NMT to disinvite Harrison Schmitt?

I posted the following to an alumni group’s Facebook page in response to a post that cited this article and invited alumni to ask the school’s president to disinvite Schmitt.

I have difficulty believing there is a serious movement to disinvite Dr. Harrison Schmidt as commencement speaker. He’s an astronaut who’s explored — as a trained geologist — another planet, on foot. If he’s wrong about climate science, well, he won’t be the first person to demonstrate the Dunning Kruger effect. I’m think in particular of a physics professor who was determined to bring back punched card media for his simulation software.

But more than that, I am appalled that the professors at Tech are failing to teach their students that Science is not a collection of orthodoxies that must not be questioned. When I went to Tech, I heard from my petroleum engineering friends that one of the geology faculty refused to subscribe to the theory of plate tectonics. I don’t know if that was true, but it was believable because people were allowed to hold unpopular opinions. When I was at Tech, we read “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and learned the big problem in science is overcoming the informal orthodoxies that creep in despite our best intentions. We watched Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” and shook our heads at the medieval clergy who treated Galileo as a heretic and refused to look through his telescope.

But worst, I think, is the boorish gauchery of disinviting a speaker from an event after the invitation had been made and accepted. What kind of people would even consider it? A few years ago, I thought President Trump was 50% vulgarian, 50% clown, and 100% reality show personality. Today, I’m afraid he embodies the spirit of our age. The idea that Techies would outdo him in classlessness… it’s #Sad.

Things I Did After Installing 17.04

Here in one place is my list of things to do after installing a new operating system.

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt upgrade
$ sudo apt install ssh

Then try to ssh into the computer. If needed, apply the fix to Zeroconf / Avahi / NSSwitch.conf.


$ sudo apt install git
$ sudo apt install colordiff
$ sudo apt install libreadline-dev
$ sudo apt install vim vim-gtk3
$ sudo sudo apt-get --purge --reinstall install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Then I got things ready for ruby. I prefer rbenv:

$ sudo apt install libssl-dev zlib1g-dev # needed for ruby
$ sudo apt install sqlite3 sqlite3-pcre
$ cd ; git clone git://github.com/sstephenson/rbenv.git .rbenv
$ git clone git://github.com/sstephenson/ruby-build.git ~/.rbenv/plugins/ruby-build
$ rbenv install -l
$ rbenv install 2.4.1 # (as of April 28, 2017)
$ hash -r # rehash your environment

P.S. if later on you want a later version of ruby, the way you update the list of installable ruby’s is:

$ cd ~/.rbenv/plugins/ruby-build ; git pull

Then use gdebi to install Google Chrome.

$ sudo apt install gdebi
$ apt install chromium-browser chromium-codecs-ffmpeg chromium-codecs-ffmpeg-extra
$ apt install telegram-desktop

I’d love to be able to pre-populate Dropbox from a local backup when I setup a new computer. But I’m not smart enough, I guess.

$ sudo apt install antiword wv jhead
$ sudo apt install imagemagick poppler-utils

Odds ‘n’ Ends

MIT Tech Review: Your brain limits you to just five BFF’s. Dunbar’s number isn’t just one number.

There’s a Zinc flash at the moment of conception.

Phys.org: New State of Water Molecule Discovered. Quantum tunneling!!!

NPR: 40 Years On, the Genius of 2112.

ExJon: Shun the Crowd, Embrace the Remnant

Acton: Bruce Wayne, Capitalist Superhero:

What we have in Bruce Wayne, CEO, then, is an embodiment of noblesse oblige, the idea that nobility (an elevated position in society) comes with certain responsibilities. The concept has been tainted in the minds of some by its association with hereditary aristocracy and paternalism, but the essential idea is praiseworthy.


You and [his son, who’s a doctor] are very big into truth, truth, truth, yes, yes, yes. But denial – respect denial. It’s very important in the human architecture. It’s what we do when we can’t face what the world throws at us. It’s what helps us get up in the morning, until enough mornings pass that we begin to walk upright in the world.
  —Ron Suskind, quoting his friend Max Pluskey

From a talk at Calvin College talking about the story behind his book, Life, Animated.

(Cross-posted from my other blog.)

Dave Winer says we should do more short-form blogging. Why should we give it all to Twitter?

DNS and DHCP blues

I’m trying to get my network running. For some reason, DNS queries are taking forever. I checked the settings in my router (an Asus WL-520GU) and I’m using the Google public DNS settings there, but they aren’t getting through to the clients. I can only guess that DHCP isn’t reporting them properly, or some other acronym has broken down. So I had to set all the clients (multiple logins on six computers and four handheld devices) to use the Google DNS values. The horror.