Odds And Ends

Odds And Ends

First up - Peter Grant, author of the outstanding Ames Archives westerns as well as the entertaining Maxwell Saga and - set in the same universe - excellent Cochrane's Company books, has two posts.

The first is a horrifying moral dilemma that demonstrates how evil begets more evil.

That's just too sickening for words . . . and it highlights the dilemma caused by conflicting evils. I am strongly pro-life, and against abortion, because the child in the womb is as much a human being as its mother, or anyone else, and deserves all the protection we afford to any human life. On the other hand, to force an eleven-year-old child - too young to safely give birth vaginally - to carry her rapist's child, when she probably doesn't have a full or clear understanding of pregnancy except that she was brutally violated by someone she presumably trusted - that's just as evil. There's no other way to describe it.

This is where purity of religious or moral doctrine runs headlong into the brick wall of reality. The irresistible force meets the immovable object. No matter what choice one makes, evil is going to result. That's guaranteed . . . so how does one choose between them? And, if I were in a position of authority in this matter, how would I act? What about my personal responsibility for any action I authorize or approve?

The rapist in question is described as her "grandmother's husband."

On another note - under things we used to have but just can't do anymore...

The Concorde entered commercial service with Air France and BOAC in 1976, but was never a commercial success, despite being the flagship service of those airlines.  Its technological fragility was underscored by the accident that ultimately led to its permanent grounding.  On July 25th, 2000, Air France Flight 4590 suffered a blown tire on takeoff.  Debris punctured a fuel tank, which led to a fire and subsequent crash, killing everyone aboard.

Yes, materials science has gotten better, but some of the capability of making the exotic materials in pieces large enough has gone away - note the titanium manufacturing facilities required for the SR-71 blackbird would have to be rebuilt. Avionics and our understanding of aerodynamics is also better, as well as more hard-earned knowledge of what is sfe, and not safe, to have aboard a plane.

Yet my gut feeling is that unwillingness to bear the cost is not the only reason we haven't found more economical solutions and improvements to problems we've already solved. I type this as I also consider the number of teething problems the Boeing Dreamliner has had. Sure, other plane platforms have had them as well, and there was new tech introduced from an airframe perspective, but the issues they've had problems with have been "solved" problems for some time, and even Boeing is not satisfied with the operational reliability of the new fleet.

On a different note, pun intended, I stumbled into this review of Rocksmith. The short version is "it sucks", but while there were a few things I agree with insofar as the points he made - heck, even my review noted that one really needed to spend time with a tutor or a better set of educational tools for the basics than Rocksmith or Yousician - one point he makes I don't see to be an issue, and on other's he is just flat wrong. As the comment pointed out:

Seriously? You don’t even know that there is an option to make the tabs to show 100% and not that easy mode? You didn’t even find riff repeater which allows you to break down a song section by section and learn it slowly at whatever speed you want?

The only valid complain is that you don’t memorise songs but there is a setting in Rocksmith called Master mode which hides the tab. It’s another thing to learn to play a song and another to learn it by heart. If you know how to play it you can memorise it easily if you wanted.

In short, while I think the reviewer has a point that you're not dinged for extra notes and can to some extent "cheat" that way, I don't find that to be a problem, and, he missed not only some very basic tools built into the game, but managed to do this despite the fact the game literally flags your attention to use those tools through encouraging you to meet various "achievement" style goals.

I'll further add that anyone reading my review will be perplexed by:

On easier levels, it only shows a few of the notes at one time. They often aren’t emphasized notes or notes on the beat, just random notes. The problem with this is you don’t know what patterns you are dealing with until it gets to higher settings. Your fingers and brain aren’t learning how the song really plays, just pieces of it in random weird ways

If you recall my own review I'd noted how I figuratively shot myself in the foot by not following the lead of the recommended hand positioning. Also, in each of the songs I've tried, the notes are hardly random. Sure, the very easiest level picks single notes every few bars that can feel a bit random, but that in conjunction with the positioning guides starts getting you positioned, and the next step up in complexity starts getting you into single-note or simpler-chord versions that recognizably follow the main melody of the chosen part.

Finally, while I'll eventually want to generate my own tabs - or if lazy, buy - for some of the songs, $40 or so for a game that will give me far more value than that in drill and practice is still a no-brainer.

For the last topic - a disturbing look by Ars into tech worker activism. They of course try to make it sound like a good thing.

In this episode of Ars Technica Live, we spoke with Leigh Honeywell, a security engineer who has worked at several large tech companies as well as the ACLU. She's been at the forefront of worker organizing in the tech industry, organizing protests against data-driven profiling and founding Hackerspaces in both Canada and the United States. Recently, she founded the company Tall Poppy to protect tech workers from abuse online.

We began by talking about how she created the Never Again pledge, signed by hundreds of tech workers, which was a direct response to President Trump's openness to tracking Muslims in the US using big data. She said it was a turning point when tech workers realized that the systems they built weren't just helping people. These systems could also be weaponized and used for surveillance and racial profiling. People signing the pledge promised to quit their jobs before designing a database for tracking Muslims or any other vulnerable group.

The following of course acts like any "abuse" directed at "tech companies" and other places like Gawker and various media outlets has absolutely nothing to do with any behavior on the part of said companies:

That realization was a major reason why Honeywell founded Tall Poppy, a startup devoted to helping companies protect their workers from online harassment or abuse. Many people working at game companies or social media platforms are singled out by disgruntled users for abuse and campaigns to get them fired. Often, company leaders don't understand why it's happening or how to deal with it.

Really. I bet they're thinking of constant drama queen Jessica Price and her ilk that have outright insulted users or otherwise stirred up drama, treating a failure to jump to their whims as capital offenses...

Me, I'm pretty damn sure why people are upset with them. But then I'm not one of the "tolerant".

When rules change in a game or somebody's social media account is flagged, that can lead irate users to target workers. An extreme example would be the YouTuber who was de-monetized and showed up at YouTube headquarters with a gun.

I am not surprised they don't mention specific details of that incident as they don't fit a particular worldview - otherwise I'm sure more pixels would have been dedicated to awful hatey MAGA types. I'm more shocked that they couldn't find anything else remotely as egregious or dramatic to bring up that could be stretched to blame on hateful intolerant types they're obviously thinking of as the general run of the mill troll.

And again, the tech workers themselves, their activism, their part in flagging and demonetising and throttling users who were promised a platform to stand on for whomever will listen, is never considered.

About Last Redoubt

Ex nuke mechanic, jack of all trades.