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Comment Re:Facebook deserves to be hit **very** hard (Score 1) 78

Providing data is "interfering"? I'm amazed by how many people infantalize the US voter and pretend they were swayed by some junk posted on Facebook.

The iron rule of advertising: people buy advertising because it works, despite the vast majority of advertising effectively being junk.

The problem here is that junk works, and we got ourselves a president to prove it (a divisive populist who is damaging America's standing and competitiveness in the world with every second tweet, whereas Hilary would have been largely an annoying internal problem, with 20% as much brazen in-your-face factor).

You can pry "infantilism" out of my cold, disgusted hands when advertising ceases to work.

Why Democrats Should Worry About Conor Lamb's Victory — 14 March 2018

What was not to love about Trump Republicans losing in a district that's often referred to as "Northern West Virginia"? Especially after the GOP poured more than $10 million into trying to save the seat. Making the schadenfreude even more delicious, Trump threw himself into the campaign full-bore in its final stages.

Last week, he announced a steep tariff on steel and aluminum — the one issue, more than any other, that might sway this labor-heavy district into the GOP column. "Do you think it could possibly have all been for western Pennsylvania?" Gail Collins asked rhetorically in The New York Times.

Fortunately, advertising only works up to a point. It's less effective at rehabilitating a known commodity gone sour (goodbye, Hilary, and good riddance). But still, it was effective enough to land America into the present, raging immune-response soup pot.

America's electorate is not wall-to-wall infantile: if things get bad enough, they can be roused—briefly—from their drooling stupor.

Comment retcon superpowers (Score 1) 74

But Wladimir Palant, the author of the AdBlock Plus extension, says the encryption scheme used by the master password feature is weak and can be easily brute-forced.

To support the article title, the logically necessary claim is that it was easy to brute force nine years ago.

Not that I would expect a security researcher able to improve on SHA1 to be pedantic about these kinds of "minor" details.

Comment Re:Laziness (Score 2) 43

... Wikipedia are often abysmal, based on sometimes arbitrary citations used to write the article, and, generally speaking, Wikipedia is not a good starting point to find seminal literature on a topic.

This is true.

But spray a few keywords or central names gleaned from Wikipedia into Semantic Scholar, problem solved (though presently restricted to computer science and biomedicine):

Semantic Scholar is a project developed at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, released in November 2015. It is designed to be a "smart" search service for journal articles. The project uses a combination of machine learning, natural language processing, machine vision to add a layer of semantic analysis to the traditional methods of citation analysis. In comparison to Google Scholar and PubMed, it is designed to quickly highlight the most important papers and identify the connections between them. As of January 2018, following a 2017 project that added biomedical papers and topic summaries, the corpus now includes more than 40 million papers from computer science and biomedicine.

Cites on Wikipedia are probably chosen less arbitrarily than you think. Ideally the cite has a sufficient distance from the subject matter, and contains simple statements that directly support the point you wish to add to the Wikipedia article. Beyond this, there's little upside in finding a perfect citation. The literature expert who has this all mapped out is probably too close to the subject matter to make a good editor, anyway (though it's nice when such a person supplied the original bones).

It's one of the weirdest things about the pragmatic cult of Wikipedia that it doesn't treat citations as first class objects. Citations are both essential by Wikipedia standards, yet afterthoughts by Wikipedia process.

To some degree, the inherent sentence-by-sentence sweep of the citation method serves as a safeguard against kinds of academic bias that are so deeply rooted that a non-specialist can hardly begin to imagine where the bias begins. (This was true with 1963 Britannica that carpeted my floor through most of my formative years. It was very weak in relating messy second opinions.)

In my view, the largely manual processes at Wikipedia are hardly the right place to construct an authoritative citation graph, or even just the seminal nucleus. Especially with other tools in the wings already beginning to blow this problem out of the water, on full automatic.

Comment Re:Curiousitity's sake (Score 0) 43

That in many cases Wikipedia is the first hit, or the first non-marketing-sponsored hit, for pretty much any noun you type into a search engine. You just end up there by default, like a Starbuck's.

While Wikipedia might be an unreliable street urchin, your grasping alternatives are almost certainly Hotel California pedophiles with glowing, flashing, throbbing kiddy canes (though some are disguised better than others).

No, you don't end on Wikipedia by default. You end up on Wikipedia by wisdom of the prudent mob.

Google observes people choosing to go there by default because, unlike 90% of all major properties on the Internet, Wikipedia doesn't contain eyeball fly paper or tracking beacons. And then Google ranks accordingly. (Yes, it's a circular dance.)

Forewarned is forearmed. And then, if you still want to, you can secure your travel purse, pluck up your courage, and go back out into the wild world to take your chance on the standard fare.

Comment London calling (Score 1) 193

Let it not be forgotten that the primacy of information remains, but the gatekeepers of primary information are becoming increasingly specialized and dispersed throughout the social graph. One of the problems here is not that information is waning, but that the social internet deluge refuses to wane.

The Purpose of Mathematics in a Classical Education — 1 March 2017 by Thomas Treloar

In approximately 300 B.C., Euclid brought together much of what was known in mathematics up to that point in 13 volumes. He systematically organized this material, beginning with a short list of first principles and piecing together a body of knowledge as an extended chain.

The Elements became the standard textbook in geometry for the next twenty-two hundred years. It is only in the last one hundred years that it has been discarded as required reading for all educated people.

The expectation used to be that an educated person could somehow manage to cram the essential information working-set into their brain's as a young adult, and that would provide a solid (and shared) operational basis throughout adulthood. In modern mathematics, one often sees Poincare mooted as the last universalist.

No longer do we even cram the essence of one field into our brains all at once.

One approach to this conundrum is just to accept that you're working at second (or third, or fourth) hand most of the time. The other is to dump the knowledge itself, and turn your brain into a glorified index-card compendium: rarely to have the knowledge, but to have the Knowledge about where it lives (which is rarely more than three inspired search keywords and a click or two away).

The Knowledge, London's Legendary Taxi-Driver Test, Puts Up a Fight in the Age of GPS — November 2014

Actually, "challenge" isn't quite the word for the trial a London cabbie endures to gain his qualification. It has been called the hardest test, of any kind, in the world. Its rigors have been likened to those required to earn a degree in law or medicine.

It is without question a unique intellectual, psychological and physical ordeal, demanding unnumbered thousands of hours of immersive study ... a process which, on average, takes four years to complete, and for some, much longer than that.

PBS's edumentary The Brain with David Eagleman (2015) has a segment on neurological change induced by this learning process (not a small effect, either). The specific subject of this giant, journalistic wall-of-text from turns out to be a crazy man:

He sold his engineering outfit and devoted himself full-time to the Knowledge, living off the savings he'd gained from the sale of his business.

Nevertheless, I relate to his endeavour. Half of the time on the Internet, I feel like a "butter boy" endlessly committing to mind the knowledge graph. Not the knowledge itself, just the graph, with just a little help from my own personal wiki.

Strangely, the key organizational principle in my wiki is a social graph: the names of people who discovered or wrote things. People make for the best landmarks. This was reinforced for me by a remark in a Bryan Cantrill video, where he said "corporations don't innovate, people do". I've borne this maxim in mind ever since. When a corporation talks about corporate innovation, ask yourself who the people are. If you don't know, you're being sold a bill of goods. Why is clang so great? Because it was Chris Lattner, as supported by Apple, and not some generic Apple product team. And usually when the key people leave, the innovation does, too. So my social graph consists of the people who are doing (or have done) the real work, and a general map of key ideas, leavened by how all the various concerns of life and associated professional settings overlap.

It's a good map, but sometimes I stare at my map and wonder if I know anything. Almost immediately I then wonder if there's anything I couldn't know, given my existing mental+wiki index and an hour or two in front of my keyboard and multiple portrait monitors.

In my own case, instead of delegating to shabby, second-hand opinion, I transformed myself into some kind of weirdly disembodied knowledge spectre. From where I sit—far away from the communicable body paint—it's a fine, glorious, very good, excellent time to be alive.

Information is not dead yet. Quite the contrary, though it's easier now than ever before to skulk off into a social media body-paint circle-jerk where you won't notice.

Comment tribal reputation outsourcing on crack (Score 1) 193

We've always had tribal reputation outsourcing. The main difference is that we now have tribal reputation outsourcing on crack.

In addition, we've always had a rich vocabulary concerning those who outsource their opinions while exercising insufficient personal vigilance: toady, bootlicker, sycophant, fool, ass, halfwit, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, cretin, moron, imbecile, and mean-girl wannabee (to commence dining with a preliminary cheese plate).

For the soup course, we have on offer a rich gumbo:

* fear
* authoritarian submission
* self-righteousness
* compartmentalized thinking
* hostility
* prejudice
* ethnocentrism
* dogmatism
* our "biggest problem"
* feeling empowered in groups
* insecurity
* lack of critical thinking
* egregious double standards

The other difference is that you no longer have to attend the meetings, the social media mess tent comes to you.

(My background Scrabble brain spied an opportunity to randomly rearrange the jackboot soup recipe to spell out a vile epithet; verily I remain an adult child.)

Comment what's a contaminant, really? (Score 3, Insightful) 366

How many of those things contaminate an entire apartment building so much the best option is to burn it to the ground without allowing residents to collect their belongings?

Contamination is sometimes in the eye of the beholder.

Some of these "contaminants" might have no human (or wildlife) health effects, but could simply be watch-list chemicals for terrorism screening sensors, and the authorities simply don't want to have to navigate false positives for years or decades to come.

Now grab your popcorn and watch the fire insurance companies declare this self-interested DHS bonfire an act of God.

Comment Re:SJWs are the Worst (Score 1) 99

When she returns to a population center larger than Seneca, Nebraska, maybe she won't need the gun so much.

The largest regulating influence on physical confrontation is the social environment. On average, woman slightly outperform men in best exploiting their social environment.

Bottom line: step away from the bathroom scale, and consider some of the other crucial factors.

Comment Amazon pwnd by Ursula K. Le Guin (Score 1) 242

And fear of being Amazoned has become such a defining feature of commerce, it's easy to forget the phenomenon has arisen mostly in about three years.


The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (2013) lays this entire saga out bare. Already, by then, many of Amazon's core tactics were old news.

But apparently, a lot of people out there were somehow living in their own personal reality distortion clouds: somehow perceiving Amazon through their "ah, it's so cute!" man-eating baby-broccoli peril-impervious sun shades.

Ursula K Le Guin's speech at National Book Awards: Books aren't just commodities — 2014

We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience, and writers threatened by corporate fatwa. And I see a lot of us, the producers, who write the books and make the books, accepting this — letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write.

Here's the reference:

Amazon and publisher Hachette end dispute over online book sales — 2014

Since early May Amazon has been locked in a standoff with the French publishing house after Hachette refused to give Amazon pricing control over its ebooks, which would have seen most of their digital titles discounted to less than $10 a book.

Amazon came under criticism for its "aggressive" negotiating tactics, which included preventing customers from being able to pre-order Hachette titles, reducing the discounts it offered on Hachette books and even delaying shipment of some of the publisher's titles for up to a month, all which had a huge impact on sales.

In a recent anthology, Words Are My Matter (2016), she talks about how much she anguished over writing that speech, essentially biting the hand that granted her that award. But she decided, in the end, that she meant every last work of it. Amazon actually had themselves their own table at that ceremony, where they sat stiff and thin-lipped during Le Guin's oratory.

Comment safe, cliche uber meme (Score 1) 83

People mentioning Pizzagate, Agenda 21, NWO are laughed at, or are warned off as potential trolls, so they don't make others look bad.

The degree to which this lunacy rubs off on other people is proportional to how close their positions are to those listed above.

What I'm hearing you say: Gotta flush some batshit 11s, so that we don't look bad as batshit 10s.

The whole reason that pizzagate became a cross-spectrum meme is because it's a handy batshit 11, where the pizzagate meme-dropper doesn't need to know a damn thing, because it simply can't go seriously sideways (99% of the sober Internet is on your side).

A know-nothing spectral boob trying to mock a batshit 9 in a roomful of true believers soon gets his fingers and toes hacked off. And so we have the safe, cliche uber memes.

What On Earth Does Kent Hovind Believe - Part 1 - The Flat Earth

Start at about 2m30 (the narrator's preamble is pretty smug).

So he's a Young Earth creationist through and through, but he somehow draws the line over Biblical literalism concerning a flat earth. What does that argue for his mental competence? I can't figure that out, but I do know that people are complicated, and that isn't going to change soon.

Comment Re:Do you know what this will actually do? (Score 1) 136

Have huge bandwidth costs

Somewhere a Netflix engineer is laughing his ragged ass off.

A sober assessment is that there will soon be a far larger number of articles semi-protected.

If we can somehow figure out how to mass produce the Jordan Peterson mind-meld, Wikipedia might even be able to make constructive use of this influx of outrage and youthful energy.

(That last paragraph wasn't part of the sober assessment, just in case your mental parser is invisibly fond of scope creep.)

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