pallas's recent activity

  1. Comment on Halcium's PowerPod wind turbine has received funding in ~tech

    pallas
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    Every independent comment I've been able to find about this suggests it is either an intentional or unintentional scam, as well as my own intuition as a physicist (if in very different areas). The...

    Every independent comment I've been able to find about this suggests it is either an intentional or unintentional scam, as well as my own intuition as a physicist (if in very different areas).

    The company appears to be run by an MBA with no engineering or technical experience, but who appears to be actually trying to do all the work himself; the only engineer involved, as far as I can tell, is an advisor, and the website makes me skeptical as to the extent of their actual involvement, considering they note that their 'plan is to start with a comprehensive analysis done by our technical adviser'. Comments on reddit threads created by the head of the company, here or here, for example, are strongly critical and point to them having little understanding of fundamental aspects of the device or wind power in general, and suggest that the device as advertised would be fundamentally incapable of generating the amount of power claimed under reasonable conditions. There have apparently been graphs published, which I have not seen, that don't even have correct units.

    The claims made in the marketing video, while extremely nonspecific, seem entirely unsupportable. The 'accelerating air' argument is quite misleading: you fundamentally cannot extract more energy from the wind than is present in air flow through the cross-sectional area you're exploiting, regardless of design, and the angles involved here seem, at least at a glance, as though they would be very inefficient in redirecting the air flow. While suggesting that they will ship next year, their FAQ suggests that that they have just started working with actual engineers, after raising capital.

    Is there anything that suggests this is not simply either a scam, or someone with no expertise or knowledge in a field thinking they have discovered something groundbreaking when a basic analysis would demonstrate that they haven't? It's rather astonishing that they (and this is very much a singular they, as far as I can tell) have managed to raise that much.

    8 votes
  2. Comment on Aftermath of Constitution DAO/'Buy the Constitution' in ~tech

    pallas
    Link Parent
    I had thought one of the points of a DAO was that it was autonomous: not just that there is some voting process, but that the voting process actually controls the functioning of the organization...

    I had thought one of the points of a DAO was that it was autonomous: not just that there is some voting process, but that the voting process actually controls the functioning of the organization directly, eg, through causing transfers of funds, creating transactions or putting data on blockchains, and so on. This model does have some attempt to address questions of corporate governance, in that it tries to remove any need for a governing body at all, but is extremely limited in what it can actually do, and, when there are inevitably bugs in code, has its own disastrous results that point out the need for governance beyond code.

    Yet of course, this being part of the cryptocurrency community, ConstitutionDAO appears not to have been a DAO in any meaningful sense of the word, in that it was simply a large number of people giving money in an unrestricted way to a group forming an LLC, with a legally and functionally meaningless voting system attached to it, presumably to give (presumably non-binding) advice to the board of the LLC. This didn't, of course, keep them from advertising it as a DAO.

    5 votes
  3. Comment on How the world's first USB-C iPhone was born in ~comp

    pallas
    Link Parent
    While it's unfortunate that this is a video, rather than a written website, making it harder to see at a glance what it is, it seems to be quite different than what you are (rightly) decrying....

    While it's unfortunate that this is a video, rather than a written website, making it harder to see at a glance what it is, it seems to be quite different than what you are (rightly) decrying.

    Here, this is a person unrelated to Apple showing how they modified an iPhone by hand to have a USB-C port instead of Lightning, managing to fit the additional circuitry required entirely within the case, with quite impressively polished looking results. It is interesting as a custom electronics project: it isn't Apple deciding to do something entirely within their control (which would, as you point out, not be too exciting), and is probably something Apple would prefer to prevent.

    13 votes
  4. Comment on Architect resigns in protest over UCSB mega-dorm in ~design

    pallas
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    Link Parent
    Most of what I know about this is pre-covid hearsay, but UCSB has extreme housing problems. It's a large university, in two relatively small beachfront towns (not actually close to Santa Barbara)....

    Most of what I know about this is pre-covid hearsay, but UCSB has extreme housing problems. It's a large university, in two relatively small beachfront towns (not actually close to Santa Barbara). The towns are very anti-development, and anti-density, opposing building any new housing, especially for students, and mostly have single-family detached houses (and not very many of them). Thus, there simply is not nearly enough housing. But at least Isla Vista seems to have few regulations on living conditions in those houses, so many landlords take single-family houses and rent them in absurd ways: I was once shown a combined listing for two adjacent houses, which were both clearly built as not-particularly-large single family homes, listed at around 20,000 USD/month, with explanations and diagrams of how at least 20 students could be fit into them. I have heard that Covid has made students and others more reluctant to accept these conditions, which has made the problem even worse, to the point of students ending up in hotels, and in one case, a lecturer telling me one of their students had become homeless because, when they moved to UCSB, they found that the place they had rented wasn't actually available, and there was simply no other place to rent.

    I got the sense that the towns involved have no incentive to address the problem, because the non-university residents of the towns don't want it to be addressed, seeing the university as damaging what would otherwise be a rather quiet and rural/agricultural area, and largely having political and cultural differences with the student body and a hostility toward academia in general. I assume they hope that making living conditions as miserable as possible will push people away from the university and make it shrink; they really seem to want the university to go away entirely. Meanwhile, students are largely not involved in local politics, and so the pro-housing side is not heard or cared about; to the extent that they become politically involved, they usually blame the problems on the university, or focus wildly idealistic and infeasible ideas at higher levels of government that have no chance of working, rather than considering the impact the towns and lack of buildings has. Graduate students and even faculty have problems as well, unless they can get the limited university-owned housing (they have housing for both), because no one is going to pay as much for a single-family house as a large bunch of students crammed into it.

    To make matters worse, even for graduate students and faculty that are better able to commute, the towns, and Santa Barbara itself, have limited transportation, largely just one highway and one rail line (with extremely infrequent and unreliable trains) going along a single route, which somewhat frequently becomes impassable because of fires, mudslides, or other problems, making commuting from outside very difficult. Pre-covid, I had heard of people sleeping in their offices in order to be able to teach, or cancelling several classes, because their only viable commute home was cut off.

    8 votes
  5. Comment on Former US president Donald Trump launches 'TRUTH' social in ~tech

    pallas
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    Link Parent
    I have to wonder if both might have some truth to them, in a certain way. I would not be surprised if Trumpist "conservative voices" have aspects to them—spectacular misinformation, tangled chains...

    Everything is always the polar opposite with Trump. Conservative voices are the most amplified takes on social media

    I have to wonder if both might have some truth to them, in a certain way. I would not be surprised if Trumpist "conservative voices" have aspects to them—spectacular misinformation, tangled chains of alarming conspiracy theory posts to follow, interlinked references to other posts—that cause them to be heavily amplified by algorithms trying to optimize for user engagement, because those aspects act as addictive hooks that draw people into spending much more time on the sites. Then the companies involved, seeing the posts and the PR problems they cause, try to tweak their algorithms and policies to reduce the prominence or impact of the posts, because they see it as the algorithm making problematic decisions when faced with unusual parameters and inadvertently promoting horrible things beyond where any reasonable human content curator would put them.

    If that's the case, I think there might be the reasonable criticism that social media companies simply try to suppress the worst and most visible outcomes of their algorithms rather than admit that what they are optimizing for leads to these sorts of things.

    9 votes
  6. Comment on SEC report on Gamestop, AMC stock price jumps in January 2021 in ~finance

    pallas
    Link Parent
    Person A holds 1 share of stock X. Person B shorts the stock, by having A lend them the share, then selling it to person C. Person C now has 1 share of stock X, which is the same share that A...
    • Person A holds 1 share of stock X.
    • Person B shorts the stock, by having A lend them the share, then selling it to person C.
    • Person C now has 1 share of stock X, which is the same share that A held.
    • Person D shorts the stock, by having person C lend them the same share that A held, then selling it to person E.

    Despite only 1 share of stock X being involved, it appears, for calculation purposes, that 2 shares have been shorted.

    5 votes
  7. Comment on Facebook is nearing a reputational point of no return in ~tech

    pallas
    Link Parent
    While I think the tone of the article tends toward being overly supportive of Facebook's views in order to make an argument, the reason why the article didn't address that statement is because its...

    While I think the tone of the article tends toward being overly supportive of Facebook's views in order to make an argument, the reason why the article didn't address that statement is because its argument, I think, is that none of it matters. Maybe Facebook's statements on these matters are entirely reasonable and in the right, and maybe all the criticism is wrong, but whether that or the complete opposite is true, it doesn't matter: Facebook's reputation now is so bad that no one will trust it and everyone will oppose it simply because of that reputation and history.

    Zuckerberg being described as all-powerful is a reference to his power to control the company: he has special shares and voting rights that mean he individually has essentially complete control over the company, even if all other shareholders opposed him. The point about his statement being reasoned is that his reputation, and Facebook's, makes him making a reasonable statement pointless, because his credibility and reputation is so destroyed that no one is willing to give any consideration to his statements any longer. He is both all-powerful and a liability because, even though he has complete power to remake the company, and to address the many serious criticisms, no one would trust any of his efforts, even if they were completely genuine. The author suggests that the best thing Zuckerberg could do for Facebook now would be to leave, because only something that drastic---the departure of someone who practically is Facebook---would have any chance of changing the company's reputation.

    The comparison to Philip Morris is reasonable. If Philip Morris released extensive, rigourous clinical trial results strongly showing that they had a perfect cure for lung cancer, it would take an enormous, perhaps impossible, amount of effort to make anyone actually trust it. Everyone would sooner believe that all the data was fabricated, that all the patients and doctors were paid off, that all the regulatory agencies were in on some conspiracy, and given history and reputation, they'd be justified believing that.

    17 votes
  8. Comment on An unprecedented California program is already fulfilling its promise to house the most vulnerable in ~life

    pallas
    Link Parent
    It is very common for US news media, especially local and regional sites, and uncommon for everything else. As others note, there are a few common texts, probably the result of local media being...

    Is that error common for y'all in the EU to encounter when visiting US sites?

    It is very common for US news media, especially local and regional sites, and uncommon for everything else. As others note, there are a few common texts, probably the result of local media being owned by a few companies. They're often quite insulting and disingenuous, for example, saying "we are about our European customers" and "are actively looking for solutions", along with a copyright year on the page making it clear nothing has changed since the GDPR was implemented years ago.

    National and online-focused sites often either completely ignore and violate the GDPR (The Verge), or illegally have a hard paywall where one way of paying is to agree to be spied on (Washington Post).

    One gets the sense that much of the US news media is just a giant data collection business, and news is secondary, such that in most local and regional news, the blanket ban suggests even paying subscribers are not the real customers, and are having their data sold too.

    2 votes
  9. Comment on Open source alternatives to Slack, Google Drive and Google Docs in ~tech

    pallas
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    Most closed group channels on Matrix servers (Element is the client)(*) I've used have been on self-hosted servers: they're not very hard to set up, and are, I think, imagined as the default. The...

    However I have a question: is it possible to create a closed channel (meaning no unauthorized person has access to or can discover the company chat) on Element with only the free tier (it's easier to convince my boss to transition if it doesn't add to the cost structure)?

    Most closed group channels on Matrix servers (Element is the client)(*) I've used have been on self-hosted servers: they're not very hard to set up, and are, I think, imagined as the default. The federation system means that you don't have the problems with accounts that Slack, for example, has: with your self-hosted server, if you want to invite an outside person to a room, you can do so seamlessly.

    However, there should be no problem with having a room closed on matrix.org: the default is a private room that isn't discoverable or accessible by anyone who isn't invited. If end-to-end encryption is on (also the default now), it also isn't readable or accessible to the server itself: it's only readable to the clients of the people in the room. It's actually not entirely clear to me what the business model of Element is supposed to be, as their paid hosting appears to offer very little beyond matrix.org: they argue that they have 'better performance', but for even for a self-hosted group server near me on a large machine, I just use my matrix.org account to communicate with the group because it doesn't seem to be significantly slower.

    If anything, the problems people have with Matrix are often the opposite: the security and privacy is real and strict, so many of the ways of fixing things when users have problems aren't there. If users lose their security key and their client's data, for example, you can't do anything on the server side, for example, to recover message histories for them, even with a self-hosted server: if everyone in a room has that happen, then the data is actually gone.

    (*) Actually, looking at their paid plans, I suppose I should clarify: New Vector, the company behind matrix.org, specializes in developing chat systems and horribly confusing and complex naming schemes. They are apparently now calling their paid server plans "Element", though that's not the name of the server they use (Synapse) or the protocol itself (Matrix), but is the name of a web client, though that was formerly Riot. The horribly confusing and evolving naming scheme has been one of the largest barriers to my trying to get people to take Matrix seriously.

    8 votes
  10. Comment on Do you wear a non-smartwatch? If so, what do you have? in ~talk

    pallas
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    I'd like to be able to wear wristwatches, but I have very thin wrists, which have made them challenging for me. I feel as though my wrists, by virtue of being thin, move and change their outside...

    I'd like to be able to wear wristwatches, but I have very thin wrists, which have made them challenging for me. I feel as though my wrists, by virtue of being thin, move and change their outside shape, particularly with tendons, as I move my hands. When I wear a wristwatch, I find that I can either make the strap loose enough that it will rotate freely and not be easily visible, or such that it will slightly impede motion of my hand. Wearing one will become uncomfortable, for example, if I am typing or playing a keyboard instrument. If I wear on one my right wrist, it makes it difficult to write for extended periods. I'm also somewhat limited because many wristwatches, especially mechanical ones, are either awkwardly large for me, or have diameters that are outright larger than my wrists.

    I do have a few: I most commonly try to wear some very thin Citizen Eco-Drives, which are thin and small enough to look reasonable, but have the fit problem, and as my wrists are very rarely exposed to sunlight, the solar recharging is not as reliable as one might hope. I also have a 1940s Elgin with a small rectangular case, but the hairspring is detached, a 20th century wristwatch is too small for me to work on myself, and I don't know of anyone who would be able to repair it well, something made more difficult by the difficulty finding good information on people: I once sent an Elgin pocketwatch to a much-lauded Elgin specialist for service and repairs, for example, and months later, I received back a watch that has never run reliably since.

    As a result, when I wear watches, they are primarily pocketwatches, as these don't impede my wrists.

    4 votes
  11. Comment on Squaring primes: Why all prime numbers >3 squared are one off a multiple of 24 in ~science

    pallas
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    The title here, and the main claim of the video, are simply and obviously wrong. 2² and 3² are both counterexamples. That they appear to acknowledge this, mid-way through a 14 minute video, and...

    The title here, and the main claim of the video, are simply and obviously wrong. 2² and 3² are both counterexamples. That they appear to acknowledge this, mid-way through a 14 minute video, and offhandedly argue that 2 and 3 shouldn't be considered prime, does not make the claim correct (I read transcripts of these sorts of videos that don't appear to have any reason to be videos).

    Wikipedia, on the page about 24, gives the correct claim:

    any prime n greater than 3, has the property that n² – 1 is divisible by 24.

    If this seem pedantic, consider whether it would be honest to have a title "Why every UK prime minister has been a man," in order to entice more people to watch a video and generate more sponsorship revenue.

    6 votes
  12. Comment on A completely upgradeable laptop in ~tech

    pallas
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    Link Parent
    Apparently the ports are actually implemented as Thunderbolt 4, and will function in the same way, but are not certified yet, and so can't be officially called Thunderbolt 4 until they are. See...

    Apparently the ports are actually implemented as Thunderbolt 4, and will function in the same way, but are not certified yet, and so can't be officially called Thunderbolt 4 until they are. See this comment from them, for example. This thread references tb3 egpus working.

    The company have been pretty surprisingly open about details in their forums.

    4 votes
  13. Comment on Hashing Phone Numbers For 2-Factor Authentication in ~comp

    pallas
    Link Parent
    I would suspect that there are simply few enough valid phone numbers that no possible hash algorithm could be both slow enough to resist brute forcing and fast enough to be useable at a reasonable...

    I would suspect that there are simply few enough valid phone numbers that no possible hash algorithm could be both slow enough to resist brute forcing and fast enough to be useable at a reasonable scale.

    2 votes
  14. Comment on Learning math / mathematical reasoning as an adult in ~talk

    pallas
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    To add to the comments here about the difference between arithmetic and mathematics, from a slightly different perspective: I'm a physicist, also have some publications in theoretical computer...

    To add to the comments here about the difference between arithmetic and mathematics, from a slightly different perspective: I'm a physicist, also have some publications in theoretical computer science, and would reasonably consider myself to be good at maths, yet my ability to do simple arithmetic is rather poor. When thinking about numbers abstractly, or the relations between them, I'm fine; I can also think about simple arithmetic, and reason through it slowly and methodically. But doing arithmetic at a speed that people would consider even remotely reasonable requires completely different skills and knowledge, primarily memorization of many special cases, that just seem pointless and boring compared to the wonders elsewhere.

    The difficulty with arithmetic is actually very common amongst people with experience in higher mathematics. There was a common joke when I was a graduate student that the best option for figuring a restaurant bill at a table of researchers was to give it to the person in the least mathematical discipline, and certainly never to mathematicians. More concretely, on a project a few years ago, my two collaborators and I, all in physics or theoretical (not engineering) CS, realized that, the day before, all three of us had simultaneously come up with and agreed on the wrong answer to a basic, two-digit subtraction problem where both numbers were divisible by 5.

    It's also important to distinguish between speed and ability. I am not quick with mathematics and reasoning, and never have been. Of the problems they could solve, a secondary student could likely solve them much faster. The difference is that I can slowly solve those problems, and also slowly solve problems they couldn't. This is not uncommon. As a student, when I moved from classes that cared about solving many easy and almost-identical problems at a time quickly, where grading judged us, even if unintentionally, on how quickly we could work, to classes that cared about solving a few hard problems at a time without regard to speed, where grading judged us on whether or not we could solve the problem at all, it completely changed my enjoyment of the field.

    Sadly, many classes in primary and secondary schools are very much focused around presenting mathematics as a field built around repeatedly solving many identical problems at speed, which is enormously boring, and not particularly useful at anything but misrepresenting the field. The result is that many people who excel in those classes are seen as being talented in maths, choose to pursue it as a consequence, and then hit a point where they start struggling to understand, while people who would be talented in understanding difficult concepts are driven away from the field by being seen as slow, and finding the classes difficult and boring. (The difficulty of how scholarly fields are presented in school, as opposed to what being in them is actually like, is a significant problem generally, unfortunately, and not something that is easy to solve.)

    6 votes
  15. Comment on Why Dutch bikes are better (and why you should want one) in ~enviro

    pallas
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    Link Parent
    I have to strongly agree, unfortunately: infrastructure and hostility are much larger barriers to utilitarian cycling in the US, and the hostility---really, hostility to anything other than cars,...

    I have to strongly agree, unfortunately: infrastructure and hostility are much larger barriers to utilitarian cycling in the US, and the hostility­---really, hostility to anything other than cars, thus also including pedestrians---is an enormous barrier to the infrastructure.

    What you describe on Nextdoor is, sadly, not confined there. It remains astonishing to me that, in my experiences with city meetings at a supposedly progressive mid-sized city in California, the most vicious, aggressive matter that would come up was opposition to bicycling. Plans to put in bike lanes would result in large, angry protests. People would vote against candidates supporting actual increased bicycle infrastructure on a single-issue basis. Anyone naive enough to bring up even the smallest request about bicycles at city meetings would be met with organized, overwhelming public opposition and vicious, entirely unwarranted personal attacks: I once saw a father decried, at a small committee meeting, as wanting to harm seniors, disrespecting the community, possibly secretly being part of some bike lobby and probably not part of the community (could he really be a genuine local while looking Asian?), and potentially having inappropriate relationships with children (where was his children's mother? Why did he ride bikes with them?) for requesting a single bike rack at a public park. No one gave comments to support him; there were more people there on this matter (all in opposition, save for the father) than all the NGO representatives and lawyers there for the multi-decade, multi-million-dollar topic that was the only other item on the agenda (as one of the representatives, my commenting in support of his request, for various reasons, would have been inappropriate and likely counterproductive). City projects around cycling (and sometimes pedestrian) infrastructure thus focused on largely useless or worse-than-useless projects that would have no impact or perceived impact on cars, while continually delaying actual projects such that voters could be confident they would never be started. I can somewhat understand the reluctance on the part of politicians there to put in real bicycle infrastructure: it would have been political suicide, and was clearly opposed by a majority of the politically-involved public. BLM activists at public hearings were less emotional and angry while discussing people being abused and murdered by the police than concerned citizens (usually affluent elderly white women) discussing the trauma of having bicyclists roving the streets.

    I have a Dutch-style bicycle in California, and do try to commute on it when I'm there, but the level of hostility, from both drivers and pedestrians, is enormous. Being on a bicycle while not being able to maintain 25 or 35 mph makes drivers even more hostile, so the experience is enormously stressful, and a heavy bike is not comfortable. Bicycle infrastructure, meanwhile, often makes bicycling more dangerous, with "sharrows" that are meaningless, "bike routes" that consist only of signs saying "bike route / share the road" on busy roads, and unprotected bike lanes on parts of the asphalt that are far rougher (with frequent potholes and metal covers) than main traffic lanes, and frequently blocked illegally by cars. Unless you're an "asshole", the experience is terrifying.

    For some reason, in one city I ride in, bicycling on the sidewalk is also explicitly legal. Yet, while doing so, I have had pedestrians scream at me to get off the sidewalk and threaten to call the police. I have had some run after me to try to pull me off my bike, and who have tried to start physical altercations, even when I haven't even passed by them; and if there are any pedestrians on a sidewalk where I'm riding, I'll be going slowly enough that they could catch up with me.

    At some level, unfortunately, I feel as though there's a strong perception throughout many parts of the US (other than parts of the East Coast) that walking, cycling, or taking public transport as a means of actual regular transport and commuting, rather than exercise or novelty (or being a horrible spandex-wearing, traffic-law-ignoring bicycle fanatic), is something you would only do because you're too poor to have a car, not something you would choose, given the ability to have a car.

    Everything seems to be designed around this basic assumption. Bicycling, walking, and taking public transport need to be possible, for the dregs of society to lift themselves up by their bootstraps enough to be able to afford a car, but don't need to be pleasant, safe, or reliable.

    6 votes
  16. Comment on Queer readings of The Lord of the Rings are not accidents in ~lgbt

    pallas
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    That's unfortunate, because that topic-the complexities in interpreting same-sex cohabiting relationships of literary and scholarly women in the late 19th and early 20th century US-is something...

    The rant wasn't a sort of careful and nuanced "we should be careful about assigning identities to others, especially modern identities to a historical context" -- it was more of a "lesbians don't exist; radical gays are forcing their agenda everywhere" sort of thing.

    That's unfortunate, because that topic­-the complexities in interpreting same-sex cohabiting relationships of literary and scholarly women in the late 19th and early 20th century­ US-is something that I learnt about from its impact on some of my partner's research (that is to say, it isn't something I have a very rigorous understanding of) and actually seems like a good illustration of the challenges and nuances involved in thinking about relationships in other eras. Because of the societal acceptability of "Boston marriage" arrangements, the advantages that they had for women academics over living as a single woman, and the unacceptability of being a married woman and having academic career, a startling percentage of academic women in that era lived in long-term relationships with other women: in some cases the vast majority of entire college faculties. These relationships seem to have ranged from extremes of couples who were clearly entirely straight in a modern perception, consciously had the arrangement as an entirely practical matter, and each had covert romantic relationships with men (likely themselves made safer and more equal by the overt relationship), to women who clearly identified privately as being lesbians and in romantic relationships with each other, and everything in between. In some cases, the couples seem to have had significant differences, even in private writing and correspondence, in the way they viewed their own relationships. In most cases, we probably can't know the private nature of the relationships. It's an interesting instance of the intersection of different societal prejudices combining to result in a diversity of complex situations.

    6 votes
  17. Comment on Not trying to make waves but why are articles posted to news that relate to lgbt moved? in ~tildes

    pallas
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    Link Parent
    But in reality, isn't it more accurate to describe it as a group for politics, with a US focus? Looking at it now: 13 of the top 20 posts have a politics tag. An additional 3 or 4 of the top 20...

    It'll still be a repository of current events/news that doesn't fit into an individual group.

    But in reality, isn't it more accurate to describe it as a group for politics, with a US focus? Looking at it now:

    • 13 of the top 20 posts have a politics tag.
    • An additional 3 or 4 of the top 20 don't have politics tags, but are essentially US or Hong Kong political topics, putting this at 16 or 17 of the top 20.
    • The group wiki pages are entirely about US politics.
    • Everything in the sidebar is about US politics.
    • The group has a weekly discussion thread about US politics; this is its only regularly scheduled topic.

    It's not as bad as ~misc, perhaps, where 17 of the top 20 topics are clearly politics, with 14 of those US-related or US-focused. But it still seems like it's essentially a politics group.

    2 votes
  18. Comment on Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period in ~tech

    pallas
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    This article appears to come out of significant misunderstandings about the differences between different forms of typed and typeset text, combined with the author's surfeit of obnoxiousness and...

    This article appears to come out of significant misunderstandings about the differences between different forms of typed and typeset text, combined with the author's surfeit of obnoxiousness and self-assuredness to create a ridiculous result. Apparently, as the correction notes, they originally even found a way to incorporate a petty insult toward Julian Assange in their rant, for some reason.

    As I've written elsewhere at length recently, using one or two spaces in most places doesn't matter aesthetically when using even halfway decent typesetting, because the displayed result will be the same, and that result, for English typesetting, will have more somewhat more space between sentences than words. The choice also largely didn't matter in 2011, when this was written. The author seems to completely miss that, in most typesetting, spaces are not a fixed size at all: the size of spaces will change depending on characters, position, justification, and so on.

    The Complete Manual of Typography that the author refers to appears not to be a guide to typesetting, but to typography in word processors, and actually has a somewhat more reasonable discussion of the topic, including both a complaint that word processors use multiple space characters for alignment and physical spacing and don't collapse multiple space characters like better typesetting systems, and a point that using two spaces in monospace text makes sense. They then go on to give a reasonable recommendation (single spacing in word processors) given the broken behaviour of Word. Yet the point here appears somewhat lost on the author of the article: using a single space character in those circumstances still creates more space between sentences than words. It is not ‘an ordinary space.’

    Of course, part of the frustration here is that, whether or not this has changed over time, it has definitely been my experience that the people who are angry about two spaces and insist that using them is horrible far outnumber and outmatch in vehemence the people who argue for two spaces universally, whom I've never met at all.

    But the true and inexcusable travesty, to me, is that the author, publishing as a ‘technology’ journalist, appears to be so self-assured, mean-spirited, and ignorant, that they would, in their correction about their original insulting of Assange, attempt to create a new insult—that Assange ‘used a monospace font’ in emails—apparently not understanding that Assange would almost certainly have been writing plain text emails, and thus would not have chosen the typeface for the emails at all, though, despite the author's insistence that no one uses monospace fonts, monospace was and is the standard.

    14 votes
  19. Comment on I was taught from a young age to protect my dynastic wealth in ~finance

    pallas
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    There are a number of reasons for this practice, not necessarily involving capital gains taxes or inheritance. The loans are very low risk for banks. This isn't so much a matter of the stocks...

    There are a number of reasons for this practice, not necessarily involving capital gains taxes or inheritance.

    The loans are very low risk for banks. This isn't so much a matter of the stocks being likely to rise, but the way the debt is usually arranged. The loans are usually tied directly to investment assets used as collateral, and those investment assets usually have market values significantly above the loan value. They are usually written so that the bank can immediately call in the full loan value if the assets fall to what they see an unsafe value that is still above the loan amount (or for simply any reason at all), so it would take a large crash for the bank to lose money. In many cases, the loans are from the same bankers that manage the investments, and are arranged such that they can simply take the investments if they need to, without the client's consent (I know of less scrupulous bankers who have terrorized their clients with vague threats about this). For investment managers that are charging a percent-of-value management fee, the loans are also a more attractive alternative to their clients spending their investment assets and reducing that fee. All of this means that the interest rates are very low, and the loans are easy to get.

    For the borrower, they conveniently split spending money and covering the expenditures. Some of their investment assets might not be easily liquid. Some might not be great to sell at the particular moment. Choosing what to sell and selling it quickly might simply be complex and expensive, and beyond the actual taxes involved, may simply be more complex because of tax or regulatory considerations (Which combination of assets do you sell to minimize taxes? How much do you need to sell, considering taxes, to cover the expense? Can you actually sell these assets without disclosures and timing restrictions?). With loans, you don't have to worry about any of this. In some cases, the loans may be lines of credit that you can simply spend like cash in a bank account.

    You usually do end up paying taxes: if you sell assets to pay the loans, you'll pay capital gains, and if you pay them with dividends or interest, you'll pay taxes on them. They can, however, even out your taxes, or defer them.

    3 votes
  20. Comment on I was taught from a young age to protect my dynastic wealth in ~finance

    pallas
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    In these circumstances, a trust is essentially always going to be involved: there is no probate, and depending on the trust, the debt can remain long after the person has died (for one of my...

    Debts are not inherited. The estate does need to pay off any debts during probate. (If the estate has no assets, lenders are out of luck.)

    In these circumstances, a trust is essentially always going to be involved: there is no probate, and depending on the trust, the debt can remain long after the person has died (for one of my relatives, I think it was around for almost a decade). Beyond this, these sorts of debts are usually directly collateralized by investment assets (the reason why the interest is so low), so the lenders are not at much risk of not being repaid eventually.

    I'm not sure, but I assume that for trusts, you'd end up having the stepped-up basis reflected as well.

    2 votes