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Comment The Dark Forest (Score 1) 259

The Dark Forest, by Cixin Liu, translated to English by Joel Martinsen (10% done, so far excellent)

the Dark Tower cycle (all), Stephen King
2312, Kim Stanley Robinson
Speak, Louisa Hall (I recommend this one highly)
The Annihilation Score, Charles Stross (recommended)

Up next:
My annual trip through The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and probably The Children of Hurin and a few other of Christopher Tolkien's contributions to his father's legacy.

Comment Labels (Score 1) 656

I guess this is a meta-post about the posts I see here.

I find it disturbing how common it is for people to respond to an action or statement that upsets them by assigning a label to the person who made that statement or action, and then use that label as an excuse to dismiss the value of the person, thus making it permissible to ignore their ideas without consideration, deny them the privilege of making a case for their point of view, or even express a wish for harm or perhaps commit direct or indirect harm against that person.

In my experience, every person is different, and can wear a lot of different labels, and even conflicting labels, at different points in time. Much, perhaps most, of this labeling is an exercise in laziness and unwillingness to engage with the ideas or actions themselves, granting the person full person-hood and equal inherent worth.

Maybe we need a label for people who do this, so we can dismiss and ignore them because they are not part of our in-group. I think "human" will do.

All you humans, get off my lawn.

And stop dismissing people because you think they belong to some imaginary group that you or someone else invented to stick them in, whether it's "SJWs", "Illuminati", "Libruls", "Deplorables", "Welfare Queens", or what have you. Engage with the ideas, recognize that you don't know everything, but you do know something, and contribute to the conversation without trying to dictate to everyone else. /rant

Comment Re:This applies beyond IT (Score 1) 361

"It won't work just because you say so. In fact it will fail, because I say so."

Change, it's going to come. It won't be very predictable, other than in a "picking the lottery numbers" sort of way.

UBI or some variant is interesting, and I look forward to the results of various experiments underway. Probably it will have problems, as do all human endeavors. Industrial revolution style wage labor is probably not going to last, though.

Personally, I'd prefer to see an outcome where everybody gets to eat and have some fun and freedom rather than a dog-eat-dog competition for the last scraps left after the ever-shrinking capitalist oligarchy skims off the last of the wealth created by human labor and moves on to watching the rest of us starve as their robots tend their fields and usher us sharecroppers onto the barren reservation. Or some such dystopian badness.

Comment Re:I'm pretty sure.... (Score 2) 88

It'll likely be what it is, an expensive niche product that some people will enjoy but will never catch on with widespread adoption and the occasional developer adding support.

Too right, just like those newfangled "GUI desktops" and mousie-things, or those Aye-Phone thingamabobs. Who's gonna write software for these things? Real Developers (TM) only work on proven technologies where they can make money today.


OK, maybe you're right, but I would be less surprised if some form of VR/AR that nobody is quite predicting yet grows up to be a very desirable and commonly used interface to humans. Time will tell.

Comment Re:History lesson (Score 2) 333

First, being an originalist does NOT preclude making amendments to the constitution.... Your argument on that is a clever fallacy, but so is the rest ofyour argument..

I think you misunderstand or mis-characterize my intent. Since the original intent of the Constitution includes the amendment process, it's plain that amendment is included in "originalism". My argument is with the great many people who "call" themselves originalists or some variation on that idea, and yet oppose any change not in alignment with their own personal interests on the grounds that it wasn't part of the original intent - which included change. Indeed, the interpretations of "original intent" can vary widely in some areas. To finish my thoughts on that topic, I further don't believe that someone is an originalist just because they call themselves that. I think that most people will grab onto any argument that supports them getting what they want.

(Also, don't expect flawless logic in off-hand slashdot discussions. We're chatting here, not formulating formal formulae.)

You admit that although you see qualities in Trump that *remind* you of Hitler, he's not actually anywhere near the historical figure in actions... Yet... You just figure that he might try so you are going to oppose ALL he attempts? You seem to agree he's not done anything like this yet...

I oppose many things Trump has done - that I've heard of - not because it reminds me of Hitler, but because I think he's wrong. I'm sure he's done some innocuous business that incited no remark or concern, as well as being an utter ass-clown most days so far. The fact that his behavior is emotionally disturbing due to some similarities with the German Nazis is merely a side note. I'm not out rioting, either, just expressing my opinions from the shabby safety of an anonymous website account.

Let me remind you of what I see as the real essence of evil that Hitler was engaged in and the progression of his rise to power so you can ask yourself, where are we along this continuum?

Hitler was elected and gained power though clever use of intimidation, usurpation of law and violence. He gained power largely though the usurpation of the German constitution using quasi legal means to suppress many basic human rights. He used various "emergencies" to declare marshal law, imprison his political foes and then change the laws of the land while his opponents could not stop him (either because they where dead, in jail or missing). He then took all authority for himself, writing laws by decree and effectively becoming the sole ruler of the country with the death of Hindenburg. After that, it was all over but the war as Hitler had total control of the country as a dictator.

Yep. Sounds a lot like Trump's verbally expressed wish list. I do not particularly fear that such will actually occur, not least because so many are so vocally opposing it, but also because we do have some checks and balances in place in the US. Thank the founders. As you go on to describe very well:

Where are we? Our constitution remains in full force, with the bill of rights firmly in place. Congress remains fully in charge of writing laws and our courts still have power to adjudicate the laws. The president is still unable to make laws on his own and if he tried (such as when Obama did) the courts would not let him. What power does Trump have to change this arrangement? None... Our constitution is still in force and will remain as it is, Trump is powerless to change that, just like all past presidents. Trump can not amend the constitution himself, that takes 2/3rds of the states, and beyond suggesting amendments he'd like cannot officially even do that without congress or the states.

Thanks, I agree, and thank goodness. Also, please don't mistake me for an Obama apologist. I was quite disturbed by some of the actions of his administration.
Nonetheless, I see Trump seething and ranting at the Constitutional checks on his power, and expressing desires to overstep them. He will not be able to, but it still concerns me. The checks sometimes take time, and the damage done can be hard to undo.

Or do you believe that Trump is somehow unaware of the limited power he has or that he is somehow grasping for more than he's allowed? In which case, I ask you to kindly supply examples of this usurpation of power you are so afraid of.

Expressed desire to muzzle the press is a first easy target here. Not doable, but oft spoken.

It's easy to accuse somebody of being "like" someone or something you don't care for, especially if you don't personally or politically like what they are doing.

True. Doesn't make it wrong, though. Also doesn't mean it's the basis of my opposition, just an observation.

However, your argument here is a classic association fallacy and thus invalid.

Again - my position is not based on association. I am not about to waste days typing up my full thoughts on the matter. Someone else pointed out a disturbing similarity, and I said I can see why people think and feel that way.

You are entitled and indeed encouraged to express your thoughts, and I welcome them - thank you for your interesting engagement in this discussion, I'm enjoying it. I hope you'll feel the same.

However, PLEASE, please, contact me when Trump actually does something to usurp his constitutional authority so I can join you in opposition to such an action. Be prepared with hard evidence of this because I'm not inclined to believe you given your past logical fallacies. So far, he's done nothing that I am aware of that usurps his constitutional limits as the original framers put forth and hasn't made any moves to change the constitution (much less suggested it needs any). (Which is why I point to his nomination to the Supreme court as proof you are wrong).

So far, Mr. Trump has done nothing to earn my trust, and a great deal to discourage it. I'm glad you'll be on the side of law and order if actual malfeasance occurs. So far, I just see moral corruption, stupidity, and incompetence, and not anything that could justify more forceful opposition than words.

And don't expect logic. :) These are opinions, worth no more than anyone else's.

Comment Re:History lesson (Score 1) 333

I hear you, but I think history provides ample proof that "feel" has always triumphed over facts when determining what most people will do. Such as voting for a con man, for example.

As for rioting to overturn an election, I'm not in favor of it, but it has worked in many places and times, to one degree or another. Usually resulting in more chaos and damage than just waiting for the next election, but see my statement above. *sigh*

And again, I have to object to calling people "left" or "right" as if these were monoliths. I don't think this mythical "left" has enough coherence to form any kind of unified revolt, or even unified demands. It's emotional reaction to perceived injustice. Same as the people on the other side, pointing fingers at them.

Comment Re:History lesson (Score 5, Insightful) 333

Now that's just sad. Comparing Trump to Hitler? Seriously?

Unfortunately, for many people this seems entirely appropriate, especially those who fall into one of the many groups of people who feel threatened by Trump and his power base. And yes, I mean threatened like concentration camps and gas chambers. The first has happened in the USA before, and the jubilant hatred coming from many Trump supporters renders the second sadly believable.

He may not be the model of decorum in his personal behavior and may have a brash personality that rubs folks who oppose him the wrong way, but that doesn't mean his policies are anywhere close to Hitler's or that the country is now in danger of falling into anything that resembles pre-WWII Germany. To even say such garbage cheapens history.

History is the measuring stick, and while Trump doesn't yet measure up (down?) to Hitler, and hopefully never will, it is entirely appropriate to do the measuring and then speak and act to prevent bad things if possible.

This is like comparing the concentration camps where millions of Jews died to a summer camp for kids.

No, it's like comparing the vile spew of Nazis to the vile spew of Trump and the even viler spew of many of his supporters, and finding them disturbingly similar, even though I agree the actions are orders of magnitude different so far.

It's offensive and shows both a lack of understand of history and current events and betrays the partisanship that drives all this pointless rhetoric used to divide the right from the left in this country.

The "right" has been dividing itself from the "left" and vice versa in the USA since long before the current political parties existed. Indeed, the political parties themselves have swapped sides, no doubt seeking greener pastures in their quest for power independent of any so-called values. I abhor such oversimplified labels as right and left, but those are your terms. Both major parties are coalitions of wildly disparate interest groups, banding together in the hope of gaining enough power to force their narrow goals on everyone, and if they have to go along with the [insert orthogonal interest] wackos, so be it.

The real problem though, is the truth is hard to hide and is becoming apparent. Trump nominates an "originalist" to the Supreme court, a guy who says that he must interpret the laws as they where INTENDED by the original authors and decide the issues based on that, not his personal feelings. Had Trump wanted to take over, he would need a judge who was free to decide cases based on political positions, not the law, because the law in this country pretty much precludes dictators from taking power.

Remind me who gets to decide what the original authors intended, without injecting any personal perspective.

Then explain to me why the original authors included an amendment process if they never intended anything to change and adapt with the times.

I am right royally sick of the idea that the US Constitution is scripture handed down verbatim by the almighty, never to be questioned or altered, especially by someone who has a different opinion. It is and was a compromise, a word apparently out of favor in these times.

For that matter, I am right royally sick of a Supreme Court that is utterly and absolutely partisan, such that the opinions of most justices can often be predicted before the cases are presented based entirely on the political positions of the presidents that appointed them. I don't trust any of them.

Then there is the Executive Order issue.... Name ONE of Trump's orders that has attempted to expand the power of the presidency or make a new law? (Hint: there isn't one as of this writing). You won't find one. I encourage you to go read these orders and quote them here to prove me wrong. You can find them all on the White House's web site if you cannot find them elsewhere... (You won't find them on any news site I've found, including CNN, FOX or MSNBC, but you will find a LOT of commentary about them..) I think you will be surprised to learn that a lot of stuff you THINK is there, isn't. Go find the Muslim ban, I dare you to try because I know you will fail.

It is not necessary to attempt power expansion or attempt to make new law as a prerequisite for being wrong. One can also be stupid, bigoted, hypocritical, counter-productive, foolish, corrupt, immoral or many other ways of being wrong. I make no specific claims, just pointing out that Presidents can be bad without those two particular faults.

So, you have a choice... Back up your claims here with some kind of actual evidence from original sources, or take your partisanship and ugly talk and go away. Trump isn't "like" Hitler and claiming so makes it obvious you don't know history nor current events well enough to be listened too. Stop falling for all this garbage you are hearing, go to the original sources and think critically. Remember the press doesn't tell you things that don't generate advertising dollars, so the mundane and uninteresting stuff doesn't get air time, but violent protests and hyperbolae sure will. You got to dig a bit for the truth, but it's out there.

My choice is to avoid most news media internal to the US. That includes not only the corrupt propaganda organs driving the current president's agenda, but also their counterparts on the other end of the spectrum and the large profit driven media monsters in the middle. The majority of it is just noise anyway, and my experience with reporting on events where I was personally involved tells me that virtually every news story is one person's flawed perspective on events too complex to understand in the time allowed for a story deadline, and certainly too complex to fit within the word or time limit of the story itself. Those who rely on news reporters for their version of truth are making a mistake. So, on that we seem to agree.

On Trump and the emotions that drive him and his mouth foaming fans, I think we probably disagree. I can thoroughly despise him, his words, and his actions without being "partisan" at all. I think all the parties are at fault, and have been for decades at least. The will to power has long since eclipsed the will to govern wisely and benevolently.

Comment Re:Holy flamebait batman! (Score 1) 917

Just brainstorming here, no way am I suggesting this is well-considered commentary.

Perhaps some form of distribution of necessity goods without the exchange of money would resolve some of the "unfairness" complaints about UBI.

Rent vouchers, water, basic groceries in some limited amount, some quantity of kWh of electric power, health care, public transport, basic utilities...

If these were free of financial cost to the consumer, the need for monetary income could be drastically reduced.


Comment Re:Omar Saddiqui Mateen? (Score 1) 1718

Christians: "Hate the sin, love the sinner."
Muslims: "Kill all the gays!"

Liberals: "As you can see, all religions are equally bad!"

Anonymous Coward: "Categorize humans into a small number of buckets and then I will tell you what all of them think, so that you can ignore them because they don't agree with you. Unless you are one of 'them'."

Comment Re:Omar Saddiqui Mateen? (Score 1) 1718

Christians may think that homosexuality is a sin, but they are not raping, shooting, throwing in acid, or hanging gay people.

Oh yes they are. (Just a few examples there.)

OK, I can't verify how many of the people who have attacked an LGBT person lately is a Christian - or claims to be - but many of the most egregious attacks are carried out by people who claim to be "fighting evil" in the name of their religious beliefs, and in the "West" most of those were not Muslims.

No "hangings" that I can think of off hand, though being left tied to a fence might qualify. Throwing acid... hmmm, maybe not, but throwing boiling water, check. Shooting? Numerous. Raping? Numerous. Beating to death, check. Stabbing, yes. Firebombing, yep. I can remember from my childhood people talking of taking baseball bats to the park to beat up fags, and I didn't even know any Muslims then.

So, it's really no surprise that the other poster might have some of that history pop into mind.

Personally, my first thoughts were, "Oh God, not another" without any assumptions about who did it or why. I think most of us can agree that the reasons homicidally crazy people do homicidal things is hard to understand, and I'd go further to state that you can't take the things such a person says as truth in any simple sense.

Many will latch onto individual statements or bits of information as "proof" of their own pet hatreds or prejudices, or fuel for their own ambitions, but simplistic reasoning is usually false and will lead you to bad decisions.

I would recommend that people calling themselves Christians and inciting or carrying out violence would be well served to actually read the teachings of Christ and pay attention. I don't feel qualified to make recommendations to followers of other religious traditions, but I can hope for some good non-violent teaching there as well.

Comment Re:Yes, it should be illegal. (Score 1) 380

I probably shouldn't bother... but:

The passwords have no value in themselves, no more so than the key to your house has significant value in itself. In order to demonstrate this principle, here is a password I no longer use:

Good luck buying lunch with that.

The things protected by passwords and keys may or may not have financial value, whether intrinsic or created by agreements. Additionally, "financial value" is not the only form of value.

So, point taken, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous Coward, but I think I'll stand by my assertions, incomplete though they be.

Comment Re:Yes, it should be illegal. (Score 5, Insightful) 380

Assigning costs ... to the free and total dissemination of information

How about assigning costs to the creation of the information?
How about assigning costs to the editing?
How about assigning costs to the creation of artwork in the books?

Each of these activities has costs, but whether the expenditure creates value is a different question. I can hire someone to move rocks from one side of my yard to the other, and then back again, incurring cost, with no value created whatsoever.

I have great affinity and sympathy for those who work to create works of technology (such as myself) or artistic works such as literature (my spouse and other relatives), but the mathematical reality is that information itself, if infinitely and cheaply reproducible and transportable, is without intrinsic financial value, and can only be effectively sold for non-trivial prices when artificially controlled by regulation.

I continue to be fascinated at this tug of war between one the one side the financial interests of creators and historically profitable distributors who no longer add any value, and on the other side the benefit to society of having easy, cheap access to information, each of which has value. In the end, there's no "right and wrong" here other than that which is agreed upon via government and other forms of negotiation.

And before "stealing" gets tossed out there, if you still have the thing which was "stolen", it wasn't stolen. It was copied. There's a difference. The argument about lost profits has more basis, but has been grossly exaggerated in many cases, and only exists due to the aforementioned agreements, not due to any inherent physical reality.

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