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Comment: Re:How about "no"? (Score 1) 215

by hey! (#48654623) Attached to: Putting Time Out In Time Out: The Science of Discipline

Actual parent of kids who turned out be civilized human beings here.

I never felt resentful when ivory-tower experts had an idea about child rearing, because I could always look up their sources and decide for myself whether that evidence was credible. Often I didn't find their claims credible, but other times I did. The problem with the self-appointed "experts" who have no evidence to support this claim. These come in two flavors, those who recast parenting fads as "science", but actually have no evidence to support their claims; and "traditionalists" who advocate corporal punishment. The traditionalist's evidence tends to be, "Dad used to whup the hell out of me, and look how I turned out." Well, you seem OK, but so do a lot of other people who were raised completely differently from you.

The truth is that most people seem to turn out more or less OK. I believe there's a powerful tendency for kids to grow up average-ish that thwarts every parenting philosophy, and rescues kids from some truly awful parenting.

I had a friend growing up whose mother "taught" her children to be careful with fire by burning their hands on the stove when they were toddlers. This was before mandatory reporting, so nobody realized on her youngest that this was the third toddler she'd brought into the emergency room with serious hand burns. She also beat her kids with a razor strap whenever they annoyed her -- who the hell kept a razor strap in their house, even back in the 60s? In the summer she kicked her kids out of the house when she woke up at 7AM and wouldn't let them back in until 7PM, not even to use the bathroom. They used to shit on the street, until my Mom found out and let them use our bathroom. Families in the neighborhood fed them like stray cats. You'd think kids raised that way would be totally dsyfunctional adults, but in fact these kids all grew up to be, apparently, normal. Just like my brothers and sisters. We grew up in a tight-knit, permissive household where physical punishment was never used, and we turned out to be normal, law-abiding adults.

I'm not saying parenting doesn't matter. I'm saying relax and enjoy one of life's great experiences. Do your best to do what's right, but don't worry when people tell you (as they will) that that's wrong. There's more than one way to do it, and you can recover from a few mistakes, or even a lot of mistakes. Parenting is one of the few endeavors where sincere effort counts in itself.

Comment: Re:I saw How We Got To Now too (Score 4, Informative) 74

by hey! (#48652689) Attached to: How a Massachusetts Man Invented the Global Ice Market

Old ways of doing things often hang on an unexpectedly long time because a mature technology has the advantages of ubiquity. People are comfortable with it, all the kinks have all been worked out, and its popularity gives it a huge structural cost advantage.

You can't think in terms of how expensive it would be to have a 50 lb block of ice delivered to your doorstep today. The *marginal* cost of having ice delivered is nil when everyone on your street is getting it. Everyone had an actual "icebox", and since it had no moving parts it never needed servicing or replacing. So when electric refrigerators became available it was a choice of keeping your perfectly good icebox with its reliable, regularly scheduled ice delivery, or buy a cranky, complicated, expensive piece of machinery that would pay for itself just in time to need replacing. If the ice industry killed itself by shipping polluted ice, it's probably because they couldn't expand their supply to meet demand.

I'll bet the grandchildren of kids learning to drive today will find the whole concept of a massive, truck-based gasoline distribution network absurdly complicated. But it works because it's massive, and because it's ubiquitous we assume it is simple -- which it is on the consumer end. On the production end it is fantastically complicated and labor intensive.

Speaking of the Boston ice industry, I live a half mile from a 20 acre (8 ha) pond that supported a major ice operation in the 1800s. Pictures show men harvesting blocks of ice eighteen, even twenty-four inches thick for shipment around the world. In the non-winter months the companies operated water-powered mills. Ice was a classic case of exploiting slack resources. Ice meant no head for the water powered mill, and an idle workforce. So electric refrigeration wasn't the only pressure on the ice industry: electric factories would have raised the price of winter labor.

Today that same pond never gets more than a couple of inches of ice, even in last year's "polar vortex" event -- you can't make ice that thick in a couple weeks, you need a cold winter that starts early and doesn't let go for months. When I was a kid this pond iced over in December. Now it ices over in Janurary, or Feburary, or some years not at all except for the lee end. In January I can fish from my canoe on ponds where I would once have been ice-fishing.

Comment: Re:"Cultural arrogance" (Score 1) 152

by hey! (#48647795) Attached to: US Seeks China's Help Against North Korean Cyberattacks

Where is the "only public enemy number one" rule written down?

Mockery is what we do to political leaders, our own included. Some of us even mock political leaders we support. And that's the test of whether you truly believe in someone or in a system. Everybody mocks people they disagree with, it takes real confidence to mock people you agree with. At least that's the way Americans view things. A leader who can't take a ribbing is weak, and the more elaborate the display of machismo or military trappings the weaker we think he is.

Comment: Re:What took them so long? (Score 1) 196

by hey! (#48646633) Attached to: Cyberattack On German Steel Factory Causes 'Massive Damage'

You can turn that question around. Given the manifest possibility of such a act, why haven't more organizations taken steps to prevent them?

We keep hearing from the companies attacked and the press that these attacks are "sophisticated", but this attack started with a simple spear phishing attack. People use "sophisticated" to mean "more trouble than we were prepared for."

Comparisons to Stuxnet seem overblown and (in some cases) self-serving. Stuxnet was designed to undermine systems the perpetrator had no access to; it would work even if the administrators of the target system successfully locked the attacker out. In this case the administrator failed to secure the network from the attacker.

Not every persistent threat is an advanced one.

Comment: Re:Things happen - multiple things (Score 2) 60

by hey! (#48642965) Attached to: Massive Volcanic Eruptions Accompanied Dinosaur Extinction

Back in the early 90s I had the opportunity of participating on a paleontological expedition to the badlands of Montana. The soil was built up over hundreds of millions of years and flooding cut through the soft soil leaving a stratigraphy that is dramatic and easy to read. You can even see the Chicxulub ejecta, a chocolate brown horizontal line about the width of your hand.

Now whole dinosaur skeletons are a rare find. You can spend a whole season tramping through the badlands and never find two bones that go together. But individual bones are more common, and bone fragments are more common still, and experts can often identify the group of dinosaurs or even the species of dinosaur a bone fragment came from, often a surprisingly small fragment of bone.

What we were doing was assembling a database of species found by layer, which in turn maps to era. What the PI was finding was a shift towards species with anatomical adaptations to deal with heat. His opinion was that there was already a climate driven adaptive stress on the dinosaur population, which turned the aftermath of the Chicxulub impact into a knock-out blow.

So the idea that there was more going on than an asteroid impact is hardly new. People were thinking that way twenty years ago.

Comment: Re:False Falg? (Score 3, Insightful) 234

by hey! (#48642825) Attached to: North Korea Denies Responsibility for Sony Attack, Warns Against Retaliation

One thing every thoughtful fan of the mystery story knows is that in real life, motivation tells you very little about who done what. That's because *most* people, when faced with a problem, don't even consider murder. Murderers are not typical people.

The same goes for hackers. When companies first started putting Internet connections back in the 90s in I would explain that they need to start taking steps to secure their networks, and almost without exception the response was "Why? Why would anyone be interested in hacking *us*?" And I had to explain that the Internet was accessible to *everyone*, including people whose motivations and ways of thinking would make no sense to them.

Motivation may have limited use in perhaps identifying some possible suspects, but it's not probative of anything. You can't rule anyone out or in based on what you think their motivations are or should be. The only way to know that somebody has done something is by following the chain of evidence that leads to some concrete action they've taken.

Comment: Re:While great for the dog (Score 3, Insightful) 25

by hey! (#48641815) Attached to: How a 3D Printer Let a Dog Run For the First Time

Well, there's two reasons why 3D printing makes sense. One is prototyping. You might need to make a half dozen different prototypes that are pretty similar to each other before you find one that really works. The second is replacement. You may need to replace these things on a regular basis. Replacing them is just a matter of sending a file to a printer -- no craft skill needed at all.

Hand crafting something like this falls within the scope of my tinkering abilities. I've worked with fiberglass and epoxy and wood. But it's not for everyone and if someone had to *pay* me to make something like this it would probably cost a thousand dollars a pair.

Something like this would seem to fall into the sweet spot for 3D printing: something you need more than one of, but not *thousands* of identical copies.

Comment: Re:$32 million of greed. (Score 1) 169

by hey! (#48639471) Attached to: Calculus Textbook Author James Stewart Has Died

I have a friend who was a medical entomologist and journal editor before he retired. I ran into him while I was browsing a book table at a conference, and mentioned that I'd like to buy one of the medical entomology textbooks but the $250 price tag was a bit steep.

"Just wait," he said. "I'm about to change that. I'm writing a new textbook that will be a lot cheaper. I want students and public health departments to be able to afford a solid medical entomology reference."

When his book came out the publisher set the priced at $500. It was twice as expensive any of its competitors. Now something like this is never going to sell like a basic calculus book, but it has a considerably larger market than you'd think. His idea was that it would find its way into the syllabus in medical, veterinary and public health schools; and that hospitals and public health agencies would buy copies for their libraries. But his strategy to make that happen by making the book affordable and sell in (relatively) high numbers; the publisher had other plans.

So don't blame authors for high textbook prices. It's publishers who set the price.

The only problem with being a man of leisure is that you can never stop and take a rest.