All it will take is a simple, painless test.
Jeez, we’re getting desperate, I think.
I just finalized the schedule for my third course this term (Biological Communications, an independent study/writing course) and contacted the four students taking it from me. I’m prepared for my first lecture at 8am tomorrow, mostly ready for my second, and I have the student assignments all laid out and ready to go. I think I know what I’m doing.
Deep breaths. Deep breaths.
From this remarkable collection of photos of the Selma-to-Montgomery march:
Here are the people marching for dignity and respect and equality.
Here are some of the white hecklers lined up alongside that march, jeering at the people fighting for social justice.
Nothing has changed from 1965 to 2017, except that the hecklers are now mocking those goals online.
Be like the marchers in Selma. Don’t be like the hecklers.
The other day, when I was doing some online shopping, an ad popped up for a clip-on microscope for my phone. I thought, “I’m a professional microscopist! I should have a microscope I can carry around in my pocket!” and on a whim, I ordered it. It was only $8, so what the hey.
My dream has not yet been accomplished, I’m sad to report.
First sign of trouble: It claims 60-100x magnification, and looking inside, there’s a cheap plasticky looking lens set well back inside — it’s got maybe a 30mm focal length. Nope, that’s not going to work. I haven’t even tried it yet and I’m doubtful.
Next step is to attach it to your phone, which is really, really easy, using a big clip to clamp it to the camera lens. Except that the clamp is not very solid, and your phone is going to be hanging off to the side. It won’t stay clamped for long. You also just have to eyeball the positioning, since there’s nothing to lock it in alignment with the phone camera lens. Aligning it is a constant struggle. The clamp can’t even hold the phone in place, it certainly won’t hold it in alignment. If you’re lucky enough to get a picture, be prepared for uncontrollable wobbly vignetting.
The next problem: there are a couple of crude, hard to work knobs on the side. One is for magnification: forget it. Set it to the lowest mag, “60x”, and just leave it there. The other is the focus knob, which is also clumsy and hard to turn. Now imagine juggling a loosely held phone clipped to the side of this thing, you’re trying to hold it steady because any wobble will shift the camera lens away from the “microscope”, and you’ll understand that this is a frustrating exercise in imppossibly precise coordination.
So I got it together, pulled out a couple of prepared, stained slides of chick embryo sections, about the easiest targets possible, and tried to take a picture. Nooooope. I briefly saw a few images wander by, afflicted with ghastly spherical and chromatic aberration, but if I moved a finger to click a picture, they’d wander off again. I thought briefly about making it work with a couple of ringstands and some clamps, but realized that the agglomeration would be bigger than my dissecting scope and produce crappier pictures, so there was no point.
Caveat emptor. You get what you pay for. Sometimes less than what you pay for.
Christianity has a martyr complex. They always think they’re being persecuted, when they’re not — so you hear constantly about Romans throwing them to lions, but never about how Christianity coopted the Roman imperial bureaucracies, and eventually the emperor himself, to rule over the Western world. They claim that Hitler was an atheist, ignoring the fact that he banned Darwin, not the Bible, had the support of the German Catholic church, and encouraged faith in his people. So I knew exactly where this cartoon would have to go, if it were at all honest.
Let’s face it, though: the success of the Christian religion has partly rested on its eager willingness to aid and abet authority, unlike, for example, Judaism. Mainstream Christianity has been an enabler, not a critic, of secular authority, no matter how oppressive it may be. There have been exceptions — liberation theology, for instance — but then the Church turns to oppose and oppress them.
I must be getting old and senile. There is something wrong with my brain. I have seen all of these movies in the past year, and for the life of me I couldn’t tell you what happened in them.
I know I attended them. I recall blurs of cgi, loud explosions, and chaotic stories in which the fate of the world hung in the balance, but I can’t remember, or care, about a danged thing that happened in them. It’s weird, but there are also little snippets of things associated with them that are surely false memories.
This is also an oddly spotty problem. I can recall everything about Mad Max: Fury Road, for instance.
Either I have to go in for a neurological check-up, or all of Hollywood does. The latter is highly unlikely, right?
Hamed Abdel Samad wore what I would consider a fairly innocuous shirt on the street in Egypt (“God is busy. Can I help you?”). Watch what happens as a pushy, angry mob forms around him and he is blamed for “provoking” them.
You really don’t want to be anywhere near an Islamist or Christianist. They’ll use any excuse to bully you.
Marcus has a long post on hacker mythology — I don’t have his depth of experience on it, but I’ve had a little exposure.
Back in the 80s/90s, I was on the edge of hacker culture. I was cracking games, I was doing a little phone phreaking, I was poking around in that culture, reading the magazines and trying stuff out. My general impression: “This is easy.” A little knowledge about computers — an epiphenomenological sort of knowledge — was easily amplified into some success in breaking into things. I talked with “hackers” online, and was unimpressed. They could talk a good game, but they didn’t understand much. Their primary skill was in bragging.
Then I got a job as a systems manager for an academic unit, working with VAXen for a lot of scientists who just saw them as tools to get a job done, and they needed someone to take care of keeping everything running smoothly. I worked at that for a couple of years. General impression: “This is hard.” You had to dig deep to understand how to prevent harm to the system. Those were big complex operating systems, and you knew all it took was one of those idiots I used to be reading about some hole in one of many subsystems to take advantage, so you had to read everything and keep up with all those DECtapes that came rolling around with technical issues.
I pretty much lost all respect for so-called “hackers” fast, and have never seen the virtue of hiring hackers to improve security. You don’t hire people who know how to smash things with hammers to enhance the security of locks — they don’t know anything you don’t.