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Comment Re:Penny (Score 1) 702

So, America should just follow Canada and do whatever it does? Where did that idea even come from?

What do people say when Canada slavishly follows America? "Screw those foreigners, they have nothing to do with us, we will make our own decisions, and if those foreigners think we've made the wrong decision, then they can go screw themselves." What an interesting sentiment indeed.

Hey hey, be nice, the national niceness datamining results for Slashdot have not yet been released. The US may yet have a f*~&ng chance against those *&)@# Canuks! -- Oh $(*#, Damn!

If only his evil genius had been used for niceness. -- Maxwell Smart

Comment Gun idolatry vs DNA, Y-Chromosomes and SQUID fMRI. (Score 1) 935

So your hypothetical choices would be to die by the shooter or die trying to save yourself from the shooter should your DNA lock idea become a reality. And No, this isn't some strawman remark...

Why not? The shooter in Newtown stole the guns from his mother after killing her. His DNA would most likely have been in the database. The guy in Washington state purchased them legally, and the recent ones in California all were purchased by a neighbor and given to them..

It's more than likely that in any of those situations the gun's master database would have allowed the mass shootings.

Those who practice the religion of Gun Idolatry have a peculiarly anachronistic worldview. They apply 17th century law in-situ to 21st century killing technology but reject 250 years of advancement in safety technology. They remind me of the motorcyclists who come up with all sorts of strawmen arguments against helmets or drivers who rejected seatbelts and airbags.

Beyond the obvious improvements such as RFID/fingerprinting (already used by hundreds of millions of people to preserve money but not yet to preserve life). We could have a DNA whitelist a no-fire blacklist and something inspired by Frank Herbert's The White Plague, a device to detect whether the trigger finger has an XX chromosome (female) or XY (male.) While this is a disturbing idea to western minds, imagine what an equalizer it would be in parts of the world dominated by violent people with Y chromosomes. Yet another possibility is SQUID fMRI or face emotional recognition to detect the patterns associated with psychopathy.

While we're constructing straw-men situations for the exceedingly rare situations where guns save lives, let's imagine what would have happened if the guns left behind in Iraq and Afghanistan had been useless to anyone with a Y chromosome. It might not have saved the world but it's difficult to imagine that things would be any worse.

Comment Overload == operator, moderate, optimize for +, &a (Score 2, Insightful) 786

Even before Bruce wrote this timely article, I wondered whether more women in open source might be a cause or an effect of better moderation. My brief time working with the late Telsa Gwynn at GUADEC 2003 suggested that moderation was one of her under-appreciated roles. But she was attacked by the misogynistic mob (AKA the open source community.) Were it not for Telsa's thick skin and an overdeveloped sense of forgiveness, none of us would have benefited from her work. Many other women and others outside of a particularly narrow age/race/religion/gender profile have experienced similar when attempting to contribute and most gave up. We tolerate Linus's rantings and ignore that only timing and humility separated Linus from countless other early *nix hackers. We tolerate Gangolf Jobb's racist license and Trumpish rantings because he is a good coder. My family and remote team members met at GUADEC Istanbul where a very well-known opensource developer spewed misogynistic rantings that embarrassed and offended me, projected a terrible impression of Christians and Euro/American society to my global team who were experiencing western society for the first time. He came very near to inspiring at least one person to push him into the Bosporus. Why does this happen? Part of it is the same reason Whitney Houston and other rock , movie and sports superstars are bat shit insane. Society should be a counterbalance to the Id, but when we worship people as superstars, there is no counterbalance and Id rules. The defence mechanism takes over when the inner demons unleashed by bad decisions are externalized, possibly as police brutality. Similar forces were at play when Hans Reiser became our OJ Simpson.

In the past that role of moderation was performed by a central government (e.g. the FCC), a tight group of highly educated individuals, a class/caste system. Twitter and Facebook use something close to a democracy but the S/N ratio can quickly fall to the level of CB radio, AOL and usenet. The more sophisticated merit-based moderation system used by Slashdot, some opensource projects and creative sites such as worth1000 works well, at least above a certain threshold. But these systems must be designed to prevent individuals or small groups from becoming immune to criticism. Within government legal frameworks the censor or impeachment is a mechanism for moderation. We could do something within opensource communities where an individual's ethics could taint their contributions. Each of us would be able to choose whether we want to contribute or use ethically-tainted patches.

Back in the 1980s when I may have been the last male to wirewrap a PDP-11 core memory board, a friend commented, "Did you ever notice that men in the comp-sci program are (80s equivalent of "Meh") but the women are brilliant?" Yes, I did notice that. But whatever happened to Karen Norwood, Maureen T, Kathy Christiansen, Norah K, and the sole woman in our Physics program?

This is where overloading the == operator comes in. Equality is an overloaded word. Here in Ireland, the word was a slogan for LBGT marriage rights which passed referendum with an overwhelming majority. But the word "equality" doesn't apply to gender, race, religion or immigration issues here. But do we really want women to become equal to 20-something males who live in their parent's basement who have the moral and emotional depth of comic book and video game heros? I don't. Let's take the best woman have to offer and not try to force them into our broken mold.

Comment Re:Oracle will not comment. (Score 1) 202

See the US Supreme Court decision way back in the mid-1800's regarding a railroad company calling itself a 'person' under the law. A Corporation is a person, at least under the law.

This stupid error could have been fixed at any time in the intervening ~150 years by Congress passing a law stating otherwise. It hasn't.

The day that I see a law-breaking Corporation either jailed or put-to-death for their crimes, I might then consider viewing them as people. Until then, they are not—Corporations (profit or non-profit) are legal structures that represent and act for a particular group of people—Corporations are not people.

Also keep in mind that multinational corporations can behave irresponsibly across international borders damaging US reputation and security, destabilizing foreign economies and governments. But unlike refugees, asylum seekers and all other categories of non-fictional human immigrants, corporations have no visa or passport that might be revoked.


Comment Re:Move to a proper country (Score 1) 202


Plus I really dont think there are 640million empty properties right now in the US ("multiple empty houses for every man, woman and child" is what you said, combined with the current estimated population of 322million). A quick googling shows a recent estimate is only 18.6million, and most of those need significant extra work as they are uninhabitable.

As of Q3 2015 the St. Louis Fed estimates 17,443,000 vacant homes in the USA. and the OP began with an obvious typo, this is more than enough supply for our 500,000 homeless. But banks and corporate slumlords manage these property hoards to optimize their 3-month GAAP balance sheet which usually means the houses are not being efficiently used as homes, they are corporate gambling chips. That would be fine if our government of the people was for the people. But our corporate-owned government uses public resources to optimize fiat money stock prices of fictional people (aka corporations) instead of public health and well-being. So we socialize 800 billion dollar corporate losses and ignore the fallout of personal foreclosures and homelessness. (We also ignore that over the past 8 years, the ROI is approximately 1.5% on the extremely high-risk investment of bailing out a number of failed corporation. There are MUCH better ways to spend 800 billion dollars.)

In one of this century's first destructive supreme court rulings, Kelo v. City of New London decided that the US government can use eminent domain to seize your property and give it to Walmart, Oracle or any other private corporation. Homelessness is by design in an economy optimized for corporate stock prices. We've been here before. From the Grapes of Wrath:

“The works of the roots of the vines, of the trees, must be destroyed to keep up the price, and this is the saddest, bitterest thing of all. Carloads of oranges dumped on the ground. The people came for miles to take the fruit, but this could not be. How would they buy oranges at twenty cents a dozen if they could drive out and pick them up? And men with hoses squirt kerosene on the oranges, and they are angry at the crime, angry at the people who have come to take the fruit. A million people hungry, needing the fruit- and kerosene sprayed over the golden mountains. And the smell of rot fills the country. Burn coffee for fuel in the ships. Burn corn to keep warm, it makes a hot fire. Dump potatoes in the rivers and place guards along the banks to keep the hungry people from fishing them out. Slaughter the pigs and bury them, and let the putrescence drip down into the earth. There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificate- died of malnutrition- because the food must rot, must be forced to rot. The people come with nets to fish for potatoes in the river, and the guards hold them back; they come in rattling cars to get the dumped oranges, but the kerosene is sprayed. And they stand still and watch the potatoes float by, listen to the screaming pigs being killed in a ditch and covered with quick-lime, watch the mountains of oranges slop down to a putrefying ooze; and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”

Comment Re:Move to a proper country (Score 1) 202

It is truly bizarre to new that in USA, the capitalist centre of the world, so many people scream for special rights to *renters* as if they are owners....

It is truly bizarre to new that in USA, the capitalist centre of the world, so many people scream for special rights to *renters* as if they are people!...

( Fixed that for you. )

Submission + - VR Empathy Machine links UN dignitaries with Syrian Refugees

An dochasac writes: So, you stood there in the dark all night long. Maybe you even slept in a tent in a frigid urban wasteland. But you got it. You are now the proud owner of the the latest Gear VR, Google Cardboard or Occulus Virtual Reality(VR) headset. As you recover from your night of sleeping rough, you're probably looking for worthwhile VR content.

The late film critic Roger Ebert considered movies to be like a machine that creates empathy. Filmmaker Chris Milk took this concept a step further when he brought his VR empathy machine to Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan to film Clouds over Sidra. He hopes this will help us step into the moccasins of these vulnerable people and understand about the struggles of their daily lives and of their humanity. He has already taken his film to UN dignitaries and it did seem to change their perceptions of people like Sidra. Will it work for the rest of us?

Might our empathy gap be caused by the fact that communicating empathy requires more bandwidth than communicating the primitive emotions of fear, anger and despair?

"My name is Sidra. I am 12 years old... I have lived here in the Zaatari camp in Jordan for the last year and a half..."

Comment FoxNews loses its revenue stream and no WW (n+1) (Score 1) 305

I have seen an ad for a drug on one of the national tv channels then immediately following that commercial was a lawyer commercial, advertising that if you'd taken THE SAME DRUG IN THE PREVIOUS COMMERCIAL and had experienced the listed side effects, you should call "1-800-BADDRUG", and you might be entitled to substantial compensation...

Without ads for prescription drugs and ads for class-action lawsuits against said drugs, Fox loses 99% of its revenue stream, ISIS doesn't get the holy war they were looking for and World War Whatever never happens.

Comment Labeling and dehumanizing 232 million "Illegals" (Score 1) 418

By his definition, I am Gangolf Jobb's enemy.

Sadly, his manifesto would be endorsed by the majority of people even in the countries he hates for welcoming immigrants. We freely allow the migration of money, but, but not people. Jobs don't have to climb a border wall, cross a sea or desert or even get a visa before leaving their home country.

Countries such as the US treat corporations as people, except when it comes to national borders. We require a passport for living-breathing people but not for corporations. I've never heard of a corporation being held against its will for decades in a prison/refugee camp while its immigration status is being evaluated. Corporations needn't cross deserts or crowd onto rickety boats. They are seldom convicted of treason or Logan act violations regardless of the havoc and resentment they create as representatives of their homeland in other parts of the world.

We don't bat an eye when a wealthy businessman distorts a third-world economy with their holiday home or an expat REIT vulture fund managed by former US VP Dan Quayle acquires and ruthlessly forecloses on hundreds of properties in Northern Ireland's 6 counties. Your portfolio now "owns" land that the Irish have struggled over for generations.

Gangolf, I don't know what immigrants did to you to make you so angry. I am one of the 232 million people who live outside my birth country. If we were counted, 0th generation immigrants would be the 5th most populous country in the world, ahead of Brazil. But we are shunned and labelled as if refugee == immigrant == illegal. I'm truly surprised that you count the US as a country that is "too welcoming." As an insular isolationist, you might not be aware that US immigration policy has changed considerably since the waves of 19th and early 20th century immigrants. The US solved its 1990s boat people crisis by warehousing refugees at Gitmo. It's solving the central American crisis by building a wall and letting people die. "Illegal" is a good definition of these border policies which violate international law. Rest assured that I will never use your software until you understand more about the people who provide a convenient scapegoat for politicians and a convenient target for your hate.

Comment Re:Assumptions (Score 1) 184

The premise behind these simulations is that giving directions to crowds will improve flow of people.

It's a mighty big assumption that the folks in the crowds would follow a signal to "slow down". Between the culture in general (ever see a tidy British style queue in the middle east?), and the general human dynamics of large crowds of people, I don't have much hope of this being a success...

...The activity of the crowd is determined by a very weak signal, if you can give them a strong signal instead they'll probably follow it.

Imagine you have a bunch of giant LED billboards overhead showing everyone in the crowd "SLOW DOWN" or "STOP" or "TURN RIGHT AT 42nd STREET".

A baffle sends a strong signal that is impossible to ignore. Cylindrical pillars seem to be among the most efficient at transmitting this signal in the right directions through the crowd so that it slows them in time to prevent crush injuries without panicking anyone into a stampede. Forget cultural stereotypes and objective cultural differences, at this scale all Muslims, Christians, Soccer fans, British Royals, bipeds, quadrapeds... behave as particles in a non-Newtonian fluid. If these particles encounter a barrier faster than the signal from the barrier can propagate against the flow of the fluid, you get a shock-wave not unlike a sonic boom.

Comment Re:Assumptions (Score 1) 184

Correctly placed barriers can significantly REDUCE the chance of "crowd crush" and stampedes, it's a common and well-understood technique that is often used to control "mosh pits" at large concerts and similar events. The basic principle is no different to putting baffles in a petrol tanker truck to stop it sloshing about uncontrollably and derailing the truck, a crowd has a "pressure" that is related to it's density, volume, and overall direction of motion. A larger space can build up much higher "spot" pressures than a small space with the same density and motion. As I understand the problem in TFA, the sheer number of people makes it impossible/expensive to simulate the effect of crowd control measures in real time. However the basic principles of "crowd baffles" are well understood and have significantly reduced the likelihood of tragedy over the last few decades that they have been in use. If you find that hard to believe, try obtaining public liability insurance for a large event without having a credible crowd control plan.

The stoning columns probably served this purpose until they were replaced with walls to prevent pilgrims from stoning other pilgrims. Essentially they replaced the pillar "baffles" with a solid barrier. The solution to the stray stone problem may have led to the stampede deaths.

Comment Just look at Irish Water (Score 2) 99

Irish water's smart meters block several digits of each consumer's water meter. This makes it nearly impossible for anyone to see their own utility usage. The data is sent via an unpublished protocol to Irish water's meter readers. When consumer's receive a bill, they must believe and pay it, or face fines, legal action and jail.

Some consumers are concerned by the exposure to an unknown amount of RF from the unknown protocol. Others are concerned by the safety of the haphazardly installed meter system or the possibility that the poorly installed meters might be causing leaks or mis-configured meters causing artificially high bills.

The Irish government supports this private company intervening between public water and private users. So if a consumer's remote control or outdoor thermometer on the crowded 433Mhz or 900Mhz bands interferes with the unknown protocol, they are likely to be charged with hacking.

An open protocol would have allowed independent companies to develop inexpensive consumer-focused smart meters which would have helped with the goal of reducing water wastage. As it is now, Irish water decides if and when consumer have access to their own consumption patterns, they will decide what to charge for meter-readers and they alone will determine the accuracy of the flow meters which determine their revenue.

Petrol stations don't regulate their pump's flow meters. Grocery stores don't calibrate their own fruit scales. Butchers don't calibrate their own weighing scales.

So why do we let utilities decide how their product is measured?

Comment Techinal S/N ratio -100dB (Score 1) 662

Most reasonable people agree that some adult authority figures made serious mistakes. These mistakes suggest a combination of islamophobia, teenagemalephobia, plain old racism and technophobia. For Ahmed, our binary political rhetoric collapsed into two states and since Ahmed's accusers were wrong, then Ahmed must be right.

I can't think of any of my science or engineering friends who would have made it through school in the 70s and 80s under such a zero tolerance system. But I do have a number of questions: Does Ahmed deserve the praise he is getting or is he merely being used as a political campaign? Put another way, if you had done something like this and Obama stood up and declared you brilliant and innocent, would you feel worthy or would you feel a tiny bit of guilt over the fact that you lie somewhere on the spectrum between guilty and genius?

With all that has been written on Ahmed and his clock, I have a number of unanswered technical questoins:

  • What noise did it make? Was a ticking sound also part of its functionality?
  • Was the 110V cord plugged in during English class? Why?
  • Why was the briefcase/suitcase described as a pencil case? Every pencil case I've seen is large enough to hold no more than a few dozen pencils. Ahmed's seems like it could hold 1000.
  • When was the pencil case purchased? Was it a reuse of an old case or was it purchased purposely for the clock? If it was purchased for the clock, why not use a case which would allow the clock's display to be seen from the outside.
  • Cool clock? Seriously? Is assembling this really exceptional for an American kids of his age? I work with younger kids at a coderdojo, I've met kids at makeshops and science fairs. Most are capable of far more complex, interesting and scary inventions. A volcano or potato clock might even be more interesting.
  • Taking apart, reusing and "hacking" existing devices would have been far more impressive, though potentially much more illegal under DMCA and other draconian federal laws.
  • Where was Obama, the tech industry and the press when 14-year old Domanik Green's faced felony cybercrime charges instead of internships and invitations to the Whitehouse?

Comment Beos/Haiku+AmigaDOS+OpenSolaris+VMS+Osx+Ubuntu (Score 1) 484

Start with the OpenSolaris rock stable (since the early 1992-2010?) ABI, add ZFS for its efficient support of flash, snapshots, encryption, RAID-z... Add BEOS/Haiku's user-meta-data indexed filesystem and AmigaDOS's backward/forward linked file allocation "table" (To turn off the computer, you switch it off, no fscking "start->shutdown" nonsense.) Graft OSX's time-machine onto ZFS's efficient copy-on-write snapshots for an improvement on VMS's auto-versioning files. Use Ubuntu's package manager, huge application repository and ATK accessibility features. Glitz it up with OSX's Quartz extreme GUI.

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