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Comment: choose your lens mount carefully (Score 1) 266

by epine (#49169559) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Which Classic OOP Compiled Language: Objective-C Or C++?

You can always find another language that is better at it on every single aspect you look at. Jack of all trades master of none.

Master of Jack is the one thing where no other compiled language triumphs over C++.

If you're sure on day one that there are language features your project will never need (on any project fork)—cross my heart and hope to die—then go ahead and pick a less cluttered language better suited to your constrained subdomain.

What you're really saying here is that you'd rather work in a constrained subdomain—pretty much any constrained subdomain—than hump around on crowded streets hulked up with a universal camera bag (source Mumbai-based photojournalist Dilish Parekh).

Comment: I know my white sheets under blue light (Score 1) 409

by epine (#49168005) Attached to: Is That Dress White and Gold Or Blue and Black?

It appears to me as blue and black. Definitively. First viewed as a whole image, full screen on a tall portrait IPS and then checked on a second landscape IPS (these two screens long ago adjusted to show matched colours).

Both the black and blue appear to me somewhat blown out. Actually, the mottled black almost appears as a mutant non-colour unlike anything one sees in real life (the colour balance algorithm of a digital camera subtracting blue from the black is a perfect explanation for this).

If I scroll so that I can only see the top of the dress (down to just past the horizontal black band across her upper back) I can almost conceive of how some people see this dress as white and gold. What I actually perceive is an ambiguous image under false, untrustworthy light.

In my bedroom I have several unusual light sources which I regularly use. In addition to an incandescent lamp, there an extremely yellow bug lamp and a bright and narrow-spectrum blue LED light intended to shift circadian rhythm.

I love the yellow bug lamp because it's initially so dim I can turn it on briefly while my wife sleeps to find my socks, plus I often use it for reading late in my day so as not to expose myself to blue light. I also had red and green light sources for a while, before I discovered yellow bug-light perfection (the red and green bulbs were 40 W coloured-glass bulbs that constantly smelled bad because they instantly baked any stray dust—a failed experiment).

I have pretty good sense in my bedroom of which colours are more or less trustworthy under vastly different lighting conditions. Even under my narrow-spectrum blue light (in an otherwise dark bedroom) I can't make anything white look like this photograph. In my bedroom under a pure blue illumination (75% between 450 and 480 nm, centered at 464 nm; with 490 nm attenuated by 10 dB compared to the spectral peak) the highlights on my white sheets where the light is strongest are more saturated, and the dimmer regions are less saturated, opposite my impression of this photograph.

Perhaps people who spend a lot of time watching TV in dark rooms where people are wearing white clothing are conditioned differently.

Comment: Re:Let it happen (Score 1) 340

by epine (#49152889) Attached to: We Stopped At Two Nuclear Bombs; We Can Stop At Two Degrees.

I imagine you'd start by laying down a set of climate benchmarks, agree on what is an acceptable variation under normal conditions, then should the averages begin to venture beyond those on the regular basis ...

I don't think you've read much Taleb. Your "benchmark" sounds like something freshly checked out from the LTCM Lemma Loans Library.

In a sufficiently complex system (Rule 110), means are not guaranteed to exist (Cauchy--Lorentz distribution).

Jay Rosen on

Still, we would be better off if we knew when we were dealing with a wicked problem, as opposed to the regular kind. If we could designate some problems as wicked we might realize that "normal" approaches to problem-solving don't work. We can't define the problem, evaluate possible solutions, pick the best one, hire the experts and implement. No matter how much we may want to follow a routine like that, it won't succeed. Institutions may require it, habit may favor it, the boss may order it, but wicked problems don't care.

And he's specifically thinking about this particular problem.

Know any problems like that? Sure you do. Probably the best example in our time is climate change.

It's an open question whether the earth's climate is still considered to be a wicked problem 500 years from now, or five million years from now. Even a future Extropian Eloi might find themselves stuck with having to participate in a climate lottery.

Comment: Re:Wrong conclusion (Score 4, Insightful) 134

by epine (#49152069) Attached to: Adjusting To a Martian Day More Difficult Than Expected

I have a circadian rhythm disorder. Not long ago I free-ran at 25.5 hours for several years. Advancing by 1.5 hours per day, you're making adjustments to the world around you ever two or three days. Endlessly. I would have mortgaged a minor limb to change my rotational period from 17 days to 21 days. Just to be able to stay in a consistent phase with the day of the week would have been a major blessing.

I had previously tried melatonin with mixed success. At best, having exhaustively worked through many doses and times, it seemed to reduce my period to 24.25 hours, a little less than 2 hours per week. This is no bed of roses, either. And the melatonin was taking a three hour chunk of out every evening where I was yawning like a date-raped hedgehog waiting impatiently for a fresh coat of paint to dry in his homey bungalow, listless and unable to anything more complicated than cook dinner—usually a fairly simple dinner.

Recently I tried melatonin again in a sustained-release formulation (newly discovered at retail) and this magically worked much better. At a large dose, I'm able to stay on a 24-hour day permanently, over very close to it. The daily date rape continues to suck.

At lower doses—minus the daily date rape—I seem to stay near a 24-hour day, with unplanned excursions when it all comes unglued. This might well be addressed by further tweaking. I've ever so close now to having the best of both worlds.

The operative parameter with circadian rhythm disorder is that there's no such thing as "merely" a flesh wound for a haemophiliac. My clock drifts because there's something broken in the entrainment circuit. A haemophiliac bleeds because there's a gash or puncture or rash, but he continues to bleed because the blood chemistry required for blood clotting is MIA.

A normal person experiencing severe jet lag (say a trip to Japan or Australia) is in a horrible, unpleasant, barely functional place. In my metaphor, you feel weak because you're gushing blood. In this state, your clotting reflex (if you have a clotting reflex) is actually on overdrive. The stress is horrible, but the body is rapidly adapting and compensating. If you make it through the first day, you hope the second day will suck a little bit less, until after a few days, it hardly sucks at all, then you're body finishes making the adjustment, and everything becomes normal again.

For a person such as myself trying to maintain a 24-hour day without melatonin, the process goes the other direction. Light jet lag turns in moderate jet lag, and moderate jet lag soon becomes severe jet lag, and severe jet lag soon gives way to waking hypnagogic hallucinations. Every one of my attempts to force myself into adherence with the 24-hour clock on will-power alone developed along this path over two weeks. I was as cognitively impaired at this point as that time I got a bit too carried away in a bout of binge drinking, to an extent I never repeated again. And still the bleeding continued. By this point your will-power is so diminished, you need a jeweller's work bench and a steady hand to make even the smallest life decision. You know you're suffering like hell, but you've almost forgotten what crazy notion drove you to try maintaining a 24-hour waking day.

From French invasion of Russia:

The cold was so intense that bivouacking was no longer supportable. Bad luck to those who fell asleep by a campfire! ... One constantly found men who, overcome by the cold, had been forced to drop out and had fallen to the ground, too weak or too numb to stand. ... Once these poor wretches fell asleep they were dead. If they resisted the craving for sleep, another passer-by would help them along a little farther, thus prolonging their agony for a short while, but not saving them, for in this condition the drowsiness engendered by cold is irresistibly strong. Sleep comes inevitably, and to sleep is to die. I tried in vain to save a number of these unfortunates. The only words they uttered were to beg me, for the love of God, to go away and let them sleep. To hear them, one would have thought sleep was their salvation. Unhappily, it was a poor wretch's last wish. But at least he ceased to suffer, without pain or agony. Gratitude, and even a smile, was imprinted on his discoloured lips. What I have related about the effects of extreme cold, and of this kind of death by freezing, is based on what I saw happen to thousands of individuals. The road was covered with their corpses."

Yes, all my forcible 24-hour experiments ended at some point in the third week when I would blindly stagger into my bed with the hint of a smile upon my discoloured lips. The only difference is that after a sixteen-hour sleep of the dead, I actually woke up again feeling like a million bucks. When I used to bike tour, I would become so ravenous that a simple peanut butter sandwich would taste like nectar of the gods. This was like waking up after your best sleep ever, multiplied by nectar_of_gods / peanut_butter.

The cure for people who lack the cognitive equipment to distinguish bleeding from haemophilia is Insomniac by Gayle Greene (520 pages, 2008). Gayle is a professor of English with a Ph.D. from Columbia University. Somehow she's managed to stay employed at a high level despite her intractable sleep disability. I admire her grit. Think Mattie Ross bunkered down in a survival shelter for thirty years to outlast nuclear winter.

Some of the feedback on this book suggests that the author is a sharp-tongued and doth protest too much. Somehow I imagine that most of this criticism comes from the same people who regard the loss of yet another 1/2" of leg room in cattle class as being worth a half-hour bitch session with their seat mate. I have a feeling Mrs Greene's sustained snark—sleep loss affects the mood like PMS on steroids, that's the whole point of her book—quickly becomes hard to bear for people who enjoy complaining about minor things.

What does the Lubyanka, Hanoi Hilton, and Abu Ghraib all have in common? Sleep deprivation. Tough customers who are willing to endure the physical abuse, soon discover that extreme sleep deprivation dissolves your identity and spirit from the inside out (taken too far, it ultimately destroys your thermo-regulation, and then you die).

Case 0: Your body gets used to the 24.7 hour day, with no physical symptoms. Whatever zeitgebers are influencing your body clock are sufficiently strong to achieve normal entrainment to a abnormal entrainment period.

Case 1: The extra forty minutes gives you a mild case of jet-lag, but the jet-lag causes your body to adjust proportionately. Maybe a permanent state of mild jet-lag is just the cost of doing business on a 24.7 hour day.

Case 2: Your body fails to track the lengthened sleep period. You go in and out of jet lag on a week by week basis as your internal body clock syncopates with your sleep routine.

Case 3: Your body fails to track the lengthened sleep period, and the constant stress drives your sleep clock into some horrible non-state that never abates.

Case 3A: You somehow managed to cope with this by adopting a fragmented, irregular sleep routine (best attempted by those under the age of thirty, when energy reserves are high enough to ride the dips out).

Case 3B: You don't manage to cope with it, and become permanently trapped in hazy zombie gulag house of mirrors (stress-induced haemophilia).

Next we have the orthogonal matter of whether your sleep routine tracks your living environment, of whether your sleep routines syncopates with your living environment.

Case 0: Sleep and environment track together. You might or might not suffer from the length of the circadian day imposed upon you, but at least if you are suffering you can make stable plans to work around your suffering.

Case 1: Your sleep might track the rotation of Mars, but the living environment on Mars marches to its own drummer (like the submarines some have mentioned). Every you wake up with a different orientation to the environment around you. If you're bleary, weary, and far from your best from the moment you awake (and for much of the day) this is an extremely challenging environment to live within.

Case 1A: The daily drift is smallish, maybe an hour a week or a little more. You'll have enough stability in your routine that the changing phase can be managed incrementally.

Case 1B: The daily drift is large, 20 to 40 minutes a day. You'll be able to adapt incrementally, but you'll be aware of having to manage this all the time.

Case 1C: The drift is huge, 40-70 minutes a day. You'll think consciously about the phase-of-the-day first thing on waking, last thing on retiring, and at every meal time in between. It will be Monday morning, and you'll think back to Monday morning from the previous week like a time when you lived in an entirely different country. You'll probably buy a Pebble watch and program it to constantly display your internal body clock as well as the local time the coordinates your living environment.

Case 1D: The drift is stupendous, 70 minutes or more a day. Not only will you buy a Pebble watch and program it yourself with a custom calendar for a "market of one person" (Gershenfeld). You'll create strange names for each and every phase relationship, so you can keep track of your incessant daily adjustments cycle over cycle. You'll be overheard muttering to yourself "it's the third day of the spider, Brumaire the seventh" and people will think you just teleported onto planet earth from the Second Revolutionary Epoch of the Ferengi Reformation. If you're the conscientious type, you'll experiment with prescription amphetamines. This will help to some degree, while drawing you into whole new vistas of personal weirdness, which you'll welcome with open arms because you're so damn fed up with the incessant, all-too-familiar weirdness. (If you're not the conscientious type, your medicine cabinet will soon resemble the pagan love-child of Glenn Gould and L. Ron Hubbard).

Nothing in life is quite as important as you think it is while you're thinking about it.
                                                                — Daniel Kahneman

There's an interesting corollary to this wonderful gem of wisdom. Nothing adds up as fast as a circadian drift of five minutes per day when you stop thinking about it.

When you really live with a condition like this, if it's mild, there's this tendency to start thinking about life issues, like the recent fight with your bunk mate, and forget about your small problem.

Just five minutes a day sustained for five weeks—e.g. a thrilling library book you've already renewed once because you never even got around to cracking the cover by the time the original due date rolled around—turns lunch into breakfast.

People get this all wrong because they think in terms of homeostatic jet lag (i.e. jet lag minus the haemophilia term). And they get this wrong because they forget that time soon slips by in months, seasons, and years. Finally, people get this wrong because they don't think clearly about whether the period stress lies within the zone of biological accommodation, or lies outside the zone of biological accommodation (and when it lies outside the zone, whether the stress is ignored or induces the entire system into chaos).

The SCN is actually a complicated little thing. Here's a recent paper (2014) which provides a good starting point for anyone interested in the literature.

The clock shop: Coupled circadian oscillators Here's a paragraph extremely interesting to me, personally, as I have not before encountered the GABA pathway:

Decreasing GABAergic tone by genetically deleting the Na(V)1.1 sodium channel leads to impaired communication between the ventral and dorsal SCN and, intriguingly, a longer circadian period. Furthermore, pharmacological blockade of GABAA receptors or reducing GABA release with Na(V)1.1 deletion decreases the ability of the SCN to adjust to shifts in the light cycle, presumably by impairing communication between ventral and dorsal SCN. Thus, GABA appears to play an important role in long-range, rapid synaptic communication in the SCN to facilitate entrainment to environmental cycles.

I'm pretty sure part of my problem is that normal light-cycle entrainment has almost no effect on me. I've even used the Philips goLITE BLU (what sleep-deprived marketing drooloid styled that handle?) Light exposure when I'm sleeping does, however, substantially reduce my sleep quality; and white light exposure late in my circadian day does increase my latency to sleep onset. Phase effects? Forget about it.

In electrical engineering terms, coupled oscillators can exhibit degenerate coupling modes (usually where one flips over, and the coupling phase changes by 180 degrees). This was recognized from the mathematical model, then a light/dark stimulation program was devised to see if it could be triggered in an animal model (hamster is what I recall), and it was actually observed. (I haven't looked at that paper for years, so I'm rusty on the details.)

As I presently understand it, the SCN is actually just a reference clock. Nearly every tissue in the body contain local "clocks" that govern gene expression patterns. Most of these local clocks are coupled to the global reference clock, so the entire system stays on Moscow Standard Time. This prevents the liver from going into a metabolic housekeeping cycle right before the main daily feed.

The brain, in particular, does an immense amount of housekeeping. When all this housekeeping is coordinated (aka consolidated) we call this "sleep". Mess up the sleep program badly enough, and different subsystems in the brain begin to schedule housekeeping pretty much at random—including while you're wide awake. The sleep expert James Maas has some online talks where he discusses microsleeps and the neurological function of sleep spindles (recently discovered, and extremely interesting).

Also recommended is The Family That Couldn't Sleep: A Medical Mystery by D. T. Max. This book is not quite what it pretends to be.

First, members of this family sleep just fine until they reach a certain age. In this respect the condition resembles Huntington's disease. Then because of what is now believed to be a prion disorder, their ability to regulate consolidated sleep goes MIA. The afflicted quickly descend into a personal hell, and die without fail inside of two years. The meat of this book, however, concerns the scandalous history of breeding in and in and its probable contribution to "mad cow"-ish diseases in modern livestock. (Like the fat slav Mengele threw into an ice-water swimming pool who survived for forty-two minutes[*], prions laugh at bleach or steam for a long time.)

[*] Research shows that forty-two percent of all statistics are made up on the spur of the moment.

WARNING: The above book is not suitable for deregulationists (NSFD). There is, however, a fat chapter devoted to an alleged, convicted, and largely self-confessed pervert who pursued his deviance on an epic canvass.

Finally, the commonly-accepted 25-hour circadian day is complete hogwash. As I recall it, the original experiment erred in not sufficiently reducing ambient light. Sensitivity to low light levels was not properly understood. All recent research places the endogenous rhythm at just a hair over 24 hours.

Bah, I just typed so much I can't be bothered even to skim it for obvious errors.

Comment: Re:Stupid assumptions (Score 1) 147

by epine (#49115597) Attached to: Looking Up Symptoms Online? These Companies Are Tracking You

Do not do anything on the internet you would not do in your front lawn.

Unimpeachable advice, if you've satisfied with having 100% of your brain devoted to the problem of what idiots with power might possibly think.

There's a name for what happens when people draw false conclusions from information they've obtained by skulking around that was never intended for their ears in the first place: it's called situation comedy.

Your advice is a prescription for madness on a global scale.

Comment: paradoxically (Score 1) 122

by epine (#49096595) Attached to: The Science of a Bottomless Pit

But then the gravity (paradoxically) gets weaker, and the density of air filling the shaft gets larger, meaning that you slow down tremendously.

I'm pretty sure that 80% of the time that the word "paradoxically" shows up, what it really means is "don't worry your pretty freckles thinking too hard".

Maybe we need to invent the companion word "patradoxically" to mean "this is actually completely obvious, but since you have freckles, we'll pretend that it isn't".

I suppose some law of gravity as conceived by a clever ten-year-old could be extraordinarily high at an epsilon displacement from the centroid of a just-a-titch oblate, spherical mass, but then you'd have to postulate a tiny black hole at the turtle point, protected by a hard chocolate coating of quantum-gravity exclusion effect (or a really, really strong, short-distance-repulsive nuclear gasbag force).

Comment: Re:Continues does a great job, but... (Score 1) 165

by epine (#49061209) Attached to: Star Trek Continues Meets Kickstarter Goal, Aims For Stretch Goals

Problem with the beautiful future of Trek is that there's no real evidence that we're becoming better people. And exploiting space would permit us to continue an extractive existence.

That's exactly what the first algae said when it washed up on a stony beach. And so it was, until some algal cell with a shiny dome particularly free from cilia ascended to the very top of a stony outcropping.

Comment: Re:Climate models (Score 1) 264

by epine (#49056327) Attached to: NASA: Increasing Carbon Emissions Risk Megadroughts

1. If its warm its global warming, lets have a press release and call for the end of the world.
2. If its cold its climate change, lets have a press release and call for the end of the world.
3. If it rains its climate change, lets have a press release and call for the end of the world.
4. If it doesn't rain its climate change, lets have a press release and call for the end of the world.
5. If its humid its climate change, lets have a press release and call for the end of the world.
6. If its dry its climate change, lets have a press release and call for the end of the world.
7. If we get a breeze its climate change, lets have a press release and call for the end of the world.

By my scoring, I get this:

1. 0 for 3
2. 0 for 3
3. 0 for 2
4. 1 for 3
5. 0 for 3
6. 0 for 3
7. 0 for 2

Comment: Re:The alternative (Score 1) 411

by epine (#49036177) Attached to: Your Java Code Is Mostly Fluff, New Research Finds

There must be some great examples of 'too-clever APL' out there unless the mag tapes and IBM 2311s they were saved on have all Gone South by now.

Learning APL as my first high level programming language (at age 18) was one of the best things I ever did.

The vast majority of "cleverness" in APL one-liners involved exploiting deep mathematical identities which were completely obvious once mentally unpacked. If you used the language enough, you started to recognize certain chunks of symbols as idioms, and you could pretty quickly guess which mathematical mother sauce had been tarted up with carrots and pine nuts. You practically felt your IQ growing as you gained fluency.

The human mind is amazingly sophisticated as some very difficult tasks (ask anyone who has ever studied human vision) but at the same time we stumble over double negatives (to say nothing of triple negatives) which involves nothing more than determining the parity of a small integer.

Anyone who has ever assembled a BBQ knows just how badly the human brain handles the dihedral group D_4. If every piece in the kit was marked with its symmetry code, there would be far fewer BBQ assembly nightmares (like not initially noticing a small asymmetric drill hole in a strut that is otherwise completely reversible).

And why is it possible to tell someone to head north, turn right, go a bit, turn left, go another bit, turn left again, pass the church, then turn right and look for your destination and not have the person immediately know the direction of the final street? It's vastly easier than many other mental functions that we do do effortlessly.

APL makes one small step of logical necessity which involves one giant leap of man's brain: that we really can be taught not to be ignoramuses about the orientation of a multidimensional array after it is transposed in three different ways as it works it's way through an expression operating along different subsets of axes.

The bad kind of cleverness is relying on something that's kind of arbitrary about your data structure or its arrangement. "Well, in that case, it just falls through to the zero that terminates the following data object after walking a few extra bytes." (Don't suppose that assembly language coders working with just a few hundred bytes of RAM or ROM didn't regularly do exactly this kind of thing.)

You never get that kind of thing in APL, because that language is stripped down to mathematical essentials and almost completely devoid of weird-arbitrary-thingness.

If your application domain was full of weird arbitrary thingness, APL was a pretty poor match as a choice of programming language. You wanted to use APL to solve problems where some kind of deep order was in there screaming to rise to the surface.

You might think something was kind of too cleverish on first pass, but 90% of the time your final verdict escalated from clever to deep.

Everything I programmed in APL assumed that the vast majority of working data lived in system memory, like some kind of calculator on steroids. It was far from a great systems language.

It's because of my early experience with APL that I began permanently immune to certain kinds of fuzzy thinking. The only way to program a computer to pass the Turing test where it's as bad as the human mind at simple parity or tracking compass directions or mapping BBQ parts onto D_4 is to use neural networks that mimic the construction of the human brain.

Do you really think that Robocop cares if he's holding a book upside down? There might be situations where a book balances better with the fat side on the right, regardless of text orientation. When he gets to the mid point, he rotates the book 180 degrees and starts flipping the pages in the opposite direction.

Is he being too clever, or is he just being sensible, without the encumbrance of a ridiculous human perceptual asymmetry?

Human cognitive limitations are rather Byzantine. Our programming languages get so bound up with catering to our cognitive limitations that we succumb to writing algorithms that are less than pure or fully general, and we hardly notice.

Commander Data would not agree that APL was peculiarly amenable to excess cleverness. In truth, he would argue the complete opposite—unless he had his weird human cognitive limitations chip installed and fully activated.

This entire article too silly to bother comprehending so far as I can see, but one fundamental aspect of source text they clearly aren't thinking about (which can be determined without even comprehending the text) is that program texts form an evolution space, highly suggestive of similar programs that might be constructed within a short edit distance. Part of the function of program text is to correctly specify what it doesn't yet do, but could reasonably be made to do. (Bad code bases fail in this essential function, as you can never tell if what appears to be a reasonable change will work as expected until you actually try it.)

APL was a tiny language best described as the anti-PHP.

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.
                                                        — Aldous Huxley

Comment: found money thought experiment (Score 1) 480

by epine (#49035827) Attached to: The Mathematical Case For Buying a Powerball Ticket

As a consumable, one lottery ticket lets you dream of winning the lottery - hope is a powerful thing, you can talk compound interest and balanced portfolio all you want but only the lottery gives you the chance of instantly getting $175 million.

You're leaving out meteor strikes with a solid gold core. No need to calculate exact odds. This is a found-money thought experiment. They're just as much fun to think through as a lottery ticket, without involving the kinds of ark-B people who enrich themselves selling losing propositions to poor people.

Or, if you don't have your own back yard, you can always use a cheap Chinese wok to pan for gold in the bath tub, on the principle of transfluoridation. The real reason people buy lottery tickets is to avoid the domestic strife of everyone trying to monopole-ize the bathtub at the same time. Plus the fact that hot water costs real money.

Or, if you don't even have your own bath tub, you can believe that you're a trillionaire on planet Tresfunadore and you're taken there every night on the ethersubwarp, only for some very good reason that's presently slipped your mind, you can't remember all the joys and wonders while you're awake in your earthling body in your mysterious but very important mission here on planet earth.

Comment: Re:Start of th End (Score 1) 196

by epine (#49034141) Attached to: Firefox To Mandate Extension Signing

then they jumped ship to deal with Yahoo instead for some ungodly reason

Considering that Firefox had the power to compel Google to throw giant sums of money at them indefinitely and for all time as per the DOJ's premonic Google anti-trust settlement, it is truly inexplicable that they would turn to a pittance from Yahoo instead.

Comment: Re:I assume the Wikimedia developers... (Score 1) 94

by epine (#49026509) Attached to: The Bizarre and Complex Story of a Failed Wikipedia Software Extension

No, the real joke is that someone actually thought "one of the greatest collaborative efforts in history" would somehow NOT to be riddled with politics at every level.

It's no joke that people think this is the real joke. No person with half a brain thought that Wikipedia was immune to politics, just as no person with half a brain thought that democracy would prove immune to politics.

What thinking people thought is that Wikipedia politics would be different from ordinary politics, and perhaps orthogonal in certain interesting dimensions. Adding orthogonality to a hidebound system is generally a net win. Democracy hasn't made the world a worse place just because it failed. Most likely it did bring us closer to taking the next step.

In my opinion, Wikipedia politics were substantially orthogonal to regular politics until too much of the admin dialog began to occur in unrecorded side channels, which neuters the transparency of a permanent and transparent record of who advocated what and why and with what justification.

Apparently (on the basis of much carping, though I myself have never had to deal with it) many of the admins have aggregated themselves into circle-jerk sock puppets behind the scenes. Exactly the same problem potentially exists at any poker table with more than two players. There are obvious ways to collude and there are subtle ways to collude. This problem is in no way peculiar to Wikipedia.

Strong Nash equilibrium

The strong Nash concept is criticized as too "strong" in that the environment allows for unlimited private communication. In fact, strong Nash equilibrium has to be Pareto-efficient. As a result of these requirements, Strong Nash rarely exists in games interesting enough to deserve study.

Here's an attempt to delineate a middle ground (which strikes me as not-so-middle):

Coalition-proof Nash equilibrium

Any contribution you can make to this body of knowledge will be hugely appreciated.

Comment: Re: WTF (Score 1) 297

by epine (#49007197) Attached to: Canadian Climate Scientist Wins Defamation Suit Against National Post

I haven't seen the original articles.

I think I did read the original articles, but I'm not certain and now it's going to take some work to dig them up again so I can re-evaluate my original conclusions in light of this law suit. How very clever of Mr Weaver to aggressively remove the undo key from my mental keyboard.

Computer Science is the only discipline in which we view adding a new wing to a building as being maintenance -- Jim Horning