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Comment: This is a good idea... (Score 1) 101

by Entropius (#46776505) Attached to: Industry-Wide Smartphone "Kill Switch" Closer To Reality

... if and only if it involves me having the option to generate a public-private key pair when I get the phone, putting the public key on the phone, and telling it "melt yourself if someone gives you the private key". Then I can guard that private key however I like -- I can give it to the police, to the cellphone company, or to nobody.

I am fine if *I* have a killswitch. I'll be damned if I'm going to give someone else one.

Comment: Re:Revolt? (Score 1) 693

by Entropius (#46767335) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

Hogwash. The US government controls the media very little here. Go read about what's happening in Russia, or the recent hubbub when the Turkish government banned Twitter because someone called him a doodoo head. And Turkey and Russia are pretty liberal compared to the real authoritarian regimes: North Korea, China, Zimbabwe, etc.

No, the US isn't perfect. But we are far from a totalitarian hellhole compared to the real totalitarians out there.

Comment: Re:Justice (Score 5, Interesting) 445

by Entropius (#46733015) Attached to: Commenters To Dropbox CEO: Houston, We Have a Problem

This goes beyond that.

Rice directly contributed to the waste of O($1 trillion) of taxpayer money, the loss of thousands of lives, and the torture of prisoners. That should make her persona non grata to any organization that gives a damn about not wasting public money for political gain, not murdering people, and not engaging in state violation of human rights. This isn't "gave some money to a dishonest and illiberal election campaign" (Eich). This is "shit on American values and wiped with the Constitution for good measure".

That's on top of the security/espionage concerns.

If Condi Rice were the checkout clerk at Safeway I'd refuse to do business with them.

Comment: Re:shenanigans (Score 3, Interesting) 383

by Entropius (#46724191) Attached to: UN Report Reveals Odds of Being Murdered Country By Country

The difference is that the ethnic diversity in Europe looks different than it does in the US: in Europe, it's because of immigration. Folks generally don't cross an ocean to then shit on the society they've come to join. Sure enough there's really not that much violence in most immigrant communities in the US. I used to live in the slums of Baltimore, and finally moved to a new apartment in DC. I got to the laundry room and saw a lady in there speaking Spanish to her daughter, and thought "Alrighty, if the immigrants have come here, this is a decent place." I was right.

But the highest crime rate in the US is in the black enclaves in the inner cities. That population was never an immigrant community; it's the descendants of former slaves. We (the American whites) did horrible things to them, and then after emancipation continued to do horrible things to them in part of the country while not really doing enough to facilitate the integration of the liberated slaves and their descendants into society. By the time we passed the Civil Rights Act there were endemic social problems in the US black community, to the point that there's a long and very respectful Department of Labor study into them (the Moynihan Report).

So now in the US those black enclaves have a sky-high murder rate, and the rest of the country has a pretty low one (broadly similar to Europe's). Why? A whole constellation of historical and cultural reasons, many of them traceable back to horrid racism years ago. Should we still blame whitey for the problems? Is it slavery's fault that kids in the ghetto kill each other for silly reasons and don't want to learn to read and write? I dunno.

But saying simply "Europe has diversity too" misses the point: the non-white folks in Europe are there because they came there and wanted to be European, for the most part. (This is pretty similar to Asian-Americans, a group with a low crime rate.) That has vastly different cultural effects than hauling people's ancestors over in chains and wrecking their society.

Comment: Re:shenanigans (Score 2) 383

by Entropius (#46724103) Attached to: UN Report Reveals Odds of Being Murdered Country By Country

The US is not a first-world country, nor is it a third-world country. It's a first-world country with pockets of third-world society in it: the inner cities of Detroit, New Orleans, Baltimore, Chicago, and the like. Grandparent's odds of being killed, assuming he lives outside of these places, are rather similar to what they would be in Europe. (I used to live in inner-city Baltimore -- not the worst part of the city, but a pretty bad one, the sort where you have to shoo the junkies out of your car so you can use it sometime. Actually, it was my roommate who had to shoo the junkie out of her car. I had to shoo a crackhead out of mine in Washington DC, though.)

Americans, for better or for worse, have come to accept crime in those places. Y'know the horrible Newtown school shooting? That many people get killed every few weeks in Baltimore and it doesn't make the news. The US is a very pluralistic country; we have lots of mini-cultures and mini-societies embedded in it with very different demographics and crime statistics.

So grandparent is probably perfectly fine with his odds, since they're similar to yours.

Comment: Re:And yet... (Score 2) 383

by Entropius (#46723967) Attached to: UN Report Reveals Odds of Being Murdered Country By Country

In the US, there is very little correlation between gun ownership and murder rate. Many states like New Hampshire and Utah have very liberal (=loose) gun laws and not much murder. Others like Mississippi have loose gun laws and lots of murder; still others like Washington DC have very restrictive gun laws and lots of murder.

Comment: Re:Looking like Windows (Score 5, Interesting) 450

by Entropius (#46717149) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace?

True story:

I needed to buy a laptop once, and wandered into a Best Buy and started poking at one of the machines. I hadn't seen Win8 before; all of my machines run some linux or other, or Win7 with the classic UI.

I'm curious about the system specs of one machine, so I want to go to Control Panel->System and see. I call over one of the Best Buy reps:

"How do I get out of whatever tonka-toys demo software this is and back to the OS? I want to check the specs."

The guy answers: "Uh, that *is* the OS. Don't like Win8 either, eh?"

Comment: Re:Lol don't (Score 1, Informative) 450

by Entropius (#46717079) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace?

Same with Windows.

With Windows, it takes a ton of time for people to get stuff done.
With Linux, it takes a little time from one person who really knows what she's doing to get stuff done.

It's your choice between "drag and drop ALL the things" or "one-liner regex magic" to organize files, for instance.

But Linux these days lets you do things the GUI way, too, so it's not really a problem. I gave an old laptop to a friend of mine who is completely tech-naive, and threw Lubuntu on it with some shortcuts on the desktop, and showed her how to use the package manager. She has no complaints and is able to do her stuff.

Every nonzero finite dimensional inner product space has an orthonormal basis. It makes sense, when you don't think about it.