Re: coercion in the US is easy
>>- Do not incriminate yourself and face life without parole
>>- Reveal all and possibly get out in 15-20 years.
>>Faced with that choice... which one would you go for?
The only logical one: Revolution.
4617 posts • joined 26 Jul 2008
I for one am sick to death of people thinking that "Godwin's Law" posts are either especially insightful or deeply witty. Please! Can we just get through a single thread without a bunch of people waiting to leap in and go "GODWIN'S LAW!"
You know what Nazi Germany was, by the way? State-managed corporatism. I.e. if the ruling party said 'do something', a company better do it regardless of whether they received adequate payment or if it was just a legal requirement. Not unlike the US government telling Apple they must develop new firmware just because the FBI wants it.
>>"My idea is this :- install one of these hydrogen producing units close by the wind turbines."
Works much better with nuclear. You have more power and also ready supply of hot water for more efficient electrolysis. Nuclear is more predictable than Wind, but similarly has a problem with variability only in nuclear's case it results from variability of demand, not production, as it doesn't ramp up and down very efficiently. Producing hydrogen enables a power station to usefully run at above demand and thus avoid the variability of demand issue.
>>OK, where's the WATER gonna come from, then? There's already enough flak about used coolant water from nuclear plants (it's a lot warmer coming out of the plant) which has knock-on effects downstream Now you're going to consume some of that water to produce hydrogen gas, too?"
The water being hotter after it's been used to cool a nuclear power station is a PLUS. High temperature electroloysis is much more efficient than trying to do the same with cool water. And if you're concerned about downstream effects of heated water then consumption of that water to make hydrogen is an even greater benefit.
>>Hydrogen has pretty much all the worst attributes you can imagine from a fuel: low energy density
But higher energy density than a battery.
>>extremely high volatility
But disperses with high rapidity unlike petrol or natural gas which pools. And anyway, it can certainly be made safe enough.
>>and its tiny molecules can leak through almost anything. What good is it if after two weeks in the garage your fuel tank is empty?
That would be a problem. But what if it lost 0.2% of a tank per day for the first week and then that rate increasingly dropped even further because as tank pressure reduces so does the loss rate? Your figure is an arbitrary example, not a calculation. How about if I said that after six weeks in your garage it would be down to 25%. That's something many people would be happy to live with. And I'm sure a portable hydrogen tank that you could buy (and return the empty "bottle" for 95% of your money back) would be a common enough thing. You can't use your final point as a valid counter-argument if it's not based on actual practical usage data because it's one of those things that could be anywhere from show-stopper to non-issue depending...
Remember, if you're comparing HFCs to Petrol, then Petrol is mostly going to have an advantage in pure performance both because of inherent reasons and because it's a very mature technology. But if you take the fact that we need to move away from petrol vehicles as a given, then you're looking at batteries or HFCs most probably. And HFCs look much more promising to me. Indeed, the most vicious attacks on HFCs, ime, come from battery proponents who get angry about a competitor in the clean vehicle market. Personally I think HFCVs look great - imagine London where all vehicles emitted small amounts of distilled water instead of petrol fumes!
>>"Is there actually a vehicle fuel that is a worse combination of expensive to produce, dangerous to store, and difficult to supply than hydrogen?"
Uranium, natural gas, wind power... These three all tick some of your boxes. Uranium ticks all three (and yes, it is a "vehicle fuel" - we have ships and submarines that both use it). Natural gas is expensive to produce but benefits from massive economies of scale. But high-temperature hydrogen electrolysis would actually be easier, believe it or not. Combine it with a nuclear power station that has both hot water and surplus energy (nuclear power has a very inefficient ramp-up / ramp-down process so you want to keep it at a stable rate. Combine that with the fact that demand is variable and you're basically choosing whether to have an energy surfeit or an energy defecit. Hydrogen turns that awkward choice into a win by giving you something useful to do with the surplus); you never have to drill an undersea well or cap a runaway well in California. Natural gas and petrol also tick your dangerous to store requirement which might surprise you. But a hydrogen leak just vanishes straight upwards. It's gone before you can say "low atomic weight". Natural gas and petrol fumes are both heavier than air. They pool and result in the risk of an explosive fireball.
As to Wind Power - monstrously expensive, horribly inefficient. And viable mainly because we pay a 16% surcharge on our power bills so that the owners of Wind companies can make money.
So in answer to your question, yes, I can think of at least three.
That's only because it's cheap to do right now. The same can be said of charging batteries from fossil fuel powerstations. The point with both batteries AND hydrogen fuel-cells, is that you can swap both to be produced from clean energy sources when you have them. Actually, one of the best ways to do it is electrolysis of heated water which is much more efficient. Guess what nuclear power stations have? Lots of power and water for cooling...
Actually, even with the production of hydrogen from oil, there's still a substantial saving. Modern power-plants have a lot of very good technology to reduce emissions. Doing the conversion of fuel to energy centrally results in a Hell of a lot fewer emissions than every individual car being its own little, inefficient mobile power-plant.
The swappable tanks is half of a good idea. It's actually more appropriate for electric vehicles because batteries take a long time to charge. Filling a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle can be extremely fast. Faster than petrol, in fact, but certainly no worse. Where your idea is very good is not putting the tanks into the cars, but being able to hook them into the petrol station so that a petrol station could start rolling this out quickly without having to go through the costs and disruption of fitting underground hydrogen tanks next to the petrol ones.
Initial demand for hydrogen is low. Having a small, above ground hydrogen tank that could be dropped off / filled is an easy first-step toward rolling it out. After all, we already have petrol stations for the infrastructure. Adding or replacing a single pump with a hydrogen one is not that big of a deal.
Yep. Uber are, imo, a stunning example of Right Time, Right Place, Wrong Company. With easy, mobile Internet access and the technology to automate hand-off of requests for a service, applying that to taxis is all but inevitable. As Charles Fort said: "It's Steam Engine Time". I.e. when the appropriate technological basis and environment exists, some "inventions" just grow out of that environment almost inevitably.
The idea of Uber isn't original. Many have talked about such a thing long before Uber came to be. But it is the right time for this idea. I just think it's deeply unfortunate that a company as unpleasant as Uber are the ones who win the business lottery to get it.
Question - can a driver for Uber also be a driver for Lyft? Or are there clauses in the employment contract that forbid this?
Particularly alarming is when she states that they want to protect us not just from "violent extremism", but also from "non-violent extremism". What exactly is "non-violent extremism"? Opinions? Strikes? Protest marches?
I get that Theresa May will protect me from "terrorists". But who will protect me from Theresa May.
Agreed. There are two immediately obvious problems with this, (three if you count it wont stop teenagers looking at porn). The first is that whatever the ostensible aim of this, the effect is to track people's porn viewing habits. That's a pretty big deal in a society like ours. Is it right or even smart that the government should build such profiles of people throughout their life? Call it exclusion of children, but you could more accurately call it identification of visitor.
Second big problem is that this sets up the government as arbiters of what is or isn't acceptable viewing. Aside from any debates about porn, it would be inevitably amended into a general category of "Bad Material". Political and social information and opinions would rapidly be placed into the category, starting with those that "everybody knows" are bad, and ending... well, somewhere else I would bet.
Actually, sexuality and its repression is addressed in the novel 1984 by Orwell. Prostitution was considered by the Party to be positive because it dissociated the act of sex from the act of love. When Winston and Julia get together they view their love-making as a protest. It describes sex as "Their embrace had been a battle, the climax a victory. It was a blow struck against the Party. It was a political act.”
Historically in every case that I can think of, totalitarianism has included sexual oppression. Why is a broader question, but it seems to me that a totalitarian state has no natural limit to its desire to control. Its existence depends wholly on its ability to intimidate and control the citizenry and discourage any form of deviation from the norm. Totalitarianism is traditionally inseparable from conformity. Sexual choices are one of the most basic of freedoms - maybe the most. Totalitarian regimes and those with aspirations as such, always seek to interfere.
In short, censoring "obscenity" is very much in the tradition of Orwellian. As is deciding that someone's sexuality is "obscenity" in the first place.
>>"I'd also guess the women that want to be in IT really want to be in IT (as there is so much stigma attached) as opposed to many men who just do it because they can just float along being mediocre and get away with it. I'd expect the men that really like IT are equally as good and committed."
I think there's some truth to that. Not so much that men can get by being mediocre (I've known some less than stellar female programmers on rare occasions, too). But that it can feel more of a deliberate choice to get into IT as a woman. You're probably less likely to just drift into it. I don't believe there's any difference in natural aptitude between the sexes for programming. But there may be a selection bias for this reason. I certainly wasn't just going along with my friends when I picked computers as my field.
>>"Women who declare they're women on github tend to write poorer code than those who don't"
So you're saying that if I had registered here with my real name (which is recognizably female) rather than h4rm0ny, it would be a sign that I was a poorer coder? What's the theory behind that hypothesis? And does it also apply to men who declare that they're men? Or would that be different because male is the presumed default or somesuch...?
Not because being a "nerd". That wasn't an issue in a UK school in the nineties. More just being one of the only girls on the course. I was the only girl doing a design and technology GCSE with around twenty boys (from memory - will probably be off). I was one of two girls in my Physics class. And there were about ten of us on the Computer Science course I did with two dropping out.
That's actually pretty hard. It's not nice being separate from most of your friends in several of your classes or being the odd one out. Thankfully, I think my case was at the extreme end. But it's definitely a very significant issue. I'm not a big fan of trying to correct the gender imbalance at the point of job application. Chiefly because I find quotas both offensive and unfair, but also because it's trying to fix a problem that happened years before. Provide more encouragement for young girls to take up technology subjects (in a non-patronizing way) and more female role-models, and that will do more to address sexism in the workplace in our sector than anything else. Prejudice against a minority is a lot safer than prejudice against an equal faction.
Going to preface this with two facts, which are that I'm a female in the programming industry and that my impressions are just those of my experiences personally and of female friends when we've discussed this. Putting that at the start so that people can lend as much or little weight to the following as they wish and acknowledging that it's not a scientific survey. That said, anecdote is still the singular of data so a few thoughts:
Firstly, whilst institutional sexism does exist, my encounters have always been based around a few bad eggs. Most of the people I've worked with it's not been an issue. However, those bad eggs do exist and sometimes they're in a position of power. So it happens.
Secondly, I find that it has varied by nationality and sector. Again, I'm emphasizing this is personal experience, but I have found it markedly worse in the US than here in the UK, and in turn the UK is worse than Germany where sexism seems to have largely vanished. (I know it probably exists, but I've never seen a hint of it in working with German companies). Where I have encountered it in the UK, it's been in the financial sectors and amongst sales people. The City (as they delightfully call it) still is rife with sexism. Thankfully I don't work there and don't want to. But I have female friends who have and the impression is not good. With regards Sales, it just seems to attract a lot of male-dominated, somewhat sleazy attitudes. Maybe it's the back-room deal / old boy network culture that predominates, but the Sales teams of big companies are where I've run into some truly repugnant sexism. And the only place where someone has called me "doll" in a work-place environment or told me in a meeting to make the coffee! (That didn't end well for anyone involved in that meeting including myself who was kept out of future meetings by various means).
In engineering and software departments and small companies, it's been fine. Including the USA on the whole. It's mainly those bad eggs rather than a sexist culture. And it's interesting that this survey is around online behaviour because in the workplace, the non-sexist majority have typically kept a lid on any sexist members of the team. Maybe it's online that they feel unrestrained enough to be open about their prejudices.
Anyway, anecdotal evidence without an asserted conclusion. It does exist in our industry and should continue to be chipped away at. It's about equal opportunity and meritocracy. That's the end goal, imo.
>>"I guess one alternative would be to make refusing to cooperate carry the same penalty as the crime being investigated, but that sounds pretty draconian, and would doubtless lead to much larger problems."
It does. For one, it's a very short step from refusing to co-operate and being an end-run around innocent until proven guilty. Basically, you decide someone is guilty (cannot prove it), they wont give you the evidence you want to show that they are guilty (they may or may not have such), you can apply a sentence as if they were guilty anyway.
There's a quote from an old movie: "A policeman's job is only easy in a police state." And that's something overlooked by the OP when they demand it be proven that this collection of data actually helps stop crime. It's a valid point, but of course if you collect data on everything you can find examples of it being useful sometimes. The real point is whether we are willing to accept these meagre benefits in exchange for giving the State massive power over us.
Violent crime is decreasing, we should be looking at less pressure to monitor and track everybody. Instead, we are seeing vastly more pressure to do so. Why is that? I leave that question for others.
>>"You shouldn't assume that because someone comes across as '... pretty confident and funny' in a business context they aren't 'on the spectrum'."
I think I should, because if you're that far down the "spectrum", it's meaningless. In fact, this reminds me an old film Donnie Darko where the kid is told they have to place different scenarios on a line between "Fear<======>Love" and him going nuts at the teacher because "it's not a line". This whole notion of a "spectrum" is misleading, like much of science that gets the lay-person treatment. There's an autistic spectrum, certainly. It's a medical thing. It's made up of different components like most medical diagnoses that apply to behaviour. If someone is "well adjusted, pretty confident and funny" (lets NOT change my wording for the sake of your argument, by the way so I've re-added the omitted part), then they've shown they are socially capable in routine circumstances. And you know what? That's how pretty much everyone is.
You say that you stick to the shops and petrol stations you know because you know the layout - you know what that is? Not Autism! It's at best a hang-up and everyone has some. I've known people who wont use toilets on a particular floor because the door is too far away from them to put their feet against if someone tried to enter, I've known people who wont write on the top line of a page, I've known people who need to check their front door is locked twice before they go out. None of these things place someone on a "spectrum". They're just minor social hang-ups and they're commonplace.
Autism is a serious condition. People who seem to want to self-apply some label to their minor issues and claim it as a medical issue bother me. When you tell me you continue to pay for services you don't need because you'd have to call someone to cancel it, I honestly just want to tell you to woman up and deal with it. You don't deserve a disability diagnosis for that. Someone who has real autism, or is in a wheelchair, or is deaf - they have a disability.
But honestly, this is getting off the point. The one I was making is that there isn't a correlation between social inability and being a good programmer. It's just an American TV show stereotype that some people take seriously. And I think part of that is because some people with social issues like it. I've known at least one person who played to it whether they were consciously doing so or otherwise. You think you're a Chinese Room (an old thought experiment you can look up) because you analyse a meeting before you go in and decide you need to tell some jokes at some point. That's basically called being a teenager. People go through that, working out approaches to small talk, etc. Eventually people naturalize it the same way they naturalize driving a car. It's not some special case that applies to you. It's what nearly everyone went through or is going through. The only people who never did that are children because they haven't reached the stage of externalizing their social behaviour, yet.
>>"A good programmer strips away the superfluous and sees the underlying task for the pattern it takes, and then solves it the same way they solved that issue last time. And the time before. Good code is dull code."
No. A good programmer learns to abstract, you got that part right. It's called requirements analysis. But good code is elegant not dull, and solving something the same you did before, and the time before that... This is not a sign of being a good programmer, it's a sign of lazy thinking. You solve it in the way that is appropriate to the current requirements with the latest best approaches and tools. Both requirements and tools are changing all the time. Your statement is one of the things I loathe about brining in personality issues to engineering. It's sticking a label on something and then bringing in baggage to an unrelated area based on that label. Imagination and rigour - these are the core elements of a good programmer and neither is related to social impairment.
I have worked in some big companies with many excellent programmers. (Yes, I'm old enough to call them programmers rather than developers). Most of them were very talented, a handful of them were staggeringly so. Of these very gifted people, related to those I would call socially impaired, I saw zero positive correlation. I can recall one person who had noticeable trouble relating to people and was very gifted, I recall more who were equally gifted and well-adjusted and often pretty confident and funny. There are plenty of people with the stereotypical Asperger's personality who are not super gifted. Most of them, in fact, just like everyone else. I've worked with people with average skills at best who thought they were some sort of genius hacker because they had a beard and were rude. And of course there are people with that personality type who aren't very bright at all. You used to be able to find them on the train station platforms taking down the numbers of trains. Though you can't get onto a platform without a ticket these days so they must have gone somewhere else. Probably playing WoW, I would guess as an easy way to fill their need for collecting numbers in a way they can handle.
I don't know why or how this stereotype propagates so widely. I'm equally torn between blaming American TV and movies where you can't escape socially disadvantaged IT wunderkind and pretty or handsome jocks / cheerleaders who think their mouse is a foot pedal. Or blaming computer games et al. where game balance demands that if you're good at smart stuff, you're bad at physical stuff; or at least something like this idea that human beings are created with X number of points to divide amongst all the things they want to do.
Reality, and people, don't work that way. If you're unpopular and unhappy, you're probably going to do less well at school and university - that's statistics. Feeling excluded and depressed makes you worse at things. If you're smart and well-educated, well you're probably going take better care of yourself, be fitter, more confident and get on better with people.
Of COURSE there are people who don't fit the above - because not fitting into categories is what people do. The above isn't a claim that you don't get anti-social geniuses. But unfortunately, trying to fit other people into categories when it's not useful is also something that people do. And thus we get weird stereotypes like this.
I'm not even convinced Asperger's is really a "thing". We've always had such people and they used to just be socially maladjusted, that's all. And often times, it worked itself out - they were just a little behind the social learning curve for one reason or another. I know people who were like this at school but as adults are normal and socially confident. I think if anything, slapping a label on them and telling them they had a medical diagnosis of a social impairment would have done far more harm than good, imho. But lets create more classifications for people. Because since when was that ever not a great thing to do... :/
I just want to say, that the openness that Microsoft has shown in explaining this problem, how it occurred, how it was addressed, has scored major points with me. As someone else said up-thread, it shows a culture of learning from mistakes and I see that as an extremely positive thing in a company. After all, everyone makes mistakes - that's mandatory. Learning from / being open about them - that's optional.
Postgres actually doesn't allow query optimization hints. It's one of the things I like about it:
Oracle I have never liked. IMO, there are two databases that should be used outside of special cases, and these are Postgres and SQL Server.
>>"I feel sure this is forbidden by the US constitution."
That's kind of the point. Even with all the assaults on democracy over the past decade, there are still a number of safeguards and protections in place in the USA (and to a lesser extent the UK) against the government spying on the people. But with an arrangement like this, you can get a trusted partner to spy on your own people and the constitution doesn't say you must stop them. And then afterwards both parties just share information.
At least that's the intent. It may be that you can get the NSA and MI5 under some law or other. Don't expect Theresa May to be very helpful, though.
>>"Yes, it's your phone. You have rights - but...the landlord can always get access and you're not allowed to paint all the rooms black, whilst smoking crack."
Smoking crack is a weird analogy for being able to install software of your choice on a phone you own. I call that analogy bogus. It's clearly prejudicial. All analogies are inaccurate to a degree by definition, but there's a difference between that and clearly trying to build one that changes the whole argument.
Disclaimer: I have an analogy of my own posted here, but unlike yours, the one of a petrol station chain that sells cars locked to only use their stations is a pretty accurate one.
>>"Quite rightly the average user doesn't give a toss about that because they just want to make calls, plays some games, surf the internet. They really don't give a stuff about the things that excise people like you."
They don't care about it the same way I don't care about the details of EU clean water laws, or whether NICE guidelines allow the latest FDA rubber-stamped drug from the US or some local counsellor choosing which company will get the road maintenance contracts for filling the potholes in my street. I.e. I do care about it, I'm just relying on professionals in the field to look out for me when it comes to things I don't understand or wouldn't be aware of until it's too late.
Whether I control a device I own or whether another company can decide who I am and am not allowed to buy from is a battle with some serious long-term implications. Whether the average person knows about this or not, they care - just at a different point in time than the one people at the forefront of it do.
>>"Indeed. But they didn't buy, they took out a lifetime lease."
No, they bought it. The phone is theirs. You're trying to alter the analogy so that it shows Google's behaviour is okay. But it's just an analogy and it's being used in the way that analogies should - to communicate something complex in simple terms and it has succeeded for the OP. Here's an alternative one of my own which is perhaps a bit more accurate as it preserves the fact that this is about the Playstore...
Suppose a petrol company started manufacturing their own car. Many people bought the cars and owned them, but you could only get petrol from that one company. Some people altered the cars so it could use any petrol they liked. The petrol company didn't like this and would refuse to sell petrol to such cars whenever they could identify them. As the petrol company was the biggest petrol company and owned most of the petrol stations, they figured they could get away with this even though people had paid money for their cars and owned them.
The petrol company actually make money from advertising. The cars are phones that they can gather information on from people to get more money from advertisers. And they don't want people altering the cars because it lets the owner shop elsewhere.
Same here. I too would be happy enough to make small payments for content. The only barrier is the hassle of a million different subscription programs. Give me a micropayment provider that I could top up and which would handle small transactions to sites I visit anonymously, and I would cheerfully do so in exchange for no ads.
And it's not so much the ads that bother me (auto-play video excepted) as it is the tracking. THAT is where it's gone too far.
>>"That's absolutely within their technical capabilities. They know it, we know it, Samsung knows it."
I'm not convinced of that. Unless they control the entire stack of my device, what stops me from routing anything I identify as an ad to /dev/null ? Or just setting it to not display? It's less the bandwidth that bothers me than the distraction. Even if it were the bandwidth that bothers someone, a proxy of some kind is conceivable that re-serves the wanted content to my bandwidth constrained device whilst holding back the ads. Of course you might think that SSL on the page would interfere with that, but a MITM attack is plenty possible - if one party trusts the MITM as you would in this scenario.
Whilst Google could certainly make it harder, I'm not certain they can prevent surfing a site without ads.
>>"It's not like the US President is an absolute monarch - AFAIK most every decision they make can be either blocked or overturned by Congress"
Tell that to Obama. He's currently using a technicality to enact his own laws and bypass Congress because the Republicans would block him. And lots of Democrats and media are supporting him despite it being undemocratic because he's one of theirs. If a Republican did the same they'd have a blue fit.
Similar here. I don't have anything illegal going over my connections, but I do encrypt where feasible and get others to do the same. It's not about my protection particularly, but about returning surveillance of our communications to be an active choice that an Intelligence Agency has to make with judicial oversight, rather than the free ride it became when email and the rest took off.
>>"So, if they can spend £1m (say) on accountants, and those accountants find a way to work the profits so that they save £2m in tax, they are legally required to do so*."
Is this actually so? I hear it repeated often, but it seems unfeasible. Who is to say that something is always the right decision for a company even if it is not the most immediately profitable? And what legal obligation does a corporation have to its shareholders to maximise profit - they can choose to invest or sell their shares as they wish, but if they do not have controlling interest in the company can they really sue it simply for doing something they don't like?
>>"For instance, if some Islands may disappear, huge quantities of lands from Canada, Groenland, Russia and more will become available. So, why is Global Warming mandatory bad?"
It isn't. But the rate of change could be a problem. Cities take time to move, agriculture takes time to adapt. Species do too (though in comparison to what humanity does to species, global warming is a drop in the ocean).
>>"You might do that for a very smooth data set, which shows no noisy behaviour, but that certainly does not apply to the CET set does it? You can see swings of 2 C year to year in CET. Even if the long term trend was of no change in temperature, you would still see such year to year changes
Wasn't that the point of the exchange with PompousGit, though? They initially presented year by year data and you said they needed to take a longer view stating that it was normal to do so to smooth out trends and remove short term noise; so they then presented you with fifty year data points. You said that was wrong and when I queried why and you said because it is obscuring year to year changes - i.e. it was smoothing out noise. I'm not certain, but it seems that you're now damning it for what you initially said it was missing.
>>"Drawing a straight line between a high and low value that happens to be 50 years apart does not tell you anything because the noisiness of the data could mean that shifting your start point by one year could change the sign of your so called rate of change. Clearly that is not a robust measure of anything."
Well of course it would alter the rate of change - that's obvious. But that doesn't make it not a robust measure of something. You're effectively saying: "If you change what you measure, the results will be different, therefore it's not an accurate measure." I think PompousGit actually said the whole measurement process was "numerology" but that they were just posting it in response to someone claiming the rate of change was increasing and this supported AGW. I don't think they're posting the figures as evidence that AGW cannot be true, so much as showing one of the claims of evidence someone made was flawed. And you now appear to be supporting PompousGit if you say that it's "not a robust measure of anything", so are you actually agreeing with them on this?
It's a real shame that Lewis Page is gone. Just did a search online and all I can find is a terse statement that he's not legally allowed to discuss the reasons behind his departure. Any speculation? He was editor for about four years, no? And I've really enjoyed The Register during that time.
It's worse for his leaving, imo. Pint for you, Lewis.
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