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Google Leads $542m Funding Round For Augmented Reality Wearables Company

JesseMcDonald Re:Another dorky one? (38 comments)

The idea that there might be some human tetrachromats has been entirely discredited.

I stand corrected. It appears that while there are plenty of humans with four cones, this has only been identified (in 2012) to lead to enhanced color differentiation in one subject after 20 years of research. The vast majority are "non-functional tetrachromats". So perhaps not entirely discredited, but close enough as makes little difference.

This is separate from the ability for trichromats to distinguish more colors by taking into account both the cones and the rods, which is well-established, though generally limited to the low-light conditions where the rods are more sensitive.

2 days ago
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Doctor Who To Teach Kids To Code

JesseMcDonald Re:It's not every day you get to... (164 comments)

Daleks aren't machines though... Those are the cybermen.
A Dalek is a living being inside the armor.

The cybermen aren't that different—despite the suppressed emotions, they're not purely mechanical. They have living brains inside their mechanical bodies. The difference is that the cybermen are set on "upgrading" people; they think of it as a service. They consider themselves advanced life-forms and want others to have the same experience. Failure to comprehend the benefits of what they're offering is taken as further evidence that you're in need of an "upgrade". They're constantly looking for ways to incorporate improvements into their design—the ultimate "progressives", in a sense.

The Daleks, on the other hand, are all about "racial purity"; their driving interest is the elimination of any form of life other than their own. They aren't interested in turning anyone into a Dalek. In contrast to the cybermen's drive for constant improvement, the Daleks are striving to restore an idealized version of themselves from their past—the ultimate "conservatives".

And while I'd rather avoid both if possible, if it came to a choice then I'd also prefer to deal with the Daleks. At least they'll acknowledge that they're out to kill you, as opposed to claiming that they're acting for your own good.

2 days ago
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The Future of Stamps

JesseMcDonald Re:Give it another decade - the problem will solve (130 comments)

I cant FedEx *anything* for a dollar.

Of course not. Thanks to the Private Express Statutes, FedEx can't legally deliver ordinary letters unless USPS postage is paid on top of its own delivery rate. The system is deliberately set up such that no one can compete effectively with the USPS.

2 days ago
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Google Leads $542m Funding Round For Augmented Reality Wearables Company

JesseMcDonald Re:Another dorky one? (38 comments)

Humans are trichromats. We have three types of cone cells in our retinas...

It's not quite that simple. Putting aside the rare few tetrachromats with four kinds of cone cells, there are also the rods, which can sense a broad spectrum of light overlapping the ranges of the cone cells—some more than others. The color isn't going to look quite right if the overall brightness reported by the rods doesn't match the per-component brightnesses reported by the cones.

That said, three well-chosen primary colors can get us most of the way there, perhaps enough so that these minor differences won't matter—unless you happen to be tetrachromatic.

2 days ago
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Debian's Systemd Adoption Inspires Threat of Fork

JesseMcDonald Re:its not a claim, its a fact of life. (547 comments)

So, you've tried this? ... by compiling one of the "extras" and running it on a system where systemd isn't installed ...?

That isn't what I said. You can run systemd without running all of the other components. I use systemd for init but networkd or firewalld, for example. The reverse may or may not be possible for any particular component within the systemd "brand", and I don't see any problem with that. These programs are add-ons designed to work with systemd. If they happen to work without it as standalone daemons, that's a nice coincidence, but by no means essential. Anyone using sysvinit already had their own cobbled-together shell scripts for managing these things.

Anyway, why would I want to? Systemd works just fine for me as it is. I have no need nor desire to split up the package. Don't fix what isn't broken. (And yes, sysvinit was well and truly broken. Linux was one of the last Unix-based operating systems to cling to it; everyone else had already moved on.)

2 days ago
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Debian's Systemd Adoption Inspires Threat of Fork

JesseMcDonald Re:its not a claim, its a fact of life. (547 comments)

I can use ls without having to use info, but I can't use systemd-networkd without using systemd. Conversely, there is no logging system other than systemd-journald that works with systemd. ... In other words, each individual program that makes up the "systemd brand" must all be installed and running or else none of them work.

Having looked over the source for systemd-networkd, I see no particular reason why it couldn't be used outside of systemd provided dbus was up and running. I'll grant that systemd depends on systemd-journald, or at least something implementing the same interface. That's one of the few "hard" dependencies; most of the remaining services (like networkd, hostnamed, localed, and timedated) are optional. I assume you were exaggerating, but just to be clear: it is not necessary to run all of the programs which make up the systemd "brand". With the exception of a few core dependencies like journald, you are free to pick the components you wish to run.

3 days ago
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Manga Images Depicting Children Lead to Conviction in UK

JesseMcDonald Re: Moral Imperialism (470 comments)

The Supreme Court has no power to declare any action constitutional -- statutes are by default assumed to be constitutional because Congress is sworn to uphold the Constitution.

That assumption is the problem. Congress can pass whatever it wants, and if the Supreme Court doesn't deign to overturn it, it's presumed constitutional—anyone who disagrees is referred back to the Court. That attitude effectively makes the Court the final arbiter of constitutionality, when it is in fact the responsibility of every individual involved to judge the constitutionality of the law and refuse to enforce those which Congress had no authority to pass.

That may not technically be called "judicial review", but it's what the OP was complaining about—not the practice of overturning unconstitutional laws, but that of upholding ones of dubious constitutionality which the Supreme Court, for whatever reason, has not chosen to strike down.

3 days ago
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Debian's Systemd Adoption Inspires Threat of Fork

JesseMcDonald Re:its not a claim, its a fact of life. (547 comments)

This isnt a thought or a prediction, this is something systemd actually does when it takes NTP, console, logging, and networking and forces them into one application.

Except it's not.

Exactly. It's not a single application, it's a brand. Separate applications developed in a common repository and intended to work well together. One might as well complain about all the basic utilities under the GNU project umbrella. Or consider the various BSDs, where the entire userspace (including the init system) is developed in the same repository as the kernel.

3 days ago
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Manga Images Depicting Children Lead to Conviction in UK

JesseMcDonald Re: Moral Imperialism (470 comments)

It's perfectly reasonable for the Supreme Court to have the power to review laws and strike them down as unconstitutional. The problem enters when they presume to declare a law constitutional, or when failure to strike down a law is taken as affirmation of the same. An unconstitutional law is void whether or not the Supreme Court rules against it. It is not within Congress's authority to pass such a law, nor does the Executive have the authority to enforce it.

3 days ago
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Lead Mir Developer: 'Mir More Relevant Than Wayland In Two Years'

JesseMcDonald Re:I still don't see what's wrong with X (225 comments)

Except that's pretty much what all AJAX web apps do, they "export the UI through some generic mechanism" to the browser so I'd say it's very common.

No, I'd say that's closer to what I was describing. The UI is a separate component which is hosted on the server but runs entirely in the browser, on the client side. The UI makes remote API calls at the UI/backend interface level back to retrieve data or perform actions. With the more modern web applications, interaction with UI elements results in running local Javascript code in the browser rather than communicating low-level UI events like button pushes back to the server.

5 days ago
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Lead Mir Developer: 'Mir More Relevant Than Wayland In Two Years'

JesseMcDonald Re:I still don't see what's wrong with X (225 comments)

I think the reason you don't see such systems very often is that in the end it's simpler to just run a normal local application for the UI and have it connect back to a separate server app for the heavy lifting, rather than making it all one app which runs on the remote server and exports the UI through some generic mechanism. As a bonus, with the split UI/backend approach you can probably reuse the same APIs for an AJAX web app and a CLI interface suitable for automation.

If you put in the effort up front to separate the UI and backend logic into separate processes, which is generally worthwhile for other reasons, there's really not much incentive to run the UI process remotely. Network transparency works better at the UI/backend level than at the display/UI level.

about a week ago
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Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

JesseMcDonald Re:Usury turns Free Markets into Capitalism (838 comments)

Not all contracts are legally valid, and they don't all need to be legally valid for a market to be free. You can't, for example, contract yourself into slavery.

That last point is debatable. The main argument against such contracts is that people don't have the physical capacity to hand over control of their own bodies to anyone else, and you can only enter into contracts which you can actually fulfill. Regardless, the "usury" contracts you're attempting to undermine have all the necessary properties of a valid contract: consideration, offer and acceptance, capable parties, mutual assent / "meeting of the minds". Their only failing, apparently, is that they don't meet with your approval. Enforcement of valid contracts (whether or not they are recognized as such by local law) is very much a condition for a free market. Arbitrary interference with voluntary contracts would undermine basic property rights and render the market non-free.

I, for one, very much want to be able to enter into contracts which involve me paying rent or interest with the expectation that the terms will be enforceable in the event that I should default. The alternative is that I won't have access to loans. If I object to the practice, I always have the option of not entering into such contracts; I would not thank anyone for taking that option away. And enforceable or not, it would be highly dishonorable for me to voluntarily enter into such a contract under false pretenses, including the expectation that the contract will prove to be unenforceable.

Also, no exchanges "fail to meet my approval" as you put it. If you want to trade someone something for something else, I don't care what those somethings are, so long as they're actual, real things; who has what rights to what transfers along with who owns what things, and people can trade ownership of things between each other as they like as far as I care.

Oh, that's good. In that case you should have no problem with contracts involving rent, since they are in fact exchanges of "actual, real things"—the service of allowing access to the owner's property in exchange for the renter's money.

But if you want to give someone the right to use your property, even against your will if you change your mind, that depends on the ability to create such rights out of nothing, and that's what I'm objecting to.

The rights aren't created "out of nothing". At a basic level you can simply rent out your capital and retain the right to change your mind; that's just a trivial exercise of your rights of ownership. If you do change your mind, however, then you're failing to provide the service for which you were paid, which entitles the renter to compensation. To eliminate that possibility you could enter into two separate contracts, one to transfer all the rights to the other party now, and another to transfer the rights back at the end of the rental period. In the interim ownership would lie entirely with the renter. You'll still get your property back in the end, but you can't terminate the rental early. And yet no special "temporary" rights are needed.

about a week ago
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Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

JesseMcDonald Re:Usury turns Free Markets into Capitalism (838 comments)

A free market an economic arrangement where all exchanges are made voluntarily, without coercion.
...
My proposed answer is that what allows a free market (good) to become capitalism (bad) is the legal enforcement of any contract where someone allows the temporary use of their capital in exchange for a permanent transfer of some other capital.

So voluntary exchanges without coercion are "good", but to prevent what you consider "usury" you propose to disregard certain coercion-free, voluntary exchanges which fail to meet with your approval.

I suppose you plan to legally enforce the original, obsolete property rights despite the presence of a perfectly valid voluntary contract reassigning those rights? Thus introducing coercion into an otherwise voluntary agreement?

about a week ago
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ChromeOS Will No Longer Support Ext2/3/4 On External Drives/SD Cards

JesseMcDonald Re:Is there no commandline? (344 comments)

I don't really see any advantage in bundling a minimum amount of data into the line charges, unless you're expecting some form of discount. The idea was that the line charge covers the (mostly) fixed cost of simply keeping an idle connection open—amortized installation & equipment, maintenance, power utilization, and so on. Transit to and from the Internet is covered by the per-GB charge. I wouldn't really want to pay an extra $15/mo. for 100GB of data when in fact I just let the line sit idle for a month while on vacation. The idea is to get away from subsidies and let everyone pay their own way; bundling has the opposite effect.

I do see your point about time-of-day restrictions, though. You need your cloud provider to be accessible 24/7. Satellite internet is particularly bad about this, as I know well from first-hand experience. Unfortunately, fixing this problem would probably require the development of software "agents" which could intelligently prioritize different kinds of data and dynamically negotiate for the satellite's limited prime-time bandwidth according to a predetermined budget. While that is far from impossible, it might be more productive to simply wait for one of the various proposed LEO satellite networks to get off the ground and alleviate the bandwidth shortage.

about a week ago
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Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

JesseMcDonald Re:Too bad... (610 comments)

So going back to the math, 10 windmills per square mile means 8,000 square miles to power Germany, or an area 90mi x 90mi. Germany does have 137,000 sq miles in its borders, but it would probably rather not use them all (or even 6% of them) for windmills.

While that is all very true, there is no need to reserve that entire area just for the windmills. Each windmill only occupies a small portion of its "zone"; the surrounding land can be used for almost anything else that stays fairly low to the ground and doesn't block the wind. It's common to surround windmills with farmland, for example. Arable land currently makes up roughly one third of Germany's land area. Installing windmills within that space would not significantly impact its use for farming.

about two weeks ago
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ChromeOS Will No Longer Support Ext2/3/4 On External Drives/SD Cards

JesseMcDonald Re:Is there no commandline? (344 comments)

Metered internet isn't really a problem so long as it's cheap enough. People are used to metered power and water, and it hasn't killed off home appliances. The problem is that the metered services tend to be disproportionately expensive (e.g. roughly $10 per 2GB with Verizon) compared to typically-unmetered cable or DSL at 300+ GB for less than $60/mo., or less than $0.20 per GB—and that's before we consider overage charges, which can be up to two or three times the normal rate.

I expect cloud services could survive metered internet at, say, $20/line + $0.15/GB. There would need to be bandwidth controls in place to prevent some rogue internet appliance or app from maxing out the line 24/7, but that's relatively easy to implement.

about two weeks ago
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CSS Proposed 20 Years Ago Today

JesseMcDonald Re:They _Should_ Replace It (180 comments)

There's nothing in CSS itself that actually bounds an area - it has to borrow a container from HTML, be it DIV, TABLE, BODY, or whatever and define space within or relative to it.

I think this is really the core of the problem. We're trying to express three things (layout, style, and semantics) with just two languages, HTML and CSS, which inevitable results in some overlap. Four things really, if you count scripting. CSS covers style and some layout; HTML covers semantics, scripts, and some more layout. To get a particular design you have to mix some elements of HTML with some elements of CSS. Using HTML tables for layout did have some legitimate usability issues, but turning some arbitrary <div> tag into a table via CSS doesn't really solve those issues. The one advantage which that brings is reserving the <table> for semantically tabular data, which is something, but you still need to arrange your HTML tags to match your intended presentation. You can't separate the semantics from the presentation because you need those "hook" elements in the HTML in order to apply your CSS styles.

There should be a top-level hierarchical layout description which references or embeds, with a strict boundary line, the semantic content and the stylesheet(s) to be applied to it. This layout portion would describe how the screen area is to be divided up into multiple content areas (boxes, grids, tabs, floating windows, etc.), whether those areas support scrolling, where to source the content from, and so on. Any scripts would be run in the context of the layout document; this is essentially the "application" portion of the web page. The semantic portion should not be capable of describing styles or positions, just the plain content with purely semantic tags, the presentation of which would be defined in the stylesheets. You could embed arbitrary content into a layout, but not vice-versa. The content and style languages should be "safe"—no embedded scripting. If you needed the document to be interactive then you could attach scripts to semantic tags at the layout level.

about two weeks ago
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Chimpanzee "Personhood" Is Back In Court

JesseMcDonald Re:Does that mean they'll get to vote? (385 comments)

If it were about taking on liability, do you think corporations would be clamoring for it like they do? ... In most societies, with rights come responsibilities....

The only responsibility which comes along with any right is the responsibility to extend that same right to others. Rights being by nature universal, you can't claim a right yourself which you deny to anyone else. The constitutional rights being extended to corporations (or rather, to groups of individuals acting together as a corporation) are rights which are already secured to everyone else, so that responsibility is immediately fulfilled.

about two weeks ago
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Chimpanzee "Personhood" Is Back In Court

JesseMcDonald Re:Does that mean they'll get to vote? (385 comments)

The privileges of incorporation mainly relate to reducing the burden of other requirements the government itself imposes. Without incorporation you could still have arrangements such as limited liability (by contract) with regards to voluntary interactions such as debts, and that same limited liability wouldn't necessary protect you if you cause harm while acting on behalf of the organization ("piercing the corporate veil"). I don't really have any problem with eliminating incorporation as a legal concept—I don't think all that much would change—but only if other changes are made such that the burden imposed by the government doesn't cause disproportionate problems for people exercising their freedom of association and acting as a group. That basically means that the government would still need to deal with associations of individuals as a group when it comes to things like revenues and taxes and property held in common. Incorporation is little more than formal recognition of that status.

In your example, which individual in your group took custody of the funds donated for the leaflets? How were they accounted for with regards to personal income tax? If they ran off with the money, who would be responsible? Those are the kinds of questions incorporation was meant to answer. Addressing them in a legally binding way doesn't require any special privileges, and remains well within the scope of freedom of association.

about two weeks ago
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Chimpanzee "Personhood" Is Back In Court

JesseMcDonald Re:Does that mean they'll get to vote? (385 comments)

What gives them access to political process is the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision which ruled that spending money constitutes free speech so reversing that decision by getting it overturned is the saner and more realistic choice because if money is no longer considered free speech then the corporation cannot spend money for free speech.

I really don't see how the freedom to spend money on speech—whether that means renting out a venue, printing up a batch of fliers, taking out an ad in a newspaper, or running political commercials on TV—could possibly be considered less than absolutely essential to the core concept of free speech. That would be akin to saying that you're free to hold any opinion that you want privately, but aren't allowed to communicate it in any effective way to a broad audience.

Money isn't speech per se. However, effectively exercising your right to free speech necessarily involves the expenditure of resources, including money. The money is really just a scapegoat; even if you banned financial contributions, those with money would still be able to support their favorite causes with donated goods and services, not to mention access to ready networks of influential contacts.

The real problem here is the way that those with resources can influence the government to act in their favor at the expense of those without. The more the government grows and becomes involved in people's day-to-day lives, the more competition there is over political control—and that's a fight that the common people cannot win. The solution is to shrink the scope of that power by restricting the influence of the government over all our lives. When the government is limited to fair arbitration and enforcement of a small set of universal laws, favoring no group over another, there is no reason to struggle for political influence. In an ideal world the role of Senator would be mainly clerical, consisting of minor and uncontroversial updates to wording to reflect modern use, and perhaps the occasional clarification or trivial refinement of well-established principles. Major changes would be exceedingly rare, and backed by near-unanimous consent.

about two weeks ago

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