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Comment The over/under on Rachel (Score 1) 109

We moved last year.
We considered not getting a land line in our new location, but my wife wouldn't go for it.

The phone guy comes; installs the line; we have dial tone and a new phone number.
I asked my wife for an over/under on how long until Rachel from card member services calls.
It was two hours.

Comment I always press "1" (Score 1) 109

I always press "1" to talk to a customer service representative.
I always talk to their robots.
I do whatever it takes to get through to a human.
Then I put down the phone and wait for them to hang up.
(I don't want to talk to them.)

My goal is to cost them something.
If I hang up on their machine, then they win.
They've gotten me to spend my time pre-qualifying their leads, and it hasn't cost them anything.
If I get them to come on the line, then I've imposed some cost on them, as well.

Doing this gives me some feeling (illusion?) of control over the situation,
which turns out to be more important to me than the actual time involved.

Comment Old trade show trick (Score 3, Informative) 142

on its return, it ended up on a plane to Havana

Show is over.
Everybody is tearing down and packing up; there is equipment and boxes everywhere; everyone wants to get home; no one is paying attention.
Wander by a stack of your competitor's boxes, slap your shipping label on top of theirs; wander off.
A week later you have their box on your loading dock.
Reverse-engineer at your leisure.
When you are done, call them up, tell them one of their boxes got misdirected, and where would they like it shipped to?

Comment WTF? (Score 1) 33

This seems senseless. What's in it for Oracle to leave ancient versions of Java lying around? Was it just they couldn't be bothered to remove them?

Are there technical obstacles to removing them? And if so, why not tell the user to remove them manually? It's just another line of boiler plate that no one will read or pay attention to, but then it's the user's problem, not Oracle's. Isn't that what TOS are for? To make everything the user's problem?

Comment A comic book on the big screen (Score 1) 400

When I saw the original Star Wars, it was an epic.

When I saw The Empire Strikes Back a few years later, it seemed...smaller. The plot had become parochial; the relationship between Han and Leia had degenerated to bickering. The cognitive dissonance resolved when I realized that I wasn't watching an epic: I was watching a comic book on the big screen.

Comment A movie with sets (Score 1) 400

Lucas gave an interview once where he explained his original motivation for making Star Wars: he wanted to make a movie with sets. The old-fashioned, Hollywood studio way. (Unlike, say American Graffiti, which was shot on location.) When you watch Star Wars, feel like you are on alien worlds, and space ships, and in outer space. But for the filmmaker, the whole thing was done on studio lots, with painted sets and props.

I rewatched the move some years later, and it really struck me how easy it was to visualize the scenes being shot on the stage of my high-school auditorium.

Comment Telomeres (Score 2) 385

From Wikipedia

A telomere is a region of repetitive nucleotide sequences at each end of a chromosome, which protects the end of the chromosome from deterioration or from fusion with neighboring chromosomes.

During chromosome replication, the enzymes that duplicate DNA cannot continue their duplication all the way to the end of a chromosome, so in each duplication the end of the chromosome is shortened. The telomeres are disposable buffers at the ends of chromosomes which are truncated during cell division; their presence protects the genes before them on the chromosome from being truncated instead.

Over time, due to each cell division, the telomere ends become shorter.

Cells in the germ line (sperm and ova) have an enzyme called telomerase.

Telomerase lengthens telomeres in DNA strands, thereby allowing senescent cells that would otherwise become postmitotic and undergo apoptosis to exceed the Hayflick limit and become potentially immortal, as is often the case with cancerous cells.

(emphasis added)

When cells run out of telomere, they stop dividing. When the body can't make new cells, it ages and dies. If you want to not age, you have to get your somatic cells to produce telomerase. But then, cancer...

Bacteria avoid this whole problem by having circular chromosomes. No ends, no telomeres, no telomerase. And bacteria know...kind of immortal. They just grow and divide, grow and divide, worlds without end.

Comment The right job for the tool (Score 2) 159

So I just...uhhh...happened to be on this site called imagefap.
They have a banner on their front page advertising for PHP devs.
And I couldn't help thinking that someone has finally found an appropriate use for PHP...

Comment James Bond physics (Score 4, Interesting) 211

Heh. My brother and I grew up watching James Bond movies. And obviously, these movies are entertainment and fantasy, not documentary and physics lectures. We all knew that. We all accepted that. But one day my bother went to see a James Bond movie, and he came home positively spitting nails.

It was the the movie where there is a chase scene on skis, so Bond skis down a mountain, and the bottom of the mountain delivers him to the roof of a chalet, and he skis down the roof, and off the edge, and lands on a picnic table, and skis across the table and then keeps on going. And when I say "picnic table", I don't mean a deserted, snow-covered table. The table was laid with a table-cloth and a picnic and people sitting all around. (I don't recall if Bond came off of it with a dinner roll stuffed in his mouth, like a Loony-Toons character).

Anyway. The problem was that my bother skied. And he knew, from painful, first-hand experience, that if you are skiing down a mountain, and you hit just the tiniest bare spot--just the tiniest patch of dirt or rock--it feels like your ski has been grabbed by a bear trap, and you're lucky if you don't tumble right there. Skiing across a picnic table isn't a skill, or a stunt--it's just flat impossible.

Bond movies are unrealistic, yes, but this one was unrealistic in a way that he couldn't accept. And it killed the movie for him.

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