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Comment Typical Republican one-sided morality (Score 1) 1005

What is it about republicans that makes them feel like it’s okay to commit any kind of crime, as long as it serves some other moral crusade they have?

Hacking is wrong and should be punished with jail time unless we’re doing it to attack the Democrats. Then it’s okay.

Lying is wrong and sinful except when creationists flat out lie to you about the evidence for evolution. Then it’s okay, because they’re on a mission to lead you to God by any means necessary, no matter how morally questionable those means would be under an other circumstances.

Comment Pill, patch, or anti-drug drug? (Score 2) 304

I think one of the things smokers find unsatisfying about things like using a nicotine patch is that they also develop a physical habit. It’s like taking a caffeine pill vs. having a cup of coffee. Sitting down with breakfast with a nice cup of coffee with cream and sugar, as with any kind of eating or drinking, causes a release of dopamine, which enhances the positive effects of the drug. Something similar happens with smoking, I assume.

If you’re actually trying to break the habit, e-cigs seem like a reasonable temporary solution, as you ease off your dosage. However, there may be other ways of doing this. For instance, you can get L-dopa (a precursor to dopamine) from Mucuna Pruriens, directly boosting your dopamine levels. Or you can take low-dose naltrexone (LDN). Naltrexone is a dopamine receptor antagonist. Large doses can be used to block the effects of addictive drugs, while low doses trigger the brain to compensate by increasing dopamine levels. You can also take tyrosine, which is a precursor to several neurotransmitters, including serotonin, norepinepherine, and dopamine.

None of them probably has quite the same emotional satisfaction that people get from the act of smoking, however.

Comment Why is the language such a big deal? (Score 1) 308

As someone who has written substantial code in enough languages that I’ve lost count, I am sortof (but not really) baffled by some people’s attitudes toward programming languages. Some are fiercely loyal to a particular language, willing to spent time bashing other languages, usually in ignorance of what people like about those other languages. Some people know only one language and live in fear for their lives that their one language will go out of style or they’ll have trouble finding work in that language. In early 2012, I didn’t know Java at all. When I found out that the language I needed to learn for a particular project was Java, I just learned it over about a month, although I did spend the next few months learning the finer points, more APIs, etc.

The reason I’m not really that baffled is that I’m this way when it comes to video games. About the only one I would ever play was Age of Empires (all versions). Recently, I’ve picked up Minecraft, but I don’t want to get completely sucked in because I have other things in my life I have to do. That being said, I’m not fiercely loyal to AoE. I just like it and played it enough to get good at. And as a life-long Lego fanatic, Minecraft appeals to me. I don’t live in fear that I won’t be able to play my favorite games.

Comment Apple doesn’t play catchup with Chrome (Score 1) 105

Safari and Chrome may have been derived from WebKit at one point. But they’ve since diverged quite a lot. Google Docs in particular caused severe memory leaks in WebKit. Those were fixed in Chrome, but Apple has never imported those fixes, so Safari web content processes will eventially eat all your memory if you leave Google Docs open for a long time.

Comment Not even released OS’s right away (Score 1) 151

Sometimes the shit doesn’t hit the fan until after the update is released into the wild. Every time a new Ubuntu or Mac OS X comes out, I read all about it and keep googling for problems that people report. After I see that most of the problems have died then, then I make off-schedule backups and then install the update.

Comment Like a tornado came through a messy child’s (Score 1) 326

My computer set up is a disheveled pile of books, monitors, laptops, opened mail, unopened mail, notepads, trash, and other assorted items. Sometimes I’m lucky to find my power adaptor and phone charging cable under the mess. I have a scanner under there somewhere, but I can’t find it. The only reason I can find my printer is because it’s down in the basement, although it too is piled up with printouts I haven’t organized yet (and probably never will).

Sometimes I wish my house were like a TARDIS inside. I could pick up the stuff I use and move to another room every time I crap up the one I’m using.

Don’t judge me. Your office is just as messy and you have fewer excuses.

Comment Re:Marriage (Score 1) 268

Religious fundamentalists are against gay marriage for the same reason that religious fundametalists believe in creationism. They interpret their holy book in some peculiar way, giving them a “truth” that is completely inconsistent with reality, and they insist on imposing that truth on you.

I saw this video where Kent Hovind and Hugh Ross argued over the age of the earth. Both are conservative Christians. Hovind insists on a literal interpretation of the Bible, while Ross is unwilling to deny solid evidence from astronomy and geology that the earth and the universe are very old. So Hovind calls Ross a HERETIC. For not denying objective evidence.

They believe that death didn’t enter the world until after sin, and sin didn’t happen until Adam and Eve, who lived about 6000 years ago. Therefore the earth CAN’T be billions of years old or else is violates a tennet of their beliefs about salvation.

The thing is, not everyone interprets the Bible in such a strictly literal way, allowing them the option to face reality. Creationists can’t do that.

So back to gay marriage, there are some Bible verses that they interpret as being anti-gay. SOME of them may have been and may have made some limited sense (to them at least) at a time when human populations were very small. Others are not clearly about homosexuality but instead seem to refer to other "perversions," like pagan fertility rites. Out of ignorance both of the scriptual meaning and its historical context, they insist on less-than-clear-cut interpretations of the Bible and declare homosexuality to be a sin.

Therefore they CANNOT accept an enlightened modern perspective on sexuality.

Christians worry about the erosion of Christianity. It’s rigid thinking like this that is the cause of Christianity’s own undoing.

Comment How, with such crappy diet and pollution? (Score 3, Insightful) 321

At the same time, we’re eating a really horrible nutrient-poor diet made up of industrial foods designed to make us want to eat more industrial foods. Plus we’ve got massive amounts of pollution from burning petrolium, hormones in the ground water, antibiotics in our foods, PBA from our food containers, and all manner of other junk ruining our health. Some people are still stuck on this bogus idea that autism is caused by vaccines, while they continue to eat a horrible diet and pollute their bodies in other ways that are much more likely to account for this measurable increase in the rate of autism (not quite explained by just an increased rate of diagnosis).

This brings up an idea that my wife pointed out. In recent history, there has been an increase in the rate of transgendered individuals. This has resulted in political polarization, where some people are demonizing them and others are saying that body dismorphic disorder is somehow a good thing. Both are wrong. People with body dismorphic disorder have every right to their dignity and to manage and adjust their bodies as they see fit. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t an external cause, and we think a major factor is all of these hormines being pumped into the water supply. Lots of women take birth control pills, which is putting estrogen and progesterone into the water, and hormones are given to food animals. These are having an impact on development in fetuses and young children. So the next time some fundamnetalist asshole tries to tell you that there’s something BAD about people who have gender identiy issues, you can point out to them that we, as a society, did this to them. It’s our fault for poisoning the water and food. And the consequences are that more people with gender identity issues, and this is something we have to accept, and we have to treat these people like human beings and stop trying to put forth the idea that these people are crazy or making immoral choices.

Comment Re: Stop with the binary sexuality (Score 1) 354

You too are caught in the same binary thinking. The whole point of not putting yourself into a box is that you should feel free to be attracted to whomever. If you’re only attracted to males or only females, that’s fine. If you’re attracted to both, that’s fine too. What if you’re attracted to lots of females but only the occasional man? That’s fine too. This is about FREEDOM by eliminating the boxes. It’s about freedom to not be judged, freedom to make your own choices.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that there’s a genetic bias for humans to be mostly straight. What I’m trying to say is that in the future I hope it’s not considered weird for a person to have any mix of genders in sexual partners. 50/50? 90/10? 100/0? All fine. All not weird. We need to eliminate these boxes that force us into artificial categories.

Comment Stop with the binary sexuality (Score 0) 354

Today’s binary sexuality is a cultural artifact. People are really on a spectrum. “Most people” are straight because they’re somewhere closer to the middle and therefore trainable to be straight. The people who are so gay or so straight innately that they can’t be trained are relatively rare (in the 10% range on either end).

Jack Harkness is more along the lines of what I’d expect in the distant future, where sexual roles and orientations are more fluid. In the future, people will think it’s really quaint how we used to have these boxes we were supposed to put ourselves in. Such limited thinking.

(BTW, one thing that bothered me (and apparetly also John Barrowman) about the last season of Torchwood is that Jack was only ever in sex scenes with men. If he’s supposed to be omnisexual, why not mix it up? That bartender he hooked up with was pretty good looking, but I wasn’t enthralled by that Italian guy. Having him also hook up with a woman would have been really hot.)

Comment Google’s interview process sucks, period. (Score 1) 144

In 2013, I got called by Google out of the blue to go on-site to their NYC location, just after I’d turned 40. Note that I had gotten my PhD in 2012 and was working as a CS professor when they called me. They insisted that I was so awesome that they skipped me right past the phone technical interview directly to an on-site interview, because they really wanted me right away. Oddly, although I’d made it clear that my strongest skills were in computer architecture and circuit design, they insisted on interviewing me for a software engineering positon (which I had done for many years prior to grad school, so I was not totally unreasonable). I’d also told them that my “superpower” was debugging, but they never tested me on that. The interview went reasonably well anyway, although the whole process was totally dehumanizing, with it being obvious that I was going to be judged by what 5 engineers wrote down about me on a single sheet of paper.

About a month later, I got the rejection call. The two reasons I recall being given were (1) something about not fitting with the culture, and (2) they felt that I had jumped around too much in jobs. The first one other people told me was code for “too old.” The second one made no sense since it was clear from my CV that I’d only ever had two real jobs, one before grad school and one after, plus a couple of short internships during grad school.

My suspicion, however, is that the ageism at Google is indirect and a side-effect of other practices. Despite the fact that outsiders all think that Google practices ageism, it’ll come as a shock to many people AT Google when they are judged to having practiced systematic ageism. They’ll do an internal review trying to figure out who is turing down people for their age, and they’ll come up empty, because none of the interviewers or hiring committees actually try to figure out anyone’s age. There are several factors that contribute to virtual ageism. These include the current state of CS education relative to what was taught 10 years earlier and a somewhat more systematic and less distractable mentality that sets in as people mature. I’m actually MORE effective as an engineer than I was 10 years ago due to accumulated skills, but I'm less easily diverted from the tasks at hand, which some people may interpret as being less creative (until they get me on topics outside of focused engineering problem solving). In other words, as engineer age, they continue to improve in their effectiveness, but aspects of their personalities (such as focus and less externally visible intuitive processes) naturally mature such that they behave less “Googly,” where “Googly" effectively means “having mad skills at CS theory and coding but also having not compensated quite as much for some of the ADHD traits that a lot of engineers possess."

I often ask myself whether or not I would have taken the offer. I like my current job a LOT, but the pay sucks. I gets better after tenure, but at my age with small children and medical expenses outside of what they insurance will pay for, I have to consult on the side to make ends meet. This is the main reason I took the Google interview seriously. Even if there’s a 75% chance I wouldn’t have taken the offer, there was all that build up of them talking me into going on the interview, followed by the whole dehumanizing interview, and the bizarre rejection. That makes me angry.

Today, when my day job as a professor doesn’t make enough money, I make $200+/hour as an expert witness and $150/hour as a software/hardware engineering consultant. I could work part time telecommuting and still make more money than I could ever get at Google, especially when you account for the cost of living in NYC. Google’s loss.

Comment Consumers should be informed. Period. (Score 1) 470

I don’t care how stupid you think the general public is. Food sensitivities are a serious health concerned for a sizable portion of the population. They need to be able to reliably determine what is in their food without fear of cross-contamination and hidden gochas. I believe that this right to know extends to GMO foods on principle.

There’s also a selfish aspect to this. My wife is allergic to corn (either that or one of the molds that commonly grows on corn). Most corn products are NOT LISTED as being corn products in most processed foods. So far, the most reliable way she has to avoid corn is to avoid GMO foods because the number 1 genetically modified food is corn.

Comment Re:UPS is union and they need to sue to recover th (Score 1) 202

I have the opposite problem. The people at the local Kinkos/Fedex have terrible customer service. You walk in when the place is completely empty and still wait 10 minutes for help. When you’re going to ship a package, they always try to sell you in the most expensive option. When the place has a few people waiting, they take customers out of order. If you didn’t box something yourself, they charge an enormous amount of money for packaging, and anything not FedEx-related is also enormously expensive. I dread going in there.

On the other hand, the local UPS office is run by nice people who are very efficient. All they do is shipping, but that’s usually all I need. They respond instantly to customers coming in, customers get handled quickly, and they make you feel like you actually matter as a customer.

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