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Comment Re:Newsflash (Score 1) 519

disproving bullshit is a waste of time because nobody is meant to believe it.

Okay, but why does it continue to work so well? I think lots of people do believe it, or believe it "might" be true. I run into the believers and semi-believers often when I'm otherwise happily commenting around the internet. As a typical example consider this comment ranked 5 from Anonymous Coward:

Newsflash - the intelligence agencies of the United States have a documented history of breaking the law.

Any claims based on the assertion that they behave lawfully is flawed and not to be considered credible.

This style of thinking - and there's a lot of it - allows any layman to use a chain of reasoning like this: "so what if Trump's a bullshit artist? So is everyone else, therefore we can't tell who's right, therefore Trump may be right and I'm going to continue to stand by him."

Such arguments help establish the Russian model of propaganda in the U.S. Now, while the tactic of sewing doubt about what's true and false is well known as a Russian strategy ("therefore Putin may be right and I'm going to continue to stand by him"), I think in the U.S. the dominant cause is that the conservative media waged a war on the credibility of the mainstream media and won - as described by this conservative publication.

Comment Re:My fears (Score 1) 1592

Huh? Who marked this 'troll'? It's a reasonable post and honest opinion.

While indications are that a large proportion of LEAVErs are just suffering from an anti-immigrant fervor, there are also real and substantial flaws in how the EU is set up. 'Course, there are also real and substantial flaws in how the UK is set up (first-past-the-post elections, anyone?)... sigh.

Comment Re:Give the option (Score 1) 348

Backspace is a "back" key?! Honestly, all these years I've been using the IE shortcut Alt+Left. Guess this explains why occasionally the browser mysteriously leaves a page I was typing on. I have one of those laptop touchpads that randomly click while you're trying to type so ... accidental clicks plus backspace is a dangerous thing.

Comment Re:As long as the weather gets more pleasant in mo (Score 1) 345

I always thought it was dumb that certain Canadian politicians would talk about global warming as though it were a bad thing for Canada. Huh? I like warmer weather - in Canada.

But now I've moved to the Philippines. We recently had a high of 37 degrees in the shade - the temperature when fans stop cooling you and start warming you up. And the thing is, most people in this town can't afford air conditioning. Many of them don't have electricity. And among those with AC and electricity, some of them have to work outdoors in the daytime.

That's why we need to reduce GHG emissions. Not for the Canada or the U.S. - well, maybe for Florida, a little. But mostly it's for low-lying islands that will be flooded, for people that already live with weather that is too hot, and since global warming is not uniform, for certain other victims that have yet to be identified.

But yes, let's stop global warming. It's the right thing to do, and that should be enough.

Comment Error In Title: it's not simply "unfair rules" (Score 5, Informative) 309

Lessig didn't drop out because the debate rules were "unfair". He dropped out because the DNC changed the debate rules midstream in a way that would exclude Lessig from the debates. His campaign worked hard to meet the requirement to participate in the second debate, at which point they changed the rules to exclude again.

Note that he raised more money than Webb and Chafee, who were allowed in the first debate; and if his name hadn't been excluded from polls, it's even conceivable he would have been allowed into the first debate.

Comment Re:Correction - WEB SITE IS BUGGY (Score 1) 278

On the web site, if I click (under Ideology) "Safe to eat foods grown with pesticides" and then "Humans and other living things have evolved over time", the percentages shown for the latter will match the former (31-27-25-68%). If I click "The earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity" and then "Humans and other living things have evolved over time" once again I see the statistics associated with the former (29-56-76-87%).

Perhaps the OP wrote incorrect figures due to this bug in the web site?

Comment Re:Lojban (Score 1) 626

No. Lojban is not designed to be a normal human language. It is intended to be syntactically unambiguous, but it is not designed to be easy to learn, or a substitute for other human languages, or even necessarily compatible with how the human brain works. As far as I've been able to tell, it is mainly an aphrodisiac to help logicians masturbate.

Comment Re:QWERTY vs. Dvorak (Score 1) 626

You're partially right - while Dvorak is unequivocally better than Qwerty, it's not really "better enough" to justify learning in a world covered in Qwerty keyboards. However there are other designs, most notably Colemak, which are better contenders. Colemak is slightly superior to Dvorak while simultaneously being designed to fit into a Qwerty world. Because Colemak is somewhat similar to Qwerty, it's easier to learn for Qwerty users, and it's easier to switch between Colemak and Qwerty when you have to. Oh and Qwerty isn't random, either. Many of the most common letters are on the top row and many of the least common letters are on the bottom row. It is no coincidence that the word "typewriter" consists only of letters on the top row. Not. Random. "ABC"s keyboards ARE effectively random, since the alphabetic order is nearly random and unrelated to keyboard design. The ABC keyboards I've seen are substantially LESS efficient than Qwerty.

Redundancy does not require irregularity. Zamenhof didn't put enough value on redundancy and created similar forms like sep & sek, mi & ni, kiel/kie/kia/kiam (in which only an unstressed syllable differs). Such problems can be avoided without making the language irregular.

Throughout history, language has been molded and folded by war and conquest, clashes & meetings between different cultures, and by games played staying off boredom while working in the fields. Many, many people on this thread are giving ignorant and simplistic views, assuming that there are simple and/or sensible reasons for the irregularities and other features of their language, assuming that language will evolve in modern civilization the same way it did before the year 1800, assuming that a planned language automatically has all the same properties as "natural" languages, etc. All your assumptions are nonsense, folks. We won't actually know how well a planned inter-language will work in practice, or how it will evolve, until we put one into practice. Why are people so eager to put down ideas they've never seen in action?

Comment I could maybe help you design a language. (Score 1) 626

How to replace English? What an audacious question; English is fantastically well established. I think what we need to figure out first is how to make a constructed language succeed. As you can see from many of the comments here, that's really hard for one simple reason: most people don't believe one can succeed, not even geeks. Nor do very many people get excited about the prospect of replacing English. I think many people don't even want one to succeed. And when it comes to something like language, whose success is built upon network effects, that's a huge problem. (Also a problem is all the preconceived notions people have about language, like "all languages must be [highly] irregular" or "interlanguages can't succeed because they don't evolve" or "constructed languages can't be easy to learn because any popularity will cause them to instantly devolve into a mess like English" or "English is easy, so we don't need a constructed language" or "I don't like constructed languages because they are devoid of culture and soul" or "Different languages do not take different lengths of time to learn" or "Picking up a language that no one actually speaks is difficult, since it has no purpose." There is just so much BS to push against!)

For a little while I started designing a language tentatively called Lengwish, the idea of which was to be an interlanguage for the Americas, that would use English and Spanish, and French and Portuguese to a lesser extent, as vocabulary sources, with other languages used in cases when the available vocabulary from these languages doesn't work well enough to due ambiguity or other issues. (Why "for the Americas"? Simple, it's just that I've studied Spanish for five years and would like to learn French.) I planned four purposes for it to serve:
  1. 1. To teach the basic grammar and vocabulary of English or Spanish. Learning a natural language is very hard work, especially at the beginning when you have no hope of being fluent until years later. In contrast, you can be fluent in Lengwish in less than a year. That means it's more fun, because you can feel yourself making progress quickly. Since its vocabulary is derived mainly from English and Spanish, it's a useful "stepping stone", especially for those that don't speak any European languages, to help learn one of the languages of the Americas. Since English is more popular than Spanish, the most common words tend to be derived from English rather than Spanish. In rare cases, a word is taken from other sources (Mandarin, Novial) when there is no simple English or Spanish word for a simple concept.

    Lengwish is designed to be very software-friendly, so that automated tools can help you learn it, through underlining of errors, instant translations, and "syntax highlighting".
  2. 2. To learn to learn languages. It is fairly well-known that a person can learn a third language more quickly if they already learned a second language, even if the second and third languages are not related to each other. Learning Lengwish can teach you some of the skills you will use to learn other languages, such as understanding grammar, and the ability to translate meaning rather than word-for-word.
  3. 3. To be a translation medium. Unlike English, Spanish or any other language with two thousand years of complicated baggage, Lengwish is clear and relatively unambiguous. There are thousands of English words and phrases that have more than one meaning. Consider this: what does the English term "free software" mean? "free" has two meanings, "free as in freedom" or "given without a charge" ("charge" itself has several meanings, but in this case I'm talking about a price or a fee). In some technical circles, "free software" specifically refers to "free as in freedom": freedom to see the source code, freedom to redistribute, freedom to modify; free software can be obtained "for free", but freedom is just as important. "freeware", in contrast, is software offered without a charge; it is not free-as-in-freedom, and often includes unwanted extras like advertising or "crapware". However, a layperson may not realize that there is a difference, and think that "free" just means "gratis".

    There are several reasons why languages are hard to translate, but the single biggest reason is that so many words have multiple meanings. Because Lengwish is clear and relatively unambiguous, it is much, much easier to translate automatically. When completed, Lengwish will be an excellent language for writing documents in multiple languages at once: just write your document in Lengwish and a computer will translate it to other languages with much higher reliability than if you had written it in English (perfection is impossible, but we can come close). Also, translation can be done instantly offline, for free, no need for a commercial tool or an online tool like Google Translate.
  4. 4. To be an interlanguage for international communication. This, of course, is the purpose for which languages like Esperanto were designed, but it's extremely hard to convince anyone to adopt an interlanguage for altruistic reasons, which is why this goal is listed last. Most likely, Lengwish can only succeed as an international language if it first succeeds for some other purpose. When I tell people about Esperanto, their first question is "where is it spoken?" Since Lengwish is so easy to learn, if any country decided to teach Lengwish to all its schoolchildren, this question for Lengwish would quickly have an answer, and I'm convinced that this would allow it to spread all over the world, as people would quickly see its value for overcoming the language barriers. However, for now it's hard to imagine politicians anywhere that would have the courage to suggest Lengwish as even an optional course.

    For now, those who find Pig Latin to be too obvious can enjoy using Lengwish as as a "secret language"--speak it with your friends, baffle your enemies.

I haven't gotten very far with the design yet - it's pretty challenging to have an easy-to-learn phonetic spelling system that doesn't completely mangle either the spelling or the pronounciation of most of the source English words.

Anyway, because of the "network effects" problem, I think it's crucial to design a language that offers value to people even if no one else speaks the language. That's why I've been thinking about features like reliable automated translation (note that the language must be specifically designed to translate easily to a small number of specific other languages, in order to make accurate translation practical in a small open-source effort). Similarly, using English vocabulary is attractive if it means the language can be marketed as a stepping stone to learn English.

You know that there are many interlanguage designs already, right? Before designing a whole language from scratch, you should take some time to make sure that the kind of language you want hasn't already been designed, and in any case you should study what has been done before. (I've been meaning to do more of this myself!)

It's kind of weird that the link to 'Loren Chorley' is broken but anyway, I might like to join a group that is designing a language, in order to help keep the design software-friendly, to write programs to be used during the design process (e.g. a dictionary manager to help manage vocabulary and detect conflicts), and if all goes well, to write programs to help people learn the language (interactive lessons, syntax highlighter, grammar checker, etc.) You can find my email on the bottom of the front page of

Comment Three easy methods (Score 1) 1081

What's the big deal here?

I believe that those suffering from a terminal illness should be allowed to apply for assisted suicide or euthanasia, and clearly whatever patients ordinarily choose for this purpose would be equally appropriate for condemned killers.
  • - Morphine.
  • - An overdose of what Micheal Jackson was using (propofol). Remember that he used this stuff frequently simply to go to sleep at night.
  • - Carbon monoxide: a gas famous for the fact that victims often aren't even aware of it.

Comment Re:Too late (Score 1) 235

Nuclear power has benefited from the near bottomless source of government funds that is called "dual use technology". [. . .] They all pursued civilian nuclear power as a pretext for starting a nuclear weapons program. [. . .] that's why everyone assumes Iran is lying.

Yes, that's why everyone assumes Iran is lying, but I know Iran is lying for a different reason: because some of the best nuclear technologies ever conceived, such as the LFTR, do not require (significant quantities of) highly enriched uranium. If Iran wants a nuclear energy program, it would make perfect sense to choose one of the "non-proliferation" technologies. Why risk conflict with the U.S. by having a large enrichment program? Only one reason I can think of: they want the Bomb.

Comment Re:It's too slow. (Score 1) 254

C#'s speed depends on the coding style than on the language. If you know what you're doing, Microsoft .NET gets within 2x of C++ speed most of the time. Mono is substantially worse (have a look at these benchmarks, which focus on simple programs that are written in a "C with classes" style.) If you are using features like LINQ (considered a "must-have" C# feature) you'll take a performance hit, but when you write C# code as if it were C code then its performance isn't far from C. Luckily you don't have to write the whole program so carefully, just the parts that have to be fast.

Games aren't just concerned with what is traditionally thought of as "speed", namely throughput; games are also concerned with latency. C# is based on Garbage Collection, and GC tends to add more latency than deterministic memory management (C/C++). Since writing games largely in GC languages is now a very common thing (e.g. Java on Android), I'm sure articles have been written about how to avoid getting bitten by the GC, but I don't have an article handy to show you.

I doubt the OP wants to write a graphics engine in C#. I'm no game dev so I won't suggest an engine, but the point is, the most sensitive part of game performance tends to be in the area of graphics, and you probably can use a C# wrapper of a C++-based graphics engine, so that the overall performance of the game doesn't depend that much on the performance of the .NET CLR (but performance may be sensitive to native interop costs, which are not insignificant. Interop benchmarks are included in the link above.)

Comment Re:First Rule of secure coding. (Score 1) 51

I would think that the first rule of secure coding is "leave it to the experts". For instance I've been following the mailing list of Rust. Now the folks making Rust are smart, but they say they won't have any cryptography in the standard library in the near future because they are not confident in their abilities to do crypto correctly. Because it's very easy to inadvertently leave a weakness in your crypto code, even if you're trying to implement a documented standard.

So the first rule: don't do crypto yourself. But of course, given a crypto library written by experts, you have to find a way to use it. So the second rule: be very careful how you use it. Learn the basics of crypto, like the importance of key lengths and salts; the difference between symmetric and asymmetric crypto; learn about some of the attacks that are used (MITM, known plaintext attack, phishing, fuzzing, there are many); consider integrating a password strength meter...

Because just because you yourself couldn't get in without proper authorization, doesn't mean an experienced cracker can't get in.

Comment Re:Unfortunate realities (Score 1) 309

There is no reason that a single /language/ could not support efficient hardware manipulation and also run in a sandbox (with C-like efficiency). If you're writing an OS kernel or /directly/ manipulating hardware then it will not run inside the sandbox, but that doesn't mean the same programming language could not be used for both. NaCl has demonstrated this already, since you can run C code in a sandbox in a web browser and you can also write a kernel in C.

But C/C++ are difficult to use (I'm sorry, "challenging"), error-prone and crufty. Luckily it is possible to have high performance, memory safety, ease-of-use and pretty much everything else you might want in a single language. A subset of that language could be used for systems programming, and the "full" language could be used for everything else. AFAIK there is no single language that has everything today (high performance, scriptable, memory-efficient, scalable, easy to learn and use...), but there are pretty good languages like D, Julia and Nimrod that combine a ton of good things, and some of these languages (D, Rust) can be used for systems programming. So far there isn't one "perfect" language that I can point to that would be great for kernels and scripting and web apps and server apps, but I can certainly imagine such a language. Until we nail down what an ideal language looks like, why not build a VM that can run the wide variety of new languages that being created, something that works equally well for web pages and offline apps? Why, in other words, should only Google and Mozilla be in charge of the set of languages that run in a browser?

If Microsoft had done everything right, we'd probably still be locked into proprietary MS Windows. Their mistakes in the short term will probably lead to a healthy heterogeneous ecosystem in the long term... but in the short term, I am disappointed by browsers (why do you force me to use JS?) and with Android/iOS which were not really intended to compete with Windows in the first place).

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