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Sending Helicopter Parents Into a Tailspin July 23, 2014

Posted by geoff in News.
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Another handy parenting tip on raising your children with skills that will serve them through life. In this case, alligator wrasslin’:

Father Teaches 5-Year-Old Son How to Wrestle Alligators.

Stopping Those Jeff Sessions Vids July 23, 2014

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Anybody know how to get off Jeff Sessions’ email list for his videos? There’s never an “Unsubscribe” link anywhere.

Pretty annoyed with him, unless it’s obvious and I just missed it.

Verizon and the “Girls in Engineering” Ad July 22, 2014

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I’m sure Verizon had the best intentions when it made its Inspire Her Mind ad, but come on. Christina Hoff Sommers did a fair job of debunking it, but she didn’t present any data of her own.

Fortunately you have me for that.

So, going to the National Science Foundation database, we can look at their data for five years (2008 – 2012) and find the answer to the question: “How many females and males graduated in Science and Engineering in the US for that 5-year period?”

Females: 1,345,071
Males: 1,325,601

Doesn’t seem like girls are being disproportionately discouraged by subtle signals from a patriarchal society.

About That Silly Dungy/Sam Controversy July 22, 2014

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Quite the hubbub over Tony Dungy’s recent statement that he wouldn’t have picked Michael Sam for his roster because of the distraction (Michael Sam is the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL). See, for example: Tony Dungy: I wouldn’t have taken Michael Sam.

But the hubbub itself proves Dungy right. When you can’t make a simple statement of opinion without it turning into a battleground for social justice types, it’s pretty clear why many a coach might shy away from that situation.

QED

President Obama Gets One Right July 21, 2014

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This is one of the very few things the President has said with which I can agree without reservation:

“The notion that there’s some authentic way of being black, that if you’re going to be black you have to act a certain way and wear a certain kind of clothes, … that has to go, because there are a whole bunch of different ways for African-American men to be authentic,” Obama said.

“There’s some cultures, frankly, who have done this better than others,” Obama said, pointing to Jewish Americans and Asian Americans who had retained a sense of their histories but also demonstrated academic accomplishments.

“I think this is something that we have to spend some time thinking about, making sure that, we understand there’s a way of knowing your history, knowing your culture, being proud of it, using it as a strength but not thinking that there is just one way of you then having to act,” Obama said.

I.e., the whole notion of “acting white” and “being authentically black” are just inventions by those who wanted to create an artificial distinction between the races.

But whenever we say things like this it cements us as racists. When Bill Cosby said it, he and his message were ridiculed. When Martin Luther King lived it, that fact was conveniently ignored.

Perhaps this time people can finally grasp that culture and race are distinguishable, and that one can hate or love a culture without hating or loving a race.

Scary Graphics from the CBO July 20, 2014

Posted by geoff in News.
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The CBO released a damning report last Tuesday, showing what the perpetuation of today’s economic policies would mean in the long term. No one seems to have noticed, but it’s pretty much an unalloyed message of doom and despair. Monty would eat this up.

If you’re not inclined to read it, allow me to sum up:

I hope you’re enjoying life right now, because it’s just going to get worse.

Here’s a tearjerker to get you started:

the-2014-longterm-budget-outlook-in-26-slides-19-1024

Oof. That’s some debt we’re doomed to pile up. 111% of GDP by 25 years from now (using their “extended baseline with economic feedback” scenario). And of course there’s nothing keeping it from continuing on that path thereafter.

Want some even better news? The CBO projection doesn’t include the effect of increasing interest payments on the economy, so it’s a tad (a tad = very) optimistic. It also assumes real GDP growth of 2.3%; over the past 10 years we’ve averaged 1.7%.

(more…)

China is Here, Mr. Burton July 8, 2014

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Back in 2006 I spent some time pointing out the perils of China’s rapid military buildup, and noted that their strategy was to drive the US out of Asia and establish a Chinese hegemony. And of course, first on the list of tasty treats for the Chinese hegemonists would be Taiwan.

We’ve had a lot of discussions about the weakness of China’s economy and demographics, but I was never convinced that those were enough to stop China’s inexorable march forward. And now it appears that they weren’t – China thinks it has arrived:

The bad news first. The People’s Republic of China now believes it can successfully prevent the United States from intervening in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or some other military assault by Beijing.

…Beijing believes it can attack Taiwan or another neighbor while also bloodlessly deterring U.S. intervention. It would do so by deploying such overwhelmingly strong military forces — ballistic missiles, aircraft carriers, jet fighters, and the like — that Washington dare not get involved.

The knock-on effects of deterring America could be world-changing. “Backing away from our commitments to protect Taiwan, Japan, or the Philippines would be tantamount to ceding East Asia to China’s domination,” Roger Cliff, a fellow at the Atlantic Council, said at the same U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission hearing on Jan. 30.

The author of the article claims that China is underestimating the importance of our nuclear submarines, and that may be so. Or maybe not.

In any case, this is part of China’s long-term strategy. The question is not if they’ll pull the trigger, but when. It’s just a question of their impatience vs. the perceived cost of making a move.

Which is why it makes a lot of sense for them to move before the current administration is replaced. I’m thinking 2016 will be ideal for them.

Pivoting Toward Manufacturing Employment July 4, 2014

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Manufacturing jobs didn’t do badly last month, adding 16,000 jobs, mostly in automotive parts and heavy machinery. But on the other hand, to meet the President’s promise to create 1 million manufacturing jobs in 4 years, you need to add 21,000 jobs per month.

And for the President to catch up to his promise, since he’s fallen so far behind, he’d have to add more than 31,000 jobs per month for the next 26 months.

Here’s the sad chart detailing his tale of woe:

ManufJobJuly2014

July Unemployment Numbers: Kind of Yucky, Actually July 3, 2014

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June was a tough month for full-time employment, making the monthly employment chart take a sharp turn for the worse:

FullTimeEmpvsCivPopJuly2014

But I’m sure we’ll just build some roads and bridges, and we’ll be right as rain in no time.

Since that worked so well last time.

A New Hobby, Perchance? June 20, 2014

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I swear, I waste way too much time blogging when I could be doing amazing, awe-inspiring things with my time.

Like building a 6-foot tall Bender out of Legos:

Bender Bender Innards

This was built by Adrian Drake, and all rights and credit for the photos are also his.

Yes, You’re Surrounded by Idiots June 18, 2014

Posted by geoff in News.
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Never underestimate the stupidity of large crowd…sources.

“Yo.” That is all you can say with Yo, the new messaging app for iOS and Android. Yet somehow it has raised $1 million from investors and has attracted 50,000 users. The self-described “single-tap zero character communication tool” was created in eight hours by Or Arbel, an entrepreneur who moved to San Francisco from Israel. (Yes, he is hiring). As one might imagine, it’s pretty easy to use. Tap someone’s name and it will send a push notification that says, “Yo.”

Many crowdsourcing projects have been meritorious and successful. But I suspect stories of these not-so-meritorious projects will be cropping up more frequently.

You’re Doing It Wrong June 18, 2014

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Wedges are for chumps. Apparently people a century ago figured out a better way to cut cake and keep it moist.

Rediscovered by Alex Bellos, author of The Grapes of Math, and demonstrated in a video on Numberphile’s YouTube channel, the trick is to cut the cake all the way across the middle, removing a strip, pushing the remaining cake together and sealing with a rubber band. Unlike with the wedge, none of the interior is exposed to air, which keeps the entire cake moist and delicious for days to the last slice.

Or you can just take the approach developed by IBers, wherein you simply eat the cake, rendering the problem moot.

DinTX advises me that the same method can be applied to pie, and I can certainly vouch for the carton of ice cream.

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