NC budget is a fiscally responsible Goldilocks document | News & Observer

September 24th, 2015

N&O contributor J. Peder Zane sometimes gets it right (see Confederate monument) but the rest of the time he lives in a libertarian paradise that, frankly, doesn’t exist.

Read how he pooh poohs the Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit, calling its repeal a “free market prod.” Well, it’s news to me that Duke Energy’s state-chartered monopoly on electricity is a “free market.” I was never the best student but I do seem to recall learning in school how a monopoly is pretty much the opposite of a free market.

I can’t wait to get this electricity free market that Zane promises. I’m sure that killing off competition is the best way to get it, right J. Peder?

Allowing the renewable energy investment tax credit to expire may be the best thing to happen to the green sector. Replacing the crutch of state support with the free market’s prod is our best hope of developing cheap, efficient renewables. It also addresses the fact that these well-intentioned subsidies have become a form of crony capitalism, sopped up by big corporations.

Source: NC budget is a fiscally responsible Goldilocks document | News & Observer

Why Republicans are starting to panic, in 1 paragraph – The Washington Post

September 24th, 2015

Summer is over. And Donald Trump is — still — at the top of the 2016 Republican primary field.That makes lots and lots of Republicans with an eye on winning the White House in 2016 (or even 2020) very, very nervous.

That unease — and its origins — are explained brilliantly in this paragraph, taken from a broader piece entitled “The GOP is Killing Itself,” by former Bush administration official Pete Wehner:

The message being sent to voters is this: The Republican Party is led by people who are profoundly uncomfortable with the changing (and inevitable) demographic nature of our nation. The GOP is longing to return to the past and is fearful of the future. It is a party that is characterized by resentments and grievances, by distress and dismay, by the belief that America is irredeemably corrupt and past the point of no return. “The American dream is dead,” in the emphatic words of Mr. Trump.

Source: Why Republicans are starting to panic, in 1 paragraph – The Washington Post

Filmmakers fighting “Happy Birthday” copyright find their “smoking gun” | Ars Technica

September 23rd, 2015

A judge has ruled that Warner/Chappell’s claim of the song “Happy Birthday” is invalid and the song is in the public domain. This has long been a notable case of copyright abuse and it’s thrilling to see it finally corrected.

It’s been two years since filmmakers making a documentary about the song “Happy Birthday” filed a lawsuit claiming that the song shouldn’t be under copyright. Now, they have filed (PDF) what they say is “proverbial smoking-gun evidence” that should cause the judge to rule in their favor.

The “smoking gun” is a 1927 version of the “Happy Birthday” lyrics, predating Warner/Chappell’s 1935 copyright by eight years. That 1927 songbook, along with other versions located through the plaintiffs’ investigations, “conclusively prove that any copyright that may have existed for the song itself… expired decades ago.”

Source: Filmmakers fighting “Happy Birthday” copyright find their “smoking gun” | Ars Technica

Jimmy John’s CEO under fire for alleged hunting photos – Business Insider

September 21st, 2015

I will never eat at Jimmy John’s again.

Jimmy John’s founder and CEO Jimmy John Liautaud is under fire after photos of him allegedly posing with dead elephants, a rhinoceros, and a leopard appeared on the internet. The photographs, allegedly taken during a 2010 safari in Africa, have sparked calls for a boycott of the sandwich chain, Grub Street reports.

Source: Jimmy John’s CEO under fire for alleged hunting photos – Business Insider

The Penguin Tamer moves on

September 18th, 2015

On Monday, I put in my notice at my current job in preparation of starting a new adventure next month. It was a decision I made with much regret as I loved the work, the team, and the company. What I didn’t like was being awakened by my pager on countless nights as some production system or another at work melted down. That, and the several weekends of marathon maintenance work, some keeping me awake all night. I have been hit hard enough lately with the Gulf War Illness fatigue that I couldn’t pile on weeks of guaranteed disrupted sleep. It was affecting my health, it was disturbing my wife’s sleep, too, and taking family time away from me on those work-filled weekends. Unfortunately, no other relief was in sight other than to change jobs.

It wasn’t log into my job search that I realized just how in-demand my skills were. My resume on CareerBuilder attracted 2-3 job opportunities each day. Unfortunately, many of those were generated by lazy recruiters doing keyword searches and consisted of far-flung jobs that often didn’t match my skills or interests. On the bright side, several actual, clueful recruiters did reach out to me with decent opportunities. One of them wrote that this was the hottest IT job market his firm has seen in years, and I believe it. Actual quote:

We are in the strongest market for IT careers that we’ve ever seen and will be sending out lots of emails today.

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Sixteen years and counting

September 11th, 2015

It was sixteen years ago that Kelly and I got married. It’s been a blast! I’m lucky to have met such a smart, confident, funny, and all around amazing woman. Oh, and good looking, too! I’m still hopelessly, goofily in love with her.

What Programmers Want | Michael O. Church

September 11th, 2015

Interesting take on what motivates a software engineer. This is three years old but surprisingly relevant.

Most people who have been assigned the unfortunate task of managing programmers have no idea how to motivate them. They believe that the small perks (such as foosball tables) and bonuses that work in more relaxed settings will compensate for more severe hindrances like distracting work environments, low autonomy, poor tools, unreasonable deadlines, and pointless projects. They’re wrong. However, this is one of the most important things to get right, for two reasons. The first is that programmer output is multiplicative of a number of factors– fit with tools and project, skill and experience, talent, group cohesion, and motivation. Each of these can have a major effect (plus or minus a factor of 2 at least) on impact, and engineer motivation is one that a manager can actually influence. The second is that measuring individual performance among software engineers is very hard. I would say that it’s almost impossible and in practical terms, economically infeasible. Why do I call infeasible rather than merely difficult? That’s because the only people who can reliably measure individual performance in software are so good that it’s almost never worth their time to have them doing that kind of work. If the best engineers have time to spend with their juniors, it’s more worthwhile to have them mentoring the others (which means their interests will align with the employees rather than the company trying to perform such measurement) than measuring them, the latter being a task they will resent having assigned to them.

Source: What Programmers Want | Michael O. Church

Gangs and kids

September 11th, 2015

One morning last week, I was waiting with my kids in the middle school carpool line when I saw a 20-something adult on a bike ride by, dressed head to toe in gang colors. As I casually watched in the rear-view mirror, he started chatting up a teenage middle school student as the young man was walking to school.

I’m not sure what was said there, but I sure hope that the student has a good head on his shoulders and gave no thought to joining a gang. I’d like to find out how I can do more to keep kids from choosing this dead-end path. It got me thinking, anyway.

The Jet fuel; How hot did it heat the World Trade Center?

September 11th, 2015

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) report into collapse of the WTC towers, estimates that about 3,500 gallons of jet fuel burnt within each of the towers. Imagine that this entire quantity of jet fuel was injected into just one floor of the World Trade Center, that the jet fuel burnt with perfect efficency, that no hot gases left this floor, that no heat escaped this floor by conduction and that the steel and concrete had an unlimited amount of time to absorb all the heat. With these ideal assumptions we calculate the maximum temperature that this one floor could have reached.

“The Boeing 767 is capable of carrying up to 23,980 gallons of fuel and it is estimated that, at the time of impact, each aircraft had approximately 10,000 gallons of unused fuel on board (compiled from Government sources).”

Quote from the FEMA report into the collapse of WTC’s One and Two (Chapter Two).

Since the aircraft were only flying from Boston to Los Angeles, they would have been nowhere near fully fueled on takeoff (the aircraft have a maximum range of 7,600 miles). They would have carried just enough fuel for the trip together with some safety factor. Remember, that carrying excess fuel means higher fuel bills and less paying passengers. The aircraft would have also burnt some fuel between Boston and New York.

“If one assumes that approximately 3,000 gallons of fuel were consumed in the initial fireballs, then the remainder either escaped the impact floors in the manners described above or was consumed by the fire on the impact floors. If half flowed away, then 3,500 gallons remained on the impact floors to be consumed in the fires that followed.”

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Renewables critics sound off ::

September 10th, 2015

Fossil-energy advocates are desperately pleading with the NCGA to revoke our state’s clean energy standards called REPS (Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard). Thankfully, they have an uphill battle as large-scale solar projects become a property-tax bonanza for the rural areas where they get built, instantly boosting the property values without requiring any public infrastructure investment.

I used to be worried about attempts like the Koch-backed American Energy Alliance but not anymore. They are this century’s buggy-whip makers, propping up a rapidly-dying industry: coal.

The writing’s on the wall for dirty-energy producers. Clean energy is kicking their ass and it’s only going to get worse for them. Hey Koch brothers, you have no chance of stopping the clean energy revolution, you’d be better off learning how to take advantage of it.

Raleigh, N.C. — Opponents of renewable energy programs held an hour-long roundtable at the Legislative Building on Wednesday about their concerns.The event was sponsored by the American Energy Alliance, the political lobbying arm of the Institute for Energy Policy, a conservative think tank funded by Charles and David Koch. The event moderator was Tom Pyle, president of the AEA and the IEP, and a former Koch Industries lobbyist.

Source: Renewables critics sound off ::