Archive for the 'Science' Category


When Management Can’t Manage

It is guaranteed that Management will manage – anything they do can be regarded as ‘managing’. How they manage, and what results from that, are highly variable and uncertain.

There is no way that an outside observer can say, given a particular situation, how a company’s Management will handle it. Without specific foreknowledge of the personnel & practices of Management at that company, no standard of conduct can be applied. This contrasts greatly with the practices of other professions. Medical personnel have, for many situations (including ’emergencies’, which are routine for them), protocols for handling the situations. Engineers, especially for disciplines that depend upon public funding, have practices and formal methods which may be expected to be applied to an arbitrary scenario.

The history of man-made disasters is littered with a detritus that illustrates these points. I do not have the data for a statistical analysis to verify what I believe to be true. I do have numerous anecdotes, from personal experience and from highly-publicized incidents, which have a consistent pattern.

An excellent example is available from the Shuttle Challenger ‘accident’ in 1986. The shuttle, with a crew that included the first participant (a civilian) from the “Teacher in Space Project“, exploded during the ascent after launch.

Shuttle booster engines were solid-rocket boosters (SRBs) which were made in segments. The segments had, at their joints, elastomer O-rings to provide a seal against the hot, high-pressure gases of the SRB. Launches in cold weather had a temperature limit – the O-rings stiffened with cold, and could not provide a seal.

Earlier shuttle launches in cold weather (and within temperature limits) led to Management questioning of Engineering. They asked, in essence, ‘Hey, the O-rings were fine at 6 degrees Centigrade. They’ll do just fine a tad lower, won’t they?’ Since that ‘tad lower’ was not really beyond limits, Engineers conceded the point. Subsequent launches, which managed to broach the limits, brought more insistent appeals from Management: ‘Hey, we flew with no problems 1.5 degrees under limit, so maybe you guys are being too cautious’.

It went on like this until Challenger’s last launch. Engineer Roger Boisjoly did his damnedest to intercede with Management when he learned that launch conditions were the coldest ever. He was over-ruled, and disaster followed.

The fallacy which led Management to cause the disaster is ‘confirmation bias‘. It may have also involved the psychology revealed in the fascinating diversion known as ‘Auctioning a Dollar Bill’. When someone gets around to bidding 99 cents, someone must bid $1 – break even. And at that point, some damn fool will tell himself, ‘It’ll only cost me a penny, and I’ll win!‘. That opens the floodgates, and the dollar bill may find a new, proud, incredibly foolish owner for $5, $10, $50, or more.

A subsequent disaster investigation included Prof. Feynman‘s minority view: “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”

At this writing, we watch the daily horror of oil erupting from a broken well pipe, 1 mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. This economic and environmental disaster will result in reams of analysis and commentary. I offer an anticipatory viewpoint.

There is a lot of excellent Engineering in oil & gas drilling. The BP Deepwater Horizon originally set a ‘blowout preventer’ which is designed to handle ‘worst-case’ scenarios. It has a shear mechanism that is supposed to, either by operator action or by its own backup ‘dead man’s switch‘, cut the well pipe and close it. It failed to do so. It should not have been one device. Blowout preventers are sometimes stacked, providing different mechanisms to shut off a well. They may be stacked with other safety devices. It would have certainly been as prudent to do so for an extremely inaccessible wellhead, as for wellheads in less extreme locations.

An Engineer looking at the situation prior to drilling would do a risk-benefit analysis. What are the risks to equip the well various ways? What are the benefits? Equipping a well with a single blow-out preventer (albeit a version with differing and redundant activation mechanisms) carries a different risk than having redundant blow-out preventers. The benefit of redundancy? A greatly reduced chance of environmental catastrophe.

A Manager would also do a risk-benefit analysis. The risks of having redundant blow-out preventers are clear: higher initial cost, delayed initial oil production, and higher maintenance costs. The benefit is less clear, because to a Manager, a 1-in-1000 chance of disaster is, for that single well, equivalent to zero. I am confident that BP Managers have been saying ‘We couldn’t have anticipated having a huge floating rig explode and sink, severing all control of the blow-out preventer. We chose the most prudent and fiscally sound configuration possible.’

I do wonder if any BP Managers have been considering ‘How much is this costing BP in loss of production, clean-up costs, and lawsuits compared to a more reliable wellhead configuration?

My first assignment for ‘Big E‘, a company which is mostly known for making batteries, was as the first of two support Engineers on one of the two most important joint ventures in all of Big E. By ‘all’, I mean the entire corporation, which then included about 5 other divisions.

The joint venture was for the development and production of a battery charger. This was not, according to the cautious information proffered during my interview, a routine battery charger. It was a Marvel. It could charge tiny batteries extremely rapidly without heating or degrading them. The technology was being provided by the joint venture Partner, a European person of significant eccentricity. He even had a patent.

At 8:00 sharp on the first day with my assignment, I was given the confidential portfolio. It was about 3/4 inch thick. I scanned its somewhat disorganized contents for relevant material, and settled upon The Patent. I did not find a ‘marvel’.

What I did find was comparable to the following. Gardeners sometimes use fertilizer dispensers in-line with a water hose. The dispenser is typically positioned between the hose end and the nozzle. If positioned between the faucet and the hose, the fertilizer would be delivered identically.

The Patent was for a electronic equivalent of that example. A conventional and well-known electronic circuit was patented for having a component in an atypical, but equivalent, position. (The Patent Examiner, we learned months later, had awarded the patent on precisely that narrow basis and not upon any other novelty.) It was a fertilizer delivery device.

An hour with this patent and some supporting documents convinced me that the marvel was bogus. I spent another two hours searching the portfolio to insure that I hadn’t missed some ‘secret sauce’. I had not.

I met with the Boss for a review after lunch. After reviewing his understanding of the situation, and determining that he had nothing surprising to add, I explained the situation. It was something of a revelation to him, although he did have some bewilderment. After all, he had traveled to Europe and had held a tiny battery in his hand while it was charged extremely rapidly without heating – or so it seemed at the time.

The next year & a half was dictated by Corporate Management according to a Stage-Gate Process. A Stage of development was followed periodically by a review and a determination whether to proceed – the Gate. The Stages were pre-planned as if the Project was known to be valid and worthwhile. The Stage-Gate Process served to implement confirmation.

The blatant reality that the project had no technical basis in fact was not a consideration. I was repeatedly assured that later Stages would test the real capabilities of the project. Corporate Management, deeply committed to a pig-in-a-poke that they had loudly and publicly bragged about at its inception, acted as if the puny Engineer’s objections would disappear as each Stage successfully passed its Gate.

No intervening incident could affect their resolute commitment to the Project. A massive fire in a prototype was explained away by the joint venture Partner, who had direct access to Corporate Management both in the offices of Big E and in numerous cocktail lounges.

A Stage, just short of final financial commitment and contractual consummation of the joint venture, arrived to actually test whether the project had a functional, practical, marketable, manufacturable, and profitable product. It did not. The joint venture Partner was a bit delusional about Engineering, for which he was not trained or knowledgeable, so the project was deficient in even routine Engineering aspects.

The second major joint venture was also problematic, and the Corporate Management, which was so easily convinced that they could pick winners, was convinced to find other employment.

I was rewarded, at the next salary review, with the information that one of those departed Corporate Managers had, before he left, ordered my annual salary adjustment cut by 1/3. I guess that settles the question of ‘Who’s to blame?’, huh?

The failings of Engineering are usually exceptions which confirm my assertions. The famous Verrazano Narrows bridge collapse was due to faulty Engineering. A previously unfamiliar phenomenon – vortex generation in winds – combined with natural vibration modes of the bridge to allow a high wind to shake the bridge to bits.

How many bridges since have failed due to ‘resonance phenomena’? Zero.

How many Managers use the same delusional thinking and make the same mistakes as their predecessors? That, unfortunately, is as common as tar balls on a Louisiana beach.

This post is dedicated to Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Teacher in Space,
and Shuttle Challenger crew Francis “Dick” Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Ellison Onizuka,
Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, and Gregory Jarvis.


Poe’s Law was incomplete – Stone’s Law is absolute

I tried. I really, really tried.

‘Dr. Rand Paul, Civil Rights Patriot‘ was a test of subtle interpretation. Many folks, here and on other blogs, took me to be a True Libertarian. My comments that Rand Paul is not a consistent Libertarian were received especially enthusiastically by Libertarians, who take him to be a Traitor.

It was natural that someone (who is more closely aligned to my political & social views) would be sufficiently offended by the parody to describe me as “sickening filth“. No problem there – I understand the confusion.

I offered explanations here and on other blogs ‘Rachel Maddow vs Rand Paul‘, ‘NOW ASK HIM ABOUT BROWN VS. BOARD OF EDUCATION‘, ‘Rand Paul: Views on ADA and the Civil Rights Act‘, & ‘I’m Sure!‘. Some responded in good humor. Others knew better than I !

‘NOW ASK HIM ABOUT BROWN VS. BOARD OF EDUCATION’ changed the original link, “UPDATE. A Paul defender agrees …” to “UPDATE 3. The “Paul defender” mentioned above says in comments that his post was a parody. I want to believe him, but …“. They are willing to consider my comments, thank you muchly.

‘Rachel Maddow vs Rand Paul’ changed the link to Hey! Get This… from “Jim at heygetthis has more” to “Jim at heygetthis has more (although he doesn’t realize it)” after my explanatory comment. My comments truly get short shrift (what the hell is a shrift, anyway? is a long one better?) here.

I quoted Poe’s Law ad nauseum:

Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.

That doesn’t really provide a thorough commentary on my experience in this episode. I propose a new, enhanced version of Poe’s Law. Newtonian Gravity needed Einstein’s General Relativity, so why not make a Good Law even better?

Stone’s Law:

Even with a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t insist, despite overt profferings of revelatory explanation and analysis, to be the real thing.

{ Permission granted under Copyright to re-use this statement
if quoted exactly and completely, including the title “Stone’s Law”. }

People believe that blimps, eerily lit by the nighttime glow of a city, are alien spacecraft or ultra-secret government spy drones.

People believe that, regardless of the realities of Physics, only a bullet fired from the Grassy Knoll could have produced the kinetics (observed and reproduced) of the JFK assassination.

People believe that antibiotics won’t really work unless they offer earnest appeals to a Deity. They also take the antibiotics if they have an infection.

People believe most of what they believe for emotional reasons. Facts, or at least alternative explanations, have such miniscule influence on their thinking that they will not deign to check the facts or examine the alternative explanations.

Herein resides a great strength of Science: it is a system which explicitly guards against superstitious human tendencies. It has mechanisms to correct – even if slowly and frustratingly – errors, misinterpretations, and oversights. Much of the rest of life is, by comparison, a free-for-all, devoid of rules.


Why I Have Always Wanted To Be A Teacher

One of my earliest friends at Caltech, Dr. K, gave me some excellent advice. After I described some of my twisted history from Caltech, he told me that I needed to write an essay on Why I Have Always Wanted To Be A Teacher. Being the open-minded procrastinator that I am, his advice languished on my frontal lobes for months. You may now witness my active response to his friendly and expert advice.

I am the son of a man who loved Science. Dad had an inquisitive and creative mind. Recreation and work were intertwined in his mind, for no recreation could go unstudied, and no job could escape at least a small exploitation for pleasure. It was unavoidable that I would be introduced to Great Wonders, by reading the perpetual supply of National Geographic magazines, by watching the great and beloved ‘Mr. Wizard‘, Don Herbert, or by faithfully reading The Amateur Scientist in ‘Scientific American‘ every month.

I have always loved Science and found joy in discovering nature.

School did not provide the stimulating experiences that I had at home. My classroom experiences were generally frustrating, especially for being a child who tried hard to behave well and as expected while other kids disrupted class.

I can make a difference in students’ experiences as a Teacher.

Several Teachers, in a few special moments that demonstrated their love for others and their ability to teach more than an academic subject, touched my life. My 4th-grade Teacher gave me a simple reassurance, something no other Teacher had devoted one minute to, that saved me from a debilitating personal shame. My 8th-grade Journalism Teacher, in a triumph of practicality over dogmatic control, used my sotto voce whisperings to admonish noisy classmates on the proper way to talk in class. My Senior English Teacher came to my defense when classmates protested my use of a word that they did not know. They complained about the ‘egghead’ vocabulary that ‘no one’ could know the meaning of. She told them that they were the ones who needed correction, and that they should take the opportunity to learn. She told them that I would not have used a word without knowing its meaning. Then, she trusted me enough to put me on the spot and asked me to define the word I had used.

My classroom experiences occasionally included valuable contributions to my life from Teachers.
I want to be like them.

My excellent public-school performance, dandy SAT scores, and guidance by Dad in writing college applications led me to attend the California Institute of Technology – Caltech. This was big-league stuff, a very selective admission to a great incubator of Scientists. I wanted to be a great Physicist. I discovered, through difficulties in college, that I did not yet have the discipline needed to achieve significant things in Science. I also was experiencing a period of spiritual growth, which gave me a heightened concern for the education of the general population, as compared to the education which advanced students experienced. I became determined to contribute to the advancement of Science understanding for the great majority of students who would not become Scientists.

Science research does not need me. Science education needs me.

Caltech did not appreciate my newly-asserted attitude. Caltech liked (oh – I checked: they still do) to quote Theodore Roosevelt, who, in an address at the Throop Institute (later Caltech) on March 21, 1911, called for “the one-hundredth man … with … cultural scientific training …”. They actually take that to mean Science first, culture second. That is fine, but it did not match my goals. When my academic struggles re-occurred, I had the privilege of meeting with the Academic Review Board. They were dis-impressed by my goal to teach, and I was offered an explicit and involuntary opportunity to study elsewhere.

Elsewhere was home. I returned to Springfield, attended MSU (then SMSU), and did what I could to end the agony of college. That meant taking the path of least resistance – a Physics degree. It also meant that, with a newly-acquired fiance, I did not have vast credentials to acquire the necessary employment to provide for The Kids’ Mom. I finagled a job as Test Equipment Technician at the Zenith TV factory. This evolved, in successive steps on the path of least resistance, into an Engineering career.

It was an accident of my life’s history that I did not start my career as a teacher.

The years as an Engineer were not devoid of contact with teaching. The Kids’ Mom was a Teacher (and a mighty good one). I provided occasional help for her preparation for Math and Science classes. Also, as occasionally happened in college, someone (often a co-worker) would need tutoring.

Tutoring, and helping a little with class prep, were too-infrequent
and eagerly-sought opportunities to teach.

Tutoring was strangely unsatisfying. No student ever needed to be tutored twice. Typically, they would seek tutoring while struggling with C‘s and D‘s. After a tutoring session, their test scores would raise by two or three grades – to A‘s and B‘s. They felt comfortable with the material and could handle it without further help.

I can accomplish the ultimate goal of teaching: teaching students to teach themselves.

One of the terminal conversations that I had with my last Engineering boss included a very brief discussion of mentoring. I suggested that my skills and experience were being misused, and that I could, as a minor element of my work, convey my skills and experience to other Engineers. That suggestion was not received favorably. The expedient of assigning me to plug some leak in the dike was judged to be necessary and a 100% full-time commitment.

The biggest disappointment from my Engineering career is that my employers placed no value on mentoring, and refused to devote resources to perpetuating experience and knowledge.

The Little Red-haired Girl has been amazingly supportive, despite the equally amazing frustration of the situation, during my hiatus from employment. She has listened patiently while I re-examined the prospect of becoming a Teacher. She told me “Go for it“. I love her for that. I also love her for being a Teacher – a person who was truly born to teach music. It makes me feel good to be close to such a fine Teacher.

It may not be a coincidence that both The Kids’ Mom and the Little Red-haired Girl are Teachers.

I have recently begun helping in several Middle School Science & Math classes for a few hours a week. It’s a good thing.

Today, Ms. C let me play Teacher. Her 6th-grade Science class got a short presentation on applications of quartz and other piezoelectric materials. It’s a big and noisy class (usually), but they were all quiet and pasted their eyes on me for 10 minutes! They eagerly asked interesting questions and they were interested in each other’s questions.

Today, I tutored a student, ‘Bob’. Bob has certain personal distractions that interfere with learning. I can see that there is progress despite the difficulty, and that my little academic assistance may make it a bit easier, some day, for Bob to overcome the distractions in life.

I have always wanted to be a Teacher because I can do it well, I can make a real difference, and I care about the people I teach.


Dead ‘Ol Pits Society – Grand Canyon of the Colorado

America has a significant contingent of science denialists. This country – which gave the world nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, lasers, da innernet, men on the moon, and the first spacecaft to exit the solar system – is the same country which maintains such profound ignorance as the common belief that Alley Oop‘s companions really were dinosaurs!

Science denialists come in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins ice cream. Some of their differences are extreme, with no possibility of being regarded as differences in emphasis. Nearly all are united in their divine inspiration for deeply-held, irrational, non-objective beliefs which are frequently contradictory. It is a strange facet of religious belief that nearly all adherants to the Immutable and Irrevocable Word of God cannot agree on what it says, and cannot espouse beliefs which do not crumble and mutate when confronted by reality.

My readers remember reality. Most of you are actually on a first-name basis with reality. E v e r y o n e  knows about Galileo (often a bit inaccurately) and his confrontation with Big Religion over geocentrism. The sleight-of-hand that ensued, eventually – with the blatant exemplars of European seafaring globetrotters – is an indisputable disproof of the infallibility of any religion’s Great Earthly Prophet.

Many Americans are simply afflicted with a mild ignorance or confusion, even about things which they studied in school. If you are one such person, I sympathize with you. It can be hard to keep some of this stuff straight in your mind’s bookshelf of stuff. I spend a lot of time doing just that – allow me to be your librarian.

[ View from Grandview Point ]

The Grand Canyon of the Colorado continues to erode and to amaze. It continually offers new discoveries.

It is a typical big ditch, in being formed as the land was lifted, leaving rain to exit the region by ever-deepening channels. We know the age of the Canyon generally, from knowledge of how erosion works. We know the age specifically from excellent technigues such as radioactive-decay dating. It is at least 5-6 million years old.

Some rocks, such as calcite and zircon, can retain uranium [U] in the overall crystal structure. Most importantly, they can’t retain lead [Pb]. Various isotopes (differing weights) of uranium decay radioactively into other elements – eventually into various lead isotopes. Depending upon whether the lead has been lost or not, various measurements of the uranium and lead isotopes reveal the time since the rock was heated above a certain temperature (900C for zircon). The analysis of the measurements uses ratios, not absolute amounts, so the analysis only shows changes due to time.

That explanation may have made your head twizzle and pop. If so, sorry about that! The general knowledge of erosion is (I think) more compelling evidence for you non-science-geeks.

Imagine your kids’ sandbox, with the sand smoothed and almost level – there is a small slope. Now, consider a lawn sprinkler, set to a fine, gentle mist, wetting the sand for a minute every hour or day. You know what would result! You have seen this before – the sand will develop a network of channels, rivulets, and meanders such as seen on many maps.

Next, imagine having the sprinkler set to deliver a continual stream of water onto a small area of the sand. The result will be utterly different than for a mist. There will be straight, deep gouges (gorges?) which will only meander if the sand box is very long.

The mere appearance of the miniature streams and rivers of a sandbox are indicative of the time elapsed during its formation. This time-scale-dependent behavior is fundamental and unavoidable.

Finally, consider the ad hoc explanation for the Grand Canyon offered (insisted upon) by ‘Young Earth Creationists‘. These folks assert, for religious reasons, that the earth is, at most, 10,000 (or maybe 6,000) years old. Their explanation for the Grand Canyon is that it was formed by a cataclysmic flood, produced by the failure of an unknown natural dam. They imagine that the Canyon formed in 1 to 100 years (more than 6,000 years ago).

You know, from observing the real world in a sand box, that a Grand Canyon formed from a cataclysm would be very different from what it actually is. It would be straight, as the flood could not be deflected readily. It would have a large proportion of boulders and large rocks compared to the amount of small rocks and sediment. There would be few branches.

The real Grand Canyon, and the essence of its magnificent beauty, is utterly different from this imaginary alternative. It is branched, meandering, and a prolific producer of sand and silt. Its form exactly matches the erosion processes, slow and certain, which continue to shape it.

Friends, remember that, where an opinion differs from well-developed science by a factor of 1,000 (6 million years versus 6 thousand years), the truth may lie in your own back yard.

Future edition: Dead ‘Ol Pits Society – Barringer Meteor Crater


The Narcoleptic Computer User

My friends, family, and co-workers have often heard me say, “I hate computers“. This attitude, which is merely one aspect of a love-hate relationship of very long standing. The earliest machines, such as my Cromemco boat anchor, were understood to be suitable exclusively for Geeks.

And what (as if you are from an undiscovered culture in New Guinea) is a Geek? A geek is someone who was not merely accepting of the PDP-8 switch panel as a means of entering programs – directly into machine memory in binary form. A Geek is enthralled at having such intimate relations with a technological (albeit sub-sentient) lifeform.

This constitutes my primary defense against claims that I am a Geek. I am, rather frequently, a Geek poseur, a charlatan, a don’t-wanna-be. I am not qualified for Certified Placement in the ranks of Geekhood.

The most profound aspect of my relationship to technology is exemplified by my early experiences with electronics as a hobby. Dad had encouraged my brother, Jack, to try Amateur Radio. Being a ‘Ham‘ fit Jack perfectly. He could exercise his penchant for blather and self-promotion, while engaging his active mind in the technical matters which Hams confronted (and embraced!) in the good-ol’ days.

Dad found radio technology to be most interesting also. He was a person with an extremely wide range of interests. This is exemplified in me. You have noticed, haven’t you? So, of course, I became fascinated by, not just radio gear, but by electronics in general.

Dad would give me drabs of money to supplement the surplus components that Jack acquired from such sources as MARS [Military Affiliate Radio System]. Scrounging was a much more productive means of acquiring components than was Dad’s financing. As a result, I developed a minimalist attitude. In subsequent years, working professionally as an Electronics Engineer, I had a reputation for being able to improve a circuit by removing components. Less, dear friends, can truly be more.

When I encountered a PDP-8, or the estimable and ancient Cromemco Z-80 DOS personal computer, or a digital bathroom scale, or a digital automobile dashboard, I rebelled against technology that was either unnecessarily complicated or insufficiently adapted to use by (non-Geek) Humans.

Even the deeply sophisticated and massively researched personal computer is fool’s technology. We should only approach these creations of a Subservient Master as we would approach a prisoner in Ad-Seg: with full ballistic- and penetrating-weapon armor, and heavy clubs, with a massive excess of force.

The day came again, recently, when the Machine in the Office sensed a lull in my attention. It struck me at my most vulnerable moment.

I have a combination of traits which can conspire to deprive me of sleep. One is a familial tendency toward anxiety. It isn’t always simple worry. Anxiety can also manifest as an insistence on thinking things through completely. That may take time, even at the expense of sleep. Work and play can offer an appropriate distraction, so I may work and play when sleep is needed. There may be no other choice.

Another trait is a mild sleep disturbance. It is a confusion between sleep and waking. A heavy sleep that is interrupted by something which demands attention can immediately transform into utter, dog-tired wakefullness.

That day which came, came after an episode of nearly zero sleep in 36 hours.

The Machine in the Office, the ‘personal’ computer, developed a major hiccup. I was beyond competence. I screwed it up beyond any intentions of the Machine in the Office. I precipitously and irrevocably performed a complete re-install.

Subsequently, after sleep and recuperation, I realized the extent of lost data and the fact that its loss was avoidable. Avoidable, that is, by a rested and halfway-competent person. The Machine had won.

If you need help with that Machine in Your Office, I could probably help you. All you have to do is make sure that I have slept when you call. Just don’t call me a Geek.


Cadmium and Kids – WARNING

It’s time to remind your friends and family who have small children:


Imports of some metal jewelry and toys from China have been found to contain high levels of cadmium. Read Cadmium Kids’ Jewelry: Toxic Metal Found. This is a highly toxic metal, with insidious effects similar to those of lead if ingested by chewing or swallowing.

There are important industrial uses of cadmium. In my field – electronics – cadmium is a vital anti-corrosion coating material for equipment such as wiring connectors. Such proper uses for cadmium never expose children.

I emailed Senators Bond and McCaskill, and Rep. Blunt, to request that they contact the appropriate agencies for emergency action.

Rep. Blunt’s staff replied 29Jan2009 with an email about lead legislation (which does not concern cadmium). I responded with a renewed request. A reply is pending.

Senator McCaskill has not responded.

Senator Bond’s staff contacted me by phone this afternoon. The staffer informed me that, 3 days ago, Senator Schumer has introduced Senate Bill S2975 Safe Kids’ Jewelry Act. Read SCHUMER LEGISLATION TO BAN TOXIC HEAVY METAL CADMIUM FOUND IN CHILDREN’S JEWELRY. Senator Bond will follow the Environment and Public Works Committee findings and then consider whether to co-sponsor and support the bill. I asked the staffer to tell Sen. Bond that I hope that he does so as soon as possible.

The WalMart perspective: Wal-Mart Pulling Children’s Jewelry With Toxic Metals.

Contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives. Tell them that S.2975 is urgently needed.


Dentistry & Glaciers

Unless you are that rare person who has exceptionally hard tooth enamel, and also brushes and flosses as enthusiastically as the IRS inspects 1040‘s, you know a few things about Dentistry. The things we know are mostly superficial. The average dental patient knows that there are anaesthesia, x-rays, drills, fillings, and crowns. That average dental patient doesn’t know about the neurobiology of anaesthesia, electromagnetic theory of x-rays, special materials and mechanics of dental drills, or materials and mechanical interactions of fillings and crowns with teeth.

Such a state of minimal knowledge is ok. We don’t need to know much, because we have many very good Dentists – experts, all – to handle the difficulties. They do this for us because they enjoy their profession, and because we pay them.

→ Hey! Time for a reader poll


Criteria of Truth – observations

Criteria of Truth
1  Authority
2  Coherence
3  Consensus gentium
4  Consistency (mere)
5  Consistency (strict)
6  Correspondence
7  Custom
8  Emotions
9  Instinct
10  Intuition
11  Majority rule
12  Naive Realism
13  Pragmatic
14  Revelation
15  Time
16  Tradition
 – from Wikipedia Criteria of Truth

→ Hey! Criteria, meet observations

♥ Help for Haiti ♥


Basic Understanding

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.
- Edward R. Murrow

Intellectual Property Notice

All original material Copyright James R. Stone 2010, except where specifically noted. Some images licensed under Creative Commons, or GNU Free Documentation License, or unlicensed and public domain.

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