Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ten Hundred Words

One of my friends from Boeing sent my this article:

Science in Ten Hundred Words: The `Up-Goer Five' challenge.

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A central question of communicating science to a wider audience often boils down to this: can you take a complex scientific topic and explain it in a way that someone unfamiliar with the field can understand? The commonly-cited techniques for meeting this challenge, such as cutting out jargon and using relatable analogies, sound easy in principle but are often quite tough in practice.
Thus is born the Up-Goer Five Text Editor and its younger sibling,  the Up-Goer Six Text Editor.

I loved (and hated) the Up Goer Five xkcd comic.
Any good trainer/teacher knows that you gotta do something like this to help students understand the basic concept of a thing. (Why I love it.)
But, then you need to move them on to a broader vocabulary (which is why I hate it). 
My old girlfriend used to upbraid me when I'd use a 'big' word to answer a question posed by the Swedish au pair.  I was trying to stretch her vocabulary. 
As far as lawyers..., if you think legal documents are wordy now, try doing with only ten hundred words.  The point of a broader/specialized vocabulary is to say something in as few words as possible.
We've gone from fairly literate newspapers, to USA Today, to infographics.  A "ten hundred" word vocabulary would be a serious handicap to anyone. 
Kind of reminds me of many of my ITT students...
And, yes, it does help understanding to strip something down to as simple a statement as possible.  Like explaining "grabity" to a bright 4 year old.  If you can do that so she understands it, it's a certainty that you do, too.
As the U.S. Marine mondegreen motto says, "Simplify!"

UPDATE!  Just for grins, I took the paragraph I quoted above, and ran it through the Up-Goer Five editor, replacing all of the flagged words.  I could not find a replacementy for "jargon" that I was happy with.  Here is my effort:
The problem of talking about our world to lots of different people often comes down to this: can you take something that's hard, and explain it in a way that someone who doesn't know about the field can understand? The usual approaches, such as cutting out the strange words used only in the field and using simple stories, sound easy, but are often quite hard to do.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Shamelessy stolen...

...from Gerard.
I love this idea.  And his other one about us taking a year off from policing the world.  And making Israel the honorary 51st state while we do.
Dear LowInfo Citizens, It's been about five years since this was first proposed. It is still something to keep in mind as you hope for change and a better world via magical thinking. You may not be interested in false hopes, but false hopes are interested in you....
People get ready.... Police in India’s Kashmir publish nuclear war survival tips, say notice doesn’t signal concern.
... Yeah, right. Duck and cover!


A bomb called Licorne. Fired at 18.30 on July 3, 1970, and yielded 914 kilotons (Think "57 Hiroshimas"). Imagine it being fired next door. Hope that if it is ever fired, it is fired next door.
Sixty-seven years ago : "On Monday, August 6, 1945, the nuclear weapon Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima by the crew of the American B-29 bomber Enola Gay, directly killing an estimated 80,000 people. By the end of the year, injury and radiation brought total casualties to 90,000-140,000. Approximately 69% of the city's buildings were completely destroyed, and 6.6% severely damaged." - Hiroshima
"Little Boy," the aptly named 16 kiloton bomb that took out Hiroshima, was -- in comparison to the nuclear devices in the world's arsenals -- sort of a light field artillery shell. There was, at the time, a second bomb called "Fat Man." Weighing in at 21 kilotons it would put paid to Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. With the erasure of Nagasaki, the world was fresh out of nuclear weapons. It was only a temporary lapse. Today we've got about 25,000 of these little items of discipline scattered about.
The largest nuclear bomb ever detonated in the atmosphere was The Soviet Tsar Bomba , or "Big Ivan" which at 50 Megatons was very harmful to every living think on Novaya Zemlya Island (located above the arctic circle in the Arctic Sea) in October of 1971. Whatever else you might think about them, you can't deny those Soviets dreamed BIG dreams.
No matter what our political feelings, I believe we can all agree that the world is getting just a wee bit too hot for comfort these days, and I don't mean "Global Warming." I mean that people here and there about the globe are getting just a wee bit too hot under the collar. They seem to have forgotten just exactly what comes into play like the force of gravity when whole nations or peoples get really ticked off. Time to refresh our collective memories.
I think we need to have the people of the world focus like a laser on the table stakes of going beyond these little patty-cake wars we are currently diddling around with and look, really look, at what can actually happen with one little slip.
What we need to do this is: "The Live Demo." By this I mean we need to find a small island or deserted space somewhere on the planet and sacrifice it for the greater good by setting off one, just one, low-yield thermonuclear device in the atmosphere for all the world to see.
Think of "The Live Demo" as a remedial educational moment for the entire world; a kind of slap upside the head coupled with a large shout out of: "PAY ATTENTION!"
I believe this "Live Demo" needs to be announced -- in date, time, and place -- to the entire world with something approaching the intensity of the promotion dumped on the Beijing Olympics.
I believe that we should allow any media organization that wishes to to cover this event and provide the infrastructure necessary to film and broadcast it (from a safe distance) to the entire world in all media -- live. I believe we should re-task a satellite to give us a view of the event from space.
No matter what many may think, this event would be the essence of "appointment television" for the people of the world.
I think we should also construct some of those quaint suburbs, villages, and towns that were set up in the ancient Nevada tests to demonstrate just what happens to a family sitting down for an evening snack when the sun is brought -- for one brief shining moment -- to the surface of the Earth. (Those of you who saw the opening scenes of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull probably got some laughs out of this stuff, but it is not really a laughing matter, is it?)
I know that there will be an army of Environmentalists around the world that will bitch and moan about the "harm to the environment" from setting off a single nuclear device in the atmosphere. Those same people need to contemplate instead the "harm to the environment" that comes from setting off several hundred or several thousand of these devices in one very bad afternoon. They need to, for one brief and shining moment, sit down and shut up!
Then there will be those who will carp about "The Test Ban Treaty." They need to take a chill pill, lie down and think of England... or Cleveland... or Tel Aviv... or Tehran.
I can assure you that having the entire world tune in for "The Live Demo" -- and the whole world will tune in -- shall give the entire planet pause. It's not enough for humans to be told about nukes. Every so often, we need to see to believe.
Let's touch off a nuke for world peace next year on August 6. It will be a fitting memorial to Hiroshima. Nothing else we can do will have quite the same... impact.

Lest we forget: Here's 10 minutes about the first "live demo" on a city.

I would imagine that if you repeated those grisly facts to most of the people of the world today they'd express either some polite sadness, a bit of political high dudgeon, or the classic contemporary rejoinder, "Whatever." It's not that they don't know or care, but that -- for the vast majority of the population of the world -- they simply cannot imagine a Hiroshima.
It has been 65 years since the incineration of a city in a second, and we've lost any sense of exactly what happens. The images only survive in black and white films of a long-ago era, films of before (a city) and after (rubble and ash). In black and white images blood is the color of shadows and that's what we have, as a race, of memories about what these weapons can do -- shadows of victims seared into stone at the moment of the blast; the moment the Sun was allow to bloom on the surface of the Earth.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Crashing OabamaCare

John Nolte over at Breitbart has this bit of underhanded sneakyness.  We, the people, can crash ObamaCare.  And, it's legal!!  The money quote:

Here's the two plus two: Starting next year, you can wait until you’re sick to purchase health insurance. And if you do so, you cannot be denied or even charged a higher premium price. Here's the four: Because the ObamaCare penalty to be uninsured is much cheaper than purchasing insurance, why not do exactly that?

Go read the whole thing.

And thanks to the ever suave Mr. Green.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I guess the lawyers have finally managed... teach everyone else to eat their young.

From The Anchoress:

Not everyone is into political issues, or keeps up with them, and my husband has a limited attention span for news articles on issues that have promised “nothing new” for the last few decades. For that reason, and although he is strongly pro-life, articles touching on the issue rarely get his attention: there’s a lot of yelling on all sides, but few if any saying anything new.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is helping to change that, by saying something new, extreme, and rather shocking, and by trying to codify his new words into law. Deacon Greg Kandra sums it up in a particularly good homily:
. . .In New York City today, 40% of all pregnancies, nearly half, end in abortion.
Among minorities, it’s as high as 60%. In some neighborhoods, it’s 67%. And that’s just the beginning. To some, it seems, that’s not enough.
In Albany two weeks ago, the governor of this state proposed an abortion bill that threatens to make New York the bloodiest state in the union.
It would permit unlimited late term abortion on demand – right up to the ninth month.
It would allow people who are not doctors to perform abortions.
It would declare that the “state shall not discriminate” against the right to abortion, a declaration that could threaten the very existence of Catholic hospitals. Long Island alone is home to six hospitals that could be crippled by having Medicare funds withheld if they refuse to comply.
If enacted into law, this bill would declare that abortion is a fundamental right that cannot be denied. No parental notification for minors, no limits on taxpayer funding of abortion, no limits on late-term abortions.
 When I was 16, the hospital my mom worked at shout down the maternity ward (1966 - end of the baby boom).  She found a new job at a Catholic run maternity home.  We moved into a house that was across the street from the hospital, so I got  to see a lot of the "young mothers".

They came from all over the country.  It gave them and their parents a chance to save face - "Oh, Patty is going to school in California for a year."  Which was true.  I saw them crossing the street to school as I was coming and going.  So, the home provided a place to live, school, and a hospital where a young girl could have her baby.  They were also given counseling by social services workers.  Most of the babies were adopted.

The home is still there, and it's gotten larger. 

And yet, more and more every day, we are killing our unborn children in ways that would loudly be declaimed as "inhumane" if we executed murders, or put down our pets in the same way.

Our government is warring against our children, but not against those who threaten us.

It's that simple.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bits and Pieces...

For starters, my first lesson for the Education Portal has been published.  For a definition of "programming", got here: Introduction to Programming

Next, I got my License to Carry today!  Amazingly, I sent the application in yesterday, and got an e-mail early this afternoon to go up to the Sheriff's office to pick it up.  He said they were processing about 100 per day.  And that's just York County!

Finally, this, from Holger Awakens:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Executive Order On Gun Violence? Oh Really....


To: Governor ______________
Rep. __________________
Senator ________________
Senator ________________
State Rep. ______________
State Sen. ______________

From:  (Your Name)
CC: Sheriff ________________

RE: Executive Order Regulating/Banning Firearms in America

I am writing today to remind each of you that any executive order issued by President Barack Hussein Obama dealing with regulating or banning firearms in the United States of America is not a law. An executive order does not follow the constitutionally mandated method of enacting laws in this country and in regards to firearms, the 2nd amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids the infringement of the Federal government on the right of the people to bear arms.

Thus, I am insisting, as a citizen of the State of ___________ and a citizen of the United States of America, that you, as my representatives in a constitutional republic, communicate clearly to me and the other citizens of this state that such an executive order is null and void in this state. I further expect you to enact legislation that spells out in no uncertain terms that the County Sheriff of the counties of this state must prepare a plan to defend the citizens from any sort of harassment, threat or encroachment by any Federal law enforcement official.

I will not follow any such executive order issued and it is your responsibility to be sure that no citizen of this state is duped into believing such an order to be valid.


( Your Name)

 And, that's been my day!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Resolution

Somewhere in the blog-o-sphere, I read a bit on resolutions.  Instead of "Lose 50 pounds, give up drinking, and get the outstanding debts paid off", pick one word.  Post it on the fridge.  Put it in the car.  Make it your desktop.

"Humility" was the first word that popped into mind when I read that.

Dunno if I'm ready for that.  Of course, being the person Koda and Suzu might think I am is way tougher...