Judge, jury uphold HERO

A state judge in Texas ruled that opponents of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) did not gather enough signatures to force a repeal referendum.

After separate rulings from both a jury and state District Judge Robert Schaffer, attorneys for both sides entered dueling counts of the valid signatures, adding and subtracting voters as Schaffer responded to motions. By early this week, the counts were closer together than ever before, fewer than 1,000 signatures apart.

Ultimately, Schaffer on Friday ruled the final count of valid signatures was 16,684, leaving opponents short of the threshold required in the city charter of 17,249 signatures, or 10 percent of the ballots cast in the last mayoral election.

(As) a matter of fact and as a matter of law the Referendum Petition is not valid or enforceable in all respects.

--Judge Robert Schaffer



Free Nicoll

Nicoll Hernández-Polanco tried to enter this country twice when she was 17. The Guatemalan native was caught and deported.

In October of 2014, Nicoll again crossed the Sonora desert to the Arizona border. This time she turned herself in and asked for asylum. Guatemala is one of the most dangerous countries in the Western Hemisphere for transgender women, battling for second with Honduras behind Brazil.

Having experienced about a decade of sexual and physical abuse in Guatemala and then Mexico, ICE threw the new fish into the shark tank that is their Florence, AZ all-male detention center. Since she has been there she has been assaulted by another detainee, forced to shower with men, verbally abused by both the guards and the other inmates, and placed in solitary confinement for standing up for herself.

Mariposas Sin Fronteras (Butterflies without borders), the Transgender Law Center, and other LGBT and immigration rights advocates have been fighting for her release...for an end to the torture...but ICE refuses to budge. In their eyes, her deportation is a priority because of her two previous deportations.



The Breakfast Club (May The Force Be With You)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We're a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we're not too hungover  we've been bailed out we're not too exhausted from last night's (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and
weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our
boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late,
it's PhilJD's fault.

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This Day in History




Today in History for April 17th





Cuban exiles invade Bay of Pigs; Three astronauts of
Apollo 13 land safely in pacific ocean; Benjamin Franklin dies at age
84; JP Morgan born in Connecticut; Ford rolls out the Mustang

Breakfast Tunes




Mustang Sally - Wilson Pickett (Album Version)





Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac


Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

Benjamin Franklin




State House Republicans hijinx

Yesterday all three of the the republican members of the Colorado State Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted to defeat House Bill 1265, the Birth Certificate Modernization Act, a bill which would have brought the state into accord with federal policy for transgender people born in Colorado who wished to update their birth certificates.

It was our hope that at least one Republican senator on the committee would side with the six Republicans in the Colorado House of Representatives who voted in favor of House Bill 1265 because it upholds the Republican ideals of freedom, privacy, and limited government.

This much-needed legislation would simply have brought Colorado law in line with existing policies at the federal level, and in doing so would have protected the privacy of transgender Coloradans and protected them from discrimination. Every transgender Coloradan is someone’s son or daughter and deserves to be treated with respect. We will continue to work in the legislature to reduce the many barriers transgender Coloradans face every day.

--Dave Montez, One Colorado

The final vote was 3-2.



The Breakfast Club (Logic)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgWell,
I was going to talk about planetary science today (about which you'll
find plenty of links below) but instead I spent all night puzzling over
what is supposed to be a simple 5th grade math problem. 

Albert and Bernard just became friends with Cheryl,
and they want to know when her birthday is.  Cheryl gives them a list of
10 possible dates.

May 15 May 16 May 19
June 17 June 18  
July 14 July 16  
August 14 August 15 August 17

Cheryl then tells Albert and Bernard seperately the month and day of her birthday respectively.

Albert: I don't know when Cheryl's birthday is, but I know that Bernard does not know too.

Bernard: At first I don't know when Cheryl's birthday is, but I know now.

Albert: Then I also know when Cheryl's birthday is.

(note: copied by me directly from the picture)

If you don't want spoilers you'd better stop reading and figure it out now.

What is truth? Is truth unchanging law? We both have truths.  Are mine the same as yours?- 39 Lashes

Let's start with one truth.  This is not a simple 5th grade math problem.

You see the meme is that this is a regular old word problem from a
5th grade math test that Singapore children are expected to pass in
order to graduate to the 6th grade which led of course to much Internet
hand wringing about the abysmal state of U.S. education in general and
particularly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) where
the privatizing looters of our School funds and fiscal conservatives in
general bemoan the lack of a qualified work force that must be
supplemented by smarter (and cheaper) H-1B imported slave labor.

Here's some tangential truth to start off- there is no shortage
of STEM qualified native labor, in fact there is a surplus.  The problem
is that they expect salaries commensurate with their expensive multi
year training.

Irrespective of that, almost every element of the meme is untrue.

This question is actually one of the more difficult math nerd questions given to high school students at a Math Olympiad.

Then there is some dispute about the semantics of the question.  The New York Times goes so far as to re-write it so it is undisputably true that
"seperately" in this case means that Albert knows only the month and
Bernard only the day instead of another fair interpretation of the word
that would mean merely that Cheryl told them independently.  I'll point
out the official language of Singapore is not just English, but British English (hell, they even drive on the wrong side of the road) so that's
kind of a minor, if glaring, quibble; the sort that ought to make Alex
Trebeck blush if not adjust the score during the commercial break (I
give it a 25% chance, but what the heck).

There is however a deeper, logical flaw that allows for two (count 'em, 2) "correct" answers that is explained by The Guardian's James Grime.

The 3 Easy Steps

1. Albert knows that Bernard doesn't know.

2. Albert deduces Bernard can't have a unique date such as 18 or 19.

3. Albert, smugly taunts Bernard, announcing Bernard doesn't know.

As we've seen above in The New York Times discussion, step one is dependent on what the definition of "is" is.
 Clearly if knowing the date (as Bernard does) provides a unique
solution, Bernard knows all which he admits he does not.  This
eliminates the 18th and 19th (you know my methods Watson).

The Difficult 4th Step

4. Bernard realises what Albert has realised,
which is that Bernard does not have 18 or 19. Now if Albert was holding
June he would know the answer, because there is only one remaining date
in June, namely June 17. So Bernard deduces it is not June.

The "Wrong" Answer- QED

5. Bernard announces he knows the answer. This is the second statement of the problem.

6. If Bernard is so confident, he must have a unique date. We know
it's not 18 or 19. What other unique date can it be? There are two 14s,
two 15s, two 16s and two 17s - but Bernard has eliminated June 17 -
leaving him with August 17 only. That's how he worked it out.

7. Albert is furious Bernard beat him to the answer. Albert puts
himself in Bernard's shoes, running through the six steps above. Finally
Albert reaches the same conclusion we have, Bernard must have 17.
Albert announces he knows the answer too.

So August 17 is a valid answer.

Or is it?

It is all about how you interpret the first statement. If Albert has to deduce that Bernard doesn't know, then we get July 16.

But if Albert knows that Bernard doesn't know - in other words, that
this is a statement of fact, rather than a deduction - then we get
August 17.

This incredibly subtle change - deduction vs fact - completely
changes the nature of the question. Indeed, with fact interpretation the
reader can now deduce the answer from just the first two statements of
the conversation, whereas the argument for July 16 does require all
three statements.

So, can we accept August 17?

Not any more. The originators of the question, Singapore and Asian School Math Olympiads, have rejected this alternative answer.

I'll point out that in most classic logical problems all the
statements are to be taken as fact rather than bluffs.  On the other
hand usually (but not always) all the information is relevant.

In any event I'm taking Alex to the mat on this one.  Jeopardy is an incredibly lucrative franchise and they give away only a pittance
in prizes.  I know plenty of lawyers (looking at you PhilJD) and I
think I get at least a settlement and an invite back.


This Was Probably the Most Pathetic Game of Jeopardy Ever


The law that entropy always increases holds, I think,
the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to
you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with
Maxwell's equations - then so much the worse for Maxwell's equations. If
it is found to be contradicted by observation - well, these
experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found
to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope;
there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

-Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)

Science and Technology News and Blogs

Science Oriented Video


Universe Documentary 2015 - NOVA DARK MATTER Full Science Documentary


Obligatories, News and Blogs below.




School Days

The Sodus, NY Central School District has decided to honor a request by a transgender student to use the girl's bathroom and locker room.

After a series of adults spoke against a transgender girl sharing facilities with their children, Jennifer Surridge stood up to speak. A hush fell over the proceedings.





My daughter has a civil right to be in the bathroom that she gender identifies with. And your children have the same right to be in the bathroom that they gender identify with. If they choose to leave that's a choice- my daughter is not choosing. She just is.

For years, since she was 3 or 4, she has told me she was a girl and I wasn't excepting. I didn't understand and agree with any of it because I didn't get it.

--Jennifer Surridge



The Breakfast Club (Lovin' Eyes Can Never See)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We're a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we're not too hungover  we've been bailed out we're not too exhausted from last night's (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and
weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our
boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late,
it's PhilJD's fault.

 photo 807561379_e6771a7c8e_zps7668d00e.jpg

This Day in History

Today in History for April 15th

The Titanic sinks off the coast of Newfoundland;
President Abraham Lincoln dies; Jackie Robinson becomes first African
American player in MLB; US launches air raid against Libya; Pol Pot
dies; Joey Ramone dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Percy Sledge - When a Man Loves a Woman (1966)

Percy Sledge 1940 - 2015

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.

Abraham Lincoln




The dress code is on your birth certificate

 photo broussard_zpsvne0daif.jpgTristan Brousard is a 21-year-old native of Hathaway, LA, in Jefferson Davis Parrish. The transgender man has filed a sex disrimination lawsuit against his former employer, First Tower Loan LLC, which is based in Flowood, Mississippi and has offices in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois.

Broussard says that he was forced out of his job in Lake Charles, LA, after a company executive discovered he was born female. Tower was hired in February of 2013 as a sales representative and in March a supervisor was going over his employment papers and noticed that his driver's license listed him as female. Broussard told the supervisor that he was transgender.

Most people that don't know me from before can't tell.




Yeah, I see that Hillary is running.

Evidently so is Rubio? And how do the Reds look this year, they got the pitching to go all the way?

I know that there is talk of a "Warren Wing" in the air, and there are various progressive money raising rings trying to talk Warren into running, to be able to hype her running and keep the money raising ring going.

A different perspective, below the fold.





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