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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bullying - The New Definition

So I go over to to see what bullying involves:
  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.

  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Now let's just eliminate "Kids" from the first bullet point because there is certainly no limitation as to age where bullying is concerned.

Now let's take a look at this article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.  It says in part:

"The region's biggest health care system announced Wednesday that its new no-smoking policy would take effect July 1, 2014. UPMC will continue to hire smokers but it will not allow them to smoke during their shifts or their breaks."

It goes on:

"... The policy also forbids snuff, smokeless tobacco -- and even electric cigarettes, which deliver nicotine via water vapor and are used by many as a smoking cessation tool."

Hmm, bans electronic "cigarettes" as well - specifically for those wanting to quit smoking.

(Note: Electronic cigarettes do not use, for the most part, water vapor.  In fact, they use things like Propylene Glycol (PG) - just like the inhaler technology UPMC and its doctors has its patients use for things like breathing problems.  So this is really interesting.  I can breath PG if UPMC tells me its okay but not if I decide to, for example, quit smoking by using it because my doctor tells me too.

Electronic cigarettes are far more closely tied to the UPMC breathing treatments than cigarettes.

Doctors do, in fact, tell people to use electronic cigarettes instead of smoking.

But since they make you look like a smoker you're going to get a whack on the head from the bully...)

Isn't that in fact promoting smoking, i.e., banning a means to quit.

This ban includes "time that is paid, and unpaid breaks, including lunch that is taken on or off campus. ..."

So, lets see here.  I can no longer do what I want on my break off the job.  Even on an "unpaid break" from work - hmm - unpaid break?  I imagine only slaves to have those - but who knows...

Clearly, by the description, this is BULLYING. (Note: The Propylene Glycol part is particularly sad because its just like the bully telling you its okay to carry his books for him but not your own, i.e., he knocks them out of your hands.  I can prescribe PG for you to breath but God-forbid you inhale it on your own or even if your doctor tells you to in order to stop smoking...,)


Well, suppose I engage in risky sexual behavior.

Obviously I can become infected and transmit a disease to a patient.

But the policy does not affect all risky behavior on the part of employees - only smokers and smoking. I guess no one minds if the Hep C or AIDS guy cuts himself during a surgery or while patching up your wound.

But having Hep C or AIDS is socially cool so there's apparently no need to deal with that.

So they are singling out smokers to control them.

After all, smoking is not socially cool.

Sounds to me like it fits the definition of bullying to me.

(Remember the 12 and 14 year old girls who were arrested for bullying?  All they did is make Facebook posts about the victim.  Not like, for example, threatening their livelihood as does UPMC.)

Especially after the last sentence in the article: "Violations will be reported to a UPMC supervisor, [who] will then attempt to resolve the problem, and progressive corrective action will be used."

Corrective action - wonder what that means?

So if some UPMC employee off's themself due to the stress of not smoking during the day its not UPMC's fault, right?  No one will arrest them or their parents (as in the case of the 12 and 14 year old girls).

Why not?

Because smoking is not socially cool...

So let's take a look at what "social bullying" is about according to the government (again from the "stop bullying" site): 

Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
  • Leaving someone out on purpose
  • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
  • Spreading rumors about someone
  • Embarrassing someone in public
Hmm...  "Leaving someone out on purpose." - Like someone who "smokes?"

An electronic cigarette need not even contain nicotine but should your coworker see you using one no doubt you will be subjected to "corrective action" as described above.

Certainly, if I were a smoker, this would be embarrassing to me - to be singled out for a specific behavior.

I suppose this means that if you are addicted to, say, Oxy Contin, its okay - we'll hire you - but not if you smoke.

This is social bullying to an extreme.

Certainly there are many things someone might do that are "dangerous" and affect their jobs - like take drugs, or be mentally ill, or have a bad attitude, or whatever.

But only the "smokers" are to be singled out.

No one will follow you around to see if you are shooting up on your break.

None of this should be surprising when you consider that UPMC makes quite a bit of money treating - you guessed it - smokers!

Prescribing Medicaid and Medicare treatments to patients and billing the government.

Imagine the effect on these big companies and industries if people suddenly stopped smoking.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ars Technia and Ruiu's Questionable Results

I am fascinated by this article at ArsTechnica.

It describes a computer security researcher named Drago Ruiu studying what he calls "BadBIOS."  BadBIOS is supposedly some kind of virus that lives in a computer's BIOS (the BIOS is a low level memory where basic instructions on startup, accessing the disk, display, etc. are stored).

BadBIOS supposedly allows computers with no internet or wired or wireless connection to become infected by, supposedly again, mysterious means, e.g., audio data transfer, and so on.

A subsequent Ars article here describes how others are unable to duplicate Ruiu's results.

What interesting is not this information per se but rather how this reflects on today's notion of "science" and credibility.

Unlike, for example, "climate science" a laptop is a closed system.  A device without access to the internet that is supposedly exhibiting problems with self infection of computer viruses.

No one so far can "duplicate" Ruiu's results.

But Ars can still write articles about these results even though there are basically nonsense.

If we (or they) can't reliably decode what a laptop is doing how can we decode, for example, the climate?

The laptop is a closed environment that sits on your lap.  The climate represents a planet-wide phenomena.

What the fascination is here is that no one at Ars questions the ineptitude of Ruiu.  Computers are based on boolean logic and deterministic electronics.  Yet Ruiu is unable to demonstrate actual results.

This is a common phenomena when debugging large, complex software systems.  Its easy to fool yourself (as I wrote about here in "Through the Keyhole") about what's going wrong.  Perhaps Ruiu (and the editors at Ars) should read my posts regarding this phenomena before publishing articles.

Yet Ars still writes about this nonsense - and climate science as well.  If we can't understand a laptop how can we understand climate?

I wrote here about how 1 in 20 scientific studies are basically bogus - I think that the modern notion of science is flawed and guys like Ruiu are really just lost.

Yet Ars represents a world where we can talk about intermediate results of scientific efforts as if they are news.