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Comment self-response addendum (Score 2) 326

Penn Jillette on Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, And Why He's All in on Gary Johnson — 2 August 2016

I watched this video yesterday. There a fabulous exchange 24:30–30:00 on truth and naievity.

You go through a period when you're sixteen, seventeen, eighteen when truth really obsesses everybody. And then I think you're supposed to kind of sort of grow out of it. And I didn't. It really remains of complete interest to me. ... I'm not bothered at all by people being wrong. ... I have such a naive point of view, to almost not believing it, that people can have information and represent the opposite of that. I just find that so appalling and, in a certain way, fascinating.

Once upon a time I would have ventured that most Slashdot readers would want to view this. It had me thinking about my own life 1985–1995 where I watched the software industry turning into a train wreck, where every seventh train car is painted bright orange and lettered in an ominous Area 51 black stencil font "patch Tuesday", with sparks flying off wheels seized (and reseized) for so long they resemble lopsided pentagons.

I used to think to myself "surely these are just temporary conditions due to the extreme rate of expansion of the software industry, and it will all settle back down to sanity as we crest the exponential growth phase". But no. Like Jillette, I was a die-hard naievitarian. Lesson learned.

Comment sloth is eternal (Score 1) 326

The default behavior is to treat the field as whatever you've told the spreadsheet that it is. By default, every cell is set up for numeric data types. ... The problem is misuse of tools, not a problem with the tool.

A process of "five whys" applied to the present discussion immediately reveals "default numeric" as bad policy in academic research.

A sane default would be "untyped" or "exactly as entered" which shifts sins of omission into sins of commission, this being far more compatible with the culture and standards of scientific journal publication than what Microsoft originally chose, mainly for the convenience of boutique-reseller power demos. Also, the more collaborative the environment, the more important it becomes to enforce a strong-typed, sin-of-commission data model.

This is all covered in the first week of Graybeard 101 as taught with slate tablets back in the stone age. I was there in 1985. Microsoft has had wool in its ears since forever. Still doesn't make it right, does it?

Furthermore, anyone who really cares about data pipeline integrity writes an export function from the derived format back to the raw input format, until they come out exact, or every difference is adjudicated and signed off, which is incorporated into an automatic validation task which can be repeated at any point in time for the life of the project.

CRAN Task View: Reproducible Research

LaTeX was originally written in the early 1980s by Leslie Lamport at SRI International.

Leslie Lamport won the Turing Award in 2013 for his uber graybeard rectitude, if anyone cares to notice. Douglas McIlroy made his seminal contributions in 1968 (Bill Gates was thirteen, but perhaps he was already set in his ways). John Backus delivered his Turing Award lecture "Can programming be liberated from the von Neumann style?" in 1977, which inaugurated the modern tradition in functional languages (Bill Gates was then twenty-three).

Competence is hard. Sloth is eternal. We continue to seek a third way.

Comment Re: Elect Trump for Honest Government (Score 1) 518

Unless it brings the system down, it doesn't matter...

The system itself is broken...

That's how we got into Iraq, the fatuous logic that good motivations can't make a bad situation worse, often far, far worse.

But this kind of logic will always be with us, because it's a smug, tweetable, free pass on the hard work of coming up with and implementing a workable solution (and what idiot wants to attempt that anyway amid the boo-bird chorus of polarized politics?)

30 Shocking Domestic Violence Statistics That Remind Us It's An Epidemic

The Huffpo doesn't spin it this way, but these numbers are likely at the lowest levels since the invention of suburbia. I can't say much more than that, because before the invention of suburbia we probably weren't even keeping score.

The "system" is what brought a pretty terrible thing out of the closet. Sucks to be assaulted by a violent intruder? How about sharing your bed with a violent chest-thumper every damn day?

Software: Maintain or Replace?

But there is a tendency - fuelled by taxpayer money - to leap to replacement quickly, rather than doing maintenance. I have rarely seen a system improved by creating a new one...because the new one is loaded with the same flaws (indeed, new ones) as the legacy system that it replaced.

But of course, the hazards involved with ripping and replacing the current political system are much smaller than ripping and replacing some aging government cost-control system. I mean, gosh, look at how well rip and replace worked in Russia.

The Not-So-Great Professor: Jeffrey Sachs' Incredible Failure to Eradicate Poverty in Africa

The early sections of Nina Munk's book about the economist Jeffrey Sachs read like a celebration of a boy genius. No, strike that: Sachs piles up so many achievements so quickly that the word genius sounds somehow inadequate.

By the age of 13, he was taking college math. Later, he got near-perfect scores on his SATs and graduated summa cum laude from Harvard, where by 28 he was a tenured professor. Two years later, he was advising the Bolivian government on how to administer economic "shock therapy," designed to break the spell of hyperinflation. This led to an even bigger triumph: masterminding Poland's transition to a market economy in 1989, as communism collapsed in Eastern Europe.

Like most geeks, never seen a system he couldn't fix better. Until something blew up so spectacularly, he either got the grey beard gene forever, or curled up and hid in a closet somewhere.

Of course, if you watch enough superhero movies, you just need to put the word out ("the system is broken!") and somehow Jeffery will get the bat signal, and he'll patiently hand-stitch some brightly coloured, stretchy fabric (you'd be amazing what else he found in that stiff bottom drawer with all his grandmother's old Jane Fonda work-out videos) into the peacock man-cape he always dreamed about while he was acing his SATs (painstakingly ripping and replacing the crotch seam six times to achieve the optimally brash yet task-focused fit—they don't call him "Dr Sacks" for nothing) and then he'll spring out the window, and who knows, maybe he can actually fly. I guess we'll find out.

Either way, news at 11.

That all that matters these days.

Entertainment.

Comment Re:Simple, I don't run Win 7/8.1, I run Win 10 (Score 1) 400

I used Windows 7 the other day, it felt old all of a sudden, amazing when it felt so new just 7 years ago, but it is now out of date and the idea of staying on Win 7/8.1 is just not reasonable anymore...

Nice job. You just nailed the limbic limbo: seven deadly sins, seven year itch, and even a bonus baby-boomer Streisand reference ("oh, oh, oh, feelings ...") complete with soulful ellipsis.

You might want to bend your GF's ear and check her expiry date, I think she's due.

So, yes, there are oh, oh, oh, reasons ... why this kind of language is universal in advertising, and shockingly out of place in a serious technical discussion.

Comment Re:Broken Windows Policing (Score 0) 191

instead of pushing for new restrictions on law abiding citizens

I didn't know we had two sets of books.

By the way, in the Chicago Manual, "law abiding" as a modifier is written "law-abiding", so I'm already suspecting you're one of those selective law abiders (to hell with the Nazi rules), who sometimes defers keeping the gun safe locked, and yet you probably don't think you should go straight to jail. After all, what could possibly deter B&E better than an unlocked gun safe?

Crime Gun Theft

The FBI keeps a database of all guns reported stolen and it seems to capture a remarkably high percentage upwards of 75%â"of all of the roughly 240,000 guns stolen from homes each year (according to the National Crime Victims Survey) and the 6,000 reported stolen from licensed dealers

What "law abider" generally references when someone runs it up the flag pole in this way is "righteously selective law abider" (let's not even discuss the speed "limit") whose home is his castle, eighty proof.

Comment I hope they win, but give them only fair chances (Score 2) 175

MaxMind didn't send all those yokels off on spurious missions. Are you your brother's keeper?

It's not a simple legal argument, here. You have to argue that MaxMind should have had a reasonable expectation that yokels will be yokels.

The next step in the argument, it seems to me (I don't give a shit that IANAL), is to claim that enabling yokels to be yokels is an explicit element of the MaxMind value chain, from which MaxMind extracted all kinds of proceeds.

Then it could be argued that this was such an integral element of their value chain as to have induced them into invented a "not found" representation which masqueraded as a valid search result, so as to deliberately create a superficial impression that "not found" results hardly ever happen. That would be the strong condition, but hardest to establish. MaxMind will counter that this was a merely a technical felicity, and that it's no crime to be lazy.

In the strong condition, I see it as absolutely the case that MaxMind sought gains from negligent asshattery.

I also think there's a good chance this case can't demonstrate the strong condition, and only a modest chance they obtain damages from the mild condition.

If MaxMind has a moral backbone, they'll settle out of court for a conscionable amount, unless the aggrieved are in full-on casino mode.

The aggrieved definitely deserve compensation here, but if they have to collect directly from the yokels who caused the disturbances, good luck with that.

Comment Re:Simple question (Score 1) 162

Who gives a fuck? How does this affect anyone at all? I don't know anyone who has or needs anywhere close to this amount if storage.

I can definitely imagine needing the 15TB one in a few years. After being more of a classical literature and music person for most of my life, I've been getting into film. The canon of great films consists of hundreds of titles, at least. In the past you'd have to be lucky to live in a developed country with a well-stocked library, or have a truly massive disposable income to buy all the DVDs yourself. But people today have an incredible opportunity, regardless of their means or location, to educate themselves about this (or any other) art form thanks to torrent communities.

When you're downloading Bluray rips at full quality, where a single film can be 25GB, then storage space starts filling up quickly. One could delete after viewing to save space, but who knows, maybe someday you'll want to watch a particular title again or show it to a friend or loved one, and at that point there might not be any seeders left on the torrent. So, if storage gets cheap enough, then it's worth keeping it all on disk.

Comment Re:An odd choice (Score 3, Interesting) 14

Apple's acquisition history suggests that sometimes what they acquire may not be obvious. For example Fingerworks made peripherals like keyboards. They were actually acquired for the multi-touch technology and patents that became the backbone of the iPhone. Beats Electronics was for their licensing deals and not their headphones so that Apple Music could become a reality. Other acquisitions were straight-forward. Emagic became Logic Pro and Garage Band. PA Semi and Intrinsity were about acquiring the personnel to design ARM chips.

Comment Re:If I thought it would help... (Score 1) 279

Let me take a second shot at that.

Back in 1937, a large constituency of the economically marginal blacks in the deep south would have been involved in subsistence farming, which in the extreme case can almost function as a cash-free economy.

I think your standards of affordability need to be a little bit more sophisticated that applying the aggregated, long-term national inflation rate.

Would the Court also take that view? My guess is that they definitely would, hue of wig notwithstanding.

Comment Re:If I thought it would help... (Score 1) 279

If it was unconstitutional then, there's no reason it shouldn't be unconstitutional now.

I generally file this mode of rhetorical sentiment as "good at law, bad at thinking" though on a grumpy days it's s/law/shallow legal bickering/.

Let's take a closer look.

Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections

In a 6 to 3 vote, the Court ruled in favor of Ms. Harper. The Court noted that "a state violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution whenever it makes the affluence of the voter or payment of any fee an electoral standard. Voter qualifications have no relation to wealth."

This ruling reversed a prior decision by the Court, Breedlove v. Suttles, (1937), which upheld the state's ability to impose poll taxes as within its powers. There had been no relevant change in the text of the Constitution between 1937 and 1966.

The 24th Amendment, adopted in 1964, outlawed the poll tax in federal elections, but did not speak to the question of state elections, which was the question involved in the Harper case.

The Court membership had changed, and the justices examined the issue from a different point of view.

So, you're right after all: if it was unconstitutional then, there's no reason it shouldn't be unconstitutional now, modulo the penchant of justices of the U.S. Supreme Court to dye their wigs different colours in different eras.

So if the California situation were to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, the court would probably look at the three dissenting opinions from Harper, perhaps choosing a point of view that takes those arguments even more seriously than the last time around.

Slam dunk. No need to huddle around the Vatican chimney, or any of that rot.

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