Daily Archives: March 13, 2009

Governors Gone Wild

I live in a state where the governer, in order to maintain his moral and ethical high ground, must refuse any stimulus package money whatsoever.

I also live in a state that just accepted piles of stimulus money to start up a number of shovel-ready projects. If my calculations are correct, this money will tranlate into about 3,000 over the next six months to a year. (Very very rough guess.)

Mark Sanford is the Republican governor of South Carolina. That governor almost got away with misusing the stimulus funds. But ….

Minnesota Recount

Today, the last witness for the Franken campaign made it through the weather and testified. Franken’s side rested! The special side case of the Nauen petition “count my votes” appeared to finish. However finishing does still seem to be a problem, because apparently the rebuttals and cross-examinations of rebuttals can go on a long time. Arguments on provisionally accepted evidence are still waiting to be heard. So if we are lucky, we will have a one hour close by each side tomorrow after remaining business gets finished — that is if remaining business is finished.


And don’t forget to check out the Norm Coleman Weasel Meter.

This just in …. Creationism in Texas

I just got this brief from Robert Luhn of the NCSE

Representative Leo Berman (Republican, District 6, Smith County) has just introduced HB 2800, which would exempt “certain private nonprofit educational institutions” from the rules other degree-granting schools must follow in Texas.

The aim, apparently, is to help the Institute for Creation Research’s graduate school, which was denied state certification (a precursor to accreditation) when it moved to Texas. The ICR is a “Young Earth Creationist” organization that believes the Earth is 10,000 years old, Noah’s flood really happened, Adam and Eve were real people, etc. The ICR has been pushing the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to certify the ICR’s school, which wants to offer masters degrees in science education. HB 2800 would make that easier, since an institution could request exemption in writing, which the board education could grant by simply issuing a letter.

As the Texas Citizens for Science has noted, certifying ICR to award masters degrees in science education “would be a mockery of science and an injustice to students who work hard in legitimate academic institutions to earn real Masters degrees in science education.”

From intelligent design to “academic freedom” laws to…this. A new approach to smuggling creationism into the classroom.

Text of the bill

Background on Texas legislation and related issues:

“Legislative salvation for the ICR?”

“ICR seeks to grant degrees in Texas”

“Scientists oppose ICR certification in Texas”

“Decision on ICR’s graduate school deferred”

“A Setback for the ICR in Texas”

This is interesting …

Rachel Maddow on the Thwarted Dirty Bomb Attack that didn’t happen. And the one that did. (As an extension of the Palin/McCain incitement of violence.)

I hope she gets off.

Open Source and Open Access is Simply Better

… Not politically better, not feel good better, not any of that. Well, yes, that too. But for all areas where Open Source is developed, it it simply better technologically. Anybody telling you different is selling you a bill of goods.

I tried to say something of this sort here, on Bill Hooker’s blog post “On science and selfishness,” but his #%$@$#$ (presumably OpenSource) blog software would not accept my comment!!!! (Hey Bill, get that fixed, man, you’re ruining it for everybody!!!). So, instead of saying it there, I’ll say it here. This is my comment:



I deeply disagree with an underlying assumption made in this blog post. That assumption is that it is NOT the case that OpenSource software and OpenAccess publication are technically, systemically, and procedurally superior to closed source equivalents. That is simply untrue.

For the most part, developed OpenSource software is technologically superior to closed source alternatives. More secure, less buggy, faster and more efficient, stable features that don’t change to suit marketing strategies, support that does not rely on Orwellian tactics and so on. In the mathematical sciences, OpenSource software is the ONLY valid way to carry out studies that you expect to be taken seriously (though most math people don’t get this, astonishingly) The OpenAccess publishing sources are simply a zillion times easier to use for the end user. How is that not better?

Otherwise I agree with everything you said.


Computer Security, A Bug in Google Docs(?), and Norm Coleman Is a Ghoulish Skeletal Idiot

…. Not to pick on Norm’s physical appearance or anything, but those of use who find his continued existence in Minnesota politics both enigmatic and unconscionable (for us, for allowing it) are starting to see him like that. Anyway, somebody who is too busy to blog sent me this interesting item: Wikileaks comes back at Coleman on donor database exposure. The long and the short of it: Norm Coleman’s campaign donor database, including such interesting items as name and credit card number, became internet-visible a couple of months back. Since that time, this error was exposed, and Norm Coleman decided to blame the Franken campaing and/or other forces of supposed evil for causing the mistake, or exploiting the causing of the release, or whatever. Additionally, the Coleman campaign has pretty clearly violated the law (which is not surprising given Coleman’s alleged long history of being a self absorbed misogynous racist renegade bastard, allegedly) by not reporting the release as required. By law.

The bug in google docs ….
I’m not sure if I can reproduce this or not, but … If you use the Google Docs spelling tool (which I’ve used only this one time) and leave a bunch of words misspelled (because they really aren’t misspelled, perhaps) then turn off the tool, then copy and paste the text into, say, a web-form box somewhere, then the spaces that existed before the word (as the text flows) may disappear.

We had a computer security seminar yesterday at which our unit-local IT boss discussed security issues with various unit heads, staff, and so on. He’s a great guy and really know his stuff, even if he does think Windows is OK. (Or maybe it’s just the chip making him think that, I dunno.) Anyway, the idea that nefarious operatives with radios could listen in on your wife, or even your wireless keyboard, was brought up and discussed. That may seem a little extreme to worry about (but it is not, actually) however it turns out that it is WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT!!!

That PC keyboard you’re using may be giving away your passwords. Researchers say they’ve discovered new ways to read what you’re typing by aiming special wireless or laser equipment at the keyboard or by simply plugging into a nearby electrical socket.

And no, we are not talking about wireless keyboards here. Details here.