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Comment Re:This reminds me of the nuclear boy scout story. (Score 2) 145

The moral of the story is that even a stupid human being can be pretty smart. Particularly a sufficiently motivated stupid person.

That's an odd thing to say, since stupid is the antonym of smart. I think what you meant to say is:

The moral of the story is that even a foolish human being can be pretty smart. Particularly a sufficiently-motivated fool.

Foolishness is the opposite of wisdom, and the foolish/wise axis is roughly orthogonal to the stupid/smart axis.

Of course it also helps that intelligence comes in different flavors. Some people are good at spatial reasoning, others are good at verbal reasoning. But we often overlook social reasoning because it's not part of the traditional IQ tests. I think another reason that Social IQ testing hasn't caught on is that there is good reason to believe that social reasoning ability isn't fixed. Changes in attitude can strongly impair or enhance an individual's ability to process social information.

I don't think this has anything to do with social intelligence. It's perfectly possible to have high intelligence across every category, including social intelligence, and still be foolish. Wisdom/foolishness is in how you think about things more than in how your are able to think about things. Wise people consider the consequences of their actions carefully. I'm sure this guy was fully capable of thinking through what would happen if he got caught... he just didn't bother to do it.

Comment It's the explanations. Start with examples (Score 1) 326

> I'm not sure if the problem is me or the explainers.

I'm fairly sure it's the explanations, which tend to mathematically define them, rather than showing what the heck they are are what they are good for.

I noticed that the other day looking for good explanations of the normal forms in relational databases (sql). Most of the explanations I found were crap. Rigorously correct, and entirely useless to someone who doesn't already fully understand them.

My kid is two. When I wanted her to know what a "horse" is, I didn't start with a rigourous, formal definition of "horse" as distinct from all other species. I showed her a horse, so she could see what it is, then I showed her someone riding a horse, so she can see how it's used. I wish more comp sci people had basic competence in explaining or teaching.

Comment Re:I like functions... (Score 1) 326

Yes, it means your functions aren't allowed to have side effects (i.e., all parameters are passed by value and the only result is the value returned to the caller).

It's quite a bit more than that, at least if you're talking about pure functional programming. You also have to get rid of most all of your old notions of flow control. Imperative programming is about defining sequences of steps, some of which are conditional. Functional programming is all done with nested transformations; there are no sequential steps, there are no branches, there is no iteration.

If this sounds freakish and impossible to someone raised on imperative programming paradigms... yes, it is. Functional programming requires thinking in an entirely new way. It's a very powerful tool. I'm not sure it's the best tool for the systems I build (though I'm also not sure it isn't), but at a minimum it's a useful way to think about code construction. Every programmer should spend some time learning it.

Comment Re:"Like"? (Score 2) 326

I don't get what you mean by "like".

Procedures are procedures, period.

Indeed they are. And purely functional programming languages don't have procedures.

The grafting of functional programming constructs onto imperative languages is interesting and useful, but every programmer should spend some time learning to program in a purely functional style, even if they then go back to imperative languages for their everyday work. It opens up a whole new way of thinking about code.

Comment Re:It has its uses (Score 1) 326

There's two big things that have come out of the recent move towards more functional programming which are really important.

You missed the biggest one: Eliminating mutable state makes code inherently safe for concurrency. Not an inconsiderable issue, since the direction of hardware progress seems to be towards ever more cores.

Of course, pure functional programming eliminates mutable state by creating massive numbers of copies. Actual functional programming languages (e.g. Haskell) are quite clever about optimizing out nearly all of those copies, but the result of that is that the generated code has mutable state. Still, this may very well be the best way forward... automatic parallelization of imperative code is very hard. It may well be that it's easier to automatically decide how to split work up by analyzing data copying, and then apply copy optimization to each thread.

Comment Re: Systemd! (Score 1) 321

systemd is resource control, which it does a hell of a lot better than any of the alternatives

I am not aware of an advantage there. In what way? It's not a challenge I just want to see what is so good that it's got you are advocating it so strongly.

Personally I've had some very bad experiences with people setting up machines that wouldn't boot and services that wouldn't run but as far as the logs indicated they were (so it's not just me to blame in a kneejerk reaction here). We keep on telling people that linux is reliable and having to go in an fix things that won't even start up is not a good look, I haven't seen so many problems like that since before 2000. Having to tell someone "unplug the mouse and plug it in after you see the login screen and it won't hang forever" sounds really unprofessional, so that machine was rolled back to an earlier OS.

Comment Re:El nino would cool Great Barrier (Score 1) 83

Indeed, and keep that system discovered over a century ago in mind when science deniers keep on telling you that climate science is "new".
However, the reef is in shallow water and blocks a lot of water flow so local air temperature drives the local water temperature more than currents, so other stuff matters more.

Comment Re:Finally (Score 1) 321

it is far superior to what was before otherwise it wouldn't have been adopted

You should be old enough to know about office politics. Office politics at RedHat is how this happened and not the superiority of the solution to the "problem" that all the init software was not under the control of a single person.

Comment Re:Now that is a ridiculous example (Score 1) 152

So you concede that your example is utterly ridiculous?
Then stop fucking using it to pretend that something is useless unless it meets that unrealistic benchmark or you will be taken to task for the doubt you are spreading by cranky old bastards like me.
If you can't push an agenda without deception then perhaps you should only push it on political sites where that sort of underhanded shit is expected.

Comment Re:What's changed? (Score 3, Interesting) 247

On the internet, short of blocking them on social media, you are confronted with them constantly.

Actually, I think it's the ability to block (or just de-friend) that creates the biggest part of the problem. It creates echo chamber effects, which help ideas morph into their most virulent and effective forms, especially ideas that demonize the holders of opposing ideas -- which, from a memetic evolutionary perspective are really cooperating ideas, not competing at all.

A good, though somewhat annoyingly dumbed down, explanation of this process and effect is this youtube video. If you haven't watched it, you really should -- and then think about the ideas that you hold and consider the possibility that they have evolved specifically to push your hot buttons in the most effective way possible, and how you can counter that.

Comment Re:What could possibly go wrong? (Score 1) 83

Perhaps: Well the ocean temperature dropped enough, but turns out the local increase in salinity due to the cloud whitening machine spraying salt in to the air has killed off the entire Great Barrier Reef. Oops.

It should be trivial to calculate the potential salinity increase. Do you really think environmental scientists trying to protect the reef won't bother to check that?

Comment Re:DRONE ON (Score 1) 254

So working to reduce our waste volume is the only realistic plan.

Not the only one. Another is to learn how to engineer the climate. Actually, in the long run that will be necessary anyway, because the Earth's climate has significant natural variation, enough that for most of the planet's life-bearing history it's had a climate that we wouldn't like very much. There's also evidence from both Greenland and Antarctic ice core records that the planet occasionally undergoes very rapid spontaneous (i.e. not driven by obvious causes like large volcanic event) climate changes -- faster than the current anthropogenic change. We need to learn how to manage the climate.

Reducing our "accidental" impact will make the job of engineering appropriate deliberate impacts easier, of course.

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