Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) | Gas Pipeline Safety and Tree Cuting Project | One Family's Journey

Mar 10 2017

"Man, like a tree in the cleft of a rock, gradually shapes his roots to his surroundings,
and when the roots have grown to a certain size, can't be displaced without cutting at his life.
" Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) a northern California utilities company embarked on a gas pipeline safety project whereby they would clear the easements around their pipe by clearing and cutting tress over a 6500 mile stretch of pipeline. Was it necessary? Was it researched well enough? Was the work communicated to the general public? What were the effects on the community and people whose trees and vegetation were removed?  This is one family's journey.

The Spreading of Misinformation Online

Jan 17 2017

The wide availability of user-provided content in online social media facilitates the aggregation of people around common interests, worldviews, and narratives. However, the internet also allows for the rapid dissemination of unsubstantiated rumors and conspiracy theories that often elicit rapid, large, but naive social responses such as the recent case of Jade Helm 15––where a simple military exercise turned out to be perceived as the beginning of a new civil war in the United States. In this work, the authors address the determinants governing misinformation spreading through a thorough quantitative analysis. In particular, they focus on how Facebook users consume information related to two distinct narratives: scientific and conspiracy news. They find that, although consumers of scientific and conspiracy stories present similar consumption patterns with respect to content, cascade dynamics differ. Selective exposure to content is the primary driver of content diffusion and generates the formation of homogeneous clusters, i.e., “echo chambers.” Indeed, homogeneity appears to be the primary driver for the diffusion of contents and each echo chamber has its own cascade dynamics. Finally, they introduce a data-driven percolation model mimicking rumor spreading and we show that homogeneity and polarization are the main determinants for predicting cascades’ size.

Nuclear Deal With Iran - Get The Facts

Jan 26 2016
Just over five months since Iran and six world powers reached a landmark nuclear deal that was heralded as a historic choice of diplomacy over war, the tough rhetoric and frequent posturing that marked years of bitter negotiations persist. What exactly are the details behind this deal? How do the events of today change any of the details?

The Conundrum of Iran

Oct 22 2015

Recommendations to the next President (assuming office in Jan. 2009) on how to play the figures on the U.S.-Iranian Chessboard (18 November 2007, Author: John Brennan) 

(Background:  US overthrow of Mossadeg)

Iran will be a major player on the world stage in the decades ahead, and its actions and behavior will have a major and enduring impact on near- and long-term U.S. interests on a wide variety of regional and global issues. With a population of over 70 million, xx percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, a geostrategic location of tremendous (enviable?) significance, and a demonstrated potential to develop a nuclear-weapons program, the United States has no choice but to find a way to coexist—and to come to terms—with whatever government holds power in Tehran. At the same time, the Iranian Government also must come to terms with Washington, as Tehran’s ability to advance its political and economic interests rests on a non-hostile relationship with the United States and the West.

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A Near Perfect Solution for Gun Crimes

Oct 06 2015

Here is the text of the law:

Anyone who knowingly houses a gun on their premise (e.g., their home, office, car, etc.), with which a crime is committed, will also be held to account.”

Simply put, you expand the circle of responsibility to others around the criminal, thus making the people nearest to them somewhat responsible to pay attention and to prevent horrific crimes from being committed.

Your Children, and How to Ask Questions About Their Day

Sep 24 2015

Talking with your kids about school is one of the best ways to engage them and to make their day a part of yours. It is also a great way to start a dialogue that typically carries into other areas of their lives, their thoughts, their dreams and ambitions, and into many other dimensions of their simple yet complex lives.

Asking the right type of question is key. Questions should not be asked such that a YES, NO or O.K. would suffice as an answer.

Not all Asians are Orientals nor all Blacks African-American

Sep 21 2015

I am always amused by the lack of cultural or geographical knowledge in most people in the US. I recall sitting in a conference room once, with a large group of people, and a Middle Easterner referred to a person as Oriental. To our chagrin, a Ms. Wong jumps up pointing at and admonishing the fellow for being so politically incorrect, and that the person in question is Asian and not Oriental.

So it struck me that this political correctness with respect to race is somewhat overdone and that not all Asians are oriental, and that the accused was actually correct. It all depends on where you come from and your reference point. Another common and disturbing usage is calling every black person an African-American. We're even adding religion to the mix, e.g., Jewish-American.

For the Little Ones - How to make Friends in School

Sep 10 2015

Starting a new school or being placed in a new class causes a lot of stress for our children. That stress permeates into their daily lives and their ability to learn, and to be happy at school.

Here are some helpful hints to get them on the easy road to making friends.

  • Introduce Yourself – Tell them your name and ask for theirs. Share nicknames if you have any.
  • Ask inventive questions - Remember they’ve probably heard “So what school/class are you from?” a hundred times already. Try getting a little more creative and ask things such as, "What are your favorite sports?" or "What is your favorite color?" See if you have anything in common.
  • Compliment them (but make sure you mean it) - If you compliment them too much, or compliment them on something you aren't sincere about, they'll see right through you, and you may even come across as fake.
  • Be nice – They’re probably extremely nervous. The nicer you are, the more comfortable they'll feel around you, and the sooner you can become friends.

Why Have a Parent Only School Portal? Because it's not the 1950's!

Sep 01 2015

Too often, we found ourselves asking questions, looking for answers, and finding the parents with whom we were speaking had the same questions. We were asking those specific parents because they were the more senior and who had been at the school longer. Three years into it, we still have simple questions for which we seek a quality answer, or two, or even a head nod from someone.

We look to the school and find that they are still acting as though it's the 1950's, where one member of the family worked, usually the father, and one stayed home, usually the mother. One mother, per class, would take on the task of being the keeper of the phone tree, the email list in today's world. That mother would then be responsible for communicating with other mothers and by herself she would be the arbiter of the conversations. In the end, some decisions would be made and some actions would be taken. If you weren't an involved mother, you would be shunned and lowered on the calling list and at times not involved at all. The same exact thing happens today. The main difference being, we can't be involved because both parents work. Or, we can't be involved because we are ill informed, over scheduled, not on the calling list hierarchy, or in some cases not agreeable with the class mother.

"The Minders" (Available Now)

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Iran’s most covert operation is revealed, which in turn unearths three decades of clandestine work.

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"Autarky" (Available Now)

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Sitting at his desk, Jason receives an email that changes everything. He leaves for Iraq and finds himself in the middle of a war, surrounded by greed, death and destruction.

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"Digital Darkness" (Available Now)

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An EMP attack, takes out 1/7 of the country. All evidence points to the Chinese. Reality is far from what we see and know. The Chinese hardware and software are at the heart of the attack. But they are not the guilty ones.

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"A Machine's View: Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series" (Available Now)

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Can a machine write a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book? Are you curious about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning? We explore these and much more using the first ten Wimpy Kid books as our source.

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