First They Came For The Chemists…

A retired Massachusetts chemist had his home raided (without a warrant of course) and his property stolen by authorities. Why?

Experiments. That’s right. He was doing experiments.

Deeb is not accused of making methamphetamine or other illegal drugs. He’s not accused of aiding terrorists, synthesizing explosives, nor even of making illegal fireworks.

Pamela Wilderman, the code enforcement officer for Marlboro, stated, “I think Mr. Deeb has crossed a line somewhere. This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation.”

Wilderman thinks he has crossed a line…somewhere. Sounds like reason enough to me. I’m really scared by precedents like this when they go unchecked. It’s a threat not only to people who like to tinker with science as a hobby, but also to people who homeschool and people who may be developing new products or processes in their spare time.

One day it may be illegal to develop WordPress themes, and there won’t be any chemists to stand up for us.

via Slashdot

**UPDATE**

Reader Greg Compton sent this via Twitter–“inspector is a former theatre major“.

At least Massachusetts residents don’t have to worry about getting their doors kicked in during charades night.

A Wrinkle in Time

Quantum physics, string theory, stuff like lasers and ball bearings–these are just a few things that I like to pretend I understand. Usually I just invoke the names of Stephen Hawking or Dr. Emmett Brown. If my audience is really smart I’ll make a reference to “e”, the loneliest of all the irrational numbers. I had to read a lot of books to pretend to know so much, only to find out from Rooster that I was wasting my time. If you really want to confuse someone, try this line.

Rooster Time Warp

Chavez Brokers Deal For Hostages

From the Christian Science Monitor, two higher priority hostages have been released, and others may be forthcoming. The article doesn’t say what Chavez offered to secure their release.

Interesting. Show of hands–who here thinks Chavez promised FARC something juicy (hmm…what could a militant group want?) in return for making him look like a hero and undermining Colombia’s current administration?

Uribe had little choice but to allow the fiery leftist leader – who’s called him a “puppet” and “lapdog” of Washington – to organize a new mission, but demanded it be done discreetly and “with respect for the Colombian government.”

The Missus is Colombian, but has lived in the U.S. since she was a child and has limited knowledge about what goes on there. We’re encouraging her dad to start blogging, mostly as a way to get him to document all the great stories he has about growing up in the middle of the jungle in Colombia and the vast knowledge he has of the history and culture. We had a very short discussion over Christmas about this very situation. He has a lot of insight, and I wish we could have talked about it a little more or I’d have had a little less to drink :). No worries though, I’ve already sent an email asking for his comments, and with his permission I’ll post his response.

But at the same time, according to observers, Colombia could see an increase in FARC attacks throughout the country. “They will try to demonstrate that despite the setback and despite their willingness to release hostages, they are still powerful,” says Mr. Bagley.

It’s really too bad that most of what we hear about Colombia in the U.S. leads to the conclusion that there are kidnappers on every corner and snipers on every roof waiting to pick off any gringo that may stumble by. I’ve only visited once, but everyone I encountered was extremely friendly and anxious to dispell that myth. There was never a time when I didn’t feel completely safe. Admittedly, I was in a city the whole time. The mountains and jungles are more treacherous, even for Colombians. That’s unfortunate as well, because from everything I’ve seen in photos and heard from people who have been, these areas are absolutely beautiful.

***UPDATE–Here’s the response my father-in-law sent on how he surmises the situation

The situation that has presented to the world through the media is real, however the conclusions drawn from this is completely unreal.
Since the previous liberation attempt was a complete disaster to Chavez they had to come through with something to save face, especially when the FARC admitted that the Colombian President was stating the truth about the child, while at the same time Chavez was blaming the Colombians for the intermission in the liberation process . All the political representatives had egg on their face with this backfire to Chavez .

1. Fact : The leftist guerrillas are under direct control of foreign governments, Cuba.
2. Fact : Chavez is the apparent heir of Fidel.
3. Fact : This was a complete publicity stunt in favor of the guerrillas with the leftist figures to give it a political backing to the guerrillas showing a human side which they do not have.
4. Fact : The Colombian government was pressured into this farce by the French and European community which are looking to obtain the freedom of Ingrid Betancourt, freedom that will not happen for now. She is a big ace that the guerrillas hold for their advantage. She might be used in the next publicity stunt concocted in Cuba to further the Chavez agenda in Latin America.
5. Fact : This was a complete washing of Chavez ‘s face by the guerrillas through the orders of the puppet master ” Fidel Castro”

Global Warming–Don’t Just Suggest It…Prove It

I originally saw this article about the growing number of global warming skeptics in the scientific community.  It contains some pretty interesting stuff and is worth a full read…

The voices of many of these hundreds of scientists serve as a direct challenge to the often media-hyped “consensus” that the debate is “settled.”

While there I also found another great article

“The first Earth Day in America claimed the following, that because of global cooling, the population of America would have collapsed to 22 million by the year 2000. And of the average calorie intake of the average American would be wait for this, 2,400 calories, would good it were. [LAUGHTER] It’s nonsense and very dangerous. And what we have fundamentally forgotten is simple primary school science. Climate always changes.”

Is global warming a man-made problem?  Does it even exist?  I think it makes sense to read and listen to both sides before you decide, questioning possible personal motivations of everyone along the way.

Language Evolution — Who Be Studying It?

Harvard’s Erez Lieberman, Jean-Baptiste Michel are applying mathematical analysis to changes in the English language to make predictions on how the language will evolve and what changes we can expect.

Lieberman and Michel’s group computed the “half-lives” of the surviving irregular verbs to predict how long they will take to regularize. The most common ones, such as “be” and “think,” have such long half-lives (38,800 years and 14,400 years, respectively) that they will effectively never become regular. Irregular verbs with lower frequencies of use — such as “shrive” and “smite,” with half-lives of 300 and 700 years, respectively — are much more likely to succumb to regularization.

Lieberman, Michel, and their co-authors project that the next word to regularize will likely be “wed.”

If you’re like me you will find this interesting because it mixes language, math, pattern recognition, data mining all together to come up with some pretty cool results. No one? Oh well.

I’m pretty disappointed by this study’s prediction that “to be” will be one of the last verbs to be regularized in the English language because of its high rate of use. Not that I really want it to be regularlized, but I’m pretty sick of hearing it misconjucated. Count the number of times you hear (or even worse, read) a sentence like this today…

“There’s many ways to waste time at work.”

Wrong. There are many ways to waste time at work, or there’s one way to waste time at work.

It’s suprising how many trained professional writers in newspapers and magazines have trouble conjucating for singular and plural subjects.

She Can’t Be Serious

Hillary Clinton’s latest idea

“I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so that when that young person turns 18 if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that downpayment on their first home,” she said.

Uh, by “give” do you mean take $5,000 from the money raised through various taxes and handing it back out to every newborn? That’s not really so much of a gift as it is a re-distribution, but I’ll play along.

So who will administer these gifts? Are they willing to work for free? I’m assuming not, so let’s add a little bit to each of these gifts to collect from the taxes and hand it back out. A dime each? Maybe if this were private industry, but we’re dealing with government, so it will be more like $1 each. With 4 million babies being born each year, that’s $4M in overhead alone.

I like this idea of “grow over time”. Is this going to “grow” like the national debt or social security shortfalls? Will it grow like the federal budget? Will it grow like the effective tax rate? Hmm…it doesn’t seem like the federal government has a good track record in growing anything that benefits the public financially, does it?

I’m assuming from the article that this would be some kind of bond? If so, it seems to me this is what you are proposing, step by step:

1) Take money from some people
2) Pay the salaries of the people you hire to do the taking
3) Pay the salaries of the people you hire to give out money
4) Give whatever is left from step (2) and (3) to some people, in many cases the same people you took it from in step (1)
5) Instantly loan this money to Uncle Sam at a low interest rate
6) Eighteen years later, wonder why Uncle Sam can’t repay the loan, never realizing that this, along with other ingenious ideas, have crippled the middle class financially to the point that are more people in step (4) than there are in step (1)

I’ve got an idea. Let’s eliminate at least one ponzi scheme we already have going before we start another one.

**UPDATE**
Doug Mataconis at TheLibertyPapers has scienced out all the math–$12,492,000,000 for a year’s worth of babies.

Big Hole in the Universe

From Space.com

The hole is nearly a billion light-years across. It is not a black hole, which is a small sphere of densely packed matter. Rather, this one is mostly devoid of stars, gas and other normal matter, and it’s also strangely empty of the mysterious “dark matter” that permeates the cosmos. Other space voids have been found before, but nothing on this scale.

1. What human behavior caused this?
2. How long has Bush been covering it up?
3. How much money have the oil companies made exploiting it?
4. What is Hillary’s (Obama’s, Romney’s, Rudy’s, etc) plan to save us from it while still keeping taxes low for hard working American families?

He Plays, err, Blogs the Right Way

All the recent talk locally about proper link attribution prompted me to finish a post I started a while back about blogging and baseball. “Everything I need to know about blogging I learned from watching baseball”? Eh, don’t really like that title too much. Plus it sounds like link bait, and I’d never do that. 😉

But I do like the notion of “playing the game the right way”. To me, that’s just about the highest honor you can give a baseball player. In a lot of ways, the same things relate to blogging:

Persistence pays off–show up every day

Cal RipkenIf you go by the numbers, Cal Ripken Jr may not look like a Hall of Famer. His batting average isn’t spectacular(.276), he didn’t hit an incredible amount of home runs (431) given the number of games he played (3001). Ripken instead sealed his legacy by being a great shortstop and showing up to play every day for a very long time (2131 consecutive games). Some days it was miserably cold, and he played. Some days it was miserably hot, and he played. Some days he was injured, and he played. A lot of days he was just plain old, and he played. While Cal’s numbers may not be all that impressive, the fact that he was so reliable is.

Be consistent and reliable for your readers. Show up every day (or week, or whatever your posting frequency is), and bring the best game you’ve got. You may only be able to outsmart, outwrite, and out search engine optimize half of the bloggers out there. The other half you will have to outwork!

Try to be the best at what you do, and the rest will take care of itself

The Wizard of OzzieFor position players, Hall of Fame credentials are usually decided by offensive numbers. Ozzie Smith is a rare exception. Why? Because his defense (13 Gold Gloves) was exceptional. With his unreal abilities at the shortstop position, there’s no telling how many runs Ozzie was able to save for his team on defense. The fact that he wasn’t always an exceptional producer on offense is overshadowed by the fact that he is the all time best on defense.

Very few bloggers are good at all aspects of the game. Concentrate on what you do best. If you are a great writer, write. If you are a great layout designer, design. If you are a great programmer, program. If you are even average at your deficiencies you can be successful. If you are excellent at your strengths, you’ll have no problem finding experts in other fields who recognize your greatness and want to be associated with you.

Cheating may get you there, but there’s a price to pay in the long run

Bonds CheaterHe-who’s-name-will-not-be-mentioned-here hit an awful lot of home runs. Very few people I know think his record is legitimate. Even fewer think very highly of him as a person. He’s basically ruined his own legacy by cheating to create it.

Don’t cheat. Learn the ropes. Hell, even learn a few tricks. But don’t cheat. Any short term gains you get won’t be worth the price you’ll have to pay in the long run. As a blogger, you need to be trusted, even if “trusted” means that people know for certain they will find nothing at your blog but a hilarious curse word laced story. Don’t spam for links. Don’t promise something that you can’t deliver. And by all means don’t steal content.

When it’s not working out, you have options

Rick AnkielI can’t tell Rick Ankiel’s story better than John Hutcheson. Short story–Rick Ankiel was a big league pitcher. He lost his stuff. He tried to get it back. He failed. Repeatedly. He went back to the minors and learned to play the outfield. He returned to the big leagues in 2007 as a Cardinals outfielder.

When something isn’t working out for you as a blogger, don’t be afraid to try something new. You’ll have to work at it, and you’ll have to learn something new. But since when are those bad things? And you’ll still be in the game.

By the way, Ankiel hit a three run homer in his first game as an outfielder.

When the someone comes after you, be ready!

In 1980, Dave Winfield charged the mound on Nolan Ryan and gave him a beat down. No one tested Ryan’s skills at the sweet science again until 1993. There was no reason to–the guy throws 100 mph. If he wanted to hurt you, you’d already be hurt. But in Nolan Ryan’s final season, he hit Robin Ventura in the arm, and Ventura came after him. This time, Ryan was ready, and the insuing butt-kicking Ventura received let everyone know that Nolan Ryan is not a guy you want to mess with.

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If you establish any kind of success as a blogger, someone is bound to come after you. While you can’t get them in a headlock and pummel them six times until Pudge Rodriguez comes out to rescue them, if you pay for hosting for you own domain, you need to make sure that your site is secure and your data is backed up from day one. Also, monitor your incoming links to make sure they are on the up and up. Don’t let someone else make you look spammy.

By the way, Ventura was ejected and Nolan Ryan completed the game without giving up another hit.

Conditions will change, and fame can come from anywhere

In 1922, the St. Louis Cardinals traded Cliff Heathcote to the Chicago Cubs in between games of a double header with the Cubs! If not for this fact, who would ever remember Heathcote?

Things change very quickly online. Who knew anything about social networking three years ago and the way it would change things? If you’ve produced quality content before the change, the same content will be just as valuable after the change. Keep doing what you do and continue to learn about how that fits in with the current environment. You’ll be surprised to find that some of what you consider to be your most unremarkable stuff is what people end up knowing you for.

By the way, Heathcote went 2-4 in the second game.

Last but not least…

Give credit to your teammates

In post game interviews with pitchers who have just thrown a perfect games or no-hitters, they generally thank two people–“God and my teammates”. This isn’t just lip service. These guys know they would not have been able to reach this achievement without a lot of support from other people (and elsewhere). The best even call out their teammates by name. Even that guy-who’s-name-I-won’t-type was big enough to thank the teammates he’d had throughout the years, and this was the closest he’s come to speaking to some of them.

Make sure you site your resources. Most of the time they will be people just like you scraping to get their blog seen and read. Know that you can help them most by giving them relevant anchor text in the link.

Can you tell I am was a Cardinals fan?

Live Blogging of the South Carolina Debate Part II

After the break…

Question 21:  That’s funny that Gilmore lumps those three together.  I like to do that with “Republicrats”.  He is doing a great job of not naming names.  And now he’s naming names.  This could get good.

Question 22:  Guiliani is basically asking McCain to be his running mate.  I guess he’s been anointed?   Wallace busts his ass for not answering the question.  And he still does not answer the question.  He may become un-anointed.

Question 23:  McCain is going to turn this into “reach across the aisle”.  Wait for it…there it is!  I should be writing for him.  A least I know what he’s going to say already.  Three “reaces across the aisle” so far.
Question 24:   What if 80% of the citizens in Huckabee’s state voted for him to jump off a cliff…would he do it?

Question 25:  Poor Mitt Romney.  He had to fight so hard in Massachusetts.

Question 26:  Ronald Reagan gave amnesty to everyone.  Not one of these guys would support that.  It doesn’t poll well.

Question 27:   Thompson looks like a substitute science teacher talking about embryonic stem cells.  Actually, he looks like a vice principal filling in because there isn’t a substitute.

Question 28:  Guiliani gets another question.  This is now being made Guiliani vs. Huckabee…a nice “bump” for Huckabee.  He turns it into a blast on Islam.

Question 29:  Brownback at least stands by principle no matter the circumstances.  If you believe we are all children of God, his stance makes since.

Question 30:  Back to Romney.  I admire people who can separate their personal views and wishes with the role of government.  Unfortunately, Romney is just a flip-flopper.

No questions for Ron Paul in that round.  Hmmm……

Question 31:   I think Tancredo forgot the question.  The “Road to Des Moines” line was good.  Bonus points for that.

Question 32:  McCain wants a bi-partisan solution…a reach across the aisle.

Question 33:  Mr. Romney, we don’t need an employment verification system if we have big programs that give everything away to those who don’t work.

Question 34:  Rebuttal from McCain.  This is getting ridiculous.

Question 35:  Let’s put Guiliani’s database into Al Gore’s lock box.  He isn’t addressing the statements of his past.  This is becoming a pattern with him.

Question 36:  Duncan Hunter built a fence in San Diego.  That’s nothing compared to inventing the internet–good thing he doesn’t have to run against Gore.  His hair is messed up.

Question 37:  Didn’t Ron Paul answer this question before?  “Follow the Constitution” should be his campaign slogan.  Back to Reagan again…

***Guiliani butts in and breaks the format, and of course it is allowed by the moderators.  It is getting Ron Paul air time…I’ll take it.  Paul isn’t saying that 9-11 was justified, he’s only giving their justification.  He’s not condoning their reason, just saying that it was the reason.

Question 38:   McCain is taking his right answer and claiming that it was wrong.  It is up to the State of South Carolina.

Question 39:   Huckabee thinks “Missouri” ends with an “a”.  That’s a state issue, not a national one.

Question 40:  Tancredo gets confused on every single question.  He debates like an 8th grader.

Concensus versus Truth–Global Warming, Babe Ruth, and Rickey Henderson

The other day, a friend sent me an article from the KNS  about recent temperatures in East Tennessee, presumably trying to convince me that global warming is real and that the temperatures and phenomena in this area for the past 20 years prove it.  All of this stemmed from a conversation we had a few days before about global warming, whether or not humans are causing it, and who (individuals or governments) should do something about it.  Disclaimer:  I feel it necessary to state at this point that this is not a post on global warming.

The guy who sent this article is one of the smatest people I know–easily in the top five amongst my friends, although that may not mean much :), when it comes to raw intellectual power.  He is well educated in the sciences, with an engineering degree from a university who’s program is respected nationally.  I think it is safe to assume that the scientific method is still taught and practiced there and was part of his training.

My surprise isn’t that he believes in global warming.  I am more intrigued that he is willing to argue the causes, which he believes to be humans, based on scientific concensus while completely dismissing facts proven by the scientific method.  He doesn’t dismiss all of the facts mind you, just the ones that don’t support his opinion.

Okay…no more global warming.  Let’s shift gears and talk about baseball and how these topics are related. Continue reading “Concensus versus Truth–Global Warming, Babe Ruth, and Rickey Henderson”