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Showing posts from June, 2009

Occam's Razor

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Can't hear you, honey

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Miami's tent city for sex offenders

Isaias, a Latino and a former US Marine, is 35. He is a husband and a father of two.

In his twenties, he was convicted of the crime of having had sex with a 16-year old. After serving 5 years in prison, he has now spent 2 years living in Miami's tent city for sex offenders, which is located under a bridge.

Local law prohibits people like him from living within 2,500 feet of anywhere where children congregate - be it schools, libraries, or parks. This prevents him from living with his wife and family. The only place in Miami where he can live is in a tent, under a bridge, in a community of people with similar or worse backgrounds.

BBC has the disturbing story.

The right to arm bears #2

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The right to arm bears #1

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Biosphere 2

A lover's plight

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xkcd

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After browsing through about a quarter of the episodes, now I know why they call it everyone's favorite comic.



You have to know some Unix to understand this one. But there are others. :)

Windows Installer sucks

While I'm waiting for the umpteenth time for the installation of Windows SDK - one of the more poorly written installers recently to come out of Microsoft - I'd like to carp a bit about Windows Installer.

Ever since Microsoft started forcing MSI installation down everyone's throats, program installation has just begun to take... forever.

The bad thing about Windows Installer is that installation programs written for it... are not programs.

They are databases.

It used to be that installation would consist of a program executing and taking a few simple steps to install your software, then do the reverse on uninstallation.

That's not how Windows Installer works. Instead of running a program to simply install and let it be done with, it examines the state of your system, then examines the state of the database that is the program's installer, then does a series of overcomplicated calculations about how to reconcile the two.

It seems that, instead of running an installation s…

Poking fun at religion

The best atheist song I've heard:




And from Edward Current - God only seems nonexistent:

Seasteading

Well, well, well. Seasteading:Why seastead?

We believe that current political systems are outdated and work poorly, for two reasons. One is the lack of a frontier - a place to go try out new forms of government (like the crazy new "democracy" which sprung up in far-off America). The other is the lack of mobility on land that happens because people are tied to buildings and buildings are fixed in place, which makes it hard to change states or countries, let alone pioneer. Seasteading fixes both of these.

It opens the oceans as a new frontier for pioneering, a frontier with a fundamentally different quality - fluidity - that lets entire cities be rearranged and reshaped constantly. If you don't like your government, you can literally "Vote with your house" by detaching your seastead and sailing off to another city. In the long run, this will turn the oceans into a laboratory for innovation in social and political systems. No specific ideology is necessary: Seastead…

Wal-Mart's Weight Effect

Forbes has an article about research apparently showing that large discount stores have a net beneficial health effect, especially for the poor.

The primary mechanism they identify is that lower prices make it possible for poorer people to afford more. This raises their effective income, so they are able to buy healthier foods than in the absence of large discount retailers.

Traditional morality and sex health research

Traditional religion-based morality would not have survived if it didn't offer some evolutionary advantage to people who espouse it. More radically, a gene or meme that compels you to "kill everyone who doesn't have this gene or meme" may cause itself to become more prevalent. Less radically, a gene or meme that instructs you to behave in ways that help survival will also cause itself to become more prevalent, even if the reasons the meme uses to convince you make no sense.

The reasons for traditional morality, indeed, do not make any sense. For the most part, we aren't even given any reasons. We're told to abstain from promiscuity because that's moral. The reason it is moral is because it's moral. We don't question the Book. The Book says so.

Now it's one thing to want one heterosexual partner for your entire life; that's a legitimate preference that there's nothing wrong with. But it's a whole other thing to judge people and try to…

Boneheads in charge of H1B legislation

The U.S. elects senators so they can bury the U.S. economy, eliminating its global advantage. From BBC:Indian workers are calling for comprehensive immigration reforms in America, including changes in work visa rules.

But American lawmakers are having none of it.

Senators Dick Durbin from Illinois and Charles Grassley from Iowa have reintroduced a bill on the H1B visa programme.

It calls for increased oversight and enforcement and discourages the use of H1B visa holders.

It also requires all employers to pledge that the H1B visa-holder will not displace an American worker.If the U.S. doesn't want to adopt India's most capable workers, that is the U.S.'s loss, not India's.

This is just one sort of policy that will result in the U.S. waking up to find itself as only one economic power among many, not the superpower that it used to be.

Slovenians no longer need visas to St. Kitts

Excellent news: as of May 28, 2009, a visa-free travel agreement was signed between the European Union and St. Kitts & Nevis. Slovenian citizens no longer need a visa in order to travel to St. Kitts, and Kittitians and Nevisians no longer need visas for travel in the Schengen area. :-)