February 2014

Mad elephants

by Limbic on February 26, 2014

With news today of an elephant attacking a car in South Africa, I was reminded of an old 2006 report about how African elephants are going insane.

 

Maybe it os just Musth

 

 

 

 

{ 0 comments }

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

by Limbic on February 26, 2014

[Another forgotten, unfinished post from the draft folder from Feb 2014]

Cruel and unusual punishment is a phrase describing punishment which is considered unacceptable due to the suffering, pain, or humiliation it inflicts on the person subjected to it.” – Wikipedia

I continue to be appalled by the US justice system and its cruelty.

The most recent story to come to my attention is that of Justin Carter a young man who made what an obviously  facetious threat on Facebook and found himself thrown in jail, unable to meet the impossibly high bail bond, where he was raped and he now faces 10 years in prison.

This is the terrifying thing about the USA today. Merely being accused of a crime can have you end up in jail for months or even years where you may be raped and beaten whilst awaiting trial. Even if you are acquitted on all charges they have suffered cruel and unusual punishment (rape, incarceration without trial).

http://www.dallasobserver.com/2014-02-13/news/the-facebook-comment-that-ruined-a-life/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/02/13/texas-man-faces-decade-in-prison-over-facebook-comments/

http://dailycaller.com/2014/02/14/update-texas-teen-faces-8-years-in-prison-over-facebook-comment/

{ 0 comments }

Susan Sons on Girls and Tech

by Limbic on February 23, 2014

Great post on girls and tech by legendary hacker Susan Sons. At the age of 12 she became a respect member of an IRC channel where she was fully accepted despite her age and gender:

Open source was my refuge because it was a place were nobody cared what my pedigree was or what I looked like—they cared only about what I did. I ingratiated myself to people who could help me learn by doing dull scutwork: triaging issues to keep the issue queues neat and orderly, writing documentation and fixing code comments. I was the helpful kid, so when I needed help, the community was there. I’d never met another programmer in real life at this point, but I knew more about programming than some college students. 

Twelve-year-old girls today don’t generally get to have the experiences that I did. Parents are warned to keep kids off the computer lest they get lured away by child molesters or worse—become fat! That goes doubly for girls, who then grow up to be liberal arts majors. Then, in their late teens or early twenties, someone who feels the gender skew in technology communities is a problem drags them to a LUG meeting or an IRC channel. Shockingly, this doesn’t turn the young women into hackers.

Why does anyone, anywhere, think this will work? Start with a young woman who’s already formed her identity. Dump her in a situation that operates on different social scripts than she’s accustomed to, full of people talking about a subject she doesn’t yet understand. Then tell her the community is hostile toward women and therefore doesn’t have enough of them, all while showing her off like a prize poodle so you can feel good about recruiting a female. This is a recipe for failure.

Young women don’t magically become technologists at 22. Neither do young men. Hackers are born in childhood, because that’s when the addiction to solving the puzzle or building something kicks in to those who’ve experienced that “victory!” moment like I had when I imposed my will on a couple electronic primates.

Unfortunately, our society has set girls up to be anything but technologists. My son is in elementary school. Last year, his school offered a robotics class for girls only. When my son asked why he couldn’t join, it was explained to him that girls need special help to become interested in technology, and that if there are boys around, the girls will be too scared to try.

My son came home very confused. You see, he grew up with a mom who coded while she breastfed and brought him to his first LUG meeting at age seven weeks. The first time he saw a home-built robot, it was shown to him by a local hackerspace member, a woman who happens to administer one of the country’s biggest supercomputers. Why was his school acting like girls were dumb?

Thanks so much, modern-day “feminism”, for putting very unfeminist ideas in my son’s head. 

http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/girls-and-software

{ 0 comments }

 

 

 

 

 

{ 0 comments }

Ape and Essence

by Limbic on February 16, 2014

In was recently reminded of one of my favourite books from my late teens – Aldous Huxley’s “Ape and Essence” (1948).

Here are some quotes:

Vertical stripes, horizontal stripes, noughts and crosses, eagles and hammers. Mere arbitrary signs. But every reality to which a sign has been attached is thereby made subject to its sign. Goswami and Ali used to live in peace. But I got a flag, you got a flag, all Baboon-God’s children got flags; and because of the flags it immediately became right and proper for the one with the foreskin to disembowel the one without a foreskin, and for the circumcised to shoot the uncircumcised, rape his wife and roast his children over slow fires.

“Love casts out fear; but conversely fear casts out love. And not only love. Fear also casts out intelligence, casts out goodness, casts out all thought of beauty and truth. What remains in the bum or studiedly jocular desperation of one who is aware of the obscene Presence in the corner of the room and knows that the door is locked, that there aren’t any windows. And now the thing bears down on him. He feels a hand on his sleeve, smells a stinking breath, as the executioner’s assistant leans almost amorously toward him. “Your turn next, brother. Kindly step this way.” And in an instant his quiet terror is transmuted into a frenzy as violent as it is futile. There is no longer a man among his fellow men, no longer a rational being speaking articulately to other rational beings; there is only a lacerated animal, screaming and struggling in the trap. For in the end fear casts out even a man’s humanity. And fear, my good friends, fear is the very basis and foundation of modern life. Fear of the much touted technology which, while it raises out standard of living, increases the probability of our violently dying. Fear of the science which takes away the one hand even more than what it so profusely gives with the other. Fear of the demonstrably fatal institutions for while, in our suicidal loyalty, we are ready to kill and die. Fear of the Great Men whom we have raised, and by popular acclaim, to a power which they use, inevitably, to murder and enslave us. Fear of the war we don’t want yet do everything we can to bring about.”

“The leech’s kiss, the squid’s embrace,
The prurient ape’s defiling touch:
And do you like the human race?
No, not much.

Wikipedia

Everything2 entry on “Ape and Essence”

{ 0 comments }

  • VM Depot – find, deploy and share images for Windows Azure – VM Depot–find, deploy and share images for Windows Azure

    VM Depot is a community-driven catalog of preconfigured operating systems, applications, and development stacks that can easily be deployed on Windows Azure. Find your favorite software and deploy it in minutes, or join the community, build a virtual machine image, and share it with others.

  • BitTorrent Sync Beta – Secure, unlimited file-syncing. No cloud required.
  • Academic Torrents – Sharing data is hard. Emails have size limits, and setting up servers is too much work. We've designed a distributed system for sharing enormous datasets – for researchers, by researchers. The result is a scalable, secure, and fault-tolerant repository for data, with blazing fast download speeds.
  • Electrum Bitcoin Client – Electrum is an easy to use Bitcoin client. It protects you from losing coins in a backup mistake or computer failure, because your wallet can be recovered from a secret phrase that you can write on paper or learn by heart. There is no waiting time when you start the client, because it does not download the Bitcoin blockchain.
  • bookmarking done right: historious, your personal search engine – historious – historious saves you time by helping you find webpages you saw before. Bookmark sites with a single click, then find them again by searching for any word in the content of the page!

{ 0 comments }

Satya Nadella–New CEO of Microsoft

by Limbic on February 6, 2014

I am very happy he has been chosen. I liked him from the first moment I saw him.

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/ceo/index.html

{ 0 comments }

Microsoft’s 2014 Super Bowl Ads

by Limbic on February 3, 2014

Make sure you watch the individual stories briefly touched on by the ad above below.

All the ads are here.

Meanwhile it seems these ads beat the competition by a mile.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Clay Shirky on Culture Cones

by Limbic on February 2, 2014

culture_cones

Last month (January 2014) Clay Shirky gave a talk at Microsoft (50mins with Q&A). He took the opportunity to float some new ideas he has about Culture Cones, a metaphor he has borrowed from the physics concept of light cones.

He starts the description of the concept at 12m 45s into the talk.

Imagine two observers. The first is one light year from a supernova, the other is two light years away from the supernova.  If the supernova explodes with a flash, the event will "happen" one year later to the first observer and two years later to the second observer. One sees it a year before the other.

So it is with cultural events and memes. Culture cones move through networks like light cones through space.

Shirky asks, "When was the first time you heard about bitcoin?", a culture cone moving though society right now.

Less connected people experience these events much later. They just saw the supernova flash no matter how long ago it actually happened. Technologists have this all the time when their family eventually ask them about some new thing that is actually old, "So what’s this Tor thing?"

It’s worth watching the talk. He even mentions Boyd’s and OODA loops.

Clay Shirky – Social Computing Symposium -16 January 2014

{ 0 comments }