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Comment: Re:expert skill-based integration (Score 1) 155

by ShieldW0lf (#47553267) Attached to: Soccer Superstar Plays With Very Low Brain Activity

It's not a matter of having an "urge". I lived in an area with a lot of gang violence, and I had a lot of friends who weren't particularly good at standing up for themselves... hippies, ravers, skaters, theater folk, etc. When your friends can't stand up for themselves and there's an imminent threat, you step forward.

I was just a cowardly little nerd who skipped a grade and was younger and smaller than everyone else when I was young, and spent a lot of time running away. Then I hit puberty and my balls dropped, and I had an altercation where a teacher didn't show up for class and the students were running wild, a football player punched me in the back of the head and called my mother a whore, and I beat him half unconcious with tables, chairs and desks. I was standing over his prostrate body with a chair in my hand, and a third guy suplexed me on my head while I was paying attention to the guy who had infringed my honour. One second I was standing, the next I was on my head semiconscious. It all happened so fast, I wanted to understand how he did it, so I joined the team and for the first time in my life I was fighting guys my own size instead of guys who outweighed me by a hundred pounds, and I was undefeated in tournament.

Now, we're all adults, I'm not wandering around being dwarfed by everyone I meet, and I'm a tough guy who still surprises himself because part of me still thinks of myself as David and everyone else as Goliath. I enter every fight expecting my opponent to break me, hoping only to break him more than he breaks me, and I'm always startled at how slow and incompetent he is. I still get my bones broken sometimes, I've broken ribs, my nose, my face, my teeth... but I fight through the pain until, in the end, I'm standing over my helpless opponent and holding his life in my hands.

Truth is, I like it. When the violence comes, the adrenaline response I get is much higher than the average guy, to the point where I get chills and shiver and am completely dismissive of pain. It scares people, when it's in the aftermath and my teeth are chattering and I'm grinning like a madman and shaking like a leaf in a storm, wishing there was someone else to fight because I feel SOO fucking awesome. Based on conversations with doctors and martial arts instructors, only about 5% of the population has a physiological response like I do.

Training aside, I seem to be built for this type of thing... although it's possible it's a learned response from the violence I saw in my youth.

At any rate, I think about it and talk about it because I like it, I'm good at it, and when the shit hits the fan, the people close to me appreciate it, even if they find it unpleasant to hear about when we're all sitting and making small talk. It's nice to participate in a serious conversation about it.

Comment: Re:The human side of the story (Score 1) 124

Perhaps you don't understand how governments and large corporations structure themselves in order to save money: they use contractors instead of employees for exactly that reason.

Regardless of the disaster scenario, employee/employer rules stipulate they have to pay their employees during the time when they're normally expected to work, even if they can get no productive work from them. If they have extended downtime due to fire, construction, etc., They would have to lay off the unused workers, which means paying unemployment benefits. Contracts, on the other hand, can be written so they can be paused or terminated at will. It's up to the contracting firm to manage the pay when they're "sitting on the bench", and most of those contracts provide no compensation for periods of non-work.

On the flip side, when you are hired as a contractor, you explicitly sign up for those risks. Even though it may look like a regular job, it isn't. It's a contract.

The human side of the equation was carefully measured and surgically extracted back when the government decided to use contractors instead of employees. Employees cost too much.

Comment: Re:Earthshaking (Score 2) 124

When the Chicago loop flooded in 1991, the Marshall Field's State Street store was impacted. Being the headquarters for the Marshall Field's chain, they had their data and networking centers on the tenth floor. Their network topology was a hub and spoke affair, and the State Street store was the hub. The operators continued working in the building the entire duration of the flood. They had to wade through water on the ground floor to reach the stairs to climb the 10 stories to work. The electrical bus normally feeds from the lower levels, but when power was cut the computers and routers had to be kept running, so the generator on the roof was fired up. The generator was not dedicated to the computer systems, and powered the entire building. The operators said they saw the water boiling around the electrified bus.

I don't know if all that was actually true, but I do know that throughout the entire flood and recovery, the chain experienced no network outages. The fiber optic cables carrying the data had no problems being immersed, and all the terminations and transceivers were in the data center on the tenth floor.

Comment: Re:expert skill-based integration (Score 2) 155

by ShieldW0lf (#47540465) Attached to: Soccer Superstar Plays With Very Low Brain Activity

I used to wrestle in school, took it pretty seriously and won gold in several provincial tournaments. I found that my body would be operating automatically when I did my moves, just like the article describes, and that the conscious part of my mind would be "watching" as though I was removed from the fight and was being an outside observer. Except that it wasn't that simple, because the tactile is huge in wrestling, when you can't see the guy and you're rolling and flipping and flying through the air, your contact with your opponent gives you an "eyes in the back of your head" sense, and that gets merged into what you're "watching" without removing the outside observer feeling. In street fights, which is more like a team sport than wrestling, it lets me use my conscious mind to keep a "map" of where people are, which is full of estimates based on where they were and the direction they were moving when I saw them out of the corner of my eye while absorbed in an exchange with the guy in front of me. But it's still not like you're thinking. You're being conscious without making an effort to be creative, and you do what the situation tells you is obvious. All the mental effort is in holding the model together effectively.

Comment: Re:Stability (Score 2) 85

by plover (#47539733) Attached to: Nightfall: Can Kalgash Exist?

Couldn't an already evolved planet be orbiting a star that is traveling, and is then captured by a multi-star system?

Assuming that evolution has produced other forms of life in many systems around the universe, it makes sense that it's done so on stars that have then had their travels altered. And yes, there are all kinds of problems. During the transition, would the evolved planet remain a safe distance from the other stars in the cluster? Would any of the life on it survive as it changes to the new orbit? I don't imagine much life would survive on Earth if we had to make a pass as close to the sun as Mercury, but it's possible a few microbes would make it and evolve again in another billion years.

Comment: Re:Minimum wage (Score 1) 118

by plover (#47539667) Attached to: AP Computer Science Test Takers Up 8,000; Pass Rate Down 6.8%

It seems to me they're trying to offer a career path to a group of people who could use additional options.

If we assume that attributes that make for good programmers (design skills, intelligence, etc) are equally distributed, there are a lot of really smart people (that could become programmers) out there that have something blocking their opportunities.

Things like bias, culture, and upbringing play a huge role. Earlier this year my step-niece (age 21, working on her bachelor's degree) was told "you're far too pretty for all this school, you should just find a nice man and marry him." These exact words came out of her grandmother's mouth. That's what these kids grow up with.

I firmly believe that part of the reason my son has been so successful is that we never expected anything less from him. He knew from kindergarten onwards that college was simply the next school after high school. His decision was "where", not "if". That's far from true in a lot of families or for a lot of kids.

Part of what Gates and Zuckerberg are trying to do is get the message out to these kids. If they don't hear from someone who says "you can certainly do this", they might never try.

Comment: Re:Sad (Score 1) 164

by plover (#47533113) Attached to: Wikipedia Blocks 'Disruptive' Edits From US Congress

The vandalism in question is coming from someone who has access to a congressional staffer's computer, not necessarily a member of congress. This could be anyone from a member of congress to a teenage page to the 12-year-old nephew of a congressman's chief of staff to an intern to a night watchman. Apparently, there are about 9000 people with regular access to the machines in this address range. Given a sampling of 9000 people, how many are going to be as impolite as an internet troll? That there is at least one uncultured moron in the crowd is not particularly surprising.

Yes, it's sad that anyone would either sink to this level, or fail to grow beyond it. It's just not surprising.

Comment: Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 198

Since the city is still going to have to tie into someone's top tier backbone to carry their traffic to the rest of the world, they'll still likely have to route it through Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, or some other provider's network, and the NSA's taps are on those top tier providers. I also don't know if a city would fight against a National Security Letter any more or less than any other provider, so they would still never tell you about a tap. But at least they could go in claiming to start from the moral high ground: "Support Cleveland's new city-wide Internet service - We Have Never Tapped Anyone's Data (only because we haven't been asked.)"

Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly. - Henry Spencer, University of Toronto Unix hack

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