Monday, August 26, 2013

This one's for the Captain


Good God, it burns!!!

74% of ACT test takers unprepared for college

A short five months after my post about 80% of New York city high school graduates being functionally illiterate, tEnglish, reading, math and science).
The ACT report is based on the 54 percent of high school graduates this year who took the exams. Roughly the same percentage took the SAT — the other major college entrance exam — and many students took both tests. Those who took only the SAT were not included in the report. 
Under ACT's definition, a young adult is ready to start college or trade school if he or she has the knowledge to succeed without taking remedial courses. Success is defined as the student's having a 75 percent chance of earning a C grade and a 50 percent chance of earning a B, based on results on each of the four ACT subject areas, which are measured on a scale from 1 to 36 points. 
Of all ACT-tested high school graduates this year, 64 percent met the English benchmark of 18 points. In both reading and math, 44 percent of students met the readiness threshold of 22 points. In science, 36 percent scored well enough to be considered ready for a college biology course, or 23 points. 
Only 26 percent of students met the benchmarks for all four sections of the ACT test. 
About 69 percent of test takers met at least one of the four subject-area standards. That means 31 percent of all high school graduates who took the ACT were not ready for college coursework requiring English, reading, math or science skills. 
Grade inflation, changing grades to pass students even when they don't possess the knowledge or skills they are supposed to learn, lowering standards at universities, tuition inflation, ballooning student loan debt (which is not dischargeable in a bankruptcy), and finally, the end product, college degree holding debt slaves, willing sheeple who will do whatever the television tells them.  These are the people who are voting for more "free stuff" from big gov working Americans.

Matt Damon must be so proud.

Friday, August 23, 2013

I love robots

However, it's painfully clear no one at DARPA has watched the James Cameron film Terminator.


I just emailed Boston Dynamics and asked them to install this bust onto PETMAN.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Over-achievers should step aside so the mediocre have a chance to be honored

It seems this 9 year old is quite good at reading, too good in fact.  The library director wants to oust him from their reading competitions because, she says, he intimidates other kids.
Tyler Weaver calls himself “the king of the reading club” at Hudson Falls Public Library. But now it seems Hudson Falls Public Library Director Marie Gandron wants to end his reign and have him dethroned. 
The 9-year-old boy, who will be starting fifth grade next month, won the six-week-long “Dig into Reading” event by completing 63 books from June 24 to Aug. 3, averaging more than 10 a week.
“Everybody he tells, he gets high-fives. Everybody’s so proud of him.” 
Everybody, it seems, but Gandron, who was surprised to learn Katie notified a Post-Star reporter about her son being a longtime winner. During a phone call Tuesday to Gandron, the library director said Tyler “hogs” the contest every year and he should “step aside.” 
“Other kids quit because they can’t keep up,” Gandron said. 
Gandron further told the reporter she planned to change the rules of the contest so that instead of giving prizes to the children who read the most books, she would draw names out of a hat and declare winners that way. She said she can’t now because Katie has come forward to the newspaper.
I guess there's such a thing as being too exceptional, at least, when mediocre people make the rules.  Ayn Rand had it right.
Do you know the hallmark of a second rater? It's resentment of another man's achievement. ... They envy achievement, and their dream of greatness is a world where all men have become their acknowledged inferiors.
- Ayn Rand

Monday, August 19, 2013

From the country that gave us the Magna Carta

Britain detained Glenn Greenwald's partner for 9 hours under "anti-terrorism laws," and after releasing him, decided to keep his computers.
The partner of the Guardian journalist who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency was held for almost nine hours on Sunday by UK authorities as he passed through London's Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro. 
David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.05am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals. 
The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. According to official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last less than an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.  
Miranda was released, but officials confiscated electronics equipment including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.
The police in Britain can stop anyone in an airport or other transportation terminal, at anytime for any reason - or with no reason at all.  You have no right to counsel and no right to refuse to answer their questions - that is a "crime".
Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act has been widely criticised for giving police broad powers under the guise of anti-terror legislation to stop and search individuals without prior authorisation or reasonable suspicion – setting it apart from other police powers. 
Those stopped have no automatic right to legal advice and it is a criminal offence to refuse to co-operate with questioning under schedule 7, which critics say is a curtailment of the right to silence.
This is an obvious effort to intimidate Greenwald, who has been reporting on NSA domestic spying program using documents given to him by Edward Snowden. 
The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its "widest-reaching" system for developing intelligence from the internet. 
The latest revelations will add to the intense public and congressional debate around the extent of NSA surveillance programs. They come as senior intelligence officials testify to the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, releasing classified documents in response to the Guardian's earlier stories on bulk collection of phone records and Fisa surveillance court oversight.  
The files shed light on one of Snowden's most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10. 
"I, sitting at my desk," said Snowden, could "wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email".
This is the world we live in now - one where we must fear our governments. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

12 times as many people die from Hospital mistakes than from firearm violence

This infographic I have posted below is very interesting.  Of course, I like to check the statistics I hear about, so I went ahead and did so. 
According to the CDC, less than 1% of deaths in 2010 were intentional homicides/murders (see my chart below) - more than 10 times as many people died from accidents. But even the 0.63% of deaths by homicide does not consist entirely of firearm homicides.  Firearm homicides account for about 2/3 of those, so about 0.42% - less than 1/2 of 1% of all deaths.
According to the Institute of medicine 98,000 Americans die every year from hospital mistakes. Since 1,924,584 are listed in the CDC data, that makes the hospital mistakes about 5% of all deaths.
That's more than 12 times the number of firearm homicides.  The statistics I've pulled are a bit different from the infographic, but since my research is just cursory, the magnitude is close enough for me.

Cause Cause%
Heart Disease 31.04%
Malignant Neoplasms 29.86%
Chronic Low. Respiratory Disease 7.11%
Cerebrovascular 6.72%
Unintentional Injury 6.28%
Alzheimer's Disease 4.29%
Diabetes Mellitus 3.59%
Nephritis 2.45%
Influenza & Pneumonia 2.28%
Suicide 1.68%
Septicemia 1.61%
Liver Disease 1.11%
Homicide 0.63%
Congenital Anomalies 0.35%
HIV 0.30%
Short Gestation 0.22%
Viral Hepatitis 0.12%
SIDS 0.11%
Maternal Pregnancy Comp. 0.08%
PlacentaCord Membranes 0.05%
Bacterial Sepsis 0.03%
Respiratory Distress 0.03%
Circulatory System Disease 0.03%
Necrotizing Enterocolitis 0.02%
Complicated Pregnancy 0.01%
Benign Neoplasms 0.01%
Perinatal Period 0.00%


How to limit the cost of public pensions without getting rid of them entirely

A short and humorous suggestion.

All current and future public pensioners shall be converted to the new pod plan:
The pensioner and each member of his family will be housed at a government pensioner storage facility.  They will get free rooms (one pod per person in the pensioner's family), free board (MREs), use of the showers and laundry rooms, a storage space (1 trunk sized spot per individual) and a pair of parking spots.  There will be no monetary payments made of any kind.

The pensioners will be responsible for any other possessions, property, or bills they have already accrued, if they choose to keep them.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

All those years playing Dungeons & Dragons finally pay off

Who knew you could use all that EXP (lol) in the real world?  A friend of mine encourages a girl he knows to quit the job she hates and start the business she's always wanted to try.
You are on a road, and behind you is a town you just left. In front is a long road, and ahead of you you can see thunderclouds, mountains, and a dark forest. You know there is another town out there but no idea where and how far. You know about the town you just left. You know that its a mediocre town and one that will never make you happy. Now the town in front is mysterious, you have no idea if it will be better or worse than the town you left. It also might be very difficult to find it since you might have to cross mountains, and go through storms, and navigate a forest. Its tough to not just turn around and go back to the town you just left. But remember you know you will never be happy in that town. Is it not worth trying to find this other town? 
 All that's left is to roll the dice. :D

Thursday, August 1, 2013

They want our passwords

These guys keep getting worse and worse.  Mark my words, it’ll be Nazi Germany before they’re done. 
The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users' stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed. 
If the government is able to determine a person's password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user. Obtaining it also would aid in deciphering encrypted devices in situations where passwords are reused. 
"I've certainly seen them ask for passwords," said one Internet industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We push back." 
A second person who has worked at a large Silicon Valley company confirmed that it received legal requests from the federal government for stored passwords. Companies "really heavily scrutinize" these requests, the person said. "There's a lot of 'over my dead body.'"
Some of the government orders demand not only a user's password but also the encryption algorithm and the so-called salt, according to a person familiar with the requests. A salt is a random string of letters or numbers used to make it more difficult to reverse the encryption process and determine the original password. Other orders demand the secret question codes often associated with user accounts.
I used to hear people say "I don't have anything to hide," when I complained about government snoops.  I wonder if they would still say that.  That kind of complacency is what is driving this country into totalitarianism.  The people refuse to stop the government from extending itself.  Everyone wants to use violence to make everyone else conform to whatever ideals they hold, and politicians gladly promise them everything they ask for. 

Generally I blame public education for the stupidity I see around me, but I don't know if that's true.  Perhaps people have become fundamentally flawed.  Their morality has degraded so far that everyone else is their enemy, and force is the first and only tool of communication they reach for.  If that's right, there will be no fixing this country.  After it falls apart, there won't any Jeffersons to pick up the pieces.

Hello, homeland security.  You want to ask me about my web searches?  Well, since you've got those guns that you might be soon pointing at me I guess I will answer...
Professional writer Michele Catalano searched online Tuesday for information on pressure cookers while (at around the same time) her husband was Googling backpacks.

The next morning, she claims they got a visit from a joint terrorism task force.

“The composition of such task forces depend on the region of the country,” Philip Bump writes in The Atlantic, “but, as we outlined after the Boston bombings, include a variety of federal agencies. Among them: the FBI and Homeland Security.”

Catalano describes the scene:

[T]hey were peppering my husband with questions. Where is he from? Where are his parents from? They asked about me, where was I, where do I work, where do my parents live. Do you have any bombs, they asked. Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that? My husband said no, my wife uses it to make quinoa. What the hell is quinoa, they asked. …

Have you ever looked up how to make a pressure cooker bomb? My husband, ever the oppositional kind, asked them if they themselves weren’t curious as to how a pressure cooker bomb works, if they ever looked it up. Two of them admitted they did.

Obviously, this raises a serious question: how did the feds know what Catalano and her husband were looking for online?