Why Hoboken is Throwing Away All of its Student Laptops

Why? Put simply… because buying terribly expensive distracting electronics for clumsy, absent-minded, flighty, malicious and devious adolescents is a *stupid* idea. Millions of dollars flushed, not only in direct expenses, but in lost opportunities (you put a laptop in a kids hands, what do you think he’s going to do with it in class? Classwork? Pfah!).

If you, as a school district, want all the kids to have laptops, there’s an effective way to get it done: issue a directive to the parents: “If you want your kid to graduate, make sure that he/she has a functioning laptop or netbook or Ipad or what ever that can run the programs listed on the next page.” That’s it. Thus if the kid breaks the laptop? Not the schools loss. If the kid uses it to download porn, or has outdated security software? Not the schools responsibility. If the kid forgets it, loses it, sells it for crack? Tough titty toenails.

“But what about the poor parents,” you ask? A few simple solutions:

1) Send an official to the petitioning poor families home to talk to them about options. If there is, say, a flat screen TV on the wall… why, right then and there, offer up a direct trade. Beer, smokes, bling: if they got ‘em, they don’t need assistance getting a $300 computer for Junior.

2) Hold a bake sale or something.

3) Does the school have an athletic program? Boom. Right there. There’s the money you need to provide loans to “underprivileged” families to help ‘em buy a laptop at the nearest pawn shop. If not by cutting back on athletic program funding, then by the simple act of charging $10 admission for everyone who wants to see Junior play basketball or football or whatever. Look askance at anyone who claims they need assistance getting a laptop yet is willing to pony up $10 to watch some of the worst sports in the world.

Ken Ham. Granted, I suspect most halfway intelligent Christians are as embarrassed to claim Ham as one of their own as I, a human being, am embarrassed to admit that he is, apparently, also a human being. But still, this purveyor of religious idiocy and anti-science gibberish is relevant to the discussion of religion and aliens, due to a blog posting of his a few days ago:

The search for extraterrestrial life is really driven by man’s rebellion against God in a desperate attempt to supposedly prove evolution!

Translation: The search for facts is anti-my-God. Nobody could possibly have any reason to explore the universe unless they are trying to kill God.

And I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth.

Translation: Sucks to be Vulcan. Y’all will get punished for what one of *us* did, 6,000 years ago. Burn!


There’s some sort of allegory for Washington politics here…

Former contractor says she was attacked by rats at DC’s Providence Hospital

Excitingly, the rodents are gnawing upon the bodies of the dead in the hospital morgue:

“They were going into places like the anal area, the vaginal area, the pubic area of the males,” Doris Kennard said. “That’s where they would get in.”


Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012

In short: a coronal mass ejection shot out of the sun and came near-ish to the Earth. It was at least as powerful as the CME that hit the Earth in 1859, the so-called “Carrington Event” (named after the astronomer who linked a solar flare and the geomagnetic storm that followed). This event had some interesting effects:

1) Aurora visible as far south as Cuba and Hawaii

2) In the northeast, aurora so bright you could read by them at night

3) Telegraph offices burst into flames due to the induced currents

4) Telegraph systems that functioned *without* being powered up due to the induced currents.

Had the July 2012 CME hit the Earth, we could have expected some or all of the following:

1) A whole lot of fried satellites: say goodby to satellite TV, intercontinental communications, weather satellites, GPS

2) Phone land-lines would have been charged up, perhaps setting your phones/modems on fire (and perhaps the rest of your house)

3) Power lines would have been charged up, blowing up a *lot* of transformers and shutting down large power grids

It would have been basically a giant EMP attack. Things like your laptop, your cell phone, your car even a house with its own diesel/PV/wind generators would have been fine, since the length of the conductors involved are likely far too short to build up enough current to cause trouble. But for conductors *miles* long, like phone and power lines, you could expect to see massive damage. Lights out, basically. And getting the lights back on would be a hell of a challenge.

Chances of another such solar superstorm hitting the Earth in the next decade; 12%.

I don’t know if this is an accurate report, or little more than an email chain letter…

People Kept Complaining This Restaurant Sucked, Look What They Found Out…

Short form: a New York City restaurant that has been around a good many years has been getting increasingly bad reviews, so they hired outsiders to figure it out. Security camera tapes from 2004 were found and compared to current-day recordings. Upshot: people spend numerous minutes before ordering their food futzing with their phones. Then when the food comes, they spend more minutes taking photos of their food. Then more minutes taking photos of *each* *other* with their food. By this point the food is cold, so they send it back to be reheated. Then many more minutes to eat and pay, since they’re on their phones. Thus slowing down the waiters and making the next set of customers wait.

I’m of two minds. On one hand, this sounds like bullcrap, like the plot to a bad sitcom. Who actually wastes that much time taking pictures of their *food?* On the other hand, this is New York City, one of the great centers of self-absorption and shallow meaninglessness in the modern world. “Ooh, look at me, I’m doing something banal. I’d better tell the world!”

I don’t eat out all that often. But even in those rare instances when I have, I don’t recall having ever seen someone whip out an Iphone and take snapshots of their steak.

Ask yourself when it’s ever cool for a cop to respond to a complaint with:

“When you’re wearing that, what do you expect is going to happen here?”

So, what does a guy look like who’ll sexually abuse a boy under the age of twelve? Well, if the father happens to walk in on the molestation… kinda like this:


Bad as this scumbag feels now… wait till the general prison population gets a hold of him. Dregs of humanity they may be, they tend to take a dim view of child abusers.

Juuuuust a bit of a different tone.


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Back in the day:

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Thirty years ago, it was a “massacre” and a “crime against humanity” that “must never be forgotten,” “violating every concept of human rights.” Yesterday, “it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy.” And then he proceeds to blow off allies (“our first priority” was to “determine if there were American citizens on board”), tell jokes and fundraise.

Out soon is the movie “Lucy.” It looks massively entertaining (as it should be, being written and directed by Luc Besson, who gave us “The Fifth Element” and “From Paris With Love” and “Taken”), but there’s an aspect to it that has bugged me since I first saw a trailer for it, months ago. Namely, the tagline:

“The average person uses 10% of their brain capacity. Imagine what she could do with 100%.”

The problem is… humans *already* use 100% of their brain capacity. The 10% thing is a myth going on a century old, described in some detail here:

Humans Already Use Way, Way More Than 10 Percent of Their Brains

The 10% myth is basically an urban legend with no basis in fact whatsoever, but it’s an urban legend that just freakin’ refuses to die.

That said: the human brain, though it’s being used at much more than 10%, could of course be made to run better. Whether via cybernetics, drugs or perhaps some genetic rewiring, it (like any naturally evolved system) can be greatly improved upon while still retaining its basic nature. In “Lucy,” as the main character gains more and more control she gains magical superpowers… telekinesis and apparently control over time, for starters. These are of course silly. Just because your brain has been boosted doesn’t mean you’ll be able to change the laws of physics. But what you might be able to do:

1) Think (and read, and do math, and process information) faster

2) Think *deeper* (run complex simulations in your head quickly and accurately)

3) Think more creatively

Put those together, and you’ll really have something. #3 is the one that popular culture seems to have the greatest fixation on, as if pure creativity is in and of itself this wonderful thing. But without #1 and #2, creativity is just gibberish. Without the ability to collate data *and* process the validity of an idea in the context of the available data, coming up with new ideas turns into coming up with uncontrolled nonsense. “What if purple monkey dishwasher?”

I suspect that within a generation or two there will be drugs and/or gene therapies that will boost functional IQs. Turn an average person into a genius; make a genius into a super-genius. This will, of course, annoy the hell out of a whole lot of people. *Any* drug is expensive when it first comes on the market. So the Brain boost is going to cost (handwave) ten grand a pop at first. Who could afford that? Well… rich people. Taking rich folk – who, in many cases, already have a tendency to be smarter – and making them thirty IQ points higher up will only make them richer still. This will not go over well.

What these drugs won’t do is allow you to use more of your brain. they’ll allow you to use the same amount of your brain… but more efficiently and/or powerfully. And they won’t let you teleport.

By a Russian “Buk” missile, reportedly. Fingers being pointed at the pro-Russian separatists. Plane had 295 souls on board, all dead now.

BBC: Ukraine airliner ‘crash’ updates

CNN: Report: Malaysia Airlines flight crashes in Ukraine

The “Buk” missile is a substantial weapon, launched from an armored vehicle. Somewhat akin to the Patriot missile the Buk is capable of reaching aircraft at an altitude of 25 km… well above the 33,000 foot cruising altitude of the jetliner.

UPDATE: Below is a twitter feed showing a number of photos of wreckage on the ground. Be warned, though… some of the wreckage used to be alive. The fall from 33,000 feet, and especially that sudden stop at the end, does the human body no favors. So if Ogrish and Rotten were your websites of choice back in the day, here ya go (not directly linking because, well, if ya want it, what, are your fingers broke?)


This one might prove to be a bit heartbreaking for a few hundred families:


UPDATED update: Another interesting Twitter feed:



Oh, it’s on now:

Reuters World @ReutersWorld  ·  22m

#BREAKING: Number of dead from crash of #MH17 more than 300, includes 23 U.S. citizen: Interior Ministry adviser, quoted by Interfax


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