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Comment Man Has A Point (Score 2) 165 165

Yes, the original article is (yet another) example of this current avant garde trend of characterizing everything as "code," but for once the underlying point has some merit: the entire institution of civil law is a structure, a system, designed to produce a desired result.

Many of my Poli-Sci classes in college were taught by erudite gentlemen who helped us ponder the beautiful and challenging intricacies of political theory. The best professor I ever had was not one of those men. He was a self-described "crazy bearded anarchist" who's class on "government budgeting" focused mainly on pragmatic advice for city managers (how to catch people embezzling, how to navigate city council politics and how to cover your ass from witch-hunts) He understood democracies and the laws that shape them from the bottom-up; the end result. The end result a political system needs are viable candidates - which they must produce from a pool of mere flawed humans, with all their foibles.

People are people - we lie and cheat all the time. The professor illustrated the point by asking us students if we ever lied - say, when we were talking to an attractive member of the opposite sex at the bar. Such things are endemic to human existence, so any system of people-selection hoping to produce a desired result must be made with the expectation that people will lie, cheat and game the system to the best of their ability. Such a system will ideally make the skills required to game it successfully synonymous with the skills to lead governments in an effective manner.

This pragmatist approach flies in the face of the nigh-holy ethical apparatus people envision when they think of what government should be; thus our perpetual disgust with politicians that will always fall short of Plato's gilded City On The Hill. The constant and ever-wearisome lamentations about The State Of Politics Today misses that the system works. To use the United States as an example: Senators and Representatives spend a great deal of their time "pork-barreling," doing their best to get federal spending directed to their state (or passing laws that benefit private industries in their states.) To quote Hall's third law of politics: "Constituency drives out consistency (i.e., liberals defend military spending, and conservatives social spending in their own districts)." Politicians do this because they need votes to win elections, and hauling goodies to their home districts is a surefire way to win loyalty. The bitching about this awful low-minded thieving of Federal tax dollars continues nonstop, but nobody considers that the system is working as intended: those politicians are indeed representing their constituents interests.

America is a unique example of a democratic republic created by people who had an opportunity to build a proper "system" from the ground-up, without having to accommodate any pre-existing legal structures. It's interesting then to note that Americans are a particularly litigious people; we don't detest a politician who lies so much as we detest one who breaks the rules. A system where people can flagrantly ignore the rules is as useless as a screen door on a submarine, for the same reasons. People will game and cheat the system as much as possible, sure - but their very existence guarantees that everyone has to cheat equally, starting from the same baseline. If nobody cared about the laws backlash against those who break them would render the system ineffectual. The strongly litigious nature of American culture is a massive reinforcement against that. The law is the system, and the system is not designed to enforce morality or ethics, but equality. The system is effectively synonymous with equality, and equality is the core concept enshrined by democracy. Americans tend to respect a politicians office inherently; it's been found many times that "President " consistently polls a few points higher than "" alone. This is also why people reacted so badly when Obama sassed the Supreme Court in a State of the Union address; it wasn't viewed as a complaint directed at the justices, but as an attack on the institution itself, (which is precisely why Obama prefaced his complaint with "With all due deference to separation of powers..") Roosevelt's "court packing" plan blew up in his face for precisely the same reason. These are tangible and highly-visible examples of government and politics as a system, reinforced and defended by a culture that takes a keen interest in maintaining its functionality. Not its morality or ethics, but its functionality.

Unfortunately, people almost always talk about morality in the context of laws; trying to ban that which they see as immoral (such as rich people giving campaigns money.) Banning something outright just results in the rich people hiring lots of lawyers to find clever loopholes to continue doing the same thing - its worth great efforts to do so, because by the rules of the system they need that money to play. Brian Boko is absolutely right to say "what we need are more people willing to look at the laws of this country based on their function." We need to view law as a functional tool to make the desired behavior the most profitable course of action for someone looking to "win" the system. His point cannot be emphasized enough; public discourse about politics rarely if ever laments a lack of functionality but rather a lack of morals. How many times have you heard people lament the "good old days" when politicians were "civil" and cultured people who could sit down and work through their differences all proper-like? These people seem to forget a man was once viciously caned to within an inch of his life in the middle of Congress. There has never been an era where people - or politicians - were anywhere near as civil and cultured as we'd like, and presumably there's never been an era without people griping that things used to be so much better back in the day. These perceptions are demonstrably false, and obscure the real issue: by the metric of producing desired behavior, so very much of our law (and especially campaign finance law) is highly nonfunctional. If we're truly concerned with results, then we need to start looking at how to achieve them. As a nation and a culture we must concern ourselves with finding what works, rather than legal proscriptions of what we wished worked.

Comment Re:Indeed (Score 1) 385 385

Nobody's trying to "smear" GamerGate, we read what you write in your own words on 8chan, /r/KIA, and under the #gamergate hashtag.

A movement with no spokesmen, which communicates primarily through venues that enforce total anonymity by default is awfully convenient for those who would use "their words" against them, since any 15-year old child on his smartphone can - and will - be held up as representative of the entire group. This is simply an extension of the "cyber-bullying" cause, where people try to conflate toss-off statements posted anonymously on the internet with serious and credible death threats. Through an anonymous, geographically remote medium like an imageboard, the possible consequences of saying nearly anything are almost nonexistent - so people say whatever they can, just because they can. It takes little wherewithal, conviction or true feeling to type "you are bad and deserve to be raped," whereas making the same threat in person almost guarantees a visit from stern men in institutional blue; which is why they're taken seriously - the motivation required to prompt it must be that much more severe. The personalities at the center of this "Gamergate" fracas make a policy of conflating the former with the latter to enhance their claims of victimhood - and if the baseless internet trashtalk isn't pouring in fast enough, they'll start actively baiting the trolls themselves.

Your entire movement started when Adam Baldwin tweeted links to YouTube videos smearing a female game dev's sex life because her ex-boyfriend wanted to run a hate campaign against her.

It sure did! And if said dev had replied in a different fashion, it would've been utterly forgotten by now. I've got a bachelors in Journalism, and I can tell you that absolutely nobody with a quarter of a brain or over the age of 20 is at all surprised that industry publications are little better than shills for the advertisers that provide all their income. The difficulty of monetizing online journalism (a task even major, respected mainstream news publications have struggled with) almost guaranteed it'd be even worse for online gaming websites. It's not exactly breaking news to anyone. It should've been a minor story only a few cared about, and died a quiet death when the muddy nature of the allegations became clear.

But that's not what happened.

What happened was a game developer resorting to moral fiat argument; i.e. my critics are sexist and thus automatically evil and wrong. At a stroke this transformed the issue; it went from some nobody indie dev arguing with nobody internet nerds to An Attack On Women. This alone polarized the issue and involved a massive preexisting base of communities, activists and political context (which was the goal, of course.) But what really blew the flames into a forest fire was the obvious collusion and outright slander by the gaming news sites being criticized: they all published "gamers are dead" articles arguing that "gamer culture" had been completely overtaken by sexism and misogyny, the implication being that anyone who identified as a "gamer" (i.e. all the people criticizing them,) was by definition a sexist, misogynistic bastard, and their opinions could and should be rejected out of hand.

This kind of argument tactic is nothing new in the political sphere - moral fiat arguing backed by complicit media outlets is a staple of left-wing strategy, as best evidenced by theCindy Sheehan phenomena. I've watched it in action for years. But when I was writing political op-eds on a home-grown website run by me and a few highschool friends, all my peers were playing Halo tournaments and generally not giving a damn about politics, like most young people. For my generation, "Gamergate" was a rude awakening; the nasty nature of real-world politics (media-complicit slander, moral fiat arguing and the rest) finally hitting them in the face. Older folk are used to this crap by now, but my young generation isn't; they're still in the throes of high dudgeon and righteous outrage over these revelations. Thus this apolitically inclined crowd has been brought into direct contact (through the invocation of Attacks On Women) with the tumblr crowd, which has come to define "Social Justice Warrior" as an epithet. Tumblr "activists" are characterized by lots of talk and no action; Freedom Riders they ain't. When moral fiat arguing is the order of the day, one needs an "-ism" of their very own to hold their ground; a minority group to belong to, so they may claim oppression when they deemed it infringed upon. This precipitates a constant cycle of balkanization; the existence of which demonstrates that tumblr "activists" are primarily interested in arguing with each other rather than advancing any social cause. These are the oft-reviled "SJWs," the perfect distillation of moral-high-ground fiat (itself an attempt to suppress dissent by marking it as categorically wicked) combined with a propensity to spend many hours on the internet arguing about it. One might say this crowd of youngsters is apolitical as well - they show little interest (and expend no real effort) in advocating civil rights causes, but enjoy the ability to hide behind the skirts of real feminists who suffered real slings and arrows (some of them quite tangible, hurled through windows, occasionally aflame) when it suits them.

You're absolutely right - "Gamergate" has little to do with "ethics in gaming journalism" and hasn't for quite a while now. It's a socio-political clash; and most of the sound and fury is powered by large groups of young people with a lot of free time and unbridled energy shitposting at each other on twitter nonstop. As a regular 4chan poster - who is also a full-grown tax-paying adult, mind you - I've seen some young adult internet acquaintances who've made it their hobby, just as the tumblr "activists" make their nigh-constant arguing/labeling their hobby. Christopher Poole (founder and until-recently owner of 4chan,) explicitly banished discussion of it off of 4chan, comparing it to "Project Chanology," (a prior sizable activist movement, that one against Scientology.) Before this move, the video game board of 4chan had little space on it for actual videogame discussion because the "devoted core" of Gamergaters just posted thread after thread after thread. The speed and ferocity with which developments are followed and arguments are waged far outstrip mere interest; it's a hobby combined with a practicing social group, much like tumblr's "SJW" communities are. The fact that Milo Yiannopoulos (an opinion columnist/journalist) who writes primarily about mainstream social and gender politics took an early interest in it is the best indicator of how quickly the whole shebang escaped the limited context of "gaming journalism." Milo says it flat-out himself at the end of this article: Very frankly, I don’t care enough about video games to try. What I do see is a huge number of people left out in the cold. So if, on occasion, I’m moved to write something about what I see in the video games industry, I hope you’ll come to it with an open mind." His "open letter" spends lots of ink forming a bridge; "yes, I'm an evil child-eating Conservative whom peoples of your age demographic are not known to favor, but we've got more in common than you might think."

I, too, am a wicked conservative - I am so conservative that I club baby seals to death with other baby seals. I'm coming from a different worldview, a different context, so naturally my interpretation is going to differ quite a bit. But human nature is a fairly consistent and easily observable factor, and the propensity of young people without summer jobs to spend altogether too much time arguing incessantly about Serious Issues is well-known. The "mass harassment campaign" you speak of is probably a lot less severe than you think; an illusion driven largely by the vigor and pace of the never-ending twitter war between the two camps.

Comment Re:Empower the pilot (Score 1) 843 843

You've put your finger right on a crucial problem - the danger of these next-gen information systems to actually overload the pilot rather than help them. The F-35 actually has six infrared cameras mounted around the plane that deliver a feed from their "sector" when the pilot looks down or behind him, letting him see "through" the plane, just like the "glass cockpit" in my video games do. It's obviously powerful and incredible, but there's a story on Slashdot right now about how HUD systems can distract a vehicle operator with too much extraneous data. Choosing what to display, how much to display, where to display it - even coding intelligent algorithms that adjust the data being shown based on contextual need will all be vital parts of making these next-generation instrumentation systems work.

Information overload has been a problem for many decades; with pilots devoting a lot of time and training to mastering the "instrument scan" and collecting and processing data quickly and efficiently from their many gauges in emergencies. As we move into the next generation of information displays, making sure we're improving, rather then degrading the pilots ability to process the important, relevant information swiftly in appropriate situations will be crucial.

Comment Re:Empower the pilot (Score 1) 843 843

In my head, that's a very lean aircraft, bordering on ultralight. It's also an aircraft with guns that point backwards -- one day someone will explain to me why we love dog fighting so much that we insist on being unable to kill the enemy right behind us. I digress.

The experiment has been tried, with little success. However, modern heat-seeking missiles are capable of making greater-than-90-degree turns to engage targets behind the launching plane's 90-degree line - they can, indeed, engage targets behind the plane! This is only possible due to the helmet-mounted HUD, incidentally - look at what you want to kill, the plane's inertial guidance systems lock on and tell the missile where to fly (blind) till the IR seeker can achieve a lock on its own.

I'm confident that an expert pilot doesn't want a fancy helmet HUD at all.

You'd be wrong. The most essential thing for a fighter pilot is situational awareness - they budget that resource as if its tangible as ammo or fuel. If your situational awareness is too low, that's a better reason to bug out than being low on ammo! Losing sight of your target during hard maneuvering is a big no-no and usually gives the enemy a huge advantage.

I've been playing fighter plane sims since Dynamax's Red Baron was the new kid on the block, and I can tell you that maintaining eye contact with a bandit while trying to fly your plane at the same time is very hard. It's even harder for real pilots due to "disorientation." Your innate sense of motion can lie to you, especially if you have no visual reference to stabilize it by (such as an enemy plane against a clear blue sky) and this has often killed pilots who trusted their left buttock more than their instruments on a dark night (including one of the Kennedy's some years ago.) Most of my simulators have a "realistic" mode and a "glass cockpit" mode which helpfully gives you perfect 360 degree vision as well as a HUD display that always floats in front of where you're looking. Being able to watch my airspeed, climb angle and other info while keeping eyes on a bandit is a massive advantage.

Comment Re:No Source, No Story - complete bullshit (Score 1) 843 843

Amen. It's depressing to see how informative and on-point today's /. can be when talking about things in their field only to see them apply incredulous, blanket statements to anything they're not as familiar with. More than anything /. seems to have lost its curiosity about techy topics - they can't even stir enough interest in something cool like fighter planes to hit up google for five seconds.

Comment Re:No Source, No Story - complete bullshit (Score 1) 843 843

But the F6F Hellcat is not simply an "Upengined F4F."

Quite correct! The F6F went from the Wildcat's 9-cylinder radial to the beastly 18 cylinder Double Wasp radial engine. The airframe had to be lengthened and modified just to admit that engine, and the whole shebang became bigger to admit other improvements (such as a hydraulic system to raise the landing gear.) The F6F was a direct developmental step up from the F4F, just as the F4F was a further refinement based on the F3F (which was a biplane!) It's worth mentioning that a "true" upengined F4F did exist; the FM-2. The larger Hellcat couldn't operate off of smaller escort carriers, so F4Fs were re-engined for service on them.

And even it couldn't (or wasn't supposed to) dogfight with a Zero, because the Zero was more maneuverable.

Not quite. Hearken back to roll rate being the most important aspect of maneuverability, then consult this old NACA roll rate chart. The Zero was a very poor roller, which meant it was in trouble versus any foe who declined to pull into a sustained turn. Against the Wildcat it had its phenomenal climbing ability... but the F6F retained the Wildcat's excellent roll rate and drastically increased the power available. The Zero could still out-climb an F6F on paper, but if it tried to get on a Hellcat's tail by entering a loop (enticing the pursuer to climb after and stall out, which would reverse their positions,) the Zero would simply be riddled with bullets as it hovered at the top of its loop by the Hellcat, whereas a Wildcat would've stalled out before it could draw a bead. The Zero's handling became more and more atrocious as airspeed increased, and though it was light and accelerated quite well, it retained energy poorly through sustained maneuvers (poor inertia.) There are many, many ways to dogfight that do not entail tight turns and do not involve a series of boom-and-zoom passes such as the rolling scissors, straight and circular yo-yos and so forth.

The F-35 doesn't appear to have any of the advantages. It's slower

That doesn't count for as much as you might think in air combat maneuvering. Aircraft bleed energy when they turn, so power/weight ratio, acceleration and the "cleanness" of the aircraft (its drag co-efficient) play a much greater role. This "report" with no name and no source is long on buzzwords and short on details; it alleges that the F-35 falls behind in the energy game, but the only reason mentioned in the article is the pilot using the energy-intensive sideslip to gain angles for shots. What about vertical performance? Were they going for supersonic snapshots in the merge, or taking tail-end shots during flat or rolling scissors? Remember, we heard the same inane complaints about the F-22 from the Fighter Mafia, including the gem "it's too big and will be spotted easily." Being big and easy to see didn't inhibit the P-47 back when the Mk1 eyeball was the only sensor, much less in the radar age. And the F-22 has an insane nose-pointing ability, which we only know about because a pilot slipped up and alluded to its post-stall turning ability (vectored thrust and all.) It can also hit supersonic speed at military power, without need for gas-guzzling afterburners, which alone ensures it's going to enter a fight with more energy to start with, as well as retain energy well (it has to be very slick to achieve supersonic without afterburners!) This didn't spare it the same rough treatment the F-14 received, or the F-18, or indeed any US built fighter that isn't the sainted and precious F-16. Between the scant - and suspect - statements in the article, and the decades-long pattern of nonsense slander hurled at every new airframe that isn't "light," I can't help but feel the article is incredibly suspect.

Comment No Source, No Story - complete bullshit (Score 5, Insightful) 843 843

The big red flag that nobody caught (since nobody actually reads the articles) is that the story is completely unsourced. Where did the author of this blog get his hands on this information? Why can't we see it? What's the name of it? When was it declassified? A quick google search finds the same story being echoed verbatim by the likes of the Daily Mail and others; all of which simply link back to this blog as the source. Until we see an actual source, it's bullshit - how are we supposed to know they didn't just make this up?

The article summary said "can't turn or climb fast enough" but the article itself showcases the pilot complaining about nose-rate only - i.e. turn rate. As anyone who knows anything about Air Combat Maneuvering can tell you, turn rate is the LEAST important aspect of maneuverability. Roll rate is far, far more important, as every aerodynamic maneuver aside from a loop begins with a roll. Aircraft with superior roll rate can shake better-turning fighters through maneuvers like the rolling scissors. Unsurprisingly, its through tactics like these that the F4F Wildcat held its own against the Japanese Zero, and when the Wildcat was up-engined to become the F6F Hellcat it dominated the Zero flat-out. The US Navy would later adopt the F4F Phantom, a fighter that eschewed turn-rate entirely in favor of absolutely insane thrust (the jet set several world speed records.) They were told this plane could not dogfight - and then pilots like Duke Cunningham defeated nimble little MiG-17s in close combat.

Once upon a time a group of industry experts who thought the Japanese had it right formed a clique named the "Lightweight Fighter Mafia," and their efforts eventually produced the F-16. Pleased with their accomplishment, they spent their time since then spewing BS about every single aircraft to come after it, including the F-18. To this day you hear people claiming the F-18 is a "turkey" and "can't dogfight" and that the navalized F-16 was passed over by the Navy due to sheer inter-service rivalry and pigheadedness. That this bullshit flies in the face of actual pilot accounts doesn't seem to slow them down a whit. The F-22 had its turn on the bullseye, and now it's the F-35s turn.

In light of the decades-old pattern of "sneer at the new expensive jet" popular amongst industry professionals and armchair warriors alike, a complete failure of the article to quote any opinion on the F-35s vertical maneuvering ability (the go-to counter to turnfighter tactics) and the simple fact that the source is completely undisclosed, I'm calling bullshit on this one - and on everyone who decided to sling out a pithy comment without doing a five-second bullshit check. I thought /. readerbase was supposed to be smart?

Comment Re:What plan? (Score 1) 88 88

After the last time this topic came up on Slashdot (complete with a long argument over whether retaining nukes for anti-asteroid work was wise) I was doing some Wikipedia browsing and came upon this tidbit:

"An April 2014 GAO report notes that the NNSA is retaining canned subassemblies (CSAs) " associated with a certain warhead indicated as excess in the 2012 Production and Planning Directive are being retained in an indeterminate state pending a senior-level government evaluation of their use in planetary defense against earthbound asteroids."[10] In its FY2015 budget request, the NNSA noted that the B53 component disassembly was "delayed", leading some observers to conclude they might be the warhead CSAs being retained for potential planetary defense purposes."

In that prior thread there was a lot of pooh-poohing the need for nukes because even a small, non-nuclear impact can nudge an orbital trajectory out of an impact course.... IF it's applied months or even years ahead of time. That doesn't do us any good for a big rock we spot far too late - but a massive 9 megaton nuke like the B53 is a different story. Now, how about delivering it?

The bomb - in its planetary weapon role - weighed four tons (about 3600 kilograms.) Lets assume that the mass of the completed bomb (no longer needed for parachutes, etc,) is allocated to RCS systems, gyroscopes, a small engine and fuel for terminal intercept course correction, so it stays at a hefty four imperial tons. What could lift this hefty package?

As it turns out, a whole lot of things:

Note that the biggest of those rockets can lift well in excess of the 3600kg of the weapon, which allows them plenty of spare delta-V for a TLI injection (for a gravity-assist slingshot around the moon,) and the biggest Atlas V can put a staggering 12,000kg into sun-synchronous orbit, so it can almost certainly put 3600kg into solar orbit. There's plenty of delta-v in these vehicles for highly-elliptical, fuel-inefficient, time-efficient intercept orbits. If that's not enough, we actually REACHED a comet in a highly-elliptical solar orbit with a spacecraft of almost 3,000kg mass (well within the weight limits of dozens of smaller nuclear bombs that would be sufficient to nudge an impactor off-course given a long-range intercept,) and the stories about this spacecraft (Rosetta) have been all over /. in the past few months.

How do comments this clueless get modded to +5!?

Gosh that takes me back... or is it forward? That's the trouble with time travel, you never can tell." -- Doctor Who, "Androids of Tara"