Wednesday, September 28, 2016

It's not getting better

At a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide is usually at its minimum, the monthly value failed to drop below 400 parts per million. 

 From Climate Central

Priests for rent

Religion is no longer big in Japan.  70% of people don’t identity with a particular religion or consider themselves atheists. However, when it comes to major life events, such as funerals, they do want the services of a priest. Obtaining the services of a priest from the local temple can be expensive; a funeral service can cost as much as $10,000. So, a company established a priest-renting business; the company offered the services of 400 priests on its website. And business was good, in one year they did 12,000 services. Guess what happened next? Amazon Japan now offers Minrevi's service on its website.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Drought in Massachusetts

What are your thoughts about the 'debate'?

The question I have is whether Trump picked up any voters. I doubt he lost any, as he continued to speak and act as usual. Hillary did surprisingly well.

Why doesn't she ask Trump to release his tax return for the year before that for which he is being audited?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Forest Service or Fire Service?

What can he not do?

Projections of Debt based on proposals of Clinton and Trump

Source: Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Be wary of surveys

Most surveys of national elections are based on telephone calls. In 1936 the major national survey by the Literary Digest predicted that Alf Landon would handily defeat Franklin Roosevelt. It was quite wrong. Why? Because it was a survey of people who had telephones and eliminated most of the lower class that did not have phones. A friend of mine wonders if a similar condition exists today in the day of the cell phone. Many, many people have only cell phones, for which there is no central directory. So, in 1936 the survey was flawed because of the lack of phones. But, in 2016 will it be flawed because of too many phones?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ig Nobel Prizes for 2016

The full list of winners announced at Harvard's Sanders Theatre:
Reproduction Prize - The late Ahmed Shafik, for testing the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats.
Economics Prize - Mark Avis and colleagues, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective.
Physics Prize - Gabor Horvath and colleagues, for discovering why white-haired horses are the most horsefly-proof horses, and for discovering why dragonflies are fatally attracted to black tombstones.
Chemistry Prize - Volkswagen, for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested.
Medicine Prize - Christoph Helmchen and colleagues, for discovering that if you have an itch on the left side of your body, you can relieve it by looking into a mirror and scratching the right side of your body (and vice versa).
Psychology Prize - Evelyne Debey and colleagues, for asking a thousand liars how often they lie, and for deciding whether to believe those answers.
Peace Prize - Gordon Pennycook and colleagues, for their scholarly study called "On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit".
Biology Prize - Awarded jointly to: Charles Foster, for living in the wild as, at different times, a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, and a bird; and to Thomas Thwaites, for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of, and spend time roaming hills in the company of, goats.
Literature Prize - Fredrik Sjoberg, for his three-volume autobiographical work about the pleasures of collecting flies that are dead, and flies that are not yet dead.
Perception Prize - Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.

Courtesy of the BBC

College accreditation

There are a number of organizations whose business is ensuring that colleges are toeing the mark. One of the larger of these firms is Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, or ACICS. ACICS accredits over 200 colleges, which enroll an estimated 600,000 students. Schools accredited by ACICS received around $5 billion in federal student aid last year. 

It hasn't done a good job. The schools accredited by the agency on average have the lowest graduation rates in the country and their students have the lowest loan repayment rates. Perhaps, that's because two-thirds of ACICS commissioners — who make the ultimate decisions about accreditation for schools — were executives at for-profit colleges. Many of the commissioners worked at colleges that were under investigation. The Department of Education is finally removing ACICS from the list of those who can 'approve' colleges.

Would you like to be a goat?

Tom Thwaites, an Englishman, has lived as a goat for three days. He did it to escape the pressures of modern living. He did not do it overnight; he spent a year researching the idea. He even had a set of goat legs built for him. During the three days he developed a strong bond with one animal in particular.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

They kill a lot of animals.

'They' are Wildlife Services, part of the Department of Agriculture. The Services killed 3,200,000 animals last year in an attempt to control predators so that “people and wildlife can coexist.” It so happens that the predators to be killed are specified by farmers and ranchers.

Richard Conniff wonders why all of these 'predators' need to be killed since they can be thwarted by other means. He sought answers from Wildlife Services but was unsuccessful in getting any information as Services issues information only once annually. That information lists the number killed of each type of animal and the method of killing. This from an agency that costs is over $127,000,000 a year. 

The mayor didn't like the pie

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Full Integration

This year West Point appointed its first female commandant of cadets. Continuing the move to fully integrate women, the academy has now made boxing mandatory for all incoming students, male and female. The sport, academy officials say, teaches leadership by testing how cadets react while they are under attack. It is possible that men and women will be matched up against each other.

Boxing at West Point has been criticized particularly for women as several medical studies suggest that young women are significantly more likely to sustain concussions than men. Statistics released by West Point show that cadets have suffered 185 concussions in boxing class over the past five full school years, accounting for slightly more than half of all 355 concussions recorded in physical-education classes in that time frame.

Monday's so-called Presidential debates

When the League of Woman Voters ran them, the debates had substance. But that was almost twenty years ago. Now, they are run by the tv stations and the campaigns. When the League stopped, they predicted, “It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

Somewhat surprisingly John Anderson of ABC News has created a petition to make the debates follow the Oxford rules — to formally argue resolutions like “Resolved: The United States Should Withdraw from NATO,” in which the candidates would make brief opening and closing statements and in the time remaining question one another about the issue at hand, under strict time guidelines. You should sign the petition here.

Staying single

Japan's population is shrinking; the fertility rate is a mere 1.4, ours is 1.8 and in Nigeria it's 6.9. Yet, many young people don't seem interested in starting a family. A survey of Japanese people aged 18 to 34 found that almost 70 percent of unmarried men and 60 percent of unmarried women are not in a relationship. Furthermore, 42 percent of the men and 44.2 percent of the women admitted they were virgins and many were not even looking for a relationship.