Saturday, March 24, 2018

Women in tech, and cybersecurity comments

In the April, 2017 issue of Communications of the ACM, Valerie Barr notes, "Approximately 45% of women entering tech leave within five years while only 17% of men leave. Bringing more women into tech has not succeeded in changing the climate there...".
Women, mentor your female peers to encourage them to stick around. Men, be careful with your language and subconscious actions; don't use the word "girl" in a professional setting, and respect all of your colleagues equally.

In the same issue, John Arquilla (in a blog post) and a panel of experts (Brent Waters, Dan Boneh, Len Aldeman, and Patrick McDaniel) comment on cybersecurity. I paraphrase here.
The United States recently passed an omnibus bill to fund the government until September. President Trump gushed over substantial funding to "build our military". I say, we don't need more weapons or soldiers. We need the federal government as a whole, including the Department of Defense, to be outfitted with modern computers and software in order to improve our national security. The news is not all bad, but a serious attack on American networks could disrupt government, energy production, transportation (including food distribution) and more. If you're running old versions of Windows in support of your personal email server, you're at risk.

Americans pride themselves on a tradition of individualism and personal independence, but we're apoplectic over fake news and the use of our personal data. It's just not that difficult to identify suspicious news and to verify it. If you don't want your personal data disseminated, then don't post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and your personal blog. Take responsibility.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Vanity surfing and others with my name

In the course of vanity surfing, I found another person named "Gary Gocek". He is named as a co-author on some documents that found their way to the public web. I found his email address and sent him a note. No response.

I looked on Facebook and found another "Gary Gocek". I think the FB guy is the son of the co-author guy. The FB guy seems to be inactive on FB and has not responded to my friend requests.

Based on the way American and Polish and Turkish names work, it is likely that we are the only three people who have ever existed with the name "Gary Gocek", and we live within a couple hundred miles of each other. I'm just bummed out that the other two guys don't want to respond. I don't get it, really.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Julian and Joan

On the event of my mother's death, feel free to donate to my parents' preferred charities.

Julian Gocek died March 26, 2015. He was proud of his military service. See . In his memory:

Army Emergency Relief
Attn: Donations
200 Stovall Street
Room 5S33
Alexandria, VA 22332-0600

Joan Gocek died March 2, 2017. She was proud of her whole family, including her granddaughter, an accomplished rider with the Cazenovia College equestrian team. In her memory:

Cazenovia College
Attn: Amy Sherrick-von Schiller
Box N
22 Sullivan Street
Cazenovia, NY 13035

Saturday, January 7, 2017

PEDs versus everything else

It's socially acceptable to change gender via surgeries and long-term hormone treatments.
It's socially acceptable to use marijuana to treat illnesses.
It's socially acceptable to follow the latest diet craze.
It's socially acceptable to get braces or eyeglasses or plastic surgery or tattoos or body piercings.
It's socially acceptable to alter your mood or your headache with drugs; indeed, 10% of American children take drugs for behavioral conditions such as ADHD.

And I think all the above are fine, under the proper supervision.

But God forbid a guy takes PEDs to hit more home runs. That would be cheating!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Gevalia's just not that great

A couple members of my household swear by mail-order Gevalia coffee. After a recent visit from a moving van, there are several packages of Gevalia in the kitchen cupboard.

Normally, I purchase my coffee at Parkleigh in Rochester, NY, pictured above. But, I didn't want to let that supposedly premium Gevalia go to waste, so I found myself driving to work yesterday with a travel mug of that coffee.

It's a little unfair to compare the whole-bean product I buy at Parkleigh to the pre-ground Gevalia, but for what these coffees cost, they're susceptible to reviews. Plus, I use a cheap drip coffeemaker, frowned upon by most aficionados, but I make too much coffee each day to mess with a French press or whatever.

The word often used for Gevalia is "smooth", and that's appropriate, but so smooth that it's bland. It has a rather sweet taste, even though I drink it black. There's just not much to Gevalia coffee, and I don't recommend it. Shop local.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

I think I have more fun finding and downloading crazy podcasts than listening to them.

The latest is WFMU Bitslap.

I also learned all about Pizzagate from the ReplyAll podcast.

Hillary is trying to shut me down.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Not Staying Fired Up over Standing Rock

I'm having a hard time staying fired up over the Standing Rock protests. The protests are located on, and always have been located on private property, and the property owner does not want the protesters there. They're either trespassing or not, and it's a modern legal matter, no matter who might have been buried there a dozen generations ago.

Part of the protest is about water quality and other environmental quality. Of course, no water has been poisoned by the unfinished Dakota Access pipeline, so reports of frightened children are premature. It's true similar pipelines leak occasionally (generally amounts that are apparently not newsworthy). If you're not willing to shut down every pipeline, everywhere, then the localized action at Standing Rock is practically meaningless. I'm pretty sure very few Americans want to shut down all pipelines and accept higher fuel prices and limited supply.

Part of the protest is about the sacredness of the land surrounding the pipeline's path. Every article I have read about this seems to accept the sacredness without question or investigation. I was able to track down some of the legal submissions that do indeed discuss this. There is evidence that the affected lands have been used, and continue to be used, for religious purposes in ways that are specific to the lands. In other words, the pipeline could theoretically disturb specific ceremonial locations, and the ceremonies might not translate well to, say, a room at the local public library.

However, it appears only a handful of people (trained tribal elders, and possibly no one else) know the locations and ceremonies. Tribal experts have identified many sites in legal filings. The Meskwaki people most closely involved with protests number 4000-5000, and the Sioux people more generally number over 170,000. If a particular location was regularly the site of a ceremony involving thousands of people, we would probably have heard about it. I get the impression most Native Americans do not know the details of the sacredness and do not regularly, if ever, participate in ceremonies along the Dakota Access path. Since the tribes are against the pipeline, they are not unbiased in their identification of sites.

That's not to say the sacredness claims don't matter. I'm trying to convince myself they do matter. I wouldn't want a pipeline running through my father's gravesite or through, say, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (a sacred Christian site). On the other hand, there are few references to specific disturbances. I am not aware that any bones have actually been unearthed, or that any of the sites are now unusable. One of the legal documents describes the dredging of waterways that resulted in the end of the formation of a certain type of smoothed stone used in ceremonies, but that dredging occurred decades ago.

Articles describe the destruction of a sacred area in 2016 by construction vehicles even when the site was identified in advance as part of the construction approval process. However, it remains unclear what these sites looked like, how they were identified in advance by tribal historians, and how the construction workers were supposed to know about them while working. The only photos I can find are of mournful protesters supposedly hovering over sacred sites, rather than of the sites themselves. There are simply no photos or videos of a bulldozer driving through an ancient stone prayer ring. I'm not saying the DAPL hasn't disturbed any areas that had been identified, but the documentation hasn't been uploaded. The protesters blame the construction for taking place intentionally in areas identified as historic sites, and that can't be discounted, but to what end? To finish the pipeline sooner at the risk of fines? I am not accusing anyone of lying, but the tribes do, and it would seem that the tribes have more motive to lie than the construction company.

I find it ironic progressives are frustrated with a fundamentalist rural America that voted for Trump, but the DAPL protesters cite indigenous pagan historians as evidence, which is about as fundamentalist as it gets. Even if you argue Native Americans are "American" in a different way than white Christians, the native Americans are still fundamentalist. Native Americans will never be convinced to accept the bulldozing of a stone payer circle no matter what logic is used and no matter what public benefit there may be. And maybe the Native Americans are right. Or maybe not. Only their tribal historian claims to know.