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Government

Journal: On government regulation and lobbying 2

Journal by Ironica

I posted this here: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1318879&cid=28869075 and decided I liked it so much, I wanted to save it, and point to it every time someone starts saying that we shouldn't have regulation of blah blah blah.

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In a TRULY free market, the government wouldn't have power to establish currency, protect ownership, extend licensure... all sorts of things that the economy depends on.

The "hypothetical free market" requires perfect information, perfect competition, and perfect mobility. As none of these are feasible to attain, government regulation is required to simulate them or compensate for their lack. For example, legal definitions of what "organic" produce is, and establishment of certifying bodies (which are private enterprises, but have some sort of charter or something from the government that establishes their certification as adequate for usage of the term "organic") help compensate for the lack of perfect information about farming practices. Without them, someone could say "Yeah, my produce is organic!" after spraying it with tons of pesticides, and you wouldn't really have any way of verifying that unless you traveled out to their farm yourself and watched them for a while... or brought your own lab kit to the market.

So, markets that work on the scale we expect them to will always require SOME amount of regulation, and insofar as there is such regulation, there will be disagreements about how that regulation should be put in place. Some methods would favor the producer or the consumer. Hence, there's a business interest in attempting to shape the regulatory process.

I'm all for making lobbying illegal... but that, some say, is over-regulating the market.

User Journal

Journal: Ways to identify aliens attempting to infiltrate Earth 2

Journal by Ironica

1) They have perfectly ordinary and reasonable first names, but last names that appear to be semi-random assemblages of letters in a vaguely pronounceable order. (These are probably approximate transliterations of their true alien names.)

2) Dislike for pizza and ice cream, but strange affection for haggis.

3) Internet presence appears to date back to 1997, but hits only reference memes from 2005 or later.

When I find out more, I'll let you know.

User Journal

Journal: representing numbers

Journal by fermion
I notice a tag popping up around slashdot, namely hex09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0. The context of the tag is irrelevant to any civilized person, but I was intrigued with the prefix hex, presumably to indicate the number was base 16. I wonder if the use of the prefix, instead of the more traditional 0x, was due to the increasing distance between the technical elite and the hardware

As I am sure we all know, a digital computer represents all information by either an on or off state, which is typically represented numerically as 0 or 1, respectively. As the digital state is often implements as an analog current, there is often some firm threshhold value, above which the state is said to be on.

Therefore to represent a peice of information, such information must first be encoded in as a number, then the number encoded into a series of off or on states to represent that number. This is where binary notation comes from. Using only 0 an 1, in principle we can represent any number as easily as using the 0-9. For instance, using base 2, the number representing in decimal form as 4 would be 100. Perhaps a bit verbose, but quite adequate when one can complete thousands of operations every second.

The verbosity, however is a problem for humans. For instance, to represent the decimal number 9 requires us to write 1001. While a digital device has no problem with this, and humans working to hardwire code have no problems, as the amount of information to encode becomes greater, humans wish to have more information density.

Which is where Octal, or base 8 representation emerges. Octal notation groups three states, or bits, in one. In octal instead of only using the digits 0 and 1, we use 0-7. This means that to write the decimal number 7 instead of writing 0b111, we write 0o7, i which the 0o prefix means octal.

Octal was nice when bits were base of the computers, but soon information grew so much that we began to group bits together. The smallest traditional grouping of bits is the nibble, which contains 4 bits. This means the biggest number that can be held is 0b1111 or the decimal number 15. This lead to the idea that we might want a numbering system that can represent numbers up to decimal 15, and the hexadecimal system was used. In this system, digits go from 0-F. Therefore the decimal number 7 is written 0x7. The decimal number 15 is written 0xF, 0o17 or 0b1111. One can see that even though the computer does not care, it is easier for people.

Hexadecimal was quite used prior to the mid 80's. While programming tasks were easily handled through the alphanumeric keyboard, with minimal special keys, formatted text processing required copious use of the entry of special codes. Even in programming, it was useful to direct many function directly through the hardware using hex.

So, obviously, with the huge bit capacity, it is quite easy to see why we use hexadecimal to represent numerical values. What is not so obvious is why we represent using the longer form hex09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0 rather than 0x09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0.

User Journal

Journal: Ohio recount rigging case goes to court 224

Journal by MarkusQ

The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that the trial of the three election workers accused of rigging the 2004 presidential election recount in Cuyahoga County is finally underway. As you may recall, this was the case where poll workers "randomly" selected the precincts to recount by first eliminating from consideration precincts where the number of ballots handed out on Election Day failed to match the number of ballots cast and, then opening the ballot boxes in private and pre-counting until they found cases which would match up.

What is interesting here is that they have already admitted doing this and that it was clearly counter to the letter and the spirit of the law, but still insist it wasn't really wrong, presumably since they only did it to avoid having to go to the bother of a full recount as required by law.

United States

Journal: Control of US Senate may come down to...a font selection? 3

Journal by MarkusQ

So, coming down to the wire, we see that control of the US Senate is pretty much a toss up with a half dozen or so races potentially deciding if control lands in the hands of the Republicans, the Democrats, or some 3rd Party. According to a story in the Washington Post one of those races may come down to the choice of font used on the electronic voting machines in several counties.

Why? Because "although the larger type is easier to read, it also unintentionally shortens the longer names on the summary page of the ballot" -- shortening in the case of the Senate candidate meaning it leaves off his last name. This means he will be listed as "James H. 'Jim'..." on an ballot that also includes a "James T. 'Jim'..." running against a "James P. 'Jim'..." which is not expected to cause undue confusion.

Officials claim that it is simply a computer 'glitch' and should almost certainly be fixed by the 2007 general election.

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal: Am I being trolled? Opinions wanted 14

Journal by MarkusQ

OK, I could use some opinions / advice here.

I honestly can't tell if I've fallen for an elaborate troll or just run across someone who is English impaired.

The top of the thread in question starts out reasonably enough, but before too long it gets very odd. Its almost like I'm arguing with a really sophisticated chatbot or something. Or like that Monty Python argument sketch. Another thought that crossed my mind is that he may be trying to do a Colbert, and playing the part of an overly enthusiastic partisan for humorous effect.

So what do you think? Am I wasting my time on a really clever troll, or dealing with someone who is language impaired, or (I suppose it's possible) someone whose subtle wit is far beyond my ability to comprehend?

Thoughts?

--MarkusQ

User Journal

Journal: Putting one's money where their OS is. 7

Journal by Ironica

Recently, as I was rebuilding my computer after some sort of horrific malfunction, I found myself looking for Windows XP cracks. Our Windows 2000 burned CD doesn't work properly, and I didn't want to burn an authentication tick on my laptop WinXP disc. So I searched, and came up with nothing particularly useful. I ended up installing an Ubuntu bundle, and so far so good. Good thing we quit playing WoW again.

But as I browsed, I came across a message board discussing how to crack XP, with several people posting "Gah thieves! Just buy it already!" I found myself wanting to post back (though I refrained, having insufficient desire to create a new account on a random message board and bump a thread that's been dead for months). I wanted to say, "You know, I don't want to crack XP because I'm cheap. I want to crack it because I'm BOYCOTTING MICROSOFT."

So then I was thinking, how could I prove it? I mean, I'm morally opposed to giving MS any money, but how does one tell that this is truly my motivation, and not simply an excuse to make me feel better about "stealing" software? And then I hit upon the solution: donate the cover price of the pirated software to an Open Source project of my choice!

So, when I get PowerPoint back up and running somewhere, I'll find out how much it's "supposed" to cost, and donate that money to... something. Mozilla, probably, or Ubuntu (it's very shiny!). And I encourage all 1.5 of the people who read this to do the same, for any pirated MS software they are running.

User Journal

Journal: THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

Journal by the_mad_poster

Oh noes!

Despite the fact that my last "going away" JE never had anything to do with me going away (uh, go reread it fellers), a lot of people took it as such.

Alas, however, I waste far too much time with the morons on this site, so I must bid you adieu. My password has been blindly changed to random gibberish, and the email address changed to one I no longer have access to.

To those of you with at least half a brain, thanks for the laughs. To the rest of you?

Go sit on a unicorn's face and spin. Don't forget to think fondly of me in your last moments you pathetic, bloody morons.

User Journal

Journal: Arlen Specter is the Longest Sitting Senator From PA Today. 2

Journal by the_mad_poster

Why?

Because unlike extremist, mysognistic, homophobic, pompous morons like Santorum, Arlen Specter is a level-headed, moderate guy who knows what he's doing.

Yea, you don't see that a lot in government these days. You see cocklickers who hate women, minorities, and freedom getting nominated for high court positions.

Oh well. Like I told Brent, 13 years from now we'll be in the grips of one of those dirty liberals while he/she rebuilds from the disastrous mess caused by the conservatives again, and the idiot public will then vote another whacked-out conservative to wreck all that progress all over again.

Constant cycle. The cons destroy what the progressives build. Sad, sad cycle.

User Journal

Journal: Meet Alito 21

Journal by the_mad_poster

A man who believes the only thing lower in the pecking order than a dirty liberal is a dirty whore out of her burkha.

There's nothing that warms the cockles of my heart quite like a guy who argued that a woman who gets raped, deceived (e.g. - tampering with birth control), or beaten by her husband can't get an abortion unless she... asks her husband if it's okay.

Nice. Way to go righties. You're real outstanding examples of the human species. Thanks for spreading the love.

User Journal

Journal: Hoo-Rah 7

Journal by the_mad_poster

Word on the wire is that Bush is none to happy with some of his top advisors for their roles in the unpleasant negatives that have been heaped on his administration lately for the botched Katrina response and failed Miers nomination, not to mention that niggling little problem with Fitzgerald and the potential for an intentional national security breach at the highest levels of the executive arm of the government.

Reports say that Bush may have lost confidence in three of his top advisors, notably Rove and Cheney.

The Bush legacy is in its death spiral because all of its miserably corrupt and incompetent behavior from the beginning has caught up. Now it's time for people to face up to the facts. Which side were they on, the side that called bullshit from the beginning, or the side that's now so rapidly backpeddling on five years worth of mindless marching-order support?

Pathetic.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it is too dark to read.

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