Archive for February, 2013

“In our bed, in our bed. *Break*”

The new Yeah Yeah Yeahs single, “Sacrilege”. I seriously dig that guitar counter-melody.

New(ish) David Guetta

David Guetta, “She Wolf”

Aging as an Expression of the Broken Window Fallacy

I meant to blog this when it first popped up in my RSS feed, but the Fighting Aging blog had a post awhile back relating aging to the Broken Window Fallacy. In short, one argument against longevity research is that longer healthy lives will impede opportunities for the young. Quote:

What is the greatest ongoing disaster, the cause of the greatest destruction? The answer is degenerative aging. Aging destroys human capital: knowledge, skills, talents, the ability to work, the ability to create. It does so at a ferocious rate, a hundred thousand lives a day, and all that they might have accomplished if not struck down. If translated to a dollar amount, the cost is staggering – even shifts in life expectancy have gargantuan value. And why shouldn’t they? Time spent alive and active is the basis of all wealth.

It is unfortunate, but many people advocate for the continuation of aging, for relinquishment of efforts to build medicines to extend health life. Among these are people who welcome aging and death because to their eyes it gives a young person the chance to step into a role vacated by an older person. This is another form of the broken window, however: the advocate for aging looks only at the young person, and dismisses what the older person might have done were they not removed from the picture by death or disability. So too, any apologism for aging based on clearing out the established figures because it provides a greater opportunity for younger people to repeat the same steps, follow the same paths, relearn the same skills, redo the same tasks … these arguments are the broken window writ large.

I think this response is very compelling, but I wanted to highlight one other way in which this pro-aging argument is fallacious. Namely, in saying that aging and death are good because they create opportunities for the young, proponents are arguing that the economy is in some sense a fixed-sized and inflexible resource and that a job possessed by one person is one less job available for everyone else. This simply isn’t the case. Economies are highly metamorphic and flexible and grow to accommodate and use new technologies and resources that become available to them. Curing aging would be a huge economic boon, freeing up resources currently spent on medical care and job retraining, and allowing people to build careers and develop skills unimaginable in the current economy. Such a massive shift in resources and the drastic expansion of people’s time horizons will have huge economic effects, and the economies that result from such a change certainly won’t look anything like the ones we have today.

So to argue that the labor economy we have today can’t survive the end of aging misses the point. Our economy will evolve and grow in response to end aging, producing one that reflects economic patterns more conducive to a world in which people get more than forty productive years. There’s no reason to think that economies in an ageless world will look anything like the economies we have today.



“They charge by the coil, so I just had them do one coil per word.”

“It’ll still be legible, right?”

“Yeah, I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

EC2 Cannot Stat EBS Volume /dev/sdf

Could not stat /dev/sdf --- No such file or directory

The device apparently does not exist; did you specify it correctly?

If you’re getting this error when trying to do anything with an EBS volume attached to an EC2 instance, it might be because Debian/Ubuntu renamed the device. For me it was renamed from /dev/sdf/ to /dev/xvdf/. EBS actually warns you about this when you select an attach point, but I, of course, blissfully ignored that warning and then spent an hour wondering why the hell my EBS volume wasn’t working.

Dinu Lipatti playing Chopin’s “Valse Brilliante”

“You were more than just a dream”

Fitz and the Tantrums, one of my favorite indie/R&B fusion bands, has a new album due out soon. The new single, “Out of My League”, is everything I could have hoped. I love the anthemic chorus; the glitzy, layered composition; the gratuitous ‘oooh oooh oooh’ harmonies; everything. It’s a killer track that preserves most everything I liked about their first album while also showing that they can play with their genre enough to still be interesting.

I’m on record elsewhere saying that a band’s second album is by far the most important, and I still firmly believe that. If the new FatT record maintains the quality and inventiveness of this single, then it’ll be a strong sign that the band has some serious staying power.

“Got your name written here”

I’m not yet sure how I feel about the new Dropkick Murphys album, but the single, “Rose Tattoo”, is catchy as hell.

Interesting TLS Timing Attack

This is an interesting timing attack against pre-1.2 TLS. It exploits the fact that systems decrypting TLS packets take measurably longer to checksum 56+ bytes of data than it does to checksum <=55 bytes and that every 64 bytes after that takes an extra chunk of CPU. As a result, you can man-in-the-middle a TLS session and intentionally truncate and corrupt a packet after a boundary that corresponds with one of these transitions in the CPU step function, then time how long it takes the receiving system to respond with an error. It's not a fatal attack, to be sure. It takes over 8 million (2^23) TLS packets and perfect timings to reliably decrypt 16 bytes, but it's an interesting approach. Suggested mitigation: use TLS1.2 with an authenticated encryption scheme.

Fluid Dynamics. Fuck Yeah!

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Magic Blue Smoke

House Rules:

1.) Carry out your own dead.
2.) No opium smoking in the elevators.
3.) In Competitions, during gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
4.) A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place.
4a.) Penalty one stroke.
5.) Pilsner should be in Roman type, and begin with a capital.
6.) Keep Calm and Kill It with Fire.
7.) Spammers will be fed to the Crabipede.