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Showing posts from January, 2014

My Wife on Gender Inequality in Computer Science

There's been much discussion lately on the web about the dismal # of women choosing Computer Science.  I thought I'd go straight to the source and ask, you know, a woman, who did not choose CS.

My wife.

Her theory on gender imbalance in CS.  (I had to transcribe as quickly as I could, and I'm not sure I quite caught the spirit of it all)

It's stupid.  You don't make anything tangible.  When I think of Computer Science, I think of greasy gamer nerds who want show off for their greasy gamer nerd friends. Why would I want to choose that, particularly when I know that when I go into it I'm going to be harangued by perverts who do nothing but sit on their butt all day?  Which makes your butt huge.  (Caveat: This is not what she thinks about the people I work with.  This is her general view on what a female surveying the field would see as a Freshman in college.)

Random musings over 3rd Coffee about Winter and Trigonometry

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Random stuff that'd annoy my twitter stream to death:

The animation in He-Man and She-Ra is laughably bad.  Not "it's anime and they only shot one cel but panned across it for 2 seconds" bad, but "we reused the same sequence of he-man rolling 25 times in 5 episodes" bad.Natural Gas heat furnaces are amazing.  My house is a toasty 70 degrees.It's painful to start my Camry every morning.  That glowing "low oil pressure light" (while normal) goes out much more slowly in zero degree weather, and there's this groan it makes about 5 seconds after startup that I interpret as the car saying, "Really?  Again?"Useless related factoid I remember from my childhood absorbing everything about aviation:  When pilots started flying in Alaskan winters, they preferred radial engines (no water cooling system to freeze) and they were careful to drain the sump oil from the engine on shutdown into a container, then heat-up the container the next mornin…

We're the Monsters Who Don't Believe in Santa Claus

I imagine this convo someday: "You really believe there's some magic guy up in the sky who created the Universe?  Do you also believe in Santa Claus?" The respondent will be one of my children:
I've never believed in Santa Claus.  I would like to tell you about a real guy named Jesus and what He did for me.... Yep, we're those people.  Santa Claus doesn't give our children presents, we give each other presents to celebrate the greatest unearned present ever, salvation.   Our kids are the all-too-honest little antichrists who send your little Timmy or Terry home crying from Kindergarten, "MOM!  Maria said Santa Claus isn't real."

I'm not going to lie, it's awkward.  You get around other families any month south of September and hoo boy, you get The Glare, usually from the mom who's put a load of items on layaway for Santa to bring.  "Why in the world would you deprive your kids the joy of Santa?"  Some come out and say it, …

In which the Fusion and Camry of Doom Parley amid the Snow

[Exterior:  3am as the Snow falls]

[Garage door rises]

Fusion: Psst....hey, Camry of Doom.

CoD (annoyed): Don't start what you cain't finish, Sparky.

F: Mmmm....looks mighty cold out there in all that snow.  I'd offer you a place in here, but this is only for the cars they like.

CoD:  Yeah, yeah....I'm fine out here.  I don't need no sissy garage.

F: But it's been frackin' cold forever it seems like.  Doesn't it hurt?

CoD: Damned right it hurts...Pain's my only steady companion  My hood's peeling like a sunburnt albino, my suspension bushings remember the Clinton administration, and my emissions equipment hasn't worked since Middle Girl was a baby.

F: [snorts derisively] Doesn't sound good, Gramps.  I know he wants to get rid of you, the Fat One. . .why are you smiling?

CoD: [Laughs] Boy, I came here out of necessity--they didn't want me, they neededme.  They bought me off a used car lot on a freezing october.  They needed something …

Frankenstein's Monster is coming...then what?

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So, my church is going through Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.  The second item within the 40-day book is "You are not an accident."  With this as the follow-up.
Your parents may have been good, bad, or indifferent.  It doesn't matter:  God had a design for you before you were even born, with the combination of DNA inside your body determined.  Immediately, the reality that soon enough (if some rogue nation hasn't already) a cloned human being will be created.  No mother, no father, just a sequenced genome injected into a sterilized embryo.  It begins dividing and gestating, with a person resulting 40 weeks later.  Maybe less if we accelerate the process.

It's a synthesized person, essentially the story of Pygmalion come true.  There are lots of dystopian side effects to consider:  Will this capability be used to breed the Alphas -> Epsilons of Brave New World?  Will we see armies of cloned soldiers with all fear and remorse removed, like Star Wars Storm T…

Expanded Gaming? No thanks,Governor.

So, working late(-ish) last night, I drove home listening to the dulcet tones of Governor Steve Beshear delivering his annual State of the Commonwealth speech.

I've long held Beshear to be a dichotomy:  He's a moderate, reasonable with genuine communication and leadership ability who has a folksy, drawling twang that drives me bonkers.  Though he sounds like a character from Hee-Haw, he's been genuinely good for the state, surmounting two scandalous previous administrations and noted egomaniac Senate President David Williams.  Beshear has both the common touch of a well-meaning Grandfather, and the business administration sense of a decent CEO.

And...yet...

He has a somewhat benign but pernicious fatal flaw:  He won't let go of Casino-style gaming for Kentucky.  It reared its head again as a "stinger" at the very end of his speech before the closing.

Again this session I will ask you to place a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot related to expanded gamin…

What I Learned From Polar Vortex 2014

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"And now, let's go to Ollie Williams with the weather."

It was 55 Degrees on Sunday afternoon, with detectable humidity in the air.
By Monday morning, it was 1, with a wind chill of -25.  There were reports of thundersnow in the foothills to our east.  Last night it was -5 or so.
Along the way, I learned a few things: If you soak a t-shirt and leave it outside in such weather, it will freeze solid in 90 seconds.A garage door can flash-freeze to the concrete beneath it, requiring a sharpened spade shovel to dislodge.Boiling hot water thrown into the air becomes a cloud of steam.A cup of regular water thrown up into the air will freeze and thud onto the ground.A 15 year old Camry will still start, but will not come to operating temperature (read: no cabin heat) on a 20 minute drive to work.Power steering fluid loses iThermal underwear is your friend.I love natural gas heat.  Temp in my house has remained 70 degrees, and the upstairs & downstairs furnaces haven't bro…

Lumpy Idle: Ford turned around. Why?

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How is Ford still alive?  If I look back even 10 years ago, Ford seemed to be completely on the ropes.  Let's take a look, shall we?

Ford's 2004 product line:

Crown Victoria: Chevy ceded the Police/Fleet market to Ford when it killed the Caprice in 1996.  That's the only reason this relic was still being sold.  It had a boat-anchor 4.6L Mod motor pushing out barely over 235 hp and a gas tank that could kill you in a rear-end accident.E150/E250 Econoline.  Same mod-motors but terrible transmissions.  Still, they were the cheapest boxes on wheels to carry stuff, so they endured, getting 12 mpg lumbering in the slow lane dropping transmissions along the way.Escape CUV.  Reasonable little trucklet, but an also-ran compared to the RAV4/CR-V that dominated.Expedition.  The best large SUV ever made, overseen by John Krafcik, including an independent rear suspension.  Krafcik would go on to bigger things.  The Expedition would not; SUV sales were beginning to tank as a decade of hi…

Rant: "Holacracy"....Really?

So, Zappos announced that they're moving their whole 1500 person organization to 'Holacracy'.  Why?  Ironically, because of an autocratic decision by the CEO:
Last fall, while exploring ways to scale Zappos without letting bureaucracy set in, Hsieh met Brian Robertson, the founder of the management consultancy HolacracyOne.  Ah, this is classic:  The CEO gets sold some snakeoil, the troops have to drink it.  So, what is 'holacracy'.  Is it like 'democracy,' 'theocracy,' and other terms that've been with us since antiquity? Nope. Some guy invented it out of whole cloth.
Summary from the defunct company that came up with holacracy. (Warning: Long)
TL;DR summary of tenets:  Decision Making by Consent: Consent is a method of decision-making whereby the arguments presented in discussing a decision are of paramount importance, and the result of the discussion is that no one present knows of a paramount reason to continue discussion before proceeding wit…