Just because you can sneak into the theater doesn't mean you should. Sure if you need a quick peak inside the tent I would imagine NY times is happy to have you interested in their added value news products. They do have a fairly reasonable policy of 10 free articles per month. And in doing that they leave themselves open to the work around you suggest. Would you recommend they discontinue that nice porous paywall because of cretons like you? The good news for them is you are not really their customer and you still get to see their advertisements while you gloat over your cleverness.
I'm all for acceptable ads and acceptable tracking, afterall we all liked the benefit we got from durable cookies in the early pre-cancerous stages of the internet. that sort of tracking is not inherently bad by itself. But then it metastisized and it became neccessary to block it. So yay for ad blockers.
But that just becomes an arms race. So enter "acceptable ads" in which certain ads are allowed in hopes of creating a viable not escalating equilibrium where the commercialization model of the internet is not soley based on pernicious forms of advertising. I don't know if this new equilibrium can be forced but as the new york times demonstrated the tracking and targeting consumes at least 1/3 of the web bandwidth we pay for, so it's worthy just to check that aspect.
But when it becomes commercialized like ad block or ghostery one feels like it's a symbiotic parasite. It leaves you vulnerable to smaller subset of actors who did nothing more than pay to have access to you, the meat being sold by ghostery and ad block. it's like paying off the somali pirates or highway robbers to let coiaches pass. I became the product. yet at the same time it gives me a free benefit.
Should I like this tapeworm that helps me shed unwanted pounds of bandwidth destroying ads and infective tracking systems? At the moment, the answer is there is no other answer.
Either way, letting in the big corp. ads deemed acceptable-for-cash or going nuclear on all ads indiscimiately, ultimately narrows the information I get.
However in one case, it limits which ads I see, and in the other it limits the profitability of sites trying to make a living with ad based bussiness models. I'd not want to choke off the free content I get, just to see fewer ads.
I think think acceptable ads, as competition heats up for the service will let me pick gate keepers that force advertisers not to chew up my bandwidth or "excessively" track me.
Legacy? come on. how about License regulated taxi drivers lawyer up against illegal gypsy cabs.
Despite my claim that it may have been an accident of optimization I do have an alternative theory. I imagine that the VW designers got up against a deadline. Perhaps the above referenced possibility of an optimization error had actually led them down the wrong track to a point were it was too late, things were tooled, people trained etc... Have to forge ahead. So plan B becomes, well let's fake it to buy some time to build the right engine. they already know how to fake it since they had managed to fool themsleves. So they go big, boast of clean deisel and then try to make the engine achieves that. When they find they can't they have a problem. If they put in the new engine it would be clearly worse than the old engine and that would bring scrutiny. And for some reason they figure, well no one noticed to maybe we can just keep pushing this out longer till the next round of emission laws gives us cover for a change of engine.
The mantra of optimization is you get what you optimize for. It's amazing how that seemingly innocuous phrase is something every person doing optimization has at some point been bitten in the ass by at least twice. Once when you do something stupid as you are learning and once later when the optimization produces some completely perplexing result leaving you in awe of the power of that mantra.
There was likely no conspiracy precisely because of the difficulty of maintaining the conspiracy at this scale. A much simpler explanation is that they had the system train itself. There's no reason to leave out certain features in the input vector so all the sensors go in. The car learns that when there's no frequent steering input and the cost function is dominated by emissions then you minimize the emissions. And later on the test track, where there is no emissions term in the cost function, the car learns to anticipate accelerations when there is steering input, so the cost function optimizes for performance and fuel economy not emissions. and so on.
One can see how this could happen so easily. And even if one group thought about it they didn't control the whole cost function and were exploring one part of it. Component manufacturers might notice this too but assume it's fixed in the full system. indeed one report said that there was some internal review of some odd issues.
But if you aren't expecting this and you are relying on the model training to integrate many different team testing one can see how this could accumulate.
It's also easy to see how this could even be seen and not noticed. For example, shutting down emission controls and air conditioning and other things is completely the norm in perfromance tuning. When you stomp on your accelerator the clutch in your Air conditioner disengages to give more power. THe exhaust gas recrculator shuts off. You want those things to happen, just as you want the turbo to kick in before you need it and to kick out when it won't be needed. Thus cars that anticipate these changes rather than wait for then feel much more responsive yet can get much better emissions and fuel milage.
But one can see that these traits could accidentally "cheat" when ever two different optimization features come into conflict.
I get so frustrated with people always having to analyze their datasets in some "app" and having a hell of a time sorting data in some special way, computing non-canned statistics in R, or just all the other ad hoc things that happen daily that the app maker never could have anticiapted. For sysadmin tasks a well tested perl script is so much more visible about what is happening than an app. I like flat files instead of data bases for the same reason. But I can see the virtue in these--keeps things nice and neat- just not very visible and hard to port or provision without some other app tha tknows how to do it.
Retirement means that when someone says "Have a nice day", you actually have a shot at it.