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Comment: Re:If you're using GPL code, you have no choice (Score 5, Interesting) 130 130

Read the license from the perspective of your users. If a later GPL version adds new protections against software patents, API copyrights, or whatever else the legal system dreams up, the users can opt to follow the terms of that license. If, in a moment of collective insanity, the FSF publishes a less-free GPL, the user can opt to use the earlier version your software was originally released under.

That clause actually ensures that the current version establishes a minimum set of rights.

Comment: Re:re-routing fossil fuel money to renewables (Score 2) 257 257

Precisely... the two ideas are independent.

If his investments are publicly-traded, selling his stake does nothing. The companies he's invested in won't lose his money, because he'd just be selling to another individual, so "his money" becomes "the other guy's money". If it's a private investment, where he may be contractually limited in what he can do, then the whole discussion is rather moot. He may be able to sell his way out of the investment, which would reduce the company's operating capital somewhat, but unless he's a major shareholder, the impact on the company will be minimal.

On the other hand, if he keeps his investments, he likely gets votes in how the company operates. Being Bill Gates, he probably gets a few more votes and can bend a few more ears than regular folks can. If the investments do anything, good or bad, that's where it lies... they give Mr. Gates the ability to push the fossil-fuel companies in a more environmentally-friendly direction.

Comment: Re:Looks like the second stage ruptured (Score 1, Insightful) 300 300

Indirectly, we did that.

We earned our income, and contributed our taxes to a big pool, and we elected legislators to decide if we should invest in SpaceX, industry bailouts, balancing budgets, military expansions, welfare programs, or any of the millions of other programs that all want a piece of the subsidy pie.

Comment: Re:How is this news for nerds? (Score 1) 1065 1065

Ah yes, the fictional Founding Fathers, who (as revisionists would have you believe) had the foresight to predict 200 years of technological, cultural, and societal changes...

Most of those legislative ancestors had slaves, and according to primary sources, they treated those slaves about as well as any of their peers did. They held pretty normal views on most societal issues of the day, with a bit of irritation at specific injustices perpetrated by the British colonial government. From a historical perspective, the Founding Fathers were not radical liberals, or ultimate paragons of social justice. They were mostly wealthy middle- and upper-class colonists, primarily distinguished from other rebellious colonists by the fact that they played a very good political game to gather and sustain support during their revolution.

We could simply say that they had the realistic foresight to build a government that is merely able to change with society, but that won't reinforce that lovely pedestal we hold so dear. Instead, we project our own morals onto the deceased diplomats, and assume that they support our causes.

This is not to say anything about whether the recent decision being good or bad. Rather, this is a plea to give credit where credit is due. The recent legal changes originate with the recently-changed opinions of American society as a whole, rather than the opinions of a few long-rotted corpses. This is why a public awareness campaign is so important, and why complaining about politicians accomplishes so little. Whether you approve of the current law or not, we did this together, for better or worse.

Comment: Re:There's no winning with the feminist crowd... (Score -1) 490 490

The right thing to do would be to make engineering toys that aren't "for" anyone.

Make a toy that stands on its own merits, then market it to everybody. It's not a "science kit for girls", it's just a science kit, and it's advertised across all applicable demographics, regardless of gender.

Comment: Re:Reconciling faith with science (Score 1, Interesting) 305 305

I did not say both were equally probable. I said they're equally reasonable, which is to say that believing either requires no more of a leap of faith than the other, and neither has more evidence than the other.

Perhaps we should apply the same examination to this "law of nature" as you have to the idea of a supernatural being?

The theories which underlie the idea of a spawned universe are conjecture, based on the idea that our universe exists in an unobservable space adjacent to another universe, and that given the right set of circumstances, our universe could have been created, with the initial collapsing quantum effects being manifest in now-our dimensions as the Big Bang.

Unfortunately, we have no proof of this. We can invent mathematical theories that come close to describing a multiverse where such an event is possible, but we have no proof that those theories are actually correct. There is no surviving evidence of their use in the Big Bang, and currently no means to travel beyond our universe to observe those "laws of nature" directly. To note your final concern, those theories also have not produced any testable predictions, as far as I know.

In short, such a "law of nature" is as much a human invention as a story of an extradimensional intelligence that likes to create sentient creatures in his spare time. For the purpose of satisfying the human desire to know everything, both are sufficient tales.

Comment: Re:Reconciling faith with science (Score 4, Insightful) 305 305

There is precisely nothing, apart from ignorance, that isolates a church from science. It is worth nothing that the ignorance to which I refer is both yours and the church's.

The point of a faith is to reconcile the human desire for knowledge with the understanding of the unknowable. Humans are smart enough to grasp that there is a limit to our observations. Common limits are the experience after biological death, the spacial boundaries of the universe, and the historical events prior to the Big Bang. These are things that currently we do not know about, and cannot know about, beyond vague guesses. Those guesses are a mix of the very-limited theories we have (like assuming that the rules of our universe extended before our universe had formed) and pure faith. It is just as reasonable to say that a God created our universe as it is to say that another universe deformed and spawned our dimensions.

Between the extremes of "known" and "cannot be known", however, there is a wide gap of "we don't know yet", and that is the domain of science. Science gives us the ability to know more, and push the unknowable limits out further. We may be able to invalidate a few religions with our discoveries, but there will always be certain limits to our knowledge, and beyond those limits, faith will still hold sway.

There are a few churches that have not only accepted the role of science, but embraced it. Now the pope is saying that climate change is not a matter of faith, but of science. He's acknowledging that we know enough about our planet to know that we can affect it, despite previous assertions by more-ignorant church members that only God could affect a planet's climate. This does not invalidate the religion, but merely declares that science is still something for humans to deal with, not deities.

Comment: Re:Miss your flight? (Score 1) 233 233

It's actually cheaper than trying to maintain only a loose synchronization. You just use prebuilt time equipment, which is almost always built for unnecessary precision, and have the service stop if the times are too far out of sync (indicating that a server stopped getting updates). If you have several servers in several sites, a single site losing its time service is not a big deal, as the service will fail over to the other sites. However, if none of your time clocks can handle the leap second, you'll lose all of your servers at the same time, as they all realize they aren't getting updates.

It's a hazard of having a uniform environment. Unfortunately, uniform environments are also far more cost-efficient to manage.

Comment: Re:Kickstarter campaign to fix the overlord proble (Score 1) 124 124

Then again, how much could Slashdot cost to run? It's just a forum, for chissakes, right?

It's a forum that gets Slashdotted all day, every day.

I know a guy who wrote about some of his research, and it was Slashdotted. He analyzed the traffic pattern, and though I can't find that analysis any more, he estimated the budget it'd take to survive the story's front-page run without downtime. It was not a small number.

Extrapolate that to running all day, every day, and serving more than a simple static HTML page, and even with the improvements in technology, we're still going to be dealing in numbers where the rounding error is larger than the staff's paychecks.

Comment: Re:Whats wrong with US society (Score 2) 609 609

Well, yeah.

Frankly I don't see the problem with merely owning any of the aforementioned items. The problem comes when you point them at other animals, or the things that other animals care about. What's so inherently wrong with using a weapon on your own property without harming anyone?

I'd like to see laws constructed such that the moment you intend to cause harm with a weapon, regardless of how big that weapon is, you have committed a misdemeanor. Actually cause harm, and you get upgraded to a felony, with various names and punishments proportional to the actual harm done and the potential harm the weapon could have caused.

Unfortunately, laws are not structured that way. Rather, they're built around knee-jerk panicked responses to the latest horror. I blame the legislators, and the scared people who pressure them to make bad decisions.

Comment: Re:smart people, including Bill Gates (Score 3, Insightful) 367 367

In the old 'world of the future' exhibits they prophecized that ... all humans would enjoy more leisure time

And that was, and continues to be, the single biggest mistake of optimistic utopian predictions. Not the "more leisure time" part, mind you, but the "enjoy" part.

If you want to live at a standard set by the 1920's, you can... Living with cheap goods, no electronics, and an hourly factory job, you can meet those basic needs pretty easily. If you're working only a few hours per week to meet those minimal expenses, however, your copious leisure time will be quite boring by modern standards. Knowing what else is available, it takes quite a lot of discipline to maintain that nice simple life.

What happened to get us all to sell ourselves out so cheaply

We realized that we like advancing progress. We like our iPhones, laptops, Internet, movies, and TV shows. We like these things so much that we're still willing to work a full-time job to have them.

our children are faced with a future with no jobs and parents whose retirement funds cannot pay to take care of them?

This is the single biggest mistake of pessimistic dystopian predictions: The assumption that somehow we're sitting at the absolute maximum of progress, and the precariously balanced economy will topple down the hill on the other side.

The reality is that human nature has not changed. We always want to have the best the world can offer. If that means working just as much as our parents did for a low wage, so be it. At the end of the day, we'll still be able to go to our air-conditioned home, turn on the trillions of transistors in our gaming computers, and play a video game that runs more computations in five minutes than were executed during the entire Apollo 11 mission.

We don't have any more leisure time than we did when those "world of the future" exhibits were built. What's happened instead is that both our working and leisure time have become more effective. At work, we do in an hour what would have taken a team of people several days to accomplish, because our tools are so greatly improved. At play, we routinely spend our time doing what once would have been once-in-a-lifetime activities, because our toys are so greatly improved.

Utopia? We are living it and don't even see it

Comment: Re:This is evil! (Score 1) 90 90

...but it's not clear whether the taxes will be on the locals or Statewide.

Either way, the legislature, being comprised of representatives of the jurisdiction involved approved such an action. By extrapolation, that means that the entire jurisdiction approved and agreed to pay taxes to benefit others in the area.

That's how a republic works.

Assuming [assumptions], and the costs paid entirely by the locals, that should about double the $65/month that is the nominal cost of the system.

Which really means that the cost of the system doesn't double, but rather that $65/month of taxes are going to this project's costs, rather than building that new skate park, nature trail, or a new sign for city hall. Again, the represented constituents chose (likely indirectly) to spend their budget this way.

In addition, the Federal government (that's the rest of us in the USA) are going to cover ~$90M of the cost.

And I will happily pay my 30-cent share while those Massachusetts guys help cover the cost of my town's badly-needed $100M school renovation. You see, a long time ago, our two states (and several others) decided to unite to help each other improve their collective lives. Now referred to as the "United States", each member state's citizens pay some taxes into a pool to go toward projects throughout the entire aggregate society.

Since the $90M covers multiple towns in the region, it's impossible to say how much the total cost of the system will be.

The total cost of the system will be less than it would be if the $90M only covered a single town. It's impossible to say what your non sequitur is trying to prove.

Comment: Re:slashdot is still slashdot (Score 1) 145 145


Honestly, I'd rather see more stories edited to be less inflammatory. Most of the crap we get on here seems to be pushed to the extremes of "hate these guys" or "love those guys". It's nice to see some small attempt at real journalism, even if it is fueled by corporate politics. I'm hoping it will spread.

No skis take rocks like rental skis!