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'Dangerously Naive' Aaron Swartz 'Destroyed Himself'

Fantom42 Re:Hope it makes him feel better (362 comments)

I think you are the only reasonable (modded) up contributor to this entire thread/article. I wonder how many of these knee-jerk responders even bothered to read his opinion piece, let alone the actual factual report. But hey they perused reddit for a while, clearly that's enough to formulate a complete opinion.

Take this excerpt from the piece people are bashing:

Other questions address our values. In reviewing the record for the report, I was struck by how little attention the MIT community paid to the Swartz case, at least before the suicide. The Tech carried regular news items on the arrest and the court proceedings. Yet in the two years of the prosecution, there was not one opinion piece, and not one letter to the editor. The Aaron Swartz case offers a textbook example of the issues of openness and intellectual property on the Internetâ"the kinds of issues for which people traditionally look to MIT for intellectual leadership. But when those issues erupted in our midst, we didnâ(TM)t recognize them, and we were not intellectually engaged. Why not?

The fact is that Abelson's conclusions are spot on. Imagine how much more Aaron Schwartz could have contributed to this world and to the movement of open publishing if he had exercised some discretion?

Yes, there was prosecution overreach. Yes, there was disengagement and enabling of this overreach by MIT staff. But that doesn't change the fact that what he did, in protest, did nothing but harm himself.

about a year ago

Connecticut Group Wants Your Violent Videogames — To Destroy Them

Fantom42 Re:Don't get it (449 comments)

i really REALLY don't get this obsession with linking violent video games to violent behavior.

I am probably going to get modded down for this... But the reason this is a topic of focus is due to the fact that there is significant research basis for it being true.


about 2 years ago

Researchers Crown Buddhist Monk the World's Happiest Man

Fantom42 Re:Buddhism - the less abhorrent religion. (348 comments)

What I'd really like to see is some good scientific research put in to this sort of thing, stripping away the associated mysticism and getting right to the core of it. Based on the rather limited article, it appears this might not be too difficult as he may already be keeping the mysticism to a minimum.

That's probably what these neuroscientists were likely doing. There has been a bunch of psychology research into the benefits of mindfulness meditation.


about 2 years ago

BART Disables Cell Service To Disrupt Protests

Fantom42 Re:Interesting, yet scary. (440 comments)

I think we are actually getting off topic here a little.

This has nothing to do with Free Speech. All Free Speech grants us is the right to the *opportunity* to speak freely to whomever can hear us. It says nothing that we shall be provided with communication capabilities to do so. Even, all the way back then, I don't think the Founding Fathers intended that every man shall have free and reasonable access to pen, ink, paper, a horse, and another man to effectively transmit your speech farther than the sound of your voice.

Except of course they did consider this notion by including in the same amendment the freedom of press. There is a big difference between free Wi-Fi at McDonalds and shutting off a utility. Yes, it is true that Verizon's networks are privately owned, but they also form a considerable portion of this nation's communication infrastructure, and it is reasonable to expect in a free society that something like this remains intact.

more than 3 years ago

Prosecuted For Critical Twittering

Fantom42 Re:Help, help, I'm being oppressed! (334 comments)

kdawson? Bah. I remember when people wanted to flog Jon Katz. Now get off my lawn.

more than 2 years ago

Microsoft Betting on Bing for Mobile Search

Fantom42 Re:Sad (204 comments)

Why does that data belong to you, or anyone who generated it? You aren't the ones that paid to collected, index, and stored this information. The information belongs to Google.

more than 3 years ago

Stanford CS101 Adopts JavaScript

Fantom42 Re:No compiler? (255 comments)

cs101 without even seeing a compiler? Tragic :)

MIT's CS 101 course used to use a book called "Structures and Interpretation of Compter Programming" and was based on a LISP-variant called MIT Scheme. No compiler. Now, I think they use Python. Still no compiler.

Javascript isn't half bad of a language to use for an intro course, although I think it is far from ideal. Javascript as implemented in a browser, with the DOM and all is kind of a mess. Having examples to run in a browser is a nice perk though. You get to mess with a GUI without knowing much more than HTML.

more than 3 years ago

The Enterprise Is Wrong, Not Mozilla

Fantom42 Re:Think of it as 4.0.2 (599 comments)

Right, as the article points out, the changelist for Firefox 5 is not much more expansive than the changelist for Firefox 3.6.

This may be true for this particular instance, but Firefox certainly isn't guaranteeing that going forward. What happens with Firefox 9 is released with a feature that breaks their enterprise, and Firefox 8 is suddenly no longer supported?

This whole attitude I hear parroted that "release numbers are irrelevant because they are just numbers" ignores a whole bunch of realities regarding how new features are introduced and developed to different classes of users. And in the case of Firefox, this new strategy sends a disturbing message to enterprise customers that new and potentially disruptive features will be introduced "when they are ready" and support for previous versions will be immediately dropped.

more than 3 years ago

The Enterprise Is Wrong, Not Mozilla

Fantom42 Re:Think of it as 4.0.2 (599 comments)

If the version number were 4.0.2 instead of 5.0 Enterprises wouldn't be getting their panties in a bunch over this.

You are right, they wouldn't. And for a good reason. The problem with the model Firefox is adopting is that they are no longer guaranteeing support for a browser that is a few months old. It might be fine in this particular instance where they've made "minor" changes from 4 to 5, but there is no guarantee of this going forward. The versioning numbers are used as a signal to management to indicate feature stability and adoption risk, and Firefox has gotten rid of that. Now the enterprise is left with an unsettling possibility that Firefox 6, or Firefox 9, will suddenly introduce a feature which breaks compatibility with their stuff, without little or no warning or support from Firefox.

more than 3 years ago

Ask Slashdot: How Do I Scrub Pirated Music From My Collection?

Fantom42 Re:Ripped music (758 comments)

You will? I thought the rip was digital.

more than 3 years ago

Oracle Thinks Google Owes $6.1 Billion In Damages

Fantom42 Re:New Google Strategy (243 comments)

You forgot to sack the people responsible for sacking those responsible for the suit.

more than 3 years ago

Professor Questions Sink-Or-Swim Intro To CS Courses

Fantom42 Speaking of Absurdity... (606 comments)

Maybe it is absurd to be a music performance major if you are coming out of high school not knowing how to play an instrument. See where I am going with this?

more than 3 years ago

Challenger 25 Years Later

Fantom42 Wrong Message (236 comments)

This is the wrong message to take from Challenger. While it is true that there are risks that were taken with the space program, lets not forget there was a civilian teacher on board that shuttle, and at the time the flight was considered to be reasonably safe. The major contributing factors to Challenger were due to management taking priority over good engineering. That is a lesson we can't afford to forget.

about 4 years ago

Official — Economic Crash Not Computers' Fault

Fantom42 Re:What a joke (386 comments)

The full 576 page investigation, out this afternoon, was the product of extensive research and interviews with over seven hundred witnesses. But only six of the 10 commission members, all of them Democrats, have backed the final report.

Yeah, "extensive" research and interviews. Only of the very people who didn't see it coming of course, because the legion of people who predicted it in advance wouldn't have any idea as to the causes.

You can guarantee the answer will be "there was enough regulation" by the gazillion regulations that did exist at the time and we need a gazillion more. Rather than "maybe the Fed settings rates at almost 0% for so long wasn't such a wise idea, oh and maybe when banks are making million dollar loans to people with no income and no assets the regulators and ratings agencies should take a look-see (you know doing their jobs)".

And yes some things that weren't regulated should have been (if it looks like insurance and quacks like insurance then maybe is is insurance even if they call it a credit default swap).

High speed trading is completely irrelevant since this wasn't triggered by a sudden drop in the prices of things involved in high speed trading in the first damn place.

It is really sad that you all aren't reading this report. Not even the executive summary.

But since you can't be bothered to read, the report does in fact attribute a major cause of the financial crisis in 2008 to the Fed keeping rates low. and it also blames the regulators for ignoring warning signs, and the ratings agencies for not fixing problems with their risk models and continuing to rate crap as triple-A. It also discusses in great detail such as AIG being able to issue insurance (in the form of CDSs) without having collateral.

So yes, all of your points were covered in your report. But go ahead and shit all over the thing that actually is trying to explain and justify precisely the things you see an being primal causes to the crisis, because government sucks right?

about 4 years ago

Official — Economic Crash Not Computers' Fault

Fantom42 Re:another gov't commission bs (386 comments)

You know, results of a government commission that was established to figure out the causes for the financial crisis of 2008 came out, and that commission was a charade, just like this one.

That commission "found" that the crisis was caused by lack of regulations, that low interest rates and Freddie/Fannie had nothing to do with the housing bubble, they "found" that the only thing that government did "wrong" was let the Lehman brothers fail and that the future crisis can only be avoided if there is more government regulations.

Lets start with this: I despise the governments.

The results of that commission were just as well known in advance as the results of the one from this story. Of-course a government commission will find that what is needed is more government and that whatever structural problems that are caused by government are not the real problems.


They are finding one thing: there is need for more government.

They are finding this other thing: whoever is in power cannot be blamed.

That's all.

Maybe you should try to read the report. It doesn't say what you are saying it does. The fact you were modded up is kinda sad.

If you "despise the governments" maybe you would prefer an independent journalist, Matt Taibbi, who corroborates most of the conclusions of his report in the independent analysis he provides in his book, "Griftopia."

They do not find that more government is needed. They did find that regulators both failed to act when it was within their power and failed to request more power when they needed it. There is a long list of examples just in the executive summary of both of these.

They do not find that the people in power are not to be blamed. Quite the opposite. They find that people in power were very much to blame.

I am so sick of the prevalent simple-minded "explanations" of this crisis. Read the report. What happened in 2008 is complicated and it is worth understanding. Blame is very widespread, but can also be pinpointed. There are actions which can be taken to prevent this from happening again. But first, it is necessay to understand what happened. This report does an extremely thorough job of explaining it.

about 4 years ago

Official — Economic Crash Not Computers' Fault

Fantom42 A Summary of Report Conclusions (386 comments)

A summary of the report's conclusions:

- We conclude this financial crisis was avoidable. The crisis was the result of human action and inaction, not of Mother Nature or computer models gone haywire. The captains of finance and the public stewards of our financial system ignored warnings and failed to question, understand, and manage evolving risks within a system essential to the well-being of the American public.

- We conclude widespread failures in financial regulation and supervision proved devastating to the stability of the nation’s financial markets. The sentries were not at their posts, in no small part due to the widely accepted faith in the selfcorrecting nature of the markets and the ability of financial institutions to effectively police themselves. More than 30 years of deregulation and reliance on self-regulation by financial institutions, championed by former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and others, supported by successive administrations and Congresses, and actively pushed by the powerful financial industry at every turn, had stripped away key safeguards, which could have helped avoid catastrophe.

- We conclude dramatic failures of corporate governance and risk management at many systemically important financial institutions were a key cause of this crisis. There was a view that instincts for self-preservation inside major financial firms would shield them from fatal risk-taking without the need for a steady regulatory hand, which, the firms argued, would stifle innovation. Too many of these institutions acted recklessly, taking on too much risk, with too little capital, and with too much dependence on short-term funding.

- We conclude a combination of excessive borrowing, risky investments, and lack of transparency put the financial system on a collision course with crisis. In the years leading up to the crisis, too many financial institutions, as well as too many households, borrowed to the hilt, leaving them vulnerable to financial distress or ruin if the value of their investments declined even modestly. For example, as of 2007, the five major investment banks—Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley—were operating with extraordinarily
thin capital. By one measure, their leverage ratios were as high as 40 to 1, meaning for every $40 in assets, there was only $1 in capital to cover losses.

- We conclude the government was ill prepared for the crisis, and its inconsistent response added to the uncertainty and panic in the financial markets. As our report shows, key policy makers—the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve Board, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York—who were best positioned to watch over our markets were ill prepared for the events of 2007 and 2008. Other agencies were also behind the curve. They were hampered because they did not have a clear grasp of the financial system they were charged with overseeing, particularly as it had evolved in the years leading up to the crisis.

- We conclude there was a systemic breakdown in accountability and ethics. The integrity of our financial markets and the public’s trust in those markets are essential to the economic well-being of our nation. The soundness and the sustained prosperity of the financial system and our economy rely on the notions of fair dealing, responsibility, and transparency. In our economy, we expect businesses and individuals to pursue profits, at the same time that they produce products and services of quality and conduct themselves well. Unfortunately—as has been the case in past speculative booms and busts—we witnessed an erosion of standards of responsibility and ethics that exacerbated the financial crisis. This was not universal, but these breaches stretched from the ground level to the corporate suites.

THESE CONCLUSIONS must be viewed in the context of human nature and individual and societal responsibility. First, to pin this crisis on mortal flaws like greed and hubris would be simplistic. It was the failure to account for human weakness that is relevant to this crisis. Second, we clearly believe the crisis was a result of human mistakes, misjudgments, and misdeeds that resulted in systemic failures for which our nation has paid dearly. As you read this report, you will see that specific firms and individuals acted irresponsibly. Yet a crisis of this magnitude cannot be the work of a few bad actors, and such was not the case here. At the same time, the breadth of this crisis does not mean that “everyone is at fault”; many firms and individuals did not participate in the excesses that spawned disaster. We do place special responsibility with the public leaders charged with protecting our financial system, those entrusted to run our regulatory agencies, and the chief executives of companies whose failures drove us to crisis. These individuals sought and accepted positions of significant responsibility and obligation. Tone at the top does matter and, in this instance, we were let down. No one said “no.”

about 4 years ago

Fake Steve Jobs Says 'Leave the Real One Alone'

Fantom42 Re:Cooke (166 comments)

Grew more? I guess it depends on how you measure this.

Here is a chart that goes back to Mar 01:

- From Mar 01 (beginning of this chart) to Jun 04, Apple's market cap grew from $7.64B to $12.37B. This represents about $4B a rate of 14.8%/year.

- From Jun 04 to Sep 04 (roughly the time Cook took over, Apple's market cap grew to $15.04B. This is $3B at a rate of 77.6%/year. The rate is impressive, but the total amount is less.

Similarly, From Jun 04 to Jan 09, market cap went to $75.87B This is about $60B under Jobs' leadership at a rate of 37.3%. For the 6 months after that Cook had the reins, market cap increased to $127.06B. This is a phenomenal rate of 124.7%, but again a smaller number, about $50B.

So maybe you are right if you look at the percentages, but you are not right if you look at the straight values. Also, look at the shape of the curve in the figure and think about the history of Apple. While you can't see a clear jump in market cap from the iPod, you do see profitability in that time period and people generally consider that to be a huge factor in Apple's success. Clearly, the iPhone was a great decision in 2008, as the market cap started exploding after the iPhone release.

Now I have no doubt that Cook is a competent business person. But can you really say (with a straight face) that his brief running of the ship in those 8 months total are the reason for Apple's success?

The latter half of your post I agree with. They will need to find someone with the confidence and vision that Jobs has, and the thing about Jobs is he seems to be the only one capable serving the market he's served. Most solid engineering/integration companies serving this market gradually have all their substance hollowed out with style until the whole thing collapses. This happens because it works in the short term. My biggest fear, if Jobs doesn't come back, is that whoever takes over for him will eventually hollow Apple out to nothing.

That said maybe its a good thing, because I've not been a huge fan of what Apple has been doing lately to computing. Of course its not just them; everyone to a degree wants to make computers entertainment devices and not general purpose computers... It is just that Apple is so good at actually delivering that entertainment product I am a bit worried the other stuff which has lingered around for so long for us geeks/nerds to play with might actually be (finally) threatened.

about 4 years ago

NASA Names Best & Worst Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

Fantom42 Tron (610 comments)

The site is slashdotted, but is 2012 really worse than Tron or Tron: Legacy? At least in terms of believability.

about 4 years ago


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