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Comment Hades 2026 (Score 1) 214

Last Week Tonight Winter Olympics 2022

The ending here is not one of his best, but the two bits with Brian Williams are priceless. The other good bit: 7000 pages of host-nation demands.

Apart from the women's hockey finals, I can hardly recall the last minute of Olympic coverage I've watched in ten years, just because I hate IOC with the burning intensity of a thousand suns.

You might think I'm exaggerating, but consider that it's only one sun per seven pages of arrogance from geriatric gargoyles that even the French don't want.

Comment Re:Welcome to 2014 (Score 1) 53

Punch bug!

X just released the most advanced Y yesterday.

We used to play this game in the seventies where if you were the first person to spot a VW Beetle, you got to punch the person beside you in the side of their arm.

The CMOS transistor was invented in the year of my birth (I guess I'm dating myself) and had a good fifty year run, now officially ended with even the IEEE is publishing articles pronouncing "the industry roadmap is dead, Jim". For pretty much the whole of that time, whatever was announced yesterday was pretty much guaranteed to leapfrog any product announced six months prior. Of course, this was always accompanied by the fanfare of snivellers announcing that Red (or Green) was back in the saddle, on top of the world, once again.

Now we're at the top of the CMOS maturity curve, where the old leapfrog game is no longer the dominant paradigm. Anyone determining fitness of purpose by some aggregated synthetic benchmark is not long for this world, as an employed person. Take Nvidia, for example, which benchmarks at 0 fps after you drill out the binary blob. How much else does that synthetic benchmark not capture?

One wonders, too, how the future trolls will continue to employ themselves. Having to preface your post with an explanation of a cultural meme from the 1970s will likely take some starch out of the activity.

What's an old troll supposed to do, as this grand old steamship empties out? After younger and more vigorous trolls have established themselves on Twitter or—gasp—Snapchat?

Old Man Billy Goatee probably sticks around and fires up that old-timey radio normally reserved for sending S-O-S calls in distant corners of the world where time stands still, to tap out in Morse code "X just released the most advanced Y yesterday", hoping against nostalgic hope that some isolated South Pacific islander loses his shit, and spends an entire week jamming every ham channel available with irrepressible indignant outrage.

Here's another thing. Period costumes are pricey to maintain. They need to be dry-cleaned regularly, or soon they begin to smell.

Comment Re:how about conference with relevant languages (Score 1) 86

niche and egghead languages aren't how the world at large does things. Of those languages in summary, Java is used. Perl used to be but Larry has been doing wonderful job of letting it die and few would choose that for new infrastructure. the rest are fads

No, no, and no.

Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.
        — Edsger W. Dijkstra

I've never 100% agreed with this quote. A big chunk of computer science is about building better telescopes; and so it is with astronomy, too, that a not-insignificant part involves building better computers.

However, the real currency of the world is ideas.

Innovative computer languages express ideas about how the discipline of programming might be made better. People who study computer languages do so to prioritise ideas over mere skills, not without good motivation.

There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.
                — Peter Drucker

This sentiment motivated one of the all time best ideas in computer science.

The real hero of programming is the one who writes negative code.
                — Douglas McIlroy

Unfortunately, we could have learned this lesson centuries sooner, but for some narcissistic revisionism.

If I have seen further, it is by standing on giant moraines of revolutions discarded.
                — Isaac Newton (first draft)

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the boulders of giants.
                — Isaac Newton (second draft)

Larry's glacial pace may yet reshape the landscape in a profound way. Perhaps Camelia is the moulder of giants. Time will tell.

Comment Re:In other words, Moore's law will continue (Score 1) 128

And Moore's law has never been about performance.

I don't get the selective pedantry, here. There never was a Moore's "law" about the scaling of transistors over time. Pedantically, it probably should be called Moore's prescient, off-hand, transistor-scaling extrapolation. What ultimately came to be termed "Moore's law" never had a particularly strong basis in what Moore actually said.

Even then, The Moore Attribution (thank you, Mr Ludlum) behaved in practice more like Moore's Moneylust Mandate (this was all about performance). Hey, everyone, let's all draw a straight line, then conga dance our way into the penthouse suite!

For the last ten years or so, we've all been hearing a lot of: oh, no, we actually made it under the pole again—as we always do—any perception to the contrary is probably due to the diffraction limit of human vision.

Comment Re:Ninety-nine percent of the land is not used ??? (Score 1) 203

He loses a lot of credibility with this statement.

People get old, you know.

In all, the researchers calculated, those who completed at least some of these booster sessions were forty-eight-per-cent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia after ten years than their peers in the control group. Fake it to maintain it, meanwhile, appeared to have no effect.

The man is rapidly becoming a parody of whatever it was he once accomplished.

Comment Re:Headphone Jack is Pretty Crappy (Score 5, Insightful) 530

It wears out ridiculously fast.

For what value of "ridiculously"? I don't have a single 3.5 mm jack in the house with bad connection poltergeists.

But then, I'm still running an NAD 7140 from the 1980s as my stereo amplifier. Had to go in there last week with electrical contact cleaner to take the crackle out of the volume and balance pots, but I'm sure the audio jack still works perfectly. I'd have replaced some of the electrolytics, too, if my ears could hear any defects.

Obviously, though, I'm not a desirable Apple customer on several counts (ability to fix things myself, willingness to keep using unfashionable equipment that still works fine, ability to tell whether unfashionable equipment still works fine), so there is that.

Comment Re:ethical drift (Score 1) 326

I should have included the blurb in my post above.

Based on a recent co-authored paper, Wong argues that the paperwork and training burden on U.S. military officers requires dishonesty—it is simply impossible to comply with all the requirements. This creates a tension for an institution that prides itself on honesty, trust, and integrity. The conversation closes with suggestions for how the military might reform the compliance and requirement process.

What I recall from the episode is that by the end they both dodge the central question: in modern democratic society its politically impossible to give an honest answer to a special interest group (we'd love to add your special box to our form-filling and training rotation, but we simply don't have the manpower available to properly comply).

They do talk a little bit about improving internal honesty, but that remains far from the root cause.

Comment ethical drift (Score 1) 326

This is one of my favourite EconTalk episodes of all time.

The guest talks about the "ethical drift" resulting from the imposition of an impossible burden. (My favourite EconTalk episodes are usually the ones where Russ is surprised to discover that the world works as well as it does. In this one, he's shocked by the military's willingness to engage in self-criticism.)

Leonard Wong on Honesty and Ethics in the Military

This one is not unbearably polemic for a general audience, and it's tremendously apropos.

Comment Re:I'm totally shocked... (Score 1) 611

The one exception to this union employees, since their contracts are usually tied to minimum wage.

Usually in real life? Or usually in what you post?

It would be pretty funny if the government passed two minimum wages. Say one for regularly scheduled work during regular working hours, and a different one for jerk-around shift work. Go, unions, go.

Even with a PhD in economics, it's hard to sort out the wins from the losses concerning minimum wage—at least not without first applying a clarifying, buttery lens of ideology.

Every economic scheme redraws the map of winners and losers, both in the short term during the adjustment period, and in the long term in the equilibrium condition. Your analysis of the winners and losers strikes me as being about as reliable as a Magic Eight Ball. It's a Potemkin village of a model of a simplification.

With some actual lumber, you could also have pointed out that many contractual elements of society make a sharp distinction between "employed" and "not employed", neither of which is an entirely appropriate term when you're making $3/hour.

The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery?

All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don't like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.

Employed, or not employed? Are they counted in the jobs statistics, or not counted in the jobs statistics?

Maybe we should split the difference and settle on a minimum wage at which your economic relationship counts as having a real job. Then we could have the jobless rate as one statistic (including everyone stuck in a McJob), and the McJobless rate counting only those who don't even have a proper McJob (the truly unemployed, as well as the private prison workforce compensated in derisive glass beads).

I, for one, would dearly enjoy hearing some politician explain how the jobless rate went up by 5%, while the McJobless rate when down by 10% in the same reporting period. For the third consecutive time.

Sure, pay the underclass like shit. We don't need no stinking minimum wage. But integrate it into the political discourse until the facts of life in upwardly mobile America are discussed regularly on Fox News in all their naked glory.

Comment Re:Who? (Score 1) 153

Says more about you than Softbank.

ChemChina to buy Syngenta in $43 billion deal, from February 2016.

Haven't heard of ChemChina?

Says more about you than ChemChina.

Haven't heard of Syngenta?

Says more about you than Syngenta.

Bet you have heard of Monsanto, which tried to buy Syngenta twice in 2015.

Says more about your paranoid, eco-aunt than it says about you.

Comment wide tall tall (Score 1) 326

Three displays: a 22" in landscape (fits my desk better), and a pair of 24" displays in portrait.

I'm running PC-BSD on my desktop, so my hardware choices are conservative.

Lately the 8 GB limit of my aging desktop box (though extremely quiet and reliable) is proving problematic, so I'm in the process of flipping my ZFS server box (Sandy Bridge Xeon with 32 GB ECC) to become my new desktop. The server itself will downgrade slightly to a second-hand box I picked up recently, a quad core Xeon with 24 GB of ECC.

I expect to use DTrace fairly heavily under Bhyve once 11 comes out, and I've heard rumours that this is only 99.99% stable, so I don't intend to use my server for this purpose, and only one of my two Xeons has the nested page table extensions required by Bhyve, so the fancier machine becomes my new desktop per force, not that my greedy side is complaining much.

Now that I've suffered through the PC-BSD / TrueOS transition all around (not painful, but not exactly free either) you'll pry boot environments out of my cold, dead hands.

But the simplest summary is this: wide + tall + tall + ZFS + boot environments.

My desktop is running a ZFS mirror with two 500 GB drives (both with five years power-on time) and just a couple of weeks ago ZFS started to autocorrect a block or two from one of the drives on each scrub. Nothing shows up in Smartmon, except the age.

No sudden rush to finish this transition project. I've got backups, and early warning, and verified live data.

Comment Re:Stupid python comment (Score 4, Insightful) 163

Agreed. But sadly a lot of coders think comments are for sissies, so given that I'd sooner have to read their uncomment mess in python than perl.

Every language debate on Slashdot eventually winds up here.

Some programmers hate their peers. These programmers choose languages that are good for hating your peers (Java, Python).

Some programmers admire their peers. These people write "in my shop we've been using C++ for a decade now, and while it's far from a perfect language, we've never really had a problem with it".

Thesis: Many of the people who hate their peers suck as teachers.

True? False? Hard to say.

Personally, I know that I like my peers a lot more when I unselfishly contribute to their growth as programmers. But, hey, suit yourself. Sit in the corner all alone reading 50 lines of pablum, where 10 lines of well judged code would have done the job instead, without even lapsing into arcane idiom.

My personal hell is paved with pablum.

Comment Re:Well, I _wanted_ to like her. (Score 2) 175

STV is not the only want to fix the system. Just about any type of ranked/preferential voting would be 1,000 times better than what we use now.

Yes, first-past-the-post is the worst form of voting, including all the others (modulo coercion).

But really, you can't fix the electoral process without also fixing how legislation is tabled (death to the omnibus bill), otherwise a truly representative congress becomes gridlocked on process.

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