BiteofanApple Archive About Code Twitter
by Brian Schrader
Archive About Code Twitter

The Trouble With Harvard

Posted on Sun, 14 Sep 2014

To me, these are the things a university education should instill in you. Universities aren't for job training, they're for educating.

I think we can be more specific. It seems to me that educated people should know something about the 13-billion-year prehistory of our species and the basic laws governing the physical and living world, including our bodies and brains. They should grasp the timeline of human history from the dawn of agriculture to the present. They should be exposed to the diversity of human cultures, and the major systems of belief and value with which they have made sense of their lives. They should know about the formative events in human history, including the blunders we can hope not to repeat. They should understand the principles behind democratic governance and the rule of law. They should know how to appreciate works of fiction and art as sources of aesthetic pleasure and as impetuses to reflect on the human condition.

On top of this knowledge, a liberal education should make certain habits of rationality second nature. Educated people should be able to express complex ideas in clear writing and speech. They should appreciate that objective knowledge is a precious commodity, and know how to distinguish vetted fact from superstition, rumor, and unexamined conventional wisdom. They should know how to reason logically and statistically, avoiding the fallacies and biases to which the untutored human mind is vulnerable. They should think causally rather than magically, and know what it takes to distinguish causation from correlation and coincidence. They should be acutely aware of human fallibility, most notably their own, and appreciate that people who disagree with them are not stupid or evil. Accordingly, they should appreciate the value of trying to change minds by persuasion rather than intimidation or demagoguery.

The Trouble With Harvard →

-Thanks for reading,
      Brian Schrader

Space Junk

Posted on Sun, 14 Sep 2014

In a break from our regularly scheduled developer-oriented topics, we're taking a break to talk about orbital space debris...

Insert canned space junk image here

The amount of debris in Earth orbit is growing every year. Every launch we dump more things into orbit to float around aimlessly crowding an already crowded area. That junk hits other junk and breaks apart, good right?. No. Smaller pieces, often moving faster, are harder to track. Some of these pieces are fractions of inches big and are impossible to track. Combine this small size with the fact that the pieces move at a speed of around 7km/s (per second) and that pebble-sized debris becomes really dangerous.

Because of a lot of regulation and Cold War era crap cleaning up this space junk is a legal nightmare. Nations can only clean up the stuff they own, cleaning up another nation's junk immediately makes that nation in violation of a whole myriad of laws, and any private vendor who touches this debris immediately becomes a "space pirate" (awesome name, not-so-awesome ramifications).

The amount of space debris is growing every year, and although there is a lot of collaboration to prevent the growth of such debris, the amount currently in orbit is already worrisome. It doesn't go away either.

The problem is still unsolved and remains a huge economic and political challenge. The most harrowing fact about this debris is that if unchecked it may soon be very dangerous if not impossible to launch craft into orbit.

I'm not trying to be a sandwich-board-wearing, doomsday-heralding, rambling, crazy-person here. I'm just bringing it up. We do need to find a solution. Its a serious problem.

NASA's Space Debris FAQ

How Can We Clean Up That Space Junk?

-Thanks for reading,
      Brian Schrader

Chris Radcliff on Twitter's Timeline Changes

Posted on Sun, 07 Sep 2014

I feel the same way.

on the difference between communication, news, and entertainment →

-Thanks for reading,
      Brian Schrader

Casey Liss on Women's Experience in Gaming

Posted on Sat, 06 Sep 2014

I'd like to share this excerpt from the episode 81 of the Accidental Tech Podcast.

Casey: I got, what I felt to be a considerable amount of hate, and a considerable amount of yelling directed at me on Twitter because I had said that I wanted to think for a minute before I spoke and it really upset me a lot, and it really bothered me...

The thing that was really upsetting about all this, the thing that really bothered me and continues to bother me about all this... is I dealt with three hours of a handful of people being meaner than I think was necessary, and it kinda messed me up for a while. That was three hours. Nobody threatened to rape me, nobody threatened to murder me, nobody sent me disgusting pronography

Marco: Nobody, like, came to your house.

John: Nobody said they knew your address and knew your family's address and were going to kill them, and showed you pictures of your family that they'd taken secretly.

Casey: Yes, and I felt like a piece of crap after this three hours which had none of those thing, and it occurred to me: If I feel like a piece of just utter crap after three hours of people saying, "Oh, you're not doing enough. You should't think about that. Nuanced!? Are you kidding me?" Three hours of that and I felt like I wanted to crawl in a hole and just go away for a week, and that was three hours. I cannot freaking fathom what it's like to be a woman in... technology and especially in gaming...

He's right. It's hard to realize that people, and women more commonly go through that kind of crap every day. This isn't a discussion about some topic with equal sides. That kind of behavior is unacceptable.

Here's the audio trimming. Hearing it has a lot more power than reading it, I think.

-Thanks for reading,
      Brian Schrader

How to stimulate the open web

Posted on Sun, 31 Aug 2014

Fantastic advice. We developers should provide a feature like this in our apps/services. I know I'd use it in heartbeat. A proactive dev could use this feature to allow their users to leave Twitter/Facebook and still use their favorite apps.

This also gives me an idea.

How to stimulate the open web →

-Thanks for reading,
      Brian Schrader


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