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Capitalists Who Fear Change

dh003i Re:Hidden behind the scenes... (297 comments)

This post is rife with ignorance and false statements that I don't have time to dispute.

I will mention this: Human nature is all we have. I suppose perhaps the poster thinks he is some super-being, but he isn't. The errors of human nature are magnified by governents, which shield those in political power from the consequences of their actions.

Statements like "human nature is no longer good enough" are merely soundbytes with no meaningful prescriptions.

about 2 years ago
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Leave Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson Alone!

dh003i Re:Summary hole (319 comments)

Why does he need to disclose he is a shareholder when publicizing a lie the CEO told about his resume? Either the CEO does or does not have the CS degree.

If a major shareholder wants him gone that much, it seems like a good idea that he should be gone.

about 2 years ago
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Growing Evidence of Football Causing Brain Damage

dh003i Re:Change in shape of the ball (684 comments)

Hypothetically, in American football, a player carrying the ball could put it on the ball (fumble it) and then kick it to a team-mate. For the reasons you mentioned, it wouldn't be very effective, nor a good idea.

about 2 years ago
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How to Heartlessly Arbitrage Used Books With a PDA

dh003i Re:Lots of reasons... (445 comments)

? What's the big deal. If you are hosting a garage sale and there is someone acting in a way you don't like, you can tell them to leave. It is your property, after all. If you have desirable items, there will be other people willing to buy them. And if it is someone else's garage sale, then they get to make that decision.

But if you're complaining because other people are willing to pay more for something than you are, or because you don't attract enough attention in your sales to be able to tell annoying people to leave, while still making a profit; then that just seems like whining.

more than 3 years ago
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'The Laws Are Written By Lobbyists,' Says Google's Schmidt

dh003i bills that members of congress read? (484 comments)

"bills that members of Congress actually read and then determine what stimulus funds were successfully spent."

Members of Congress read the bills?

more than 3 years ago
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Genetically Altering Trees To Sequester More Carbon

dh003i Re:Subjective perspective exaggerated (279 comments)

Actually, free markets were dealing with pollution issues (as torts) fine before various wrongheaded rulings by British and other courts.

You also phrase the question in a deliberately loaded way. "My need to make a quick buck", as if there is something dirty or wrong about making money by using one's property. The issue is about private property rights, easements, and torts. When smoke stacks first started appearing, farmers -- who were there first and hence had an easement -- would sue the factories for damage caused to their orchards. There was even a budding science evolving to determine which pollution came from where. Of course, if a smoke-stack was opened up in the middle of nowhere, and then a farmer -- or you -- move in next door, the easement would be with the owners of the smoke-stack, who would have established a pollution easement.

You environmentalists want to bypass actual legal proceedings that require actual proof of damage -- I'm talking about proof in a civil case -- with actual plaintiffs against actual specific defendants, where demonstrated damage needs to be proven. You can't just engage in a bunch of hand-waving and rely on vicarious liability.

more than 3 years ago
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Genetically Altering Trees To Sequester More Carbon

dh003i Re:Subjective perspective exaggerated (279 comments)

That isn't what is under consideration here. This article is talking about the function trees provide in creating oxygen. To the extent that we need trees to prevent soil erosion and wind, we can plant them. I'm sure they could even be -- gasp -- genetically engineered to do that better.

There is nothing objectionable about us bending the world to better suit our needs. Contrary to environmentalists, the entire history of capitalism demonstrates an ability to do more with less: e.g., less land can produce more food.

more than 3 years ago
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Genetically Altering Trees To Sequester More Carbon

dh003i Re:Subjective perspective exaggerated (279 comments)

You do know that most of the oxygen we breathe in comes from algae, right? In other words, trees simply aren't necessary *on that ground* at all.

more than 3 years ago
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Canon Develops 8 X 8 Inch Digital CMOS Sensor

dh003i Re:Shutter speed (209 comments)

Four Thirds lenses do start decreasing in resolution after f/5.6, but they are not "diffraction-limited" by f/5.6, not if by that you mean "they perform at the diffraction limit there and beyond" (although maybe diffraction is the main cause of decreased performance). I actually calculated some data on his from dpreview's tests of the Olympus Zuiko Digital 50/2 macro lens, which I own (I had to convert their numbers to lp/mm, of which here are the results):

Olympus Zuiko Digital Macro 50mm f/2
f/stop (4x5 equiv) -- resolution -- theoretical diffraction limit -- % Diffraction Limit
f/2 (f/14.2) -- 92 lp/mm -- 750 lp/mm -- 12%
f/2.8 (f/20) -- 112 lp/mm -- 536 lp/mm -- 21%
f/3.3 (f/23) -- 119 lp/mm -- 455 lp/mm -- 26%
f/5.6 (f/40) -- 116 lp/mm -- 268 lp/mm -- 43%
f/8 (f/57) -- 105 lp/mm -- 188 lp/mm -- 56%
f/9 (f/64) -- 96 lp/mm -- 167 lp/mm -- 57%
f/11 (f/78) -- 87 lp/mm -- 136 lp/mm -- 64%
f/16 (f/114) -- 72 lp/mm -- 94 lp/mm -- 77%
f/22 (f/156) -- 54 lp/mm -- 68 lp/mm -- 79%

some similar large format lenses for which there is data (I've averaged the results for center, middle, and midline): http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html/

Schneider G-Claron 305mm f/9 (equivalent to 43mm f/1.3 in 4/3rds for AOV and DOF)
f/stop (4/3rds equiv) -- resolution -- theoretical diffraction limit -- % Diffraction Limit
f/16 (f/2.3) -- 63 lp/mm -- 94 lp/mm -- 67%
f/22 (f/3.1) -- 55 lp/mm -- 68 lp/mm -- 81%

Fuji C-Series 450mm f/12.5 (equivalent to 63mm f/1.8 in 4/3rds for AOV and DOF)
f/stop (4/3rds equiv) -- resolution -- theoretical diffraction limit -- % Diffraction Limit
f/12.5 (f/1.8) -- 40 lp/mm -- 120 lp/mm -- 33%
f/16 (f/2.3) -- 43 lp/mm -- 94 lp/mm -- 46%
f/22 (f/3.1) -- 43 lp/mm -- 68 lp/mm -- 63%
f/32 (f/4.5) -- 41 lp/mm -- 47 lp/mm -- 87%

Some interesting things worth nothing:

(1) By f/22, 4x5 lenses can perform as well as 4/3rds lenses at f/22. Look at other lenses in the link I provided, some of them are getting around 50-55 lp/mm at f/22.

(2) However, at f/22, large-format lenses that may be performing at 63-81% of the theoretic diffraction limit are equivalent to f/3.1 on 4/3rds in terms of DOF. Around there, 4/3rds lenses are getting 21-26% of the theoretical diffraction limit (actually, not all 4/3rds lenses...the Oly 50/2 is one of the sharpest lenses ever made).

(3) For portraiture work at f/2 on Olympus and assuming 5 lp/mm is desired for final print sharpness, the Olympus 50/2 can produce an enlargement of 92/5 = 18.4x enlargement over the 17.3 x 13.0 mm sensor size, for final prints of 9.4 x 12.5 inches. This is about on par with my experience of what Olympus can produce.

(4) For portraiture work at f/16, which has equivalent DOF using the same composition as f/2 in 4/3rds, using say the 305/9 G-Claron, you can produce an enlargement of 63/5 = 12.6x over the 3.75 x 4.75 in film area (the edges are unusable due to the loading notches) for final prints of 47 x 60 inches! Now, granted, you'd need a lot accessory light for this. Also, most people don't blow portraits up that large, but even if not, you'd still have a much greater tonality and smoothness. (and if the pictures were too sharp, you'd have plenty of room to do some blurring to eliminate unwanted facial detail and provide a smoother image instead).

(5) If you want to shoot with less intense light, there are the Xenotar 150/2.8 and 135/3.5. The Voightlander Apo Lanthar 300/4.5 has a longer focal length and some may prefer it for portraiture -- but its $5,900 on eBay right now (and it covers up to 8x10, so may not be sharp enough for 4x5)! In any event, assuming my Xenotar 135/3.5 for portraiture work wide open, it gets 20 lp/mm at the center wide open and 10 lp/mm at the edge for 15 on average. That's an enlargement of 3x over 4x5 for final print sizes of 12x15. Somewhat larger than 4/3rds and much much narrower depth of field (equivalent to f/0.5 on 4/3rds), along with much much greater tonality and smoothness. By f/8 (equivalent to f/1.1 on 4/3rds) the 135/3.5 is already getting 45 lp/mm and you can make 34 x 43 in prints!

(6) For landscape work, unfortunately 4x5 lenses don't stop down below f/64. You won't be able to match the extreme DOF you'd get with 4/3rds at f/22, although by then you could think about pinholes or putting a pinhole aperture in front of a 4x5 lens. In any event, because 4x5 has the ability to tilt the standards, I've often achieved f/32 or even f/22 for landscape work (f/11 for some architectural work). But even in the worst case, at f/64, 4x5 still excels. I haven't seen tests, but from graphs I've plotted of resolution of 4x5 lenses vs. f-stop, I'm pretty sure 4x5 is going to resolve just about at the diffraction limit at f/64 (heck, according to Kerry Thalman and Mike McDonald, 4x5 lenses are already performing at or nearly at the diffraction limit at f/32 and the data backs that up; see my link and the link to discussion).

Anyhow, at f/64, the diffraction limit is 23 lp/mm. If 4x5 lenses perform near there, that's a 4.6x enlargement over 4x5 for 22 x 17 in prints. How large a print can we make from 4/3rds at f/9, equivalent to f/64 on 4x5? The Oly 50/2 gets 96 lp/mm, so that is a 19.2x enlargement for a 13 x 10 in print.

(7) All this is just a really complicated way of saying that at any given f-stop on 4/3rds, the equivalent f-stop on 4x5 for DOF in the same composition (AOV, framing) is going to be far closer to performing at the diffraction limit. The difference in the size of enlargements at equivalent f-stops is equal to the fold-difference in the % of theoretical diffraction limit achieved.

And when you can benefit from tilting or swinging the standards on 4x5 -- or when you want narrow DOF -- then you can really bang out incredibly sharp negatives of transparencies capable of enlargement to enormous sizes.

more than 3 years ago
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Canon Develops 8 X 8 Inch Digital CMOS Sensor

dh003i Re:IR Cameras (209 comments)

"As for the OP's intended use? Sounds pretty stupid to me... A good way to get into trouble."

I have no idea what you are talking about. An early poster mentioned something inappropriate about spying on other people; nothing like that was implied by my rather straightforward summary of the innovation.

I intend to use it for large format photography (e.g., landscapes), if it ever becomes affordable.

more than 3 years ago
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Canon Develops 8 X 8 Inch Digital CMOS Sensor

dh003i Re:Shutter speed (209 comments)

This isn't actually true, that when you're DOF limited, any format can produce the same image. At a crop factor of 6.64, f/28.4 on 4x5 (f/53 on 8x8) is about equal to f/8 on 35mm. However, large format lenses are a lot closer to the diffraction limit at f/28 (because it is a lower number) than are 35mm cameras to their diffraction limit at f/8. Furthermore, because the resolution of say ISO 100 film outstrips that of the lens by so much, you're basically getting the full aerial resolution on film (this has to do with MTF).

To make it clear:

Assuming both lenses perform at the diffraction limit, f/28.4 at ISO 100 on 100 lp/mm film will get you the same exposure, depth of field, and image quality as f/8 at ISO 6.7 (the area of 4x5 is 14.9x larger than 36x24) on 355 lp/mm film. By same image quality, I mean the quality of the final print. The reason for the disparity is of course the much greater area and diagonal of 4x5 film. Breaking that down:

* The equivalent f-stops and film resolutions are determined by the crop factor from 35mm to 4x5 (3.55x). Performance at the diffraction limit for f/28.4 is about 1500/28.4 = 53 lp/mm. Performance at the diffraction limit for f/8 is 187.5 lp/mm. For final 4x5 resolution, accounting for film resolution, 1 / (1/53 + 1/100) = 34.6 lp/mm. Assuming 10 lp/mm is acceptable for final print, that gets you a 3.46x enlargement over the 6.4in diagonal of the film: final print diagonal = 22in. For final 35mm resolution, accounting for film resolution, 1 / (1/187.5 + 1/355) = 122.7 lp/mm. Assuming 10 lp/mm is acceptable for final print, that gets you a 12.2x enlargement over the 1.7in diagonal of the film: final print diagonal = 21 in. The difference is in rounding error.

That is all hypothetical though. In reality, neither lens performs at the diffraction limit, but 4x5 lenses perform a lot closer to the diffraction limit at say f/32 than do 35mm lenses at f/8. Some good large format lenses get around 40 lp/mm or more at f/32, 85% of the diffraction limit of 47 lp/mm. The Olympus 50/2, a very sharp 4/3rds macro lens, gets 105 lp/mm at f/8...don't expect 35mm lenses to outperform that. That would be 56% of the diffraction limit of 187.5 lp/mm. So you're going to be able to make a print ~1.3x as large from 4x5 vs. 35mm...assuming you use 355 lp/mm film with 35mm.

* The equivalent ISO for image quality is determined by the fold difference in area between 4x5 and 35mm film: about 14.9x more area on 4x5 film. Hence, it can have an ISO 14.9x as high: ISO 100 on 4x5 has the same image quality (tonality, grain in final print) as ISO 6.7 on 35mm film. The problem here is, you really aren't going to find ISO 6.7 film. The lowest I've heard of for a TLR is ISO10. Actually, there is Efke IR820 Infared ISO 3. However, it is IR film. However, this is available for 4x5 too. If you want to talk about color film, for the most part, the lowest ISO of 4x5 and 35mm is the same -- ISO 100 or ISO 50 (for Velvia).

The same thing would be true for digital. If you're getting ISO 100 on say a hypothetical 4x5 digital sensor, you'd need ISO 6.7 to get the same image quality from a 35mm sensor.

more than 3 years ago
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Canon Develops 8 X 8 Inch Digital CMOS Sensor

dh003i Re:back to old style camera sizes? (209 comments)

I'm not sure I'd say the list prices are "cheap". They're around the price that I bought some of my Olympus 4/3rds lenses for (50/2 Macro, 14-54).

But they're incredible values, because of what the can produce. The lenses won't be as "sharp" as say 4/3rds lenses in measured lp/mm, but they don't need to be anywhere near that sharp, because the film is so much larger.

For landscapes, there is always a tradeoff between resolution and depth of field. There is actually a formula that determines optimum f-stop that balances defocus and diffraction, given what you want to have in focus in your image: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/fstop.html/. There are a few things that result in 4x5 cameras producing much higher image-quality than 35mm cameras or DSLRs: (1) At equivalent f-stops for DOF, large format lenses perform much closer to the diffraction limit, thus you can have have larger prints; (2) The film is so much larger, so if you have a film with the same resolution/sensitivity, the effects of 1/Rf = 1/(1/Rl + 1/Rf) aren't as degrading. You will capture far closer to the aerial resolution than you would with 35mm or DSLR.

If you're into portraiture, 4x5 and 8x10 is great. For 4x5, many use portrait lengths of 135, 150, or 220mm (slightly shorter than normal to slightly longer than normal). Some good ones are the 135/3.5 Xenotar or 135/3.5 Carl Zeiss Planar. I got my 135/3.5 Xenotar for around $600. There is a 150/2.8 Xenotar on eBay right now for $5000 (ridiculously overpriced, as I've seen one sell for $1500 before). Yes, 135mm on 4x5 is "equivalent" to around 38mm on 35mm, if you consider the diagonal of 3.75x4.75in, a far cry normal portrait length. The rules for 35mm cameras shouldn't be blindly applied to 4x5; but if you really insist on longer lenses, there is an $5,900 Voigtlander Apo Lanthar 300/4.5 for $5,900 on eBay. However, with large format, many have found that you can get closer to the subject without having unpleasing results.

It is worth noting that because of the incredible detail 4x5's get, a lot of 4x5 portraiture is full body shots. You can crop to H&S and still get far more detail than from even full-frame cameras. For full-body portraiture, 135 or 150 mm works (even 90mm, depending on what else you want in the shot).

I'm working on a T8-based DIY set of softboxes to produce ~40,000 lumens total. This would allow relatively easy focus with a 305/9 lens indoors even.

more than 3 years ago
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Canon Develops 8 X 8 Inch Digital CMOS Sensor

dh003i Re:back to old style camera sizes? (209 comments)

Those prices in the link I provided are probably too high, except if buying new from B&H Photo. I bought my 4x5 Linhof monorail (which came with a 150/5.6 lens) for $600. Kodak Ektar 203/7.7 $120. Nikon SW 90/4.5 wide-angle lens ~$600. Schneider Xenotar 135/3.5 ~$600. Schneider G-Claron 305/9 ~$410. I sold the 150/5.6 and 203/7.7, and now only have 3 lenses: wide-angle (90/4.5), portrait (135/3.5), and longer focal length (305/9).

An excellent 4x5 system can be had for less than the cost of a DSLR. But you'll also need the darkslides (Lisco slides ~$10/ea for 4x5), shutter release cables, and a solid tripod and tripod head.

more than 3 years ago
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Canon Develops 8 X 8 Inch Digital CMOS Sensor

dh003i Re:Coming soon? (209 comments)

Maybe the sensor will have larger photosites than others, maybe not. It could have 10 micron sized sites.

more than 3 years ago
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Canon Develops 8 X 8 Inch Digital CMOS Sensor

dh003i Re:back to old style camera sizes? (209 comments)

I think that in many years, it might be "affordable". When 50 megapixel medium format backs cost what DSLRs now cost, look for an 8x8in sensor to cost $50k. An 8x8in sensor is almost 10 times the area of a digital medium format back...look for it to cost at least 10 times the price, or around $500,000, at least (probably more, due to wafer errors).

I think that in many years, large format photographers (I shoot 4x5) will be interested in this, when prices are reasonable.

more than 3 years ago
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Apertus, the Open Source HD Movie Camera

dh003i too big, not intuitive enough (152 comments)

So...it has the size of a medium format or even large-format camera...but the resolution of a DSLR that is 5 years out of date. Doesn't seem too impressive to me.

more than 3 years ago
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Canon Unveils 120-Megapixel Camera Sensor

dh003i Re:Sorry, still somewhat lame (289 comments)

There is nothing wrong with comparing different formats. There are things that you can do with a large-format 4x5 that you still can't even get close to doing with a full-frame DSLR, nor even really with a medium-format digital camera. But of course there are advantages for digital too.

There is really no direct comparison between 4x5 film and a scanner-back. The scanner back requires a much longer exposure, it is not a sensor. For something very static, it would work fine.

A 4x5in piece of film, assuming that 3.75x4.75in of it is usable, has 17.8125 sqin of area. A 36x24mm (1.42x0.94in) digital sensor has 1.3392 sqin of area. That's 13.3x the area and 3.55x the diagonal.

Many lenses for 4x5 will resolve close to the diffraction-limit (1600/32 = 50 lp/mm) at f/32*, maybe they'll resolve ~46 lp/mm, or 92% of the theoretical diffraction limit). f/32 on 4x5 is equivalent to f/9 on 35mm film (in terms of DoF at an equivalent angle of view & distance from subject, i.e., same framing). To match the resolution of 4x5, you'd need to have to come achieve 92% of the diffraction limit of 178 lp/mm at f/9: 164 lp/mm.

My Olympus ZD 50/2 macro lens, one of the sharpest lenses ever made, resolves "only" 123 lp/mm at f/4 (31% of the maximum theoretical diffraction limit). At f/9, it resolves 96 lp/mm (54% of the theoretical diffraction limit). Good luck finding a lens that resolves 164 lp/mm at f/9 and that is suitable for general-purpose use.

*http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html/

more than 3 years ago
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Canon Unveils 120-Megapixel Camera Sensor

dh003i Re:you'd need a lens capable of 232 lp/mm (289 comments)

PS: That 600 lp/mm 28 mm f/1.8 Ultra-Micro-Nikkor lens I mentioned has an image circle of just 8mm and is optimized for 1:10 magnification (e.g., it resolves an 80mm subject size on an 8mm sensor or piece of film). Reversed, it would be optimized for 10:1, but would only produce 60 lp/mm (600 lp/mm are still "resolved" on the 8mm object side (4800 lp total), but this is all that can be produced on the image side (4800 lp / 80mm = 60lp/mm).

So this is a very limited application lens to get that kind of resolution.

more than 3 years ago
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Canon Unveils 120-Megapixel Camera Sensor

dh003i you'd need a lens capable of 232 lp/mm (289 comments)

The APS-H sensor is 28.7 x 19 mm. To resolve 13,280 pixels along the length of the sensor, you'd need a lens that could resolve 463 lines per mm (232 lp/mm). According to the laws of diffraction, this is impossible for f-stops greater than approximately f/3.24. (1500/463 = 3.24). That doesn't give you a lot of depth of field to work with, if you want to resolve all of those pixels. And you don't have a bellows design capable of tilts and shifts, as do 4x5 large-format cameras, so that compounds the problem.

The practical problem right now is that there just aren't any lenses that resolve 232 lp/mm for normal photographic use. There are some very specialized lenses that deliver many hundreds of lp/mm. e.g., the 28 mm f/1.8 Ultra-Micro-Nikkor resolves about 600 line-pairs per mm or 1200 lines/mm: http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_spec.html/. The conditions under which the lens resolves that many lp/mm are very limited, however (macro only, at a very specific magnification).

more than 3 years ago
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Is HTML5 Ready To Take Over From Flash?

dh003i Re:Answer: No. Unless you only mean video. (468 comments)

It just requires that everyone have a flash plugin or browser capable of using flash. Too bad the iPad doesn't support Flash (well, one good thing about Apple).

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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Canon Develops 8 x 8 inch Digital CMOS Sensor

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 3 years ago

dh003i writes "Canon has developed a 8 x 8 inch CMOS digital sensor. It will be able to capture an image with 1/100th the light intensity required by a DSLR and will be able to record video at 60 fps in lighting half the intensity of moonlight. There are already many excellent quality lenses designed to cover 8 x 10 inches, although Canon may develop some of their own designed specifically for their requirements."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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Quicken and MS Money: A Case of WHAT THE FUCK IS UP?

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 10 years ago

I've been tyring to find a program with which to manage how much money we have left on grants at work. So, I've tried a couple of demos. What the fuck is up with this crap? When moving money from one account to another, it will say "deposit" in both accounts, despite the fact that money was withdrawn from one account and deposited into another. I'm no fucking accountant, but I know that that's fucking bullshit. On top of that, the programs completely bork things up when you download the qif files for different accounts if money moves from one account to another. Furthermore, it's filled with fucking ads. Earth to intuit: people are paying for the product, not fucking ads and annoying pop-up reminders.
So, I looked on Amazon.com to get some reviews for Quicken and MS Money. Wow, what complete crap. In each case, the more recent the version, the crappier the product. Some people have even said that they've gone back to 1994 versions of Quicken, because it's gotten so crappy. Meanwhile, MS Money displays its own array of inexcuseable bugs.

Unfortunately, it's difficult to come by versions of Quicken 2000 or earlier. It's too bad that GNUcash isn't available for Windows. It's been very good to me for my personal finances. Guess increasingly crappy products are the kinds of problems you run into when you create an artificial scarcity of goods.

I mean, these programs are so fucking bad I deleted free iso's I downloaded from Kazaa. The latest is definately not the greatest. If anyone knows of any alternatives, or good versions, please do tell.

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The Latest on "The O'Reilly Factor"

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 10 years ago

O'Reilly's Insulting Opinions on Personal Behavior

One of O'Reilly's latest talking-points memosdiscussed how the health-situation of the Pope and the disorganization of the Catholic Church is allowing the Secularist Movement to progress, unchecked. It is quite clear that O'Reilly does not agree with the Secularist movement at all, though he does not necessarily think that all of the things they advocate should be illegal. The Catholic Church, however, has a long list of things which it thinks should be illegal, and has proven to be incapable of distinguishing between what should be illegal and what it [The Church] thinks is immoral.

I. The Catholic Churh should deal with its own immoral behaviour before criticizing that of others

However, he has not been idolizing the Catholic Church, either. According to the the online transcript, O'Reilly had spent three days trying to find out why the Pope (and thus, the Catholic Church) has not acted more aggressively in combating sexual abuse by priests within the Church. The Catholic Church makes official declarations every day about how what everyone else is doing is immoral: Abortion, pre-marital sex, and contraceptives are immoral; abortion, the after-pill, and Planned Parenthood are immoral; prostitution, homosexuality, and incest are immoral; drugs, euthanasia, and smoking and drinking is immoral.

Yet, somewhere in The Bible, it said something about tending to the log in your own eye before the speck in another's. So, I suggest that, before the Catholic Church continues its war on the privacy rights of consenting adults, they clean up their own act. In that regards, what I ask is simple: that they get their priests to keep their fucking hands off of our kids. Priests, being in a position of implicitly understood trusts, have all the more violated their duties and the law when the rape little children. Thus, I suggest that the Church at least test individuals who are candidates for priest-hood for their likelihood to be pedophiles. I furthermore suggest that they institute a zero-tolerance policy towards Priests who rape children. If charges of child-molestation are brought before a Priest, the Church should suspend them from their duties and banish them from Church grounds, while the matter is ongoing. They could get paid for their suspension the same as normal salary, and be reinstituted into their position, if the charges are dropped or the priests are found not guilty. Obviously, the Church should decide if the charges had merit anyways, and if they were only dropped because of technicalities, should disenfranchise the priest. I suggest that they take a similar course of action for other crimes Priests may be accused of, such as sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, theft, and murder.

Furthermore, I suggest that the Church stop protecting criminals. If someone confesses something that is immoral, fine. The Church should keep tthat person's confidence. But if they confess something that is of a serious criminal nature (e.g., a felony), then the Church should report it. Being a Catholic should not allow you to get away with crimes. It is absurd to elevate religion so high that it is above the law, which is what it essentially is when individual's can confess to crimes like rape, murder, child-rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and expect confidence.

Now, you may say that the Church itself is not responsble for the actions of its members, nor of its followers. True. However, it is responsible for what it does once it finds out. The refusal of the Church to turn in admitted criminals is really just a move to gain more political power. Think about it. From a power-perspective, why would the Church turn in its own followers? That's no way to gain power. By offering amnesty to all criminals, the Catholic Church creates for itself a large following. The refusal of the Church to take serious and swift action to eliminate the pedophilia within its organization is, in fact, a mass cover-up action. Again, from a perspective of power, why would they add fuel to the flames? Their position has simply been to remain as low profile as possible, just ignore it as much as possible, and let it blow over.

II. What is disgusting may differ from what is immoral, which may differ from what is and should be illegal
*note: discussion of what is illegal is from a US-perspective

Now, on to the issues in question. O'Reilly states that [the secularist movement] aims to legalize "partial birth abortion, hard drugs, prostitution, and gay marriage". This is most certainly true, though other movements not under the ideal of secularism -- such as Libertarianism, a movement for people's rights -- also support these aims.

Something that religious factions often completely ignore, is that legality does not necessarily have anything to do with morality. Things that are disgusting may differ from things that are immoral, which may differ from things that are and should be illegal.. Is it immoral to drive at 40mph in a 30mph zone? Is it immoral to place a fence around the perimeter of your yard with the bad side facing your neighbor? Is it immoral to J-walk? Immoral to drive while talking on a cell-phone? None of those things are immoral. Yet, all of them are illegal. Now, you may not agree that all those things should be illegal, but the odds are, there are some things which you think should be illegal, but which are not immoral. Nor could they reasonably be considered disgusting. The common reason for making things illegal which are not immoral is that, if many people do them, the outcome can be diastrous (if many people drive much faster than the speed-limit, it could have dire consequences).

Now, the counter-point. Is going to a strip-club and lying to your wife about it illegal? Is adultery illegal? (the answer is, in 26 states yes, the rest no, but even in those 26 states, the laws haven't been enforced since WWII) What about cheating on a committed partner you're not married to? Is cursing someone out illegal? None of those things are illegal (or are not effectively illegal, in the case of adultery). Yet, you could reasonably consider all of those things to be immoral, and perhaps disgusting. You may not consider all of those things immoral (I don't). However, odds are, there are some things which you think are immoral, but yet that should not be illegal and punishable with the force of law. The common reason why some things which are typically considered immoral may not be illegal is that: (a) Reasonable people can disagree on their immorality; (b) They are not worth bothering with the taxpayers money or time; (c) To effectively illegalize them would involve draconian violations of human rights.

Finally, there are some things which are disgusting, yet which are not and should not be illegal. Do you consider eating cottage cheese to be disgusting? What about broccoli? Or brussel-sprouts? Maybe sushi? Or fried buffalo-balls? Anchovies? Odds are, you think that eating at least one of those things would be disgusting. However, it is neither immoral, nor illegal, nor should it be illegal, to eat any of those foods. Even if you don't think that eating any of those foods is disgusting, there are most certainly other things which you find disgusting, but do not think are immoral, nor think should be illegal.

III. Partial birth abortion, hard drugs, prostitution, and gay marriage are not immoral, nor should they be illegal

Now, when you apply the chain of thought I just developed to the long list of things that the Catholic Church disapproves of -- which apparently doesn't include child-rape -- it becomes clear that, even if you think all of those things are immoral and disgusting, that does not necessarily mean that any of them should be illegal. Indeed, there are many good arguments to be made for why none of these things are not immoral or disgusting, and should not be illegal.

A. Partial birth abortion, though it may be disgusting, is not necessarily immoral, nor should it be illegal.

There is little denying that partial birth-abortion is disgusting. It is not a procedure you would want to watch being done while you eat. Never-the-less, neither are lipo-suction, root-canals, or rectal exams things that could qualify as television suitable for watching on a tender stomach. Certainly, none of them are immoral or illegal. So, the fundamentalist scare-tactic that tries to convince people that partial birth abortion should be illegal by showing disgusting pictures is fallicious. Many things -- regurgitation, for example -- are disgusting, but not immoral, nor should they be illegal.

Now that that argument has been dispatched, we can proceed to immorality. Surely, if you believe that the foetus is a person and that the right to life is of paramount importance, then, if you are consistent, you must believe that partial birth abortion is immoral, must you not? Not necessarily. What the hard-line antagonists of partial-birth abortion often neglect to mention is that the vast majority of partial birth abortions are not elective, but are done for medical reasons -- the safety of the mother. Think about it -- why would anyone in their right mind wait out the first 6 months of pregnancy -- while abortion is safer than birth -- only to elect to have an abortion during the last 3 months in the 3rd trimester? They wouldn't. Alternatively, even if the abortion is elective, there are other rights aside from the right to life -- such as the right to body, which is under the law in cases of extreme duress, just as important as the right to life. Homocide is justifiable to protect the right of another to his or her body from extreme violation, such as rape, torture, assault, or child-molestation -- even if the offender can't help his or her violation of the vicitm (e.g., if the offender is insane).

In any event, even if you believe that elective partial birth abortion is immoral, that doesn't necessarily mean that it should be illegal. For one thing, it is an issue that, as one man said, "informed and well-intentioned individuals can reasonably disagree on". In another regard, the illegalization of it would be undesireable for other reasons. It would require massive violations of privacy, and would encourage women to take matters into their own hands, rather than consulting a professional -- which would mean that the abortions would still be taking place, but women would be at significant risk. Furthermore, should every woman having a partial birth abortion need to provide proof that it was medically necessary or adviseable? Doctor-patient confidentiality goes out the window, because the Cathoilc Church has issues with abortion?

B. Hard drugs, though they may be disgusting, are not necessarily immoral, nor illegal

There is no denying that what hard drugs can do to an individual is disgusting. For a powerful real-life example of how drugs can destroy a person, watch the dramatized biography, Gia, with Angelina Jolie playing Gia. A fictional movie, A Reqium for a Dream also paints an effectively horrifying picture. However, many things that are legal can destroy a person's life, and we must remember that it is ultimately individual action which destroy's his or her life, not drugs. Alcohol can cause one to kill others while driving, lose one's job, and generally become a complete failure in life. Smoking can cause one to experience a painful and torturous death. Yet, neither of these things are -- nor should be -- illegal. It is arguable that the reason the mafia persisted strong until the 90s is because of the ill-advised prohibition on alcohol in the 30s. We are seeing the negative effects of the government's insane taxation on cigarattes here in the US -- people go to Indian Reservations and buy trunk-loads full of cigarattes. The prohibition on drugs is also what keeps black-market associated crime strong in the US. The reason drug-dealers and drug cartels prosper is because drugs are illegal -- thus overpriced -- in the US. The last people who want to see drugs legalized are those who rely on selling drugs for their income. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that drugs shouldn't be regulated -- as is alcohol. One cannot drive while drunk, due to the effects of alcohol. Likewise, it would be reasonable to say one can't be stoned while in public, due to the dangers of hallucinations to others.

C. Gay marriages, though some may consider them disgusting and immoral, should not be illegal

The role of the state in marriages is not to condone some marriages as religiously acceptable or not. As a legal matter, the sole purpose of marriage is to join assets, create certain tax advantages (along with some draw-backs), and create official recognition that two people are "together". It has nothing to do with the union of two soles before god. Now, you may consider gay marriage -- and the implied gay sex -- to be disgusting. However, you may also consider many kinds of sex that occur between heterosexual husbands and wives to be disgusting (e.g., fisting), but yet not immoral, and certainly shouldn't be illegal. You may even consider it to be immoral, but that does not necessarily mean it should be illegal. You may also consider certain kinds of sex occuring between man and wife (again, fisting, anal sex, bondage, etc) to be immoral; but that does not necessarily mean that they should be illegal. Illegalizing them would require severe violations of privacy.

But, I've drifted a bit. The issue here is about homosexual marriage, not sex. Again, as a matter of law, marriage has nothing to do with the union of souls, eternity together, or any of those other religious connotations. As a matter of law, when the law considers you married, all that means is that you are treated as a different entity in terms of taxes, debts, loans, property, and so-on and so-forth. In most cases -- provided competent legal management by the married couple -- that treatment is beneficial (e.g., larger tax exemptions). So, the issue here is that it is undeuly prejudicial for the law to only allow this advantage for those who happen to be heterosexual.

D. Prostitution, while you may consider it disgusting and immoral, should not be illegal

I have made a case for why prostitution is not disgusting or immoral, and should not be illegal, in another article. You can click on "dh003i's stories" and find it. I will only make a few points. The opinion that prostitution is disgusting is purely subjective, and insubstantiatable. Even if you view it as disgusting from a health-hazard point of view, health-hazards associated with it can be avoided by practicing safe-sex. Some may find it immoral, because, they say, it encourages infidelity. Well, that is hardly the fault of the prostitute, if a husband or wife strays; nor can they reasonably be asked to query all clients for that knowledge, because clients would lie if they thought prostitutes wouldn't sleep with them because of marriage (so it's pointless). Other's have argued that it's immoral because it devalues women and is degrading to them. Never-the-less, many individuals have found extreme power from prostitution and other sex work (see FeministStripper and Prostitute's Network). Other's have argued that it reflects badly on all women. Yet, this is fallicious reasoning -- since when do the actions of a few members of a group generalize to the entire group? Individual's are responsible for their own actions only, not those of any others. Finally, even if one views it as being immoral beyond repair, that does not necessarily mean it should be illegal. The effects of illegalizing prostitution have been so harmful as to justify its legalization to ameliorate them.

IV. Why I still respect O'Reilly

Everyone is entitled to their opinion as to what they think is immoral, disgusting, and should be illegal. Yet, I particularly respect a man or woman who can say that, though they think something may be disgusting or immoral, it should not be illegal -- for both practical and human-rights reasons. It is important that individual's understand that that which may disgust them may not necessarily be immoral; that that which they think is immoral should necessarily be illegal; and that, for many things, equally informed and intelligent well-meaning individuals can disagree on the morality of. O'Reilly, who said that -- though he disagrees with the "libertine" philosophy -- he agrees with the Supreme Court's decision that sodomy laws are unconstitutional due to privacy violations.

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Krause the louse

dh003i dh003i writes  |  about 11 years ago

Welp, the wicked witch is metaphorically "dead".

Of course, Krause is known for his unforgivable blunders. He took a 6-time championship team and destroyed it by pushing Phil Jackson, then necessarily Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen out the door. He alienated Jordan and other Bulls team-mates by saying that "players don't win championships, organizations win championships". He put together a squad of losers after the winners left, and the Bulls have endured 5 seasons of total and complete crap.
It's a real shame that the Bulls dynasty was broken up. If they'd stayed together, they would have still been sure-picks for NBA champions for another 2 or 3 years. The LA Lakers would never have amounted to anything. And we wouldn't have to hear this bullshit Kobe Bryant being the next Michael Jordan.

But, Krause was also responsible for assembling the Bulls 6-time championship team. He inherited MJ, but brought in the rest of the pieces -- most importantly, Jackson and Pippen and later Rodman -- that made the Bulls champions. He had an incredible eye for talent. But the success of any team under Krause was surely limited, because he was a bumbler. He wasn't a people-person. Period. He often mis-spoke and was mis-interpreted, because he just didn't know how to say things right.

When he said, "players don't win championships, organizations win championships" what he really meant to say was that it was the combined effort of everyone in the Chicago organization -- players, coaches, management, janitors, doctors, masseuses, and so-one and so-forth -- that resulted in championship victories. He did not mean to take away from what MJ and Pippen and Jackson had accomplished, nor that the Bulls could have won a championship without them. What he meant was that the hard work of everyone on the team was necessary to win. That's true.

But he just didn't say it right. It came off sounding like he was trying to grab all the credit for himself and marginalize the monumental play of Jordan and Pippen, and marginalize the exceptional coaching of Phil Jackson. This is basically how Jordan, Pippen, Jackson, and the rest of the world took Krause' comments -- as marginalizing their critical and enormous contributions. This incident and a slew of others like it lead to the ever-increasing alienation of MJ, Pippen, and Jackson from Krause, and it's what destroyed one of the best dynasties in NBA history.

All of this was because of Krause' inability to effectively communicate and socialize with others in the organization. As I said, he simply was not a people-person. He also certainly wasn't media-presentable. Here was a short, fat, stubby, and quite frankly ugly guy, who had a knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, when he really meant to say the right thing at the right time. Really, what Krause needed was a personal translator and media-ist. Someone to translate from Krause => English. From what Krause means to something that the rest of us could have understood properly.

This is not to excuse what the guy did to the Bulls. He was undoubtedly responsible for the destruction of a dynasty, and just because it all resulted from years of miscommunication on his part doesn't excuse him of responsibility. Maybe he wasn't the grinch, but because he was so rough around the edges and such a poor communicator, that's the way he came accross to the rest of us, and that's all that mattered. So the flaw of Krause which destroyed the Bulls was not recognizing his own limitations. He was by no means a competent communicator, so he should have just shut up and stayed focused on acquiring talented personel. Because Krause never seemed to recognize that he was a worse communicator than Al Gore, that he was less inspiring than a log, that he mis-spoke almost every time he opened his mouth, the dismantling of the Bulls was inevitable.

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Freedom of speech threatened by chattel laws

dh003i dh003i writes  |  about 11 years ago

According to this article, the chattel laws have been used to shut down freedom of speech. A court has ruled that it is ok for an individual to be sued for sending "unwanted" e-mail to corporation employees. It should be noted that this "unwanted" e-mail is not e-mail that the employees didn't want, but e-mail that the corporation didn't want the employees to see, because it criticized the corporation. Even more disturbing than this, chattel laws have been used to stop competitors from gathering information for comparative pricing from competitor's websites. These types of things threaten the very fibre of the internet, which fundamentally relies on free linking, not requiring a web-owner's permission to link to his site, or any sub-site within it. This is what makes the net efficient and useful to users.

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Suggestions for New WM?

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 11 years ago I'm looking for a replacement for my current WindowManager in Debian GNU/Linux. Right now, I use PWM. Here's my criteria, with the most emphasis on those points regarding hide-away docks/etc, universal file menu, and tabbed windows, in that order.

  1. Tabbed windows. Notice in the screenshot, how the instances of Netscape are "tabbed" together, as are those of Xterm. Tabbed windowing is a great way to save desk space and switch between windows -- it even reduces the need for a "task bar" or "dock," either of which often shows you what windows are available. All windows in almost every WM I can think of have "title bar". Often, this title bar extends the length of the screen -- which wastes screen real-estate. Those that don't, and haved "tabbed windows" like BeOS, often don't take advantage of it. One should be able to arrange tabbed windows in a maximized form, like a configuration box. This allows many windows to be maximized at once, but yet gives us (the users) a way to easily switch between them -- just like in a control panel. Ideally, when all windows are maximized, there should be tabs for the application along the top of the screen, and tabs for the specific instance of that application running along the right hand side of the screen. I.e., the top of a screen would look something like this going accross -- Galeon, Rxvt, GIMP, OpenOffice, Pine; the left side of a screen, assuming Galeon in focus, would look something like this going accross, and with the text at 90 degrees -- Slashdot, InfoAnarchy, FreeIPX, WSJ. Furthermore, when tabbed windows are not maximized, instances of the same program should automatically be grouped into a horizontal tabbing. There should also be dynamically customizable tabbing of windows -- i.e., the user should be able to manually group certain windows together into tabs.
  2. Cascade retention. Part of the reason why things like minimization, tabbed windows, and docks were invented is because of crappy cascading. Cascading is great, until you decide to bring a window to focus at the middle of the cascade -- then the whole cascade is sent into anarchy. A cascade should be automatically retained, so that bringing one window in a cascade group to the front causes the others to be automatically rearranged to maintain the cascade, and not give you a sloppy mix-mosh. There are two ways in which the cascade can be rearranged (and retained) -- minimal rearrangement and order retention. Under minimial rearrangement, the only thing that changes is the window select -- it moves to the front and the right, while the others adjust to maintain the cascade: i.e., A, B, C, D, becomes A, B, D, C when window C is selected. Under order retention, the cascaded windows automatically retain their circular order when one is brought to the front: i.e., A, B, C, D becomes C, D, A, B when window C is selected.
  3. Window Arrangement. The user should have flexible choice on how to arrange his windows -- not to mention the ability to create his own window arrangement schemes and rules. There should be more than cascade, tile vertically, tile horizontally, maximize all, tab. There should be options like tile horizontally, with formats like 1,2 for 1 window on the top of the screen, 2 on the bottom. And so on and so forth. Users should also be able to define their own arrangements, as well as arrangement rules.
  4. Window Switching. Pressing ALT+TAB should switch between the different applications, ALT+~ between the various instances of the application in focus, and ALT+ESC between all windows. Pressing ALT+TAB repeatedly should allow one to switch from app to app, and should also bring up a temporary (so long as ALT is held down after TAB) menu, as such:

    1 App1 >
    2 App2 >
    3 App3 >
    4 App4 >

    In this menu system, pressing 1, 2, 3, or 4 could select the different apps, while the arrow keys could select a particular instance of the app which the highlight is over.

  5. Hard Focusing. I hate sloppy focusing. Sloppy focusing allows one to accidentally switch the focus from one window to another. You may say that's ok -- just switch it back. But its really annoying when one is typing.
  6. Automatic Cursor Movement. The mouse cursor should automatically move to the active application and the default location (i.e, default button). This saves the user alot of hand motion. The user should also be able to define automatic mouse movement; i.e., maybe the user doesn't want the mouse to automatically move to a certain program when launched.
  7. Complete Keyboard Control. One should not need a mouse at all. One should be able to completely control one's WM from the keyboard. By the way, the old menu/keyboard system was vastly superior to the new one. F1 should bring up menu 1, F2 menu 2, and so on and so forth; this will probably mean that F1 brings up File, F2 brings up edit, F3 View, etc. Why should the user have to press two buttons (i.e., ALT+F) when one (F1) will do?
  8. Minimization. Sometimes, we want to put a window away -- even though tabbed windowing is nice, sometimes we still want to minimize. Also, minimization should not be chaotic. Windows should minimize to a specific place, and preferrably that would be the dock -- not a separate minimization place, as is used for WindowMaker. This is the way minimization (and new programs not on the dock) are dealt with in MacOSX. Well, partly. When a window is minimized, it should go to its appicon on the dock. If there isn't an appicon for that program on the dock by default, one should be temporarily placed there when that application is run. Holding clicking on the appicon would bring up a list (iconified or not) of the various instances of that application running.
  9. Universal Hide-Away File Menu . Apple has seen the light of the universal file menu, so has lwm. Why hasn't anyone else? Its idiotic to have a separate menu for every window open, when one universal menu at the top of the screen will do. This saves alot of screen space. Also, to save more screen space, that menu should automatically hide away when the mouse isn't at the far top of the screen. This saves more screen space.
  10. Universal Hide-Away Toolbar. Just as its dumb for every window to have its own menu, its also dumb for every window to have its own toolbar. Why hasn't Apple figured that one out, you'd think it would be an obvious step along with making a universal file menu. This just wastes space. There should be a universal toolbar at the bottom of the screen for all programs, which would change when diffferent programs are brought into focus; alternatively, one could attach the universal toolbar to the universal file menu at the top of the screen, making them one “panel” and hide-away. Also, this universal toolbar should be hide-away, as is should the universal file menu.
  11. Unique features for Right/Middle Mouse Clicks. Idealy, right clicking should bring up options menus, while middle clicking would bring up program menus. Why make the user go to the menu, when the menu can come to the user? I.e., middle clicking would bring up the file menu for that program, while right clicking would bring up options for the thing that's being right clicked on.
  12. Root Menu . Should be brought up by middle click on the desktop. Should effectively be like the Apple Menu in OS X and the Start Menu -- provide alot of options/configurations, and all of the programs, utilities, and commands on your system.
  13. Pinnable Menus . Users should be able to stick menu's -- dynamically -- in places they like them. Menus, however, should not have a title bar -- that just wastes space. Hold middle clicking on a menu and dragging it should "pin it".
  14. Hide-Away Dock Docks are great, but they take up alot of space. Thus, they should hide away to the far left side of the screen, as can MacOSX's dock. Docks, however, should not shrink icons when there are many on them -- a "scroll down" feature (i.e., by hovering over a down arrow, or using the wheel button while over the dock) should be provided. By the way, while we're on docks, lets get rid of the squares in the WindowMaker like docks, and make the docks look more like OSX's dock -- not transparent, or animated, or that fancy stuff, but simply seamless, without the hard box-borders. Also, dragging a icon off of a dock should quit that program; middle clicking and dragging it off should remove that icon from the dock.
  15. Desktop. For the most part, docks make desktops completely obsolete. Some people feel that docks are bit too rigid -- they feel trapped by them. I can understand that, as in WindowMaker, the dock is all icons enclosed in a square -- this does make you feel kind of trapped; however, this need not be. But despite the nice ordered benefits of docks, sometimes it nice to be able to go crazy with a desktop -- though I'm not in favor of forced desktop chaos. More options than "auto arrange" and "clena up" should be provided for the desktop. Users should be able to create icon alignment templates -- to, for example, automatically align icons in A L-shape.
  16. Virtual Desktops. Sometimes, niceties like a dock for all applications running just aren't enough to manage what your doing. One may have several projects opened at once, and may want to organize them on entirely different "screens".
  17. Column file navigation. Ok, this really doesn't have to do with the WM -- more to do with the file-navigator. But, still, this type of file navigator is great. I do not, however, encourage people who make WM's to get into the MS crazyness and blurry the boundaries of what's what. But perhaps a suggestion, for example, to try out the column file navigator would be good. Maybe even a link to the download.
  18. Minimalism, minimal screen use, minimal resource utilization. None of these features require the WM to be a CPU/memory/hard-drive hog, nor do they require the WM to hog up screen space, nor do they require useless features like animation or the "X-clock". (clocks should be text-based). No one needs useless gadgets like the "resource graphs". A WM is not that cool; its not too sexy for me. I do not need to see it when I'm doing whatever I'm doing -- I need to see what I'm doing, not the WM. A good WM should be nearly transparent -- both in resource utilization and screen-space utilization.
  19. Open Source Software/Free Software. This one is so obvious I almost forgot to mention it. If a WM is to succeed, it needs to have the benefits of an Open Source Software / Free Software community. This prevents it from being locked into a proprietary format. It also ensures that anyone can contribute to the code, or just look at it to analyze it. This means it would be covered under the GPL, LGPL, BSD, licenses, or any other license certified by the Open Source Inititive of the Free Software Foundation.

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Quit slashdot today!

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 11 years ago I hope that at least some of my fans are reading this, but if not I'll be sending an e-mail to all of my fans that I can.. I recently read an article titled, Quit Slashdot Today and basically agreed with it. Slashdot is filled with a non-thinking, group-think mentality, overseen by a dictatorship of editors, who decide which stories get accepted and which one's don't. The moderation system is insanely complex.

But the main reason I'm advocating you quit Slashdot is because we have no control over what articles get accepted. As you can note by reading a previous journal entry of mine, the most important scientific breakthrough of the year (RNAi) was rejected as an article, while complete bullshit about man's latest banal voyage into space was accepted.

I suggest that you all go to Kuro5hin instead. Kuro5hin lets everyone moderate any comment, except their own. I think this is much better than Slashdot's "let a few moderate, and then metamoderate": the law of the averages will eventually cancel out the negative effect of those who moderate unfairly. Trusted moderators can moderate troll comments down to 0 (the lowest level). Editors can also delete troll, flame, and spam comments. The best part is -- the users decide what articles get posted in the various sub-sections, and which of those get put on the front page! It isn't subject to the ad-hoc preferences of some narrow-minded editor. There is also a nice editorial feature, which allows you to receive feedback on your submitted story and modify it for 2 hours after submission, or to get feedback from the editors before posting it. This way, you're story improves. And if it's rejected, you can improve on it and resubmit it.

Another nice thing is there's a gripe section for meta-comments specically about Kuro5hin, where people can voice their requests, complaints, concerns, etc.

The other thing I like about Kuro5hin is that there is a specific subsection for diary entries...so you're diary entries go into that subsection, where the entire community has easier access to them (just as easy access to them as any other subsection). This means more people will read your journal entries.

My overall impression of Kuro5hin is that it is much more democratic than Slashdot, that better stories get put on that site, and that better comments go there.

I might still check in on Slashdot once in a while, but I doubt I'll find anything of interest. Most of the time, few of the things put up interested me in the first place, because they were so banal, or so restricted to topics I'm not particularly interested in. That's the other nice part about Kuro5hin: it covers a broader scope, including a subsection for politics.

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An erotic/comic poem

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 11 years ago

I wrote this a while ago. I had fun writing it, and think its a little bit funny, a little bit erotic, and a little bit nasty/taboo. Nothing of any significance.

  • THE SISTERS AND THEIR FRUIT
    a poem

    The Goblins had already won
    Had their impious fun:
    The rape was over and done.
    Two Sister's sat beneath a peach tree
    Hoping to again be free.
    One raped at fourteen
    Her Sister sixteen

    So...

    The elder and younger sister
    They looked at the fruit as if a mister;
    One sister got behind the other
    Their feminine feathers did flutter;
    The young one grasped the fruit
    Giving it a cute coot
    Holding it to elder sister's mouth
    Who liked the idea and looked down South.

    She licked her tongue round her lip
    Then gave the fruit a quaint quip;
    Her tongue did lick round the peach
    Lips dining, sucking like a leach;
    That peach, she did embrace with her lips
    Warm juice aflow down her body in drips;
    Its aroma flowed to her nose
    Reminding her of a sweet rose.

    The juice in her mouth was savoring
    Similar to honey flavoring;
    It became one with her tongue
    Which had been in heaven flung.

    She swallowed:
    Joy followed:
    Longed for more
    Longed
    With much ardour;

    She took another look, another bite;
    That then, that when, felt as if in a flight;
    Again, her teeth would chew
    Again, her soul was anew.

    She was too new to this fruit
    It made a sound like a flute
    As she sucked. She would not rush
    Not make Sister fuss and blush;
    No, she would take a lazy pace
    Eating from her sister with grace.

    Her tongue felt a tickle
    Lingering and fickle:
    'Twould come and go
    As a grape sway-
    ing to and fro;
    The taste of this fruit savored;
    This, the fruit Sister favored.

    This, the first white peach tasted
    This, the first time not wasted;
    She took another bite; three bites now:
    'Twould end before Sister would alow!
    She slowed her passionate pace
    Slowing down a now slow race
    Each moment, long lasted
    Sisters' lust, not fasted.

    Her senses in light joy delight
    Delight in the texture, so slight;
    Her passions consumed her
    Making her life a blur;
    Her teeth enchanted in another chunk
    Her satin tongue having plenty of spunk.

    She thought the fruit her life:
    Life with Sister, no strife;
    The fruit, her waning ecstasy
    A dream of lilacs
    Of birds in flocks, of fantasy;
    And so she ate the fruit with heat
    Vowing never again to eat red meat.

    She ate from Sister's comely hand
    Ate, with more supply than demand;
    She could eat Sister's fruit forever
    Never minding the sun, rain, or wind;
    This, that joy waiting for existence
    This, that joy pursued with persistence.

    She wouldn't let
    Sister's fruit go
    It pleased her so;
    In her watering mouth she felt its Heat,
    A Heat whose temptation she couldn't beat;
    It was so pleasing she had to yell out
    For who could avoid an ecstatic shout?
    This fruit, her sister, where her love lay:
    This, a sparkling, crystal-clear bay.

    She sucked and sucked, more and more
    Taken in by Sister's ardour;
    She licked and licked and licked
    For Sister's juices were
    Slick slick slick!

    And Sister's juices ran down her mouth
    Down her mouth and down her chin
    Down her neck and between her breasts
    Down her breasts, over her stomach
    Lower and lower to her
    Southern Valley of warmth.

    So that juicy fruit was slowly eaten
    And when gone she felt beaten.

    So she raised herself up to her poor sister;
    That soul, raped by many a mister;
    Gave her a light kiss on the cheek
    As into her bruised soul did she peek.

    She saw sombre sadness in those eyes:
    They seemed to say
    "Is that all,
      Have you no more love,
      Only her demise?";
    Those eyes, where sadness lay.

    So, she plucked a fruit, held it to her mouth
    Hoping for her younger Sister to go down South.

Ok, so I got bored.

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Slashdot editor's priorites way out of wack

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Ok, before I start, I want to ask you to decide. Small RNAs Make Big Splash, [free registration required] an article on Science, discussing what Science thinks to be the most important scientific break-through of the year (RNAi); or Kosmotras Launches Again ? Which one do you think is more deserving to be on Slashdot under the Science section?

I'll tell you: Small RNAs Make Big Splash. This is considered the most important scientific break-through of the year, and will have long-lasting implications in research, medicine, and our understanding of cellular biology. It's a 10 on the richter scale. Kosmotras launches again? Maybe a 1.

I submitted Small RNAs Make Big Splash to the Slashdot editors and they rejected it. Normally, I don't gripe about stories being rejected. My submissions get rejected all the time -- fine. In fact, only one of my submissions has been accepted, the one on Craig Ventor using his own DNA for Celera's human genome sequencing. That article, though interesting, was not significant at all, and did not compare to my latest submission.

Reject my stories? Fine. I don't care: alot of them aren't important. Reject the most important scientific break-through of the year in favor of some boring, worthless, and trivial announcment about man's latest banal voyages into space (which has not generated a lot of comment)? Not fine.

Well, tell me what you think. Am I right, or out of line?

PS: Even prior to reading this article, I've done some reading regarding RNAi, and now I'm doing a little bit more. As you will note from my previous journal post, RNAi may have many beneficial uses. I'll read a few more articles, and post a brief review of the RNAi phenomena, its role in cellular processes, its possible use in scientific experiments, and its possible use in medical treatments.

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Of Michael Jordan and Evander Holyfield

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 10 years ago

I'd like to let it be known, first off, that I'm a big fan of both Michael Jordan and Evander Holyfield. Then again, who isn't?

But what I'm not, nor is the rest of the public, is their personal adviser.

I'm getting very sick of people saying "Jordan shouldn't have come back from retirement," or "he should have retired again after the first year". I also get sick of people saying, "Evander Holyfield is over the hill: he needs to retire before he ends up like Ali."

I've never been a fan of telling someone who's career and life has been sports to retire and move on, just because they aren't what they once used to be: aren't quite as fast, strong, durable, or endurant. Is this how we treat great men who have given the game or the sport everything they've got? Apparently so.

Apparently so, and it disgusts me. You don't hear Michael Jordan or Evander Holyfield telling the reporters in the press that they're over the hill and should quit their job, move on, do you? No, because it's not their business. Nor is when MJ or Holyfield retire any of our business, nor do we have a say in it.

What really angers me is the arrogance of some of these column writers, presuming to give personal advice to athletes. You know what I'm talking about, the never-ending comments like, "Michael, please retire for your own good," or "Holyfield, please retire before you end up like Ali." As if either of these men -- or any athlete -- should base his decision on whether or not to continue playing on the opinion of some unworthy reporter who makes his or her living by leaching off of other people's greatness.

The simple fact is, in their respective sports, MJ and Evander are among the 10 best athletes ever. I'd say there's a good argument to make for each of them being the best ever in their respective sports. Aside from being among the greatest all-time, these two men share two more things in common: miles and miles of heart and a love for their sports, things which are sorely missing in the NBA and boxing these days. I'd rather watch either of them at age 40 than the rest of the NBA or the boxing world at 25.

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Search for good music?

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 11 years ago

If anyone's reading this, I'd like to know the names of some of the street music in Paris and Venice. For those of you that don't know, street music is the romantic music that you'll hear on the streets of Paris and Venice. Indianna Jones and The Last Crusade features one scene which had some of Venice's street music.

Another thing I'm looking for is violin implementations of Beethoven's great piano pieces (and other piano pieces). I have downloaded a version of Fuer Elise played on the violin -- lovely. I'd love to have a version of the three parts to the Moonlight Sonata in violin (it'd be interesting to see the 3rd movement of the Moonlight Sonata played on violin).

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OggVorbis support on "MP3-player" firmware?

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Idea

  • Ogg is a great file-format. IMO, its much better than MP3 and WMA, both from my personal experience and from studies I've read. It provides better quality at lower bitrates. It sounds more like real music. Best of all, its better for the kind of music that I love: Classical.

    That's not to say I don't like all kinds of other music -- I love Morris Day and Wilson Picket, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, and Shania Twain and Celine Dion. In short, I like a whole array of different types of music, almost everything, even a little country (I even like Johnny Cash). But the vast majority of music I like -- if only because there's so much of it -- and the music I can listen to again and again, is Classical, particularly Beethoven. And Ogg is particularly good at Classical, whereas MP3 and WMA tend to screw it up.

    Despite Ogg's virtues, it has one critical flaw which prevents me from using it in practicality: it isn't suppoerted by my MP3-player, the RioVolt SP100. I've asked SonicBlue (makers of RioVolt) to consider adding Ogg-support, but they've (predictably) not responded to me. This thing cost me some 150 bucks, and I'm not going to spend another some hundred bucks to get another one that supports Ogg (if there even is an MP3-player that supports Ogg).

    So what I suggest is that the folks at OggVorbis work on making a firm-ware upgrade which allows RioVolt (the most popular MP3-players) to play Ogg files. Any comments?

Responses from Companies

  • Frontier Labs
    Dear Sir,

    We are pleased to inform you that we are working on Ogg Vorbis for the NEX
    II/IIe and our upcoming new player NEX ia. Expected release date for the
    Ogg Vorbis firmware for NEX II/IIe is 2nd qtr, 2003.

    Thank you.

    Customer Support
    Frontier Labs.

    Evolution Technologies
    Evolution Technologies, Inc. is committed to support our consumers music appetite. We
    will support the formats that are consistent with both their desires and good
    business practices. While we have not ruled out supporting "open source"
    formats, we must first evaluate the acceptance levels with the buying public so that
    our organization can justify the expense of developing a new compatible CODEC. When
    the demand is sufficient, we will support the technology

    Jesse Meyer
    Director of Business Development
    Evolution Technologies Inc.
    919.544.3777
    http://www.nowevolution.com
    'Evolution Through Technology'

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Robbed at gunpoint!

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Introduction:

  • While walking home today at about 6:00, I was robbed at gunpoint by three men, and a fourth accomplice in a car. Though this was disturbing, I was rather fortunate: (1) I did not have my wallet on me; (1) I was completely unharmed; (2) No personally identifying information was on me; (4) I only lost 20 bucks; (5) My jacket, which I was wearing, was not stolent: thus, I walked home in relative comfort. However, I am, unfortunately, set back 20 bucks -- which is one less private dance at the strip club.

Fact Summary:

  • I commute between my university and my home, about 20 minutes away walking. Normally, I get a ride to and from the university, but once in a while I walk. I walk from the university to my house through a park between the two, on a road going through the park. When I was about half-way home, a somewhat old black or blue boxy car pulled in front of me, pulled over to the right, and turned off the headlights. Behind the car, three men were walking, covering the entire width of the road.

    They were wearing hooded sweaters, and were either black or hispanic -- it was too dark to tell. They walked up to me, asked me for the time, then pointed a gun at the back of my head. One of them searched my pockets and stole my house & car keys. Another said "check his bag" and told me to get any money I had in the bag. I put the bag on the ground and took out twenty dollars which I had in it. While doing this, one of them said "hurry up". After I gave them the money, they walked back to the car, telling me to "keep walking the way I was walking before", and drove off in the opposite direction.

    Fortunately, I had no personally identifying information on me, nor my wallet, nor any money in excess of 20 dollars and house/car keys. I feel fortunate, however, that I had 20 dollars to appease them. I also feel fortunate in that my jacket was not stolen, in which case I would have had to walk another 10 minutes at 0 degrees in a normal shirt.

    When I got home and reported the armed robbery, calling 911, I was told I had to go into the city and call 911 from there. I live in the suburbs, but the crime took place in an area that is technically part of the city. So the city police had jurisdiction. However, I was told that I had to go to a city-area to report it to the city-police. Eventually, someone put me through to the city police, and I told them. We met at a location on the university and I filed the report.

    The initial crime happened at approximately 6:15PM or so. I called 911 when I got home at 6:30. They gave me the jurisdictional run-around, and then put my through to the city police: it was probably 6:45 by them. By the time I had contacted the police face-to-face, it was about 8:30PM. By the time I had finished filing the police report, it was about 9:20PM. The perpetrators could have been on the expressway and on their way to Syracuse while I was going through all these jurisdictional issues.

Discussion:

  • I am proud to say that I did not panic and freak out. Rather, I calmly handed them what they requested. I am also most-pleased with myself that -- despite facing a situation where I very well could have been killed -- I did not succumb to some kind of religious cowardice, praying to god that he save me. I realized that like in all other situations, I had some control over my fate. That is, by calmly doing as was requested of me, I did not alarm or agitate my assailants. I am also somewhat pleased with myself that I handled the situation rather stoically: there was no sense dwelling on that which I could not control, but only on that which I could. If they shot me, they shot me: the ultimate act was beyond my control. However, I did exert some influence in my favor by remaining stoically calm, though breathing heavier.

    That said, I would not have been happy to die. I have not yet done enough in my life to label it a finished work as-is. For example, I have not contributed enough to the causes -- that is, both economic and social freedom and rights -- which I care about. I have not yet done enough in my field -- molecular biology -- to be happy calling it a lifetime's worth of work. Nor have I had enough sex yet to be satisfied calling it a "lifetime's worth of sex". Thus, I am in some way grateful that this has happened to me, as it has given me some perspective on time. Now is the time to contribute to the causes I care about; the time to come through with scientific results in the molecular genetics of S. cerevisiae; the time to have the sex of a lifetime.

    If today was your last day alive, would you be happy with what you've made of today?

    PS: The cops who I talked to were very polite and did their job as best as they possibly could, given my vague description. But it really annoys me that these type of crooks could be caught by having police officers walk around as decoys, and arresting people who attempt to rob them. For example, have a cop walk through areas like this in layman's clothes, and other cops hiding nearby. This type of tactic could also be used to catch other violent criminals, like rapists, by using decoys. But they only use these bait-'n-catch tactics on prostitutes, who harm no one. The street-walkers in the city aren't threatening me or anyone else, but these violent criminals are. I'd suggest that the PD's get their priorities in order. I don't know who sets these priorities, but who-ever it is should get their priorities straight. Of course, it's alot more dangerous using these techniques to catch real criminals, who probably have weapons, than to catch prostitutes, who are defenseless and pose little or no threat.

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Suggestion to Libertarians

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Ok, maybe this is a little bit meant to be funny. But, hey, it could work if we all became procreation machines.

Idea

  1. The Free State Project is great. However, I think I have a better suggestion to Libertarians who want to have a Libertarian government: be fruitful and multiply -- alot. Have 10 kids or so, and raise them to be libertarians. Right now, there are ~300,000,000 Americans in the US. Libertarians probably account for 1% of the US -- that is, 3,000,000 people. So, let me make a few assumption and predictions.

Assumptions

  1. Successful Libertarian couples produce 10 children in 10 years. That is, 5 children per person.
  2. Meanwhile, the average copule produces 4 children. That is, 2 children per person.

Predictions

  1. First generation. The population of Libertarians grows 5x, from 3million to 15million. Meanwhile, the rest of the population grows 2x, from 300million to 600million.
  2. Second generation. The population of Libertarians grows another 5x, from 15million to 75million. Meanwhile, the rest of the population grows 2x, from 600million to 1200 million.
  3. Third generation. Libertarians: 75mil to 375mil. Rest of population: 1200mil to 2400mil.
  4. Fourth generation. Libertarians: 375mil to 1875mil. Rest of population: 2400mil to 4800mil.
  5. Fifth generation. Libertarians: 9375mil. Rest of population: 9600mil.

Thus, it has taken only five generations (about a century, assuming consistent reproduction of 1 child per year from 20 years to 30years of age). Thus, in a century, Libertarians will outnumber those who don't hold Libertarian values. So, the key to a Libertarian and free future -- where your rights are respected -- is to have lots and lots of sex. Could you think of a more pleasureable way to produce a free future? Rather than trying to out-debate freedom-stealing Democrats and Republicans, we should out-fuck them.

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The Aging Brain and Dietary Restriction

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Introduction

  • Dietary restriction (DR) is a diet in which animals are fed 40% fewer calories, and is the most reliable way to lengthen life span and reduce deterioration in old age. Recent experiments show that DR ameliorates age-associated protein damage and cognitive- and motor-function degradation (i.e., spontaneous locomotion, sensorimotor coordination, and active avoidance learning degradation). DR may ameliorate behavioral deterioration because of its ability to reduce free radical (FR) concentrations as FR accumulation in aging mice (fed ad libitum [AL], a normal diet) appears to cause cognitive and motor deterioration.

Free Radical Generation and Neutralization

  • FRs are highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons. FRs include superoxide, hydroxyl, hydrogen peroxide, alkoxyl, and nitric oxide. FR sources include extracellular sources of oxidant species from Maillard reactions and glycosylation; dehydrogenases and oxygenases; and oxidases (Freeman, 1984; Kristal and Yu, 1992). Mitochondria, microsomes, and peroxisomes are primary FR sources in the cell (Yu, 1996). Because of the brain's demanding energy needs, it is mitochondria-rich and thus particularly vulnerable to FR and oxidative damage. The production of superoxide (SO), a highly reactive FR, is organ-dependant, but highest in the brain (Sawada et. al., 1992). Dopamine deamination in the brain also produces toxic metabolites, including hydrogen peroxidase (Archer and Harrison, 1996). FR accumulation in turn leads to protein damage in the cell.

    Enzymatic and dietary antioxidants neutralize FRs. Dietary antioxidants include Vitamin E, 2-Mercaptoethylamine, Santaquin, Tocopherol-p-chlorophenoxyacetate, d-Tocopherol, and Sulfhydrl agents (Yu, 1996). Enzymatic antioxidants include catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase (SOD) [Wickens, 2001].

The Aging Brain and DR's Ameliorating Effect

  • FR levels are empirically determined by ascertaining the extent of oxidative protein damage in brain tissue. Whole brain homogenates of old mice relative to young mice display an increase in protein oxidative damage, as indicated by protein carbonyl content (Dubey et. al., 1996). Oxidative damage in old mice varies between different brain-regions. The greatest increase is in the striatum, then cortex, midbrain, hippocampus, cerebellum, and finally hindbrain, where there is no significant increase with age. While the striatum displays the greatest increase, the hippocampus has the greatest amount of oxidative damage in young and old mice, as indicated by protein carbonyls. Decreased membrane protein sulfhydryl content, another measure of protein damage, shows that protein damage is uniform across different brain regions, except the hippocampus, which displays no change (Dubey et. al., 1996). Uniform sulfhydryl content indicates that different regions of the brain are susceptible to various forms of protein damage. Generally, the brains' of aged mice exhibit more oxidative protein damage; thus, FR levels are higher than in young mice.

    DR mice display lower oxidative protein damage levels in old age relative to AL mice (Dubey et. al., 1996). Protein carbonyl content in the whole brain of old DR mice (relative to old AL mice) indicates that DR attenuates oxidative protein damage. DR produces the greatest attenuating effect on the striatum, where oxidative damage increase is the greatest with age; and lesser so in the cerebellum, midbrain, cortex, and hippocampus. Conversely, no significant attenuating effect is observed in the hindbrain, where there is no oxidative damage increase with age. The reduced protein sulfhydryl reduction in DR versus AL mice is roughly uniform across different brain regions of old mice, except for the hippocampus, where DR produces no ameliorative effect.

    Studies on DR and AL mice also reveal that DR attenuates age-related deteriorations in avoidance learning capacity, motor performance, and spontaneous locomotion (Dubey et. al., 1996). Active avoidance learning deteriorates in AL mice, but DR retards that deterioration. Likewise, coordinated running ability deteriorates in AL mice, but DR retards that deterioration. Finally, spontaneous locomotion decreases in AL mice, but not in DR mice.

    Aging mice display deterioration of learning and memory capacity, motor coordination, and spontaneous locomotion (Forster et. al., 1996). The deterioration rate varies and occurs independently for different functional losses. As protein carbonyl content indicates, cognitive impairment correlates with increasing protein damage in the cortex, while motor deficits correlate with increasing protein damage in the cerebellum and hindbrain (Forster et. al., 1996). In addition, cognitive deficits do not correlate with motor deficits and that protein damage in one brain region does not correlate with damage in other regions. Hence, protein damage varies in different brain regions (Forster et. al., 1996). Confirming Forster et. al. (1996) and Dubey et. al. (1996), Ingram et. al. (2001) show decreasing locomotion in rhesus monkeys with aging; however, Ingram et. al.'s (2001) results are mixed with respect to the ameliorating effect of DR on decreasing locomotion with age.

    Consistent with other results, Carney et. al. (1994) find an accumulation of protein oxidation in the aging brain, which correlates with decreasing cognitive performance, cytoskeletal function, and creatine kinase and glutamine synthase activity. Manipulations that increase reactive oxygen species (ROS) worsen oxidation-related effects, while those that decrease ROS concentration ameliorate such effects. Hence, Carney et. al. (1994) provide strong support for the theory that protein damage is a cause of brain aging and behavioral deterioration. Thus, it is likely that the ameliorating effects of DR are partially due to DR's ability to reduce FR concentration.

    Discerning the effects of DR, Prolla (2002) uses microarrays to determine the gene expression profiles of old DR and AL mice. Gene expression profiles of old AL mice suggest reduced neural plasticity and neurotrophic support, oxidative stress, and inflammatory response; however, profiles of old DR mice indicate that DR attenuates age-associated increases in stress responses and inflammatory protein production (Prolla, 2002).

    Several conclusions regarding protein damage in aging mammals and the deterioration of motor- and cognitive-function, as well as the ameliorating effect of DR, can be made. (1) Age-related protein oxidative damage varies in different brain-regions. (2) DR ameliorates age-associated deterioration of behavioral functions and some types of oxidative protein damage, prominently in regions that display heavy oxidative damage with age. (3) Brain aging, cognitive function deterioration, and oxidative damage correlate; suggesting a possible causation in which FR oxidative stress promotes protein damage and causes brain aging and behavioral deterioration. (4) Varying levels of protein oxidative damage may be the cause of individual variations in age-related deterioration. (5) Age-related decline of motor and cognitive-function progress independently and involve oxidative damage to different brain regions. Further studies on the deterioration of cognitive- and motor-function in DR and AL monkeys are needed.

Dietary Restriction Ameliorates Cognitive Decline Caused by Free Radical Accumulation

  • In aging animals, various cognitive and motor functions deteriorate, and oxidation-stress induced protein damage increases. As oxidative stress damages nucleic acids, lipids, and proteins, it may cause brain function deterioration (Mattson et. al., 2001). The precise relationship between damage at the molecular level and functional deterioration at the behavioral level is not understood; however, widespread damage at the molecular level causes deterioration at the behavioral level.

    DR may ameliorate brain function deterioration through several mechanisms. DR up-regulates cellular stress proteins, which protect neurons against excitotoxic and oxidative damage. For example, DR rats display higher cellular stress protein (HSP-70) levels in the brain than do AL rats (Mattson et. al., 2001). DR also increases neurotrophic factor (e.g., BDNF) concentration in the brain, which increases antioxidant enzyme (e.g., Bcl-2) concentrations and other oxidative stress suppressor concentrations (Mattson et. al., 2001). Furthermore, DR may increase the survival of newly generated neural cells in the brain (Mattson et. al., 2001).

    DR affects oxidative stress reduction and up-regulates FR scavenging proteins and other oxidative stress suppressors. AL rat livers exhibit greater production of superoxides and hydroxy radicals compared to DR rats of the same age. Correspondingly, DR rat livers display greater mitochondrial and cytosolic SOD activity. Thus, DR reduces FR accumulation in the liver (Lee and Yu, 1990). As the effects of DR are specific to the mitochondria and cytosol, such effects may be present in mitochondria-rich brain tissue. DR partially prevents age-related decreases in glutathione reductase, glutathione peroxidase, and catalase. Furthermore, DR reduces SO and hydrogen FR levels in liver mitochondrial and microsomal membranes.

    Summarily, DR affects biochemical composition at the cellular level: (1) Reduces age-related decreases in mitochondrial oxidation of malondialdehyde and allows better removal of oxidative byproducts in DR rats (Yu and Chen, 1994); (2) Affects the antioxidant defense systems by modulating age-related changes in ascorbic acid, catalase, GSH, GSH-PX, GSH reductase, and GSH transferase (Yu, 1996); (3) Decreases the production of toxic metabolites (e.g., hydrogen peroxide) in the brain from dopamine deamination (Archer and Harrison, 1996); (4) Reduces DNA oxidative modification in aging animals and humans (Mullaart et. al., 1990; Inoue et. al., 1993). DR ameliorates the age-related deterioration of brain function by reducing the production of FRs and up-regulating the antioxidant defense system, reducing widespread damage in brain-tissue at the molecular level.

Conclusion

  • Age-related cognitive- and motor-function declines correlate with increasing oxidative protein damage. Furthermore, oxidative protein damage is probably the cause of age-related cognitive- and motor-function deterioration. Interestingly, different regions of the brain are subject to different types of oxidative damage. Furthermore, oxidative damage in various brain-regions correlates with behavioral deterioration in the behavior that the region regulates. Future studies may lend further support to the theory that oxidative protein damage is the cause of the various behavioral changes; and show the various gene-expression changes that occur in aging AL versus DR animals, as well as how those gene-expression profiles change in response to increased oxidative stress and other factors. At the molecular level, further studies on the effects of aging and DR on FRs and antioxidants are needed. In the future, primate studies may be beneficial, as primates are closely related to humans.

Don't worry, references are coming. I have to scan them in.

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RNAi or asRNA as a medical treatment

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 11 years ago

idea in progress...facts and research to come

Well, I guess I haven't told anyone here what I do for a living -- I research molecular genetic on S. cerevisiae, a yeast. Anyways, because I'm a biologist, I take great interest in various biological developments. Most prominent among them is RNAi/asRNA.

RNAi is anti-sense mRNA: an RNA transcript of the non-coding strand of DNA. Because of its complementarity with mRNA, it hybridizes to mRNA, forming double-stranded RNA. This effectively prevents that gene's mRNA product from being translated into a protein. Thus, RNAi can be used to prevent the translation of mRNA -> protein for specific proteins.

With this in mind, it occured to me that RNAi could have a use in treating HIV, for example. HIV, as all of you know, is human immuno defeciency virus: It's a retrovirus, its genome encoded by RNA, not DNA. Once it enters the cell, its genome is reverse-transcribed by by its reverse transcriptase -- a polymerase which uses RNA as a template to make DNA. The HIV DNA is then incorporated into the genome by an Integrase, and then goes through a dormant phase, before it eventually activates and spreads. If you're interested in the HIV life-cycle, here's my summary (summarized from HIV1: 15 Proteins and an RNA) [this requires some knowledge of biology to understand].

  1. Viral transcripts expressed the promoter with Tat (a protein) greatly enhancing the rate of transcription.
  2. Regulated by Rev, spliced and genomic-length RNAs transported from nucleus to cytoplasm, where may be translated or packaged.
  3. Viral mRNAs translated in cytoplasm; Gag and Gag-Pol polyproteins become localize to cell membrane. Env mRNA translated at ER.
  4. Core particle assembled from Gag and Gag-Pol polyproteins, Vif, Vpr, Nef, and genomic RNA; immature virion starts budding from cell surface. To provide SU and TM proteins for outer membrane coat during budding, Env polyprotein released from complexes with CD4 (cell surface HIV-1 receptor), coexpressed with Env in the ER
  5. Vpu assists by promoting CD4 degradation.
  6. Env transported to cell surface, where its prevented from binding ti CD4.
  7. Nef promotes endocytosis and degradation of surface CD4.
  8. Particle buds and releases from SU- and TM-coated cell surface.
  9. Virion matures.
  10. TM undergoes conformational change, promoting virus-cell membrane fusion, allowing entry of core into cell.
  11. Virion core then uncoated, exposing viral nucleoprotein complex, containing MA, RT, IN, Vpr, and RNA.
  12. Complex transported to nucleus.
  13. Genomic RNA reverse transcribed by RT into partially duplex linear DNA.
  14. IN catalyzes integration of viral DNA into host chromosome and DNA repaired. Virus life-cycle now complete.

Note that HIV has only nine genes, encoding 15 proteins. To my knowledge, the 15 proteins encoded by the HIV genome have little homology to any proteins in the host, H. sapiens. Thus, using RNAi -- which blocks the translation of its complementary strand to protein -- one could block the synthesis of all HIV proteins, effectively preventing HIV from carrying out its life-cycle beyond integration with the human genome.

The problem with this is that HIV, like everything else, evolves. One solution to this might be to use RNAi to all of the HIV-proteins, making evolutionary adaptations more difficult. Another problem is there are many different strains of HIV, thus you would need to PCR amplify and sequence the HIV DNA from any infected person. Another problem is how to administer the RNAi, and the possible cost implications. I believe RNAi is expensive -- but then again, so are any other "treatments" for AIDS. This is a treatment, not a cure.

Just in case you're wondering, this is not just a bunch of hand-waiving I'm doing here. This is a real prospect, which others have written on and thought of before me. Take a look at my refs. I plan on writing more on this topic.

RNA interference--a new weapon against HIV and beyond. N Engl J Med 2002 Oct 24;347(17):1364-7.

Frankel AD, Young JA. HIV-1: fifteen proteins and an RNA. Annu Rev Biochem 1998;67:1-25.

Shahabuddin M, Khan AS. Inhibition of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 by packageable, multigenic antisense RNA. Antisense Nucleic Acid Drug Dev 2000 Jun;10(3):141-51

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Stop sexual mutilation!

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 11 years ago

(incomplete)

Introduction:

  • We've heard horror stories about female circumcision in third world countries. This is true, and its terrible. Worse, is the fact that the US government doesn't accept fear of sexual mutilation of a grounds for granting refuge to the US. This is a horrible unjustified procedure, which is a fundamental violation of human rights, and the greatest exertion of sexism and tyranny that is possible.

    Yet, what is commonly ignored is that here in the US, our own sexual mutilation massacre is occuring. For some reason, many argue that "female circumcision is a human rights violation" but ignore the fact that so is male circumcision. Both are, in short, forms of sexual mutilation. The perpetuation of male circumcision in the US is most likely the result of paranoid Christian views shunning masturbation. As has been proven by previously uncircumcised men who have been circumcised, circumcision decreases sexual pleasure and sensitivity for men. All men who have been circumcised report decreases in sensitivity. Thus, male circumcision is a form of sexual mutilation, which diminishes sexual pleasure and is painful, just as is female circumcision.

    Some may argue that because the baby doesn't remember being circumcised, its ok. This is a red herring. A baby also wouldn't remember a doctor masturbating on top of it -- yet this is a criminal action. A woman passed out drunk doesn't remember if she's raped, but yet that's illegal too. Simply because the victim will not remember the crime against him or her does not mean that that crime is acceptable.

    Others may argue that this is a religious issue (i.e., part of the Jewish religion) and that it is a choice for parents to make. While we have freedom of religion in this country, that freedom does not grant one the right to violate other's rights. Freedom of religion does not give me the right to use you as a human sacrafice. Freedom of religion also should not give parents the right to violate their children's rights -- performing a painful medical procedure on them without their consent. This is a life-altering decision which parents make, one which will affect their children for the rest of their lives, which their children had no control over and may subsequently wish had not been performed on them.

    No studies have shown that circumcised penises are cleaner than uncircumcised ones, of offer any health benefits on average.

    This entire foreskin issue is really just one giant example of the fallacy of ad populum, the fallacy is/ought, and the fallacy ad verecundum. Just because something is popular, is the current status, and has been so for a while, does not make it right.

    What if parents were removing the toe-nails and finger-nails from their born infants? Or using electrolysis to permanently remove the hair on their head? Or having their eye-lashes ripped off? Or their eyelids surgically removed? All of these actions would be regarded as abhorrent, yet for some reason cutting off the foreskin on a baby's penis without anesthetic is somehow considered OK.

    This is really a case of the "parents rights" non-sense, which I'm sick of hearing. Parents don't have rights over their children. Children are not property to be modified, reshaped, and surgically altered as pleases their parents. Children have rights, and in some cases that means the right to be protected against the harmful actions of their parents. Parents are there to support, guide, and raise their children, not force life-altering bodily changes on them against their consent. Parents are there to protect the rights of their children not to violate the rights of their children.

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Thong-Checker Ms. Wilson Illegally Violates Student's Rights

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Fact Summary:

  • In Rancho Bernardo High School (San Diego), at the previous year's MORP, a girl took off her thong and exposed herself while phreak dancing. Phreak dancing is a sexually explicit type of dance where a girl positions herself affront a guy and usually bumps and gyrates her ass into his crotch.

    At the next year's MORP, Rita Wilson -- a Vice Principal at RBHS -- decided to check to make sure guys were wearing underwear and girls weren't wearing thongs and had "protective underwear" on. She asked girls coming into the dance if they had thong underwear on and if they had bras on. If they said no, she made them lift their skirts/dresses or pull down their shirts to prove it. On one occasion, she forcibly pulled down a girl's tube-top shirt and pulled up her skirt.

    Ms. Wilson claims she modestly lifted skirts from the side and only to several girls. However, the students say she did this to around a hundred girls, and lifted their dresses/skirts up from the front over their heads. Wilson was aided by Natalie Johnson, a counsellor. Three employees and two police officers at the dance reported being too intimidated to confront Wilson; one employee who did confront her backed down when she became argumentative.

    Students told their parents about the incident, which angered them. Many parents -- angered by the privacy-violation and humiliation their children were subjected to -- mandated Wilson be fired. Some, seeing her actions as sexual assault, wanted her fired and prosecuted. Mrs. Wilson defended her actions, saying she was trying to protect the kids from exposure and possible assault. Led by Michael Ball, 35 teachers at RBHS supported Wilson. Wilson issued an apology for any distress she caused students, but did not apologize for her actions, nor admit they were wrong.

    The school board launched an investigation, during which Wilson was suspended. They interviewed various school officials and the two police officers present at the dance. They also interviewed several students who were violated, as well as several onlookers. They concluded that Wilson used "extremely poor judgement," violating state law and school district policy, which prohibits her from "removing or rearranging [a student's] clothing for a visual inspection of underclothing, breasts, buttocks, or genitalia." They were less severe with Johnson, as she she was following Wilson's orders, but still said she used poor judgement.

    The school board then decided Wilson's punishment. Only 19 people were allowed to address the board, and of those 8 spoke out against Ms. Wilson. Of thos 19 only one, Ashley Wydra, was a girl who was at the dance. She accused Wilson of lying about how many girls were subjected to the thong-check, saying Wilson checked around a hundred students.

    The board voted unanimously to demote Wilson to a teaching position, not fire her. Due to tenure -- which guarantees Wilson a teaching position until retirement -- the school district was fearful to fire her, for the cost of a wrongful termination suit, even though she violated the district's search and seizure policy, as well as state law. Disappointed parents said they may pursue legal action to have Ms. Wilson fired and possibly criminal action.

Confirmed Victims:

  • Rebecca Teal
    Ms. Chappel
    Ashley Wydra
    Ms. Garvik
    Stephanie Stewart
    Ms. Stech
    Stephanie Olson
    others have refused to be named or have not stepped forward

Quotes:

  • "Everyone is...appalled and devastated. They definitely crossed any line of decency." -- Kim Teal

    "I...saw...a line of people and...she [Wilson] was checking to see what the girls were wearing under their dresses...she was literally lifting up their skirts and embarrassing them in front of everyone else." -- Ms. Teal

    "I'm not taking anything off the table. I don't feel it's a good idea to stick her in charge of 25-plus students in any fashion. Teachers are the ones shaping our kids, and to put her in that position - that's not a demotion, that's a much more important position." -- Kim Teal

    "To me, that is sexual assault. You don't do that to anybody, but especially not to kids. These kids are depending on the administrators to protect them." -- Jim Teal

    "It was a violation of these kids' privacy, and very embarrassing for kids at that age" -- Cindy Chappell

    "I felt embarrassed because there were about 50 people standing around. I didn't think I had done anything wrong." -- Ms. Chappel

    "I can't believe you just lied to everyone. How can you live with yourself." -- Ashley Wydra to Wilson, in regards to Wilson lying about the number of students she violated

    "You stay away from my little sister." -- Ashly Wydra to Wilson

    "She needs to be fired. That's the only acceptable consequence. These people...need to be classified as sex offenders." -- Alane Garvik

    "I felt like they were really touching a private area. I didn't think they had a right to know that stuff." -- Ms. Garvik

    "We were in front of the entire class, school officials were around, and even two on-campus cops." -- Stephanie Steward

    "They just lifted the skirt over my head. I didn't know what was going on." -- Stephanie Olson

    "It plainly violates the privacy rights of girls and boys subjected to the searches" -- Jordan Budd, ACLU lawyer

    "It's really quite astounding that a school administrator would believe it to be appropriate to require every girl who attended a dance to partially disrobe in public on the off chance one might subsequently engage in misconduct." -- Jordan Budd, ACLU lawyer

    "I just thought, Ohmigod, what is she doing? This is totally out of line." -- Greg Bisesto, San Diego city police officer

Discussion

  • One wonders what Wilson was thinking, and what one has to do to get fired now-a-days. Wilson violated the privacy rights of about a hundred students, sexually assault a few, and violated the CA Educational Code, yet she still hasn't been fired. Oh wait, I forgot: zero tolerance only applies to students.

    Lets take a look at the laws Ms. Wilson violated.

    1. Indecent Exposure. Ms. Wilson's actions violated California's Indecent Exposure laws. By coercing them through her position of authority to lift their skirts of pull down their shirts, Wilson caused the indecent exposure of many students. This constitutes multiple offenses of indecent exposure, and would constitute multiple convictions, meaning a felony conviction according to CA Penal Code 314.
    2. Battery. Ms. Wilson's actions violated California's Battery laws. On the occasion(s) where she forcibly lifted girls' skirts or pulled down their shirts, she is guilty of battery (CA Penal Code 242) on school grounds, punishable by a fine less than or equal to $2,000 and/or a jail-term less than or equal to 1 year [CA Penal Code 243.2. (a)(1)].
    3. Sexual Battery. In cases where Ms. Wilson's hands were touching the teenager's groins or breasts through their clothing (as must have happened when she pulled down one girl's tube-top), she was guilty of sexual battery, punishable by a fine of less than or equal to $2,000 and/or a jail-term less than or equal to 1 year [CA Penal Code 243.4 (a), (e), and (f)(1)].
    4. Illegal Search. As Wilson rearranged the clothing of students to permit a visual inspection of the underclothing, she conducted an illegal search, in violation of California's education code. [CA Educational Code 49050 (a)]. .

    So, by all accounts, Ms. Wilson should certainly be fired, as she has violated both the CA Educational and Penal Codes. Given the seriousness of the situation -- that she violated the rights of the student's whom she was supposed to protect -- she should also be in jail for at least 1 year, assuming all sentences are served concurrently. She certainly should not be anywhere near kids. The "punishment" given to her by the school board -- demoting her to a teaching position -- is in fact a punishment to the students, as it will put her in closer contact with them. She claims she was acting to "protect" the students and looking out for their best interests, preventing them from indecently exposing themselves and being sexually battered. This is absurd. You can't protect someone from indecent exposure and battery by forcing them to indecently expose themselves (via your authority position) and committing battery against them; that like preventing the mafia from murdering someone by murdering that person yourself. Furthermore, it is obvious that her actions had a detrimental, not positive, affect. Thus, her "ends justifies the means" argument falls further on its face.

    Wilson's also claims that she had no other way to stop "phreak" dancing and the kind of indecent exposure that went on the previous year. Firstly, you can't prevent indecent exposure by causing it. Secondly, she had other alternatives:

    1. Cancel the dance.
    2. Stop the dance if anyone phreaks.
    3. Split the dance up among several nights to make it more manageable.
    4. Stop the music or play country music if anyone freak dances or indecently exposes themselves. This has been proven to work. One DJ calmed down a high-school dance by playing the Barney theme song.
    5. Discipline those who freak dance, and remove them from the dance.
    6. Have the officer present at the dance arrest anyone who indecently exposes themselves.
    7. Any combination of the above and other legal methods which don't violate students' rights.

    Wilson had all of these options and more. It only took me a few seconds to come up with these. Wilson had months to figure out how to handle the dance, so she has no excuse. Yet, there are those who defend Wilson, using various absurd arguments. I will post the the defenses of Wilson's actions in italics and my responses in plain test.

    1. Maybe what she did was wrong, but she's a good person, so we shouldn't punish her. Absurd. We are not judging, nor are we capable of judging, whether or not Wilson is a "good person". What we are capable of judging is whether her individual acts in this matter were legal or illegal. A "good person" who commits illegal acts should still be punished, whether (s)he's a teacher, a businessman, a police officer, the Pope, or Mother Teresa. Also note that the people who make this argument -- those close to Wilson -- are the very people least capable of fairly judging her actions, as they are partial to Wilson.
    2. She was only doing the job that parents should have been doing. Parents should be grateful she was preventing their children from acting like wanton little sluts. Firstly, this is irrelevant. Whether or not parents should be happy is not the point: Wilson's actions are still illegal and wrong. Secondly, checking children's underclothing is the right of their parents, not anyone else. Simply because parents choose not to excercise that right does not give a stranger such as Wilson the right to do such. Thirdly, Wilson's actions did not in any way prevent promiscuous activity, nor exhibitionist activity, nor phreaking, nor indecent exposure, assault, or battery. Her actions were in fact all of these things.
    3. Wilson was doing the only thing she could to prevent a reoccurence of the previous year's indecent exposure. Again, this is absurd: you cannot prevent indecent exposure and battery by committing that very same act. Furthermore, this is wrongly implying that Wilson was in a catch-22: that had the obligation to protect students from indecent exposure and battery, but that the only way to do such was by this thong-check. As I've shown, that is clearly not true: Wilson had other options which would have been effective. Also note that the action Wilson chose in no way prevented anything: phreaking is just as easy with cover-all undewear as with thongs; cover-all underwear come off just as easily.
    4. If what she did was so illegal, how come she hasn't been fired and put in jail? If what OJ Simpson did was so illegal, how come he isn't in jail? This is an is/ought fallacy: "because Wilson isn't in jail now for her actions, she shouldn't be in jail for her actions." Not every crime is punished as it should be; however, that does not mean it is legal. If you think what Ms. Wilson did was legal, try doing it to a female police officer and see where it lands you -- in jail, that's where. Furthermore, the families of the victim's may very well sue the school to get her fired, and demand the DA prosecute her.

    As a closing remark, I'd like to say that Wilson is not the only one at fault here, though she is of the gravest fault. Johnson's actions were also inexecusable, and she should be facing the same consequences and jail-sentence that Wilson should be facing the same consequences: she was a counsellor and should have known better. Likewise, the police officers present were at fault: when they saw what was going on, they should have stopped Wilson and arrested her. The other teachers and school officials at the dance were also at fault: they should have stopped Wilson. Finally, the 35 teachers who support Ms. Wilson are at fault, as they're supporting actions which are illegal and violated the rights of students: neither Ms. Wilson, nor Ms. Johnson, nor any of the 35 teachers supporting them, should be anywhere near kids.

    In short, aside from their parents, it's none of anyone's business -- certainly not Wilson's -- what type of underclothing students are wearing. She had no right to violate their privacy as she did.

Links:

Miscellaneous

  • Let the culprits know what you think! Here's the e-mail addresses of Ms. Wilson and Ms. Johnson, and their supporters, including Michael Ball and Tim Steigerwald. The list of Wilson supporters is obvioulsy not complete (there were 35 teachers who supported her). I'll be working on getting that complete list. supporters.

    IMPORTANT NOTICE: The San Diego County Office of Education DENIES permission to use our email addresses for SPAM, chain letters, or any other unsolicited purpose. To do so is illegal and steps will be taken to prosecute offenders. So please ask the appropriate San Diego RBHS official for persmission to e-mail these school officials with your opinion on their disgraceful action.

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Christian School Punishes Daughter for "Sins" of Mother

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Fact-Summary:

  • Christina Silvas sent her 5-year old kindergartener to Capital Christian school for $400/month. After her husband stopped paying his half of the bill, Silvas, a single full-time mother, was in a desperate financial situation: She did not have enough money to continue paying $400/month without working. If she worked, jobs offered insufficient money and required long hours, keeping her from her daughter. So she became a part-time stripper, alleviating her financial situation, allowing her to send her daughter to Capital Christian, support herself and her child, and be a full-time mother.

    Hearing this and receiving verification, the school notified Ms. Silvas that if she didn't quit stripping her daughter would be suspended. When she refused to quit, the school suspended her daughter and informed Silvas that her and her daughter could neither attend/visit the school or the church. Silvas received several offers of financial aid from outside the church. Silvas felt she had not violated the moral contract she signed when she put her daughter in the school, since she stripped while her daughter was not in her custody, and set an upstanding moral example for her daughter. She also said that God, seeing actions and motivations, knew she was stripping to be the best mother to her daughter.

    Eventually, they worked out a deal: Silvas' daughter could return to school for the remainder of the year, if Silvas temporarily quit her job; the school waived her fee for the last month. Silvas agreed to the terms, noting that she became a stripper for her daughter's benefit, and that she got out of it for the same reasons. Silvas, extremely disappointed by the school's decisions, characterizing their actions as un-christ-like, noting that the financial aid offers came from outside the church. Silvas looked for another church and school for her and her daughter to attend. She later posed in Playboy, securing her immediate financial future.

Notable Quotes by Christina Silvas:

  • "My daughter is the one who goes to school there, not me and they're turning her away."

    "I'm not proud of what I'm doing right now. But I'm proud for the reason that I'm doing it, which is to prove the best life for my daughter that I possibly can."

    "My goal throughout all of this has been to do the best for my daughter that I possibly can."

    "Just as I decided to start dancing, I'm now deciding to take this pause for her benefit. I'm not doing this because I support the church's position."

    "I don't think the church's reaction was very Christ-like," Silvas said - noting that the offers of help she received "came from outside the church."

    "Before all of this happened I was extremely interested in posing I have the utmost respect for the entire company, and I believe posing for Playboy is the American dream for a woman."

    "Absolutely." [in reference to having seen fellow Church-members at the strip-club]

    "I think it's demeaning to have a day care raise your child while you're working." [her opinion regarding Pastor Cole's comment that "God thinks stripping is demeaning"]

    "I believe God sees our heart and looks at why we are doing what we are doing as opposed to solely our actions, and I believe that my actions were absolutely honorable. I was trying to provide for my daughter. I didn't have the luxury of looking for something else to do. It was very sudden that the financial responsibility of providing for my daughter fell onto my shoulders, and this was the first opportunity that seemed like it would help me accomplish my goals." [in reference to if she thinks God was satisfied with her sacrafice to strip for her daughter]

    "No." [my daughter will not return to the Capital Christian for first grade] "I was deeply disappointed with their actions throughout this entire situation."

    "It was an extremely positive experience. It helped me accomplish the goals that I think are important, which is spending time with my daughter and providing the best that I can for her." [in reference to whether or not she enjoyed dancing at the club]

Discussion & Conclusion:

  • Let me start off by saying that I agree with the comments Ms. Silvas has made: the school and church definately acted un-Christ-like. Would the Christ spoken of in the Bible have punished a child for the actions of his or her mother? No. The Christ spoken of in the Bible would have went to the club and tipped the mother, and talked with her as a friend. Oh wait, the church only reads the parts of the Bible it wants to read. Forget about he who hasn't sinned throwing the first stone; forget about Jesus conversing and being friends with prostitutes, tax-collectors, and thieves. Also forget about Jesus helping those in need (note, the offers of financial support came from outside the church).

    Worse than merely suspending Ms. Silvas' daughter from the school, they also banned her and her mother from going to the church, while she was a stripper. The church is supposed to be open to everybody, epsecially children who are necessarily (due to their age) innocent. What exactly did they expect the girl to do, give her mother a spanking? Bad mommy, bad bad bad -- go to the corner! What this amounts to is punishing the child for what the church calls the sins of the mother, in the name of God. Interesting that the church has a monopoly on speaking for what the will of God is: apparently, commoners like Ms. Silvas and others can't interpret the Bible for themselves.

    It is closed-minded churches which have put shame into the naked body, and indeed shame into eroticism, not the God spoken of in the Bible. Obviosly, God thought that the naked human body was a good and beautiful thing, or else he wouldn't have made man (as well as every other living thing on this earth) naked. There is nothing shameful about the naked body -- it is a thing of beauty. Likewise with eroticism: a thing of beauty. Stripping and other erotic (or pornographic) arts are powerful artistic expressions, designed to arouse various feelings within people: desire, lust, passion, burning, etc. Why should that be looked at as having any less artistic merit than a tragedy, such as Shakespear's King Lear, or a deeply depressing novel, such as Orwell's 1984? An interesting quote that comes to mind: "There's no such thing as good or evil books. There's well-written books and poorly-written books." I believe that is applicable to Ms. Silvas' stripping situation.

    Quite frankly, there's nothing degrading or harmful about Ms. Silvas' actions. She did what she did to be able to spend the most time with her daughter, while financially supporting herself and her daughter (i.e., private school). Indeed, I would argue that what she's doing makes her a great mother: supporting her daughter both emotionally and financially...seems like the real-deal to me.

    And I say that the church should examine their own sins before condemning Ms. Silvas. Ms. Silvas' actions harmed no one, but in fact greatly benefitted her daughter (by allowing Silvas to spend more time with her daughter). The church will argue that her daughter will be hurt later on when she finds out her mother was a stripper, but I say that's non-sense: she will be glad her mother did what it took to support her both financially and emotionally; and, being raised by an enlightened person such as Ms. Silvas, she will not be open-minded. The church is the one at fault here, as their actions clearly harmed a 5-year old girl. And lets not forget about all the child-molesters that the church protects within: the priests who are "relocated" from one parish to another every time they're accused of child-molestation, so they can molest a whole new batch of children. Lets not forget about all the rapists, murderers, and child-molesters that the church holds in confidence, allowing them to get away with their crimes. "Look to the log in your eye before the splinter in your friends'" comes to mind. I'm not questioning the church and school's right to do what they did (they're private organizations, and can handle their affairs as they like); what I am doing, is questioning their decisions, and criticizing them for those decisions: they may have had the right to do what they did, but it was wrong.

    On the bright side, Ms. Silvas and her daughter have moved on. They are too good for that school and church, and Ms. Silvas has found a new church for herself and her daughter, as well as a new school for her daughter. They deserve better. Ms. Silvas has also posed for some beautifully artistic nudes (and an interview) in Playboy, giving her a financial safety-net to fall back on. Good for her!

Articles on Christina Silvas and her daughter:

Contacts:

Note: I do not believe in God, Christianity, or any other religion. I think all religions are equally absurd and unlikely, filled with hocus-pocus. This is my honest belief. However, because I greatly respect Christina Silvas for the sacrafices she has made for her daughter -- and because I know she is a Christian -- I have chosen to capitalize the word God in this journal entry. Also note that facts or quotes are in Type, headers in bold, and my personal comments in plain text.

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Witch Hunt 2k

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Introduction:

  • Thought the Salem Witch trials were over? Guess again. Brandi Blackbear, a student at Oklahoma's Union Intermediate High School, was accused of casting a hex on her teacher and thus suspended for 15 days. The ACLU has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Ms. Blackbear, who stands accused of "hexing" a teacher, which can be found here. Fearsmag and ABCnews have also written articles on this Oklahoma witch-hunt. Let me try to briefly summarize. I'll put the summaries in bold, the facts in type, and my comments in plain text.

Summary:

  1. Right to privacy violated, illegal search & seizure performed by Principal Ojala and Counselor Miller. Because of rumors that Blackbear had written a violent story, Principal Ojala and Counselor Miller performed a locker search, under guise of trying to find a gun. Unable to find a weapon, Ojala and Miller stole Blackbear's private items and read her stories, eventually finding the violent story. Note, this is an unconstitutional violation of Blackbear's right to privacy and an illegal search and seizure. Also note that they further violated her privacy by reading her stories, which she had kept private.
  2. Due process denied in unfair and non-impartial kangeroo-court. Concluding that Blackbear was going to commit a violent incident, Ojala and Miller suspended Blackbear, held a kangeroo court in which she was denied due process and judged by those who could neither be fair nor impartial, and suspended for 19 days. Note firstly that there was no grounds on which to question or interrogate Blackbear, certainly none on which to suspend her. It was irrational and unfounded to assume she would commit a violent act. The "hearing" she was given denied her every conceivable right that could have been denied. A similar incident happened at my high school, Rush Henrietta Senior High, after Columbine. The Principal instituted an absurd policy banning trench-coats, and a student who had worn a trench-coat for years came in the next day wearing a trench-coat, as he'd always done. The Principal suspended him for wearing a trench-coat, violatiing his constitutional rights to freedom of expression & speech.
  3. Blackbear's social and academic status suffer because of officials' actions. Because of the schools' actions, Blackbear became a social outcast among students, the subject of ridicule and embarassment. Due to her suspension, she fell far behind in mathematics. Thanks to the schools' illegal and unconstitutional actions, Blackbear became a social outcast, subject toe the ridicule of her peers. Because of the suspension, she fell behind in mathematics; and as one topic in mathematics necessarily builds on the previous one, she suffered greatly in that area.
  4. Blackbear's rights to freedom of thought, speech, and religion were then violated in 9th grade Upon entering 9th grade, Blackbear took an interest in the Wiccan religion, and pursued independent studies of it. Thus, she was ridiculed and insulted by fellow students. It is an unfortuante but sad truth that teenagers -- like everyone else -- are intolerant of differing views. I personally find it rather amusing that those who believe in some magical invisible man in the sky -- who "loves them" but will subject them to an eternity of hell if they don't do XYZ -- feel that their beliefs are superior to those of someone who believes in a different invisible man and woman in the sky. All religions are equally stupid, illogical, and non-sensical, and no one has any standing to claim some higher truth over any other, none-the-less to ridicule any other.
  5. Accused of being a witch, casting a hex on teacher. Hearing that Blackbear was interested in Wicca, Bushyhead and Franklin -- the Assistant Principal and counselor for the Union Intermediate High School, respectively -- accused Blackbear of casting a hex on Mr. Kemp, a teacher who had inexplicably fallen ill and had been hospitalized. They repeatedly accused her of such until, tired and exhausted, she stopped denying it. Firstly, they had no business accusing her of causing this teacher's illness: teenagers do not need to be accused of this kind of bullshit. Secondly, anyone dumb enough to believe in witches, hexes, and spells should not be in any official position at a school -- they shouldn't have even graduated from high school. Only in the Bible-Belt state of Oklahoma could principals and teachers be dumb enough to actually believe in witch-craft. Apparently, they thought The Blairwitch Project was a biography, and that The Craft was based off of real-life. Next, they'll be burning witches at the stake.
  6. Right to freedom of thought, speech, and religion violated. Having accused Blackbear of being a witch and casting a hex on Mr. Kemp, Bushyheead and Franklin told her that she could not wear any paraphernalia related to Wicca. Deeming her a threat, Bushyead and Franklin suspended Blackbear for 15 days for causing a disruption in the educational process, 10 of which were spent supervised in school. Apparently, Bushyhead and Franklin were worried about Blackbear casting a hex on them too, thus made sure she was supervised. Note that they obviously violated her rights to freedom of speech, thought, religion, and expression. Furthermore, her suspension under grounds of "casting a hex" was completely unconstitutional, illegal, and bogus.
  7. The school's absurd allegations have caused emotional and physical harm to Blackbear. The school's claims caused and continue to cause Blackbear ridiculue and humiliation from her peers. The Principal's conduct has caused her to become an outcast. She does not feel comfortable. The school has caused her great pain, suffering, anguish, and has prevented her from obtaining a quality education. Nothing gets a zealous Christian's blood flowing better than crucifying a young woman for being a witch. Maybe they should tie a stone around her and throw her in the lake; if she doesn't drown, they can then burn her alive on a crucafix.

Conclusion & Suggestions:

  • The ACLU has made the following recommendations to the court, and I have suggested some additions. I don't think the ACLU goes far enough.
    1. Declare that the Defendants' actions violate the US Constitution.
    2. Enjoin Defendants, its employees, and agents from prohibiting Blackbear from wearing any religious item.
    3. Award Blackbear her costs, reasonable attorney fees, and other relief the Court deems appropriate.

    I suggest the following additions:

    1. Mandate that all employees of the school involved in violating Blackbear's rights be fired and jailed for: (1)Illegally trespassing on Blackbear's property (her locker); (2) Illegally confiscating Blackbear's property from her (tort); (3) Illegally stealing Blackbear's property (as it has yet to be returned); (3) Destroying Blackbear's property, as they have destroyed many of her works.
    2. Mandate that the school expunge any suspension from Blackbear's record, and mandate that they expunge all grades from Blackbear's record that she obtained while affected by this. She should be allowed to expunge any grades she deems unacceptably low, and re-take the courses, in her own time and at the expense of those who violated her rights.
    3. Mandate that the school and any officials involved make a public apology to Blackbear, and that the new principal of the school give a lecture on tolerance.
    4. Mandate that the school vouch for Blackbear when she applies for college, and explain the unusual circumstances which may explain any mediocre grades she received. If Blackbear has trouble getting into an acceptable college, the school is to be held responsible, and act on her behalf with the colleges.

    All I can say is that its amazing that this level of stupidity persists, even in the modern era. It really makes you question the system when Principals are dumber than the average X-Files conspiracy junky. How can people so ignorant and stupid be instituted as principals, counselors, and teachers? The habitual and unremorseful violation of Ms. Blackbear's rights is also disturbing. Teenagers rights do not magically vanish the minute they walk into a school.

Please post your opinions on this matter, be they criticisms of my position or argument, or arguments of your own.

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Prostitution should be legal -- the stats prove it

dh003i dh003i writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Introduction:

  • I know that prostitution should be legal. It is a very simple issue: the actual act, a prostitute and her customer agreeing on an exchange of money for sex, violates no one's rights, and does not directly or demonstrateably necessarily harm anyone else. Thus, it should be legal. However, some people do not seem to have clarity on the issue, and want to bring in lots of personal opinions and hogwash about how prostitution promote drug-use, violence, STDs, etc. In fact, it is anti-prostitution laws which promote all of these things. I hope that these statistics -- taken from the Prostitutes Education Network -- and my interpretation of them can show that. For clarity, summaries of each point will be in bold, facts paraphrased from the website will be in type, and my personal comments will be in plain text.

Data and Interpretation:

  • Anti-prostitution laws don't work, and thus should be abolished. Arrest figures range over 100,000, and over 1 million people in the US have worked as prostitutes, or about 0.5% of the US. Anti-prostitution laws don't work, and thus should be abolished. The frequency of prostitution is not affected by anti-prostitution laws: they mereley drive prostitution underground, creating a much more dangerous situation for prostitutes, their customers, and society.

    Prostitution is not a women-only issue. 77.8% of arrests are women, 22.2% men. In larger cities, 20-30% of prostitutes are male. The feminist arguments against prostitution claiming that prostitution is "violence against women" need to be re-examined, considering that a considerable percentage of prostitutes are men. It is even inappropriate to call "prostitution violence against prostitutes," as it is not prostitution itself which is violent. It is the circumstances around prostitution -- all of them caused, perpetuated, and encouraged by the illegalization and stigmitization of prostitution -- which are violent.

    The enforcement of anti-prostitution laws is inequitable, and discriminate against prostitutes. Prostitutes account for 90% of the arrests, their clients for only 10%. The enforcement of anti-prostitution laws is predjudiced against prostitutes, and in fact punishes and violates those that the supporters of anti-prostitution laws (some feminists and Conservatives) claim anti-prostitution laws protect. Were the law equitable, 50% of those arrested under anti-prostitution laws would be the clients. But cops aren't interested in pursuing the clients: clients often have money, and can defend themselves. Also, its alot easier to rape, assault, abuse, and otherwise violate the rights of a prostitute.

    The enforcement of anti-prostitution laws further victimize the most victimized prostitutes. 85-90% of those arrested are street prostitutues, who account for 20% of prostitutes. As the statistics show, street-prostitutes are most likely to be subject to violence, abuse, and drug-use. The enforcement of anti-prostitution laws further victimizes these most-victimized and violated of prostitutes.

    The enforcement of anti-prostitution laws is racist. Despite accounting for the minority of prostitutes, non-caucasians account for the vast majority of prostitutes sentenced to jail. Anti-prostitution laws act as a vehicle for racism, as this statistic indicates.

    Drug-abuse is variable, and most common among street-prostitutes. Drug abuse ranges from 0-84%, depending on the population, and is most common among street-prostitutes, 50% of whom are drug-users. As was stated, drug-use is variable depending on the population, just like among any other group. The highest incidences of drug-use are among street-prostitutes, probably because they are subject to the most frequent contact with nefarious drug-dealers, and because they are the most likely to work for a pimp who controls them by rationing drugs to them. This is perpetuated and encouraged by anti-prostitution laws. Anti-prostitution laws force more prostitutes roam the streets, searching for clientelle (as they can't advertise from a brothel), and also discourage prostitutes from working in a house as that is a fixed and easy target for police-raids. Legalizing prostitution would ameliorate this situation, resulting in lower incidences of drug abuse.

    Prostitutes are not a major source of STD-spread. Only 3-5% of STDs are prostitution-related, compared to 30-35% which is teen-related. Despite the bunk propogated by zealous anti-prostitution advocates, prostitutes are not a major source of STD-spread, and (indeed) this suggests that they are not particularly vulnerable to STDs. This is probably because prostitutes are highly aware of safe-sex, as it is a necessity in their business, and always use condoms and other devices to make sex safer. If only the Christian Coalition nutcases would allow our teenagers to be educated just as well in contraceptives and safe sex.

    Anti-prostitution laws and their enforcement tolerate, endorse, and perpetuate violence against and violation of prostitutes. Clients account for 60% of the abuse against street-prostitutes, police for 20%, and partners for 20%. One study found that 80% of prostitutes have been sexually assaulted, some raped as many as 8-10 times/yea or more. Only 7% seek help, and only 4% report it to the police. Prostitutes are unlikely to report violent crimes committed against them and also unlikely to seek help. Prostitutes know that they will be arrested for prostitution if they report crimes against them; know that neither the cops, prosecutors, judges, juries, nor even their own lawyers will believe them, thus don't report crimes against them. Our anti-prostitution laws -- which both perpetuate and are perpetuated by social stigma against prostitution -- are responsible for the acceptance of crimes committed against prostitutes and the devaluation of prostitutes as persons. Because clients, cops, and partners know this, they feel safe in stealing from, assaulting, sexaully assaulting, torturing, raping, and even killing prostitutes. Thanks to anti-prostitution laws, there is no crime safer in the US than a crime committed against a prostitute. As the legal system, cops, prosecutors, judges, jurrors, and society at large effectively regards prostitutes as non-persons -- less than slaves -- any crime against a prostitute is almost certainly ignored, tolerated, and even encouraged. This devaluation of prostitutes as non-persons -- analagous to the Proles in Orwell's 1984 -- is encouraged and promoted by anti-prostitution laws.

    Anti-prostitution laws and their enforcement further violates those already violated. 35-85% of prositutes are survivors of childhood incidences of sexual assault/molesation by their relatives (forced incest) or others. As this statistic indicates, most prostitutes are the survivors of childhood incest, molestation, and/or sexual assault. Our legal system -- and anti-prostitution laws in particular -- re-victimize prostitutes by imprisoning them and encouraging violence against them. Our legal system, the politicians who support anti-prostitution laws, and society at large are just as responsible for the victimization and rights-violation of prostitutes as are their parents who raped them. This re-victimization can be alleviated by abolishing anti-prostitution laws, thus not imprisoning prostitutes, and not encouraging crimes against them.

    House-prostitutes have good self-esteem. 97% of house-prostitutes like themselves more after than before becoming prostitutes. The statistics propogated by so-called feminists groups "concerned about prostitutes" indicating that all prostitutes have poor self-esteem are incorrect. Most house (as opposed to street) prostitutes have a better self-perception of themselves after becoming prostitutes. This again shows why we should legalize prostitution (and allow brothels), as it would encourage house-prostitution over street-prostitution.

    Prostitutes are no more likely to entertain suicidal thoughts than other women. 59% of prostitutes have thought of committing suicide, compared to 61% of non-prostitutes. This suggests that prostitutes are no more suicidal than non-prostitutes, debunking the theories put forth by some feminists.

    The enforcement of anti-prostitution laws necessarily violates prostitutes' rights. All arrests of prostitutes involve intrapment, invasion of privacy, and/or the use of discriminatory laws/tactics. Yet more violations of prostitutes' rights by the cops and our legal system. Because prostitutes are fearful of the police, and unlikely to get good legal advice, they will often plea guilty, not knowing that the evidence procured against them was inadmissable. Often, they will be pressured into such by cops, who will deny them their lawyers or deceptively suggest that contacting lawyers implies guilt, and using other strong-arm tactics to prevent prostitutes from getting adequate legal representation and knowing their rights.

    Anti-prostitution laws are unduely expensive, and should thus be abolished: that money should be spent pursuing those who commit crimes against prostitutes. It costs $2,000/case to arrest, court, and incarcerate a prostitute. Cities spend from $1 million to $23 million dollars, for an average of $7.5 million dollars, on prostitution-control. Despite the expenses made trying to prevent prostitution, it hasn't been prevented, but only driven underground to places where prostitutes are in the greatest danger of having their rights violated by pimps, clients, and cops. Instead of spending an average of $7.5 million trying to prevent prostitution and arresting prostitutes, cities should spend that money preventing crimes/rights-violations against prostitutes, and pursuing/punishing those who commit crimes against prostitutes and/or violate their rights.

    To make things clearer, there is an inverse relationship between the number of prostitutes prosecuted/jailed and the number of rapists brought up on charges. It costs $2,000 total to charge, prosecute, and jail a prostitute. It costs $500 dollars for the police to send a rape-kit to a lab for analysis. In real-life, thousands of rape-kits go unanalyzed because the PD can't afford the $500 fee for analysis. That means that for every prostitute that's prosecuted, there are four rapists that get away with rape. What this says is that our politicians care more about jailing prostitutes -- who don't necessarily, by virtue of their profession, harm anyone -- than about jailing violent and dangerous rapists, who will continue to rape. I think it's pretty obvious here that the intent of any politicians who support anti-prostitution laws is to promote rape.

Discussion & Conclusion:

  • I hope that these statistics have convincingly made my point. Anti-prostitution laws serve only to further victimize prostitutes; encouraging, tolerating, excusing, and allowing for violence, crimes, and rights-violations against prostitutes. Anti-prostitution laws make the criminal feel safe in committing crimes against a prostitute. Had Jack The Ripper been killing noble British Women, he would have undoubtedly been caught, but because he was killing prostitutes (considered as non-persons) he was not. Anti-prostitution laws also encourage street prostitution, a form of prostitution in which the prostitutes are more vulnerable to crime and violation, and more exposed to drug-dealers and pimps who seek to take advantage of them. Furthermore, anti-prostitution laws encourage the social stigma associate with prostitutes. They enforce the unacceptable view among society at large that prostitutes are beneath them -- sub-humans, non-persons, proles. The right of a (wo)man to prostitute his or her body needs to be respected as a natural right, consequent of their natural right to control their own body. Abolishing laws denying that prostitutes have the right to control their body in the form of prostituting it is the first step to legitimize the profession of prostitute, and change societal views, such that the prostitute is viewed as a hard-working person just like the rest of us. The money spent violating the rights of prostitutes should be spent pursuing those who commit crimes against prostitutes.

    Furthermore, a social revolution in how society views prostitutes and other sex-workers (such as strippers or actors in pornography films) needs to be initiated. Prostitution needs to be seen as a legitimate professional choice, and prostitutes need the rights that all other professionals have. What rights and priviledges they have is not particularly important, so long as they're treated the same as other professionals.

    I will not go into extensive details here as to how we legalize prostitution, but simply say that I agree (almost) completely with the World Charter for Prostitutes' Rights. Here are some interesting sites regarding prostitutes' rights:

Responses to Critiques:

  • I will post these in a C (critique), R (response) format.

    C: Would you want your daughter to become a prostitute?
    R: I want my daughter to become whatever will make her the happiest; however, people don't always get their dream careers. As with other professions, in prostitution some are happy, some not. Consider the underlying assumption of this question: that any field we don't want our children to go into should be criminalized. The question to ask is, does this profession necessarily violate the rights of others? Also consider if your daughter does become a prostitute. Under the current system, individuals can commit violent crimes against her with little fear of consequence; thus, she will be at grave risk. If prostitution was legal and legitimized, violent crimes against her would be punished and discouraged.

Please post your opinions on this matter, be they criticisms of my position or argument, or arguments of your own.

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