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Comment: Re:Statistical Literature (Score 1) 115

Oh, god. Mel Gibson's 1990 Hamlet was awful. It was the most asinine thing I've ever seen. Shakespeare for people who really *are* dummies. Reportedly it was director Franco Zeffirelli's attempt to make Shakespeare "less cerebral" and more accessible to the masses. What a choice to try that with! The whole point of Hamlet is that he's so damned smart the only person who can really stand in his way is him.

My point was that you've got to find an actor who can give a knowledgeable performance. Not some meat-head action star stunt cast miles out of his depth. I'd rather watch Arnold Schwarzenegger Hamlet.

I think the best film adaptation of Hamlet I've seen was Kenneth Branaugh's 1996 version, although it is long, long, long at 242 minutes (to Gibsons' 134 minutes). Olivier's 1948 Hamlet is generally highly regarded, but it's too sentimental for my taste. Haven't seen Derek Jacobi's 1980 BBC performance, but I've heard good things about it. I've seen snippets of the David Tennant Hamlet, and it looks promising, although it's hard to shake the impression that it's Dr. Who playing Hamlet.

Comment: Re:No he didn't (Score 4, Interesting) 134

by hey! (#48024477) Attached to: Man Walks Past Security Screening Staring At iPad Causing Airport Evacuation

Exactly. Security screwed up, and then they HAD to deal with it. It's not mere security theater to have a security checkpoint. Those checkpoints are demonstrably important.

Not many of us remember, but until 1973 there was no baggage screening, no metal detectors, and no id requirements for getting on a commercial flight. The number of skyjackings had climbed rapidly since the mid-50s so that in 1972 there were 11 skyjackings of commercial flights around the world, seven in the US.

After security checkpoints were introduced in the US, there wasn't another skyjacking in the US for three years. Then an occasional one now and then, as people found loopholes. There was one passenger airliner hijacking of a flight FROM the US in all the 1980s and none in the 1990s.

My conclusion is that the security measures put in place by 1990 were highly effective. 9/11 fit the pattern of the early dribs-and-drabs hijackings, the difference is Al Qaeda made an effort to do multiple simultaneous exploitations of the vulnerability they'd found. There hasn't been a hijacking of a US flight since then, but given that the last passenger hijacking BEFORE 9/11 was in 1987, it's likely that this long dry spell is mostly if not entirely due to banning blades from carry on luggage. That's not to say that EVERY other change since then is security theater. I think reinforcing cockpit doors and changing pilot training was a reasonable response. But a lot of the enhanced pat-downs, magic scanners, no-fly list shennanigans and such are no doubt bogus.

Comment: Re:No he didn't (Score 4, Insightful) 134

He did cause the delay.

That is a grossly disingenuous misdescription of the events which took place. What he did was cause his person to be transported from one place to another within the airport. What the security staff did in response was to overreact. They had to do that because they were supposed to stop him from doing what he did. Instead, they noticed it after it happened, and then they went into full batshit panic overreaction mode. That's a typical reaction for law enforcement across the globe. When caught with your pants down, act like it's someone else's fault.

Comment: Re:net metering != solar and 10% needs new physics (Score 1) 260

by hey! (#48024379) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

Your analysis depends on two assumptions. First, that at the daily peak the amount of solar produced exceeds the total demand for electricity. That's actually quite likely to happen in the long term in certain locations -- sunny, densely developed residential neighborhoods for example -- but not in others -- in a neighborhood that has a steel mill. Maybe in the short term in a few places if the adoption of rooftop solar accelerates even more.

One of the ways to alleviate this would be to improve the distribution grid so that the excess supply could be sold further away. But lets say the day comes that the peak solar production exceeds the total electricity demand. That brings us to the second assumption.

The second assumption is that electricity is charged at a flat rate all day long. Clearly if lots of excess solar is being produced at noontime, you could easily reduce the cost you charge to electricity consumers (or pay back to electricity). We already do peak vs. off peak rates for industrial users.

This combination of grid improvements and reduced peak rates will encourage people and businesses to concentrate their power usage around noon. Maybe you'll charge our electric car at a higher rate, or maybe even charge large industrial or household batteries. The losses hardly matter, since we were throwing away the sunshine anyway. Increased noon usage will offset the tendency for electricity rates to fall during peak generation periods.

Am I saying the utilities won't lose a little money in a few isolated spots in the short term? No. What I'm saying is that we're hardly facing some kind of insurmountable singularity. Certainly not any time soon, nor in the long term if we can bring ourselves to prepare for it.

Comment: Re:Hodor (Score 2) 115

Martin will kill off an important character because he has no idea how to write a character arc out of a wet paper bag.

I actually don't think that's true. I think what you're reacting to comes with the epic scale of the novel (SoI&F really is just one, long, continuous work) -- both in word count and the enormous cast of characters. It's a kind of literary clutter. If you boiled Game of Thrones down to the story of Ned Stark's rise and downfall, that would be quite a satisfying (although grim) story arc. The fact that the story goes on and on after that dissipates the emotional impact of that one story line.

At over 1.7 million words currently, Song of Ice and Fire is more than six times as long as typical English translations of the Illiad and Odyssey combined. Think about that. In the time it took you to read just the first volume of Song of Ice and Fire, you could have read BOTH the Illiad and the Odyssey. And as a bonus you'd have read BOTH the Illiad and the Odyssey.

As works go further and further north of 200,000 words, they almost inevitably lose the tight, clockwork structure you expect in a 2 hour stage play or 70,000 word novel. Stories stop feeling like they have a beginning, middle, and end and start to feel more episodic. That happens to some stories well before they hit the 200,000 word mark (American Gods, 183 KWords).

At 473 KWords, Lord of the Rings is one of the rare exceptions. From Rivendell onward it's a marvel of complex yet tightly interwoven structure. But it's a hot steaming mess of false starts up until Ford of Bruinen. Tom Bombadil anyone? I think that it could probably be edited down to 400,000 words without losing much artistically. That's still almost miraculously long for a story that feels like one story.

I have a theory about episodic megastories like Song of Ice and Fire, which is that they aren't catharsis you get from a tightly plotted play or novel. They're about transporting a reader to a world he finds interesting to visit again and again. If so that bodes ill for the the Game of Thrones TV series now that Emilia Clarke has sworn off nude scenes.

Comment: Re:Statistical Literature (Score 1) 115

I don't have to read Shakespeare in Klingon, reading him in the original english is enough to put me to sleep.

Some would say this doesn't deserved to be dignified with a response, but I disagree.

The best introduction to Shakespeares plays is to see them on stage, performed by actors who know how to perform Shakespeare. Because of the shift in language, there's special skill needed for presenting Shakespeare to modern audiences. You'll be amazed at how much you understand. Until you know the play's text you'll be missing a lot too, but in the performance you won't notice that.

I'd go so far as to say it's better to see a Shakespeare play performed first before attempting to read it. Then tackle the text with its footnotes on every line.

Comment: Re:Problem oriented (Score 1) 53

by hey! (#48022831) Attached to: How To Find the Right Open Source Project To Get Involved With

I tried this once. I installed a rather obscure open source app that that turned out to be quite useful to me. But it took me a couple days to get to the point where I could do anything useful with it. And I was only able to do that because I can read source code and have lots of software installation and configuration experience. And because I enjoy a puzzle.

After using the app for a month or two, I thought to myself, "There's got to be thousands and thousands of people who'd benefit from this app, but I bet 99% of the people who try it give up before they have any success. What this project needs is documentation." So I contacted the development team with an offer to write some. I explain that while I'm a developer, not a tech writer, I had written early-adopter oriented documentation for several successful commercial projects, so I knew how to get those people up to speed while the app was still something of a moving target. I also offer to maintain that documentation for at least a year.

I got back a quite haughty response from the project leader stating that he *might* let me write documentation if I became a regular code contributor to the project. Now I'd assumed that his ideas of what documentation was needed might be different from mine, but it turned out he didn't seem interested in documentation at all. Also the response had a weird, hostile vibe; it was as if I'd asked him for hundreds of hours of his time rather than offered him hundreds of mine. So I thanked him for *his* invitation and declined it.

I guess the point is that there are other, social dimensions to choosing a project to contribute to. One of them is whether the project even wants what you have to offer. Another is whether the team seems like people you'd enjoy working with. There are some projects, like the Linux kernel, which are so prestigious that you might well take a lot of crap to be a contributor. But most projects aren't like that.

If you do start our own project, watch the TED video How to Start a Movement.

Comment: Re:good (Score 1) 343

Just note that the evil(tm) will be compounded by the crapware that some OEMs *and* carriers tend to slather onto the phones, on top of what Google is going to require.

At this rate, I hope that every new Android smartphone comes with at least 8GB of onboard storage... I say this as someone who tends to buy phones on the low-end (my little Huawei has maybe 512MB of internal storage + the 32GB micro-SD card that I cannot move the as-built apps onto...)

Comment: Re:Anarchy??? (Score 2) 286

It has not descended, it was born as an Anarchy. Internet is anarchic by design.

The internet != TCP/IP.

TCP/IP was designed to be peer-to-peer, and assumed that you could trust your directly connected peers to behave themselves. There's your anarchy. But the internet depends upon things like IP allocation and name resolution, which are the opposite of anarchic.

Comment: Re:Anarchy??? (Score 5, Insightful) 286

by hey! (#48017267) Attached to: Piracy Police Chief Calls For State Interference To Stop Internet "Anarchy"

Somebody forwarded me an article the other day about how we should all switch to dairy from grass fed cows. Now many of the points in the piece I happen to agree with, but one of the claims was that grass-fed dairy has fewer "toxins". Whenever I see "toxins" used without further specification as to what exactly the "toxin" is, that's a signal that someone's trying to sell something expensive but useless -- which turned out to be the case. The piece was hawking stuff you were supposed to mix into your grass-fed milk, which is a good way to expose yourself to toxins given how weakly regulated supplements are.

People use ideas like "law and order" in just the same way as marketers use "toxins". It's all well and good to say you're going to stop people from breaking the law on the Internet, but what specifically are you proposing to do? Set up an anti-fraud unit? I'll cheer you on. Monitor everyone's email? That cure's worse than the disease.

But I also have to say that the word "freedom" is just as subject to misuse -- or in this case "anarchy". Now there are many things about anarchy I like. There are others I don't. I don't like having to remove malware off my wife's computer. I don't like having to be vigilant that my older relatives aren't taken in by Internet scammers. I don't like having to deal with attacks on my websites. Even government agencies poking around in your Internet data -- that could be seen as a case of the agency exploiting a specific lack of Internet regulation.

I'm all for reducing my exposure to toxins, but I'm not going to get colon irrigated. I'm for cracking down on Internet crime, but not at the expense of the government doing things that *ought* to be criminalized. I'm for freedom, but not the freedom to interfere with other people's freedom. It's really not that complicated. Find out the specifics of what people are proposing to do, even when their stated goal sounds reasonable.

Comment: Re:Treasonous CIA gets more taxpayer money (Score 5, Informative) 241

by hey! (#48016189) Attached to: At CIA Starbucks, Even the Baristas Are Covert

Not to interfere with your nascent flame-war or anything but "self-funding" is not inconsistent with "getting more taxpayer money". First, they may get larger appropriations while at the same time running side businesses. Second, even if their appropriation were cut to zero, any money they make on the side becomes "taxpayer money."

One of the most fundamental principles of our form of government is that no executive branch agency can spend money without Congressional approval, no matter where that money came from. The reasons for this go back to the English Civil War. Charles I attempted to rule without calling Parliament, but since the Magna Carta English kings did not have the power of taxation; the House of Commons did. So Charles attempted an end-run by exploiting a fee that had been traditionally levied on coastal towns to pay for maritime protection in time of war. Charles's attempt to use "Ship Money" as a revenue source independent of Parliament was one of the key events leading to the Civil War, and was familiar history to the framers of the US Constitution.

Comment: Re:Survivorship Bias (Score 1) 113

by ledow (#48015479) Attached to: Mystery Gamer Makes Millions Moving Markets In Japan

More directly, any sort of winning on a "bet" you make has to come from somewhere. Some guy loses out, or some stock exchange gives you money that it's inevitably getting from someone else as they lose.

Gambling, or trading, overall, is not a zero-sum game. Your earnings have come from someone else's loss - PLUS commission. The guys earning commission are raking it in with little or no loss. But the guys the other end - they are the ones "giving" you that money, one way or another. Maybe via third-parties, maybe from their own companies, maybe from their own mistakes, maybe just in allowing the stock exchange to balance out and be profitable to operate while you're winning on the other, but the money has come from somewhere. It didn't magic out of thin air.

Vegas and lotteries are the same. Yeah, you might win a million. The million came from some other MORE THAN ONE MILLION poor saps each spending one (of whatever currency) trying to win the million. And nothing is guaranteed. If you have a brain you stop once you've won big. To keep going is not only a sign of greed, but a sign of some stupidity. Before long, the tide will turn and if you're stupid you'll spend whatever you have left hoping that the next hand will fall your way.

So you only ever hear of people winning big - and then never hearing of them again, or winning big and then stopping playing. The "I pissed away millions" story just makes people think you're a stupid fucker, so it's not that those stories don't exist or aren't heard, it's that nobody has any sympathy for *that* guy.

Similarly for all those celebs who were earning millions and then have to declare themselves bankrupt. It's news both ends. But if you're wanting to make it big, you won't care about the second story because "you're not that stupid".

Comment: Re:Asimov (Score 1) 399

by hey! (#48014571) Attached to: The Physics of Space Battles

Or... he could just toss that ball bearing out the airlock.

When an aircraft intercepts another aircraft, it's closing velocity is limited to between the difference of the aircraft's top airspeed (if one is overtaking another) to the sum of their top airspeeds (if they are closing head on). That's because both aircraft "want", in the absence of energy expended, to match velocities to the air they're moving through.

There's no limit (other than relativity) on the closing velocities of spacecraft, so when one craft intercepts another in the minimum time.possible, it's closing speed can be, in fact likely would be on the order of tens of km/s, an order of magnitude faster the autocannon rounds fired by modern fighter jets. If an intercepting spacecraft wants to have a classic sci-fi space dogfight, it has to expend considerable time and energy not only matching position with the target spacecraft, but matching velocity as well.

I use this this conflict between matching position in the minimum time and matching velocities in my own stories, although from what I can see that's not a common practice.

16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Serling