Tag Archives: Uncategorized

Kids coding and technology advance

Over recent months, there has been an important advance in opportunities for kids to learn to code and mess around with technology.

The Scratch programming language is a project set at MIT. Scratch programming involves moving images, called blocks, from a pallet into a work area, hooking them together and maybe changing some values attached to them, in order to develop programs that mainly, but not exclusively, manipulate sprites. (See example of code blokcks above.) The project is located HERE. This is a full object oriented programming language with quite a few features that make it very powerful, for a kid’s toy. Continue reading Kids coding and technology advance

Better Holiday Fireplace Loops

In the old days (two years ago) there was a channel available on the Roku that would display a burning fire and play appropriate holiday music. So, people without a fireplace but who wanted one could pretend. I think there were channels like this on Cable or Satellite TV as well but I’ve not had those services in decades so I’m not sure.

The channel on the Roku was called Presto. Presto had an ad or two that would run when the program started up, then very rarely, another ad would show up. A small price to pay for all that masonry and firewood. Continue reading Better Holiday Fireplace Loops

Why Neil deGrasse Tyson is Wrong about the Supermoon

I don’t know much about astronomy, but I am a scientist and I know this. One key scientific concept that is rarely grasped by non scientists but at the same time drives much of science itself is variation.

Indeed, the understanding that variation is key is one of the characteristics that separates the ancients, who may have engaged in what looks like science but rarely advanced true understanding, and the moderns (to oversimplify greatly, ironically).

The moon and other celestial bodies always do the same thing, never change in their course or appearance, and once one has finished cataloguing them, there is nothing else to see.

Or is there? Isn’t there in fact change all the time? Isn’t change itself the essence of the universe? Is it not true that a star is a dynamic thing that has a birth, stages of life, a death, and from its remnants come other things? Isn’t this how astronomers like Neil DeGrasse Tyson are able to utter such brilliances as “I am made of star dust”??? Don’t planets form, collide with things or things with them, cool, change dramatically across the surface, even break lose form their orbits now and then? Continue reading Why Neil deGrasse Tyson is Wrong about the Supermoon

Editors and Producers: How to catch Robert Mueller in the Act

Mueller knows that once the excrement hits the fan, Don the Con Trump is going to go ballistic and act do predictably unpredictable things. He may issue pardons, he may try to send his SS agents, or the Army, to bust people, he’ll certainly try to fire Mueller and his staff. Most of that is either impossible or can be stopped, and none of it makes sense. But anyone who thinks that those facts will stop Don the Con from getting cute is as dumb as a moldy brick. Continue reading Editors and Producers: How to catch Robert Mueller in the Act

Minnesota Vikings: The Chance of Victory and the Psychology of Defeat

I had been living in Minnesota for just about a year when the Vikings played the Falcons in the playoffs that one time.

I was living, as it happens, in the city of Falcon Heights. You know about Falcon Heights, very likely, even if you don’t know you do. Ever heard of the Great Minnesota Get Together, a.k.a., the Minnesota State Fair? It is held in Falcon Heights. Ever hear of the University of Minnesota? The smaller of the two Twin Cities campuses, the one with the ecology and organismic biology, and agriculture and forestry and stuff, is in Falcon Heights. Ever hear of the police killing of Philandro Castile, the one where the cop was ascared of the scary black man so he pumped him full of bullets in front of his girlfriend and a small child? That was in Falcon Heights too.

But Falcon Heights is obscured and obscure. Continue reading Minnesota Vikings: The Chance of Victory and the Psychology of Defeat

The Official 2017 Cool Tech Gift Guide

Not to be confused with the Official 2017 Maker Tech Gift Guide!

I’ve mixed a wide range of techno-stuff in this guide, so there is stuff that flies, stuff that cooks, and stuff that makes noise. This is your prompt. It is up to you to match and expand on the ideas and integrate them with target gift recipients you know and love. Or, you can always put items on your personal wish list and see what happens!

Without further ado: Continue reading The Official 2017 Cool Tech Gift Guide

Flynn will testify that Trump directed him to contact Russians

When I suggested several months ago that a document produced by a source that I knew independently to be good strongly suggested that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to alter the outcome of an American election, Scienceblogs shut me down, unposted the post, and made it impossible for me to access my account. I complained and they backed off, and I think the individual who did it was literally on drugs at the time, but still, it was the only time anything like that ever happened at Scienceblogs. And it was about Trump being guilty of collusion with Russia. I have not mentioned that before because I believed the individual who carried out this act was vindictive and I didn’t know if there was a link to the Republicans or some other entity, so I kept my mouth shut about it until the very last day that there could be any retribution. Scienceblogs stopped the redirect from the old site to my new blog yesterday.

And, almost to the day, the suggestion that Trump colluded with the Russians is again supported indirectly by things we suddenly know. Continue reading Flynn will testify that Trump directed him to contact Russians

Flynn Lied to the FBI; Here is the charging document

If you lie to a US Federal agent, they can bust you, and my understanding is that judges like to sentence those convicted of this by juries to jail for long periods of time. But, if you are charged with this crime and plea guilty, so there is no jury trial, then there is room to negotiate.

“If I did a tenth of what she did, I’d be in jail today.”
LOL
Note that FBI agents know how to make sure prosecution will get a conviction. They write everything down carefully, have witnesses, etc. So, if they ask you a question and you lie, you are now in the process. It is just a matter of time until you are signing a plea agreement.

Michael Flynn, perhaps owing to hubris, perhaps owing to fear, perhaps owing to sub-average intelligence, perhaps to a combination, managed to lie, apparently multiple times, to FBI agents.

Unlike most of the other characters in the Trump-Russia scandal, Flynn has been more involved in Turkish shenanigans than Russian, but the charges going down today do relate to Russia.

He is charged with lying about his interactions with the Russian ambassador to the US about sanctions, and about a pending UN Security Council resolution related to Russia.

Here is the charging document: Continue reading Flynn Lied to the FBI; Here is the charging document

Give The Gift of Nostalgia and Angst

For a holiday gift this year, consider giving a book about politics, since politics this year is so very special.

There are two kinds of books out this year of special interest. There is a plethora of books that expose the evil underpinnings of the white supremacist meritocratic oligarchic patriarchy. And, there is a growing collection of books about the last time America was going under for the third time, and the people of those times. Here is a selection for you to ponder. Continue reading Give The Gift of Nostalgia and Angst

Vonegut, Salmon, Genetics, Magic: Cheap Books

For just a day or two, you should be able to get each of these books in Kindle for for two or three books:

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonegut.

The Color of Magic: A Novel of Discworld by Terry Prachett

A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution by Jennifer Doudna and Sam Sternberg.

Upstream: Searching for Wild Salmon, from River to Table by Langdon Cook.

Almost Like Praying: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Maria

The phrase “It is almost like praying” is from the song Maria, from the musical West Side Story. The phrase refers to the name itself, if I understand the somg correctly, which makes sense from a Catholic point of view because the name Maria and variants of it thoroughly indurate the prayer-text.
Continue reading Almost Like Praying: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Maria