Archive for category: Science

Wall Street Journal Tries To Look At the Smart Gun Issue

18 Apr
April 18, 2018

The Wall Street Journal decided to examine the smart gun issue. It seems the authors of the piece can’t figure out why no one on in Silicon Valley is willing to fund smart guns, and dismisses the concerns of gun owners and RKBA activists.

For example:

quote For decades, firearms companies have refused to sell smart guns because of glitches in some early models, as well as a backlash from conservative gun-rights activists, who fear the technology will prompt state legislatures to mandate it broadly. The activists say their fears were confirmed by a 2002 New Jersey law requiring all handguns for sale in the state to have smart-gun technology once it became available. (emphasis mine) Smith & Wesson’s parent company said last month it was still wary of making smart guns.

Excuse me, but this isn’t a case of activists making an unsubstantiated claim. I would call that empirical evidence.

Further, the authors have to pull out that this would stop a highly publicized event:

quote But in theory, a gun with a fingerprint reader or RFID technology might stop murderers like Adam Lanza who used guns purchased and stored by his mother, and to a greater degree prevent accidental shootings and suicides.

Did they even read how this tech was supposed to work? First, Lanza’s mother took him with her shooting. Are you telling me that an RFID reader or fingerprint scanner would have stopped someone already granted access? About the only one of these claims that has some merit is accidental shootings. My problem is that: 1) the situations prevented are already rare and 2) the lives saved may be outweighed by the number of lives lost because tech failures preventing people from defending themselves. Oh how can you quantify that people would be put in danger by tech failures? How many times has the fingerprint scanner on your phone failed to read in good conditions? How many times have you had to rescan a badge for entrance because the reader was being temperamental?

Here’s my take on the smart gun issue. I’m a geek and I love technology. However, I don’t trust governments not to abuse any advances in smart gun tech to restrict the rights.

State of My Podcasts

07 Mar
March 7, 2018

I’m going to try and do this on an annual basis. Part of it’s my own curiosity at how my podcast habits change. I’m also curious what others think about the same podcasts and which podcasts come and go.

I’m going to list the podcasts into some broad groups, with any annotations about frequency I listen to them or general impressions.

I listen to my podcasts in Overcast. I use four playlists:

  1. Daily – This is a playlist of what I want to listen to during my commutes, work, and other times. Some of the podcasts are put to the top on certain days. Some are “promotable”, which means they go to the top behind that day’s podcasts. The rest are filler, and I’ll get to them when I can.

  2. Writing – I use this as a warm-up for when I’m going to write as well as general knowledge to improve my writing

  3. Roman History – This one has two finished podcast series I’m listening about the history of Rome from its early beginnings to the fall of the Byzantine Empire

  4. History – Self explanatory

My podcasts as of March 2018:

Liberty

Cato Daily Podcast – A good quick bit in various topics from a libertarian viewpoint. This one I use as filler on my “Daily” playlist.

Cato Events Podcast – Recordings of various panels put on by the Cato Institute. I’ve heard a lot of very interesting discussions and arguments. This one I use as filler on my “Daily” playlist. I will delete if the topic doesn’t interest me, as these can be pretty long.

Clear and Present Danger -A History of Free Speech – This is a Friday morning podcast on my “Daily” playlist. Still a little uncertain about this one.

The Good Fight – Formerly “The Liberty Files”, this one is a promotable on my “Daily” playlist. This is one I like using for hearing the conservative side of civil liberty discussions. A bit heavier on the freedom of religion than I’d like, but understandable from the hosts’ perspective.

Reason Podcast – Reason’s weekly podcast with their editors is promotable on my Daily playlist. The others are filler. Some good content and some that just don’t interest me.

Short Circuit – From the Institute of Justice, this one discusses notable cases that IJ is a part of. This is a promotable on my Daily playlist.

So To Speak – FIRE’s podcast discussing free speech issues. This is a Friday morning podcast on my Daily playlist.

Economics

Econtalk – Economist Russ Roberts does great interviews with a wide variety of guests and topics. I’ve been learning a lot. This is a Tuesday morning podcast on my Daily playlist.

GAO Podcast – GAO discussing some of their reviews. This one I use as filler on my “Daily” playlist

History

Hardcore History – Dan Carlin’s storytelling on various topics is spellbinding. This is promotable on my History playlist on the infrequent occasions new podcasts show up.

Hardcore History: Addendum – New one from Dan Carlin. The first two were interesting. This will be promotable if he continues.

The History of Byzantium – I only listened to a couple of episodes. It’s on my “Roman History” playlist to go after the “History of Rome”

The History of Rome – This one is on my “Roman History” playlist. Good for amateur historians like me. It’s a finished series.

Revolutions – Really good series on various revolutions. Each season goes through one of the more pivotal revolutions in history, starting with the English Revolution. I’ve listened to the first four seasons. This is on my History playlist.

War Stories – Good military history podcast. It’s in my “History” playlist.

Guns

Black Man With A Gun Podcast – Kenn’s podcast was one of the first I started listening to, and then I wrote Zombie Strike for him. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Down Range Radio – Right now, this is my Wednesday morning podcast, but it may get downgraded to promotable. Some of Bane’s nonsense and glad standing is getting on my nervesz On my Daily playlist.

Geeks Gadgets and Guns – A recent addition after they discussed Pathfinder with Erin Pallette. Right now it’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

The Gun Nation – This one is promotable on my Daily playlist on the rare occasions it drops.

Handgun Radio – This one I’ve been enjoying. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Handgun World – This one might go from promotable to fuller on my Daily playlist. Bob has good information, but sometimes his views annoy me, particularly when he goes off on rising evil.

Polite Society Podcast – Good information, but often too long. This one is filler on my Daily playlist

Riding Shotgun With Charley – Interesting so far, but currently filler on my Daily playlist

Safety Solutions Academy – Real good information. Paul is one of those trainers I’d like to learn from if I could scrape together the time and money. This one is promotable on my Daily playlist.

Self-Defense Gun Stories – I like the analysis of what went right and wrong from a variety of professional trainers. This one is a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Politics

The Economist – This is a Friday morning podcast on my Daily playlist. It provides a different perspective and reports on areas that barely hit my normal feeds.

The Fifth Column – This is a really good roundup focusing on the issues of the day and how the media reports them. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen – Charles C. Cooke. That’s why I listen to this podcast. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Neal Boortz Daily Commentaries – I loved listening to Boortz when he was on syndicated radio, and now I get two minutes of him. It’s interesting to see how I’ve diverged from him over the years. It’s only considered promotable on my Daily playlist because I get it daily.

The One With Greg Gutfeld – Only listened to a couple of episodes, but it feels similar to Greg’s Redeye days. Currently promotable on my Daily playlist.

Part of the Problem – Rabid anti war libertarian comedian Dave Smith is interesting. He’s certainly challenging some of my ideas. Promotable on my Daily playlist.

War College – This is a Friday morning podcast on my Daily playlist. An interesting look at politics and military issues.

Tech

Clockwise – This is a Friday morning podcast on my Daily playlist. I like the format and it helps keep me up to date on tech issues and trends.

Daily Tech Headlines – Good summary of big tech stories, and the weekend history segments are interesting. It’s considered promotable on my Daily playlist only becuse it comes out every day.

General

Friendly Fire – New one about three guys watching and critiquing war films. It’s a Friday afternoon podcast on my Daily playlist.

The Incomparable Game Show – Often hilarious, sometimes dangerously so when driving. It’s a Friday afternoon podcast on my Daily playlist.

Penn’s Sunday School – Penn prognosticating on the world. It’s a Tuesday and a Thursday morning podcast on my Daily Playlist.

Squirrel Report – It’s not a Friday afternoon drive without this one.

Unjustly Maligned – On hiatus, but I’d recommend going through the back of episodes.

The Way I Heard It With Mike Rowe – After growing up with Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story”, this one is a wonderful substitute. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Science & Skepticism

Skeptics Guide to The Universe – This was my first science podcast and really helped forge my skepticism. It’s a Monday morning podcast on my Daily playlist.

Skeptoid – Another one that helped in developing my skeptical outlook. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Writing

Writing Excuses – If you are a fiction writer, I can’t recommend this one highly enough. It’s currently the only one on my Writing playlist.

After All, It’s Not Their Money

01 Sep
September 1, 2017

Across the bay, the city of St. Petersburg wants to force homeowners to add solar panels anytime they put on a new roof.

http://reason.com/blog/2017/08/31/st-petersburg-wants-to-force-you-to-put

They might make an exception for existing homes, but any new buildings, the city council at wants panels. And the homeowner or building owner gets to foot the bill. For another $10K. That’s about three times what I paid to put a new roof on my house last year. It’s about double what my mom paid for her roof.

All the council wants to focus on is all the energy they think this will generate. They refuse to think about:

  1. Solar isn’t as efficient as they expect.

  2. The cost to upgrade the grid to handle all that new energy generation.

  3. It will slow down development in St. Pete due to rising costs.

  4. People will have to take on more debt to do roof replacements. This will most likely lead to an uptick in foreclosures because some people will be unable to pay.

  5. Those who have to save up the cash will forgo necessary roof replacements, which will lead to even more problems, and more drains on people’s limited resources.

Of course, it’s not their money. So why should they give a damn if their brilliant idea hurts people.

Michael Shermer Blasts Lack of Ideological Diversity in Social Sciences

18 Feb
February 18, 2016

His article in Sci-Am is worth a read.

Shermer begins with saying the insanity taking place on college campuses can be laid at the feet of having no other ideologies to act as a reality balance. Locked in an echo chamber, it’s a race to the extremes – kind of like a primary race. 

Then Shermer lays out that bias affects not only the descriptive terms used during studies (conservative values as indicators of mental disorders), but in how the data is interpreted. 

RTWT

Brown Eyes Blue

18 Feb
February 18, 2016

So, that’s where my brother and I got our sparkling blues.

Everyone with blue eyes alive today – from Angelina Jolie to Wayne Rooney – can trace their ancestry back to one person who probably lived about 10,000 years ago in the Black Sea region, a study has found.

Scientists studying the genetics of eye colour have discovered that more than 99.5 per cent of blue-eyed people who volunteered to have their DNA analysed have the same tiny mutation in the gene that determines the colour of the iris.

This indicates that the mutation originated in just one person who became the ancestor of all subsequent people in the world with blue eyes, according to a study by Professor Hans Eiberg and colleagues at the University of Copenhagen.

H/t Peter Grant (who you should be reading and buying his books)

Friday Quote – 1/29/16

29 Jan
January 29, 2016
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

Richard Feynman, from the Rogers Commission Report on the Challenger disaster

Challenger, 30 Years Later

28 Jan
January 28, 2016

Thirty years ago, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its flight. Seven were killed.

This is perhaps the first memory where I remember where I was when I heard the news. I was in sixth grade, coming back from PE, when a teacher burst into the hall to tell us what happened. We watched the coverage for pretty much the rest of the day. A friend of mine was in Nature’s Classroom and actually saw the Y-shaped cloud.

  
Image is from CBS news.

Uber Delivering Flu Shots

18 Nov
November 18, 2015

As if I didn’t love this company already for its shattering of taxi cartels, they are now going to be delivering flu shots on November 19.

Customers who normally use the Uber smartphone app to call for a ride will be able to request a flu shot — and a nurse in an Uber car will show up at their home or office in about three dozen cities across the country.

The charge is $10, but the nurse can give up to 10 flu shots at each location for no additional charge. So work colleagues can split the cost among themselves.

Unfortunately, it’s only one day, but I hope this is an annual program by Uber.

Perhaps the Most Glorious Scientific Paper Written

13 Nov
November 13, 2015

https://isotropic.org/papers/chicken.pdf​

Doug Zongker of University of Washington, you are my hero!

P.S. There’s even a PowerPoint!

Friday Quote – 10/9/15

09 Oct
October 9, 2015

Science advances through tentative answers to a series of more and more subtle questions which reach deeper and deeper into the essence of natural phenomena.

Louis Pasteur