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Comment: Heading backwards (Score 1) 729

by jcohen (#41217101) Attached to: Do We Need a Longer School Year?

The LA Unified School District, starved for funds, has cut one week of instruction from the school year; it is threatening to cut a month from the school year if Proposition 30 (temporary tax hikes) doesn't go through. Public education in California is headed into the toilet, and it's taking the students with it.

Comment: Is ignorance bliss? (Score 1) 239

by jcohen (#40952875) Attached to: Beware the Nocebo Effect

Up until now, when my doctor prescribed something for me, I always looked at the datasheet the pharmacist gave me and sometimes looked the drug up on the NIH website to find out about the side effects. I am somewhat suggestible; would I be better off not looking at drug information lest I get psychosomatic side effects? I can see some potential problems, like dying due to my failing to read some other crucial parts of the datasheet.

+ - Computational Folkloristics->

Submitted by
codeToDiscovery
codeToDiscovery writes "This recently published article in the Communications of the ACM got me thinking about the intimate ties between storytelling, role playing games, and computational modeling and domain nomenclature.

From the introduction:

The study of folklore, or folkloristics, is predicated on two premises: traditional expressive culture circulates across and within social networks, and discrete "performances" of traditional expressive forms serve an important role as the locus for the ongoing negotiation of cultural ideology (norms, beliefs, and values). The underlying assumption is that folklore emerges from the dialectic tension between individual members of a cultural group on the one hand and the "traditions" of that group on the other. This ongoing tug-of-war ensures that traditional expressive culture is constantly changing, adjusting to the needs of the individuals within a group."

Link to Original Source

Comment: The "noble lie" (Score 4, Interesting) 471

It would follow that, in order to achieve these socially desirable ends,e.g., lower crime rates, governments and religions should instill and promulgate belief in a vengeful God and in divine punishment. Plato had much the same idea in his Republic when he introduced the idea of the "noble lie", a constructed mythology that would be taught to all in order to promote social harmony and love of the State. Excellent for the myth-makers, who shape our minds for our own good -- and their own benefit.

Comment: Vaporware? (Score 1) 81

by jcohen (#37334384) Attached to: IBM, 3M Team To Glue Together Silicon "Bricks"

Isn't this story a little vaporwarish? The companies "hope to develop" these new techniques and materials. There's no mention of an underlying discovery which the two companies might help each other commercialize. There's just this idea -- "Gee, wouldn't it be cool if we could do this? Let's look into it!" Is this actually news yet?

Comment: They got me once (Score 1) 374

by jcohen (#36090114) Attached to: Cellphones Get Government Chips For Disaster Alert

I remember the first time California used the Emergency Alert System to broadcast the "Amber Alert" child abduction notices. When I was a kid, I had dreams of hearing those tones, followed by the announcement that a nuclear war had just begun. Now, my heart leapt into my throat -- we were all going to die. When the voice came on to say that there had been a child abduction, I was partially relieved -- by comparison to the prospect of nuclear annihilation -- but also royally pissed off. Really. Earthquake. Tornado. Nuclear war. Broadcast those on the Emergency Alert System. Not the other stuff.

+ - What Do You Do With A Disruptive Discovery? 3

Submitted by jcohen
jcohen (131471) writes "Suppose that you've just discovered a way of making a computationally hard bit of math very, very easy. You've written out your proof, you've verified it, you've written code, and now, say, you're factorizing colossal primes at the rate of 1,000 per second. What's next? The consequences could be huge. How do you get another set of eyes on it to make sure that you're not just another crackpot, and that your results are right? Do you disclose your discovery? How? To whom? To your country's intelligence agency? To the public? What are the conceivable answers to these questions that would have the best consequences for you or for the world?"
Security

+ - China Penetrated NSA's Classified Operating System 2

Submitted by
Pickens
Pickens writes "Seymour M. Hersh writes in the New Yorker that after an American EP-3E Aries II reconnaissance plane on an eavesdropping mission collided with a Chinese interceptor jet over the South China Sea in 2001 and landed at a Chinese F-8 fighter base on Hainan Island, the 24 member crew were unable to completely disable the plane’s equipment and software. The result? The Chinese kept the plane for three months and eventually reverse-engineered the plane’s NSA.-supplied operating system, estimated at between thirty and fifty million lines of computer code, giving China a road map for decrypting the Navy’s classified intelligence and operational data. “If the operating system was controlling what you’d expect on an intelligence aircraft, it would have a bunch of drivers to capture radar and telemetry,” says Whitfield Diffie, a pioneer in the field of encryption. “The plane was configured for what it wants to snoop, and the Chinese would want to know what we wanted to know about them—what we could intercept and they could not.” Despite initial skepticism, over the next few years the US intelligence community began to “read the tells” that China had gotten access to sensitive traffic and in early 2009, Admiral Timothy J. Keating, then the head of the Pacific Command, brought the issue to the new Obama Administration. "If China had reverse-engineered the EP-3E’s operating system, all such systems in the Navy would have to be replaced, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars," writes Hersch. "After much discussion, several current and former officials said, this was done" prompting some black humor from US naval officers. “This is one hell of a way to go about getting a new operating system.”""

+ - Everyday Security in a World of Word

Submitted by jcohen
jcohen (131471) writes "My job as an editor involves opening random Microsoft Word documents from random people all day. So far, I have been very lucky that I have not gotten pwned as a result; I run Norton Internet Security, but I know that in practical terms this is next to useless. Something has happened that makes me acutely aware of the possibility of a malicious attack by this means.

What is the best possible way of avoiding this risk? I have to use Word; as nice as OpenOffice is, it does not do a good job of preserving the picky levels of Word-specific formatting I deal with day to day. I have to use .doc. Again, a lot of the picky stuff I deal with gets boiled off when you convert to RTF. I've thought of running a VirtualBox session in which I run Word/Crossover Office/Ubuntu, but don't know how much actual protection this would afford me.

So, any ideas?"

When Dexter's on the Internet, can Hell be far behind?"

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