Busted: Scientific (sic) Journals Publish Star Wars Spoof Paper.

Where would we be without peer-reviewed scientific journals? (I love it when stuff like this happens.) Predatory Journals Hit By ‘Star Wars’ Sting | Watts Up With That?

A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper. The manuscript is an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes. I know because I wrote it.

This is a masterwork of snark, and the original spoof paper is beautiful, even if you aren’t a Star Wars fan. (The last movie I like was, “The Empire Strikes Back.”)

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The Mess That is Illinois. SiGraybeard says it better than I could

I have family in Illinois that are dependent on pensions, so I can’t even think rationally when it comes to the insanity. I’m just incensed. The Silicon Graybeard: The One Factoid About the Illinois Mess You Can’t Miss

I will highlight one thing that he “isn’t saying” and say it plain. There is a LOT of corruption in Illinois politics.

I’m not saying it’s related to the fact that as soon as I started to type “Illinois politicians pension promises” into my search bar, before I finished the second word it offered to autocomplete with “Illinois politicians in jail”. As the saying goes, I’m not not saying it either.

4 of the last 7 Illinois governors did time in jail. Mostly for federal corruption, and some for stuff they did after they left public office. (You remember Rod Blagojevich, I’m sure.)

Then there is Tony Rezko, who should have been a millstone around Obama’s neck, but the media wouldn’t report on it. Rezko – who did favors for Illinois politicians on both sides of the divide, helped Obama buy a house in Chicago. The deal was shady, and a lot of people thought it amounted to a “gift” of some size, but by the time anyone cared, Obama was in Washington, and Rezko was in prison.

Rezko’s behind-the-scenes connection in the Obama house deal became public as Rezko revealed personal financial details as he sought to post bail.

While Rezko’s wife paid the full asking price for the land, Obama paid $300,000 under the asking price for the house. The house sold for $1,650,000 and the price Rezko’s wife paid for the land was $625,000.

That “piece of land” was adjacent to the Obama house, and Rezko later sold some of it to the Obama family. Water under the bridge at this point.

For a rundown of the History of Illinois Political Shenanigans see the post I wrote in 2009. Pay particular attention to the part about Paul Powell. His story tells you everything you need to know about politics in The Land of Lincoln.

“There’s only one thing worse than a defeated politician, and that’s a broke one.” – Paul Powell, one-time Illinois Secretary of State.

When Powell died, in 1970, $800,000 in cash was found in his lodging. In suitcases, and shoe-boxes.

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

“Just 39 light years?” Why it must be just around the corner. Gliese 1132b: Astronomers find a super-Earth that may have a watery atmosphere, just 39 light-years away – LA Times

39 light years, for people who don’t understand astronomical distances (like the person that came up with this headline), is a really long way.

Light travels at approximately 300,000,000 meters per second. So 1 light year is 9.461 X 1015 meters or about 5.879 trillion miles. Times 39. And you use the word “just.”

This planet is 229.3 trillion miles away. A little less than 12 parsecs. (Notable because Han Solo referenced that number in Star Wars: A New Hope.) Or for those of us who prefer to use scientific notation for science, 3.69 X 1017 meters.

Pi – It Shows up in the Strangest Places

March 14th is Pi Day (3.14) and it is also Einstein’s birthday. In celebration of Pi I give you this… (And yes, I know what day it is, this is posted a day early so I can forward it to select folks.)

The most inefficient way to estimate Pi, by using the Mandelbrot set.

For those of you who don’t remember what the Mandelbrot set is, here is a straightforward (if long-winded) description of the set, and a video of what the set looks like when you zoom in to examine a very small portion of the set.

(The colors in the rendition of the Mandelbrot set indicate if a given point is inside or outside the set. Points rendered in black are IN the set. Other colors are assigned to the points outside the set, and the various colors indicate how quickly the function for that point diverges under iteration. All that is explained in the video describing the set.)

OK, you’ve learned something. Now go plan to eat some pie with your lunch tomorrow.

If you want the proof that this is really pi, see this companion video. (Well, sort of… there is a little bit of hand waving, but then how much do you really remember about the complex plane?)

$1.9 billion error in California’s version of Medicaid.

As one of the commenters on the story said, no one expects Progressives to be good at math. $1.9 billion error adds to California deficit projection

The administration discovered accounting mistakes last fall, but it did not notify lawmakers until the administration included adjustments to make up for the errors in Brown’s budget proposal last week.

Expanding Medicaid was a cornerstone of Obamacare. Said to be working smoothly in California. 1.9 billion dollars discovered in the fall. Before or after the election, I wonder. (Not that a few billion dollars would have changed voting habits on the Left Coast – where it is all about FEELINGS.) No one will lose their job over this error.

The 1.9 billion error is compounding the problem that CA is not collecting taxes at the rate they expected. Total budget shortfall is closer to $3 billion. [Hat tip to Small Dead Animals]

Benoit Mandelbrot: Born 20 November 1924, Died October 14, 2010

Benoit MandelbrotBenoit Mandelbrot was a mathematician by training. He published papers on economics and finance, on turbulence in jet engines (and other environments) and on information technology. He worked at various universities in America and Europe, but he will be most remembered for the work he did while at IBM Research in California.

While at IBM he did work on fractal geometry that would change the way we do computer graphics – so that they are much more realistic when dealing with clouds, mountains, trees, and most other things in nature. The work on fractals impacted a lot of technology and science, but most people will remember only the Mandelbrot set, which bears his name – as a result of his work on fractals. (You can see an example of part of the set in the video below.)

In nature,technology and art the most common form of regularity is repetition: a single element repeated many times, as on a tile floor. But another form is possible, in which smaller and smaller copies of a pattern are successively nested inside each other, so that the same intricate shapes appear no matter how much you “zoom in” to the whole. Fern leaves and Romanesco broccoli are two examples from nature.

One might have thought that such a simple and fundamental form of regularity would have been studied for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. But it was not. In fact, it rose to prominence only over the past 30 or so years—almost entirely through the efforts of one man, the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, who died in 2010 just before completing this autobiography. [Stephen Wolfram from The Father of Fractals November 2012]

The work done on fractal geometry by Mandelbrot and others has influenced a large part of science and technology. It is interesting to me that it has impacted several areas of medicine around how surgery is preformed on structures – like the liver – that are fractal in the nature of the veins and arteries that are a part of it. For an hour-long documentary, see The Clouds are Not Spheres.

This video below is a zoom into the Mandelbrot set. It is 5 minutes. There are much longer zooms – some going for hours. You can find those on YouTube by searching. (This zoom at just over 10 minutes is a little better, but twice as long.)

The way the diagrams and videos are coded is that points which are black are IN the set, the other colors denote points that are NOT in the set, and the colors denote how fast the series diverges. (For a description of what the set is, that is easier to understand than the Wikipedia link at the top of the post, see the explanation given by the Numberphile.)

Minimum Wage Hike Drives Up Cost of Childcare – to be paid by parents

I guess mathematics really is hard. And economics? Forget about it! No one understands that. Childcare costs skyrocket after minimum wage hike passes | Spokane – KXLY.com

Before her phone call, it’s something we hadn’t thought of – and, apparently, some voters hadn’t either.

They have to pay workers more. So they have to charge more. What exactly did you think was going to happen? (The unicorns stopped pooping money for worthy causes many years ago. I know, it’s shocking!)

Heidi Perry, director of Advent Child Care, explained that many parents were not happy with the idea of the cost increase. “I think there was a little bit of sticker shock. I had a lot of parents who walked into the office last night or this morning and say ‘am I reading this right?’ And I said yes you are.”

Costs for this church-run childcare facility will go up $300 per month, per child.

We reached out to several other daycares in the area, one says they haven’t even addressed this yet and another said the tuition increase is inevitable.

Go figure.