Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit | rfugger's comments login

I was in New Orleans in October 2002, and this guy was on the front page of the main newspaper predicting that within 20 years a category 5 hurricane was likely to whip around Florida and strike the city head on. He said the levies weren't high or strong enough, and that downtown New Orleans would be under 20 feet of water:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/predicting-katrina.html

I remember reading it with interest and then shrugging and moving on with my day. Three years later I remembered that moment and realized that as a society we just don't care that much about our long-term safety.

-----


An omnious quote from an article on l0phet:

  Wysopal offered this grim precedent: Cities were once 
  vulnerable to disastrous fires, which raged through dense 
  clusters of mostly wooden buildings. It took a giant fire 
  in Chicago to spur government officials into serious 
  reforms, including limits on new wooden structures, a 
  more robust water supply for suppressing blazes and an 
  overhaul to the city’s fire department.


  “The market didn’t solve the problem of cities burning 
  down,” Wysopal said, predicting that Internet security 
  may require a historic disaster to force change. “It 
  seems to me that the market isn’t really going to solve 
  this one on its own.”

  But here’s a frightening fact: The push to create tough 
  new fire-safety standards did not start after the Great 
  Chicago Fire in 1871, which killed hundreds of people and 
  left 100,000 homeless. It took a second fire, nearly 
  three years later in 1874, to get officials in Chicago to 
  finally make real changes.
[via https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9760164]

-----


Ironically enough, the architecture of the French Quarter in New Orleans is exactly an example of this. The way it was explained to me the French used wood until a mayor or some such proclaimed that all new buildings would use stone because the Spanish inspired buildings were the only ones left standing each time the city burned down.

-----


Can we build relatively fire-resistant wooden buildings today, using modern technology?

-----


We can build relatively fire-resistant buildings.

As for relatively fire-resistant wooden buildings? I suspect that it's easier to "just" use less wood.

Although note that there are a couple of things that do help. A steel roof as opposed to a shingled one. Having proper screens in the roof vents. Having fire-resistant siding. Tile floors (or something else that's non-flammable) as opposed to carpet or wooden ones. Not having gas lines to be ruptured by an earthquake. Having proper (read: not likely to catch something on fire in the case of an earthquake) electrical connections.

-----


Lots of people predict lots of catastrophes. The trick is identifying the correct ones ahead of time. This is much more difficult than you are implying.

-----


I think it's still very simple. We can view it through the concept of discount rate [0], basically people don't value a future event as much as a present one.

The world ending in 50 years is not worth making drastic efforts now, at least for most people. If your prediction is too costly on the short term, as accurate as it can be most people won't act on it.

[0]https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intertemporal_choice

-----


There is also something called the "critic's lament" that goes like this:

If you describe a situation in too dire terms, people will conclude nothing can be done about it and do nothing. On the other hand, if you describe a situation in too rosy terms, people will conclude it will work itself out... and do nothing.

-----


I think the parent means something else. You can find people predicting all kinds of disasters for the next 5 years and maybe some of them are right. But it's very hard for governments to know which one are right. Especially considering some are of the form "there's more than 50% possibility something bad will happen". In this case even if the bad thing doesn't happen in 5 years, you are still not sure if you should disregard the warning.

-----


The problem is made worse by the fact that your confidence in predictions also generally diminishes quickly as you go forward in time.

-----


I suspect this is in part a side-effect of the Anglo-American (maturity-mismatched) banking system, which keeps long-term interest rates artificially low, leading to higher time preference.

-----


Since interest rates are a man-made concept, one must wonder what a "natural" rate of interest actually is.

Words like "Artificial vs. natural" attempt to ascribe illegitimacy to what is mostly a policy difference.

-----


Wouldn't a lower interest rate cause us to value the future more? (Or you mean, the natural interest rate should be higher?)

-----


Lower interest rates increase your relative propensity to spend by lowering the opportunity cost of consumption. For example, if you have $10K and can get only a 1% annual return, you might as well take that trip to Vegas. If you could get a 15% return, though, you might rather stay home and rake in the interest.

-----


OK, you basically have to compare your own internal discounting rate of consumption with the public rate of interest offered on savings.

If your own internal rate is higher than the public one, then indeed you should borrow to consume (or put off saving).

Companies only care about the public rate---if they have a higher rate of reliable return internally, they can keep borrowing money to invest until there's an equilibrium. A low interest rate makes companies more forward looking.

-----


the discount rate applies to utility, which may or may not have any relation to the discount rate of money.

-----


In this case that observation is unwarranted. There are some disasters which are difficult to predict and uncertain. There are others which are blindingly obvious or inescapable. Warning people that if a large hurricane hit a particular heavily populated city would be disastrous is not exactly extremely insightful when that city happens to live in one of the most heavily hurricane prone regions of the entire planet. As it turned out, Katrina was not even the worst case scenario, as it was not a Cat-5 when it hit New Orleans. Had it been, things would have been vastly worse. Similarly, a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake is not a question of whether it will happen but when. It absolutely will happen, and on a timescale similar to the age of the United States. That demands prudent planning and mitigation efforts.

If you live in Japan you can't merely shrug and say "oh, who can predict when an earthquake will come? nobody knows", no you live in an earthquake prone area, you need to plan. Similar if you live in tornado alley in the US you can't shrug and say "nobody can predict a tornado". You need to prepare.

In this case, it's not at all difficult.

-----


Shocking really. Curious to hear rationale from someone that knew about the odds before moving to the PNW.

-----


I tend to look at the insurance company's take on these kind of things for a more clinical rational analysis. Compare rates and try to ferret out why they are what they are. Yes, its come to that..

-----


I'm starting to think about ditching earthquake insurance.

I'm in a modern home, so I'm not making much of a claim if there's a smallish earthquake. But if there's a big one, I assume the insurance company will just go under, leaving me out the premiums and with no recourse.

-----


Go see a good doctor that will be thorough in checking all other probably causes of fatigue. You should probably end up seeing a few specialists as well. The major symptom of CFS is post-exertional malaise, meaning you feel worse after sufficient exertion.

While you wait through what may be many months of medical testing before everything is ruled out, you might try an experiment. Exercise usually helps depression, but usually worsens CFS. Try a bit of gentle exercise, and work your way up gradually over time until you can sustain some intensity. If that improves your fatigue, that's good news, it could be depression, and keep up the exercise. If you feel worse, more depressed, confused, fatigued, with trouble concentrating, that could be post-exertional malaise. Try taking it extremely easy for a few months (maybe many months). Don't do anything that feels like you're pushing yourself. If you start to feel better, if your fatigue and mood start to lift, and you are able to concentrate better, then it could be CFS, and keep up the gentle pacing.

Also, if your fatigue came on after a relatively severe viral infection, that would point to CFS as well.

-----


Wow I don't even know how to thank you for this, this is so extremely helpful. Thank you so much!

-----


They intend to replace IP's stateless data plane with a stateful data plane that they argue is more efficient:

> In Named Data Networking (NDN), packets carry data names instead of source and destination addresses. This paradigm shift leads to a new network forwarding plane: data consumers send Interest packets to request desired data, routers forward Interest packets and maintain the state of all pending Interests, which is then used to guide Data packets back to the consumers. Maintaining the pending Interest state, together with the two-way Interest and Data exchange, enables NDN routers’ forwarding process to measure performance of different paths, quickly detect failures and retry alternative paths. In this paper we describe an initial design of NDN’s forwarding plane and evaluate its data delivery performance under adverse conditions. Our results show that this stateful forwarding plane can successfully circumvent prefix hijackers, avoid failed links, and utilize multiple paths to mitigate congestion. We also compare NDN’s performance with that of IP-based solutions to highlight the advantages of a stateful forwarding plane.

http://named-data.net/wp-content/uploads/comcom-stateful-for...

This challenges the notion that IP's statelessness is one of its core strengths.

-----


I don't know what they have planned, but this would be a perfect opportunity to adopt a more decentralized approach to name registration, like Namecoin.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namecoin

Using a Bitcoin-style blockchain as a name registrar ought to be far less controversial than using it as a value store or a payment system.

-----


Nothing consensus-driven like Namecoin or other blockchain-driven registrar should be used by people who take security seriously. Lowering your security level to "inconvenient and/or expensive to attack" is not a desirable goal.

Consensus is no replacement for authority.

-----


You obviously wouldn't. But lots of people depend on them already because lots of other people do and they don't want to spend any more time thinking about it than they absolutely have to. If you can convince them to change, more power to you.

-----


Hey Jed. I'd be interested in a post mortem on the fork, how the network broke down, and how the new protocol addresses those issues. Reading the paper, I can believe the new protocol works, but it's difficult for me to pinpoint how exactly it differs from the old protocol.

I'm also interested in how the explicit quorum slice data for each node can be used to maintain quorum intersection over the entire network as new nodes join.

-----


I'd be interested in a post mortem on the fork as well. During the split, either one side has a supermajority or neither side does. If one side has a supermajority, that side will win on rejoin, so no problem. If neither side has a supermajority, then one side or the other will win on rejoin, but nobody's been relying on either side. In every case, there should be no problem.

-----


Ripple formalized its topology requirement in its consensus whitepaper (page 5, section 3.3):

https://ripple.com/files/ripple_consensus_whitepaper.pdf

Basically, any two UNLs must have 20% overlap to avoid any risk of a fork.

-----


Ripple Labs' response:

https://ripple.com/why-the-stellar-forking-issue-does-not-af...

(Ripple Labs develops the software that Stellar modifies for their own use, and the original Ripple network still runs on unmodified Ripple Labs software. Stellar was started by Jed McCaleb, who founded Ripple Labs, but broke with the CEO last year.)

The Ripple consensus protocol puts certain requirements on the topology of the network of transaction-validating nodes in order to work properly. They are still investigating, but it's possible Stellar's network fell outside the workable range. Ripple Labs manages their network topology more carefully than Stellar, and this incident may validate their approach. We'll have to see what actually happened.

-----


Thanks for the mention. I was happy for the new Ripple project because it is a good implementation of my original vision for an open, decentralized payment network. Now there's a fork called Stellar, which uses the same software, and so is also a good implementation of the original vision. The difference between Ripple and Stellar at this point is down to distribution strategy for the underlying cryptocurrency of their platforms, which, from my perspective, is just an implementation detail. I'm just happy to see smart, motivated people working on this.

For anyone who's interested in the earlier stuff:

http://archive.ripple-project.org/

-----


The war made defense contractors rich, and drove up the price of oil, which continues to this day to make oil companies rich. The Bush administration had strong ties to defense contractors and the oil industry. Dots = connected.

-----


Total world oil production has been decreasing since 2005, despite all the good news you hear. With the Iraqi production, the curve is going down but is nearly flat. That lead to oil prices of $100/barrel not going down. It hasn't gone up due to wars in the middle east, sadly. I realize people keep bringing that up, but it's not true. A few spikes, yes, the actual rise, no.

Without Iraq that would have been 2.5-3 mbbl/day less, or a 3.5% drop instead of a 0.3% drop.

I seem to remember from my economics class that oil demand is very inelastic. So if a 0.3% drop in supply leads to a price doubling/tripling (depending on the basis for that), what would a 3.5% drop have done ?

So while I do not pretend to know the intentions of America, I'm scared to think what would have happened without it. If oil was the target, the war was a success (for the world as a whole, America only really profited by not seeing the world go down), and lack of success would have meant total disaster. The timing was near-perfect as well.

But fact is, the only thing the Iraq war brought was a delay, or 2-3, maybe 5 years. The US shale boom is another maybe 5 year delay. Given that we're very close to the end of the second delay, we need to come up with something quick. Unless of course you'd like to see Russia take outright control of Western Europe, and have more middle eastern resource wars.

-----


I blame conservatives for this too. They laughed for 50 years at all the hippies and eggheads who talked about the need for alternative energy. One of Reagan's first acts was to take the solar panels off the White House.

-----


Conservatives are just less interested in empty symbolic gestures.

-----

More

Applications are open for YC Summer 2016

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

Search: