1. 10

    This is scary and immoral as shit.

    I’ve used and heard only good things about F-Secure’s Freedome. The advantages include a simple-ish UI, corporate branding from a security company and that it stems from Finland, which isn’t exactly Switzerland but has a history of trying to remain neutral.

    Some other VPNs, especially cheap ones, feel creepy sometimes, so it’s of paramount importance you can trust your VPN provider!

    1. 6

      I find “That One Privacy Site” to be a good starting point when evaluating the trustworthiness of VPN or email providers:

      https://thatoneprivacysite.net/vpn-section/

      1. 1

        PIA was great in terms of reliability and speed, but I felt like I didn’t know who they were or why I should trust them. I’m now using ProtonMail’s VPN service, which seems noticeably slower, but I feel like they’re more trustworthy. (Maybe I’ve just been pwned by their advertising.)

      1. 4

        As usual, David apparently fails or refuses to understand how and why PoW is useful and must attack it at every opportunity (using his favorite rhetorical technique of linking negatively connoted phrases to vaguely relevant websites).

        That said, the article reminds me of a fun story - I went to a talk from a blockchain lead at <big bank> a while back and she related that a primary component of her job was assuring executives that, in fact, they did not need a blockchain for <random task>. This had become such a regular occurrence that she had attached this image to her desk.

        1. 10

          What would you consider a useful situation for PoW? In the sense that no other alternative could make up for the advantages in some real life use-case?

          But otherwise, and maybe it’s just me, since I agree wuth his premise, but I see @David_Gerard as taking the opposite role of popular blockchain (over-)advocates, who claim that the technology is the holy grail for far too many problems. Even if one doesn’t agree with his conclusions, I enjoy reading his articles, and find them very informative, since he doesn’t just oppose blockchains from a opinion-based position, but he also seems to have the credentials to do so.

          1. 1

            Relying to @gerikson as well. I personally believe that decentralization and cryptographically anchored trust are extremely important (what David dismissively refers to as “conspiracy theory economics”). We know of two ways to achieve this: proof of work, and proof of stake. Proof of stake is interesting but has some issues and trade-offs. If you don’t believe that PoW mining is some sort of anti-environmental evil (I don’t) it seems to generally offer better properties than PoS (like superior surprise-fork resistance).

            1. 13

              I personally believe that decentralization and cryptographically anchored trust are extremely important

              I personally also prefer decentralised or federalised systems, when they have a practical advantage over a centralized alternative. But I don’t see this to be the case with most application of the blockchain. Bitcoin, as a prime example, to my knowledge is too slow, too inconvenient, too unstable and too resource hungry to have a practical application, as a real substitute for money, either digital or virtual. One doesn’t have the time to wait 20m or more whenever one pays for lunch or buys some chewing gum at a corner shop, just because some other transactions got picked up first by a miner. It’s obviously different when you want to do something like micro-donations or buying illegal stuff, but I just claim that this isn’t the basis of a modern economy.

              Cryptography is a substitute for authority, that is true, but I don’t belive that this is always wanted. Payments can’t be easily reveresed, addresses mean nothing, clients might loose support because the core developers arbitrarily change stuff. (I for example am stuck with 0.49mBTC from an old Electrum client, and I can’t do anything with it, since the whole system is a mess, but that’s rather unrelated.) This isn’t really the dynamic basis which capitalism has managed to survive on for this long. But even disregarding all of this, it simply is true that bitcoin isn’t a proper decentralized network like BitTorrent. Since the role of the wallet and the miner is (understandably) split, these two parts of the network don’t scale equally. In China gigantic mining farms are set up using specialized hardware to mine, mine, mine. I remember reading that there was one farm that predominated over at least 10% of the total mining power. All of this seems to run contrary to the proclaimed ideals. Proof of Work, well “works” in the most abstract sense, that it produces the intended results on one side, at the cost of disregarding everything can be disregarded, irrespective of whether it should be or not. And ultimately I prioritise other things over an anti-authority fetish, as do most people -which reminds us that even if everything I said is false that Bitcoin just doesn’t have the adoption to be significant enough to anyone but Crypto-Hobbiests, Looney Libertarians and some soon-to-fail startups in Silicon Valley.

              1. 5

                there was one farm that predominated over at least 10% of the total mining power

                There was one pool that was at 42% of the total mining power! such decentralization very security

                  1. 5

                    To be fair, that was one pool consisting of multiple miners. What I was talking about was a single miner controlling 10% of the total hashing power.

                    1. 7

                      That’s definitely true.

                      On the other hand, if you look at incident reports like https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/master/bip-0050.mediawiki — the pool policies set by the operators (often a single person has this power for a given pool) directly and significantly affect the consensus.

                      Ghash.io itself did have incentives to avoid giving reasons for accusations that would tank Bitcoin, but being close to 50% makes a pool a very attractive attack target: take over their transaction and parent-block choice, and you take over the entire network.

                  2. 0

                    But I don’t see this to be the case with most application of the blockchain.

                    Then I would advise researching it.

                    One doesn’t have the time to wait 20m or more whenever one pays for lunch or buys some chewing gum at a corner shop

                    Not trying to be rude, but it’s clear whenever anyone makes this argument that they don’t know at all how our existing financial infrastructure works. In fact, it takes months for a credit card transaction to clear to anything resembling the permanence of a mined bitcoin transaction. Same story with credit cards.

                    Low-risk merchants (digital goods, face-to-face sales, etc.) rarely require the average 10 minute (not sure where you got 20 from) wait for a confirmation.

                    If you do want permanence, Bitcoin is infinitely superior to any popular payment mechanism. Look into the payment limits set by high-value fungible goods dealers (like gold warehouses) for bitcoin vs. credit card or check.

                    Bitcoin just doesn’t have the adoption to be significant enough to anyone but Crypto-Hobbiests, Looney Libertarians and some soon-to-fail startups in Silicon Valley.

                    Very interesting theory - do you think these strawmen you’ve put up have collective hundreds of billions of dollars? As an effort barometer, are you familiar with the CBOE?

                    1. 10

                      Please try to keep a civil tone here.

                      Also, it’s hard to buy a cup of coffee or a steam game or a pizza with bitcoin. Ditto stocks.

                      1. -4

                        It’s hard to be nice when the quality of discourse on this topic is, for some reason, abysimally low compared to most technical topics on this site. It feels like people aren’t putting in any effort at all.

                        For example, why did you respond with this list of complete non-sequiturs? It has nothing to do with what we’ve been discussing in this thread except insofar as it involves bitcoin. I feel like your comments are normally high-effort, so what’s going on? Does this topic sap people’s will to think carefully?

                        (Civility is also reciprocal, and I’ve seen a lot of childish name-calling from the people I’m arguing with in this thread, including the linked article and the GP.)

                        Beyond the fact that this list is not really relevant, it’s also not true; you could have just searched “bitcoin <any of those things>” and seen that you can buy any of those things pretty easily, perhaps with a layer of indirection (just as you need a layer of indirection to buy things in the US if you already have EUR). In that list you gave, perhaps the most interesting example in bitcoin’s disfavor is Steam; Steam stopped accepting bitcoin directly recently, presumably due to low interest. However, it’s still easy to buy games from other sources (like Humble) with BTC.

                        1. 6

                          IMO, your comments are not very inspiring for quality. As someone who does not follow Bitcoin or the Blockchain all that much, I have not felt like any of your comments addressed anyone else’s comments. Instead, I have perceived you as coming off as defensive and with the attitude of “if you don’t get it you haven’t done enough research because I’m right” rather than trying to extol the virtues of the blockchain. Maybe you aren’t interested in correcting any of what you perceive as misinformation on here, and if so that’s even worse.

                          For example, I do not know of any place I can buy pizza with bitcoin. But you say it is possible, but perhaps with a layer of indirection. I have no idea what this layer of indirection is and you have left it vague, which does not lend me to trusting your response.

                          In one comment you are very dismissive of people’s Bitcoins getting hacked, but as a lay person, I see news stories on this all the time with substantial losses and no FDIC, so someone like me considers this a major issue but you gloss over it.

                          Many of the comments I’ve read by you on this thread are a similar level of unhelpful, all the while claiming the person you’re responding to is some combination of lazy or acting dumb. Maybe that is the truth but, again, as an outsider, all I see is the person defending the idea coming off as kind of a jerk. Maybe for someone more educated on the matter you are spot on.

                          1. 5

                            There is a religious quality to belief in the blockchain, particularly Bitcoin. It needs to be perfect in order to meet expectations for it: it can’t be “just” a distributed database, it has to be better than that. Bitcoin can’t be “just” a payment system, it has to be “the future of currency.” Check out David’s book if you’re interested in more detail.

                      2. 8

                        In fact, it takes months for a credit card transaction to clear to anything resembling the permanence of a mined bitcoin transaction. Same story with credit cards.

                        But I don’t have to wait months for both parties to be content the transaction is successful, only seconds, so this is really irrelevant to the point you are responding to, which is that if a Bitcoin transaction takes 10m to process then I heave to wait 10m for my transaction to be done, which people might not want to do.

                        1. -1

                          Again, as I said directly below the text you quoted, most merchants don’t require you to wait 10 minutes - only seconds.

                        2. 5

                          Then I would advise researching it.

                          It is exactly because I looked into the inner workings of Bitcoin and the Blockchain - as a proponent I have to mention - that I became more and more skeptical about it. And I still do support various decentralized and federated systems: BitTorrent, IPFS, (proper) HTTP, Email, … but just because the structure offers the possibility for a decentralized network, doesn’t have to mean that this potential is realized or that it is necessarily superior.

                          Not trying to be rude, but it’s clear whenever anyone makes this argument that they don’t know at all how our existing financial infrastructure works. In fact, it takes months for a credit card transaction to clear to anything resembling the permanence of a mined bitcoin transaction. Same story with credit cards.

                          The crucial difference being that, let’s say the cashier nearly instantaneously hears a some beep and knows that it isn’t his responsibility, nor that of the shop, to make sure that the money is transfered. The Bank, the credit card company or whoever has signed a binding contract lining this technical part of the process out to be what they have to care about, and if they don’t, they can be sued since there is an absolute regulatory instance - the state - in the background. This mutual delegation of trust, gives everyone a sense of security (regardless of how true or false it is) that makes people spend money instead of hording it, investing into projects instead of trading it for more secure assets. Add Bitcoins aforementioned volatileness, and no reasonable person would want to use it as their primary financial medium.

                          If you do want permanence, Bitcoin is infinitely superior to any popular payment mechanism.

                          I wouldn’t conciser 3.3 to 7 transactions per second infinitely superior to, for example Visa with an average of 1,700 t/s. Even it you think about it, there are far more that just 7 purchases being made a second around the whole world for this to be realistically feasible. But on the other side, as @friendlysock Bitcoin makes up for it by not having too many things you can actually buy with it: The region I live in has approximately a million or something inhabitants, but according to CoinMap even by the most generous measures, only 5 shops (withing a 30km radius) accepting it as a payment method. And most of those just offer it to promote themselves anyway.

                          Very interesting theory - do you think these strawmen you’ve put up have collective hundreds of billions of dollars? As an effort barometer, are you familiar with the CBOE?

                          (I prefer to think about my phrasing as a exaggeration and a handful of other literary deviced, instead of a fallacy, but never mind that) I’ll give you this: It has been a while since I’ve properly engaged with Bitcoin, and I was always more interested in the technological than the economical side, since I have a bit of an aversion towards libertarian politics. And it might be true that money is invested, but that still doesn’t change anything about all the other issues. It remains a bubble, a volatile, unstable, unpredictable bubble, and as it is typical for bubbles, people invest disproportional sums into it - which in the end makes it a bubble.

                          1. 0

                            The crucial difference being that, let’s say the cashier nearly instantaneously hears a some beep and knows that it isn’t his responsibility, nor that of the shop, to make sure that the money is transfered.

                            Not quite. The shop doesn’t actually have the money. The customer can revoke that payment at any time in the next 90 or 180 days, depending. Credit card fraud (including fraudulent chargebacks) is a huge problem for businesses, especially online businesses. There are lots of good technical articles online about combatting this with machine learning which should give you an idea of the scope of the problem.

                            makes people spend money instead of hording it,

                            Basically any argument of this form (including arguments for inflation) don’t really make sense with the existence of arbitrage.

                            Add Bitcoins aforementioned volatileness, and no reasonable person would want to use it as their primary financial medium.

                            So it sounds like it would make people… spend money instead of hoarding it, which you were just arguing for?

                            I wouldn’t conciser 3.3 to 7 transactions per second infinitely superior to, for example Visa with an average of 1,700 t/s.

                            https://lightning.network

                            as @friendlysock Bitcoin makes up for it by not having too many things you can actually buy with it

                            This is just patently wrong. The number of web stores that take Bitcoin directly is substantial (both in number and traffic volume), and even the number of physical stores (at least in the US) is impressive given that it’s going up against a national currency. How many stores in the US take even EUR directly?

                            Anything you can’t buy directly you can buy with some small indirection, like a BTC-USD forex card.

                            It remains a bubble, a volatile, unstable, unpredictable bubble

                            It’s certainly volatile, and it’s certainly unstable, but it may or may not be a bubble depending on your model for what Bitcoin’s role in global finance is going to become.

                            1. 5

                              Not quite. The shop doesn’t actually have the money. The customer can revoke that payment at any time in the next 90 or 180 days, depending

                              You’ve still missed my point - it isn’t important if the money has been actually transfered, but that there is trust that a framework behind all of this will guarantee that the money will be there when it has to be, as well as a protocol specifying what has to be done if the payment is to be revoked, if a purchase wishes to be undone, etc.

                              Credit card fraud (including fraudulent chargebacks) is a huge problem for businesses, especially online businesses.

                              Part of the reason, I would suspect is that the Internet was never made to be a platform for online businesses - but I’m not going to deny the problem, I’m certainly not a defender of banks and credit card companies - just an opponent of Bitcoin.

                              Basically any argument of this form (including arguments for inflation) don’t really make sense with the existence of arbitrage.

                              Could you elaborate? You have missed my point a few times already, so I’d rather we understand each other instead of having two monologues.

                              So it sounds like it would make people… spend money instead of hoarding it, which you were just arguing for?

                              No, if it’s volatile people either won’t buy into it in the first place. And if a currency is unstable, like Bitcoin inflating and deflating all the time, people don’t even know what do do with it, if it were their main asset (which I was I understand you are promoting, but nobody does). I doubt it will ever happen, since if prices were insecure, the whole economy would suffer, because all the “usual” incentives would be distorted.

                              https://lightning.network

                              I haven’t heard of this until you mentioned it, but it seems like it’s quite new, so time has to test this yet-another-bitcoin-related project that has popped up. Even disregarding that it will again need to first to make a name of it self, then be accepted, then adopted, etc. from what I gather, it’s not the ultimate solution (but, I might be wrong), especially since it seems to encourage centralization, which I believe is what you are so afraid of.

                              This is just patently wrong. The number of web stores that take Bitcoin directly is substantial (both in number and traffic volume),

                              Sure, there might be a great quantity of shops (as I mentioned, who use Bitcoin as a medium to promote themselves), but I, and from what I know most people, don’t really care about these small, frankly often dodgy online shops. Can I use it to pay directly on Amazon? Ebay? Sure, you can convert it back and forth, but all that means it that Bitcoin and other crypto currencies are just an extra step for life stylists and hipster, with no added benefit. And these shops don’t even accept Bitcoin directly, to my knowledge always just so they can convert it into their national currency - i.e. the one they actually use and Bitcoins value is always compared to. What is even Bitcoin without the USD, the currency it hates but can’t stop comparing itself to?

                              and even the number of physical stores (at least in the US) is impressive given that it’s going up against a national currency.

                              The same problems apply as I’ve already mentioned, but I wonder: have you actually ever used Bitcoin to pay in a shop? I’ve done it once and it was a hassle - in the end I just bought it with regular money like a normal person because it was frankly too embarrassing to have the cashier have to find the right QR code, me to take out my phone, wait for me got get an internet connection, try and scan the code, wait, wait, wait…. And that is of course only if you want to make the trip to buy for the sake of spending money, and decide to make a trip to some place you’d usually never go to buy something you don’t even need.

                              Ok when you’re buying drugs online or doing something with microdonations, but otherwise… meh.

                              How many stores in the US take even EUR directly?

                              Why should they? And even if they do, they convert it back to US dollars, because that’s the common currency - there isn’t really a point in a currency (one could even question if it is one), when nobody you economically interact with uses it.

                              Anything you can’t buy directly you can buy with some small indirection, like a BTC-USD forex card.

                              So a round-about payment over a centralized instance - this is the future? Seriously, this dishonesty of Bitcoin advocates (and Libertarians in general) is why you guys are so unpopular. I am deeply disgusted that I have ever advocated for this mess.

                              It’s certainly volatile, and it’s certainly unstable, but it may or may not be a bubble depending on your model for what Bitcoin’s role in global finance is going to become.

                              So you admit that is has none of the necessary preconditions to be a currency… but for some reason it will… do what exactly? If you respond to anything I mentioned here, at least tell me this: What is your “model” for what Bitcoin’s role is going to be?

                      3. 14

                        Why don’t you believe it is anti-enviromental? It certainly seems to be pretty power hungry. In fact it’s hunger for power is part of why it’s effective. All of the same arguments about using less power should apply.

                        1. -1

                          Trying to reduce energy consumption is counterproductive. Energy abundance is one of the primary driving forces of civilizational advancement. Much better is to generate more, cleaner energy. Expending a few terrawatts on substantially improved economic infrastructure is a perfectly reasonable trade-off.

                          Blaming bitcoin for consuming energy is like blaming almond farmers for using water. If their use of a resource is a problem, you should either get more of it or fix your economic system so externalities are priced in. Rationing is not an effective solution.

                          1. 10

                            on substantially improved economic infrastructure

                            This claim definitely needs substantiation, given that in practice bitcoin does everything worse than the alternatives.

                            1. -1

                              bitcoin does everything worse than the alternatives.

                              Come on David, we’ve been over this before and discovered that you just have a crazy definition of “better” explicitly selected to rule out cryptocurrencies.

                              Here’s a way Bitcoin is better than any of its traditional digital alternatives; bitcoin transactions can’t be busted. As you’ve stated before, you think going back on transactions at the whim of network operators is a good thing, and as I stated before I think that’s silly. This is getting tiring.

                              A few more, for which you no doubt have some other excuse for why this is actually a bad thing; Bitcoin can’t be taken without the user’s permission (let me guess; “but people get hacked sometimes”, right?). Bitcoin doesn’t impose an inflationary loss on its users (“but what will the fed do?!”). Bitcoin isn’t vulnerable to economic censorship (don’t know if we’ve argued about this one; I’m guessing you’re going to claim that capital controls are critical for national security or something.). The list goes on, but I’m pretty sure we’ve gone over most of it before.

                              I’ll admit that bitcoin isn’t a panacea, but “it does everything worse” is clearly a silly nonsensical claim.

                            2. 4

                              Reducing total energy consumption may or may not be counterproductive. But almost every industry I can name has a vested interest in being more power efficient for it’s particular usage of energy. The purpose of a car isn’t to burn gasoline it is to get people places. If it can do that with less gasoline people are generally happier with it.

                              PoW however tries to maximizes power consumption, via second order effects , with the goal of making it expensive to try to subvert the chain. It’s clever because it leverages economics to keep it in everyone’s best interest to not fork but it’s not the same as something like a car where reducing energy consumption is part of the value add.

                              I think that this makes PoW significantly different than just about any other use of energy that I can think of.

                              1. 3

                                Indeed. The underlying idea of Bitcoin is to simulate the mining of gold (or any other finite, valuable resource). By ensuring that an asset is always difficult to procure (a block reward every 10 minutes, block reward halving every 4 years), there’s a guard against some entity devaluing the currency (literally by fiat).

                                This means of course that no matter how fast or efficient the hardware used to process transactions becomes, the difficulty will always rise to compensate for it. The energy per hash calculation has fallen precipitously, but the number of hash calculations required to find a block has risen to compensate.

                          2. 6

                            We’ve been doing each a long time without proof of work. There’s lots of systems that are decentralized with parties that have to look out for each other a bit. The banking system is an example. They have protocols and lawyers to take care of most problems. Things work fine most of the time. There are also cryptographically-anchored trust systems like trusted timestamping and CA’s who do what they’re set up to do within their incentives. If we can do both in isolation without PoW, we can probably do both together without PoW using some combination of what’s already worked.

                            I also think we haven’t even begun to explore the possibilities of building more trustworthy charters, organizational incentives, contracts, and so on. The failings people speak of with centralized organizations are almost always about for-profit companies or strong-arming governments whose structure, incentives, and culture is prone to causing problems like that. So, maybe we eliminate root cause instead of tools root cause uses to bring problems since they’ll probably just bring new forms of problems. Regulations, disruption, or bans of decentralized payment is what I predicted would be response with some reactions already happening. They just got quite lucky that big banks like Bank of America got interested in subverting it through the legal and financial system for their own gains. Those heavyweights are probably all that held the government dogs back. Ironically, the same ones that killed Wikileaks by cutting off its payments.

                        2. 8

                          In what context do you view proof-of-work as useful?

                          1. 11

                            You have addressed 0 of the actual content of the article.

                          1. 8

                            Not even the static typing advocates really believe they can write correct code with less than 100% coverage, do they?

                            I certainly do. Depending on the nature of the unit tests you would otherwise write, it’s going to require a more aggressive type system than you’re used to, but this is totally within reach.

                            it’s mostly the static typing people who are picking the fights

                            If we consider what might motivate people to do this, the only obvious explanation is that static typing is, in fact, a lot better for a lot of things, and people who use static typing are acutely aware of this while people who use dynamic typing are only thinking “what’s the big deal?”.

                            (This is also a matter of degree; if you primarily use, say, Java, you’re probably not going to appreciate static types all that much.)

                            The author is using a cheap & dirty rhetorical technique, which is to make a bunch of dumb arguments that might trick some people, and then write off any criticism as “haha, just trolling!” when it doesn’t work. You can’t productively argue with someone if they’re just going to squirm their way out of any scrutiny.

                            1. 2

                              If we consider what might motivate people to do this, the only obvious explanation is that static typing is, in fact, a lot better for a lot of things, and people who use static typing are acutely aware of this while people who use dynamic typing are only thinking “what’s the big deal?”.

                              The other obvious explanation is that static typing doesn’t help very much and people who use static typing pick fights because they’re insecure. ;)

                              That’s why we can’t rely on “obvious explanations” when exploring causes, because the “obvious” explanation almost always is whatever confirms your own biases. That’s why we need rigorous, empirical evidence to match our claims. That’s one of the reasons Static vs Dynamic fights always go around in circles: we don’t actually have any good empirical evidence one way or another. It’s just people shouting “obvious” explanations at each other.

                              The author is using a cheap & dirty rhetorical technique, which is to make a bunch of dumb arguments that might trick some people, and then write off any criticism as “haha, just trolling!” when it doesn’t work. You can’t productively argue with someone if they’re just going to squirm their way out of any scrutiny.

                              That’s sorta the point in the article. These are cheap and dirty rhetorical techniques, but they’re the exact same techniques we use to argue whatever we do believe in. The only obvious (hah) way out is for us to do Empirical Software Engineering, which means actually objectively studying whatever it is we want to know.

                              Fun story: when MacIver posted this on Twitter somebody told him “You clearly don’t understand how powerful types are, you need to check out this thing called ‘QuickCheck’…”

                              1. 3

                                they’re the exact same techniques we use to argue whatever we do believe in

                                Where are static typing proponents saying “just trolling, bro”?

                              2. 2

                                if you primarily use, say, Java, you’re probably not going to appreciate static types all that much

                                I think the biggest issue I see when discussing type systems is exactly this. So many people think of Java when they think of static types – but Java (outside primitives) isn’t even statically typed it just has some static helpers for it’s dynamic tag system. On top of that, Java, C, C++, etc have such un-powerful type systems that they give the whole idea a bad name due to the popularity of their bad implementations.

                              1. 2

                                Anyone have a copy?

                                1. 2

                                  Just google “iboot github” and find a not-yet-dmcad link. Currently https://github.com/emrakul2002/iboot works.

                                  1. 1

                                    Apparently the original upload have been taken down, but there are more copies that can be easily searched at the same site. I would assume that a lot of people have copies by now…

                                  1. 4

                                    What changed in my reasoning?

                                    First of all, I’m working on other problems. Whereas I used to do a lot of work that was very easy to map to numpy operations (which are fast as they use compiled code), now I write a lot of code which is not straight numerics. And, then, if I have to write it in standard Python, it is slow as molasses. I don’t mean slower in the sense of “wait a couple of seconds”, I mean “wait several hours instead of 2 minutes.”

                                    So, basically, the author is solving problems Python isn’t good at. So, great - use another tool, Haskell or whatever. I do not see how this says anything useful or interesting about the language itself other than “Python is not optimized for solving numerical problems not addressed with numpy”

                                    1. 2

                                      Is Haskell well-optimized for numerical problems?

                                      1. 8

                                        It’s OK. The mainline compiler doesn’t have vectorization by default yet. See https://ghc.haskell.org/trac/ghc/wiki/SIMD/Implementation/Status . For some classes of numerical algorithms, you can expect performance on par with (unvectorized) C. For algorithms that are inherently mutation heavy, I generally find that making Haskell exactly as efficient as C removes many of the benefits of using Haskell in the first place. That’s fine for library writers but not great for end users.

                                        Haskell’s main strength wrt speed is that you can compose high-level things and the abstraction overhead will be unreasonably small. If you’re churning through gigabytes of data per second, you can write Haskell that’s almost as fast as really well optimized C for a small fraction of the effort. However, I wouldn’t really describe the problems this works well on as “numerical”. When I think of “numerical” I usually thing of lots of mutations on big matrices, for which I would rather use Numpy or something. Haskell’s good for many of the things numpy isn’t.

                                        1. 2

                                          I may be wrong but my understanding was that haskell does have library support for generalized stream fusion which gets very good performance without having to write particularly clever code.

                                          https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/haskell-beats-C.pdf?from=http%3A%2F%2Fresearch.microsoft.com%2Fen-us%2Fum%2Fpeople%2Fsimonpj%2Fpapers%2Fndp%2Fhaskell-beats-c.pdf

                                          1. 1

                                            That’s exactly what I meant by

                                            you can compose high-level things and the abstraction overhead will be unreasonably small

                                        2. 1

                                          Excellent question - I have zero idea. It’s compiled, right? So I’d think there’s more room for optimization there, but I dunno.

                                      1. 11

                                        I think I would have preferred the source code….

                                        1. 3

                                          I could go either way on this. On the one hand, our intellectual property laws are horrible, and the game is 20 yrs old, so who cares?

                                          But, on the other, I’d be pissed if I lost my camera and someone decided to dump the contents on imgur.

                                          I think the reason there is any debate around this is because the owner is a giant, and successful game corporation, which seemingly has nothing to lose from sharing the source. But if that were actually true, why wouldn’t they on their own terms?

                                          1. 9

                                            Many game publishers would rather have their game rot into obscurity and make no profits than share the code. Abandonware is so common these days. I think it’s mostly rooted in a bad theoretical perspective of how the software market works.

                                            1. 2

                                              According to an IP lawyer friend of mine, software companies are often afraid that if their source gets out it will more likely be discovered that they accidentally infringed someone else’s IP in ways they weren’t even aware of.

                                              1. 1

                                                This is the reason for most of the NDA’s in the hardware industry. It’s a patent minefield. Any FOSS hardware might get taken down. I don’t know as much about the software industry except that big players like Microsoft and Oracle patent everything they can. A quick Google looking for video game examples got me this article. Claims included in-game directions, d-pad, and unlocking secrets but I haven’t vetted this article’s claims by reading the patents or anything.

                                              2. 1

                                                Many game publishers would rather have their game rot into obscurity and make no profits than share the code.

                                                I think it comes down to thing, actually: Do you believe in the betterment of society (sharing), or do you believe in maximizing profits (greed)? In the last 20 years, we’ve seen this go from strictly white and black, to a full color spectrum. Blizzard, even Microsoft, are somewhere in the middle, but neither of them have shared much of their core, profit producing, products.

                                                I think it’s mostly rooted in a bad theoretical perspective of how the software market works.

                                                Can you clarify a bit? I think what you’re saying might be similar to what I’m thinking… that the media industries have not yet adapted from “copies” sold as a metric of success, despite tons of evidence and anecdotes suggesting other ways to success.

                                                1. 1

                                                  We’re saying the same thing yes. It’s hard for businesses to realize that price discrimination can go down to $0 and you can still make a hearty profit.

                                              3. 1

                                                I bet there’s a lot of code in there that’s still heavily used in their games today, so probably not accurate to say they have nothing to lose.

                                                1. 1

                                                  One would imagine! Though, the engines of 1998 vs. the engines of 2018 have probably changed quite significantly.

                                            1. -3

                                              authors of popular databases who discuss their sexist ideas openly, neo-reactionaries leading functional programming conferences.

                                              How dare people discuss controversial and offensive ideas openly? They should be forced underground so those ideas can fester without any external contradiction or moderation.

                                              And of course people with weird, icky politics should be censored from purely technical events. Who knows what kind of whacky fascist programming paradigms they might force on us otherwise?

                                              1. 29

                                                This is an incredibly bad faith excerpt to take out of context. The author was discussing doubts they had about attending the Recurse Center, and:

                                                A bigger part was the mission itself: “to get dramatically better at programming”. Did I even want to get better at programming?

                                                A lot of bad things in the world have been created by programmers: software for operating drones that bomb civilians, data-mining that violates privacy, companies that “disrupt” by dropping vast amounts of capital in to a market without any intention of building a sustainable business. A lot of bad people love programming: open source thought leaders who harbor deeply racist views, authors of popular databases who discuss their sexist ideas openly, neo-reactionaries leading functional programming conferences. The norms of programmer culture still revolve around using needless complexity as a cloak of wizardry.

                                                As @vyodaiken says, you’re demonstrating the toxic behavior the author is wary of.

                                                1. 5

                                                  This is such a misguided fear (even though the author says it wasn’t realized in reality anyway) - lot’s of bad people love mathematics, science and music too, it’s no reason to question the value of those pursuits.

                                                  1. 13

                                                    That’s the nature of fear. I don’t know how to interpret your comment except as a criticism for the author talking about something she honestly felt, then talking more about it later when the fear wasn’t realized. How is this a problem?

                                                    Tons of people worry about the impact of their work and whether they are on a path that is ultimately doing more good than harm for the world. Is the author not allowed to worry about that too? Is she not allowed to talk about it?

                                                    I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t understand what else your comment could be saying.

                                                    1. 0

                                                      It is more about me being puzzled by the train of thought. I understand wondering if programming is worthwhile, but I don’t understand how the actions of others have any relevance at all.

                                                      edit: I guess you could make the case harm is an inevitable outcome of programming.

                                                    2. 4

                                                      A misguided fear? The Recourse Center has designed social rules to prevent behavior we know is endemic in technical (and business) forums. The author appreciated the results of those rules. But she’s “misguided” ! In what way? Is it your contention that there is not an endemic toxic culture in tech forums? Are all those women just making it up? Is Yarvin’s hobby of smirking racism something we are obligated to ignore? How do you get to decide the validity of what other people experience?

                                                      1. 2

                                                        Misguided that the actions of others has bearing on your own personal value that can be derived.

                                                        1. 1

                                                          It has a bearing on whether I want to put up with it

                                                    3. 2

                                                      I wasn’t responding to that part of the article; I was responding to the part of the article I had an opinion on. What is your rule for when people are allowed to respond to things? Do they have to fully agree or disagree with the entire article first?

                                                    4. 17

                                                      And of course people with weird, icky politics should be censored from purely technical events. Who knows what kind of whacky fascist programming paradigms they might force on us otherwise?

                                                      How dare women suggest tech and especially programming is a potentially hostile environment one might not want to enter! Preposterous. It is just “locker room talk” for programmers! Either learn to deal with it or stay out of our tree house, you icky girl!

                                                      Why? Why would you focus on that sentence in a post full of great sentences about positive aspects of the Recurse Center?

                                                      1. 19

                                                        Reminds me of a quote from Lean Out

                                                        Women in tech are the canary in the coal mine. Normally when the canary in the coal mine starts dying you know the environment is toxic and you should get the hell out. Instead, the tech industry is looking at the canary, wondering why it can’t breathe, saying “Lean in, canary. Lean in!” When one canary dies they get a new one because getting more canaries is how you fix the lack of canaries, right? Except the problem is that there isn’t enough oxygen in the coal mine, not that there are too few canaries.

                                                        (from Sunny Allen’s essay What We Don’t Say)

                                                        1. 6

                                                          Lot’s of people have a knee jerk reaction because a lot of this stuff sounds like “remove undesirables from society/jobs/conferences”, and puts the power of who is undesirable into the hands of some questionable people.

                                                          It wasn’t the point of the post though, so i agree with you.

                                                          1. 8

                                                            Got another Lean Out quote for you cause they’re just so damn relevant. This one from Sexism in Tech by Katy Levinson.

                                                            In the least three years, I was asked not to use the words “sexism” or “racism” when speaking on a diversity panel because it might make the audience uncomfortable.

                                                            Which throws into especially stark relief wyager’s comment that sparked all of this discussion, since “both sides”[1] are equally worried about censorship. But one group actually gets to say racist, sexist, discriminatory stuff and remain in charge. The other can hardly speak on panels and post on their blogs without the whole world jumping down their throats.

                                                            So yeah, the knee jerk reaction you mention rings a little shallow to me.

                                                            [1] I know, “both sides” is highly misleading, but it captures the duality on display here.

                                                            1. 5

                                                              The other can hardly speak on panels and post on their blogs without the whole world jumping down their throats.

                                                              You mean like how people tried to ban Moldbug (presumably who the OP was talking about) from LambdaConf?

                                                              1. 4

                                                                With something akin to backchanneling over weird views on a blog totally unrelated to his behavior in conferences, too. Another I cited previously was Opalgate where a guy that didn’t agree with trans people on Twitter got hit by a storm of folks in his project wanting him ejected. They didn’t contribute anything to it like he regularly did but did demand it adopt all their political positions after ejecting its main contributor. The venom was intense with much talk of things like burning bridges and them trying to set him up to look like he supported child molestors or something.

                                                                And these are supposedly the oppressed people who have to worry about “the whole world jumping down on their throats.” The people who eject any folks who disagree with their beliefs from their own projects, conferences, and this thread. You and their other targets don’t look very powerful and oppressive from my vantage point. They were wielding more power in each of these circumstances.

                                                                1. 5

                                                                  You want people who Yarvin declares are inferior to politely accept his views? Why should they?

                                                                  1. 6

                                                                    We separate things based on context. In conferences, he had caused no trouble at that point. The reports at the time said he just went to give talks and be helpful. On his blog or personal life, he says or does things I don’t agree with. More than many others but still same thing: many people disagreeing with many things. I’d rather have him at the conference because I don’t ban people I disagree with. If he misbehaves at conferences, then we deal with him.

                                                                    My opponents have a different view. They think everyone should believe/do certain things and not believe/do other things. They should be compatible with those in every forum. If they aren’t in even one place, they are to be shamed in or ejected from every place. He was just one example of that behavior. He was an easy target since his crazy views wouldn’t bring lots of sympathy. In the Opal example, the project had been welcoming and nice to everyone with the violation being a maintainer’s actions on Twitter. Nothing stopped people from participating in the project and no evils were done in it. The maintainer did violate a rule of their politics in one public forum, though. So, an entire group of them hit that project, ordered the ejection of that member, ordered total compliance with their beliefs, trolled the hell out of them, and of course offered nothing to the project in code or other support.

                                                                    I’d rather stop that kind of stuff. It’s just domination rather than anything moral or productive. We can either let a small group of people enforce their arbitrary views on everyone with no discussion or dissent allowed like they desire. Alternatively, we accept everyone under rules the various groups have a consensus on where good things we agree on are encouraged and bad things are prohibited. That maximizes the overall good and productive things we do. That’s my stance. It’s also what we usually do at Lobsters. It’s also what most successful companies and democratic governments do. What my opponents who eject people at conferences ask for is more akin to a dictatorship or theocracy since discussion/dissent is considered evil to be punished.

                                                                    1. 7

                                                                      I have somewhat similar thoughts as you, but here’s a thought experiment for you that might help put some things in perspective. Let’s say you are running a conference. You are invested in it and hope for it to succeed, and you have some or all power in determining who is invited to speak. After the CFP ends, you like Foobar’s talk and invite them. Sometime later, you post the list of speakers. To your surprise, a lot of people are upset about Foobar’s invitation because Foobar maintains a very controversial blog that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

                                                                      You decide to stick to your guns. You definitely appreciate that Foobar expresses controversial views and understand that it makes a lot of other people uncomfortable, but you determine that since Foobar’s controversial views are not related to the conference topic, and therefore, they should still be allowed to speak. So you communicate this to all the would-be conference goers and other invited speakers.

                                                                      I think this is all pretty reasonable actually, although I do understand why some might object to this type of decision making on ethical grounds. But here’s the kicker. At this point, you hear back from N of the invited speakers and M of the people that would otherwise buy tickets. All of them feel strongly enough that they refuse to attend your conference.

                                                                      So here’s the question: how big does N and/or M need to be for you to retract your invite to Foobar? Are you so ethical as to allow the conference to fail? Or are you so pragmatic as to let it succeed? Perhaps a little of both?

                                                                      I think the point of this thought experiment is to demonstrate that morals/ethics aren’t necessarily the only thing at stake here. In particular, you could even be in violent agreement with Foobar but still rescind their invitation for practical reasons alone because you want the conference to succeed. I personally don’t have a strong answer to my thought experiment either, so this isn’t a “gotcha” by any means and probably more of a rhetorical proposition than anything else.

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        (Sorry for delay. I was getting overwhelmed between work, email, and foums exploding. Trying to reply to everyone.)

                                                                        Alright, before the thought experiment, I’ll note that the situation with that conference was a bit different per initial reports I read. The conference wasn’t experiencing a huge loss hinging on accepting or taking such people. Many people liked the presenters’ talks. Instead, a handful of political activists worked behind the scenes convince the people running it to eject a person they didn’t like regardless of what the conference thought. They probably said a lot of the same kinds of things, too, since an organizer would be receptive to them. This kind of behavior is a major reason I’m holding the line resisting the political or meta stuff such people want to work with.

                                                                        Alright, now to your exploration which is more than reasonable: it’s something I’ve worried about myself.

                                                                        “At this point, you hear back from N of the invited speakers and M of the people that would otherwise buy tickets. All of them feel strongly enough that they refuse to attend your conference.

                                                                        It really comes down to the philosophy of the organizers I guess. There’s a few routes they might take:

                                                                        1. Ideological. Do what’s perceived as right regardless. In this case, they should include their politics in their marketing to give clear signal of what’s expected. They should block or eject anyone not compatible even if the talk fails. The example you gave is one where the talk could fail. On other end, certain conferences in highly-liberal areas might fail if not doing enough to address their concerns like inclusive language.

                                                                        2. Impact and/or financial success. This philosophy says do what it takes to succeed financially or just in terms of conference activity. Nothing else matters. You gave one example where a conference might have to eject folks controversial among highly-liberal people to get attendees. I’ll also note this same rule would justify reinforcing ills of society like racism or sexism at conferences under “don’t rock the boat” concept. Lecturing or politicizing typical bunch of Silicon Valley or enterprise developers, esp the privileged males, will only irritate them with lost sales. This priority is a double-edged sword.

                                                                        3. In the middle. The great thing about real life is most stuff is a spectrum with tradeoffs. That’s the hard thing but also good here. An example is an organizer might set ground rules that reduce bad behavior instead of force politics front and center. Another example is ignoring diversity or bad behavior on the sales team at conferences or in meetings for enterprise segment to drive up sales since buyers often want to know their partners are “like them” or some crap. Whereas, the backend, developers or community side, can be really diverse without the haters even knowing they’re supporting an organization that heavily invests in developming minority talent. This is one of my hypothetical schemes rather than something I’ve observed outside Fortune 500 trick of having immigrants doing lots of work in background.

                                                                        So, I see some possibilities here where the conference organizers’ priorities seem to be the biggest factor in whether they should accept or block someone. They might block some but not others depending on level of extremism. They might rule exclusively on behavior instead of beliefs. The crowd they’re serving might like behaviors like sexism or hate it with serving the crowd being morally context-sensitive.

                                                                        I write off top of my head for honesty. I wrote that before I got to your last paragraph. I was about to say I don’t really have an answer for you past the conditional framing above. Too dependent on circumstances or whose in control. Seems you didn’t have one either, though. It is a very important consideration, though, since conferences are usually created to accomplish specific things instead of brag they were compatible with ideology of a person or group. Most of them anyway.

                                                                      2. 4

                                                                        My opponents have a different view. They think everyone should believe/do certain things and not believe/do other things. They should be compatible with those in every forum.

                                                                        It is possible that there is a belief, or set of beliefs, which are sufficiently sociopathic that they disqualify people who hold them from a platform in any context? Is there some value for X that if someone publicly and explicitly said “X” you would refuse to support them in any way?

                                                                        I hope it’s uncontroversial that the answer to both of those questions should be “yes”. In making that affirmation we’ve established that the set of things exists. Now the discussion shifts to which things belong in the set. Reasonable people can make reasonable arguments for this or that belief. I think it’s completely understandable that Moldbug’s feudalist racism would cross the threshold for a lot of reasonable people.

                                                                        Put more succinctly: a society isn’t obligated to give a platform to the intolerant in deference to the abstract right of free expression. Rather the opposite: a society is made better through a vigorous assault on intolerance, in whatever form it blossoms.

                                                                        1. 2

                                                                          You might separate things by context but I don’t. People are not compartments. You might think other people should separate by context and not consider that e.g X is a holocaust denier when X speaks on functional programming. Great but don’t dare demand I do the same. That would be super presumptuous. BTW you appear to believe some organized group is after you. I’m unaware of any such group.

                                                                          1. 1

                                                                            e.g X is a holocaust denier when X speaks on functional programming. Great but don’t dare demand I do the same.

                                                                            I always challenge people who say that to list all of their political beliefs on the major topics that provoke controversy somewhere to link in their profile. We’ll just link it before any comment they make so the person replying can see the entire political spectrum of who they’re talking to plus what they’re saying in that moment as one thing. Then, like you said, they can want to interact with that person in their entirety or ignore all value they may have contributed over one thing they didn’t like. I think we should heed Richelieu’s warning instead.

                                                                            “BTW you appear to believe some organized group is after you. I’m unaware of any such group.”

                                                                            I just cited a few. The Yarvin thing was a small group of political activists trying to get rid of someone they didn’t like in a shady way. The Opal scandal was Ehmke’s posse pummeling that project on Github with no problems within it. Ehmke’s been in quite a few of these with an openly-stated mission to force her brand of politics (“social justice”) in every forum using her Code of Conduct as leverage. Two people involved in those actions are active in this forum with both voting for a similar CoC here. Ehmke later griped about the hate she and her white-hating buddies receive online and at Github saying it was because she’s trans rather than shoving her politics down the throats of everyone she meets. I particularly loved how they bragged about hiring “token, white people” on their team. Nobody could even joke about that if they said black. Anyway, I called Ehmke out on that submission for trying to pretend her politics had nothing to do with it. Then, some organized group was after me with the community at least being more impressive in how that was handled than most forums those kind of people hit.

                                                                            (Edit to emphasive these are loosely-organized, small groups that know how to say the right things hitting people not usually expecting it or knowing how to react. They create PR nightmares with passive-aggressive sophistry, basically.)

                                                                            So, yeah, there’s definitely organized groups doing the exact thing I’m worried about with some here that have done it on previous forums. They always prop up the rules they use as leverage by saying they’re just trying to stop discrimination or hate speech but (a) they get to define what is or isn’t and (b) their own actions are quite discriminatory against other groups with inconsistent enforcement. Even minority members that disagree with them get hit as happened on HN same week where I got slowbanned for quoting women disagreeing with women. Give them an inch in a new place, they’ll take a mile. I’m not giving them an inch.

                                                                            Note: There’s plenty of similar stuff happening at college campuses across the states, too. A lot of folks doing this sort of thing come out of them. Hard to combat since dissenting speech is considered hate speech or otherwise put down.

                                                                            1. 5

                                                                              That’s not a challenge, it is an example of sealioning. I don’t have any obligation to provide you with an algorithm or to be consistent or to satisfy your sense of what’s right. My right to not read Pound’s poetry because he was a fascist or to read Celine’s early work because it is so eloquent even though he became a fascist, or to refuse to attend a conference where Yarvin speaks or to prefer the rules of Recourse center doesn’t depend on your stamp of approval. Sophie didn’t make any demands of you. On the contrary, you are demanding that she not express opinions that make you uncomfortable. Get over yourself. Go explain why Yarvin’s work is so damn great that you don’t care that he’s a smirking racist or cheer for the pseudo-science of the Google Manifesto all you want. You have the right to speak. You do not have the right to demand others approve or refrain from criticizing or even shunning you.

                                                              2. -1

                                                                Why would you focus on that sentence

                                                                Because I didn’t have anything to say about the other ones. Do you think I’m obligated to address every sentence in an article if I want to address any of them?

                                                              3. 7

                                                                The fact that we almost know who she was talking about proves that they can currently discuss these ideas openly mostly fine.

                                                                So these people express their opinions, and others are like “well now I don’t want to talk to them”. If you(*) want to barrage people with your unpopular opinions, people will stop wanting to hang out with you .

                                                                I understand the fear of being shut out of social events like conferences. But they’re social events, so if you make yourself unliked… No amount of rulemaking will solve that, I think.

                                                                The bad faith logical inverse if your argument is “everyone should be friends with everyone. No matter how much disagreement with social issues are present, someone should always be allowed to be present. This includes allowing to bully other members of the community without repurcussions ever.”

                                                                It’s the bad faith interpretation, but one that some people will make.

                                                                (*) Impersonal you

                                                                1. 5

                                                                  “So these people express their opinions, and others are like “well now I don’t want to talk to them”. “

                                                                  These people express opinions but want anyone disagreeing to shut up. That’s been present in replies on most threads here where people did. Allowing only one side to speak while defining any disagreement as an attack or hate is political domination.

                                                                  “This includes allowing to bully other members of the community without repurcussions ever.””

                                                                  There’s the word games your side is famous for. vyodaiken did it earlier redefining a rhetorical disagreement as an attack on one side but not the rhetoric of the other side that painted everyone without qualification with negative labels. In your case, the people whose politics I oppose here regularly define any disagreement as hate speech, offensive, bullying, behaviors not to be tolerated, and so on. Not all of them do but many do. You all redefine the words from the neutral, tolerable thing they are (eg disagreement or political bickering) to a new word we all have a consensus against (eg bullying, hate speech). Then, you’re arguments for action focus on the new word with its meaning whereas what was actually going on is a lesser offense which wouldn’t be justified.

                                                                  So, what people supporting Sophie actually want is anyone on their side able to express their opinions without disagreement and without repurcussions ever. Whereas, anyone disagreeing with it is automatically labeled as something far worse, dismissed immediately, and for some ejected if allowed by rules. That’s always worth fighting against even if wyager’s parody was as poor a wording strategy as Sophie’s own overly-broad, only-negative portrayal of programmers.

                                                                  1. 3

                                                                    She never advocated censorship. She never said “most programmers” or “all programmers”. So your response is obviously not directed at her words but at something else.

                                                                    1. 1

                                                                      as Sophie’s own overly-broad, only-negative portrayal of programmers.

                                                                      Again, this is an opinion unsupported by the data. The examples were specific, and real. The concerns are non-trivial, and real. You’re making something about you that isn’t about you.

                                                                      1. 0

                                                                        That’s always worth fighting against even if wyager’s parody was as poor a wording strategy as Sophie’s own overly-broad, only-negative portrayal of programmers.

                                                                        wyager is arguing that people with bad values should be allowed space in public or in others’ private spaces, which is a bad value. Majority supremacists, patriarchal maximalists, authoritarians, etc. should not be allowed safe spaces, and should never be accommodated.

                                                                        From your characterizations of the author’s post and how they portrayed programmers, it’s clear you’ve either not read it and are arguing from ignorance, or you have read it and are arguing in bad faith, since the passage is clearly contextualized as part of explaining an internal struggle about how best to grow as a human being.

                                                                        1. 4

                                                                          From your characterizations of the author’s post and how they portrayed programmers, it’s clear you’ve either not read it and are arguing from ignorance, or you have read it and are arguing in bad faith

                                                                          I’ve read it. Part of learning a field and growing as a human being is a fair assessment of what’s going on in it good and bad. Author’s concerns in that section solely focus on the bad… the worst of it actually… with the people side being like talking points out of one part of a political debate. Outside of those, I usually see a wide range of claims about programmers, jobs, effects on world, etc. Author is setting up false, strictly-negative premises in either ignorance or bad faith, maybe even unintentionally due to bias, then struggling to work from within the moral straight-jacket she put on. Totally unnecessary if starting from a more accurate worldview that includes the positive and neutral people and programs.

                                                                          Note that I liked all the stuff about RC in the article. I enjoyed the article right up to that point. I just mentally deleted that part so I could just think about the rest which was most important parts. As in, more corroboration and anecdotal evidence in favor of RC visits. Then, the debate started.

                                                                          1. 1

                                                                            Note that I liked all the stuff about RC in the article. I enjoyed the article right up to that point. I just mentally deleted that part so I could just think about the rest which was most important parts.

                                                                            I feel like you’re attempting to speak in good faith, so I’m going to do the same.

                                                                            This point I’ve highlighted here, that you “just mentally deleted that part”, is an example of privilege in action*. You have never had your life or well-being threatened by people or organizations like the ones the author calls out, and you have never had to be concerned with whether or not they were active or influential in the spaces you inhabited. Other people are not so lucky, and have learned from difficult experience that they need to be aware of their surroundings and who might be in them, or else they may be injured or otherwise harmed.

                                                                            Some people, especially those who come from outside the main software development industries, have heard only that IT/tech has a huge problem with sexism and toxic masculine culture. Some people are members of the marginalized groups whose well-being is directly threatened by the personal values of community leaders of some of the popular software communities, as named by the author of the post. The Recurse Center attracts a lot of people from diverse and non-technical backgrounds, and many of those people share the concerns that the author had, and would appreciate having them explicitly dispelled with regards to RC, as the author did.

                                                                            So the least that those with privilege, like you and I have, can do, is not make it harder for those less fortunate to engage with the playground we have (programming) that also gives us power and status. It’s bad form to raise barriers against those with a harder lot in life than we have. These kinds of messages, from “the other side” as it were to those people who might be afraid of what they’ll find when they get there, are super important. And it’s not about you, or me, or anyone here, unless they’re part of the problem. It’s for other people like the author or who might be thinking about getting into a tech career by applying to RC, but who have heard the industry has some problems.

                                                                            *) note that you have this privilege, even if you are not privileged in other ways (eg, you were born into a poor family, etc.). life is complicated.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              Since you’re being in good faith, do read this next like I’m just bluntly saying something instead of losing my shit or being loud. ;)

                                                                              “You have never had your life or well-being threatened by people or organizations like the ones the author calls out, and you have never had to be concerned with whether or not they were active or influential in the spaces you inhabited. “

                                                                              You’re assuming I don’t understand the concept because I’m presumably white male. My first school experience was being attacked or mocked because I was a “nerd.” All but a few people excluded us which happened varying degrees whole time in school. That included “minorities.” They all do to nerds what they claim others do to them, including violence by alpha males but not police. They might interrogate or arrest them if something happened involving computers if said nerd is known programmer or hacker.

                                                                              Next, I was white in a black-run, mostly-black school where they added to mockery or exclusion the fact that we were shouted down if disagreeing with any issue (especially racial) plus randomly attacked. I doubt most of these people talking about their minority concerns have been held down on a bus while black people take turns beating them with the smirking driver not reporting it. Attempts like that were too common for me until I learned kickboxing and paranoid vigilance, esp wide turns around corners. Still had to dodge fights due to rule white people can’t be allowed to win against black people either at all or too much. Varied. My friends and brothers who went to other black schools endured the same where just bending over a water fountain could be too much vulnerability. I avoided bathroom stalls, too, after seeing what that led to.

                                                                              I also got to be a man in places run by women who favored women. Essentially, whoever stayed in their good graces talking about what they talked about, being an insider, laughing at anti-male jokes, and so on had more privileges in those places. That would benefit grades, get more work hours, increase odds of promotion, even get some guys laid with those opposing sexism shamed. Unlike women on average, it’s been a while since I dealt with that but happening again in my current company. Highly-political, card-playing woman took over a specific department I was almost transfered to. After exit-interviewing her ex-employees, I blocked transfer fast before expected changes happened: she hired mostly black folks like her (esp exploitable youth), promoted only the older black women exactly like her kissing up instead of mix of races/genders who outperformed them, and politics over performance further destroyed that departments’ numbers with them saying nonsense about why. Current team is good with mix of straight/gay/lesbian, white/black, and liberal/moderate/redneck. Usually fun, interesting group with occasional in-fighting due to differences all apologize for after.

                                                                              That covers structural racism and sexism which the type of politics I fight denies even exists for whites or men despite supporting data. We get no help. What about “neo-reacitonary?” Well, I am an outspoken liberal and Union man who defends decent Muslims and calls out police corruption on the side in the rural South deep in Trump, meth, and capitalist country. Interesting enough, one insult they fling at me here is probable Hillary supporter while people I argue with on liberal forums assume I’m a right-winger. Biases… Being outspoken in rural spots led me to have to negotiate with people intent on beating or killing me right there if I got too many words wrong. Rare people but non-passive outsiders will run into them. Most online “activists” on social media talk about threats which I find are folks talking shit online or with prank calls that don’t on these issues result in hospitalizations or anything almost ever. Just irritating trolling by jerks shielded by anonymity. Pales in comparison to what even a trip for groceries can cost a white person in impoverished areas in or around Memphis, TN. The First 48 was banned from there over too much stuff to cover. Some police are gang members, too, so gotta act in a way to reduce risk of their attention.

                                                                              Since you admitted it, you might have privilege of growing up as or hanging with white people that didn’t face racism, sexism, or drug heads’ threats on regular basis. Lot of us in poor areas, minority-controlled areas, areas of opposing politics, isolated areas… these are some where many say they have similar experiences to me. We find it strange people “speaking for oppressed” as they might say ignore existence of probably millions of us due to skin color or gender. Especially rural whites given their high rates of both drug addiction and suicide, too. My friends and family have had to fight those.

                                                                              Alright, what about someone like Sophie or I who are concerned with environments where we might be facing racists or sexists that hate our group? Well, I agree with you entirely that it can be reassuring to see someone bringing that up saying it doesn’t happen at a specific location. Going from an all-black school to a mixed school where they didn’t hate us was… it was heaven. We had fun together! Likewise, groups with fair/excellent women or being around civil Southerners who only get X-ist if explicitly talking politics. I’d definitely want to know every place or group where I could avoid groups I mentioned first in favor of others if that was best I could hope for.

                                                                              That said, remember how it started was exclusively portraying the field based on worst of the worst. I don’t do that. Since we’re at that point, I’ll tell you the violent people I met were single digit percentage of each area, the negative bias was huge, there were coping mechanisms to get me past some of it, there were neutral/decent people, and some were so fair or good they inspired me to be more skilled or tough. If I talk about a field, I try not to throw them under the bus entirely or I take the counterpoint I had coming for screwing up due to emotion winning or whatever. You’ll see that in programming with C or PHP languages where I’m a strong opponent but don’t pretend they’re 100% bad even if many developers do damage. Likewise, following my politics, I’m still getting along with and exchanging tips with specific Lobsters who were strongly opposing me in prior political debates.

                                                                              So, what she was doing isn’t the only way to respond. It was a weaker, overly-broad, politically-charged claim that got low-value reactions followed by a whole battle that distracted from her main points. She set her post up to fail to quite a degree. I’d have told her to be more fair and accurate since bringing politics in is putting a spotlight and a metaphorical scope on you. The negative responses left over would have to be haters or themselves prioritizing some politics. Easy to dismiss when they have little to no ground to stand on. Those of us in minority positions unfairly have to be careful about our claims since they’ll get more scrutiny and attack.

                                                                              Since she probably made up her mind, I just mentally deleted it like I trained myself to do when saying something to that person won’t change their views IRL. Focus on good, shrug off perceived bad if not an intentional attack, and go on from there. It’s how we integrate and survive down here in our powder keg of diversity. Works fine, too, with most of us getting along well enough. :)

                                                                              “These kinds of messages, from “the other side” as it were to those people who might be afraid of what they’ll find when they get there, are super important.”

                                                                              This I disagree on if they’re aiming to affect policy or law anywhere. I’ve already seen it happen in many places with ultra-liberal universities being good examples. In those, allowing it to go too far without participation shifted power to those groups. Those groups built on their politics and power until they regularly belittle whites or males in various ways. They also try to silence disagreement on political issues saying it’s not about them. Well, if we stand to lose anything (even rep or jobs) by decree, then it is about us and we should at least weigh in. I don’t gripe about the reasonable stuff where each person has a view they can state, chance at the job, etc. I’m usually backing it.

                                                                          2. 2

                                                                            I’m sure all the people hit with the bad value hammer will disappear into the ether once you get your (apparently unauthoritarian) way.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              Your false equivalence, that being intolerant of intolerance and hatred, is also cowardly stated using passive aggressive style, as well as sarcasm. That is, you are acting like a coward, lest I be accused of not speaking my point forcefully enough.

                                                                              1. 0

                                                                                I find passive aggressive sarcasm allows for remarkable concision, but whatever. I don’t respect you and your group as the arbiters of good and bad values and all people like you have done is make me care substantially less about being labeled a patriarchal maximalist or whatever you’d like. Many people I know feel similarly. We’re not going to leave the field if you succeed in banning us from the recurse center

                                                                                1. 0

                                                                                  Hey, have fun hanging out with Nazis, then.

                                                                                  1. 0

                                                                                    Enjoy weilding whatever power that label still has while it has any at all.

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      I don’t want to wield power. I want to not be around assholes. Are you really saying you’d rather hang out with white supremacists and gamergater pigs, than take a stand and say, “Those values are not welcome?” How is this even a question?

                                                                      2. 12

                                                                        Great illustration of what she wanted to avoid.

                                                                        1. 8

                                                                          I don’t get why people don’t want to talk about this? I don’t necessarily agree with wyager, but this type of discourse is pretty healthy IMO. It’s precisely why I prefer this site to HN, because that comment would surely have been censored by the moderators.

                                                                          1. 5

                                                                            It’s also completely off topic in the context, which is about using programming for good, and it’s really obnoxiously phrased to boot. Which does matter.

                                                                            1. 6

                                                                              In your opinion it is obnoxious, I didn’t find it so bad, but maybe that is just me.

                                                                              1. 16

                                                                                Obnoxious is a bit subjective, but his comment is destructive (as opposed to constructive), and that’s an objective observation.

                                                                                How dare people discuss controversial and offensive ideas openly?

                                                                                This is sarcastic and demeaning.

                                                                                They should be forced underground so those ideas can fester without any external contradiction or moderation.

                                                                                Sarcastic and a strawman.

                                                                                And of course people with weird, icky politics should be censored from purely technical events.

                                                                                Sarcastic and a strawman.

                                                                                Who knows what kind of whacky fascist programming paradigms they might force on us otherwise?

                                                                                Sarcastic and a strawman.

                                                                                Here is a what a more honest, direct version of the post would be:

                                                                                I think people should be allowed to express controversial and offensive ideas openly. Otherwise, they’re pushed underground where they fester, instead of being brought out into the light where they are exposed to moderation and contradiction.

                                                                                But that wasn’t the comment we got, and for good reason. The more direct version wouldn’t be posted because it is immediately obvious that it isn’t related to this topic. The response to it might be

                                                                                The author is just talking about what makes her uncomfortable in most programming community spaces, and why the Recurse center was so valuable for her. She isn’t making an argument or saying you need to feel the same way.

                                                                                Thus it is clear that the comment, even in a less caustic form, isn’t particularly relevant. I mean, look at the originally quoted snippet in wyager’s post: it’s just a list of facts.

                                                                                1. 0

                                                                                  “controversial and offensive” is a fluid social contract that changes with audience and context. The big problem is nobody can ever agree on what is controversial and offensive. At the same time people’s nuanced opinions are routinely caricatured as the most extreme version (in both directions, and I’m guilty of it too) then paraded on social media to people with no context.

                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                    I try my best to avoid the words controversial and offensive. Constructive and destructive are less weighed down with baggage and relativity (though there is always room for people to mess with words). Constructive moves the conversation forward. Destructive moves it backwards.

                                                                                    At the same time people’s nuanced opinions are routinely caricatured as the most extreme version […] then paraded on social media.

                                                                                    Yeah, I’m a bit detached from it since I don’t use Twitter or Facebook, this being a primary reason. It’s a good example of destructive conversation. Nobody ever learns from it, nothing really improves.

                                                                                  2. -5

                                                                                    I’m very sorry I didn’t use the exact rhetorical style you were hoping for. In the future I will avoid using sarcasm and any other rhetorical technique that you don’t like is “destructive”.

                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                      God forbid you say what you mean.

                                                                                      Come off it, you know it isn’t about what I happen to prefer. If you don’t know better, then you should.

                                                                                2. 3

                                                                                  Hm, I suppose it did completely derail this thread

                                                                              2. 10

                                                                                I doubt it. She’s making political points in the post instead of just talking about good things at Recurse Center. She’s putting it front and center in people’s minds as they read. Anyone reading it deserves to respond to that. That automatically means a thread might get political. It’s definitely her intention.

                                                                                Predictably, someone responded to it with thread turning to the tangent. Ive had enough politics for the week, though. So, just pointing out the obvious that statements like hers with accusations against a bunch of programmers or political statements will definitely get a reaction. She couldve got the points across without that but wanted it political.

                                                                                1. 10

                                                                                  She’s not allowed to talk about politics? She makes a fairly common point: she finds the environment around programming often unpleasant or hostile and she wanted to avoid that. So she did. Many people, including myself, are put off by people who sound like that Google Memo person or worse and try to avoid it. If that makes other people uncomfortable, that’s too bad.

                                                                                  1. 8

                                                                                    wyager is allowed to counter her politics if she is going to bring it up. It’s not “what she was trying to avoid.” It’s what she or anyone else should expect saying what she did. All Im saying.

                                                                                    Your initial comment read like one should be able to make negative, political characterizations of programmers with no reply expected.

                                                                                    1. 10

                                                                                      I guess for me it’s not who’s “allowed” to “counter” things or not, but is this actually a useful discussion? The comment reads to me as a wordy way of saying “I disagree with your politics”, which, ok, but what does that add? When I read the original post I could already guess some people would disagree, sure. A person doesn’t have to reply to every in-passing comment they disagree with on the internet. It wasn’t even the main point of the post!

                                                                                      I’ve noticed more discussions here lately being sort of tangential sniping threads. I posted an article a few weeks ago and the entire discussion was a thread about whether people like PDFs. Ok, fine, but I posted a research paper, and the fact that you don’t like PDFs isn’t really on-topic, novel, or interesting. And then there was one last week where someone didn’t like that the title of an article ended with a question mark. I think we could use less of that kind of thing.

                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                        I’ve noticed more discussions here lately being sort of tangential sniping threads. I posted an article a few weeks ago and the entire discussion was a thread about whether people like PDFs.

                                                                                        I agree with this. It happens in political threads so much I voted against politics in meta. I can’t overemphasize that since, yet again, one disagreement with a political point in a submission created another situation like this. I basically just represent the dissenting side if they’re getting dogpiled or call out double standards when people pretend it’s about logic or civility rather than politics.

                                                                                        I totally agree, though, about the sniping thing with me preferring some kind of rule against it if not politics in general. Maybe in addition to. It should make for a quality improvement. I’m still fine with tangents, though, so long as they’re adding insight to a discussion like the meta stuff I try to do connecting sub-fields.

                                                                                      2. 7

                                                                                        But he didn’t counter her politics, he attacked her. She didn’t call for suppressing anyone’s speech. She simply said she found a certain common mode of speech in tech, a mode I find offensive too, to be unpleasant and wanted to avoid it. There is no sensible way to take issue with that.

                                                                                        1. 7

                                                                                          She said this about programming:

                                                                                          “A lot of bad things in the world have been created by programmers: software for operating drones that bomb civilians, data-mining that violates privacy, companies that “disrupt” by dropping vast amounts of capital in to a market without any intention of building a sustainable business. A lot of bad people love programming: open source thought leaders who harbor deeply racist views, authors of popular databases who discuss their sexist ideas openly, neo-reactionaries leading functional programming conferences. “

                                                                                          She painted a picture of programming as if it was mostly bad things done by bad people. She painted the picture that people going to thought leaders, doing database work, or getting involved in functional programming were only going to be dealing with the worst. You’d think the profession was one of most horrible ever invented reading that stuff. Don’t ask that she properly qualify that: take her word for it without any of your own comments or reactions. She is attacking most programmers with a programmer, @wyager, reacting to that statement.

                                                                                          When a man here said something similarly negative about tech industry, several of us countered him pointing out how he was vastly overstating the problem projecting the worst groups onto the average or majority in a way that was unfair to them. Like her, he exclusively considered the bad things and people in tech when judging the field instead of the vast amount of decent or productive things programmers have done many of whom were OK people. We also suggested maybe he avoid the worst if we couldn’t get rid of them since they were ultimately unnecessary to interact with being a drop in the bucket of the many people and resources out there. I don’t remember all these people being there supporting his view shocked anyone disagreed with him. This one was a woman with different set of politics. Let’s see what happened.

                                                                                          So, wyager responds with a political comment that looks very motivated by emotion lacking qualifiers, consideration to others, or evidence much like Sophie’s. While Sophie’s ad hominem is allowed to stand, you imply his rhetoric shouldn’t be present at all. @jules deconstructs his aiming for purely logical or information content with some strawman which was not done to Sophie’s (or most here with similar viewpoints). @mjn said it was not adding anything new which was true about Sophie’s (or most here with similar viewpoints). These replies are exclusively given to people whose politics each person disagrees with but not people doing same things whose politics each agrees with. They’re held to a lesser standard. So, rather than it being what it appears, these comments aren’t really about addressing civility, information vs rhetorical content, and so on. You all mostly ignore those attributes for comments supporting your type of views while downvoting for opposite naturally leads to dominance of your side in those threads. As in, it’s political maneuvering by folks of one type of views against another rather than quality assurance with any consistency.

                                                                                          Here’s a few where those writing thought wyager and others disagreeing were supposed to nod saying it makes sense with what happens next being too ironic and obvious:

                                                                                          “How dare women suggest tech and especially programming is a potentially hostile environment one might not want to enter!” (fwg) (my emphasis added)

                                                                                          “But one group actually gets to say racist, sexist, discriminatory stuff and remain in charge. The other can hardly speak on panels and post on their blogs without the whole world jumping down their throats.” (jules) (emphasis added)

                                                                                          “I’m not allowed to respond about politics?” (wyager)

                                                                                          “I missed the part where anyone asked for you to be deprived of that right.” (vyodaiken)

                                                                                          You must have missed yourself and the others basically telling him to shut up, the downvotes adding up by a vocal minority, and wyager’s thread collapsing into oblivion where it isn’t seen unless we expand it. Quite unlike most low-info-content, political comments here that are in favor of view’s like Sophie’s not disappearing. Doesn’t look like Sophie or other women with her views would be facing the “hostile environment” with “censorship” and people “deprived” of the right to speak. That contrived scenario is instead what people that agree with her were doing to others who express themselves in a similarly low-evidence, rhetorical way like Sophie or some of their crowd, but with different views. Some of these talk about how everyone is out to get people on their side of spectrum in the same thread where they disappear their opponents’ claims. As opposed to just disagreeing or discussing. Then, they defend the low-quality, repetitive, rhetorical statements of people like Sophie on the same threads since they agree with their views.

                                                                                          Gotta love politically-motivated double standards for discourse that exclusively benefit one side. Also, people talking about how folks on their side have a lot to worry about as sub-threads their opponents make sink and disappear with some clicks. That’s just too rich in reality distortion.

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                                                                                            You are completely inverting what is happening. Sophie Haskins wrote her opinion. A lot of people here are apparently very angry and want her to shut up. They position their arguments as if she argued for censorship which is a lie and are attempting to shout her down. If you disagree with her opinions, you could say: “My experience is that most programmers are nice” or “It doesn’t matter to me if people who have interesting technical ideas are racists” or otherwise - you know - disagree. But you are not doing that. Instead you are offended that she expressed her opinion and are inventing this whole oppressive regime that wants to suppress your opinions. There is a difference between freedom of speech and impunity. If people want to express racist opinions, for example, they don’t have a right to have other people applaud or pass over in silence or even listen to them. This is exactly the issue of the Google Memo. Its author is free to proclaim all sorts of men’s rights and racist claptrap on his own time, but he has no right to either have his coworkers refrain from reacting to it or have his employer decide that offensive speech in the workplace is ok. The toxic atmosphere of many tech forums is a reality. You should make an effort to understand what Sophie Haskins actually wrote instead of leading a Crusade for the right to be socially acceptable while denigrating others.

                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                              “You are completely inverting what is happening. Sophie Haskins wrote her opinion.”

                                                                                              Her opinion did not happen in isolation. You yourself mentioned that along with some other people. She is part of a group of people that are concerned with and speaking out about bad actors in tech. That’s all I’m certain about right now. Instead of being fair as you expect of me, she paints an exclusively-negative picture of tech’s contributions and the kind of people in it. As she wonders/worries aloud, what she describes is pretty far from reality of a diverse field with all kinds of people in it that mostly don’t do horrible stuff. Majority just support businesses that provide some value to consumers in the economy. Many are also volunteers in FOSS on code or communities. Many other writers whose work was submitted, including about every woman, had a more balanced view in their writing. The exceptions were those all-in on a specific brand of politics that frames tech in terms of race and gender. She writes more like them.

                                                                                              “Instead you are offended”

                                                                                              I’m neither offended, nor did I reply to her. I countered you, not her. I discussed other things as people brought them up. People like her trash-talking whole fields is something people do all the time in many ways. I don’t get offended so much as roll my eyes just to maintain peace of mind if nothing else. Whereas, people expecting nobody to reply to or counter a false, negative claim does concern me. That’s allowing one side to discuss but suppressing another in a place where that can define community norms. I often get involved when that happens. All I was doing initially before other claims appeared.

                                                                                              Now, you’re talking about racism, denigration, etc that we shouldn’t tolerate. The first to do that was Sophie in her unfair characterization of the field. If you think that’s unfair perception, then you can test if that kind of comment is acceptable to people with opposing views in this thread by going to any forum where they’re dominant submitting this version of Sophie’s claims: a white male is concerned about about going to a workplace, conference, or CompSci courses at specific colleges because “there are some bad programmers” who “hate men” behind filesystem development, “hate whites” organizating at major colleges, and support “radical views” leading community teams of major projects. Each of these people exist in the field with groups of people backing them who will shout down or eject opponents within their area of influence. So, the person you’ll ghost-write as is a non-radical, friendly, white male who is concerned about getting into programming should they run into those people they’ve read about. They just worded it like Sophie did in their context.

                                                                                              What do you think would happen? We can guess based on prior replies to claims like that. Detractors would show up in large numbers immediately citing evidence showing most people aren’t like what he worries about. They’d say he shouldn’t denigrate entire groups like women or non-whites based on behavior of a small amount. Some would say racism against whites or sexist against men are impossible based on their redefinitions of those words that make it maybe impossible. Others would say it’s unrealistic worrying to point he should know better or even distracts from “real” problems (i.e. their worries). Probably some evil, political intent since only a X-ist would say it. If he said that wasn’t his intention, they’d force him to be clear on a version they were cool with. They’d tell him he should phrase his writing more appropriately so others who are different feel safe in that space. That he must think in terms of how people might read that. The person would be dismissed as a racist, sexist idiot as they dogpiled him like many others have.

                                                                                              When this woman did it, we’re supposed to assume the best with no concerns about larger implications of what she’s saying in terms of what’s in her head or perception of what she writes. Countering it on just incorrectness like we’d do anything else is now not just dismissing bad ideas or statements: it’s “toxic behavior” that needs to be stamped out. Nah, someone said some political BS on the Internet with disagreement of various quality following. Something we do for any kind of claim here. She doesn’t deserve special treatment or defense of her poor arguments/methods any more than a male does.

                                                                                              To males, you usually have quick, small rebuttals of ideas you disagree with (esp on tech) where you didn’t do a full exploration of everything they might be thinking before you countered. It’s pretty clear you do a quick take on what they might mean, compare it to your own beliefs, and fire an efficient response. Most people do that most of the time I’d guess. You’re doing the opposite here. Whereas, I’m treating her equally to anyone else by protecting dissent and countering her overly-negative claims like I already did to a man who did the same thing before. Like I’ve done to a lot of people’s claims here and everywhere else. Clearly a political bias in action on other side if expecting her claims to get a level of acceptance or no critique that’s not expected of men here or for other topics. I say they all get treated the same from agreement to critiques or we don’t discuss that stuff at all.

                                                                                              I’ve said enough for this part of this thread as both our views are plenty clear.

                                                                                            2. 5

                                                                                              She painted a picture of programming as if it was mostly bad things done by bad people . . . You’d think the profession was one of most horrible ever invented reading that stuff.

                                                                                              This is not a reasonable conclusion to draw from the passage you quoted.

                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                She painted a picture of programming as if it was mostly bad things done by bad people. She painted the picture that people going to thought leaders, doing database work, or getting involved in functional programming were only going to be dealing with the worst. You’d think the profession was one of most horrible ever invented reading that stuff. Don’t ask that she properly qualify that: take her word for it without any of your own comments or reactions. She is attacking most programmers with a programmer,

                                                                                                This conclusion is bonkers.

                                                                                          2. 2

                                                                                            She’s not allowed to talk about politics?

                                                                                            I’m not allowed to respond about politics?

                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                              I missed the part where anyone asked for you to be deprived of that right.

                                                                                          3. 1

                                                                                            I doubt it. She’s making political points in the post instead of just talking about good things at Recurse Center. She’s putting it front and center in people’s minds as they read.

                                                                                            Those “political points” are some of the more important “good things” about the Recurse Center.

                                                                                          4. -5

                                                                                            is there a latin phrase for “does your mom know you’re gay?”

                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                          One of the cool things about economies is that they work even if not everyone understands how they work (and, occasionally, they decide to loudly complain about it).

                                                                                          1. 7

                                                                                            This only covers a small fraction of the use case of sum types; namely, when there is a small set of standardized tasks that is shared across multiple types.

                                                                                            You probably wouldn’t even use a sum type for this in Haskell or Rust; you would use a typeclass or a trait, which is basically what the author ended up doing in Go.

                                                                                            By far the most useful feature of sum types (and further generalizations on multi-constructor types, like GADTs) is the exact representation of types with non-power-of-2 cardinalities. It’s hard to appreciate this if you’re used to working without it, but this single feature probably eliminates (conservatively) 60-70% of logic bugs I would make in languages like C or Java. I am not aware of any pattern or technique that satisfyingly reproduces this power in languages without native sum types.

                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                              Could you give a simple example of that which a Go programmer might run into?

                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                The classic example is the null pointer. You want to represent either your data structure D or some special case representing absence or whatever. This has cardinality |D| + 1. The null pointer is the traditional way to express this, and it’s bad for obvious reasons.

                                                                                                Second most straightforward example is you have two different data structures depending on the situation. Let’s say an error description or a success result. This has size |D| + |E|.

                                                                                                Parsers are one of the most recognizable scenarios where you have types with weird sizes, corresponding to the various clauses of the grammar. This is, I believe, one of the primary things ADTs were invented for.

                                                                                                One I ran into recently was representing a bunch of instructions in an ISA and their respective arguments.

                                                                                              2. 2

                                                                                                when there is a small set of standardized tasks that is shared across multiple types

                                                                                                Isn’t this what interfaces are for?

                                                                                                By far the most useful feature of sum types […] is the exact representation of types with non-power-of-2 cardinalities

                                                                                                It would be great if you could provide an example of how this is useful.

                                                                                              1. 8

                                                                                                The author makes some strong arguments for implementing Bitcoin in a language with more features for correctness than popular imperative languages, but it’s not valid. Bitcoin is not a standardized system. Bitcoin is whatever the existing C++ codebase does, bug for bug. If an attacker can prompt your system to fork, or to not accept the fork that the Bitcoin community eventually decides is the valid one, they can double-spend against you until your devs can catch up. Being “correct” in cryptocurrencies is conforming, not correctness. Not having a bug that the rest of the network has is actually an incredibly dangerous bug in your system that can be incredibly lucrative for an attacker.

                                                                                                A better argument to make would be that Bitcoin Haskell has great testing tools for detecting any divergence from the existing implementation, great monitoring and error-handling so your system defines circuit breakers to halt it in the presence of unusual behaviors, or to do novel cryptocurrency/other high-assurance work not requiring such dangerous integration.

                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                  A better argument to make would be that Bitcoin has great testing tools […]

                                                                                                  Do you mean to write Haskell here?

                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                    Being “correct” in cryptocurrencies is conforming, not correctness.

                                                                                                    If you aim for the latter at the start, it’s both.

                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                      And if the majority of economic weight started using the bitcoin implementation in Haskell, that (a priori more likely to be correct) implementation would become the standard.

                                                                                                      You can match all the bugs and idiosyncrasies in the existing blockchain, and once you have critical mass you can stop supporting those bugs in new blocks.

                                                                                                      1. 5

                                                                                                        Yeah. It is greek-tragedy-level ironic that Bitcoin, a system created to implement Hayekian economics, is itself a Keynesian beauty contest.

                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                          I’m pretty sure Austrians don’t really disagree (or care) about Keynes’ thoughts on game theory. That’s certainly not what Bitcoin aimed to fix.

                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                            Yeah, I’m just tickled by the coincidence. I don’t mean it to be any kind of searing indictment of bitcoin.

                                                                                                        2. 2

                                                                                                          The proposed course of action is equivalent to a fork. Considering the Bitcoin community tore itself apart over a change of the blocksize, this is a tough row to hoe.

                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                            If you want to be pedantic, I guess that’s somewhat reasonable. But then “forks” have happened many times, such as when the reward-halving behavior was changed. In the original code, which used a bit shift, block rewards would have gone back up to 50 BTC in cycles. This was fixed with no fanfare. It would be similar to that.

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                                                                                                        I think ads are the worst way to support any organization, even one I would rate as highly as Mozilla. People however are reluctant to do so otherwise, so we get to suffer all the negative sides of ads.

                                                                                                        I just donated to Mozilla with https://donate.mozilla.org, please consider doing the same if you think ads/sponsored stories are the wrong path for Firefox.

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                                                                                                          Mozilla has more than enough money to accomplish their core task. I think it’s the same problem as with Wikimedia; if you give them more money, they’re just going to find increasingly irrelevant things to spend it on. Both organizations could benefit tremendously from a huge reduction in bureaucracy, not just more money.

                                                                                                          1. 9

                                                                                                            I’ve definitely seen this with Wikimedia, as someone who was heavily involved with it in the early years (now I still edit, but have pulled back from meta/organizational involvement). The people running it are reasonably good and I can certainly imagine it having had worse stewardship. They have been careful not to break any of the core things that make it work. But they do, yeah, basically have more money than they know what to do with. Yet there is an organizational impulse to always get more money and launch more initiatives, just because they can (it’s a high-traffic “valuable” internet property).

                                                                                                            The annual fundraising campaign is even a bit dishonest, strongly implying that they’re raising this money to keep the lights on, when doing that is a small part of the total budget. I think the overall issue is that all these organizations are now run by the same NGO/nonprofit management types who are not that different from the people who work in the C-suites at corporations. Universities are going in this direction too, as faculty senates have been weakened in favor of the same kinds of professional administrators. You can get a better administration or a worse one, but barring some real outliers, like organizations still run by their idiosyncratic founders, you’re getting basically the same class of people in most cases.

                                                                                                          2. 21

                                                                                                            So Mozilla does something bad, and as a result I am supposed to give it money?? Sorry, that doesn’t make any sense to me. If they need my money, they should convince me to donate willingly. What you are describing is a form of extortion.

                                                                                                            I donate every month to various organizations; EFF, ACLU, Wikipedia, OpenBSD, etc. So far Mozilla has never managed to convince me to give them my money. On the contrary, why would I give money to a dysfunctional, bureaucratic organization that doesn’t seem to have a clear and focused agenda?

                                                                                                            1. 9

                                                                                                              They may be a dysfunctional bureaucratic organisation without a focused agenda (wouldn’t know as I don’t work for it) which would surely make them less effective, but shouldn’t the question instead be how effective they are? Is what they produce a useful, positive change and can you get that same thing elsewhere more cost-effectively?

                                                                                                              If I really want to get to a destination, I will take a run-down bus if that is the only transport going there. And if you don’t care about the destination, then transport options don’t matter.

                                                                                                              1. 17

                                                                                                                They may be a dysfunctional bureaucratic organisation without a focused agenda (wouldn’t know as I don’t work for it) which would surely make them less effective, but shouldn’t the question instead be how effective they are? Is what they produce a useful, positive change and can you get that same thing elsewhere more cost-effectively?

                                                                                                                I am frequently in touch with Mozilla and while I sometimes feel like fighting with windmills, other parts of the org are very quick moving and highly cost effective. For example, they do a lot of very efficient training for community members like the open leadership training and the Mozilla Tech speakers. They run MDN, a prime resource for web development and documentation. Mozilla Research has high reputation.

                                                                                                                Firefox in itself is in constant rebuild and is developed. MozFest is the best conferences you can go to in this world if you want to speak tech and social subjects.

                                                                                                                I still find their developer relationship very lacking, which is probably the most visible part to us, but hey, it’s only one aspect.

                                                                                                                1. 9

                                                                                                                  The fact that Mozilla is going to spend money on community activities and conferences is why I don’t donate to them. The only activity I and 99% of people care about is Firefox. All I want is a good web browser. I don’t really care about the other stuff.

                                                                                                                  Maybe if they focused on what they’re good at, their hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue would be sufficient and they wouldn’t have to start selling “sponsored stories”.

                                                                                                                  1. 18

                                                                                                                    The only activity I and 99% of people care about is Firefox.

                                                                                                                    This is a very easy statement to throw around. It’s very hard to back up.

                                                                                                                    Also, what’s the point of having a FOSS organisation if they don’t share their learnings? This whole field is fresh and we have maintainers hurting left and right, but people complain when organisations do more then just code.

                                                                                                                    1. 6

                                                                                                                      To have a competitive, web browser we can trust plus exemplary software in a number of categories. Mozilla couldve been building trustworthy versions of useful products like SpiderOak, VPN services, and so on. Any revenue from business licensing could get them off ad revenue more over time.

                                                                                                                      Instead, they waste money on lots of BS. Also, they could do whaf I say plus community work. It’s not either or. I support both.

                                                                                                                      1. 8

                                                                                                                        To have a competitive, web browser we can trust plus exemplary software in a number of categories. Mozilla couldve been building trustworthy versions of useful products like SpiderOak, VPN services, and so on. Any revenue from business licensing could get them off ad revenue more over time.

                                                                                                                        In my opinion, the point of FOSS is sharing and I’m pretty radical that this involves approaches and practices. I agree that all you write is important, I don’t agree that it should be the sole focus. Also, Mozilla trainings are incredibly good, I have actually at some point suggested them to sell them :D.

                                                                                                                        Instead, they waste money on lots of BS. Also, they could do whaf I say plus community work. It’s not either or. I support both.

                                                                                                                        BS is very much in the eye of the beholder. I also haven’t said that they couldn’t do what you describe.

                                                                                                                        Also, be aware that they often collaborate with other foundations and bring knowledge and connections into the deal, not everything is funded from the money MozCorp has or from donations.

                                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                                          “Also, Mozilla trainings are incredibly good, I have actually at some point suggested them to sell them :D.”

                                                                                                                          Well, there’s a good idea! :)

                                                                                                                      2. 3

                                                                                                                        That’s a false dichotomy because there are other ways to make money in the software industry that don’t involve selling users to advertisers.

                                                                                                                        It’s unfortunate, but advertisers have so thoroughly ruined their reputation that I simply will not use ad supported services any more.

                                                                                                                        I feel like Mozilla is so focused on making money for itself that it’s lost sight of what’s best for their users.

                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                          That’s a false dichotomy because there are other ways to make money in the software industry that don’t involve selling users to advertisers.

                                                                                                                          Ummm… sorry? The post you are replying to doesn’t speak about money at all, but what people carry about?

                                                                                                                          Yes, advertising and Mozilla is an interesting debate and it’s also not like Mozilla is only doing advertisement. But flat-out criticism of the kind “Mozilla is making X amount of money” or “Mozilla supports things I don’t like” is not it

                                                                                                                        2. 3

                                                                                                                          This is a very easy statement to throw around. It’s very hard to back up.

                                                                                                                          Would you care to back up the opposite, that over 1% of mozilla’s userbase supports the random crap Mozilla does? That’s over a million people.

                                                                                                                          I think my statement is extremely likely a priori.

                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                            I’d venture to guess most of them barely know what Firefox is past how they do stuff on the Internet. They want it to load up quickly, let them use their favorite sites, do that quickly, and not toast their computer with malware. If mobile tablet, maybe add not using too much battery. Those probably represent most people on Firefox along with most of its revenue. Some chunk of them will also want specific plugins to stay on Firefox but I don’t have data on their ratio.

                                                                                                                            If my “probably” is correct, then what you say is probably true too.

                                                                                                                        3. 5

                                                                                                                          This is a valid point of view, just shedding a bit of light on why Mozilla does all this “other stuff”.

                                                                                                                          Mozilla’s mission statement is to “fight for the health of the internet”, notably this is not quite the same mission statement as “make Firefox a kickass browser”. Happily, these two missions are extremely closely aligned (thus the substantial investment that went into making Quantum). Firefox provides revenue, buys Mozilla a seat at the standards table, allows Mozilla to weigh in on policy and legislation and has great brand recognition.

                                                                                                                          But while developing Firefox is hugely beneficial to the health of the web, it isn’t enough. Legislation, proprietary technologies, corporations and entities of all shapes and sizes are fighting to push the web in different directions, some more beneficial to users than others. So Mozilla needs to wield the influence granted to it by Firefox to try and steer the direction of the web to a better place for all of us. That means weighing in on policy, outreach, education, experimentation, and yes, developing technology.

                                                                                                                          So I get that a lot of people don’t care about Mozilla’s mission statement, and just want a kickass browser. There’s nothing wrong with that. But keep in mind that from Mozilla’s point of view, Firefox is a means to an end, not the end itself.

                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                            I don’t think Mozilla does a good job at any of that other stuff. The only thing they really seem able to do well (until some clueless PR or marketing exec fucks it up) is browser tech. I donate to the EFF because they actually seem able to effect the goals you stated and don’t get distracted with random things they don’t know how to do.

                                                                                                                    2. 3

                                                                                                                      What if, and bear with me here, what they did ISN’T bad? What if instead they are actually making a choice that will make Firefox more attractive to new users?

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                                                                                                                      The upside is that atleast Mozilla is trying to make privacy respecting ads instead of simply opening up the flood gates.

                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                        For now…

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                                                                                                                      Laziness is neat. But just not worth it. It makes debugging harder and makes reasoning about code harder. It was the one change in python 2->3 that I truly hate. I wish there was an eager-evaluating Haskell. At least in Haskell, due to monadic io, laziness is at least tolerable and not leaving you with tricky bugs (as trying to consume an iterator in python twice).

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                                                                                                                        I had a much longer reply written out but my browser crashed towards the end (get your shit together, Apple) so here’s the abridged version:

                                                                                                                        • Lazy debugging is only harder if your debugging approach is “printfs everywhere”. Haskell does actually allow this, but strongly discourages it to great societal benefit.

                                                                                                                        • Laziness by default forced Haskellers to never have used the strict-sequencing-as-IO hack that strict functional languages mostly fell victim to, again to great societal benefit. The result is code that’s almost always more referentially transparent, leading to vastly easier testing, easier composition, and fewer bugs in the first place.

                                                                                                                        • It’s impossible to appreciate laziness if your primary exposure to it is the piecemeal, inconsistent, and opaque laziness sprinkled in a few places in python3.

                                                                                                                        • You almost never need IO to deal with laziness and its effects. The fact that you are conflating the two suggests that you may have a bit of a wrong idea about how laziness works in practice.

                                                                                                                        • Haskell has the Strict language extension which turns on laziness by default. It’s very rarely used because most people experienced enough with Haskell to know about it prefer laziness by default. This is experimental evidence that laziness by default may actually be a good idea, once you’ve been forced to grok how it’s used in practice.

                                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                                          Haskell has the Strict language extension which turns on laziness by default. It’s very rarely used because most people experienced enough with Haskell to know about it prefer laziness by default. This is experimental evidence that laziness by default may actually be a good idea, once you’ve been forced to grok how it’s used in practice.

                                                                                                                          I am not quite sure whether this is really evidence. I actually never tried to switch it on. Iwonder whether that option plays nicely with existing libraries, I gues not many are tested for not depending on lazy-evaluation for efficient evaluation. If you use Haskell and Hackage, I guess you are bound with rolling with the default.

                                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                                            It works on a per-module basis. All your modules will be compiled with strict semantics, and any libraries will be compiled with the semantics they chose.

                                                                                                                        2. 3

                                                                                                                          Idris has strict evaluation. It also has dependent types, which are amazing, but strict evaluation is a pretty good perk too.

                                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                                            I thought there were annotations for strictness in Haskell.

                                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                                              yes, but I consider it to be the wrong default. I’d prefer having an annotation for lazy evaluation. I just remember too many cases where I have been bitten by lazy evaluation behaviour. It makes code so much more complicated to reason about.

                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                Do you happen to remember more detail? I enjoy writing Haskell, but I don’t have a strong opinion on laziness. I’ve seen some benefits and rarely been bitten, so I’d like to know more.

                                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                                  I only have vague memories to be honest. Pretty sure some where errors due to non-total functions, which I then started to avoid using a prelude that only uses total ones. But when these occured, it was hard to exactly find the code path that provoked it. Or rather: harder than it should be.

                                                                                                                                  Then, from the tooling side I started using Intero (or vim intero). (see https://github.com/commercialhaskell/intero/issues/84#issuecomment-353744900). Fairly certain that this is hard to debug because of laziness. In this thread there are a few names reporting this problem that are experienced haskell devs, so I’d consider this evidence that laziness is not only an issue to beginners that haven’t yet understood haskell.

                                                                                                                                  PS: Side remark, although I enjoy haskell, it is kind of tiring that the haskell community seems to conveniently shift between “Anyone can understand monads and write Haskell” and “If it doesn’t work for you, you aren’t experienced enough”.

                                                                                                                            2. 2

                                                                                                                              Eager-evaluating Haskell? At a high level, Ocaml is (more or less) an example of that.

                                                                                                                              It has a sweet point between high abstraction but also high mechanical sympathy. That’s a big reason why Ocaml has quite good performance despite a relatively simple optimizing compiler. As a side effect of that simple optimizing compiler (read: few transformations), it’s also easy to predict performance and do low-level debugging.

                                                                                                                              Haskell has paid a high price for default laziness.

                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                As a side effect of that simple optimizing compiler (read: few transformations), it’s also easy to predict performance and do low-level debugging.

                                                                                                                                That was used to good effect by Esterel when they did source-to-object code verification of their code generator for aerospace. I can’t find that paper right now for some reason. I did find this one on the overall project.

                                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                                  Yes, however I would like to have Typeclasses and Monads I guess, that’s not OCaml’s playing field

                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                    OCaml should Someday™ get modular implicits, which should provide some of the same niceties as typeclasses.

                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                      OCaml has monads so I’m really not sure what you mean by this. Typeclasses are a big convenience but as F# has shown are by no means required for statically typed functional programming. You can get close by abusing a language feature or two but you’re better off just using existing language features to accomplish the same end that typeclases provide. I do think F# is working on adding typeclasses and I think the struggle is of course interoperability with .Net, but here’s an abudantly long github issue on the topic. https://github.com/fsharp/fslang-suggestions/issues/243

                                                                                                                                    2. 1

                                                                                                                                      F# an open source (MIT) sister language is currently beating or matching OCaml in the for fun benchmarks :). Admittedly that’s almost entirely due to the ease of parallel in F#.
                                                                                                                                      https://benchmarksgame.alioth.debian.org/u64q/fsharp.html

                                                                                                                                    3. 1

                                                                                                                                      Doesn’t lazy io make your program even more inscrutable?

                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                        well, Haskell’s type system makes you aware of many side-effects, so it is a better situation than in, for example, Python.

                                                                                                                                        Again, I still prefer eager evaluation as a default, and lazy evaluation as an opt-in.

                                                                                                                                      2. 1

                                                                                                                                        Purescript is very close to what you want then - it’s basically “Haskell with less warts, and also strict” - strict mainly so that they can output clean JavaScript without a runtime.

                                                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                                                        A solid list, with one question mark.

                                                                                                                                        Lynn Conway started life as a man. does this mean he/then her achievements give equally credited to men/women?

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                                                                                                                                          No. Trans women are women.

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                                                                                                                                            Thank you . I want to live in a world where this is just taken as a given. Lets start with our little world here people.

                                                                                                                                            1. 8

                                                                                                                                              What is the goal of creating a list of women in CS? If it’s to demonstrate to young girls that they can enter the field, it seems unproductive to include someone who grew up experiencing life as a man.

                                                                                                                                              If the goal of creating the list is some kind of contest, then it’s counterproductive for entirely different reasons.

                                                                                                                                              1. 28

                                                                                                                                                someone who grew up experiencing life as a man

                                                                                                                                                Do you know any trans women who have said they grew up experiencing life as a man? I know quite a few and none of them have expressed anything like this, and my own experience was certainly not like that.

                                                                                                                                                However, if you mean that we were treated like men, with the privilege it brings in many areas, then yes, that became even more obvious to me the moment I came out.

                                                                                                                                                Regardless, trans folks need role models too, and we don’t get a lot of respectful representation.

                                                                                                                                                1. 21
                                                                                                                                                  $ curl https://www.hillelwayne.com/post/important-women-in-cs/ | grep girl | wc -l
                                                                                                                                                  0
                                                                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                                                  The motivation for the post are clearly layed out in the first paragraph:

                                                                                                                                                  I’m tired of hearing about Grace Hopper, Margaret Hamilton, and Ada Lovelace. Can’t we think of someone else for once?

                                                                                                                                                  It’s a pretty pure writeup for the sake of being a list you can refer to.

                                                                                                                                                  On your statement about “girls”. It’s quite bad to assume a list of women is just for kids, it’s also bad to assume trans women can’t be examples to (possibly themselves trans) girls.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                                                                                    That’s not a motivation, that’s a tagline.

                                                                                                                                                    The primary reason I would refer to a list like this is if I was demonstrating to a young woman considering CS that, perhaps despite appearances, many women have historically made major contributions to the field. I’m not sure what else I would need something like this for.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                                                                                      Maybe its not for you to distribute but for women to discover …

                                                                                                                                                    2. 1

                                                                                                                                                      I don’t see why it’s bad to assume that. It feels like it would be a pretty serious turn off to me if I we’re looking for successful women and found people who were men into adulthood. I find it hard to imagine that I’m unique in that feeling. I’m sure it feels good for trans people but I’d that’s your goal admit the trade-off rather than just telling people they’re women and not transwomen.

                                                                                                                                                      You can berate people for not considering trans-women to be the same as born women but it will likely just keep them quiet rather than convince them to be inspired.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 19

                                                                                                                                                        people who were men into adulthood

                                                                                                                                                        Now I’m curious what your criteria are, if not self-identification. When did this person cease to be a man, to you?

                                                                                                                                                        When they changed their name?

                                                                                                                                                        When they changed their legal gender?

                                                                                                                                                        When they started hormones?

                                                                                                                                                        When they changed their presentation?

                                                                                                                                                        When they got surgery?

                                                                                                                                                        What about trans people who do none of that? E.g. I’ve changed my name and legal gender (only because governments insist on putting it in passports and whatnot,) because I had the means to do so and it bothered me enough that I did, is that enough? What about trans people who don’t have the means, option, or desire to do so?

                                                                                                                                                        When biologist say that there’s not one parameter that overrides the others when it comes to determining sex¹, and that it makes more sense to just go by a person’s gender identity if you for whatever reason must label them as male/female, why is that same gender identity not enough to determine someone’s own gender?

                                                                                                                                                        1. http://www.nature.com/news/sex-redefined-1.16943
                                                                                                                                                    3. 16

                                                                                                                                                      If it’s to demonstrate to young girls that they can enter the field, it seems unproductive to include someone who grew up experiencing life as a man.

                                                                                                                                                      This is a misunderstanding of transexuality. She grew up experiencing life as a woman, but also as a woman housed in a foreign-feeling body and facing a tendency by others to mistake her gender.

                                                                                                                                                      Does that mean she faced a different childhood from many other women? Sure. But she also shared many of the disadvantages they faced, frequently to a much stronger degree. Women face difficulty if they present as “femme” in this field, but it is much more intense if they present as femme AND people mis-bucket them into the “male” mental box.

                                                                                                                                                  2. 14

                                                                                                                                                    If they identified as a woman at the time of accomplishment, it seems quite reasonable that it’d count. For future work, just think about it in terms of trans-woman extends base class woman or at least implements the woman interface.

                                                                                                                                                    In any event, your comment is quite off-topic. Rehashing this sort of stuff is an exercise that while interesting is better kept literally anywhere else on the internet–if you have questions of this variety, please seek enlightenment via private message with somebody you think may be helpful on the matter, and don’t derail here.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 7

                                                                                                                                                      The point of this is not to give more achievements to women… It’s to showcase people who were most likely marginalized.

                                                                                                                                                      1. [Comment removed by author]

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                                                                                                                                                          This is definitely not what life is like for trans people pre-transition.

                                                                                                                                                      2. 12

                                                                                                                                                        It’s rude to talk about people’s gender like this fyi

                                                                                                                                                        1. 0

                                                                                                                                                          It’s ridiculous to allow this framing to suppress a reasonable point.

                                                                                                                                                          1. 10

                                                                                                                                                            It’s not a reasonable point. This is not the place to make whatever point you’re trying to make.

                                                                                                                                                        2. 3

                                                                                                                                                          Depends on where a person is on political spectrum. I’d probably note they’re trans if targeting a wide audience, not if a liberal one, and leave person off if a right-leaning one.

                                                                                                                                                          1. 5

                                                                                                                                                            what they dont know wont hurt them. As far as the right is concerned , she is a woman …

                                                                                                                                                          2. 2

                                                                                                                                                            It is irrelevant, and you asking this is offensive.

                                                                                                                                                            1. -1

                                                                                                                                                              Interesting question. I think it may be met with hostility, as it brings to mind the contradiction inherent in both claiming that sex/gender is arbitrary or constructed and also intentionally emphasizing the achievements of one gender. Based on the subset of my social circle that engages in this kind of thing, these activities are usually highly correlated. Picking one or the other seems to get people labeled as, respectively, some slang variation of “nerd”, or a “TERF”.

                                                                                                                                                              1. 34

                                                                                                                                                                Can we please not for once? Every time anything similar to this comes up the thread turns into a pissfight over Gender Studies 101. Let’s just celebrate Conway’s contributions and not get into an argument about whether she “counts”.

                                                                                                                                                                1. 10

                                                                                                                                                                  Much as I sympathize, transgender is controversial enough that merely putting a trans person on a list that claims all its members are a specific gender will generate reactions like that due to a huge chunk of the population not recognizing the gender claim. That will always happen unless the audience totally agrees. So, one will always have to choose between not mentioning them to avoid noise or including them combating noise.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 20

                                                                                                                                                                    I would like to live in a world where trangender isnt controversial and we dont have to waste energy discussing this. Can lobsters be that world please ?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. 18

                                                                                                                                                                      Perhaps this is why we get accused of pushing some kind of agenda or bringing politics into things, by merely existing/being visible around people who find us ”controversial” or start questioning whether our gender is legit or what have you. I usually stay out of such discussions, but sometimes feel the need to respond to claims about trans folks that I feel come from a place of ignorance rather than bigotry or malice, but most of the time I’m proven wrong and they aren’t really interested in the science or whatever they claim, they just want an excuse to say hateful things about us. I’ve had a better than average experience on this website, when it comes to responses.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                        I cant speak for everyone on the side that denies trans identity. Just my group I guess. For us and partly for others, the root of the problem is there is a status quo with massive evidence and inertia about how we categorize gender that a small segment are countering in a more subjective way. We dont think the counters carry the weight of status quo. We also prefer objective criteria about anything involving biology or human categorization where possible. I know you’ve heard the details so I spare you that

                                                                                                                                                                        That means there will be people objecting every time a case comes up. If it seems mean, remember that there’s leftists who will be quick to counter anything they think shouldn’t be tolerated on a forum (eg language policing) on their principles. For me, Im just courteous with the pronouns and such since it has no real effect on me in most circumstances: I can default on kindness until forced to be more specific by a question or debate happening. Trans people are still people to me. So, I avoid bringing this stuff up much as possible.

                                                                                                                                                                        The dont-rock-the-boat, kinder approach wouldve been for person rejecting the gender claim to just ignore talking about the person he or she didnt think was a woman to focus on others. The thread wouldve stayed on topic. Positive things would be said about about deserving people. And so on. Someone had to stir shit up, though. (Sighs)

                                                                                                                                                                        And I agree Lobsters have handled these things much better than other places. I usually like this community even on the days it’s irritating. Relatively at least. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                        1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                          For us and partly for others, the root of the problem is there is a status quo with massive evidence and inertia about how we categorize gender that a small segment are countering in a more subjective way.

                                                                                                                                                                          I know you’re a cool dude and would be more than happy to discuss this with you in private, but I think we all mostly agree that this is now pretty outside the realm of tech, so continuing to discuss it publicly would be getting off topic :) I’ll DM you?

                                                                                                                                                                          1. 7

                                                                                                                                                                            I was just answering a question at this point as I had nothing else to say. Personally, Id rather the political topics stay off Lobsters as I voted in community guidelines thread. This tangent couldnt end sooner given how off topic and conflict-creating it is.

                                                                                                                                                                            Here’s something for you to try I did earlier. Just click the minus next to Derek’s comment. This whole thread instantly looks the way it should have in first place. :)

                                                                                                                                                                          2. 4

                                                                                                                                                                            I find the idea that everyone who disagrees with these things should avoid rocking the boat extremely disconcerting. It feels like a duty to rock it on behalf of those who agree but are too polite or afraid for their jobs or reputations to state their actual opinions, to normalize speaking honestly about uncomfortable topics.

                                                                                                                                                                            I mean, I also think it’s on topic to debate the political point made by the list.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                              I agree with those points. It’s why I’m in the sub-thread. The disagreement is a practical one a few others are noting:

                                                                                                                                                                              “I mean, I also think it’s on topic to debate the political point made by the list.”

                                                                                                                                                                              I agree. I told someone that in private plus said it here in this thread. Whether we want to bring it up, though, should depend on what the goal is. My goal is the site stays focused on interesting, preferably-deep topics with pleasant experience with minimal noise. There’s political debates and flamewars available all over the Internet with the experience that’s typical of Lobsters being a rarity. So, I’d just have not brought it up here.

                                                                                                                                                                              When someone did, the early response was a mix of people saying it’s off-topic/unnecessary (my side) and a group decreeing their political views as undeniable truth or standards for the forum. Aside from no consensus on those views, prior metas on these things showed that even those people believed our standards would be defined by what we spoke for and against with silence itself being a vote for something. So, a few of us with different views on political angle, who still opposed the comment, had to speak to ensure the totality of the community was represented. It’s necessary as long as (a) we do politics here and (b) any group intends to make its politics a standard or enforeable rule. Countering that political maneuvering was all I was doing except for a larger comment where I just answered someone’s question.

                                                                                                                                                                              Well, that plus reinforcing I’m against these political angles being on the site period like I vote in metas. You can easily test my hypothesis/preference. Precondition: A site that’s usually low noise with on-topic, productive comments. Goal: Identify, discuss, and celebrate the achievements of women on a list or in the comments maintaining that precondition. Test: count the comments talking about one or more women versus the gender identity of one (aka political views). It’s easier to visualize what my rule would be like if you collapse Derek’s comment tree. The whole thread meets the precondition and goal. You can also assess those active more on politics than the main topic by adding up who contributed something about an undisputed woman in CompSci and who just talked about the politics. Last I looked, there were more users doing the politics than highlighting women in CompSci as well. Precondition and goal failed on two measurements early on in discussion. There’s a lot of on-topic comments right now, though, so leaned back in good direction.

                                                                                                                                                                              Time and place for everything. I’d rather this stuff stay off Lobsters with me only speaking on it where others force it. It’s not like those interested can’t message each other, set up a gender identity thread on another forum, load up IRC, and so on to discuss it. They’re smart people. There’s many mediums. A few of us here just want one to be better than the rest in quality and focus. That’s all. :) And it arguably was without that comment tree.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. 8

                                                                                                                                                                              So, I avoid bringing this stuff up much as possible.

                                                                                                                                                                              Keep working on this

                                                                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                The dont-rock-the-boat, kinder approach wouldve been for person rejecting the gender claim to just ignore talking about the person he or she didnt think was a woman to focus on others. The thread wouldve stayed on topic. Positive things would be said about about deserving people.

                                                                                                                                                                                Do you believe the most deserving will be talked about most? If you have a population that talks positively about people whether or not they are trans, and you have a smaller population that talks only about non trans people and ignores the trans people, Which people will be talked about most in aggregate? It isn’t kinder to ignore people and their accomplishments.

                                                                                                                                                                                It is also very strange for technology people to reject a technology that changes your gender. What if you had a magic gun and you can be a women for a day, and then be a man the next, why the hell not? We have a technology now where you can be a man or a women or neither or both if you wanted to. Isn’t technology amazing? You tech person you!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                      Not going to answer on SO because I don’t want to put the work in, but:

                                                                                                                                                                      Sure, you could generalize a function by allowing for structural subtypes on contravariant type variables and structural supertypes on covariant type variables, but this is a bad idea. If the user didn’t specifically request that the function work on anything of the right structural type, they probably had a specific semantics in mind that’s unique to the nominal type they did specify.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Accusations of bribery are really a low blow.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. [Comment from banned user removed]

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                                                                                                                                                                              It’s a tech acquisition, so the profit of the company is of no interest.

                                                                                                                                                                              The technology of RIL is of interest for Mozilla, which is the vendor of Firefox, but also so much more.

                                                                                                                                                                              Also, I kind of shrug at “10s of millions”. A million is about the price you need to hire 5-10 engineers for a year, depending on where you are. Software is expensive.

                                                                                                                                                                              Jumping to bribery without anything else but pointing at “they bought a non-profitable company” is malicious, yes!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                The technology of RIL is of interest for Mozilla

                                                                                                                                                                                How so? It’s yet another rehash of that trivial “save web pages for offline/later reading” concept. No technological innovation whatsoever, no interest among Firefox users either.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. 1

                                                                                                                                                                            If you want to choke just read the Mozilla Foundation’s financial disclosures

                                                                                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                              Where are these hosted? I can only find general accounting information, without specific spending breakdowns.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                            I’ve been trying to do this on the backend as well as the frontend. No reverse proxy, no complicated dependencies, no bullshit. The single file containing my blog engine is 183 lines long, most of that code for rendering the RSS feed. It feels good to just fire up a tmux window and run the single binary with no config.

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                                                                                                                                                                              1. This isn’t a proof at all, it’s an argument. Just jump to the end and assumptions abound, without even a coherent proof structure tying them together. I’m not going to spend a lot of time digging into them, but many of them look quite suspect (like their “typical” spending model).

                                                                                                                                                                              2. It doesn’t really matter that much what topology lightning ends up with since it’s trustless anyway. I would have a mild preference on a highly “random” graph, but I don’t think it really matters in the effective absence of counterparty risk.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                For a more compelling argument regarding LN, which takes on the linked post, see

                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.coppolacomment.com/2018/01/probability-for-geeks.html

                                                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                  For what it’s worth, I gave a talk with conclusions very similar to this post at Papers we Love on the Interledger protocol (which also includes a mention of Lightning):

                                                                                                                                                                                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDIGRKQu3rA

                                                                                                                                                                                  There is a very important distinction between what Paul Baran called “decentralized” and what he called “distributed”: the former are hub-and-spoke systems, which fundamentally scale with the capacity of the hubs. “Distributed” systems, which Baran suggests optimally have at least 3 links to other nodes, can scale unboundedly as they become both faster and more resilient as more nodes join the network.

                                                                                                                                                                                  My talk steps through Paul Baran’s graphs comparing Lightning to a “decentralized” hub-and-spoke network, and concluding with Interledger as a truly distributed alternative. That’s not even to say Lightning and Interledger are competing on the same playing field: Interledger could be potentially used to interconnect different implementations of Lightning operating on different blockchains.

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                                                                                                                                                                                We are approaching the far-future sci-fi economy where the primary salable resources are energy and computronium far faster than I thought we would.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  I wanted to generate a Z-curve (in order) a while ago. The fastest approach I found (iirc, faster than using pdep and pexp) was just to have a recursive function that used only increment and multiply-by-two. So you have 32 or 64 stack frames and you spend most of your time in the bottom few frames. The caching and data dependency behavior of this code is very good, so you get excellent performance on superscalar OoO processors. The downside is you must go in order - you can’t efficiently seek the nth point on the Z-curve.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I’m not sure how one would conveniently structure this in most languages. In Haskell the signature was something like

                                                                                                                                                                                  data Z = Z Word64 Word64
                                                                                                                                                                                  zcurve :: Monad m => (Z -> m ()) -> m ()
                                                                                                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                                  And the compiler was able to turn this into a tight assembly loop. The sort of inversion of control here, where your business logic has to migrate to the bottom of a bunch of stack frames, seems like it might be hard to structure in a language like C++. You could use an explicit stack data structure and a loop, but I wonder if that would hurt performance.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    The advice I’ve always given applies now more than ever: use a hardware wallet. Besides dumb shit like this, there’s also the risk that any keys you keep in RAM get swiped by the new set of side-channel attacks.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Electrum has good hardware wallet support too! It’s just like normal except you have to approve transactions on the device before they go through. I’ve tried both the Trezor and the Ledger. They are highly cross-compatible and both good designs.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Then you have to trust the hardware vendor’s security design - oh look, here’s someone breaking into a Trezor.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Or that the guy you buy the hardware from isn’t just a crook.

                                                                                                                                                                                      The more general problem is that cryptocurrency security is vastly harder than any normal user can be expected to achieve - because every mistake or theft is utterly irreversible, by design. “Be your own bank” means be your own financial institution Chief Security Officer, with deep system knowledge.

                                                                                                                                                                                      The solution we use in the wider world is division of labour, and financial institutions that are trusted but regulated in law. This turns out to work usably well for running a modern economy, in a way that “everyone has to know everything in depth or LOL too bad” doesn’t.

                                                                                                                                                                                      When someone in the Philippines got my credit card number and attempted to spend £600 on it, the first I knew about it was when my bank called me to ask about it. I verified it wasn’t me, and the charge was reversed and they sent me a new card. This is a ridiculously better level of service than I could ever get using a cryptocurrency, and the level of service that normal people in society expect from their financial services vendors.

                                                                                                                                                                                      (I know you personally don’t think that level of reversibility is important, but I think you’re incorrect on this one.)

                                                                                                                                                                                      Unfortunately, trusting centralised institutions - exchanges - with your crypto hasn’t worked out so well either in far too many cases. There’s reasons the conventional currency system went to insured banks with a lot of regulation.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Pervasive irreversibility at all levels was the fundamental design decision of cryptocurrency - and it’s turned out to be a bad one.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        oh look, here’s someone breaking into a Trezor.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Manually sideloading a custom firmware isn’t even remotely in the same realm of vulnerability as “exposed unauthenticated RPC port”

                                                                                                                                                                                        the guy you buy the hardware from isn’t just a crook.

                                                                                                                                                                                        If someone’s dumb enough to dump $34,000 into someone else’s private key, they’re definitely dumb enough to lose their money in more traditional ways.

                                                                                                                                                                                        When someone in the Philippines got my credit card number… This is a ridiculously better level of service than I could ever get using a cryptocurrency

                                                                                                                                                                                        The “level of service” you get with a cryptocurrency is that some random dude in the Phillipines can’t just go and steal your money in the first place. It seems insane to me that you can interpret this story in a positive way. As a counter-anecdote, the only unauthorized transaction I’ve ever had was when the government took money from my account due to a paperwork error and Wells Fargo charged me a “legal fee” for this privilege. Someone else should not be able to take my money without my permission, full stop. If I have to lose the ability to bust transactions in exchange, so be it.

                                                                                                                                                                                        We had basically the same argument last time; you’re of the opinion that financial systems should cater to the lowest common denominator, and I just want a system that doesn’t suck. These are both at least somewhat reasonable but they’re inherently incompatible.

                                                                                                                                                                                        There’s reasons the conventional currency system went to insured banks with a lot of regulation.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, there are valid historical reasons, but “boy, I sure hate non-repudiation” isn’t one of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                        and it’s turned out to be a bad one.

                                                                                                                                                                                        You can say that as much as you want, but (as of now) over $800,000,000,000 begs to disagree.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          $800,000,000,000

                                                                                                                                                                                          That’s $800B. I wondered where that number comes from, and actually googling “800,000,000,000” gives this link, which states

                                                                                                                                                                                          Its official, total market cap now over 800,000,000,000 dollars! (sic)

                                                                                                                                                                                          What does that number represent?

                                                                                                                                                                                          It’s simply this algorithm:

                                                                                                                                                                                          • For each coin/token listed on Coinmarketcap.com, take the latest price listed
                                                                                                                                                                                          • multiply the price with outstanding tokens
                                                                                                                                                                                          • add them together

                                                                                                                                                                                          Anyone who believes that $800B represents real, actual money is, in my opinion, delusional. As an example of magnitude, the government income of Sweden, an industrialized country of 10M people, was $128B last year.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            For comparison, what was the “market cap” of the Beanie Babies market in July 1999? Where did all that value go when it crashed? Nowhere, it was an illusion.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Not quite an illusion but perhaps a representation of the volume of funds transfer from one set of people to another set? At the point of crash, many people lose their money but there are many other people who have cashed out prior and effectively got that money from the first set.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Nope, not even that. It represents only (last transaction) * (total number of tokens). This is not money put in, money you could get out, money you would pay to take it over (which is meaningful for a stock but not a crypto), etc. It is a meaningless number that looks good in headlines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                (I basically need to write a blog post on why “market cap” of a crypto is a completely bogus measure.)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Where do you think the last transaction price comes from?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Please do, I’d love to read it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Where does the value “go” when Apple drops 0.4%? The answer is that you’re asking a nonsensical question. There’s no such thing as conservation of value - it can be spontaneously created and destroyed. It’s disappointing that someone can comfortably profess opinions about economic value without this being apparent.

                                                                                                                                                                                              3. -1

                                                                                                                                                                                                How do you think market cap is normally calculated? I’m not really sure what you’re trying to express with your insinuation that this figure is “not real” - it is, in fact, the total value of all instances of the asset as determined by the market. Multiplying volume weighted price by number of units is only a first order approximation, but it’s usually reasonably close.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am aware how market cap is calculated in the common usage of a stock. The question is, can you equate a cryptocurrency token with an equity stake in a company?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  If someone buys all the stock in a company, they attain legal rights to everything pertaining to that company: employees, physical assets, patents, etc etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  If someone buys all the bitcoins, what do they gain?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    If someone buys gold bars, what do they gain?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      A hunk of metal?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think @wyager is suggesting that buying either gold or Bitcoin is speculation in a market driven mostly by group behaviour, so it sounds like you are in agreement. (Whereas buying stocks is different, as both you and I have suggested in this thread.)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                You can say that as much as you want, but (as of now) over $800,000,000,000 begs to disagree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Maybe you can help me understand what exactly people are investing into? I’m trying to understand this, but so far I haven’t been able to figure it out from reading and talking to a couple of people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                From what I understand so far, people aren’t investing into an asset (since Bitcoin doesn’t have intrinsic value), and they can’t be investing into the potential of Bitcoin to replace the traditional financial system (transaction fees are high, there’s apparently a hard limit on the rate of transactions, the interface to traditional currencies has issues with trustworthiness). So what is it that they are investing into? And can Bitcoin scale to replace a country-sized or world-sized financial system?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Most cryptocurrencies have the potential to be used in the black market (online drug sales, illicit/illegal digital goods such as carding and CP), as well as for more legitimate privacy-enhancing goods, such as VPNs. This represents, in my opinion, a base value for crypto in general (not specifically Bitcoin, this use case is relatively fungible).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The rest of the valuation is speculative.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  To be charitable, people are working on proposed solutions to the issues that Bitcoin is facing right now - the latest fad is the “Lightning network”, that adds a layer on top of the BTC blockchain. This would transform BTC into literal digital gold and give rise to a new class of institutions working to provide services based on its value.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for the information. I read a little bit about the Lightning network. It sounds like it might alleviate the scalability issues, but I still don’t understand how it makes the blockchain a replacement for gold. The blockchain is still a distributed transaction database with nice properties rather than an asset with its own commonly accepted value. Do you think you could clarify this further for me?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      I’m a card-carrying Bitcoin skeptic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Apart from the above “real usage”, I don’t believe there’s any value in the currency at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Blockchain” as a tech is mildly interesting in a distributed database kind of way, but the currency form is rooted in outdated economic theories bolstered by wild conspiracy theorizing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Got it, thanks :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. 0

                                                                                                                                                                                                    since Bitcoin doesn’t have intrinsic value

                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is a dogwhistle for economic confusion, and “not even wrong”. There’s no such thing as “intrinsic value”. Nothing derives its economic value from any intrinsic property. All value is extrinsic. For example, where is the “intrinsic” values of dollars, or abstract financial instruments?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I’m certainly not an economics expert, which is why I’m asking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think I have a distinction in my mind between investing (eg into shares) and speculation/trading.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I’d say that nobody “invests” into currencies or, say, derivatives, but people trade/speculate with them instead. Eg currencies are not expected to keep going up in price indefinitely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Shares, on the other hand, are an income-generating asset (via dividends), have a soft lower bound on price (net asset value of the company), and their price has some relation to the company’s activity. Buying shares or bonds is what I call investing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      So I guess you’re saying that people who buy Bitcoin are traders/speculators. Fair enough, but in that case, my question is: why do they think the price will keep going up? What drives the upward trend in price, other than a lot of people piling on cash?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. -1

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Good point. No one invests in currencies because they’re a bad investment - by design. Current institutional economics de rigueur mandates that currencies should be inflationary. This is a policy decision, not an inherent property of currencies in general. If the policy were different, people might treat currencies more like government bonds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        On the other hand, people (and institutions) actually do invest into derivatives. One could argue that ETFs (generally considered the best choice for passive investors) are a kind of derivative, although mostly for PR reasons ETF providers reject that classification. Typically people mean some nonlinear contract on an underlying, like an option (also a perfectly reasonably investment depending on your goals).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Gold doesn’t issue any dividends, but people (and companies, and governments) still invest in it. Where does its value come from? I’ll leave that to you to think about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bitcoin is interesting because it has some properties of both commodities (like gold) and currencies. It arguably has most of the beneficial propterties of gold, as well as the property of (nominally) being substantially easier to handle and transfer.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Aside from having some sort of a lower bound on price because it has uses as a metal, the difference with gold is that it has the benefit of being widely (practically universally) accepted as something of value. Presumably it also has relatively low price volatility (I’m not sure).

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Is the idea then that Bitcoin will also become universally accepted as an “investment” akin to gold, and have a somewhat stable price? Is that at odds with multiple competing cryptocurrencies in existence, especially in the situation where new cryptocurrencies can be added without limitation? Do you think there will be a small number of “investment grade” cryptocurrencies?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            the difference with gold is that it has the benefit of being widely (practically universally) accepted as something of value.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Fun fact! In The Silk Road Valerie Hansen talks about how trade worked along (drumroll) the silk road. Merchants and armies would use both notes and gold as a medium of exchange. However, in more remote areas or areas in economic or military chaos, everybody used dry food or bolts of cloth as a medium of exchange. There’s a relatively thin band of instability where fiat currencies are not accepted but gold is. Usually you either can buy and sell currency anyway, or nobody wants your gold anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Presumably it also has relatively low price volatility

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Gold swings pretty wildly.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              There’s a relatively thin band of instability where fiat currencies are not accepted but gold is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Compared to the silk road days, I wouldn’t be surprised if the band has gotten even narrower, since USD in many places now serves as a kind of universal backup currency in preference to gold. It’s quite common for people in countries with political and/or economic unrest that’s led to a loss of faith in the national currency to turn to black-market dollars for day-to-day trading, while turning to gold for that purpose is pretty rare.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree that the ability of gold to be a fallback currency is very questionable. Considering the price swings, I’m not sure how comparing Bitcoin to gold presents Bitcoin in a positive light.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                So what I’m left with is that both gold and Bitcoin speculation is entirely driven by group behaviour dynamics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                              No one invests in currencies

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Depending on how one uses the words “invests” this is not actually true. Currency speculation happens with fiat just like it does with cryptos. It’s probably not popular with the retail market in USA, but it happens elsewhere

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                That’s exactly the distinction I was drawing: investing vs speculation. Currency speculation is of course done a lot.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        I’d like to have edited my comment below, but it’s not possible any longer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Anyway, current total “market cap” is now $684B, a “loss” of $116B compared to the high water mark of 800B.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Why?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Because Coinmarketcap.com decided to remove South Korean exchanges from their calculations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is a fair complaint; a more accurate notion of market cap accounts for regional liquidity limits and sources of friction. This occurs in any region with capital controls, and isn’t unique to cryptocurrencies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                            True. A big issue in cryptocurrency in general is the interface (i.e. exchanges) between crypto and nationally-backed fiat currencies. This is where the scamming, fraud, and dishonest trading happens.