Temple Grandin’s Ted Talk

Temple Grandin is autistic. She’s also one of the important minds in cattle research and management.

There was an HBO movie about her starring Claire Danes, which was pretty good. It gave a very clear explanation of the life of an autistic person.

The thing I find interesting in this Ted Talk is that I get the feeling when she says things that people laugh at, she isn’t intentionally telling a joke. She’s just relaying information, knows that people are laughing, but doesn’t comprehend why they think its funny.

But that doesn’t stop her, because she has a point to make.

 

Donald Trump and the 27 percent

So, the Donald took aim at John McCain this weekend, saying he isn’t a war hero because he was captured by the North Vietnamese.  The Republicans are having a fit and telling him to shut up. But that’s not going to happen:

I have the advantage of growing up in Brooklyn and knowing for the past 40 years that Trump is a dick. I’ve said it everywhere I worked and tried to explain to people that the only reason Trump was famous was because he was in the media capital of the world, and New York papers loved the fact that he was a dick because he always provided good copy.

Now he has the national spotlight he’s always wanted. And he’s not going to give it up. And guess what! His support is going to grow.

Here’s where he is now:

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There are nine people in this poll. But here’s who’s running:

THE REPUBLICANS

RUNNING

BUSH

CARSON

CHRISTIE

CRUZ

FIORINA

GRAHAM

HUCKABEE

JINDAL

PATAKI

PAUL

PERRY

RUBIO

SANTORUM

TRUMP

WALKER
PROBABLY RUNNING

KASICH

That’s 16 people dividing the vote. And Trump is at the top of the pack with 17 percent support. How high can he go? You have to go back to this 2005 post at Kung Fu Monkey:

John: Hey, Bush is now at 37% approval. I feel much less like Kevin McCarthy screaming in traffic. But I wonder what his base is —

Tyrone: 27%.

John: … you said that immmediately, and with some authority.

Tyrone: Obama vs. Alan Keyes. Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him. They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That’s crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% Crazification Factor in any population.

John: Objectively crazy or crazy vis-a-vis my own inertial reference frame for rational behaviour? I mean, are you creating the Theory of Special Crazification or General Crazification?

Tyrone: Hadn’t thought about it. Let’s split the difference. Half just have worldviews which lead them to disagree with what you consider rationality even though they arrive at their positions through rational means, and the other half are the core of the Crazification — either genuinely crazy; or so woefully misinformed about how the world works, the bases for their decision making is so flawed they may as well be crazy.

John: You realize this leads to there being over 30 million crazy people in the US?

Tyrone: Does that seem wrong?

John: … a bit low, actually.

Trump has the uber crazy of the crazy vote. When the simply batshit crazy candidates drop out, Trump will pick up their supporters. His ceiling is 27 percent, the longer it takes to whittle down the GOP field, the longer he’s going to be in this race.

Remember the frontrunner in 2011?

On September 24, 2011, [Herman] Cain won a surprise victory in a Republican presidential straw poll in Florida, with 37 percent of the 2,657 votes cast. The front-runner Rick Perry, who had been leading in the polls, came in second with 15 percent.[30] Continuing with his success, on October 1, 2011 Cain won the TeaCon Midwest straw poll by a landslide with 77% of the vote.[31] Cain also won the National Federation of Republican Women straw poll by a wide margin with 48.9%. The nearest contender was Rick Perry with 14.1%, followed closely by Mitt Romney with 13.3% and Newt Gingrich with 12.5%.[32] Of the delegates voting, 80% said they were satisfied with the field of candidates; asked whether they identified with the Tea Party, about half said yes and half said no.[33] A Fox News poll administered on October 23–25, showed Herman Cain as the front-runner receiving 24%, and Mitt Romney coming in at second place with 20%.

Remember back in 2011, when Michelle Bachman won the Iowa straw poll?

Bachmann received 28 percent of the nearly 17,000 votes cast. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was close behind her with 27 percent. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty came in a distant third with 13 percent of the vote, followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 9 percent and businessman Herman Cain with 8 percent.

Remember the 2012 winner of the Iowa caucus with 25 percent of the vote?

The night belongs to Santorum. The victory was richly deserved and it will be fun watching some journalists having to brush up on the Bible to cover so amiable a “Jesus freak.” He may be the first Italian to win the Iowa caucuses, which means both of our immigrant grandfathers are smiling.

The crazies participate early in the process. The crazies are the Donald’s base. People who don’t take him seriously are in for a surprise, especially when he starts winning primaries, because he can do that with a 27 percent base and a comedically large GOP field.

Steven Colbert visits Pluto

With Neil DeGrasse Tyson

To illustrate the point, here’s the size of Pluto and its moon, Charon, in relation to the Earth.

Pluto-and-Charon-compared-to-Earth

 

The diameter of Pluto is 1,471 miles. The diameter of the Earth’s moon is 2,159 miles.  So if you overlap them, (and let’s add the dwarf planet Ceres, which is in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter (there are dwarf planets that close to us? Were we not paying attention in astronomy class?), here’s what you get:

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That seems to indicate that the Moon is more qualified to be a planet than Pluto. So Neil wins. Pluto is a dwarf. But as he adds, we’re a dwarf compared to Jupiter:

jupiter_&_earth_compared_600

We are not worthy.

Fast and light to Pluto

The New Horizon space craft, which has been on a very long trip to the planetoid, dwarf planet, planety thing past Neptune (sometimes), has confirmed that it survived its pass-by of Pluto, 9½ years after its launch from Earth.

This New York Times mini documentary explains the mission. And I’m really looking forward to the release of photos, expected later today.

I’m of the generation when Pluto was a planet, and I always want to see what’s out there. I’m just finding out that Pluto has five moons. That’s got to account for something.

But if the trajectory of Pluto is such that it crosses the orbit of Neptune, does that raise the possibility that in a few billion years or so, they’re going to collide?

No. From 1979 to 1999, Pluto was the eighth planet from the sun. In 1999, it slipped beyond Neptune to become the ninth. But Pluto’s 248-year orbit around the sun takes it 17 degrees above and below the plane in which Neptune and the other planets travel. So their paths don’t actually cross as they swap positions. Imagine you are the sun in the middle of your back yard. The fence is Neptune’s orbit. You toss a boomerang way out over the neighbor’s houses and it comes back, being on both sides of your fence during its travels without hitting the fence. Of course, activity like that can be frowned upon, and in Pluto’s case helped lead to its demotion.

Thanks, Live Science!