Hidden behind the “Spontaneous Jihadi Syndrome” news are reports of fake classes put together at the University of North Carolina over a number of years, involving 3,100 or so students. In short, the purpose of these classes was to make sure that athletes, football and basketball players and the like, got grades adequate to keep playing. The instructors simply rubber-stamped grades regardless of performance.

Well, that’s bad, but there’s one bright spot: it appears from what I’ve seen that the classes offered were not those that would lead someone to post-college positions of importance. They were not engineering courses. not physics. Not medical. Not even business course. They were, instead, run through the “African-American Studies” department. A modest Googling of the news didn’t turn up specifically what these courses were, though a similar incident at Stanford a few years ago had courses such as “Beginning Improvising” and “Social Dances of North America III.

The concept of the “Student Athlete” is one that has long been ready for mockery. Being able to run real fast, throw a ball and beat a drunk cheerleader into unconsciousness are skills largely unrelated to the skills needed to be a scholar; we’ve all known the “Ogre” with the scholarships and the minimal ability to read. The good thing here is that the “education” these yahoos apparently got would not have aided them in obtaining important work. Imagine if Boeing were to hire engineers based on “paper” engineering courses, or if your doctor showed up for classes a grand total of once, only to turn in a hastily scribbled paper. Instead, it appears likely that their degrees would have been horribly… lame. General stuff, dance analysis, the politics of race… these are not the educational tracks that will put anyone anywhere but burger flipepr jobs and talking heads on MSNBC.

Winning an election, Illinois style:

‘Calibration error’ changes GOP votes to Dem in Illinois county

I’ve said it before: never trust an Illinois politician. No politician who has gone through the Illinois machine should be allowed to hold national office. No good will come of that.

The White House floats a rial balloon:

Bootstrapping a Solar System Civilization

If we want to want to create a robust civilization in our solar system, more of the energy, raw materials, and equipment that we use in space has to come from space.  Launching everything we need from Earth is too expensive.  It would also be too expensive to send all of the factories required to manufacture everything necessary to support a solar system civilization.

Ultimately what we need to do is to evolve a complete supply chain in space, utilizing the energy and resources of space along the way. We are calling this approach “bootstrapping” because of the old saying that you have to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.  Industry in space can start small then pull itself up to more advanced levels through its own productivity, minimizing the cost of launching things from Earth in the meantime.  Obviously, this isn’t going to happen overnight, but I think that it is the right long-term goal.

Have ideas for massless exploration and bootstrapping a Solar System civilization? Send your ideas for how the Administration, the private sector, philanthropists, the research community, and storytellers can further these goals at massless@ostp.gov.

It would be nice to think that this is the sort of thing the administration was actually interested in doing something with. But let’s just say I won’t be holding my breath on this.

On the one hand, there is a good, rational case to be made for not freaking out, for not panicking, for maintaining a rational outlook. On the other hand, there is a good case to be made for caution. But Ebola seems to make people ignore both of these. And it seems to be making people *stupid.* For example:

Thomas Duncan*knew* he had been in contact with Ebola, yet thought it’d be a good idea to fly halfway across the planet.

Nurse Amber Vinson, who worked with known Ebola victim Thomas Duncan, decided to hop *two* jetliners and fly across the country.

A worker at the same hospital who “may have” handled Ebola samples thought it’d be a good idea to hop on board a *cruise* *ship* and has now been quarantined in the Caribbean.

It’s almost as if one of the symptoms of Ebola is an unaccountable urge to travel and spread the virus.

But at least now President Obama has selected an “Ebola Czar” to deal with the issue. Who? One “Ron Klain,” someone not immediately familiar. So who is this guy? What are his medical credentials? Well, fortunately he has a Wikipedia page:

Ronald A. “Ron” Klain is an American lawyer and political operative best known for serving as Chief of Staff to two Vice Presidents – Al Gore (1995–1999) and Joseph Biden (2009–2011).[1][2] He is an influential Democratic Party insider. Earlier in his career, he was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Byron White during the Court’s 1987 and 1988 Terms and worked on Capitol Hill, where he was Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination. He was portrayed by Kevin Spacey in the HBO film Recount depicting the tumult of the 2000 presidential election.

multifinger

 

State rep defends ‘Machine Gun Social’

Ummm… okay, so we’ve got a Republican Ohio state rep who’s going to have a public campaign fundraiser – called a “Machine Gun Social” – where there will be a few fully automatic weapons available for the public to shoot. As far as campaign fundraisers go, that sounds like a hoot (caveat: there will be only one gun at a time and it will be mechanically locked so it can’t shoot anywhere but downrange). Who could have a problem with that? Why… the Republican’s Democrat opponent, who opines:

“It’s hard to imagine the words “machine gun” and “social” in the same sentence. It’s an oxymoron. It doesn’t jive. It causes cognitive dissonance. … In my opinion, there is nothing social about machine guns, ever. They are weapons. The reason they exist is to kill people.

Feh.

 

Neato:

Barry A. Hazle Jr., Atheist, Wins Nearly $2 Million In Settlement Over Faith-Based Rehab Program

Short form: in 2007, Hazle was arrested for meth possession and sentence to rehab. but the only rehab that was available was one of those worthless faith-based things that’re no better than quitting cold turkey. Since Hazle was an atheist, he didn’t want to be involved, but he was made to go. So he was “disruptive, though in a congenial way, to the staff as well as other students” and  “sort of passive-aggressive.” As a result he was kicked out and sent to jail for three months.

And now his lawsuit has netted him just shy of $2,000,000.

Good.

South Carolina Prosecutors Say Stand Your Ground Doesn’t Apply To Victims Of Domestic Violence

No commentary necessary.

Firstly, famed Nobel-prize winning viral epidemiologist Barack Obama on speaking about Ebola assures the world: “You cannot get it through casual contact like sitting next to someone on a bus.”

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YouTube Direkt

Then those know-nothing untrustworthy anti-science chumps at the CDC posted this, giving advice for Americans who have traveled to Liberia, returned home, and now are displaying the early symptoms of Ebola:

Limit your contact with other people when you travel to the doctor; avoid public transportation.

Clearly the CDC is racist. Or something.

ebola

‘Deadly fire’ at Iran military explosives facility

An explosives plant associated with the Iranian nuclear program suffered a little mishap. A mishap that apparently blew out windows nine miles away.

There’s a gas station nearby that has an attached small diner that serves addictively good chicken… along with all the other staples of small “quick stop” joints. They recently set up a flat screen monitor to cycle through little ads showing the stuff that’s on sale or that they’re simply trying to move. All the ads are perfectly normal… a photo of a candy bar with relevant data, for example. But one of the ads has me a little stumped. I wonder if this is an actual official Kool-Aid image, or if it’s a satirical image that someone snagged either not knowing it was satire, or knowing it was but slipping it in anyway…

 

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