Skepticon Q&A drama

I was meaning to look up the video from Mizzou that had that assault happen, and watch the Skepticon Q&A with the journalist who made it, to see what all the drama was about so I could judge for myself.

Might have to put that off to when I have more time and aren’t just coming off being sick.

There does seem to be some of the general anti-SJ regressives just reflexively attacking Skepticon, but there’s also some of that pushback that sounds a lot like “you can’t criticize that guy he’s autistic”… Yeah, no. If you know someone is autistic, sure, that should probably guide how you deliver your criticism, but if they do wrong they do wrong and should not be beyond criticism. If someone is high functioning enough to do a public Q&A, they are probably functional enough to be held accountable for misconduct. Bitching about the criticism and not engaging at all with the content or even tone of said criticism really sounds like you are saying otherwise. And that’s a problem.

Still need to check out the relevant videos, just some of the criticism that has gone out is pretty much crap.

John A Lejeune’s Birthday Message to the Marine Corps

On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name Marine. In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

The record of our Corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world’s history. During 90 of the 167 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation’s foes. From the battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres, and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.
In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our Corps Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term “Marine” has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our Corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as “Soldiers of the Sea” since the founding of the Corps.

John Lejeune
Lieutenant General
U.S. Marine Corps

Daily Programmer 239 Easy – Game of Threes

So, the latest Daily Programmer project I’m working on(I’ll get to finishing the last one, eventually) is this weeks Easy level project, Game of Threes.

This one wasn’t complicated, here’s the code.

def get_diff_from_multiple(n):
    """ Returns -1, 0, or 1, whichever will add to n to           
    make the sum divisible by 3
    if n % 3 == 2:
        return 1
    elif n % 3 == 1:
        return -1
    elif n % 3 == 0:
        return 0

The core of the program is to either divide by three, or tweak the number to make it divisible by three.  The easiest way I saw was to just check how far it was from a multiple of three, and add the appropriate value.  It was pretty clear that modulus 3 would be the easy way- a remainder of 2, means adding 1 will make the number divisible by 3.  A remainder of 1, just subtract 1.  Remainder of 0, no change needed.

The function to play the game runs a loop until n reaches 1, outputting the appropriate status on each iteration of the loop.

def game_of_threes(n):
    """ Plays the game of threes with starting number n """

    while n > 1:
        diff = get_diff_from_multiple(n)
        print("{} {}".format(n, diff))
        n = (n + diff) // 3


There you go. Simple design for a simple project, though I’m sure there are some cleverer ways to do it.

The Minister of War

In Episode 4 of Doctor Who Series 9, “Before the Flood”, O’Donnell mentioned a Minister of War.

There’s been a lot of speculation as to who it could be.  My theory?  John Frobisher, the Permanent Secretary to the Home Office in Torchwood: Children of Earth.

We’ve had a callback to Caecilius already, but Peter Capaldi also played Frobisher.  I’ve been wondering if this will be drawn in, and this looks like a good way.

Now, Frobisher is believed to have commited murder/suicide by firearm.  But it’s worth noting that it’s harder than most people think to kill someone with a shot through the head, the standard aimpoint for firearms suicide.  For a rather dramatic example of taking a projectile through the brain and surviving, read about Phineas Gage.  Took a tamping iron through the skull, pieces of his brain falling out, and he survived for decades after, able to hold down jobs and such.  Granted, it wasn’t a 100% complete recovery, but he was functional.

So Frobisher putting a bullet through his brain isn’t guaranteed to be fatal or even guaranteed to cause serious permanent disability.  Especially given the stress he was likely under, what with the 456, arranging the logistics of handing over children to them, murdering his wife and kids, his aim may have been off.

So Frobisher survives.  It’s unlikely, but entirely possible.  Given the threat of the 456, the attempted turnover of all those children, while a crime against humanity under normal circumstances, might be excused as following orders in a situation with no good choices.  And then the murder of his family might qualify for some sort of diminished capacity or insanity defense after he broke down under the stress.

Eventually, perhaps Frobisher recovers, and becomes the Minister of War, and becomes involved in an event that draws The Doctor’s attention.  Perhaps, embittered by his experience with the 456, he goes on the offensive against aliens?

The Pentagon Has A Zombie Apocalypse Emergency Plan -What about aliens?

Unlikely this plan would ever be used, though some aspects are probably useful for general civil disorder.
I wonder what contingency plans exist for alien invasion? While we can’t be certain, that might actually be a possible threat. It would be hard to plan for.
Zombies can safely be assumed to have some subset of human capabilities, with additional resistance to injury and disease. Aliens? That’s wide open. Their physical and mental capabilites are an open book, and how far their weapons tech has advanced alongside the obviously much more advanced space travel might be impossible to predict.
The alien plan would be fertile grounds for research into rapid gathering and analysis of technical intelligence. How quickly we can do that could determine whether or not humanity goes extinct.

Of course, the aliens could arrive with hideously powerful weapons that just are not suitable for engaging humans or for use on Earth. I’m not talking something as ridiculous as Signs where the water allergic aliens invaded a planet that’s mostly water, but more subtle things like their rifles(or equivalent weapon) jamming a little bit more often than ours do.  That could give us an edge, possibly decisive if similar issues exist with all the alien tech.  It might turn out to just not be a serious threat when they turn up.

It’s just really hard to say with aliens, but still, it might be useful to work up some contingency plans for planning practice as well as developing intelligence capabilities.

Source: The Pentagon Has A Zombie Apocalypse Emergency Plan | IFLScience

Daily Programmer 238 Intermediate: Fallout Hacking Game(Wordlist data structure design)

One of my current projects is the Daily Programmer challenge here.  It’s a project to write a program to play a version of a hacking minigame from the Fallout series.  Here, I’ll work through my design process for a Python 3.4 implementation.

I started by just throwing out a little bit of code.  I didn’t expect this to get me anywhere, at least nowhere good.  But sometimes, just typing a few things out can help you realize what a project requires that purely thinking through it doesn’t.

I quickly realized I needed a data structure of some sort to hold the list of potential words.  A simple list of words would work, but depending on my source wordlist, I might end up with many words longer and shorter than the 4-15 letters the game design specifies.  I’d also have to look through the entire list to retrieve the small handful of words that are part of a run of the game.  Simply using a list would mean I’d have to account for these issues in many places in the game code, and that’s a problem.

I could use a list, and then have functions I call to work with the list.  But then I’d have to worry about global variables and/or passing a list all over the place.  That can be quite a mess.  Not as bad as repeating my data access code, but still a mess.  So I decided to implement it as a class, to package the data and its access code together.

I decided first it needed a way to give the user a list of words of appropriate length.  From here, I tried to think of an appropriate internal representation, and the easiest seemed to be a list of lists, indexed by word length. With that, I can use random.sample() to easily get an appropriate length list.

I can also use a function to fill the internal data structure that rejects words with lengths outside the specified limits.  There’s no sense having words with length of 16 in the data structure when I never need words that long.

The complete class is as follows:

class HackingGameWordList: 
    def __init__(self, wordlist):
    """ Wordlist is a list of strings, constants determine
    what length words I want to pull from the list
        self._MIN_LENGTH = 4
        self._MAX_LENGTH = 15
        self.words = [[] for _ in range(self._MAX_LENGTH)]
    def fill_list(self, wordlist):
        """ Breaks up the full wordlist into the internal list of lists
        indexed by word length
        for word in wordlist:
            l = len(word)
            if l >= self._MIN_LENGTH and l <= self._MAX_LENGTH:
     def get_n_words(self, n, l):
         """ Return a list of n randomly selected words of length l """
         return random.sample(self.words[l], n)

Sometimes initialisms get too long

An acronym/initialism that gets too long becomes a barrier, rather than aid, to communication. It almost becomes encryption rather than a concise summary of what is being discussed. Some of the extensions to LGBT go way past this point.  How is understanding aided when you have to explain the initialism every time you use it?  Who decides which order various identities get placed in?

There should be a better term, rather than trying to include everything specifically, go for a broader term. That’s the only way to actually cover everyone without full page strings of seemingly random characters. Ideally not a reclaimed slur- while I have no issue with the concept of reclaiming slurs, that’s always going to be controversial among some parts of a given community so something should exist that doesn’t run into that issue.

I wish I had a good candidate.  I do like reclaiming “queer” as an umbrella term, but as I said, that’s going to be controversial in some quarters, especially if it’s something cishets use to refer to us(which I’d have some issues with with ‘queer’).

Source: The Gauntlet / There will never be a letter for every identity


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