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Comment Re:vague handwaving (Score 2) 37

There are plenty of infectious agents that we don't have treatments against, so why would anybody go through the trouble of modifying bubonic plague, instead of just picking one of those? Why bubonic plague, an organism that is transmitted by fleas?

A. because it sounds scary, most people know something about the Black Death.

B. because of plausible deniability, it is widespread in the environment and might mutate on its own.

C. because of limited scope and speed of spread (flea vector), what's the point in killing _everyone_ when you can just kill mostly your enemies?

And why haven't terrorists used biological weapons successfully before if there is such a risk from them?

Are you sure they haven't?

Comment Re:1976 Copyright Act (Score 4, Informative) 167

I think on the timeline of: A - Copyrighted, B - Copyright expired, C - Copyright extended by new law, violations of copyright between B and C are protected by ex post facto considerations, but copyright violations after time C are in violation of the law passed at that time, and therefore no longer ex post facto.

Comment Re:Promotion of the useful arts (Score 2) 167

On a less sarcastic note, I think that perpetual copyright can be a very good thing. Start with "free" copyright for 15 or 20 years, but then, if a work is profitable at that time, charge a nominal fee to extend the copyright for another 5 years - so, if something were written and copyrighted in 1995, it would be protected to say 2015, and if you're still making money on it - register an extension on the copyright, for a fee. You're making money on the work, obviously it's worth it. For works that aren't profitable, they become public domain within a reasonable time frame.

So, to get to perpetual copyright and true value to society, every additional 5 year extension costs 5x as much as the one before it. $1000 for years 20-25, $5000 more to get to 30, $25,000 more to get to 35, $125,000 to get to 40, etc. If a work is still profitable at 70 years post-authorship, surely the benefactors should be sharing a significant portion ($2B) of the profits back to the society that protects their copyright?

Comment Re:Gas (Score 2) 59

I'd say that Saudi Arabia doesn't much care whether or not shale gets shut down, they can produce oil for less so they are doing that to gain market share. They don't value the oil in the ground and they don't value the distant (beyond 2040) future, so they're looking to maximize their income today. Any hardship on other oil producers, the ecology, or the future is incidental - of no concern to the decision makers who will be long dead when those imagined problems might happen.

Comment Re:Uh... let me think about it (Score 1) 571

Absolutely, and keep some awareness while the GPS catches reflections off of trees and tall buildings and tells you to take stupid turns. If you are on Highway 1 and you get a spontaneous request to "turn right onto Highway 1" - obviously, you just ignore that one.

I think GPS is great for "first time" travel, especially into complex situations like downtown areas. But, if you aren't doing the mental navigation work while listening for the GPS prompts, then, yeah, you're setting yourself up.

So, back in the old days, we'd pull "MapQuest" maps to go places and once in awhile get directions to a State Park that took a bunch of little turns before "entering" and then put you on something like "Hog wallow trail..." we used to follow those just for fun, but it was pretty obvious that they weren't our final destination.

Comment Re:VCs who miss the point of open source... (Score 1) 93

I have worked with two "principles" who got tens of millions in VC investment, both of them were ~40 years old, in good health and of youthful appearance when it happened. Five years after "round A" both of them looked ~60 years old and had some serious tales of woe. One got a multi-million payoff after about 10 years, the other got a check for $0.01, but the personal costs of the VC money were equally high for both.

Comment Re:VCs who miss the point of open source... (Score 1) 93

What I read in the article seemed to be a case of not knowing the specifics of the companies being named, but rather attributing generalities to them. Of course, the article is correct in the specifics regarding what the Apache organization is, how RedHat operates, etc. But... at some point in the past, there have been business models selling Apache support - nothing that's going to generate an attractive 100:1 ROI, so that's why the VCs yawn. Also, they speak of open source models which allow authors to retain control over derivative works, and while OSI is strictly against this, there are other models (like Creative Commons variants) that do specify this.

So, what I see is VCs who have "a little knowledge" spouting it in association with oblique references to specific companies and models that don't really match up at all, but it's all "that open source stuff" to them... People getting pedantic with deep knowledge and concrete specifics need to understand that VCs take your areas of interest a lot less seriously than you do. Just because they control hundreds of millions of investment dollars doesn't make them super-human, and in-fact that concern of the big money in some ways reduces their capacity to understand and even care about other issues.

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