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Comment Re:Under what authority? (Score 1) 284 284

the law seems to be "whatever the fuck the police say it is until a court tells them otherwise".

Yes, it has always worked that way, an arrest is not a conviction, it's an unproven claim. Body/car cams on cops may weed out some of the bad apples but here in Oz the cops are on the whole are decent people doing a dirty job and it should be noted that the vast majority of the body cam videos show citizens behaving badly and cops behaving with self-restraint and caution.

Having said that, when the cop's political masters start outfitting police stations like they do a military base and promote the regular use of guerilla tactics such as "no knocks" and swat teams in a residential setting, you are a fair way down the road to a police state, which is an entirely different thing to a police force. As the Stanford prison experiments so vividly demonstrated humans very rapidly descend into a violent master/slave relationship if the environment they find themselves in meets certain criteria (eg: Abu Ghraib, Nazi Germany).

It's a very deep seated behaviour in humans, we all have a ruthless dictator and a cowering slave with us just waiting for the right environmental triggers to emerge. Religious people have called it "good" and "evil" for millennia but incorrectly blamed it on angels and demons (as opposed to the naturally evolved behaviour of our species). Other than being aware we are all susceptible we can't do much to avoid such behaviour in ourselves, but we can set up political and social systems that discourage such environments from forming in the first place. The fact the US still embraces the death penalty and has such a high number of prisoners compared to the rest of the planet, is IMO a 'canary in the coal mine' for the emergence of a police state, statistically speaking the canary is dangling from its perch by one leg.

Comment The argument is "leaky" at best too (Score 4, Informative) 156 156

Pathogens don't "learn". They evolve, ok. They adapt, ok. But they aren't sentient. They are not thinking. And especially they aren't thinking "hey, if they vaccinate, they won't die anyway, at least not as fast, so let's get more deadly!" This isn't the fucking Pandemic flash game for crying out loud!

There is no interest of killing a host for a parasite. It's an side effect. Unintended, and actually harmful for the parasite in the long run. Just like poisoning the seas is harmful for us. We ain't some comic book villain who does it for ... well, for being evil. We do it 'cause it cuts costs. The oil spill is only the side effect, not the reason we do it.

So yes, they COULD get more deadly because we don't die as fast and a more deadly mutated strain would kill itself off with the host if there was no vaccination. But that is hardly an argument against vaccination. It only means that at worst we're with vaccination where we are now without. AT WORST. If, and only if, the pathogens mutate in such a way that they get more deadly. Which is neither in their interest nor anything they would (evolutionary) strive for.

What's the benefit for a pathogen to be more deadly? Killing the host is actually bad for it, since that ends spreading (with this host at least).

Comment Re:Not surprising at all (Score 1) 65 65

Let's assume that the general education requirements of most college educations (ie, some smattering of English literature & composition, arts, bit of a foreign language, social studies, etc) actually does result in those students coming out slightly more knowledgeable than if they would have had even an "advanced" kind of technical education.

It's a reach, I know, but let's say they are overall a little smarter (ie, learned some new analytical skills & strategies) and are better informed.

I wonder if we're actually better off from this. Not because people aren't smarter or better informed, but because they're only a little smarter and a little better informed and they overestimate how well they informed they are and how good their analytical skills are.

On a mass scale, I wonder how much our political divisiveness and partisanship is driven by a whole bunch of people, who think they're smarter and better informed than they really are, taking sides -- often quite stridently -- on issues they don't really know about and reaching conclusions they don't really have the analytical tools to reach.

Add in the fact that everyone is an Internet Expert on everything they can read in Wikipedia and you have this recipe for high-quality mass ignorance and confirmation bias trying to portray itself as an educated populace.

If we moved the overwhelming majority of these people into a more advanced and focused vocational education that left out the "well rounded" part, would our *actual* ignorance as opposed to overestimated wisdom make us less partisan? Or would we just be even more gullible, swayed by propaganda, etc?

Comment Debian on an Ultra 5 (Score 1) 138 138

The standard desktop at the company I work for used to be a Sun Ultra 5, and when the company imploded I picked an Ultra 5 with a fast processor (400 MHz), put some more memory in it, took it home and put Debian on it. It worked fine. Entirely decent interactive performance, like a fast Pentium 2. Not a box for video editing or other high-CPU/bandwidth activities, but fine otherwise.

I was amused to note that it wasn't a Windows box, so it was immune to Windows attacks. It wasn't an x86 box, so it was immune to x86 attacks. I guess I amuse easily. :-)

We had a pile of 32 bit SparcStations. We (literally) couldn't give them away.


Comment Re:Something IS Wrong (Score 1) 338 338

I can dissolve that conspiracy theory: They are more afraid of someone finding a way to bypass their input sanitizers than losing money from hacks. So no characters are allowed that could possibly, remotely, be considered "active" or "command" characters in any language they could probably think of.

Also, most, if not all, of the hacks happen due to people getting their passwords stolen by trojans and the like rather than someone actually guessing the passwords.

Comment Re:Salted your passwords (Score 1) 338 338

Provided that we now know how your passwords are created, finding your password is essentially not harder or easier than before. From a technical point of view of course. Actually, it probably is much easier now considering that, since you probably rely on your creation algorithm to introduce enough entropy, you probably choose simpler passwords.

Comment That's your problem? (Score 1) 338 338

Given that most of these webpages are also the ones where you have to answer some "secret" question to recover your password, it's kinda moot to select a secure password.

What is it you say? "Instead of giving a real answer to the "secret" question, simply use another randomly generated string?"

That's a good idea. Until the admin of the page locks your account because "you obviously are a robot, because humans don't do this".

The problem runs far, far deeper, people...

Many people write memos to tell you they have nothing to say.