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Journal: Can Capitalism and Democracy Co-Exist? 1

Journal by PopeRatzo

I'm going to say that no, finance-driven capitalism like we see in the US and UK cannot exist is inherently anti-democratic. Industrial driven capitalism has a better chance.

User Journal

Journal: Not a Racist Country? Really? 23

Journal by PopeRatzo

A black man is gunned down by police for handling a toy gun in a Walmart. A gun that Walmart was selling.

But this white guy can carry a real, loaded rifle (and body armor) in front of a school, refuses to show ID to police and nothing happens.

Open Carry laws are clearly meant just for white people. Laws that only apply to one race are the definition of racist.

User Journal

Journal: More Than Enough - Comcast declares war on Tor 31

Journal by PopeRatzo

If you haven't dumped Comcast yet, you better hurry:

Reports have surfaced (Via /r/darknetmarkets and another one submitted to us) that Comcast agents have contacted customers using Tor and instructed them to stop using the browser or risk termination of service. A Comcast agent named Jeremy allegedly called Tor an âoeillegal service.â The Comcast agent told its customer that such activity is against usage policies.
The Comcast agent then repeatedly asked the customer to tell him what sites he was accessing on the Tor browser. The customer refused to answer.
The next day the customer called Comcast and spoke to another agent named Kelly who reiterated that Comcast does not want its customers using Tor. The Comcast agent then allegedly told the customer:

"Users who try to use anonymity, or cover themselves up on the internet, are usually doing things that arenâ(TM)t so-to-speak legal. We have the right to terminate, fine, or suspend your account at anytime due to you violating the rules. Do you have any other questions? Thank you for contacting Comcast, have a great day."

User Journal

Journal: Continuation on education 13

Journal by jd

Ok, I need to expand a bit on my excessively long post on education some time back.

The first thing I am going to clarify is streaming. This is not merely distinction by speed, which is the normal (and therefore wrong) approach. You have to distinguish by the nature of the flows. In practice, this means distinguishing by creativity (since creative people learn differently than uncreative people).

It is also not sufficient to divide by fast/medium/slow. The idea is that differences in mind create turbulence (a very useful thing to have in contexts other than the classroom). For speed, this is easy - normal +/- 0.25 standard deviations for the central band (ie: everyone essentially average), plus two additional bands on either side, making five in total.

Classes should hold around 10 students, so you have lots of different classes for average, fewer for the band's either side, and perhaps only one for the outer bands. This solves a lot of timetabling issues, as classes in the same band are going to be interchangeable as far as subject matter is concerned. (This means you can weave in and out of the creative streams as needed.)

Creativity can be ranked, but not quantified. I'd simply create three pools of students, with the most creative in one pool and the least in a second. It's about the best you can do. The size of the pools? Well, you can't obtain zero gradient, and variations in thinking style can be very useful in the classroom. 50% in the middle group, 25% in each of the outliers.

So you've 15 different streams in total. Assume creativity and speed are normally distributed and that the outermost speed streams contain one class of 10 each. Start with speed for simplicity I'll forgo the calculations and guess that the upper/lower middle bands would then have nine classes of 10 each and that the central band will hold 180 classes of 10.

That means you've 2000 students, of whom the assumption is 1000 are averagely creative, 500 are exceptional and 500 are, well, not really. Ok, because creativity and speed are independent variables, we have to have more classes in the outermost band - in fact, we'd need four of them, which means we have to go to 8000 students.

These students get placed in one of 808 possible classes per subject per year. Yes, 808 distinct classes. Assuming 6 teaching hours per day x 5 days, making 30 available hours, which means you can have no fewer than 27 simultaneous classes per year. That's 513 classrooms in total, fully occupied in every timeslot, and we're looking at just one subject. Assuming 8 subjects per year on average, that goes up to 4104. Rooms need maintenance and you also need spares in case of problems. So, triple it, giving 12312 rooms required. We're now looking at serious real estate, but there are larger schools than that today. This isn't impossible.

The 8000 students is per year, as noted earlier. And since years won't align, you're going to need to go from first year of pre/playschool to final year of an undergraduate degree. That's a whole lotta years. 19 of them, including industrial placement. 152,000 students in total. About a quarter of the total student population in the Greater Manchester area.

The design would be a nightmare with a layout from hell to minimize conflict due to intellectual peers not always being age peers, and neither necessarily being perceptual peers, and yet the layout also has to minimize the distance walked. Due to the lack of wormholes and non-simply-connected topologies, this isn't trivial. A person at one extreme corner of the two dimensional spectrum in one subject might be at the other extreme corner in another. From each class, there will be 15 vectors to the next one.

But you can't minimize per journey. Because there will be multiple interchangeable classes, each of which will produce 15 further vectors, you have to minimize per day, per student. Certain changes impact other vectors, certain vector values will be impossible, and so on. Multivariable systems with permutation constraints. That is hellish optimization, but it is possible.

It might actually be necessary to make the university a full research/teaching university of the sort found a lot in England. There is no possible way such a school could finance itself off fees, but research/development, publishing and other long-term income might help. Ideally, the productivity would pay for the school. The bigger multinationals post profits in excess of 2 billion a year, which is how much this school would cost.

Pumping all the profits into a school in the hope that the 10 uber creative geniuses you produce each year, every year, can produce enough new products and enough new patents to guarantee the system can be sustained... It would be a huge gamble, it would probably fail, but what a wild ride it would be!

User Journal

Journal: Keystone XL Pipeline Will Raise Gas Prices for US Consumers

Journal by PopeRatzo

Unintended consequences:

There is no shortage of available crude oil, domestic or imported, in the
United States, and for the last few years there has been a glut at the nationâ(TM)s
largest crude oil terminal in Cushing, Oklahoma. Canadian tar sands oil
would be processed for greater use in the U.S. only as other imported or domestic
sources are reduced. Replacing Mexican oil with Canadian oil would
only trade the closer source for the more distant.

User Journal

Journal: Energy Industry Under Attack from Green Terrorists 5

Journal by PopeRatzo

"Just the other day, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers said, 'If the cost of solar panels keeps coming down, installation costs come down and if they combine solar with battery technology and a power management system, then we have someone just using [the grid] for backup.' What happens if a whole bunch of customers start generating their own power and using the grid merely as backup? The EEI report warns of 'irreparable damages to revenues and growth prospects' of utilities."

Solar Panels Could Destroy U.S. Utilities


Journal: The End of Ubuntu 4

Journal by ObsessiveMathsFreak

I have just upgraded my machine from Ubuntu 11.04 to 11.10 and everything is broken.


It began with Unity. The horror. If there's a way of finding the main menu, I wasn't able to discover it. Menu bars have entirely disappeared from applications, to be replaced with the mac "menu on top" paradigm, a.k.a. one of the main reasons I've never used a Mac since 1994. You can't even log out of the bloody interface, let alone tweak it. Even the fonts are terrible.

It took me about 15 minutes to figure out how to get rid of Unity and replace it with Gnome 3 and I can't say there's really much of a difference in terms of usability. All of my default Gnome 2 desktop settings have been blown out of the water. Completely. My panels and taskbars and lauchers are either deleted or are all over the place. Even if I wanted to change them back, everything is basically uncustomisable as far as I can tell. You can't move objects around in the taskbars. Yes that's right. You can't move objects around in the taskbars.

Is this what a desktop is supposed to feel like?

I feel like my computer window has been turned into a walled garden, like that on an iDink, which I am permitted to carress and fawn over, but have disallowed from making my own in any way. Will I have to download some kind of "App" from the "Ubuntu App Store" to gain back basic functionality? Do I have to dive into arcane settings and ppa just to get back the system which I had and liked only a few hours ago? Do I have to give up and choose Gnome 3, or move to XFCE, or move everything to the shell, or basically waste the next two weeks getting back what I had?

If that's the price of Ubuntu (and it is) then I am leaving.

Ubuntu and Gnome died the moment they allowed the UI designers to take over. The art students, the inveiglers, the smooth talkers, the wild eyed dreamers, the "visionaries", the people who didn't care what they were doing as long as it made them feel talented and superior. These are the people who have designed unusable,confusing systems and interfaces that delete years of carefully customised menus and discourage serious use of computers.

And as for the "boring" people, the programmers, the testers, the package maintainers, the people who listen to the community, those who put real thought and concern for users into their themes and interfaces, the people who don't go to conferences, who communicate with users directly via forum and newsgroup, who sit at their desks working to make distros better, often for no reward at all; what of them? Are they in charge in this brave new work? No. They are cast down and out, by a brigade of bullshitters too busy bopping on their iPods and blogging than in doing useful work.

If you let the wrong people into an organisation or a community, they can destroy it. Ubuntu and Gnome shows that this can happen to distros and open source projects just as easily and quickly as it has happened in the many industrys, countrys, and economies throughout the word. The destroyers will fail upwards, the blazing heat of their incompetence scortching all new pastures dry. The rest of us will be left behind to pick up the pieces and start again. In 5 years time, Ubuntu may be back on the path to being usable again, but I can't wait that long.

I'm thinking of starting off with Mint.

User Journal

Journal: Ohio Sec'y of State Installs "Experimental" Patch on Voting Machines 1

Journal by PopeRatzo

Days before the US presidential election, the Ohio Secretary of State (Republican) directed that an "experimental patch" be installed on voting machines in 39 Ohio counties. Federal law makes it illegal to make any changes in hardware and software to election equipment without it being tested and certified by the Federal Elections Commission. [NOTE: if Brad Blog is not "notable" enough of a source for you, this story is being reported in many other media outlets.]

You Slashdot readers are supposed to know a little something about software and patches and security. What do you think? This sound like "best practices" to you? By the way, John Husted, the Ohio Secretary of State who ordered this "patch" installed, is the guy who tried to stop early voting in Ohio and then told his county clerks to ignore the federal courts when they issued an injunction to put those early voting dates back in place. He's also one of the Republican officials who claimed that the proposed voter ID laws and purges of voter rolls would "deliver" Ohio to the Romney campaign.

I'm a little curious about what any sysadmins who read this and support Romney think of this move.

User Journal

Journal: Militarizing the Olympics

Journal by PopeRatzo

Jeremiah Cornelius has covered this story, but if you haven't read this article about a journalist who infiltrated the G4S security firm, the private company to whom the security for the London 2012 Olympics has been outsourced, go take a look. It just gets worse and worse.

It's a pretty stunning story, not just the plan to evacuate London, not just the 200,000 body bags that were ordered, but the level of incompetence that G4S has shown thus far.

Ben Fellows, the filmmaker and journalist who went undercover as "âoeLee Hazledean", has recently revealed his true identity when the complete blackout on his story by the mainstream media, and other irregularities, have made him fear for his life.

The great Swedish alt-blogcasters Red Ice Radio also have some pretty shocking coverage (warning: includes some rather out-there material, but still interesting). In their 2 1/2 hour special, they get opinions from some pretty impressive people, but also from some, shall-we-say "less conventional" characters like David Icke. But even those interviewees have some fascinating insights (I happen to think Icke is not nearly as loony as he is portrayed). Depending on your tolerance for challenging consensus reality, YMMV.

User Journal

Journal: The Job Creators 14

Journal by PopeRatzo

As any Libertarian will tell you, there's no reason a CEO shouldn't be paid 2000 times the amount of an average worker, because they're worth it.

Keep that in mind when you read the story of Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson. It's a tale of how mistreated the 1% are in Obama's America:

When Duke Energy announced its merger with Progress Energy last year, the two companies agreed that Progress CEO Bill Johnson would assume the same position at the combined company. So he did: On June 27, Johnson signed a three-year contract to helm Duke. When the merger went into effect on July 2, he assumed the position of CEO.

        And then, on July 3 at midnight, Johnson resigned

As the article tells us, Bill Johnson was forced out by the board after the merger, but just imagine the job he did in that one day as CEO when you read about his compensation package for that 24 hours:

Despite his short-lived tenure, Mr. Johnson will receive exit payments worth as much as $44.4 million, according to Duke. That includes $7.4 million in severance, a nearly $1.4 million cash bonus, a special lump-sum payment worth up to $1.5 million and accelerated vesting of his stock awards, according to a Duke regulatory filing Tuesday night. Mr. Johnson gets the lump-sum payment as long as he cooperates with Duke and doesnâ(TM)t disparage his former employer, the filing said.

Under his exit package, Mr. Johnson also will receive approximately $30,000 to reimburse him for relocation expenses.

Well, thank God for that $30k in "relocation expenses". Renting a U-Haul isn't cheap.

Like the saying goes "The rich are different than the rest of us. They are completely without shame." I want to know what the board of directors was doing the day this benefits package was approved.

But remember, according to Mitt Romney, Bill Johnson is a "job creator". Except, during the 24 very busy hours that Johnson was CEO, he laid off 900 workers. I wonder how much that comes to per laid-off worker?


Journal: History books can be fun (but usually aren't and this is a Bad Thing) 2

Journal by jd

Most people have read "1066 and all that: a memorable history of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 good things, 5 bad kings and 2 genuine dates" (one of the longest book titles I have ever encountered) and some may have encountered "The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody", but these are the exceptions and not the rule. What interesting - but accurateish - takes on history have other Slashdotters encountered?

"Plastic gun. Ingenious. More coffee, please." -- The Phantom comics