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Oct 15, 2014
Bloviation

Only a poor student of history could fail to notice history's cycles. The future can't be fortold in detail, but asking the question "Where are the cycles taking us?" gives you a better chance of guessing general shapes than anything else I know.

So it's easy for a student of history to look out at the United States and guess that we're approaching a libertine peak, and that over the next couple of decades we should expect to see the pendulum swing away from the wild excesses of the Baby Boomers back in a more "conservative" direction.

But at my age, I've never lived through a shift. So had I guessed how the counter-libertine shift would occur last week, I would have guessed a gradual cultural waning of the libertines and a gradual cultural waxing of those of a more conservative bent, with the advocates not changing their own views but their relative influence changing over time.

Read the rest...


Permalink
Sep 20, 2014
Bloviation

The debate about the reproducibility of science bubbles onward, with everyone agreeing that it's a problem but of course nobody with power to fix it doing anything about it.

Recently I've been thinking that science as we know it sits in a very unpleasant middle ground.

On the one hand, despite the propaganda institutional science is biased against replication. This holes it below the waterline, and any serious scientist (alas) must consider fixing this in their field their top priority or they are consenting to just spin their wheels forever. We do not work formally enough to produce good results, because merely reaching "Peer Approved Once" and getting published is provably not a solid foundation to build on.

If one is inclined to take offense to that, consider the fact that scientists are supposed to be building on the work of others. It's very simple math to see that even if a uniformly-distributed 95% of the papers published are perfectly correct, that 5% has a disproportional impact on the accuracy of a tower of knowledge; as the tower grows, the chances of any particular new result containing a false result in the set of results it is building on approaches 1 quickly.

Many scientific disciplines would be lucky to have a 95% accuracy rate.

On the other hand, scientists are also not allowed to just "fool around", by virtue of not being able to get funding for it. Even simple experiments must be submitted, approved, funded, etc, all involving processes a great deal more complicated than the simple little English words imply. As a second-order effect it becomes a waste of time to go through the process for a small experiment, making the small experiments even less likely to be conducted than you would initially think. And yet, historically, a lot of great stuff happened from very skilled, knowledgeable scientists just fooling around. In only a few fields can a scientist afford to fool around on their own time and money, mostly the mathematical ones.

The system both crushes away the rigor we're promised in the brochure, and also crushes away any chance of serendipity or discovery on the cheap. The miracle is when we get any science at all.


Permalink
Sep 19, 2014
Bloviation

Widespread angst about school quality is easy to fix... schools just need to look around and copy what's working out there in the real world.

Five Solids that you have to see to believe!

7 Places You Have To See Before You Die

This Woman's SHOCKING Actions Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity

See why this guy thinks he can make you dance to his tune

This one weird chemical will BLOW YOUR MIND!

Oh... uh... I may have gotten carried away on that last one. Maybe it should be, uh, covered differently....


Permalink
Dec 31, 2013
Bloviation

I don't listen to the radio hardly at all anymore. Recently, I was with my wife while she was just idly flipping through, and I was astounded.

Rappers? Autotuned.

Rockers? Autotuned.

Country? Autotuned.

The electro/techno stuff was autotuned, but that's less of a surprise.

Autotune, autotune, AUTOTUNE!

Not even subtly, either, but cranked up as far as it will go before the high end simply explodes with noise.

Is there anyone left in the music industry that can carry a tune?


Computer Security Haiku

Gold in vault, target
Steel door closed, locked, key thrown away;
Thief laughs "There's no wall!"

Data stream flows, filling
Lake overflows; disaster!
Arbitrary code

Man trusts fellow Man,
fellow Man undeserving.
Script code injected.

Novice celebrates,
Output easy, just append strings!
Master needs new novice.

Dark secrets made, shared
Tells foe the password is lost...
Rubber hose finds it.

"Love", Alice tells Bob
In anger, Eve flips one bit
Now love's checksum fails

Small time differences,
like the blink of a blink, yet,
timing attacks still work.

Chick digs my profile,
sends regards in attachment.
Virus, still no love.

That plaintext password?
Easy, but when the press hears...
thought too hard to bear.

Address sign-up forms,
Security mindset sees
a way to spam foes.


I'm aware of the rule that haiku are supposed to have "season words", but I just couldn't jam them in there. "Arbitrary Javascript injection" is ten syllables already, for instance. It seemed better to not jam them in.


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