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Comments

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As Nuclear Reactors Age, the Money To Close Them Lags

inviolet Re:Unlikely (292 comments)

They'll just use corrupt business laws and politics to rape the "retirement accounts" for their own benefit. Then they'll leave the dangerous corpses of their businesses as a warning to future generations on the stupidity of trusting your future to lowest-common-denominator businessmen.

Yep.

It's situations like this, and the revelation of how costs were cut on Fukushima's seawall by omitting the datapoint of the big tsunami in the 1800s, that made me realize something that shocked me:

Nuclear power is perfectly safe, ideal, and awesome... but nuclear power built by humans is NOT. As a species we are short-sighted venal lying scammers, so there are many glorious technologies (nanotech anyone?) that become liabilities in our hands.

more than 2 years ago
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Psychic Ability Claim Doesn't Hold Up In New Scientific Experiments

inviolet Re:Not surprising (315 comments)

Look at the available evidence - if there was any psychic ability then the chances are that it would already be well documented.

No, that's backwards, because:

Even a slight statistical ability would have big impacts in warfare, commerce and many other areas of life.

Whatever real psychics are out there, they either a) are getting rich in the stock market (etc.) and not talking about it, or b) have all been sucked into various intelligence agencies.

The only way an ordinary member of the ballast like yourself would hear of proven psychic powers, is if they were so common that they could not be kept under wraps.

more than 2 years ago
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Growth of Pseudoscience Harming Australian Universities

inviolet Re:What a relief (566 comments)

I started reading the title of this thread and though "please don't be the US".

After all, we have - global climate change deniers - anti-vaccination groups - paleo diet followers - raw foodism - a museum that claims dinosaurs and cavemen lived together on the newly created 5 thousand year old Earth.

What a relief to know that the US is not the only developed country with a problem of people making up their own reality.

Your attempt at passing off a package deal has been detected by automatic scanners.

"One of these things is not like the other . . . one of these things does not belong . . . "

more than 2 years ago
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Lawyers For Mining Companies Threaten Scientific Journals

inviolet Re:Threatening? (205 comments)

When I read the summary, I thought it was some letter (maybe in the style of Jack Thompson) threatening anyone who published any research related to the lawsuit, thus attempting to create a chilling effect over any impartial researcher who might be studying the field. [...]Most importantly, it doesn't prevent anything from being published, merely requests a 90 day waiting period before publishing anything from the parties in the lawsuit. There could be some funny business going on here, but this letter doesn't show it.

What, did you just arrive on this planet after thumbing a ride on a passing spaceship piloted by a green bug-eyed monster who was headed for the Basingstoke roundabout? What do you think will happen during those 90 days if the studies reach any conclusion that is not "OMG underground diesel exhaust is teh AWESOMES!!!11!"?

more than 2 years ago
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Lawyers For Mining Companies Threaten Scientific Journals

inviolet Re:So...lawyers blocking publication? (205 comments)

It seems to me that this is utterly backwards. The scientific journals should be sending cease-and-desist to the lawyers, saying that a peer reviewed study is pending and all litigation should cease until 90 days after it has been published.

Sound stupid? But the idea that lawyers are the best judge of science is currently having more and more of a throttling effect on the USA. In fact, if you weigh in sociology and experimental psychology, it can be argued that scientists should have more part in law making than at present. Though the concept that people who make laws should have exact knowledge of something might adversely affect some politicians.

You would only think that if you did not work in those fields. Those who do work in those fields (including my best friend) are keenly aware of the comically low quality, the embarrassing irreproducibility, and the appalling "p hunting", that all enter in to studies in psychology, experimental psychology, and sociology. Not to mention the very grave "selection bias" problems that stem from the fact that most psychology and sociology studies are poorly funded and are therefore conducted on fellow psychology and sociology students.

No one who has experienced the state of research in those fields would ever, ever consider basing legislation on such results.

more than 2 years ago
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Lawyers For Mining Companies Threaten Scientific Journals

inviolet Re:it's (205 comments)

So who cares?

Words and punctuation have meaning. If you use them improperly, you change the meaning of what is being said. This matters a lot in contracts as well as everyday communication.

Secondly, this is a website for technically minded people. Presumably, many of us have been programmers at some point, or at least we have some familiarity with coding. If you are not such, let me assure you that a compiler cares about spelling and punctuation. It cares a lot.

The whole idea of "proper spelling" is a recent cultural invention. Prior to the 1800s, writers often spelled things phonetically. And while a misspelling can occasionally "change the meaning of what is being said", I doubt it happens more than rarely that a) a misspelling changes the meaning significantly yet b) the readers don't catch the mistake from context.

In my mind, the best argument to make in favor of proper spelling is: search engines. Today the zeitgeist thinks using search engines, and most search engines (including e.g. the simpler 'find' commands) are not spelling-agnostic. Not yet anyway.

But even then, how often do your search results depend on the difference between "it's" and "its"?

more than 2 years ago
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Study Says Fracking is Safe In Theory But Often Not In Practice

inviolet Re:Study in texas.... (297 comments)

Reminds me of something we say in UI design meetings:

"If 3% of your users screw up, it's a user problem... but if 30% of your users screw up, it's a UI problem."

If the fracking process is not tolerant of hasty, underfunded, undertrained, fly-by-night drilling operations, then the process is not suitable for deployment here in the West.

more than 2 years ago
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New EU Legal Privacy Framework: We're Not Kidding

inviolet Re:So... (243 comments)

No it can't just be ignored. If these laws pass, every EU country will be forced to implement them. The European Commission has very sharp teeth indeed on stuff like this, and does not take kindly to companies trying to ignore its rules.

Yep yep.

As a US citizen now thoroughly ashamed of my society's behavior (esp. regulatory capture, as well as the all-classes corruption of the housing bubble), this news is the first time in my entire life that European society has seemed superior.

It is quite a moment for me, coming as it is at the tail end of twenty years of staunch libertarian patriotism.

more than 2 years ago
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Russian Official Implies Foul Play In Mars Probe Failure

inviolet Re:Medvedev threatened prosecution (451 comments)

Russian President Medvedev threatened to prosecute those responsible for the space failures. No surprise that the individuals in question are now looking to blame someone else.

Yeah, THAT will sure attract new talent to their space program! Alex, I'll take Perverse Incentives for 500 rubles, please!

And never mind the equally important point that the current team at least learned something and won't repeat this particular mistake again. Can't say that for the new team.

more than 2 years ago
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Russian Official Implies Foul Play In Mars Probe Failure

inviolet Re:What else is foul play? (451 comments)

That submarine? Pipelines? The military planes which crash and burn at every air show in the world?

Russia still can't get over the fact that, in terms of being some sort of global player they're about as important as Spain. They didn't have any problems when they were sealing dogs in rockets and bunging them into orbit - that's about their level.

I am amused to report that they couldn't even handle that. Laika was accidentally killed very very early in the flight. The rest of her time aboard the capsule, and the gentle story of her demise, was all fiction.

more than 2 years ago
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British Schoolchildren To Get Programming Lessons

inviolet Re:It shouldn't be mandatory (273 comments)

While I appreciate the need to expose students to computer classes in the same way they're exposed to other subjects, I don't think that something as specific as programming should be a *mandatory* requirement. Programming is a vocation, like many vocations, that some people are cut out for and other people are not. Those with a true passion for it will actively seek it out and those with no interest in it will hate it no matter how many programming classes you force them take. You can't MAKE a great programmer any more than you can MAKE a great engineer, mechanic, etc. Someone has to WANT it first.

I taught my two sons to program. Only one of them liked it, but they both got an astonishing side benefit from it: it taught them to see their own brains as software... with algorithms and bugs. In the context of a broader parent-child discussion of recognizing and dealing with personality bugs, programming seems to make it real, in a way that no amount of lecture can.

Haven't you noticed how few people are introspective, how few are even capable of thinking that their thoughts and feelings may be incorrect?

more than 2 years ago
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World's Largest Passenger Plane May Be Unsafe, Some Say

inviolet Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (394 comments)

Like it or not, there is, and must be, a price on human life.

Yep. Where most people get confused, is by conflating "value of MY life to ME" with "value of one citizen to society". They switch back and forth between these contexts in order to make whatever stupid "if it saves just one life" point they are working.

I think the best way to measure the value of a life to society is to look at per capita GDP.

For that matter, It is actually possible to determine the rational value people place on their lives. Of course you can't ask them directly, because you'll get gibberish... but you can ask it indirectly, by asking how much extra we'd have to pay them to take a job that has x% chance of fatality per annum.

The research has been done. They crunched the numbers and came out with $2-$10 million compensation for a job with 100% risk of fatality. The dollar amount somewhat depended on their current salary level. Interestingly, the dollar amount was pretty close to the average citizen's lifetime per capita GDP.

more than 2 years ago
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Vint Cerf On Human Rights: Internet Access Isn't On the List

inviolet Re:Well that's funny, cos my country just (398 comments)

Those concepts are not axiomatic. I can easily conceive of the existence of slavery, in which most aspects of a person are controlled by various means.

The essence of slavery is ownership of one person by another. (not in which most aspects of a person are controlled by various means). Part of the concept of a right is that everybody has it and can only lose it by violating someone else's right. The basic (and axiomatic) right is the right to one's own life, and from that all other rights are either equivalent or derived. To live, one must be able to act to support one's own life (I am not considering infants and invalids here). To live, one must be able to own (and in some situations trade for) the results of his actions. The first thing he must own is himself, which is equivalent to his right to his own life (I suppose that's debatable, but I think it can be established fairly easily.)

Slavery, the claim of another person to own me, contradicts my self-ownership. Since my self-ownership is a right, there can be no right of another person to own me; slavery is inherently a violation of a human right.

Look, I with agree you, but your arguments still need work. The right to control your body does not obviously follow from right to feed yourself. Nor does self-ownership obviously follow from ownership. Nor does total ownership obviously follow from partial ownership (think your use of a laptop provided by your company).

Your rights derive from MY self-interest, because your rights morally bind me in some way. I can make the argument, perhaps persuasively, that it is obviously right for me to allow you to feed yourself, and even to get ahead, but to disallow you from ruining your life with heroine. From my point of view, I must deny you full self-ownership because my self-interest requires me to defend society from addictive destructive substances.

Or imagine you are arguing with a Roman, who believes he has all rights to the dozen slaves he captured in Lydia. Can you explain to him why his arranement is automatically wrong for all of the players? Remember, the only reason the Roman economy could support such a large empire (i.e. so much border to guard) was via slaves captured on conquests.

more than 2 years ago
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Vint Cerf On Human Rights: Internet Access Isn't On the List

inviolet Re:Well that's funny, cos my country just (398 comments)

Huh? Only a philosophical weakling would bring that up at this point.

Hint: if you enter a philosophical discussion with an insult, and then pepper the rest of your post with additional ad hominem, then your own philosophy still needs work.

Quite a lot of work.

more than 2 years ago
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Vint Cerf On Human Rights: Internet Access Isn't On the List

inviolet Re:Well that's funny, cos my country just (398 comments)

Life and liberty fall under the axiomatic concept of self-ownership.

Those concepts are not axiomatic. I can easily conceive of the existence of slavery, in which most aspects of a person are controlled by various means.

Sensible, maybe, but not axiomatic. It may also be impossible to hold together a social pattern without at least some degree of state control over what people do with their bodies. Just look at what the (de facto) freedom to use opium did to China for a century.

more than 2 years ago
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US Threatens Spain For Not Implementing SOPA-Like Law

inviolet Re:I think we are just a little 'lost' (508 comments)

Everybody says they are the "good guys". Who comes right out and says they are evil? The world isn't black and white, anyways, though the fight against Hitler and his dictator allies was about as black and white as it gets.

Agreed; by then, Germany had really run off the rails. I also feel we did right by Japan, when we rebooted their society after the war and turned them into a Western-style state that is vastly more free and efficient than it was.

more than 2 years ago
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Vint Cerf On Human Rights: Internet Access Isn't On the List

inviolet Re:Well that's funny, cos my country just (398 comments)

You have a natural right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Property and Happiness (I'll argue real-estate, material possessions, and non-material happiness in this comment). You don't have an intrinsic right to property and happiness, just a right to be allowed to earn them. So the government doesn't have to provide you with a job, housing, food, healthcare or internet access for free. They just have to make sure a system is in place to allow you to make those things happen.

Very good. Now tell us *why* all humans possess those rights.

The definition doesn't help, either... a political right is defined as "A behavior which you may practice, and anyone who tries to stop you is automatically wrong." No information there about where the right springs from.

The answer, that most people will not agree with, is: rights are the those behaviors that humans must practice if they seek to establish a pro-human society, where 'pro-human' means a society whose primary goal is the long-term production of safety, comfort, and pleasure. Any other society is automatically wrong, in the sense of "illogical for humans to seek".

more than 2 years ago
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US Threatens Spain For Not Implementing SOPA-Like Law

inviolet Re:Now do you understand (508 comments)

I'm an American citizen and I feel ashamed about the degree to which my country has fallen to regulatory capture.

Stop calling it regulatory capture and start calling it corruption. Just because it is legal does not mean it isn't a corruption of the government's duty to the people.

I used "regulatory capture" because it points to a solution, at least in principle. Whereas for the more general problem of "corruption", no one has any idea how to fix it. Religion used to be the answer ("The invisible old man in the sky who loves you will torture you forever!!!11!"), but that has lost all credibility these days. And with the college curriculum passionately certain that certainty is impossible (i.e. Skepticism), there is no alternative in sight.

more than 2 years ago
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US Threatens Spain For Not Implementing SOPA-Like Law

inviolet Re:Now do you understand (508 comments)

Being a big bully is one thing. It's one thing if we're a big bully on things like human rights. What's more distressing to me is that we're basically allowing the media companies to push the US into being a big bully for things that even our own citizens think is ridiculous.

Before the media companies there were other commercial interests that pushed the US government to do their bidding. Go back to 1893 and you'll find that sugar interests were responsible for Hawaii being taken over by the US. And that is just one example.

Yep. Not to mention all of the banana republics in South America, who had their approximately-democratic governments violently toppled by the CIA acting on behalf of American produce companies.

America has never been The Good Guy, it has just been a typical state out to get ahead at any cost... any cost, that is, short of allowing its citizens to discover that it is not The Good Guy.

That's why the diplomatic cable leaks are such a Big Deal, and the reason why Bradley Manning will get no popular sympathy. His revelations cause American citizens to feel cognitive dissonance ("We aren't the Good Guy? Really?")... and people deeply hate those who cause them cognitive dissonance.

I'm an American citizen and I feel ashamed about the degree to which my country has fallen to regulatory capture.

more than 2 years ago
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Looking Back At the Commodore 64

inviolet Re:First hands-on exposure... (263 comments)

...to a computer, EVER, was through the Commodore 64 for me. I suppose this is true for many thousands of us ?

Yep, it launched my entire career. C64 handed down from my brother, wrote my first horrible games... then a Tandy 1000TL (XT286 clone from Radio Shack) handed down from my father, ran my first BBS... then Pascal in High School CS, and you know the rest. Wow. I wish I could shake the hands of the C64's designers.

I still have mine, it's in the attic now, but it still works.

more than 2 years ago

Submissions

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inviolet inviolet writes  |  about 8 years ago

inviolet writes "Yahoo news is reporting:
Spacewalking astronauts worried they [may have] gummed up a successful job connecting an addition to the international space station Tuesday when a bolt, spring, and washer floated free. [...] While the washer went out into space safely, [Astronaut Joe] Tanner worried the bolt and spring could get into the truss's wiring and tubing and cause problems.

[...]

NASA managers were examining whether the lost bolt would be a problem. Space debris can be dangerous if it punctures space station walls or spacdesuits and can jam crucial mechanisms. However, spacewalkers have a long history of losing material in space. In July, Discovery spacewalkers lost a 14-inch-long spatula that floated away.


They lost a 14-inch-long spatula while on a spacewalk? A *spatula*? What the hell were they doing up there with a spatula?"

Journals

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Plausible Deniability via Open WAP

inviolet inviolet writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Now that the RIAA, MPAA, and who knows how many government agencies are sniffing internet traffic in order to find subvers^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hpirates, it would be nice to have an ironclad method of achieving plausible deniability.

In Slashdot and elsewhere, we've heard of a possible solution: open up your WiFi access point. With an open WiFi access point, traffic analysis can no longer conclusively prove who sent which packets.

The problem is that an open WiFi access point creates a different set of problems. Random strangers will be able to probe within your home network. They'll be able to eavesdrop on the traffic between your own computers. And of course they'll be able to gobble up your bandwidth.

But maybe there's a solution here after all. What if you bought two WiFi routers, opened one up to public access, locked the second one down, and routed the locked-down router through the public router? Linksys publishes a document called "Cascading (Connecting) a Linksys Router To Another Linksys Router" that inadvertently describes exactly how to do this.

The upshot is that your internet connection will be opened to the public, yet your home computers and home network will still be running encrypted and will still be safely behind a private firewall. All home traffic will flow through the public router, where it will join the anonymous traffic coming in from strangers, thereby creating plausible deniability.

All for fifty bucks.

The problem of strangers hogging your bandwidth can, I think, be addressed with the QoS settings. On my Linksys WRT54G, the configuration menu offers QoS settings under "Applications and Gaming" | "QoS", and allows a specific port (the one connected to the private router) to be given highest priority. You could also reduce the open router's WAN speed to 11 or so Mbps (under "Wireless" | "Advanced Wireless Settings"), though you shouldn't reduce it too far, lest the dysthorities see more suspicious bits per second than an anonymous user could possibly be consuming.

If you live in a house with few close neighbors, you can upgrade the open router's antennas in order to sweep in a larger area of potential anonymous users. Wal-mart sells antenna upgrade kits for forty-five dollars. Of course you wouldn't want to do this in an apartment complex where there are already lots of nearby users, because the whole point of this setup is to have the potential for anonymous users but as few actual anonymous users as possible.

P.S. I have heard that some newer brands of wireless router have a feature built right in to allow anonymous use of the internet connection. I don't know how this works, but I'm suspicious that those routers might somehow treat the anonymous traffic differently, in such a way that it could later be identified and separated from 'home' traffic. That would be a Bad Thing, as far as plausible deniability is concerned.

P.P.S. I got this idea from the Tor documentation, which mentions the useful legal effect of serving as an internet connection for random strangers.

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