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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 17,751

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When a politician answers with, "I am not a scientist," the follow-up should be:

Is that a recusal?

Maybe abstention?


Hard to see how Benghazi won't be a disaster for the Republicans.

It is destined to become a major punchline and unavoidable cliche. And it will mean this investigation long after people have forgotten what the initial incident was. Look for future faux investigations to be suffixed with "-ghazi" the way we apply "-gate" to any alleged government deception.

I have taken to using it as a greeting.


A mathematical relationship does exist. It's called a correlation.

Since we're not projecting a proof, the level of analysis is incidental to the data. I notice a correlation between umbrellas and water falling from the sky. Is there a causality? It needs to be determined. The same correlation exists between umbrellas and windshield wipers. Causality? The other possible explanations are coincidence and error, which can be revealed by replication.

In the case of CO2 there is some deduction that enters the picture. CO2 is a greenhouse gas (GHG.) (If you fill a vessel with it, and shine a light on it, it gets warmer than an identical vessel-light combination filled with air. Happens every time.) And then, the incidence of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 40% in the industrial age. That's after a million years of virtually no change. The conclusion implied by those premises is that the atmosphere is warming.

The predictions based on those models were set down 40 years ago. Temperatures, ocean levels, glacial decreases, droughts, storms, etc. It's happening. The warming, its feedbacks, the climate sensitivity -- is pretty much settled, unless you have some revolutionary information. If it's not CO2 behaving as predicted and expected, burden is on you to show how, and what it then might be. Solar cycles, Milankovitch cycles, and obliquity cycles have been proposed, and ruled out. You'll have to think up something new, and a way of detecting it.


The Housemartins are too square for my taste. The Silver Bells rock!

Music (and art) are not religion, or products of it. They are creative works of varied inspiration or motivation, real or imaginary, and for me, it's the final product that counts. I'm quite sure that at least some of the great composers, that collected honoraria for them, were not believers in the doctrines they presented.

I like them if they're good, dislike them if they suck, and subject rarely matters as I pay little attention to what they say. And if anything, I'm more interested in how the lyrics work, than what they mean. How many words would you have to change in a song like Light My Fire, to turn it into a pounding Christian prophesy?

I listen to a lot of music sung in languages that I don't understand. I don't know if what they're saying is anything better than what I think they're saying. It's sung in its way -- and I take inferences from the tone, but sometimes it's hard to tell if someone is extolling his god, or trying to get laid.


On edit: I answer my own question: If, in Light My Fire, you replace "baby" with "Jesus," and "love: with "faith," the prophesy is true!

Why a "full-employment economy?" That's crazy.

With automation, simply speaking, a small minority of people can accomplish all the work that needs to be done. For example, in a few years there won't be human taxi drivers. Individuals perform tasks that occupied huge masses, and that power is growing exponentially.

Moreover, to create unnecessary tasks to employ people, will lead to destruction of resources that we, as a society, will need to preserve.


I just had carotid artery surgery -- indicated by optical symptoms.

My symptoms were a monocular blockage of sight, with translucent transmissions, which I identify as amaurosis fugax. And a zigzag pattern that would develop over my field of vision, called scintillating scotoma. Both have been referred to as optical or ocular migraines, with no headaches. They occurred once a week or so.

These are sometimes signs of blockage of the carotid artery, which can be detected with ultrasound and MRA scans. I had both, and was in surgery the day after, for a carotid endarterectomy -- a reaming out of the artery that delivers blood to the brain.

My surgeon told me I was in line for a major stroke. My artery was almost totally blocked. It's almost four weeks since the surgery, and so far the visuals are gone.

Yes, life is good!


Economist Michael Hudson: "...this is pure, naked class war."

HUDSON: Well, it's sort of like The Hound of the Baskervilles, where Sherlock Holmes said the important thing is that the dogs didn't bark. When the government printed $13 trillion to give to the banks after the 2008 breakdown, nobody complained at all about the fact that the government can simply print the money, pour it into the economy, and do something. Nobody's complaining about the increased war spending that we're doing, the waste that the Pentagon war.

Why is it that all these complaints are only focused on one particular small part of the budget, Social Security and medical care and health care? And the reason is this is pure, naked class war. There's no other word for it. You can't believe that people are being honest when they don't talk about the whole budget or the overall economy when they're singlemindedly tunnel-visioned, focused only on how do we pay retirees less, so that we can give the bankers more when President Obama continues the bank deregulation he's doing. You have the idea that they're cutting back pensioners, cutting back Social Security, in order to be able for the next big bank bailout.


On edit: A link to the video. Quite informative.


Chaos theory. It's called the "Butterfly Effect."

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane's formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.

My interest though, (beside having spent some student time in Paris,) is sort of with the ironies of language and my recollections of the trends. Dr. King spoke of "Negroes" and Malcolm X talked about "black people" and my father, a WW II vet, a liberal, referenced "colored people," thinking, I'm sure, that it was the most respectful form of address at the time. And "Afro-Americans" was big for a while, as long as the hairstyle anyway.

Writer Stanley Crouch, referred to himself as Negro to emphasize his American ancestry, differentiate from Jamaicans, or Haitians, or Brazilians who are also black.

Never having been black myself, I lament the lost opportunities. What were they thinking? What was I thinking? It's a kind of nostalgia.


How many school massacres are there, anyway?

Yes they get much media, but this is a very rare event. There are many thousands of schools, and very few homicidal maniacs.

Arming teachers for something that will never happen is dumb.

And in those rare instances, there's no guarantee the teacher will prevail. And those teachers who are not Dirty Harry will nevertheless be regarded as primary targets.

As a teacher, I have taught students that made things appear in places they could not have been. I wouldn't want to guard a gun against them. I have also had students with violent criminal records.

By the way, I own a gun. I think bringing it in to a classroom is crazy.


Two days on the front lines in Florida early voting.

I spent Saturday and Sunday "working" the voters for a candidate for school board, at the Tamarac Library in Broward County, Florida. And it was kind of a dream job (minus compensation) for a DUer. I had met her during the primaries. We got into a discussion, and I was impressed by her knowledge and dedication, and as a former teacher, I decided to volunteer to help her campaign.

Most frequently asked question: "Is she a Democrat?" Nobody asked if she was a Republican. I should explain that the position, like judges, is listed as nonpartisan. And I was officially not allowed to indicate any party affiliation. I got around this pretty easily, by pointing to the "cheat sheet" flyers that were given to every voter by operatives of the party, including one that asteriskally pointed out that she had received the Broward County Young Democrat of the Year Award. Previous Honorees include Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

There were a couple of Romney-Ryan signs that you passed at the parking lot entrance, but the only Republican candidate that enjoyed working support was the sheriff, up for re-election, and it was almost impossible to tell his party on the literature that was distributed. He may well be elected, because a lot of Dems support him in the county, and there is not a strong opponent. But he won't win from the crowd that showed up at the Tamarac Library this weekend. They almost all, and some blindly, wanted to know who the Democratic candidates were.

I had one man who stated he was a Republican, but I got his vote anyway, when I pointed out that no Republican was running against my incumbent, and her record showed that she was the most sane member of the school board. And there was another woman who said she couldn't vote for any supporter of reproductive rights because of "sanctity of life" positions of the bible. She supported the death penalty though, and cited all the stonings in that same bible, and no she didn't see any contradictions, and if I read the bible enough I would see that too. And I promised I would, as I disengaged from her. There is no arguing with whatever that was.

Otherwise, the crowd was wonderful. And I talked to thousands of people. They came in all ages, shapes, and colors, including a panoply of Caribbean accents and languages. There were Haitians, Dominicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Jamaicans, and of course natural born citizens, some of color, and a healthy contingent from the Jewish enclaves, that pushed the waiting time up to five hours on Saturday!

On Sunday, the crowd was not as large, peaking at about two and a half hour wait time, but pretty steady. In the afternoon, when it seemed there might be a lull, the church crowds showed up, I judged from their dress, and an hour or two later a surprising number (to me) of Muslims coming from the mosques. I'm guessing that most were Pakistani, but there was great variety there too. Some of the women were veiled, many more in hijabs, and still more in contemporary American dress.

Late in the afternoon, 'the boss' (my candidate, not Bruce) showed up distributing hugs to campaign workers and some voters, and worked the lines, pointing out that her home phone number is on her flyer, which she answers, probably a good reason she is going for her third term.

I have made calls and done some canvassing in the past. But spending most of a 12 hour day engaging a line of voters was a new experience. I was amazed that I wound up in Democratic heaven. I am going back, but there are nine days of early voting, and some of those workers, (not all of them are volunteers,) are in for all of it. I'm in for what amounts to a few of those days. My feet hurt, and my back is a bit stiff. But I had a good time.

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