Saturday, October 13, 2012

Misery Loves Company

The Nationals game five collapse gives me a little comfort after the Reds 2 game to 0 lead.  Blowing a 6-0 lead in game five with your ace on the mound?  Ouch.

Texas State Fair Time

I can tell the state fair is on, because Texas and Oklahoma are battling for the Golden Hat:

So if you are in the area, get your deep-fried jambalaya. Or the deep-fried bacon cinnamon roll. Or the deep-fried chicken and waffles....

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Another Look At The Marshmallow Study

he research builds on a long series of marshmallow-related studies that began at Stanford University in the late 1960s. Walter Mischel and other researchers famously showed that individual differences in the ability to delay gratification on this simple task correlated strongly with success in later life. Longer wait times as a child were linked years later to higher SAT scores, less substance abuse, and parental reports of better social skills.
Because of the surprising correlation, the landmark marshmallow studies have been cited as evidence that qualities like self-control or emotional intelligence in general may be more important to navigating life successfully than more traditional measures of intelligence, such as IQ.
The Rochester team wanted to explore more closely why some preschoolers are able to resist the marshmallow while others succumb to licking, nibbling, and eventually swallowing the sugary treat. The researchers assigned 28 three- to five-year-olds to two contrasting environments: unreliable and reliable. The study results were so strong that a larger sample group was not required to ensure statistical accuracy and other factors, like the influence of hunger, were accounted for by randomly assigning participants to the two groups, according to the researchers. In both groups the children were given a create-your-own-cup kit and asked to decorate the blank paper that would be inserted in the cup.
In the unreliable condition, the children were provided a container of used crayons and told that if they could wait, the researcher would return shortly with a bigger and better set of new art supplies for their project. After two and a half minutes, the research returned with this explanation: "I'm sorry, but I made a mistake. We don't have any other art supplies after all. But why don't you use these instead?" She then helped to open the crayon container.
Next a quarter-inch sticker was placed on the table and the child was told that if he or she could wait, the researcher would return with a large selection of better stickers to use. After the same wait, the researcher again returned empty handed.
The reliable group experienced the same set up, but the researcher returned with the promised materials: first with a rotating tray full of art supplies and the next time with five to seven large, die-cut stickers.

The End of the Road

Well, after jumping out to a 2 games to none lead on the road, the Reds made Barack Obama's debate performance look like a masterpiece with their performance in their three games at home.  My guess is that even though it won't do any good for the Reds, this may have been Dusty Baker's last game as manager.  It's been a nice run.  Two playoff appearances in three years ain't too shabby.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Grand Canyon: Blink of Time

Grand Canyon : Blink of Time from GOTM Films on Vimeo.

German Bishops One-Up U.S. Counterparts

All Things Considered:
Last month, German bishops warned that if members of the Catholic Church don't pay the country's church tax, they'll be denied the sacraments — including baptisms, weddings and funerals.
In increasingly secular Europe, Germany is one of the few countries where the state collects a special levy from tax-registered believers and hands it over to three organized faiths.
Registered Catholics, Protestants and Jews pay a surcharge of up to 9 percent on their income. The Catholic Church alone received some $6.5 billion in 2011.
In issuing the stringent new decree, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, the president of the German bishops' conference, said that not paying taxes for the church is a grave offense, and that sacraments will be banned for those who distance themselves from the church.
"In Germany, the church is a community of faith which coexists alongside the legal system," Zollitsch said. "The two cannot be separated."
Many conservatives and progressives are up in arms.
Wow, talk about a motivation to drop out.  At a local parish, the priest's policy was that to be eligible to get married or get a child baptized, a parishioner had to put an envelope in the collection at least 50 of the 57 times they were collected each year (52 Sundays and 5 Holy Days of Obligation).  I never quite understood the policy.  One guy I knew said his friend's mom signed his friend up as a parishioner, then put a dollar in the collection each week for a year so the guy could get married at the church.  It would seem like someone would be considered a member if he put in, say $50 a month, even if that was only 12 times.  That would seem like a better deal than $50 a year over 50 collections.  But what do I know.  Looks like the German bishops are telling people to pay or get the fuck out.  For some reason that reminds me more of the Pharisees than Jesus.  Wasn't it that bearded hippie who said the poor old woman putting in the penny was better than all the rich folks putting in their gold coins?  Maybe not, I can't remember.

Where Did That Radioactive Material Go?

Raw Story (h/t nc links)
Texans can breathe easier: the radioactive waste Halliburton fracking surveyors lost last month has finally been found. The United Arab Emirates-based oil services company told reporters this weekend that an oilfield worker found the rod of americium-241/beryllium alongside a highway near Pecos, Texas.
Halliburton reported it missing on September 11, and members of the Texas National Guard were ultimately called up to aid their search. Halliburton said it even deployed vehicles fitted with radiation detection equipment, but found nothing on three sweeps of the area.
Americium-241/beryllium is used for a variety of industrial and medical purposes, and in this case was needed for equipment used to identify potential sites for natural gas drilling.
It is a “Category 3” radioactive substance, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Category 3 sources, if not safely managed or securely protected, could cause permanent injury to a person who handled them, or were otherwise in contact with them, for some hours,” the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) explained. “It could possibly — although it is unlikely — be fatal to be close to this amount of unshielded radioactive material for a period of days to weeks.”
Individuals who swallow or inhale contaminated particulate matter experience a heightened risk for some types of cancer. Though the substances are relatively common in more advanced technology, including smoke detectors, the quantity misplaced by Halliburton workers was cause for serious concern.
I wondered where I left that radioactive material.  Of course, on the side of the road.  The other thing that sticks out in that story?  How about, "The United Arab Emirates-based oil services company."  Fucking no good traitor bastards.

News of the Obvious: Business Extortion Edition

Dayton Daily News:
In some high-profile 2011 cases, the state subsidized new corporate headquarters for corporations that threatened to leave the state but ultimately used the money to move only a few miles, to wealthier communities.
For example:
• After securing $93.5 million in state incentives over 15 years, American Greetings Corp. last year announced it will leave its longtime hometown of Brooklyn and move a dozen miles away to the more upscale Cleveland suburb of Westlake. The new headquarters with its 1,750 workers will be in a chic lifestyle center part-owned by the family that controls American Greetings. The cost for each of those jobs: $53,429.
• Diebold Inc. received state and local tax credits sufficient to pay for a new $100 million headquarters in the Summit County town of Green. Diebold officials promised to keep 1,500 employees in Ohio for 18 years. But in a move allowable under incentive agreements, the company announced in April it will move 200 Ohio jobs to India.
• Columbus officials were surprised when Bob Evans Farms snubbed their incentives package and announced plans to leave the city’s south side for affluent New Albany. A spokesman for Mayor Michael Coleman said company officials told Coleman they planned to stay in Ohio, but used a relocation threat to squeeze $17.4 million in incentives from the state.
• The Wendy’s hamburger chain returned to its traditional hometown of Dublin after a brief corporate marriage to Arby’s in Atlanta. The state ponied up $8.9 million and Dublin gave $8 million for 223 jobs, bringing the total public expenditure to $75,785 per job. Meanwhile, Wendy’s racked up millions in severance and relocation payments to executives, including an $11.5 million golden parachute to former Chief Executive Roland Smith, who declined to move to Ohio.
• Kasich granted $78 million in incentives to keep Marathon Petroleum Corp. in Findlay. He also granted Marathon an exemption from the state’s commercial activities tax, against the recommendation of his tax commissioner.
The Diebold one seems the most egregious to me, although Bob Evans is really close.  The family owning Diebold is so tied into the Republican party that it seems really fishy that they threatened to move and got a huge tax package right after Kasich won election.  I don't want to go all conspiracy theory on you, but that seems like a joint back scratching deal.  Diebold gets a stack of money and Kasich can pretend he saves jobs.  Whatever the case, taxpayers lose while shareholders win.  Corporate welfare at its finest.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mato Grasso Overshadows Midwest

Progressive Farmer (h/t Big Picture Agriculture):

Mato Grosso, Brazil's principle soybean state, will become the undisputed center of the grains industry and a more important player in pork and poultry over the next ten years, according to the latest outlook released by IMEA, the state's agricultural economy institute.
The state's farmers will bring another 12 million acres into grain production by 2021-22 and increase output by nearly 80% to 68 million metric tons, said the survey.
Soybean production is pegged to grow 62% to 39.1 mmt by 2021-22, due principally to a 52% jump in planted area. The expansion will principally occur in the underexploited east of the state, and the center-north. As a result, Mato Grosso's already substantial share of Brazilian production will grow by eight percentage points to 40%.
Meanwhile, the trend for planting second-crop corn will intensify. Area is seen rising 69% to 12.1 million hectares by 2021-22, while production is seen doubling to 28.6 mmt, reflecting a 22% increase in yields as more advanced technology becomes widely employed with the winter crop. Mato Grosso's participation in overall Brazilian corn production will rise from 23% to 36%.
The wider availability of corn as well as soybeans will allow pork output to double to 373,200 tons and poultry output will rise 96% to 997,300 tons. However, the distance from markets means the state will still only produce a relatively small proportion of Brazilian output; some 9% for pork and 6% for poultry.
Much of the expansion in grains production will come on top of pasture. As a result, livestock area is seen sliding 19% to 48 million acres by 2021-22. However, more intensive farming means livestock levels will rise 2% to 29.6 million.
That is unfreakingbelievable.  Second crop corn!?  Geez.

Too Good of a Story

Bryan Curtis on Josh Hamilton:
A week later, on a bright day in Oakland, Hamilton dropped a can of corn.
Rangers fans and writers pulled out their knives. Hamilton, it was said, was high-maintenance. Of course, he'd always been high-maintenance — a celebrated part of The Story was that Hamilton had an "accountability partner," Johnny Narron, who stayed one hotel room over; that he had to be sprayed with ginger ale while his teammates were sprayed with champagne. Hamilton, it was said, created clubhouse "drama." Well, yeah. This is the guy who said he saw Satan in the clouds. This is the guy who came to Arlington with the most pharmacologically adventurous past this side of Hollywood Henderson. That we thought his drama ended with Act 3 — at the conclusion of the book or DVD or testimonial — showed we were as beguiled by The Story as Hamilton was.
It's not defending Josh Hamilton to say that he became despised this year for many of the things that, in the confines of a redemption narrative, once made him beloved. The Story swallowed the man. Hamilton seems like a reasonably friendly, occasionally defensive guy who is teetering on the edge of sobriety, who is prone to inconvenient bouts of detachment, and who gets hurt a lot. When he goes to his next team, I hope a new story will start there. But I have a sinking feeling that every time he loses a fly ball, Hamilton will again be a prisoner of redemption, trapped in a tale too flawless for any man.
I think he's right that Hamilton has become a prisoner of the story.  His talent is too immense, and his addictions are too strong.  He's some kind of mythological beast on the ball field.  Hopefully, the story becomes secondary with a new start somewhere else.

Not Dead Yet!

My sister checked in with me to see if I was still amongst the living, since it had been more than 48 hours since I had gone off on Mitt Romney for being a lying sack of shit. I told her I've been busy between work and farming. Last night I went home after dark and started feeding the animals. When I went to get some water for the chickens, I ran into one of my yearling calves on my side of the fence. After I got her in, I spent an hour going around the pasture fence hooking down the lower wire. The calves had been rooting under the fence for grass, and apparently one managed to slide out. Hopefully they will all be in when I get home.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Wyoming Wildscapes

Wyoming Wildscapes from Nicolaus Wegner on Vimeo.

NASA Photo of the Day

October 3:

Goat Aurora Over Greenland
Image Credit & Copyright: Juan Carlos Casado (TWAN)
Explanation: Sometimes it's hard to believe what you see in the sky. During the Shelios Expedition to Greenland in late August, even veteran sky enthusiasts saw auroras so colorful, so fast changing, and so unusual in form that they could remember nothing like it. As the ever changing auroras evolved, huge shapes spread across the sky morphed from one familiar form into another, including what looked to be the head of a goat (shown above), the head of an elephant, a strange green-tailed comet, and fingers on a celestial hand. Even without the aurora, the sky would be notable for the arching band of our Milky Way Galaxy and the interesting field of stars, nebulas, and galaxies. In contrast, in the foreground is a farm house in Tasiusaq, Kujalleq. Greenland. The Shelios project exists not only to observe auroras but to motivate students to consider a career in science.

Man's Death is Death Of Dialect

Bobby Hogg, a 92-year-old resident of the Scottish fishing village of Cromarty, died earlier this week, taking a local dialect along with him. According to the BBC:
The dialect is believed to have arrived in the area with fishing families that moved north from the Firth of Forth in 15th and 16th centuries. The families were thought to be the descendants of Norse and Dutch fishermen.
Hogg and his brother, who died last year, are believed to be the last two people fluent in the language. In 2009, a researcher recorded some of their conversations and created a lexicon of the "Cromarty Fisherfolk Dialect" [PDF]. Hundreds of words and phrases are documented, including this one: "A'm fair sconfished wi hayreen; gie's fur brakwast lashins o am and heggs" – or "I'm so fed up with herring, give me plenty of ham and eggs for breakfast." That phrase survives in print, but it will likely never be spoken again.
It's not so rare for such a cultural deletion to occur. A language goes extinct every 14 days, according to National Geographic's Disappearing Languages project. More than 7,000 languages exist today. By the end of the century, that number could be cut down to less than half.
The radio story on this said there were three dialects in that town, one in use with town folks, one for farmers and one for fishermen.  The fisherfolk dialect was the last surviving.  There were some words my roommate in college and his brother used which maybe were their own dialect. But they will live a while longer, and each have several kids, so that will probably continue.

Debate Winners and Losers

SNL's take.  As always, anything involving Joe Biden is hilarious:

The Penis Bar?

Emily Carson reviews unique Irish snack foods:

Last but not least is the most recent addition to Ireland's roll-call of curious confections: The Langer Bar. This chocolate treat hails from Cork, in the south of Ireland, where, in the vernacular, a langer is either a disagreeable person—or a penis. The bar has already garnered lots of attention, in part for its name, in part for its rich taste. As these photos show (one is above), the bar has been spotted all over the world. However, retailing at €3.25 you're really paying for the name. Only in Ireland would you find a chocolate bar that essentially goes by the title "The Penis Bar" receiving mass acceptance. If you ever meet someone from Cork be sure to cite this slang for instant ingratiation.
Apparently, the candy bar has been popular:
Frank Nixon and Kate Walsh, owners of the Half-Door Sweet Company on Maylor St in Cork City, put the distinctive product on sale last Saturday and have been blown away by the popularity it has attracted already.

"We called the bar the Langer for two reasons," said Mr Nixon.

"The shop itself is a Cork family-owned company, we are both from Cork. There is nothing out there for that and we wanted to create something for Cork people because Cork people are very proud of their county. We thought ‘Langer bar’: It’s a bit of craic, a bit of fun."

The wrapper is even emblazoned with the slogan "pure Cork boy".

Last Friday, Mr Nixon’s triplet nephews became the first to sample the bar. After they approved it went on sale on Saturday.

"They are flying off the shelves," said Mr Nixon. "Everyone is loving the name. We had a guy who came in tonight who had got an email from a friend of his in Holland asking him to go out and buy two bars and send them over."
That makes Butterfinger seem pretty tame.