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Comment: Re:I'm all in favor... (Score 0) 409

by rycamor (#48247625) Attached to: Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

I see. A harm. Caused by a choice not to do something.

Because, something must be done.

Which is a way to rationalize, I want to do something.

This is exactly the kind of attitude that led scientists to create the atomic bomb, even though there was a niggling doubt somewhere in there. Something about the possibility of a chain reaction that could destroy the whole world. But I mean, it was a very very... very VERY small possibility. They took comfort in that. Risking all mankind is worth it to make your dream project a reality.

Comment: Re:I'm all in favor... (Score 1) 409

by rycamor (#48245451) Attached to: Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

Bingo. That's Taleb's "Antifragile" concept. Why take uncertain risks for a very limited upside? The upside is known and represents a few percentage points in gain for crop production (mostly to benefit large corporations). But the downside is really NOT KNOWN. To say we know when we've never been there before is the height of hubris.

Comment: Re:I'm all in favor... (Score 1) 409

by rycamor (#48245429) Attached to: Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

Ah yes... all possible occurrences are "completely predictable". Keep telling yourself that.

You don't get the concept of Black Swan. To put it in simple terms, certain types of low probability occurrences aren't a problem... until they are. And if you haven't prepared for that, it might be too late.

Comment: Re:I'm all in favor... (Score 1) 409

by rycamor (#48245387) Attached to: Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

Someone posted a partial quote and this link in another thread. You might find it interesting and relevant with-regard-to the above sentiment: The Death of Expertise

I think it applies to a great many of the posts here on /. ...

Yes. Thanks for the link--interesting. I'll have to digest that a bit. He talks of the death OF expertise, while "Death by expert" is a phrase that keeps crossing my mind when I think about our civilization's trajectory. All those experts out there clamoring for buy-in, and sneering at the clueless masses... but if anything, the 20th and 21st century have shown us that experts are remarkably bad decision-makers. Obsessive knowledge of a specialty leads to myopic thinking. In the courtroom of life experts should be thought of as the clerks to the evidence room. Either that, or experts should be made to risk their own skins on their predictions and recommendations... something they are increasingly loath to do.

Comment: Re:I'm all in favor... (Score 1) 409

by rycamor (#48245293) Attached to: Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

Re:I'm all in favor... (Score:1)
by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) Alter Relationship on Monday October 27, 2014 @04:41PM (#48245065) Journal

"Ancient thought patterns" have done nothing to move people beyond simple huts. It is reality itself sorely in need of modern asskicking as it is reality that gives disease and starvation.

Huts? You see... this is the sort of idiocy I'm talking about. Maleducated nitwits who think everything important was conceived of after 1914 or something.

A question, Mr Impy: Where does algebra come from? Whence the roots of logic? These things did not originate in the civilized West. Like I said, we have amazing technical and technological proficiency, civilizations has existed before all that. To this day our best philosophers would still struggle to cross swords with the best thinkers of ancient Greece, Rome or China. Come back when you've learned a little history.

Comment: Re:I'm all in favor... (Score 3, Insightful) 409

by rycamor (#48244491) Attached to: Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

and absolutely no significantly measurable negative ecological/human impacts

You should try reading the actual paper. Taleb's precautionary principle comes from the acknowledgement that tiny, insignificant changes can become huge changes quite quickly, and quite suddenly, and that risk is a much more complex thing than most modern scientists acknowledge. That's the whole point of his warnings regarding Black Swan events. If you only look at the here-and-now small dangers and never prepare for the extended big ones, it's the big ones that get you in the end.

Even better, read Taleb's later book "Antifragile". He lays out the wisdom of some more ancient thought patterns that the West has eschewed to its detriment.

I'm starting to think that Western culture (especially the modern evolution of it) is a giant case of Aspberger's syndrome. Technically proficient and able to endlessly sort details but lacking in wisdom or deeper understanding.

Comment: Re:Use PostgreSQL (Score 1) 272

by rycamor (#46705059) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Which NoSQL Database For New Project?

A few hundred million rows is no trouble to PostgreSQL, if configured right. And if you go beyond that there are some great ways to deal with the problem:

1. Partitioning: Make a large table composed of smaller subset tables. This is a great way to deal with what is primarily historical data, since you can partition by month, quarter, or whatever time period makes sense for your application. Then, when it comes time to archive or delete old data, all you have to do is migrate that month's table to the archive location, or just drop it. MUCH less expensive than a DELETE with a WHERE clause.

2. BigSQL: if you want the power of NoSQL but the querying ability of PostgreSQL, check out this package.

3. If you are starting to get serious data, hopefully you are making serious money. There are scores of commercial entities that can help you get a lot more performance out of PostgreSQL. Some of them have add-ons for performance, or have just gotten a lot of experience and good ideas on how to deisgn a solution.

These steps may sound like a pain, but NoSQL brings all sorts of pain with it, also. Limited querying ability, many extra measures required for data integrity, stability issues... bizarre limitations in some areas... Think these things through carefully, and don't fall for anyone's hype.

Comment: Re:Replusive (Score 1) 505

by rycamor (#46131977) Attached to: The JavaScript Juggernaut Rolls On

Exactly. I'm sick of all this talk of how bad Javascript is. What were the alternatives in 1997? Brendan Eich had to solve a problem quickly and actually get something into production. Same with Tim Berners-Lee and HTML. Not perfect or elegant technologies, BUT they actually solved a problem within a finite time without expending ridiculous amounts of brainpower in design-by-committee cycles. The real world directly benefited from these solutions.

Really, Javascript only has two major problems: 1. The security model (freezing of libraries so they can't be modified by other code loaded in the browser) and 2. A few ugly aspects of how the language handles this or that type of expression... most of which have been solved in latest versions of Javascript (Harmony). Most of the other problems are just questions of implementation and add-on technologies (WebGL, Websockets, etc.. expanding the scope of a scripting language into areas that may... not... just... be the wisest)

Yes, there are all sorts of esoteric reasons why Javascript is a Terrible Lisp, and a Downright Horrible Scheme, and an Ugly Hybrid of Object-Oriented and Functional, blah blah blah... So what? It's meant to solve small finite problems in the front end. Let's keep it that way, and just clean it up. Fortunately, it is a fairly simple language.

To all those who want a type-checked, compiled language running in the browser... Uh no. I don't want to allow any site to run code I can't inspect.

The Courts

US Federal Judge Rules NSA Data Collection Legal 511

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-escalate dept.
New submitter CheezburgerBrown . tips this AP report: "A federal judge on Friday found that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records is legal and a valuable part of the nation's arsenal to counter the threat of terrorism. U.S. District Judge William Pauley said in a written opinion (PDF) that the program 'represents the government's counter-punch' to eliminate al-Qaeda's terror network by connecting fragmented and fleeting communications. In ruling, the judge noted the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and how the phone data-collection system could have helped investigators connect the dots before the attacks occurred. 'The government learned from its mistake and adapted to confront a new enemy: a terror network capable of orchestrating attacks across the world. It launched a number of counter-measures, including a bulk telephony metadata collection program — a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data,' he said."

Comment: Re:"The only problem? It's GMO." (Score 1) 400

by rycamor (#44831729) Attached to: Interview With Professor Potrykus, Inventor of Golden Rice

Generally, if the U.S. government is committed to an idea, that's my first tip-off that it is a bad one. At least, anytime since about 1913 when the statists and authoritarians took over.

Notice I didn't issue a blanket "grains are harmful". I stick to the blindingly obvious: processed sugars and highly-processed grains (and the foods they tend to be packaged in) are harmful. Even the government scientists will tell you that whole-grain bread made from freshly-milled wheat is better for you than Twinkies or that Wonderbread with a 2-month shelf life. Problem is, they still subsidize the hell out of the raw materials for Twinkies and Wonderbread. They would also (grudginly) agree that fresh vegetables picked that day from your garden are probably more nutritious than something harvested halfway across the country and shipped through three major distribution hubs before arriving at your local supermarket.

If you just look at things simply and empirically, it is very easy to test these questions. Problem is Americans are in love with "Science" as an overarching authority, and industry as a supplier of all needs, and would rather see huge edifices of logical supposition built upon studies done decades ago (of often questionable financial sources) rather than look at the evidence right before their eyes. Vary your diet for a month, and see if there's a difference in your health. Ain't that hard to do...

Comment: Re:"The only problem? It's GMO." (Score 1) 400

by rycamor (#44813379) Attached to: Interview With Professor Potrykus, Inventor of Golden Rice

Good luck generating 100%-accurate data for anything related to diet in humans without violating a bazillion ethical codes. You could merely institute draconian monitoring of your test subjects in which case you'll end up kicking everybody out of every group but the junk-food group for non-compliance. Or, you could just lock all your test subjects in cages and feed them rations of the appropriate type, allowing them to nearly starve if they refuse to eat them.

Feeding tests in lab rats are fairly practical, tests with humans are anything but, mostly for the reasons we already agree on. That's why everybody has their favorite diet and an argument about why it is better than all the others.

I didn't say 100% accurate data but a hypothetical 100% satisfactory evidence. The "could" meant it was hypothetical, as in "even IF". Now, I know it's impossible to be 100% about this stuff, but we have abundantly satisfactory evidence just from looking around us and at the food habits of those we know, that processed foods high in sugars and grains do horrible things to our health. Anyone I know who has modified their diet toward fresh, whole foods, cutting back on the processed carbs has come out a whole new person. It ain't rocket science, nor does it need to be.

Comment: Re:you ate them fried with cinnamon, didn't you (Score 1) 400

by rycamor (#44810823) Attached to: Interview With Professor Potrykus, Inventor of Golden Rice

Sweet potato "fries" (actually baked) are really tasty too. Just slice like steak fries, brush on some melted butter, olive oil or coconut oil, sprinkle a little salt (celtic sea salt is really good here), and bake for a half hour at 350 or whatever works for you. Crunchy salty-sweet. Almost like junk food, but without the transfats, preservatives and insect parts at acceptable levels.

An optimist believes we live in the best world possible; a pessimist fears this is true.