Wednesday, July 31, 2013

That's Why He Gets Paid the Big Bucks

Neal Boortz:
So … what has me so exercised this time? Yesterday it was a woman with a baby demanding that McDonald’s pay her not what she was actually worth to her employer, but what she believes she needs to properly raise her spawn … a child she cannot afford.
The world would be an awful place if you could raise a child in it.
This time it’s the learned opinion of the UK undergrad who believes that McDonald’s can double the income of every employee – including the CEO – by raising the price of the Big Mac from $3.99 to $4.67. Yup! You got it! Just increase all prices of McDonald’s products by 17% across the board and you can double everyone’s salary!
There follows an amusing list of nine perfectly logical consequences, including:
3. Workers at other fast food companies quickly abandon their jobs to travel across town so they can work for twice the bucks at McDonald’s!
Why that would be terrible, and it would be awfully nice of McDonald's to instantly open enough outlets to take in those workers, and nobody else needs jobs at those other places anyway.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Intake of Seamen

Centro de Instrução Almirante Graça Aranha:

• Deck Officer (FONT)
• Engineering Officer (FOMQ)


Beginning: January
Duration: 8 semesters (Deck); and 7 semesters (Engineering).


Defined by the Directory of Ports And Coast


a) be between seventeen (complete) and less than twenty four years old;

b) be single and never get married during the course;
All right, it's the MERCHANT MARINES. Not that mysterious to demand singles. But:
teeth: minimum of 20 natural teeth healthy or treated, ten on each arcade; normal articulation and healthy soft tissues;
I was under the impression that you could get away with possessing fewer teeth.

Monday, July 29, 2013

I Endorse George Gollin

Some regional news:
University physics professor George Gollin announced his intent to run for Congress Tuesday afternoon at the Champaign County Fair. Gollin will seek the Democratic nomination to run for the 13th Congressional District, a seat currently held by Republican Rodney Davis.

“Washington has plenty of lawyers, I’m a teacher and a scientist,” Gollin said in his campaign announcement. “Certainly law is an honorable profession, but as a scientist, I was trained to discover the facts, and act on them. Lawyers, on the other hand, are trained to argue about the facts. I think we have enough argument in Washington already, and need more facts.”

To broaden on his reasons of running, Gollin said that he got involved in higher education policy back in 2003 when he learned of “diploma mills,” which are criminal organizations that sell fake degrees. He had started to help with federal legislation on this, and when this bill reached the senate, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) had “tanked” most of the legislation.

“This was meant to stop people (from) selling fake medical degrees across state lines, so I was very distressed with that,” Gollin said. “Once the bill got out of a position where I was no longer able to influence it, politics and dirty money got in the way.”
Gollin was pretty much responsible for ending a diploma-mill operation some other gentleman with a completely different name mentioned long long ago. The link to the list of bad bad people no longer works, but this one does.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Threats to Power

True crime at its best highlights the tensions within an afflicted society -- or as Joyce Carol Oates describes in her essay on the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, the “profound and disturbing disequilibrium provoked by the commission of a crime.” In this month’s issue, David McConnell discusses his new book, American Honor Killings, which deals with murders committed by men and boys who believed their masculinity somehow threatened by their victims’ homosexuality. American Honor Killings examines the common thread that runs through each of the sometimes bizarre-sounding, seemingly disparate hate crimes discussed in the book: the ways in which homophobia in America is deeply concerned with masculinity and power.

For more on the relationship between masculinity and violence, here are some indispensable readings:
Head there to read those links.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Monday, July 22, 2013

Saint Aileen

Image snagged from this interesting site.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


From here:

Would we better off in a world without blame?
This has also been a boom time for blame in moral and political philosophy, partially in reaction to John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice (1971), which is widely credited with reviving these fields. Rawls focused not on personal responsibility but on ensuring fair conditions that would create opportunities for everyone to pursue their aims. Within a decade, however, Rawls’s theory was under attack from the left and right for giving insufficient attention to personal responsibility and associated attitudes toward blame. On the right, Robert Nozick’s 1974 Anarchy, State, and Utopia heralded a major libertarian revival, centered on individual rights and individual responsibility. On the left, Ronald Dworkin proposed an alternative to Rawls’s vision of liberal egalitarianism, one that brought personal responsibility into the egalitarian fold. On the one hand, Dworkin argued, our fate should not be shaped by “brute luck”—circumstances, whether social or biological, not subject to our control. But as to anything that results from our choices, blame away. As the philosopher G. A. Cohen said of Dworkin’s argument, it has “performed for egalitarianism the considerable service of incorporating within it the most powerful idea in the arsenal of the anti-egalitarian right: the idea of choice and responsibility.”

Why exactly are we trying so hard to make the world safe for blame? What have we gained and what have we lost in the effort? And is there an alternative?
Christians have destroyed marriage!

No divorce for you. YET.

Damned kids!
Every year, lecturers marking examination scripts are asked by Times Higher Education to share their favorite student slip-ups.

A mixed metaphor from one student, who described Alain Resnais’ controversial Holocaust documentary "Night and Fog" as "a hotly contested potato," caught the eye of Steve Hawley, head of media at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Manchester School of Art.
Developing world developers:
Q. What is AkiraChix??

A. AkiraChix is an association that inspires and develops women in Technology through networking, training and mentoring.

Q. Where does AkiraChix work?

A. AkiraChix’s activities have been concentrated in Nairobi so far, but we are expanding to engage with women across Africa WHAT’S NEXT? AkiraChix has big plans for the next year. In addition to expanding our training program and increasing our membership, we have some exciting initiatives in mobile technology that will reach out to youth all across the country and beyond.
Warren Hill won't die:
Georgia has been trying desperately for decades to execute Warren Hill, a convicted murderer who long ago was sentenced to death for a gruesome crime. But just when it looked like state officials would get their wish, just when it looked like the state and federal courts had rejected all of the substantive and procedural arguments Hill's attorneys could gin up, just when it looked like state sovereignty would prevail over the Eighth Amendment, Georgia blew it.

The state blew it because in its zeal to execute Hill, in its desire to keep the "machinery of death" cranking in the Peachtree State, it enacted this past spring a wholly unnecessary (and patently unconstitutional) "state-secret" law that sought to keep vital information about capital procedures from the public--and the state's judiciary. Georgia thereby failed to abide by the governing principle of legal argument: quit while you are ahead.
Zhenhan Hao explored China's copy culture in an attempt to go beyond the 'illegal', 'vile' and 'evil' epithets that are usually associated with the practice. In the artist/designer's own words:
I have taken on the guise of an agent and am managing two research-practices simultaneously under different social contexts. In China, I have proposed a new production model for craftspeople in Dafen village and Jingdezhen, 'the porcelain capital of China', to imitate and create at the same time. Together, we co-produced a series of improvised products that sought to inspire the imitators to explore their imagination and creativity.
Hao asked artisan imitators to use their own imagination and customize the goods that would otherwise have been mere replicas of 'Western' artworks and fashion items. He commissioned a suit, a series of ceramic vases as well as oil paintings. He would suggest that the workers stick to what they are used to (imitating famous fashion brands or Impressionist painters) while adding something personal. A cobbler created footwear that mix the design of traditional Church's shoes with the bold colour of trainers. And tailors designed a suit by mixing western aesthetics (in particular the famous Barbour jacket) with traditional Chinese patterns and symbols:
It will never end:
A very large study of self-employed people living in France finds those who retired later had a lower risk of being diagnosed with dementia, in line with the idea that you either "use it or lose it."

Carole Dufouil of the Bordeaux School of Public Health, and colleagues, found that the risk of being diagnosed with dementia went down for each year of working longer.

The study appears to confirm earlier research that suggests lifelong mental stimulation and challenge may protect against Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Through Being Cool

Hannah Sternberg:
Why the heck is Rolling Stone writing a cover story about Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? Short answer: to make money.


This is going to sound like bad advice, but Rolling Stone: no one reads you for “serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.” They read you because they like rock and roll, and they like being cool.
Here is Hannah Sterberg's bio at Amazon:
Hannah Sternberg lives and works in Washington, DC. In 2009, she graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a major in Film and Media Studies and a minor in Writing Seminars, feeling like the most unemployable girl in the world.
Born yesterday, apparently.

Here is a diagram illustrating areas of overlap pertinent to the issue.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Slippery Slopes, Greasy Grades

The proposed "safety net" that would prevent a school's A-to-F grade from dropping more than one letter grade in a year amounts to "grade inflation" and should not be adopted, according to Jeb Bush's education foundation.

In a letter sent to members of the State Board of Education on Monday, Bush's foundation urged board members not to continue in 2013 the rule that prevented 2012 grades from being any lower than one letter grade from a school's 2011 mark.

"If a school earns a D, but receives a C, who is helped by this grade inflation?" wrote Patricia Levesque, executive director of the Foundation for Florida's Future, in a letter to the State Board. "It certainly won't be the students because the districts will be under less pressure to director resources and assistance to those who need it."
A school falling one mark instead of two could be hidden by crooked money-hoarding school principals and untrustworthy Board fatcats slurping at the public trough, not to mention completely missed by legions of parents unable to tell A from B because of illiteracy or diabetic blindness. I think that covers everyone.

Naturally if a school's chess club is wiped out by an AR-15-toting chickenshit standing his ground the school should be PUNISHED PUNISHED PUNISHED for daring to teach the surviving clods about how awesome Thomas Jefferson is.

The point is to destroy the public schools sooner rather than later, because obviously an influx of students whose first language is not English must inevitably mean that all teachers and administrators are drunken layabouts wasting YOUR MONEY, CITIZEN. The marketplace will provide the solutions that take education up up up into the stratificationsphere.

Monday, July 15, 2013

I Did Not Need This to Happen.

Firefox now adjusts the page zoom level according to your Windows settings, to better support high DPI displays. For example, if Windows is set to 125% font size (120dpi), the content area will be zoomed by 25% compared with Firefox 21 and earlier.
It seems to me that 21 previous versions of Firefox did fine without this. I have Windows at 125% to use a different program: I didn't actually want Firefox zoomed. But perhaps there was a groundswell of support for this option from users who had 100 other solutions at hand that simply wouldn't do. And now to get it back to where it was...
The straightest line back toward the earlier style of display is the following two step approach:

Step 1: Install the Theme Font & Size Changer extension. Why? Because turning off the scaling affects the chrome area (menus, toolbars, and tabs) as well as the content.

After restarting Firefox, click the new "A" icon at the right end of the navigation toolbar and change the font size from Normal to 15.

Step 2: Change your global scaling in the about:config preferences editor.

(1) In a new tab, type or paste about:config in the address bar and press Enter. Click the button promising to be careful.

(2) In the filter box, type or paste pix and pause while the list is filtered

(3) Double-click layout.css.devPixelsPerPx and change its value to 1.0 for Firefox 21-sized fonts in the content area.

This should take effect immediately without another restart.
...which doesn't actually work the way I want it to work and doesn't change the RSS feed displays.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Free Time

Few have been initiated into the mysteries of what lies beyond Vancouver, but there are rumours that beyond the doughnut and poutine sellers lies a vast region composed of a strange substance called the luminiferous wæter, through which, if one consults the adepts, signs the releases and pays embracing with them the risk of death and offering a sacrifice, one might be conveyed in mysterious craft summoned by the invocation KYAK. What, though, lies beyond?

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Geez, I don't remember aspect-ratio issues on the original of this...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

All Eyes On Jesus

A headline from K-Lo:
Two Popes, One Encyclical, All Eyes on Jesus — with His Eyes, in His Heart
Here you go.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Acceptable Abortion

The utterly not-gay Michael Brown:
...there remains no reputable scientific evidence that children are born gay or lesbian, let alone a test (or ultrasound!) that could determine homosexuality in the womb.
The evidence for the "born gay" thesis:

And it has been demonstrated both anecdotally and clinically that there is much more sexual fluidity among women than men, meaning that a woman might move from heterosexual to homosexual and back over the course of a lifetime (or vice versa). So much for being “born lesbian.” It is with good reason, then, that lesbian author Camille Paglia famously wrote, “No one is born gay. The idea is ridiculous.”
There are few demonstrations of the sexual fluidity of women I trust more than the anecdotal demonstration, but they charge so much for such short phone calls.

Anyhow, why why why is Michael Brown concerned about prenatal boner preferences?
Would it be acceptable to abort a gay fetus? Where would liberals stand on this moral issue?
Aha. This thing Michael Brown believes will never happen is the ideal argument against abortion because...he doesn't really believe it:
“The pro-life Live Action group released [an] undercover video . . . showing a Planned Parenthood clinic worker willing to help a woman abort her baby if it's a girl.” As quoted on the video, the worker explains, “I can tell you that here at Planned Parenthood, we believe that it's not up to us to decide what is a good or a bad reason for somebody to decide to terminate a pregnancy.” Presumably, then, this same worker would have [said] “Of course, if you choose to abort your little lesbian, that would be fine as well.” Perhaps the “born gay” argument is not where gay activists really want to go?
I wonder what radical anti-gay preacher might invest in some kind of prenatal gay detection kit. Not that he'd support abortion under any circumstances of course...

Monday, July 8, 2013


The explosion in Quebec is still going to happen over and over again. Whatever the magic energy solution is, I hope it will not require fire.


NodeBox was initially a Processing rip-off, but with Python instead of Java. It was a little odd, because for some reason it did a lot less than Processing but was about as hard.

It still does less than Processing, but the new version of NodeBox is now a rip-off of VVVV, which is kind of nice, and it's cross-platform, which is nicer.

As with VVVV and Quartz Composer, you connect items together in a kind of flowchart, thus avoiding all that tedious coding.

It still can't touch Quartz Composer, and the interface is quirky, but the above plan was enough to whip up an animation like this in short order:

Crucial tutorials here and here.

Quick and dirty Thundra suggestion:

Hmm, larger file, but way prettier:

Saturday, July 6, 2013


An example--and perhaps the house's most unique feature--is its zero-energy heating and cooling system, which uses only dried straw and agricultural fermentation. In the summer, the straw dries up in transparent window shelves that act as "heat shield panels" by releasing cool moisture into the home as the straw dries. The straw is then composted in acrylic cases inside the house during winter and can heat the home up to 30 degrees Celsius for up to four weeks through "bokashi," a Japanese low-odor fermentation method. Additionally, the straw only needs to be changed a few times a year.
The Pope:
The pagan world, which hungered for light, had seen the growth of the cult of the sun god, Sol Invictus, invoked each day at sunrise. Yet though the sun was born anew each morning, it was clearly incapable of casting its light on all of human existence. The sun does not illumine all reality; its rays cannot penetrate to the shadow of death, the place where men’s eyes are closed to its light.
I dunno, Pope, the last bunch of dead people I saw were not directly sunlit but I saw 'em pretty good.

The whole world conspires to make a bad person:
OTTAWA — A month after Omar Khadr was transferred to an Edmonton prison for his own safety he was assaulted by a fellow inmate.

The former Guantanamo Bay detainee was attacked at Edmonton Institution just after 8 p.m. on June 14.


The Toronto-born Khadr, 26, was transferred to Canada last September to serve out the remainder of an eight-year sentence handed down by U.S. military commission for war crimes he pleaded guilty to committing as a 15-year-old in Afghanistan.
This guy may not wish death on all of us, but why shouldn't he?

Today in Conclusions That Conveniently Conform to My Preconceptions:
Trying to find out how the autistic brain is “different” can be like studying a spinning coin: one side says its circuits are over-connected; the other, under-connected.

How can the autistic brain do extraordinary things, like retain a photographic memory of city streets, yet fail to recall a face? Store a large vocabulary, yet fall flat in social conversation?

New evidence from a Stanford University study published online Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry freezes the coin on the hyper-connection side, at least for a time. It suggests that children with autism have higher connectivity in certain large-scale circuits, including one that helps determine the relative importance of stimuli, and another that mediates between the “inside” and “outside” world of the mind.
Totally ripping this post off:

Another obvious thing I did not know demands regulation:
Celebrities who brazenly plug freebie products on Twitter have been warned to use the hashtag “ad” to avoid falling foul of the law.

A tweeted endorsement by a celebrity to their army of followers is now seen as the most effective form of direct advertising for many youth-focused brands.

Sponsored tweets don’t come cheap - socialite Kim Kardashian earns up to £6,300 for every message she posts on her account.
The director of the Urbana Free Library thinks books that are more than ten years old are embarrassing to read. Hard-to-read FOIA documents here, in which workers tell the story of Brand New Technology - spiffy RFID checkout system! - making some bossy nitwit called Deb Lissak go crazy. Tinfoil would protect against RFID radiation.