Jackson's Articles, Page 2 of 2

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07 Jan 10

US State Happiness Studied

A recent study has been conducted by UK’s University of Warwick and Hamilton College in the US to determine how subjective, self reported happiness levels across US states correlate with objective factors such as congestion and air quality across the US’s 50 states.

The study also ranked the states by the correlated subjective/objective happiness levels. Several states in the top ten, namely Louisiana (#1), Mississippi and Alabama have caused many a raised eye-brow. And New Yorkers are none too pleased with their dead last ranking. Several commentators have noted a possible relation between level of education and lack of happiness. Which, of course, is sort of refuted by another study that says education increases happiness.

21 Dec 09

Justifiable Murder

Right now in Kansas, a Judge is considering whether a justifiable homicide defense will be permitted in the trial of Scott Roeder, who murdered Dr. George Tiller on May 31st.

Personally, I feel this defense is crap, but assuming it is allowed, what would you think of this defense? I am not, repeat not asking whether you support the use of abortion, but whether you feel there is any legal sense in saying murdering an abortion clinic doctor is justified to save the lives of unborn children.

09 Dec 09

NASA's Shuttle Mission Simulator

Say What, Now?

If you have ever wondered what kind of training astronauts get before they actually participate in missions, well, I can’t really help you with that. But I did get to fly the fancy simluator that prospective shuttle pilots use to practice.

Let’s just say, I know a guy.

The Shuttle Mission Simulator

09 Dec 09

Sarbanes-Oxley in Court

Fox News is reporting that the Supreme Court is hearing a case that is challenging the constitutionality of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

The results of this case could be very widespread as the prime complaint against the law (brought by the Free Enterprise Fund) is that:

At issue is whether the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or PCAOB, which supervises compliance with the law, violates the Constitution’s separation of powers. Under the Appointments Clause, all “officers” of the United States must be appointed by the President and accountable to him—a condition PCAOB members do not meet. (The rest of the article can be found here)

04 Dec 09

Doling out Nerd-Its

How do you decide what you nerd up or nerd down?

03 Dec 09

Programming Quotes

At work, we have a guy who I am pretty sure just goes out looking for email forwards to send out to everyone in the department. Usually these are complete and utter crap. But today, he struck a gold mine. And, therefore, I will share that wealth with you.

Here are the quotes.

Here are some samples to whet your appetite:

  • Roy Carls: The sooner you start to code, the longer the program will take.
  • Edward Tufte: There are only two industries that refer to their customers as users.
01 Dec 09

Coding Practices


A little over a year ago, I moved from a free-wheeling web development job to a more technically demanding job at Johnson Space Center. I was very optimistic about the experience and the cool technologies I would get to see.

Most of all, I was ready for a chance to work for an organization that enforced uniform coding standards. For those of you that do not program, coding standards are important. It can be the difference between spending an hour or two debugging a problem and spending a week understanding what is going on before you even can start debugging a problem.

23 Nov 09

OmniNerd Name Etiquette

What is the proper etiquette for addressing other nerds in a comment?

I have noticed that many people have been “first-naming” each other and I didn’t know if this was the new standard. I always figured that people chose their handles for a reason. So scottb remains scottb, VnutZ is never Matt and gnifyus is never Peter (curse you, Brandon, for ruining my reasoning).

Just wondering what everyone thought.

11 Nov 09


The apocalypse is not scheduled for December 21, 2012, according to NASA. Scientists at the US space agency are taking an unusual swipe at doomsday crackpottery this week in an online campaign designed to address fears fueled by the end of a cycle in the ancient Mayan calendar, a Hollywood movie, and a fresh wave of pseudo-science crackpots. Not to mention Sony’s viral marketing campaign.

“Nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012,” NASA states in a new FAQ web page set up for the occasion. “Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists know of no threat associated with 2012.”

11 Nov 09

Military Casualties and "Giving One's Life"

I was driving into work today and I heard a recording of the President’s speech at the service for the victims of the horrible violence at Fort Hood. One sentence caught my attention more than any other.

The President said that the victims had bravely chosen to give their lives that day. Now, I am not military and I hope I don’t offend, but how can we say these servicemen gave their lives that day? The way I see it, a crazy man forcibly took them. Maybe it is just anal semantics, but I don’t think any less of the victims by phrasing the sentence to condemn the act. These were people doing the jobs they had signed on to do, and a nut-job destroyed normalcy and caused death. Is it just because the victims were military? Do we say that the Columbine victims or 9/11 victims gave their lives? Is it somehow demeaning to treat military deaths as victims? Serious question, military guys.

12 Oct 09

Working for a Living

Rant r = new Rant();

The Background

I was raised in a socially conservative religious group, where it is the unspoken (and sometimes spoken) norm that women stay at home with the kids while men go forth and provide. As a product of a family where this did not happen, I have never really felt too strongly about the validity of that message. My parents both worked and we turned out alright.

Five years ago, my wife and I decided that she would attend Medical school. We agreed that it would be best that she be as educated as possible so she would have to freedom to choose the hours she would work to create a child friendly schedule for our family. We realized that her schedule would be crazy during school, but it would eventually be worth it. I had my Bachelors and, as a guy, it didn’t really matter what hours I had to work. I mean, that is what guys do, right?

29 Jun 06

Birth Order Link to Homosexuality?

Researchers at Brock University believe they have found a link between homosexual tendencies (in men) and the number of biological elder brothers one has. While the study found no correlation in the effects of having either adopted older brothers or step-brothers from a different mother, the older biological brother were linked with 28% of the sample in the study.

The researchers postulate that the women may experience an antibody response to the first male child during birth, so when the next boys in line are in the womb, the antibodies may be attacking the fetus.

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