Thursday, September 29, 2011

Census Bureau corrects overstated gay households

Obama's Census Bureau admitted that it overstated the number of gay households - married and unmarried. They are 0.55% of all households.

CNS News
( - The Census Bureau admitted Tuesday that it had “artificially inflated the number of same-sex couples” in the United States, initially reporting a number that was about 40 percent higher than what it now believes is accurate. 
The original data published by the 2010 Census set the number of same-sex households in the U.S. in 2010 at 901,997, including 349,377 same-sex married couple households and 552,620 same-sex unmarried partner households. 
But the Census Bureau said in a Tuesday conference call with reporters that it has revised these numbers downward “because Census Bureau staff discovered an inconsistency in the responses in the 2010 Census summary file statistics that artificially inflated the number of same-sex couples.” 
The Census Bureau now says the 2010 Census found that there were 131,729 same-sex married couple households and 514,735 same-sex unmarried partner households in the United States--for a total of 646,464 same-sex-couple households.
Given that the Census Bureau says there were 116,716,292 total households in the United States in 2010, that means same-sex households made up only 0.55 percent of the total.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NC Democrat Governor Perdue proposes suspending election

North Carolina Democrat Governor Beverly Perdue proposed suspending elections. And she was not joking.

Daily Caller
As a way to solve the national debt crisis, North Carolina Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue recommends suspending congressional elections for the next couple of years. 
“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover,” Perdue said at a rotary club event in Cary, N.C., according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “I really hope that someone can agree with me on that.” 
Perdue said she thinks that temporarily halting elections would allow members of Congress to focus on the economy. “You have to have more ability from Congress, I think, to work together and to get over the partisan bickering and focus on fixing things,” Perdue said.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

WEA teachers union gambled in Tacoma and lost

The parents and kids really lost. But the union could have had the same agreement in August and not messed up two weeks for 28,000 kids.

Liv Finne is the education specialist at Washington Policy Center; she reports:

Earlier this year, leaders at the statewide teacher union, the WEA, developed a plan to go on strike in local districts that didn’t agree to union demands. In passing New Business Item #6 at their May 12th meeting, union executives outlined a plan for closing schools on days that create maximum disruption for families and children. 
The purpose was to show union power – pick a school district and make an example of it.
At the time no one knew which school district would be targeted. By late August however, it was clear a strike was planned at Tacoma schools, depriving 28,000 children of access to a public education. 
The union closed the schools and, as parents scrambled to make childcare arrangements, a judge ordered teachers back to work. Union executives ignored the order and, along with district officials, were ultimately summoned to the Governor’s office. The strike ended up punishing school children because the adults couldn’t agree on the details of the district’s personnel policy.
The final agreement represents an important victory for students. By gaining flexibility in work assignments district officials will be better able to place the best teachers in the classroom, not just the ones with the most seniority. But the entire conflict could have been avoided. 
What did the strike accomplish? Nothing. Union executives agreed to a proposal they could have accepted months ago, when they were talking with district officials over the summer. Children in Tacoma would have gone to school on time and without incident, just as they did in 294 other school districts. The same result would have been achieved peacefully, without closing schools and without disrupting the lives of thousands of Tacoma families. 
Tacoma union executives gambled and lost. They followed the plan laid out in May in WEA New Business Item #6. They lost in court, lost the unquestioned backing of the Governor, lost the respect of many parents and, most importantly, they needlessly embroiled Tacoma students and their teachers in a public, high-stakes fight that no child should have to witness.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fact check: Obama wrong on income taxes

President Obama is wrong when he says millionaires are paying federal taxes at lower rates than middle income earners. The fact checker:

Seattle Times

"On average, the wealthiest people in America pay a lot more taxes than the middle class or the poor, according to private and government data. They pay at a higher rate, and as a group, they contribute a much larger share of the overall taxes collected by the federal government.

"The 10 percent of households with the highest incomes pay more than half of all federal taxes. They pay more than 70 percent of federal income taxes, according to the Congressional Budget Office."

Energy saving ideas by young UW professor

New ideas, inventions and a start-up company... at age 29... University of Washington Asst. Prof. Shwetak Patel...

Seattle Times

At Georgia Tech, Patel was researching how to monitor the health and safety of elderly people living at home. Realizing that wiring a home with cameras was too expensive and invasive, Patel came up with a unique solution.

He figured out how to disaggregate the "voltage noise" of a home's electrical system to determine if specific devices or light bulbs were on. Each device, when turned on, sings a specific electric tune, and Patel developed algorithms to be sensitive ears.

Instead of a home festooned with cameras to monitor Grandma, Patel developed a single sensor that plugs into an outlet, and decided the technology could be applied to home-energy conservation as well.
Instead of a once-every-two-month lump statement of energy consumption, Patel's sensor gives a homeowner "a readout that tells you exactly what's going on with each device, each light bulb, and so the feedback can make you smarter about your usage," said Ed Lazowska, the Bill & Melinda Gates professor in the computer-science department. "The goal is to make it so dirt simple that any consumer can use it."

After Patel and his wife, Julie Kientz, also a UW professor, were hired in 2008, Patel applied the same concepts to water usage — with a diagram detecting the sonic resonance of each faucet — and natural gas. He also has worked with insurers to develop a moisture and carbon-monoxide sensor, using a home's electrical wiring as an antennae, to reduce power consumption.

"[Patel] is just unbelievably creative," Lazowska said. "He thinks about this stuff a mile a minute. And he's totally the nicest guy in the world."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Coverup of first computer-projected election

Walter Cronkite was on the air in the first election whose results were projected by a computer in 1952 and he lied. With 5 per cent of election returns the UNIVAC computer projected a landslide by Eisenhower. But Cronkite wouldn't say that; he said it projected a close victory... Why? The New York elite expected Stevenson to win. Where did Cronkite get his reputation a the straight-shooting news reporter?
Ars Technica
... On that night they witnessed the birth of an even newer technology—a machine that could predict the election's results. Sitting next to the desk of CBS Anchor Walter Cronkite was a mockup a huge gadget called a UNIVAC (UNIVersal Automatic Computer), which Cronkite explained would augur the contest. J. Presper Eckert, the UNIVAC's inventor, stood next to the device and explained its workings. The woman who actually programmed the mainframe, Navy mathematician Grace Murray Hopper was nowhere to be seen; for days her team had input voting statistics from earlier elections, then wrote the code that would allow the calculator to extrapolate the contest based on previous races.

To the disquietude of national pollsters expecting a Stevenson victory, Hopper's UNIVAC group predicted a huge landslide for Eisenhower, and with only five percent of the results. CBS executives didn't know what to make of this bold finding. "We saw [UNIVAC] as an added feature to our coverage that could be very interesting in the future," Cronkite later recalled. "But I don't think that we felt the computer would become predominant in our coverage in any way."

And so CBS told its audience that UNIVAC only foresaw a close race. At the end of the evening, when it was clear that UNIVAC's actual findings were spot on, a spokesperson for the company that made the machine was allowed to disclose the truth—that the real prediction had been squelched.

"The uncanny accuracy of UNIVAC's prediction during a major televised event sent shock waves across through the nation," notes historian Kurt W. Beyer, author of Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age. "In the months that followed, 'UNIVAC' gradually became the generic term for a computer."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Arab winter in Cairo

The thirty year peace between Egypt and Israel has been unilaterally breached by the "new Egypt."

The Sinai desert was crossed to attack undefended Eilat, Israel two weeks ago.

Saturday Egyptians sieged then ransacked the Israel embassy in Cairo.

What changed? The rapid overthrow of President Mubarak. We rushed him out. We could have thought about what might happen and let the process go longer.

The Islamist government of Turkey is also threatening.

For an overview. Fox News

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Washington pensions

Smart people who are following what Washington State has promised in pensions for legislators and employees say that we are committed to an exploding bill. The state is using unrealistic assumptions on interest rates. This "saves" money now but the bill will come later and it will really hurt. We need to face the music now and set more aside. And lower the promises.

Seattle Times

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Remember the attack on 9/11 - newspaper front pages

To help us remember the aftermath of 9/11/2001 the Seattle Times has a page with nine front pages - seven for the days immediately following, one in October, 2011 and the first anniversary edition. The pages show as small replicas and they enlarge when you click one of them. Nice feature.

Seattle Times

I am looking for something that captures the uncertainty of the first hours. After the FAA ordered all aircraft to land at the nearest airport, something like eight commercial flights were missing. We knew the next day that United 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, but for around two hours those other flights were also unaccounted for and we didn't know what might happen - how many more aircraft might have been hijacked.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Wealthy Chinese want to leave

This is not sustainable. The wealthy people of China want to leave their country; many already have. Could oppressive policies of the Communist leaders of China be motivating them? Yes, they say.

They can only have one child. They have to stifle their opinions. It is not "the land of the free." And they are worried about protecting their assets. Translation: they know their authoritarian government can arbitrarily take their assets. In China one cannot buy property, but only a 70-year lease, according to the article. And its leaders are known for favoritism - favoritism to the relatives of the most powerful leaders. How do you compete with one of them?

Houston Chronicle

... Despite more economic freedom, the communist government has kept its tight grip on many other aspects of daily life. China's leaders punish, sometimes harshly, public dissent and any perceived challenges to their power, and censor what can be read online and in print. Authoritarian rule, meanwhile, has proved ineffective in addressing long standing problems of pollution, contaminated food and a creaking health care system.

"In China, nothing belongs to you. Like buying a house. You buy it but it will belong to the country 70 years later," said Su, lamenting the government's land leasing system.

"But abroad, if you buy a house, it belongs to you forever," he said. "Both businessmen and government officials are like this. They worry about the security of their assets."

But it's beyond individual freedom and wealth. They are also worried about social unrest.

... There is also a yawning gap between rich and poor in China, which feeds a resentment that makes some of the wealthy uncomfortable. The country's uneven jump to capitalism over the last three decades has created dozens of billionaires, but China barely ranks in the top 100 on a World Bank list of countries by income per person.

Getting a foreign passport is like "taking out an insurance policy," said Rupert Hoogewerf, who compiles the Hurun Rich List, China's version of the Forbes list.

"If there is political unrest or suddenly things change in China — because it's a big country, something could go wrong — they already have a passport to go overseas. It's an additional safety net."

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Remember the attacks on 9/11 - TV news archive

How can we review and relive the events of that terrible day and week, September 11, 2001? A nonprofit had started archiving television news shows about three years before. So on 9/11 they doubled their efforts to get more.

Announcing the archive: Internet Archive

The archive: Understanding 9/11 Go toward the bottom of the page for a set of video clips in clock sequence. (There is a link to exhaustive TV footage, but it's not easy to use. They show everything but commercials, so there is a lot of time on stock market reports and everything under the Sun.

And a news article about it and some of their own direct links: Houston Chronicle

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Irene was a TS not a hurricane

Irene was a tropical storm, not a hurricane when it made landfall in the US. It was a hurricane in the Caribbean, through the Bahamas (Cat 3, then 2, then 1) and as it approached the coast of the US. But it was not a hurricane when it hit land. It was Tropical Storm Irene that crossed the coast of North Caroline, New Jersey and New York.

A hurricane has sustained winds of 64 knots, which is 74 mph.

WattsUpWithThat has time graphs of the winds at places the eye passed over. In North Carolina it was a strong tropical storm. In New York it was barely a TS.