Currently, Silicon Valley is looking more and more like the Third World: some extremely rich and showy people, and a lot of poverty, with no middle class.
One extremely rich chappy likened the rebellion of the poor against the rich to “a nazi rampage.”
In the comments section on Slashdot, one simple statement illustrated the balance perfectly:
I have lived in Brazil for quite some years now. Here the gap between rich and everyone else (there is no middle class here so to speak) is to such an extent that if you have money you are a target. This means that you must live in a gated community in constant fear that you or your kids might be kidnapped. You need to own a cheapo car so you won’t stand out too much when driving around. Of course you will have a nice car too, but this is only for weekends or maybe travel to places where other rich people go. In the end it is easy to become a prisoner of that wealth that is supposed to make you more free. I would prefer to live middle class in a 1st world country than rich in Brazil. The sad thing is that the erosion of the middle class in the 1st world countries means that they soon might resemble Brazil, and this is not good, even if you are rich.
Another commentator puts it quite bluntly.
When the poor start to starve, they will not die quietly, they will get violent. Keeping the masses reasonably well off is a good investment, even for the most psychopathic rich.
Remember what happened to the likes of Marie-Antoinette and Tsar Alexander.
History doomed to repeat and all that.
A petition landed in my inbox today: “Shut down cyberbullying website, Ask.fm, in memory of Izzy Dix & 12 other teens globally”
This is, alas, another misunderstanding of how websites work, but most importantly how social interactions, in general, work. I’m not saying that anyone is at moral fault in these cases; what I am concerned about is that the petition spreads the idea that any one site should be targeted for crackdown. Politicians can jump at this easily, scapegoat easily, and look like progress is being made. This is shortsighted, and ultimately leads us to rest on laurels until the next, identical, scandal arises.
(TLDR:) In brief, it’s not a crackdown on websites we need, but action on a large scale. We must be in control of the message that society projects to young people, the message must be on every wall a young person will see, and the message must be:
If you are a victim of BULLYING, it is never your fault, and you must always SPEAK UP immediately.
Read more for details. Read more
The Guardian is reporting on new legislation for England where foster children will be allowed to continue to have foster parents until the age of 21, up from 18 previously.
This is not an effective solution to the core problem of dealing with adulthood, and an exposé of comments from some ex foster-children shows this: for those of us who are lucky to have our parents, they remain still our parents, whether we’re four, fourteen or forty. Read more
An open poll for opinions on Linux Voice.com asks whether the tired and still popular question “is 20XX going to be the year of the Linux Dsktop” is still relevant.
My take on it is as below – but in brief (TL;DR) it is no longer relevant technologically, it is relevant and in progress from an industrial point of view, and is is most definitely still relevant when it comes to users at home, with no technical skills. The question beyond that is, do we even want non-techies using Linux? Read more
You and Yours (BBC Radio 4) is currently doing a Boxing Day Special on learning – I agree with a lot of what is being said, but I feel there’s one thing they skipped over: rather than being task focused in learning, it is important to first know why we’re learning… This is what I wrote to them via their website (though they’re not taking listener input this time around – probably a reduced team):
I am self taught in a number of disciplines. Some of these I started with a basic course before taking the rest on myself (programming, guitar), some I bootstrapped my learning using magazines and online articles (photography, cooking, singing, computer administration). I was, academically, not very proficient… at all.
I find that learning only happens properly when you want to answer a question – even if you start out wanting to learn about an entire field of knowledge (mathematics, nutrition, English, an instrument, the intricacies of opera and ballet…), it comes down really to want to answer a specific practical question you are curious about. Using an Internet search engine helps to find more words to ask about, find other connected ideas, and forums allow discussion – even better if you find people to talk to in real life.
And, as with all learning, questions beget questions and soon you’re learning more than you set out to….
Are you That Person – the one who insists “you mean, there are viri going round, not viruses?” Or that “a single piece of data is a datum.” Whooptidoo – you took Latin in First Grade and now you’re an expert.
I find it rather preposterous to make deliberate use of foreign grammatical rules in the middle of an English sentence, not to mention pompous trying to “correct” other peoples’ use by introducing such jarring disjunction.
Latin words in English are loanwords, as from any other language. The English language, as you might already know, has appropriated numerous words from all over the world, but has long treated them as English grammatically.
You never say that you’re going to order two pizze with your friends; nor do you complain about a single pieróg falling off your plate; news reports might talk about “tycoons” even though the original Japanese distinguishes plurality by context (like the word “sheep” in English); and popular parlance has people talking about French chateaus, instead of the châteaux (note that the “x” is silent, such that there is no phonetic difference between the singular and plural forms). Read more
Olympic Committee Upholds Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws
It seems incredible, but the IOC has decided to side with Russia’s stance by enforcing its rule against overt political expression – in this case, the stance that anti-gay legislation is politically wrong.
The IOC is meant to help foster better international relations via the organization of the Olympic games, but has dug itself a hole in deciding to not influence the politics of any host country in the aim of “not being about politics.”
It is however not merely naive, but seriously irresponsible to think that organizing an event involving nations – de facto headed by their government representatives – could ever possibly be apolitical, and that individuals would accept an institutionalized ban on expressing their political opinions in a global arena.
Whilst we may continue to petition the IOC against this ridiculous decision, it may be better time spent convincing LGBT-supportive athletes to not go, and vocally say why, and instead host a parallel event elsewhere; encourage sponsors to pull out of Sochi and help build a new Games event, founded solidly on the principles already set out in the Declaration of Human Rights.
It will start out small, it will go against the grain, but anything worthwhile does.
I’d be happy if the council heavily discouraged ownership and use private vehicles within Edinburgh, whilst at the same time starting a Council-led/funded scheme to facilitate the purchase for everyone of bicycles mounted with electric motors (to encourage even the most reticent).
This should leave only public transport and businesses with vehicles, and everyone else with greener, safer, healthier, less noisy, less obstructive, non-congestive cost-effective private transport. Extra motorization and rear-cars for families (motorized private rickshaws!)
After being led to the Ada Programming Language Wikipedia entry (and being impressed by what it offers and promises – it is designed for fail-safeness and robustness, and as such is used in satellites, military jets and orbital satellites), I wondered, why isn’t the language more popular, like the less effective and more error-prone C and C++ which are used for coding our operating systems, or Java/PHP/Ruby which power our interwebz?
A few forum posts exist about this, and numerous explanations abound, from petty whining (“everybody who tries it it hates it”) to accusatory (“it’s designed by a committee, and like Esperanto, nobody wants to use that”) through conspiracy theory (“it’s in the interests of repair & diagnostic/IDE vendors to make sure crappy languages persist”) and even via circular reasoning (“it’s not gained popularity because other languages are more in demand”). I kid you not.
In all of that, I only once noted one answer which hit a sensible mark: in a time when there wasn’t a prominent single language, due to the closedness of computer systems, hobbyists could only work with what was lying around, and there was no global applicability in any real sense [citation needed…], C came along and offered what nobody else was: a high-level language for low-level computing, a free compiler, and an operating system to use it on, in an ecosystem that promoted (at the time) code sharing. It was this seed traction that led to C being still the most popular language for system programming today.
Other languages have since risen, but the most popular, with the largest communities, still are application-level and web-oriented – not system level. In the midst of this, Ada still retains (bless or curse) its original image as the brainchild of the US Department of Defense’s brainchild, with little push to make it a business-systems or high-availability systems contender.
The onus then is on the existing Ada community to start building tools and libraries for newcomers to use. Newcomers like to feel invited in by pioneers.
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latentpower: awkwardsituationist: cambridge university students were asked on campus why they needed feminism. here are 60 answers. click the link for over about 600 more. This is amazing I’ve seen some of these, some of them are new to me and have put a couple of things in perspective… I’ll check the full 600 at