Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Next year (Score 1) 123

There are two differences between guard and if:

  • Guard requires that you exit the outer scope somehow in its body.
  • While an if-let binding only exists in the true branch's scope, a guard-let binding becomes part of the outer scope.

I haven't used them much myself, but guards aren't just a synonym for if-not.

Comment A Meta "Conspiracy" Theory (Score 1) 303

The original definition of "conspiracy" circa 1300s, was simply "acting as one" derived from the Latin root "breath together" or to be "acting in the same spirit" depending on the sense of "sprre" (which was also the origin of "spire" in the sense of a cathedral's architectural "spire").

Therefore the original definition does not denotate conscious intent to act in coordination with others of the same "spirit", as does the modern definition. Somewhere along the line, the connotation of deliberately coordinated action became denotative.

I am going to argue below that this more restrictive denotation of "conspiracy" was a result of a "conspiracy" in the original sense of the word -- a "conspiracy" which did not require any deliberate, consciously intended coordination of action but was, nevertheless, the work of a group (or groups) for whom that restriction of definition was an evolutionary advantage to their selfish genes.

Group selection produces unconscious coordinated action between members of the group -- and humans have been under group selection since our common ancestor to chimpanzees (see E. O. Wilson's "The Social Conquest of Earth"). This has the same quality of coordinated action that occurs in the eusocial organisms -- organisms that also engage in group, as opposed to individual, combat aka "war". Indeed, the world's foremost authority on eusocial organisms, E. O. Wilson, argues persuasively that human society -- particularly "civilization" -- is evolving in that direction, which ends in the reification of the group, itself, as meta-organism -- a group of organisms "acting as one" on behalf of selfish genes expressing in the group's behavior patterns.

Now here's the key:

Because of the great diaspora of the human genotype out of Africa into a wide variety of environments, there has arisen biodiversity in the human genome adapting to a wide variety of population densities. In the areas with higher population density, there has been stronger group selection than in areas with lower population density. Over the tens of millenia, and in particular over the last ten millenia with the rise of agriculture, this has led to a substantial increase in the gradient of genetically adapted group cohesion between groups. Because these groups were not mixing, due to limitations in transport and barriers of language, natural adaptation to climate, as well as "xenophobia", this didn't immediately result in the destruction of the more individualistic populations.

However, with the rise of empires and resulting mixing of widely dispersed populations, it became a decisive factor in human evolution.

The original definition of "conspire" allowed more individualistic populations to talk about perceived patterns of behavior that were of vital interest to them, without taking on the burden of proof that there was some sort of conscious, secret Cabal behind the pattern. This burden of proof was advantageous to the unconsciously coordinated group organisms since it was, of course, impossible for the individualistic populations to bear in their attempts to come to grips with what was happening to them.

The most recent and stark example of this is in the mass rapes occurring in Germany where there is a "conspiracy theory" that the refugees acted in a conspiratorial manner to have some of them creating diversions while others engaged in rape of German women. There is no need to posit conscious intent on the part of the "rapefugees" and there is reason to believe they may be from populations more adept at group conflict -- unconscious warfare -- than others.

Comment The Other State Religion That Denies Evolution (Score 0, Troll) 510

There is another state religion that denies evolution. This religion is being taught in all public schools. This is so because it is also uniformly taught in higher education. It forms the central dogma of what are called "the social sciences". As anti-science, this religion is far more damaging than the "dinosaurs and man walked side by side" theocrats because it actually informs most of what we call "public policy" at the Federal level. It is exemplified by (though hardly limited to) the widely praised writings of Harvard professors Richard "Dick" Lewontin and Stephen Jay Gould who, together with other fellow travelers, attempted to get Edward O. Wilson ejected from Harvard because Wilson dared posit evolution might apply to signiicant aspects of human social behavior, as well as to that of other organisms.

Those who weren't around in the late 1970's watching all this might not be aware of exactly how virulent and organized -- let alone wrong-headed -- the attacks were.

But one thing is for certain: The dogma that human biodiversity is an insignificant consideration in the social sciences is under increasing attack by the scientific evidence and, at the same time, it is ever more influential on public policy.

So-called "creationism" as theocratic anti-science threat is a red-herring.

Comment Libel (Score 2) 532

It was circa 1979 when I ran head-long into the demand to remove anonymity as a system programmer for Control Data Corporation's PLATO network:

I was directed to remove the anonymous posting option of the precursor to Usenet: PLATO Notes.

The reason? Legal liability suffered by CDC for libel due CDC's lack of "common carrier" status under the FCC law of the time. A common carrier could not be held accountable for the contents of the information it carried.

When CDC refused to go mass market with PLATO, I accepted a position with a newspaper chain that had conducted a market test of something like PLATO notes for a metro area and found a huge demand. Although they figured out that their business as a newspaper would be endangered by opening up their network to permit everyone to provide content, the rationalization of "no common carrier status" was trotted forth with great facility.

Nowadays, with Facebook routinely censoring politically incorrect content by its users, and Facebook becoming a kind of de facto recentralization of control of the network effect for the masses, Facebook is actively pursuing a course of action that basically _asks_ to be sued for libelous posts by its users. It isn't hard to project this to ISPs when people use their internet connections for damaging ends -- particularly when you now have ISPs routinely "cooperating" with government and its propaganda arm via copyright enforcement on behalf of mass media.

I did anticipate some of this in the aforelinked 1982 essay as follows:

The question at hand is this: How do we mold the early videotex environment so that noise is suppressed without limiting the free flow of information between customers?

The first obstacle is, of course, legal. As the knights of U.S. feudalism, corporate lawyers have a penchant for finding ways of stomping out innovation and diversity in any way possible. In the case of videotex, the attempt is to keep feudal control of information by making videotex system ownership imply liability for information transmitted over it. For example, if a libelous communication takes place, corporate lawyers for the plaintiff will bring suit against the carrier rather than the individual responsible for the communication. The rationalizations for this clearly unreasonable and contrived position are quite numerous. Without a common carrier status, the carrier will be treading on virgin ground legally and thus be unprotected by precedent. Indeed, the stakes are high enough that the competitor could easily afford to fabricate an event ideal for the purposes of such a suit. This means the first legal precedent could be in favor of holding the carrier responsible for the communications transmitted over its network, thus forcing (or giving an excuse for) the carrier to inspect, edit and censor all communications except, perhaps, simple person-to-person or "electronic mail". This, in turn, would put editorial control right back in the hands of the feudalists. Potential carriers' own lawyers are already hard at work worrying everyone about such a suit. They would like to win the battle against diversity before it begins. This is unlikely because videotex is still driven by technology and therefore by pioneers.

The question then becomes: How do we best protect against such "legal" tactics? The answer seems to be an early emphasis on secure identification of the source of communications so that there can be no question as to the individual responsible. This would preempt an attempt to hold the carrier liable. Anonymous communications, like Delphi conferencing, could even be supported as long as some individual would be willing to attach his/her name to the communication before distributing it. This would be similar, legally, to a "letters to the editor" column where a writer remains anonymous. Another measure could be to require that only individuals of legal age be allowed to author publishable communications. Yet another measure could be to require anyone who wishes to write and publish information on the network to put in writing, in an agreement separate from the standard customer agreement, that they are liable for any and all communications originating under their name on the network. This would preempt the "stolen password" excuse for holding the carrier liable.

Comment Stellar Husbandry (Score 1) 412

TFA says: even advanced aliens wouldn't be able to build something capable of covering a fifth of a star in just a century

According to a stellar husbandry proposal you could cover 1/5 of a star with more than 1/2 inch of material (water density) at 1 astronomical unit radius.

([{1E22 * (kilo*gramm)} / year] * [{(4 * pi) * (au^2)} / 5]^-1) * ([1 * gramm] / [milli*liter])^-1 ? (centi*meter) / century
= 1.7779051 cm/century

Comment Re:Women+Boomers+Immigrants = "Labor Shortage" (Score 1) 729

I stand corrected. Let me rephrase that as "The Stupid Donor Party" since their policies are dominated by their donors in stark contrast to those held by their own base -- policies that are destroying their own base and replacing it with a base they cannot possibly win from the Elect A New People Party -- which has at least an illusion of "consent", however shallow, from its burgeoning base.

Comment Re:Women+Boomers+Immigrants = "Labor Shortage" (Score 1) 729

People don't want to be in debt because they have to pay interest -- which is a disincentive similar to a tax. The incentive you worry about is a wash.

Regarding retired persons: What is worse is the load placed on family formation by taxing their home equity because that reduces the total fertility rate of the middle class and leads to social collapse (as we've been seeing as a result of the mid-to-late Boomers whose total fertility rate was trashed by the exploding cost of replacement reproduction).

However, what you are ignoring is that all revenue is distributed in a citizen's dividend, aka unconditional basic income, that acts as an annuity asset for everyone.

The more parameters you put into a plan, the more it becomes an object of public sector rent-seeking aka porkbarrel aka special interest politics -- to log-roll those parameters. "General welfare" (in the Preamble to the Constitution) should mean just that -- no citizen benefits more, or less, than any other. Before you start adding things in like exemptions (I did include an exemption for bankruptcy-protected assets, such as homestead, in my 1992 white paper) you have to consider the horrors of political log-rolling.

Comment Women+Boomers+Immigrants = "Labor Shortage" (Score 5, Interesting) 729

The baby boom started increasing the supply of entry level labor about 1970.

Women's liberation started increasing the supply of entry level labor about 1970.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 started increasing the supply of labor (not just entry level) about 1970.

The Donor Party liked this because it lowered labor costs. Oh, did I say "Donor"? I meant "Republican".

The Elect A New People Party liked this because 2 of the 3 sources of new labor would vote to Elect A New People. Oh, did I say "Elect A New People"? I meant "Democratic".

So you have a huge influx of labor and this is interpreted as a "labor shortage" by both parties.

Combined with the fact that FDR's "New Deal", in effect, nationalized many of the functions previously performed by the labor unions -- turning the national border into a de facto picket line that, for example, that neoNazi Eisenhower enforced with "Operation Wetback" (deporting most of the illegal immigrants) -- and the labor movement effectively collapsed.

Elizabeth Warren, before she got conned into becoming a politician, was the only mainstream academic to come close to documenting even part of this. See her Jefferson Lecture titled "The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class.

Since 1992, I've been advocating replacing taxes on economic activity with what amounts to an insurance premium for the protection of property rights, and distributing the revenue in a citizen's dividend. In that white paper I predicted a lot of what has now come to pass as a result of centralization of wealth and burgeoning welfare state rent seeking.

Here is a link to a recent synopsis of that proposal.

Comment SRT Interpretation Comes Into Mainstream Question (Score 1) 239

The prevailing interpretation (not the validity) of Einstein's special theory of relativity definitions relating frame time (t) to proper time (tau):

d(tau) = dt - dr/c = invariant
dr = dx + dy + dz

will be challenged by a source that is regarded as "mainstream" by the STEM community. The new interpretation will not challenge the validity of these definitions, nor will the new interpretation be accepted as "mainstream physics" during 2016. However, due to the prominence of the challenger and the challenged, there will be a mild form of mass hysteria in the scientific community as well as media. The challenger will claim the hysteria is due to the disruptive implications to mainstream physics while the challenged will claim the hysteria is due to the appearance of a rare species of "crackpot" -- one with mainstream credibility. This controversy may well result in mainstream funding (NSF, etc.) to "debunk" the "cranks" during 2016 although, in mainstream discourse, spin may be placed on less aggressive terms to similar effect, due to the prominence of the challenger. The blogosphere will most decidedly not shy away from such invective.

Comment Libertarian Network Effect Tax (Score 0) 124

There needs to be a tax on network effects to replace taxes on economic activity.

Libertarians need to think more deeply here. The state of nature is one in which a natural person has de facto rights to fight for his survival — which includes not just his own personal survival but the right to sire and raise children to equally viable adulthood. When I use the word “fight” I mean it: Animals will fight for territorial access for the lives of themselves and their progeny. The Austrian and Lockean schools fail to recognize the situation which arises in nature when an animal is without the means of intergenerational sustenance, and the necessity of aggression in some of those situations. Civilization attempts to ignore this by proclaiming “property rights” as “natural” against “aggression”. This foolishness at the heart of these schools of thought renders them forever vulnerable to collectivists. The way out is trivially obvious: Follow Lysander Spooner’s definition of legitimate government as a mutual insurance company into which men voluntarily invest their natural rights in exchange for shares in and dividends from the company. The premiums paid for property rights take the place of taxes. The dividends (sometimes called "universal basic income" or "citizen's dividends") neutralize collectivism's bureaucratically controlled social welfare. The violation of this simple and obvious paleolibertarian construct sacrifices the bedrock principle of liberty upon which civilization is founded for the high purpose of becoming politically impotent against collectivists. Just look at the Presidental campaigns of Ron Paul and his son Rand.

As for socialists, all they need to do is find out who is responsible for ignoring Martin Luther King Jr’s final advice which was quite congruent with this paleolibertarian notion of natural rights investment being compensated by a race-blind dividend, rather than racial preferences such as affirmative action:

Socialists need to find out who is responsible for ignoring MLK’s advice, given just before his assassination, as a part of his "Poor People's Campaign" that attempted to be inclusive of the white working class. Socialists need to find out who -- and do whatever it takes to neutralize their power — and I mean whatever it takes.

I’d start with the Southern Poverty Law Center as they were an offshoot of the "Poor People's Campaign" and were, after MLK's demise, instrumental in diverting policy away from MLK's race-neutral basic income, and toward waging the war on the white working class's reaction to affirmative action's de facto race-based tax on that demographic group. If Sanders was serious about defeating Trump, he'd take this advice to heart and do it NOW.

An immediate transition to a paleolibertarian mutual insurance company would be too big a leap for existing institutions. An intermediate step would be to replace taxes on economic activity with a tax on the liquidation value of net assets owned by natural persons. This would take the place of Spooner's property insurance premium. By being on "liquidation value", this tax would fall most heavily on network effect profits and would provide the revenue for the unconditional basic income (as the proxy for the dividend payment to members of the mutual insurance company).

This would, by the way, also resolve the old conflict between the gold standard thesis and the central bank fiat antithesis, with a new monetary synthesis.

The liquidation value of legally recognized assets would provide the backing for the money supply. This provides all the counter-cyclical monetary control needed, and can get rid of much if not most of the government's bureaucracies (including much of the military if you follow the Swiss model of national security).

Slashdot Top Deals

It is much harder to find a job than to keep one.