Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Living, breathing man will remain dead in the eyes of Ohio law"

(CNN) -- An Ohio man who has been legally dead since 1994 will remain so in the eyes of the law after losing his complaint to overturn his death filing, according to authorities.

Donald Miller, 61, testified Monday that he disappeared in 1986 after losing his job, leaving behind a wife, two children and thousands of dollars of unpaid child support, according to James Hammer, the attorney for Miller's ex-wife, Robin Miller. He was declared legally dead eight years later.
Donald Miller said he returned to Ohio "around 2005" with no knowledge of his legal death, and that he had hoped to reestablish his Social Security number.
A legal statute in Ohio prevents changes to death rulings once three years have passed, Hammer told CNN, and Judge Allan Davis ruled accordingly in Hancock County Probate Court.
"In over 40 years, I've never come across a case like this," the judge told CNN.
"In the end though, because of the statute, it was a pretty open-and-shut case."
CNN via Instapundit, who sais "Well, that's one way of getting out of Obamacare"

Problem: tractor stuck in mud

Street Fair at East Rutherford NJ, earlier Today


Fracking Farts Pose No Threat To Global Warming

Measurements Of Methane Emissions At Natural Gas Production Sites In The United States
This work reports direct measurements of methane emissions at 190 onshore natural gas sites in the United States.* The measurements indicate that well completion emissions are lower than previously estimated; the data also show emissions from pneumatic controllers and equipment leaks are higher than Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) national emission projections. Estimates of total emissions are similar to the most recent EPA national inventory of methane emissions from natural gas production. These measurements will help inform policymakers, researchers, and industry, providing information about some of the sources of methane emissions from the production of natural gas, and will better inform and advance national and international scientific and policy discussions with respect to natural gas development and use.
*Hydraulic fracking sites
The news is controversial but is beginning to form a broader consensus that fracking is not harmful to the planet. The amount of emitted methane, 0.42% of total production, is close to the EPA's estimate of 0.47% but far below the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's estimates of 6-12%. The levels estimated by the latter would cause significant climate effects while the latest results and the EPA's own results say no.

Garden sources


I came across this great site for bulbs. Colorblends mixes and matches tulip combinations, as well as offering single colors. The prices seem really reasonable, but since I've never ordered bulbs in bulk, I don't know. The picture shows one of my favorite combos. Please share your favorite online catalogs with us.

Tell me

Does this work?
no free polls 

The Sartorialist

'ObamaCare sends confusing enrollment information to insurers'

"The federal health-care exchange that opened a dozen days ago is marred by snags beyond the widely publicized computer gridlock that has thwarted Americans trying to buy a health plan."
The problems stem from a feature of the online marketplace’s computer system that is designed to send each insurer a daily report listing people who have just enrolled. According to several insurance industry officials, the reports are sometimes confusing and duplicative. In some cases, they show — correctly or not — that the same person enrolled and canceled several times on a single day."

The ability of consumers to sign up for a health plan, and the ability of the insurers to know who they are covering, is key to the success of the federal law that will for the first time require most Americans to have health insurance starting Jan. 1."

“It’s a glitch that . . . needs to be fixed,” said a spokesman for the plan, who, like most insurers interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid antagonizing the Obama administration."

James Turner, a software engineer from Derry, N.H., said he has spent seven hours since Oct. 2 trying to enroll but keeps encountering issues that make have made it impossible for him to complete the application. Turner, 51, one of a number of software engineers who have written online critiques of the system, said the most infuriating one involves his wife. According to the system, he said, “I have four spouses.”
He said it has been impossible to delete the phantom family members from his profile."

Washington Post

All in the family

"Pemberton Park is purpose-built for grandparents raising youngsters in so-called “skipped generation” families. Its publicly subsidised apartments are reserved for those over 55 or under 21. Like most retirement homes it is a matriarchy: of its 36 households, all but three are headed by women. The complex opened in 2011, joining about a dozen similar projects across America, from the Bronx to Arizona. More are expected."

"Pemberton Park, an apartment complex in Kansas City, Missouri, caters to such families. The hush of the retirement home hangs over its brightly lit corridors and snail-slow lifts. Yet there are signs of youth everywhere: Girl Scout notices in the activity room, pop-star posters on apartment walls. Local donors have dropped off food to feed growing bodies: sacks of apples, pallets of yogurts, gallons of fruit juice. There is a computer lab, a children’s library and, outside, a playground, regularly patrolled to keep drug dealers away. The complex has a part-time social worker, charged with everything from mediating school disputes to overseeing a sexual-abstinence programme for teenagers."

This is similar to the Green House Project:

"In a typical Green House Project home, each elder has his or her own private room and bathroom. Homes typically also include a living room, kitchen and open dining area.[12] The homes are built to blend in with surrounding houses and neighborhoods. The Green House Project model allows for urban, rural and suburban style homes.
Residents do not have strict schedules and are encouraged to interact with staff and other residents, plus visitors (pets and family members). Staff members and residents develop personal relationships with one another because of the small community and home atmosphere.[13]

Staff members in Green House Project homes are broken up into four different roles: the Shabaz, the Guide, the Sage and the Clinical Support Team.[14] The Shahbaz is the versatile worker who provides personal care, prepares meals and performs housekeeping for the elders. The Guide is the supervisor of the Shahbaz and is responsible for the operations of the home. The Sage is a local elder who volunteers to be a mentor and advisor to the work teams in The Green House Project home. The Clinical Support Team comprises nurses, therapists, services, activities and dietary professionals who work with the Shahbaz to provide individualized care for each elder."

"Activists block buses, shut down immigration court in Tucson"

Immigrant rights activists said Friday they shut down a court in Tucson, Ariz., preventing authorities from processing illegal immigrants who were to be sentenced to jail and eventually deported.

The activists had chained themselves to bus tires and to the court entrance early Friday morning and had been there for three and a half hours just after noon local time.

They said they’d been told the court canceled its proceedings for the day as a result of their protest.

“Anyone who witnesses Operation Streamline will come away convinced that it is both unconstitutional and immoral,” said activist Roberto Cintli Rodriguez. “There is no justice in that courtroom. It violates every principle the U.S. claims to ascribe to. When humanity is confronted with unjust laws, it is our responsibility to challenge them.”

Friday’s move was a precursor to next week, when the activists plan to try to shut down the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Phoenix.

The Washington Times

Star Trek Into Darkness

Friday, October 11, 2013

Coming Home

k d lang - Coming Home

Comedian Crashes Ted Talks

"Comedian Sam Hyde took advantage of some pretty lax vetting last weekend at Drexel University’s independently organized TEDx speaker series. Posing as a documentary filmmaker and journalist fresh off a trip from war-torn Mogadishu, Hyde hijacked the conference and delivered what is basically an amazing 20 minute indictment of the popular thought leadership lecture series."

via BuzzFeed

When Negotiating Becomes Impassé

From an email by Darrell Issa to his constituents:

This is not the first time that our country has had a divided government or experienced a shutdown due to disagreements between the President and congressional leaders of opposing parties.  However, in prior instances, both the President and respective leaders have found ways to engage in regular discussions to resolve issues. 
President Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich were fierce opponents publically, as were President Reagan and Speaker Tip O'Neill, but they always found ways to work together to advance our nation's interests and their respective policy agendas. 
What's different today is that President Obama has repeatedly and preemptively announced his refusal to negotiate with congressional leaders about operations of the federal government or the level of spending under his Administration. 
Congress has a constitutional responsibility and authority to oversee federal spending and the Executive Branch’s execution of the law, including addressing our nation’s unsustainable debt levels and the problems associated with ObamaCare and its implementation.   
The President himself has acknowledged some of the failures of ObamaCare by granting waivers to big business, big labor and other special interests, but insists on leaving individual Americans and families exposed to its serious flaws. He has granted these waivers unilaterally even though they are neither authorized by law nor consistent with his enumerated powers in the Constitution.
The solution is to negotiate, not hunker down.


Eggplant Slice

"Vatican Misspells Jesus’ Name on Papal Medal"

Engraved with the Latin phrase that the pope says inspired him to join the priesthood as a young man, Italy’s state mint misspelled the name of Jesus, calling the son of God Lesus instead.

The medals, of which 6,000 were pressed in silver and bronze and another 200 in gold, have now been recalled. The design included a portrait of Pope Francis on the obverse and on the reverse a work by the artist Mariangela Crisciotti.

The phrase it the pope’s motto. It means, “Jesus, therefore, saw the publican, and because he saw by having mercy and by choosing, He said to him, ‘Follow me.’”

ABC News

Fearful Streaking 15 year old Commits Suicide

"A popular 15-year-old student has committed suicide after he reportedly faced expulsion and could have been placed on the sex offenders' register simply for streaking at a high school football game.
Christian Adamek, from Huntsville, Alabama, hanged himself on October 2, a week after he was arrested for running naked across the Sparkman High football field during a game."
 A video of Adamek streaking during a game against a rival team was posted on YouTube hours after the event and students took to Twitter to call him a 'legend'."
His mother, Angela, thanked her son's friends and said they could learn from his life, reported."
'Remember to smile, don't be afraid to do something goofy and remember the consequences of those actions, ask for help when you need it, ask for help if you think your friends need it if you don't know what to do, be quirky, be happy, be smart,' she said."
MailOnline via Drudge Tweet

"The word "leader" appears in the Federalist Papers 13 times"

"George Will Compares This Budget Deadlock To Past Conflicts"

INSKEEP: What do you think of President Obama's argument that the Republican strategy here, which some Republicans have described as focusing on crisis points - what do you think of the president's argument that that's changing the constitutional arrangement somewhat, trying to make one part of one house dictate the terms?


INSKEEP: You're shaking your head.

WILL: This is the Madisonian scheme. Each institution shall be the jealous asserter of its prerogatives and try to maximize its power. I sometimes think that when he was at Harvard Law School, Mr. Obama cut class the day they got to the separation of powers, 'cause he seems to consider it not just an inconvenience but an indignity that although he got 270 electoral votes and therefore gets to be president, he didn't get everything. The Madisonian scheme is for the government to be hard to move. It's supposed to be. People look at Washington and say, oh gosh, this is so difficult. It's supposed to be difficult.


Mauna Kea

Good Heavens. Full screen is cool.

This is on the island of Hawaii. It says 14,000 feet and that is quite high, just try hiking it. The YouTube description does not mention there is more mountain underwater than above sea-level and altogether the mountain is 33,000 feet, more than twice the height of Mt. Everest base-to-peak.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"I think Tom Hanks did a great job,"

AFP - A captain whose high seas kidnapping is the focus of a new Hollywood movie gave the production a thumbs up on Thursday -- but noted the real thing was "much worse."

After a failed bid to take the entire crew hostage, the pirates seized Phillips instead, holding him in a lifeboat for several days until US Navy SEALS came to the rescue.

The hair-raising encounter, which played out in real time, has now made it to the big screen, with "Captain Phillips" hitting theaters Friday.

"I really felt it was important to maintain and be a person ... you have to make sure they see you as a human and not just a lump of flesh," he said.

"Of course if you put anybody in a small enclosed lifeboat, relationships will ensue, good or bad," he said. "There are times we laughed with each other -- there's times we laughed or better yet sneered."

In real life, Phillips' story is not quite as clear-cut as on screen -- a number of crew members have sued him for allegedly ignoring warnings to stay further away from the Somali coast, thereby negligently endangering their lives.


"White vaginas banned for Ivy League production of Vagina Monologues"

"At this year’s edition of “The Vagina Monologues” jointly staged by Columbia University and Barnard College, the producers have outlawed the vaginas of white students."

The producers unanimously chose to ban white people and their vaginas from participating in the episodic play because they believe white women have been over-represented in past performances, reports The College Fix. They say white women are over-represented in mainstream feminist discourse as well."

Auditions are Wednesday, Oct. 9th for the segregated, separate-but-equal production of “The Vagina Monologues” to be staged by the two prestigious Manhattan schools."

Daily Caller

"New York restaurant has no-talking menu"

"The latest in New York City dining? Eating in silence."
A restaurant in Brooklyn's trendy Greenpoint neighborhood is serving up a four-course meal of organic, locally-sourced food, but isn't allowing any chit-chat. Editor-in-Chief Tanya Steel says the silent eating experience sounds like yet another facet of the sensory-dining eating out fad. Some restaurants offer diners the chance to consume in the dark. Other gastronomical joints feature the ability to consume not just the food - but the menu on which it is described.
After having discussions with president Obama regarding the government shutdown and the raising of the national debt ceiling, the republicans quietly slipped out of the white house a short time ago.

Inexpensive decorating

Go easy on this gal. I love her positive, can-do attitude, and there is something so charming about young women who are happy with themselves. Do you have any design-on-a-dime ideas?

Boehner is playing with a good hand

House Republican leaders said Thursday they will offer a temporary increase in the federal debt ceiling in exchange for negotiations with President Obama on longer-term “pressing problems,” but they stopped short of agreeing to end a government shutdown now in its 10th day. (italics mine)

In a news briefing following a closed-door meeting of House Republicans to present a plan to raise the debt limit for six weeks, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said, “What we want to do is offer the president today the ability to move a temporary increase in the debt ceiling.” He described the offer, to be presented to Obama in a White House meeting with House Republicans on Thursday afternoon, as a “good-faith effort on our part to move halfway to what he’s demanded in order to have these conversations begin.”

Obama is “happy” that House Republicans agree a federal debt default is not an option, but he would prefer a longer extension of the debt limit, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Boehner did not immediately provide specifics of the plan. But the speaker made clear that House Republicans are not agreeing to Obama’s demand that they pass legislation to fund the government with no partisan strings attached, thereby ending the first government shutdown in 17 years.

Asked about the shutdown, Boehner said, “That’s a conversation we’re going to have with the president today.”

Washington Post

The difficulty of finding out what we don't know

A snippet of a long Wired article "Scientific Data Has Become So Complex, We Have to Invent New Math to Deal With It"
Topological methods are a lot like casting a two-dimensional shadow of a three-dimensional object on the wall: they enable us to visualize a large, high-dimensional data set by projecting it down into a lower dimension. The danger is that, as with the illusions created by shadow puppets, one might be seeing patterns and images that aren’t really there. (italics mine)
“There’s a terrible math joke that topologists can’t tell the difference between their rear end and a coffee cup because the two are topologically equivalent,” said Benjamin Recht, a computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley who says it is so far unclear when TDA works and when it might not. The technique rests on the assumption that a high-dimensional big data set has an intrinsic low-dimensional structure, and that it is possible to discover that structure mathematically. Recht believes that some data sets are intrinsically high in dimension and cannot be reduced by topological analysis. “If it turns out there is a spherical cow lurking underneath all your data, then TDA would be the way to go,” he said. “But if it’s not there, what can you do?” And if your dataset is corrupted or incomplete, topological methods will yield similarly flawed results. 

Cancer coverage under ACA?

Negative Nelly that I am, my biggest concern about ACA is how cancer coverage will go. I have visions of not being able to get cutting edge treatment if under the wrong coverage. On the other hand, even with the right coverage, I foresee increased peril due to the decreased number of medical professionals (proportionately and in absolute numbers) and the computerization of medical records, leading to delayed care with a greater possibility of error in treatment...bearing in mind the track record isn't too fab now. Here is some thoughts from the American Cancer Society  on ACA:

"1) More cancer survivors can now get care - High-risk pools have been established in every state to provide coverage for the uninsured.  The program launched on July 1st and is providing immediate access to coverage for people in every state who have been uninsured for six months or more and have cancer or another pre-existing condition.
2) No more “doughnut holes” - The Affordable Care Act is finally closing the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole”.  Immediately after enactment, the law provided a $250 rebate to seniors who hit the coverage gap in Medicare’s prescription drug program.  In addition, Medicare beneficiaries will receive discounts on brand-name drugs next year, and the coverage gap will be closed completely by 2020.
3) “The kids are all right” – Mantra from the old song by The Who can be applied here.  Health plans will be prohibited from denying coverage to children up to age 19 with pre-existing conditions such as cancer.  So if you have a child who is a survivor you will no long have to worry about their insurance if you change jobs.  
4) The well won't run dry - Health plans will be banned from setting lifetime dollar limits on coverage, ensuring that people with cancer have access to needed care throughout their lifetimes. Annual dollar limits on coverage will be tightly restricted for most plans and will be eliminated altogether in 2014. Patients will no longer have to put off treatments waiting for the new plan year to start.
5) In sickness and in health – Just like marriage, your health plan now takes a vow to you when they take your business.  As of this week, health insurers will be barred from dropping people from coverage when they get sick.  In other words, you can’t lose your insurance for developing cancer.
6) Prevention, prevention prevention – Also new this week, coverage will be guaranteed and out-of-pocket costs will be eliminated in new insurance plans for proven preventive services, giving people access to lifesaving screenings for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer." 

"California legislature approves non-physician abortions"

LOS ANGELES — Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday expanded access to abortion in California, signing a bill to allow nurse practitioners, midwives and physician assistants to perform a common type of the procedure, an aspiration abortion, during the first trimester.

[T]he new California law goes further, allowing a wider range of nonphysician practitioners to perform surgical abortions. While other states have passed a tide of laws restricting abortion access, California has gone against the political tide.

“We are trending in a different direction, and we’re very proud of it,” said Toni Atkins, the state assemblywoman who wrote the bill. “California has a strong history of support for reproductive health care for women.” She said women in rural parts of the state had trouble finding an abortion provider.

“This is an issue of accessibility,” Ms. Atkins said. “California is a very large state, and more than half the counties don’t have an abortion provider.”
“Abortion is a serious medical procedure with vast complications, and I would argue that only the best-trained should conduct such an operation,” said Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber. “It has direct and profound impact on lives: the mother and the baby — and there is a baby.”
Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, said legalized abortion was supposed to end the days when women’s lives were put at risk. Yet he said Atkins’ bill would allow the procedures by providers who have less training and in clinics without sufficient backup if there are complications."

We paid $634 m for Obamacare websites that dont work

It’s been one full week since the flagship technology portion of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) went live. And since that time, the befuddled beast that is has shutdown, crapped out, stalled, and mis-loaded so consistently that its track record for failure is challenged only by Congress.

The site itself, which apparently underwent major code renovations over the weekend, still rejects user logins, fails to load drop-down menus and other crucial components for users that successfully gain entrance, and otherwise prevents uninsured Americans in the 36 states it serves from purchasing healthcare at competitive rates –’s primary purpose. The site is so busted that, as of a couple days ago, the number of people that successfully purchased healthcare through it was in the “single digits,” according to the Washington Post.

Given the complicated nature of federal contracts, it’s difficult to make a direct comparison between the cost to develop and the amount of money spent building private online businesses. But for the sake of putting the monstrous amount of money into perspective, here are a few figures to chew on: Facebook, which received its first investment in June 2004, operated for a full six years before surpassing the $600 million mark in June 2010. Twitter, created in 2006, managed to get by with only $360.17 million in total funding until a $400 million boost in 2011. Instagram ginned up just $57.5 million in funding before Facebook bought it for (a staggering) $1 billion last year. And LinkedIn and Spotify, meanwhile, have only raised, respectively, $200 million and $288 million.

Digital Trends

"Astronomers say they've spotted lonesome planet without a sun"

"Such free-floaters have been reported before, but in the past, it hasn't always been clear whether these were orphaned planets or failed stars. This time, the scientists say they're sure it's a planet."

[T]eam leader Michael Liu of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa said in a news release. "It has all the characteristics of young planets found around other stars, but it is drifting out there all alone. I had often wondered if such solitary objects exist, and now we know they do."

Gravitational perturbations may have kicked PSO J318.5-22 out of its planetary cradle soon after it was born, or it may have been formed by a different method. Either way, Niall Deacon of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, a co-author of the study, said PSO J318.5-22 should help scientists get a better understanding of other planets that aren't quite as lonely.

“Planets found by direct imaging are incredibly hard to study, since they are right next to their much brighter host stars," Deacon said in the news release. "PSO J318.5-22 is not orbiting a star, so it will be much easier for us to study. It is going to provide a wonderful view into the inner workings of gas-giant planets like Jupiter shortly after their birth.”

NBC News

Sarah Hall Ingram

I do not trust her. But somehow I do. No I don't. But somehow I do. No I don't.

It's the shifting, first here, then there, first stomping on the necks of conservatives using position within government department, but oh no, that was after she already shifted to oversee healthcare compliance. Others shift to leave with pay and others shift to retirement. 


Nicked from b3ta's front page.

I love that show. I saw the British version a few times. People come in with very odd things and I'm sitting there thinking, "They're bringing in teacups older than my country."

by member Ninj

2013 Chemistry Nobel: Theory Guides, Experiment Decides

The 2013 Chemistry Nobel Prize went to three men, allegedly for "taking chemistry to cyberspace," in other words, understanding and predicting chemistry using computer simulation, or doing chemistry in silico as compared to in vivo and in vitro (I prefer in vino myself). By analogy, call the climate the real world and its modeling in silico. The modelers know,  just as the climate modelers do, that it's possible in theory to solve for all the variables; it's just a question of putting the right ones into the calculations.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

“Who knew he was going to run for mayor?”

"After an Introduction by de Blasio, a Brooklyn Hospital Hired His Wife"

"Ms. Brier said that Mr. de Blasio had introduced her to his wife “at some social event” and that she learned from Ms. McCray that a job she had with Citigroup had not worked out and that she was looking for a new one. “He didn’t say, ‘Here’s my wife, hire her,’” Ms. Brier said. But she said that she was immediately impressed with Ms. McCray because, “she seemed so capable, so grounded,” because she had speech writing experience under former Mayor David N. Dinkins, and because the hospital needed more minorities in administrative-level positions."

“I’m the one who wanted to recruit her,” Ms. Brier said, adding that she likes to have women employees around her when possible. “I said, ‘Of course, I have no job for you. But I could probably invent one.’ I do that a lot.”

NY Times via Mikéy Ramoné @ThePantau

Feel Good Story of the Day

With many government operations shuttered by the political standoff in Washington, [Chris] Cox took a lawn mower to the National Mall this week and began cutting grass areas between the Lincoln and World War II memorials.

""These are our memorials. Do they think that we're just going to let them go to hell?''

Cox carried a blue South Carolina state flag as he pushed a standard gasoline-powered mower. He is a native of Mount Pleasant, S.C., living just outside Washington in Alexandria, Va.

"If they shut down our memorials, we're still going to take the trash out, we're going to clean the windows, we're going to cut the grass, we're going to pull the weeds, we're going to do the tree work,'' he said.

"He bought a lawn mower, a blower and told me [Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C] he had spent the days and evenings since our visit picking up trash, cutting grass and blowing leaves to keep walkways clean,'' said Sanford, a former governor of the state.

Via James Wood's Tweet of USA Today

The Coke in the machine

There was a run on a soda machine at BYU's Provo campus Tuesday, when students found it contained caffeinated Coke Zero. Traditionally, BYU does not stock the machines with any caffeinated drinks.
Alas, it was all an accident, said BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins. 
"Coke mistakenly included a limited number of caffeinated Coke Zeros in our order," Jenkins wrote in an email, "which no one caught while the vending machines were being stocked." 
The caffeine question for Mormons stems from the Utah-based faith’s health code, known as the Word of Wisdom, which bars coffee and tea. For years, some have suggested that the ban included caffeinated colas, and the church’s flagship school, BYU, traditionally has neither sold nor served such drinks.
But what is different is that last year the Church of Latter-day Saints issued a statement on their website, saying, 
"the church revelation spelling out health practices ... does not mention the use of caffeine."

"White House, IRS exchanged confidential taxpayer info"

Top Internal Revenue Service Obamacare official Sarah Hall Ingram discussed confidential taxpayer information with senior Obama White House officials, according to 2012 emails obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and provided to The Daily Caller.

Lois Lerner, then head of the IRS Tax Exempt Organizations division, also received an email alongside White House officials that contained confidential information.

Ingram attempted to counsel the White House on a lawsuit from religious organizations opposing Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Email exchanges involving Ingram and White House officials — including White House health policy advisor Ellen Montz and deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew — contained confidential taxpayer information, according to Oversight.

Daily Caller

Britain and Iran upgrade relations

In an effort to repair long-strained relations, Britain and Iran announced Tuesday that each would appoint a chargé d’affaires, a rank below ambassador, to work toward resuming full diplomatic ties. The diplomats will remain in their own countries, but will discuss reopening embassies in London and Tehran.
Iran and Britain have had an almost complete shutdown of relations since Iranian protesters attacked the British embassy in Tehran, because Iranians look upon Britain, their former colonial oppressors, as "a powerful agent of opposition to Iranian independence and the Islamic Revolution."
As when President Obama recently made a token gesture toward Iran by talking for a few minutes with newly elected President Rouhani, Israel continues to insist that Tehran is buying time to complete a nuclear weapon.


Where private business succeeds

“You might think that underfunding pension plans is the sole purview of unscrupulous local and state governments. Unfortunately, irrational optimism, an inability to accurately plan for the future, and avarice are all very human weaknesses exhibited by people in all walks of life—even faith-based and church-affiliated hospitals and charities. . . .It’s interesting that charities and governments are ripping employees off on pensions worse than private businesses. The answer to this apparent puzzle isn’t that corporate CEOs are somehow more virtuous than men of the cloth or big city politicians; it’s that we have tough laws governing corporate pensions and weaker ones when it comes to charities and governments. We’ll also take this occasion to remind our readers why we think defined contribution pensions are the best bet for workers today. There are no pension programs that are totally risk free, or course. Life just doesn’t work that way. But too many people continue to underestimate the risk of defined benefit plans in a turbulent economic and political landscape.”

American Interest via Instapundit

“We always have enough money to pay our debt service”

WASHINGTON — Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, a reliable friend of business on Capitol Hill and no one’s idea of a bomb thrower, isn’t buying the apocalyptic warnings that a default on United States government debt would lead to a global economic cataclysm.

“You’ve had the federal government out of work for close to two weeks; that’s about $24 billion a month. Every month, you have enough saved in salaries alone that you’re covering three-fifths, four-fifths of the total debt service, about $35 billion a month. That’s manageable for some time.”

A surprisingly broad section of the Republican Party is convinced that a threat once taken as economic fact may not exist — or at least may not be so serious. Some question the Treasury’s drop-dead deadline of Oct. 17. Some government services might have to be curtailed, they concede. “But I think the real date, candidly, the date that’s highly problematic for our nation, is Nov. 1,” said Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee.
Others say there is no deadline at all — that daily tax receipts would be more than enough to pay off Treasury bonds as they come due.
“It really is irresponsible of the president to try to scare the markets,” said Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky. “If you don’t raise your debt ceiling, all you’re saying is, ‘We’re going to be balancing our budget.’ So if you put it in those terms, all these scary terms of, ‘Oh my goodness, the world’s going to end’ — if we balance the budget, the world’s going to end? Why don’t we spend what comes in?”
“If you propose it that way,” he said of not raising the debt limit, “the American public will say that sounds like a pretty reasonable idea.”

And while Representative Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, conceded that a government that could no longer borrow money would have to curtail some of its contracting, he said Democrats should not get carried away.
“It’s like everything else here,” he said. “People on both sides of every argument seem to employ hyperbole when they could just state the truth and it would still be of significant consequence.”

Political Ad

Steve Lonegan's American Dream

"Casanovas on Foot Baffle Toyota CEO..."

While Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) President Akio Toyoda is on the cusp of a record year for profit, kids nowadays make him nervous. They’re so clueless that boys without cars have the nerve to ask girls out.

“In the past, if you wanted to date someone, you couldn’t ask her out if you didn’t have a car,” Toyoda, 57, told a packed auditorium of about 900 Meiji University students in Tokyo on Sept. 26. “It’s all changed now. Money goes on monthly phone bills. Also, parking’s expensive and it’s easy to get around Tokyo on public transport.”

Though he’s kidding about the dating, the underlying theme is no joke.

“Younger Japanese are quite different from the older Japanese and cars mean much less to many than 20 or 25 years ago,” said Edwin Merner, president of Atlantis Investment Research Corp. in Tokyo, who’s been in Japan since the 1970s. “They’re more interested in tech gadgets, like the iPhone. Young people nowadays don’t have the money to buy cars too.”

If more Japanese youths are like Keiko Kato, Toyoda may find kids will be kids and won’t always share the values of the older generation. Kato was one of three students who said after the talk that they still couldn’t see the need to own a car.

“If someone gave me 100,000 yen ($1,000) a month to spend on whatever I wanted, I don’t think I’d save for a car,” said Kato, 19. “I’d rather spend it on something practical like a fridge, microwave, or pretty furniture.”

Bloomberg via Instapundit

Gravity Twerking

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Nobel Prize In Physics Has Gravitas

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2013 was awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs "for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider" link

Now one of you geniuses please explain the Higgs Boson to us.

Chemistry is announced tomorrow. I'll get back to you. Carl Djerassi is someone I've long thought should get it but he probably never will.

Added: Lem links an animated lesson:

Lem Learning Gravitas

Average Is Over

Lexington, of The Economist, has a tantalizing review of Tyler Cowen's new book, Average Is Over.

"It describes a future largely stripped of middling jobs and broad prosperity. An elite 10-15% of Americans will have the brains and self-discipline to master tomorrow’s technology and extract profit from it, he speculates. They will enjoy great wealth and stimulating lives. Others will endure stagnant or even falling wages, as employers measure their output with “oppressive precision”. Some will thrive as service-providers to the rich. A few will claw their way into the elite (cheap online education will be a great leveller), bolstering the idea of a “hyper-meritocracy” at work: this “will make it easier to ignore those left behind”.

Mr. Cowens's vision is neither warm nor fuzzy. In his future, mistakes and even mediocrity will be hard to hide: eg, an ever-expanding array of ratings will expose so-so doctors and also patients who do not take their medicines or otherwise spell trouble. Young men will struggle in a labour market that rewards conscientiousness over muscle. With incomes squeezed, many Americans will head to the sort of cheap, sun-baked sprawling exurbs that give the farmers'-market-and-bike-lanes set heartburn. Many will accept rotten public services in exchange for low taxes. This may sound a bit grim, but it reflects real-world trends: 60% of employers already check the credit ratings of job applicants; young male unemployment is high and migrants have been flooding to low-tax, low-service Texas for years."

I like a cozy, semi-dystopic read more than the average bear, and I wonder if, even though it is written by a popular economist, it could be categorized under the speculative fiction category Synova recently spoke of. I tend to agree with Cowen's predictions, due to my Technium influenced worldview. Matthew Yglesias of Slate takes a less sanguine view of this future, and feels that we should not go gently into that good night.

"So I would take the message [of Cowen's conclusions] to be something like "politics is really important just as it always has been and people ought to get more fired up about some ideas that aren't  at the current forefront of the congressional agenda." Cowen's actual message seems to be that we ought to make ourselves more complacent, and that these somewhat bleak trends he forecasts aren't really all that bad if you look at them in the right light. But I don't quite see why. If good public policy were easy, there wouldn't be so much poverty and misery in the world. But if good public policy were impossible, there wouldn't be any success stories and "growth miracles" and "trente glorieuses" and so forth."

Still, it seems a somewhat acceptable future. People will receive healthcare and have a fairly large degree of freedom. There are worse things than a semi-benevolent elite ruling a semi-happy world. It would be up to the people, both the rich and not rich, to come to terms with themselves and how they will live their lives.   

The Economist


h/t rhhardin

The Answer Is Y

My great great grandfather on my father's side helped found a small town in rural Wisconsin. He and his sixteen brothers and sisters came west by way of Pennsylvania, and before that--in 1751--from territory in what is now southwestern Germany. He enlisted in the Union Army and was gone three years, during which time three of his oldest children died of diphtheria (2 boys and a little girl). I even know their names because I saw their little gravestones in a family graveyard near the town he helped settle.

I wonder if he killed during his time in that war? Others in my dad's family--an uncle--killed men in later wars. All were taciturn.

Is it possible that half of me has endured, largely unaltered since that time in 1861-65? How much of my great great grandfather am I?

printable posters

Via metafilter, a gallery of printable posters. There are a lot of them at freevintageposeters. Tons of posters available for free.  It is not clear what they have in mind as far as printing goes. It does not say over there, I imagine you instruct your printer for whatever size it is capable. Or maybe print them in sections. I don't know.

Let's see.

Metropolis: No posts matching the query: metropolis.

Would have thought they'd have that. Try again.

Cleopatra: No posts matching the query: cleopatra

Would have expected that too, for the movie. Try again.

Ramses: No posts matching the query: ramses
Tut: No posts matching the query: tut
pyramid: No posts matching the query: pyramid
sphinx: No posts matching the query: sphinx
Cairo: No posts matching the query: cairo
mummy: No posts matching the query: mummy

I'm starting to doubt  the efficacy of this search feature.


Yay! Ugh. Those are really bad. That woman does looks very familiar. They all look alike. Egyptian beauties must have been a dime a dozen. I painted that woman. Oh man, this picture is really bad. Don't print these. These are terrible. We can do better ourselves. 

This woman is so familiar it is as if I know her personally. A lock of her hair covers a large gold disc earring. I painted that. Her arm is around her husband's shoulder. Her face is iconic Egyptian beauty. Her headdress is standard, her jeweled necklace collar I've painted so many times it is not even funny.  

"Dogs are People Too"

"Although we are just beginning to answer basic questions about the canine brain, we cannot ignore the striking similarity between dogs and humans in both the structure and function of a key brain region: the caudate nucleus."
Rich in dopamine receptors, the caudate sits between the brainstem and the cortex. In humans, the caudate plays a key role in the anticipation of things we enjoy, like food, love and money. But can we flip this association around and infer what a person is thinking just by measuring caudate activity?"
Because of the overwhelming complexity of how different parts of the brain are connected to one another, it is not usually possible to pin a single cognitive function or emotion to a single brain region."
But the caudate may be an exception. Specific parts of the caudate stand out for their consistent activation to many things that humans enjoy. Caudate activation is so consistent that under the right circumstances, it can predict our preferences for food, music and even beauty."

"Where’s Joe Biden?"

"When President Barack Obama laid out his strategy for the current debt-limit fight in a private meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this past summer, Reid stipulated one condition: No Joe Biden."

And while Biden attended the White House dog-and-pony show meeting last week with congressional leaders, Reid has effectively barred him from the backrooms, according to sources familiar with the situation."

Biden was once Democrats’ deal-maker-in-chief, designing budget pacts with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the summer of 2011 and New Year’s Eve 2013."
Both Reid’s office and the vice president’s office declined to comment for this story.
But the Reid-Biden tension stands out because the two men spent so much time together in the Senate — 22 years — and because they’re on the same team. It is also yet another example of how deteriorating relationships among the nation’s top political leaders are making it harder to game out a solution to the fiscal crisis."

Read more at Politico

Action eloquence.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Illegal immigrants allowed to practice law in California"

(Reuters) - Illegal immigrants can be licensed to practice law in California under one of eight bills expanding immigrant rights that were signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday."

Other new laws prohibit law enforcement officials from detaining immigrants based on federal government instructions except in cases of serious crimes or convictions, and make it illegal for employers to retaliate against workers on the basis of their citizenship."

"While Washington waffles on immigration, California's forging ahead," Brown said in a statement. "I'm not waiting."

The new laws, including the one letting undocumented immigrants become lawyers, could set a precedent for the nation."

Reuters  (f 4,914 people recommend this)

The enraging up-voice

Find here, starting at about 52 minutes, a perfect example of what I call up-voice. When I come across such a case, I consider starting a company to administer electric shocks to people who realize they are speaking in a way that does not benefit them.

Or am I being an old fogey, and this is merely a transitioning of our language?

h/t rhhardin

Added: rhhardin says, "It's called a high rising terminal. Valley girls and Canadians."

"Humans 1, Robots 0"

"The human supermarket checker is superior to the self-checkout machine in almost every way. The human is faster. The human has a more pleasing, less buggy interface. The human doesn't expect me to remember or look up codes for produce, she bags my groceries, and unlike the machine, she isn't on hair-trigger alert for any sign that I might be trying to steal toilet paper. Best of all, the human does all the work while I'm allowed to stand there and stupidly stare at my phone, which is my natural state of being."
"There is only one problem with human checkers: They're in short supply."
Wall Street Journal , Parody after "

"Obamacare's winners and losers in Bay Area"

Cindy Vinson and Tom Waschura are big believers in the Affordable Care Act. They vote independent and are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama.
Yet, like many other Bay Area residents who pay for their own medical insurance, they were floored last week when they opened their bills: Their policies were being replaced with pricier plans that conform to all the requirements of the new health care law.

"I was laughing at Boehner -- until the mail came today," Waschura said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, who is leading the Republican charge to defund Obamacare.

"I really don't like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family's pocket each year, that's otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy."

San Jose Mercury News

"Careful what you tweet: Police, schools tap social media to track behavior"

If you share something publicly on social media, "you should expect the world to read it," said Andy Sellars, a staff attorney at the Digital Media Law Project. "And you should expect that world to include law enforcement."

Expect, in fact, anybody — now more than ever. Beyond the feds, marketers and cops, there is a growing customer base for Internet-monitoring contractors who sift through personal details readily available on the Internet.

"Monitor large public events, social unrest, gang communications and criminally predicated individuals," suggests the online pamphlet for the BlueJay browser tool, which reads like a mission statement for George Orwell's Ministry of Truth. "Identify potential witnesses and indicators for evidence."

"We could stop bad things from happening if we install cameras in everyone’s bedroom in America," Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, told NBC News. "Which trade-off are we willing to accept? Every word, every fleeting thought we type into a search engine and every product we think about buying gets recorded by a large database, not to help us but to exert power over us."

"Spying is the nature of our society," Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said recently an an event in New York City.

NBC News

Mt. Rushmore

Damnit. Beat me to it. Who are you? fireandreamitchell They did this. And all I can say is, "well done."



Sunday, October 6, 2013

survival skillz: pizza

Yesterday Deb asked if I am still interested in messing with sourdough starter and the answer is yes. It is like a pet. Rather neglected. I should have fed it already today and writing this reminds me it is starving. It is down to one tablespoon now so feeding it will double its mass. That is because yesterday the whole thing was depleted as part of regular sourdough-pet maintenance and the surplus portion was used for pizza discs.

Coated with a thin tomato paste and frozen. They are ready to go. Want one? 

They appear thin now, yes, but these sourdough discs will r-i-i-i-i-i-i-se again. 

They are small. Personal-sized. If hungry, then two. They are intended to hold anything reasonable and allow for fresh toppings, the tomato paste is too thin to interfere yet adds flavor as a sauce does without its moisture. And they are great with nothing at all, just olive oil as focaccia. In fact, doing this has made me wonder why anyone bothers with sauce for a pizza, it is sort of odd, and wet. These discs have proven unbelievably utile. I thought they might be wasted and end up freezer burned but I was wrong about that. I can hardly keep up with them and they staved starvation several times already. My pizza stone sees way more activitah then ever. I broke two of them. (One with steam. Oops.) I'm on my 3rd pizza stone, keeping a good one away for now, and baking on a broken stone.

This is the message I want to tell the whole world, how simple this is.

I make a lot of them. I was thinking today, this would be brilliant for a party, every one put on their own toppings and go back to it as often as they like. Good for football.  Mine generally end up looking like this.

And man, are they good. No brag here now, honestly, best I've had. Even if sourdough is too big a pain in the beutox, regular dough made in advance by a few days will come very close to this and add significant character to the dough. Being small, fashioning the discs to freeze and then use later is a project suitable for children. The best thing is you can use one right now. 


I can eat one right now. 

Is that amazing or what? Yesterday I saw pizza discs in the grocery store ready to be topped and baked and I thought in that moment, "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha," that sinister cartoon laughter inside my head again. 

I want to spread the word on how fantastic this is. It makes one mindful while shopping, "Do I have sufficient toppings for my pizza discs? Should I get fresh spinach this time? Do I need cheese? What was that kind I liked?" Have you ever had a pizza straight out of the oven and then topped it with fresh diced tomato instead of sauce? 

This is cross posted here where the ease of handling dough is shown more closely through confident photography and little tricks with light, things so clever as turning on a light and moving a lamp.