pallas's recent activity

  1. Comment on Rapper BG ordered to have all future songs approved by US government in ~music

    pallas
    (edited )
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    This is not weird, except inasmuch as the history of the NRA is weird. The NRA before 1977 was a different organization with different leadership, was focused on marksmanship, recreation, and...

    Edit to add that this bill was supported by the NRA, weird.

    This is not weird, except inasmuch as the history of the NRA is weird. The NRA before 1977 was a different organization with different leadership, was focused on marksmanship, recreation, and hunting, and had consistently supported gun control measures. They supported major federal gun control acts in 1934, 1938, and 1968, and were largely nonpartisan. In 1934, its president testified to Congress:

    I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. I have when I felt it was desirable to do so for my own protection. I know that applies in most of the instances where guns are used effectively in self-defense or in places of business and in the home. I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.

    Then in the 1977 Revolt at Cincinnati, political gun activists voted out the old leadership, and reshaped the organization to focus on 'promiscuous toting of guns' and political campaigning, making it into the organization it is today.

    I'm sure there was racism involved, but it would not be right to say the NRA supporting a gun control measure in the 60s was unusual. It simply wasn't the same organization.

    5 votes
  2. Comment on Internet Archive forced to remove 500,000 books after publishers’ court win in ~tech

    pallas
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    Of those, I'd note that Sci-Hub is somewhat different. The rest are indisputably both violating copyright and generally seen as piracy. Scholarly papers, however, exist in an complex, shifting...

    Of those, I'd note that Sci-Hub is somewhat different. The rest are indisputably both violating copyright and generally seen as piracy. Scholarly papers, however, exist in an complex, shifting environment very different from other publications, where many of the most open and frequent copyright violations are by the authors of the copied works, authors see no negative impacts to copyright infringement, payments primarily go from authors to publishers, publishers primarily profit in distribution from large-scale contracts to libraries and individual sales don't really matter, publishers are limited in their ability to pursue many copyright violators if they wish to remain viable (because they are also usually frequent authors), and the general direction of the industry seems to be going more toward profiting from authors (and their institutions and funders) and providing free access for readers.

    While technically not legal in most places, I'd have little anxiety about using Sci-Hub, or recommending it, for downloading individual papers.

    6 votes
  3. Comment on Why not ban left turns on busy streets? in ~transport

    pallas
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    While your suggestions will work for roads that are laid out reasonably well for driving, there are many places where they don't hold, unfortunately. There may not be a next intersection for some...

    While your suggestions will work for roads that are laid out reasonably well for driving, there are many places where they don't hold, unfortunately. There may not be a next intersection for some time, or anywhere to turn at all. It may be that the next intersections will not allow a series of turns that will make returning and turning onto the original path viable, either legally (eg, a series of no u-turns, far turns onto streets not allowing turn-arounds, or near turns onto streets that don't allow far turns back onto the original street), or physically (passing a barrier to streets like a valley, canal, or motorway, a street that becomes physically divided with no turns across it, streets that simply don't have other connections, streets that become something else, etc). In complex street layouts, it may be very difficult to find your way back onto a viable route, to the point that it might require referring to a map. In some cases you will not arrive at anywhere near the same time if you don't take the correct turn, even if that turn is one that is difficult and poorly designed, or it may be the case that you must take a poorly designed turn at some point, and your only option is which one.

    While the bad left turn followed by miles of no U-turn signs is something I've primarily seen in the US, the more general case of a bad intersection, often involving a difficult turn, followed by no alternative is more general, and something that seems fairly common in major European city centres, especially in older areas with complex streets not originally designed for cars.

    10 votes
  4. Comment on Science fiction or fantasy recommendations for children in ~books

    pallas
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    If I might suggest: if she's interested in trying to read Red Mars, why not let her try reading it? Yes, it's complex and political, and yes, there are aspects and nuances that she might have...

    If I might suggest: if she's interested in trying to read Red Mars, why not let her try reading it? Yes, it's complex and political, and yes, there are aspects and nuances that she might have trouble understanding. But a reader can enjoy, and find meaning, in a book, without understanding all aspects of it. Looking back at my reading that age, I know there is much that I missed in the books I read. But I can say the same for books I read in my early twenties. I will likely say the same of books I'm reading now. Appreciating works in new ways when coming back to them, finding new meaning as one matures, is a benefit, not risk, of reading. Ambition in reading has little risk; the worst that would happen is that she would lose interest, and move to reading some other book, while she could alternatively thoroughly enjoy reading it even without understanding everything, and be inspired at the potential of the nuance and complexity. There are books that might simply not be enjoyable without understanding some portions of them, but I think that situation is less common than many adults might expect, and I think holding or losing interest in a book means that a child will simply move away from those.

    As a child of that age, I specifically disliked the idea of withholding books based on age, or encouraging books seen as suited to a particular age; the entire concept of YA as an explicit genre seemed largely patronizing, and still seems that way to me. I had the advantage of enormous access; I practically grew up on university campuses, and some of my earliest memories are of carrels in the vast stacks of university libraries. My partner, growing up in a far more restrictive environment, and with different interests, had the same feelings, in her case, fighting against a school library that outright labelled and restricted borrowing of every book by their view of the age best suited for reading it, with color-coded stickers on the spines.

    On my part, for science fiction, I largely started reading older classics. The first novel I read as a child (I was likely seven or so?) was War of the Worlds, which I enjoyed, and which encouraged my interest in classic science fiction, even though I know there were vast aspects I didn't understand at all, especially the implied commentaries on imperialism. I read Wells, Verne, Clarke, Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein (not that I'd necessarily recommend him) and so on; thinking back, I would have probably enjoyed Lem's short stories, especially The Cyberiad, which is a combination of science fiction and fantasy, and is conceptual while being light-hearted, some sort of meaningful easy reading; I would have also enjoyed some Vernor Vinge. While not science fiction, as an example of not enjoying something from not understanding it well, I tried reading The Name of the Rose at some point and largely lost interest, but that did not keep me from being very fond of Eco's works now. I expect something similar would have happened had I tried to read Borges.

    For various reasons, in part in reading the accepted classical canon at the time, my science fiction reading was also decidedly not diverse in authors; I read A Wrinkle in Time, it being recommended to me, but largely found it less interesting and didn't continue with it; I do enjoy Octavia Butler's short stories as an adult. Classics also have an advantage of time acting as a filter, if an imperfect one, for quality.

    I know that there were many things I missed in reading those; there's actually a certain enjoyment in rereading the works I read at the time, seeing the things I didn't see then, and the things I did in a different light.

    In some sense, to a child, I think I'd particularly recommend suggesting short stories, and perhaps anthologies, as being a good way of gathering a sense of different authors' styles and themes, trying them out quickly, and finding authors whose works they might want to seek out. Then, from there, they can read both the short stories and novels of the authors they enjoy.

    7 votes
  5. Comment on Sony Pictures acquires Alamo Drafthouse cinema in landmark deal that puts studios back in theater game in ~movies

    pallas
    (edited )
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    The removal of the Paramount Decree restrictions, and the sense of weakening strength and reputation of US regulation generally, however, give studios exciting opportunities in the business that...

    With covid and movie theaters generally scraping by, it's surprising for a studio to step into this game.

    The removal of the Paramount Decree restrictions, and the sense of weakening strength and reputation of US regulation generally, however, give studios exciting opportunities in the business that independent theatres don't have. There's a chance to return, with the added advantages technology, data mining, and targeted advertising brings, to the very profitable studio system, and much more effectively exploit consumers.

    With both streaming and theatre ownership, a studio could ensure that they control all distribution methods for their films, and directly receive all revenue. The question of how quickly to switch to streaming would no longer be a question of cutting out independent intermediaries. Exclusive theatrical runs, cutting out independent theatres, could offer considerable control. With popular franchises, studios could offer 'experiences' of offerings at a high, studio-set price point to maximally engage devoted fan bases, presenting new productions either earlier before streaming, or 'enhanced' performances only ever shown at the studio's theatres. Merchandising could also be integrated into the theatre space more effectively, perhaps also, especially for children's films, incorporating Disney's innovations in displays of others' experience of 'privileged' consumption to induce feelings of envy and unlovedness in children and guilt in parents. And utilizing viewing and demographic data from their streaming platform, and enhanced data collection in theatres, a studio could precisely target both what they screened at any particular theatre (and how and when they screened it), and how they advertised. Modern multiplex theatres could be particularly suited to precise targeting.

    Sony is perhaps not in the best position for these sorts of strategies; a studio like Disney could do very well, but is probably still concerned about being a target for regulation. But you can see the ideas forming, with the "Sony Pictures Experiences" name, and the mention of the theatre's "differentiated moviegoing experience" and how "our Crunchyroll business aligns well with their audience's interests" before feeling the need to add on that they "will, of course, continue to welcome content from all studios and distributors".

    9 votes
  6. Comment on Straight romances in tv and movies in ~lgbt

    pallas
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    It's worth noting this is something that has probably improved over time: the completely incongruous romance subplot was a staple of films in the early to mid 20th century, and they were often...

    A lot of the time it's very obviously an attempt to try to appeal to more demographics, and Hollywood sees romance as the go-to shortcut for women.

    It's worth noting this is something that has probably improved over time: the completely incongruous romance subplot was a staple of films in the early to mid 20th century, and they were often absurdly bad and pointless. Particularly for adaptations of novels and short stories, there would frequently be cases of a single added female character who obviously was there for the sole purpose of a contrived romance subplot with the protagonist that in no way fit the original story, but was required based on the cultural view of studios at the time that women would simply be unable to appreciate a film that didn't have romance, however contrived.

    5 votes
  7. Comment on Sid Meyer's Alpha Centauri lovers, tell me what sets it apart in ~games

    pallas
    Link Parent
    I thought this when I was playing single-player, but then played multiplayer against some significantly better players who did massive amounts of terraforming, often with extensive convoying. They...

    Technically you can terraform entire areas of the map and what not, but the actual need to do that is mostly non existent.

    I thought this when I was playing single-player, but then played multiplayer against some significantly better players who did massive amounts of terraforming, often with extensive convoying. They outpaced me in all metrics to an embarrassing extent.

    1 vote
  8. Comment on Sid Meyer's Alpha Centauri lovers, tell me what sets it apart in ~games

    pallas
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    I feel like this was significant enough to really be a different type of 4x game than many at the time, especially for players coming from Civ. The factions were different enough that they needed...

    They didn't feel like cookie cutter leaders with a few tweaked bonuses, they really had powerful strengths and devastating weaknesses.

    I feel like this was significant enough to really be a different type of 4x game than many at the time, especially for players coming from Civ. The factions were different enough that they needed different strategies, and players often specialized. I was initially a Zakharov player who moved to a heavy-terraforming Morgan. I had a friend who was a 'destroy the environment and ride out the catastrophe' Deirdre player, and another who was an aggressive-conquest Miriam and Santiago player.

    1 vote
  9. Comment on I am sick of "providing feedback" in ~life

    pallas
    Link Parent
    I could perhaps understand the 'would you recommend' question as being less ambiguous and more stable across people, for example, in a case where someone wasn't satisfied, but felt the service was...

    I could perhaps understand the 'would you recommend' question as being less ambiguous and more stable across people, for example, in a case where someone wasn't satisfied, but felt the service was better than any alternative.

    But then it ends up using a ridiculous calculation, where answering that you'd be more likely than not to recommend something, eg, 6/10, ends up being counted as being just as bad as saying you would never think of recommending it.

    1 vote
  10. Comment on Celebrities like Elon Musk and Taylor Swift might soon be able to hide their private jet flights from online sleuths in ~transport

    pallas
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    It depends on the airline and airport. My understanding is that some airports have services that are open to anyone, but expensive, while others are restrictive but cheaper. Heathrow VIP services...

    It depends on the airline and airport. My understanding is that some airports have services that are open to anyone, but expensive, while others are restrictive but cheaper. Heathrow VIP services is open to anyone, at around £3k (for 1-3 people). Private Suite has similar services at LAX and ATL at similar prices, but additionally has cheaper shared services and an arrivals service that seems to be simply a car that picks you up at the plane and drives directly away from the airport.

    I expect that, despite many of these services advertising luxury and convenience, the actual benefit most people are paying for is that you never are in a public space at all, except on the plane: there's a private security screening, private lounge, and car that usually goes to stairs attached to a jet bridge. In some circumstances, that might be something worth paying so much; I'm reminded of videos of Scientology critics in airport terminals back when the cult was much more powerful and combative.

    Edit: actually, a number of airports seem to more openly list these services now, and quite a few are cheaper, in the €400-€600 range. The privacy aspects vary, however.

    2 votes
  11. Comment on What a wine opener tells us about a wine drinker in ~food

    pallas
    Link Parent
    I've never used a Durand, but have always been a bit confused by them. In my experience with very crumbly corks, usually on old vintage ports, they'll crumble from the action of screwing in the...

    I've never used a Durand, but have always been a bit confused by them. In my experience with very crumbly corks, usually on old vintage ports, they'll crumble from the action of screwing in the corkscrew, not just pulling on the cork, and so seem just as likely to crumble with the Durand's corkscrew half as anything else. The failure mode of a twin-prong puller with a fragile cork, on the other hand, is usually pushing the cork down, so while the Durand might make this less likely by inserting the prongs when the corkscrew is holding the cork, if the cork is crumbly already from the corkscrew, it just seems like it risks putting it under further stress.

    I haven't seen bottle pump openers before, and those do seem rather fascinating, though I'd worry a bit about safety? In order to actually draw out the cork by pressurizing the bottle would require significantly more pressure than, say, a Coravin, and there are already concerns about safety there, when dealing with very old bottles.

    4 votes
  12. Comment on Wisconsin pension fund now includes bitcoin in ~finance

    pallas
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    This article is somewhat problematic in the way it portrays this investment, presenting a number that seems large ($160m) in the subtitle and first paragraphs, and only briefly, later, noting that...

    This article is somewhat problematic in the way it portrays this investment, presenting a number that seems large ($160m) in the subtitle and first paragraphs, and only briefly, later, noting that the fund manages $155b in assets.

    Investing in Bitcoin at that scale is not problematic from a prudent investment management perspective, even if the fund managers think it very likely that Bitcoin is completely ridiculous. It's a risky, speculative investment, but it is very small: around 0.1% of the fund's assets. Even if the fund managers think Bitcoin is almost certainly doomed, it's still reasonable for the unlikely case that they're wrong. They may also intend it as a hedge against extremely unlikely events where it might increase significantly, for example, a US debt default. They could lose this entire investment, and it would be likely be significantly less than the amount the fund gains or loses in a day. It's likely significantly less than other hedge positions they have. The risk on this investment doesn't really matter.

    By comparison, if you had $10,000 to invest, this would be like investing $10 in Bitcoin. But it goes beyond that, because the fund can't simply invest in the same ways an individual might. People are mentioning SPY: this fund has assets amounting to 30% of SPY's total assets under management.

    I'd completely agree that there are problematic ESG aspects of a bitcoin investment of any size. But that's not connected to the question of risk and speculation here, and on that, this investment is completely reasonable.

    10 votes
  13. Comment on Just bought Philips SHP9500 headphones and am underwhelmed in ~music

    pallas
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    I have in the past occasionally had problems with smartphone dac+amps for headphone output just being bad, eg, having very noticeable noise on my ER4SR IEMs. If your phone is USB Type C, I might...

    Maybe my smartphone dac isn't loud/powerful enough, but some songs I need to up the volume more.

    I have in the past occasionally had problems with smartphone dac+amps for headphone output just being bad, eg, having very noticeable noise on my ER4SR IEMs. If your phone is USB Type C, I might suggest that both the Google and Apple USB-C audio adapters have quite reasonable and quite cheap dac+amps (note that Apple's does not do input, if that matters to you); I ended up using one of these even before I switched to a phone with no audio output, just because I knew it would be consistent.

    2 votes
  14. Comment on How did people correct for inaccurate time pieces in the past? in ~humanities.history

    pallas
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    Until the mid to late 19th century, time was essentially considered locally for everyday purposes. Through solar observations, eg, sundials, the local apparent time can be determined, and then,...

    Until the mid to late 19th century, time was essentially considered locally for everyday purposes. Through solar observations, eg, sundials, the local apparent time can be determined, and then, from an equation of time, the local mean time can be determined. For precision, this could be defined as being at a local meridian in the town. Major clocks could be set to this, and then people could set their clocks to those. At major meridians with precise times, maintaining the local mean time might be the responsibility of an observatory, eg, Greenwich.

    This was, however, not suitable for railways, which needed to synchronize movements and timetables over longer distances: in the UK, I think a km west/east corresponds with a local mean time of around 4 seconds. Thus, they developed their own synchronized time, and of course, had the means to do that, though it was still, ultimately, synchronized to one local mean time over a large area. In the UK, that was Greenwich.

    In the UK, this actually ended up creating problems in that the time railroads, and train stations, used was not the same as the time used locally. The importance of trains meant their time started to be used more, but in 1858, a dispute over whether someone had arrived to court at the right time led to the decision that local mean time, not GMT, was the time for local purposes, which led to more confusion until Great Britain, in 1880, switched to using GMT as the legal time, something everyone was already doing practically, with offsets when necessary for legal purposes (someone pointed out that where they were, this meant that polls opened and closed at 13 past the hour, because they needed to open and close on the legal hour). By that point, too, ample technology was available to synchronize major clocks. The time was still a mean time from observation, though: if you go to major historical timekeeping observatories, they often have displays of equipment for synchronizing distant clocks.

    Now time is not a specific local mean time, but is more complex; I actually know someone who outspokenly points out that GMT is not the right term to refer to UTC, because UTC is not a mean time.

    As to how ordinary people set their clocks: there were numerous time signals in various places. In addition to things like town clocks and bells, for more distant synchronization, there were things like time balls, and time guns. Some of these still operate for ceremonial reasons.

    9 votes
  15. Comment on Switzerland's Nemo wins Eurovision as UK comes 18th in ~music

    pallas
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    That's almost certainly the case, to an extreme, as there are 25 entries. It appears that in most cases, proper numbers are not available, but that in some countries there may be a legal...

    That's almost certainly the case, to an extreme, as there are 25 entries.

    It appears that in most cases, proper numbers are not available, but that in some countries there may be a legal requirement to release less processed results. There's the suggestion that Italy may be one of those, and in a quick search I did find 2022 percentages. While the political pro-Ukraine vote was substantial, it was still only 30%, in a year when Ukraine had over 400 points in the public vote. The rest were all below 15%, so, for example, Moldova got 10 points with 13% of the vote.

    4 votes
  16. Comment on Switzerland's Nemo wins Eurovision as UK comes 18th in ~music

    pallas
    Link Parent
    In particular, the public vote in each country gives no points to the bottom 60% of songs, in other words, the majority of them. A song that consistently gets around the median vote share in each...

    In particular, the public vote in each country gives no points to the bottom 60% of songs, in other words, the majority of them. A song that consistently gets around the median vote share in each country won't get any votes at all.

    As such, if the object is to avoid getting 0 points in the public vote, the worst performance to have is one that is broadly seen as okay but middling, especially when people can vote many times depending on how motivated they are. Having a more divisive performance is actually better.

    3 votes
  17. Comment on Switzerland's Nemo wins Eurovision as UK comes 18th in ~music

    pallas
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    There was an article in the Irish press which explained how this made sense, despite seeming unusual; it was particularly unusual in Ireland, which is heavily pro-Palestine in public sentiment,...
    • Exemplary

    Also Israel apparently got 300 points, which sounds shonky as hell.

    There was an article in the Irish press which explained how this made sense, despite seeming unusual; it was particularly unusual in Ireland, which is heavily pro-Palestine in public sentiment, yet gave Israel ten points. In summary:

    • Points are awarded based on the ordering of vote numbers, not on voting share, and there were 25 entries that could receive votes: a song could get 12 points with the support of as little as 4% of the votes.
    • A relatively small percentage of people vote, even amongst people watching - they have a statistic that it might be around 6% of viewers.
    • A person could submit up to 20 votes for a country if they were sufficiently motivated and willing to pay for them, and even if they were to vote multiple times, many people who are not so highly motivated to support one country will often divide votes amongst their multiple favourites.

    As such, receiving a high public vote score could easily happen with even a very small number of highly motivated voters.

    In an extreme case, considering 6% of viewers voting, votes being spread almost evenly, and voters for all but one country voting once each, while voters for that country vote 20 times, a song could get 12 points in the public vote from a country with the heavy support of only a bit more than 0.012% of the viewers there.

    So, it's not surprising that entries being supported by motivated political groups, even if they are small, do very well on public vote points.

    12 votes
  18. Comment on Case before Norway's Supreme Court claims that depriving sex offender of a Snapchat account is unlawful under the European Convention on Human Rights in ~tech

    pallas
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    I'd somewhat agree, but in my experience, particularly with Twitter, agencies do officially use multiple means of communication, but in practice, put more updates, more frequently and reliably, on...

    I'd somewhat agree, but in my experience, particularly with Twitter, agencies do officially use multiple means of communication, but in practice, put more updates, more frequently and reliably, on Twitter.

    This is especially the case with many rail and transport services. Officially, they'll have service updates and statuses on their website, and live data of expected departure times. In practice, they'll note planned outages and some major disruptions through those means, and sometimes delays will be reflected in live data, but specific announcements of lesser but still important updates, eg, '14:00 train from X to Y is cancelled because 13:00 was delayed', or 'Services on X route are not running because of Y; we expect them to be running again at Z' will only be on Twitter.

    3 votes
  19. Comment on California junk fee ban could upend restaurant industry in ~food

    pallas
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    Tipping in the US is generally not legally enforced, but is strongly socially enforced, and is larger than most other countries: around 15-25% at least, and in many places 15% would not be seen as...

    Tipping in the US is generally not legally enforced, but is strongly socially enforced, and is larger than most other countries: around 15-25% at least, and in many places 15% would not be seen as appropriate except from the elderly. It is nominally related to how pleased you are with the service, but in practice, you need to tip regardless. Not tipping at all, even for bad service and bad food, is generally considered socially unacceptable, and you could expect to be harassed for doing so, potentially publicly.

    5 votes
  20. Comment on California junk fee ban could upend restaurant industry in ~food

    pallas
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    What you are referring to is legal in much of the US, but is not legal in California. The employer simply must pay at least minimum wage. Tips are not included or considered in that at all. There...

    What you are referring to is legal in much of the US, but is not legal in California. The employer simply must pay at least minimum wage. Tips are not included or considered in that at all. There is no lowered non-tip minimum wage for tipped employees, or ability to pay less and only 'make up gaps'.

    8 votes