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Comment: Re:the solution: (Score 1) 423

by IamTheRealMike (#48039983) Attached to: The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

Otherwise, it's just lip service. Your government is already ignoring your Constitution on a large scale, but apparently nobody gives a damn

I am not American, still, I do truly believe that hundreds of millions of Americans do give a damn.

The problem is not giving a damn. The problem is that guns are a stupid way to try and change governments, and everyone there must intuitively understand this. I keep reading comments by 2nd amendment fundamentalists saying they're packing guns so they can overthrow the government .... in case it becomes tyrannical. But this day will never arrive, no matter what the US Gov does.

The first problem is that if you go it alone, if you're a solo shooter, you can't achieve anything and will be killed immediately, then written off as mentally unstable. This does happen in the USA and in at least one case the shooter did claim they were rebelling against the government. Regardless, such events are zero impact.

The second problem is that if you try to team up with like minded people and form a group of armed citizens who are going to engage in a revolutionary coup, you will need to communicate in order to find such people, and at that point you are very likely to attract the attention of law enforcement who have totalitarian surveillance powers and the ability to move against "cults" or "terrorists". And almost by definition if you're trying to overthrow the government through force of arms instead of the ballot box you can be described as a domestic terrorist. You will end up sitting in jail for many years, and most people will likely never hear of you, or if they do read about your case in the papers they will just forget about you.

The third problem is that if you do somehow overcome the first two problems and succeed in forming some kind of revolutionary militia, taking over some territory and defending it against the US army in a new American civil war, you will need a system of government for that territory. How exactly you prevent that new government from eventually going the same way as the existing government would be an open question - attempting to encode the principles of the new state in a constitution apparently doesn't work very well, and I don't see many other ideas from the "guns give us freedom!!" crowd. This is the problem repeatedly encountered by countries in the Middle East where governments are overthrown (without guns, normally) and then tend to get immediately replaced with something worse.

So for these reasons the notion that Americans are free because of guns just doesn't seem to line up with common sense, to me. I cannot imagine any situation in which civil war in the USA would be allowed to happen - civil war is so universally catastrophic that an overwhelming majority of American's would strongly support forcible suppression of an armed uprising using all the tools of a professional army. Your Glock ain't gonna do anything against a Predator drone.

Comment: Re:CloudFlare is a nightmare for anonymity (Score 1) 66

by IamTheRealMike (#48027061) Attached to: CloudFlare Announces Free SSL Support For All Customers

Occams Razor says ...... networks like Tor which are incapable of handling abuse by design ...... get a lot of abuse! So not surprisingly networks that have advanced anti-abuse controls in place throttle it a lot. Otherwise you're just asking to get crawled by SQL injector searchers and so on. This is not CloudFlare's problem, it's inherent in how Tor works and what it's trying to achieve. Solving it means finding a way to trade off anonymity against accountability using user reputation systems or the like, but the Tor project has shown little interest in implementing such a thing, so all Tor users get treated as a whole.

Comment: Re:"stashes its cash" (Score 1) 363

by tlambert (#48000997) Attached to: Microsoft On US Immigration: It's Our Way Or the Canadian Highway

As for reproduction, I would say that issues that are not in the domain of choice, are not in the domain of ethics. The presumption (dubious as it may be) is that people in general could choose to be in the same financial conditions as multinational corporations. The reasonableness of this disparity in activities seems to directly correlate with the degree one accepts the notion they could (perhaps if they "worked harder"), as you seem to have alluded to yourself. If one simply and clearly cannot, regardless of any questions of individual choice, engage in a particular activity, I would see this as excluding their circumstances from morality or ethics entirely, and therefore others acting otherwise who are in the domain of choice in that respect, would not run contrary to the Categorical Imperative.

I would argue that the amount of effort one puts out is not directly related to the value of ones efforts to society, and that one is generally paid based on the value of their work to the larger society.

By this measure, people incapable of extraordinary feats, "cannot, regardless o any questions of individual choice" achieve extraordinary feats. Bill Gates (as an example) was capable of building a company with revenues such that it was able to take advantage of the tax laws in such a way as to leverage an increase in personal wealth. That someone else can't would therefore exclude their circumstances (and thus the consequences of their circumstances) from morality or ethics entirely (by your own argument).

Thus person A's accumulation of wealth is not immoral or unethical, merely because person B is incapable of doing the same.

I think the problem that most people get tangled up in here is exactly what financial wealth does and does not represent. It represents the ability to do work now in return for a marker that allows one to call upon societies resources and labor at some future point in time to accomplish some goal of their choosing. The assumption implicit in the mind of most people who abhor accumulation of wealth is that the government is better able to direct the resources and labor of society, even though the government has not demonstrated the ability to provide sufficient value to society to accumulate such markers, whole people such as Andrew Carnegie have done so. I have serious doubts that something like the Carnegie Free Library system would have come about without the accumulation of said markers by an individual, who then spent them in such an endeavor. Government unfortunately is incapable of long term thing beyond the next election cycle. The only time this is not true is when term limit or self limits kick in. Even then, we've seen second term presidents compromise their ethical and moral positions, despite the fact that there is no chance of their reelection due to term limits.

Comment: Bash needs to remove env-based procedure passing (Score 4, Interesting) 236

by m.dillon (#47999281) Attached to: First Shellshock Botnet Attacking Akamai, US DoD Networks

It's that simple. Even with the patches, bash is still running the contents of environment variables through its general command parser in order to parse the procedure. That's ridiculously dangerous... the command parser was never designed to be secure in that fashion. The parsing of env variables through the command parser to pass sh procedures OR FOR ANY OTHER REASON should be removed from bash outright. Period. End of story. Light a fire under the authors someone. It was stupid to use env variables for exec-crossing parameters in the first place. No other shell does it that I know of.

This is a major attack vector against linux. BSD systems tend to use bash only as an add-on, but even BSD systems could wind up being vulnerable due to third party internet-facing utilities / packages which hard-code the use of bash.


Comment: Re:Show Equal Investment in College Hires (Score 1) 363

by tlambert (#47998461) Attached to: Microsoft On US Immigration: It's Our Way Or the Canadian Highway

I'm fine with H1B sponsorship, so long as a company can show they put an equal about of time, money and resources into college hire and training programs.

It is not an employers job to make your labor a marketable commodity. That's your job, until you are hired into another one.

If everyone came to the table with zero ability in a given field, how should an employer know the difference between an untrained person who can be trained to the task, and an untrained person who is ineducable, and will never be equal to the task? Are you seriously suggesting hire/train/fire, hire/train/fire until they find a good employee?

When I first started programming it was very common for me to see programming interns and college hires. I consult with many mid and large companies, and I haven't seen a programming intern in 7 years. I've seen two college hires in that time as well.

I think you are perhaps working in a dying segment of the industry. If you are not seeing new blood coming in, then it's likely that where/what you're working on is on its way out. That's actually typically good news for a consultant, because it means that there will be consulting opportunities, but it also means that non-consulting opportunities will be rare, unless a position opens up through retirement or mishap.

I personally worked with a large number of interns and new graduate hires at IBM, again at Apple, and again at Google. I was increasingly involved in the interviewing and hiring process along the way, and had no problem recommending hiring a capable newly graduated person. In the past 10 years, I've worked with literally 50 or 60 interns, in advisory, partially supervisory, or fully supervisory roles.

Comment: Re: FWD.US lies, just like its founder, Zuckerberg (Score 1) 363

by tlambert (#47998373) Attached to: Microsoft On US Immigration: It's Our Way Or the Canadian Highway

I would even go one step further: They can only hire an H1-B if they did not offer these jobs (and any training) to the 18,000 people laid off.

In other words, someone hacking on Office could be offered a job writing software for XBox with minimal re-training.

They aren't laying off Office hackers. The Office hackers are still employed, hacking Office.

They predominantly laid of former Nokia employees, who demonstrably were unable to produce products people wanted to buy.

Comment: Re:We just laid off a ton of people (Score 1) 363

by tlambert (#47998357) Attached to: Microsoft On US Immigration: It's Our Way Or the Canadian Highway

That drives me crazy. Laying off thousands and then complaining they cannot get foreign workers. Talk about gall!

The don't want foreign workers, they just want someone who can do the job.

Why do you think someone who worked the last 15 years at an automotive assembly plant in Detroit, where their major skill set for the job was torquing down bolts on body panels on gas guzzlers designed by people with zero aesthetic sense, but who is now unemployed because no one wants the product of their labor, is magically capable of writing O(n log n) algorithms to sift through large amounts of data?

So it just happens to be that the unemployed American with no marketable skills is not the one they're going to hire for the job.

Comment: Re:"stashes its cash" (Score 1) 363

by tlambert (#47998291) Attached to: Microsoft On US Immigration: It's Our Way Or the Canadian Highway

But just because you don't have the cash flow to make it worthwhile to do the same thing the companies are doing, doesn't make what the companies are doing illegal.

Correct. It makes it unethical.

I don't see how this follows, unless the laws themselves are unethical, since the laws themselves encourage the behaviour.

See Kant's Categorical Imperative on this. If you posit a behavioral norm that you can not simultaneously advocate equally applying to -everyone else-, it is not a rational stance, ethically.

Actually, the categorical imperative, of the first formulation, deals with morals, rather than ethics.

Ethics originate in the self, and are independent of morality. Morals originate in the imposition by society of behavioral mores (hence "morality") upon the individual, and while not always, generally result in punitive action by society, and are thus social tenets through threat and coercion. In a religious society, this may be the threat of hell; in a civil society, this may be the thread of fines, incarceration, corporal punishment up to and including death, etc..

In other words, we are ethical because we are wired that way, and we are moral under threat, unless a given more happens to coincide with one of our ethics.

The two concepts are often confused by amateur philosophers, since we tend, in English, to use the term "professional ethics" for what are in fact a set of morals (e.g. failure to follow codes of conduct for a lawyer can result in disbarrment, etc. - professional ethics are always backed by threat of punishment for misbehavior),

The fact "they" are incapable for practical reasons of reproducing your behavior, does not create an ethical exemption.

Leaving aside whether it would be an ethical or moral exception (if the former, it should be codified into law, so that it becomes a social more as well)...

Interpreting the term "universal law" in this fashion - which I believe is not how Kant intended it to be interpreted - leads very quickly to a reductio ad absurdum of the type Phillip K. Dick wrote in his "handicapper" story:

By this same argument, your ability to reproduce should be subservient to the ability of those who are sterile to reproduce, and therefore, it would be unethical for you to reproduce, if you could not offer that same ability to everyone else.

Comment: Re:"stashes its cash" (Score 2) 363

by tlambert (#47994329) Attached to: Microsoft On US Immigration: It's Our Way Or the Canadian Highway

Your comment would have more value if Microsoft was actually being taxed on its overseas income somewhere but it is my understanding that they move all the money through Ireland and the Caribbean thereby avoiding any taxation. They are not being good US or world citizens. They take money from everywhere and pay a share of taxes nowhere.

This is actually incorrect. They pay a lower tax rate by doing this, they don't pay a zero tax rate. Depending on the corporate tax bracket, income tax is paid in Ireland at 25%, 12.5%, or 10%.

Then, because both it and Ireland are E.U. countries, the money is transferred to Belgium, which due to E.U. law does not have a tax applied on that transfer.

Then, due to treaty, it's transferred to the Bahamas, which like Bangladesh, Bahrain, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Central African Republic, Chile, Estonia, Malta, the Marshall Islands, Saudi Arabi (if you're a Saudi), Sri Lanka, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the United Arab Emirates, and the British Virgin Islands, all have a 0% corporate income tax rate.

Note that the other 0% countries are less desirable than the Bahamas, due to political instability, less friendly banking laws, and citizenship requirements on corporate ownership (some), but they are all viable ways, through one treaty or another, of transferring money from Ireland, and then out of the E.U. at low/no cost to the corporation.

The transfer is usually in the form of intellectual property licensing fees, which is a legitimate business expense in Ireland, and also in Belgium, but can also be in terms of contracted management services/consulting fees as well.

Second choices from Ireland would be Bulgaria (10% corporate tax) and Gibralter (10% corporate tax), since they are both E.U. member countries, followed by Latvia and Lithuania (15% corporate tax), also E.U. member states.

Not that all of this is perfectly legal, and you could do it too, if you wanted, but you'd need a pretty substantial cash flow to justify the set up costs for the corporate mechanisms you'd need to put in place to establish the pipeline.

I keep waiting for some company to establish the pipeline for individual consultants, who incorporate in the Bahamas and incorporate in their home countries, and then the middleman company takes a 1-2% fee of transfers through the pipeline as a service fee for establishing the pipeline connection between John Doe, Inc., Bahamas and John Doe, Inc., France/UK/Germany/wherever.

But just because you don't have the cash flow to make it worthwhile to do the same thing the companies are doing, doesn't make what the companies are doing illegal.

If you don't like them paying less taxes by scrupulously following the rules, then change the rules, but don't bitch about them being better at following the rules to their benefit than you are at following the rules to your own personal benefit.

Comment: Re:"stashes its cash" (Score 1) 363

by tlambert (#47994097) Attached to: Microsoft On US Immigration: It's Our Way Or the Canadian Highway

No one is arguing that. What the right wing argues is that the rich people are investing their money and not stuffing it in their mattress. So the theory is that if you whack them, they won't invest as much. I have yet to see a real analysis that proves or disproves this.

Logically speaking, wouldn't whacking all the rich people leave an economic investment vacuum? If so, wouldn't all the poor people move in to fill that vacuum by investing their money in place of the rich peoples money?

Oh wait, I'm starting to see the proof you are missing as somewhat self-evident...

Comment: government is open to a "broader discussion" (Score 1) 38

by tlambert (#47992245) Attached to: US Asks Universities To Flag Risky Pathogen Experiments

Yes, we know that it pisses you off that we've put these 15 things onto the naughty list, and that you have to think in terms of weaponizing your research to cure cancer in order to know whether or not that research could be Used For Evil(tm), not that we'd ever take this list as a handy list of items to keep on hand for future nefarious purposes ourselves, because, after all, we're The Good Guys(tm).

To show that our heart's in the right place, we're open to discussion about expanding this list to even more things! See how not-evil we are?!?! What other things, besides these 15 do you think you could weaponize? Think out of the box, folks, we're here to help you!

Comment: Re:There is no political solution. (Score 5, Insightful) 212

by IamTheRealMike (#47991211) Attached to: Australian Senate Introduces Laws To Allow Total Internet Surveillance

It would be nice if that were the case. Unfortunately it's hard to see how it can be. The technology industry has a poor track record of deploying truly strong end to end privacy protections, partly because the physics of how computers work mean that outsourcing things to big powerful third parties that can be easily subverted is very common. E.g. my mobile phone can search gigabytes of email from the last decade in a split second and rank it by importance, despite having nowhere near enough computing capacity to really do that itself, only because it's relying on the Gmail servers to help it out.

That same phone can receive calls only because the mobile network knows where it is. How do you build a mobile phone that is invulnerable to government monitoring of its location? It doesn't seem technically possible. The only solution is to ensure that anonymous SIM cards are easily obtained and used, but many countries have made those illegal as part of the war on drugs.

This trend towards outsourcing, specialisation and sharing of data to obtain useful features is ideal for governments who can then go ahead and silently obtain access to people's information without those people knowing about it. I do not see it reversing any time soon. The best we're going to achieve in the near term future is encryption of links between devices and datacenters, but this doesn't help when politicians are simply voting themselves the power to go reach in to those datacenters.

Ultimately the only long term solutions here can be political, and I fear we will need a far longer and larger history of abuses to become visible before the majority will really shift on this. The problem is a large age skew. Older people skew heavily authoritarian, if you believe the opinion polls, and are much more likely to support this kind of spying. Perhaps they associate it with the cold war. Perhaps the old adage "a libertarian is a republican who wasn't mugged yet" has some truth to it. Whatever the cause, the 1960's baby boom means that demographically, older people can outvote younger people as a block, and for this reason there aren't really any fiscally conservative, economically trusted AND individual rights-respecting parties in the main English speaking countries. People get to pick between borrow-and-spend socialists with an authoritarian bent, and fiscal conservatives with an authoritarian bent, so surprise surprise we end up with people in power who are authoritarians.

Thus spake the master programmer: "After three days without programming, life becomes meaningless." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"