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Roy Morris

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If you read my writing regularly, you know that I'm fiercely critical of police abuse. But that doesn't mean – and has never meant – that I'm critical of police as a whole. When police are a part of the community that they protect, they act as first responders in emergencies, resolvers of disputes, and protectors of the public. Police, at their best, are the best of us, and the profound public trust placed in them – the extraordinary legal powers that they have – reflect that, in the hands of good people, these dangerous tools make all of our lives better.

And of course, this public trust is what makes the reverse true, as well: police, at their worst, are the worst of us, and the betrayal of this public trust makes the "bad cop" – whether they be violent or simply corrupt – one of the worst enemies our society can have.

In this context, I find Michael D'Antuono's painting "It Stops With Cops" particularly important, both for what's right about it, and for the important other part that it misses. (For those unfamiliar with his work, D'Antuono was also the painter of "A Tale of Two Hoodies:"

When cops are out in the field, they are dealing with tremendous stresses; a great deal of the job, after all, involves dealing with people at their worst, often angry, violent, and unpredictable. It's all too easy, in a situation like this, to fall into separating the world into cops and everyone else, to see your own community as a hostile force. When that happens, things become very, very, bad. And nobody is more able to help a cop avoid this than another cop: police officers can look out for one another, and keep each other from falling off that edge.

The cop in the middle of this painting might not actually be a bad cop. He might be a good cop, who under tremendous stresses, has come close to snapping and beating or killing a man. And his partner's hand on his baton, stopping him, could be the thing that stands between him and becoming one of those bad cops.

His own partner might need the same from him, another day.

This is part of why I don't actually believe that much in the idea of "good cops" and "bad cops." What I've really seen are good departments and bad departments. Bad cops don't last long in a good department, because they are surrounded by people who will stop and restrain them. And likewise, good cops don't last long in a bad department, where they'll be sidelined at best, and victims at worst.

And nor does that boundary stop with the people in uniform. Culture often starts from the top: not just the chief of police, but the prosecutor's office, the judges, City Hall, where the norms and boundaries of behavior are implicitly set. One other thing I've noticed is that a bad department never occurs in a vacuum: it has to be enabled by all the rest of the city structures around it, who will turn a blind eye when it comes to misconduct, who will promote and protect bad actors, who will let things slide until they become the norm.

And those city structures are never invisible to the general public: when things have gone bad, the public has tacitly agreed to it being the state of affairs as well. Often, and most poisonously, the city itself has split (most commonly along racial lines, in the US, but other lines certainly occur), and one side has made City Hall and the entire apparatus of law enforcement its creature, with tacit permission and encouragement to beat, harass, extort, oppress, and murder the other.

So yes, it stops with cops: It's the responsibility of police officers to watch out for one another, to remember that that same public which is full of perps and villains is also the public which you are there to protect, to keep each other from falling into becoming bullies and thugs behind a badge.

But only a few things stop there. Most of the things stop with the community as a whole. If the cops in our cities have gone bad – not merely in our own personal experiences, but if we hear other people in our cities saying that the cops have gone wrong, even as we see them seeming to be fine – then it's our responsibility, as a general public, not to allow it to happen. To demand accountability and professionalism. To not elect people who claim to be "tough on crime" and implicitly mean "tough on the other side of our community," or worse, "lenient on bad cops."

And more than anything else, the thing which makes that possible is to see your community as a single, integrated whole, which succeeds together or fails together. The worst of these diseases happens when people in a community see themselves as "us" and "those interlopers;" that's the factory for the conditions where the cop in the middle of this picture is the rule, not the exception, and nobody is holding him back.

Cops can stop it, but they need our help. We would never expect the fire department to be putting out fires if we were spraying gasoline on them all the time.

For more of Michael D'Antuono's art, see h/t to +Grizwald Grim for sharing this picture. And thanks to my own local PD, the +Mountain View Police Department, for being some of the good guys: we need more people like you out there.
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It begins. #college #backtoschool
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+Bildart Kuasi what are you?
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How many people ordered a Nexus 6 from T-Mobile ? #Android   #Nexus   #tmobile   #Motorola
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Ordered a 64Gb and received it
Ordered a 64Gb and its on back order
Ordered a 32Gb and received it
Ordered a 32Gb and it is on back order
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+T-Mobile  Thanks for letting me back order with 1-2 day shipping... It didn't show that it was back ordered until this morning. After I purchased 2 day shipping on my accessories from 2 other sites... This release has been nothing short of frustrating.

I hope that you understand that the public expected more from you +T-Mobile  ,+Motorola Mobility , +Google . When you are going to release a product why didn't you expect us? Why didn't you prepare for us? Why do we have to give you money and wait as if you don't have the means to front the cost to produce a large quantity?

I know that sometimes things don't go as planned in manufacturing +Motorola Mobility but you are a veteran and a giant. This is not an excuse you can afford to lean on.

+T-Mobile Why didn't you get more involved with ordering sooner? It really seems like you didn't have much involvement with preparing at all. Being the carrier that started it all on September 23, 2008 you have a duty to ensure the flagship Nexus devices will be stocked and ready for shipping on launch. Your customer service associates depend on the incentives from flagship devices like these for making extra cash during the holidays! It isn't just end users that aren't getting the latest device it is also your sales associates that are suffering due to lack of stock and not being able to sell in store.

And finally +Nexus  +Google ... you are well Google. We expect the world of you because you have changed the world for us. Giving us the ability to find where we need to go, entertain us on the go, and even inspire us with innovative projects like +Google Glass , Google Person Finder, and Android. Your job at its core is to market and find what we want then deliver content to us without the end user even realizing its tailored to us. This is a big job but you are very good at it judging by your stocks and how highly we all praise you for the projects you work on.

How can +Google not see the demand for the Nexus 6 coming? Maybe I may not understand how Google search and tracking works but I would imagine you have the ability to tap your own resources to determine and predict the demand of a product based on searching and history of each user doing the search.

Is it me not understanding roles of the companies mentioned and the cause of the failure to supply?
#Google #Nexus6 #Tmobile #Motorola  
#Android   #Nexus  
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Fair points indeed. I retract my previous comment
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What is a Computer, Really?

Look at the picture below. Believe it or not, that person is operating an extremely sophisticated mechanical calculator, capable of generating tables that evaluate functions called “polynomials” [1]. Although a graphing calculator can do that, a pocket calculator certainly can’t. The device above is a mechanical purpose-built computer!

This article is the next installment of my series on computing. In the previous parts, we learned about Boolean logic, the language computers think in. We then learned how to implement this logic electronically and, using our newfound understanding of electronics, how to make computer memory so that computers can record results of calculations. Finally, last time, we discussed a theoretical computer called a Turing machine (named after, of  course, Alan Turing). It is believed that the answer to a problem can be computed if and only if one can build a Turing machine to compute it [2].

This time, we use our discussion of the Turing machine to try and nail down what a computer really is.

(If you haven’t read the article on the Turing machine, I recommend you do so now. I’ll be relying on it extensively. It’s here:

The Universal Turing Machine

Recall from our discussion last time that a Turing machine has three parts:

1. A ticker tape consisting of cells that can be written in. We select an alphabet of symbols we’re allowed to write. For example, you could easily use the real alphabet or every character available in unicode, or whatever you like.

2. A “head” that can read from the tape and write to it. The head also has a finite number of “states” or modes. You can think of these in the same way as the modes available to your printer at home: a “scan” mode, a “print” mode, mavbe a “fax” mode. These determine what the printer does with the input it’s given. Similarly, the state of the head determines what it does when it reads a symbol.

3. A rules table. The table tells the head what to do when it reads a symbol off of the tape, given the state it’s currently in.

Given a computable problem to solve, one can design a Turing machine to solve it by constructing an appropriate rules table. But what if we want to go the other way? What if we want to design a Turing machine that can solve any computable problem?

Turing realized that it’s possible to design a Turing machine that can mimic any other Turing machine. The simplest, most obvious way to do this is just add more modes to the head. For example, suppose we had two problems we wanted to solve, problem 1 and problem 2. And suppose we know how to construct a Turing machine to solve each problem respectively: machine 1 and machine 2. And, for simplicity, let’s say that both machines use the symbols “1” and “0” and have three modes, “red,” “green,” and “blue.”

Now let’s construct a new Turing machine, machine 3, with SIX modes: “red1,” “red2,” “green1,” “green2,” “blue1,” and “blue2.” We’ll give it the following symbols to use: “1,” “0,” “A,” and “B.”

Then we construct the rules table such that if the state is red1, green1, or blue1, and the symbol is either 0 or 1, then machine 3 behaves like machine 1. The rules for the state red1 correspond to the rules for machine 1 in the red state, and likewise for green1 and blue1.  Similarly, if the state is red2, green2, or blue2 and the symbol on the tape is either 0 or 1, then the machine behaves like machine 2.

The only thing we have to do is determine whether the machine uses the states for machine 1 or for machine 2. We do that with the special symbols A and B. If the machine reads symbol A on the tape, it knows to behave like machine 1. If the machine reads symbol B on the tape, it knows to behave like machine 2.

Now machine 3 can solve either problem 1 or problem 2! And we can keep going like this. If we add an arbitrary number of states, we can solve an arbitrary number of problems. A Turing machine that can mimic any other Turing machine (and thus solve any computable problem) is called a universal Turing machine [3]. A universal Turing machine is the standard model of a fully programmable computer.

Can You Build One?

But if we needed an arbitrarily large number of modes to solve all problems and thus make a computer, that would be pretty useless. Since the number of problems we’d like a computer to solve is incredibly huge, it would be impossible to construct a computer with one mode for every single type of problem in existence (including those we haven’t even thought of yet).

So are modern computers only pale approximations of universal Turing machines? Fortunately, no. AI researcher Marvin Minsky [4] showed in 1962 that you can construct a universal Turing machine with only seven modes and a four-symbol alphabet. Later, it was discovered that we only need a binary alphabet (1 and 0) if we use 15 modes. So yes, it’s possible to build a real-life universal Turing machine. That’s good to know, since you’re probably reading this post on one of them!

So What Is A Computer, Really?

We’re finally ready to answer our title question and tie all of this abstract computational theory back to practical electronics. A “computer” is any device that can be shown to be equivalent to a universal Turing machine. (This property is called Turing completeness [5].) For a device to be Turing complete, it needs the following three pieces, roughly speaking:

1. A set of logical rules dictating how it should behave given some input. On a Turing machine, this is the rules table. In an electronic computer, it’s the Boolean logic gates we constructed out of vacuum tubes or transistors. (See:

2. A way to record the results of a calculation and read these results in as new input. On a Turing machine, this is the ticker tape. In an electronic computer, this is the computer memory constructed from electronic flip-flops. (See:

3. A way to control the device’s logic so that the same input data can be manipulated in many different ways. On a Turing machine, this is enabled by having many modes for the head. I didn’t discuss how to achieve this in an electronic computer, but we’ll suffice to say that it exists.

With these three components, it is possible to construct a universal Turing machine, or at least something equivalent. But notice that these criteria don’t limit us to electronic devices! Any device that meets them can do anything a laptop can do (albeit probably much much slower)!

Next time we’ll take a break from hardcore theory to discuss some cool examples of non-electronic computers.

A Historical Note

Although electronic computers have been shown to be Turing complete, this may or may not have been really considered during their design. Computer pioneer John von Neumann [6] and the people working on the early digital computers certainly were inspired by Turing and von Neumann extended Turing's work. However, modern architectures weren't really known to be related to Turing machines. But it was only later that mathematician Hao Wang [7] demonstrated that electronic computers were Turing complete.

Other Approaches

Turing's machines aren't the only mathematical description of what it means to be a computer. Mathematician Alonzo Church [8] developed a completely equivalent description based on the mathematical definition of a function, called Lambda calculus [9]. I find it beautiful, but I'm not going to try to describe it here because it's very abstract. Check out the link below if you're a fellow math nerd.

Further Reading

There are many many resources on the Turing machine, but most skip what’s special about a universal Turing machine. Here’s what I could find.

1. The article on Wolfram Mathworld has some nice diagrams from Stephen Wolfram‘s book:

2. The Wikipedia article on the universal Turing machine is very good:

3. Science Decoded has a nice article on universal Turing machines:

4. Here‘s a free short biography of Alan Turing which discusses universal Turing machines a little:

5. The academic among you may want to check out the article on Turing machines on Scholarpedia. Scholarpedia is a free collection of peer-reviewed articles on scientific topics. It’s very good:

Related Reading

This is the sixth article in a multi-part series on computing. These are the other parts:

1. In this article, I describe the basics of Boolean logic, starting with truth tables:

2. In this article, I describe how to make composite logical statements using Boolean logic:

3. In this article, I introduce the triode vacuum tube and describe how it works:

4. In this article, I show how to use triodes to make logic gates:

5. In this article, I explain how to build computer memory:

6. In this article, I explain how a Turing machine works:

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!


#science   #computers   #turing   #complexitytheory   #ScienceSunday   #ScienceEveryDay   #logic   #babbage  
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You spoke. We listened. 
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On C-SPAN - Dianne Feinstein says that the #CIA misled the public - wonder when she is going to say the same about the #NSA?
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LOL. I wonder...
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What +Francisco Franco  said...
Nothing to see on the new Hangouts app. They even forgot to theme the Settings activity... old preferences style, old ActionBar size... The Nav Drawer textViews do not follow the standard size. Why can't I see which of my friends are online? Why can't I be offline while still seeing who is online or not?

Fuck stickies and half-assed Material Design, bring us actual functionality that we once had on the old Google Talk. +Google 


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I purchased a 50,000mA external battery pack in preparation for the spike in cell phone usage the first week or two. #Nexus6   #Nexus   #Recharge  
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Okay here is the question peeps! I want to get a Bluetooth 4.0 keyboard and mouse for the Nexus 6 as well as a stand so I can play games via Splashtop remote desktop app. I have done this with my Nexus 4 and it works well but I need to have a keyboard and mouse both being Bluetooth 4.0. Help me find the perfect products! Also keyboard must be backlit and preferably fold-able. #Android #Nexus6 #Nexus #Accessories #gaming
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