Friday, August 19, 2011

CTRL + F? Never Heard Of It

Alexis Madrigal in the Atlantic:
This week, I talked with Dan Russell, a search anthropologist at Google, about the time he spends with random people studying how they search for stuff. One statistic blew my mind. 90 percent of people in their studies don't know how to use CTRL/Command + F to find a word in a document or web page!
I blame the President.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Joe Biden and Republican "Terrorists"

Politico is standing by their reporting that Vice-President Joe Biden said, referring to Republicans on the other side of the budget negotiations, “They have acted like terrorists.”

Politico's first source emailed them while in the room with Biden, and Politico confirmed with three other sources by email while they, too, were still in the room with him. They then confirmed with a fifth source:
Like many stories, it started with a tip from a source who was inside the tense Aug. 1 Democratic meeting with Biden as the debt negotiations reached a critical point....reporters stand outside closed conference rooms, emailing people inside those meetings...After hearing from the first source, the two POLITICO reporters on the story, Jonathan Allen and John Bresnahan, quickly confirmed Biden’s words with three other sources who were in the same room. They also contacted a fifth source, who confirmed the basic reporting.
Five witnesses seems like a lot more reliable sourcing than most negative stories about Republicans. Remember the rumors about John McCain having an affair with a staffer? Front page news during the campaign, except it wasn't true. John Edwards fathering a child with a staffer? Who knew? At least until he was no longer a factor in the campaign.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rick Perry: Racist Swine or Victim of MSNBC Propaganda?

You decide:

MSNBC must have gotten a lot of pushback.

Here is the original:

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Are Argentinians Incapable of Learning From Their Mistakes?

Or from anyone else's? Apparently so:
(Argentine President Cristina)Fernandez has rankled Wall Street by imposing price controls, nationalizing private pension funds and publishing inflation data far below private estimates.
So, how have the Argentinians responded to Fernandez destroying the economy and stealing their life's savings?

"Argentine President Cristina Fernandez looks set to win a second term in October and deepen her interventionist policies after thrashing rivals."

Why cry for Argentina? They do this to themselves.

Of course, one could quite reasonably cry for the minority who understand that stealing life savings, inflating the currency, and imposing price controls add up to armed robbery of the masses by the criminal elite.

By the way the Reuters article describes Fernandez as "center-left". Good thing she isn't radical.

This reminds me of a book I read a couple years ago: "The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse: Based on the first hand experience of the 2001 economic collapse in Argentina" by Fernando Ferfal Aguirre.

It isn't very well written or edited, but the author is the first to say so. However, a lot of his experiences mirror things I saw in Lebanon in the Fall of 1975 and Spring of 1977. One of his more important points is that the lone individual or family living in an isolated area is running a very significant risk of torture and murder by people who want whatever the lone person or family might have.

In a really major breakdown, like the Lebanese civil war I saw, even small towns will be at risk. The village I was in, Jouar El Haouz, was a Christian village which, between my visits, was taken over by the PLO: One morning the villagers heard someone ringing the bell of the church across the street from my step-sister's house. They went to investigate. The PLO told them at gunpoint to start walking. No stopping at home. Just get out or get shot. A few very old people were allowed to stay, but they were all alone.

After the village was emptied the PLO went house to house, shooting the locks off the doors, then went in and vandalized what they didn't take: upholstery slashed, table tops gouged with knives, all clothes in closets cut with scissors. Eventually the Syrian peace-keepers moved in, and the PLO, unable to remove the ammo they were storing in my step-sister's house, blew it up.

If you look at the areal view at the Google link, you can see the church: It's the building with the orange tile roof on the inside of the bend in the road. Directly across the street to the northwest is a grayish rectangle: our house. There used to be an orange tile roof on it,too, but when the ammo dump exploded the roof went straight up and the walls moved out. It apparently has never been rebuilt.

If you back out a bit you see a lot of blue ponds. Those are reservoirs to catch snow and spring run off for irrigating the apple orchards during the summer. I spent a couple days guarding ours from a fellow who liked to cut the lock off the valve and steal the water. Not sure what I would have done if he had been pushy but fortunately the only person I saw was a goatherd with a Galil assault rife, and he just led his goats to the water and let them drink. No big deal.

Anyway, when things got bad there were a lot of shortages because trucks couldn't get to warehouses and out again: the village store ran out of bottled propane for stoves, and most foods. We had kerosene space heaters and were able to cook on one in the salon aka living room, and cooked a lot of windfall apples by candle light. Some nights that was all there was to eat. Or apples, cooked apples, apple juice, and Spam.

We had a gunfight around the house one night, and since my brother-in-law was against guns, we were at the mercy of whoever it was. They didn't try to come in, but if they had we were defenceless.

We had all gone to bed around 8:30 or 9:00. My bedroom was at the front of the house, and lying there in the dark I heard people standing on our porch, whispering. Then pulling back and releasing bolts on assault rifles. Shooting from the porch outside my window, with reverberations such that I couldn't tell which was the last shot and which the first reverberation. Then people running up the road Southwest of the church, and more shooting. Then silence, followed by a car driving fast past the house with it's lights out. Then it was over.

Next morning there was no sign of the shooting, no empty brass. No one in the village would say they knew who it had been. Just another night in a civil war zone.

Here is a website with a very little more on Jouar El Haouz.

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Artifical Libertarian Islands

5027 Comments in the first five hours?! This struck a raw nerve, and judging from those on the first page, certain moocher elements are frothing at the mouth.

Pay Pal founder and Facebook investor Peter Thiel has given $1.25 million to get them off the ground, so to speak.

Liz Goodwin has the story at Yahoo News.

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Why Government Employee Unions Hate Wisconsin

In the aftermath of legislation that clips the power of public employee unions in Wisconsin, the state's largest teachers union...issued layoff notices to 42 employees.

The new legislation limits collective bargaining,...requires local unions to hold annual recertification votes, prohibits employers from automatically deducting union dues from a public worker's payroll and allows bargaining-unit members to opt out of paying union dues altogether if they wish.

The announcement of layoffs at the Wisconsin Education Association Council,... affects about 40% of its workforce....
The union has even been sending recruiters to teachers' homes to persuade them to remain in the union, possibly under the "we know where you live" school of salesmanship. Or is it 'salespersonship'?

Erin Richards of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has more here.

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More on Mayor Nutter

Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer for the Christian Science Monitor, yesterday continued the coverage of Mayor Michael Nutter's criticism of blacks in Philadelphia.
the apparent willingness by many whites and some black leaders to assume that poverty and the dysfunction it brings can only be alleviated by the individual, not greater society.
"Apparent willingness"? How about explicit statement? This is an editorial statement in a news story and it is wrong. Poverty does not cause dysfunction: Dysfunction causes poverty. Poor neighborhoods may have a lot of criminals in them, but that is because criminals are dysfunctional and therefore by and large poor. Dysfunctional people may be poor without being criminal. Pointing out that there are rich criminals does not change that.

Society cannot educate you: you must take an eduction when it is available or remain unemployable at any but the lowest level: pure ignorant labor. The Man does not oppress children in school: Other dysfunctional children and their equally dysfunctional parents do. The only Man holding back children is the Man in their own heads.

For half a century "society" has subsidized unwed motherhood, unemployment, the myth that the Man won't let them succeed, and other dysfunctional behavior. Just like subsidizing opera, one gets more of what one subsidizes.

Surprise, surprise.

Eliminate all welfare, eliminate all subsidies to unwed parents, eliminate subsidies to dysfunctional behavior, stop tolerating those who blame their own failure on others, including the mystical Man, and in a generation I think the problems will be largely gone. While you are at it, make early release from prison conditional on learning to read, write, and do basic math.

If "society" caused this, then society has a responsibility to stop subsidizing this bad behavior. I blame the individuals who blame society.
Nutter's strong language enables white society in America to downplay poverty as the root cause of the black community's problems, says Columbia University political scientist Frederick Harris, author of the upcoming book, "The Price of the Ticket: The Rise and Fall of Black Politics in the Age of Obama.” "If this discourse was led by Ronald Reagan, for instance, people would call him on his racism, but now that you have a black face to these explanations it gives it legitimacy," he says.
"People would call him on his racism." Right: The only possible reason a white person could criticize individuals who are black is white racism. If this quote is accurate, Dr. Harris assumes white critics are racist: Isn't that assumption itself racist?

I have come around to thinking that the proper response today to being called a racist is to smile broadly and thank the speaker, for the speaker has publicly admitted they have nothing with which to refute any point made by the 'racist'. The speaker can only retreat into shutting down the conversation by accusing the other of being racist. Today, calling another a racist is nothing but an admission of the speaker's inability to refute anything the 'racist' said.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Andrew McCarthy on Mitt Romney's Federalism

He has some decent points.

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The Secret History of Guns, by Adam Winkler

The NRA was soft on gun control? Who knew? The change in the NRA's voting rights rules seems to have gotten them on the right track, though one must read the comments to find out that tidbit.

It's a surprisingly good article.

The Atlantic magazine has the story.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fun Architecture Around the World