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Comment Two opposed postions on abortion, both libertarian (Score 2) 427

If you say something about my freedom stopping at his nose, then I remind you that the baby's right to live stops at the aborter's saline injection, scraping blade, etc.

libertarians might agree that abortion should be illegal, and might not. I'll explain why:

The core of libertarian philosophy: force and fraud are not acceptable, but as long as people are free to choose, the state shouldn't intervene.

Thus a libertarian would not be in favor of the state forbidding drugs like alcohol or tobacco or marijuana. If a person chooses to use such drugs it is his/her choice.

But a libertarian would agree that murder should be illegal.

So it comes down to: is an abortion murder?

libertarians who believe that life begins at conception, and even a one-week-old embryo counts as a person, would believe that abortion is murder, and thus should be illegal.

libertarians who believe that an embryo isn't a person yet would believe that abortion should be the choice of the mother.

The question of whether an embryo is a person is not one that is decided by libertarian philosophy, and thus two people who are libertarians might have opposite opinions.

All libertarians would agree that the state should not be using tax money to fund abortions. Some libertarians think the state should be very small, and others (the "anarcho-capitalists") want no state at all; none would consider funding abortions to be a legitimate function for the state.

P.S. I read an essay by Carl Sagan where he suggested that before brain activity starts up, a fetus is not a person, but after the brain is functioning it should be considered an unborn person. IIRC he said that is about the third trimester. (Note, I did a Google search and found one web page saying brain activity starts around 25 weeks, which would be early third trimester.)

Comment Re:the point (Score 5, Informative) 120

The point of Docker is to have a single package ("container") that contains all of its dependencies, running in isolation from any other Docker containers. Since the container is self-contained, it can be run on any Docker host. For example, if you have some wacky old program that only runs on one particular set of library versions, it might be hard for you to get the Docker container just right to make it run; but once you do, that container will Just Work everywhere, and updating packages on the host won't break it.

The point of the news story is that someone did a better job of stripping the container down, removing libraries and such that were not true dependencies (weren't truly needed).

Not only does this make for smaller containers, but it should reduce the attack surface, by removing resources that are available inside the container. For example, if someone finds a security flaw in library libfoo, this would protect against that security flaw by removing libfoo when it is not needed. It's pretty hard for an exploit to call code in a library if the library isn't present. Also, presumably all development tools and even things like command-line shells would be stripped out. Thus a successful attacker might gain control over a docker container instance, but would have no way to escalate privileges any further.

If the stated numbers are correct (a 644 MB container went down to 29 MB) yet the new small package still works, then clearly there is a lot of unnecessary stuff in that standard 644 MB container.

Comment Hey AMD, show us your new CPUs for 2016 (Score 5, Informative) 152

Hey, AMD, show us your new CPUs for 2016. Everything you got now is long in the tooth.

How right you are. But their basic problem has been that they were still stuck on old semiconductor fabrication processes. Intel has spent a bunch of money on fab technology and is about two generations ahead of AMD. It didn't help that their current architecture isn't great.

I'm not a semiconductor expert, but as I understand it: the thinner the traces on the semiconductor, the higher clock rate can go or the lower the power dissipation can be (those two are tradeoffs). Intel's 4th-generation CPUs were fabbed on 22 nm process, and their current CPUs are fabbed on 14 nm process. AMD has been stuck at 28 nm and is in fact still selling CPUs fabbed on a 32 nm process. It's brutal to try to compete when so far behind. But AMD is just skipping the 22 nm process and going straight to 14 nm. (Intel has 10 nm in the pipeline, planned for 2017 release, but it should be easier to compete 14 nm vs 10 nm than 32/28 nm vs 14 nm! And it took years for AMD to get to 14 nm, while there are indications that they will make the jump to 10 nm more quickly.)

But AMD is about to catch up. AMD has shown us their new CPU for 2016; its code-name is "Zen" and it will be fabbed on a 14 nm process. AMD claims the new architecture will provide 40% more instructions-per-clock than their current architecture; combined with finally getting onto a modern fab process, the Zen should be competitive with Intel's offerings. (I expect Intel to hold onto the top-performance crown, but I expect AMD will offer better performance per dollar with acceptable thermal envelope.) Wikipedia says it will be released in October 2016.

Intel is so far ahead of AMD that it's unlikely that AMD will ever take over the #1 spot, but I am at least hoping that they will hold on to a niche and serve to keep Intel in check.

The ironic thing is that Intel is currently making the best products, yet still they feel the need to cheat with dirty tricks like the Intel C Compiler's generating bad code for CPUs with a non-Intel CPUID. Also I don't like how Intel tries to segment their products into dozens of tiers to maximize money extraction. (Oh, did you want virtualization? This cheaper CPU doesn't offer that; buy this more expensive one. Oh, did you want ECC RAM? Step right up to our most expensive CPUs!)

Intel has been a very good "corporate citizen" with respect to the Linux kernel, and they make good products; but I try not to buy their products because I hate their bad behavior. I own one laptop with an Intel i7 CPU, but otherwise I'm 100% non-Intel.

I want to build a new computer and I don't want to wait for Zen so I will be buying an FX-8350 (fabbed on 32 nm process, ugh). But in 18 months or so I look forward to buying new Zen processors and building new computers.

Comment Server 54 was walled off (Score 3, Interesting) 332

Only 4 years, not 18+, but still a good story. At University of North Carolina they took an inventory of their servers and realized they couldn't find one. Eventually by following cables they discovered that it had been sealed up behind a new wall, four years previously. The server had been chugging along with no problems during that that whole time.

Comment Re:Unbiased source? (Score 4, Interesting) 110

Right. This is why I think VP9 actually could win and become the new standard (replacing H.264).

H.265 and VP9 seem like they are definitely in the same ballpark on quality. And H.265 is heavily encumbered with patents; you have to pay royalties, and you never know what the royalties might cost in five years. VP9, on the other hand, is simply free: no royalties, no restrictions on what you may do with the video.

Even if VP9 takes a lot more CPU time to encode, and even if H.265 is slightly better than VP9, not having to pay royalties (not even having to keep track of what you do with the video!) is such a huge benefit. It seems like a no-brainer.

And Google will be making sure that all the Android phones at least will have good hardware support for VP9 decoding. VP8 never had a chance against H.264 because the hardware support wasn't there, and large companies were content to pay the capped fees as you noted.

All that's left is possible legal FUD around VP9, but even that seems pretty cut-and-dried to me. MPEG-LA tried for something like a year to find patents to put into their patent pool to extract royalties from VP8, and in the end Google gave them a one-time payment of (to Google) a relatively small amount of money. Thanks to that one-time payment we know MPEG-LA won't ever come after anyone for using a VP8-derived codec, and I have no reason to think anyone would be able to prevail in court if they try it.

Given all of the above, it seems to me that VP9 is the obvious choice for the new video standard, and I kind of wonder why anyone is still interested in using H.265 and paying the royalties.

Comment Build your own O2 headphone amp (Score 4, Informative) 135

The O2 headphone amplifier is an extremely clean amp that can drive almost any headphones. It sounds great. Pair it with a clean DAC, rip all your CDs to FLAC, and you can listen to your music from your computer with the very highest in fidelity.

If you can solder, you can build the O2 amp for $30 to $40 worth of parts.

The guy who designed the O2 also designed a really good DAC. He wanted to release it as a DIY project but the realities of the DAC chip business mean that it was only practical to sell a complete DAC board. But you could make a project out of building an O2 amp in an enclosure with the DAC board built-in. (I have such a device but I can't solder; I bought mine from JDS Labs, pre-built.)

I am friends with a world-class audio expert, and he agrees that the O2+ODAC is the best way to spend your money. It's as clean as $1000+ solutions.

P.S. Article about the guy who designed the O2 and ODAC: "the audio genius who vanished"

Comment Re:That's exactly right (Score 1) 645

I'm glad that you are so happy with the cost of electricity. However, I keep reading magazine articles about what a disaster the energy policy in Germany has been, and your one data point does not convince me.

The Economist wrote:

The simultaneous dash to renewables and new fossil-fuel power plants resulted in overcapacity and caused wholesale prices to tumble, which has battered the utilities' profits.

At the same time, the prices paid by consumers have been rising. This is because of the above-market prices guaranteed for renewable energy.


This means that traditional utilities have turned instead to much more climate-damaging coal for generation. The result is that prices have gone up and the use of renewable sources has expanded, but Germans have ended up emitting more carbon dioxide as a result of the extra coal...

But it gives me no happiness to think that the energy plan in Germany is failing. I hope that it will work out eventually.

What Germany really needs, what everyone really needs, to make renewable energy work is storage. I am hoping for new storage technologies to make grid-level storage practical... the liquid metal batteries from Ambri, or pumped electrolyte batteries, or whatever. The only currently practical technology is pumped hydro, and the energy policy in Germany has led to pumped hydro facilities shutting down. If your energy policy leads to coal plants continuing to operate and pumped hydro shutting down, You're Doing It Wrong.

On the other hand, I am also reading that that companies in Germany are planning to build more pumped storage within a decade despite the current economic disincentives, and coal use is going down. Perhaps it will work out in the future.

Comment Ops team "converted" secure emails to insecure (Score 2) 261

The real problem, which gets far too little discussion, is that Hillary Clinton seems to have set up a system where state department employees (from the "ops" team) would read classified emails on the secure email system, and then type up a summary and send the summary to her personal (non-secure) email system.

In the first e-mail, Clinton curtly instructs Sullivan, "It's a public statement. Just email it." Minutes later, Sullivan responds, "Trust me, I share your exasperation. But until ops converts it to the unclassified email system, there is no physical way for me to email it. I can't even access it."

Naturally, when ops "converted" the emails, they didn't copy over any classification markings, allowing Hillary Clinton to truthfully say she never received any emails marked as classified.

It is partisan spin to use the word "retroactively" to describe these emails being newly marked with classification markings. If the information in the emails was classified, the emails were classified all along; it doesn't matter whether the emails were marked as classified or not... and Hillary Clinton, who is not dumb and is a lawyer, knows this.

This process of "converting" emails from secure to insecure is go-to-prison stuff. It's truly amazing that Hillary Clinton thought she could get away with doing this.

Unless the information in this article is fabricated or otherwise untrue, she is going to be in very big trouble:

That Hillary and her staff at Foggy Bottom were wittingly involved in a scheme to place classified information into ostensibly unclassified emails to reside on Clinton's personal, private server is the belief of every investigator and counterintelligence official I've spoken with recently, and all were at pains to maintain that this misconduct was felonious.

"The FBI will get someone to talk, we always do."

"This was about a lot more than just some classified emails," a senior Capitol Hill staffer told me, "and we'll get to the bottom of it. But we're happy to let the FBI do the heavy lifting for right now."

Comment Re: Gotta mention Powells (Score 4, Informative) 133

The Powell's technical bookstore closed, but Powell's opened a replacement called Powell's 2. This was a smaller store with fewer books, but it was right across the street from the "City of Books" main store.

However, Powell's 2 also closed. I guess the technical books are just in the main store now because they no longer list a special location for technical books.

Comment Re:Screw your gun rights (Score 1) 954

your first example is unmeasurable

Can't be perfectly measured, but can be estimated by interviewing people and asking questions. (Similarly, before an election, the number of votes for each candidate is unmeasurable; yet the polls accurately predicted that Barack Obama would be elected President.)

Because of the different methods used to collect the data, estimates vary wildly. But all of the estimates agree that most of the time, a weapon is not even fired, let alone someone killed by a defensive gun use.

Maybe you are going for emotional manipulation instead of reason. Is that the case?

No, that is not the case.

Comment Re:Screw your gun rights (Score 1) 954

So, the only way to handle the issue without having godlike powers is to take all of them.

Can't be done. Impossible. You are dreaming.

As long as we are going to wish for the impossible, I wish that all the people who are willing to hurt others would simply be kind people who don't want to hurt others.

If you want me to believe that you can keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals, first show me a place where junkies are unable to buy crack cocaine. Crack cocaine is not legal for anyone, anywhere... we have Draconian laws about it and those laws are enforced.

And yet the junkies are able to get their fix, week after week. (Most violent criminals who have a gun don't get a new one very often... certainly not every week.)

Thus, our choices as a society: either only criminals will have firearms, or everyone will have firearms. And Gary Kleck's research shows that legal firearms in the hands of ordinary citizens deters a substantial amount of violent crime each year.

I read an essay that I found very moving. It was written by a guy who worked for civil rights for black people in the deep South in the 1950's. He said that he will forever be opposed to any attempt to make it illegal for law-abiding citizens to have guns, or to give the police department authority to decide who may have guns and who may not. Black folks being legally armed prevented an uncountable but nonzero number of lynchings, and he said in some cases the local recruiting station for the KKK was the local police department.

TL;DR If you take away the legal defensive uses of firearms you will increase the amount of violent crime (by preventing some violent crimes from being deterred) and you will not prevent violent crime because criminals will still be armed.

Sure, the link between handguns and violence is obvious.

Handguns can be used to commit violent crimes, but they do not cause crimes. Violent criminals regard a firearm as a necessary tool of their trade, and they will have one.

If you somehow got the magical ability to get rid of all the firearms, people would still kill each other with knives, blunt instruments, and hands and feet. More people are killed by hands and feet each year in the USA than are killed by any weapon in the UK each year.

In the past two decades, the number of firearms in the USA has dramatically increased while at the same time the number of violent crimes has decreased. If guns caused crime, this would not be the case.

So, in the end, you and I want the same thing: as few violent crimes as possible, ideally none. We disagree on how best to achieve that.

Comment Re:Screw your gun rights (Score 1) 954

I read the Gary Kleck piece and he seems to be pretty biased and actually narcissistic in his presentation.

Hmm, then I apologize for choosing a poor link to use. What I got out of that is "for two decades I have been hearing the same criticisms and none of them are invalid" and I guess what you got from it is "narcissistic".

Better then would be to read his actual book. The American Society of Criminology awarded Professor Kleck the Hindelang award for this book.

And the other URLs you gave are obviously from pro-gun sites so I didn't go there.

Perhaps you didn't realize it, but the Kellerman study was published in an obviously anti-gun publication.

Also, Arthur Kellerman has been a member of at least one anti-gun organization. (The latter link is to an obviously pro-gun web site, but it reproduces a letter to the editor published in a medical journal by a doctor. The doctor is an obviously pro-gun doctor, but he is providing evidence that Kellerman is an obviously anti-gun doctor, and I don't know how I would go about finding a completely unbiased source you would accept who has taken the trouble to research Kellerman and report on his membership in anti-gun organizations.)

Finally, here is a book I recommend: it thoroughly covers the statistics around violence and gun ownership. It concludes that cultural factors are much more important in violence than the number of available firearms. The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy

It's scientists trying to deal with an illness and its causes, rather than folks who started with a point and then used Polya's tactics to justify it.

Oh, really? I have provided multiple links to you showing that Kellerman's study was structurally unsound. We cannot put error bars on its conclusions, it had a small sample size, and it only counted defensive uses of a firearm if they resulted in a dead body (which drastically under-counts defensive uses). Even if you believe that it was intended as an unbiased study, its flaws render its results useless.

Also, its predictions have not been borne out in the following two decades. I have provided evidence for you that the number of guns in the USA rose dramatically since the publication of the Kellerman study, while shootings of all kinds (accidental and intentional) declined dramatically. I am not going to claim that the drastic increase in guns caused the decline in shootings; but pretty clearly if a gun is 43 times more likely to hurt you than to be a benefit, the drastic increase in guns should have been correlated with a drastic increase in harm.

Here's a reference that presents these facts. This Economist article has graphs that show firearms deaths declining drastically since the early 1990s at the same time that the number of firearms in the USA dramatically increased. (By the way, the article ends with a sentence saying that the link between guns and violence "is obvious" despite the clear evidence to the contrary presented in the article. I doubt they cherry-picked any data to try to make firearms look less dangerous.)

Finally, if it is unbiased research you want, I recommend you read the Wright/Rossi/Daly book. The Carter administration funded research into gun control, and Wright and Rossi engaged in the research expecting to prove that gun control prevents violence. Their research showed the opposite, and changed their minds on the subject.

Comment Re:Screw your gun rights (Score 1) 954

The Kellerman study was badly and tendentiously designed.

The worst flaw: that study only counted uses of a firearm that resulted in a dead body. If some guy kicked in the front door of a home, and the woman inside pointed a gun at him and he left, then Kellerman's study would not count that as a "use" of a firearm. Because most defensive uses of a firearm do not result in the weapon being fired, let alone anyone dying, this structurally stacked the deck against defensive gun uses.

That study also lumps in suicides with homicides. I have not seen any honest study that shows that a gun in the home causes an increase in the suicide rate.

The study started with people killed by firearms, which meant there was a 100% chance of a firearm being present, but then guessed whether there was a firearm in the home of a "matching" person. We have no way of knowing how many of the "guesses" were correct, and each case where they guessed wrong would lower their result. We literally cannot put error bars on the result.

Kellerman's own data showed much higher correlations: having an adult in the home who has a previous felony conviction for a violent crime is a much better predictor of the chance of violence.

There are plenty of articles on the flaws in the Kellerman study.

Professor Gary Kleck's research shows that firearms are used effectively for defensive purposes many times per year.

And I just posted links showing that the number of shootings (both accidental and intentional) has dramatically fallen at the same time that the number of firearms in the USA has dramatically risen. If the Kellerman study's conclusions were accurate, the number of shootings should have risen when the number of guns rose so much.

It is a mistake to base any decisions on dishonest research.

Comment Re:John Oliver (Score 1) 954

Honest citizens are still mostly badly trained dumbasses.

And yet, GP's point is still correct. Taking guns away from the law-abiding would not decrease your risk.

Do you live your life by real numbers or just gut feelings?

Oh, real numbers, definitely.

Since 1992, the number of unintentional shootings has declined by 57% in the USA:

Since the early 90's, the number of intentional shootings has also fallen roughly in half. It fell more quickly than the unintentional numbers but then plateaued. Note that this statistic excludes suicides... properly, IMHO, as I don't believe that guns cause suicide.

And both of these declines are despite the fact that there are more firearms available than ever before. This article has a chart that starts in 1996; it shows that in 1996 there were less than 250 million firearms in the USA, and currently there are over 350 million firearms in the USA. That's over a 40% increase in the number of firearms.

Therefore, the increase in guns must prove that the guns caused the reduction in violence, right? Well, no. Correlation doesn't prove causation.

However, these numbers do show that guns don't magically cause violence. If guns caused violence, then the massive increase in the number of guns should be correlated with an increase of violence rather than a decline.

So: if you "live your life by real numbers", and you want to argue in favor of taking firearms away from the law-abiding, then please provide some statistics that support your plan.

Comment The Intel compiler still anti-competitive (Score 5, Informative) 225

Intel's compilers still use the CPUID instruction to decide whether to emit efficient code or not. Intel has an official notice to this effect. Charmingly, the notice is only available as an image file. I presume this is to make it harder to search for the notice.

Every time I see benchmarks now, I wonder whether the results were affected by the use of an Intel compiler.

I try very hard to not buy Intel products.

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