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Comment: Re:Why is this news? (Score 1) 379

by istartedi (#47435933) Attached to: The First Person Ever To Die In a Tesla Is a Guy Who Stole One

dead red laws

I see Virginia is listed. I wish there had been such a thing back in the 80s. I sat for what seemed like 5 minutes on rt. 50, waiting for a left turn arrow. It was mid-day so there was very little traffic (it's a parking lot during rush). I had at least 1/4 mile line of sight, maybe more. I honestly thought the signal was broken, and that's what I told the cop who was either behind me or camped under a tree where I didn't see him. There was no arguing on the spot, and it's the only time I ever went to traffic court, where the excuse didn't fly either. But hey, at least the 70 year old half-blind lady who caused an accident got to keep their license. I learned a lot of lessons that day.

To this day, I also wonder if that cop was dicking with the signals to make his quota.

Comment: Business search sadly broken (Score 1) 131

by istartedi (#47427077) Attached to: How Google Map Hackers Can Destroy a Business

Business search is sadly broken in many ways. Whenever I google for a service that I actually need, there are dozens upon dozens of sites at the top of the results. No doubt they're all SEO'd there. When you follow the links, what do you get? A boiler-plate script along the lines of $foo is an experienced contractor in $bar who serves the $locality area. In fact, he does nothing of the sort if he even exists.

The surveillatizing industry does a fantastic job of tracking us and shoving shit-ads at us for stuff we don't want.

And yet, when I'm searching for a service that I ACTUALLY WANT TO PAY FOR, I have to deal with all this dreck.

I figure it must be click-bait, since I've clicked on it because it's misleading. I have a couple ad-blocking methods running concurrently, so I almost never see 3rd party ads there; but I can't imagine what other motive there would be to provide absolutely useless boilerplate like that.

BTW, I guess you could extend this out even further to say that many things other than searching for a business are broken by click-baiters.

Take any question, really. "Who won the 1950 World Series". And although I haven't tested this yet, I'm willing to wager somebody has a site out there that will tell you something like, "The 1950 World Series is available on eBay. Click here to learn more about 1950 World Series products, etc..."

The AI that does this shit is usually pretty smart, but sometimes you get gems like, "The best cleaning products for your World Series".

Comment: Theology now? (Score 1) 279

by istartedi (#47422209) Attached to: The Lovelace Test Is Better Than the Turing Test At Detecting AI

This business of the developers not knowing how it works. It reminds me of the question "How can God create a being that sins. Doesn't that make Him responsible?". One way to answer that is that God withdraws his authority within the a locus that we call the "soul". What happens there isn't his action. This implies that while knowingly taking actions that lead to wrong is immoral, withdrawing your power from a particular locus and opening things up to potential wrongs is not immoral.

It has nothing to do with intelligence though. The "soul" could be as dumb as a post.

Comment: Re:pointers (Score 1) 411

by istartedi (#47421369) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

On *NIX systems you will usually get a segfault. I'm not sure if you will *always* get a segfault. The term "segfault" is specific to *NIX. On Windows it was called "invalid page fault" and I don't know what old school Apple stuff called it. That's beside the point.

The truly heinous bugs don't come from accessing memory outside your allotted segments anyway. They come from accessing memory within your allotted segments in erroneous ways. This leads to stuff like, "Hey, the 2nd time I called that function the structure's 2nd element had a different value, even though I did nothing to the structure". You know the bug is someplace else, potentially anywhere in the program where you could have walked off the edge of the sidewalk.

Comment: Re:pointers (Score 1) 411

by istartedi (#47410005) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

having a generation of students that don't know how to use pointers seems, rather scary to me.

Just a quick googling reveals that Python has "list index out of range" errors. So. The difference is one of consequence, not of type. In C you get undefined behavior.

Yes, it would be good for the new generation to have some "to the metal" experience; but it's not that great a loss. If they have to go there, you can simply tell them that going out of range is much more of a PiTA. The new languages protect them somewhat; but the concepts are still there.

Comment: Re:Dynamite and gasoline are the only way to go... (Score 1) 340

by istartedi (#47383383) Attached to: On 4th of July:

It was related to me by my father, who was probably told this by *his* father. In regards to the mining town where they lived until my father was 4. People would take home a little dynamite from the mine, much in the way office workers might grab a stapler or some pens. They'd blow it up on the 4th. I guess management didn't mind too much on that one day. They probably did the same thing. Talk about a different era! We're talking almost 100 years ago now. This would be near Uniontown, PA by the way. Does anybody else with roots in that area have similar stories handed down?

Comment: Re:Why do we permit (Score 1) 76

Not a bad point. Asymmetric warfare does indeed cause problems. Goooood morning Vietnam... but the geurillas in Vietnam were backed by somebody, and ISIS is getting hi-tech from... well... I've heard some interesting theories. Round up the usual suspects.

It's like a fulcrum I suppose. Asymmetric warfare has always involved leverage. The weight is bigger on both sides now.

Comment: Re:Why do we permit "property tax" at all? (Score 2) 76

Very well, In a system with no property tax, there would be no disincentive to [ synonyms: stockpile, store, store up, stock up on, put aside, put by, lay by, lay up, set aside, stow away, buy up; cache, amass, collect, save, gather, garner, accumulate, squirrel away, put aside for a rainy day; informalstash away, salt away "they hoarded rations" ] please choose the preferred term which you regard as "unloaded". (synonyms courtesy of Google's dictionary).

If you get off on seeing people's wealth seized by force and redistributed,

That's all in your head of course.

Now, if you want to get to basics and discuss the pros and cons of allowing private ownership of what is called "real property" (basically land) in the first place, that is fair game.

OK, at the risk of this whole thing spiraling badly down the drain like my last back-n-forth with a libertarian, I'll bite.

Pro: Once you have the land, you don't have to worry about the government taking it away.

Con: Since you aren't paying property taxes, I see two possibilities: 1. The government gets the money some other way. 1a. Good for you, if you don't get caught up in the "some other way". 1b. Bad or neutral, depending on how expensive and/or inconvenient the "some other way" tax is. 2. The government doesn't provide the services customarily supported by property tax (e.g, schools, police).

Situation 2 is regarded as ideal by some people, and that's where I have a bone to pick. Why? Because if you don't pay the government tax, you pay what might be called the "natural tax" on the property. What's that? It's the cost of defending the land YOURSELF. IMHO, it tends to be much more expensive for most of us. It requires specialized skills most of us don't have--gunslinging, etc. Of course there are people willing to step in and do that for you. One of the most recognized organizations on the planet arose under just such a situation, where people were having a hard time defending their olive groves. This was in Sicily. I think you know where this is headed.

So, long story short, to paraphrase something often said about Unix: "Those who fail to understand government are doomed to reinvent it--poorly".

A computer scientist is someone who fixes things that aren't broken.