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Comment customer enlightenment and its drawbacks (Score 2, Insightful) 711

The SI prefixes have been around for nearly 5 decades, and have a specific meaning used by everybody. Every scientist uses them in one way or another, and for every last one of of them, they have the same meaning.

Why can't we, the C.S. people, accept that?

The lasting ambiguity for hard drives has perhaps been less a matter of computer science than one of marketing. (The pervasiveness of inch measurements is a heavy hint at uninterest in SI.)

It used to be that companies were happy if there was a general impression that the drives were bigger than they actually were, because hard drive storage costs weren't negligible and people actually risked running out of space. What incentive would Northgate and Zeos have had for prominently pointing out that their Miniscribe and Micropolis (?) 65MB drives really were what they said they were, rather than what customers optimistically presumed they'd be?

Now, by contrast, even my laptop has 500 gig-somethings -- I never bothered to see which, as I don't suppose I'll ever use more than one fifth of the space; and if by chance I ever do come close to filling it up I'll replace it with a 4TB drive or whatever's the ludicrous norm by that time.

Comment teachers love Google too (Score 1) 431

While studying editing for my Degree in Writing (Business and Technical) I had to edit a paper from an Honors level student.

What, there are universities that hand out degrees in "Writing (Business and Technical)"? I'm less worried about students' alleged illiteracy than I am about universities' lack of ambition. [sepia]Back in my day you'd study business or technology and get your writing practice while drafting your term papers.[/sepia]

My own students sometimes write swathes of immaculate prose. These swathes come without the Google ads and other distractions that accompany the exact same swathes that Google obligingly finds for me. Definitive proof of plagiarism is blessedly simple.

Comment Maybe the "smart" choice is to buy nothing. (Score 1) 745

Phones are social objects; they live and die on cultural perception, on our collective assessment of what carrying them can do for our style.

or so the article tells me. Huh? My main phone (a Casio, for Japan) lives and dies on its battery. It's reliable and legible and the payment plan makes it cheaper than most of the alternatives. It's about three years old, making it half the age of my other phone (Sony Eriksson, for Britain). So I'm happy with it, though you're welcome to enjoy your own, very different phone.

Pace Farhad Manjoo but I really couldn't give a bowel movement about my "style" (if any) and unless you're an available and unusually alluring specimen of the opposite sex I don't care what you think of it either.

Consider using your old phone and doing less to accelerate the degradation of the planet.

Comment Re:Real Reason for the Law (Score 1) 91

I didn't know all of that but I did know most. And some I know to be wrong.

There's no law that says your election poster must be vapid. Indeed, wingnut candidates (stereo)typically use the space to say what they believe or why you should vote for them, rather than using it to show their neat hairstyle, improbably white teeth, and (until very recently) white gloves. It could be that mainstream parties now think that text of any kind beyond a mere sentence or two carries fatal connotations of wingnuttery. I suspect that they avoid it for another reason: that if they go on for more than a couple of sentences they will risk either being conspicuously vapid or saying something substantive with which some potential voters might actually [get ready for it] disagree.

Likewise there's no rule forcing you to drive around in a truck uttering inanities ("Good morning, everyone! Good morning! This is Tanaka! I humbly beg you to think well of me! This is Tanaka") while nubile females sit and wave for X thousand yen per hour. You can instead stand in one place and say things that at least sound as if they're worth saying. (Tip: You'll never go wrong saying that North Korea stole innocent Japanese people who must never be forgotten, and that that regime it is very dangerous and must be treated with great care. Or by saying that you're in favor of a green tomorrow in which both the young and old will be well cared for.)

But you're right: laws prevent work on websites and severely hinder any attempt to campaign intelligently. One cynical inference is that this is deliberate: the party that has been in near complete control of legislation for decades has had nothing to gain from political education and vigorous public debate.

Comment Re:Real Reason for the Law (Score 1) 91

Well, yes, he's conscientious and informative. I'd agree that the final stage in the transition of the Japanese political system from one of conservative/feudal patronage sometimes irritated by union-backed center left to one of rivalry between an organization of conservative/feudal patronage and a spin-off feudal organization of conservatives is one that merits books, PhD theses, and news stories. But somehow this rivalry between two organizations whose primary appeals are (as you perceptively put it) "We are the LDP" and "We are not the LDP" is hard for me to take seriously as "breaking news" or even weekly/monthly analyses.

Even putting aside the batshit Happiness party and miscellaneous wingnuts, there does seem to be plenty of food for irreverence, and if a growth of irreverence helped put an end to candidates' nervous dependence (in posters, etc) on complete vapidity, so much the better. So I wish Japanese politics had its own Wonkette. Meanwhile, your own analysis packs about the most insight and wit per kilobyte that I can remember seeing in any coverage of Japanese politics.

Comment Re:Real Reason for the Law (Score 1) 91

a summary of the parties and issues at play in the current election here:

An excellent guide. Well done!

For real in-depth coverage (and I mean in depth) in English, check out Tobias Harris' blog here:

Ah yes: "In constituency X, conservative machine politician A leads conservative machine politician B. In constituency Y, conservative machine politician Q leads conservative machine politician P."

I was nodding off before I reached any "depth".

Comment Re:Real Reason for the Law (Score 1) 91

the LDP is looking especially past its sell-by date, so it could well be a historic change election.

If that happens it would be remarkable, given that the party (MinshutÅ) expected to win is a spin-off from the LDP. Like the LDP it consists of factions, and the two that are by far the largest back members (Hatoyama and Ozawa) who started off in the LDP. Better to think of it as LDP Lite.

Still, there are alternatives whose success would bring "change" of a sort. There's the distinctive-voiced Matayoshi Jesus, who urges harakiri, and there's the Happiness Realization Party, run by a guru who's making money hand over fist selling a "scientific" way to happiness. The latter is putting many candidates and lots of effort into it, and (despite their populist promise to cut sales tax to zero) will surely lose big, just as the "Aum" fruitcakes did in 1990. "Aum" thereupon decided on success through mass murder; the Happies seem amiable but they sure have deep pockets.

Comment Re:Not surprising (Score 1) 487

We are regularly charged top prices for drugs, Windows software, Iron, Labor, etc.

Labor? Hmm, do you have a source for that? (I hadn't noticed that US mcjobs were particularly well paid.)

Well, Americans need drugs (though a lot less than many think), labor, iron, etc; but they don't need Windows.

Comment Re:$3Bn could buy coverage of actual news (Score 1) 265

Apparently CBS is shelling out $3Bn for "exclusive" (?) rights to this stuff. Despondently contemplating what passes for US TV "news", I'd rather see actual news than either ersatz news or people running around with balls. Maybe I'm unusual. I presume that, other things being equal, the universities and stadium owners would prefer higher ticket sales.

Comment $3Bn could buy coverage of actual news (Score 1) 265

Three billion dollars? That would pay for some competent journalists at news bureaus around the world. Whereupon there'd be more competition for Fox "News" and CNN. Meanwhile, those interested in sports could either go and see sports for themselves (higher ticket sales!) or via YouTube. Less publicity for the universities? Splendid: they'd have less of this dubious obsession with male musculature and could instead put more effort toward encouraging places for intellectual stimulation, soft drugs, (safe!) sex, and revolution.

Comment Re:A Pause for Pidgey. (Score 1) 192

Pidgey and the Pokemon, and countless others have been subjected to the digital equivalent of a book burning by people who held an opinion that certain information was not "worthy" of archival. This from the same crowd of people who think that the Cloud Gate, Wood Badges, Ima Hogg and Books on the psychology of Est are all topics worthy enough to be Featured Articles.

After a book burning, there is no book. After this "digital equivalent of a book burning", you have the article here (as you pointed out).

I don't know if a crowd of people were behind the "deletion" (in one sense of the word). I do notice that the page was "deleted" (turned into a redirect) by one New Age Retro Hippie (his/her self-description), whose activities at Wikipedia suggest no interest in musty old matters like Ima Hogg [I like this one] etc but rather an infatuation with electronic games for young folks.

If the page had been deleted (in the normal Wikipedia sense), you'd probably be able to read it at Deletionpedia . An irritating detour from Wikipedia perhaps, but again hardly the equivalent of a book burning.

Comment Re:If they are smart (Score 2, Interesting) 94

NewsPapers need to die.

The newspapers that I choose to read don't need to die. By comparison, AOL's "idea of how to handle the internet" seems to be "news lite", flooded with as many classifieds and the like as possible. Thanks but I'll take the Guardian and when I want to read more about the US I'll get it from Wonkette.

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We all agree on the necessity of compromise. We just can't agree on when it's necessary to compromise. -- Larry Wall