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Comment: Re: I'm afraid! Please send hugs! (Score 2) 490

My post was intended as flippant, but I do know the full story.

The woman was treated normally by the United flight attendant. Rude service by United is the norm, and excusing it by claims that it is necessary for security par for the course. However, the argument that a young woman armed with a cola could be dangerous was pretty ridiculous. The better airlines provide, not only cans of soda, but even small bottles of wine. I am unaware that these have ever been used for terrorist purposes.

She was upset, posted about it on her Facebook page, and responded to media enquiries when the story went viral. Was there any Islamophobia? I think at least one of the passengers telling her to "shut the f--k up" was probably motivated by an antipathy to Islam. I certainly would not speak that way to any young woman.

You are quite right that the story has been blown out of proportion. That said, many people exhibit a quite irrational fear and hatred of Islam. The vast majority of Muslims are normal folk whose dress code may or may not be old fashioned.

Comment: Re:I'm afraid! Please send hugs! (Score 2) 490

You are right to be concerned. Only Saturday, a young female student on a United flight tried to lay her hands on a can of cola. The flight attendant had been alerted to the danger (no doubt as a result of the Patriot Act provisions) and prevented the woman arming herself, storming the cockpit and flying the plane into the rebuilt World Trade Center. Who will monitor the intentions of these desperate terrorists if the Patriot Act provisions lapse?

Seriously, the administration would prefer the provisions are renewed as it reduces the number of acts they carry out illegally. In reality, however, they will continue doing what they like, as they have been for decades. No prosecution for their illegal actions is possible, because the evidence of wrongdoing is classified for security reasons.

Comment: Couple of observations (Score 1) 43

by Mostly a lurker (#49796259) Attached to: Black Hole Plays Pool With Plasma

In any decent analogy, the black hole ought to be a pocket if playing pool. Perhaps, they should have compared the behavior to one of those billiard games played on tables with no pockets.

My other comment is that BH is a really slow player. I am not particularly speedy myself, but playing since 1992 and not yet finished a single frame ... jeesh!

Comment: Windows for Workgroups (Score 1) 387

by Mostly a lurker (#49756557) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0
I had limited exposure to Windows 3.0 (and 3.1). From a support angle, it was mostly a matter of it worked or it didn't (give or take memory limits). Windows for Workgroups (3.1 and 3.11) on the other hand holds many memories for me, almost all horrendous. To this day, I still do not understand why it would sometimes work Monday and Thursday, but simply refuse to network Tuesday and Wednesday. The hours I spent trying to make that garbage work ...

Comment: Re:Why not just... (Score 1) 384

by Mostly a lurker (#49746069) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Solve a Unique Networking Issue?
Correctly spoken, TCP and UDP are two completely separate transport layers available within the Internet protocol suite. When people talk about TCP/IP, they should be talking about using the TCP transport layer and IP (v4 and/or v6) internet layer. This does not include UDP. Of course, as with most complex technology, the wrong terminology is often used. I am sure you can find references where the "Internet protocol suite" is called "TCP/IP" and all the distinctions between different layers and protocols confusingly blurred. That does not make such terminology technically correct, and it certainly does not promote correct understanding. Wikipedia actually has a superb and very readable description of the Internet protocol suite and all the different components that are currently part of it.

Comment: Probably small static battery powered devices (Score 1) 403

I doubt the ones that immediately occur to me will be the winners. However, there are smoke detectors guaranteed to work for over a decade, and there is a pacemaker with a minimum lifespan of 14 years. Some digital watches are also 10+ years. Tadiran batteries are supposedly good for 40 years in some applications (remote monitoring devices?)

Comment: Re:Sororities (Score 5, Insightful) 257

Why do sororities even exist?

The tribal instinct remains strong. Human beings tend to feel more secure when they can form themselves into groups with whom they identify and that exclude those with whom they do not identify. The "secret rituals" are one of the key ways of reinforcing this feeling of being in a cohesive tribe, protected against intrusion from outside.

Some fairly modern tribes, such as country clubs and gentlemen's clubs, are now legally constrained in their ability to exclude members they feel uncomfortable with. Criminal tribes, like the mafia and yakuza are typically particularly careful about the members they recruit, and have many rituals designed to inspire loyalty and the feeling of exclusivity.

Regardless of type, the instinct we have to form ourselves into tribes remains, long after it outlasted its useful protective purpose in primitive societies.

Comment: Plausible versus implausible threats (Score 1) 254

The article's assumption that the key difference between a Dec 7 and Apr 28 threat is passage of time is simply wrong. Another Virginia Tech shooting is plausible. A single mentally disturbed individual is quite capable of carrying it out. It is rather unlikely that any anonymous poster has a bunch of aircraft carriers handy to launch a new attack on Pearl Harbor.

Comment: Re:"Drama of mental illness" (Score 3, Informative) 353

the rate of youth suicides haven't [sic] gone up

I cannot find a reliable recent source on this. However, older data suggests that the suicide rates for older people has been going down, but there is an uptick in rates for younger people. For instance, see Suicide rates by age from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (based on CDC figures)

Comment: Re:incredulity != evidence (Score 1) 573

by Mostly a lurker (#49310469) Attached to: Greenpeace Co-Founder Declares Himself a Climate Change Skeptic

... anthropogenic global warming is not a grave threat to the planet and that climate change is being used as a scare tactic ...

Sure, in overall terms, global warming is not a grave threat to the planet. It is probably only slightly more dangerous than a catastrophic meteor impact. Apart from some coastal areas, the fundamental shape of the continents will remain pretty much in place. If you do not care that most current animal species (including our own) will not be part of the picture, there is really nothing to worry about.

Comment: Re:Budget Cuts (Score 1) 106

Using the WayBackMacine to archive the site is risky. Recognize that one line added to the robots.txt at any point in the future can render all the content inaccessible (at least) and possibly cause it to be deleted.

I am quite surprised IBM, Microsoft, Google or one of the other big organizations has not picked this up.

Comment: A pessimistic view (Score 5, Insightful) 258

AI is going to be used by those in power (mainly government, security agencies and military) to extend their power further.Unfortunately, humans are genetically programmed to select leaders who aggressively seek to expand the influence of their own group and of themselves. This was an important survival instinct for ancient tribes. It now contains the seeds of our total destruction, and the scientists will be powerless to prevent it.

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." -- Karl, as he stepped behind the computer to reboot it, during a FAT