February 15th, 2008

#903: Comments, links, etc.

But still no new PreCure pages. Thursday vanished in a fog of sleep and Smallville. (I seem to recall watching some anime in there, too, but I might have dreamed that part.)

Boortz again:
By the way ... in the interest of accuracy ... what we're really talking about here is fascist health care, not socialist. Under socialism the health care facilities would be owned by the government and all health care workers would be government employees. Under fascism the facilities remain in private hands and the employees remain in the private sector ... the government just controls their every move.
Hillary wants the US to have a fascist health care system. Excellent.

Patrick Buchanan on the Jena 6: "While some $500,000 has been raised for the Jena Six defense, its whereabouts is unknown. Bailey did pose on the Internet grinning, however, with $100 bills in his mouth. Bell's mom is said to be driving a new Jaguar, and Bailey's mom a new Beamer."

...okay.

Florida teacher fired for having a gun. He had the gun in his vehicle, which was parked on school property. The teacher was not found to be in violation of any laws. So I guess it means he was fired for having a gun. The school board said it would "set a bad example for the students" if he received a 90-day suspension.

Reality: knowing what teachers are usually like, politically, the school board's reaction probably approximated this: "ZOMG he's going to shoot someone!" *sigh*

The speech that shocked two nations! Mexico's president wants the border kept open! "Our nations will never find prosperity by closing their doors," sez Mexican presidente Felipe Calderón.

Translation: "Mexico needs greenbacks, and you're racist if you insist on border control." Though this is a free translation, I think it more accurately conveys the meaning of his statement.

Obama wants to solve all the world's problems with US money. Including $845 billion over 13 years.

...wait, why "13"? Okay, $650 billion over 10 years. $65 billion per year. Oh, because the plan is supposed to cut global poverty "in half" by 2015.

...wait, that's only 7 years from now.

It must be "outcome based" education in action. Those of us who were raised in the old patriarchal, phallocentric, racist and sexist traditions of Western Civilization, with its hidebound reliance on facts and objective data, can't possibly understand the need for this kind of program or why 7=13.

"How is it possible that the exhilaratingly talented star from that time has dwindled to such a dullard?" Asks Peter Bradshaw, commenting on Madonna's film Filth and Wisdom.

Mr. Bradshaw, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you were 5 when Madonna made Desperately Seeking Susan. ("Exhilaratingly talented"? Is he from a parallel universe?) I will do this because it's obvious to me that you are pitifully ignorant of an important fact regarding Madonna:

SHE WAS NEVER TALENTED.

The same way a broken clock can be right twice per day, Madonna has managed to produce a few efforts of modest artistic value. Most of her fame and fortune, however, is the result of marketing; a lot of her music was about sex and generated for teenagers, a combination which has worked well for many pop stars in the past, and will continue to work until the human race evolves into energy beings. (And probably even then, assuming that universal consciousness doesn't bring with it an IQ boost.)

The formula Madonna applied to her ouerve in the 1980s continues to be well-plied by many female performers, precisely because it generates so much cash flow. (What, you think record companies give a rat's ass about "art"? The only art they care about is pictures of dead Presidents. That's it.) But Madonna wasn't the first; she was just the first to be obvious about it. And because of her commercial success, every white female recording star after her sounds exactly like her.

And Madonna's singing ability is her only talent. She's pitifully bad at everything else: acting, directing, writing, raising children. She couldn't even shave her armpits when she posed nude, for crying out loud. (How talentless do you have to be to screw up posing nude?)

...I guess I've exhausted my store of disdain for another day.

#904: Northern Illinois University

Was the NIU campus a "gun-free zone"? Let me reiterate what I said about the Virginia Tech shooting:

"That worked."

Someone who is intent on mayhem isn't going to obey a law or "zone".

I don't understand what it is about that painfully simple fact that gun-control nuts cannot comprehend. A person who intends to go somewhere and start shooting people until he runs out of bullets is not concerned with his life expectancy or his GPA; why on earth would he care that some place is a "gun-free zone"? "Oh, shit! I was going to go shoot a bunch of people there, but it's a 'gun-free zone'! I guess I'll have to find another place to shoot people."

WTF!

A quote from the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Teacher: I kept running and he kept shooting"

All it would have taken is for one student in that class to have a firearm. How many injuries could have been prevented, and how many lives could have been saved, if there had been just one other student in that classroom who'd had a gun?

BEGIN SARCASM

But no! No, that's not the answer. The answer is for all law-abiding citizens to unilaterally disarm themselves and for us to establish places which guns are not allowed. That will fix everything. The "gun-free zone" establishes a magic shield which keeps people from going on violent rampages with a high body count.

END SARCASM

The end result is that we must rely on police and security people who are not where the shooter is. (Of course they're not. The shooter wouldn't start shooting if they were. And if he was really determined to shoot right there he'd probably start by shooting the police anyway.) It takes time for the police to be notified, since they don't have magic "gunshot detectors" like they do in the movies.

You know what I mean. The writers of The Last Action Hero even played on that angle. The bad guy shot some person, and marveled at the lack of police sirens. "I just shot this man, and I meant to do it!" He announced to the people in the real world. Yet in many movies and TV shows, there is usually a 3-5 minute delay between "shots fired" and the distant howl of police sirens. Ergo, cops have "gunshot detectors".

But not in real life. If someone outside the action happens to hear the gunshots, and if he calls the police right away, it takes time for 911 to process the call, and it takes more time for the polce to get to the scene.

A single person can kill an entire classroom full of people and have time to smoke a couple of cigarettes before the cops even start moving toward the scene. That's just using a single handgun, by the way. And if the shooter is feeling especially violent, he can move to another classroom and shoot more people before he has to start thinking about the police moving in. It takes time for the police to act, and while the police are dicking around the shooter--operating in a "gun-free zone" where he is the only person with a weapon--can keep shooting people until he runs out of bullets.

On the other hand, properly licensed private citizens who are carrying weapons can act as soon as their lives are endangered. But not if they're not allowed to carry their weapons.

#905: Primed for science!

ISS is primed for science!

The article is a depressing catalogue of NASA-ESA stupidity and inefficiency.

They installed two experiments on the "gleaming hull" of the Colombus module. One is the "sun-watching SOLAR experiment"--no explanation given as to what the hell it does, other that look at the sun. The other is a "...a nine-instrument exposure facility to monitor the space environment and test new materials...."

In other words, it's a bracket to which they attach stuff that they want to expose to the conditions of low earth orbit. And there are "instruments" which monitor various parameters of these materials.

What a good place for a sun-watching experiment! Put it on a platform in a low equatorial orbit where its view of the sun is occluded about 50% of the time. That's brilliant. (So to speak.)

ISS exists primarily to give the Shuttle something to do; and the Shuttle exists primarily to aid the existence of ISS. All told it's a complete waste of money and effort. I'd rather see NASA shut down all manned operations and get Ares on-line faster, to be honest, because at least that way we'll have a booster capable of lifting more than 20 tons at a time.

Then maybe we can do some actual work in space. Not useless beetle-tracking for postdocs.

#906: 500 GB back on-line.

Today the replacement drive came from Seagate. I let it "warm soak" for 10 hours before installing it into the computer--after being in the cold for an unspecified amount of time I didn't want to just plug it in and go; it's not good for electronics to be powered up after cold soaking unless they're designed for it--and I'd wager that hard drives typically are not.

It took about 3 hours for the thing to format, of course.

Now I'm going to start dumping backups to the drive. This'll take another crapload of time.

The drive is a "certified repaired" drive--remanufactured--so hopefully it won't die in six months of a bad spindle bearing.