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Comment Re:Scary (Score 1) 83

The key to NOT being such a short hop away from everyone on the planet is to not let them into your life in the first place. Yes, some people -- perhaps even most of them -- will just blindly accept friend requests unconditionally, giving them thousands of "friends" who are just names on a list.

The only reason I touch Facebook at all, and then only with all of what flimsy privacy protection they offer enabled, is to easily keep contact with actual friends from that bizarre world called Real Life. With a handful of exceptions (because I telecommute and don't visit the home office often enough to meet all my colleagues face-to-face) all my friends on Facebook are people I have met in person and had more than a fleeting acquaintance with. I happily befriended Praneeth and Sasideep even though I have never met them in person being as how they are on the other side of the planet, but I work with them every day. On the other hand I'll probably never add Bob from accounting because my only contact with him in 25 years has been a question about a travel expense.

I don't accept requests from friends or relatives of my friends either, until I have met them in person. I'm sure my friend Paul's brother Ron is a great guy, but we have nothing to do with each other, no reason to speak to each other, no interest in each other's careers or families or hip surgery or lottery winnings.

Some of my friends feel the same way; others (mostly the younger ones, children of my peer group) go with the "friends with the world" approach. So I like to think I'm keeping my degrees of separation to an acceptably high number, and I intend to keep it that way as long as it is within my power.

Comment Re:Surprised by this (Score 1) 545

The whole "free range kids" terminology makes it sound like a new fad, but it's a retronym meaning exactly the same thing as "regular kids" did 30+ years ago. When I was about 12 (which is to say, circa 1975) I regularly rode my bike to the nearest library in Houston... which according to Google Maps is just over 2 miles, most of which goes along one of the busiest streets in that suburb. If I missed the bus I would walk or ride my bike to school (2.2 miles) and I always walked or rode my bike to work at McDonald's (0.7 miles), even late at night.

Now GIT off my lawn, dagnabbit

Comment Re:Frequencies (Score 1) 311

Ad hominem isn't used in earnest as often as the others mentioned, since most people aren't wholly convinced by it per se.

When it's used, ad hominem is usually more subtle. Think of people who deliberately mangle the name of an opponent to make that person sound more ridiculous. I'm not an Obama supporter, but I cringe every time someone on my "side" of a discussion says "Obummer" -- likewise when the other side would say "Ray-gun" or "Shrub". What are you, twelve? (yeah, I suppose that's my ad hominem response to ad hominem attacks ).

I caught myself in the habit of using an even more subtle version -- "So-and-so's speech/legislation/whatever was interesting, but it sounded better in the original German." You manage to imply without actually saying so that your opponent supports Nazi values. Or how about "The adults are talking now" or similar remarks that imply the other person isn't mature enough to have a valid opinion. Most of these slip past the audience, but they plant the seeds of doubt that undermine the validity of anything the opponent has to say.

Nowadays, I'm unwelcome among my friends on both sides of hot-button issues because of my unrelenting focus on provable facts. I play the Snopes card so much they think I'm related by blood to the Mikkelsons. I'll demand video clips or mainstream newspaper citations to back up spurious quotes, demand study details to back up absurd scientific claims... on a good day I can manage to piss off people on both sides of an argument with a single statement ("A is wrong because: foobar, but B is also wrong because: foobaz").

Comment Re:Shocking (Score 1) 182

As a recovering geek (at GA meetings we give out little pins to commemorate how many months or years we remain humble) I don't think your somewhat snarky reply is very far off. Here's my completely unqualified, half-assed armchair psychologist analysis...

Geeks tend to be on the high end of the scale for creativity which (based entirely on my observation of a very small and not at all random set of geeks including myself) usually but not always correlates with above-average intelligence. For whatever reason, that combination really does seem to produce some seriously unpleasant characteristics -- my friends and I took every opportunity to prove our superiority by being condescending to any non-geeks. I was especially harsh with cheerleaders and jocks, and heaven help you if you didn't know Star Trek from Star Wars. Nowadays some of my best friends are ranchers and hunters, some of whom don't even own a computer, and I'm just fine with that. They accept me even though I don't own any hunting gear or power tools (or know how to use them), and we get along fine. But it took decades of growing up to reach that point.

All of which is to say, my own anecdotal evidence confirms TFA.

Comment Re:"cost online publishers" - TANSTAAFL (Score 4, Insightful) 528

Well, I'm of two minds on this subject. I have never installed adblock and its ilk, because I know that "free" content comes at a cost. So as much as possible I sit through commercials from network TV's streamed shows, I allow sidebar ads to populate some screen real estate on websites, etc.

But I have my limits.

  • I don't feel guilty at all about skipping past ads more than 30 seconds long
  • I will do everything I can to block ad content that changes my browser's behavior (e.g., pop-up messages, float divisions that obscure the page content, etc.)
  • I will block ad content that takes up more than half my browser real estate

I suppose in the end that makes me no better than folks who aggressively block every single advertisement in any form -- "We already established what kind of woman you are; now we're just negotiating on the price". But it helps me sleep better at night knowing I'm at least willing to try to give them some of my attention in return for free content.

Comment Re:Mickey Mouse copyirght extenstions... (Score 1) 183

No. Any mechanism by which copyrights can be maintained forever will be abused. The DisneyCorps of the world will just automate the system to the point that long after human life is extinct, their computers will continue renewing copyright and submitting payments.

Why? Because if they ever let copyright lapse, even on property they doubt will ever make another dime, somebody else might make a profit off that work, and that would be money the copyright holders would feel they lost due to negligence.

How about this: Copyrights can be renewed periodically... by the original creator of the work. Make copyrights non-transferable, and no matter how stubborn and greedy the content creator is, that iron grip will die with him or her.

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