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Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75"

gestalt_n_pepper Health is cheaper, less painful. (478 comments)

The reason for the diets, supplements and exercise aren't to extend life, but to enhance life's quality.

You can be 75 and a cripple, in pain and bankrupted by health care costs or...

You can be be 75, run marathons, be fairly pain free and pay relatively little for health care.

I know people in both situations. To some degree, it's your choice.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer?

gestalt_n_pepper Complacent or more realistic priorities? (275 comments)

When you're in your 20s, you feel like you have time to play with fun stuff like code.

When you're in your late 50s, and the cancer has come and gone, and your parents have died, and getting up and moving is a daily exercise in pain, and your wife has started having strokes and you're both in fear of the next one, and your cat/dog of 20 years is going to die of old age soon and so are you, probably in the next 20-30 years, believe you me, new software falls WAY down the list of important things to think about. Try mortality. Try meaning. Try the poignancy of life.

Code can be fun, sure, but it's not *important* at all.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer?

gestalt_n_pepper Re:Business (275 comments)

Yeah, here's the thing about being complacent.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Software isn't always better because it's new. Procedures either. I'm not about to have anybody use Ruby, just because some 20-something new hire things it's cool. And while I like Agile, I know that it works only because the team meets every day, forces them to track real progress vs estimates, measures what's happening in real time and basically keeps their eye on the ball. Stuff I was doing about a decade before the word, "agile" existed.

So, color me unimpressed by Powershell, Agile, objective C, json and Azure. These technologies are neat and sometimes useful, but ONLY if they solve a problem and/or IMPROVE something - a test many new technologies fail, pathetically (e.g. 100 lines of powershell to do what one line of "NET USE xxxx" does).

about two weeks ago
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New Study Projects World Population of 11B by 2100

gestalt_n_pepper Re:Assuming we find a hydrocarbon energy substitut (325 comments)

No. Coal is not going away. Oil isn't going away. Natural gas isn't going away. There's never been an issue with the total quantity of hydrocarbons. What we're running out of are hydrocarbons that are:

1) Inexpensive enough to run an interdependent web of supply chains utterly dependent on *cheap* transportation fuel.

2) Have a high enough net energy return to justify both their production AND enough left over to run an industrial scale civilization of the current size.

Capitalism dictates that you go for the resource that gives you the most bang for the buck first in order to maximize profit. We've done that. It's downhill from here. I suggest you google "oil" and "EROEI" to get the figures.

The fact that population growth isn't local doesn't invalidate anything. If African countries can manage resource diversion to their population, they will. Your lack of control and/or responsibility also changes nothing. This looks unlikely today due to the military power imbalance. After 20 to 50 years of Chinese occupation and development, however, I wouldn't make that bet at all.

about two weeks ago
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New Study Projects World Population of 11B by 2100

gestalt_n_pepper Assuming we find a hydrocarbon energy substitute (325 comments)

One that's as cheap, energy dense and as easy to handle at room temperature as oil, coal, natural gas and so on.

If we *don't* do this, then I'm fairly sure that after we hit 11 billion by 2100, we'll be lucky to hit 50 million by 2200. Fewer, if we try and solve our resource problems by throwing nukes at one another, which sounds likely.

Like all species, we simply consume resources until the population crashes. What we've been so far with technology is "lucky." There's always been another *cheap* and *easy* resource to exploit. Short of a breakthrough in battery technology and thorium reactors (or fusion) that's not going to happen again.

about two weeks ago
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Obama Presses Leaders To Speed Ebola Response

gestalt_n_pepper Re:Racism is still alive! (221 comments)

WHY is the Chinese. We're being out-competed. The Chinese are providing technology to a number of African countries in exchange for resources (e.g. Coltan in Congo. Oil from Nigeria) and they're not insisting on human rights or democracy to provide it. Right now, the USA has the closest thing to an Ebola cure, which means that the Chinese are at a disadvantage.

This won't last, of course, and may result in a significant worldwide plague. Whether this is an unforeseen consequence of a planned feature is left as an exercise for the reader.

about two weeks ago
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Obama Presses Leaders To Speed Ebola Response

gestalt_n_pepper What part of "exponential" did you not understand? (221 comments)

Granted, it won't be that fast unless it mutates in such a way that it can be spread through the air. If it does that, then growth quite a bit faster than exponential is possible.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

gestalt_n_pepper Liberal arts degrees are not all equal (392 comments)

I design and implement automated testing systems, including specialized APIs and the VMWare-based virtualization environments designed to support them.

As part of getting a BA in psychology back in the day, you had to have several statistics courses, industrial psychology, human factors, ergonomics and it was strongly suggested that you become familiar with symbolic logic. Neurophysiology, particularly neuronal functioning, was popular too. Had psychology research funding not dried up after Reagan was elected, I might still be in a lab somewhere.

Fate had other plans. Unable to find honest work, I took up the software trade instead. That was 34 years ago.

I use my psychology degree every day.

about two weeks ago
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To prepare for a coronal mass ejection, I ...

gestalt_n_pepper I plan to wear my finest tinfoil hat! (151 comments)

Adjusted to a jaunty angle. That aluminum umbrella will finally see some use too.

about three weeks ago
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Private Police Intelligence Network Shares Data and Targets Cash

gestalt_n_pepper Undercover cop issue a non argument. (142 comments)

The issue is random confiscation (aka. "theft") by local police. I don't have any problem with confiscation as long as a crime was committed and the defendant proven guilty. What isn't tolerable in any way, shape, or form is confiscation of my property because some dimwitted, local yokel cop *thought* about drugs while looking at my car.

about three weeks ago
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Private Police Intelligence Network Shares Data and Targets Cash

gestalt_n_pepper Re:Defund (142 comments)

That ship has sailed. The transnational, transgenerational wealthy have decided that their little experiment in democracy hasn't worked out for them. You can expect continuing regression to the mean of governments for the foreseeable future. Explicit slavery in your lifetime is a pretty good bet.

about three weeks ago
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Private Police Intelligence Network Shares Data and Targets Cash

gestalt_n_pepper Time to exchange data on the American cops... (142 comments)

...who do this sort of "civil forfeiture." Badge numbers, names, pictures, locations, perhaps home addresses and phones.

I'm sure they won't mind, just as they won't mind a "civil" lawsuit or two aimed in their direction. After all, fair's fair, eh?

about three weeks ago
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Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

gestalt_n_pepper Re:False premise (546 comments)

Well, thank goodness I stuck it out and got that BA in psychology.

Seriously, no joke. That's my degree. These days, I design and code automated testing systems for seismic visualization and analysis software and the control systems for my virtual machine cloud that runs that system.

But I do a lot of that in vb.net and vb-form code (plus some healthy dollops of powershell), so that means I'm not a real programmer. Fortunately, nobody knows that so they pay me just as if I used curly braces. :)

about a month ago
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U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

gestalt_n_pepper Founding fathers would approve filming... (643 comments)

Separation of powers happened because the founding fathers understood that no single concentrated power could be trusted. Universal surveillance of all government officials would simply be an extension of this principal.

The founding fathers would approve filming government at ALL levels, from congress to notary. Multiple cameras (in the case of cops, dash-cam and chest-cam), streaming to web, with read-only access and multiple, physically separated backups.

There is no *technical* reason this can't be done, and frankly, it's a good idea. Think how much crap congress and K-Street wouldn't have gotten away with, had this been in place.

about a month ago
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Two Years of Data On What Military Equipment the Pentagon Gave To Local Police

gestalt_n_pepper Military surplus to Cops. So handy. So profitable! (264 comments)

A militarized police is so handy! You can:

1) Get around that annoying "Posse comitatus" thing.

2) You can use them to fight the national guard, should they become unccoperative.

3) You can field them for both local OR national coups against EITHER the Feds or the State authorities (Texas, you wanted to secede? Your chance is coming...).

4) You can ramp up civil forfeiture (i.e. Theft by law enforcement) and take a cut!

They slice! They dice! You can even Julliane freedom fries! Militarized by military surplus cops. Whoo Hoo!

about a month and a half ago
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Is Remote Instruction the Future of College?

gestalt_n_pepper Of *course* it's the future of college (81 comments)

The decision is driven by economics. Don't want to go into huge debt? Need to live at home? Don't want to pay for a quaint archaic infrastructure of unnecessary buildings and offices for professors and administration? You'll go to digi-school!

It may only be half as good, but if it's 1/10th the cost, this is where students will go. Excellent students will excel anywhere, of course. This structure favors autodidacts.

about a month and a half ago
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Microsoft Black Tuesday Patches Bring Blue Screens of Death

gestalt_n_pepper Lay off testers? This is what happens. (179 comments)

Once again, Microsoft discovers what's obvious anyone else who's been in the business for 25 years or so.

You have to have manual and automated GUI testers. Unit testing is nifty, but that's like testing just the spark plug, or maybe the spark plug and the ignition timing. Not a bad idea, but listen. If you knew about a new car, but knew that nobody had ever actually *driven* the car, much less taken it out on the road on a regular basis, would you buy that car?

For that matter, would you fly in a plane tested that way?

Developers testing their little piece of code isn't ever going to cut it. Neither is unit testing. Thinking it will is just managerial fantasy, or an idea that lets you fire a bunch of testers so the books look better and some manager or bean counter. can get a one time bonus.

about a month and a half ago
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My degree of colorblindness:

gestalt_n_pepper Re:Different colors (267 comments)

Turn off fox news. They'll go away.

about 2 months ago

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