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Comments

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The Perils of Pop Philosophy

MythoBeast Re:Dangers of being an arrogant ass (484 comments)

While I agree that limiting intellectual discussion to the higher halls of intelligencia is dangerous, destructive, and ultimately pointless, it does help to get some perspective.

Blogs are often the realm of the amateur philosopher where people repeatedly rehash things that have been either established or disproven decades ago. They talk about other things, though, and provide information to people who don't have it yet. Just because this information is redundant to what's going on somewhere else doesn't mean it isn't useful.

But the writer is correct in that many people present arguments about things that really have no validity, and then they expect others to act on their arguments. The concept of "family" is a good example. What is a family? Why is an adoptive family less valuable than a genetic one? Why would gay parents be less loving than straight ones? Does a family suffer if it's a man and his mother raising a child instead of a man and the child's mother? Or is it all equivalent if slightly different in a way that we personally disapprove of? We don't even bother to define the word "family" before we start insisting that "family values" are of primal importance, and yet the stupid people fall for it.

The argument of mind and brain is similar, but another order of magnitude tougher to understand. Nonetheless, people who have never bothered to think about the definitions make statements about them that they expect everyone else to take seriously. It's fine if we all recognize that this is all in fun, with maybe a bit of brain candy thrown in for good measure.

more than 5 years ago
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Keeping a PC Personal At School?

MythoBeast Mod parent up (695 comments)

This is a question of who is being more rude - the person with the laptop, or the person asking to borrow it. Laptops are a personal resource, not a community one, and I somehow doubt that anyone is providing you with any benefit for using it, short of "not hating you for life."

There are lots of reasons for not letting others use your laptop. School resources get pretty beaten up over time, and you don't want your laptop to wind up looking like one of those. Battery life is a limited resource, not just the charge, but also the number of times you can charge the battery, and they are EXPENSIVE. My laptop now has three ports that have just given up the ghost from regular plugging and unplugging.

Let's face it. Nobody in high school NEEDS to check their email during school hours, but you do need to keep your laptop working. Damage caused by casual users is inevitable, not just to the OS, but to the hardware itself. Asking you to allow that damage simply because you're supposed to be nice is RUDE, and shows no respect for your property.

So, unfortunately, it's not just a matter of saying no, but of educating them regarding why borrowing your laptop is unacceptable. I hope this provides you with a good start.

more than 5 years ago
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Virus Tamed To Attack Cancer, Cancer Drugs To Treat Alcoholism

MythoBeast Re:I know that nobody cares, but... (128 comments)

Yes, "too good to be true" is exactly the description that I gave it five years ago when I ran into it. It doesn't help much that very few of the authorities on the subject will even recognize its existence, although most psychiatrists accept that the concept is sound.

However, both the scientific and anecdotal evidence supports it. Of the seventy or so studies that have been performed with naltrexone and alcohol, they all either support or at least fail to contradict the results. There are currently numerous people who have taken up the process since the release of the book, and their success rate does seem to fall in the range of 4 out of 5. There are literally tens of thousands in Finland who have undergone the treatment with the same results.

The concept of it being usable for any addiction is close but not quite correct. It's been demonstrated to be usable for opiate addictions, and for endorphin based behavioral issues like kleptomania and gambling addiction. Smoking, however, isn't on the list because nicotine addiction is acetylcholine based.

more than 5 years ago
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Virus Tamed To Attack Cancer, Cancer Drugs To Treat Alcoholism

MythoBeast Re:I know that nobody cares, but... (128 comments)

Well, no, not standard naltrexone therapy. Naltrexone is distributed with instructions not to drink. It is often cocktailed with antibuse which makes you sick if you drink. The problem with this is that, if you don't drink, the urge to drink doesn't go away.

Given standard naltrexone therapy, most alcoholics will stay abstinent until the craving overwhelms them, and then give up the naltrexone and start drinking again.

I'll take this offline and we can compare notes.

more than 5 years ago
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Virus Tamed To Attack Cancer, Cancer Drugs To Treat Alcoholism

MythoBeast Re:I know that nobody cares, but... (128 comments)

The basis of the treatment can be summed up fairly quickly. Drinking alcohol releases endorphins, and the endorphins addict us to the alcohol with a force identical to morphine addiction. Taking an endorphin blocker results in a reversal of this effect, where drinking makes you loose interest in drinking over time.

The treatment that results from this effect is equally simple. You have the alcoholic take an endorphin blocker (naltrexone is typical) and then have them pursue their normal drinking habits. After about three to six months, 78% have significantly reduced desire to drink, 25% just stop drinking and have no desire to pick it back up again. I think you can see how this would put Betty Ford out of business and is indirect opposition to AA.

The fine details are a little more complicated, but only because it goes against a lot of logic. For instance, most people expect it to have a "diet pill" effect where it suppresses your urge to drink, and that's how the naltrexone tends to be prescribed. Used this way you'd actually have better results with a placebo, and people give up when it doesn't work that way.

But they wouldn't have to write a book if there were nothing else to say, would they?

more than 5 years ago
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Virus Tamed To Attack Cancer, Cancer Drugs To Treat Alcoholism

MythoBeast Re:I know that nobody cares, but... (128 comments)

Well, setting aside what "the man" has to say, the unusual barrage of snake oil that often comes with trying to find treatment for alcoholism is another solid reason why this treatment has had difficulty with adoption.

Unlike other treatments, though, this one is backed up by about seventy studies, and has a fairly large one that specifically identifies its effectiveness at around 78%.

more than 5 years ago
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Virus Tamed To Attack Cancer, Cancer Drugs To Treat Alcoholism

MythoBeast I know that nobody cares, but... (128 comments)

Most of what we call alcoholism has been cured. The problem is that anybody who might tell alcoholics about it is either financially or emotionally invested in an existing treatment. It's like religion (see responses to this post as demonstration), and it's very frustrating.

For all the details, see the recently published book on the topic. I'm not selling the book, and if you want the details for free, I can provide you with that, too.

more than 5 years ago
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Texas Vote May Challenge Teaching of Evolution

MythoBeast Re:I've never understood (1306 comments)

When an idea becomes one of the foundations of our world view, then any threat to it is like a threat to our own body. So you lose a finger. Big deal. You can just say that you didn't need that finger to keep your arm, right?

Religion is like that. When new information conflicts with what we insist must be true, it causes cognitive dissonance. CD is like the evil opposite of that sense of beauty we all experience when we listen to great music or check out a hot bod, we get the feeling that this is something we want more of. When something doesn't mesh with what we're absolutely certain of, we get the feeling that this is something we want less of. The more people stick it in our face, the less we want of it, until we start using legislation to keep it away.

There really ARE good applications of cognitive dissonance, but this isn't one of them.

more than 5 years ago
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Linux Foundation Asks Who Says "I'm Linux" Best

MythoBeast No, no! (459 comments)

Microsoft makes their INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE knockoff (which still flops).

more than 5 years ago
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Are Quirky Developers Brilliant Or Dangerous?

MythoBeast One causes the other (1134 comments)

These people wouldn't be dangerous if they weren't brilliant. It's something called "the aura effect". When someone does something well, everyone starts to think that they do everything well.

I've seen people like that ruin entire departments. They can code like a demon and produce spectacular and extremely functional software. They do great things and then move on to the next project. They start to form a following, which adds to their notoriety. Small religions form around them.

And then some poor schmuck is handed last year's effort to make a few minor adjustments and finds that it's thoroughly undocumented and uncommented. The call structure averages thirty functions deep, there are more interfaces than there are classes and as many classes as there are functions. Everything is extremely efficient because there is no segmentation of functionality, and subsections have no clear interface boundaries. But because this person is such a great corporate asset, said poor schmuck has absolutely no traction with management in terms of calling attention to this.

More years go by while the superstar wraps entire departments around their coding habits. Great chunks of the company's IP are written in this person's style because he's become a shining example of how things should be done. Maintenance costs go through the roof until enough software engineers with a clue point out these problems and insist on policies that address these problems, and major projects have to be initiated to rewrite huge chunks of existing incomprehensible spaghetti code.

At which point our shining primadonna takes his experience and awards and goes and finds a job with a fat salary in some other poor company.

more than 5 years ago
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Why Japan Hates the iPhone

MythoBeast OMG, it's Huge! (884 comments)

One of the things that I looked for this most recent time around was a phone that didn't feel like a brick in my pocket, and make my keys smash into my leg. That phone does some cool stuff, but it's darn near a laptop. No thank you.

more than 4 years ago
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How To Handle Corporate Blackmail?

MythoBeast It looks like you're covered (675 comments)

IMHO as a long term member of the software engineering community, I think that you're covered and can reasonably get out. Your previous employer is greedy, and wants more of a good thing.

Since you're part of a development effort and may have a body of unique knowledge, it would be a good idea to offer to help them transition in a new person to replace you, and to be willing to answer questions they might have on a contract basis after you've left. This is really up to you, though. You're not required to do this, and if they get mean or greedy about it you should definitely cut them off.

This is no more than we can expect from employers these days. We get our two weeks severance and we're out the door, and we consider ourselves lucky to get that. You may want to consider any personal relationship you have with the management, but professionally speaking, I think you're doing just fine.

more than 5 years ago
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Marijuana Could Prevent Alzheimer's, New Study

MythoBeast Re:Rational (807 comments)

Not exactly. The demand for alcohol had significantly increased during prohibition, but the ability to produce it en mass was eliminated because of the order that all equipment for the creation of alcoholic beverages be destroyed. The alcohol producers had to rebuild their infrastructure from scratch, including their distribution networks. A lot of the alcohol producing companies and families came back into the business, but a lot of them didn't. It was an unusual case of a new field where huge growth potential was available just from out-competing the other alcohol producers. They hadn't had time to start considering OTHER competitors yet.

more than 5 years ago
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Marijuana Could Prevent Alzheimer's, New Study

MythoBeast Re:Rational (807 comments)

I've studied the issue extensively, and don't believe that this is the case. Alcohol as a legitimate industry was severely decimated by prohibition in 1937, and wasn't in much condition to field lobbyists.

The primary people who showed up at the hearings for it were the producers of nylon (DuPont) and the owners of vast logging interests (Herst). There was a significant push by those who enforced prohibition and were looking for something else to enforce (Anslinger), but it would appear that Anslinger was actually backed by the DuPont family in his efforts.

That doesn't mean that it its illegality isn't currently promoted by the alcohol interests. The tobacco interests have actually been in the forefront, and they seem to own trademarks on various brand names like "Maui Wowwie" and "Acapulco Gold". Mostly, though, it's supported by politicians looking for something to be reputably against when running for office.

more than 4 years ago
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Is Microsoft Improving Its Image?

MythoBeast Re:Yes (746 comments)

"by their own accord" isn't as black and white as it sounds. Microsoft doesn't do anything without market pressures. I'm certain that no single factor was entirely responsible for this decision, but I'm also certain that Microsoft didn't wake up one day and say "Hey, I'm tired of doing whatever I want. I think I'll spend fifty million or so to follow someone ELSE's standards."

more than 5 years ago
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Is Microsoft Improving Its Image?

MythoBeast Re:Excited about a new OS release? (746 comments)

Of COURSE you need to buy it. It doesn't suck nearly as badly as Vista! Isn't that a feature in and of itself?

more than 5 years ago
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Is Microsoft Improving Its Image?

MythoBeast Quote from Microsoft (746 comments)

"Oh, wow, maybe people won't just buy whatever crap we try to shove down their throats. This is going to take a bit of rethinking of our strategy..."

Sorry, couldn't resist. I understand that the automobile industry is going through the same realization. We can hope that a few others might get the clue...

more than 5 years ago
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Meteorite Destroys Warehouse In Auckland, NZ

MythoBeast Re:One rule to rule them all, eh? (278 comments)

No, MerlTurkin has it right. Meteors are cold while they're out in space. When they hit the atmostphere, the surface heats up quickly, and the heated parts chip off because of temperature shear and create an ablative barrier to further heating. The surface of a meteor is warm, but not hot when it hits the ground, and the inside is still frozen.

Of course, Mrs. O'Leary's cow wasn't very hot when it hit the lantern and it still burned down Chicago. No telling what was in that warehouse from the posted story.

The speed of most meteorites is almost always based on the speed of the earth flying through meteor clouds, not the speed of the meteor clouds, so it's fairly consistent.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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What is my computer-bound time worth?

MythoBeast MythoBeast writes  |  more than 5 years ago

MythoBeast (54294) writes "Like many software engineers, my productivity is often bound by the speed of my computer. Because of the complexity of the code base I'm working on I estimate that my employer spends about $600/week for me to sharpen my nerf-launching skills or browse web sites while I wait for a compile to tell me what I need to do next. As a rough estimation this could be cut down to a quarter of that time through the expenditure of roughly $2500 for an updated system, recouping the expense in less than two months.

This is only a SWAG, though, and isn't likely to convince the monetary minded. Does anyone know of any actual studies that have been done to determine how much productivity is gained when you double or quadruple the speed of the computer the worker has to work with?"

Journals

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I've been quoted

MythoBeast MythoBeast writes  |  more than 10 years ago

I've always believed that an idea should be suspicious in direct proportion to its degree of flattery. As such, it's definitely a weird feeling to know that there are people who put my words on posters and hang them on their walls. Thanks to bkmurf for the compliment of immortalizing these words on big paper:

Our world has become a perpetual learning curve.

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