Link blog: toilet, television, security, funny

THE EXPLODING TOILET and Other Memories
"And in one of those dreaded realizations pilots are advised to avoid, that insulation between cockpit calm and atmospheric anarchy looks thin indeed. An extrapolated horror: the riveted aluminum planks bending apart, the wind rushing in, explosive depressurization, death, the first airliner — no, the first vehicle — in history to crash because of an overflowing toilet." This guy tells a good story. Via marnanel
(tags: flying toilet pilot aircraft funny)
Secrets of FBI Smartphone Surveillance Tool Revealed in Court Fight | Threat Level | Wired.com
by a court case. Those guys have some nice kit.
(tags: eavesdropping FBI spying bugging surveillance interception)
The Boston Marathon Bombing: Keep Calm and Carry On – Bruce Schneier – The Atlantic
"But our brains are fooling us. Even though this will be in the news for weeks, we should recognize this for what it is: a rare event. That’s the very definition of news: something that is unusual — in this case, something that almost never happens. "
(tags: terrorism bruce-schneier security)
PSA: Ignore the news – Charlie’s Diary
The reading the news is bad for you: a timely reminder.
(tags: television news tv media charles-stross)
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I’ll tell the waiter to tell him he’s wanted on the telephone

How to do it right
How to do it right
Over at What Should We Call Swing Dance, someone posted an image macro about how it’s a bit crushing when someone turns down a dance with you and then goes and dances the same song with someone else. There’s a bit of etiquette (which is shared among the partner dances I’m familiar with) that if you turn someone down, you respond as if you didn’t want to dance that song anyway (“I’m tired, I’ll sit this one out”, “I hate Big Bad Voodoo Daddy”) and then sit out for that song, even if you really refused because you don’t particularly want to dance with that person right now. Conversely, if you do go off and dance the song with someone else, it’s a pretty deliberate signal that you don’t want the orignal asker to ask you again, ever ever. (One can also achieve this with the manner of one’s refusal, of course, but this is an advanced skill: Nikolas Lloyd has a training video).

It being Tumblr, this meme gets called out as heteronormative (Oh Tumblr! Never change!) because the caller-out is a woman who mostly leads but is in one of those rare scenes where there are too many guys (who also mainly lead), and doesn’t like the implication that it’s rude to turn them down when they ask her to follow.

Is there such an implication? Only if the caller-out then goes on to dance that song. The etiquette (and the meme) does not say it’s rude to turn people down. But it does seem like there’s room for some improvement here.

Core Etiquette Addendum 1

Everyone's a winner
Everyone’s a winner
If some people are willing to switch (as we call it in my subculture) but most people have a preferred role, and someone is asked to dance the opposite role to their preference, it seems that one could (a) see whether the asker will dance that role instead, and if not (b) dance with someone who will, with no loss of face for the original asker. I hereby declare that people who do this are Not Rude.

Erratum

There is a further bit of etiquette (not so far referenced in any image macros, as far as I know) which just plain says its rude to turn people down. I agree that this is problematic (as we say on Tumblr). I think it’s usually propagated by dancing teachers in an effort to make dancing more friendly and less cliquey, but you shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for refusing extended physical contact with people you don’t want to have that contact with. The etiquette is exploitable (as we say on 4Chan) by bad actors: see this educational video (Tumblr users: trigger warning for satire).

I cast Summon Shitstorm!

There is a wider question of why it is that men usually lead and women usually follow and whether this is a good thing, but again, Lloyd sorted that out a while ago, so there’s probably no more room for debate about it, I’d’ve thought.

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Ebert, Hume and Lucretius on death

Ebert

I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris. – Roger Ebert

The devout can’t abide such sentiments: in the comments on Ebert’s article (republished by Salon following his death), some of them have chimed in, and kept digging (sorry, I couldn’t resist giving that latter one a well deserved kick). Ebert didn’t call himself an atheist, of course, but clearly saw no reason to believe in an afterlife.

Hume

This reminded me of Boswell’s visit to Hume as Hume was dying. Boswell writes:

I asked him if the thought of annihilation never gave him any uneasiness. He said not the least; no more than the thought that he had not been, as Lucretius observes. ‘Well,’ said I, ‘Mr Hume, I hope to triumph over you when I meet you in a future state; and remember you are not to pretend that you was joking with all this infidelity.’ ‘No, no,’ said he. ‘But I shall have been so long there before you come that it will be nothing new.’ In this style of good humour and levity did I conduct the conversation. Perhaps it was wrong on so awful a subject. But as nobody was present, I thought it could have no bad effect. I however felt a degree of horror, mixed with a sort of wild, strange, hurrying recollection of my excellent mother’s pious instructions, of Dr. Johnson’s noble lessons, and of my religious sentiments and affections during the course of my life. I was like a man in sudden danger eagerly seeking his defensive arms; and I could not but be assailed by momentary doubts while I had actually before me a man of such strong abilities and extensive inquiry dying in the persuasion of being annihilated. But I maintained my faith. I told him that I believed the Christian religion as I believed history.

It seems Boswell suffered DOUBT (as the archivist at the National Library of Scotland has it) as a chronic sinus sufferer. Visiting an apparently contented unbeliever on their deathbed can’t be good for your sinuses: you’ll get a worldview defence reaction from all those thoughts about death.

Lucretius

I’ve been reading Lucretius after Ken MacLeod’s recommendation. Stallings‘s translation into rhyming couplets is quite jolly:

None’s consigned to the pit, to patch-black Tartarus, below –
Future generations need material to grow.
And they, when life is through, shall follow you into the grave,
As those that came before, no less than you, wave after wave.
Thus one thing arises from another – it will never cease.
No one is given life to own; we all hold but a lease.
Look back again – how the endless ages of time come to pass
Before our birth are nothing to us. This is a looking glass
Nature holds up for us in which we see the time to come
After we finally die. What is it there that looks so fearsome?
What’s so tragic? Isn’t it more peaceful than any sleep?

The death panel: Nagel

The Skepticon atheist Death Panel weren’t quite convinced by an argument that nothing has been lost: Julia Galef quotes Nagel (at around 28:22), who points out that we feel that someone who is reduced to the state of a newborn infant by a brain injury has lost something, even though that person was a newborn infant in the past. So I agree with Nagel (and Yudkowsky, who turns out to be a pretty funny speaker) that death is bad. But Lucretius is also concerned with the people who don’t want their corpse to be cremated because they think it might hurt, or who fear a Hell or somehow experiencing oblivion as being entombed forever: as he and Hume and Ebert knew, such fears have no foundation.

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Escaping LiveJournal: a guide

I’m mostly writing this down so I remember it, but maybe it’ll also come in useful to other people. This is how I converted from LJ to WordPress.

Getting data out of LJ

WordPress’s LiveJournal importer is buggy and doesn’t do a bunch of stuff I want (such as re-writing links to my own posts so that they now point to the new blog). Luckily, jwz has been here before, and wrote a Perl script to download a journal and output WordPress’s XML import/export format. This does better, but needed a bit of hacking to suit my obsessive need to avoid information loss in the transfer to WP. I’ve stuck my own version here: the comment at the top describes what I changed. You’ll need LJ::GetCookieSession. Like all Perl scripts, this one is configured by global variables near the top, so you’ll need to change those too. You then say
ljgrabber.pl -v --wordpress --comments > wordpress.xml
and then upload wordpress.xml to the WordPress importer (Tools, Import on the WordPress dashboard).

Note that I haven’t used any of the other advertised options (to re-write bits of your LJ so they point to the new blog) in my modified version of the script, so damned if I know whether they work, crash, or delete your journal. Probably best to try it on a spare journal first, I’d’ve thought.

Installing

I ran through WordPress’s famous 5 minute install having stuck the untarred WP download in the right place on my site. Excitingly, this left wp-config.php (which has stuff like the database password in it) with both public read and public write permissions (assuming it was the installer and I wasn’t immediately pwned by something before anyone had seen the blog). So, you might want to watch for that.

Plugins you will want

  • Akismet: WordPress blogs attract a lot of spam comments. Akismet kills them all. Possibly there’s something I can do about this to make my blog less obviously a WordPress one, but I haven’t worked out what they’re using to identify it yet.
  • Avalicious will grab user pictures from LJ if your commenters specify a LiveJournal as their website URL. Since jwz’s Perl script produces such comments, installing this gets you the familiar looking icons for everyone. Note that you will want to apply jwz’s patch or it’ll kill your performance on pages containing comments from people who deleted their journals.
  • Live Comment Preview: cos it’s handy.
  • Subscribe to Comments: nearest thing I’ve found to LJ’s email functionality. I’m not sure whether it’s actually emailing you replies to your comment or just any new comments. Probably should check that.
  • LiveJournal Crossposter: does what it says on the tin. Note that if you go back and edit imported posts, it seems to want to post them again (presumably because the imported posts don’t have whatever magic it uses to tell that they’re already posted to LJ), but for posts which it has cross-posted for you, it’s clever enough to apply subsequent edits back to LJ, too. Note that there’s a setting which controls whether it just posts excerpts or the whole entry. For now, I’ve set it to the whole thing, even if it does mean the Russian mafia are getting advertising revenue from my writing.
  • Updraft Plus Backup/Restore: backs up the database and files to Google Drive, which I wasn’t using for anything else.
  • WP Super Cache: Crimefighting Jesus told me to, and he runs the hosting company, so he should know.

I expect I’ll tart it up a bit at some point but the default theme seems reasonable enough for now. Any other top tips welcome, I guess.

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Link blog: negotiation, salary, jobs, psychology

6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person | Cracked.com
The antitode to Nice Guy-ism, among other stuff. Via andrewducker.
(tags: psychology advice nice guy)
Salary Negotiation: Make More Money, Be More Valued | Kalzumeus Software
(tags: work jobs money negotiation salary)
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