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Comment a Vaudeville hook for the Vaudeville crook (Score 1) 165

He goes on to say, "Our removal serves as an excellent example of why the law should be changed to prevent repeated extensions of copyright terms."

Make that retroactive, pretty please, so as to retroactively revoke the ridiculous retroactive extensions.

The whole thing flies in the face of even libertarian notions of contract: that you only get what you shake for, in the first instance.

Douglas Adams used to quip "I love deadlines. I love the sound they make as they whoosh past." Market capitalists love markets. They love the sound the rigging makes as it twangs in the salty sea air. "Arrrr, r-r-r-r-retroactively extended copyright. First we shakes, then we takes."

Comment the other perspective (Score 1) 145

Sarcasm and satire have only superficially similar.

The thing with satire is to create incongruity between the package and its contents.

Some dishevelled fellow shows up, claims he's a world-class chef from Syria, and offers to cook you a five-star dinner in exchange for his own meal. He doesn't look especially Syrian. And you can't make out his accent.

So you say, "well, I'm not sure whether to believe you. I made this pate yesterday, and I'd like your opinion. Just one second." Then you duck around the corner, dip a knife into the kitty litter box, smoosh the fresh excavation onto a nice Wheat Thin that Jr. left uneaten on his plate after dropping it on the garage floor (use the dishwasher, people!), which you then—in a flash of inspiration—decorate with two fish eyes from the fish carcass in the fridge that is now mired in cold gelatin and really should have been turned into fish stock three days ago. Oh, what the heck—let's do this right!—so you add a tablespoon slab of the aging fish gelatin.

At this point, it looks like fancy French cooking (looks can be deceiving). It really looks like French cooking when you extend it with the utmost graciousness on your whitest French serving cloth.

"Syrian chef" picks it up, opens his mouth, slides it trustingly under his nostrils, and is about to bite down, then freezes in an eyebrow-raising display of alarm and disgust.

"Don't be angry! I had to make sure. Do you still want to cook dinner? Oh well, better luck next time. "

"Sheesh. I think he called me a racist bastard in some foreign gibberish. Did he really mean it? Surely he could see my predicament and my efficient solution. Hmmm. I suppose it did look a lot like I was serving him shit on a cracker, Gallic style, from his point of view."

Sarcasm is exactly the same thing, except you can't be bothered with the cracker, the fish eyes, the extra slab of fish gelatin, or the white napkin. You just hold up a dry cat turd with your bare fingers and call it a cheesy, because you really wouldn't want to have to eat a fancy dinner prepared by the colour blind, not even if he really was a great chef in his own land.

Comment Re:Youtube next? (Score 1) 176

You're getting your annual check up and your GP suddenly launches into an unprovoked tirade:

These people are showing up and spreading their grubby, contagious micro-organisms all over my scattered nose bag of Cosmo and Golf Digest magazines, why is it wrong for me to use their personal medical data however I like?

Tell me, how would you answer your GP? With your jaw hanging open, wondered why the question even needs to be answered?

In a local community, it's not considered good neighbourly etiquette to broadcast to all and sundry every tidbit of information you glean—right down to the license plate numbers—about who you see coming and going on your street during the quiet hours of the day and night.

But then given the same information at the scale of big city strangers passing in the street, suddenly the attitude is "fuck yeah, what's now mine is mine, let's link!" Cause, you know, if they were willing to bump shoulders with you on the crowded sidewalk in the first place, trading a few jacket fibers in the process, that's all the permission you need to go all CSI on the acquired residue.

In fact, your local dry cleaner gives you a 10% discount if you sign over all data collection rights, and what crazy person would even begin to think that's not self-evidently good business sense?

Comment Re: I was able to successfully use a docx (Score 3, Interesting) 187

Yep. I always use LibreOffice to edit and send back documents for work. It usually works OK, but with frequent glitches. I worried about that, so I once asked our admin if she had a problem with the docs I sent back. She said mine were no worse than those she got from everybody else, and she had never realized I wasn't actually using MS word to edit them. Glitches and formatting errors is apparently completely normal even with the same version of MS word on different computers.

Comment these are not the shopping droids ... (Score 2) 666

Lost in all of this is that people who run software ad blockers probably also run mental ad blockers (in my case, this can not be uninstalled), so our response to the advertising—even if they manage to shove it down our throats—is not going to generate any significant net cash outflow.

For a while, Wired can monetize the increasing number of eyeballs, but then the advertisers will normalize to the newly deflated advertising conversion rate (down 20%? who would have guessed?) and Wired will eventually end up getting exactly the same money as before.

Nice business model you've got there. Shame if anyone connected all the dots.

Barker: Hey, I'd like to interest you in a new business model!

Banker: How does it work?

Barker: You plant a suggestion, then people buy your shit.

Banker: A suggestion?

Barker: A Loud, Noisy, Flashy, Wheezy, Spinning, Popping, Sliding suggestion.

Banker: I think you missed a dwarf. Somebody steal your March?

Barker: Him, too.

Banker: But—the suggestion isn't actually binding on the bumpkin, and surely you must give them something in return just to get their attention in the first place?

Barker: Cheaper than you think.

Banker: But—I'm still having trouble with the fundamentally non-binding nature of the transaction.

Barker: A new day, a new dawn! We'll make this Silverado shitstorm so ubiquitous, it'll soon become regarded as a moral crime to respond to our everlasting fusillade of suggestive schlock as anything less than simply irresistible.

Banker: You certainly have big plans.

Barker: And you certainly have big bucks.

Banker: I won't have to actually drive a Silverado, will I?

Barker: Oh, no. You can drive a Bentley.

Banker: Funny you say that. I was looking at one just the other day.

Barker: A red one?

Banker: Just how would you know that?

Short, conspiratorial silence.

Barker: [whispers] Pull up a chair, here's where it gets real interesting ...

Comment Journey to the Center of Dearth (Score 3, Interesting) 218

My father taught me binary in the early seventies when I was still in elementary school, with black marbles and a grey egg carton. I got it right away. Numbers were one thing, representations of numbers was another thing, and these could be whatever you found convenient, so long as you obeyed certain rules (I wasn't so accelerated that I immediately started banging out Euclid's Elements on the piano).

Then I thought really hard one Saturday afternoon about fractions (on the unit interval, which I thought of as positive integers with the numerator greater than the denominator), and discovered that even though there are a lot of them, it is possible to enumerate them exhaustively, though not by the traditional "counting up" procedure, which got me hooked into the problem of the common divisor thing.

The next project I recall was to exhaustive write out the Tic Tac Toe game tree. Since I was a lazy bastard (always have been) this involving thinking very hard about something somewhat like symmetry groups.

Over the annual summer visit to my grandparents—small town prairie Badlands without the cool geography, though often we managed a trip to see the hoodoos—I played a lot of solitaire on the golden-green shag carpet which Puss Puss—the duodecarian house cat who lived in the shadows under my grandparent's bed (the short duration of our visits was probably for her sake)—sometimes preferred in her dotage over asking out into the Canadian winter. Quite undeterred by the sticky and/or stinky patches, I managed to clearly formulate the concept of a "decision procedure" and that such a thing could be unambiguously specified; furthermore, I worked out (at first empirically) that the greedy algorithm was provably not optimal for Klondike (for me at that time, all Solitaire was just "Solitaire", though I knew several).

At age ten, the boundary between empiricism and proof is still a fuzzy one.

In grade five, I spent a lot of time (by myself) trying to puzzle out the rate-limiting step in long-hand square root. I had by then also discovered E=IR and P=IE. Pretty soon I had determined that this generates 4 choose 1 times 4 choose 2 simple algebraic forms. But for an entire painful week, some kind of thick cloud entered my brain and I couldn't reliably write all the forms down without a lot of mucking around; this I knew to be completely bogus, and a permanent blot on my record. By the time the cloud passed, I was pretty good at substitution and gathering. Later, when I first encountered a matrix (don't recall), I immediately went to myself "oh, that's just algebra, better organized". At least something stuck.

Now, during this entire period of my life, I was in a constant state of deeply repressed rage about this thing called "school", with all the inherent stimulation of Puss Puss waiting out the daily bedtime / ultimate final departure of the grandchildren (geriatric cat yay!) from the furthest dark remove under the master bed.

Grade six came as a shock. For the first time I experienced a math teacher who believed in letting kids learn at their own natural rate. He quickly put four of us a private work program. We could go as fast as we wanted, but the rule was we had to do all of the tedious exercises at the end of every chapter. Many of these exercises were heavy on the pencil work, so I only made it through grades six, seven, eight, and nine. My fingers put in about 90% of the work (this is not actually a bad thing), and my brain put in the other 10% (this being 100 times more than 0.1%). Awesome!

So I was armed, locked, and loaded for bear when I showed up at the beginning of grade seven. I figured I could knock off ten, eleven, twelve by Easter, and still have a month left over for real math at long last.

Problem: my grade seven teacher thought my purpose in life was to sit enthralled by his boring lectures. Shields up! I don't recall a single thing he wrote on the board in math class the entire year, and I just sat there doing stupid pet tricks with numbers—no useful development whatsoever.

So eventually that year we have this weird event day outdoors, and one of the girls has been asked to demonstrate her figure skating. She was jumping! And spinning! And throwing one of her legs around without falling down! (On skates, I was still working my way from three legs to two.) Wow! Some adult somewhere actually gives a shit about her natural abilities, and gives her not only the opportunity, but also coaching, and even a pat on the back. How is this possible?

That was the day I realized I was a tent-camp refugee in the world of math phobia.

By this point, whatever natural ability I had was on a fast track to nowhere. My the miracle of moving from one province (relatively good school system) to another (not so good school system), it turns out that my grade nine school year is spent repeating my grade eight school year. Back in grade six, the grade-nine math book had only challenged my pencil, and this was now my third tour of duty.

My grade nine math teacher surely recognized that I was paying him 1% of my full attention, out of 1% of one corner of one eye. Sometime mid-year, I hear from a classmate that there's this thing called a "math competition". "Oh," I said, waking up from a long coma. "That might almost be interesting." Later that day I go up to my math teacher (this being our longest point of contact for the entire year) and say "I heard there's this math competition thing." He says, "there's no point bothering, you wouldn't be good at it." He wouldn't even tell me the room where it was held. Revenge? Or just a cockroach sucker?

Funny he should think that. Two years after my parents finally wake up and send me to a private school, I was ranked nationally. This after a four year hiatus with my parking brake engaged. So, while this is a story about opportunity wasted, it's not a story about being ruined—you can only be ruined if you let it happen.

But what did happen is that my ability, under my random self-tutelage, folded back in on itself. Lacking a curated challenge, I posed my own quirky challenges, and I spent a lot of time thinking about myself thinking about myself. I became very good at thinking about myself, and I finally matured into an adroit, adept, meta-cognitive gadfly. Substance about substance, not anchored to substance.

No worries. I figure this will all pay off at some point in my seventies, when the world is adrift with cognitive agents. "Somebody ... please! ... is there meta-cognitive specialist in the house? Our pets are running wild!" Well, had my early education gone a little differently (you know, with any structure at all), I could now be the guy building the metacognitive agents, instead of cooling my jets sitting around waiting to fix them.

Whatever. It all works out in the end.

Comment Re:Management structure and meritocracy (Score 1, Insightful) 273

what I read about their diversity and social impact team would certainly be enough to make me run, screaming

It's fundamentally driven by the desire of the VCs to establish a broader and ultimately cheaper labour pool, so they've hired themselves an SJJ (social justice jihadist)—white males not allowed to participate—to advance the backroom bigbucks cause of white-male sticker shock under the false flag of her own sincere yet progressive-at-any-cost value system.

Comment Re:Power efficiency is good in some places, not al (Score 1) 337

John Cook (put his blog in your RSS feed if you don't already have it) made a very good point recently: The speed gains from Moore's Law are dwarfed by the speed gains from algorithmic improvements. And unlike Moore's Law, we're not yet seeing a limit approaching for better ways to solve stuff. The post in question: http://www.johndcook.com/blog/...

Comment Re:Power efficiency is good in some places, not al (Score 1) 337

A lot of tasks intrinsically don't scale, or scale only up to some limit. Some people are running into this already in the HPC world, were we have big parallel machines that they can't take full advantage of. Their simulations simply don't scale above a certain number of cores.

This problem is becoming steadily worse, since people want to make models with more detail (that tends to not parallelize well), and simulate much longer timeframes than before. If you're simulating protein interactions over one millisecond, then it might not matter if it takes an hour or two. But if you want to use that to understand LTP in neurons and simulate a second or two, then it becomes a very major problem if your model can't parallelize further and the per-core speed stays put.

Comment Re:last chance to buy quality Sharp products (Score 4, Insightful) 48

Geeks are just as good the world over, whether Japan, Taiwan, EU, US or China. Product quality has nothing to do with the quality of the designers and builders and everything to do with the budget and time constraints they have to do their stuff. And that is all about where their company wants to position itself in the price/quality/reputation landscape.

Sharp has a well-deserved reputation for good quality and sometimes off-beat or niche products that delight a few even if they don't become huge sellers. And that's of course part reason why they've been in trouble for some years now. Foxconn doesn't have a reputation for premium products or for doing their own thing.

I share the worry that Sharp as we know it will disappear, and just become another nameplate pasted on bland, forgettable me-too stuff.

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