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Schneier: The US Government Has Betrayed the Internet, We Need To Take It Back

foreverdisillusioned Re:Mesh internet / web of trust now! (397 comments)

And by non-RSA, I don't just mean elliptic curve. The encryption protocol needs to support stateful and nonstateful solutions. Symmetric-only with web of trust, asymmetric+symmetric (like we have now), changing-response symmetric signing as an alternative to asymmetric certs, even one time pads need to be supported. All of these have advantages and disadvantages. And it should never be obvious to an eavesdropper which is being used at any given time.

about 7 months ago
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Schneier: The US Government Has Betrayed the Internet, We Need To Take It Back

foreverdisillusioned Re:Mesh internet / web of trust now! (397 comments)

Junk traffic degrades performance for other people; optional variable latency improves it. That said, they could coexist.

about 7 months ago
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Schneier: The US Government Has Betrayed the Internet, We Need To Take It Back

foreverdisillusioned Mesh internet / web of trust now! (397 comments)

It's our only hope.

Also: mandatory encryption, support for non-RSA modes of key exchange, and (this is what Tor really lacks) extra latency on request.

about 7 months ago
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Ken Wallis Autogyro Pioneer Dies At 97

foreverdisillusioned Re:Autogyros (49 comments)

I'm sure someone more knowledgeable than myself will come along and correct you about autogyros being obsolete.

I'll get them started: they're simpler/cheaper and are arguably more reliable than helicopters in case of mechanical failure. Any lingering safety concerns are largely a result of pilots used to other craft not understanding the handling characteristics of autogyros. The only major disadvantages vs. helicopters are they can't hover (though they can fly much slower than airplanes) and they can't do a vertical takeoff without tip jets or some other sort of specialized launcher. Important features, sure, but not always worth the attendant disadvantages.

about 7 months ago
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Egyptian Authorities Detain French "Spy" Bird Found With Tracker

foreverdisillusioned But is that any excuse for unsourced assertions?? (110 comments)

"A previous rumor in 2010 blamed a series of shark attacks along Egypt's Mediterranean coast on an Israeli plot. It wasn't."

[Citation needed]

about 7 months ago
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Future Astronauts Must Deal With Toxic Chemicals In Martian Soil

foreverdisillusioned A more interesting question (117 comments)

It's not too hard to imagine a total extinction event. To my mind the interesting point here is that there is that Martian soil contains a known energy source. That's... spectecular. We already know there's plenty of oxygen tied up in the iron oxide in the soil, and now we know there's also energy for microbes. That's one step closer to terraforming. And hey, in the process they'll get rid of this pesky toxic stuff too, at least on the surface layers.

about 10 months ago
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New Bill Would Declassify FISC Opinions

foreverdisillusioned a good start but... (130 comments)

We need something more fundamental. Like it never being against the law to disclose information on crimes committed by intelligence agencies, and enforcement of existing laws once those crimes come to light: for example, Keith Alexander needs to be arrested for perjury. Perhaps we could bring back private prosecutions... that would certainly go a long way towards ensuring public officials are not above the law.

This more holistic approach is necessary because the usual suspects (CIA, NSA) and the usual frameworks (FISC) only capture a tiny fraction of what the intelligence community actually engages in. Take the NRO ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Reconnaissance_Office ) for example. It has a comparable budget to the more well known agencies and they were even caught by the CIA to be squirrelling away extra money, presumably to finance black projects. They started in spy satellites but these days they appear to devote a significant portion of the resources towards hacking. They really put the NSA to shame when it comes to blackhat and grayhat activities, though good luck finding anyone to confirm that for you. Let's just say they appear to enjoy inspiring awe and fear in their employees, to the point where though I've met several people who worked for them I had to do a considerable amount of detective work and deduction to figure it out. And even then there was no explicit confirmation I was right, just a wry smile and a "I can neither confirm nor deny..."

And that's just an agency we know about. Like the NSA before it, the NRO used to be secret. And there remain still more secret intelligence agencies today, probably even more fearsome and powerful than the public ones. And if you think these guys go through FISC every time they feel the urge to skim through someone's inbox...

So, back to my original point: what we really need here is a mechanism to permit the discovery and prosecution of people who conceal crimes, both for the original crime and for the act of covering it up by claiming state secrets. Crimes like lying to congress under oath. Or spying on American citizens, without judicial oversight, in ways that would be illegal if a private citizen did it (which does not necessarily apply to PRISM but most certainly applies to other programs.)

about 10 months ago
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Crowd-Funded Radio Beacon Will Message Aliens

foreverdisillusioned you joke, but... (196 comments)

This is at best a waste of money. I know he catches some flak for this, but Stephen Hawking has it right. There's no reason at all we should expect intelligent alien life forms to deal with us as respected equals, especially if they are considerably more advanced. At the same time, it would be too much to hope for them to ignore us. Our planet would be a treasure trove of scientific interest to them, and even practical interest in the same way rainforests are useful to biochemists or bacteria are useful to genetic engineers. The altruism argument ignores how very limited it is here on Earth. Forget intercultural conflict, how many people give/gave a shit enough about dead dolphins enough to boycott tuna? Or save the poor bonobos? Their intelligence is a lot closer to ours than ours would be to any life form advanced enough to travel the stars (unless they had some kind of taboo on both genetic and cybernetic enhancement.) Overall point being: altruism isn't a prerequisite for advanced spaceflight, but relentless pragmatism is.

Fortunately, what with the speed of light being what it is, this shouldn't be of any immediate concern.

Also, I think there's a recent 'obligatory' xkcd that's quite on-topic here if anyone wants to whore some karma. In the what if section.

about 10 months ago
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USA Calling For the Extradition of Snowden

foreverdisillusioned Re:Is perjury a crime? (955 comments)

I would argue (quite unsuccessfully, I'm sure) that any wing of the military or intelligence community that takes takespayer dollars while actively lying about the activities it engages in to the powers that are supposed to oversee it is effectively attempting to subvert the democratically elected government through (and this is where their role as members of the military community comes into play) force and coercion. Which is treason. I agree with the spirit of your post in that we don't want the charge to be thrown around too lightly, but I think it fits cases like these a lot better than it fits someone who, say, did a radio show for the Nazis or al Qaeda. But, then, I view the idea of 'government' in a democracy as being considerably more than just the authoritarian whims of whoever is currently in office.

about 10 months ago
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USA Calling For the Extradition of Snowden

foreverdisillusioned Is perjury a crime? (955 comments)

Snowden claims that one of the specific reasons why he chose to act is because the NSA was deliberately lying to congress. If that isn't a crime, it should be. IMO it should be considered treason, but the very least I think it is a clear-cut case of perjury.

Of course, the government will punish the real guilty parties here to the same extent that they punished the criminal activities Manning revealed...

about 10 months ago
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Saudi Arabia Blocks Viber Messaging Service

foreverdisillusioned They can't tell you're using Tor (83 comments)

Not if you're using a bridge relay. A very powerful adversary could determine the existence of relays and flag you if you talk too much to them, but that's beyond the power of even a rather rich Middle Eastern country. https://www.torproject.org/docs/bridges

Now, they could try to ban https as a way of indirectly banning Tor but I don't think that will go over too well for security reasons.

about 10 months ago
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Japan's Radiation Disaster Toll: None Dead, None Sick

foreverdisillusioned Re:it was sickening (319 comments)

Disposing so it can't be used to make nukes.

about 10 months ago
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Japan's Radiation Disaster Toll: None Dead, None Sick

foreverdisillusioned Re:it was sickening (319 comments)

Yes, sensationalism is bad, but I think you may be taking me just a tiny bit out of context if you read that post to be pro-sensationalism. I chose those words merely to emphasize that it wasn't a matter of sensationalism, that there were plenty of captivating stories that they could have focused on instead of the relative non-issue of Fukushima.

about 10 months ago
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Japan's Radiation Disaster Toll: None Dead, None Sick

foreverdisillusioned Re:Step down from the soap box... (319 comments)

No one is denying that this is about future of nuclear power here, but the gp provided an on-topic injection of perspective. Over 50% of the media coverage in this country was dedicated to a specific aspect of the larger tsunami disaster that from the very beginning clearly was going to claim a very small number of lives, if any.

Though I'm not sure what's the point any more. There is a portion of the population that extends far beyond the viewership of Fox News that refuses to base any decisions on anything but gut feelings. Quick, without googling, how many people died because of Three Mile Island? And yet it was still enough to be a death warrant for nuclear power in favor of technologies that merely cause global warming and poison the seas with mercury.

about 10 months ago
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Japan's Radiation Disaster Toll: None Dead, None Sick

foreverdisillusioned it was sickening (319 comments)

This. In a rage I gave up trying to follow the disaster in the media after just a few days as it became clear there was little interest in the tens of thousands dead and harrowing stories of survival.

It's all the more screwed up seeing as how the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill happened just a year before. Eleven people died, instantly. Because unlike a modern nuclear reactor, oil will in fact explode with a giant fireball if something goes wrong. Unlike Fukushima, the ensuing geiser of oil quickly polluted hundreds of thousands of square miles to an extent that it was easily and prominently seen from space. Our solution to this was to dump millions of gallons of toxic and carcenogenic chemicals on top of it until we couldn't see the oil any more. Problem solved! Out of sight, out of mind. Meanwhile, how many billions of sea creatures perished and how many new cases of cancer are we going to see in the decades to come? We'll probably never know, because oil disasters just aren't sexy like nuclear disasters are.

Oh yeah, and I am sick and fucking tired of not being able to eat large amounts of the tastiest fish in the sea because they are contiminated with huge amounts of mercury, primarily (from my understanding) through the burning of coal. Imagine the hysteria we'd see if the fish were actually mildly radioactive instead of merely full of toxic heavy metals that, unlike most radioactive sources, linger in your body unless you undergo chelation therapy.

Nuclear sucks, it has security issues (although it could also safely and usefully dispose of all the Uranium 235 in the world, an angle I rarely hear anyone mention), and it's not renewable. But it would be so, so nice if people would fucking grow up and make even a token effort at objectively evaluating opportunity costs instead of continually screaming at the top of their lungs about pet issues.

about 10 months ago
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Dao, a New Programming Language Supporting Advanced Features With Small Runtime

foreverdisillusioned Re:There's a reason nobody talks about it (404 comments)

It depends on whether you're fully using Clojure's expressiveness. I'm not an expert on how JVM internals work but I'd be astonished if something with heavy use of first class functions or CLOS (assuming Clojure has a CLOS equivalent) ended up running within an order of magnitude of Common Lisp's performance.

I do know that Clojure's performance is not yet adequate on Android. Or at least it wasn't a year ago.

about 10 months ago
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GMO Wheat Found Growing Wild In Oregon, Japan Suspends Import From U.S.

foreverdisillusioned Re: 'organic' is bullshit (679 comments)

Um, tobacco was 'proven safe' for hundreds if not thousands of years before anyone suspected it of causing serious illness. Less than 100 years ago you could find doctors actually recommending light smoking (usually they didn't like heavy smoking, but then the default is to not like anything without moderation) as treatment for various illness. My own grandmother recommended it for treatment for a headache. Or maybe it was an earache, I forget.

Folk anecdotes does beat no testing, but only for immediate and strong effects. When it comes time to test it scientifically, you really need to isolate specific compounds. It's too hard to ensure the chemical composition is exactly the same from batch to batch, year to year.

about a year ago
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GMO Wheat Found Growing Wild In Oregon, Japan Suspends Import From U.S.

foreverdisillusioned Re: 'organic' is bullshit (679 comments)

I wager if you took the amount of cocaine contained in a single coca leaf and let it dissolve slowly under your tongue it too would also be a "mild stimulant barely more addictive than coffee." Do you know how many coca leaves you need to make a significant quantity of cocaine?

Fun fact #2: In refined form nicotine is a very mildly addctive, mildly-if-at-all carcinogenic substance with great potential for medical usage. It's only when it's combined with the other crap in tobacco it becomes a nightmare. Even if you take the combustion out of the equasion, chewing tobacco is still considerably more dangerous and addictive than nicotine gum.

In some cases of course the 'other junk' can have beneficial effects, but it could also harmful effects as well. There's no reason to assume one way or the other. With the refined chemical you at least know how much you're getting, whereas plant extracts often vary wildly.

It is perfectly rational to prefer a form and mixture that has proven safe for decades or centuries

hah. The problem with this is folk wisdom is, while sometimes right, often wrong. Sometimes tremendously wrong, especially if there are long term effects (negative or positive) involved. I think homeopathy alone demonstrates just how useless popular sentiment is, but for an even more fabuous example of this kind of folk 'wisdom' at work (though not directly connected to herbs or medicine), check out "male menstruation" on wikipedia. For every successful herb you can come up with that was validated by science, I can give you a hundred more that were proven not just useless, but actually harmful: laetrile, coffee enemas...

about a year ago
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Dao, a New Programming Language Supporting Advanced Features With Small Runtime

foreverdisillusioned Re:There's a reason nobody talks about it (404 comments)

The best thing about Lisp IMO is the way it exposes the underlying mechanisms. This is most evident in its syntax and macro system, which makes you really think about scope and binding order and the full implications/uses/interactions between multiple lexical environments, but generic functions is another good example. Prior to Lisp I'd tinkered in C++ and Java and I'd always thought of methods as these vaguely functionlike things that were nonetheless quite different and inseparably tied to certain common OO paradigms. CLOS made me realize that a method is just a function that:

1. Is designed to always accept one object as an argument (silly and arbitrary limitation.)

2. Examines the type of its arguments to determine which version of the function to use. This is usually determined via a very rigid inheritence scheme, whereas CLOS treats everything as an object and allows you to specify completely arbitrary patterns to match, with the default behavior being to use the most "specific" (to the arguments' types) method available. Also, as I said before, you can chain together parent methods in arbitrary ways instead of having to choose to either overwrite or keep the parent method.

Regarding your question about the lack of Lisp dominance, the answer is both simple and sad. Programming language popularity is driven by a combination of novel coolness and the marketing powers that be, not merit. Also, "good enough" syndrome prevents many programming languages (and applications for that matter) from absorbing very minor, taken-for-granted features that newcomers will expect, so the learning curve becomes a lot steeper than it should be. In Lisp this takes the most obvious form of not giving noobs an easier sub-language that doesn't require constant use of parens. Lisp veterans recognize that explicit scoping is highly desirable in most cases and have trained themselves to read and type it easily, but this isn't of much consolation to a newcomer, especially if they are attempting to use an editor without proper paren matching or auto intendation.

You're probably right in Clojure being the future of Lisp, but this is a perfect (and very depressing) example of what I just explained. Clojure is inferior in every way to Scheme or Common Lisp except it runs on JVM and it has a few native concurrency features. The latter sounds nice but who the hell cares about native concurrency if your language is several orders of magnitude slower? Common Lisp has concurrency libraries. It is also a true compiled language and with proper declarations can made to run at around 50% the speed of well written C. The problem is, Lisp wasn't always so fast. It took decades to reach that point during a period when computers were really, really slow. (People actually needed hardware acceleration to run it at acceptable speeds: see "Lisp Machine") By the time it became fast enough, the cool kids had moved on, so the Lisp crowd had to sit back and watch the new generation painfully re-discover all of those amazing features like garbage collection, weak/optional strong typing, closures, etc. And they're still nowhere near where Lisp was a quarter century ago.

If you want to hear some more CL cheerleading and get a small taste of some of its powers that modern languages still can't touch, check out Paul Graham. His book On Lisp is available online now: http://www.paulgraham.com/onlisptext.html . If you find that interesting, Let Over Lambda is a very smug little book almost guaranteed to blow your mind: http://letoverlambda.com/index.cl/toc . Some of Hoyte's ideas seem demented, but others (especially regarding the role of syntax, referential transparency being overrated, and the right way to use lexical environments) are quite profound.

about a year ago

Submissions

foreverdisillusioned hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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Foes

foreverdisillusioned foreverdisillusioned writes  |  more than 8 years ago I'd just like to take this time to mention that 95% of those on my foe list are ID Creationists and have made an active and horribly illogical attempt to defend their beliefs. Many rely on disproven arguments or outright lies, and I believe that it is the duty of every person, religious or not, to actively reject this blatant attack on science and religion.

EDIT: Ok, since I've made this post I've added a lot more to my foe list, only a few of which were realted to ID. Generally, my foes are people who've:

1. Strongly defended the war on terror (and sacrifices we've made in the name of it, both monetary and our freedoms) even in the face of numbers showing that terrorism is a laughably insignificant problem for us, relatively speaking. It's such bullshit that the one-time loss of 2,500 lives is supposed to necessitate well over a trillion dollars in spending (including both wars) and incredible loss of our civil rights (most notably judicial oversight, due process, and privacy), and yet the 50,000+ each year to car accidents doesn't justify similar expenditures to make our roads safer, and the 1,500,000+ people who die from stroke or heart attack each year don't justify the loss of freedom of restaurants (espeically fast food) to sell extremely unhealthful food--I'm not saying I would support this kind of a reaction, but it would certainly be a trivial freedom to lose compared to privacy and due process, and the number of lives lost yearly is MANY orders of magnitude greater.

Some people then say "oh it's not about the lives; it's about the money. The WTC cost a lot to build!" which is bullshit. It doesn't compare to the healthcare costs and productivity lost from heart attack and stroke, and it's a drop in the bucket compared to what we spent on the war on terror. All other arguments are either delusional ("they hate our freedom! they'll stop at nothing until our cities are in ruin!") or basically amount to "well it's scary-er when another human being does it, therefore that justifies our EXTREME overreaction."

2. Spouted blatant anti-Linux/pro-MS BS. I don't have a problem with people who say that they prefer MS's software or that it does XYZ better than Linux or that Linux needs to work on XYZ, but a few have crossed the line. In particular, it irritates me when people refuse to acknowledge the extremely anti-competitive things Microsft has done and continues to do (and the fact that they were legally ruled a monopoly.)

3. Stated things tantamount to "I believe my own personal sexual morally should be forcefully imposed on the populace at large" including censorship, etc. Fuck you. If you don't like it, you don't have to watch TV or listen to the radio, or you can tune into only those stations that are committed to "family" programming. Neither you nor the FCC should have the right to enforce your highly disturbing "blood&guts=good, boobs=bad" morality on the rest of us.

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Bitchin'

foreverdisillusioned foreverdisillusioned writes  |  more than 8 years ago Ubuntu kicks righteous ass. That's all there is to it. I've been perfectly willing to try Linux for YEARS now, but since every single distro did NOT work out of the box (didn't detect important hardware or outright froze)--Red Hat, Mandrake, SuSe, Gentoo (installed by my friend who's a Linux fiend), and even Knoppix--I have been very reluctant. For me, a computer is a tool first, and something to tinker with second. Ubuntu works right out of the fucking box, and it works *well*, and I'm overjoyed that I'll never have to touch Windows again for anything other than hardcore gaming. Kudos to the crazy rich South African who made it possible. Not that the Debian team and Linus and RMS don't deserve credit, but us semi-geeks need a distro, too.

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Sigs

foreverdisillusioned foreverdisillusioned writes  |  more than 9 years ago I hate sigs. At the very least, there needs to be some sort of option to colorize them so my eye can easily skip over them.

...nonetheless, there is a rather amusing (to me, anyway) phrase that keeps popping into my head. It was something a good friend of mine said to me after I had just showed him Memento for the first time and I was trying to explain it to him--a task made difficult because the girls in the room had started an impromptu pillow fight. It sounds exactly like the sort of thing you'd find in a sig, so what the hell. My first sig.

It feels good to join the dark side.

Update: Well what do ya know, they added a little "--" that you can turn on and off. Handy.

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