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Comment Re:fascinatingly crafted reply... (Score 1) 302

People in the U.S. seem to be divided into believing one of two non-overlapping realities. The two realities are accessed with this decision of belief:

1) Trump is very, very dishonest

2) Trump is the only one brave enough to tell the truth. All journalists are involved in a nationwide conspiracy to elect Crooked Hillary. All historical documents, footage, and transcripts have been faked. Your memory of recent events has been overwritten by high-tech drugs. The entire election was rigged so badly that Hillary *almost* won the popular vote. All internet content is a hoax, with the exception of photographs of Killary with block lettering printed on them.

It seems our nation is nearly equally divided between these two options. Note, however, that the hallmark of a master manipulator is to make claims of widespread conspiracy against themselves.

Comment Re:fascinatingly crafted reply... (Score 1) 302

GP's statement that we're in a post-truth political era is chilling, but I think it's apt.

Two things have changed in recent years, and not exclusively in the U.S. (The Leave party in the UK for example.) One is, as you're pointing out, false statements are being bandied about by political front-runners long after they have been debunked (birther hoax, etc). The other is that these candidates make far more false claims than true. And the false claims are not just distortions or a twisting of words or the invention of a different context. They are just bald-faced and obvious lies. Those features alone do not make us post-truth, but the fact that the public warmly embraces these politicians does.

In the U.S., it's really been the Republicans that's brought us into post-truth. Not that the Democrats have been honest, but they are just 20th-century-dishonest. They mostly stick with the truth but try to mis-represent it in various ways. While that's terrible and unacceptable, it suddenly doesn't seem so bad by comparison.

I would have laughed at the idea that we are going in the direction of the DPRK or even shades of Nazi Germany. But now we have Trump telling journalists "We're going to open up [sic] libel laws, and we're going to have people sue you like you've never got sued before."

Wow. Just wow.

Comment Re:Calling all rockets (Score 1) 144

I get this feeling too about Consumer Reports. While I think some of their studies are helpful, and they try to fill an important role, I always end up wanting more detail than what they offer. They collect a lot of data but withhold all the details. I don't feel that their data analysis is very good. But maybe I just get that impression because I want to see statistical uncertainties, ranges, actual numbers, etc. Since that's all hidden from readers, I tend to assume their ratings are bogus.

Comment Re:Unmeasurable results (Score 1) 331

I think your rhetorical question is exactly the right one to be asking. Or at least a variant of it. How do we end up with having to choose the lesser of two evils every election? It's been this way for the past several elections at least, but it seems to be getting progressively worse. And it's not just the major parties -- even our minor-party and leading independents have said some ridiculously screwball things that no one I know personally would have said.

There is something about the economics (in a broad sense) of our political process that brings the worst of our nation into the highest offices. I'll take a stab at answering this, but I'm certainly wrong and/or missing some pieces. It's really worth digging into though!

1) Human nature -> shocking, negative info is more memorable and motivating
2) Plurality voting -> 3rd-party spoiler -> Exactly two parties -> Mud-slinging becomes optimal politicking strategy
(1) and (2) lead to nearly 100% mudslinging, so it's perfectly natural for us to focus on how evil our candidates are.

On top of this, we have huge amounts of money now being spent by both the DNC and RNC, which are using increasingly-large datasets and the tools of the scientist to hone and optimize their election chances. Therefore we are inundated with 21st-century propaganda and demagoguery on a daily/hourly basis. Even those citizens that are well-educated can't help but be influenced.

The kinds of people who are best suited for government would never want to get involved with all this, and hence would never even register on the radar of the public and would have no chance getting far in a political career.

Comment Re:Does multi monitor work now? (Score 2) 72

I think that was fixed in 5.6, although on my laptop I still have issues connecting to and from a docking station with external monitors. I've been using Cinnamon recently and thinking about even going (back to) XFCE. The problems are most likely related to X.org drivers and xrandr support, but the various DEs handle failure cases differently.

I like KDE in general because it supports what I find to be efficient workflows, and the customization is relatively user-friendly and complete. But I've gotten increasingly frustrated with it over the years because it seems bugs are addressed slowly if at all, and there is rarely backporting of bugfixes like that display-port-related crash. That may be a little unfair, but that's the impression I get when using KDE.

Comment Re:Curly braces = good. Indents = bad. (Score 1) 173

Very late post but I still have to add my $.02. I feel like your objection here is too strong and artificial.

I've used both Python and C-style languages including Go for a long time now (15 and 30+ years). I don't really mind either block system. I've had problems with editors doing unexpected things with Python code blocks, and I have to be watchful of that. But in practice I agree with the gp -- it's very rarely a problem except with beginners.

Curly braces are good for auto-formatting, and gofmt really seems to fit with the philosophy of Go in general, so I disagree with what Have is attempting to do in this case since I don't see how gofmt can do its job in this case. But I've also seen some really bad code with curly-braces. Recently I've had to work with a large (million lines) C++ code base that's completely inconsistent, mixing tabs and spaces with no one tab width making sense even within a single file. Every developer had their own editor and settings. Reading that was a major PITA and literally dozens of bugs ended up being wrong-code-block (indent level) types of bugs. And how often have you found yourself counting braces, brackets, and parentheses to find that balancing problem? That doesn't go away with Python, but it helps a little.

I also kind of hate this style that's so popular:
if (stuff)
{
            something;
}
else
{
            something_else;
}

Reading lots of code written this way is significantly more taxing for me than the more compact styles, especially as outer blocks stretch out over multiple pages of text.

So: You have to be careful when editing indent-sensitive code like Python. But you also have to be careful when editing code with block delineators. Both styles can be bug-prone and are sensitive to accidental editor actions as well as mixed-developer consistency issues. For me the pros and cons of the two are closely balanced.

Comment Re: That's the state of the universe then... (Score 1) 268

I think I can partially answer my own question. The protons and neutrons in the nucleus can be described as being in a sort of quantum fluid with essentially no viscosity. So Although in some sense the nucleus is hard and almost incompressible, it's more like a superfluid than it is like a crystal. So I'm guessing that the "pear" shape is an unexpected nucleon wave function. Again I'm no nuclear physicist but maybe the situation is something a little bit like that?

Comment Re: That's the state of the universe then... (Score 1) 268

I am not a nuclear physicist, but I still don't get the distinction here. Nuclei are formed through processes that are full of asymmetries. For example, two nuclei collide, or a neutron is captured, or whatever. Is there some theory that asserts that nuclei must obey certain symmetries regardless of the constituent parts? These are unstable nuclei to be sure. Maybe they are an excited state that decays via gammas to a more symmetric one (which could be even less stable)? I'm not sold here but hoped some slashdotter could help illuminate this better.

Take snowflakes for example. They aren't all perfectly symmetric even though the bonds have a certain symmetry. The history of their formation manifests in the shape of the snowflake and causes deviations from the prevailing symmetry.

Comment Re:Good (Score 1) 1080

I like to think about various different market sectors, and how capitalism succeeds and struggles in these sectors. The auto industry is, for the most part, a good example of capitalism at its best. It still has issues with safety & emissions regulations -- pure market forces would favor lower costs over safety, and definitely favor lower costs over low emissions because the individual car owner doesn't suffer exclusively from their own car's emissions. And there are globalization market effects to contend with, as well as monopolistic tendencies.

Service industries are also great in free market economies, like hair salons and auto shops. Though auto shops do benefit from sleazy tactics that are hard for the average consumer to detect. But a haircut is easy, you know exactly what you're getting and what you're paying. How about the tipping culture though?

I think where capitalism struggles the most today is in information industries like software, news, music, etc where the per-unit production costs are zero or are dwarfed by "development" costs. In these industries, I believe the efficient market hypothesis no longer applies because one of its predicates (an aspect of scarcity) is no longer true. These industries are becoming larger and more important today, so it's not surprising that capitalism itself is being challenged.

This doesn't make me "reject" capitalism, because it still has tremendous value and use. But I don't expect it to work very well in the not-distant future without some significant modifications. And no, I wish I knew what those modifications might be but I don't.

Comment Re: So what? (Score 1) 133

AFAICT, snaps is no worse in this regard than any other packaging system out there: dpkg, rpm, pacman, etc. Am I right? Is all this fuss about the claim of better-but-not-actually-perfect sandboxing? Admittedly there is this gaping hole in X11 security (the way it's implemented in any case), which has been around for decades. But the article makes it sound like snaps are a new kind of bad. I don't think that's true, but hopefully some slashdotter will set me straight.

Comment Re:hard (Score 1) 154

Typically in university-based research, most of the government funding goes to post-doc salaries. The professors are paid by the university, and most of a grad student's research assistantship (basically minimum wage) is also paid through the university. Post-doc salaries are between about 1/3 to 1/2 of what industry would pay the same people.

Comment Re:hard (Score 1) 154

I have to disagree with this, at least as it relates to R&D spending. It sounds like you're advocating for pure, unregulated markets and want to rely on free market economics to somehow, magically, create a thriving privatized research program.

I wish I could believe in that, but it's way too simplistic. People point to Bell Labs as an example of successful private research, but other than that and Research Corporation, I don't know of any privately-funded basic research programs. Both of those, combined, produced very little basic science. Not to belittle them, but government funded programs far exceeded them in terms of funding and science output. I view Bell Labs as a market anomaly -- a momentary quirk of a market failure, possible only because Bell telephone held a monopoly for a while and had money they didn't know what to do with and no competition to keep them running lean.

In a properly-functioning market economy, companies that aren't 100% dedicated to maximizing return-on-investment will fail. This rules out basic science funding by corporations. Then you have private philanthropy, which only works when you have such an enormous wealth disparity that the top 0.0001% of citizens hold a large fraction of the nation's wealth and feel the desire at some point to spend a lot of it on research. Again, a consequence of a failed economy.

The way science has been successfully funded in the US has been through government spending by politicians who were motivated to do the right thing for our country. This was publicly justifiable, especially during the cold war, and probably for the wrong reasons. But starting around 1993, the public has begun to steadily lose interest in science and other long-term goals, and our politics have reflected that.

I don't even pretend to know about the pros and cons of the federal reserve bank. I know its history is suspicious at best, but beyond that there is a lot of intelligent debate that's outside my field of expertise. This is an important issue for sure, but I don't see how any fixes related to the Fed would do anything to restore a beneficial state of research in the US. In a healthy, thriving, and competitive economy, basic research can't and won't happen in the private sector.

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