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Comment: Re:Nothing New (Score 1) 628

by jalefkowit (#43319767) Attached to: North Korea Declares a State of War

The U.S.'s "entire post-WW2 force" was not the juggernaut you make it out to be. By 1950 the army that fought WW2 had been demobilized; what remained was a small number of career officers and a mass of conscripts with sub-standard training who did not expect to face a hot war anytime soon. The conventional wisdom among American policymakers was that the atomic bomb had made ground forces obsolete, so keeping up a first-class Army was not a priority for them. Moreover, any serious risk of war was assumed to be coming from the Soviets, so what good forces the Army could muster were clustered in Germany and Western Europe to defend NATO.

The North Koreans' early successes were due to the element of surprise they seized with their invasion of the South, the unpreparedness of the U.S. forces in the theater for a major conflict, and the logistical difficulties of reinforcing them due to the long distances between Korea and the mainland U.S. Despite these handicaps, U.S. general Walton Walker managed to halt the North Korean advance, and MacArthur turned the tide by landing behind North Korean lines at Inchon. Once that happened the NK forces fell apart.

I'm also not sure what you mean about "NK was defending against US with no meaningful manpower support from USSR/China." When it became clear that the North Koreans had collapsed and could not prevent MacArthur from reaching the Chinese border, the Chinese sent large numbers of their own troops down to do the job for them, and they did it well. If it weren't for Chinese intervention the North Korean government would not have survived to see 1951.

Comment: Re:Naivete kills !! (Score 1) 409

by jalefkowit (#43097441) Attached to: The Accidental Betrayal of Aaron Swartz

So your proposal is to have prosecutors who are bad at prosecuting people?

Prosecutors prosecute; that is what they are there for. It's not their job to make the defendant's case for him; that job is defense counsel's. Then a jury weighs the two presentations and decides which one they believe is closer to the facts. It's not a perfect system, but it generally works better than the others.

Comment: Re:not totally irrational (Score 1) 150

You could even get the drawn-out nuclear war by accident.

Assume there's some fraction of the nuclear arsenal held back from the initial exchange as a strategic reserve. Then the sky falls on Washington (or Moscow, or Beijing, or whatever) and command and control over those forces completely disintegrates. Now you've got widely dispersed units with no clear orders having to decide for themselves if being unable to raise command on the radio means they should let their birds fly or not. Some of those units are going to be really out of touch -- missile submarines, say, ordered at the outbreak of war to find a quiet spot at the bottom of the Pacific and sit there silently for a couple of weeks before coming up for new orders -- so you could imagine periodic ragged exchanges breaking out for weeks or months after the war is actually over, as those captains come up and discover that there's nobody around to give them those new orders. Some of them may take that as a signal to launch on their own initiative; others may be under explicit "dead hand" orders to launch unless they are given an affirmative order not to.

The novel Warday , about the aftermath of a limited nuclear exchange between the US and USSR in the mid-'80s, had an interesting chapter along these lines: an "interview" with a Royal Navy destroyer captain tasked in the postwar world with running down remaining Soviet missile submarines and trying to explain to them that the Soviet Union had collapsed and their mission was over. (And with sinking them if they refused to believe it.)

Comment: Wish he'd have been asked directly about Amazon (Score 2) 236

by jalefkowit (#42244607) Attached to: Mark Shuttleworth Answers Your Questions

Full disclosure: I'm a happy Ubuntu user, I actually like Unity, and while I respect RMS' opinion I think the controversy over Canonical including Amazon search results in the Dash has been overblown.

All that being said, I'm disappointed that Shuttleworth wasn't questioned directly about the Amazon integration issue. It was mentioned, but only as one item in a longer list of gripes the submitter had, which allowed Shuttleworth to dance past the issue by talking about how the submitter's gripes were unrepresentative of the public at large ("Ubuntu continues to grow in terms of actual users", etc). If he'd been asked directly to comment on the Amazon decision and the community's response to it, he'd have had less room to wiggle away into generalities.

It's disappointing because (again, even though I personally think it's overblown) the Amazon issue is undeniably the biggest PR hit Ubuntu has taken in a long time; it is directly affecting its perception and standing in the Linux community, which makes it important enough that Shuttleworth should have to talk specifically about why the project has gone in that direction, and how that decision is going to continue to play out in the future.

Comment: Re:We NEED Processor Competition (Score 1) 331

by jalefkowit (#41717733) Attached to: Is Qualcomm the New AMD?

If Amazon eat up all the smaller outlets (including in meatspace), and only two or three car manufacturers remain in the world, I would see that as progress, as it streamlines production, without unnecessary duplication (often by those who would be less efficient anyway).

It certainly would cut out all that complicated "setting competitive prices" stuff that Amazon has to do now. Efficiency FTW!

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 627

If he could convince 5,000 people to give him $10 each, he'd have $50,000.

More than 600,000 people live in his district. 5,000 people is 7/10ths of 1 percent of that population.

If you can't convince a fraction of 1% of the people you want to represent to throw you ten freaking dollars, it is very unlikely that you will be able to convince 50%-plus-one of them to vote for you.

And ten dollar contributions aren't "anyone with money" or "indirect plutocracy." It's a few bucks so you can buy yard signs for your supporters and coffee for your volunteers. People pay more than that for a ticket to a crappy 3D movie.

Comment: Re:Well, that was your mistake. (Score 4, Interesting) 627

According to the State of Massachusetts (warning: PDF), 260,618 people voted in the Congressional race in the 6th District in 2010.

He says he's polling at 7 percent support in that district; let's take him at his word. That means to estimate his base of support we can multiply 7 percent by 260,618, which yields 18,243.

So what would it take to raise $50,000? If he limited himself to raising money strictly from that 7 percent -- who are presumably his base -- he'd only need them to give $2.75 each to hit that mark. Two dollars and seventy-five cents. If he raised his ask to $10 -- still a small ask in the world of political contributions -- he'd have $182,000. That's not a huge amount of money -- the current incumbent spent $2 million in the 2010 cycle -- but it can buy an awful lot of mailers, yard signs, campaign t-shirts, and other tools to get your name and message out. No corporate contributions required.

Look, I'm as big an advocate for getting money out of politics as you're likely to find, but this is simply not a case of being required to raise Big Money in order to play. You don't have to raise Big Money, you just have to raise some money, because without a little money you can't afford the most basic tools a campaign needs to win. There's nothing un-democratic about giving your supporters yard signs. If you can't rouse yourself to gather the resources needed to do even that, it shouldn't come as a shock when people start assuming you're not a serious candidate.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 5, Insightful) 627

Campaign contributions are a useful proxy for "does anyone care that this guy/gal is running." If nobody cares enough about your candidacy to throw you a couple bucks, the odds are very high that you're a marginal/crank candidate rather than a serious one, and candidates with no support shouldn't waste valuable time in a debate. There are other systems you could devise to filter out cranks from a political debate, but they're just as likely to be complained about by the cranks as this one.

Comment: Re:Maybe (Score 1) 242

by jalefkowit (#41349793) Attached to: Are Commercial Games Finally Going To Make It To Linux?

Unfortunately I've met more than a few Linux users who think all software should be no cost, they are just unwilling to consider paying for something. Others will pay, but only a small amount.

It's not a comprehensive answer to the question, but the makers of the Humble Bundles (packs of mostly cross-platform indie games sold through a name-your-own price model) publish their sales figures, and they consistently show Linux-using buyers choosing to pay more than Windows and Mac buyers do -- sometimes much more. (For the first Humble Bundle, for example, the average buyer chose to pay $9.18, but the average Linux-using buyer chose to pay $14.42.) So there's at least some data that suggests that Linux users are not the pikers one might expect them to be.

Comment: Re:Domscheit-Berg (Score 1) 79

by jalefkowit (#41336803) Attached to: Why WikiLeaks' Spinoff OpenLeaks Failed

Anyone can be labeled a spook and you can have people who are spooks who never know they are spooks. There are unwitting spooks who think they aren't.

No there aren't. If you are unwittingly providing intelligence to a spy or other intelligence operative, that makes you an "asset" , not a spook. The spook would be whomever is exploiting you to get to the information.

Wasn't there something about a PASCAL programmer knowing the value of everything and the Wirth of nothing?

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