Friday, December 30, 2011

12 Must-See Skywatching Events in 2012

http://www.space.com/14085-12-amazing-skywatching-events-2012.html
This meteor shower reaches its peak in the predawn hours of Jan. 4 for eastern North America. The Quadrantid meteor shower is a very short-lived meteor display, whose peak rates only last several hours. The phase of the moon is a bright waxing gibbous, normally prohibitive for viewing any meteor shower, but the moon will set by 3 a.m., leaving the sky dark for a few hours until the first light of dawn; that's when you'll have the best shot at seeing many of these bluish-hued meteors.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Can we lower medical costs by giving the neediest patients better care?

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/01/24/110124fa_fact_gawande?currentPage=all
If Camden, New Jersey, becomes the first American community to lower its medical costs, it will have a murder to thank. At nine-fifty on a February night in 2001, a twenty-two-year-old black man was shot while driving his Ford Taurus station wagon through a neighborhood on the edge of the Rutgers University campus. The victim lay motionless in the street beside the open door on the driver’s side, as if the car had ejected him. A neighborhood couple, a physical therapist and a volunteer firefighter, approached to see if they could help, but police waved them back.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI attacks Christmas consumerism at Mass

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16328318
In his homily, he urged worshippers to "see through the superficial glitter of this season and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem".
Seeing this story I couldn't help pointing out how much gold there is in the video of this guy giving his speech complaining about glitter.  Also, I'm contractually obliged to point out that the bulk of what we associate with Christmas has nothing to to do with Christianity.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas#History

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

God of the Gaps

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_of_the_gaps
God of the gaps is a type of theological fallacy in which gaps in scientific knowledge are taken to be evidence or proof of God's existence. The term was invented by Christian theologians not to discredit theism but rather to discourage reliance on teleological arguments for God's existence.

Ideas For Government

  • Bills must be read aloud in their entirety before being voted on.
  • Only members present for the entire reading may vote on a bill.
  • Bills require a majority of all members, not just members present.
  • Bills must be published and read aloud at least one week prior to being voted on.
  • Emergency votes could waive the one week requirement with a 60% vote, but would only be valid for two weeks unless they were repassed after the week requirement.
  • Require a 200 word (or less) summary of goals of the bill.  Any part of the bill that does not directly address those goals is invalid.
  • No one may hold a public office if they have received over $10,000 in gifts or contributions (from any source) total in the past 10 years.
  • Starting one year prior to an election, anyone qualified for a public office may get signatures on a petition to receive funding for that election.  If they receive a number greater than 1/500th of the eligible voters then they receive some set amount of funding.  All ads or expenses related to the campaign must come from that fund exclusively.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Abolish the TSA

https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petition-tool/petition/abolish-tsa-and-use-its-monstrous-budget-fund-more-sophisticated-less-intrusive-counter-terrorism/c7L94bFB

The petition to abolish the TSA ended with the requisite number of signatures on Oct 22.  They finally posted a response, almost two months later.  It was written by the head of the TSA.  The petition can be summarized as: The TSA is an awful waste of money that robs us of our rights.  The response can be summarized as: The TSA is great.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Candy desk

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candy_desk
One senator with a particularly strong hankering for chocolate is Jim Talent from Missouri. Once during a vote, he called people away from the candy desk to his own on the other side of the row. There were oohs and aahs until six people walked away with Russell Stover Low-Carb Chocolates.
Basically, the Senate is just like Animal House.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Authorities in Awe of Drug Runners' Jungle-Built, Kevlar-Coated Supersubs

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/03/ff_drugsub/all/1
The group summed up its findings in a 70-page white paper—marked FOUO, for official use only—that conveys a grudging respect for the engineers and craftsmen who were able to build something so seaworthy in the middle of a swamp. “The streamlined hull, diesel-electric propulsion system, and fuel ballast system design all show a significant level of technical expertise and knowledge of submersible operations,” it states. The hull, they discovered, was made from a costly and exotic mixture of Kevlar and carbon fiber, tough enough to withstand modest ocean pressures but difficult to trace at sea. Like a classic German U-boat, the drug-running submarine uses diesel engines on the surface and battery-powered electric motors when submerged. With a crew of four to six, it has a maximum operational range of 6,800 nautical miles on the surface and can go 10 days without refueling. Packed with 249 lead-acid batteries, the behemoth can also travel silently underwater for up to 18 hours before recharging.

Halt and Catch Fire

Halt and Catch Fire, known by the mnemonic HCF, refers to several computer machine code instructions that cause the CPU to cease meaningful operation. The expression "catch fire" is intended as a joke; the CPU does not usually catch fire.
Usually.