-profit housing development sectors as well as the the financial side of the issue, the public policy stream, and the advocacy stream. Together these forces try to improve conditions and ameliorate the housing crisis, with limited success.

Lots of housing is being built; luxury condos. This displaces the people who already lived in the neighborhood and drives cost of living up. Combined with busing rich people into this new neighborhood, this can mean the theft of entire communities by wealthy people who pave over the existing culture and erase generations of history. This forces marginalized people into denser living situations and further depresses the remaining affordable neighborhoods. We call this social problem gentrification.

Gentrification is different from development. Gentrification is development which displaces marginalized people from existing communities and replaces them with privileged people. Development can sometimes be good, but gentrification is always bad.

“Affordable” vs “affordable”

It’s not possible to build affordable housing that is a good investment. Therefore there are two ways that affordable housing may exist.

There are several different ways the word affordable works with regard to housing. What does it mean for housing to be affordable? It means that the monthly price of the unit is less than 30% of the median income in the same community. Let’s say the median income is $1,000/month. An affordable unit of housing would have to cost less than $300/month.

The problem with the standard definition of affordable housing should be obvious. Even if there is “affordable” housing available, it’s only affordable for the top-half of the income percentiles.

Now let’s talk about the two types of affordable housing.

Capital-A affordable generally means housing that is subsidized by government programs. If I am living in the example community I just gave, and I’m only earning $500/month, then a unit that’s affordable for me would be $150/month. Therefore government programs will pay the difference. If I find a unit that costs $2200/month then the government will pay the remaining $2,050 each month so I can afford the unit. I hope this looks like a ridiculous solution to this problem, because it is.

Little-A affordable means housing whose price is already affordable. Typically this is going to be in depressed communities with a history of redlining and systemic racism. The effect of these low prices is that rich people will take these units and drive the prices in the community up. Thus eliminating any affordable units through gentrification.

The solution seems obvious to me. We need a lot more units, and we need them everywhere.

Why is this still a problem?

As I see it, there are two major fundamental problems — especially in San Francisco — which contribute to gentrification. Officially, we have fines for luxury condo developers who neglect to include affordable units in new construction. These fines are typically about 10% of the cost of building those affordable units. Therefore, almost no one builds affordable units. When they do, residents are often excluded from the building’s amenities and given a separate “poor door” around the corner which accesses the affordable units.

In other cities like Portland, developers of large projects can be required to provide identical units to residents with rents based on their income rather than market prices. This means developers do not have the opportunity to pay tiny fines and skip the affordable units; all the units must be affordable based on the income of the residents.

The second major fundamental problem is the cost per unit to construct affordable housing. Like most cities, the developer industry in San Francisco is an oligopoly with a small number of firms controlling the market and openly colluding to artificially inflate prices and prevent competition. This means the cost per unit to construct affordable housing is now up to a million dollars. This makes those tiny in lieu fees look very attractive to developers who have no rational reason to build affordable units which can never break even.

What would be better?

Everyone deserves dignity and housing. Currently, cities in California are required to investigate the progress they’re making in addressing the unmet need for housing. Unfortunately there is no requirement that they actually do anything about the problem or that they actually meet their housing needs. Consequently, some cities are officially projecting they will meet their current needs in about eight-hundred years.

Solving social problems is hard. It takes a lot of work from a lot of angles, and it takes proposed solutions. I am planning to approach this problem from three angles.

First, we need to build an activist organization devoted to building as much housing as possible.

Second, we need new solutions to dramatically reduce the cost of building housing.

Third, we need powerful and ethically-constrained corporate interests fighting both the market and the political system to accomplish the goal of housing everyone.

What would it look like?

I propose a radical shift to a completely different strategy from what has been tried before. There are several firms attempting to develop modular construction techniques. None of them sells a single unit which is ready to live in. They often sell sections of framing which still need siding, plumbing, and electrical installed.

I propose to manufacture complete units ready to live in.

By building these units inside shipping containers, they can then be dropped in place and even stacked ten stories high. This is what they are designed for; on ships crossing the high seas.

These units would have a front-door and a rear balcony or porch. Simple plumbing and electrical connections allow easy installation of a single unit in a back yard or in a drop-in mid-rise residential tower.

Imagine if Tesla or Solar City were selling apartments instead of cars. You call or go online and make an order, then a team comes to install it. Everything from financing to electrical and plumbing is built in to the process. You have a single point of contact and everything is taken care of.

This allows us to take advantage of dramatic recent progress in ADU deregulation.  This policy change allows us to pit NIMBY against NIMBY; every back yard becomes a rental unit which helps bring the prices down.

Another huge opportunity is disaster response. A single cargo ship can hold ten thousand shipping containers. Imagine sending ten thousand homes to the site of a disaster. From ships to trains to trucks, the infrastructure is already in place to cheaply ship these units anywhere in the world.

Lastly, I advocate for a nonprofit community-owned model. Rather than having everyone owning units separately, have the residents own the entire development together. The project could be structured as a land trust or other similar permanent entity, giving full power and control over the building to those who actually live there. This would integrate with a set of responsibilities the residents adopt under a consensus model of resident stewardship.

Endless Options

Part of what’s so exciting about this idea is the fact that there are several different options. The various shapes and sizes of these containers are designed to lock together into large structures. This means we can easily build an extremely strong tower containing lots of different sizes and types of units. These towers are designed to tilt back and forth to extreme angles on a constant basis on cargo ships. This means these structures will be extremely resistant to earth quakes and other environmental problems associated with the ongoing collapse of the biosphere.

We can cheaply build affordable units, and we can also cheaply build luxury units. Combining these in interesting ways lets us create integrated communities consistent with the design principles of new urbanism.

Perhaps most significant is the opportunity to integrate self-contained, closed-loop, off-grid systems. We can easily make these units solar powered. We can easily make these units filter their own drinking water from wells or creeks and integrate septic systems to cleanly and safely dispose of the waste. Creating this integrated housing solution with an eye on permaculture and designing for closed-loop systems-thinking means anyone can live anywhere and get their needs met whether they’re in a desert or a rainforest.

Philanthropic Arm

Equally important to the idea of manufacturing these units is the idea of having a nonprofit arm which builds lots of affordable housing units and then manages them. This will allow us to have a widespread impact on the housing crisis while also being our own biggest customer.

One of the most exciting parts of the business model is the idea of “housing credits.” I want to create a new tool for those who want to help solve the housing crisis. Most large companies buy carbon offsets which fund the offsetting of their carbon impact. I want to create housing credits which offset the effects of companies contributing to demographic shifts in communities where their employees displace existing residents.