Quick Hits

The Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is over, and among the sparkling new TVs, Home Automation, and Gee-Gaws that will never go into production, the most important innovation occurred before the show– an Audi A7 with a Journalist at the wheel(sic), and it was a driver less car.

Now, to be certain, the Journalist had to take control after the Audi hit an off-ramp because it was really only designed for freeway work, but Google has the city driving down pat, and Mercedes has prototype driver less cars and trucks.

It’s close. Very close.

I have told the story before of being dragged out of 5-Way heart by-pass recovery at home by my friendly neighborhood MD/Ph. D (Engineering) who carted me off to Victorville, California, to witness a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (one of the few government agencies that actually work) challenge for “Autonomous Automobiles. This was four years ago. No apparatus filled autonomous cars finished the 50 mile city model, but Stanford University did well enough to win the million dollar prize. (Stanford had won the previous “Freeway” Challenge in the desert years before — and another million dollar prize.)

The driver less cars in California will require a special license and a carbon life-form behind the wheel, as did the Audi driven to the Las Vegas convention.

Still 565 freeway miles without a scare is not to be sneezed at.

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We have an entirely analogous situation developing between the good Muslims of the world, Blacks in Detroit and the overwhelming number of good teachers in California.

And there is a lesson to be learned here.

The president and his administration appear to be counting on the Muslim nations and communities to grab hold of their, by any count, small number of atrocity-bound Muslims.

Ain’t gonna’ happen.

By any measure the vast majority of teachers are good or even great teachers, and California has waited for decades for the good teachers to rein in their union and get control of the awful teachers who give them all a bad name…it has not, will not happen.

Similarly, the vast majority of Blacks, even in crime-ridden communities like Detroit and Chicago, are law abiding citizens. They know who the drug dealers, pimps and gang-bangers are — but they draw their blinds and double-lock their doors without calling the police.

Waiting for a modern population to rise up just isn’t going to happen. In the early days of America, certainly — can you imagine the western Settlers sitting in their traffic-jammed cars without heating tar and plucking feathers while marching on the halls of the San Diego Association of Governments who fund freeways too little and mass transit too much?

Neither can I.

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The Islamic Empire had a Caliph called “The Bloodthirsty” who invited opponents to dinner, clubbed them to death, threw a rug over them and dined on the rug as their opponents bled to death.

But being the reason he was called the Bloodthirsty.

But Islam was not the only group where the norm in being bloodthirsty. In the early Middle Ages, Basil II of the Byzantine Empire was rumored to have defeated an army of Bulgarians and put out the eyes of 14,000 soldiers, leaving one out of 100 with one eye to lead the defeated troops back home. That is possibly apocryphal, but that it was even believed at the time served its purpose.

The ISIS group can be accurately termed “Fundamentalists” in that they adhere to Middle Ages norms.

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In my Little Known And Completely Useless Information File: Perhaps you remember the “Ice Man” an ancient Stone Age man discovered a few years ago, who had been frozen as he fell some 5,200 years ago in the Alps. As you may know, newly discovered methods of obtaining DNA even from ancient bone, (Ice Man was not even much of a challenge) but the interesting thing to me is that 16 descendants of Ice Man have been discovered in Austria…..

In a related ice age data, Archeologists now have a new specialty — studying items being released by melting glaciers. It seems that there was a warming spell about 7,000 years ago and a treasure trove of lost items is being released by the current warming spell in Norway. They have recovered mittens, snowshoes and many farming items. (Bet you didn’t know that autos caused CO2 warming 7,000 years ago! We learn every day.)

The study of DNA is very useful in determining the flow of humans, and when they arrived in certain places…

One more note: Not all ancient Egyptians who were mummified were kings — commoners were also mummified. Millions of them!

In fact, in the early 1900s, there were so many Mummies, that Indian trains burned them for fuel.

Well, the Death Masks for Kings and Queens may have been made of gold, but commoners often had death masks made from used Papyrus and glue. Recently, technology has been able to melt the glue and recover the used  Papyrus, and we can read it…and a portion of an unknown Book of the Bible has been recovered. The actual announcement was leaked in 2012, and has just been officially acknowledged, but the contents have not been released.

 

 

 

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Voted Off the Island

A late Fox News Poll says that only 9 % would support their state seceding from the country, and that is interesting since the Constitution has no provision for a state leaving the Union.

Then the poll asked if the U.S. population could vote another state “off the Island” — and the majority of respondents (53%) said that they would vote California out of the Union.

Perhaps we who live here don’t recognize the enmity with which we are judged, because we just enjoy the sunshine, although we realize that people talk about the nation tilting and all of the nuts flowing to California.

There are three or four states nearing bankruptcy and California is at the head of that list, and indeed three of our communities have already gone into bankruptcy.

But California is also the eighth economy in the world if California were a nation. It is the center of technology for America. Unfortunately California is about 11% of the U.S. population but it has about 35% of the U.S. welfare cases, because it has easy entry requirements, and generous benefits. California is a magnet for welfare families, at the same time California is strangling its corporations and the productive citizens with high taxes.

So, California is at best a mixed bag, but it has been under Democratic control for so long that corporate moves and expansions are leaving at a rapid rate. The state is strangling its productivity while inducing the generational welfare.

I understand the feelings of the rest of the nation about California. We are the Greece of North America.

Quick Hits

The California Superior Judge who ruled against tenure will have to live a lng time to see tenure die! Tenure was not an option at my private San Diego university. I never heard any full-time or part-time professor complain about not having tenure. Everyone accepted that they were at-will employees, and had to perform at a high level or be replaced. There were always replacements available, and we knew that.

In computer science in San Diego, we had to be retrained every day — particularly when many of our students were working for high-tech companies, often in R&D.

I can understand why K-12 teachers want tenure — actually “permanent employment” — it takes much of the pressure off daily performance, but that is not a good thing…and possibly why our students rank 46th (on average) in the US Department of Education “National Report Card.”

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Governor Brown is pushing the State Legislature to pass a bill that will offer some unspecified quick benefits to get the Tesla Gigafactory to locate in California.

You will recall that Elon Musk has proposed a huge factory ($5 Billion construction and 6,500 jobs) to several states, including Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. Musk also said California was still in the running but a long-shot.

The question is, what is it about Tesla that is so different from all the other companies that California is losing without a whimper?

I suggest that Tesla is either one too many, or perhaps too visible to lose. I doubt that Brown would go against the environmental movement. Perhaps he is just cherry-picking.

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The border problem in Texas, with floods of children as young as 5 years old crossing unaccompanied, is an unexpected problem that tugs on heart-strings in a way that workers do not.

What do we do now? Many arrive with a note of where their parents are for being joined with those parents — who themselves may be “illegal.”

It’s a mess. A growing mess. It is not easily solved and it is a result of our ambivalent policy. While everyone debates the subject, the very lengthy Texas border is almost unguarded. Yes, the announced policy is that only those children who were here pre-2008, but that nuance has been lost in Central American media.

Here, on the San Diego area we don’t have that problem, because we have at least two and sometimes three fences, with sand in between.

Texas has the Rio Grande River, which is little more than a mud hole. Their Border Patrol is overwhelmed.

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This is written Saturday night — I can only hope that by morning a heavy air strike will send the well-mechanized assault on the government of Iraq will be out in the open. Many of their troop transports are seized from the Iraqi troops who have thrown down their weapons and fled.

The ISIS troops coming over the borders from Syria are moving quickly. Only boots on the ground can stop the ISIS but air strikes can slow their progress, and with air cover PERHAPS the Iraqi Army can regroup sufficiently to counterattack.

The loss of Syria, because we didn’t react quickly enough, is coming back to haunt us. Failing to react quickly in many areas is coming back to haunt us.

Incompetence, and incompetence compounded.

The president is enjoying his perks — golf, vacations, flights…lots of flights. He is disengaged.

No one is minding the store!

Fewer Jobs Still For California

Right on the heels of the movement of the Toyota plant from Freemont, California to Plano, Texas with its thousands of jobs, comes a potential for California’s Tesla’s lithium-ion battery plant to be built…well, somewhere.

The Tesla automobile has had its highs and lows — right now it is in a low — but its founder. Musk is a multi-billionaire so the automobile has potential to weather numerous setbacks.

The real news is its battery production, which it intends to start in the next several months in the US, with two plants employing about 6,500. Obviously if it intends to break ground in several months, it will require full cooperation of state government, and a clear path to build without regulatory interference.

The so-called “Gigafactory” will likely be built in two sites, one in each of two states…Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and/or Texas.

California, once out of the running is back in only because Governor Jerry Brown is on Musk’s side — but Jerry has zero control over environmental groups, so Musk says, “It’s sort of still improbable, but it is back in the running,”

On May 6, California was out. On May 8, it was back in — but improbable. Certainly, California cannot compete for the first plant — and when a second is built, competition between the two plants will take place for future contracts — meaning that even if California wins one of the plants, future lawsuits on the environment will simply mean the plant gets no continuing contracts!

I suspect it is simply a façade to make California feel good, but truly, do you think YOU would build a plant in California? Even if there is some recognition that the regulatory climate must change, now that Toyota has fled to Texas, it must be obvious that jobs are NOT a priority for Democrats in general and Sacramento Democrats in particular.

Even liberal Apple Computer is doing its expansion in Austin, Texas.

We are talking not just jobs, but construction — about &5 billion in construction costs.

Musk, who is a South-African born, Canadian-American also owns SpaceX, which is a strong contender to win the eventual contract to deliver men to the Space Station, which, in this era of strained relations with Russia, will be a blessing.

Sacramento is slow to awaken to the exit of California jobs.

Tenure Challenged in California Supreme Court

 

There is good news on teacher tenure, the bane of every rational person.

Students Matter, a student oriented organization out of Silicon Valley has sued, saying that tenure provides an unequal education, because teachers with greater tenure select the top performing schools, leaving the untried, junior teachers to the inner city schools with more discipline problems.

Vagara v California contends that the tenure situation does not provide constitutionally protected “equal protection under the law.”

 Students Matter hired uber-attorney Theodore Olson, former US Solicitor General.

In California, only two teachers a year are fired for incompetence – Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy, who was scheduled to testify today, submitted a deposition early saying that it costs about $350,000 to fire a teacher and can cost up to a million dollars.

The lawsuit was financed by a research scientist in Silicon Valley.