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Comment: Thanks for the first-hand perspective on old China (Score 1) 71

by Paul Fernhout (#48929735) Attached to: Snowden Documents: CSE Tracks Millions of Downloads Daily

See also, for an old German example: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/...
"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. ..This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. ... To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it -- please try to believe me -- unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, "regretted," that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these "little measure"â(TM) that no "patriotic German" could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head. ..."

That said, every country is different, with different strengths and weaknesses in different situations. It is not clear how it all will play out in the USA. Like Howard Zinn wrote in 2004, on "The Optimism of Uncertainty":
http://www.commondreams.org/vi...
"In this awful world where the efforts of caring people often pale in comparison to what is done by those who have power, how do I manage to stay involved and seemingly happy? I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning.
    To play, to act, is to create at least a possibility of changing the world. There is a tendency to think that what we see in the present moment will continue. We forget how often we have been astonished by the sudden crumbling of institutions, by extraordinary changes in people's thoughts, by unexpected eruptions of rebellion against tyrannies, by the quick collapse of systems of power that seemed invincible. What leaps out from the history of the past hundred years is its utter unpredictability. This confounds us, because we are talking about exactly the period when human beings became so ingenious technologically that they could plan and predict the exact time of someone landing on the moon, or walk down the street talking to someone halfway around the earth.
    Let's go back a hundred years. A revolution to overthrow the tsar of Russia, in that most sluggish of semi-feudal empires, not only startled the most advanced imperial powers, but took Lenin himself by surprise and sent him rushing by train to Petrograd. Given the Russian Revolution, who could have predicted Stalin's deformation of it, or Khrushchev's astounding exposure of Stalin, or Gorbachev's succession of surprises? Who would have predicted the bizarre shifts of World War II-the Nazi-Soviet pact (those embarrassing photos of von Ribbentrop and Molotov shaking hands), and the German army rolling through Russia, apparently invincible, causing colossal casualties, being turned back at the gates of Leningrad, on the western edge of Moscow, in the streets of Stalingrad, followed by the defeat of the German army, with Hitler huddled in his Berlin bunker, waiting to die?
    And then the post-war world, taking a shape no one could have drawn in advance: The Chinese Communist revolution, which Stalin himself had given little chance. And then the break with the Soviet Union, the tumultuous and violent Cultural Revolution, and then another turnabout, with post-Mao China renouncing its most fervently held ideas and institutions, making overtures to the West, cuddling up to capitalist enterprise, perplexing everyone. No one foresaw the disintegration of the old Western empires happening so quickly after the war, or the odd array of societies that would be created in the newly independent nations, from the benign village socialism of Nyerere's Tanzania to the madness of Idi Amin's adjacent Uganda.
    Spain became an astonishment. A million died in the civil war, which ended in victory for the Fascist Franco, backed by Hitler and Mussolini. I recall a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade telling me that he could not imagine Spanish Fascism being overthrown without another bloody war. But after Franco was gone, a parliamentary democracy came into being, open to Socialists, Communists, anarchists, everyone. In other places too, deeply entrenched dictatorships seemed suddenly to disintegrate-in Portugal, Argentina, the Philippines, Iran. ...
  Consider the remarkable transformation, in just a few decades, in people's consciousness of racism, in the bold presence of women demanding their rightful place, in a growing public awareness that gays are not curiosities but sensate human beings, in the long-term growing skepticism about military intervention despite brief surges of military madness. It is that long-term change that I think we must see if we are not to lose hope. Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; it reproduces itself by crippling our willingness to act. Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society.
    We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Even when we don't "win," there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that we have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile. We need hope. An optimist isn't necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places-and there are so many-where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. "

Comment: Re:Terrible names (Score 1) 375

by jbolden (#48929709) Attached to: Windows 10: Charms Bar Removed, No Start Screen For Desktops

I was replying to the comment that asked why I didn't mouse over the ribbon to explore commands.

OK yeah that's what I meant. If you were just exploring then it works. If you want something specific just Google.

I never had to google to figure out where Word's menu commands were.

You likely are doing stuff that is harder now. There were pretty complex procedures a decade ago for many tasks.

Comment: Re:Getting Greece to be 99% self-sufficient (Score 1) 317

Many economic models are possible (including subsistence, gift, exchange, and planned, or a mix). The choice depends what sort of society you want and what your priorities are and what your cultural history is. For example, "Palace Economies" and "Water Empires" have lasted for centuries:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H...

I'm not holding central planning as an ideal though. What I write was that at one extreme, one can imagine a reasonable well-planned society that supplies the necessities of life to everyone for essentially no labor needed, leaving everyone lots of free time to do other stuff (including make more things for themselves, raise children, hang out with friends, participate in politics, whatever). There are societies like the ancient Incas that were modeled around this for centuries (explained in the Palace Economy Wikipedia article). It worked for many people for lots of time.

Even the USSR economy "worked", but with lots of problems, including the USA trying to undermine it. If the USSR had not "worked" for decades, why was the USA so afraid of it?

One question to ask is, for most people, is what we have now as a "free market" (although we don't; it is more corporatism and oligarchy), especially in a place like Greece suffering from economic turmoil, better than this planned model, especially given today's materials and automation and so on?

The fact is, so much of our economy is "planned" in so many ways in advance. How many people are involved in deciding what the next iPhone looks like, for example? Granted, it Apple guesses wrong, it may make less profits -- although Apple is a bit of a monopoly in a sense at this point as a close system of apps and such, so almost anything not terrible will sell to the Apple faithful.

However, there are other models people may like better for various reasons.

Imagine, for example, an economy where everyone used the "like" button on Facebook to control what goods would be produced. Limit the number of "likes" per person and you essentially have an economy directed by individuals with a "basic income".

I also wrote there that at another extreme, "... we could have a freewheeling diverse gift economy of local open manufacturing...".

The internet has many aspects of a gift economy. Coupled with improved 3D printing for local on-demand production, this may totally transform our economy, since even if it is hard for a planned economy to get right how many blue shoes people, it is much easier to plan to ensure everyone has a certain amount of raw materials for their 3D printers and enough electricity to run them (or 3D print solar panels or maybe someday cold fusion devices).

What would you object about, say, a plan to create a FOSS commons of free designs and to put a (futuristic, multi-material) 3D printer in every home with enough material and power to use it to print a wide range of consumer goods from shoes to car parts to solar panels? With food supplied from mostly automated indoor agriculture? What is wrong about that as a a baseline from which people could build from in a troubled Greece? Or, what is wrong with the idea, except, of course, that it might put a lot of current industries out of business and change the balance of power in Greek society (and Europe) back to the average citizen?

The Debian project is a bit like an economy controlled by email and IRC chat messages. :-) Mixed with a gift economy. And also exchange with paid workers like at RedHat working on init stuff -- unfortunately pushing stuff like systemd perhaps so RedHat can take over Linux and profit from that as suggested by someone else in such discussions on Slashdot?

There can be many virtues to the market in delivering goods people think feel want. I say "feel" because of advertising. Some people also get addicted to drugs after a drug pusher gets them to try "free" samples; it's not clear how "free" that is.

Also, a "free market" in practice needs to have regulation and transfer payments. For more ideas on that, see:
http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesa...
"Most importantly for our purposes, markets can be reconstructed to make it possible to plan for a more egalitarian economic future. It turns out it is possible for strong governments to use the market system for planning. Once it is realized that markets can be viewed from a governmental point of view as administrative instruments for planning, it can be seen that with a little reconfiguring they can serve collective purposes as well as the individual consumer preferences trumpeted by conservative free market economists. In this form of planning, the information is supplied by the price system that is so central to the considerable, but far from perfect, efficiency brought about by markets. ... There is thus no need for one big planning apparatus. Instead, the planning tools within a reconstructed market system are simply taxes, subsidies, government purchases, and regulation."

It's true planned economies could be done badly. But the same is true of free markets in practice, given monopolies, wealth centralization, regulatory capture, lobbying and (legal) vote buying by the wealthiest, and a host of other potential problems.

When a country runs out of tear gas, isn't that a hint that it is possible for something to go wrong seriously with a market leaving many people unhappy? What went wrong (in a deep way)? How can it be fixed? There are lots of options...

Comment: My experience is different. (Score 2) 21

by khasim (#48927043) Attached to: Book Review: Designing and Building a Security Operations Center

The truth is that many firms simply don't have the staff and budget needed to support an internal SOC. They also don't have the budget for an MSSP. With that, Mike Rothman of Securosis noted that these firms are "trapped on the hamster wheel of pain, reacting without sufficient visibility, but without time to invest in gaining that much-needed visibility into threats without diving deep into raw log files".

In my experience it is not the budget but the politics.

Is your company's security worth the expense of an additional tech? Or are office politics the reason you cannot get an additional tech?

Does whomever is in charge of your technology have the authority to say "no" to requests from other departments? And the political capital to make it stick?

I've seen too many examples of companies "suffering" from the problems their own decisions/environment created.

Retrofitting security is not the answer.

Comment: Re:Tax (Score 1) 457

by magarity (#48923935) Attached to: Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

Let's see; every time a customer buys one of their products, the government gets a cut for sales tax. Before that customer could buy it, the government got a cut for personal income tax. The US based portion of the income will pay US corporate taxes and a lot other national governments will get their local corporate share. When whatever portion of the profits get paid out to shareholders, each shareholder will pay income tax. Just how much more tax do you want?

Comment: Re:Terrible names (Score 1) 375

by jbolden (#48922589) Attached to: Windows 10: Charms Bar Removed, No Start Screen For Desktops

Microsoft may not care because, as you say, I am probably not their target market, but that has nothing to do with it.

Of course it does. Saying product X doesn't work properly because it doesn't do use case Y for which is was never intended is fallacious. "This wine glass sucks because when I try and use it to hammer nails it shatters" is simply silly.

This is the sort of thing that Microsoft tends to say, and completely avoids a number of important points. What are you basing this determination on? I could believe the "uses more features" claim -- that can be measured -- but what about the "more effectively" claim? Whenever Microsoft says things like that, they're basing it on stuff like how many keystrokes/mouse clicks it takes to do something. That's a very poor measure of how effective users are, though.

The most common testing Microsoft does is giving experienced Office users a series of tasks often using features of Office that they aren't familiar with or necessarily even know exist. For example someone who frequently does PowerPoints may not know about transitions between slides, tell them to change the transition in a presentation. The level of success is then measured.

Prior to the ribbon, using menus, the typical Office user could complete 30% of those tasks successfully. With the first release of the ribbon it doubled and we are in the latest beta at 80%. That's a huge change in effectiveness.

They can also measure based on those tests how many of the tasks the typical users were able to complete immediately i.e. which ones they know how to do before taking the test. That number has gone up as well though not as much. They also look at time to complete simple tasks which is what you are talking about with the mouse clicks. That changes a bit with context sensitivity but the huge drop in effectiveness by that measure was moving away from keyboard shortcuts when people transitioned from WordPerfect.

Comment: And it got started with the Flexner Report in 1910 (Score 1) 140

by Paul Fernhout (#48920317) Attached to: Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F...
"The Flexner Report[1] is a book-length study of medical education in the United States and Canada, written by Abraham Flexner and published in 1910 under the aegis of the Carnegie Foundation. Many aspects of the present-day American medical profession stem from the Flexner Report and its aftermath.
    The Report (also called Carnegie Foundation Bulletin Number Four) called on American medical schools to enact higher admission and graduation standards, and to adhere strictly to the protocols of mainstream science in their teaching and research. Many American medical schools fell short of the standard advocated in the Flexner Report, and subsequent to its publication, nearly half of such schools merged or were closed outright. Colleges in electrotherapy were closed. The Report also concluded that there were too many medical schools in the USA, and that too many doctors were being trained. A repercussion of the Flexner Report, resulting from the closure or consolidation of university training, was reversion of American universities to male-only admittance programs to accommodate a smaller admission pool. Universities had begun opening and expanding female admissions as part of women's and co-educational facilities only in the mid-to-latter part of the 19th century with the founding of co-educational Oberlin College in 1833 and private colleges such as Vassar College and Pembroke College. ...
    Flexner viewed blacks as inferior and advocated closing all but 2 of the historically black medical schools. His opinions were followed and only Howard and Meharry were left open, while 5 other schools were closed. His perspective was that black doctors should only treat black patients and should serve roles subservient to white physicians. The closure of these schools and the fact that black students were not admitted to many medical schools in the USA for 50 years after Flexner has contributed to the low numbers of American born physicians of color and the ramifications are still felt more than a 100 years later. ..."

What has happened recently though to address the shortage of doctors in the USA is that Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants are doing more of the hands-on work, and new careers like health coaches are showing up, knowledge about nutrition (the basis of health) is spreading through a variety of sources and practitioners from chefs to nutritionists to writers and movie makers, and we are all turning to the internet more for health care advice...

Doctors are becoming more and more like technicians controlling a prescription pad in the process -- which is sad for a bunch of reasons. As Dr. Fuhrman says, many prescriptions are just "permission slips" for continuing bad behavior including eating poorly.

And some specific specialties like oncology and cardiology are being called scams...
"Scientific Studies Show Angioplasty and Stent Placement are Essentially Worthless"
  https://www.drfuhrman.com/libr...
"Exposing the fraud and mythology of conventional cancer treatments"
http://www.naturalnews.com/033...

Meanwhile: http://www.pdfernhout.net/to-j...
"From Marcia Angell:
        http://www.nybooks.com/article...
        "The problems I've discussed are not limited to psychiatry, although they reach their most florid form there. Similar conflicts of interest and biases exist in virtually every field of medicine, particularly those that rely heavily on drugs or devices. It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.""

Comment: Jane Jacobs suggested you want more currencies (Score 1) 317

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J...

That is what is deeply wrong with the Euro (although the European Union was probably otherwise a good idea). The Euro went the wrong way. A solid currency needs to be backed by a community, city, state, or nation that has a well-defined common constitution governing the issuance of the currency according to the community's needs. The Euro never had that. Also, Jane Jacobs said currencies need to fluctuate based on the management of those communities -- so the more currencies you have, the finer grained-signals can be sent about people's confidence which helps communities self-correct their policies and manufacturing base and similar factors underlying their overall wealth production (including from "import replacement" as their currency becomes low valued relative to others and imports become expensive). Jane Jacobs outlines how the economic life of cities can be self-correcting if they have their own currencies, but if you have only one currency for many cities, then this only applies to the most powerful capital city and the rest of them tend to suffer relatively. So, the Euro was a dumb idea. Especially dumb in an age of computers and digital currencies that can be instantly converted. And now many countries in Europe (including Greece) are paying for it in human suffering.

Comment: Getting Greece to be 99% self-sufficient (Score 2) 317

My suggestion from 2008 when Greece ran out of tear gas: https://groups.google.com/foru...
"Now, does this make any sense if you understand the possibilities of open manufacturing or an open society? In Greece you have a warm climate, access to oceans, lots of sun and wind, an educated populace with a 2000+ year history of democracy (on and off :-), no obvious external enemies declaring war, and so on. And they are so worried about their future ability to make and use things (which is how I translate "fears for Greece's economic future") that they are running out of tear gas? This all makes no *physical* sense. The place should be a paradise. Instead it is in "self-destruct mode" according to one editor. It must be *ideology*. Or, more correctly, ideology *embodied* in a certain type of productive infrastructure. ...
    So, ironically, we have the worst of both systems. We could have a really centralized system run efficiently with a tiny fraction of the workforce now, with a lot less variety perhaps (that is, all the old Soviet Central Planning stuff would work now that we have the internet and great software and great designs and great computers if we accept some voluntary simplicity), but with everything very cheap (essentially, just given away) and 99% of the population doing whatever they wanted with their time. Or, we could have a freewheeling diverse gift economy of local open manufacturing where people just make whatever they want in an open way, with all sorts of useful and useless items. (Aspects of the two extremes may even converge, since what are the 99% of people going to do with the generic stuff but customize it? :-) Instead, we have a system in the middle that produces some variety at a huge expense of human effort taken away from family and civic duties, and it is a system now with so many questions about its uncertain future (including that anyone who is young will have a dignified place in the economic scheme of things) that an entire country has just run out of tear gas. This makes no sense (except of course, that some people do benefit from this, like tear gas manufacturers, school teachers who get paid to keep kids off the streets preparing them for non-existent jobs, people who are near the top of the economic hierarchy already and feel secure, etc.).
    Anyway, this suggests one target of open manufacturing could be a community of size ranging from Iceland (about 300,000 people) to Greece (about 11,000,000 people). That's certainly an interesting size range. I would think 99% closure of those economies by mass should be easily doable. Computer chips, some medicines, and maybe some other specialized components might be the major imports after the system was set up. Note that while one may not expect Greece or Iceland to "self-replicate" any time soon, the ability do do so ensures it can be self-repairing.
    Anyway, it kind of comes down to how much economic security is worth to a country compared to minimum effort. Given the massive youth unemployment in Greece, and the economic fears of depending on a global economy, it would seem like maximizing productive efficiency through participating in global production would not be at the top of their priority list now that they are out of tear gas. Unfortunately, they did not invest in this research ten years ago. So, this is only theoretical at this point. It might take a very expensive crash program to bring together thousands of researchers for a year to make headway in any time that might make a difference. Still, politically, that is an out for Greece. We could all move there, recruit all the educated youths off the streets, and spend a year figuring out how to make Greece work for everybody and be 99% self-sufficient by mass. :-) But, no need to move with the internet really. Maybe somebody on the list could coordinate moving the rioters off the streets and into internet cafes and start them programming and tagging designs with metadata? Anyway, with the right kind of enthusiasm, I bet someone who was in Greece could turn this whole thing around, recasting the Greek rioters as the potential people who would save the planet by implementing open manufacturing and cradle-to-cradle design."

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