Biography

RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Nick Kristof's biased racial commentary.

Today's New York Times commentary of race relations by Nick Kristoff, When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 5, beautifully illustrates why Kristof cannot be regarded as a fair reporter, let alone an accurate one. He says:
Two economists, Joseph Price and Justin Wolfers, found that white N.B.A. referees disproportionally call fouls on black players, while black refs call more fouls on white players. “These biases are sufficiently large that they affect the outcome of an appreciable number of games,” Price and Wolfers wrote.
...except that's not what Price and Wolfers found. The paper is here. Look particularly at Table 3. What it shows is the racial composition of refereeing crews had almost no effect on the foul rate of black players. On the other hand, having a higher proportion of black referees tended to increase the number of fouls called on white players. White players had more fouls called on them overall.

Whether the racism was positive (white refs calling fewer fouls on white players) or negative (black refs calling more fouls on white players) is impossible to disentangle from the data, since a foul call is inevitably subjective, and it's clear white and black players tend to segregate somewhat by position and role.

But either way, the treatment of black players did not depend significantly on the race of the officiating crew. Or to quote the authors themselves:

This analysis reveals that the bias we document primarily affects white players.2 This is a departure from more standard accounts of discrimination which involve whites actively discriminating against blacks, although our setting is unusual in that black players are the majority group. In turn, this may reflect either white players being favored by white referees or disfavored by black referees, although our identification strategy (which relies on random assignment of refereeing crews) does not allow us to sort out which group of referees is responsible for this bias.
This directly contradicts Kristof.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ten things I learned from Ferguson

(1) When your old man gets out of the joint, paroled on federal firearms charges related to the manufacture, sale, and distribution of narcotics, and the parole officer says he can't live with your son, give Junior the heave-ho. He's 290 lbs; he can fend for himself.

(2) In the 'hood, a good shove is better than a $20 bill. It probably helps to be a 'gentle giant', though.


(3) Red is the appropriate color to wear to a funeral, if you have a close family affiliation with the Bloods.
(4) Never get between a grieving mother and her exclusive right to distribute merchandise exploiting her son's death. Don't care if it's Grandma doing it; assemble a posse, and beat the crap out of the old witch.
(5) Kewl gang symbols: apparently this means 'what's up, bro?'. Modeled, of course, by the beautiful and charming Mr. Brown himself.

(6) How to appeal for calm after a tragedy: 'raw emotion'.

(7) If you want to plow through a mob, a Ford F-150, bullbars and big wheels are de rigeur. Don't be like these people.

(8) If you are around when someone else tries (7), have a high quality digital recorder on hand, so you can sell the footage to the producers of 'The Walking Dead'

(9) Any questions why high-capacity magazines are A Good Thing? See (7) and (8).

(10) If you're working for the Newspaper of Record, it's OK to publish the address of a police officer receiving death threats, if you think he deserves to be killed.

Some remarks on jurisprudence, from a Professor of Chemistry.

The only person with a right to a trial is the defendant. If you see something you think is wrong, that doesn't entitle you to have the government prosecute. Federal private prosecutions are forbidden since 1981, and most states won't allow them either.

Back when many if not most prosecutions were private, the primary function of a grand jury was to squelch them if they were frivolous or unfounded. Now they don't happen, the grand jury is a mostly useless vestige. In Federal cases, they are constitutionally required, so prosecutors abuse them. However, while the practice of placing only evidence hostile to the defendant before a grand jury is permitted, it is not a mandate; in fact, the US Marshals' manual tells prosecutors to present the grand jury with exonerating evidence. A prosecutor who uses a grand jury to quash a prosecution the mob is demanding is acting far closer to the original intent than one who uses it as a rubber stamp.

Just because somebody practices criminal law, doesn't mean he knows this. I work with dozens of analytical chemists who don't know the history or first principles of the techniques they use.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson Solidarity Rally, or bus queue?

UNL Ethnic Studies (your tax dollars at work!) and the local ACLU held a Ferguson solidarity rally, which they carefully located away from any StarTran bus stops so they wouldn't be mistaken for a queue. Of course, you'd never actually see hipsters on a StarTran bus.

I'm a little surprised the turnout was so low, actually. N-street Liquors and Ben's Liquors are no more than 3 blocks away from the site. The looting possibilities are spectacular.

And I do like the 'No justice, No Mercedes-Benz' guy. Preach it brother! Solidarity and overpriced German cars!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Embarrassed by UNL Political Science, part 293

You may have read how UNL Political Science professor John Gruhl was videotaped dressing up as Dick Cheney and pretendy-shooting his students on Halloween, then launched into the sort of partisan tirade that students say is a common feature of his lectures.

Watch it on You Tube.

That Department which employed no registered Republicans last time I checked, is no stranger to scandal. It has had repeated problems with sexual harrassment.

There are a couple of good people in Poli. Sci., notably John Hibbing and Kevin Smith, but also some complete lunatics.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The straw that broke this camel's back: 'manspreading'

Apparenlty, 'manspreading' is a thing, and feminists are offended by it. Well, of course they are, i hear you say. But they even take pictures and set up blogs to bitch about it. Yes, I said 'bitch'.

Several of these premenstrual harpies had enough time on their hands to create tumblr blogs of the horror and stock them with pictures.

And to add to the ridiculousness, Massachuestts, a state entirely populated by eunuchs and steatopygian Brunnhildes, wants to outlaw it. Well, if you could elect Elizabeth Warren to the Senate, there are probably no limits to your stupidity.

OK, I've officially had enough. As of today, I am the patriarchal cisprivileged heteronormative white male oppressor you perpetually aggrieved sociopaths have for far too long accused me of being. If I'm going to be smeared with it, I'm going to do it. Whine at me, complain at me, and you're loudly going to be countered in the most snarky and demeaning way I can waste 5 seconds on. Which, as my wife will occasionally admit, but only occasionally, because she hates to encourage me, is Caro's acid strength. (I never snark at my wife, because she's not a raving harpy.)

Oh, you might say, what has changed? Well, actually, hard though it may be to believe, 90% of the time, I swallow hard and say nothing. No longer. Tell me what I can say, tell me what I can wear, or otherwise act like an officious santimonious twit, and I'm going to use my white male heterosexual cisgendered privilege to get in your face. Deal with it. Or as we in the oppressor business say, don't start a fight you can't finish.

And by the way, I'll spread my legs as wide as I want to, and then increase it a bit to piss you off. If you're uncomfortable, lose some weight in that overpadded arse. Kim Kardassian's (heh)freak husband may like them gynormous, but normal men don't. Word: 'Big Bottom' wasn't a love song, it was comedy.

And it you had to look up Caro's acid, you're a ditz.

Friday, November 14, 2014

GMO denialists get EU Chief Scientific Advisor sacked

The European Union, using the positive publicity of the Philae comet landing as cover, has terminated the post of EU Chief Science Advisor. CSA Anne Glover had been the victim of an intense lobby campaign by a coalition of environmental organizations, notably Greenpeace, follwing her insistence tha tthe safety of GMOs is a matter of scientific consensus and that opposition is 'a form of madness'. Incoming commission president, the alcoholic and corrupt Jean-Claude Juncker, is former prime minister of Luxembourg, which bans GMOs; pressure also came from the French.

Despite attempts from the left at fudging the issue ("it's an Anglo Saxon vs. Continental Europe thing"), there is wide consensus Professor Glover's GMO position led to her ouster.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Quisling outbreak

UNL now has a student group called 'Men @ Nebraska'. Don't be fooled by it for a minute. They won't be protesting the withdrawal of protection for the accused in sexual assault cases, or asking why there are, six years after the passage of the Nebraska Civil Rights Inititative, still gender selective women's conferences at UNL, or why men pay more than women for drivers' insurance, but the same for health insurance. No, they'll be sitting around wondering why male athletes cheat, how they can prevent rape (easy one that: don't rape), grooving on Michael Kimmel (but in a manly way) and discussing why, generally, men are such pigs. Big clue: they meet at the women's center, and seem to be affiliated with that body and the LGBTQ alliance. Strong stench of male feminism here, methinks.
You have to admire the local feminists, though. This is a nice preemptive strike against there being any organized opposition to the 'preponderance of evidence' kangaroo courts currently sitting on campus.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A poem about a faculty meeting

Shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up
if you'd all just shut up we could leave
month after month for 23 years
in this stuffy low-ceilinged-room
I've sat and listened to you drone
and sometimes I confess droned on myself
and if we ever had anything to say by now we've said it
and if anyone of us had gotten any wiser in that quarter lifetime
then he'd know at least one thing which is to
shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Twitter Is Hard, or, how do Millennials manage to wipe their own bums?

As some of you know, yesterday Nebraska elected (by a massive majority) Pete Ricketts to be the next governor of Nebraska. Pete's a former COO of TD Ameritrade, a brokerage house his father founded, and he's a nice guy. He's the only billionaire I know (very slightly) so of course he's a nice guy. He says hello to me.

Anyway, the gubernatorial campaign here mercifully steered clear of social issues, as did most of the national campaigns. In fact, I don't even remember the issue of gay rights coming up. I'm sure Pete pays lipservice to the standard GOP 'marriage should be between one man and one woman' boilerplate, because this is, after all, Nebraska; but I also know his sister is gay and that he's basically a libertarian conservative.

In any case, the election had its usual contingent of social media leftist twits, carpeting the standard election hashtags with cretinous slogans and having absolutely no influence on anyone at all. But, despite their complete and ignominious defeat in Nebraska, the struggle continues, man! So one of them just posted this.

Problem is, and I know this will be a shock, so sit down, but there is more than one public figure with the name 'Peter Ricketts'. And our little Golem chum happened to find Sir Peter Forbes Ricketts, who happens to be Her Majesty's Ambassador to France (The HMA in his Twitter handle is a big clue). Sir Peter might be quite surprised he's against gay equality, since of course gay equality is most certainly the position of HMG. I've no idea what he thought about this tweet, except it probably reinforced a prejudice that all Americans are lunatics.

So, if all this social media stuff is a Millennial thang, how come Millennials don't seem to be able to do it very well? I suspect it's just that they really can't do anything very well. In that case, I'm going to increase the storage capcity of my bunker to two years, because heaven help us all when this lot have to run the world without mommie's help.

It gets better. Sir Peter Ricketts clears up the confusion!