Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment: News Agencies Responsible for Murder and Terrorism (Score 4, Informative) 91

by Etherwalk (#49760197) Attached to: Death In the Browser Tab

By showing their propaganda videos, it means said publisher is condoning the acts displayed,

No it doesn't. The act of making such videos accessible to others, and approving of the actions within the video, are two entirely different, wholly separate things. You can make the video available without approving of the contents.

But by making it available you take some responsibility for the consequences of the reporting.

A bunch of reporters were kidnapped in the middle east around the Iraq conflict until it stopped being news and became less common. Then soldiers were kidnapped (IIRC in the lead-up to the Israel-Lebanon war) and the Press made a big deal about it, so they started kidnapping more soldiers. The Press shares some responsibility for the increase in soldier kidnappings. Not as much as the people who kidnapped the soldiers, but still some, because *without the press they would not have been kidnapped.*

The same thing is true for school shootings after Columbine.

And the same thing is true for 9/11. Right after the 1993 WTC car bombing, the news media began explaining of course the towers didn't come down *because they were designed to withstand the impact of an airplane.* Osama Bin Laden followed western news about his attacks; this suggested to him the idea of flying planes into the towers. Without media coverage and publicizing the fact that the towers were designed to withstand the impact of a plane, we probably would not have had hijacked planes flown into the twin towers.

News is important; coverage of important issues matters. But coverage of *single events*, when done without regard to the consequences, can cost a lot of lives.

Comment: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes (Score 1) 135

by Etherwalk (#49759931) Attached to: NSA-Reform Bill Fails In US Senate

"It would be absurd to believe they're not recording the calls": Is your tin hat crooked today?

Which is more likely : (1) the best-funded signals intelligence apparatus in the world is lying by choosing their words carefully and, while they likely have *some* limits on how they are allowed to search US-based data, they still keep it or arrange for someone else to in case they have to search it later, or (2) this top secret program is being transparent and 100% non-deceptive?

Remember, they have a history of lying to Congress and the public, of conducting massive surveillance that is warrantless and/or authorized by a minimal number of broad-scope warrants. And they have incentives to do so. And they operate almost entirely without real oversight--their public oversight consists of elected representatives with generally *zero* technical ability.

I believe there are a lot of great guys there, but it doesn't take many bad apples for flagrantly illegal programs to keep going, with all the weight of institutional momentum behind them. Institutional momentum is hard enough to change in *transparent* institutions.

Hey, I hope I'm wrong, and most of the people I've met who've worked for intelligence have been really great people. But then you get people who are just real assholes, or who should never be trusted with important decisions. I remember one guy saying the American people weren't *ready* for the war on terror to be over, so we should keep having it--his whole view of the thing was as an exercise in propaganda that justified all of the government overreach we've seen, and that was okay with him. He was a junior guy, and I've met much better guys who work in the community, so I'm not willing to say he's representative--but it's concerning. It's an entirely understandable perspective intellectually, just morally bankrupt and contrary to values of freedom from a policy standpoint. Get the wrong guys like that at the top, and you're fucked, and there's no outlet for good transparency.

I don't think what Snowden did was okay. But I do think he should have been able to complain at the very least to the Intelligence Committee without fear of reprisal, because otherwise the wrong guys in charge inside the intelligence community and Democracy is fucked.

Comment: Let's just say it... (Score 4, Informative) 135

by Etherwalk (#49757301) Attached to: NSA-Reform Bill Fails In US Senate

there's no way they're building the data centers they are just to record metadata. It would be absurd to believe they're not recording the calls or having a third party do it. Or... does "metadata" include, for example, a series of hashes of the call content that lets you reproduce them with 98% accuracy, for example? :) It's just data about the call, after all...

Comment: Not today's games (Score 1) 168

by Etherwalk (#49755879) Attached to: Video Games: Gateway To a Programming Career?

When I started with computers, I had to bust my ass to get any time with any machine at all and there was nobody around with information or guidance or knowledge.

The first thing I did wasn't play video games. I learned about BBSes. I learned telephony, phreaking, networking. I learned BBS software. I learned people. I built a BBS. I built a multi-node BBS. Then I moved on to writing engines for websites to do things I needed (like financial transactions, databases, etc).

I started with computers around the age of twelve and didn't really get into video games a bit until my twenties and a lot until my thirties.

Meanwhile, I have seen kids in the last fifteen years primarily use the computer for porn, video games, and social networking... and that's all they do. Not once do they give two shits worth of thought about how things work or why they work or to start taking things apart and looking under the hood. Kids are raised as consumers of content; not creators. In fact, they are punished for being creators. Inventors. Discoverers. Hackers.

Most of today's games don't have the same design. They're not really presenting you with intellectual puzzles for the most part, so much as advancing to the next level. You aren't having to figure out how not to be eaten by a grue, and even mazes are rare in today's games--things that require real use of thought or memory or other mental ability rather than just reaching for the next reward.

Comment: Not true (Score 2) 230

by Etherwalk (#49755847) Attached to: WSJ Crowdsources Investigation of Hillary Clinton Emails

And except for AM radio conservatives, nobody gives a shit about Benghazi.

You would think so, but evidently not. If nobody cared, the State Department wouldn't time the release for take-out-the-trash Friday (the day when you get the least news cycle result). Instead, the timing points to an obviously politically motivated timing utterly inappropriate to a theoretically neutral unit of government.

Comment: Contesting arrest (Score 1) 179

by Etherwalk (#49753693) Attached to: DNA On Pizza Crust Leads To Quadruple Murder Suspect

Running from the law is a crime. Just as resisting arrest is a crime.

Although rather absurdly you can be arrested with "resisting arrest" being your only charge, meaning that you're guilty of not wanting to be arrested for no crime whatsoever?

Because it's not legal to contest illegal or erroneous arrests by physically resisting them. It's legal to contest them by pleading not guilty or by negotiating to get the charges dropped. It's also legal to sue the ass of the cop who arrested you.

Comment: Machine learning? (Score 2, Insightful) 179

by Etherwalk (#49748689) Attached to: DNA On Pizza Crust Leads To Quadruple Murder Suspect

A small percentage of African slaves were brought to the USA.

From fewer than 400,000 slaves came over 37 Million.

The USA's reward for being a minor player in the trade and allowing its slaves to greatly increase in number is everlasting pay-back.

Are these crazy comments a product of naive machine learning algorithms?

Or code used for illicit communications?

Any ideas?

Comment: Re:Quite the Opposite (Score 2) 263

by Etherwalk (#49747521) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Career Advice For an Aging Perl Developer?

It's like having someone in charge of you that doesn't even know how to do your job (on a conceptual level or otherwise). Why are they my manager or supervisor?

Because they have other skill-sets or experience you lack, at least if they were properly promoted.

A boss who doesn't know how to do your job but who trusts you when you say what you can or can't do or has an understanding of what you can or can't do can still be your boss in a useful way. If you're running a sports stadium, you don't have to know how to drive the Zamboni or run the concession stand, you have to know how to interface with the people responsible for them, as well as with the owners, etc...

Comment: PR Stunt (Score 4, Interesting) 360

by Etherwalk (#49747433) Attached to: What Was the Effect of Rand Paul's 10-Hour "Filibuster"?

While I applaud Paul, Wyden, and the other Senators who have pledged to do everything in their power to block the spying-allowed version of this renewal; Sen. Paul's "filibuster" was pure PR stunt for his presidential campaign. It was during the discussion of a completely unrelated bill, and wasn't even an official filibuster.

Populism works by incentivizing politicians to do PR stunts drawing attention to issues people care about. This PR Stunt is much more important than 90% of Senate Business anyway.

Comment: Re:Force his hand..."Sue me! Sooner than later..." (Score 4, Informative) 375

by Etherwalk (#49747279) Attached to: Student Photographer Threatened With Suspension For Sports Photos

they couldn't possibly hope to recover the $100k+ in legal fees.

$100,000? That's just a tiny bit inflated. My legal fees for two felonies were slightly more than $5,000. It's not going to cost six digits to get judicial relief in a circumstance like this. It probably doesn't even get the lawsuit stage, a demand letter sent to the school district and reviewed by their attorney would probably suffice. "Yeah, we're going to lose this one. Wipe the student's record clean, tell him you're sorry, and move on."

There's plenty of stupidity in the American legal system to make fun of without making stuff up.

Were they felonies where you confessed guilt or that were fairly routine? 100K might be a bit inflated, but not necessarily if you were to go all the way to trial... you have civil discovery costs on both sides and over 4000 photos, plus electronics experts on posting, plus the cost of motion practice, plus trial time, plus appeals. It really depends who you get to do the case, but it could certainly go to $30K pretty easily, and $100K under certain circumstances.

That being said, it's likely 5K before settlement.

Comment: No punishment (Score 1) 375

by Etherwalk (#49747183) Attached to: Student Photographer Threatened With Suspension For Sports Photos

As a former troublemaker, I never understood how suspension is a punishment. I considered a three day vacation from school to be supreme good fortune.

It's not punishment for the kid. At the most it's punishment for the parent that makes a good parent make the kid see sense.

I got detention once in high school and it was just ridiculous. They didn't make you *do* anything, you just hung out in the Cafeteria for a few minutes and could read or do your work or whatever you wanted. They should have been at least making us mop up or something.

Comment: Re:Seems obvious now (Score 4, Insightful) 214

well, they were just concerned that people are really, really, really stupid.

which is fair. I mean, look at youtube now. full of newage idiots babbling about how we're moving to a new age and all that stuff. luckily the people who believe in that kind of crap and conspiracy theories about the government suppressing information about crystals usually just stick to their homes(and to scamming money out of other idiots, seriously, look at any youtube channel about newage/conspiracy stuff. if they have more than 2 hours of content they want to sell you something, even if they're babbling about the end of the monetary system).

This. It seems really stupid to think that these shows will lead someone down those roads--notably, if these shows will, so will almost anything. But sometimes people are really, really stupid. See, e.g.: anti-vaxxer movement. There probably actually *should* be a government conspiracy to silent the anti-vaxxer movement because it presents a serious threat to public health.

We could call the conspiracy the "NIH" and ask it to do "peer-reviewed research." :)

But a good propaganda machine designed to promote research over stupid ideas that threaten public safety, scary as it is, might actually be called for on occasion... be a bit transparent about it, but still.

"I think trash is the most important manifestation of culture we have in my lifetime." - Johnny Legend