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Comment Re:What bothers me (Score 1) 434

If Hillary survives to the general election without this snowballing into a legal issue, I really want some brave and fearless soul to stand up in the first televised debate and ask her one question:

"Based on your legal expertise as a former member of the House Judiciary's Impeachment Inquiry staff, and the arguments which led to legal action being proposed against President Nixon, how many email messages would it take to equal 17 minutes of audio tape?"

Comment Online Presence (Score 4, Interesting) 111

As visible in your official company FAQ, you had run a ISP as well as other online services (I seem to recall there having been some manner of MOO/MUSH service for running online games), well in advance of most other RPG publishers. Furthermore, you run your own digital store (e23) rather than using through the DriveThruStuff platform used by the rest of the tabletop industry, and made PDF copies of your books available for purchase before the other "major" industry players (Fantasy Flight, Pinnacle, WhiteWolf, and WotC).

How much of this decision was strategic—based on a firm belief this was "The Way of the Future"—and how much was it exploratory / risk-taking? In hindsight, what decisions for your online presence would you have made differently?

Comment Re:"Whether or not you believe there’s a pro (Score 1) 613

I caution attempts at social engineering result in greater injustices than those they seek to fight against.

I would say that the first thing those attempting social engineering should seek is to utilize the solutions they propose. For instance, it's amazing how many of the politicians in the US who seek to raise the minimum wage also make broad use of unpaid interns. If even the crusaders can't manage to pay everybody minimum wage (not the new level of $10, $15, or whatever is being proposed today, but just the current amount), what makes you so certain it's a great idea?

Comment Re:Good (Score 2) 302

I'm not entirely sure you're not trolling, but I'll bite anyway.

The US Constitution states that the purpose of copyright is "to promote the progress of science and useful arts", artists and inventors may be granted a (temporary, limited) exclusive right to their work. Anytime copyright comes up among my group of friends (who include a large number of writers, musicians, and graphical artists, in addition to programmers) copyright is a fairly contentious issue. I tend to like to argue the position that any "common", mass produced work that is unavailable for public purchase for longer than one year has outlived its' salable value and should lose copyright protection. (This is particularly true in the age of digital distribution, where "shelf space" is a non-issue.) Fine art (where only one copy of the item ever gets created) clearly requires a different definition for copyright term, but for the things which usually are referenced in these debates online -- CDs, mass market books, newsclippings, etc. -- a strictly limited term is far more beneficial to keeping works available to the public.

Comment Re:Well guys if you were passed over for a positio (Score 1) 517

I don't think I dare look at your link right now, but your question has been answered. To quote from that Wikipedia article: "The lead plaintiff was Frank Ricci, who had been a firefighter at the New Haven station for 11 years. ... Because he has dyslexia, he paid an acquaintance $1,000 to read his textbooks onto audiotapes." (Emphasis mine.)

Make whatever noises you like: just because a person is part of the privileged class in the two most visible categories of discrimination (race & gender) doesn't exclude them from being a member of any other legally protected class.

Comment Re:Libertarianism, the new face of the GOP? (Score 1) 441

I'm sure you know about Westinghouse and Edison setting up parallel electricity networks in New York, but it was even more extreme for the telegraph. In 1850 there were 75 telegraph companies, ten of which served New York; in 1866 there was only one. ... The government mostly stepped in *after* these natural monopolies formed, to keep them from abusing their power,

False. Since you specifically mentioned New York, here's an article about how that technology developed. Specifically, it states that "To encourage growth in this new electricity infrastructure, New York, like all of the other states, protected the utilities’ investment by granting them an exclusive right to serve customers." (Emphasis mine.) Believe what you want about the importance of monopoly busting, but the sad truth is that for every common example people give of "natural" monopolies, the government had a hand in why the service in question is a monopoly market.

Comment Re:Computers are making everyone's life easier (Score 3, Interesting) 212

The analogy I like to use when discussing the Art vs. Engineering paradigm in programming is architecture (the wood & steel building sort, not hardware chip instructions) design. Every architect, whether building a private home or an office complex, needs to know certain fundamental facts about the materials they use (load bearing capacity, for instance) and the choice of what materials are used is (typically) dictated by the intended purpose of a building. Brick and wood framing is pretty universal, but you don't generally see homes being built out of little more than tin siding and steel frames like factory warehouses, or giant glass walls like skyscrapers.

That part -- mating the materials with the intended purpose -- is the "art" in architecture. The "art" in programming (aside from some limited domains like UX or AI) is less immediately describable except by effect (e.g. "How quickly do new team members get up to speed?") but should be no less important to any project manager. I don't really think that programming has been around long enough for us to have our Frank Lloyd Wright moment, but that is no reason to ignore the "intangibles" and immeasurable aspects to quality code.

Comment Re:Wealth Inequality in America (Score 1) 1040

Please don't confuse "wealth" (i.e. cars, homes, and other assets) with "income" (i.e. wages and salaries). In fact, your video even illustrates this about 4:40 in: the top "1 percent" have 40% of the wealth and 24% of the income. Hell, even if the video producer hadn't done so, there's a reasonable shot the surveyed individuals did.

Or, if you'd prefer a video response, I found this one: "I'll just leave this here" indeed.

Comment Re:Can't Tell Them Apart (Score 1) 466

That sounds solid for a "take home" test, but I wouldn't trust that for an interview (it's too easy to get an answer from some website instead of doing the work), and as others have stated before me it seems far too hard for use in a live code exercise. (I consider myself quite the math geek, but never bothered to memorizing formulas for pi.) Personally, I've always preferred some variation on the simpler "fizzbuzz" test, like asking candidates to write the C library strcpy function, or a function to calculate m-of-n boolean logic (given n logic tests, write a function that returns true when at least m items are true). These tests actually allow you to check a candidate for several desired attributes at once:
  • Ability to read and follow a specification. For instance, for "fizzbuzz" will the candidate remember to print the numbers which fail both modulo tests, and not print the number when one of these test succeeds?
  • Familiarity with language of choice/test. The second example, as given, would require one to cold-recall the order of arguments (and return value) to a very common library function; properly coding the boolean logic example requires writing a variadic function.
  • Coding practices and problem solving skills. A test with multiple solutions (or at least, seeming to support multiple solutions) allows you to see the candidate's thought process.

As the parent poster stated: you probably can pass this sort of test and only be a 40%-skill programmer, and many 90%-skill programmers would fail at least one of the above tests. However, the how and why candidates 'fail' (did you ask for clarification, or just rush in? Did you mis-read the requirements, or not think the problem through? Does your code contain a fencepost error?) is just as revealing of desired skill set as any 'success'.

Comment Re:BTC (Score 2) 548

While that is the route the DoJ is currently pursuing, I'm pretty sure that they will find it rather impotent:

KYC rules require money-related services to be able to identify all their customers, and self report ‘suspicious activity’ that can be signs of anything from money laundering to terrorist financing. In the traditional financial sector, this makes money laundering much more difficult (although nowhere near impossible). This is because, in order to interact with the modern financial system and transmit money electronically, you need to use a third-party service such as a bank, which are easy points of regulation.

However, with bitcoin it’s an entirely different story. No one needs a third-party service to own, spend, or send bitcoins anywhere in the world. All that is needed is an open-source wallet, of which there are plenty available to download. ... The real problem is whether governments will accept this new reality and plan appropriately, or continue to fight it. Regulatory bodies can’t fit bitcoin into current regulatory framework. The two are simply not compatible, and that has nothing to do with any libertarian sentiments in the community. It’s fact.

The degree of oversight government now has in the traditional payments arena is impossible to replicate with bitcoin...

Source: Why Know-Your-Customer rules won't work with Bitcoin

So unless the DoJ wants to argue that is a "financial service" company merely for accepting Bitcoin, or that the businesses which do convert Bitcoin into traditional currency need to implement some sort of "Know Your Customer's Customers" third party regulation, the tightening of existing regulation will have virtually zero effect.

Comment Re:It's been politicized (Score 1) 869

I'm well aware of the problem.

Another indicator of public understanding of science focuses on understanding of how [scientists] generate and assess scientific evidence, rather than knowledge of particular facts. Past NSF surveys have used questions on three general topics—probability, experimental design, and the scientific method—to assess trends in Americans' understanding of the process of scientific inquiry.
Understanding of what it means to study something scientifically is considerably lower, at 18% in 2010. Correct responses on this question are lower, in part, because the task of expressing a concept in one's own words is more difficult than recognizing a correct response to a multiple-choice style close-ended survey question.

This is still much higher than I would expect based on occupation, since STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] fields account for only 6% of the workforce. However, even though, as you say, "[m]ost people are not in a position to understand themselves and their own thinking", this is not insurmountable. Surveys similar to the NSF one I linked shows that over the past 25 years, the literacy rate has doubled (from 10% in 1988); clearly, the public can learn to understand rational, scientific methods.

Even if this conclusion is wrong, what do you think the proper method is to deal with the irrational nature of humans? Set up some sort of inner cabal of "great minds" to run the world (ignoring the fact they're just as human, therefore just as irrational, as anyone else)? Try to find some inhuman ("angelic") agent to run the world, and hope their goals remain humanly comprehensible? Or just give up and go back to the caves?

Comment Re:It's been politicized (Score 1) 869

"Both sides" do deserve at least some consideration for one reason and one reason only: the strength of a scientific theory is not measured solely by how it explains current facts, but also in how well it withstands challenges. Whenever researchers or supporters of anthropogenic climate unilaterally silence critics, they are simultaneously weakening the process of science. Al Gore did so in stating that "There is no more debate among scientists" when talking up An Inconvenient Truth; however, the truly inconvenient fact is that the working process of science is just such debates. This idea was expressed very clearly in this description of the scientific method by Richard Feynman:

"Now you see, of course, that with this method we can disprove any definite theory. We have a real guess, with which we can compute consequences, which could be compared to experiments; and in principle we can get rid of any wrong theory. You can always prove any definite theory wrong. Notice, however, that we never prove it right. Suppose that you invent a good guess, calculate the consequences, and find that the consequences agree with experiment. The theory is then right?

"No; it is simply not proven wrong. Because, in the future, there could be a wider range of experiments or you could compute a wider range of consequences and you may discover that some of those are wrong. That's why laws like Newton's laws for the motion of planets last for such a long time; he guessed the law of gravitation and calculated all the kinds of consequences for the solar system and so on, compared them to experimental observation and it took several hundred years for the slight error in the motions of Mercury to develop. During all that time, the theory had been failed to be proven wrong and could be taken to be temporarily right. It can never be proved right, because tomorrow's experiment may succeed in proving what you thought was right, wrong."

The only way that global warming, as a scientific theory, will ever be permanently "settled" is if it is proven wrong. When the challengers are just repeating the same bullshit arguments over and over (as with the religious teleological arguments presented anew under the names of "creation science" and "intelligent design") winning the debate may be quick and painless, but nevertheless the proper working of the scientific method is the remorseless, unceasing challenge of the orthodoxy with new ideas and measurements.

If you didn't have to work so hard, you'd have more time to be depressed.