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Comment Re: It's my house though (Score 1) 235

On 2nd reading, last sentence isn't clear:

A 6 year old 100 years ago would have learnt racism, sexism and a dozen other -isms that we today consider obviously silly. He would consider it quite obvious that africans, or frenchmen, or jews, or catholics, or whatever the dominant prejudice in his village was, are inferior people. That women are half-humans. That children need to be beaten to learn discipline. And a hundred other "facts".

What is "obvious" is very much a cultural artifact, much more than objective truth.

Comment Re: It's my house though (Score 1) 235

Please explain to us why (a) you dont know what I knew at 6 years old, (b) you are demanding that this knowledge be "obvious" before you will accept it.

As the famous quote (whose author I sadly forgot) goes: "Common sense is what tells us the earth is flat."

The 6 year old knows that things fall down and break if you drop them. I want to understand gravity and materials science. "Why" is a good question to start.

You are just putting your fingers in your ears and going "la-la-la". I'm trying to understand what this silly racism thing is actually about. We all have prejudices, even though many of us don't admit to them. Why do we have them? Are they still useful? Given that as shortcuts and heuristics they are often not true, should we keep or abandon them? Are there useful prejudices or are they all bad?

I don't think your 6 year old self could discuss this question at an intellectual level. It didn't understand anything, it just learnt from its environment by copying. The same way that a 6 year old one century ago would have learnt all of the things that you now consider obvious.

Comment Re:Spare us. (Score 1) 108

OOP and functional programming, and probably other paradigms/methodologies have something in common: there's a right place and way to use them and wrong places and ways. They are helpful in the right place, but can make Yuuuge messes in the wrong place.

The "art" of programming is often using the right tool for the job: hammers are not "bad", but don't use them to drive in screws. Always remember not to make things hard on future maintainers who may not know about or share your grand code design philosophies.

Comment Re: It's my house though (Score 1) 235

Still doesn't follow. You notice that there's a break in your chain of logic? That this is similar to the famous joke where the middle of the blackboard says "and here a miracle happens" ?

As I posted elsewhere, I am a racist when it comes to cats, and consider racism a silly antic when it comes to humans, but I am a strong proponent of hearing out even the most silly argument and following its logic, because you cannot engage someone if you don't understand what it is they are actually saying.

Comment Re:It's my house though (Score 1) 235

Maybe not take a neo-conservative website for definition? Their summary is as short as it is misleading, mostly because they try to get to the point fast and do some handwaving.

Here's a critical article:

http://www.triplepundit.com/20...

But in the end, maybe we should discuss the book, and not the cover?

Comment Re: Guess they advocate Basic Income then? (Score 1) 107

The "owners of AI" will be anyone will a cellphone.

Who is going to stop you from running an AI engine on your GPU? The same people that stop common people from owning cars and computers?

The catch is what data set is your pocket AI going to operate on, and to what end? You think the same information that multinationals, big financial institutions, and governments will use to rule the lives of billions of people is going to be available to you?

Comment Re: EBooks (Score 1) 169

PDFs are inconvenient in e-readers because PDFs are page-oriented. That makes them inconvenient on smaller-screen devices. That said, PDFs represent that page with a high degree of fidelity, which is PDF's biggest strength.

The problem with math ebooks published in AZW format is that they either render equations incorrectly (making them useless), or render them as bitmaps (making them less useful than they should be, and sometimes illegible).

In most cases I'd take an EPUB or AZW over a PDF for reading on a small device, but for math I'd take the PDF, despite its inconveniences. Or better yet, a physical book.

Comment Re:EBooks (Score 1) 169

I'm in my 50s and my house is literally full of physical books. Every room is lined with bookcases most of them stacked two deep, and I've literally had to put jackposts in my basement to keep the floors from sagging.

Buying new books as ebooks means I don't have to get rid of my old books. It's also nice being able to travel with a generous selection of reading material.

Overall I find the reading experience to be about a wash, but that's a highly personal thing. For pure reading a physical book is better except in low-light conditions, but the search and note taking functions on an ebook are a big plus.

The biggest drawback for ebooks for me is the terrible mathematics typesetting, which is obviously a niche concern; but it's beyond bad; it renders many math ebooks unusable. Often the equations are rendered as low-resolution bitmaps that are close to unreadable, or in other cases I've seen equation terms randomly spread hither-and-yon across the page. For scientific and technical books I would much prefer a larger, higher resolution device. It's too bad nothing really fits the bill because I hate throwing out cases of obsolete technical books every year.

If I had to choose just one format, I'd choose paper. But I find ebooks have their uses.

Comment Re:Roads Should be Private (Score 1) 148

Private roads are a great way to make over half the country uninhabitable and unreachable as the tolls necessary to make roads profitable in rural areas would be too high to be practical, thus the roads would never get built which then means these areas will never attain the populations to support roads profitably.

Your link is garbage too. Siting a book summary that doesnt lay out any of the author's evidence does not support your claim at all. But hey, maybe the author has it right and every affluent country in the world has it wrong!

Did you just dismiss a book on the subject and then offer your own off-the-cuff opinion as fact?

It turns out most of the private rural roads in the US were originally private toll roads. I have a friend who pays $250 a year dues to a road association that maintains (contracts to maintain) the roads in her area. That's 7% of the Town's taxes on the same property and they don't maintain those rural roads.

A bit of history and a bit of awareness of the reality of rural living both contradict your guess. Maybe you should read the book - if only it were available for free at the top of the page the GP linked! /s

Comment Re:USPS (Score 4, Insightful) 148

That sounds great in theory, but so does Marxism. Centralization very very rarely beats a competitive market for efficiency.

Marxism has sounded terrible in theory ever since Game Theory and Information Theory became serious subjects (what, about 50+ years now?)

Same for central planning of anything - it's an information theoretical problem - the central planners always lack sufficient information and sufficient information processing capacity to make good decisions. The information and capacity are distributed in markets.

It's kinda like getting rid of packet-switched networks and having one computer do all of the Internet traffic flow. That would be an unmitigated disaster. Let's name it after Chavez, tho.

Comment Brand loyalty? Oy. (Score 2) 115

We had a lot of odd minicomputers in my high school, but the one I used most in school was a Digital Equipment PDP-8. You loaded the bootstrap from a paper tape reader, and you loaded the paper tape reader program by switches on the front panel which allowed you to set memory address contents word by word and set the program counter to a particular octal address. Input/output was through a teletype that printed on a roll of paper.

I have to say that this primitive hardware was as satisfying in its way to work on as the latest core i7 laptop I'm writing this on -- despite the actual core memory's unreliability in our building which was next to a busy subway track. I suppose I did have positive feelings toward DEC, until I got to college and worked in a lab that stored its research data on RK05 disc packs.

In my experience -- which as you can probably tell is by now extensive -- there are two kinds of people, those that adapt readily to new stuff, and those who stubbornly stick with whatever they already know. And as you look at successively older cohorts, the greater the proportion of stick-what-you-knowers there will be.

So the idea that you'll imprint *kids* on your technology is dubious. Yes you will imprint them, but it won't prevent them from switching to something else.

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