... the primary backlash was not so directed at the town as much as that one had many different people in the town saying really stupid things.
"Many" different people? It's not altogether clear, but from the article it looks like something in the range of 2-3 different people saying stupid things. Now I know that that seems like a lot for a town with only 800 people, but I think we still have little right to judge the entire town based on a handful of morons. The problem is that when people read stories like this, they do not simply conclude that 2-3 people in that town are stupid. Rather, we jump to conclusions about the town and make sweeping statements about rural hicks and ignorant, backwards-minded people (whom we likely will assume belong to the opposite side of the political spectrum as ourselves: if I am a Democrat, these idiots must be Republicans). This is a problem with both the way in which stories are written and the way in which we tend to read them, as we only care about figuring out whom we can look down upon. Getting the full story tends to stand in the way of our self-righteous judgments.
One thing that I found particularly interesting about this, however, is found in this line from the current article:
Lane, the Woodland councilman, said the town has received profanity-laced voice mails and enraged emails from people around the country.
So when we read an article about people saying or doing something that we consider stupid, what is our response? Hopefully most of us just make fun of the place on Slashdot, but it seems that far too many of us turn to making phone calls and emails and filling them with profanities. "They don't like solar power? Those mother#$%^# sons of #%#%#$!" I am not sure how we seem to think that these kinds of messages actually help to educate any of those ignorant solar-power hating villagers, but I wonder whether more than 2-3 people resorted to this kind of political "free speech."
Interestingly, such profanity-laden responses seem to transcend political boundaries and be the one true unifier of Americans on both left and right. Whether the issue appeals to Republicans or Democrats, and whether the people involved accept one ideology or the other, they will still be generously and profusely cursed by their fellow Americans. "One nation, under God, with liberty, and profanity for all..."
Yep. In fact, self-destruction is more likely than us spreading out beyond Mars. Of course we might travel beyond Mars, but at this point I think that we have enough scientific reason to think that colonizing beyond Mars is so unlikely as to be functionally impossible. There are a host of reasons, but to name a few: (1) faster-than-light travel is theoretically impossible (and only possible in mere speculations), (2) near-FTL travel is a mere dream, (3) the human body can hardly take long-term space travel as it is, (4) we allow ourselves to be guided more by politics and profit than by any "higher" goals, so we will never unite our resources on such a project unless it promises major returns in these areas, etc.
We can (and probably should) always fantasize about new technologies, etc., but there are real limits to our abilities and we do run up against them. Of course through genetic engineering, etc., we could fashion a new kind of human that might be better equipped for the challenges of interstellar colonization, but given the potential limitations of life (we can only dream and watch Star Trek to imagine a biological being that is really adapted for the conditions of space), it is at least unlikely enough that we will colonize farther than Mars that I think the word "never" is not far-fetched.
So in effect, the real weakness of fingerprints is not their non-hashability, but the fact that they are inherently linked with the user/owner. In the same way if you found a key in a hotel parking lot it would do you no good, but if that key had "Room 143" written on it, then its security is broken. Your fingerprint is harder to disassociate with yourself than a key or password. Someone pointed out above that you cannot tell someone that you forgot your fingerprint. Likewise, someone could always steal your fingerprint from objects you touch and have a reasonable certainty that that indeed is your fingerprint.
But this means that fingerprints suffer intrinsically from the same defect that incidentally affects guessable passwords. Most people create passwords that are in some way symbolically associated with their own identity (birthdates, names, etc.). Thus, in a sense, fingerprints are beneficial in certain low-security situations not only because they are more convenient, but also because the kinds of passwords or PINs that they generally replace suffer from the same weakness as fingerprints anyway.
It's all squiggles on the screen that I have to learn to interpret in the correct context.
This is true. All letters are symbols, and all symbols require a context in order to interpret. Somebody above pointed out that > is universally understood in mathematics, and thus its universality seems to make it preferable to GT, which is based on English. But this can be misleading. In the long run, > is just as arbitrary as GT, and although the symbol is widely used in mathematics, that is no guarantee that it will retain a clear meaning forever. A context will always be necessary, and although mathematics provides a kind of easily-accessible and widely-dispersed context, the specific system of mathematics that we utilize today is still a culturally-developed system of symbolization, and hence it is neither truly universal nor immortal.
At the same time, even the mathematical context may not adequately guarantee that the meaning of > is understood. In fact, it is questionable whether the strictly mathematical meaning of > is strictly at play in computer programming. The Perl gt operator already shows that the sphere of the meaning of "greater than" within programming can be wider than that which belongs to ordinary mathematics. In other words, the symbol > is borrowed from the context of mathematics, but this originary context is not the only context that determines the usage of this symbol within programming. It is always possible for this symbol to carry additional meanings not strictly intended by mathematical logic.
The strength of C++, for example, is that you can define your own operators and how they operate upon particular data structures, such that > can mean anything you want it to mean. Of course it would be silly to use > to mean "less than," but one might use it to mean "greater than" in a way that is only analogous to the scalar numerical calculation; hence for example one could conceive of a "greater than" with regard to GPS coordinates that does not measure which coordinates are greater in sheer magnitude, but rather determines which are farther north.
In short, no symbol is guaranteed in its meaning by an external relationship to another, distinct usage of the same symbol. It does not matter whether the symbol comes from written or spoken language, academic usage or common dialect, science or superstition; all symbols are determined in their meaning by context.
I can understand why one might dislike this distinction between string and numeric operators in Perl, but I personally like it a lot.
Remember to use gold plated connectors to get the best visual fidelity.
I've been getting 8K resolution for years just by jamming my Denon Link Cable directly into my eye socket to interface with the optic nerve. It only hurt the first few times.
The fancy is indeed no other than a mode of memory emancipated from the order of space and time. -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge