Fished writes: "In the debate on the modern death penalty, proof that an innocent man has actually been executed in modern times has become a grisly milestone--proof that even with all the modern safeguards, the death penalty is still fundamentally flawed. In the words of Sandra Day O'Connor, 'execution of a legally and factually innocent person would be a constitutionally intolerable event.' Regrettably, as detailed in this article from the New Yorker, which includes fascinating details on the science fire investigation, that milestone appears to have been met. On February 17, 2004, Cameron Todd Willingham was executed for a fire that killed his 3 daughters, a fire that was not, after all, arson. May he rest in piece."
Fished writes: "A couple of recentarticles here on Slashdot have made reference to Functional Programming, which forces me to admit a weakness. Despite programming since the age of 6 (literally) and using snippets of Emacs LISP for almost 20 years, I've never really mastered a Functional language. Since I learn a new programming language every year to keep from getting stale, I've decided that this year I'm going to correct that. So, here's the question: first, what's the best language for a new-comer to functional programming? I recognize that Python and Ruby incorporate some functional features, but I want to learn a pure functional language that will force me to master the functional paradigm. Obviously, LISP is a choice, but I'm not sure that its the best choice. Ideally, I want a language and an environment that will let me write something useful. Second, what books, websites, and tools would you recommend for someone new to Functional programming?"
Fished writes: "This may be a selfish question, but so far as I can tell it hasn't been asked before. I'm currently a Solaris System Engineer in a Very Large Company. This Very Large Company has predictably standardized on Windows as their corporate desktop. However, they are also of the opinion that nobody needs anything but Windows on their desktop. While this may be true for most employees, as a System Engineer I find that my productivity is much lower when I am forced to use Windows on my desktop. I spend way too much time overcoming the ways in which Windows is just different from UNIX, and not enough time getting my job done. Loading Solaris X86 is not an option, since we are required to use a bunch of software that is Windows only (much of it sloppily written, IE only internal websites, with fun things like ActiveX controls.) VmWare works, but is certainly less than ideal. So, I have two questions. First, if you're a UNIX/Linux systems engineer/administrator in a large company, do they give you a desktop for the platform you manage? Second, have you any tips on justifying your need for a second, UNIX-based desktop to the powers that be? I'm hoping enough people will write in that I can point management at this article to demonstrate that we're not just being picky."