Monday, November 4, 2013

This dude is stylin'!

This dude is stylin'!  They do things a little differently over there...

Progressives causing the problems they lament...

Progressives causing the problems they lament...  Warren Meyer of CoyoteBlog has an interesting idea – that the public school (near-)monopoly is the reason why we have fewer middle-class neighborhoods these days.  When he lays out his theory, though, it seems that there are at least two drivers:

1.  The difficulty in educating kids by any means other than public schools (because either it's very expensive for a private school, or it's tremendously time-consuming to home-school).

2.  The property tax funding mechanism for public schools in most states, that drives people with children to move to neighborhoods with good schools (generally ritzier and more expensive).

The combination provides a powerful set of incentives for people with kids to move to upscale neighborhoods, which then get even more upscale.  I've seen this at work amongst people I know in San Diego; the quality of the schools is most definitely a major factor in their selection of a home location, and many of them struggle mightily to afford living there.

It's an argument for two things: getting rid of the public school monopoly (which would mean much more than just charter schools or vouchers, though both are a start), and democratizing the public school funding mechanism, so that good schools don't only occur in wealthier neighborhoods.

On the other hand, I suspect it would be even more effective to outlaw teacher's unions, reduce the public school bureaucracy by 80% or so, and pay teachers according to their performance instead of their time on the job.

I can dream, can't I?

I want to be like him when I grow up!

I want to be like him when I grow up!  Yusuf Alchagirov is 80 years old, and a working shepherd in the Kabardino-Balkaria region in the south of Russia.  He's also someone you wouldn't want to cross – he just survived a fight with a brown bear (by head-butting it) and then being thrown off a cliff.


The magic number is 17 years...

The magic number is 17 years...  The graph at right shows 17 years of satellite global temperature measurements (the red line), and the trend line through it (the green line).  What's the significance?

1.  The trend is almost perfectly flat, the data sources are replicated, verified, calibrated, and unimpeachable, and the tabulation is cross-checked.  It's observational data, not models.

2.  AGW proponents, starting in 2011, have been saying that 17 years was the minimum set of data needed to unambiguously observe anthropogenic global warming.  This is their assertion, their standard.

The warmies are going to be in need of funding soon, I think.  I predict they will suddenly discover the imminent danger of global cooling, and will agitate for funds to study that...

Things non-Americans find weird about the U.S...

Things non-Americans find weird about the U.S.  These are curated from a Reddit post, and they are both interesting for their perspective, and entertaining to read through.  An example of the latter:
Choice. Buying a sandwich was utterly bewildering the first few times.

For example, in the UK a typical exchange between me and sandwich guy might go like this over the period of 30 seconds:
Me: “Can I have a ham sandwich please”
SG: “White or brown?”
Me: “Brown”
SG: “Any salad or sauces?”
Me: “Lettuce and mayo please”
SG: “Here you go. That’ll be £15 million, and your car and your house.”

Similar exchange in the US, over ten minutes:
Me: “Can I have a ham sandwich please”
SG: (over-enthusistically) “Sure thing, Sir! Which of these two thousand varieties of bread would you like today?” (None of which qualify as bread, but that’s another subject…)
Me: “Oh, er, not sure really. That one please”
SG: “Sure! That’s a multi-grained-crap-tasting-full-o-sugar-shit-fest-foot-long-sub-roll. Do you want enough ham to sink a battleship, or would you prefer just enough to make you shit like a bear for an entire week?”
Me: “Erm, I’ll go for merely enough to induce meat-sweats for 8 hours, thanks”
SG: “What kind of cheese are you after?”
Me: “What have you got?”
SG: “Montery Jack, Jack-o-Lantern, Jack of all Trades, Tastes of Jack Shit, Chilli-Jack, Rubbery-Jack and Jackie Chan.”
Me: “No Cheddar then. I’ll go for Monterey Jack”
SG: “Gherkins Pickles?”
Me: (confused and overwhelmed by all the choice) “Can I just have the sandwich now?”
SG: “Sure! I just need to know what else you want on it. Jalapenos?”
Me: (exasperated): “No, thanks but re…”
SG: “…Olives? Cucumber? Lettuce? Relish?”
Me: (eyes glazed over): “No, thank you, it’s fine as it is”
SG: “Toasted, roasted, basted? Mayo, coleslaw, salt or pepper?”
Me: “No, thank you, really, the sandwich is fine as it is, please can I have it now before I starve to death?”
SG: (confused) “Sure thing! Here you go. That’ll be $0.000000001 please”
Of course, a similar list might be made of things that Americans find weird when they visit overseas.  At the top of my list would be this one:
No matter what country I visit, the inhabitants, from infants to the elderly, can all tell with just a glance that I am an American.  I don't have to speak, gesture, or wave a flag – somehow they just know, even when I'm hundreds of feet away from them.

De Bruijn sequences...

De Bruijn sequences...  Nick Berry at DataGenetics has another of his great posts up, this time on De Bruijn sequences.  He's got a talent for explicating interesting ideas in an accessible, entertaining fashion...

Well, that didn't take long...

Well, that didn't take long...  ObamaCare has been rolled out (sort of) for just over a month, and already the progressives have started bleating for more government control.  Kathleen Murphy, a Virginia Democrat, is calling for the government to force doctors to accept Medicare and Medicaid patients.

The Founding Fathers have been spinning in their graves for quite a while now, but the RPMs are climbing...