Political Humor (& truth) At Its Best

I think the political party that best represents me is that of Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert. And one of the best stump speeches I’ve heard from them is below:        

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Paul Ryan’s Misleading GOP Convention Speech
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Thoughtful. Funny. Sad. Paradoxical. I love the turbulent ambiguity of it all.

CO2 Breaks 650,000 Year Old Record

 This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Source: NOAA)

This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Source: NOAA)

Being a Keynesian, budget deficits were my biggest government policy concern for about 25 years. After all if the US had stretched its credit too far then during a fiscal crisis it couldn’t borrow what was needed for enough fiscal stimulus.

Then I began to read about and understand climate change issues. I harkened back to a time I was watching the Today Show while getting ready for school and one of the hosts had a globe on their desk. They said the ink on the globe was as thick as a something like over half the atmosphere. I remember how shocked I was that such a thin layer of air made such a difference to a planet. (I recalculated this. There would have to be quite a few layers of ink to be that thick, the thickness of a human hair is much closer to the size.1) With something so thin we had to be very very careful.

CO2’s greenhouse effects can be measured in a laboratory. The only question is how much of it is piling up in the atmosphere when mile long coal trains were rolling by my old house three times an hour, and I’m stopped in miles of cars all burning their gasoline.

The chart above is showing not all of the CO2 is being absorbed as new records are being established.


Koshda Laying In Cedar Chest

Koshka my cat laying in a cedar chest.

This is my cat named Koshka, Russian for cat. Two years ago when I first met her she was a couple minutes away from being called roadkill. It was one of those 100°F weekend days when I was off to get some milk and other groceries. After waiting for the light to change in an underpass I drove up and across the intersection.

There I saw a not infrequent sight, some animal, from the looks of it a small opossum or raccoon, in the middle of my lane. Just as I was about to drive over it, or should I say straddling it with my tires so as not to make a mess, this roadkill looked up directly at me and meowed.


I was so stunned I might have said this out loud as I looked in the rear view mirror to see the several cars I was leading through the intersection seem to be driving over the animal, probably not even seeing it. For a few moments I’m thinking about the moral calculus of what I’d seen. Perhaps I could go get my milk and come back the same way and see if there was anything to be done? And what was to be done?

I thought of a moment when I was a boy, hearing a high pitched sound, wondering what it was in our backyard. Going out I discovered our neighbor’s rat terriers had caught a baby bunny entangled in the fence trying to escape. The skin was flayed off it’s leg and it was screaming, making a noise I’d never heard rabbits make before or since. Our neighbor and terrier owner had come out by then and taken it tenderly in his hands where he explained to me he’d have to kill it in a moment since it was going to die anyway.

Thinking of all this in those few moments it was obvious I could not wait until I had my precious latte making milk, if I was to do anything at all. No animal should die like the one in the road.

I turned the van around at the earliest spot, drove past the animal now in the other lane, and did one more possibly illegal U-turn, stopped in the lane, blinkers flashing. I got out of the van with a plastic sack in my hand to keep things a little clean and picked up this bloodied beast. She was as limp as a rag, appeared to already be unconscious, and was panting furiously, a very reasonable thing I thought since the asphalt pavement she was laying on had to be well over 120°F on this blistering day.

I was no vet, and all I could go on was my EMT training from years ago. Cool her off as fast as I could I thought, since her hyperthermia was the most life threatening issue, then deal with the rest. So the van’s A/C went on high and all of it directed to the floor vents, where she was laid. As soon as I got home I put her into the shower/tub and turned the water on cool (not shockingly cold) and sprayed her with my handheld shower head.

Koshka's First Few Minutes With Me

Koshka getting an emergency cooling shower after finding her unconscious on the street.

Here’s a picture I sent as it was happening to my wife in Colorado at the moment. After 5 or ten minutes of this she stood up and staggering away from this cold injustice, a good sign I thought since obviously she hadn’t broken her neck. I gently dried her off, wondering if she’d loose her eye which was where most of the blood seemed to be coming from and put her into the dog cage I had with my rat terrier and min pin VERY interested in this small possible fun thing to chase.

She didn’t eat much the first couple days. I was being threatened with being laid off so I wasn’t going to spend money on a possibly feral unhappy cat and decided to let nature take it’s course before deciding where I went from there. In a few days she was alert but you couldn’t pull her fur away and look for a minute at her skin before you’d see parasites scampering around. Some flee and tick shampoo took care of all that and soon she was laying in my printer tray to be near me as I worked most evenings.

So now as I write this in the middle of the night (because my neck pain is keeping me awake again) she lays beside me purring her beautiful purr. I look at her out of kilter eye and I’m reminded that even when things are looking at there worst, even when it looks like there’s only moments left of life, things can suddenly change all around again, and you can end up loved, and fed good food daily, and lay on a nice comfortable couch purring away. Life is very interesting and curious isn’t it?

Girl Named Florida

As I mentioned in the previous post, by adding the condition that a family with two children has a girl named Florida the odds go from 1:3 to 1:2 that the other child is a girl.

Florida was one of the top 1000 female names between about 1900-1930 according to Mlodinow and the Social Security office. But now let’s say it’s a 1:1,000,000 name for girls. The possibilities for families include (assuming they won’t have two girls named Florida): (b,b), (b,n), (b,F), (n,b),(n,F), (n,n), (F,b), (F,n), where b=boy, n=girl not named Florida, F=girl named Florida.

Since we know the family has a girl named Florida we can throw out (b,b), (b,n), (n,b), and (n,n). That means there are 4 ways to have two children families with a girl named Florida, (b,F), (n,F), (F,b), and (F,n), two ways with boys and two ways without.

For more nuanced analysis of this problem check out:
There once was a girl named Florida (a.k.a Evil problems in probability)
Two-Child Paradox Reborn?

Odds of a Girl

I read great new book called The Drunkard’s Walk which is essentially about how the random effects our lives more than we imagine. He had a number of interesting examples of how to think in these terms, all pointing to the importance of asking the right questions and thinking about how to answer it right ways.

For instance if you ask, “A family has two children, one of which is a girl. What are the chances the other one is too?” The answer is 1:3. That’s because we know there are the following combinations possible in birth order: (girl, boy), (girl, girl), and (boy, girl). The (boy, boy) combination is ruled out by what was said about the family. So three equal possibilities, odds are 1:3 that the family would be (girl, girl).

Ah but what if one of the children were named Florida? What then of the odds? It turns out to be 1:2. I’ll show you how in my next post.

Ann Barnhardt:This Person Doesn’t Look Like A President!

Sign on I-70 just outside Ft Riley.

Sign on I-70 just outside Ft Riley.

Going to and from Denver on I-70 we see this sign (going eastbound)  just outside to Ft Riley. I find this a likely example of Republican cognition. It also seems to be put up by a person who doesn’t understand what Marxism is or who wants to throw a scary term around for her own reasons. It was so interesting I had to take the exit and take a picture.

Joining Google Fiberdom

Friday we got the card from Google. Google Fiber is getting ready to deliver their services to KC, the first in the country. What a great city! It will bring us:

  • 1 gigabit upload and download speed
  • Lots and lots of HD channels
  • Nexus 7 tablet (used as the remote and for other things)
  • TV Box
  • Storage Box (for the storage or those shows we miss while away)
  • Network Box
  • 1TB Google Drive

All for $120/mo + taxes and fees.

The interesting thing about this is Google is having a neighborhood race of sorts. To preregister takes $10. Those neighborhoods that met preregistration goals first get installed first. To see where my neighborhood is check out Strawberry Hill Fiberhood here.

Stewart the Public Artist

One of the most important and fun events of my summer was my son, Stewart Losee, coming to town and installing his new art piece, as part of a public art grant that he and a few others won.

KC Star Interview

Stewart with the KC Star reporter getting a sidewalk interview.

I was his assistant installing for 12 hours one day and another 8 hours a few days later. It was both exhausting, especially in these 100° days, and rewarding to help my son complete a major showing in his career.

KC is a big art town with one of the country’s better art schools, Stewart’s alma mater The Kansas City Art Institute, so these public art works get in the news. He was interviewed by the reporter on the sidewalk (see the Kansas City Star article) as he was scoping out the scene.

As part of his grant, and because of his own interest, Stewart built his own computer controlled router from the frame. He fabricated the pieces in New York and brought them out to KC. In the mean time a printer in KC printed his triangular plastic images and cut them out on a $2 million machine which was really a complicated X-Acto blade.

Assembling on Back Fence

Stewart assembling on the back fence.

Since his design could be configured in many ways, he started putting it together after seeing the conference center. Assembly was in the late cool(er) evenings. My back fence became an alien art show with neighbors pointing out the strange design to their young children. Unfortunately the images were just a tiny-weenie bit too big. Hours of trimming ensued.

The big twelve-hour day saw three of us (a shout out to Tim for helping) moving the assembly back to the site, more trimming, and the biggest challenge of all: lifting this now heavy beast up onto the wall of the downtown conference center. Three of us barely got the job done.

Stewart With his Former Faculty Adviser

Stewart with his former faculty adviser.

Shortly afterwards there was the party and presentation of grant winners up the block at the Folly Theater. It was a great dad moment to see my son as the youngest grant winner, him showing his former art faculty adviser his latest work, and overhearing her say she could see how he was continuing directions he’d started back in the art school. Maybe all that tuition was worth it!

He’s at stewartlosee.com.