Monday, March 31, 2014

Riotously Funny Column About Readability of Text

This is by someone who I worked with at JPL decades ago:
I’ve got cataracts, and thanks to a combination of bureaucratic CF at the doctor, at my new insurance company, and sure enough thanks to Obamacare, I still haven’t been able to get them fixed. (May. Maybe.)

For those of you who’ve never had them, the effect is more or less like having really dirty glasses all the time. Small print is hard. (Small print in Chinese is really hard, I have to resort of a magnifying glass.) You lose contrast, and glare washes out everything.

Now, here I am, reading web pages. I’m not going to mention who I’m using as an example, because it’s not Pejman Yousefzadeh’s fault, it’s some damn hipster web designer, who probably wears plaid pajamas and drinks hot chocolate while talking to his mommy and daddy about healthcare.
And yes, the source of the problem is that the color encoding in HTML for the unreadable text is... 666 ... the number of the beast.

A Headline I Am Happy To See: "Idaho Mental Health Records Now Included in FBI Gun Background Checks"

From the March 27, 2014 Twin Falls, Idaho Times-News:
Until last year, that instant background check wouldn’t have included Idaho’s mental health records. According to a 2012 Government Accountability Office report, 17 states, including Idaho, had submitted fewer than 10 records of individuals prohibited for mental health reasons. The Idaho State Police’s Bureau of Criminal Identification is in charge of sending the records to the FBI. Now, Dawn Peck, manager of the bureau, says the backlog has been cleared out.
When ISP started to send the records in 2012, the FBI accepted only about 2,500 and rejected nearly 17,000 of them, because of data entry errors, Peck told the Times-News last year. Peck said that issue has been solved.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Progress on Weight

I was 215.0 pounds yesterday morning!  Unfortunately, I attended my grandson's second birthday party yesterday evening, so 215.8 this morning.  Even worse: today was our 34th anniversary, and we went out to dinner.  Oh well -- I'm getting there.

Reversing Tap Attachment For MT2 Drill Press

A reversing tap attachment is something that replaces the drill press chuck on your drill press so that you can tap under power, but as soon as you release the handle, it reverses and backs out.  This is becoming a necessary attachment, because I am working on my first bulk order (five ScopeRoller sets) for a telescope dealer in Orange County.  Tapping in a drill press by hand is very slow compared to using a reversing tap device (and a bit hard on my left arm's tendons).  I have to tap 1/4"-20 holes in 1/8" aluminum (which is pretty quick) and 3/8"-16 or 1/2"-13 holes in 1" thick acetal (which is really slow).  I have tapped at 200 RPM in the drill press, but reversing the tap by hand turns out to wipe out nearly all the advantage of being able to power tap down. 

Harbor Freight used to sell a reversing tap attachment for the drill press that I have, which is an MT2 spindle, but no more.  Any suggestions on what I should be looking for when looking to buy such a reversing tap attachment?

Another possibility: hand tap the first few threads in the drill press, thus getting the starting threads exactly square, then use a reversing drill to tap the rest of the way.  It sounds so inelegant.

UPDATE: When I look at the costs of the various reversing tap attachments, and that I might need two different sizes to handle 1/4"-20, 3/8"-16, and 1/2"-13, the cheap alternative works pretty darn well.  Hand tap in the drill press for three to four threads to get the starting threads square to the surface, then use the tap in my reversing drill to finish the process.  The drill has enough power to finish cutting in acetal (which is the only material that requires the 1/2"-13 threads), and reverses out nicely.

Polymer Cased Ammunition? This Sounds lIke A Bad Idea To Me

And here you can see what happened when someone fired some .308 Win. with polymer cases in a rifle with a fluted chamber (like the H&K 91 uses).  Thanks, I will stick with brass, steel, or aluminum.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Embarazada: Spanish For Pregnant

I suspected that it was related to our word "embarrass," and according to Wikipedia, there is a connection, with embarrass appearing to arrive from the Spanish word for pregnancy.  (Once upon a time, pregnancy, except in the context of marriage, was an embarrassment, at least, so this isn't surprising.)  But the funny part is this:
When Parker Pen entered the Mexican market, its advertisements which claimed that Parker Pens "won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you" was mistranslated to "No te embarazará chorreándose en tu bolsillo" which means "Won't leak in your pocket and impregnate you".

Some Stored Procedure Language Scripts Really Call For The Virtual Equivalent of Flamethrowers

Like one that, when printed, is 28 pages long, without any comments explaining it.

It doesn't just need to be thrown away and rewritten.  It needs to suffer as it dies!

Obamacare Changes Again!

I mentioned a bit more than a year back that many colleges and other governmental institutions were cutting back part-time workers to less than 30 hours a week to avoid being responsible under Obamacare for health insurance.  For adjunct faculty, this meant that many institutions, such as College of Western Idaho, reduced the maximum number of courses that you could teach from seven per year to six per year.  This was a great hardship, because adjunct faculty are already very poorly paid, and of course, now they had even less money to buy health insurance than they had before -- while Obamacare made health insurance more expensive.

The good news is that the constantly changing, what will it be this week? Obamacare system must have taken pity on adjuncts, because College of Western Idaho, and I presume other similar institutions, are again allowing adjuncts to teach up to seven courses a year.  This means that if you can actually get the seven maximum courses a year to teach, you can gross $18,795 per year.  Think of trying to raise a family on two of these munificent incomes, for a total of $37,590 -- and again, assuming that you can actually get the seven maximum courses a year to teach. 

It's a good thing that the health exchanges heavily subsidize health insurance with a per person deductible of $6250 per year.  (So if anything seriously goes wrong with your health, you are going to spend thousands of dollars that you do not have for medical care.)  And of course, there is the SNAP program, because people that teach at the college level should have the demeaning prospect of having to go to the government for food assistance.  Tragically, the College of Western Idaho is one of the better paying community colleges in the country.

If you really want to make sure that the people who are teaching your kids about economics, history, and the world have a strong economic incentive to identify with the poor and down-trodden, making sure that adjunct faculty are unable to identify with the middle class is about the most effective way to accomplish this end.

This is especially frustrating to me because I consider teaching to be really important -- a way to present equal time to the Marxian point of view that dominates college level teaching across the nation.  But if interest rates don't rise, I will have no choice but to continue exhausting myself working full-time as a software engineer, and part-time teaching college for several more years.  At current interest rates, I need about $1.5 million to be able to afford to teach, because you really can't afford to teach unless you are independently wealthy.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Possession of Muzzleloading Bullets A Crime in D.C.?

These are just chunks of lead and copper -- no propellant, no primer.  From March 26, 2014 Washington Times:
In a surprising twist at the end of a long trial, a District of Columbia judge found Mark Witaschek guilty of “attempted possession of unlawful ammunition” for antique replica muzzleloader bullets.

Judge Robert Morin sentenced Mr. Witaschek to time served, a $50 fine and required him to enroll with the Metropolitan Police Department’s firearm offenders’ registry within 48 hours.
There are so many things wrong here: attempted possession?  Did he or didn't he?  And if this is what he possessed, there is something seriously wrong here.  The ATF's claim is that it is possible to convert some non-black powder firearms to fire these bullets, and therefore this is ammunition.  Heck, a steel ball bearing is "ammunition" by this standard.

Why would any rational person live in D.C.?

Suspended Animation, Coming To An E/R Near You Soon

An otherwise quite interesting article about plans to replace blood with cold (although not frozen) saline solution on likely fatally injured patients included a discussion of the use of this technique for long space flights, and other methods of allowing people to be kept alive perhaps indefinitely includes some riotously funny comments:
Ohhhh... here we go! we could create a secondary market in blood.
Drain the frozen guy, issue him (or loved one) a certificate of ownership of 5 pints on deposit. When he gets thawed, he cashes the certificate in.
Blood certificates could trade like cash.
Imagine. Re-hypothecated blood. Like the gold market. You know, like every physical ounce has 40 - 80 paper claims on it.
Now if I could re-hypothecate one pint a a time. Hmmm...
It would be like crossing Corzine + Dracula. Perfect.
Corzine, of course, refers to Jon Corzine, Wall Street scoundrel and of course, U.S. Senator (D-NJ).

I hope they perfect this technique so Herr Fuhrer Obama can live forever.
Followed by:
Preferably frozen, and as soon as possible. 

Stories Like This Just Make Me See Red

There's a lot of looking down the nose by prestige operations like the University of North Carolina at mere "community colleges" for lacking the high standards of a university.  And then you read articles like this about "phony classes" created to keep athletes "academically eligible:
The classes — which were listed as "independent studies" on the course book — had no attendance, and students got credit for writing papers that always got either A's or B's.
Willingham, who called the paper classes "scam classes," showed ESPN an example of one of these papers. It's a one-paragraph, 148-word "final paper" on Rosa Parks.
The essay, titled "Rosa Parks: My Story" got an A-minus, Willingham says.
Here's the text (h/t @BrianAGraham):
On the evening of December Rosa Parks decided that she was going to sit in the white people section on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. During this time blacks had to give up there seats to whites when more whites got on the bus. Rosa parks refused to give up her seat. Her and the bus driver began to talk and the conversation went like this. "Let me have those front seats" said the driver. She didn't get up and told the driver that she was tired of giving her seat to white people. "I'm going to have you arrested," said the driver. "You may do that," Rosa Parks responded. Two white policemen came in and Rosa Parks asked them "why do you all push us around?" The police officer replied and said "I don't know, but the law is the law and you're under arrest."

Read more:
Those of us who teach at the community college level are trying very hard to demand a lot out of students.  It isn't easy.  In some cases, students are arriving at college with serious educational deficits -- and sometimes, serious capability deficits as well.  When I see scams like this, I really want to see college administrators looking at the prospect of serving time for fraud, because they have accepted public funds to perpetrate such frauds.

Some News Stories Are Just Too Astonishing To Be Fiction

Prominent California State Senator Leland Yee, long-time gun control advocate, indicted as a result of an undercover FBI sting.  From March 26, 2014 Los Angeles Times:
In 2006, Yee was named to the Gun Violence Prevention Honor Roll by the Brady Campaign for his efforts that included co-authoring a first-in-the-nation bill to require new semiautomatic handguns to be equipped with ballistics identification technology known as micro-stamping....
According to an FBI affidavit released after Yee’s arrest Wednesday, Yee accepted a $5,000 campaign check from an undercover agent, and his political consultant, Keith Jackson, told the agent that “Yee fully understood the check being provided to Sen. Yee’s campaign was solely for the purpose of getting an introduction to the arms dealer.”
The affidavit adds, “Yee explained he has known the arms dealer for a number of years and has developed a close relationship with him.” The undercover agent told Yee he wanted automatic weapons and shoulder-fired missiles and offered to pay Yee $100,000 after the first deal.,0,5723532.story#ixzz2xBAPqEQg
UPDATE: This story gets juicier and juicier.  From another March 26, 2014 Los Angeles Times story:
The agent told Yee he wanted up to $2.5-million worth of weapons. After they arrived in Newark, some would be sent to North Africa or Siciliy, the agent said. Yee asked if he wanted automatic or semiautomatic guns, according to the complaint -- the same kind of weapons the senator has sought to restrict.
During a Feb. 25 meeting, Yee said he had to be careful because of a separate case involving Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), who was wrapped up in a federal bribery sting. But according to the criminal complaint, that didn’t stop him from continuing to discuss a potential weapons deal.,0,4778453.story#ixzz2xBCYx9PS 
UPDATE 2: Here's the indictment. It appears that Sen. Yee is all mobbed up with one of the tongs (Chinese criminal syndicates that go back centuries) as well as local criminals involved in marijuana production, illegal gun trafficking, eCigarette retailing, underage prostitution, murder for hire, and other sordid behaviors that make him fit in perfectly with California Democrats.  There seems to be introduction of legislative bills in exchange for contributions, and a whole network of low-level criminal activity involving a cast of thousands.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Curious Placename: "the great falls of Gunpowder"

In Archives of Maryland 204:384 is an act titled:
An ACT to open a road from the great falls of Gunpowder, at a place known by the name of Meredith's Ford, until it intersect the main road leading from Baltimore-town to York-town, in Pennsylvania, at a place called Burck's Old Field.
This is a most peculiar name: "the great falls of Gunpowder."  Was there a gunpowder mill there?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

An M3 Grease Gun Sticking Out of a Backpack at the Gun Show

I noticed the very distinctive muzzle of an M3 submachine gun sticking out of a backpack at the gun show today, and engaged the carrier in conversation.  This grabbed my full attention; if I could buy one legally at some reasonable price, I would love to have one.  What the carrier told me was:

1. A friend had found it in his father's attic after the father, a World War II veteran, had died.

2. It was a full auto M3, he was pretty sure, but the bolt was frozen, probably rusted, and it was best considered a collection of M3 parts.

My response was that a gun like that was worth many thousands of dollars, and probably five to ten in prison.

My first reaction was, "Was someone so stupid as to be walking around with an unregistered submachine gun, even one that was not operational, for sale?"

My second reaction was, "BATFE sting operation?"

A Surprising Booth at a Gun Show in Reno

I don't go to gun shows very often -- just often enough to remind myself that I really am not a gun nut.  (No, seriously.  Go to a big gun show, and you will quickly realize the difference between, "a gun is a necessary tool and sometimes an admirable piece of art" and something a bit more serious.)  I attended one in Reno today with a friend who is in declining, perhaps terminal health. 

One of the more amazing booths at the gun show was something called the Nevada Suicide Prevention Project (or some similar name).  They were promoting the importance of:

1. Making sure that your guns are properly secured at home and in your car to make sure that a child or a friend does not get improper access to it, with tragic results.

2. Seeking help if you are depressed and own a gun.

These are both admirable goals, and you don't need to be a gun control supporter to see some virtue to this effort.  Every suicide leaves some hurting, angry people behind -- and if that suicide was with a gun, the survivors are at risk of becoming affiliated with a gun control group.

Mandatory Leather Bucket Ownership Laws

At Archives of Maryland 204:202:
WHEREAS the calamity of fire breaking out in so populous a town as Baltimore is greatly to be dreaded, and every preparation ought to be made by the inhabitants to prevent its spreading whenever it doth break out;

II.  Be it enacted, by the general assembly of Maryland, That ever householder within the said town, whose real property therein is assessed to one hundred pounds or upwards current money, shall be obliged to keep him or herself provided with two good and sufficient leather buckets marked with the owner's names, and hung up near the front door of their dwelling house, which buckets shall be used for no other purpose but handing water at fires; and every such householder now residing within the said town, shall be allowed six months from the end of this present session of assembly, to procure the said buckets, and every such person, who shall hereafter come to reside in the said town, shall be allowed three months from the time of their residence and assessment as aforesaid to procure their said buckets.
Analogous to the mandatory gun ownership laws of the period and, dare I say it, analogous to a state mandatory health insurance law.  (A federal law is obviously a rather different situation.)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Cesar Chavez On The Consequences of Illegal Aliens Preventing Unionizing Farmworkers

For you young ones, Cesar Chavez was one of the heroes of good liberals.  He created the United Farmworkers union, drove up wages, and organized boycotts of many agricultural goods to improve working conditions for his members.  (And I participated in some of those boycotts in the 1970s.)  Here he is on KQED, the public television station in Los Angeles, talking about the importance of keeping illegal aliens from crossing the border to break strikes:

Enhanced Concealed Weapon License

I received notice that it was available, and just in time.  I will be going to Nevada shortly to visit a friend who may not be around a lot longer.  (Nevada is one of the states that recognizes the enhanced license, but not our standard license.)

Which Comes First? Dark Adaptation, or Hypothermia?

We had no Moon last night, so I tried to find M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy.  I have seen it before, and I could see just a faint smudge of it last night.  The problem is that it takes not just a dark sky, but your eyes need quite a bit of time in complete darkness to completely adapt.  This Wikipedia article on the subject says that "the brightest and the darkest light signal that the eye can sense are a factor of roughly 1,000,000,000 apart."  It also says that it can take twenty to thirty minutes to go from sunlight to complete darkness adaptation.  I remember from my Biology of Aging class, long ago, that how rapidly your eye can adjust from darkness to light gets worse as you age, and I would not be surprised if the other direction is also age-dependent.

Anyway, as much as I wanted for my eye to get completely dark adapted, the real question became: which will come first?  Dark adaptation, or hypothermia?  Maybe I'll try this again on a night that isn't below freezing.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Another Victory in the 9th Circuit

Baker v. Kealoha (9th Cir. 2014) ordering retrial of the claim that Hawaii's may-issue concealed weapon law violates the Second Amendment, based on the Peruta decision.

Someone Obviously Did Better on His Startups Than I Did

A truly impressive 12" D&G refractor on a Byers mount, available at the bargain price of $595,000.

My Psychic Powers

The subject line of the spam from "Tara the Psychic Medium" said:
Heres the Secret--help, that will change Your life
The good news is that being psychic, I already know the secret that will change my life, so there was no need to open and click the link.

CNN: Where Really Smart People Become Journalists

Watts Up With That? has a screen shot of a CNN journalist talking about whether a black hole might have swallowed that missing airliner.

Please: no more criticisms of Faux News as being a bunch of stupids.

Charming In Its Skill

This guy takes pictures of a small town.  A really small town.  I think I recall a Twilight Zone episode like this.

Another Victory For The Right To Keep and Bear Arms

In this case, from the Delaware Supreme Court, striking down the Wilmington Housing Authority's attempts to prohibit the carrying of firearms in common areas of the housing complexes:
This case concerns the right to keep and bear arms under Article I, Section 20 of the Delaware Constitution. Although Section 20 was not enacted until 1987, Delaware has a long history, dating back to the Revolution, of allowing responsible citizens to lawfully carry and use firearms in our state. The parties agree, as does this Court, that Delaware is an “open carry” state. Like the citizens of our sister states at the founding, Delaware citizens understood that the “right of
self-preservation” permitted a citizen to “repe[l] force by force” when “the intervention of society in his behalf, may be too late to prevent an injury.”
So the decision was based on the state constitutional guarantee, not the Second Amendment, but the net effect is pretty much the same.  Most importantly, heightened scrutiny applies:
Where government action infringes a fundamental right, Delaware courts will apply a heightened scrutiny analysis. The parties have not argued otherwise here. Where heightened scrutiny applies, the State has the burden of showing that the state action is constitutional. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

Yes, I was thinking of Dean Wormer in Animal House when I saw this news story from the March 19, 2014 Orlando Sentinel:
According to the Sheriff's Office, Noble, 37, left the Europa Lounge at some point in the evening, only to return later dressed like Rambo, the movie character played by Sylvester Stallone. He was armed with what the Sheriff's Office described as an "Uzi-style assault rifle" and a pair of hunting knives.
Shortly after 11 p.m., Noble challenged several patrons inside the lounge, which is located in the European Village resort, according to the Sheriff's Office. Two patrons stopped Noble and grabbed the barrel of the gun, and one or two shots were fired into the floor.
The men got the gun away from Noble, but he lashed out with one of the knives, the Sheriff's Office said. The men wrestled Noble to the ground and knocked him unconscious, but not before of them suffered knife wounds.
A gun is not a substitute for a working brain.

For Those In The Boise Area

KBOI channel 2 was on campus at College of Western Idaho looking for someone to express an opinion about concealed carry on campus.  They stuck their nose into my wife's classroom, and she gave them an earful!  I suspect that it will be quite entertaining this evening.

UPDATE: You can see KBOI's report here.  And my lovely wife!

A Humorous Description of a Very Low Probability, High Consequence Event

Over at View from the Porch is this description of what happens if America's least competent Commander-in-Chief continues his "smart diplomacy" approach:
[W]hat's left of the human race is glowing in the dark and beating each other over the head with axes made of radioactive traffic signs. You don't put the junior varsity in against the Strategic Rocket Forces.

Freelance Academic Writing: What's That?

I saw this ad on
Freelance writers are responsible for taking available orders and completing them within a required deadline. Writers are given a login username and password to our website, ultius(dot)com, where they can pick up orders, track existing ones and communicate with both clients and administrators. As an independent contractor, you would be free to work on your own time. However, orders must be completed on time and according to exact instructions provided. 
My thought was: who is the market for this?  Organizations that need research projects done?  No.  As their website says: "Writing is painful."   They have samples of these ghost-written research papers for college students.  And yes, the papers are quite good.  So much for learning anything useful, such as how to write a research paper.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not Running From the Elephant

"Does Maltreatment in Childhood Affect Sexual Orientation in Adulthood?"
Our results suggest that from half to all of the increased prevalence of childhood sexual abuse experienced by sexual orientation minorities compared with heterosexuals may be due to the effects of sexual abuse on sexual orientation, possibly through previously proposed pathways: (1) abuse of boys perpetrated by men causes boys to believe they are gay; (2) abuse of girls by men leads them to be averse to sexual relationships with men; (3) abuse survivors may feel stigmatized and different from others and may, therefore, be more willing to behave in ways that are socially stigmatized, including acknowledging same-sex attraction or having same-sex partners ()....
Maltreatment, including sexual abuse, can have persistent effects on mood and behavior, which may increase likelihood of same-sex sexuality. Maltreatment causes emotional numbing, motivating survivors to seek stronger stimuli to experience positive states, leading to novelty-seeking and risk-taking behaviors (), which have been associated with same-sex sexuality (). Maltreatment also increases risk of substance abuse (), which may, in turn, increase likelihood of acting on same-sex attraction through disinhibition. Moreover, maltreatment leads to stress, depression, and anger (). The drive for intimacy and sex to repair depressed, stressed, or angry moods () may increase the likelihood of same-sex partners and attractions. Maltreatment also increases risk for borderline personality disorder, which has been associated with non-heterosexual orientation (). To the extent these mechanisms exist, changes in social acceptance of minority sexual orientation will likely not affect differences in the prevalence of history of early childhood maltreatment by sexual orientation. 

Another: "What Elephant in the Bathtub?" Study

Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a strong predictor of adverse physical and mental health outcomes (Koenig, Doll, O’Leary, & Pequegnat, 2004; Lalor & McElvaney, 2010). Recent research has found that CSA is reported more frequently by lesbians than by heterosexual women (Austin et al., 2008;Balsam, Rothblum, & Beauchaine, 2005; Stoddard, Dibble, & Fineman, 2009). Possible reasons for lesbians’ higher CSA rates include childhood maltreatment (e.g., physical and sexual abuse) because of gender atypical behavior (Tjaden, Thoennes, & Allison, 1999), and involvement in behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, running away from home) that increase risks of sexual victimization, following family and peer rejection due to same-gender orientation (Ryan, Huebner, Diaz, & Sanchez, 2009).
The study itself finds that lesbians were far more likely to be victimized as children than heterosexual women, and the severity of that abuse was far more severe.  The odds ratio in Table 1 shows how much more common the abuse of the lesbians had been than the heterosexuals -- 3.07 times for any type of CSA, and the severity measures are in nearly every category more severe for the lesbians than for the heterosexual women.

The paper does not even consider the possibility that the severity of the abuse (and that is a horrendous set of data above) might explain the adult sexual orientation; instead, the adult sexual orientation must be the cause of the abuse!

Another Assumptions Driving Conclusions Study

Compared with sexual nonminority adolescents, sexual minority adolescents were on average 2.9 times more likely (odds ratio [OR]=3.94; 95% CI=3.45, 4.57) to report childhood sexual abuse. The mean of the absolute prevalence was 40.4% for bisexual females, 32.1%, for lesbian females, and 16.9% for heterosexual females. The mean of the absolute prevalence was 24.5% for bisexual males, 21.2% for gay males, and 4.64% for heterosexual males.
And yet the study makes the assumption that the problems of adult homosexuals in the areas of mental health and substance abuse are because of the history of abuse -- not that the childhood sexual abuse might have something to do with the adult sexual orientation:
The higher rates of abuse experienced by sexual minority youths may be one of the driving mechanisms underlying higher rates of mental health problems, substance use, risky sexual behavior, and HIV reported by sexual minority adults. 
Willful blindness.

And another, where I can only see the abstract:
There is a significantly higher rate of childhood sexual abuse among individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer. We describe how being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse can later affect adult sexual identity formation by examining it through the intersection of gender, race, and sexual orientation. Adult lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer abuse survivors may experience unique clinical challenges while healing from this type of traumatic experience and developing a healthy lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer identity. We recommend a multicultural clinical approach for family therapists in order to best treat this vulnerable population.
This paper, at least, recognized (quietly) that there might be a connection:
Several recent large-scale studies have indicated that gays, lesbians, and bisexuals (i.e., nonheterosexuals) are at elevated risk for many psychiatric symptoms and disorders (). For example, a recent meta-analysis revealed that, compared to heterosexuals, nonheterosexuals are at approximately twice the risk of major depressive disorder (depression) and anxiety disorders, deliberate self harm and attempted suicide (). ... 

Childhood sexual abuse took place at an average age of 8.7 years, well before the average age that sexual feelings developed (13.5 years; as assessed by an item in Sample 2 interviews only1). Around half of the participants that were sexually abused by either a family or non-family member participated in a follow-up interview, revealing that perpetrators were male in the cases of 94% and 98% of male and female victims, respectively....

Table 1
Descriptive statistics. Prevalences and means of the variables used in this study, for heterosexuals, nonheterosexuals and the total sample.
HeterosexualsNonheterosexualsTotal sample (N=up to 9,884)
Lifetime major depression24%36%44%60%24%37%
Childhood family dysfunction24%30%41%42%25%30%
Sexual abuse before the age of 144.2%11%12%24%4.5%11%
Childhood parental physical abuse40%27%40%38%40%27%
Number of older brothers* (Mean ± SD)0.72 (±1.1)0.62 (±.1.0)0.76 (±1.0)0.47 (0.8)0.72 (±1.1)0.62 (±1.0)
Age of father when born (Mean ± SD)31 (±6.2)31 (±6.1)31 (±6.6)30 (±6.0)31 (±6.2)31 (±6.1)
Age of mother when born (Mean ± SD)28 (±5.4)28 (5.3)28 (±5.8)27 (5.5)28 (±5.4)28 (±5.3)
Number of close friends (Mean ± SD)4.8 (±3.7)4.3 (±2.3)4.8 (±3.2)3.8 (±1.6)4.8 (±3.6)4.3 (±2.3)
*Mean is deflated due to non-random missingness, see Methods.
SD=standard deviation 
Look carefully: the nonheterosexual males were  83% more likely to be depressed, and almost 3x as likely to be sexually abused before the age of 14 as the heterosexual males.  The female nonheterosexuals were 66% more likely to be depressed than the female heterosexuals, and more than twice as likely to have been sexually abused before age 14.

The study looks carefully at every possible connection, and then essentially throws away this connection:
It is not at all clear how adverse childhood experiences might affect adult sexual orientation, and indeed the prevailing scientific view is that sexual orientation is fixed before birth (). It is beyond the scope of this paper to speculate about possible explanations, but elsewhere the first author proposes a mechanism that could potentially explain both the link between childhood sexual abuse and adult nonheterosexuality and depression, as well as the genetic correlation between sexual orientation and depression ().
Reality is calling.  Pick up the phone.

Billionaires Demanding Higher Taxes On Workers, More Immigrant Competition

Why am I not surprised?
Billionaire software mogul Bill Gates has joined the growing chorus of tech experts who predict that low-skill Americans will face greater unemployment because more jobs are being done by software and robots.
The Microsoft founder, whose net worth is $76 billion, suggested the problem could be fixed by reducing taxes on employers and raising taxes on employees, via the reduction of payroll taxes and the addition of new federal consumption taxes.
The widening recognition of greater low-skill unemployment is also creating a problem for the many executives — including Gates — and lobbyists and legislators pushing for increased immigration. They back the Senate’s immigration bill, which would dramatically increase the supply of foreign labor, despite Americans’ high unemployment rates.

Read more:

More Dangerous Data: Stay-At-Home Moms Make For Healthier Babies

In the March 17, 2014 The Atlantic is an article that found that as unemployment increased, and mothers-to-be worked less, their babies came out healthier:
Libertad González, an associate professor at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra,recently examined the health of registered newborns in Spain from 1981 to 2010, and she cross-referenced the data with the unemployment rate in each of the country's provinces at the time. With each 10 percent increase in unemployment, she found, the neonatal death rate dropped by 7 percent, and the percent of babies with low birth weights decreased by 3 percent.
The reason? During recessions, mothers consistently reported being in better health, and they exhibited healthier behaviors: “They smoke and drink less, exercise and sleep more, and weigh less,” Gonzalez wrote.
Her findings mesh with past research in the U.S. showing that health improves during periods of low economic growth. A 2004 study of American babies, for example, also found that those born in periods of high unemployment had fewer birth defects, were more likely to weigh a healthy amount, and were less likely to die.
The comments are worth reading for the feminist screeching:
This is a subversive manipulation of data to re-enforce the male dominated status quo. 
This is male b.s. Moms who have no jobs are Moms who have no power in the relationship, nowhere and no way to go when things get ugly. She is the most un-empowered being in the adult world. Don't swallow this misogynist claptrap. 
Not every husband is going to win any awards, but I have to believe that the husbands and fathers of these posters have a lot to answer for.

Prison For Heretics!

Assistant Professor of Philosophy Lawrence Torcello at the Rochester Institute of Technology argues that:
The importance of clearly communicating science to the public should not be underestimated. Accurately understanding our natural environment and sharing that information can be a matter of life or death. When it comes to global warming, much of the public remains in denial about a set of facts that the majority of scientists clearly agree on. With such high stakes, an organised campaign funding misinformation ought to be considered criminally negligent.
Liberalism at work again: justifying sending people to prison for actively disagreeing with the True Faith of Anthropogenic Global Warming!  It is amusing to watch all the liberals commenting in support of this, but making the distinction that it is okay to be skeptical or disagree, and that won't be criminal, but just don't be too loud about it -- that's what will get you locked up.

The parallel to the Church's punishment of Galileo for heresy is a bit too obvious.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Assumptions and Data

I found this paper "The relationship between discrimination and substance use disorders among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in the United States" quite interesting for what it found -- and what it didn't find.  Consider that it started out with this model:
Meyer’s minority stress model posits that discrimination, internalized homophobia, and social stigma can create a hostile and stressful social environment for LGB adults that contributes to mental health problems, including substance use disorders.
Not too surprising:
Of particular note is that LGB adults who reported none of the 3 types of discrimination in their lifetime had rates of past-year substance use disorders that were similar to those of heterosexual adults. This finding was most pronounced in the male sample.
There are at least three possible explanations:

1. Discrimination against the LGB causes substance abuse.

2. Substance abuse causes behavior that is interpreted as discrimination against the LGB.  Think of the infamous 1970s guilt tool:

"Is it because I'm black?"

"No, because you are a jerk, and you would be a jerk no matter what color you were."

3. Some other factor causes both substance abuse and LGB sexual orientation.

What makes this article especially interesting is that later on, they explain that:
In our investigation, we assumed that LGB adults are at heightened risk for substance use disorders as a consequence of cultural and environmental factors associated with being part of a stigmatized and marginalized population, not because of their sexual orientation.
 Yet slightly later:
One unexpected result was that there was no statistically significant relationship between substance use disorders and sexual orientation discrimination alone in the final regression models. Given the putative relationships among discrimination, stress, substance use, and mental health disorders posited in the minority stress model, this finding was surprising.
 It was only those LGBs who were the subject of gender discrimination, racial discrimination, and sexual orientation discrimination, who were at increased risk of substance abuse.  They of course had a theory to explain this, but it makes me just a bit skeptical of their assumption, especially because I think it is fair to say that there was likely more direct and harsher discrimination based on sexual orientation in the U.S. in 2004-2005 when this study was carried out than there was based on gender or race.

As I have pointed out before, homosexuals are disproportionately adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.  There is a pretty well-known correlation between substance abuse and childhood sexual abuse, and between homosexuality and substance abuse.  It doesn't take any great leap of faith to suspect a connection between premature sexualization and effects on adult sexuality.  Why is there this nearly Oedipus-like desire to be blind to this as a research direction to investigate?

Age of Bipolar I Onset Differentials Between USA and Europe

Along with higher rates of bipolar disorder in the USA, this paper demonstrates that one particular type of bipolar disorder, bipolar I, has an earlier average onset age than in Europe.  The paper recognizes that there are possibly some genetic factors involved: perhaps those prone to bipolar I were more likely to immigrate to America; shorter generation time in America may have increased the fraction of the population (especially bipolar disorder and hypersexuality are commonly linked).  They do point out that childhood trauma and substance abuse are both associated with the onset of bipolar I, and seem to consider it unnecessary of explication that both of these are a bigger problem in the US than in Europe.  That is also my impression -- that American kids are much more likely to be substance abusers than their European counterparts.

I would argue that this is perhaps not because of our generally more puritanical alcohol and drug laws, but that because of how widespread the substance abuse problems are here, our laws are generally stricter than Europe.

International Variations in Bipolar Disorder Rates

I was reading a very interesting book by Dr. John J. Ross, Shakespeare's Tremor and Orwell's Cough, and he mentioned a study of bipolar disorder rates across multiple countries found that the U.S. had the highest rates of bipolar disorder.  I dug around a little, and found that the study was this one, which used very large populations (61,392 people) in eleven different countries.  The U.S. had 4.4% of the population reporting bipolar disorder, the highest of any of the countries, with New Zealand just behind us at 3.9%.  The average for all eleven countries was 2.4%.

Unsurprisingly, "subthreshold bipolar" (the kind that makes for Wall Street CEOs, brilliant if difficult computer engineers, university faculty and other professionals) have a similar distribution: 2.4% of the U.S. population, compared to 1.4% for all countries.  Because the tendencies towards bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are genetic in origin, I sometimes wonder how much of American exceptionalism in the economic area over the last couple of centuries might have to do with this.

Another study that is quite interesting, and perhaps suggests caution in comparing the experience of other countries with decriminalization of intoxicants to the U.S. situation is this study in Sweden.  It found persons with bipolar disorder were 6.4x more likely to commit violent crimes than the general population, but this was almost entirely among those with bipolar disorder and substance abuse comorbidity.  Those without substance abuse comorbidity were only 1.3x more likely to commit violent crimes, and even this small difference disappeared when comparing to full siblings not suffering from bipolar disorder.  (My guess is that much of the non-substance abuse bipolar population was coming from homes where other siblings were also violent crimes.)

Saving Mother Earth By Deforesting North Carolina To Run Power Plants in Britain

The March 15, 2014 Daily Mail has one of those really insane news stories that shows what happens when the government subsidizes something to make the greenies happy.  The British government has directed their largest coal-fired power plant to use pellets made by clear-cutting North Carolina forests, then shipping the pellets across the ocean, with ratepayers in Britain paying the bills:
In the longer term, the Government has decreed that customers will pay £105 per MW/hr for Drax’s biomass electricity – £10 more than for onshore wind energy, and £15 more than for power from the controversial new nuclear plant to be built at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The current ‘normal’ market electricity price is just £50 per MW/hr.

Mr Burdett admitted: ‘Our whole business case is built on subsidy, like the rest of the renewable energy industry. We are simply responding to Government policy.’

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Of course, there is more than just the absurd costs involved; clear-cutting of forests is among the more destructive methods of harvesting trees, and American environmentalists are hopping mad at a policy that British environmentalists are requiring.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Proven Lesbian Transmission of AIDS

From the March 14, 2014 New York Times, a pretty disturbing article at many levels.  It acknowledges that while there have been previous cases where authorities thought that lesbians had transmitted AIDS through sexual contact, this was the first where it could be proven.  And the method of transmission is a bit disturbing:
The women reported having sex during their periods
First eeewwwww!
and using insertive sex toys, sometimes so roughly that bleeding occurred.
Second eeewwwww!

The article goes on to explain that the woman infected was selling blood plasma.  The first time she tested negative; the second time, she tested positive.  It makes you wonder how often someone tests negative but hasstarted to seroconvert.  According to this article, you can still test negative, but still be infected during this window of seroconversion.

Enhanced Concealed Weapon Permit Classes

My friend T. Allen Hoover teaches this class, which is a requirement for the enhanced concealed weapon permit.  If you have wanted to be able to cross the border into Nevada or Washington State without having to unload your weapon, you really want to upgrade your Idaho concealed weapon permit to the enhanced permit.

The Vampire Teeth... Is There An Insanity Claim Coming?

From March 13, 2014 CBS Las Vegas comes a news story so bizarre that it defies sensible description.  But yeah, the vampire fangs on the bad guy... weird.

Another Mass Knife Murder in China

And not political in origin.  From the March 14, 2014 Los Angeles Times:
BEIJING — Six people were reported dead after a knife-wielding man slashed passersby Friday morning following a fight in a market in Changsha, in China’s central Hunan province.
Initial witness reports indicated that multiple people — perhaps members of a Turkic minority from northwestern China — were involved. That raised fears of a premeditated attack because militants from that region were implicated in a knifing rampage March 1 that left 33 dead at a train station in Kunming, China.
But within hours, authorities said the incident was the result of a dispute between vendors in the Wujialing district of Changsha. Some witnesses said the assailant was a vendor who sold flat bread from a stall at the market who got into a fight with another man.
Police said the vendor killed the man he was fighting with and then slashed four others to death, state media reported. Authorities shot the attacker dead.,0,921514.story#ixzz2vwuN48ss

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Adobe 12 Flash Plugin Seems To Be Guilty Party On the Powerdown

It appears that the Adobe 12 Flash plugin was the cause of the powerdown when I logged in.  I removed it, and the problem went away!  My son tells me that Adobe Flash releases are not doing well of late.

UPDATE: No, that's not it.  The Windows 7 Recovery disk that I created does not seem to work.  I guess that I have install Windows 7 from scratch.

UPDATE 2: There's a trick to get the Windows 7 Recovery disc to work.  But it seems to have worked, and the notebook isn't powering off anymore.

Gonorrhea Approaching Untreatable

The CDC has issued a report detailing its findings in attempting to trace the increasing difficulty in treating gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can cause severe discomfort, serious medical problems (such as sterility) for both genders and in very rare cases, death....
The overriding conclusion of the researchers is that the world is now sitting on the precipice of losing the ability to fight a major bacterial infection. Worse perhaps, is that it may mark the first of many others to come. Gonorrhea infections typically only last for a few weeks or months, in most cases the immune system eventually wins over (after the disease has caused sometimes irreparable damage). The same cannot be said for some other bacterial infections that may also soon become untreatable.
While it is true that you can avoid this problem by doing something really, really bizarre (get married, stay faithful to your spouse and vice versa), the risks associated with other increasingly antibiotic-resistant diseases cannot be so easily avoided.

Right Up There With "This [Atomic Bomb] Will Never Go Off! And I Speak As An Expert in Munitions"

This guy points to an article by Clifford Stoll in 1995 Newsweek pointing out why this big Internet idea was nonsense:
Then there's cyberbusiness. We're promised instant catalog shopping—just point and click for great deals. We'll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet—which there isn't—the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.

Texas Bar Association CLE Has Invited Me For September 12

I will be speaking about the history of Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws.  This is in Houston.

Health Cost Sharing Ministries

I mentioned a few months back Samaritan Ministries, a health cost sharing ministry that is an alternative to health insurance -- and quite a bit less expensive than going through the exchanges.  Unfortunately, my heart would qualify as a pre-existing condition, so this did not make sense for me after I retire.  However, Christian Healthcare Ministries is a similar health cost sharing system, with a somewhat more useful pre-existing condition arrangement:

A pre-existing condition is any medical condition for which you experience signs, symptoms or treatment before joining Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM). 
We distinguish between pre-existing conditions in "active" treatment and conditions in "maintenance" treatment. Medical bills cannot be shared if, at the time you join CHM, the bills are for pre-existing conditions that are actively undergoing treatment other than with maintenance (routine) medications. After the incident is over and your doctor states that you are on a maintenance treatment regimen, bills for any new incident related to the pre-existing illness are eligible for sharing according to the information below.
If these criteria are met, Gold level members can receive assistance with medical bills for pre-existing conditions according to the following schedule:
• In the first year of participation, bills incurred for a pre-existing condition are eligible for sharing up to $15,000.
• In the first two years of participation, bills incurred for a pre-existing condition are eligible for sharing up to $25,000 ($15,000 during the first year plus $10,000 during the second year).
• In the first three years of participation, bills incurred for a pre-existing condition are eligible for sharing up to $50,000 ($15,000 during the first year plus $10,000 during the second year plus $25,000 during the third year).
• After the third year of participation, the condition will no longer be considered pre-existing.
Assuming that interest rates rise enough for me to retire at the end of this year, I will already be seventeen months away from that surgery, and at least fourteen months of "maintenance" treatment, assuming that taking blood pressure medications alone constitutes maintenance.  Short of a valve failure (which seems most unlikely in the next fifteen to twenty years), it would seem that this solves my problem.  The cost is about $150 per person per month, and you are expected to pay the first $500 per illness or incident out of pocket.  Since there are few illnesses that end up being that expensive, this is roughly equivalent to a catastrophic policy.

Hearing Voices: The Columbia Mall Shooter

Remember the guy who shot up a mall in Columbia, Maryland in January, killing three people (as it now turns out, all complete strangers)?  Details in the March 11, 2014 Washington Post:
Police said his troubles appeared to surface in January 2013. Over the next year, police said, an examination of his computer showed thousands of Internet queries on school and mall shootings, guns, making bombs and mass murder. McMahon said that the teen downloaded a game in which players can assume the role of a Columbine shooter, although it’s not known whether he played it.
But McMahon said that Aguilar also sought information on suicide and psychiatric issues. He once complained to a doctor of hearing voices but gave no indication that they urged violence, McMahon said.
Police said the doctor recommended that Aguilar see a psychiatrist; there is no evidence that he did so.
The doctor followed up with Aguilar’s mother, McMahon said. The doctor told police that the mother promised to seek help, the chief said, but the mother told police that she didn’t recall talking with the doctor.
"Hearing voices": hallucinations.  Not always a sign of schizophrenia, but often one.
Aguilar kept his handwritten journal private as well, and police have previously described the writings as disconnected and violent, including descriptions of him using marijuana and expressing “thoughts of wanting to die.” 
As I have discussed before, marijuana appears to be a causal factor in the development of schizophrenia.  Perhaps Aguilar started smoking pot in response to the voices, not the other way around.  But marijuana is definitely a risk factor for developing schizophrenia, and the reluctance of the media to discuss this more forthrightly is a big problem.

UPDATE: A reader asked for pointers concerning marijuana and schizophrenia.  Here, and here.

Governor Otter Signs The Concealed Carry on Campus Bill

At least according to Boise channel 7.  I would love to have had the discussion about this bill lead to a discussion of the root problem -- mental health care system failure -- but the left is more interested in ranting and raving about guns than in addressing a problem that is at the core of many other difficulties.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Not Quite Like The Idiot Who Thought Guam Might Capsize

Still a bit tragic when a member of Congress misguesses the age of the U.S. Constitution by such a large amount:
“Maybe I should offer a good thanks to the distinguished members of the majority, the Republicans, my chairman and others, for giving us an opportunity to have a deliberative constitutional discussion that reinforces the sanctity of this nation and how well it is that we have lasted some 400 years, operating under a constitution that clearly defines what is constitutional and what is not,” she said.

Not My Day For Stuff Technological

I'm blogging from my old but reliable Windows XP laptop.  For reasons that I do not fully understand, my Windows 7 laptop now powers off with a very loud click from the speakers shortly after I login.  It does not do this if I start Windows 7 in Safe Mode, which makes me think there is something viral involved.  When I boot from my Windows 7 Recovery Disc, same behavior.

I am running AVG Free Antivirus in Safe Mode to see if it finds anything.  I did a restore the last known working restore point, which was March 9, but that did not solve the problem.  I am hoping that it is a virus.  

UPDATE: A reader suggested looking in the Windows logs.  Starting yesterday morning, after a Critical update for Windows 7 was installed (but many hours later), I started getting a complaint about a bad block on the hard disk.  But I would not expect such a failure to cause sudden reboots.  Nor would I expect it to cause problems in normal mode, but not in safe mode, unless the bad block includes a driver that isn't installed in safe mode.

I ran AVG Free 2014 last night to try and remove any viruses, and I am running Malware Bytes and SpyBot S&D this morning.  I am hoping that the combination of the three solves the problem.

Photovoltaic Question

A few weeks back, the solar panel was providing enough current to the inverter to flicker a CFL light.  Now, with the battery installed, there is not enough current coming from the battery to do anything.  Nor does the solar panel and inverter flicker anything.  I have direct sunlight on the panel.  When I take a DMM to the outputs of the panel, I show 22 VDC and 0.00 amps.  This is even when I have the panel connected to a battery tender intended for use with a solar panel, which I suspect roughly equivalent to being under load.

Does this indicate the solar panel has failed?

The 911 Call About The Housecat

If you haven't seen this news story about the family that needed to call 911 because they were being menaced by their housecat, let me clue you in: the cat's name is Vladimir Putin; the father wears mom-jeans and has big ears.

Not Much Demand For These, But Neither Is There Much Supply

Wouldn't it be cool to say that you have one of these?

Justice For Sale To Highest Bidder

The March 11, 2014 New York Times has an article about two Ecudaoran brothers who our government won't extradite:
The donations kept pouring in: hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to President Obama and more than a dozen members of Congress, carefully routed through the families of two wealthy brothers in Florida.
They had good reason to be generous. The two men, Roberto and William Isaias, are fugitives from Ecuador, which has angrily pressed Washington to turn them over, to no avail. A year after their relatives gave $90,000 to help re-elect Mr. Obama, the administration rejected Ecuador’s extradition request for the men, fueling accusations that such donations were helping to keep the brothers and their families safely on American soil.
There do seem to be some legitimate questions about how strong Ecuador's case against these brothers are --- but the description of the crimes sound like something that Obama's American contributors like to do:
In 2012, the two were sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison in Ecuador in what the government there calls a scheme to run a bank into the ground by making loans to businesses they controlled and then presenting false balance sheets to get bailout funds.
What's interesting is that even though the U.S. ambassador regarded the evidence as not terribly strong, it appears that even she regarded these guys as scoundrels:
In 2005, Kristie A. Kenney, then the American ambassador to Ecuador, wrote a scathing cable to Washington accusing the brothers of financing a $2 million bribe to get Ecuador’s attorney general to drop the case. She acknowledged then that the government of Ecuador offered feeble documentation to back up its extradition request, but she attributed that to pressure from the Isaias family, which owned 27 radio stations, three newspapers and a sugar production company.