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Ask HN: What is your strongest contrarian opinion?
60 points by shamoo 36 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 373 comments



Patriotism is a dumb idea most of the time. For example, seeing people shouting their country names in sports events etc for no reason is just plain weird - it is just sporting event, why not just enjoy the sport, have a beer, have fun and go home?

We are almost at 2022 - a virus originating in one country spread across the world within months. We are dependent on each other much more than any other generation. Unless the human race acts united, huge problems like climate change aren't going away. Instead of classifying problems based on borders, we should look at all problems as human problems, not Chinese, American, Russian or whatever.


I don't think this is very contrarian. Competition, even with no underlying reason (like patriotism) is what improves things. Some "united human race solving global problems" is just dressing up a centrally planned economy, which demonstrably has worse outcomes for almost everyone.

There are lots of totalitarians that believe their cause (e.g. climate change, covid) is so important that it should take precedence over market forces (i.e. what people want). Maybe you are advocating that, but its not a contrarian opinion, it's what every armchair slacktivist technocrat is pushing for, as long as it mainly applies to others.


What makes you believe that competition is what improves “things”?


You either have competition or you have a dictatorship since the only way to stop competition from happening is to make all competing views illegal. Enabling peaceful competition is therefore a must.


We used to have wars and bombings all the time. Now, we have a global economy and international cooperation in space.


I don't think this is very contrarian.

I dunno, the recent increase in rhetoric across the world seems otherwise. Trump, Modi, right wing in Europe etc

I didn't mean anything close to centrally planned economy. Countries can certainly work together without having a rule by committee type situation.


I agree in general that patriotism is dumb. But honestly sports events are probably the healthiest place to channel any patriotic feelings - bragging rights are literally all that's at stake for the audience (and gambling winnings, I guess).


> bragging rights are literally all that's at stake for the audience (and gambling winnings, I guess).

Almost… https://youtu.be/PFFFa9M4T80


I believe you have misunderstood the purpose of patriotism.

Belief in a country is self-identification with a shared narrative. Just like with a startup, some things are impossible to achieve unless everyone (perhaps irrationally) believes they are possible.

Is Country X special? Maybe not. But if everyone there believes it's special, the country may yet become some version of its ideal self. Patriotism is vision casting. It is the story we tell ourselves that we may become the people we want to be.


I think people take patriotism for granted or don’t really understand what it entails.

It’s much deeper than cheering on for a national team.

Lebanon has basically eroded because you have groups who were acting in the interest of their own rather than the country as a whole.


The web is a collection of terrible, short-sighted engineering mistakes that all compound each other unnecessarily. HTTP, HTML, CSS, and Javascript could probably all be scrapped and replaced with better standards. The only problem is that Google is probably the only organization capable of pulling that off, but Google's interests do not really overlap with the interests of most web users.


I think you substantially underestimate how difficult it would be to come up with something “better” that can do everything HTTP, HTML, CSS and JavaScript can do. You are talking about the most successful global information system in existence. Outcompeting all other proposals/competitors. Good luck with that one.


The problem is how many of the things the web does that I don't want it to, like spying on me and consuming ludicrous amounts of compute resources. And the fact that it's controlled by people whose desires and interests are contrary to that of the user.


I'm not sure the first part is contrarian, since everybody loves to complain about web standards. It also seem a widespread fallacy among developers that you can fix all problems in an technology stack by scrapping everything and starting from scratch.


I think that is because we refer to everything using mixed metaphors. We "surf" "pages" on the "web" over the "information superhighway."

If we had a uniform view of what it is, we might be able to make something of it.


It's not that contrarian. I think many modern web frameworks try to do this gradually. I wouldn't be surprised if Google attempted it and failed.


I agree.

As someone whose day job doesn’t involve writing UI code, web UI still ends up being the easier of the two to implement.


As I see it, Google is doing exactly that with Flutter. It's a completely new layout and styling system for different devices, platforms and screen sizes.


I will look into that!


Is this contrarian?

Immigration should be massively increased in the US. The surest way for the US and west to grow its international influence, economy, and live up to its values is through immigration. It’s not a zero sum game: immigrants create jobs for everyone. They increase many forms of diversity and expose us to may PoVs. Multiculturalism works, as exhibited by the higher social capital in major cities compared to the ethnically homogenous rural areas. The West would increase its economic competitiveness with other powers (ie China) that are less likely to increase immigration. This will strengthen the security and influence of western powers, giving them also a worldly outlook compared to those with much less immigration.

Faux immigration like H1B and other guest worker visas cruelly create a second class workforce. It would be more humane to allow more actual immigration.

It’s an obvious policy win, I wish more people would vocally support radically increased immigration.


>Faux immigration like H1B and other guest worker visas cruelly create a second class workforce.

More importantly, it increases the labor pool without giving immigrants the right to vote.

>Multiculturalism works, as exhibited by the higher social capital in major cities compared to the ethnically homogenous rural areas.

The major cities also have significant infrastructure, crime, and affordability issues. Some of them also have major homelessness problems. I'm not saying that's because of immigrants, but saying that immigrants live in cities and those cities are "better" is kind of non-sensical. If anything, COVID showed us that people want to get away from cities.

Is the higher social capital bit really true? My own family immigrated many years ago to the US. From my parents' home country, there are millions of other people in the US. Many of them don't care to assimilate. They have a romanticized view of this home country, and have outright anti-semitic and other intolerant beliefs.

>This will strengthen the security and influence of western powers, giving them also a worldly outlook compared to those with much less immigration.

If you're bringing in the best and brightest minds, sure. The US, for example, is fairly bogged down with a significant, inefficient government apparatus. Taxes seem to go up without quality of life enhancements. I could see an increased labor pool increasing revenue, but how about housing affordability and healthcare? We don't have "quality" jobs for the folks who are already in this country. How do we increase immigration while lifting everyone up?

I am not necessarily disagreeing with your ideas, but I think you're simplifying some very hard problems.


Software created using taxpayers’ money must be released as Free Software: https://publiccode.eu.


Shouldn't everything created using tax payer money should be released for free - software, research, data collection etc


Does that include all US military technologies/secrets paid for by the US government?


Oh? If you add large bug bounties we could do war virtually?


Is this contrarian? I'd imagine this is actually an incredibly popular opinion shared by basically everyone except government software contractors and some associated officials.


It is unpopular among university and research institutions that get federal grants. Also development companies that win contracts to create government websites/backends.

I agree with it, but it would disrupt a whole industry.


And it's technically how things are in the US. If US federal employees write some software, it's technically in the public domain. Classification levels may cause it to be hidden. It's when a contractor develops it that it starts getting murkier, the terms of their work determining ownership and, consequently, copyright.


If it was "incredibly popular", this petition would have much more than 30k signatures...


Only thing I would change in this proposal is to make it Apache, BSD or MIT licensed instead of free software (which implies GPL), or at least make sure libraries are packed up as LGPL instead of bundling everything under (A)GPL.

I know for sure this is a controversial point of view, but to me it is obvious (even if I can see the reasoning behind hard-line Free Software advocacy).

(What would probably do more good for both Open Source and Free Software in my opinion would be to get rid of CLAs as far as possible since they create a unhealthy relationship where the strong part is constantly tempted to relicense contributed code.)


> free software (which implies GPL)

No, it doesn't: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_software.


What about software for F18s or missile defense systems?


Free software doesn't require you to give a copy to anyone who asks. It just means that if you do give someone a copy, it needs to include the source code and certain legal rights. Presumably, the US isn't going to give copies of software for F18s or missile defense systems away like candy, so I don't see why this requirement would be a problem for those things.


My view: They should (and when written by government employees are) be public domain. But they ought to be classified to an appropriate level if they contain information that warrants classification.

Where possible, the programs should be written in a more data-driven manner, where the actual classified portions are contained in data files that are separated from the program source code. This permits you to release the source code without issue (it tells you very little about the actual systems), and then you only have to keep classified the data used by the program and assembled (data + executable) system.

If the program cannot be properly separated from something warranting classification, modular programming is the solution. Divide the program into an unclassified and classified portion. Keeping the former in the public domain and visible (at least with no more than a FOIA request, ideally with less effort) and the latter properly secured.


This doesn't work, because the complexity and reach of the systems are themselves sensitive information about capabilities.

Even the un-classified stuff is mind-blowing, including thinking about how to even begin running/building a system like that. Software code would reveal way too much of that, even after being sterilized.


It does work. It's called software engineering, you separate concerns between subsystems so you can assemble them separately and with alternative implementations of the other subsystems. Like if you have a classified (for whatever reason) subsystem you can provide an alternative implementation that at least lets you build the system, possibly doing what amounts to a no-op or some bare-minimum version (perhaps slower and stupider using public algorithms if the classified algorithms are classified for some key mathematical or physical insight).

Regarding running/building, sure, it's harder. But mostly because of expense, the specific examples were military and US DOD and its contractors buy compilers. So buy a license for Green Hills or similar and you can build it. Buy an ARM development board and you can run it. "ARM?!?!?" Yes, ARM. Embedded systems in the modern era (that is to say, after 2000 but starting sometime in the 1980s) use off-the-shelf chips, perhaps hardened versions for things like satellites. "Hardened" doesn't necessarily change the architecture, mostly just ties them to an old version of it. If the software is from pre-1990 there's a good chance it is running on a bespoke architecture, but after that point, and certainly after 2000, it became rarer.

Now, whether they will release the code is another matter. Doing this determination requires good upfront engineering or a lot of analysis before releasing it. But good engineering has been known to happen from time to time, even by the government. More practically, though, the software will mostly be developed by contractors who will retain the copyright and so it won't be public domain.


If software is released for a sub-system that enemies don't know exists, or for a senior system that makes calls to that sub-system, damaging information is being revealed right there.

Even just exposing data structures will reveal capabilities by virtue of the data created by them.

If an fighter pilot's battlefield/ situational awareness software makes calls to 4 known methods of battlefield communication, and also to an additional unknown one, then that reveals info, even without knowing anything else about it.

Maybe you're intending that all of these types of inquiries, or data sharing capabilities be redacted or sanitized somehow, but that seems like a huge undertaking in itself, especially if you expect a working product.

And then what would that resulting skeleton product's remaining value be, for the extra effort put into releasing it?

Besides potentially helping other countries close the capability gap.


1. If revealing their source code breaks security, then it's security by obscurity, which does not work.

2. Every similar law has exceptions concerning classified information.


Security by obscurity works fantastically when used intelligently.

S-by-O got a bad reputation due to people imagining it was the last word in security, when it really is just the beginning.

Passwords are literally purified security-by-obscurity.

I can't think of any security technology or method that doesn't have a security by obscurity component. Or that isn't enhanced with an additional layer of it.


Passwords are not security by obscurity: https://security.stackexchange.com/questions/147378/password....


The page you linked to doesn't contradict what I wrote.

It does suggest that a common usage of the term "security by obscurity" can mean security ONLY by obscurity. Which I made clear was not my usage.

The other mis-use of the term is the opposite overreaction is to forget that obscurity does remain an indispensable component of practical security. Its most common form being as a password (or biometric) used to unlock an otherwise impenetrable (for practical purposes) system.

Without an obscured backdoor (password, biometric, ...) the an otherwise completely secure system would not even be accessible to its owner.


> What is your strongest contrarian opinion?

That it is pointless to ask that question on HN or any social site because actual contrarian opinions will be downvoted and hidden.

The most popular "edgy" opinions will be voted as the most contrarian and be rise to the top.


> The most popular "edgy" opinions will be voted as the most contrarian and be rise to the top.

Reminds me of r/unpopularopinion


The majority appear to believe that actual contrarian opinions are "misinformation" and the average person isn't smart enough to be exposed to them without being corrupted, so only approved opinions, linked to reliable sources like government, should be allowed to be shared.


lets try:

Academia is the art of archiving things discovered outside of it.


And the art of stealing credit from immigrant workers that are locked-in an ecosystem for a period of years. I wonder when a #metoo will start in academia to complete the self-destructing cycle.


Take my up vote.


Package managers are a terrible paradigm for distributing software.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28407598 - Recent overview of the argument against

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17441773 - I come away appropriately looking like an idiot in this one because I made many wrong assumptions about Haiku's package system, however I still maintain it was a bad decision

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17268775 - Some more argumentation about how to do things better

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24776127 - Related

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19937228 - Vaguely related

I know I have several more, but there doesn't seem to be a good way to search one's own post history on HN. (This statement has since been made obsolete by CRConrad)


There are many ways to search one's history on ycombinator - here's one:

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=AnIdiotOnTheNet+site%3Anews.ycombi...


> there doesn't seem to be a good way to search one's own post history on HN.

Depends on how you define a "good" way, but surely https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que... -- and the possible permutations of search terms and filtering and ordering -- isn't all that bad?


You must admit that having it hosted on a different domain and apparently not linked to from anywhere (at least as far as I can see) makes it pretty undiscoverable.

That said, I had a hunch complaining about it would bring someone out who had a better solution than I did, and it worked, so thanks.


It's not directly linked, but it is where the search box at the bottom of every page will take you. Algolia was a YCombinator company and since, at the time, HN had no built-in search they piggybacked on them to add the capability.


Heheheheh... Not one, but three people.

But yeah, it is funny how it's kind invisible down there.


TIL there's a search box on HN.


Holy crap, I have never in my life noticed that search box.


Wow. There IS a search box, how have I missed that?


Thank you for the links! I've been trying to figure out what is wrong with package management and how to do things better. I'm reading your links now.

Also, thank you for labeling them.


The more a language or paradigm is touted as some amazing revelation by a small group of people, the less likely I am to like it. Rust, Julia, Haskell, pure functional programming, lisp-for-lisp's sake etc. I develop an instant negative reaction to what looks like a cult from the outside.


You don't even learn them enough to be able to articulate an argument against them? You just reject them outright?


I've played around with each of them. I'm not criticising them technically - they all have great aspects and can teach you a lot even if I think on the whole they're overrated. My reaction to the communities that they have makes me less likely to engage more with each of the languages.

I also know that some of these languages have very well regarded communities - that's why this is my response to OP's question.


I’ve used Haskell and Racket (lisp), and while they’re great for learning fun new ways of coding and very specific use-cases, they’re terrible general-purpose languages.

I’ve also used Julia, albeit less, but i don’t really see the “amazing-ness” of it. Although I come from a typed-languages background with a good IDE, so I can definitely see how it’s amazing to someone coming from Python or R.

Rust honestly is IMO a great language and a huge step from C++. But again, it’s not the end-all, I still usually pick Java / Kotlin or something else unless performance really matters.


Julia is great because it's fast and you can develop everything in a single language. Take PyTorch or TensorFlow for example. They are hard to understand because they are a mix of C++ and Python.

Whereas Flux.jl is a pure Julia library and performance is comparable. There are even efforts to build a pure BLAS replacement in Julia, and performance is comparable to FORTRAN. If you are into scientific computing, this is amazing because it lets you operate at a much higher level, close to mathematics.


Since corporations are legally people with rights of free speech, like individuals have...then they should be taxed like the average person is, on revenue.

If a corporation is responsible for the death of a person, the CEO, CFO, COO, and members of the board should serve prison time.

If the corporation is a repeat offender, then the corporation should suffer the death penalty. The assets liquidated a public auction. Also Corp Officers and board members go to jail and are forbidden from ever holding such position again.

I look forward to your down votes.


I would take step further, since corporations are legally people, they shouldn't limit responsibility of their owners. That is if corporation results in deaths all owners should also suffer real penalty such as prison time.


Taxing revenue harms the low profit commodity businesses, like small retailers why being excellent for tech giants especially the ad selling ones like Google/Facebook.

A better idea might be tax investors at income tax levels on capital gains, regardless of holding time (adjusted for inflation indexation)

And increase corporation tax for companies above a certain profit level maybe at $1bn up.


Computer science degrees are a waste of time and money unless you want to go into academia. If you ignore FAANGs you can get a very comfortable job as a developer after a bootcamp & internship.


Bootcamps have failed one after another. The most well known, Lambda, is even desperate enough they will "loan" you a new "grad" for free to try to get you to hire one [0]. And that's not even scratching the surface of what's wrong with bootcamps in general, like having instructors barely a few months ahead of students giving out lectures and grading assignments [1].

I can't say I've seen anyone straight out of a bootcamp that was a great hire. I guess these online coding schools might cater to motivated teenagers that are interesting in trying out CS before enrolling in a proper degree. The few good hires I've seen were all STEM grads that decided to take a bootcamp after graduation, or CS grads that were not confident in their ability to enter the marketplace. They could have probably achieved the same thing with a bit of self study or a few electives in college.

[0] https://lambdaschool.com/the-commons/announcing-lambda-fello...

[1] https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/02/lambda-schools-job-p...


My argument against this would be that a lot of the things you learn in a CS degree are really interesting and useful, but hard to force yourself to learn if you don't have to. The big one for me is the ability to do proofs in mathematics and theoretical CS, which translates rather well to hard programming problems. Without being tortured with it in college, I doubt I would have ever bridged that gap.

There is certainly a subset of people that do like to solve these problems, and don't like to go to university, but I would assume it is rather small.

The other thing, which is probably less true in countries where you have to pay for university, is that people who join the job market very early view everything in monetary values. My university buddies would do things just because it sounds interesting or hard or could make a positive difference in the world, while my friends who joined the labor market immediately after school are much more focused on their career development and salary.


I agree, that why I added the caveat “unless you want to go into academia”


I worked at the FAANGs and a non negligible number of people either dropped out of college or have no degree.


Are they new hires? Is everyone has 0 connection inside?


Do you mean that a "college degree is a waste of time and money unless you want to go into academia"?

If you had to decide between dropping $X for a computer science degree, and $X for e.g. some liberal arts degree, are you suggesting that the liberal arts degree is a better investment for a career as a developer?

I'm not sure if you're making a statement about how things should be or how they are. Because pretty sure 90%+ companies still value computer science degrees.


I think I would agree, but with the caveat that the hiring companies need to change how they view credentialization. Right now many companies will just toss your resume if you don't have a BS+.

I have a BS an MSIS. Most of the information isn't used in my job.


I think some recruiters filter out people who don't come from a CS background. I think maybe something like a diploma route that concentrates on the CS courses are a better choice. You still get the proof but avoid those garbage irrelevant courses you are forced to take.


See the “ignore FAANG” part :)


The thing is that I don't know which one filters out :/ (I'm pretty sure it's not just FAANG and I know in some country they completely ignore anyone that doesn't have a university degree). But anyway I do feel that my CS education right now (just a few courses into a graduate diploma) ONLY serves as some push for me to complete my study.

I'm interested into CS but not that interested to devour everything on my own, so taking some courses is helpful on that perspective.


How can I work in domains like HPC (not run of the mill work, but not really “academic” either) without having formal education expose me to the the scale and infrastructure needed?

FWIW I don’t have a degree nor do I believe the average CS program is worth the money (US context ofc)


I'm working on my own programming language since 2013 so I am thinking about programming quite a bit. So here is the summary of those years:

* All programming languages suck. We are not there yet as humanity. I can not think outside of the box enough to make the breakthrough that should be made, at least as of now. While looking at other programming languages, I see the same issue: inability to express thoughts in concise and straightforward manner. Unsolved issue.

* The only idea in programming that I consider definitely good is pattern matching. Note that I'm talking about the concept here. No particular implementation strikes me as "yep, this is it": be it limitation to strings only (regex) or syntax-only implementation (preventing composability of the patterns) or some other sh*t.

Have a nice weekend!


> All programming languages suck.

I'm not sure this if is a contrarian opinion, but this is one of my biggest career takeaways. Every programming language I have used for an extended period of time turned out to suck. Whenever I find a new programming language that doesn't suck, I end up using it enough to discover the specific way in which it sucks. So I've inferred that every programming language I haven't extensively used, and doesn't seem to suck, will just end up sucking in some way I will ultimately discover.


> specific way in which it sucks.

This

I don't have objective data but it seems that I'm reaching the "they did what?" pretty quickly when I read about yet another language. Don't need to start using it even.


The good(?) news is that this has helped me get over my instinct of, "I don't want to use this language because it sucks".

You want me to use Java? OK, as long as we're using Java in a situation where the specific way in which Java sucks is a smaller issue than the specific way in which any alternative language would suck.


Resonates. I typically say that my programming language should just suck less than others for intended use cases.


I think is as much a claim against PEOPLE and their ability to understand problems and inability to think logically as it is any language itself.

The other flaw: the presumption that solutions can only be linear sequential - languages are written into linear sequential files which contribute "keys under the street light". And no we haven't figure out any better way. But we don't acknowledge the problem either.


You seems to assume that it is possible to design a programming language that doesn’t suck for some people using it. I am pretty sure that is impossible. Just look at the many “X sucks!” mixed with “X is the best!” Posts on HN. A great example is X = Lisp.


I see what you mean. I am more focused on personal perspective (all languages suck). It's good to be more aware about the perspective. I'll also try to look from the suggested perspective too. Thanks!


I think Bjarne Stroustrup is right: “The only programming languages nobody complains about are the programming languages nobody use” :)


Not all thoughts are concise and straightforward. That's not a problem that can be solved.

Concision by itself is not something to optimize for, since it usually leads to misunderstanding at scale.


> Not all thoughts are concise and straightforward. That's not a problem that can be solved.

My observation is that inexperienced programmers have this kind of mess in their head. No programming language can help with that. Hard to tell because I'm not sure what exactly you mean.

> Concision by itself is not something to optimize for,

Concision is one of the aspects. Too much and the code is unreadable. Not enough and code is too long. In both cases mental effort grows and maintainability suffers.


Automatic software updates are a terrible idea. Not only do they make systems and devices less reliable but they are a vector for a malicious entity (Maybe even the vendor themselves, see Apple & CSAM)


Automatic security updates are important.


Unfortunately they're not propagated through different channels


In a reasonable OS, e.g., Debian, they are.


Not every OS is connected to the internet...

Not every OS connected to the internet can afford the risks of bad updates (which are far more common than proponents think/claim)


Debian package management doesn't have to rely on an internet connection. You could have the source of the security updates be a cd or USB stick or something with no problems


I agree, and people do tend to disagree, and not just because of security. Forced non-security updates for paid software should simply be mostly-illegal. For non-networked software, and most changes for networked software, it's a no-brainer. For breaking server API changes... you sell it, you have to support it let's say for 10 years.

I suspect having this requirement would also greatly improve API design...


I hate automatic software updates. Is there a large contingent out there who loves them?


Anyone who has to be the family IT person. Though it's a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, automatic updates (particularly security related ones) keep my family members' systems, well, up to date and secured. On the other hand, UI changes mean I have to go and update my own systems and figure out where that damned option or button moved to so I can help.

Since user interfaces (in particular) are not cleanly separated from the underlying system on personal devices, updates end up deploying both. I'd love for my family to get an updated browser or messaging client that only addresses issues around, say, the SSL implementation or HTTP or Unicode handling that specifically address security concerns. And then separate updates that alter the interface which become (somewhat) opt-in updates (though eventually they will be effectively mandatory). But that's not the reality of software development.


Security professionals.


Haha you got me there.


I only mind when they make the software worse or hurt whatever i’m trying to do, e.g. more slowdowns or making some feature harder to use (and not just moving it somewhere else, actually removing it or adding steps). Or if the update fails to download and leaves my software in an unusable state.

But if your app updates with minimal inconvenience, good for you. In fact it comes in handy when the update adds new features or improves performance.


Me, within reason.

A major version change (eg UI rewrite or API breakage is an exception).

I don’t get the constant breakage the rest of HN seems to get, so there is no reason to pay the cost of manual updates.


The best thing you can do for a beginner is to train them into being an expert, not make beginner-grade tools. Climbing a high learning curve is good because they end up being more capable of solving harder problems. We shouldn’t shy away from things like domain-specific languages in the name of approachability; if you want a competitive advantage you have to do something not everyone else can.


- Tor has done more harm than good for human rights

- Alcohol does not make people more aggressive to a large extent. In the vast majority of clubs/festivals almost everybody is inebriated but violence is fairly rare (in my experience). (I'm a non-drinker btw so I have no horse in this race).

- David Bowie's music is unremarkable.

- We should keep Linux unpopular because the more users it gets, the more malware/spyware/advertising/telemetry it will attract. It is fine where it is now in terms of its userbase.


> Tor has done more harm than good for human rights

Sad but true - it seems like every technology that is made to promote free speech, anonymity, or non-centralization ultimately leads to bad actors using it and more authoritarian laws being passed. I'm not sure what the solution is.


The solution is to do away with the source of authority; anarchy. Conveniently, this is also my answer to the question for this Ask.


>> David Bowie's music is unremarkable

The Spiders from Mars music on the Ziggy album is remarkable. The remarkable role that Bowie played was as a connector.

Some rock stars get lucky, get rich and famous, and then decide they are going to shoot up as much heroin as possible before they die. David Bowie got lucky and decided to use his fame to make the world a little bit closer to the way he wanted it to be.

I never would have heard of Mark Ronson without Bowie, never would have heard of Brian Eno, might not have heard of Iggy Pop. Probably would have heard of Lou Reed but who knows. Those people made remarkable music. Bowie helped get them in the spotlight.

But yeah, I haven't listened to "Let's Dance" in many years.


1. Taxes should be for a MVP minimum viable product for government.

2. Government should be 100% transparent in time of peace and offset by 1 year in time of war.

3. All government content creation should be public domain.


I agree with 2 and 3, but can you explain 1 more?


Sounds like a no bloat government. Problem is who defines that? Does it mean no police, no public healthcare? Minimal laws? Not sure.


This thread is supposed to be for strong contrarian opinions - stuff that you actually believe, that you think others don't. Most replies aren't really doing that. (Yes, this is my actual answer. I do expect that others will object to it.)


Is this comment itself a contrarian idea?


It would be useful if you listed which posts exactly are not contrarian and tell why you think so.


Not OP, but:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28566111

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28569366

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28568600

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28566108

All are actually pretty popular opinions, especially on HN. Personally I interpreted the original question to be asking for opinions contrary to prevailing HN sentiment.


Realpolitik is all there is. I often see comments about how people should behave rather than understanding how they actually do. Fundamental human nature is nigh immutable; people will always be greedy, will always want to compete, will always wage war, and so on. To think that another social system would change that is a flaw of understanding humans. I see this most often in people espousing communism over capitalism, for example, but people will be people even under communism, the social system won't change that.

Sinularly, many people are mad about countries doing "unethical" things, but countries do not have ethical norms, they merely have interests, and that's what they'll advance towards. To think that countries for example shouldn't spy on each other or assassinate their enemy leaders is also a misunderstanding of human nature, and more largely of geopolitics.


Agreed! I periodically burn some karma on this point and should probably stop. Most people are brainwashed to believe the system they live under is the bestestest and won't even consider any other alternative. Indeed this unfailing belief is necessary for the whole thing to work.

When you point out to them that political systems fight for their own survival, just like organisms and memes do they call that "whataboutism". But fundamentally we are all humans and we function about the same way the world over.

In times of stress we humans put a ruthless dictator in charge as a last-ditch Hail Mary. Once conditions improve we replace them with something more suitable. Trying to "enlighten" an impoverished place like Afghanistan is misguided and just keeps their society stuck. But most people think dictators are mysterious aliens that arrive out of nowhere and start oppressing the poor masses.

Before you click that downvote button, think for a second. Imagine that America was a place of poverty and desperation. Whom would Americans elect? Oh wait, we already know who middle America made president back in 2016. The way to get people to elect friendlier governments is to make their environment better, not moralize.


C is a good language, Rust is overengineered and rarely the right tool (in contrast to how often it's used), Go is a dumb language.

Fight me.


C is hard.

Very very hard. In fact, as a teenager I tired C++( I know it's not exactly the same, but lower level languages are difficult) and found it so hard I stopped trying to learn programing for years.

JavaScript, specifically Unity's implementation was my first programing language. Even today, it's my go-to language to get something done quick. Anything larger, like a video game for example, I'll use C#.

Even of C was amazing 30 years ago, we have better tools now. You can make 200k writing C#, Python or JavaScript. Why make life hard with a low level language !


> Why make life hard with a low level language

Because I'm designing an operating system. None of those languages can do that.

Also, I'm a maintainer of 2 of the top 10 packages on npm. Javascript is not a language I usually jump to when I care about performance or (extreme) portability.

Lastly, C++ != C. They're similar and somewhat compatible, but entirely different at the same time.


>Lastly, C++ != C. They're similar and somewhat compatible, but entirely different at the same time.

I acknowledge this, but they're both very difficult if you're starting with that. To reframe my argument I'd say no new programmer should use a low-level language as it's so difficult you might just give up.

The vast majority of jobs will not require you to build an operating system. I think it's a matter of what your goals are. If you want to build a website or a game, use a high level language, get it done fast and move on of your life. If you want to find a job, you're going to have much better luck using higher level languages and you'll still make just as much as an embedded C engineer ( if not more).

For your specific use case,yes you need something like C.


Since this is a discussion of contrarian views, here's mine:

Your statement regarding C and C++ for beginners isn't strong enough. No new programmer should program, period. That is, they should not be set in front of a computer to type out even a single line of code that is meant to be executed.

They should be taught to think algorithmically, to express their intent in clear and precise language without the aid of a computer to evaluate what they've written and verify it for them, instead relying on their own mind.

This doesn't need to last for long, perhaps just the first few weeks of instruction, but it should be present. The alternative is what I've seen throughout my career of people coding first and thinking later. They become dependent on the compiler, the type system, the test suite to do even the basic thinking for them. Those are useful tools (and essential once your programs start to take on any significant scale), but if they're what you reach for first, you're not thinking.

And new people to programming should spend more time thinking and less time typing. In a college or high school course, this means assignments that require actual coding should be every 1-2 weeks, at best, and the rest of the assignments should be written. Again, having them express their understanding of the program's algorithms and data structures in clear and precise language first, before they ever type anything up.


>This doesn't need to last for long, perhaps just the first few weeks of instruction, but it should be present.

This assumes you're learning in an academic environment. I taught myself programming just because I wanted to make some video games. I've done very very well career wise. I will admit I do lack some fundamentals, but I can still get things done.

I'm absolutely unashamed to rely upon modern conveniences. Yes I need the strong type system C# provides for any bigger project. I practically need autocomplete, particularly with C# to get anything done.

If it's small I can hack it out in JavaScript. I still remember the three lines of code you need to stand up with NodeJS.

One of my friends needed a small app done last year, I was able to build it for him and flutter in about a month. In fact modern programming languages are so much easier, I reckon this friend if he put the time into it could have built his own application in a few months. The old guard of Computer Science tendsl to have a very strange gatekeeping to them.

Overall, I'd like programming to be less of a foreign thing to the general public. If you learn a little bit of python to reformat some old phone contacts you have, you're very much a programmer. Like not every single person with a driver's license can drive a big rig, not every programmer will be able to build their own operating system from scratch.


I was also self-taught, I started at 8 with BASIC based on source listings in my elementary school math textbook. I read them, typed them, then when I wanted to make my own programs (because I couldn't use the computer whenever I wanted), I wrote programs down and reasoned about them on paper (admittedly not well, I was 8, but I got better). Through high school this was how I programmed. It wasn't until college that I had essentially unfettered access to computers (though only desktops and remote servers at the time, I didn't have a laptop until near the end of my college career).

And I did say this was a contrarian view. Georgia Tech's CS 1301 (when I took it, numbers varied) was taught this way through Spring 2001 or 2002, and then they switched to Scheme (SICP) and then Python (not sure what, if any, textbook).


So what about the folks out there who don't have access to formal education ?

I do definitely see your point, I've had times where I'll write so much code and then later I'll realize it would have made much more sense to carefully plan out what I actually wanted to accomplish.


Continuing with my contrarian idea, I'd encourage them to take the same tact that I did. The BASIC listings in my math textbook were really no better or worse than what you'd find in magazines of the time or a BASIC manual. Of course, these days listings aren't organized and published in the same manner so I'm not sure what resources I'd point someone towards, but I'd still encourage the same approach. Whether self-taught like us or formally educated (but most formal programming education doesn't seem to use this approach, it starts with trying to get you typing ASAP).


There's nothing wrong with immediately typing. It would be a good idea to teach more programmers to think twice and type once.

Then again for my personal projects I find it the most fun to dive in head first, and fix whatever issues I run into later.

Occasionally I'll take a hybrid approach, where I'll immediately jump in and try to hack together a really bad prototype. Figure out what worked and what didn't, and then rewrite the code from scratch later. I sincerely enjoy programming so this has been very fun for me. And there's nothing like turning a hobby into a career!


Completely disagree. The best way to learn programming is hands on. I taught myself assembler programming, Pascal, C, C++ etc. as a teenager by simply reading a book and trying out things on a computer. If I can do it anybody can.


I don’t understand why people think that C++ is hard. I mean you can make life hard for yourself, and printf is basically a pit in hell, but other than that, it is really easy and approachable. I find JavaScript incredibly confusing, unless you stick to the “good” parts, but then you lose all the library’s.

Idk, I like being closer to the metal I guess? It is comforting somehow. Not comforting like machine code ( which I love but hate to use ) but still, not having a clue what I am actually asking to have happen is very anxiety producing.


I agree. I taught myself C as a teenager and easily moved up to C++. Yes C++ is a kitchen sink language. But that is a GOOD thing. You can pick and choose the parts you need to get the job done. No limits.


It's probably the syntax, which is designed to be similar to mathematics. Self-taught programmers will probably struggle to adapt to BNF if they don't have a strong mathematical foundation.


> I'd say no new programmer should use a low-level language as it's so difficult you might just give up.

Some schools still teach C and C++ as intro languages. I would not recommend it for a self-learner but in an academic setting it works.


My CS curriculum at school was basically data structures and algorithms in C++. I really appreaciate that that's how I got started and I think it made things easier later on.


C is easy. I learned it as a teenager just reading the K&R book and playing around with a compiler. I had no aces to the internet, no stack overflow etc. Lots of fun.


"Go is a dumb language." "Fight me"

I like Dumb languages. Next.


At least writing REST API in Go is much easier compared to Rust.

Since you are writing OS (which Go is not designed for), what's your thought on Pascal or Ada?


the obsession of programmers with languages is remarkable. Imagine if mathematicians spent most of their daily lives arguing if the leibnitz or the newton notation is better, and proposing new, slightly differently curved symbols every month. I think it just shows that the field doesn't have productive results to show so it's preoccupied with meta discussions.


I think Go is a great language, with some dumb decisions.


I thought this was the mainstream opinion of Go, outside of its own community?


I actually agree, though I would personally add stuff to C to make it a better foundation. I also want a boringcc C compiler, like djb asked for.


What's boringcc?


It's basically a compiler that doesn't punish the developer for having undefined behavior in software. DJB described it at [1]. HN comments are at [2].

[1]: https://groups.google.com/g/boring-crypto/c/48qa1kWignU/m/o8...

[2]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10772841


Thanks!


I'll fight on the first one, don't care or know enough about Rust for the second and will agree on the third.


It's expected that on HN you give your arguments first.


Not if I scream louder. I automatically win in that case.


Most of societal problems can be fixed by focusing early education solely on philosophy, logic, art.

We are pushed thru the ed system as future labor, but lack the tools to coexist in a very large and complex society.


Compulsory education that assumes each kid is a uniform widget to be produced is a terrible way to develop people. People think so little of children and their capacity to learn, engage, and understand that they compel them to spend some of the most dynamic years of their life learning about things they don’t care about that they promptly forget in adulthood. Kids are natural learning machines and we murder that natural curiosity and capacity for mastery through school.

I think there are better ways. We cannot, for example, teach kids about democracy in environments that give kids often less agency than prisoners in prisons. Democratic schools like Summerhill, Sudbury or unschooling are good starts. Kids at those schools have control over their schedule: if they want to keep a more structured schedule, they can, if they want a more relaxed schedule, sure. Each kid also has a vote in how the school is run, including in a judicial system for administering discipline.

At the very minimum, ending age segregation policies at schools would be a good start for more dynamic learning.


> We cannot, for example, teach kids about democracy in environments that give kids often less agency than prisoners in prisons.

> Each kid also has a vote in how the school is run, including in a judicial system for administering discipline.

That's admirable.


Compulsory education is not about developing kids as people. It's glorified daycare.


I generally agree with this, and I also think it implicitly serves a few other purposes in addition to being daycare. High school gets people used to the idea that they will spend their lives following a schedule and producing things. It also promotes the idea that we live in a community and teaches us about interacting with one another; (probably not in the most effective way). There’s also an element of teaching us about or maybe indoctrinating us into a particular system of work/reward which our society is supposed to operate under.


>judicial system for administering discipline while I don't agree entirely with you, this is something I would love to see implemented. The disciplinary measures usually taken in schools are never consistent and always done in a case to case basis so, I never thought they could ever be fair


The moment you turn 18 your parents owe you nothing. For better or worse I was kicked out multiple times as a teenager, and evicted, all before turning 18.

I'm well aware that I'm simply not owed anything. However the worst human beings I've ever met are the 20 to 30 year olds who are still being taken care of by their parents, but don't appreciate it. They relentlessly complain about how poorly their being treated. A free place to live at 25 is great treatment as far as I'm concerned.

I learned the hard way these folks just think everyone in the world owes them. They treat having a job as optional. They create endless amounts of unneeded chaos.

As a related point, you need to set extremely high standards for anyone you enter into a relationship. You can't think oh it's okay, I really like this person, it's fine that they don't want to work. Nothing good comes from associating with people like this.

With that said I've been exceptionally lucky in the last few years. Almost everyone I've dated recently has been independent and career driven. The girl I'm currently dating is easily everything I've ever wanted in a partner, she has a master's, knows 3 languages, and has a great job.


As a parent, I think my duty is to teach my kids all important life skills as much as possible so that by the time they are an adult, they don't need us for much (except support if needed). I see a lot of young kids these days who are clueless and not sure what to do. Some of it I would tie back to parents not exposing them to enough things. But who knows.


While free will is often debatable, I think at a point it's up to an adult to decide what that adult wants to do.

If you at 24 decide you don't want to finish college and you don't want to work, that's your right. I definitely would blame parents who enable this behavior and don't just kick the kids out.

As far as I'm concerned, if I meet someone in their late 20s or early 30s who still doesn't want to work, I don't really care what their problem is. I don't need to hear a backstory about how their bosses mean to them when they were 19 and they swore off working forever.

I simply know people like that can cause very real damage to my life and I see to avoid them. I have found insurgent cities there's a far higher concentration of these folks, which led to me moving a few years ago. Again, I don't care why Billy or Mindy doesn't want to work. I just know I'm not letting them in my life.


IT-related opinion: if you gratuitously perform blocking operations (disk IO, network calls, taking locks blocked on the same) on the UI thread, in a commercial product that has a close button (i.e. not an ATM UI or a nuclear reactor control), you should be forever barred from doing software development for money.

If I could redesign popular OSes in god mode, blocking the UI thread for more than a few 100s of ms would crash the app with no workarounds.

I have to admit GC is a grey area...


Freedom of speech is problematic. The spread of covid misinformation today is as bad as shouting "fire" in a crowded theater and the people doing it on social media or in public should be held criminally culpable.


Had the public health authorities not burned through their credibility in the past, there wouldn't be a massive issue with non-authoritative views.

It didn't help that they changed stories multiple times for dubious reasons.


This is a mainstream view


Shouting fire in a theater is protected speech.


I agree, except the issue with banning speech is that there’s no fine line. When does “covid misinformation” go from conspiracy theories (5G microchips) to skepticism (“does [X measure] really slow the spread”) to hard truths (the vaccine does cause adverse side effects in a small subset of the population).

I have no problem censoring blatant misinformation, but i’d rather be more tolerant than censor something that might be true or modest.


strongest: - Anyone (Male or Female) that hurts kids should be executed no matter what country they are in. Hunt them down like animals if needed.

Others that would cause some heated debates.

- All transportation should have a weight multiplier to the base price since every kg adds to the fuel usage. Nobody should have to pay out of their own pockets for you.

- Social welfare should not be free. There are low skilled jobs that can be done by most. Missing both arms and other serious things are valid reasons not to do anything. Arachnophobia is not- I can vouch for this one personally. Panic attacks and all.

- Immigrants (like me in UK) should not have a right to vote until they get citizenship. This is the proof that you actually understand the country you live in.

- Election campain "propaganda" should be legally binding

- Voting should be done with "personal" digital security certificate. Anyone involved in electrion fraud should have all assets confiscated and put in prison

- Prisons should not be "free meals". You either work or study for a qualification in a field where there is a skill shortage.

- Internet should be declared public utility and nobody should have the right to kick anyone off it. In most civilized countries you're as good as dead without it.

- All platforms that reach the level of google search in peoples life should be declared public utility and punished for biases and manipulation of any kind.

- All big + small taxes should be merged into one (for example 50%)


Some of the common answers that make me differ:

> Social welfare should not be free. There are low skilled jobs that can be done by most. ...

Most people are not able to do anything productive for the society, expect for in a limited number of positions. It would be more expensive to provide a job for everybody (training, commute, supervision). Many jobs are cheaper to automate than have a human to do it without paying salary. Many others are simply not worth doing at all.

> Election campain "propaganda" should be legally binding

"When the Facts Change, I Change My Mind. What Do You Do, Sir?"

> All platforms that reach the level of google search in peoples life should be declared public utility and punished for biases and manipulation of any kind.

Why would anybody build a platform like that, then? Punishing for any biases sounds like a hard task as well, as the main use of a platform like google search is the "bias" to include more useful results. Moreover, this kind of thing would become a political too rather quickly. I agree on the idea level, but I don't see any way to do this well.


> Many jobs are cheaper to automate

This is 100% true but the point was that you're spending the money anyway. There are always roles that are too expensive to automate and where a human mind is worth 10 machines(ex:for converting archives to digital, translating older texts).

> "When the Facts Change..." that is what courts are for. Good are bad they are the only system we have for sorting out problems like this


- What kind of hurting and to what degree? Does slapping kid in the face just once counts? What about psychological torture? What happens if we get this wrong, can we "unexecute" someone?

- that would a pain to charge and enforce.

- if someone has the means to pay for their own welfare, why would they be eligible in the first place? Isn't providing for those without means like the whole point of social welfare?

- many citizens have no understanding whatsoever of how their country work.

- you can only bind reality through law to some very limited extent. Suppose Winston Churchill had promised "four years of peace"...

- that seems harsh...

- internet is most certainly a public utility.You can, however, live without it.

- I think that's a good idea.

- That too.


> Isn't providing for those without means like the whole point of social welfare

That is indeed the point of it and should be applied to disabled/sick, etc like it already does. That doesn't prevent them from doing various jobs that the government needs to give a paycheck for and are either low skilled or can be part time. For example answering calls in a reception, or even doing first line support over the phone.


> - All transportation should have a weight multiplier to the base price since every kg adds to the fuel usage. Nobody should have to pay out of their own pockets for you.

To avoid accidentally encouraging healthy-weight people to become underweight, I'd suggest one change to this: make it only apply to the amount that people are overweight by. For example, a 5'6" person who weighs 155lb or less wouldn't pay any surcharge, one who weighs 160lb would pay a surcharge on 5lb, one who weighs 200lb would pay a surcharge on 45lb, etc.


Having a range with no surcharge is a great way to do it and keep it healthy and fair indeed. Nice one man.


And I thought that my not liking Rust was contrarian...


> All transportation should have a weight multiplier to the base price since every kg adds to the fuel usage. Nobody should have to pay out of their own pockets for you.

I don't think it would amount to much. A lot of the cost is per seat, no matter the weight.

> Immigrants (like me in UK) should not have a right to vote until they get citizenship. This is the proof that you actually understand the country you live in.

Isn't that already the case?

I'm on the fence for allowing non-citizens to vote in municipal elections. After all, it's mostly local policy that's debated and, by living there, they are directly impacted by it.


> Immigrants (like me in UK) should not have a right to vote until they get citizenship. This is the proof that you actually understand the country you live in.

This is how it is in the US. As a non-citizen immigrant I can understand this point of view. On the other hand, it's taxation without representation which is what Americans originally fought for.


> - All transportation should have a weight multiplier to the base price since every kg adds to the fuel usage. Nobody should have to pay out of their own pockets for you.

So all poor people will have to be as skinny as possible with consequences for their health.


No, so people hauling heavy loads have to pay, and not everyone else.


20% of most populations have an IQ below 83. It is pretty much impossible for anybody with an IQ of 83 or lower to do a job. So it is OK for those people to starve to death?


Why wouldn't they be able to pick up a call and open a support ticket? or scan old books (press the button style). I do understand you point though. There wouldn't be enough for all of them. You can keep helping them and only use them when needed.

At the end of the day it's about having workforce available when needed that you're already paying for and not having to pay someone else. Whether you have to use it or not is a different matter.


I don't believe for a minute that it's pretty much impossible for 1 in 5 people to have a job.


Ask the US military. They won’t recruit anybody with an IQ below 83. Even though the US military try to recruit as many as possible. And then check the IQ statistics. They found out the hard way that soldiers with an IQ lower than 83 are more dangerous to the US military than the enemy.


Climate models should not be relied upon as much as everyone thinks they should.


Say more?


Everyone should be using Qubes OS [0] to get a reasonable security on desktop.

[0] https://qubes-os.org


Software developers are not as smart as they think. The most disastrous technical decisions I have seen have all come from developers, not from clueless non-technical managers. Things like "lets rewrite everything in foo-language, this will solve all our problems."


I don’t think that point of view is contrarian? At least among the more experienced developers. My guesstimate that 80% of problems in software development are created by the software developers themselves.


I personally really had to fight off clueless technical decisions from non-technical leaders, so it depends on where you are coming from.


If clueless developers gets to make such decisions then the problem is that clueless management is too clueless to say no.


Pair Programming as a first-class citizen is stupid.


What does this mean? As in, "Pair Programming as a mandatory thing is stupid"? That's sensible, otherwise this is hard to parse. It's a tool/technique, like rubber duck debugging with a person present to bounce ideas off of in real-time. It works for some people, it doesn't for others. Use it if it works for you, don't if it doesn't.


That's reasonable. But there are companies out there that pair 100% of the time - no code is ever written by a single person. Sounds like hell.


What would make it hell for you?


I think GP is referring to the 100% pair programming being hell. Pair programming all the time would be hell if you didn't get to choose your partner and/or you needed time away from them for any reason. Do you really want to spend every moment programming sitting next to some other person with one of you driving and the other speaking? Every moment? Maybe if you find the right partner (I had a couple colleagues who, for all practical purposes, were always paired with each other). But good luck finding that in every office you could ever work in.


> mandatory

Pretty much that, or as the first place to go every time, for every card, by everyone. I agree with you: it's a useful tool, but it should be natural and any policy around it should be mutable.


Pair Programming is always suggested by the worst programmers.


I sometimes suggest pair programming to help my colleagues when they are blocked. Does that make me a bad programmer?


- space is overrated - the last time that people lost interest was 40 years ago, the new generations missed that, and now they are about to lose interest again. humans are made by earth , for earth. real progress requires post-humans, genetically modified

- we don't want flying cars, it was a brainfart of sci-fi of the 60s, a linear combination of what was cool at the time, planes and cars. we dont want faster planes either - people happily spend the majority of their trip in airport waiting lines and getting to/from the airport

- we instead want our 140 characters because we are informational creatures. We are basically an entity living inside a brain with extra legs. it doesn't matter if we can't travel across the world if we can 'travel' instead. The real world doesn't matter much when our basic needs are covered, instead we get our rewards swimming in the sea of information and ideas. Therefore there are 2 worthy goals for humanity now: longevity or brain computer interfaces. either fullfills the ultimate desire of a conscious mind: to 'live' forever.


(anonymous for obvious reasons)

Psychological therapy is the snake oil of the 21st century. See an actual doctor instead.

I say this having recovered from a suicide attempt.


I think therapy is basically paying somebody to listen. Which is a great service if you don’t have anybody really listening to you in your life.


There are many things medication cannot do. Psychotherapy is often not about coming up with novel surprising changes, but rather providing alternatives behaviors to help you do what you most likely already know you should be doing. I'm sad it didn't work out for you, and I don't think everyone should be in therapy. But psychotherapy is overwelmingly proven to work.


I agree with this, but the truth is that you basically are buying a friend who will keep your secrets secret.


I kind of agree, although honestly I don't think doctor's are much better. Both suffer from the problem of 90% of them being just good enough at their job to handle the easy stuff and utter crap at anything else.


It's a misallocation of resources for the state to try to save adults who don't want saving. If a drug addict doesn't specifically request help to beat their addiction, it would be simpler and cheaper for the legal system to give them as much of the drug as they want. They'll either become functional addicts or just finish their slow-motion suicides. Either is less wasteful than forcing them into rehab or incarceration.


I kind of agree with this, but I've thought about it and it typically leads to an ugly sort of huxleyan society where most people wind up on drugs that are being provided by the government


RISC-V’s success won’t benefit the end user, only spare designers a licensing fee they can well afford. After recompiling everyone’s software and dividing a huge unified ecosystem the end result will be some political victory with no material value.


Isn't there some chance someone will manufacture laptops that people can have 100% confidence don't contain hardware-level backdoors?


You lose a day off your life everytime you declare a String variable.


why? I'm newish to programming so this is over my head.


I think mbfg may be referring to this https://devcards.io/stringly-typed


indeed. The simpler a string is to use, the more abused it will be. Programmers, forever, have used strings to represent other types, including really complicated types, with machinations of various appending formats; eg: PROJECT-33/3293, where code is built to pull apart the string to get values. This is awful. Strings are not type safe in the loose sense of the word. (Nothing is intrinsically mandating the format, so invariably you will find other code doing PROJECT-33-3293, or PROJECT/32/3293 or whatever.) This is especially seen as map keys, rather than just using a first class, class. An obviously especially bad form of this is, String key = storeId + partId;

as you can't differentiate between 12 + 3 and 1 + 23, but the compiler won't tell you this.

Finally, although not particularly important, all this string formatting parsing is far less efficient than just simple bean classes.

It is all done for the laziness of the writer.


Nearly all misery in the modern world is caused by the invention of agriculture.


Probably true. But agriculture is what made possible the explosion of population growth. One result of which is you and me. So if agriculture brought about misery, our existence is part of it. In other words: Without agriculture, we wouldn’t be less miserable. We just would not be, period.


I agree!

And for the record: I don’t believe it’s possible, or desirable, to go back to the hunter-gatherer era.

As Trevor Horn would have it:

“We can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far”


If humans never invented agriculture we might still be living as hunter-gatherers. So our problems would mainly be getting food, shelter, preventing injury, and infection - problems most people don’t face today. Jobs, boredom, pollution, rare diseases - hunter-gatherers don’t deal with these.

So you’re right, nearly all misery is caused by agriculture.

Except, not everything. We still deal with inferiority, finding mates, unwanted sexual advances. Pride is an issue today and it has been an issue before we were even humans.


That is pretty contrarian, I thought the cause was man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.


Contrarian you say.... Brexit is about introducing friction so that Tory party donors etc can have the opportunity to create companies that aim to 'make things and more frictionless' and then profit.


Pretty much every large government initiative introduces friction that makes someone really rich:

- Patriot Act after 9/11 (defense industry, metal scanners, TSA)

- Covid response (big pharma, hospitals, protective equipment, etc.


One part of politics about creating chips from thin air (If you do this I won't harm you). Another one is profiting from fear (essentially the same thing but from a different perspective).


this isn't contrarian, but all these people on here think they have contrarian opinions but they're pretty widespread opinions.


The irony of a topic like this is that the algorithm will put the least contrarian opinions on top.

Right now the most conventional/pedestrian opinion you could possibly imagine is listed first.


Because you are never "the only one". Truly contrarian opinions would sound like madness to us.


Most high school students shouldn't go to college. It's not very contrarian here, but outside of tech circles in the US it's very unpopular. Hated even.


Sticking to tech, I differ from the HN consensus on:

* Small UI changes (eg moving a button) don’t make me have to relearn the UI from scratch.

* If an app developer has a way were I can get my work done faster, I want to know about it. Getting shit done is more sacred to me than the workflow I built myself.

* Related: devs do achieve the above.

* Most documentation doesn’t explain anything that can’t be learned from a code completion engine. When I do have questions, Stack Overflow is more likely to have a concise explanation that the official docs.

* Native apps are something only us devs give a shit about.

* Functional programming isn’t catching on for two reasons: the on boarding experience is missing things (mostly the big picture aspects of structuring an app) and b) Haskell is the post child of functional Languages.


That we're just meat machines with no free will? Not exactly contrarian perhaps (just per laws of physics), but probably a one-percenter opinion.


Free will never made any sense to me as soon I started to think about such things. Events are either deterministic or random. None of that involves freedom of choice.


Laws of physics are mathematical constructs. You can’t prove or disprove the existence of free will with a mathematical formalization.


Well, no, and you can't prove that tomorrow you won't see a pig just start floating in the air.

The thing with the laws of physics is they they appear to predict 100% of what happens in nature. No one has ever seen something in nature, or in the lab, that either couldn't have been predicted by the physics of the day, or later after new laws theories were created.

So.. either your muscle fibers are controlled by your neurons, acting according to their understood biochemical operations, i.e. the laws of physics/chemistry, or they are not...

Free will says that your actions are not proscribed by the wiring of your brain and laws of physics - that you have a choice in what you do. Until someone observes a neuron not acting according to the laws of chemistry, that seems like an awfully long-shot belief, even if nothing can be ruled out. Perhaps someone in the future will discover the human spirit is controlling quantum behavior ?!


You are saying, “no, the laws of physics are not mathematical constructs”..? If you’re interpreting “laws of physics” in your original post to mean “what’s really happening”, then your original post is effectively “Free will isn’t really happening because I believe it’s not really happening (laws of physics)”. It also sounds like you’re implicitly making assumptions that what’s really happening is obviously deterministic. This is not clear.

“ No one has ever seen something in nature, or in the lab, that either couldn't have been predicted by the physics of the day, or later after new laws theories were created.” The list of contradictions to this statement is massive, unless you’re just asserting your faith that all questions will be answered.


I'm just saying that if the actions our brain and body (and the rest of nature) are 100% predictable per the laws of physics, chemistry, etc, then there's no room for them to be controlled by something else. It's not some dualistic "you" controlling the neurons in your brain ... it's chemistry.

Given the current state of synaptic strengths in your brain, its actions in response to any input are proscribed. You may be able to report on the evolving neural activity up until the point that some specific action threshold is reached (and your muscles start twitching), but the outcome in reality was never in doubt despite alternatives having been "considered" beforehand.

Don't get hung up on the laws of physics being mathematical constructs... To make specific predictions you need an appropriately accurate language, and math does the job. Do I think that nature has a copy of Schrodringer's wave equation stashed away somewhere ? ... No, but the behavior of the system can still be accurately predicted by it. Maybe in the future the laws we've deduced will be described in a different fashion, but the underlying behavior and predictability will not have changed.


“Mathematical construct” is synonymous with “appropriately accurate language”.

“I'm just saying that if the actions our brain and body (and the rest of nature) are 100% predictable per the laws of physics, chemistry, etc, then there's no room for them to be controlled by something else.”” True, but why do you think “what’s really happening” is reducible to any kind of precise theory?

“ Given the current state of synaptic strengths in your brain, its actions in response to any input are proscribed. You may be able to report on the evolving neural activity up until the point that some specific action threshold is reached (and your muscles start twitching), but the outcome in reality was never in doubt despite alternatives having been "considered" beforehand.” Can you share the studies that show this? I’m not sure I understand what you’re trying to convey here. Is it that some study shows certain actions can be predicted by brain activity before they are made?


> Is it that some study shows certain actions can be predicted by brain activity before they are made?

Sure, and also experiments where people report making conscious decisions for actions who's speed precludes a path through the cortex.

What I meant by "... evolving neural activity .." was to explain how we feel as if we have a choice, and are making decisions, because before any action "decision" is made (motor control initiated) there will likely be a period beforehand where whatever triggered the action is being processed and the outcome is not yet clear. Eventually there'll be some sort of winner-takes-all collapse of the alternatives and one will dominate. In the prelude to final response, we have access to our "inner thoughts" and can see the indecision and process, and we attribute that to some theorized actor "my self".

Anyways, I'm not here to convince you about this. As sure as I am about this, I do realize it's a "contrarian" view, and that the feeling of self-determination sure seems convincing, even if rationally a scientist may realize it is not true.


I’ve not shared my opinion on the existence of free will by the way. I tend to think it does not but I also believe that it is an unknowable question. I also don’t think brain activity studies like those prove that no kind of free will is possible.


It's the understood predictable nature of the stuff we're built out of - chemicals - that precludes free will. If animals were continually overriding the laws of chemistry in their brains, then it'd have been seen in some rat's brain in the lab by now!!

What those brain/psychological studies do prove is that our subjective experience is misleading. Our experience and internal narrative of what we're doing, and why, are really just after-the-fact rationalizations of what our brain+body are doing.


> The list of contradictions to this statement is massive

Don't confuse complexity and practical inability to predict with fundamental lack of predictability.

At it's base nature appears to act according to the laws of quantum physics + general relativity. On top of the quantum level, we stack a hierarchy of more abstract laws of how things behave at larger scale, so we have the standard particle model, chemistry, classical physics, etc, stacked upon that.

Due to current limits of computing, as well as the (mathematically) chaotic behavior of larger scale systems, we may not - as a matter of practicality - be able to predict their behavior, at least not based on a quantum level description, but that doesn't mean the laws of predictability ave abandoned us and the larger scale system has a mind of its own!


“ Don't confuse complexity and practical inability to predict with fundamental lack of predictability.”

Nothing is being confused. The list of contradictions to the statement is not limited in only this way, and I haven’t suggested it is. It seems like you’re saying, “what really happens” is reducible to the physical theories we have today, and if not then it will be reducible to the physical theories we’ll eventually have, or would have if we were smart enough. It seems like a matter of faith to think everything is reducible to precise theory. My personal belief is that “what really happens” is not entirely reducible to any kind of humanly expressible logic.

To throw out some brand name contradictions to the original statement: What is dark matter? Is there a theory of quantum gravity? What is consciousness? How does the universe exist? Is there any kind of fundamental randomness? What about the fact that every theory studied involves idealizations like the real numbers? Are any two atomic particles of the same mathematical type actually the same?

How about the known existence of unprovable mathematical statements (Godel’s first theorem)? (Also insert here every great unsolved math problem.)


> what is dark matter

Dunno. Does it even exist? Is there any inkling of this proposed stuff NOT acting according to some deducible laws. Seems pretty boring stuff - interacts with regular matter just via gravity. Do we have it in our head ? :-)

> is there a theory of quantum gravity

Is that a practical issue for predicting behavior of physical systems at any given scale? I'm pretty sure we don't need quantum gravity to adequately understand the chemistry of our brains.

> what is consciousness

Self-introspection via feedback paths in the brain. Damage those feedback paths and you'll get a condition such as "blind sight" where you can provably see, but not be aware of your ability to see.

> how does the universe exist

Dunno, but we're in it, and governed by how things behave in it. That question seems a bit off-topic regarding free will within our universe!

> is there any kind of fundamental randomness

Dunno. I'd bet not. Does it matter at the level of classical physics and above?

> are two particles of same type actually the same

Not sure what you're referring to. The Pauli exclusion principle?

> how about Godel's incompleteness theorems, etc

What's the relevance to the discussion? I can't prove what the stock market is going to do tomorrow either.


How do you define free will?


I define free will as the belief that you have some choice in your actions, rather than them being proscribed by the wiring of your brain. Normally belief in free will is based on some dualistic non-physical notion of self.


What's the difference between "I chose X because I wanted it" and "I chose X because my brain was wired to want it"?


The real point is that there is no choice at all. Free will is an illusion.

The first sentence is fine - it's how we all speak - as long as you understand the conventions you are using - what the words "I", "chose" and "wanted" really mean.

The second sentence seems intended to be the more technically accurate one, but IMO it's really worse since it's a mish-mash of levels of abstraction. It would be better expressed as "I did that because my brain was wired to do that" (or better yet "because my brain was wired to predict that", but that's a whole other story). Your brain doesn't have "wants" (that's a pyschological concept), and it seems odd to characterize your actions as a "choice" while in the same sentence(!) accepting that your actions are controlled by your brains wiring, and therefore there was no choice!


God exists - not just as a word or an idea; He is Someone who is actually there.

Go is a good language for many uses (contra junon). C++ is also a good language for at least some uses, but requires more care to use well.

Cheap food is killing us.

AGI is a mirage, and the singularity is a fantasy.


> God exists

> AGI is a mirage

This is a contradiction. If God exists and He created us, then we are AGI.


I see your point. But that isn't what is conventionally meant by "AGI".

By the way, if the "universe is a simulation" people are correct, then we are also AGI (in your sense).


> that isn't what is conventionally meant by "AGI"

It's the same thing. AGI is possible to create in this Universe, if we were created.


I couldn't disagree with OP more about God being a person or AGI being a mirage, but just because a being not subject to the laws of the universe was able to create an intelligent entity within that universe does not necessarily mean that any inhabitants of that universe or natural forces within it are able to replicate that feat.

But I'm also guessing OP's meaning probably invokes a non-material source of intelligence, i.e. a soul, and that by "intelligence" they mean something more like "consciousness", something that experiences the world as opposed to an action-reaction construct like an algorithm or machine.


> a being not subject to the laws of the universe

This is only one possible understanding of what God may be. The OP did not say this was their understanding. But you make a good point anyway.


> This is only one possible understanding of what God may be.

Yes, this is true, I'm making some assumptions based on their declaration of belief in a personal God.


I like to see the world through a similar lens, one that turned me from an atheist into a theist:

I believe this universe is a quantized simulation. The evidence for various forms of Planck quanta make this abundantly clear.

Simulation implies a simulator.

Therefore, God exists, in some form or another.


Which God are you talking about? Zeus? The Sun God? Plenty to pick from.


Note to readers: scroll down, the actual contrarian opinions are at the bottom.


- Contemporary feminism hurts most women and encourages relationship-sabotaging behavior.

- The narrative that the US and other Western nations' participation in white supremacy and slavery/colonialism is the main societal influence today is overblown and is likely leading to unnecessary political violence and turmoil.

- I don't think abortions should be banned, but generally speaking, it is incredibly easy to not get pregnant. Don't have sex. Unless you were raped, no one is 'forcing' anything on you, those were your decisions. It is baffling to me that no one says this out loud.

- There are only two genders.

- Kyle Rittenhouse acted in legitimate self-defense. The popular understanding of the case is beset with misinformation about what happened.


oof! these are bad and pretty mainstream. not contrarian at all. so i guess my contrarian opinion is that most ideas like this that are assumed contrarian by the idea-holder are actually widespread and mainstream. contrarians think they're contrarian yet they're generally generic.


I'm extremely confident I would lose my job if I expressed any of these out loud or on a social account connected with my name. I think that speaks to some level of contrarianism. You've said yourself that they're bad. You've also claimed they're mainstream, so unless you're being redundant you meant that they were 'bad' in the sense of 'bad ideas' not 'bad examples of contrarian ideas'.


no, they're bad ideas that are generally acceptable in certain parts of the mainstream, at least where i sit in the world, which isn't a liberal place at all. those are quite typical opinions for a conservative.

i'm skeptical that you would lose your job for expressing these out loud, but perhaps you're right that you would. i don't know because i don't know where you work. pretty sure that firing somebody over an opinion is illegal but i'm no lawyer? seems the line would be crossed if it interfered with work or harmed somebody, not by simply expressing them online. but i don't want to get into an argument with you about this, because i can already tell you're gonna try and pick it apart with exceptions...maybe even share a news article where this happened.

if anything, to me, these opinions indicate that you're probably toxic, not a contrarian. generally toxic people think they're contrarian and pride themselves over that.


>...maybe even share a news article where this happened.

Lol, you've got me dead to rights. That's exactly what I was going to do. I'm glad you made this call because my toxicity extends to myself. I'm procrastinating on some work I told myself I'd finish hours ago.

Anyway, I live in a northeastern liberal city, and I grew up in one too. I'm aware that my opinions are popular in some cohorts, but my experience day-to-day and of the internet, all my life, has been such that I've never really thought of that cohort as being in the mainstream; more like 'those crazy idiots who believe the things they see on fox news'.


first, sorry for implying that you might be toxic! that's toxic for me to do, you might be a lovely person and i have no idea.

my main point is: contrarian ideas are relative and subjective to whatever circles you're in. i might be considered as somebody with contrarian ideas relative to my surroundings in the american south, but i don't think of my ideas as contrarian. i think self-proclaimed contrarians suffer from something sort of dunning-kruger like condition, where they take the seemingly contrarian stance just to be different. it's similar to the idea that there are no original or novel ideas, and those who think they have an original idea are wrong.

of course, there is always an exception!

and to your points:

- "Contemporary feminism hurts most women and encourages relationship-sabotaging behavior." sounds like you've been hurt in a relationship and blame it on feminism. if that's the case, i'm genuinely sorry it turned out that way for you.

- "The narrative that the US and other Western nations' participation in white supremacy and slavery/colonialism is the main societal influence today is overblown and is likely leading to unnecessary political violence and turmoil." as a student of southern history and politics, i have to respectfully disagree. you should read the book "forever free" by eric foner to understand how reconstruction after the civil war shapes our world today. or at least seek out some understanding of the history of reconstruction in america, to see how white supremacy has been used as a source of power.

- "I don't think abortions should be banned, but generally speaking, it is incredibly easy to not get pregnant. Don't have sex. Unless you were raped, no one is 'forcing' anything on you, those were your decisions. It is baffling to me that no one says this out loud." - that's just ignorant. sex is a natural thing that everybody does, especially when they're bored.

- "There are only two genders." meh. heard this one a lot. not contrarian at all. you're getting "contrarian" mixed up with "controversial".

- "Kyle Rittenhouse acted in legitimate self-defense. The popular understanding of the case is beset with misinformation about what happened." i had to google "kyle rittenhouse" because i forgot who he is. i'd argue that you're just as influenced by media as anybody else, and your opinion on this is probably influenced by the media you consume. i don't know enough about the incident to have an informed opinion, but if i remember correctly, the dude drove out of state to be in the middle of the drama (masquerading as a vigilante), and then walked up on some protestors with an assault weapon. that screams "i'm ready to fight".

my email is in my bio if you wish to talk more. i love a healthy debate but also need to work too. i won't snitch on you with your employer!


>wish to talk more

Always, but alas, I'm already behind on keeping up with people I know irl. I do have some debate left in me on those points* but you can probably imagine it, you seem like a good chum. Maybe pay close attention to the defendant's case as it develops. Anyway, good luck in your endeavors!

*except where you said I mixed up contrarian and controversial. That's an accurate call-out.

EDIT: I had to wait two hours to post this because apparently I was posting too much. What's the rate limit on HN? I've only got 5 posts on my account prior to this one.


Same with me. I hate how the media has just blatantly lied about the Kyle Rittenhouse case. I donated some money to his defence. That's not something I'd be happy to mention at work.


I was speaking with a close friend about how Kyle's mom drove him HOURS with a WEAPON OF WAR across STATE LINES to go HUNTING for protestors. It was made clear that there was no room to disagree.

From watching all the video closely, and checking google maps drive time (about 35 minutes) it looks more like a kid who has firearm training and went to the community he works in to help clean up graffiti, etc. after a riot. Once there, someone armed him. In the first video he's being pursued and someone throws something at him and he fires when cornered. He called the police to report himself. Then the crowd pursued him and two people who attempted to attack him with deadly weapons (skateboard, pistol) wound up getting shot, surprise. He heads to the police to turn himself in.


> Contemporary feminism...

There is no one definitive "contemporary feminism", and most people who consider themselves feminists almost certainly don't hold the beliefs that you probably attribute to this mystical creed.

> Don't have sex

First of all, there are people saying this out loud... and soon thereafter they want to outlaw abortions even in case of rape, so it would seem to be just empty rhetoric. Secondly even those who most loudly state this opinion can't seem to follow it and get unplanned pregnancies just as much as those who don't.

> There are only two genders

Factually incorrect, even if you limit yourself to humans. There are people with XXY and XYY chromosomes. And they are not even all that rare. If you look at biology beyond humans it becomes even more incorrect.


> Factually incorrect, even if you limit yourself to humans. There are people with XXY and XYY chromosomes.

XXY and XYY aren't genders, gender is a social construct. And society has constructed two genders, male and female. I know that some tries to construct more genders, but it doesn't seem to work, we still just have two socially accepted genders. Male - Female has so extremely strong cultural roots and everyone have very strong associations to those, trying to create something new that doesn't have the same backing and calling that new thing a new gender isn't the same thing, it isn't a gender without all that cultural baggage.


These aren’t edgy, they’re basic ignorance.


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