No man is an Island, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
This famous text is from John Donne’s series of meditations and prayers on health, pain, and sickness (written while Donne was convalescing from a nearly fatal illness) that were published as a book in 1624 under the title Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. This text is from Meditation XVII.
The Reinhart-Rogoff case makes for an excellent cautionary tale on the dangers of using spreadsheets for serious work and also a great example of science working properly due to the open exchange of experimental data and documents.
Be Careful Using Spreadsheets for Important Work
Warning someone to be careful with spreadsheets sounds like some Captain Obvious level advice, but if you read the article, you’ll see there is some good reasoning behind it. I know from experience that it’s easy to make formula errors, especially during a long slog preparing data and formulas for review. I found and corrected several spreadsheet entry and calculation errors made by the financial/pricing analyst during my work on a recent proposal. This is relevant to both financial pros and people like me who’d rather write a program to do all the calculations and then just output them to a results spreadsheet for distribution. The ease of data entry in a spreadsheet and the temptations to take shortcuts are something to remain alert for.
I found this letter more than a little soppy, but I mostly agree with its author.
A Daddy’s Letter to His Little Girl
It’s critically important to teach your daughter that she is a full human being and has inherent worth independent of any man, and that it’s her responsibility to complete herself and maintain that completeness with and without a man in her life. If she is able to do that, the right kind of men, and there are plenty, will be interested in her and desire to be with her.
On the original G+ thread for this post, one commenter and father noted that treating your daughter as a princess is setting them up for failure. I agree 100% on treating your daughter as an equal. I can’t stand the “princess” idea. It’s just setting a girl up for disappointment as a woman.
Our goal as parents is to consider our children as less experienced, less developed versions of adults, and to guide them in developing the qualities they will need to live good lives as adults. We do this best by simulating the adult world on a small scale in our home, making the standards for success clear but tempering their inevitable failures (and consequences) as part of the process of growing up. I tell all my kids this and I remind my 16 year old daughter of this frequently. She’s less than two years away from being fully responsible for herself and it’s our job to make sure she can fly on her own once she leaves the nest. For most kids, there will be bumps in the road of early adulthood, but with the right preparation, they can avoid those that are fatal to their lives or careers.
Calling Paul Ryan “wrong” seems inadequate. The man is somewhere beyond wrong, living in a grandiose construction of his own narcissism, probably with Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump as neighbors.
The Facts Are In and Paul Ryan Is Wrong
Everyone with two brain cells to rub together has known from the beginning that Paul Ryan is an idiot. But for any still entertaining the delusion that his ideas have merit, this will provide fodder for discussion, provided of course it’s possible to be simultaneously a Ryan acolyte and capable of discussion.
This is essential reading for computer scientists and other electronics engineers.
Why I Still Program
This is a fantastic idea. At a time when many non-liberal arts colleges are slowly becoming glorified technical schools, bringing apprenticeship back (even for highly skilled technical fields) just makes sense.
The Apprentices of a Digital Age
A pair of philosophers recently conducted a poll of the philosophy departments in the top western universities, asking for the staff’s positions on various prominent questions, belief in god among them.
The results are fascinating but not particularly surprising. The “believe in god” question is really a theist/non-theist/other question.
It would be interesting to break down the less than 15% who are theistic further because I’d like to see how many actually posit a personal god of the western monotheistic tradition, a Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans. I bet the number with that belief is less than 5% of the total polled. It should be 0% given the study required to gain a PhD in Philosophy, but theism tends to be part of one’s fundamental worldview and it’s certainly possible to make it through a PhD program with that worldview intact, not as a proper philosopher mind you, but as an academic who takes an external view of philosophy.
I’d also like to see the “other” responses broken down further, since I bet there are some fascinating beliefs hiding in that bucket. I would place myself squarely in the non-theist camp, but I can’t help being fascinated by the mystery of the “other” camp. What do they see that I don’t?
The review below covers the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition, which comes with Ubuntu LTS installed and works out of the box, which anyone with Linux experience knows is relatively rare.
My point here is that even fans of Open Source and Linux (and I’m one of them) must admit that Linux takes more effort to get running than Windows or OS-X. The payoff may be worth it, and it certainly is in some cases, but the effort Dell went to in this case to ensure a fully working system tells us how far Linux still has to go before it can be considered equivalent in usability or ease of maintenance to Windows.
This scenario is easily seen as a front in the larger FOSS versus proprietary software battle for hearts and minds (and ultimately users). As a professional with a foot in both camps, I will continue to back both sides because the battle itself generally results in better software and solid API/service standards, a win for everyone.
I’ve been having a discussion on the post office losing money and whether and how to fund its continued operation. My opponent in this debate is a Tea Party type thinker who believes government should have a minimal role in our nation’s life. I support a social democratic form like that in Germany and some of the Nordic nations. After some back and forth, I got his underlying concerns out in the open, and as usual, his main concern is who’s going to pay for these services. My response follows.
I think almost everyone should have to pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes to the government. I will happily pay more taxes to support services like the post office, single-payer health care, and similar services. When I served in the Army, I got all these services provided for free or very low cost. That’s socialized health care and mail delivery on the scale of the Armed Forces.
I believe that once you reach a certain level of financial comfort, you should pay much more into the national coffers to support the nation. I live very comfortably and I understand that my work is possible only in a nation as technologically advanced as ours, with the economic and social structures we have. I am happy to support that.
Some of the worst hypocrisy in the US is committed by people who claim to be patriotic but do everything possible to avoid paying to support the structures that make our nation what it is.
I was having a discussion, one of many, on “gun rights” in a G+ democracy community the other day and my opponent and I were able to disagree respectfully about where to draw the line in controlling firearms. I base my reasoning on keeping legal what allows people to defend themselves against an armed invader, an individual or small group but not an “army”. As someone with long experience with firearms, I am certain that limiting someone to a revolver or other small capacity handgun, a shotgun, or any non-semiautomatic rifle, does not significantly diminish one’s ability to defend oneself. For short range fighting, you cannot beat a shotgun unless your opponent has armor.
There is a reason the military has automatic and selective- fire weapons. Automatic weapons can lay down suppressive fire, forcing the enemy to keep their heads down while your team maneuvers. The M-4 and similar small arms are necessary because in war, as opposed to a home invasion or gang attack or some other unlikely scenario, you may be engaged in a sustained firefight, often for minutes and sometimes much longer. The large capacity magazine and other traits of a modern military rifle are designed for these situations.
I would be happy to let people bear arms of the same technology level present when the 2nd Amendment was ratified. I’ve used a 50 caliber Hawken rifle (a 19th Century black powder caplock muzzle loader) and it can kill people just as dead as an M-4. So I could be seen as generous for wanting to allow 20th century firearms.
Maybe allowing only muskets and muzzle loaders is going a bit too far, in that many people couldn’t defend themselves with such a weapon, and of course missing the target has a real cost in time with a muzzleloader, but allowing only pre-20th century weapons would be more reasonable than the current mess.