I'm from Baltimore
And no one here reads the Baltimore Sun either so for those of you across the pond you are not missing anything.
10 posts • joined 16 May 2013
Back in 1981 I was actually in competition with my father to solve the cube, and he beat me by 2 weeks, and even then once he figured it out he refused to show me, I love my father, but sometimes he is a real pain! (yes he is still alive at 91)
So I figured I would get even with him, when they came out with a 4x4 cube I got a couple of them and we re-started the competition, and he beat me again! Ugggg! But I did solve the 4x4 eventually, it took my father about 4 months to figure it out, and it took me 6 months.
Two years ago my adult daughter got me a 7x7 cube for Christmas and I have yet to figure it out. It is devilishly hard, or maybe my brain is getting worn out, but I refuse to give up. Getting old sucks, but I guess it beats the alternative!
There is an old saying… “Difficult, complex problems have simple, easy to understand, wrong answers”. Mr. Worstall, your solution is just such an answer. And let’s not forget that your solution has its own unintended consequences, which you ignore.
As both our countries have discovered to our cost, sending in the Marines is an idea that simply does not work. If it did Iraq and Afghanistan would be peaceful and prosperous places. As soon as the Marines are gone the warlords come back because history has shown, time and time again, that you cannot change a culture by force. All force does is subdue it, as soon as the force is gone the old culture comes back.
That happened here in the USA after the civil war, once federal troops were withdrawn from the south, Jim Crow laws and the KKK rose up and maintained the oppression of minorities for over a century, so real lasting change is much harder, takes time, money and lives to accomplish. And it must be accomplished by those who are oppressed, they must themselves rise up and defeat their oppressors, history has shown that no other option works in any lasting way.
Outsiders can influence things, but that takes a long time and as you have pointed out it can have unintended consequences. The difference between you and the “do-gooders” is that the do-gooders are actually doing something. Criticizing is easy, actually doing something is hard. So while the solution they propose can have unintended consequences, at least they are making an effort at finding a solution that works, which probably explains why people like Mancur Olson have six honorary doctorates and people like you don’t have any.
Tim, here in the USA there is a political party that wants to do away with all regulation for the reasons you state, i.e. they stymie innovation and reduce freedom. However reducing regulation increases risk for everyone, for example if you reduce regulation on how homes should be built then after buying a new house your roof might fall in and kill you, which I think we all can agree would be a "bad thing".
The way the Libertarians answer this concern is that if your roof falls in you (or more accurately your heirs) can sue the manufacturer of your home, and the cost of losing a lawsuit will motivate the manufacturer of your home to do it right. The problem is that while your heirs would get a nice sum of money, you are still dead, so the thought is that prevention is better than cure, hence regulation and inspection of new homes before they are granted occupancy permits.
And the same is true of all industries that face regulation, it is government following a policy that prevention is better than cure, something I personally agree with, but it is also the nature of governments to reach for ever more power so if we are not careful we end up with regulation that protects incumbents (the financial sector is a prime example) because as you state the regulation creates high barriers to entry, which is also a “bad thing”.
So regulation is a balancing act, too little and real people get hurt, too much and freedom is unnecessarily curtailed. So as with other aspects of a government that rules with the consent of the governed, we must be ever watchful of overreach, and curtail government power when it occurs.
About 6 months ago we moved our production database (about 30TB) from disk to SSD. Tests showed that moving to SSD would give us a 30% improvement in I/O performance. We needed that improvement so the solution we purchased not only uses an array of SSD drives, the entire array is mirrored to a backup array, with each array having a hot spare SSD. The device also uses redundant, hot swappable controllers, with a third controller as a hot spare. Even the fans are redundant and hot swappable. Expensive, yes, but speed and availability were much more important than cost. What surprised us was that once we moved to SSD not only are we getting the expected I/O boost, which is reducing the cost of processing each transaction (and we process about 6 million transactions per day so that cost is a serious consideration) but the system uses much less power and requires less cooling then spinning disks so through reduced operating expenses we expect the new solution to pay for itself in about 2 years.
So in short it is my experience that if done correctly SSD is a much better solution then spinning rust.
In the 1970's several defense contractors worked on systems capable of detecting optics used to aim weapons, everything from tanks to snipers, and when detected the system would fire a laser into the optics to blind it. It worked by sensing light that entered the optics, then reflected back off of the sensor, (be it human or machine) and back out the optics. However it was later determined that using a laser to blind a human violated the Geneva convention, so instead it was used to control lethal weapons. I remember thinking how idiotic it was that it was not okay to blind a solider, but it was okay to kill him.
So a material like this could be used to block reflected light from going back out the optics and revealing the location of a sniper, tank, or other military asset.
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