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Comment Re:Subsidize the supply side (Score 1) 940

How in the hell is housing buying subsidized?

There are at least five major ways that "housing buying" is subsidized by government policy right now.

1. Home Mortgage Interest Deduction. This is a big one. A big fat sop to the "middle class" that knocks every home owner down a couple brackets of the income tax schedule. This one is so significant it drives "over" borrowing. The subsidy is paid in the form of interest on government debt accumulated by forgoing huge amounts of income tax revenue.

2. GSE backed loans. First time buyers and some subsequent purchases use GSE backed financing. That keeps down payments very low and interest rates low because the government backed GSEs are really carrying the risk. The subsidy gets paid in the form of bailouts when lenders fold.

3. Capital gains exemption; most sales of primary residences are exempt from capital gains taxes on money earned selling a home; that makes residential property very liquid. Without this people would move far less often due to the pain of capital gains taxes, and would therefore contribute less net demand. The subsidy is paid in the form of interest on government debt accumulated by forgoing this tax revenue.

4. Cheap money. The Fed, on behalf the the government, has been keeping our fake bubble economy propped up in part with near-zero interest rates since the debt bubble popped last decade. That's why anyone with a pulse can get a 30-year fixed at just over 4%. The subsidy is paid in the form of inflation.

5. Section 8 subsidizes $17 billion worth of purchases (not just rent) per year. Since all housing stock, rental or otherwise, is really part of the supply then one should also count Section 8 rental subsidy as well (another $20 billion per year.)

There are many, many lesser subsides as well (veterans programs, state subsidies, etc.), and I may have overlooked some other big ones.

Our real-estate bubble is public policy. You show me some part of the system where prices are spiraling up and I'll show you tax breaks and subsidies funding the buyers; health care and education are only the two other most obvious examples.

Submission + - Rust 1.0 released (

TopSpin writes: Rust 1.0 has appeared and release parties in Paris, LA and San Francisco are taking place today. From the Rust Programming Language blog; `Today we are very proud to announce the 1.0 release of Rust, a new programming language aiming to make it easier to build reliable, efficient systems. Rust combines low-level control over performance with high-level convenience and safety guarantees. Better yet, it achieves these goals without requiring a garbage collector or runtime, making it possible to use Rust libraries as a “drop-in replacement” for C.'

Comment Re:Snowball effect (Score 4, Insightful) 469

It's not a big mystery. Linus released a primitive kernel that worked, at the right time, with the right license, and then diligently kept rolling up contributions and releasing the result.

This is all true and important, but I think it's leaves out the really important part. Linus has good judgement in two critical areas; policy and people.

You and many others are correct about the timing, license and Linus's willingness to accept contributions without preconditions, and that part of it accounts for the early days. But it could have gone so wrong later and it didn't.

Had RMS been the shot caller Linux would be a curiosity today. People like him, while well intentioned, can't help but strangle babies in cradles in the name of their agenda. The kernel would be on GPL4 or 5 by now and about the only thing you might be able to use it for is a non-profit operation. The RMS mentality would have precluded set-tops, portables (binary blobs, DRM, etc.) the cloud and many other use cases. The best case would have been "for-profit" forks and then decline.

Also, Linus doesn't suffer fools. Over the years there have been contributors that, while possessing some talent, were destructive to the process. Linus has reliably kicked them to the curb and kept them from ruining Linux development. It's a simple, unfortunate truth; some people don't play well with others and if they get a foothold in something they ruin it.

These two aspects of Linus, good and firm judgement about policy and people, have ultimately been the most important because failure of either would have killed Linux long ago regardless of the early enthusiasm. That one person embodies the drive, talent and judgement to take Linux this far while protecting it from the bad ideas and fools that prevail is a small miracle.

Comment Re:Politics (Score 1) 157

Believe it or not, it use to be even more political, and even more radical.

Sorry no. The big political controversies did not appear on the front page as often, but more importantly the herd of really hate-filled left wing million+ UID types didn't exist here "back in the day."

The sea change probably started in 2000; Bush v Gore. You can see the history. In 2000, the "U.S. Supreme Court Issues Election Ruling" got just 438 comments despite the huge political significance and near-constitutional crisis that event represented. None of the Bush v. Gore stories got more than 1500, and the most popular was a story on statistics and ballot design.

Yet only a few years later in 2004 "Kerry Concedes Election To Bush," we find the most active story ever; 5000+ comments.

The herd had arrived!

As the site attracted more and more "SJW" types and political stories became more frequent Taco created in 2004 — a full seven years after he created the site — in a deliberate attempt to segregate it. It's worth thinking about the subject he wrote: Slashdot Goes Political: Announcing

And here we are today; political controversies are the most popular stories and people with 7 digit UIDs claim to be "originals".....

Comment Misunderstood (Score 3, Interesting) 255

ESR's claim has nothing to do with the frequency or discovery of bugs. All he says is that given enough observers, bugs are quickly characterized. It is implied that any given bug has already been discovered. There is no benevolent cohort of experts continuously auditing code bases and his statement doesn't claim there is.

Submission + - After Negative User Response, ChromeOS To Re-Introduce Support For Ext{2,3,4}

NotInHere writes: Only three days after the large public has known about ChromeOS to disable ext2fs support for external drives, and linux users voiced many protests on websites like reddit, slashdot, or the issue tracker, the ChromeOS team now plans to support it again. To quote Ben Goodger's comment:"

Thanks for all of your feedback on this bug. We’ve heard you loud and clear.

We plan to re-enable ext2/3/4 support in immediately. It will come back, just like it was before, and we’re working to get it into the next stable channel release."

Submission + - Academic Journals are too Expensive For Harvard (

TopSpin writes: From the Guardian; Harvard University has sent a memo to the university's 2,100 teaching and research staff encouraging them to make their research freely available through open access journals and to resign from publications that keep articles behind costly paywalls. The memo from Harvard's faculty advisory council said major publishers had created an "untenable situation" at the university by making scholarly interaction "fiscally unsustainable" and "academically restrictive", while drawing profits of 35% or more. Prices for online access to articles from two major publishers have increased 145% over the past six years, with some journals costing as much as $40,000, the memo said.

Comment Not really true? (Score 4, Interesting) 108

The link that supposedly refutes the argument that people are paying for things they wouldn't otherwise pay for doesn't actually refute anything. Rather, it characterizes the current situation as "socialism"; "Cable TV is socialism that works."

I do not want to contribute to ESPN. Nor the myrid "shopping" channels. Or the "Christian" networks. Or any of the other dreck that pollutes this world. Even if that means the things I do want aren't as well subsidized for the lack of fuhtbawl knuckle-heads.

Whatever.... I can't remember how long ago it was that I last paid a cable bill. My vote has been cast. Join me and cut these bloodsuckers off. You won't miss it.

Submission + - Silicon Valley has created an imaginary staffing shortage (

walterbyrd writes: As longtime researchers of the STEM workforce and immigration who have separately done in-depth analyses on these issues, and having no self-interest in the outcomes of the legislative debate, we feel compelled to report that none of us has been able to find any credible evidence to support the IT industry's assertions of labor shortages.

Submission + - STEM worker shortage is IT industry fantasy ( 1

Tailhook writes: Ron Hira, professor of public policy at Howard University and Paula Stephan is a professor of economics at Georgia State University; `As longtime researchers of the STEM workforce and immigration who have separately done in-depth analyses on these issues, and having no self-interest in the outcomes of the legislative debate, we feel compelled to report that none of us has been able to find any credible evidence to support the IT industry's assertions of labor shortages.' — `there is a remarkable concurrence among a wide range of researchers that there is an ample supply of American workers (native and immigrant, citizen and permanent resident) who are willing and qualified to fill the high-skill jobs in this country. The only real disagreement is whether supply is two or three times larger than the demand.'

Comment Re:Cecil Kelley (Score 2) 299

As far as I am aware the highest radiation dose

Naturally the `record' must be limited to the subset of known cases. I've been studying the history of Soviet nuclear science and industry for a few years. Things went on in the Soviet Union that beggars the imagination, as they say.

When the waste storage tank blew up in Mayak in 1957, 90% of the high level waste fell in the immediate vicinity. That's 90% of 740 PBq (740E15 decays per second) within about half a kilometer radius, in which there were certainly some number of workers, this being the most urgent period of nuclear weapons development.

There were criticality accidents at Mayak that killed people as well; the Review of Criticality Accidents (2000) mentions seven incidents at Mayak and eight at other Soviet sites.

Then there is Chernobyl. Shortly after the explosion soldiers on the grounds of the plant policed up pieces of graphite and other debris, including fuel, from the reactor core with simple tools, bare hands and no respiratory protection [1]. They were breathing particles of heavy metal isotopes so "hot" that they floated through the air on their own thermal output like little balloons. They were treated as military casualties and their numbers are not publicly known.

The worst case of radiation exposure took place in the Soviet Union. We do not know the circumstances, how severe it was, how many it killed, when or where it happened, but that it did is a metaphysical certitude.

1. The Legacy of Chernobyl, 1992 Medvedev

Comment Re:coding standards (Score 4, Informative) 664

This should be rule number one for this type of application.

Perhaps it should be rule number one, but actually it's Rule 16.2 of MISRA-C:2004 (Motor Industry Software Reliability Association, Guidelines for the use of the C language in critical systems):

Functions shall not call themselves, either directly or indirectly.

The rule actually appeared first in MISRA-C:1998. Each rule is accompanied by a detailed rationale that I will not reproduce verbatim here as the standard is not open; one must pay for the privilege. The rationale for 16.2 is that recursion may cause stack overflows. I only cite the rule itself because it appears in public testimony and also on the (first) page linked by this story ...... which you obviously did not read.

Because MISRA also disallows constructs such as function call indirection, self modifying code, etc. a compiler is entirely capable of detecting recursion and reporting the violation as an error. MISRA compliant compilers do exactly that.

Yes Virginia, the largest auto manufacturer on Earth ignores the very thing that was designed to prevent simple, common, easily predictable failures such as stack overflow despite the fact that the cost of compliance is much, much smaller than a rounding error for an outfit like Toyota.

Also, despite the fact that Industry dutifully identified this specific problem in a published standard at least 16 years ago, compliance is apparently not yet a requirement by government regulators. I suspect they're too busy investigating child seat manufacturers or Telsa batteries or whatever other politically high profile crisis that giant, engineer-free gaggle of NTSB lawyers fill their bankers hours with.

Be careful when a loop exits to the same place from side and bottom.