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User Journal

Journal Journal: Reactions to General will 2.0: Rousseau, Freud, Google

Reactions to General will 2.0: Rousseau, Freud, Google by Hiroki Azuma (äèæå--2.0 ãfã½ãf¼ããfãfããfãããf¼ããf)

In summary, a tremendously provocative and rather interesting book, but too flawed and immature to be important or influential. It makes me feel like I have to start with rationalizations about the book's limitations. I think there're three kinds of problems that affected this book.

One is that the translation itself seems somewhat suspicious, Either because the material is so difficult or possibly because the translators own philosophies were brought into the picture, especially if either of them is a libertarian. In my page-based notes I will include a few specific questions about the translation, but I think there's more a general problem manifested in the confusion of proper nouns with generic usages. Quite frequently the book uses terms such as "general will 2.0" that should be capitalized and treated as proper nouns, but which appear in lowercase. It is barely possible that this reflects a feeling that the frequent capitalization would have made the book feel too heavy in some way, but I think it much more likely that it reflects the lack of capitalization in the original Japanese. (There are no capital letters in Japanese.)

The second problem could be described as a kind of trauma due to the disastrous earthquake and tsunami of 2011, immediately followed by the nuclear-power-plant disaster in Fukushima. My own trauma was relatively minor, just that I voided elevators for a few months, but perhaps the author had tighter connections to Fukushima or for some other reason felt the disaster more deeply. He gives the impression in the introduction that he was forced by the earthquake into rethinking many of the points raised in the book in ways that prevented him from merely polishing the original essays. His choices were to present them almost intact from the magazine serialization or completely rewrite the book.

The third problem can be described as a kind of forced extension beyond the original conception, especially as regards Rousseau. He is trying to rework the philosophy of Rousseau in a way that goes beyond the plausible implications of the original philosophy of the "social contract". I think it started as an interesting thought experiment, but he went so far that he at some point even the author understood that the connection to the original was overstretched. Even with the stretching, it's thought-provoking, but I felt it was not a mature conceptualization. There was some additional confusion caused by the layering in of later philosophers and thinkers, especially as regards Freud.

So here are my page-based comments:

On page vii I saw the first thing that made me worry about the translation. Near the bottom he says "I was able to assume the place ..." in a way that sounds quite pompous and assertive, even aggressive. I suspect the original Japanese may have represented a gentler conception that should've been translated into something like "I found myself thrust into a place ..."

On page xii he notes that it is September 11, 2011, which is exactly half a year since the disaster of the great earthquake. As an American I was struck but that the date was also exactly 10 years after the great and similarly traumatic disaster of 9/11 in America. It would have been even more striking as the double anniversary. (The 9/11 disaster was mentioned on page 60.)

On page 6 he talks about the Google's mission statement of organizing the worlds information. My main reaction was negative in light of my reconsideration of that mission statement in favor of giving priority to accessing the advertising information with the new utility metric of the paying advertisers' profits. I wonder if his generous and friendly interpretation was still plausible when this book was written?

At the bottom of page 11 was another sentence that made me wonder about the quality of the translation. It uses a very unusual word, "sublated", in such a way that it could not be clearly interpreted from the context. Perhaps a dictionary-based translation? Following the literal Japanese, but the result was not clear in the actual context. Better writing or a better translation should have made this concept clear. There are other examples in the book where free translation was clearly used. For example the "two heads are better than one" expression is used instead of a direct translation of the Japanese expression about the three men being wiser then Buddha. (ääåãOEãæ-æ®Sã®çY¥æ was referenced in a note.)

On page 53 there is a confusing note about the two Japanese forms of ææ and æå--, which are homonyms with closely related meanings. (One kind of åOEéYç義ã) However my main reaction to this footnote was to realize that all of the Japanese intrusions in the book would have benefited from the inclusion of proper Japanese. The use of Romaji was as usual ambiguous and confusing. If you don't already know the Japanese, then the Romaji is just gibberish, and if you do know the Japanese, then the Romaji is just intrusive.

On page 69 he's discussing the shallowness of conversations on the infamous Nichanneru (2ããfã"ããï¼Y). Reminds me again of Nicholas Carr's excellent book The Shallows.

On page 70 the second note is talking about the creator of the Google's Japanese input system, someone named Taku Kudo. One of my reactions was to wonder if he was might be related to the security expert Kudo-san at IBM Japan, but mostly I was curious about the extra features of Google Japanese input.

What struck me about page 73 was his essential confusion about the nature of freedom. However I think it helped to trigger me to think more about the meaning of constraints based on reality within the context of my own equation defining the most important sense of freedom. [#1 Freedom = (Meaningful - Coerced) Choice{5} â (Beer^4 | Speech | Trade) in my favorite sig.] Not sure if this is when I started wondering about some way to work the word constraint or reality into my sig, but it also reassured me about the usage of "Coerced" there.

My main reaction to page 79 was probably do to his apparent confusion about the you effective use of personal time. This is also another intersection with The Shallows.

Page 81 i talking about island universes from a libertarian perspective, but this is a concept I now map to do-it-yourself brainwashing.

Page 86 represents another other intrusion of libertarian fantasies. He's trying to rationalize minimizing government without considering the essential blindness of masses of people. The kinds of data he is collecting here are fundamentally incapable of revealing what should be done, incapable of dealing with the notion of change itself, but only capture the static conditions. I7m doubtful that the author understands that leadership requires unified vision, though this might be an overlaying of the libertarian conceptions. There's also some confusion with his use of the word "database" throughout the book, where he was probably thinking about something like "big data". Perhaps the use of big data came later, so he was forced to use the approximating word database?

I had two reactions on page 96. The main one was feeling his interpretation of Google PageRank was quite shallow and even inaccurate. I also had trouble with his interpretation of Freud here.

Not certain what caught my attention page 113, but perhaps that is where I realized the confusion between database and big data? The closing paragraph of that chapter was quite confusing to me, though that might be another translation problem.

Page 115 he had me thinking about reality-based constraints in relation to freedom.

On pages 136 and 137 he made me feel like he was confused about how the wisdom of crowds works, even though he refers to that book. The independent perspective of the individuals within the crowd is key to avoiding mob-based decisions.

The third note on page 139 made me think of time-based economics, although that general topic is clearly beyond his thinking in this book. I think that was the main problem that caught my attention on page 145, too.

On page 150 he's talking about the Japanese website Niconico, which has a real-time chat mode similar to YouTube's. He's talking about the problem of an overabundance of comments on the right side. This make me think about an obvious solution. Most of the comments should never be displayed, though perhaps they could be saved somewhere else for later reference. The displayed comments should be throttled to a slow speed to make sure they can be read. After each comment that makes it onto the display there would be some number and buttons. The first number would represent how many comments had been skipped before accepting the displayed comment. This would give a real-time indicator of the activity of the discussion. A thumbs-up and thumbs-down button would let the audience try to push the comment up or down the list, with a number for the net value. If the comment is accumulating a lot of positive reactions, then will tend to rise in the stack of displayed comments, but if it's getting negative reactions it will sink. There should also be a button for "the subject has changed". If enough viewers click on that one, then the comment will disappear to make room for a new comment. This system would then semi-automatically create a time-based list of the most important comments associated with each part of the video. More ideas and details available upon request, but that offer feels like a joke these days...

The discussion of Twitter on pages 182 to 184 was also thought provoking. It made me think of a new way to make Twitter much more interesting and useful. You should be able to sort and group the accounts you are following so that the different kinds of information appear in separate lists. On a large screen computer you would be able to display the lists side-by-side. For example the Twitter feed of your family members and close friends might be in the first column on the left side, while the second column might be for news sources and the third column for celebrities you are interested in. On a small screen device a sideways flick could switch between the columns representing your groupings. Another new idea of the sort I like to think about...

On page 204 he suggests that Google and Apple are influenced buy their shareholders. Seems to me to be a remarkably naÃve statement, based on my firsthand experience as an Apple shareholder and most starkly in a recent interaction with Sony. They are not interested in new ideas or any sort of "guidance" from shareholders. That's part of a more general problem and made me think his economic models are too naÃve by half.

Those are my page-based reactions to the book. They sound somewhat critical, but I'm still interested in many of the topics he raised. Not sure if I can actually recommend the book, but I'm thinking of visiting the coffee shop (or maybe it's more of a discussion salon) that the author manages.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Generalizable comments on Google+ 1

[Just the repost. Mostly relevant to Slashdot with the trivial substitution, but I don't think Slashdot is worth that much effort (and still wrapping up my affairs here before another hiatus).

Is it possible to have a civilized discussion using Google+? What are the rules for most effectively dealing with trolls and other rude people?

Just asking because it appears that the google has changed the rules again. I'm only sure that I don't fully understand the rules. However, I am also sure that I don't want to waste the time playing with trolls or even cleaning up after them.

My own preference would be to avoid seeing their mindless trollage in the first place. I still think that the best tool or feature for that purpose would be an age-based maturity filter. Should be an option, but I would set mine for about 2 months since I believe few sock-puppet identities last that long. A 2-month maturity requirement would render them invisible to me.

A bit of a diversion now, but if this topic has already been discussed (and I bet it has), then I was unable to find those discussions here. There is a search function, but it was not helpful. What if the google took the words and sentiments of my draft comment and used them to pop up relevant discussions for me to consider? Then I could see if my question had been answered, or even better, I could explain what was different about my problem and what parts of the answer didn't fully apply. (Going beyond that, the prior participants could be notified the topic had become active again.) Now back to our irregularly unscheduled discussion of how to have a "deep, thoughtful, and polite" discussion in Google+ (or anywhere on today's exceedingly messy Web of fake opinion).

In the unclear area is the question of long-lived trolls. I don't even know if Google+ has a block function or some kind of kill list.

I actually think the deeper solution would involve reputation-based filtering based on a symmetric relationship to each identity's contributions. If someone rates a comment favorably, then that favor should also accrue to the person who wrote the comment. I actually think it should have an option for higher dimension ranking, and most of the dimensions should allow for both positive and negative rankings.

Lots of details available upon request, but let me confess that I'm NOT anticipating a deep and thoughtful discussion here. Hoping for such, but all my hopes seem increasingly feeble these days.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Is the google thrashing? 8

[Published elsewhere including the links, but the likelihood of constructive or even thoughtful reactions here on Slashdot is too small to worry about fixing it up properly.]

Is the google thrashing?

Why does the google appear to be thrashing? There are so many obvious problems to be solved, but (at least from the outside) it appears that the google has stopped moving towards those solutions because of the thrashing.

I do not think it's because all of the important innovations have been implemented. My current theory is that it's because the google has reached the limit of conventional money-über-alles economic models.

From an emulation of Laszlo Bock's head?

[Are the details available upon request?]

Okay, that's the 'teaser' I sent to a Googler of my acquaintance. More likely it should be described as a 'brain fart', but I'm going to try to flesh out some of the details here. Anyway, the 'teaser' has served MY purpose in that it got me to start writing this:

Starting from the back, perhaps this should be regarded as a kind of twisted and consolidated review of the google-related books I've been reading recently. Laszlo Bock's Work Rules! is the most recent, but among the 30 books I've finished so far this year, there is also How Google Works by two insiders and outsider Ken Auletta's book from 2009. I see Nudge and I remember recently reading a couple of other books mentioned in Work Rules! but I think he should have read Rework, too. (Considering the missing bits, he should have included the story about the three masons, too. (That's a weak version of the story, but I can't find a link for a version in which the third bricklayer understood he was glorifying god.))

Distracted again, but I can't help it. The world is overly connected and the solutions of the interesting problems are usually under-constrained. Imagine that the google wanted to create a happier-life search engine? Among other purposes, it would help people find satisfying and rewarding purposes for their lives, possibly even including gainful employment? Oh, wait. Where's the money?

Now I went and jumped a step, so I have to back up to the head emulation topic. (Unless you, the mysterious and unknown reader, have already read some of my writings on that topic?) In brief, a good writer creates mental models inside the heads of his readers. For example, Raymond Chandler can cause your brain to run an emulator of Philip Marlowe. (Serrendipitously, the centennial celebration of his character mentions "googol" on page xiv from a time machine in 1988. (Is the google thrashing again with this false positive? The copy I'm holding here only has 370 + xiv pages.) (This double parenthetic note now reminds me of The Shallows and how the Web tends to divert from deeper thinking.)) However, I think a really good reader does a sort of converse operation on the author's mind, so my goal in reading a book is to think like the author... To a degree, I hope I'm still thinking like Laszlo Bock, notwithstanding?

Okay, so now I can return to the solutions that the google has stopped pursuing. I think the Google Books project (that I've already linked to) is a good entry point. This project was certainly consistent with the google's original high "mission" (or goal) of making the world's information accessible and useful. From here it appears that the project mostly came to naught on the rocks of the publishers' unbounded greed. Their economic models DEMAND more money, and there is no limit on that "more". (This is actually an aspect of the larger problem of the distortion of copyrights, but I've already been diverted too many times this morning...)

The same kind of focus on getting more money has changed the google's perspective of the company's mission. Now the most important "information" that has to be made "accessible" is the paid ads and the ultimate metric of "useful" is the sales figures of the corporations that are paying for the ads. Even the google has to follow the money, and the delusion of the free lunch allows us to think we aren't paying for it. (Another diversion into "#1 Freedom = (Meaningful - Coerced) Choice{5} â (Beer^4 | Speech | Trade)" beckons, but...)

Now I've popped the stack all the way back to the topic of thrashing... Hard to describe what it is... It's the internal chaos within the google that prevents deeper focus on the really hard problems? It's the diverting-but-shallow links that always beckon? (I've been fighting with many of them already...) It's the elitist closure that results from the googlers associating primarily with the tiny intersection of (1) extreme creatives, (2) super-productive engineers, and (3) money chasers?

Time for conclusions? I think there are a number of obvious problems that could be addressed, but I certainly wouldn't look to the google for solutions. At this point I can barely hope that their search results might lead in helpful directions. It also seems that the google itself has realized there is a problem and that they have reached their limits. At least that's my interpretation of the reorganization under Alphabet.

Wish I could go deeper, but my muse is already exhausted. Better luck next time?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Is Flexnet's Agent running on your computer?

Not the first time I've noticed this on Windows 10... In your Task Manager you may be able to find an agent.exe process that runs from time to time. It's identified as the Flexnet Remote Desktop Connection software. Uh? But I didn't know I was running a remote connection to my desktop. You?

How serious is this version of the Microsoft ppyware problem?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Shallow thinking hurts the google? 3

More precisely, is the google harmed by its own shallow-even-if-clever thinking? And what about Facebook, Amazon, Slashdot, #PresidentTweety, and you?

Let's start in Macedonia, eh? Already feels like ancient news, but: http://www.businessinsider.com/google-facebook-crack-down-adverts-appearing-fake-news-sites-us-election-trump-2016-11

Is it evil to further impoverish some desperate ex-shepherds just because they found a new way to make a living? (I confess I don't even know if they used to be shepherds, but it doesn't actually matter what legitimate jobs they used to have before they switched to the fake news business.) Is it their fault that the market demand for fake news was so skewed in favor of future #PresidentTweety?

Going a little deeper, I think they should be congratulated for seeing the market opportunity. The RoI for fake news was YUGE. Production costs are essentially zero. No research required, not even market research. Just throw everything against the wall and see what sticks, goes viral, and brings back those sweet, sweet, advertising dollars.

Surely the advertisers can't be blamed. They can't police the appearances of their ads or question the intelligence and gullibility of their potential customers.

Oh, so NOW the google (and Facebook) have realized that the crooked game had consequences, eh? Let's shut that barn door after all the cows have escaped!

Just reading How Google Works by Schmidt and Rosenberg, two hippos of the google who eagerly attack other hippos and their companies. However, in their description of the culture of their company they made the employees sound like gas molecules, or maybe plasma. Constantly bouncing around and interacting and doing things without any time for deeply thinking about the various mistakes or consequences that can probably be fixed later on.

Supporting fake news turned out to be a pretty massive problem. Later on turns out be be some years later. Assuming anyone is still around to google, eh?

There are times when deep thinking is called for. This used to be one of them?

I like to focus on solutions, and I have two to throw out. Details available upon polite request:

(1) A deep-thinking cap. For when you absolutely positively need a quiet place to think.
(2) A feedback form with a generalized "reporting evil" option. Now do something about it!

Me? I often think my shallow thinking often results in problems.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The war on deep thinking! 3

Some deep thinkers want to encourage other people to think more deeply. However, there are also deep thinkers who prefer other people to think less deeply, the better to manipulate and take advantage of those people.

The worst (and most dangerous) case is people who are shallow thinkers, but who think they are deep thinkers, and #PresidentTweety is one of those people. Trump is not at war with the media. He is at war with reality. Trump wants to create belief in a straw-man fake reality of horror and collapse so he can then claim improvements by tweaking the fake beliefs back towards reality.

At least Duterte killed (alleged) evildoers and Mussolini made the trains run on time! That's not the reality of America. (Well, actually the American trains aren't so reliable, but Trump's supporters in flyover country are the least likely to use trains.)

My favorite sig should make it obvious, but I'm on the side of more deep thinking. You have to think deeply to understand your free choices in a meaningful way and to understand the constraints and their sources. (That's why "freedom of speech" is so confusing to many people, because the "speech" may be opinions or lies just as freely as it may be true (even the so-called inconvenient truths).)

So far my best effort at a constructive "solution" is the design of the deep-thinking cap, but it's yet another "morally neutral" tool. While I think I would use the cap to support more deep thinking, maybe I would just use it to sleep a lot. Some people might use it to listen to more loud and mindless music while ignoring other people, even though the cap could be used as a better communication device, too.

--
#1 Freedom = (Meaningful - Coerced) Choice{5} â (Beer^4 | Speech | Trade)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Is YouTube a criminal enterprise? 5

[Preserved copy of a comment on another YouTube article:]

Here's a simple trick. Search for some popular show on YouTube, such as "Bill Maher Real Time" and then select the filter for "Upload date". Your results will include lots of pseudo-pirate computer-pwning hits.

These accounts are created constantly on YouTube and this has been going on for many years. A typical account will have lots of videos that are supposed to be the popular shows, but each video just says YouTube blocked the video and promises the suckers that they can get the actual videos by following the links and installing the software to pwn their computers into zombie networks. Generally annoying, but it especially bothers me that a lot of these videos are popular with children, and targeting innocent children strikes me as a higher level of EVIL, even for the monster that the google has become.

There are some obvious countermeasures, but rather than implement any of them, YouTube has chosen to tolerate, perhaps even encourage, this situation for some years. My conclusion is that YouTube believes they are deriving profits from supporting these criminals. (Perhaps they're selling them bandwidth?) I don't think google employees are naive and innocent as the children who are getting victimized, and it would make me a bad person to hope that their own kids click on the links.

Just reading Googled , another history of the google with emphasis on the "Don't be evil" thing. I think that google needs to hire a chief exorcist.

P.S. Actually thought of a another obvious solution approach while reading that book. The punchline is that the new solution actually feeds into legitimate profits for YouTube. ROFLMAO?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Slashdot archives journals, too? 17

Wanted to add a late item to the old Email Inquisition journal entry, only to find that it was archived. Annoying, and another feature I might want to help fund the fixing of, if only Slashdot had such an economic model. Here I was thinking that my journal was some sort of place to work on ideas that lasted longer than the main articles...

Oh well. I guess I can add the other comment to this entry?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Why China WANTS to unlink from America? 4

[Longer-term and slightly modified copy of a reaction to a dying discussion...]

Well, hey! Yours was one of the three insightful-moderated comments that actually struck me as slightly insightful. You hit a couple of key issues. Not deeply, but brevity is supposed to be wit's soul, eh? No wit in my verbosity.

None of the funny ones were funny. Didn't waste the time with informative or interesting, though I did some browser-level searches for the key terms related to what I would regard as actual insight on this issue. Came up completely dry. And of course the article and entire discussion have effectively timed out now, so making any comment is moot, eh?

What I was looking for was some discussion of how the international force vectors have been changed by this election. Seems obvious that Russia's international leverage will be greatly increased, and Iran benefits, too. If Trump delivers on a small fraction of his promises, then America's influence will drastically decrease, but I suppose we can hope he's just lying, as usual.

That sets the stage for considering China's response to the election. Insofar as the Chinese have any international ambitions (and I am certain they do), then their economic ties to America are now a disadvantage, even a vulnerability. They would much prefer to redirect their focus towards growing economies and perhaps even do what they can to push America into recession. China's new primary concern should be negotiating better deals with Russia. Should be easy to get concessions in Asia, but what will the Russians agree to regarding the Middle East and Africa?

But what about the economic damage to China? If you think about it for a second, you'll realize it is NO problem now. They'll just blame Trump for any and all problems and gladly stoke the nationalistic fires within China. The better not to buy your inferior American goods. Of course the Chinese economy couldn't continue to grow so rapidly, but now it's all the stupid American's fault. You can safely bet the Chinese people will agree.

Time to rethink your investment strategies. Obviously makers of wife beater t-shirts, anti-anxiety meds, and for-profit prisons should be hot stocks. However the big word is not "plastics". How can you get in on the ground floor of big poverty?

Will the Chinese even bother to compete in those areas? Maybe, but I bet they demand hard cash, and they probably won't even accept dollars.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Hillary's True Crime: Governing While Human! 16

Where does the rabid hatred of Hillary Clinton come from? I think I finally figured it out. My theory is "existential crime". Like "voting while Black" in the South (until the Voting Rights Act was passed) or like "driving while female" in today's Saudi Arabia. Hillary wants to govern while being human, and many (perhaps most) of Trump's supporters hate her for that. Some of the Hillary haters are specifically misogynists, and for them the existential crime is "governing while female", while others are religious fanatics, and for them the crime is "governing while Methodist", but these are minor variations. The point of existential crime is that it isn't anything she actually did, but a crime of "being" the wrong adjective.

Hillary thinks that government is made of human beings and they have government lives and human lives. She probably thinks the two of them should be kept apart as much as possible, even though she knows that separating them is hard. Her REAL mistake was allowing the two aspects of her life to be so thoroughly mixed in her email. Then she tried to separate them afterwards by instructing her lawyers to delete the email about her private life, but in the many thousands of email messages there were some ambiguous cases and her Republican enemies have seized upon this detail and spent MILLIONS of your taxpayer dollars searching for evidence that some of the deletions were NOT for privacy of her personal life but were actually intended to hide something nefarious. That's on top of the MILLIONS of your taxpayer dollars that they have spent investigating her over the last decades, and they haven't found anything yet--but if you hate her for existential reasons none of that matters, because she still exists.

If Hillary was a megalomaniac or narcissist this would not be a problem in the same way. Perhaps I'm going too far, but I'm guessing that Donald Trump thinks his personal life SHOULD be his government life. He probably thinks that ALL of his email should be preserved for prosperity, except for the nasty bits that would tarnish his legacy. Deleting that stuff is fine, even if there were a few crimes, because he thinks of himself as a kind of gawd who deserves worship. When you project from that perspective, Hillary MUST be trying to delete the nasty bits, because you think ALL of your personal bits are GREAT!

The anti-solution of "Governing While Gawd" is really bad. You should be thinking of dictatorships and the sociopathic megalomaniacs who run them. Today's best example is probably the little clown in North Korea, but there are other less clown-like dictators around the world. Or perhaps you're thinking of religious lunatics who sell their used bathwater as holy water, the way the clown-like Shoko Asahara did before Aum Shinrikyo imploded. However Trump has the potential to be a YUGE clown with the YUGEST delusions of grandeur. (In that regard, he actually reminds me of Nixon, but without any polish or dignity.)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Nobody Expects the Email Inquisition!

But if you use email, you should expect the Email Inquisition!

Actually, the Email Inquisition has already begun, though it isn't clear when the floodgates were opened. Probably after 9/11, when Cheney could get anything he wanted through Congress without any pretense of debate. What we're probably seeing now may well be a turf war. The FBI just wants email-inquisition parity with the NSA and CIA.

We might disagree on a lot of things about Hillary Clinton, but surely you agree that she would like to increase the privacy of email. However email privacy is like a contagious disease. If she wants to protect hers, then she has to protect yours. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon is a REAL contagion from the FBI's perspective.

If Hillary had won big, which now appears unlikely because of the FBI's sudden intrusion into the election, then she surely would have supported legislation to increase email privacy. Now, even if she still wins, it's apparently going to be a narrow presidential victory. She won't have any leverage or Congressional support for any major changes and we really will get four more years like President Obama's last eight. Can you really imagine finding 60 Senators who are willing to work together on ANYTHING? To protect YOUR privacy? ROFLMAO. You silly peasant.

Now try to imagine the ramifications of a Trump presidency. Do you think he will resist giving the FBI more tools to use against HIS numerous enemies? Heck, if he actually wins, he owes it all to the FBI, so he should give them whatever they want. For example, do you know any Muslims? Have you ever exchanged email with one of them? That will be enough to justify keeping a permanent record of ALL of your email. Heck, they'll have to keep copies of all of your spam, too, just in case some of the spam was really secret communications from the Russians working for Putin.

Just in case it isn't sufficiently obvious to the most casual observer (in the idiomatic sense this time), let me remind you of why privacy matters to freedom, per my old equation:

#1 Freedom = (Meaningful - Coerced) Choice{5} â (Beer^4 | Speech)

Killing your freedom is about limiting and controlling your choices. Sometimes it involves lying to you, as when the (sociopath) Donald tells you he really feels your economic pain, even though he's been fabulously wealthy since the day he was born and he has dedicated his entire life so far to making you poorer. However, more often it involves carrots and sticks. In discussions of privacy, the focus is usually on the sticks, how the dangerous information about your mistakes or personal flaws can be used to threaten and control you. However, the carrots are also important, because your interests, preferences, and even your strengths can be used against you to influence and control you, from the job you work at to the toothpaste you buy to the presidential candidates you vote for. Your email is FULL of carrots and sticks.

Everybody should expect the Email Inquisition!

[This is actually modified from another venue, so I guess this is mostly a reference copy. Your sincere and thoughtful (or at least thinking-based) comments and questions are welcome, but if they aren't based on what I actually wrote, then my response will probably be some number of ZZs. Such ZZs will basically signify that I saw your comment and dismissed it for some reason (though the most frequent reason seems to be for marking trolls' posts for ignoring without reading past the handle). [If Slashdot had a member-driven economic model, reducing the visibility of trolls would be high on the list of features I'd support.]]

User Journal

Journal Journal: Why Hillary is better than the Donald 126

Based on a comment from one of Slashdot's typically transient discussions:

You [quite probably a troll, so I'll leave him nameless] are exaggerating each of your claims against Hillary to the point where is is not possible to distinguish between your claims and an outright lie. Notwithstanding, your last paragraph seems sane enough that some dialog might be possible, though I think I'm wasting keystrokes and time.

I think that Hillary is constrained by reality. Her decades of public service make that quite clear. She is not perfect and has an adequate number of flaws, though I don't count ambition as one of them. To fix the "ambition problem" with presidential politics would require a page-one rewrite of the Constitution. She has also made mistakes. So have you and I. She has even been foolish enough to acknowledge some of her mistakes in public, which is practically political suicide these days. However, I think you can only learn from your mistakes by first acknowledging them.

Trump is quite different. If you have studied his history, it is quite clear he is very greedy and heartless. He might even be a sociopath, though that is obviously not a disqualification for the presidency or even for "successful" corporate leadership these days. However my largest concern is that he is also stupid and easily manipulated, as was proven in all three debates (and in MANY of his business dealings over the decades, if you have looked into them). I have found extremely little evidence that he even understands his mistakes, though he sometimes appears to have gotten better at hiring smarter lawyers to protect him from himself.

I think that Hillary is probably a center right lawyer who doesn't much like change, but accepts that it will happen. She takes a gradualist, evolutionary approach to solving problems. I personally prefer evolutionary change over revolutionary change. The outcome of either approach is uncertain, but revolution leaves a lot of corpses behind, while evolution usually allows the losers to die off peaceably. The dead people don't care if things got better or worse.

I do not know what Trump really believes on ANY issue. He obviously panders to his audience, and he has made statements on every side of every issue. Because of the self-contradictions, it is absolutely certain that he is lying to many of his supporters, but each of them believes he is lying to the others. Though Trump frequently advocates revolution, I don't know if he believes that, but it is clear that many of his supporters want one (or more).

You raised the specific issue of war. As an honorably discharged veteran, the son of a 100% disabled veteran, and being named for an uncle who died fighting the fascists, I really don't like war. However, I do think there are some things you have to fight for, even at risk of an escalation to war. From the cowardly perspective, I suppose Trump is safer, because it would probably be easier to manipulate him so as to defeat America without any need for war.

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Journal Journal: Value of voting? Even in winner-take-all elections? 16

The continuation of this discussion: https://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=9707139&cid=53004045

I think that any winner-take-all system (including instant run-off) is going to destroy a party's ideology, because for every "normal" issue the voters are going to be distributed on a bell curve. Actually, it is possible to imagine 3D or higher issues, but that's not how it works in practice as the elements and dimensions are reduced to the minimum in search of clarity (or suitability for public debate?). Black-and-white binary issues are quite rare in the real world.

Assume that you start with two politicians discussing an issue. Then each of them is motivated to change his position towards the middle to capture the largest number of voters. If he crosses the middle, then he may start losing the small tail of voters "far behind" his new position, and that's where you seem to be. However, because you are in the small tail, it's still a winning election strategy, and you're more likely to be "neutralized" by some extremist on the other end who is equally offended by the politician who started on his side before moving to the center.

Today's so-called Republicans tried to "fix" the problem by moving the goalposts. That's more like rigging the game. They quit worrying about their actual beliefs that could be rationally justified and just started each discussion from the most extreme position on each issue. Essentially they were trying to redefine the bell curves more in their favor, but they have completely fallen off the cliff at this point. In other words, they started each discussion by lying about what they really believed, but instead just said whatever was most distant from their political opponents. The party of Honest Abe has been taken over by right wing extremists, anti-government fanatics, and various strains of haters. Not all of their voters, but definitely the entire leadership. GOP party-line discipline has become more extreme than within Lenin's Bolshevik Party.

At this point, the internal strain has become so severe that the so-called Republicans are alienating a key constituency, the people who always vote the same way. The evidence indicates that most people prefer to repeat their last vote rather than admit they were wrong. (That's the key to gerrymandering, by the way.) About 60% of the voters have been regarded as predetermined voters. Trump is actually flipping many of them because he focused so strongly on the extremists. Inertia notwithstanding, I am increasingly unable to see how any moderate person is still willing to call himself a Republican.

I think that coalitions help, though some of that is by venting off the extremists into their own parties. They still feel like they are represented even though the votes of their representatives are almost never decisive. However, perhaps the larger problem is with direct democracy itself. It doesn't scale, and I'm increasingly in favor of scalable hierarchical systems where your votes are actually more meaningful.

You may be familiar with the economists' analysis? It is so unlikely that your vote will matter that any other use of your time is better than voting. Economists are supposedly good at figuring out prices, but not so good at real values. I'd prefer a mathematical approach... How many times would you have to vote before one of your votes would turn out to be decisive? It's kind of like the birthday paradox. With two people, the chance that the 2nd person has a different birthday is 364/365, which is quite small, but as you add more people, you multiply 364/365 by 363/365 by 362/365 by... Around 30 people, you're almost sure to have a match, and you can use the same approach (but with more complicated math for multiple races in each election) to figure out when you would actually get to pick a winner.

Thank you for the provocation of my thoughts. Seems heavy enough to be worth porting to my journal...

User Journal

Journal Journal: WikiLeaks has Trump's tax returns! 25

Just joking. This is only a thought experiment. Had this been an actual emergency, you would have seen it on Twitter already. Notwithstanding...

What if WikiLeaks released the plausible, highly embarrassing, but possibly fake tax returns of Donald J Trump?

(1) Trump would still refuse to release his tax returns?

(2) Trump would release his tax returns and he would be helped by the resulting cloud of confusion.

(3) Trump would be hurt by the spotlight.

(4) Cowboy Neal already has the results of the audit!

Just a thought experiment, but remembering how they handled Dan Rather and how WikiLeaks works, I suspect Assange is already sitting on the Donald's tax returns...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ask Slashdot: What "rights" did Microsoft claim today? 1

What does the new MS Services Agreement and Privacy Statement REALLY mean?

Feels like ancient history, but do you remember "Where do you want to go today?" According to Wikipedia that was their second global campaign, so on the one hand, the beast knows we want freedom, but on the other hand is the EULA and "Services Agreement and Privacy Statement" and fiendish friends.

I am not a lawyer, so I have no idea what it means. I'm sure the old one wasn't perfect, but nothing is. I'm strongly suspicious the new one is more strongly in Microsoft's favor, but that's just speculation.

Googling for analysis comes up dry, but this is an obvious case of professional courtesy. There probably are some insightful websites out there, but if the google helps us find the Microsoft ones, then Microsoft will put more effort into making sure Bing returns the corresponding results about the google, eh?

Insights? Suggestions? Where are the (significant) changes and what do they really mean? How doth Microsoft profit? And of course...

Where do I want to get screwed today?

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