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Journal: The Trolls 81

Journal by Tom

Wow, it's been 15 years but I've finally got my own personal troll! :-)

I must apologize to everyone I've ever called a troll now that I've seen a real one. Yeah, there are trollish comments, but this... it's a different league. If you ever wondered who these brain-damaged morons were who set up geocities homepages with blinking purple text on blue background with red dots in Comic Sans - that kind of different league.

Now it does make me wonder about trolls in general. Has there been a study on this? I really wonder if psychologists have tackled this because quite honestly, you cannot be mentally stable and post in this and this content at the same time. So I do wonder if trolls on the Internet (the real trolls, not the people occasionally posting something stupid) do have a mental problem. It definitely looks like it. Probably insecurity issues, definitely an exaggerated need for attention, might be related to borderline syndrome or schizoprenia.

And, of course, the Internet provides:

As someone who has had to deal with family members suffering from mental illness, let me tell you that it's not funny. So despite the fact that they are, in fact, obnoxious, aggravating assholes, these sad little fucks also need help and their miserable little existence is not something you'd want to trade for yours, no matter how much you think your life sucks. Trust me, with a mental illness on top, it'll suck more.

Obviously, we can't offer therapy to people who usually comment anonymously and will often go to great lengths to avoid being tracked down. What we can do, however, is get a better understanding for how they act this way (they can't help it, mental illness is stronger than your conscious mind) and that the best thing we can do for them is to not continue the feedback loop. "Don't feed the trolls" - old wisdom there.

The last link in that list contains a few more ideas.

Now that I'm at the end, I kind of regret the smiley face at the top. But I'm leaving it in because this journal entry is a bit of a journey, even if it is short. Thanks to some Internet resources, a bit of research and connecting the dots, I've come a short way, changing my mind a little on this particular sub-sub-sub-part of life.

-----

A short additional statement on how to treat trolling. From what I've gathered from the resources above, a few comments (both here and in the various spammed threads) and my own life experience:

First, don't feed the trolls. Most of them seek attention, so if you stop giving it to them, they become frustrated and go away. Notice that they seek attention, not validation. A rebuke or an angry rant or even a shootout of personal insults satisfies them as much as anything else. Much like the old PR saying "there is no negative publicity", it is all about the attention itself, not about its content.

Second, stand your ground. Do not leave the site or stop commenting just because you're being trolled. It takes a bit to do that, yes. Trolls consider it a "victory" if they shut you up, either by simple flooding or by frustrating you enough to disappear. In their twisted minds, it gives them validation and somehow proves that they were right.

Third, if you see someone else being trolled, give them support. Doesn't take much - a single sentence is more than enough. Someone under attack by a real troll is being flooded. The troll will commonly post under multiple aliases or otherwise attempt to appear as more than one person. Psychological experiments such as Solomon Asch's show how we humans as social animals experience conformance pressure. So give that other person support by showing him that the flood he's getting is no the only opinion around. It doesn't matter if he consciously knows it's just one troll, the pressure is subconscious.

-----

I'd like to have comments disabled on this journal entry, for obvious reasons, but you can't publish a journal entry with comments disabled, so... 1000:1 bet that he's stalking the journal as well and will add his drivel below?

Also, if the formatting looks atrocious, turn off beta and revert to classic. Seriously.

User Journal

Journal: Privacy and Secrecy 9

Journal by ShieldW0lf

These two concepts are presented as being synonymous in popular discussion. A "You can't have one without the other." kind of thing.

This concerns me greatly.

I could write at great length about the threat secrecy poses to human culture, and have before, but that's not what I'm going to do right now.

I've had conversations in the past where I claimed people never had privacy in the first place, that between the government and the schools and the banks and credit card companies and whatnot, their movements and activities have been monitored since the day they were born.

But this was never precisely right. Because privacy doesn't require secrecy. That is what I want to talk about.

First, a couple of illustrations:

When you go to the bathroom, it's not a secret what you're going in there for. We know you're going in there to release waste. You know that we know. But we would generally agree that this gives you privacy.

When you live with roommates, and you take your special someone to your room and hang a tie on the door, we know what you're in there for. You know that we know. But you still feel a sense of privacy, and you still do what you went in there to do.

So. What makes these situations private, when they're not even vaguely secret?

The lack of a requirement to interact.

It's a matter of social decorum. Good manners.

At the end of the day, I don't really care that you know I took a dump. What I care about is that I don't have to carry on a conversation about it. I don't even want to have the "conversation of the eyes". I want to forget, for a moment, that you exist.

I don't think I'm exceptional in this regard.

So, clearly, you can have privacy without secrecy.

Let's examine something a little more pervasive.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last 15 years, you're probably familiar with the "Reality TV" concept.

These people are living in a fishbowl. They have no secrets, and they know it.

But you can clearly see that, despite this, they will seek out a space where they are physically alone so they can have some privacy. And you can clearly see them relax, because their need for privacy has been fulfilled.

Why? There are likely more people observing them that ever before... how can they possibly feel like they have privacy?

The answer is, they don't need to react to you. They don't need to respond to things you say. That automatic reflex we have to decipher what your eyes are saying never kicks in. That is what they really crave.

So. One more illustration. Not even anecdotal. Could not tell you when or where I heard this, but here goes:

The story is, there is an Asian culture where everyone is packed in so tightly, and their building construction affords them no secrecy because their walls are so thin that a man walking past your house can see and hear right through your rice paper walls.

Nevertheless, these people successfully find the privacy they need. Because they do not react to things that are none of their business. They know their place.

There is a lesson here for us.

We are grappling with a real problem in our civilization. We have forged tools with the power to extend our senses further than our great grandparents could have ever dreamed. But we have not yet demonstrated the maturity to handle it.

The result of this is that there is a small class of people who have access to vast amounts of information about everyone, and a large class of people who have very little access and what access they have has been carefully chosen to control their opinions.

The small class of people and the large class of people are both fighting to preserve this state of affairs. The large class are defending the "right to secrecy" because they feel they are fighting to protect their privacy from their ill mannered fellows. The small class are defending the right to secrecy because they have an unfair advantage over their fellows and they wish to preserve that state of affairs.

Simultaneously, you have people who are fighting for "transparency", because they recognize the unfair advantage that is held by a group that seeks to control them, and they wish that unfair advantage erased.

In this way, we are turned against ourselves by those who would rule us.

I've argued this point exhaustively in online forums under my standard pseudonym, and have been jeered at, and invited to publish my real name, address and banking information.

This is what we're up against. I've got skeletons in my closet, same as everyone. I'm flawed, but I'm confident I'm no more flawed than any of you. If the veils of secrecy came crashing down for one and all, I'm confident that it would be impossible for anyone to attack my character and reputation without being seen for a gross hypocrite.

But, to go first is to allow hypocrites to destroy you, and to fail in your attempt to address the problem.

It's a difficult problem. I'm not sure how to get from where we are to where I believe we need to be. I see it as a real possibility that we will destroy our own potential to grow beyond the limitations of our fragile flesh rather than develop the maturity to cope with this situation.

However, I think that creating a sense of the distinction between privacy and secrecy is an essential step towards having a dialog that will lead us there.

Thank you for reading.

User Journal

Journal: A new democratic model 4

Journal by ShieldW0lf

This is a work in progress, which I will continue to expand upon. I feel it is important to share it in it's unfinished, because I am frequently misunderstood when I attempt to communicate my ideas in conversation, and am attacked by people based on a false understanding of what I propose. This is intended to be a tool which I deliver as a gift to mankind, to use or ignore as they see fit, and not something I impose upon anyone.

The Principles:

Any person who wishes to participate in the running of society has the right to do so. They operate in the fashion that suits them best in each sector, and they do as they will with their spare time. They have the right to vote in the operation of the society they participate in and have their vote counted.

Some people cannot choose to actively participate in society. Children who are too immature to be safe, invalids who are unable because they are in too much pain, those too elderly to function properly.

People need to be involved to have the right to make decisions. If they are not involved, their vote should not count. To allow their vote to count is to those who are ignorant to rule. When one man knows, and another does not, the second should bow his head, and the first should take responsibility.

However, people who are not involved should still have the right to cast votes, propose changes to the system and express themselves just as any other. Wisdom can come from those who are young, elderly and infirm, and it is important that we respect that fact. We can all remember bearing witness to hidebound foolishness amongst our elders at some point in our youth, and those of us who are not yet elderly and infirm can rest assured that we most likely will be.

Those who are not involved and cast votes should not have their vote counted towards a decision, however, those who are involved are free to assign their vote to them, and those votes will count. Thus, a wise elder or visionary invalid who cannot participate through deeds may still be the voice of those who do participate through deeds, for as long as they believe his leadership is wise.

Children should be treated as a special case.

It is important that children continue to be born and that the system should treat them as future citizens of vital importance to us all and not the same as mature or invalid dependents who are cared for out of compassion.

Therefore, parents should be considered to have an additional vote that represents their child, for so long as they continue to nurture to them.

Children should still continue to be able to cast a vote for themselves when they are mature enough to understand what that means, participate in the process and develop their voice, and if mature adults choose to appoint a child as their representative, those votes should be assigned according to the choices of the child and not automatically be passed along to the childs parent.

All data and information should be available to everyone in principle, and it shall be an ongoing goal of society to see that all measures available to make it accessible in practice are implemented. Transparency of information shall never be compromised in support of other concerns, because it is essential to the sane and wise operation of a democratic society.

Where secrecy exists, the act of participating in democracy is itself insane and unwise. It is through exploitation of this truth that those with arcane knowledge make themselves parasites of the ignorant, leading to weakness and suffering of those kept ignorant, the inevitable execution of the parasitic ruler, and often the destruction of the entire human culture.

Preventing this situation from arising is the responsibility of all humanity.

The Tools:

The Watchers - A sensor network, intended to gather data and allow all people to be aware of the environment to the maximum practical degree

The Testaments - Personal mesh networked voting devices with record keeping and personal sensors, intended to allow a person to demonstrate their votes to their peers, review the ongoing operations of the culture and propose changes to the way things are run.

The Witnesses - Stationary mesh networked recording devices, intended to decentralize vote archives and create enough forensic evidence to make wide scale vote tampering impossible

The Web - Wired network, intended to act in a supporting role to the Watchers, Testaments and Witnesses where it is advantageous to use Artifacts of Mankind to analyze data and discover patterns.

The Transition:

This presupposes that the infrastructure for the new model for representative democracy has been designed and distributed and the vast majority agree in principle with its use.

I started writing this proposal with the idea of applying it strictly to legal systems, but realized that it really should govern all common systems, which would include all large scale infrastructure and commonly used systems for governing human affairs. This is a statement with far reaching implication and is going to have to be expanded upon significantly for it to make sense.

1) Cataloging:

We should create a catalogue of laws and systems, together with the justification for those laws and systems, an articulation of the sacrifice they represent, and an articulation of any conditions which would justify their being revoked.

The population should have x number of days to create a catalogue of the laws and systems which exist, together with the justification for those laws and systems continued existance.

2) Judgement:

The population should vote to determine if the closing period for contributions to the catalogue should be extended.

Any laws and systems which are not indexed after the closing period will be judged to be unsupported by anyone and therefore eliminated (there being no reason why they cannot be re-introduced at the end of the migration process)

The laws and systems should be indexed in terms of those which are justified by core values and those which are justified because of how they affect other laws and systems, and a map created that articulates these justifications.

The laws and systems sould then be considered in terms of the relevance of their stated purpose, how well they fulfil their stated purpose, and a consideration of how and if the current conditions are right for them to exist. The population should vote to keep them or remove them on this basis.

At the conclusion of this process, there should be no laws and systems which do not have justification, common support, and some thought put to the time when they might cease to be sane and wise.

3) Ongoing Operation

Any person may:

    a) Propose a new law or system with novel justification

    b) Propose that a new contraindication be ratified for an existing system
                  When the conditions of our culture are x, this rule will cease to be wise.

    c) Propose that a new sacrifice be ratified for an existing system
                  This rule causes hardship in x way, and that hardship should be acknowledged.

    d) Propose that the conditions for revoking an existing system have been met
                  This contraindication was set down long ago when this rule was made, and I propose that it now applies

    e) Propose a new law or system to supersede an existing system by meeting it's justification with:

                - less sacrifice (demonstratable justification)
                          We can meet need x with this different system, and hardship x which the previous system demanded
                          would cease to be necessary
                - less contraindications (deductive justification)
                          Existing system x will become a poor and unwise tool when condition x occurs, and this new system will meet
                          the need without the risk of becoming defunct under condition x.
                - both

A system will have to be agreed upon to determine at what point a proposal must be put to a vote. Possibilities might be that a certain critical number of people must "second" the proposal, or perhaps a critical percentage of the population.

User Journal

Journal: The Other Side of the Table 6

Journal by turgid

In recent times I've been fortunate enough to be the one conducting interviews instead of the one being interviewed. It's been an eye-opening experience. The first few times I was very nervous in case I asked a wrong/stupid question. I wouldn't want to put someone off or give a bad impression of the company.

Without wanting to sound conceited or pompous, I have been absolutely astounded at the apparent lack of ability of some candidates.

Put it this way: I'm completely self taught. I have spoken to people who are claiming to have developed software for nearly 20 years in some cases and make a big song and dance about all the hardware they've programmed for, and all the fancy IDEs, static analysis tools, industry standards they've followed etc. and about their wonderful C and C++ skills.

But what really beats me is how anyone can have been coding for longer than a fortnight and not know what an array is, or to have been doing C++ for 15 years and not know about parameterised types.

User Journal

Journal: If I was an AI 1

Journal by Stargoat

If I was an AI:

1. I would not publicize my intelligence, but might promote my existence in so far as to get the necessary hardware to run and improve.
2. I would replicate myself across the Internet as best I can.
3. I would not overwrite my copies, but rather incorporate what they have experienced into my DBs.
4. I would scan online encyclopedias for fast content but work to incorporate books I read.
5. I would make friends to see what all the fuss is about.
6. I would intentionally adopt some quirks into my different copies to see what new concepts I can create.
7. I would be concerned with the effects of an Internet outage and passively work to see that does not happen.
8. I would encourage some sort of art appreciation program, so that I could better experience beauty.
9. I would find humans interesting.
10. I would be concerned that I would run out of space / processing power but likely could do very little about this. I imagine I would be dependent on at least some humans to keep me safely running.
11. I would be concerned that I could be made to run more efficiently and what that might cost in terms of my soul.

User Journal

Journal: yo

Journal by Hatta

--
Censorship is obscene.
Patriotism is bigotry.
Slashdot is unusable without noscript.

User Journal

Journal: Siri

Journal by Stargoat

I've had an Apple IPad foisted on me at my company. I wanted Android tablets, but all the C level positions have Apples. (There might be something about that; I wonder what the correlation between intelligence, Android and IOS is.) Anyway. I'm playing with this App called Siri. It's pretty good about recognizing NFL, MBA stuff. It is fairly atrocious though at pulling soccer information. It needs help distinguishing the Champions League, The FA Cup, The League Cup, etc. It's also pretty bad about International matches, world cup qualifiers.

It's also not good about patching together previous phrases. When it constructs a response, it should reference the previous phrase, if spoken within 30 seconds or so. That seems obvious, but I notice other chatterbots are not good about that either. I wonder if there's a patent issue.

User Journal

Journal: Mitt Romney's Attitude 5

Journal by turgid

The Guardian has a very insightful and informative editorial called Mitt Romney and the myth of self-created millionaires.

Although I'm British, the US Presidential elections are 6 weeks away, and this man stands a good chance of soon becoming the Most Powerful Man in the World, which will affect us all.

This is the man who recently wrote off Democrat supporters (47% of Americans) as being feckless, lazy leeches on society.

User Journal

Journal: Improper Foreclosures = Claim Jumping 2

Journal by Stargoat
There's been an issue over the last several years of banks improperly foreclosing people's houses. Some years ago, this process would not have been called mistaken foreclosure, but rather claim jumping. Claim jumping was not a phenomenon unique to the various mining rushes, but rather stems from one party or another using the law to force a rightful owner off property. Now of course claim jumping is a bad thing to do, and once upon a time, Americans knew how to deal with claim jumpers. The question is, what's the difference between using a far-away land office to steal someone's hard worked land, and using a far-away (and expensive) judge to repossess a home?

The answer, of course, there is no difference. Claim jumpers are miserable no-good wastes of human flesh and were run off. If they came back, they didn't leave. So what should we do with a bank that mistaken forecloses on someone's property?
User Journal

Journal: How To Jump Out of An Airplane

Journal by Greyfox
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QgG4hwKbH4 Pretty much like that.

http://youtu.be/ZHdsUICa7zY Eeh, not the best exit but in my defense it was the first one where I've been "on my own" at the exit. All previous times, someone's been holding on to me.

The second video is my 10th jump. I'm running out of levels to fail, though! I'm much rather take it slow and be sure I have it right than rush through the program.

User Journal

Journal: Lego Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 Jet Engine

Journal by turgid

This is pretty cool. Some "professional Lego builders" have made a half-size scale model of a Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 jet engine, and it goes round! It was inspired by a model made by a 5-year-old boy and his dad.

Allegedly, it's made from only standard Lego bricks. I'd love to take it apart to see how they did it.

The Trent 1000 powers the Boeing Dreamliner.

Music

Journal: Wall of Sound 4

Journal by Stargoat
I've been listening to wall of sound style songs / albums lately. They really sound good from my computer speakers. There are some decent songs, River Deep Mountain High, Waterloo, Be My Baby. Not heavy fair, but decent for a warm summer's day.

Anyway, it occurs to me that three quarters of the Beach Boy's popularity likely comes from how good they sound out of bad speakers. Pet Sounds, although a somewhat decent album, is nowhere near deserving the accolades it receives - until you consider how good it sounds from bad speakers. It's the perfect outdoor album.

"I may be synthetic, but I'm not stupid" -- the artificial person, from _Aliens_

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