jwgh: (Default)
I happened across this little quotation from the head of NASA a little while ago:
In an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep airing May 31, 2007 on NPR News' Morning Edition, Griffin said the following: "I have no doubt that global -- that a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change.

"First of all, I don't think it's within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown, and second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings - where and when - are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."
The attitude displayed here reminds me of one I have seen elsewhere, too. For instance, a member of a university department consisting almost entirely of white men reacted to the suggestion that, among her other good qualities, a female candidate might bring some balance to the department with, "Yes, because gender is the only important thing to consider in hiring" -- the unintended implication being that you can tell which departments don't have sexist hiring practices, because they're the ones that are entirely male.

In other words, there are processes in place which have as (sometimes intentional but often unintended) unfortunate byproducts -- global warming is at least in part due to human activity, and the continued dominance of men in positions of power is because of various societal biases (not all of which are explicitly sexist). Measures to counterbalance these forces are then criticized because they explicitly are taking steps in the opposite direction -- we want to change human activity so that global warming slows down, and we want to enact policies explicitly to give women easier access to positions of power -- but the people who criticize these practices don't seem to spend much time worrying about the existing institutional problems. (Usually the people in question benefit from the existing institutional biases, of course. This may or may not be something that they explicitly consider in coming to their conclusion, though; I think a lot of people just have never noticed the institutional problems because they aren't adversely affected by them, and they seem like the natural order of things.)

So causing or reinforcing the original problem is basically OK as long as it's not intentional (or if the intention can be plausibly denied), but trying to fix it is problematic.

I don't say that various solutions to global warming, or to bias in the workplace and elsewhere, aren't problematic, or that discussions of their possible problems is bad, but it would be nice if people who oppose, say, global warming solutions because they try to change the environment would acknowledge that human activity is already changing the environment and that that, also, is a bad thing.
jwgh: (civility enforced)
I'm just getting around to reading the March 2007 issue of Asimov's, which contains the following letter from a reader of an essay by Kristin Kathryn Raush:
behind a cut )

I will probably write more about this later in a comment but right now I have to go to see some roller derby. Until then, any comments? I assume he wants Gene Wolfe's head on a pike but other than that I'm not sure what to make of it, other than to be impressed by its ferocity.

jwgh: (TILT)
Every so often it becomes necessary for me to work someplace that isn't my house. These days I like to go to a Borders to do this. Border's is a relatively nice working place because it tends to be clean, quiet, and if I get frustrated with a customer and have to get up and walk around for a little while to cool off I can go look at books and stuff.

But Internet access at Borders isn't free; their access is via T-Mobile, so you either have to sign up for one of their packages (but I don't have to do this often enough to make that be cost-effective) or pay $10 for a day's access.

So that's what I do. However, there are two annoying things about this.

(1) You need to have an account on http://hotspot.t-mobile.com/ to buy the Internet access, and they require that the user name of the account be six characters or greater. This means that my usual account name, jwgh, isn't acceptable. (In situations like this I just double it to jwghjwgh. But I don't see why a policy like this makes sense.)

(2) If you don't use the account for a while -- which I generally don't, because I usually just use my home Internet connection -- then your account gets disabled. Unfortunately, there is no obvious way to re-enable an account once it has been disabled, and also when an account has been disabled its account name can't be reused on a new account. This is a pain in the butt.


Jul. 24th, 2006 11:37 pm
jwgh: (head explode)
jwgh: (Default)
I decided to go to the Hi-Hat tonight to see the Superchief Trio. When I got there I noticed some signs in the window that I don't think were there the last time I was there. Here is one of them:


Another sign also forbade tee shirts. One of which I was wearing. However, as it happens, I actually have something which I thought should pass muster: the suit I got so I would have something to wear at last Saturday's wedding.

me in a suit knitting

After a while, the waitress came around and put one of these oddly-worded notices on my table:

There is a $10.00 Minimum Person At all Tables

$10 turns out to be four smallish Diet Cokes (which is what I was drinking), but I was there with other people who had more expensive beverages so I only ended up drinking two.

The service was OK, which is a change from the last time when the servers ignored me for 45 minutes. I think this is probably because I was dressed up fancy this time, whereas last time I was wearing what I usually wear. (If wearing a tux is being dressed to the nines, I think normally I am dressed to the ones or maybe on a good day to the twos.)

The Superchief Trio were fun as always, though.
jwgh: (bunny ears)
Is My Child Becoming Homosexual? If he doesn't want to grow up to be something macho, like a police officer, an Indian chief, a construction worker, a soldier, a leatherman, or a cowboy, then maybe so! Also, note that hanging out with girls is really gay.

But if so, don't worry. Professional help is available. To help your child:

1. Reassure him that you love him very much just the way he is.

2. For God's sake, try to fix him as quickly as possible.

This public service announcement is brought to you by stupid people.
jwgh: (arrrr)
At around 5:50 I called US Airway's phone line again to check on the status of the baggage. I was told that it would be delivered in 4-6 hours as usual. In a new twist, I was told that this was the latest status as of "ZERO SIX".

So I hung up and simmered for a little while, then called back and hit zero a bunch of times. While in the past this didn't accomplish anything other than getting me put in the phone queue for eternity, this time it actually put me through to someone.

He informed me that they didn't have an address on file to deliver the baggage to, so the delivery company returned it to the airport. The baggage supposedly will be there waiting for me when I return to the airport tomorrow evening for my flight back. If it isn't I guess at least I will actually be at the baggage claim office, so it will not be possible for them to hide from me.

Email #2

Jul. 26th, 2005 02:17 pm
jwgh: (Default)
Coming in to the home stretch, hopefully )
'4-6 hours' is a time period which now has special meaning to me.


Jul. 26th, 2005 07:47 am
jwgh: (Default)
I just called US Airways again and their psychic hotline informed me that my luggage has been found and will be delivered to the address I provided within 4-5 hours. This is very welcome! Now to see if this actually happens and if my guitar is OK.
creepy smiling guy
jwgh: (Default)
Here's what they say:
It appears your email address has changed. If we should use this new address, please update your contact information here.
I click on the link and it asks for my email address. I type in my email address and am informed:
Login Failed
The login ID and password combination you provided is invalid.
If you believe you may have mistyped either value, use the browser Back button to return to the login page and try again.

If you believe you have forgotten your password, use the browser Back button to return to the login page and request that your password be emailed to you.
Of course the original screen didn't ask for a password and also it doesn't have any instructions for getting the password emailed to me.

I typed in a different email address and it worked. This is pretty outstanding.

email sent

Jul. 25th, 2005 11:44 pm
jwgh: (arrrr)
long )
And now I go to bed.
jwgh: (Hat)
Suitcase & guitar: Still missing.
Headache: Persisting.
US Airways baggage status form: Amusingly useless.

I just took four Advil so hopefully problem #2 will be less pressing soon, anyway.

(Despite all this, my mood isn't too bad.)

Also, remind me to tell you about the meeting when I get back. Hilarity abounds!

OK, I guess I should get back to paying attention to the training I'm in.


Jul. 25th, 2005 02:45 am
jwgh: (Hat)
The bastards lost my bags. argh.

Backing up:

Every so often I have to go down to Maryland to visit corporate headquarters for a few days of meetings and training. This time my boss asked me if I could bring my guitar, since some of the other folks were going to have musical instruments and he thought there might be fun to be had. I said sure.

Departure day was today yesterday Sunday. I went to a party with Chris where we were the hired entertainment, which was fun, and then bugged out early to head back to the apartment, unload my car, and go to the airport. [livejournal.com profile] cgoldfish was kind enough to offer to drive me there, which she did. I got to T.F. Green airport, checked my bag and my guitar, and took the flight.

To save money my employer pretty much never books me a direct flight, and it's rare that this doesn't result in some sort of inconvenience (above and beyond having to run around the Philidelphia airport for an hour). Today's first inconvenience was that although my connecting flight arrived on time its staff did not, and so the flight ended up leaving really late. Then it turned out that my baggage had been misplaced somewhere. Then, when I went to the MARC/Amtrak station to get to the hotel it turned out that the last train was at midnight.

Fortunately I brought lots of reading material, so I haven't quite run out yet. On the flight back it may be necessary to knit.

If my guitar is damaged I will be unhappy.

Well, anyway, I will be back late Wednesday (unless one of my return flights gets cancelled, which happened half the times I made this trip last year), and I will be very happy to be back in Providence. I will probably want to sleep for a week.

Sorry to any DC area folks who are reading this and are wondering why I haven't been in touch to arrange anything; unfortunately, I don't think there will be any time for me to do anything fun this trip.

I won't even talk about the hotel situation, because this post is long and whiny enough already.


Jul. 1st, 2005 03:36 pm
jwgh: (arrrr)
What is it with this sudden profusion of email programs that use something other than CRLF to end lines?

Oh, wait, it's not a profusion of email programs. It's Microsoft Exchange.
jwgh: (arrrr)
I see once again I am not going to sleep much tonight.

Anyway, in the current New Yorker there's an advertisement which depicts a couple of people in a jeep, apparently on safari in Africa or something, and the ad copy is:
"Current moral dilemma:
Spend it all?
Or leave it to the kids?

Yes, we love them. Yes, they need money.
No we can't sit around
and not have fun.
After all, giving them money
will only keep them from
learning how to earn it. Right?
But everything costs so
much more these days.
Maybe there's a way to
do both."

Emotional times require sound, unemotional financial advice.

Morgan Stanley
One client at a time.
OK. In what universe is "Do I give my kids a big stack of money, or do I go on a safari in Africa?" a moral dilemma?

I could say more, but eh.
jwgh: (Default)
I went to a public high school that had a somewhat unusual (and, in my opinion, stupid) way of calculating grade point averages.

I think the standard way that GPAs are supposed to work in the US is that for each course a student takes he or she is given four points for each A, three points for each B, two points for each C, and one point for each D. Then the total is divided by the number of courses taken, yielding a score somewhere between 0 and 4.

Not so at my high school. There there were three categories of classes: 'Honors' level (which were supposed to be the hardest), 'College' level (which were supposed to be of 'normal' difficulty), and 'Standard' level (which were supposed to be particularly easy). When calculating GPAs, honors courses were worth an extra point and standard courses were worth one point less.

I checked my high school's website and they have the student handbook online, which allowed me to verify that this stupid policy is still in place. It contains the following table. (Note also that unlike the classic GPA-calculating method given above extra points were given for a + and points were subtracted for - grades.)
A+     4.3      5.3     3.3
A      4.0      5.0     3.0
A-     3.7      4.7     2.7
B+     3.3      4.3     2.3
B      3.0      4.0     2.0
B-     2.7      3.7     1.7
C+     2.3      3.3     1.3
C      2.0      3.0     1.0
C-     1.7      2.7     0.7
D+     1.3      2.3     0.3
D      1.0      2.0     0.0
D-     0.7      1.7     0.0
F      0.0      0.0     0.0
The result of this was that if you wanted to be valedictorian you would avoid college-level courses like the plague, and the thought of taking a standard-level course would never cross your mind, even if the courses in question were about things you were interested in. (I think psychology was only available as a college-level course, for instance. I actually took psych my senior year and I think I got some sort of C, but I still managed to graduate with a 5.05 GPA. I was valedictorian that year, but only because my class was full of slackers, relatively speaking -- in the years before and after me the valedictorian would typically have a GPA in the 5.2+ range, and usually there would be one or two other students hot on his or her heels.)

Anyway, even though I benefitted from these stupid policies, they still annoy me.

I believe that some years after I graduated my calculus teacher succeeded in convincing the administration that if the top two students' GPAs different by .01 points or less that there was no meaningful distinction to be made between them and they should both be given the honor of valedictorian, a feat which I think is pretty impressive.
jwgh: (Default)
I see that Elizabeth Dole noted yesterday that the Constitution guarantees 'freedom of religion, not freedom from religion'.

Whenever I read something like that I feel like the person is standing in front of me, pointing a finger right in my face, and saying, 'You suck, and you and everyone like you belong in jail.'

Anyway, I suppose that by parallel construction we are also guaranteed:

Freedom of speech, not freedom from speech!
Freedom of the press, not freedom from the press!
Freedom to assemble peaceably, not from assembling peaceably!
Freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances, not from petitioning the government for a redress of grievances!


jwgh: (Default)
Jacob Haller

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