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Date: 2016-05-03 04:34
Subject: Everyone I Don't Like Must Be Hitler: A Little Golden Book
Security: Public
The cover of a Little Golden Book (not really, and I didn't do the image, just the text to go with it): http://imgur.com/r/Libertarian/HJiN9QS

Everyone I don't like must be Hitler
Or Stalin or Vader or Mao
But mostly really just Hitler
For the highest factor of "Wow"!

The highest form of debate
Is to compare you to that degenerate.
And I always do
For if I don't support you
You must certainly be made of hate.

Everyone I don't like must be Hitler!
The truth of that statement rings clear.
When you say something I don't like
There can only be a Nazi right here.

For melodramatic exaggeration
For winning the fight with one blow.
Everyone I don't like must be Hitler.
This, and nothing else, do I know.


License: CC-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

If you like it, make it go viral.
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Date: 2016-04-28 21:15
Subject: Facebook Repost
Security: Public
I spent too long on this post to a Facebook friend, so it's getting reposted here:

You aren't going to be a statistic. Here are some statistics:
- Your chance (white female 25-29) of dying from murder in the US this year is 0.002%. For me (white male 25-29) it's a staggering 0.0077% ... omg it's almost 9pm and I'm still at the office; I'm a goner I guess.
- Your chance of being raped this year is 0.06%. It's actually higher because most rape victims are women. Let's assume all are: 0.12%. And it's maybe actually higher than that because youth is probably a risk factor. So let's double it again just for the hell of it: 0.24%.
- But that includes all rapes ... only 18% of rapes are by strangers. 0.24*0.18=0.0432%. That's the approximate chance some evil sicko will follow you into a bathroom and rape you, or assault you while you walk to your car, etc., etc., all of that.
- Your chance of outright just dying from anything at all is (accidents+murder+cancer+etc.) is 0.0556%.

Conclusion: you're more likely to die this year than get raped. And neither is at all likely to happen at all at all AT ALL.

TV, movies, newspapers, activists using alarmism to get attention, and others all like to put a big bright spotlight on violent crime, but it's actually quite rare ... like, really, really rare. Even at your current age, you're more likely to die from cancer than from murder.

You shouldn't be scared of men, or being alone in a restroom, or ... well, anything at all, really. It's not rational, and the reason you are is because the irrationality of our culture has slimed you.

So de-slime yourself. You'll feel better.

Sources. The mortality table one is a good read:
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Date: 2015-06-29 04:34
Subject: Obergefell v. Hodges
Security: Public
I finally got bored enough to bother reading the gay marriage ruling. Here are my thoughts, for any who are interested:

The writing style, for one searching for the actual legal reasoning, is insufferable. Kennedy appears to have forgotten that his job in the case was to rule on the application of the 14th Amendment to same-sex marriage prohibitions, not compose an ode to love and marriage to rival Catullus 5. Seriously. Read the opinion, then read Catullus 5. Kennedy could have saved everyone interested in the case a lot of time by sticking to the law and citing Catullus et al. for his thoughts on the timeless spiritual nirvana-awesomeness and dignity of love.

Still, the legal reasoning is there, sprinkled in with his treatise on love and the human condition, and it's generally solid -- with one glaring exception that I will discuss below. It can be summarized as follows (my paraphrasing):

"In Baker v. Nelson, a one-line summary opinion, we ruled that prohibitions against gay marriage did not present a substantial federal question. We now overrule our previous decision, on the following grounds. Marriage is a fundamental human right, as recognized in our previous decision Loving v. Virginia, invaliding prohibitions on interracial marriage on 14th Amendment grounds, and a series of other decisions invalidating prohibitions on prison inmates' ability to marry and invalidating prohibitions on fathers behind on child-support to marry. The biases of a society can sometimes prevent the Court from seeing where existing laws and practices infringe on the fundamental rights protected by the 14th Amendment, and that has happened here. Building on our earlier cases invalidating unequal application of the law to classes of people wishing to marry, we now hold that the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law protects the right of gay couples to marry using the same process and under the same restrictions and standards as straight couples."

That's really about it. The rest of the 20+-page opinion really doesn't say anything beyond that. The legal issues presented by this case were never that interesting.

Kennedy committed one serious error, however, as I mentioned earlier. This error does not affect the correctness of the Constitutional analysis, in my opinion, but it is still a very serious mistake which I cannot believe made it into the published opinion.

At one point in Kennedy's decision, he discusses how the various petitioners (the gay couples in the case) have been harmed by the prohibition on gay marriage, in a sort of rhetorical "victim parade". One of these couples was April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, about whom Kennedy had the following to say:

"April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are co-plaintiffs in the case from Michigan. They celebrated a commitment ceremony to honor their permanent relation in 2007. They both work as nurses, DeBoer in a neonatal unit and Rowse in an emergency unit. In 2009, DeBoer and Rowse fostered and then adopted a baby boy. Later that same year, they welcomed another son into their family. The new baby, born prematurely and abandoned by his biological mother, required around-the-clock care. The next year, a baby girl with special needs joined their family. Michigan, however, permits only opposite-sex married couples or single individuals to adopt, so each child can have only one woman as his or her legal parent. If an emergency were to arise, schools and hospitals may treat the three children as if they had only one parent. And, were tragedy to befall either DeBoer or Rowse, the other would have no legal rights over the children she had not been permitted to adopt. This couple seeks relief from the continuing uncertainty their unmarried status creates in their lives."

The above is wrong, almost in its entirety. It is true, I assume, that DeBoer and Rowse cannot adopt each other's children under Michigan law. And that is where the truth of Kennedy's paragraph ends.

First, there is no reason DeBoer and Rowse need fear that any of their children would be removed from the non-legal parent if the legal parent of one or more of the children died. Listing desired guardians for one's minor children is a standard component of drafting a will for a parent. It is even the case that, for those without much property, this is often the primary reason for having a will made. DeBoer and Rowse need only have written wills listing each other as the guardians of the children each adopted. If one of them died, that spouse's will would be probated, at which point that spouse's legal children would go to the other parent. Straight couples use this procedure, too, in case both die. It's common enough that there's even a Seinfeld episode incorporating the concept as a plot device.

Second, there is no reason to fear hospitals would not allow the other parent to make health care decisions for the other's children. A document called a "medical power of attorney for a child" allows a parent to name another person as allowed to make health care decisions for the parent's child or children. Another document called a HIPAA authorization allows a doctor or hospital to share private health information with another person. These documents are typically prepared by an estate planning attorney at the same time the will is drafted, and, just like guardian appointments for minor children in a will, these documents are needed by straight couples, too: what if both parents are unavailable when the kid is with the grandparents and gets severely ill, and the grandparents have to deal with the hospital?

Proper estate planning is sufficient to satisfy DeBoer's and Rowse's grievances related to their children's welfare. Any lawyer should have known this, and Kennedy, as a Supreme Court justice, is one of the most esteemed lawyers in the country. Perhaps he did know what he wrote was misleading, but felt that getting into the details would have interrupted his narrative. If so, that is no excuse. Misleading for the intent of persuasion and clean narrative is the mark of silver-tongued politicians, not august legal scholars.
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Date: 2014-11-23 05:58
Subject: GreatShow
Security: Public
There was a "highly advanced virus" in the most Elementary episode that flashed a lot of images on the screen in quick succession. It was used to induce a seizure in someone who had epilepsy. In actuality such a program is trivial to write.
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Date: 2014-11-21 09:44
Subject: pkgsrc Works on Linux
Security: Public
pkgsrc, aka NetBSD's "ports" repo, works on Linux. That's really cool! I don't know if I'll ever need it for anything, but, still, it's awesome it's there.
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Date: 2014-11-14 20:44
Subject: Wikipedia Needs A Fork
Security: Public
Title says it all. Wikipedia's destructive deletionist policies and general dysfunction have led to a situation where they are no longer reasonably responsible stewards of the compendium of human knowledge they hold. Deletionpedia is a good start. We probably need more than one guy with a script that (as of now at least) isn't really working right. But this is necessary if we are to stop knowledge of all things politicking, bureaucratic twats might consider "not noteworthy" from being simply erased from human knowledge. The site has had years to get its act in order; instead, as I view it from (mostly) the outside, it's spiraling further into dysfunction. They have demonstrated that they can't fix their culture. What to do? What is always done in OSS-land when a maintainer goes bad. Fork.

And it's important this be done fairly soon. You wouldn't host a site like Wikipedia in China. You also shouldn't host it under the stewardship of a bureaucracy that feels the need to censor 10K text files (and it's not the disk space anyway ... admins can restore deleted pages, so they're still on the server, just being censored) containing interesting information about cult favorite cultural artifacts because "IT'S NOT NOTEWORTHY".

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Date: 2014-11-06 03:02
Subject: Death in Literature/TV/Cinema/Plays
Security: Public
There seems to be a recent trend to kill off major characters in TV shows, movies, etc. It's part of a trend of making entertainment "dark" in general. I'm not a fan of this for a number of reasons, which I'll enumerate here.

First off, killing off major characters is wasteful. Presumably you've spent a long time building and developing this character. After you kill the character off, that character can typically no longer play a major role in your work. All the capital you put into that character is, in that one act, destroyed forever. Yes, the scene can be dramatic, a plot point, etc., etc. Sometimes spending your capital in that way might be warranted. But killing a character in the middle of an ongoing work is an extremely expensive act, and one that, understandably, will often annoy viewers/readers who have spent their free time following and bonding with the now-deceased character. Creating and killing off a minor character can often serve the same plot purpose as killing off a major character, and this is much less expensive. This should be considered first.

What about killing off major characters at the end of the work, though? If it's the final act anyway, you might as well kill them off, right? That would add some depth to the work! Well, this is certainly preferable to killing them in the middle of the work, but it has a tendency to come across as, for lack of a better word, cheap.

First, if you're on a soap box, and using the death of the character to illustrate the evils of society or whatever, it will be obvious, and annoying. Find a way to make your case without making a fictional character a martyr for your cause.

The right way to do it, imo, is basically the way it's done in The Old Man and the Sea. Make the character a symbol for something else, something more. A good example of how to do it right is the death of Walter White in Breaking Bad. He died, ultimately, after sacrificing everything he was in order to provide for his family. Or, at least, that's one way to look at it.

The wrong way is how Hank was killed in Breaking Bad. There was no plot reason he had to be killed, barring extreme writer laziness. Viewers had watched for probably over an hour of screen time as he learned to walk again, which was then ultimately for nothing. And his death wasn't really symbolic of anything. Yes, yes, it was "Ozymandias" for Walter White, at least at that moment. But that's really stretching.

Hank's death is a perfect example of the trend I'm talking about. Killing characters is certainly a tool writers, screenwriters, and other storytellers can use to excellent effect. But it can be overused, and there has been a recent trend of such overuse.
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Date: 2014-07-26 17:15
Subject: Weird Al
Security: Public

This. Is. Awesome.
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Date: 2014-06-20 13:48
Subject: Repost of comment to ipwatchdog
Security: Public

I was sent here by LWN (Linux Weekly News). It's well known over there that when you're unhappy, we should be happy, so I'm very happy today :) The converse is likely also true -- you were probably happy about the Oracle v. Google reversal, and I'm very unhappy about that :(

That's not to say I disagree with you on everything -- it seems (from your article on software not being math) that you wouldn't be averse to limiting terms for software patent to something like 5 years, which would be a great thing and might even make software patents benefit society.

Anyway, here's why I'm commenting here: your claim that software isn't math is quite strained. You try to make the distinction that math is "descriptive" and that software "controls a computer", but that's a matter of how software is used, not what it is. You don't have to use software by executing it on a computer; you could use it by reading it like a book if you wanted, and, depending on the software, you could be enlightened by doing that. You could also use software as part of a mathematical proof in the field of computability theory, and this is commonly done. There's a mathematical category of "computable algorithms", which are any formal languages that can be described by a Turing machine, and code that computes an algorithm is a proof that that algorithm is in fact in the category of computable algorithms. Hypothetical software is also written as part of proofs that certain algorithms are "NP-complete", meaning they can't be done quickly on a computer unless a lot of other (hard) problems can also be done quickly on a computer.

Look at functional programming sometime: it's "descriptive" rather than "controlling" (imperative), but it's equivalent to to more conventional (imperative) programming. Functional programming looks a lot more like math than imperative programming, so, if you look at it, maybe you'd see where all the people saying "software is math" are coming from. Look up the Church-Turing thesis to see how functional programming is equivalent to the more common Turing machine-based systems. And the equivalence is (you guessed it) a mathematical definition.

Oh, and, by the way, banning people because you disagree with them is juvenile. Perhaps that comment wasn't constructive, but still.
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Date: 2014-05-16 18:15
Subject: I Miss Groklaw
Security: Public
With the Oracle v. Google reversal and remand, I'm really missing Groklaw. I wish PJ still felt secure enough to continue with it. It was a great space for collaborating on threats to OSS, and, so far, there's been no good replacement for it. GrokTheLaw tried to continue in the spirit of the original, but it seems to have fizzled. What a shame.

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my journal
May 2016