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Comment: Re:Don't bother. (Score 1) 509

by almechist (#46664621) Attached to: The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates

And that can't happen until you get rid of the current SCOTUS

Or, you know, go the proper way and just change the Constitution. They didn't decide that way because they want an oligarchy, they did it because, OMG!, they decided based on what the Constitution actually says. That doesn't change based on the circumstances. I don't like the results of the decision either, but it's a solid one based in fact, not the dreams of the court's left wing. If somebody found a huge loophole, then we modify the Constitution to fix it. We don't just interpret the problem away, because that means the Constitution's protections are meaningless.

They decided based on what the constitution says? Oh yeah? Well OK then, show me where the constitution says that corporations must be given the same free speech rights as individual citizens. Go on, show me the words. Except you can't, because there's nothing like that actually in the constitution, certainly not in the first amendment. As far as I'm concerned, if you can read that idea into the constitution as written, you can read almost anything you want into it, thereby making the constitution conform to your personal ideology... Which seems to me precisely what they've been doing.

Comment: Re:Windows 8.x is un-usable without Start8 (Score 4, Interesting) 200

by almechist (#46488999) Attached to: Mozilla Scraps Firefox For Windows 8, Citing Low Adoption of Metro

Some particular reason you chose to spend money instead of getting the free and open-source Classic Start Menu (from Classic Shell)? Seems kind of silly.

Anyhow, I happen to think you're an idiot if you can't use the same UI (and by far the most productive one) that's been present in Windows since Vista, namely "hit Start (or the Windows key), type a few letters of the program name, hit Enter". It's faster than any mouse-driven interaction and doesn't require manually finding anything in cascading menus *or* scrolling screens of tiles. But that's just, like, my opinion, man...

It's questionable whether typing stuff, even just a few letters, should always be considered faster and/or more productive than using a mouse. Sometimes, especially on a laptop, it's a pain to keep shifting from mouse to keyboard and back. Besides, since when is running a particular program the only thing you would ever want to do on a given operating system?

Windows 8 if filled with non-intuitive commands, and offers almost nothing of value in return for scaling its rather steep learning curve. It wasn't wanted or needed by anyone outside Microsoft, and it will eventually be abandoned and completely forgotten by everyone outside of a few business textbooks, where it will stand forever as a classic example of a large corporation shooting itself in the foot.

Comment: Re:Shouldn't they start out small first? (Score 1) 187

With a dead extinct animal? No. The closest thing is an extinct ibex cloned in 2009 (hardly "a decade"), and it only lived for a few minutes --- not exactly a success in my book.

Furthermore, the Ibex only became extinct in 2000, so they had material taken from a living Ibex to work with, a considerably easier proposition. And as you say, even that didn't work.

This is clearly a technology not quite ready for prime time, and certainly not suitable for such a mammoth undertaking as the resurrection of an entire species.

Comment: Re:How about affordable care? (Score 1) 578

by almechist (#46477355) Attached to: White House: Get ACA Insurance Coverage, Launch Start-Ups

If we're spending billions of dollars to improve healthcare, why don't we...

Except we're not spending billions of dollars to improve healthcare, we're spending billions of dollars to increase the bottom line of the corporate "healthcare sector" and to line the pockets of insurance company CEOs. Improving healthcare was never really the goal, it was merely a talking point used to sell the ACA to a gullible public.

FWIW, the Obamacare silver tier plan I signed up for has already saved my life - no lie, I was diagnosed with a rare bone disease 10 days after signing up thinking I was in good health. I spent six weeks in the hospital and I'm extremely lucky not to be paralyzed or dead. I highly doubt the ER would have sent me for that all-important MRI ("just to be on the safe side"), the one that finally revealed the underlying problem, if I had still been uninsured, regardless of any laws mandating treatment. So yeah, I was and am still among the big winners under the new law - but that doesn't change the fact that only single-payer will ultimately save the already half-dead US healthcare system.

Comment: Re:Forget Open Source... (Score 2) 105

Tell Zynga's targe- er, competitors about how copyright is enough to protect software and patents are unnecessary.

You can't use a current example to prove patents are necessary, of course they are now, in this brave new world of IP protection mania. Once you introduce the idea and reality of software patents, they become essential for both defensive and offensive corporate strategy. But they're still an abomination, and contribute nothing of value to anyone who isn't a lawyer. Besides, I was talking about true innovation, Zynga and its ilk hardly qualify as shining examples.

Comment: Forget Open Source... (Score 4, Interesting) 105

I think a better example of how unnecessary software patents are is to look at the period known sometimes referred to as "the PC Revolution". Virtually all the software written in the early days of personal computing (Apple II, IBM PC, TRS-80, etc...) was not patented, in fact it was believed by most programmers at the time that software just wasn't patentable. And yet that period saw unfettered innovation in software, I will cite the invention of the spreadsheet as just one example. Nobody in the industry worried about patents, everybody made money, and innovation soared. What better proof is there that software patents are not only not needed, but in practice actually suppress innovation?

Comment: Re:isn't it used on violent prisoners? (Score 3) 326

by almechist (#46363581) Attached to: The Science of Solitary Confinement

While I agree that people who reach a certain point in the penal system have nothing left to lose, I disagree that it's getting easier and easier to get there.

Do you know how hard it is to actually go to jail for more than 48 hours?

No, I don't, why don't you tell us, and maybe you should include an explanation of how you know all this. Be sure to document your assertions with links to unbiased research supporting your hypothesis.

Comment: Re:Can someone explain this theft? (Score 1) 232

by almechist (#46351475) Attached to: Mt. Gox Shuts Down: Collapse Should Come As No Surprise

There is the correct option, which is not really any of the ones you mention (but 4 is closest).

Mt Gox tried to run as a legitimate bank but due to apparent incompetence left a gaping security hole that allowed transactions to be repeated. So you could essentially double your withdrawals if your modified the transaction id that they posted. They apparently failed to detect this for some time (a complete lack of auditing?).

So due to the thefts via this security hole (and possibly other yet unknown shenanigans) they do not have the assets to back all of the holdings of their depositors. So users (depositors) may think they have a balance of x bitcoins with Mt Gox, but Mt Gox no longer has anywhere near the necessary amount to cover everyone.

When bitcoin was expanding rapidly, the theft and balance issues could go unnoticed since Mt Gox would have so much new incoming money it would cover any withdrawals... but as soon as Mt Gox began to have banking issues in the US and more people wanted to get their money out than in, the issue obviously came to a head.

That would make it a Ponzi scheme, no? Which means the correct answer in GP's list of possibilities was in fact:

3) Mt. Gox was a Ponzi scheme that is now unraveling.

Comment: Re:Fruit of the poison tree (Score 1) 266

The Court has also ruled that the exclusionary rule goes out the window if the evidence was obtained, even illegally, by a private citizen. Purely coincidentally, law enforcement agencies have a penchant for using confidential informants.

Yes, and in fact the DEA actually has a pay scale for informants, whereby a snitch gets so much for a street dealer, more for a large distributor, and truly staggering amounts for a "kingpin". They have many so-called informants who do nothing but travel the country looking for opportunities to make the big money infiltrating cartels and gangs. Some of these professional C.I.s have been documented as regularly making 6-figure yearly paychecks. Now ask yourself, how are these so-called informants working regularly and permanently with the DEA any different from DEA agents? They are in fact employees, regardless of how the DEA would like to spin it, and thus they are agents of the government. A tip from a true street informant trying desperately to keep his ass out of jail is one thing, but making big money continually infiltrating drug rings for the government is something else entirely. These people are working for the DEA, they are not confidential informants, and do not deserve the protections normally given to a C.I.

Comment: as the old joke goes (Score 1) 204

by almechist (#45959019) Attached to: Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Newegg Patent Case

They laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I started to play...

They continued to laugh, all the way to the bank, as their tone-deaf lawyers slapped me with suit after suit, while bought-and-paid-for government stooges confiscated all my equipment and hijacked my webpage. This is how IP law "promotes the arts" in 21st century America, and no, it isn't funny at all.

Comment: Re:GEB (Score 1) 796

by almechist (#45850787) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?

Have you tried NOT reading it, though? May be you should doing THAT before you pass judgement. As an ardent admirer of the work of all three men in the title, I suspect my mind was spared from yet another piece of quasi-philosophical pulp.

I can't let this comment go unanswered. GEB is a singular achievement, not quite like anything else you will read, to dismiss it unread as "quasi-philosophical pulp" is an indication that you're probably just too lazy to investigate the book in any way, let alone actually take the time to read it. Obviously, the author shares your admiration for the three men in the title, but I would say the book is not primarily about those three, and it can in fact be read, enjoyed, and understood (probably in that order) without any prior knowledge of their life and works. It is at times challenging, admittedly, but always in a fun and adventurous way, it's never flat or boring. It is one of the few books that is almost guaranteed to get you to really think about the true nature of consciousness and intelligence, which is what the book is really about at its core.

In short, this is a work that has changed people's lives. You dismiss it at your peril, and to your own detriment.

Comment: An Epidemic of Dumbness (Score 1) 96

by almechist (#45838771) Attached to: The Year's Dumbest Moments in Tech
Doesn’t it seem like there’s been an epidemic lately of large, established and respectable tech companies rolling out “new” products (actually just unneeded and unwanted updates of existing products, but that‘s how it goes these days) that just scream FAIL!!! loudly and clearly to anyone and everyone remotely resembling the actual end users who will eventually have to work with the final badly flawed product? I mean, honestly, Windows 8, how the hell could MS not have known that piece of steaming crud was going to be absolutely despised by the overwhelming majority of users?? Or look at Yahoo’s forced rollout of their new and “improved” mail system, another supposed upgrade that no one ever asked for. It was met with universal hatred even when it functioned as designed, which it seldom did at first because, unbelievably, the software apparently never underwent basic beta testing. How does shit like this keep happening? I mean, compared to those turkeys, even the dysfunctional website rollout seems in retrospect predictable and almost routine. How is it possible, in this day and age, for there to be such an enormous disconnect between what people actually want, and what extravagantly overcompensated corporate executives think people want? What is wrong with the tech industry, or maybe even the capitalist system in general, that causes such blatant failures to keep getting approved and marketed to the consumer? Is this, as a commenter at one of the linked sites suggests, merely proof of the Peter Principle in action? Something is very wrong, surely, when such utter dumbness is continually manifested in an industry that is supposedly run by very, very smart people.

Comment: bullshit! (Score 1) 511

by almechist (#45799771) Attached to: US Federal Judge Rules NSA Data Collection Legal

"Every day, people voluntarily surrender personal and seemingly-private information to transnational corporations, which exploit that data for profit,"

That data is given voluntarily. People may be pretty glib in giving the information, but it is still their choice. Maybe I do want Facebook knowing everything, but don't want my government to. Still, my choice. I never opted-in at the NSA web site.

Oh, bullshit, I am so tired of hearing this argument. I do NOT want and have never wanted to give the telcos and thus the government information about my exact location at all times, and I'm damn sure there was nothing about that in the original contract I signed way back when I first got a cellphone... But now GPS is baked into every phone by law (and why exactly is that done, again?) and THERE IS NO CHOICE, THERE IS NO "VOLUNTARY"!! Since when did the deal become, "If you want a phone, they get to track you"? In today's society there is almost nothing as basic and essential as owning a wireless device, it's a true "must have", so citizens are caught, they must go along with all this... But that doesn't mean people are happily and voluntarily giving out this information! They are FORCED to do it. Until there is some possibility to opt out of surrendering metadata, it's disingenuous if not dishonest to say the information is being disclosed voluntarily.

Comment: welcome to Dystopia (Score 1) 201

by almechist (#45749411) Attached to: It's Not Just the NSA: Police Are Tracking Your Car
I think the most important and shocking thing in the article is the revelation that this technology is already being used for political purposes. The testimony from people who were stopped and harassed repeatedly simply because they attended some protest rallies should raise huge red flags for even the most dyed in the wool law-and-order types, because it proves not just that the system can be abused, but that such abuse has already occurred, and is very likely still occurring on a massive scale. When law abiding citizens are getting "placed on a list" that causes their movements to be tracked and mandates any police unit to pull them over and question them, repeatedly, all as a result of activity that is perfectly lawful, well... It's well past the time to be getting worried. This type of thing is flat-out Police State behavior, and should not be tolerated in any country still pretending to be a democracy. If we continue to blithely let this stuff be implemented by any law enforcement department that wants to (which is probably all of them), all without any civilian oversight, very soon it will be too late. Can you say dystopia? Better get used to it, cause we're almost there already.

Comment: Support the War On Happiness! (Score 1) 246

by almechist (#45706951) Attached to: The Business of Attention Deficit Disorder

Seems like everyone is on some kind of happy/dopy drug these days. And, is it me, or has the workplace changed significantly as a result? Seems like way too many people are walking around today smiling and happy all the time for no fucking reason. Not that I'm a grinch or anything, but it seems like a "positive attitude" these days has lost its classical meaning of a "can-do attitude" and has taken on more the flavor of a "happy, happy all the time" attitude. I'm starting to feel like a freak for not walking around as happy as a goddamn Barney the Dinosaur 24/7. I raise a single objection or broach the slightest criticism and suddenly I'm a cynic, with a bunch of endlessly smiling freaks staring at me like *I'm* the one who's crazy for not being endlessly doped up and "positive."

Yes, precisely. And this is why the government's new "War On Happiness" is both necessary and vital to the security of our nation. Face it, it's just not normal to be so happy all the time, you know it's not. Which is why I fully support the criminalization of happiness, and you should, too! Frankly, I never did trust all those smiling faces... It's time to throw them all* in prison where they belong!

*following precedent, the new rules apply to the masses only, not applicable to the 1%.

"The Amiga is the only personal computer where you can run a multitasking operating system and get realtime performance, out of the box." -- Peter da Silva