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Comment: Re:Other than the obligatory security theatre... (Score 1) 106

No, he's referencing the idea that authorities would rather shoot the plane down than let it crash into something important.

Which rises a question of whether it's possible to prepare specifically for this sort of thing. For example, could one have a missile/chaff specifically designed to choke a jet non-explosively and use towing cables to drag the plane somewhere it could be allowed to glide down? That would give the passengers maximum chances of survival while protecting ground population.

New threats call for new methods of dealing with them.

Comment: Re:nVidia Consumer Card (Score 2) 90

by ultranova (#48899567) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: GPU of Choice For OpenCL On Linux?

Get back under your bridge... troll.

Thank you for your well-reasoned analysis of the problems with binary-only drivers on Linux, and why my misgivings about them arenot only unfounded but must be a case of arguing in bad faith. Your contribution to the discussion has enlightened us and enhanced the human condition.

Comment: Re:Social Networking is a mess (Score 1) 104

by ultranova (#48897909) Attached to: Twitter Moves To Curb Instagram Links

with width and height specified (via CSS, of course)

...Why? Width and height of an image are functions of its content and have nothing to do with style. What do you gain by specifying them separately from the IMG tag itself, apart from more complexity (and probably slower page loads due to the need to download and parse more CSS)?

Comment: Re:I have an even better idea (Score 1) 285

by ultranova (#48897833) Attached to: Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

Children, people banned for the more serious traffic offences, the blind and poor sighted, and older people who fail the driving re-test they must take periodically. How they get around is their own problem.

How children get around is usually their parent's problem, actually. And it quickly becomes my problem if the group who cannot drive becomes large, since that means they cannot get to work. Guess who's going to pay for either their upkeep or the security force needed to keep them from rioting?

I understand it's fashionable to display a near-sociopathic lack of empathy nowadays, but it can very quickly cross over into sheer stupidity, and usually does.

One solution is not to live somewhere they can only reach by driving a car. I live in a remote area and I accept that one day, when I get old, I might have to move into a city.

Choosing where you live requires resources, which requires income, which in practice requires being able to drive or hire someone who can. Which gets us back to large amounts of people being prevented from driving very quickly becoming my problem.

Comment: Re:Oh yay, more about the bullshit clock (Score 5, Interesting) 184

by ultranova (#48897653) Attached to: Doomsday Clock Moved Two Minutes Forward, To 23:57

You know, when something says that we are so close to destruction for over half a century... well you have to wonder why anyone would put any stock in it. It is a bit hard to reconcile with being on the edge of destruction, and yet everything continuing to not be destroyed.

Did you know the most dangerous drivers are not those who have just gotten their license, but those who have had a bit of experience? The reason is that new drivers are all too aware that they're one bad decision away from being gruesomely killed, while those who have driven for a while let their guard down because "nothing's happened so far, so nothing ever will".

This is true for dangerous acitvities in general. Someone who's handling boiling acid for the first time will make damn sure to think what they're doing. Someone who's done it a hundred times is busy thinking what they'll be having for lunch. And then acid gets somewhere it shouldn't, and suddenly things get very exciting again.

We haven't been destroyed because we've been very lucky. During Cuban missile crisis American ships actually dropped depth charges on a nuke-carrying Russian submarine. The captain and the political officer were all for launching it in retaliation, but the idea was vetoed by Vasili Arkhipov. And it's not the only time humanity's fate has hung on the decisions of a single person.

And of course this is all ignoring the possibilities of, say, biological warfare advancing technology is bringing to within reach of even non-state actors. You may not have noticed, but some of these actors are nowhere near as rational nor benevolent as the Soviet Russia of old.

Finally, the dawning of the Information Age is challenging whole new facets of human capacity for evil. Hypocrisy is quickly becoming impossible as privacy continues to erode. At the same time, anonymity serves to strip away pretensions of civility and expose the grinning skull beneath all too many faces. With Industrial Age, the choice was "cease warring or die"; with Information Age it's "stop being hypocrites or have your souls crushed". Given that it took two world wars to get humanity to the point where we had any chance to survive harnessing the power of the atom, I shudder to think what it'll take to prepare us for omnipresent computation.

We're running a gauntlet, a purgatory forcing us to choose between our shadow or increasing amounts of pain. Every aspect of our existence is being confronted by its shortcomings like never before, for there are no more second chances. Humanity will either demonstrate it has mastered its dark side before it will master nature and reach the stars, or it will send itself to oblivion so more worthy beings might inherit them instead. It's not two minutes to midnight, it's Judgement Day.

Comment: Re:Poor Alan Kay (Score 1) 145

by ultranova (#48897431) Attached to: Bjarne Stroustrup Awarded 2015 Dahl-Nygaard Prize

for backwards compatibility with C (IMO Vala does better -- YMMV)

If this is a priority, why not just use C?

But it does a reasonable job of "good enough" on all three fronts, and that is what has made it so enduringly popular over the last few decades.

Or, more cynically, it's simple enough to pick up basics fast yet has enough complexity to take years to master and an endless amount of obscure gotchas for true gurus to demonstrate their superiority. In other words, once it got adopted it helped establish a pecking order of programmers, who then have every incentive to keep it popular to protect their investment and the resulting status.

There is no field of human activity where psychology didn't rule supreme.

Comment: Re:Simple solution (Score 4, Interesting) 389

by Mr. Slippery (#48895471) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Can You Get a Good 3-Button Mouse Today?

Are there any valuable functions mapped to a middle button anyway, that make it so important?

Yes. For people who use real computers, middle button = "paste selected text".

Who puts three fingers on the surface of a mouse?

People who use real computers but have not yet found the one true pointing device, the 4-button Logitech Marble Mouse Trackball.

Comment: Re:I have an even better idea (Score 1) 285

by ultranova (#48894449) Attached to: Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

You don't have a right to be able to afford anything. At least in any society beyond pure communism - which has never existed in groups of more than say, 100.

That is untrue. For example, food stamps are all about ensuring everyone can afford food.

Also, Cold War is over and you won. Congratulations. However, it also means that the Red Scare is no longer an effective rhetoric. Get over it already.

Comment: Re:I have an even better idea (Score -1) 285

by ultranova (#48894351) Attached to: Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

Driving isn't a right, it's a privilege.

No, it's not. Like the parent said, it's a necessity. Banning people from doing whatever they must to survive is neither effective nor reasonable. All you get is yet another class of outlaws. Who'll be driving the cheapest, most dangerous cars they can find, should "automatic impoundment" actually become a rule.

I've paid for that privilege my entire adult life, maintaining my registration, my insurance, and my license despite having no at-fault accidents. I expect others to do the same.

But they won't. You can punish them or try to minimize the damage caused by them, but not both. Such is life.

Comment: Re:Popcorn time! (Score 0) 359

by Mr. Slippery (#48892573) Attached to: Behind the MOOC Harassment Charges That Stunned MIT

I've heard claims that one in four women will be raped at some point in their lives, and have yet to hear any sort of data-based rebuttal.

Really? You heard such an extraordinary claim, but apparently made zero effort to look into its validity?

Here you go. And here. And here.

Essentially, that inflated number is based on questionable surveys which often fail to distinguish between a regrettable drunken hookup and rape, and is not just about rape but about behavior ranging from grabbing a woman's butt on up through attempted rape and actual rape. (Yes, grabbing someone's butt is bad. It's assault. It's unacceptable. It is not, however, rape.)

Is rape much more common than most people think? Yes. The data is murky but I would be surprised if the lifetime victimization rate for women was less than 5%, 1 in 20. Is it 25%, "eeny-meeny-miney-RAPE!" common? No.

And a teacher sending a student sexy messages over the internet is certainly a breach of professional conduct...but it's not rape.

Heard that the next Space Shuttle is supposed to carry several Guernsey cows? It's gonna be the herd shot 'round the world.