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Comment: China may have other reasons for their actions (Score 2) 30

I know that it's popular to believe that China just wants to stop Bitcoin because it can't control it and while that may be part of the reasoning behind their actions, there are possibly other reasons as well. My last 2 girlfriends were Chinese and I mean "born and raised in China". In China as the stock market is fairly new thing and the general population doesn't understand it very well, there are a lot of misconceptions about how it works. I had issues with money with both of them, although slightly different issues with each. The 2nd one had this belief I couldn't ever correct that everybody can get rich by simply buying the correct stocks and she didn't understand why I wasn't a millionaire or how it was even possible to not make tons of money on every stock available. The first one didn't understand anything about the stock market so that wasn't specifically an issue, but what ended up being an issue was a huge disconnect between her lifestyle expectations and the reality of my salary should we get married. She dumped me and went looking for someone with a lot more in the bank. The reason I bring this up is that my experience is that people in China just assume they can get rich without doing any kind of work to reach that goal. Just buy the right stocks and you'll be rich. If it was that easy, believe me, everybody would be doing that. Or "Why aren't you saving 100% of your salary?" from the first one. I think some of this may be that the government is trying to protect its citizens from themselves so they don't have to deal with massive Bitcoin ripoffs and scams that will inevitably result from an uneducated public buying them thinking that in a year or two they're all going to be rich.

Comment: Re:Wait... what? (Score 4, Interesting) 228

by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (#49337265) Attached to: How Nuclear Weapon Modernization Undercuts Disarmament

Seriously... if you use a nuke first these days, the entire planet will cut you off, if they don't come at you with everything they have. If you were nuked first, then the taboo has already been broken, and the world would almost expect you to unleash hell on whoever bombed you.

I realize that global politics is a lot more subtle and complex than most folks realize, and maybe I'm wrong, but on this subject, it seems pretty damned cut and dried.

I really couldn't disagree more. If Russia or China nuked anybody, there would be a lot of world wide anger, but any actual acts against them? Ha ha ha ha ha. Even the USA's BFF the UK really could not possibly be more of China's bitch on a constant basis.

Here's how I see the nuclear powers.
Bad actors: Russia, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea.
Good actors: USA, France, UK, Israel.
I doubt that any of the "good actors" would ever use a nuclear device first. Putin may be just trying to make everybody else think he's unbalanced or he may actually be crazy enough to possibly use a nuke first. I'm not happy with either possibility. India probably wouldn't use a nuke first, but Pakistan may be crazy or irrational enough to do so. North Korea is definitely irrational enough to do so. I doubt that China's civilian government would use a nuke as a first choice, but I fear that the Communist Party may not have as great a control over the PLA as they'd like to think and if the PLA has the ability to launch strikes without the CCP giving the order, there just might be generals crazy enough to do it because they don't believe anybody has the guts to make them pay for it. No amount of public pressure can make the 'bad actors" I listed back off and if anybody honestly thinks the USA, France and the UK are the greatest threats to the world, then you're delusional to a point that nobody can bring you back from.

Comment: Why Contacting your Congresscritter won't work (Score 4, Insightful) 186

by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (#49335699) Attached to: New Bill Would Repeal Patriot Act
I have to admit to being surprised at how many posts suggest that contacting your Congresscritter will actually work. Those days are long gone for several reasons.
1) The Supreme Court ruling that basically allows virtually limitless campaign contributions means that reps and senators no longer have to depend on the public for financing, meaning that they can do whatever they want and if Big Money likes it, they'll get re-election money. I don't see this as anything Big Money cares about.
2) There's a possibility that the majority of Americans may actually be in favor of the Patriot Act. I know that it's common for American Slashdotters to believer that the entire nation agrees with them politically, but I believe that in fact the majority of Americans are not troubled at all by the things that drive American Slashdotters mad.
3) Voters have proven for decades that they don't pay attention to issues at all, they have short memories, and they merely vote on party lines every time. Incumbents have little incentive to listen to the voters when they can literally do anything short of breaking the law and handily get re-elected. And polls have laughingly shown that year after year the US electorate wants to "throw everybody out, except my representative/senator" and they fail to grasp that when the entire country insists that their rep/senator isn't the problem but yours is, nothing will ever change.

Comment: Is the linked article on techworm a fake? (Score 1) 317

I have to ask - Is the linked article on techworm a fake? It's the first link in the parent post. The quality of English there is just a little bit off. It's not quite natural sounding. It's like something someone would say when writing as a second language when their skills are very good, but not fluent. The article reads a bit like an email spam as a result.

Comment: Re:What on earth (Score 4, Funny) 234

by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (#49293647) Attached to: No Fuel In the Fukushima Reactor #1

I think they are trying to be clever and play on the term China Syndrome, where the fuel melts all the way through the earth to it's Antipodal point.

Thank you as I had no idea at all what this was. I think somewhere Dennis Miller is reading this and saying "Even by my standards that's obscure."

Comment: Re:Dialects != Language (Score 1) 667

by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (#49266613) Attached to: Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English'

Linguists know that a language is just a dialect with an army.

To a certain extent you have a point, but I wouldn't say you're completely correct with that statement. I believe that the most correct statement I ever read on the subject was where a linguist said that it's up to the speakers of a language to determine what is a dialect and what is a separate language. German and Dutch are regarded as separate languages by their speakers yet the degree of mutual intelligibility is extremely high. Spanish and Portuguese are probably roughly 90% the same but the speakers regard them as separate languages. Galician is even closer to Portuguese than Spanish and while it probably really should be a dialect of Portuguese, nobody gets upset that everybody thinks it's a separate language. Speakers of English from the UK or USA wouldn't regard Jamaican English as anything but a dialect. China's official policy is that there is one Chinese language and Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghaiese, Hakka, Min and others are simply dialects of I guess some theoretical single ancestor language, yet some of these "dialects" are as close to each other as English is to Polish. As far as the Romanian/Moldovan thing goes, you need to remember that the USSR stole Moldova during WWII and kept it and it was in their interest to promote the idea that Moldovans were culturally and linguistically distinct from Romanians. Romania never allowed Soviet troops to be stationed there and operated a relatively independent foreign policy during the Ceausescu era. The last thing the USSR wanted was large numbers of Moldovans seeking to rejoin Romania, hence they overpromoted the idea that Moldovan was a completely separate language. This idea is starting to fade in today's world and I would think that a majority of people in Moldova outside of Transnistria would easily admit that they speak Romanian, not some wildly different "Moldovan" language.

Comment: Even more to the story (Score 1) 386

You're quite right, but there's even more to the story that might be of interest to the readers here.

The Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, died in 1967 and some time later, I think in late 1968 or very early 1969, the group decided to hire a new manager. The Rolling Stone recommended Allen Klein. John Lennon met him and convinced Ringo Starr and George Harrison to agree to let him become the group's manager. Paul McCartney had been arguing for his father-in-law, Lee Eastman, to manage the group and refused to sign the contract with Klein, although the other signatures were enough to make him the manager anyway. Apparently John, George and Ringo believed that Eastman would favor Paul's interests over the rest of the group, so that was why they rejected him. In 1971, Paul sued to dissolve the group so he could get out from under Klein's control. John, George and Ringo all eventually turned on Klein as did the Rolling Stones. Paul became quite rich under Lee Eastman, so you can judge for yourself just how "bad" he would have been to have managed the group.

Klein's relationship with George unraveled first following some mismanagement of funds from the Concert for Bangladesh. The "My Sweet Lord" plagarsm case went through the court for decades. Yes, decades. Litigation began in 1971 and finally ended in 1998. To stick it to George, because Klein was nothing if not vindictive, eventually he bought the publishing company that had successfully sued George in the plagiarism case. In 1981, the original amount of damages assessed were reduced to George because of Klein's duplicity in being George's manager at the start of the legal case and then switching sides to being on the side seeking compensation. In the end George just bought the publishing company from Klein to help bring the situation to a close.

Comment: The reality of government work (Score 1) 609

by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (#49232867) Attached to: Clinton Regrets, But Defends, Use of Family Email Server
My first job after college was as a computer programmer for a branch of the US military that I don't like to name. I'm glad I did the job at the time and just as glad that I left for private industry 20+ years ago. The reality of government service is that big shots do whatever they want whether it makes sense or not and whether it's legal or not because the people under them who realize "Hey. That's NOT allowed!" don't have the authority to make them do what they are supposed to do and the people above them who do have the authority have bigger fish to fry. So nobody tells them "John Doe isn't following the rules on email" or whatever. Plus, people in the military and government are amazingly vindictive and if you complain about a superior doing something wrong/illegal, the person who is likely to pay for it is you, not them. So I totally understand how Hillary came up with this stupid idea to use her own email server and everybody below her was too scared to complain about it and Obama had bigger issues like Ben Laden to worry about than what server Hillary was using for email.

When I worked for the US military, we had a general who ran our base and he single handedly kept an ancient Vax system alive for his email. I had a job that got me into contact at times with fairly senior civilian managers and they used to complain about how they loved a new Unix based email system that the base had setup but the general refused to use it. He insisted on using an old Vax that at the time couldn't easily be integrated into the newer system for some kind of technical problem that had to be overcome, so the top military and civilian managers had to have an email account on the Vax just to see if the general sent them email, but everything they sent amongst themselves that didn't need to go to him went through the new system. The general finally had to retire and once he left, his successor didn't care anything about the old Vax email system, so it finally got shut down. So I've personally seen it where some big shot in the government just does whatever the heck they want to when it comes to email. I've wondered how much it cost in manpower and other costs to keep one old email system alive because one general refused to use anything else.

Comment: Re:What about military satellites (Score 1) 178

by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (#49215121) Attached to: MH370 Beacon Battery May Have Been Expired
There's been some speculation that somebody's military might have a really good idea about where the plane went and they aren't sharing it deliberately because it's in their strategic interest to not let other nations know that they have this capability. But ledow does have some rock solid arguments for why nobody may have noticed the flight at all and it may be that nobody paid enough attention to be able to help investigators know where it went. At this point either nobody knows anything or those who do know are deliberately not sharing, so it amounts to the same thing.

Comment: Snowden isn't coming - this is all a ruse (Score 1, Insightful) 671

Snowden isn't going to come to the USA willingly to face trial. This is all a ruse. His Russian handlers may just be messing with the US or it may be said to get some publicity. If Snowden really wanted to face justice, he wouldn't have done what he did. His handler is quite right that if Snowden leaves Russia he may end up extradited to the USA. Snowden is going to stay as a permanent "guest" of the USSR, cough cough, I mean Russian Republic as long as Putin is in charge and possibly longer. Wait for it - in the end Snowden or his handlers will say that he couldn't get the guarantees he needed about a fair trial, so he won't be coming. Even if he really wanted to leave and face US justice with no pre-conditions, I don't think Putin and his former KGB boys would let Snowden leave.

Comment: Re:"North Korean rebel movement" (Score 2) 62

by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (#49173187) Attached to: Inside the North Korean Data Smuggling Movement

Of course, this leaking in of foreign entertainment and information via USB sticks is becoming harder and harder to control and once the Kim family looses control of the propaganda war, things will change on their own. I think we are actually pretty close to the tipping point in some places in NK, but for now the fear of the Kim family is keeping things under control. Once the country tips though, there will be a short and intense period of violence that I hope stays contained within the country, but I fear will spill out to the south. Once that is over, North Korea will be split into two parts, one unified with the south and a portion annexed into China. I have no idea where the split will be.

I really could not disagree more. Victor Cha, who wrote the book _The Impossible State_ about North Korea, has actually been there and served under multiple US presidents as an expert on the regime. Cha says that the average person in North Korea is so busy just trying to survive day to day that it is impossible for any kind of revolution to spring up from the masses. This plan that information being smuggled in is going to make a huge difference is simply the unrealistic dream of a generation raised on Twitter who believes that if they retweet something from the front line, it's just as good or maybe even better than being on the front line themselves.

Keep in mind that the military is one of the very few things in North Korea that actually gets priority for the limited funds. They get food and weapons and a huge dose of propaganda to keep them in line. The only way the Kim family will fall is if the military steps in, but I don't see that as likely. I also don't think it's likely that North Korea will be split in half. As Cha points out in his book, while the Chinese have plenty of problems with North Korea in general and aren't crazy about it having nukes, which is why China is always pushing for them to stop doing nuclear testing, the reality is that China benefits from a dependent state there. They get valuable rare earths at a fraction of their value and China fears a unified Korea under the control of South Korea that might allow US troops to be stationed near the Chinese border and a South Korea that now has the North's nuclear arsenal.

A somewhat recent defector in her 20s participated late last year in an online chat and she said that she thinks that few people in North Korea really believe the propaganda about the Kims, but life there is so tough that they don't have time to think about a big change. And I think that few North Koreans really believe or understand just how different life is in the south and the developed world. It wouldn't surprise me if some people believed that our movies and information are just our propaganda to deceive them. Keep in mind that North Koreans are essentially told all the time by their government "Yes, life here is very hard, but it's even worse in the countries of our enemies. This is why we must be ever vigilant to protect our lives here." I just don't see any of this stuff making much difference. If you read Cha's book you will see how brilliantly the North Korean government has been able to stifle dissent over the years.

Comment: Re:but I'll defend to the death your right to say (Score 1, Insightful) 285

I'm unimpressed by Google's position: in other countries they push back against restriction on free speech. It seem incongrous to impose speech limitations in the US, which actually has the right to free speech as part of their constitution.

No offense, but like most non-lawyers you fail to understand what "part of the constitution" really means in reality. Your right to free speech or for that matter anything is not infinite. SCOTUS judges Thomas and Scalia, both as conservative as they come, stated a few years ago in a 2nd amendment case that the 2nd amendment didn't mean that there could never be any restrictions on guns at all. Your right to free speech is not infinite either, with the classic example that you certainly don't have the right to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater when there is no fire, cause a panic and maybe get some people killed, and then say that nothing can be done to you because you have a free speech right to do that.

Google is not the government. While the US government has rather severe restrictions on being able to limit your speech because of the constitution, private employers do not have the same restrictions. SCOTUS has ruled on many "free speech" cases and consistently found that employers, schools, etc. have a right to limit speech in a way that would be seen as a violation of the constitution if the government were to do it. I'm not a lawyer but I can tell you that the simple legal argument against your position is that Google is not stopping you from using other blogs which may have completely different policies and thus your rights are not being violated.

Comment: Re:No New Law From That (Score 1) 246

Hopefully the guy's learned his lesson. Pulling a BB gun on a drug dealer seems like a pretty good way of getting yourself killed.

Maybe you didn't pay attention to the linked article if you said that. Did you watch Breaking Bad? To put it in terms of the show, the "drug dealer" in question was like Skinny Pete or Badger, not Jesse Pinkman or Walter White or crazy Tuco.

Comment: Re:After reading the article (Score 4, Interesting) 126

I have to conclude that the jury was populated by a group of retards.

I'm American. I last served on a jury in 2005. I have been called to jury duty once since then and was luckily not picked for the case I was a possible juror for. I've served twice as a juror including in 2005 and the whole process has made me incredibly cynical about US "justice", which I deliberately put in quote marks there. Anyway, in my 2005 service, we were hearing a case that was surprisingly complex and involved multiple charges, but you might put it under the umbrella heading of "property damage". We were in the jury room one morning waiting to go hear the day's testimony and I remember being appalled as 3 of my fellow jurors all got into an argument with each other over who was stupider when it came to computers. Each guy in turn tried to top the other ones by showing how he was far stupider about computers than the other 2. Out of 13 jurors, which includes one alternate, I believe that only 2 of us had jobs that might be called "professional". The others were roofers and holders of various jobs that don't require any college education. These are the kinds of people who serve on juries. So I have no problem believing that the jury you refer to was totally made up of technological idiots who had no hope of understanding the complex issues presented to them, let alone rendering a just verdict.

I'm not sure that a lot of people would be really comfortable if they truly understood the kind of horse trading that goes on in juries all the time. "Ok, we've got 7 votes for guilty on charge #2 and 5 votes for guilty on charge number #3, so how about we agree to vote guilty on #2 and innocent on #3 so we can all go home?"

Comment: Re:FreeBSD (Score 2) 755

by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (#49061873) Attached to: Removing Libsystemd0 From a Live-running Debian System

Rock solid stability.

Good for you, but heed my warning. In the latter part of the previous decade we too ran FreeBSD. The guy who originally installed was a system admin with severe BSD lust and he singlehandedly pushed for it. We had a specific type of hardware where we could make FreeBSD panic and we could reproduce the crash at will. It turned out that a specific combination of CPU and network card that we had caused the panic. The issue was known and discussed about, but since the number of people who had this specific combination of hardware was low, basically the BSD forums all said "Sucks to be you. Don't count on a fix anytime soon." We migrated every FreeBSD box we had to CentOS (this is a free version of RedHat, for those who don't know) and abandoned FreeBSD. The problem did not exist in CentOS/RedHat. So as long as you don't have any exotic problems, good for you, but if you do, you may find that unlike in the Linux world, nobody may care enough to fix a show stopping problem you have.

If a thing's worth having, it's worth cheating for. -- W.C. Fields