Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Story About Gun Control

Nine year old girl accidentally kills gun instructor...
What a horrible tragedy.
... with an uzi.
OK, there may have been some poor decision making involved. (article)

Safety tip for you parents of young kids: teach them how to shoot using things with shoulder stocks. Or that fire non-lethal rounds. Preferably both.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Real Coming Apocalypse

One of the things that gets to me sometimes about being a programmer is the rather morally ambiguous results of extrapolating the consequences of software automation. By which I mean, am I helping to kill the economy? This presentation is a much more thorough and well put together commentary on what I'm trying to get across here.

Of Monkeys and Lawyers

The word has come down in the U.S. about whether a selfie taken by a monkey is the property of the public or the nature photographer who owned the camera. It's the public, but that's not important now. What is important is the twelve-hundred plus page report discussing U.S. Copyright Office practices. Seriously, 1200 pages. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why video over the Internet is restricted in confusing ways.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pondering the Meaning of the 'Blog, 2014

There has been something of a change of tone and content around these parts over the last couple of years. As with all such things, it relates to where things are going in my life right now. In the wake of a couple years of commuting, a subsequent move, and the associated job changes, it seems my priorities have shifted. I'm still reading the news, but I seem to be finding less and less of it interesting. Over the years, it has been link gathering that has driven posts more often than not. But these days, I'm finding much more pleasure in the frivolities of good books, TV, and games, no doubt because I am busier at work doing more difficult things than I have ever been before. That has been reflected in the posts here. I suspect that trend will continue.

In asking myself what direction I want these writings to go, I have had various answers over the years. Rarely did those answers actually come to fruition. (Frankly, bookworming may be the only one that actually took.) I have told myself that I should write about programming more, or that I should write about it less (is it actually possible for me to write about it less?). I have said the same thing to myself about personal content and link-posts and pretty much everything else I have ever played with in this space. I have wondered if I shouldn't just close it all down in favor of an offline journal.

That isn't going to happen, at least not yet. And as this blog heads toward it's tenth anniversary, and I approach my fortieth, I find that no matter how I have tried to direct things here, I always end up where I started nine years ago. The more things change, as they say, the more they stay the same. And thus it appears this space will continue to be my digital stream of consciousness.

Evidential Futility

There are certain debates which can never be won. The sides are entrenched, the topics too complicated or personal, there is not really a right answer. Pro-choice vs. pro-life, Israel vs. Palestine, vi vs. emacs. But there are also some arguments that should be rationally resolved, such as creationism vs. evolution, climate change, and green energy. And yet, the debates rage on. Politics goes the same way. All the actors do the same things over and over again, and both sides perpetually claim their ideology is right and the other will destroy America while both fail at their lofty goals. What is going on there?

Funny story... It turns out, and this is completely logical if you consider it, it turns out that the people most informed and capable of looking at evidence are also the people best equipped to rationalize their own views on a subject, and that cultural identity drives public opinion more than evidence. Thus people who identify with/as Democrats/Republicans/Bible literalists/Pastafarians/insert-ideology-you-disagree-with-here are not going to be persuaded by your evidence. Ever. Sure, there may be an exception here or there, but that's just statistics for you. In general people are going to believe what the group they identify with believes. Now what the heck do I do with that knowledge?

If I'm perfectly honest, it felt a bit revelatory when I read about the studies. In the sense that it confirmed something I had long been trying to resolve (thus making me more likely to give the story credence). I have long believed that certain debates that rage in our society are literal wastes of time. And now I have evidence (Evidence!) to back up my rationalized claim. I also have a great excuse not to engage in such debates anymore. Y'all believe what y'all are going to believe in any case, and I will do the same.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Assigning Copyright for Selfie on a Stolen Phone

Just a little conundrum from the land of copyright for you today. Once upon a time, a monkey stole a nature photographer's camera and took a bunch of pictures of himself. Today, said photographer believes that the copyright for the picture should be his. Wikipedia disagrees believing the photograph was taken by the monkey and is therefore public domain (on the grounds that the monkey can't claim copyright).