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Comment: Re:H1B applicants are people too (Score 1) 184

by KermodeBear (#48271253) Attached to: Labor Department To Destroy H-1B Records

I could be totally wrong, but I'm going to guess that the paper applications have no real value; the real data is stored in a database file. It's easy to remove personally identifiable fields from the tables and leave the non-personal data for analysis. Shred the paper, anonymize the digital data, keep it around and release it to the public perhaps.

That kind of data could be very useful in some kind of complex economic modelling software, or perhaps the data over time can use used as an economic or some other indicator, or perhaps an unusual change in the normal pattern could indicate something. I don't know what the actual data is specifically, but if it is stripped of personally identifiable bits then I'm sure someone would find it very valuable. Given how easy it should be to provide, why not?

Comment: Re:US Citizenship (Score 4, Insightful) 184

by KermodeBear (#48268621) Attached to: Labor Department To Destroy H-1B Records

Because Americans are no longer educated about their government or their history, and as long as they can catch the latest episode of Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo they really don't care about what is happening. Those of us who DO care and pay attention are in the extreme minority. No matter how loudly we shout about the problems we're racing into, the rest of America looks at as like we're some crazy conspiracy theorists.

It doesn't help that many of the large news outlets are government sycophants, refusing to carry news that may damage the current administration. Note that this behavior is not limited to CBS or our current administration. They're all corrupt to some degree.

But yeah, nobody gives a shit, give them some Soma, all is well. Aldous Huxly was right.

Earth

Imagining the Future History of Climate Change 467

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
HughPickens.com writes "The NYT reports that Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at Harvard University, is attracting wide notice these days for a work of science fiction called "The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future," that takes the point of view of a historian in 2393 explaining how "the Great Collapse of 2093" occurred. "Without spoiling the story," Oreskes said in an interview, "I can tell you that a lot of what happens — floods, droughts, mass migrations, the end of humanity in Africa and Australia — is the result of inaction to very clear warnings" about climate change caused by humans." Dramatizing the science in ways traditional nonfiction cannot, the book reasserts the importance of scientists and the work they do and reveals the self-serving interests of the so called "carbon combustion complex" that have turned the practice of science into political fodder.

Oreskes argues that scientists failed us, and in a very particular way: They failed us by being too conservative. Scientists today know full well that the "95 percent confidence limit" is merely a convention, not a law of the universe. Nonetheless, this convention, the historian suggests, leads scientists to be far too cautious, far too easily disrupted by the doubt-mongering of denialists, and far too unwilling to shout from the rooftops what they all knew was happening. "Western scientists built an intellectual culture based on the premise that it was worse to fool oneself into believing in something that did not exist than not to believe in something that did."

Why target scientists in particular in this book? Simply because a distant future historian would target scientists too, says Oreskes. "If you think about historians who write about the collapse of the Roman Empire, or the collapse of the Mayans or the Incans, it's always about trying to understand all of the factors that contributed," Oreskes says. "So we felt that we had to say something about scientists.""

Comment: Re:Meaning (Score 1) 140

by KermodeBear (#48263797) Attached to: Verizon Launches Tech News Site That Bans Stories On US Spying

Unfortunately I see far less fear mongering and fraudulent reporting on Fox than I do on MSNBC or CBS. I'm not saying that any of those networks are great - they're not - but when Canada allows Al-Jazeera and declines to carry Fox, one does start to wonder if the real issue is reporting and not simply politics.

Comment: Re:Then how is Earth 6000 years old? (Score 1) 653

by KermodeBear (#48261223) Attached to: Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

That depends on if you're someone who takes every word literally (which is very precarious once you learn about the evolution of Biblical texts) or someone who is happy to take a large part of the Bible as metaphor. As an example, the beginning of Genesis famously states that the world took 6 days to create and that the 7th day was rest.

Only the most literal of readers would believe that it took six actual days; something that isn't even possible, since a "day" is a full revolution of the earth, and that wasn't even created on the first "day". It's metaphor, trying to explain how the world was created in stages.

Once can view the Garden of Eden story as metaphor as well, how the human psyche moved from an animal state of innocence (unable to comprehend advanced concepts like shame, guilt, etc.) and to a state where it can comprehend more complex ideas.

Then there's all of those laws; a lot of them pertain to sanitation so that you don't get sick or spread illness. When the Plague was ravaging Europe, the Jewish people had a much lower infection rate because they followed these rules.

Some parts of the Bible are pretty interesting and insightful, and even if it gets some things wrong in a scientific sense - especially if taken literally - some things may not be quite as wrong as a lot of people think.

I say this as a Pagan-ish type, by the way; I have no personal reason to put parts of the Bible in a positive light.

Once must also take into consideration that the people who put forth those ideas were doing the best they could with the knowledge they had. I'm sure that in 500 years people will look back at us and say, "Wow, those guys sure were dumb, why didn't they see X, Y, and Z for what it really was?"

One book that does provide a very good treatment of where science and religion overlap is The Universe in a Single Atom by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. One of the core concepts of the book is what I described above; old religious texts were written a long time ago and those people didn't know all of the things we do now. He promotes science as a good thing, and says that if science can prove that a certain religious law, theory, philosophical point, etc., can be proven wrong by science, then it is the religion that should change.

He also talks about how science and religion exist to answer fundamentally different questions. Science tells us "how" something happens, but religion helps us answer what it means in a philosophical sense.

It's an excellent book and well worth reading by religious, non-religious, science, and non-science alike.

Education

Tech Giants Donate $750 Million In Goods and Services To Underprivileged Schools 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
mrspoonsi sends news that a group of major tech companies has combined to donate $750 million worth of gadgets and services to students in 114 schools across the U.S. Apple is sending out $100 million worth of iPads, MacBooks, and other products. O'Reilly Media is making $100 million worth of educational content available for free. Microsoft and Autodesk are discounting software, while Sprint and AT&T are offering free wireless service. This is part of the ConnectED Initiative, a project announced by the Obama Administration last year to bring modern technology to K-12 classrooms. The FCC has also earmarked $2 billion to improve internet connectivity in schools and libraries over the next two years. Obama also plans to seek funding for training teachers to utilize this infusion of technology.

Comment: Re:A Serious Deficit, You Say? (Score 1) 324

by KermodeBear (#48205357) Attached to: Hungary To Tax Internet Traffic

When the government wastes money on ridiculous studies then they obviously have enough for the important things. Asking for more money is inappropriate and they shouldn't have it.

I think we can both agree on that. If you think federal money being spent on rabbit massages is a great idea, well, I don't know what to tell you other than you are part of the problem.

You also say that it's a drop in the bucket. Does that change the fact that it is a complete waste? Big or small, it is a sign that there is plenty of money for the important programs.

As an analogy, with your thinking, I could go to the extreme and say, "beating someone up isn't as big a deal as violent rape or murder, so we'll just let people get beat up." It's the same concept and also ridiculous. It's all wrong, and we should stop beatings along with rape and murder, yes?

But since you bring up the topic, what would I like to cut?

I'd be happy to cut the defense budget. I'm not convinced that we really need military bases scattered throughout the world, for example. We see articles here on Slashdot on a fairly regular basis about military boondoggles that cost many billions of dollars - so maybe we need stricter controls on military contracts.

Health care? Sure, I'm willing to make some cuts there. The problem is that we shouldn't have to, but unfortunately we're so far in debt that we're left with little other choice. So we'll have to make cuts there too.

What about welfare? If you have a cell phone, a car, a television with cable, you are not poor. America has the wealthiest "poor" in the world. Welfare should provide, truly, the bare minimum to get by. Keep the heat and lights on, some food in your belly, that's it. I'm not the biggest Clinton fan, but his changes to our welfare programs made a big difference. We should do more along those lines.

Ideally, the entitlement programs in general should not be in the federal purview. It should be a state issue. Same with education. Same with a lot of things.

Not all things that I want to cut, but out of necessity, something has to get the axe. So it might as well be a little bit of everything. No sacred cows.

Have you seen what happens when a government is so deeply in debt that all it can do is print stacks of cash and dive into hyper inflation? It's not pretty. We're headed down that road. Not tomorrow, not next year, but that's where we are going.

That was the brilliance of a limited federal government, by the way. If a state screwed up and made a mess of things, people could vote with their feet and go somewhere else until the legislature woke up and fixed their issues. If another state did something brilliant the others could follow suit. A marketplace of ideas, if you will.

With a single entity in charge of nearly everything these days, well, you're stuck. The feds make a bad policy decision and it affects everyone, and there's very little recourse for the individual.

But since you're here saying, "Well, that program doesn't matter because it was just a little waste," you're probably going to just gloss over all of this and slap up yet another tired progressive meme. Oh well.

Comment: A Serious Deficit, You Say? (Score 2) 324

by KermodeBear (#48203339) Attached to: Hungary To Tax Internet Traffic

Yes, adding yet another tax is one way to help that, but why do governments worldwide - mine included - never consider the possibility that they're spending too much money? When our government is spending money on swedish massages for rabbits and then whining that they don't have enough cash to toss around, I am completely uninterested in giving them a single penny more.

Build

The Bogus Batoid Submarine is Wooden, not Yellow (Video) 44

Posted by Roblimo
from the some-people-build-ornithopters-and-some-build-machines-that-flap-their-wings-underwater dept.
This is a "wet" submarine. It doesn't try to keep water out. You wear SCUBA gear while pedaling it. And yes, it is powered by a person pushing pedals. That motion, through a drive train, makes manta-style wings flap. This explains the name, since rays are Batoids, and this sub is a fake Batoid, not a real one. It's a beautiful piece of work, and Martin Plazyk is obviously proud to show it off. He and his father, Bruce, operate as Faux Fish Technologies. Follow that link and you'll see many photos, along with a nice selection of videos showing their creations not just in static above-water displays, but in their natural (underwater) element. Meanwhile, here on Slashdot, Martin tells how Faux Fish subs are made. (Alternate Video Link)
Japan

3D-Printed Gun Earns Man Two Years In Japanese Prison 331

Posted by Soulskill
from the forgot-to-read-the-fine-3d-print dept.
jfruh writes: Japan has some of the strictest anti-gun laws in the world, and the authorities there aim to make sure new technologies don't open any loopholes. 28-year-old engineer Yoshitomo Imura has been sentenced to two years in jail after making guns with a 3D printer in his home in Kawasaki.
Transportation

Michigan About To Ban Tesla Sales 294

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-in-my-neighborhood dept.
cartechboy writes It's a story we've come to see quite often: a state trying to ban Tesla's direct sales model. It seems something sneaky just happened in Michigan where Tesla sales are about to be banned. Bill HB 5606 originally intended to offer added protection to franchised dealers and consumers from price gouging by carmakers, and was passed by the Michigan House in September without any anti-Tesla language. However, once it hit the Senate wording was changed that might imply the legality of a manufacturer-owned dealership was removed. The modified bill was passed unanimously by the Senate on October 2, and then sent back to the House that day where it passed with only a single dissenting vote. The bill was modified without any opportunity for public comment. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has less than a week to sign the bill into law. Of course, Tesla's already fighting this legislation.
Businesses

Lego Ends Shell Partnership Under Greenpeace Pressure 252

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-see-other-people dept.
jones_supa writes Since 1960s, we have been seeing the oil company Shell logo being featured in some Lego sets, and Legos being distributed at petrol stations in 26 countries. This marketing partnership is coming to an end, after coming under sustained pressure from Greenpeace. The environmental campaign, protesting about the oil giant's plans to drill in the Arctic, came with a YouTube video that depicted pristine Arctic, built from 120 kg of Lego, being covered in oil. CEO of Lego, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, wants to leave the dispute between Greenpeace and Shell, and the toy company is getting out of the way.
NASA

How President Nixon Saved/Wrecked the American Space Program 125

Posted by Soulskill
from the only-nixon-could-go-to-luna dept.
MarkWhittington writes John Callahan posted an accountof a talk given by space historian John Logsdon on the Planetary Society blog in which he described how President Richard Nixon changed space policy. The talk covered the subject of an upcoming book, After Apollo: Richard Nixon and the American Space Program. Logsdon argued that Nixon had a far more lasting effect on NASA and the American space program than did President Kennedy, most famous for starting the Apollo project that landed men on the moon.

Nixon came to office just in time to preside over the Apollo 11 lunar mission. At that time, the space program was a national priority due to the Kennedy goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. However by the time Neil Armstrong made that first footstep, public support for large-scale space projects had diminished. Nixon, therefore, made a number of policy decisions that redound to this very day.

Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself. -- A.H. Weiler

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