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Comment: Re:Statistical Literature (Score 1) 115

Oh, god. Mel Gibson's 1990 Hamlet was awful. It was the most asinine thing I've ever seen. Shakespeare for people who really *are* dummies. Reportedly it was director Franco Zeffirelli's attempt to make Shakespeare "less cerebral" and more accessible to the masses. What a choice to try that with! The whole point of Hamlet is that he's so damned smart the only person who can really stand in his way is him.

My point was that you've got to find an actor who can give a knowledgeable performance. Not some meat-head action star stunt cast miles out of his depth. I'd rather watch Arnold Schwarzenegger Hamlet.

I think the best film adaptation of Hamlet I've seen was Kenneth Branaugh's 1996 version, although it is long, long, long at 242 minutes (to Gibsons' 134 minutes). Olivier's 1948 Hamlet is generally highly regarded, but it's too sentimental for my taste. Haven't seen Derek Jacobi's 1980 BBC performance, but I've heard good things about it. I've seen snippets of the David Tennant Hamlet, and it looks promising, although it's hard to shake the impression that it's Dr. Who playing Hamlet.

Comment: Re:No he didn't (Score 4, Interesting) 164

by hey! (#48024477) Attached to: Man Walks Past Security Screening Staring At iPad, Causing Airport Evacuation

Exactly. Security screwed up, and then they HAD to deal with it. It's not mere security theater to have a security checkpoint. Those checkpoints are demonstrably important.

Not many of us remember, but until 1973 there was no baggage screening, no metal detectors, and no id requirements for getting on a commercial flight. The number of skyjackings had climbed rapidly since the mid-50s so that in 1972 there were 11 skyjackings of commercial flights around the world, seven in the US.

After security checkpoints were introduced in the US, there wasn't another skyjacking in the US for three years. Then an occasional one now and then, as people found loopholes. There was one passenger airliner hijacking of a flight FROM the US in all the 1980s and none in the 1990s.

My conclusion is that the security measures put in place by 1990 were highly effective. 9/11 fit the pattern of the early dribs-and-drabs hijackings, the difference is Al Qaeda made an effort to do multiple simultaneous exploitations of the vulnerability they'd found. There hasn't been a hijacking of a US flight since then, but given that the last passenger hijacking BEFORE 9/11 was in 1987, it's likely that this long dry spell is mostly if not entirely due to banning blades from carry on luggage. That's not to say that EVERY other change since then is security theater. I think reinforcing cockpit doors and changing pilot training was a reasonable response. But a lot of the enhanced pat-downs, magic scanners, no-fly list shennanigans and such are no doubt bogus.

Comment: Re:net metering != solar and 10% needs new physics (Score 1) 325

by hey! (#48024379) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

Your analysis depends on two assumptions. First, that at the daily peak the amount of solar produced exceeds the total demand for electricity. That's actually quite likely to happen in the long term in certain locations -- sunny, densely developed residential neighborhoods for example -- but not in others -- in a neighborhood that has a steel mill. Maybe in the short term in a few places if the adoption of rooftop solar accelerates even more.

One of the ways to alleviate this would be to improve the distribution grid so that the excess supply could be sold further away. But lets say the day comes that the peak solar production exceeds the total electricity demand. That brings us to the second assumption.

The second assumption is that electricity is charged at a flat rate all day long. Clearly if lots of excess solar is being produced at noontime, you could easily reduce the cost you charge to electricity consumers (or pay back to electricity). We already do peak vs. off peak rates for industrial users.

This combination of grid improvements and reduced peak rates will encourage people and businesses to concentrate their power usage around noon. Maybe you'll charge our electric car at a higher rate, or maybe even charge large industrial or household batteries. The losses hardly matter, since we were throwing away the sunshine anyway. Increased noon usage will offset the tendency for electricity rates to fall during peak generation periods.

Am I saying the utilities won't lose a little money in a few isolated spots in the short term? No. What I'm saying is that we're hardly facing some kind of insurmountable singularity. Certainly not any time soon, nor in the long term if we can bring ourselves to prepare for it.

Comment: Re:Hodor (Score 2) 115

Martin will kill off an important character because he has no idea how to write a character arc out of a wet paper bag.

I actually don't think that's true. I think what you're reacting to comes with the epic scale of the novel (SoI&F really is just one, long, continuous work) -- both in word count and the enormous cast of characters. It's a kind of literary clutter. If you boiled Game of Thrones down to the story of Ned Stark's rise and downfall, that would be quite a satisfying (although grim) story arc. The fact that the story goes on and on after that dissipates the emotional impact of that one story line.

At over 1.7 million words currently, Song of Ice and Fire is more than six times as long as typical English translations of the Illiad and Odyssey combined. Think about that. In the time it took you to read just the first volume of Song of Ice and Fire, you could have read BOTH the Illiad and the Odyssey. And as a bonus you'd have read BOTH the Illiad and the Odyssey.

As works go further and further north of 200,000 words, they almost inevitably lose the tight, clockwork structure you expect in a 2 hour stage play or 70,000 word novel. Stories stop feeling like they have a beginning, middle, and end and start to feel more episodic. That happens to some stories well before they hit the 200,000 word mark (American Gods, 183 KWords).

At 473 KWords, Lord of the Rings is one of the rare exceptions. From Rivendell onward it's a marvel of complex yet tightly interwoven structure. But it's a hot steaming mess of false starts up until Ford of Bruinen. Tom Bombadil anyone? I think that it could probably be edited down to 400,000 words without losing much artistically. That's still almost miraculously long for a story that feels like one story.

I have a theory about episodic megastories like Song of Ice and Fire, which is that they aren't catharsis you get from a tightly plotted play or novel. They're about transporting a reader to a world he finds interesting to visit again and again. If so that bodes ill for the the Game of Thrones TV series now that Emilia Clarke has sworn off nude scenes.

Comment: Re:Statistical Literature (Score 1) 115

I don't have to read Shakespeare in Klingon, reading him in the original english is enough to put me to sleep.

Some would say this doesn't deserved to be dignified with a response, but I disagree.

The best introduction to Shakespeares plays is to see them on stage, performed by actors who know how to perform Shakespeare. Because of the shift in language, there's special skill needed for presenting Shakespeare to modern audiences. You'll be amazed at how much you understand. Until you know the play's text you'll be missing a lot too, but in the performance you won't notice that.

I'd go so far as to say it's better to see a Shakespeare play performed first before attempting to read it. Then tackle the text with its footnotes on every line.

Comment: Re:So? (Score 1) 241

by bill_mcgonigle (#48023307) Attached to: Former GM Product Czar: Tesla a "Fringe Brand"

Sorry but if you can afford a Tesla you ARE on the fringe!

Not really. We had a 2005 Pontiac minivan. Between acquisition cost, gasoline, repairs (and repairs and repairs), and depreciation, it cost us $50,000 over three and a half years, and that was before the inflationary boom when steak was half the current price.. We had to unload it due to the gas and repair costs and ate it so hard on the depreciation.

The Tesla is slightly more expensive than that, and that was aimed squarely at a typical young American family. The 10-year cost on a Tesla model S is going to be a lot cheaper, not to mention the model 3. It's simply a matter of financing.

Comment: Re:Problem oriented (Score 1) 54

by hey! (#48022831) Attached to: How To Find the Right Open Source Project To Get Involved With

I tried this once. I installed a rather obscure open source app that that turned out to be quite useful to me. But it took me a couple days to get to the point where I could do anything useful with it. And I was only able to do that because I can read source code and have lots of software installation and configuration experience. And because I enjoy a puzzle.

After using the app for a month or two, I thought to myself, "There's got to be thousands and thousands of people who'd benefit from this app, but I bet 99% of the people who try it give up before they have any success. What this project needs is documentation." So I contacted the development team with an offer to write some. I explain that while I'm a developer, not a tech writer, I had written early-adopter oriented documentation for several successful commercial projects, so I knew how to get those people up to speed while the app was still something of a moving target. I also offer to maintain that documentation for at least a year.

I got back a quite haughty response from the project leader stating that he *might* let me write documentation if I became a regular code contributor to the project. Now I'd assumed that his ideas of what documentation was needed might be different from mine, but it turned out he didn't seem interested in documentation at all. Also the response had a weird, hostile vibe; it was as if I'd asked him for hundreds of hours of his time rather than offered him hundreds of mine. So I thanked him for *his* invitation and declined it.

I guess the point is that there are other, social dimensions to choosing a project to contribute to. One of them is whether the project even wants what you have to offer. Another is whether the team seems like people you'd enjoy working with. There are some projects, like the Linux kernel, which are so prestigious that you might well take a lot of crap to be a contributor. But most projects aren't like that.

If you do start our own project, watch the TED video How to Start a Movement.

Comment: Re:Call it what you will (Score 1) 317

by c (#48020063) Attached to: Bash To Require Further Patching, As More Shellshock Holes Found

The wrong mechanism (a semi-persistent environment) is being used to transfer what should have transient data. That is a vulnerability in the spec.

Hm. Okay, I'll buy that argument.

In practice, if the CGI developer follows best security practices it shouldn't be a more significant problem than any other "untrusted input" path, and whatever invokes the CGI does have the option of cleaning up the environment instead of accepting the default, but it's fair to say there's a flaw in the spec.

Comment: Re: Best outcome (Score 2) 197

when the US petrodollar is completely decoupled from oil it loses about 5/6ths of its value intrinsically. The subsequent run on the currency could be an order of magnitude higher. Putin knows this and so do the Chinese but don't look to the Chinese to suddenly weeken its largest single purchasing market. The IMF will likely try to float SDRs to replace FRNs as the world currency but Russia and China stand to gain little by supporting it. Don't keep your long term wealth in current financial instruments.

Comment: Re: Bash is a very crappy programming language. (Score 2) 317

by bill_mcgonigle (#48019125) Attached to: Bash To Require Further Patching, As More Shellshock Holes Found

To be fair, perl had these problems in the early 90's and "taint mode " was introduced to protect against them and unforseen future variations on them. I seem to recall a release of PHP in the past couple years has adopted some of the same techniques. Bash folks won't be able to achieve a great result over a weekend. That we're here two decades later tells you most of what you need to know about the appropriateness of selecting bash for this kind of work.

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