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Comment: Re:Dual use (Score 4, Funny) 66

by AthanasiusKircher (#49749637) Attached to: Musical Organ Created From 49 Floppy Disk Drives

You can also use it to Bach up your files.

I tried that. But, to be Franck, I couldn't Handel how the sound Varese in this thing, so I ended up Haydn this Creation away; now it's just Leonin the server Cage. If I Figaro out what will work better, I'll make a Chopin Liszt, and go buy something that's Godunov.

Okay, very punny. We done now?

Comment: Re:Warning: RAID 0 (Score 1) 212

I'm going to go ahead and say that it mitigates the serious of the damage caused in actuality since most IT people entrusted with serious and important data aren't going to be that stupid.

And that's where your assumptions are different from mine. I was discussing people who are probably NOT "entrusted with serious and important data," but nevertheless have their own personal data (which they think is at least somewhat valuable) and choose to run a RAID 0 setup because of some stupid reason, like it makes their system run a bit faster.

(Well, that's not a completely stupid reason, but it is a reason to have a good backup strategy for essential files and to segregate your data so only the minimum files are at risk on RAID 0. Many people don't worry about these things until it's too late.)

If you doubt such people exist, do an internet search or read some gamer forums. And given such people are more likely to be running a bleeding-edge new version of software than a IT pro with a server who does thorough stability testing before upgrades, I'd imagine that a bug like this will disproportionately affect those hobbyists.

I'm not talking about IT pros here. I'm talking about random idiots who run RAID without thinking of the consequences. For them, this bug could be really serious.

Comment: Re:Gerrymandering (Score 1) 598

by AthanasiusKircher (#49744229) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

'Compactness' is not a remotely optimal means of determining whether a district is gerrymandered or not. Republicans want 'compactness' to be the standard because Democrats are more likely to be clustered in dense cities, where 'compact' lines will cause 'packing' automatically.

Do you have any clue what you're talking about? "Compactness" just means that a perimeter measure is smaller -- it doesn't mean the AREA is necessarily smaller. Population density can various a lot, so areas can vary too. One could draw a nice "compact" set of districts that split a city right down the center, for example.

Of course compactness is not an optimal measure of gerrymandering, but have you looked at many of the districts highlighted in the article I linked to? Do those shapes seem remotely reasonable to you?

Maintaining communities of interest has an actual benefit, allowing people with a shared community to select their representation.

Yes, that's true. But we're looking here at particularly egregious boundaries which tend to skew the metrics much more. Also, who gets to determine these "communities"? That's the problem.

They're not mutually exclusive; states with a non-partisan redistricting process usually do better at finding a happy medium, with relatively geometric-shaped districts that preserve communities.

Yep -- and basically the study I linked to seems to show that Democratically controlled states tend to do WORSE than non-partisan redistricting states, according to all measures of compactness. So, either Democrats just happen to be dominant in places where communities are unusually oddly-shaped, or there's a political bias at work.

Regardless, as I said, I'm not complaining about either party here more than the other -- both have PROVEN histories of using gerrymandering for political gain. Are you disputing that?

Comment: Re:Warning: RAID 0 (Score 1) 212

Would you say the same thing if the bug affected RAID 1 or RAID 5?

I suspect not, since his point seemed to be that you shouldn't be using RAID 0 for data that you care about anyway.

Exactly. About the only reason I would ever use RAID 0 is for some sort of temp data drive where for some reason I wanted to string multiple drives together. You've basically taken a bunch of drives that each would be vulnerable without redundancy and have produced one big drive that will fail whenever any component does, thereby greatly increasing failure rate over individual drive failure rate. There are only a limited set of use cases where this is a helpful thing, and basically all of them are situations where you can assume that 100% data loss won't hurt you.

t doesn't really make it ok for a bug to exist that destroys RAID 0 volumes, but it does mitigate the seriousness of the damage caused.

Well, it mitigates the seriousness of the damage a bug should cause, assuming that people use RAID reasonably. But that's obviously a poor assumption, since many people seem to love playing Russian roulette with essential data.

I was lucky enough to have a significant (but not catastrophic) data loss hit me when I was young and didn't have a lot of essential data to lose. It taught me the importance of redundancy and backups. Most people who haven't experienced such things are more cavalier with data -- and a RAID 0 bug could be catastrophic for them.

Comment: Re:This is total nonsense (Score 1) 386

It has been well established for many years now that both learning and using "cursive" writing (I know it as "joined" writing) is important for the development of young brains.

Meh. Many of the cited studies in your link are relevant to general task types -- it's not the cursive writing per se that has the benefit.

There is something to be said for having kids do tasks that require fine-grained coordination, awards for precision, significant effort, lots of repetition to achieve perfection, etc. Among other kinds of tasks, of course.

Your argument is like the people complaining about why kids don't use logarithm tables anymore or that there should be more geometric proofs in high school or whatever. Lots of things teach important skills in school curricula, but often those skills can be taught in other ways (e.g., logarithm use encourages keeping track of magnitudes in calculations, but instruction in estimation, significant figures, and scientific notation can achieve similar goals AND... proofs are an exercise in formal logic that could be achieved by giving exercises in actual formal logic syllogisms, math proofs in other fields than geometry, doing programming exercises that require logical flow, etc.).

Cursive is fun and all. I spent many years perfecting mine, and I've actually spent some time learning older variants (Spencerian, Copperplate, etc.) because it's fun and elegant. But when I take my notes quickly and roughly, I usually print... it's faster and easier to read than the scribble I can create quickly in cursive.

But whatever. That's my experience. The point is that the benefits of cursive are minor, it takes a lot of instructional time, and it has become a less valued skill these days. So the question shouldn't be "Why should we retain cursive?" but "Is there something we could teach with that time which would still have similar cognitive and coordination benefits?" etc.

Comment: Re:So, when has this not been true? (Score 1) 598

by AthanasiusKircher (#49726605) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

The joker in the deck was that presently the younger generation is less vanilla than the older generation

[Citation needed]

People have been saying the exact same thing about "those damn kids these days" for thousands of years. You really think the "hippie" generation of the late 60s and 70s was more "vanilla"? From a political standpoint, that generation was probably far more likely to openly defy the government, go to protests, get arrested, etc. than today's youth. They were significant political "activists" who hated the system and were actively demonstrating that they wanted to do something about it. Today, we have things like "Occupy," which means people camp out in tents in a park -- I'm not insulting or denigrating those actions, but how many of them would be willing to take the kinds of actions people were doing in the 60s/70s?

Anyhow, those hippies are now the "older generation," and while I know plenty of aging hippies who are still crazy liberal, I've seen many of them turn into crazy Republicans too.

and the older generation isn't being very welcoming to people who aren't like them and never will be.

Again, you'd need some sort of stats to prove this. What tends to happen in the real world is that as people get older, they get more conservative, but specific beliefs or values may still shift -- and those become adopted by the NEW older class. Which means that the party of old people tomorrow will be different from the party of old people today. It's likely that parties will gradually shift along with demographics, as they continuously have ever since they came into existence in the early 1800s.

So what used to be a pipeline from Democrat to Republican has developed a blockage and a lot of people are being squeezed out of the party pipes entirely.

Now, that's an interesting argument, and there do seem stats to be out there that show a growth in "independents" in some places. But that doesn't really matter as much as how those people actually VOTE. And the reality is that VERY few people tend to vote for 3rd-party candidates unless the 3rd-party candidate is already a celebrity or is otherwise well-known or something. You may lament the fact that people aren't choosing other candidates, but if they're still stuck choosing from the 2 major parties, one party or the other is probably going to become the "party of the old people."

Comment: Re:Gerrymandering (Score 2) 598

by AthanasiusKircher (#49726275) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

Nonsense. Maybe Republicans have been more successful in gerrymandering, but both parties have engaged in this practice. That's why there are so many "reliable" Republican and Democrat seats.

Indeed. For anyone interested in the overall trend, I'd encourage them to have a look at this report, which does not appear to be biased toward or against any particular party and makes use of a number of different measures of gerrymandering.

After the 2010 census redistricting, they conclude the following regarding both parties' effects:

The mean Polsby-Popper, Schwartzberg and Reock scores indicate that districts drawn with total GOP control have a higher compactness score than districts drawn with total Democratic control under those measures. States with split control fall in the middle. Nevertheless, districts with a political party in control remain less compact than the national average by every measure. . . . Using the convex hull measure shows a different story. Districts drawn by a split in control come out with a higher compactness score, with districts drawn by the GOP not far behind. Districts drawn by the Democratic Party are much less compact than either.

While districts drawn by Republicans in this decennial redistricting process may be somewhat more compact than those drawn by Democrats, it is also clear that both parties appeared to take advantage of their situation and draw districts more favorable to their party's election. For example, Democrats took advantage in Maryland and Illinois while Republicans took advantage in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Republicans just had many more states, which may have buffered their average.

In other words, Democrats controlled fewer state legislatures than Republicans, but where they did control them, they introduced even WORSE (i.e., "less compact") gerrymandered districts than Republicans on average.

But since Republicans had control of more states, overall they may have ended up ahead THIS TIME in the gerrymandering war... maybe. Note that this crap goes on after every census, and whichever big party happens to be in control tries to exploit it. The Dems are certainly not more innocent than the Reps. They all should be thrown out of office for it.

Comment: Re:Fark those clowns (Score 1) 317

by AthanasiusKircher (#49725935) Attached to: Battle To Regulate Ridesharing Moves Through States

Licensed, legitimate cab companies run a gauntlet of state & local regulations before they can collect fares. Uber and Lyft bypass them, start operating, and then act surprised when their illegal operation using unlicensed, unvetted drivers run into trouble.

Indeed. Can we just stop calling it "ridesharing," too? You want to offer a coworker a ride in your car to work? That's "ridesharing." You want to say, "Can you chip in a little for gas and wear-and-tear on the car and such"? That's still "ridesharing."

When you start offering these services to different strangers every day and trying to make a profit off of giving them rides, that's no longer "ridesharing" -- that's a taxi service.

And there are good reasons why many regulations exist to protect both drivers and passengers in these sorts of transactions. Inevitably, there are probably some bad regulations in most places -- ones that are unnecessary or bring in extra revenue to governments or end up protecting traditional existing cab companies or whatever.

But just because there are SOME bad regulations doesn't mean that NO regulations is the best idea (or is even better than having some bad ones along with the good ones).

Regardless, most businesses in the U.S. have to obey various rules according to the law. Don't like that? Then vote to change the laws or vote for representatives who will. But stop pretending that you're just trying to "share a ride" with people when you're running a business and trying to make money off of it. That's just as crooked and dishonest as some of the bad government regulations you're complaining about.

Comment: Re:The Component Ph (Score 1) 335

There is no Nobel price in economics

Yeah, yeah... I know the controversy. It was partly ironic in my post which was obviously intended to be funny.

On the one hand, I think most of the field of "economics" has severe methodological problems. On the other hand, I find those people trying to claim it's "not a real Nobel prize" are making a bogus argument too. Yes, it wasn't in Nobel's will, but who is Nobel to determine what fields deserve prizes for all time? It's not like the "peace" prizes are awarded with any accountability for intellectual rigor either. And the Nobel Foundation authorizes these prizes, chooses them basically using similar criteria to other fields, and awards them on the same day in the same ceremony.

Do I think there *should* be a Nobel prize for economics? Probably not. But pretending there isn't one is just stupid, until the actual organization that regulates Nobel prizes decides it will no longer award one or will call it something else.

Comment: Re:Gold has value because it doesn't corrode, it l (Score 1) 335

Gold has value because it's virtually the only useful metal that doesn't corrode.

Yeah, yeah -- I wasn't going into too much detail here. Of course gold has some utility value, particularly in a technologically advanced society. But its current market price is a huge number of factors higher than that basic utility value -- and that "extra value" could vanish at any time. And the basic utility value can even vanish too -- in sufficiently dire circumstances.

Comment: Re:nobody saw it coming... (Score 1) 335

No, but it does mean their opinion is worthless.

Agreed, *IF* your goal is to "beat the market."

But since I basically believe (on the basis of various statistical studies) that ALL advice trying to "beat" the market is worthless, which also somewhat negates your earlier complaint. ALL advice is crap, whether it's somebody yelling about doom-and-gloom or some ideas trying to get you to buy the most recent boom (gold! oil! etc.).

But the advice is only "worthless" if you measure of "success" is maintaining the market status quo. If that's all everyone wanted to do, everyone would have a 100% stock portfolio. Most people don't. Most people want to diversify, based on volatility, and at various points in their lives, they may prefer less volatility, even if it means lower returns overall.

In that sense, an imprecise bubble prediction, particularly for a specific sector ("This rise seems unsustainable in sector X and will likely bust in the next few years") can allow investors who do not wish to gamble as much to exit that sector.

Your assumption is that a bubble prediction is only useful if it allows someone to OPTIMIZE profits. That's the only reason you need to know exact time and magnitude. Other people may be much happier with less lofty goals -- and simply want to assess risk to balance a portfolio in a reasonable fashion.

Comment: Re:And OP is retarded. (Score 4, Informative) 335

Never mind that gold and silver were used as money for thousands of years before the printing press made it possible to issue fiat currency.

Nonsense. Gold and silver can be "fiat" currency just as paper money can be. Fiat currency just means that a currency derives part of its value from the government's declaration that it shall function as a currency.

For example, the U.S. government says that the "dollar" must be used to pay taxes. It could equally say that "gold" must be used to pay taxes, in which case gold's price would probably go up, since it would be more useful to pay for things with. That addition in value due to the government's endorsement is what produces "fiat" money.

People who don't understand what the term "fiat" means assume that "fiat" currency is always based on something that they consider "valueless" while whatever alternative "non-fiat" currency has some sort of "inherent value."

Except who determines that "inherent value"? Where does it come from? Food and water will always have some inherent value for humans, since they need it to survive. Other goods that fulfill basic needs (shelter, protection, etc.) also generally have a pretty basic value.

But gold only has value because it's rare and shiny, but there are many things in the world that are rare and shiny. Under sufficiently dire circumstances (e.g., being lost in the desert), your gold brick might be worthless compared to a canteen of water.

In sum, other than basic human needs, things only have value because as a society we agree that they have value. If a society starts valuing other things, the old "inherent value" items will lose value. Do I think it's likely that gold will become worthless anytime soon? No -- but its price in relation to other goods has and will fluctuate the same way a supposed "fiat currency" does. It's true that in sufficiently dire circumstances (e.g., hyperinflation) "fiat currencies" may lose significant value.

But in sufficiently dire circumstances, "all bets are off," i.e., what people may want is to trade for food or water or weapons or whatever -- they won't want gold unless they know that someone else will be willing to take it in exchange for food or water or weapons (and that's not always guaranteed in sufficiently dire circumstances).

Comment: Re:nobody saw it coming... (Score 0) 335

The problem is, that "last time" people started shouting "bubble" in 1996. Then again in 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000. Then in 2001, the crash came, and they said "I told you so", despite the fact that the bottom of the crash was still higher than when they first started shouting.

Meh. I'd have to look back at the detailed stats here for those years, but just because it takes a long time for a "bubble" to burst doesn't mean that there wasn't evidence of a bubble developing.

And just because the "bottom of the crash" is higher than the start of the "bubble" doesn't mean that the "bubble" people were completely wrong -- the market "correction" may not fall as much because the damage is restricted to a particular area or because overall economic growth since the beginning of the "bubble" predictions means that the new "floor" is higher, etc. Also, often the people talking about "bubbles" also tend to point out particular areas where problematic behavior is emerging, rather than the overall market. It may take quite a few years for that problematic behavior to become so widespread or extreme that prices become severely inflated -- but again, the causes may go back further in time.

In sum, you're right that evidence of an emerging "bubble" should be met with some skepticism. We shouldn't believe idiots shouting "Sell! Sell!" anymore than we believe idiots shouting "Buy! Buy!"

If you really think you are so much smarter than the market, then feel free put your money where your mouth is, and sell some shorts. Then when the crash comes, right when you predicted, you can come back here and brag about your new yacht.

This is a flawed idea, since it depends on the assumption that the market is fundamentally rational and non-chaotic. If one could predict a crash precisely in time, then the market would be so rational and efficient that there would be no bubbles in the first place.

On the other hand, that doesn't mean that there can't be indicators that suggest a particular trend is unlikely to be sustainable in the long run. In fact, many adventurous business plans depend on things that are obviously unsustainable, whether it's over the span of a couple months or a couple years or a couple decades. Noting that such a trend is apparent doesn't mean an imminent crash, but it may mean the "gambling odds" are changing.

Comment: Re:The Component Ph (Score 1) 335

This value of Ph represents optimism for the future and is directly correlated with the height of skirts above women's knees based on historical data related to how well the economy is performing.

Except the skirt theory has problems as an indicator -- it worked well up to the 1960s or so, but other economists have proposed a "lipstick index" (women buy more small luxuries like lipstick when the economy is bad) to the idea that the height of heels is a much better predictor (dubbed by some the "footsie" index... har, har).

Apparently heels go up in lean times, while skirts go down. But given the better correlation with heels, it seems that the skirt phenomenon may not be the driving trend. If heels go down, women's legs appear shorter, thus requiring skirts to go up to maintain constant L (i.e., the "legginess" factor). QED.

Can I have my Nobel Prize in economics now?