September 29th, 2008

Think Like a Pirate Day

I wish all lj tags worked in previews

I just wasted some time on my pirate poll entry because the poll didn't show up in the preview so I kept fiddling with it until I checked the faq. Just like lj-cut, you just get unhtml-ish text when you preview a poll. *Some* tags, like lj-user and links, do work. Is there a list of what doesn't appear in previews?

Until recently, I've been reluctant to use cuts for spoilers because I felt I couldn't trust my proof-reading and couldn't check the cut in preview. Now that they've added the drop-down buttons at the top of the "post an entry" page, I can use lj-cuts serene in the knowledge that if they don't work, it's not my fault. I just wish they had blockquote as an option.

(CNN) – Rep. Alcee Hastings told an audience of Jewish Democrats Wednesday that they should be wary of Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin because “anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks.”

Now, there are reasons to be dubious about Palin's inclusiveness-- quoting Pegler (an energetic anti-Semite) about the wonderfulness of small towns doesn't look great. Neither does going to a church where a preacher from Jews for Jesus was welcome.

However, none of this has anything to do with whether she hunts, and saying that it does is exactly the rural/urban divide that drives some voter's away from the Democrats, and I can't say they're wrong to not trust a party which includes politicians that view them as murderers.

Link thanks to goodbyemyboy.

Programming languages: More natural than you'd think

I was reading a discussion about C++'s failings and virtues (mostly the failings, but some people like it), and now I'm wondering-- why isn't there translation between computer languages?

I'm not a programmer, but from what I can gather my instincts for what can and can't be done by computers are fairly good.

In theory, all usable computer languages are Turing equivalent.

Afaik, the reason we don't have good machine translation for natural languages is that natural languages are highly and non-obviously contextual. Also, sometimes even authors aren't quite sure what they mean.

If all computer languages are logically equivalent (except, I suppose, for how deep they go into the hardware) and they aren't ambiguous, what's the problem?

Speaking of instinct, I don't know whether not very technical answers to my question are possible. The only thing I'm sure of is that computer translation between computer languages is remotely feasible, it would have happened by now.

Has anyone seen Lakeview Terrace?

I have less than no desire to see it (white police are much more dangerous to black people than the other way around), but I'm curious about how it ended. Who lived? Who died? Did the wife have a part in the action, and if so, what? Do we see a reaction from the authorities?

How much could this solve if it were policy?

That really is the hard problem. In fact, I read that a couple of bankruptcy judges have been voiding mortgages altogether, letting people keep their homes for free, for just this reason: the debtor's lawyer challenges the current mortgage company to show that they own the loan, show the original paperwork, and they can't do it. It got mailed around, moved around, from bank to bank to bank to three other kinds of companies, and now nobody knows where it is.

And from the same post, on the goddamit people could have known front:
When Warren Buffett's company took over Swiss RE way back in 2002, he set a team of forensic accountants on their CDO shares to try to figure out what the things were actually worth, based on generally accepted accounting principles. They came back months later and told him it couldn't be done. So he dumped them, 6 years ago, for pennies on the dollar and never missed them; he'd bought Swiss RE for its other assets. So seriously: the famously "smartest guy in the world" when it comes to money put a team of his best people on trying to figure out who the owners of the collateral were and what the collateral was actually worth for even a tiny fraction of the CDO shares out there, and gave up. It can't be done.

In any case, please pass the word about the legal strategy. A lot of people will probably need it.