Who drives the rape lobby?

Forgot to write about it at the time, but last week, I ran across the fact that 31 states believe rapists deserve visitation (and perhaps other parental) rights. That just blows my mind.

I was about to write that I can forsee some rare circumstances where that might make sense, but I really can't. The one circumstance I can think of where it might make a tiny amount of sense would require the mother to agree (statutory rape where the women ends up marrying the "rapist". Yes, it happens.  I don't know how often, but it does). But if she does, there's no reason to craft laws requiring it, it would come out of the marriage.

Ugh. "You've just had the worst experience of your life, now you'll be forced to deal with the person who caused it for the next eighteen years. How are you feeling?"

How does this happen? The rapist lobby? Seriously, it blows my mind. I cannot account for it.

Rampant Hunger

I heard about the survey mentioned in this article on Friday, when NPR was talking about it (can't find a link to that). For those not reading, and I'd recommend it, it was a survey that, among other things, asked people whether they had had to give up food to pay for other things in the last year.

The disturbing part is that 18% (remember, this is in a country that makes more than enough to feed everyone) of respondents had done so.

NPR didn't talk about it all that much, just generally saying that the south was worst (largest percentage of people who had to sacrifice food for something else in the last twelve months). But what hit me when they mentioned the worst states (other than Delaware) was that they were mentioning the states with the worst obesity rates.

So I'm left wondering how strong the correlation is. I can certainly see a way for there to be a correlation, even though it seems ridiculous at first glance; those most likely to run out of money spend the largest percentage of their budget on fast food and processed food. And those certainly correlate pretty strongly with obesity.

I did a bit more digging, and found that the CDC has some information about adult obesity, and it shows a pretty heavy correlation. Certainly not perfect, but the shapes are very similar. And, man, that's scary that twelve states had >= 30% obesity in 2010. Perhaps even scarier that every single state was over 20% (Colorado was lowest at 21.0%, DC next at 22.2%). Wow.

Geeze... Doing more thinking about that data. So, in sixteen years, the US has gone from the worst state in the nation having less than 20% obesity, to every state being over that, and the worst being 34.0%. Yikes. And yes, hunger is still a problem. Double yikes.

It would be interesting to have aggregate data from grocery stores and restaurants (probably restricting just to chains, for several practical reasons), what kind of foods people are eating, and how that correlates with aggregated health data.  I'd be willing to bet that it wouldn't look good for certain kinds of processed food and certain restaurants.


Patently Obvious

[This, also, I wrote a couple of days ago.  Not only that, but I also did not anticipate a verdict coming back so quickly.]
I've been getting more and more educated on the patent system for the past several years, and I must admit, the more I find out about it, the less needed I think it is.

So it's with some ambivalence that I look at the current battle royale between Apple and Samsung (over phone and tablet appearance, mostly). I do favor Apple products. The Samsung models just have no interest for me (largely for software reasons).

So you'd think I'd be happy to see what's happening, as Apple seems to have a very strong case (I was pretty skeptical until some of Samsung's internal documents came out). And short-term, I'd rather Apple get more money, I suppose.

But I think the loser in this will inevitably be the consumer; I think it'll lead to fewer choices, and it will strengthen software patents, which I have to admit to being particularly strongly against (I think I've just about always been against software patents; definitely, I've been against them for far longer than I've even considered whether the whole system is broken).

I've just never heard of a software patent that I thought was truly innovative.

And again, since patents are legal monopolies, the inevitable loser of bogus patents are the consumers. It slows down innovation, and subjects truly innovative companies to costly suits by patent trolls (and others, but especially by trolls).

Update:  Now that the verdict is in, and Apple has won (though the award dropped nearly to a third of what Apple was asking), yeah, I don't find myself too happy about what happened.  Lots of lawyers made lost of money, and less went into technological innovation.  Just not a win for anyone (except, perhaps, for Apple.  And I'm not even certain that they did; it might have removed some of their motivation for further innovation.  We'll have to wait and see on that one).

Of course, there's also the fact that this will certainly get appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.  Maybe the Supremes will knock out the patents.  We can hope.  Because again, the appeals benefit no one but the lawyers.

Global Warming Slap

[note: I wrote this a couple of days ago, but am just getting to posting it.]
Yesterday, NPR reported that Tropical Storm Isaac was bearing down on Cuba, Hispaniola, and nearby islands and, by extension, Florida. It then mentioned it being twenty years (to the day, I believe) since Hurricane Andrew hit Florida.

I found that a little shocking (call it global warming throwing water in my face), insofar as that, twenty years ago at this time, we were tracking the first storm of the year, whereas today we're tracking the ninth. That's certainly progress, and certainly not in a good way.

Still Hungry

I mentioned, the other day, that I had started reading The Hunger Games again.  Well, I finished it earlier today, and again enjoyed it.  It did feel a little different, this time, but not by a huge amount.  My main goal was to pay extra attention to Katniss and Peeta's relationship, but I don't think I succeeded in that.

In fact, maybe I'm just tired, but I don't really remember noticing anything more, or differently, than in my first perusal.

I still enjoyed the book, but I'm not at all sure I'll read it again, and am even questioning whether to re-read the rest of the series.  I guess I'll decide in the next couple of days.

I am looking forward to seeing the movie again, but not sure when I'm going to get it.


Bourne Again

Went and saw the new Bourne movie this evening.  I wish I'd rewatched the third one before seeing this one.  I remember some of it, but not as much as I would have liked, I think.

It started in a kind of .. ADD fashion.  It was flitting from one spot to the next.  There were a number of short scenes with the new hero (Aaron) in a training ground in Alaska.  We see some high-level spooks, as well.

The spooks are worried about spillover from Bourne's actions, and about having to shut down several other programs related to the one that produced Jason Bourne.

Of course, with a program like that, "shut down" means kill everyone involved.  The particular program most of interest in this movie is one called ALCOM, of which Aaron is an agent and which is driven by drugs taken regularly.

Aaron's need for the drugs, after the program is shut down, drives him to find one of the doctors involved.  The two of them need to help each other escape.

So, how was the execution of the movie?  Mostly pretty good.  High-energy, lots of frenetic cuts, lots of action.  But was it good?

That's a bit tougher.  It definitely had some flaws.  Introducing a new enemy three-quarters of the way through was not good (a good enemy needs more than ten seconds of build-up to be believable, and feel threatening).  Having him recognized instantly, especially since it was at quite a distance, was also not good.  But the biggest flaw was the ending.  It didn't really feel like much was resolved; it just ended.

So what was good?  The action parts were pretty convincing.  They had a tiny bit of a Terminator vibe (you know, where Biehn comes back to help Hamilton, and as the movie progresses, she needs to shoulder more and more of the load), but it lasted only half a minute or so.  They had cameos by pretty much all of the surviving principals of the last movie (except Damon, who appeared only as a picture).  The ending was ... well, open-ended, so they have lots of ways to go with the next one (but they didn't leave it where things could be considered over).

Overall, I guess it wasn't too bad.  It certainly did not live up to the standards of the first three, although that's not an especially damning statement.  I'm left a bit curious to see where it goes next, but not feeling like I need to know.  I don't feel like we got ripped off, nor like it was a fantastic experience.  Hopefully that helps a bit, if you're thinking of going to see it.


Them's Akin words

By now, you've probably heard about Missouri Senatorial candidate Todd Akin talking about abortion and rape, saying
if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that down

It's really disturbing, on several levels, not least of which is failing to even have a high school-level understanding of biology.

But really, what disturbs me most is that he put together an apology.  And it was a pretty good apology.  But he was apologizing for the wrong thing.  He still thinks, despite the furor, and demands that he step down from the race, that the only thing wrong with what he said is that he said "legitimate rape", rather than "forcible rape".

Leaving aside that 'legitimate' should never, ever be used to modify 'rape', is there anything fundamentally different between rape at knife- or gun-point and date rape?  Can a woman's body tell the difference, so that it knows to "shut... that down"?

He said that pregnancies from rape are rare, and I certainly believed that, but I can't see how that would matter.  Rare or not, do you really want a woman to be forced to carry a reminder in her body, for nine months, of what was, quite likely, her worst experience?  Plus, of course, I now know that it's a lot less rare than I though (over 30k annually).  I assume that number includes a lot of cases of statutory rape and incest.

And that's ignoring that a woman's only ways of "shutting that down" are the morning after pill or abortion (clue for you, Mr Akin: neither of those are built into a woman's body).

I wonder if Mr Akin would be willing to answer one question:  what is the mechanism behind the woman "shutting that down"?  Or, to put it another way, how does it happen?

He's had a lot of time to think about it, so it's an easy question, right?

Hungering for the Games?

My alternate office (was my main office for quite a while, but I only go there occasionally, of late) where I work has TV, generally tuned to CNN.  Today, I noticed them putting a note in the chyron about The Hunger Games books outselling Harry Potter, series vs series.

For a couple of different reasons, I was quite incredulous about that.  For one, I think Harry Potter is a better series.  For another, it's been out a lot longer, and set all kinds of records as each successive volume was released.

But, upon further consideration, they probably meant that the Hunger Games series sells more books, week to week, than Harry Potter does now.  And that I can believe (it's still a bit surprising, but doesn't seem impossible).  It's a lot easier to get into a three-volume series than a seven-volume one.  And there's only one movie, so that's even easier.

I did find it a bit ironic, though, it coming up now, because I just started re-reading The Hunger Games yesterday.  I'm hoping that it stands up to closer scrutiny; I think it will, but it can be hard to tell (Harry Potter, by comparison, I've read several times, though only twice since the seventh tome was released).



My daughter had a swimming class yesterday, and as my son and I were waiting for her, we caught a few minutes on the TV of Ryan's acceptance speech of the vice presidential nomination under Romney.

I don't have a whole lot to say about the whole thing.  I think he'd be a disaster for everyone who isn't extremely rich, but, under Romney, there's nothing new there.  It certainly brings up the question of whether Romney would also be for ending Medicare in all but name.

That would certainly be a good way to prevent large, future budget deficits, once Medicare enters the red, but it'd be a disaster for anyone needing medical care.  Especially if, as promised, Romney does find a way to repeal "Obamacare".

The government's share of costs might well decrease (in fact, I can see no way in which it wouldn't), but the costs themselves would explode.  Well, maybe not if that repeal happens, but only because so many elderly would find themselves unable to get medical insurance at all.

Anyway, we'll see what happens with respect to that.  One thing I found amusing, though, was that the coverage sometimes pulled back (the cameras were mostly in tight on his face), and when it did, we could see (one of?) the teleprompter(s?) he was using.  Not that I think that's a big deal, generally, but when one attacks another for using them, one should be significantly embarrassed to then use one themselves.

Ah well.  I'm curious to see what right wing reaction to the nomination is.  My guess is "ho-hum", but it'd be interesting if it wasn't.


Is it a secret?

I'd never given much thought to the two words, secret and surprise, but my three-year-old (amusingly, she insists that she is four, and that she's already had her fourth birthday party) daughter insists on distinguishing.

It's kind of funny, because she repeats that a surprise is never told, but a secret is.  She's got it backwards, but she has figured out the essential difference between the two.  Kind of cool when that happens.


Setting up again

My employer gives developers laptops (and nice ones; not complaining about that) whenever the 3-year lease cycle finishes. Well, mine just finished, so I got a new laptop.

I couldn't get a MacBook (a retina macbook pro would've been awesome), but it's a nice Dell (and please don't misinterpret that to mean that I think all, or even most, Dells are nice).

Not being a windows guy, I planned on keeping a little bit of space for the Windows 7 that was preinstalled (every so often I want it), and putting linux on the rest of it. Simple enough, last time I needed to do so.

But, Windows 7 and whole-disk encryption are already installed. Probably can't just fire up parted and zot it down to a reasonable size. Did some searching, realized that Windows 7 has partition editing built in. Nice. Twenty steps to find it, but it was only one google search to get those steps.

Of course, then I run it. Takes a while, and I can only shrink the partition by a little less than half. Machine crashes when it finishes the shrinking. But it boots up cleanly afterwards, so no big deal there.

I try the shrinker again, and it complains that space isn't available. I haven't looked into details of NTFS in a long time, but I remember reading about it keeping boot-loading and kernel stuff both at the beginning of the disk (a la FAT) and in the middle. So I suspect that that ring of stuff in the middle was what kept it from shrinking further. Why it can't shrink that at the same time as the partition editing, I don't know.

In any event, it suggests running the defragger, so I do. Defragger now needs to go through an analysis stage before doing the defragging (it's been over a decade since the last time I needed to defrag a disk), then gets to work. I waited over six and a half hours for that defrag to finish. On a partition that has ~50/235GB filled. Ouch.

The worst part?  It hadn't finished; I just needed to head home from work.  So now I need to start it over again.  Microsoft, this is not the way to woo a potential user.

Adding insult to injury, the reboot time is painfully long.  A friend suggested that the defrag might run faster if I started in safe mode; I waited over ten minutes for that to boot up, and it hadn't made any apparent progress in over five minutes at that point when I turned it off.  That's absurdly ridiculous.  Thank goodness it's so rare for me to need windows.


Re-review of Codex Alera

I recently re-read the entire Codex Alera series, mostly to look for hints of things that I didn't see coming.  I think the timing was pretty good; I remembered very little about what happened.  That is to say, I remembered most of the broad sweep, but very, very little of specifics.

And I think I found mostly what I was looking for.  I missed most of the hints about Tavi and Kitai, the first time.  And the other big one that I was specifically looking for was Isana's treatment of Tavi, especially in the first book.

I thought the hints dropped about Tavi and Kitai were pretty cool, and well done.  I definitely felt like I should have seen it the first time.

The parts about Isana and Tavi was a bit less cool.  We have Isana's point of view a number of times in the first book, and she thinks specifically about Tavi a couple of those times.  And there should have been a broadside about their relationship (after all, she's thinking to herself about him; she doesn't need to guard her thoughts), but there wasn't.  So that was a little disappointing.

And linguistically, the book was a bit of a mess, with quite a few non-Roman names, and the weird use of House Gaius (putting a praenomen into a family name).  There was also some gender confusion, such as Placidus Aria (instead of Placida Aria).  I might well have remarked on it before, but there was a big hint about Tavi in there (Tavi not being a Roman name, of course).

But the books held up quite well on second perusal.  It wasn't quite as hard to put them down, but it still wasn't easy.

And there were some interesting things I'd missed.  The herdbane tribe humans who could jump fifteen feet (I read that as using the birds to get that high in my first reading.  Also, think of that in terms of dunking a basketball:  I've heard of a couple of people who could dunk on a twelve-foot net, but nothing higher than that.  And this was a whole tribe of people who could do it).  The archers shooting arrows six hundred yards.  I actually doubt that this is possible, even with machine assistance.  I suspect wind resistance will slow the arrow down too much, no matter how much force is behind it.  Certainly, I've never heard of shooting an arrow more than about three hundred yards.

There was also the legions who could march (on a furycrafted road) one hundred leagues in a day.  That's at least 30mph, sustained over an entire day.  I hadn't worked out how much Butcher was tying himself in knots on how fast the ships on runners were going.  And I think it was trying to square it with that marching speed that made it such a mess.

Regardless of all that, it was still a very good series.  I don't think I'll re-read it again any time soon, but it was fun doing it this time.  It did mostly hold together.