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Comment Re:You need to do a bit of research. (Score 1) 128

Star Trek Continues also violates those same guidelines (high-quality props/sets/uniforms instead of toy-store quality items, professional acting/directing/scriptwriting

Have you seen Star Trek Continues? Cheesy plots, lousy acting, terrible effects and you can't tell me their props, uniforms and sets don't look like toys.

It's like a low-budget 1960s vision of space travel.

Comment Re:Whitespace takes the most space (Score 1) 138

To be considered Turing-complete, a language must be able to simulate a Turing machine - and that's actually impossible, since it can never meet the "infinite tape" requirement.

Languages are not machines. Languages have no memory limitations, and therefore have no trouble simulating a Turing machine.

The fact that we run code written in those languages on finite machines does not change the Turing-complete nature of the languages.

Comment Re:Now lets see. (Score 5, Interesting) 1409

You might be interested in reading "American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America", by Colin Woodard. The author argues that there are 11 distinct cultures in North America, which don't align neatly with state (or even national) boundaries, and that US politics is primarily a competition between two shifting coalitions of these 11 cultures, coalitions anchored in the Yankee culture (Democrats) and the Deep South culture (Republicans). One value that both of those cultures hold in common is authoritarianism, though of very different forms.

Yankeedom is built around and values a communitarian form of authoritarianism, derived largely from its Puritanical heritage. Even though the religious aspects of Yankee Puritanism have gone away, they've been replaced by a secular form of the same thing, which is the notion that while it's critical that the people as a whole have "independence", meaning they can form their own assemblies and regulate themselves, the individual should willingly subjugate his or her own will to that of the community. In Puritan days, this was severe; almost any form of disagreement with the community's religious and social values resulted in severe punishment. Individual freedom was not valued, and tolerance for alternative views was extremely low. Also, Yankeedom reveres education, and therefore the fruits of education, including progressiveness.

The Deep South is built around and values a hierarchical form of very strict authoritarianism, derived from that region's slaveholding culture, which enabled it to establish an essentially feudal model of lordly manors occupied by elegant idlers, supported by masses of lower classes. The southern planters placed tremendous value on "liberty" but it was the old Greek and Roman notion of liberty, which is available only to those at the top. The south took the "lower classes" notion a bit further than feudal lords with their serfs, but the southern class-based society wasn't just "planters" and "slaves", there was also a large underclass of what we might now call white trash, which was also expected to be subservient. What's perhaps odd about the old Deep Southern notions of hierarchy is that they were so deeply embedded in the society that although the underclasses chafed a bit, they also grew to expect a strong hierarchy and to respect their aristocratic leaders.

So, the two core cultures around which our political battles revolve are both authoritarians. Their allied cultures are less authoritarian, but it's the core cultures that hold the whip hand. In particular the left coast is very big on individual freedom and self-realization, but also has its roots in Yankeedom, including the trust in education and progress, which makes is a natural ally of the Yankee culture even though they disagree on individual freedom. Similarly, the far west culture is very libertarian but allies with the deep south because of its opposition to Yankeedom, rather than because it likes the southern authoritarianism.

Anyway, that's a flavor of what's in the book. You probably won't agree with all of it (I don't), but a lot of it makes a great deal of sense and I found that it really illuminates my understanding of the major political dynamics in the US, and has helped me understand why there is this strong streak of authoritarianism in a country that purportedly values freedom and independence.

Comment "Quiet title action" (Score 4, Interesting) 55

The previous story about Zuckerberg's lawsuit caused me to do a little research. I have never thought much of the man, but there's really nothing wrong with the court action he's taken in Hawaii. What he's doing is a an "action to quiet title". Basically, he has already purchased the plots of land in question, from the majority owners. The problem is that the title to this land is unclear, because there are also many minority owners, most of whom really have no idea they own anything.

An action to quiet title is a court proceeding used to deal with such fuzzy ownership situations, to clarify them so that clear and unambiguous ownership can be established. It involves a process to find and identify owners so they can be negotiated with, or in the event they can't be found to legally remove their ownership to clear up the title. That last bit is unfortunate, but there's really no other way in cases where the ownership in question goes back many generations and has never been documented. The alternative is to leave the legal ownership of the property in limbo. I guess Zuck could do that, but if I were in his shoes I wouldn't want that... and I know because I am more or less in his shoes.

My wife inherited some property from her father. We have a "quit claim" deed that legally transfers the property to us, and my father-in-law had a quit claim deed from the previous owner, and so on back several steps. In our case, all of this was documented and recorded with the county (which is *not* the case with Zuckerberg's land -- so we have a much better position). Our problem is twofold: First, quit claim deeds are not warranty deeds, which means that while they're legal, they are only evidence of ownership, not a guarantee of ownership. Second, the legal description of the property boundaries was changed a few decades ago, and it's not completely clear if the new description actually matches the old one.

In our case, odds are very good that a title company can simply research the past sequence of titles, verify that everything is good, and issue us a warranty deed which guarantees our ownership. BUT there is a possibility that the research may find that there is additional cloudiness in the ownership, in which case we'll have to file an action to quiet title to flush out any other claims to the land and, if they can't be found within a certain time period (a year, I think?), to get a court ruling that we unambiguously hold title to the land.

This is a pretty common thing, and it's really not at all abusive.

Comment Re:Sad (Score 1) 378

3D shot/rendered correctly does add to the enjoyment of a film for many people.

Not me. I've seen a fair number of 3D movies in theaters, but I really prefer 2D. 3D doesn't add anything for me. I can appreciate the work and effort it takes to do it well, and to make it "natural", and on good equipment that outputs enough light it doesn't do any harm to the visuals... but it doesn't add to the story, and doesn't really improve the visuals. Beautiful cinematography is good either way, and nearly a century of practice has taught cinematographers (and photographers) how to depict great depth on a flat screen. Not that the human eye has any parallax-derived depth perception beyond a few dozen feet anyway.

So, what does 3D do? It requires me to wear glasses over my glasses, and it costs more. I suppose some people must like it or theaters wouldn't be able to charge a premium for it, but I pick the 2D showing unless there isn't one available at a convenient time.

Comment Re:Sad end to a great operating system (Score 1) 119

Focusing on the Alpha was also a mistake. People learned UNIX by running it on cheap machines. Even during the heyday of proprietary UNIX systems, people were learning BSD on the Amiga and then going to work on SunOS, AIX, or whatever. In the i386, Intel added the 4-ring protection model to x86 because DEC said that they needed it for VMS. Instead of porting from VAX to i386, they ported to Alpha (which only had two rings). If they'd made a cheaper uniprocessor VMS (maybe missing some of the clustering features), they'd have had an entry-level system for people to learn about the system. Instead, you had 100 people who knew UNIX for every one who knew VMS and this made it a no brainer to use UNIX.

Comment Re:Sad end to a great operating system (Score 1) 119

No, but more importantly it was never ported to the PDP-11. The Multics process and library model required a lot more from the memory management unit than most modern commodity hardware provides, whereas UNIX ran on systems with no MMU at all. You could run UNIX on a toy computer, even if you couldn't afford something that could run Multics. That's a key lesson for tech companies: watch out for competitors eating the low end of your market because economies of scale matter.

Comment Re:saving money (Score 1) 109

Is that US-only or is that the story they are telling?

I look at Spain and Italy and Greece and while they didn't have the best economy to start with, it was the bailouts that did them in.

I also wonder, where did these billions come from? The stock exchange is a zero-sum game. So who paid these billions to the taxpayer?

Comment Re:HBO needs to get its head back in the game (Score 1) 145

I found that once I stopped having a TV, I also stopped being bombarded with adverts for TV shows and movies, and I stopped caring about whether I was watching something new or something 5-10 years after release. I wonder how much this will become the norm as more people switch from broadcast TV to other media.

Comment Re:HBO needs to get its head back in the game (Score 1) 145

The HBO subscription is only worth it if you have a peer group that also has an HBO subscription and so it's important to watch things at the same time as them. I stopped buying DVDs about 10 years ago when renting became a lot cheaper than buying, but I've recently started again with boxed sets. Even if I only watch each episode once, it's cheaper than any of the streaming options, plus they're practically DRM free (as in, the DRM is so broken that it may as well not exist) and I can copy them to a mobile device for watching on long trips. Oh, and I get to wait until there are multiple years of something before I watch it.

I do wonder a bit what would happen to the economics of TV series production if most people did this. You'd expect a TV show to make a loss for the first few years, but then be profitable over a longer time, which is a very different model from the current mode of any profits after the first year are a nice bonus, but not factored into the accounting calculations.

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