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Comment: So this is "hacking" weight loss? (Score 1) 493

by ninjagin (#49328849) Attached to: Hacking Weight Loss: What I Learned Losing 30 Pounds

Maybe I'm the only one, but I read TFA and I don't see any hacking going on, here. What I saw instead was a pretty sound approach to health and wellness through dietary changes and continued moderate exercise. I don't see what's been "hacked", here. The "eat less and exercise" approach, wonder of wonders, seems to have worked again!

Honestly, I like hearing about experiences like this, because it gives me hope that I can make my own similar lifestyle changes, but there was no "hack" involved here -- no shortcut, no fast-track, no way to get it done without the work and self discipline. When I get a good checkup at the dentist, am I "hacking" dental hygiene? I think not.

Comment: ... I've used these kiosks! ... (Score 1) 97

At the ATL airport. Pretty whizzy. I think it may have actually sped up the process. The only strange part was you basically move through a set of various stations and checks, like 4 or 5 before you finally talk with an agent about declarations at the end. It was pretty streamlined and pretty easy to use the devices.

Comment: Re:I for one (Score 1) 1089

by ninjagin (#49296735) Attached to: Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US
Isn't it a main responsibility of POTUS to lead and manage the legislative branch?

Well, no, it's not. The primary function of the POTUS is to be the chief executive of the administration. That is, all the agencies, administrations and departments of the federal government. So, along with that comes the responsibility to make appointments to the various non-legislative parts of the government... the dept of justice, for example. So it also goes with firing the other executives in federal government.

The influence of the POTUS on congress is really very small. He can offer vision or direction to the congress from the standpoint of what laws he says he will sign or veto, and the POTUS is going to lay out his direction every year in the state of the union address, but he has no vote in the making of legislation, no leadership role on any committee, and no legislative responsibilities other than the enacting or vetoing legislation at the end. There is a little niggle in that the president can convene or adjourn congress on the occasion of sweeping national tragedy, attack or martial law, but those are true rarities. The VP is the president of the senate, and that means he can cast tie-breaking votes in the event they are needed, but even this is a very limited role in the congress. One would suppose that the VP, if casting such a senate vote, would reflect the position of the administration and by extension the chief executive, but that's not written anywhere. In the early days of the country, the vice president was the guy who came in second in the presidential race, and had opposing views.

There's also the POTUS role of commander-in-chief of the armed forces, which he has for practical decision-making. We have the joint chiefs, but ultimately it's the president that is the one with the responsibility for what they do.

The POTUS is the single highest representative of the nation in foreign policy, and as he holds the top position over the secretary of state, he's responsible, ultimately, for making treaties with foreign nations.

That said, at the minimum, his rubber stamping of extending the Patriot Act perfectly demonstrates how his actions differ from his campaign platform and his ability or need to stand up for the people that elected him.

Well, anyone can hazard a guess, but I think history will probably treat him better than you think it will, though I do agree that he hasn't lived up to expectations. I'll also add that expectations were set uncommonly high. Between the time he got elected and when he took the oath, he was given a pretty cold and deep soak in the dirty bathwater from the previous administration -- and by that I mean extensive debriefing by the leaders of all the various departments of the government in the outgoing administration. Anyone with half a brain would change their opinions when presented with the real-life playbook left my the former tenant of the white house. I have no doubt that the national security stuff in particular was especially hard for him to change course on, as it wasn't part of his set of strengths. We were also at war in 2 places at once and he didn't want to be in any more of those, so he was pretty hawkish about looking out for threats.

Anyhow, I'll close with the observation that many people missed about him from the start. He was, and is, very much a person who wants consensus. He was far far too willing to kowtow to the demands of people that wanted him to leave the status quo in place -- and here I'm talking about the neocon chickenhawks and the big wall street banks. He did not, as most presidents do, clean house at the justice department and remove all the bush-era appointees, for example, even though they all got their JDs from Oral Roberts U and Liberty U and were diametrically opposed to everything he wanted to see. He let them stay, as a conciliatory gesture, hoping that it would earn him a place at the table with his nominal opposition. What he took awhile to learn is that he could not make nice with these people. They would never accept partnership with him. They would not work to higher goals if it meant having any kind of agreement with him. We saw it in congress, especially. So here's a guy who really did want to make things work and was ready to give a little on a few things to show he could be a good partner, but what he gave his opposition they ended up taking and running away. I can only point to the tone he began to set in the days just after this most recent midterm election, which was much more strident and decisive than anything he'd said previously.

So, while you will say he's bound to be seen as a flash in the pan, he is the president we had in the second most damaging collapse in the world economy in 80 years, he was the only president to enter office while 2 simultaneous foreign wars were in full-swing, he was the only president to be able to change a health care system that was basically unreachable for almost a quarter of the nations people, and he's made very real progress in world diplomacy in areas that the nation hasn't ever touched before -- Iran and Cuba, mostly. Sure, he's a polarizing figure, too. If he were a flash in the pan, nobody would notice and nobody would care.

No, he's not perfect, and there's a lot I was hoping he'd do that he has not (getting rid of the TSA, undoing the bloated bureaucracy of the DHS, closing GITMO, retiring the Patriot act, dampening the NSA powers, etc.) but I think it's been pretty good on balance and he'll get a fair treatment by the history books.

Comment: Re:"pioneer inventor of new technology" ??? (Score 1) 183

by ninjagin (#48675781) Attached to: Bill Gates Sponsoring Palladium-Based LENR Technology
Well, I can see part of your point, but there can be many kinds of pioneers. If anything, he was a pioneer in the consumer and business software and computing industry. Lots of people take tax write-offs. Not taking advantage of an opportunity like that is certainly laudable, but are we all supposed to become Harrison Bergerons to meet your arbitrary requirements for shared burden?

Comment: I did it (Score 1) 280

by ninjagin (#48613233) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

English major, here. I wanted to get into Radio really bad when I was in college and after what I felt was a non-competitive B- in organic chemistry (I was a chem major, first). I learned later that B- was actually pretty good, and I regret not sticking with that program... why, I'd be making space-age polymers by now!

I always liked dinking around on computers. Had a CP/M machine back in the day, liked writing little utility programs and stupid zork-like text games. Always enjoyed spending time on the machine -- figuring things out, you know? IBM PCs were pretty much de rigeur in college, got pretty comfortable with them and my university UNIX account. Got pretty skilled at word processing tools, document formatting, etc.

So, after I graduated and had no luck getting radio jobs as automation was taking over that business, so I figured that I'd get a job at a law firm and see if I liked it. I did. Kept me busy. I was a document clerk -- handled a ton of documents, cataloging them, making exhibits, getting stuff for attys at the library, but the computer time just seemed to fly by. So, I started going to grad school, in the business school, to get an MS-IS, but to take the most technical track I could get. So, I took a bunch of coding classes, design classes, analysis classes, and after my first year I got an internship with a telecom company as a tech writer, documenting Operation Surveillance equipment for big big big fiber telecom installations. They gave me a whole lab full of routers and fiber muxes and alarm blocks, 5ESS switches and channel banks, DataKit and terminal servers and CSU/DSU boxes, and I got to play with them and break them and build them back again and write about how to do that. It was great!

With that internship (still taking classes -- grad school took me 7 years to finish) I was able to get a job documenting software interfaces for pre-press software... describing functions and methods, return codes and exceptions, how things worked together, that kind of thing. Then I went back to telecom and documented inventories of telecom equipment before getting picked up by an enterprise services group as an engineer. I worked on build process scripting and tools on a bunch of different system 5 UNIXes. Budget crunch eliminated my contract position so I went to an established VOIP company and wrote installation software in Perl and bourne shell and worked on build process stuff in my first job titled as an engineer. Got laid off of there and worked for an old work friend's startup company, for free, for about 4-5 months until he could pay me a little bit (had to keep my skills fresh)... I did tier 1 support, systems administration, build (SCM) stuff like repo management and the like, some testing and DBA stuff. Stayed with them for a couple years as an engineer. Finally got my MS done. Moved on to a HUGE company as an SCM engineer and went to management about 8-9 years ago.

It's been a long road, but I have done pretty well. I think I'm a good people manager. I'm not afraid of technology and have a pretty good background as a generalist -- networking stuff, systems, coding, tools, etc. I'm not real expert at any of it, but I know enough to understand problems and get the right people working on them.

I think the key part is to just do it. You don't need to have an engineering degree to be an engineer. Most of what I use on a day-to-day basis I learned myself. Working for free, as dumb as it sounds, was great for me. Startups need people who are willing to do just about anything to keep a project moving, and you get to wear a lot of different hats. Ultimately, what took me to STEM was tech writing, but I only got to tech writing after I had learned new languages and had some more formal tech instruction.

Hope it helps.

Comment: Re: On the other hand, the Jihadists perform (Score 2) 772

by ninjagin (#48563747) Attached to: CIA Lied Over Brutal Interrogations

Well, "shoot to kill" sounds good, but it doesn't set an enemy back more than a combatant that is wounded and unable to fight does. Beating a hasty retreat is a lot slower if you have to drag a half dozen screaming meatbags with you as you go. Battlefield resources such as food, fuel, medicine, transport and the time of other warriors are consumed by the needs of the wounded and are not completely available for warmaking. There are secondary resource consumptions after the wounded get to safe havens, too, as they have to consume time and resources while healing, such as food, medicine, time and attention and protection.

Prisoners are a potential source for information about what happened on the battlefield and intelligence relating to what might happen next or might be planned. Presented with hypothetical scenarios, they can help model the thought process of the enemy and inform on what positions or assets the enemy sees as vital, what they might see as superfluous, and what tools or tactics they might be most willing to use. Then, they can be a kind of chip for the return of your own prisoners when hostilities cease. If your prisoner is dead, you get none of that.

I'd rather have thousands and thousands of prisoners (hell, hundreds of thousands) to deal with (and the US/NATO coalition has the capacity to deal with that kind of load) than have to expend twice the amount of ammunition, blood and battlefield assets to ensure their demise while fighting when time and attention is most precious. Prisoners taken and removed far from the battlespace are not a threat, and they are out of a commander's way as he gains control over terrain and projects his force into new areas.

Comment: Salmon in the great lakes has been pretty good (Score 1) 118

by ninjagin (#48555135) Attached to: How One Man Changed the Ecology of the Great Lakes With Salmon
I have sport-fished salmon in lake Michigan, and it was great. A lot of fun, and good eating. Caught a few really nice trout, too. I do worry, though, about the decline of commercial fishing in the great lakes (gosh, the whitefish that used to get pulled out of those lakes was incredible!), the zebra mussels and the asian carp.

Comment: She can be an Engineer Princess, yunno (Score 1) 584

by ninjagin (#48523229) Attached to: Programmer Father Asks: What Gets Little Girls Interested In Science?

My niece is kind of in the same boat as the OP, and I don't take offense at his question. I would love to foster my niece's sense of discovery in science or math, and I have decided that music is a good middle place we can share together... there's loads of science and math in music. About a year after she was born I got a great deal on a star projector that has slides for various astronomical objects and features -- obviously, at a year old, I knew it would have no appeal. At some point, maybe once she's out of kindergarten or 1st grade, stuff like stars will be more meaningful and I can give her the projector and know that she can make a little sense out of what it can show, but I'm not going to force it. (I'm thinking about getting here a microscope, maybe, when she's in 4th grade or so.) I do, however, try to model for her those behaviors that are not gender normative, so that she can see that boys can do the dishes and clean up the kitchen and cook and set the table and iron and do laundry and all that. Her dad does a great job of all that stuff, too, so I think about it more like re-enforcement of where he's going.

Anyhow, even though my niece is fond of princess dress-up and singing and dancing, I don't really see it as an end, or her only preoccupation. I don't see any reason why she can't be an astronomer princess or a biologist princess or an auto mechanic princess or a doctor princess or a lawyer princess or an electrician princess or an HVAC technician princess or an engineer princess. There are scads of different kinds of princesses out there. I think girls pick up on the girly gender roles very early and we can't stop that. Same goes for boys. Yeah, there are going to be people in-between, too, but rather than see gender-normative roles as exclusive, I figure that for kids they are probably just backgrounds for imaginary play -- loaded with all kinds of baggage, maybe, but not real barriers as long as I can help show her (& her mom & dad, too) that I don't see them as barriers or make assumptions about her as a result of them.

When you don't know what to do, walk fast and look worried.