Thursday, January 31, 2013

A precompiled Scipy from Activestate?

So, I've been procrastinating installing Scipy, since a manual install requires having (and manually using?) C and FORTRAN compilers. I tried using pip to do a quick install, but that failed because it needed the FORTRAN libraries (specifically BLAS). None of the off-the-shelf tools, it seemed, were actually off-the-shelf for Windows users. I swear to Loki I will turn this laptop into a Linux box when I have the money to upgrade... but if I'm going to use Numpy/Scipy to teach undergrads, which I still intend to do, then "get Linux" really isn't a solution.

But I ran across a Stackoverflow thread this afternoon where somebody mentioned that ActiveState has a precompiled standalone build of Scipy. My ears did verily perk up at this! After trying a few things and getting very strange error messages, here's what appears to have worked:

Step 0: close all Python sessions.
Step 1: Open ActiveState's PYPM from the Start menu. (This will open a glorified command shell.)
Step 2: enter pypm -g install numpy
Step 3: enter pypm -g install scipy

(The -g flag is an instruction for PYPM to install to the global Python installation.) After doing this, I opened up IPython and both numpy and scipy imported correctly! Yay!

The foregoing is recorded so that I can reproduce this install (or give my undergrads instructions to install) later.

Binary thinking is abortive

From Slacktivist: What do the purple people want in PRRI’s abortion poll?

Think you can't be both pro-choice and pro-life? You've been listening to the anti-choice crowd for too long. Turns out 43% of Americans self-describe with both labels. Follow the link for a chart and everything.

Now, the survey doesn't have the space to dig down into what all those respondents took each term to mean (whether they adopt either term about themselves or not); like many on the port side of the political spectrum, I greatly resent the expropriation involved in fencing off "pro-life" to refer to the unborn, and I recall plenty of conversations with people who resent this more than I do, who are tilting at that particular windmill trying to take back that dirty word.

So the next time someone tries to set you up the argument that more than half the country is pro-life, feel free to remind them that even if that's true (by whatever definition of "pro-life"), it doesn't change the fact that two-thirds of the country wants abortion to stay legal.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

In which Harry Reid balks

Outside The Beltway is reporting that Harry Reid is blinking on filibuster rule changes.


Look people, here's a sports metaphor. If baseball managers were to find a way to use the pitching rules to kill all possibility to steal bases, what do you think would happen? "Oh, sorry fans, but that's just the rules. I guess Ricky Henderson's record is safe forever." Fuck no. They'd add a clause to the balk rule and get the basepaths hot again.

But what's good for baseball is apparently too revolutionary for the World's Greatest Deliberative Body. The GOP has been exploiting an unintended bug in the rules for four years, and making the "baseball game" unplayable. It used to be that there was a gentlemen's agreement to not exploit this bug; that agreement has broken down. Everyone agrees that it's a hackable exploit, and the Democrats have no intention of exploiting it this way when they are not in power. So why then are the leadership of the Senate leaving the exploit unpatched?

When this happens, YOU CHANGE THE FUCKING RULES to restore the game to a playable condition.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is giving Republican colleagues 36 hours to agree to a deal on filibuster reform or he will move forward with the nuclear option.
Now that's more like it.

Life's too short for bad music or bad beer

We always knew that beer and metal are two great tastes that taste great together, but this is pure awesome:

That's mighty In Flames frontman Anders Fridén on the right, at Great Divide in Denver. Apparently they were there last month opening for Lamb of God before Randy had to put on a suit and fly to Prague.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I'll trade you one hostage now for two in three months

"Big news. Eric Cantor has just made it official: The GOP leadership is prepared to agree to a three month debt ceiling hike. This is a major de-escalation of the crazy and effectively means Republicans have all but taken the threat of default off the table completely."
- Greg Sargent, Washington Post
There's a critical piece of this story that I haven't seen anywhere: the Democratic response. Because the correct response is to thank the Republicans for their gracious offer, and counteroffer that the government have the power to borrow to cover all the spending that Congress has appropriated (since tax receipts are both seasonally variable and dependent at all times on the state of employment and the economy).
I think the consensus view is correct as far as it goes: the Galtian Masters of the Universe have told the Republicans to knock off Silly Season, and shooting the hostage is no longer seen (at least by Boehner, probably also Cantor and Paul Ryan) as a valid tactical move. But the Tea Party Caucus is not much known for listening to either reason or the GOP leadership, which is why the Democrats absolutely need to respond with a clear articulation of their initial negotiating position -- one very different from this offer to take more hostages in a few months.

UPDATE: We have statements:

 This proposal does not relieve the uncertainty faced by small businesses, the markets and the middle class. This is a gimmick unworthy of the challenges we face and the national debate we should be having. The message from the American people is clear: no games, no default.
The White House:
 The President has made clear that Congress has only two options: pay the bills they have racked up, or fail to do so and put our nation into default. We are encouraged that there are signs that Congressional Republicans may back off their insistence on holding our economy hostage to extract drastic cuts in Medicare, education and programs middle class families depend on. Congress must pay its bills and pass a clean debt limit increase without further delay.
 This is the correct response. When your opponent is in retreat, don't stop pushing.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Notes to self: useful Emacs commands in Python mode

Switch buffers: C-x b (minibuffer then suggests a default buffer to switch to, waits for text input)

Comment/uncomment area: M-; (works with marked region, but to uncomment you should have the '#' marked that you want to remove)

Indent: C-c >
Unindent: C-c <

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Let m =!= 1.

Single-seat districts congressional districts are the cause of most, if not all, of the distortion of our elected bodies (relative to the ideological makeup of the population).

"But amidst the partisan fingerpointing and bickering, one core aspect of the way our government works gets a free pass. We hear a lot about campaign finance and gerrymandering, but single-member district elections –that is, having each House member represent one congressional district –are without doubt the single greatest cause of what is broken about Congress. They are the key reason why Republicans easily kept control of the House despite losing the popular vote to Democrats,and why the political center has lost out to partisans on both sides of the aisle. They turn four out of five voters effectively into spectators who have absolutely no chance of affecting their representation in Congress. They help keep women’s representation in the House stalled at less than 18 percent, and grossly distort fair representation by party and race."

The House GOP can’t be beat: It’s worse than gerrymandering -

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty and rape culture

I let Zero Dark Thirty (hereinafter 0D30) simmer through yesterday. Partially this was because I spent the afternoon with the brew club (side note: Turtle Anarchy, gracious hosts of the meeting, have an experimental Curry Porter on tap. Run, do not walk, run there and get yourself a pint), and spent the evening relaxing in front of a DVD with Ms Heel-filcher; partially also, because it's good to let a film you didn't like have some time to make its case.

The post after the fold contains spoilers. Oh, and Harry bin Laden dies at the end.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Shorter Zero Dark Thirty

0D30, Act 1: You, the torturee, are responsible for any harm which befalls you.

0D30, Act 2: None of this conjecture can be confirmed because we aren't allowed to torture any more.

0D30, Act 3: What convinced you that Bin Laden is there? Her unshakeable faith, that's what.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Now this is what you do with a couple Christmas presents

4:40 pm: The Victory Malt is almost done steeping.

5:20 pm: The boil is about to start. The hop particles on the surface look like some crazy green moonscape.

6:23 pm: the copper chiller springs to life!

6:34 pm: we are below 80d Fahrenheit. That's ten, eleven minutes. What a piece of technology!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

First stop digging

From EPI: Michelle Rhee gets a failing grade on her report card
Money quote:
Curiously, despite Rhee’s love of high stakes testing, student performance as measured by the gold-standard test of student achievement, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), plays no role in her ranking of the states. These “rankings” put Louisiana and Florida (both bottom 10 on the NAEP), for example, far ahead of high-achieving states like Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey, all of which ranked in the top three on the NAEP.
If your "reforms" are just making things worse, please reconsider whom they are benefiting.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Boil test

How long will it take to boil four gallons of water in my new kettle?
Initial conditions: 50d Fahrenheit at 9:08 am.

UPDATE: Final conditions: 212d at 10:05.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Whistling past the water board

The Times has the story: the first ex-CIA officer is facing prison for blowing a whistle.

Meanwhile, nobody from the CIA or any other agency has faced sanctions for torture.