How to handle the “Santa issue”

In response to Connor Boyack’s post on whether or not parents should tell their children that Santa is real:

I would offer the following, real-life example.  My brother have five children, ages 11 and under.  From the time he and his wife had the first child, they decided that they would tell their children the truth, including the truth regarding Santa Claus.  Every Christmas, they calmly explain that “Santa” is a game that people play.  He does not exist and is not real.  On Christmas morning, when the children open their gifts, they ask their children, “Who are your presents from?” and they make sure that the children answer “From Mommy and Daddy.”  Despite all this, the children insist that their parents are wrong.  They insist that Santa is real.  They continue to believe, even without the support of their parents.

I think this is the best way to handle the issue.  There are several arguments for and against pretending that Santa is real.  I would ask, of all those who advocate pretending with their children, do you have any examples of people who tell their children the truth?  Does anyone have any evidence to suggest that telling your children the simple truth from the beginning is bad or damages the children?

What do you think?


One of the biggest problems with Open Source Software Development

Incidentally, few Cathedral-style projects suffer from lack of vision: those that do simply die off and are never heard from again. Bazaar-style development allows projects to be in a zombie state for long periods of time, where it is vastly expensive for a Cathedral-style project to do the same.

Source: “Inside the mind of the enemy…”

UCLA Police Use Stun Gun on Student

I just saw this video from a link on slashdot. I cannot believe this happened in America. A UCLA student was tased by UCLA police five times when he failed to present his student ID at the library and then failed to leave soon enough. I cringed, thinking, “could this happen to me? Or to my children?”

Tell your friends about this. Blog about it, whatever. Get the word out. Thank you.

A police officer saw the film and had a lot to say about it. Here are beginning of his comments:

As a police officer, I have two things to say about this:

1) This kid sounds like an a** and I’m certain that there will be more than enough “He got what he deserved posts.” I might even agree in the moral sense, but not in the ethical or legal sense, because….

2) This cop should never work in law enforcement again. This is inappropriate use of force by any professional standard. One post is not nearly enough to recount the things he did incorrectly, but I’ll hit the high points;

General rules for any controlled encounter (one where you aren’t in danger from the get go) include finding out what the issue is, telling the subject what he/she needs to do, and explaining what will happen if they do not. There is almost never a need to place your hands on anyone for any reason until you are ready to take them into custody unless you are suddenly attacked. This “officer” is grossly incompetent. Understand we deal with aggressive people that posture by yelling and swearing at us all the time – this should not disrupt the officer on bit. Keep. Your. Cool. So, screaming/swearing or not, this encounter should have been over with three sentences from the officer.

A) “Sir, per university rules and regs, I need you to show me your valid student ID or leave the library.”
B) “I need to to show me your valid student ID or leave the library right now, or I’ll have to take you into custody for trespassing and disturbing the peace.”
C) “Sir, I am placing you under arrest.” Then Mirandize him and be done with it. If he does anything but exactly what you tell him (“Sir, place your hands behind your back.”) then….

Now and only now, if he/she resists (NOT if he simply fails to cooperate i.e. passive resistence), you may use force sufficient to subdue him to the point of having him cease to be a danger to the officer or bystanders. That’s pretty simple stuff, folks. Basically, never be the first to use force, but when you do – do it quickly and overwhelmingly then STOP when he’s restrained. You are a trained professional who owns the situation and NOT a street brawler.


Honors Societies

I have been approached by the following honors societies:

  • TBP (Tau Beta Pi)
  • HKN (Eta Kappa Nu)
  • PKP (Phi Kappa Phi)
  • Golden Key

What is an honors society? Are they good? Why? What do they do? Are they bad? Why? What do they do?

I’m hesitant to join TBP because they have a secret induction ceremony, and I disagree with secret societies based on principle.


Concise explaination of four Ubuntu repositories

I found this and thought it was worth repeating:

In … Ubuntu, the developers use the Debian code, but have divided software into four different components.

“Main” primarily consists of supported open-source software, but also includes proprietary firmware and fonts. This is roughly equivalent to Debian’s code. The proprietary programs, however, must be governed by a license that makes them free to distribute.

Ubuntu also supports some proprietary software that is not part of the kernel in a component called “Restricted.” This is software, like the NVIDA and ATI graphics card drivers, that can not be freely distributed. The Ubuntu developers have also made special arrangements in a subset of Restricted known as “Commercial.” These are proprietary programs, such as the Opera web browser and the RealPlayer media player, which Ubuntu has received permission to distribute to Ubuntu users.

Finally, Ubuntu includes the “Universe” and “Multiverse” categories. These contain non-supported open-source software, and non-supported proprietary programs, respectively.

Source: “FSF debuts fully-free Ubuntu/Debian variant“, emphasis added.

Former Dean and Professor Receives Distinguished Alumni Service Award

I had a religion class from Dr. Smoot.  He’s a wonderful, wonderful man.

Dr. L. Douglas Smoot

October 2006

Dr. L. Douglas Smoot, former dean and professor of chemical engineering, will receive a Distinguished Service Award during Homecoming week. This award honors alumni who have made a significant impact on the lives of others through outstanding service in a profession, community, church, or nation.

Professor Smoot has been recognized as a national leader in the coal-combustion and gasification field, where he has received two national honors for his research. He is also known as the “man who saved Academy Square.” His leadership in restoring the Education Building of the old Brigham Young Academy—now the Provo City Library at Academy Square—provided vision and helped bring about vital fund-raising. Smoot is a grandson of Abraham O. Smoot, one of BYU’s founding fathers.

Professor Smoot earned a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington in 1960. He then spent three years as an assistant professor at BYU, followed by four years at the Lockheed Propulsion Company and the California Institute of Technology. He rejoined BYU permanently in 1967, eventually serving as Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology for 17 years.

More information is available at and