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Plan C: The Cold War Plan Which Would Have Brought the US Under Martial Law

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:Then there was War Plan Red (299 comments)

War Plan Red - The US plan to invade Canada.

While that is interesting in its own right, one should be careful to read too much into the existence of such plans. In the 1800-hundreds more emphasis was put on military planning as opposed to execution in the face of what had already happened. It was thought (largely correctly) that to gain and hold the initiative you had to already have considered possible ways of conducting operations and have ready plans for what it would take to carry those operations out. (The specialised staff officer comes from this period, the general staff being responsible for this analysis and planning).

However, in order to keep the necessary knowledge alive, major engagements being few and far between, a system whereby these staff officers were continuously trained by (more or less) dreaming up new scenarios, analysing them and making the plans to support the operations that that scenario would entail. As for keeping the updated, what do you otherwise do with the new young officers that can't be trusted to do stuff that actually has an effect on anything? You put them to update "War plan Z" or something. When they're finished you get to tell them why and where they got it all wrong, and send them back to their desks which both keeps them busy and out of everybody's hair, and also impresses the important lesson on their young and impressionable minds that they don't actually know anything and should mind their tongue and manners when the grown-ups are talking.

That these plans are kept secret isn't necessarily due to military necessity, but rather to make sure that the equivalent young know-it-all- politician doesn't get wind of them and create all manner of problems getting in the way of the work the grown-ups have to actually get done. It's more of a "conveniently secret", than actually sensitive (as these plans are on such a high level that most of the data they use aren't secret/unknown to begin with. What forces are where, what their general capabilities are and what the map looks like are no great secrets.)

So, if you look through the archives there would and should be plans for almost everything including invasion by space aliens via flying saucer(s) as the plans themselves aren't that important in the greater scheme of things, but the planning process, and keeping that skill alive is very valuable.

yesterday
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A State-By-State Guide To Restrictive Community Broadband Laws

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:"undercutting a private sector unable to keep u (160 comments)

The fact that your paper from 1998 even still asks the question shows you that the question certainly wasn't settled by then

Hardly. There are still papers published on Darwin's theory of evolution, how it applies in different situations, addressing paradoxes arising from the theory etc. This doesn't mean that the issue wasn't "settled" long ago.

The reason these require "large fixed investments" is not because there is a "natural monopoly" it is because power companies, electric companies, and municipal providers like it that way.

So the price of building roads, erecting power poles, and building a power station are artificially raised due to regulatory capture by how much? It's not like there aren't private roads, and it's not like they're built cheaper, in fact they cost as much as building a road anywhere.

And when it comes to screwing over customers, how come my Internet fibre in Sweden cost so much less being provided by a municipal company (no subsidies I might add), than anywhere in the US where it's almost exclusively provided by private entities? How is that even possible?

2 days ago
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US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:From the outside... (666 comments)

Look at the EU and their policy on GMO. It is ENTIRELY fear based.

Sure. But it's not fear of GMO as such. It's fear of American companies saying "Trust us, would we lie to you?"

Only half joking...

P.S. And the last thing Europe needs is even more food production. We don't know what to do with all the stuff we're growing/making as it is.

about a week ago
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A State-By-State Guide To Restrictive Community Broadband Laws

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:"undercutting a private sector unable to keep u (160 comments)

No, I don't keep using the word "natural monopoly" other than to tell people that the concept is bullshit.

So you are of the opinion that in (for example) industries with large fixed investments such as water distribution, electrical distribution etc. that the most efficient use of resources would be to have multiple companies competing for the same customers? That is, that there would naturally develop a situation where multiple companies would lay roads, or water/sewage lines, or electrical lines to your house, and that that would lead to a more efficient use of resources? (E.g. lower total cost for the system(s), lower cost of providing the service, and lower prices for the consumers?)

Nobody has ever demonstrated the existence of a permanent natural monopoly in anything.

Just a cursory googling for example brought up: Are Municipal Electricity Distribution Utilities Natural Monopolies?, Massimo Filippini, Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics Volume 69, Issue 2, pages 157â"174, June 1998, DOI: 10.1111/1467-8292.00077. Which points to that quite nicely. I.e. both natural monopoly and "permanent", i.e. have been so for a long time. (Of course any human endeavour isn't "permanent"). (Sorry, can't help you with full text access, you'll have to use your own library.)

about a week ago
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A State-By-State Guide To Restrictive Community Broadband Laws

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:"undercutting a private sector unable to keep u (160 comments)

Would we be dragged into a quagmire of natural monopolies if government got completely out of the business of regulating markets?

You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

about a week ago
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Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:Teams are overrated anyway (219 comments)

Turing I know less about, but I know that he also worked as part of a team, and many of his brilliant ideas built upon the work of those around him.

Alonzo Church and (to a lesser extent) Kurt Goedel immediately comes to mind. Church was Turing's thesis advisor at Princeton and Goedel was there at the same time.

Turing's biography by Andrew Hodges is a very good read and lists many more collaborators and friends. Turing most certainly didn't exist in a vacuum.

about a week ago
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Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:Communication skills (219 comments)

Then there are the Germans who refuse to take orders from female voices to the extent that GPS manufacturers have to make special male recordings for those markets. Was that a factor during WWII as well?

No, it was the other way around. When the British started doing "Funk spielen" mainly with German nightfighter controllers (breaking into the circuit and giving false or conflicting orders etc.) the Germans answered by using female intercept operators exclusively as there was no female British personell flying in combat. This promted the British to bring their own female operators along for the ride, aso.

Many other advantages are reported from having female ground control officers, for example easily being able to hear if the communication is from your fellow (male) pilots on that frequency or from ground control. (Yes, call signs are meant to do that, but voice differences that carry over radio give a more secure and faster way of determining the sender).

When it comes to automated voice messages in the cockpit I seem to remember USAF research in the F-16 time frame, that showed that female voices ("pull up") were preferable to male voices, due to better legibility and easier distinction against all the male pilot voices on the radio. The best effect was reportedly had by having a very young female (child) voice, think 8-9 year old, but that was never implemented due to the creapiness factor. But I can't find any reference to this research when Googling, and wikipedia says that new research points to this result being less stable today than what it was.

about a week ago
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$freaks++

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:"Lack of understanding"? (48 comments)

Well, I am certainly no fan of watching the US get more corporate and more conservative with each passing year. I'm not exactly steaming over with anger, though.

No, it's time for the pendlum to start swinging back, that's for certain. But to be clear, I was reserving the righteous anger for the plea bargaining based justice system in particular, not the whole mess. Many parts of which just merits a "meh", for sure.

And I actually am conservative, in the litteral sense of the word, but being from Sweden that means "social democrat". ;-)

about two weeks ago
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$freaks++

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:"Lack of understanding"? (48 comments)

Nah, I'm sorry. You have to work up a lot more righteous anger against the current system to go on my "friends list". :-)

As it stands, it's only enough to get taken off the "foo" list. :-)

about two weeks ago
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$freaks++

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:"Lack of understanding"? (48 comments)

Sure. While I wouldn't necessarily call Swartz an "idiot", as I do agree with his sentiment. He probably broke the law and should expect punishment (that's what civil disobedience is all about). And the firing of the prosecutor is as you say neither here nor there, as long as we both agree that all other aspects of this case is overshadowed by a "justice" system that encourages and makes possible a factor of a hundred difference in an accepted and sought punishment. No effort should be spared in dismantling such a system.

P.S. Have you figured out what put the "conservatives" on my "foo" list? ;-)

about two weeks ago
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How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:Uninterested people aren't worth it (480 comments)

I'm sure there are many more reasons.

How about, without proportional representation and rampant gerrymandering, the vote won't "count" anyway?

And another thing that's always surprised me, you vote on a work day, right? For example, in Sweden we always vote on a Sunday, when most people are off from work and actually have (more) time to go to the polls. (And the voter traffic is more spread out as well, reducing waiting time).

about two weeks ago
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$freaks++

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:"Lack of understanding"? (48 comments)

Yes. Scale matters. No argument there.

That said, I am a big proponent of proportional representation as opposed to the first-past-the-post system of both the US and Britain. I think that would both solve the problem of gerrymandering and increase voter turnout, at least at the local level. How to scale that to the national level, where you have so (relatively speaking) few representatives per area, I don't know. The system kind of breaks down there as if you only have one or two representatives for an entire state, then a lot of opinions aren't going to be heard/represented...

about two weeks ago
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$freaks++

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:"Lack of understanding"? (48 comments)

However, I'm skeptical about whether the Swedes can really whip organizational behavior. But by all means: school me. :-)

Well, we haven't had any major cases of regulatory capture yet for example. (With a possible exception in the nuclear industry, that was pounced upon quite quickly though). Rather, we haven't had any yet I should say... :-) Watch this space. One major reason (dare I say difference?) is that working for the government is still a sought after position, that attracts if not the very best, at least still very good people. How/if this will change I don't know.

However, we're not nearly as homogeneous as we once were (only thirty years ago), and how that will play out will be interesting to see. Since the Norwegians and Finns are still very homogeneous there will be opportunities for comparison in the long run.

P.S. And just for the record, Swedes are known for a distinct lack of a sense of our history. At least we think we are, whether that holds up to an international comparison I don't know. :-)

about two weeks ago
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$freaks++

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:"Lack of understanding"? (48 comments)

Sure. I'll bite. The problem is with a justice system based on plea bargaining run amok (I had a nice reference, but I can't find it...) This leads to a justice system where almost no cases go to trial as the risk for the defendant is much too high since the prosecutor will often skew the risk by offering a sentence reduction of a factor of twenty or more (in the case of Aaron Swartz an even one hundred!)

Any prosecutor that feels that society is safe and justice is served if a defendant agrees to six months in prison, but will call for fifty years as a punishment for going to trial, should be (at a minimum) fired, and a system that thinks this a reasonable approach to meter out justice should be taken out back behind the shed and be put out of its misery.

This leads of course to many innocent people pleading "guilty" (note that the quotation marks are real as you even have that abomination called the "Alford plea" where you can plead "guilty but not really". WTF?)

Now, if for practicalitys sake you wanted to sugar the deal to entice the guilty to confess, then sure, you could argue for a deduction. Say 10% or 15% or something. Not 99%...

In Sweden at the moment we have no plea bargaining, no immunity from prosecution for in turn for providing evidence/being a witness, no juries (laypeople take their place, that sit for a set term and hence can gain some experience), no electing judges and prosecutors (last place on earth you want a politician), and the state provides for your defence (i.e. they pay the lawyer of your choice according to set standards, we don't have any public defenders or something like it).

Now, there is pressure to change that, as we're always looking to what the US does, esp. when it comes to pleas and immunity. You can guess the political persuasion of those shouting the loudest for this change. They're not usually the people most famous for thinking everybody should have the same opportunities regardless of what cards they were dealt when they first sat at the table.

about two weeks ago
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$freaks++

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:"Lack of understanding"? (48 comments)

Had a blast serving with the Swedes in Afghanistan. But that's beside the point. Sweden has about the population of New York City. What works great for Sweden may not scale at all to a less homogenous population.

Good to hear! Yes, Sweden is small and homogeneous (though that's changing rapidly). So scaling from our small example is tricky. However, the German situation is similar when it comes to how industry and unions are organized, they're a bit more diverse, and they're 80 million or so, so it can scale by a factor of ten at least. So I wouldn't give it up just yet.

When, exactly, does the bureaucracy EVER accept any pain? It's all as swell as Sweden until the first sign of stress. Then you see the kinds of shenanigans you encounter in every "blue" state in the U.S.: California, Illinois, Michigan, etc.

Well, that's a problem. Not an insurmountable one though. After all, it was the Social democrats in Sweden that in the late nineties said that "He who is in debt is not free" and we lowered our national debt from 100% of our GDP (I seem to remember) to around 30% where it is now, in only a few short years. So the bureaucracy can sometimes take the pain. Being small and feeling the cold wind blowing of course helps helps with that.

about two weeks ago
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$freaks++

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:"Lack of understanding"? (48 comments)

The American economy is awash in organized crime throughout, all the way to the top in DC, which has turned the unions (and various government branches) into violent gangs, which serve exactly the opposite purpose of what the press would have you believe. They actually exist to control and set the price of labor, not serve as its advocate. It seems that your country still holds a small degree of morality that is totally absent in other parts.

Yes, that everybody needs non-corrupt government or government-like functions is pretty much a given. That said, the US isn't that bad. According to transparency international you rank 17, Germany 12 and we (Sweden) 4. So while there's room for improvement, you have a long way down until you rank with Afghanistan and the likes. All shouldn't be lost.

And we did retreat from the Norwegians once (they didn't dare to follow even though they were numerically much stronger), but winter hit in full force and more than half of the soldiers froze to death. The Norwegians didn't have anything to do with that loss though... :-)

No, seriously, Swedes and Norwegians are like one big family. Not necessarily one big happy family mind you, no more like any old family. :-)

about two weeks ago
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$freaks++

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:"Lack of understanding"? (48 comments)

I don't believe I accused you to moderating me down. I'm not sure where that notion comes from.

Well, you can believe that, but you'd be wrong. :-) From your journal entry: "I'm not sure why he moderated me down...". But maybe you meant something else?

I may have managed to not notice the quotes around communist.

There's your problem! Let's call them self described communists for extra clarity, and leave the question of what the word "communist" actually means today for another time.

FWIW I generally take pride in how many people foe me here. The vast overwhelming majority of them - at least when there is any apparent rationale - are hard-core conservatives who disagree with me for daring to use facts against their emotions. You do indeed have a very ... interesting ... foes list, that even includes people who have foe'd me.

In that case it's surprising that there aren't more people there that have "foe'd" you. While the overwhelming majority aren't on that list because they're "hard-core conservatives" the opinion that put them there does correlate very strongly with american conservative thinking in particular (and conservative thinking elsewhere in general, though not as openly and clearly).

You on the other hand don't fit that group (but I only have one marker to play with). Your (strongly voiced) opinion that made me want to notice if I came across you again, were very right wing though (not extremist, I haste to add, even from my admittedly skewed perspective, being where I am, but decidedly out there).

But, I can remove you from the list if it irks you. Like I said it's more of a "foo"-marker than a "foe"-marker. Most people don't seem to care or notice, as a matter of fact you're the first that ever gave any feedback. It's not part of some grand strategy to amass as many enemies as possible...

about three weeks ago
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$freaks++

lars_stefan_axelsson Re:"Lack of understanding"? (48 comments)

Well a proper union to begin with would actually be the result of freedom of association. In China they are not as the Chineese workers don't have freedom of association. The union in China is just another part of the governments control apparatus.

And yes, I know there are and have been problems with unions in the USA. But also we don't have nearly the same problems in non-Anglo-Saxon countries (most notably Sweden where I live). In Sweden even the armed forces officers are unionised. It doesn't get more public sector than that and that hasn't led to any major problems. (Or differences in outlook compared to their NATO brethren. )

No, the difference is between, on the one hand, partisanship above all else, and on the other, an understanding that we are, at the end of the day, all in the same boat. Given the relative sizes of the US and Sweden, and the relative difference in absolute strength (military, economic, etc.) that we are more attuned to the latter way of thinking. So, that we have "powerful" unions (our current prime minister is a former union leader, that's his political background), doesn't mean that those unions can "destroy" anything, as that destruction will leave everybody worse off. They're as constrained by facts on the ground as everybody else. That's not to say that there can't be fundamental differences in how to order society though, there are, and that we have a large portion of "socialist" (not really) policies is of course a large part of our being in the top of the quality of living indices for multiple decades in a row. Our much stronger and better organised version of the UAW notwithstanding. (Again our prime minister began on the national arena as the head of the Metal workers union, the largest and most powerful of the trade unions, which he later became the head of.)

Now, I don't understand the "massive conflict of interest" that would supposedly occur when government workers are unionised. As I read your FDR reference, he was basically against the right to strike for sensitive positions. That's a given, whether they are government workers or not, you can't have your ambulance personnel go on strike. The same with the army of course, and indeed while the Swedish officers are unionised, they don't have the right to strike. Turns out you can still be effectively organised and have real bargaining power without striking at the drop of a hat (even without the right to strike). A strike is the nuclear option, and there are still plenty of ways to wage war without it.

So if your point is that unions won't work in the US. Sure, I don't believe it, but it's at least an interesting topic for discussion. But if your argument is that "since unions don't work in the US, they can't work anywhere", then hard evidence flies directly in the face of that, and I won't be moved one mm by it.

about three weeks ago
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$freaks++

lars_stefan_axelsson "Lack of understanding"? (48 comments)

a) I don't moderate and never have. Hence, I haven't moderated you down. So I can't help you with that.

b) How is that post displaying a "lack of understanding of communism"? I'm genuinely curious.

P.S. I use "foe" as a (too all purpose) marker for people, given that Slashdot doesn't have any other way of tagging people. (Though I've been toying with writing something using e.g. greasemonkey, if I wasn't a complete noob when it came to that). So don't take the word "foo" too literally.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Linux on a Motorola 68000 solderless breadboard

lars_stefan_axelsson lars_stefan_axelsson writes  |  about 2 months ago

lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) writes "When I was an undergrad in the eighties, "building" a computer meant that you got a bunch of chips and a soldering iron and went to work. The art is still alive today, but instead of a running BASIC interpreter as the ultimate proof of success, today the crowning achievement is getting Linux to run:

"What does it take to build a little 68000-based protoboard computer, and get it running Linux? In my case, about three weeks of spare time, plenty of coffee, and a strong dose of stubborness. After banging my head against the wall with problems ranging from the inductance of pushbutton switches to memory leaks in the C standard library, it finally works! "

"
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ASSA Evo lock picked with a feeler blade

lars_stefan_axelsson lars_stefan_axelsson writes  |  more than 6 years ago

lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) writes "ASSA Abloy, the world's leading maker of locks and accessories have had several problems with their newest line of locks, the EVO 2000 series. Last in the line of woes is the demonstration that one can unlock them from the outside using only a cheap set of feeler blades. This news is of course extra embarrassing as the EVO line is supposed to be the most secure ever (e.g. by featuring a hook bolt that anchors the door to the frame instead of the usual sliding bolt) While a protective flap over the crack between door and frame would make this attack a lot less likely to succeed, it's still embarrassing that a major lock manufacturer would overlook such a simple flaw in this day and age."

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