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Comments

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Will Windows 10 Finally Address OS Decay?

lgw Re:Antecdotes != Evidence (446 comments)

Depending on where you live, anti-social can be a strong survival trait.

9 hours ago
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Former GM Product Czar: Tesla a "Fringe Brand"

lgw Re:How does the quote go...? (267 comments)

Sure there are. But not sold by Tesla. Tesla will remain a fringe manufacturer until it moves the sort of volume that mainstream brands move, not the tiny volume that rich-boy toys move. And that, after all, is the goal of the Model 3.

10 hours ago
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Man Walks Past Security Screening Staring At iPad, Causing Airport Evacuation

lgw Re:No he didn't (216 comments)

the power drill can be designed so that it only works if the user has both hands on the machine, to at least reduce risk.

Somehow this seems doubly relevant. "After a few such run-ins, when I got ready to use the Hole Hawg my heart actually began to pound with atavistic terror." - so much software right there.

yesterday
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Man Walks Past Security Screening Staring At iPad, Causing Airport Evacuation

lgw Re:No he didn't (216 comments)

Ahh, the "we just need to educate our users" school of engineering. That always ends well.

2 days ago
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Man Walks Past Security Screening Staring At iPad, Causing Airport Evacuation

lgw Re:Walked past Security Theatre (216 comments)

Clearly the solution is to put a fountain in the security exit corridor to trap screen-lookers before they can cross the security line!

2 days ago
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Former GM Product Czar: Tesla a "Fringe Brand"

lgw Re:How does the quote go...? (267 comments)

New world is coming.

Eventually. But for now, he's right - Tesla is currently a niche company, only selling expensive vehicles. Most such brands like, say, Maserati, are just brands within a larger mainstream company - Maserati is just the mid-priced Fiat brand. Tesla though only sells the expensive cars, and so remains on the fringe for now.

If the Model 3 succeeds, this could all change. And while Tesla's stock price already assumes the Model 3 will be a resounding success and Tesla will become a mainstream company, it hasn't happened yet.

2 days ago
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Study: An Evolutionary "Arms Race" Shaped the Human Genome

lgw Re:Fuck Evolution (33 comments)

Heh, seems I'm wrong about the fungi - randy little buggers.

2 days ago
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Study: An Evolutionary "Arms Race" Shaped the Human Genome

lgw Re:Fuck Evolution (33 comments)

Technically, "evolution" is the change in statistical distribution of alleles in a genetic population over time. There's little uncertainty about that happening - every genetic change over time is absolutely evidence of evolution, in the technical sense, because there's nothing more to it than that.

Any uncertainty is about what shaped the emergence, then dominance, of certain traits among species that survived today. But of course in the case of sexual reproduction with distinct sexes, it's still a reproductive corner case only used by a small percentage of the biomass of the planet (and heck, only plants and animals do it in any form, while most of the biomass is found in the other kingdoms).

2 days ago
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Study: An Evolutionary "Arms Race" Shaped the Human Genome

lgw Re:Fuck Evolution (33 comments)

there's the question of how the rather non-Occamy process of sexual reproduction came into existence in the first place.

Is that really much of a mystery? Gene exchange as part of reproduction has obvious advantages for speed in adaption to changing conditions. There are plenty of hermaphrodite species that show the stepping stone to specialized organs for gene exchange. Splitting into 2 sexes, each with just one set of reproductive organs, is just a cost savings, reducing the amount of otherwise unneeded organs to maintain.

2 days ago
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State of Iowa Tells Tesla To Cancel Its Scheduled Test Drives

lgw Re:Rent a Tesla for $1 (335 comments)

My dealer offers "free" loaner cars, so I don't wait. Of course, that's quite an expensive free rental, but it is convenient. "Valet service" is a thing now at some luxury dealerships, too (they come get your car, do the work, bring it back). But that's all only if you're not watching the price.

4 days ago
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State of Iowa Tells Tesla To Cancel Its Scheduled Test Drives

lgw Re:Rent a Tesla for $1 (335 comments)

Wait, who's president again? I thought we had taken a break from rich old white men? (You forgot Protestant, BTW.)

4 days ago
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It's Banned Books Week; I recommend ...

lgw Re:His Dark Materials? (404 comments)

You have quite a warped view of "shoving you religion down everyones throat", when right now today there's a group of brutal thugs who have declared themselves a government and are raping and murdering anyone they feel like, with religion as their excuse. Anyone with the wrong religious beliefs executed at a whim.

If you want to complain about someone blinded by religion in this century, look at those who distributed a beheading video just this week just for fun, and make wholesale mockery of their own religion through their actions. Right now there are places where teaching girls to read is illegal, but go ahead geekoid, get upset about this shit instead.

about a week ago
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Physicist Claims Black Holes Mathematically Don't Exist

lgw Re:Headline slightly inaccurate (356 comments)

There has to be more to it than the question, because you can trivially ask it of every theory ever. The paper at least brings something new, pointing to detailed inconsistencies in the theory - it has lots of actual work behind it. Just babbling on about "it might be this or that" doesn't.

Leonard Susskind is famous (as physicists go) for making outlandish claims every five years or so, which then later turn out to be true. But of course it's the latter part that makes his claims interesting, and as he's said "maybe that's because I spend those 5 years working on the problem first". There's a lot being debated about black holes.

Debates/controversies between the likes of Susskind and Hawking are interesting, because you know they've brought deep understanding to the problem before asking the questions. But the internet is chock full of people who are convinced that they've found the flaw in relativity or QM, and most of them bring as much to the discussion as the Time Cube guy, and make about as much sense.

about a week ago
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Remote Exploit Vulnerability Found In Bash

lgw Re:Full Disclosure can be found on oss-security... (399 comments)

Are you sure there aren't any cgi scripts on that corporate webserver that devs had to touch that one time to debug that thing?

Fortunately for the SSH case, most multi-tenanted servers these days are using VM-isolation, not user isolation, but privilege escalation exploits of one sort or another do show up as a problem on those web hosts with 10000 accounts, where someone uses the setup to push malware from their account to all the served web pages. Hopefully none of those places still give SSH access!
 

about a week ago
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To Fight $5.2B In Identity Theft, IRS May Need To Change the Way You File Taxes

lgw Re:Corporate taxes (407 comments)

I'm fairly certain that we can come up with an acceptable definition of the "press" - though I don't pretend to be smart enough to be the one to do that.

The SCOTUS this year specifically considered and rejected that exact argument. There's not going to be a good definition that hold as media evolves over time. Plus, how does limited liability matter here? When people pool their money to buy advertising time to advance their political views, why should limited liability restrict fundamental rights? What's the compelling interest of the state there that couldn't be served without that restriction?

about a week ago
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Physicist Claims Black Holes Mathematically Don't Exist

lgw Re:Headline slightly inaccurate (356 comments)

We've (indirectly) observed some of objects consistent with our theories of how black holes would behave

That right there is all of modern science. Science hasn't been about direct observation with one's senses for quite some time now. Pretty much all of physics these days is "if we measure X repeatedly this hypothesis predicts distribution Y of values" When Y is observed, the hypothesis is taken seriously as a theory. That's all there ever is. There's almost nothing left to measure directly. (E.g., you wouldn't believe how indirect the evidence for the Higgs Boson is - far more so than for black holes - but the likelihood of the measurements predicted by theory to have occurred at random are quite small indeed).

Moreover, as I recall there is more than a little controversy as to whether supermassive black holes could actually form and grow in a manner consistent with prevailing theory, as opposed to having been formed in the early moments of our universe, or through some yet-to-be-theorized process

Perhaps you misunderstand how science works? There's always the possibility that the leading theory is wrong, for everything. That possibility is uninteresting. A hypothesis that makes specific predictions that the current understanding doesn't is interesting. Measurements that the current theory fails to explain are interesting. "But what if it's wrong?" isn't.

about a week ago
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To Fight $5.2B In Identity Theft, IRS May Need To Change the Way You File Taxes

lgw Re:Corporate taxes (407 comments)

the general trend toward making corporations more and more like people

That's a misunderstanding. There's a general principle that any law that applies to "person or persons" applies to corporations too, which is a good thing. There's also SCOTUS rulings that when a corporation is owned mostly by a small number of people, those people have the same rights as the owners of a partnership would. I don't see a problem with that either (remember, partnerships and sole proprietorships can also have limited liability, it's not something specific to corporations).
 

about a week ago
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Remote Exploit Vulnerability Found In Bash

lgw Re:Full Disclosure can be found on oss-security... (399 comments)

This is exceedingly nasty.

The vulnerability occurs because bash does not stop after processing the function definition; it continues to parse and execute shell commands following the function
definition. ...

The fact that an environment variable with an arbitrary name can be used as a carrier for a malicious function definition containing trailing commands makes this vulnerability particularly severe; it enables network-based exploitation.

This is a weapons-grade exploit IMO, the sort of thing the NSA keeps hidden for when it's really needed. I'm almost surprised it wasn't suppressed.

Hmm, I wonder how many phones are valuable.

about a week ago
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Physicist Claims Black Holes Mathematically Don't Exist

lgw Re:Headline slightly inaccurate (356 comments)

Specifically, the researcher is saying that the process of stellar collapse sheds so much mass via hawking radiation that there's not enough left to form a black hole. Given this is a fresh paper, and at odds with astronomical observations, I'm skeptical.

about a week ago
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To Fight $5.2B In Identity Theft, IRS May Need To Change the Way You File Taxes

lgw Re:Corporate taxes (407 comments)

Ahh, "activist shareholders" means almost the opposite.

Limited liability is fine - everyone making a loan knows they can't collect if the business goes pear shaped, and you can sue managers directly for a lot of things these days.

about a week ago

Submissions

lgw hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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Economics in Brief (Internet Flotsam)

lgw lgw writes  |  about 5 months ago

Here's some internet flotsam attributed to a graduation speech by Thomas Sargent (without digging into whether this speech really happened: the content is interesting).

Economics is organized common sense. Here is a short list of valuable lessons that our beautiful subject teaches.

1. Many things that are desirable are not feasible.

2. Individuals and communities face trade-offs.

3. Other people have more information about their abilities, their efforts,
and their preferences than you do.

4. Everyone responds to incentives, including people you want to help. That
is why social safety nets don't always end up working as intended.

5. There are tradeoffs between equality and efficiency.

6. In an equilibrium of a game or an economy, people are satisfied with their
choices. That is why it is difficult for well meaning outsiders to change
things for better or worse.

7. In the future, you too will respond to incentives. That is why there are
some promises that you'd like to make but can't. No one will believe those
promises because they know that later it will not be in your interest to
deliver. The lesson here is this: before you make a promise, think about
whether you will want to keep it if and when your circumstances change.
This is how you earn a reputation.

8. Governments and voters respond to incentives too. That is why governments sometimes default on loans and other promises that they have made.

9. It is feasible for one generation to shift costs to subsequent ones. That is
what national government debts and the U.S. social security system do
(but not the social security system of Singapore).

10. When a government spends, its citizens eventually pay, either today or
tomorrow, either through explicit taxes or implicit ones like inflation.

11. Most people want other people to pay for public goods and government
transfers (especially transfers to themselves).

12. Because market prices aggregate traders' information, it is difficult to forecast stock prices and interest rates and exchange rates.

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Geothermal vs Solar Power

lgw lgw writes  |  about 3 years ago

Here are the basic numbers on aailable geothermal vs solar power (since this has come up in discussion more than once).

The surface area of the Earth is about 5.1 x 10^14 m^2. The cross sectional area is about 1.3 x 10^14 m^2 (one quarter of the surface area, of course).

Per this paper found as a cite on wikipedia, the total heat flow out from the Earth's interior is 4.42 x 10^13 W, or 0.0867 W/m^2. Of course, the available power is much less because it's only the subsurface-surface temperature difference that's available.

Total solar irradience is 1361 W/m^2 by NASA's latest estimate (so about 1.7 x 10^17 W across the entire cross section), or about 1000 W/m^2 on the surface at noon on a cloudless day. Averaged over the day-night cycle (surface area vs cross-section, so 250 W/m^2), and taking clouds into account that's about 180 W/m^2 (I can't find a solid source on that yet, but it looks close).

So, total solar power flow is about 4000 times as large as total geothermal flow. I'm not quite sure how to estimate the (ideal) available power as a percentage of the total geothermal power flow, but if we use a WAG of 50%, then the available power from solar is also about 4000 times per square meter more than geothermal - significantly more if we average solar power only across populated latitudes.

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Global Warming Link

lgw lgw writes  |  more than 5 years ago

This is the best summary of the great global warming fraud I've yet seen, and published in the most unlikely of places.

To be told, as I have been, by Mr. Gore, again and again, that carbon dioxide is a grave threat to humankind is not just annoying, by the way, although it is that! To re-tool our economies in an effort to suppress carbon dioxide and its imaginary effect on climate, when other, graver problems exist is, simply put, wrong. Particulate pollution, such as that causing the Asian brown cloud, is a real problem. Two billion people on Earth living without electricity, in darkened huts and hovels polluted by charcoal smoke, is a real problem.

Although I feel Harold Ambler makes some good points, he misses what I've always felt was the most important. Given that the climate will change (as it always has), do we want it to be warmer, or colder? As glaciers covering Europe (the norm for the ice age we've been in for the past 100M years) seems to me far worse than rising sea levels, I've never understood why we'd want to fight warming in the first place.

I think the whole global warming fraud started by ignoring all of the available evidence and blindly asserting that the climate is naturally stable, so therefore if man did something to break that stability we'd be creating an otherwise-avoidable catastrophe. What BS. The only thing historically unprecedented is the inexplicable stability of the climate for the past 10K years. Change is unavoidable, with or without the actions of man.

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Some quotes I like

lgw lgw writes  |  more than 9 years ago

"Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged." - Abraham Lincoln

"Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, 'he that is not with me is against me.'" - George Orwell

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