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Comment: Science the shit (Score 1) 481 481

The budget for this dwarfs even the most bloated estimate of a mission to Mars. Or a permanent moon base with a focus on research on possible space resources (water, metals, maybe even He3). Pie in the sky projects that have possibility of bearing fruit.

I agree the article seems dodgy at best. But this is still precious dollars devoted to a dubious goal. On the other hand if I were a military hawk, I'd insist on advanced drone development with pilots sitting in a heavy-bomber sized mothership (I don't want a totally autonomous Skynet system).

Comment: Re: You think Greeks want MORE electronic money? (Score 2) 351 351

Besides, gold has never been a good money substitute except for the very rich, and they probably already have their wealth stashed away some place abroad. Gold's value comes from having lots of it. If you want to buy a house having a few pounds could help you. But if you have just a few ounces of gold, how would you spend it? Shave it to buy a loaf of bread?

Comment: Artificial scarcity (Score 1) 51 51

I suspect said sale is designed simply to create buzz, that Canonical is making a phone OS that "real" people (and not just geeks) want. Maybe having respectable numbers sold would get the bigger Chinese manufacturers or even Uncle Sammy interested? It's the tried and sometimes true strategy of guerilla marketing. Or maybe we can compare it to the thousands of fan-fic writers and film makers hoping to get picked up by a big name agent/publisher/studio, etc and be the next 50 Shades of Gray?

Comment: Gene-engineer us to eat less (Score 1) 409 409

"Then of course there is the human body. The body does not NEED exercise to build muscle..."

If you're going the gene mod route with regard the human body, why not just genetically engineer humans to want to eat less? Should be simpler than turning us all into Arnold Schwarzenegger and save a couple of million of cows and chickens from the endless cycle of rebirth (after we butcher them for one final barbeque).

Comment: Upload and forget (Score 1) 193 193

"The binary blobs are themselves dangerous - driver software is typically running with very high security clearance, and you have absolutely NO idea what is going on inside those blobs."

Then why not rewrite the (opensource) driver so the only thing it does is upload the binary blob to the graphics card? Then you're back to present behavior, a graphics card that runs closed-source microcode. Has anyone performed a security audit of any of today's top desktop CPUs?

The idea solution would be nothing less than building your own openware CPU/GPU.

Comment: Re:Can they compile from source? (Score 1) 143 143

"Or do you compile your distro youself after reviwing every line of code? useful idiot!"

No need to be melodramatic about it. With the Unix/Linux model of security, you don't need to review every line of code yourself unless you're a non-American intelligence agency (at which point you also need to xray the CPU for "hard"-coded backdoors).

Typically you need to "only" pore over the source code for the kernel and everything else that runs with root privileges (I know this is still a massive undertaking but significantly less daunting than examining the entire OS). So if you want to be reasonably secure, you'd compile the kernel and system utils yourself (doable in Debian/Ubuntu using "apt-get source src-package" followed by a forced install of the resulting self-compiled package).

This is the premise around which the OpenBSD developers base their claim of being the most secure Unix-like operating system. If the base OS is secure, you can be much less fussy over the source code for the Gimp, LibreOffice, VLC and other FOSSware, provided you don't run the programs as root.

The question remains for Microsoft will the base OS compile from source the way one can compile LInux and BSD from source?

Comment: Copying is "stealing" (Score 1) 408 408

"Violating copyright is NOT stealing"

Okay I'm being pedantic but stealing is quite a broad word and in some mostly archaic or figurative senses, unlicensed copying of copyrighted works can be considered a form of stealing (i.e. taking without permission). No, I don't think copying is stealing in the modern sense of shoplifting or carjacking but that's just the way the language is. Somewhat similar to some ancient poetic use of the word rape to mean kidnapping (e.g Rape of the Sabine Women).

The problem is when the person arguing for draconian copyright laws deliberately "confuses" the different senses of the word stealing. To "steal" a song online has an entirely different effect from shoplifting a CD in a store. The store loses its copy of the CD to the shoplifter. On the other hand, the number of copies is incremented++ whenever you "pirate" a song.

Comment: Copyright should be considered a privilege (Score 1) 172 172

The problem is that copyright has been treated as a right similar to free speech and real world property rights, maybe not as essential but still something that a person "naturally" deserves. Sure copying is stealing in some non-legal senses of the word "steal", and of course, there are no really natural rights since even the right to life is forfeit in certain circumstances (like when you have a dynamite strapped to your waist and running toward a group of people threatening to blow them up). But copyright has no analogs or equivalents among other animal species.

A tiger or dog marks its territory in an act that parallels the property rights of a person living in a capitalist democracy or tribal rights in a tribal society. On the other hand, a monkey imitating another monkey's fruit gathering skills isn't attacked or harmed for the mere act of aping the possibly beneficial behavior. Copyright is clearly an artificial construct, a hack to "promote" technological or cultural progress rather than as an end into itself. Forgetting this goal is why we're in this copy-tyrannical mess.

Comment: Might as well plan for a Mars colony (Score 1) 692 692

Claiming that social mobility is possible for your descendants is practically the same as what Elon Musk, the Mars Society and similar space colonization (or settlement for those hate the C word) groups are advocating. You really have no guarantee that "your" next generation will be better off or some political whacko or would-be despot isn't going to hijack their future and turn Earth or country into a war-zone or just slightly better a peaceful police state. Still multi-generational planning is a nice thought. I don't really blame the Libertarian survivalists and the space nut jobs for thinking even further ahead.

Comment: Virtual sex and violence (Score 1) 96 96

"There is little evidence that links crime rates to prevalence of violence on TV or in video games, although there is some evidence that video games reduce crime by keeping young men off the street during their prime crime years (age 15-24)."

A corollary to this is that widespread pornography is responsible for the decline in the developed world's population because of the increasing numbers of young men who would rather watch it than do it.

Comment: The birthday problem (Score 1) 236 236

I think the risk is better compared to the probability of two people sharing the same birthday within a given group. You don't need to have 365 people for the probability of having shared birthdays reach 99 percent. The wiki article states its better (

"In probability theory, the birthday problem or birthday paradox[1] concerns the probability that, in a set of n randomly chosen people, some pair of them will have the same birthday. By the pigeonhole principle, the probability reaches 100% when the number of people reaches 367 (since there are 366 possible birthdays, including February 29). However, 99.9% probability is reached with just 70 people, and 50% probability with 23 people."

So you don't need some house wrecking boulder striking the Earth every year for us to decide as a species that we should start preparing some sort of planetary defence shield.

In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy.