The science is unsettled

Bill Nye is probably not the Antichrist, but that’s as much credit as I’m willing to give our New Age Dogmatists:

[T]he whole “Science: it works, b*tches” mindset irks me. I am (at least nominally) a scientist. I do research. I crunch numbers. One of the things I’ve had handed to me again and again is that it’s entirely possible to be WRONG about stuff. And also, an ongoing theme in ecology at least — what is the case in one system may not be in another system.

The people who talk about how much they “love” science … well, in a lot of cases, it seems to me that “science” as an amorphous concept is a replacement for whatever religious structure the person has rejected. Science is … in my mind, it’s more of a tool. It’s a way of relating to the natural world. The problem is, a lot of the “I ****ing Love Science” crowd seem also bent on sucking any of the mystery and wonder out of things, or at least that’s how some of them talk about it. And that makes me sad. Yes, I kind of understand what is known about monarch butterfly migration but STILL I look at them and am AMAZED that something that looks so fragile and is so tiny flies thousands of miles to a place in Mexico that they’ve never seen, to hang out over winter … and that they are phenologically different from the other generations of butterflies in that they hold off reproducing for MONTHS until they come back into the US in the spring … and it does amaze me and make me wonder at it.

Well, these two aren’t holding off:

Or it may be simply that, like plenty of organisms you’ve seen, they ****ing love ****ing.

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Have your affiliate

One of those ultra-informative Roberta X footnotes says:

Networks don’t have licenses; individual stations do. Only a tiny fraction of U.S. TV stations are actually owned by the network they carry. Most people don’t know that and assume that the station they watch ABNBCBS on must, in fact, be that network. So when a President Tweets, “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!” he is channeling H. L. Mencken’s Everyman, and threatening his waiter for the misdeeds of the cook.

The phrase that caught my eye was “tiny fraction.” When I started paying attention to this stuff back around 1970, there existed something called the 7-7-7 rule, tucked handily into the FCC regulations: a single owner, individual or corporate, could own a maximum of seven TV stations, seven AM radio stations and seven FM radio stations. Since each of the three networks in this pre-Fox era had about 200 affiliates nationwide, “tiny fraction” described the situation rather precisely.

But that was nearly half a century ago; regulations have been loosened, and in some instances thrown out entirely. Does “tiny fraction” still apply? The answer, I learned, is yes: CBS owns about 30 TV stations, NBC 13, and ABC only eight.

Does CBS, then, have twice the reach of its rivals? Not even. Of the 30 stations owned by CBS, only 16 actually carry CBS programs. Eight carry the program schedule of The CW, a network owned half by CBS and half by Time Warner. Two more are affiliated with MyNetworkTV, a sister company to, um, Fox. The other four are wholly independent.

Before you ask: Fox owns 28 stations. The largest station operator is Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns 173 stations, not including the Tribune Media properties which Sinclair has contracted to buy.

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There’s always a way

Our favorite fix-it female takes on a non-automotive task this time:

As a commenter noted, it’s a lot easier to do this if you can fit inside the cabinet.


MStakes were made

Warren Meyer’s idea: buy Windows laptops directly from Dell, set up with exactly the applications needed for Meyer’s staff. Dell is willing. Microsoft, maybe not so much:

As part of the setup process before I create the default image, I switch the Windows default browser to Chrome and the default app for opening pdf files to Adobe Reader. No matter what we do, when the new computer boots up with this image, Windows switches the default browser and PDF app to Microsoft Edge (apparently via ‘sysprep”). I might be able to live with this for the browser, but Edge is defective in opening PDF files, specifically it does not allow pdf’s with form fields to be saved in a way that retains the form entry. My users will never be able to figure out how to reset this themselves so now I have to figure out how to write batch files so I can override the Microsoft override after it runs.

Yeah, I know users like that. Nor is this the only intrusion by Windows:

Less intrusive but still irritating is the fact that Microsoft also adds back all their sales spam I deleted, including their “get office” and “try skype” apps.

With the possible exception of @SwiftOnSecurity, people are going to argue in favor of ditching Win10 in favor of [name of Linux distro]. I don’t see that happening, if only because if the users can’t handle routine Windows finagling, they’ll likely be utterly lost in Ubuntu.

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To go, so to speak

Okay, it’s not technically flushable, but otherwise it’s superior to the more familiar versions:

Note: Not tested on bears.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)


Five and thirty

I don’t think anyone here ever thought they’d see this again:

It was an unusual sight walking into the Oklahoma City Thunder’s practice facility Tuesday and seeing No. 35 on the wing, attempting 3-pointers with assistant coach Vin Bhavnani.

No, Kevin Durant was not visiting his old stomping grounds. It was the Thunder’s newest signing, undrafted rookie P. J. Dozier, who signed to a two-way contract Tuesday.

KayDee, of course, spent nine seasons in Thunder blue as #35. Dozier, a former Gamecock from South Carolina, says he didn’t even think about that:

Despite any apparent awkwardness, Dozier said he simply saw the numbers available, asked for 35 and got it. He said he didn’t think about who had previously worn the number when he asked for it.

“Honestly I didn’t even think twice about [Durant having it] when I said it because I had it in preseason when I was with Dallas,” he said. “I just saw it was open and took advantage of it.”

Turns out Dozier’s second cousin was the late Reggie Lewis, whose #35 jersey was retired by the Boston Celtics.

I have to believe Russell Westbrook, who signed his max contract extension on Kevin Durant’s birthday, laughed when he heard about it.


Or any other reason Y

“Why can’t a woman,” asked Professor Higgins, “be more like a man?”

The difference these days, it seems, is not quite what it used to be:

Just this week our ground floor office was invaded by a mouse. Being immersed in porting one change at a time over the last two months from one application to another application, a process that is many times more tedious than the dreaded documentation, I was gradually made aware of the rodent incursion by way of the loudness of the human reactions, over the better part of an hour. From the dudes, I noticed … the manly, manly, green-camo-wearing, boot-camp-surviving, returned-from-deployment, maybe-killed-somebody dudes … they were, as we say in military and military-contractor parlance, fucking loud.

I couldn’t help but notice the chicks in our office were as “manly” as you would care to expect. They just kept eyes down, photocopying their invoices or whatever like it was any other day. The chatter came from the Y-chromosome set. Now it’s true that the greatest portion of this was volume-setting-eleven observations that some other dude, let it be known, is afraid of mice. That, and banging on the locked office cubicle into which the illegal alien ensconced itself to scare it back out again. Perhaps this is in contrast to the noise the females would be making, if they made the noise, but see … there is the sticky wicket. I wouldn’t know. The chicks, contrary to the cartoon stereotype, were quiet about it. People call me sexist sometimes. With justification, they & some others would say. But, I do notice these things, and give credit where it’s due. If the image of the screeching woman perched atop a chair yelling her fool head off was ever based on reality in generations past — something has changed.

Stipulating that mice are mostly unchanged from time immemorial, we are left with two possible conclusions here: either the women have toughened up a great deal from the days of the standing-on-a-chair stereotype, or the men have been irretrievably wussified. I tend to think that the problem more likely lies with the guys who worry that behaving guyishly will render their dance cards resistant to marking. Little do they know that their desired women, by and large, don’t care, and Colonel Pickering, for his part, is remaining discreetly silent.

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I suppose this was inevitable

For all I know, there might be some of the dreaded dihydrogen monoxide in here:

What do the purists have to say?

And I guess that’s that.

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Beyond obsolete

Oh, yeah? Give me one good reason why I should upgrade to some Newer Products and Services.


Okay, that’s one.

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The Commissioner never noticed

If you grew up at exactly the right moment, you may remember Marta, a slave girl who comes to a rather scary end on a last-season episode of Star Trek:

Yvonne Craig as Marta

Of course, she was just as alluring in black and white as she was in green:

Yvonne Craig takes aim

Yvonne Craig takes a seat

Now think purple with yellow trim:

Yvonne Craig, dancer turned actress, had all the right moves in many a good show, and then retired to make a fortune in real estate, and a few bucks as an author (her 2000 autobiography From Ballet to the Batcave and Beyond). And yes, Batgirl was Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, though apparently he never figured it out. Then again, neither did Bruce Wayne.

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Now that’s what I call undocumented

Then again, no one asked me:

Florida has a U.S. senator who once flew aboard the Space Shuttle.

A congressional candidate from Miami can go one better: Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera says she’s been aboard a spaceship too. But this one was crewed by aliens. As in extraterrestrials.

Three blond, big-bodied beings — two females, one male — visited her when she was 7 years old and have communicated telepathically with her several times in her life, she says. (Sen. Bill Nelson served as payload officer aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986. All seven people aboard were from Earth. As far as is known.)

Rodriguez Aguilera, 59, a Republican who is running to replace retiring Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, recounted her experience with the ETs during a 2009 television interview.

She described “going up” inside the spaceship — though whether it went into space or just hovered around town was left unclear.

“I went in. There were some round seats that were there, and some quartz rocks that controlled the ship — not like airplanes,” Rodriguez Aguilera said.

Dilithium crystals!

Oh, sorry. I’ll be quiet now.

Among the things she said she found out from the aliens:

  • There are 30,000 skulls — “different from humans” — in a cave in the Mediterranean island of Malta.
  • The world’s “energy center” is in Africa.
  • The Coral Castle, a limestone tourist attraction in South Miami-Dade, is actually an ancient Egyptian pyramid.
  • “God is a universal energy.”

She also said that the aliens had mentioned Isis, though she didn’t clarify if they meant the terrorist organization or the ancient Egyptian goddess.

The most believable of those, perhaps, is the tale of the Coral Castle:

The grounds of Coral Castle consist of 1,100 short tons (1,000 t) of stones in the form of walls, carvings, furniture and a castle tower. Commonly believed to be made of coral, it is made of oolite, also known as oolitic limestone. Oolite is a sedimentary rock composed of small spherical grains of concentrically layered carbonate that may include localized concentrations of fossil shells and coral. Oolite is found throughout southeastern Florida from Palm Beach County to the Florida Keys. Oolite is often found beneath only several inches of topsoil, such as at the Coral Castle site.

The stones are fastened together without mortar. They are set on top of each other using their weight to keep them together. The craftsmanship detail is so skillful and the stones are connected with such precision that no light passes through the joints. The 8-foot (2.4 m) tall vertical stones that make up the perimeter wall have a uniform height. Even with the passage of decades and a direct hit on August 24, 1992, by the Category 5 Hurricane Andrew, the stones have not shifted.

Will all these revelations help or hurt her candidacy? There are three Republicans in the race. Then again, she has connections:

Rodriguez Aguilera’s daughter is former Republican National Committee Hispanic outreach director Bettina Inclán Agen. Her son-in-law, Jarrod Agen, is Vice President Mike Pence’s deputy chief of staff.

The 27th District of Florida, reports the Cook PVI, is D+5.

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Where credit is due

You learn something every day.

(Via Dawn Summers.)



File this under “Why the hell not?”:

Northern lights enthusiasts have discovered a new type of northern lights, and named it Steve.

You might wonder what Steve means. At first it didn’t mean anything. It was just a name. Steve comes from the animated movie Over The Hedge. In the movie, the main characters were watching bushes rustle. Out came an animal that they didn’t know. So they named it Steve.

Inevitably, it was decided that there had to be some official justification for “Steve”:

Burcu Kosar, Research Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, says researchers have now turned Steve into an acronym — Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.

But where did Steve come from?

Steve likely forms when electrically-charged particles from the sun collide with magnetic energy found in Earth’s atmosphere.

It streaks across the sky at a speed of approximately 21,600 km/h.

Steve also hits temperatures as high as 6,000 degrees Celsius, which is as hot as Earth’s core.



First you have to get their attention

This is as true of selling romance novels as it is of trying to vend latex paint or breakfast cereal. All I can say is that this piece, unsurprisingly, got my attention:

Advertisement for To Win Her Love by Mackenzie Crowne

“May I see a proper blurb, please?” Of course you may:

When a bizarre child custody stipulation pits popular sports blogger Gracie Gable against football superstar Jake Malone, losing the battle for her twin nieces isn’t the only thing Gracie has to worry about. Forced to live for three months under the same roof as the sexy tight end, will she fall prey to his flirtatious pursuit? Or worse, will the skeletons in her closet destroy her chance for the love and family she so desperately wants?

Neglected by his parents as a boy, Jake doesn’t believe in happily ever after. Yet living with Gracie and the twins might be enough to change his mind — and his womanizing ways. But when the press unearths a scandal from Gracie’s past, will he lose the one woman he was ready to open his heart to?

Two more books in the series; two more seemingly doomed couples, together at last. This is how it’s done, I suppose.


Tip of the Weinstein

Eric S. Raymond’s take on the the unwinding of Bill Cosby versus the implosion of Harvey Weinstein:

It looked to me like the first couple of women coming out against Cosby were likely genuine, but a lot of the later ones were obvious trash looking to score a quick buck by making claims that Cosby at that point could not credibly deny.

I don’t think we’ve reached the point where we’re starting to see trash making false claims about Weinstein. I have little doubt that will occur.

I think the allegations against Weinstein are both more serious and more credible than those made against Cosby. I’d still assign a very low but nonzero probability to the hypothesis that Cosby was entirely framed. I don’t believe that for a second about Weinstein.

Part of the reason for that evaluation is my read on both men. Cosby seemed to want pretty normal things, sexually speaking. Weinstein, on the other hand, seems to be a a sick, paraphilic creep who got off as much or more on humiliating and disgusting women as he did on having them service him.

I look at Cosby and I see a man who had enough decency in him that if and when he went over the line with women he was probably ashamed about it. Weinstein, on the other hand, ugh. He’s ugly all the way down. Not only is his remorse obviously fake, he doesn’t really seem to care that the fakery is obvious. He’s going through a cynical parody of contrition because he can’t imagine that anyone could actually mean it.

How about those other horndogs in the news?

This morning I was reading some tell-all about Hugh Hefner’s sex life in the comments on Ann Althouse’s blog. I gotta say that compared to Weinstein he seems to have been almost innocent and charming. He wanted to fuck lots of beautiful women, he recruited them without pretense, and he kept his compensation promises. No rape or roofies for him.

Bill Clinton, on the other hand … well, I won’t say he was as bad as Weinstein, but he’s always manifested a kind of sociopathic indifference to the women he used — and of course, there were the credible rape accusations. Like Weinstein without the paraphilia. Or at least without more than a relatively small trace of it.

“Men and women, women and men. It will never work.” — Erica Jong

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Gaming the gas once more

Oklahoma Natural Gas is reinstating the Voluntary Fixed-Price Plan, a quirky deal made possible by a quirky state law which says they have to pass gas to us customers at cost. From this year’s flyer:

The price you pay for the natural gas you use each month is Oklahoma Natural Gas’ average cost for the gas we’ve purchased under a variety of contracts. The cost-of-gas portion of your bill varies each month based on how much you use and what we paid for that supply.

It’s been fairly warm of late. During the billing period, I used a meager 0.628 dekatherms, worth $3.37. (The rest of my bill, about $40, was service charges plus taxes and such.)

We’ve already bought a portion of our winter natural gas supply at fixed prices, so we know its cost. We’re making that natural gas available to those who wish to enroll in the Voluntary Fixed-Price Plan at $3.945 per Dekatherm for the 12-month period beginning November 1, 2017.

Inasmuch as my last bill shows a Fuel Cost of $5.369/Dth, I expect this will save me a few bucks in the winter. Greatest usage last winter was 11.5 Dth in January; I’m not expecting anything worse than 13 or 14 this time around.

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