The Shorties Girls

I really thought about doing something on intellectual dishonesty today. But you know it boils down to one thing: Cheating cheats you in the long run. So here’s the shorties.

Google Easter Egg: check out what happens when you search for “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

The Cats of Belgium: Belgians have a pretty good sense of humor, it turns out.

The NSA: I guess nobody noticed they had their fingers crossed behind their backs. I wonder what, if anything, can stop them from thumbing their nose at the 4th and 5th Amendments.

Stop! Thief!: Civil forfeitures now exceed losses from burglaries.

Opt Out: Massachusetts has decided they don’t want Common Core. Not because they can’t live up to it, but because they believe what they already implemented was better.

The Whole Country: “Russian sailor drank half a litre of rum before crashing 7,000-ton ship full speed into Scotland.” Some headlines are better than others.

The History [Americans] Don’t Know: We will never figure out how to bring peace to the region without learning how “The West” helped cause the problems in the first place.

And Finally: A few words on Downtown Las Vegas. By the way, “Downtown” and “The Strip” are completely different places. Strictly speaking the Strip isn’t even in Las Vegas!

A Tale of Two Cities

Yesterday, I went on a mini pilgrimage to the site of the old MGM Grand fire — Bally’s.

All traces of the fire itself were erased 34 years and multiple renovations ago. Nevertheless, I could imagine a fireball traversing the long casino floor in seconds, faster than anyone could possibly have run. And yet, if you know what you are looking at, there are vestiges: exit doors prominently marked “EMERGENCY EXIT PUSH TO OPEN”; signage reminding guests where they can and cannot smoke.

In 1980 as today, tourism and hospitality is the largest industry in Las Vegas. Disaster forced changes for the better on businesses that might not otherwise have agreed. Dead tourists and news coverage of dead tourists is bad for business.

However, Vegas is not the worlds most popular tourist destination. France has twice as many annual visitors as Vegas. Paris alone has more annual visitors than Vegas. And remember that dead tourists are bad for business? Yes, Paris has a little problem. Experts swear it’s just a short term problem.


Heck, Paris has survived bigger problems than this.

Unhappy Anniversary: Vegas’s Towering Inferno

November 21, 1980, the MGM Grand Hotel (now Bally’s) had a deadly fire:

The official report on the fire is available in PDF form via the Fire Department. The event caused 85 deaths, a huge change of attitude, a massive renovation of Nevada’s building codes related to fire safety, and changes to Clark County Fire Department.

The lessons learned in Las Vegas may even have made your town’s tall buildings safer.

Sex Ed in Clark County, Nevada

There is quite the local controversy surrounding exactly what students should be taught about their own bodies and sexuality in the 5th largest school district in the nation, Clark County School District. CCSD, to its credit, wants to teach more and make sure students get more accurate information. Students want that too. Parents, on the other hand, want to sharply limit what their kids learn, and they want to keep an “opt-in” mechanism so that parents actually have to sign a piece of paper saying it’s ok to teach kids about sex education.

Now here’s the thing. Well over 99.9% of school kids do in fact have either a vagina or a penis. Sure, I’ll allow for a small chance somebody doesn’t have one or the other. Those same parents who want to “control” how exactly how much their kids know about sex are not teaching them enough, and they aren’t starting early enough. These are the kind of parents who don’t bother to mention to a girl that she will get a period someday, waiting until the inevitable menarche panic. These are exactly the parents whose kids most desperately need sex ed.

Kids who don’t get enough information resort to asking friends who know little more than they do, as in that classic scene from your old Judy Blume book. They make mistakes because they don’t know any better. By contrast, kids who get sex ed wait longer to have sex, and they use contraception when they do — an unmistakable win-win reducing the chances of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

When I was young, most people had never heard of the internet. Now, thank [deity], there are places online where young people can get straight talk about their bodies and their sexuality.

Interested in more of my musings on this and related topics? Here’s Shelby Knox, contraceptives prevent abortions, and twisting the facts. Oh, and what do you call people who use the rhythm method of birth control? Parents!

In Closing: the return of the MERS controversy; Joe Biden’s TPP problem; wasn’t supposed to say that in public (but hey, in the summer of 2007 Hillary seemed inevitable too); internet hacks for students; gosh, that headline means something completely different until you get to the last two words; your elected representatives don’t care what your opinion is.

Uber Continues to Not Care What the Law Is

Nope, they wouldn’t even tell the county if they plan to maybe follow the law.

Meanwhile, they went live the same day. The “independent contractors” don’t seem to know (or honestly, care) whether they need a state and county (or city, if they live in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, or Henderson) business license. If they are like any other independent contractor in the whole damn county, then yes they do. And yes, if Uber wants to do business in Clark County, they need a business license.

But any attempt to make these people follow the law is derided as being a pawn of Big Taxi Companies. That’s great spin, but I hope the rule of law catches up with them.

And all the promises of being cost effective are nothing more than more spin. If you come to Vegas, remember that we have plenty of inexpensive and unambiguously legal ways to get around town.


Voucher Detente

So, recently the State of Nevada passed a law allowing vouchers for parents to send their Special Snowflakes to private school on the public’s money. I have long been opposed to school vouchers for several reasons and if you’re curious, you can read about them here and here.

But it turns out that the Nevada law has a catch: to get the money, the child must be enrolled in a public or charter school for at least 100 days. Does anybody happen to remember how long a typical school year is? It averages 180 days.

So yeah, if you honestly give it an shot and the local public school isn’t working for your kid, the State of Nevada will help you out, but they’re not going to subsidize sending your Precious Darling to Las Vegas Day School or Bishop Gorman. You want the State’s money? You play by the State’s rules.

That is detente, Comrade.

In Closing: When a traffic citation can mean a death sentence, we all have a problem regardless of gender or color; Last Words; Waaah, Uber doesn’t like following rules!; hidden near Vegas; Votesmart; skewed; no surprise.