I can accept messianic alien orphan superheroes and skyscraper-sized battle robots, but I will not stand for inaccurate portrayals of structural mechanics.

It's fine to bend the laws of physics if the plot warrants it, but most suspension bridge mistakes are so needless and stupid that their only function seems to be irritating engineers.

Most of the structural elements have no purpose, and bridges are instead supported by a mix of perplexing whimsy, directorial ignorance, and nothing. I've taken a look at some notable suspension bridge disaster scenes and listed them from least bad to most bad:

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Posted Wed Nov 18 23:53:14 2015 Tags:
The twit snark is strong with this one:

From tennis lessons and stock reports to antiquing and booking a private jet, technology is transforming everything about the way we live

Currently topping the leaderboard for whitest rich dude statement: "My dogs get mani-pedis; I don't". But it's a competitive field

Next talk is a vision of connecting ubiquitous surveillance technologies to a form letter generator. #nexteconomy

GE CEO talking about how they're giving back to society by competing worldwide and spreading good-old American know-how

GE CEO: it's imporant that we not live in a society where meaningful employment is precarious and limited to the lucky few. (just kidding)

Sign of how broken US spirit is that we can have a panel talk on retail-level employment without anyone even imagining paid holiday leave

Stage engulfed in sulfurous fumes as TaskRabbit founder materializes in the flaming on-stage pentagram. This is getting good #nexteconomy

Our chimney sweeps are allowed to keep and sell the creosote they scrape from their skin, making them small business owners!

Now we have a cabbie, Uber driver, and Lyft driver. This is like discussing the Protestant reformation with Calvin, Luther and the Pope

Discussion of whether you can refuse passengers based on their likelihood to puke actually a terrific analysis of driver agency and power

Second-best part of conference is techies mansplaining on Twitter why working a 60 hour week as an underpaid driver is a great livelihood

Cabbie (Kelly Dessaint) "The worst drivers in SF are tourists, and most Uber and Lyft drivers are tourists. They live in Modesto, Hayward..."

VC is describing magical feeling of pressing button on his phone, getting food. Lab rats have been living this dream for years

The trick is to not deliver the food every time the VC presses the button. Intermittent reward ensures a hefty series B

VCs now vehemently agreeing that the path to victory is pretend to be a service without incurring any of the obligations of one

"If your idea isn't big enough to warrant regulatory scrutiny, it probably isn't important enough." This is the mentality of a toddler

We're moving from a world of widespread unemployment to one where people have three, four or even five jobs. #prosperity

The BART system is a dinosaur monopoly that should be deregulated so private trains can run on it, too

Only at a San Francisco tech conference do you have to mount a basic defense of the concept of government before proposing modest regulation

Really nice to be hearing a VC getting worked up over low wages and social cohesion instead of immortality and greening Mars

"Trickle-down economics is an intimidation tactic masquerading as economic theory." Best VC ever. Last against the wall.

Fire alarm. Huge victory for the working class

O'Reilly and Hoffman on stage trying to deduce from first principles whether fire alarm is real or can be safely ignored

Any journalist looking for the world's easiest metaphor should get in here ASAP

I never thought I would live to hear Tim O'Reilly say "I'm sorry for the disruption". But the heroic hotel fire alarm made it happen

Recurring theme this morning is Minimum Viable Education, how to train future tech professionals without the baggage of reading English lit

Counterintuitively, grinding up the top 10% of employees and feeding them to the bottom 10% actually works better than the old way

"If the Soviets had proposed current US economic policy, we would have sent the USS Iowa to the Baltic Sea"

Lyft guy spent three years on public transit board in LA. $2 bus fare covers 30% of the ride, rest comes from subsidies, which are dying

Paraphrasing him, "how do we make Los Angeles more like Botswana?". So many people traveling abroad have been struck by maxi-taxis market

Based on my experiences in collective taxis in Moldova, there's a huge synergy with reconstructive dentistry

"Why is it that I always get the whole person when I want the pair of hands?" - Henry Ford. Back when the US knew how to manufacture villains

Now Ev is talking about his investment in a diamond manufacturer, and next-generation fake meat

We're high above the atmosphere now talking about abstractions. I have no idea what anyone is saying.

"Who are the people you want your customers to become?" is such an American phrase it might as well have little flags flying out of it

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Posted Wed Nov 18 20:34:57 2015 Tags:
Posted Wed Nov 18 19:51:50 2015 Tags:

Please enjoy jwz mixtape 160.

Posted Wed Nov 18 19:11:51 2015 Tags:

Businesses pretend to have human feelings … to exploit grief.
The Facebook feature praised in the article is also a way of manipulating users:
after any sort of disaster, they are under pressure to be used by Facebook because not doing so would suggest they were among the casualties.

Posted Wed Nov 18 00:00:00 2015 Tags:

The US and Russia have agreed to ask the UN to broker a cease-fire between Assad and his enemies.

Posted Wed Nov 18 00:00:00 2015 Tags:

Chinese companies are hurrying to bottle water from Himalayan glaciers before global heating melts them.

Ok, that is a slight exaggeration.

Posted Wed Nov 18 00:00:00 2015 Tags:

The Tor Project says that the FBI-CMU "research" to identify Tor users was a fishing expedition, aimed at finding anyone they could accuse of anything.

Posted Wed Nov 18 00:00:00 2015 Tags:

PISSI, the pirates of the desert.

Cole's point that it is impossible to "contain" PISSI can be literally correct, but not in the way he asserts. It may be that a stable situation in which PISSI exists for a long time under containment is impossible; if so, that suggests that containing PISSI would lead to its collapse, as it could no longer do profitable raids.

Posted Wed Nov 18 00:00:00 2015 Tags:

The UK faces ecological derangement all over, as a result of the 1C of global heating we have already caused.

Posted Wed Nov 18 00:00:00 2015 Tags:

More about the Haitian election and how it relates to the US history of keeping Haiti down.

Posted Wed Nov 18 00:00:00 2015 Tags:

Citizens of Massachusetts: Oppose a bill to ramp up the war on drugs.

Posted Wed Nov 18 00:00:00 2015 Tags:

UK anti-privacy activists seek to use the Paris attacks as an excuse to skip debate about new mass surveillance powers.

Each terrorist attack, anywhere in the world, provides an excuse for Big Brother to say we should surrender more freedom so he can "protect" us. Aside from the danger of tyranny, which exceeds that of terrorists, it's not even clear that increased surveillance would achieve its goal.

There is no limit to how many people a tyrannical state can kill, torture, or imprison. We need a state, for the many essential things that states can do, but we must make sure it remains under our control, and we can't do that if it knows everywhere we go and everyone we talk with.

Prohibiting expression of opinions, "advocating" this or that, is a form of tyranny. When "extremism" is prohibited, will plutocrats declare rejection of plutocracy "extreme"? We be prosecuted for advocating a return to democracy?

Posted Wed Nov 18 00:00:00 2015 Tags:

A former hostage of PISSI warns against the mistake of playing into its hands with ill-calculated violence.

Posted Wed Nov 18 00:00:00 2015 Tags:

You’ve heard me uttering teasers about it for months. Now it’s here. The repository is available for cloning; we’re shipping the 0.9.0 beta of NTPsec. You can browse the web pages or clone the git repository by one of several methods. You can “wget https://github.com/NTPsec/ntpsec/archive/NTPsec_0_9_0.tar.gz” to get a tarball.

This is an initial beta and has some rough edges, mostly due to the rather traumatic (but utterly necessary) replacement of the autoconf build system. Also, our range of ports is still narrow; if you’re on anything but Linux or a recent FreeBSD the build may not work for you yet. These things will be fixed.

However, the core function – syncing your clock via NTP – is solid, and using 0.9.0 for production might be judged a bit adventurous but wouldn’t be crazy. The next few beta releases will rapidly get more polished. Expect them to come quickly, like within weeks.

Most of the changes are under the hood and not user-visible. A few auxiliary tools have been renamed, most notably sntp to ntpdig. If you read documentation, you will notice that what’s there has been massively revised and improved.

The most important change you can’t see is that the code has been very seriously security-hardened, not only by plugging all publicly disclosed holes but by internal preventive measures to close off entire classes of vulnerabilities (by, for example, replacing all function calls that can produce buffer overruns with memory-safe equivalents.)

We’ve already established good relations with security-research and InfoSec communities. Near-future releases will include security fixes currently under embargo.

If you consider this work valuable, please support it by contributing at my Patreon page.

Posted Mon Nov 16 19:28:29 2015 Tags:
DNA Lounge update, wherein the Halloween photos are finally in!
Posted Mon Nov 16 10:09:18 2015 Tags:

The hacker culture, and STEM in general, are under ideological attack. Recently I blogged a safety warning that according to a source I consider reliable, a “women in tech” pressure group has made multiple efforts to set Linus Torvalds up for a sexual assault accusation. I interpreted this as an attempt to beat the hacker culture into political pliability, and advised anyone in a leadership position to beware of similar attempts.

Now comes Roberto Rosario of the Django Software Foundation. Django is a web development framework that is a flourishing and well-respected part of the ecology around the of the Python language. On October 29th 2015 he reported that someone posting as ‘djangoconcardiff’ opened an issue against pull request #176 on ‘awesome-django’, addressing it to Rosario. This was the first paragraph.


great project!! I have one observation and a suggestion. I noticed that you have rejected some pull requests to add some good django libraries and that the people submitting thsoe pull requests are POCs (People of Colour). As a suggestion I recommend adopting the Contributor Code of Conduct (http://contributor-covenant.org) to ensure everyone’s contributions are accepted regarless [sic] of their sex, sexual orientation, skin color, religion, height, place of origin, etc. etc. etc. As a white straight male and lead of this trending repository, your adoption of this Code of Conduct will send a loud and clear message that inclusion is a primary objective of the Django community and of the software development community in general. D.

Conversation on that issue is preserved in the Twitter link above, but the issue itself in GitHub has apparently been deleted in its totality. Normally, only GitHub staff can do this. A copy is preserved here.

It is unknown who was speaking as ‘djangoconcardiff’, and that login has now been deleted, like the GitHub issue. (DjangoCon Europe 2015 was this past May/June in Cardiff.)

The slippery, Newspeak-like quality of djangoconcardiff’s “suggestion” makes it hard to pin down from the text itself whether he/she is merely stumping for inclusiveness or insinuating that rejection of pull requests by “persons of color” is itself evidence of racism and thoughtcrime.

But, if you think you’re reading that ‘djangoconcardiff’ considers acceptance of pull requests putatively from “persons of color” to be politically mandatory, a look at the Contributor Covenant he/she advocates will do nothing to dissuade you. Paragraph 2 denounces the “pervasive cult of meritocracy”.

It is clear that djangoconcardiff and the author of the Covenant (self-described transgender feminist Coraline Ada Ehmke) want to replace the “cult of meritocracy” with something else. And equally clear that what they want to replace it with is racial and sexual identity politics.

Rosario tagged his Twitter report “Social Justice in action!” He knows who these people are: SJWs, “Social Justice Warriors”. And, unless you have been living under a rock, so do you. These are the people – the political and doctrinal tendency, united if in no other way by an elaborate shared jargon and a seething hatred of djangoconcardiff’s “white straight male”, who recently hounded Nobel laureate Tim Hunt out of his job with a fraudulent accusation of sexist remarks.

I’m not going to analyze SJW ideology here except to point out, again, why the hacker culture must consider anyone who holds it an enemy. This is because we must be a cult of meritocracy. We must constantly demand merit – performance, intelligence, dedication, and technical excellence – of ourselves and each other.

Now that the Internet – the hacker culture’s creation! – is everywhere, and civilization is increasingly software-dependent, we have a duty, the duty I wrote about in Holding Up The Sky. The invisible gears have to turn. The shared software infrastructure of civilization has to work, or economies will seize up and people will die. And for large sections of that infrastructure, it’s on us – us! – to keep it working. Because nobody else is going to step up.

We dare not give less than our best. If we fall away from meritocracy – if we allow the SJWs to remake us as they wish, into a hell-pit of competitive grievance-mongering and political favoritism for the designated victim group of the week – we will betray not only what is best in our own traditions but the entire civilization that we serve.

This isn’t about women in tech, or minorities in tech, or gays in tech. The hacker culture’s norm about inclusion is clear: anybody who can pull the freight is welcome, and twitching about things like skin color or shape of genitalia or what thing you like to stick into what thing is beyond wrong into silly. This is about whether we will allow “diversity” issues to be used as wedges to fracture our community, degrade the quality of our work, and draw us away from our duty.

When hackers fail our own standards of meritocracy, as we sometimes do, it’s up to us to fix it from within our own tradition: judge by the work alone, you are what you do, shut up and show us the code. A movement whose favored tools include the rage mob, the dox, and faked incidents of bigotry is not morally competent to judge us or instruct us.

I have been participating in and running open-source projects for a quarter-century. In all that time I never had to know or care whether my fellow contributors were white, black, male, female, straight, gay, or from the planet Mars, only whether their code was good. The SJWs want to make me care; they want to make all of us obsess about this, to the point of having quotas and struggle sessions and what amounts to political officers threatening us if we are insufficiently “diverse”.

Think I’m exaggerating? Read the whole djangoconcardiff thread. What’s there is totalitarianism in miniature: ideology is everything, merit counts for nothing against the suppression of thoughtcrime, and politics is conducted by naked intimidation against any who refuse to conform. Near the end of the conversation djangoconcardiff threatens to denounce Rosario to the board of the Django Software Foundation in the confused, illiterate, vicious idiom of an orc or a stormtrooper.

It has been suggested that djangoconcardiff might be a troll emulating an SJW, and we should thus take him less seriously. The problem with this idea is that no SJW disclaimed him – more generally, that “Social Justice” has reached a sort of Poe’s Law singularity at which the behavior of trolls and true believers becomes indistinguishable even to each other, and has the same emergent effects.

In the future, the hacker whose community standing the SJWs threaten could be you. The SJWs talk ‘diversity’ but like all totalitarians they measure success only by total ideological surrender – repeating their duckspeak, denouncing others for insufficent political correctness, loving Big Brother. Not being a straight white male won’t save you either – Roberto Rosario is an Afro-Hispanic Puerto Rican.

We must cast these would-be totalitarians out – refuse to admit them on any level except by evaluating on pure technical merit whatever code patches they submit. We must refuse to let them judge us, and learn to recognize their thought-stopping jargon and kafkatraps as a clue that there is no point in arguing with them and the only sane course is to disengage. We can’t fix what’s broken about the SJWs; we can, and must, refuse to let them break us.

(Roberto Rosario, Meredith L. Patterson, and Rick Moen assisted in the composition of this post. However, any errors are the sole responsibility of the author.)

Posted Fri Nov 13 20:10:46 2015 Tags:
DNA Lounge update, wherein we are now OPEN, OPEN, OPEN!
Posted Fri Nov 13 00:50:30 2015 Tags:

Planet Debian upstream is hosted by Branchable.