Officer Slater is aggrieved because he knows he’ll be asked to investigate whether the giant penis drawn on the “free speech beachball” is a hate crime. It’s true it’s bound to be reported as one, but you know what officer? That’s your job. You’re a campus cop, OK? You are not protecting Gotham City from evildoers, you are investigating complaints of hate graffiti, some of which are going to turn out to be bogus. Somebody’s got to do it, and that’s why we pay you to do it.
Science fairs weren’t this elegant when I was a wee lad. Thanks to Jason Kottke for the link.
The Navy suddenly noticed that GPS systems are fragile.
“In this bleak, relentlessly morbid talk, James Mickens will describe why making computers secure is an intrinsically impossible task. He will explain why no programming language makes it easy to write secure code. He will then discuss why cloud computing is a black hole for privacy, and only useful for people who want to fill your machine with ads, viruses, or viruses that masquerade as ads. At this point in the talk, an audience member may suggest that Bitcoins can make things better. Mickens will laugh at this audience member and then explain why trusting the Bitcoin infrastructure is like asking Dracula to become a vegan. Mickens will conclude by describing why true love is a joke and why we are all destined to die alone and tormented. The first ten attendees will get balloon animals, and/or an unconvincing explanation about why Mickens intended to (but did not) bring balloon animals. Mickens will then flee on horseback while shouting ‘The Prince of Lies escapes again!'”
Excellent, often tongue-in-cheek pdf by Stuart Schechter about the unique problem of designing computers that have to function around children.
Cool web site has articles about stuff like Swedish people who only stopped using runes 100 years ago and a Viking blacksmith buried with his tools.
Humans are pack animals. They need to gather according to shared traits and then see an enemy of everyone who does not fit.
— Some geeky guy on Slashdot.
Computer scientists are taught classical categorization, which has little correspondence to how our brains actually categorize. The Aristotelian “necessary and sufficient” check-lists of traits, on which we’ve built giant monoliths of computer code (hello, Active Directory) and theory (hello, cladistic phylogeny) are something like the phlogiston theory; a bluntly workable model, that lets you get things done, but also fundamentally wrong, and thus a limitation on what can be understood and predicted.
Research that’s been ongoing since the 1960s or earlier, by people like Eleanor Rosch and Paul Kay, and later George Lakoff and Ronald Langacker, has provided significant amounts of data showing our brains do not assign people to us/them categories because they have a set of traits that we’ve understood and identified. In neurological reality, we assign people to categories based on how closely we think they resemble one or more prototypes, which might be real people (a group leader, typically) or an idealized belief or perception of how men and women should be. The prototype can be fixed (like, say, Jesus) or constantly changing (like, say, a political candidate).
There will always be someone in the group who least resembles the prototype, so there is always a scapegoat available if there’s not enough food or someone needs to take the blame for some unavoidable accident. There may also be anti-prototypes and whoever most resembles that person is less “in the group” than someone who is otherwise the same but lacks these correspondences with the anti-prototypes.
In a strange way this confirms one of Cipolla’s famous “basic laws of human stupidity“; since we’ve evolved a categorization method that mainly serves to quickly identify who gets thrown off the sled when the wolves are catching up, of course there will always be more than enough people to fill that role. If you need a scapegoat, you’ll always be able to identify someone as the stupid person responsible; our brains are biased to work that way.
It seems to me that we are all the recipients of unearned privilege. You were formed in the womb of your birth mother, to her great discomfort and inconvenience; and obviously nothing you did yourself made you worthy of this privilege – it was a gift, literally the gift of life itself, that you received for free. You had already been a freeloading moocher for nine months before you were even born!
But not every birth is equal. Recent research claims that poverty diminishes mental capacities from birth. It’s fairly clear that the richer your parents and community are, the more unearned privileges you will eventually enjoy – for example, the children of Barack Obama enjoy vastly more privilege than the children of impoverished Arkansas sharecroppers, or the children of impoverished Native Americans on the Res.
Right Wing radio pundits like to split common people along color lines by screaming of “black criminality” and “black on black violence”, but criminality and violence correlate far more with poverty and lack of opportunity than with any skin color. Left Wing bloggers like to split common people on color lines by screeching “white privilege” – as though privilege did not correlate with wealth, and as if there were no privileged people of color.
These talking heads, Right and Left, are of their own free will servile to the ruling class. The .001% of humanity whose titanic wealth makes them immune to law would prefer that the rest of us split on color lines, gender lines, religion, anything that will keep us from uniting. If we could put aside our differences, it might interfere with the continuing concentration of the Earth’s vast resources into fewer and fewer hands – or even reverse that trend.
Blackboards are better than whiteboards. Even if they’re green blackboards.
Zero tolerance means no harmless prank shall go unpunished.
This kid’s prank demonstrated that children in his school have the ability to easily see the questions to be used for the state’s standardized tests, because teachers there apparently have full administrator access to the school’s network, and their passwords are their upcased last names.
But nobody cares about that… I think they’re basically freaked out because it’s Florida, and the kid’s prank was to put a picture of men kissing on his teacher’s desktop. Education be damned, we must punish the gaiety! The teenager has since been released into his parents’ custody.
“There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly.” — Publius Terentius Afer
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. offered this country a different kind of vision.
The Deacons for Defense and Justice offered a righteous resistance to oppression, by any means necessary, including lethal violence. The Weather Underground declared bloody war on the US Government and capitalism. The Panthers fought for a vision of equality that endorsed a racially separated nation.
But Dr. King marched with whites, and Jews, and with people so mixed that there was no place for them in a world of stark color-lines. He gave us a vision of a country where people’s opportunities were governed by the content of their character, and not by the color of their skin.
Sadly, Dr. King’s heirs aren’t as admirable. Their insistence on standing as gatekeepers of his legacy means that I can’t make a copy of the “I have a dream” video and host it on my site here. But I can link to a transcript, and to a Youtube video that probably will get taken down.
Every American should listen to this speech today. I’ve heard it dozens of times, and that’s not enough.
No, a pink residue is not a problem with your water quality, and is not harmful in this situation. It is evidence of bacteria that are common inhabitants of our environment. The most typical of these bacteria is one known as Serratia marcescens. These bacteria come from any of a number of naturally-occurring sources, such as soil, mulch, dust, and surface waters, and they thrive in an environment that is moist and high in phosphates.
Until the 1950s, S. marcescens was erroneously believed to be a nonpathogenic “saprophyte”, and its reddish coloration was used in school experiments to track infections. It was also used in biological warfare testing by the U.S. military as a substitute for weaponized tularemia bacteria. On September 26 and 27, 1950, the U.S. Navy conducted a secret experiment named “Operation Sea-Spray” in which S. marcescens was released by bursting balloons of it over the densely populated San Francisco Bay Area in California. Although the Navy apparently believed the bacteria were harmless, beginning on September 29, 11 patients at a local hospital developed very rare, serious urinary tract infections, and one of these individuals, Edward J. Nevin, died. Cases of pneumonia in San Francisco also increased after S. marcescens was released.
OK, well maybe not then.
The definitive guide to Volkswagen Beetle deck lids with hand-drawn figures. Awesome!
Wiktenauer is an ongoing collaboration among researchers and practitioners from across the Western martial arts community, seeking to collect all of the primary and secondary source literature that makes up the text of historical European martial arts research and to organize and present it in a scholarly but accessible format.