Thursday, June 30, 2005

Hearken ye to the wisdom of Joanne Jacobs ADHD warnings: "
From USAToday via Joanne Jacobs:
"New warnings about psychiatric side effects will be added to the label of drugs used to treat children for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The FDA is reacting to 'reports of hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, psychotic behavior and aggression' among users of Ritalin and similar drugs."

Can you say over diagnosed? Knew you could!
The educational industry is particularly prone to this. Here's the correct answer to a teacher yapping about ADD or ADHD: "That's a medical diagnosis. Would you please hold that medical degree up again? I didn't quite see it the first time."

The Brits on GWB Quoth the maven: THIS BUSH INTERVIEW from The [London] Times is worth reading, but this part seems to have caught the eye of a lot of InstaPundit readers:

"In person Mr Bush is so far removed from the caricature of the dim, war-mongering Texas cowboy of global popular repute that it shakes one’s faith in the reliability of the modern media."

Recalling for the record, US elites were head over heels for FDR whom our Gallant British Allies described as a "second rate mind wrapped up in a first rate personality" (that may be a paraphrase, not a quote). US elites loathe GWB whom the Brits describe above.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Term paper about 'God' earns student failing grade

Term paper about 'God' earns student failing grade:
The subject -- approved by the Professor -- was "Religion and its place within the Government." The instructor told her she couldn't use the word "God".
"Hauf took her concerns about not being able to use 'God' in her report to her teacher, then to the department chair.
Sterling souls all, they chose to enshrine the bureaucratic process:
During a joint meeting between all three the options were laid out: Hand in the report with the 'G' word or revise, edit or re-write the paper, Solis said.
'She continued to write her paper,' Solis said. 'She knew what the consequences were.'"
"Sols is one of the college bureaucrats. I don't think the bureaucrats know what the consequences are. Over to you Chris Johnson!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Our gallant British cousins strike a blow against Gov't -- your papers, please -- IDs News - Top Stories - Doubts over ID cards as cost soars to �18bn: "POLITICAL and public support for identity cards drained away yesterday as the Prime Minister faced the first potential rebellion of his third term in office.
Tomorrow, MPs will get their first chance to vote on the proposals since the election, when the Identity Card Bill gets its second reading in the Commons.
While the government is unlikely to lose the vote, the size of the rebellion by Labour back-benchers concerned at the erosion of civil liberties will be seen as a crucial test of how far the Prime Minister's writ runs. "

Eighteen billion pounds is over $27Billion; real money even for the federal beast. Further, I'm assuming the fed could bring this in with the same level of safety, privacy, and economy as the Brits. Har.

Take it to the bank, friends, if the bad guys steal an ID and a tragedy results, my fellow bureaucrats are much more likely to persecute the ID holder than they are to admit they did something dunderheaded.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Yer virgins are waitin'

The Sydney Morning Herald
From the Sydney (Australia) Morning Hearald
Wood's fellow hostage hires bounty hunters
June 26, 2005 - 7:18PM

A hostage held alongside Australian Douglas Wood in Iraq has hired bounty hunters to track down his former captors, promising to eliminate them one by one.

Swede Ulf Hjertstrom, who was held for several weeks with Mr Wood in Baghdad, was released by his kidnappers on May 30.

Mr Hjertstrom has since claimed he shared information with US and Iraqi troops about Mr Wood which led to the release of the 63-year-old Australian engineers two weeks ago, after 47 days in captivity.

Now, he wants to find those responsible.

"I have now put some people to work to find these bastards," he told the Ten Network today.

"I invested about $50,000 so far and we will get them one by one."

Wow. Mr Hjertstrom, the PC critters will take your passport away from you for sure!

Friday, June 24, 2005

News of lasting importance

Almost Unnoticed, Bipartisan Budget Anxiety
The chickens will com home to roost in 2040. All emphasis is mine. Quoth the WaPo:
The timing could not have been more apt. On the eve of a titanic partisan clash in the Senate, eggheads of the left and right got together yesterday to warn both parties that they are ignoring the country's most pressing problem: that the United States is turning into Argentina.

It's a measure of how screwed up the political atmospherre is DC is. If the author, Dana Milbank, hadn't set the bipartisan bonafides in the first paragraph, a disturbingly large part of the readership would have filed it in a convenient little box ("they're attacking social security again" or "the liberals are blaming GWB again.").

While Washington plunged into a procedural fight over a pair of judicial nominees, Stuart Butler, head of domestic policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation, and Isabel Sawhill, director of the left-leaning Brookings Institution's economic studies program, sat down with Comptroller General David M. Walker to bemoan what they jointly called the budget "nightmare."

And here's an example of why I call myself neither democrat nor republican:

There were no cameras, not a single microphone, and no evidence of a lawmaker or Bush administration official in the room -- just some hungry congressional staffers and boxes of sandwiches from Corner Bakery. But what the three spoke about will have greater consequences than the current fuss over filibusters and Tom DeLay's travel.

With startling unanimity, they agreed that without some combination of big tax increases and major cuts in Medicare, Social Security and most other spending, the country will fall victim to the huge debt and soaring interest rates that collapsed Argentina's economy and caused riots in its streets a few years ago.

"The only thing the United States is able to do a little after 2040 is pay interest on massive and growing federal debt," Walker said. "The model blows up in the mid-2040s. What does that mean? Argentina."

Got that? The only thing. Right out of the starting gate, the liberal concurs:

"All true," Sawhill, a budget official in the Clinton administration, concurred.

And the conservative agrees:

"To do nothing," Butler added, "would lead to deficits of the scale we've never seen in this country or any major in industrialized country. We've seen them in Argentina. That's a chilling thought, but it would mean that."

Each of the three had a separate slide show, but the numbers and forecasts were interchangeable.

Walker put U.S. debt and obligations at $45 trillion in current dollars -- almost as much as the total net worth of all Americans, or $150,000 per person. Balancing the budget in 2040, he said, could require cutting total federal spending as much as 60 percent or raising taxes to 2 1/2 times today's levels.

Butler (the conservative) pointed out that without changes to Social Security and Medicare, in 25 years either a quarter of discretionary spending would need to be cut or U.S. tax rates would have to approach European levels. Putting it slightly differently, Sawhill (the liberal) posed a choice of 10 percent cuts in spending and much larger cuts in Social Security and Medicare, or a 40 percent increase in government spending relative to the size of the economy, and equivalent tax increases.

The unity of the bespectacled presenters was impressive -- and it made their conclusion all the more depressing. As Ron Haskins, a former Bush White House official and current Brookings scholar, said when introducing the thinkers: "If Heritage and Brookings agree on something, there must be something to it."

Courtesy of the Washington Post. Read it all here. Or click on the link at the head of this post.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Marginal Revolution: Do we have too much choice?

Marginal Revolution: Do we have too much choice?: "Will customers trust businesses to select for them? If too much choice alienates you, won't the store put the high-margin items on the front table right before your eyes? Maybe so, but competition across firms should limit such mark-ups. And if the mark-up gets too high, people will cope. Schwarz himself notes: A small-town resident who visits Manhattan is overwhelmed by all that is going on. A New Yorker, thoroughly adapted to the city�s hyperstimulation, is oblivious to it."

Jenny D.: Education Carnival #20

A summary of summaries of the education world. Really good stuff. Enjoy some of her wisdom:
And Instructivist does math this week as well, from quite a different perspective. When is math not math? When it's Mayan math, or New Guinean math, perhaps. Is math culturally relative? Is two plus two something else in another culture? I've gotta add that the math educators in my school would have a heart attack about this. Sure, they like new ideas, but this seems, well, kind of silly.

I would have said, "really stupid", but I'm, like, toadally unreconstructed, man.

Read it! with a really depressing answer to "What works in teacher education?"

What works in teacher education? We don't really know concludes a report by the American Educational Research Association. After evaluating the research, "there's little empirical evidence to show that many of the most common practices in the field produce effective teachers," Education Week summarizes. The AERA panel recommends ways to strengthen the knowledge base.

Read it all

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Scientific American: Nepalese Porters Operate at Pinnacle of Efficiency

On average, male porters carried around 90 percent of their body mass and females lugged loads weighing around 66 percent of their body mass.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Shipping, shipbuilding, offshore news

Shipping, shipbuilding, offshore news:
"USCG port state detentions rise
The U.S. Coast Guard has issued its Annual Port State Control Report for 2004, examining the safety and security compliance of foreign-flag vessels visiting the U.S. last year.
Safety compliance declined slightly in 2004 with 2.43 percent of vessels detained because of poor compliance with safety standards, an increase from 1.99 percent in 2003, but still less than the 2.5 percent that were detained in 2002.
But the report notes that foreign-flagged vessel compliance with new international security requirements was better than expected in the first six months of implementation, with only 2.5 percent of vessels arriving in U.S. ports found to be significantly non-compliant with the new security requirements, and denied entry to port, detainedor expelled from port as a result. In all, there were 176 safety related vessel detentions last year, compared with 153 in 2003. "

It's possible to make a case that Port State enforcement does as much good as everything else put together. I won't, but one could!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Numbskullery from Professor Barry Schwartz, meathead

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: Choose and Lose: "This brings me to the final defense of privatization: the payroll taxes you pay are your money, and you ought to be able to do what you like with your money. This, I suspect, is the real justification behind the move to privatize, and it is the worst reason of all. The payroll tax is not 'your' money; it's our money. Social Security was created as an insurance scheme, not a pension scheme. It was meant to provide a safety net, to protect the unlucky from immiseration in old age. The benefits we get are not payouts from accounts in which we have accumulated our own private stash. What we get is largely determined by what we earned, but we keep getting it even after we've taken out every penny we put in. And if we happen to die early, someone else reaps the benefits of our contributions. "

Well, no. Social Security has never been an insurance scheme. If you want to call it such, you need to come up with another phrase to describe real insurance schemes. SS, hell all intergenerational transfers are Ponzi Schemes; further, the day of reckoning approacheth in less than half a century.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Common sense trumps 'expertise',

especially self-annointed experts. Like 911 operators and dispatchers who are miles from the scene.
Money quote (yes, the emphasis is added):

"We know that US borders are porous, that major targets are largely undefended, and that the multicolor threat alert scheme known affectionately as "the rainbow of doom" is a national joke. Anybody who has been paying attention probably suspects that if we rely on orders from above to protect us, we'll be in terrible shape. But in a networked era, we have increasing opportunities to help ourselves. This is the real source of homeland security: not authoritarian schemes of surveillance and punishment, but multichannel networks of advice, information, and mutual aid."
Wired 13.06: START

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Star Wars -- the science of consistency

Todd Seavey's glue starts to melt:
Metaphilm - Star Wars: "As a writer/editor at the American Council on Science and Health, I often criticize "crank" scientists who cling to a faltering theory long after it has become plain to all sane observers that the pet idea just doesn't hold together logically. They are pathetic, quixotic figures.
We science fiction fans are not so different, though, when we struggle to rationalize away the contradictions in our favorite fictional universes."

As I said, I like having my fancy struck!

McCain-Feingold, Free Speech, and Bloggers

Instapundit's on the -: "So much for all that 'make no law' stuff, I guess. John McCain should be tarred and feathered, not spoken of as a presidential timber, for the travesty he produced. "

IMO Orcs prepare to strike again.

The premise behind the development of goal-based standards is that IMO should play a larger role in determining the
fundamental standards to which new ships are built.
Here's SNAME's summary.
IMO is the Int'l Maritime Organization -- a United Nations agency which has waged a pretty effective war against mariners from Southern Asia, Africa, and parts of South America. Now it's apparently going to tackle the shipbuilding industry.

It's not that they're not interested in safety; it's that they're more interested in preventing competition with established builders