## I thought you might like this video of the rocket launched off the SoCal coast last night

Hi everybody! How’r y’all doin’? I hope everybody is doing great. This is my first post here. Came here via BDB a few days ago. Thanks to BDB for the referral!

I’m in southern California with my family for the holidays. Last night, we were outside and we saw the rocket that was launched from Vandenberg AFB. I shot some video of it with my phone and I thought you all might enjoy seeing it. It was super amazing! It was so high in the sky that it reflected the sun’s light. That’s why it is so bright.... [Read More]

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## Emoluments

Google News is fake news, or at least it mixes fake news in with news. At any rate, in their default news aggregation this afternoon they featured a New York Times article/editorial about a judicial ruling that tossed out a lawsuit against President Trump. They also featured, as news, this press release from a frustrated plaintiff, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington:

The Constitution’s emoluments clauses are core protections against destabilizing foreign and domestic corruption. We never thought we would have to sue the president to enforce them; we hoped that President Trump would take the necessary steps to avoid violating the Constitution before he took office. He did not, and we were forced to bring our landmark Emoluments case because the plaintiffs in this case—and the American people—have been directly harmed by the President’s violations. While today’s ruling is a setback, we will not walk away from this serious and ongoing constitutional violation. The Constitution is explicit on these issues, and the president is clearly in violation. Our legal team is weighing its options and will soon lay out our decisions on how to proceed.”... [Read More]

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## America’s Most Impressive Christmas and Hanukkah Gift: Nikki Haley

I remember when Ambassador Haley was chosen for her current position and I objected. I have such disdain for the UN that I believed her appointment was a tremendous waste of talent.

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## Book Review: Enlightening Symbols

Sometimes an invention is so profound and significant yet apparently obvious in retrospect that it is difficult to imagine how people around the world struggled over millennia to discover it, and how slowly it was to diffuse from its points of origin into general use. Such is the case for our modern decimal system of positional notation for numbers and the notation for algebra and other fields of mathematics which permits rapid calculation and transformation of expressions. This book, written with the extensive source citations of a scholarly work yet accessible to any reader familiar with arithmetic and basic algebra, traces the often murky origins of this essential part of our intellectual heritage.

From prehistoric times humans have had the need to count things, for example, the number of sheep in a field. This could be done by establishing a one-to-one correspondence between the sheep and something else more portable such as one’s fingers (for a small flock), or pebbles kept in a sack. To determine whether a sheep was missing, just remove a pebble for each sheep and if any remained in the sack, that indicates how many are absent. At a slightly more abstract level, one could make tally marks on a piece of bark or clay tablet, one for each sheep. But all of this does not imply number as an abstraction independent of individual items of some kind or another. Ancestral humans don’t seem to have required more than the simplest notion of numbers: until the middle of the 20th century several tribes of Australian aborigines had no words for numbers in their languages at all, but counted things by making marks in the sand. Anthropologists discovered tribes in remote areas of the Americas, Pacific Islands, and Australia whose languages had no words for numbers greater than four.... [Read More]

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## TOTD 12/22/17: Christmas Songs

Is there any other holiday that fills the world with song? I live in Japan but that does not stop the BGM elves from taking control of the speakers. The songs are so varied from Santa to silly and even sacred but isn’t Christmas all those things.

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## Ratburger.org Code Base Repository Now On-line

The GitHub repository for the Ratburger Code Base is now on-line and accessible to anybody.  The code base is a live mirror of the software and documents which run the site, less its content (the posts, comments, uploaded images, etc.)  Here is the README file for the repository.

Ratburger.org is an online community where a wide variety of topics are discussed in a civil manner among an international membership whose only common denominator is their distaste for the sewer that so many Internet fora and comment sections have become.... [Read More]

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## As the Vote Turns

Lost amid all the other news recently, is that VA still hasn’t certified all of the Commonwealth’s state races due to a number of races requiring recounts.  The 94th district was closest. David Yancey (R) initially led by 10 votes after election night. After the recount, Shelly Simonds (D) led by one vote. Now a three-judge panel has declared the contest a tie after one additional contested vote was determined to have been uncounted for Yancey. Control of the House of Delegates rests on this contest (either 51-49 [R] or 50-50), and under VA law, the winner is decided by lot in the event of a tie. The loser can then demand a second recount. I’ve never seen an election so crazy.

There is still a wild card in the 28th district where Democrats are petitioning for a new election when it was realized around over 100 voters were registered in the wrong district by the registrar in a race that was only 82 votes apart. The twist? The registrar has since died so no one has an explanation why she registered people incorrectly, but the Department of Elections conclusions were developed by manually checking addresses of voters, which identified at least 384 registered voters wrongly assigned to either the 28th or 88th district, then comparing those names against voter rolls from Nov. 7. Of the 384 voters, 110 were wrongly assigned to the 88th District but should be in the 28th; 207 were wrongly assigned to the 28th but should be in the 88th; and 67 were wrongly assigned to the 28th but should be in a third neighboring district, the 2nd. The analysis concludes 125 voters incorrectly voted in the 28th District, where the State Board of Elections was due to certify results that show Republican Bob Thomas leading Democrat Joshua Cole by 82 votes. It finds 22 voters wrongly cast ballots in the 88th House of Delegates District, where Republican Mark Cole won re-election by 4,104 votes. There is no way for elections officials to know which candidate any of these voters cast ballots for.... [Read More]

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## Knowledge Base: Including Mathematics in Posts

Ratburger.org supports MathJax, which permits including beautifully typeset mathematics in posts and comments (but not, at present, in group posts or comments).  For example, here is Einstein’s gravitational field equation:

$$\displaystyle R_{\mu\nu} – \frac{1}{2}g_{\mu\nu}R + \Lambda g_{\mu\nu}= \frac{8\pi G}{c^4}T_{\mu\nu}$$... [Read More]

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