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Comment: Our Galaxy May Be Teeming with Networking Signals (Score 1) 383

I don't know that there ISN'T a von Neumann probe in our solar system. How would we know? The solar system is huge. The probe could be tiny. Again, how would we know? Have we tried communicating with it? Would it try to communicate with us? Or would it report to a nearby star, first, and await instructions delivered after centuries?

I've heard that the radio emissions from Earth are actually really, really weak, and distribute radially. Nobody can hear us out there.

The entire galaxy could be teeming with life, that's communicating point-to-point. Why waste energy in radial communication, when you can just draw a straight line from star to star?

Sometimes, I think, all we need to do, is point a big powerful laser at a nearby star, and request boot-procedure handshaking instructions, from the nearby access point, and then just wait for the signal that inevitably responds, with instructions on how to maintain the communications link.

+ - Well, if it's a war they want...

Submitted by cpt kangarooski
cpt kangarooski (3773) writes "Information has come to light, thanks to the recent Sony hack, in which MPAA and major studios are colluding as to what legal actions are available to them to compel an entity referred to as 'Goliath,' most likely Google, into taking aggressive anti-piracy action on behalf of the entertainment industry. MPAA and member studios Universal, Sony, Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros., and Disney have had lengthy email discussions concerning how to block pirate sites at the ISP level, and how to take action at the state level to work around the failure of SOPA in 2012. Emails also indicate that they are working with Comcast (which owns Universal) on some form of inspection of traffic to find copyright infringements as they happen. More information at The Verge."

Comment: Re:Creators wishing to control their creations... (Score 1) 268

Copying was a difficult and expensive enough proposition that a natural exclusivity existed even without copyright.

No it didn't. Pirates have never had a technological edge over legitimate publishers. At best there's parity, but usually publishers have an edge over pirates.

If you wanted to pirate a book before the invention of movable type, you could copy it longhand -- just like you'd have to do if you wanted to make an authorized copy.

And people did this all the time. In fact, the only reason that any books (other than those written on clay, stone, or metal) survive from antiquity is because they were copied, the copies were copied, and the copies spread far and wide. Often only one copy survived long enough for more to be made. Paper of various kinds has been in use for a long time, but the oldest paper book is only about 1700 years old.

There was no exclusivity. Some places, like the city of Alexandria, in Egypt, had an official policy that all books that entered the city had to be made available for copying.

The very idea that authors should have exclusive rights in their works is only a few centuries old.

Comment: Re:Creators wishing to control their creations... (Score 1) 268

How many people would publish if no option to have a copyright existed at all?

Well, all the people who published works before 1710 had no copyrights. All the people who published after that, but not in England had no copyrights until various countries slowly adopted copyright (the US picked it up in 1790, the French after that, and most of Europe in the 19th century -- and they only exported it to the rest of the world by means of colonialism, not on its own actual merits).

Plus there were various limits, e.g. the US only granted copyrights to Americans until almost the end of the 19th century; British authors had no option to get an American copyright at all... unless they became American citizens.

More recently, various classes of work were ineligible. For example, architectural works (in practice, buildings) were uncopyrightable in the US until 1990. Were no buildings designed and built in this country until architects were given copyrights?

What I think you're missing here is that there are a plethora of incentives for an author to create and publish a work. Money gained by exploiting a copyright on the work is but one of those incentives, and often is not the most important one, and also often is not an essential one.

I certainly agree that it can be useful, but that doesn't mean that we ought to go hog wild with it; as with many other things, a little might be beneficial, but too much can be harmful.

And what is the point of having a copyright in the first place if the creator isn't supposed to be permitted to try and exercise control over who may copy their works?

The point is to grant authors copyrights as an additional incentive in order to entice them into creating and publishing works which they would not have created and published, but for copyright. If they would've done it anyway, the copyright is superfluous, and granting it would be wasteful. If they require more copyright than is healthy for society, all things considered, we're literally better off not granting it even though it means we'll be bereft of the work in question.

It's not intended to give authors control over works for their own sake. That's just the means by which it functions. It's intended to produce a public benefit. And while the public does benefit from having works created and published, it also benefits from not having anyone controlling works.

Comment: Re:Creators wishing to control their creations... (Score 1) 268

Care to take a guess how many people would willfully publish their stuff if everything that they published had to become public domain?

Well, that's how it operated in the US from 1790 through to the end of 1977. Turns out that relatively few published works were copyrighted. Further, since there was a renewal term (that is, the copyright would be good for an additional number of years if you re-upped in a timely fashion) we also know that most authors of copyrighted works didn't bother to get a renewal, and let their works enter the public domain sooner than they had to.

It worked fine. We got great literature and the golden age of Hollywood on both film and tv, as well as tons of great music.

And frankly, a system of strict formalities to get copyrights is a more important thing to change in the law than shortening the term length.

Comment: Re:Creators wishing to control their creations... (Score 1) 268

Why should the creator not be able to impose any restrictions they damn please?

Why should the rest of us aid them in doing so? E.g. by conferring upon them some sort of legal rights that pertain to how the work is used by others.

While I think it could potentially be beneficial for the public to grant rights to authors, it's surely not always beneficial under every circumstance, and every permutation of works and rights.

And if the author doesn't like the terms under which the public might deign to give them rights, they're free to not create the work.

+ - Comcast Forgets To Delete Revealing Note From Blog Post

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier today, Comcast published a blog post to criticize the newly announced coalition opposing its merger with Time Warner Cable and to cheer about the FCC’s decision to restart the “shot clock” on that deal. But someone at Kabletown is probably getting a stern talking-to right now, after an accidental nugget of honesty made its way into that post. Comcast posted to their corporate blog today about the merger review process, reminding everyone why they think it will be so awesome and pointing to the pro-merger comments that have come in to the FCC. But they also left something else in. Near the end, the blog post reads, “Comcast and Time Warner Cable do not currently compete for customers anywhere in America. That means that if the proposed transaction goes through, consumers will not lose a choice of cable companies. Consumers will not lose a choice of broadband providers. And not a single market will see a reduction in competition. Those are simply the facts.” The first version of the blog post, which was also sent out in an e-mail blast, then continues: “We are still working with a vendor to analyze the FCC spreadsheet but in case it shows that there are any consumers in census blocks that may lose a broadband choice, want to make sure these sentences are more nuanced.” After that strange little note, the blog post carries on in praise of competition, saying, “There is a reason we want to provide our customers with better service, faster speeds, and a diverse choice of programming: we don’t want to lose them.”"

+ - What Does The NSA Think Of Cryptographers? ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk (1801200) writes "A recently declassified NSA house magazine, CryptoLog, reveals some interesting attitudes between the redactions. What is the NSA take on cryptography?
The article of interest is a report of a trip to the 1992 EuroCrypt conference by an NSA cryptographer whose name is redacted.We all get a little bored having to sit though presentations that are off topic, boring or even down right silly but we generally don't write our opinions down. In this case the criticisms are cutting and they reveal a lot about the attitude of the NSA cryptographers. You need to keep in mind as you read that this is intended for the NSA crypto community and as such the writer would have felt at home with what was being written.
Take for example:
Three of the last four sessions were of no value whatever, and indeed there was almost nothing at Eurocrypt to interest us (this is good news!). The scholarship was actually extremely good; it’s just that the directions which external cryptologic researchers have taken are remarkably far from our own lines of interest.
It seems that back in 1992 academic cryptographers were working on things that the NSA didn't consider of any importance. Could things be the same now?
The gulf between the two camps couldn't be better expressed than:
The conference again offered an interesting view into the thought processes of the world’s leading “cryptologists.” It is indeed remarkable how far the Agency has strayed from the True Path.
The ironic comment is clearly suggesting that the NSA is on the "true path" whatever that might be.
Clearly the gap between the NSA and the academic crypto community is probably as wide today with the different approaches to the problem being driven by what each wants to achieve. It is worth reading the rest of the article."

Link to Original Source
Businesses

As Amazon Grows In Seattle, Pay Equity For Women Declines 496

Posted by timothy
from the gee-that's-a-lot-of-cash-on-the-table dept.
reifman writes Amazon's hiring so quickly in Seattle that it's on pace to employ 45,000 people or seven percent of the city. But, 75% of these hires are male. While Seattle women earned 86 cents per dollar earned by men in 2012, today, they make only 78 cents per dollar. In "Amageddon: Seattle's Increasingly Obvious Future", I review these and other surprising facts about Amazon's growing impact on the city: we're the fastest growing — now larger than Boston, we have the fastest rising rents, the fourth worst traffic, we're only twelfth in public transit, we're the fifth whitest and getting whiter, we're experiencing record levels of property crime and the amount of office space under construction has nearly doubled to 3.2 million square feet in the past year.
Government

Sweden Considers Adding "Sexism" Ratings To Video Games 642

Posted by samzenpus
from the including-everyone dept.
An anonymous reader writes A government-funded agency in Sweden is considering creating special labels for video games based on whether or not the games' portrayals of women are sexist. From the article: "Avoiding sexism and gender stereotypes in video games produced in Sweden will become a key goal for the association, which has been given a 272,000 kronor ($36,672) grant by Sweden's government-funded innovation agency, Vinnova. Inspired by the Bechdel test, which looks at whether fictional films or books feature at least two women talking about a topic other than men, Dataspelsbranchen will work with several game developers to analyze how Swedish video games portray female characters and gender issues.
Stats

Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism 350

Posted by timothy
from the believe-the-worst dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: A editorial with 24,000 Facebook shares highlights the differences in public reaction to two nearly identical breastfeeding photos, one showing a black woman and one showing a white woman, each breastfeeding an infant. The editorial decries the outrage provoked by the black woman's photo compared to the mild reaction elicited by the white woman's photo, and attributes the difference to racism. I tried an experiment using Amazon's Mechanical Turk to test that theory. Read on to see the kind of results Bennett found.

Comment: Re:Gendered Bigotry Against Men (Score 1) 834

by LionKimbro (#48362063) Attached to: How To End Online Harassment

I DID read the article. YOU didn't read my valid points. Here is the appropriate bit:

You have been taught that it is normal and acceptable. You have been taught that you are tough, that you don't feel, or that you can "handle their feelings." You have been told that because the bigotry isn't violently expressed, that it doesn't matter, or it can't be labeled and responded to. You have been taught that you are professional, that you are competent, that you can handle yourself. That you are a MAN, so bigotry against you as a man should just roll off your back. You have been taught that OTHER MEN are the problem, and to not take it personally.

So far, all I'm getting is crickets from you, about these "valid points."

One of the myriad ways that our society says, "Them's the shakes, what can you do," is to just get silent and stupid and say, "Yeah... You have a valid point." BUT NOTHING HAPPENS.

Comment: Gendered Bigotry Against Men (Score 1) 834

by LionKimbro (#48360853) Attached to: How To End Online Harassment

The article said this, in large letters:

"Gendered bigotry against women is widely considered to be "in bounds" by Internet commenters (whether they openly acknowledge it or not)."

Why add the phrase "against women?" It's clear from the inclusion of "against women" that the writer doesn't give a shit about gendered bigotry against men.

In my day to day reading of Facebook, I see EVER SINGLE DAY, gendered bigotry against men. I hate it. I hate seeing it. I DEFINITELY don't want boys exposed to this, and I think the only reasonable response for self-respecting men is to hate seeing it as well.

You have been taught that it is normal and acceptable. You have been taught that you are tough, that you don't feel, or that you can "handle their feelings." You have been told that because the bigotry isn't violently expressed, that it doesn't matter, or it can't be labeled and responded to. You have been taught that you are professional, that you are competent, that you can handle yourself. That you are a MAN, so bigotry against you as a man should just roll off your back. You have been taught that OTHER MEN are the problem, and to not take it personally.

Well, FUCK. THAT.

I don't want to be in relationships any longer, where it is considered acceptable to demean men. When one party in a relationship is allowed to constantly criticize and complain about the other party, but not the other way around, in a relationship that was supposed to uphold ideals like equality, respect, and love -- that everything falls apart. I don't want to live in a society that refuses to help men in times of struggle and need, because it holds men in contempt. The entire social apparatus converges in the attack on the character of the other party.

Men, our society gives you FOUR options:
1. You can go ballistic and on the offensive.
2. You can "hold it in," and silently die inside.
3. You can flee.
4. You can turn on other men, and play "Men are evil. But I am not THAT GUY."

Let me tell you about #4: It works great, until YOU are the guy who is breaking down, until YOU are the guy who needs help, from a wife that physically attacks you, until YOU are the guy who is homeless, until YOU are the one who is falsely accused of rape or assault or harassment. And if not YOU, then a friend of yours, or your son.

I want YOU to complain and step up and shove back, when people tell you that you must take shit, just because you're a man, or that men as a group must take shit, just because they are men. When you see gendered bigotry against men, I want you to refuse it, toss it back, say something. Don't just "hold it in," and don't go on the offensive either. Don't run away, and don't deflect onto other men. Rather, stand your ground, and say: NO.

If you see statistics that are lies about men, or insinuating against men -- including pay/wage gap or "1 in 4" that are not true. If you see contempt for men as a class expressed. If you see mothers favored over fathers. If you see violence against men considered "OK." (I'm not talking about video games.) If you see anything implying that it is okay for women to trick a man into paying child support, or tricking a man into being a parent. If you see anything suggesting that paternity fraud is OK. If you see eye rolls expressed about men or the value of mens' feelings. ESPECIALLY the eye rolls, and ESPECIALLY men's feelings. If you see "man up" or "be a gentlemen" used to control men. If you see anything making light of people attacking men physically (non-consensually). When you see ANY OF THESE BEHAVIORS, you tell people that it is UNACCEPTABLE.

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan

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