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Mark Atwood
When I was in college, one of my Research Assistant jobs was to do clerical and basic number crunching work for base knowledge surveys. It takes scrupulous and expensive controls to prevent roughly a third of the surveys from being randomly answered for the lulz. Even with the most scrupulous controls and careful interview technique, there is still roughly 5% noise.

In other words, any newspaper headline of a newspaper article that is a restatement of the abstract of some random paper from some random academic journal based on some survey, especially if its a prepub paper or open access journal, that is of the form of "ONE THIRD OF LILPUTIANS ARE STUPID, ACCORDING TO SURVEY", is rank bullshit, and is anti-knowledge, as in anyone who reads it is less informed afterwards than before.

Show me the survey questions, the interview technique, the responder selection process, the population size, the population demographics, the pre-survey stats oversight board approval, the post-survey stats oversight board signoff, and the raw data, and THEN we will talk.

(My lead researcher when I was a RA sat on several of those Stats Oversight Approval Boards. I got well schooled in several of the ways that a researcher could lie to themselves, knowingly and unknowingly.)

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Where I live, today the sun rose at 6:47am and will set at 7:20pm. So it's morning twilight as I'm going to work, the sun is up when I get to my building, and it's still light into the evening.

Next week, the 22nd, is the equinox. Around the equinox, the days are getting shorter and the nights longer at the fastest rate. Around here, about 15 minutes a day, or 2 hours a week. Over the next 2 weeks, the day will shrink and the night will expand by 4 hours.

About the same time, historically, a cloud cover will form over the city, and with only occasional rare exceptions, will stay in place until March.

Then all the newcomers will discover, and the longer term residents will be reminded of one of Seattle's best known signature features.

The Dark is coming.

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Current Music: Sunset by Peter Katar

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E pur si muove

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What is the opposite of a "free range kid"?

A cage raised one.

I don't despair for the kids. Some of them will recover. I despair for the parents and enablers who built and enforce those cages. They will go to their graves smugly convinced they did the right thing, instead of wrecking so much of the future.

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In the latest news of overcontrolling busybody idiots who are terrified of imaginary threats, last Sunday the cops were called, and a mother arrested, for the crime for letting her 10yo son shop unsupervised in a Lego store.

I am curious, can any of my readers defend this sort of thing? (And "well, they were just following policy" is not a defense, it's an admission.)

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Current Location: ada's technical books, seattle wa

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Some thoughts on composing laying out ebooks:
- DONT put a separate additional title page at the beginning. The user just saw the title in the renderer's UI when they selected the book. Separate title pages are archaic: an ebook will never be stripped or rebound.
- DONT put the copyright info, publication info, "printing" info, legal disclaimers, boilerplate, colophon, etc at the beginning. Put it at the end.
- The only exception is you MAY put the ToC at the beginning.
- if there is a ToC, each line of the ToC MUST include the name of the chapter or section, and SHOULD contain a short (3 lines or less) description
- if the book has a ToC or an Index, each entry MUST hyperlink internally to the part of the book they reference.
- DONT put footnotes or notes or citations at the "bottom" of the "page", or at the end of the chapter, or worst of all, at the end in a "Notes" section.
- DO put footnotes, notes, and citations inline, and hint them to the renderer, so it can fold them, to be expanded at the user's touch.
- Hint to the renderer, that the first time the book is displayed, it SHOULD open to either the introduction, or to the starting text of chapter one.
- DONT try to force the renderer to waste pixels on margins. Let a renderer running on a mobile, eink, or small tablet run the text right up the side of the display. Let a render running on a desktop or large tablet use it's own margins. It *always* knows better than your art and layout editor.
- Renders SHOULD ignore, subvert, and frustrate attempts by the publisher's art and layout editor to force margins. The render and the user know better, always.
- DONT render body text or header text as an image, unless it's a visual poem (for example, the poems in "Alice in Wonderland"), but even then, see if you can hint it to the renderer instead.
- DONT render a drop capital as an image.
- If the book contains images, the image data SHOULD be the highest resolution and color depth the renderer can display. If you don't know what the renderer will be, the image data SHOULD be at least 1024x768.
- Each image data rectangle MUST be one and only one image or photograph.
- DONT put margins in the image rectangle
- Each image SHOULD completely fill the ebook display when rendered. Renderers SHOULD heuristically clip margins and rotate images to completely fill the display surface.
- Comic books and graphic novels will have a different set of rules and requirements, which I will write up another day.

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Is there an Android tablet that does not suck?

What I need:
* stock Android, latest OS version
* enough CPU that the UI does not lag
* enough main storage that I don't have to worry about it
* enough battery that it will run for at least a long afternoon
* standard power adapter, either microUSB or USB-C
* ok camera
* SIM & WIFI & GPS &etc

What I do not want:
* OEM UI "experience"
* OEM shitware
* out of date Android version
* slow security updates
* proprietary plugs, cables, adapters, or chargers
* the wireless internet locked to a carrier
* showing off how hipster skinny thin it can be. I need moar battery, not shaving 20 fucking grams of weight from my everyday carry.

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I remember being part of a discussion on rasfw back in the day, when we realized that it was actually possible for a standard unenhanced human to run a 50 meter dash, naked, on the Moon, wearing only a pair of shoes and a pair of tightly fitted swimmer’s goggles.

Stay in a low pressure pure oxygen chamber for a few days to vent out all the neutral gasses from your body, transfer to an airlock with the same gas mix, take your mark, hyperventilate a dozen breaths, exhale, and leap out from the starting block as the outer doors open, keep your mouth and throat from closing, and sprint in a straight line, into a waiting open airlock that snaps shut behind you and crash pressurizes.

It probably wouldn’t even be all that much more painful than the pain of running 50 meters at competition speed already is.

You will be in a world of lethal hurt, if you trip.

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I have a theory, about Apple.

Apple has a quarter of a trillion dollars. In cash.

That is a ludicrous amount of money. That is so much money, that it is too much money. It is too much to deposit as passive cash, because a bank can no longer be a neutral unbiased 3rd party when there is an account that big. Not even a large nation's central bank. When you have that much cash, risks like counterparty risk, fiat currency problems, and government confiscation start becoming a significant amount of the risk profile.

The way that most very large companies waste very large amounts of cash is to buy other large companies. This almost invariably is a terrible idea. The buying company almost always overpays, especially when they start bidding against someone else. And companies on sale for a discount, are for sale for a discount for a reason. So called claimed "synergies" almost never are realized. Costs are always higher than expected. Big mergers and aquisitions almost always are a mechanism where the senior executives burn the investors money in order to make said executives seem or feel more important.

Steve Jobs never felt the need to do M&A to seem or feel more important, so Apple only did aquistitions to obtain specific skilled teams or specific technologies. And in his passing, Apple has generally continued this pattern. (I think the aquisition of Beats was very non-Apple, and was a mistake, and probably is seen as an expensive mistake and expensive lesson by Apple's current leadership.)

But so and still, Apple has Too Much Cash. What to do with it?

When you have a pile of cash that is so large that it in itself starts turning into a local economic distortion, there really is only one profitable thing to do with it: Wrap a banking license around it, and open a bank.

Think about it. Apple could run a bank, a very different kind of bank, with a much lower risks of fraud and loss. They already have secure cryptoprocessors... everywhere! They can use iOS devices as the secure terminals, both for customers and for merchants. They can use ApplePay for retail transactions. They can use what they know about your from user's iOS devices and their AppleID for KYC. They can push secure finantial messages around via the iMessage framework.

With all this in place they could undercut all of the existing payment networks and still make, well, bank.

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I've been following the saga about the confirmed and seated passenger being dragged off United Flight 3411, and two details leap out at me. I'm going to post this in two parts. Here is the second part.

The Chicago Police Department.

The cops that dragged him off and then roughed him up were not officers of the Chicago Police Department, but were instead employees of the Chicago Aviation Police.

Completely different agency. The CAP are nothing more than cheap security guards who get to wear a fancy shirt, and are not allowed to carry weapons. Their remit ends at the end of the jetway, and they have zero authority on board an aircraft. If an airline wants to have a passenger forcibly removed, they have to call the real police.

But, that is not the actual problem I have here. The real problem is, right after this happened, the press mistakenly thought they were Chicago Police Department. (I don't blame them for this mistake, my first snap assumption was that they were CPD as well, because only real cops are allowed to forcibly remove a passenger).

So, the media called up the CPD for a statement.

What the CPD *should* have said was "The incident did not involve CPD officers. We have no statement about incidents that do not involve the CPD."

What the CPD said instead was a transparent lie about how the man "fell" and "hit his face". Think about that for a minute: the CPD has a set of go-to lies to vomit up, is easier for them to say, then it is for them to figure out that they are actually innocent!

Of course, that should be completely unsurprising, we are talking about the Chicago Police Department here. The spokesman probably tells that same lie 3 times a week.

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Current Location: ada's technical bookstore; seattle wa

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