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Member since: Sat Mar 29, 2008, 10:11 PM
Number of posts: 45,851

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Jeff Beck and Imogen Heap live at Ronnie Scotts.


Am I unusual, I've never met another atheist?

By which I mean not that I've never actually interacted with another atheist, I'm sure I have but I have never knowingly done so, I've never had someone say "Hey, you're an atheist, so am I" or something like that..

I've lived around this area for a big chunk of my sixtysomething years and have no clue where I might go to deliberately meet another atheist.

Anyone else here never knowingly meet another atheist in the flesh, so to speak?

Free Republic explained at last?


WASHINGTON (AP) Dan the baboon sits in front of a computer screen. The letters BRRU pop up. With a quick and almost dismissive tap, the monkey signals it's not a word. Correct. Next comes, ITCS. Again, not a word. Finally KITE comes up.

He pauses and hits a green oval to show it's a word. In the space of just a few seconds, Dan has demonstrated a mastery of what some experts say is a form of pre-reading and walks away rewarded with a treat of dried wheat.

Dan is part of new research that shows baboons are able to pick up the first step in reading identifying recurring patterns and determining which four-letter combinations are words and which are just gobbledygook.

The study shows that reading's early steps are far more instinctive than scientists first thought and it also indicates that non-human primates may be smarter than we give them credit for.


Read the rest of the article at the link..

Saggy pants? Not this guy.. The pants will rise again.. (graphic)

Using North Dakota as a teaching tool..

I was talking to a friend today and they mentioned how North Dakota is one of the few states that isn't struggling with a deficit in their budget, this person attributed the situation to the fact that North Dakota has its own state bank.

Since were were sitting around the computer I told them to Google "balance of payments by state" and we found that N Dakota ranks fourth of all the states in how much they get back for each dollar they send to the federal government, a net surplus of $2,513 dollars per resident per year in 1997..


We then started to look at other states balance of payments, I pointed out that the states that are normally thought of as the most conservative are almost uniformly near the top of the list in collecting money from the federal government, more money than they send in federal taxes.

I left my friend deep in thought, they were truly surprised by this information, I could almost hear the gears turning in their head as they processed the new perspective on disbursement and collection of federal monies..

What made it really effective is that I had my friend do the research themselves, they couldn't say that I was making stuff up.

In my next life I want to be a conservative policy scammer..

Think of how much nicer it would be. Instead of constantly being accused of having evil motives, Id be presumed to have noble intentions no matter how much the actual content of my policy proposals was at odds with such claims. Instead of being accused of saying bad things I never said, Id be given credit for supporting good things Ive never supported. Life would be great!

OK, Im whining. But the continuing defense of Paul Ryan is a remarkable phenomenon. Hes still being treated by many pundits as a man deeply concerned about deficits, when the fact is that his policy proposals are all about redistributing income upward, and make no serious effort to curb debt. Hes even given credit for advocating higher taxes on the rich when he has more or less specifically rejected the things for which hes given credit.


Read the rest of the piece at:


New old stock motherboard.. Worth using?

I have an old but still new in the package MSI K8N Neo4/SLI motherboard that I'm considering building into a system, I would have to buy a socket 939 processor, a PCI-E x16 graphics card and some memory for it.. Already have hard drive, case, power supply and so forth..

I only have $10 in the mobo and I'm wondering if it's worth buying the rest of the parts on Ebay, I have about $70 to spend on it and I think I could get into an Athlon 64 x2 processor and a Radeon HD 5450 1GB card and a couple of gigabytes of RAM for close to that..

Hmm... One Minute MBA - Avoiding Projects Pursued By Morons 101

Smart words, me likey.

Too bad our elites are getting progressively worse at all these things..


The secret to every analysis I've ever done of contemporary politics has been, more or less, my expensive business school education (I would write a book entitled "Everything I Know I Learned At A Very Expensive University", but I doubt it would sell). About half of what they say about business schools and their graduates is probably true, and they do often feel like the most collossal waste of time and money, but they occasionally teach you the odd thing which is very useful indeed. Here's a few of the ones I learned which I considered relevant to judging the advisability of the Second Iraq War.

Good ideas do not need lots of lies told about them in order to gain public acceptance. I was first made aware of this during an accounting class. We were discussing the subject of accounting for stock options at technology companies. There was a live debate on this subject at the time. One side (mainly technology companies and their lobbyists) held that stock option grants should not be treated as an expense on public policy grounds; treating them as an expense would discourage companies from granting them, and stock options were a vital compensation tool that incentivised performance, rewarded dynamism and innovation and created vast amounts of value for America and the world. The other side (mainly people like Warren Buffet) held that stock options looked awfully like a massive blag carried out my management at the expense of shareholders, and that the proper place to record such blags was the P&L account.


Fibbers' forecasts are worthless. Case after miserable case after bloody case we went through, I tell you, all of which had this moral. Not only that people who want a project will tend to make innacurate projections about the possible outcomes of that project, but about the futility of attempts to "shade" downward a fundamentally dishonest set of predictions. If you have doubts about the integrity of a forecaster, you can't use their forecasts at all. Not even as a "starting point". By the way, I would just love to get hold of a few of the quantitative numbers from documents prepared to support the war and give them a quick run through Benford's Law.


The Vital Importance of Audit. Emphasised over and over again. Brealey and Myers has a section on this, in which they remind callow students that like backing-up one's computer files, this is a lesson that everyone seems to have to learn the hard way. Basically, it's been shown time and again and again; companies which do not audit completed projects in order to see how accurate the original projections were, tend to get exactly the forecasts and projects that they deserve. Companies which have a culture where there are no consequences for making dishonest forecasts, get the projects they deserve. Companies which allocate blank cheques to management teams with a proven record of failure and mendacity, get what they deserve.


Read the rest of the post at the link..

So I'm walking around the flea market with a magnet, looking for cookware..

I just ordered a new induction cooktop to replace my very old and pathetically inadequate two burner electric unit, of course all my old cookware is aluminum and not suitable for induction heating. It turns out that if a magnet will stick to a piece of cookware then it's good for an induction hob. My old resistance heating unit is so low powered that it takes approximately forever just to boil water which turns out to be very inefficient and heats up my tiny place too much in the summer. I really only use a single burner more than 90% of the time anyway and I found quite a good deal on a modern and much more powerful and efficient induction single hob.

Induction hobs don't get hot themselves, they heat the cooking utensil directly through electromagnetic induction, you can actually put a piece of paper between the cooktop and the utensil and fry bacon without burning the paper.


When I started looking at the price of specifically designed induction cookware I nearly passed out from sticker shock so it was off to one of my favorite places for bargains, the flea market.

My first magnetic cookware find at the flea market was a vintage enameled steel teakettle, I drink coffee when I'm out but I prefer hot tea at home so a teakettle is an essential for me. This kettle is unique, remarkably well made and I got it for only $3, I got a kick out of the design and I thought perhaps someone else would get a chuckle out of it too.

I also got a Nordicware Tender Cooker microwave pressure cooker in brand new shape for $5, now I can make those slow-cooker meals in a half hour instead of a half-day, saving both time and electricity..

Oh.. And Nordicware is made in the USA..


Create colored 3D models with nothing but your camera and an internet connection..


I've been needing 3D models for something I've been doing lately, all the solutions I've seen so far require a significant investment in hardware and/or software until I found My3DScanner, it's like magic and all you really need is a digital camera and an internet connection to get a both a point cloud and a triangle mesh of the object you want to model.

Here's a couple of images of a digital model of a small ivory statuette I have, I picked ivory because it's one of the more difficult surfaces to model due to its light color and specularly reflective nature.

Here's one actual photo I used for the digitizing process, it takes quite a few to do a good job on something like this..

And here's my setup, I made a random digital backdrop by printing out an image of digital noise on regular paper and gluing it to a sheet of particle board and several small pieces of the same that I can position behind the model as necessary. You can make a 3D model with My3DScanner without something like this but for the stuff I was trying to do it wasn't working very well.

The flashes are triggered by my on camera flash which I have turned down as far as it will go, the slave trigger for the left flash is on the board behind the setup held with green tape and the other flash triggers from the first one.. I let the light reflect off the ceiling for a relatively shadowless image.

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