Dewey beat Truman again

thanks to wikipedia Everyone who has ever had anything to do with the social research or polling industry will have heard the story about how all the opinion polls were so positive that Thomas Dewey was going to defeat Harry Truman in the 1948 US presidential election that the Chicago Tribune declared Dewey the winner the morning after the election.   The reason this happened, say opinion pollsters, is that the polls predicting a republican victory were done by telephone, and failed to account for democratic voters being less likely to  have telephones than republicans, telephones still being a luxury in 1948.   This is not necessarily a problem if  pollsters know that say, 90% of the  republican voters have telephones vs 80% of the population that vote democrat.  If this is known, mathematical adjustments are applied, and the poll becomes more accurate.  Because the results were so embarrassing, they figured out what they did wrong, and opinion polling has been fairly accurate

My life as a pirate

It was the summer of  '85 when I took a University course on personal computers.   One of the TAs gave us a lecture on why it was our duty to pirate copy computer software.  Her logic was that legal copies of software were outrageously overpriced and the capitalist running dog monopolist software makers needed to be taught a lesson.     I never really took that lecture to heart, when I got my first computer, a Commodore 64, I found the software for it very affordable, and boughten software came with excellent manuals, a necessity in the days of the command line interface.  I bought the Commodore because I needed a word processor, and Paper Clip for the Commodore was a huge leap forward from fighting with handwritten drafts, typewriters, and correction fluid in order to submit the dreaded 2,000 word essay. That Commodore served my needs for years before I upgraded to a PC 'IBM clone' running MSDOS and Windows 3.1.  It was an amazing machine for one used to the C64 hooked

So what is smart?

The interesting thing about artificial, so called, intelligence is that machines like computers and what we call robots are best at the things that are associated with smartness, like being able to do mathematical calculations in seconds that would take centuries using paper and pencil, or playing chess at grand master levels.  What computers and their smart robotic cousins are very bad at are the things that any idiot is capable of, like being able to walk from one place to another without falling over,  having a conversation, or carrying out instructions that are not pre-programmed somewhat inflexible commands. There is not one robot out there of any size or complexity that can match the multiple capabilities and complex behavior of an ant with its brain about the size of a grain of sand. Which has me wondering, if machines can do the things that smart people can do better than smart people, but can't do the simple things that stupid people can do better than stupid people..

Why vegans are idiots

tks Vegans are vegans because they say it is cruel to eat animals but OK to eat plants. Of all the forms of life on earth, only plants and their prokaryote cousins (lookitup) have the ability to capture energy from the environment, such as sunlight, and convert it into food. Not only that, but plants are also the primary means of carbon capture, yes all plants are busily removing deadly global warming prime suspect CO2 from the atmosphere. All the other lifeforms, including the cute little cows, sheep, piggies, rabbits etc., that Vegans don't want to eat are parasites, too lazy to create their own food, instead they just munch up the hard working members of the vegetable kingdom, not to mention polluting the atmosphere with CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Now where is the justice in that?  If somebody broke into your fridge and scarfed all your food, you would call the cops.  But this is exactly what the herbivorous species are doing to plants, not to mention all those Vegans.

Rednecknomics: Dirty Money

I am sure you are all familiar with the following example of why we need money. "If you have an ounce of weed, and you want a bottle of whiskey, without currency you have to find someone who not only has a bottle of whiskey, but also wants an ounce of weed and will agree to the trade." blah blah blah.... (with partial thanks to I have come to the conclusion that money is really time and dirt or,  T+D=$.  You plant some weed seeds in dirt.  You add time to cultivate and watch over the crop while it grew, and more time to harvest it.   The bottle of whiskey has a similar provenance, someone or several someones grew the ingredients (dirt+time), processed them (time), made bottles (dirt+time). etc. etc..  Everything started as some combination of time and dirt.  Maybe more of one than the other,  digital porn is mostly time,  a cubic yard of  uncut diamonds is mostly dirt.  Most of us are engaged in some form of investing time and dirt into things that ot

Narrow escapes

How I survived the end of the world. As a member of the boomers, my first memories are of the 1950's, I had my 10th birthday in 1960, I remember seeing Sputnik zooming over the night sky, when the Beatles came to town,  the Kennedy assassinations, disco (the lost years), the eighties, nineties and oughties are a bit of a blur, but I was there.  But mostly I remember that whenever some doomsayer starts talking about the end of everything, I remember that I have heard this before. Nuclear holocaust.  A close call that lasted through my school days, 1955 through 1968.  Long range nuclear bombers and ICBMs  and real life Dr. Strangeloves meant no one was safe.  Underground fall out shelters were built in back yards, more elaborate versions were constructed to house VIPs all over the world.  Every village and town got an air raid siren.  Schools gave nuclear bomb drills (we dived under our desks.)   Hysteria peaked with the Cuban missile crisis, after which people progressively los

Truth or Consequences

A few days ago, surfing the morning news, I came upon this article .  According to the headline we are headed irreversible climate change.  The article quotes the IEA, or International Energy Association.  I had never heard of the IEA, but fortunately, wikipedia had, IEA is an  international policy group who's members are the many of the major national governments, that advises its members on energy consumption and production policy.  Visiting the IEA website quickly turned up  the  press release that was clearly the source of what the UK Guardian was making all the fuss about.  A few days later, my news surfing turned up this opinion piece by  Victoria Times columnist Iain Hunter, who presents us with an unattributed  morality play  from 56 million years ago, a version of it can be found here , in addition to a Guardianesque take on the IEA press release. The IEA article is about energy infrastructure.  What it is saying is that if nothing is done we will have invested our co