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Comment: Re:the solution: (Score 1) 493

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: He's right but Mars isn't far enough (Score 1) 498

by HangingChad (#48035169) Attached to: Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity

He's right that we need to get populations of humans off this rock if the species is going to survive. Mars might be a good first step, but we need to think about more distance, Mars is too close. The gamma ray burst that kills off life on earth would just as easily kill everyone on Mars. If the problem was a wandering neutron star it's going to savage everything in its path.

We need to think about sending generational ships into space. Maybe we can't do it right now, but we should be working toward that goal. Perhaps Musk is thinking that generational ships are too big of a step with current technology and that we need to get comfortable spending longer times in space before aiming higher.

Comment: Re:Completely Contained? (Score 1) 449

by hey! (#48031825) Attached to: Ebola Has Made It To the United States

Ebola is (according to the summary) completely contained in Nigeria and Senegal. This 2014 outbreak is all over West Africa, and according to TFA (I know, I know) the patient had just returned from Liberia, a West African country where the current outbreak has (obviously) not been contained.

Someone bringing this virus back is not so surprising. The big deal will be when we have our first case of endemic transmission -- when someone *catches* the virus here.

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: No sensible person ever though it was impossible (Score 2, Informative) 163

by daveschroeder (#48027003) Attached to: Apple Fixes Shellshock In OS X

But even here, again, when you look at a typical OS X desktop system, now many people:

1. Have apache enabled AND exposed to the public internet (i.e., not behind a NAT router, firewall, etc)?

2. Even have apache or any other services enabled at all?

...both of which would be required for this exploit. The answer? Vanishingly small to be almost zero.

So, in the context of OS X, it's yet another theoretical exploit; "theoretical" in the sense that it effects essentially zero conventional OS X desktop users. Could there have been a worm or other attack vector which then exploited the bash vulnerability on OS X? Sure, I suppose. But there wasn't, and it's a moot point since a patch is now available within days of the disclosure.

And people running OS X as web servers exposed to the public internet, with the demise of the standalone Mac OS X Server products as of 10.6, is almost a thing of yesteryear itself.

Nothing has changed since that era: all OSes have always been vulnerable to attacks, both via local and remote by various means, and there have been any number of vulnerabilities that have only impacted UN*X systems, Linux and OS X included, and not Windows, over very many years. So yeah, nothing has changed, and OS X (and iOS) is still a very secure OS, by any definition or viewpoint of the definition of "secure", when viewed alongside Windows (and Android).

Comment: Re:Statistical Literature (Score 1) 124

Oh, god. Mel Gibson's 1990 Hamlet was awful. It was the most asinine thing I've ever seen. Shakespeare for people who really *are* dummies. Reportedly it was director Franco Zeffirelli's attempt to make Shakespeare "less cerebral" and more accessible to the masses. What a choice to try that with! The whole point of Hamlet is that he's so damned smart the only person who can really stand in his way is him.

My point was that you've got to find an actor who can give a knowledgeable performance. Not some meat-head action star stunt cast miles out of his depth. I'd rather watch Arnold Schwarzenegger Hamlet.

I think the best film adaptation of Hamlet I've seen was Kenneth Branaugh's 1996 version, although it is long, long, long at 242 minutes (to Gibsons' 134 minutes). Olivier's 1948 Hamlet is generally highly regarded, but it's too sentimental for my taste. Haven't seen Derek Jacobi's 1980 BBC performance, but I've heard good things about it. I've seen snippets of the David Tennant Hamlet, and it looks promising, although it's hard to shake the impression that it's Dr. Who playing Hamlet.

Comment: Re:No he didn't (Score 5, Insightful) 215

by hey! (#48024477) Attached to: Man Walks Past Security Screening Staring At iPad, Causing Airport Evacuation

Exactly. Security screwed up, and then they HAD to deal with it. It's not mere security theater to have a security checkpoint. Those checkpoints are demonstrably important.

Not many of us remember, but until 1973 there was no baggage screening, no metal detectors, and no id requirements for getting on a commercial flight. The number of skyjackings had climbed rapidly since the mid-50s so that in 1972 there were 11 skyjackings of commercial flights around the world, seven in the US.

After security checkpoints were introduced in the US, there wasn't another skyjacking in the US for three years. Then an occasional one now and then, as people found loopholes. There was one passenger airliner hijacking of a flight FROM the US in all the 1980s and none in the 1990s.

My conclusion is that the security measures put in place by 1990 were highly effective. 9/11 fit the pattern of the early dribs-and-drabs hijackings, the difference is Al Qaeda made an effort to do multiple simultaneous exploitations of the vulnerability they'd found. There hasn't been a hijacking of a US flight since then, but given that the last passenger hijacking BEFORE 9/11 was in 1987, it's likely that this long dry spell is mostly if not entirely due to banning blades from carry on luggage. That's not to say that EVERY other change since then is security theater. I think reinforcing cockpit doors and changing pilot training was a reasonable response. But a lot of the enhanced pat-downs, magic scanners, no-fly list shennanigans and such are no doubt bogus.

Comment: Re:net metering != solar and 10% needs new physics (Score 1) 475

by hey! (#48024379) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

Your analysis depends on two assumptions. First, that at the daily peak the amount of solar produced exceeds the total demand for electricity. That's actually quite likely to happen in the long term in certain locations -- sunny, densely developed residential neighborhoods for example -- but not in others -- in a neighborhood that has a steel mill. Maybe in the short term in a few places if the adoption of rooftop solar accelerates even more.

One of the ways to alleviate this would be to improve the distribution grid so that the excess supply could be sold further away. But lets say the day comes that the peak solar production exceeds the total electricity demand. That brings us to the second assumption.

The second assumption is that electricity is charged at a flat rate all day long. Clearly if lots of excess solar is being produced at noontime, you could easily reduce the cost you charge to electricity consumers (or pay back to electricity). We already do peak vs. off peak rates for industrial users.

This combination of grid improvements and reduced peak rates will encourage people and businesses to concentrate their power usage around noon. Maybe you'll charge our electric car at a higher rate, or maybe even charge large industrial or household batteries. The losses hardly matter, since we were throwing away the sunshine anyway. Increased noon usage will offset the tendency for electricity rates to fall during peak generation periods.

Am I saying the utilities won't lose a little money in a few isolated spots in the short term? No. What I'm saying is that we're hardly facing some kind of insurmountable singularity. Certainly not any time soon, nor in the long term if we can bring ourselves to prepare for it.

Comment: Re:Hodor (Score 2) 124

Martin will kill off an important character because he has no idea how to write a character arc out of a wet paper bag.

I actually don't think that's true. I think what you're reacting to comes with the epic scale of the novel (SoI&F really is just one, long, continuous work) -- both in word count and the enormous cast of characters. It's a kind of literary clutter. If you boiled Game of Thrones down to the story of Ned Stark's rise and downfall, that would be quite a satisfying (although grim) story arc. The fact that the story goes on and on after that dissipates the emotional impact of that one story line.

At over 1.7 million words currently, Song of Ice and Fire is more than six times as long as typical English translations of the Illiad and Odyssey combined. Think about that. In the time it took you to read just the first volume of Song of Ice and Fire, you could have read BOTH the Illiad and the Odyssey. And as a bonus you'd have read BOTH the Illiad and the Odyssey.

As works go further and further north of 200,000 words, they almost inevitably lose the tight, clockwork structure you expect in a 2 hour stage play or 70,000 word novel. Stories stop feeling like they have a beginning, middle, and end and start to feel more episodic. That happens to some stories well before they hit the 200,000 word mark (American Gods, 183 KWords).

At 473 KWords, Lord of the Rings is one of the rare exceptions. From Rivendell onward it's a marvel of complex yet tightly interwoven structure. But it's a hot steaming mess of false starts up until Ford of Bruinen. Tom Bombadil anyone? I think that it could probably be edited down to 400,000 words without losing much artistically. That's still almost miraculously long for a story that feels like one story.

I have a theory about episodic megastories like Song of Ice and Fire, which is that they aren't catharsis you get from a tightly plotted play or novel. They're about transporting a reader to a world he finds interesting to visit again and again. If so that bodes ill for the the Game of Thrones TV series now that Emilia Clarke has sworn off nude scenes.

Comment: Re:Statistical Literature (Score 1) 124

I don't have to read Shakespeare in Klingon, reading him in the original english is enough to put me to sleep.

Some would say this doesn't deserved to be dignified with a response, but I disagree.

The best introduction to Shakespeares plays is to see them on stage, performed by actors who know how to perform Shakespeare. Because of the shift in language, there's special skill needed for presenting Shakespeare to modern audiences. You'll be amazed at how much you understand. Until you know the play's text you'll be missing a lot too, but in the performance you won't notice that.

I'd go so far as to say it's better to see a Shakespeare play performed first before attempting to read it. Then tackle the text with its footnotes on every line.

Comment: Re:Problem oriented (Score 1) 57

by hey! (#48022831) Attached to: How To Find the Right Open Source Project To Get Involved With

I tried this once. I installed a rather obscure open source app that that turned out to be quite useful to me. But it took me a couple days to get to the point where I could do anything useful with it. And I was only able to do that because I can read source code and have lots of software installation and configuration experience. And because I enjoy a puzzle.

After using the app for a month or two, I thought to myself, "There's got to be thousands and thousands of people who'd benefit from this app, but I bet 99% of the people who try it give up before they have any success. What this project needs is documentation." So I contacted the development team with an offer to write some. I explain that while I'm a developer, not a tech writer, I had written early-adopter oriented documentation for several successful commercial projects, so I knew how to get those people up to speed while the app was still something of a moving target. I also offer to maintain that documentation for at least a year.

I got back a quite haughty response from the project leader stating that he *might* let me write documentation if I became a regular code contributor to the project. Now I'd assumed that his ideas of what documentation was needed might be different from mine, but it turned out he didn't seem interested in documentation at all. Also the response had a weird, hostile vibe; it was as if I'd asked him for hundreds of hours of his time rather than offered him hundreds of mine. So I thanked him for *his* invitation and declined it.

I guess the point is that there are other, social dimensions to choosing a project to contribute to. One of them is whether the project even wants what you have to offer. Another is whether the team seems like people you'd enjoy working with. There are some projects, like the Linux kernel, which are so prestigious that you might well take a lot of crap to be a contributor. But most projects aren't like that.

If you do start our own project, watch the TED video How to Start a Movement.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.