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Wasted Ledes September 22, 2015

Posted by geoff in News.
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Via Instapundit, a fellow named Ed Regis wrote this about Mars settlement hopes:

In the early years of the 20th century, zeppelins filled with flammable and explosive hydrogen were all the rage in Germany, a reckless infatuation that ended with the eruption and crash of the Hindenburg in 1937. Sometimes, technology is a triumph of wild-eyed enthusiasm over the unpleasant facts of the real world.

But that would have been a much better introduction to a column on President Obama’s Green Energy initiatives, where reality has struck down pretty much everything the DoE has tried.

Settling Mars is much more doable than developing a practical, commercially viable, Green Energy technology. At least until we do a lot more R&D. Trying to force those immature technologies into the marketplace has led to a lot of churn, but no results.

And no jobs.

Maslow and the Parties’ Agendas September 20, 2015

Posted by geoff in News.
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We’ve talked before about how conservatives and liberals are at different tiers of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I’ll reproduce a bit of that post here, for the too-lazy-to-click crowd:

…I believe that conservative and liberal attitudes are informed by different positions on the Maslow hierarchy of needs chart. That’s the chart that shows that as societies/individuals progress, they move from one set of needs up to the next, gradually working toward self-actualization:

MaslowandtheDNC

This chart is one I’ve used before, and I am lazy, so I didn’t change the “DNC” label to something more relevant. But suffice to say that I think that conservatives live in Tiers 2 – 4, with special emphasis on the Safety Tier* (Tier 2). Liberals, on the other hand, occupy Tiers 3 – 5, with their emphasis on Tiers 4 & 5 (Esteem and Self-Actualization).

With that context, take a look at this WaPo column:

To the Democratic candidates, the 2016 presidential campaign is about shrinking the gap between rich and poor; combating climate change; and expanding voting rights, gay rights and workplace equality for women.

To listen to the Republican candidates is to hear an entirely different campaign — one that centers on defeating Islamic State terrorists, deterring a nuclear Iran, restricting abortion, and debating whether to deport illegal immigrants and construct a wall to keep them out.

The WaPo columnist thinks this shows how out-of-touch the GOP candidates are. But to me, it shows a consistent pattern: Conservatives are campaigning at the “Safety” Tier, and liberals are campaigning at the “Self-Actualization” tier.

Why are GOP candidates concerned with issues at such a low rung on Maslow’s ladder? Because that’s the highest level at which conservatives and libertarians expect government support. And because the right-leaning public has serious concerns about whether the country can continue to meet its obligations to provide security and stability. And finally, because the planks in the liberal platform are irrelevant if the issues at the “Safety” tier are not addressed.

Seems pretty in-touch to me.

Demon Seed September 20, 2015

Posted by geoff in News.
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The debate over punishment vs. rehabilitation for convicted criminals has gone on for decades – I remember it as part of a high school debate topic back in the 70’s. While there are always exceptions and grey areas, liberals typically support rehabilitation and conservatives prefer punishment. The arguments go like this:

Liberals/Rehabilitation: There’s no such thing as inherently bad people, there are just bad environments in which these people are raised and live. Punishing prisoners by incarceration compounds the problem by creating an even worse environment. If you teach criminals useful skills, they can become productive members of society, and by allowing the state to guide their schooling and upbringing, you can avoid creating criminals in the first place.

Conservatives/Punishment: Some people are just bad, and can never be rehabilitated. Plus, the success rate of rehabilitation is very low (i.e., the recidivism rate is very high – over 3/4 of released prisoners are rearrested within 5 years). It’s best at this point to protect the public by locking prisoners up and to try to deter criminal behavior through the threat of punishment.

And the Winner Is: Naturally both sides are correct: some people are deterred through the threat of punishment (about 40%, per California’s Three Strikes Law), and some are not. Some people can be rehabilitated, and some cannot.

And some people become criminals through bad upbringings and/or bad environments, and some people are just . . . evil.

You might think that last statement is questionable, but you’d be wrong:

Two recent psychological studies have found ways of spotting whether young children are vulnerable of becoming psychopaths, suggesting that parents don’t have total control over their offspring’s callous or cruel behavior.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales have found that some children as young as three years old display callous-unemotional traits (CU traits), which are linked to psychopathy.

Meanwhile, a UK study of more than 200 infants by researchers from King’s College London, the University of Manchester, and the University of Liverpool, found that it’s possible to predict whether five-week-old babies will go on to develop CU traits.

Five weeks old, huh? That pretty much settles the nature vs. nurture debate – at least for psychopaths. But if it’s true for psychopaths, it’s likely true for lesser criminal tendencies as well. After all, the cutoff line for being a psychopath is vague and somewhat arbitrary.

But having lost the “it’s all, or mostly, nurturing’s fault” argument, researchers are now hoping that nurture may cure the problem. A lib’s always gonna lib.

Though there’s evidence to suggest that psychopathy is influenced by genetics, researchers believe that parents could nurture their children in ways that could help them develop empathy.

Good luck with that. But at this point of our understanding of biology and psychology, I think I’ll stick with swift justice and stiff prison sentences.

Solar System to Scale September 19, 2015

Posted by Retired Geezer in Ballistics, Heroes.
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A group of friends went to a desert in Nevada and laid out a scale model of the Solar System.

Because GOP Voters Are So Racist and Sexist September 18, 2015

Posted by geoff in News.
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Especially them New Hampshire GOP primary voters:

Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is leading the GOP field in New Hampshire, a new poll finds.

A Voter Gravity poll released Friday shows Fiorina with 22 percent support among Granite State GOP primary voters. She has a 4-point edge over her nearest competitor, bigwig billionaire Donald Trump, who has 18 percent support.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson nets 10 percent support, with the poll finding no other Republican White House hopeful cracking double digits in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

Ayup – so racist and sexist.

The leading trio were followed by two white guys (Bush & Kasich) and then by two Hispanic guys (Cruz & Rubio), and then by Christie. So of the 8 GOP candidates with more than 5% support, four are minority or women, and four are white males.

GOP voters are clearly taking the candidacies of all of the contenders very seriously, regardless of race or sex. And nobody is talking about voting for them because it’s time for a woman or minority in the White House (as opposed to the leading arguments for voting for Obama or Hillary). They’re simply voting on the merits of their respective platforms.

And that’s exactly as it should be.

Where Men Dare Not Click September 18, 2015

Posted by geoff in News.
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At least this man:

What Actually Happens When Your Vagina Falls Out

Is this really a thing? Tell me this isn’t a thing.

Dalek On the Loose September 18, 2015

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Imagine getting on your subway in the morning, bleary-eyed, craving coffee, and you see this:

Dalek in the Subway

Apparently it’s touring London to advertise Saturday’s season premiere of Dr. Who.

WTH Microsoft? September 18, 2015

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I was already annoyed by the intrusive Windows 10 upgrade nags pushed to my computer (and apparently impossible to remove). But a week ago someone found this:

MICROSOFT HAS CONFIRMED that Windows 10 is being downloaded to computers whether or not users have opted in.

An INQUIRER reader pointed out to us that, despite not having ‘reserved’ a copy of Windows 10, he had found that the ~BT folder, which has been the home of images of the new operating system since before rollout began, had appeared on his system. He had no plans to upgrade and had not put in a reservation request.

He told us: “The symptoms are repeated failed ‘Upgrade to Windows 10’ in the WU update history and a huge 3.5GB to 6GB hidden folder labelled ‘$Windows.~BT’. I thought Microsoft [said] this ‘upgrade’ was optional. If so, why is it being pushed out to so many computers where it wasn’t reserved, and why does it try to install over and over again?

Checked my machine, and yes indeedy there’s a 6.15 GB hidden folder squatting on my hard drive. This is really beyond the pale, even for Microsoft.

I keep claiming that I’m going to migrate to Linux, and this sort of nonsense is exactly why.

Filene’s Back From the Dead, but Incorporeally September 17, 2015

Posted by geoff in News.
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I used to swing by the infamous Filene’s Bargain Basement in Boston back in the 80’s – it was always an adventure, and sometimes a harrowing experience. So I was very disappointed to hear that the chain was dissolved after entering bankruptcy.

But now they’re bringing it back:

It was less than four years ago that Filene’s Basement filed for bankruptcy and announced plans to quickly liquidate and close its stores, a victim of a hyper-competitive retail environment that was being dramatically reshaped by fast-growing off-price rivals and the rise of online shopping.

But now, the chain is back from the dead, re-launching next week as an online-only business that will have the familiar mix of home goods and apparel that customers remember from its previous incarnation.

Online? I think they’re missing the point. You can’t get bitten or lose an eye fighting for your bargains online.

If I Were a Seal… September 17, 2015

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…I’d be a lazy, humpback-riding seal:

Seal on Humpback

No More Caffeine Nightcaps September 17, 2015

Posted by geoff in News.
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I always have a caffeinated soda before I go to bed because, why not? Apparently this is why not:

It’s no news flash that consuming caffeine close to bedtime can interfere with sleep. But…caffeine has another physiological impact on sleep by delaying the body’s natural surge in the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which in turn pushes back the body’s circadian clock.

The problem in this case is that the circadian clock is “present in cells throughout our entire body,” says the researcher. “It’s in your fat cells; it’s in your muscle cells.” Messing with it appears to play a role in a wide range of health problems, from obesity to cancer.

Dang, when they said “…caffeine has another physiological impact…” I thought they were going to continue with, “…this stuff will make you a god damned sexual Tyrannosaurus, just like me. ”

Obama the President and Obama the Candidate, Juxtaposed September 16, 2015

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From Ace, Obama the President:

In the echo cham­ber that is pres­id­en­tial polit­ics, everything is dark and everything is ter­rible,” he lamen­ted at the Busi­ness Roundtable headquar­ters in Wash­ing­ton. Pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates, “don’t seem to of­fer many solu­tions for the disasters that they per­ceive, but they’re quick to tell you who to blame.”

Compared to Obama the Candidate:

  • Pure Gold: Obama Slams Bush for Expanding Executive Power, Ignoring Congress (March 31, 2008)
  • Obama Blames High Gas Prices On Washington (April 25, 2008)
  • Obama blames Bush, Wall Street, Says economic woes caused by bad decisions (July 29, 2008)
  • Obama reverts to 2008 plan: Blame Bush (April 19, 2012)
  • A huge list of Obama blaming various folks compiled January 25,2014

As usual, Barack Obama has the ability to stare the public in the eye while turning facts and history upside down.