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Comment Re:"an act of social provocation"? (Score 1) 367 367

Do you feel safe? Are you afraid someone is going to come and threaten your life and liberty? Do you believe that if you were ever threatened, your society is already equipped with stalwart heroes to come and defend you? Do you consider yourself such a stalwart hero?

The core belief here is that only by empowering society to keep guns in the hands of 'the people' can a society truly be free. So the self manufacture of guns is the best way to ensure that freedom. They tend to hold strong beliefs that those in power are only held in check by an armed populous. Otherwise, they claim, what is to stop those in power from taking away the liberty of anyone who displeases them?

For some, the philosophy of freedom is that which you can defend. They tend to view the world in a cold and unforgiving light, and believe that self reliance is the only true chance at prosperity. You likely fall closer to the other end of the spectrum where the strength of society is measured by how well people work together. Civics is a rather broad topic, and we all have our own personal political beliefs. Groups like CATI are just trying to stand up for their own beliefs.

Comment Re:Refunding my investment (Score 1) 203 203

Creators are responsible for their projects. When you back a project, you’re trusting the creator to do a good job, so if you don’t know them personally or by reputation, do a little research first. Kickstarter doesn’t evaluate a project’s claims, resolve disputes, or offer refunds — backers decide what’s worth funding and what’s not.

Some projects won’t go as planned. Even with a creator’s best efforts, a project may not work out the way everyone hopes. Kickstarter creators have a remarkable track record, but nothing’s guaranteed. Keep this in mind when you back a project.

An investment is a risk-based transaction. Donating to Kickstarter technically qualifies, but what do you get in exchange for your money? Not an ownership stake, which is what a stock offers. Not a 'financial product', which has largely always been against Kickstarters terms and conditions.

You get a 'Backers Pledge'. And I have yet to see any legal case that would demonstrate that is anything other than charity. Any scammer worth their salt should be able to mount a legal 'reasonable effort' defense that would stand up on court.

Comment Know Value (Score 1) 146 146

As much as I would never want to see any of those presentation slides or spreadsheets with all the reasons why you are doing as well as can be expected, I would still expect you to be able to put such things together in some sort of reasonable business argument. But I suspect that it's not your 'gut' telling you that everything is fine, that's ignorance. I certainly understand the perils upper management meddling in affairs of which they know nothing, but I also understand middle management resting on their laurels and thinking they're doing 'just fine' without any way to try and judge that metric.

Getting a baseline on what similar departments might be spending can sometimes be helpful. But your goal shouldn't just be to find some metrics by which you compare favorably to the competition and judge that everything is fine. Every time you have to sign off on a purchase order for new hardware or renew a license for software you should be asking questions about value. Change by itself is never without risks, so the mere disruption of existing workflows might be reason enough not to switch to some alternative, even what that alternative is 'clearly' better.

You should be able to make your case for all your spending, such as why it's needed and why it's the best choice for your business. It doesn't always boil down to easy numbers for the bean counters, but at least be able to put on a good show.

Comment Re:Had we not flown... (Score 2) 364 364

My wife and I did take the train for our holiday travel rather than flying, explicitly because I hate being manhandled like a criminal. Total transit time, one way, would have been about 4 hours by air or about 13 hours if we drove straight there. By train, one way, transit time was 28 hours. Certainly, the train was a lot less cramped than either a car or plane, plus we have outlets and no restrictions on using our electronic toys, and a dining, cafe, and observation car. (Kudos to the team who played more than 12 hours of Settlers of Catan in the observation car!) And our layover at one train station did include complimentary propaganda TSA video playing continuously.

Which is to say, yes, we do have a few options to try and boycott the growing police state in this country. However, they are not without some serious compromises, and even those of us who do value freedom have to balance that value against the many other priorities in our lives. My wife and I had the privilege to spend an extra two of our vacation days on travel, but not everyone is so fortunate. And I have no idea how we're going to manage a trip to Alaska.

Comment Re:Stopping road deaths is a "geek toy"? (Score 1) 469 469

Machines are fallible! Complex machines, double so! I will not trust my life to these undead abominations! At least I'm used to dealing with human mistakes!

What sort of Luddite troll is this? How is this insightful? Cruise missiles are not gently guided to their targets by hand. Machines presently navigate our cars, regulate our air flow, control our planes and nuclear reactors, and keep our hearts beating. But suddenly steering our cars is crossing a line?

My fear is not that machines will make a mistake and kill people. That's already happened plenty of times. My fear is that we will allow our fear to control us more than the machines.

Comment Re:I still think this guy should countersue . . . (Score 1) 308 308

Thanks for the information. After your comment, I went back and looked at the Monsanto Canada v. Percy Schmeiser case, which I had believed was based on the idea that Percy was being sued because some of his crop next to a highway had been contaminated with patented Roundup Ready crops being shipped in open trucks.

Turns out, of the charges against Schmeiser, the only one which survived in court was not that his crops might have been cross-contaminated in 1997. It was that he had sprayed some of that crop with Roundup, and found it to be resistant, and so harvested the seeds separately for replanting. He was being sued because his crop the following year in 1998 was found to be %95+ of the Roundup resistant strain, and this level of concentration had to constitute knowing infringement.

The Supreme Court of Canada agreed with Monsanto 5-4. The dissenting opinion was based in part that allowing gene patents to extend beyond the 'founder plant' and to the offspring would go too far.

Comment Re:The Problem with Trading Hands (Score 2) 178 178

The internet is a big place. And the competitive advantage held by the early Slashdot was the community. Certainly a 'nerd news' feed was also relatively nice and novel, but all that can be easily duplicated elsewhere. And it was. But for perhaps the first decade Slashdot was around, it felt like a quasi-niche group of smart kids. But too much of a good thing becomes... some other kind of thing. More and more people arrived and started to comment. Some of the old timers left. Eternal September had come to Slashdot.

I still read here regularly. I even comment occasionally. But I no longer think of this place as the nerd-cool water cooler chat room. Things change. After the meta newsfeed there was the meta-meta news feeds. The meta cubed and squared stuff is coming. The real challenge will be the same one Slashdot faced. How do you attract the positive community you want, while exuding those you don't want... without making the rest feel excluded?

Comment Re:Being "Super" (Score 1) 109 109

I do want to encourage the sentiment that people desire to be able to play games for as long as they desire, and not on some corporate or copyright schedule. But I keep hearing other MMO players express some kind of regret or fear that their character(s) only exist inside the digital prison of some corporate server. Those characters are you. Those achievements are yours. Those experience points weren't just points... they were experiences. And you get to keep them for as long as you care to remember.

I do think I sort of understand... I expect I feel a similar sort of regret whenever I finish reading an exceptional novel. But its not like I'm afraid to invest the time in reading books.

Comment Re:Laws of Robotics have AI as a prerequisite (Score 2) 305 305

We don't need strong AI to have our devices 'betray' us. Just as Stuxnet didn't need to be self aware to wreck havoc.

Equipment doesn't get happy, it doesn't get sad, it just runs programs. But are you, as the owner of your phone in control? Or is the manufacturer? Or whoever they contracted to write the OS? Or the apps? Or the guy who's taking advantage of a 0day exploit? Or even the guy who added the exploit in the first place?

Perhaps your phone won't try and send his friends back in time to kill Sarah Connor. But where does it get its orders from? You?

What can we do to mitigate the risks of having our 'smart' phones following us around all day?

Obviously, none of these concerns are substantially different than existing network security risks. And the Law of Robotics angle is just sensationalism to get people thinking more about security. So... are you thinking?

Comment Gaming Evolution (Score 3, Interesting) 213 213

For the first few levels of Gamer, the game system matters quite a bit. Be it so you can collect 'em, min/max them, abuse them, or complain and contrast them. These levels tend to be an adrenaline filled ride, and quite a rush.

After Gamer level four, you start to get access to the skills which suggest the rules themselves aren't as important as you thought. And maybe you start to doctor up your own set of house rules errata, or start to blend aspects from various systems you like, or just start writing up your own.

Around Gamer level seven, the social and creative aspects of gaming can come into sharper focus. This also tends be around the time of the realization that the raw supplies for gaming aren't just coming from RPG and office supply companies... but rather from life itself. Creative inspiration can suddenly be found almost anywhere, not just from books, movies, and songs, but every cultural medium... every thought or emotion.

By level eleven (or sooner, from certain types of cross-class synergy) you tend to have open access to the skills that let you liberally apply your gaming experience to manipulate many of the rules found in life itself.

And since I'm here, I'd like to give a big shout out to those who gamers who breeched the teen levels. Your secrets remain safe with us.

Comment Re:Its venture capital (Score 1) 247 247

This is not venture capital, but donations. In my limited exposure to venture capital and other business investments, there is usually an ownership stake or some other form of equity being purchased.

Society has been dealing with snake oil salesmen for centuries. And civilization has come up with some novel concepts to fund ideas and protect against fraud. Back before we called it crowd sourcing, we called it the stock market. I think that might still be around in some form or another...

Comment Re:Cyberbullying (Score 1) 775 775

Consider this thought exercise. You have an idea that you find important. You think other people will find it important. You want to share it with others. You want people to remember the message long after the messenger. How do you spread your message?

I know I would personally prefer that as a society we have higher level political philosophy debates and discussions and less sound bites and attack ads. But a society tends to have a very short attention span. As individuals, we all tend to have more than enough on our plates at a personal level without having to scale our perceptions up to the broader political arena. So it might be more tasteful and civil if anti-Santorum groups put up sites that detail merely the hows of whys of what they disagree with, rather than vulgar imagery. Unfortunately, our brains tend to gloss over the logical and thoughtful debates, and fixate on the shocking and the vulgar. Which is why the most popular political ad remains the negative attack ad, and why SpreadingSantorum has elevated political displeasure into a decade long bathroom humor punchline that continues to delight and disgust.

Comment Re:agents provocateurs (Score 2) 566 566

It's actually even more complex than that. Police are now basically being required to do their own recording merely to provide evidence of their own side of the argument, to prevent any 'provocateurs' from rabble-rousing.

This leads to pressure in law enforcement to deploy even more invasive surveillance. We could have officers then being required to keep their own personal cameras running constantly merely to prevent them from self blatantly self censoring footage that is not advantageous to their own point of view. And while I'm not strictly against police officers being under additional scrutiny, I'm not sure how I'd feel if every officer showing up to a public or domestic disturbance call needs to be wearing personal video surveillance. How much public privacy are we willing to sacrifice in order to keep everyone honest?

If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it.

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