Monday, November 24, 2014

Waiting

I've told the story before--I had tickets to see Fleetwood Mac in 1982 but the date was cancelled.  I've since since seen all three lead vocalists on solo tours, and a year and a half ago I saw Fleetwood Mac in Las Vegas (minus Christine McVie).

Tonight, 32 years after my first try, I finally get to see Fleetwood Mac.  All five of them.  In concert.

Yes, I'm a little excited!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I've Believed This For Awhile...

I just didn't have any evidence until now:
Two highly qualified Google engineers who have spent years studying and trying to improve renewable energy technology have stated quite bluntly that renewables will never permit the human race to cut CO2 emissions to the levels demanded by climate activists. Whatever the future holds, it is not a renewables-powered civilisation: such a thing is impossible.

Both men are Stanford PhDs, Ross Koningstein having trained in aerospace engineering and David Fork in applied physics. These aren't guys who fiddle about with websites or data analytics or "technology" of that sort: they are real engineers who understand difficult maths and physics, and top-bracket even among that distinguished company. The duo were employed at Google on the (Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal) project, which sought to enhance renewable technology to the point where it could produce energy more cheaply than coal.
For solar, there just aren't enough watts per square meter falling in the earth to make it viable.  I've never believed wind or other such technologies would be able to power our society.  Cheap, reliable, relatively-non-polluting nuclear energy, on the other hand....

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Over The Hill

In WWII, pilots who flew over the Himalayas referred to the route as "over the hump".

In the United States, it's not uncommon to refer to England in particular, and to Europe in general, as "across the pond".

In the old army, if you went AWOL you were referred to as going "over the wall".

In Northern California, crossing the Sierra to get into Nevada is going "over the hill".  And that's what I did today.

My mother's birthday was this past week and she wanted to spend the weekend in Reno, so a bunch of friends and family made the trek today.

At 2:55 I crossed Donner Summit; the thermometer on my dash read 35 degrees.  A few minutes later I was in Truckee with a sky full of rain clouds but with glimpses of clear blue sky.  There was light rain most of the trip through the mountains but no problems at all.

It's been mostly cold and dry here in Reno.  Now I get to enjoy the weekend....

Friday, November 21, 2014

Does Italy Not Want Tourists Anymore?

Combine this with Rome's ban on having a seat and eating and you have to wonder if they really do or not:
For years Venice has battled the effects of rising waters on its historic architecture, but now it's facing a new threat -- wheeled suitcases.

City officials have become so tired with the cacophony of rumbling luggage they're introducing fines of up to 500 euros ($620) for anyone caught using one.


The move, due to come into effect in May 2015, is likely to create a headache for many of 22 million who annually visit the city and need to cart bags to hotels in car-free streets.
I know what let's do, let's kill us that goose that lays the golden eggs!

Update, 11/25/14:  Maybe they're taking a step back towards sanity:
It seems that tourists visiting Venice can still bring their wheelie suitcases, at least for the time being...

But after opposition to the proposed law—which would reportedly see charges as much as 500 euros ($620) on travelers, the city is backtracking on the proposal.
The only place in Venice with cars is the port:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Took Test #4 Today

The current class I'm taking is Discrete Optimization, and I'm probably enjoying this particular course more than I've ever joined any other math class.  I love the topic--but there's so much to learn!

I turned the test in today highly confident of a great grade.  It just occurred to me a few minutes ago, though, that one answer will probably get dinged because I wasn't detailed enough.  The lack of detail was "duh!", but it's still important to justify the rest of what I wrote.  If I were grading it I'd take points off; under pressure of a test, though, it just didn't occur to me to include that simple but important information.

Each test I've taken in this course my grade has gone down; I was on track to get 90% on this one.  Right now I'm thinking that I'll be satisfied if I merely beat that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Shirtstorm

I've stayed mostly out of the Shirtstorm discussion until I could find something to quote with which I could agree, and this is it:
The European Space Agency made history when their Philae lander touched down onto a comet. This was a major accomplishment, not just for science, but for humanity. The comet, 67P, is only 2.5 miles wide and can travel tens of thousands of miles per hour.


But unfortunately — albeit also unsurprisingly — feminazis cared not a whit about what an incredible achievement this was, and zeroed in on one thing: the shirt that Dr. Matt Taylor was wearing in an interview:
matt taylor
The shirt is clearly famous women in science fiction, such as the 50 Foot Tall Woman and Wonder Woman — and was made for Taylor by a female friend of his. But because the shirt had women sort of scantily clad, it was apparently unacceptable — and the Atlantic writer Rose Eveleth kicked off the feminazi mob...

The femisogynists talk constantly about how women are so interested in science, technology, and engineering, but when there is a major, groundbreaking story involving those exact subjects, the only thing they can do is whine about how a shirt hurt their feelings...

A woman that actually was strong and empowered wouldn’t act like a Victorian-era woman fainting because they saw too much skin somewhere. And they’re hypocrites about it too, considering that they organize Slutwalks and encourage women to dress as skankily as possible — but heaven forbid a man wear a shirt that they don’t approve of...

It almost makes me embarrassed to be a woman — but then I remember that only about a third of all American women identify with these raving lunatics, and I feel so much better. No wonder they have to invent reasons to be offended. It must be hard to realize that you’re utterly irrelevant. 
I admit it, I disagree with the last sentence.  One-third of American women agree with these harpies?  That's not an insignificant fraction at all, so they're not irrelevant.  The fact that they could ruin the celebration of a recent major scientific success shows they're not irrelevant.  Disgusting and clueless, yes, but not yet irrelevant.

UC To Increase Tuition and Fees (Again)

It's hard for me to feel sorry for these particular students:
With the University of California regents scheduled to start debate Wednesday on proposed tuition hikes that could total 25 percent over five years, hundreds of UC Davis students protested Tuesday in what has become a familiar ritual on public campuses around the state in recent years.

The demonstration marked the third anniversary of the notorious UC Davis pepper spraying incident, which occurred on Nov. 18, 2011, during a protest on the campus quad by students upset about the increasing expense of a UC education.

“Three years later, it’s kind of demoralizing. Here we are again,” said Armando Figueroa, president of Associated Students, University of California, Davis. 
My first reason for a lack of sympathy is simple--I'd bet most of them are fans of big government and think Obamacare is going to "control" health care costs and improve the lives of all Americans.  I could be wrong, but if you've ever been to Davis, aka Berkeley-lite, you know I'm probably not.  And their education is provided courtesy of big government.

My second reason was discussed on this blog earlier this year.  (By the way, here's the outcome of that event.)

A Physicist Talks About Global Warming


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I Hope They Win This Suit

I believe in merit:
Affirmative action policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have been challenged in court.

A lawsuit against Harvard alleges the university limits the number of Asian-Americans it admits each year, arguing that white, black, and Hispanic applicants are given racial preferences over better qualified Asian-American applicants.
If our universities get more Asian and less white/black/brown, what do I care? I believe that the primary purpose of universities is to educate, and the people who show the most potential for education should be the ones let in.  I'm not one to concern myself with skin color in this or just about any other situation.

Merit.  It's the scores, baby.

Why I'm Not Convinced Anthropogenic Global Warming Is Real

I've written about Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, several times, and I agree with him here as well:
I changed my mind…this past February, Patrick Moore, a Canadian ecologist, and the co-founder of Greenpeace, the militant environmental group told members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee “
There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years.”
There are more like Moore.
There are plenty of other reasons at the link above to be skeptical about the Church of Global Warming.

Monday, November 17, 2014

How Great Is Obamacare?

It's so great that they had to lie to get it passed, they screwed up the rollout, and it's wildly unpopular:
Support for Obamacare continues to decline, with the law hitting a new low in approval, and a new high in disapproval, as the second enrollment period has opened for Americans, according to Gallup.

Just 37 percent approve of the Affordable Care Act, 1 percentage point less than the previous low recorded in January, Gallup found in a new survey released Monday.

The pollster notes the approval results are a “new numerical low” for Obamacare...

The Gallup poll was conducted Nov.6-9 and surveyed 828 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Good job, Democrats.

From the embedded link to Gallup:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Six and Counting

By now you've heard of Jon Gruber, the MIT economist who has bragged about getting Obamacare passed by tricking and lying to the public.  He says he "misspoke", but he didn't "misspeak" once, or twice, or even three times, but six times that we know of with evidence:
Jake Tapper of CNN uncovered another video where Gruber celebrates his subterfuge — this time, in hiding whom the so-called “Cadillac Tax” on employee based insurance plans would hit...

The level of cynicism and arrogance it takes to pull this off is astonishing. You want to reach into the video and wipe that supercilious smirk off his face as he gleefully recounts how he bamboozled Americans.

Republicans should call this jerk to testify and then make him squirm by playing back each and every video.
Video links are embedded in the story above.

Hold on there, you say.  Who is this guy?  What relationship with the White House does/did he have?  If he's not affiliated with the White House or the Democratic Party, what he says is irrelevant.  And I'd agree with that.  That's why I offer this link from WhiteHouse.gov, and the following screen shot:

President Obama is trying, and failing, to distance himself from Gruber:
"The fact that an adviser who was never on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is not a reflection on the actual process that was run," Obama told reporters at a news conference following the G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia.

Obama was responding to a recently discovered videotape featuring Jonathan Gruber, an MIT professor and outside adviser of health care. Gruber said the Obama administration obscured the financing of the law in order to get it passed...

From Politico:
"While Gruber was not a staffer, he was a paid consultant whose models were used to help assess the impact of various policy changes being considered as part of health care legislation. Official logs show he visited the White House about a dozen times between 2009 and this year.  (boldface mine--Darren)

"Despite Obama's dismissive tone toward Gruber, the president has acknowledged that some of his own statements about the law were ill-advised, in particular his repeated promises that if Americans liked their health care plans they could keep them. In fact, many plans were deemed inadequate under the law, leading people to get notices that their plans were being canceled."
The contempt in which they hold the public is obvious, it's strong, and it's disgusting.  This story is further evidence that going back to the very beginning of the Obama Administration there has been nothing but lies, lack of transparency, and naked partisanship in the pursuit of ideological goals.

This is what you get when you elect someone based not on accomplishments but merely on skin color.  You get someone not up to the job.  It's even worse when you elect a Marxist with no moral compass.  Top it off by electing a narcissist.

The Best and Brightest

I used to have a friend who was very bright, one of the top two or three people I've known.  Because of that, though, he had a certain snobbery about the general public, and believed that "smart" people should run government, and if "smart" people ran government we'd have good government and a good society.  Essentially, he was of the paternalistic "we (smart people) know better what's good for you" mold.  Didn't Kennedy and Johnson and McNamara have something to say about "the best and brightest", and if so, what do they have to show for it?

It was the historical "best and brightest" I was thinking about when I read this opinion piece from the Boston Herald (all boldface mine):
So here’s this geeky nerd, overeducated, greedy, pompous, thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room while simultaneously engineering a public-policy disaster of the first magnitude — and not only is he from Massachusetts, he’s from Cambridge.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Why is it that Massachusetts produces so many of these “pointedy-headed intellectuals who can’t park a bicycle straight,” as the late Democrat George C. Wallace used to say?

Do you realize that every last one of the many disasters that has befallen this nation in the last half-century can be traced right back here to the banks of the Charles River?

C’mon down, Jonathan Gruber, economics professor at MIT. He’s the moonbat who, after engineering the ongoing fiasco that is Obamacare, then took a nationwide victory lap in which he repeatedly described the American people as “too stupid” to realize the Democrats were destroying their health care.

Maybe he’s right about our stupidity. After all, he cashed in $392,000 worth of federal no-bid contracts to wreck the best health care system in the world, plus another $1.6 million or so in various state wrecking-ball contracts.

This goober, I mean Gruber, now says that when he sneered about how stupid Americans are, he made a mistake. Oddly, he made the same “mistake” five times (and counting). When you say something publicly five times, it’s part of your stump speech.

The Unaffordable Care Act — from the same Beautiful People who gave you Vietnam, the War on Poverty, the Immigration Reform Act of 1965, global warming, SSI, busing, gay marriage and gender reassignment.
This is why I'm a conservative who believes in "governing best by governing least".

Oh, The Irony.

Isn't it time to have a wall of separation between universities and athletics?  Do athletic programs provide some benefit that I as a taxpayer should support?  Let the pro-sports leagues have their own farm league teams so there's no more reason to have academic scandals like those at UNC and now Dartmouth:
Forty three students at Dartmouth College have been "implicated in an academic dishonesty case" in an ethics course, student newspaper The Dartmouth reports.

According to The Dartmouth, the 43 students allegedly skipped class, but got other students to sign in for them and answer questions using an electronic clicker. "Each clicker is registered with one student, who gains points for submitting answers to certain in-class questions," The Dartmouth reports.

The course — "Sports, Ethics and Religion" — is taught by Dartmouth religion professor Randall Balmer and is the largest course at the college this term, with 272 students. "Attendance and participation account for about 15% of a student's grade in the class," The Dartmouth reports.

Balmer told The Dartmouth that the course is specifically designed for student athletes. According to the newspaper, about 68% of the students enrolled in "Sports, Ethics and Religion" are Dartmouth varsity athletes.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Oh Those Wacky Canadians

This morning I walked a little over two miles from my home to a nearby high school.  Our Saturday morning training, for which I'll be paid a pittance (I've heard rumors of its being paid at my "daily rate" but I'll believe that when I see it), was conducted by a very well-spoken Canadian named Myron Dueck.  Nice guy, good stories, thought-provoking ideas.

He seems to conduct a lot of record-keeping and various other administrative tasks regarding grading.  That's my first turn-off, right there--I'm not interested in doing more record-keeping.  But whatever, he has some interesting ideas that maybe I can do something with.

But the cynic in me paid attention, and one of his first stories was odd.  He talked about how his wife "doesn't trust" microwave ovens, and got rid of theirs.  And she didn't like teflon either--"it's a kind of plastic, so we end up eating plastic"--so she got rid of their teflon pans.  They got stainless steel pans, but the eggs and pancakes stuck to them.  He got on the YouTube and found this workaround:  heat up coconut oil in the pan until it steams, then scrub the oil pan with salt.  He said the pan got clean and the eggs no longer stick.  Here's what I got out of that story:  his wife kept making "improvements" and he kept having to find work-arounds.  Isn't that an analogy for what goes on in education?

Anyway, I'm not here to bag on the man.  As I said, I enjoy listening to him speak.  And he doesn't just spout platitudes, he has some interesting ideas (especially if you love additional record-keeping!).  But what I really paid attention to was his speech itself.  Isn't it a kick how Canadians pronounce certain words?!

Here's one that's funny to me.  He'll pronounce "product" as "prah-duct", the same way as I do.  But he pronounces "process" as "proh-cess", and "progress" as "proh-gress".  Why the short "o" in the first word but a long "o" in the latter two?  Where did that difference come from?

Everyone knows about "oot" and "aboot" for "out" and "about".  Those are easy.  But I've heard too many Canadians say "figger" for "figure" that I think it's a thing, not just a slang.  Also, Canadians aren't "saw-ry" when they do something wrong, they're "sore-ry".  And they haven't "bin" up north, they've "been" (bean) up north.  And while I would refer to some of his blank documents as "tem-plets", he very clearly calls them "tem-plates".

I enjoy some of the different words they use, as well.  What I would call a "parking garage" or a "parking structure", Canadians call a "parkade"--a very efficient, utilitarian word.  He also referred to "9th graders" as "Grade 9's".  I wonder how many other such terms I didn't even catch.

So all in all I wasn't bored at all.  I paid attention, got an idea or two to try, and got plenty of material for a blog post.  All in all, not bad.