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francopoli  ·  39 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: October 11, 2017

200 hours of outreach work this year, not counting setup and tear-down. About 300 hours total over 55 events since January. Write that shit down, document every-fucking-thing and submit paperwork. Wait two weeks or so. And in the end you get these pretty little pins showing that you have done something that only 800 some-odd people have done. I'm tired, I'm a bit stressed from work and life, and the health situation is not in a good place. But these two awards have hit me a bit harder than I thought they would. The awards are numbered, and I honestly believed that there had been thousands of the awards given out. I know other people are doing astronomy outreach, they must not be paying membership dues and doing paperwork. With these two small bits of metal and ceramic and enamel, I have tangible proof that 2017 did not entirely suck a bag of erect cocks.

If the motto of our small community is "pushing back against the darkness" then I can say, with no hesitations, that I am doing my part.

francopoli  ·  251 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Sci-Fi club no. 29: Cowboy Bebop Discussion

The recent half of the family came over to get the hell out of Ireland when the Brits starved people intentionally, then sort-of intentionally, sort of accidentally started a religious civil war. According to the family bible, they stayed with black families that introduced them to Jewish people before they noped-the-hell-out of NYC and Boston in the 1830's. They ended up in Philly just in time to realize they had to go west. They kept a list of names of people that helped them out along the way and ended up mining in the Rocky Mountains when the Civil War started.

The father of one of the families notes in the margins of Romans 14 and not sure why this stuck with me, but in shaky pen was written: Hebrew fed me beef. First in my years eating flesh of cattle.

The older men in the group had to be in their 40's when they came over, so this was a 50ish year old man writing this statement. I wonder how many more Irish immigrants never ate cow/beef until they came to the US and started working here.

francopoli  ·  296 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: 0 of 38 members of the Texas congressional delegation support the border wallx 3

It's not a hope thing. It's an anger and frustration thing. They suck down more in SSI than I make a year, they have a full pension on top of that, have a house paid off, and with Prop. 13 in California are only paying $400 a year in property taxes, less than a third what I pay out in the sticks. And Medicare takes care of ALL their health bills. My dad retired after 30 years in a union job that offered they health care for life, so they get free Supplemental Medicare; they don't even pay deductibles. This is good for me as they are taken care of and I do not have to worry about my mom and dad ending up homeless. And here is where I start to get mother fucking hostile and angry at this generation of fuck shits.

The Boomers are the definition of privileged. They grew up in a superpower that invested heavily in the future. What did they do with the world they were given? Fucked over the planet's ecology, turned the US from the largest creditor nation ever seen to the largest debtor nation (IN EIGHT FUCKING YEARS BY THE WAY) Fucked over the educational system, tore up the unions, and sat in front of the TV for 40 years and did fuck all of nothing with the amazing gifts they were given. Computer revolution? their kids did that. Moon race? Their parents did that. They fucked up the housing market so bad I don't think it can be fixed. They turned College into a necessity then turned that need into a lifelong debt sentence while at the same time shitting on blue collar work that is in dire need of people. The one wage household died and was left as a rotting corpse in a barely read history book under their watch. Vaccinations that eliminated Polio, Measles, Smallpox etc? Their parents did that... they did so well that the anti-vax people are mow mostly the children of the people who worked so hard to eliminate those diseases. Now, Boomers like my parents whine that "those damn kids" (that they raised btw) are ruining everything and nothing is their fault. They are against tax reform unless it lowers taxes to starve the government, while also moaning that SSI is not giving COLAs. They suck down on Medicare while complaining of entitled Bernie people wanting socialized health care. And its not just my parents. It's most of them. The Boomers either became drug using burn outs (while also being the generation that waged an all out war on drugs), yuppies whom sold the industrial base to play stock market or apathetic losers who can't be assed to question the bullshit they suck down 12 hours a day from the media.

Boomers benefited from a functional government that would now be called socialist, then voted for three bands of robber barons that dismantled the benefits they were handed as children. Boomers gave us Reagan, W Bush and Trump. And while I have grave disagreements with Bill Clinton, he is going to get a pass by being lucky to get the benefits of the tech boom that masked the economic chaos of his war on pensions and unions not to mention the roll back of Roosevelt's work to separate banks from the stock market that lead to the '07 crash. More and more in my mind, it seems that everything the Boomer Generation touches turns to pure shit. The only 'hope' is that they all forgot to save for retirement as they voted to gut pensions and they all got fat and lazy so their life expectancy is dropping. We have maybe a decade left of the Boomers as a political force to have their one last hoorah at destruction, thank you for President Trump. Then the rest of us, I hope, can pick up the pieces and make some sort of future out of the ashes.

francopoli  ·  374 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Sense of Alienation

I'm a gamer. That means I hate women, am a part of the alt-right, am racist and one step away from shooting up a school.

I'm a metalhead. Which means I am a druggies who gets into fights, worships Satan and abuses Animals.

I play D&D. So I summon demons and participate in anti-social behavior.

I'm Irish. So I'm a drunken lazy lout good for nothing but menial labour.

I own guns, so there is that baggage.

I'm a liberal. Ever feel like you don't belong? Be the one liberal Sanders supporter at the gun range. There are literally dozens of us left-leaning gun nuts! DOZENS!

All my life I have been on the outside. All my life every problem has been my fault, my friends' fault. And every time these foolish stupid garbage discussions come up, the people pushing them turn out to be ugly people who buy drugs from gay male prostitutes, etc. There are a lot of people like us out there, the problem is that we are quietly doing our own thing and disgusted by the loud voices screaming from their blogs, from the TV from the pulpit, from the podium. It gets frustrating, it makes you angry. And I've been dealing with this shit for 40+ years now.

The only advice I can give you is build up thick skin. Learn to laugh at your adversaries. Fight for the ideas you believe in. Help those around you in need. Leave the place better than you found it. Don't be ashamed of who you are or the hobbies you have, or the people you vote for, or any of the incidental bullshit that is used to label you and put you in a cage. Be the better person.

Men are programmed to Build, it is sort of our purpose. So, build something with meaning. Build a group of friends that will walk through hell with you. Spend time with them, eat meals with them, fight the battles with them. Play games, tell jokes, pick them up when they fall, scream all the louder when you kick ass. The internet has been a disaster for friendships and interpersonal support groups; this is one reason I think that so many men kill themselves in this day and age. Trump won because there are millions of people out there that have been cut out of life. The jobs are gone, the communities are crumbling, the families are torn apart as the kids run the fuck away. Trump tapped into that anger and now he is President. We fight him by being better, by building freind circles, families and communities.

So many people have spent the last year in a filter bubble. I've been screaming at anyone who will listen that Trump was going to win, and I was told to shut up, I was called a "BernieBro" I was called a misogynist because I did not like Clinton, I was even called a neocon(!)...after writing checks to get a Socialist elected President. Yet, here I am, waiting for the rest of you to catch up to where I was six months ago. The thing about me? I've been called every name in the book; you cannot insult me. But when it comes time to clean house, to move forward? You bet your ass I am going to remember every one who shit on Sanders, on Dean, on Warren. We have a fight on our hands. We have the opportunity to build things. And IMO most of that building will be offline. Look at all the people saying they are going to be offline for a while, I don't think it is a coincidence.

So go out this weekend. Get real face time with people. Go to a protest and see that there are others like you out there. Go to a bar and watch an NFL game. Go get lost in a group of people. And next week let's start talking about the work ahead of us.

francopoli  ·  389 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Linux user's venture into the land of Windows 7

    I'm actually already anal about it due to colour blindness. When most cables look to you either black, grey, blue or brown and people tell you that 'the orange one connects X to Y rack'… you buy a hand-labeler, zip-tie bands, and keep meticulous notes like an OCD freak.

Monoprice if you do not know about them. Get cables in any size, shape, ends, length, color. It is cheaper to get the stuff from them than it is to make it yourself. And with your issue, you need to develop a colour code system (e.g. switch to switch black, gateway routers white something like that. We do switch to switch RED and our VMWare stuff YELLOW so you know not to mess with those connections) You might even want to think about using the different connectors as a way to segregate cable due to your limited colour palette.

    If you would happen to have anything to add, I'm always happy to get more insights like the one you gave already. Thank you once more! :D

Things they do not tell you in class, round 1.

Learn to write a proper IT email. It is part cover your ass, part WTF happened, part I fixed that shit. After you fix something, send an email documenting the event, no matter how small. Depending on NDA etc concerns, this email will have a TO and a CC field. The TO field is to the people who were impacted by the event; The customer, the department head, the people who fixed the problem, within reason. The CC field is for your boss, the email for your IT group where you keep your "CYA documents" aka cover your ass, and possibly the boss of people who are not on your team who helped out, especially if things went really well. Part two of this message is the subject. Short, to the point, almost bland "Report on trouble with customer X 10-26-2016" Something like that. Part three is a paragraph with no more than FOUR sentences. "There was a problem. We found the problem. We fixed the problem. Below is how we fixed it and how we are working to prevent issue in the future." 99% of the people you send this message to will stop reading at this point. The final part is a detailed description of the issue, how it was discovered, how it was fixed. This part is for you and the team so you have a record of things being fixed, and more importantly, how you fixed it for when it happens again. Writing this out will help you cement in your brain good troubleshooting and communication skills. One great bit of advice I saw is to read airline accident reports from crashes. You do not need to be that anal, but you want to be able to have a written record of how you solved problems and are now taking action to prevent the problem from occurring in the future. Even if the only person who gets this letter/email is you, writing it out and learning how to make an after action report like this is a part of the skill set that will cement and if by nothing more than rote repetition retain knowledge.

Also, people in general cannot write worth a shit. Write good, clean, concise messages and you will stick out. And remember, nobody reads past about four sentences.

Part of your job in IT is to be proactive. As a networking guy, get Nagios Core for free, and also MRTG and know how they work, why they work, and how to monitor your network tree. Learn how to do the alerts, SNMP, etc. This will also force you to dig into Linux a bit to learn postfix, scripting, etc that you will need in the future. Don't be like me and have a mental hump about coding and scripting, every networking job in the future is going to be at least a little bit coding. Know what is failing before the phone rings; I've had people call after I get the alerts and can then talk to someone impacted as if I am already working on the problem. Even if it feels like a minor thing, when you come off as a guy who knows what is going on, you instill confidence in your user base. Cisco also has monitoring tools, but you may end up in a non-Cisco environment and it is always nice to have free options. Nagios can also be set up to display on a Raspberry Pi as a web site on a bigger screen TV to act as a NOC screen, which looks cool as hell to the non tech people who walk through the office.

Another part of your job, one that is rarely talked about? Make you boss look good. If you can keep other people off your boss's back, and make their job easier, do it. Keep them in the loop, let them know if shit is happening. And if your boss does not respect your talents, time, effort or energy? With a CCNA you will get recruiting calls weekly with job offers, depending on where you live. This industry, for people who are good at their jobs, is too competitive to deal with shit tier direct reports. I could make double what I am making, and have had that offer, but my boss is awesome and I'm staying as long as she is.

You will have days that fuck all of nothing happens, and you will want to spend it on reddit and hubski. Read manuals instead. Document shit that has not been updated in a while. Start a WIKI for your work stuff. Because you will have days like I am having where I am on the go and working overtime to get a project done on time. I worked 13 hours today deploying computers, and have 100 more to go before we start wiping them and boxing them up for return. I'll not have a down day for at least a few weeks. You will also have times like these, but IMO, the crunches and the soft times even out over the year.

As a network guy, if you ever come into work and say "I'm bored" you better fix that shit. Either look at BIOS file updates, read manuals, check monitoring, document equipment and procedures, DO SOMETHING. Being bored when all the stuff is working will breed complacency and that becomes habit forming. Learn the good habits now and carry them forward; the people who need to notice these things? They do and will.

If I think of more stuff I'll post here.

francopoli  ·  430 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: September 14, 2016x 2

We were set up in public, with telescopes, looking at Saturn and the Moon. I was looking at Saturn, at high magnification, getting nothing but ohhhhs and ahhhs. One of the groups that came up to me included a kid, he could not have been more than 10. He stared at me, as in STARED at me in a way that I knew something was about to go down. I've done this enough that I can tell the kids that are there because of mom and dad, and the kids that are there because they are curious. (I've also been able to pick out the pick pockets and sneak thieves fortunately they are rare.) He asks to look through the telescope and I give him the spiel on how to look and where to look. One of the reasons I like doing this is to watch the faces... you can tell the INSTANT they see Saturn. Or Jupiter. Or the faint stuff. This kid never lost the stare, so I asked him if he saw the planet. He said he did. I asked if he saw the rings, the bands on the planet, the shadow of the globe on the rings. He stood there for a good 2-3 minutes. At these events the adults will stop and watch the kids as well while they wait patiently. he finally comes down from the stepladder, and his face is now much softer. More of a kid and less, well, adult. I then realized I am dealing with a kid with a shit homelife and just showed him something that he is trying to process.

As he moves aside to let his mom(?) look, I look him right in the eyes and say "neat, huh?" He stares at me. The face grows a bit more of what I like to call "puzzled, curious child" and I can see he as a question. Mom(?) starts saying prayers and praise Jesus as she looks. He then says, and I quote him exactly here: How long was it after you got out of jail that you bought the telescope?

This confused me and I really did not understand that. I wanted to ask him to repeat the question, but then thought through what he said. I replied "I've never been to jail. I had to save up a long time to get this from working my job." The reply hit me like a truck: "All the men I meet have been to jail."

I sat there with my head spinning for a moment, then saw that the line was gone. I look the kid in the eyes and say to him "Want to see something really cool?" He looks at me and nods. I put M11 in the eyepiece and show him how to see the "V" that makes up the "Wild Duck" of the Wild Duck Cluster. I explain that this is 2900 stars over 6000 light years away, and ask the mom(?) to take a look. All I can say to this kid is "Life is much bigger than we think, and the universe is infinite. We all have the opportunity to end up where we can do the most good." The mom(?) says "amen" and they move on. I hope I see the kid again; I'm kicking myself that I did not get his name.

Why do I type it as mom(?) in the above? I'm not sure if the lady was a guardian, a grandparent, an older sister. Hard to judge ages sometimes in the dark at these events. And with some families, there are questions that should not be asked.

That same evening about an hour later as we were talking about packing up, a Chaldean family walked up to us, very excited to be able to look through a telescope. Excited people we help and spend time with. There were 3 men, 3 women dressed and acting like their wives, and an elderly couple, obviously the parents. The older woman whispered in Arabic, and the older gentlemen asked me if his wife could look at the moon. I say sure, and move the telescope off of Saturn after giving the younger couples a glance. While the scope is moving he tells me he is from Baghdad, he left as a child in the 80's and they are touring the USA before they move back to Iraq. I set the scope up so that the whole of the moon is in the eyepiece. The men look first. Lots of chatter in Arabic, smiles, and handshakes. Then the ladies look. The elderly woman looks last, gasps, takes a step back and makes the sign of the cross and starts whispering in Arabic. The other women all look and chatter excitedly. I look at the elderly lady and ask if she wants to look again. She does, only this time she looks longer. Finally, in English "So Beautiful!" I smile at her husband and say "I think she sees it!" He then asks me, a great question: So, is this the same moon my family in Iraq is looking at? I reply "Yes! Only they are 12 hours away, so the sun is up there... when we have a sunrise, it will be sunset and moonrise in Iraq." The lady is in tears, mumbling "So Beautiful!" I look at her, and ask, Do you want to see it closer? She nods. I put in an eyepiece that goes from about 70 power to about 150 power so she can see right into the craters in the Southern Highlands near Tycho. I let the men look first, then the younger women, then she looks. She starts speaking in Arabic, faster, more of a mumble to her husband. For a few minutes, I explain to the husband how Tycho formed, how big it is (54 miles), how the big mountain (1 mile tall) in the center formed, and that the impact made the bright rays they say before and he translates to the wife, eye glued to the telescope. The Husband tells me that his wife has always loved the moon as it reminds her of when they used to watch it back in Iraq when she was a little girl, and that they have never looked through a telescope before. He also asked me how I knew he was Chaldean, I told him where I grew up and he laughed. His family moved there not too long ago. We said goodbye and wished each other well in our travels.

It seems that every other time that I think this outreach stuff is not worth it, something like the above happens and it makes me realize that I may be making my tiny little corner of the earth suck a bit less.

So, this is going to be long, and you and I are not going to see eye to eye on this matter. That's fine. We can disagree and have a back and forth; that is how we grow as people. So below is my argument why "hate speech" laws are bad.

But first, what is hate speech, anyway and how do we deal with it?

In Germany, you cannot wear Nazi symbols, you cannot do the Nazi salute, Hitler memorabilia is illegal to display and it is illegal to deny the Holocaust. As a Lefty-Liberal type, this sounds GREAT! Those types of people were malevolent and anti-humanity so good, keep them out of the public debate, right? Only, that never works. Instead of tamping down on the hate from these groups, they retreated to the shadows and formed tight-knit groups, brotherhoods, who have a real persecution complex. The banning of the Nazi stuff ended up fetishizing it. Nazi stuff is on the rise in Germany, and the migrant crisis is only fueling the inclusiveness of these groups, making them stronger and bolder. Now, take what the rest of us have done. Hitler is a joke, a gag, a punchline. Danger 5 is hilarious in that the Nazis are a punchline. The term "Master Race" once made whole continents tremble, now it is best known as a reddit circle-jerk. The Nazis are being defeated, 70 years later, with snark, comedy, and satire. If someone here says they like the Nazis, they get laughed at. The fear the Brown Shirts imposed on the globe has been reduced to mockery and amusements.

But that sidesteps the original question, doesn't it. What is Hate Speech?

In Thailand, any criticism of the king and his position in society is considered a hateful act and they throw people in jail for such acts. The authorities will even demand foreign media hand over data on Thai citizens who they SUSPECT of this hate speech. This law is not being used to protect the fragile ego of a throwback to an ancient time; this law is being used by a military government to stomp down on dissenters and trouble makers.

But that sidesteps the original question, doesn't it. What is Hate Speech?

There is a sizable group of people online who think that any and all critique of their ideas is hateful. This debate comes to its ugly terminus in blasphemy laws. There are still nations in the modern era that state in their laws that criticizing the dominant religion is an act of hate that deserves punishment. Hopefully, nobody here on Hubski is going to defend anti-blasphemy laws, but there are still people in the US who think we need to protect faith and religion and even political ideals from any harmful speech. Saying "I do not believe in God" or "I am a Christian" or "I am Jewish" or even "I am a Muslim" in the wrong country and you do time in jail, or worse. Blasphemy is hate speech in the eyes of these people.

But that sidesteps the original question, doesn't it. What is Hate Speech?

So we've seen the hard right in action, now let's look at the other side of the horseshoe and look at the left. There are groups in Norway and Sweden that tried to pass laws in 2013 to make criticism of Feminism a crime as hate speech. Anita Sarkesian went to the UN and said that hate speech and harassment was as simple as saying "You Suck" and calling her a liar in a response video. Is pointing out someone's falsehoods 'hate speech?' Talk to some of the feminists from the 70's, however, who had their clinics firebombed, lost their jobs, had their husbands run off etc and ask them if this is hate speech. Or talk to the women fighting to end genital mutilation if being called a liar is hate speech.

But that sidesteps the original question, doesn't it. What is Hate Speech?

So, to answer the question, hate speech is not an ends, it is a means. No matter where you are on the political spectrum, someone out there is your opposite. That is the way we hairless apes seem to work (oh, and in some Catholic circles, acknowledging that humans are descended from apes and evolution is real is considered a hatred of Gods divine creation). Any time you limit a voice in the conversation ,no matter how foul, you don't make those thoughts go away and instead they go underground and fester into a malignant tumor that ends up damaging the host (the rest of us). As I have said elsewhere on hubski, I want my racist assholes out, loud and proud. I want them to have marches, wave their flags, have parades the whole bit. Because when they are talking, I'm mocking them. I'm also showing other people that we have a long way to go towards a humanist ideal where the accident of the ticket we punched at birth defines everything about us. And it gives me, as a private nobody, the right to know who the racist assholes are and not associate with them.

Living in a society with liberal free speech laws and protected speech like we do can be frustrating, annoying and make you angry. There are people here who say things that I think are offensive and wrong, but I don't shut them down I either engage if there is a conversation to be had, or let them have their say and see if I can get some insight into why someone would believe that crap. As I am certain that there are people in here who think I'm an asshole who should shut his keyboard. We all have experiences to bring to the table. You don't have to agree, you don't even have to engage, and you certainly don't have to associate with people whom you have major disagreements with. Nobody is saying that the Black Lives Matter people and the KKK have to friend each other on Facebook... yet.

So, what do I mean when I say that hate speech laws are a means, not an end? People in power are all terrible people, that is what. The hate speech laws that you pass to ban the thoughts you don't like will eventually ban YOUR thoughts as well. Think of something that you believe, a religion, a political action, that someone out there finds unpleasant. Now imagine they have the power to shut you up, or worse. The end of this ramble is that all of this concept is just circling the drain of one word; Feelings. Feelings and emotions do not belong in law. My dad once told me that when men get emotional, people get hurt and die, and that has sort of stuck with me all these years. A bit harsh, but there is a significant nugget of truth there. Did the bad words do harm? If the answer is "I feel like they did" then toughen the hell up and repeat after me 'Sticks and stones will break my bones; words will not hurt me.' If the words did actual harm to you, lawyer up and use the slander and libel laws we have in place here in the west to defend yourself. Yea, it sucks that lawsuits are expensive and all, but the reality of the internet is that every dumbass with an opinion now has a megaphone. And I do science outreach in and area with a real, honest to god flat earth contingent.

Does this mean a free for all in the speech front? No. There are rules. Threats should be looked at; the people blowing off steam let them go, the guy who says "I'm gonna kill XXXX" then goes to the gun store? Maybe he should get a visit from the cops and a restraining order. Don't lie about people. Stuff like that. Shouting "fire" in a building to cause a panic is illegal already and I agree with that in full. But spouting racist garbage on the internet does nothing but show that you are an idiot.

This gets to the next thing I want to touch on. I disagree with the term "Cyber Violence." There is no such thing (cue incoming hatred, I can take it but hear me out first.) Maybe because I grew up in the rough an tumble of real fights and real violence, but words on the internet don't impact me. The Chinese have a word, and it fits so perfectly: Strawberry Children. These are people who wilt in the faintest criticism, bruise easily and can't take the hard knocks of life. And it is not just the Millennials. I've dealt with 60 year old strawberries who cannot deal with people who are not exactly the same as they are. If you are getting shit-on in an online space, then either learn to fight back or turn the computer off for a day or two. This is the internet, people! most nonsense has a shelf life of hours and as long as you don't Streisand yourself into Infamy, you will be fine. Or, 'git gud' and fire back and become a legend and earn the respect of your adversaries.. or at least stop being a doormat so you don't get so much crap flung at you. (remember kids, bullies tend to be cowards and the only real way to deal with them is to not be a victim) Hell those assholes might even end up being your friends later down the road.

And finally, a note on what I think and education SHOULD be. The purpose of an education should be to expose you to the wider world, give you the skills to deal with people outside your comfort circle and give you a cultural center so that you can communicate to other people in your country/state etc. Part of growing up is learning how to deal with people who are different than you. People who look different, go to different churches, live in different parts of town etc. A good education will build within you an empathy for others. This is why segregation and filter bubbles are bad and why they need to be fought. A Great Education will even instill character, honor and strong sense of self. The kids at Oberlin and I walk in different worlds and almost certainly will never meet. So why do I care? You don't go to a place like Oberlin for an education, you go there to meet the kids of other rich and powerful people and network with them. People who go to schools like this end up writing legislation, working on campaigns, sitting on the Boards of big companies and have a big impact on how us peons in the muck live and work. That is why I care what they are learning and how they are organizing themselves. And one of the first things that show up in hate crime legislation tends to be the language poor people use. Having a generation of kids go to college and come out with the idea that free speech is a bad thing is not healthy for the long term survival of a democracy in my mind.

You and I are probably not going to see eye-to-eye here. And that's fine. I follow you because you have a neat outlook on life and have had interesting things to say in the past. I'm looking forward to seeing where this conversation goes. Thanks.

francopoli  ·  557 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: May 11, 2016

The parents are here, sleeping, getting used to the time change. The one spot I did not clean knowing my mom would demand to clean something worked, and the two bathrooms are spotless. BTW, if you have bad stains, do this just stop asking questions, and do it. I'm freaking sold. You need to use the blue dawn, the 2x concentrate, and it stinks a bit, but man, it's like new in the house. Now to play tourist, eat at kitschy restaurants, tour distilleries and finish a talk I need to give on Saturday.

But all I have running in my head right now in the number eight.

Edit: removed from feed. Thanks for the words, but this is not something I need in my feed. And thanks lil for the badge.

Finally, if you did well in the birth lottery and your parents don't suck, tell them you love them and thank them.

francopoli  ·  565 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Catching a Flight? Budget Hours, Not Minutes, for Security

I was going to write this up with links to facts and tons of data, but that is not what you need here. So, from some random asshole on the internet, stop for a second and hear me out. But first, a sound track No real reason for the 2nd, just what I am listening to now.

    Ok this is me having an anxiety riddled moment.

The reality of us as men living in the West is as follows. The number one cause of non-natural death for men under 40 is suicide. Number two? Car accidents. Then all work related injuries, then the category i loving call "hold my beer and watch this." Then and only then does homicide make the list. The only single health category that fits in the top 5 is cancer. Here is the 2013 list of all men in the USA, so everyone from newborns to the guys who died at 105. Crime in the US/Canada is at all time lows, something we here on Hubski have talked about in previous threads related to Stephen Pinker, for example. The reality of violent crime is that as long as you are not involved in the illegal drug trade, even if you are poor, the odds of you being injured in a crime are damn near zero. Look at that chart again. Crime is not even in the list. Homicide is on the list of black men and we should all be ashamed at that, but let's focus on the positives here.

You are more likely to be killed by a cop during a traffic stop than by a terrorist. There were 13,000 or so homicides in 2014; that same year there were closer to 45,000 automobile fatalities. This number includes about 5,000 on motorcycles. Why don't we freak out over the body count from cars? Because they are familiar. I am willing to bet that everyone here knows someone who has been impacted by an automobile fatality... How many of us know someone who died in a plane crash? Or a terror attack? Or any of the other big scary things we see on TV? Probably not many. That leads to a part of the problem.

    Is the world getting smaller?

Yes. When someone gets shot in the "bad part of town" it is all over the news. we can pull up google maps and street view the crime scene. We can measure how many blocks away the crime was. Even though the way cities work you are probably not going to interact with anyone involved with the event. You did not know this place existed until the news of the crime was all over the place. Now, think Pakistan. There was a terror bombing there in April that made national news. The local websites and news stations covered it with gruesome images of scared kids, bleeding women and dead bodies. Why? Because fear and panic sell advertising space, that is why. A plane crash in Russia that kills 30 people makes international news because plane crashes are very, very rare. After 9/11 people bailed on the airlines and drove instead. The high numbers of people on the roads versus the air lead to a statistical bump in fatalities from car accidents that rivaled the number of people killed in the attack.

    Are our lives getting smaller and more constrained? Are possible futures being killed in the crib as we slowly lose little bits and pieces of peace of mind and personal freedom?

Sadly, yes. Human beings are NOT RATIONAL CREATURES. Say that a fucking million times until it sinks in. We are emotional basket cases, and advertisers and marketing people spend billions on how to get that little reptile control portion of your brain to react before the monkey brain can kick in and say "stop, idiot!" Since fear and death and terror and horror and crime and murder and all the bad scary nonsense gets eyeballs, and eyeballs sell ad copy, well here we are. The two big cities here in Kentucky just finished up a massive planning outlay for the next 20 years. This plan impacts the lives of every single person living in the two of the 50 biggest population centers in the USA, more than 1/2 the state. And it impacts the way visitors travel through these two metro areas. These plans are nowhere on the main news websites. NOWHERE. But the attack in Pakistan is. The stupid shit Clinton and Trump are saying sure is. These plans marry us to the automobile for a generation, impact the density of the urban infill and impact the very air we breathe and water we drink. Why nowhere on the news? Because it is boring and you can't sell advertising around it. Land abatement, environmental impact trust transfers, zone density targets, and waste water control easements don't trigger the reptilian emotional response. Hell, the 4-5 people reading this probably instinctively tuned out reading that sentence; I'd doubt there are more than 5 people here on Hubski who even know what those things are (and I was one of them until I started getting active with the parks system and light pollution activism). I know those terms exist but I doubt I could explain them, so how is the bobble-head on the 5 O'clock news supposed to do that in 15 second blurbs around the crime footage? Yet, these plan gut public transport and change the way most of us out here will get to work, where we will work, and how much in taxes we pay to make it happen.

    I don't think I know a single person my age who associates any good feeling with airports.

That age is over. The joy I had meeting my dad at the gate after he came home from his dad's funeral, and the way his whole body shifted from a dour stoop to a standing tall smile when he saw his family greeting him and cheering lights up my memories damn near 40 years later, then I am saddened as this emotion is something that people today are not going to experience, ever again in an airport. The meeting at the baggage claim is one of business, not emotion: get the bags, jostle for room, get out. We've let fear trump sanity, and the needed changes to keep the bad guys off the planes have turned into a gong show instead. And as has been said elsewhere, if the bad guys really wanted to hurt us they'd never touch an airport ever again and instead buy a trucking company.

    We are not meant to resolve all contradictions but to live with them and rise above them and see them in the light of exterior and objective values which make them trivial by comparison.

That was said by Thomas Merton a monk who went to isolate himself from humanity only to realize that we need to work to make the place suck a little less for those who follow. I really wish I knew of the guy when I was still a Catholic... I'm not sure what the change would be, but I learned of him after moving out to Kentucky. The one good thing about religion is that there are a ton of people who wandered out into the nothingness and came back with insights into the human condition. When I stopped being the atheist asshole online and went back to read some of the non-canonical gospels I also started to read on the philosophers and monks for insights into why people do stupid shit. It did not help with the understanding, but I did get insights into Stoicism and in dealing with a world that I don't always feel a part of. Social media is not making us better as I had hoped when I first got on the internet over 30 years ago. It is also not making us worse... yet. The internet and social media is amplifying our common traits which is why the festering sewer that is Reddit will come through once in a while and raise money for a good cause or help someone out who has been wronged in some big way. It also feeds gofundme's of liars and opportunists and cultists, but that stuff existed before the internet only not as loud and profitable.

So what do we do? Ban carry on gear and force people to fly naked? Declare martial law, put cameras everywhere and end liberty? Or do we realize that there are real things that we can fight that will make things better, vote for people who won't make the situation worse, stand with our friends when they fall, fight the battles to make our homes better than when we found them? One of the reasons that I think the suicide rate is so high is the push-pull from living in a safe environment while being force-fed a steady pop culture diet of "OMG WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!111!!" I've fought this part of my personal battle by disengaging from the media and the news. I read news instead of watch it as that helps me digest data slower and makes me think about it more. I love the work that the Green Brothers have done, but fuck me I cannot watch JUMPCUT their JUMPCUT videos JUMPCUT as I don't have a damaged attention span. Realize that people have been having this conversation for about, oh, forever, and we are not going to fix it now. But, we can make it suck less for ourselves and those around us, control our reactions to the world and do better than our parents.

There are still people alive who were born in the 1800's. Think about that world they came into. They lived to see Electricity and clean water become a thing. They lived to see the creation of the suburbs, the introduction of the automobile, two World Wars, the end of the Ottoman Empire, the end of the British Empire, 1/3 of all US history, the rise of the educated American Middle Class, the end of Jim Crow, gay people and inter-racial couples not being killed for whom they love. They lived to see controlled powered flight, then jets, then space, all before they hit 70! They lived to see Measles, Polio, Whooping Cough, and Small Pox, wiped out of most of the human population. The diseases that filled the old cemeteries with the corpses of kids and infants, GONE. So gone in fact the anti-vax movement can take hold because the institutional memories of burring infants and toddlers does not exist here in the west. Radio, Television, movies, the Internet all came to be in their lifetime! Think about the wonders we will see in the next 50ish years. And stop watching video news, it exists to make you feel like shit so you by the Testosterone 5000 car and the body soap sold by the guy with muscles on his muscles. We are all on an involuntary rapidly accelerating train ride that ends six feet in the dirt feeding worms. And every one of us is fighting the same battle you are. Welcome to the suck, man; embrace it and enjoy the adventure wherever it takes you.

francopoli  ·  609 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Lunar X, Imaged by ME!

    Question: why is seeing and capturing the X a big deal?

For 99.9999% of humanity, it is not a big deal at all. There is really no science to be done here, after all the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has fully mapped the moon down to the meter resolution level. The "X" has been know about for at least a generation, so it is not like I am the first to see it. And the reality is that outside of a few nerds here and there, nobody cares.

But I do. The "X" is only visible for about an hour every Lunar month, and it is only visible to the US in dark skies about 2-3 times a year. So it is a rare thing to see. I've seen images of it, seen video of it, seen other people excited about the "X" but never got to see it with my own eyes before. Seeing something is an entirely different thing and looking at a picture. Take for instance, oh, at random.. The Antenna galaxies. I can show you amazing photos from Hubble and some of the big telescopes in vivid colours swirling texture and amazing detail. I've seen them with my own eyes and they look more like this under very dark skies and clean air with no moon out to mess with your night vision. Honestly, seeing them takes a 12" or larger telescope, a few hours to get acclimated to the dark, make sure equipment is in tune etc, and is a pain in the rear. Most people are never going to go through that effort to see something that a normal person will say "that it?"

But there is something more than just looking. It is the knowing that a few measly photons of light traveled at least 50 million years uninterrupted through the dead, dark of space and ended up triggering a chemical reaction in the rods and cones of the eye of a hairless chimp on a tiny spinning ball of iron covered in silicate rocks. An event that otherwise has no purpose in the grand scheme of the universe impacted the eyeball of a creature with enough brain and mental energy to say "I understand."

When I give telescope classes, I get sort of laughed at when I talk about the, and I hate this word but it fits, 'spiritual' aspects of astronomy. Looking at the sky, seeing things that even 100 years ago were not understood, not known, though impossible and you get a sense of scale and awe that is hard for me to put into words. I've seen, with my eyes, a galaxy whose light has been traveling longer than complex life has existed on earth. I've seen with my own eyes the proof that space-time curves, that gravity bends light, and at the same time had light that traveled roughly EIGHT BILLION YEARS hit the back of my retina (This took a special night at a star party with a 30" telescope. The owner screamed at people to come and look; he had a line all night and the guy was in tears he was so happy he could show people something that defines awesome in every sense of the word.)

So, why is the "X" important? It is something that I have wanted to see but either get clouds, or work, or I forget to set an alarm, all the little ways that I have missed this over the years. For the same reason that tonight I am going to freeze my ass off in windy freezing frost-laden air to get a picture of Jupiter with two moons, two shadows and the Great Red Spot all facing the earth. I'm so expecting to suffer to see this that I preemptively took tomorrow off to recover. I've seen this image with the Hubble and from people far more advanced in photography than I but I have never seen it with my own eyes. This comes back to why I do outreach as well. When someone at random comes across you and your gear in a park, and see the moon for the first time, or Jupiter, Saturn's rings, and exclaim "you can see that!??!??!" or "I never knew you could do this" I see the same thing. The seeing... that is something that you just cannot duplicate in any other way to make it have a meaning.

The 'why' is a great question. Thank you for asking it.

francopoli  ·  642 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: February 17, 2016

    I got into an argument on the Internet a couple days ago. It really is a losing battle - I have no doubt now that many people don't interact with the real world.

I grew up before the Internet; I've been online since before the ".com" ".net" and ".org"domains existed. And when I hear people complain about the state of discourse on the Internet it drives home something about how I grew up. Because you are exactly correct that the Internet sucks for conversation and debate. To explain it, I have to take you back to the dark ages.

Where I grew up "talk shit, get hit" was a real thing. We did not call it that back then, I don't think the reality of what we did even had a name. It just was. If a friend said something off kilter, a few knuckles to the chest and arms would result in a polite discussion and a fair exchange of ideas... and a few bruises along the way. If someone not a friend started stalking smack about you and the people you hung out with, well, we could not let that stand at all. So you and a few of your buddies would find the offender and have a nice civil discussion on personal etiquette and how to properly behave in public. Sometimes, these 'discussions' would involve 20-30 people. Sometimes, these debating societies would involve baseball bats, plastic pipe and thrown objects.

Every hear the expression "beat the shit out of you?" Yea, that happens. Hit someone in the sides or stomach hard enough and they lose bowel control. Fucking hilarious when the other guy shits himself, not so much when it is you with the brown trousers.

The thing about these fights, however, is even though we were a bunch of stupid cocky teenagers, there were rules. AND YOU OBEYED THE RULES OR ELSE. If you have a beef with someone, you and the other person figure it out. If you drag some muscle into the argument, don't whine if I bring an army and call you a pussy for not standing up for yourself. Families were off limits, no matter what. You don't lay a beat down on someone's brother or cousin if your beef is with him. Jobs and employment were a total off limits. You start shit at my job, you will get beaten down and I will bring an army with me, and nobody will come to your aid. And don't mess up someone's face unless they break the rules of the fight. If you show up with black eyes and a broken nose, everyone knows you did something to deserve it. That or you suck at fighting and you run your mouth too much which falls into the "you deserved it" territory (this was me as a teen until I got bigger and learned to dodge).

From the nostalgia goggles, it was a bit of fun, and there was some camaraderie building. But as an adult, if my kids acted the way I did, I'd freak the hell out. Many of our parents did; some of our parents were shit human beings who used their kids to fight a proxy war. Life is not all that simple for some people growing up. I realize I'm sounding like something out of "Lord of the Flies" or something but the reality is that having an argument face to face while 20+ people circle around you waiting for the signal to throw-down teaches you conflict resolution in a way that the Internet will never, ever, be able. I've had fights where we were beating each other down then suddenly look at each other and have this look like "dude, why are we doing this again?" and can go back to whatever task had been interrupted. But no matter what the outcome of the fight, there WAS an outcome, a resolution and a change in the pecking order. We were boys, it was expected that we would fight a little bit as long as it did not get out of control (or we hid it from our parents so our dads did not beat the shit out of us later for allowing a fight to get that bad).

Interestingly, the only thing that would unite us as a group was when the cops came investigating "reports of fighting" or we helped track the cops who liked to beat the living hell out of the filthy Irish kids. I've had conversations with cops explaining that. no I've not been fighting sir, nope not at all, with a crooked nose and a fading shiner. I' not sure what that adds to my point, but I still think it's funny.

This may sound like I'm advocating fist fights. No, oh god no. A fist to the face sucks. A blunt object to the solar plexus is even worse and screws you up for a week if you are strong and lucky. I have a broken nose, a broken cheek bone and a leg that aches when the weather changes due to this shit. But the one thing I can say about these fights? Every single one was honest. You knew were you stood before, during and after. If you were there with friends, they hopefully pulled you out before things went too far. After the fight there was a resolution and the argument was over. No Internet slap fight is honest in the same way. I used to be heavy into the online atheist community and would go out and pick fights with Evangelicals. I stopped when I realized that there was no purpose to these fights, no resolution, no reason for them other than to inflate my ego. Nothing keeps your ego in check like a fist to the shoulder blade and you cannot get that experience behind a keyboard.

One of the things I enjoy about Hubski is that this is not the correct type of forum for the rabid shit-stirring Evangelical types.. of any stripe. You either come here to have a discussion or else you end up screaming into the great bit bucket as more and more people get sick of your shit and block you. It can be rough reading opinions you think you hate, or hearing people defend things you aggressively disagree with or stepping back from the computer and drinking a nice cup of coffee before finding your zen and then deciding to reply or not. There are people on this site that are the exact polar opposite to me in my political views, but they are still interesting people who have interesting perspectives on life that I don't share. That does not make them any worse a person than I am, it just makes them different. And the thing that gets lost in all the shit-slinging is that talking to people with different ideas, philosophies, politics, life outlooks etc makes you a better person. Listening to the opposition forces you to defend your ideas, come to an understanding of why people think different than you do and either soften your positions or at least teach you how to better defend what you believe. When I was able to work and associate with people different than myself and those differences became trivial to the person as a whole, where the character, honesty and decency mattered more than any of their beliefs, that is when I knew I was an adult who had finally "grown up." I realize it sucks because you want to argue and defend your world view, and when people shit on your life it pisses you off. I realize that, I've been there, and I still struggle with that battle even now as it is hard for me to write things without a rush of emotionally charged words behind what I say (and I edited this post several times to make it more neutral, I hope). The only thing I can do for you is to have you look at how us old farts grew up and be better than us moving forward. And Hubski is a good place to hang out to make that happen.

francopoli  ·  680 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Your Job Is Pointless

    How much money do you have in the bank?

One year's take home pay not counting 401K and investments.

    If you stop working now, how many years could you live with that money, in a decent cheap house (in a cheap part of your country, not even in a cheap foreign country)

If I stretched it, sold the house lived in a shitty apartment, 2-3 years. Having lived in shitty apartments let me say that I will never allow myself to do that again, and I won't ever do it willingly. How about you?

    Remember you do not have to work: so no transit, no representation shopping, plenty of time, so you can enjoy repairing broken furniture instead of replacing it, you can enjoy cooking instead of going out, etc.. You can fish, but will more likely buy fish... fish are cheap. How many years?

This sounds like hippy bullshit so let's break it down.

    so no transit

So, you are never going to leave home? Walk everywhere? Bike? Bikes cost money, walking costs time and burns food that will have to be procured. Walking a few miles a day is very energy intensive and that energy needs to be replaced or you get sick and hurt.

    no representation shopping

Which I personally don't do. I spend my money on my hobbies and books. I guess we need to define "representation shopping?"

    plenty of time, so you can enjoy repairing broken furniture instead of replacing it,

Repairing furniture is a skill you get better at. Depending on costs involved, this does not take a lot of time. Hell under your system, build your own furniture. But don't buy the lumber cause you don't work. So go find trees, cut them down. Go find sheep and make the wool. Go find deer and cows to skin for leather. Grow a few hundred acres of cotton for fabric.

    you can enjoy cooking instead of going out

I already cook my own meals and rarely eat out. Are there people who need this bit of advice? sure. So I'll give you 1/2 this point. The raw ingredients still need to come from somewhere, food will need to be stored and defended against the elements and vermin, and cooking implements will need to be either made or procured.

    You can fish, but will more likely buy fish

What in the actual fuck? Where the hell do you live that you think someone can just pick up and live off the land? I mean I live out in the middle if the USA and I can't pull this one off. Studies I see say you need 5 acres to feed yourself. one such link That much land is about 300K out here if you have access to water, and that does not necessarily include a stream or pond with fish in it. Unless you own 20 acres you need to pay for hunting licenses, deer tags etc. Then you need to build a shelter. And the starting livestock (go with goats they are easier than cows and take less room).

I'm getting a vibe off you that have some overly romantic version of life that will be crushed in 30 minutes of living out in the sticks. I could up and quit right now, buy land and have the cash to live for a while. But I know shit about farming, rural living, auto repair and the tens if not hundreds of skills needed to not die on my own. This is how a specialized economy works. I do something that is needed, you do something else that is needed, and we use that labour to pay for the services of other people who do work that needs to be done. Farmers farm, milling companies turn that into food, trucking companies ship it, retailers store and sell the final goods. Money makes that all happen otherwise the farmer has to spend a not minimal time doing tasks that are not farming.

    Those years measure the part of your income that go into paying for the obligatory expense your working lifestyle impose upon you.And that's my only argument: money you get from work is overrated, it is mostly useful because you work.

Maybe if you make minimum wage. Or have some insane crazy expensive lifestyle. I have to keep track of work expenses for tax purposes, and less than one week a year is needed to pay for my work related expense. This is everything I need to 'work' and use for work alone. My car makes me mobile so I am not stuck in the house all the time, along with taking me to work. My house (worth below median value for the area if that is important to you) holds my stuff, lets me get a good sleep, keeps me warm and dry at night and is almost paid off. My yearly utilities cost less than two weeks of full time work a year, my insurance bill is about a week's employment, so even if I am generous and include that, I am spending about a month's labour to "work" and everything else is for my life.

Off the grid living is not camping, and if that is your goal, cool go for it. But for a sizable chunk of people that ain't gonna happen. The first bad rain, or -20F night or the first time you slip and gash your leg open or even coming to the realization that a "hunter-gatherer" life is brutal and short will make you realize why people in those societies die young.

    There must be a case for a sustainable innovative world where we work 15-10-5h/week. But obviously we will be too bored to indulge in it.

Now this I agree with. And better utilization of our workforce is something I think we should talk about.

francopoli  ·  773 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Religious Freedom - HELP ME

    -The small business pharmacist forced to fill a prescription for abortive birth control

Pharmacists are held to a moral code of ethics that they cannot deny care to people in need. Link If you cannot treat people coming to you, don't be a pharmacist. As a medical care giver, you are held to a standard that is higher than a normal profession. MD's are not allowed to discriminate either, and some are pissed that they have to see black, or Catholic, or Jewish etc people. They do it anyway because that is in their professional code of ethics. This is a great topic, but certain professions are (supposed) to be above the foolish superficiality of man.

    -The Christian Student club being shut down by the university for wanting to have a Christian leader.

Right to free assembly. This would get thrown out of as soon as the first pro-bono lawyer showed up on the door. You can't put a priest in charge of a secular society. A high school in either north Florida or Georgia tried to do this as a way to "covert" the heathens, and the case was laughed at by the courts. The funny (haha?) thing is that it was religious groups demanding to be let into schools that allowed so many secular and atheist clubs. The law in question and the court case. Every single law we have the defends the religious to freely worship as long as they are not harming others also protects those of no faith. If a club was in this situation, a call to the Thomas Moore Law center would end that practice with a mere phone call (unless the people in charge of the school are idiots and have the money to pay for the club's legal fees that is). Note that private schools have a whole different set of rules and bylaws, and wanting to start a Christian club in a secular private school is going to be an adventure.

    -The Photographer being sued and fined for choosing not to photograph a gay wedding.

"I'm sorry but I am not comfortable in that situation. However, I know a person who does awesome gay and lesbian wedding photography and understands what you want better than I can; she sends very religious people to me because I understand their wedding needs better than she does. Here is her number, and congrats on your big day!"

How fucking hard is this? I am asking as a serious question. If you want to not make money due to faith or religion or politics or ideological reasons, fine, be poor that is your choice. Find another baker/photographer/florist/welder/heavy equipment operator/whatever who's work you like and are comfortable recommending and make a referral deal with them. The people coming to you, assuming they are not jerks, may be a bit peeved, but hey you were polite, treated them as human beings and helped them solve a problem. Boom, done. And if they go to the media, you get a chance to go out (gods all help you with that) and explain that you reached out to others who you could refer to and you look like the bigger person.

    If I'm a minister, should I be forced to marry a gay couple?

No, and there are already laws that govern how religious leaders are treated in the public sphere. Incidents in the current time frame show this repeatedly. Furthermore, there is a lot of wiggle room in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that the courts need to work out. But with more and more churches being "gay friendly" (is that even a term to use?), why would you as a gay couple want to stay in a church that disobeys Jesus' command to love one-another? The sticking point is when it is a government office and not a church. Government cannot, should not, discriminate and follow the law. If you are a very devout person of faith and don't want to officiate a gay civil union as a part of your duties as a county clerk, find another job.

Taxpayer funded entities like schools, courts, police, roads, utilities should not discriminate at all. Ever. And if anyone here can find a way to make that happen let's get you on Oprah, stat. People are not perfect; if we were the world would be boring and we would not have conversations like this. You cannot use schools to recruit for your church. You cannot use the courts to search for "sinners" to save. You cannot use the police to harass people who don't go to your church or who look different than you, or make less money than you. (yea I could not type that with a straight face but that is the goal is it not?)

You are not the book you worship, you are not the building you go to when you want to pray, you are not even the faith you believe. We are all the sun total of our character. We are the deeds we do, good and bad. We are the decisions we make, good and bad. If a religious faith helps you make good choices and helps you be a better person who help to make the spinning ball of filth we call home better? Awesome keep it up. If you faith tells you to hate those guys over there who go to a different church? yea, stop that. This is why there is (should be) a wall of separation between state and church.

    So I struggle because I refuse to live in fear, but on the same token - I don't want to get told I'm going to get sued for something that is against my moral compass or religious creed.

Most faiths have some sort of golden rule that can be summed us as so: Don't be a dick to people. I believe as the prophets Bill and Ted said best: Be excellent to each other. Help when you can, suggest alternatives when you cannot. I'm so glad that I discovered Stoicism when I was studying to be a Jesuit a million years ago as it has helped center me in ways nothing else has. You control nothing but your reactions to stimuli. Be the cool head in the center of the room and use your virtue as your anchor.

    Can't we all just get along?

The older I get, the more hope I have. But it is a work in progress, and that job is never finished. All we can do is make those who follow us a little better that we were, and hope they d the same.

francopoli  ·  810 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Carbon dating suggests early Quran is older than Muhammad [really?]

God. Fucking. Dammit. I did an outreach event today and explained carbon dating to 20 people standing around me. I'll do here what I did out in the real world.

Let's start with some basics. First off, Journalists suck as science. All of 'em. Even the science reporters suck. So, we got to take a step back and explain what "carbon dating" is. Carbon has two stable isotopes C12 and C13. C12 is about 99% of all the carbon and C13 is about 1%. EXCEPT! Biology has a preference to C12 and C12 will be a higher percent of organic material. This, by the way, is how we know oil and coal are biological in origin, and how the increase in CO2 being released is from burning coal and oil.

Moving on. There is an unstable form of Carbon called C14. C14 has a half life of roughly 5700 years +/- 50 years. This means on average, 1/2 of your C14 will decay into Nitrogen14 roughly every 5700 or so years. So, why is there still C14 if it all turns into something else? C14 is made in the atmosphere due to the nitrogen in the air being bombarded by cosmic radiation. This is a fairly steady rate, and has been verified by tree ring counting, archaeology, and sediment studies. (For example, we know a house was made in 1072 from trees that were cut down at that time, so we carbon date the wood. Since we know the exact year the wood died we can calibrate the measurements. Scientists do this all over the world as each biome has different tree ring patterns) As a living plant inhales C02, it takes the carbon from the air and locks it into the plant via photosynthesis. (Trees grow by sequestering carbon from the air and turning it into wood which is why growing trees is a way to combat global warming.) Animals eat the plants and accumulate C14 as well, but the C14 in animals is not as reliable due to may reasons. C14 does not work on anything that was not alive, and works best in woody plants, trees, shrubs and other perennials that live multiple seasons. C14 also does not work well on aquatic plants and animals due to the way that the C14 is produced.

While alive, the plant or animal will intake C14 at a reasonable steady rate and lock that into its body. When the plant or animal dies, it stops taking in C14, which will then decay into the N14 mentioned above. We measure the dates of C14 testings, called radiocarbon dating, from C.E. or Common era, a date set at 1950. Why 1950? Because we set off so many nukes in the 50's and 60's that it screwed up the levels of C14 in the air. We can also easily tell art forgeries due to the levels of isotopes that were only created in the 50's and 60's in the nuclear detonations.

So, basics done. What they did is they took an old piece of paper, made of wood and plant material, and radiocarbon dated it. They then got a range of dates within the expected margin of error that overlapped Mohamed's life. ALL THIS MEANS IS THAT THE PAPER WAS PRODUCED IN THIS TIME FRAME. That's it folks. There are bibles and Torahs that have been dated way earlier than they have been know to be produced due to the authors and copiers using older parchments and wooden blocks that they already had on hand. Some of the original Gutenberg bibles date to 60-70 years before they were printed as they used old materials lying around. A Torah known to have been printed in the 1400's dated to the 1300's for the same reason.

So, we have a piece of paper that was created in a date range that may be earlier than Mohamed. And journalists who either don't understand or don't care about how C14 dating works, yet are desperate for page views. This is why the news sucks and this is why I scream at a monitor watching this garbage be treated as anything other than a curiosity. Fuck the news.

francopoli  ·  901 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: June 3, 2015

For Astronomers here on earth, it is Saturn Viewing Season! I've been taking the big telescope out to our Sidewalk Astronomy events and showing people Saturn through a 14" diameter reflecting telescope. Most people never look through a "good" telescope, one that can really show you faint details so I use my scope have a full impact on people. We've had a few good nights where I have been able to show people Saturn at 413 magnification. At this level, in still air, you can see the Cassini Division, the "C" ring, the shadow of the planet on the rings, 4-6 moons depending on where they are relative to us, and the bands and clouds on the planet itself. In a typical evening we get a few hundred people looking through the telescopes.

The average viewing time is interesting to reflect upon. Younger kids, who have grown up with Voyager and Cassini images, spend just long enough to look, take it in and move on.

Older people, 40-50 range, they hover. They stop. Some gasp. Some ask if the image is real. Younger people don't ask about the moons, but the older people do. I've had to bring a white board with me to events so I can show then the moons, where they are, etc and talk about them a little.

When you start to show even older people, say 60+, they stop, they look, they marvel. These are people who watched the Apollo 11 landing live. They watched the fuzzy blurry dots of light become worlds with their own character and geography. These people, they stay and ask a lot of questions. The people who ask questions are my favorites.

A few weeks ago we had killer skies; some of us commented that we were wasting a great evening in the city and not out somewhere dark. We set up not far from the city center and I was able to bring M3 into my scope and get a really nice view of it. Nothing like the pictures you see online, but enough to see a fuzzy ball that is full, and I mean full, of stars. This is one of my favorites to look at; its small, relatively bright and interesting to talk about. Hey, who can say they looked at 500,00 stars all at once, right? People who came by that night have been asking to see it this week, which, sadly, with the full moon, is not possible from the city.

I never thought that I would enjoy sidewalk Astronomy. I started this as a way to be more social and meet some people out in the community, but I have to say that I have a grand time every evening I can go out.

Musk is not a perfect saint by any means. But I am starting to get a Ron Paul/Bernie Sanders vibe every time i see him in the news. These people are not perfect but the massive shilling and hit pieces against them are glaring in their biases. I'm not a Ron Paul fan -sorry guys but he is a religious nut with a few good ideas once in a while- but the media rail road of him was embarrassing. Now the same thing is going on with Sanders: the media narrative is that he is unelectable while reporting on large crowds at his events, sort of like how Howard Dean was treated for those of us Deaniacs who remember ancient history. And with Rand Paul standing alone against the Republican Establishment, watch the tone of reporting on him shift here over the next months.

The guy who wrote the Tesla hit piece, Jerry Hirsch, has a history of not liking Telsas and Musk. That is fine and should not be a negative... biased news still serves a point as long as we all know that source has a bias (Fox vs MSNBC VS Breitbart VS HuffPo for example). He wrote a FUD article last year on driverless cars and how they are going to impact US automakers and seems to love SUVs. After his hit piece earlier where he spun Tesla's Q1 earnings as doom and gloom, I looked at his history and now put him in the 'Tesla Counter-point' file. When people start glowing about Tesla, I'll find this guy to read the counterpoints.

If the last year has taught me anything, it is that media is broken. From top to bottom the media, news, press is damaged, broken and failed. Reality means nothing, facts are opinions, opinions and feelings are all that are important. When there is a narrative to push, PUSH hard. Sob stories everywhere, e-begging for clicks, reblogs and Patreon donations. Can we make this boring story of slight importance about race or gender so we don't have to think hard about it? Sure we can! And we can ride the outrage express to increase our advertising footprint! Newspapers and TV are nothing but glorified blogs with bigger budgets. Bloggers are looking for a payday and there are many that will say anything to stir up nonsense to get clicks. Youtubers are now disclosing conflicts of interest in reviews, but not in news segments; not even they are immune and can't really be trusted.

Get some news from multiple sources. If news makes you angry, that news is pushing something, either outrage baiting for clicks, or to glue your eyeballs for ads. Find a news source that is 100% your political opposite and read it at least weekly so that you have some perspective on how to argue and defend your ideas. If something looks like a hit piece, look at who pays the author. If something looks like a fluff piece, LOOK WHO PAYS THE AUTHOR.

One of the absolute best things noticeable in people much younger than myself is how they are all a bunch of cynical bastards when someone in 'authority' makes a claim. I love it. I've given talks at the local libraries only to have a group of 14-16 year olds walk over to me demanding that I explain why this website is right or wrong, and make me defend myself. They give me an opportunity to talk about what science is and how to ask questions and detect bullshit. And those are skills we all need to hone.

50-60% of our (USA) welders are going to hit retirement age in the next 20 years. By some estimates, 2/3 of our plumbers will retire in the same time frame. I've seen numbers stating that 1/2 of our skilled electricians are going to be in their 60's in 10-15 years. Then you have construction workers, engine mechanics, diesel mechanics, machinists, concrete workers etc who are barely being replaced at attrition levels.

FYI, plumbers with 10+ years experience get $20-$30 an hour out here. Welders can make $40/hr and if you have a specialty like stainless steel, underwater, rigging etc you can often double that on big infrastructure projects. I know a guy who does welding in sewers who make 200K a year, for example. Isn't the goal to get people into good paying jobs?

We need engineers, and yea, STEM is important, but when kids ask me what to do I tell them to shadow a trade worker for a day. Shadow several in different fields, see what they do and find out what they have to do to get certifications. Find one that you are sort of interested in and feel like you can get good at the skills needed and join that union to get into their training programs. You may get paid to train or get government assistance if you complete the program, there are a lot of people to learn from, these jobs are always going to need people willing to do the work and plumbers are not going to be outsourced to India or China.

The point that I think I am trying to make is that the insane push to get every kid into college is dangerous, foolish, and wrong. We need trades people, and we need to stop shitting on people who do not have degrees.