Thursday, 3 July 2014

07:29 – Fourteen months ago, I mentioned that Joe Hester, who lives down the street from us, had been charged with sex offenses against a student in the high school where he taught. This morning’s paper reports the resolution of that case. Mr. Hester was sentenced to a prison term of 7 years and 10 months to 14 years and 5 months and was ordered to register as a sex offender for 30 years following his release. All of that for what I suspect was probably consensual activity with a 15-year-old girl. As Barbara said, the punishment was all out of proportion to the crime. This guy will spend more time in prison than the habitual drunk driver who killed the mother of one of Barbara’s co-workers recently. I don’t know Joe. This all happened very soon after he and his wife bought the house down the street. I’ve only talked with the guy once for a few minutes, and have never done more than shout hello to his wife. But he seemed like a nice enough guy. And now he’s ruined not just his own life, but his wife’s as well.


12:21 – I’ve been dithering for a while about doing an AP Chemistry kit. I’d originally intended to introduce one in 2012, but the College Board had announced that they’d have a completely revised set of AP Chemistry labs in 2013. So I waited on those. I wasn’t happy when I saw what CB had done. They reduced the number of labs and (as far as I’m concerned) dumbed them down considerably.

To do the labs as specified, a homeschooler needs an accurate balance/scale. That’s not a problem. One can buy an electronic scale with 100 or 200 g capacity and centigram (0.01 g) resolution on Amazon for $10. A balance with 20 g capacity and milligram (0.001 g) resolution costs about $20. That’s doable for most homeschoolers. But the new labs also require a visible-light spectrophotometer (or at least a colorimeter) and a pH meter. A pH meter with useful resolution and accuracy runs $100 or more, and even the least expensive standard spectrophotometers start at $500 and go up rapidly from there.

I’d about decided to do a lab kit that covered the new AP Chemistry labs as closely as possible without requiring a lot of expensive equipment, but unfortunately “as closely as possible” wouldn’t have been very close at all. Part of the AP Chemistry lab experience is supposed to be learning to use this type of equipment.

I finally decided to do an AP Chemistry lab kit that uses an inexpensive electronic balance, that $100 pH meter, the $115 Vernier Colorimeter and the $61 Vernier Go!Link interface. The balance and pH meter I already have. I just ordered the Vernier stuff, which should arrive next week. The Vernier colorimeter isn’t a perfect solution. Unlike a true spectrophotometer, which allows varying the wavelength of the light continuously or in very small increments, the colorimeter offers only four discrete wavelengths, but that suffices to teach the important concepts.

I think I can take the balance(s) as a given, but there will be many homeschool parents who do not want to or cannot afford to spend $100 on a pH meter or $176 on the colorimeter and interface. For them, I’ll provide data that I gather myself and that their students can use to graph and analyze as they would if they actually had the instruments. It won’t be the full lab experience, obviously, but it’ll be a lot better than nothing.

I’m also concerned about the dumbing down thing. The truth is that our standard CK01A kit, which we specify as honors first-year chemistry level, is considerably more rigorous than the new AP Chemistry, which is supposedly second-year level. So, I plan to do the AP Chemistry labs as specified, but to fill out the kit manual with additional lab sessions that are actually of appropriate rigor for a second-year chemistry lab course for students who plan to go on to major in STEM at college.

101 thoughts on “Thursday, 3 July 2014”

  1. It does seem like the legislature ought to have some sort of scale of crimes and punishments, and make an effort to ensure proportionality. Add to that: the US is obsessed with being “tough on crime” – prison-happy – and gives very long prison terms compared to the rest of the world. Especially for victimless crimes like drug use.

    Just as a comparison, I looked up a recent case here in Switzerland. A guy who had consensual sex with 2-3 underage girls, his first offense. The prosecution demanded a 12 month prison sentence followed by 2 years of probation.

    After a year’s prison term, someone may may be able to resume a career and once again be a productive member of society. After 10 years, forget it – you’ve destroyed their life – more than likely they will be on the dole forever. That’s a consequence that ought to also flow into sentencing decisions.

  2. Looks like he admitted everything and it couldn’t have been for a plea bargain because if so, he still got slammed with a heavy sentence. I’m guessing the caper was probably consensual to a point and then once the little twitch told her friends, she had to claim abuse and molestation. It’s still on him, though; you just can’t do that shit.

    The Swiss sentence would seem more appropriate but of course our courts and sentencing procedures are insane.

  3. The plea was that he admitted everything and the judge combined sentences so he ended up serving them in parallel rather than serial. If the judge hadn’t combined sentences, he’d probably have been sentenced to 35 to 60 years.

    I’ve heard no hint that the girl claimed that anything was not consensual on her part. Even Barbara and Kim, who are not known for having sympathy for “sex offenders”, are outraged at the severity of the sentence. Both agreed that he should have been fired and never allowed to teach again but should otherwise have been sentenced to only a short term. My attitude was that he should have been fired and fined. When there’s not even a hint of non-consensual behavior and the girl is 15 years old, this should have been treated like a traffic infraction rather than a felony.

  4. Well, the moral of this little nooz vignette is that we menz must never ever find ourselves alone with *any* females or young boys, period. Other than our wives and girlfriends, of course, and even then we better watch our step.

    When I was a teaching assistant and English instructor at those four Northeast colleges twenty+ years ago, we would have “office hours” and appointments/meetings with our students every semester. I always met with mine in public places, especially the university libraries, and I don’t mean way up in the fifth-floor stacks in the study carrels, either. Out on the main floor by the soon to be defunct card catalogs.

    Same thing applies to work colleagues and church choirmasters, etc; don’t be alone with anybody. A main worry nowadays are false accusations and then it becomes “he said—she said” and they always go with “she said.” And then pile on a draconian sentence worse than what murderers and dope dealers get.

  5. It’s hysteria, much like the Salem Witch Trials.

    Again, ultimately this all comes down to Judeo-Christian attitudes about sex being bad.

  6. “…this all comes down to Judeo-Christian attitudes about sex being bad.”

    To some extent. But a lot of the recent stuff is simply power-grubbing by grievance whores and pimps and their State and academic and media enablers. It’s a way of achieving some kind of dominance over people that they would otherwise not be able to get for themselves. I’m sure the only people who went away happy from that case were the lawyers and the media.

    Also, some J-C attitudes stipulate that certain types of sex are, in fact, bad, such as that between adults and minor children or between close relatives. That is not to say that we should then throw the baby out with the bathwater; some strictures are necessary and useful.

    But yeah, there is an element of hysteria in there, like the series of child molestation accusations and cases years ago that later turned out to be bullshit and/or capers designed for political purposes and prosecutorial glory. With the usual media enablers and instigators.

  7. As I’ve said in the past, a lot depends on how you define “minor” and “child”. My attitude has always been that nature defines it for us. When boys begin to produce sperm and girls begin to menstruate, that’s nature telling us that they are sexually mature, and that should have very heavy weight in any determination of “age of consent”.

    Now, I will admit that in modern society girls in particular are reaching menarche so much earlier than previously that some adjustment is needed. With some girls starting their periods as early as seven years old, I would have to say that nature made a mistake in their cases. No 7-year-old girl could reasonably be considered an adult for consent purposes. (Although, IIRC, at least one state–Delaware, I think–defined the age of consent for girls as 7, and that’s been fairly recently, say within the last 40 years or so.)

    If it were me being forced to define an arbitrary age of consent, I think I’d say 12 or 13 for girls and a year or two older for boys. But certainly anything older than 14 for either is ridiculous. Laws need to reflect reality, and the reality is that 14-year-olds are sexually mature and capable of making decisions about their own bodies. Will some of them make bad decisions? Sure, but then a lot of 20- and 30-year-olds also make bad decisions. The trick is to educate them early, make sure they understand birth control and sexually-transmitted diseases, and give them the tools to protect themselves.

    But the real problem is that religions hate the idea that anyone anywhere might be allowed to do something that feels good. They are nasty things, religions are. There’s nothing “dirty” or “evil” about sex or nudity or masturbation, and smart parents will make sure that their kids understand that.

  8. Incidentally, I also have no problem with implementing an age-difference criterion. For girls 14 years old or less, we might make the maximum legal age for the guy, say, 22, and for girls 15 or 16 years old the maximum age for the guy might be 28 or 30.

  9. Wait! I’m reading the article, and from my reading there wasn’t even any sexual intercourse involved!

    Case dismissed.

  10. No, from the article there was no penetration of any type, oral, vaginal, or anal. Furthermore, the fact that one of the counts involved video sexual activity via Skype, it’s pretty clear that this was consensual from start to finish.

  11. “The trick is to educate them early, make sure they understand birth control and sexually-transmitted diseases, and give them the tools to protect themselves.”

    I just wanna make sure we’re on the same page here; you do realize we are discussing *teenagers*, right? Perhaps you’ve known some truly mature and rational ones in your time. I have not. When “Nature” kicks in, she kicks in good and hard, pun intended, and no amount of “education” or “tools” other than the obvious one will be of any relevance at that moment.

    And I bet we’ll agree that there are some 20+ and 30+ humans out there that should not be “…making decisions about their own bodies…”

    Frankly I don’t know what to do about this; clearly we have very strong vestiges of J-C/Puritan attitudes toward sexuality; also clearly, we’ve had an epidemic of STDs, divorce, broken marriagea and families, and outright progressively accepted perversions since the Glorious Sixties of the Kinsey operations and the “feminist revolution.”

    I suspect there is a tiny percentage of adolescent boys and girls who are capable, rational and mature enough to engage in sexual relations with other people out there. The rest are not, and the consequences are all around us, as with the denizens just a block from here or up the street or in our inner cities.

    Restrictions and age criteria? I can only see it working on a case-by-case basis; if forced to a cutoff? For legal reasons? I’d put it at seventeen for both. With no age difference greater than ten years. Without getting into the other huge issues of marriage, family, birth control and abortion.

  12. “…from my reading there wasn’t even any sexual intercourse involved!”

    Oh boy. Where to start.

    You clearly are not on board with the latest femrad thinking, sir.

    The “male gaze” suffices in and of itself as to become not only sexual intercourse, but rape. In fact, the mere existence of males in the world is de facto rape and repression of wimmenz.

  13. An unbelievable photo of a Marine after an Afghan IED went off. We send these youngsters out for stupid wars. The leaders of our country for decades should be the ones leading the charge. This guys has more guts than I will ever have. A real hero.

  14. The Great State of Texas has the age differential law. Anything goes as long as there is three years or less between the involved. It used to be two years until a decade or two ago.

  15. That Marine is amazing; I hope it all works out for him and that any mental health stuff is also being looked at; stuff can jump out on ya at anytime, even half a century later.

    I dug this person’s comment:

    “Nurse Gladys, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom, 1 hour ago
    Meanwhile a politician tucks into a huge lunch claims his expenses and woefully decides which other poor soldier should fight a pointless war.”

    Yup.

  16. We haven’t had any “leaders” for a very long time. The origin of that word is that the leader led the charge, literally.

    I would have respect for Bush and Obama if they had actually put themselves at the sharp end, where they’d have had as much a chance of being shot or blown up as the troops they were leading. I have only contempt for so-called leaders who send others to do the dirty, dangerous jobs, and more so for those who keep their own kids at home while they send other people’s kids to get their asses shot off.

  17. I think I can take the balance(s) as a given, but there will be many homeschool parents who do not want to or cannot afford to spend $100 on a pH meter or $176 on the colorimeter and interface. For them, I’ll provide data that I gather myself and that their students can use to graph and analyze as they would if they actually had the instruments. It won’t be the full lab experience, obviously, but it’ll be a lot better than nothing.

    Do you ever see groups of parents getting together to teach their kids? As a group they might be able to afford one set of these items.

    We home schooled our son for 10th through 12th grades. We paid a lady chemistry teacher at our church to teach him (it was a group of us actually for four kids). Worked out extremely well. I have no idea what tools she used in her teaching as my wife totally handled it. My son came away with an excellent understanding of chemistry (in fact just got his bachelors in chemistry and physics from the University of Houston).

  18. No, from the article there was no penetration of any type, oral, vaginal, or anal. Furthermore, the fact that one of the counts involved video sexual activity via Skype, it’s pretty clear that this was consensual from start to finish.

    At most, this is a case of sexual harassment.

  19. Yes, that’s certainly an option. In fact, one of my goals is to do classroom kits for small groups (say, three workgroups per kit, with each workgroup being one to three students). We’ll target those to homeschool co-ops as well as private and public high schools.

  20. Time was when anybody considering a run at political office, had to have military service on their CV to get elected. In fact, that was in my lifetime. A couple guys I knew enlisted solely because they thought they wanted to be in politics eventually.

  21. Young Biden’s tour of duty there and regular mil-spec service was/is as a lawyer. Not a bad gig in the military most of the time. Algore also served, in ‘Nam; for an abbreviated tour as a “Stars and Stripes” reporter and he had a guy assigned to him as a minder/bodyguard role.

    The fact remains, very few pols have served themselves or have children serving. And during my tours with Uncle I met zero rich kids and while this may mean nothing much, no Jewish kids, yet I saw the latter signing up for the IDF instead.

    Vast majority were working- and middle-class white kids and we also did most of the getting wounded and dying, too. Per usual, going back many, many centuries.

  22. Again, ultimately this all comes down to Judeo-Christian attitudes about sex being bad.

    Better take the “Judeo” out of that equation. Under Jewish tradition, sex is encouraged. It is considered a mitzvah to have sex with your spouse on the sabbath. Traditionally there was a stigma on children born of an adulterous relationship, but not on children born out of wedlock and few Jews would stigmatize either today. Rabbis are expected to be married. Most Jews today do not take Leviticus literally. For that matter, most Jews today are atheists. Most Jews tend to be Democrats, but far more would be Republicans if the Republicans did not flaunt their religion and try to shove it down peoples’ throats.

    Rick, the atheistic, libertarian Jew in Portland

  23. Do you ever see groups of parents getting together to teach their kids? As a group they might be able to afford one set of these items.

    I know such groups exist as one of my cow-orkers here in Houston worked with one based at his church. They had some kind of a rental deal with a stock of texts and durable goods available.

    I’d think having alternative versions of the labs using the spectrophotometers is doable.

    Also, you can pitch that the milligram balance is useful for molecular gastronomy at home.

  24. Huh? According to Judaism women are “dirty” almost half the month, aren’t they? And when they lose their virginity they are instantly “dirty”, not so?

  25. “useful for molecular gastronomy”

    Yeah, not to mention other lab gear. I remember being stunned when I saw a Roto-Vap on offer at a molecular gastronomy vendor.

  26. The guy down the street…

    He knew the rules and went ahead, therefore he deserves what he got. I think his sentence is completely excessive, but he should be fired and banned from teaching for life. I also think he should spend *some* time inside because there should be rigid barriers between students and teachers while they are still in that relationship.

  27. “Huh? According to Judaism women are “dirty” almost half the month, aren’t they? And when they lose their virginity they are instantly “dirty”, not so?”

    Yep. And in my experience, most girls (at least back when I was in my teens and 20’s) consider themselves “dirty” when they’re menstruating. I think at most maybe 10% were even willing to consider having sex during their periods, although most who got past the yuckiness factor enjoyed it as much then as at any other time. And some who wouldn’t even consider it elsewhere were willing to try it in the shower.

  28. For this guy the real problem is that he’s slightly built and kind of effeminate. Not a good combination for someone facing years in prison.

  29. Not just while they’re bleeding. There’s a protocol to this that’s unbelievably complicated. They are still unclean for a number of days after their period stopped, then they have a special bath and are considered clean again. That takes a number of days, and sometimes a rabbi has to check, physically, that the woman has stopped bleeding. So, it seemed to me that half the month could be off limits.

    As to the yuckiness factor, one of my friends didn’t mind having sex with women when they were bleeding: he called the resultant mixture of bodily fluids a raspberry ripple. But I agree that the shower would be the best place to avoid having to wash all the bedding. And you’d probably want to shower afterwards anyway.

  30. Even if your neighbor was built like Arnie he’s going to have a lot of enemies on the inside.

  31. “Even if your neighbor was built like Arnie he’s going to have a lot of enemies on the inside.”

    I was actually just talking to Kim about this and she made pretty much the same comment. I’m not so sure. As I said to Kim, prison inmates are pretty much like the rest of us except that they’ve committed a crime and gotten caught. They have wives and mothers and children just like anyone else. And they are no more likely to harm a child than any of us are. So, yeah, if Joe had been convicted of hurting/raping/killing a child (as opposed to having consensual sex with a young woman) I certainly wouldn’t want to sell him a life insurance policy.

    But every guy in there knows that a 15-year-old girl isn’t a child and that many girls of that age are very sexually attractive to normal men of any age, that many in fact go out of their way to be as sexually attractive as possible. And every guy also knows that many 15-year-old girls are, as the Brits say, gagging for a shag. So the situation is very different. None of those other prisoners can imagine ever raping a child themselves, but every one of them can imagine getting in trouble for having sex with jailbait. If anything, I suspect the average prisoner would have more sympathy for the guy than anything. Not that that’s going to help him when Bubba tells him that he wants to be close friends. As Bill Gates used to say, BOGU.

  32. Indiana has extremely overcrowded jails, and recently passed some new laws that are supposedly aimed at correcting that. Although they are going light on drug possession, they have upped the mandatory minimum time-served sentences from 50% to 75%. How that is going to help overcrowding is a mystery to me. Only applies to new sentences after 1 July, so previous offenders are grandfathered to the old rules.

    I agree with RBT that it is acceptance of both Judeo and Christian (especially Calvinist) principles that actually encourages rejoicing over punishing people for what they perceive as ‘sins’. Emma Goldman condemned Christianity as the worst thing that has ever happened to humanity. I have to agree. It is as much unfounded mumbo-jumbo mystification as witchcraft. And if there were a devil, Calvin is it.

  33. The other thing that is really disturbing to me, is that there is always great outcry when someone accused protests his innocence and therefore offers no apology. Media, observers, and even judges condemn those who ‘express no remorse or regret’ over their actions. Then, when somebody like this kid owns up to something that was pretty damned obvious it was consensual and did not even involve actual intercourse, he gets the book thrown at him regardless. This is precisely what religion encourages, while pretending that confessing makes it all better. What a hypocritical sham!

  34. Yeah, looking at it again, he probably shoulda fought it tooth and nail and insisted it was consensual and she came on to him, etc., etc., what’s a poor red-blooded Murkan male to do, etc. If they were gonna throw the book at him anyway; maybe if he’d denied it and fought it he coulda got off entirely. On the other hand, if he made them fight and then lost, he’d probably get the death penalty instead. Totally messed up case.

    “…And if there were a devil, Calvin is it.”

    We can agree on that, at least. And I’d also nominate Henry VIII and Luther.

  35. There was 10 years difference in the ages of several of the grandparents of my childhood friends. I do not believe the sliding scales mentioned here are nearly wide enough. Definitely not Texas. It certainly is not inconceivable that a senior boy would find and enjoy a freshman girl, with mutual feelings. That is a minimum reasonable difference. A neighborhood friend, who died recently of lukemia at 70+ years, moved to Tiny Town from Tennessee. He met his wife when she was 14 and he was 20. She quit school a few months later to get married and they had several kids. He was a tool and die maker, and she became a nurse. Nobody complained about their age difference, including the parents when they got married. My parents knew them well, and they were a wonderfully happy couple who achieved a lot during their time together.

    Twenty years difference when the girl is a teen — yeah, that is off-base. But as much as 10 or 12 is no big deal, IMO.

  36. I agree, although I see nothing wrong whatsoever with an adult (i.e., 18 or older) woman marrying a guy of any age. Or the converse, come to that. Let’s give young adult women, say those from age 12 or 13 to 15 or 16, some protection against much older guys, unless the guy actually marries the girl.

    There was a case a few years ago in NC of an older guy (~ 40 IIRC) who married a girl of 15. It was all legal, and with her parents’ permission (required in NC for a girl to marry at that age). The guy was subsequently arrested and charged with a felony for having had sex with his wife because she was only 15 at the time the first time it happened.

  37. I think we may be agreed that the desired object here would be to get the State out of the marriage business altogether. And stop licensing us like livestock or pets.

    From there we can work out age spreads and the like for sexual relations, and recognize also that these may vary somewhat across regions and states; what flies OK in Maffachufetts (or not) is probably gonna be way different from how it is in Mississippi.

    This one-size-fits-all bullshit in some kind of imperial nation-state deal has gotta go.

  38. “We can agree on that, at least. And I’d also nominate Henry VIII and Luther.”

    Dave, Dave, Dave…

    What about the Borgias? I agree Calvin and Luther got some stuff wrong but calling him a devil goes too far, even for me.

    All hail James Arminius! All hail John Wesley!

  39. Well, we should all agree that religious True Believers have been responsible for more human death and suffering than any other agency. Kind of like a zero-tolerance policy on steroids.

  40. “…religious True Believers…”

    If we can also agree that totalitarians like the Nazis and Commies ran their true-believer regimes as a form of religion.

  41. Of course they were. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, et alia were all literally objects of worship.

    All religious True Believers abandon rationality, and irrational people do things that rational people would never even consider doing. Their gods demand it, and who can argue with gods?

    Those dictators, though, at least had the advantage of actually existing. How much less rational is it to worship a non-existent god?

  42. Huh? According to Judaism women are “dirty” almost half the month, aren’t they? And when they lose their virginity they are instantly “dirty”, not so?

    Only the ultra Orthodox, a small minority of Jews, believe that any more. Judaism is at least as diverse as Christianity. It only takes two Jews to have three factions. Saying this is like say “According to Christianity, the world is about 4,000 years old”.

    I have never been reluctant to have sex with a menstruating woman. Fortunately, my wife of 34 years never had a problem with it when it could have been an issue.

    Rick in Portland

  43. And the latest European news: the USA demands increased airport security due to increasing terrorist threats. Time to beat the drum again…

  44. During the 3 weeks when I was flat-out with daily work out-of-town, I admit I did not get to the posts here. But in looking for that networking fix for Jim B yesterday, I stumbled across this question from Ray that I never got to.

    Ray Thompson says:
    19 May 2014 at 19:54

    Chuck, what is it with music on CD’s today? All the tracks are maxed out to the point of 50% of the track is clipped. I thought making music loud was the function of the amplifiers and not the D-A converters. Once digital clips the sound is horribly distorted. Are the audio engineers of today that clueless? Or are they just audio idiots?

    Them that puts up the money, calls the tune — and the tech specs. The engineers are not in favor of this stuff; they know good sound from bad, but they are forced to do it by the people they work for. This loudness all started years ago in AM radio. Program directors got the notion (I have NEVER seen statistics of any kind to back this up, but there are plenty of radio people who have anecdotes) that if the sound was louder, more people would listen. The reasoning was that when people tuned across the dial, they would stop on a station that was louder. In actuality, I am not sure people can actually discern which station is louder, except that one may be out-of-town and another one noticeably in-town.

    However, the technicalities of AM radio prevented loud over a certain point. If you modulated the carrier over 100%, on the negative peak swings of modulation, when you passed 100%, it turned the carrier off. So for many years, there was a limit to loudness. Then Westinghouse in Chicago, started experimenting with their not-so-powerful 5kw WIND as a brainy engineer figured out how to let the positive peaks pass 100%, but yet stop the negative peaks from crossing 100%. Sure enough, it made the station sound somewhat louder, but now the sound was no longer pure and true to the original.

    Vinyl records had similar limitations. Turntable records are really awful media with which to accomplish faithful reproduction. On the outside grooves, the needle speeds over the surface at incredible rates, but the inside grooves slow surface movement stupendously, and that affects the ability to achieve linear fidelity across an entire album. More importantly, there has to be enough separation between the grooves so the needle does not jump from one groove to another, or so the walls of the groove do not break down and actually cross over into each other. Like the 100% modulation limitation of AM radio, there was a limit to how loud you could make a vinyl record, while getting grooves close enough to get 12 to 14 tracks on one side of an album, or a 5 minute song on one side of a 45rpm single.

    There is a story about the mastering engineer who worked with the late O’Kelly Isley on one of the follow-up songs to the Isley’s “It’s Your Thing”. O’Kelly insisted that the song was not loud enough. So the mastering guy made it louder. The test pressings were tried on the usual spread of playback machines, and all of them skipped grooves. He went back to O’Kelly and told him. O’Kelly’s response was that “It’s Your Thing” was loud and skipped, “and it skipped all the way to number one! Make it loud!” And so it was. Now you never heard that on the radio, because 1) they got special pressings, and 2) if it did skip, the production people tried stuff with the turntable until they got a pass when it did not skip, and THAT pass was recorded to cart. By the mid-70’s, EVERYTHING that played on the radio was on tape cartridges, because there was no time needed for manual cueing, quality was better, and ‘cue-burn’ scratches from backing the record up from the start point for instant start-ups never occurred.

    With CD’s, there is nothing physical to limit how loud one can make the disc content. It is a matter between the laser reading content and the software decoding that content.

    But the marketing department rules, and they think loud sells more discs. Everybody in the process knows that modern CD’s are mastered too loud and clips peak content. Radio is especially aware of this, because they do further processing before transmission, and that further processing makes that clipping super-obvious. That still does not stop the CD makers from mastering loud, because record companies no longer believe that radio play sells music, so they do not give a rat’s fig what radio wants anymore.

    This guy in the Netherlands, Hans Zutphen, has created a software solution (in Stereo Tool) that actually undoes the clipping in music. I have to attest that I have never heard an A-B demonstration of his software that was convincing. I have it here, and while I can SEE that it unwinds clipping, I cannot HEAR the benefit. People at the yearly broadcaster equipment convention say they can hear the difference, so I guess my equipment does not offer enough resolution as theirs.

    Only the classical genre seems immune from the loudness wars. That is a fragile, contracting market, and nobody is willing to take it to a cliff.

    There is no escaping the loudness wars. I have 3 separate CD tracks of The Sweet Inspirations doing “Sweet Inspiration” from entirely different compilations. All of them are clipped to noticeable distortion. Hans’ declipper does not fix that bad sound. I also have the original promotion copy of the single from the late ’60’s, and it sounds unclipped and fine, but it is scratchy to an extreme and mono, not stereo. So the CD’s still sounds better and is what I use.

    This is just one example of why I say that the idea unregulated free-for-all markets are the ultimate answer for consumers is bullshit. You and I can hear the distortion. Neither of us wants it. Whatever we do (not buying product ourselves) has not stopped the insane unprovable belief, that this crap sells more records. So you and I get a crappy-sounding product with no recourse whatever. Multiply this to the pharma industry, to the auto industry (where they gawddamn well KNOW they are putting out inferior, unsafe products), big agra and their GMO and seed licensing, and what do you have? Big problems for consumers, caused by profit greed, some of it unquestionably affecting health issues. The free markets as they have developed in the US, are almost universally unconcerned with quality, except to avoid getting sued. That ain’t serving or protecting consumers. Helluva way to run a country.

  45. Yeah I heard some kinda nooz like that; something about renewed terror threats from Al-Q, etc., blah, blah, blah, and how they might used devices and human bombs on aircraft, etc., pretty much the same stuff they’ve done since…oh….the 1970s….

    The box-cutter caper on 9/11 was a one-trick pony like the shoe bomb, that won’t be used again. In any case, the 9/11 Official Story is so full of holes it beggars the imagination. I think our boy Dickie Cheney’s mitts are all over it, and Shrub had no clue until afterward, and since then the latter sez nothing and paints paintings. I don’t even think Rummy had a clue at the time; the guy was out in his shirtsleeves at the Pentagon helping people onto stretchers and could have been killed himself. It finally dawned on him that he better get up to his office and start doing stuff. Zip for public statements from him since then, too. But Dickie is all over the place flapping his gums.

  46. In any case, the 9/11 Official Story is so full of holes it beggars the imagination.

    Not really. It was an al-Qaeda operation, pure and simple.

  47. Well, yes, Al Queda. But the government did some very strange things in reaction. That plane that quietly and quickly got a bunch of Saudi bigwigs out of the country – despite (because?) most of the terrorists were Saudis. The whole decision for a full-scale invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, instead of something more limited and surgical. The expert management of the crisis to push through a massive increase of government power.

    Al Queda commited the initial act, killing about as many people as die in a month in auto accidents. The U.S. government took over from there and inflicted the real damage on the country.

  48. I’m hardly an authority on ritual in Judaism but from what I’ve seen in Wikipedia not only all (or almost all) Orthodox are in to this purity stuff, but also many Conservatives. I can’t believe that some people make observance of the minutest rules the centre of their lives.

  49. No, it is making OTHER people obey them or be sorry that is the center of their lives.

    Did you read the comments on that story about RBT’s neighbor? When I saw them, ALL made reference to how the guy had no Christian values.

  50. ALL made reference to how the guy had no Christian values.

    I don’t have a problem with people being religious, but I really detest it when people are overt about it. In this case, it’s all about people patting themselves on the back and feeling superior.

    Reminds me of a certain group of people I know – distant family – exactly the sort of people who consider themselves “good Christians”. Hmmm…marriages/divorces with absolute losers, teenage pregnancies, drug problems, jail time, you name it and they got it. Yup, but they got them good Christian values, and they sure do feel free to tell others how they ought to live their lives.

  51. Also, going to church for an hour a week frees you up to lie and cheat the other 167 hours per week without feeling any guilt. Who wouldn’t want to sign up for that?

    Even for christers who don’t feel they have a blanket pass to lie to and cheat everyone all the time, a sizeable fraction feel it’s OK to lie to, steal from, and break promises to non-christians. “They’re not our people”, and that makes them sub-human. It’s a good thing I’m a better person than they are, because turn-about is fair play, and if they’re not one of my tribe then there’s no reason for me not to do anything I like to them.

  52. I’m amazed at how sensitive the inexpensive lab equipment has become. The resolutions claimed for the balance and spec you cited would have cost quite a bit not too long ago. And you wouldn’t have found it OTC, only in lab supply catalogs. Increase in sensitivity and resolution has become the norm in “real” lab equipment too. The new spec in my lab has no trouble with 4µL (that’s 4 microliter) samples. As a reference, according to WolframAlpha, that is the amount of water in a “typical snowflake”.

  53. Yep. I’ll never forget the lecture when I started as a chemistry major in 1971. The lab had Mettler balances that cost as much as a new car and had milligram resolution. I have one of those AWS Gemini 20 milligram balances sitting right in front of me. I paid $22 including shipping from Amazon. Same deal on pH meters. I remember a time not all that long ago when a pH meter that had better than 0.1 pH resolution was an expensive item. Nowadays, you can buy one with 0.02 or 0.01 pH resolution for $100.

    Eventually, although it’ll be years from now, once I get all the kits designed and available that I want to do, I plan to go after more esoteric science instrumentation. There’s no reason that that colorimeter I just paid $115 for should cost anything close to that. It’s basically a box with four LEDs in it and a USB interface. With 3D printers getting more capable and cheaper and electronic components basically free, it should be possible to produce these very inexpensively. The software could be OSS/PD. There are several other instruments that every homeschooler/DIY science hobbyist should be able to buy cheaply, and those’ll be next. Then I want to get into serious gear. NMR, HPLC, MS, and so on. All of those should be cheaply makable at specs that are very useful for home and school work, and probably even for some industrial use.

  54. Gee, I dunno; there are probably a coupla billion Christers in the world and I bet not all of them are flaming assholes, bigots and hypocrites.

    Or mass murderers.

    Just sayin.

  55. That plane that quietly and quickly got a bunch of Saudi bigwigs out of the country – despite (because?) most of the terrorists were Saudis.

    It is all about oil. I do not think that people understand our addiction to cheap energy and the devastation that will result if that cheap energy ever goes away. Food and shelter may be our two greatest concerns but energy multipliers has nudged right up there under those two. And to have energy multipliers, you’ve got to have cheap energy.

  56. Even for christers who don’t feel they have a blanket pass to lie to and cheat everyone all the time, a sizeable fraction feel it’s OK to lie to, steal from, and break promises to non-christians.

    I disagree with this statement. Christians are people too and to quote Dr. House, “everyone lies”.

  57. @OFD: I hear you. I know good folks who are Christians. However, my take on it is that they are good people, and by the way, they happen to be religious. There don’t seem to be any more or any less good people who are religious, as compared to those who aren’t.

    The folk I dislike are the ones who, because they go speak in tongues at their evangelical services every Sunday, feel entitled to tell everyone else (including me) how to live. Even when their own lives are anything except shining examples…

  58. Yeah. I’m sure I’d get along fine as neighbors with OFD, Lynn, and so on, even though they’re religious, and I’m pretty sure they’d get along fine with me, even though I’m atheist. The tacit agreement would be that they don’t try to convert me to their way of thinking, and I don’t try to convert them to my way of thinking.

    Unfortunately, many religious people seem to believe that they’re entitled to compel others to their way of thinking, or at least to waste everyone’s time trying to convert them. I mean, when people ring my doorbell and want to talk to me about their religion, my honest inclination is to blow their heads off and call the city to come haul away the garbage. I mean, what makes them think they’re entitled to disturb the peace like this? I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been working down in the basement and had to stop what I was doing, climb the stairs, and open the door only to find one (or a group) of these assholes wanting to talk to me. How about they stay off other people’s property unless they’re invited? Has anyone ever, EVER, heard of door-to-door atheists annoying people? No, I didn’t think so.

  59. And Barbara won’t allow me to put up the yard sign I’ve been wanting to put up for years:

    Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be eaten.

  60. I though it was “Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again”. Or was it “No trespassing, prosecutors will be shot”? Nah, here it is…

  61. How about they stay off other people’s property unless they’re invited? Has anyone ever, EVER, heard of door-to-door atheists annoying people? No, I didn’t think so.

    They are the ones selling magazines, car cleaner, etc. to “pay for their school trip to XXX.” Well, I can’t say they are atheists, but they don’t praise God either, so I made the assumption. 🙂

  62. I’m pretty sure they’d get along fine with me, even though I’m atheist

    Indeed. I am I guess what you would call religious. Go to church every Sunday morning and evening yada, yada, yada. I feel that this magnificent world with all it’s intricacies did not happen by accident. Too many things had to happen at once, in an exact order or in an exact method. Chance, even given billions of years, is just not that good.

    But I am damn sure not going to try and convert you or anyone else. It is your life to live as you please making your own decisions. As long as what you do with your life does not affect me I don’t give a rat’s ass what you do or how you do it. Start pissing on my lawn then we have a problem. Until then, pfffftttt, I really don’t care.

    I mean, when people ring my doorbell and want to talk to me about their religion, my honest inclination is to blow their heads off and call the city to come haul away the garbage.

    I have never been an advocate of such behavior. I tell them to go away, quickly, or I call the police.

    Has anyone ever, EVER, heard of door-to-door atheists annoying people?

    Well they may, or may not, have been atheists but that Kirby vacuum salesperson was most annoying.

    Survivors will be eaten.

    By whom? I most certainly would not want to be dining on the riff-raff that has been known to come to my door. If you put a sign up you need to be more specific.

  63. Most of the people coming unsolicited to my front door are cub scouts or brownies with a parent anxiously hanging around out on the sidewalk. A few are looking for odd jobs. I do not remember any missionaries at all in the last several years.

  64. I am I guess what you would call religious. Go to church every Sunday morning and evening yada, yada, yada.

    What denomination are you? We dropped Sunday night church many years ago. I go most Sunday mornings and about 3/4 of Wednesday nights to a worship service / class at First Colony Church of Christ. BTW, we present ourselves as non-denominational nowadays since we are an autonomous church.

  65. RBT, re scumsuckers coming to your front door and wasting your time (and, most likely more important, breaking your concentration), could you put a video camera watching the front door so you could link in from a computer and see who’s there? And optionally have either a speaker system so you can tell them to go away from your basement, or click a widget to play back any of several recorded messages, or click a widget and spray water or prussic acid or something on them. I don’t know if that last capability exists in any consumer product, but you could put out a request for any of your readers to put together an Arduino project or something.

  66. Start pissing on my lawn then we have a problem. Until then, pfffftttt, I really don’t care.

    Actually, I think my lawn may need that. This year, my lawn turned into the most weed-laden forest I have ever seen. Not only am I no expert, but I do not really want to spend one second caring for it. Lots of people willing to cut it, but no one around here wanting to fix it.

    Re: the converting thing. It is not just those who want to convert, but all the talking about it that goes on everywhere around me. All those comments about Christianity on the article about our host’s neighbor. Not a single comment WITHOUT a mention of Christianity when I visited the site. The impossible-to-get-away-from Christian-oriented comments from retail clerks and others I meet in everyday life. THAT is proselytizing and an attempt to convert IMO, the same as if they came to my door. In fact, when I went outside this morning, a leaflet fell off my door, telling me it was “past time to visit our church” to be “redeemed” — from some Baptist denomination.

    I am afraid I am not as passive about this as our host. I do not want to hear conversation about religion in any daily intercourse.

  67. Lots of people willing to cut it, but no one around here wanting to fix it.

    You do not have a local Chemlawn, Trugreen or a Scotts lawn service? They are very aggressive around here in their marketing.

  68. A cranky old atheist lady, who was one of the most obnoxious people I’ve ever met online, did the right thing with some Mormons who knocked on her door…

    There was a sign at the front of her house saying she didn’t want religious callers, but Elders Smith and Jones knocked anyway. Her front porch had a remote control outer door that was pretty strong, so she just remote locked it and left them there for a while. Serves them right.

    I detested this woman, not because she was an atheist, but because she was thoroughly obnoxious, and said the weirdest things, for example she said in a forum that she was glad she’d passed menopause and no longer had periods because she now no longer had to wear knickers. I was amused by her revelation but it was a case of “too much information” for some members of the forum, especially the women… 🙂

  69. Chemlawn no longer services Tiny Town. The recession made them cut back terrifically on their locations, and Tiny Town is now too far from what is left of their offices for them to go after business here.

    There are a couple of independent commercial outfits that service banks and other businesses here, but they are located in Connersville and Richmond — a good 30 miles away. They want mileage and to/from travel time charges, which no homeowner wants to pay, but businesses have no choice. Lots of local people willing to cut, but nobody willing to take on gardening/lawn care-type chores.

  70. Chemlawn no longer services Tiny Town. The recession made them cut back terrifically on their locations, and Tiny Town is now too far from what is left of their offices for them to go after business here.

    Dude, you make it sound like that you are in the middle of nowhere.

  71. There was a sign at the front of her house saying she didn’t want religious callers, but Elders Smith and Jones knocked anyway. Her front porch had a remote control outer door that was pretty strong, so she just remote locked it and left them there for a while. Serves them right.

    Over here on the north side of the equator, that is called imprisonment. And is actionable, both criminally and civilly. On the other hand, Elders Smith and Jones were idiots and trespassing. One wonders if they could read?

  72. …she said in a forum that she was glad she’d passed menopause and no longer had periods because she now no longer had to wear knickers.

    Heck, you do not have to be past menopause to go commando. The late Julia Phillips (producer of the movie “Butch Cassidy”) said in her book that she talked a lot of women in Hollywood into joining her always-sans-underwear habit, including Goldie Hawn. That was long before any of those women hit menopause.

  73. We’ve had no one come to our door with religious stuff yet; one guy tried to sell me a DISH network thing or sumthin, that’s about it. At the previous address we had Mormons once and Witnesses once, and they didn’t stay long when they saw we are Roman Catholics who would be happy to yak with them all night about theology and Scripture. “Yo, kids, c’mon in, siddown…can I getcha sumthin to eat? To drink? Let’s just open a Bible here an’ see what we got, eh?”

    But y’all in the South and MidWest obviously have it in your face all the time; as I’ve said here before, we don’t here in the Northeast, and esp. not in New England.

  74. What denomination are you?

    Southern Baptist. But I only go on Sunday evening because I am responsible for video taping and streaming the service. I get paid $150.00 a Sunday to do the job. My wife stays at home. Wednesday evening is mostly for fixing problems and administrative stuff with the media equipment.

  75. Yeah. Seldom had anybody bring up the subject of religion in ordinary, everyday life while I was 18 years in Boston. By contrast, it is quite a disease here.

    In fact — I was sitting out on my porch enjoying a cuppa tea, when 2 of those Mormon “missionaries” saw me. I actually enjoy talking to them, but made it clear I would not talk or listen to religious stuff. Stop by any time and we’ll shoot the shit about anything but religion, Jesus, LDS, the Bible, and/or that guy Joseph what’s-is-name and his many wives and prophecies. Found out the local LDS church owns a house just one block over, where those guys live when on assignment here. Stop by any time for a cuppa.

    Meanwhile, we are getting pretty close to Germany on the fireworks front in these parts. Fireworks were illegal in Indiana up until a few years before I got back. Tonight there was about 2 hours of continuous noise. Not quite the bright daylight sky you see in Berlin from midnight to 02:00 crossing into the New Year, but getting close. Shut all the constantly yappy dogs in this neighborhood for once, too. Is all that gunpowder smell bad for ya? I really cannot see across the street.

    Cops have stopped at the house around the corner for the last 2 nights in a row. Totally out-of-control large family (or two) there, whose kids scream and run through the neighborhood until 2 or 3 in the morning, and which, the fireman across the street reports to me, are responsible for all the theft and property damage in this neighborhood. Heavy drug chit going on there, too, he says. That house had to have shot off well over a thousand in fireworks, maybe two thousand tonight. Pretty much continuously since noon.

  76. On the other hand, Elders Smith and Jones were idiots and trespassing.

    Unless she has a sign saying “No Trespassing”, or has asked them to leave and given them an opportunity to leave, it is not trespassing. Locking them in would be imprisonment and she should have been charged with such.

  77. Dude, you make it sound like that you are in the middle of nowhere.

    Pretty much correct. It is a good 30 miles to anywhere in all directions. But the town has lost everything and is no viable market for most business — like Chemlawn, etc. — anymore. So many businesses have left, and rumor is the only hardware store may leave soon. Walmart has been on the ‘possible closures’ list for a couple years, now.

    It did not used to be this way, but just like the Western ghost towns that faded when the gold rush did not pan out, this is one town that loss of automotive has killed. Literally.

    Bungalow-style houses like mine are appearing on the market for $40k again. We need to clear 40k after selling expenses, and I think we are getting back to there again. I know where I am going now, just need to get the house off my hands.

  78. The last time the topic of pH meters came up, I remember you linking to one that cost $50 or so. That one didn’t work out in practice?

    Agreed on the colorimeter being something that could be a lot cheaper. I’m guessing it would be about $12 if it were a mass-market product, and that’s with a USB interface built in. Maybe $20 for a version with good accuracy.

    Poking around on the net, I see educational colorimeters being sold for demonstrating “Beer’s law”, which I’d never heard of before, but presumably refers to the way beer has a different color when it’s been filtered through a human.

  79. That was a typo, Norman. It’s supposed to be Bear’s Law, for the different colors a person takes after passing through a bear.

  80. The last time the topic of pH meters came up, I remember you linking to one that cost $50 or so. That one didn’t work out in practice?

    I don’t remember that one. Basically, the options are a model for $25 to $75 that has resolution of 0.2 or 0.1 pH without automatic temperature control and usually with manual calibration versus one with 0.02 or 0.01 pH resolution, ATC, and auto-calibration for $100 and up.

    Agreed on the colorimeter being something that could be a lot cheaper. I’m guessing it would be about $12 if it were a mass-market product, and that’s with a USB interface built in. Maybe $20 for a version with good accuracy.

    Yeah. It’s a box with a few LEDs as light sources, a detector that outputs different voltages for different intensities of incident light, a power source, and a USB interface. Twelve bucks or so is probably about right, and that would include margin.

    Poking around on the net, I see educational colorimeters being sold for demonstrating “Beer’s law”, which I’d never heard of before, but presumably refers to the way beer has a different color when it’s been filtered through a human.

    Well, we know that’s true, but our target market is minors, so we can’t ask them to drink beer. Instead, we’ll have to talk about concentration and path length. They’ll learn about the real meaning of Beer’s Law when they get to college.

  81. Why wait? Become an exchange student to Germany, and if you are male, you will get beer any time you want it once you are 14 or older.

  82. I’m surprised that Germany is so restrictive.

    In the US, a kid doesn’t have to be 14 years old to get beer any time he wants it.

  83. Hahaha, that’s right; I started guzzling beers at fourteen! And I was a latecomer! Germany is so totalitarian when it comes to social issues! Murka is so fah ahead of everybody!

  84. Chance, even given billions of years, is just not that good.

    Chance? Darwin demonstrated long ago that with living organisms, it is not chance or random. Geneticists have shown that it is not any god intervening, but a verifiable process that preserves life and deprecates whatever does not protect and advance it — even for bacteria, viruses, and cancer.

    The very start of life? Yeah, most likely chance that the rock we are on, flying through the universe, had exactly the right sequence of events. Had it not, we would not be here having this conversation, but would be mere particles on a stone sphere as lifeless as the billions of others flying around in relative chaos, all without the right sequence.

    Observing the universe from this rock — or now even from a perspective outside of it with Hubble and the like, — how can anybody say the chaotic, although repeating rotations, explosions, vacuums, and catastrophic collisions is the work of something with intelligence?

    Life as we observe it, ever increasingly points to the absurdity that some all-powerful being — much less with intelligence — created it all.

  85. But what if the all-powerful (omnipotent) Being set all the chaos and creation itself in motion deliberately and let it rip? And being omniscient (all-knowing) sees and knows all as it happens, even the fall of a sparrow?

    Many of us think it’s absurd to think that an omnipotent Being did *not* create it all.

    But we’ve been to this rodeo before here.

    Rest assured I’d have no problem having atheists as neighbors and probably do already without any particular complications or friction. They don’t lay their godless trip on me and I don’t bedevil them with arcane Thomistic theology. And we get along OK.

  86. Geneticists have shown that it is not any god intervening

    They haven’t shown that one way or the other. Not falsifiable.

  87. If you analyzed the posts here, there is no question in my mind that pro-Christian comments way outnumber the atheists’ comments. I have never posted on the subject here, except in response to somebody else’s first mention or link to something that includes comments about religion or Christianity.

    Just is not kosher to keep bringing up a topic, then maintain ‘you aren’t going to convince me and I won’t convince you, so just keep quiet and leave all the proselytizing to me.’

  88. They haven’t shown that one way or the other. Not falsifiable.

    Not falsifiable only if you accept that nothing happens without the invisible hand of a god.

  89. Doing a quick search, it wasn’t actually the last time the topic of pH meters was mentioned that I was remembering, but rather this exchange:

    http://forums.ttgnet.com/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=19;t=1158;st=90

    With colorimeters, googling “colorimeter arduino” finds various attempts to DIY these things, but none that hit a really low price point. Which is as expected for something that will never be mass market.

    Probably the main difficulty with low volume production would be the case. Plastic is cheap, but custom molds for plastic parts aren’t, since they’re milled out of big chunks of hardened steel and then polished.

  90. Chuck wrote:

    ‘Heck, you do not have to be past menopause to go commando. The late Julia Phillips (producer of the movie “Butch Cassidy”) said in her book that she talked a lot of women in Hollywood into joining her always-sans-underwear habit, including Goldie Hawn. That was long before any of those women hit menopause.’

    Funny, I couldn’t find a mention of her associated with Butch Cassidy…

    Well, if she didn’t wear knickers when she was bleeding she must have relied on tampons exclusively. Not all women can do that, so I’m told.

    I supposed you’ve seen the horse head scene in The Godfather. Reference was made to that scene in a film I saw 20 years later: A guy was telling a friend about his girlfriend’s penchant for sleeping in the nude all month, he said the sex was great but the mess reminded him of that scene in The Godfather. Seems too messy to be worth the trouble IMHO.

  91. Doing a quick search, it wasn’t actually the last time the topic of pH meters was mentioned that I was remembering, but rather this exchange:

    http://forums.ttgnet.com/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=19;t=1158;st=90

    With colorimeters, googling “colorimeter arduino” finds various attempts to DIY these things, but none that hit a really low price point. Which is as expected for something that will never be mass market.

    Probably the main difficulty with low volume production would be the case. Plastic is cheap, but custom molds for plastic parts aren’t, since they’re milled out of big chunks of hardened steel and then polished.

    From that thread, I suppose I must have found a $50 pH meter with 0.01 pH resolution/accuracy. Probably something no-name, versus the $100 ones now that have good brand names on them.

    As to a colorimeter, I can’t image that the case would be a problem. Sure, it’s costly to do a custom-made case, unless you’re planning to mass-produce them. But I’m sure that project boxes like Radio Shack used to sell are still widely available and cheap. And then there’s 3D printing, which keeps getting cheaper by the month.

  92. I don’t think you understand falsifiability, Chuck.

    It appears that Chuck has gotten himself turned around, logically speaking.

    Chuck, “goddunnit” truth claims are inherently not falsifiable because one cannot prove a negative. These claims are, however, semantically-null in a logic sense. In other words, they are unnecessary and because they can be neither proven nor disproven (i.e., tested) they are of zero value to answering the question at hand and add nothing to the discussion.

  93. As Sagan said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Religion has never presented any evidence whatsoever for its extraordinary claims, so those of us who are rational reject them as any person who understands logic should.

    To any scientist, “faith” is a dirty word. Scientists do not accept assertions unless there is strong supporting evidence, and the essence of faith is accepting extraordinary assertions without any supporting evidence whatsoever.

  94. I do understand the process of falsifying, and my choice of words was not good. Whatever outcome I am testing, say confirming the speed at which a CD ROM destroys the information encoded on it, I do not have to test that the crowbar in my trunk has nothing to do with the outcome, because it is not even a factor in the test or its outcome. Same with my geneticist friend — who is quite religious, actually. He acknowledges that his experiments show no evidence of some supernatural or preternatural phenomena. There is no inexplicable mysterious process occurring in what he does. He and his colleagues understand what is going on, why they get the results that they do, and those results are repeatable. Even being quite religious, he grants that his daily work does not confirm the existence of any god. I agree that that does not prove that a god does not exist, and my choice of words above was incorrect. But whether a god exists or not is irrelevant to his work.

  95. Funny, I couldn’t find a mention of her associated with Butch Cassidy…

    I must be losing it. It was The Sting. Phillips’ credits include that, Close Encounters, and Taxi Driver. She was a very controversial figure.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Phillips

    Her book

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You%27ll_Never_Eat_Lunch_in_This_Town_Again

    came out while my time with the movie review program was still fresh. She tried to disguise the identities of many of the people she talked about in the book, but as I was going through it, I recognized who most of those people were and started a second trip through the book, writing down their names. Never did finish that project though, and could not remember enough to finish it now. I do remember that the young guy who crashed into the bridge abutment after a night of heavy drugs was Eric Roberts, Julia Roberts’ brother. Phillips never used his real name. He underwent a lot of reconstructive surgery. He was as good looking as Julia was pretty, but that accident pretty well messed up his good looks and meant a lot of make-up in subsequent films. Of course, in the book, she said he almost always used pancake and mascara in daily life before the accident, so I suppose he was used to that.

  96. For a colorimeter, you need a box with a lid that can be opened and closed easily, to put the sample in, yet needs to be light-tight. Also, it needs to have a fixture for mounting the sample in a precise position relative to the LEDs. Normal project boxes don’t qualify on these fronts, which is presumably why one of the DIY projects I found specifies that the enclosure is to be made via 3D printing (which is not cheap; even if you have your own printer, the plastics for 3D printers have a significant cost, at least the ones I’ve seen offered).

    I suppose there’s a fair chance that you could luck out, and find a commercially produced case (made for some other sort of device) that fits the bill. But that would take some looking.

  97. A 12.5mm felt-lined square hole in the cover suffices at the top. With a cuvette cap in place, that’s sufficiently light-tight. At the bottom, you can simply use a second cuvette cap of the type that fits either end of a cuvette.

    3D printing is still new enough that supplies are expensive. But the printers keep getting better, and the cost of supplies will come down rapidly. As I’ve mentioned, the first CD blank I ever burned cost $50. They’re now about 1/400th of that. I suspect we’ll see a similar or greater decline in the cost of 3D raw materials once 3D printers become ubiquitous.

  98. Okay, drill a round hole in the top of the box… that’s simple enough. Then you get to try to glue felt to the sides of the hole, which are rather thin, so you’d better use a damn good glue. (After making sure to specify a project box that is actually glueable plastic, like ABS, not unglueable plastic like polypropylene.) And first make sure to cut the felt very precisely, so that when wrapped around the inside of the hole it butts up without overlapping and without a gap. Oh, and install it very precisely, too, say by inserting a cuvette to clamp it in place as the glue dries (but make sure not to glue the cuvette in place).

    As for the bottom, how would you mount the second cuvette cap? Drill another hole? Well, okay, provided you have a project box that’s exactly the right height (which is going to seriously narrow the selection)… but then, once you press the cap into the hole, you’ll likely find that it’s hard to fit a cuvette into it, as it’s constrained by the hole.

    That’s the problem with actually having to deliver hardware: you have to handle all these piddling little details, none of which is particularly complicated, but which travel in herds. And you have to do it in a way that supports shipping hundreds of units; time spent on things like deburring holes after drilling, which isn’t significant for a one-off, becomes an issue. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather do a 3D design on your computer and then ask these guys to make a mold for you?

    http://www.protolabs.com/protomold

    (I’d forgotten about them, earlier in the discussion; rather than hardened steel molds, good for hundreds of thousands of parts, they make their molds out of lighter materials, so as to be economical for short production runs, which they’ll then do for you.)

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