Aah you were there!

Friday, May 01


Je Suis Protein World


Posted by: Pixy Misa at 12:55 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 4 words, total size 1 kb.

Monday, March 23


Stupid Facts

So for some reason I was looking at the Wikipedia entry for the geography of the Northern Territory.  Blah blah blah, largest lake is Lake Amadeus, with an area of WTF km2.

There's a lake of over 1000 km2 in the Northern Territory?!  I know the northern parts along the Gulf of Carpentaria and Timor Sea are positively soggy, but most of the state is arid, and I'd have noticed a lake that big on a map just by casual inspection.



Salt lake.

Most of the time, dry salt lake.

Like Lake Eyre, which is the largest lake in Australia, and the 18th largest lake in the world....  When it has water in it.

Or the Todd River, where the annual regatta had to be cancelled in 1993 because there was water in the river.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:13 AM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 139 words, total size 1 kb.

Wednesday, March 11


Am I The Crazy One?

I've been arguing today with people who think that the letter by 47 Republican Senators - explaining to the leaders of Iran the principles of enumerated powers and the branches of the US government - constitutes treason.

In other words, I've been arguing with crazy people.  What does that make me?

On the other hand, I got my first Reddit Gold.  Which means that someone essentially paid money to upvote me.  So I'm not the only crazy one.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:35 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 83 words, total size 1 kb.

Tuesday, March 10


Idiots And The Games They Play

Every day we are presented with new evidence of the of the boundless incompetence of the Obama administration when it comes to foreign policy.  From giving a press conference detailing plans to retake territory captured by ISIS to chasing a deal with Iran that everyone knows they won't honour, the White House seems unable to put a foot right.


Russia, for example, and to some extent Iran, are in game theory terms rational actors.  In an uncertain world, they will look to their short term interest.  That means that unless you pose a convincing threat, they will cheat every single time, treating international politics as an Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma scenario.

The West is both affluent and peaceful precisely because it has learned not to do that.  Except under extreme provocation, Western nations co-operate with each other every time, a strategy known as superrationality.

Superrational actors take into account not only their short-term interests, but the interests of the other party in the interaction, and that party's own reasoning.

If you know that another party is a superrational actor, by far the most rewarding long-term strategy is superrationality on your part.  This involves convincing them that you are superrational as well, of course, because superrationality can only work when it's known to be mutual.

Rational actors in a superrational world are shut out of the peace and affluence of the superational, because, as far as the superrational actors are concerned, the rational actors are a bunch of lying cheating back-stabbing murderous lunatics.

Where to the rational actors, the superrational actors are easy pickings and, frankly, soft in the head.

But if you can persuade everyone to take up the superrational strategy, everyone will benefit.  Defense budgets will drop to essentially zero, with the world's military turned into International Rescue.  No-one will be imposing economic sanctions on anyone else.  No-one will be starving or rioting.  There will be no need for spies or secret police.  For the cost of any of the recent relatively minor wars, we could have established a self-sustaining colony on Mars.

But while a rational strategy against a superrational actor throws away enormous potential in the long-term for real short-term gains, a superrational strategy against a rational actor always loses.  

Only a complete idiot would follow a superrational strategy against a known rational player.

And that's precisely what the Obama administration does.

Why?  Well, because they're complete idiots.  Why are they complete idiots?  For now I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:09 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 423 words, total size 3 kb.

Saturday, February 28


Periwinkle And Bistre

The llamas' names are Periwinkle and Bistre.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 10:55 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 10 words, total size 1 kb.

Monday, February 09


I'm Gonna Sing The Doom Song Now

Google News search for Greece is doomed.


Posted by: Pixy Misa at 04:10 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 14 words, total size 1 kb.

Sunday, January 18


Charge Of The Rights Brigade

Fascists to right of them,
Fascists to left of them,
Fascists in front of them
    Splutter'd and blunder'd;
Storm'd at with speech and spell,
Boldly they code and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
    Rode the cryptographers.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 07:02 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 47 words, total size 1 kb.


Let One Hundred Fascists Bloom

The leader of the free world weighs in on the debate:
"If we find evidence of a terrorist plot… and despite having a phone number, despite having a social media address or email address, we can’t penetrate that, that’s a problem,” Obama said. He said he believes Silicon Valley companies also want to solve the problem. "They’re patriots.”
They may be patriots, Mr Obama.  You are not.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 06:31 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 70 words, total size 1 kb.

Friday, January 16


In Other News...

The Oxford University Press issued a guideline to authors not to mention bacon for fear of offending unspecified parties, possibly Presbyterians.

The publisher didn't specify whether they were referring to Roger, Francis, or Kevin.

(If this is a joke, then it's a very widely sourced one.)

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 03:15 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 49 words, total size 1 kb.


Standing On The Doorstep, Leaning On The Bell

Reactions to the appalling murder of the staff at Charlie Hebdo have been, shall we say, mixed. The culprits have been chased down and shot, which is only as it should be. Millions of people and dozens of world leaders have turned out in support. The first issue published since the attack sold out immediately - and the print run has been scaled up from sixty thousand to five million to meet demand.

Meanwhile, major media outlets reporting on the events have taken great care to censor the images of the cartoons at the centre of all this, which makes one think that they have forgotten what journalism is. Pope Francis has said "One cannot make fun of faith." Which is odd, because it's actually pretty easy. And the usual assemblage of useful idiots has come crawling out of the woodwork to say "Of course I support freedom of speech, but -" To paraphrase Robert Heinlein's character Lazarus Long:
The correct way to punctuate a sentence that starts: "Of course I support freedom of speech, but -" is to place a period after the word "but." Don't use excessive force in supplying such a moron with a period. Cutting his throat is only a momentary pleasure and is bound to get you talked about.
But - sorry.

In all this the most shameful response so far - and I hope the most shameful response ever - has been that of British Prime Minister David Cameron.
And let me now address very directly this issue of how we have the right legal framework to intercept the communications of potential terrorists. There are two issues here. One is what is called communications data. That is not the content of a phone call; it is just who made which call to which person, and when. As everybody knows, this vital communications data is absolutely crucial, not just in terrorism, but in finding missing people; it's vital in murder investigations; it's used in almost every single serious crime investigation.

And what matters, in simple terms, is that we can access this communications data whether people are using a fixed phone, a mobile phone, or more modern ways of communicating via the internet. We have already legislated in this parliament to safeguard this vital data, because it was under threat from a particular European directive. But it is important in the future that we make sure we can get this data when people are using the more modern forms of communication that are being made possible through the internet. So that is one piece of additional legislation that will be necessary.

The second thing, which is more contentious, is about accessing the content of a telephone call, or another form of communication. And here again the same problem exists. Will we be able to access the content as the internet and new ways of communicating develop?

Now I have a very simple principle to apply here, which should be at the heart of the legislation that will be necessary. The simple principle is this:

In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people, which, even in extremis, with a signed warrant from the Home Secretary personally, that we cannot read?

Now, up until now, governments of this country have said no; we must not have such a means of communication.

That is why, in extremis, it's been possible to read someone's letter. That is why, in extremis, it's been possible to listen in to someone's telephone call. That is why the same applies with mobile communications.

Now, let me stress again, this cannot happen unless the Home Secretary personally signs a warrant. We have a better system for safeguarding this very this very intrusive power than probably any other country I can think of.

But the question remains, are we going to allow a means of communication where it simply isn't possible to do that?

And my answer to that question is no we must not.
(I couldn't find a transcript of this speech online, so I transcribed it myself. I apologise for any errors I may have introduced.)

Now there are a number of things I need to say about this. In order:

Mr Cameron, you have no right to dictate the means of communication available to the British public.

My outrage at your position is only slight tempered by the fact that you have no power to dictate the means of communication available to the British public. Encryption is mathematics, and you cannot legislate mathematics.

You seem to believe that all you need to do is contact a small number of major companies and insist that they install back doors in their software for your spies, and that will be the end of it. If that is indeed your belief, then, Mr Cameron, you have been quite remarkably poorly advised, and should fire everyone, immediately.

First, back doors in communications systems are security breaches. Security breaches get exploited. That's simply what happens. Those major companies are not going to talk to you.

Second, any competent programmer can deploy an unbreakably secure communications system in a day. Making it user-friendly, making it attractive, making it scale, making the idiot users select sane passwords, those are the hard problems. Encryption we've solved.

To actually implement your proposed legislation would mean prohibiting computers from the United Kingdom entirely. Not even North Korea has gone that far.
The first duty of any government is to keep our country and our people safe.
No, Mr Cameron. The first duty of any government is to not become a threat to the very people it serves. All else comes after that.

If you read the United States' Bill of Rights, you will notice that it does not specify what the government can do. It specifies what the government cannot do. It says, Congress shall make no law...

George Orwell wrote us a powerful warning in 1984. Mr Cameron, what he was warning us about was you.  Orwell didn't warn us against attackers from outside, but against our own principles leading us into disaster.  The death of the soul of a nation comes not from invasion, but from a thousand cuts to the freedom of its people.

Even the NSA, in its blatant breaches of fundamental human rights and the US Constitution, had the grace to be embarrassed, and to carry out its acts in secret.

That you could even present your position in public tells the world that something is very, very rotten in the state of Britain.

Mr Cameron, you are not just taking the first steps down the road to fascism; you are standing on fascism's doorstep, leaning on the bell, peering in the window to see if anyone is home.

There is still time to step back. But the sand is running out of the hourglass very quickly.

Update: The Guardian has something worthwhile to say on this.  That's twice in one week.  Remarkable.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 02:32 AM | Comments (33) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 1164 words, total size 8 kb.

<< Page 1 of 40 >>
81kb generated in CPU 0.05, elapsed 0.0645 seconds.
57 queries taking 0.0287 seconds, 245 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.