Hacker Newsnew | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit | aston's comments login

This is very poorly set up. What are even the facts of the case?

0. We're instructed to forget what we know about these characters, but then through hints we're supposed to recover the details of these characters' relationships to each other and the world?

1. Is this a real sheriff?

2. Did Robin Hood and Little John do anything deserving of being locked up?

3. What was the previous relationship between Maid Marion and Robin Hood? Were they truly lovers or something less?

4. What was the previous relationship between Maid Marion and the sheriff? Were they necessarily citizens with a power differential?

5. Would the sheriff have released his prisoners the next morning regardless of Maid Marion's actions?

6. Was Robin's "abuse" verbal or physical in nature?

7. What was the previous relationship between Little John and Maid Marion? Were they necessarily unlinked except via a mutual tie to Robin Hood?

8. What was the previous relationship between Little John and Robin Hood? Were they friends with some obligation to each other, or merely cellmates?

9. Was Little John truthful in his promise of devotion?

Many different rankings can stem from differing understanding of those facts rather than differing moral standards. Not to mention the conflation of Honesty with Morality.


I've seen this kind of story in psych class, the missing facts are not an error; they're the point of the story. What you fill in for these holes is supposed to tell something about you.

Another important missing fact: Was the Sherrif's offer time-limited? It makes a difference regarding whether or not he was coercing Maid Marion, whether she had an opportunity to discuss the proposition with Robin, and thus whether Robin is right in considering her actions a betrayal.


Moreover, if we're not assuming anything inherently dishonest with the premise (that two men are in jail), then it is very reasonable to assume that RH and LJ did something dishonest or immoral to begin with. Most people seem to put LJ (whom we are told is a convicted criminal) as one of the most honorable. I bet this would be more pronounced if multiple surveys were given with different names, like if LJ/RH instead had the names of famous criminals.


I think you're trying to include too much context in this. I think the question is purely about how you see the bribery through sex. He's how I read this:

The sheriff's sin is that he can be bribed. He's corrupt.

Marion's sin is that she's willing to bribe to save those she loves.

Robin's sin is that he's jealous and possessive of those around him and doesn't appreciate the sacrifices they made for him.

I can't really see any fault in John. The only way I think you can see any fault in him is if you see Robin's jealousy and possessiveness as justified.


You can see fault in John as an opportunist with no principles. The idea is that he was in love with Maid Marion himself and hid it until a split happened between her and Robin. One could see him and Marion having sneaked around behind Robin's back before the Sheriff caught them.

Note that I don't see it that way, but I know enough traditionally-minded men that I can see how one could view John. They would have preferred that John and guys like him be "men" about it and challenged Robin up front, as soon as he fell in love with her. Of course, that diminishes Robin's ability to choose who she wants to be with, and that's kind of the point. The quiz asks us to use both morality and honesty as our guides, so as to capture the varied ways we apply those terms.

It's a mark of how much our society has evolved that many of us lost touch with this sort of traditional paternalism.


Perhaps a more interesting exercise would be to fill in a backstory for any given ranking. I bet that it could be done.


> We're instructed to forget what we know about these characters, but then through hints we're supposed to recover the details of these characters' relationships to each other and the world?

Honestly, I think that's the point. You're told to forget your predispositions and be objective, and it's the degree to which you're able to and the biases that surface to fill the gaps of unknowns that this test is revealing.


Fair. But then you read the answers list (http://www.talisman.org/cgi-bin/robin-hood-morality?all=true) and learn that there were right answers (jrms, jmsr) and everyone else gets insults.


Yeah, felt the same, but it could be our own head that's just playing against ourselves.. it's a psycho game after all

The hostile tone is part of the game which, in a sense is trying to be well balanced, and it may help to avoid your brain filtering the message.


jrms? Don't you mean jmrs? Or do we disagree on what constitutes an insult?


Also nice is the style guide, which also covers a number of best practices for modern Objective-C: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/5utnlwhr18ax05c/style-gu...


Curious, has anyone adopted another company's published style guide?


At Tilt we use the NY Times Objective-C styleguide. https://github.com/NYTimes/objective-c-style-guide


That makes sense, those journalists just need to have a good writing style.


At Knewton we used (use?) Google's Python style guide.


Are there actually folks out there willing to pay a 10%+ a year interest rate to take a loan denominated in BTC? Bitcoin's price is all over the place, and often moves up very quickly, so even if the loan were at 0% it would be a bad idea. But at 10%, you have to ask, are there any ways to invest your loan such that you could beat that rate? Consistently? The default rate is going to be sky high.

The only rational explanations here are 1) these people are actually intending to short Bitcoin and don't realize there are cheaper ways or 2) these people don't exist, and this is a Ponzi scheme.

The latter seems more likely, especially since this site claims to be covering losses on defaults (an even crazier idea than taking a BTC loan in the first place).


Out of curiosity, what are the cheaper ways to short Bitcoin? The only ways that I'm familiar with involve borrowing bitcoins in some way, for example, Bitfinex offers what they call "swaps" to facilitate margin trading.

It's pretty clear that the reason for borrowing bitcoins is to allow shorting, in which case most of the time margin calls can cover the default risk.

To answer your earlier question, "... are there ways to invest your loan such that you could beat that rate? Consistently? The default rate is going to be sky high". I think the answer is that at scale, probably not; most people will lose money while doing heavy margin trading. But most of the time you won't lose the entire thing, you'll cash out your position at a loss and pay off the accrued interest. The only time you lose the entire amount is if you approach margin limits, in which case you'll be automatically liquidated by the exchange and the fees will be removed. The even more rare case is that the exchange is not able to liquidate your position because of an exceptionally large move in the BTC price, in which case the default coverage by the site becomes applicable.

This isn't to say that TradeMore is a legitimate site that won't steal your money, I'm just addressing the feasibility of the technique. The fact that they are a UK based company, with officers published on the site, is some comfort, though.


Hi aston. As you suggest in your post, the majority of demand for bitcoin borrowing comes from market making traders on bitcoin exchanges. They have a need to borrower for a number of reasons, including going short. You say that currently there are cheaper ways to short, which is true. For example, on Bitfinex the borrowing rate is something like 4% APR. However, the rate is also very volatile and can jump up to 50%+ when demand is high. That's one reason why borrowers receive funds from us. Another is that they can use their funds on Coinfloor, which offers access to the GBP/BTC market. Trading of this kind is very popular right now, so I can assure you that these people exist. You and other posters are right to be concerned about Ponzi scheme. What might reassure you and others is reading our full T&Cs - you'll see the time and care we have put in to them. They might give an indication of how we do not want to do anything illegal, or even unprofessional. However, there's always going to be an element of trust involved and if you're too suspicious then you should keep your bitcoin in your own wallet until we're able to prove ourselves.


I made the worst comment of the month list for a comment I actually thought was good (!), and now I'm really curious about the context...

Is there any way to recover the thread ids or parent comments for items on the the worst comments list?


Found it quickly on https://hn.algolia.com/ it was a thread titled "Steve Jobs - To All iPhone Customers" and here is the link: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=51226#up_51333

But I agree, I read some of the worst comments and would be nice to get a link to the discussion for each of these to get some contexts!


CopThis - San Francisco

CopThis is the online retailer for music merchandise. We help fans discover and buy authentic gear from thousands of amazing artists; from the Beatles and Guns N Roses to Kanye West and Lady Gaga.

Who are we?

A diverse team of technical experts, fans, hustlers, perfectionists and friends. We love collaborating, moving fast and shipping products.


You aren't a rockstar. We work with plenty of them and they typically don't make great engineers.

You are a web or mobile engineer that can help us build great products for iOS, Android and the web. You are collaborative, enjoy working in a fast-paced environment and like solving hard, interesting problems.

You have a proclivity for building and a bias towards action.

What We Offer

Working at CopThis is a rare opportunity to solve problems for some of the worlds most talented artists as well as (potentially at least) millions of fans.

Daily interaction with colleagues who have built massively successful companies, products used by hundreds of millions of people and personally collaborated with some of the most successful artists in the world.

We recognize there are many paths that can be taken to becoming a great developer and value working with people from diverse backgrounds.

And we are competitive in all the normal ways Job descriptions say.

For more info email us at jobs@copthis.com


email was returned


Sorry about earlier. Should be fixed now...


The author's theory allows not just for insincere entrepreneurs but also incompetent ones. No matter how strongly an entrepreneur believes his idea to be a billion dollar business, it's very possible that it isn't, even if he's able to convince investors (and himself) that it could be based on some superficial metrics.


Right, and the the incompetence can be subtle and from many causes, such as poor management skills, just-less-than-necessary technical capability, in addition to the standard Dunning-Kruger effect, and cargo cultists who identify superficial qualities of entrepreneurships. Ironically, in an entrepreneur you want just the right amount of impostor syndrome, but the process may select for Dunning-Krugers.


I'm frustrated that Pandora is fighting to pay less to the people who make the music we all love. The rates are already tiny relative to other sources of income for song writers.

I'm frustrated that ASCAP was angling for an arbitrarily larger percentage of revenue from Pandora based on going for nice looking numbers (2.5% retroactively for 2013, and 3% by 2015 in according to [1]).

But mostly I'm frustrated that congress and the courts are setting numbers when the market is perfectly capable of working this sort of thing out on its own. Legislation of terrestrial radio makes some sense given that the airwaves are allocated for public use. Internet radio is over pipes the government has no control over, though, except when the bits turn into music. Oh, and only when that music is chosen by someone other than the user. What?

[1] http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/03/14/ruling-on-pandora-asc...


Would it better if, instead of $340M/year in royalties, they got $0? Because that's what they'll get if they raise the royalties to the point Pandora and other streaming radio goes out of business. Pandora operated at a net loss in 2013. And in 2012. And in 2011.

People are willing to pay a certain amount for radio, whether it's in subscription fees or putting up with a certain amount of ads per hour before tuning out. If that amount is less than the song writers demand, then they get nothing, because the exchange just won't happen. Pandora is fighting to pay what the market will bear so that this exchange does continue to happen and those writers continue to be paid for the music we all love.


This really misses something... it's written as if the consumers are somehow entitled to the music from the songwriters. Right now, musicians think streaming rates are too low, and the streaming services are operating at a loss. That basically means they are unsustainable, and that musicians are not willing to release their music at a rate the consumers want to pay. Because of debt financing, consumers are currently under the impression that they're entitled to this music anyway, but the gravy train might very well end, and then easy music enjoyment might become more scarce. For a lot of musicians, this would be a welcome development, as it would give the songwriters more options in how to control their revenue streams.


> Would it better if, instead of $340M/year in royalties, they got $0?

From the point of view of many artists, yes. Especially since the artists don't even see $34M/year out of that.

Most artists would rather that either A) their music not get distributed or B) that they distribute the music for free rather than enabling the current situation.


If A) Why are the releasing their music at all?

If B) Why are they not opting out of ASCAP, and in general only distributing it through channels that are free, then?

Happily, these are both options that some musicians are taking (presumably, in the case of the former). But not 'most'. Just some. I suspect 'most' simply want to make no effort in creating a new distribution model (I don't blame them, that's effort that is not going into making music), but also be paid more. But the change in technology has allowed people to want and expect to be able to listen to music from hundreds of artists, finding new stuff they like, and in general -explore- music more. The existing distribution model can't cope with that and make it as black and white, successful or failure, as it could when people either bought an entire album, or not, and there was no in between.

What is the value of listening to a single track, on an internet radio station, once every few weeks? "Hey, I had a million listens, I should be paid X for that!" Should you? Would any one of those people have been willing to pay $1 for that track? You don't know; there's ambiguity when the old distribution model is applied to the new digital listening patterns, that was never there when we ignored celestial radio, and only counted album sales.


Artists can opt out of ASCAP and Pandora arrangements if they like and negotiate whatever rates they want.

ASCAP and BMI formed a cartel in the 1940s to try to drive up prices by crushing alternative composers of music and driving them out of business. They succeeded and had to be brought under the anti-monopoly laws. Their legal troubles led to setting the official prices that Pandora pays.

It wasn't a free market when ASCAP was abusing it so the market arguably wasn't perfectly capable of working things out. I suspect that the market is capable today with our more open society and less cartel power from music publishers.

We'll find out if the market can handle things when independent artists abandon ASCAP for better royalty rates, if they ever do.


Just to be clear, the 1.85% is not the sum total of the money Pandora "pays to the people who make the music". Pandora pays about 60% of their revenue in licensing fees.


Don't be frustrated or mad. The more music there is, the less people are willing to pay per song. I listen to Pandora for free and I still feel like the value is limited.

More music = less value per track. Artists shouldn't take it personally, its just a saturated market.


I've just given up listening to large commercial music, and only listen to music that's uploaded to YouTube by smaller artists (often with free downloads).

I still have more to choose from than I could ever listen to, and haven't noticed any serious decrease in quality.


Agreed. There is a lot of really good stuff, especially internationally.


Thought you guys might sound good-willed. The arbitrary devaluing comparison of "arts" aka "enough good musics" out there, kind of craps on what good music consists of.


Yeah there's a real counterfactual here, of what could exist but doesn't due to the existing market forces.


oh, and what are we supposed to do, not listen to the good mudic people put out already, and not buy their CDs on amazon, and not go to their local concerts, and not buy their swag, because there are other, better artist who are not producing work because they haven't received a $250,000 advance on their contract?


No, those are all the right things to do. The problem is more about the indie musician who spends a few thousand dollars producing a collection of songs, only to be told to not even try to sell the cd, release the songs through a streaming service for hundredths of pennies per listen, and then expect to make their recording costs back through "touring and merchandise" while releasing their songs for basically-free as a "marketing expense", even while the market is saturated by other musicians that have bought into the same advice. The fan that actually makes a point to listen to the music, and buy the cd, and attend the local concert is a good fan, but the market forces are actually against that activity.


Say you were a shady Bitcoin banker with 5000 BTC in deposits, and you wanted to steal 1000 while still looking like you're on the up-and-up by implementing this idea.

First, you announce that you only have 4000 BTC in deposits. Then you build this tree, and at the very bottom layer you add a node with a -1000 balance. You pair that node with your (or a conspirator's) real node holding more than 1000 so that any node above yours (read: everyone else) sees a positive balance at every point in the tree. Everyone can verify they're in the tree, the numbers add up to what you claimed publicly, but you're now successfully running a fractional reserve! And the only way to uncover such a scheme would be to publish all of the balances for every account.

Am I missing something?

Edit for clarity: the node you pair with is your own, so that no real user sees the negative sum.


Suppose the balance sheet is:

    [ -1000, 1000, 2000, 2000 ]
The Merkle tree is:

    [ -1000, 1000, 2000, 2000 ]
    [ 0, 4000 ]
    [ 4000 ]
You actually owe 5000 BTC, but it seems like you owe 4000 BTC. Seems so far so good. The problem is, what happens if you try to take advantage of this opportunity.

Case 1: other people withdraw first.

    [ -1000, 1000, 0, 0 ]
    [ 0, 0 ]
    [ 0 ]
Nobody knows that anything nefarious has gone on. However, everyone else has successfully gotten their money out so you've actually defrauded no one.

Case 2: you withdraw first.

    [ -1000, 0, 2000, 2000 ]
    [ -1000, 4000 ]
    [ 3000 ]
Now, the other 2 users actually can see that something is wrong, because the Merkle branch will have a -1000 BTC node sticking out.

So in theory, as long as there exist users who don't check their Merkle branches, and those users are identifiable, it probably is possible to run a slight fractional reserve undetected. So the protocol is suboptimal. But it's not really "broken". I do wonder if it can be improved though, perhaps with some kind of ZKP protocol.


Oh sure, you can sum and compare the balances under ZKP and even hide the total amount. But the problem is that as soon as you invoke a ZKP for general computation you take into the realm of barely practical moon math.

... And you still don't fix the problem that balances which are unchecked can be diverted.

In the IRC log I posted I went on to suggest that a service could have a rule that _permitted_ them to take your balance if you don't check it periodically— e.g. they could just withdraw it into their own pocket. You could prove you checked it (or that you tried and they wouldn't let you). By doing so you'd actually create a real incentive for people to check, though I suspect boobytrapped balances wouldn't be very welcome.

Regardless— it still confines the extent of fraud that is possible.


One way to defeat the "hide the negative balances inside a subtree of technologically clueless grandmas" attack might be to generate the tree using some easily verifiable deterministic algorithm (ie. alphabetic order of hashes of some user data), and perhaps even have several trees. It's not perfect, but it could help reduce the problems, although perhaps at the expense of some additional privacy.

> And you still don't fix the problem that balances which are unchecked can be diverted.

Okay, I'll admit I might be missing something here; what do you mean by that? The exchange isn't storing each user's bitcoins separately; that requires one TX per user to maintain anyway. It should be storing them all under a single HD wallet and publicly releasing the MPK, so users can take the MPK and use it to verify that the exchange actually has 5000 BTC, the Merkle root says 5000 BTC, and their Merkle branch is correct. The exchange can't spend "unchecked bitcoins" or "checked bitcoins"; they're all just bitcoins under the same HD wallet, and spending any of them would trigger an alarm.


> > And you still don't fix the problem that balances which are unchecked can be diverted.

> Okay, I'll admit I might be missing something here; what do you mean by that?

Say Alice _never_ logs in anymore and the site has noticed this. The site can just go "oh Alice, her balance in now 0" and go and gamble away those coins— sure, their holdings go down, but so do their obligations. Since Alice never logs in anyone, she's not going to protest that her coins are all gone.


Ah okay, that makes sense. You're completely right that that's not really solvable in general.

Unless, of course, we finally switch over to a public/private key based login system and each user's balance sheet is composed of a set of authorized/signed deposits, trades and withdrawals (ie. a full blockchain, but centralized and "mined" only by the exchange's server). I wonder what possibilities that kind of setup would open.


Go read that IRC log. :)


Discussed here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7278325


There are pieces of Python 3 that are syntax errors in Python 2. And there are Python 2-isms that are valid syntax in Python 3 but have a different interpretation. It's not as simple as importing certain features (which creates a sort of language version hybrid).

The idea to allow one project to switch between Python 2 and Python 3 for individual files is more interesting, but practically speaking would lead to sort of a mess.


>The idea to allow one project to switch between Python 2 and 3 for individual files

Yes, I believe key parts of the standard object model changed between the two (e.g. strings vs bytes, many of the magic methods and operators) making this nearly impossible. Every time objects would pass back and forth, they'd have to be converted, which is wasteful and bug-prone (and this is a whole mess of library code that the python3 guys probably did not want to write). You'd also need to load two different standard libraries, which would waste memory.

You only need to scan through the upgrade feature list to see how hard intercompatibility would have been. http://docs.python.org/3.0/whatsnew/3.0.html

Although I totally agree with Aaron that this would have allowed people to actually use Python 3 without fear, anything short of forcing the entire program and all of its modules to run in v3 mode as opposed to v2 mode would have been a disaster from a reliability and technical design standpoint. And that's closer to how things actually went down with 2to3, etc.


thanks for that link, now I see the problems Text Data vs. Unicode alone would be an enormous overhaul. Though the syntax changes dont seem that problematic.


They aren't. And there are automatic tools for converting between them (2to3 and 3to2), along with those __future__ imports that Aaron mentioned: doing "from __future__ import print_function, unicode_literals, absolute_import, division" would give you most of the Python 3 syntax changes in Python 2. The "everything expects bytes" to "everything expects text" change is the biggest hurdle for a lot of projects.


I may be appealing to emotion there, but it's certainly not misleading (nor is your claim about Satanists, though I think the proportion going to them is very very small). It's true!

Do you disagree that it would be better for the $10/mo a subscriber pays to go only to the artists they listen to?


"Your" $10 does only go to the artists you listen to. If you shift your listening entirely from one artist to another, the artist you left will see their revenue drop by $7 and the artist you adopt will see their revenue increase by $7.


If Spotify subscribers listen to more or less the same number of songs per month then their money does go to the artists they listen to. Your money only goes to artists you don't like if you listen to fewer songs than average.


Not only would that be better, but it would be better if it was usage based billing. Why does someone who listens to 10 hours a month pay the same rate as someone who listens to 140 hours?

Great analysis, btw.



Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact