Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:so how did they form? (Score 1) 219

by bbsalem (#48288977) Attached to: Most Planets In the Universe Are Homeless

What is interesting here is the potential energy in such bodies. Even planets with a mass of Earth would still be hotter than their surroundings after several billion years of wandering through space that is near Absolute Zero. They might be habitable in a special way. Bodies that happen to orbit ejected failed stars might even bask in the heat of their parent body even while traveling the the depths of interstellar space. The infrared radiation from such bodies would be usable by space travelers to make higher energy sources and light that could be used to make them a waystation. These may be among the nearest type of body to the Solar System and we could "Island hop" from one to the next.

Comment: Re: Sweet troll bro (Score 1) 201

by bbsalem (#48088625) Attached to: The Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes

And you still haven't said why Th is a bad idea. Only about 1.5% of the U reserve is fissionable, whereas Th is much more abundant and it can be used in a liquid hexaflouride that can be drained away from the reaction camber if there is a shutdown. No need for a steam pressure reactor that can breech. The reactor can be quite small and portable and the reaction produces much less Pu. Right now Th is an annoying pollutant in available Rare Earth reserves. The Th could become an economic resource that can help this nation not be dependent on the Chinese reserves of Rare Earths, with which they can control the market in Rare Earths and nothing stops them from developing Th reactors and controlling access to that technology. The reason we use the reactor design we do is because Nixon was more interested in getting weapons grade products in 1972 than generating energy from less risky designs.

I am all for renewable and clean energy, but you tell me how those resources are going to be added to a grid controlled by carbon-fueled utilities? Not any time soon. I hope that fusion works, as I said in my original post, which fact you ignored, and you assert that Th is bad, without supporting facts. So, do you work for a carbon fuel interest? Do you want alternatives to carbon fuels, even nuclear alternatives? Do you want the grid built out to use renewables and can they meet the demand? I think that fusion is the best solution, but it hasn't been proven yet. If it is, its California good bye to te rest of the U.S. especially the carbon-fuel states of the Midwest and South.

Comment: Re: Yes yes yes (Score 1) 405

I think the implications are far worse than you suggest. The problem begins with the revenue providing role of the Congress as given in the Constitution. Congress, the House, levies taxes. That includes a disconnect between law passed as PR but then not funded to be effective or unfunded in subsequent budgets out of public notice as special interests weigh in to degrade laws that have popular appeal. You may know that cabinet departments are not specified by the Constitution and that the Executive must negotiate with Congress to fund them in each budget. This sounds like a reasonable separation of powers until you factor in the power of large businesses and large business lobbying groups that did not exist when the Constitution was ratified. The result is that Congress nearly always under funds the mission of te departments, especially those that regulate segments of the economy. Futhermore, those departments are given a built-in conflict of interest to promote as well as regulate industries and political patronage often results that industry insiders get appointments to regulatory roles diluting them. In addition since the Congress deliberately underfunds regulators, the agencies, notably the FDA, depends on research not independenly verified from the drug companies it is supposed to regulate. If you look at drug recalls they are often due to biased studies that the FDA does not have the means to check. This is true of many other segments of the economy. It is the reason GM could sell cars for the past 15 years that are dangerous for consumers and that it far from an isolated incident.

If Congress rigged the ACA to subsidize insurance companies, whose business model is failing, and protects health care providers from justifying costs. It is part of the pattern of too much business influience in government and is very much the fault of the Constitution. There are enough splits in the country so that if one part of it can gain economic indepedence, it will not wait for Constitutional reform to repair the corruption. This is especially true if we have another financial meltdown caused by the failure of Congress to pass reasonable reforms to the financial systems. It is California and the West Coast that given the advent of nuclear fusion energy giving almost limitless energy resources and enough to desalinate sea water, could basically depreciate the States Rights stance of the Central and Southern U.S. and their carbon-based fuels, and succeed from the Union.

Comment: Re: Facebook hurts the Internet (Score 1) 141

And you won't build it? What ideas do you have for the alternative? I have many, see my other posts in this thread. In a nutshell, I would use a less monolithic CMS, regionalize it, distribute it, cloud it. Secondly, I would allow for more conversation complexity. I would allow for Markdown format in replies with quoting of previous comments and allow for topic change. I would allow for users to define their own layout and themes. Facebook had to be extremely stingy with comment formats, ruthlessly squeezing out white space, not allowing for other formats than a Javascript Textarea, because of the economics of the backend. All this can be defeated, and the experience for users would be much more wholesome. FB sucks because of the business model and the implementation. It could be done for much cheaper on a smaller scale that would require less advertising. The abuse with FB begins with its design, and we aren't even considering the ethical abuses described by the OP, but the design already limits what people can say usefully and it is why people self-censor because using a blog design does not work for more than a couple of replies on FB.

Comment: Re:Facebook hurts the Internet (Score 1) 141

That is easy, but if you want to keep track of family, for example, it is quite hard to ignore it. I use it with greater and greater caution, and I don't post much to it. I believe that FB is totally manipulative and that most of its features are annoying. I'd like to leave it, but what I would really like is competition with it. I'd like to see someone come along and destroy its business and drive it out of existence. I have thought about how I think it fails and why. I know that someone could do a much better job and not just from the point of view of its business model, which is corrupt, but as a service to people. Most of the ways FB fails its users are due to its design choices. We don't even have to delve into the many ethical problems FB has created. its very design is manipulative and exploitative of people. The blog format, without greater complexity, being able to quote from others' posts and change topic, imposes a great restraint on what people feel comfortable in saying. It is, by itself, a restriction on communication and people self-censor because of the reaction they get if they want to communicate in a more normal way. So, already, without considering the advertising, the grid layout, etc. people are being manipulated in the design, and most are unaware of how te design affects them. I know how to answer FB, now we need someone to do it, to raise the money to build the alternatives. We need to put Fuckerberg out of business.

Comment: Re:Let me handle this one guys... (Score 1) 141

Yes, and Fuck You Too! America is a business-powerful state, not a democracy, not even a decent representative republic, because business has TOO much power to influence law and taxation, the members of Congress are not bought by workers, but by billionaires and an increasingly powerful plutocracy who would destroy personal expression and political freedom if they could. Facebook is a good example of how one elitist, spoiled, rich kid, sociopathically manipulates people. The model is Harvard and the Face Book the social fraternities use to let pledges reveal incriminating facts about themselves. There is nothing liberating about Facebook. It is yet another example of American business exploitation. Mark Zuckerberg is building a fortress in San Francisco and making his neighbors angry, good, he needs to be afraid because he knows how evil he is.

Comment: Re:Buyer beward (Score 1) 141

It may be that Facebook's business strategy results in something other than what most people use it for, and it may be that the uses it is put to should drive its design more than its business strategy. That implies that somebody ought to bury Facebook, develop an alternative that undoes the wrongs in the design and that undercuts the economics of the design. It takes an analysis of the model Facebook uses and a means to undercut its viability and offer an alternative that gains traction by better supporting uses that the basic idea could be put to.

That Facebook's user base in naive and unaware of how its design shapes their behavior is clear, and that alone constitutes manipulation of its users against their will. That it is driven by a business model is no justification that that can be undercut by a simple reconsideration of the design.

The first issue is the scale of the monolithic backend that Facebook touts as a feature, that it can support a billion users at once. That might appeal to advertisers, but it is surely no matter to most if not all of its users who communicate with something under 100 friends. If Facebook's business strategy is driven by the scale of the backend CMS, then certaintly alternatives could be found. If the amount of revenue Facebook needs to raise to operate this backend drives the offerings it makes to advertisers and business partners, then alternatives can also be found to mitigate the bothersome effects of this business strategy.

The scale of the backend drives all of the other features of the design, including its failings. The blog design of conversations, the rigid three-fold grid design, the ruthless squeezing out of white space in comments. All of these lead to user dissatisfaction and to unfortunate outcomes in relationsips. Users that are unaware of the effect this format has on how they can communicate are going to be hurt by personal misunderstandings.

It is irrestable that Facebook users want to create discussion topics, but this is largely unsuccessful because of the rigidity of the blog format. Blog conversations can only be short and that the inflexibility this imposes on them makes people subject to attack for doing what is quite normal and acceptable in other forms of human communication. A suggestion to allow for context, quoting, and topic change, has been resisted at Facebook. It is clear that te design is intended to restrict discussion. It does citizenship in a free country a disservice and people self-censor because of the design. Facebook is disingenuous about this issue. It expressed interest in why people self-censor but did not examine its own design; or it did and decided that it wanted the control over conversations it gives them. Complexity in conversations for Facebook is an old topic that as been rebuffed again and again.

An alternative could operate on a much smaller scale, regionally, I suppose, and offer richer conversation and less spam. If Facebook's strategy is to go mobile in the third world, then fine. It it operate on three line cheap phones and leave the space for others to have decent communication on bigger devices.

Comment: Re:Dissolution of the middle class! (Score 1) 261

by bbsalem (#48069163) Attached to: Mark Zuckerberg Throws Pal Joe Green Under the Tech Immigration Bus

So, this makes me wonder if having Facebook on your resume would be a plus or a minus? I am serious about this question, you could argue that an (over) capitalized company like Facebook would have enough status so that even if you were a janitor there it would be a plus. The issue would be the company mission and its poor reputation for ethical practices. It would be arguable that someone with an interesting technical specialty might not have to face these issues, but in terms of experience, it might not be that compelling, especially if your work is close to the design of Facebook. It is like saying that you wrote the regular expression engine for Facebook's CMS. To me that is like saying that you wrote PhP for a porn site :-)

Comment: Re:News flash, citizens!!!! (Score 1) 227

I think that the U.S. Educational system was called a "factory" system because it was intended to crank out assembly line workers who would do as they are told by a managerial class, not to think creatively and independently. Americans can be very independent and that is one reason otherwise smart people leave the confines of the educational system. There is another flaw in the American character as concerns learning and thought. In a word it is Pragmatism, that ideal of John Dewy writing in a manufacturing English nation whose orientation was for getting assignments done. Knowing practical goals was perverbial, which is to say, indoctrinated. To deal with change, such as we are going through now, requires much more creative thinking than the business regime or the educational system tolerates. By the way, this orientation predates Dewey and it was seen as a preoccupation in America going back to the Federalist and "Democracy in America", a focus without a depth. Could it be that Mark Zuckerberg is but a reincarnation of this thinking of the payout before understanding the effect?

Comment: Facebook has no right to talk! (Score 1) 227

I am not addressing the need for diversity and more access for women and non-white people to tech. There are too many white male geeky engineers in tech, and it shows in product missions and designs. There is not enough humanity in tech, as yet. But this is not why I have something to say about this topic. It is that Facebook, of all companies, has the least justification to say anything about the quality of software, of product design, or of product engineering and its relationship to hiring diversity. I have a Facebook account and use the site to keep tabs on friends and family members and yet I am disgusted by most of what it is, and my objections have to do with business and engineering and if that means that fewer women work or want to work at Facebook, I would not be surprised. The OP cites that Facebook has about 7100 employees, in my view most of what those people do is misdirected and a waste if my freedom of expression is encumbered by manipulation and spam as a result of their business model and Mark Zuckerberg's philosophy. So, it hardly matters that Facebook has 31% women or more as long as the result of its design is so bad as to limit conversation and exchange between its users in a design that is designed to create problems for users. Facebook needs an alternative. Judging from reactions I've heard from women in my life, I'd say to them, go and bury Facebook in a service that is kinder to people and better designed for humane communication. Do away with the three-fold grid and the blog and allow for real exchanges. I sincerely hope that Facebook fails.

Comment: E.T. Gets Our Attention (Score 1) 534

by bbsalem (#48050063) Attached to: Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

Religion is used to give arguments that have no firm basis support that protects them from being assailed. Proof of that is how fast the Mayan Temple System was abandoned in Central America when climate fluctuation destroyed the economy based on corn in the 13th century. Conversely, Abrahamic religions, Christianity, Islam, Judism, are scoundrel refuges for people who don't want their idea of moral authority and cultural centrism to be questioned. A scientific discovery which refutes special creation isn't going to deter this sort of thinking in people, whether it comes from Islamic extremists or Southern Baptists who embrace the Inerrant Word from Scripture. A better response is to base political and economic institutions on secular norms that reduce the influence of these reactionary forces. The challenge is that secular systems do not teach moral principal enough so that moral authoritarianism does not find appeal in those wronged by economic and political expediency. This is why we have movements like ISIS at the current time; not because they are theologically based. It is because academic and institutional sources for secular leadership do not base their training on sound ethics, even ethics that is based on universal human rights, let alone the sanctity of life wherever it exists.

This is more immediate than the questions which science will answer: How complexity beginning in inanimate physical systems can result in life without resorting to an intelligent designer. Such talking points have a hidden agenda to give moral authority to cultural beliefs. The question of how life arose is less important than how origins justifies the norms embraced by religion. How the physical universe stores information, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics is not violated by local stores of complex information, may be the answer to false dichotomies about life, and research may tell us that other places have solved this issue millions of times over, producing living systems that are unique from the one on Earth, or convergant with ours but where it is impossible for the similar systems to be genetically related; there being no panspermy possible. I think that some unique chemistry not like our own will be found to support life that would be fundementally alian to ours, That would surely put an end to Special creation. This finding could be a simple as finding trace fossils on Mars or other Solar System body revealing a biology basically different from what appeared on the Earth.

Of course the true Bigots will wiggle and change the terms of the argument and say that God changes the rules how ever he wants, small "h" deliberate.

If true secularists want to defeat religious bigotry and theocracy, they should start by embracing ethics and based more firmly on standards stronger than business expediancy, for example, or short-term profit, or survival of some organization. Every time some secular leader fails to do things either to live up to principal or based on some strong ethical system, this gives fuel to those who will act with authority based on ethnic pride, such as Putin and the Russians, or out of moral bigotry, such as ISIS and some of the religious people in America.

Comment: The Razor Blade Effect (Score 1) 602

by bbsalem (#48010697) Attached to: The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy

This is the oldest story in human existence, and one that needs to be retold over and over, that if a business man can create a captive market or a planned failure rate of a product and hide those facts, he will base his business model on added cost to his customers. This is based on axioms of economics that point to the use of non-transparency to selfish advantage. No only will business people serve to add inefficiency and cost to keep the margin up, but they will also fight very hard to defend the business model against creative destruction seeking complicity of government if needed.

The answer to these abuses has always been disclosure and the flow of information about the ruse, which the linkage of business interests and politics attempts to suppress.

The humble razor blade can be made to last much longer than it does in any commercial product. It is laziness, convenience, and flooding the market with cheap product and telling lies to consumers that allows this. It amazed me how fast electric cars have appeared on the market once the peak of Oil was passed, and that there was a largely forgotten history of electric cars a century ago, and this was one reason the alternative to the internal combustion engine was so quickly re-introduced, now if only we could make it possible to create electricity without breaking carbon bonds and store electricity in efficient batteries. That would make a big difference and it would undercut cartels in energy.

Avoid strange women and temporary variables.