Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category


Sunday, October 19th, 2014

A Facebook friend (one who does not share my political outlook) forwarded a photo that illustrated the value of spanking. It showed a kid getting beat, with the caption “with more of this, there would be less of this,” showing a trio of young men dressed as gang members. I shook my head.

It reminded me of a spectacle I came across as I was on my way to the Player’s Retreat Saturday afternoon. As I was pulling into the parking lot, a father was loading his kids into his car. The father was shouting at his misbehaving kids to get in the car. His young son, probably four years old at the most, was defiantly yelling back at his dad, echoing his very same tone. As I rolled by, I saw the father’s hand smack the boy’s rear hard before the father loaded his son into the car. I thought the show was over but when I got out of my car I was appalled to hear the father screaming at the top of his voice “that is enough!” He was so loud I heard him across the parking lot even with his windows rolled up. He then drove off and I just shook my head. If his kids weren’t terrified before, they were now.

AP News : Dallas health worker tests positive for Ebola

Monday, October 13th, 2014

The head of the CDC insists the nurse who became infected with Ebola Saturday made a “breach of protocol,” though the nurse is said to be at a loss to identify what the breach might have been.

In 2012, Canadian researchers produced evidence (published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature) that suggests Ebola can be spread through the air. Some websites claimed the government of Canada’s Public Health Agency recently watered-down the description of this research on its website. The Internet Archive’s Wayback machine appears to confirm reports of alteration. Compare the snapshot from August 7th:

In the laboratory, infection through small-particle aerosols has been demonstrated in primates, and airborne spread among humans is strongly suspected, although it has not yet been conclusively demonstrated

Ebola airborne transmission is strongly suspected

… with the one on September 16th:

In laboratory settings, non-human primates exposed to aerosolized ebolavirus from pigs have become infected, however, airborne transmission has not been demonstrated between non-human primates

Ebola airborne transmission is not demonstrated.

What if what some of the experts are saying is true, that Ebola may have become airborne? Why would the Canada Public Health Agency change the website description of peer-reviewed research? What if we are only slightly less unprepared for Ebola than these African countries? Are we being told the truth about Ebola?

DALLAS AP – A “breach of protocol” at the hospital where Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan was treated before his death led to the infection of a health care worker with the deadly virus, and other caregivers could potentially be exposed, federal health officials said Sunday.

The hospital worker, a woman who was not identified by officials, wore protective gear while treating the Liberian patient, and she has been unable to point to how the breach might have occurred, said Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Duncan was the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with Ebola.

via AP News : Dallas health worker tests positive for Ebola.

The skeptic black hole

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

When Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke at N.C. State last month, he gave his usual riff on science literacy:

For me, science literacy is “what is your capacity to ask questions?”

Questions, they’re kind of an inoculation against people telling you stuff and having you believe whatever they say. That’s not science literacy.

When someone says “I have these crystals and if you rub them together you’ll be healed” and you say “oh yeah, great, gimmie!”

Ok? No, that’s not science literacy. But you know what else isn’t science literacy? Saying “that’s bunk, get it out of here.”

Each of those requires no thought, the rejection or the acceptance.

I thought of Tyson’s words today when I tangled online with some hard-core skeptics. The anger and derision shown by some skeptics reveals a surprising lack of balance. Many tend to shout down others who don’t share their opinion.

This is what drives me nuts about skeptics. It’s what Tyson has called “lazy brain,” dismissing something out of hand before one knows the facts. It is wrong for a believer to assume something without evidence, yet is equally wrong for a skeptic to assume something without evidence. Both require no critical thought. Both predispose a result. Both are blinded by their own bias.

True scientists follow the evidence wherever it leads them. True scientists accept experimental results if those experiments can be shown to be solid and reproducible. True scientists maintain open minds. “Prove it to me” is the mantra of a true scientist.

It seems to me that no matter what the issue, the louder one shouts is inversely proportional to the truth of one’s statements. If you maintain that you know all the answers, you don’t. That’s not called science, that’s called zealotry.

Security theater

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

In the early morning of April 20th, a 15-year-old kid named Yahya Abdi causally hopped a fence at San Jose International Airport and later climbed into the wheel well of a Boeing 767 bound for Hawaii. Miraculously, he survived the five hour trip at altitudes of subfreezing temperatures and thin air. Usually this doesn’t happen.

The press seems to have moved on but I can’t help thinking of the implications this incident has on air safety. This kid only wanted to see his mom in Somalia, but what if he had more sinister plans? What if the kid had left a backpack of explosives in the wheel well?

All the baggage screening, pat downs, and porno scanners are powerless against a kid leaping over the airport fence. Think about that.

Plane truths

Friday, April 18th, 2014
The Manhattan skyline appears in the windshield of a Vamoose bus.

The Manhattan skyline appears in the windshield of a Vamoose bus.

Last week I was booking a flight for my upcoming business trip to California when I discovered to my surprise that Southwest Airlines, long my airline of choice, offered fares twice as expensive as the lowest airfare. My company’s travel booking system actually wouldn’t let me book a Southwest flight because it was too expensive. I never thought I would ever get in trouble with my boss for booking Southwest, but it’s reached that point.

We’re on the road today to New York City by way of bus from DC. The bus is less than a year old, it’s quiet, clean, comfortable, and there are AC power outlets under each seat. Free WiFi, too, and we can make mobile calls anytime we want. I didn’t know what to expect when we began talking about a bus trip but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

Putting these two ideas together, I mused to Kelly how perhaps these bus lines owe at least part of their renewed success to Southwest’s decision not to be the “bus of the skies” any more. Or perhaps travelers have simply gotten fed up with the unbelieveable hassle of air travel and have sought out more civilized means of travel.

Yes, I’d never thought I’d say it but traveling by bus may be more prefreable than travel by air. Are the high-flying days of air travel over?

Snapping up talent

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

I just heard that a certain open-source software company based in downtown Raleigh sometimes takes six months from when it gets a job applicant to actually hire that applicant. That’s crazy. How can a company think that a top job applicant has that kind of time to spend for a potential employer to get their act together? What makes a company think that an applicant is still going to be around six months later?

I spent three months between losing my job and getting a job offer and you know what? It sucked. It was three months of suck. When someone wants to make a move, they often don’t have the luxury of spending half a year for a potential employer to get going. I appreciate being thorough and making sure things are a good fit, of course, but six months is an insult to any job applicant.

I contrast this with my most recent job search, where the HR “talent acquisition team” always responded promptly to my questions and treated me as if I was important to them. That’s the way it should be done. Any company that doesn’t make a priority of hiring good people will soon find itself in trouble.

Nothing spotted by planes searching remote patch of Indian Ocean for missing Malaysian jet | CTV News

Friday, March 21st, 2014

The continuing search for signs of Malaysian flight MH370 remind us of two things: it’s a big ocean out there and there is plenty of debris in that ocean.

Search planes scoured a remote patch of the Indian Ocean but came back empty-handed Friday after a 10-hour mission looking for any sign of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, another disappointing day in one of the world’s biggest aviation mysteries.

Australian officials pledged to continue the search for two large objects spotted by a satellite earlier this week, which had raised hopes that the two-week hunt for the Boeing 777 that disappeared March 8 with 239 people on board was nearing a breakthrough.

But Australia’s acting prime minister, Warren Truss, tamped down expectations.

“Something that was floating on the sea that long ago may no longer be floating — it may have slipped to the bottom,” he said. “It’s also certain that any debris or other material would have moved a significant distance over that time, potentially hundreds of kilometres.”

via Nothing spotted by planes searching remote patch of Indian Ocean for missing Malaysian jet | CTV News.

McCrory thinks taxes stifle startups

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Gov. McCrory just came back from Silicon Valley with supposed tips about how to foster startups.

Says the Governor:

“Our tax code is not conducive to the first-round investors for venture capital, for high-risk, first-round investors,” he says. “If they make an investment, they often move (the startup) to a no-tax state, with the profits. That means we lose that money and we lose that sweat equity. We want that money to be reinvested in North Carolina.”

Oh really? Venture capitalists are seriously going to uproot the founders of their investments and risk losing them just so they can save a few bucks on their taxes? I have been deeply involved in startups for over 20 years and I have never heard of this happening to a North Carolina startup.

Russia and Putin

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

I sure wish America could wag its finger at Russia’s Vladimir Putin and shame him into withdrawing his forces from Crimea (and, perhaps, Ukraine). Sadly, America has squandered any moral authority it once had regarding invading countries on the flimsiest of pretexts thanks to our misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus we are now faced with the biggest foreign affairs crisis in decades with few options.

The European Union is addicted to Russian fossil fuels and will stop short of angering Russia for fear of having these fuel supplies cut. That doesn’t leave the West with many diplomatic tools.

The only way to get Russia’s attention is through the pocketbook. Perhaps Putin’s own pocketbook would be a good place to start. I’ve long suspected the new Russia is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the Russian mafia. I believe Putin is thoroughly corrupt and has long been helping himself to Russian riches. I remember watching an Al Jazeera documentary that hinted at the massive wealth Putin has been quietly amassing during his presidency.
His wealth has been rumored to be in the tens of billions, with some claiming that he may be the world’s richest man. Putin’s massive new Black Sea residence, dubbed “Putin’s Palace,” belies the image Putin has cultivated of being a man of the people.

The world needs to treat Putin as the gangster he is, and target the sources (and locations) of his wealth. Perhaps there is still time to rescue the Russian people from having their country subjugated by mobsters like Putin.

Air Force nuke crew failings are worse than reported | The Salt Lake Tribune

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Knowing what I know about nuclear mishaps from reading Eric Schlosser’s book Command and Control, I find the lack of integrity of those entrusted with our nation’s nuclear force absolutely terrifying.

The Air Force initially called the overall March inspection outcome at Minot a "success," reflecting the fact that the 91st Missile Wing as a whole was rated "satisfactory." But after The Associated Press learned in May about the "marginal" performance in the missile operations sector of the inspection, the service disclosed that 19 officers had been forced to surrender their launch authority in April because of performance and attitude problems. That was an unprecedented mass sidelining of launch control officers, reflecting what the 91st’s deputy operations commander at the time, Lt. Col. Jay Folds, called "rot" in the force.

Until now, however, it was not publicly known that of 11 crews tested on a launch simulator for the inspection, three were rated Q3, or "unqualified," which the Air Force defines as demonstrating "an unacceptable level of safety, performance or knowledge." Five of the 11 earned a top rating and three got a second-tier rating.

via Air Force nuke crew failings are worse than reported | The Salt Lake Tribune.