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Bad Code

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"Oh my God, why did you scotch-tape a bunch of hammers together?" "It's ok! Nothing depends on this wall being destroyed efficiently."
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CallMeWilliam
5 days ago
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This is so close to the fire I am putting out that it hurts.
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2 public comments
Covarr
6 days ago
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The wall may not be load-bearing, but it could be statistically significant. Let's not throw it out just yet.
Moses Lake, WA
alt_text_bot
6 days ago
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"Oh my God, why did you scotch-tape a bunch of hammers together?" "It's ok! Nothing depends on this wall being destroyed efficiently."
hairfarmerrich
6 days ago
Is there a way to find related XKCD comics? Like "code quality 3": https://xkcd.com/1833/
hananc
5 days ago
Search http://www.explainxkcd.com

Five street signs that really mean the street design is wrong

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There are lot of street signs around the region that essentially substitute for safe street design. It's as if decision makers sometimes think "We could design this street to be low-speed and safe for pedestrians, but nah we'll just put up a sign instead and not really fix the problem." Here are some examples we found:

This sign really means the street is designed for driving faster than safety legitimately allows. 

3rd and E Streets, SW. Image by Matt Johnson used with permission.

This sign really means a lot of pedestrians want to make an obvious connection, but it might inconvenience cars so we're not going to let them.

Clarendon Boulevard. Image by the author.

This sign really means we know we should put in bike lanes, but nah

Georgia Avenue in Aspen Hill Image by Dan Reed used with permission.

This sign really means we're happy to throw a guilt trip at outsiders, but not happy to give our children a sidewalk.

Image by Magnolia677 on Wikipedia licensed under Creative Commons.

And the pièce de résistance, this sign, which really means we don't have any intention of even pretending to design a safe street.

Image by Bryan Barnett-Woods used with permission.



Have you come across any signs like this? Please share in the comments!

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CallMeWilliam
42 days ago
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That's the sign outside our grocery store in Arlington!
diannemharris
42 days ago
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Suspect In Would-Be Airport Bombing Nabbed With Help From REI

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An undated photo provided by the Buncombe County Detention Center shows Michael Christopher Estes, who is accused of planting an improvised explosive device at the Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina on Oct. 6.

Someone left an improvised explosive device at an airport in Asheville, N.C., last week, and a new backpack offered a clue. Some are wondering why the incident didn't receive more national attention.

(Image credit: AP)

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CallMeWilliam
61 days ago
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This is how it is supposed to work.
diannemharris
61 days ago
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fxer
62 days ago
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had to get that member rebate
Bend, Oregon

Changes in Password Best Practices

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NIST recently published their four-volume SP800-63-3 Digital Identity Guidelines. Among other things, they make three important suggestions when it comes to passwords:

  1. Stop it with the annoying password complexity rules. They make passwords harder to remember. They increase errors because artificially complex passwords are harder to type in. And they don't help that much. It's better to allow people to use pass phrases.

  2. Stop it with password expiration. That was an old idea for an old way we used computers. Today, don't make people change their passwords unless there's indication of compromise.

  3. Let people use password managers. This is how we deal with all the passwords we need.

These password rules were failed attempts to fix the user. Better we fix the security systems.

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CallMeWilliam
65 days ago
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A meeting recently:
Developer Team: Our passwords require special characters, and max out at 30 characters.
Me: Why on EARTH did you do any of that? Why do you have a max?
Devs: Because ... it's hard to remember something long? How long do you want it to be?
Me: ... Get rid of the max. Get rid of the special characters.
CIO: Wait. Why do we have passwords at all? Can we link to google/linkedin/facebook and make it their problem? We are not in the security business.
Devs: Yes!
diannemharris
65 days ago
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acdha
65 days ago
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I’ve been happy watching such sensible guidelines make it through the review process
Washington, DC

Unpopular ideas about crime and punishment

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I’ve been compiling lists of “unpopular ideas,” things that seem weird or bad to most people (at least, to most educated urbanites in the United States, which is the demographic I know best).

Because my collection of unpopular ideas became so long, I’ve broken it into categories. Below, I focus specifically on ideas about crime and punishment. (Here are my two previous lists, on social norms and political/economic systems.) I’ll be posting similar lists on other topics and adding to each one over time as I find new examples.

Why am I making these lists? Even though I disagree with many of these ideas, I nevertheless think it’s valuable to practice engaging with ideas that seem weird or bad, for two reasons: First, because such ideas might occasionally be true, and it’s worth sifting through some duds to find a gem.

And second, because I think our imaginations tend to be too constrained by conventional “common sense,” and that many ideas we accept as true today were counterintuitive to past generations. Considering weird ideas helps de-anchor us from the status quo, and that’s valuable independently of whether those particular ideas are true or not.

Unpopular ideas about crime and punishment:

  1. Juries should be replaced by judges, especially in cases that are complex or subject to bias. (1)
  2. Non-retributive justice: Criminals are purely victims of genetics and circumstance. We should abandon punishment as a goal and instead focus only on preventing future harm. (1)
  3. We should provide prisoners, especially those serving a life sentence, with the means to commit suicide, and encourage them to do so. (1)
  4. We should send destructive drug addicts to towns away from society with free birth control, food, shelter and drugs. It would be less expensive to society than the crimes they commit and the cost of imprisoning them.
  5. Our current prison system mixes punishment with rehabilitation, and therefore does an ineffective job of both. We could get better results either by focusing solely on punishment, or solely on rehabilitation.
  6. Prison labor is just slavery, repackaged. (1, 2)
  7. Pre-punishment (like in Minority Report) would be effective and morally acceptable. (1, 2, 3)
  8. The death penalty is broken only in practice, not in principle. It wouldn’t be difficult to fix and should be kept in place for the worst criminals. Life imprisonment is extremely costly, dangerous to other inmates, and not much more humane than death anyway. (1)
  9. Prison abolitionism: We should get rid of prisons altogether, or reduce the size of the prison population to about five percent of its current size. (1, 2, 3)
  10. Police abolitionism: The benefits the police provide are not great enough to justify the harms and injustices they cause. (1)
  11. We should flog criminals instead of imprisoning them. Variant: we should offer convicts the choice between flogging and imprisonment. (1)
  12. Public shaming is often a more effective solution to crime than imprisonment, and should be more widely used. (1, 2)
  13. It should be legal to blackmail people over crimes they committed. This would provide an extra deterrant for criminals, and be cheap relative to policing. (1)


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diannemharris
93 days ago
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neat! some good some bad, but good point about considering out of bound ideas to encourage new thoughts.
CallMeWilliam
92 days ago
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samuel
94 days ago
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This is a fascinating list.
The Haight in San Francisco

If Your Friends Cite Hillbilly Elegy Favorably, You Should Mock Them

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I do have to respect one thing about J.D. Vance: he’s got a hell of a grift going on. After all, being the conservative that explains white Trump voters to liberals who really want to understand those strange places like southeastern Ohio and West Virginia without ever speaking to anyone from those places. But Vance is doing nothing but pushing a line of propaganda that–amazingly!–fits the policy preferences of people such as his boss, actual vampire Peter “Nosferatu” Thiel and other leading Republicans. He operates in Appalachian stereotypes that liberals are more than willing to internalize which then serve to reinforce the cultural problems that are only fixed by “pulling yourself by your bootstraps” and of course tax breaks to the upper 1%. Vance’s bullshit does not fly with people who actually spend time in these areas, not to mention grew up there. Such as Betsy Rader, who is from near when Vance grew up and is now running for Congress as a Democrat.

From a quick glance at my résumé, you might think me an older, female version of Vance. I was born in Appalachia in the 1960s and grew up in the small city of Newark, Ohio. When I was 9, my parents divorced. My mom became a single mother of four, with only a high school education and little work experience. Life was tough; the five of us lived on $6,000 a year.

Like Vance, I attended Ohio State University on scholarship, working nights and weekends. I graduated at the top of my class and, again like Vance, attended Yale Law School on a financial-need scholarship. Today, I represent people who’ve been fired illegally from their jobs. And now that I’m running for Congress in Northeast Ohio, I speak often with folks who are trying hard but not making much money.

A self-described conservative, Vance largely concludes that his family and peers are trapped in poverty due to their own poor choices and negative attitudes. But I take great exception when he makes statements such as: “We spend our way into the poorhouse. We buy giant TVs and iPads. Our children wear nice clothes thanks to high-interest credit cards and payday loans. We purchase homes we don’t need, refinance them for more spending money, and declare bankruptcy. . . . Thrift is inimical to our being.”

Who is this “we” of whom he speaks? Vance’s statements don’t describe the family in which I grew up, and they don’t describe the families I meet who are struggling to make it in America today. I know that my family lived on $6,000 per year because as children, we sat down with pen and paper to help find a way for us to live on that amount. My mom couldn’t even qualify for a credit card, much less live on credit. She bought our clothes at discount stores.

Thrift was not inimical to our being; it was the very essence of our being.

With lines like “We choose not to work when we should be looking for jobs,” Vance’s sweeping stereotypes are shark bait for conservative policymakers. They feed into the mythology that the undeserving poor make bad choices and are to blame for their own poverty, so taxpayer money should not be wasted on programs to help lift people out of poverty. Now these inaccurate and dangerous generalizations have been made required college reading.

Here is the simple fact: Most poor people work. Seventy-eight percent of families on Medicaid include a household member who is working. People work hard in necessary and important jobs that often don’t pay them enough to live on. For instance, child-care workers earn an average of $22,930 per year, and home health aides average $23,600. (Indeed, it is a sad irony that crucial jobs around caretaking and children have always paid very little.)

But solving those problems won’t buy Peter Thiel more blood of the young! Those solutions might mean raising taxes on the rich. No, better to blame the poor for their own poverty. It’s not like liberals are going to know any different. After all, those people voted for Trump, so they must be complete morons irredeemable to any good policy to begin with. Why, they likely lack teeth!

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CallMeWilliam
99 days ago
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diannemharris
99 days ago
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