Thursday, September 15, 2011

So, How Well Did The Christchurch, NZ, Sewage System Endure Their Various Earthquakes?

An optimist would say the sewage pipe was half full; a pessimist would say the sewage pipe was half empty. A Christchurch resident would say that a sewage pipe that isn't intact is worse than useless.

Then They Came For The Bloggers

Disturbing news from Mexico regarding how Los Zetas appear to have targeted social media users.

Since traditional media throughout Mexico is now mostly under the thumb of the narcotraficantes, social media is one of the very few outlets available to discover what is really going on there. The narcos no doubt want to control social media, and the people who use social media. Fear, as always, is their weapon of choice. Social media has an ally in numbers, and in anonymity, but fear may win out.

I read, and sometimes blog from, El Blog del Narco, one of the two named targets of this outrage. El Blog del Narco has many weaknesses - it's sensationalistic, it's incomplete, it's sometimes poorly-edited - but considering the pressures under which it operates it's amazing it exists at all. All bloggers owe it to our southern brethren to support what they do, amplify what they say, and probe further ourselves when they can't.

The narcos will someday extend their reach north of the border and attempt to control traditional and social media here too. Bloggers here may eventually fall under their shadow. Right now, what we can do is use that freedom that we still have and continue reporting on what is going on with respect to Mexico and the narcotraficantes, and also to report on what they are doing in the U.S. In particular, I am disturbed at what I see is a growing alliance between private U.S. militias, gun shows, conservative politicians, and the thriving gun trade that keeps the narcotraficantes in business. Some of the collateral damage resulting from recent GOP attacks against the ATF for its fumbled Fast and Furious program will be a weakened U.S. defense against the cartels. That was by design, in my book.

Several weeks ago, there was a story in the media regarding the U.S. government bias against Los Zetas, and thus tacit support for the Sinaloa Cartel. That's an understandable bias - Los Zetas are nuts on a scale no one else can approach! - but still, it's a dangerous game.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mammals Love Lolling Around Together On The Beach

Living At The Edge Of Curtis Park, I Guess I'm Just Unlucky With The Graffiti

Left: Here is the new graffiti, on a wall just down the alley from where I live.

What is this, exactly? I don't know. It doesn't seem to be trendy. I don't think it helps the neighborhood in any way.

Southern California has better graffiti than we seem to have in Sacramento. Heck, Albuquerque has better graffiti! Spectacular street murals (see below)!

But here at the edge of Curtis Park, at the edge of respectability, at the edge of a lot of things, there's no edge when it comes to graffiti.

Left: Mural at the South Valley Economic Development Center, in Albuquerque.

Left: This brilliant mural is on the side of a convenience store just west of the Rio Grande River on Bridge Blvd, in Albuquerque.

Emmanuel Kelly - X Factor Australia 2011

Bruce sends this.

Breaking Bad promo (The Simpsons)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Watching The GOP Debate With E.

E.: MMMMMAAAAARRRRRCCCC! That woman (Michelle Bachmann) is right! They shouldn't inject girls with vaccines without their parents' permission!

M.: Well, I think it depends. You want public health doctors to have enough power to inject people, even against their will, if there was some kind of plague. And you want the option to refuse injections if the illness just isn't bad enough, like maybe the flu. I don't know enough about this cervical cancer to say, however.

E.: Over at the school it is so frustrating! Today was the deadline for the TDAP vaccines. Everyone has to be covered starting tomorrow, but I've been calling and calling and calling the parents, and so many don't even speak English and they don't return my calls and the kids aren't getting vaccinated and I don't get enough help from anybody and now the deadline is here!

M.: That sounds terrible!

E.: It's terrible! They are going to blame me, but I've been trying and trying and trying! But if I lose my job, at least I can get some Social Security income.

M.: Not if these candidates have anything to say about it. They all hate Social Security, and want to get rid of it.

E.: That's terrible!

M.: I know, that's terrible!

E.: MMMMMAAAARRRRCCCC! What am I going to do?

M.: We've never registered you to vote, have we?


Applied mathematics:
The police department in Santa Cruz, California, has begun an experiment that uses a mathematical algorithm to predict when and where certain crimes will be committed, and puts police on the scene before they happen.

So far police have arrested five people using this technique of "predictive policing" and the rates of certain categories of crimes in the city have dropped significantly, perhaps as a result. The program has correctly predicted 40 percent of the crimes it was designed to monitor.

...The program comes from the field of applied mathematics or operations research, and the algorithm was developed by a 29-year-old mathematician at Santa Clara University.

Other mathematical techniques have been developed to predict crimes, most famously Compstat, used in the mid-90s by the New York City Police Department to track serious crimes, like those depicted in the Minority Report. The Santa Cruz program, which does not appear to have a name, concentrates of property crimes, such as car break-ins and burglaries.

The program was developed by George Mohler, an assistant professor of mathematics.

The algorithm he uses is based on computations used to predict aftershocks following a large earthquake.

The heart of the program is the belief that criminals often commit a second or third crime in the same location and the same time as a first successful crime. For example, if a burglar is successful breaking into a home at 2 p.m. in a certain neighborhood because no one is home, the criminal will use that experience to do it again to another house in the same neighborhood around the same time.

In the case of Santa Cruz, on California's central coast and home to a University of California campus, that would be about four days later.

The algorithm knows this because Mohler has fed eight years of data on crimes in Santa Cruz into the algorithm.

He first tested the notion in Southern California's San Fernando Valley with data from the Los Angeles Police Department. After a story about the project appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Zach Friend, a crime analyst at the Santa Cruz department contacted Mohler and gave him data from 2002-2010. Uniquely, the data is updated daily, something other programs like Compstat don't do.

As more data is slipped into the algorithm, the program is believed to get more accurate.

"The overall model is based on the belief that crime is not random," Friend said."So with enough data points you could predict where and when it will happen."

Breaking Bad - For Laughs

Gotta bookmark this site!

A Superlab made from Legos:

An Anniversary Cake:

Exotic Wildlife Comes From New Jersey

I wondered where that exotic wildlife came from:
Authorities have charged a New Jersey man who owned four tortoises, including one weighing between 500 and 600 pounds.

Richard Hines Jr. of the Highlands is charged with possession of exotic species without a permit.

State Environmental Protection Department spokesman Larry Ragonese says neighbors reported what they described as "crying" by the tortoises and were feeding them. The tortoises were being kept in the yard on Sept. 1.

...The reptiles were taken to the Popcorn Park Zoo in Lacey Township Tuesday for evaluation.

What's The Difference Between A Cow And 9/11?

I did everything to avoid the morbid celebrations on Sunday. I swear, over the last decade, the United States has become something like a photo-negative Orwellian version of a Shiite Paradise, with cults of the martyrs, orgies of self-flagellation and banging of the war drum. I will not play along with this American police state. I'm from a better, freer past. Endless war, my ass. Like George Orwell said:
"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."
I will not cooperate with that future!

J. sent this:
After watching today's coverage of the anniversary of the terrorist attacks I have to pass along this riddle from reddit.

Q: What's the difference between a cow and 9/11?

A: You stop milking the cow after 10 years.

Saw A Portion Of Last Night's GOP Debate

What I saw was interesting: like watching a morbid version of the Hitler auditions (from "The Producers").

I missed this bit here, which just encapsulates the GOP's many problems in years to come: their tendency to equate Latinos with illegals, no matter where they might have been born.

Carla Says They're Already Doing A New Video!

After "Heartbreaker" (filmed in May), Carla and crew are already onto something new.

Carla asked about my reaction to the 'Heartbreaker' video: "Were you shocked?"

I replied: "No, not by the video, but by the fact so many people in it were so familiar!"

"Oh, it was the 'Let's Go!' group," she replied. "Gabby, Ana Marie, Nani: just everyone in 'Let's Go!'" (posts from 2009 and 2010; video post from 2008).

Once again, and with best wishes for Carla's new project!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sahiti - Jiya Jale - X-Factor India

Next week, X-Factor USA premieres, and it is possible friend Jetta will be shown.

But that's next week. First, this.

Blundering Raccoon

Driving north on 21st Street about 11:45 p.m. Sunday night, I nearly flattened a raccoon crossing the street between U and V Streets. Raccoons have been in the news recently, causing trouble all over California, like ganging up and attacking dogs, and the like. Yet it wasn't until fairly recently that I was even aware of their existence in the Sacramento urban forest.

Their numbers must be up....

On Patrol

On Saturday afternoon, I stood on my back porch, and heard a sharp, single call from a Scrub Jay in the trees. Not the usual two Scrub Jay calls, but one, and very loud too. Then, silence, and not just from Scrub Jays: silence from all birds, excepting a few distant pigeons. The normal sparrow chatter disappeared altogether. What was the matter?

In an instant, a hawk swooped in from over the house and into the yard and landed on an oak tree branch. The hawk surveyed the yard with predatory disdain for several seconds, then continued flying north.

I was silent too. No use attracting attention, if you know what I mean!