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Comment: Snowden isn't coming - this is all a ruse (Score 1, Insightful) 567

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) 61

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) 241

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.

Comment: Re:Cellphone for kids... (Score 1) 327

by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (#49038477) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Panic Button a Very Young Child Can Use

I am guessing that he did not look very hard...

Or the thought simply never occurred to him that somebody might make a simplistic cellphone like this. It sure didn't ever occur to me. With all the movement towards phones that are getting bigger all the time and more complex, I had no idea that such phones existed. Your post is the first I've ever heard of this phone. I've never seen one advertised. Your post was helpful, but the whole "You should have thought of this" attitude really wasn't.

Comment: Re:This is (sort of) good news for Americans (Score 2, Insightful) 215

by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (#49037865) Attached to: Russia Seeking To Ban Tor, VPNs and Other Anonymizing Tools

oh, so Putin invaded three countries immediately following the world trade centre incident on the pretext of finding the one man they held responsible? No wait, that was the United States. Putin bombed Serbia? No, wait, that was the United States. Putin aided in bloody coups against legitimately elected Governments in Liberia, Haiti, Somalia, Syria, Libya, Egypt? No, all the United States.

Who's the asshole?

Putin invaded the following after 9-11-2001, although his reasons had nothing to do with those events.
Georgia, Moldova (arguable whether Russian troops were involved at first, but they're in Transnistria now), Ukraine
Those invaded areas are for all practical purposes under the control of Russia. In Georgia and Ukraine, you might as well redraw the map and give them to Russia.
How many counties the "evil" US invaded does it control? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Are you a Russian apologist? You should know why NATO, not the US only, bombed Serbia. It was over genocide. But if you wish to play the Russian propaganda card here, the Serbs were all helpless victims and did nothing wrong. Right.

Actually US participation in the Egyptian coup was negligible or non-existent because most of the Obama administration believed that the Muslim Brotherhood was doing a great job and the US officially opposed the coup. Not sure what exactly you are referring to via the Somalia and Haiti comments. It's arguable that Libya's elections at the time were not free given that it was a one party state. Liberia? I haven't heard about the US doing anything there other than trying to help with Ebola, which is something good ol' Russia could never be bothered to do. Syria is another one party state so you can call it "legitimately elected" if you have a really loose definition of what a "legitimate election" means.

Comment: The "fix" for Twitter (Score 5, Insightful) 467

I'm totally serious on this. Do what I do. I've never been on Twitter. I never will be on Twitter. End of story.

The problem with Twitter is that people think it's valuable. It's not valuable at all. The press is forced to pretend its valuable because their jobs require them to have Twitter accounts. So this had led to the situation where people in the press quote random users on controversial subjects as if their opinions are really important just because they were said on Twitter.

All Twitter is is a way to behave like an ass and say stupid things, sometimes with consequences, sometimes with no consequences. The greatest trick Twitter pulled is convincing people that it's actually important and worth caring about and paying attention to. I still firmly believe that in a not too distant future it will be about as meaningful as My Space is today and future generations will be absolutely baffled that anybody actually thought Twitter was important or useful in the past.

Comment: Re:Trust (Score 1) 258

I don't trust anybody who has published a document with the title "C:\Users\Jehan-Francois Paris\Documents\ADAPT15\Case3.doc." Not even in .docx format. Tsk tsk.

I don't know if this is an attempt to get modded as "Funny" when it's not funny at all or if you are serious, so I'll assume the later. There are compatibility reasons for using .doc format. .doc format is old and well supported by non-Microsoft products like LibreOffice, OpenOffice, etc. Where I work we save a lot of internal documents in .doc format simply because we don't need any features that .docx has and we don't want to force people needlessly to have to upgrade to Office 2010 just to read our docs when, again, they're pretty simple and don't need any of the new features that .docx supports. Additionally, my company in the past didn't have the fastest record of upgrading versions of Office and it got really frustrating to have a few people in the office saving docs in .docx when the majority of people in the office were on an older version of Office that didn't understand .docx and thus couldn't read their docs.

Comment: Re:Plan A: Abundance & conflict resolution for (Score 1) 313

Your comments about Pat Tilman in particular are just typical conspiracy theory bs. They may be true I guess, but I think it makes more sense to believe that he will killed by incompetence than and that was covered up than to believe that he was killed to shut him up. Noam Chomsky is not "one of our nation's most respected public intellectuals". Few Americans have heard of him. He has little to no influence on anything today. He was a famous critic of the Vietnam War, but that was so long ago that if you believe that he still has major influence then you probably also believe the same about Ralph Nader. Both Nader and Chomsky have long been American historical footnotes. I'm sure that if Tilman was unhappy with the realities of his service that it would have attracted some attention, but Chomsky is simply not important enough to murder a guy deliberately to prevent him from meeting Chomsky.

While Tilman served, if the military/government feared him becoming an anti-war activist it was relatively easy to keep him occupied in Afghanistan, even if at a desk job, and deny him a chance to return home for a while. From what I've read about Tilman and his family after his death, I can't say I'm super impressed with any of them. Tilman seemed to act first and think second. He served as an enlisted man. Not an officer, but an enlisted man. He had a college degree so I have to question the decision to willingly bypass officer candidates school. Some of that may have been because his brother, who joined with him, wasn't a college graduate. I don't know. But off hand it doesn't strike me as the greatest decision ever to bypass OCS. Keep in mind too that losing a loved one during military service causes some surviving family members to behave in strange ways. Cindy Sheehan reacted negatively to her son's death and in my opinion mostly in an irrational way. I can certainly understand that when it seems that Tilman's death was covered up, and it does seem to be covered up, that his family would just assume the worst possible scenario as likely.

Comment: Real reasons for the layoffs (Score 4, Informative) 271

by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (#48866589) Attached to: The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees
In many or probably most cases, the companies doing the layoffs are simply cutting headcount as a fast way to get a short term improvement in the company's bottom line and thus cause the stock price to go up or at least stay where it is. Cisco and IBM are both notorious for playing this game. IBM simply moves the job to a cheaper foreign country where they have an office and Cisco just hires new H1-B visa workers at a much lower price than the American citizens they laid off.

Comment: Some don't believe Snopes (Score 1) 225

by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (#48865605) Attached to: Facebook Will Let You Flag Content As 'False'
A guy I went to high school with is one of my Facebook friends. He and I worked in the same organization years ago on a job and I have no problems being Facebook friends with him as we live in different cities now and work at different jobs. He's pretty much become what they call a "wing nut" on the right wing side of American politics. A few years ago he posted an article that was complete baloney and I posted a link to a Snopes article refuting his article. He in turn posted a link to an article claiming that the Snopes article was a lie and that everything on the Snopes site was suspect and promoting a "liberal agenda". So now the US political right is ready when you try to rebuke them to claim that your rebuke is in fact the lie and turn it into a "he said, she said" kind of debate where people just believe whatever closest fits their preconceived notions. So no, while you hope that a reasonable person might look at the Snopes article you link to, in reality the liars are already ready to claim that Snopes is the real liar and only they are telling the truth.

Comment: Re:Bitcoin (Score 2) 290

by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (#48823575) Attached to: Bitcoin Volatility Puts Miners Under Pressure

The eventual collapse of Western Civilization after fiat currency goes kablooey. Last time that happened was the end of the Roman Empire in the 5th century. Even if that doesn't happen, the value of precious metals will continue to rise. Buy low, sell high.

Perhaps you would best be served to not believe everything you hear on right wing talk radio.

Silver is as risky as investing in gold, despite what you heard Rush, Sean, Glenn or some other right wing talk guy tell you. If you get in at the right time you can make big money, but the problem is that when those markets correct, the destroy your savings. If you bought silver at its high in 2011 right now you'd be roughly down 40% and that is a huge loss.

Comment: Solution in search of a problem (Score 1) 480

by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (#48795291) Attached to: How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting
I'm American, so my opinion on this matter does count. We live in what is generally considered to be a free society. There is no legal requirement to vote. That's part of what being in a free society means. If you choose not to vote for any reason, good or bad, you have the right to do so. Frankly, a lot of governments that have no freedom at all require mandatory voting. Yes, I know that Australia does too. That is their problem, not ours. I vote regularly but I feel very strongly that anybody who doesn't want to vote should have that right too. That just makes my vote more valuable.

One can't proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means.