2018/12/13: The top scholars of the news media say that a right to control links will only cement the dominance of the legacy news media, while weakening the press overall. The world's most renowned technologists say that copyright filters are a stupid, dangerous, unworkable idea that is doomed to fail.
So Voss had to come up with "compromises" that would allow him to convince fellow MEPs that things weren't that bad. For example, he expunged all mention of "filters" from the filter rule, but still made it impossible for companies to avoid filters. He also allowed for minor exemptions for "microenterprises" that would maybe get some of them out from under the necessity of having filters.
These figleafs didn't fool his opponents, but they did let him advance the Directive through the Parliament and into the trilogue negotiations. However, the big rightsholder organisations hated even the appearance of compromise, and so first the movie companies and sports leagues denounced the Directive and asked to have their products removed from its scope, and then the music industry (who have been the strongest proponents of filters) completely condemned the process and called for a restart.
2013/01/14: Then, unfortunately, the data people took XML and decided that it solved their problems. So we got configuration files in XML, databases in XML, and so on. Some of these applications did ok. Storing data in XML for long-term interoperability is an acceptable use of XML. Indeed, XML is supported by virtually all programming languages and that is unlikely to change.
However, XML as a technology for databases was supposed to solve new problems. All major database vendors added support for XML. DBAs were told to learn XML or else… We also got handfuls of serious XML databases. More critically, the major database research conferences were flooded with XML research papers.
And then it stopped.
2018/12/12: a patent application from Amazon became public that would pair face surveillance — like Rekognition, the product that the company is aggressively marketing to police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — with Ring, a doorbell camera company that Amazon bought earlier this year.
2018/12/13: top customers want to move their corporate data "across multiple cloud environments with no lock-in." That means a hybrid cloud.
A hybrid cloud is one that runs simultaneously on a public and private cloud. Historically, that's been done with three models: Hybrid-cloud management software such as HPE Helion; vendor-native hybrid cloud platforms, such as Microsoft with Azure and Azure Stack; and Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS) clouds, including Cloud Foundry, which can bridge over Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) clouds.
There are places for each of these approaches, but the first two tend to be difficult to deploy. The PaaS model is easier... if you want to run a PaaS.
2017/01/20: A viral image has revealed that palm oil is one of the major ingredients in jars of Nutella, amongst excessive amounts of sugar.
The diagram shows layers of the brand’s five main ingredients in their raw form. These are palm oil, cocoa, hazelnuts, skimmed milk powder and sugar.
According to reports, the size of the labelled section in the diagram is said to represent the real proportion in the jar, which many were shocked to see was 50% white sugar.
2017/05/17: The GDPR covers all personal data defined as any data from which a living individual is identified or identifiable, whether directly or indirectly. This broad definition includes data outside the scope of HIPAA, but GDPR includes specific requirements relating to “sensitive personal data” such as racial or ethnic origin, religious or philosophical beliefs, political opinions, trade union membership, genetic data, biometric data, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person’s sex life or sexual orientation. GDPR’s “data concerning health” and HIPAA’s “protected health information” are very similar. GDPR specifically defines data concerning health as personal data relating to the physical or mental health of an individual, including the provision of health care services, which reveal informat
2018/12/05: The whole “fighting climate change” frame rests on the assumption that opposition is the best way to get things done. But that’s not always the case, as the linguist Deborah Tannen wrote in The Argument Culture: Stopping America’s War of Words back in 1998. Military and sports metaphors train us to see everything in terms of conflict — this side versus that side — and that perspective limits our collective imagination about what we can do to fix complex problems.
Coming from a pacifist background, and obsessed with linguistics, I’ve grown uneasy with the way war shapes our words. The thought struck me earlier this year: By pitting one group against another, do war metaphors undermine our ability to address the complex problem of climate change, the biggest global crisis we face? Are there other ways to frame our predicament and convey the sense of urgency that’s needed — without dividing us into Hatfields and McCoys?
My gut feeling was that talking about climate change as a battle between rivals will ensure our ultimate defeat. But the reality might be more complicated than that.
Hundreds of other studies have shown that the best way to get people to stop demonizing each other is to introduce them to the actual human beings they disagree with.
Instead of turning differences into fights, I could frame the climate discussion in positive terms — discussing how a shift to renewable energy creates jobs, for example.
2018/05/30: unlike even the most property-friendly founders Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Buchanan wanted a private governing elite of corporate power that was wholly released from public accountability.
Suppressing voting, changing legislative processes so that a normal majority could no longer prevail, sowing public distrust of government institutions— all these were tactics toward the goal. But the Holy Grail was the Constitution: alter it and you could increase and secure the power of the wealthy in a way that no politician could ever challenge.
MacLean argues that despite the rhetoric of Virginia school acolytes, shrinking big government is not really the point. The oligarchs require a government with tremendous new powers so that they can bypass the will of the people. This, as MacLean points out, requires greatly expanding police powers “to control the resultant popular anger.” The spreading use of pre-emption by GOP-controlled state legislatures to suppress local progressive victories such as living wage ordinances is another example of the right’s aggressive use of state power.
Could these right-wing capitalists allow private companies to fill prisons with helpless citizens—or, more profitable still, right-less undocumented immigrants? They could, and have. Might they engineer a retirement crisis by moving Americans to inadequate 401(k)s? Done. Take away the rights of consumers and workers to bring grievances to court by making them sign forced arbitration agreements? Check. Gut public education to the point where ordinary people have such bleak prospects that they have no energy to fight back? Getting it done.
Would they even refuse children clean water? Actually, yes.
MacLean notes that in Flint, Michigan, Americans got a taste of what the emerging oligarchy will look like — it tastes like poisoned water. There, the Koch-funded Mackinac Center pushed for legislation that would allow the governor to take control of communities facing emergency and put unelected managers in charge. In Flint, one such manager switched the city’s water supply to a polluted river, but the Mackinac Center’s lobbyists ensured that the law was fortified by protections against lawsuits that poisoned inhabitants might bring. Tens of thousands of children were exposed to lead, a substance known to cause serious health problems including brain damage.
Tyler Cowen has provided an economic justification for this kind of brutality, stating that where it is difficult to get clean water, private companies should take over and make people pay for it. “This includes giving them the right to cut off people who don’t—or can’t—pay their bills,” the economist explains.
To many this sounds grotesquely inhumane, but it is a way of thinking that has deep roots in America. In Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative (2005), Buchanan considers the charge of heartlessness made against the kind of classic liberal that he took himself to be. MacLean interprets his discussion to mean that people who “failed to foresee and save money for their future needs” are to be treated, as Buchanan put it, “as subordinate members of the species, akin to…animals who are dependent.’”
Buchanan, a 1940 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University who later attended the University of Chicago for graduate study, started out as a conventional public finance economist. But he grew frustrated by the way in which economic theorists ignored the political process.
Buchanan began working on a description of power that started out as a critique of how institutions functioned in the relatively liberal 1950s and ‘60s, a time when economist John Maynard Keynes’s ideas about the need for government intervention in markets to protect people from flaws so clearly demonstrated in the Great Depression held sway. Buchanan, MacLean notes, was incensed at what he saw as a move toward socialism and deeply suspicious of any form of state action that channels resources to the public. Why should the increasingly powerful federal government be able to force the wealthy to pay for goods and programs that served ordinary citizens and the poor?
In thinking about how people make political decisions and choices, Buchanan concluded that you could only understand them as individuals seeking personal advantage. In an interview cited by MacLean, the economist observed that in the 1950s Americans commonly assumed that elected officials wanted to act in the public interest. Buchanan vehemently disagreed — that was a belief he wanted, as he put it, to “tear down.” His ideas developed into a theory that came to be known as “public choice.”
Buchanan’s view of human nature was distinctly dismal. Adam Smith saw human beings as self-interested and hungry for personal power and material comfort, but he also acknowledged social instincts like compassion and fairness. Buchanan, in contrast, insisted that people were primarily driven by venal self-interest. Crediting people with altruism or a desire to serve others was “romantic” fantasy: politicians and government workers were out for themselves, and so, for that matter, were teachers, doctors, and civil rights activists. They wanted to control others and wrest away their resources: “Each person seeks mastery over a world of slaves,” he wrote in his 1975 book, The Limits of Liberty.
Does that sound like your kindergarten teacher? It did to Buchanan.
The people who needed protection were property owners, and their rights could only be secured though constitutional limits to prevent the majority of voters from encroaching on them, an idea Buchanan lays out in works like Property as a Guarantor of Liberty (1993). MacLean observes that Buchanan saw society as a cutthroat realm of makers (entrepreneurs) constantly under siege by takers (everybody else) His own language was often more stark, warning the alleged “prey” of “parasites” and “predators” out to fleece them.
2017/12/07: Out of the 22 countries surveyed, “American parents stood out” as the “most unhappy.” Yes, U.S. parents are miserable and there’s a really simple reason why—lousy family-friendly workplaces. Per the Times, “in countries that had such policies, there was no happiness gap between parents and nonparents.” One expert was quoted by the Times saying she believes “it’s harder to be the parent of a young child and a full-time worker now than 30 years ago.”
The U.S. is far behind the rest of the world when it comes to federally mandated paid parental leave, and while more companies are offering parental leave, there is still a lot to be desired. For instance, only 21% of family leave is taken for new babies. And each year, more than 40 million people, or 18% of the U.S. workforce, spend an average of 24 hours a week providing unpaid care for a chronically ill, disabled, or elderly family member. So parents and families need to either accept their misery or add fighting for change to the long list of things they need to do each day.
2018/12/06: even if the current administration isn’t interested in the electric vehicles, California, China, and European nations surely are. China has followed the Golden State’s lead in pushing hard for electric vehicles. Air quality in China is an important political issue.
Because of the Chinese and European commitments to electric vehicles, the global market for EVs doesn’t appear to be facing extinction. But despite Tesla’s popularity, EV sales are not what they need to be domestically to make them major market winners.
2018/12/07: Because we live in the Stupidest Timeline, Mozilla find themselves needing to point out that MICROS~1 leaving the web browser market is bad for the web.
Stupidest. Stupidest, stupidest, stupidest timeline.
Mozilla Blog: Goodbye, EdgeHTML:
Microsoft is officially giving up on an independent shared platform for the internet. By adopting Chromium, Microsoft hands over control of even more of online life to Google. [...]
From a business point of view Microsoft's decision may well make sense. Google is so close to almost complete control of the infrastructure of our online lives that it may not be profitable to continue to fight this. [...] From a social, civic and individual empowerment perspective ceding control of fundamental online infrastructure to a single company is terrible. This is why Mozilla exists. We compete with Google not because it's a good business opportunity. We compete with Google because the health of the internet and online life depend on competition and choice. They depend on consumers being able to decide we want something better and to take action.
So that "this is why Mozilla exists" sentiment is great and all, but....
Remember back in the 90s when Gates was claiming that Internet Explorer was an inseparable part of the Windows operating system, and then someone asked him a question he couldn't answer: "Which part of Windows is Internet Explorer for Mac"?
Well, what part of "the health of the internet and online life depend on competition and choice" is served by Mozilla's partnership with vertically integrated, predatory multinational monopolists like Live Nation? Or by implementing DRM?
Automobile exhaust is an important contributor to air pollution, but this fuel tax inordinately hits people of moderate to low income who are already using as little gas as possible, cannot afford to live closer to where they need to go or buy a new, fuel-efficient car. Curbing industrial emissions through technology or degrowth, improvement in mass transit, urban planning and policies aimed at gentrification and investment real estate are alternatives.
2018/12/06: There’s nothing artificial about AI. It’s inspired by people, it’s created by people and more importantly, it impacts people.
the term “AI” is a mystification! The term that describes the reality is “Human-Trained Machine Learning”
why training these algorithms went so wrong: subconsciously mimicking their mostly male, misogynist, often white entrepreneurs and techies with their money-making monopolistic biases and often adolescent, libertarian fantasies.
2018/12/04: All of Quora’s value is derived from the answers provided by its users, and they go to great lengths to make a well-designed platform for finding and replying to questions.
But they do everything they can to make sure you can’t get those contributions back out.
No public API.
No backup or export tools.
Restricted access to answers without an account.
Blocked scrapers and unofficial APIs, and deleted questions related to scraping on their site.
2018/11/28: In cryptography, trust is mathematically provable. Everything else is just faith.
The world of the HTTPS introduction makes no claims to reality. It exists only to highlight how incredible it is that an attacker can capture every single packet of HTTPS data that your browser exchanges with Facebook, and yet still have no idea what your password is. It shows just how powerful a system can be when you combine computers with incorruptible treefolk who live in the mountains, and how even just a tiny bit of total, no-questions-asked faith in a central authority can go a long way.
In the real world there’s no such thing as incorruptible treefolk, and there’s no such thing as no-questions-asked faith in a central authority that doesn’t also quickly wreck civilization. But the real world has still managed to piece together a very serviceable public-key cryptography system by patching over the holes and omissions and naivety of the introductory world with a tartan of secondary systems known collectively as “Public Key Infrastructure” (PKI).
2018/03/12: The basic appeal of the internet of things, or IoT, is that it will make all your objects “smart,” in much the same way your cell phone is.
By imbuing other objects with the ability to access the internet, the invention opens the door for a number of other breakthroughs, all of which differ depending on their field. For instance, a smart refrigerator might reduce the amount of food waste a family commits, which could have an impact on the way grocery stores stock their shelves and farms grow their products. A smart washing machine, however, might optimize water usage and communicate that data to an area’s water source, which can improve regions’ environmental efficiency.
2016/07/05: Richard Feynman's famous diagrams embody a deep shift in thinking about how the universe is put together.
The Newtonian framework worked brilliantly for nearly two centuries, as Newton’s equations for gravity went from triumph to triumph, and (at first) the analogous ones for electric and magnetic forces seemed to do so as well. But in the 19th century, as people investigated the phenomena of electricity and magnetism more closely, Newton-style equations proved inadequate. In James Clerk Maxwell’s equations, the fruit of that work, electromagnetic fields — not separated bodies — are the primary objects of reality.
2018/11/12: today, each Congressional district elects just one person, in a winner-take-all election where you only need to win by one vote. This means that the losers end up with a Representative who simply doesn't represent them. This means that, in a close election, 49.9% of the voters can be effectively disenfranchised. Even in lopsided victories, where 70% of the voters support the winner, the remaining 30% are stuck with someone who doesn't represent them.
The solution: elect TWO representatives from each Congressional district, and award them each a fractional vote in Congress. Each of the top two vote-getters would have a Congressional vote that is proportional to the number of voters who supported them. Thus if a district elects a Democrat (D) with 55% of the vote, and the losing Republican (R) gets 45%, both of them go to Congress, and D gets 0.55 votes while R gets 0.45 votes.
This will double the size of the House, to 830 members. It will also completely fix partisan gerrymandering.
2018/12/03: a letter to MEPs from big film industry associations and sports leagues is raising eyebrows. Their message: They believe both the Parliament’s and the Council’s versions of Article 13 would end up benefiting the big online platforms – and they’d rather prefer to be left out of this mess altogether. They urge that their sectors be explicitly removed from Article 13’s scope, except in the highly unlikely case that both institutions drop all their work and return to the original Commission proposal from 2016.
In doing so, they are disavowing those in the media industry who ahead of the September vote in the European Parliament swayed MEP’s opinions by loudly claiming to be speaking for “European creators” when they asserted that the law, including Parliament’s version, was necessary to “save culture”.
2017/11/22: All of us believe that our social and political attitudes are based on good reasons and reflect our important values. But we also need to recognize how much they can be influenced subconsciously by our most basic, powerful motivations for safety and survival. Politicians on both sides of the aisle know this already and attempt to manipulate our votes and party allegiances by appealing to these potent feelings of fear and of safety.
Instead of allowing our strings to be pulled so easily by others, we can become more conscious of what drives us and work harder to base our opinions on factual knowledge about the issues, including information from outside our media echo chambers. Yes, our views can harden given the right environment, but our work shows that they are actually easier to change than we might think.