Sunday, August 28, 2011

Let's drive down to the pier to see if the hurricane has flooded it

Let's drive down to the pier to see if the hurricane has damaged or flooded it. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, you want to drive back, like not get your van stuck in the water?

News Observer (NC) with photo of driver running to escape. She didn't earn the Darwin award, but there must be an award for this level of stupidity.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Too many lawyers - pay the burglar

The burglar is shot, so the burglary victims have to pay $300,000. We have too many lawyers in this country.

Colorado Springs Gazette:

An El Paso County jury on Friday awarded nearly $300,000 to the daughter of a burglar who was fatally shot in 2009 while breaking into an auto lot.

Parents of the victim, Robert Johnson Fox, embraced their attorneys after a judge announced the jury’s verdict, capping a two-week-long civil trial in which business owner Jovan Milanovic and two relatives were painted as vigilantes...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Statistician Meier saved millions of lives

Paul Meier was the one who insisted that fully (as much as possible) test on randomized groups of patients in testing drugs. Everyone else thought it unnecessary because the new drugs were obviously better. What an assumption.

Significance Mag
Today it is standard that such drugs and treatments are tested by a randomised clinical trial. Some patients are given the new treatment, some are given the old; and the decision as to who gets which treatment is made randomly. That tells us whether the new treatment is better than the old one or not. It is also the only real way of finding out. The randomisation part of it is key; without that, it can give unreliable results.

Yet in the 1950s the usual technique was to give a new treatment to the patients whom it was thought would most benefit from it. It frequently happened that those were the patients whose chances of recovery were the best in any case, under the existing treatments as well as the new one. The result was all too often that new treatments were thought to be better than old ones but in fact were not.

‘When I said “randomize” in breast cancer trials I was looked at with amazement by my clinical colleagues’ said Meier in an interview in 2004. ‘ “Randomize? We know this treatment is better than that one” they said. I said “Not really…” ’ That drugs are now rigorously tested, and that those tests give good and unbiased evidence for or against their effectiveness, is in very large part due to Meier.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Krugman proposes false space alien invasion threat

Update at bottom. Prof. Paul Krugman has the answer: if only there were a threat of an invasion by space aliens, we could our economy moving by taxing and borrowing to prepare for the invasion. And it doesn't matter if the warning is false: the spending will cause growth even if wasted. Harvard Prof. Kenneth Rogoff is on the same page.

Just a problem or two. It's a waste of money and there are opportunity costs of what else could have been done. How would we us all that "infrastructure"? It would be a waste of the money spent. And that money could have been spent in productive ways, such as not taking it as taxes, but allowing the people who would pay the taxes to decide how they can best use it = on home improvements, on education for themselves or for their kids, on... whatever is best for them!

Krugman is the star of the "I have a great idea: let's just waste money" crowd.

From Ed Morrissey at HotAir


NASA too! Global warming will demonstrate to extraterrestrials that we are killing ourselves off. And this will embolden them... Oh! We now know how to save ourselves. Al Gore! Guardian UK

Shawn Domagal-Goldman of Nasa's Planetary Science Division and his colleagues compiled a list of plausible outcomes that could unfold in the aftermath of a close encounter, to help humanity "prepare for actual contact".

In their report, Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis, the researchers divide alien contacts into three broad categories: beneficial, neutral or harmful.
Go to the source... Well, I wouldn't waste my time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Warm Beach has no beach

We just spent four great days at Warm Beach Conference Center just south of Stanwood - for the twevlth-straight year. It's a great location and a great facility. But it has no beach! There is a long, skinny arm of Port Susan, which is salt water. It has some fresh flow, but is dominated by salt water. There is canoeing when there is a high tide at during afternoon hours, but not this year.

I like to walk/hike down the 100-foot bluff then out into the delta. Along a dike past the arm I just described and farm lands. Most years I see bald eagles and geese - snow geese in winter and Canadians year-round.

It's a great feeling. There is open space/sky all around. A few birds singing. Actually I was surprised I didn't see more of them - one bald eagle and one great blue heron (I was too far from salt water for them) in two days.

Beach? The village of Warm Beach has a tiny street-end beach. You can tell you are getting close to it when you see the "no parking" signs. It is just the street-end wide - like 80 feet - and has clearly marked private property on both sides.

Photo: Apparent new flood control structure and vegetation in delta of Stillaguamish River.

Friday, August 12, 2011

La Route des Phares - lighthouses in Quebec

Quebec has major maritime geography and culture along the St. Lawrence River and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which is the salt water body protected by Newfoundland island and the north part of Nova Scotia. And there are a lot of lighthouses.

Sue Frause made a 1,000-mile trip along the coasts and islands to see the many phares, that is, lighthouses. She had photos at her blog Closet Canuck blog. And a newspaper article: Dedham, Mass., Daily News Transcript

Quebec's light house site which is in French. Welcome! Canada is bilingual except in the French areas. Maritime Quebec in English.

And for Madeline: The very remote Iles de la Madeleine.

Photo by Sue Frause. Click to enlarge.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tax cheat Geithner should sell organic vegetables

Sec. of Treasury Timothy Geithner will do less damage in another - any other - line of work. Arnold Ahlert at Canada Free Press reports on an expose of organic food.

Comedians Penn and Teller have a show call “Bulls**t!” which runs every so often on the Showtime cable network. The purpose of the show is to expose fraudulent ideas or thinking in an amusing way. The one I watched was about organic vegetables and whether or not they were any better than non-organic ones. The show, using both anecdotes and scientific evidence demonstrated pretty convincingly that they’re not. But the anecdotes revealed something profound about the way people think—or more accurately how some people allow feelings to completely over-ride reason.
... But all of the science paled in entertainment value to the taste test segments of the show. That’s the part where the dedicated “save the earth” crowd was asked to choose between two plates of vegetables or fruit and tell the presenter which one was organic. Time after time, people convinced organic foods were better, chose non-organic foods as their preferred choice in terms of looks and more importantly taste, by an 80-90 percent margin. Yet when asked by the presenter if this new information would cause them to re-consider their buying habits, virtually every one them said they would continue to buy organic products.
But it gets even better. In one hilarious segment, the presenter cut a banana in half, told people one half was organic and asked people which half tasted better.
One woman who claimed her entire diet consisted of raw fruit and vegetables, was especially effusive regarding how much better the organic half of the banana tasted. When the truth was revealed, the tester asked the woman if she still thought organic food was superior. She answered yes—and somewhat belatedly admitted such feelings might be “psychological.” In other words, facts be damned, I just like feeling good about what I believe in.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Japan street camouflage

Can you camouflage yourself on the street? See two examples. You might need it, so get ready now.

Just Cool Pics site

Friday, August 05, 2011

His crossword puzzles published in NY Times at age 14

Whoa! This kid is just 14 and a crossword puzzle he created was published in the NY Times June 16, 2011.

EDMONDS, Wash. -- An Edmonds teen became so good at crossword puzzles, he decided to build them himself. It landed him in the New York Times at just 14-years-old.

On the outside, David Steinberg looks like any teen, but inside, there are many words to describe him.

"I've always loved words," says Steinberg. "I use to play Scrabble a lot."

His parents, both English majors, no longer play with him.

"We never win, never win anymore," says his mother, Karen Steinberg. "It's just sad!"

David started doing crosswords at the age of 12.

"I guess I was getting bored of all the same puzzles all the time," he says.

Soon he started making his own crosswords.

"Then I was hooked," he says.

Just as he was finishing 8th grade at Lakeside School, David got to see the fruits of his labor in black and white. Not just any newspaper, but the New York Times, June 16, 2011 edition.

"The New York Times is not only the most well-known, kind of the cream of the crop, but the themes are the most unusual and creative," David says.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Obama proposed cutting Social Security, not Republicans

Tell the truth: It was President Obama who proposed cutting Social Security in the budget/debt deal, not the Republicans. So says prominent Democrat Representative John Conyers.

CNS News

"Now, whether they still made it wisely or they still stick to it remains to be seen but I say we’ve got to educate the American people at the same time that we educate the president of the United States because the Republicans, the Speaker Boehner or Majority Leader Cantor did not call for Social Security cuts in the budget deal – the president of the United States called for that and my response to him is to mass thousands of people in front of the White House to protest this."