Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:Fukushima and Chernobyl not worse case failures (Score 1) 117

I can't speak to the chemical plants near you but with nuclear power, you always have incredibly dirty radioactive materials inside a container, with lots of complex plumbing leading into it, and under worst case conditions that stuff can potentially always get into the air and water and get spread far and wide.

Although in principle we could make it never fail over the lifetime of human beings, in practice, we as a species, don't know how to do that, and the proliferative effects of nuclear power and their association with nuclear bombs cannot be underestimated either.

To make nuclear power completely safe, is like trying to make water not wet. It's built into the nature of what we are doing with the materials, for utility-scale nuclear power they are always on the edge of melting down.

Because of these inherent properties it's also never been cheap; the extensive containment and safety you need to engage in, seriously impairs the economics and what you have to do to get around that problem, renders it an inflexible source of power. You have to run it essentially flat out to get the kWh price down to reasonable figures. The most successful systems (like in France) have hydroelectricity or other additional flexible supplies to balance out the power. But if you have that anyway, then overall, technologies like wind power are now usually cheaper and incredibly less risky and easier to install, and compared to nuclear power which is a more mature technology, still getting significantly cheaper over time.

Throwing money at such inherently risky technology like nuclear power to try to make it less risky is not a wise investment right now, and all the signs are that it is only getting less wise with time, other technologies are rapidly rendering it moot.

Comment: Fukushima and Chernobyl not worse case failures (Score 3, Insightful) 117

In Japan, they found at one point that there was a possibility of it *seriously* going to hell in a hand basket.

If the wind had been really wrong, it would have put serious fallout over Tokyo; which would have been really, really, really bad. While few people would have died, the economic disruption would have been (without any hyperbole) unbelievably stupendous.


You can tell me all you want that this kind of accident can never happen, but I just don't believe it. We have no reason to think that Chernobyl or Fukushima were the worse cases, nor that these kinds of failures cannot happen again worse.

Comment: Re:Old is new again (Score 1) 282

by Malc (#49333809) Attached to: Ford's New Car Tech Prevents You From Accidentally Speeding

Having owned or driven a few German cars, and I can tell you that speed limiters are no good if you don't live in Germany. My VW for instance was governed to 220 kph (the rating of the stock tyres) and had tyre pressure instructions inside the rim of the car door for speeds above/below 170 kph - I lived in Toronto at the time, where the speed limit on the fastest roads is 100 kph!

BTW, it seems fairly common in some cars, e.g. Audis, to have a speed warning buzzer. Maybe that's because they can go so damn fast without your realising.

Comment: Re:Pointing out the stark, bleeding obvious... (Score 1) 247

We already are starting to cut CO2 emissions. The installation of wind power is doubling every 1-3 years. Already it's a few percent of total energy per year, imagine how big it will be in ten years. The emissions didn't grow this year, that's probably mostly wind power, next year, emissions will probably start to come down.

So no, I don't necessarily think it will take international commitments, it will take people not blocking wind power. Wind is about the cheapest source of energy there is, that can be very widely deployed, allowing for the negative effects of fossil fuel emissions on human health, and the actual real-world medical costs of that.

Comment: Re: A turd by any other name (Score 1) 317

by Malc (#49281495) Attached to: Microsoft Is Killing Off the Internet Explorer Brand

As I remember, IE6 was actually the first decent version. Unfortunately it stuck around for years, without being updated, and under the eye of hindsight it appears pretty poor. The Netsape products from back then were equally as rubbish, but they were superseded more quickly. Firefox has technically stagnated more than IE ... that team still can't deliver the Electrolysis project, and is now definitely the weakest of the major browsers.

Comment: Re:Your justice system is flawed, too. (Score 1) 1081

by Loki_1929 (#49262729) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century

The problem with your argument is that there's no actual true definition for what's proper and improper. Religious people may think there is but they are wrong.

I think the proper use of capital punishment should be defined as certain massive crimes (like murder, defined by the society as a whole) where we simply have drawn the line as the crime being too terrible (in essence, where we - as a society - have decided that those who do it are inherently beyond redemption) and those cases where rehabilitation (within a system - and we don't have this today in the US - where rehabilitation is available and generally effective) is impossible.

Just because you set children on fire once doesn't have to mean you'll do it again.

Oh that's alright, anyone who's that broken should be first in line for execution. They don't need to set children on fire twice to convince me of that.

Say it were your own children or parent. How is that a danger to someone else?

Perhaps there is some circumstance in which lighting children on fire wouldn't automatically qualify someone for execution, but I don't care to explore all the different circumstances we'd have to in order to find such a case. Suffice it to say that - as a general rule - things like murder and setting children on fire ought to be automatic.

Like say for me here in Sweden. We don't have capital punishment. You consider it proper to kill murders. So say someone had murdered. That set things out for someone to "properly" murder that person. Except it's not allowed by the law. Should that too require the hesitation part BTW? I mean. It was "proper murder"? ..

Read your last part, in the above I mean to kill by will in general. But yeah, I know there's a difference in "mord" and "dråp" here.

There was something more I wanted to say before I read that part. I think it was about differences.

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying here. I consider it a proper use of the state's authority to execute convicted criminals when they execute a convicted murderer. When I'm talking about this, I don't mean an angry father who walks in on his child's molester and beats him to death, nor do I mean someone who falls asleep at the wheel and strikes and kills a pedestrian. I mean someone who knowingly, consciously, willfully makes an effort to maliciously kill another human being without some major mitigating circumstances present. What else are we to do with such a person? A person who robs a liquor store is making a poor choice and hopefully can be rehabilitated such that they won't make similarly poor choices in the future. Someone who has no difficulty taking human life is fundamentally broken in a way we can't comprehend and should simply be removed from society. Prisons are still a part of society inasmuch as members of our society live and worth there.

Comment: Re:HOWTO (Score 1) 1081

by Loki_1929 (#49262563) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century

Which incarceration already accomplishes.

No it doesn't, unless you believe that prison guards, prison staff, and other prisoners who are in the process of being rehabilitated are not part of our society. The expectation with converting all death penalty cases to life in prison is that we're going to take the most violent, dangerous, destructive people in the world, put them all in one place, and expect a segment of society to wait on them hand and foot for the rest of their lives. Anyone wishing to make that happen should sign up for guard duty with those prisoners. Otherwise, hypocrisy.

They aren't "permanently removed from society" just because you, personally, don't have to interact with them on a daily basis. Someone else still does and you're putting their life (in fact, thousands of lives) at risk because of it.

Ethics of death penalty aside, pretending the choice is it or letting murderers walk free is dishonest.

Life in prison without parole is a death sentence; merely by different means. If we can't ever execute anyone because we can't be 100% certain of their guilt, then why is it morally or ethically sound to allow potentially innocent people to rot in prison for the rest of their lives? Or even just for a few decades? There's almost certainly more innocent people who've been rotting in prison for decades than innocent people who've been sent to Death Row. Not just nominally, but due to the higher burden of proof (and endless appeals system) for Death Row prisoners, I would suggest it's a virtual certainty that the rates of innocent people rotting in prison for the rest of their lives is also much higher. Why is that more acceptable than executions?

Does this mean that contract killers should get leniency because, after all, they're not killing people for revenge but as mere business? Especially if they use a clean method - which, as the summary noted, is what "humane" really means in this context?

They're committing murder. The state is not (by the very definition of murder). I would submit that all murderers should qualify for the death penalty. I would extend that out to any other individual who cannot be rehabilitated (assuming an effective means of rehabilitation is in place - which is admittedly not our current prison system).

And keep in mind, this is all merely a thought exercise as it's all predicated upon major, fundamental reforms from the police investigations to the courtroom trials to the prison system. I'm not defending the criminal justice system we have today as it's vastly more flawed than need be and I'm not even defending the use of the death penalty within that system. I seek merely to demonstrate that there is nothing inherently wrong or unjust about the state executing guilty individuals who are truly beyond rehabilitation.

Comment: Re:Please stop. Just stop (Score 1) 1081

by Loki_1929 (#49262485) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century

Does it matter how many? One is already too many, for you killed an innocent man.

One is too many to have die in a prison cell after years or decades of rotting there. The effect is still the same; an innocent man dies at the hands of the state. Based on this, we should release all prisoners because we can't ever be 100% certain any one of them is guilty, yes?

(if this ever happens, I'll be on an airplane beforehand going somewhere far away while the rest of you sort out the consequences)

Essentially that should qualify the governor in question for his own frying chair for he killed someone (by proxy) who had done nothing to deserve this.

That's absurd. The very, very worst case you could make against a governor would be conspiracy to commit involuntary manslaughter, which isn't even defined as a crime anywhere that I'm aware. You could possibly make a case for involuntary manslaughter against the police, prosecutor, and jury, but that's also asinine at best. Further, I don't know of anyone who would support the death penalty for involuntary manslaughter. Finally, the premise itself is absurd. Outside of fraud or negligence, there's no reasonable case to be made at all. Now if the prosecutor withheld critical evidence, I would fully support going after them with the full force of the law. Same for the police and anyone else involved.

Comment: Re: HOWTO (Score 1) 1081

by Loki_1929 (#49262463) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century

Well, I can think of a few differences:

  1. The first case costs the state (taxpayers) significantly more money because of legal bills.
  2. There's more time for the error to be discovered in the second case, which means the wrongfully convicted may not die in a cell.
  3. The blood of innocent isn't on society's collected hands because they didn't deliberately murder an innocent man.

The first is only the case because we have an inefficient system and because we recognize how easily we get convictions wrong (thus a nearly endless appeals process in an attempt to avoid executing an innocent person). Fix the system, streamline the outcomes. The second case is essentially the same as the first. We understand our current system to be less effective at distinguishing guilt from innocence and we understand at least part of that to be due to biases built into the system based on race, money, family, fame, etc.

Executions are never really "fair, equitable, efficient [or] effective". Legals costs make them expensive and inefficient, in America they are predominantly performed on black prisoners which makes them more racist than fair or equitable, and since they are more expensive and have a lower deterrence value than life in prison they are not terribly effective.

None of this an inherent quality to executions; you're merely describing the issues with the system we have today. I don't take issue with that and in fact outlined some of how I would suggest we go about resolving that. Fair, equitable, efficient, effective justice is the goal; not a description of what we have today.

Frankly, all it does is satisfy a very primal urge to see a simplistic punishment applied to the person who we believe has done wrong. There's a conservative part in all of us that wants to see death dealt to those who have wronged us, but unfortunately, that's neither practical, reasonable nor moral.

Now here you're incorrect; not about the primal urges, but about how they apply to state executions. The idea behind the existing system of executions is supposed to be that all emotion is removed and an objective standard is implemented by a society wishing to rid itself of individuals deemed beyond redemption. I would agree that we often fail to meet the ideals of that idea, but that does not mean it need always be that way. With a reformed system that has incorporated all the knowledge of how and why we get arrests and convictions wrong and a reformed prison system that successfully rehabilitates people instead of turning them into more vicious and efficient criminals, we're inevitably left with a group of people who are beyond rehabilitation. They're so fundamentally broken, so destructive to our society, that the best outcome for society as a whole is to remove those individuals permanently from our society (which includes prison guards and prisoners who actually can be rehabilitated). The only way to do so effectively and humanely is execution.

This is all simply an intellectual exercise at this point. I don't expect these reforms to be made in any widespread sense anywhere in the US any time soon (if ever). I'm not defending the existing system's problems. I'm not claiming those problems don't exist. I'm simply demonstrating that there is nothing inherently savage, primal, or unjust about the death penalty itself. Its implementation in our existing system is as flawed as the rest of our existing system, but there is nothing intrinsically flawed in the concept of executing those who are guilty beyond reasonable doubt and beyond rehabilitation.

Comment: Re: HOWTO (Score 1) 1081

by Loki_1929 (#49262393) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century

As I stated, we need significant improvements in our system starting with an overhaul from the police investigations to the courtrooms and everything in between. We should learn from cases where we know we got it wrong so we can avoid making those mistakes again. Once all systemic problems are resolved and actual rehabilitation with measurably positive outcomes are established in the prison system, determine who can be rehabilitated and do so, who is not and execute them.

I'm not expecting these changes to happen today, tomorrow, or in ten years. I'm describing an ideal wherein we would apply evidence and outcome based approaches to doing a righteous justice system where the most expedient and efficient means of meeting the goals of society are employed.

Comment: Re: HOWTO (Score 1) 1081

by Loki_1929 (#49262375) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century

There is no difference in the end result to the individual dying. There is certainly a difference to the guards exposed to a violent predator for potentially decades on end and there is certainly a difference in the overall risk of recidivism while that individual is alive. The point was simply that a sentence of life in prison is effectively the same as a sentence of death in prison from the perspective of the individual who's dying in prison.

Comment: Re: HOWTO (Score 1) 1081

by Loki_1929 (#49260803) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century

Being wrongly convicted and dying in a gas chamber due to organ failure is different from being wrongly convicted and dying in a cell due to organ failure how, exactly?

We should make every effort to ensure no innocent person is wrongfully convicted. We need a lot of reforms throughout our criminal justice systems to make that happen. We should be taking lessons for groups like the Innocence Project to better understand where we're going wrong and improve. We should look at the rules of evidence and how juries deliberate to determine what works well and what has poor outcomes. We should do things like this throughout the process and on a regular basis.

But at the end of the day, we aren't throwing every cell open to let everyone roam free on the off chance that somebody innocent slipped through the cracks. The system should be fair, equitable, efficient, and effective. We should rehabilitate those who can be rehabilitated and execute those who cannot. Keep it simple, efficient, and constantly improving. It will never be perfect. We, as any society, must accept that fact. And whether someone dies in a box of old age or dies in a box by execution, where that person is innocent, we have all failed them. We must make every reasonable effort to avoid that possibility, accept our mistakes, learn from them, and constantly improve. And yes, we're a long way away from any of that today. I welcome an overhaul of our system.

There is no distinction between any AI program and some existent game.