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Government

Obama Appointee Sunstein Favors Infiltrating Online Groups 689

Posted by timothy
from the freedom-of-somethingeruther dept.
megamerican writes "President Barack Obama's appointee to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs advocated in a recent paper the 'cognitive infiltration' of groups that advocate 'conspiracy theories' like the ones surrounding 9/11 via 'chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine' those groups. Sunstein admits that 'some conspiracy theories, under our definition, have turned out to be true' Sunstein has also recently advocated banning websites which post 'right-wing rumors' and bringing back the Fairness Doctrine. You can find a PDF of his paper here. For decades (1956-1971), the FBI under COINTELPRO focused on disrupting, marginalizing and neutralizing political dissidents, most notably the Black Panthers. More recently CENTCOM announced it would be engaging bloggers 'who are posting inaccurate or untrue information, as well as bloggers who are posting incomplete information.' In January 2009 the USAF released a flow-chart for 'counter-bloggers' to 'counter the people out there in the blogosphere who have negative opinions about the US government and the Air Force.'"

Comment: QWest "Fiber Optic" (Score 1) 256

by grenthar (#30548988) Attached to: Really Misleading Ads From Broadband Providers
Sure that stuff is pretty sleazy, but it doesn't really compare to the stuff QWest has been spamming all over my city. They are advertising their new "fiber optic" service. One would assume based on the ads that they will actually provide you with fiber service. A little investigation (not on their website of course) reveals the truth. It's just regular DSL, they ran some more fiber lines to their exchanges. Qwest may as well just call all their internet services "fiber optic" since your traffic is probably flowing through a fiber network somewhere along the way....
Input Devices

How To Enter Equations Quickly In Class? 823

Posted by timothy
from the napkins-and-a-digital-camera dept.
AdmiralXyz writes "I'm a university student, and I like to take notes on my (non-tablet) computer whenever possible, so it's easier to sort, categorize, and search through them later. Trouble is, I'm going into higher and higher math classes, and typing "f_X(x) = integral(-infinity, infinity, f(x,y) dy)" just isn't cutting it anymore: I need a way to get real-looking equations into my notes. I'm not particular about the details, the only requirement is that I need to keep up with the lecture, so it has to be fast, fast, fast. Straight LaTeX is way too slow, and Microsoft's Equation Editor isn't even worth mentioning. The platform is not a concern (I'm on a MacBook Pro and can run either Windows or Ubuntu in a virtual box if need be), but the less of a hit to battery life, the better. I've looked at several dedicated equation editing programs, but none of them, or their reviews, make any mention of speed. I've even thought about investing in a low-end Wacom tablet (does anyone know if there are ultra-cheap graphics tablets designed for non-artists?), but I figured I'd see if anyone at Slashdot has a better solution."
The Courts

NY Court Says Police Can't Track Suspect With GPS 414

Posted by kdawson
from the when-a-cop-slaps-you-on-the-back-check-your-back dept.
SoundGuyNoise sends in a story that brings into relief just how unsettled is the question of whether police can use GPS to track suspects without a warrant. Just a couple of days ago a Wisconsin appeals court ruled that such tracking is OK; and today an appeals court in New York reached the opposite conclusion. "It was wrong for a police investigator to slap a GPS tracking device under a defendant's van to track his movements, the state's top court ruled today. A sharply divided NY Court of Appeals, in a 4-3 decision, reversed the burglary conviction of defendant Scott Weaver, 41, of Watervliet. Four years ago, State Police tracked Weaver over 65 days in connection with the burglary investigation."
Cellphones

Mobile Wi-Fi Hot Spot 202

Posted by kdawson
from the boy-in-a-bubble dept.
bsharma writes to let us know about a little goodie that we will be able to buy starting May 17: a battery-powered, rechargeable, cellular, Wi-Fi hot spot that you can put in your pocket. "What if you had a personal Wi-Fi bubble, a private hot spot, that followed you everywhere you go? Incredibly, there is such a thing. It's the Novatel MiFi 2200, available from Verizon starting in mid-May ($100 with two-year contract, after rebate). It's a little wisp of a thing, like a triple-thick credit card. It has one power button, one status light and a swappable battery that looks like the one in a cellphone. When you turn on your MiFi and wait 30 seconds, it provides a personal, portable, powerful, password-protected wireless hot spot. ... If you just want to do e-mail and the Web, you pay $40 a month for the service (250 megabytes of data transfer, 10 cents a megabyte above that). If you watch videos and shuttle a lot of big files, opt for the $60 plan (5 gigabytes). And if you don't travel incessantly, the best deal may be the one-day pass: $15 for 24 hours, only when you need it. In that case, the MiFi itself costs $270." The device has its Wi-Fi password printed on the bottom, so you can invite someone to join your network simply by showing it to them.

Comment: Re:They don't need the litigation anymore (Score 5, Insightful) 221

by grenthar (#27335421) Attached to: RIAA Backs Down In Texas Case

My favorite line was the part where you are forbidden to:
* undertake or accomplish any unlawful purpose. This includes, but is not limited to, posting, storing, transmitting or disseminating information, data or material which ... in any way constitutes or encourages conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, or otherwise violate any local, state, federal, or non-U.S. law, order, or regulation....

Good to know that in order to be eligible for Comcast service, you you must submit to the laws of China, North Korea, Iran, and the orders of every other petty dictator on the planet....

Comment: Re:It begins with the end of cheap petroleum. (Score 1) 409

by grenthar (#27307877) Attached to: I expect the last human on Earth to be born ...

The current human population level is entirely dependent on industrial scale agriculture. Our current agricultural practices are dependent on fertilizers. Nitrate fertilizers require a source of energy and a source of hydrogen, and petroleum serves as the cheap source of both of these things. There is a fixed amount of petroleum on Earth, which we are consuming at an astounding pace. Eventually (I'm not going to guess exactly when, but certainly at some point) the price of petroleum is going to skyrocket as the available supply dwindles. (I just don't see the demand ever falling off significantly, the stuff is just too useful.)

Now I'm not sure what the eventual equilibrium is going to work out as, but whatever energy source we eventually settle on will probably be more expensive than petroleum. The price of nitrate fertilizers will have to go up commensurately. If that happens, then the volume of food produced will go down. Given that food is something that is really truly needed for survival, if the production capacity drops below the required volume to sustain the population the price will necessarily rise to a point where anyone below a certain income level cannot afford to eat. (If enough food is produced for a billion people, then the billionth most productive person will be spending their entire economic output to eat, and the billion-and-first person starves.) Then there is widespread famine and political unrest, the results of which are hard to predict. There will probably be wars.

The issue at hand is the end of the human race, so I gave what I consider to be the most likely scenario for the downfall of advanced civilization, which is clearly a prerequisite for the extinction of the species. It certainly isn't guaranteed to play out this way, and I hope it doesn't, but it is what I consider to be the most feasible trigger for some sort of apocalyptic war.

Comment: It begins with the end of cheap petroleum. (Score 1) 409

by grenthar (#27299001) Attached to: I expect the last human on Earth to be born ...
I envision a massive dieoff when the price of petroleum rises to the point that makes fertilizers prohibitively expensive. Advanced civilization may survive for a couple hundred years after that. Then we face a protracted slow march into oblivion as a degrading ecological situation makes life more and more difficult.

Comment: Re:Copyright definitely kills innovation (Score 4, Informative) 597

by grenthar (#27144425) Attached to: Copyright and Patent Laws Hurt the Economy
You obviously have _ZERO_ idea how academic publishing works. Scientists usually have to pay hefty fees to submit their work to a journal. After that the papers are peer reviewed by other scientists. You might think the scientists who do the reviewing get paid. In fact they do not, it is typical to do this for free. Scientists want their work to be out there and be used by other people, who will then cite their work. When their work gets cited they gain standing and can get better jobs. Making it impossible for other people to get their hands on their research is definitely not in the author's interest. Furthermore, a good deal of research is paid for by tax or phianthropically funded grants. Yet another reason the results ought to be freely available.

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