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Median net worth of congressmembers: 1m. Wonder Why?

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Congress, after continuously using insider trading law exceptions to enrich its members, made insider trading by its members illegal in 2012 (this was known as the STOCK act, bill S.2038) The mechanism to enforce this was public access to the records of the members of congress.

Then, the 113th congress quietly passed bill S.716.ES into law (how quietly? Unanimously, no debate, no recorded vote, total voting time: 14 seconds), which eliminated public access to the records of the president, vice president, any member of congress, and any candidate for congress.

Naturally, members of congress are in the perfect position to know about many advances and changes with regard to corporate value fluctuations. They make the laws that cause many of those value fluctuations, and then of course there are the lobbyists.

If I had access to this information for several years, as do congress members, I’m sure my net worth would be quite different from what it is now too.

But hey, no one cares. ‘Murica, right? Let’s get those tech jobs sent overseas while we stop the Terrible Threat Of Immigrants. Perhaps then I’ll be able to utilize my extensive programming skills doing… yard work. Thanks, congress. Thanks, corporations.

Congress: 14% approval, 94% re-election rate. Are people stupid, or what?

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Defy Invalid Social Norms

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disnxThe elders have their noses in the air and a stick where only their proctologists can find it. You know it. I know it. Even they probably know it. You can say something about it!

Definitely not a laydown, yet not so directly offensive as to put everyone off the moment you show up.

This is one of my t-shirts (you can also get it put on a hoodie or quite a range of other wearables), which I would be obliged if you would look at and perhaps consider adding to your wardrobe, which in turn will kick a few (very few, sadly) dollars my way. It’s one of my best tees, in my not-so-humble opinion. I wear this one more often than any other.

Some good news is that as I write this, the tee vendor, Zazzle, is having a decent sale, with discounts on both products and shipping costs.

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What’s that Smell?

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As they train to become a doctor, new interns are taught about many different diseases that produce various sets of otherwise similar symptoms. In conjunction with this new and complex knowledge, they are also taught this truism: “When you hear hoofprints, you must not initially assume a zebra is in the vicinity.” This pithy remark is meant to impart that, for instance, if a patient comes in bleeding from an orifice, one must not immediately assume that Ebola is in the building; more likely something much more common is in play, such as hemorrhoids or perhaps an unfortunate excess of enthusiasm coupled with a new, ahem, toy.

One of the clearer signs that I was becoming a competent programmer was that the problems in my code began, more and more often, to in fact, be zebras. Instead of a misplaced character or a missing clause or some kind of blatant conceptual error, the abject weirdnesses that were most often populating the realm of my final, demonstrably accurate diagnoses came to be things like operating system bugs, broken libraries, incomplete emulations and exotic compiler bugs. Zebras.
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Catching ALL exceptions in Python

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When working with Python, sometimes, more than anything else, you need to know what went wrong. Quite aside from all the debate about what you should do in response, and particularly when developing, you need more than just a vague idea that your CGI bailed and that there might (or might not) be some usable indication of this in the system web logs.

Even when working in a pure command line context, you may need to catch anything and everything. If you do, the following gives you a basic model of just how to do it.

import sys try: a = 5 / 0 except Exception,e: # the Exception class provides messages print 'Exception caught, message: '+str(e) raise SystemExit # bail out (optional) except: # other exceptions e = sys.exc_info() # so we mine sys library info instead print 'Non-Exception class Exception caught, message: '+str(e) raise SystemExit # bail out (optional) else: # and, well, sometimes things work out. print 'it worked, no exception!' # whoo hoo... finally: # always happens print 'Glad THAT ordeal is over -- one way or another.' print 'And here we are. Aren't we?' # you only get here if things worked out

Try out the above with code you know will work, like a=1 immediately subordinate to the try: clause, and then with code you know won’t work, like a=5/0 and see what it does.

Hope someone finds that useful. Took me a while to dig through it all and wrap my head around even the basic idea that sometimes, you just need to know!

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New OSX and Windows version of SdrDx: 2.13e

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SdrDx 2.13e adds a very large number of changes, fixes and some features over the previous mainline release, which was 2.12q.


    Downloads: http://fyngyrz.com/?p=915
Documentation: http://fyngyrz.com/sdrdxdoc/sitemap.html
      Changes: http://fyngyrz.com/sdrdxdoc/changes.html

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A Theory of Mind

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Consciousness in specific, and the mechanism of thinking in general, have remained an opaque block to science in general and researchers in the area in specific. This is something that is both immensely interesting to me, and which occupies a considerable amount of my “spare cycles”, as it were. I think about it in an orderly fashion, I day- and night-dream about it in a most decidedly disorderly fashion, I draw charts and diagrams, I take copious notes, and I constantly ask people why they say what they say, hoping for insight into the thought process — not the issue or the answer, but the mechanism.

About the Title

As it turns out, “Theory of Mind” has some previous associations, so please note it was only intended as a description of the content here, not a declaration of association with these ideas.

Here I will present a description of how the brain operates. Not a metaphor — metaphors tell you what things are like, not what they are — but my conclusion as to how the brain, and therefore the mind, actually works.

I’m working backwards on this, as are we all — but after almost forty years of examining the problem I have come up with a model that has turned out to satisfy every question that I have about thought and consciousness in what I can only describe as a manner satisfactory to myself. Which is, I think, in itself notable. If for no other reason than everything I have ever come up with previously, or read about, has utterly failed to do so. So, dear reader, please come along as I try to explain myself. Literally.
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Using the Pi as an aquarium pump controller

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Just a short post to follow up on the how-to Raspberry Pi post. I went into detail on how to get one going, but I never really said what I was doing with the thing. So, in case anyone is curious:

First I installed all the software I wanted. I set the Pi up as a headless (no monitor, keyboard or mouse) network-controlled computer. I installed a wifi dongle so it became a headless, wireless network-controlled computer. And then…
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