Friday, January 31, 2014
Yesterday's drive should have taken us about 12 hours, but it ended up being closer to 15 hours. First, we got caught behind a pileup on the I-215, and blew about an hour and a half scooting around that. Then when we got all the way up to Nephi, Utah, we ran into a stretch of I-15 that was completely closed – and that involved a 30 mile detour on country roads in a snowstorm while temperatures hovered at the freezing mark. What fun! The snowy landscapes were fun for us to see, though...
On the way through St. George, UT, we decided to stop for some ice cream. Purely by accident, we stumbled onto Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, where we both had a chocolate malt. Yum!
Today we're going to relax and rest a bit, get a feel for what winter up here is really like, and start our explorations...
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
First, some good news: the two most likely places for canine melanoma (the kind of cancer she has) to metastasize outside the mouth are the lymph nodes and the lungs. The first order of business here today was some more sophisticated diagnostics to assess that, and ... she's clear on both fronts. No sign of any movement of the cancer outside her mouth.
After consulting with the oncologist here, we decided to opt for radiation treatment to the areas of her head where there are likely some cancerous cells remaining after the surgery. The side effects of such localized radiation treatments are minimal, and we don't think they're likely to impact Lea's quality of life in any significant way. The most likely outcome of this treatment is that we'll have three to six months more with Lea in good shape ... which is probably not much different than we'd have had even if she was disease-free, given her age.
The oncologist (Dr. Burke) was great at giving us straight answers to our questions, and at providing advice and recommendations. We never felt any pressure to take any particular route, but we felt well-informed to make a good decision.
Debbie had a great idea for this visit: she brought Lea's favorite blanket, the one she spends most nights lying on. Lea is normally very nervous at the vet, trembling in fear – but not today. She even fell asleep a few times while we were waiting...
For now, we just wait for her to come out of that first treatment...
Many former formerly manual jobs have already been subsumed by automation. Many, many industrial robots are at work in factories all over the world, though they are mostly invisible to people. I've been surprised how many people have no idea these robots exist. But lesser examples abound. If you'd like to see an example, take a close look inside your local McDonald's restaurant someday. Those coffee cups are filled automatically, including sugar and cream. The fries are lifted out of the deep fat automatically, just at the perfect time. In fact, a typical McDonald's has several dozen automated production machines – all replacing a formerly human job.
What has economists debating this now is that we're on the cusp of a lot more such automation, and it's going to start getting a lot more visible to people. Jobs that people tend to think of as not possible to automate are, in fact, going to be automated. Here's one example. Some others that seem likely: truck drivers, mail delivery, and farming – all of which have simply enormous economic efficiencies to be gained, and all of which are in the development pipeline. Not research pipeline, mind you – engineers are working on these products right now, to be delivered within a year or two. Some of them, especially in farming, are actually being delivered right now – there's a good chance that the last apple you ate was picked by machine, for instance.
So what do the apple-pickers do after a machine takes over their job? One camp argues that they will all be able to find jobs such as maintaining or building the robots, after sufficient training. Another camp basically says they're screwed; once automation takes all the jobs that don't require creativity, there will be nothing left for them to do – and there either won't be enough creative jobs, or they won't be capable of doing them.
The first position sounds unreasonably optimistic to me. If 100,000 postal workers are displaced by Googlebots, are they all going to find work oiling and polishing their robot overlords? The economics of that wouldn't work at all, and experience with modern technology would lead one to conclude that the reliability will more resemble that of a 2014 Toyota than a 1935 Ford. And would those postal workers get retrained to work in a creative field? I don't know what your experience with postal workers has been, but on average the ones I've met would have a hard time creating a ham sandwich. I can't see them building the next great iPhone app.
So I'm a bit pessimistic about this, in the sense that I don't see all these people finding satisfying, productive employment. And that sounds like a big problem to me – because what's the alternative? A huge welfare state supported by a creative minority and a robot majority? That would be a very different kind of society than the one I grew up in. How could all those people find fulfillment and happiness? I associate those things with useful work, but clearly not everybody does. Are we going to build a brave new world where the majority of people are content and happy to be living off the productive work of a creative majority? How would such a society work? And in particular, how would a representative democracy work, when the majority are the takers?
I don't have any real answers to these questions. They're just topics for me to worry about. Anybody have any good answers?
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Cowboy: 'That your dog?'Indian: 'Yep.'
Cowboy: 'Mind if I speak to him?'
Indian: 'Dog no talk.'
Cowboy: 'Hey dog, how's it going?'
Dog: 'Doin' all right.'
Indian: (Look of shock!)
Cowboy: 'Is this Indian your owner?' (pointing at the Indian...)
Cowboy: 'How's he treating you?'
Dog: 'Real good. He walks me twice a day, feeds me great food and takes me to the lake once a week to play.'
Indian: (Look of total disbelief)
Cowboy: 'Mind if I talk to your horse?'
Indian: 'Horse no talk.'
Cowboy: 'Hey horse, how's it going?'
Indian: (Extreme look of shock!)
Cowboy: 'Is this your owner?' (Pointing to the Indian...)
Cowboy: 'How's he treating you?'
Horse: 'Pretty good, thanks for asking, he rides me, brushes me down often and keeps me in a lean-to to protect me from the weather.'
Indian: (Look of total amazement)
Cowboy: 'Mind if I talk to your sheep?'
Indian: 'Sheep lie.'
Monday, January 27, 2014
Lea continues to look and behave like a completely well, but slightly ancient dog. We took off her “cone of shame” this morning, and she's very happy about that...
I knew about the New Madrid (Missouri) area being a risk, and also the Yellowstone hot spot – but South Carolina? That was a complete surprise to me...
What a knucklehead!
Sunday, January 26, 2014
The image is a “focus merge” product, using several images merged to create a greater depth of field than is possible by purely optical means...
This blog is reporting from the front lines in Kyev (Kiev), and includes many photos.
I visited Kiev about 15 years ago on a business trip; the company I was working for was considering opening a software development branch there. We ended up deciding against it, mainly because of concern for the political stability. Looks like that was a good call, though it took a long time to get to this state...
The economy has been getting worse since That One took office.
Today I received a pre-declined credit card.
Exxon-Mobil had to lay off 25 Congressmen.
Angelina Jolie is now adopting children from America.
Motel Six won’t leave the light on anymore.
A picture is now only worth about 200 words.
They renamed Wall Street to “Wal-Mart Street.”
Saturday, January 25, 2014
If this might be your dog, please get down there and get this poor fellow to a safe place!
Excitement with JelloI don't remember this specific incident myself, but I remember many others like it. Dropping an egg onto Jello to watch the interesting visual result was entirely consistent with my dad's character and behavior. And he certainly wouldn't give a hoot if there was a disapproving or worried observer :)
While I was a teenager, Mother Dear was cooking a special dinner. She pulled a large bowl of red jello out of the fridge and set it on the kitchen table. Pater watched with obvious delight as the stuff wiggled all around in the bowl. He commented out loud to everyone in the kitchen about how it was moving around as if it were alive.
“I wonder what it would look like if I dropped something in it ?” he asked excitedly.
Then he ran to the refrigerator and rummaged around looking for that something. He found a hard boiled egg and when back at the table pulled out a chair, leaped up on to it and then with an insane grin on his face he hovered over top of the bowl of jello. With his tongue playing over his lips and showing intent concentration he held the egg up high and then let it go ... splat – right on target into the middle of the jello. It wobbled like mad.
“Neat!” he shouted. “Let's do it again!”
Not realizing or not caring that some visitors showed up at the door he once more let the egg go with precision aim and once more he shouted with glee as the egg created waves of jiggling shiny color which for some reason was high quality entertainment. The adults that were just let in stared at Pater with worry, disbelief and shock. They had a look on their faces that read something like...
“Should we call the men in the white coats ?”
“Are we at the right place?”
“Maybe we better get out of here – this guy might be dangerous!”
Notes: “Mother Dear” is a family nickname for my mom. “Pater” is a nickname the family gave my dad.
Me? I continue to be astounded at the reliability that Google (and a few others, notably Amazon) have been able to achieve for applications at that scale. I've worked in that world a bit – my last job was with ServiceNow, a company with a moderate scale cloud application, but certainly not nearly the scale of, say, GMail. Add to that reliability the fact that Google supplies GMail to personal users for free (that is, no direct charge), and you've got something really quite remarkable.
Could they do better on reliability? Certainly, though not by much – Google's uptime record isn't all that far from perfect. Do they deserve rage or mocking? I don't think so...
Friday, January 24, 2014
We've got some tough choices ahead for our old girl...
And they're in California! This paper about their spray mechanism mentions that they captured some of their study subjects in California.
Further googling shows that creationists have fixed on these guys as supposed examples of something that couldn't possibly have evolved.
So...holy smokin' beetle, Batman!
My readers of a certain age may remember a phenomenon called “pen pals” – surely dead and gone in these days of email, texts, FaceTime, and Skype. I had several pen pals as a kid, arranged through a service advertising in the back of a magazine. I remember one in Thailand, and another in France, and I remember well how exotic both of those locales seemed. Now they're just another place, just a little further away than places in the U.S.
According to Wikipedia, pen pals are still alive and well, though perhaps a little retro. They also mention the Flat Stanley project, which I've participated in twice. That's really a lot different than a pen pal, though...
I loved the first comment, from “Ned”:
Please don’t publish this data again.
I’m from Massachusetts and I don’t want our legislators to know they are not the worst!
The nominal cause of this latest outbreak of protests was the Ukrainian president's (Viktor Yanukovych) refusal to sign a cooperation pact with the European Union, couple with signing a cooperation pact with Russia. I suspect the root cause is actually much deeper: the population grew up under the Soviet Union's thugocracy, and they don't want to move back to that (which is the general direction Putin's Russia is moving). Much more coverage here...
The problem with most programming languages is they're designed by language geeks, who tend to worry about things that I don't much care for. Safety, type systems, homoiconicity, and so forth. I'm sure these things are great, but when I'm messing around with a new project for fun, my two concerns are 1) making it work and 2) making it fast. For me, code is like a car. It's a means to an end. The "expressiveness" of a piece of code is about as important to me as the "expressiveness" of a catalytic converter.While I have a keen interest in programming languages, I do share Evan's view of languages being primarily a tool to get something done. I've never looked at Julia, but after reading Evan's post I think I'll add it to my list of retirement projects...
This approach to programming is often (derisively) called cowboy coding. I don't think a cowboy is quite the right image, because a cowboy must take frequent breaks due to the physical limitations of his horse. A better aspirational image is an obsessed scientist who spends weeks in the laboratory and emerges, bleary-eyed, exhausted, and wan, with an ingenious new contraption that possibly causes a fire on first use.
You know when we will know America is starting to come back? When some day the sergeant at arms bellows: "Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States" and the camera shows a bubble of suits and one person emerges from the pack and walks into the chamber and you're watching at home and you find yourself—against everything you know, against all the accumulated knowledge of the past—interested. It'll take you aback when you realize you're interested in what he'll say! And the members won't just be enacting, they'll be leaning forward to hear.Ouch!
And the president will speak, and what he says will be pertinent to the problems of the United States of America. And thoughtful. And he'll offer ideas, and you'll think: "Hey, that sounds right."
That is when you'll know America just might come back.
Until then, as John Dickerson just put it: Barack Obama, Inaction Figure.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
My poor little blog has never seen anything like this before. I don't know how long it will stay there, but while it does, a whole bunch of people are finding out what slightly loony is all about. Thanks for the link, Mr. Steyn - awesome!
Here's where things get a little strange. On January 8th, Steyn severed his defense from the National Review, for reasons he briefly explains here. Yesterday, he filed a motion – one that some quite respectable lawyers don't think too much of. Steyn is defending himself, and he's not an attorney (though he is perhaps more familiar with the legal system than most non-lawyers).
Apart from the wisdom of his move, Steyn has set the table for something potentially very entertaining and enlightening: discovery on Mann's research. The general wisdom seems to be that Mann is completely out of his mind for putting himself in a position where this discovery was a possibility. Yesterday, the judge in the case denied the defendants' motion for dismissal, and he lifted the stay on discovery in the case.
Wow! Time to stock up on popcorn, folks. And we wish Mr. Steyn all the best on this. While we worry about the (considerable) gamble he's taking, we can't help but admire the cojones he's putting on display...
At 13 years old, to have the ability to play music worthy of the gods – can you even imagine it? I cannot...
Davis’ supporter Matt Angle may have thought he was writing about Abbott, but he inadvertently described Davis and her entourage instead when he wrote that the “attacks are a malicious expression of fear.” Exactly. The attacks on Abbot are not just malicious and fearful: they are stupid and despicable.One of the commenters on that post pointed me to this, from Don Surber:
Cue the Association in a re-write of "Windy."One gets the impression that Don is not overly impressed by liberals :)
Who's speakin' out to mock paraplegics?Her actions are pretty evil, even for a lying liberal lady.
Saying that one is running scared
Who gave away both of her daughters?
Everyone knows it's Wendy
Who's ripping out pages in her bio?
Lyin’ at everybody she sees
Who filibusters to capture a headline?
Everyone knows it's Wendy
And Wendy has pink tennis shoes
And speaks with the sound of lies
And Wendy married money
Then dumped her kids (then dumped her kids)
Then dumped her kids (then dumped her kids)
[Flute music interval]
Who's speakin' out to mock paraplegics?
Saying that one is running scared
Who gave away both of her daughters?
Everyone knows it's Wendy
Who's ripping out pages in her bio?
Lyin’ at everybody she sees
Who filibusters to capture a headline?
Everyone knows it's Wendy
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
That leaves us with two possibilities: First, would-be applicants may simply be waiting until March. They’ve gone without insurance a long time; why not wait a few more months and save on premiums?The comments, as ever on her site, are quite interesting, and occasionally entertaining...
The second possibility is more troubling: There may be something seriously wrong with our understanding of who the uninsured are, and what they are willing and able to buy in the way of insurance. I don’t know exactly what the fault may be in our understanding. But if the numbers stay this low, I’d say we need to reassess the state of our knowledge about the uninsured -- and the vast program we created to cover them.
I really hate this waiting part...
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude with this thought. I believe the story of Israel is a great example to the world. It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society. A vibrant democracy, a freedom-loving country with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary. An innovative, world-leading "start-up" nation.Do read the whole thing – it's an excellent speech, full of truths that That One doesn't seem to understand...
You have taken the collective memory of death and persecution to build an optimistic, forward-looking society, one that so values life you will sometimes release a thousand criminals and terrorists to save one of your own.
In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents values which our government takes as articles of faith and principles to drive our national life.
And therefore through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.
Michael Totten (one of my favorite independent journalists) visited Cuba, and is writing articles based on his travels there. Here's an excerpt from his latest post:
Castro’s checkpoints are there to ensure nobody has too much or the wrong kind of food.
Police officers pull over cars and search the trunk for meat, lobsters, and shrimp. They also search passenger bags on city busses in Havana. Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez wrote about it sarcastically in her book, Havana Real. “Buses are stopped in the middle of the street and bags inspected to see if we are carrying some cheese, a lobster, or some dangerous shrimp hidden among our personal belongings.”
If they find a side of beef in the trunk, so I’m told, you’ll go to prison for five years if you tell the police where you got it and ten years if you don’t.
No one is allowed to have lobsters in Cuba. You can’t buy them in stores, and they sure as hell aren’t available on anyone’s ration card. They’re strictly reserved for tourist restaurants owned by the state. Kids will sometimes pull them out of the ocean and sell them on the black market, but I was warned in no uncertain terms not to buy one. I stayed in hotels and couldn’t cook my own food anyway. And what was I supposed to do, stash a live lobster in my backpack?
The answer is that I will stop posting to JamulBlog, but will keep it in place. My new posts will go on a new blog that I am currently constructing. I'm moving to a new blogging host (Ghost) – much more flexible than my old host (Blogger). It will take me a while, at least a few weeks, to get that new blog configured – and for me to learn how to use it. The new blog's name will not be specific to where we live, so I'll likely be switching over to it before we actually leave California...
I was thinking about how a status symbol of today is those cell phones that everyone has clipped onto their belt or purse. I can't afford one. So, I'm wearing my garage door opener.
I also made a cover for my hearing aid and now I have what they Call blue teeth, I think.
You know, I spent a fortune on deodorant before I realized that people didn't like me anyway.
I thought about making a fitness movie for folks my age, and call it 'Pumping Rust'.
I've gotten that dreaded furniture disease. That's when your chest is falling into your drawers!
When people see a cat's litter box, they always say, 'Oh, have you got a cat?' Just once I want to say, 'No, it's for company!'
Employment application blanks always ask who is to be notified in case of an emergency. I think you should write, 'A Good Doctor'!
I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older. Then, it dawned on me. They were cramming for their finals.
A penny saved is a government oversight.
The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat have gotten to be really good friends.
The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.
He who hesitates is probably right.
Did you ever notice: The Roman Numerals for forty (40) are XL.
If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.
The sole purpose of a child's middle name is so he can tell when he's really in trouble..
Did you ever notice: When you put the 2 words 'The' and 'IRS' together it spells 'Theirs...'
Aging: Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.
Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know 'why' I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved.
When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to your youth, think of Algebra.
One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young. Ah, being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Judging from some of the comments there, many folks are surprised to see this. I see it as a natural, predictable result of the feminization of Western society.
Ugh. Now wait for a moment while I go take a shower and take an emergency dose of Cabernet...
(2014-01-20) — In a holiday ceremony to commemorate the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President Obama spoke of the “fairly significant role” Dr. King played in the run up to his own historic presidency, but humbly downplayed potential talk of an Obama national holiday.Sounds ... completely plausible, doesn't it? But it's ScrappleFace...
It will likely be a few days before the controllers have determined Rosetta's state of health, but ... an awful lot of things had to work correctly simply to get the signal they got, right on time, this morning. There's every reason to be optimistic about the spacecraft's status...
We've already noticed some things getting delivered far faster than we'd think possible, and some of those things are repeat orders for us. Most recently I noticed this with my tea order. I've been buying the same tea now for several years; a kilogram about every 10 weeks. The last time I ordered it was just a couple of weeks ago, and the tea arrived the day after I ordered it – and considering that we live out in the San Diego mountains, that's pretty amazing...
I ran across this by accident in my reading this morning, and it reminded me (once again) of the enormous difference a culture makes. I cannot imagine sitting in a stadium watching something like this for more than about 20 seconds before being bored to the point of tears. In Japan, there are avid followers of this event that compete for the limited number of tickets available in the arenas where its performed...
My US Navy and business travels took me to a lot of places in the world. I spent quite a bit of time in eastern Europe, and also in southeast Asia. One constant, virtually everywhere I went, was the presence of abandoned WWII construction. Most of these leftovers weren't so much monuments as they were expensive and inconvenient to remove – so they just stayed there. In the Philippines, Thailand, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Australia, and Slovenia I ran across these derelicts as I traveled through the countryside. In Estonia, in the '90s and '00s, I actually sought some of them out. In some cases friends told me about them. In other cases, books I'd read about WWII told me the locations, and I'd find them with my GPS and the aid of locals. On Saaremaa (an island in the Baltic Sea that's part of Estonia), I've spent several days exploring WWII fortifications used by both sides to defend the Gulf of Riga. In Russia, I spent a day exploring the area where the Nazis built a huge gun emplacement to attack St. Petersburg (then Leningrad). In the Philippines, I spent two days on Corregidor Island, exploring its huge fortifications where the American defenders surrendered to Japanese attackers. All of this brought home to me just how lucky America has been in the absence of combat on its shores – this sort of war memorial is almost non-existent on our territory (with the USS Arizona monument being a glaring exception).
However, there's another factor at work, too. Some countries have actively removed most traces of WWII. This includes America – we built huge numbers of shore defense bunkers and fortifications, as well as submarine and aircraft watch towers (many of reinforced concrete), and virtually all of these have been demolished. In the U.K., there was even more such construction – and very little of it remains today. France, Germany, and Italy have removed much of their WWII fortifications, though some has been carefully preserved. In Estonia, one might stumble upon some WWII remnant anywhere you travel, sometimes in the most unexpected places. So to some extent, the preservation of the WWII constructions seems to be a function of culture, or perhaps a country's wealth...
About a year and a half ago, I replaced the patio door that we normally use to go in and out of our house. The old door was a sliding glass door. From the inside of the house, you would slide the door from right to left to open it. When they figured out that we were going for a walk, the dogs would all jostle for position at the right hand side of that door, eager to be the first out. They have no idea why they want to be first, mind you – but they're dogs, and they know it's important to be first :)
I replaced that door with one that had a pair of hinged doors, rather than a sliding door. The doors open from the center, so the right place for the dogs to congregate is at the center of the door, rather than at the right side. This confused all the dogs at first, but within a few days they figured out the new door, and went to the middle.
Except for Mo'i. A year and a half after I replaced the door, he's still going to the right side, convinced that the other three dogs are all crazy and that he'll be the first one out. Every day, 3 or 4 times a day, we go through this drill: three dogs in the middle, and Mo'i on the right. I open the door, and now there's a door between Mo'i and the opening. Every time, he has to awkwardly back up, move to his left, and join the other dogs – the last one out the door. He's done this roughly 2,000 times now, and he still doesn't understand that the center is the place to be.
When he was competing in agility, he earned the moniker “Slo-Mo” for his unhurried pace through the course. I think we could use that for his learning speed, too :)
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Academia has become an alternate world where human relations exist in a mechanical universe governed entirely by identity politics, where the world is always on the verge of a Green Apocalypse and the only way to make anything work is to route it through the foundational theories of existence. This magical world continually changes in response to new theories bubbling up from trendy publications. The very laws of the universe can be gendered and every historical event can be rewritten by viewing it through the lens of class.We have academics (or academic poseurs) running Washington these days...
Academia is a magical world where nothing is truly fixed and everything exists on belief. Change the belief and you change the reality. It's a meta-world that has a certain fanciful appeal for intellectuals, but little relevance to the real world where things do not change because the theory does and where outcomes are hard and real and the consequences of a bad theory can mean lives lost.
I suspect his invention will only be useful when small barriers need to be erected (mind you, there's a lot of need for those) – even with the salt, the overall density of his bags will be far less than conventional sandbags, and that will limit the depth of seawater that can be held back. Also, over time his bags will lose salt (when they're wet), as normal diffusion evens out the salinity of the surrounding water and that inside his bags. So not a perfect replacement for conventional sandbags, but still a useful and clever way to make a better bag for certain uses...
Closing the hearing, Rep. Chris Collins (R., N.Y.) asked Kennedy if the site is secure today.Makes me want to run right out and start putting my personal information into the site...
“Absolutely not,” he said.
I was once on a US military ship, having breakfast in the wardroom (officers lounge) when the Operations Officer (OPS) walks in. This guy was the definition of NOT a morning person; he's still half asleep, bleary eyed... basically a zombie with a bagel. He sits down across from me to eat his bagel and is just barely conscious. My back is to the outboard side of the ship, and the morning sun is blazing in one of the portholes putting a big bright-ass circle of light right on his barely conscious face. He's squinting and chewing and basically just remembering how to be alive for today. It's painful to watch.Absolutely awesome. And, speaking as an ex-US Navy sailor: totally plausible...
But then zombie-OPS stops chewing, slowly picks up the phone, and dials the bridge. In his well-known I'm-still-totally-asleep voice, he says "heeeey. It's OPS. Could you... shift our barpat... yeah, one six five. Thanks." And puts the phone down. And then he just sits there. Squinting. Waiting.
And then, ever so slowly, I realize that that big blazing spot of sun has begun to slide off the zombie's face and onto the wall behind him. After a moment it clears his face and he blinks slowly a few times and the brilliant beauty of what I've just witnessed begins to overwhelm me. By ordering the bridge to adjust the ship's back-and-forth patrol by about 15 degrees, he's changed our course just enough to reposition the sun off of his face. He's literally just redirected thousands of tons of steel and hundreds of people so that he could get the sun out of his eyes while he eats his bagel. I am in awe.
He slowly picks up his bagel and for a moment I'm terrified at the thought that his own genius may escape him, that he may never appreciate the epic brilliance of his laziness (since he's not going to wake up for another hour). But between his next bites he pauses, looks at me, and gives me the faintest, sly grin, before returning to gnaw slowly on his zombie bagel.
I am astounded that such a story made it onto the BBC's site. I suspect someone will be losing their job over this...During the latter half of the 17th Century, the Sun went through an extremely quiet phase - a period called the Maunder Minimum.Historical records reveal that sunspots virtually disappeared during this time.
Dr Green says: "There is a very strong hint that the Sun is acting in the same way now as it did in the run-up to the Maunder Minimum."
Mike Lockwood, professor of space environment physics, from the University of Reading, thinks there is a significant chance that the Sun could become increasingly quiet.
An analysis of ice-cores, which hold a long-term record of solar activity, suggests the decline in activity is the fastest that has been seen in 10,000 years.
"It's an unusually rapid decline," explains Prof Lockwood.
"We estimate that within about 40 years or so there is a 10% to 20% - nearer 20% - probability that we'll be back in Maunder Minimum conditions."
The era of solar inactivity in the 17th Century coincided with a period of bitterly cold winters in Europe.
Londoners enjoyed frost fairs on the Thames after it froze over, snow cover across the continent increased, the Baltic Sea iced over - the conditions were so harsh, some describe it as a mini-Ice Age.
If you're not familiar with the phrase “molon labe”, click the link for the complete story. It's a famous Greek phrase, now often used by 2nd amendment supporters. It's a retort to those who would take our weapons, meaning, basically, “Come and take it!”
ATF, of course, is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
In another photo (at the first link above), a chagrined ATF booth-boy is trying to remove the sticker...
Saturday, January 18, 2014
The smaller the animals people eat, the poorer the civilization.What a weird idea! Is it true? The idea of correlating food animal size and the wealth of a civilization is a new one to me. Does it pass the sniff test? Are there poor civilizations that routinely eat large animals? Are their rich civilizations that routinely eat small animals?
Well, I'm a member of a rich civilization. What animals do I routinely eat? The list isn't very long: cows, pigs, chickens, and a variety of seafood (some of it quite small, like mussels). While I wish it were true that the bulk of my food animal consumption was scallops, crab, and lobster, in reality its bigger animals. I probably eat more chicken (by weight) than any other food animal. If I was richer, would I eat more beef? No, I'd eat more seafood. But what do Americans on average consume? Answer: chicken, beef, pork, and turkey, in that order. American seafood consumption is tiny by comparison with any of those. Doesn't pass the sniff test.
What about a poor civilization? I don't know much about the diet of poor civilizations, but stories of eating grubs and locusts come immediately to mind in the context of this idea. A brief investigation on the web led me to several articles like this one, where it's clear that the bulk of the animals hunted are relatively small, with successful hunts of the largest animals being quite rare. On the other hand, total contribution of insects to the meat diet is tiny. Doesn't pass the sniff test.
I call bullshit on this idea...
Holy crap! Somebody is worried, if language like that worms its way into a procurement document...
The Hill includes this quote from the document:
“There is limited time to build this functionality and failure to deliver…by mid-March 2014 will result in financial harm to the government,” the document says.
If this functionality is not complete by mid-March 2014, the government could make erroneous payments to providers and insurers. Additionally, without a Financial Management platform that accounts for enrollments and associated program costs that integrates with the existing CMS Accounting platform, the entire healthcare reform program is jeopardized.This sounds even worse than what I had imagined...
Debbie and I had sushi a few days ago, and we noted that the sushi chef was ignoring the new law...
- Roast (or grill) some chicken thighs; let them cool overnight in the fridge.
- Skin them and peel away any fat pockets; feed the skin and fat to your dogs.
- Pull all the meat from the bone; put the bones somewhere the cats can't find them.
- Dice the meat into pea-sized chunks.
- Add about 2 teaspoons of mayonnaise (and not that abomination called “Miracle Whip”) to the chicken meat.
- Crush about a teaspoon of quality dried tarragon leaf in a fine-meshed sieve, and sift it onto the meat and mayonnaise. Discard the remaining stems.
- Mix the meat, mayonnaise, and tarragon thoroughly.
- Very lightly toast two slices of frozen Dudley's Irish Potato bread. There should be just a touch of very light brown on the surface of the toast.
- Spread the meat mixture on the bread to make a sandwich.
In the real world (well, if you consider California to be part of the real world), this actually happened – and the state's Department of Corrections decided to go ahead with the transplant. There were non-criminals on the transplant list who were good matches for the donor heart.
If you think you've worked out the ethics of those considerations, try this variant: suppose the medical treatment in question were for a non-fatal condition. Say, for instance, surgery to correct a limp. If you came to a different conclusion on that, precisely how would you draw the distinctions between the two?
I'm going to add this to my (long) list of reasons to be suspect about the entire idea of punitive incarceration. It strikes me as being one of those human inventions (like socialism, including its “progressive” variants) that demonstrably doesn't work and needs to be eliminated. It's the sort of thing that makes me look fondly at societal banishment, such as the old English system of “transportation”. At least we got America and Australia out of that!
We live in amazing times...
NASA will send Opportunity over to examine the rock. It's interesting no matter how it got there, because it's upside-down now, showing a fresh face that will allow some new science investigations. The leading candidate explanation is that the rock (which is about the size of your fist) was “tiddly-winked” to it's new location by Opportunity's movements. Another candidate explanation – more exciting, to be sure – is that a meteorite struck the surface of Mars and threw up some debris, one piece of which just happened to land smack in front of Opportunity.
Scott Waring, writing at UFO Sightings Daily) enlarged the rock to get the photo at left. Then he wrote:
I enlarged the object and it seems to be an odd shaped creature of some sort. In the enlargement you can also see that its sort of a square shape, but its center is pushed downward. It would be cool if this was some kind of crab-like creature.I don't know what sort of creatures Scott runs around with, but where I come from, crabs didn't look much like that at all :)