Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Here We Go Again - More of the "IT'S RADIATION!!!" Insanity

Radioactive tuna travels from Japan to US faster than wind - CSMonitor.com

I have spent too much time looking for any meaningful information to be published on this story. I give up. Even though the reference is always like this...
The amount of radioactive cesium in the fish is not thought to be damaging to people if consumed, the researchers said in a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
I can't find the referenced article on the PNAS website. (I think you have to subscribe to get all the articles when they are current....)

What do we know? Tuna off the Pacific Coast of the US has been found with a 3 percent increase in its normal levels of radiation. In the form of Cesium 134. Which it is fair to associate with the Fuckushima Daiichi disaster after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, (That is official Japanese name for the disaster) since cesium 134 is only produced by atomic reactors or atomic bombs.

But it is that nebulous "3 percent" number that is insane. The amount of radiation we can detect is vanishingly small. And a lot of food is naturally radioactive. (See the Banana Equivalent Dose, for an example.)
Bluefin tuna typically have low levels of naturally occurring radioactive material, such as potassium 40, which was present in the world's oceans long before human beings walked the Earth.
As I quoted in another post about radiation, “Jumping off a chair is no big deal; jumping off a cliff is really stupid.” 3% is only a meaningful number if we know the base. And the journalism profession - it seems - doesn't know this. Or they aren't telling. A 3 percent increase of a small number is still a small number.

But Americans refuse to understand this. And the media doesn't help. What do you expect from a bunch of folks with Journalism degrees. The last science class they took was high-school biology, they are proud of the fact they don't understand math (or by extension statistics), but they will scream about the perils of radiation. Even thought they don't know what they are.

The Christian Science Monitor did give us one other piece of information not supplied by any of the other articles I looked into. Half-life.
Cesium 134 decays quickly, with a half-life of two years. Bluefin tuna excrete it on a daily basis and it also gets diluted in their bodies as they grow.
That is a fairly short half-life, as these things go. I guess they feel they need to get the hysteria in now, in a few more years, it won't be worth it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ear Worm of the Day

I am so far down the internet-rabbit hole, I'm not 100% sure how I got here. But I like it.

Krauka is a Danish/Icelandic/Viking folk band. Odinn! is the title track to a CD. While Google Translate doesn't seem to handle Icelandic very well, what I can make out it that this is a list of some of Odin's names (or kennings - in the Old English way of looking at things).

(Is it just me? Or is it strange that they are singing about Odin standing in front of a statue of Thor?)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New York Senator Wants To Publish Your Home Address on the Internet

Politicians who don't know the first thing about technology - or what it is to deal with a violent stalker - should just leave the issue of privacy alone. New York Senate bill seeks to end anonymous internet posting | Today in Tech - Yahoo! News
In effect, the bill is an online stalker's dream. Of course, the most likely result of the bill's passage would just be the full-scale elimination of all comment systems everywhere, because the system is an unworkable burden on both the poster and the "web site administrators" who would need to respond to ludicrous take down requests at all times of the day.
Yeah, that's a good idea. Back in the age of VHS tapes, we used to say that if you went to the house of someone like this, the clock on their video recorder would be blinking 12 o'clock, because they didn't have the faintest idea of how to program it. But that wouldn't stop them from telling you exactly how technology *SHOULD* work.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

If You Break Into Houses...

You will eventually find an armed homeowner. Intruder killed, another charged in Cumberland County home invasion | The Jackson Sun | jacksonsun.com 2 burglars. One homeowner with a gun.
Cumberland County Sheriff’s deputies found the body of 20-year-old Jacob Andrew Clark of Putnam County not far from the house where the incident occurred. Deputies arrested 18-year-old Joey Allen Pugh of Cumberland County as he fled on foot, charging him with aggravated burglary.
Good Guys 2, Bad Guys 1. (Though of course the incident is being investigated.)

PR Firm Will Tell Us Why We Should Love Obamacare

Spin. Spin. Spin. Obama Spends $20 Mil In Taxpayer Money To Tell Taxpayers How Great ObamaCare Is - Investors.com
A Health and Human Services official let slip the real reason, telling Roll Call that the PR effort is meant "to inform the American people about the many preventive benefits now available ... as a result of the Affordable Care Act." In other words, this is more about burnishing ObamaCare's image before the election than meeting some public health imperative.
File this under, "Your Tax Dollars at Work."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Greeks Pissed Off at Germans, Still Want the Tourism Income

Yeah, didn't think that was going to happen. Germans Afraid of Greek Anger Avoid Vacations in Blow to Economy - Businessweek
German taxi driver Rudolf Kugel, who says he’s visited Greece more times than he can count, won’t be going again anytime soon to the Mediterranean sunspot because he’s concerned about the reaction of local people.

“They hold Germans responsible for all their misery,” said the 62-year-old from near Stuttgart. “You want to go on holiday to have a comfortable break, not to be lynched.”
And Germans are traditionally a big part of the Greek tourism economy, which is 16 percent of the Greek economy.
Revenue from German tourists declined 61 percent to 10.3 million euros in February, the most recent month for which there is data available, while there were 12.7 percent fewer arrivals from Europe’s biggest economy compared with the previous year
So, which is it? Are you angry with the Germans, or do you want them to come and spend money?

Fewer Euros. Few Euros to be taxed. Fewer jobs. Fewer rent payments. Bigger headaches. People are already forecasting food shortages, once Greece abrogates its most recent agreements.
[hat tip to Tam for sending me to another story on this topic.]

This Guy Needs a Bigger Gun!

A .22 will ruin your day, but I don't think they enough stopping power. Still it got the job done. Home invasion suspect shot by owner : News : UpperMichigansSource.com

After being removed once by police, this idiot came back, pounded on the front door, damaged some cars, and pounded on the front door again. Apparently he was looking for a woman, but he was apparently looking in the wrong place.
Home then left the front door and started damaging vehicles again. He then focused his attention on the side door of the residence, kicking it down and entering the trailer. The owner called 911 and shot three times at Home with a .22 caliber handgun, according to authorities. Home fled and was later found by police officers.

The Marquette Police Department says that the homeowner had shot at the suspect aiming at his lower extremities.
At least a 38 Special or a 9mm. And center of mass.

Still, the bad guy is in jail (he was released from the hospital) and the good guy is OK. If having to deal with some property damage.

Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Religious Arguments About Political Issues - Nothing New

It's all been said before... just with a different target in mind... Commentary: Gay marriage sermon isn't surprising - KansasCity.com

I would like to copy the whole thing, but that wouldn't be right. So, here is a taste....

Segregation and the recognition of interracial couples was the last time religion was incensed by the news of the day. And the preachers weren't always on the side of peace, hope and love.
In a 1955 opinion upholding Jim Crow laws, the Florida Supreme Court cast segregation as a divine construct. “When God created man, he allotted each race to his own continent according to color.” (Native Americans might have wondered what happened to their allotment.)

In a famous 1956 address to fellow southern religious leaders, Texas preacher W.A. Criswell, pastor of the largest church in the Southern Baptist Convention, attacked the Supreme Court’s landmark school desegregation decision two years before as “idiocy” and “foolishness” and “a denial of all that we believe in.”

Another notable Baptist leader, the Rev. James F. Burks of Norfolk, similarly warned that integration (not much more than a legal theory in the 1950s South) was an abomination against the “plain truth of the word of God” and would bring on the very apocalypse.
It wasn't until 1995 that the Southern Baptist Convention apologized for its racist past. (They were pro-slavery at one time, as well as pro-segregation.‡)

There is more like that, if you click through to the article. And there is the author's (Fred Grimm) first hand account of what happened in one Mississippi town when a federal court ordered it to desegregate the schools in compliance with Brown V Board of Education - two years after they should have done so.

So when they say the same things today, about how letting gays and lesbians have spousal social security benefits and inherit property without getting wiped out by estate taxes is an abomination, about how opening up the 1300 rights conferred by marriage (that number depends on who is counting) to gay couples will undermine the 50% of straight marriages who seem to avoid divorce, you'll excuse me if I don't just say "of course." It is like when the gun-fearing weenies say that "concealed carry will cause wild-west gunfights over parking spaces, and blood will run in the streets over road rage." It isn't true. It hasn't been true. But they have to say something or shut up. And they sure as hell won't shut up.

On the Baptists and slavery:
Of course, God as a racial segregationist had been an easy transition from the religious axiom espoused in the previous century that God was cool with slavery. Slave-holders got their theological approbation from the Rev. Richard Furman, a Baptist leader and educator (Furman University was named in his honor) who delivered his Exposition of the Views of the Baptists Relative to the Coloured Population of the United States in 1838. Furman said, “The right of holding slaves is clearly established by the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were directed to purchase their bond-men and bond-maids of the heathen nations.”

US Upgrading Nuclear Arsenal, Pissing Off Russia

I don't remember seeing any of this in the US media. Could it be they didn't want to point out that Dear Leader is actually doing something that looks military? Cold-warrior even... Upgrading US Nuclear Weapons More Expensive Than Planned - SPIEGEL ONLINE
The new B61-12 will be able to carry four different warheads, which range in strength from 0.3 to 45 kilotons of TNT. As a comparison, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II had a strength of 15 kilotons. "This weapon can do the same amount of damage militarily as the very high-yield weapon attached to the B61-7," says Kristensen. Götz Neuneck, from the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, likewise warns of the "drastically improved mission capabilities" of the B61. In addition to the upgrades, the bombs are also to be carried by the stealth fighter F-35, which is currently in development. The weapon and the fighter jet are to be perfectly compatible, such that the F-35 -- also known as the Joint Strike Fighter -- will be able to stow two of the bombs in its hold. Such a capability could provoke new trouble with Russia, which is already unhappy with the planned European missile defense shield.
Not being tied into the 24 hour news cycle means I sometimes miss things like this, but a quick check of Google News, didn't turn up too much on the B61.

First Greece, Now Spain

Don't worry, the Spanish government is saying all is well. (Seems I've heard that before...) Spain reeling over financial fears: 'Will my money be safe?' ask customers in Madrid banks - Telegraph
The central bank announced late that evening that the level of bad loans on the books of Spanish banks was at an 18-year high, fuelling concerns about the financial sector in the eurozone's fourth-largest economy.

Then the finance ministry said late on Friday that the deficit could reach 8.9 percent of GDP after four of its 17 regions overshot their expected budgets.

And with Greece looking ever more likely to drop off the cliff and exit the eurozone, it is now Spain which has the unwelcome distinction of being in the centre of the euro firestorm.
None of this is helped by the fact that Spain, like Greece, is in recession. Well, not quite. One quarter of contraction doesn't make a recession, but that is the direction things are headed.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Growth" Is NOT Equal to Government Spending

For weeks the lame-stream media has been going on about how Europe (and now the G8) are not in favor of austerity = balanced budgets. They want "growth."

Except what the political class wants is the status quo. Runaway spending, no worries about budgets. Whatever. That is NOT growth.

If you want growth, you would cut regulations and restriction on business. Not invite wholesale rape of the environment, but get rid of the insane bureaucracy. And it is insane. Of course that isn't really what the Left in Europe or in America want. They don't want business to grow. They want government to grow.

If out-of-control government spending resulted in real economic growth, then Greece would look more like Germany. And the same holds true for Spain and Italy.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cheeky Bastards!

You have to love the RAF.... RAF rescue helicopter makes unexpected beach landing - so crew can buy ice cream - Telegraph Heh, they are entitled to a tea break, same as you.
The cheeky crew members were spotted emerging from their aircraft on the sand at Winterton-on-Sea, Norfolk.

Worried beachgoers watched as they headed towards the shoreline and then pop into Winterton Dunes Beach Cafe.

Owner of five years Carmel Shiggins said she had never seen the helicopter land there before.

She said when people asked why they'd landed they didn't believe her. She said: "People had been coming in asking what they were doing, was there an emergency? And I said no, they come in for an ice cream."
They weren't in breach of regulations, since practicing landing on beaches is one of the things they do, while training.

Now That's Funny

Shy Toon Seems quite a few "men" are making it today as models. Beauty who beat hundreds of women to final of modelling competition revealed to be a man - Telegraph
Angkookrat Warangnam beat hundreds of women to make it into the final of a modelling competition - and then shocked organisers by revealing she was a man.
But when the standards of "beauty" don't conform to reality that is the human race, I suppose this shouldn't be too shocking.

I imagine there were quite a few guys who had bad nights once they found out she was a he....

Thursday, May 17, 2012

News Flash: United Nations Completely Useless

There is a "peace keeping" force. They got bombed a day or 2 ago. And there is an arms embargo. (Or there is supposed to be...) Diplomat: Confidential report finds Iran shipping arms to Syria - CNN.com
A confidential U.N. report reveals Iran is exporting arms to the Syrian government in violation of a ban on weapons sales, the same day President Bashar al-Assad blamed the violence in his country on the work of foreign-backed fighters.
I'm shocked - shocked! - to discover the Useless Nitwits at the UN are useless.

Can you imagine that Iran wouldn't listen to the UN?

More Greek Elections - Will People Wait That Long?

Given that deposits in Greek banks might be converted from Euros to Drachmas - if things fall apart - what would you do with your money? The slow-motion run on Greece’s banks - the Financial Times – FT.com
As we reported in today’s dead-tree edition, senior eurozone officials responsible for monitoring the currency area’s banking system said the rate of withdrawals thus far falls short of a panic. But the International Monetary Fund’s recent report on Greece makes it clear that a slow-motion bank run has been under way for more than two years, with close to 30 per cent of deposits being pulled out since the end of 2009.

The IMF report is already a bit out of date, since it was published two months ago, but it still makes for sobering reading. It reported that since the start of 2012, Greek banks had lost 6.4 per cent of their deposits
New elections (2nd set this year) will probably elect a non-austerity government, which will mean Greeks won't get the rest of the bailouts they need, which will probably lead to Greece leaving the Euro and the EU and reinstate the Drachma. And devalue the Drachma.

If you hold Drachmas, and Greece is hit with hyperinflation, you could be left with very little...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0

So what would you do if someone was trying to break into your home? Homeowner Shoots Intruder in the Chest
Captain Barley said when the homeowner opened the door the intruder attempted to hit the person with a club and then the homeowner shot the intruder in the chest. The alleged intruder is currently receiving treatment at Raleigh General Hospital.
That will ruin your day. (Or maybe the rest of your life, but this guy is expected to survive.)

"It came down to either me or him"

This is a case of, "How dare you live without me!" Homeowner shoots intruder: "It came down to either me or him" | Spokane/E. WA - KXLY.com
NEWMAN LAKE, Wash. - A jealous ex-boyfriend broke into the Newman Lake home of his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend early Sunday morning and was shot and killed by the homeowner.
He was armed with a shotgun and a pistol. Only hours before he had been served with a court order of "no contact." That wasn't worth the paper it was written on.

It was his intention to kill his ex and her new partner. Without legal self-defense at least two people would be dead. (Guys like that often - though no always - kill themselves. You think they would just do that first, before they leave home, things would be a little better.)

Since they have the guy on the 911 call threatening that "no one gets out alive," it is a pretty clear case of self-defense, and the sheriff's department is treating it as such.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

California Keeps Spain and Greece Company in the Default Zone

No, they haven't defaulted, but they will probably ask for a bailout... California deficit has soared to $16 billion, Gov. Jerry Brown says - latimes.com In January it was supposed to be $9 billion. Opps. They missed it by 56% and it is only May.
Brown has said there will be even deeper cuts, mostly to public education, if voters do not improve tax hikes in November. He is seeking a quarter-cent increase in the state sales tax for four years and a seven-year hike on incomes of $250,000 or more that will range from 1 to 3 percentage points. He says the measure would raise $9 billion in the upcoming budget year.
Cuts to education (before you get crazy, remember the number of non-teachers in that mix) but no mention of cuts to pensions (current or future) asking folks to pay more for health care (higher deductibles?) or anything that might scare the unions. Though that will come eventually. (All union contacts were re-upped until July of next year. There were important VOTES, and all those union votes were important!)

Taxes of course, to go with the cuts, but I think they will find even more people leaving. And they are leaving.

Hate Crimes and Murder - The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia May 17

When I get so many hits on an old post, that don't seem to come from any one particular place, I have to find out what is going on. It seems the Advocate has an article looking at some past atrocities, that might account for the interest. 12 Crimes That Changed the LGBT World | Advocate.com

Violence against gays, lesbians, and the transgendered is a all too common.
There have been more than 600 reports of murdered trans people in almost 50 countries since January 2008 (including killings this year in Detroit, D.C., Florida, and California), and there was an overall 13% increase (in 2010, the most recently recorded year) in violent crimes committed against LGBT or HIV-positive people, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Some murders are so iconic they’re steeped in popular culture: Brandon Teena, murdered by his rapists in Nebraska in 1993; Angie Zapata, a trans woman killed by a transphobic boyfriend (Zapata’s murderer was later tried on hate crime charges, a first for a transgender victim). But there are others that slip under the radar: some in which victims’ families never find justice — like Martha Oleman, a lesbian killed in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio, in 1997, her murder part of the state’s cold case files — and others in which police action is swift but resolution remains murky.
Some of the names and stories you have heard, such as Mathew Shepard, but others almost no one has heard of. It is a long article - one page for each of the stories (some are about serial killers that commit many crimes) and an introduction - so 13 in all - but most are about single people killed for being who they are.
While all crimes change the world, on the following pages are 12 LGBT crimes that won’t soon be forgotten, serving as a reminder of the enduring violence we face daily.
I won't cover them all, you can click through the link to the article for that, but a few of the ones that you probably haven't heard of follow.

If Only They Would Start Eating Fire...

This reminds me of the Lesbian Avengers. Femen Activists Get Naked to Raise Political Awareness - SPIEGEL ONLINE I know very few of you are interested in the struggle for human rights and women's rights in the former Soviet Union, but this is almost funny. Almost.
The Ukrainian activist group Femen has made headlines around the world by baring their breasts to protest against prostitution, exploitation and corruption. But can their naked stunts change anything, or are they just providing images for a sex-obsessed media?
The Lesbian Avengers did the same thing. And they ate fire. In this case the Ukrainian authorities are being a bit heavy-handed. (No sense of humor.) Hooliganism is a charge left-over from the Khrushchev era, and that is what the Femen are being charged with. Back in the day, the penalties were fairly severe.

Greece Isn't the Only EU country in trouble

Spain is next in line... with a renewed crisis. Spain tries again to restore confidence in banks - BusinessWeek
The government in February told banks to set aside (EURO)50 billion ($64.8 billion) in rainy-day funds to protect them against losses in the property market and elsewhere. Analysts say this could be raised to (EURO)80 billion, and believe the government might also oblige banks to increase provisions for healthy real estate loans.

Because the government is strapped for cash, it has little room to help rescue the country's banks. Fears that public finances might be overwhelmed by bailing out banks have led investors to consider Spain the next most likely European country to need an international bailout.
Banks should be let go under, just like any other business. In the case of Spain, there might not be much choice.

And it isn't only Spain of course... Euro Economy to Shrink as Spain, Italy Re-Enter Recession - Bloomberg
The euro-region economy will return to growth in 2013, with only Spain among its 17 members remaining in recession, according to the European Commission.

Gross domestic product will rise 1 percent in 2013 after declining 0.3 percent in 2012, the Brussels-based commission said today. While Greece will have the deepest slump, with GDP declining 4.7 percent, its economy may stay unchanged in 2013. Italy and Portugal will return to growth next year, while Spain’s economy may shrink 1.8 percent this year and 0.3 percent in 2013.
And while it is always popular - in political circles - to blame the crisis du jour for everything, Europe has been on a downward spiral for a long time.
In the 1970s, their average growth clocked in at 3.2%, in the 80s at 2.5%, in the '90s at 2.2%—and in the '00s, 1.2%. Yes, the 2008 crash was bad for everybody, but Europe is still heading down. This year, growth is likely to end up at an anemic 1%.
Something politicians don't like to talk about.

The French have "punished the markets" in their latest election. Without noting that government debt grew from 35% to 90% of GDP between 1990 and today. (No, that can't be why the county's debt was downgraded! Speculators! Eeeevil Bankers!)

Unemployment in the EU is 11% (much worse in places like Greece). Only Germany seems to be able to avoid this... The German budget is nearly balanced. There were 5 million unemployed a few years ago, today there are 3 million. Why?
Go back nine years, when Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schröder launched his "Agenda 2010." He declared to the Bundestag: "We shall reduce social benefits, promote individual responsibility and demand more from each and all." True to his word, he loosened up labor markets, cut payroll, personal and corporate taxes, and enacted a "workfare" program that egged the unemployed off the dole. Angela Merkel is now reaping what her predecessor sowed—efforts for which he lost his job.
If bloated government, and excess spending was good thing, then Greece would look like Germany, and Germany would look like Greece. But in the real world... that isn't quite the way it works.

Government can't fix things. Not really. Somethings they do very well, but most things are best left to the market. There has been much talk of income inequality. Well the country in Europe that has done the "best" job of reducing income inequality is Greece. Yeah, that's a model to adopt. (And since the folks promoting it are not completely stupid, they have begun talking about Spain as an example.

Still Waiting for the Fat Lady to Sing - in Greece

Who would have thought that a government responsible for an unpopular policy would be voted out of office. Apparently the brain trust running the EU and the European Central Bank never thought that democracy could work like this. BBC News - EU central bankers ponder Greece euro exit

Greece had an election. The people elected haven't been able to form a government however. So the standard guess is that there will be another election.
If no new government is formed, a new election will have to be held, and opinion polls suggest Syriza - a leftist, anti-bailout party - will benefit most. Syriza firmly rejects the terms of the most recent EU-IMF bailout, which requires tough austerity measures in return for loans worth 130bn euros ($170bn; £105bn).
Which is the choice Greeks have always had. Bailout and austerity and continued membership in the EU, OR business as usual, no bailout, and ejection from the EU. (While I am no lawyer, it is my understanding that isn't likely that Greece can exit the Euro legally without bailing on the entire EU. But then the EU and the ECB have been bending a lot of the rules lately.)
On Saturday, German central bank chief Jens Weidmann said: "If Athens doesn't keep its word, it will be a democratic choice.

"The consequence will be that the basis for fresh aid will disappear."

Without financial aid, there is the possibility that Greece will default.

"We're a breath away from the drachma and disaster," liberal Greek daily Kathimerini warned on Saturday, referring to the country's old currency.
I don't know why they keep maintaining the fiction that Greece has NOT defaulted. They have. They did not pay back 100% of the value of the bonds as they promised to do. If I was on the receiving end of that deal, it would look an awful lot like a default to me. But then I don't live in the propaganda universe that is politics.

And while it will certainly be painful if Greece returns to the Drachma, I think it will help them in the long run.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sea Ice - Arctic and Antarctic

The National Snow and Ice Data Center is sponsored by NASA, NOAA, and the NSF. I leave you their latest estimates of sea ice, and the pattern over the past few years. Click on the images below for much larger and more legible versions of the charts.

You can find the full story at Arctic sea ice reaches near-average extent in April � Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis It is hard to be sure of anything aside from the fact that it is within 2 standard deviations of "average." Given that the average is for a very limited 34 year history of readings (compared to all of history), it is hard to put much faith in the average volume. (Or I find it difficult to put faith in such a small sample size, even the 134 years of temperature data available seem small compared to the number of years since the last ice age. Which ended 19,000 to 20,000 years ago.)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Guthroth and the Freedom of Religion

May (or the month of Merrymoon, as it was once known) 9th is the day to remember Guthroth. He was one of the minor Upland Kings of Norway. Norway was still divided into several small kingdoms.

Olaf Tryggvason, Olaf the First, of Norway was busy trying to "unite" the country. This consisted mostly of killing people who didn't want to follow his edict that they convert to Christianity. But he didn't stop at killing.

When Olaf's forces captured Guthroth, Olaf had his tongue cut out. For the crime of worshiping Gods of his choice, or of disagreeing with Olaf. (It can be hard to tell from this vantage point.)

Olaf was later canonized as Saint Olaf. A murdering, torturing SOB? It was all in a good cause.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Mad Science and Real Science

Some real scientists can accurately be described as mad. Michael Brooks: The 7 Cleverest Famous Mad Scientists. They still do real science.

For example: Werner Forssmann
It seems nothing and no one could stop Werner Forssmann from sticking a rubber tube into an artery in his arm and pushing it all the way into his heart.
He did it - over lots of objections - and paved the way for arterial catheter treatment of blocked arteries. He won a Nobel Prize in 1956.

On the use of drugs in research, Kary Mullis used LSD (and other hallucinogens after LSD became illegal) to aid in his thinking about DNA.
Thanks to the psychedelic input, Mullis said he could imagine himself "down there with the molecules", looking at what would need to happen in order for the DNA strands to separate and be copied. He almost certainly wouldn't have had his breakthrough idea without the aid of the drugs, he admitted.
He won a Nobel Prize in 1993.

And my favorite real “Mad Scientist,” Nikola Tesla.
Tesla was the ultimate eccentric genius, best exemplified by his hallucinatory vision of the self-starting electric motor. One afternoon in 1881, he and his friends were in Budapest Park, walking towards the setting sun. Tesla was reciting a few lines of Goethe's poetry when he suddenly went catatonic, staring at the sky. There, he said, he could see a fiery magnetic field being made to rotate by a ring of electromagnets, inside which was a hulk of iron. He blurted out, "See my motor here... watch me reverse it," at which point his friends grabbed him and shook him until he returned to normal (normal for Tesla, at least). Tesla went back to his laboratory and built what he had seen - what is now known as the self-starting alternating current motor. It worked first time.
There is more about others as well.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

This is NOT Self-defense

You can't fire at someone because you are ticked off. Clerk shoots as shoplifter flees, no one hit
Police charged Williams with reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a weapon. He was released on bond.

Williams said he fired the shot as a warning and didn't intend to hit the shoplifter.
You only shoot (at) someone if you want to stop them. Dead. Not as a warning. He narrowly missed a car and the bullet went across the street and into another business.

I am all in favor of self-defense, but shooting someone in the back, who is running away from you, doesn't usually qualify.

Self-defense Still Working in Florida

They haven't stopped self-defense in Florida... Homeowner Shoots At Burglars In DeLand - Orlando News Story - WESH Orlando
Deputies believe two men tried to rob a home on Roxboro Court just after 2 a.m.. A man inside shot at the apparent thieves. One of them was hit in the leg. Investigators said a 37-year-old suspect called 911 from a nearby convenience store, saying he had been shot. The man was taken to Halifax Health Medical Center.
if not for lack of trying. One guy is hurt (and in custody). One guy is on the run. The homeowner is fine. Bad guys versus good guys. Any questions?

No Gays in a Republican Campaign.

Richard Grenell, openly gay Romney aide, resigns after backlash | The Ticket - Yahoo! News He let some witty comments about Hillary and few others go on Twitter. That was too much. (I guess it is only the left that can attack and insult people.) But the real issue was the fact that he was gay.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, took issue with Grenell over his criticism of the Bush administration’s failure to sign a December 2008 U.N. resolution that called for decriminalizing homosexuality across the globe.
Yeah, because it would be just awful if countries stopped executing people for who they loved. Just awful. </sarcasm>

I don't think the social conservatives want to win this election. I think they are having so much fun hating Obama, that they would rather put up with four more years than do anything that even looks like it might not qualify as "turning back the clock" to 1950. Because, hey, if you were a white Christian, 1950 was a pretty good time. Not so much for everyone else.