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Comment: Re:The handwriting's on the wall: Alice v. CLS Ban (Score 1) 209

by david_thornley (#48629599) Attached to: What Will Microsoft's "Embrace" of Open Source Actually Achieve?

The other way to interpret what happened is to notice that Microsoft went buddy-buddy with a company that was going to fight them in court. By doing that, Microsoft avoided having any actual ruling on their patents, and kept them in top shape for FUD.

Comment: Re:Hypocrites (Score 1) 401

by david_thornley (#48629469) Attached to: In Breakthrough, US and Cuba To Resume Diplomatic Relations

OK, the Communist government of Cuba was bad. We get that. So was the preceding capitalist government of Cuba, although I don't know how to compare the degrees of badness here.

That doesn't mean the US should maintain a trade embargo for decades. There are worse regimes in the world (frightening as that is) that we've had business dealings with.

Comment: Re:Why not push toward collapse? (Score 1) 401

by david_thornley (#48629427) Attached to: In Breakthrough, US and Cuba To Resume Diplomatic Relations

How long should we have stayed in Iraq? It was a drag on the US economy and military capabilities. It allowed the Iraqi government to be irresponsible since the US Armed Forces would back them up. Exerting military control over Iraq caused a lot of resentment. There were plenty of reasons to leave Iraq, and apparently people who are very happy that their counterfactuals can't be refuted.

Comment: Re:*facepalm* (Score 1) 205

When you want to create a class for girls, you look at what they are likely interested in for the examples. Boys and girls are sometimes interested in different things, and it is likely that girls feel unwelcome in the field, so changing things a bit might help with that. As an introductory class, it's going to set the students up for success, which means sliding over the hard stuff and presenting stuff that people new to the field can actually accomplish. It's possible for a beginner to do a small non-graphic game with BASIC or Python or something; asking the beginner to code up a first-person shooter in C++ using OpenGL and expecting them to do their own template library is a touch ambitious.

Comment: Re:Confused. (Score 1) 205

There are differences between boys and girls. Some of these are inherent (I've never menstruated, for example), and some are cultural and social (I was initially dressed in blue). It's possible that some of the inherent differences push boys towards computers and girls away. It's pretty much certain that there are cultural and social factors, since the proportion of women in computer fields has dropped considerably relative to men in recent years, and people have identified cultural and social factors (inherent factors are a lot more difficult to identify, since human beings are really complicated).

Since there are cultural and social factors in play, they are likely pushing some people away from fields where they'd do their best and most productive work, and it would be interesting to know how much. The study is apparently aimed at counteracting some cultural and social factors, which is a fairly primitive experiment but might turn up interesting and useful things.

Comment: Re:It is only difficult when fallacious (Score 1) 192

by david_thornley (#48628005) Attached to: Linking Drought and Climate Change: Difficult To Do

I can't blame individual weather patterns on AGW, unless we get a situation like melting Arctic ice pushing the Gulf Stream hundreds of miles south, and we aren't seeing anything like that currently. I can blame the frequency of perfectly normal weather patterns on AGW, as long as I've got the statistical evidence. If we're seeing perfectly normal droughts, except that there are 50% more than there were a century ago (wash hands after handling that number), that would be at least some evidence that AGW causes droughts.

Comment: Re:We should expect fewer droughts from warming (Score 1) 192

by david_thornley (#48627969) Attached to: Linking Drought and Climate Change: Difficult To Do

Show me some. I mean informed speculation. You can find plenty of idiots who are saying that it will wipe out humanity or civilization or even something as stupid as saying it'll make Earth less habitable than Mars, just as you can find plenty of idiots who say there is no global warming or that all its effects will be positive. If I listen to all the idiots, I won't have time to figure out what's really going on and my brain will be numb anyway.

Comment: Re:This whole issue is like watching... (Score 1) 386

by david_thornley (#48627941) Attached to: The Shale Boom Won't Stop Climate Change; It Could Make It Worse

Except that taxes do not necessarily take money out of the system. The Federal Government does not bury the money deep beneath the Pentagon, but turns around and spends it or gives it to people who are going to spend it fast. This stuff is complicated, guy, and you're claiming that A always causes B without listing an assortment of As and seeing if the Bs are all present.. Your ecology analogy fails because you're being much too vague. How is energy or nutrition leaving the ecology? Answer that and I'll come up with a better guess.

Comment: Re:And where are all the hurricanes? (Score 1) 184

by david_thornley (#48627901) Attached to: Last Three Years the Quietest For Tornadoes Ever

Exactly how is a scientist supposed to express himself or herself? Mann didn't know about AGW and tornadoes, and that's what he said. He said that it looked to him like AGW would increase tornadoes, after saying he really didn't know. This isn't alarmism. It isn't making a serious prediction. It's informed speculation, and that should have been obvious to any competent reader of English.

As long as you're trying to pass that off as making predictions and alarm, I don't see any reason to check your other sources.

Comment: Re:Not a Real Question (Score 1) 274

by david_thornley (#48627801) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

Liberal Arts degrees require majors, and then a certain amount of other courses, much like STEM. You can get a LA degree without taking courses in any particular LA field if you want (there's likely to be a few mandatory classes, but not in many fields), and taking one course in every real branch of LA may be impractical. When I went through my BA, I took no courses in music or the visual arts, concentrating more in literature, history, and philosophy. (It was in math, but I had the full LA breadth requirements anyway.) So, to answer the last question, I'd have to answer "writing, philosophy, and whatever" rather than "yes".

All STEM fields require some mathematics and some science (likely physics) as far as I know. They require a similar approach to things. I think it's as good a classification as Liberal Arts.

Comment: Re:This should be free (Score 1) 162

I was describing the CA system, of course, which relies on trusted third parties, which in fact I don't trust. What keeps me doing commerce on the Web is convenience and the ability to repudiate false transactions. There's got to be something like a hundred CAs shipped with the Firefox I'm using, and the odds that at least one is compromised (and all the attacker needs is one) are pretty high.

That being said, I see problems with your approach.

My bank and I have certain information about me known. That's because it's my bank, and I filled out the application. This is essentially out-of-band information transfer, which makes any crypto scheme easier. However, my birth date, street address, and phone number are not difficult to find. Neither, really, is my account number, since I give it out to people by writing checks. What's more, we need to have dynamic, not static, key generation, since otherwise we can't guard against a replay attack (assuming I haven't changed my birth date since last transaction). The key also has to be generated on the web page, presumably in Javascript, and that Javascript is available to the bad guys. It's possible to have an application from the bank that I run on my computer instead, and this allows much more security.

However, I have a niche hobby, and wind up doing business with small, scattered merchants for fairly low amounts of money. It isn't worth my while to fly to Florida to establish out-of-band information transfer with a place I'm going to place three $150 orders with during the next two years, and then to Connecticut for the next guy. If I have no way of buying from these people online, the Net becomes a lot less useful. There's nothing that the hobby shop in Florida is going to know about me that any bad guy can't find out easily (except, I suppose, my order history). I don't see how to avoid some form of trusted third party here.

Moreover, it's iffy at best to send a strong encryption key using a weakly keyed system. You might get away with it by sending very little with the weak key, reducing the attack surface somewhat, but you'd have to ask somebody who actually knows crypto about that one.

There's no reason for megabyte-sized keys. There's no real evidence that anybody can crack AES-128, although a sufficiently large quantum computer (which may never be feasible) could crack it by splitting it into two 64-bit search spaces. There's no real evidence that anybody can crack AES-256, and a sufficiently large quantum computer won't work there, because a 128-bit search space is far too large to search if we're only using all the resources of the solar system from now until the Sun dies If we're dealing with RSA, we'd have to find two prime numbers with about 8 million bits each, and that gets difficult since the density of primes out that far is going to be about one in five or six million numbers, and testing for primality is going to be time-consuming.

"Anyone attempting to generate random numbers by deterministic means is, of course, living in a state of sin." -- John Von Neumann