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User Journal

Journal Journal: The Trolls 81

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 Journal: Falsifiability is the basis of science

Just one final clarification for you - keep in mind that my comments on error bars were musings on the falsifiability of global warming, from a philosophy of science perspective. [ShakaUVM]

That's quite a euphemism for repeatedly accusing scientists of failing to construct and test falsifiable theories, or accusing them of dishonestly claiming more knowledge than there is.


Now, I'd grown accustomed to 'spiritual'Â claims, and had decided to ignore them because they weren't falsifiable . ... I would like to see falsifiable evidence that they exist, rather than mere supposition. [emphasis added in all quotes] [Dumb Scientist]


My sense of duty to science stops here, unfortunately, so I can't falsify this hypothesis. [Dumb Scientist]


scientific theories have to make unique, falsifiable predictions. ... A metatheory has to be specific enough that it can be falsified entirely, though, otherwise it's not scientific. ... The Big Bang metatheory could be proven wrong by ... in the strictest sense his theory was falsified in the 1940s ... Evolution can also be falsified ... [Dumb Scientist]


... But don't include experimental data or unfalsifiable assumptions about parallel universes in order to account for fine-tuning of any physical constants ... [Dumb Scientist]


... presumably high-speed photography could falsify Chris's explanation. On the other hand, it's harder to falsify my hypothesis because ... [Dumb Scientist]


I agree that models which don't make falsifiable predictions are worthless. I've just never seen that happen in peer reviewed journals. [Dumb Scientist]


It's definitely falsifiable science, too. [Dumb Scientist]


My third piece of evidence is the concept of falsifiability. You see, a scientific hypothesis needs more than naturalism to be valid. It also needs to be falsifiable in the sense that an experiment (either real or gedanken) can be performed that will either support the theory or disprove it. Evolution, for example, is falsifiable in many different ways. ... any scientific theory proposes a naturalistic explanation for some feature of the world, and makes falsifiable predictions ... Because 'Intelligent Design'Â is not naturalistic and makes no falsifiable predictions, it not only isn't right, it isn't even wrong. ... it's clear that you think evolution produces no predictions and is not falsifiable. ... supernatural explanations are ... not falsifiable ... [Dumb Scientist]


But evolution as a whole just isn't comparable to an unfalsifiable concept like the Flying Spaghetti Monster or intelligent design. ... Evolution is falsifiable science, while intelligent design is a religious belief. [Dumb Scientist]


... evolution is only compatible with the evidence 'all life uses the same DNA,'Â which means evolution is falsifiable science and creationism is theology instead. [Dumb Scientist]


It's possible that abiogenesis happened several times, so finding two types of DNA wouldn't falsify evolution. ... evolution is falsifiable science. ... I've explored the idea that computer simulations can falsify evolution here. ... It's yet another way to falsify evolution. It wouldn't falsify creationism ... when did you offer these falsifiable predictions for creationism/ID? ... Please show me specific falsifiable predictions that could - in principle - falsify creationism/ID. [Dumb Scientist]


The word 'falsifiable' isn't applicable, because creationism/ID isn't science. ... that's my central point: creationism/ID isn't science because it's not falsifiable. Every time I mention this, you provide an example that could falsify evolution and claim that it's (somehow) a way to falsify creationism. [Dumb Scientist]


I'll note that too short a time between the bombardment and the first microbes could falsify evolution. ... it's one of the simplest ways to falsify evolution. ... they're not making falsifiable statements. When omnipotence (or omniscience, or any kind of supernatural power) is an acceptable answer, falsification is impossible because there's literally no limit to what an omnipotent being could do. [Dumb Scientist]


While I admire your attempt to adhere to the scientific method, I'm not sure that these examples constitute falsifiability in a rigorous sense. If every animal had different DNA bases, that would utterly demolish evolution. All of the predictions you're offering as falsifications merely seem to add a few more 'why'Â questions (as you say) to an already gigantic stack of 'why'Â questions that theologians have struggled with for centuries. [Dumb Scientist]


In science, nothing is ever proven true. Experiments might sometimes fail to falsify theories, but that's very different from being 'proven true.'Â [Dumb Scientist]


I don't know if you're discussing heresy or orthodoxy. All I'm saying is that you're discussing religion of some variety, not falsifiable science. [Dumb Scientist]


You say that as though my life's work isn't developing and falsifying hypotheses. ... [Dumb Scientist]


But, as I've stressed, creationism can't ever be refuted, because its inherently supernatural properties make it compatible with any potential discovery. On the other hand, I've listed two simple falsifications of evolution: chimpanzees in the Precambrian and many species with totally different DNA bases. ... Note that I'm not saying creationism is wrong! Quite the opposite! It's just not a scientific theory because it isn't falsifiable. [Dumb Scientist]


Scientific theories compete in the sense that every new observation either supports or falsifies them. ... [Dumb Scientist]


Science is falsifiable. It produces specific predictions. Creationism/ID doesn't. [Dumb Scientist]


That's what falsifiability means. There has to be some type of evidence which could, in principle, prove the theory wrong. I've linked to many many more tests in the conversation that list was taken from. [Dumb Scientist]


Evolution is thus falsifiable in that manner. Creationism can work either way, so it's not falsifiable and therefore not science. ... It's just not falsifiable, and therefore not a scientific statement. [Dumb Scientist]


And yet again, the distinction is that your belief can't ever be disproven because it's based on religious faith, whereas scientific theories have to be testable by definition. [Dumb Scientist]

... It's nice to see that we both agree on the core matter. ... [ShakaUVM]

No, the "core matter" here is that you're repeatedly and baselessly libelling an entire subfield of physicists, which I most certainly do not agree with, in any sense of the word.

Why do people insult scientists in this manner? It's like telling a plumber "Oh, come on... you don't really know the difference between a bathtub and a sink." Presumably, people wouldn't insult him by suggesting that he's fundamentally incompetent at his life's work. Maybe that's because plumbers carry big wrenches, while scientists carry calculators? [Dumb Scientist]

... the point of my original post above was to talk about the very paradox of verification and falsification in regards to climate science... which I think it seems you agree with. They are very problematic. [ShakaUVM]

This is the second time you've claimed that I agree with your bizarre misconceptions. Please stop. It wasn't true then, and it's not true now. As I've already discussed, some physics topics can seem very problematic if you spend your time (for instance) running a small business. That's why professional physicists spend that time doing physics and getting structured feedback from other physicists. As it turns out, experience and peer-review can help one tackle subjects which armchair quarterbacks might consider "very problematic." If that weren't true, then physicists probably would agree with you... but only if they could manage to stop muttering "f*ckin' magnets, how do they work?"

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ask Slashdot: Where's the bugtracker? 11

Where's the bug tracker for Slashdot? I'd like to be able to file bugs and feature requests.


  1. Link to posting journals is difficult to find. At one time, it was nearly impossible to click, because it was part of a page footer that retreated every time you got near it. (The page body was getting filled with more content as one got closer to the bottom.)
  2. List of all my old Journal Entries is difficult to find without already knowing the URL.
  3. Enable SSL by default
  4. Enable "Public Terminal" checkbox by default, or replace with a "Remember me" checkbox like everyone else has.
  5. For some reason, <ul></ul> doesn't work, and I had to switch these lists to <ol></ol>

Feature requests:

  1. Offer an explicit programmatic API for managing my user settings, so I can crosspost my blogs to my /. journal, and my 'microblog' statuses to my /. signature.
  2. Support conveniently tying my account to major single-sign-on providers who use OpenID and OAuth. Most places will allow me to click a nice, big icon to automate filling in the needed details.
  3. Support post convenience features most other social networking sites (hey, remember You were one of the first social networks on the market.) such as post-by-email, importing/exporting posts from/to some other popular sites/common APIs.

While some of the bugs have been fixed already, it'd have been a lot less grating if there was a good, visible way to report them and follow them as they got fixed.

The Internet

Journal Journal: Ghost Article: Tea Party Win Shake Up Net Neutrality

This ungrammatical ghost (either "win shakes" or "wins shake" would have been correct) was a clear duplicate of another story, so I knew it was doomed when I saw it.

Tea Party Win Shake Up Net Neutrality
Date: 11/04/2010
Original link:
Posted by CmdrTaco in The Mysterious Future!
from the tea-shake dept.

GovTechGuy found a story discussing the Republican and Tea Party congressional wins and what that means for Net Neutrality. Apparently most of the dems who signed the net neutrality pledge last week are now looking for work.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Engaged. 15

Today, I realized I hadn't told you guys I'm engaged.

I went to tell you, and found Slashdot journals down. I figured they didn't care, but turns out it was brought back up.

Anyway, yeah, I'm engaged to a lovely, smart and funny gal who was already into Linux and tabletop roleplaying when I ran into her. May 20th, 2012.

Not bad for a guy who spent his formative years on Slashdot.


Journal Journal: Ghost Article: BSA Inflate Their Piracy Losses 2

My guess is that this Monday-morning submission turned out to be a duplicate of something that came in over the weekend. But I haven't had a chance to check.

BSA Inflate Their Piracy Losses
Date: 09/20/2010
Original link:
Posted by CmdrTaco in The Mysterious Future!
from the thats-just-marketing dept.

superapecommando noted that Glyn Moody reckons
"The IDC numbers turn out to be reasonable enough, the conclusions drawn from them are not. Reducing software piracy will not magically conjure up those hundreds of billions of dollars of economic growth that the BSA invokes, or create huge numbers of new jobs: it will simply move the money around â" in fact, it will send more of it outside local economies to the US, and reduce the local employment. And it certainly won't do anything to ameliorate the quotidian problems of poorly-written software..."

User Journal

Journal Journal: Hey, I found the "write in journal" link! 8

Hey, for anyone who still reads this. Rosetta Code's doing awesome, content-wise, and we're starting to implement Semantic MediaWiki. (To what end? Not sure. I've got a couple ideas, but I'm more an opportunist than a front-end planner.) I've also been shooting a bunch of photos and putting them up online--even photos that aren't cosplay, if you can imagine that. (Which you probably can; I doubt many who read this were following me on Flickr back when I went to Anime Weekend Atlanta for the first time in 2007. If you want to read what I'm really thinking, either follow me on Multiply, or see the same stuff over on LiveJournal--but get your adblock armor up; it's a scary place. I'm also on Twitter, if you really care. I'm a minimal participant, really.

If I show up as a fan for you here, I do read your journals; the My Amigos RSS feed is still useful.

Why this collection of links to me at other places? Easy; I know there are still some of you here who never showed up in those other places, and I miss the interactions. I'd post my blogs here, too, but Slashdot has relegated itself to an incredible degree of backwater status. I was lucky to find the "Write in Journal" link. I'm tempted to find some Perl script to have it suck in blog posts via RSS, and post them to Slashdot. (That's how I'm inducting my blog posts into Facebook, too.)

I miss what this place used to be. I miss the people this place used to have. I still see some of them on two or three other social networks, and some of the bonds there are tighter than they ever were here, but there's still a bunch of you missing.


Journal Journal: Ghost Article: UK Government Refuses To Ditch IE6 1

I was expecting this one to resurface -- it disappeared right about the time Slashdot posted a big political story -- but it hasn't come back yet. I'm guessing it's a dupe of a story over the weekend, but I haven't had time to go searching.

Your Rights Online: UK Government Refuses To Ditch IE6
Date: 08/02/2010
Orig link:
Posted by CmdrTaco in The Mysterious Future!
from the good-plan-guys dept.

ChiefMonkeyGrinder writes
"The UK government has said it will not upgrade its departments computers from Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 because it would not be 'cost-effective'. A recent online petition posted to received 6,223 signatures that called for the 'Prime Minister to encourage government departments to upgrade away from Internet Explorer 6' due to its alleged vulnerability to attack, and because it requires web developers to specially craft sites to support the browser. This raises the question, what is the cost of an upgrade compared to a massive security breach?"


Journal Journal: Ghost Article: Black Hat Talk On China Cyber Army Pulled

This one was funny -- it was in red on the front page at the same time as the article that eventually posted for real, Talk On Chinese Cyber Army Pulled From Black Hat. Oops!

Black Hat Talk On China Cyber Army Pulled
Date: 07/15/2010
Orig link:
Posted by CmdrTaco in The Mysterious Future!
from the nobody-ever-talks-about-the-purple-hats dept.

itwbennett writes
"A talk that would have given conference attendees a unique profile of China's secretive government-sponsored hacking efforts has been pulled from the Black Hat schedule. Wayne Huang, one of the presenters of the talk and CTO with Taiwanese security vendor Armorize, said that he decided to pull the talk after vetting it with several organizations that had contributed intelligence and getting pressure from several places, both in Taiwan and in China. Huang wouldn't say who complained or why, but he said that by pulling the talk Armorize will be able to maintain its good relations with the Asian security community. 'We ran the materials by some key people and they were not happy with it,' he said."

User Journal

Journal Journal: Python isn't fast enough. No, really, it isn't. 1

People constantly say "Python is fast enough! If it's too slow, just throw hardware at the problem! GUI applications spend all their time waiting for user input anyway! And you can rewrite performance-critical sections in C!"

So why is it that, running Fedora on my netbook, I can tell -- with 99% accuracy -- which programs are written in C/C++ and which are written in Python?

There's a simple test. If, when I launch the program, nothing happens for up to a minute, then it's probably written in Python. If, when I click on a button in the program, it becomes completely unresponsive for up to five minutes before anything happens, then it's definitely written in Python.

Today's culprit is the SELinux Administration program. Unbelievably, mind-blowingly slow and unresponsive. This is not a good user experience. I don't care how much programmer time was saved by writing it in Python, or how beautiful the code is, or even how well it performed on the developer's high-end desktop monster -- what I care about is how much of my time is being wasted by twiddling my thumbs while this under-performing, over-rated slug of a language chugs away doing simple things inefficiently.

It's 2010. The future of computing is small, low-powered devices, optimised for portability and endurance rather than raw execution speed. I can't throw hardware at this problem. If Fedora wants to be widespread, it simply can't afford to go on like this, getting slower and slower as more and more core functionality is replaced with fundamentally slow code. It's time to start thinking about execution efficiency again, and -- in the absence of a high-performance Python interpreter -- that means Python is simply not an appropriate language for implementing core OS functionality like system configuration tools. If rewriting bottlenecks in C is good enough, then someone needs to start doing that, because right now they clearly aren't.


Journal Journal: Ghost Article: Man HIV-Free 2 Years After Stem Cell Treatment

The first Ghost Article in many, many months shows some strange behind-the-scenes SlashCode action. When I reload the original page URL, I get the generic "Nothing to see here, move along". But when I click on the "title" link, the one in the header before the comments section, the page that results has the full article title. It's not just echoing the text in the URL, either... otherwise it would say "Man HIV Free" instead of "Man HIV-Free". That implies that the ghost is still in the database... somewhere.

Man HIV-Free 2 Years After Stem Cell Treatment
Date: 26 Feb 2010
Orig link:
Title link:
Posted by kdawson in The Mysterious Future!
from the good-genes dept.

kkleiner writes

"According to a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine, a stem cell transplant performed in Germany has unexpectedly removed all signs of HIV from a 42-year-old American patient. The unnamed white male was treated two years ago for leukemia with a dose of donor stem cells, and his HIV RNA count has dropped to zero and remained there since. While the treatment was for leukemia, Dr. Gero Hutter and colleagues at the Charite Universitatsmedizen in Berlin had selected the stem cell donor for his HIV-resistant genes. While there are still many questions unanswered, this is the first such case of stem cells treating HIV that has been reported in a publication of the caliber of the NEJM."

User Journal

Journal Journal: Comcast trialling user usage statistic monitoring

In the final follow-up emails involved with fixing my Internet service, I asked for, and was provided with, specific references to usage caps and usage monitoring.

I have to say, with the addition of email and twitter support channels, their customer service has improved by leaps and bounds in the past three years I've been a customer.

User Journal

Journal Journal: D&D, pics, inspiration and scheduling philosophy

I happened across Pixdaus while following someone's friendfeed, and I subscribed to its RSS feed.

It's a fast, fast RSS feed, and it's difficult to keep up with. However, I've been trying...A lot of what I've been seeing in it has been giving me genuine inspiration for settings, encounters, props and even campaigns for D&D. That, along with a blog post I recently read where the DM's roleplaying the giggling of some minor monstors got her players greatly and emotionally engaged in the combat. Roleplaying monster sounds? Why didn't I think of that? That could give me something about the combat side of things that I could enjoy.

It's sparked my interest in DMing again, and I'm slowly assembling a campaign in my mind. The next step is finding players and a suitable environment; GrandLAN, for its rich perpetual presence of players, was normally too noisy or cramped for comfortable play. I'm tempted to do hold it in my basement, where I can use my TV and sound system for still imagery and auditory props, but then I've got to worry about who can make it and when.

I still think that a "regularly scheduled" game is a bad approach. You can either count on a schedule, or you can count on the presence of players. Not both. Also, having variable time between games offers more opportunity to prepare and ensure an enjoyable session. I don't have a need to kill time; Like anybody else, I have precious little of that already. I have a desire to enjoy the game.
User Journal

Journal Journal: The sorry state of calendar sync on Linux

All I want to do is synchronise my Google calendar with my computer, so I can read and add entries even when I don't have an internet connection. That shouldn't be so hard, should it?

Apparently it is.

Google's own Google Gears is read-only. Useless.

The only Linux calendar client that Google supports is Mozilla Sunbird. Yeah, the discontinued one. It does do CalDAV, but it's online-only; if I'm offline, the only way to get my calendar is to use the scary "EXPERIMENTAL!!!111" cache option, and that's read-only and buggy to boot. Useless.

Evolution supports CalDAV. Unfortunately, Evolution wants to take over my entire computer. I had to put in a fake email account before it would even let me look at the calendar options. The UI is frankly horrible. There is apparently no way to get rid of the irrelevant "task" pane; I can shrink it to take up no space, but then when I resize the window, all the extra space is given back to the task pane instead of to the calendar itself. It also insists on trying to add all new entries to the non-deletable "Personal" calendar, even though I have hidden this and set my Google calendar to be the default calendar. I'm not surprised it's useless, of course; all the development effort will be going into supporting Microsoft Exchange, in line with Novell's usual policy of preferring Microsoft lock-in over open standards.

KDE's calendar program looks quite nice. It supports all kinds of synchronisation options. Er... that is, apart from the single useful standard, CalDAV. The absence of which, people have been complaining about literally for years. Apparently they're waiting for opensync (aka Godot; see below). Or possibly something called Akonadi (Godot's little brother). It looks like someone else has recently got sick of waiting and started actually writing some code to fix this gaping hole, which is a pleasant surprise, but their project doesn't actually work yet. Good luck to them anyway.

So, what's left? There's a promising project called opensync that claims to be able to synchronise any sort of calendar I like. This sounds like exactly what I'm looking for! Oh, wait: the last stable release is ancient; the last couple of years have been spent completely breaking the whole API; the Google Calendar plugin is unmaintained and is broken even in the stable version; there is no CalDAV support at all. The current status report labels everything as either alpha-quality or totally broken. Good stuff. Enjoy gazing at your navels, opensync developers! I'm so glad you decided to rearchitect your project instead of making it useful.

Which leaves only one option: GCalDaemon. I refuse to touch this with a bargepole. Not because it's unmaintained, not even because it's written in Java, but because its developers seem to have been totally clueless, and I will not trust their code on my computer. They expect me to put user-specific configuration files under /usr/local/sbin? Um... no.

Never mind, I'll write my own. Sigh.

"Just think, with VLSI we can have 100 ENIACS on a chip!" -- Alan Perlis