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Journal Journal: Chances of being killed by police in the USA

So 104 people were killed by police in the USA during August, 2014. To my eyes, that's an absolutely enormous figure. As a Brit, I compare it to the 1 person killed over 3 years by the UK police. Yes, they're two different countries, yes there's a lot more people in the US, yes they have different cultures, yadda yadda yadda; people are dying here.

Let's do some maths:

  • Population of the USA: 319 million (source:
  • Percentage chance for a person to be shot in August is then: (104 x 100%) / 319,000,000 = 0.000033%

That's a scarily huge percentage, given that it's normalised by population. Bear in mind that police in the USA are not ... shy ... at shooting at suspects, and neither are they 100% accurate. Some of the casualties are in fact bystanders.

Now let's consider extrapolating for the period of time that most shootings occur (i.e.: suspect between the ages of 15 and 40), and see how that changes things:

  • Chance to be shot over 25 year period = (104 x 12 x 25 x 100%) / 319,000,000 = 0.0097%
  • Rounding that, since this is an extrapolation, we get 0.01%

Now that's an amazingly large percentage chance of being shot dead by a policeman. Let's do the same thing for the UK:

  • Population of the UK: 65 million (source:
  • Percentage chance for a person to be shot over last 3 years is then: (1 x 100%) / 65,000,000 = 0.0000015%
  • Therefore percentage chance for a person to be shot in August 2014 is 0.0000015 / 12 / 3 = 0.0000000427%
  • Therefore percentage chance to be shot over 25 year period is 0.0000000427 x 12 x 25 = 0.0000128%

Compare 0.01% and 0.00001% and remember these are normalised by population. Yeah.

User Journal

Journal Journal: I am a masochist 5 5

I'm a masochist. No, not of the sexual variety. Of the slashdot variety. For some reason, not only do I still continue to read this site, I click on links to stories about cars and phones. The raging stupidity and arrogance is amazing.

And yet I come back.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Does anything work anymore? 3 3

Does anything around here work anymore? I go to the page (uid changed to mine to protect the guilty) to try to change friend/foe/neutral status, and I get:


The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.
Apache/2.2.3 (CentOS) Server at Port 80

I have to click in three different places to find the right link to let me do a JE.
I was gonna give a laundry list, but fuck it, it's just pissing in the wind. I figure Dice was able to buy it for, what, the price of one week of coffee at Starbucks?

User Journal

Journal Journal: New PC for $1000?

I've been living under a rock for the past five years, so I'm really quite ignorant when it comes to the latest technology. Can anyone give me a quick run-down on what might work well for a new gaming PC? I'm no fanboy, but I usually end up regretting it whenever I stray away from Asus, Intel, and nVidia. What gives the most bang for the buck? It looks like a Core i5 is my best bet, but I keep wondering if maybe an entry-level Core i7 would be better. There are so many choices, I feel paralyzed by indecision.

In the meantime, I guess I'll spend a few hours reading tech sites, trying to figure out what the hell all the new buzzwords mean. I hate trying to decode all the marketing fluff.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The world is a circus.

This is something that I've alluded to in several of my posts. Much like Shakespeare, I believe that all the world is a stage. However, instead of men playing many parts, I think we all play one part: that of the clown. Life is an absurdist circus, full of clowns that don't know they're clowns. Yet, they dance, roll around, and make funny faces for the amusement of the other clowns. Some people have realized this. Most have not. Trolls, gadflies, postmodernists, existentialists, nihilists, cynics, propagandists, and narcissists know it. I think that politicians, sociopaths, gossip columnists, and TV celebrities must be aware of it on some level. Those who take themselves seriously will deny it.

The absurdity of trying to make sense of life is something only a clown would do. The tragedy is that they think they've actually done it. This is endlessly amusing to those of a darker, sardonic wit.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Slashdot takes a page from the users 2 2

It seems that slashdot is learning from the users. If ever there was a Troll Tuesday for the front page, it is today. Let's see, we've got a story taking advantage of gender divides, a story taking advantage of Middle East division, several Apple stories, climate change/evolution, and a game console story. Still a few hours to go, so perhaps there is still time for a coding language story, a text editor story, and a distro/desktop story.


Journal Journal: SOPA is bad, but it's not the end of the world.

Edited slightly from a recent post that I made:

The internet isn't going to end. The internet will change for the worse. There's a big difference.

Mostly-legitimate sites like YouTube and MegaUpload will arguably be hit the hardest. Their primary draw is the rampant copyright infringement. Users who upload original content will have to jump through hoops in order to validate that their content does not infringe anyone's copyright. There will probably be an initial month-long validation queue, which will eventually be streamlined down to a week-long wait. Some people will leave in protest, but most will just decry any dissent as "whining". In most likelihood, parody and other fair use exceptions will be suppressed, in the name of simplifying administrative duties. I predict the argument will go, "If we allow legitimate parodies through, then everyone will simply claim to be a subtle parody. Thus, our rule on no parodies, even if they are technically allowed, by law." In the end, YouTube will survive, but it will be nothing but insipid pet videos and hot, up-and-coming pop stars from major labels. Alternatives will pop up frequently on darknets, but none of the YouTube users will ever figure out how to access them. MegaUpload goes commercial, with no free accounts, in a move to pay for all the censorship that is required to clean up the site.

Quasi-legitimate sites, like 4chan, will either disappear or radically transform. My guess is that they'll all go underground. Anyone who can't figure out how to access them will be ridiculed as a lamer or noob. The government will swat at them, off and on, but nothing will ever really stick. A couple of them will simply move to European or Asian servers and abandon U.S. users. I have trouble imagining these sites going fully legit, but I guess stranger things have happened. In that case, full-time moderators would roam the boards, searching out any kind of copyright infringement and handing out frequent bans. After a while, the workload gets to be too much and the site closes down.

"Rogue" websites, such as piratebay, would be the first victims. They'll put up a token fight for a few months or years, but it won't go anywhere, and they'll all be forced to relocate to darknets or other various underground locales. Some will simply shrug and ignore the U.S. Again, the government will swat at them, and some of them will eventually be taken down, but new ones will simply pop up to replace them. Eventually, someone will be made an example of, with a 10-15 year prison sentence (if they're lucky). A show trial will briefly made the news, then be forgotten by all but the civil libertarians. A huge uproar on civil libertarian blogs will follow, along with further threads of "it's time for the ammo box!", but absolutely nothing will come of it, and they'll all stew in impotent anger. Slashdot follows every single fucking story with dogged perseverance, long after the mainstream media move on to other topics. In every single story, at least one person states, "If only you sheeple had voted for Ron Paul, none of this would have happened!", which becomes the newest Slashdot meme.

Controversial web sites, such as those espousing hate speech, expressing sympathy for terrorists (pro-Hamas or pro-Hezbollah), and right-wing militia groups will quickly be added to the lists. Most people won't miss them, but the civil libertarians will go berserk. A freedom of speech case will make it to the US Supreme Court, but nothing will come of it. In a 5-4 decision, the censorship will be upheld as constitutional. All the web sites move to European servers or darknets. The government halfheartedly swats at them off and on for the next ten years, until an example is made of someone, who probably ends up successfully fighting off the charges. It's hailed as a major win for civil libertarians, but nothing really changes, because nothing ever does. The government goes back to swatting halfheartedly at websites on darknets.

Sites like Flickr and Facebook, which generally depend on original content, rather than copyright infringement, escape unscathed. Uploading content becomes more tedious and annoying, as websites nonetheless attempt to cover their ass. More ads appear, as the sites attempt to pay for the additional time and effort necessary to patrol submissions by users. Users grumble, site administrators grumble, and everyone talks big about how they're going to vote out everyone who voted for SOPA. In the end, it's all just talk.

Most sites end up unaffected. A few end up blacklisted "accidentally". The end of the world is averted, and the internet goes on, like it always has... just in a way that's more authoritarian, less fun, and more annoying. Eventually, SOPA gets struck down by a liberal Supreme Court, and Slashdot goes berserk over something else that will surely cause the sky to fall.

I think SOPA is a horrible bill, and I hope it fails. The worst case scenario is frightening and admittedly could lead to some chilling effects. In fact, I think it's inevitable that many controversial sites (hate speech, for example) will end up being blacklisted, as well. However, to think that the internet, as a whole, will end up going down in flames seems simplistic and over-the-top.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Misogyny, racism, and homophobia on Slashdot (long) 2 2

Is it just me, or does Slashdot seem to be a bastion of misogyny, racism, and homophobia? I'm not talking about the simplistic trolls who just throw around offensive words. I'm talking about people who really, truly mean what they're saying and write passionate posts about just how much they hate women/feminazis, gays, and various racial/religious minorities. It's startling. Normally, I'd chalk most of those posts up to simple trolls, but... well... take a look.

The story that made me actually write this is about the revenge blog order. A man wrote a revenge blog, harassing his ex-girlfriend, and a judge ordered him to take it down. I figured most of the debate would center around free speech vs harassment (and I was mostly right), but a few misogynist threads popped up, too.

The first post that stuck out is actually relatively harmless. The guy says that he doesn't date women when he's unemployed, because he can't provide for them, if they get pregnant. Well... OK. That's a bit patriarchal. It's nice that he takes responsibility for his actions, but, like another poster, I was a bit struck by his flippant attitude toward women. I think we can assume, given his user name, that he was just trying for laughs, which perhaps backfired, giving some people the impression that he's a bit of a dumbass. Then again, it's entirely likely that he's also role-playing an erratic personality. In any case, nothing he said was misogynistic -- simply patronizing and a betrayed a bit of lack of respect for women, even as he seems to pride himself on his sense of responsibility.

I have certain sympathies with the radical feminists, and I think they are right about some things. I'm probably going to sound a bit like one right now, critiquing this post. It reeks of "men have been emasculated in our society, and now women/feminazis have all the power". Without actually saying anything specific, he insinuates that women are faking their fear, when they seek restraining orders, only to use them as offensively, as a weapon, against the poor men. This may very well be true, and I'm not saying that it can't happen, but it's a very dangerous POV that diminishes sympathy and compassion for victims of domestic violence. I find it disturbing. I will stop short of saying that he's actively sympathizing with actual abusers (his friends, who are the victims of these restraining orders), because I dislike when people make those kinds of assumptions about people. I'd also like to believe that, in his mind, at the very least, these guys are actually innocent of any wrong-doing and that he's not making excuses for their behavior.

There's another "men are powerless in today's society" post following that, decrying that men are now commonly scapegoated as the cause of all things bad in this world. He doesn't stop there, though. He also claims that they are essentially non-citizens in family law. While I understand that there are certain issues that we as a society still need to resolve (traditional gender roles dictate that the women raise children), instead of recognizing that strict gender roles are the problem, the poster turns his anger toward women, instead. This is not healthy. It's also deeply frustrating.

And this post seems to be saying that it's only the poor, emasculated men who have face the repercussions of the actions. The law does not apply equally to women, because that would be not be PC. At least, that's my reading of his post. I may have put a few words into his mouth. I don't understand where these people are coming from or why they believe the things that they believe. Did someone repeatedly hurt them, without repercussions? That sucks. I feel bad for you. But that does not mean that women are out to get you.

The emoticon on this post indicates that the poster was joking, but... come on! This is a really disturbing thing to say. You're taking the side of someone who broke a restraining order, wrote a revenge blog that violated the privacy of a mentally ill person, and then aggressively advertized it to her friends, family, and coworkers? You're saying what he did was a good thing, for the benefit of society? I understand it was supposed to be a joke, but I'm not laughing. I'm not claiming to have some kind of moral ground here, like I'm some kind of saint, as I can be an unrepentant asshole at times, but, seriously.... this is just wrong, and if an acknowledged asshole can see that it's wrong, you should know better, too. I'm astounded that my own lack of empathy is soundly trounced by others. This, more than any moral outrage, is what shocks me the most about this guy's post. But it's just a joke. Yeah, sure. Let's just give our implicit support to those who would harass the mentally ill.

Moving on. This post could simply be a troll. However, there are a lot of people out there who -- without any irony whatsoever -- use terms such as feminazi. While this poster showed admirable restraint, I think he got the point across, just the same, by characterizing the judge as a "neo-feminist windbag". He further asserts that "a lot of them [judges] are [neo-feminist windbags]". It would be nice if that were true. My fear is that he's just so much of a misogynist that it seems true, from his viewpoint.

And here's another "it's just a joke" post, in which the poster asserts that all Minnesota women are crazy. This isn't so bad, and I'd probably just write it off as a guy who's been unlucky in love trying to make a joke about it, but... again, he's taking the side of someone whose actions are indefensible. This guy hasn't actually asserted that what the guy did was right or in the public's best interest, but it's disturbing that he's making jokes at the expense of the victim. That post is quickly followed up by several others claiming that all women are crazy. Of course.

This post seems to be reinforcing the commonly held belief that men are constantly victimized by false accusations and unjustly punished by society, as a result. While nobody can deny that these false accusations happen and quite certainly do destroy the reputation of innocent people, it's yet another cliched, misogynist argument that appears constantly on the internet. If you listen to these people, you'll sometimes hear crazy statistics about how most rapes are actually false accusations. It's disturbing that society seems to believe that, in some certain cases, innocence needs to be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt (rather than proving guilt), but to actively attack the very victims of these crimes is inexcusable. Our compassion for the falsely accused should never turn into an attack on the legitimate victims. This poster, however, refrains from going any further than asserting that it's the accused that we need to be sympathetic to, especially if it's a man, rather than the accuser. The implicit characterization of the accusers, however, is that they are manipulative liars. This may very well be true in some cases, but, like I said, it's not a healthy attitude to have toward the accusers. Followups by the same poster reveal a deep misogyny that was hinted at by his original post. Unfortunate.

Infuriatingly, this poster invokes "blaming the victim". I thought perhaps the poster might be a bit on the progressive side, trying to point out that people are being wildly misogynistic in the comments. Not so. Instead, he takes the defense of the man. I understand that his argument is based on free speech, which is a legitimate argument, but framing it in terms of "blaming the victim" is just inexcusable. Apparently, to the anon, telling the truth can not be a form of harassment, even when it... nevermind. I'm just getting myself worked up again, and I've already covered this elsewhere. For what it's worth, the post itself does not betray any misogyny, though it does frustrate me to no end. The followups are more misogynistic, pointing out that women will, of course, be protected by the law, while men's concerns will be tossed aide. So, luckily, we still get our quota of misogyny.

This guy annoys the fuck out of me. I don't know why I haven't enemy listed him yet. He's an ignorant, misogynistic asshole. In fact, I think I'll do it now. I had a debate with him once over whether "women's night out" was sexist, and thus feminists were hypocritical for not opposing it. I thought maybe I could reach him, but apparently he's too far gone. Well, can you really blame people for ignoring my huge essays?

A simple troll.


He's just telling it like it is.

More misogyny from gmhowell. He posted a link to a hilariously whiny Men's Rights Activist (MRA) web site once that made me laugh, until I realized it wasn't ironic. Disturbing. Still, his comments are amusingly whiny enough in themselves that I usually end up being amused, rather than outraged. Haven't enemy listed him yet. Could just be a troll, faking the misogyny, though. I haven't quite decided yet.

This is probably just a troll. It could be a kook, though. Normally, I'm pretty good at picking up on generic, garden variety trolls, but the legitimate, unending misogyny in these comments might have knocked by trolldar off a bit. I'm leaning toward legitimate kook, but it's got all the hallmarks of a troll.

I feel better for having gotten all this off my chest. I doubt anyone has read this, but it'd be gratifying to know that I'm not the only one who sees this as a real problem on Slashdot.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Why I'm not scared of the Windows 8 secure boot feature

Adapted from a recent comment.

Slashdot has a long history of shrilling crying out doom and gloom, and it's been wrong on every occasion that I can remember. I don't blame someone for thinking that a paranoid rant on slashdot is total bunk. When RFID chips were first discussed on Slashdot, people worked themselves into a paranoid frenzy, suggesting that you microwave any clothes that you buy from a retail store, so that you destroy any errant RFID chips. I laughed then, and I'm laughing now, as I recall it. Slashdot has always had a loud paranoid wing, and most of us have learned to tune them out. Their first reaction is always to predict a wildly unlikely worst case scenario, then rant and scream about how we're headed toward some fascist police state, because their Pentium III has a serial number (that can be disabled in the BIOS). I've heard it all before, I wasn't impressed by it back in the late 90s, and I'm still not impressed with it. The Pentium III serial number, RFID, Vista's DRM, Trusted Computing... these have all been complete non-issues. I agree that there's deeply troubling potential, but let's face it:

1) People generally want authoritarianism. It makes them feel safe and secure, regardless of the reality. Ranting about how walled gardens are evil is just going to make all the Apple fanboys tune you out, rather than convincing them to ditch their iProduct.
2) Security, by design, reduces functionality and ease-of-use. People hate that. Thus, security is generally minimized, unless it's authoritarian in nature. In that case, refer back to the first point.
3) Most -- not all, but most -- authoritarian controls can be disabled. Occasionally, it requires some action that voids your warranty.

Once I realized these things, I stopped caring so much. When I heard XP was going to require activation, I thought it was going to change everything. When I heard that Vista was going to have all kinds of evil DRM, I thought that would finally kill off everything that I loved about PCs and turn them into locked-down consoles. When I heard that Windows 8 was going to have secure boot, I'd shrugged my shoulders and said, "So fucking what? Slashdot has been wrong about everything they've ever panicked about, and I'm not falling into that trap again."

Maybe the Windows 8 secure boot will turn out to be a huge issue, and Linux will be locked out of 90% of all new brand name PCs, but I seriously doubt it. Every other time that Slashdot has panicked over DRM, trusted computing, or other initiatives, it's turned out to be a huge non-issue. If this does turn out to be a legitimate threat to Linux, open source, or the PC architecture, I'll deal with it then, rather than panicking about it now, like some slashbot version of Chicken Little.

p.s. I'm not saying we're not headed toward a fascist police state, but CPU serial numbers are not one of the warning signs of fascism. It may be indicative of a tolerance for fascism, but it is not, in and of itself, any barometer of political discourse.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Old Friends

Deleted a bunch of friends who haven't posted anything since 2005. Sucks, because some of them were skillful, subtle trolls or insightful commenters. Now I can fill up my enemy list with even more people! Not that it accomplishes much.

User Journal

Journal Journal: How I would solve the Firefox situation.

This is (slightly modified) from a recent post that I made. I figured I'd make a journal entry, because it was added to the story way too late to actually get any replies.

Here's what I'd do, if I were Mozilla CEO:

1) Apologize for all the zany shit that's gone on since 4.0. Can't hurt. Might help. At least, in the short term, it would mollify those who've recently complained that the Mozilla devs are uncaring, egotistical bastards.
2) Make sure that people who didn't speak for Mozilla made it clear they were speaking personally, not for Mozilla. They can say whatever they want, but they just have to make people aware of the fact that it's not a official statement from Mozilla.
3) Set up a new project, called Firecheetah or something, where development happens at breakneck speed, UI is in flux, and new technologies are readily adopted. It would have a rolling release, possibly automatically updated. This would be recommended for power users, enthusiasts, and web developers. There would be two or three channels: alpha, beta, and standard. Alpha would be like nightlies, where new code is tested first. These might crash a lot. Since the whole project is beta quality work, I'm not convinced that a beta channel even makes all that much sense, but, hey, why not. If it turns out to be redundant, it can be removed. Beta code is supposed to work as intended, but will probably need some testing to validate this. And, finally, we have the standard channel, where users are constantly inundated with new code from the beta channel, once it seems stable. If it turns out to not be stable, then they'll deal with it, since this project is more about rapid development than stability... and the next bugfix will be delivered shortly, anyway. This project is for the people who hate stagnation. It might be codenamed "Ritalin". Heh.
3) Retain the Firefox project, but as a more enterprise-friendly, stable version. Major versions would be heavily beta-tested before release. This would be the version that "normal" users and enterprises are encouraged to use. This version would be supported for a long time, with promises that the API will not change between minor revisions. Major revisions would be kept to a minimal amount each year, preferably with a leisurely development rate. Features from Firecheetah (ugh, I hate that name, but I'm not very good at branding) would be backported, after they've been sufficiently tested. My vision is for Firefox to be very conservative about changing the UI, adding superfluous features, or having crazy API changes that exist merely because someone got bored. This would be the browser that you use when you want a Firefox 2.0 oe 3.0 style experience: lean, mean, and stable. Architectural changes would be readily accepted, as long as they don't cause bloat or change the API. This project is for the people who hate change for the sake of change.

Add-on compatibility between the two projects would have to be decided, but I don't think it would really be reasonable to expect that an add-on would be cross-project. A compatibility layer could be written into Firecheetah. One might be able to enable or disable this feature, so that it doesn't bloat the browser too much. Plug-ins, such as Flash or Java, would be compatible. The Javascript engine would also be compatible, though the Firecheetah engine might be a bit faster and streamlined, at the cost of decreased stability.

I'm sure there's stuff that I'm overlooking, and I might be overestimating the ability of computer users to handle having two browser projects coming from Mozilla, but I think this is actually pretty workable.

In the end, there isn't a huge difference between having two separate projects (Firefox and.. ugh... Firecheetah) vs having different channels of one project, where one of those channels (alpha or aurora or whatever they fuck they call it) is in constant flux. However, my way leaves a place for people who just want a browser that just works. I'm aware that my ideas aren't revolutionary, unique, or perfect for every circumstance; I'm just throwing this out there, because I'm bored and haven't posted a journal entry in years.

Brain damage is all in your head. -- Karl Lehenbauer