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Maldives Denies Russian Claims That Secret Service Kidnapped a Politician's Son

benjfowler Red notice (100 comments)

Interpol Red Notices are routinely used by oppressive regimes to harass political opponents abroad. They're not always effective; governments seem to be free to ignore these things if it appears to be politically motivated.

It's not a good look for the Russians to be so cheeky as to protest a common thief getting busted like this. I should hope that if somebody in (say) the UK ripped off a few thousand Russian pensioners over the internet, that the Russians could have him handed over (and thrown in Russian PMITA prison) quickly. Our Russian friends seem to have forgotten the notions of reciprocity.

about two weeks ago
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Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

benjfowler Re:Java or Python (415 comments)

Too much ceremony for doing simple things. And I'm speaking as somebody who builds big Java applications for a living.

Try explaining the meaning of "public static void main(String[] args)" to somebody who's never written any code before...

about two weeks ago
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Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

benjfowler Java or Python (415 comments)

Lots of people hate the whitespace block-delimiting, but I think Python is *way* better than Java for beginning programming classes.

I've seen the transition my alma mater made, between Modula-2 and Java. Modula-2 is trivial to pick up for anybody who cut their teeth on Turbo Pascal or Delphi, and "hello world" is quite easy to explain to anybody otherwise unfamiliar with programming. Try repeating that trick with Java's equivalent, and you'll understand why first-year dropout rates skyrocketed upon the switch. Anyway, Python has some nice goodies in the language which lends itself nicely to teaching both OO, and functional styles in the one language.

I've even seen this in non-IT specialties; at Imperial College here in London, the newbies learn Python (stands to reason, because it's the weapon of choice for many scientists, especially physicists). King's College, OTOH force their first-years to take a unit of Fortran, which actually manages to be about fifty times worse than any other language I've attempted to use.

The steepness of the learning curve is critical AFAICT -- you don't want to spoon-feed kids, but you don't want to crush them in their first two weeks at college either.

about two weeks ago
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Wireless Contraception

benjfowler Re:Male contraceptive already in use (302 comments)

Write-in entry: Google Glass.

Being a 'glasshole' makes one look like such a complete dork, that there's no way on Earth any woman would want to copulate with you.

about two weeks ago
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Wireless Contraception

benjfowler Re:Hmm (302 comments)

It's really easy. Stop paying people to have kids. And bring in changes to turn kids from assets into liabilities -- works everywhere.

You'll get the usual left-wing hand-wringing about "child poverty" and "overcrowding" -- but the only people who are "overcrowded", are conservative Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims who can't keep their reactionary, undereducated dicks to themselves.

about two weeks ago
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Wireless Contraception

benjfowler Re:yes but (302 comments)

WTF? "hyper-reactionary" "liberal".

Sorry -- did I just find myself in a parallel universe?

about two weeks ago
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

benjfowler Re:Insurance premiums can be reduced another way.. (353 comments)

Better yet, get yourself an NHS, and give everyone a basic health plan funded out of general revenue.

The usual corporate pigs will scream blue murder, but everyone will forget it once they realize the absolutely massive efficiency gains to be made, by having the system waste vast resources handling private insurance overhead instead of healing people.

The NHS over here is a gigantic, expensive command economy (and one of the biggest employers in the world), and it isn't quite up to Mayo Clinic standards, but it is absolutely, vastly more efficient than the colossal fuckup that is the US private health system. And it's abolished medical expenses as a cause of bankruptcy.

Not a few times, I've heard the phrase "thank God for the NHS". Americans will eventually understand the truth, and get one too.

about two weeks ago
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

benjfowler Re:What's the point (353 comments)

We do that in the NHS too.

But the problem of having the NHS pay for treating useless fat chavs who eat too much, is far outweighed by relieving the entire population of the danger of medical bankruptcy at the hands of rapacious private health insurers and doctors.

And you know what? We in England **LOVE** it.

Medical bankruptcy is unheard-of in the UK, and we love it. Rich tossers who don't like having to wait for elective surgery can still get the gold-plated private crap if they really want it.

about two weeks ago
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

benjfowler Cheating (353 comments)

Why not simply outlaw insurance companies attempting to cheat? Because this is basically what insurance companies are trying to do -- make a big play at getting something for nothing off their subscribers.

Or when it comes to moral hazard, is there just one set of rules for us little people, and another for the corporations?

about two weeks ago
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US Arrests Son of Russian MP In Maldives For Hacking

benjfowler Re:Kidnapping. (176 comments)

The Russians are masters of passive aggression when it comes to law enforcement when it suits them: the place is corrupt from top to bottom, and it manifests itself in a complete lack of desire to cooperate in international law enforcement. They have a convenient clause in their constitution which lets them refuse to extradite anybody, no matter what -- but is only exercised when it suits them.

Not arresting Russia's own cybercriminals is just another way for the notoriously erratic and thin-skinned Putin to poke the West in the eye and annoy us.

about three weeks ago
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The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers

benjfowler So... (162 comments)

In other words, this is basically Drools, plus a ton of billable consulting hours?

about three weeks ago
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Damian Conway On Perl 6 and the Philosophy of Programming

benjfowler Re:syntax (132 comments)

I'm a professional developer.

The syntax of Perl is uniquely idiotic, particularly the utterly fucked weak type system, and the difficulty for doing things the right way, and the ease in doing things the wrong way.

I refuse to learn it properly. I'd rather expend the mental effort required, on more useful, sane and productive languages.

about three weeks ago
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Damian Conway On Perl 6 and the Philosophy of Programming

benjfowler Re:Fourteen years? (132 comments)

More like the baby they had all those years ago, is now old enough to vote and fuck.

about three weeks ago
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Senate Budgetmakers Move To End US Participation In ITER

benjfowler Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (225 comments)

The energy density of hydrocarbons is high; but fusion reactors running on a D-T mix is a whole different ballgame; it would require barely a kilogram of fuel to power a city the size of London for a day. Consider how much coal could do the same thing.

I went to visit the CCFE (the site of the Joint European Torus, the direct predecessor of ITER); on the way, I passed Didcot Power Station. It powers a good portion of the South East of England, and they had a tailback of coal wagons feeding coal into the power plant 24/7... that is a fuckload of coal...

about three weeks ago
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Senate Budgetmakers Move To End US Participation In ITER

benjfowler Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (225 comments)

Amusing, since if we crack economical fusion power, then we could completely avoid entanglements with said brown people in the first place. The amount of blood and treasure the West has to expend to secure secure energy supplies (and in the process, suck up to barely-literate savages who hate us), is staggering.

You could take a quarter of what the US spends on the military in a single year, and build DEMO.

In the greater scheme of things, ITER is a rounding error. I wouldn't be surprised if some Saudi foul play were involved.

about three weeks ago
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Swedish Farmers Have Doubts About Climatologists and Climate Change

benjfowler Motivated reasoning (567 comments)

It's motivated reasoning: farmers are 'against' climate change, because the implications of it being true would force them to make difficult changes. Therefore they choose not to believe this fact.

Farmers are typically greedy and not very bright -- mostly due to a 'Dead Sea effect' of all the bright and motivated people leaving rural communities, leaving the genetic detritus behind.

about a month ago
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Australian Government Seeks To Boost Spy Agencies' Powers

benjfowler Re:WTF Australia need spy agency for?! (54 comments)

They do have an aggressive colonial minority which inhabit south western Sydney, which you could say, is at war with Australia.

about a month ago
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Russia Wants To Replace US Computer Chips With Local Processors

benjfowler Re:No, that means it is still being used (340 comments)

The reentry blackout can be designed around. Turns out that the profile of the Shuttle was such that when it reenters, there's a big enough hole in the plasma sheath around the Shuttle's vertical stabilizer that they could attach an antenna that pointed straight up towards the TDRS satellites, and maintain continuous coverage.

I've heard of designs where an antenna can be trailed behind the spacecraft, but I'm not sure how practical that could actually be.

about a month ago
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Russia Wants To Replace US Computer Chips With Local Processors

benjfowler Re:The OpenSSL Disasters were a result of attitude (340 comments)

You must be awesome fun at parties.

Railing at 'intellectual elites' is a Shibboleth which marks people out as Dunning-Kruger asshats.

about a month ago

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