Wednesday, June 25, 2008, 08:14 PM ( 22 views ) - Posted by AdministratorThe New York State legislature usually spends its time either on vacation or passing obnoxious laws, like ones requiring me to pay taxes on stuff I buy over the Internet even if the vendor isn't based in New York. My Internet purchases just became 8.25% more expensive. Good job, state legislature; that's the way to save the economy from its imminent death.
Anyway, once in a while the legislature tries to do stuff that's worthwhile, like prevent school districts from blowing tons of money on teachers' salaries and other illegitimate stuff. Unfortunately, none of the good laws ever come to fruition, since the New York State United Teachers lobby, the AIPAC of state politics, would never tolerate a law that might cut into teachers' salaries.
Public school teachers need to get over themselves and realize that they're already getting way more than they deserve. Teachers whine all the time about how hard they work for such little pay. In reality, teaching is one of the only professions in the country that offers absolute job security once you get tenure, steady annual pay increases, a six-hour workday and half of the year off. If teachers got what they deserved, they would have to worry like everyone else about losing their jobs or not getting raises and would actually work forty hours a week all year. Even French people almost work harder than teachers in this country, which is sad.
Moreover, teachers like to talk about how they deserve their gravy train because their role in society is so crucial for bringing up the next generation of skilled Americans, which makes everyone happy by keeping our corporations profitable, et cetera. When I was in high school, however, most of my teachers were pretty incompetent. With the exception of the one teacher in the school who taught introductory calculus, my math teachers knew little more than the algebra and geometry that they taught. I had history teachers who couldn't come up with a grammatically valid sentence no matter how long they tried. I was once told that the Second World War ended in the 1960s and that the Magna Carta was signed by Bolsheviks in 1932. My economics class taught me a lot about playing monopoly, but I still don't understand basic economic concepts. A handful of my teachers did know stuff and worked pretty hard, but they were few and far between. If teachers want to be taken seriously, they should take the time to learn stuff before telling us how American education will fail if we don't preserve the current system.
Anyway, the bill to stop teachers from being ridiculous is dead, and the state legislature is back on vacation, so I don't think it's worth pretending that things will ever change.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008, 01:44 AM ( 13 views ) - Posted by AdministratorLast Sunday morning, there was supposed to be a "planned outage" of Cornell's electronic mail service for a few hours. Today, we're forty-eight hours into the "unplanned outage" that followed, and I have no mail, which makes me really frustrated, because I made the mistake of still using Cornell for my primary mail account. Worse, it appears increasingly uncertain whether I'm ever going to get the mail that's been sent to me over the period of the last several days.
I've always had my doubts about the competence of Cornell Information Technologies, but I never thought it would get this bad. In the past, the worst things that CIT has done were making a convoluted website that was apparently designed by three-year-olds and steadfastly refusing to support Linux, or think about supporting Linux, or admit that Linux even exists. But it's brought its incompetence to a whole new level with this mail fiasco.
There are plenty of fourteen-year-olds on the Ubuntu forums who know how to run a mail server. I don't understand how all of CIT's professionally managed servers could go down for so long, and how Cornell could apparently not have a contingency plan for dealing with this event. Maybe CIT should hire more fourteen-year-olds who how to use Linux, and fewer fifty-year-olds who think that Microsoft is the messiah.
Actually it's not fair to blame Microsoft, because apparently the mail servers were all Sun machines. Even though Sun is one of the largest corporate backers of a lot of the most important Linux-related projects, it's still ridiculous. Sun thinks it matters, so it threatens Microsoft and friends all the time, and all that comes out of it is a loss of more of Sun's dignity. Also, I tried to install Solaris, Sun's operating system, in a virtual machine once and it was a big disaster, even after all the nonsense I went through to register and be allowed to download the ten gigabytes' worth of DVD images. So that's another reason to dislike Sun and wonder why Cornell felt compelled to run its servers on Solaris when it could have used a perfectly free, open-source operating system like Linux or a BSD (answer: because Cornell is sickened by things that are free and openly available to everyone).
Anyway, I guess this is a good time to start migrating to a new mail account that's not likely to break for extended periods of time with no warning.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008, 06:31 PM ( 22 views ) - Posted by AdministratorI was bored the other day, so I decided to solve one of the greatest mysteries of our times: why do so many people think that Macs are "just better," when in fact OS X and the hardware upon which it runs are increasingly identical to other platforms, and when Macs with few exceptions run the same exact set of productivity applications? Most of the answers on the Internet to this question were clearly written by people who have not yet finished elementary school, at least as far as their adhesion to the conventions of standard written English would indicate. Once in a while, however, you do come across a Mac user who can spell. One of the more grammatically sound and comprehensive outlines that I found of the "Macs are just better" platform is available here. Titled "Macs are Better," the essay focuses specifically on why Macs are so superior to Windows and everything else for "graphic designers." Unfortunately, the author of the essay is an incompetent fascist. So I thought it be useful to point out some of his errors and bigotries below, by responding to specific extracts from his paper:
Unlike competing graphics production platforms on the market today (platforms based on Windows, Windows NT, or Unix), Macintosh is the only desktop platform specifically designed for graphics production.
First of all, if OS X was designed "specifically...for graphics production," then it's presumably not ideal for anything besides graphics production. Yet you could find a thousand idiots, especially on a college campus, who will tell you that they bought a Mac because it's "just better for word processing," "it's just better for listening to music," "it's just better for browsing the Internet safely (even though in reality Safari is a sieve when it comes to security)," "it's just better for blowing tons of money on stuff I don't need," et cetera. If Macs were designed specifically for graphics production, how can they also be so ideal for these other tasks? The idea that a Mac is somehow magically more suited to graphics production is a figment of Steve Jobs' imagination, and nothing more.
Second, anyone who knows anything can tell you that OS X is in fact a Unix-based operating system, which the author cites explicitly as an inferior graphics-production platform. After Apple fired him in the 1980s, Steve Jobs, instead of doing work himself, ripped off the computer scientists at Berkeley by jacking their Unix kernel to build an operating system that, when Apple finally took Steve Jobs back, became OS X. All of these Mac-touting idiots should do a little reading on Wikipedia and realize that their operating system is not very special; it's just a BSD with a lot of useless proprietary overhead. When Apple says, "Think Different," what it really means is, "Think about how to steal an open-source operating system produced by academia and, through clever marketing, sell it to people for way more than it's worth."
The Macintosh G3 and G4 platforms run significantly faster than the fastest Pentium systems, a critical issue when working with multi-megabyte Adobe Photoshop files.
Indeed, the G3 and G4 run so fast that Apple abandoned them in favor of Intel chips a couple years after this garbage was written.
Adobe Photoshop, which our graphic designers use for the majority of their work, runs more smoothly on the Macintosh platform than on Windows platforms, and "appears to be visibly slowed down by Windows memory management." Memory management is better and more customizable on the Macintosh, allowing the user to easily and quickly allocate more memory to an application for memory-intensive graphics tasks.
I wasn't aware that graphic designers were also experts in low-level operating system functions. Apparently knowing how to point and click your way around Photoshop qualifies you to analyze the performance of memory registers under kernels whose source code has never been seen by anyone outside of Microsoft and Apple. Moreover, the whole point of a Mac is that virtually nothing, and least of all "memory management," is customizable, because Steve Jobs thinks that he knows better than you what you want. The only way to control how memory management is done is to use an open-source kernel like Linux, which this fascist probably never heard of.
Macintosh systems allow printing directly to any available printer, a trait that will free the graphics department from its dependency on the often unreliable LAN print server.
Newsflash: this is no longer 1982. Any operating system can print to whichever printer it feels like. You don't need to sell out to Steve Jobs to be able to use printers other than the "often unreliable LAN print server." This is another example of the subversion of reality by Apple's marketing campaigns.
Better graphics design tools available than on Windows
Where do people dream up garbage like this? OS X and Windows run the SAME EXACT GRAPHIC-DESIGN APPLICATIONS. Just because Steve Jobs has tried to delude you into thinking that only a $3,000 Mac is capable of editing a photo doesn't make it true. Steve Jobs lies.
More responsive mouse tracking—a critical factor for graphic productivity
Yeah, because every thousandth of a second that you have to wait for the cursor to be redrawn really cuts into productivity, even though no normal person can tell the difference.
Improved productivity in real-world graphics and publishing applications (Windows NT is almost 30% slower, and Windows 98 is almost 50% slower than the Macintosh platform).
What an idiot. Sure, Windows will run graphics applications and anything else a lot slower than a Mac if Windows is running on old hardware and the Mac is brand new. Vista on a quad-core processor will probably almost run faster than my Xubuntu on a ten-year-old Pentium III, too, but that doesn't make Vista faster than Linux. You can't make comparisons unless the hardware is exactly the same--which was impossible when this was written, since it wasn't yet possible to install Windows on a Mac (and Steve Jobs has spent his lifetime making sure, through legal and technical means, that no one can run OS X on anything besides the overpriced, unstable hardware sold by Apple).
Increased software proficiency, resulting in better quality and more creative work
If the Mac and the Windows machine are running the same exact productivity applications, how is the software of the Mac going to be more "proficient" than that of the Windows computer? Why can't these fascists get it through their heads that Adobe Photoshop is Adobe Photoshop, whether you run it on OS X, Windows or wine?
[A Mac environment will] attract the most productive and talented employees, because the best designers use the Mac platform
This is an archetypal example of the absurd egoism of people who buy Macs. Owning a Mac isn't your ticket to graphic-design excellence; learning how to be a good graphic designer is. In Macland, talent might correlate with the amount of money that you spend on grossly overpriced computers and software catered to the four-year-old mind. In reality, talent is not actually tied to consumerist activities, despite what so many marketing departments would like you to believe.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008, 02:40 AM ( 9 views ) - Posted by AdministratorLast week concluded my undergraduate experience. Appropriately, graduation was steeped in a lot of pretension. David Skorton's commencement speech centered around demonstrating how well Cornell's president can pronounce the word "university," and several kids talked for a long time to remind me how important it is that I "say thanks to Cornell" by giving it money forever. Cornell has yet to thank me for the tens of thousands of dollars that I gave it in exchange for learning how to be pretentious, but apparently I'm supposed to forgive that.
Fortunately, I left Cornell forever last week. I will probably miss the handful of people there who are not pretentious fascists, but I hope I never see anyone else from Cornell in my life, at least until they've learned to get over themselves. Graduating from Cornell does not make you a super-mega genius, no matter how many times you tell yourself that it does. It just makes you someone who paid too much for his education and/or comes from an illegitimately wealthy family of Cornell legacies. Instead of congratulating themselves all day long for being so smart, Cornell graduates should spend time doing something worthwhile. Then they could legitimately talk about being smart. Law school and investment banking do not generally constitute something worthwhile. Graduate school in history is probably also not worthwhile, but I'm not worried about becoming a super-mega genius.
Anyway, now that I graduated, I'm unemployed and have nothing productive to do all day until I go to graduate school in August. I thought about going back to work for the fascists at Price Chopper, but no one deserves that. Instead, I figured that I could spend all summer learning more about Linux and doing other computer-nerd stuff, since I'm going to have to revert to being a history nerd soon enough. My list of anticipated projects includes building a server to host this website, so that I can be done with the incompetent fascists who currently host it on their unresponsive server. I also plan on playing with bash scripting. Hopefully these things will sustain me till August.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008, 04:57 AM ( 25 views ) - Posted by AdministratorAmong other things, this month marks forty years since May 1968, or in other words, we are commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the most awesome thing that ever happened, at least in France. Even though I've been so busy doing fun and fulfilling things lately, I didn't want to get too far into this month without acknowledging all of the hardcore things that happened in Paris four decades ago.
In May 1968, a lot of kids in France decided that it was lame to be obsessed with buying stuff and respecting illegitimate authorities, so they occupied Nanterre and the Sorbonne. Then more French people became upset as well, which caused a lot of problems for a lot of illegitimate authorities. The French kids built barricades all over the Latin Quarter, a third of the country went on strike, De Gaulle ran away to Baden-Baden (which is where a great grandmother of mine was born, incidentally) and more fun things happened. Unfortunately, De Gaulle eventually came back and things calmed down, and French people apparently expended so much energy in 1968 that they're still recovering now, judging by how un-hardcore they are and how little they work today. Nonetheless, although modern French people are pathetic, and although we've reverted to a world where almost everyone believes all this garbage about "liberal democracy" and spends all day buying useless consumerist nonsense, the actions of the French in 1968 are very inspiring.
Indeed, for those of you who are still in the dark, May 1968 is the inspiration for my domain name. The name was also informed by the fact that I bought it just before I left to go deal with Sorbonne myself, which is considerably less hardcore than it was forty years ago. When I was at the Sorbonne, ninety-nine percent of the French youths whom I saw spent most of their time smoking, not building barricades, which is very disappointing. One day, in the week after Sarkozy got elected, the French kids had an assembly in the sogennante cour d'honneur of the Sorbonne, during which they threatened to occupy one of the amphitheatres, but they lost the nerve to pull even that off. The Sorbonne is also filled with police these days, so it would be hard to occupy anyway, although it would be a relatively defensible structure once you take it over, I imagine. It only has a few entrances and not too many windows low enough to permit entry. But this is off-topic.
Anyway, if you want to be inspired, you could go read some May 1968 graffiti (or in English if you are not hardcore/you studied a language that an appreciable number of relevant people actually speak). Better, you could go check Les murs ont la parole out of the library. Cornell has two copies of it, which is saying a lot for Cornell.