burkaman's recent activity

  1. Comment on Someday aliens will land and all will be fine until we explain our calendar in ~life

    burkaman
    Link Parent
    No the issue is that we go from 11:59AM to 12:00PM, but then 12:59PM to 1:00PM. 1 does not come after 12, it would be a little more logical if AM->PM and 12->1 happened at the same time. It makes...

    No the issue is that we go from 11:59AM to 12:00PM, but then 12:59PM to 1:00PM. 1 does not come after 12, it would be a little more logical if AM->PM and 12->1 happened at the same time. It makes sense if you think about an analog clock, but it's hard to explain without that context.

    Edit: Actually no it doesn't really make sense even with an analog clock, really we should rotate everything counterclockwise one hour and 1 should be the first hour at the top of the clock.

    3 votes
  2. Comment on Is the US going to break up? in ~talk

    burkaman
    Link
    You should do this regardless, having EU citizenship is awesome. Start looking into it now, the process is going to take a very long time.

    I have European-immigrant parents, so would getting citizenship in their country be prudent?

    You should do this regardless, having EU citizenship is awesome. Start looking into it now, the process is going to take a very long time.

    4 votes
  3. Comment on The case against the Supreme Court of the United States in ~humanities

    burkaman
    Link Parent
    This metaphor of law as code comes up a lot on the internet, but it's wrong and it's not helpful for understanding the system. Law is not code, it is explicitly intended to be interpreted by...
    • Exemplary

    This metaphor of law as code comes up a lot on the internet, but it's wrong and it's not helpful for understanding the system. Law is not code, it is explicitly intended to be interpreted by humans, because there is no alternative. It's not possible to write a law that anticipates every possible scenario, that's why we write relatively vague laws and involve humans (police, DAs, judges, juries) at every step of the process.

    Consider Pace v. Alabama, the 1883 decision that unanimously upheld anti-miscegenation laws, and Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 unanimous decision that struck them down. Both cases were decided based on the 14th amendment. What changed in those 84 years? The "code" didn't change - the laws under consideration were basically the same, and the 14th amendment certainly didn't change. Both decisions were written by smart people, and if you try to read them from some kind of "objective" legal viewpoint, I'd argue they're both fairly convincing. But they can't both be right.

    What changed is the human beings involved - the judges and the society they live in. This is intentional, and the Constitution and most laws are vague on purpose. Look at the 1st amendment for example: almost every single word is vague and up to interpretation. Can you give me an objective definition for any of these: "establishment of religion", "religion", "free exercise", "abridging", "speech", "the press", "peaceably", "assemble", "petition". You can't, and you aren't supposed to be able to. It's supposed to change, it's supposed to be flexible. If they had listed which religions count and which publishers are considered press and what actions are considered peacable then it would have been useless within a month.

    Law is not code, it is a tool for our society to organize and regulate itself. Laws are not universally applied - you shouldn't get a speeding ticket for drifting 1 MPH over the limit for 10 seconds. Police and DAs have broad latitude about deciding when to enforce any particular law, and that's the way it should be. Sentences vary wildly and often consider a plaintiff's history and background. This is a good thing. You can't write code that considers mysterious concepts like a person's intentions and "state of mind" but we can and should write laws like that. You can't write code if you don't know what compiler will be used and what CPU it will be run on, but that's the way laws are written. Reflect for a moment on why Supreme Court decisions are called "opinions", and why computer outputs are not.

    20 votes
  4. Comment on Solving the challenges of robotic pizza-making in ~tech

    burkaman
    Link
    Pizza-making seems to be a very popular target for robotics startups, which is weird because we've had successful industrial-scale pizza robots for decades. In this case it seems like the...

    Pizza-making seems to be a very popular target for robotics startups, which is weird because we've had successful industrial-scale pizza robots for decades. In this case it seems like the researchers are just using pizza as a representative difficult human task to develop a more general purpose algorithm, but I still want to mention: when you're designing a robot to accomplish a particular task, asking "how does a human do it" is almost always the wrong question. Here's a modern pizza robot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsuxMC3ObTE. Having seen that, now watch this incredibly embarrassing video from Zume Pizza, a startup that had raised $6 million at the time this was filmed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFSdxwRVh8A. A year later they raised $48 million more before realizing this is a stupid idea, then pivoting, raising several hundred million more, buying a company called Pivot, and pivoting again.

    Think about your dishwasher, a 100-year-old domestic robot. It uses less water and soap than you, takes up less space, makes less noise, etc. If we instead tried to design a humanoid dishwashing robot, it would lose all these advantages and gain an enormous amount of complexity.

    6 votes
  5. Comment on Contra Chrome in ~tech

    burkaman
    Link Parent
    SNL impressions are always done so that nobody could believe they are the real person. Also, the skits work because politicians are well-known public figures and viewers understand the context and...

    SNL impressions are always done so that nobody could believe they are the real person. Also, the skits work because politicians are well-known public figures and viewers understand the context and real person being parodied. In this case, most people have never heard of Scott McCloud and have no way of knowing whether this is a parody of his views or what he actually believes.

    I saw this comic a few days ago and I genuinely though someone named Scott McCloud had become disillusioned with Google and written this update of his own comic. I'm pretty surprised and annoyed as a reader to find out that's not the case, and I imagine Scott would be even more annoyed. I also think the comic seems less impactful if it's not actually a former Google supporter that has realized the error of his ways.

    5 votes
  6. Comment on Elon Musk becomes Twitter’s largest shareholder in ~tech

  7. Comment on ‘Blade Runner 2099’ live-action sequel series from Ridley Scott in works at Amazon Studios in ~tv

    burkaman
    Link
    "Executive producing" generally means he is getting paid to put his name on it and will have no other involvement. Stealing this observation from an HN comment I saw, but Ridley Scott is 84 years...

    Ridley Scott, who directed the original 1982 Blade Runner movie, is executive producing the series

    "Executive producing" generally means he is getting paid to put his name on it and will have no other involvement.

    Stealing this observation from an HN comment I saw, but Ridley Scott is 84 years old and actively producing at least 18 projects, and directing 4 (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000631/). Keep this in mind when you see his name on new stuff.

    4 votes
  8. Comment on Suicide hotline shares data with for-profit spinoff in ~tech

    burkaman
    Link
    Update: https://www.crisistextline.org/blog/2022/01/31/an-update-on-data-privacy-our-community-and-our-service/ Loris won't delete models they've already built based on past data, but this is...

    Update: https://www.crisistextline.org/blog/2022/01/31/an-update-on-data-privacy-our-community-and-our-service/

    We understand that you don’t want Crisis Text Line to share any data with Loris, even though the data is handled securely, anonymized and scrubbed of personally identifiable information. As a result, we have ended our data-sharing relationship with Loris. This change includes our request that Loris delete the data it has received from Crisis Text Line. We have updated our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy accordingly to reflect this change. (Note: While a data sharing relationship has existed, Loris has not accessed any data since the beginning of 2020.)

    Loris won't delete models they've already built based on past data, but this is still better than nothing and a pretty fast response.

    11 votes
  9. Comment on Suicide hotline shares data with for-profit spinoff in ~tech

    burkaman
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    To your first point, Crisis Text Line raised $23.8 million with no strings attached in 2016: https://omidyar.com/news/crisis-text-line-raises-23-8-million/, and has ongoing corporate sponsors....

    To your first point, Crisis Text Line raised $23.8 million with no strings attached in 2016: https://omidyar.com/news/crisis-text-line-raises-23-8-million/, and has ongoing corporate sponsors. They are not under pressure to scramble for revenue sources, this was a free choice.

    5 votes
  10. Comment on Where I live, no one cares about COVID in ~health.coronavirus

    burkaman
    Link Parent
    That's not what this article is saying, and that's not what anyone here is saying. Here's an option (3): Don't avoid being indoors, but wear a mask if you want to or other people want you to. You...

    Covid is expected to be with us endemically forever

    That's not what this article is saying, and

    are those that strongly disagree with the article advocating that we continue to wear masks for the rest of time?

    that's not what anyone here is saying. Here's an option (3):

    • Don't avoid being indoors, but wear a mask if you want to or other people want you to. You don't need to and have never needed to wear one outside, but you can if you want to. Don't mock people for it, it has no negative effect on your life or theirs.

    • If you're sick at all, try to avoid other people and wear a mask when you can't. Yes, for the rest of time.

    • Have any amount of sympathy for the millions dead. Don't say "COVID is invisible to me except when I am reading the news" when you literally just said that 136 people in your own rural county are dead.

    • Accept that you were wrong two years ago and this is actually worse than the flu, even if you aren't personally worried about catching it (I'm not worried for myself either). Also, the flu is probably worse that you realized and you should get a flu shot to protect other people.

    • Don't say that you haven't cared at all "for a long while, I mean for nearly two years, from almost the very beginning" unless you're acknowledging that you were wrong.

    • Don't complain about taking a free and easy 2 minute test every once in a while.

    • Acknowledge that it's ok for other people to have different values than you.

    • If there's an annual Covid shot, get it.

    • Accept that it's not insane for people living in 70,000 person per square mile Manhattan to behave differently than people living in 7 person per square mile Montana. Don't complain about how people living 600 miles away from you are conducting their personal lives.

    • Accept that you're going to be exposed to covid every couple days/weeks/months for the rest of time.

    17 votes
  11. Comment on Goodbye, MIT in ~humanities

    burkaman
    Link
    A bit off topic, but I will never understand why anyone donates to any large university. MIT's endowment is $27 billion. They do not need your money and they never will. They could eliminate...

    A bit off topic, but I will never understand why anyone donates to any large university. MIT's endowment is $27 billion. They do not need your money and they never will. They could eliminate tuition for the next century and not even notice. Please find a cause that will actually benefit from your support, no matter how much you love your college.

    11 votes
  12. Comment on Weekly coronavirus-related chat, questions, and minor updates - week of October 18 in ~health.coronavirus

    burkaman
    Link Parent
    That's 83.2% of people 18 or older. Our World in Data is showing proportions for people of all ages.

    That's 83.2% of people 18 or older. Our World in Data is showing proportions for people of all ages.

    3 votes
  13. Comment on Amazon copied products and rigged search results to promote its own brands, documents show in ~finance

    burkaman
    Link Parent
    Yes they do: https://themarkup.org/amazons-advantage/2021/10/14/amazon-puts-its-own-brands-first-above-better-rated-products#amazon-methodology-fig4b-survey-bars-Q2 Most people think Amazon search...
    • Exemplary

    no one goes to Amazon thinking that they're getting unbiased search results

    Yes they do: https://themarkup.org/amazons-advantage/2021/10/14/amazon-puts-its-own-brands-first-above-better-rated-products#amazon-methodology-fig4b-survey-bars-Q2

    Most people think Amazon search will give them the bestselling or best rated product, or just don't really think about it.

    Also, that's what they told Congress: https://docs.house.gov/meetings/JU/JU05/20190716/109793/HHRG-116-JU05-20190716-SD038.pdf

    Amazon designs its shopping and discovery experience to feature the items customers will want
    to purchase, regardless of whether they are offered by Amazon or one of its selling partners.
    Amazon considers many factors when choosing the shopping results featured for customers,
    including, for example, customer actions (such as how frequently an item was purchased),
    information about the item (such as title, price, and description), and availability.

    In question 7 they explicitly deny that their algorithms consider a product's relationship to Amazon.

    14 votes
  14. Comment on Shower thought ... Maybe everything else is mutating, too? in ~health

    burkaman
    Link
    Everything else is mutating all the time, that's why there's a new flu shot every year. You'd actually expect them to mutate less in this scenario, if they're infecting fewer people and therefore...

    Everything else is mutating all the time, that's why there's a new flu shot every year.

    Thanks to all of the social distancing, OCD hand-washing, masking, etc for the past 18 months, "regular" colds/flus/germs have probably been going through some pretty extreme evolutionary stresses, just like Covid

    You'd actually expect them to mutate less in this scenario, if they're infecting fewer people and therefore have fewer opportunities to reproduce. Environmental stress can drive evolution, but if a virus can't spread, that's more than stress; it's just going to die and fail to pass on any genes at all.

    10 votes
  15. Comment on Bangle.js 2 is a hackable, open source smartwatch that runs JavaScript in ~tech

    burkaman
    Link Parent
    I mean any language without explicit memory management has to be run in an environment with garbage collection. Espruino has a GC, but I don't know enough to say what algorithm it uses or how safe...

    I mean any language without explicit memory management has to be run in an environment with garbage collection. Espruino has a GC, but I don't know enough to say what algorithm it uses or how safe and efficient it is.

    4 votes
  16. Comment on Bangle.js 2 is a hackable, open source smartwatch that runs JavaScript in ~tech

    burkaman
    Link Parent
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gfw/banglejs-2-the-open-smart-watch Don't totally buy it, I don't think any of this is unique to Javascript. However the Espruino site is more convincing:...

    Why JavaScript?

    Developing software for embedded devices can be a real pain. Code can take a minute or more to compile and upload to the chip, which has to happen for every change you make. Many tools don’t even allow for debugging, and on a device that stays on for weeks, even a tiny memory leak can make it unusable.

    Bangle.js doesn’t have those problems. The Espruino JavaScript interpreter allows you to upload code and debug wirelessly out of the box using just a Web Browser, with no need to install software on your computer. You can even try it out in an emulator!

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gfw/banglejs-2-the-open-smart-watch

    Don't totally buy it, I don't think any of this is unique to Javascript. However the Espruino site is more convincing:

    Why JavaScript?

    We wanted to use a language that:

    • Has the same basic form as C, so simple code appears similar to Arduino code
    • Encourages event-based programming (for lower power consumption)
    • Is widely used, with lots of learning material online
    • Is interpreted, and allows functions to be modified while the interpreter is running (unlike some other languages, JavaScript treats functions as variables)

    How power efficient is Espruino?

    Very. Because it is event based, the Espruino interpreter can put itself to sleep when it knows no action is required.

    This means that code written for Espruino will be substantially more power efficient than the same code written in C, unless the C programmer has explicitly added code to enter low power sleep modes.

    Power Consumption depends on the board you're using, but for a device like Puck.js power consumption when idle can be as little as 3uA (0.000003 Amps).

    https://www.espruino.com/FAQ

    I hate Javascript but this seems like a pretty mature and well-thought-out project.

    11 votes
  17. Comment on Is there really a US truck driver shortage? in ~life

    burkaman
    Link Parent
    Sounds like they need a union.

    Sounds like they need a union.

    3 votes
  18. Comment on Portland, Oregon, is ground zero for violent culture-war clashes. And it’s spreading in ~misc

  19. Comment on ‘I’m sorry, but it’s too late’: Alabama doctor on treating unvaccinated, dying COVID patients in ~health.coronavirus

    burkaman
    Link Parent
    Why? The global population growth rate has been falling for 50 years and will almost definitely continue to fall until population peaks in the not too distant future. "Keep doing our best to stop...

    Either birth rates must fall dramatically, or death rates must increase dramatically.

    Why? The global population growth rate has been falling for 50 years and will almost definitely continue to fall until population peaks in the not too distant future. "Keep doing our best to stop people from dying" seems like a humane path forward.

    5 votes
  20. Comment on What really happened at the Oroville Dam Spillway? in ~science

    burkaman
    Link Parent
    We have the same thing in the US: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineer%27s_Ring I don't think most people take it very seriously, you need more than a one time ritual to maintain a strong culture.

    We have the same thing in the US: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineer%27s_Ring

    I don't think most people take it very seriously, you need more than a one time ritual to maintain a strong culture.

    2 votes