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Interviews: Bjarne Stroustrup Answers Your Questions

Kiwikwi Re:Oh darn I forgot to ask... (101 comments)

...how the hell you say that guy's name.

Roughly "B-yarn-uh Straw-strop".

2 days ago
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Two Years of Data On What Military Equipment the Pentagon Gave To Local Police

Kiwikwi Re:No (264 comments)

the war on drugs is precisely why the US has imprisoned a far higher percentage of its population than any other first world nation.

To be specific, the US incarcerates more people than any nation, first-world or not. That's not only by percentages, but also by absolute numbers. Roughly one in four prisoners worldwide sits in a US prison.

3 days ago
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NASA's Greenhouse Gas Observatory Captures 'First Light'

Kiwikwi Re:How is CO2 leading cause of warming? (143 comments)

Of course they have but the point is that CO2 emissions have been constantly high over that period, which should have accelerated the trend line upward way more than it has.

The NOAA source I linked can tell us that the 1990-2014 trend has been a rise of 0.14 C per decade, and that 2013 was already 0.78 C above the 1880 pre-industrial level. A simple linear extrapolation gives us a temperature of (2100-2014)*0.014 + 0.62 - (-0.16) = 2.0 C in the year 2100, coincidentally the same 2 C used as the critical limit beyond which global warming will have alarming consequences.

Some may contend that the 2000-2014 trend has been a rise of only 0.04 C per decade, to which I'll note that the 2012-2013 trend was a rise of 0.47 C per decade. Unsurprisingly, short periods make for bad statistics. But when you pick a longer period - whether you go back to 1990, 1980, 1970 or even 1960 - you consistently get ~ 0.14 C per decade.

(Please substitute "degrees celsius" for C above, since Slashdot apparently supports neither Unicode nor even Latin 1...)

about a week ago
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NASA's Greenhouse Gas Observatory Captures 'First Light'

Kiwikwi Re:How is CO2 leading cause of warming? (143 comments)

actual warming has kind of flatlined,

I keep hearing this, but I really don't see it.

It's like the repeated statement that "there has been no warming [since the record-setting global average in 1998]". Nobody ever claimed that global temperature would rise monotonically year-on-year; fortunately, we are allowed to look at the trend line across years and draw the quite obvious conclusion that yes, temperatures have been rising in the last two decades as well.

(You'd think the 1998 argument would lose steam after the 2005 and 2010 global temperature anomalies actually surpassed the 1998 record, but I guess it was never an argument made in good faith.)

about a week ago
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Netflix Now Works On Linux With HTML5 DRM Video Support In Chrome

Kiwikwi Re:Why is (201 comments)

That begs the question, [...]

I see what you did there. Let's take it one at a time, thanks. ;-)

about two weeks ago
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Amazon's eBook Math

Kiwikwi Re:same thing again (306 comments)

Something rubbed me the wrong way, I think it was your false argument that there is no benefit in stating the obvious.

Hm, my fault then; I really was aiming for "+5 insightful", not "-1 rub the wrong way". :-)

There is a benefit to stating the obvious, it's just not a very big one. The problem with the Laffer curve is that it really just states two things: 1) At 0% taxation, there will be no tax revenue, and 2) At 100% taxation, there will be no tax revenue. And as mentioned, the latter of those two postulates, while "obvious", is also demonstrably false. This leaves postulate 1, which I can't disagree with, but which is also completely useless.

about three weeks ago
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Amazon's eBook Math

Kiwikwi Re:same thing again (306 comments)

Amazon's pricing argument is one instance of the same general phenomenon that gross expenditures, under some conditions, increase in response to price decreases. The effect has different names in different contexts:

With taxation, people sometimes refer to the Laffer Curve, which for levels of taxation to the right of the peak of the curve, reducing tax rates increases tax revenues.

For technology, Jevons Paradox explains why, as the efficiency of home appliances increases, so does energy consumption.

This is off-topic, but you brought up the Laffer curve and Jevons paradox, so here comes the rant.

Both make for some nice economic theory, and like much economic theory, it's mostly speculation.

The Laffer curve, for instance, is a nice "sciency" sounding name for the idea that at a 100% tax rate, there will be no tax income, since nobody will be doing any work if they have to pay all their income in taxes (thus the "optimal" tax rate must be somewhere between 0 and 100%, both excluded). Not only does the entire Laffer curve theory just state the "obvious" (it brings no insights as to what the optimal tax rate might be), but the premise is also demonstrably false, since people will actually do some work for free (but of course, volunteer work doesn't exist in mainstream economics; it's like wind resistance in introductory physics, you just ignore it).

Jevons paradox is the same; to quote the very article you linked to:

[...] Saunders dubbed the hypothesis that improvements in energy efficiency work to increase, rather than decrease, energy consumption the Khazzoom–Brookes postulate [a specific instance of the Jevons paradox]. Saunders showed that the Khazzoom–Brookes postulate was consistent with neo-classical growth theory (the mainstream economic theory of capital accumulation, technological progress and long-run economic growth) under a wide range of assumptions.

That's mainstream economic theory. Meanwhile, in the real world, using real observations, economists found that there was only a small rebound effect, and that energy efficiency improvements actually does decrease energy consumption. (But since reality conflicts with the theory, we'll just ignore reality.)

To get back on topic, I'm not saying all economic theory is bullshit (but there's lies, damn lies, and economics...), just that when people trot out economics, there's usually an agenda, and the invocation of economics is often part of an "appeal to authority" fallacy. (Like how the Laffer curve is inevitably brought up as an argument for reducing taxes, ignoring the fact that estimates of the "optimal" tax rate cluster around 70%(!), above even the highest income tax rates found anywhere in the world.)

Amazon is of course not above manipulating numbers for its own benefit; the most obvious flaw in their argument being that they (deliberately?) ignore how Amazon's price affects other sales channels.

about three weeks ago
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Put Your Code in the SWAMP: DHS Sponsors Online Open Source Code Testing

Kiwikwi Re:Coverity (67 comments)

Well, considering the budget of the DHS, they're going to do the right thing once in a while, purely by accident. ;-)

about three weeks ago
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Put Your Code in the SWAMP: DHS Sponsors Online Open Source Code Testing

Kiwikwi Re:Coverity (67 comments)

Sorry to break it to you, but Coverity's free-open source scanning was originally funded by the DHS. :-)

After the DHS grant expired in 2009, Coverity continued the service pro bono.

This new program seems like a step back, though. Now, if the DHS was instead investing in improving the open-source tools, it would make sense.

about three weeks ago
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Ridley Scott to Produce Philip K Dick's The Man In the High Castle

Kiwikwi Re:Blade Runner's script had little to do with Rid (144 comments)

I believe it was his call that the world be dystopian rather than utopian.

Well, the book was pretty darn dystopian... (well, it was a Philip K. Dick book). Scott did throw out Fancher's original script, which focused on the envionmental themes of the book, to instead focus on the question of humanity; a good thing too, because it's a much more compelling theme.

Scott, Mead, Ford, Hauer hell, even Vangellis never was better.

Let's not forget the work of primary script writer, David Peoples, who also authored the Clint Eastwood western Unforgiven. Two very different films and yet sharing a surprising number of commonalities.

I can also say that, having read "Man in High Castle", that's not an easy book to put to film.

Then again, neither was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and yet Blade Runner is an example of a near-perfect adaptation, even if the film, taken literally, retains almost nothing of the original book. (As PKD said, "The two reinforce each other, so that someone who started with the novel would enjoy the movie and someone who started with the movie would enjoy the novel.")

It could work. Although Ridley Scott's later work has been quite uneven, in my opinion. But fingers crossed.

about three weeks ago
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Open-Source Blu-Ray Library Now Supports BD-J Java

Kiwikwi Re:this is great news! (94 comments)

You are doing it wrong. Netflix at the highest bit rate is similar to BluRay, and they support 4k which is even better (and yes, the bitrate is adequate). As for downloads proper BluRay rips clock in around 10GB of an average 1.5-2 hour movie.

You don't know what you're talking about. Netflix's "Super HD" 1080p is 7 Mbit/s. A single-layer two-hour BluRay movie can be 18 Mbit/s and still leave room for an hour of extra material. The codecs are the same.

Sure, I don't mind the quality of a 10 GB H.264 BluRay rip; I wouldn't be able to tell the difference compared to the raw BluRay rip... which clocks in at 25 GB or more. But I can certainly tell the difference when I compare with the 6.3 GB Netflix "Super HD" version!

As for 4K, what's the point, when most movies are still mastered in 2K (Full HD)? Iron Man 3, Noah, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, every bloody Transformers movie... they're all mastered in 2K!

about a month ago
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The Improbable Story of the 184 MPH Jet Train

Kiwikwi Re:Maintenance for all trains is high (195 comments)

Not quite. Passenger trains have priority, and only lose it when they run late and even then, it is not that freight has priority over passenger service but that it does not have to yield to passenger trains.

Fair enough (though your Wikipedia reference doesn't really support your claim), but in much of Europe, the passenger trains do have right of way, even if they're running late. Any freight trains on the way are literally sidetracked to allow the passenger train to run at full speed.

I've only noticed this once; the train had been behind schedule and running slowly for a little while, and the driver came on the intercom to apologize, noting that we were just waiting for the freight train to get out of the way, so the passenger train could overtake. A little later, we sped up and drove past the cargo train, which was just sitting still on a shunting track in the middle of nowhere, allowing the passenger train to overtake on the main line.

about a month ago
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Cosmologists Show Negative Mass Could Exist In Our Universe

Kiwikwi Re:Dark X.....Negative X (214 comments)

They filled up the Dark X meme, so now are switching to the Negative X meme to explain oddities.

Yeah! This whole "negative number" concept is outrageous, who do they think they're fooling?!

about a month ago
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X.Org Server 1.16 Brings XWayland, GLAMOR, Systemd Integration

Kiwikwi Re:Systemd? Not on my system... (226 comments)

Systemd vs init: [...] complexly and half-assed, vs [doing] one thing very very well.

SysV init doing anything "very very well"?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

(phew) Thanks, that brightened my day!

about a month ago
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Malaysian Passenger Plane Reportedly Shot Down Over Ukraine

Kiwikwi Re:What was the plane even doing there? (752 comments)

if you look for older dates, you'll see that the route is much more to the south, almost above Crimea.

If you look further back, you'll see plenty of flights along the same route as the one used at the time of the crash. This was a quite ordinary flight route for MH17.

The real question is why it would ever fly over Crimea, when Crimean airspace has been closed since the Russian invasion in February.

about a month ago
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The Improbable Story of the 184 MPH Jet Train

Kiwikwi Re:Maintenance for all trains is high (195 comments)

It is a fundamental problem, that leads to the division of bulk (slow) hauling = railways, people & fast hauling = trucks/cars.

You're right about the division, but... In much of Europe, it's the other way around: trains carry passengers, trucks carry cargo. Because the higher speed trains have right-of-way vs. slow cargo trains. In the US, slow cargo trains have right-of-way, slowing down passenger trains.

Denmark doesn't even have real high-speed trains, but at a top-speed of 180 km/h it still exceeds anything you'd ever get away with on the highway. The few cargo trains we have mostly do their 40 km/h thing at night.

Long-distance bus lines like the American Greyhound are essentially non-existent in Denmark; the moment you need to travel more than maybe 30 km, it's by train or private car (or plane, for the longest distances).

about a month ago
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Damian Conway On Perl 6 and the Philosophy of Programming

Kiwikwi Re: "The real problem..." he explained (132 comments)

When an interpreted language breaks backwards compatibility, everyone is affected. Users suddenly can't run the program when their interpreter is updated.

Which is why we have separate /usr/bin/python2 and /usr/bin/python3 interpreters. So that programs can specify which one they use. You can even install e.g. Python 2.6 and Python 2.7 side-by-side if you have an application that is finicky enough to only run on 2.6.

On Windows, the situation is messier, which is why serious Python applications (e.g. Mercurial) bundle Python on Windows.

There's a lot of moaning about Python 2 vs. Python 3, but having worked professionally in Python and with Python applications for years, I have yet to experience problems worse than "oh, it'd be nice if Paramiko supported Python 3, so we could upgrade". (Which it does as of this March, so there's a nice little summer project at work.) Fact is, by now, the Python community is over the hump. All the important libraries support Python 3, and new applications are targeted at Python 3, with Python 2 compatibility being optional. (That's my professional experience, anyway.)

about a month and a half ago
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Seven ISPs Take Legal Action Against GCHQ

Kiwikwi Re:How are they going to get proof? (65 comments)

No single court has been appointed the Supreme Court of the European Union, with jurisdiction of every legal matter in the EU. SCOTUS does have jurisdiction over pretty much every legal matter in the US.

The US Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction over all legal matters in the US. Specifically, it has no jurisdiction over state law, unless that law conflicts with federal law. In this respect it resembles the European Court of Justice quite a bit.

Jurisdiction over federal law (including treaties to which the federation is a party)? Both. Jurisdiction over member state law not in conflict with federal law? Neither. Jurisdiction in disputes about federal law between member states? Both. Jurisdiction in other disputes between member states? No in the case of ECJ, and not applicable in the case of SCOTUS, since US states cannot enter treaties on their own and are hence only bound by federal law.

I'll grant you that SCOTUS has jurisdiction over all maritime matters and the ECJ does not (unless regulated by EU law or a treaty to which the EU is a party), as well as certain federal officials. (In the EU, officials are bound by national law, except for actions in an official capacity, which are under ECJ jurisdiction like all other EU institutions.)

The more you argue, the more I'm beginning to realize that the ECJ and the SCOTUS are in fact very similar; the biggest difference being that the EU still clings to the fantasy that it's not a federation. :-)

about a month and a half ago
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Seven ISPs Take Legal Action Against GCHQ

Kiwikwi Re:How are they going to get proof? (65 comments)

So no, the ECJ or ECHR are NOT an equivalent of the United States Supreme Court.

I never claimed that the ECJ was anything like the SCOTUS, only that it was a supreme court, as in "the highest judicial tribunal in a political unit" (Merriam-Webster), or specifically as in a court that makes final judicial decisions that bind lower courts and is not subject to any other court.

And no, I was not thinking about the ECHR. Even if this case might tangentially touch upon European human right law, I am well aware that the ECHR is not an EU court.

Did you even read the page you're quoting? The ECJ is not a Supreme Court, as national cases cannot be appealed to the ECJ.

You (as a citizen) cannot appeal a case to the ECJ, but you can challenge the law or intepretation of that law (under which the original case was decided) in a national court; the court may then direct the case to the ECJ. In other words, if you can make a reasonable case that GCHQ violates EU law, but is found in a UK court not to violate UK law, the case can certainly end up before the ECJ.

This has happened numerous times.

The [U.S.] Supreme Court has a much broader horizon when it comes to legal issues, most notably they can declare a national law to be unconstitutional.

The EU might not have a constitution, but the ECJ can certainly overturn EU law found to violate basic rights of citizens.

about a month and a half ago

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