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Journal: Question for any reading this 1

Journal by Marxist Hacker 42

My wife is looking for a Wifi network security camera for the daycare. Ideally, we want one that we can set up an account on a remote server with a username and password that we share with parents.

Anybody have any suggestions?

Comment: Re:What? (Score 0) 79

by Greyfox (#48937395) Attached to: Alibaba Face Off With Chinese Regulator Over Fake Products
Yeah, if you're in the market for cheap plastic crap and aren't terribly picky about quality, that's definitely the place to go. Hopefully that's not where my doctor goes to get his pee-hole probulators. There are some goods where cheap wal-mart quality simply won't do. Hello Kitty Branded dildos, yes, pee-hole probes, no. Because you know if that goddamn thing breaks off inside you, doc's gonna have to go for the forceps, which were probably also made for cheap in China. And you know, next thing you know, you have 18 things broken off and stuck up your pee hole. All because your goddamn PPO thought it'd be a good idea to do bargain-basement shopping for dick probing. And also didn't think you might maybe want some drugs when some guy is digging around up your pee hole. Entirely hypothetically speaking, naturally.

Comment: Past US history has problematical parts & prog (Score 1) 103

by Paul Fernhout (#48932071) Attached to: Snowden Documents: CSE Tracks Millions of Downloads Daily

Yes, bad things are happening. But unless we remember and celebrate the past successes, we may more easily give way to despair.

Examples of problematical episodes from US history: The McCarthy era in the 1950s, the internment of Japanese-Americans in the 1940s, the US Eugenics movement in the 1930s and before -- where the Nazis got the idea, the lynching of black citizens in the South along with a US white supremacy movement (again, long before "Arianism" took hold in Germany), the tragic Civil War of the 1870s, and many more such things... Plus so much problematical foreign policy, including grabbing big parts of Mexico and invading Canada multiple times, not to mention the systematic genocide committed against the Native Americans to steal their land (the US Army's primary function in early years was taking part in all that). The USA may criticize China's "human rights" record, but the US past is filled with many horrors that may be far worse than things China is doing now (even in Tibet etc.).

Governments always demand to be respected in various ways. Those ways may change over time. Yes, there are bad trends, and bad episodes, some still ongoing and growing like you and others including me point to, but the USA has muddled through them in the past. Some wrongs have been righted decades later (even as "justice delayed is justice denied"); others have yet to be resolved. Generally, the successes are helped along by efforts from citizens, as in: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. (Margaret Mead)".

I can urge you to read "A People's History of the United States" to get a broader perspective on all this regarding the USA. It is a perspective not taught in the past in most US classrooms or probably still in most civics classes for immigrants. It is the history of US citizens struggling repeatedly to control a government and industry (the two being intertwined), to keep them accountable to human needs. It is full of examples both of successes and failures. Here is an online version, but it is probably available in any major book store:
http://www.historyisaweapon.co...

Another good book is John Gardner's 1971 book "Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society". Here I quote what he says and comment on it:
http://p2pfoundation.net/backu...
""As I was browsing in a university bookstore recently, I heard an apple-cheeked girl say to her companion, "The truth is that our society and everything in it is in a state of decay." I studied her carefully and I must report that she did not seem even slightly decayed. But what of the society as a whole? Decay is hardly the word for what is happening to us. We are witnessing changes so profound and far-reaching that the mind can hardly grasp all the implications. ... Only the blind and complacent could fail to recognize the great tasks of renewal facing us -- in government, in education, ..."
    John Gardner goes on to say that every generation faces the problem of renewing itself to meet new challenges emerging from the very success of the old ways of doing things. And he suggests that social values are not some drying up old reservoir, but rather a reservoir of variable capacity that must be recharged anew in every generation. [He also suggests every generation must re-learn for itself what the words carved on the stone monuments really mean.]
    Democracy -- use it or lose it.
    Free speech on the internet -- use it or lose it.
    Social capital -- use it or lose it?
    P2P -- use it or lose it? :-)
    Again, Gardner's book was written in 1971, so, about forty years ago. Although it's true the last thirty years in the USA has pretty much been a disaster socially ("greed is good"), even if technically we have advanced, and there has at least also been a growing environmental consciousness."

This history of bad episodes (or government overreach) is not unique to the USA also. Even in the USSR and China and Germany in the past, things changed for the better after a period of tighter government controls (and yet may cycle again). And before those improvements, people learn the limits of the system and how to work creatively within them.

That does not mean a lot of people don't suffer in the meanwhile though... Or that such tight controls may not weaken a country to the point of internal collapse or incapacity to deal with an external threat. As in someone's sig on Slashdot, "if your country doesn't fight for you, why should you fight for it?" Other than through ignorance or misinformation or propaganda... A video game that explores that theme, btw:
"Beyond Good & Evil (video game)"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B...

Still, given the USA has a lot of nukes (and maybe plagues and such), that does not mean this time it won't be different and the USA won't take the whole world with if if it descends further into fearful selfish self-destructive madness. That's in part what worries me most -- that the elite is essentially playing a game of "chicken" in that sense with the rest of the US population and the world. As in, "Give us everything we want (which is indeed everything) or the world will be destroyed as it plunges into chaos we created by our previous selfishness and paranoia".

There is also an aspect that when bureaucracy becomes enshrined in automated systems backed by police robots (e.g. Elysium), there may be no end to institutionalized cruelty. That can be true even though history has shown us enough of such cruelty when bureaucracies are just staffed by humans. (like the Nazi Holocaust powered by punched cards and patriotism and fear). But once all humans are purged from such bureaucracies, there is less room for "humanity" in at least some of the decisions at the edges. One can see that in, say, John Taylor Gatto's accomplishments as a school teacher in NYC helping kids to learn anyway (like helping them find apprenticeships), even when it was against the rules.

I agree a lot of bad things are happening (another example is "border checkpoints" 100 miles inland), just as a lot of bad things have happened. I'm just saying, we don't really know what will happen this time, even with intense surveillance. Probably, as another reply suggests, it will get worse in many ways before it become better. As I suggest elsewhere, intense surveillance is also an opportunity to set a good example and educate the watchers...
"On dealing with social hurricanes (like the US CIA) "
http://www.pdfernhout.net/on-d...

But at the same time there is much positive change going on. To take just one positive example (in part by researchers and some free market dynamics and limited government support), just look at how power from solar panels is now (or soon) about a cheap as power from coal. When I was a boy in the 1970s in the USA, everyone was afraid of social collapse from running out of oil. While some still fear that, anyone who looks at the falling prices of solar PV since the 1970s knows that "Peak Oil" is not going to be a civilization destroying event like we feared back then.

As another example of positive change (in part by some government regulation, especially at the state level), back then, rivers in the USA would catch fire! That does not happen in the USA now due to decades of progress from the environmental movement (even if China now has a similar environmental problems).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C...
http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

Before that, in the 1930s, Pittsburgh had air so choked with coal smog that the buildings were blackened and people suffered and died from the bad air, which is such a change from the Pittsburgh of today (even if China is repeating some of the same mistakes, but also now working to correct them). Some pictures are here:
http://www.treehugger.com/slid...

This one shows a Pittsburgh building being cleaned, and you can see how dirty they were:
http://www.treehugger.com/slid...

Or as another example, when I was a boy, the "Russians" were the enemy. They were evil. The Russian people were trapped and unable to communicate with the outside world. It is hard to explain how much the USSR was feared and hated and despised and pitied in the USA decades ago. We were all ready to blow up the world with nuclear weapons rather than have any Russian influence spread ("Better dead than Red"). Decades later a Russian emigre graduate professor taught me advanced math (a person who had learned math helping his father design missile guidance systems to target the USA). Americans are learning from Russian medical breakthroughs like with phage therapy for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. We have an international space station together and Russian rockets put Americans into space. My own kid now plays "World of Tanks" alongside Russian citizens on the WOT test server, working together with Russians and communicating as allies (granted, against another team of mixed-nationality players). Star Trek presaged this in the 1960s, with Chekov on the bridge of the Enterprise. We even now have instant translators of languages (to some degree), something that was just sci-fi back in the 1960s
https://translate.google.com/

Of course, sadly, now and then people beat the war drums that China is the implacable "enemy". That was ramping up just before 9/11/2001, but then suddenly went quiet for a time after 9/11. Or now its essentially the whole Muslim world or maybe Afghanis or Iraqis that is the "enemy" (ignoring how most of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, our supposed ally, who the US president just visited with the change in king).

Another example is a bi-racial person becoming President of the USA. Granted, his politics are mostly just more of the same old corporatism, but such an election result would have been unthinkable to most US Americans in the 1950s (let alone his parent's marriage being illegal in the USA in some places and times).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A...
"Anti-miscegenation laws or miscegenation laws were laws that enforced racial segregation at the level of marriage and intimate relationships by criminalizing interracial marriage and sometimes also sex between members of different races. Such laws were first introduced in North America from the late seventeenth century onwards by several of the Thirteen Colonies, and subsequently by many US states and US territories and remained in force in many US states until 1967."

So, even as since the 1970s (or before) the USA has gotten worse in some ways, it has gotten better in others. And we still have a long way to go, including an unending struggle as previous hard-won rights like "overtime pay" are chipped away until they (hopefully) get restored.
"Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?"
http://it.slashdot.org/story/1...

Here is a book with more optimism:
"Blessed Unrest"
http://www.blessedunrest.com/
"A leading environmentalist and social activist's examination of the worldwide movement for social and environmental change
    Paul Hawken has spent over a decade researching organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice.
From billion-dollar nonprofits to single-person dot.causes, these groups collectively comprise the largest movement on earth, a movement that has no name, leader, or location, and that has gone largely ignored by politicians and the media. Like nature itself, it is organizing from the bottom up, in every city, town, and culture. and is emerging to be an extraordinary and creative expression of people's needs worldwide.
    Blessed Unrest explores the diversity of the movement, its brilliant ideas, innovative strategies, and hidden history, which date back many centuries. A culmination of Hawken's many years of leadership in the environmental and social justice fields, it will inspire and delight any and all who despair of the world's fate, and its conclusions will surprise even those within the movement itself. Fundamentally, it is a description of humanity's collective genius, and the unstoppable movement to reimagine our relationship to the environment and one another."

Comment: Thanks for the first-hand perspective on old China (Score 2) 103

by Paul Fernhout (#48929735) Attached to: Snowden Documents: CSE Tracks Millions of Downloads Daily

See also, for an old German example: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/...
"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. ..This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. ... To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it -- please try to believe me -- unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, "regretted," that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these "little measure"â(TM) that no "patriotic German" could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head. ..."

That said, every country is different, with different strengths and weaknesses in different situations. It is not clear how it all will play out in the USA. Like Howard Zinn wrote in 2004, on "The Optimism of Uncertainty":
http://www.commondreams.org/vi...
"In this awful world where the efforts of caring people often pale in comparison to what is done by those who have power, how do I manage to stay involved and seemingly happy? I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning.
    To play, to act, is to create at least a possibility of changing the world. There is a tendency to think that what we see in the present moment will continue. We forget how often we have been astonished by the sudden crumbling of institutions, by extraordinary changes in people's thoughts, by unexpected eruptions of rebellion against tyrannies, by the quick collapse of systems of power that seemed invincible. What leaps out from the history of the past hundred years is its utter unpredictability. This confounds us, because we are talking about exactly the period when human beings became so ingenious technologically that they could plan and predict the exact time of someone landing on the moon, or walk down the street talking to someone halfway around the earth.
    Let's go back a hundred years. A revolution to overthrow the tsar of Russia, in that most sluggish of semi-feudal empires, not only startled the most advanced imperial powers, but took Lenin himself by surprise and sent him rushing by train to Petrograd. Given the Russian Revolution, who could have predicted Stalin's deformation of it, or Khrushchev's astounding exposure of Stalin, or Gorbachev's succession of surprises? Who would have predicted the bizarre shifts of World War II-the Nazi-Soviet pact (those embarrassing photos of von Ribbentrop and Molotov shaking hands), and the German army rolling through Russia, apparently invincible, causing colossal casualties, being turned back at the gates of Leningrad, on the western edge of Moscow, in the streets of Stalingrad, followed by the defeat of the German army, with Hitler huddled in his Berlin bunker, waiting to die?
    And then the post-war world, taking a shape no one could have drawn in advance: The Chinese Communist revolution, which Stalin himself had given little chance. And then the break with the Soviet Union, the tumultuous and violent Cultural Revolution, and then another turnabout, with post-Mao China renouncing its most fervently held ideas and institutions, making overtures to the West, cuddling up to capitalist enterprise, perplexing everyone. No one foresaw the disintegration of the old Western empires happening so quickly after the war, or the odd array of societies that would be created in the newly independent nations, from the benign village socialism of Nyerere's Tanzania to the madness of Idi Amin's adjacent Uganda.
    Spain became an astonishment. A million died in the civil war, which ended in victory for the Fascist Franco, backed by Hitler and Mussolini. I recall a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade telling me that he could not imagine Spanish Fascism being overthrown without another bloody war. But after Franco was gone, a parliamentary democracy came into being, open to Socialists, Communists, anarchists, everyone. In other places too, deeply entrenched dictatorships seemed suddenly to disintegrate-in Portugal, Argentina, the Philippines, Iran. ...
  Consider the remarkable transformation, in just a few decades, in people's consciousness of racism, in the bold presence of women demanding their rightful place, in a growing public awareness that gays are not curiosities but sensate human beings, in the long-term growing skepticism about military intervention despite brief surges of military madness. It is that long-term change that I think we must see if we are not to lose hope. Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; it reproduces itself by crippling our willingness to act. Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society.
    We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Even when we don't "win," there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that we have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile. We need hope. An optimist isn't necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places-and there are so many-where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. "

Comment: Re:Getting Greece to be 99% self-sufficient (Score 1) 327

Many economic models are possible (including subsistence, gift, exchange, and planned, or a mix). The choice depends what sort of society you want and what your priorities are and what your cultural history is. For example, "Palace Economies" and "Water Empires" have lasted for centuries:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H...

I'm not holding central planning as an ideal though. What I write was that at one extreme, one can imagine a reasonable well-planned society that supplies the necessities of life to everyone for essentially no labor needed, leaving everyone lots of free time to do other stuff (including make more things for themselves, raise children, hang out with friends, participate in politics, whatever). There are societies like the ancient Incas that were modeled around this for centuries (explained in the Palace Economy Wikipedia article). It worked for many people for lots of time.

Even the USSR economy "worked", but with lots of problems, including the USA trying to undermine it. If the USSR had not "worked" for decades, why was the USA so afraid of it?

One question to ask is, for most people, is what we have now as a "free market" (although we don't; it is more corporatism and oligarchy), especially in a place like Greece suffering from economic turmoil, better than this planned model, especially given today's materials and automation and so on?

The fact is, so much of our economy is "planned" in so many ways in advance. How many people are involved in deciding what the next iPhone looks like, for example? Granted, it Apple guesses wrong, it may make less profits -- although Apple is a bit of a monopoly in a sense at this point as a close system of apps and such, so almost anything not terrible will sell to the Apple faithful.

However, there are other models people may like better for various reasons.

Imagine, for example, an economy where everyone used the "like" button on Facebook to control what goods would be produced. Limit the number of "likes" per person and you essentially have an economy directed by individuals with a "basic income".

I also wrote there that at another extreme, "... we could have a freewheeling diverse gift economy of local open manufacturing...".

The internet has many aspects of a gift economy. Coupled with improved 3D printing for local on-demand production, this may totally transform our economy, since even if it is hard for a planned economy to get right how many blue shoes people, it is much easier to plan to ensure everyone has a certain amount of raw materials for their 3D printers and enough electricity to run them (or 3D print solar panels or maybe someday cold fusion devices).

What would you object about, say, a plan to create a FOSS commons of free designs and to put a (futuristic, multi-material) 3D printer in every home with enough material and power to use it to print a wide range of consumer goods from shoes to car parts to solar panels? With food supplied from mostly automated indoor agriculture? What is wrong about that as a a baseline from which people could build from in a troubled Greece? Or, what is wrong with the idea, except, of course, that it might put a lot of current industries out of business and change the balance of power in Greek society (and Europe) back to the average citizen?

The Debian project is a bit like an economy controlled by email and IRC chat messages. :-) Mixed with a gift economy. And also exchange with paid workers like at RedHat working on init stuff -- unfortunately pushing stuff like systemd perhaps so RedHat can take over Linux and profit from that as suggested by someone else in such discussions on Slashdot?

There can be many virtues to the market in delivering goods people think feel want. I say "feel" because of advertising. Some people also get addicted to drugs after a drug pusher gets them to try "free" samples; it's not clear how "free" that is.

Also, a "free market" in practice needs to have regulation and transfer payments. For more ideas on that, see:
http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesa...
"Most importantly for our purposes, markets can be reconstructed to make it possible to plan for a more egalitarian economic future. It turns out it is possible for strong governments to use the market system for planning. Once it is realized that markets can be viewed from a governmental point of view as administrative instruments for planning, it can be seen that with a little reconfiguring they can serve collective purposes as well as the individual consumer preferences trumpeted by conservative free market economists. In this form of planning, the information is supplied by the price system that is so central to the considerable, but far from perfect, efficiency brought about by markets. ... There is thus no need for one big planning apparatus. Instead, the planning tools within a reconstructed market system are simply taxes, subsidies, government purchases, and regulation."

It's true planned economies could be done badly. But the same is true of free markets in practice, given monopolies, wealth centralization, regulatory capture, lobbying and (legal) vote buying by the wealthiest, and a host of other potential problems.

When a country runs out of tear gas, isn't that a hint that it is possible for something to go wrong seriously with a market leaving many people unhappy? What went wrong (in a deep way)? How can it be fixed? There are lots of options...

Comment: Re:Implement locally? (Score 1) 145

by Greyfox (#48923585) Attached to: How One Small Company Blocked 15.1 Million Robocalls Last Year
There is no situation I could be in where an incoming call is important enough to warrant my immediate attention. There's a guy at work whose wife is expecting a baby, I assume he's made arrangements for immediate contact. Maybe his wife should have a talk with him about working for a company that lets him work from home.

The old asterisk voice menu system I used to run was pretty good at shutting down telemarketers and robocallers while still letting legitimate callers through. I don't think it'd be so easy to implement on an android phone, although it really should be. Maybe that phone Canonical is working on will have more open standards, but I'm not holding my breath.

Comment: And it got started with the Flexner Report in 1910 (Score 1) 140

by Paul Fernhout (#48920317) Attached to: Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F...
"The Flexner Report[1] is a book-length study of medical education in the United States and Canada, written by Abraham Flexner and published in 1910 under the aegis of the Carnegie Foundation. Many aspects of the present-day American medical profession stem from the Flexner Report and its aftermath.
    The Report (also called Carnegie Foundation Bulletin Number Four) called on American medical schools to enact higher admission and graduation standards, and to adhere strictly to the protocols of mainstream science in their teaching and research. Many American medical schools fell short of the standard advocated in the Flexner Report, and subsequent to its publication, nearly half of such schools merged or were closed outright. Colleges in electrotherapy were closed. The Report also concluded that there were too many medical schools in the USA, and that too many doctors were being trained. A repercussion of the Flexner Report, resulting from the closure or consolidation of university training, was reversion of American universities to male-only admittance programs to accommodate a smaller admission pool. Universities had begun opening and expanding female admissions as part of women's and co-educational facilities only in the mid-to-latter part of the 19th century with the founding of co-educational Oberlin College in 1833 and private colleges such as Vassar College and Pembroke College. ...
    Flexner viewed blacks as inferior and advocated closing all but 2 of the historically black medical schools. His opinions were followed and only Howard and Meharry were left open, while 5 other schools were closed. His perspective was that black doctors should only treat black patients and should serve roles subservient to white physicians. The closure of these schools and the fact that black students were not admitted to many medical schools in the USA for 50 years after Flexner has contributed to the low numbers of American born physicians of color and the ramifications are still felt more than a 100 years later. ..."

What has happened recently though to address the shortage of doctors in the USA is that Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants are doing more of the hands-on work, and new careers like health coaches are showing up, knowledge about nutrition (the basis of health) is spreading through a variety of sources and practitioners from chefs to nutritionists to writers and movie makers, and we are all turning to the internet more for health care advice...

Doctors are becoming more and more like technicians controlling a prescription pad in the process -- which is sad for a bunch of reasons. As Dr. Fuhrman says, many prescriptions are just "permission slips" for continuing bad behavior including eating poorly.

And some specific specialties like oncology and cardiology are being called scams...
"Scientific Studies Show Angioplasty and Stent Placement are Essentially Worthless"
  https://www.drfuhrman.com/libr...
"Exposing the fraud and mythology of conventional cancer treatments"
http://www.naturalnews.com/033...

Meanwhile: http://www.pdfernhout.net/to-j...
"From Marcia Angell:
        http://www.nybooks.com/article...
        "The problems I've discussed are not limited to psychiatry, although they reach their most florid form there. Similar conflicts of interest and biases exist in virtually every field of medicine, particularly those that rely heavily on drugs or devices. It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.""

We can predict everything, except the future.

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