Friday, October 02, 2015

An appropriate cover page

We're in 4th place

A towering ship

That tower pictured above is, in fact, a ship. It is a new destroyer called the Zumwalt. Work began on it in 1994 and it is expected to be ready by 2018. Total anticipated cost is $22 billion, which is 50 percent higher than projected a decade ago and it does not count another $9.1 billion spent in research and development on the overall project.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Journalists can be considered "unprivileged belligerents"

That's what the Department of Defense says in its "Law of War Manual". Thus, those reporting on the military in any capacity are open to be treated the same as spies - or even terrorists.

Some excerpts from the manual:
...journalists can be captured and held by the military for "engaging in hostilities," "spying" or "sabotage and similar acts behind enemy lines."
"Reporting on military operations can be very similar to collecting intelligence or even spying. A journalist who acts as a spy may be subject to security measures and punished if captured. To avoid being mistaken for spies, journalists should act openly and with the permission of relevant authorities." 
...journalists should "act openly and with the permission of relevant authorities."
Interestingly, most of the people the US military has imprisoned in Guantánamo, along with some held in Afghanistan, have been labeled "unprivileged belligerents." 

Enduring a traffic jam in England

The leaders of the world meet

from the NY Times

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Stay off the roads in India

Every four minutes someone in India is killed in a road accident. Peddakunta, a very small village, has seen its male population vanish because of accidents when they try to cross the road. In the village of 35 huts and families, there is only one male adult. Thirty seven others have died, and three have left the village for good. The problem is that it is necessary for villagers to walk across the four lanes of the highway bypass if they are to collect their monthly pensions or take up employment in nearby villages.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Slave wages?

You might have a strong argument when it comes to adjuncts, i.e., those who teach at all levels within the higher-education system, from remedial writing classes to graduate seminars. But they do not have tenure. In fact, according to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), roughly three in four college professors are adjuncts. Adjuncts do everything tenured professors do, but get paid very little.

One study found that a quarter of all adjuncts receive public assistance, such as Medicaid or food stamps. Another reported last year that many adjuncts earn less than the federal minimum wage. Furthermore, unless they work 30 hours or more at a single college, they’re not eligible for health insurance from that employer, and similar to other part-time employees, they do not qualify for other benefits.

Scientific Thought

A good way to start the day

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Crickets for dinner

The UN says that 20 percent of the world’s consumers eat insects. Very few live in the West. But there are people here who hope that will change and crickets will be as popular as kale

Currently, in the U.S. there are four large producers of crickets. The largest one is Big Cricket Farms. Here's a quote from the CEO of the company,
“At any one time there are about 6 million crickets in the facility. My demand has been so robust that over the summer I finished getting a secondary facility up and running. That one probably carries between 4 to 8 million crickets at any given time. The crickets are sold four weeks before they’re finished being raised … so we’ve had to be selective at times about who ends up with our crickets. I’ve raised my prices maybe six times so far.”
Do you believe him?

Getting a job

I grew up in Cambridge, Mass. There were two public high schools, Cambridge High and Latin and Rindge Technical. Latin was for those who intended to go to college, Rindge for those who didn't. Many of my friends went to Rindge and 62 years later there was not much difference in their work life from that of Latin graduates. Some of each group did well, others did okay. 

When I was in business, I paid little attention as to whether an applicant had gone to college. I wanted to hire good programmers and my experience told me that a college education was not necessary for that.

In college I felt that about half of the students should not have been admitted as they were really not college material as I understood the term.

You can imagine how pleased I was to read of Randolph Technical High School in Philadelphia. It is one of the city’s Career and Technical Education High Schools, where all students participate in vocational programs. The students take regular classes such as math and English, but they also choose a speciality where they can earn college credit or a professional certification in areas such as dentistry, carpentry, automotive repair, vending, or health care.

When they graduate, the kids can go on to college (usually a community college) or get a well-paying job. Interestingly, these kids are more likely to graduate from high school than the typical Philadelphia student. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Can't say I understand it

Hubble photos of the Veil Nebula

The cloud of material 110 light-years wide that lies about 2,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan).
The structure formed about 8,000 years ago, after a star 20 times more massive than the sun died in a supernova explosion

A challenge to us

The Pope's conclusion of his speech to Congress:
A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

Refugee Reality