Monthly Archives: August 2009

Major Upgrade for Goddard Climate Simulation Machine

In August, Goddard added 4,128 new-generation Intel “Nehalem” processors to its Discover high-end computing system. The upgraded Discover will serve as the centerpiece of a new climate simulation capability at Goddard. Discover will host NASA’s modeling contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading scientific organization for assessing climate change, and other national and international climate initiatives.

And they’re adding another 4,128 in a couple of months. This will be the first major. Nehalem based climate simulation project. Details here.

Income, IQ, and profession

Research from Bristol:

Doctors and lawyers are more likely to come from wealthy backgrounds according to new research from the Department of Economics that indicates that the ‘social gap’ that prevents poorer people from entering the top professions is becoming more pronounced over time.

Using data on family income and IQ in childhood drawn from the National Child Development Survey (NCDS), which tracks a representative sample of the population born in 1958, and the British Cohort Study (BCS), which follows people born in 1970, the research shows that professions such as law and medicine attract better-off people, compared with other professions such as teaching and nursing, although differences in IQ test scores for the former decreased over time.

On the other hand, those who became engineers and nurses – two professions with the lowest average family incomes across the groups and the lowest IQ scores for those born in 1958 – appear to buck this trend with the average IQ scores for both professions increasing over time.

Press release continues here.

Bachmann’s Town Hall

I did not go to the Michele Bachmann “town hall” meeting yesterday because of a schedule conflict (I was out of town) but there is some news. Check out the last few posts on Dump Michele Bachmann blog. There is evidence, apparently, that Bachmann supporters were bussed in to pack the room. I’ve heard from two other private sources, one from inside and one from outside, that there were mostly supporters inside and mostly anti-Bachmann people outside.

I expect there to be a couple of good blog posts out about this in the next day or so, and I’ll point to them if I find out about them. Add any to the comments below, please.

I also expect that most of the people inside the hall were Dittohead Lockstep Republicans and most of the people outside the hall were Discordant Democrats.

Tiniest Photograph Ever Explained

I posted a photo of a itty bitty molecule that is making the news these days … the photo, not the molecule … but I didn’t have much to say about it except that it was cool. Ethan Siegel has picked up the thread and explains what it is we are looking at.

I myself have used the little needle thingie in research, but the tip of the one I used was more like an actual needle made of a zillion metal molecules so we could only image things like primate teeth or cut marks on bones. This one is a little different…

The Health Care (Insurance) Gap

First, let’s get this one thing straight, because a lot of the astroturfers and even reporters and politicians are not getting it. Health care is when you get sick and the medical profession fixes you up, or some version of that. How good our health care system is becomes a matter of how good the medicine is. We in the United States and in Europe, Canada, etc. have pretty good medicine, though there are impediments to quality medicine built into our political and social systems..

Heath care INSURANCE is the system for paying for the medicine. The current discussion in the US is about health care INSURANCE reform. The United States might (or might not) have the best freakin’ health care system (the medicine) in the freakin’ world, but it has one of the suckiest health care INUSRANCE systems in the world. And that is what we are trying to fix.

There are two major kinds of cracks in the health care INSURANCE system. One is the uncovered or uncoverable (because of economics or because the insurance companies just don’t want to). The other crack, and the one that about half the middle class falls into, and the one that should have galvanized the politically powerful in this country, is this one:

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Lockstep Republicans = Stoopid

I made the point in an earlier post (Discordant Democrats vs. Republican Dittoheads) that Republicans work in lock step and simply do whatever they are told. I’m not talking (necessarily) about the average Joe the Plumber Republican. I’m talking about elected officials with law degrees. The average United States Senator or Representative who happens to be a Republican needs not think, read, or consider. All he or she needs to do is listen to the orders and follow them. Thining on one’s own is simply not done.

Does that sound like a typical Greg Laden over the top bit of hyperbole? It does? Ha! This time it is not!
Continue reading Lockstep Republicans = Stoopid

Should stim-bucks be linked to school test scores?

DURHAM, N.C. — Two Duke University education experts have serious concerns about the Obama administration’s proposal to link teacher evaluations to student tests scores as a criterion for how much federal stimulus money states will receive for K-12 education.

Friday (Aug. 28) is the deadline to submit public comments on the proposal that will disperse more than $4 billion in grants. The U.S. Department of Education has said it will issue its final rules sometime after the deadline.

Helen F. Ladd, the Edgar Thompson Professor of Public Policy at Duke, says that while student test scores play a role in the overall effort to improve schools, the proposed regulations “give them a pride of place that will lead to little good and is likely to do much harm.”

“The main problem with the heavy focus of the proposed test-based approach is that it ratchets up the pernicious narrow test-based approach to education represented by No Child Left Behind,” Ladd says in comments she has submitted on the proposal.

“The approach is narrow in part because the requirement that all students be tested every year means that students can be tested in only a limited number of subjects. The result is a heavy emphasis on the basic skills of math and reading, to the detriment of other skills and orientations that young people need to become effective participants in the global society.

“Further, the emphasis on test results for individual teachers will exacerbate the well-documented incentives for teachers to focus on narrow test-taking skills and drilling. It is time to move beyond this misplaced emphasis on test scores in a few subjects to return to the broader goals of education that have been such an important part of our history.”

Rest of the story is here

Eudy Simelane Murder Trial Resumes in South Africa

Eudy Simelane was a brilliant soccer star, captain of South Africa’s national women’s team.

She was also an out lesbian and an activist for LGBT rights.

In April 2008, a group of men attacked her with a sickening brutality. She was gang-raped, beaten, and stabbed more than 25 times. The assault was so vicious that police even found stab wounds on the bottom of her feet.

South African authorities believe that the hate crime was a case of “corrective rape,” a crime that is horrifyingly common in South Africa. Even in major cities, lesbians live in fear of being targeted for rape.

Women who have been attacked then have a second nightmare to live through, as South African police are often unwilling to pursue rape investigations, particularly when the victims are lesbians. South Africa has one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world, and the numbers seem to be rising.

The term “corrective rape” comes from the idea that men are gang-raping women to “cure” them of their lesbianism.

LGBT and women’s rights groups point out that the attacks are really an attempt to stop women from behaving in a way that seems threatening to the male-dominated status quo, such as excelling in sports or dressing in a way that seems masculine.

One man pleaded guilty to his part in Simelane’s rape and murder.

Three more pleaded not guilty. Their trial was delayed last month when a witness for the prosecution backed out, but finally began again today.

The fact that a trial is happening at all is a step forward for South Africa’s LGBT community, but there is a long way to go.

Even more