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Comment: HTML5 is a language. (Score 1) 387

by rjh (#47868549) Attached to: Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative

HTML5 is, indeed, a programming language -- at least when paired with CSS3. You can implement Rule 110 in nothing but HTML5 + CSS3, and Rule 110 is known to be Turing-complete. Ergo, HTML5 + CSS3 is capable of any computable process, and is a full programming language.

It's a horrible programming language, but hey, when has that gotten in the way of widespread acceptance?

Comment: A story about Damian... (Score 4, Interesting) 132

by rjh (#47384857) Attached to: Damian Conway On Perl 6 and the Philosophy of Programming

At OSCON 2006 I was sitting in one of the green rooms (the spaces set aside for speakers before presentations). My laptop was open and I was happily hacking away on a project. As I killed a bug and checked the code back in, I muttered under my breath, "Python, I love you. You make the hard stuff so easy."

I noticed a few seconds later the room had gone utterly silent. I looked up, and sitting at the table across from me was Damian Conway, tapping away on his own laptop doing his own thing. I blinked a couple of times and suddenly noticed the entire room was expecting a Perl-vs-Python argument to erupt.

Damian looked up from his work, noticed everyone was looking nervous. He looked over at me, I gave a "I don't know what's up with them, uh, help?" look and a shrug.

Damian then looked back at the crowd and grinned. "Listen, the only thing I love more than Perl is well-written software, even if it's written in Python." He looked back over to me. "Kill a bug, didja?" I nodded. He gave me a smile and a thumbs-up, then returned to his code. I returned to mine, and after a few seconds the room let out his breath.

I love Python. But the only thing I love more than Python is well-written software, even if it's written in Perl. :)

Comment: Re:Communist revolution is needed (Score 2) 548

by rjh (#46907171) Attached to: Reason Suggests DoJ Closing Porn Stars' Bank Accounts

here on Slashdot we frequently have people (the "2nd amendments folks") allude to using their guns to overthrow the US government by force (which is obviously a totalitarian strategy) and also threatening to arbitrarily kill people for various perceived offences without a proper trial

Hi! As a card-carrying NRA member, I'm one of those "Second Amendment folks" you're talking about here. A couple of points:

  1. It's "the Second Amendment," not "the Second Amendments." There's only one Second Amendment.

  2. Overthrowing the government by force is the right of the people, yes. It's also unbelievably stupid in the overwhelming majority of cases. Civil war is horrific and something best avoided. The Framers did intend the armed populace to be a bulwark against governmental infringements on liberty, yes, but mostly by means of making the government afraid to violently oppress the people for fear of the armed resistance they would face.

    In this, the Framers have been overwhelmingly successful: where in past eras a government would've just bludgeoned people into believing the law was what they said it was, nowadays our politicians have learned to couch things in terms of "counterterrorism" and "protecting the children" and we'll quite amicably assent to whatever they say the law is.

    The Framers had the right idea, they just weren't quite clever enough: they thought the risk would be a government that used force against the people, whereas the real risk is from public relations and focus groups.

    Anyway -- short version: although I am one of those "Second Amendment folks," I, and all of the other "Second Amendment folks" I know, am absolutely against civil war. Horrible, terrible idea. I've seen enough gunshot wounds already in my life, thank you very much: I feel no need to be the cause of them.

  3. This would amount to "terroristic threats", and would be considered grossly illegal in all 50 states. I, and all of the other "Second Amendment folks" I know, think this behavior is reprehensible.

Comment: Re:You don't understand, yep! (Score 3) 149

by rjh (#46730045) Attached to: NSA Allegedly Exploited Heartbleed

I'm not weighing in on that one. I'm only correcting the original poster, who said the U.S. rarely waives sovereign immunity. In fact, the opposite is true: it rarely invokes it. Tens of thousands of tort claims against the U.S. government are underway even as we speak, all of them with waived sovereign immunity.

Comment: You don't understand, yep! (Score 5, Informative) 149

by rjh (#46729651) Attached to: NSA Allegedly Exploited Heartbleed

One cannot simply sue a branch of the government without asking permission from the government to allow it to be sued - guess how often THAT happens?

Glad you asked: it happens all the time, ever since the Tort Claims Act of 1948 substantially waived the sovereign immunity doctrine. You can read more about it at Wikipedia.

People sue the government all the time. It's literally an everyday occurrence.

Comment: Not in any way the same! (Score 1) 307

by rjh (#46668189) Attached to: Should NASA Send Astronauts On Voluntary One-Way Missions?

Patton told his troops they were strictly forbidden from dying gloriously for their country, but were instead expected to make the other poor bastard die gloriously for his.

When we send soldiers off to battle we expect them to win and come home alive. We accept that reality will not always permit this, but that's the nature of the beast. If we send people on a one-way trip to Mars, we are demanding that they die gloriously for us -- which is exactly what Patton forbade his soldiers to do.

Your comparison, not to put too fine a point on it, is crazy.

Comment: Great job in critiquing the models (Score 1) 560

by rjh (#46298313) Attached to: How Well Do Our Climate Models Match Our Observations?

Nowhere is it written that your critique can only be taken seriously if you fix the problem you discover, propose an alternate model, or solve the problem outright. By your logic, all the people from the 1800s on into the early 20th century who said, "You know, Newtonian mechanics has a serious problem: it cannot correctly describe the precession of Mercury" were doing a poor job of critiquing Newtonian physics.

Rubbish. They were doing a superb job of critiquing Newtonian physics by pointing to something in the Newtonian model that was clearly, unambiguously, wrong. They may not have been able to realize why it was wrong or able to construct a better model, but they pointed out an important anomaly. Later on, Einstein came along and proposed General Relativity, and one of GR's greatest initial successes was its ability to correctly model the precession of Mercury.

If John Christy's reading of the facts is in error, then that's ample grounds to say he's made a poor critique. But to say that he's made a poor critique just because he hasn't fixed the models, put forward a new model, or explained the differences between model and observation, betrays you as a very poor scientist.

Comment: Re:Posted by a typical American? (Score 1) 598

by rjh (#45687391) Attached to: UK Men Arrested For Anti-Semitic Tweets After Football Game

If you yell "fire" in a crowded theater where there is no fire, you have taken a safe situation and turned it into an immensely dangerous one.

If you yell "fire" in a crowded theater where there is a fire, you are attempting -- as best you can -- to mitigate the risk of an immensely dangerous situation.

The law prohibits shouting "fire" in a crowded theater where there is no fire present. There is no law against alerting your fellow patrons to the fact the building is on fire.

Comment: Re:Posted by a typical American? (Score 3, Informative) 598

by rjh (#45687375) Attached to: UK Men Arrested For Anti-Semitic Tweets After Football Game

I agree with you. I get quite irritated when people in the UK tell me we should emulate them in gun control laws, healthcare laws, or their habit of dropping random 'u's in words where they clearly don't belong. Courtesy requires I refrain from telling the UK how they ought pattern their free speech laws on our First Amendment.

It is enough to say that I am pleased to live where I do, and that I believe the evils of generally-unregulated free speech are far far outweighed by the good.

Comment: Re:Cancer cured! (Score 4, Informative) 175

by rjh (#45633017) Attached to: Killing Cancer By Retraining the Patient's Immune System

The reason why progress has been so slow is because there is no one single disease, "cancer." Instead we have a few thousand different diseases which we collectively call cancer. Many of them look extremely similar, even to professional oncologists. First we have to identify all of these different cancers, and then we have to discover effective treatments against them. Some cancers will have common weaknesses; many (most?) do not.

There's a reason why cancer is called "the Emperor of Maladies". Cancer is probably the hardest scientific problem the human race has ever wrestled with. It makes the moon shot and the internet look like pikers by comparison.

Cancer is hard, and every day we don't have a cure more people are going to die in horrible ways. The first part makes us want to give up on cancer research, or to say that it's too hard, or to say that we haven't made any progress... but the second part will always keep us coming back to do more research and make another attempt.

My dream is that cancer might be cured in 100 years. I think it's a dream worth working for.

Comment: Re:Cancer cured! (Score 4, Informative) 175

by rjh (#45632967) Attached to: Killing Cancer By Retraining the Patient's Immune System

I'm reminded that when President Truman had his heart attack in 1956, the official prescription from his physician was bed rest accompanied by Mrs. Truman to keep him warm.

That was the whole, complete prescription.

Anyone who says medicine hasn't improved since 1952 simply isn't paying attention.

Comment: Re:Show time (Score 2) 722

by rjh (#45246129) Attached to: Google: Our Robot Cars Are Better Drivers Than You

Check the bankruptcy declarations. The City of Detroit made various statements under penalty of perjury, and one of the most shocking was their admission that emergency response times averaged 58 minutes.

I can't explain the discrepancy between what Detroit says on a web site and what Detroit says in a courtroom. What I can do, though, is point you to my reference. :)

Comment: Re:Show time (Score 4, Informative) 722

by rjh (#45245805) Attached to: Google: Our Robot Cars Are Better Drivers Than You

Mostly Detroit having been in a state of slow-motion collapse for 30+ years. Even the bankruptcy is caused by that -- it's not as if it suddenly came out of the blue.

30 years ago Detroit had 1.8 million people. Today it has about 700,000. A lot of businesses have also left, too. The city has spent 30 years acting as if nothing has really changed while the entire tax base has fled. Now the city is in a financial emergency of unthinkable proportions. Something like two-thirds of the ambulances have over 200,000 miles (320,000km) on them; there are 40% fewer police patrolling the streets than there were a decade ago; to save money, the city has shut off streetlights in something like half the city.

To make matters worse, half the city is functionally illiterate and thus can't find work in a modern economy. Unemployment in Detroit hovers around 50%.

Detroit's problems are the result of the city itself collapsing. The bankruptcy is just a symptom of the much bigger problems. Even if the federal government were to cut a $20 billion check to bail Detroit out of bankruptcy, these deeper problems would still exist.

The biggest mistake you can make is to believe that you are working for someone else.