Point of Reference

Here’s a point of reference for you. When my father was born, the country of Greece was still using the Julian calendar, the President took office on March 4th, and the manufacture and sale of alcohol in the United States was (mostly) illegal. The British empire was at its largest, and one in every four people on earth were its subjects. The League of Nations was going strong and the Russians were fighting a civil war. When my father was born the Ottoman Empire still existed, though it was being dissolved as a result of WW1, and King Tutankhamun was resting quietly at an undiscovered location in Egypt. Stan Lee had not been born, and Time Magazine, Warner Brothers Studios, and the Hollywood sign did not exist. Luke Parsons, an abolitionist who fought with John Brown in the Kansas Border War (“Bleeding Kansas”) was still alive. The chocolate chip cookie would not be invented for over a decade.

Lazy Data in C++

I’m lazy, and I want my data to be, too. Right now I’m working on a new, natively compiled term rewriter (a new version of Elision). I want lazy data; data that is computed once, on demand. I wrote a little C++ class to do that and I’m sharing it with the world so you can tell me where I’ve gone horribly, laughably, idiotically wrong. I haven’t written C++ is a few years.
Continue reading “Lazy Data in C++”

Secrets

[I have revised this to correct some errors. See the endnotes.]

There are people and governments that want to harm people in this country.  They want to take your money, your property, or even your life.  There are people who want to use force to overthrow the elected government and replace it with something more to their liking.  This is the justification for spying and keeping secrets.  People who threaten you and your country plot in secret, and the government – law enforcement [1] and the defense department in particular – have a duty to protect you.  This is established in the Constitution and is so important that providing for a common defense is one of the very first things mentioned.  To accomplish this mission we must spy on adversaries and even potential adversaries.  The direct implication is that we must keep secrets, such as the identities of our spies and the means we use to spy.  I believe this is all true and completely morally justifiable.  I do not have any problem with the fact that the government must keep secrets, and nor should you.

The scope and lack of fundamental oversight of the NSA data collection program is poison to representative democracy.  The statement “if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear” is the argument of the oppressor and tyrant, and apparently I need to explain why this is so. Continue reading “Secrets”

The Fifth

In the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution the following appears: “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” I await a check from the US government for any of my data (my property) they have seized (copied), say from Facebook or elsewhere, for public use. Hmm… What is just compensation for my thoughtful Facebook posts?