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Comment: Prof. Yunus "Creating a World Without Poverty" (Score 4, Informative) 88

by lkcl (#48443465) Attached to: How "Big Ideas" Are Actually Hurting International Development

this is really really important: anyone wishing to make a difference in the world really REALLY needs to read the book written by Professor Yunus, the joint winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Price, "Creating a World Without Poverty".

in his book, Professor Yunus describes how he naively studied Economics because he believed that he would be able to change his country's financial situation through studying first world economies. after graduation he set out just after one of the worst natural disasters his country had experienced and realised how completely pointless his studies had been. however he did not give up, and set out to work out what the problem actually was.

he learned that the poor are first and foremost incredibly resourceful... mostly because they have to. he also learned that many of them are, because there are no enforceable usury laws, permanently kept in debt to money-lenders. this shocked him so badly that once he freed an entire village from debt just from the small change in his wallet: something like $USD 15 was all it took to pay off a decade of usury.

what he discovered is that the gratitude of these people when freed from their former situation is immeasurable. the Grameen Bank doesn't have lawyers or debt collectors. the people that they lend money to are so GRATEFUL that they work non-stop to turn their lives around and pay off their loan. in fact, the repayment success rate is around NINETY EIGHT percent. it's so high that the *GRAMEEN BANK* considers it to be THEIR FAULT if one of their customers is ever in default. by contrast in the western world the default rate is 88%. i'll repeat that again in case it's not clear: only TWELVE PERCENT of creditors in the western world pay their debts on time, every time, and in full.

but the main reason why anyone wishing to help the emerging markets and the third world should read his book is because he patiently, with all the knowledge from his economics background, outlines why NGOs, Charity and the "Corporate Social Responsibility" clauses of standard profit-maximising Capitalist Corporations are all worse than doomed but are guaranteed to be ineffective at best and invariably seriously damaging and counter-productive.

right at the start of his book he outlines a surprising offer by Danone to work with him (follow his advice) to actually be effective. it was Professor Yunus's first experience of having been "under the microscope" of people with both big resources and heart. in other words the team at Danone were huge fans of what Yunus was trying to achieve: when he explained to them the financial structure that was needed, they listened, and they did it. they did not go in with a charity, or with donations: they set up a "non-loss, non-dividend" business, selling *locally-produced* yoghurt that happened to have the nutritients that the local population happened (by a not-coincidence) to be chronically deficient in.

the yohurt was sold not at a loss but at an affordable financially sustainable price because the focus was on remaining *stable*, not on exploitation through maximisation of profits: the focus was on allowing people to feel proud of what they achieved, and to take responsibility for their own wealth. they were EMPOWERED through the enormous generous resources of Danone's, but it was a successful venture because they LISTENED to what Professor Yunus had to say.

Comment: Re:So, does water cost more? (Score 3, Interesting) 377

by lkcl (#48377091) Attached to: How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

What are the possible choices for farmers?

1. grow crappy crops with free seeds and lots of expensive water,
2. grow good groups with seeds that you need to pay for but use less water?

#2 will make you more money, so the cost of the seeds is a non-factor. #1 will make you poor, because when it doesn't rain your crops die.

So, what exactly is the issue?

this is a completely wrong analysis. if (2) was true those people would have been dead centuries or millenia ago. the fact that they are still alive tells you that they get by, and that, honestly, is good enough.

there was an attempt a few decades ago to do exactly what DuPont is doing [again]. i do not understand why 1st world countries do not leave the 3rd world alone to grow their own food. 1st world conditions are NOT THE SAME as 3rd world conditions.

the study that i heard about was exactly the same situation. a 3rd world country which had extremely poor yields was interfered with by a 1st world country providing donations of high-yield maize. for three to four years the success of the trials resulted in bumper crops and the surrounding farmers clambered onto the 1st world genetic variety maize.

then there was a drought.

the high-yield 1st world maize died, and the entire area went into famine. next year, because nothing had grown, nobody had any food the year after, either.

basically it turned out that the low-yield maize had a MASSIVE genetic diversity. some variants thrived in good conditions, some grew successfully *EVEN IN DROUGHT CONDITIONS*. no matter what happened, those people always got some food. not necessarily a lot, but enough so that they didn't die.

now the problem was with this stupid, stupid interference by a 1st world country was that because everyone in the area had converted over to this wonderful high-yield maize, NOBODY HAD ANY OF THE OLD GENETIC VARIETY LEFT.

it was a decade before the country properly recovered, and that was just from one drought.

so the conclusion is, unescapably, that DuPont is intent on killing people just to make a profit, as this isn't the first time that providing 1st world maize to 3rd world countries has gone very very wrong.

just leave them alone. we *DON'T* know better.

Comment: what's the threat? (Score 1) 109

by lkcl (#48316301) Attached to: Computer Scientists Say Meme Research Doesn't Threaten Free Speech

this is pure speculation here, but my guess is that the people (politicians) protesting this research are quite likely to be the ones in charge of classified funding efforts for military, espionage and CIA equivalent research... and deployment of those same tools. if you've ever read Neal Stephenson's book "Cobweb" you'll know exactly what is most likely to be going on.

so, in essence, those people (politicians) know damn well that the espionage, domestic and political manipulation tools that they funded are quite likely to show up as anomalous activity should there ever be any tools (such as Truthy) provided to the general public, or any kind of research done to ascertain which "memes" *should* spread and which should not. for if there is anything that is detected which is *different* from normal expectations (a meme spread when it shouldn't have, and oh incidentally what was the source of that disruptive influence again?) it's really not going to go down too well with the people who *already* manipulate us from the shadows.

so i think you'll find that the people (politicians) protesting most loudly are the ones who are using media manipulation tools, and they're afraid that this research will be used to identify them, basically.

Comment: landfill sites (Score 2) 62

by lkcl (#48304075) Attached to: Interviews: Ask CMI Director Alex King About Rare Earth Mineral Supplies

yes, i definitely have a question. i heard the statistic that the concentration of heavy and rare earth metals is now *higher* in landfill sites than it is in the original mines that they came from, which, if true, is a global disgrace for which all of us are responsible. firstly, is this actually true, and secondly, is anyone doing anything about the extraction of rare earth metals from the electronics in which they were originally embedded?

+ - Pope Francis Declares Evolution And Big Bang Theory Are Right 4

Submitted by (3830033) writes "The Independent reports that Pope Francis, speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, has declared that the theories of evolution and the Big Bang are real. “When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so,” said Francis. “He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment." Francis explained that both scientific theories were not incompatible with the existence of a creator – arguing instead that they “require it”. “The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it. Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.” Experts say the Pope's comments put an end to the “pseudo theories” of creationism and intelligent design that some argue were encouraged by his predecessor, Benedict XVI who spoke out against taking Darwin too far."

+ - Open Educational Robot for under $50

Submitted by lkcl
lkcl (517947) writes "Straight from the crowd-funding page comes news of Hack-E-Bot, described as a "low price and open source robot that hopes to encourage children to learn about engineering, electronics, and programming". Part of the reason for achieving such a low price appears to be down to the use of a tiny $7 off-the-shelf Arduino-compatible board called Trinket from Adafruit. The Trinket (ATTiny328 PIC) press-fits neatly into a supplied breadboard: all connections and any educational experiments can be done entirely without soldering. It's cute, it's under $50, you can pay extra for one to be given free to a child if you want, and there's a lower-cost kit version available if you prefer to use your own embedded board and are prepared to write your own software. I absolutely love the whole idea, and they've already reached the incredibly low $7,000 funding target, so it's going ahead."

Comment: Re:Over-emphasizing (Score 1) 98

by lkcl (#48176597) Attached to: Python-LMDB In a High-Performance Environment

PPS: Given your custom IPC for Python, could you go us one further and write an OSGi for Python using it? Pretty please! ;)

:) i'd love to but sadly it's one of the [few] contracts where i was in a proprietary environment. if i meet a software libre project some time in the future that needs that kind of stuff i'll certainly attempt to recreate it but it would need to be at least a year before i consider that.

Comment: Re:(not)perplexingly (Score 1) 98

by lkcl (#48172061) Attached to: Python-LMDB In a High-Performance Environment

It doesn't matter how awesome someone thinks their Python-LMDB project is. It doesn't matter how important someone thinks their Python-LMDB project is.

the mistake you've made has been raised a number of times in the slashdot comments (3 so far). the wikipedia page that was deleted was about LMDB, not python-lmdb. python-lmdb is just bindings to LMDB and that is not notable in any significant way.

Comment: Over-emphasizing (Score 1) 98

by lkcl (#48172023) Attached to: Python-LMDB In a High-Performance Environment

CPython is a compiler.

it's an interpreter which was [originally] based on a FORTH engine.

  It compiles Python source code to Python bytecode,

there is a compiler which does that, yes.

and the Python runtime executes the compiled bytecode.

it interprets it.

CPython has one major weakness, the GIL (global interpreter lock).

*sigh* it does. the effect that this has on threading is to reduce threads to the role of a mutually-exclusive task-switching mechanism.

I've seen the GIL harm high-throughput, multi-threaded event processing systems not dissimilar from the one you describe.

yes. you are one of the people who will appreciate, given that the codebase could not be written in (or converted to) any other language, due to time-constraints, that using processes and custom-written IPC because threads (which you'd think would be perfect to get high-performance on event processing because there would be no overhead on passing data between threads) couldn't be used, means that the end-result is going to be... complicated.

If you must insist on Python and want to avoid multi-threaded I/O bound weaknesses of the GIL, then use Jython.

not a snowball in hell's chance of that happening :) not in a milllion years. not on this project, and not on any project i will actively and happily be involved in. and *especially* i cannot ever endorse the use of java for high performance reliable applications. i'm familiar with python's advantages and disadvantages, the way that the garbage collector works, and am familiar with the size of the actual python interpreter and am happy that it is implemented in c.

java on the other hand i just... i don't even want to begin describing why i don't want to be involved in its deployment - i'm sure there are many here on slashdot happy to explain why java is unsuitable.

there are many other ways in which the limitation of threads in python imposed by the GIL may be avoided. i chose to work around the problem by using processes and custom-writing an IPC infrastructure using edge-triggered epoll. it was... hard. others may choose to use stackless python. others may agree with the idea to use jython, but honestly if the application was required to be reasonably reliable as well as high-performance there would be absolutely no way that i could ever endorse such an idea. sorry :)

Comment: Do not use joins (Score 2) 98

by lkcl (#48171467) Attached to: Python-LMDB In a High-Performance Environment

if something like PostgreSQL had been used as the back-end store, that rate would be somewhere around 30,000 tasks per second or possibly even less than that

You should pipe it to /dev/nul. That's webscale.

don't jest... please :) jokes about "you should just have a big LED on the box with a switch and a battery" _not_ appreciated :)

but, seriously: the complete lack of need in this application for joins (as well as any other features of SQL or NOSQL databases) was what led me to research key-value stores in the first place.

Comment: Re:Would it hurt ... (Score 1) 98

by lkcl (#48171413) Attached to: Python-LMDB In a High-Performance Environment

A lot of the locking semantics you mentioned sound pretty similar to RCU which is used extensively in the Linux kernel, and allows for lockless reading on certain architectures. .... yes, i think so. now imagine that all the copying is done by the OS using the OS's virtual memory page-table granularity (so does not have any very very very significant overhead). and also imagine that the library is intelligent enough to move the older page into its record of free pages during a cleanup phase that doesn't cost very much either. and also remember that on accessing B+ trees to find a record you only need to know the "top" (root) node... so you can update (or create) using those COW semantics as many B+ tree nodes as you like, knowing that it's *only* the root node that you need (after the fact) to tell (new) readers about... ... and now it's no longer expensive to do those RCU style operations, and the performance is streets ahead of any other key-value store.

but i am not an expert on these things. i'm sure that if howard chipped in here (and he _is_ an expert on the linux kernel and on high-performance efficient algorithm implementation) he'd be able to tell you more and probably a lot more accurately than i can.

... when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. -- Fred Brooks