Wednesday Reads: Purring Monkey, Spinning Atoms and Immigration SuitsPosted: October 30, 2013
I’ve got a mixed bag of goodies for you this morning. Let’s just get down to it shall we?
There is some news out of Alabama on the immigration front. Y’all remember those awful laws put on the books down in Sweet Home Alabama? Well, there has been a settlement between the state and the ACLU. Settlement ends suits over Ala immigration law
The state of Alabama agreed Tuesday to settle the remaining challenges over its toughest-in-the-nation crackdown against illegal immigration, which has mostly been gutted by federal court decisions.
The state and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a proposed settlement that would end a federal lawsuit over the law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2011, and the state separately filed documents to end a similar suit filed by the Justice Department. Federal courts later blocked main sections, including a one-of-a-kind provision that public schools must check students’ citizenship status.
ACLU lawyer Cecillia Wang said the Alabama agreement also means a so-called “show me your papers” provision that allowed police to ask for citizenship documents cannot lead to detentions, as many immigrants had feared.
“Overall this is really a significant win for immigrant families in Alabama and anyone who cares about the rights of immigrants,” said Wang, director of the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project.
The agreement permanently blocks sections of the law that were temporarily stopped by courts. The state also agreed to pay $350,000 in attorney fees and expenses for groups that sued to block the law.
The Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center, which was heavily involved in the legal challenges, said legislators should repeal the act now that the state has settled the lawsuits.
“We warned the Legislature when they were debating HB 56 that if they passed this draconian law, we would sue in court and win,” Kristi Graunke, an attorney with the organization, said in a statement. “That we have done.”
That about sums it all up. Guess we will have to wait and see what the state will do with all this talk of immigration reform, cough…cough.
I am just going to put this next link here because it is a very depressing read. It’s a review of a book: Got His Gun — Lost His Legs, Arms, Penis
Ann Jones’ new book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars — The Untold Story, is devastating, and almost incomprehensibly so when one considers that virtually all of the death and destruction in U.S. wars is on the other side. Statistically, what happens to U.S. troops is almost nothing. In human terms, it’s overwhelming.
Okay, now on to a bit more “positive” news, via John Oliver: Australia Is An Example Of Effective Gun Control. America Is An Example Of Ignoring Australia.
The similarities between Australia and America are pretty striking. The enormous difference, however, is the distinct lack of pro-gun special-interest power in the Australian government. If that blows your mind, check this out: Australian gun control was enacted by conservative politicians against the will of their conservative constituency. If Australian politicians can overlook a powerful minority to pass something that a nationwide majority approves of, why can’t our own suits and ties do it too?
Moving on rather quickly, next up: two articles on spinning and weaving, but not the way you may think. These have nothing to do with fiber:
After more than 40 years of intense research, experimental physicists still seek to explore the rich behaviour of electrons confined to a two-dimensional crystalline structure exposed to large magnetic fields. Now a team of scientists working with Prof. Immanuel Bloch (Chair for Experimental Physics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich and Director at MPQ) in collaboration with the theoretical physicist Dr. Belén Paredes (CSIC/UAM Madrid) developed a new experimental method to simulate these systems using a crystal made of neutral atoms and laser light. In such artificial quantum matter, the atoms could be exposed to a uniform effective magnetic field several thousand times stronger than in typical condensed matter systems.
Charged particles in a magnetic field experience a force perpendicular to their direction of motion — the Lorentz force -, which makes them move on circular (cyclotron) orbits in a plane perpendicular to the magnetic field. A sufficiently strong magnetic field can thereby dramatically change the properties of a material, giving rise to novel quantum phenomena such as the Quantum Hall effect. The cyclotron orbits shrink with increasing magnetic field. For typical field strengths, their size is much larger than the distance between neighbouring ions in the material, and the role of the crystal is negligible. However, for extremely large magnetic fields the two length scales become comparable and the interplay between the magnetic field and the crystal potential leads to striking new effects. These are manifested for instance in a fractal structure of the energy spectrum, which was first predicted by Douglas Hofstadter in 1976 and is known as the Hofstadter’s butterfly. Many intriguing electronic material properties are related to it, but so far experiments could not explore the full complexity of the problem.
Way over the top for my brain, especially now that I am so stuffed up and sick.
Now for the weaving article, but this is something more wicked and with a twist for Halloween: Looming Danger and Dangerous Looms: Violence and Weaving in Exeter Book Riddle 56
The Loom Riddle: I was inside there where I saw a wooden object wounding a certain struggling creature, the wood turning; it received battle-wounds, deep gashes. Darts were woeful to that creature, and the wood skillfully bound fast. One of its feet was held fixed, the other endured affliction, leapt into the air, sometimes near the land. A tree, hung about by leaves, was near tot that bright thing [which] stood there, I saw the leavings of those arrows, carried out onto the floor to my lord, where the warriors drank.
Violence in the Exeter Book riddles is not a new topic. Many discussions of these fascinating texts focus on the way in which commonplace objects are personified and then attacked, bound, mutilated and/or killed. This violence, which is both carried out by humans and at the same time frequently punctuated by expressions of human empathy for the wounded objects, has been explained as acceptable because it occurs in the safe, playful and inverted world of the riddle.
It may not be a riddle that involves a giraffe, but you can go and read more of the abstract at the link, and get further information from Megan Cavell’s website.
Oh, this post is turning into more of a link dump than I thought it would. So I’ve got one more spooky story for you: Haunted Churches Will Give You The Shivers
Halloween comes just before Dia De Los Muertos, All Saints and All Soul’s Day, which are times to remember and honor the souls of those who have passed before us.
However, some churches claim that the spirits of the dead are still hanging around their hallways and graveyards. Mysterious lights, muffled voices, and weird apparitions are just some of the many unexplained phenomena that persist around these places.
From the ghost of a long-dead sea captain in Florida to the phantom of a governess that perished in a house fire, these churches swear that they are haunted by spirits that refuse to leave. Look through them, if you dare..
Dare…dare….(Well, for a little heathen like me, any church is bound to give me the shivers. 😉 )
Thanks to an intrepid team of scientists and the WWF, we know just a little bit more about our amazing planet. During a four-year expedition to the previously unexplored interior of the Amazon Rainforest, the team discovered 441 new species of life – including a purring monkey!
In total, the group discovered 258 new plants, 84 new fish, 58 new amphibians, 22 new reptiles, 18 new birds, and one new mammal – not to mention the innumerable new bugs they came across (in an unpleasant way, I’m sure).
The awesome new finds include a flame-patterned lizard, a frog the size of your thumbnail, a 9-pound vegetarian piranha, a snake they named after a character from The Lost World, a pink orchid – and, of course, the Callicebus caquentensis monkey, which purrs when contented.
That is wonderful…and surely it gives us reasons to protect this world we live in, we have to save the purring monkeys.
Well what are you reading and thinking about today? Go ahead and share with us down in the comments and have a happy Halloween eve.