Wednesday, May 27, 2015

When The Novel Starts To Write Itself

Two of the subplots just started making out, and suggesting where to go next!  I still have to apply my creativity to the details, and my fingers to the keyboard, but this is the point where the novel comes to life.

Complaints That History Is Too Accessible

From May 27, 2015 Inside Higher Ed:
The University of Oklahoma raised some eyebrows last year when it announced it was partnering with the History Channel to offer a new U.S. history survey course. The thrust of the initial interest was the university’s decision to pair up with a relatively old-school medium -- cable television -- to offer distance learning in the midst of a digital platform boom. But after a successful first run of the course, another story has yet to be told: that of history faculty members’ lingering distaste at what they call being left out of the process and, more generally, at the university partnering with a commercial entity now perhaps better known for reality TV shows such as Ice Road Truckers and Swamp People than college-level history. Proponents of the partnership, meanwhile, tout the channel’s top-rate archives and audiovisual capabilities, as well as its mission to make historical study more accessible.

My reaction:
I understand the concern about the pop nature of many of History Channel's offerings. I spent the weekend in the hospital, and tuning into HC gave me Sons of Liberty (which wasn't bad) and Ancient Aliens (which would lower the IQ of Joe "I remember when FDR went on television at the start of the Depression" Biden). But the solution to Ancient Aliens and Pawn Stars is to produce popular history of high standards that will interest the masses. The Master's Whip: Homoerotic Sadomasochism And The Maintenance of Herrenvolk Democracy is not going to cut it. (Those who have already switched over to to see if there is an illustrated edition, sorry.)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Oscar Winner 1945

With The Marines At Tarawa A leftover from an era when Americans were united against barbarians, unlike today when much of the left is making excuses for ISIS.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Social Science Fraud

But it comes to politically correct conclusions! SO WHAT IF THERE WAS NO ACTUAL SURVEY DATA?  From May 22, 2015 New Yorker:
Last December, Science published a provocative paper about political persuasion. Persuasion is famously difficult: study after study—not to mention much of world history—has shown that, when it comes to controversial subjects, people rarely change their minds, especially if those subjects are important to them. You may think that you’ve made a convincing argument about gun control, but your crabby uncle isn’t likely to switch sides in the debate. Beliefs are sticky, and hardly any approach, no matter how logical it may be, can change that.

The Science study, “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality,” seemed to offer a method that could work. The authors—Donald Green, a tenured professor of political science at Columbia University, and Michael LaCour, a graduate student in the poli-sci department at U.C.L.A.—enlisted a group of canvassers from the Los Angeles L.G.B.T. Center to venture into the L.A. neighborhoods where voters had supported Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. The canvassers followed standardized scripts meant to convince those voters to change their minds through non-confrontational, one-on-one contact. Over the following nine months, the voters were surveyed at various intervals to see what those conversations had achieved. The survey highlighted a surprising distinction. When canvassers didn’t talk about their own sexual orientations, voters’ shifts in opinion were unlikely to last. But if canvassers were openly gay—if they talked about their sexual orientations with voters—the voters’ shifts in opinion were still in evidence in the survey nine months later....

David Broockman and Joshua Kalla, the Berkeley grad students, were impressed by LaCour and Green’s findings. They decided to devote their own resources to pushing the research further. Broockman and Kalla prepared the online surveys, taking the initial steps towards a pilot study on May 6th. Nine days later, they noticed that their response rates were much lower than LaCour and Green’s. Hoping to match the earlier study’s rates, they looked for more information. They enlisted Peter Aronow, a professor at Yale, and the three began to examine the nuances of the data set. When they began to encounter a number of statistical quirks, Green contacted LaCour’s dissertation adviser, Lynn Vavreck. On Monday, Vavreck met with LaCour to demand the raw survey data. After some delay, LaCour told her that he had accidentally deleted it. Later, when the head of U.C.L.A.’s political-science department called Qualtrics, the online survey platform used for the study, they said that they could find no evidence of a deletion: whatever data was collected in the account LaCour claimed to have used was, presumably, still there. (LaCour was also unable to provide the contact information for any of the respondents.) At Green’s behest, Vavreck had also looked further into the study’s financing. It turned out to be nonexistent. “He didn’t have any grants coming to him. He had a small one that he didn’t accept,” Green said. “There was no data, and no plausible way of getting the data.”

Call of Duty Publicizing Idaho Gun Companies

From May 19, 2015 KIVI-TV, where my son works:
It’s one of the largest video game franchises in history.

The Call of Duty series has sold over 175 million copies with millions of players competing against each other 24 hours a day across the planet.

The video game series has evolved over the last 10 years into a refined and respected multi-player online franchise that has spawned spin-offs, card games and action figures.

The game strives to be realistic and that is where SRM Arms based in Meridian, Idaho, comes into play. SRM Arms reinvented the shotgun that gun nuts across the country have highlighted in YouTube videos, online reviews and blog posts.

The SRM 1216 is a 16 round 12-gauge shotgun that met the needs of law enforcement agencies across the country and eventually the military.

The SRM 1216 is a semi-automatic shotgun that can fire quickly and has a reduced recoil for the user.

headed home

The doctors were unable to determine why I had two recent small strokes, one of which was asymptomatic, but they narrowed it down to:

1. There seems to be a small growth on the end of the aortic valve which is either a clot or growth that causes clots (it looks like a guitar pick from the side, but I don't eat guitar picks, so...).  This was determined with a procedure that makes colonoscopy seem pleasant.

2. I have a heart defect called a PFO which is a small opening between left and right atria.  After birth blood goes from right ventricle to right atrium, then to the lungs then back to left atrium, then to left ventricle then to body.  Before birth, the heart doesn't bother sending blood through the lungs, so the PFO is an efficiency gain.  About 30% of Americans fail to have the PFO close after birth, and blood (and clots) from elsewhere in the body can pass through the PFO causing strokes.  (The lungs filter out clots if you don't have a PFO.)  Coughing and straining on the toilet can increase the amount of blood passing the the PFO. My PFO is small enough not to justify surgery, and might explain why only small clots are going to my brain.

3.  It is possible that I have an irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation (also quite common) which throws clots to the brain.

As I said earlier, not as neat as an episode of House in terms of puzzle solving.  But the solution to all these is warfarin, a blood clot preventer, and less coughing and straining.


not quite as satisfying as an episode of House

 my cardiologist says that they are not sure exactly what is causing the clots that are causing the strokes, because it could be atrial fibrillation, or a clot from somewhere else in my body gets loose, but the solution no matter what the cause is warfarin.