* Posts by Primus Secundus Tertius

942 posts • joined 31 Oct 2010

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Today in bullsh*t AI PR: Computers learn to read as well as humans (no)

Primus Secundus Tertius
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"just pattern matching"

In other words, "all you have to do is..." [recreate the results of 500 million years of brain evolution]

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Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: I'd be impressed if they could learn to *proof read" better than humans...

My dream of AI would be a computer system that could listen to a meeting through one or more microphones. Shortly after the end of the meeting it would email a coherent set of minutes to everybody concerned.

It will have established who was present and which other people should receive the minutes. It will have taken remarks that were made in the "wrong" part of the meeting and put them into the correct section. It will present the pros and cons for each proposal rather than a verbatim rendering of each speaker.

I wait, patiently but with little expectation.

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Heart of darkness: Inside the Osówka underground city

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Wine manufacture

I have a theory that the various underground factories built during WW2 were later turned to manufacturing artificial wine. That is where all the German wine comes from, distributed through pipelines around Europe and beyond. Sometimes oil, sometimes wine, sometimes natural gas; there may be problems during the switch from one to another.

All the pictures of vineyards and happy peasants are just a sales puff by the wine industry.

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Take notebooks: About those new Thinkpads...

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Re: What about CDs

@Binky

The reason I like CDs is that the ones in ISO9660 or Joliet formats cannot be written to, unlike USB sticks. So having created them free from viruses, that is how they stay.

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Primus Secundus Tertius
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What about CDs

I don't see anything for CDs/DVDs in the pictures or in the report.

I use "live CDs" for online banking, and to restore computers to a non-virus state.

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Kernel-memory-leaking Intel processor design flaw forces Linux, Windows redesign

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Re: Hmmm...

@Gathercole

Back in the 1970s I was asked to make a PDP11 system go faster. It was running DEC's real time OS, viz RSX11. The critical part of the program needed to make a lot of OS calls. I arranged for that region of the program to be mapped into kernel space (using a 'connect to interrupt' facility) and got my speedup. The cost was a section of high-risk code.

There is a reason why interrupts used to return control to the kernel. It may be that a disk transfer has finished, thus allowing some more important program to resume. In more general terms, the context has changed and the system should adjust, particularly if several programs are running. The PDP11 could respond to interrupts within microseconds, perhaps to capture volatile data from fleeting registers on special hardware; but it could be a long time returning to the point of interrupt.

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Microsoft Surface Book 2: Electric Boogaloo. Bigger, badder, better

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Re: Certainly not a narrow Venn slice

@ Uberseehandel

Forget the notebook and pencil. The modern journalist just phones the story back to a robot at base. The robot has a limited understanding of natural language, English, German, or any other; so any shortcoming of language in the journalist is masked.

Robots' English makes lots of mistakes with homophones, probably because the meaning escapes them.

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PHWOAR, those noughty inks: '0.1%' named Stat of The Year

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99 percent

99 percent of all statistics are concocted to sell something or to insult somebody.

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No hack needed: Anonymisation beaten with a dash of SQL

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Aggregate data only

E.g. mean and standard deviation for postal area SW1, but not for Mr/Mrs X of SW1A 0AA.

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@Dan55

The national anti-spy agencies would disagree with that assertion.

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How fast is a piece of string? Boffin shoots ADSL signal down twine

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Re: If the engineer has a quiet moment...

@elDog

But the noise to signal ratio is enormously bigger.

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UK lacks engineering and tech skillz to make government's industrial strategy work – report

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Re: Universities and schools

@AC - "He later became a Professor of Maths."

This is the old fallacy of arguing from individual cases rather than statistics. There are some 600,000 little darlings entering the school system each year. If we are to run a generally successful policy at reasonable cost we have to consider the statistics.

Some 100,000 children will have an IQ greater than 115, and similar number an IQ of less than 85, in accordance with a near-Gaussian distribution with mean 100 and standard deviation 15. These are the bright and the weak streams I identified in my initial comment. The bright ones will, at school, in their careers, and as grumpy old pensioners, have the ability to abstract from the current facts to the underlying ideas. I saw that repeatedly in my work colleagues. They need the kind of schooling that develops that ability.

The present system is doing a disservice to the midstream children: it holds them back because it pretends that the weak ones can match the midstream. It also fails to give the weak ones an education that will bring them satisfaction and make them supportive citizens.

As other commenters have noted, some children needed to be reclassified at, say, 13+. The truth remains that the vast majority of children were correctly assigned by the 11+. Nowadays there is so much testing in schools that it should be straightforward to arrange transfers at 13+. Even in my marvellous new scheme there will be borderline cases who will need re-assessment in due course.

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Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: Universities and schools

@Rubyduck

I wrote "bright" rather than "academically bright" because being bright correlates with ability in a wide range of activities. My sister, when schoolteaching, once made the weekly football game a contest between the brighter ones and the others. The bright team did well.

See also the comment by ... that the best generalists are PhD level physicists and astronomers.

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Primus Secundus Tertius
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Universities and schools

The problem is as much in the schools as in the universities. The schoolteaching establishment (aka "the blob") seems wedded to the idea that any child can thrive academically if so encouraged; and so we can send them all to comprehensive schools.

You would think that schoolteachers would have learned what all employers know: that some people are brighter than others and no amount of training will alter that.

We need to return to selective education, with some differences from the past. We need a three-way division of schools for the bright (top 17%), the midstream (67%), and the weak (16%). This must be determined by the ability of the child rather than the wealth of the parents. Then the midstream could be taught far more effectively than they are now; and the same applies to the other two streams.

Streaming within one school will not work because of the numbers. If 100 random pupils are divided into three classes, the top class will be about half full of those not really suited to education for the bright. So the schools must be streamed, not the pupils.

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Barclaycard website goes TITSUP*

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Certificate problems

I have had problems in the past with Barclays online banking, when my browser has claimed there was an issue with certificates. I try again next day, no problems reported. Barclays have said to me, "No, we don't have those problems. Send us a screenshot if it happens again."

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Leftover Synaptics debugger puts a keylogger on HP laptops

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Happens everywhere

"...debugging code the developers forgot to remove from production models."

I suspect this was the cause of the Volkswagen diesel commotion. Then the software passed a test brilliantly. After that, Management said to Resources: "You are not going to be difficult about this, are you?"

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Language bugs infest downstream software, fuzzer finds

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Re: but... will anyone learn from this?

@Dave M

It does look as though there are too many "security consultants" in this business, all scraping the barrel for edge cases they can use to make publicity and boost their business.

Perhaps they should return to writing real programs.

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Do you suffer from the shame of 'Scroll Jank'? Help is at your fingertips

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Like an ancient mariner programmer, I long for the simplicity

of the old mouse with buttons.

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Report: Underwater net cables are prime targets for terrorists and Russia

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Forced to use radio

I have read that the Allies cut German cables in WW2 to force them to use radio, which was much easier to tap.

And in WW1 Britain and Germany cut many opposing cables.

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Damian Green: Not only my workstation – mystery pr0n all over Parliamentary PCs

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MPs are special - so is parliament

At least some commenters here say we should expect higher standards from MPs than from ordinary employees. But few seem to admit that the domain parliament.uk might be subject to special attack. Perhaps initially not against a specific person, just an exercise to gain a few future hostages. That is the way companies are hacked, after all.

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UK government bans all Russian anti-virus software from Secret-rated systems

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Re: What's the problem

@Lars

I use Linux on a CD for banking. Much harder to corrupt a CD than a stick.

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Three useless UK.gov 'catapults' put in Last Chance Saloon

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@monty75

But how many PPE graduates know what sells, and how to create new things that sell?

More seriously, only a small proportion of innovative developments will succeed. The trick is to know when to give up on a project.

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Whew... Toshiba rustles up $5.4bn to avoid delisting

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Misleading headline

Tosh has not yet actually "rustled up" the money. They plan to sell shares, but who is going to buy?

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Estonia cuffs suspect, claims he's a Russian 'hacker spy'

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Re: Round up the usual suspects

When the British Empire came to an end in Africa in the 1960s, most of the British settlers returned to Britain. A few, however, came to terms with the locals and stayed on as citizens of the new states.

There is an analogous problem with Russian people still living in Estonia and the other Baltic states. To which state are they loyal? They should follow the British example.

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Seldom used 'i' mangled by baffling autocorrect bug in Apple's iOS 11

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Re: Trademarking the "i"

Years ago, America's Finest News Source, aka The Onion, reported that Microsoft had patented the numerals 0 and 1.

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Boffins: Sun's red dwarf neighbour is looking a little thick around the middle

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@unwarranted t

The biggest disease is that which makes people blind to the value of pure science. Yes, let us cure that one!

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Distance units

"Earth-Sun distance"

Surely Reg readers know that 1 Astronomical Unit (AU) is the recognised term for Earth-Sun distance?

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Apache OpenOffice: We're OK with not being super cool... PS: Watch out for that Mac bug

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Cheap and cheerful

There is also Abiword, there for free.

You can prepare a Word document if you are not too fussed about themes and styles. Then the real weirdos can export it to Latex or Docbook. Its Docbook output is much more reliable that that of OO/LO.

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Oh, Google. You really are spoiling us: Docs block cockup chalks up yet another apology

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@Captain

I have always assumed that letting Google see anything is equivalent to handing it to US Intelligence.

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USB stick found in West London contained Heathrow security data

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@ "Somethings not quite right"

I would not plug it into my "main computer". But I have others, and can wipe them clean again.

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NHS could have 'fended off' WannaCry by taking 'simple steps' – report

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@Elmer

The money won't come from anywhere until the beancounters' own machines are hacked. Why should they listen to what they regard as unfounded claims designed to grab more of the budget?

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BOFH: Do I smell burning toes, I mean burning toast?

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Re: Good on ya, PFY

Cats are always plotting. If not to kill you, then to do something else.

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Panic of Panama Papers-style revelations follows Bermuda law firm hack

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Appleby advice

It looks as though Appleby need some advice from Sir Humphrey.

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Wanna exorcise Intel's secretive hidden CPU from your hardware? Meet Purism's laptops

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Re: We need companies like Purism

@Milton

"Social media, by grown-ups"

All computer freaks are nerds. Even me, a little bit.

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ARM chip OG Steve Furber: Turing missed the mark on human intelligence

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"the customer wants to add 3-d shadows to the text on the on screen menus"

I guess that's the time to hand it over to the B team.

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Re: So ...

@DropBear

I doubt that a neuron is 'just a simple logic gate'. Even a bacterial cell, without a nucleus, embodies feedback mechanisms without which it would not survive. Cells with a nucleus, including neurons, are much more complicated than bacteria.

I therefore believe that until we understand the whole evolutionary history of cells and brains we will not properly understand how the brain works. Current AI will, I expect, produce useful machines and some lessons, but not that full understanding.

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So the 'Year of Linux' never happened. When is it Chrome OS's turn?

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Re: No ...

@Lysenko

I use both MS Office and Libre Office -- the latter on numerous "other computers" that I own. I use MS Office only on my "main" machine.

The problems arise, as Lysenko notes, when documents have to be exchanged between different "Offices" on a regular basis. A one-off exercise in dealing with minor niggles is bearable, but not time and again, every day.

One other frustration is that OCR packages can pass their results directly into MS Word but not, as far as I know, into Libre Word.

I do wonder how they manage in Germany, where some government entities use Linux while most remain with Microsoft. Perhaps a Reg reader could let us know.

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Europol cops lean on phone networks, ISPs to dump CGNAT walls that 'hide' cyber-crooks

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v7 needed

We need an IP v7, bigger than 32-bit but compatible with v4.

It was a huge mistake by the people who imposed v6 to ignore compatibility issues, i.e. to ignore real users.

V4 was a work of genius. Everything since then has been B-team at best, student project at worst. How many people have heard of v5?

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Grant Shapps of coup shame fame stands by 'broadbad' research

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Re: My up is down :(

The Internet is to tell the plebs what is what, not to enable them to have a voice.

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Re: Coup shame fame?

@Naselus

1. Thank you for a useful run-down, so to speak, of the Tories.

2. "Nicky Morgan. Please"? I think/hope you mean "Nicky Morgan. Gulp!"

3. Johnson is the one with brain power. But look at British history: it took the pressure of a war that we had been losing to get Lloyd George and Winston Churchill as prime minister, because many people opposed them. If Johnson is a successful foreign minister the situation that would get him into no. 10 will not arise.

Politics is the art of the possible, except when it is impossible, which takes a little longer.

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Do you Word2Vec? Google's neural-network bookworm

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Vector spaces

These 'vectors' remind me of Hilbert space: infinite-dimensioned, with many imaginary components.

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Outlook, Office 2007 slowly taken behind the shed, shots heard

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@AC

My record for downvotes is about 40, on a totally different topic.

I, too, quite like the ribbon. Have an upvote.

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Footie ballsup: Petition kicks off to fix 'geometrically impossible' street signs

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Re: Metric please

@Flatpackhamster

The mile is an excellent base unit. In this modern world, it should be divided into 65536 new inches, as opposed to 63,360 old inches. Then a new foot is 16 new inches, and a new rod/pole/perch is 16 new feet. A furlong is one eighth of a mile (512 new feet), and a cricket pitch is one tenth of a furlong at 51.2 new feet.

What could be simpler?

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Fending off cyber attacks as important as combatting terrorism, says new GCHQ chief

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Legal doctrines

In England there used to be a legal doctrine, in Latin, to the effect that the law does not deal with trifles. So if you fiddled the raffle at the tennis club, MI5 are not interested in that particular misdeed, although it would tell them something about you. Nor can they conceivably be directly interested in the average nutjob opinions that infest the wibbly wobbly web. That is why they never get further than the surveillance computer systems. But in this wicked world, the authorities have to keep watch, even if the moaners keep moaning.

Unfortunately the litigious attitudes of the USA have spread to England (the case of Scotland must be discussed separately) and so many legal cases today would have been regarded as trifling in times past.

Bring back the concept of trifle, it is so good for all of us. And let the USA take note.

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White House plan to nuke social security numbers is backed by Equifax's ex-top boss

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Obscure number

WTF is 8008135? It is meaningless to the average Brit.

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Linux kernel long term support extended from two to six years

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Get it right

It is a pity that programmers can't just get it right. You would think that with all the fancy tools they now have, which us oldies did not, it would be easier to get it right. Back in the days of VMS or George 3 we did not need updates every month.

Heaven help us when our cars will have to get monthly software updates. Perhaps that is a cunning plan by the public transport freaks to push us out of our cars.

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Life began after meteorites splashed into warm ponds of water, say astronomers

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Well said, Dr Syntax.

For over 60 years, since the famous experiment by Miller, people have been trying to "put it together".

Frankly, they have got nowhere. In the book "Genetic Takeover" (Cairns-Smith, 1982) he, as an experienced chemist, points out that an uncontrolled reaction between organic chemicals just yields a filthy tarry mess. None of the experimental work has shown how precisely constructed long molecular chains can be assembled, or how to produce the pure stereochemical L or D isomers needed as a starting point.

Cairns-Smith proposed that things began with clay, which would answer the L/D question and others, and then organic molecules became associated and eventually took over. This suggestion is not accepted these days - I assume there are good reasons but I am not familiar with them.

There are other suggestions that life began as sea water, with organic contaminants, penetrated cracks in the earth's crust and interacted with hot silicate minerals.

Yes, there are experiments that should be done; but I suggest they need to be looking for the kind of two-stage origins of life mentioned above.

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Chairman Zuck ends would-be president Zuck's political career

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Re: Hmmmm.

The 1789 constitutional convention was the scene of many very experienced politicians. Sometimes I, as a Brit, suspect they gave the US a democratic constitution because they distrusted the voters less than they distrusted each other.

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WTF - President Zuck?

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Driverless cars will make more traffic, say transport boffins

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Challenge to democracy

“the real challenge is getting society to become more sharing either by allowing others to use their cars or through a third party mobility plan”.

No! The real challenge is to get those busybodies to respect democracy when it comes from ordinary more or less selfish people.

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