Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:You no longer own a car (Score 1) 330

by Required Snark (#49516699) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars
Clinton signed this, but the legislation is a part of the long term Republican effort to deregulate, well, everything. It goes back at least as far as the Regan administration.

The same arguments were used to justify the North American Trade Agreement, which was another terrible idea. NAFTA made it much easier both to move jobs out of the US to Mexico. Additionally it helped destroy small scale farming in northern Mexico, because these farms couldn't compete with subsidized US agribusiness. Now most of the food imported from Mexico is from large scale farming, because that is competitive. The end of small farms enabled the growth of marijuana farming and the growth of violent drug cartels.

Besides the steaming pile of bull crap that is the DCMA, one of the other Republican moves was the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act, which directly lead to the Crash of 2008. Glass-Steagall didn't disappear all at once; the dismantling started during the Reagan years. It held up as long as the Democrats were in control and Volker was in charge if the FED. When Greenspan got in then the end of Glass-Steagall became a priority for the Republicans and Wall Street, and they got what they paid for.

If you don't like the DCMA, you should be terrified by the TPP, a secret trade treaty. We, i.e. the public, had no clue about what is in this thing. It's been given so called "fast track" status, so there will very limited debate or opportunity to amend the language. And since it's an international treaty, it supersedes US law. If it passes in Congress, Obama will sign it. How do you feel about letting Asian nations decide our trade policies?

The TPP effectively allows big business interests to offshore the regulatory process. It's so much easier to change the rules of the game in smaller countries where things like environmental and consumer protection have minimal impact. Since we have no idea with the treaty actually says, it seems likely that a lot of the protections that we have in the US will be effectively gutted with no way override it.

If you think things are bad now, just wait.

Comment: Re:Help me out here a little... (Score 1) 486

by Required Snark (#49508491) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power
It's about entrenched special interests.

They will always use their political capital to protect their position and profit. As long as they are making money they don't give a rat's ass about anything else; who cares about climate change if I'm making money right now.

There are economically viable solutions for distributed solar power, but they change the model for the entrenched players. Since it's about (economic) power and (political) power, they will oppose any change that decreases their (economic/political/electrical) power. Efficiency and sustainability are irrelevant. Just ask the Koch brothers, the Kings of Coal. Can there be any doubt that they are neck deep in this issue?

The issue of regulation and monopoly is meaningless. We live in an era where entrenched interests bend the rules to guarantee their status. Is automobile manufacturing a regulated monopoly? Of course not. But they still have been able to use the law to keep Tesla from selling cars in many states. Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, the United Launch Alliance, have used their clout to keep SpaceX from getting Defense Department contracts. (Elon Musk has to have an iron constitution considering the kind of crap he has had to deal with.)

Welcome to post-capitalist America. No capitalism, no democracy, no privacy, no liberty.

Comment: Re:American "Justice" (Score 1) 164

Hot off the press, an article published today about how the "justice" system can put an innocent person in jail for life.

Virginia is still imprisoning an almost certainly innocent man—even after he did the time.

Of all the maddening stories of wrongful convictions, Michael McAlister’s may be one of the worst. For starters, he has been in prison for 29 years for an attempted rape he almost certainly did not commit. For much of that time, the lead prosecutor who secured his conviction, the original lead detective on the case, and more recently, the current Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney, Michael Herring, have argued that McAlister is innocent and that someone else—a notorious serial rapist with the same MO as the perpetrator of the crime for which McAlister was convicted—is in fact the real criminal. “I think our justice system is one of the best on the planet,” Herring told the Richmond Times-Dispatch last week. “But this case makes me ashamed of it.”

Here are the facts: In 1986, McAlister was convicted of attempted rape and abduction with the attempt to defile, after a 4½-hour bench trial. The only evidence presented was the victim’s identification based on her partial glimpse of her assailant’s face, much of which was covered with a mask. The photo array she was shown by the police did not include a picture of Norman Derr, a serial rapist who had already attempted to attack another woman in the same apartment complex. But it did include a photo of McAlister, and the two men looked astonishingly similar.

Derr is currently serving three life sentences. He was caught after the brutal rape of a woman in 1988 and is now linked to six other violent offenses through DNA cold-case testing. (There was no biological evidence from the crime McAlister was convicted of, and thus nothing to implicate Derr and exonerate McAlister.) But the similarities between Derr’s crimes and the alleged McAlister assault are remarkable: Derr attacked women with a knife in apartment-complex laundry rooms, wearing a plaid shirt and a stocking mask. These details all match the crime for which McAlister is still in prison. Subsequent police affidavits reveal that Derr was already being trailed by the police in 1986 and that he had in fact pulled on a stocking mask and approached a female undercover cop in the same apartment complex in which McAlister allegedly later assaulted his victim. Several other laundry room attacks happened after McAlister was already in jail but before Derr was caught.

McAlister was set up. He was asked to wear a plaid shirt in the photo lineup, and he was the only one in a plaid shirt. His release date has passed, but he continues to be incarcerated because he was convicted of a violent sex crime. There is no exculpatory DNA evidence. He has already done 29 years for a crime that the prosecutor in the case thinks was a wrongful conviction.

What was that about the system being perfect again?

Comment: The Japanese Perocialism (Score 2) 99

by Required Snark (#49466181) Attached to: Transforming Robot Gets Stuck In Fukushima Nuclear Reactor
The Japanese have been very reluctant to use non-Japanese technology for Fukushima problems. They would rather use home grown systems, and this has not worked out very well for them.

For example, their record on handling radioactive water has been a list of miserable failures. Briefly, there were three different systems used to treat the water being used to cool the reactors: a French system from AREVA, a system from Kurion, a startup based in Orange County California, and a system built by Hiatachi/Tobshba. The timeline is complex, but both the French and Japanese systems broke almost immediately when they went into full scale operation. The Kurion system was more reliable, but it was not used as the primary cleanup platform.

The muon imaging that has been used to verify core meltdowns was developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and LLNL proposed that they work directly with TEPCO. Instead TEPCO worked with the US company that ended up with the equipment after the LLNL development project ended. All the press releases describe the imaging as being done by Hiatachi, who ran the detector in Japan. Even so, there are actually two different muon imaging systems in place, and one of them is directly from LLNL. The results from the second LLNL detector have not been officially announced yet.

Outside Japan, experts were not optimistic about the ice wall project to keep ground water from entering the reactor buildings. They spent a lot of time, effort and money and then had to give up.

I can only speculate, but I think they are very reluctant to use US technology unless they can rebrand it as Japanese. I think they want to show that they are better at high tech the the US.

They may match or beat the US in industrial applications, but because of DARPA investment in disaster and military technology, the US has more robust robot technology for chaotic real world conditions. Just look at ASIMO vs Boston Dynamics PETMAN, ATLAS or BIG DOG. The Boston Dynamics robots all have videos where they are being shoved and kicked and stay upright. It's obvious that one good shove and ASIMO would end up on the floor and might be badly damaged.

It just seems strange that there has not been more collaboration between Japan and the rest of the world for dealing with the Fukushima disaster. DARPA has been working on robots for HASMAT environment for a long time and yet they have no presence at Fukushima. It seems that Japanese ethnocentrism and pride is now making a bad situation more difficult.

Comment: Re:Systemic and widespread? (Score 4, Informative) 489

by Required Snark (#49437307) Attached to: The Courage of Bystanders Who Press "Record"
The police destroy cellphone video evidence when they get their hands on it. After they get away with this typically nothing happens, which is why you don't hear about it. The cover up works.

Here is a recent real world example from Bakersfield Calif. A suspect was beaten by police outside of a local hospital and died an hour later. Two people called 911 and said they were video taping the event. The cops showed up at their door and took their cell phones. When they were returned the videos had been deleted. This happened in May 2013 and there seems to be no further news on the matter. Case closed.

Police accused of erasing cell phone footage of fatal beating.

She says she saw six sheriff's deputies hitting a man with a club and kicking him.

She took out her cell phone and told the deputies what she was doing. It's unclear whether she thought this might get them to stop. If that was the case, this doesn't seem to have happened.

She says the man screamed and cried for help for a total of eight minutes. He finally fell silent, and the police then allegedly tied him up and dropped him twice on the ground.

It was only then, Melendez said, that they enacted CPR. David Sal Silva, 33, died less than an hour later.

Melendez said that she and her daughter's boyfriend both filmed what happened. She also said that police confiscated both their phones without a warrant being served.

The sheriff's department disputes this version, insisting that everything was done legally and the phones have been handed to the Bakersfield Police Department.

Melendez and her daughter's boyfriend both said that police officers paid them a visit at their homes and demanded the phones.

Worse, there are now accusations that some of the cell phone footage has been deleted. A report from the Los Angeles Times says that the FBI has now been called into the investigation.

This move was prompted, said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, by the fact that one of the two confiscated cell phones seems to have no footage on it at all.

"Our credibility is at stake here," he told the L.A. Times. More witnesses have come forward to support the essence of Melendez's claims that the police were overly zealous.

"They must have gotten rid of one of the videos," Melendez's daughter, Melissa Quair, told the L.A. Times.

Some might conclude from incidents such as the one in Bakersfield that if you're of a mind to film the police and believe wrong has been done, post it to YouTube as soon as you can.

There was no legal justification for the police to confiscate the phones. They broke the law in doing so. The FBI examined the phones and couldn't find the videos. There have been civil suits, but no charges or administrative actions against any of the officers.

In the current incident the video was turned over to the lawyer for the family. If the police had gotten their hands on it first it would have disappeared. If you deny this happens you are condoning lawless police violence that can and does result in murder.

If you think this is an isolated case, to to Photography is Not a Crime. They have a lot of examples of how police are caught breaking the law and illegally stopping people who video their bad behavior.

Comment: Re:Time for Proportional Fines (Score 1) 92

Proportional fines could work. Don't make the fine proportional to the size of the company, make it proportional to the number of records leaked. And use progressive sliding scales. Score the damage for each leaked record based on the exposure of the individual. So 1 point for birth date and 10 points for Social Security number and birth date, because the combination enables identity theft. If the leak is under say, 100000 it's less per record then if it over a million. Publish the rules ahead of time.

Of course this is still not going to have much effect. Just look at the financial industry. Post 2008 bank fines have totaled over $184 billion. To put that in perspective:

"For comparative purposes, an economy with a GDP of $184 billion would, according to the World Bank, rank 54th globally, or roughly the size of New Zealand. With 174 cases still ongoing, we expect the issue of monetary penalties to persist,"

Since 2008 banks have committed crimes like manipulating the international LIBOR lending rate, laundered money for drug cartels, and been actively involved in illegal tax avoidance. So fines don't really do much, and bank stocks are doing OK and going up with the rest of the market.

Welcome to our post-capitalist society. Entrenched special interests make money no matter how badly they perform and no one individual ever is held accountable.

Comment: $10 Billion is a drop in the bucket (Score 5, Informative) 370

by Required Snark (#49421043) Attached to: How the Pentagon Wasted $10 Billion On Military Projects
This is like worrying about dirty dishes when the house is on fire. You're concerned about stupid government spending, just contemplate the Iraq War.

The costs of the 2003-2010 Iraq War are often contested, as academics and critics have unearthed many hidden costs not represented in official estimates. The most recent major report on these costs come from Brown University in the form of the Costs of War, which totaled just over $1.1 trillion. The Department of Defense's direct spending on Iraq totaled at least $757.8 billion, but also highlighting the complementary costs at home, such as interest paid on the funds borrowed to finance the wars.

So $757.8 billion is the low ball amount that even the Pentagon can't hide. It seems a lot more likely that the Brown figure of $1.1 trillion is a more realistic number. No one at Brown has a personal stake in fudging the figures, unlike those in the military-industrial complex who live and die by the defense budget.

And that $757.8 billion is just the down payment. You want to see the real big bucks, look at the long term costs.

According to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report published in October 2007, the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost taxpayers a total of $2.4 trillion by 2017 when counting the huge interest costs because combat is being financed with borrowed money. The CBO estimated that of the $2.4 trillion long-term price tag for the war, about $1.9 trillion of that would be spent on Iraq, or $6,300 per U.S. citizen.

A 2013 updated study pointed out that U.S. medical and disability claims for veterans after a decade of war had risen to $134.7 billion from $33 billion two years earlier.

Remember, the Iraq War was completely voluntary. It was a war of choice. The two justifications used to start it were both completely wrong. First, Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack. It was Al Qaeda, and had nothing to do with Sadam Hussein. Second, there were no weapons of mass destruction, except for the left-overs from the Iran-Iraq war. These were the chemical weapons that the US helped Iraq obtain when they were fighting a proxy war for the US against Iran.

So upwards of $2 trillion has been spent on a war that we started for the wrong reasons. That's real serious government waste.

And it's not just the money. If you want to get really upset, check out the Casualties of the Iraq War. It will make you sick to your stomach.

Comment: Save the LOL Cats! (Score 0) 155

by Required Snark (#49377865) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who's Going To Win the Malware Arms Race?
Without Cats and LOLs life is not worth living. Civilization will collapse out of shear apathy.

On the plus side, global warming will not be a problem because all economic activity will cease and no fossil fuel will be consumed.

Japan and the US will be particularly hard hit. Parts of the EU as well. It's more uncertain what will happen to emerging economies like China, India and Brazil. LOL and/or cats is such a world wide phenomenon that no place will escape unscathed.

No matter what the Amazon will start to recover when Amazon ceases to operate.

Comment: Re:Proof (Actual Reporting of Real News) (Score 0) 137

Here's a report on the attack from China Digital Times.

First, a message sent out by the Chinese authorities to not comment on the attack.

The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

Regarding the large-scale distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on GitHub, do not conjecture or comment of your own accord before the authoritative media have reported the case, and do not republish foreign coverage. (March 28, 2015)

Next, the two specific targets of the attack.

The DDoS attack “weaponizes” Internet users outside China who visit websites containing Baidu tracking code. As long as they remain on an affected site, their browser will quietly make repeated requests to the GitHub URLs of censorship monitoring and circumvention project and its censorship-evading Chinese New York Times mirror, in an effort to overwhelm GitHub’s servers.

This is what GreatFire, the target of the attack, had to say:

When we first blogged about this attack we did not want to level accusations without evidence. Based on the technical forensic evidence provided above and the detailed research that has been done on the GitHub attack, we can now confidently conclude that the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) is responsible for both of these attacks [the ongoing one against GitHub, and another against GreatFire earlier this month].

[] Inserting malicious code in this manner can only be done via the Chinese Internet backbone. Even if CAC did not launch the DDoS attack directly, they are responsible for managing the internet in China and it is not possible that they did not know what was happening. These attacks have occurred under CAC’s watch and would have needed the approval of Lu Wei.

Lu Wei and the Cyberspace Administration of China have clearly escalated the tactics that they use to control information. The Great Firewall has switched from being a passive, inbound filter to being an active and aggressive outbound one. This is a frightening development and the implications of this action extend beyond control of information on the internet. In one quick movement, the authorities have shifted from enforcing strict censorship in China to enforcing Chinese censorship on internet users worldwide. CAC can launch these attacks quickly and easily and they have the technical and financial resources behind them to continue to launch DDoS attacks against any website, anywhere in the world.

GitHub is used by GreatFire as a way around Chinese government censorship by the Great Firewall. Here's what GitHub had to say about the attack.

GitHub commented last week that “we believe the intent of this attack is to convince us to remove a specific class of content,” apparently referring to GreatFire’s censorship circumvention tools. GitHub’s compliance would resolve a dilemma for Chinese censors: the site’s HTTPS encryption prevents blocking its contents selectively, and its ubiquity in the tech industry would impose a high economic toll on blocking the entire site. This “collateral freedom” strategy is central to GreatFire’s circumvention projects on other platforms, such as Amazon’s and Microsoft’s.

It's very even handed of the Slashdot Pundits to support the Chinese government contention that they are just poor innocent bystanders who haven't ever censored anybody ever. Of course it's way to much effort to go online and find out what the attack victims think. Our Pundit class never bothers with fact finding, because they already know everything they need to know. When your eagle eye vantage point is a bedroom in your parents' basement you can confidently decide who's truly responsibility in any situation. Thank you Slashdot Pundits, where would be be without you?

Comment: Space X vs ULA (Score 1) 132

by Required Snark (#49368103) Attached to: SpaceX's New Combustion Technologies
Anybody remember this Slashdot thread about the $1 billion per year subsidy to ULA?. It was only two days ago.

Was ULA making any investment in propulsion technology? Well they started using the Russian RD-180 in 2000 and didn't start looking for a replacement until 2014. This was after SpaceX starting to compete with them for heavy launch contracts and everyone realized that Russia could stop deliveries because of political considerations.

Meanwhile, Space has been continuously investing in new rocket technology, primarily with their own money. They haven't made any profit yet, it's ongoing reinvestment.

As this article shows, they are even working on extending the state of the art by extending CFD technology so that rocket engine design can benefit from advanced computation capabilities.

So how much new technology did ULA produce? What did the taxpayers get for the $1 billion per year above and beyond paying for actual launches? Sound of crickets...

Welcome to our post capitalism system. Entrenched special interests get guaranteed profit and government subsidies, obscene tax breaks and use government regulation to keep out any competition. SpaceX just got hit by the regulation trap: US Air Force Overstepped in SpaceX Certification. The report came out about two weeks ago well after the damage was already done. Business as usual. No one will be held to account.

This obvious sabotage resulted because the USAF/Lockheed/Boeing are for all practical purposes a unified conglomerate. They are all insiders, The military and government employees know that as soon as they leave the US payroll they will go to the (not really) civilian side and make even more money. When they retire from their civilian jobs they get two retirement packages: double dipping.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.