Monday, March 20, 2006

It's Monday... The stupid continues...

Why is it that the people on the HelpDesk where I work seem to have the equivalent communications skills of a houseplant? I'm not even going to say my cat; my cat has better communications skills than these folks. The latest example of stupid: "The user claimed that nobody can't print any documents from the Canon Netwok (Canon Image Runner 105)."

Now, I'm not sure what a Canon Netwok is, but I'm pretty sure we don't support it. It sounds like some sort of Network-Connected asian cooking device. As such, I'm not surprised that it doesn't print any documents. Also, I'd be worried if nobody could print to it. Nobody shouldn't be able to print anything. Nobody doesn't have rights to print anything.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Frivolous Lawsuit of the Week

A company that operates a parenting advice wesite is suing Google, claiming that by dropping its PageRank, Google damaged its business, causing traffic to the site to fall, and thus costing the site ad revenue.

This has got to be the most goddamn retarded thing I have ever heard. Google doesn't have any kind of contract with this company. They are a private company and under no obligation to even index the site, let alone provide a minimum ranking in search results.

This is the kind of crap that is contributing to the downfall of our society. If this doesn't get thrown out at the first hearing, that will be the first sign of the apocalypse.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Gay Marriage

This is an issue I've given a lot of thought to over the last few years, and I think I've finally got my thoughts on it organized to the point that I can put them coherently.

There are two big items that form the core of my views on this issue. The first, appropriately, is the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." This is pretty clear. The second is just a simple observation. Marriage is a religious establishment. "Marriage" as a concept rises out of our religions, going back to the times when religions were the government.

Now then, taking these two ideas and placing them together, I have come to the conclusion that the word "marriage" has no place in any law, anwhere. Period. The government (in the personae of the Judiciary) should not perform marraiges. The only people that should perform marriages are religious officials. Marriage should have no relevance outside of the religious setting.

The problem comes when confronted with the question of how to preserve the benefits to both individuals and society that results from a legal union forming the core of a family unit. Marriage offers many benefits both the the participants and to society as a whole. It provides stability, a means of conserving assets, and a better environment in which to raise children.

All of these benefits could be derived from a civil union. Who a person choses to enter into a civil union with is a personal choice and should be left up to them. The law should have no say in it. If a couple who has been married by a religious official wants to have their marriage recognized as a civil union for legal purposes, then they should have the right to do that. If a couple (of whatever gender combination) wants to avoid the religious implications of marriage, but enter into a civil union for the legal benefits, then they should have the right to do that as well.

The word "marriage" should be stricken from any law on the books anywhere in the US. Let the government recognize and provide benefits for civil unions. Let the churches worry about what constitutes a marriage. If the Catholics say that marriage is between a man and a woman, they have the right to place that restriction on Catholic marriages. If individuals don't like it, they have the choice to not subscribe to that particular religion.

Now the right-wingers won't have to worry about the establishment of marriage being corrupted, and everyone can have their partnerships recognized as equal in the eyes of the law.

After extensive study, I have concluded that the Christian right is neither.

More FUD

Note: if the term FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) is unfarmiliar to you, see the wikipedia entry.

Ah, the FUDmongers are at it again. This time it's Scientific American with an article implying that a) the recent rise in ocen temeratures (between half a degree and one degree Farenheit) is due to human inflences (as opposed to part of some natural cycle) and b) that this rise is causing an increase in the intensity of tropical storm systems.

Computer models don't prove anything. Correlation does not necessarily mean causality. It might as well be argued that these stronger storms are caused by the decrease in ocean piracy. I realize it's tough to get funding for a study that shows that we don't know how the world around us works because nobody make any money from "I don't know," but I'm sick and tired of this crap being pushed on the general public.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Yet more stupid....

Another gem from the HelpDesk...

Problem: "The user needs the desktop support setting up 7 computer machines---such as on the Internet."

Huh? What does this mean? I find it difficult to believe that the HD analyst is incapable of providing a better problem description than this.

The unfiltered stupid


Today is half over, and I'm already overwhelmed by the stupidity.

My building manager actually called me at work today to ask me where the nearest branch of BB&T is. Please keep in mind that this is a man in his mid-30s. Has he ever used a phone book? I know he can use the internet, because he manages to download all kinds of crap (viruses, p0rn, etc.). How about using Google? The bank has a website. Did it occur to him to use the branch locator on the wesite? Of course not. Clearly, it requires advanced computer skills to type "BB&T" into Google and click on the first link.

Hold on, the stupid isn't over yet. Check out this problem description provided by our HelpDesk: "The user claimed that the Outlook gives out the error when he hits the send/recieve button."

That's right. The Outlook gives out the error. Of couse, Outlook (It's a proper noun, so no article is required) only ever gives out one error. And I have no need to know exactly what the error message says. Simply knowing that there is an error is enough for me to be able to fix the problem.

Here's another one from the same person on the HelpDesk: "The user needs help with her Outlook Account on her machine---it won't start."

What won't start? Outlook? The machine? I'd assume it was the account except that Outlook doesn't have accounts, it has profiles which are then assosciated with email accounts. It's a good thing the HelpDesk is physically located somewhere else (far enough that I'd have to take a couple of hours to drive there and back), otherwise I'd be tempted to try and beat the stupid out of people.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I've got it figured out now. (see previous post) We need to start with the assumption that pot makes you stupid. Now consider that based on the data from the Greek study, the mean IQs across all 3 study groups (long-term cannabis users, short-term cannabis users, and a "control" group of non-users) were for all intents and purposes identical (slightly above 100, small standard deviation, and the mean of any group is within one SD of the mean of any other group), the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the people that smoke pot started out smarter than the people who don't smoke pot. Maybe they're trying to find a way to relate to (or deal with) the vast numbers of insipid, knuckle-dragging morons that make up the bulk of the population.

This qualifies as news?!?!?

I have a Google news search set up on my homepage for the term "Marijuana." Most of the time, this just show the top five stories about the biggest grow-op or trafficking busts that occurred recently, but occasionally something a little more interesting shows up. Like Yesterday.

Yesterday, the top story was from CNN. The headline read "Heavy Marijuana Use Linked to Memory and Learning Deficits."

Plausible, but it flies in the face of most recent research on the subject, so I decided to dig. The CNN article was reporting on an article published in the journal Neurology (Published by the American Academy of Neurology). The actual data, however, does not bear out either the author's conclusions or those reported by CNN (among others, I'm just picking on them because they're a big target) that "heavy, long-term frequent cannabis use leads to subtle deficits in specific neuropsychological domains."

In fact, comparison of the results from long-tem users vs. the control group did not result in statistically signifigant differences in measured cognitive ability in 11 of the 14 tests performed. Additionally, there are serious methodological problems with this study:

1) This study involved a grand total of 64 people. 20 "long-term" users, 20 "short-term" users, and a control group of 24- not enough of a sample size to derive any kind of meaningful results.
2) Among the groups, the overall "cannabis users" group is 62.5% Male, while the control group is only 54.2% Male
3) The mean age of the "short term" group was 4 years younger than the control group, while the mean age of the "long-term" group was 4 years older than the control group.
4) The "control group" had more mean years of education than either "users" group in the study.
5) Only the "control group" had members under 21 (the youngest was 17)

So- to summarize: CNN is running a story about a study from which no meaningful conclusions can be drawn. Shame on you, CNN. The American Academy of Neurology published this study despite serious flaws in its methodology and its conclusions not being borne out by the underlying data. Shame on you, AAN. The News Media as a whole picked this up as a story and ran with it. Whatever happenned to responsible journalism? Checking sources? Doing anything more that rewording a press release? I understand that most people are cows, but I'm more likely to punch the guy with the cattle prod than to go along with the herd.