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Comment: catch 22 (Score 1) 272

by paai (#48251993) Attached to: A Library For Survival Knowledge

If we fall back to the technological level of the middle ages, kickstarting a new 20th-century like civilization is impossible. To create such a civilization, you need energy. Almost all resources like coal and oil have depleted to the point that you need a very complex society to win them. But to exploit sun or wind energy on a sufficient scale, you also need the resources of a large technology pyramid.

Again, if you want to keep individuals to try and recreate our technology, you need a society with a certain level of sophistication so that you can afford people that do not directly work for food prodution.

Catch 22.

Finally, if you want to cut all possible corners in research and production, you need a very strong central governement that keeps the focus on those developments. That will not be possible without a fascistoid state.

Perhaps we should take care to avoid bringing our civilization down.


Comment: We already have this. It is called "Unix" (Score 2) 268

by paai (#45162013) Attached to: Has Flow-Based Programming's Time Arrived?

As some other people already remarked, on the face of it this looks like the venerable Unix approach of small tools in a script. My point is that the real world outside, that you are trying to capture in a programming language, can be very complicated. For some domains, e.g. logic or arithmetics, the language can be pretty complicated too - see APL, LISP or Prolog.

But in thirty years of programming (computational linguistiscs), I have found that Unix scripts, awk and plain C covered pretty much 90% of (my) programming needs. If and when necessary I tacked on a larger database system. Of course I tried the new (well, in the nineties they were new) OO systems, but I rapidly got lost in a jungle of libraries and methods and even more documentation. Compare that to the almost ascetic (and aesthetic) clarity of the Unix environment.

Yes, I feel that Unix still has a lot of mileage in it and intentionally or not, this item and the reactions on it, confirm me in this view


Comment: Re:Don't repeat Akonadi (Score 1) 67

I agree 150%. Much as I like KDE and Kubuntu, my strong advice would be a complete feature freeze an concentrate on all the bugs. Every new distribution has dozens of applications unexpectedly misbehaving, many of them are not fixed after updates that themselves introduce other problems again...for gods sake first fix all the broken stuff. I more than once mailed this to the K-people, but they do not even answer.


Comment: Even faster obsolence. (Score 1) 369

by paai (#34926288) Attached to: Sony, Universal Hope To Beat Piracy With 'Instant Pop'

Western culture, including the pop culture has long suffered from the idea that 'new is good'. This idea naturally was fostered by commercial empires, that depended on this idea to rapidly dismiss old music, movies, clothes for new items, regardless of the intrinsic value of the old products.

It seems that Sony and Universal have pursued this idea to the next step.


Comment: not enough data for such conclusions (Score 1) 265

by paai (#34543926) Attached to: Statistical Analysis of Terrorism

I doubt very much that there is enough terrorism-related data to have much confidence in this analysis. You need quantities lijke the number of words in a book to extract with any confidence Zipfs law or most other power laws. Even then, there are enough deviations from the straight line (on logscale, of course) to make the drawing of conclusions a very interesting job indeed.


Comment: Re:"Anthill Inside" (Score 1) 106

by paai (#34532216) Attached to: Next Generation of Algorithms Inspired by Ants

To begin with, a sucessor/collaborator for Pratchett would have to be sixtyish, like Pratchett himself (and yours truly). That is because he draws so heavily from his experiences as an very intelligent observer of the second half of the 20th century, including the fifties and sixties. I *know* that my 25 and 28 years old daughters are Pratchett adepts, and I always wonder in how far they get the allusions, and if not, why they can enjoy the books so much.

You mentioned Good Omens, which certainly is one of the best (and which incidentally depends very much on biblical knowledge), but ithat book certainly is not the result of a slick writer taking over from a dead or retiring author.

There is no royal road to geometry. -- Euclid