Today in Dunning-Krugerrand news

Bitcoin and Ethereum use the same amount of energy as the whole of Austria:

And then there's the environmental problem. The environmental problem? Aren't we talking about digital coins? Yes, which makes it even stranger. Solving all those complex puzzles requires a huge amount of energy. So much energy that the two biggest blockchains in the world -- bitcoin and Ethereum -- are now using up the same amount of electricity as the whole of Austria. Carrying out a payment with Visa requires about 0.002 kilowatt-hours; the same payment with bitcoin uses up 906 kilowatt-hours, more than half a million times as much, and enough to power a two-person household for about three months.

And the environmental problem is only going to grow. As miners put more effort into solving the puzzles (ie, building more of those dark server caves in Alaska), the puzzles will automatically become more difficult, requiring more calculation power. It's an endless, pointless arms race in order to facilitate the same number of transactions with more and more energy.

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I'll take "problems we solved correctly in the 80s" for $100, Alex


It's 2020 and developers still think "reverse chronological order, scrolling until I see something I vaguely remember having seen before for half a second" is the way to go. Good job everybody.


Proper threading, a real editor, post scoring, and kill files: trn was the pinnacle of user interfaces for keeping up with the social media feed.

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Since the mythology is that Facebook's advertising engine is a hypnotism mind-control ray that can turn anyone into a Nazi in a week, sometimes it's good to reflect upon how absolutely terrible they are at advertising.

Every few days I scroll through Instagram. Regrettably, I do this using the iPhone app, since they barely have a web site. This means that, unlike the rest of my existence, I don't have ad blockers, and it's awful.

For a while, every time I saw an ad, I reported it as "offensive". Because I find advertising offensive, so where's the lie? What I learned from this process is that if you report an ad as offensive, it will stop showing you that particular ad, but will still show you other ads from that account! So instead I started blocking every account that showed me an ad. That works, though it takes 5 clicks, but hey, everybody needs a hobby.

The Instagram accounts I follow break down roughly like this:

  • 70% unpopular bands;
  • 28% burlesque performers;
  • 2% people who do horror-themed prosthetic makeup.

So with that as the input, and after years of blocking ads, the ads that Instagram shows me are:

  • 95% realtors;
  • 5% financial investment podcasts.

There's a smattering of other weird ads in there, like the occasional ad for the gift shop of a museum in a state I've never visited, which can probably be attributed to an intern's first failed attempt at ad targeting. But, pretty much realtors.

It's always realtors no matter how many I block.

Maybe this is because realtors are the cockroaches of commerce; no matter how many you squash, there are thousands more, and they just keep coming. This tracks with paper spam, too: realtor postcards outweigh political advertising at least 3:1. The realtor mindset has a "firehose" mentality.

It did please me to report an ad for the only competing ad network as spam, though.

Also, most of the time Instagram shows me ads every five photos. Five photos, one ad, repeat like clockwork. It didn't used to be this bloodthirsty. Maybe my blocking triggered it, or maybe they do that to everybody now.

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SOMA Nature Walk

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HTML5 accelerator card

_Ninji: "presenting the world's first HTML5 accelerator card, for high-speed web browsing"

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Tactical Snacks


Kitchen appliances:

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jwz mixtape 221

Please enjoy jwz mixtape 221.

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Current Music: as noted

DMV allows deployment of fully-automated murderbots on San Francisco streets

Cruise says it plans to test vehicles without a human safety driver behind the wheel before the end of 2020.

Cruise will be allowed to test "five autonomous vehicles without a driver behind the wheel on specified streets within San Francisco," the agency said. "The vehicles are designed to operate on roads with posted speed limits not exceeding 30 miles per hour, during all times of the day and night, but will not test during heavy fog or heavy rain."

A spokesperson for the DMV did not immediately respond to a question about the streets to which Cruise's vehicles will be confined. [...]

The California permit came through before the federal government's, which is weighing a separate application from Cruise to deploy a fleet of fully driverless vehicles without steering wheels or pedals.

As I keep saying: I would like to know the answer to the question of who gets charged with vehicular homicide when (not if) one of these machines kills someone. Even if they are ultimately ruled to be not at fault, what name goes on the court docket? Is it:

  • The Cruise employee "non-employee independent contractor" in the passenger seat?
  • Their shift lead?
  • The CEO, Dan Ammann?
  • The author(s) of the (proprietary, un-auditable) software?
  • The "corporate person" known as General Motors?

Self-driving cars will never be safe on city streets. This is a hard AI problem that is far beyond any current technology, and that cannot be solved without human-level general artificial intelligence. Every company claiming that this is possible is lying. Their grift is to extract money from investors while weathering an "acceptable" level of increased human casualties. If there is a more literal definition of blood money, I don't know what it is.

Once again, from Fight Club:

I'm a recall coordinator. My job is to apply the formula. It's a story problem.

A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 miles per hour. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now: do we initiate a recall?

Take the number of vehicles in the field, (A), and multiply it by the probable rate of failure, (B), then multiply the result by the average out-of-court settlement, (C). A times B times C equals X... If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

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Uber is using iOS push notifications to spam political ads

  1. Fuck Uber and their city-destroying, journalist-murdering blood money.

  2. If Uber wants it, it is by definition evil and you want the opposite.

  3. MADD are insane prohibitionists and religious fundamentalists.

Vote NO on Prop 22.

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A Libertarian Walks into a Bear

A Town Gone Feral:

And so the Free Towners spent years pursuing an aggressive program of governmental takeover and delegitimation, their appetite for litigation matched only by their enthusiasm for cutting public services. [...]

Potholes multiplied, domestic disputes proliferated, violent crime spiked, and town workers started going without heat. "Despite several promising efforts," Hongoltz-Hetling dryly notes, "a robust Randian private sector failed to emerge to replace public services." Instead, Grafton, "a haven for miserable people," became a town gone "feral."

Enter the bears, stage right.

Black bears, it should be stressed, are generally a pretty chill bunch. The woods of North America are home to some three-quarters of a million of them; on average, there is at most one human fatality from a black bear attack per year, even as bears and humans increasingly come into contact in expanding suburbs and on hiking trails. [...]

The black bears in Grafton were not like other black bears. Singularly "bold," they started hanging out in yards and on patios in broad daylight. Most bears avoid loud noises; these casually ignored the efforts of Graftonites to run them off. Chickens and sheep began to disappear at alarming rates. Household pets went missing, too. One Graftonite was playing with her kittens on her lawn when a bear bounded out of the woods, grabbed two of them, and scarfed them down. Soon enough, the bears were hanging out on porches and trying to enter homes. [...]

Grappling with what to do about the bears, the Graftonites also wrestled with the arguments of certain libertarians who questioned whether they should do anything at all -- especially since several of the town residents had taken to feeding the bears, more or less just because they could. [...]

No one wants bears in their backyard, but apparently no one wants to invest sustainably in institutions doing the unglamorous work to keep them out either.

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