Quotes in 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010
it's like arguing that fairies are coming out of my toaster in the middle of the night. You can't prove to me that there aren't fairies in my toaster, but that doesn't mean you should take me seriously. What I have a problem with is not so much religion or god, but faith. When you say you believe something in your heart and therefore you can act on it, you have completely justified the 9/11 bombers. You have justified Charlie Manson. If it's true for you, why isn't it true for them? Why are you different? If you say "I believe there's an all-powerful force of love in the universe that connects us all, and I have no evidence of that but I believe it in my heart," then it's perfectly okay to believe in your heart that Sharon Tate deserves to die. It's perfectly okay to believe in your heart that you need to fly planes into buildings for Allah.

--Penn Jillette
Read the rest in Penn Jillette Is Willing to Be a Guest on Adolf Hitler's Talk Show | Little Gold Men | Vanity Fair

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Human-computer interaction has found a sweet spot on the iPad. It’s all the power of desktop computing, plus the valuable constraints of mobile devices, minus the limitations of both. It just makes sense. Use one for a couple hours and your desktop or laptop will seem clumsy, arbitrary, and bewildering. It is, simply, how (most) computing should be.

You can be as cooly aloof as you like about the device, but it won’t change the fact that it’s a fundamental step forward in computing. Many consumers can surely afford to sit this initial release out until the costs come down and the quality goes up. But if you work in tech, you should spend some time with an iPad. If it doesn’t change the way you think about what you do, you’re either a genius or an idiot.

--Alex Payne
Read the rest in Alex Payne — The Moderate's Position on iPad Openness

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I am an old Republican. I am religious, yet not a fanatic. I am a free-marketer; yet, I believe in the role of the government as a fair evenhanded referee. I am socially conservative; yet, I believe that my lesbian niece and my gay grandchild should have the full protection of the law and live as free Americans enjoying every aspect of our society with no prejudices and/or restrictions. Nowadays, my political and socio-economic profile would make me a Marxist, not a Republican.

--Chris Currey
Read the rest in How the GOP Purged Me | FrumForum

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

not all innovation leads to a more efficient and productive economy - let alone a better society. Private incentives matter, and if they are not well aligned with social returns, the result can be excessive risk taking, excessively shortsighted behavior, and distorted innovation. For example, while the benefits of many of the financial-engineering innovations of recent years are hard to prove, let alone quantify, the costs associated with them - both economic and social - are apparent and enormous.

Indeed, financial engineering did not create products that would help ordinary citizens manage the simple risk of home ownership - with the consequence that millions have lost their homes, and millions more are likely to do so. Instead, innovation was directed at perfecting the exploitation of those who are less educated, and at circumventing the regulations and accounting standards that were designed to make markets more efficient and stable. As a result, financial markets, which are supposed to manage risk and allocate capital efficiently, created risk and misallocated wildly.

--Joseph Stiglitz
Read the rest in Harsh lessons we may need to learn again

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I travel a great deal and visit with companies of all sizes. It’s fascinating to visit places where there are 20 people doing work I know is done by 3 or 4 at one of their competitors, often with better results. It’s bizarre to see smart, senior people who have forgotten it’s possible in this universe to make things happen without talking to a committee, filling out forms, or doing extensive market research. The bigger a company gets the more dependencies there are between decisions, which makes it natural for committees and approvals to grow in number. I get that. But it’s typically easier to add processes than it is to remove them. Over time bigger companies accumulate process, it gets inherited, and no one can even imagine a world that’s lean or efficient. Big companies should have dedicated process simplifers, senior people who just run around, point our areas that can be leaner or simpler, or where line level employees should be more autonomous, to keep this tendency in check.

--Scott Berkun
Read the rest in Why do big companies suck? « Scott Berkun

Friday, February 12, 2010

British authorities have made it mandatory for travelers to submit to the naked body scanners when asked and have overturned previous rules that prevented under 18’s from passing through the devices.

Within days of the devices being introduced at Heathrow, staff have abused their professionalism and printed out naked scans of a famous actor for their own titillation.

We were promised all along that the body scanners “increased privacy” because they were only accessible to a single staff member who had no personal contact with the passenger taking the scan, in addition to the assurance that the images could not be saved and were instantly deleted. It in fact turns out that airport staff have been saving, printing and circulating naked body scans in complete violation of these supposed guarantees.

--Paul Joseph Watson
Read the rest in Exposed: Naked Body Scanner Images Of Film Star Printed, Circulated By Airport Staff

Monday, February 8, 2010
I'm sure when Peyton Manning was growing up he always wanted to throw the TD pass that gave the Saints a Super Bowl win. Now he has.

--Jorge Arangure
Read the rest in How Sean Payton's daring playcalling won the New Orleans Saints their first Super Bowl. - By Josh Levin

Friday, January 29, 2010

Yes, TSA scans most bags for explosives. Mandates were put in place after 9/11 that have greatly increased the percentage of bags that are run through high-tech detectors, with a goal of screening all of them. But eight years later, screening is still not fully comprehensive. It does not yet include 100 percent of luggage and cargo, and procedures remain inadequate at many overseas airports from which thousands of U.S.-registered jetliners depart each week.

Neither is there widespread screening for explosive materials that somebody can carry on his or her person. Good luck getting a hobby knife through a concourse checkpoint, while a pocket full of Semtex is unlikely to be noticed.

--Patrick Smith
Read the rest in The latest on Northwest flight 253 | The Economist

Sunday, January 24, 2010

There's only one political party in the entire world that is so inept, cowardly and bungling that it could manage to simultaneously lick the boots of Wall Street bankers and then get blamed by the voters for being flaming revolutionary socialists.

It's the same party that has allowed the opposition to go on a thirty year scorched earth campaign, stealing everything in sight from middle and working class voters, and yet successfully claim to be protecting ‘real Americans' from out-of-touch elites.

It's the same party that could run a decorated combat hero against a war evader in 1972, only to be successfully labeled as national security wimps.

Just to be sure, it then did the exact same thing again in 2004.

It's the same party that stood by silently while two presidential elections in a row were stolen away from them.

How ‘bout dem Dems, eh?

--David Michael Green
Read the rest in How to Squander the Presidency in One Year | CommonDreams.org

Saturday, January 23, 2010
I’m pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in.

--Paul Krugman
Read the rest in He Wasn’t The One We’ve Been Waiting For - Paul Krugman Blog

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Under the threat of a collapse of the entire system, the safety net - intended to help unfortunate individuals meet the exigencies of life - was generously extended to commercial banks, then to investment banks, insurance firms, auto companies, even car-loan companies. Never has so much money been transferred from so many to so few.

We are accustomed to thinking of government transferring money from the well off to the poor. Here it was the poor and average transferring money to the rich. Already heavily burdened taxpayers saw their money - intended to help banks lend so that the economy could be revived - go to pay outsized bonuses and dividends. Dividends are supposed to be a share of profits; here it was simply a share of government largesse.

The justification was that bailing out the banks, however messily, would enable a resumption of lending. That has not happened. All that happened was that average taxpayers gave money to the very institutions that had been gouging them for years - through predatory lending, usurious credit-card interest rates, and non-transparent fees.

The bailout exposed deep hypocrisy all around. Those who had preached fiscal restraint when it came to small welfare programs for the poor now clamored for the world's largest welfare program. Those who had argued for free market's virtue of "transparency" ended up creating financial systems so opaque that banks could not make sense of their own balance sheets. And then the government, too, was induced to engage in decreasingly transparent forms of bailout to cover up its largesse to the banks. Those who had argued for "accountability" and "responsibility" now sought debt forgiveness for the financial sector.

--Joseph Stiglitz
Read the rest in Harsh lessons we may need to learn again

Tuesday, January 19, 2010
In 1886 the U.S. Surpreme court ruled that corporations were entitled to the same protections as people. This was a big deal. It made it possible for executives to make decisions on behalf of a corporation that were illegal, or ethically questionable, without being directly liable for them, and gave constitutional rights to entities that were not people. Combined with the motive for profit, there are lines big corporations are lead to cross that no indivudal ever would, since the entity of the corporation is held responsible, and not necessarily the individual leaders.

--Scott Berkun
Read the rest in Why do big companies suck? « Scott Berkun

Friday, January 15, 2010
Use 256-bit random numbers. The "birthday paradox" states that in order to avoid collisions you need to select random values from twice the bit-size of the number of values you will be selecting. I doubt any application thus far has come close to selecting 2^64 random values; but if computers continue to scale exponentially, this could occur in the upcoming decade. In most applications, using 256-bit random values instead of 128-bit random values carries no significant increase in cost; but it puts randomly finding a collision safely into the realm of "not going to happen with all the computers on Earth in the lifetime of the solar system" problems.

--Colin Percival
Read the rest in Cryptographic Right Answers

Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I wish that, just once, some terrorist would try something that you can only foil by upgrading the passengers to first class and giving them free drinks.

--Bruce Schneier
Read the rest in The latest on Northwest flight 253 | The Economist

Tuesday, January 12, 2010
markets are not self-correcting. Indeed, without adequate regulation, they are prone to excess. In 2009, we again saw why Adam Smith's invisible hand often appeared invisible: it is not there. The bankers' pursuit of self-interest (greed) did not lead to the well-being of society; it did not even serve their shareholders and bondholders well. It certainly did not serve homeowners who are losing their homes, workers who have lost their jobs, retirees who have seen their retirement funds vanish, or taxpayers who paid hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out the banks.

--Joseph E. Stiglitz
Read the rest in Harsh lessons we may need to learn again

Wednesday, January 6, 2010
the widespread paranoia across America that the world will end in 2012 because an extinct Mayan civilization from half a millennium ago said so, and that we still need court cases to decide whether or not evolution by natural selection should be taught in our public schools, and I'm left fearing the future of America's leadership on the world stage of science and technology.

--Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Read the rest in What Were the Science Breakthroughs of 2009? | PBS NewsHour | Dec. 31, 2009 | PBS

Tuesday, January 5, 2010
In the spring of 2005 I had the pleasure of visiting India. While I was there I spent time at several organizations discussing with them how to become more agile. Part way through the trip I spent some time with a gentleman who worked for an IT outsourcing service firm. One aspect of his job was to take the large requirements documents provided by their American clients, which were typically hundreds of pages in length, and to summarize them down to something less than ten pages. This summary was then provided to the development team, not the detailed requirements. They did this because they discovered that no matter how well the documentation had been written the problem still remained that the documents were error prone, contradictory, and far too verbose. This in turn led to the wrong software being developed. Experience showed them that by giving the developers the overview document and then having them talk with the client on a regular basis, daily conference calls were common, that they could do a far better job. In short, this CMMI level 4 firm discovered that a significant productivity improvement (SPI) strategy was to reduce requirements documentation, not increase it. Granted, writing this document up front would hopefully have had the benefit that the client settled on a common vision. However, they could still have achieved this same goal without having to write some much documentation (e.g. perhaps they should have just written the 10-page summary to begin with).

--Scott Ambler
Read the rest in The TAGRI (They Aren't  Gonna Read It) Principle of Software Development

Monday, January 4, 2010

Many software programmers consider Intel's compiler the best optimizing compiler on the market, and it is often the preferred compiler for the most critical applications. Likewise, Intel is supplying a lot of highly optimized function libraries for many different technical and scientific applications. In many cases, there are no good alternatives to Intel's function libraries.

Unfortunately, software compiled with the Intel compiler or the Intel function libraries has inferior performance on AMD and VIA processors. The reason is that the compiler or library can make multiple versions of a piece of code, each optimized for a certain processor and instruction set, for example SSE2, SSE3, etc. The system includes a function that detects which type of CPU it is running on and chooses the optimal code path for that CPU. This is called a CPU dispatcher. However, the Intel CPU dispatcher does not only check which instruction set is supported by the CPU, it also checks the vendor ID string. If the vendor string says "GenuineIntel" then it uses the optimal code path. If the CPU is not from Intel then, in most cases, it will run the slowest possible version of the code, even if the CPU is fully compatible with a better version.

I have complained about this behavior for years, and so have many others, but Intel have refused to change their CPU dispatcher. If Intel had advertised their compiler as compatible with Intel processors only, then there would probably be no complaints. The problem is that they are trying to hide what they are doing. Many software developers think that the compiler is compatible with AMD processors, and in fact it is, but unbeknownst to the programmer it puts in a biased CPU dispatcher that chooses an inferior code path whenever it is running on a non-Intel processor. If programmers knew this fact they would probably use another compiler. Who wants to sell a piece of software that doesn't work well on AMD processors?

--Agner Fog
Read the rest in Agner`s CPU blog

Earlier quotes:

[ Cafe au Lait | Books | Trade Shows | FAQ | Tutorial | User Groups ]

Copyright 2010 Elliotte Rusty Harold
Last Modified at Sunday, June 20, 2010 10:01:14 AM