What Is Essential Is Invisible to the Eye

Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.

The quote above is from The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupéry. The best English translation I’ve found is “Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” This tattoo may well be my all-time favorite.




Code Freeze

I refer to the one-to-n states before actual code freeze as code slush. Code freeze is when you can’t change the code unless a critical bug is found. This should be obvious but real life intervenes in even the best organized projects. I’m often called in to help troubled engineering projects, and in many of these projects code freeze is almost meaningless, a statement of management desire or hopefulness rather than anything concrete. This cartoon describes those projects well.


Christians Responsible for Most Hateful Internet Speech



An article in The Christian Post discusses the claim by Washington Post religion reporter Sally Quinn that Christians were behind the majority of nasty and vile feedback she had received throughout her career. This vicious behavior by Christians will be no surprise to anyone who’s spent significant time on Twitter, Google Plus, or other social networks discussing anything of substance.

I’m sharing this article because it’s critical that Christians stand up for what Jesus taught and call out those falsely claiming to follow him while acting contrary to his life message. As an atheist and humanist, I know I need to become more active in opposing those who attack theism under the banner of atheism.

I can empathize with those who lose their tempers when discussing these issues. It’s hard for me to remain calm on many political and religious issues, but it’s critical. I’m working on it … :-) … The moment my rage overcomes my empathy and I start attacking my opponent, any chance for humanity and dialogue is lost.

Hand Sanitizer is fine. Don’t use antibacterial soap.


A friend shared an interesting IFLScience video titled, “Why You Should Never Use Hand Sanitizer.” The video is particularly interesting because IFLScience is usually a great source for interesting and useful science and in this post someone has confused hand sanitizer with antibacterial soap and ends up giving bad advice as a result.

The video asserts that hand sanitizers contain Triclosan and notes that studies have shown Triclosan to kill good bacteria on your skin and make your skin far more permeable to toxic chemicals like BPA.

The presenter is confusing antibacterial hand soap with hand sanitizer. Some antibacterial hand soaps contain Triclosan, but hand sanitizer does not. Hand sanitizers generally contain ethyl alcohol as the active ingredient, which kills bacteria by dissolving the lipid membrane and denaturing the proteins – http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=2160. The alcohol physically destroys bacteria, which is why bacteria can’t develop resistance to it, which is a concern with antibacterial soap and Triclosan.

A commenter on the G+ post where I found this video notes that he just found the following on the Purell website: “U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations do not allow the use of triclosan as an active ingredient in “leave on” products like hand sanitizer. PURELL hand sanitizer products do not contain triclosan.” There’s a video on the topic at http://www.purell.com/faq.

I use hand sanitizer all the time and I’ve noticed that workplaces, including hospitals, have it prominently displayed for use. Alcohol based sanitizer is demonstrably beneficial in destroying harmful bacteria. Hopefully no one will accept the IFLScience post without checking the facts. I’d like IFLScience to correct their post, but the comment area was quickly closed. Hopefully they will see this or other posts and correct their errors.

GOP Catholics of Convenience and their Trouble with Pope Francis


The GOP’s so-called Catholics have long had problems following the principles of their church, but with the advent of Pope Francis, their opposition to most of Jesus’ teachings in The Gospels, as exemplified in Francis, has become much more prominent. This Salon article highlights the issue.

It’s remarkable how even a supposedly ardent Roman Catholic like Santorum is a Catholic of Convenience, freely working against the head of his church when it suits him.

As someone noted in the original post, these men would argue against Jesus if given the chance. The majority of their beliefs and actions directly contradict those of Jesus in the Gospels. They exist for themselves and their values, independent of any religious or moral system. This independence of thought and action would be commendable if they would be honest about it. Instead, they pretend to follow a great spiritual leader, while in reality they follow only their own desires.

On the art of Emily Dickinson, Anne Frank and Sylvia Plath

I answered this question on Quora a while ago. I’d be interested in your opinion.

The Question
Do you believe that the sad experiences of Emily Dickinson, Anne Frank and Sylvia Plath have created more net value through the generation of their art for all people than their personal sacrifice?

My Answer
Wow. This is a great question. These women undoubtedly suffered, from the heavy (in the case of most) to inhuman (in the case of Frank) burdens placed on them by their circumstances. I think some of them (Dickinson and Plath) were bound to suffer in almost any circumstances due to their mental constitution.

Human life is incommensurable. For a healthy human being, it’s impossible to compare human life or human suffering against anything other than itself.

It’s not merely that human life (and freedom from suffering) is so valuable that it’s hard to put a value on it. Human life is, or should be, the root of our values system, an end in itself. You cannot compare means (e.g. suffering) to such ends. Art is beyond valuation as well, but it’s possible to consider art as a means to an end, with the end being truth or beauty. Forgive me if I’m being unclear here, but I wanted to write this in hopes someone can criticize and help me clarify my thinking. It’s impractical for me to wait till I completely understand this.

Am I happy that these women existed and contributed to the world as they did? Of course. Would I put them through what they experienced in order to extract their art? Of course not. That would make me a monster.

What are the best formats for a resume?

Answer on @Quora by @gayle to What are the best formats for a resume?

Answer by Gayle Laakmann McDowell:

Just as the best product is the one that gets the job done, the best resumes are those that communicate your skills and accomplishments in a clear, effective way.

Graphical resumes are, in particular, terrible. Unless you can be one of the lucky few to get a bunch of media attention for a nifty format, you will hurt yourself far more than you'll help yourself if you use a graphical resume. Graphical resumes are typically difficult to read and they sacrifice content — your hard-earned accomplishments — in favor of pretty pictures and useless graphics. See: Why Your Awesome, Creative Resume Isn’t Working.

A good resume format has the following attributes:

  • Multiple Columns: Multiple columns make it easier for someone to quickly skim your company titles, positions, schools, and other key facts. It also stores this information in a very compact way, allowing more space to list things you've done. (Note: do not use one of those templates where the entire left part of the resume is a column for the categories. They waste a lot of space.)
  • Short and Sweet: People only spend about 5 – 30 seconds reading your resume, and this isn't enough to read even a full page of content. When your make your resume too long, it just dilutes the quality of each thing on your resume. Focus on just the highlights. One page is often all you need, but if you have 10+ years of experience and multiple roles, you can justify at most two pages. That's it though.
  • The Right Sections: No objectives (they're useless). Summary sections can be okay, but they're usually not (after all, if your resume is short and concise, then you don't really need a summary section).
  • Use Tables: Okay, this is really nit picky, but it's a personal pet peeve of mine. The way to make multiple columns in Microsoft Word is with tables (with invisible columns), not by hitting 'space' dozens of times.
  • Bulleted — No Long Text Blobs: Again, you only have about 15 seconds to make an impression. Large blocks of text will not be read. Keep your bullets to 1 – 2 lines (and, ideally, about half or more of those bullets should be one line).
  • Appropriate Use of Fonts and Formatting: You don't want to go overboard with fonts and formatting. However, a little bit of formatting (bold, italics, etc) can be useful to organize your resume.

So with that said, here are two formats that work perfectly well:

This resume can be downloaded here: http://www.careercup.com/resume.

This resume can be downloaded here: http://www.thegoogleresume.com/r…

The first resume is a format I designed myself, whereas the second one is a format required by Wharton's MBA program.

What are the best formats for a resume?

Is it OK to generate a fake news story to make a point? Yes.




The author of this brief opinion piece, a scientist and journalist I respect and generally agree with, is wrong here. The point being made with this fake news story isn’t for self-gratification. The point it makes is critically important, which makes all the difference.

If you can expose a corrupt and/or broken system on which millions of people base life decisions, then you owe it to yourself to do so. The systems responsible for informing the public should be tested, independently and often, especially if those systems profit from their mission and are considered trustworthy.

If innocent lives were lost, or there was a strong possibility that innocent lives would be severely affected due to this story, then the morality of publishing this story would be much more difficult to discern. As it is, I applaud the authors for their dedication to exposing the sad state of pop science journalism and am happy for their success.

Why did the Saturn V rocket require so many parts?

Answer by Sophia Te Tricht:

TL;DR – Are you kidding me?!  You ask a question about three million moving parts and you want a concise answer?  Can I get you a hot apple pie with that?!  Read the whole answer!  😉 (Just kidding!  I love you guys!)

You came to the right place!  This big, beautiful bird happens to be something I can talk at some length about.  The Saturn V rocket, a collaborative effort between Boeing, North American Aviation and Douglas Aircraft; was a bizarrely complex machine.  It had to be.  Let's go to the map!


Let's break it down a little bit:

This first one, the tall one, is the first stage called the S-IC.  It was powered by 5 F-1 engines (more on those big bastards in a minute), and lifted the entire 6,500,000 pounds off the pad.  And it's mostly tank.  A little bit of pipe, but mostly tank.  The second stage, second to left called S-II, was powered by 5 J-2 engines (we'll discuss them too).  There is what's called an interstage between them, which is just a structure capable of supporting the substantial weight of the second and third stages plus the spacecraft and abort tower without buckling, absorbing and transferring the energy of the S-IC to the rest of the rocket (lest the S-IC just shoot through the rest of the rocket like it ain't no thing), and it holds the separation bolts.  Oh, stage separation, how I love thee…  We'll discuss that too.  The third from the left is the S-IVB.  Another interstage exists between the S-II and S-IVB.  The S-IVB also contained the Instrument Ring.  There was another interstage, in which was stored the lunar module, and atop that interstage sat the Apollo Command and Service Module.

Stage Separation: Let's talk about frangible bolts.  This is a frangible bolt
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBZYk1m4WMIEssentially, it's a standard, run of the mill bolt, but with a chunk of its metal section replaced with explosive.  When a signal is sent to the bolt to fire, well…  The video shows it.  In the Saturn V interstages, there were rings of frangible bolts that detonated, separating the spent stage and the interstage.

Let's talk Instrument ring.  The instrument ring on the Saturn V was in the S-IVB stage, as I mentioned before.  It looked a little something like this:

"Okay," I can hear you saying, "Doesn't look like there's much moving."  Except that this was before the age of digital anything.  They used pitot tubes for real.  Their gyros? 

There's your moving parts…

Speaking of, let's talk about engines.  F-1, submitted for your awe.

probably about half of those parts move in some way or another, not to mention the stuff you don't see, like the rotors in the turbines…  J-2, also pretty freaking awesome:

every valve, turbopump, bypass, flow meter, and generator has dozens if not hundreds of moving parts.

I'm not even going to go into the actual flight systems of the Apollo hardware.  They all add up, when you consider redundancies, which typically were at least double fault tolerant (i.e. a system can suffer two failures without being an irrecoverable loss).

Why did the Saturn V rocket require so many parts?

In what ways are Christians negatively affected, e.g. by having their constitutional rights limited, by these “anti-Christian” groups on …

Answer by Paul deHolczer:

No Christian group is having its rights limited by any groups.

Every Christian group has the same rights as any other religious group.

The American Family Association asserts a right to enshrine Christianity as a state-supported national religion in America.  Since 1977, Donald Wildmon (the founder of American Family Association) has "declared war" on everything that fails to promote his version of a Christian America. While he advocates Christian school prayer, a ban on abortion and an end to sex education in public schools, most of Wildmon's efforts revolve around censorship.  Some people have accused Wildmon and his organization of engaging in religious bigotry. (Religious leaders denounce Wildmon's anti-Semitism

That is why American Family Association labels the group Americans United For Separation of Church and State a bigoted organization.   Americans United is not an anti-Christian organization. It has never been an anti-Christian organization. Most of its founders were Christians, and it is led by a Christian minister now. Although Americans United is diverse, it has many Christian members and chapter activists, and regularly forms coalitions with a number of faith traditions.  (Fuzzy Map: Religious Right Group Accuses Americans United And Its Allies Of Being A Bevy Of Bigots)
Americans United For Separation of Church and State supports the wall of separation between church and state in America; however, Americans United holds that wall is between ALL religions (not just Christianity) and ALL government.

Christian are not being persecuted in America and no Christian group is having its rights limited by any other groups.  Christian churches in America are not taxed and are free to worship — even in dangerous ways (Snake Handling – Pentecostal Christianity) — though not in ways which will hurt others or deny others their Constitutional rights.

What is happening is that some Christians (The American Family Association apparently represents some of these.) are propagating a myth of persecution.  What leads them to do so? 

First, the myth is fueled by resentment of other religions and no religion, viewpoints whose constituencies are now demanding as much respect and acknowledgement as Christianity has expected and received as a matter of course.  For some reason, those viewpoints are threatening to Christians — even though the constituencies are not asking for preference over Christianity. 

Second, propagating a myth of persecution relieves these Christians from having to regard these other religions, and no religion, as having any validity whatsoever.  This changes the focus.

Third, there is profit to be made in fund-raising using the fear and ignorance of people who allow themselves to be enraged or threatened or misled by propaganda that Christians are "under attack" and "being threatened" or "being intimidated." (Make a Donation)

Finally, some Christians are not being allowed to use their religious beliefs as a justification for discriminating against other people.  In the past, some Christians were allowed to use their religious beliefs as a justification for discriminating against African-American (or Black) people, against homosexual people, and even against mentally-handicapped people.  Some (self-described) Christians have attempted to use their religious beliefs as a justification for pedophilia and child abuse (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).  Today, these sorts of discrimination are becoming less common and laws have been enacted and are being enacted to protect people.

Here is an excellent article which explains how Christianity has been distorted to justify a sense of entitlement which leads to illegal behavior:
Wrong Church Teaching May Cost Grandmother Her Home

Sadly, the myth of persecution is insulting to those vast numbers who truly suffer for their beliefs with discrimination, disenfranchisement, threats of bodily harm, rape, torture and even death.    The myth of persecution in America trivializes the concept of persecution.  Just ask an Iraqi Christian.

In what ways are Christians negatively affected, e.g. by having their constitutional rights limited, by these "anti-Christian" groups on …