Showing posts from November, 2017

And then there's Deb Smith Portz...

...who wants to change the entire Nebraska educational system, though she seems a bit vague about what that means. ... to say nothing of geography...

LOL! A clam wants me investigated!

He posts this quite a bit. Wiegand seems (from his Facebook page; he really ought to learn about privacy settings) to be a scientologist, which is appropriately wacky. He's also a conspiracy theorist, and is interested in the mother of all Nebraska conspiracy theories, the Franklin cover up, a fabulous kook detector. and he's, natch, an anti-vaxxer... ...and a birther... ...and glyphosate steals your manhood... ...and wifi routers are scary... With all that, how could be be anything other than a scientologist? These are the people we're dealing with, folks. And those were just from the month of November. He's also paranoid about fluoride (which he calls flouride) But most of all, what he needs is a haircut. Dude, the 60's are over!

No thank you

I've lived in America, except for a single year, since I was 19. I'm assimilated enough that the absence of public toilets doesn't annoy me any more. I don't reply with snark to "Have a Nice Day!". I can sit through an entire football game, as long as it's the Patriots, or even a baseball game (if it's the Red Sox crushing the Yankees, particularly in the playoffs.) And I realize sarcasm mostly doesn't work in America; even if people get it, they just assume you're being hostile. But the one Murican thing I still don't get is Thanksgiving. I fully understand the pleasure of gorging oneself on a turkey dinner (in Ireland, we do that at Christmas). Watching the mediocre football on TV (or worse yet, high-school football games in subfreezing temperatures on Thanksgiving morning), trying not to taunt people who voted for Donald Trump, etc. -- these I don't get. And I've grown sweet potatoes, and even tried on several occasions to ea…

Dulce et decorum est...

Ronnie Green, Chancellor of UNL, has an oped in today's Lincoln Journal Star. To say I find it unimpressive would be to put it mildly. Oddly, I think I miss having a lawyer at the helm. This comes on a weekend where graduate student Courtney Lawton was thrown to the wolves over the little spat between her and a Turning Point USA recruiter on Union Plaza (a traditional public forum). Courtney was a bit rude. Not rude by Dublin standards, but probably more than she should have been. I think the great gurus in Varner Hall decided that they couldn't fire her over what the courts would likely find protected political speech, but they could opt not to hire her again, and so they did. Those on temporary teaching assignments have always been vulnerable. Ronnie thinks we need a debate about free speech. This is my response. UNL is bound by the first amendment. There isn't a whole lot of debate to be had. The jurisprudence is well established. They might be able to make some time…

How to waste faculty time, UNL edition

One of the biggest destroyers of productivity at the University of Lincoln has to be their crappy, no-good, incompetently designed web site. I think the problem is the University of Nebraska has been hacked so many times, they decided that the best solution was to make it virtually impossible for anyone to get access. I have a password algorithm. It generates strong passwords. Trouble is, while it can accommodate occasional forced changes of passwords, it can't handle them every 6 months. But UNL makes us change them with that frequency. So I called up the IT manager, a few weeks ago, and told him there was good data indicating forcing people to change passwords frequently is less secure, because people can't remember the password and write it down. Aha, he said, but we're beta-testing two factor authentication. Would you like to be one of the testers. Sure, i said, like a damn fool So I changed my password and signed up. A few weeks ago, I tried it out. I couldn'…

Forensic analysis of the Mueller Investigation

Trump's nominee for CEQ chair doesn't know if water expands when it warms

Questioning by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse about absorption of heat by the oceans (a key component of climate change) established that Kathleen Hartnett White, the nominee for chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, does not know if water expands when it's heated.I don’t even know where to begin with @realdonaldtrump’s CEQ nominee Kathleen Hartnett White—she outright rejects basic science.— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) November 9, 2017

Snake in the Grasz

Leonard Steve Grasz is a fundamentalist anti-science nutcase from Omaha, who has been nominated by Trump to serve on the Federal Court of Appeals. He is being heavily supported by our two GOP senators, Fischer and Sasse. The latter, at least, should know better. In 1999, abusing his position as Nebraska's Deputy Attorney General, Grasz successfully petitioned the Nebraska Board of Education to weaken its position on the teaching of evolution. From the Skeptic, v.7, p.20 (1999) Steve Grasz, deputy attorney general, who questioned whether the standards interfere with religious fights because they appear to require that evolution be taught as objective fact rather than theory. Grasz further questioned the standards' requirements that high school seniors be able to explain macro-evolution and the rise of mammals; investigate and use the theory of biological evolution to explain diversity of life; and develop a scientific understanding of the origin of the universe. "This …


As of this morning, the GOP's 32 seat majority in Virginia's 100 seat House of Delegates is in jeopardy. Control of the House now depends on recounts. This, to me, is far more significant than Northam's 9 point win over Gillespie. Will the GOP learn anything? Probably not.


Coby Mach, local right-wing radio host, says the word 'becky' is racist. Context; during a recent campus tempest-in-a-teacup, a female undergraduate student, Kaitlyn Mullen, recruiting for the alt-right organization Turning Point USA, was confronted by three members of the UNL community. One of them, Courtney Lawton, a graduate student, called Mullen a 'becky'. So what is a becky? First cultural reference I can find is in the quite famous (i.e. I've actually heard of it) Sir Mixalot rap song 'Baby got Back'. It appears that it was a term used in the black community for a white girl. It doesn't seem to be malicious, but maybe it is dismissive. Later it was used in a crude rap celebration of fellatio, by some chump called Plies. In the eponymous song, 'becky' means both a blow-job and the person giving it. There really isn't a clear racial reference. Warning: don't click on that link if you're easily nauseated. This confusion ov…