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Comment: Elon Musk on "Process" (Score 2) 180

by catchblue22 (#48437271) Attached to: It's Not Developers Slowing Things Down, It's the Process

This is a quote from Elon Musk on what he thinks about "process":

"I don't believe in process. In fact, when I interview a potential employee and he or she says that 'it's all about the process,' I see that as a bad sign.

"The problem is that at a lot of big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking. You're encouraged to behave like a little gear in a complex machine. Frankly, it allows you to keep people who aren't that smart, who aren't that creative."

This just about nails it for me.

Comment: You might like: "Marxism of the Right" (Score 1) 195

by Paul Fernhout (#48431651) Attached to: Is a Moral Compass a Hindrance Or a Help For Startups?

"This is no surprise, as libertarianism is basically the Marxism of the Right. If Marxism is the delusion that one can run society purely on altruism and collectivism, then libertarianism is the mirror-image delusion that one can run it purely on selfishness and individualism. Society in fact requires both individualism and collectivism, both selfishness and altruism, to function. Like Marxism, libertarianism offers the fraudulent intellectual security of a complete a priori account of the political good without the effort of empirical investigation. Like Marxism, it aspires, overtly or covertly, to reduce social life to economics. And like Marxism, it has its historical myths and a genius for making its followers feel like an elect unbound by the moral rules of their society.
    The most fundamental problem with libertarianism is very simple: freedom, though a good thing, is simply not the only good thing in life. Simple physical security, which even a prisoner can possess, is not freedom, but one cannot live without it. Prosperity is connected to freedom, in that it makes us free to consume, but it is not the same thing, in that one can be rich but as unfree as a Victorian tycoon's wife. A family is in fact one of the least free things imaginable, as the emotional satisfactions of it derive from relations that we are either born into without choice or, once they are chosen, entail obligations that we cannot walk away from with ease or justice. But security, prosperity, and family are in fact the bulk of happiness for most real people and the principal issues that concern governments."

I would add "community" and "health" as public goods government should also help support.

BTW, to underscore the point that charity only tends to work well in communities where people are well known to each other (either that or an abstract gifte economy like JP Hogan wrote about), see:
"Switzerland's shame: The children used as cheap farm labour"
"Gogniat, his brother and two sisters were "contract children" or verdingkinder as they are known in Switzerland. The practice of using children as cheap labour on farms and in homes began in the 1850s and it continued into the second half of the 20th Century. Historian Loretta Seglias says children were taken away for "economic reasons most of the time⦠up until World War Two Switzerland was not a wealthy country, and a lot of the people were poor". Agriculture was not mechanised and so farms needed child labour.
    If a child became orphaned, a parent was unmarried, there was fear of neglect, or you had the misfortune to be poor, the communities would intervene. Authorities tried to find the cheapest way to look after these children, so they took them out of their families and placed them in foster families. ...
    The extent to which these children were treated as commodities is demonstrated by the fact that there are cases even in the early 20th Century where they were herded into a village square and sold at public auction. ...
    "Children didn't know what was happening to them, why they were taken away, why they couldn't go home, see their parents, why they were being abused and no-one believed them," she says.
    "The other thing is the lack of love. Being in a family where you are not part of the family, you are just there for working." And it left a devastating mark for the rest of the children's lives. Some have huge psychological problems, difficulties with getting involved with others and their own families. For others it was too much to bear. Some committed suicide after such a childhood.
    Social workers did make visits. David Gogniat says his family had no telephone, so when a social worker called a house in the village to announce that she was coming, a white sheet was hung out of a window as a warning to the foster family. On the day of this annual visit David didn't have to work, and was allowed to have lunch with the family at the table. "That was the only time I was treated as a member of the family... She sat at the table with us and when she asked a question I was too scared to say anything, because I knew if I did the foster family would beat me." ...
    The Farmers Union agrees with the principle of compensation, but is adamant that farmers should not have to contribute. You have to understand the times in which these children were placed into foster care, says union president Markus Ritter. Councils and churches had no money. Farming families were asked to take children who had fallen on difficult times or had one parent so the farmers were fulfilling a social function. Does he acknowledge abuse occurred? "We received a lot of feedback from children who were treated really well⦠But we are also aware that some children were not treated properly." ..."

Of course, either big business out of control or big government out of control (or both at once) is a terrible thing, like a fire let loose to rage and burn everything good in its path. Libertarian criticism is often valid, even if solutions put forth by "propertarian" libertarians may be found wanting in various extreme aspects. (BTW, there are also "Libertarian Socialists" lwhich are better represented in Europe, and that is what the rest of the world outside the USA thinks of when people say libertarian -- an example being Noam Chomsky.) So, given that our society is no longer small-scale enough for some older social processes to work well (short of rethinking and remaking our infrastructure, which is maybe a good idea in any case), we need to think about a healthy balance, which can be a very hard thing to achieve or maintain.

Comment: Re:Debian OS is no longer of use to me now (Score 1) 535

by Paul Fernhout (#48431315) Attached to: Debian Votes Against Mandating Non-systemd Compatibility

"You are personally going to migrate your employer's systems because you personally do not like something, something every single major distro is moving too, and the top kernel developers are already using?"

No, AC, he said he is going to migrate his *personal* systems and those of an apparent volunteer organization he is affiliated with. Read more carefully next time before launching into the personal insults...

Comment: The Ben Franklin / Copyright "Pirate" connection (Score 1) 55

by Paul Fernhout (#48431235) Attached to: Machine-Learning Algorithm Ranks the World's Most Notable Authors

"Ben Franklin and others who owned printers realized that copyright didn't apply to them, so they promptly began making copies of everything - books, sheet music, etc."

I had know that for much of US history there was no respect for foreign copyrights (from other countries). I never saw anyone connect this to Ben Franklin's success before. Interesting!

Now that I look:
"Benjamin Franklin, Copyright Pirate"

"Benjamin Franklin, the first IP pirate?"

Comment: Small nuclear vs. solar PV vs. a singularity (Score 1) 498

by Paul Fernhout (#48431185) Attached to: Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

I agree we may well see cheap compact nuclear fission reactors in the 2020s like from Hyperion., Also, it is a sad truth that we could build much safer reactors if engineers had been asked to prioritize safety over other things (Freeman Dyson's TRIGA design being one example) and if the USA has not focused on a Uranium nuclear cycle that intentionally could be easily weaponized (instead of Thorium).

Still I'd expect solar will actually continue to fall in price by the 2020s too. It would not surprise me if PV was in the 15 cent per watt range by 2030 (or even less) other things remaining constant. Consider how "cheap" used "solar collectors" in terms of tree leaves are in the Fall in the USA. Solar panels potentially could be printed as cheaply as aluminum foil using advanced nanomaterials and special inks.

We haven't really seen anything like the amount of research in PV we will probably see when it reaches grid parity everywhere and people really invest in it in a huge way equivalent to previous investments in fossil fuel production and research. Some people (myself included) have been predicting this turning point for a long time, and it has been dismissed and ignored. It is easy to say PV progress will never get to grid parity until it actually happens. That has been true even though the trends for decades show a clear line towards zero cost (no doubt it will go asymptotic at some point to just be dirt cheap though).

Unfortunately, in our short-term-oriented society in the USA, until PV is cheaper than the grid it is only a niche thing for special circumstances or motivated environmentally-minded people. That has been what has been funding it as only a relative trickle of investment. Once PV is cheaper than the grid, assuming a good solution to energy storage exists (fuel cells with nickle-metal hydride storage, Lithium ion batteries, molten salt batteries, compressed air, or something else), it will be economically foolish to use anything else to generate power than PV. And then, sometime after the stampede, we will see enormous sums of money flow into PV research and production. Electric utilities may collapse all over the place as his happens because grid power becomes too pricey once the cost of delivery exceeds the cost of on-site production. Except for the value of their right of ways as internet conduits, and maybe the value of their copper wires, I would guess that most utilities if properly accounted for, given decommissioning costs and outstanding long-term debt in sunk costs, most utilities may well have a negative net worth right now given any forecast that includes these trends.

Personally, I still think it possible that hot fusion or cold fusion will displace PV (as well as nuclear fusion) in the near future. Those could potentially be really really cheap. Even if fission gets cheaper and better (including potentially as small batteries), I don't see it could compete with workable fusion (and probably neither could PV for most applications).

We'll likely also see energy efficiency increase greatly. The current best construction in Europe is to build passive solar superinsulated houses without furnaces; search on "no furnace house".

I'd love to see the solar roadways thing work out... Or even just for parking lots or driveways.

Still, as I said elsewhere, the same reasons PV s getting cheaper (cheaper computing leading to cheaper collaboration and better designs by cheaper modeling and newer materials and so on) are the same sorts of reasons we will also see much cheaper nuclear power. Of course, there are other trends that all interact with that as well... A post by me from 2000:
"[unrev-II] Singularity in twenty to forty years?"

Comment: Reduced lead leading to reduced crime? (Score 1) 108

by Paul Fernhout (#48414949) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Malcolm Gladwell a Question

In the Tipping Point you advance the argument that it was better policing against minor infractions that reduced crime.
"Economist Steven Levitt and Malcolm Gladwell have a running dispute about whether the fall in New York City's crime rate can be attributed to the actions of the police department and "Fixing Broken Windows" (as claimed in The Tipping Point). In Freakonomics, Levitt attributes the decrease in crime to two primary factors: 1) a drastic increase in the number of police officers trained and deployed on the streets and hiring Raymond W. Kelly as police commissioner (thanks to the efforts of former mayor David Dinkins) and 2) a decrease in the number of unwanted children made possible by Roe v. Wade, causing crime to drop nationally in all major cities -- "[e]ven in Los Angeles, a city notorious for bad policing"."

However, it looks like the drop in crime is most closely correlated with the fall in environmental lead (mostly from reducing the used of leaded gasoline). Since other places have seen their crime rate fall without drastic changes in policing, what do you think of the lead and crime connection? See also:
"America's Real Criminal Element: Lead; New research finds Pb is the hidden villain behind violent crime, lower IQs, and even the ADHD epidemic. And fixing the problem is a lot cheaper than doing nothing. "

Comment: How is this different from "Seed Savers Exchange"? (Score 1) 99

by Paul Fernhout (#48408129) Attached to: Group Tries To Open Source Seeds "Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. Since 1975, our members have been passing on our garden heritage by collecting and distributing thousands of samples of rare garden seeds to other gardeners. "

Comment: Thanks for the informative history lesson! (Score 1) 260

Looks like we turned down the wrong path a few decades ago...

When Lessig argued "Eldred vs. Ashcroft" there was some point where the justices said, essentially, well no one has ever complained about copyright extensions before in terms of that being a taking something of value from the public (breaking the previous bargain struck at the time the work was produced), so extensions must be OK. That was probably not true, but Lessig did not have much of an answer for that. My memory of that may be a bit fuzzy, but I think that was the gist of an important point in the case as far as precedent.

More craziness and the law regarding the "owners" of so many copyrights these days:
" In 1886, . . . in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a private corporation is a person and entitled to the legal rights and protections the Constitutions affords to any person. Because the Constitution makes no mention of corporations, it is a fairly clear case of the Court's taking it upon itself to rewrite the Constitution.
                    Far more remarkable, however, is that the doctrine of corporate personhood, which subsequently became a cornerstone of corporate law, was introduced into this 1886 decision without argument. According to the official case record, Supreme Court Justice Morrison Remick Waite simply pronounced before the beginning of arguement in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company that:
                          "The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of opinion that it does."
                    The court reporter duly entered into the summary record of the Court's findings that:
                            "The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteen Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
                    Thus it was that a two-sentence assertion by a single judge elevated corporations to the status of persons under the law, prepared the way for the rise of global corporate rule, and thereby changed the course of history.
                    The doctrine of corporate personhood creates an interesting legal contradiction. The corporation is owned by its shareholders and is therefore their property. If it is also a legal person, then it is a person owned by others and thus exists in a condition of slavery -- a status explicitly forbidden by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. So is a corporation a person illegally held in servitude by its shareholders? Or is it a person who enjoys the rights of personhood that take precedence over the presumed ownership rights of its shareholders? So far as I have been able to determine, this contradiction has not been directly addressed by the courts. "

A LISP programmer knows the value of everything, but the cost of nothing. -- Alan Perlis