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Comment Re:16:9? (Score 1) 173

I'm not the only one who does this?! It's great when I have a document to read while making a presentation (among other potential task combinations).

OT side-note: I like to use my background to cycle through family photographs. The problem with our setup is that it makes it hard to do that (at least on Windows). If you set "Picture position" to tile, you can do it. But depending on how you set up your screen alignment, you have to mess with the way the pictures are arranged in the background. For instance, I have the screens bottom-aligned, so my background photo on the portrait is split so that the top X pixels of the photo are on the bottom-right of the background jpg.

Comment Re:Scouting and shyness (Score 1) 307

I think my figure of speech is a little off. Almost sounds like I'm extracting escargot or mussels. There's nothing wrong with staying in your shell. But it can deprive your team/class members of valuable insight that they might not even know they needed. The goal isn't to change kids into extroverts, but to make them feel OK to communicate with others when it might be helpful.

With this particular kid, it was more about getting the other kids to be quiet long enough to give the Tiger a chance to speak. Sometimes a simple verbal cue like "what do you think?" is all it takes, but sometimes you have to spend time laying the groundwork: building an open environment, making sure you are communicating at their level, sometimes finding a kid with similar interest and pairing them up for a while.

I'm no expert, both of my kids are extroverts. But my mom was an educator, and I learned a lot from how she would deal with kids in group settings. It's far too easy for a lazy leader to only engage with the people constantly opening their mouths. But they can miss out on a lot of valuable insight if they ignore the quieter members of their group.

One last thing, and it's a little off topic, but you really got me thinking. When you say "it might be fun," you are meaning that even though you are not in the mood to talk, you still don't mind being talked to. Am I reading that right? That is really interesting. I had no idea that it didn't have to be a two-way street. I know for me, if I'm not in the mood to jibber-jabber, I'm not in the mood for somebody else's jibber-jabber either. It never even occurred to me that there would be people who like being talked to without any desire to say anything back. That's a real mind-opener. But it makes sense, right? I mean there are people who just like to talk, and don't care to listen. So it would make sense that there are people who honestly just like to listen. Man... Thanks for that!!

Comment Scouting and shyness (Score 1) 307

As an assistant cubmaster, I get to work with a lot of kids. And sometimes it really is hard to pull the introverts out of their shells. You know, the kids who are only at the meetings because their dads want them to be a scout. Here's the thing with those kids, when they finally do say something, they can say something that cuts to the heart of the conversation. Sometimes I think they're the only ones who really know how to listen.

Going over scout oath/law. What is brave? All the extroverts had typical boy answers: being really strong, not being afraid of anything, that sort of thing. I asked the new shy Tiger Cub. His answer was "Do something good, even if you're not sure that you can do it." I almost wanted to cry. Same kid gave the only good explanation of "mentally awake."

Here's the important thing. You need people like that on every team. My old boss was one of those guys. He'd sit in the corner of the meeting room. And just as everybody was arguing about tangential technical issues, he would pipe up. By this time we all knew to STFU and listen to him. Without fail he would have some essential distillation of the problem. Some nugget of insight that allowed everybody to refocus on the actual problem, instead of our individual stakes.

We need to cultivate these kids, allow them to be still and quiet and ponder. But we also need to encourage them to participate in group activities. Most importantly, they need an open, safe climate in the classroom where they feel like they can express themselves when the time comes.

Comment Re:Nail everyone? (Score 1) 618

Speaking as a registered PE, I can tell you that you couldn't pay me any amount of money just to stamp a drawing. It doesn't work that way. If I wasn't at least tangentially associated with every aspect of the design of the thing, my stamp is staying in its pouch. I have told the president of my company to take a flying leap on one occasion because of this. And you know what his response was? He apologized for not realizing that wasn't how PE stamps work.

That being said, I don't think you have to be a registered PE to design automobiles.

Comment Re:Nail everyone? (Score 2) 618

As an American who has worked for two different large corporations, I am surprised by this sentiment. I once got an order to do something I felt was unethical from my dotted-line boss. I sent a note to my boss immediately and his response was, literally, "If you do that, I will fire you." There was no pressure to do anything that even remotely seemed like a Bad Thing (TM).

Now that I'm a little higher up the food chain, I get the occasional request for my team to do stuff that's not in keeping with ethical or safety standards. I tell them the reasoning behind my refusal to comply, and the most frequent response is "Oh gee! I hadn't even looked at it like that, I'm sorry for putting you in the position to have to tell me no." Then we either find a safe or ethical way to do it, or we don't do it. Period.

Comment Re:Nail everyone? (Score 4, Insightful) 618

That's ridiculous. There are valid reasons for the code to have different operating modes. It is not inherently unethical to make software behave differently under different operating conditions.

Think about it, VW sells cars in multiple jurisdictions. They need to have different emission mitigation regimes for each of them. It's possible that the flags for the operating conditions just got screwed up. If they use the same shop/lab model to pass EU and USA testing, there must be a switch in there for "Detected_testing_regime == EPA." And they might have intended to turn on the same controls when "vehicle_sold_to == USA," but the guy responsible for that code screwed something up.

Even if it were an intentional deception, it would be trivial for management to divvy up the workload such that the individual programmers had no idea. "Jan, we need you to make a module that detects the following operating conditions and pass this parameter to the emissions controller, mm-kay?" or "Hans, when you see the disable_emission_control_for_emergency_use, make sure that the car switches to the high_power curve."

We really don't know. Until the results of the investigation are made public, and they are found guilty of wrong-doing, they are innocent. Is the legal equivalent of "assume good faith."

Comment Re:Companies founded by socialists... (Score 1) 411

Nice trolling. I love it when people call the Nazi's socialists, just because it was in the name of their political party. North Korea is nominally a democratic republic, but you don't hear people calling it a democracy. Nazis were pretty anti-socialism; they were responsible for the dissolution of several socialists parties and labor organizations in the 30s. Just ask any of the socialist dissidents that they rounded up. Oh wait, you can't because they were all murdered.

Comment Re:Shit. (Score 1) 411

Sounds to me like we're doing it wrong. I would think measuring pollution per distance makes a hell of a lot more sense. I wonder how that pans out. If I am putting out less emissions per gallon but using more gallons per mile, my total emissions for the trip it could go either way. I wonder if this isn't anything nefarious, but rather VW made a decision that the poor stupid Americans just didn't know WTF they were asking for. Has anybody seen the raw data? Is it possible that the changes actually give enough fuel efficiency gain that the total emissions per mile are actually better by "cheating"?

Comment Re:Don't take yours in. (Score 1) 411

Does anybody actually "like" those things? I've never understood either.

Every hotel I stayed at in Azerbaijan had dual-flow toilets with two different flush buttons. Why are they almost unheard of in the states? My problem with low-flow toilets is that if you don't flush about halfway through doing our business, the damn thing clogs up. So you don't really end up saving water. With the industrial-strength ones in public restrooms (that make that satisfying whooshing sound), you could probably flush a small rhinoceros down there without so much as a hiccup.

Same problem with low-flow shower heads. If my wife takes three times as long to rinse out her hair, but the flow rate is only reduced by half, I'm still using more water. I know some people who really like to conserve will turn off the water when they lather up. That's dedication right there. I tried for like a week to do that. It's just not for me.

Comment Re:No one ever thought it was an actual bomb (Score 1) 662

None of which required that he be handcuffed, fingerprinted, suspended... etc... etc...

The police were called, and they are compelled and required to investigate once called. They don't just show up and say, "Eh, whatever," and leave. I don't think they police should have been called at all, but they were. And during the course of their investigation, they choose to transport him for questioning, and handcuffs are, rightly or wrongly, standard procedure nearly any time anyone is detained or transported for any reason, even if they didn't do anything wrong.

The issue isn't whether they thought it was a bomb or not - the issue is their overreaction and it's racist overtones.

The issue is exactly that. Even if race or religion was on the mind of one or more of the people involved, you can't know that. People are using the fact this happened to him and "wouldn't happen if he was white" as proof that it has to be racism. But white kids are arrested and suspended for similarly innocent, or even more innocent, things all the time. That fact alone dismantles the position that "because this happened, it must have had a racial element." It MAY indeed have had a racial element, but the facts of the situation aren't what demonstrates that. That would be only in peoples' minds.

(As for one of the cops ALLEGEDLY saying "it's who I thought it would be", we have no way of knowing 1. whether that was even actually said, or 2. IF it was said, whether it referred to Ahmed personally (i.e., did he have any brushes before because of his interests), or because he was "brown" and Muslim -- the conclusion that everyone who desperately wants to attribute this to racism wants to rush to. And, on that point, if that was the motivation, wouldn't that cop have already felt that upon seeing his name was "Ahmed Mohamed", instead of making an allegedly racist remark right to his face, and only upon seeing him? In short, that allegation doesn't stand up to scrutiny as definitive proof that there was anything racial involved on the part of police in this case, either.)

I am ignoring the rest of your fallacious attacks that don't speak to the facts of the situation, which I have shown that you have ignored. You're the corrosive one, here, because you have already decided that this simply must be racism when the facts and evidence don't support that conclusion, and ignore all other considerations.

Comment No one ever thought it was an actual bomb (Score 4, Informative) 662

TL;DR: No one ever thought it was an actual bomb.

Long version:

Since no one ever actually thought it was a bomb, the fact that the school and police took no action as if it were a bomb does not somehow "prove" it's racism and/or Islamophobia. That isn't to say one or more of the people involved had something in that vein in their minds, but their lack of treating it as a bomb doesn't demonstrate it, since numerous accounts of this story indicate the school and police never thought it was an actual bomb.

Some people thought it "looked like" a bomb, and wondered why he would bring it to school, because they don't understand why kids who like things like science and electronics do what they do.

And there are laws dealing with what are called "hoax devices". Many people have gotten into trouble for such things before. Hoax device statutes have been around for many, many years, long before 9/11.

Here is the Texas statute:


The only thing that matters in the hoax device statute is intent â" a feature that is not unique. For example, intent matters when someone is killed. Was it an accident? Was it negligence? Was it premeditated? That is the difference between someone having done nothing wrong, and murder. And it is interviews and investigations and evidence that determine intent.

Even in the original Dallas Morning News article that broke this story â" before it went viral and Ahmed got invited to the White House, JPL, MIT, got scholarships, and become the hero of Silicon Valley â" the only thing the police officials said was that they knew it wasn't a bomb, that Ahmed never claimed it was anything but a clock, and that they were trying to determine WHY he built and AND brought it to school. Once it was determined there was no intent to alarm, scare, or deceive, it was further determined there was no wrongdoing.

Steve Wozniak got in trouble for using a hoax device (with intent to scare), and was arrested and spent a night in jail. I got in trouble with authority figures â" school, police â" for things similar to what Ahmed did several times, when doing nothing wrong. Maybe a little borderline, maybe a little, "What on earth are you doing?" but not illegal. And frankly, some of those came down only to intent as well.

So this little trope misunderstands what happened. Could racism or Islamophobia been an element in anyone's mind? There is no way to know, as much as people desperately want to come to that conclusion. When people say, "What white kid would have gotten in trouble for doing nothing wrong?"

Plenty. Ignore the title, read the article (for those who haven't already):


His English teacher overreacted by getting the principal's office involved. The school overreacted by calling the police. The school bears almost all of the responsibility here â" not "post-9/11 America", racism, or police. If the police had not been called, none of this would ever have happened â" and Ahmed wouldn't be a celebrity, either.

When police are called for a situation where any of the parties involved are not in perfect agreement, and there is no controversy, even if nothing illegal occurred, I would submit that there are not many times that results in a more positive outcome. The police are there, in part, to investigate and to determine if there was any wrongdoing, which they did. I wish they would have simply handled it at the school, but what I really wish is that the school would not have called the police in the first place.

Comment Re:I wonder if they're going to use this as "proof (Score 1) 657

Ah... so it wasn't a bomb but a trigger. Looking at it from your perspective, I guess we should be glad they didn't call in Jack Bauer to torture the kid to find out where he hid the explosives. So in that case, Irving ISD and police did an outstanding job practicing restraint and common sense. Well done!!

Comment Re:I wonder if they're going to use this as "proof (Score 1) 657

The point is that, statistically speaking, there has been no discernible uptick in killings of police. 2014 was double 2013, but 2013 was the lowest EVER on record. In fact, depending on whose statistics you use, 2014 was lower than 2012. There is no war on cops.

The opposite is also true. There is no war on black people either. At least not in the sense of an increase of killings of unarmed black men. On the other hand, society hasn't systematically disadvantaged police for centuries and written drug laws that specifically target them for disproportionately higher minimum jail sentences. So it's kind of hard to compare.

Logic doesn't apply to the real world. -- Marvin Minsky