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Comment: A 2x4 sized chip on the shoulder (Score 1) 316

by Latent Heat (#48838353) Attached to: Eric Holder Severely Limits Civil Forfeiture
So Attorney General Holder on behalf of President Obama takes one action, one single action upon which the Administration and some Administration critics can find common ground, and the call, no, the demand goes out that the critics bow in supplication.

Practical, pragmatic politics is about factions and coalitions and deal making, and offering people who, yes, hate you something they want in exchange for them backing you on something important to you.

For example, Lyndon Johnson as a white person from a poor background was for Civil Rights as a deep, heartfelt, personal value that he was willing to fight for, and fight for it he did in his unique style of political coalition building and persuasion. His party was deeply split between North and South whereas the Republicans were for Civil Rights because Lincoln, but many could just as well break out the popcorn to watch the Democrats fight each other.

So President Johnson threw money around. You voted for Civil Rights, and your state got a bridge or a road. Republicans were going to vote for Civil Rights anyway because Lincoln, but why not get a bridge or a road for something you knew in your heart was right instead of sitting back to watch the Democrats fight?

President Obama campaigned on some vague kind of New Politics where he was not going to revert to Washington-as-usual deal making. In retrospect, President Johnson's style of politics was corrupt, even if it got us the Voting Rights Act?

I guess President Obama's New Politics turned out to be scolding people -- a lot. The Republicans scold right back, Putin comes right out and instructs him to put it someplace, and the leaders of China let it go in one ear and out the other. And I guess the people who support Mr. Obama are into scolding Republicans -- before the Republicans are given half a chance to agree with him.

Yes, there are some people on Right-wing Web sites finding a cloud enclosing this silver lining. They are saying that A.G. Holder is doing this to lock the heels down of local police over Ferguson and Staten Island.

Maybe Mr. Holder is "going after" local police, and maybe this is long overdue, and maybe it took tragedy in the minority community to make this happen. A lot of the Libertarians in the Libertarian-Conservative-Republican-Right coalition have been talking about the police being out-of-control -- in the war-on-drugs, the seizure thing. A lot of people on the Right have been torn about Ferguson. Maybe in their hearts are not in the correct place with black people, but Randy Balko at Reason has long championed the case of black persons getting on the wrong side of heavy-handed police tactics.

But the protest response to Ferguson was scold-scold-scold-scold. You are Conservative, you are white, and you are racist for thinking that a black man should not reach for a police officer's gun when that officer had gotten all fascist on him.

People on the Right have been saying for years that Mr. Obama ought to "triangulate", offer them something they could agree on. This order by A.G. Holder is the first major instance I can think of the President triangulating with the Right, maybe splitting off the Libertarian Right from the Law-and-Order Right.

Yeah, moderate me Troll, I've got Karma to spare, but the folks coming out swinging against people who want to agree with them on something have a lot to learn about politics. You do one thing that your political oppositions favors and you "deserve accolades"? There is a lot in politics and life to be learned.

Comment: I expect this to be evidence of a crash site (Score 2) 132

by Latent Heat (#48696755) Attached to: Debris, Bodies Recovered From AirAsia Flight 8501
That they found debris and human remains is evidence that they found where this plane ended up . . . in contrast with the Malaysia flight where the authorities may never find out what really happened, and people in the affected countries will never be sure of the fate of their family members.

Comment: Is a lame Seth Rogen flick worth dying for? (Score 2, Insightful) 221

by Latent Heat (#48634791) Attached to: Hackers' Shutdown of 'The Interview' Confirms Coding Is a Superpower
My question is whether a Hollywood B movie is a cause worth anyone -- our military and diplomatic people, civilians movie goers -- risking their lives?

I am not saying I have an answer for that.

This is not a First Amendment question because in this case a corporation that regards themselves in the business of entertaining people has decided that they don't want to risk releasing this movie right now. Yes, they are caving to a threat, but the movie is their property under Copyright to do what they choose, and they choose to not show the movie as of now. They could have just shown the movie, shown the movie but put metal detectors and guards up around the theatres, or maybe even demanded protection from the threat by the government.

There is a broader embrace of free expression in our society going beyond the First Amendment, and caving against the threat undermines free expression. But there is no law against giving in to blackmail -- there are only laws against taking justice into your own hands in acting against a blackmailer. We only wish, sometimes, that the Westboro Church, the book-burning Florida cleric, and the Egyptian movie-making dude would give in, and this wishing out loud by Administration officials gets pushback regarding First Amendment concerns, but there would be no wrong if those people had caved in light of the threats facing their free expression.

So (if presumably it was North Korea) threatened violence within our borders, they haven't violated any law because they are not under US law. On the other hand, such a threat could be construed as an act of war, submitting to such a threat diminishes our honor to the extent that free expression is one of our cherished values, and nations have gone to war over questions of honor -- many times. In other words, to cave humiliates us as a nation in our own eyes, which by definition, is a matter of honor.

Do we want to fight back for our national honor? Does honor, or the principles of honor in this dispute with North Korea rise to the level of risking lives in a war? I am not saying there is a simple answer, but when people say that going to war over "honor" is competely stupid, this example should come to mind. That North Korea effectively has veto power over what is shown for movies in US theatres is a question of honor (we will attack you if you show this movie) -- no one has died (yet), but do we want to live this way? But on the other hand, is a dumb Seth Rogen pic a cause worth dying for?

Comment: Oh yeah, he was a orthodontist (Score 1) 156

by Latent Heat (#48614033) Attached to: Dr. Dobb's 38-Year Run Comes To an End
I believe the original subtitle of the magazine was "Running Light Without Overbyte."

Back in the day, the new "microcomputers" had limited speed, memory, and address range. The emphasis was getting those machines to do useful work.

These days, we have thrown up our hands, and we smother the problem with more hardware.

Comment: Re:Diana Spencer (Score 1) 112

by Latent Heat (#48514899) Attached to: "Advanced Life Support" Ambulances May Lead To More Deaths
France is famous for those ambulances that treat patients rather than what they derisively call "scoop and run" of U.S. practice. Diana's ambulance was said to have stopped by the road more than once to administer treatment according to the rolling medical facility model. There are certain things for which a surgical facility offers the only treatment, and they don't have that inside that ambulance.

The whole thread is about whether "Advanced Life Support" ambulances are the correct thing. Yes, there are always differences to raise an objection to any one case comparison, but these famous cases at least cause one to think whether rolling medical facilities vs scoop-and-run are better.

Comment: Measuring is really, really hard (Score 1) 367

For a long time I had tried to quantify the amount of air infiltration into my house using a measuring cup, a clock, and a humidity gauge. I am interested in this because I am interested in energy conservation, and I am interested in conservation owing to concerns about exhaustion of resources, which includes the resource of the atmosphere as a place to accept CO2.

The idea is derived from mass balance. Humid outside air entering the house displaces dryer conditioned air leaving the house. If you measure humidity inside and outside, calculate the partial pressure of H2O vapor inside and outside, measure the condensed liquid from your dehumidifier or A/C drain, voila, you know the rate of air exchange.

This is far from my own idea -- I read about it in a government report that came about in the "1st Energy Crisis" of the 70's and early 80's in the wake of the OPEC oil embargo followed by the Iranian Revolution. The usual way to measure air infiltration is with a blower door, but this way seems to require less fuss. The air infiltration number by this method, however, are "all over the place."

What went wrong? I don't have any incontrovertible "science" quantifying any of this, but I have some guesses, hypotheses to some people, beliefs to others. One, the amount of air infiltration varies with wind speed. The whole idea behind the blower door is you apply a pressure differential way in excess of the wind pressure on the day of the test to control for that. Two, and this is just an intuition, the single-compartment model must be wrong. The walls of your house act as a sink for moisture, one that is ambient temperature dependent and also has significant lags in exchanging moisture with the inside air. Three, family members add humidity by bathing, cooking, and simply breathing, but I tried to control for this by taking measurements when I was alone and limiting time of showers, etc.

I simply gave up on this method. The effect that air exchange will either increase the humidity level of the house or increase the water in your dehumidifier bucket is "science", yes, but it is a kind of incontrovertible hard science of mass balance. On the other hand, the effect I tried to measure appeared to be swamped by these effects for which I was unable to control. Furthermore, countering confirmation bias took a great effort of will -- you get these "runs" that "don't make sense" and then you get a run consistent with the model, and you go "aha, this makes sense, this is the infiltration level of this house." It is kind of like someone asks you "what kind of gas mileage you getting from your new car" and you report a favorable high reading from memory instead an average from your receipts and odometer reading showing a much lower number.

Yes, there is the contingent that dares, "Take my SUV away when you pry my cold, dead fingers off the steering wheel." But there is also a contingent that knows how much the global temperature has increased in the last century and why, and when challenged starts getting all huffy and starts using four-letter words.

Comment: Zulu time (Score 1) 419

by Latent Heat (#48394145) Attached to: Japanese Maglev Train Hits 500kph
Hey, we are not talking Bonaparte, we are talking Marat and Danton, and we know what happened to those dudes . . .

Seriously, that is my point. Feet, yards, pints, pounds (yeah, pound mass or pound weight, and what value and units are you using for G?) are human scale units. Meters (metres?), litres, grams, what are those? Those are made-up by some wild dudes in France in the late 18th century, and if you really wanted to scold USians about not "going metric", whatever happened to that fancy decimal calendar?

24 hr clock, tell me about it. If you really wanted to go G.I., you would schedule all your appointments in "Zulu time", which is pretty much local time for England and parts of Europe but completely artificial for the Continental U.S..

Comment: French Revolutionary Calendar (Score 1) 419

by Latent Heat (#48392927) Attached to: Japanese Maglev Train Hits 500kph
Only weenies and USians still use non-metric months, weeks, days, and hours.

Those cultures that "have it together" divide the year into 10 "months", the month into 10-day "decades", and measure time with 10-hour days.

Metric makes perfect sense, and it is a mystery as to the holdouts against metric time.

Comment: 'tude of those on Ultra Right (Score 1, Interesting) 554

by Latent Heat (#48391891) Attached to: The Downside to Low Gas Prices
There are those on the far right who hold similar opinions.

So eating is a basic necessity of life, and we need to provide a social safety net that people don not starve, but meals above a bare subsistence level are a luxury good?

I have heard Conservatives argue that instead of Welfare and Foodstamps, we should just have these government stores where everyone can purchase as much whole-wheat flour, lard, and powdered milk as they want, and if a person wanted more than these subsistence food items, they should just get off the couch and work a few hours?

Actually, this plan has been tried out. I heard that "fry bread" became a Native American specialty owing to a Federal food program. Many Native Americans bear the genetic legacy of their ancestors being hunters adapted to feast-or-famine, where the modern diet leads to Type 2 Diabetes and other problems, but the Federal program was well-meaning, and I am getting off topic.

Oh, and then there is cheese, Reagan's cheese. Reagan got to cut back on the safety net and make up for it with free cheese -- solved the ag surplus and urban hunger problems in one step. I actually got to eat some -- Mom told me "you're eating it" when Grandma queued up at the Senior Center for the cheese and she put packets of it in Christmas baskets for the college-bound grandkids. Mmmm, mmm, mmm, that was good eatin'!

Oh, did I tell you that illegal drugs are one of the great social burdens that society has the duty to discourage any way it can? Yeah, yeah, most of the harm from drugs comes from the War on Drugs -- highest incarceration rate among our trading partners, dirty needles/impure drugs, racial impact, police corruption -- but if these drugs were not illegal, everyone would stay at home stoned out of their minds and no work would get done, like China under the British thumb? Besides, a drug habit is really a "luxury good" that you can get by without if you are poor, and if you are wealthy, you can afford the cost of rehab when addiction gets the better of you?

So here is what a Midwestern governor wants to do next -- drug-test food-aid recipients.

So here I am, working for my food, being very careful to eat healthy and stay within a budget, and I am in line behind a rag-proletarian buying all manners of expensive junk food who pulls out an EBT card? And you know a lot of that "stuff" gets traded for drugs? Why should a government food program support beyond the bare necessities of wheat flour, lard, and dry milk -- anything more is a luxury. Twinkies and sodas are certainly a luxury offering personal harm and social harm when he have to pay for your dialysis, whether consumed directly for a sugar-high or traded for a more industrial-strength high?

The argument against what the Governor wants to do (apart from the chance of being blown up in a court challenge on Equal Protection and Unreasonable Search and Seizure grounds) is human dignity. You have people who need government aid to buy food who probably have a drab life to begin with, and you (well, maybe not you, but the Right Wing) want to deny them the pleasure of eating Froot Loops. Deny them the personal choice between spending their EBT funds on Froot Loops or substituting Mom's Best Wheat Squares (a "generic" no added-sugar no-salt whole grain alternative)?

What the Right Wing wants to do with the poor, others want to impose on the Middle Class? So a personal auto is deemed monumentally destructive, but have you checked out the Federal stats on transit districts and that owing to off-peak service, deadhead return trips during rush hour, a Diesel bus breaks even with a two-person carpool in CO2 emissions? You want all of those excise taxes and our Governor wants to trade food for a sample of your bodily fluids? What price human dignity? What price human liberty?

Comment: Barf bag holding pattern (Score 1) 286

by Latent Heat (#48250283) Attached to: The Airplane of the Future May Not Have Windows
You can "blame Reagan" for the diminishing of barf bag usage on planes.

The classic "holding pattern" where planes are "stacked up" at different altitudes but at the same radio beacon (VOR) intersection works like this. You fly straight for one minute, execute a 180 deg right turn for one minute, fly straight for another minute, and then execute another 1 minute right turn to complete the circuit. This is often done inside the clouds -- if there were good weather, you would not be in a holding pattern. Repeat until the passenger barf.

You see, after Reagan fired all the air traffic controllers and broke the strike with replacement workers, the FAA replaced most holding patterns with ground holds, where you are just sitting at the departure gate getting anxious about your 30-minute connection in Detroit.

At least sitting on the ground isn't wasting fuel, using up the fuel needed to fly the plane, and is generally safer than this "circling" (actually, "ovaling").

System going down at 5 this afternoon to install scheduler bug.