Off to the Wilderness

In addition to the TR General/Rope Rescue series I mentioned, I've been concurrently taking TR Wilderness classes on alternating weekends. This weekend is the last of those too, so by Sunday my summer of rescue classes will have come to an end. (If you're keeping track at home, I was already TR Water certified.)

I'll be out participating in the exercises and exams through Sunday. Have a good weekend. 

UPDATE: It’s 8:40 PM Sunday and I’m back on station. 

The night phase turned out to be a full scale search and rock rope-rescue by midnight. Both it and other phases were handled with great skill by everyone in spite of the difficulty of coming from different agencies and levels of government. My son, I am pleased to say, was part of the rope team on the cliff top. He’s coming along.

It almost turned into a real rescue. A 14 year old girl went missing yesterday, and they almost called off the exercise to have us participate in the search. Fortunately I’m told that she was located quickly, so we continued with the exercise.

“Hey y’all”

Quite a translation from the French. 

I need to try to remember “Salut à toutes et à tous.” That could be a useful phrase sometime. 

Duties versus Responsibilities

Last night I took the last exam in the Technical Rescuer - General series (which in NC is also combined with the Rope Rescue specialization). One of the multiple choice questions asked you whether certain things were DUTIES of the incident commander, or instead RESPONSIBILITIES.

These exams are often badly written. I have found them harder than the exams I took in graduate school, sometimes, just because of the bad writing by the exam authors. Sometimes the issue is that the questions are antiquated and haven't been replaced:

  • Last night's exam also featured two questions about an acronym used in rope rescue, both the current one we were taught about and the old one they long ago replaced and no one had ever heard of before; 
  • another exam featured a series of questions about a type of harness that was long ago discontinued by NFPA, and about which we therefore knew nothing; 
  • a third exam had a Vietnam-era question about helicopters that hasn't been current in decades. 

Those questions don't necessarily feature bad writing, just outdated information that needs to be cleaned up but apparently never is. They could be fixed if there were ever a review.

What really gets to me is the logic problems in the exams that are created by authors not understanding how logic works. One question on an early test asked if a kind of rescue material should be replaced after exposure to temperatures above 160 degrees Fahrenheit, 200 degrees, 220 degrees, or 240 degrees. Now logic will tell you that only 240 could be correct, as otherwise there would be multiple correct answers on a question that only accepts one. For example, if the correct answer were 220, then anything exposed to 240 should also be replaced because 240 > 220. 

However, 220 was in fact the correct answer, and the fact that 240 was also correct didn't bother the authors. The question could have been asked differently without creating that problem, which is why test authors should have some training in logic. "What is the standard for the maximum temperature beyond which these materials should be replaced?" would not have created the same issue.

Here too the real point of the question was to see if you had memorized the exact wording of the answer. There is no technical distinction in the literature between 'duty' and 'responsibility' that would justify including both answers in the test. If you look up the definition for 'responsibility,' you will find that the appropriate entry includes the word 'duty.' Either of these words would, in ordinary English, correctly describe the concept. However, one of them was right, and the other was counted towards failure of the exam.

I imagine this sort of thing comes up in many similar technical fields. I know it's something that the authors of the Law School Admissions Test take seriously, because they hired a friend of mine who is a professional logician to review their tests. At the technical school level, though, students have fewer resources and are unlikely to sue if they should wrongfully fail an exam. They're just working class people who are expected to put up with it, as they are often expected to put up with worse conditions in society. You failed? Eh, repeat the course. It won't hurt you to hear it again. 

Cyberpunk Update

Bionic hands are enjoying a significant improvement.

For the first time, a person with an arm amputation can manipulate each finger of a bionic hand as if it was his own. Thanks to revolutionary surgical and engineering advancements that seamlessly merge humans with machines, this breakthrough offers new hope and possibilities for people with amputations worldwide. A study presents the first documented case of an individual whose body was surgically modified to incorporate implanted sensors and a skeletal implant. A.I. algorithms then translated the user's intentions into movement of the prosthesis.

And, via Chicago Boyz, wearable devices are helping fight diabetes

UPDATE: Military computer chips with human and mouse brain tissue

Home in the High Country

It’s taken a day of travel, but I’ve returned home to the far blue mountains.* I won’t be here long; by the end of the month I’m due to wander out West for a time. For a few days, though, I’ll be here where things are familiar. 

* Louis L’amour made the worst pun I know of in all his work at the end of that novel, when the protagonist sees the far blue mountains,’but he knew not their appellation.’

A Visit with Uncle J

Longtime readers will remember Uncle Jimbo, former Green Beret and fellow BLACKFIVE blogger. I dropped in on him today while passing through Arlington. He has a new sign.

It’s hilarious in the context of his neighbors, who all have those “IN THIS HOUSE WE..” rainbow signs they probably got at their Unitarian or Methodist church. 

The Black Sea Deal

Russia suspended its participation in the Black Sea deal, which provided a grain corridor to the world from the war in Ukraine. Wheat prices jumped immediately, as they would given that Russia and Ukraine together provide a quarter of the world's supply. That said, the war has already lead to fluctuations