How exactly does longterm digital storage work? I assume that hardware can't just sit around for decades without little mutations sneaking into the code, but perhaps you can see I have no fucking clue. I always had the same question about old movies - you can make a copy of something, but after 50 years, there's a total of 50 years worth of wear and tear on every lineage of a video. You accumulate wear and tear unless you repair it.
I know an undergraduate's amount of coding theory, enough to get that you can repair codes if people are smart. Do storage companies regularly sweep their servers and repair codes? Is my LiveJournal account going to accumulate bugs over decades? Who pays attention to this stuff and how good a job do they do?
Also: all but two students turned in their final exams within 1 1/2 hours. I made it a short final. And yet these remaining two (good) students are going to stare at their final until all three hours are up. I see you. I see that you're not writing. Just sort of rereading what you've already written and staring at it. GO HOME.
My brother was inspired by my recent property purchase, and went ahead and bought what he always dreamed of: 100 acres in West Virginia. It's actually within the Monongahela National Forest (dipping in like a little peninsula), so the mountaintops around him will presumably not be removed. It has all the things you'd want, like an upper meadow, and a stream with a waterfall, and stuff like that. It has all the materials to build a cabin, all taken from the site, but nothing but a camper to live in now. I kind of think he's going to pull some Amish barn raising shit and just build it with some competent friends, but probably someone who really knows what the fuck they are doing will get involved at some point. This is our family redoubt after the zombie apocalypse, and after rising sea levels have eaten our other properties. And also just because it'll be cool to have a family compound. My mom's going to build a replica of our grandmother's cottage in Wainscott; awesome!!
So, I was thinking, what should I get him for Christmas that would be cabin-building related? I had some antique draftsman tools at the store, but they sold. But just today I thought, duh, I should get him a shotgun! That's practically mandatory if you stay in a cabin in West Virginia, I think. They may even issue them when you cross state lines. IIRC he only has a couple of handguns and a crappy SKS-type assault rifle. (Almost all our good guns got confiscated by the police in 1995; it's a long story.) So not sufficient. I imagine he will shoot at deer during hunting season, because, why the fuck wouldn't he? He can have a chest freezer full of venison mmmmmm. But he'll also need to shoot home intruders/zombies. What should I get him? I don't want some lame Russian shit. I see some sweet Browning over and unders with walnut stocks and all, but I don't want to drop 2K on the lad, and they seem kind of strange and over-engineered. Pretend it's you opening that thrilling box on Xmas, what would you want, people? I guess I have to use a straw buyer since I can't go there, but I'll just make my sister do it. Wait, how do you give people guns anyway? Does he have to write the ATF a thank-you note?
I was just recalling fondly the time we USians were going to switch to the metric system. I was in, what, second grade? That sure didn't work.
I also feel like we've had this thread already. Well. Oh, well.
Looking for news about Syria, I learned that the current president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, had been a leftist radical as a student and had been tortured by the dictatorship's secret police when she was 19. There is a great photo with military judges hiding their faces. Will this appear in any US newspaper?
Here's the link that told me about it.Here's the most prominent english-language press link that I found by googling Dilma Rousseff Tribunal 1970. That's right, a trade journal for meatpackers who care about South America because of Argentine beef exports.
Media bias, solipsism, South America's dictatorships are water under the bridge, discuss.
I'm sure that posting xkcd is worse than using analogies involving emoticons while calling yourself "lurker", but this is exactly right.
Plus it turns out small children love the damn songs.
It has always been my sense that Warren Zevon enjoys greater (and thus more just) popularity among people like ourselves who "dork around on the loserweb" all the time than among normal people. He gets love from libertarians, from Lawyers Guns and Money--I just feel like his online presence is greater than his offline one. I listened to all those songs off the second and third album as a kid, so many times, at our house on the river, with each new joint reanimating a smell of weed that has sunk into the bones of the house. The new joint smells good, like a high hat of the killer kind, but there's a bass note of the 3,000 other joints smoked in the same place before it, mingled with the salt air and the smell of the marsh, that nothing compares to, while "Mohammed's Radio" kicks your ass. And then The French Inhaler comes on...
You try to imagine getting Stevie Nicks to sing backup on that song: "where will you go, with your scarves and your miracles? Who's going to know who you are? Drugs and wine and flattering light, you must try it again till you get it right. Maybe you'll end up with someone different every night." Lindsay Buckingham up in there, one of the greatest rock songs of all time. Fact.
I tried pot when I was 9, I remember, at my best friend's house, just stealing roaches from the ashtray, but it never really did anything for me till I was older, like 11 or 12. I smoked anyway, sporadically, just because, but there was nothing much till one day I burned one and was like ooooh, fuuuuuuck, it's like that now. Fuck, and now it's now, again. My older daughter is 10. If she were smoking weed I would freak the fuck out. I over-protected them, I think understandably, but she's afraid to turn on the gas burners of the stove. She doesn't even know how to use a lighter!? You know what? Great. I think that's great. As long as she doesn't trust policemen.
My college roommate, mentioned here previously as Dr. Germ, turned the kids on to Khan Academy. Newt got interested, which means that now I have to explain organic chemistry over breakfast. I never liked organic chemistry -- one breakfast conversation with a fifth-grader, and we've gone through pretty much everything I know (you try and explain why C4H12, with the carbons in a tetrahedron, doesn't work. At least I'm pretty sure it doesn't work). Couldn't they have stayed focused on math and physics? On those I could have stayed ahead through high school, pretty much.
Seriously, it does seem like a great site for curious kids. I don't know if there's any good information about what unsupervised kids get out of it, but it certainly can't do any harm.
Via the magic of the internet, I see that a friend recently moved to Bay Area. Moreover, I see that bikes seem to be easy to take on the Caltrain. I would love to have public transportation that's more bike-friendly.
I've never taken a bike on any sort of public transportation (NYC Subway, DC Metro, the buses here), mostly out of the fear that the setup makes it such that you're annoying the other passengers and/or slowing down the bus (because it has to wait longer while the bike rider folds down this gate on the front and loads up the bike, sometimes needing the help of the driver).
I suppose I could get over it. The fear, I mean. Or buy a jetpack.
This is circulating: how to cement your own romantic rejection.
Is Mike scary, funny, or a guy with Asperger's?
How long can it possibly take to adjust to a time zone change? An annoying story that I recently
lived through heard hinged on someone taking over a week to adjust to a California-New York jet lag, and then over another week to adjust once they got back home. Maybe I'm a callous bitch, but please.
I have this same question for the parenting websites that discuss ad nauseum how daylight savings time is going to throw their household into pandemonium for a week. Who can possibly go to bed and wake up so precisely every day that they can't modify their schedule by an hour over within two days?
A few weeks ago, I saw some reporting somewhere on this research, noting that moving from one room to another has a tendency to wipe short term memory: IIRC what I read and can't find again now, if you show people something, let them sit for a period of time, and ask them to remember it they recall better than if you ask them to move to another room and then remember it. (Also if I recall correctly, they controlled for motion and movement. If you tell someone to get up and walk to another table fifty feet away and then remember, they do better if the table is in the same large room than if they have to walk through a doorway to get to it.)(Anyone who can find the link I read the other week that backs this up, put it in comments. The linked abstract is clearly related research, but not what I read.)
In any case, I read this and wondered if it's why web-surfing is so disorienting; if clicking from one site to the next has a similar memory-resetting effect as walking through a doorway, that would explain a lot about we all (this happens to all of you, right?) end up clicking vaguely around for really inappropriate amounts of time, with no real sense of what we've been doing for the last forty minutes.
Waste some time looking at celebrity couples that are over and done with. It's either this or else I'm in danger of posting a rant about this student that's sitting in my office, which is probably inappropriate.
End of life care - how doctors behave differently at the end of their own lives than the rest of us.
There's a couple things clearly operating:
1. Doctors have way more information about the success of various treatments.
2. They believe this information, emotionally, instead of pinning their hopes on unrealistic odds.
3. They've contemplated death a lot in an impersonal context, because it's built into their job.
I think about death a lot, but with a lot more terror and panic and cars and highways. My fear is more about losing people, or losing my future, as opposed to the death process itself.
(I would like to work out my fears around this and get to a more peaceful place. But I'm not in therapy. The only way I know to work on my fears, besides therapy, is time - eventually some fears get boring and you outgrow them, or something happens to force the issue, or it never goes away.)
Via Tedra and others on FB
I've been playing Scrabble on Facebook with a number of Unfogged commenters, and they have uniformly kicked my ass. It's gotten bad enough that I've started playing with strangers, just in the hope that the general population is enough dumber than the commenters here that I may eventually be able to beat someone.
All right, really the only reason I put this post up is that I got "POISONED", a bingo, on a triple word score, playing with someone I don't even know, and I had to brag about it somewhere. It seems barely possible that I may win a game soon.
The challenge to all comers who want to play Facebook Scrabble stands. Trust me, it'll be an easy win.
Now that I know Texts From Bennett isn't real, the site is no longer funny to me on any level. The only reason I found it funny was the idea that Bennett was out there, in the real world, being Bennett-like.
Which is kind of weird, right? It reminds me of an analysis that AWB once gave of the difference between John Stewart and Stephen Colbert. This was after Colbert decimated Bush at a White House correspondence dinner.
It was something like: Stewart creates an alliance with the viewer, that we're both on the same team, mocking the crazy world out there. In contrast, Colbert aligns himself with the crazy world, and then presents himself as if he were challenging you, a member of the opposite team. (So, AWB said, what made the dinner so unbelievable is that Colbert was aligning himself with Bush and the very men in the room, and then doing his shtick. So this was genuinely antagonistic, because he aligns himself with whoever is craziest, and not playfully antagonistic, the way these dinners usually go. Compared to when Stewart aligns himself with the people in a room, which is friendly.)
Anyway, when I thought Texts From Bennett was real, I thought it was humor in the Stewart mode, which is the easy kind of humor. When it turns out it's fake, it becomes humor in the Colbert mode. Colbert humor is a lot harder to do well, and Texts From Bennett doesn't do it very well.
What the fucking fuck?! Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion Undisclosed to Congress
It dwarfed the Treasury Department's better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.
Lawmakers knew none of this. They had no clue that one bank, New York-based Morgan Stanley (MS), took $107 billion in Fed loans in September 2008, enough to pay off one-tenth of the country's delinquent mortgages. The firm's peak borrowing occurred the same day Congress rejected the proposed TARP bill, triggering the biggest point drop ever in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. (INDU) The bill later passed, and Morgan Stanley got $10 billion of TARP funds, though Paulson said only "healthy institutions" were eligible.
Maybe this has been already linked. But jesus fucking christ. Austerity measures and government cutbacks can go suck on a tailpipe.
I've been buying a fair number of e-books (from Amazon) to read on my phone, and you can't beat the instant gratification: pausing outside the subway entrance to download a book is a beautiful thing. But once I've read the books, I get more and more annoyed that I can't lend them (I'm sure there's some bullshit way to 'lend' DRM protected ebooks to someone with exactly the right proprietary device, but that doesn't count). And I expect that at some point in the next couple of decades, something will happen such that all the books I've bought on Kindle will evaporate and no longer be accessible even to me. It's like buying an old used paperback with the pages falling out -- you can read it, but you're not going to effectively own the book in the future.
Part of the whole IP law irritation is that it seems very hard to practically control digital media to give a purchaser the same rights she would have over a non-digital version -- either you have much more, the capacity to make an unlimited number of perfect copies, or you have much less, the right to use it yourself only on your own devices, that can be taken away from you at any time by the seller's whim or error. I wouldn't be tempted to copy anything illegally, pretty much ever, if buying digital media gave me the same level of practical rights that I used to have.
Actually, he just sent in two science inquiries, in the same email. Here's the second:
Hydrogen fuel cell cars. Unlike the Prius [which sucks, but that's for the culture blogging section not the science blogging one], the Honda FCX Clarity is actually very green, and unlike the Nissan Leaf it has an excellent range. Are hydrogen fuel cell cars a viable technology and/or preferable to hybrids in the near term? A different, but related question: are auto emissions overrated as a source of carbon emissions? I have a vague sense that shutting down coal-fired power plants would do almost as much as giving everyone a hybrid. Correct or insane?
I believe that shutting down coal-fired power plant - especially the nasty, ancient ones in this very state - are the cheapest, huge gains to be made. Also, iirc, it's not environmentally sound to replace a car for the sole reason of acquiring a hybrid.
A tangential question that I have is - what exactly is the cost-benefit analysis of fracking natural gas, compared with coal or renewable sources? I get that fracking is creepy and lets out weird shit into the ground water, but it can be converted to usable gas very cleanly.
What I can't tell is how the dangers stack up against each other. My sense is that natural gas is hugely environmentally superior to coal. Is the biggest reason environmental people are suspicious of natural gas that they worry it will unravel the motivation to develop renewable energy sources? And because there are buckets of money involved? Or is there more going on?
I'd like to get a better sense of the contemporary understanding of how intelligent animals are, compared to humans. Here are the "facts" floating around in my bourbon-soaked brain:
(a) no other animals have language, thus the Irene the Parrot story is bullshit;
(b) the genetic makeup of chimps is like 99.999% or some other incredibly high number the same as that of human beings;
(c) Octopuses seem unusually smart for something that looks like a blob, they can pick locks and whatnot.
But how close to "smart" are we talking, really? Are humans just chimps with a language facility - i.e., is 100% of the difference language -- or is there something else going on in the brain? How much can my dog feel (I am really really hoping the answer is "not that much")? Do we even have any quantifiable way to talk seriously about this, or is the question itself nonsensical?
From Heebie: (I'm not knowledgeable, just using my front-page privilege.)
1. Smartest animals are in the 3-5 year old humans range of intelligence, on their ability to act like smart humans.
2. There must be plenty of qualities that we would categorize as smarts, and not just part of their functionality as that animal, that just aren't human smart. Does the question start to fall apart? Or can science types describe Octupus Intelligence meaningfully?
This is an unremarkable article, although I happen to agree with everything in it, which should be called "The seven most poisoned common grocery items", instead what it is called, which is "The seven foods you should never eat."
I get so furious about this emphasis on being an informed consumer. If the item makes you sick, it should not be sold - even to uninformed consumers! How radical!
The thing that's killing me about this list is how mainstream these items are. Milk and apples! Tomatoes and potatoes and beef! Obviously this informed consumer bullshit crops up all the time, with respect to health care and home-buying and your 401K and anything else that might be actually critical to your life. When corporations run your government, your nation quickly becomes very, very shitty.