03 October 2023

An updated, revised, hyperencabulator video

I posted the original encabulator video in 2011.  The Rockwell Retro Encabulator was posted several years ago.  Now this new version.  If you have difficulty following the text, try turning on subtitles.

02 October 2023

"Dad, I raked the leaves"

Two examples of creative reimagining of an autumn chore.  Credit to Nikola Faller, via Kottke [third example at the link].

The trauma of school "shooter drills"

 "... nurses are telling us that they are walking away from situations where there are hyperrealistic active-shooter drills, and they themselves are traumatized by the experience. And they are watching the children be traumatized by the experience. They are telling us that they see preschool-age children go home and tell their parents that there was a shooter at school today. And they are telling us, in some situations, that they feel a gun-violence incident at their school, if it hasn’t already happened yet, feels inevitable. There is a lot of concern about the long-term and harmful psychological effects of hyperrealistic active-shooter drills, and that they are, in many instances, likely to be much more harmful in the long term than helpful in any kind of realistic scenario. And I think we need to understand what works before we widely implement something without understanding the long-term consequences...

So last year, there were 305 different shootings at a school. Two of them were deliberate attacks. The other 303 were a time when a gun was fired, and in that moment, students hear gunshots, teachers hear gunshots, the school goes into lockdown usually for hours, for 3, 4, 5, 6 hours. And because everyone heard that gunshot, they think that it is the real thing. They’re texting their parents, “I love you, goodbye.” But in reality, what we can see from data is that the most common situation to happen at a school is a fight that escalates.

There are more teenagers carrying weapons than there have been at previous points in history, and when there’s a conflict, these conflicts are turning into shootings. And the shooter almost always runs immediately, so there’s no threat at the school anymore. But we only have one plan for when a shot is fired, and that’s lockdown. On the other end, when there is a deliberate attack — there have been 230 of those since 1966 — they don’t all happen in the classroom."
The discussion continues at The New England Journal of Medicine (not behind a paywall).

Littoral stress

Sunbathers on the beach at Rio de Janeiro.  From a gallery at The Atlantic. [credit Tercio Teixeira / AFP / Getty]

"Constitutional sheriffs"

"The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association has nine Minnesota events planned in October. They’ll be led by Sheriff Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff who is also a founder of an extremist group that played a role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

Mack gained notoriety after he was part of a lawsuit that successfully overturned a provision of the Brady Law in the 1990s.

Since then, Mack founded the constitutional sheriffs group and has traveled the country, recruiting law enforcement officers — particularly sheriffs and deputies — to join his movement. Their central tenet, according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League, is that the county sheriff is the ultimate legal authority and can refuse to enforce any law they consider unconstitutional. This idea has no basis in law and aligns with so-called sovereign citizens , an anti-government extremist movement that believes they are sovereign from the U.S.
The Oath Keepers recruit law enforcement and have gotten more media attention, but the constitutional sheriffs group has “arguably had more success infiltrating law enforcement,” according to the ADL. 

Mack’s group believes county sheriffs’ powers exceed those of any other authorities when they’re protecting Americans from foreign or domestic enemies. Mack has claimed sheriffs have the power to call out the militia to support them — the same logic employed by the Posse Comitatus, which the ADL calls a loosely organized, far-right, violent anti-government group that sprang out of the West Coast around 1970, peaked in the early 1980s and evolved into the sovereign citizen movement. 

The Posse Comitatus also believed county government reigned supreme and sheriffs could nullify laws. One of their members, Gordon Kahl, was involved in two fatal shootouts with law enforcement in 1983, one in North Dakota and later in Arkansas, where he was killed.

Mack refers to his supporters as his posse.

The constitutional sheriffs’ group has honored as a “sheriff of the year” Wisconsin sheriff David Clarke, Jr., who described Black Lives Matter as a hate group and claimed they would join with the terrorist group ISIS to destroy American society. 
More at the link.

What's wrong with people these days???

I have fond memories of walking along Hadrian's Wall when I was a younger man.  This wasn't a whimsical folly; it was planned vandalism requiring heavy power tools or a two-man crosscut saw.  Whoever did this should be castrated.  Publicly, IMHO.

The embedded photo is a screencap from a brief video homage at the BBC.


Embedded image 😀 via Interesting Engineering.  Today I learned that CAPTCHA is an acronym.

01 October 2023

President Jimmy Carter

The 39th president of the United States lives modestly, a sharp contrast to his successors, who have left the White House to embrace power of another kind: wealth.  Even those who didn’t start out rich, including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, have made tens of millions of dollars on the private-sector opportunities that flow so easily to ex-presidents...

The Democratic former president decided not to join corporate boards or give speeches for big money because, he says, he didn’t want to “capitalize financially on being in the White House.”

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss said that Gerald Ford, Carter’s predecessor and close friend, was the first to fully take advantage of those high-paid post-presidential opportunities, but that “Carter did the opposite.”

Since Ford, other former presidents, and sometimes their spouses, routinely earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per speech.

“I don’t see anything wrong with it; I don’t blame other people for doing it,” Carter says over dinner. “It just never had been my ambition to be rich.”..

Carter decided that his income would come from writing, and he has written 33 books, about his life and career, his faith, Middle East peace, women’s rights, aging, fishing, woodworking, even a children’s book written with his daughter, Amy Carter, called “The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer.”

With book income and the $210,700 annual pension all former presidents receive, the Carters live comfortably. But his books have never fetched the massive sums commanded by more recent presidents...

Ex-presidents often fly on private jets, sometimes lent by wealthy friends, but the Carters fly commercial. Stuckey says that on a recent flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles, Carter walked up and down the aisle greeting other passengers and taking selfies...

That no-frills sensibility, endearing since he left Washington, didn’t work as well in the White House. Many people thought Carter scrubbed some of the luster off the presidency by carrying his own suitcases onto Air Force One and refusing to have “Hail to the Chief” played...

When Carter looks back at his presidency, he says he is most proud of “keeping the peace and supporting human rights,” the Camp David accords that brokered peace between Israel and Egypt, and his work to normalize relations with China. In 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

“I always told the truth,” he says.

Carter has been notably quiet about President Trump. But on this night, two years into Trump’s term, he’s not holding back.

“I think he’s a disaster,” Carter says. “In human rights and taking care of people and treating people equal.”..

They watch Atlanta Braves games or “Law and Order.” Carter just finished reading “The Innovators” by Walter Isaacson. They have no chef and they cook for themselves, often together. They make their own yogurt.

On this summer morning, Rosalynn mixes pancake batter and sprinkles in blueberries grown on their land. Carter cooks them on the griddle.
Then he does the dishes.
I highly recommend reading the full story at the Washington Post.  His life and his personal principles offer such a stark contrast to current and recent presidents.  Here's one final excerpt about his home:
...a two-bedroom rancher assessed at $167,000, less than the value of the armored Secret Service vehicles parked outside.
Photo credit Library of Congress, via CNBC.

Reposted from 2018 to add this photo of Jimmy Carter at his 96th birthday party several months ago:

He was too frail to attend the inauguration today, but was fondly remembered by several commentators (and me).

Via the Pics subreddit, where there is an affectionate comment thread.

Reposted from 2021 to celebrate President Carter's 99th birthday.  He is currently receiving hospice care.  Happy birthday, Mr. President.

26 September 2023


The longread itself doesn't have much new information, AFAIK.  I'm creating the post in order to embed the cropped image above, showing a reconstructed model of the face of a Neanderthal woman.

I love supercuts

A well-edited collage of film clips whets my appetite for films I might not otherwise be aware of.  The one embedded above was created by the same person who did the nice reviews of Kieslowski's Three Coulours trilogy.  But... it doesn't have an index of film sources that I could find.  That's very disappointing.

By contrast, the Welcome to a Supercut video below supplies a lengthy film list at the YouTube link.

Bricks as time capsules of DNA

I listen to all of the BBC Science in Action podcasts.  A recent one featured a report of how unfired clay bricks can be used to access ancient DNA.
"We extracted ancient DNA from a recently exposed fracture surface of a clay brick deriving from the palace of king Ashurnasirpal II (883–859 BCE) in Nimrud, Iraq. We detected 34 unique taxonomic groups of plants. With this research we have made the pioneering discovery that ancient DNA, effectively protected from contamination inside a mass of clay, can successfully be extracted from a 2900-year-old clay brick... in this study, it was possible to analyse the aDNA with a direct link to context and date, which allowed us to correlate with roughly contemporary textual evidence to present living plants."

Abby gets a prosthetic arm

This young woman has a number of videos on YouTube, sharing tips and tricks for coping with the absence of an arm.

Should children do homework?

From an article in the StarTribune:
"... a homework abolition movement has gained popularity in schools, particularly among lower grades. Several books have been written decrying the "myth" of homework, saying it often amounts to busywork, robs kids of sacred family time, overburdens overscheduled kids, and widens inequities already in the home.

Oh, yeah, and there's basically no evidence that homework in elementary school boosts academic achievement...

My fifth-grader typically brings home no work at all. For years, his main assignment has been to spend 20 to 30 minutes a day reading a book of his choice. While we occasionally have studied state capitals or spelling words for an upcoming test, he usually finishes all of his worksheets at school, so his nights are free from any ounce of academic pressure. He is advancing through his elementary school years without having the consistent drumbeat of homework that I remember from my childhood."
I don't remember any time after fifth grade when I didn't have homework on schoolnights and weekends - including summer vacation, during which a reading list was tackled.  I guess as a blogger I'm still doing homework...

This fish is older than I am

And her lineage is also interesting, because she is a lungfish.
"... Methuselah is the oldest living fish in captivity, aged somewhere upwards of 92 and potentially as high as 101 years. She arrived on a steamship from Australia along with 230 other fish to the Steinhart aquarium in San Francisco in 1938 as a young, small fish... she’s a lungfish – a species more closely related to humans or cows than to ray-finned fish like salmon or cod – which can breathe air using a single lung when streams become stagnant, or when water quality changes...

Lungfish like Methuselah have long-held secrets, but scientists have only recently attempted to understand their evolution and life history. For one thing, the fish’s genome is the largest of any animal, containing 43bn base pairs – roughly 14 times the number in the human genome. The previous record holder, the Mexican axolotl, has a genome made up of 32bn base pairs..."

Humans walking with dinosaurs

Stuff like this drive me crazy.  I found the illustration at an otherwise sensible SciTechDaily, accompanying an article entitled "Shocking Study: Humans’ Ancestors Lived Among Dinosaurs and Survived Asteroid Strike."

Which is trueHuman ancestors did coexist with dinosaurs - but the "ancestors" referred to are the first placental mammals, not bipedal simians.
Fossils of placental mammals are only found in rocks younger than 66 million years old, which is when the asteroid hit Earth, suggesting that the group evolved after the mass extinction. However, molecular data has long suggested an older age for placental mammals... In a new paper published in the journal Current Biology, a team of palaeobiologists from the University of Bristol and the University of Fribourg used statistical analysis of the fossil record to determine that placental mammals originated before the mass extinction, meaning they co-existed with dinosaurs for a short time. However, it was only after the asteroid impact that modern lineages of placental mammals began to evolve, suggesting that they were better able to diversify once the dinosaurs were gone.
I can understand that whoever curates content for SciTechDaily was faced with a Current Biology article containing illustrations like this -

- and opted instead to find some appropriate "eye candy" by searching for an illustration using the keywords "dinosaur" and "human ancestor."  That illustration is visually misleading and will offer support to those who believe humans walked with dinosaurs.

And while I'm ranting from my high horse, let me add this one I found today:

OMG - if things continue as they are going now, our planet will be "uninhabitable" in 250,000,000 years!  If you think your oceanfront lot is having problems now, just wait until the continents merge!!  C'mon Guardian.  You're better than this.
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