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Comment: Re:Uh (Score 1) 369

by grapeshot (#35630592) Attached to: Using the Open Records Law To Intimidate Critics

If you are referring to the public protests in Madison coming from hired people out of state, then you are sadly misinformed. The protests are by Wisconsinites traveling in from all over the state. A few undoubtedly come from nearby states, but they, too, come on their own nickel. As a Wisconsinite myself, it is clear that this issue has galvanized people from every corner of the state, and in all walks of life. No matter how convenient it might be for a tea-hadist to think that most of the protesters are dirty, unwashed outsiders who've been bussed in by some dastardly entity, the reality is that it's simply ordinary people getting in their own cars and driving in to Madison for the day. (News flash: it's not a long drive at all from practically anywhere in the state.)

Besides, from what entity do you imagine the Democrats could possibly fund tens of thousands protesters every single weekend for the past month and a half? I mean, seriously, it's been like 20,000 to 100,000 people there every single weekend (and that's both on Saturdays and Sundays) for the past 5 or 6 weeks. At a not unreasonable cost of $25 per head, the cost would range from half a million to 2.5 million PER DAY! And for something that is only a protest -- so it's not like this dastardly entity would be collecting any real benefit from pissing away this amount of money. I can only conclude that tea-hadists have all parked their brain in some deep dark cave, and are happy to regurgitate lies without even so much as checking if they pass a sniff test.

Although the governor and his party can try to go after this university professor, it certainly shows just how thin-skinned, small-minded, and afraid they really are. No one who lives in this state can doubt the fervor of the response of the people of this state to the governor's actions. This professor hasn't said anything that others in Wisconsin aren't thinking and saying to each other. Trying to silence this one man isn't going to accomplish anything except to perhaps reinforce to the people how much he resembles other dictators and fascists leaders.

Comment: Re:I Never Cease To Be Astonished (Score 1) 112

by grapeshot (#33845168) Attached to: Finding Lost IT With RFID
Actually, no. We electrical engineers often do programming, too, although in a very specialized language related to programmable logic controllers. (It's like boolean logic: if this happens and this other thing happens then put something in motion, otherwise go into fault mode. Let the motion go for a certain period of time, and then put everything back the way it was. Now do that routine 10 times, then wait for someone to start you up again...that sort of thing.)

Comment: I Never Cease To Be Astonished (Score 2, Interesting) 112

by grapeshot (#33818002) Attached to: Finding Lost IT With RFID

As an electrical engineer, I frequently have to work with IT folks to provide data gathering systems on the equipment we install in our manufacturing facilities. Some of these plant floor networks are huge, and have tentacles that reach into every machine and sub-system processor. I never cease to be amazed at the complete lack of documentation that the IT folks put into physically mapping their network equipment. They will quite literally wave their flashlights and point to where they want the central network switches installed. While we and the mechanical engineers draw plans which show general equipment arrangements, and draw up network diagrams showing how our equipment is to be networked, and we label our equipment and electrical panels, the IT guy typically will typically tell me that yes, he thinks there's a switch around here somewhere I can use, and starts hunting around for it.

In my world, while it is quite possible to build and erect a machine without any prints or plans, any future maintenance or additions to such machines would prove to be doubly expensive since it would require a not inconsiderable amount of detective work to come to understand what exists so that it can be modified or changed. (Indeed, back in the early days of engineering, that's how things were built, and it took many decades before the value of making plans and documenting them was recognized.)

It seems to me that creating and maintaining a complete set of documents which map and explain the equipment and network should be adequate, and would prove to be simpler to keep up to date than any sort of RFID system of tying cowbells to servers. Granted, it requires resources and consistent effort, but this has long been the norm in the field of manufacturing engineering. If it works for machines and manufacturing equipment, why wouldn't it work for IT systems?

Comment: Re:Snow Removal In Moscow (Score 1) 202

by grapeshot (#30601548) Attached to: Geoengineering a Snow-Free Winter Fails In Moscow

If you've ever lived in a city where an awful lot of snow falls in the winter, you would know that it's not enough to merely plow the snow. At some point the piles of plowed snow accumulates to the point where you can't plow any more snow onto the pile. In Michigan's Upper Peninsula, every so often during the winter months, GINORMOUS monster snow blowers are brought out which are used to blow the mini-mountains of accumulated plowed snow into dump trucks, which haul the snow out into the countryside. In Wisconsin, this sort of thing happens on a smaller scale in parking lots. There they use end loaders to put the snow into dump truck...which then haul the snow out into the countryside.

Here's a video of one of these giant snowblower trucks in operation. (One manufacturer of these trucks is Oshkosh Trucks. I bet they'd be willing to sell a few to the city of Moscow.)

It takes a serious investment of tax payer's money to buy and keep such equipment. It's not clear to me that municipal governments in Russia function as effectively as they do in Canada and the US. Are taxes collected? Do citizens actually pay their taxes? Or are the citizens too poor to pay taxes, and the wealthy oligarchs excused from paying them? If taxes are paid and collected, do they end up being used for public needs? Or do those funds end up in the pocket of some public official?

In America a lot of people like to bash "government" as wasteful and inefficient, but most Americans have no idea of just how wasteful and inefficient a government can be.

Comment: Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (Score 1) 186

by grapeshot (#30424424) Attached to: Are Sat-Nav Systems Becoming Information Overload?

There's nothing wrong with meandering...unless you've just landed in a strange town for a business meeting that you simply MUST arrive at on time. Or you're lost in a strange, big city and have inadvertently strayed into it's most dangerous neighborhood. Or you're in a large city on the eastern seaboard with confusing one-way streets that are poorly marked and AT NIGHT, no less (Boston, I'm looking at you). Or you're trying to get somewhere in a town where the map has all the expressways listed by their number, but the signs all list them by their name (NYC, I'm looking at you). Try navigating at night, or on an overcast, gray day, when you can't tell which way is north, in a place where the roads all began as cowpaths 300 years ago, so they're not laid out in a spiffy, convenient grid (east coast, I'm looking at you). Even on a sunny day, if you're trying to navigate through a mountainous, hilly, forest-y terrain, with narrow twisty-turny roads, it's amazing how quickly you can become lost (Virginia, Tennessee, I'm looking at you).

At times like these, all that meandering won't get me to where I need to be. I often find myself driving in a strange (to me, that is) part of the US, and I am a firm believer in both my GPS AND my maps. And in colleagues that I can call who'll look things up on MapQuest or GoogleEarth and talk me to my destination.

Comment: Re:Nonsense. Yeah... I think that is the word. (Score 3, Insightful) 304

by grapeshot (#28917653) Attached to: Panel Recommends Space Science, Not Stunts

Just because you don't see the usefulness of space colonization today doesn't mean that it would be NEVER a useful thing. It is conceivable that one day it may become very useful, at which time it may be too late to experiment with space exploration.

When Columbus proposed trying to find the far east by sailing WEST, I'm sure there were people who wondered why bother since there was a perfectly acceptable land route for getting there. (That may be part of the reason why he couldn't find financing with any of the city states in Italy and had to go to the kingdom of Spain.) Granted, someone would've eventually found and permanently colonized the New World, but even so, my point is that it took an enormous and imaginative leap into the unknown to have done so. I should add that this point is not invalidated by consideration of the earlier Viking settlements in Newfoundland, which equally required an enormous leap into the unknown and for equally uncertain results. Furthermore, it could also be said that both expeditions (Ericson's and Columbus's) were built on the backs of previous explorations, both successful and unsuccessful ones.

I say whether with probes or with boots on the ground, let's just boldly go forward.

Comment: Re:Main problem: availability of clean, legit eboo (Score 1) 468

by grapeshot (#27931411) Attached to: Copyright Infringement of Books

This is exactly my gripe. The books that I want to read are either not available in electronic format at all, or they're not available in a format that suits my electronic reader, or they're available at a cost that's hardly less than the hardback price (or the paperback price). In this last case, what stupid idiotic publisher imagines me to be dumb enough to pay such an exorbitant amount for a text file with some specialized formatting? I guess they're INVITING me to go find a digital copy that's at a more realistic price range.

It seems to me that the publishing houses are locked inside their old business model, without any imagination to grasp the future. Piracy exists because there's an eager market that's being under-served -- whether because you haven't made your product available to that market, or it's not at a price-point that that market is willing to pay.

Comment: Pills don't always work, but sometimes they do (Score 1) 674

by grapeshot (#22568812) Attached to: Antidepressants Work No Better Than a Placebo

I don't know about Canada, but in the US only a Psychiatrists can. (Psychiatric training includes earning an MD, whereas Psychologists' training does not. Part of the MD training involves learning about drugs and physiological reactions to them. However, whether or not Psychiatrists are very good MDs, well...that's another question.)

I CAN say that on two occasions in my life, when I was spiraling downwards towards clinical depression (couldn't sleep, couldn't move, was suicidal) therapy and Paxil worked for me. That is, therapy the first time, and Paxil the second time. Fortunately, both times I was able to regain my mental and emotional equilibrium.

However, from what I've seen in my time in group therapy, neither of these tools are always effective for all people. In general, severe and sustained childhood abuse, whether emotional or physical or sexual, can cause the most debilitating dysfunctions in adults. One result of such abuse is a deep rooted anger, which if unexpressed and repressed, CAN lead to severe depression. From where I sat during my years of therapy, observing fellow group members trying to come to grips with their horrific pasts, it was hard to believe that taking pills would resolve their anguish (at best, it might mask it), but it was equally clear that endlessly rehashing their past sometimes kept them trapped in it.

This should also be qualified to add that not all people suffering from clinical depression were on the receiving end of severe and/or sustained abuse. And making the disease more puzzling is that some victims of abuse manage to work their way into being reasonably happy and productive adults. As far as I can tell, there's no really good "predictor" of who's likely to suffer from clinical depression and who isn't -- anymore than being able to rely on either therapy or anti-depressants as a cure for the disease. Indeed, a bad therapist can do even more harm. (And trust me, they're out there.)

The only word of encouragement I can give is to keep trying. If one therapist doesn't work, try another. (There are many different schools of therapy, and one type might work for you where another type doesn't. For example, Rational-Emotive Therapy doesn't really focus on the patient's past, but more on the "let's just deal with what's on your plate now" approach.) If anti-depressants don't do a thing for you, give them up, and try alternative healing techniques: acupuncture, meditation, yoga, and so on. Some of the simplest techniques, such as daily meditation or prayer can be surprisingly effective. These all may sound very la-di-dah and new age-y kind of silly, but what have you got to lose but a little bit of dignity, and what if something you try triggers an insight and leads to progress? I tried something called "dream therapy" once, which I wouldn't necessarily do again, but it did provide me with an insight into my relationship with the rest of the world that I would never have grasped with years of conventional therapy, and which was a real "aha" moment for me. And no, that didn't "fix" me either, but it did give me an understanding of why I was behaving certain ways, and from there I could start re-examining my fundamental approach to life.

FORTRAN rots the brain. -- John McQuillin

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