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Journal: These are the things in my head at night 7

Journal by Daniel Dvorkin

Then-PFC, now-SGT Bergdahl may in fact have deserted his post. There are certainly credible accusations to that effect, and if so, then he should be tried and convicted for the crime. But it's a whole lot easier to investigate those charges with him here, and we don't let the Taliban mete out justice for us.

The military idea of "taking care of your own" has a lot of different aspects. Holding the line and leaving no one behind are obvious; less obvious, perhaps, is that our people are ours. Loon or no, deserter or no, even traitor or no, whatever else Bowe Bergdahl may be he is someone who raised his right hand and took the oath, and that means that whatever reward or punishment he receives is ours and ours alone to give.

It astonishes me sometimes, having at this point been out of the service several more years than I was in it, how strong and pure those ideas still are in my head: how much "us" the profession of arms still is to me, and I suppose always will be. I'm a civilian and happy to be one now, but both the infantryman and the medic are still very close to the surface. The latter is concerned mainly with bringing back the wounded--and the former is ready, willing, and perhaps even eager to kill anyone who stands in the way of that mission.

Whatever else we did, whatever else we may do, we had to bring him home.

User Journal

Journal: Lies, damned lies, and ... oh no, you're going there. 1

Journal by Daniel Dvorkin

[cranky rant warning]

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics." It's coming up again with depressing frequency, being used as an argument instead of a snide observation.

Okay, here's the thing. Can you lie with statistics? Sure. Statistics is a branch of mathematics*, and math is a language; you can lie in that language as easily as in any other. Does this mean all statistics are lies? No more than all statements in any language are lies--and if you believe that, you've gone so far down the rabbit hole of anti-intellectual mysticism that you'll probably never find your way out.

Meanwhile, in the real world, and in the ever-expanding torrent of data we have about that world, statistics as a discipline is pretty much the only hope we have of understanding anything. The low-hanging fruit has been picked. The equations we learn in Physics 101 are as valid as they ever were, but they're not nearly enough. No matter how certain you think you are, no matter how many times you repeat your experiment and get the same result, if you don't do the statistical tests you don't actually know whatever it is you think you know. And if you do the tests--well, you may still be wrong, but you can at least quantify your uncertainty. And you have to do that, because you can always be wrong.

None of this is meant to defend the misuse of statistics, any more than as a writer I'd defend the misuse of natural language. People can and do wilfully misinterpret statistics, or cherry-pick them, or just outright make them up, and those are bad things. Guess what? They do that with every other kind of statement too. At least half of statisticians' job is fact-checking, and it's a charge we gladly accept.

So the next time you're tempted to say "lies, damned lies, and statistics," or "figures don't lie but liars figure," or "correlation does not imply causation" or any of its variants, or post the umpteen-thousandth link to "How To Lie With Statistics," and think you're being clever--please, just stop. Because one thing I am so sure of that I don't even need to put a p-value on it is that if you feel the need to resort to any of those lazy, thought-free responses, you don't know enough about the issue at hand to have an informed opinion, and the best thing you can possibly do for yourself and everyone else is to keep quiet.

*Opinions vary on this issue, but if statistics isn't exactly a branch of mathematics, we can at least say that math is the language in which it's written.

User Journal

Journal: In general support of /. editors 6

Journal by maynard

I've seen the comment forums filled with off-topic posts about a badly deployed beta upgrade. Community members are pissed and they're venting and they want site owners to not just listen but act on community concerns. And so we see a temper tantrum that likely has only alienated corporate owners and made life for editorial staff miserable.

I have sympathy for both perspectives. The upgrade really is a mess. Commenting doesn't work, layout wastes space, fonts are poorly chosen, etc. Yet I also recognize that software upgrades are necessary. Slashdot is looking pretty creaky. Another coat of whitewash over cracks in the woodwork won't do. Deciding to rewrite and build something new is a defendable choice. But owners should know that simply deploying something new is not the same as building something that works. As an old timer here, I'd like functionality considered above mere design. Ideally, a good new site would merge the two seamlessly.

Of course, no one screaming out there in the community cares what I have to say. I've been absent so long I'm barely a member these days. But I think the continued tantrum is going overboard and risks causing more damage than good. Destroying /. to save it is no solution. Make a stink, get your views known, but editors have posted a place for dialog and it's time to use it. Crapflooding every article with off-topic rants about the beta now diminishes community goals. It's counterproductive.

I'd like to see /. resurgent. I think Reddit has gotten too big and the Internet needs competitors in link aggregation and commenting as a checks and balancing mechanism. Slashdot still has popular heft and a functioning community. I'd encourage owners and editors to consider this community response as an encouraging sign. People care. And that means that with appropriate management-community dialog, the site remains viable going forward. The question is: after this period of decline, how do you retool to challenge competitors like Reddit and grow at their expense? Throwing away your community doesn't solve that problem.

User Journal

Journal: Everything that has a beginning has an end 2

Journal by Velex

Well, here we are. We'll see how the slashcott goes.

I may be back on the 17th, but I intend to use the beta exclusively. If "classic's" days are numbered, then so be it. Maybe the beta will improve. If the things that kept me coming back since I registered this UID here over a decade ago are gone for good, then it's time to move on.

I've voiced my suspicions, and well, if Dice wanted to chase me away, they've succeeded, certainly for the next week, perhaps for good.

Everything that has a beginning has an end.

What's next? Kuro5hin? I remember some interesting times there before it became subscription, but perhaps a subscription is what's needed to prevent the fate that Slashdot is currently facing. AltSlashdot? If my suspicions are correct, that may be the new home for the community here.

Maybe I can see what's going on in the TF community (different from the trans community---these are individuals who are fascinated by magical transformations, and while I don't go for the deluge of pornography that that often innundates the topic of male to female magical transformations, occasionally I find diamonds in the rough such as Genma's Daughter and My Birthday as a Girl, not to mention many of Isobelle Nichole's captions) and make a goal of actually developing and publishing my fiction. The one vignette I did publish years ago got favorable reviews. At this point in my life, becoming an author may be the only way to make my TF wish come as true as it can in this world before I'm old. A novel would certainly be a better format to frame things I've been trying to say here that simply can't fit in even the biggest comment box.

Whether or not a novel with a protagonist who finds herself magically transformed would possibly appeal to a wider audience, who knows. The odds are better than playing the lottery at least. It's a big world, and I only need such a small fraction of its wealth to come my way to change my legal name, go full time living as a woman 24/7, and get the plastic surgery I desire. Maybe I would even be able to dye my hair at long last, perhaps an exotic color that would complete an image of a sexy hacker chick that could be my very own.

It's been great, folks. Best wishes.

User Journal

Journal: beta beta beta 2

Journal by Daniel Dvorkin

To whom it may concern:

A while back, I was invited to take a look at the Slashdot beta. I looked at it and quickly decided that it was too painful to use, and hoped (vainly, I knew) that it would die a quiet death. Today, when logging into Slashdot, I was greeted with this cheery message:

MOVIN' ON UP. You are on Slashdot Classic. We are starting to move into new digs in February by automatically redirecting greater numbers of you. The new site is a work in progress so Classic Slashdot will be available from the footer for several more months. As we migrate our audience, we want to hear from you to make sure that the redesigned page has all the features you expect. Find out more.

In other words, we have here all the signs of a corporate "beta" site that will be rolled out regardless of user reaction. Let me be quite clear: "all the features I expect" are already on Slashdot (what you're adorably calling "Classic"). It works. It's not broken. Don't try to "fix" it, because the proposed "fix" irrevocably breaks the entire Slashdot look and feel.

When the beta becomes the only option (and I know it's almost certainly "when" at this point, not "if") Slashdot will become a ghost town. You will have killed what was once one of the most lively, interesting, and important sites on the web. I've loved this site for fifteen years now, but I'm not going to make myself suffer for the zombie wreck of something that used to be great.

Sincerely,
Daniel Dvorkin
UID 106857

User Journal

Journal: beta beta beta 4

Journal by Daniel Dvorkin

To whom it may concern:

A while back, I was invited to take a look at the Slashdot beta. I looked at it and quickly decided that it was too painful to use, and hoped (vainly, I knew) that it would die a quiet death. Today, when logging into Slashdot, I was greeted with this cheery message:

MOVIN' ON UP. You are on Slashdot Classic. We are starting to move into new digs in February by automatically redirecting greater numbers of you. The new site is a work in progress so Classic Slashdot will be available from the footer for several more months. As we migrate our audience, we want to hear from you to make sure that the redesigned page has all the features you expect. Find out more.

In other words, we have here all the signs of a corporate "beta" site that will be rolled out regardless of user reaction. Let me be quite clear: "all the features I expect" are already on Slashdot (what you're adorably calling "Classic"). It works. It's not broken. Don't try to "fix" it, because the proposed "fix" irrevocably breaks the entire Slashdot look and feel.

When the beta becomes the only option (and I know it's almost certainly "when" at this point, not "if") Slashdot will become a ghost town. You will have killed what was once one of the most lively, interesting, and important sites on the web. I've loved this site for fifteen years now, but I'm not going to make myself suffer for the zombie wreck of something that used to be great.

Sincerely,
Daniel Dvorkin
UID 106857

User Journal

Journal: Is it a taboo to use the full name of Obama ? 1

Journal by Taco Cowboy

In the comment http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4728375&cid=46105237 I was commenting that the Nobel Peace Prize committee should take back the prize that they have wrongly awarded to Obama.

In the comment I used the full name of Obama, which is Barack Hussein Obama, which in fact, is the LEGAL NAME of the current POTUS.

For whatever reason, a fella "Stargoat" flamed me for using the full name of Obama and specifically accuse me of using the name of "Hussein" !

I was totally floored by the way that knee jerk threw his temper tantrum. I mean, The word "Hussein" isn't my invention, I wasn't the one who "gave" Obama that name.

It was Obama's dad who gave him that "Hussein". Not me.

Is it a taboo to use the full name of Obama ?

If it has become illegal to use Obama's full name, why don't they make an official law from now on, making it a federal offense for any "peon" to call the Emperor/ President / Dictator of the United States of America by his/her full name ?

User Journal

Journal: Comparing Barack Hussein Obama to Edward Snowden 5

Journal by Taco Cowboy
Mr. Barack Hussein Obama is the President of the United States. He currently lives in the White House, and enjoys all the privileges of the presidency, including 24/7 security protection (including that of the protection from food poisoning).

Mr. Edward Snowden currently lives in an undisclosed location somewhere in Russia. He currently is under 24/7 threat from the United States of America for allegation of "treason".

One is currently the "President" and the other is currently labeled as a "fugitive".

For the past several months, revelations from the so-called "fugitive" has deeply troubled that "President", so much so that, few hours ago, that "President" had to come out to admit that the United States of America has spied on millions of people for no reason whatsoever.

It took MONTHS for that so-called "President" to admit his own wrongdoing, but even when that "President" has confessed to his own sin, Mr. Snowden, the "fugitive", is still under constant threat.

This is year 2014. The 14th years into the 21st century, and yet, our society still treats people with integrity, such as Mr. Edward Snowden, as a "fugitive". Meanwhile a man with no integrity whatsoever still gets to live inside the White House.

Is this the United States of America the founding fathers had envisioned ?

Or has the United States of America turned into the very DICTATORIAL MONSTER the founding fathers was fighting against ?
User Journal

Journal: The Smartphone Kill Switch

Journal by Taco Cowboy

A chill ran up my spine after I read http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/12/19/2113235/proposed-california-law-would-mandate-smartphone-kill-switch

Right now, as it is, NSA can listen to your telephone communication, can read your sms/email, can know where you are, who you regularly communicate with, can profile your behavior (when you will do what at where), but they still can't shut you off (unless they send in a "cleaner").

With the Kill Switch, they can do that.

Yes, the law as it is, is for people who report to the police that their smartphones were stolen, so that the authority can issue a "kill order" to brick that lost smartphone.

And we also know what NSA is all about - no law on the land can touch them - and with the availability of the "Kill Switch", NSA can effectively KILL THE PHONES of those who they do not like, cutting them off the communication grid, and leaving them out in the cold.

I can foresee the consequential abuses that will accompany this new "Kill Switch" law. It'll only make NSA (and all the other BIG BROTHERS) that much stronger.

User Journal

Journal: When *GENOCIDE* becomes a non-issue

Journal by Taco Cowboy
Hussein Barack Obama, when he was a Senator, spoke eloquently about the issue of GENOCIDE.

Senator Hussein Barack Obama spoke about the GENOCIDE in Sudan, and also the GENOCIDE of the Armenian people by the Turks.

That was, of course, before Senator Obama became President Obama.

Once Obama moved into the White House, he stopped talking about GENOCIDE altogether. This page:

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Hollywood/2013/09/28/Mia-Farrow-President-Obama-has-joined-that-silence-on-Genocide-in-Sudan

will show you the complete 180-degree change of direction Obama has taken on the Genocide in Sudan.

These pages

http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/21/white-house-refuses-to-display-88-year-o

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/museums/armenian-orphan-rug-remains-in-white-house-storage-as-unseen-as-genocide-is-neglected/2013/10/21/90458518-3a6d-11e3-b6a9-da62c264f40e_story.html

http://www.pri.org/stories/2013-10-25/white-house-says-rug-gifted-calvin-coolidge-armenian-orphans-will-stay-storage

http://www.anca.org/yesitsgenocide/obamarecord.html

will guide you to the shameful decision by the Obama White House in refusing to display an 88-year-old rug, despite having promised so earlier, for a Smithsonian Institute project.

I, as an American Citizen, is very shameful to have Obama as my president. Although I never cast my vote for him, millions of my fellow Americans were stupid enough to elect this two-faced liar into the White house, not once, but twice.

If issues such as GENOCIDE can become a total non-issue, what kind of message the United States of America is going to give to the world, that America is a non-principled, rogue country ?

User Journal

Journal: Continuation on education 13

Journal by jd

Ok, I need to expand a bit on my excessively long post on education some time back.

The first thing I am going to clarify is streaming. This is not merely distinction by speed, which is the normal (and therefore wrong) approach. You have to distinguish by the nature of the flows. In practice, this means distinguishing by creativity (since creative people learn differently than uncreative people).

It is also not sufficient to divide by fast/medium/slow. The idea is that differences in mind create turbulence (a very useful thing to have in contexts other than the classroom). For speed, this is easy - normal +/- 0.25 standard deviations for the central band (ie: everyone essentially average), plus two additional bands on either side, making five in total.

Classes should hold around 10 students, so you have lots of different classes for average, fewer for the band's either side, and perhaps only one for the outer bands. This solves a lot of timetabling issues, as classes in the same band are going to be interchangeable as far as subject matter is concerned. (This means you can weave in and out of the creative streams as needed.)

Creativity can be ranked, but not quantified. I'd simply create three pools of students, with the most creative in one pool and the least in a second. It's about the best you can do. The size of the pools? Well, you can't obtain zero gradient, and variations in thinking style can be very useful in the classroom. 50% in the middle group, 25% in each of the outliers.

So you've 15 different streams in total. Assume creativity and speed are normally distributed and that the outermost speed streams contain one class of 10 each. Start with speed for simplicity I'll forgo the calculations and guess that the upper/lower middle bands would then have nine classes of 10 each and that the central band will hold 180 classes of 10.

That means you've 2000 students, of whom the assumption is 1000 are averagely creative, 500 are exceptional and 500 are, well, not really. Ok, because creativity and speed are independent variables, we have to have more classes in the outermost band - in fact, we'd need four of them, which means we have to go to 8000 students.

These students get placed in one of 808 possible classes per subject per year. Yes, 808 distinct classes. Assuming 6 teaching hours per day x 5 days, making 30 available hours, which means you can have no fewer than 27 simultaneous classes per year. That's 513 classrooms in total, fully occupied in every timeslot, and we're looking at just one subject. Assuming 8 subjects per year on average, that goes up to 4104. Rooms need maintenance and you also need spares in case of problems. So, triple it, giving 12312 rooms required. We're now looking at serious real estate, but there are larger schools than that today. This isn't impossible.

The 8000 students is per year, as noted earlier. And since years won't align, you're going to need to go from first year of pre/playschool to final year of an undergraduate degree. That's a whole lotta years. 19 of them, including industrial placement. 152,000 students in total. About a quarter of the total student population in the Greater Manchester area.

The design would be a nightmare with a layout from hell to minimize conflict due to intellectual peers not always being age peers, and neither necessarily being perceptual peers, and yet the layout also has to minimize the distance walked. Due to the lack of wormholes and non-simply-connected topologies, this isn't trivial. A person at one extreme corner of the two dimensional spectrum in one subject might be at the other extreme corner in another. From each class, there will be 15 vectors to the next one.

But you can't minimize per journey. Because there will be multiple interchangeable classes, each of which will produce 15 further vectors, you have to minimize per day, per student. Certain changes impact other vectors, certain vector values will be impossible, and so on. Multivariable systems with permutation constraints. That is hellish optimization, but it is possible.

It might actually be necessary to make the university a full research/teaching university of the sort found a lot in England. There is no possible way such a school could finance itself off fees, but research/development, publishing and other long-term income might help. Ideally, the productivity would pay for the school. The bigger multinationals post profits in excess of 2 billion a year, which is how much this school would cost.

Pumping all the profits into a school in the hope that the 10 uber creative geniuses you produce each year, every year, can produce enough new products and enough new patents to guarantee the system can be sustained... It would be a huge gamble, it would probably fail, but what a wild ride it would be!

User Journal

Journal: China building its 3rd space tracking station in Argentina

Journal by Taco Cowboy
Based on the following reports, all in Mandarin:

One dated 2009:

http://www.chinamil.com.cn/jfjbmap/content/2011-01/07/content_47810.htm

In which it outlined the need to build a network consist of three (3) deep space tracking stations, to prepare China's up and coming space missions, including Chang-e 5, and beyond. Two (2) of the stations have been built, they are inside China. The third one will be build in Argentina, at the cost of $80 Million, and will be completed by 2016. This page, from a state-owned construction company in China, Second Engineering Company Limited of CCC Fourth Highway Engineering Company Limited, gave the location of the 3rd Chinese deep space tracking station:

http://www.ccfourth.com/004/level3.jsp?id=381

This page, dated 25th October 2013, stated that the building of the 3rd Chinese deep space tracking station has begun. The deep space tracking station will be build on a high plateau in between 800 meter to 900 meter above the sea level.
User Journal

Journal: 10 year anniversary to an official absurdity 1

Journal by Taco Cowboy
Back in 2003, the city of Los Angeles demanded that manufacturers, suppliers and contractors stopped using the terms "master" and "slave" on computer equipment, saying such terms were unacceptable and offensive.

http://edition.cnn.com/2003/TECH/ptech/11/26/master.term.reut/

From 2003 to 2013, many more such absurdities came into being, from Obama's wish to revamp NASA into an organization to please the Muslims

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/7875584/Barack-Obama-Nasa-must-try-to-make-Muslims-feel-good.html

to Obamacare website fiasco originated from the a no-bid $93 Million contract to Mitchelle Obama's ex classmate.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2477403/Michelle-Os-Princeton-classmate-exec-company-built-Obamacare-website.html

When I signed on to become an American I never imagine that my new country would become the buttjoke of the world, but unfortunately, it is.

Sigh !!
User Journal

Journal: Google has become a stranger to me

Journal by Taco Cowboy

I was one of the early investors in google, naturally, when others were still using altavista or yahoo I put my homepage as google.com

Google has always have that "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, and will send visitors to random sites (from a pre-chosen, pre-approved bunch, of course, don't want to send children to porn sites) ...

That was the google I knew

Nowadays, everything change

No matter if you start with google.rw or google.com.au or plain google.com, and click on that "I'm Feeling Lucky" button you will end up in the "doodle" page

What kind of fucking crap is that ?

User Journal

Journal: The U.S. Space Program

Journal by Taco Cowboy

" I don't know if your listeners or people living in the U.S. understand these changes, but as I observe them from the outside, I feel that America is gradually contracting and closing itself off. It's a very strange thing." "

The person who said the above is Mr. Wu Ji, the director of China's National Space Science Center ( http://cssar.cas.cn/ ), English version @ http://english.cssar.cas.cn/ .

As an American, the above quote left a very bitter taste in my mouth.

What the fuck has gone wrong with my country ?

A penny saved is a penny to squander. -- Ambrose Bierce

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