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Comment Re:Proprietary Software (Score 1) 393

You can't use your fix to post right now, in this thread, today. But you can use your fix in the future in three different ways.

1) Submit a patch to the Slashdot code. It will find its way into production eventually.

2) Submit a patch to the Slashdot code, and when it's committed, run it on your own servers. If better unicode support matters to enough people, your service will pull users away from Slashdot.

3) Fork the Slashdot code, proceed as in (2).

Comment Re:Proprietary Software (Score 1) 393

What's to stop someone from releasing the source of a "cloud" application? In point of fact, a great deal of the "cloud" infrastructure -- e.g., several web servers -- is already open. The question of where an app happens to be running is irrelevant to the question of whether it is open/free.

Comment Re:It's so very odd..... (Score 1) 1376

I find it useful to think in terms of two axes, atheism-theism and agnosticism-gnosticism.

The theism axis addresses the question of whether god (however defined) exists, as if that question were answerable as a matter of objective fact.

The gnosticism axis addresses the question of whether it is possible for a human being to *know* definitively that god either does or does not exist.

So, for example, Richard Dawkins is a gnostic atheist, while C. S. Lewis was an agnostic theist.

Comment Re:the blackout was a good idea (Score 1) 414

How is keeping a journalist alive "political ends"?

How is it not? You're using policy tools (choosing to conceal the truth) to influence decision-making and behavior by others (the kidnappers and allied groups). Hard to imagine a more political end.

Political decisions often (perhaps more often than not, at the national level) end up resulting in life-or-death outcomes. Even something as mundane as highway funding is a life-or-death issue. Lower funding leads to more dangerous roads, marginally increasing the rate of fatal accidents. Politicians and the public see it as a 0.7% increase in a statistic on a chart, but a lot of real people very much like you died horribly to make that little bump happen.

In the end, everything in politics comes down to relative-value judgments. Is it worth spending a billion dollars to improve the highways, or should we spend that billion on early education? Should we value freedom of expression on Wikipedia more highly than increased risk to an individual reporter, or vice versa? These are hard ethical problems. People of good intent can honestly arrive at differing solutions to them.

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten