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.... [Read More]


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.)... [Read More]


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.... [Read More]


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.... [Read More]


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. ... [Read More]


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:... [Read More]


“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.... [Read More]


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?... [Read More]


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.... [Read More]