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Comment Can we just get rid of it? (Score 2) 71

The only bias I see is that for some reason, Facebook seems to think I'm in any way interested in celebrity gossip, because that's about all that ever shows up in the "Trending" section for me.

I'm interested in science and technology, but every "trending" topic I seem to see is something about what Britney Spears ate for breakfast, or whose dress Catelyn Jenner wore to the mall, or some other equally banal and useless piece of "news" about some celebrity that I don't give a crap about.

I'm not even exaggerating. My current "trending" topics include:

  • - What's coming up on Netflix next month (US Netflix, that is. I'm Canadian and watch Canadian Netflix, and we don't get the same new movies the US does, so it's even more useless)
  • - "Go topless day"
  • - Some sort of conspiracy theory about Herman Cain and Epi Pens
  • - Some nonsense about whether or not some pastor endorsed Donald Trump or not
  • - Something about some guy I've never heard of who got roasted by Twitter due to his hairstyle
  • - Five reasons to see some movie I've never heard of
  • - The 77th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz
  • - Something about Britney Spears doing karaoke

As you can see, my "trending" doesn't have a Liberal or Conservative slant -- it just has a inanely stupid slant.

"Trending" is the least useful part of Facebook, and personally I wish they'd just get rid of it altogether.

Yaz

Comment Re:If they're going to do this... (Score 3, Interesting) 171

Interesting (to me): One of the side-effects of my Universal Social Security proposal is excess demand--a labor shortage. The fix is re-defining full-time working hours as 26-32 hours per week, meaning everyone gets dropped to 4-day work weeks. This happens because it's a trillion dollars cheaper than current strategy.

In theory, with or without salary adjustment, dropping everyone's work time by 20% decreases their share of labor pay. That is to say: to make 1,000 things takes 4 people, or it takes 5 people each working 80% as much. As long as your entire economy changes at this ratio and wages don't change relative to each other (they can increase, decrease, or stay the same, but all by the same percentage), whatever salary you end up with is suddenly only capable of buying 80% as much.

In practice, I'm pretty sure we have a lot of part-time workers (I've looked this up before) and a lot of slack time. On one hand, part-time workers would experience no change, so neither their income nor the influence they have on price would change: the stuff they make wouldn't become any more expensive. On the other, many people would work the same amount and spend their work slack-time as leisure-in-earnest instead of non-productive office hours: instead of being restricted by the facade of office hours, you'd be outside work enjoying the time you're spending doing nothing useful.

That's actually a bigger problem. It means cutting hours without a salary cut raises the price of certain goods for part-time workers, but not for office workers; while cutting hours with a salary cut raises the price of certain goods for full-time workers, but not part-timers. The first case is regressive onto the poorer, and benefits the middle-classes; the second is harder on the middle-classes, and doesn't directly-benefit the poor. The second case is arguably better, since cutting working time in this way definitely cuts buying power in total, so someone has to get poorer, and you've restricted how much that happens and to who; but it has obvious undesirable issues.

On the other hand, the end result would probably be about break-even for the middle classes in total (when you include the Universal Social Security benefit), plus a 3-day weekend every week, so ... eh?

Comment Re:Less Power For You (Score 1) 150

Doing more with less is how technology works; and technology comes with discovery, not mandate.

Natural gas burned in power plants and transmitted as electricity produces much more light out of LED lamps than natural gas piped to gas lamps. They couldn't just up and switch to electricity and LED lamps 50 years before Edison and Westinghouse, even if the Government told them they had a week to figure out how to produce more ten times light with half as much gas.

(The chief effect of all this is less labor: you use 5% as much gas to run lights, that means 5% as many human labor-hours invested in running lights, and that proportion of society--not those particular people, but the constant inflow of people becoming working-age adults to replace the retiring seniors, at least at least--can now become doctors and engineers, since we don't need them mining for gas. Again: you can't just dictate there shall be more doctors and fewer farmers, and the halved farm workforce shall work to produce twice the food output at half the price; it won't work.)

Comment Re:Laissez Faire Capitalist Here... (Score 1) 203

Direct government control isn't required. The good capitalist solution is not that different to the socialist solution: make homeowners own the last mile (fibre from your house to the cabinet is yours, though you may jointly own some shared trunking with your neighbours). The connections from the cabinets should be owned by public interest companies, with the shares owned by the homeowners. Providing Internet connectivity to the network would be something that you'd open to tender by any companies (for-profit or non-profit) that wanted to provide it.

The situation in most of the USA is that it's been done using the worst possible mixture of laissez-fair capitalism and central planning. Vast amounts of taxpayer money have been poured into the infrastructure, yet that infrastructure is owned by a few companies and they have geographical monopolies and are now owned by their customers, so have no incentive to improve it. Oh, and regulator capture means that it's actually illegal to fix the problem in a lot of places. You can provide an incentive in several ways:

  • Tax penalties or fines for companies that don't improve their infrastructure. Big government hammer, and very difficult to enforce usefully.
  • Try to align the ownership of the companies with their customers. Companies have to do what their shareholders want and if their shareholders want them to upgrade the network because they're getting crap service then they will.
  • Ensure that there's real competition. This is difficult because it's hard to provide any useful differentiation between providers of a big dumb pipe and the cost for new entrants into the market is very high.

Comment Re:BS (Score 1) 166

Android and iOS have very different philosophies. Android devices aim to be general-purpose computer, iOS devices aim to be extensions to a general-purpose computer. I have an Android tablet and an iPad, and I find I get a lot more use from the iPad because it doesn't try to replace my computer. There's a bunch of stuff that I can do on the Android tablet that I can't do on the iPad, but all of it is stuff that I'd be better off doing on my laptop anyway (with the one exception of an IRC client that doesn't disconnect when I switch to a different window). I still use Android for my phone, because OSMAnd~ (offline maps, offline routing, open source, and good map data) is the killer app for a smartphone for me and the iOS port is far less good.

Comment Re: The anti-science sure is odd. (Score 1) 676

Alas, it's a shame that it doesn't mean anything. The point here is that the Earth has undergone many shifts in its climate, sometimes in a startlingly short period of time

Except that the difference in temperature between the peak of the Medieval Warm Period and the bottom of the Little Ice Age were significantly smaller than the difference between the current temperature and the bottom of the Little Ice Age. The last time we saw an increase in temperature equivalent to the last 200 years it was over a period of tens of thousands of years.

Go and read a news story about an area of science that you know about and compare it to what the original research actually claimed. Now realise that press reports about climate change are no more accurate than that and go and read some of the papers. The models have been consistently refined for the last century, but the predictions are refinements (typically about specific local conditions and timescales), not complete reversals. Each year, there are more measurements that provide more evidence to support the core parts of the models.

Oh, and I don't think the words objectivist or dualistic mean what you think they mean. You can't discard evidence simply by throwing random words into a discussion.

Comment Re:Standard protocol (Score 2) 102

Considering that the entire selling point behind Signal is that it's supposed to be resistant to "an adversary like the NSA," I would think their ability to trivially associate a key with a real person would kind of turn that on its head.

Any global passive adversary can do traffic analysis on any communication network. Signal's message encryption should stand up against the NSA unless there are any vulnerabilities in the implementation that the NSA has found and not told anyone about or unless they have some magical decryption power that we don't know about (unlikely). Protection of metadata is much harder. If you connect to the Signal server and they can watch your network traffic and that of other Signal users, then they can infer who you are talking to. If they can send men with lawyers, guns, or money around to OWS then they can coerce them into recording when your client connects and from what IP, even without this.

In contrast, Tox uses a DHT, which makes some kinds of interception easier and others harder. There's no central repository mapping between Tox IDs and other identifiable information, but when you push anything to the DHT that's signed with your public key then it identifies your endpoint so a global passive adversary can use this to track you (Tox over Tor, in theory, protects you against this, but in practice there are so few people doing this that it's probably trivial to track).

No system is completely secure, but my personal thread model doesn't include the NSA taking an active interest in me - if they did that then there are probably a few hundred bugs in the operating systems and other programs that I use that they could exploit to compromise the endpoint, without bothering to attack the protocol. I'd like to be relatively secure against bulk data collection though - I don't want any intelligence or law enforcement agency to be able intercept communications unless at least one participant is actively under suspicion, because if you allow that you end up with something like Hoover's FBI or the Stazi..

Comment Re:Luddites, beware! (Score 2) 60

Currently, lorry drivers have to take statutory breaks. In the EU, they can only drive for 4.5 hours before having to take a 45-minute break. They can also only drive 9 hours per day. If you have a self-driving lorry that's only good enough for motorways (predictable traffic, well-marked lanes) and the driver can be out of the driving seat resting (even sleeping) then the vehicle can drive itself for 20 hours a day and the driver can be a passenger except when it approaches built-up areas. That would dramatically reduce the number of drivers that you'd need for a haulage fleet.

Comment Re:Standard protocol (Score 2) 102

Signal is probably secure, but all communication goes via OpenWhisperSystems' servers, as does registration (which ties your identity to your account). They can't be forced to MITM your connections (probably - unless someone finds a vulnerability in the protocol), but they can unilaterally delete your account and they can be coerced into doing so. In contrast, Tox is completely decentralised (no central servers, it's a pure peer-to-peer network). Your identity is just a public key, so the only people who can identify you on the network are people that you have told your public key to through some out-of-band mechanism (or people who can view enough of the network that they can associate a public key with something else - i.e. an adversary like the NSA).

Comment Re: The anti-science sure is odd. (Score 2) 676

It's why we had a change in language from global warming to climate change

We had the change from global warming to climate change because idiots kept ignoring the 'global' part and saying things like 'this summer is rubbish, so much for global warming!'. The weather is a complex chaotic system. Global warming means that the total amount of energy in this system is increasing. This is very simple to understand - more energy is arriving from the Sun than is being radiated into space, by quite a large amount. This is trivially measurable by pointing an infrared camera at the night side of the Earth from space (which NASA does).

The effects of this are more difficult to communicate, because they're not the same everywhere. Adding more energy to the air and water in the middle of the Atlantic, for example, is likely to cause more hurricanes to form, but it may also disrupt the gulf stream and lead to significantly colder weather for a lot of places.

In the 1600s the Thames used to freeze over so that you could safely walk from one side to the other

You mean right at the height of the Little Ice Age?

If that were to happen now climate 'scientists' would be up in arms.

If it were to happen now, then it would not be part of a prolonged cooling trend that had been going on for around 200 years at that point and was just reaching its peak, before starting to warm again. The global temperature then passed the peak of the previous warm period (the Medieval Warm Period) in the last century and kept climbing. But you knew all of that, right?

Comment Re:Surprise? (Score 3, Interesting) 102

Yes, probably a lot of people. Before it was purchased, WhatsApp had a very strong privacy guarantee and made a marketing point of the fact that their protocol's end-to-end encryption meant that they couldn't spy on you even if they wanted to. When Facebook bought them, they announced that there would be no changes to this guarantee.

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