Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×
User Journal

Journal Journal: I'm back, and I'm single.

It's been such a long time...

Now, I am finally divorced. What a relief!

I still have four kids, a house, a cat and three ducks to keep me busy but at last... at long last... I'm free. :-)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Constant Companion

Some people claim that religion is valuable, having been the constant companion of the human race since its beginning.

Should we likewise value lice?

User Journal

Journal Journal: I want a funny hat! 1

Some religions require adherents to wear funny hats. Yamulka's, turbans, burkhas, scarf-thingies, or whatever.

I don't believe in any supernatural mumbo-jumbo nor follow any "faith" but they say that atheism is a "religion". Why don't atheists wear funny hats?

Oh, and while I'm at it... I want to get some medication for my condition. I don't have any illness or disease that I'm aware of, so they say I'm "healthy".

If atheism is a religion, then "healthy" must be a disease. What would be the proper medicine to cure my health?

User Journal

Journal Journal: We need a better word. 2

I want to convey it with a single word that I'm a rational person who values the understanding of objective reality rather than superstitious nonsense. Ideally, it would fit in the slot normally reserved for "religion" on surveys, military dog-tags and such.

"Atheism" is too reactive. As Richard Dawkins points out, practically everyone is an "a-Thor-ist" or an "a-FlyingSpaghettiMonster-ist". One shouldn't have to specify every possible type of nonsense which one does not believe. Atheism has such a bad public image too. It's been associated with Communism, Stalin, Hitler, etc. I'd rather have a word which is so obviously sensible that vilifying it would be next to impossible.

"Skepticism" is closer, but similarly reactive and negative. The skeptics of ancient Greece were not socially acceptable.

"Naturalism" (as opposed to supernaturalism) might have worked if there weren't already so many different meanings for the word. In many languages other than English, a literal translation would mean the same as "nudism". Not very respectable.

"Realism", "rationalism", and "materialism" also suffer from semantic overload, mostly from the liberal arts camp.

I'm thinking that the Greek and the Latin may already have run out of good root words for us to re-use for this purpose. What do other languages have in their stock to describe someone who eschews nonsense and laughs at superstition?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Not quite what I was hoping for...

Well, I finally heard from someone who claims to be an Iraqi and who wants to correspond with me.

He says he used to be an accountant for an oil company and that there is a $45.5M transaction which was made during turbulent times and which he would like to share with me in exchange for my simply allowing it to be deposited in my name. ...Yep, the Nigerian bank scam has been dressed up in middle-eastern garb.

Funny how this supposed Iraqi is so fluent in English and yet he's using a free e-mail address in Poland. Hmmm... I know some folks on that service. I wonder if it's a friend of mine playing a prank?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Looking for a native Iraqi pen-pal

I had no idea it would be difficult to find a native Iraqi who might want to exchange letters and/or e-mail.

I searched on the web, but all I could find was a bunch of places to get in touch with US military personnel stationed in Iraq. There seemed to be some in a "Language Exchange" site, but I'm not part of an Arabic study group so I'm not eligible for that. Certainly, I thought, there would be someone who would want to practice their English... although I guess they could do that with those soldiers.

What about Esperanto?!? Nope. As it turns out, there are Esperanto "Delegates" in lots of countries... a bunch in Iran, for example... but none in Iraq. Evidently, the former government actively supressed Esperanto in a way similar to other dictatorships which didn't want their people to be too friendly with other countries.

I've had enough of the lies and accusations of lies from politicians and news agencies. I want to know what's going on in Iraq from an Iraqi's point of view. Hey, I know they probably won't have a lot of accurate information either, but if countries are going to get along (as they say we will with the new Iraq, soon), then the people ought to get to know each other.

So I'd like to correspond with a native Iraqi, living in Iraq now. Preferably in Esperanto.

Anyone know how to find such a contact?

User Journal

Journal Journal: The urge to blog

What makes us want to write in the journal, or to 'blog'? Probably the vain hope that we're not so boring and/or irrelevant that none of the other six billion inhabitants of this planet would care to read about us, eh?
User Journal

Journal Journal: Estas tempoj...

Estas tempoj,
kiam mi volas paroli
sed ne por komprenitigxi.

Cxi tio estas unu vojo por esprimi min mem nur al tiuj, kiuj eble povas kompreni min. Tro malmulte, tiuj estas.

Kiam mi estas laca, sendorminta, kaj la luno plenas, tiam mi malsatas... profunde malsatas. Pro kio?

User Journal

Journal Journal: War Against Evil and Terror? 3

Yet another Miller maxim:

War against evil is
like gasoline against fire.

I consider myself a truly patriotic American, who is also interested in making the world a better place. This is exactly why I don't support continued US military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. It seems to me that evil and terror are not decreased by shooting at people in their own country, picking them off one and two at a time with spyplane-launched missiles at night as they come out of church, nor hurting their children who can't help but be in the way.

President George W. Bush has been driving the United States of America to "war-on-" something ever since he got started. Drugs, crime, poverty, Osama Bin Laden, Terror, Iraq, Evil... but you'll notice that he never seems to want to do away with war itself.

Stop the terror?
Stop the evil?
Stop the war.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Why's it always gotta be so complicated?

I came up with a new "complexity theorem" the other day, so I'm putting it in my Slashdot journal where pretty much nobody will likely ever read it.

Everything will be complex in proportion to its perceived importance. Real complexity which is deemed unimportant will be perceived through simplifications (if at all) and things which are considered important will be burdened with minutiae and arbitrary garbage.

Why? Two reasons. First, simply because they will tolerate difficulties in whatever is important to them. Second, because the tolerance for complexity in general is a handy way for people to measure each other's brains. Thus, it has an out-of-band use.

Having recently acquired some basic proficiency in Esperanto, I can see this arbitrary complexity in languages very plainly. There's no need for verbs to conjugate differently, nor for irregular forms. One can't blame it all on the mixing and development of language because some complex archaic forms have been dropped for simpler modern forms. Take for example how the word "you" has usurped the second person singular in both nominative and accusative cases which used to be "thou" and "thee". In some locales, it has made a complete migration into the singular, being replaced by the incorrect "yous" for the plural. But that makes sense in a way, so it has been officially rejected. Even in Esperanto one sees the influence of this effect as the number of de-facto exceptions increases in a language which some claim (falsely) has no exceptions to its sixteen basic rules.

One ever-apparent example of the constant push toward lingual complexity is generation-specific slang. Just think, for example, how many different words you can remember having been used to indicate the simple concepts of the adjective "good" and the noun "excrement", and how they've kept coming and going (puns not originally intended) over time.

And how with graphical user interface (GUI) design? Same thing. The programmer thinks that their software is the most important thing, so it ends up complex. The user doesn't care about the programmer though, and ends up resenting the tedium of searching through arbitrary lists, menus and screens just to find where to "click" to accomplish a task which they already understand in concept.

What I get out of this is an understanding that I should strive to reduce the complexity of the user interfaces which I create. I need to be humble about my role, and the role of my work, and allow the user to perceive complexity through the interface rather than in it.

Slashdot Top Deals

"Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world." - The Beach Boys