Knowledge Base: Avatars, Profiles, Posts, and Comments

A series of changes recently made to the site are intended to improve navigation around the site and make it easier to keep track of your own activity and that of other members.  For complete implementation details, see the posts on the Updates group, which is usually updated around 22:00 UTC on any day in which the site’s software or configuration has been changed.

Avatars are the small round images which identify users.  Users can upload their own avatars or use avatars posted on the Gravatar site under the same E-mail address they used when registering their Ratburger membership.  Avatars appear on main page posts and comments, and on group posts and comments, along with the user’s name, which identifies people who haven’t uploaded an avatar image.  For likes on posts and comments, only avatars are shown, but you can “mouse over” or “hover” above the avatar to see the user’s name as a pop-up title.  On almost every place you see an avatar on the site, you can click it to display the user’s Profile page.

Profile pages are a one-stop shop for information about users.  A user’s profile shows you:

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Below this information is a menu which allows you to view additional information about the user, including:

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In addition, when viewing your own profile, additional information is available such as Notifications and Messages, plus the ability to edit most of the profile fields.  When viewing your own posts and comments, there are links that let you edit them.

(A note on “Party card numbers”: some users will have party card numbers which are greater than the number of members shown in the “At a Glance” section of the Dashboard.  This is because these numbers [formally, within the WordPress software, user IDs] are assigned when an account is created and never reused.  If an account fails to complete registration, is closed,  or is banned due to spamming or other misbehaviour, it will have a party card number which corresponds to no active account.  Like many other parties, Ratburger has “unpersons”.)


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Not bad so far

Seems like the world is shifting under our feet.

Israel drops an intelligence bomb on Iran, right after the two EU heads try and keep the Obama deal going.

NAFTA is really ending up as dealing with China using it as a backdoor.

The Media is being led to put really bad imagery on camera- the caravan of refugees climbing the existing fence, the WHCD desperation comic, the North and South Korea historic moment and James Comey looking more and more like a weasel every day.

Kanye West decides to lead the “Get off the Democrat Plantation” concept as the next big thing, moving the leadership of “the movement” stumbling over their tongues.

Meanwhile, jobs are there for those who want them and wages are rising.

Damn, this feels good. I feel my grandkids just might have a shot at the best country on earth.

I look at POTUS and think he may have the same nerves as the guy in this picture.

That is an 80 foot wave being surfed.

Trump may be the one who redeems the sins of the Boomer generation.

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TOTD 2018-5-1: Quotes by Rob Schneider

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2018/04/30/alec-baldwin-says-rob-schneider-has-point-in-criticism-snl-trump-impersonation.html

I read the above article and it made a lot of sense. It comes from the viewpoint of comedy has been lost.

 

 

 

Well, what are your thoughts, nutjobs? 


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This Week’s Book Review – The Downfall of Galveston’s May Walker Burleson

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday. (Or Monday, if I spent Sunday traveling.)

Seawriter

Book Review

Book captures early 1900s era Galveston perfectly

By MARK LARDAS

Apr 24, 2018

“The Downfall of Galveston’s May Walker Burleson: Texas Society Marriage and Carolina Murder Scandal,” by T. Felder Dorn, History Press, 2018, 192 pages, $21.99

There is something distinctive about a society murder when it involves a Texan.

“The Downfall of Galveston’s May Walker Burleson: Texas Society Marriage and Carolina Murder Scandal,” by T. Felder Dorn, demonstrates that. The book tells the story of May Walker Burleson’s murder of her ex-husband’s second wife.

Born in 1888, May Jennie Walker belonged to Galveston’s prominent Walker family. She grew up a member of Galveston’s aristocracy.

In 1908 she married Richard Coke Burleson. It seemed a fairy-tale marriage. Burleson came from of one of the most important families in San Saba County. A 1906 graduate of West Point, he was starting a prestigious career as an officer in the United States Army.

Dorn shows how May Walker Burleson had it all: looks, brains, charm and spirit. In 1913, she was Grand Marshal of the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913 in Washington, DC. Later, she became an archeologist, noted for her work studying ancient Mexico.

Richard Coke Burleson’s career also prospered. By the mid-1930s he was a colonel. His wife boosted his career; he supported her activities. They seemed the ideal couple.

Yet Dorn reveals cracks in the marriage. Richard wanted children. May did not. She spent more time with her mother and pursuing her other interests than she was spending with her husband. In turn, he began several affairs with other women. Each accused the other of egregious behavior. She claimed he struck her. He stated she threatened to shoot him.

When he decided to seek divorce, she fought. She liked the status and prestige of being an officer’s wife. A bitter three-year legal struggle ensued, blighting his career, and shaking her sanity. Once the divorce was granted Richard Coke Burleson married his current woman.

May Walker Burleson decided to rid the world of the other women — so her husband would return to her. She shot the new wife, was caught in the act, and convicted.

Dorn puts together the tale of two unlikable people in a manner that catches the reader’s interest. A meticulously researched work, “The Downfall of Galveston’s May Walker Burleson” captures its era perfectly.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.


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TOTD 2018-4-30: Trivia Question

In the 1920s and 1930s what accounted for one third of IBMs sales?

I will put the spoiler down below. In the comments let us know if you guessed correctly or missed it. For those who get it wrong, you will have to spend the day in the Ratburger.org stocks.


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Musings on the WHCD

At one time, in a land far away and long ago, the media was biased, but played by rules. They understood that while they were there to foist their view on the world, there was a base agreement on what was destructive for all sides, which resulted in a degree of decorum and rules of behavior. The ownership of the media was scattered and reasonably sized.

All that is gone. We have media corps like Comcast, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Time Warner, Disney who have decided to use their media tools for direct action for the furtherance of overall organization goals. No surprise, that is how it is supposed to work.

All those corporations also happened to choose one political party to invest in.

We no longer have publishers and ‘media barons’ driving action in the media industry, but much larger entities. Citizen Kane is long gone.

Until the Trump GOP decides to become a threat these players, rather than be thankful for minor donations now and then like the GOPe, this situation will continue.

We have an anomaly now, where a media savvy self funded Billionaire decided to stick a wrench in the gears of the globalists. Money counts in politics, but voters also count, and what we have now is a struggle of the clout of working class voters versus the cash of the globalist corporations.

For this to sustain, he will need corporate allies, other industries who prefer an America First Global Order rather than a Corporation First Global order which will lead to a China First Global Order. (Capitalists tend to lose to determined Countries with serious firepower).

If those allies do not come around, we may be watching the 21st century version of Spartacus.

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Lake Chelan on Powerline

The 04/29 – sorry, 2018-04-28 – edition of Powerline’s Steven Hayward’s The Week in Pictures included a photo of interest to friends. In 2014 I inquired on Ricochet for advice and encouragement about a place in remote northwestern Washington called Lake Chelan. In-laws had arranged a family reunion there; naturally I wanted to go prepared.

Well, Larry Koler provided the advice and encouragement. Thanks, Larry! We had a good time, although the water was cold and the skies smoky from the wildfires. We got into that boat at the southern end and chugged through mountainous emptiness for an hour to reach the lodges at the northern end.

While relatives were trudging up and up and around mountains for days with heavy backpacks on their backs, I stayed down by the lake, swimming, canoeing, and riding the seaplane.  See this photo from The Week in Pictures? That’s the seaplane deck; that the lovely clear water; those the mountains.

So somebody else has found the place! We’ll just have to deal with that next time.

Thanks, Larry.


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The White House Correspondents’ Dinner

I used to like watching the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The comedian usually knew how to take their shots with creativity and class. [Name edited out for not being family friendly. :-)] was about as deft as a jack hammer. Terrible. Good humor gets people on both sides of the aisle laughing. You know when you have failed when you have both sides cringing.

Trump does have a way of bringing the best out of the left. What really hurts them the most is realizing they aren’t that important any more.

The Correspondents’ dinner used to be a night to raise money and honor people then a lighthearted roast. Well, I hope they raised some money.

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GPS History Adventures

In researching my book, I came across many accounts of how GPS was supposed to have developed.  Researching primary sources revealed a different story.  Alas, journalists generally have not done the work to find these sources and have accepted inaccurate stories.  An example is presented here.

Brad Parkinson was the first head of the GPS Joint Program Office (1973-8).  He is frequently called the father or inventor of GPS.  I think this is inaccurate.  GPS largely stems from my Dad’s Timation program.  I won’t argue that in depth here (read my book), but I will examine one of his claims.  In a May-June 2010 GPS World article, Dr. Parkinson states:

  • The fundamental 621B concept of simultaneous passive ranging to four satellites would be the underlying principle of the new system proposal, ensuring that user equipment would not require a synchronized atomic clock.

Compare this with Phil Klass’s August 20, 1973 article in Aviation Week and Space Technology:

Fortunately, there are some technical similarities in the USAF and Navy approaches to the problem.  For example, both would determine position by making simultaneous measurements of distance (range) from user to each of several satellites.

Both my Dad’s Timation and the AF/Aerospace used this approach.  Parkinson has denied this for many decades (see the last slide of this presentation), but his own 1974 document states that Timation was a program for 3D navigation.  The 1971 Timation Development Plan shows a drawing of four satellites sending signals to an airplane ( see page 16 of the pdf figure 3-1 in the report).  It’s amazing the contrast between primary sources and peoples’ later claims.


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“Children of Time” book review

This is a plausible and very entertaining book by Adrian Tchaikovsky, which I read as the Kindle edition. I will go so far as to say it is in the tradition of some of the finest classic science fiction, like that of Arthur C. Clarke. The science is all plausible by today’s anticipations of what will likely exist in the medium to long-term future.

Earth has had its day; the Old Empire – near God-like in its capabilities – has fallen and the survivors on Earth succeed in only partially reclaiming  their predecessors’ capabilities. Among such capacities were interstellar travel and terraforming distant planets within the galaxy. The story begins with Dr. Avrana Kern, eventually the last survivor aboard the Brin 2 satellite, an experimental station whose mission is to accelerate long-term evolution of life on “her”planet, which had been previously terraformed by the Old Empire; her goal was”to seed the universe with all the wonders of Earth” and become a god in so doing. She became progressively megalomaniacal over two millennia; her evolving status – both as perceived by herself and by others – is a twisting and interesting commentary in its own right, though not an essential to the plot.

Her mission was to send a population of monkeys (which were suspended in cold stasis, as were all interstellar travelers) down to the surface, then accelerate and guide their evolution through use of an engineered nano-virus which was to be separately sent down, designed to infect the monkey population only.  However, an unknown member of NUN in her crew (non ultra natura – a group which vehemently opposed seeding the universe with humans, engineered or not), sabotages the re-entry. The monkeys are all destroyed, but the flask containing the virus reaches the planet intact, and has long-term tremendous, unanticipated results. The creators of the virus never imagined it might infect other species. The effect of the virus on spiders – whose existence on the planet was unknown to Dr. Kern (she was unsure whether some of the monkeys might have survived the sabotage) was dramatic, indeed, and this forms the warp on which the entire compelling story is beautifully woven. Dr. Kern waited a thousand years or so in and occasionally out of stasis, to be awakened finally by the Brin 2’s AI when her monkeys finally “phone home,” i.e. contact her when they became sufficiently cognitively advanced.

Told along with our introduction to Dr. Kern and the beginnings of her God complex, is the story of Earth’s destruction in a final war between the NUN’s and those who were about the business of seeding the universe with life. The fact that weapons had advanced but human restraint had not led to the end times. These events form merely the background for the story of what happens over a few millennia after Earth’s demise on and near “Kern’s planet.”

Much of the tale is told from the point of view of Dr. Holsten Mason, the classicist of the Key Crew of the starship Gilgamesh. His role was to understand history of the Old Empire and translate its dead language as the need arose (with Dr. Kern, for instance). The ‘cargo’ consists of 500,000 humans in deep cold stasis. Key Crew, on the other hand, are intermittently awakened by the ship’s AI, when specified or unexpected events occur. Gilgamesh attains speeds a large fraction of light speed over two thousand years by virtue of compact and near-limitless fusion reactors which power the ship.

Throughout, this book thoughtfully explores many aspects of human nature, both in the words of the well-fleshed-out characters and in their (and their society’s) deeds. Juxtaposition of human against the non-human nature of highly-evolved characters of different species, gives free reign to the author’s profound and literate insights into life’s possibilities and meaning generally and into various possible futures for humanity as well.

As a ‘meanings junkie’ and one who cannot help but ponder the long-term future of humanity, I found this to be thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking. It is truly awe-inspiring. A Must Read!


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Is this all there is?

I laughed at this.  Leftists at NPR are beginning to realize that there was no collusion between Donald J. Trump and the Russians to influence the election of 2016.   This distresses them.   They still give a lot of time to their wishful thinking, but there are glimpses that enlighten and amuse.

Are all the facts in this case all the facts there ever will be?

Because for all the contacts that Democrats deem “collusion” and Republicans call merely “ill-advised,” nothing has emerged that everyone can agree is a smoking gun. And it’s possible that barring a major bombshell, no such new evidence ever could bring both sides to that consensus given how deeply partisan the Russia saga has become.

That would be good news for Trump. The other good news for him this week was that not only the House intelligence committee has concluded its Russia investigation, his allies will continue to pursue what it calls the “biased” Justice Department and FBI.

Lawmakers received another batch of text messages exchanged between two FBI officials who’ve embarrassed the bureau with their criticisms of Trump and their connections to former Director James Comey, who was fired by President Trump, and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

This has proven a fertile line of advance for the president’s allies and lately, it has yielded bigger news than anything in the “collusion” line.

HAR Har Har hardy har har hoo hoo hoo hooey.

Make America Great Again.

https://www.npr.org/2018/04/28/606568624/the-russia-investigations-the-house-intel-committee-duels-over-evidence-again

 

 

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TurtleCode

Meta-thoughts:

Higher order things are composed of lower order things. All are self similar. Top will not resemble bottom. No privileged reference frame. Turtles all the way down means turtles all the way up, too. Lower order things comprise higher order things. Layers of emulation. Grammar is for suckers.

Cells and bacteria, motivations and molecules. Chemical fantasies dreamed by molecules. Intelligence arises from stupidity — intelligence falls.

Matter := Energy. Information := space. All matter at a point requires lowest information, contains zero potential. Regular grid (hex, tetra-space, whatever) requires space, contains information. Scattered arrangement contains even more information (cannot be unpacked from a rule). Galaxy is self-similar in rotation (arm x n), and we haven’t even begun rotating it. Complete sentences are for suckers.

Wolfram’s chunks. It doesn’t take an eastern mysticism to apply a similar clumping, scaling, accounting structure to everything. There are patterns which themselves have value, regardless of the content structured. Some are self-similar in scale, some are not. They are of different values. So are we.

Can’t prove it, you’ll never know, it does not matter, nothing matters, there is no me, no you, no us, no thing, nothing. Yet it is all as real as we are, and we are not so privileged to exist while denying the existence of other things — we are not privileged. I think that I am; I am that I am. I yam what O yam.

Aspirations to Godhood are for suckers. I love her. The all-pervasive feeling, the scoping of job, family, world, universe, all to insignificance beside the One True Thing, True Love, it makes the world go around, and it’s all you need. Truly an altered state, it is a descent to base form, not a noble or enlightened feature. We flatter ourselves by segregating the beastly and carnal from the holy and romantic. As if there were the slightest difference.

No such thing as love, but we feel its absence. Or so we think. The molecule wishes to procreate — the human thinks he is in love. You tool, you useless idiot, you animate functionary to inanimate masters. The molecule kicks your ass either way. Love is for suckers.

Turtles all the way down, and each is written as an opaque pass-through function. Higher order actions seem directed from higher still, but it’s the sub-shells running the code. Make low changes, not high, to effect high change. You don’t convince adults. You convince children, who then replace adults. Argument is for suckers.

Looking down, we see a smaller, simpler creature, a shell with guts in it. We generously surmise that it may be like us. Looking up, we see a turtle’s ass, and we withhold comment.

Blog posts are for suckers.


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TOTD 2018-04-28: “The Surprisingly Solid Mathematical Case of the Tin Foil Hat Gun Prepper”

Here is an article you should read and think about: “The Surprisingly Solid Mathematical Case of the Tin Foil Hat Gun Prepper”.  The author is a stormwater hydrologist—what he does for a living is study the behaviour of water as it moves through the Earth’s ecosystem and, in particular, extreme events such as floods.  It is he and his colleagues who draw the red lines on maps which determine whether you can get flood insurance at an affordable price and, in many cases, obtain a long-term mortgage on a property.  Those in his profession think deeply about “tail risks”: events which occur rarely but which have major, or even catastrophic, consequences when they happen.  Humans have evolved in an environment which has selected them to apply a number of heuristics that, in most cases, get a good enough answer without a complete understanding of the problem or an exhaustive analysis of the situation.  But evolution, biological or cultural, is poor at selecting for heuristics which apply for events which happen less frequently than the lifetime of most members of a species.  We use our intuition, and often we get the wrong answer.

There is some math in the cited paper, and in what follows, but nothing more complicated than multiplying numbers, which you can do with a calculator if you wish to work it out for yourself.  The only other thing you need to know are some very basic facts of probability and statistics: I’ve written an “Introduction to Probability and Statistics” which, while aimed at other applications, may help if you’re rusty and want to review the details.  All you really need to know is that if a series of events are independent of one another (the outcome of one doesn’t affect the others), and that they have a given individual probability, you get the probability of a series of events occurring one after another by multiplying their probabilities together.

If your eyes are beginning to glaze over, consider a simple case.  When you flip a fair coin, it’s equally likely to come up heads or tails—a statistician would say the probability of heads (or tails) is 0.5 (or ½).  What’s the probability of two heads (or tails) in a row?  You just multiply the probabilities and get 0.25 (¼).  The flips are independent because each flip has a probability of 0.5, regardless of the previous flips.  Even if you’ve flipped nine heads in a row (probability 0.00195, one in 512 times), the probability of the next flip being a head is still 0.5.

What does this have to do with floods, or prepping, or heuristics?  Just that we aren’t very good at understanding how these numbers behave when the probabilities are small and the consequences are dire.

You’ll often hear of a “hundred year flood”.  This is sloppy terminology which many people take to mean a flood that only happens once a century.  That’s wrong.  What it means is that it’s a flood, defined by the extent of flooding, which has a probability of 1/100 (0.01) of happening in a given year.  That is a very different thing.

Now let’s do that little bit of math I warned you about.  If your house is located within the red line of the “100 year flood”, then each year you’re rolling a 100 sided die and if it comes up zero, you lose everything (or almost).  Now, the chance of a flood in any given year doesn’t depend upon what happened in previous years so the probabilities are independent, and we can multiply them.  But now we’re going do to a little arithmetic and look at, not the probability of a flood, but the probability of no flood.  Well, that’s just one minus the probability of a flood (1−0.01 = 0.99).  Now, if we want to know the probability of going n years without a flood, we need only compute \(0.99^n\).  Remember thirty year mortgages?  I do—I had one.  Let’s plug in 30 for n.  Tap-tap-tap on the calculator, or a little fiddling with the slide rule, and we get 0.74 or, of you like, around ¾ probability there will be no flood.  But that means there’s a 0.26 probability there will be a catastrophic flood before the mortgage is paid off.  Is it any wonder it’s hard to get a mortgage for a house in a “100 year” floodplain?

With this background and perspective, the author moves on to consider an event far more catastrophic than a flood (whose effects are local on a continental scale): a violent conflict over the government of a large territory.  Plugging in the numbers for the United States, he finds two such events in 340 years (the American Revolution and the War of Secession), and taking the mean lifespan of a person today as 78.7 years, calculates a probability of 37% that such an event will happen in their lifetime.  This is substantially higher than that of the flood, and will have consequences far more widespread and serious.

And the U.S. has been far more stable than most other countries in the world.

It’s fashionable to mock “preppers”, but taking the basic precautions against the collapse of our comfortable lives and the infrastructure which supports them is, based upon on a statistical calculation, no less reasonable than preparing for events such as a flood, hurricane, tornado, or earthquake.  And the well-equipped prepper is in a good position to ride out any of these events as well.

The zombie apocalypse is obviously pure fiction, but it has an allure to a few tongue-in-cheek preppers because of its functional completeness. If you are prepared for zombies, you are literally prepared for anything.

Read the whole thing.

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