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Comment: another booking at the Hobbit Hotel (Score 1) 800

by epine (#48887479) Attached to: Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

If you don't notice a flashing green light barely in your peripheral vision I would start to wonder if you ought to be driving at all.

At my height, the steering wheel blocks out half the dashboard. And, no, I can't fix this problem with a phone book (even if such a thing was still available).

My problem is that I'm forced to recline to a halfway recumbent position to keep from mashing my head into the ceiling.

In many vehicles I end up reclined so far back that I can barely reach the steering wheel. And, no, this is not because I have short arms. It's because the rear passenger window has now entered my peripheral vision. If this strikes you as strange, then I suspect it's been a long while since you spent any quality time with sin/cosine. (I have a wine bottle a mere 2" too tall for one of my cupboard shelves. If I tilt it to 45 degrees it fits just fine.)

So then I have to crank the seat forward until my knees are striking the front dashboard. Strangely, I don't find this uncomfortable for my legs, unless I wish to move them.

My peripheral vision is now roughly oriented toward the driver's seat-belt pulley, and my eye level is horizontal to the tint line on the windscreen. By the time I get the steering adjusted to a comfortable position, it's almost a certainty that half the dashboard is occluded by the top half of the steering wheel.

I can't see stop lights, either, if I'm first to the light and I've pulled up to the stop line, unless I use the old ear-to-shoulder trick—or I spot some other aspect of the intersection control synchronized to the light I'm waiting on.

What look like large vehicles from the outside are usually just as bad. Sure, the cabin height is increased, but usually they take most of it away with a higher seat height (to better accommodate all those fancy seat motors whose very existence makes the seating position you most desire impossible to achieve).

You should book a week sometime in the Hobbit Hotel. It will do wonders for your imagination concerning the circumstances that others face. Probably you should do this before participating in the design of any mechanical thing to be used by anyone other than a jet fighter pilot (whose physiques are carefully restricted to the design environment).

Comment: Re:Censorship? (Score 1) 417

by epine (#48885977) Attached to: Blogger Who Revealed GOP Leader's KKK Ties Had Home Internet Lines Cut

Actions sometimes send messages, but they are not speech.

Non-verbal actions are not speech (excepting deaf people and Italians and anyone with secure tenure in hard rock D-block and postural nuance of a clever hostage being photographed by his or her kidnapper), but often they are speech acts (in cases too far multitudinous to list here).

Comment: freeze-frame campfire empathy (Score 1) 219

by epine (#48849413) Attached to: Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others

Just last week I read an entire book by Allan and Barbara Pease. Even this book (which promises the moon in three easy lessons) says that body language is best interpreted though consistent clusters.

Here, the static eye test amounts to a form of dead reckoning.

Claiming that this equates to the general ability to read people smacks of claiming that someone who can track big game from muddy impressions and broken twigs has the cognitive drop on Charles Darwin on all matters of big game observation.

As with personality indicators, one could in all likelihood devise fifteen other masked channels (not all of which consist of static images) with roughly the same degree of outcome correlation (where the reference outcome is something like success in group settings).

I also think this study's emphasis on freeze-frame campfire empathy is unfair to male performance. If you're in the business of poking sharp sticks at snakes or lions, the perceptual ability required is not to determine the animal's emotional state (angry, aggressive, threatened, lethal) but to determine moment by moment whether the animal will shrink back or strike forward.

The Pease book is clearly aimed at people in a sales environment (in which I also include making presentations in a board room) where the ability to form extremely rapid first impressions / first-reaction impressions is critical to career success (as opposed to short-term blood retention).

Compare the "it's not your fault" scene in Good Will Hunting (pachydermous elephant in the room) with the extended marital quarrel in Before Midnight (mass stampede of the unshackled lambs).

In the later case, neither spouse is seeing anything he and she haven't seen before (they could each write a book), but their proficiency in scorched-earth integration to identify a workable point of repair is severely put to the test.

Comment: Re:Really? Theory of Mind (Score 1) 219

by epine (#48849201) Attached to: Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others

That sounds a whole like Empathy to me, but dressed up in some fancy new clothes.

How could you know when you identity every person in the entire Empathy clan as just some Jim Bob or Jane Barb from poverty valley?

Empathy was never a precise concept in the first place, and most people are too lazy to clearly distinguish the perceptual side of empathy from the dispositional side (the later of which is heavily conflated with approval seeking and conflict avoidance, and these are further conflated with meekness/aggression, introversion/extroversion, low status/high status).

Dressing empathy up in a recognizable set of clothes (e.g. Marty Mindsight), roughly equates to clearing your throat before attempting to say something civilized.

Comment: rise of woman vs fall of man (Score 1) 154

by epine (#48838375) Attached to: The Anthropocene Epoch Began With 1945 Atomic Bomb Test, Scientists Say

Tying the antropocene epoch to the first nuclear detonation is a brazen attempt to smuggle the Garden of Eden / fall of man metaphor into this discussion under cover of a blinding fireball.

How about using Madame Curie instead, and picking a nice round date like 1900?

In 1900 Curie became the first woman faculty member at the Ecole Normale Superieure [/.sic] ...

I also noted this passage in the Wikipedia article.

Despite Curie's fame as a scientist working for France, the public's attitude tended toward xenophobia—the same that had led to the Dreyfus affair—which also fuelled false speculation that Curie was Jewish. During the French Academy of Sciences elections, she was vilified by the right wing press who criticised her for being a foreigner and an atheist. Her daughter later remarked on the public hypocrisy as the French press often portrayed Curie as an unworthy foreigner when she was nominated for a French honour, but would portray her as a French hero when she received a foreign one such as her Nobel Prizes.

In 1911 it was revealed that in 1910–11 Curie had conducted an affair of about a year's duration with physicist Paul Langevin, a former student of Pierre's—a married man who was estranged from his wife. This resulted in a press scandal that was exploited by her academic opponents. Curie (then in her mid-40s) was five years older than Langevin and was misrepresented in the tabloids as a foreign Jewish home-wrecker.

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. [/.sic]

Comment: Re:Academic wankery at its finest (Score 1) 154

by epine (#48838323) Attached to: The Anthropocene Epoch Began With 1945 Atomic Bomb Test, Scientists Say

Nobody speaks it. The closest anyone comes is "church latin" a near variant used by the Roman Catholic Church. That's what makes latin a dead language.

Applying the colloquial criteria of "dead" to a language that remained—however frozen—in widespread and specialized use over many centuries is a complete waste of time for the present discussion. "Dead" is really just a shortened version of "dead to the evolutionary fads of populism".

One could argue that Perl is presently a near-dead language (it's evolution has become famously glacial) and then on this basis write a script routing all security advisories concerning Perl (such as DSA-2870-1 libyaml-libyaml-perl) straight into the round device.

On the other hand, perhaps Perl isn't quite as "dead" as the idiom suggests. Perhaps Perl is merely catatonic, or just resting.

Comment: Re:pfsense (Score 1) 402

by epine (#48825097) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Migrating a Router From Linux To *BSD?

I have now been told literally dozens of times that "you don't have to install systemd", but no one has yet to back that up with steps for an install without it, or how to remove it from an existing install.

apt-get install OpenBSD

OpenBSD has the best internal documentation, but has relatively weak SMP and narrower hardware support than FreeBSD, neither of which should matter for a vanilla router.

I've heard good things about pfSense, but haven't used it myself.

If you want to dabble with ZFS for a NAS server as well, then I'd just start with FreeBSD which is what I'm presently using for my firewall (the few internet facing services are jailed or priv-sepped), despite having previously used a separate OpenBSD since 1998. For a ZFS box, it's a heck of a lot smarter to have ECC memory, though.

I totally hear you on the current Linux trend to make radical architectural change on the mainline branch with hardly any prior communication or heads up to the existing user base.

Come with me, little kiddie ... this won't hurt a bit.

Comment: Re:As a mathematician... (Score 1) 106

In the world of mathematical research, what the NSA knows is by construction a superset of what the academic community knows.

Modulo pub net (aka Brewsky's) and "unpublished communication".

But apparently you subscribe to the the maxim that the "publish or perish" edict is axiomatically tantamount to "no unpublished thought" which I find interesting, because stuffy academic writing hardly strikes me as Truman Burbank's brainstem Twitter feed.

Not that this is a subject matter where we should stray into the kind of pedantry best reserved for slicing and dicing The Recognitions or Gravity's Rainbow or Infinite Jest, which is how real geeks test their mettle.

Comment: Vietnam depicted as a "fumble" in the jungle (Score 1) 227

by epine (#48809113) Attached to: Lawrence Krauss On Scientists As Celebrities: Good For Science?

We can see how many of the celebrities have fumbled, sport stars, politicians, movie stars, and yes, even religious leaders, they too fumbled.


Either that's bait, or you haven't dialed in lately with your trusty USR to the acerbic backwash concerning America's popular reverence for all things Reverend.

The second such category is of slightly more importance, because it consists of the editors, producers, publicists, and a host of other media riffraff who allowed Falwell to prove, almost every week, that there is no vileness that cannot be freely uttered by a man whose name is prefaced with the word ''Reverend''. Try this: Call a TV station and tell them that you know the Antichrist is already on earth and is an adult Jewish male. See how far you get. Then try the same thing and add that you are the Rev. Jim-Bob Vermin.

Falwell went much further than his mad 1999 assertion about the Jewish Antichrist. In the time immediately following the assault by religious fascism on American civil society in September 2001, he used his regular indulgence on the airwaves to commit treason. Entirely exculpating the suicide-murderers, he asserted that their acts were a divine punishment of the United States. Again, I ask you to imagine how such a person would be treated if he were not supposedly a man of faith.

Here Falwell plays into the meme (strangely accepted by many of faith) of God as a crypto dominatrix who delivers his retribution shrouded in the most complete and thorough back story conceivable about why the perpetrators might have acted on ordinary human motives (these acts, nevertheless, remaining somehow entirely transparent in their divine origin to suitably entitled religious figures).

I personally have to concur with Hitchens final decree on Falwell: "If you gave Falwell an enema he could be buried in a matchbox."

I guess it's for this reason that the relief scene in Bull Durham (SPOILER: theraindelayinvlveshoomanagenci) is less than completely transparent to the off-screen local yokels, who don't the least suspect human motives when a deluge strikes right between the bullpens and doesn't wet a single stalk of corn within a ten mile radius (though I don't recall the movie bothering to suggest this, there really must have been some blustery weather in the space-time vicinity of non-divine origin to make this ploy modestly plausible, even for agrarian America).

Comment: open letter on the bug fix culture of peer review (Score 1) 786

by epine (#48785937) Attached to: Michael Mann: Swiftboating Comes To Science

Dear Michael,

The scientific high ground in this matter is to admit that the original peer review process sucked, lacking as it did any reviewer with sufficient statistical expertise to detect subtle methodological errors, and further, to admit that it does not require a PhD in any discipline to point this out (nor, especially, a peer-reviewed paper) if it happens to be true that the paper contained subtle methological errors (which it did).

It's all well and good that the main result itself seems to have held up under additional scrutiny brought to bear once these admittedly small deficiencies were aptly pointed out. This does not change the fact that the original peer review sucked.

(Perhaps you were merely lucky that your result continued to hold water after your subtle statistical errors were properly addressed. This is why a result that merely holds up isn't worth much in a high stakes debate. Proof by hindsight does not strike me as adequate given the magnitude of societal change that effective mitigation seems to require. To me, the stakes seem to be high enough to demand that critical links in the argumentative chain are right in all necessary respects before they are attached to a giant political lever; or, failing to achieve the almost impossible demand of being right in all essential particulars in peer-reviewed published paper V 1.0, that the culture of climate science embrace with a blazing passion the art of the mea culpa bug fix.)

Ordinarily, the peer review process is not expected to be 100% water tight, as the standard pace of science is stately and the stakes are modest. In this example, you paper served as the fulcrum of the biggest political mud fight of the late twentieth century. If climate scientists think that the fate of humanity and the planet lies in the balance, there shouldn't be even an epsilon gap in the quality of the peer review process.

You can't have it both ways without looking like a complete idiot. And it sure doesn't help your cause to look like an idiot when you're being attacked in a thousand illegitimate ways.

Thanks for your attention to this matter. I look forward to the future scientific culture of rock solid peer review in the first instance.

Live long and prosper,
J. Random hockey fan

(By some strange twist of fate, this was the first item to cross my feed after spending thirty minutes flipping through Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery which I'm presently reading to discovery why David Deutsch, in particular, praises it so highly.)

Comment: Re:Well Then (Score 1) 148

by epine (#48759875) Attached to: Tips For Securing Your Secure Shell

A funny screed, but in the end just as wrong as what it debunks.

The Mossad does not have a bottomless budget. As a result, they generally fabricate pieces of uranium shaped like cellphones in hundred lots. They have even more expensive intrusions, which they fabricate in lots of ten, and then they have the most expensive intrusion of all, which is fabricated like a James Bond concept car (not the car that Bond actually gets, but the one he might get ten years from now).

It really does matter to edit your SSH configuration file to bump yourself up from 10^-9 cost bracket to the 10^-6 cost bracket.

Mossad is not magically except from the 80-20 law. They still try to use the cheapest effective method, and hope to haul in 80% of the catch for 20% of the effort.

If you're in the 99.999th percentile of pure evilness (backed by a private island gold reserve), it's no longer about casting a wide net, and moreover, you already know for certain that you're facing a Mossad-level adversary and you can proceed directly to paranoid schizophrenia.

If you're only in the 20th percentile of pure evilness (you fib on your tax return and download porn off some Shmoe's open wifi) it might just be true that Mossad-level adversaries filter feed at the cost-effective 10^-9 screening bracket.

They went to all this trouble to subvert NIST not because they couldn't break things otherwise, but because they couldn't afford to break things otherwise at the largest possible scale.

Comment: Re:March isn't the only weakness. See WEP - RC4 br (Score 1) 148

by epine (#48759481) Attached to: Tips For Securing Your Secure Shell

In 2016, the attacks on ??? expand to ???. I'm not betting MY customers' security on the answer.

Good luck with having any customers by the time you whittle away every protocol with a potentially expandable attack surface.

As we don't even have a formal theory of quantum computation yet, but we do know that some things can be computed by quantum methods, I don't think any current protocol is entirely exempt from worrying cracks in the plaster.

Whatever you like to tell your customers, there's just no escaping this hard business of having to make a judgement call about which cracks to worry about and which to ignore.

Comment: Re:Hiding is not effective (Score 1) 130

by epine (#48743383) Attached to: Writers Say They Feel Censored By Surveillance

you will open that door

If your disk contains a larger number of large files with the names entropy$N (of which, the vast majority are actually full of entropy) the ability of the judge to distinguish a door from a wall declines to epsilon, at which point the judge might elect to sweat it out of you nevertheless (you're entirely screwed in this eventuality once you have no more passwords to divulge), but then so is the judge who gives a shit (some do) about the logical justification for his abuse of power (he can't actually know you're being willingly non-compliant—even more so if the file exercise_in_civil_liberty.c is found on your system containing code capable of having created those N-k entropy files).

[Yes, I'm aware that any stray disk subsystem metadata must support this story to the nth degree.]

Comment: GotW #50: vector is not a container (Score 1) 80

by epine (#48740633) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Alexander Stepanov and Daniel E. Rose a Question

Alex: I regard my first encounter with the STL (very shortly after its first public release) as one of the great eye-opening moments in my software development career. Unfortunately, as I'm sure you well know, quality of implementation issues in compiler support for the C++ template idiom cultified (i.e. made cult-like) the deeper principles for at least five (if not ten) years thereafter.

GotW #50

I've long regarded the criticism against vector[bool]—I'm not going to fugger with angle brace entitiesâ"not being a container were misguided. Of course, it *must* be a container for reasons of sanity, but to portray the problem as a standardization committee brain fart seems to miss the main point.

Just as STL introduced a hierarchy of iterator potency (that was the main technical innovation behind the STL, was it not?) one could likewise introduce a hierarchy of container potency. The container we ended up returns interators which promise a dereference operator returning an lvalue (it's been a long time since I've used this terminology) which is why the following statement from the linked discussed is expected to work:

typename T::value_type* p2 = &*t.begin();

But actually, of all the uses of containers found in the wild, I highly doubt that more than a small percentage (potentially a very small percentage) exploit the property that interator dereference returns an lvalue rather than an rvalue.

The net effect is that the standard containers promise us a potency we rarely exploit, yet the burden of this potency is universal. Forsake it in even the smallest way, and you'll be shouted out of the room for non-containerhood.

We could have handled vector[bool] by changing the standard container to not promise IDLV (container iterators dereference to lvalue). In cases where the programmer goes ahead and tries to do this, he or she obtains a simple syntax error (ha ha ha) and knows to either reformulate the algorithm to not require this property or to go back and add a specification override to the container setting the IDVL property to true.

With IDVL set, vector[bool] does not specialize.

With IDVL unset, vector[bool] will specialize.

Problem solved, except for the language overhead of introducing (and managing) a container strength hierarchy.

But instead, Herb Sutter decides to write this:

Besides, it's mostly redundant: std::bitset was designed for this kind of thing.

Doesn't that attitude make you want to pound your head upon a table somewhere? Seriously, if one repeats that remark 1000 times, we could almost make the entire STL go away (and return to the world we would have had instead had the STL not rescued us from parsimony mass produced.)

Clearly, there was enough of a pain point in the C++ standarization effort around iterators that the STL gained traction exceedingly quickly (and very late in the day), yet the C++ community is also extremely hidebound about minor pain points, as evidenced by Sutter's explanatory tack.

Obviously, there were some advantages in demonstrating that the STL approach could achieve performance comparable to C (and in some cases, better than C) in proving that the STL was not just another abstraction gained at the expense of runtime overhead (which all looks fine until five or ten different runtime overheads—however small each of these appears in isolation—begin to interact adversely).

But very quickly, the initial quality of implementation issues and the quirky (to be extremely kind) limitations of the C++ template mechanisms threw up some major walls in pursuing the underlying ideas behind the STL more extensively.

So, my question is this, more or less: in retrospect, was the early victory with C++ worth it (it's extremely easy to understimate the value of having a good idea noticed at all), or does the eternal puberty of the C++ STL continue to grate?

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer