Two mil

February 20, 2010

Counted it again.  We should pass the two million views mark in the coming week.

Thanks, Dear Readers.


Annals of global warming: Columbia Glacier, Alaska (by James Balog)

February 20, 2010

Actual observations of the world show global warming.  Time-lapse photos of the destruction of the Columbia Glacier, in Alaska, by James Balog, should make any person start wondering how to control warming processes.

It’s a film documenting warming, a film that Joanne Nova and Anthony Watts hope you will never see.*

James Balog, at TEDS, explains the stuff in under 20 minutes:

From National Geographic’s site:

© 2008 James Balog/Extreme Ice Survey

This remarkable image sequence captures a series of massive calving events at Columbia Glacier near Valdez, Alaska. Composed of 436 frames taken between May and September of 2007, it shows the glacier rapidly retreating by about half a mile (1.6 kilometers), a volume loss of some 0.4 cubic miles (1.67 cubic kilometers) of ice or 400 billion gallons (1.5 trillion liters) of water.

The time-lapse was taken as part of the ongoing Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), an ambitious project to capture global warming-induced glacial retreat in the act. Beginning in December 2006, photographer James Balog and his colleagues set up 26 solar-powered cameras at glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, the Alps, and the Rocky Mountains. Each unit will take a photograph every daylight hour until fall 2009.

In 2008, Balog’s team began to return to each of the camera sites to collect images. In the end, they will have more than 300,000 images to analyze and stitch together to produce more dramatic videos like this one.

This kind of multiyear effort, says Balog, is necessary to “radically alter public perception of the global warming issue.”

Don’t miss: Extreme Ice a NOVA/National Geographic Television special airing on PBS March 24, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.

Resources:

_____________

Am I too harsh?  Go over to those blogs and see if you can find the WordPress pingback listed in the comments to those posts, for this post’s link to them.  No?  Then they’ve gone in and deleted the message.  It’s automatic on WordPress, and it works wonderfully.  But if they have the readership they claim, and if they are so certain of their views, why do they fear Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub?


School issued computers as spy devices

February 20, 2010

Anyone with a school-issued computer ought to check it over, now.  And maybe put a towel over the thing.  Unplug it, and take the battery out.

And, oh, do I wish I had an AP Government class to discuss this with!

Did you hear the one about Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, school officials spying on students’ bedrooms?

Good discussion at the Volokh Conspiracy:  “Big Teacher Is Watching You?

According to the Complaint in Robbins v. Lower Merion School District (filed a week ago),

2. Unbeknownst to [high school students and their parents], and without their authorization, [high school officials] have been spying on the activities of [the students] by Defendants’ indiscrimina[te] use of and ability to remotely activate the webcams incorporated into each laptop issued to students by the School District….23…. Plaintiffs were for the first time informed of [this] capability and practice by the School District when … an Assistant Principal at Harriton High School[] informed minor Plaintiff that the School District was of the belief that minor Plaintiff was engaged in improper behavior in his home, and cited as evidence a photograph from the webcam embedded in minor Plaintiff’s personal laptop issued by the School District….

24. [The minor Plaintiff’s father] thereafter verified, through [the Assistant Principal], that the School District in fact has the ability to remotely activate the webcam contained in a students’ personal laptop computer issued by the School District at any time it chose and to view and capture whatever images were in front of the webcam, all without the knowledge, permission or authorization of any persons then and there using the laptop computer.

If this was indeed done, and if it was done without adequately notifying the students and their parents, this was clearly tortious, likely a violation of the Fourth Amendment, and possibly a statutory violation as well (though I haven’t looked closely at the statutory details). It is also appalling — school officials spying on children in their parents’ homes without the children’s and parents’ permission. Who thinks up such things?

Who thinks them up, and can we get them to wear a badge so we know they’re not in our school?

Ed Brayton’s Dispatches from the Culture Wars already is on the story — a few good comments there.

A statement from the Lower Merion School District generally ignores the specifics of the allegations in the case, and claims that the monitoring of the self-contained web-cams was done only when a computer was reported stolen.  In the complaint, the plaintiffs allege that a student was reprimanded for behaviors caught on the camera, while the student was at home.  The statement is very much what we would expect from a rich district caught doing something wrong after getting better advice from their attorneys than they thought they needed before they did the wrong thing.

An Associated Press story (here in the Washington Post) said the FBI has opened an investigation into whether school officials violated anti-wiretapping laws.

The suit filed is a civil suit.  Assuming its allegations to be correct, I think the plaintiffs may want to add RICO sections to the complaint.  Under the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act a pattern of practices like illegal use of the webcams could easily be evidence to trigger RICO  penalties, which included treble damages.  Such a charge would also scare the textbooks out of school officials thinking they might want to do this in the future.

Comments at the Volokh Conspiracy, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, and in the AP story in the WaPo all raised the spectre of child pornography.  If the computers caught images of children in their bedrooms, it might automatically qualify as child porn — and this would greatly complicate the case, and ramp up the noise surrounding it.

School districts who issue laptops to students, or teachers, should review the story and their own procedures and regulations.

Also:


Reaction to the Millard Fillmore dollar

February 20, 2010

Millard Fillmore’s dollar got a bit of coverage — well, more than the dollar for Zachary Taylor, so far as I can tell.  It was not a big story.

The Wall Street Journal carried a page 1 feature. Some of the most fun coverage came out of local newspapers in Buffalo and Moravia, New York.

From the Berkshire-Hathaway-owned Buffalo News:

MORAVIA — When the U.S. Mint wanted to unveil a new $1 Millard Fillmore coin, it went to the 13th president’s birthplace to do the honors.

That’s this town of 4,000 in the Finger Lakes, where about a quarter of the population turned out Thursday to pay tribute to their favorite son.

But what about Buffalo, where he served as the University of Buffalo’s first chancellor and helped found a historical society and a hospital?

No problem. The same U.S. Mint official came to Buffalo to hold a second unveiling in Fillmore’s adopted hometown, where about three dozen people showed up at City Hall.

And in the Auburn, New York, Citizen, a story of a crowd much larger than anticipated:

MORAVIA – With close to 1,000 witnesses watching, a young Millard Fillmore impersonator and his equally sprite make-believe wife Abigail poured from a wooden bucket a stream of coins bearing the face of the 13th president and Moravia native.

The United States Mint Thursday released its 13th presidential dollar coin, honoring Millard Fillmore, at a ceremony in the Moravia Junior Senior School cafeteria, which was not large enough to accommodate the crowd of community members who had come to celebrate a president whose national legacy is not legendary, but whose roots are their roots.

“This is a grand, grand event,” Moravia Mayor Gary Mulvaney said, as he waited in a line that started at the cafeteria doors and wound through the school.

James P. McCoy’s photos of the unveiling and the large mockup of the dollar itself are good (you could steal them for a PowerPoint in your classroom), but I especially enjoyed the pictures in the Auburn paper, by Sam Tenney.  Two middle school students played Abigail and Millard Fillmore at the ceremony in Moravia.

Eleanor Younger, 10, and Colton Langtry, 12, portraying Abigail Powers Fillmore and Millard Fillmore, help Andy Brunhart, deputy director of the United States Mint, pour a bucket of $1 coins - Sam Tenney photo, Auburn, NY Citizen

Caption from the Auburn, New York, Citizen: "Eleanor Younger, 10, and Colton Langtry, 12, portraying Abigail Powers Fillmore and Millard Fillmore, help Andy Brunhart, deputy director of the United States Mint, pour a bucket of $1 coins bearing Fillmore's likeness during a ceremony celebrating the release of the coin Thursday morning at Moravia High School. The Fillmore coin is the 13th in a series honoring past presidents." Photo by Sam Tenney, Auburn, NY, Citizen

Uncharacteristically, the U.S. Mint offered some of the $1.00 coins to students for free — perhaps the only recorded time that the Mint has handed out money for free.

Looks like they had a good time.


%d bloggers like this: