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Comment Re:Worked@IBM in 1980's, left, because sucked. (Score 1) 302

IBM labs (the MITRE Kanji printer labs, specifically) were incredibly uncomfortable, required long, annoying walks from the parking lot and between locations and buildings, and were run in an extremely uncreative manner

When I was at the Cambridge Scientific Center in the late '80s / early '90s, it was quite a nice space, and had a very casual culture, by IBM standards. No dress code, posters on the walls, etc. And we had (shared) offices, not cubicles.

Sure, it's an anecdote - but then I'm not the one generalizing about "IBM labs".

And of course tastes differ. I wouldn't mind working at a location where traditional business dress was required, because I like wearing suits. For some people that's anathema. I wouldn't mind not having a window in my office (indeed I've spent happy years in such offices, and in fact they're useful for avoiding glare, etc) if there are windows in public areas. And so on.

Comment Re:All these bans are useless security theatre (Score 1) 249

If the point is to spread terror, the destroying an aircraft seems to be more effective than blowing up a queue. Not only is the visual of an aircraft crashing to the earth more vivid, but it demonstrates that security itself is ineffective.

That assumes the terror planners are competent.

The "DC sniper" attacks had the Washington, D.C. area in a tizzy for three weeks. They required two "operatives", a rifle, and an old car. No training or planning. And if Muhammad and Malvo hadn't gotten greedy, they could have kept it up for years, particularly if they occasionally moved on to other cities.

There are plenty of other well-known terrorism strategies that have low initial and ongoing costs and don't require suicide operatives (a high cost in itself). Think tanks like RAND have been writing papers on them since the 1960s. A number of the "movie terror plots" from the contests Schneier used to hold are practical. Any so-called mastermind should have been able to achieve out dozens of effective attacks, with considerable dismay among the populace, in any country of his choice.

The evidence suggests that most of the people interested in conducting terror attacks wait for instructions from the planners, and the planners are obsessed with a relatively small class of attacks that are based on irrational emotional positions rather than any rational calculus of potential affective or material effect.

Unless, of course, their real goal is just to annoy us.

Comment Re:What's the plan, Stan? (Score 1) 202

censoring speech (whatever that speech is) doesn't actually change people's hearts and minds. It just pushes the speech into darker corners of the web.

I agree with that when we're talking about broad censorship by an effective monopoly, whether it's the government or someone who holds an overwhelming position in a particular medium (like, say, Google with web search).

When it's a single non-dominant publisher, though, I can't really fault them for deciding not to publish things they don't like. I don't think I'd have grounds for complaining if they closed my accounts.[1] Twitter is hardly a monopoly, and "extremist" speech is easy to find on the web regardless of what Twitter does. I wouldn't call being kicked off Twitter "push[ed] ... into darker corners".

As a matter of principle, if I were running a platform such as Twitter, would I hold freedom of expression on my platform up higher than refusing to promote speech I disagree with? I'm not at all sure that I would. Depending on how I presented that platform (is it a place for people to talk about specific topics I've defined, or an open forum?), I'd probably permit material I disagreed with as long as I thought it was well-reasoned, supported, and mature. But I wouldn't allow offensive speech simply to keep it in the light, because there are plenty of other venues for that.

[1] N.B. I have never actually "tweeted", from either my personal or business Twitter accounts. People I respect asked me to create them, so I did. Actually using them would be a step too far, though.

Comment Re:I tried to Open a Twitter Account (Score 1) 202

I'm amazed at people that get on twitter and say horrible things to other people they don't even know.

Amazed? I can see "disappointed" or "saddened", but we have a vast corpus of evidence from the past few decades demonstrating that sort of behavior is normal in online discourse. I have academic articles discussing it from the mid-1990s,[1] and it was a truism among regulars on Usenet and BBSes and other online forums as far back as at least the early '80s.

It seems that a few factors in particular compound to increase the probability of adversarial communication with strangers online: a low barrier to entry (it takes very little time or money to dash off an angry reply), immediacy (most of these channels are low-latency so there's little "cooling-off" time), narrow feedback (you can't see the person you're arguing with or hear their tone of voice), and a lack of corrective sanctions from the community.

These add up to making the cost of flaming very low, and the psychological reward high. The latter is due to that immediacy plus the evolved inclination to win arguments, as demonstrated extensively by any number of (relatively) sound psychological experiments over the past century.

Arguing rationally is learned behavior and requires an investment mindset - you give up the short-term reward in favor of longer-term ones such as self-actualization ("I am the sort of person who resists the urge to flame and wins arguments on merit") and possibly more-durable reputation in certain social circles. It means doing work in online discussions, and most people treat those as entertainment and want to avoid the additional labor.

So points for you, and it's something we all ought to aspire to; but as long as people are the sort of people we'd recognize, it's going to be a minority behavior.

[1] Hell, I wrote one that touches on it myself, in the "Geographies of Cyberspace" special issue of good ol' Works and Days.

Comment They just switched from Mercator? (Score 1) 319

I'm surprised, to be honest. I attended public grammar schools quite a few years ago in Massachusetts - not in Boston, but in the vicinity - and we didn't use Mercator. Besides the obligatory globes, all the classrooms had one of the interrupted projections. I think it may have been Boggs eumorphic. Besides being somewhat less distorted, it was a good prompt for explaining projections.

I quite liked maps and globes as a kid. My mother had a really nice big desk globe with a light in it. The globe was marked politically, but when the light was on, an inner printing with physical features showed through. So you could flip it on and off and see how physical barriers influenced political boundaries and that sort of thing.

We kids had a pair of smaller globes, one of the Earth and one of the Moon. A present from my grandmother, I think - probably among the ones we spent the most time with (along with encyclopedias and the like).

Comment Re:Jumping ship before the bottom falls out. (Score 1) 200

What year would that Nobel Peace Prize have been awarded?

You're asking for more information from someone who doesn't know "noble" from "Nobel", and doesn't know "peace" from "economics"?

I'll guess BG doesn't know the difference between the Nobel Prizes proper and the SNB Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel either, though I suppose in this context it doesn't make much difference, since his argument is just "hey, Friedman was awarded some famous prize, so I'm right, jerk!".

I suppose we might also note that the prize was officially awarded to Friedman "for his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy", and not "based off his 1976 dissertation on price settings and behavior". Friedman wrote his dissertation in '45. I don't think he published anything new and significant in '76, and in any case the Nobel Committee doesn't give you the prize for something you just wrote the other day. There's a bit of latency. I believe Friedman's consumption-analysis work was mostly done in the '50s.

Comment Re: The end? (Score 1) 200

Yeah. Other examples:

Lehman Brothers. $680B in supposed assets (and $22B in actual capital), then bankrupt a month later.

Bear Stearns. In 2006, $350B in assets ($66B in capital), and the "Most Admired" securities firm in the US (Fortune magazine survey). In 2008, wiped out and bought by JP Morgan for a song.

WorldCom. $104B in assets when it filed for bankruptcy in 2002, after its huge accounting fraud was discovered. Though WC re-emerged from bankruptcy as MCI and was then bought by Verizon, so I suppose it's debatable whether it "folded" - it was a fairly orderly reorganization. Same can be said for e.g. Global Crossing.

Most of the other big bankruptcies in the US were similarly either bailed out, bought out, or reorganized. It's true that it's relatively rare for a company with that kind of capital to simply fall apart - someone will want to feast on that corpse.

Comment Re:I am curious if people think this is good or ba (Score 1) 164

Here, here.

The original phrase is most likely "hear, hear", a Parliamentary cry of support, as in "hear what that dude is saying!".

But perhaps you knew that and were using the homonym for the purpose of amusement. And, of course, there's little chance of confusion. And probably the "wrong" (etymologically unjustified) version of the phrase is close to achieving parity with the "correct" one anyway. (I tried the Google Books ngram viewer, but there are too many false positives.)

Carry on.

Comment Re:I am curious if people think this is good or ba (Score 1) 164

Ah, the Indiana General Assembly. All for "local control", as long as "local" means them.

"Overreach" is an ambiguous term. Legally, I suspect this is valid; I'm not about to pour over the whole Indiana constitution, but I suspect the courts would consider it "general" and thus not fall foul of 4.22. And there doesn't seem to be much else in the constitution that protects local-government powers. (IA very much NAL, but I'm happy to pretend on the Internet.)

Conceptually, it looks like an encroachment on powers historically delegated to local governments, such as zoning. But again those seem to be at the discretion of the General Assembly, and what the GA giveth, the GA can taketh the hell back.

Personally, I think it's an asshole move, but then I don't like AirBnB and the rest of the "sharing economy". I don't know that I have any better reason for disliking this bill. And certainly there are times when I don't care for things the local governments in my necks[1] of the woods do, and I may from time to time dream of the state legislatures reining them in. Who's to say who's right?[2]

[1] I own houses in two states. Neither of them happens to be Indiana. I have quite a number of friends there, but I don't know their opinion on this. Not that you care. Why are you even reading this footnote?

[2] I kid. This is the Internet, so of course I'm right.

Comment Re:It's all hogwash (Score 1) 234

This is a perfect response. It's angry, confrontational, egotistic, and completely unhelpful. Bravo!

I can't disagree, though. Software is already nearly error-free, and I've never seen a programmer who produced anything other than excellent code. If O'Reilly can't publish a book of programming advice that's perfect, they shouldn't publish anything at all.

Comment Re:Concerned when the first entry is wrong (Score 1) 234

What this means in *contemporary* languages is that you *do* use polymophism

No. Polymorphism is not necessary (or sufficient) for an ADT. They're orthogonal concepts.

ADTs are entirely realizable in non-OO languages. They have a long history in traditional non-OO LISP variants, for instance. Consider for example the classic text Elements of Programming Languages by Friedman et al., which introduces ADTs in the second or third chapter,[1] and refers to them extensively throughout, but uses non-OO Scheme as its illustrative language.

In C, ADTs are fully realized by pointers to incomplete structures, which make the implementation inaccessible to ADT consumers. Of course it's possible to have explicit polymorphism in C (with methods implemented as explicit function pointers rather than a vtable or other dispatch construct hidden by the language implementation), and it's even possible to combine that with incomplete structs (though invocation has to be handled by a layer which has access to the type implementation, so it's no longer an ADT at the point of dispatch). But, again, that polymorphism is orthogonal to type abstraction.

I've just skimmed Khan's ADT contribution on the website (which started this thread), and in my opinion it's not wrong per se, but it's not very good either. It does conflate polymorphism and abstraction, and wanders off the path into such matters as static versus dynamic typing. I haven't looked at the other contributions; I hope they're generally better.

[1] It's the third chapter in the '89 draft copy (with the old PL:ARI title) I have, and the second chapter in the third edition of EOPL. I assume the first and second editions are similar.

Comment Re:The Edge of Karma (Score 1) 82

I never use Edge, so it's the most secure browser for me!

Well, tied with Opera, Safari, Konqueror, Vivaldi, Sea Monkey, Mosaic,[1] HotJava, ...

Of course, "most secure browser" is far too vague to mean anything. There's no threat model specified, and web browsers now do so many things that their "security" is extremely nebulous. The claim is just puffery, like "Microsoft cigarettes are the smoothest!".

[1] I used to use Mosaic, back in 1993, but I've given it up since.

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