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Comment: I've managed a team full of H1bs.. (Score 4, Interesting) 412

by hey! (#48677749) Attached to: Paul Graham: Let the Other 95% of Great Programmers In

Not my choice, we got them in a deal with a VC. And I will tell you from experience that they're not all great programmers. A *few* of them were very good programmers, most of them were OK, and a few were very *bad* programmers. Just like everyone else. The idea that the H1B program just brings in technical giants is pure fantasy. This isn't 1980; if a CS genius living in Bangalore wants to work he doesn't have to come to the US anymore, there are good opportunities for him at home..

H1B brings in a cross section of inexperienced programmers and kicks them out of the country once they've gained some experience. I have nothing against bringing more foreign talent into the US, but it should be with an eye to encouraging permanent residency. I think if you sponsor an H1B and he goes home, you should have to wait a couple years before you replace him. Then companies will be pickier about who they bring over.

I have to say, managing a team of H1Bs was very rewarding, not necessarily from a technical standpoint but from a cultural standpoint. Because I had to learn about each programmer on my team and the way things are done in his culture, I think I became closer to a lot of them than I would have to a team of Americans.

Comment: Re:Why is the White House involved? (Score 2) 225

by hey! (#48669123) Attached to: Sony To Release the Interview Online Today; Apple Won't Play Ball

Presidents, governors and mayors all do this kind of thing -- call up private businesses and ask them to do stuff. The mayor may call a local business and ask it to reconsider withdrawing its sponsorship of the local youth baseball league. The governor might call up union leaders and senior management in a strike, particularly if it affects things lots of people need like transit or health care.

This is the exercise of *soft* power, of influence rather than of compulsion. Obama can't call Apple and compel them to change their stance. But he can call Tim Cook and *persuade* him, possibly with more success than Michael Lynton, particuarly given that the two may be having some kind of dispute. Ego *does* play a role in CEO decision making.

Comment: Re:At a guess . . . (Score 1) 173

by hey! (#48661189) Attached to: Study: Light-Emitting Screens Before Bedtime Disrupt Sleep

I actually use yellow tinted goggles after 6PM this time of year. The sunlight is so short and weak this time of year my sleep schedule gets totally messed up. When that happens in the summer I just get up in the middle of the night and work until bedtime, but that doesn't work here in December because there's not enough light during the day to get synced up.

So I try to go outdoors every day for an hour around noon, particularly if its overcast. And I wear those stupid goggles after 6PM, which is a PITA but beats lying in bed awake all night only to fall asleep at noon.

The particular pair I use (Uvex S1933X) cost only $8 and are, surprisingly, optically pretty good. There's slight distortion at the edge-of-field but they're fine in the center of the field. They don't actually block much blue light, but by looking at color swatches I've determined the cut off violet quite dramatically. When I put them on, all those irritating "blue" LEDS (which are actually violet) simply disappear. You can be looking straight at one with these puppies on and you'd never know it was lit, much less annoyingly bright. Subjectively, my eyes feel less tired too, although the lenses need frequent cleaning.

Another thing I find useful is a word processor called FocusWriter. It can edit ODT files, but it ignores all the color styling and hides all the Windows controls. The intent is to eliminate writing distractions, but I find it useful to eliminate blue-violet light exposure. I set the display background to black and the text background to amber, and those are the only colors on screen. I'd pay good money for an epaper ereader with an amber backlight. As for tablets, Amazon's Kindle App doesn't give you any nighttime-friendly options; the best is black text on sepia, but it's far too bright. Moon+ Reader is a good alternative for ePub files; Cool Reader is a GPL'd ebook reader that can be configured for comfortable nighttime reading, although it's UI isn't quite as polished as Moon+ Reader.

Comment: Re:Good now you go and take care of her judge! (Score 1) 185

by hey! (#48656623) Attached to: Argentine Court Rules Orangutan Is a "Non-Human Person"

Okay. So now Sandra is entitled to welfare and liable in civil suits as well as criminally responsible.

Neither necessarily follows as a consequence of personhood. Children cannot be held liable in civil suits and in most cases very young ones cannot be held criminally responsible, not because children aren't human, but because they can't reasonably be expected to take a responsible, independent part in human society.

Welfare for animals is not a consequence of animal personhood, but a consequence of humans taking animals from their natural environment. Once you have custody of an animal, by the norms of our society you are responsible for that animal's welfare. When I catch a fish which I don't plan to release, I pith it with a sharpened screwdriver, not because the fish has human rights, but because letting an animal die a slow and painful death when it's easy to kill it quickly and painlessly is needlessly cruel.

I have thought on this often and equality to humanity should be measured in terms of what sets us apart from Sandra. The ability to abstract and to use language is one part of that. The ability to abstract and to use language is one part of that.

Well, what about people with aphasia? Do they lose their human status because they can't use language? Also, when reasoning about the abstraction capabilities of great apes it's important not to reason from assumptions. I've had the good fortune to work with primate field researchers, and there's good reason to believe that chimpanzees (for example) plan ahead; this necessarily involves a concept of "self" and "other", "now" and "in the future", all of which I think can reasonably be called abstractions, in fact I'd say they're the key ones. "Freedom" means nothing to an animal that has no concept of self or future.

Comment: Re:But an unborn baby is not a person. Riiiiiight. (Score 1) 185

by hey! (#48656445) Attached to: Argentine Court Rules Orangutan Is a "Non-Human Person"

It's seems perfectly plausible to me that an adult great ape might be a "person" but a blastula with a couple of dozen cells is not, nor a one ounce fetus at the end of the first trimester. The baby's brain at birth will weigh more than a dozen times that at birth.

Comment: Re:Stone Age diet ? he wants to live all 20 years? (Score 3, Interesting) 439

by hey! (#48656401) Attached to: How Venture Capitalist Peter Thiel Plans To Live 120 Years

The interesting thing is when researchers did plots of estimated ages of paleolithic skeletons, the population showed exponential decay from the age of maturity. For modern populations in advanced societies the # deaths vs. age of death curve is relatively flat until you start getting into the 60s and 70s.

What this tells you is that paleolithic people didn't die from age related causes. They got picked off by accident, mishap, violence or infections that cut down people in their prime, so it made no difference whether you were 16 or 30, your chances for surviving another year were the same.

So this kind of makes sense; he's looking to move into a population which does not die from age. It's the kind of thing that makes intuitive sense, but often doesn't pan out. What *might* make sense is a counter-intuitive move: fasting, or intermittent fasting where you fast on alternate days. This reproduces the way paleolithic people consumed calories: not three meals a day on the clock, but feasting after a kill and making

Taking HGH is just proof that having money doesn't make you smart or well-informed. He is going to need that cancer cure soon if he keeps that up. His plan is like pouring oil on a smoldering fire and hoping they develop really good fire extinguishers soon. It also seems very un-paleo to me. Paleolithic people went through periods where they had plenty of HGH (feasting) and periods with low HGH levels (fasting). Some researchers believe the fasting period confers many aging related health benefits.

Comment: Re:Cannons? (Score 1) 276

by hey! (#48655339) Attached to: TSA Has Record-Breaking Haul In 2014: Guns, Cannons, and Swords

I'd guess you could successfully hijack a plane with a cannon that was small enough to hand-hold, provided someone else smuggled the shot and powder onboard. Presumably we're talking about a very light cannon here, otherwise it'd exceed the passenger's carry on weight allowance, which is usually about 20-30 pounds.

But that's not the real issue. The real issue is the balance between the thought and expertise we're willing to pay for in an inspector and the common sense you expect from passengers. You *could* in theory pay enough (both in salary and delay) to hire inspectors with the training and education to make a determination whether a historical firearm presents a potential threat, or you can have a simple rule of "if it looks like it can shoot, you can't carry it on," and expect the public to figure out that they should ship their cannon rather than stuff it into their

Comment: Re:How about "no"? (Score 1) 323

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) 83

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) 153

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.

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal