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Comment Re:So can I sue my college? (Score 1) 206

By making fun of people who use the word "literally", I am "voting" to keep the old definition and keep the new definition from becoming accepted, and I will do so as long as it is practical.


Abuse of "literally" or "exponentially" pretty much consigns a person to the beer leagues of serious debate, so far as I'm concerned. From the perspective of a thinking mind, neither of these common uses is all that different from making a fist with your thumb inside. Sure, maybe the chump punches above his or her weight class, but first impression is squarely in the "not" quadrant.

Correct application of "fewer" to countable nouns signals an adversary who has properly joined the fight.

Just because some other guy rides his Harley wearing nothing but a Speedo and a chin strap affixed to a burnt piece of toast, doesn't mean you have to endorse the practice yourself. As the old saying goes: Looks good on you!

No matter what the dictionary might say, the taste of others ends at my nose.

Comment faux objectivity FTW (Score 4, Insightful) 197

Ugh... you're missing the plain and simple truth that polygraphs DONT WORK. They are complete horseshit ...

No, you're missing the point.

Imposing the polygraph protocol on the polygraph subject forces the polygraph subject into a highly disadvantaged mode of engagement. If the horseshitness of the polygraph test were to become the subject of public outrage, the powers-that-be would lose a valuable interrogation tactic.

It runs deep. The cloud of uncertainty over being convicted by a fallible machine with no viable recourse or defense adds to the psychological stress of the subject. This effect would be greatly lessened if the damn thing actually worked. Basically the polygraph examiner gets to sit there and decide your fate in an elaborate ritual of faux objectivity.

How could you say that this doesn't work? Faux objectivity practically bats clean-up in the fine-grinding mill of democratic disempowerment.

Do you consent to a polygraph test?

Absolutely, so long as I'm not forced to hang my head and grunt monosyllables.

Are you refusing to take the polygraph test?

No. I'm refusing the invasive, fucked up protocol that you've willingly elaborated around the idiotic, frightening wires. Wire me up, then engage me in normal conversation, eye to eye. Not my fault if your machine has no technical merit once stripped of the demeaning ritual. If that bugs you, work harder. Innovate. Get the captains of industry on the blower. To hear them tell it, they innovate twice a day and thrice on Saturdays. Surely simple eye contact does not exceed your far-reaching dystopian prowess?

Hardly anyone would consent to answering questions within these bizarre strictures without the quasi-religious deference to the cult of the coloured wires. It's such a Milgramesque whitecoat scam, which nevertheless works a treat if your subject complies.

Comment taskmaster tango (Score 1) 822

But you can't not prosecute people who undoubtedly did commit crimes because you agree with their stated motives.

Your ultimate appeal to non-discretion is just another form of deterrence porn modestly clad in a knee-length skirt.

When the rules themselves are a clear and present danger, it's time for collective social judgement to enter the system. Any society that makes rule of law its highest virtue puts itself under a stiff obligation not to enact stupid laws. Rule of law is only as good as the law itself. If the law itself is extraordinarily well conceived, there should hardly ever be a valid exception to the rule of law.

No provision of law beatifies a corrupt taskmaster.

Comment Re:Sorry man, but not everyone agrees with you (Score 1) 1098

There is also the issue that historically GCC architecture is deliberately unclean in order to prevent your previous (and following) suggestions. RMS does not want GCC to play any part in a toolchain/process which might have non-GPL parts, but that can't be controlled with copyright licence because simply reading / producing e.g an intermediate language does not make a derivative work. Hence GCC is locked-down technically so you can't access any of the intermediate steps.

Isn't that called security through obfuscation? Doesn't that create the conditions for a large number of people who are mainly governed by pragmatism to stampede into the arms of your mortal enemy?

Or is he also trying to stamp out pragmatism as part of the bycatch?

Comment not fast enough for this tiger (Score 1, Funny) 338

Besides, my "high speed" Internet from Comcast seemed fast enough, enabling my household to stream HD videos, load web pages quickly, and connect multiple devices as needed, largely without hiccup. I was wrong.

Is there a special Olympics for underestimating one's needy narcissism?

There are first world problems, and then there are 90210 problems, and then there is the unreliable gardener who once over-trimmed the bonsai tree beside the Arowana pond in the sunken garden of your private Luxembourg vacation villa, and then there's this.

I didn't think I needed a seventh naked women with especially plump breasts dropping peeled grapes into my mouth, but I was wrong. — Caligula

I get it. The Concorde is sexy. If I sunk my backside into a Bugatti Veyron the first words out of my mouth would be "I could get used to this real quick."

Need? Not so much.

Comment Re:US paying Europe for emissions... (Score 1) 259

China for the most part isn't even trying. The USA at least tries.

It won't be long now--maybe a generation--before China is working overtime to outsource their dirtiest industries to lower-wage economics in sub-Saharan Africa, at which point their index of "at least they are trying" will bend abruptly upwards like the knee in a tree-ring extrapolated global warming infographic.

Funny how often the people regarded as trying the hardest are usually handy to a lumpy carpet covering a trap door which opens onto a long shaft.

Comment rubber-necker woot-woot (Score 2) 276

They actually only know your email and that your Adobe password was 'Adobe123'. That might indicate that you reuse that password pattern, but you might not.

Trust me, the NSA uses statistics and not fuzzy logic. Trust me, in the general case, it's an entropy leak. As someone with apg-generated unique passwords for every place I visit (as short as 10 characters if I really don't give a shit) I might have one such password in my portfolio, but it would be a joke, a highly self-conscious joke. It's still an entropy leak. I'm sure the NSA has a special folder for people with my sense of humour.

Now to trash on the story summary.

and worse

And worse than "password"? Oh, please. In the most contrived example, you might find a way. But generally, "password" has a death grip on most worstest. Just couldn't resist tacking on the rubber-necker woot-woot, could you?

Comment Re:Not exactly new (Score 1) 405

Any legislator who accepts such money deserves 20 years in federal prison...and not a "gentleman's club", either.

You do know where deterrence porn goes, don't you? Missing hands. Honour killing of single mothers ... by their own families. And the political transparency index just zooms right up.

This from one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known, where once upon a the Western Europeans weren't worthy to lick their curly shoes (on the web are more associated with Pakistan, but that could have something to do with Arab culture raising "shoe fetish" almost to the top of the state's checklist of people to watch closely).

Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane

The Europeans were no slouch in the deterrence department, either. Here's a hot, glowing pinnacle of deterrence that settled accounts a long year after the horse had already left the barn.

Münster Rebellion

And yet, it's not the last crime ever recorded. What does it take, a nuclear bomb?

I'm presently reading Tyler Cowen's Average is Over. This is about how the machines are presently driving a wedge through the middle class. It's a sobering—rather than alarmist—perspective on what comes next (sorry, no Armageddon porn for the tin hats).

One current is that the machines are poised to begin gnawing away at the tedious underbelly of routine law. The downsides are easier to enumerate, not having been there. The upside—which is hard to envision in precise terms—is that old bastion of the workings of law as privileged knowledge will finally experience a scary, erosive Borg-like incursion.

This I think will have more long term effect that throwing a bunch of lawyers into a stone box, where they become subject to psychopathic depredations of their person while justice-loving members of greater society snuggle into their beds to dream happy dreams.

That said, if there's so much as a pebble of deterrence we've left unturned, the executives of Network Solutions should be high on the list. Their behaviour leaves you wanting to believe in deterrence soooo badly.

Comment NIMFY (Score 4, Interesting) 136

But if nobody runs it, you do not uncover bugs and you never get a .1 release.

Yeah, we're talking the NIMFY effect: not in my front yard.

Really, with the .0 releases, if you try to stay fairly mainstream in your deployment, and you're mindfull about the necessary mitigations if it doesn't go well, the risk is not outrageous. But first test your backups.

If I had to choose between 10.0 (which I hardly know) and 5.3 (all too well known) I'd pick 10.0 in a heartbeat. That series should have started out at 5.-5 (five dot negative five).

The .0 thing is just a loose heuristic.

Comment Re:Murica Fuck yea! (Score 1) 635

As American cities grew, people found it very easy and affordable to move 10, 15, or 20 miles away from the city center, and do the same thing.

Your whole argument hinges on this point, but you undermine it later by confessing that infrastructure to serve these low population densities is very expensive.

How could this be?

Public policy. Implicit subsidies. Reaping what you don't sow.

One example of this is how the civic center soon finds it difficult to finance their police services. Yet everyone in suburbia benefits from the law and order in the downtown as maintained 9-5, without actually paying their fair share of the cost.

During the baby boom, the middle class got what the middle class wanted. For the politicians it was buy now, pay later. Benefits delivered immediately, true costs deferred.

Glaeser on Cities

... the big idea was a vast, vertically integrated factory. And that's a great recipe for short run productivity, but a really bad recipe for long run reinvention. And a bad recipe for urban areas more generally, because once you've got a River Rouge plant, once you've got this mass vertically integrated factory, it doesn't need the city; it doesn't give to the city. It's very, very productive but you could move it outside the city, as indeed Ford did when he moved his plant from the central city of Detroit to River Rouge. And then of course once you are at this stage of the technology of an industry, you can move those plants to wherever it is that cost minimization dictates you should go. And that's of course exactly what happens. Jobs first suburbanized, then moved to lower cost areas. The work of Tom Holmes at the U. of Minnesota shows how remarkable the difference is in state policies towards unions, labor, how powerful those policies were in explaining industrial growth after 1947. And of course it globalizes. It leaves cities altogether. And that's exactly what happened in automobiles. In some sense--and what was left was relatively little, because it's a sort of inversion[?] of the natural resource curse, because it was precisely because Detroit had these incredibly productive machines that they squeezed out all other sources of invention--rather than having lots of small entrepreneurs you had middle managers for General Motors (GM) and Ford. And those guys were not going to be particularly adept at figuring out some new industry and new activity when the automobile production moved elsewhere or declined. And that's at least how I think about this--that successful cities today are marked by small firms, smart people, and connections to the outside world. And that was what Detroit was about in 1890 but it's not what Detroit was about in 1970. And I think that sowed the seeds of decline.

There's the invisible hand for you, hard at word squandering tax-payer dollars, only at first it all seems so tremendously win-win.

Comment hacking pompous insularity (Score 3, Insightful) 324

Also, a false report that denigrates some other organization but bolsters one's value in the eyes of another can also be fraudulent, particularly if the others net value, including goodwill is harmed.

Dude, eristic argument is the mainstay of civilization. We're always engaged in the internecine struggle to discredit other parties to our own ends. I'm doing it right now.

More interestingly, this is perhaps the founding principle of the human language capacity.

The Argumentative Theory

The article ... is a review of a puzzle that has bedeviled researchers in cognitive psychology and social cognition for a long time. The puzzle is, why are humans so amazingly bad at reasoning in some contexts, and so amazingly good in others?

From the text itself:

We do all these irrational things, and despite mounting results, people are not really changing their basic assumption. They are not challenging the basic idea that reasoning is for individual purposes. The premise is that reasoning should help us make better decisions, get at better beliefs. And if you start from this premise, then it follows that reasoning should help us deal with logical problems and it should help us understand statistics. But reasoning doesn't do all these things, or it does all these things very, very poorly.

But for some reason, psychologists are unable to challenge this basic premise that reasoning really is supposed to help us. And that's why Dan Sperber came up with the idea that reasoning doesn't have this function of helping us get better beliefs and make better decisions. Instead, reasoning is for argumentation. Dan's basic idea is that the function of reasoning, the reason it evolved, is to help us convince other people and to evaluate their arguments.

What this fellow did is conduct a hack against pompous insularity. Take a turd, disguise it with some food colouring, put it on their plate when they aren't looking, then watch the gobble it up while the pound the table exclaiming "We don't eat turd!"

What you end up demonstrating is that they distinguish turd from non-turd mainly by social optics, and not by its sensory quality.

Always the rule with those engaged in pompous insularity is that no outsider has standing to challenge their practices unless first vetted by the gatekeepers of the pompous insularity itself.

In order to achieve this, you'll have to master the extremely arduous standards of the profession (prestige barriers are usually high) in the pursuit of an outcome (deflating the eminent within that profession) that will have you black-listed from any form of employment where you could ever hope to receive a personal gain in exercise of the mastery you slaved to achieve. And then the gate keepers mock you when you say "thanks, but no thanks".

It's so much easier to sneak a poop pie onto the buffet table and watch them eat it smacking their lips.

It's the same deal with a packet filter in network security: hard crunchy outside, soft chewy inside. The professional walls are exceedingly hard to breach, but the defences inside those walls (which involve hard intellectual work to sustain) have long since gone to the dogs, yet they behave externally as if their house is in perfect order. This is an eternal story.

What it comes down to is whether one regards this kind of hack, which begins with a small deception, as a valid form of whistleblowing.

Comment booster-spice rat race (Score 1) 518

What problems? You seem to think that there's some "immoral" reason against the sale of organs. But we have here an example where something which is supposedly moral "kills" a lot of people each year through organ shortages.


If there's an express train to human dystopia, it's a booster-spice rat race, with the fittest undead gaining semi-permanent tenure in every elite economic and political station.

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