Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Free Trade Liberals

Its time for free trade liberals to be honest with themselves and admit that at the most fundamental level they abhor the nation state, which is ultimately why so many are enthusiastic about such trans national behemoths as the EU. For you see Nation States are impediments to the single market. They create barriers to prevent the free flow of goods and labour (the cheap kind especially) thereby producing complexities that stifle the uniformity that the ease of production ideal craves. In short, the nation state in the liberal view is an anachronistic nuisance that has survived from an earlier era but in the world of bloc trade ought to be relegated to the dust heap of history. Once it disappears then the market can truly dominate. The market of course being the very essence of liberalism.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Some more cool moments in Physics

James Clerk Maxwell unifies the world of the electricity and magnetism on a theoretical level and shows how the speed of light in a vacuum is a function of two key constants that govern each of the electric and magnetic fields. Maxwell’s work gives rise to the notion of electromagnetic waves two types of which will be identified by Heinrich Hertz (Radio Waves) and Wilhelm Roentgen (X Rays)

Max Planck solves the Blackbody Radiation Problem by arguing that energy is produced in discrete packets called quanta and that the Energy of each quanta is directly proportional to the frequency of oscillation of the quanta. Planck’s model answers the challenge of the UV catastrophe which classical physics had failed to adequately address. I developing his concept of the quanta Planck borrows heavily from the work of Ludwig Boltzmann, the father of statistical mechanics.Planck, himself is regarded as the Father of Quantum Mechanics (and indeed Modern Physics)

JJ Thompson determines the ratio of the mass of the electron to its charge. Robert Millikan will follow on later with a determination of the charge of the electron (through his oil droplet experiment) allowing for the eventual determination of the mass of the electron. Quantum nature of charge will play an important role in future developments in Modern Physics.

Henri Becquerel documents the realities of radioactive decay. Work will continue thanks to the research by Pierre and Marie Curie

Michelson and Morley Experiment shows that the Aether wind (thought to be the background of space) does not exist.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Muhammad Ali

News outlets are falling over each other in praise of Muhammad Ali. While there is no doubt that he was a tremendous athlete and iconic figure whose story translates itself well into the 60's narrative I have always found the superlative Great as used with the man to be somewhat misapplied.

For one he was not a great human being. Look no further to his treatment of arch-rival Joe Frazier before their third fight in Manila (the notorious thriller). His use of the ‘gorilla’ term to taunt his opponent on looks alone was classless at best as was his use of racist language to imply that Frazier (who was Black) was the White Man’s Champion but was essentially an Uncle Tom when juxtaposed against Ali himself.

Not only were these slurs cruel and unnecessary (and bothered Frazier for the rest of his life) they were especially vile as it was Frazier who gave Ali financial support during his ban from boxing and it was Frazier himself who lobbied hard to have Ali reinstated as a fighter.

Ali was arrogant, continually mocked ‘whitey’ but was never to high above the moral quandary to reject the money that came his way from a largely Caucasian audience. In fact it was white journalist such as Howard Cosell who played a huge role in creating the legend that was Ali as was his legendary trainer Angelo Dundee.

That he was a skilled fighter is a given but his record doesn’t standard head or shoulders above some of the other heavyweights of renowned fame. In fact one could argue that it was less impressive than some of the sport’s leading lights. He did not retire undefeated like Rocky Marciano (39-0) or have the knockout record of Foreman (76 wins 68 by knockout compared to Ali’s 56 wins 37 by knockout), nor did he come close to holding on to the title as long as Joe Louis who carried the belt for 12 years (that included 25 an unbelievable defenses).

He did win the Heavyweight title three times but that was largely a consequence of circumstance (the Don King Rumble Initiative and Leon Spink's suspect decision to avoid Ken Norton the #1 contender at the time and defend against Ali instead).

In fact a breakdown of Ali’s key fights shows a spurious win against Sonny Liston (Phantom Punch…likely a fix), controversial use of the rope-a-dope tactic (arguably illegal) in the Rumble, a wrong victory decision against Ken Norton in the Third Fight and a over hyped win over Frazier in Manila (when Ali’s corner were seconds away from throwing in the towel themselves).

While he was quick to talk the talk when it suited him Ali was too often caught up by his own hubris. He refused to retire with grace and was taken to task for his efforts by both Larry Holmes and the less than stellar Trevor Berbick.

Ali defined an era but had feats mired in hyperbole and for this he will be remembered. Boxing will forever be indebted to him but to call him the Great (or any fighter for that matter) simply overlooks the bigger picture that necessitates such a call to glory.