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Comment: Re:If I have kids... (Score 2) 352

by Qwertie (#46771311) Attached to: Kids Can Swipe a Screen But Can't Use LEGOs
I don't think the "use of technology" causes these problems. Rather it is the failure of children to play much with physical objects, as all previous generations have done, and in extreme cases, failure to learn social interaction. That doesn't mean we have to eliminate computers from children's lives, it means children need more parenting and human contact.

Comment: Re:Denial of the root cause (Score 2) 341

Uh, have you noticed that the countries with the most wealth seem to have the least children? So my (naive) view would be that increasing the "material expectations" of the population, by increasing the wealth of the masses, has a better chance of avoiding dangerous overcrowding than keeping the majority of the world poor. One-child policies like China's, while on the extreme side, are also effective.

I suppose when you talk of "material expectations" you are thinking of North Americans and their rampant consumerism. I submit that this is not a problem with "human beings" so much as a problem with Americans and other affluent cultures. "Human beings" are certainly capable of living with less; most often this occurs due to lack of wealth, but there are a lot of things that we could voluntarily give up without harming our quality of life.

For example, when you go to McDonald's, do you really need the 3 napkins they give you automatically? Does your Big Mac really have to come in a box that you immediately throw away? Could re-usable plastic cups be used instead? Likewise in our home life, I know most people could find, if they wanted, ways to reduce waste and use less energy. Did you know you can turn the stove off before you remove the pot, and it can keep cooking for up to several minutes? Did you know apples with blemishes are safe to eat? Personally, I have a good quality of life as I try my best to reduce waste, but I know many of my peers waste a lot of food and goods and their lives are no better for it. I submit that this is an issue of human culture rather than human beings.

Comment: Re:Nuclear is obvious, an energy surplus is desire (Score 1) 429

by Qwertie (#46749881) Attached to: UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate
It's interesting to watch the different arguments from pro-nuclear and anti-nuclear forces. The pro-nuclear forces point out that building all new power plants as 100% renewable in the near future is not practical but a mixture of renewables and nuclear is. They go on to point out the relatively high rate of deaths from coal power (such as direct deaths in coal mines, and indirect deaths from air pollution) per unit of power generated, compared to the few deaths from nuclear. They may even then point out that petroleum power in general has a poor safety record compared to nuclear worldwide.

The anti-nuclear crowd, meanwhile, either focuses on a tiny number of accidents like Chernobyl and a couple of problematic, but non-lethal, old reactor designs (like the 1970 pebble-bed reactor mentioned by the parent), as if costly problems are unique to the nuclear industry. After all, why pay any attention to accidents, deaths or cost overruns in fossil-fuel power when we can simply make every single new power plant a renewable power plant? Never mind that not every place in the world has plentiful sunlight or wind. They then move on to the only argument about nuclear that is actually fair--that it often costs more than renewables.

Nuclear faces political and popular opposition, often due to outdated opinions based on a few unsafe reactors from the 60s and 70s (did you know that Fukushima reactor 1 was built before Chernobyl? Or that there is another nearby reactor run by a more safety-conscious company that survived the tsunami?). This opposition and regulatory uncertainty increases costs, plus reactors are traditionally built with the "craftsman" approach where every reactor is large, somewhat unique, and built on-site. It seems to me that costs could be reduced greatly if nuclear reactors were mass-produced like trucks (small reactors seem to work great for nuclear subs!) and distributed around the country from factories, and if they used passive failsafes to make uncontrolled meltdowns "impossible" so that outer containment chambers could be less costly.

But the public opposition is no small barrier to overcome. Remember how a Tesla car makes nationwide news whenever a single battery pack is damaged and catches fire, even though there are 150,000 vehicle fires reported every year in the U.S.? You can expect the same thing with small modular reactors--barring some terrible disaster, all sorts of problems with petroleum power plants will be scarcely noticed, while a single minor nuclear incident will make nationwide headlines. Surely this makes potential nuclear investors nervous.
Mozilla

Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law 1111

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-ok-california-laws-aren't-like-real-people-laws dept.
theodp (442580) writes "While the rise and fall of Brendan Eich at Mozilla sparked a debate over how to properly strike a balance between an employee's political free speech and his employer's desire to communicate a particular corporate 'culture,' notes Brian Van Vleck at the California Workforce Resource Blog, the California Labor Code has already resolved this debate. 'Under California law,' Van Vleck explains, 'it is blatantly illegal to fire an employee because he has donated money to a political campaign. This rule is clearly set forth in Labor Code sections 1101-1102.' Section 1102 begins, 'No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity.' Corporate Counsel's Marlisse Silver Sweeney adds, 'Mozilla is adamant that the board did not force Eich to resign, and asked him to stay on in another role. It also says that although some employees tweeted for his resignation, support for his leadership was expressed by a larger group of employees. And this is all a good thing for the company from a legal standpoint.' As Eich stepped down, Re/code reported that Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker said Eich's ability to lead the company had been badly damaged by the continued scrutiny over the hot-button issue. 'It's clear that Brendan cannot lead Mozilla in this setting,' Baker was quoted as saying. 'I think there has been pressure from all sides, of course, but this is Brendan's decision. Given the circumstances, this is not surprising.' Van Vleck offers these closing words of advice, 'To the extent employers want to follow in Mozilla's footsteps by policing their employees' politics in the interests of 'culture,' 'inclusiveness,' or corporate branding, they should be aware that their efforts will violate California law.'"
Government

Senate Report Says CIA Misled Government About Interrogation Methods 207

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
mrspoonsi sends this news from the Washington Post: "A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques. The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use — and later tried to defend — excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document. ... At the secret prison, Baluchi endured a regime that included being dunked in a tub filled with ice water. CIA interrogators forcibly kept his head under the water while he struggled to breathe and beat him repeatedly, hitting him with a truncheon-like object and smashing his head against a wall, officials said. As with Abu Zubaida and even Nashiri, officials said, CIA interrogators continued the harsh treatment even after it appeared that Baluchi was cooperating."

Comment: Re:We do this already (Score 1) 914

And we do something very much like a "time dialation" punishment already: it's called solitary confinement. It's extends the days a lot like the proposed "pill or liquid", except that the extended sentence was not proposed by the prosecutor nor approved by a judge or jury.

Comment: Re:Evolution? (Score 2) 56

by Qwertie (#46431295) Attached to: First Study of the Evolution of Memes On Facebook
Like many /. summaries, this one strikes me as attempting to grab eyeballs by digging up unjustified connotations. The "Yule Process" is little more than the well-known idea that the "rich get richer", though there's a particular formula associated with it. So it would be easier to understand and far more precise to say simply "popular memes tend to get more popular". So while the summary says meme evolution "follows the same mathematical evolution that genes follow", it would be more informative but less headline-friendly to say "memes multiply like rabbits" or "memes compete like bacteria growing in a dish", and then we wouldn't be snickering about creationism again. Yes, the researchers studied mutation too--but the "Yule Process" has nothing to do with mutation or evolution (except in the sense that population growth is "evolution" of the population size).

It isn't news that macroscopic processes sometimes resemble microscopic ones. Electrons orbit atoms--just like planets orbit the sun! Photons bounce off mirrors--just like basketballs bounce off floors! Memes mutate--just like genes, but, er, with differences! Question: so what?

Comment: Re:As Frontalot says (Score 5, Insightful) 631

by Qwertie (#46353091) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Trust Bitcoin?
The mathematics of bitcoin are sound enough. The issue I have with it is the possibility of hacks.

We all know that most computer systems are insecure. In the past, cracking a computer could only yield things like names, addresses, passwords (hashed and salted, one hopes), confidential files... in short, information. But with Bitcoin, crackers now enjoy the tantalizing possibility of stealing money! That makes Bitcoin exchanges (and, if bitcoin becomes popular, all ordinary PCs with bitcoin wallets) highly attractive hacking targets. So how can we be sure that an exchange won't be hacked? How can we be sure that our PCs won't be hacked? This issue--my inability to know that my coins are secure--has made me reluctant to buy them in the past.

Also, what regulations exist to ensure exchanges are secure? What incentives exist to encourage exchanges to be bulletproof against against hacks (or scams / social engineering)? And finally, how can we know that the exchange itself is entirely legitimate?

And by the way, I'm sure conventional large banks and financial institutions occasionally have hacks too, which reminds me of another difference between bitcoin and traditional money management. The difference is that you can mostly trust traditional institutions to compensate customers for any funds stolen from customer accounts (as long as it wasn't blatantly the customer's fault). To what extent is this assurance available in the bitcoin world?
Transportation

You Might Rent Features & Options On Cars In the Future 437

Posted by Soulskill
from the transportation-as-a-service dept.
cartechboy writes "These days, you go to a car dealership and you buy a car. If you want seat heaters, you might need to option for the cold weather package from the factory. Want the high-end stereo? You'll be likely be opting for some technology package which bundles in navigation. While some options are a la carte, most are bundled, and even when they are a la carte, they aren't cheap. What if in the future you could buy a car and unlock options later? Say the car came from the factory with heated seats, but you didn't pay for them. But later on, say in the middle of the freezing winter, you suddenly want them. What if you could simply pay a monthly fee during the winter months to have those heated seats work? Whether this model would benefit the consumer, the automakers, or both is yet to be seen. But automakers such as MINI are already talking about this type of a future. Is this the right road to be headed down, or are consumers going to just get screwed in the long run?"

Comment: You got it. (Score 1) 262

by Qwertie (#45779001) Attached to: Linux x32 ABI Not Catching Wind

Some people don't see the ABI as being worthwhile when it still requires 64-bit processors

There's your answer. If I'm writing a program that won't need over 2GB, the decision is obvious: target x86. How many developers even know about x32? Of those, how many need what it offers? That little fraction will be the number of users.

Comment: "how to exploit it"? (Score 1) 504

by Qwertie (#45717671) Attached to: CBS 60 Minutes: NSA Speaks Out On Snowden, Spying

foreign nations would know what the US does and doesn't know, and how to exploit it.

How does it help "foreign nations" to know how much the U.S. is or is not spying on its own citizens? How can foreign nations "exploit" a lack of domestic spying? How can foreign nations even "exploit" knowledge about international spying by the U.S. government?

What a backwards comment. Ed Snowden didn't release this information to harm the U.S., he did it to inform U.S. citizens about what their tax dollars were buying without their knowledge. This is stuff citizens should have a right to know.

If World War III were going on, you might have a point about keeping spying ops secret. But in peacetime (and this is peacetime, notwithstanding a couple of US-lead skirmishes), there should be less spying and much more transparency.

DRM

DRM Has Always Been a Horrible Idea 281

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the except-when-gabe-does-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For years, the reaction of the big entertainment companies to digital disruption has been to try and restrict and control, a wrong-headed approach that was bound to backfire. But the entertainment companies were never known for being forward thinking whether it was radio in the 20s or cassette tapes in the 70s or VCRs in the 80s or Napster in the 90s. The reaction was the always the same. Take a defensive position and try to battle the disruptive force. And it never worked. And DRM was perhaps the worst reaction of all, place restrictions on your content that punish the very people who were willing to pay for it, while others were free to use it without restriction. It was an approach that never made much sense, and it's good to know that mounting evidence proves that's the case."
Media

Disney Pulls a Reverse Santa, Takes Back Christmas Shows From Amazon Customers 418

Posted by samzenpus
from the naughty-list dept.
Sockatume writes "Since 2011, Amazon Instant Video has sold a series of Christmas shorts from Disney called 'Prep and Landing'. Unfortunately this holiday season, Disney has had a change of heart and has decided to make the shorts exclusive to its own channels. The company went so far as to retroactively withdrawn the shows from Amazon, so that customers who have already paid for them no longer have access. Apparently this reverse-Santa ability is a feature Amazon provides all publishers, and customers have little recourse but to go cap-in-hand to a Disney outlet and pay for the shows again."
Privacy

Supreme Court Refuses To Hear EPIC Challenge To NSA Surveillance 227

Posted by samzenpus
from the we're-not-listening-to-you dept.
Trailrunner7 writes "The challenge to the NSA's domestic surveillance program filed with the Supreme Court by the Electronic Privacy Information Center ended Monday, with the court refusing to consider the challenge at all. EPIC had filed the challenge directly with the Supreme Court rather than going through the lower courts. EPIC, a non-profit organization involved in privacy policy matters, had asked the court to vacate an order from a judge in the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court that had enabled the NSA's collection of hundreds of millions of Verizon call records under the so-called metadata collection program. The challenge hinged on the idea that the FISC had gone outside of its authority in granting the order."

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