Friday, October 29, 2010

Krugman on a what a Republican-controlled House will mean for the country:
How worried should we be by that prospect?

Not very, say some pundits. After all, the last time Republicans controlled Congress while a Democrat lived in the White House was the period from the beginning of 1995 to the end of 2000. And people remember that era as a good time, a time of rapid job creation and responsible budgets. Can we hope for a similar experience now?

No, we can’t. This is going to be terrible.
Read the whole thing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Playing With FirePlaying With Fire
Those of you not tuned in to hockey may have missed this story, and it's a pretty incredible, gut-wrenching tale.

Theo Fleury was all-star player for the Calgary Flames - a small-but-tough guy who could score (over 400 goals in his NHL career) but was even more notorious for being something of a trouble-maker on and off the ice. A suspension for failing drug tests - which he later admitted was part of a larger drug and alcohol addiction - effectively ended his career in 2003.

Fleury made news again a year ago, partly for an attempted comeback (he had a tryout with the Flames and played a few exhibition games, but didn't make the roster), but moreso for his autobiography. Playing With Fire detailed his hockey life and substance abuse problem but also dropped another bombshell: accusing his junior hockey coach of years of sexual molestation.

I post this now because of word that the coach, Graham James, who has already served prison time for abuse of young teenagers on his team, has been arrested again following 9 new complaints, including Fleury's.

Theo claims that his victimization was a direct cause of the substance abuse problems and bouts with rage that have plagued his adult life. Whether that's true or not, here's hoping he and all of James' victims can find some measure of peace and resolution. Failing that, hopefully this puts an end to his pattern of abuse, and saves some other kid or 2 the same torment.
All Non-Tea Party Protesters Must Stay in Their Homes
Shorter version of the Tea Party: "We need to return to an America where I can roam the streets and beat up anybody I damn well please who pisses me off."

First, a woman gets her head stomped; now a young woman protesting in silence gets slugged.
Mystery Quote
I’ve seen people like this, girls like this, and you just shake your head and go, how did it happen, so goddamn young, and it’s a bad path already at that age, 17, 18. That struck me. I hear people talk about, well, you know, I would never be in that position, and you’ve just got to do this or you’ve got to do that, and it’s your own fault. I go, no, not always. Some people get kicked in the teeth a lot, and sometimes we look down on that, and I don’t think it’s their fault a lot of the times. That’s what was interesting to me, that struggle of this is where I am now, how do I lift myself out of this and move on.
Guess who? It's from a too-short interview. Go read! Especially if you're one of the new elite.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm a little late to this, but still worth mentioning that President Obama's recent address directly to gay and lesbian teenagers is a remarkable moment.
I don’t know what it’s like to be picked on for being gay. But I do know what it’s like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don’t belong. It’s tough. And for a lot of kids, the sense of being alone or apart – I know can just wear on you. And when you’re teased or bullied, it can seem like somehow you brought it on yourself – for being different, or for not fitting in with everybody else.

But what I want to say is this. You are not alone. You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t do anything to deserve being bullied. And there is a whole world waiting for you, filled with possibilities. There are people out there who love you and care about you just the way you are. And so, if you ever feel like because of bullying, because of what people are saying, that you’re getting down on yourself, you’ve got to make sure to reach out to people you trust. Whether it’s your parents, teachers, folks that you know care about you just the way you are. You’ve got to reach out to them, don’t feel like you’re in this by yourself.

The other thing you need to know is, things will get better. And more than that, with time you’re going to see that your differences are a source of pride and a source of strength. You’ll look back on the struggles you’ve faced with compassion and wisdom. And that’s not just going to serve you, but it will help you get involved and make this country a better place.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kentucky Politics
Who among us has not joined together with a group of like-minded fellas to show support for our favorite political candidate and ended up surrounding, threatening and wrestling to the ground a woman who disagreed with us, before stomping on her head and sending her to the hospital? I mean, it's a natural progression really.
Numero Uno
Don't look now, but the Nashville Predators are on top of the NHL standings, with zero regulation losses so far, and 13 out of 16 possible points. But here's something that's even better news for the team: people are showing up. Through the first 5 home games, we have had 2 sellouts and attendance is up 19.4% over the first 5 home games last year.

Big road trip coming up after Thursday against St. Louis. 9 out of the next 10 away from home. Go Preds!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The New Elite?
Kevin is right. This Washington Post piece is ridiculous. Charles Murray tells us that a "new elite" in this country is "ignorant", "isolated" and "not of (America)". He starts off with all the usual elitist suspects: Harvard grads, etc. But then turns his fire toward a broader cultural (I guess) block.
Get into a conversation about television with members of the New Elite, and they can probably talk about a few trendy shows -- "Mad Men" now, "The Sopranos" a few years ago. But they haven't any idea who replaced Bob Barker on "The Price Is Right." They know who Oprah is, but they've never watched one of her shows from beginning to end.

Talk to them about sports, and you may get an animated discussion of yoga, pilates, skiing or mountain biking, but they are unlikely to know who Jimmie Johnson is (the really famous Jimmie Johnson, not the former Dallas Cowboys coach), and the acronym MMA means nothing to them.

They can talk about books endlessly, but they've never read a "Left Behind" novel (65 million copies sold) or a Harlequin romance (part of a genre with a core readership of 29 million Americans).

They take interesting vacations and can tell you all about a great backpacking spot in the Sierra Nevada or an exquisite B&B overlooking Boothbay Harbor, but they wouldn't be caught dead in an RV or on a cruise ship (unless it was a small one going to the Galapagos). They have never heard of Branson, Mo.
This is so tired and stupid. People are different and have different tastes, and yeah those tastes might reflect different sensibilities and sensitivities. Some like Nascar and Ultimate Fighting. Some of us prefer baseball (I guess loving America's game is now un-American?) and like our fights integrated into hockey games. And there are actually some Americans who prefer to actually participate in sports and exercise, as opposed to just watching millionaires on TV. Some like fiction that reinforces their evangelical outlook, and some like TV shows like The Sopranos. And there are plenty of people that cross these lines and like things from both sides.

Not so long ago, as Kevin points also describes, the elite went to the opera and played bridge, for example, and wouldn't have been caught dead at the local cinema for a weekly Western serial. If all it takes to exist in the new elite is HBO and biking trails, it's not so elite anymore is it?

The Tea Party needs to get this into their heads, somehow: If there is an elite in this country, it's not the 54% of us that voted for Obama. (Or the 48% or so that still approve of the job he's doing.) That's, you know, the opposite of an elite. It's called a majority.

If there is a troubling "elite" among us, it's the one-tenth of one percent of Americans that own more than 10 percent of the wealth in this country. If we could find a way to focus our political energies on understanding why we have let that happen at the expense of the middle class, instead of wondering why so many people opt for premium cable channels, our elections would make a lot more sense.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Water on the Moon
This is pretty cool, and amazing, and a good reminder that we really don't know what the hell is out there. With decades now to study the moon with super magnifying telescopes, the ability to send robot probes and even visiting the place in person a time or 2, we still couldn't definitively say whether there was water or not. Until now.
Last October, as it neared impact, the Lcross spacecraft released the empty second stage and slowed down slightly so that it could watch the stage’s 5,600-mile-per-hour crash into a 60-mile-wide, 2-mile-deep crater named Cabeus. A few minutes later, Lcross, quickly transmitting its gathered data to Earth, met a similar demise.

For people who watched the live Webcast video transmitted by Lcross, the event was a disappointment, with no visible plume from the impacts. But as they analyzed the data, scientists found everything they were looking for, and more. Last November, the team reported that the impact had kicked up at least 26 gallons of water, confirming suspicions of ice in the craters.
The water, scientists say, could conceivably be used for drinking or to be broken down and turned into fuel, perhaps for a trip to Mars.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Anita Hill Testimony Greatest Hits, Part 4
Who could forget this gem?!
One of the oddest episodes I remember was an occasion in which Thomas was drinking a Coke in his office, he got up from the table at which we were wording, went over to his desk to get the Coke, looked at the can and asked, "Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?"

On other occasions he referred to the size of his own penis as being larger
than normal and he also spoke on some occasions of the pleasures he had
given to women with oral sex. At this point, Late 1982, I began to feel
severe stress on the job. I began to be concerned that Clarence Thomas
might take out his anger with me by degrading me or not giving me
important assignments. I also thought that he might find an excuse for
dismissing me.
Thanks, Ginny for bringing this all back up! See all of the Anita Hill Greatest Hits posts.
We Need to Get Off Our Butts
A new study confirms, Americans take fewer steps:
The study tracked the steps of 1,136 adults around the United States who wore pedometers for two days in 2003. The results were compared to similar pedometer studies in Switzerland, Australia and Japan. The data collected showed that Americans, on average, took 5,117 steps a day, far short of the averages in western Australia (9,695 steps), Switzerland (9,650 steps) and Japan (7,168 steps)....

The fitness gap detected by the pedometer studies is equal to about 30 to 40 minutes of walking each day. One mile of walking covers about 2,000 steps, researchers say. The health community typically urges people to take at least 10,000 steps a day to maintain good health, which is equal to about five miles of walking.
Memo to America: Your Taxes Have Been Cut
The NYTimes notes that most Americans wrongly believe their federal taxes have gone up. In fact, taxes have been cut for 95% of the country. One reason why Democrats have failed to capitalize on this fact - apart from our general inability to hammer away at politically popular talking points the way Republicans do - is that the tax cut was meant to go mostly unnoticed. Why? Because it would be more effective that way. That's right: faced with the choice of instituting a tax cut that would be obvious and celebrated, or hidden and more effective, President Obama chose against political expedience and took the route that had the better chance of helping the economy.
Faced with evidence that people were more likely to save than spend the tax rebate checks they received during the Bush administration, the Obama administration decided to take a different tack: it arranged for less tax money to be withheld from people’s paychecks.

They reasoned that people would be more likely to spend a small, recurring extra bit of money that they might not even notice, and that the quicker the money was spent, the faster it would cycle through the economy.

Economists are still measuring how stimulative the tax cut was. But the hard-to-notice part has succeeded wildly. In a recent interview, President Obama said that structuring the tax cuts so that a little more money showed up regularly in people’s paychecks “was the right thing to do economically, but politically it meant that nobody knew that they were getting a tax cut.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Anita Hill Greatest Hits, Part 3
On several occasions Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual
prowess. Because I was extremely uncomfortable talking about sex with
him at all, and particularly in such a graphic way, I told him that I did not
want to talk about these subjects. I would also try to change the subject
to education matters or to nonsexual personal matters, such as his
background or his beliefs. My efforts to change the subject were rarely
Parts 1 and 2 and the weird news that started this walk down memory lane are below.
Anita Hill Testimony Greatest Hits, Part 2
Having a great time revisiting Anita Hill's 1991 Judiciary Committee testimony during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Here's another great moment from the transcript:
My working relationship became even more strained when Judge Thomas began to use work situations to discuss sex. On these occasions, he would call me into his office for reports on education issues and projects or he might suggest that because of the time pressures of his schedule, we go to lunch to a government cafeteria. After a brief discussion of work, he would turn the conversation to a discussion of sexual matters. His conversations were very vivid.

He spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals, and films showing group sex or rape scenes. He talked about pornographic materials depicting individuals with large penises, or large breasts individuals in various sex acts.
See an earlier great moment below. I have no idea why Mrs. Thomas would want to bring all of this back up (drunk dialing? off her meds? honestly delusional?), but I'm glad she did!
Anita Hill Testimony
I had hoped to wait until a proper 20th anniversary to relive these glory days, but with the WTF news-of-the-day, it seems as good a time as any to revisit Anita Hill's time before the Judiciary Committee, testifying about her former boss, Clarence Thomas, and his excellent workplace manners.
After approximately 3 months of working there, he asked me to go out
socially with him. . . .

I declined the invitation to go out socially with him, and explained to him
that I thought it would jeopardize what at the time I considered to be a
very good working relationship. I had a normal social life with other men
outside of the office. I believed then, as now, that having a social
relationship with a person who was supervizing my work would be ill
advised. I was very uncomfortable with the idea and told him so.

I thought that by saying "no" and explaining my reasons, my employer
would abandon his social suggestions. However, to my regret, in the
following few weeks he continued to ask me out on several occasions. He
pressed me to justify my reasons for saying "no" to him. These incidents
took place in his office or mine.
Apparently the only person who to this day believes she just made the whole thing up out of nothing is Mrs. Clarence Thomas.
Weirdest News Ever?
Nearly 20 years after Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Justice Thomas’s wife has called Ms. Hill, seeking an apology. 
“Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas,” it said. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.”
So Long, Teevee Mom and Dad
Over the weekend, Barbara Billingsley passed away. Now comes news that Tom Bosley has died.
June Cleaver and Mr. Cunningham dying in the same week? Coincidence?

Thinking about Leave it to Beaver and Happy Days makes me wonder: which was more unrealistic, TV show families from the 1950s? Or families in TV shows set in the 1950s?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Great News From the Department of Obvious
As I point out over at the other blog, the Justice Department agrees: Islam is a religion. Using dictionaries, congressional statutes, court decisions, and official statements of Presidents from Thomas Jefferson to George W. Bush, our fabulous Middle TN US Attorney, Jerry Martin filed a painstaking brief to make the rather indisputable case in the Murfreesboro Mosque case. That's the suit in which crackpot Frank Gaffney argued as an expert for plaintiffs that somehow Islam is not a religion... 1300 or so years of evidence to the contrary.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hockey Update
Don't look now, but the Nashville Predators are 3-0 and sitting on top of the Western Conference, despite having to go with a rookie in goal the last 2. 79 games to go, obviously, but the team looks great heading into tonight's showdown with maybe the best team in the NHL, the Capitals. Former comeback player of the year Steve Sullivan already has 4 goals, the powerplay is producing, the offense looks more creative than it has in years, and the defense is solid with the best pair in the league: Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.

Stay tuned!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Minority Children Test Scores: Going Up? Maybe.
No time to say much about this, but it addresses a common Article 19 theme: what the hell do we do about education? Is anything we are trying working? Are public education outcomes as bad as everyone says?

Bob Somerby points to research that is hopeful, and has a generally glass-half-full attitude about it. Kevin Drum, reluctantly, pours a bit of cold water on the news. Read both.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Distressing, Indeed
Today's NYTimes editorial
The Obama administration professes to oppose the odious and misguided policy of banning gay soldiers from serving openly in the military. So it was distressing to hear that the Justice Department plans to appeal a federal court order that the military immediately stop enforcing the law that is used to drum out gay service members once their sexual orientation becomes known.
Meanwhile Secretary Gates announced that the military will abide by the judge's order pending further legal outcomes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rubber Soul (Remastered)Beatles Class Questions
So, tomorrow we start in on Rubber Soul. Here are my two questions for the class to answer: which track is the greatest departure from their previous material? Which sounds the most original/creative/experimental generally?

What do you think?

Got any predictions about their favorite and least favorite songs? Will they think differently about "Drive My Car" after they hear Otis Redding's version of "Respect", released just a few months before The Beatles recorded their opening track? Will they like "If I Needed Someone" better or worse when they find out the intro is an homage to The Byrds' "Bells of Rhymney"? Do these direct influences make the songs less original?

Do I even want to get into "Run For Your Life", which opens: "I'd rather see you dead little girl than to be with another man"? Is the song defensible? Is he just kidding? Using hyperbole? Revealing his character? Just playing a role? Are hints of this side of John already evident in "No Reply"? ("If I were you, I'd realize that I loved you more than any other guy..."). Obviously the sentiment is not unprecedented. Still, how should we hear it?

Should we just not take seriously the words?
Let's Hope it Sticks
The country would be better served by Congress properly rectifying this mistake, but now that they have proven themselves not up to that task, I'm glad a Judge has done what Democrats wouldn't: put a stop to Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

A federal judge issued a worldwide injunction Tuesday stopping enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, ending the military's 17-year-old ban on openly gay troops.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips' landmark ruling was widely cheered by gay rights organizations that credited her with getting accomplished what President Obama and Washington politics could not.
U.S. Department of Justice attorneys have 60 days to appeal. Legal experts say the department is under no legal obligation to do so and could let Phillips' ruling stand.
I don't see the Justice Department just letting it stand, but the administration is in a tough spot arguing for the injunction to be lifted, aren't they?
Superman Meets His Match?
The NYTimes profiles the charter schools celebrated (I think "celebrated" is the right word, haven't seen it) in the new documentary film Waiting For Superman. The schools are the vision of a man - Geoffrey Canada - with a broad, societal view of the things that need to change to turn around public schools. Most dauntingly, he argues, changes will be expensive and results may take a generation to show up.
Mr. Canada, 58, who began putting his ideas into practice on a single block, on West 119th Street, in the mid-1990s, does not apologize for the cost of his model, saying his goals are wider than just fixing a school or two. His hope is to prove that if money is spent in a concentrated way to give poor children the things middle-class children take for granted — like high-quality schooling, a safe neighborhood, parents who read to them, and good medical care — they will not pass on the patterns of poverty to another generation.

“You could, in theory, figure out a less costly way of working with a small number of kids, and providing them with an education,” Mr. Canada said. “But that is not what we are attempting to do. We are attempting to save a community and its kids all at the same time.”
As uplifting as his efforts are, though, the reality is staggeringly depressing about the challenges we face in education. These are schools that are heavily, heavily funded with private money from Wall Street philanthropists who believe in the project. Students have incentives, teachers have incentives, class sizes are low, the school year is long, college is emphasized, there are after-school programs, mentors and tutors, guidance counselors, social workers, a chef to prepare fresh nutritious meals and lots more, the kinds of assets we would want all public schools to have but know realistically we would and maybe could never pay for on a national scale.

And yet, achievement gaps remain. What's next? What's left?

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Big Myth
There never was a big expansion of government spending. In fact, that has been the key problem with economic policy in the Obama years: we never had the kind of fiscal expansion that might have created the millions of jobs we need.
[T]he administration has had a messaging problem on economic policy ever since its first months in office, when it went for a stimulus plan that many of us warned from the beginning was inadequate given the size of the economy’s troubles. You can argue that Mr. Obama got all he could — that a larger plan wouldn’t have made it through Congress (which is questionable), and that an inadequate stimulus was much better than none at all (which it was). But that’s not an argument the administration ever made. Instead, it has insisted throughout that its original plan was just right, a position that has become increasingly awkward as the recovery stalls.
Banksy Does The Simpsons
In care you missed it (I did), yesterday's episode of The Simpsons included an extended opening theme sequence (if you're not a show watcher, the intro always concludes with a unique ending for each episode. Watch every couch gag here, if you're interested). Apparently the segment was created/directed by underground British graffiti artist Banksy, who I've only heard of because of a pretty good documentary I caught earlier this year.

His opening depicts the animation of The Simpsons and its extensive merchandising being produced by overseas sweatshops. BBC reports the show's animation department threatened to walk out over it. Watch below; I'm kinda surprised they aired it.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Local Governments Pulling the Plug on Job Growth
David Leonhart looks at the new job growth numbers - which show a flat 9.6% unemployment rate and an ominous 95,000 jobs lost in September, despite 64,000 jobs being added in the private sector. The culprit? Local governments, which are shedding jobs faster than any time since 1982.
They cut 76,000 jobs last month and over the last three months have cut 143,000 jobs, many in education... That’s 1 percent of total local-government employment across the country...

The federal government has been cutting jobs too in recent months — partly because of the end of Census taking — and state government governments have made small cuts in employment.
Combined, these government layoffs have more than outweighed a modestly improving situation — or at least a stabilizing one — in the private sector. In the last three months, the private sector has added an average of 91,000 jobs a month. That’s down from of an average of 150,000 early this year, but up from about 75,000 in the middle of this year.
States and local governments think they are being responsible by cutting back to balance budgets in the face of lower tax receipts, but they're contributing mightily to the problem (an anti-stimulus, as Ezra Klein says) by helping to drive up unemployment numbers at a time the economy can least afford it.

Most annoying of all, Republicans who are crowing about this flat job growth are counting on some serious amnesia in the country. This year, the private sector has added more jobs (863,000) than in any year during the Bush Administration.

Is it enough to put the unemployed back to work and account for population growth? No. But enough to stop the bleeding. American voters don't like to play the blame game I know, when it requires looking back more than a year or so, but would do well to remember that Republican control is what caused the bleeding.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Opening Night
Drop the puck! The Predators don't hit the ice for 2 more nights, but it's still an exciting night! I've always been a basketball fan, but there really is no better sport than hockey.

My division champion predictions:
Atlantic: New Jersey (edging out Pittsburgh)
Northeast: Toronto (call me crazy!)
Southeast: Washington (in a walk)

Central: Nashville (gotta believe!)
Northwest: Vancouver
Pacific: San Jose

Stanley Cup Conference Finals:
New Jersey disappoints Washington in 5.
Vancouver's home ice is too much for Nashville, in 7.

Vancouver beats New Jersey in 5 to bring the cup back to Canada.
The Beatles Mono Box SetRandom Beatles Thought
I'm not much of an audiophile, and get mildly annoyed when people tell me I really need to hear something on vinyl, or pay attention to this subtly different mix over that one. It's just not the kind of thing that makes that much difference to me. So while I at the time I thought it was a bit silly (money-grubbers) for them to release it, I have to say that Help! sounds really awesome in mono.
Man's Incessant Networking, Refusal to Throw Away Crap From His Wallet - Ever - Leads to Revolutionary Breakthrough in Devastating Biological Mystery
Well, ok, it's not quite like that, but still a really good story. Researchers may have finally, finally discovered the cause of the honeybee "colony collapse" that has threatened the pollination needs of farmers all around the world. Starting in 2006, beekeepers began finding completely empty hives. Bees not only died mysteriously, but abandoned the hive and spread out in every direction to die on their own. Highly un-beelike behavior.

Everything from cell phone towers to pesticides have been suspected, but the answer finally came when bee researchers teamed up with the military, whose new systems for identifying microscopic life forms turns out to be exactly suited for this problem they weren't even thinking about. How did they get together? That's where the man who keeps business cards comes into play.
The Army software system — an advance itself in the growing field of protein research, or proteomics — is designed to test and identify biological agents in circumstances where commanders might have no idea what sort of threat they face. The system searches out the unique proteins in a sample, then identifies a virus or other microscopic life form based on the proteins it is known to contain. The power of that idea in military or bee defense is immense, researchers say, in that it allows them to use what they already know to find something they did not even know they were looking for.

But it took a family connection — through David Wick, Charles’s brother — to really connect the dots. When colony collapse became news a few years ago, Mr. Wick, a tech entrepreneur who moved to Montana in the 1990s for the outdoor lifestyle, saw a television interview with Dr. Bromenshenk about bees.

Mr. Wick knew of his brother’s work in Maryland, and remembered meeting Dr. Bromenshenk at a business conference. A retained business card and a telephone call put the Army and the Bee Alert team buzzing around the same blossom.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

At the Other Blog
In which I defend the right of witches to run for office, because I couldn't resist.
So Easy a Second-Grader Could Do It?
Is the NYTimes' mathematician blogger (yes they have one) a bit out of touch? Here he is reveling in the thought that, if the material is presented in a certain way, a 2nd grader could perform certain basic principles of calculus.
If you are at all familiar with calculus, you may know that the vertical velocity is the first derivative of the height, and the acceleration is the second. If you didn’t, don’t worry about it: the simple procedure for second graders that we just did will give us the answers. They are as follows:

1. The gravitational acceleration (g) at the planetoid surface is the number in the last row. This comes out to be -14 meters/sec/sec.(Error corrected) (The minus sign indicates that it is downward in direction). For future reference, remember half this number (-7).
2. The vertical velocity of the cannonball is the first number in the second row minus half the g that we just determined. It is therefore 28 – (-7) = 35 meters/sec.
3. The vertical height of the cannon (obviously) is the first number in the first row. That’s 20 meters.

Now look what else we’ve accomplished! Given a sequence of numbers, we have, easy as pie, found the polynomial formula for it: it is the sum of the three numbers above: -7x2 + 35x +20. You can substitute the numbers 0 through 5 for x and confirm that you get the original series.

Easily done, using simple arithmetic that a second grader could do!
Um, yeah. Note the error that had to be corrected. But also, subtracting negative numbers? Variables? Do kids even divide double-digit numbers in half in 2nd grade, let alone negative numbers?
Fire Subscription Service Deep Thought [UPDATED]
After seeing news reports of Gene Cranick's home burning to the ground while firefighters watched, I am guessing the number of Fire Department subscribers in Obion County, TN has rapidly increased in the last 24 hours, dontcha think? So, letting house burn = windfall for city government? Maybe next year, if residents start getting behind in payments, the city can just secretly start the fire themselves? Teach those delinquents a lesson? Put Tony Soprano in charge?

[UPDATE: Funny, I see that in comments to yesterday's post, Stevie T and Doug were a step ahead of me, suggesting both of these ideas in comments last night. Great minds!]

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Conservative Government in Action
We wouldn't seriously think of letting essential services like police and fire protection be handled by the market would we? If government has any purpose we can all agree on, it's something like that, right? I mean, privatizing the Fire Department, would be some kind of stupid. And yet...
A local neighborhood is furious after firefighters watched as an Obion County, Tennessee, home burned to the ground.

The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn’t do anything to stop his house from burning. Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay. The mayor said if homeowners don’t pay, they’re out of luck.
Come on, people. Have fee for service arrangements for your county recycling program, maybe. But fire? How about we just use taxes for that?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Monday's Good News
The DNC has a record $16 million haul in September to help prepare for this last month of the campaign.

A new generic congressional poll actually puts Democrats in the lead, 46%-44%.

The NYTimes reports that "the resilience of vulnerable Democrats is complicating Republican efforts to lock down enough seats to capture the House and take control of the unsettled electoral battleground."

Home sales in August rose 4.3%

So, there should be really high turnout of voters ready to vote for Democrats and keep The Crazy at bay, right? Right? 

Friday, October 01, 2010

Beatles For Sale (Remastered)
Beatles Class Today
The topic is Beatles For Sale, their Christmas gift LP for 1964. We're looking especially for Bob Dylan influence in their original tracks of this album. What else is noteworthy?
Rest in Peace, Neil Alan Smith
And, though I wasn't exactly looking for a Friday morning cry, thanks to the St. Petersburg Times for telling me about him.

Every time I hear some conservative ass railing about the tyranny of the minimum wage, defending the insane wealth gap in this country, always blaming the poor for their poverty, I think of people like Neil who are all around us: men and women of quiet dignity, who do essential jobs most of us wouldn't like to do (or couldn't do), who are dependable and try to make do with what they have, who appreciate the modesty of their life and cherish its simple pleasures, who keep their troubles to themselves, and care for the troubles of their few closest friends, usually the only kind they have.  They don't ask for much and they deserve better, both in life and in death.