It's interesting that he chose not to answer (or Slashdot chose not to forward) the several highly moderated questions on whether the show truly makes geek culture mainstream ("laughing with the characters"), or if it just holds geeks up for ridicule to millions of ordinary Americans ("laughing at them"). From Saltzberg's answers, it's at least clear that he has no geek background and simply caught on a good business idea.
Anyone who is proficient in programming shouldn't have a problem picking up a book (or website) and learning a new langauge, API, etc. in a weekend or two.
This claim gets thrown around on Slashdot a lot, but it's simply not true. In a weekend one might learn enough of a language to bootstrap oneself to learning more through reading real-world code, and you might even be able to fix a bug in an open source program that has been annoying you, but you can forget about working professionally with that language right off.
Just look at the standard references for various languages to see authors admit this. Python is a nice, clear language, right? "executable pseudocode". And yet in O'Reilly's Learning Python Mark Lutz, who has many years of experience teaching skilled programmers, say that it will take readers months to get a complete view of just the core language, let alone the standard library and important third-party libraries.
Still he was called terrible, not awesome.
And "terrible" had another connotation than you are thinking of when that nomenclature was established in English. Have a look at the OED entry for "terrible".
- the Tsar Ivan the Terrible executed during his reign of half a century less people than were executed during the St. Bartholomew's Day(!) massacre. Still he is called the Terrible, but not Catherine de' Medici or the King Charles IX.
"Ivan the Terrible" is a translation of the Russian epithet Ivan grozny, which has less a connotation of "cruel" or "bloody" and more one of "awesome" or "formidable". It's like how English subjects referred to James I as their "dread sovereign", such labels for royalty were common regardless of his use of violence or not.
The Ruskies aren't going to be invading Finland again. Not after the embarrassment of the last time.
"The last time" was a straightforward Russian victory: the end of the Continuation War. If you meant the time before last, the Winter War, educated Finns would be the first to tell you that their country's resilence is half myth, and the country would not be able to hold out should Russia come again.
Why is that? For one, Stalin's army had suffered severe purges of qualified generals in the 1930s, and the Russian military forces striking Finland were undermined by the political commisars assigned to them. Had the purges not happened, that mythical Finnish intestinal fortitude alone would not have been enough to hold out. Then, one must consider that in the 70-odd years since the Winter War, Russia has developed massive air power, while Finland's arsenal anti-aircraft measures has always been very weak -- even optimistic Finnish strategists believe that the country would capitulate after only a few days of massive bombardment. Plus, Russia considers tactical nuclear weapons an option (Finland is not a NATO member, so no escalation to strategic nuclear weapons or MAD), and has already practiced drills for a nuclear strike on Finland. And finally, during the Winter War the male population were mainly hardy farmers, strong and used to cold, while it's quite common in our media for military brass to bemoan the quality of today's conscripts, who have led sedentary lives and are unfit for strenuous activity.
Its racist to acknowledge language barriers?
No, but it is silly to claim that an foreign undergraduate's gradual pursuit of English proficiency is a disaster for university education nationwide.
ITs racist to expect that people attending an American university be able to speak English to participate in group assignments?
It's pretty common across the world for universities to accept that foreign students will take a couple of years to become proficient in the local language, and Americans benefit from that too. I did my university degrees first in Spain and then in Finland, and in both countries my lecturers and classmates understood that I needed some time to learn Spanish and Finnish respectively.
Or do you expect the American students to learn Arabic, Mandarin and Somali?
As someone who studied Chinese and tried to get as much exposure to the language as possible, I would have definitely enjoyed working with a Chinese student so that I could hit him up for free language practice, which normally costs a high hourly rate. Learning Somali may not bring many advantages for Americans (though interestingly enough, Somali skills are in high demand now in the Finnish state sector), but Mandarin and Arabic are major world languages, some knowledge of which can only help.
The correct Mandarin word for "foreigner" is "laowai", and it is not an insult. It is a polite term.
If one speaks of the modern standard language, the correct-est Mandarin word for 'foreigner' is waiguoren. While laowai is not a strong insult, it is restricted to the colloquial register and it has a slightly pejorative air.
I think the ado about systemd is more about Linux people who think that Linux should be hard to use except for a small elite and do not want the OS to be useful to less technically adept users.
If by "less technically adept users" you mean ordinary PC users who are being encouraged to adopt the Linux desktop, there is no reason that the init process has to be changed to woo them, because such users won't ever touch the system internals anyway, whether they be sysvinit or systemd.
If by "less technically adept users" you mean people with some command-line skills but who are not yet Unix wizards, well, arguably systemd makes things more difficult for them. One of the biggest reasons systemd adoption has pissed people off is that for the systemd devs, documentation is at best an afterthought. The API has changed significantly over the last couple of years, but most documentation one can find on the internet is now out of date, and it has not been replaced with docs for the current state of systemd. sysvinit, on the other hand, is extremely well documented from a number of sources, and the technology remains accessible to anyone with some bash skills.
When you've pretty much agreed that everything he said was true (though you attempt to handwave it away
Fearmongering about risks that are statistically insignificant should be waved away. Otherwise one would hardly ever leave their own homes (or even move about in those homes).
and blame the victim...
Noting that the well-known cases of violence within Couchsurfing.com related to single females hosting single males is in no way blaming them. Rather, the point is that since the GP is presumably male and writing for a predominantly male audience (these being the sad demographics of Slashdot), his exortation to fear such violence is groundless.
The "years of experience" you cite are for more-or-less closed communities of like minded people, very likely known to each other or having common friends or acquaintances. The modern hospitality exchanges are between random people, complete strangers.
There has been no such transition overall in internet hospex from trustworthy closed communities to "random people, complete strangers" as you depict. Couchsurfing.com specifically has grown too large to have that feeling of being a closed community of like-minded people, though the result of this is vastly more likely to be simply meeting a person whose company one doesn't enjoy with than experiencing crime. However, internet hospex in general remains a series of overlapping circles of friends, which one can plainly see from Couchsurfing's two community-run alternatives.
Couch surfing at a stranger's home is like staying at a hostle or homeless shelter and is very risky to you and your belongings. On the other side of that, letting a complete stranger into your home to sleep on your couch is also risky and could get you robbed, hurt, and/or killed.
Couchsurfing (with a modicum of due caution) isn't staying with or hosting "complete strangers". You can check previous references left by other guests/hosts that the person has had. Plus, well-functioning hospitality exchange platforms tend to have an active userbase small enough that everyone kind of knows each other. I've hosted a number of people with whom I've turned out to have mutual friends.
People have been "robbed and hurt" on Couchsurfing, but beyond the rare petty theft that could even happen when hosting friends (yes, people's friends can steal too) or relatives (many people have a klepto in the family), violent incidents are rare and the cases I am aware of were single females unwisely hosting single males. I am unaware of anyone ever being killed. Maybe you would like to back up your assertion somehow?
Couchsurfing is nothing new. It superseded its website forebear Hospitality Club, which in turn inherited, among other things, mailing lists for hospitality exchange among hitchhikers and nomadic travellers. There's also WarmShowers, a community for cycle tourists, that has been around for years now and goes back to a pre-internet paper directory. With years of experience and millions of host-guest interactions, you cannot reasonably claim that hospitality exchange is more dangerous than, say, driving one's car on a daily basis.
I think it's you who haven't been to many third world countries. Yes, there are countries with famine, but there are plenty of poor fat people in Nicaragua, Fiji, Egypt, Brazil, etc.
Honestly, I'd list those countries at a higher scale than the absolute Third World. In the Indian subcontinent, Madagascar and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, there are still millions of people who are badly nourished, who expend an enormous amount of effort every day in unskilled labour but whose sustenance consists of a mere handful of a staple food (white rice, cassava, cornmeal, bread) with little or no ingredients added. Central America and the Middle East is significantly better off.
Some of those are not comparative advantages, not absolute advantages, but that's all you need.
Not, that's not all you need. What you need is employment, and manufacturing in the US no longer employs a significant amount of people. With automation, factories today are run with a workforce an order of magnitude less than in the heyday of the American middle class. Farming too only employs somewhere around 1% of the population now.
Also, 'microcode' has an actual meaning and it isn't what you think it is.
Are you really so daft as to quibble among the meaning of a word within a lengthy quotation from a book by someone else? If you have a problem with the use of "microcode" here, take it up with Neal Stephenson. The passage in question remains an overall valid summary of many people's concerns about globalization.