3 months ago in Quotes
People have a series of rationalizations. People say for example that science and technology have their own logic, that they are in fact autonomous. This particular rationalization is profoundly false. It is not true that science marches on in defiance of human will, independent of human will, that just is not the case. But it is comfortable, as I said: it leads to the position that "if I don't do it, someone else will."

Of course if one takes that as an ethical principle then obviously it can serve as a license to do anything at all. "People will be murdered; if I don't do it, someone else will." "Women will be raped; if I don't do it, someone else will." That is just a license for violence.

Other people say, and I think this is a widely used rationalization, that fundamentally the tools we work on are "mere" tools; This means that whether they get use for good or evil depends on the person who ultimately buys them and so on.

There's nothing bad about working in computer vision, for example. Computer vision may very well some day be used to heal people who would otherwise die. Of course, it could also be used to guide missiles, cruise missiles for example, to their destination, and all that. You see, the technology itself is neutral and value-free and it just depends how one uses it. And besides -- consistent with that -- we can't know, we scientists cannot know how it is going to be used. So therefore we have no responsibility.

Well, that is false. It is true that a computer, for example, can be used for good or evil. It is true that a helicopter can be used as a gunship and it can also be used to rescue people from a mountain pass. And if the question arises of how a specific device is going to be used, in what I call an abstract ideal society, then one might very well say one cannot know.

But we live in a concrete society, [and] with concrete social and historical circumstances and political realities in this society, it is perfectly obvious that when something like a computer is invented, then it is going to be adopted will be for military purposes. It follows from the concrete realities in which we live, it does not follow from pure logic. But we're not living in an abstract society, we're living in the society in which we in fact live.

If you look at the enormous fruits of human genius that mankind has developed in the last 50 years, atomic energy and rocketry and flying to the moon and coherent light, and it goes on and on and on -- and then it turns out that every one of these triumphs is used primarily in military terms. So it is not reasonable for a scientist or technologist to insist that he or she does not know -- or cannot know -- how it is going to be used.
 3 months ago in Quotes
Recipe for getting things done:

1. Place every new & cool technology into mental quarantine for 3-5 years. 2. If, after that: a) the tech is still widely used, and doesn't seem to be getting overtaken by something else b) you're about to start a NEW project where the tech would help c) you're not in a rush and feel like trying something new

...then go for it.

Learning complex tech that just arrived is a waste of your life, if you want to accomplish things. It's only useful if your aim is to appear knowledgeable and "in the loop" to your developer peers.
 4 months ago in Quotes

God Bless the Grass

God bless the grass that grows thru the crack
They roll the concrete over it to try and keep it back
The concrete gets tired of what it has to do
It breaks and it buckles and the grass grows thru
And God bless the grass

God bless the truth that fights toward the sun
They roll the lies over it and think that it is done
It moves through the ground and reaches for the air
And after a while it is growing everywhere
And God bless the grass

God bless the grass that grows through cement
It's green and it's tender and it's easily bent
But after a while it lifts up its head
For the grass is living and the stone is dead
And God bless the grass

God bless the grass that's gentle and low
Its roots they are deep and its will is to grow
And God bless the truth, the friend of the poor
And the wild grass growing at the poor man's door
And God bless the grass
 4 months ago in Quotes
The driving idea behind denialism was always to delay action for a few decades. Well that worked perfectly. Now they will move on to saying it's all too late for gradual mitigation, and they can swoop in with highly expensive adaptation measures, publicly funded in perpetuity. This stage of rentier/disaster capitalism could be what pushes our global civilisation off the cliff.
 4 months ago in Quotes
Most of the technology we like was created in the second half of the 20th century. We have been standing on the shoulders of giant and eventually the giants got old and were replaced by self-serving large tech companies. But since most people are making money, or get things for free, we don't want to recognize that we are their servants. There is no longer any urgency to create something different, because being different means missing out.

The reason you have to go to esoteric solutions when talking about something like decentralization is because the Internet is no longer built for it. From authentication, to networks and even the state of ip addresses is less than great. That you can avoid these problem by going to the fringe likely comes from the idea that hackers still have influence. We think that if something doesn't work it can't be our own fault, it most be some conspiracy or inherent limitation, rather a lack in our own understanding and ability to organize.
 4 months ago in Quotes
I don't follow gaming message boards, because, at its best, entertainment is going to be a subjective thing that can't win for everyone, while at worst, a particular game just becomes a random symbol for petty tribal behavior.
 4 months ago in Quotes
To me, it feels like Google's entire strategy behind reCaptcha is to make it harder to protect your privacy. We've basically given up on the idea that there are tasks only humans can do, and to me V3 feels like Google openly saying, "You know how we can prove you're not a robot? Because we literally know exactly who you are." I don't even know if it should be called a captcha -- it feels like it's just identity verification.

I don't think this is an acceptable tradeoff. I know that when reCaptcha shows up on HN there's often a crowd that says, "but how else can we block bots?" I'm gonna draw a personal line in the sand and say that I think protecting privacy is more important than stopping bots. If your website can't stop bots without violating my privacy, then I'm starting to feel like I might be on the bots' side.
 4 months ago in Quotes
Everywhere I look, I see compounding dysfunction. I see the gears within the dysfunction. I see the people turning the thumbscrews of the people fixing the gears so that the machine becomes the thumbscrew crushing the world.
 4 months ago in Quotes
The relatively new trouble with mass society is perhaps even more serious, but not because of the masses themselves, but because this society is essentially a consumers’ society where leisure time is used no longer for self-perfection or acquisition of more social status, but for more and more consumption and more and more entertainment… To believe that such a society will become more “cultured” as time goes on and education has done its work, is, I think, a fatal mistake. The point is that a consumers’ society cannot possibly know how to take care of a world and the things which belong exclusively to the space of worldly appearances, because its central attitude toward all objects, the attitude of consumption, spells ruin to everything it touches.
"Between Past and Future"
 4 months ago in Quotes
[..] we must defend not only our own right to freedom, but also other people’s rights. This is because when other people’s right to freedom is violated, our freedom exists only in name. [..] Freedom is the embodiment of independent will and thought. [..] If we are to oppose tyranny and respect independence, then the oppression embedded within and between cultures should all be destroyed. [..] even in researching and learning, our thoughts are not as free as we think they are. Under the impact of complicated thoughts, shameless suppression and temptation, defending your freedom of thought has become very difficult. We usually believe that learning can make you powerful, but in the process, our independent will or freedom of thought is often hijacked, wittingly or unwittingly. Everyone thinks that learning is a good thing, but if we lose our independent will or freedom of thought, the outcome might be even worse than not learning. Schopenhauer once said in his essay On Reading and Books: “They have read themselves stupid. If you are eager to learn, it is important that you understand this idea.” [..] Anyone who reads only one type of book or answers to one authority is essentially using books to build a jail that imprisons their thoughts. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that our ancestors invented books in the shape of bricks? [..] the concept of “freedom and the pursuit of non-material goals” is incredibly important, but also incredibly fragile. Not only does it allow us to pursue our own lives, it also prevents us from becoming tools of crime. It is humanity’s first line of defense, or we should say the last. Actually, it’s the sole line of defense. [..] Freedom is not a handout, we need to earn it with our efforts. You can lock up my body but you can never imprison my will. [..] Towards the end, as always, I’d like to share with you my life motto, a famous saying by Edward Everett Hale: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
 4 months ago in Quotes
Basically, what's happened is, somewhere along the line, as a society, we confused the notion of home with the possibility of an investment opportunity. What kind of creature wants to live in an investment opportunity? Only man. The fox has his den, the bee has his hive, the stoat has a a stoat hole. But only man, ladies and gentlemen, the worst animal of all, chooses to make his nest in an investment opportunity. Mmm, snuggle down in the lovely credit. All warm in the mortgage payment.

Mmm! But home is not the same thing as an investment opportunity. Home is a basic requirement of life, like food.

When a hamster hides hamster food in his hamster cheeks, he doesn't keep it there in the hope that it will rise in value.
And when a squirrel hides a nut, he's not trying to play the acorn market. And having eaten the nut, he doesn't keep the shell in the hope of setting up a lucrative sideline making tiny hats for elves. And when a dog buries a bone, he doesn't keep that bone buried until the point where it's reached its maximum market value. He digs it up when he's hungry.

And if estate agents were dogs burying bones, not only would they leave those bones buried until they'd reached their maximum market value, but they'd run around starting rumours about imminent increases in the price of bones in the hope of driving up the market, and they'd invite loads of boneless dogs to all view the bone at the same time in the hope of giving the impression there was a massive demand for bones. And they would photograph the bone in such a way as to make it look much more juicy than it really was, airbrushing out the maggots and cropping the rotten meat.
 4 months ago in Quotes
Some people spend their lives interested only in themselves. Almost all Japanese animation is produced with hardly any basis taken from observing real people, you know. It’s produced by humans who can’t stand looking at other humans.
 4 months ago in Zitate
Wie unterschwellig solche Mechanismen funktionieren, zeigt folgendes Beispiel (vgl. Tages-Anzeiger, T.A., Zürich vom 11.2.1994). Beim Aussteigen aus einer Straßenbahn fühlt sich ein siebenundsiebzigjähriger Mann von einem anderen Mann behindert, weil dieser, da er mit dem Fahrer spricht, den Ausstieg blockiert. Der ältere Mann zieht einen Revolver, gibt aus einer Distanz von zwei bis drei Metern vier Schüsse auf den anderen ab und verschwindet. Zufällig wird der Schütze vier Wochen später in einem Restaurant wiedererkannt und verhaftet. Er streitet ab, geschossen zu haben, trägt aber eine Waffe ohne Waffenschein bei sich. Bei der Durchsuchung seines Hauses entdeckt die Polizei ein Waffenlager. Schließlich gesteht der Mann die Tat. Er macht jedoch geltend, "im Affekt" gehandelt zu haben, vom anderen "erschreckt" worden zu sein.

Eine gerichtliche Untersuchung wird eingeleitet und dann eingestellt. Laut Stellungnahme der Staatsanwältin habe sich der Siebenundsiebzigjährige in einem "Sachverhaltsirrtum" befunden. Er habe irrtümlich angenommen, er befinde sich in einer Notwehrsituation und sei deshalb berechtigt gewesen, sich zu wehren. Es sei verständlich, so die Staatsanwältin, daß er "übersensibel auf aggressive Spannungen und Äußerungen" reagiere.

"Was habe ich getan", fragte das Opfer einen Journalisten, "daß er auf mich schießen durfte?"

Wie sollen wir das "Mitgefühl" dieser Staatsanwältin verstehen? Warum stellt sie sich auf die Seite des Täters und schützt andere Bürger nicht vor ihm? Gibt ihre Haltung nicht jedem die Erlaubnis, zu morden? Was ist das für ein Mitgefühl, das uns gegen unsere eigenen Bedürfnisse und Interessen verstoßen, das uns den Schmerz des Opfers beiseiteschieben läßt und die tödliche Gefahr, die vom Täter ausgeht, verneint?
"Der Verlust des Mitgefühls"
 5 months ago in Quotes
I often warn people: "Somewhere along the way, someone is going to tell you, 'There is no "I" in team.' What you should tell them is, 'Maybe not. But there is an "I" in independence, individuality and integrity.
 5 months ago in Stuff

war is hell and the military is full of it

U.S. Army on Twitter: "How has serving impacted you?"

some of the responses:

lemme think

I didn’t serve but my brother did
he never went to war but still shot himself in the head so

he was the sweetest most tender person I’ll ever know and the @USArmy ruined him

oh wait I have another brother who served also without fighting

he’s been fucked up in the head paranoid and violent for forty years ever since and I don’t even know where he is or if he’s still alive

and the stories he told FROM STATESIDE

Dad served in Vietnam as Navy artillery mechanic, spent most of his time in combat. Watched all his friends die when his PBR was blown up in middle of night. Hospital pulled out some shrapnel, badly stitched him up, & sent him right back to work on the next boat, same day.

Dad spent next several decades drinking because that was what passed for mental health treatment at local VA office. He had horrific nightmares for long time & would wake us with his screaming. He doesn't scream as much anymore, but still won't talk about his experience.

On Veteran's Day while the military Twitter account is tweeting platitudes, my dad gets the most expensive hard liquor he can afford, toasts to the lives his friends never had a chance to live, and ends the day drunk and sobbing. He made us swear to never join the military.

I’ve only seen my father smile in pictures. I was a baby when he went to Vietnam. The things he saw and did there broke him inside. There was no joy in life for him anymore. He finally shot himself in his study one afternoon, I found him when I came home. I was 8.

My grandfather served in Korea. One day they told him he could go back home if he signed on a list. He signed it, and they shipped him off to Nevada without his knowledge and tested the effects of radiation exposure on him. The VA didn’t want to have him a single damn dime...

Starting in 2014-15 he slowly became paralyzed from the upper chest down and had to have a feeding tube put in his stomach. The VA still gave nothing to him. The effects of his radiation exposure slowly but surely began to show from 2014 onwards and only got much worse.

He did eventually get his disability and benefits. But it was a 5 year long battle with the VA for every dime and dollar. They tried everything to refuse his rightful compensation. On May 28 2018, last Memorial Day. He died of asphyxiation....

The US Army to all that:

To everyone who responded to this thread, thank you for sharing your story. Your stories are real, they matter, and they may help others in similar situations. The Army is committed to the health, safety, and well-being of our Soldiers.

As we honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice this weekend by remembering their service, we are also mindful of the fact that we have to take care of those who came back home with scars we can't see.

You know what, when you send off innocent people to murder other innocent people, for the profit of others, eventual "scars" are rather predictable.
 5 months ago in Quotes
When you get more experienced most of these things make me laugh or cry (depending on the siuation); it does not matter what companies like FB, Google do; people on HN or Reddit will take it and do it to the extreme: we now ‘need to’ use React for everything; if it does not fit, just beat it with a hammer until it does. Kubernetes and microservices must be used for every tiny little part if the app even if it causes a lot more overhead in performance/memory use (computers are cheap and fast!) or debugging. Abstract almost everything! (Java + OOP, Javascript and the npm mess) to Abstract almost nothing! (Go w/o generics), Make everything reusable (left-pad), Rewrite everything in JS!, Rust!, Go! etc etc. Everyone is running after eachother and doing it more extreme and the end result is just as shit as if you would not have done that at all and just thought about it bit before opening some IDE and codegenerate you million lines of boilerplate with the instable and slow framework-du-jour. As an older coder I sigh when a codebase is taken out of the ‘mothballs’ even 6-12 months after creation and people cannot get it running because everything they used is outdated because the framework and library authors move fast and break everything all the time. And ofcourse it is in an outdated language / framework(Ruby on Rails is soooo pase) so noone knows anything , it uses the 358 most popular DSLs (350 unmaintained since january) at the time so unless you drank the same coolaid it is a nightmare spelonking adventure.

At least Dijkstra had sound mathematical reasoning for his arguments and wrote about them eloquently (and with good humor I may add); most of what is peddled in the hipster coding circles is a smooth talk by a gifted social media frontman that has no solid basis in anything besides that the person is popular. I do not even understand how people dare to put their name on complete messes like npm or one line npm packages unless it is a joke. I assume things like leftpad are in fact a joke; if they are not I would have to cry myself to sleep every night. So I just lie and say it is funny.