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missionbayMeet Shasta. Shasta is a cat. Shasta is ancient by cat standards, at almost 15. She is a typical cat: cuddly and affectionate when it suits her (which includes 3a with surprising frequency), uninterested and aloof when it feels like one of those days. She plays fetch, she hisses at other cats but loves all humans, and she has long lost interest in all play that doesn't end in her being fed a treat.

In short, she's adorable. She's also very, very docile: even on the roughest of days, she doesn't scratch. She'll occasionally bite as a warning when she's done playing, but never to hurt. She hasn't met a stranger she didn't like better than me, probably because I insist on harnessing her when she's in public.

Yet, there are people that hate her. Hate all cats. I am not talking about those that are allergic to cats, I would understand that. I am talking about people that hate the psychology, such as it were, of cats. Cats, you hear, are perfidious, odious, traitorous. Sometimes it feels like half the negative character words in the English language are kept around just so that cats can be insulted.

Yet, cats rule. The Internet has declared them the winner in the universal cuteness contest, way ahead of dogs. Which is really odd, since there are actually more dog and puppy videos available on the Internet than cats and kittens. As a sort of response, cat haters have gone to great depths to expose the horrifying conspiracy of cat love. Even scientists, documentary film makers, and journalists have been enlisted to expose the tragic horrors of cat worship.

What follows is a series of negative cat myths and my comments about them. Enjoy! (I should mention that I absolutely love dogs. In fact, I've been looking at getting a Goberian for the past year. Who can resist a Husky/Retriever mix?)

Read more: Cats and Dogs - Why Do So Many Americans Hate Cats?

What do you know, it's been quiet on here for a while. What happened was a merely technical problem: I knew that the software I use to write this blog, Joomla, was shifting from the version I used (2.5) to a completely new 3.x. That meant that a lot of the things I rely on to provide additional functionality wouldn't work anymore. Plus, the old software would eventually not be updated any longer, making this site a potential security risk.

That ended up happening. A few days after the last update, I received a message from my hosting provider (Linode, great guys) telling me that this blog was used as an open spam relay and that they would have to shut it down if I didn't do something about it, soon.

In a moment of wisdom I had moved the site to version control, so it was a breeze to clean it up. What had happened was that the server itself had not been compromised. Instead, security holes in one of the Joomla extensions I used had allowed hackers to push a hidden site update that was used to spam third parties.

I didn't have the time or inclination to find out what extension it had been, whether it was a known security hole I hadn't patched fast enough, or whether it was simply my own configuration mistake. I narrowed it down to JDownload and Kunena Forums and just removed both components from the site. Nothing happened after that.

But... I just didn't feel like pushing something new until I had the site transferred. Since I had been waiting so long for the move, it was probably going to be painful, too. I didn't want to do it, so I neglected pushing out new content (there are numerous articles that aren't finished yet, though).

Read more: Site Update!

As you may know, among the many languages I speak there is Esperanto. When the average American hears the name, the reaction is probably either Huh? for those that never heard about it, or the general notion of a failed project for those who have.

Also, in general, you'll find that those that have an active opinion will say that nobody needs a made-up language as a form of communication any longer, since everybody speaks English. Those that do not speak English should just learn it!

So, let me back up and talk for a moment about the two reasons auxiliary languages (like Esperanto) were created. One is that they are nobody's language - they don't belong to a particular nation or group. As a result, they remove the inherent superiority of the group that owns the language (i.e. is native in it).

The far more important reason, though, is that auxiliary languages are generally easier to learn. They certainly were designed to be easier, and they generally use regularity and predictability to ensure that you'll know what they mean.

Each auxiliary language has a slightly or largely different approach to ease of learning and understanding. Some focus on being understandable to a complete novice, others on being easy to parse for people that have had an introduction. Some focus on being easy to learn for a speaker of a particular language or groups of languages; others focus on being fair to everybody.

Read more: What Auxiliary Language Should You Learn and Why

DislikeYou probably noticed if you follow me on Facebook: I've barely been on there in the past two years. I'll log on, once in a while, mostly because I remember it's someone's birthday and I wish them well on the channel I know they use. But for myself, I am over it. Why?

There was a time when Facebook was cool. That was, of course, before I was on it. It's when you had to have a .edu address to be on it, it was when college students from Ivy Leagues got an account and nobody else.

I was in the first wave of externals, before the thing exploded into becoming the social hub of the known universe. When people were trying to figure it out and were excited about the ability to share with those they loved or at least cared about.

Then something happened: Facebook wanted to grow, and it wanted money. The relentless pursuit of both is what killed it for me, as Facebook's wish to grow and make money started getting at odds with my interests, desires, and passions.

First came the desire to grow. Trying to avoid the fate of sleep towns like Orkut and later Google+, Facebook made it way too easy to overshare. Some of it was just poor design, like the option to send messages (and especially game invitations) to All Friends. Some of it was downright shady, like updating the privacy policy and then changing the default sharing options to an ever-wider audience.

Read more: Why I Gave Up On Facebook

It was the day of the Lord 12 February 1989, such as they count in the Old World. I was in the Old World that day, which I know precisely, because I found a trace of it in my keepsake box. Two days before Valentine's Day of that year which brought about the Fall of the Iron Curtain, I was sitting in a giant lecture hall at the Rheinish Westfaelische Technische Hochschule Aachen (short, RWTH) for the midterms in Theoretical Quantum Mechanics. In German, that's called a Klausur, which is the local spelling of a Latin word that means, "sequestration."

It was the most important midterm of my career: I knew I had no business in Experimental Physics, and getting into Theoretical Physics was competitive. The first course in Theoretical Physics, Mechanics, hadn't shown a whole lot of separating powers. But the second one would coincide with the Bachelor's Degree, which meant professors were looking at the outcome to pick the students they would mentor.

It happened to be the year that Professor K. taught the class. K. was the dean of the College of Physics and an incredibly respected name. His father had been a famous exponent of the Copenhagen School of Theoretical Physics and the son - not as distinguished, but still a powerful force - had been groomed since birth to become the leader of the Physics movement. I am not kidding: his name was Hans-Albert, which dad had borrowed from his colleague, who had named his own son Hans-Albert... Einstein!

Impressing Hans-Albert (I feel free to call him that, two and a half decades later) was thought to be of fundamental importance. It also was my only chance of getting into the Theoretical Physics circus made famous by Sheldon Cooper on Big Bang Theory. You see, when I watch that show, I recall my own college years: Sheldon is the Theoretical Physicist that gets to look down on Experimental Physicists and to pee on the shoes of the Engineers. That was us, in the day.

Read more: The Highlight of My Academic Career

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I've had an unusual life, to say the least. My family and background are constant sources of amusement and stories, and I tend to be myself a little on the eccentric side...


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