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NASA on Record Keeping

This is from January's edition of wired. a photo of the original transmission of the lunar landing Read more »


Service Industry Woes

In the state of Texas a Licensed Massage Therapist is required to take 6 hours of approved continuing education classes a year to renew their license. The purpose of this requirement I presume is to ensure that therapists not only continue to expand their knowledge base but also stay up to date on their current knowledge and skills. In general this policy tends to work out pretty well.

It means that even if a therapist is not currently working in their field, they still have to take classes directly related to massage therapy in order to maintain their licenses. Unfortunately like most government regulations there are always unintended consequences.

Some employers for example have turned their own required training classes into CEU classes (continuing education units). This is not necessarily a bad thing. It can actually be a cheap and efficient way to get both specific job training and your required CEU's at the same time. I know of a chair massage business that does just that. They however require the class only for those who haven't already taken a chair massage training class, and it is a condition of initial employment.

My current employer (whom I have been with for approximately 6 months) seems to have managed to maximize the negative consequences of this law. At the corporate level they recently decided to require all of their therapists to take a 6-hour class on customer service. The catch is that we not only do not get paid for our time, but are required to pay them for it (or more specifically one of their own therapists who is teaching the class). Read more »


Today\'s Headlines

Today is apparently a surreal day for headlines:

From Cnn.com: Mystery Odor Settles Over Manhattan

New York officials evacuated a number of buildings and shut down some trains after a mysterious gaslike odor was reported Monday.

A New York Police Department spokesman said an air quality test determined that the air is not hazardous, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said there is no indication terrorism was involved.

Perhaps our next source of terror-paranoia: The Stinky Bomb (or rather the oddly-smelling-bomb) :mrgreen:. Read more »


Health Insurance makes me Ill

Every now and then I hear about how x percent of people in my age group, 18-35, do not have health insurance. Up until acquiring health insurance myself through my job with a large national retailer, I had not realized what a pain in the @$$ health insurance really is. I actually had thought for a while there that the reason so many in my relative demographic didn't have it was because it was a big expense that we were not entirely convinced was worth it (that was my position age 18 -23 ). Of course that was unless it turned out you had cancer or some other expensive illness which usually seems unlikely regardless of whether or not it is.

Now that I am trying to leave the retail world for a full time job as a massage therapist I've discovered how tricky health/medical insurance really is. I've been looking for a plan comparable to my part-time medical plan at Home Depot. The best I have found has not quite as good of coverage for a little over twice what I am paying now, and the price increases each year. The high cost is due in no small part to the fact that I'm female in my child-bearing years - it seems the ability to get pregnant is sort of a liability in the health insurance world. I find this incredibly ironic. It turns out getting affordable health insurance when you have a working uterus is almost like winning the lottery. It happens more by accident than by intent. My new employer has a plan with high deductibles and very limited coverage that I have been told by my coworkers isn't really worth paying for. Read more »


I\'m Person of the Year! (its about time)

:twisted:

From Reason online: Read more »


Guess What I did Last Week...

This is a picture of me on site of Extreme Makeover Home Edition. The reason you see only me and very little interesting details in the background is because we had to sign releases agreeing not to "disclose any information" about the show. Thus all I will say was that it involved a house in Austin... Read more »


Amusement at the ballot
















This was on my ballot today in austin, TX. The one on the right is my rough recreation of the bad picture I got with the cell phone I wasn't supposed to have in the voting booth.

In Texas you don't even have to read the ballot if you don't want to... :twisted:


Where\'s The Debate?

A long time ago Science to me was this great place. A land (so to speak), of great intellect, of stimulating ideas, and developing technologies. A place where ideas were tried and tested, concepts and creatures were discovered, and every interpretation of data, whether it be from scientific observation or experimentation, was thoroughly scrutinized and rigorously debated.

Of course this is a fairly idealized view of science, there is plenty of un-stimulating, and uninteresting science out there, regardless debate is something I have always considered to be necessary in science. The more complex the phenomenon being observed, the greater the necessity of debate and the more credible debate (as in debate by scientists/experts in the field with knowledge of the subject in question) there should be regarding the different aspects of that phenomenon. Read more »


The Trouble with other People\'s Pets

Imagine you are frequenting a large retail store on a hot summer day. As you are leaving you notice a dog in an unattended car with windows cracked. You notice the temperature is 103 degrees fahrenheit. Do you:

A. Call local government authorities in charge of policing animal cruelty.
b. ignore it and decide its none of your business.
c. break into the car to let the dog out.
d. Convince store personel to make an announcement about the dog so the owner will check on their pet.
e. other... Read more »


Functional Limitations of Consensus

Imagine an organization that governs itself through a "consensus decision-making process."
The underlying goal of "consensus decision-making" is to arrive at decisions that everyone involved can "live with." In that way you empower minority opinions, encourage dissent to be shared, encourage creative resolution of problems, discourage the formation of cliques and voting blocks, and avoid hierarchical decision making.

In the early years of this organization "consensus" is an essential part of community-building. It is a way to get everyone to feel and be involved with the decisions of the group. It fostered understanding, critical thinking, creative problem solving, and friendship. Everyone knows everyone else and generally cares what the other people think and how they feel about decisions and issues.

At some point between a organizational population of 80 and 120 the process slowly stops working so well. Its hard to know everybody, some old members have moved on, and there are many new faces. But most old committees are still made up of the old members, meanwhile fewer and fewer people are attending the governing meetings in which major decisions are made. More people join the group who are only interested in the more peripheral activites of the organization and are not especially interested in spending time discussing procedural decisions. Read more »


Idol Finale

The American Idol finale is tonight, and I got my long since disipated wish of seeing Katherine McPhee in the finale 2. Though she was one of my early favorites about halfway through the top twelve I became a big Paris fan. As expected this year there were big upsets around the top 4 and 5 positions. That's about the time when as my own theory goes, many people start voting for their second favorite person or perhaps favorite who they think is perhaps not as good as someone else but that they do not want to see knocked out of the competition just yet. Tamyra Gray and Constantine Maroulis come to mind as contestants that got booted at that point.

So the theory goes like this "Everyone will vote for Tamyra cuz she's the favorite, but not everyone's going to vote for Nikki, she needs my vote more..." Anyhow its just a guess but it would explain why so many favorites/sure things seem to disappear just shy of the bottom 3. As for the current finale, I've always been a fan of both Taylor and Katherine, though I was suprised Taylor made it as far as he did. I expected his less polished performance style would get him booted previous to the top 6. However he's gotten significantly better, enough so that I actual think he's got a better shot of winning tonight than Katherine. Read more »


The Treatment Of Homosexuals Under Communism

In the early years of the cold war between the United States and Russia, shortly after world war II had ended when Russia was developing and testing atomic bombs of their own and the U.S. was mired in the paranoia that we later called McCarthyism, a connection was drawn between a political ideology, communism, and a sexual orientation, homosexuality.

You can't hardly separate homosexuals from subversives. ... Mind you, I don't say that every homosexual is a subversive, and I don't say every subversive is a homosexual. But [people] of low morality are a menace in the government, whatever [they are], and they are all tied up together.

-- Senator Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska, New York Post, December 1950

Meanwhile, homosexuals who actually were members of the American Communist Party were consistently thrown out of the organization when their orientation was discovered. Though most non-state affiliated communist and socialist organizations of today tout the importance of equality and liberty for sexual minorities, the history of oppression of gays, lesbians, and other sexual minorities by communist and socialist states (some of which continues to this day) is a long and sad one.

From its earliest roots Marxist ideology has struggled with the place and treatment of homosexuality in society.

From Wikipedia "Socialism and LGBT Rights":

From the earliest European homosexual rights movements, activists such as Karl-Heinrich Ulrichs and Magnus Hirschfeld approached the Left for support. During the 1860s, Ulrichs wrote to Karl Marx and sent him a number of books on Uranian (homosexual/transgender) emancipation, and in 1869 Marx passed one of Ulrich's books on to Engels. Engels responded with disgust to Marx in a private letter, lashing out at "pederasts" who are "extremely against nature", and described Ulrichs' platform of homosexual rights as "turning smut into theory".


And on a Much Lighter Note...

This is the only warning you get that I'm about to clamor on again about American Idol. Anyone who complains will be laughed at... but feel free :kiss:

Its finally Queen night, Woo HOO!!!

Thus far we have lost 4 contestants in the top 12, and I haven’t been disappointed with losing any of them. Melissa McGee was eminently forgettable. Then there was Kevin Covais. He was one of my early favorites, but had started to get a little boring. Really he just wasn’t especially good at emoting, and his snappy comments to Simon were starting to make him seem like a bit of a jerk. On Song’s of the Millennium night we lost Lisa, who I thought was a pretty good singer but who mysteriously decided to pick the worst Kelly Clarkson song ever produced to sing. After nearly getting voted off the previous week I really expected her to improve her song choice. Two weeks of bad performances of bad songs is a contestant asking to leave I think. Read more »


Outsourcing Time-Wasting

Once upon a time (2002) in a land far, far away (North Georgia) I had a job in which I literally wasted people's time. That wasn't my job description and it wasn't the only thing I did, but it qualifies as a description of one of programs I had to do. I worked at an inbound call center of a telemarketing company. Most of the programs were fairly basic, such as taking after hours and weekend catalog orders for companies that sold vitamins (collectibles, medicine, chocolate etc.) , and taking credit card applications for various large banks. In other words we were the voice on the end of a handful of 1-800 numbers.

During this time interest rates were steadily declining and the result was a refinancing boom. Thousands of homeowners all wanted to refinance their homes at the same time. There was a general sense among these homeowners (thanks in no small part to the marketing efforts of their banks) that if the refinancing didn't happen immediately interest rates were going to go back up, and they would miss their chance. Meanwhile there was a certain large national bank who had spent the past decade buying up mortgages from other smaller banks. Read more »


Drunk In Texas

From The Houston Chronicle online:

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) is sending undercover officers into bars to look for the exceedingly drunk, issuing citations or making arrests for public intoxication even if the patrons haven't left the building.

"Drinking is fine," said agency spokeswoman Carolyn Beck. "But when people drink too much, they become dangerous to themselves and other people."

And there's more... Read more »