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Comment WMC is an underused term (Score 1) 401

The "jump the shark" moment for "WMD" was when the surviving Boston bomber was charged with using a WMD.

His improvised kitchen device should have been termed a weapon of mass carnage. Note how the official term focuses more on loss of structure than on human life.

Why the present example jumps the shark is that while global warming might be a supreme menace, it has not yet to my knowledge been successfully weaponized.

In this case, we're really dealing with an Apocalyptic Horseman of Mass Resettlement, if there's a need to be operatic.

Comment Is Slashdot worth saving? (Score 1) 293

Slashdot NOT worth saving:

Overall, the authors found that the relationship between sadism and trolling was the strongest, and that indeed, sadists appear to troll because they find it pleasurable.

Slashdot worth saving:

Overall, the authors found that the relationship between sadism and avowed trolling was the strongest, and that indeed, sadists appear to troll because they find it pleasurable.

The former is news for gorms; the later is news for nerds. We can't fix this protesting CSS.

Comment the opposite of trolling is cooking from scratch (Score 1) 293

If you post about your political beliefs (honestly held)

In a forum where you're reluctant to post your favourite sexual position (honesty held) why would you regard it as open season to post your political position (honesty held)?

There's a way to engage with most issues without dragging in this or that ideological apparatus. The same applies to the political sub-genre known as organized religion. Evangelism is the most political act known to man. Religion itself is not necessarily political, but it quickly becomes political where people feel the need to make others aware that these convictions exist.

Part of the problem is that people fall into the habit of using their worldview as the starting point for every engagement. The same old argument gets a new suit of clothes to suit the occasion. This doesn't take a great deal of cognitive effort.

It's a lot more cognitive work to write bottom up, starting with the issue first of all, then pointing out, perhaps, where it fits into various frames of reference.

This is the cognitive effort of actually engagement.

One of the appeals of grabbing two cans of coloured paint and a flap of cloth and declaring in a loud voice "I am a Springbok" is to put the effort of espousing your worldview on cruise control, while those around you who don't run up equal and opposite colours are left to cook every meal from scratch.

As Mark Twain once said, never contest your identity in a shouting match with people who source their sesame-seed identity buns from McDonald's: everywhere you go, five minutes later, there's more of the same.

No, the opposite of trolling is not merely conviction, it's honest conviction plus cooking from scratch.

Comment 20/20 hindsight is the island of the damned (Score 1) 236

Should Target have protected themselves better? Probably. But hindsight is 20/20.

I strongly suspect this is not a hindsight problem whatsoever. The problem is that long term risks are usually weighted against short term gains: personal bonus clauses/promotions triggered by a run of street-beating financial quarters.

There's also the problem of risk hacking, where management willing trades the possibility of a huge setback against the likelihood of a good run of beating par.

With a long enough track record of success, even the big boom which erases more than your accrued margin over par is all too easily swept away under the hindsight carpet.

The only way to get correct risk trade-offs is where the people making these decisions are stuck on "long term hold" in their reward structure. This usually ends up being the founding entrepreneurs and first round employees who are quietly vesting. While these groups have influence, it's not usually enough to deflect the Venture Capitalist's hand-selected upper management team, hugely incentivised around servicing the VC's priority access to the sell-high exit ramp.

Unless you think Target was an inside job, your appeal to the NSA's woes (self-inflicted for entirely different reasons) falls a little short here.

There is very nearly no defense possible against the insider perfect crime. Of course you can always find some neighbour who describes the fellow as a bit suspicious. These are the same people who believe in the nun bun.

Perhaps the brain scan will be soon invented where this worrisome component of free human will can be exorcised from the system with 20/20 foresight. This won't be a good development for human society, in my humble opinion. 20/20 foresight is the planet of the damned.

The entire ecosystem of credentials is a catastrophe. The correct system is NTSC: never twice the same credential. Then when Target leaks the unique credential upon which your transaction stream is based, it would be conceptually possible to permit class action lawsuits against damages incurred, both direct (cash out of pocket) and indirect (hassle and time).

There would still need to be centralized certificate authorities, but these organizations would have no other business model than getting security right. Suffering a Target breach would amount to an existential threat. Then the NSA becomes the correct standard of comparison.

Comment one word for snow (Score 2) 326

Given a choice, I would far rather people be scientifically literate than English-literate.

This isn't about English literacy, either, unless you think that most people regard "debt" and "deficit" as abstract coinages passed down from Cleopatra's personal mentat.

Here's how the lizard brain encodes language in people with an aspy deficit:

jackpot = pussy
debt/deficit = no pussy
astronomy/astrology = preoccupations of pointy hats who get no pussy

There's simply no need in this model to discriminate words from the second cluster. Here's a truly horrible capsule summary of what we're up against:

Secret Formula For Persuasive Writing Techniques

This is designed to influence exactly the kind of person who fails to conceptually discriminate astronomy from astrology. Advertising is not a universal technique. It's merely a universal technique for the shaking the trees most easily shaken: small cognition, big lizard.

The core element is the appeal which answers "What's in it for me?" and the answer either needs to be "more pussy" or something from the first list of things regarded as being directly associated with more pussy, or the proximity of more pussy, or the vain fantasy of the proximity of more pussy.

The bottom brain works on a system of warm, warmer, warmest. I know of a person who has made at least three trips to China thinking he's going to score himself a docile second wife; he has no clue whatsoever that these Chinese women he meets can decode his demeanour as an OCD control freak by the second interaction—if, in fact, there was any legitimacy to their desire to score a comfortable N.A. lifestyle in the first place. In his own culture, most women decode his personality style in a single glace. In his mind all these women have be ruined by a culture which turns them into snooty princesses. Who knows how much money this guy has poured in this project, where 60 seconds of input from a properly functioning top brain could have informed him that "warmer" amounts to a snowball's chance in hell on day where hell's barometer is falling.

Judging from how long he's had his top brain stored in the garage under a dusty tarpaulin, he long ago gave up on welcoming any input from this part of his brain. Either the input is faulty (unlikely), or it conflicts with his cherished lizard-brain fantasy self-image (likely). He's plenty functional in an ordered environment where he has far fewer options to make his own choices.

The problem with this study is that a large slice of the population—in one or more major spheres of living—fails to curate their "beliefs" into consistent/inconsistent, but merely partitions into warmer and colder, using an internal vocabulary where there's only a single word for snow.

These scientists who conducted this study without comprehension of this are living in a similarly tiny mental closet. s/pussy/p-value This is the lizard brain of successful careers built upon bad science.

Scientific method: Statistical errors

I guess it accords with a cherished lizard-brain fantasy of someday scoring tenure. For three decades, at least, tenure has become practically synonymous with barometer rising. Engaging in this kind of research project is an awfully indirect way to confront their own delusions.

Comment laziness inflation (Score 1) 625

IUT's called not being lazy and getting a second job.

I'm thinking you're descended from Pilgrims wearing extremely black clothes.

Plus I was very unamerican and drove a 15 year old car refusing to buy a new one, and lived in a 800 sq foot home

No, perhaps you're Puerto Rican.

People can afford what is important to them.

Ah, you're Jewish Asian American.

There's research that shows the highest willingness to make this kind of sacrifice for gains far into the future are people who combine elements of status insecurity and class superiority.

I've listened to several highly informed commentators lately who agreed that what it would take to get American schools to the level of the Asian tigers is to put children through hell on earth of cramming 12 hours per day for years on end to pass some standard exam that admits only a privileged few.

Good thing we no longer dangle children down chimneys or mine shafts.

No one thinks the American educational system is perfect at the K12 level (the cream of the American university system is presently unrivalled), but people who dig deep largely report that the problems are economic and social where the gated communities are doing very well, thank you, at what they value most: drama, sports, and cheerleading. This is a different path to success.

I could dig up a dozen such authoritative voices from my notes, but instead I'll simply echo the most recent exchange I've reviewed which discusses this problem:

Ira Glass | Talks at Google

Comment nerd habitat in peril (Score 1) 84

Iconic Predator-Prey Study In Peril

This is not a possible headline on a site that boasts of "news for nerds". The subject of that sentence is "study" and the verb cluster (elided in terse journalistic bravado) is "is now in" and the copular completion is "peril".

A failed study is a study that fails to replicate. A failed meme is a meme that fails to replicate. Perhaps we should also protest ALPHA, our seemingly self-inflicted wound.

Comment the meek shall inherit the worst (Score 1) 108

Most Christians believe in evolution. Even the fundamentalist ones. But only the loud and idiotic get on TV so now we have a christian stereotype.

Where are all the loud Christians— the ones who aren't insane—when it comes time to shout down the anti-scientific bias being introduced into school systems in certain American states?

I'll take what you're saying far more seriously when I see the sober-minded Christians busy shouting down their own who cross the line. I sure as hell shout down scientists who begin to claim more than science can reasonably pretend to know. This particularly stereotype was well and duly earned through meek opposition. The meek shall inherit the worst.

Comment Re:One of the most misunderstood term. CE (Score 1) 108

Metallurgy is 0.004 million years old at most. Now try to imagine how long 10 million years was.

I have a very good idea of the durations in question. Once I read an interview with an accountant who balanced Uncle Sam's accounts by day and her own household accounts in her non-work hours. Her quote: "It's pretty much the same thing, you just shift some zeroes."

A new car is $0.000,000,030 trillion dollars, which puts the recent Wall St. bail-out into good perspective.

You almost seem to be complaining that the use of the word "explosion" is insufficiently anthropomorphic. I find it quite refreshing for once.

Comment it's a feature, not a bug (Score 1) 578

That 9% is pretty used to having reduced access to licensed, live television content as a direct consequence of not paying a subscription for licensed, live television content.

Not only are we used to this: it's a feature, not a bug.

Very little that stems from the IOC is a net constructive influence on human society, although if you're a major urban center looking for a good pretext to cull some undesirables, nothing beats it ... if you can afford the price.

Comment wank wank wank (Score 1) 144

you can see why the idea of a "flying companion" would raise the collective blood pressure of traffic-safety officials

Noooooooooo! The stupidity of manual driver control (are there really people out there this fucking dumb?) would just give them the reason they're seeking anyway to clamp down on a showy and unorthodox public behaviour.

Everyone else, you can boycott the BETA. I'm going to trash the stupidity of the story submission in the vast majority of stories that show up here now. To each his own.

A proper geek knows the difference between one kind of blame masturbation and another. Most of our stories these days are wank wank wank random blame masturbation wank wank wank.

Comment storm drain (Score 3, Interesting) 175

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. — F. Scott Fitzgerald

Stack ranking, meet regression to the mean.

Yes, p accomplishes 1-p (for some p, always) but it's not necessarily the same people in the p pie slice year over year. The Pareto does not state that 20% of the people with account for 80% of the output and will continue to do so, because as we all know 100% of what drives performance is whether you have it, or you don't, end of story.

Sapolsky on Heights And Lengths And Areas Of Rectangles:

The problem with "a" gene-environment interaction is that there is no gene that does something. It only has a particular effect in a particular environment, and to say that a gene has a consistent effect in every environment is really only to say that it has a consistent effect in all the environments in which it has been studied to date. This has become ever more clear in studies of the genetics of behavior, as there has been increasing appreciation of environmental regulation of epigenetics, transcription factors, splicing factors, and so on. And this is most dramatically pertinent to humans, given the extraordinary range of environments—both natural and culturally constructed—in which we live.

What does stack-ranking achieve as a long-term evolutionary pressure? It helps the company accumulate the people who are best at concealing their dips, no matter how the chill winds blow.

Just what you want cultivate, a whole cadre of engineers specializing in meteorology.

There was a different passage about genetics I was trying to find. A population will only retain multiple genetic phenotypes if each of those phenotypes is advantageous in some circumstance or environment. Any phenotype that dominates across the board, in nearly every circumstance, soon extinguishes the competition.

That we have so many phenotypes indicates that human circumstance is extremely fluid.

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