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+ - US Supreme Court affirms legislative prayers are constitutional

Submitted by JakartaDean
JakartaDean (834076) writes "Eugene Volokh, in the Washington Times, says, "The Court is unanimous in its view that, generally speaking, some legislative prayers are constitutionally permissible." Even the dissenters agree that "such a forum need not become a religion-free zone." Apparently the whole thing is based on tradition: "Under Marsh, legislative prayer has a distinctive constitutional warrant by virtue of tradition." Is this really the best the USA can come up with in terms of decision making at the highest level?"

Comment: Re:I wonder (Score 1) 119

by JakartaDean (#46882199) Attached to: Bloomberg's Trading Terminals Now Providing Bitcoin Pricing

Everybody who's against Bitcoin is mad because they didn't mine it in the early days.

I didn't invest in google in the early days either, but I don't hate them.

I hate bitcoin for a number of reason. The few that top the list: 1) I hate the idea of having all of these computers working harder and harder, using more and more energy, and every day there being more miners setting up more computers, all of it in an unproductive pursuit of nothing but wealth. The energy wasted for no real societal gain makes it more socially useless than a marketing department for a law firm.

2) The price varies so wildly, but it's all based off of nothing. At least with stocks, you have company metrics and financials you can at least try to use to figure out where it's going. At least with national currencies, you can look at what the country is doing politically and financially to try and guess where the currency is going. With bithcoin, it's like it's decided by a magic eight ball...there is nothing you can base decisions on other than a random guess.

Here's where we disagree. I don't believe fundamentals influence, in any way, exchange rates. What influences exchange rates is only expectations of future exchange rates. These are regularly very different from past experience. I speak from intense personal experience in Indonesia in 1999, when the rate of the local currency dropped from 2,500 to the dollar to more than 15,000 in a little more than a month.

Stock prices yes, exchange rates no -- they are solely based on subjective impressions of future trends.

Comment: Re:yes, I've used a Professional Engineer. also a (Score 1) 183

by JakartaDean (#46798213) Attached to: The Design Flaw That Almost Wiped Out an NYC Skyscraper

That's actually an interesting engineering ethics issue: Can you, as a licensed software engineer, in good conscience release software under any license with such clauses, without totally violating your responsibilities and duties as an engineer?

Why not? As long as you explicitly note that you are NOT guaranteeing it under your engineering license, and you aren't providing it under conditions where signed-off software would be required, why would it be unethical?

Ethics -- in general, not in the sense of a legislated code of ethics -- requires I stand by any guarantees I make. It doesn't require I always make such guarantees.

Actually, in Canada I believe you can't do what you're proposing, and that is probably true for many other common law countries. You can't turn off your professionalism, because you can't withdraw from the duty of care you owe to your customers (even if you're not paid). This is due to the Hedley-Burne decision

I learned this almost 30 years ago in Engineering school, but I'm reasonably certain it still holds.

+ - Born to RUN: Dartmouth Throwing BASIC a 50th B-Day Party

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Still hanging on to a dog-eared copy of BASIC Computer Games? Back issues of Creative Computing? Well then, Bunky, mark your calendar for April 30th, because Dartmouth College is throwing BASIC a 50th birthday party that you won't want to miss! From the "invite" to BASIC at 50: "At 4 a.m. on May 1, 1964, in the basement of College Hall, Professor John Kemeny and a student programmer simultaneously typed RUN on neighboring terminals. When they both got back correct answers to their simple programs, time-sharing and BASIC were born. Kemeny, who later became Dartmouth's 13th president, Professor Tom Kurtz, and a number of undergraduate students worked together to revolutionize computing with the introduction of time-sharing and the BASIC programming language. Their innovations made computing accessible to all Dartmouth students and faculty, and soon after, to people across the nation and the world [video — young Bill Gates cameo @2:18]. This year, Dartmouth is celebrating 50 years of BASIC with a day of events on Wednesday, April 30. Please join us as we recognize the enduring impact of BASIC, showcase innovation in computing at Dartmouth today, and imagine what the next 50 years may hold." Be sure to check out the vintage photos on Flickr to see what real cloud computing looks like, kids!"

Comment: Sony not Youtube? (Score 3, Interesting) 306

Well, first of all many major copyright holders have special deals with YouTube where they don't actually send DMCA requests. In that case it's just a private agreement between Sony and YouTube on content monitoring, at best you have a slander suit but no basis for a perjury. Secondly, they may have a legal claim to copyright on the whole clip reel as a collection - basically the selection and composition of clips - and that's enough to get them out of the perjury part. In generic terms, "Under penatlity of perjury, we are the copyright holders of movie X. We believe that the posted scene Y is in violation of our copyright on X." Even if that last part is wrong because it's freely licensed or in the public domain or for some other reason not eligible for copyright it's not under perjury. It sucks, but any competent lawyer will manage to wiggle Sony out of any trouble.

The youtube page in fact says: "This video contains content from Sony Pictures Movies & Shows, who has blocked it on copyright grounds."

Assuming they're as careful with their language as I am, that says the Sony, not Youtube, initiated the takedown.

Comment: Why??? (Score 5, Insightful) 232

by JakartaDean (#46627005) Attached to: Judge Overrules Samsung Objection To Jury Instructional Video

Why would she allow a prejudicial video when an alternative, with no products from either side, is available? The entire text of her ruling reads:

Samsung’s objection to Apple’s proposed version of the Federal Judicial Center instructional video (ECF No. 1534) is overruled. The parties shall bring the November 2013 version of the video, “The Patent Process: An Overview for Jurors,” and shall include the handout referenced in the video in the jury binders.

The article apparently originally appeared on Recode.net so better to use primary source (which has the ruling and both videos.

Comment: Re:Not to be too cynical but (Score 1) 49

by JakartaDean (#46618795) Attached to: How Ford's Virtual Reality Lab Helps Engineers

The old Beetles were so light that it was often possible to simply _lift_ or push them out of trouble when they got stuck in snow or mud: they actually floated for a while if they ever landed in water. Lifting them out of trable happened repeatedly when I was much younger and snow plows buried my old car.

I recall many years ago in high school a great prank. An occasional supply teacher we didn't much like drove a Beetle. One day six of us lifted it from the parking lot and placed it between two trees, one touching each bumper. I never learned how he got it out.

Comment: Re:They sold it at cost? (Score 5, Informative) 126

by JakartaDean (#46433153) Attached to: NASA Admits It Gave Jet Fuel Discounts To Google Execs' Company

You have the mentality of a peasant. Whatever the nobles do, it must be OK because they would never take advantage of their position at your expense. They're so much more deserving then you.

Let's use a car analogy: suppose that you buy gas at the same station that Google execs do. They get charged the rate that the gas costs at the refinery, and you pay retail. Their gas is 25% cheaper (made up value) then yours. You have to pay for shipping costs, infrastructure costs for the service station (electricity, upkeep), the salaries of everyone involved between the refinery and the pump, etc. All that stuff has to be paid for to get the gas to the pump, so you are subsidizing their gas.

Except it's not a private company selling the gas, it's government services paid for by your taxes.

+5 Insightful? I could see +5 Vituperative, but your post lacks both insight and manners. Rather than calling him a peasant, why didn't you spend time reading the linked letter and article widely cited above? NASA says, for example, "While we concluded that the fuel arrangement between Ames and H211 did not result in an economic loss to NASA or DLA-Energy..." The cost H211 paid was the fully loaded cost. Go look that up in an management accounting text. There were no government services paid for by anyone's taxes. The price they paid was below market rates -- at the time the deal was signed all fuel was provided by DoD and sold at subsidized price (DoD craft) or fully loaded cost (non-DoD craft, including the H211 craft that NASA sometimes used). Here's a flash for you: sometimes these craft just flew in the air, so they didn't have the option of going to another "gas station" down the road -- Moffet Field was the only game in town for NASA, and was often convenient for H211 folks. Cost recovery is the default option for charges at most airports, and managers are very good at calculating fully loaded costs.

The problem is that H211 was getting a better deal than other craft at other airports in the area, not that the government or taxpayer was losing money. Given how much NASA was saving by having easy access to H211's aircraft, everyone was winning. However, NASA decided it looked bad, so to avoid any allegations of impropriety (like yours), it was in the government's interest to collect market rates and pass the profit on to the Treasury, so they've been doing that since September 2013. Mr. Schmidt's compensation is irrelevant.

Comment: Re:Not a subsidy? (Score 1) 126

by JakartaDean (#46433081) Attached to: NASA Admits It Gave Jet Fuel Discounts To Google Execs' Company

What I find interesting is that NASA knows how much was sold, accepts that the sale was below market value. So my first question is, "why did NASA sell fuel to anyone?" Is NASA a public fuel station for anyone? Have the "Enlighted ones who do not suffer from 'Go Fever' decided that NASA should become a "Profit Center?" What else has NASA sold, at Tax Payer expense?

I would guess that there is a long tradition of people buying fuel on credit from most or all airports. It's not like your car where you can pass one gas station you don't like and go to the next one a mile down the road. You can't take off without a flight plan and enough fuel to get you to your destination plus a reserve. The system would have evolved to allow anyone to buy fuel from the airport they're parked at now -- any other system would be at best inefficient, at worst unsafe.

Comment: Re:Why so many trucks? Why not railroads (Score 1) 242

by JakartaDean (#46394799) Attached to: Walmart Unveils Turbine-Powered WAVE Concept Truck

I'm no friend of trucks, but I wanted to clarify that 80,000 is the typical maximum weight allowed for a semi-truck. That would more likely be a shorter-haul truck moving gravel or other materials instead of less dense cargo like Walmart products. For the long-haul, materials are transported by train.

I'm a friend of trucks -- pretty much everything you have ever bought made its first and last trips by truck. There's no way modern logistics are feasible -- i.e. you don't get to buy stuff -- without trucks.

The weight being carried is a function of the number of axles on the truck. Each axle is good for about 8 tons, so your 80,000 pound load (40 (short) tons) is a 22 wheel tractor-trailer. You do need to balance the weight properly given the location of the axles, but this isn't rocket science.

There is a good reason for having a generally applied and precise limit on weight per axle: the wear and tear on the road is empirically proportional to the weight per axle to the fourth power. Those overloaded trucks or improperly loaded trucks do a lot of damage to the road, much more than you could ever do with a passenger car.

+ - US Secretary of State Calls Climate Change 'Weapon Of Mass Destruction'

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Arshad Mohammed reports on Reuters from Jakarta that US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Indonesians that man-made climate change could threaten their entire way of life, deriding those who doubted the existence of "perhaps the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction" and describing those who do not accept that human activity causes global warming as "shoddy scientists" and "extreme ideologues". "Because of climate change, it's no secret that today Indonesia is ... one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth. It's not an exaggeration to say that the entire way of life that you live and love is at risk," said Kerry. "In a sense, climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction." In Beijing on Friday, Kerry announced that China and the United States had agreed to intensify information-sharing and policy discussions on their plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions after 2020. At home, Kerry faces a politically tricky decision on whether to allow the Keystone XL pipeline after a State Department report played down the impact the Keystone pipeline would have on climate change. However Kerry showed little patience for skeptics in his speech. "We just don't have time to let a few loud interest groups hijack the climate conversation," said Kerry. "I'm talking about big companies that like it the way it is, that don't want to change, and spend a lot of money to keep you and me and everybody from doing what we know we need to do."

+ - Google acquires Israeli security startup SlickLogin->

Submitted by Fnord666
Fnord666 (889225) writes "SlickLogin, an Israeli startup and developer of smart identification technology through user smartphones has been acquired by Google for several million (the official transaction amount remains undisclosed). SlickLogin was founded under a year ago by Or Zelig, Eran Galili and Ori Kabeli. The company first unveiled its technology at TechCrunch Disrupt held last September. the company has yet to launch their product nor have they any customers to date."
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