May 8th, 2004


(no subject)

According to this the average IQ of a state corresponds fairly well with which way the state voted in the 2000 elections.

Two things spring instantly to mind:
1) Where do the IQ figures come from?
2) If the IQ figures are correct - Mississipi has an _average_ IQ of 85?!?!?!?!?

I'm somewhat disbelieving at this point...

Programming Languages

bohemiancoast recently commented on the fact that PCs don't come with programming languages built in. Which is, in many ways, a good point - DOS used to come with a programming language, albeit a not terribly good one (QBasic), but Windows doesn't come with one at all.

Well, it _does_ come with Windows Scripting Host, which allows you to write VBScript applications using Notepad, but that's not of a lot of interest to most people. If you have Microsoft Office then you can write in VBA which does allow for an awful lot of functionality - you can do almost anything from there if you put your mind to it. But that (legally speaking) requires a fairly large investment, even if most people do seem to have it.

If you have .NET installed then you can use the compiler that comes with it to create anything you like, but without development tools it's not that easy to create any kind of GUI. There are free development tools out there, but they don't come with the system, so I'm not sure they count either.

With the spread of the internet, does it really matter if PCs don't come with a programming language any more? When you can have any one of a hundred different languages, IDEs and environments installed within a couple of hours, does it need to come with one? Or does the lack of a bundled language mean that people who might otherwise have had their interest piqued are less likely to investigate?


My current default pic is

I'm thinking of moving to a new one

Which Picture?

Old One
New One
Jesus! They're both hideous!
Don't care

(no subject)

The sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison was not an invention of maverick guards, but part of a system of ill-treatment and degradation used by special forces soldiers that is now being disseminated among ordinary troops and contractors who do not know what they are doing, according to British military sources.The techniques devised in the system, called R2I - resistance to interrogation - match the crude exploitation and abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad.

One former British special forces officer who returned last week from Iraq, said: “It was clear from discussions with US private contractors in Iraq that the prison guards were using R2I techniques, but they didn’t know what they were doing.”

He said British and US military intelligence soldiers were trained in these techniques, which were taught at the joint services interrogation centre in Ashford, Kent, now transferred to the former US base at Chicksands …

Many British and US special forces soldiers learn about the degradation techniques because they are subjected to them to help them resist if captured. They include soldiers from the SAS, SBS, most air pilots, paratroopers and members of pathfinder platoons …

“The crucial difference from Iraq is that frontline soldiers who are made to experience R2I techniques themselves develop empathy. They realise the suffering they are causing. But people who haven’t undergone this don’t realise what they are doing to people. It’s a shambles in Iraq”.

Theresa Nielsen Hayden talks about it here.

The most important part about the whole thing, to me, is that incidents like these happen any time that anyone invades/controls anyone else. Everything from The Stanford Prison Experiment to The Rape of Nanking shows that this can and will happen whenever it gets the chance.

The fault with the US army is not that it condoned this kind of action, it's that it didn't expect it to happen, look for it and stamp it out before it had the chance to happen more than once. There ought to have been incredible pressure from the top to say "You will not harm POW in any way whatsoever or you will pay for it.", passed all the way through the chain of command and backed up with swift judicial means.


The WTO just ruled that US farm subsidies are illegal. And they look likely to rule the same way about EU subsidies.

Now _this_ would make a huge difference to poverty in the third world.